Page images

pression; and wisdom, subtilty; and fovereignty, tyranny; and goodness, malice and envy; and justice, cruelty; and inercy, foolish pity; and truth, fallood. And therefore the scripture speaks of this, as God's highest excellency and perfection. God is said to be glorious in holiness, Exod. xv. 11. Holiness is called God's throne, Psal. xlvii. 8. He fitteth upon the throne of his holiness. This is that which makes heaven; Isa. Ixiii. 15. it is called, The habitation of his holi. ness, and of his glory; as if this were the very nature of God, and the sum of his perfections. The knowledge of God, is called, The knowledge of the holy One, Prov. ix. 10. To be made partakers of a divine nature, and to be made partakers of God's holiness, are equivalent exprellions, 2 Pet. iii. 4. Heb. xii. 10. And because there is no perfection of God greater, therefore he is reprelented as swearing by this ; Psal. Ix. 6. God hath spoken in his hou liness. Psal. lxxxix. 35. Once have I sworn by my holiness. The Angels and glorified fpirits they furn up the perfections of God in this ; Fra. vi. 3. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. Rev. iv. 8. And they reft not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. There is no attribute of God so ofren repeated as this ; in some copies it is nine times.

II. I shall endeavour to prove, that this perfection belongs to God,

First, From the light of nature. The Philosophers, in all their discourses of God, agree in this, that whatever sounds like vice and imperfection, is to be feparated from the divine nature, which is to acknowledge his holiness. Plato, speaking of our likeness to God, faith, 'Ogolwgis , Nixanov xai orror μεταφρονήσεως γενέσθαι. Dan. iv. 9. King Nebuchadnezzar calls God by this title, I know that the Spirit of the holy gods is in thee. In a word, whatever hath been produced to prove any of God's moral perfections, proves his holiness.



Secondly, From scripture. There is no title so frequently given to God in scripture, and so often ingeminated, as this of his holiness. He is called holiness itself, Isa. Ixiii. 15. where heaven is called the habitation of his holiness, that is, of God. His name is said to be holy, Luke i. 49. And holy is his

He is called the holy Ore, Isa. xl. 25. The holy One of Israel, Isa. xli. 20. The holy One of Jacob, Isa. xxix. 23. He is said to be holy in all his works and promises, Psal. cv. 42.

In all his ways and works, Psal. cxlv. 17, This title is given to each of the three persons of the blessed Trinity; to God the Father, in innumerable places; to God the Son, Dan. ix. 24. To anoint the most holy. The Devil cannot deny him this title, Luke iv. 34. I knovo thee who thou art, the holy One of God. And the Spirit of God hath this title constantly given it, The Holy Ghost, or the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of holiness. The scripture attributes this perfection in a peculiar manner to God, 1 Sam. ii, 2. There is none holy as the Lord. Rev. xv. 4. For thou only art holy. Holiness is a communicable perfection; but no creature can partake of it in such a manner and degree as the divine nature poffefseth it. God is eternally holy, the fountain of holiness, the creatures are derivatively and by participation holy. God is eminently and transcendently so: the creatures in a finite degree. God is immutably so, it is impossible it should be otherwise ; but no creature is out of an absolute possibility of sin. In this sense it is said, Job iv. 18. that he putteth no trust in his servants; and his Angels he chargeih with folly. And chap. xv. 15. He putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his light. From all which I shall draw these inferences:

1. If holiness be a perfection of the divine nature, and a property of God; if, in the notion of God, there be included an everlasting separation and distance from moral imperfection, an eternal repugnance to lin and iniquiry : from hence we may infer, that there is an intrinsical good and evil in things; and the reasons and respects of moral good and evil do not depend upon any mutable, and inconftant,


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


and arbitrary principle, but are fixed and immutable, eternal and indispensable. Therefore they do not seem to me to speak fo safely, who make the die vine will, precisely and abitractedly, considered, the rule of moral good and evil ; as if there were nothing good or evil in its own nature antecedently to the will of God, but that all things are therefore good or evil, because God wills them to be so : For if this were fo, goodness, and righteousness, and truth, and faithfulness, would not be essential, and necessary, and immutable properties of the divine nature, but accidental, and arbitrary, and uncertain, and mutable ; which is to suppose that God, if he pleased, might be otherwise than good, and just, and

For it these depend merely upon the will of God, and be not necessary and essential properties of the divine nature, then the contrary of these, malice, and envy, and unrighteousness, and fallhood do not imply any, essential repugnancy to the divine nature; which is plainly contrary to what the scripture tells us, that God cannot be tempted with evil ; that it is impossible he should lie; that he cannot be unrighteous.

If any man fay that God hath now declared him." self to be just, and good, and faithful, and now he cannot be otherwise, because he is a God of truth, and he changeth not; this is to grant the thing: for this supposeth the veracity and immutability of God to be effential and necessary perfections of the divine nature ; and why not justice and goodness as well ? I say, it supposeth veracity and immutability to be effential perfections, and not to depend upon the will of God ; that is, that God cannot will to be otherwise than true and unchangeable: for if he could, what assurance can we possibly have, but that when he declares himself to be good, and just, he is, or may be otherwise ?

But I need not insist upon this, which seems to be so very clear, and to carry its own evidence along with it. I will only use this argument to prove it, and so leave it. No being can will its own nature, and effential perfections, that is, choose whether it will be thus, or otherwise ; for that were to suppose

it to be before it is, and before it hath a being, to deliberate about its own nature. Therefore, if this be the nature of God, (which, I think, no body will deny) to be good, and just, and true, and necessarily to be what he is ; then goodness, and justice, and truth, do not depend upon the will of God, but there are such things, such notions antecedently to any act of the divine will. And this does no ways prejudice the liberty of God; for this is the highest perfection, to be necessarily good, and just, and true ; and a liberty or poflibility to be otherwise, is impotency and imperfection. For liberty no where speaks perfection, but where the things and actions about which it is conversant are indifferent ; in all other things it is the highest perfe&tion not to be free and indifferent ; but immutable and fixed, and necessarily bound up by the eternal laws of goodness, and justice, and truth, so that it Thall not be possible to swerve from them ; and this is the perfection of the divine narure, which we call his holiness.

2. If holiness be the chief excellency and perfection of the divine nature, this shews us what account we are to make of sin, and wickedness, and vice. We may judge of every privation by the habit, for they bear an exact proportion one to another. Light and darkness are opposed, as habit and privation ; if light be pleasant and comfortable, then darkness is dismal and horrid. And so holiness and sin are opposed : If holiness be the highest perfection of any nature, then fin is the grand imperfection, and the lowest debasement of any being because it is the most opposite to that, and at the farthest distance from that which is the first excellency and perfe. &tion.

This should rectify our judgment and efteem of things and persons. We admire and esteem riches, and power and greatness; and we scorn and contemn poverty, and weakness, and meanness, yea, grace and holiness, it it be in the company of these. We are apt to reverence and value the great, and the rich, and the mighty of this world, though they be wicked, and to despise the poor man's wisdom, and


boliness; but we make a false judgment of things and persons. There is nothing that can be a foundation of respect, that ought to command our reverence and esteem, but real worth, and excellency, and perfection ; and according to the degrees of this, we ought to bestow our respect, and raise our esteem. What St. James saith of respect of persons, I may apply in this cale, Jam. ii. 4. Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and become judges of evil thoughts ? We are extremely partial; we make a false judg. ment, and reason ill concerning things, when we admire gilded vices, and wickedness exalted to high places ; I mean ungodly rich men, and ungodly great men ; for wicked men are properly ungodly, unlike to God; and when we contemn poor, and mean, and afflicted holiness and piety, were but our eyes open, and our judgment clear and unprejudiced, we should see a beauty and resplendency in goodness, even when it is under the greatest disadvantage, when it is cloathed with rags, and fits upon a dung-hill, it would shine through all these mists, and we should see a native light and beauty in it, through the darkness of a poor and low condition : And we should see wickedness to be a most vile and abject thing, when it appears in all its gallantry and bravery ; we should look upon the poor righteous, man, as more excellent than his neighbour ; and the profane gallant, as the off-scouring of the earth. We should value a man that does justice, and loves mer. cy, and speaks the truth to his neighbour; we should esteem any one more upon the account of any one of these limple qualities, than we should another man deftitute of these, upon the account of an hundred titles of honour, and ten thousand acres of land. A wicked, unholy man, he is a vile perfon, who deferves to be contemned ; and an holy man, he is the right honourable ; Psal. xv. 4. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned ; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. The vile person is opposed to him that fears the Lord. He that is bold to affront God, and fin against him, is the base and ignoble person. God himself, who is possessed of all excellency and per


« PreviousContinue »