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sions. No; the pure in heart, and they who glorify God now, shall alone see God, to their infinite joy in heaven.
THIRDLY, I shall shew, that the enjoyment of God is man's chief end in point of happiness, the thing that he should chiefly seek. For this end,
1. Consider what man is. He is, (1.) A creature that desires happiness, and cannot but desire it. The desire of happiness is woven into his nature, and cannot be eradicated. It is as natural for him to desire it as it is to breathe. (2.) He is not self-sufficient: he is conscious to himself that he wants many things, and therefore he is ever seeking something without himself in order to be happy. (3.) Nothing but an infinite good can fully satisfy the desires of an immortal soul : because, whatever good he finds in the creature, he can still desire more, and will continue to desire it; and where it is not to be found, there his happiness is marred. So that man's happiness is neither to be found in himself nor in any creature, or created good.
2. Consider what God is.
1st, God is the chief good. Some persons, as angels, &c. and some things, as grace, glory, &c. are good; but God is the chief good, for he is the fountain good, and the water that is good is always best in the fountain. All other goodness is but second-hand goodness, derived and dependant; but God is original, underived, and independent goodness, the cause and source of whatever is good in heaven and earth. Now, where the more goodness is, there the more it is to be sought. And therefore, seeing God is the chief good, the enjoyment of him is the chief end which man should aim at in seeking.
2dly, God is all good. (1.) There is nothing in him but what is good; he is entirely without imperfection. (2.) All that is good is in him; so that the soul, finding him commensurate to its desires, needs nothing besides him; and therefore should not, and cannot, fully rest in any person or thing but God, who alone is able to satisfy all its desires, and afford it that happiness which it earnestly pants after.
I shall conclude with a few inferences.
1. O how does reigning sin pervert the spirit of man, turning it quite away from its chief end! How many are there who make themselves their chief end! They are conjured within the circle of self, and out of it they cannot move. Like beasts they grovel on the ground, seeking themselves, and acting for themselves only or chiefly, pursuing the enjoyment of earthly things; but look not to God, Phil. iii. 19. Their own advantage is the chief motive and aim they have in their natural, civil, and religious actions, either their own pleasure, profit, or honour and glory. And they never think of, never propose the glory and honour of the infinite Majesty of heaven in any thing they do.
2. This may fill the best with shame and blushing. O how much is God dishonoured by our hearts, lips, and lives ! O what selfseeking mixes itself with our best actions ! How eagerly do we pursue created things, and how faintly the enjoyment of God! How absurd is such conduct! and how dishonourable to a holy God! It is a saying upon the matter, that God is not the chief good, that he is not a suitable portion for the soul, and that the creature is better than God. How should we be ashamed of ourselves on this account, and labour earnestly to make God the chief and ultimate end of all our actions, and the enjoyment of him our chief happiness !
3. Behold the excellency of man above other creatures on earth! He is made for a noble end, to glorify and enjoy God, while other creatures were made for him. How sad is it, that men should thus forget their dignity, and turn slaves to those creatures which were made to serve them ! And how deplorable and lamentable is it, that men, in place of making God their ultimate end, and placing their chief happiness in him, should make their belly, their lusts and idols, their God, and place their chief felicity in the gratification of sensual and brutish pleasures; as the drunkard does in his bottle, the unclean person in his whore, the miser in his wealth, and the ambitious man in titles of honour. Alas ! our hearts by nature are set on the earth that we tread upon, and our desires reach up to those things that we should make stepping-stones of. Let us earnestly implore divine grace to cure this disorder of our hearts, and give them a bias to more excellent things, and the enjoyment of that which will survive the grave, and not perish with the wrecks of time, and the dissolution of the world.
4. The soul of man is immortal, seeing to enjoy God for ever is its ultimate and supreme happiness. God is immortal, and so must the soul be too, which can never be satisfied but in this never-dying being. The body too must rise again, seeing God is the God and portion of the whole man. Now, God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Can that thinking and immaterial substance which eagerly desires happiness, and can find it no where but in the immortal God, perish with the body, and all its thoughts and desires be extinguished in the grave ? No; its chief happiness will subsist for ever, and so will the soul too. And both soul and body, which were united to God here, shall continue to be united to him for ever, after the resurrection. Let us then seek to be united to God here, that we may be happy with and in him for ever.
5. When God and the creature come in competition, we must renounce the creature, and cleave to God only, Luke xiv. 33. God is the chief good, and to glorify and adhere to him at all times, and in all cases, and amidst all trials, is our great duty, a duty absolutely required of us. If we are reduced to that dilemma, that we must either give up with the creature, or any worldly goods or possessions, or even life itself, or give up with and deny God and his cause, we must give up with and abandon the former, and not prefer them to the glory of God, which we ought always to study as our main end, and account our chief happiness and joy.
6. Here is a rule to try doctrines by, and also practices. Whatever doctrine tends to glorify God, and promote his honour in the world, is certainly from God, and is to be embraced. And whatever practices have that same tendency, they are good, and deserve to be imitated. Whereas any doctrine that tends to dishonour God, to rob him of his glory, and set the crown upon the creature's head, to depreciate the free grace of God, exalt the power of nature and of free-will, in opposition to the efficacious and irresistible grace of God, as the doctrines of the Pelagians, Papists, Armenians, and others do, is not from God. Neither is any doctrine or opinion that robs the Son of God of his essential dignity, supremacy, independency, and equality with the Father, to be received, because it is not of God, who will have all men to honour the Son even as they honour the Father.
Lastly, Let this then be your main and chief work, to glorify God, and to seek to enjoy him. And hence see the absolute need of Christ, and faith in him; for there is no glorifying of the Father without the Son, 1 John ii. 23. and no enjoying of God, but through him. No sacrifice is or can be accepted, unless offered upon this altar; and there is no coming into the chamber of presence, but as introduced by Christ.
THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
2 Tim. iii. 16.—All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
The next head which falls to be touched is the holy scripture, the rule which God has given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. We are poor blind creatures, that know not our way, neither how we should glorify God, nor how we may come to the enjoyment of him. Therefore God hath given us the revelation of his mind in that great point. The connexion betwixt this and the preceding question is abundantly obvious ; the one points out the end for which we were made, the other the rule to direct us how to attain to that end. And in this text we have two things.
1. The divine authority of the scriptures asserted. All scripture is given by inspiration of God. The word scripture signifies writing in general; but here it is appropriated to the holy scripture. It principally here aims at the scriptures of the Old Testament, which were written by men of a prophetic spirit: but seeing the New Testament was written by such as were endowed with the same Spirit for writing, upon that reason, what is applied to the Old belongs also to the New Testament. It is said to be of divine inspiration, because the writers were inspired by the Spirit, who guided their hearts and pens; he dictated, and they wrote; so that it is his word and not theirs ; and that is extended to the whole scriptures.
2. The use and end of the scriptures : It is profitable for doctrine, &c. If desire to know the truths of religion, or what we believe, the scripture is profitable for doctrine, teaching us what we are to believe concerning God, Christ, and ourselves, and the great things that concern salvation. If ye want to refute the contrary errors, it is profitable for reproof, to convince us of the nature and importance of divine truth and point out what errors we are to avoid. If ye desire to amend your life and practice, casting off sinful practices, it is profitable for correction, that is, for reformation of manners. If ye want to know what is duty, and what is sin, it is necessary for instruction and righteousness ; shewing us how to lead a holy and righteous life before God, and instructing us in the true righteousness, which is the foundation of our access to God, and acceptance with him, the righteousness of Christ. And what more is necessary for salvation, for faith and obedience, for the whole of salvation ?
Two doctrines offer themselves from the words, viz.
Doct. I. 'The scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God.'
Doct. II. The scriptures are the rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy God.'
I shall prosecute each doctrine in order.
Doct. I. 'The scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God.'
Here I shall shew,
IV. That the scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God.
V. Deduce some inferences.
I. I shall shew what is meant by the Old and New Testament. It is the covenant of grace which is called a testament, and it is properly a testamentary covenant, without any proper conditions as to us, Heb. viii. 10.“ This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts : and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." Christ is the testator ; he made the testament, and confirmed it with his death. The spirit of Christ drew the testament, dictating it to the holy penman. This testament of Christ's is one and the same as to substance, though sometimes more clearly revealed than at other times. The Old Testament is the more obscure draught of Christ's will, and the New Testament is the more clear one. Thus they only differ in circumstances, while the substantials of both are one and the same; one Mediator and testator, one legacy or promise of remission of sin and eternal life, and one faith as the way of obtaining it*.
II. I proceed to shew what are the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. The scriptures of the Old Testament are those which begin with Genesis, and end with Malachi; and the scriptures of the New Testament are those which begin with Matthew, and end with the Revelation. And it is worthy of our special remark, how the Old Testament and the New, like the cherubims in the most holy place, stretch forth their wings touching one another; the Old Testament ending with the prophecy of sending Christ and John the Baptist Mal. iv. and the New beginning with the history of the coming of these two.
See more on this subject in the author's View of the Covenant of Grace, head 4. title, Christ the Testator of the Covenant.