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SERM. Holy Angels, being made altogether equal to them: where
they have all things they can possibly desire, and so are fully satisfied with what they have: where they are as blessed
as God Himself can make them, and have all the honour and Matt.13.43. glory that He can confer upon them : where “they shine forth
as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.” Where, in short, they live as cheerfully, as pleasantly, as honourably, as gloriously, every way as happily, as it is possible for creatures to live, and that too, not only for some time, but for evermore.
Consider these things, and tell me, whether ye do not really think that the righteous are the happiest persons in the world? And whether it be not your interest as well as duty, to endeavour all ye can, to get into the number of them? I am confident you cannot but all acknowledge it; and therefore hope that you will for the future act accordingly. Blessed be God, you are all as yet in a capacity of attaining to it; yea, more than that, you are invited, you are exhorted, you are commanded by Almighty God to “walk in all His Commandments and Ordinances blameless," and so to be righteous before Him. Neither do you want any of the means that can contribute any way towards it. These God hath been pleased to afford to you, and to all that live in the Communion of our Church, in a more than ordinary manner. Let me therefore beseech you in His Name, to use these means so duly, so constantly, so sincerely, so earnestly, that you may at length attain the end of them, that it may be said of every man and wife among you, as it is here of these two, that they are both righteous before God; and that the same may be truly asserted of all single persons, that you are not only hearers but doers of God's Word,
walking in all the Commandments and Ordinances of the Lord blameless.” What an happy society, what a blessed congregation of people would you then be, shining as lights in the world, as all Christians ought to do!
For which purpose therefore, let me beg of you to imprint what you have now heard, so upon your minds, that you may never forget it; but always remember, that as you can never be happy unless you be “ righteous before God;" so you can never be “righteous before God,” except you “walk in all the Commandments and Ordinances of the
Lord blameless." But if you do that as heartily and sincerely as you ought, and as near as possibly you can, you will soon find it worth all the care and pains you take about it: for I dare assure you, in the name of God, that He for His Son's sake will not only pardon what you have hitherto done amiss, but likewise accept of you as righteous before Him, and by consequence, receive you into His protection here, and hereafter into His own kingdom and glory, through the same our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; to whom, &c.
THE GLORY OF GOD, THE FINAL CAUSE OF ALL THINGS.
Prov. xvi. 4.
The Lord hath made all things for Himself, yea, even the
wicked for the day of evil.
SERM. Man being made in the image and likeness of God; so LV.
long as he continued in his first state, he had certainly as (Gen. 1. 26.) perfect a knowledge of God, His will and His works, as such
a creature was capable of. When all the fowls of the air and beasts of the field were brought before him, though he
had never seen them before, yet he knew them so well, that [ch. 2. 19.] he was able to give every one a name suitable to the nature
that God made it of. And although the woman was formed [ver. 22.] of a rib taken out of the man while he was in a deep sleep,
and knew nothing of it while it was doing; yet notwithstanding he no sooner saw her, but he knew that she was taken out of him, and was “bone of his bone, and flesh of his fesh.” These instances are left upon record, that ye may from hence see, what great knowledge man then had of what God had made or done, without any revelation or instruction, but was implanted in his own nature: he no sooner saw a thing, but he knew the nature and the virtues of it, and the end wherefore it was made.
But the case is not so with us now. For by our fall, the faculties of our souls are so broken and disturbed, that of ourselves we know but little of this, and nothing at all of the other world, but only in general, that there is another world as well as this: as it was long ago observed in the Book of Wisdom. Hardly do we guess aright at things
that are upon earth, and with labour do we find the things
: neither can we do that aright without much pains and study, by laying things together, and then gathering one from another as well as we can: and when all this is done, we are but where we were; for we are never certain that we guess aright. As others have been mistaken, so may we; so that we know nothing more certainly, than that we have no certain knowledge of the things of this world. And if we could not be more certain of spiritual things than we are of natural, for all our high conceits, we should be in woeful case.
But whether we are sensible of it ourselves or no, He that made us knows our weakness and ignorance, and hath accordingly of His infinite mercy provided, that we may not be left to such uncertain conjectures, about the affairs that belong to our future state; for He Himself hath acquainted us with them, by revealing to us, not only what He would have us to believe and do, but likewise all that is necessary for us to know concerning Himself, and what He hath done, and still doth, in the world. And as what He hath not told us of, we may be confident it is no matter whether we know it or no : so what He hath been pleased to reveal to us, we may and ought to be as confident that it is most certainly true, in that we have His word for it, who cannot lie. By which means we have the most certain ground that could be made, whereupon to build our faith and knowledge of all things belonging to our everlasting peace.
Now in those revelations which Almighty God hath given us, to make us wise unto Salvation, He hath told us nothing of the second causes which He hath established under Himself, for the production of ordinary effects, that we may not perplex ourselves about them, but always look up to Him, the First Cause, as working by them, or without them, as He sees good. But He hath told us plainly of the final cause or end of all things, that we may keep our eyes always fixed upon that, and accordingly strive all we can to promote it. This He hath declared in several places of the Holy Scriptures, and
SERM. particularly in these words, “ The Lord hath made all things
for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”
For Himself, that is, to exert and manifest Himself, and
His Divine perfections, and so for His own honour and Isa. 43. 21. glory. Thus He Himself explains that phrase, saying, “ This
people have I formed for Myself, they shall shew forth My praise.” He formed them to shew forth His praise, and therefore for Himself, or which is the same, for His glory, as He Himself expresseth it in the same chapter, “ I have created him for My glory.” This is the ultimate end of all things ; neither can we imagine any other, that He could propose to Himself in His wonderful works: for He being the highest, and the only good, in comparison of whom nothing else is good, He could aim at nothing but Himself in what He did : nor at any thing for Himself, but to shew forth the glory of His infinite perfections; that as He Himself had been infinitely happy in the enjoyment of them from all eternity, so others also might see and praise Him for them, by owning or acknowledging of them. This is all that creatures can do for Him from whom they receive their
being. And yet He is pleased to account this glorifying of Ps. 50. 23. Him,“ Whoso offereth praise,” saith He, “ glorifieth Me.”
For this end therefore it was that He made all things.
But the original word signifies not only to make, but to do; and so implies, that He did not only thus make all things for Himself at first, but that He still doth all things for the same end. So that whatsoever He doth, He doth it for His own glory, and will most certainly attain His end in it. But how that should be; how all things redound to the glory of God, is a subject too high for us to reach in this
present low estate; the clear sight of it being reserved for [Col. 1.12.] the inheritance of the Saints in light. But howsoever the
better to raise up our thoughts and affections to our Almighty Creator, we may offer at something towards it from the consideration of His creation of the world, and His redemption of mankind. Under which two great works, is contained more than we can comprehend ; but we notwithstanding may see so much glory shining in them, that if we look steadfastly upon it, it will dazzle our eyes, and fill us with wonder and amazement, at the Author of them.