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of our hearts, as the precept is on its part, to oblige us to it. And indeed the nature of things is a precept to duty, and it which we call the law of nature.
3. Hereupon will follow this further advantage, that your thoughts will be both more easily drawn toward God, and more frequent and constant on him; for delightful objects draw the heart to them, as the loadstone doth the iron. How gladly, and freely, and frequently do you think of your dearest friends. And if did firmly conceive of God, as one that is ten thousand times more gracious, loving and amiable than any friend you have in the world, it would make you not only to love him above all friends, but also more freely, delightfully, and unweariedly to think of him.
4. And then you would hence have this further advantage, that you would have less backwardness to any duty, and less weariness in duty; you would find more delight in prayer, meditation, and speech of God, when once God himself were more lovely and delightful in your eyes.
5. All these advantages would produce a further, that is, the growth of all your graces. For it is impossible, but this growth of Jove, and frequent and delightful thoughts of God, and addresses to him, should cause an increase of all the rest.
6. Hereupon your evidences would be more clear and discernible. For grace in strength and action would be easily found; and would not this resolve all your doubts at once?
7. Yea, the very exercise of these several graces would be comfortable.
8. And hereupon you would have more humble familiarity and communion with God; for love, delight, and frequent addresses, would overcome strangeness and disacquaintance, which make us Aly from God, as a fish, or bird, or wild beast, will from the face of a man, and would give us access with boldness and confidence. And this would banish sadness and terror, as the sun-dispelleth darkness and cold.
9. At least you would hence have this advantage, that the fixed apprehension of God's goodness and merciful nature, would cause a fixed apprehension of the probability of your happiness, as long as you are willing to be happy in God's way. For reason will tell you,
that he who is love itself, and whose goodness is equal to his almightiness, and who hath sworn, that he hath no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he repent and live, will not destroy a poor soul that lieth in submission at his leet, and is so far from resolved rebellion against him, that he grieveth that it is no better, and can please him no more.
10. However, these right apprehensions of God would overcome those terrors which are raised only by false apprehensions of him. And doubtless a very great part of men's causeless troubles, are raised from such misapprehensions of God. For Satan knows, that if he can bring you to think of God as a cruel tyrant and bloodthirsty man-hater, then he can drive you from him in terror, and turn all your love and cheerful obedience into hatred and slavish fear. I say therefore again do not only get, but also fix deep in your understanding, the bighest thoughts of God's natural goodness and graciousness that you possibly can raise. For when they are at the bighest, they come short ten thousand fold.
Object. But God's goodness lieth not in mercy to men, as I have read in great divines; he may be perfectly good, though he should for ever torment the most innocent creatures.'
Answ. These are ignorant, presumptuous intrusions into that which is unsearchable. Where doth scripture say as you say? Judge of God as he revealeth himself, or you will but delude yourself, and abuse him. All bis works represent him merciful ; for “his mercy is over all his works," and legible in them all. His word saith, “he is good, and doth good ;" Psalm cxix. 68. cxlv. 9. How himself doth proclaim his own name, (Exod. xxxiv. 6. 7,) I told you before. The most merciful men are his liveliest image; and therefore he plants mercy in them in their conversion, as a principal part of their new nature. And commands of mercifulness are a great part of his law; and he bids us“ be merciful, as our heavenly Father is merciful ;” Luke vi. 36. Now if this were none of his nature, how could he be the pattern of our new nature herein ? And if he were not infinitely merciful himself, how could we be required to be merciful as he is? Who dare say, 'I am more merciful than God ?'
Object. But God is just as well as merciful;, and for all his merciful nature, he will damn most of the world forever in hell.'
Answ. 1. But James saith, “Mercy rejoiceth against judgment;" James ii. 13. 2. God is necessarily the governor of the world (while there is a world,) and therefore must govern it in justice, and so must not suffer his mercy to be perpetually abused by wicked, wilful, contemptuous sinners. But then consider two things: (1.) That he destroyeth not humble souls that lie at his feet, and are willing to have inercy on his easy terms, but only the stubborn despisers of his mercy. He danineth none but those that will not be saved in his way; that is, that will not accept of Christ and salvation freely given them. (I speak of those that hear the gospel; for others, their case is more unknown to us.) And is it any diminution to his infinite mercy, that he will not save those that will not be entreated to accept of salvation? (2.) And consider how long he useth to wait on sinners, and even beseech them to be reconciled to him, before he destroyeth them; and that he heapeth up multitudes of mercies on them, even in their rebellion, to draw them to repentance, and so to life. And is it unmercifulness yet if such men perish?
Object. But if God were so infinite in mercy, as you say, why doth he not make all these men willing, that so they may be saved ?'
Answ. God having created the world and all things in it, at first, did make them in a certain nature and order, and so establish them às by a fixed law; and he thereupon is their governor, to govern every thing according to its nature. Now man's nature was, to be principled with an inclination to his own happiness, and to be led to it by objects in a moral way, and in the choice of means to be a free agent, and the guider of himself under God. As governor of the rational creature, God doth continue that same course of ruling them by laws, and drawing them by ends and objects as their natores do require. And in this way he is not wanting to them; his laws are now laws of grace, and universal in the tenor of the free gift and promise, for he bath there given life in Christ to all that will have it; and the objects propounded are sufficient in their kind, to work even the most wonderful effects on men's souls, for they are God himself, and Christ and glory. Besides, God giveth men natural faculties, that they may have the use of reason; and there is nothing more unreasonable than to refuse this offered mercy. He
giveth inducing arguments in the written word, and sermons, and addeth such mercies and afflictions, that one should think should bow the hardest heart. Besides, the strivings and motions of his Spirit within, are more than we can give an account of. Now is not this as much as belongs to God as governor of the creature according to its nature ? And for the giving of a new nature, and creating new hearts in men, after all their rebellious rejecting of grace, this is a certain miracle of mercy, and belongs to God in another relation (even as the free chooser of his elect) and not directly as the governor of the universe. This is from his special providence, and the former from his general. Now special providences are not to be as common as the general, nor to subvert God's ordinary, established course of government. If God please to stop Jordan, and dry up the Red Sea for the passage of the Israelites, and to cause the sun to stand still for Joshua, must he do so still for every man in the world, or else be accounted unmerciful? The sense of this objection is plainly this, God is not so rich in mercy, except he will new make all the world, or govern it above its nature. Suppose a king know his subjects to be so wicked, that they have every one a full design to famish or kill themselves, or poison them. selves with something which is enticing by its sweetness, the king not only makes a law, strictly charging them all to forbear to touch that poison, but he sendeth special messengers to entreat them to it, and tell them the danger. If these men will not hear him, but wilfully poison themselves, is he therefore unmerciful? But suppose that he hath three or four of his sons that are infected with the same wickedness, and he will not only command and entreat them, but he will lock them up, or keep the poison from them, or will feed them by violence with better food, is he unmerciful unless he will do so by all the rest of his kingdom?
Lastly. If all this will not satisfy you; consider, (1.) That it is most certain God is love, and infinite in mercy, and hath no pleasure in the death of sinners. (2.) But it is utterly uncertain to us how God worketh on man's will inwardly by his Spirit. (3.) Or yet what intolerable inconvenience there may be if God should work in other ways; therefore we must not upon such uncertainties deny certainties, nor from some unreasonable scruples about the manner
of God's working grace, deny the blessed nature of God, which hinsell hath most evidently proclaimed to the world.
I have said the more of this, because I find Satan harp so much on this string with inany troubled souls, especially on the advantage of some common doctrines. For false doctrine still tends to the overthrow of solid peace and comfort. Remember therefore before all other thoughts for the obtaining of peace, to get high thoughts of the gracious and lovely nature of God.
Direct. IV. Next this, . Be sure that you deeply apprehend the gracious nature, disposition, and office, of the Mediator Jesus Christ.'
Though there can no more be said of the gracious nature of the Son than of the Father's, even that his goodness is infinite ; yet these two advantages this consideration will add unto the former. 1. You will see here goodness and mercy in its condescension, and nearer to you than in the divine nature alone it was. Our thoughts of God are necessarily more strange, because of our infinite distance from the Godhead; and therefore our apprehensions of God's goodness will be the less working, because less familiar. But in Christ, God is come down into our nature, and so Infinite goodness and mercy is incarnate. The man Christ Jesus is able now to save to the utmost all that come to God by him. We have a merciful Higli-Priest that is acquainted with our infirmities. 2. Herein we see the will of God putting forth itself for our help in the most astonishing way that could be imagined. Here is more than merely a gracious inclination. It is an office of saving and shewing mercy also that Christ hath undertaken; even " to seek and to save that which was lost;" to bring home straying souls to God; to be the great Peace-maker between God and man, to reconcile God to man, and man to God; and so to be the Head and Husband of his people. Certainly the devil strangely wrongeth poor, troubled souls in this point, that he can bring them to have such hard, suspicious thoughts of Christ, and so much to overlook the glory of mercy which so shineth in the face of the Son of Mercy itself. How can we more contradict the nature of Christ, and the Gospel description of him, than to think him a destroying hater of his creatures, and one that watchethi for our halting, and bath more mind to VOL. I.