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And I pray
to be displeased with any of his dispensations, but to leave myself for life or death, health or sickness, prosperity or adversity, in all places, times, changes, and conditions, to his guidance ; and being purposed by his help so to demean myself under all his providential will, as both not to dishonour him, and also to testify to my own conscience and to the world that I really believe the providence of my God, that I trust upon him as my Father, and submit to him as his servant. And this is what I honestly intend, and sincerely mean, when I make my confession, and say, “ I believe in God the Father Almighty.”'
Here you see, brethren, the faith of a Christian concerning the dominion of God. And you cannot but observe that every tittle of it goes into the practice of the heart and life.
Now could you, as I went along, adopt the confession here read before you? Or, if you could not as you wished, yet did you really desire to do so, and honestly purpose by the grace of God that you would never cease your endeavour of coming nearer and nearer to this temper and conduct of a subject of God? Then I must say,
66 Peace be unto you. that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” But did you find this faith was not in you ? That from point to point, as we went on, there was a grievous opposition between your temper and that described ? That you knew not God's dominion, and were and had been subservient to selfish and worldly aims, standing out in rebellion, and affecting still to be your own master, and independent of God in all your views and prospects? That you had not subjected your spirit, soul, and body, to God's government, irreverently disregarding his commanding will, or calling the fitness of it in question, or living at your own discretion, or framing a religion from your own head, suited to your own fancy, and conforming to the will of God so far only as you pleased ? That you could not digest God's distributions of rewards and punishments, being dissatisfied that everything was not just according to your mind, displeased because there was no other way to heaven besides that disagreeable one of Gospel-obedience, and your heart rising with peculiar aversion against the sentence of everlasting damnation? That you had been disinclined to God's providential disposals, had always wished to have the management of yourself, being continually displeased with what was ministered unto you, never rich enough and great enough, things never to your mind, always dissatisfied, always complaining, always unthankful? Have you found, I say, that you have been thus perversely minded, quite another thing in heart and life from what a believer is, and every reasonable creature of God should be? Do you find that you have never owned God's dominion, nor subjected your conduct to his authority, nor paid any reverence to his tremendous threatenings or gracious promises, nor given yourself up to the guidance of his Providence, but have been in the temper of your heart, and behaved in the actions of your life, as if
you had been your own master, and there had been no God to rule over you; as if you
had been sent into the world to do as you list, and there was never any account to be taken ; as if the world was made for you, and not you and it for God? I say, have you led an ungodly, idle, wicked, unhumbled, selfish life? If this be your case, it is plain you cannot say, “ I believe in God the Father Almighty;" for you
do not at all believe in him as Lord over you. No, you are a rebel, and so you have always been ; and, let me tell you, so God regards you. That indeed may seem a light matter now; but, when the Almighty shall set the terrors of his indignation and vengeance in array against you, it will then not be so indifferent a thing as you at present make it. Why, my friends, what in the name of God do you mean to do? You will not surely stand it out in defiance? If so, you will infallibly fall into the hands of the living God; and that is a terrible thing. You cannot, can you, fight against him that made the worlds, and will burn them up with the breath of his mouth? You are not, you know you are not, stronger than he.
you are not, stronger than he. What then will the end of this be? Who do you really think will prevail ? What ! you, against God ? See if you can stand forth now, make the few following trials. Stop the course of yonder sun. Stop the advance of age. Say, I will never grow old. Keep sickness at a distance. Drive all disappointment before you. Arrest the hand of Death, and, with an authority that he dares
not resist, tell him, Thou shalt not kill me. Come, do only this. Alas! are you not able ? How then can you fight against God?
O what, what will the end be! As your friend I heartily advise you, as your minister, as though God did beseech you by me, I humbly plead with, entreat, and pray you to be reconciled to God. What a shame is it, when God condescends, that you shall stand out, refuse his offered mercy, refuse his service, and rush upon your own ruin ! Will you then continue obstinate ? I trust you will not. Hear what Mercy says, that mercy which waits to be gracious to you, “ As I live I have no pleasure in the death of a sinner, why will ye die ?" Hear how injured Majesty affectingly complains, “ The ox knoweth his owner, but my people will not consider.” Hear what Conscience remonstrates, “ Wilt thou thus requite the Lord?” Hear how Jesus invites, “ Come to me and be saved, come and I will give thee a crown of life.” Hear the voice of departed saints, “ O follow me !" and the voice of departed sinners, “ O come not into this place of torment !” Hear the cry, the united cry, of God, Christ, Angels, Ministers, Time, Death, Judgment, Eternity, Heaven, Hell—“ Return, return, and save thy soul !"
I can say no more. The Lord give you his grace, without which all these cries and calls will be ineffectual ! The Lord give you his grace, and make you his happy everlasting servants. Amen, Amen.
Now unto the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
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.
We are now to conclude the first article of the Creed, and to speak of the last words of it, “ Maker of heaven and earth.”
The Person to whom creation is here ascribed is the Father. In divers places of Scripture this work is attributed to the Son, as also to the Holy Ghost. Concerning which it should be observed, that though the action of each Person in the Trinity be that of the whole Godhead, inasmuch as the three Persons do not subsist separately, but unitedly, in the same substance, yet each Person has an office towards us which is peculiar to himself, the actions of which cannot in the same sense be ascribed to the other. In all actions towards us the order of the Trinity is, that the Father is the mover, and the Son executes from him by the Spirit, and nevertheless we are taught to say, that certain actions are more proper to one of these divine Persons than to the others, in which view we ascribe the work of creation to the Father, the work of redemption to the Son, and the work of sanctification to the Spirit, notwithstanding that all these three works are originally in the Father, and that there is a concurrence and co-operation of all the Persons in all of them.
To create is to make what was not before. Before the creation there was nothing but God, who was pleased, by an astonishing exertion of his will and power, to produce all things into being, in all that beautiful order and excellent perfection wherein they subsist. He created the heaven and the earth, and all things that are in both of them. “For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible ; whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers ; all things were created by him and for him.'
But simply to own that God is the Maker of heaven and earth is not to enter into the design of this point, considered as a matter of Christian faith. We must consider what is the end of God's making the heaven and the earth; for, whatever that be, correspondent thereunto is the intention and disposition of the person here professing his faith. Now we are expressly told, that God did not create the world in vain, but that he made all things for himself, for his glory, that we should show forth his praise ; because not only of him and to him, but also and especially for him, are all things. And if this was the design of the creation, then the faith of our professor, suitable hereunto, is an acknowledgment of God's right and property in all things for his glory, accompanied with a disposition to use all things accordingly. For the word is not this, • I believe that God is the Maker of heaven and earth ;' but, I believe in God considered in the character of the great Creator of all things,' which implies, that I am returned from my alienation and independency to my proper place of a creature, and am willing to behave toward God in a creaturely manner, glorifying him as the work of his own hands ought to do. What was the temper of Adam's heart while in innocence towards his Creator ? and what use was he disposed to make of himself, and every thing about him? Just that is the language of the believer's heart in regard of his Creator, and what he wishes to be and do when he says, “ I believe in God, the Maker of heaven and earth.” The true belief of God as Maker of all things restores the order of creation, brings into execution God's original design, ranges everything in its proper place, exalts the Creator, and reduces the creature to his due estate of dependency. Wherefore, to believe in the Maker of heaven and earth implies,
First.-A disposition, with reverence, humility, and adoration, to ascribe unto God the glory of his works. The song of the elders is, “ Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power : for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Like unto which is the song of David, “ The heavens declare the glory of God, and