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the firmament showeth his handy-work." And elsewhere, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him ?” Believers have their senses exercised to discern the power, wisdom, and goodness of God in his works, with adıniration and self-abasement. But, unto the unbeliever, neither do the heavens declare the glory of God's perfections, nor do they know what it is, in the contemplation of God's wondrous works, to cry out with shame and astonishment, “Lord, what is man?" Either not considering God in his works, or, if they do, priding themselves in their curious discoveries, instead of humbling themselves in the sight of what God hath wrought, and giving glory to his name.
Secondly.—To believe in God, the Maker of heaven and earth, implies a disposition to use all the creatures about us in a manner consistent with God's design in making them, bestowing them upon us, and restoring us to a right in them. I say restoring us to a right in them; for the original right in the creatures was forfeited in Adam, and no man can make other than an usurped use of them unless he be in Jesus Christ, and under him restored to the authorized use of them. And whoever is so restored to a right in the creatures is sensible that therein he enjoys an undeserved favour, which therefore he is disposed to use to the glory of God with thankfulness, reverence, and modesty. Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving ; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.'
Where you see the disposition of heart wherewith believers are to use all the creatures of God, to wit, believingly, as warranted to use them by the word of God; reverently, as looking up to God the giver for a blessing ; and thankfully, as being God's unmerited gift. And thus our believer professes himself desirous to use every creature, whether meat, or drink, or raiment, or whatever blessing or comfort of life; and in fact he does thus use them all in general with godly fear and humble thankfulness, notwithstanding he has reason to complain of his coming short in the measure of watchfulness and praise wherewith he endeavours to glorify God in the use of his creatures.
Thirdly.—To believe in God the Maker of heaven and earth
implies a disposition to regard and use ourselves both in soul and body as God's creatures to his glory. “ Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments." Which is as much as to say, 'I am thy property, for I owe my whole being to thee; and therefore I beseech thee to instruct me how I shall use my whole self in such manner as shall answer thy design in making me. Cause me to glorify thee with every faculty of my soul, which is thine in all the powers thereof. Let me know thee and thy will, and contemplate thy glories in the one and the other, in the use I make of my understanding ; let my memory be the treasure-house of thy works and ways, thy judgments and mercies, thy promises, directions, and threatenings; let my will be the counterpart of thine, pliable and submissive to thy mind, choosing and refusing as thou wouldst have me ; let my affections all centre in thee, being withdrawn from the creature, and set thyself up in my heart as the sole object of my desire, my hope, my delight, my joy. Cause me also to use every member of my body according to thy mind, and in that very way which will best promote thy glory. I have too long yielded my members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, give me grace to yield them henceforward instruments of righteousness unto the God that made and fashioned them ; that neither my hand act wickedness, nor my tongue speak perversely, nor my feet carry me to sin, nor mine eye look after iniquity, but every member in its proper use and employment may be devoted unto thee. “Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments."
Fourthly.—To believe in God the Maker of heaven and earth, is, in correspondence with his design of glorifying himself in his creatures, to use in an humble dependence all the powers of my soul and body, together with all my advantages and abilities, to his glory in that station and calling which he has assigned me. The glory of God in the creation is manifest in a happy subserviency of his creatures in their several places. The inanimate world sets us a pattern, the sun knoweth his going down, the wind and storms perform their commissions. The animal world join in the instructive lesson, they wait all upon God; “ The young lion's roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God; the sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down
in their dens." And shall man disturb the harmony of God's works, shall he forget his station, and refuse to serve his Creator in his generation ? Shall the moral world only be in disorder ; shall men and devils pervert the order of God, and cause confusion in his work ? Shall they affect independency, and act as if God had not made them ? Not so our believer. He desires to perform the part allotted him in the world. He desires to live the creature, and to be faithful in the station assigned him in the great universe ; if he be a child, to be dutiful ; if a parent or master, to be faithful in his house ; if a minister, to dispense the word of life with all readiness of mind ; if a man of business, to be diligent, honest, and cheerful in his employment. In short, whatever his place be, therein so to demean himself as that God may be glorified in the world which he has made for himself.
That all these things are really contained in a true belief in God, as Maker of heaven and earth, may appear from an attention to their case who have not the disposition described. For,
First.-Can they be said to have any belief in God as the Creator of themselves and all things, who have no eye to see God in his wonderful works surrounding them as they are on every side, have not the least regard to him, though they be the work of his hand, and to all intents and purposes live in the world as if there were no God? I have not the least doubt there are some who hear me that do not so much as once apply their minds to think of God for a whole day together, and for many days together, I had almost said for weeks together, for months, in short, at all. This is rash and uncharitable, you say; for how can I possibly know this? What! can I tell what is in people's heart ? Not exactly what is there ; but their conduct tells me what is not there. Would they own the truth, they would confess they have no real deliberate thought or regard of God. How can it be, when they live as they do, following the world, and following their pleasures, their minds, thoughts, and hearts always taken up with some perverse thing ? And can these believe in the God that made them? Though they pretend to say they do when they repeat the Creed, shall we, can we believe them, when they live daily as if they were
their own makers and masters, as if God had no right over them, nor property in them? But there are others who are not so gross, men of speculation, who can read you fine lectures upon the power and wisdom of God in the works of creation in heaven and earth, and yet these are as far at least from the humble dependent spirit of creatures as the other. Human learning will furnish a man with many pretty and entertaining speculations ; but it is grace only that teaches the heart to know its place in creation, to return to the dependent character, and, with true self-abasement as creatures and sinners, to own God the Maker of heaven and earth. Philosophical inquiries are widely different from spiritual and practical knowledge ; and they who have amused themselves the most in nice researches into the works of nature, and made very just observations from thence upon the perfections of God, shall find at last, if they have gone no further, and have not learnt to be humbled before the great God their Maker, that they have known nothing as they ought to know, and that the injured Maker of the world will not be satisfied with subtle speculations instead of the return of an apostate spirit, upon the offer of pardon in Jesus Christ, and by the grace ministered in him, unto the temper and conduct of creatures dependent upon him and bowing before him.
Secondly.—Does that person believe in God as the Maker of heaven and earth, who abuses God's creatures to his dishonour ? You cannot but be sensible, that to believe in God as Creator is to pay some regard to him in that character, falling in with his design in making all things. But where is this regard, if we oppose the end of creation in the use of God's creatures ? Was it God's design, in making food for our subsistence, that we should take occasion to indulge our palates, make a god of our bellies, or, as is sometimes done, eat almost to suffocation ? Was drink provided for us to be used as it too commonly is ? Had God any design thereby to draw us together that we might run into excess, to pass the glass from one to another till sober reason should leave us, to make us merry, as it is called ; that is, unguarded and dissolute, and fit for any work the devil may have for us to do?
What think you was God's purpose in giving us raiment ? Think a little, I pray you, what it could possibly be. You that are so fond of outward adorning, of plaiting the hair (take notice it is the word of Scripture), of wearing of gold, and of putting on of apparel, ask your own consciences, whether God made these things for the use you make of them, which is, whether you will believe it or no, to pride yourselves upon your finery, to set yourselves out as so many shows to be gazed upon and admired, and to make the world think you persons of more than ordinary consideration ? But there is no end of particulars. O when shall we learn to use the world as not abusing it! In the mean time, till we do, let us confess that we do not believe in God as Maker of heaven and earth.
Thirdly.-Can that person own God as his Creator, who abuses his soul in the love of sin, and his body in the practice of it? To say God made me, soul and body, and yet in soul and body to behave as if there was no relation between God and me, is in effect to strike myself out of God's creation. To say I believe God gave me my soul to glorify him, and yet to have neither knowledge, nor thought, nor love, nor desire of him in my heart, but the whole bent of my soul to be after worldly things, just as if God had not made me, and it was not my concern to glorify him with my spirit: at the same time, to employ every member of my body in such base services as are directly subversive of God's purpose in giving it to me'; what are these but flat contradictions ? And yet how much is this the practice of many who call God their Maker! Sirs, do you all verily judge that God gave you your soul and body for his use and glory ? And do you all use them both with this design? What! is it the main care of all of you to give up your souls to God, to his glory, and your bodies also to him, to his glory? Why, when, I beseech you, did many of you think of such a thing? When inquire how you might do it? When use any kind of endeavours towards it ? When, I
you diligently inquire how God might be glorified in your spirit and body, which are his; when set yourself to the performance of it; when cast out of your heart such studies and pursuits as, instead of honouring, are disgraceful to God, praying and labouring that your soul might be furnished with those graces and dispositions which are his due and your duty; or when forego