THE EIGHTH SERMON.
EXODVS. 3.13.14, 15.
13 And Moses said unto GOD; behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them; The GOD of your Fa∣thers hath sent me unto you, and they shall say unto mee, What is his Name? what shall I say unto them?
14 And GOD said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM. And he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel; I AM hath sent me unto you.
15 And GOD said moreover unto Moses, Page 134 Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Is∣rael; The LORD GOD of your Fa∣thers, the GOD of Abraham, the GOD of Isaac, and the GOD of Iacob hath sent me unto you: this is my Name for ever, and this is my memoriall unto all genera∣tions.
[ 3] COnsider, whether your mindes ga∣ther an holy magnanimitie even from hence,* that you have the Lord for your God: for, if he be most per∣fect, if hee hath the fulnesse of all things in him; then if you have him, the minde is ready to grow to an holy kind of greatnesse; for it is the greatnesse of the object, that makes the minde great: and the greatnesse of the minde ap∣pears in this, that it doth not esteeme smal things. Animo magno nihil est magnum; When a man can, out of this consideration, that the LORD is my Sunne, and shield, and exceeding great reward, contemne and reckon all things else as matters of small moment; it is an argument that he hath, in truth, apprehended God, as hee ought to appre∣hend him. I say, this is true holy magnanimity: there is a false magnanimity; whereas mens mindes are great, because they grow great with men, because of their great hopes, and riches, and great learning; this is a false greatnesse, because it drawes men from God; it is such a greatnesse as Page 135 the arme hath, when it is swelled, which riseth not from the strength and true greatnesse of it, but from the weaknesse of it. This is of an ill kinde; but there is another kinde of greatnesse, when the minde growes therefore to an holy magnanimity, because it is set upon the great God: as David, he had such a magnanimity, Psal. 27.1.3.*The LORD is my light, and my salvation, whom shall I feare? The LORD is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Though an host of men should incampe against me, my heart should not feare, &c.
If there be any thing in this world to be re∣garded, it is an host of men; because it is the powerfullest thing amongst men; but I will not regard it. Why? not because hee was stron∣ger than they, but because God was his life and strength; when his minde raised up it selfe to such a greatnesse, upon this consideration, then he was able to contemne these things, that were to be contemned. Such was the greatnesse of minde, which was found in Moses, Hebr. 11. he cared not for the favour,* or disfavour of the King, Because hee saw, enjoyed, and bore himselfe upon him, which was invisible.
[ 4] Consider, whether you exalt him as God, you shall know it by this,* by seeking to him to fill up all those defects and imperfections, that we meet with in our lives, from day to day. Beloved, there are many things that we want; as if we lose a friend, we complaine of a want; if we lose fa∣ther or mother, it is a want; yea, if wee lose no∣thing, Page 136 yet we find many defects which we would have made up: now, what is the way to doe it? If thou thinkest to make them up by the creature, thou wilt finde it to be but a small bush that will not stop the gap; but if thou goest to him that is all in all, Coloss. 3. if thou seekest to make it up in him,* when any thing is lost: when the bucket is broken, if thou goest to the fountaine; if a beame be cut off that was given and shined thorow the creature, if thou goest to the Sunne, that can give the like beame thorow another creature; if thou seekest to have communion with him, then it is an argument that thou esteemest him as thou oughtest to doe.
[Object.] Every man will say; I seeke to the Lord, I looke for all my comfort from him.
[Answ.] Yea, but how doest thou bestow thy labour? Isai. 55.2.*Wherefore doe you spend money for that, which is not bread? and your labour for that, which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto mee, and eat that which is good, and let your soule delight it selfe in fatnesse. Let a man consider in this case, how he bestoweth his paines: if he thinke to have all in God, he will save his paines, and not lay it out up∣on vanitie, but he will bestow it to some purpose; that is, he will take much paines to seeke his fa∣vour in all things, and looke to him for a supply of all, and not to the creatures, because they can doe but little, they have no power, no strength to doe any thing, they are of no moment; but if God be pleased to make up the defect, then if he have but little wealth, he will make it to serve his turne; if Page 137 he have but one friend, it shall be to him, as if he had many; if he hath but a little credit, it shall be to him, as if he had a great name, &c. all things else are but of a little bulke without him.
[Object.] But the creatures are of great moment, expe∣rience shewes them to be something: for, who lives without them? Againe, are not wee com∣manded to pray for outward blessings? and wee are not to pray for that which is nothing. Again, doth not the Scripture reckon them so? they are things for which we must be thankfull, and the want of them doth afflict us, and we must esteeme it as a chastisement. Now, no man will be thank∣full, or afflict himselfe for that which is nothing; and therefore there is something in the creature, they are not altogether nothing or vanitie.
To this we will give a threefold answer:*
[Answ. 1] Though they be something; yet their efficacy is not from themselves, but from the Lord. A horse is able to doe something, but to save a man, it is a vaine thing; the builder builds, but it is no∣thing, and the watch-men watch in vaine with∣out the Lord; the efficacie that they have to doe us hurt or good,* is from him, and not from them∣selves: If God will say to the creature; Goe, and doe such a man good, it will doe it, because there goes a concourse of efficacie from him to doe it: So, if he say to a creature, Goe to such a man, and afflict him, it will doe it, though it be never so small and meane a creature; therefore of them∣selves they neither doe good nor hurt, the effica∣cie that they have is from him, and not from Page 138 themselves: they are meere instruments; and if God withdraw his blessing and cursing, they can doe us neither good nor hurt.
[Answ. 2] We say that they are nothing, because they are at his command;* if he would doe us good, hee never wants one to send of his errand; if he will make a man rich, he wants not wealth, it is at his command; if he will give a man friends, he can fetch them againe; if all thy friends be present, yet they stirre not, unlesse he command. The rich and the poore, they meet together, but the LORD makes them both. And in this regard, riches are said to be nothing, Prov. 23.*Riches take to them∣selves wings, and fly away; And, why doest thou set thy heart upon that which is nothing? That is, they goe and come at his command; and therfore they are to be accounted as nothing. If a man see a flocke of the best fowle on his land, yet he looks upon them as nothing to him, because they have wings and will fly away; and you should thinke so of all things else; that they have wings, that they goe and come at his command, that they are nothing, because they are nothing to you.
[Answ. 3] They are nothing, because they can doe but little good; and that which they do, is of no con∣tinuance;* and therefore they are said to be vani∣tie. So that put the case that they have some effi∣cacie in them, (when yet they are acted by the Lord;) yea, put the case that they were at their owne command (as they are not) yet they can doe but little good, and that is of so short conti∣nuance, that therefore they are vanity, they are Page 139 nothing; because they are little more than no∣thing; as Salomon calleth them; all things under the Sunne are vanitie; they are emptie things; and that which is under the Sun cannot reach above the Sunne; and therefore they are said to be va∣nitie.
[Object.] But if you say that they are great things, and therefore you see how the Prophets did magni∣fie them, and did set forth the greatnesse of affli∣ctions in the want of them.
[Answ.] I answer, that they are of use indeed, in re∣gard of the weaknesse of the creature, and the continuance of this life; but if they be compared to eternitie, they are nothing; and againe, if the Lord be with us in the want of them, they are no∣thing; if the Lord send us afflictions, and give us his favour and the light of his countenance, it is nothing; if he send us into prison, if he be with us, it will be nothing: As, on the contrary, if a man had a brave Palace, and God was not with him, if he did withdraw his favour from him, all were nothing.
The second Attribute of GOD.
The next Attribute,* which likewise may bee drawne from this place, is this:
That GOD is the first, without all causes,*having his being, and beginning from himselfe. This I finde set downe in Rev. 1.8.*I am ALPHA and O∣MEGA, the beginning and the ending, saith the LORD, which is, which was, and which is to come, the Almightie, that is, what Alpha and Omega are in the letters, that I am to the creatures; I am the first, and the last; that is, if I should suffer the creatures to fall, then I should be the last; and I am He they would returne unto, Rev. 3.14.*Christ, according to his God-head, is said to be the begin∣ning of the creation of GOD, Isai. 44.6.*I am the first, and last: The meaning of it is, that he is without all causes, that he is from himselfe, and by himselfe, and of himselfe, and for himselfe, Rom. 11.36. that is,* he is the first, hee never had any efficient cause, as all the creatures have; that which hath no efficient cause, hath no end; that which hath no end, hath no forme; (for the forme doth but serve to carry a thing to such an end) that which hath no forme, hath no matter, for the matter is dependent on the forme; and so con∣sequently, he is without all cause. But wee will shew you the grounds of this, they are these three:
*He is without all cause: for, if there were any cause of him, that cause must needs be caused, Page 141 either from some other, or from it selfe, not from any other; for then there should be something that is before the Lord, that is better than he, from whom he receives all things; but that cannot be: for, then it should be God, and not the Lord; and it is not from it selfe, because nothing is the cause of it selfe, for then it should be before it selfe, and it should be better than it selfe; for the cause, though it give the same that is in it selfe, to the effect, as the father to the sonne; yet the cause is better, because that which gives, is better than that which receives.
Againe, it should be different from it selfe, for the cause is different from the effect: therefore it must needs be, that he is without all cause, and the first, and the beginning of all the creatures of God.
Wheresoever you see any thing,* that hath but a part of another, it must needs receive it from some whole; and if it doth receive it from that which is but a part; yet by degrees it must come to some whole, as to the fountaine; as for exam∣ple, if iron or wood be on fire, &c. they have but a part of that element, which argues that there is some whole.
But it may be said,*
[Answ.] That cannot be; because whatsoever hath any thing originally, must have the whole, and not a part; as the Sunne, because it hath the light origi∣nally, therefore it hath not a part, but the whole, though afterward it gives light to many; so a Page 142 fountaine, that hath water originally, hath not the part, but the whole, though afterwards it runnes into many brookes; and if there were but one fountaine, as there is but one Sunne, then all the water would be in that fountaine, as the light is in the Sunne.
Now to apply this, looke upon all the crea∣tures, and you shal find that they have all but part of being; the Angels have one part, men another, and other creatures another part, &c. which is an argument that there is a whole, which is GOD blessed for ever.
Besides, it argues that he hath that wholenesse of being from himselfe; for he that hath but part of a thing, doth borrow it, and therefore must come to the originall; for nothing is borrowed but it is from another, and not from it selfe; ther∣fore, seeing the creatures have but a part of being, it presupposeth that there is a whole, that there is an immense being, that is of himselfe, and from himselfe, and hath it not from any creature.
*Lastly, there is nothing that the eye hath seene, or that the eare hath heard, but it is possible not to be; there is almost nothing but is subject to corruption; but if it be not so, yet they have a possibility not to be; as the heavens, though they are not corrupted, yet they may be: now what∣soever hath a possibility not to be, it is certaine that it was not, & that which was not, is brought to a being by him that is; so that you must come to something which is, that is the cause, that is the beginning and ending, that is without cause, Page 143 that is α and ο, he that was, and that is to come.
Now we come to application.
[Vse 1] If the Lord be without all cause, this we may gather then, that he doth not will any thing, be∣cause it is just,* or desire it, because it is good, or love any thing, because it is pleasant; for there is no cause without him, all perfection is in him ori∣ginally.
The creatures indeed desire things, because they are good; and love them, because they are plea∣sant; because they seeke for perfection out of themselves, because they are caused by that which is out of themselves: but this is not so in God, who is the first cause, because, of the first cause there is no cause; and of the first reason there is no reason to be given. Looke whatsoever is in the creature, what justice or excellencie, it comes from God; and if he should will any thing for this cause; because it is good, there should be a reciprocation, which is impossible. I speake this for this end; that in our judging of the waies of God, we should take heed of framing a mo∣dell of our owne, as to thinke, because such a thing is just; therefore the Lord wils it: the rea∣son of this conceit is, because we thinke that God must goe by our rule; we forget this, that every thing is just because he wils it; it is not that God wils it, because it is good or just. But we should proceed after another manner, wee should finde out what the will of God is; for in that is the rule of justice and equity; for otherwise it was possi∣ble that the Lord could erre, though he did never Page 144 erre: that which goes by a rule, though it doth not swarve, yet it may; but if it be the rule it selfe, it is impossible to erre. As, if the Carpen∣ters hand be the rule, he strikes a right line. The Angels and creatures have a rule, and therefore may erre; but it is not so with God, and therefore what God wils is just, because he is the rule it selfe; therefore in the mysteries of predestination, we are to say thus with our selves; Thus I finde the Lord hath set it downe, thus he hath expressed himselfe in his Word, such is his pleasure; and therefore it is reason, and just such against which there can be no exception.
[Vse 2] If God be without all cause, then he may doe all things for himselfe, and for his owne glory;* because he that hath no cause above, or without himselfe, he needs not doe any thing but for him∣selfe. The Angels, they have a cause above, and without themselves, therefore they must doe nothing for themselves, but for another, Rom. 11. last, Of him are all things, therefore to him be glory: that place shewes us a ground of this, why wee must not expect, that God should doe any thing for any other end, for any other creature in the world; for having no end above himselfe, it is impossible that hee should have any end but himselfe, Prov. 16.4. The LORD hath made all things for himselfe; yea, even the wicked for the day of evill. Whereas this objection might be made; Will he cast men to hell? will hee damne them for his owne glory? Yes (saith he) all his acti∣ons even that also is for his own sake; Rom. 9.22. Page 145 there it is more large: What if GOD willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power knowne, endu∣red with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fil∣led to destruction? &c. This is enough, he hath no end, no cause above himselfe; and therefore it is reason enough, he doth it because he will doe it. And this is a thing to be observed out of the 19. and 20. verses, where the same reason is given that we now speake of, Who hath? &c. saith the Apostle, if you looke on God, and the creatures, you shall finde this difference betweene them; all the creatures are made, as pots are made by the potters; and therefore, as they have an author of their being, so they doe serve for another end; so that the potter he may appoint what end hee will, and no man can say, why doest thou it? So God, because hee is the first cause, hee may have what end he will, and no man can say, why doest thou so? hee may make some vessels of honour, and some of dishonour, and all for himselfe, and his owne glory: therefore, when you see that he did not spare the Angels, but cast them downe into hell, there to be reserved in chaines of darknesse till the last day; when you see him not sparing the old world, when you see him suffering the Gentiles to walke in their owne wayes; when you see him to suffer a great part of the world to be damned, and to perish; when you see him let the Churches to be made havocke of, you should be ready to say thus, To him be glory for ever: that is, you should not murmure against him, but glori∣fie him, and reverence him for ever: for he may Page 146 doe all things for himselfe. And this is the reason that is rendred, Matth. 20.15, 16.*May not I doe what I will with mine owne? He gives it there as the reason, why many are called and few chosen, why the Iewes were first, and the Gentiles last: why he let goes many probable men, and choo∣seth the worst; saith he, May not I doe with mine owne what I will? Beloved, this difference is to be observed betweene the creatures and God; there is no creature can say of any thing, that this is mine owne, because he made it not, they are not the masters of them; but God may doe what hee will, what he pleaseth, because they are his owne. If God will take a few out of a Nation, and de∣stroy all the rest, who can say any thing to him? they are his owne; as he is without all cause, so he is without all end. Now, as this is of use to justifie God, in that it is his property to be with∣out all cause; so it may teach us;
[Vse 3] That man may not doe any thing for his owne end,* but he is bound to doe all for an higher end, as hee that made us hath appointed, for the effi∣cient can make a thing to what end he please. You see it is so with men, as a knife is made to cut, a key to open, &c. and yet they are all of one ma∣teriall: so the Lord looking downe from heaven, he made of one heape of clay severall creatures, and appointed to every one his several end, which end they must observe and aime at; and if they doe not, they wrong him that made them; and therefore it is hee destroyes them. And so it is with every thing that is made for an end; as fire, Page 147 that is made to warme a man, if it doe burne the house, we put it out; a vessell that is made to keep wine or beare, if it doe corrupt it, we lay it aside, and put it into one more wholesome: so doth God, he puts to every man his severall end, and therefore he gives them severall gifts, and severall callings: himselfe, indeed, is the generall end, but besides the generall, he appoints to every calling a particular end; to a Minister he saith, Goe, and feed my sheepe; if he goes, and feeds himselfe, and not the people; if he feed them with stubble, and not with hay, hee doth not attaine his end; and so may I say of every thing else; of a schol∣ler, a Magistrate, a husband; they have severall places, and divers gifts given them, and all for their severall end, and if they aime not at their end, but worke for themselves, they are worthy to be destroyed: as a man, if hee hath an instru∣ment that is crooked, and unfit for use, then hee casts it away, and taketh another; but if it be fit, he will lay it up for use, and he will say, let it not be lost: so doth the Lord with men, if they be pliable to him, if they will worke for the end that he hath appointed them, then he saves and preserves them; but if they will doe things for their owne end, it is the next way to destruction.
For observe this; for any man to do any thing for his owne end, is to arrogate that to himselfe, which is the Lords, who is without cause, which is an high kinde of idolatry. Let them consider this therefore, that labour that they may be rich, that labour that they might have outward excel∣lencie, Page 148 and to be something in the flesh, that la∣bour only for outward honour, for places of im∣ployment, and credit in all things; so a scholler that is negligent, he saith, I shall make a shift to live; but hast thou not another end? art thou not made? art thou not a creature? is it enough for thee to live, and no more? so they that have their estates provided for them, they care not for lear∣ning, they say, they can live without it; but art not thou made? and is not this thine end, to serve God and men? So he that shall choose a calling or course of life, according to his owne fancie, not that which shall be serviceable to men, but that which pleaseth himselfe, let him aske himselfe this question; Am I not made? Am I not a crea∣ture? have I no other end, but my selfe? There∣fore let men consider this, and looke to it; have I not chosen this course of life, and have I not an end appointed to me? That end is to be service∣able to God, and profit men: But if a man shall thinke with himselfe, what is the best way to live and provide for my selfe, and to get profit and wealth; these are idolatrous and sinful thoughts. God may doe all things for himselfe, because he hath nothing above himselfe; [Object.] but if thou dost so, thou provokest him to wrath exceedingly.
[Answ.] *But you will say, I doe all for this end, to serve God and men?
Thou that doest pretend this, that thou doest things to be serviceable to God and men, and not to thy selfe, thou shalt know it by this:
[ 1] 1 If thou puttest thy selfe to things that are Page 149 above thee, it is a signe that thou doest it not for his sake, that hath appointed thee, but for thine owne.
2 If thou art fit for an higher place, if thou restest in things that are beneath thee, for thy greater profit, thou seekest thy selfe, and not the Lord.
3 If thou doest resist the providence of God, that when thou hast a calling, and art put in it, and thou puttest thy selfe out again for thy advantage, then thine end is thine owne selfe. Paul when he went to Macedonia, hee found but bad entertain∣ment there, yet he went, because he was sent. So Iohn, he went to Pathmos, where the people were but few, and barbarous, yet he obeyed God, and went. Eliah, when he was sent to Ahab, and to prophesie to the Israelites, among whom, for all that hee knew, there was not one soule, that did not bow his knee to Baal. Ezekiel and Isaiah, when they went to harden the people to destruction, yet they went willingly, because the Lord sent them; it was an argument that they did it not for them∣selves. A servant is not to doe his owne worke, he doth it as his master will have him to doe it; if he doth the things that his master bids him, and saith, I am his servant; and if he bid me to goe, I will goe, or if he bid me come, I will come; if he bid me to keepe within doore, and to doe the meanest works, I will doe them; this is an argu∣ment that he doth not seeke himselfe. When a man is thus dependent upon God, willing to take imployment, not above him, nor below him, nor Page 150 resist his providence, but willing to be guided by him, it is a signe that he seekes the Lord, and not himselfe.
4 Besides, let a man consider what he doth in these services that immediatly concerne the Lord himselfe. If a man shall study much, and pray lit∣tle; if a man shall spend all his time in his calling about worldly businesse, and little time for duties to build up himselfe in knowledge, as in prayer and reading, &c. it is a signe that he doth it, not for the Lord, but for himselfe; for he that seekes not the Lord, in that which is done to his person, he doth it not in that which is done in outward workes; he that will not be faithfull in the grea∣ter, and that which God doth immediately com∣mand in his worship, he will never be faithfull in those things which are further off, that are of lesse consequence, Act. 6.4.* It was an argument they gave themselves in integrity, to the ministry of the Word, because they gave themselves to prayer as well as it; they did, as it were, divide the time between both; if we were to preach on∣ly, say the Apostles, we could then wait upon Ta∣bles, but one halfe of our time is to be taken up in prayer, the other in preaching: and if you thus divide the time, it is a signe you look to the Lord.
5 Besides, consider what it is that troubles thee? what a man aimes at, if he lose his end, that grieves him, when his worke is done; if this be thy trouble that thou hast lost some credit, or profit, then thine end is thy selfe; but if this be thy griefe, that thou hast not done it in such m••∣sure, Page 151 that others may receive profit and advantage by it, it is a signe that thou diddest it not for thy selfe, but for Gods glory.
6 Besides, if a man considers what it is that doth make things pleasant, and gives amabilitie to that, which is harsh in it selfe. Labour in it selfe is sweet to no man, unlesse there be something in it that sweetens it: now consider what that is, if in it thy eye is upon thy wealth, that comes by it; if thou studiest hard, and if thou preachest much, and it is for the praise of men, thou seekest thy selfe, and thy reward is in it; but if thou lookest up to the Lord, if thou doest it, because he sees it, and knowes it, and that he may say; I know thy worke and thy labour; it is a signe that thy end in it, was the Lord, and not thy selfe.
7 From whence doest thou looke for wages? from God or from men? Whence come those complaints of the unthankfulnesse of friends and pupils, and those we doe good to? but because we looke to men, and not to God. For if we did looke to God for our reward, their thankfulnesse or unthankfulnesse would be of small moment to us: for doth the Nurse nurse the childe for it own sake only? doth shee looke for reward from the child, or from the mother that putteth it to nurse; if you look for your reward from men; they are your end; but if you looke for it from the Lord, their encouragements or discouragements will not much move you.
8 Againe, consider wherin thy minde resteth, for that which a man makes his end, therein his Page 152 minde resteth, and in nothing besides: a husband-man, though he doth plow and sow, &c. yet he rests not til he comes to the harvest: he that hews stone, and squares timber, doth it, and stayes not till the house be built: therefore, doe thou con∣sider with thy selfe, in all thy workes, what it is that gives rest to thy thoughts; if thou doest say, I have now wealth and riches enough, and means enough, I have gotten what I aimed at, and now my soule is at rest; if thou sayest, I have now ho∣nour and name enough, my children be well pro∣vided for; and therefore your soule rest in this; then this was your end, and not the Lord; wheras you ought to say, though I have provided for my children, yet doe they feare the Lord? are they brought home to him? My trade hath brought me home much, but how serviceable have I been with it? I have much credit and estate, but what glory hath it brought to IESVS CHRIST? So he that is a Minister; it is true, I have enough, enough credit, enough for estate; but what is this? have I brought any glory to the Lord? have I converted any? if thy heart can have no rest, but in the Lord, and in the things that belong to the Lord, it is an argument that thine eye was upon him.
Remember this, that seeing we are made, seeing we have an higher cause, and that to be without cause belongs to God alone; therefore wee must carry our selves as creatures; as it is said of Da∣vid, he served his time; hee did nothing for his owne end, but he carried himselfe as a servant, he Page 153 did not say; I will have so much pleasure, and then serve God; he did not cut the Lord short, but he served his time, he gave the Lord the whole day. It was the comfort that IESVS CHRIST had, when he was to goe out of the world, Iohn 17.4.*I have glorified thee on earth, I have finished the worke that thou gavest me to doe; that is, I was as a servant, and I chose not my worke, but it is that which thou gavest me, and I have not done it by halfes, but I have finished it; therefore glo∣rifie thou me. So, if thou canst say it, when thou goest out of the world, that will be thy comfort at that day; but if not, remember that it is the Lords manner of dealing, when men will seeke themselves, and their owne end; he layes them aside, as we doe broken vessels, fit for no more use, and he takes another. If there be any here, that can say so, that the Lord hath laid thee aside, and taken thy gifts from thee; remember, consi∣der with thy selfe, that hadst thou used them to his glory, and made him thy end, be sure that he would not have laid thee aside, but that he would have used thee. Beloved, we see it by experience, that men of small parts, yet if they had humble hearts, and did use them in the simplicitie of their spirits to Gods glory, then he hath enlarged them, and used them in greatest imployments. Againe, on the contrary side; men of excellent parts, they have withered, because they did not use them to Gods glory, therefore he hath layd them aside as broken vessels.