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mysterious, nothing so seemingly low and outwardly contemptible, but that a gracious soul hath experience of an excellency, reality, power, and efficacy in it all. For instance; look on that which concerns the order and worship of the gospel : this seems to many to be a mere external thing, whereof a soul can have no inward sense or relish. Notions there are many about it, and endless contentions, but what more? why let a gracious soul, in simplicity and sincerity of spirit, give up himself to walk with Christ according to his appointment, and he shall quickly find such a taste and relish in the fellowship of the gospel, in the communion of saints, and of Christ amongst them, as that he shall come up to such riches of assurance in the understanding and acknowledgment of the ways of the Lord, as others by their disputing can never attain unto. What is so high, glorious, and mysterious as the doctrine of the ever blessed Trinity ? Some wise men have thought meet to keep it veiled from ordinary Christians; and some have delivered it in such terms, as that they can understand nothing by them. But take a believer who hath tasted how gracious the Lord is, in the eternal love of the Father, the great undertaking of the Son in the work of mediation and redemption, with the almighty work of the Spirit creating grace and comfort in the soul, and hath had an experience of the love, holiness, and power of God in them all, and he will with more firm confidence adhere to this mysterious truth ; being led into it and confirmed in it, by some few plain testimonies of the word, than a thousand disputers shall do, who only have the notion of it in their minds. Let a real trial come, and this will appear. Few will be found to sacrifice their lives on bare speculations. Experience will give assurance and stability.
We have thus cleared the credit of the testimony, now to be improved. It is evident on these grounds, that there is a great certainty in those truths, whereof believers have experience. Where they communicate their power unto the heart, they give an unquestionable assurance of their truths. And when that is once realized in the soul, all disputes about it are put to silence.
These things being so, let us inquire into the faith and experience of the saints on the earth, as to what they know
of the truth proposed unto confirmation, namely, that there is forgiveness with God. Let us go to some poor soul that now walks comfortably under the light of God's countenance, and say unto him, Did we not know you some while since to be full of sadness, and great anxiety of spirit; yea, sorrowful almost to death, and bitter in soul?
Ans. Yes, saith he, so it was indeed; my days were consumed with mourning, and my life with sorrow; and. I walked heavily in fear and bitterness of spirit all the day long
Why, what ailed you, what was the matter with you; seeing as to the outward things you were in peace?
Ans. The law of God had laid hold upon me, and slain me; I found myself thereby a woful sinner, yea, overwhelmed with the guilt of sin. Every moment I expected tribulation and wrath from the hand of God'; 'my sore ran in the night and ceased not, and my soul refused comfort.'
How is it then that you are thus delivered, that you are no more sad? Where have
you found ease and peace ? have you been by any means delivered, or did your trouble wear off, and depart of its own accord ?
Ans. Alas no ! had I not met with an effectual remedy, I had sunk and everlastingly perished. What course did
take ? Ans. I went unto him by Jesus Christ against whom I have sinned, and have found him better unto me than I could expect, or ever should have believed, had not he overpowered my heart by his Spirit. Instead of wrath, which I feared, and that justly, because I had deserved it, he said unto me in Christ, fury is not in me.' For a long time I thought it impossible that there should be mercy and pardon for me, or such a one as I. But he still supported me, sometimes by one means, sometimes by another; until taking my
soul near to himself, he caused me to see the folly of my unbelieving heart, and the vileness of the hard thoughts I had of him, and that indeed there is with him forgiveness and plenteous redemption. This hath taken away all my sorrows, and given me quietness with rest and assurance.
But are you sure now that this is so ? may you not possibly be deceived ?
Ans. Says the soul; I have not the least suspicion of any
such matter ; and if at any time aught doth arise to that purpose, it is quickly overcome.
But how are you confirmed in this persuasion ?
Ans. That sense of it which I have in my heart, that sweetness and rest which I have experience of, that influence it hath upon my soul, that obligation I find laid upon me by it unto all thankful obedience; that relief, supportment, and consolation that it hath afforded me in trials and troubles, in the mouth of the grave, and entrances of eternity, all answering what is declared concerning these things in the word, will not suffer me to be deceived. I could not indeed receive it, until God was pleased to speak it unto me. But now let Satan do his utmost, I shall never cease to bear this testimony, that there is mercy and forgiveness with him.
How many thousands may we find of these in the world, who have had such a seal of this truth in their hearts, as they cannot only securely lay down their lives in the confirmation of it, if called thereunto, but also do cheerfully and triumphantly venture their eternal concernments upon it. Yea, this is the rise of all that peace, serenity of mind, and strong consolation which in this world they are made partakers of.
Now this is to me, on the principles before laid down, an evidence great and important. God hath not manifested this truth unto the saints, thus copied it out of his word, and exemplified it in their souls, to leave them under any possibility of being deceived.
Institution of religious worship an evidence of forgiveness. Seventhly, God's institution of religious worship and honour therein to be rendered unto him by sinners, is another evidence, that there is forgiveness with him. I have instanced before in one particular of worship to this purpose; namely, in that of sacrifices. But therein we intended only their particular nature and signification, how they declared and manifested reconciliation, atonement, and pardon.' That now aimed at, is to shew, how all the worship that God hath appointed unto us, and all the honour which we give unto his holy majesty thereby, is built upon the same foundation, namely, à supposition of forgiveness; and is appointed to teach it, and to ascertain us of it, which shall briefly be declared. To this end observe,
1. That the general end of all divine and religious worship is to raise unto God a revenue of glory out of the creation. Such is God's infinite natural self-sufficiency, that he stands in need of no such glory and honour. He was in himself no less infinitely and eternally glorious, before the creation of all or any thing whatever, than he will be, when he shall be encompassed about with the praises of all the works of his hands. And such is his absolute perfection, that no honour given unto him, no admiration of him, no ascription of glory and praise, can add any thing unto him. Hence, saith the psalmist, ' My goodness extends not unto thee;' Psal. xvi. 2. It doth not so reach thee as to add unto thee, to profit thee, as it may do the saints that are on earth. As he in Job, chap. xxii. 23. Can a man be profitable unto God, as a man that is wise may be profitable unto himself ?' Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous, or is it gain unto him that thou makest thy ways perfect ? There is no doubt, but that it is well-pleasing unto God, that we should be righteous and upright. But we do him not a pleasure therein, as though he stood in need of it, or it were advantage or gain unto him. And again, chap. xxxv, 7. 'If thou be righteous, what givest thou him, or what receiveth he at thine hand ?' And the reason of all this the apostle gives us, Rom. xi. 36. ‘Of him, and through him, and to him are all things.' Being the first sovereign cause, and last absolute end of all things, every way perfect and self-sufficient, nothing can be added unto him. Or, as the same apostle speaks, 'God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, is not worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth unto all life, and breath, and all things;' Acts xvii. 24, 25. As he himself pleads at large, Psal. l. 7-13.
2. Wherefore, all the revenue of glory that God will receive by his worship depends merely on his own voluntary choice and appointment. All worship, I say, depends now on the sovereign will and pleasure of God. It is true, there is a natural worship due from rational creatures, by the law of their creation. This was indispensably and absolutely necessary at first. The very being of God, and order of things required that it should be so. Supposing that God had made such creatures as we are, it could not be, but that moral obedience was due unto him; namely, that he should be believed in, trusted and obeyed as the first cause, last end, and sovereign Lord of all. But the entrance of sin, laying the sinner absolutely under the curse of God, utterly put an end to this order of things. Man was now to have perished immediately, and an end to be put unto the law of this obedience. But here, in the sovereign will of God, an interposition was made between sin and the sentence; and man was respited from destruction. All worship following hereon, even that which was before natural by the law of creation, is now resolved into an arbitrary act of God's will.
And unto this end is all worship designed, namely, to give glory unto God. For as God hath said, that he will be sanctified in all that draw nigh unto him,' that is, in his worship, and that therein ‘he will be glorified,' Lev. x. 3. and, that he that offereth him praise,' that is, performeth any part of his worship and service, 'glorifieth him,' Psal. 1. 23. so the nature of the thing itself declareth that it can have no other end. By this he hath all his glory even from the inanimate creation.
Consider, that God hath not prescribed any worship of himself, unto the angels that sinned. They are indeed under his power, and he useth them as he pleaseth to serve the ends of his holy providence. Bounds he prescribes unto them by his power, and keeps them in dread of the full execution of his wrath. But he requires not of them that they should believe in him. They believe indeed, and tremble. They have a natural apprehension of the being, power, providence, holiness, and righteousness of God, which is inseparable from their natures, and they have an expectation from thence of that punishment and vengeance which is due unto them, which is inseparable from them as sinners. And this is their faith. But to believe in God, that is, to put their trust in him, to resign up themselves unto him, God requires it not of them. The same is the case with them also, as to love, and fear, and delight, all inward affec