« PreviousContinue »
is an open fepulchre, and the poison of afps is under their tongue.” Yea, we find fallen man compared unto those cream tures that are most hurtful unto us; he is compared unto a toad, a serpent, an asp, a tyger, a lion, and the like hurtful beasts. 8. What is man, fallen man? Why, he is a dead creature, Eph. ii. 1. “ And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespaffes and sins :" Now, what account do we make of the dead? They are buried out of the fight of the living; “ Bury my dead out of my sight,” said Abraham of Sarah, so what account should God make of dead finners, who are destitute of the life of grace? but bury them out of his fight in hell. Thus I have told you some things in answer to that question, What is man? and told you what he is, as he is a creature, and as he is a finner, or a fallen creature. And, after all, is there not good ground for this question in my text, What is man, that thou takest knowledge of him? or the son of man, that thou makest account of him?
II. The second thing, What is imported in this regard that God shews unto man, and the son of man? He is here said to take knowledge of him, to make account of him. Answ. It implies, 1. That, for as low, mean, and miserable a creature man is, yet he is not beyond God's notice and observation. “ I saw thee,” says the Lord, “ when no eye pitied, when thou wast cast out and polluted in thy blood.” When Adam hid himself in the bushes of paradise, “ the eyes of the Lord were upon him.” He saw what a pitiful pickle he was in, and all mankind in him. So Gen. vi. 5: “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” 2. Wbat is man, that thou takest knowledge of him? It implies that the regard God shewş unto man does not flow from any thing in himself, that there is no excellency whatever in him, to recommend him unto God, neither birth nor beauty, nor riches, nor wisdom, no qualification at all that is defirable. When God takes knowledge of his elect in a way of mercy, what are they, but children of wrath, as well as others ? dead in fin: and therefore, " it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” 3. What is man? &c. It implies, that, whatever regard God shews unto man, it is the fruit of his own free grace, and sovereign will and pleasure : “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. I will heal their backslidings; I will love them freely,”. Hof. xiv. 4. Hence all the promises of the covenant, they run in the tenor of so
vereignty, vereignty, no other reason being given for them, but that of his own sovereign will. “I will be their God, and they shall be my people. I will sprinkle them with clean water, and they shall be clean ; from all their filthiness and idols will I cleanse them. A new heart also will I give you," &c. 4. What is man? It implies, that God has no need of man, or of any of his services; Job xxil. 2. “ Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous ? or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect ?” From whence it is plain, that God maketh not account of man, as that he could be profitable or advantageous to him. Oh, Sirs ! let us not fancy that God is obliged to us for our praying, reading, hearing, obedience, or communicating: no, no; God needs neither us nor our services, &c. 5. What is man? It implies, that God's mercy and love unto man, and the son of man, is of a preventing nature : man is not seeking after God when het kes knowledge of him in a way of mercy. What knowdedge was the poor infant taking of the Lord, when the Lord took knowledge of it, Ezek. xvi. 4-0. Ila. Ixv. 1, " I am fought of them that asked not after me, I am found of them that sought me not.” Oh Sirs ! none of Adam's race would ever look after God, did not God look after us: yea, so far are we from seeking afier God, that we are running further and further away from him, until he seek and find us, Isa. Jxji. 12. "Thou shalt be called sought out." God fought out and prevented Paul in the way to Damascus, when he had little thoughts of the Lord: he fought out Zaccheus, and every foul is fought out by preventing grace, &c. 6. What is man? It implies, that whatever man be, however despicable, low, and inconsiderable, yet God treats him as if he were some great and considerable person. Hence he is faid to magnify him in that forecited Job vii. 17. “ What is man that thou magnifieft him ?” he makes an account of him, as if he were something worth. But this leads me to
III. The third thing in the method, which was to show, wherein doth God discover such a regard to man, and the son of man? And here, as matter of praise upon a thanksgiving-day; let us consider, first, The regard that God shews unto all men in common ; secondly, The regard he thews to his chosen ge. neration, bis peculiar people.
First, I say, let us take a fhort view of the regard that God shews in common unto all men, and that both in creation and providence. It, Let us observe what regard God Thewed unto anan, that petty poor creaiure, at his creation. He builds a
stately house, and provides it with all necessary furniture, before he gave him a being. He rears up the beautiful fabric of heaven and earth for his use. He “ gives the sun to rule by day, and the moon to rule by night,” that by these luminaries be might see about him, and behold the other works of God. He spreads out the heavens as a curtain and canopy over his head, and studds and embellishes it with an innumerable mula titude of glittering stars, like so many stones of fire. He plants the garden of Eden with all manner of trees, and plants, and fruits. He calculates and adjusts the creation, to gratify both his sensitive and rational appetite: he makes colours to please his eye, founds to please his ear, delicious fruits and meats to gratify his taste, and savoury (mells his scent : he frames wonders in heaven above, and earth below, for his reasonable soul to pry and wade into with pleasure and delight. Thus, I say, God discovers his regard unto man, by building and furnishing a lodging for him, before he had gis ven him a being. But, 2dly, Let us conlider the regard God shews unto man in the course of his common providence, and that notwithstanding his apoftasy from the state in which he was created. 1. Then, although we be all transgrefl'urs from the very womb, yet he continues a succession of men upon the face of the earth : what a wonder was it, that upon the first fin of Adam, he did not hew down the root of mankind, and throw him into hell, in order to prevent the sprouting up of so many branches that have sprung off him, bearing the bira ter fruits of fin and rebellion against God? and yet, in his wonderful patience and long suffering, he continues a race of mankind upon earth, when he could, with so much ease, rid himself of his adversaries, and avenge himself of his enemies. O! what is man? 2. Let us fee the wonderful care that God has in and about the formation of man in the womb. What accession had you, or I, or yet our parents, in giving us these hands and feet, and other bodily members? how came it about, that these members and bodily parts are so well thaped, and that we were not born monsters? why, it is the hand of Providence that moulded and fashioned us after this manner. David, Psal. cxxxix. 14. observes this with praise and gratitude; “ I am fearfully and wonderfully made." 3. Whinever man is brought into the world, although he is the most helpless creature in himself, yet he has provided the belt of help to cherish and preserve him. He not only heips us into the world, and keeps us from being ititled in the birth, but he provides the knees to dandle, and the breasts 1o luckle us. He not only inspired our parents with tender care and affection towards us in our non-age and infancy; but ne himicif, as a tender parent, nourished and brought us up, preserving and providing for us, giving us our daily bread, and all the necessaries and conveniencies of life. Have any of us comfortable dwellings in a family capacity? why, it is God that sets the solitary in families. Have any of you a stock of chil. dren like olive plants round about your table ? why, children are God's heritage, and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Have you riches and worldly substance? why, this is of the Lord, as he tells Israel; “ It is his blessing that maketh rich ?" it is the Lord that giveth you to be rich. Has he given to any worldly honours and preferments? it is “ God that sets up one, and casts another down." Oh! how doth God follow man with goodness and mercy every year, and every day and moment! How quickly would all flesh be starved to death, if he did not open his large granaries every year, causing the earth to produce the grain that nourisheth us, and other creatures! The psalmist David observes this as matter of praise, Psal. cxlv. 15. 16. “ The eyes of all wait upon thee, and thou givest them their meat in due season, thou openest thy hand, and satisfieft the defire of every living thing." Oh, how wonderful is it, to behold the connection of causes that God has established ! how he has linked heaven and earth together, by his powerful hand, in order to the maintaining of man upon earth! Hof. ii. 21. 22. “ And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, faith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth, and the earth fhall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil, and they shall hear Jezreel.” Oh! what is man? or the fon of man, that the great wheels of the creation should be carried about for his benefit and fuftenance. And, to conclude this head of common providence, and the kindness God shews unto man there, let us observe, how the innocent creatures that never sinned against God, or violate the laws of their creation, are every day slaughtered for the use of rebel nothing man; the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the air, the beasis of the field, their lives sacrificed to suftain the life of man, who has forfeited his title unto all good things, either in this world or the world to come. Oh, what a favourite mult man be above the rest of the creatures? And fo valuable is the life of man, that he has made it one of the ten commandments of the moral law, binding to all generations, that none thall kill man, or take away his life, till his own immediate hand put an end and period to it. Life shall go for life; « Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man fhall his blood be shed :" and that for this good reason, because that “after the image of God created he him." Oh, may not this short hint of the kindness of God to man, running out in the
channel of common providence, make us to cry with David, here in the text, Lord, what is man? &c. But to pass this head of God's common goodness to man, in creation and providence.
Secondly, Let us next take a view of the good of his chofen, that we may triumphantly praise with his inheritance upon a day of thanksgiving. And here, believers, worthy communicants, let me turn even the doctrine into a word of exhortation, and call you in the words of the psalmift, upon a thanks. giving day: « Sing unto the Lord, 0 ye faints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” And to excite and engage you to this duty, you will consider with me a little, what knowledge the great God has taken of you, and what account he has made of you by the outgoings of his love. 1. Before time. 2. In time. 3. After time ends, in eternity.
1. I say will you take a view of his love and kindness towards you before time, and let that engage you to cry, What is man that thou takest knowledge of him, and of me in particular? (1.) Then I say, Let us run back to the ancient years of eternity, and see how the kindness and love of God to man, did appear then; “ when God looked upon you in your blood, he said unto you, Live, and your time was a time of love." Oh! is it not wonderful to see electing love, passing by the fallen angels, and resting upon such a poor pitiful creature as fallen Ginful man? And when he passed by kings and princes, noble, and wise, and rich, and many thousands that the world would think would been the objects of his love, he passed by them, and pitched upon thee, a poor creature that no body regards. Oh! is not thy foul saying, “ What am I, that God hath taken such knowledge of me? that he should have loved me with an everlasting love ? that he should have chofen me before the foundations of the world? and predestie : nated me to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ to himself ?” (2.) The decree of electing love being part, a method must be found out for thy salvation, consistent with the honour of the law and justice of God: and therefore, as if man, and the fon of man, had been some great creature, and thou in particular, believer, a council of the Trinity must be called to advise the matter; and thus the plan of thy salvation was laid. "Oh, says the eternal Father, my love is set upon a remnant of Adam's family, and I have proposed to save them, and to bring them to glory: but oh, how thall I put them among the children? I see that they will violate my law, and become liable to my wrath and justice, and my love to them cannot tent in a prejudice unio justice: and therefore, O Son of my Vol. Ill.