Page images
PDF
EPUB

our weak eyes to behold, it is enough for me if I can but see some rays of that heavenly light, principalities, dominions, which in thy presence shines forth so gloriously upon thy creatures ; in the framing and governing whereof, whether thy power or wisdom did, and do more exhibit itself, thou only canst judge. Oh the divine architecture of this goodly fabric of heaven and earth, raised out of nothing, to this admirable perfection! What stupendous skill of composition is here! What exquisite symmetry of parts,

what exact order of degrees, what marvellous analogy betwixt beasts, fishes, plants, the natives of both elements ! Oh what a comprehensive reach is this of thy omniscience, which at once in one act beholds all the actions and events of all the creatures that were, are, or shall be in this large universe ! What a contrivance of thy eternal counsel, which hath most wisely and holily ordered how to dispose of every creature thou hast made, according to the pleasure of thy most just will! What a sway of providence is this that governs the world; overruling the highest, and stooping to the meanest part of thy creation, concurring with and actuating the motions and operations of all second causes of whatsoever is done in heaven or on earth! Yea, Lord, how wonderful are those irradiations of knowledge and wisdom, which thou hast beamed forth upon

thine intelligent creatures, both angels and men! As for those celestial spirits which see thy face continually, it is no marvel if they be illuminated in a degree far above human apprehension ; but that the rational man, even in this woeful pilgrimage below, notwithstanding the opacity of that earth

wherewith it is encompassed, should be so far enlightened as that it is able to know all the motions of the heavens, the magnitudes and distances of stars, the natures, properties, influences of the planets, the instant of the eclipses, conjunctions, and several aspects of those celestial bodies; that it can discover the secret treasures of earth and sea, and knows how to unlock all the close cabinets, both of art and nature; O God, what is this, but some little gleam of that pure and glorious light, which breaks forth from thy infiniteness upon thy creature! Yet, were the knowledge of all men on earth, and all the angels in heaven, multiplied a thousand-fold, how unable were it, being united together, to reach unto the height of thy Divine counsels, to fathom the bottom of thy most wise and holy decrees ! so they must be forced to cry out with that saint of thine, who was rapt into the third heaven, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Rom. xi. 33.

V. But with what a trembling adoration, O my soul, must thou needs look upon the infinite justice of thy God; whose inviolable rule is to render to every man according to his works ! Alas, the little good thou wert able to do, hath been alloyed with so many and great imperfections, that it can expect no retribution, but displeasure; and for the many evils whereof thou art guilty, what canst thou look for but the wages of sin, death? not temporary, and natural only, which is but a separation of thee a while from thy load of earth, but the spiritual and eternal separation from the presence of thy God, whose very want is the height of torments. Lo, whatever become of thee, God must be himself: in vain shouldst thou hope that for thyself he will abate aught of his blessed essence, of the sacred attributes : that righteous doom must stand, “ The soul that sins shall die.” Hell claims his due, justice must be satisfied; where art thou now, O my soul, what canst thou now make account of, but to despair and die! Surely, in thyself thou art lost: there is no way with thee, but utter perdition. But look up, O my soul, look up above the hills, whence cometh thy salvation; see the heavens open upon thee; see what reviving and comfortable rays

and
mercy

shine forth unto thee from that excellent glory; and out of that heavenly light hear the voice of thy blessed Saviour, saying to thee, “ O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help,” Hos. xiii. 9. Even so, O Jesus, in thee, only in thee is my help. Wretched man that I am, in myself I stand utterly forfeited to death and hell; it is thou who hast redeemed me with no less ransom than thy precious blood, 1 Pet. i. 19. Death was owing by me; by thee it was paid for me, so as now my debt is fully discharged, and my soul clearly acquitted. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again,” Rom. viii. 33, 34. Lo, now the rigour of thine inviolable justice is taken off by thine infinite mercy ; the sum that I could never pay, is by the power of that faith which thou hast wrought in me, set off to my all-sufficient Surety, and by thy Divine

of grace

goodness graciously accepted as mine; I have paid it in him, he hath paid it for me: thy justice is satisfied, thy debtor freed, and thy mercy magnified.

VI. There are no bounds to be set unto thy thoughts, O my soul, since whatsoever thy God either is, or hath done, comes within thy prospect. There, besides the great work of his creation, thou mayest dwell upon the no less almighty work of his administration of this universal world, whereof the preservation and government is no less wonderful than the frame; there thou shalt see the marvellous subordination of creatures, some made to rule, others to obey; the powerful influence of the celestial bodies upon the inferior; the continual transmutation of elements, forsaking their own places and natures, to serve the whole ; forms dying, matter perpetual; all things maintained by a friendly discord of humours, out of which they are raised; the circular revolution of fashions, occurrences, events; the different and opposite dispositions of men overruled to such a temper, that yet government is continued in the hands of few, society and commerce with all. In short, all creatures, while they do either naturally or voluntarily act their own part, doing unawares the will of their Creator.

But that which may justly challenge thy longer stay and greater wonder, is, the more than transcendent work of man's redemption; the mysteries whereof the holy angels have desired to look into, but could never yet sufficiently conceive or admire, 1 Pet. i. 12. That the Son of God, the Lord of glory, co-eternal, co-equal to his Father,

God blessed for ever, should take upon him an estate lower than their own; should clothe his Deity with the rags of our flesh; should stoop to weak and miserable manhood, and, in that low and despicable condition, should submit himself to hunger, thirst, weariness, temptation of devils, despite of men, to the cruelty of tormentors, to agonies of soul, to the pangs of a bitter, ignominious, cursed death, to the sense of his Father's wrath, for us wretched sinners, who had made ourselves the worst of creatures, enemies to God, slaves to Satan, is above the reach of all finite apprehension. Oh never to be enough magnified mercy! Thou didst not, O Saviour, when thou sawest mankind utterly lost and forlorn, content thyself to send down one of thy cherubim or seraphim, or some other of thy heavenly angels, to undertake the great work of our deliverance (as well knowing that task too high for any created power); but wouldst, out of thine infinite love and compassion, vouchsafe so to abase thy blessed self, as to descend from the throne of thy celestial glory, to this dungeon of earth; and not leaving what thou hadst, and what thou wast, to assume what thou hadst not, man; and to disparage thyself by being one of us, that we might become like unto thee, co-heirs of thy glory and blessedness. Thou who art the eternal Son of God wouldst condescend so low, as to be man; that we who are worms, and no men, might be advanced to be the sons of God. Thou wouldst be a servant, that we might reign. Thou wouldst expose thyself to the shame and disgrace of thy vile creatures here, that thou mightest

raise us up to the height

« PreviousContinue »