Page images

vereignty, no other reason being given for them, but that of his own sovereign will. "I will be their God, and they (hail be my people. I will sprinkle them with clean water, and. they shall be clean; from all their filthinese and idols will I cleanse them. A new heart also will I gire you," &c. '.4* What is man? It implies, that God has no need of man, or of any of his services; Job xxii. 2. " Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wife 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 it plain, that God maketh not account of man, as that he could be profitable or advantageous to him. Oh, Sirs! Jet 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 mans It implies, th it God's mercy and love unto man, and the son of man, is of a preventing nature: man is not seeking after God when he t kts knowledge of him in a way of mercy. What knowledge was the poor infant taking of the Lord, when the Lord took knowledge of it, Ezek. xvi. <j—0. Isa. Ixv. 1. •' I am sought of them 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 after God, that we are running further and further away from him, until he seek and find us, lfa. Ixii. 12. "Thou shalt be called sought out." God sought out and prevented Paul in the way to Kamascus, when he had little thoughts of the Lord: he sought out Zaccheus, and every foul is fought out by preventing gTace, &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 said to magnify him in that forecited Job vii. 17. "What is man that thou magnified 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 (how, wherein doth God discover such a regard to man, and the Jon es man? And here, as matter of praise upon a thanksgiving-day; let us consider, firjt, The regard that God shews unto all men in common; secondly, The regard he (hews to his chosen generation, bis peculiar people.

First, I fay, let us take a short view of the regard that God {hews in common unto all men, and that both in creation and providence. \/t, Let us observe what regard God shewed unto man, that petty poor creature, at his creation. He builds a


stately house, and provides it with all necessary furniture, before be gave him a being. He rears up the beautiful fabric of heaven and earth for his use. He "gives the fun to rule by day, and the moon to rule by night," that by these luminaries he might see about him, and behold the other works of God. He spreads out the heavens as a curtain and canopy over his bead, and studds and embellishes it with an innumerable multitude of glittering stars, like so many stones of sire. He plants the garden of Eden with ail 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, sounds to please his ear, delicious fruits and meats to gratify his taste, and savoury smells his scent: he frames wonders in heaven above, and earth below, for his. reasonable foul to pry and wade into with pleasure and delight. Thus, I fay, God discovers his regard unto man, by building and furnishing a lodging for him, before he had given him a being. But, idly, Let us consider the regard God shews unto man in the course of his common providence, and that notwithstanding his apostasy from the state in which he was created. 1. Then, although we be all transgressors 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 iin of Adam, he did not hew down the root of mankind, and brow him into hell, in order to prevent the sprouting up of sa many branches that have sprung off him, bearing the bitter 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. 0! ivhat is mans 2. Let us fee the wonderful care that God has in and about the formation of man in the womb. What cceision had you, or I, or yet our parents, in giving us these hartds and feet, and other bodily members? how came it shout, that these members and bodily pans are so well shaped, and that we were not born monsters i why, it is the hand of Providence that moulded and fashioned us after this manner. David, Ptal. cxxxix. 14. observes this with praise and gratit«de; " I am fearfully and wonderfully made." 3. Whinem man is brought into the world, although he is the most helpless creature in himself, yet he has provided the btit of help to cherish and preserve him. He not omy heip« us mto the world, and keeps us from being stilled in the birth, hut he provides the knees to dandle, and the breasts to tuv Kit us. He not only inspired our parents with tendtr care and affection towards us in our non-age and infancy i but he himself,


as a tender parent, nourished and brought us up, preserving and providing for us, giving as 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 children 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 i" it is the Lord that giveth you to be rich. Has he given to any worldly honours ants 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 opened thy hand, and satisficst the desire of every living thing.' Oh, how wonderful is it, to behold the connection of'causcs that God has established f how he has linked heaven and earth together, by his powerful hand, in order to the maintaining of man upon earth! Hos. 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 (hall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil, and they shall heat Jezreel." Oh? what is man t er the son of man, that the great wheels of the creation should be carried about for his benefit and sustenance. And, to conclude this head of common providence, and the kindness God (hews 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 beasts of the field, their lives sacrificed to sustain 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 must man be above the rest of the creatures? And so 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 (hall kill man, or take away his life, till his own immediate hand put an end and period to it.' Life (hall go for life; "Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shalt' lii ■ t>lood be shed :" and that for this good reason, because that *' aster the image of God created he him." Oh, may not this short hint of the kindness of God to man, Tunning out in the 1 channel

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 choseny tbat 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 psalmist, upon a thanksgiving day: "Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints 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. i. Before time. 2. In time. 3. After time ends, in eternity.

1. I fay will you take a view of his love and kindness towards you btfore time, and let that engage you to cry, What a man that thou takest knowledge of him, and of me in particular? (1.) Then I fay, Let us run back to the ancient years of eternity, and fee 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 lore." Oh I is it not wonderful to fee electing love, pasting by the fallen angels, and resting upon such a poor pitiful creature as fallen sinful man? And when he passed by kings and princes, noble, and wife, 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 soul faying, "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 chosen me before the foundations of the world? and predestinated me to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ to himself f" (2.) The decree of electing love being past, a method most be found out for thy salvation, consistent with the honour of the law and justice of God: and therefore, as if man, and '&/»» 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, fays 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 stiall 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 sent in a prejudice unto justice: and therefore, O Son of my ^

Yol. III. X eternal ^r


eternal love, I set rhee up, and ordain to assume their nature in the fulness of rime; a body for this rnd hive I prepared for thee, that thou mayst, as th'ir Surety and Rrdeemer, fulfil my law in their room, and satisfy mv justice, by the sacrifice of thy death: and I hereupon ptomife, that I will stand by thee in the work; mine arm shall strengthen thee; I will raife thee from tht dead, and set thee oil my right hand; and I will give them as a feed to serve thee, thou shalt be their Head, their Husband, their Advocate, and Mediator, and thou shalt reign over them as a peculiar kingdom, for ever and %t evet.'-*—' I agree with my whole heart to the overture, fays the eternal 3cm; " Lo, I come; in the volume of thy book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God;" yea this law of redemption is wifhm my heart -, it is seated in the midst of my bowels.'-**' Agrees to it, fays the Holy Ghost: I will form his human nature, by my overshadowing power, in the womb of the virgin : I will sanctify his human nature, and make it a fit residence for the fulness of the Godhead to dwell in, that, out of that fulness, they may receive grace for grace: I wit! take of the thmgs that are fiii, and shew them onto them; and carry on the work of fanctificatbn in them, till they be brought unto glory."—Thus, I fay, the plan and method of thy saltation was laid, believer, m eternity, before the foundations of the world was laid. O then, shall not the Cflnsiderttion of all this make us cry, Lord, what is man, (bat thou taitft knowledge of him ? er the fan of man, that thou mokeft aeeottni of him* 2. Let us come down from eternity to time, and fee what weik is made, in the execution of this glorious project of free grace and love towards man. This World being created, as a theatre upon which the glorious scene was to be acted ; man is brooght forth into the stage ; a covenant of works transacted between God and him, by the breach of which man is plunged into an abyss of misery and sin. But t:o sooner is he fallen, but the eternal purpose and project of infinite love and wisdom begins to bteak forth; and so the scene of grace begins to he acted. When man is trembling at the apprehensions of being HriclsCfl through with the flaming sword of justice, a promik os relief and deliverance breaks out from under the dark ck>i»<f of wrath, " That the feed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent." An angry and offrnried God on a sudden becomes Immanuf.i., God with us, toavenjre the quarrel Upon the old krpent, for the hurt he had done his viceroy an" representative In this lower world. This grace contained in the first promise, i* gr'du.illy opened in promises, types, and pr0* phecies, during the Old Testament occonomy; until, according ♦ft the concert in the-council of peace, and declared refolutw"

« PreviousContinue »