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Jer. vii. 23. Our souls must be at his beck in every thing, and in every case.
Now, consider that these duties are here required of us in their perfection. None of them must thrust out another, but each of them appear in its proper place. We are obliged thereby to use all means leading thereto, and abstain from every thing that may hinder the same, both in ourselves and others.
Use 1. The commandment is exceeding broad, Psal. cxix. 96. They but deceive themselves that stick in the letter of it, and take it not up in its spirituality and extent. They falsify the measure, and no wonder they deceive themselves when they measure themselves by it, Rom. vii. 9. Were many of us put to the trial on this command, we would plead not guilty, because not gross idolaters. But, alas! if we viewed this command in its spirituality and extent, we would be forced to plead guilty, in respect of our not know. ing and acknowledging God to be the only true God, and our God, and not worshipping and glorifying him accordingly.
2. Let these things serve to convince us of our sin, and deeply to humble us, Psal. xix. 12. This preaching of the commands is a glass held before your face, wherein you may see your spots. O look unto it, that ye may see what are your sins! And when ye go home, go over these things in your meditation.
3. Learn from hence the impossibility of salvation by the way of the law, or keeping the commandments. Ye have heard yet but a part of the explication of one of these commands; but durst ye venture your salvation on the fulfilling of this one part of this one? How then can ye think to be capable enough for them all ? • 4. See the infinite obligations we lie under to Christ, for that he was made under the law, exactly fulfilled it in every point, and offers us his righteousness, whereby we may answer all the demands of the law in point of justification.
5. See the absolute need ye have of Christ. Look rightly on these commands as your creditors, behold the articles they charge on you as just debt, and ye will see you must have a cautioner. Ye need Christ,
(1.) For justification and pardon, to remove the guilt ye
but a palce venture How then
have contracted. There is need of blood to wash away that
(2.) For sanctification. Here is the rule of your life. To each of these duties, and other duties, ye must set yourselves. Have ye not need of his spirit to strengthen, incline, and make you persevere therein ?
* II. I come now to the negative part of this command. i The first command forbiddeth the denying, or not wor
shipping and glorifying the true God, as God, and our God; and the giving that worship and glory to any other which is due to him alone.'
There are three sins chiefly forbidden in this commandment. 1. Atheism. 2. Profaneness. 3. Idolatry.
FIRST, Atheism is here forbidden. It is the denying of God, a sin that overturns all religion by the root, Prov. xxx. 6. It is twofold; speculative in the judgment, and practical in the conversation.
First, There is a speculative atheism, which has its seat in the corrupt mind of man. It is also twofold; one striking simply at the being of a God, another at the being only of the true God manifested to us in his word. Both these are forbidden here ; for the command says two things : I. Thou shalt have a God. 2. Thou shalt have me for thy God.
1. Then there is absolute speculative atheism, when men's hearts are so filled by Satan, that they do not believe there is a God at all, Psal. xiv. 1. I do not think that any person can arrive at a constant, habitual, uninterrupted atheism of this sort, more than they can destroy the being of their own souls, God has so interwoven the notion of his being with the very make of the soul. But such a conclusion they may come to lay down, and labour habitually to maintain it against themselves and others. This is consummate atheism.
There is also an initial atheism; that is, doubting of the í being of a God, the mind going from one side to another,
doubting whether there be a God or not. This arises from man's natural corruption, and is often carried on by Satanical injections. We have all atheistical thoughts. They may be found both in godly and wicked men. But in the godly
especially, as they arise from Satan, they will be found exoceeding heavy and tormenting. Men may reason against VOL. II.
them, but the best cure is prayer, with God's manifesting himself to the soul.
Atheism, less or more, is a dreadful sini. 1. It is of a most malignant nature, striking at the very being of God, and so plucking up all religious worship and service to God by the roots : - For he that cometh unto God, must believe that he is,' Heb. xi. 6. 2. It is most contrary to the light of nature, and does violence even to a natural conscience. It is a flying in the face of nature and revelation at once. 3. It is destructive to human society : for take away the notion of a God from amongst men, there would be no living more than among wild beasts. Lastly, It is a sin whereof devils are not guilty; for, however they foster it among men, they yet believe and tremble, James ii. 19. But if nothing else do, death and hell, where there are no atheists nor atheistical thoughts, will cure the disease.
2. There is a comparative speculative atheism, when men, though they deny not the being of a God, yet do not believe the true God, as manifested in the scriptures, is he.So they have not him for their God, and therefore are a. theists in scripture style, Eph. ii. 12. Such are Heathens, Jews, Turks, Deists, Socinians, and others, who do not be lieve one God in three persons, denying any of the three, 1 John. ii. 23. Such receive an idol of their own fancy, but deny the true God. This is condemned here, and so is all doubting leading thereunto. And the least hankering that makes men come short of a full persuasion of what God is, as he is revealed in his word and works, is a sin here prohibited.
There are two things which ye should take heed of as tending to atheism. 1. The influence of prosperity on a corrupt heart, which is like that of the sun on a dunghill, Prov. xxx. 9. and therefore often is that added to threatenings, They shall know that I am the Lord.' This should make afflictions welcome as antidotes against atheism. 2. Doubting or denying of providence, Mal. iii. 14, 15. Psal. lxxiii. 13. If men once get God excluded from the earth, it is a great step to the excluding him out of heaven too. - 3. There is practical atheism, which is a denying of God in our works, Tit. i. 16. These have a language for or against God which he understands, yea, even men too sometimes, Psal. xxxvi, 1. It is much alike what principles men I have, when their practice is nothing but a contradiction to
thein, when the web of principles in their head is every day at opened out by their conversation. This practical atheism is
opposite to that acknowledgement of God as the true God spoken of before. Accordingly it is twofold.
Ist. Practical heart-atheism, which is, when men entertain no frame of spirit suitable to what God has revealed of himself in his word and works, Psal. xiv. 1, 2, 3. And may not that be a confounding question to us on that point, Mal. i. 6. If I be a father, where is mine honour ? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts." God is light, which discovers itself wherever it is; but if we look into our hearts, we will quickly find oft-times that he is not there, by an absolute unsuitableness in them to his presence; that they are in no other case than if indeed there were no God; so that if de non apparentibus et non existentibus eadem est ratio, how oft and justly are we chargeable as atheists?
To instance in a few things. God is a spirit but how do we put him off with mere bodily service, as if we were serving an idol ? Isa. xxix. 13. God is omnipresent; but though we should act as before him every where yet it is scarcely done any where. How often does our heart find a great deal of sinful liberty in one place which it has not in another; and to do that fearlessly in secret, which men would be ashamed to do before a child ? He is omniscient; yet what a deal of security do men seem to have from secrecy, while the thoughts of God abide within their own breast, as if he no more saw our thoughts than men do? He is omnipotent; but how soon are we at giving up all for lost in difficulties to us inextricable? and how little awe is there of God on our spirits, when we are in ways wherein his power is engaged against us? What is all this but heart. atheism originally?
If we consider how we handle his word, heard, or read, his promises, threatnings, commands, and how little our hearts are influenced thereby, suitably to what is read or heard, much heart-atheism will appear; so that when we are closing the Bible, or going out of the church-door, the lan. guage of our hearts in effect would often be found, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil, for practi. cally they seem to be but idle tales,
If we consider how little God's works influence us, much heart-atheism will appear. I am sure, that men's hearts often, when they behold the works of creation, could do no less than they do, if the world had been made by a fortuitous concurse of atoms, that is, to pass them unregarded. And for his providence under crosses, how often are men like the dog that snarls at the stone, but looks not after the hand that threw it? and in mercies as the fed horse, that greedily falls to his hay, but regards not him that laid it before him, but to kick at him? And as to the work of redemption, it is not seen, believed, or laid stress upon, by the most part of the world, and those that do, how often do they lay their weight on it but at a venture, as afraid it would break with it?
2dly, Practical life-atheism, which is when men carry be. fore the world as if there were no God, Psal. xxxvi. 1.Such are,
(1.) The factors for atheism in the world, who, by their studio devilish reasonings, mockings, and cavils at religion, do what 173 they can to banish the notion of a God out of the world.
(2.) Those who, as they have no religion, make as little profession of it. God indeed is not their God, and as little do they avouch him to be so. They are none of God's servants, and they will not wear his livery.
3. Those who, whatever they profess, yet live as if there is were no God, no heaven, no hell, but the Bible were a ser fable. There is a spice of this life-atheism in all the irre. ! 1. gularities and disorders of our lives wherein our actions do fim contradict our principles of God.
(4.) Lastly, Those who having had a profession, do at 4 am length quit it. · Their leaf faileth and falleth. [1.] There and are some whose leaf fadeth, as the leaf of a tree in harvest, die through want of sap from the stock, and so falls off. There are not a few at this day of that sort, who sometimes were blooming professors, but now they have lost leaf as well as fruit; and nothing ailed them to loose it, but just that the root of the matter was never in them. They have drawn back, and have not staid till they had been driven back. [2.] There are some whose leaf falleth, like the leaf of a tree in summer, by a stormy wind of persecution. They would keep their leaf if it would always abide calm; but they can. not abide the shock of persecution, and so, rather than dedy
Sants, and they wiwhatever they pro but the Bibl