« ZurückWeiter »
and intentions of glorifying God thereby, and therefore there can be no obligation to any such thing.
2. It is not necefiary, no more than for a man that takes a journey, every step of his way actually to think of his journey's end, and the place whither he intends to go; a constant resolution to go to such a place, and a due care not to go out of the way; and in case of any doubt, to inform ourselves as well as we can of the right way, and to keep in it, is as much confideration of the end of a man's journey, as is needful to bring him thither, and more than this would be troublesome and to no purpose; the case is the very same in the course of a man's life. From whence it follows in the
3. Place, That an habitual and settled intention of mind, to glorify God in the course of our lives, is suf. ficient, because this will serve all good purposes, as well as an actual intention upon every particular occasion. He that doth things with regard to God, and out of conscience of his duty to him, and upon the proper motives and considerations of religion, in obedience and love to God, in hopes of his reward, and out of fear of his displeasure, glorifies God in his actions. And if this principle be but rooted and settled in his mind, it is sufficient to govern his life, and is virtually, and to all purposes, as true and constant an intention of glorify. ing God, as if we did actually and explicitly propound this end to ourselves in every particular action of our lives. . Secondly, Whether a man be bound to prefer the glo ry of God before his own eternal happiness, as Moses and St. Paul seem to have done; the one in being content to have his name blotted out of the book of life, the other to be anathema from Christ, for the Salvation of Ifrael? to this I answer.
If we could admit the supposition, that the glory of God, and a man's eternal happiness might comein coin. petition, there could be no obligation upon a man ro chuse eternal misery upon any confideration whatsoever. The preference of one thing before another, supposeth them both to be subjects of our choice; but the greatest evil, known and apprehended to be so, cannot be the object of a reasonable choice ; neither the greatest mo
ral nor natural evil of sin, or misery. Sin is not to be chosen in any case, no not for the glory of God. 'The Apostle makes the suppofition, and answers it ; that if the truth and glory of God could be promoted by his lie, yet we are not to do evil that good may come, Rom. jii. 7. 8.
Nor is the greatest natural evil the object of our choice. God himself hath planted a principle in our nature to the contrary, to seek our own happiness, and to avoid utter ruin and destruction; and then fure. Jy much more that which is much worse, as eternal mifery is, whatever fome learned men, in despite of nature and common sense, have afferted to the contrary, that it is better and more desirable to be extremely and eternally miserable, than not to be ; for what is there defirable in being, when it ferves to no other purpose but to be the foundation of endless and intolerable misery! and if this be a principle of our nature, can any man imagine that God should frame us so, as to make the first and fundamental principle of it directly opposite to our duty ?
As to the instance of Moses, it does not reach this cafe, because the phrase of blotting out of the book of life, does in all probability signify no more than a temporal death. As to that of St. Paul, it is by no means to be taken in a strict sense, but as a vehement and byperbolical expression of his mighty affection to his brethren according to the files, for whom, says he, I could wife to be an anathema from Chrift. Besides the reason of the thing, the form of the expression shews the neaning of it, I could wish, that is, I would be content to do or fuffer almost any thing for their falvation, insomuch that I could wish, if it were fit and lawful, and reafonable to make such a wish, to be accurfed from Christ for their fakes. It is plainly a suspended form of speech, which declares nothing absolutely. But,
3. It is a vain and senseless fuppofition, that the glo. sy of God, and our eternal happiness can stand in competition. By seeking the glory of God, we naturally and directly proir ote our own happinefs; the glory of God and our happiness are infeparably linked together; we cannot glorify God by fin; and fo gracious bath
God been to us, that he hath made those things to be our duty, which naturally tend to our felicity, and we cannot glorify God more than by doing our duty, nor can we promote our own happiness more effectually than by the same way. From whence it plainly follows, that the glory of God and our happincís cannot reasonably be supposed to cross and contradict one another; and therefore the question is frivolous which supposeth they may come in competition. 1 Cor. xv. 58. the Apostle exhorts Christians to be stedfast and unmoveable, and abundant in the work of the Lord, knowing that their labour Mall not be in vain in the Lord. And Tit. i. 1. 2. the Apostle calls himself, A jervant of Jesus Christ, in hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie hath promised. To serve God in hope of eternal life, is to glorify God; and therefore the glory of God, and our eternal happiness are never to be opposed.
I shall briefly draw two or three inferences from this discourse, and so conclude.
I. See here the great goodness of God to mankind, who is pleased to esteen whatever is for the good of men to be for the glory of God; and whatever tends to the eternal salvation of ourselves, or others, to be a glorifying of himself.
II. We learn hence, likewise, the excellency of the Christian religion, which requires not only a conscientious care of ourselves, to do nothing but what is lawful; .but likewise a charitable regard to others in the use of our liberty ; in the doing or not doing of those things which we may lawfully do; after the securing of our own happiness by doing our duty, we are to consult the edification and salvation of others, in the charitable use of our liberty in those things which God hath left indif ferent.. ..
III. Here is a great argument to us to be very care. ful of our duty, and to abound in the fruits of holiness, because hereby we glorify God. Herein is my Father glorified, says our Saviour, if you bring forth much fruit ; and the Apostle tells us that the fruits of righteousness are to the praise and glory of God. We having all from God, our very being, our souls and bodies, and the powers and faculties of both, and therefore we thould
give him the glory of his own gifts : our fouls and bodies were not only made by him at first, but are likewise redeemed by him, and bought with a price, and therefore, as the Apostle argues, we jould glorify him in our bodies, and in our souls, which are his.
IV. And lastly, we should in all our actions have a particular regard to the honour and advantage of religion, the edification of our brethren, and the peace and unity of the church : because in these things we do in a peculiar manner glorify God. In vain do men pretend to seek the glory of God by faction and division, which do in their own nature so immediately tend to the dishonour and damage of religion. Next to the wicked lives of men, nothing is so great a disparagement and weakening to religion, as the divisions of Christi. ans; and therefore instead of employing our zeal about differences, we should be zealous for peace and unity, . that with one mind, and one mouth, we may glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
SERMON CCXI. Doing good, a security against injuries
1 PET. iii. 13. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of
that which is good?
MT HE Apostle, in this and the former chapter,
earnestly presseth Christians to an holy and 1 unblameable conversation, that the Heathen might have no occasion, from the ill lives of Christians, to reproach Christianity; particularly he cautions them against that abuse of Christian liberty, which it seems too many were guilty of, casting off obedience to their superiors under that pretence ; telling them thas nothing could be a greater scandal to their religion, nor
raise a more just prejudice in the minds of men against it; and therefore he strictly chargeth them with the du. ty of obedience in their several relations; as of subjects to their governors, of servants to their masters, of wives to their husbands; and in short, to practise all those virtues, both among themselves, and towards others, which are apt to reconcile and gain the affections of men to them; to be charitable and compassionate, courteous and peaceable one towards another, and towards all men; not only to abstain from injury and provocation, but from revenge by word or deed; and instead thereof to bless and do good, and by all posible means to preferve and pursue peace. Ver. 8. 9. Fi. nally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing ; knowing that ye are thereunto calleł, that ye fhould inherit a vieling.
And to encourage them to the practice of these vir. tues, he tells them, that they could by no other means more effectually consult the safety and comfort of their lives, ver. 10. For he that will love life, and fee good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his "lips that they Speak no guile ; let him efchew evil, and do good; let him feek peace and ensue it.
And this was the way to gain the favour of God, and to engage bis providence for our protection, ver. 12. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears, are open unto their prayers : but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. .
And that this would also be the best way to recon, cile men to us, and to gain their good-will, and to prevent injuries and affronts from them, ver. 13. And who is he that will harm you, &c.
In these words we have, First, a qualification suppored, If ye be followers of that which is good.
Secondly, The benefit and advantage we may reasonably expe&t from it, viz. Security from, the ill usage and injuries of men. Who is he that will harm you?
First, The qualification supposed is, that we be fola lowers of that which is good. But what is that the Apostle takes it for granted, that every body knows it,