Sivut kuvina

hate him, when we represent him as one easily angry, hardly appeased, of a cruel nature ; a Minos, a Rhadamanthus, or Phalary, rather than an infinite mirror of sweetness and love. If we do not think him so, why do we stand off from him? Hence arises our wrong constructions of providence, and sinister interpretations of God's acts; when we attribute to God such ends as have no other foundation but our own foolish fancy. Thus Manoah interprets the angel's coming, which was an act of God's kindness to him, to be an ill-meant providence, Judg. 13. 22. Now as it is the quality of love to think no evil, so it is the property of hatred to think all evil. And as when a man hates sin, he cannot endure any varnish of an excuse to be put upon it, and cannot speak or think too bad of it; so when a man hates God, he cannot endure to have a good gloss put upon his actions.

2. Slighting his mercy, and robbing him of the end of it. The wilful breaking of a prince's laws, upon the observance whereof great rew ards are promised, is not only a despising his sovereignty, but a slighting his goodness, in' the rewards proffered to the observers. Rebels thatstand it out against proclamations of pardon, do what in them lies to deprive the prince of any objects to show his clemency on. So obstinate sinners against mercy would, as far as they are able, deprive God of any subject to magnify his mercy on, especially when they do not only stand it out against so gracious proffers of God, but draw in others to take up arms against him ; every sin in this respect is a stealing the glory of this attribute from God, in denying him that tribute of obedience which is due to him for it. Often this enmity rises higher; and whereas men should fear him, because he is ready to forgive, Psal. 130. 4, they rather slight him, and presume to sin because he hath mercy to pardon. And so make that which should cherish their obedience, to be a spur to their rebellion; and encourage their future offences by that goodness which should

[merged small][ocr errors]

excite a fear and holy awe of him in their souls. Because God is gracious, men will be more vicious; hence they are said to despise his goodness, Rom. 2. 4. And that patience which should teach them repentance, inflames their hatred, and in this humour, they turn grace itself into wantonness, Keel. 8. 11.

7. Enmity to the justiceof God. When men wish there were no God, they wish this at least, that God were unclothed of those perfections which are averse and dreadful to their guilty consciences; scarce a man but hath flattering fancies, that God is not so terrible as he is represented.

This appears, 1. In not fearing it, but running under the lash of it. Sin is an act of rebellion, and rebels fear not the justice, or else hope to overcome the power of their superior. Would not men be afraid to spit in the face of heaven, did they really believe there was a God who was just and righteous, and would not let any sin go unpunished? The prophet speaks of some that had wearied God with their sins, and made him serve with their iniquities, Isa. 43. 24, as if God were bound to endure their evil carriage against him with patience, and never to unsheath the sword of his justice. How often are men upon this account said to have a rocky heart, and iron sinews, that will neither be broken, nor bent? Are not the Belshazaars of the world merry, though the hand writing be upon the wall against them. Thus men commit sin with greediness, and are past f eeling, Eph. 4. 19, daring the justice of God, and without any sense of revenge due to sin; and say, to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant. Nay, I dare aver, that if a man who had been scorched in hell, should again enjoy his wonted pleasures, and have all the while a fresh remembrance of his late torments, were not his will changed by a powerful grace, he would stand it out as stiffly against God as ever, notwithstanding those terrible marks of wrath, and be without a holy fear of that justice which he had felt.

2. Sinning under the strokes of justice. Men will not turn to God that smites them, though they have hypocritical bowlings upon their beds under God's stroke, Hos. 7. 13, 14: & Isa. 9. 13. They will roar under the stroke, but not submit to the striker. It is the witch of Endor, or the God of Ekron shall have their addresses, and not the God of heaven.

3. In hoping easily to evade it. There are sometimes secret thoughts, that a man is able to maintain himself against all the force God can use; which the apostle implies; Are we stronger than he? 1 Cor. 10. 22. Do we think to try it out at arms-length with God? Sin implies a mastering God's all-powerful justice. Sometimes men will argue for impiety from their present impunity; and because he keeps silence, think that he will not publish a condemning sentence, Psal. 50. 21. And because God forbears, think that he has forgotten to punish, God hath forgotten, Psal. 10. 11. Sometimes we fancy God like to ourselves, mutable with every wind, as soon appeased as angry; either unable to resist the force of our prayers, or easily enticed by our good words, and praises of him, as though be were to be flattered out of his just anger, his holy and righteous nature, They flattered him with their mouth, Psal. 78. 36. As if he needed our trifles, and rattles, as children do, to appease them; or might be wrought upon as the poor Indians, to give the gold of heaven for a few beads.

They fancy him a god of. wax, whom they can bend at their pleasure; either so weak that he cannot, or of so soft a disposition, that he will not be revenged of sin, and that a few sighs will blow away a storm of wrath. Hence men invent ways of pleasing God after they have offended him; and think to expiate the sin of their soul, by the offering their substance, or presenting some melancholy devotions, or inflicting some self chastisements. As if God were to be

[merged small][ocr errors]

bribed by the blood of a lamb, or goat, or by some superstitious and formal services, to change his provoked justice into an easy clemency.

8. Enmity to the truth of God. Most men live upon trust for their knowledge, and know far more by the relation, and upon the credit of others, than upon certain demonstrations; as that there are such places as China, Peru, Mexico. And why are men so backward in believing God, speaking in his word? It is clear hereby, that men have not so great enmity against one another, as they have against God.

This appears, 1. In not believing his threatenings. Men believe not either the matter, or sudden execution of them. Our faith is more operative upon reports from men, than revelations from God. Men will believe stories of danger, so as to avoid the places wherein they may be liable to it. Yet though God tells them what the issue of sin will be, how certainly it will destroy them, they will walk on in their own way. Men look upon hell as a painted fire, upon the threatenings as scarecrows, without a sting, and are not so much affected with them, as at the reading of a tragedy. Would men be so stupid, as not to stir out of the fire, if they did really believe God were * true? They are apt to fear others that threaten inferior punishments, and not to fear God who threatens everlasting woe; but think to find mercy in the way of sin, though God assures them to the contrary. How soon did the Israelites lose the sense of the thunder, which terrified them when the law was given? Like those sponges that thunder will pass through. Such are secure persons through whom the thunder of God's threatenings will pass, without doing any hurt. A contrite heart trembles at the word, Isa. 66. 2, because he acknowledges it to be true ; whereas a proud heart is like an unmoved rock, that is not daunted at God's threatenings, as imagining them to be false. If a man at first believes them, yet if God delays the execution of them, he thinks they were in jest with him, and takes delays for denials; My master delays his coming, Luke 12. 45. This temper is called a belying of God; It is not he, this evil shall not come upon us, Jer. 5. 12. 2. His promises. Man is more prone to believe God's promises, than threatenings, because men are naturally credulous of that which makes for their interest; therefore God made the Jews to say amen to the curses, Deut. 27. 26. Not to the blessings, Deut. 28, because they were ready to slight threatenings, and snatch at promises. But yet even his words of grace are not credited by men; hence it is, that they are not allured by his gracious proffers, which would work upon men, if they really believed that God intended as he spake. All the unbelief in the world gives God the lie; the greatest indignity among the sons of men; He that believes not God, hath made him a liar, 1 John 5. 10. We believe the promises of a man, that is a lie, as the psalmist speaks, and has deceived us; and rely upon a vain creature that fails, rather than upon the true and living God. Like the foolish Indians, part with the gold of God's promises for glass and ribbons, brittle and gaudy things. Present things do more affect us, than future. It was the present world Demas loved more than a future crown, 2 Tim. 4. 10. Sensible trifles are esteemed more valuable than invisible and eternal excellency. Men look upon heaven as a poet's elysium, a dream and fancy, and the promise of Christ's coming to be the greatest falsehood; Where is the promise of his coming, 2 Pet. S. 4. It is an undervaluing God's veracity, to be led by sense, a brutish principle; rather than by God, who is truth itself. Our following the dictates of natural reason against revelation, is not so derogatory, as the making sense our guide.

9. Enmity to his providence. By denying his truth, we deny his providence; for as the crediting the truth of one another, keeps up commerce in the world; so the veracity of God on his part, and the

« EdellinenJatka »