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but by him; and coming to him in this way, we must also worship him “in spirit and in truth,” not with bodily service merely, nor merely with the best worded petitions, but with the heart; with sincerity, reverence, fervent desires, and humble hopes : all which imply the knowledge of God.
The great importance of the right knowledge of God having been sufficiently proved, there are some practical lessons of instruction which we may learn from the subject.
From hence we perceive in what a deplorable condition a great part of the world continues to this day. There are millions of our fellow-creatures who know not God; who, following the superstitions of their father, worship, if they worship at all, idols of their own making; while for the greater part, they are addicted to the grossest vices and the most cruel practices; walking, as St. Paul expresses it, “accord. ing to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” How devoutly is it to be wished that proper and effectual means may be taken, to dispel this dreadful darkness, and to communicate to them the saving knowledge of God!
More pitiable, because far more criminal, are those persons among ourselves in this land of vision, who know not God ; for it may truly be said of many in this country, as St. Paul said of others in his day, “Some have not the knowledge of God; I speak this to your shame!” How many are wilfully and contentedly ignorant. “ The light shinech in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” Unhappy creatures ! their ignorance is their sin ; yet their ignorance hides from them both their sin and their danger. “My people," said the Lord concerning Israel, “ are destroyed for lack of knowledge ;” and the same may be said of many who are called his people now : but let such persons know this, that “ the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven in flaming fire ;” and when he comes, he will “ take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Th. i. 7, 8. Let none then who live in this happy country, think that they shall be excused on account of their ignorance ; for all have opportunity to read or hear the gospel ; and to neglect the proper means of obtaining divine knowledge is to incur the displeasure of God; for “this is the condemnation,” said the Saviour himself, “ that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John iii. 19. O that such persons may resolve, by the grace of God, from this moment, earnestly to apply their hearts to wisdom; and, while they use the means, pray fervently to “the Father of lights” to make them wise to salvation !
Others among us have the greatest cause for thankfulness. Has he, who, in the first creation, “commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shined into your hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ?" O reflect on the greatness of the blessing! Christ congratulated his disciples on this account, saying, .“ Blessed are your eyes, for they see ;” and he offered up praises, to his heavenly Father, that he had revealed to babes the great truths of the gospel, which the wise and the prudent had rejected. Let it be your constant care to let “ your light shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father, who is in Heaven.” If you have indeed been “taught of God,” prove it, by “putting off the old man of sin,” and by being “ renewed in the spirit of your mind.”. For the true knowledge of God is always practical. We deceive ourselves if we pretend to know him, and yet persist in sin. The apostle John, tells us, that “he who saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1 John ii. 4. On the
contrary, he who truly knows God, will love, and serve, and obey him. Thus the obedience of the young king Josiah is mentioned, by the Lord himself, as the evidence of the right knowledge of him :
" He judged the cause of the poor and needy, then it was well with himo; was not this to know me? saith the Lord.” Jer. xxii. 16. A right knowledge of Christ produces an imitation of him; “we behold his glory, and are changed into the same image ;" we behold the glory of his holiness, meekness, humility, and self-denial ; and we study to be holy, and meek, and humble, and self-denied, like him. This is the true knowledge of God : and if you possess this, in any measure, you have cause to be thankful. Then, indeed, may you glory in this not that you are rich or mighty in the world, but that you know the Lord ; that you are going on to know him better; and that the happy day may be expected, when, in the heavenly world, you shall “know even as you are known;" not see any longer “through a glass darkly, but face to face ;” and learn, by blessed experience, the full meaning of the text-" This is eternal life, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.”—To whom, with the Holy Spirit, the one God of our salvation, be ascribed everlasting praises ! Amen.
THE POWER OF GOD.
Geuesis xvii, 1. I am the Almighty God.
IN attempting to display the divine perfections, it I is natural to begin with that which first strikes the mind of man when he thinks of a God. Whoever believes that there is a God, must believe that he is a great and powerful being. When St. Paul says, that “the invisible things of God" are perceived by the works of his hands, he mentions particularly, “his eternal power.” Rom. i. 20. We cannot conceive of a God without power; nor can we conceive rightly of Jehovah but as a God of infinite power; the Almighty God, as he is called in our text. By this name he revealed himself to Abraham, when he appeared to him to confirm the promise of a very numerous posterity ; a thing that seemed unlikely if human appearances only had been consulted: but, to encourage his faith in the promise, he says, “I am the Almighty God.” This was enough, Abraham was satisfied. He believed: he waited ; and the promise was fulfilled. It will also greatly assist our faith, and promote our devotion, if we receive and retain a solemn conviction that
God is a being possessed of infinitè power.
Let us trace the evidences of this truth.
1. In the original production of all creatures ;
2. In the preservation and government of all creatures ; and,
3. In the redemption of sinful man.
I. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen, were not made of things which do appear.” Heb. xi. 3. They were not merely formed, they were created they were made out of nothing, the matter of which they were formed was created ; for, “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. i. 1); and these two words, “ the heaven and the earth,” include all the countless myriads of creatures and things which fill the universe, and far exceed the ken of mortals. God alone can create. Men can build houses and ships, but they must have materials to build them with ; but when God made the world, he found no materials to work with; he created the materials themselves, he made the matter of the heaven and the earth; he then framed, or curiously and perfectly wrought, that created matter into millions of beautiful forms; and, in the space of six days “ the heavens and the earth were finished.” Gen. ii. 1. All God's works are finished works; they will bear the closest inspection, and when most examined, will be most admired ; they are the work of the Almighty God. . .
It is thus that he is distinguished from all false and pretended gods. “The idols of the heathen are vanity and lies, but the Lord made the heavens."“ For thus, said the Lord, that created the heavens, God himself that formed the earth, and made it; he hath established it; he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited; I am the Lord, and there is none else.” Isa. xlv. 18. “The gods that have not made the heaven and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth; they are vanity and the work of errors.” Jer. X. 11.
The limits of a short sermon will not admit of a