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providential disposals with a child-like quietness and thankfulness? Here at least they see themselves wanting ; they are self-willed, disobedient, impatient, and dissatisfied. They live according to their own humour; and will, as far as they can, have everything after their own mind. Their whole pretensions to faith amount only to this, to say they believe in God the Father, to call themselves his servants, to come into his house, and to stand up and repeat the Creed without any design or meaning ; if these things will serve the turn, they are believers as good as the best. But if you expect anything else from them, if you will have them humble themselves for their apostate nature and their sinful practices, come to God by Jesus Christ in earnest and importunate prayer for mercy, beseeching him, as for their lives, that he will take them into his favour, and be a Father unto them ; if you expect they should esteem it their greatest happiness to have God for their Father, and that they diligently seek to obtain a warrantable persuasion that he is so ; if you look that they manifest their relation to God by all kinds of good works, and by behaving in such manner as to glorify God; if you are expecting anything of this from them, they will be excused from a faith so troublesome and self-denying. And what can we say to such ? If they will not be persuaded to such a faith, what can we do? If they will refuse the glorious liberty of being God's children, what besides can we offer them ? If they will neither be influenced by the dignity and honour of such a relation, nor have regard to the noble privileges that attend it in having the eternal God to hear all their prayers, to pity all their infirmities, to supply all their wants, to support and comfort them in life, death, and glory, what more can we do but be sorry and pray for them ? Unhappy creatures ! They let pass the golden opportunity that can never be recovered; they suffer the day of salvation to set upon them, that never, never shall rise again ! O how will they wish in a very little time, when it is too late, that God was their Father! when the day of judgment appears in its awful terrors, how will they then wish that God was their Father!
But a word to others. You do not think I have carried the matter too far, by stating so high as I have done believing in God the Father? The truth is, your duty and happiness go together ; and I wish rather to bring you up to your duty, than
to lower that to your standard. Should I have said less than I have, it would have been doing you a sensible injury; for did you thus believe in God, would you not be more happy and more holy? And I leave you to judge whether I have advanced anything which the promises of God will not authorise, and the duty of believing demand.
I take my leave of the whole with one word to those whose eyes are now opening upon spiritual things, and see themselves encompassed for the present with a variety of difficulty. To such I say, how delightful and encouraging is the prospect before you in the adoption of children ! How would ye rejoice, my dear friends, could ye say, “ God is our Father; he is ours, and we are his! The almighty living God is mine ; he that liveth for evermore is mine! Mine to love me, bless me, comfort me, keep me, glorify me! He is my Father, even mine!" Would not this make you happy? And see the Only-Begotten stands in your nature with opened arms to receive and introduce you to his Father and your Father, to his God and your God. O how sure will your title then be to the adoption of a child! See, the Word, even that Word which will not pass away when heaven and earth are gone, is before you to teach and direct you. See, the Spirit is come knocking at the door of your heart, and soliciting an entrance, that he may bring you to Jesus, and to God in him. How forcibly he pleads ! how he says in your heart, behold here through thy life all this sin, and before thee all that damnation, why wilt thou die ? Behold, Jesus died for the ungodly; hear how he says, “Come to me, and I will give thee rest ;” behold the Father looks toward thee, it is a look of love, hearken to his gracious voice; “ Come out, and I will be a Father unto thee, and thou shalt be my child." What encouragement ! But is this all ? Let all the triumphs of the dying hour speak, let all the glories of the judgment-day declare, let all the joys of the everlasting heavens publish, if you be not called to a blessing indeed when God invites you to him to become his child. Take courage. Let not Satan terrify, nor man dismay, nor interest insnare, nor pleasure beguile you of God your reward. Keep your eye fixed on the glorious God. How glorious he is ! How does his favour make the angels happy! How happy will you be when you can say, “ I believe in God the Father !”
Acts xvi. 30, 31.
What must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and thou shalt be saved.
“ I BELIEVE in God the Father" having been considered, we now pass on to the next word in this first article of our Creed, Almighty.
The almightiness of God has reference to his authority and dominion over all things, and also to his all-sufficiency and might to do whatever he pleases. In the latter sense it is to be more distinctly spoken to in the sixth article, where the same word returns, “he sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” Here it is to be understood in the former sense, as expressive of God's absolute dominion and authority over all things; to which he has an unquestionable right as being Maker of all things, and for which he is fully qualified, as being endued with a most upright will to order his subjects aright, and with power, knowledge, and the inspection of his own eye to uphold, restrain, and correct them.
I mean not to take up your time in proving what no one, who believes there is a God, denies. The very devils know and believe God to be the Governor of the world. When we say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty,” we own the same truth also, but we own it aright, in a spirit different from them, in a sincere disposition of heart to be subject to his government. This is what makes the article Christian, and gives it a place in our Creed. We own the Father to be Almighty in a cheerful confession of his rightful dominion over us, and in a willing determination that he shall rule over us. We speak it as they who are returned from their rebellion, into which all are fallen by the sin of Adam, and as brought back unto the Father through the mediation and by the grace of Jesus Christ his only Son our Saviour.
The dominion over all things is here ascribed unto the Father, while in other Scriptures you will find it referred unto the Son. The reason of which is, that although lordship over all things be in the Son by constitution, and as receiving it from the Father for the special work of mediation, yet the right rests in the Father, who made all things for himself. And therefore that dominion, which as to the execution of the Father's will is actually and fully in the Son, is nevertheless ultimately in the Father, and therefore here ascribed to him.
The dominion of the Father is an absolute sovereignty over all creatures, with whom he does therefore according to his own pleasure, and, without giving account of any of his matters, command, forbid, and dispose of them in all cases. And therefore his dominion implies,
First.-His absolute and everlasting empire, whereby he is King of kings and Lord of lords, sitteth over all from the beginning, and remaineth a King for ever.
Secondly.-And in consequence of this absolute empire, a right of giving laws to his subjects as he pleases, which are to be regarded as the sole rule of their conduct. So what we call virtue and vice, good and evil, do not at all consist in acting up to the supposed obligation arising from the fitness or unfitness of things, according to our estimation of them, but in obedience or disobedience to the supreme will of God. To obey God is virtue, and to disobey him is vice. To do or forbear, therefore, because the thing to be done seems fit, or because that which is to be forborne seems otherwise, exclusively of a due regard had to God's authority, however right it may be in itself thus to do or forbear, is no act of religion. There is no doubt that all God's commands are in themselves most right and fit, being constituted upon an infinitely wise plan devised by God himself; but then to do them solely because they are so, not because he commands them, is plainly to lay aside his authority. Yet upon that God insists. He will be obeyed absolutely. He does not subject his laws to our examination in such manner, that we shall only do them, because we see them right. He expects to be obeyed because he is God and King. Laying aside this measure of obedience we subject ourselves to endless dispute and uncertainty ; and, in fact, cast away that which can alone influence the conscience. God's will is the law of his subjects ; while they have regard to that as the ground of their obligation to do and forbear, they obey; when they depart from it, setting up another measure, and searching into the reasonableness of the command to found their obligation thereupon, they assuredly fall into sin. See all this in an instance or two. God said to Adam, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat ; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Here was a plain command of God, resting simply upon his authority, without the least intimation of a reason why the fruit of this tree was forbidden to be eat. It was the test of Adam's obedience to God's supreme will. Now what step does Satan take to effect his purpose ? He artfully draws away the woman's attention from the obligation arising out of God's authority, by leading her into an inquiry after the design and fitness of the prohibition. The ground of obedience being thus forgotten, he easily reasons her into a persuasion, that it would be far better for her to eat than forbear. Just so you may find it to have been with yourself. While, with never so good a design, you have been reasoning about the excellency of any of God's laws, in order to stir yourself up to conformity therewith, and have not laid as your foundation the command and authority of God, which alone has power to bind and influence the conscience, you have found that there was neither weight nor power from all your discoveries to constrain your mind, and, however you might judge such a conduct fit, you had no ability to practise it. It is the sense of God's sovereign authority which in fact influences to all duties. In the sight of this we can fear because we have done what was forbidden, or take confidence in God through Jesus Christ because we are doing what is commanded. But should you, without respect to God's authority, set yourself, from the unreasonableness of sin, or the reasonableness of believing, to the practice of godly fear, and exercising faith, you would certainly find yourself both unhumbled and unbelieving; which I doubt not is a com