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V. The fifth thing in the method of this discourse is application
ift. Here is matter of information. Then have we a true judgment of God, when we think of his greatness in conjunction with his goodness. Never divide his almightiness from his goodness. It is very true, no true majesty without goodness : yea I dare say it, it is the greatest act of power to commiserate and pardon ; for other acts of power subdue things without, but he that doth commiserate and pardon, subdues himself, which is the greatest victory. General good will, and universal love, and charity, are the greateft, both perfections and acts of power. To be ready to forgive, and to be easy to be reconciled, are things that are grafted, not in the wilderness of the world, but in the most noble and generous natures. They are under the fullest communication of God that give themselves up to acts of clemency and compassion, and are forward to relieve, and to do good, to pardon and to forgive. These are the perfons that are endued with divine power. If goodness and righteousness were not in an unseparable conjunction with almighty power, the whole creation were in danger and hazard ; and could not be safe, nor have any security.
2dly. Here is matter of imitation. Let us imitate and resemble God. Afford thy fellow-creature that measure that God doth thee; the contrary is an argument of thy not partaking of the divine nature. He that hateth his brother abides in death. And how say'st thou, that thou loveft God whom thou hast not feen, and lovest not thy brother whom thou seeft ?
They who are indeed acquainted with God, and naturalized to him, they live in a spirit of hearty love and universal good will, 1 John iv. 16. God is love, and he that dwells in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. The first thing in religion, is to have right notions and apprehensions of God, what is true concerning God; for we never shall be right in our selves, if we have wrong thoughts of God. Therefore this is first in religion, to know what is true in God, and the next is to partake thereof ; i. e. for us, in our measure and degree, to be what God is in fulness, height and excellency, wherein God is imitable and communicable. Eph. v. 1. 2. Pet. i. 4.
3dly. Here is matter of confolation to all that are willing to do well, and would be good. They are in the hands of a good God; so that they may be encouraged, and their hands strengthened in their duty. They have an account to give to an equal Lord ; they serve a loving master. Who would not be engaged to such an one, who is gracious and merciful, how to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil ?
This is our great encouragement, that faithfully serve God, that if there be a hearty good will on our part, and an honest endeavour to please God ; fo ample and abundant is the grace of God, that it will supply all that is defective, either affording more strength, or by candid construction, or free pardon of all our mistakes. If not by giving more strength, yèt by candid construction of what is weakly done, but well meant ; or by free pardon. God is far better than we can conceive of him. For is. He is infinite in all his perfections ; Vol. I, с
and we are but finite in all our apprehensions, and conceptions of him. And 2dly. We are able through grace to avoid evil, and do good. And 3dly. Our imperfections are easily pardoned; for God pitieth us, as a father pitieth his children. He knoweth our frame, and considereth we are but dust, Psal. ciii. 14. Now this should quicken and enliven us chearfully to obey God, and heartily to love him.
I dare fay, he doth not know God at all, as he is ; nor is he in a good state of religion, who doth not find in himself at times, ravishings with the sweet and lovely confiderations of the divine perfections, viz. his benignity expressed to all his creatures, and his . benefits conferred upon mankind. He that hath not a sense and confideration of these, and on whose mind these have made no impression, he is devoid of all true knowledge of God, and I dare say, he is not in a state of true religion.
But what I now speak of, is not to impenitent and contumacious finners ; none of this reacheth them. To them there is no promise, as I told you before
i their case is not compassionable. If we use our principles of reason, we cannot put it upon God, to act contrary to the quality and perfection of his nature. The very goodness of God doth oblige him to punish impenitent and contumacious finners; and to controul and discourage fin; for if goodness be the perfection of the divine nature, then it is suitable to him, to promote goodness in his creation,
Thus have I run over these things only fummarily, wherein I have done you this courtesy, I have given you matter for your meditation,
The Difference of TIMEs, with respect
PSALM XCV. 7. To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
O give myself advantage, and to command
your attention ; in the first place I will take
notice how this place of fcripture is referred to, and quoted in the new testament. If
you look into Heb. iii. 7. You will find these words brought in, as faith the Holy Ghost, to day if
will hear his voice. What therefore is said as confonant to them, you are to look upon, to receive and entertain as the word of God, and as dictated by the Holy Spirit. For the words themselves, there is much matter in them, and they are of great weight and importance. But I will only declare to you in several particulars, That upon a spiritual account, there is great difference in time ; for this is suggested, as that wherein the force of the exhortation doth lie, To day, &c. And to make this out, I
will fhew you,
I. That sooner and later are not alike in respect of eternity; and that the main work we have to do in time; is to prepare for eternity,
II. I will fhew, that times of ignorance and of knowledge are not alike.
III. That before and after voluntary commission of known iniquity, are not alike.
IV. That before and after contracted naughty ha*bits, are not alike.
V. That the time of God's gracious and particular visitation, and the time when God withdraws his gracious presence and assistance, are not alike.
VI. The flourishing time of our health and strength, ‘and the hour of sickness, weakness, and approach of death, are not alike.
VII. Now and hereafter, present and future, this world, and the world to come, are not alike.
And by that time I have given you an account of these particulars, and made it evident to you; that all times are not alike, for the purposes of eternity, and the concernments of our souls ; it will appear highly adviseable (considering the advantages of life, health and strength, and the reference of time to eternity) for us all to lead such lives, upon which we may fafely die ; and to employ ourselves in such actions as are accountable when we come to leave the world, since our welfare to eternity depends upon it. We are, I say, highly concerned, fo to order our conversations in the world, fo to govern our spirits, and lead such lives, as when we shall come to leave the world, we may reflect with fatisfaction upon what we have done, as good Hezekiah did, 1 Kings xx. 3, 4. when the message came to him that he should die and not live, he