« AnteriorContinuar »
heaven and earth, winds, storms, thunder, and the beasts of the field, to give praise and glory to God. That is, by what they are, they do so, inasmuch as from the impression of God's glorious excellencies in their effects upon them, they are made known and manifest.
2. Involuntary in some rational creatures. Sinning men and angels have no design, no will, no desire to give glory to God. They do their utmost endeavour to the contrary, to hate him, reproach, and blaspheme him. But they cannot yet cast off the yoke of God. In their minds and consciences they are forced, and shall be for ever, to acknowledge that God is infinitely holy, infinitely wise, powerful, and righteous.' And he bath the glory of all these properties from them, in their very desires that he were otherwise. When they would that God were not just to punish them, powerful to torment them, wise to find them out, holy to be displeased with their lusts and sins, they do at the same time, in the same thing, own, acknowledge, and give unto God the glory of his Being, justice, wisdom, power, and holiness. When, therefore, God hath made known his properties, the ascription of glory unto him on their account, is to rational creatures, natural and unavoidable.
3. It is voluntary in the reasonable service, worship, fear, trust, obedience, of angels and men. God having revealed unto them the properties of his nature, they acknowledge, adore them, and place their confidence in them, and thereby glorify them as God. And this glorifying of God consisteth in three things.
1. In making the excellencies of God revealed unto us, the principle and chief object of all the moral actings of our souls, and of all the actings of our affections. To fear the Lord and his goodness, and to fear him for his goodness; to trust in his power and faithfulness, to obey his authority, to delight in his will and grace, to love him above all, because of his excellencies and beauty; this is to glorify him.
2. To pray for, and to rejoice in, the ways and means whereby he will, or hath promised farther to, manifestor declare these properties of his nature and his glory in them. What is the reason why w pray for, long for, the accomplishment of the promises of God towards his saints, of his threatenings towards his enemies, of the fulfilling of the glo
rious works of his power and grace that yet remain to be done, of the coming of the kingdom of Christ, of the approach of glory? Is it not chiefly and principally, that the glorious excellencies of God's nature may be made more manifest, be more known, more exalted; that God may appear more as he is, and as he hath declared himself to be? This is to give glory to God. So likewise our joy, rejoicing, and satisfaction in any of the ways and works of God; it is solely on this account, that in them, God in his properties, that is, his power, wisdom, holiness, and the like, is revealed, declared, and made known.
3. In their joint actual celebration of his praises ; which, as it is a duty of the greatest importance, and which we are indeed of all others most frequently exhorted unto, and most earnestly called upon for; so in the nature of it, it consists in our believing rejoicing expression of what God is, and what he doth; that is, our admiring, adoring, and blessing him, because of his holiness, goodness, and the rest of his properties, and his works of grace and power, suitable unto them. This it is to praise God; Rev. v.
Fourthly, Observe that none of these properties of God can be thus manifested and known, nor himself be glorified for them, but by his declaration of them, and by their effects. We know no more of God than he is pleased to reveal unto us. I mean not mere revelation by his word, but any ways or means, whether by his word, or by his works, or by impressions from the law of nature upon our hearts and minds. And whatever God thus declares of himself, he doth it by exercising, putting forth, and manifesting the effects of it. So we know his power, wisdom, goodness, and grace; namely, by the effects of them, or the works of God that proceed from them, and are suited unto them. And whatever is in God that is not thus made known, we cannot apprehend nor glorify God on the account of it. God therefore doing all things, as hath been shewed, for the glory of these his properties, he doth so reveal them and make them known.
Fifthly, Upon this design of God, it is necessary that he should reveal,and make known all the attributes and properties of his nature, in works and effects peculiarly proceeding from them, and answering unto them, that he might be glorified in them, and which, as the event manifests, that he hath done accordingly. For what reason can be imagined, why God will be glorified in one essential excellency of his nature, and not in another? Especially must this be affirmed of those properties of the nature of God, which the event manifesteth his principal glory to consist in, and arise from, and the knowledge whereof is of the greatest use, behoof, and benefit unto the children of men, in reference unto his design towards them.
Sixthly, These things being so, let us consider how it stands in reference unto that which is under consideration. God in the creation of all things, glorified or manifested his greatness, power, wisdom, and goodness, with many other properties of the like kind. But his sovereignty, righteousness, and holiness, how are they declared hereby ? either not at all, or not in so evident a manner as is necessary,
that he might be fully glorified in them, or for them. What then doth he do? leave them in darkness, veiled, undiscovered, satisfying himself in the glory of those properties which his work of creation had made known? Was there any reason why he should do so, designing to do all things for himself and for his own glory? Wherefore he gives his holy law as a rule of obedience unto men and angels. This plainly reveals his sovereignty or authority over them, his holiness and righteousness in the equity and purity of things he required of them: so that in and by these properties also he may be glorified. As he made all things for himself, that is, the manifestation of his greatness, power, wisdom, and goodness, so he gave the law for himself, that is, the manifestation of his authority, holiness, and righteousness. But is this all ? Is there not remunerative justice in God, in a way of bounty? Is there not vindictive justice in him, in a way of severity ? There is so, and in the pursuit of the design mentioned, they also are to be manifested, or God will not be glorified in them. This therefore he did also in the rewards and punishments that he annexed unto the law of obedience that he had prescribed. To manifest his remunerative justice, he promised a reward in a way of bounty, which the angels that sinned not were made partakers of; and in the penalty threatened, which sinning angels and men incurred, he revealed his vindictive justice in a way of severity. So are all these properties of God made known by their effects, and so is God glorified in them, or on their account.
But after all this, are there no other properties of his nature, divine excellencies that cannot be separated from his being, which by none of these means, are so much as once intimated to be in him ? It is evident that there are; such are mercy, grace, patience, long-suffering, compassion, and the like: concerning which observe,
1. That where there are no objects of them, they cannot be declared, or manifested, or exercised. As God's power or wisdom could not be manifest, if there were no objects of them, no more can his grace or mercy. If never any stand in need of them, they can never be exercised, and consequently never be known. Therefore were they not revealed, neither by the creation of all things, nor by the law or its sanction, nor by the law written in our hearts. For all these suppose no objects of grace and mercy. For it is sinners only, and such as have made themselves miserable by sin, that they can be exercised about.
2. There are no excellencies of God's nature, that are more expressive of divine goodness, loveliness, and beauty, than these are, of mercy, grace, long-suffering, and patience: and therefore there is nothing that God so requireth our likeness unto him, in our conformity unto his image, as in these; namely, mercy, grace, and readiness to forgive. And the contrary frame in any, he doth of all things most abhor, • They shall have judgment without mercy, who shewed no mercy.' And therefore it is certain, that God will be glorified in the manifestation of these properties of his nature.
3. These properties can be no otherwise exercised, and consequently no other ways known, but only in and by the pardon of sin; which puts it beyond all question, that there is forgiveness with God. God will not lose the glory of these his excellencies; he will be revealed in them, he will be known by them, he will be glorified for them; which he could not be, if there were not forgiveness with him: so that here comes in not only the truth, but the necessity of forgiveness also.
Forgiveness manifested in the sending of the Son of God to die for sin. And
from the obligation that is on us to forgive one another.
TWELFTHLY, In the next place, we shall proceed unto that evidence which is the centre wherein all the lines of those foregoing do meet and rest : the fountain of all those streams of refreshment that are in them, that which animates and gives life and efficacy unto them. This lies in God's sending of his Son. The consideration hereof will leave no pretence or excuse unto unbelief in this matter.
To make this evidence more clear and legible, as to what is intended in it, we must consider,
First, What was the rise of this sending we speak of.
First, The rise and spring of it is to be considered. It came forth from the eternal, mutual consent and counsel of the Father and the Son; Zech. vi. 13. The counsel of peace shall be between them both. It is of Christ the branch, of whom he speaks. “He shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.' That is, between God the Father, who sends him, and himself: there lay the counsel of peace-making between God and man, in due time accomplished by him who is our peace;' Eph. ii. 16. So he speaks, Prov. viii. 30, 31.' Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.' They are the words of the Wisdom, that is, of the Son of God. When was this done ? Then I was with him. Why, before the mountains were settled, whilst as yet he had not made the earth nor the fields ;' that is, before the creation of the world, or from eternity; ver. 25, 26. But how then could he rejoice in the habitable parts of the earth? And how could his delights be with the sons of men, seeing as