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To love, honour, and obey the deity, as the divine law requires, is as much our privilege as it is our duty. And nothing but our criminal blindness to the absolute persection, to. the infinite glory and amiableness of the divine nature, prevents its appearing so to our souls.
Suppose a father of an unblemished character, of consummate wisdom, the owner of a large estate, at the head of a numerous family, for the children to love his character, respect his person, to put an implicit trust in the wisdom of his conduct relative to family affairs, to rejoice in his supremacy, power, and authority, over his household, and that all the estate is in his hands, and all his family dependent on him, and in their temper and behaviour to be all dependence, subjection and obedience, is as much their privilege, as it is their duty. And nothing but a criminal state of mind can prevent its appearing so in their eyes. To be disaffected to such a father's character, to be discontented under his government, to rise in rebellion, to go and leave his house, is as imprudent and foolish, as it is undatiful and wicked; and must appear so to the prodigal child, as soon as ever he comes to himself. And now lo repent and return, and become a dutiful child, must appear not only the fittest, but the happiest thing in the world. And to have such a man, with such an estate in bis hands, for a father, is better for a child, than to have all the estate put into his own hands, and to be rendered supreme and independent. So for us sinners to repent and be converted, to return to God through Jesus Christ, and to have him for our God and Father, is better, yea, infinitely better than to have all the universe put into our hands. And to love his character, delight in his exaltation, rejoice in his supremacy and independency, and in the infinite wisdom and absolute perfection of his universal government, and to be full of holy fear and reverence, submissive, resigned, obedient, as dutiful children, is not only an honour due to God from us, but also our bigbest privilege and happiness. It is heaven on earth. It is even the beginning of .eternal life in the soul. And nothing but criminal blindness can prevent its appearing so to us all. Ps. Ixxvii. 22. foolish was I, and ignorant ; I was as a beast before thee.
I will be their God, as it is in its own nature the greatest possible good ; -80 it is the grand blessing of the Gospel, in which all the rest finally terminate. Heb. iv. 10. Rev. xxi. 7. Regeneration, repentance towards God, faith to
7 wards our Lord Jesus Christ, justification, adoption, sanctifi. cation, and glorification, considered under the notion of Gospel privileges and blessings, all suwmarily consist, in our being delivered from an everlasting separation, in temper and state, from the deity, with its consequences; and brought to an everlasting'enjovment of God, as our father, friend, and portion. By the fall we lost God, we lost his image and fayour, we lost a heart to love him, and a right to enjoy him; we became disaffected to him, and we forsook him, and were doomed to depart, to be for ever given up to the power of sin, and to be monuments of the divine wrath for ever. In regeneration, repentance, faith, justification, adoption, sanclification, and glorification, we are recovered to the image and favour of God, to a heart to love him, and a right to enjoy him, and to the actual love and enjoyment of him as our God, our supreme good, our father, friend, and portion. Everlasting or eternal life, is the phrase most commonly used to express summarily all the blessings of the Gospel, in contrast with eternal death, the wages of the first, the wages of every sin. John iii. 15, 16. 36. Chap. iv. 14. Chap. v. 27. Chap. vi. 40. 47. Rom. vi. 23. &c. And our Saviour tells us wherein eternal life consists. John xvii. 3. This is life eternal to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. God the Father, who is eminently Father and Lord of heaven and earth, (not exclusive of the Son and spirit,) is considered as the sum and fountain of all perfection and of all good. Ps. Ixxiii. 23. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth I desire besides thee. Christ is considered as the way to the Father, the only way in which sinners can come to the enjoyment of him. John xiv. 6. I am the way, no man cometh to the Father but by me. And the holy spirit is considered, as the person by whom we are quickened, raised from the dead, and brought to God throught Jesus Christ. Eph. ii. 18. Through Christ we have access by the spirit of the Father. And when
the work of redemption is completely finished, and all the redeemed brought to beaven, God will be all in all through
1 Cor. xv. 28. Therefore, I will be their God, is the grand blessing of the Gospel, in which all the rest finally terminate. This, therefore, is in an eminent manner that treasure in a field ; Mat. xii. 44. that Pearl of great price, (ver. 46,) for which every divinely enlightened soul, willingly and joyfully sells all things. God himself, to be loved and enjoyed through Jesus Christ, is the royal feast, shadowed and represented by the marriage a king made for his son, wbich was so slighted and despised by those who were called, and kindly and earnestly invited to come. Mat. xxii. And this is that bread to be eat in the kingdom of heaven, that great supper, from coming to which, they all with one consent desired to be excused. Luke xiv. This is that recompense
. of reward, the everlasting enjoyment of God, which Moses had in view through all his trials, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. Heb. xi. 26, 27. And by the way, this is the true reason, that the greut feast, (Mat. xxii.) was slighted, and the great supper, (Luke xiv.) despised by the Jews, who all reckoned of going to heaven, as much as other carnal people do. Even, this is the true reason, that the happiness proposed in the Gospel, is as much disrelished by carnal hearts, as the holiness which is there urged. For the happiness is a holy happiness, a kind of happiness which an unholy heart entirely disrelishes. Therefore, they made light of it, and went their ways. They looked upon it as a burden, and desired to be excused. For in strict trutb there is no such heaven as carnal kearts imagine, when ravished to think their sins are pardoned, and heaven their own. Their God, their Christ, their heaven, are all the fruit of their own imaginations, and satan’s delusions. For the heaven of the Gospel carnal men would not bave, if they might. . Yea, they perfectly disrelish it, they absolutely reject it, they obstinately refuse it, and many will sooner kill the messengers who invite them, than come to the feast. Thus our Saviour states the case. Mat, xxii. 6.- But to return :
If the absolute perfection, the infinite glory and amiableness of the supreme Governor and Lord of the universe, ren
ders him the supreme and all-sufficient good; then, as soon as our eyes are opened to see his absolute perfection, his ineffable glory and beauty, he will begin to appear such to our souls. For now we begin to see things as they be. For this is what is meant by our eyes being opened. And if God does appear such to our souls; to quit all idols, to return to him, to love him, to live to him, to be for him, to have him for our God and father, and portion, in time and to eternity, will be esteemed the highest possible privilege, if we may.But,
The same absolute perfection and infinite glory and beauty of the divine nature, which renders God the supreme good, renders him infinitely worthy of supreme love and delight, and our disaffection infinitely criıninal, and us infinitely illdeserving : so that it would be even a glorious act in God to banish us for ever froin his presence. Nor according to bis holy law, that perfect rule of right, is any thing else to be expected. Nor in this view is there any hope in our case ; yea, it does not appear how he can, consistent with his honour, do any less than cast off for ever, creatures so infinitely vile. But,
II. If Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, it is certain, beyond all dispute, that the holy and righteous governor of the world can, consistently with his honour, and is willing to become a God and Father and everlasting portion to any, the vilest and the worst, that shall return to him through. Jesus Christ, For,
If the absolutely perfect being has given his own Son, of equal glory with hiinself, to be incarnate, to obey and die in the room of sinners, to magnify his law and make it honourable, to declare his righteousness, that he might be just, and yet the justifier of him ihat believeth in Jesus; and if he has finished the work appointed bim to do; and if in testimony of his Father's acceptance and full satisfaction, he hath raised him from the dead, yea, set him at his own right hand in heaven, where he appears in the character of a great high priest, with his own blood, and ever livetb to make intercession ; in consequence of which by the decree of heaven, repentance and remission of sins, are ordered to be preached to all nations in his name, and whosoever will, may come, however vile and ill-deserving ; yea, all are invited to come, and prayed and beseeched to be reconciled 10 God, who is represented as ready to receive the returning sinner, as the Father was to receive his returning prod igal. If all this is true; and all this is true if Jesus is the Messiah ; then beyond all doubt God can, consistently with his honour, and is willing to receive to favour, and to become a God and Father to all, whoever they be, that shall return to him through Jesus Christ. Wherefore,
As it appears to the enlightened soul the fittest and bappiest thing imaginable, to return to the God of glory, as his rightful Lord and supreme good, to live to him and upon him, if he may; and as in this view of things, he is assured that liberty is granted to any, the vilest and the worst, to return through Jesas Christ ; so now, with the prodigal son in Luke xv. he does return, and find acceptance. And thus the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ begins eternal life in the soul, agreeable to our Saviour's words in John xvii. 3. This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
And from these truths thus briefly stated, we may see, how great the good offered in the Gospel is; how free it is offered; the sin and madness of rejecting it ; the absurdity of believing we have a title to heaven, when the very heaven offered is rejected with abhorrence.
I. The good offered in the Gospel is of infinite worth and value. Yea, it is the sum and substance of all good in the universe. For even God himself offers to be our God, and Father, and portion. This was originally man's supreme good in paradise. This was forfeited by our apostacy. The second Adam, our near kinsman, bas redeemed the inheritance, and opened a way for us to come to a lawful possession. The curse of the law doomed us to an everlasting separation from God, but the blood of Christ has opened a way for us to come to the everlasting enjoyment of him.
In heaven they enjoy God as the supreme good; they are ravished with the glories of his nature, charmed with the beauties of his character, exquisitely delighted in his axaltation, in his supremacy, in his universal perfect government,