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where good men fhall be rewarded, is called everlasting X habitations, Luke xvi. g. A houfe eternal in the heavens, 2 Cor. V. I. As the promise of our future reward is founded in the goodnefs of God, and the great stefs of it in his power, fo the duration of it in his eternity. Now, what an encouragement is this to us, that we férve him, and suffer for him, who lives for ever, and will make us happy for ever? When we ferve the great mies of this world, though we be secure of their affection, yet we are uncertain of their lives; and this difcouragerk many, and makes men worship the rising förs, and many times takes off mens eyes from the king, to his succeffor; but he that serves God ferves the King overlafting, as the Apostle calls liim, who will live to difpenfe rewards to all those who are faithful to him.

3. For the terror of wicked men. The fentence which shall be paft upon men at the day of judgment is called Eternal judgment, Heb. vi. 2. because it decides mens eternal late; the punishment that shall follow this sentence, which shall pass upon the wicked, is called E. verlasting punishment, Matth. xxv. 36. Everlasting fire, Matth. XXV. 41. Everlasting destruction, 2 Thess. ii. 9. The vengeance of eternal fire, Jude. 7. The smoke of the bottomless pit is said to afcend for ever and ever, Rev.. xiv. 11. and the wicked to be tormented day and night for ever and ever, Rev. xx. 10. Now, as the punihment of wicked men is founded in the justice of God, and the greatness of it in his power, so the perpetuity and continuance of it in his eternity. The Apostle faith, Heb. x. 38. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; because he that lives for ever can punish for ever; as the eternal demerit of fin feeds and animates, and keeps alive the never-dying worm, fo the wrath of the eternal God blows up the eternal filaine.

How should this awaken in us a fear of the eternal God! Sinners, what a folly is it, for the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season, to incense that justice which will punish and torment you for ever! As good men shall have the everlasting God for their reward, and their happiness, so wicked men shall have bim for their Judge

and avenger.

We fear the wrath of men, whose power is short, and whose breath is in their nostrils, who can afflict but little, and for a little while. Dost thou fear man that fall die, and the fon of man that shall be made as grass? and is not the wrath of the eternal God much more terrible? Luke xii. 4. 5. And I say unto you, my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do; but I will fore-warn you whom ye shall fear ; fear him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell, yea, I say unto you, fear him. The wrath of man is despicable, because it hath bounds and limits; the fury of man can but reach to the body, it can go no farther ; it expires with this life, it cannot follow us beyond the grave: but the wrath of the eternal God doth not only reach the body, but the soul; it is not confined to this life, but pursues us to the other world, and extends itself to all eternity.

Fear him, who after he hath killed, hath power to caft into hell; that is, to inflict eternal torments; yea, I say unto you, fear him.

S E R M ON

CLVI.

The incomprehensibleness of God.

JOB xii. 7. Ganst thon by searching find out God? Canst thou find out

the Almighty unto perfection ?

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N treating of the properties and perfections of God,

I shall at present consider that which results from

the infinite excellency of his nature and perfection, compared with the imperfection of our understandings, which is commonly called the incomprehensibleness of God. This you have expressed here in the words of Zophar, Canft thou by searching find out God? &c.

There is no great difficulty in the words ; Canst thou by searching find out God, potefne pervestigare intima Dei,

so

fo Castalio translates it. Dort thou know God intimately, and thoroughly within and without ? canst thou pierce into the center of his perfections, and dive into the bottom of them ? and canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? Canit thou find out the Almighty, usque ad ultima, to the very last and utmost of him so as thou canst fay, after a thorough search and inquiry, “ There is no perfection in God beyond this; there is

nothing of him now that remain to be known; this “ he is, and no other ; that he is, and no otherwise; “ this he can do, and no more; hither doth his know“ ledge, and power, and wisdom reach, and no far. “ ther.

Canst thou do this? These interrogations have the force of a vehement negation; as if he had said, No, thou canst not; God is unsearchable, he is incomprehenfible.

The two questions in the text seem to be only two several expreifions of the fame thing. The first question is undoubtedly general, concerning the nature and perfections of God in general; Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou by the most diligent search and inquiry come to a perfect knowledge and understanding of him?

The second question may seem to be a particular infance to the general truth implied in the firit question ; he seems to instance in his power, as if he had said, God is unsearchable, and then had instanced in a particular perfection, the power of God, Canst thou by searching find out God? Thou canst not comprehend the divine nature and perfections in general; Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? Consider particularly his power, and see if thou canst know the utmost of that, But I rather think that the latter question is altogether the same in sense with the former; and that the attribute of Almighty, which is here given to God, is used: by way of description, and not intended by way of infance. Gans thou find out the Almighty, that is, God, unto perfection? Which way soever we take the words, it is not much material; we may ground this observation upon them: That God is incomprehensible.

This term or attribute is a relative term, and speaks a relation between an object and a faculty, between God and a created understanding; so that the meaning of it is plainly this, that no created understanding can comprehend God, that is, have a perfect and exact knowledge of him, such a knowledge as is adequate to the perfection of the object : or thus, the nature and perfe&tions of God are above the understanding of any of his creatures; it is only bis own infinite understanding that can frame a perfe& idea of his own perfection. God knows himself, his own understanding comprebends his own perfections. But he is incomprehensible to his oreatures.

Indeed, there is nothing more obvious than God; for he is not far from every one of us; in him we live, and move, and have our being; there needs no great fearch to find out there is a God: An eternal power and deity are clearly feen in the things which are made, as the Apostle tells us; but the manner of the being, and properties, and perfections of this God, thefe cannot be comprehended by a finite understanding. I shall prove the do&trine, and then apply it.

First, For the proof of it: I will attempt it these 1. By way of instance, or induction of particulars. 2. By way of conviction. 3. By giving the clear reason of it.

I. By way of instance. And I shall give you instanees both on the part of the object, and of the subject; or the persons who are capable of knowing. God in any degree.

1. On the part of the object. The nature of God, the excellency and perfection of God, the works and ways of God are above our thoughts and apprehensions. The nature of God, it is valt and infinite, Job xxxvi. 26. God is great, and we know him not. Job xxxvii. 23. Touching the Almighty we cannot find him out. Psal. cxlv. 3. His greatnefs is unfearchable.

The excellencies and perfections of God; his immenfity, 2 Chron. ii. 6. The heaven of heavens cannot contain him: the eternity of his duration, from everlasting to everlasting he is God: we cannot imagine any limits

of

three ways:

of his presence, nor bounds of his duration. The infiniteness of his know ledge, Psal. cxlvii. 5. His understanding is infinite. When we think of the wisdom and knowledge of God, our best way is to fall into admiration, Rom. xi. 35. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

Whereas the scripture speaks of those perfections of God, which the creatures do in some measure and dea gree partake of, as his goodness, and power, and wis: dom, and holiness, and immortality, it attributes them in such a peculiar and divine manner to God, as doth ex: clude and shut out the creature from any claim, or Mare, or title to them, Matth. xix. 16. 17. Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God. 1 Tim. vi. 15. 16. Who is the ble led, and only potentate, who only hath immortality. 1 Tim. i. 17. The only wise God. Rev. xv. 4. For thou only art holy. In so inconceivable a manner doth God possess these perfections which he communicates, and we can only understand them as he communicates them, and not as he possesses them; so that when we consider any of these divine perfections, we must not frame notions of them contrary to what they are in the creature, nor must we limit them by what they are in the creature, but fay, the goodness and the wisdom of God are all this which is in the creature, and much more, which I am not able to comprehend; the transcendent degree, and the fingularity of these divine perfections, which are communicable, is beyond what we are able to conceive.

The works of God; they are likewise unsearchable ; the works of creation and of redemption. Job v. 9. Which doth great things, and unsearchable, marvellous things, past finding out. And then he instanceth in the works of God, Job xxvi. 14. L, these are part of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him and the thunder of his voice who can understand? So that he tells us expresly, we cannot find out the works of God; we do but know part of them. The question which he puts, Job xxxvii. 16. Dost thou know the wondrous works of him that is perfect in knowledge can only be answered by the words of the Pfalmift, Psal. civ. 24. O Lord, how wonderful are thy works! in wisdom haft thou made ther

oll.

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