Life eternall or, A treatise of the knowledge of the divine essence and attributes Delivered in XVIII. sermons. By the late faithfull and worthy minister of Iesus Christ, Iohn Preston, D. in Divinity, chaplaine in ordinary to his Majestie, master of Emmanuel Colledge in Cambridge, and sometimes preacher of Lincolns Inne.
Preston, John, 1587-1628., Ball, Thomas, 1589 or 90-1659., Goodwin, Thomas, 1600-1680.
Page  [unnumbered]Page  75

THE FIFTH SERMON.


ISAI. 46.9.

Remember the former things of old; for I am GOD, and there is none else; I am GOD, and there is none like mee.

THe third thing which remains,* is this, that there is no other GOD; and it is an argument which is often used in Scrip∣ture, to prove that the Lord is God, because there is none be∣sides him;* for so you are to understand it: I am GOD; because there is no Page  76 other; this particle is so used many times, Esay 45.22.*I am GOD, and there is none else, there is none beside me; and this shewes the falsenesse of all other gods, and all other religions; and the argument stands thus; That if you looke to all former times, you shall see that there was never any other God, or any other religion but this, which wee professe. There are two arguments set downe in the Text:

1 Remember the former times, and you shall alwayes finde it thus, that there is none besides mee.

2 There is none like me, saith the Lord; take all other gods, and there is a wonderfull great difference betweene them and the God whom wee professe; there is none like him. So that the point to be delivered hence is this;

*It is a great argument to prove the Deity, that there is none besides the Lord.

To open this to you; I will shew you;

1 What reasons the Scripture useth to prove, that there is none besides him.

2 We will shew you in some instances of it.

3 We will make some uses of it.

For the first, you shall finde in the Scripture these five arguments, to shew that there is no o∣ther God, but that the LORD is GOD alone, and that there is none besides him.

[ 1] From the greatnesse of Gods Majesty, and the immensitie of his workes,* and that is the reason of the words here annexed; there is none like him:* as in verse 5. of this Chapter you shall see Page  77 it more plainly. So, Among the gods,*there is none like to thee, O Lord, neither are there any works like thy works. Where you see that they are both put together; there is none like to him for the great∣nesse of his Majestie, nor for the immensity of his workes. More particularly, first, in regard of the greatnesse of his Majestie, there is none like him; Behold the nations are as a drop of a bucket,*and are counted as the small dust of the ballance: behold, he ta∣keth up the Iles as a very little thing; and Lebanon is not sufficient to burne, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering; All nations before him are as no∣thing, and they are counted to him lesse than no thing, and vanitie: that is, let a man looke on the greatnesse of God, and compare him with all the things that are in the world, and you shall finde a great disproportion betweene them; they are but as the drop of the bucket. A bucket, of it selfe, holds but little water, but yet that is for some use; but the drops that fall from the bucket, when it com∣meth out of the Well, they are so small, as wee make no account of them; and yet all the world is not so much to the Lord, as these small drops. And if that similitude will not serve, there is an∣other; They are as the dust of the ballance: if it were but as the dust of the earth, it were but small, but as for the dust of the ballance, it is so small, that it cannot weigh the ballance this way, or that way; and yet the whole world is not so much to the Lord, as the dust of the ballance.

Againe, a third expression he useth, and that is taken from the manner of his worship: for some Page  78 might here object; If he be so great, how short then doe we come of worshipping him, and of giving him that honour which we owe unto him? saith he; it is true, for all the beasts of Lebanon are not sufficient for a burnt offering: nay, all the wood of Lebanon is not enough to kindle the burnt offering. And take all the gods of the Gentiles, they were but men, and their Temples, and all the glory of them, they are nothing to the Lord: See another description of this in vers. 25.* And as, thus in re∣gard of the greatnesse of him, there is none like him; so likewise in regard of the greatnesse of his workes; vers. 12.*Who hath measured out the wa∣ters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the spanne, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountaines in scales, and the hils in a ballance? That is, looke up∣on the great building of Heaven and Earth, and consider what went to these buildings, what might and power hee must have to handle such things as these; as the vast mountaines, the huge earth, the wind, and the seas; and consider, what an hand and arme he must have, that must doe such things. And also consider the wisdome of God, that went to this worke, and he did it alone; he had none to helpe him; take a man, let him set up a building, and he cannot do it of himselfe, but he needs some body to helpe him; but the Lord did all this alone: therefore he concludes, vers. 18.* that there is none like to him; as if it were his scope and intention in that place.

[ 2] It appeares hence, that they are not gods, from Page  79 their newnesse, they had a beginning, and they have an end; but God is from everlasting,*I am the first and last, Esay 41.4. and 44.6. and 43.10.* The meaning is, all the other gods had a begin∣ning, we know when they began, and their owne Historians have related it; but I was before them all, saith the Lord, and they have all vanished a∣way, even in your owne sight.

[ 3] Their ignorance and want of knowledge, and his Omniscience, is another argument,* which you have used in Esay 41.22, 23. and 44.7, 8.*Let them bring them forth, and shew what will happen, let them shew the former things, what they be, &c. that we may know that you are gods. The meaning is this; that there are none other gods, that doe declare former things, that tell of the beginning of the world, or of the creation, nor can declare things to come; I only can doe it, I have not spo∣ken in secret, but my prophecies are plaine and open, I have spoken it, and I will bring it to passe. Therefore, I say, his omniscience and shewing future things, doth testifie, that there are no other gods besides him, seeing no other hath beene able so to doe.

[ 4] The greatnesse of his power put forth in the continuall passages of his providence,* and their want of power; which is another argument used in Isai. 41.23.*Behold, you are nothing, and your workes are of nought; that is, you are not able to doe any thing, either good or hurt to the sonnes of men, and therefore you are no gods, you are but vani∣tie, and of no value: which argument you have Page  80 often repeated; as also the great changes, that God workes on the sonnes of men, which Idols cannot doe, Isai 40.23, 24.*He brings the Princes to nothing, &c. that is, he is able to set up whom he will, and pull them downe againe; and hee gives instance in the greatest Princes, that thought themselves best rooted, saith he, when I doe but blow upon them, when I blast them, they are, as if they never had beene planted, as if they had beene never sowen, but they are, as if they had tooke no root in all the earth. So Psal. 107.33, 34.*He turneth a desart into a fruitfull land; and a fruitfull land hee turneth into barrennesse, for the wickednesse of them that dwell therein; making changes of men, and things, which no Idols could doe.

[ 5] They are such as are dead men, and have no life in them. This is an argument that the Apo∣stle Paul useth, Act. 14.15. that they should turne to the living GOD; Psal. 115.* It is true of all other gods, they are dead vanities, they are Idols, and have no life in them; only God is living, he only hath life in himselfe, and gives life to all other things in the world. Therefore, there is none other god besides him.

*Now we come to particulars. As, Take all the religions that ever have beene in the world, be∣sides that which we professe; take all the gods, that have beene set up by others; they are divided in∣to two times,* either before, or since Christ; be∣fore, and they are either those gods, that were worshipped by the Grecians and the Romans, the Page  81 wisest of the Heathens, or else those that were worshipped by the Barbarians. Now, they wor∣shipped the Sunne, and Moone, and foure-footed beasts, Rom. 1.* If there be question of any, it is of those among the Romans; such as were Saturne, and Iupiter, and Inno, &c. which are now alto∣gether exploded; and there is enough said against them, even by their owne Writers. As;

1 They were men, and therefore not gods;* this was the argument that Tertullian and Iustin Martyr used to convince those, amongst whom they lived, that Iuno, Iupiter, Neptune, &c. were Saturnes off-spring, and therefore they were men; and if men, then borne of men, and their Genealo∣gies are recorded by their owne Writers.

2 And as they were men,* so they were the worst of men, given to the grossest vices, as adul∣tery, theft, murther, &c.

[Object.] And if it be objected, as it was to Lactantius, that these are only fictions of Poets.

[Answ.] I answer, that the Poets were their Prophets, as the Apostle saith, One of your Prophets saith so; and they did but give light to the picture; and all their owne Writers agree, as Cicero and Varro, that they were subject to those vices that wee named.

3 They did dye, and therefore were not gods;* and therefore they would in one place shew you a sepulchre, and in another place a temple erected to the same god, which is an extreme contradi∣ction; yet this was acknowledged even by them that worshipped them: and as for Tully, we can∣not Page  82 have more against him, than he himselfe con∣fesseth in his Tractate, De naturâ deorum; as one saith, Re tollit deos, sed oratione reliquit; He tooke away their gods in deed, though not in word: and himselfe saith, Vtinam tam facile veram religionem invenire possim, quàm falsam convincere: I would I could as well finde out the truth of true religi∣on, as the falsenesse of the other. All which are disputed at large by Tertullian, and Augustine De civitate Dei, and Clemens Alexandrinus, who li∣ved in those dayes; which we speak the more of, because it was that, which did spread it selfe even over the whole world for many ages together. And as for the gods that are worshipped by the Chaldaeans, and the Syrians, as the Sunne and Moone, they are not worth the naming.

[ 2] There is another religion that is growen up since Christ, the religion of Mahomet,* which hath spread over the most part of the world, for if that computation be true, that is lately given, they have foureteene times as much as any other hath; and they arose about six hundred yeares after Christ, and therefore they have continued a long time. I speake not this, because I thinke that any here had need to be disswaded from it, but to shew that there was never any veri-similitude of it, but that God was alwayes God alone. Therfore against it, I will use foure arguments:

1 Mahomet did fully acknowledge the truth of the Old Testament, and of the New; yet the things which he delivers, are contrary to both;* which confirmes our religion, and shewes the Page  83 falsenesse of theirs; for he did acknowledge, that Moses received the Old Testament from God, and so did the Prophets, and he repeats most of the story; he acknowledgeth the creation of Adam, and the eating of the forbidden fruit, and the whole story of Abraham, and his calling, and the offering of his sonne Isaac; and also, he acknow∣ledgeth the whole History of Moses, how God ap∣peared to him, and how he went into Aegypt, and of the ten Plagues that he sent upon the Aegypti∣ans, and the wonders that hee wrought going downe into Canaan; and so of all the rest, naming the booke of Psalmes, and quoting things out of it; and of Deuteronomy, acknowledging many of the Prophets, as Eliah, Samuel, Iob and Ionah; and he confesseth that there were many more, which he did not name: and so hee acknowledgeth the New Testament likewise; hee acknowledgeth that Christ was borne of a Virgin, and that by the mightie power of God, without man; that he hea∣led diseases; and that he received the Gospell from God himselfe; and that God gave power to him more than to all the Prophets that were before him, and that hee was the word and power of God, and that all, that doe beleeve in him, shall be be saved; and they shall follow him in white gar∣ments, and that hee, which beleeves it not, shall be damned; and hee acknowledgeth the New Testament to beare witnesse to the Old; and he acknowledgeth the resurrection, the comming of Iohn Baptist; and he speakes very honourably of Christ, except only in two things:

Page  841 He tooke up the opinion of the Arrians, to deny his Divinitie.

2 And also, he denied that he was crucified, but that some body was crucified for him.

[ 2] He brought in a new religion, and yet he pro∣fesseth, that hee had no miracles, or predictions of things to come. Now, when religion is not confirmed by miracles,* or predictions of things to come, or holinesse of life, it is a token that there is no truth in it.

[ 3] We may perceive it by the writing of the Al∣coran; It is so barbarous, that there is no sense in it;* and they say, that he could neither write nor reade; and so the writing shewes, that it was by one, that was an ignorant man, that had no skill; and those stories that are alleaged out of the Scripture, have much falshood mixed with them; which is a signe that he never read them himselfe, but that he had them by relation; but onely hee speaking to a very ignorant people, they received it of him; and having inlarged themselves by the sword; and so they continue to this day.

[ 4] The impuritie of his doctrine, he cut off what was hard to be beleeved,* and whatsoever was dif∣ficult to practise, and he propounded that to the people, wherein there was no hardnesse, no diffi∣cultie, promising them a paradise, wherein they should have all pleasures, and should enjoy wo∣men; and also they should have meat, drinke, ap∣parell, and fruits of all sorts; as also, they should have silken, and purple carpets to lye upon, &c. and also he professeth that he had a licence given Page  85 him from God, to know what women he would, and to put them away when he would; which li∣cence was given to him and to no other. All which arguments are enough to shew the vanitie and falshood of this their religion.

[Vse 1] Seeing there is none other god besides the Lord, we should fix this principle in us, * and labour to strengthen it by this other medium also. When more candles are brought into a place, the light is greater, and you may see the objects the better. Therefore, adde this to the other, that there is no other god; for this expresseth not only that the Lord is God, but that it is he whom we worship: for if there be a God that made Heaven and Earth, he would have revealed himselfe to the sonnes of men, but there hath never beene any other revea∣led. Remember the former things, and you shall see that there was never any other. Make this chaine, and every linke of it is exceeding strong: see if ever there hath beene any god besides him: For, if there was ever any God revealed to the sons of men, it was the God of the Iewes, that was re∣vealed by Moses, and the Prophets. For all the dunghill gods of the Gentiles, they were but vani∣tie, and they appeared to be so; and if it was the God of the Iewes, then of the Christians, (because the New Testament is builded upon the Old;) and then surely, he is that God, whom the Prote∣stants worship, and not whom the Papists wor∣ship. For, if you take all those things, wherein they differ from us; as in their worshipping of Images, their Purgatory, their Indulgences, their Page  86 Prayers to, and for the dead; their Prayers in an unknowne tongue, and so all other points of diffe∣rence, and you shall finde that they were added, and taken in, in continuance of time, now one, then another; and there are many that have taken paines to shew the pedegree of them, when they came in; and therefore they that have not sedu∣ced hearts, whose eyes the god of this world hath not blinded, may see, that what our devices cut off, is nothing but that which they have added before; the Papists agree in all with what wee teach, only the difference is betweene the additi∣ons which have come in from time to time. Ther∣fore you must learne from hence to confirme your faith, by that argument which Peter useth, Ioh. 6.68.*Whither shall we goe, thou hast the words of eternall life. There are two things which make us cleave to any thing:

1 The firmenesse of the thing.

2 When we can goe no whither else. So that looke to any time or place, and consider that all other gods they are but vanitie. For, looke upon the world, and the creatures, and they have no bottom to stand on, they have no state to hold by. Therfore, let this teach us to cleave to him with∣out separation: looke upon every side, as David did, to the right hand, and to the left, and you shall see that there was no other god. Only here the soule hath sure footing; therefore say, that if the dissolution of all things should come, as death and martyrdome, (as wee know not how soone they may) yet God shall be our God, we will for∣sake Page  87 all to follow him. Consider the present time of the Church, consider how soone the times may come upon us, when we shall be put to it; for now things are in praecipitio; hasting downe to the bottome of the hill; and we know not how neere we are to that houre of temptation, spoken of in the Revelations; when it shall be as it was in Esay's time, 2 Chron. 15.6.*Nation shall rise against Nation. These times are growing, and gathering strength more and more; therefore let us streng∣then our faith, and prepare for a triall. Hither∣to religion and peace have walked together in one path; but when they shall goe in different paths, it will appeare then, whose servants we are. So when the times of triall come, it will be a great matter to have this principle laid. If you should come to suffer death, and to lose your lives, it will be a great matter, to be rooted and grounded in the faith: for there is a great difference betweene those that have much earth, and betweene those that are not well rooted, that have not received this anointing, that teacheth us these things.

Only this I will say to you in the second place to comfort you,* though you see the Lord laying the Churches waste,* so that they are wallowing in their bloud, and yet that you might hold up your heads; consider that he is God alone, and therefore will rouse up himselfe in due time; for, He will not give his glory to another: therefore though you see all the Churches in Christen dome laid waste, yet the Lord will raise them up againe, and the ground of it is in Esay 48.11 Page  88For mine owne sake,*even for mine owne sake will I doe it: for, how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory to another; speaking there to the Churches in that time, saith the LORD, I have refined them,*but not with silver, I have cho∣sen them in the furnace of affliction; that is, I have thus and thus dealt with them, yet will I not cast them off, though they be sinfull, yet will I not put them away, for mine owne sake; for my name should be polluted, if I should suffer them to lye thus: It should be thought that the other religion was true, and so I should lose my glory. And againe, will God now say, I will not doe so; for, should Antichrist prevaile, it would be an argument that they had the truth, and not we. So Esay 42.8.*I am the LORD, that is my name; and my glory will not I give to another, neither my praise to graven images. As the graven images there should have had the praise, so should the Papists now, if God should suffer his Church to be so, but for his owne sake he will not suffer it. Let this encourage you then to be earnest with him in prayer; for the time will come, when hee will turne his head, when the just period is come, he will be seene in the Mount.

[Vse 3] If there be no other God, then let us be care∣full to keep our hearts from all kinde of idolatry, not to set up any other in our heart or affections.* For there are two kindes of Idolatry:*

1 One is grosse, as the worshipping of Baal, Mahomet, &c. and that you are free from, because there is light enough in the Church to see the va∣nity of them.

Page  892 There is another kinde of Idolatry, which Saint Iames speakes of, Iames 4.*Yee adulterers, and adulteresses, you make riches your god, and honour, and your belly, your god; and when you sacrifice to your owne nets, that is, to out∣ward and secondary meanes, or when we joyne any other thing with God; now this is Idolatrie, which is common amongst us. Our nature is as prone to Idolatry as any, though not in that kind: for man is a weake creature, and therefore hee seekes something to repose himselfe upon; and because they finde not any one thing sufficient; therefore they put their confidence in many, Rom. 1.* For all Idolatry is upon one of these three grounds:

1 They worship them for gods,* whom they saw excellent men, that had something in them above themselves; such as were strong men, as Hercules; and those that were Law-givers, and Princes, as Saturne, and Iupiter; and they did worship Vertues likewise; and they did build a Temple to Vertue it selfe; and to Iustice, and Pa∣tience.

2 Those, that brought any speciall helpe, and comfort to the lives of men; as they that did in∣vent usefull Arts, as Bacchus, Ceres, Vulcan, Aescu∣lapius; and also they worshipped the creatures themselves, as the Sunne, and Moone, and Oxen, and the like.

3 They worshipped for god, that which was stronger than themselves; therefore Tully saith, we build a Temple to Feavers, to Diseases, be∣cause Page  90 they were stronger than they, they could kill men when they did seaze upon them: so they did build a Temple to Fortune. Now to trans∣late this to our selves, see if we have not the same ground with us; see if the things that have any excellencie amongst men; if the things that are profitable to us, and things that exceed us in strength, and over-power us, whether they are not ready to be set up as gods; when men spend themselves upon their pleasure, and are afraid of men, what is this, but to set up another god? We doe the same, though not in the same manner that the Heathens did. Now, for the worshipping the creatures; we are not to doe it: there is no crea∣ture in the world that can do either good or hurt, as it was said of Idols. But when our affections are so inordinately carried to them, we set them up for gods, though we observe it not. It is Gods prerogative royall, and it belongs only to him, to doe good or evill; whatsoever is either good or evill, he is the Author of it; he makes mens lives comfortable, or uncomfortable, at his plea∣sure; for hee disposeth of things, giving them, and taking them from whom he will. Therefore, why is he forgotten? and why doe men joyne other things with him? so farre, as men see not the vanity of all things, and so farre, as their af∣fections are taken up with these outward things, so much Idolatry there is in their hearts. There∣fore you must take heed that you give not Gods glory to another.

[ 1] Take heed of Idolatry; in your opinions give Page  91 not the glory of God to riches; for that which a mans minde is set most upon, and which he looks for comfort from, in time of need, this they count as God: so that, whatsoever it be, riches, or the favour of men, if you set your minde upon it, you make it as God, and it is to give the glory of God to another.

[ 2] We must not trust in them, Psal. 115.9. but trust in GOD;*O Israel trust thou in the LORD, he is their helpe and their shield. Now then, we ex∣alt him, when we trust only in him, when we trust not in any of these outward things, when we think not our selves any whit the better, the more ri∣ches or friends we have: for so farre we trust in the creatures, so far we commit idolatry with them: but he that thinkes himselfe safe, because he hath the Lord for his God, and because he is his Shield, he doth exalt the Lord, and this is to put this in practice which is here spoken of; I am God, and there is none like mee.