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fections, and shall be more enlarged, as well as have brighter discoveries of the divine glory: and this shall be attended with a perfect freedom from all the consequences of sin ; such as sorrow, divine desertion, and the many evils that attend us in this present life; as well as from all temptations to it. So that their happiness shall be confirmed and secured to them, and that with this advantage, that it shall be impossible for them to be dispossessed of it. This is certainly the most desirable end, next to the glory of God, that can be intended or pursued by us.(6)
III. This leads us to consider the connexion that there is between our glorifying God and enjoyment of him. God has joined these two together, so that one shall not be attained without the other. It is the highest presumption to expect to be made happy with him for ever, without living to his glory here. For in as much as heaven is a state of perfect blessedness, they, who shall hereafter be possessed of it, must be trained up, or made meet for it; which is the grand design of all the means of
would it be to suppose, that they, who have no regard to the honour of God here, shall be crowned with glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life, in his presence hereafter! Therefore a life of holiness is absolutely necessary to the heavenly blessedness; and since these two are so connected together, they who experience the one, shall not fail of the other; for this is secured to them by the faithfulness of God, who has promised to give grace and glory, Psal. lxxxiv. 11. Therefore, he who begins a good work in them, will perform it, Phil. i. 6. and give them the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls, 1 Pet. i. 8.
From the connexion that there is between our glorifying and enjoying God, we may infer,
1. That it is a very preposterous thing for any one to assign this as a mark of
persons must be content to perish eternally, that God may be glorified. It is true, it is alleged in favour of this supposition, that Moses, and the apostle Paul, seem to give countenance to it; one by saying, Exod. xxxii. 32. If thou wilt forgive their sin; and, if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast written; the other, Rom. ix. 3. I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh.
But to this it may be answered, that Moses, in desiring to be blotted out of the book which God had written, must not be supposed to be willing to perish eternally for Israel's sake; but he
(6). The answer connected with this question makes the glorifying and enjoyment but one end; and thus the enjoyment is supposed to consist in the glorifying God.
is content to be blotted out of the book of the living, or to have his name no more remembered on earth; and seems to decline the honour which God had offered him, when he said, Exod. xxxii. 10. Let me alone, that I may consume them; and I will make of thee a great nation ; he desires not the advancement of his own family, if Israel must cease to be a people, to whom God had promised to be a God.
As for the apostle Paul's wish, it is either, as some suppose, a rash and inconsiderate flight of zeal for God, and so not war. rantable, though in some respects proceeding from a good prin. ciple; or rather, as I humbly conceive the meaning is, he could wish himself accursed from Christ, so far as is consistent with his love; or he is content to be under the external marks of God's displeasure; or deprived of the comfortable sensation of his love, or many of those fruits and effects thereof, which the believer enjoys in this life: for I cannot, in the least, think he desires to be deprived of a real interest in it, or to be eternally separated from Christ, on any condition whatsoever.(c)
(c) It is not probable that the idea of a book of life, which is not to be under stood literally, was at all in use in the days of Moses. The term wxguu used by Paul is not hypothetical, but affirmative, and in the past tense, I did wish, or rather I was wishing to be separated from Christ. The truth of this assertion no one, who is acquainted with bis history, can doubt; for he had been a per. secutor. Such a wish, made after he was a subject of saving grace, would have been unnatural, irrelevant, impious and impossible. It has been nevertheless, ‘zealously contended by some learned and pious modern divines that, “ the benevolent person is disposed, and willing to give up, and relinquish his own inter. est and happiness, when inconsistent with the public good, or the greatest good of the whole."* By benevolence they mean love to being in general, without re. gard to any excellency in that being, “ unless mere existence"t be such. In this they place all virtue, and all religion. And that they may the more clearly dis. tinguish this species of love from that of complacency and gratitude, in which the party ever has his eye upon his own advantage, they usually adopt the phrase disinterested benevolence, yet not wholly discarding the idea of the party's own interest, but viewing it only on the general scale with that of all other beings.
True holiness consists in a disposition, and suitable expressions of it, in con. formity to the revealed will of God; so far as this accords with the good of the whole, such benevolence will run parallel with holiness; but every attempt to substitute any other rule of action or ground of obligation than the authoritatively expressed will of God, approaches the crime of idolatry. It is certainly a very high stand we assume, when we profess to pass by all the amiableness, and es. cellency of the divine character; and all his goodness, and mercy to us; and to love his being only together with created existences, with the same independent, and dignified love of benevolence, which he exercises towards his helpless creatures. All the displays of his perfections and compassions seem designed rather to elicit the affections of complacency and gratitude. That the advantages of religion in this world, and the next may be sought from selfish, and mercenary views is a lamentable truth; but because carnal minds may find their own des. truction in aiming at the blessings which the spiritual only can enjoy, this is no reason wherefore the saints should not find their ultimate interest to accompany their duty in every instance. Accordingly, for their encouragement, the bles, sings of peace, and spiritual consolations here, and of eternal happiness, are exhi. Ds. HOPKINS.
† President Edwards.
2. Since the eternal enjoyment of God is one great end which we ought to have in view, it is no sign of a mercenary spirit to have an eye to the heavenly glory, to quicken us to duty; seeing this is promised by God to those who are faithful, thus, Psal. lxxxiii. 24. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. The like promises we have in many other scriptures, which are designed to excite our desire and hope of this blessedness; therefore the exercise of these graces, from such motives, is far from being unlawful: yea, it is commended in the saints, who are said, Heb. xi. 16. to desira a better country, that is, an heavenly. And Moses is commended for having the recompence of reward in view, when he preferred the reproach of Christ before the treasures of Egypt, ver. 26.
Nevertheless, when this respect to future blessedness is warrantable, it must be considered as an expedient for our glorifying God, while we behold his glory; and when we consider it as a reward, we must not look upon it as what is merited by our service, or conferred in a way of debt, but as a reward of grace, given freely to us, though founded on the merits of Christ.
QUEST. II. How doth it appear that there is a God?
Answ. The very light of nature in man, and the works of
God, declare that there is a God; but his word and Spirit only, do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation. EFORE we enter on the proof of this important doctrine,
let it be premised, that we ought to be able to prove by. arguments, or give a reason of our belief that there is a God.
bited to their view in glowing colours. But this would not have been done if it were essential to the character of their love, that they should be willing to be separated from Christ. That we have by nature a fearful propensity to earthly good, which is vain, illusory, disgusting and debasing, must be acknowledged ; and that we are therefore required to deny our natural selves is known unto every christian.. But it by no means results, that because we must turn away from the temptations of temporal things, we may not aspire to those blessings which are spiritual and eternal
. God himself is eternally happy in his own self complacency, and has encouraged us to expect everlasting happiness from the same source. Jesus Christ, whose benevolence towarls us is an eternal appeal to our gratitude, which supposes a regard to our own interest; in suffering death had respect also in the joy which was set before him, and shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. Love is essential to duty, without which it is forced, and cannot be deemed obedience in the view of him who searches the heart. This has been noticed by the Saviour, but he has omitted those distinctions, which are accounted so important in modern times; yet his doctrines are not less spiritual, than ours after we have sublimated the gospel to the highest pitch of refinement.
1. Because it is the foundation of all natural and revealed religion ; and therefore it must not be received merely by tradition, as though there were no other reason why we believe it; but because others do so, or because we have been instructed herein from our childhood ; for that is unbecoming the dignity and importance of the subject, and would be an instance of great stupidity, especially seeing we have so full and demonstrative an evidence thereof, taken from the whole frame of nature ; in which there is nothing but what affords an argument to confirm our belief that there is a God.
- 2. There is a great deal of atheism in our hearts, by reason whereof we are prone sometimes to call in question the being; perfections, and providence of God. To which we may also add, that the Devil frequently injects atheistical thoughts into our minds; which is a great affliction to us, and renders it necessary that we should use all possible means for our establishment in this great truth.
3. The abounding of atheism in the world, and the boldness of many in arguing against this truth, renders it necessary that we should be able to defend it, that we may stop the mouths of blasphemers, and so plead the cause of God, and assert his being and perfections against those that deny them; as Psal. xiv. 1. The fool, who saith in his heart there is no God.
4. This will greatly tend to establish our faith in those comfortable truths that arise from our interest in him, and give us a more solid foundation for our hope, as excited by his promises, which receive all their force and virtue from those perfections which are implied in the idea of a God.
5. This will make us set a due value on his works, by which we are led to conclude his eternal power and Godhead, and so to admire him in them, Job xxxvi. 24. Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold.
We shall now consider those arguments mentioned in this answer, by which the being of a God may be evinced ; as,
I. From the light of nature in man, by which we understand that reason which he is endowed with, whereby he is distin-guished from, and rendered superior to, all other creatures in this lower world, whereby he is able to observe the connexion of things, and their dependence on one another, and infer those consequences which may be deduced from thence. These reasoning powers, indeed, are very much sullied, depraved, and weakened, by our apostacy from God, but not wholly obliterated; so that there are some remains thereof, which are common to all nations, whereby, without the help of special revelation it may be known that there is a God.
But this either respects the principle of reasoning, which we were born with, upon the account whereof infants are called in
telligent creatures ; or the exercise thereof in a discursive way, in the adult, who only are capable to discern this truth, which they do more or less, in proportion to their natural capacity, as they make advances in the knowledge of other things. Now for the proof of the being of a God from the light of nature, let the following propositions be considered in their respective order.
1. There hath been, for many ages past, a succession of creatures in the world. (d)
2. These creatures could not make themselves, for that which is nothing cannot act ; if it makes itself, it acts before it
(d) “As for our own existence, we perceive it so plainly, and so certainly, that it neither needs, nor is capable of any proof. For nothing can be more evident to us than our own existence; I think, I reason, I feel pleasure and pain: can any of these be more evident to me, than my own existence? If I doubt of all other things, that very doubt makes me perceive my own existence, and will not suffer me to doubt of that. For if I know I feel pain, it is evident I have as certain perception of my own existence, as of the existence of the pain I feel: or, if I know I doubt, I have as certain perception of the existence of the thing doubting, as of that thought which I call doubt. Experience then convinces us, that we have an intuitive knowledge of our own existence, and an internal infallible perception that we are. In every act of sensation, reasoning or thinking, we are conscious to ourselves of our own being, and, in this matter, come not short of the highest de. gree of certainty."
" In the next place, man knows by an intuitive certainty, that bare nothing can no more produce any real being, than it can be equal to tzuo right angles. If a man knows not that non-entity, or he absence of all being, cannot be equal to two right angles, it is impossible he should know any demonstration in Enclid. If, therefore, we know there is some real being, and that non-entity cannot produce airy real being, it is an evident demonstration, that from eternity there has been something ; since what was not from eternity, had a beginning, and what had a beginning, must be produced by something else.
Next, it is evident, that what had its being and beginning from another, must also have all that which is in, and belongs to its being from another too. All the powers it has must be owing to, and received from the same source. This eter. nal source, then, of all being, must also be the source and original of all power; and so this eternal Being muet be also the most powerful.
Again, a man finds in himself perception and knowledge. We have then got one step farther ; and we are certain now, that there is not only some being, but some knowing intelligent being in the world.
There was a time, then, when there was no knowing being, and when know. ledge began to be; or else there has been also a knowing being from eternity. If it bę said, there was a time when no being had any knowledge, when that eternal Being was void of all understanding: 1 reply, that then it was impossible there should ever have been any knowledge; it being as impossible that things wholly võid of knowledge, and operating blindly, and without any perception, should produce a knowing being, as it is impossible that a triangle should make itself three angles bigger than two right oires. For it is as repugpant to the idea of senseless matter, that it should put into itself sense, perception and knowledge, as it is repugnant to the idea of a triangle, that it should put into itself greater angles than two right ones.
Thus, from the consideration of ourselves, and what we infallibly find in our own constitutions, our reason leads us to the knowledge of this certain and evi. dent truth, that there is an eternal, most powerful, and most knowing being ; which whether any one will please to call God, it matters not. The thing is evident, and