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It is necessary, to make us fear God, that we should see bodies, various parts, and prodigious masses of matter, march at his word to fulfil his will? Well, Behold bodies, in various parts and in vast masses ! Behold universal nature moving at his word, and fulfilling his will! Let us fear God in this view of him, if our minds enveloped in matter cannot conceive an idea of a Being, whose will is self-efficient, and why alone can act on immaterial souls. But, my brea thren, a mind accustomed to meditation hath no occasion for this last notion: the first absorbs all. A God, every act of whose will is effectual, is alone worthy of the homage of fear. A just notion of his power renders all ideas of means useless. The power of God hath no need of means. Were I existing alone with God, God could make me supremely happy, or supremely miserable: one act of his will is sufficient to do either. We do not mean to enlarge the idea, when, speaking of an all-sufficient Creator, who is superior to the want of means, we treat of a concurrence of creatures : we only mean to level the subject to the capacities of some of our hearers.
Let us sum up what has been said. To consider a creature as the cause of human felicity is to pay him the homage of adoration, and to commit idolatry. The avaricious man is an idolater; the ambitious man is an idolater ; the voluptuous man is an idolater: And to render to a creature, the homage of fear is also idolatry; for supreme fear is as much due to God alone as supreme hope. He, who fears war, and doth not fear the God, who sends war, is an idolater. He, who fears the plague, and who doth not fear the God, who sends the plague, is an idolater.
It is idolatry, in public, or in private adversities, to have recourse to second causes, to little subordinate deities, so as to neglect to appease the wrath of the Supreme God. To consult the wise, to assemble a council, to man fleets, to raise armies, to build forts, to elevate ramparts, and not to consider the succour of heaven, which alone is capable of giving success to all such means, is to be guilty of idolatry. Isaiah reproveth the Jews in the most severe manner for this kind of idolatry. In that day, saith the prophet, speaking of the precautions which they had taken to prevent the de- . signs of their enemies ; In that day thou didst look to the armour of the house of the forest. Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool. And ye have numbered the
houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have yè broken down to fortify the wall. Ye have made also a ditch between the two walls, for the water of the old pool : but ye have not looked unto the Maker of this Jerusalem,' neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago. And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth : and behold joy and gladness, slaying oren, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine; let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die. And it was revealeil in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged froin you till ye die, saith the Lord of hosts, chap. xxii. 8.-11. Do we deserve less cutting reproaches ? In that day, in the day of our public and private calamities, we have consulted wise men, we have assembled councils, we have fitted our fleets, and raised armies, we have pretended by them to secure these provinces fruin impending dangers, and we have not had respect unto him that fashioned them long ago. Bnt what are wise men ? What are councils ? What are navies? What are armies, and fortifications, but subordinate beings, which God directs as he pleaseth? Ah! ye penitential tears, ye days of sackcloth and ashes, ye solemn humiliations, ye sighs that ascend to God, ye fervent prayers, ye saints, who impart your souls in fervour; and above all, ye sincere conversions to the King of nations, love to his laws, obedience to his commands, submission to his will, tenderness to his people, zeal for his altar, devotedness to his worship; if ye do not prevail with the King of nations to favour our designs, what must our destiny be? And ye tragical designs, black attempts, shamefni plots, impure associations, criminal intrigues, execrable oaths, atrocious calumnies, cruel falshoods, with what oceans of misery will'ye overflow us, if ye the King of nations against us.
To conclude. There is much imbecility, if no idolatry, in us, if, while we fear God, we stand in too much awe of second causes, which sometimes appear terrible to us. No, no, revolution of ages, subversion of states, domestic seditions, foreign invasions, contagious sicknesses, sudden and untimely deaths, ye are only the servants of that God, whose favourite creature I am.
If, by his command, ye execute some terrible order on me, I will receive it as a comfortable order, because it is executed only for my good. Trouble my peace: perhaps it may be fatal to me. Turn the tide of iny VOL, I. Mir
prosperity, which seems to constitute my glory: perhaps it may be dangerous to me. Snap the silken bonds, which bind me to objects, that have so much influence on the happiness of my life : perhaps they may become my idols. Pluck out my eyes, cut off my hands : perhaps they may cause me to offend, and may plunge me into the bottomless abyss, Matt. xviii 8. Bind me to a crúss: provided it be my Saviour's cross. Cut the thread of my life: provided the gates of immortal happiness be opened to me.
Christians, let us satiate our souls with these meditations. Let us give up our hearts to these emotions. Let us fear God, and let us fear nothing else. Fear not, thou worm Jacob. Fear thou not, for I am with thee: Be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee, yea, :
I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the holy one of Israel. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations ? for to thee doth it appertain, Isa. xli. 10, 14. May God inspire us with these sentiments ! To him be honour and glory for eyer! Amen,
THE MANNER OF PRAISING GOD.
Preached after the administration of the Lord's Supper.
PSALM Xxxiii. I.
Praise is comely for the upright.
THERE is something very noble, my brethren, in the
I end for which we are now assembled in the presence of God. His Providence hath infinitely diversified the conditions of those who compose this assembly. Some are placed in the most eminent, others in the most obscure posts of society. Some live in splendor and opulence; others in meanness and indigence. One is employed in the turbulence of the army, another in the silence of the study. Notwithstanding this infinite variety of employments, ranks, and ages, we all assemble to-day in one place; one object occupies us; one sentiment animates us; one voice makes the church resound, Praise ye the Lord, for his mercy endureth for ever, Psal. cxxxvi. 1. If there be an object, that can give a mortal any ideas of the first impressions, which are made on a soul, at its first entering the glorious palace of the blessed God in heaven, it is this. The first objects, that strike such a soul, are multitudes of all nations, tongues, and people, concentered in a meditation on the beneficence of God, prostrating themselves before his throne, casting their crowns at his feet, and crying out of the abundance of their hearts, which contemplate the perfections of a Being worthy of their profoundest praise, Amen, Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and M m 2
might, be unto our God, for ever and ever, Amen, Rev. vii. 12. We give thee thanks, 0) Lord God almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned, chap. x. 17. Great ard marvellous are thy works, Lord God almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou king of saints! chap. xv. 3. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen, chap. i. 5, 6. This is the employment of the blessed in heaven: this is what we are doing to day on earth.
But what a contradiction, what a contrast appears, when, lifting up the exterior habit of piety, that covers some of us, we examine the inward dispositions of the heart. The psalms, which are uttered with the voice, are contradicted by the tempers of the heart. The mouths, that were just now opened to bless the Creator, will presently be opened again to blaspheme and to curse him. The praises, which seemed so proper to please him in whose honour they were offered, will incur this reproof, Thou wicked man! What hast thou to do to take my covenant in thy mouth? Psal. 1. 16.
My brethren, if we would join our voices with those of angels, we must have the sentiments of angels. We must, (at least, as far as the duty is imitable by such frail creatures) we must, in order to worship God, as those happy spirits praise him, love him as they do, serve him as they do, devote ourselves to him as they devote themselves to him; and this is the manner of praising God, to which I exhort, and in which I would endeavour to instruct you to day, agreeably to the prophet's exalted notion of it in the words of the text. What day can be more proper to inspire such a noble design? What day can be more proper to engage you to mix your worship with that of glorified intelligences, than this, on which we are come unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, and to the first-born which are written in heaven? Hleb. xii. 22, 23.
But, who are we, to be admitted into a society so holy? Great God! Thou dost appear to us to day, as thou didst formerly to thy prophet, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and thy train filling the temple, Isa. vi. 1. Around thee stand the Seraphims, covering themselves with their wings in thy majestic presence, and crying one to