Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

precept: And, Lastly, Conclude, by directing you tfr a suitable improvement.

I. We propose, first, to show you, in what manner we are to conceive of God as persect.

As foon as the mind of man has arrived at the exercise of reafon, and is led into inquiries concerning the Supreme Being, the sirst and most obvious attributes that occur to him, are, his majesty and. -greatness. These, it is true, will, at sirst, sill him with; amazement only; but if he considers them more attentively, they will excite his love and veneration, as involving in them supreme goodness, and every possible persection. It is difficult indeed for us, who are sinite and limited in our understanding, to arrive at any due apprehension of such a Being. But we should endeavour, as far as we are able, to conceive of him, as insinitely removed from every thing unworthy or immoral; from every kind and degree of impersection; and as possessed of the highest degree of excellence.'

1. We ought to conceive of God, as insinitely removed from every kind and degree of impersection. Such is the constitution of the human mind, that our esteem for the Deity, and our demeanour towards 'him, are infallibly regulated by the ideas we have formed of his nature. If we conceive of him, as what •he really is, abfolutely persect and excellent, this will naturally produce in us, correspondent affections of veneration and love, and promote such a spiritual worship as becomes his glorious Majesty. But, to ascribe impersection to God, to blemish his spotlessnature with the least degree of impurity, is to strike at the foundation of all religion; it is to destroy the clearest and most essential notion we have of him, and to banish real virtue out os the world. Hence we sind the Spirit of God, in scripture, guarding us. •with the utmost care against every unworthy concep2 A 2 tion! tion of God. There, holiness is frequently ascribed to hinf, and with peculiar marks of distinction. u Thou art not a God that hast pleasure in wicked"ness, neither shall evil dwell with thee. Sinngrs

shall not stand in thy sight, and thou hatest the "workers of iniquity."—" Far be it from God," fays Elihu in the book of Job, " that he should do wick"edness, and from the Almighty, that he should

commit iniquity: yea, surely God will not do wick** edly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment." He is elsewhere faid to be "a God of truth, and witb"out iniquity. With him there is no variableness nor "shadow of turning. What shall wie fay, then? Is "there unrighteousness with God? God forbid." Many other pasfages to the fame purpose might be quoted; but these are sufficient to evince, that the divine nature is insinitely removed from every thing unworthy or immoral.

2. We ought likewise to conceive of God, as possessed of the highest degrees of excellence and perfectkn.

We must not pretend to confine his excellence within the narrow limits of our thoughts, as if no persection, or degree of persection, could belong to God, tut what is conceivable by us. No; we ought to think of him as boundless and unlimited, and insinitely exceeding our highestvconceptions. Our imagination is too circumscribed to receive fo vast an object; when we have enlarged it to the utmost, it must still remain insinitely short of the truth. We may as well think to measure the waters in the hollow of our hand, and to mete out the heavens with a span, as to comprehend insinite persection, and extend onr thoughts to Divine immensity. "Behold," fays Elihu, -" God

is great,.and we know him not. Touching the Al"mighty, we cannot sind him out. Who can by "searching sind.out Go^i? who can sind out the Al mighty to persection? It is high as heaven, what

"can :c can we do? deeper than hell, what can we know? * the measure thereof is longer than the earth, and ;i broader than the sea."

We ought therefore to conceive of God, as possessed of every possible persection. And this in some instances has been dictated by nature herself. Hence the wisest among the Heathens represent him as the most excellent, and persect; the greatest, and the best of Beings. And the sacred scriptures, those pure and uncorrupted fountains of truth, every where ascribe persection to God. In them, he is represented as aSpirit; self-existent; independent; silling immensity with his presence; from everlasting to everlasting; the same to day, yesterday, and for ever; so wise, that he knows the hearts of men; so powersul, that to him all things are possible; so persectly holy, that the heavens are not clean in his sight; so just and righteous, that there is no iniquity with him; so true and saithsul, that if he has said it, he vjll certainly do it, if he has spoken it, he will make it good; and so abundant in mercy, that, rather than we should perish, he sent his only begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins. In a.word, the most exalted created intelligence can simply adore the greatness of God; himself alone can comprehend it. t

In this manner, then, we are to conceive of God, as insinitely removed from every kind and degree of* impersection,.and as possessed of the highest degree of excellence.

II. We now proceed to explain the true meanvng of the precept, Be ye persect, as your Father. "which is in heaven is persect."

i. We are not here required to imitate God in his peculiar persections i such as, his independence, selfexistence, the imrnensity and eternity of his Being;; his omniscience and omnipotence. These naturally produce, in the mind that considers them, the most . profound veneration, and dispose us to worsoip arid 2 A-3,• adors

adore the Being by whom they are possessed. But they are incommunicable to any created being, and therefore cannot be proposed to us as a pattern. To aim at a resemblance of God in any of these persections, would be the highest arrogance, and most intolerable presumption. Have we an arm like God? Can we thunder with a voice like his? If we look upon the earth, will it tremble? If we touch the mountains, will they smoke? If we command the fun, will he rife? and can we seal up the stars? No: To attempt any thing of that kind, would be to set the Almighty at desiance, and to u* surp his throne. To such insufferable ambition it is 'owing, that the devil and his angels, those apostate and accursed spirits, have selt the thunder of that Omnipotent hand which they attempted to imitate; and are reserved in chains of darkness, to the judgment of the great day.

2. The moral character of God, is the great pattern proposed in the text to our imitation. His holiness, goodness, justice, faithsulness, and truth, are things which we can understand, and in which we are

•.required to jesemble him. And they are frequendy ^set before us in scripture, not merely as worthy of our attention, not only to attract our esteem; but to engage us to copy aster so lovely an example; to be

. holy as God is holy, and persect as our Father in heaven is persect. This is the fair and unblemished pattern set before us; a pattern of which our minds cannot but approve; and the proper effect of this pattern, is, to excite in us the noble ambition of resembling it.

. 3. Even in those moral excellencies, we are not K

?uired to aspire at an equal degree of perfection with iod. No: the highest possible attainments of the most exalted intelligences, are insinitely mean, in comparifon of Him. The Lord God Almighty, the King ofcSitints, only is holy. The heavens themselves are not clean in his fight; and his angels he charge* with folly. Is it then possible, that mortal man should attain to persection? Is it possible, that dust and ashes, who may fay to corruption, Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mothe* and siller: Is it possible that we, who are conceived in sin, and brought forth in iniquity ; whose faculties are fo imperfect, and whose afsections are fo depraved: Is it possible that We should arrive at an equal degree of persection with our Maker? No; if we should justify ourselves, our own mouths would condemn us j if we should fay we are persect, they also would prove us perverse. An equality with God, in his moral persections, is not to be attained, either by the spirits of just men made persect, or the highest angels in heaven; and, therefore, such equality can* not be intended by the text.

But that which our Saviour requires, is a sincere and prevailing love to God; and, as the genuine effects of it, a vigorous imitation of Him, in his moral persections.

The asfection of love to God arises in the mind, from the conGderation of Insinite- goodness, directed by the most persect wisdom, having always for its object the happiness of its creatures. Hence, the highest opinion of the worth and excellence of the Divine nature, is abfolutely necessary to kindle this heavenly affection in the heart. And hence, also, the welldisposed mind is induced to follow such a persect character, and secretly wishes for the possession of the fame qualities. But it is the assurance, or, at least, the hope of an interest in his favour, that begets our warmest affections. It is the contemplation of him as the Father of mercies, as our God reconciled in Clrrist, that excites our most affectionate esteem, and inspires iis with the wish of resembling him. For love is an assimilating principle, whicn produces on the foul a resemblance of its object. When the lovfe of God {» .•\ flied

« AnteriorContinuar »