Body of Divinity
By Thomas Watson
1. A Preliminary Discourse on Catechizing
"If you continue in the faith grounded and
settled." Col. 1:13.
Intending next Lord's day to enter upon the work of
catechizing, it will not be amiss to give you a preliminary discourse, to
show you how needful it is for Christians to be well instructed in the
grounds of true religion. "If you continue in the faith grounded and
I. It is the duty of Christians to be settled in the
doctrine of faith.
II. The best way for Christians to be settled is to be
I. It is the duty of Christians to be settled in the
doctrine of faith. It is the apostle's prayer, "May the God of
all grace establish, strengthen, settle you." That is, that they might not
be meteors in the air—but fixed stars. The apostle Jude speaks of "wandering
stars". They are called wandering stars, because, as Aristotle says, "They
do leap up and down, and wander into several parts of the heaven; and being
but dry exhalations, not made of that pure celestial matter as the fixed
stars are, they often fall to the earth." Now, such as are not settled in
true religion, will, at one time or other, prove wandering stars; they will
lose their former steadfastness, and wander from one opinion to another.
Such as are unsettled are of the tribe of Reuben, "unstable as water," like
a ship without ballast, overturned with every wind of doctrine. Beza writes
of one Belfectius, who his religion changed as often as the moon. The Arians
had every year a new faith. These are not pillars in the temple of
God—but reeds shaken every way. The apostle calls them "damnable
heresies." A man may go to hell as well for heresy as adultery!
To be unsettled in true religion, argues lack of
judgment. If their heads were not giddy, men would not reel so fast
from one opinion to another.
To be unsettled in true religion, argues lightness.
As feathers will be blown every way, so will feathery Christians. Therefore
such are compared to infants. "Then we will no longer be infants,
tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind
of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful
scheming." Ephesians 4:14. Children are fickle sometimes of one mind
sometimes of another, nothing pleases them long. Just so, unsettled
Christians are childish; the truths they embrace at one time, they reject at
another; sometimes they like the Protestant religion, and soon after they
have a good mind to turn Papists.
 It is the great end of the word preached, to bring us
to a settlement in true religion. "And he gave some, evangelists;
and some, pastors and teachers; for the edifying of the body of Christ; that
we henceforth be no more children." The word is called "a hammer". Every
blow of the hammer is to fasten the nails of the building; so the preacher's
words are to fasten you the more to Christ; they weaken themselves to
strengthen and settle you. This is the grand design of preaching, not only
for the enlightening—but for the establishing of souls; not only to guide
them in the right way—but to keep them in it. Now, if you be not settled,
you do not answer God's end in giving you the ministry.
 To be settled in true religion is both a Christian's
excellence and honor. It is his excellence. When the milk
is settled it turns to cream; now he will be zealous for the truth, and walk
in close communion with God. And his honor. "The hoary head is a
crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness." It is one of
the best sights to see an old disciple; to see silver hairs adorned with
 Such as are not settled in the faith can never suffer
for it. Sceptics in religion hardly ever prove martyrs. Those who
are not settled, hang in suspense; when they think of the joys of heaven
they will espouse the gospel—but when they think of persecution, they desert
it. Unsettled Christians do not consult what is best—but what is
safest. "The apostate (says Tertullian) seems to put God and Satan in
balance, and having weighed both their services, prefers the devil's
service, and proclaims him to be the best master: and, in this sense, may be
said to put Christ to open shame." He will never suffer for the truth—but be
as a soldier that leaves his colors, and runs over to the enemy's side; he
will fight on the devil's side for pay.
 Not to be settled in the faith is provoking to God.
To espouse the truth, and then to fall away, brings an ill report
upon the gospel, which will not go unpunished. "They turned back and were as
faithless as their parents had been. They were as useless as a crooked bow.
They made God angry by building altars to other gods; they made him jealous
with their idols." Psalm 78:57-58. The apostate drops as a wind-fall into
the devil's mouth!
 If you are not settled in true religion, you will
never grow. We are commanded "to grow up into the head, even
Christ." But if we are unsettled there is no growing: "the plant which is
continually replanted, never thrives." He can no more grow in godliness, who
is unsettled, than a bone which is out of joint can grow in a body.
 There is great need to be settled, because there are
so many things to unsettle us. Seducers are abroad, whose work is
to draw away people from the principles of true religion. "These things have
I written unto you, concerning those who are trying seduce you." Seducers
are the devil's agents. They are of all others, the greatest felons—who
would rob you of the truth.
Seducers have silver tongues, which can pawn off bad
wares; they have a sleight to deceive. "That we henceforth be no more
children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine,
by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to
deceive." Ephesians 4:14. The Greek word there is taken from those who can
throw dice, and cast them for the best advantage. So seducers are impostors,
they can throw a dice; they can so dissemble and sophisticate the truth,
that they can deceive others. Seducers deceive by wisdom of words. "By good
words and fair speeches they deceive the hearts of the simple." They have
fine elegant phrases, flattering language, whereby they work on the weaker
Another sleight is a pretense of extraordinary
piety, so that people may admire them, and suck in their poisonous doctrine.
They seem to be men of zeal and sanctity, and to be divinely inspired, and
pretend to new revelations.
A third cheat of seducers is—laboring to vilify and
nullify sound orthodox teachers. They would eclipse those who bring the
truth, like black vapors which darken the light of heaven; they would defame
others, that they themselves may be more admired. Thus the false teachers
cried down Paul, that they might be received, Gal 4:17.
The fourth cheat of seducers is—to preach the doctrine of
liberty; as though men are freed from the moral law, the rule as well as the
curse, and Christ has done all for them, and they need to do nothing. Thus
they make the doctrine of free grace a key to open the door to all license
Another means is—to unsettle Christians by persecution. 2
Tim 3:12. The gospel is a rose which cannot be plucked without prickles. The
legacy Christ has bequeathed, is the CROSS. While there is a devil and a
wicked man in the world, never expect a charter of exemption from trouble!
How many fall away in an hour of persecution! "There appeared a great red
dragon, having seven heads and ten horns; and his tail drew the third part
of the stars of heaven." The red dragon, by his power and subtlety, drew
away stars, or eminent professors, who seemed to shine as stars in the skies
of the church.
To be unsettled in good, is the sin of the devils. They
are called, "falling stars;" they were holy—but mutable. As the vessel is
overturned with the sail, so their sails being swelled with pride, they were
overturned. 1 Tim 3:3. By unsettledness, men imitate lapsed angels. The
devil was the first apostate. The sons of Zion should be like mount Zion,
which cannot be removed.
II. The second proposition is, that the way for
Christians to be settled—is to be well grounded. "If you continue
grounded and settled." The Greek word for grounded is a metaphor which
alludes to a building that has the foundation well laid. So Christians
should be grounded in the essential points of true religion, and have their
foundation well laid.
Here let me speak to two things:
 That we should be grounded in the knowledge of
fundamentals. The apostle speaks of "the first principles of the
oracles of God." In all arts and sciences, logic, physics, mathematics,
there are some rules and principles which must necessarily be known for the
practice of those arts; so, in divinity, there must be the first principles
laid down. The knowledge of the grounds and principles of true religion
is exceedingly useful.
(1.) Else we cannot serve God aright. We can never
worship God acceptably, unless we worship him regularly; and how can we do
that, if we are ignorant of the rules and elements of true religion? We are
to give God a "reasonable service." If we understand not the grounds of true
religion, how can it be a reasonable service?
(2.) Knowledge of the grounds of true religion much
enriches the mind. It is a lamp to our feet; it directs us in the whole
course of Christianity, as the eye directs the body. Knowledge of
fundamentals, is the golden key which opens the chief mysteries of true
religion; it gives us a whole system and body of divinity, exactly drawn in
all its lineaments and lively colors; it helps us to understand many of
those difficult things which occur in the reading of the word; it helps to
untie many Scripture knots.
(3.) It furnishes us with unshakable armor; and weapons
to fight against the adversaries of the truth.
(4.) It is the holy seed of which grace is formed. It
is the seed of faith. Psalm 9:10. It is the root of love.
"Being rooted and grounded in love." The knowledge of the fundamental
principles conduces to the making of a complete Christian.
 This grounding is the best way to being settled:
"grounded and settled." A tree, that it may be well settled,
must be well rooted; so, if you would be well settled in true religion, you
must be rooted in its principles. We read in Plutarch of one who set up a
dead man, and he would not stand. "Oh," said he, "there must be something
within." So, that we may stand in shaking times, there must be a principle
of knowledge within; first grounded, and then settled. That the ship may be
kept from overturning, it must have its anchor fastened. Knowledge of
principles is to the soul—as the anchor to the ship, which holds it steady
in the midst of the rolling waves of error, or the violent winds of
persecution. First grounded and then settled.
Use one: See the reason why so many people are
unsettled, ready to embrace every novel opinion, and dress themselves in as
many religions as fashions; it is because they are ungrounded. See how the
apostle joins these two together, "unlearned and unstable." Such as are
unlearned in the main points of divinity, are unstable. As the
body cannot be strong which has the sinews shrunk; so neither can that
Christian be strong in true religion, who lacks the grounds of knowledge,
which are the sinews to strengthen and establish him.
Use two: See what great necessity there is of laying
down the main grounds of true religion in a way of catechizing, that
the weakest judgement may be instructed in the knowledge of the truth, and
strengthened in the love of it. Catechizing is the best expedient for the
grounding and settling of people. I fear one reason why there has been no
more good done by preaching, has been because the chief heads and articles
in true religion have not been explained in a catechetical way. Catechizing
is laying the foundation. To preach and not to catechize, is to build
without foundation. This way of catechizing is not novel, it is apostolic.
The primitive church had their forms of catechism, as those phrases imply, a
"form of sound doctrine," and "the first principles of the oracles of God."
God has given great success to catechizing. By thus laying down the grounds
of true religion catechistically, Christians have been clearly instructed
and wondrously built up in the Christian faith.
It is my design, therefore (with the blessing of God); to
begin this work of catechizing the next Sabbath day; and I intend every
other Sabbath, in the afternoon, to make it my whole work to lay down the
grounds and fundamentals of true religion in a catechetical way. If I am
hindered in this work by men, or taken away by death, I hope God will raise
up some other laborer in the vineyard among you, who may perfect the work
which I am now beginning.
2. Man's Chief End
Question 1. What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy
Here are two ends of life specified:
1. The glorifying of God.
2. The enjoying of God.
I. The GLORIFYING of God. "That God in all
things may be glorified." The glory of God is a silver thread which must run
through all our actions. "Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatever
you do, do all to the glory of God." Everything works to some end and
purpose; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to
himself, and that should be—that he may lift up God in the world. He had
better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth is
asserted—is that the end and purpose of every man's living should be to
glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity;
it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life
for us; and God the Holy Spirit, who produces a new life in us. We must
bring glory to the whole Trinity.
When we speak of God's glory, the question will be asked,
What are we to understand by God's glory?
There is a twofold glory:
 The glory that God has in himself, his INTRINSIC
glory. Glory is essential to the Godhead, as light is to the sun:
he is called the "God of Glory." Glory is the sparkling of the Deity; it is
so natural to the Godhead, that God cannot be God without it. The creature's
honor is not essential to his being. A king is a man without his regal
ornaments, when his crown and royal robes are taken away; but God's glory is
such an essential part of his being—that he cannot be God without it. God's
very life lies in his glory. This glory can receive no addition, because it
is infinite; it is that which God is most tender of, and which he will not
part with. "My glory I will not give to another." God will give temporal
blessings to his children, such as wisdom, riches, honor; he will give
them spiritual blessings, he will give them grace, he will give them
his love, he will give them heaven; but his essential glory he will
not give to another! King Pharaoh parted with a ring off his finger to
Joseph, and a gold chain—but he would not part with his throne! "Only
in the throne will I be greater than you." So God will do much for his
people; he will give them the inheritance; he will put some of Christ's
glory, as mediator, upon them; but his essential glory he will not part
with; "in the throne he will be greater."
 The glory which is ascribed to God, or which his
creatures labor to bring to him. "Give unto the Lord the glory
due unto his name." "Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit." The
glory we give God is nothing else but our lifting up his name in the world,
and magnifying him in the eyes of others. "Christ shall be magnified in my
WHAT is it to glorify God?
Glorifying God consists in four things:
This is the yearly rent we pay to the crown of heaven.
 Glorifying God consists in APPRECIATION.
To glorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and to have a
venerable esteem of him. "You, Lord, are most high for evermore!" "You are
exalted far above all gods!" There is in God—all that may draw forth both
wonder and delight; there is a constellation of all beauties; he is the
original and springhead of being, who sheds a glory upon the creature. We
glorify God, when we are God-admirers! Admire his attributes, which are the
glistening beams by which the divine nature shines forth! Admire his
promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet
where the pearl of price is hid! Admire the noble effects of his power and
wisdom in making the world, which is called "the work of his fingers." To
glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent,
and search for diamonds in this rock alone!
 Glorifying God consists in ADORATION, or worship.
"Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the
beauty of holiness." There is a twofold worship:
(1.) A civil reverence which we give to people of
honor. "Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the children of Heth."
Piety is no enemy to courtesy.
(2.) A divine worship which we give to God as his
royal prerogative. "They bowed their heads, and worshiped the Lord with
their faces towards the ground." This divine worship God is very jealous of;
it is the apple of his eye, the pearl of his crown; which he guards, as he
did the tree of life, with cherubim and a flaming sword, that no man may
come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God himself has
appointed, else it is offering strange fire. The Lord would have
Moses make the tabernacle, "according to the pattern in the mount." He must
not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God
was so exact and specific about the place of worship, how exact will
he be about the matter of his worship! Surely here everything must be
according to the pattern prescribed in his word.
 Glorifying God consists in AFFECTION. This
is part of the glory we give to God, who counts himself glorified when he is
loved. Deut 6:6. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and
with all your soul." There is a twofold love:
(1.) A love of concupiscence, which is self-love; as when
we love another, because he does us a good turn. A wicked man may be said to
love God, because he has given him a good harvest, or filled his cup with
wine. This is rather to love God's blessing, than to love God
(2.) A love of delight, as a man takes delight in a
friend. This is to love God indeed; the heart is set upon God—as a man's
heart is set upon his treasure. This love is exuberant, not a few
drops—but a stream! This love is superlative; we give God
the best of our love, the cream of it. "I would cause you to drink of spiced
wine of the juice of my pomegranate." If the spouse had a cup more juicy and
spiced, Christ must drink of it. It is intense and ardent.
True saints are seraphim, burning in holy love to God. The spouse was in
fainting fits, 'sick with love." Thus to love God is to glorify him. He who
is the chief of our happiness, has the chief of our affections!
 Glorifying God consists in SUBJECTION.
This is when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready dressed for his
service. Thus the angels in heaven glorify him; they wait on his
throne, and are ready to take a commission from him; therefore they are
represented by the cherubim with wings displayed, to show how swift
they are in their obedience. We glorify God when we are devoted to
his service. Our head studies for him, our tongue pleads for
him, and our hands relieve his needy members. The wise men who came
to Christ did not only bow the knee to him—but presented him with gold and
myrrh. So we must not only bow the knee, give God worship—but bring presents
of golden obedience. We glorify God when we stick at no service, when
we fight under the banner of his gospel against an enemy, and say to him as
David to King Saul, "Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine!"
A good Christian is like the sun, which not only sends
forth heat—but goes its circuit round the world. Thus, he who glorifies God,
has not only his affections heated with love to God—but he goes his circuit
too; he moves vigorously in the sphere of obedience.
WHY must we glorify God?
 Because he gives us our being. "It is he
who has made us." We think it a great kindness in a man to spare our
life—but what kindness is it in God to give us our life! We draw our
breath from him; and as life, so all the comforts of life are from him.
He gives us health, which is the sauce to sweeten our life.
He gives us food, which is the oil that nourishes the lamp of
life. If all we receive is from his bounty, is it not reasonable we should
glorify him? Should we not live to him, seeing we live by him?
"For of him, and through him, are all things." All we have, is of his
fullness, all we have is through his free grace; and therefore to him should
be all. It follows, therefore, "To him be glory forever!" God is not our
only benefactor—but our founder, just as rivers which come
from the sea empty their silver streams into the sea again.
 Because God has made all things for his own glory.
"The Lord has made all things for himself:" that is, "for his glory." As a
king has tax out of commodities, so God will have glory out of everything.
He will have glory out of the wicked. If they will not give him
glory, he will get glory upon them. "I will gain glory through Pharaoh." But
especially has he made the godly for his glory; they are the lively
organs of his praise. "This people have I formed for myself, and they shall
show forth my praise." It is true, they cannot add to his glory—but
they may exalt it; they cannot raise him in heaven—but they
may raise him in the esteem of others here on earth. God has adopted
the saints into his family, and made them a royal priesthood, that they
should show forth the praise of him who has called them. I Pet 2:2.
 Because the glory of God has intrinsic value and
excellence; it transcends the thoughts of men, and the
tongues of angels. His glory is his treasure, all his riches lie
here; as Micah said. "What have I more?" So, what has God more? God's glory
is more worth than heaven, and more worth than the salvation of all men's
souls. It would be better that kingdoms be thrown down, better men and
angels be annihilated, than God should lose one jewel of his crown, one beam
of his glory!
 Creatures below us, and above us, bring glory to God;
and do we think to sit rent free? Shall everything glorify God
but man? It is a pity then that man was ever made.
(1.) Creatures BELOW us glorify God, the
inanimate creatures and the heavens glorify God. "The heavens declare the
glory of God." The curious workmanship of heaven sets forth the glory of its
Maker; the sky is beautified and pencilled out in blue and azure colors,
where the power and wisdom of God may be clearly seen. "The heavens declare
his glory:, we may see the glory of God blazing in the sun, and twinkling in
the stars. Look into the air, the birds with their chirping music, sing
hymns of praise to God. Every animal in its kind glorifies God. Isa 43:30.
"The beast of the field shall honor me."
(2.) Creatures ABOVE us glorify God. "The
angels are ministering spirits." They are still waiting on God's throne, and
bring some revenues of glory into the treasury of heaven. Surely man should
be much more studious of God's glory than the angels; for God has honored
him more than the angels, in that Christ took man's nature upon him, and not
the angels. Though, in regard of creation, God made man "a little
lower than the angels," yet in regard of redemption, God has set him
higher than the angels. He has married mankind to himself; the angels are
Christ's friends, not his spouse. He has covered us with the
purple robe of righteousness, which is a better righteousness than the
angels have. If then the angels bring glory to God, much more should we,
being dignified with honor above angelic spirits.
 We must bring glory to God, because all our hopes
hang upon him. Psalm 39:9. "My hope is in you." "My expectation
is from him." I expect a kingdom from him. A good child will honor his
parent, by expecting all he needs from him. "All my springs are in you." The
silver springs of grace, and the golden springs of glory—are
In how many WAYS may we glorify God?
 It is glorifying God when we AIM purely at his glory.
It is one thing to advance God's glory, another thing to
aim at it. God must be the ultimate end of all actions. Thus
Christ says, "I seek not my own glory—but the glory of him who sent me." A
hypocrite has a squint eye, for he looks more to his own glory than
God's. Our Savior deciphers such, and gives a caveat against them in Matthew
6:2, "When you give alms, do not sound a trumpet." A stranger would ask,
"What means the noise of this trumpet?" It was answered, "They are going to
give to the poor." And so they did not give alms—but sell them
for honor and applause, that they might have glory of men. The breath of
men was the wind which blew the sails of their charity! "Truly they have
their reward." The hypocrite may take his bill and write, "received in full
payment." Chrysostom calls vain-glory one of the devil's great nets to catch
men. And Cyprian says, "Whom Satan cannot prevail against by intemperance,
those he prevails against by pride and vainglory." Oh let us take heed of
self-worshiping! Aim purely at God's glory. We do this,
(1.) When we prefer God's glory above all other things;
above credit, estate, relations; when the glory of God comes in competition
with them—we must prefer his glory before them. If relations lie in our
way to heaven, we must either leap over them, or tread upon them.
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me;
anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me!"
Matthew 10:37. A child must unchild himself, and forget he is a child; he
must know neither father nor mother in God's cause. "Who said unto his
father and mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his
brethren." This is to aim at God's glory.
(2.) We aim at God's glory, when we are content that
God's will should take place, though it may cross ours. "Lord, I
am content to be a loser—if you be a gainer. I am content to have less
health—if I have more grace, and you more glory. Let it be food or bitter
medicine—if only you give it me. Lord, I desire that which may be most for
your glory!" Our blessed Savior said, "Not as I will—but as you will." Matt
26:69. If God might have more glory by his sufferings, he was content to
suffer. "Father, glorify your name."
(3.) We aim at God's glory when we are content to be
outshined by others in gifts and esteem—so that his glory may be increased.
A man who has God in his heart, and God's glory in his eye, desires that God
should be exalted; and if this be effected, let whoever will be the
instrument, he rejoices. "Some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry.
But others preach about Christ with pure motives. Those others do not have
pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition,
not sincerely. But whether or not their motives are pure, the fact remains
that the message about Christ is being preached, so I rejoice." They
preached Christ out of envy, they envied Paul that throng of people, and
they preached that they might outshine him in gifts, and get away some of
his hearers. "Well," says Paul, "So long as Christ is preached, and God is
likely to have the glory, I will rejoice. Let my candle go out, if
the Sun of Righteousness may but shine!"
 We glorify God by a sincere CONFESSION of sin.
The thief on the cross had dishonored God in his life—but at his
death he brought glory to God by confession of sin. Luke 23:3I. "We indeed
suffer justly." He acknowledged he deserved not only crucifixion—but
damnation. "My son, give, I beg you, give glory to God, and make
confession unto him." A humble confession exalts God. How is God's free
grace magnified, in crowning those who deserve to be condemned!
The excusing and mincing of sin casts a reproach upon God. Adam denied
not that he tasted the forbidden fruit—but, instead of a full confession, he
blamed God. Gen 3:32. "The woman whom you gave me, she gave me of the
tree, and I ate." "If you had not given me the woman to be a
tempter—I would not have sinned." Confession glorifies God, because it
clears him; it acknowledges that he is holy and righteous, whatever he does.
Nehemiah vindicates God's righteousness; chap 9:93. "You are just in all
that is brought upon us." A confession is sincere, when it is free, not
forced. Luke 15:58. "I have sinned against heaven and before you." The
prodigal charged himself with sin, before his father charged him with it.
 We glorify God by BELIEVING. "Abraham was
strong in faith, giving glory to God." Unbelief affronts God,
it gives him the lie; "he who believes not, makes God a liar." But faith
brings glory to God; it sets its seal, that God is true. He who believes
flies to God's mercy and truth, as to an altar of refuge; he engarrisons
himself in the promises, and trusts all he has with God. "Into your hands I
commit my spirit." This is a great way of bringing glory to God. God honors
faith—because faith honors him. It is a great honor we do to a man when we
trust him with all we have; when we put our lives and estates into his
hand—it is a sign we have a good opinion of him. The three Hebrew children
glorified God by believing. "The God whom we serve is able to deliver us,
and will deliver us." Faith knows there are no impossibilities with God, and
will trust his loving heart, where it cannot trace his mysterious
 We glorify God, by being tender of his glory.
God's glory is as dear to him as the pupil of his eye. An sincere
child weeps to see a disgrace done to his father. Psalm 69:9. "The
reproaches of those who reproached you are fallen upon me." When we hear God
reproached, it is as if we were reproached; when God's glory suffers, it is
as if we suffered. This is to be tender of God's glory.
 We glorify God by FRUITFULNESS. "Hereby is
my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit." As it is dishonoring God to
be barren, so fruitfulness honors him. "Filled with the fruits of
righteousness, which are to the praise of his glory." We must not be like
the fig tree in the gospel, which had nothing but leaves—but like the
pomecitron, which is continually either ripening or blossoming, and is never
without fruit. It is not mere profession—but fruit which
glorifies God. God expects to have his glory from us in this way. "Who
plants a vineyard, and does not eat the fruit of it?" Trees in the forest
may be barren—but trees in the garden are fruitful. We must bring
forth the fruits of love and good works. "Let your light so shine before
men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in
heaven." Faith sanctifies our works, and works testify our
faith. To be doing good to others, to be eyes to the blind, feet to the
lame—much glorifies God. Thus Christ glorified his Father; "he went about
doing good." Acts 10:08. By being fruitful, we are beautiful in God's
eyes. "The Lord called you a thriving olive tree, beautiful to see
and full of good fruit." And we must bear much fruit. It is
muchness of fruit which glorifies God: "if you bear much fruit." The
spouse's breasts are compared to clusters of grapes, to show how fertile she
was. Though the lowest degree of grace may bring salvation to you, yet it
will not bring much glory to God. It was not a spark of love, which
Christ commended in Mary—but much love; "she loved much."
 We glorify God, by being CONTENTED in that state in
which Providence has placed us. We give God the glory of his
wisdom, when we rest satisfied with whatever portion he carves out to us.
Thus Paul glorified God. The Lord cast him into as great variety of
conditions as any man, "I have worked harder, been put in jail more often,
been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five
different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was
beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I
spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary
miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have
faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I
have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And
I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not." 2
Corinthians 11:23-26. Yet he had learned to be content. Paul could sail
either in a storm or a calm; he could be anything that God
would have him; he could either lack or abound.
A good Christian argues thus: "It is God who has put me
in this condition; he could have raised me higher, if he pleased—but that
might have been a snare to me. He has done it in wisdom and love; therefore
I will sit down satisfied with my condition." Surely this glorifies God
much; God counts himself much honored by such a Christian. "Here," says God,
"is one after my own heart; let me do whatever I will with him—I hear no
murmuring—he is content!" This shows abundance of grace. When grace is
crowning, it is not so much to be content; but when grace is
conflicting with inconveniences, then to be content is a glorious thing
indeed. For one to be content when he is in heaven is no wonder; but to be
content under severe trials, greatly glorifies God. This man must needs
bring glory to God; for he shows to all the world, that though he has little
meal in his barrel, yet he has enough in God to make him content! He says,
as David, "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance; the lines have fallen
to me in pleasant places."
 We glorify God by working out our own salvation.
God has twisted together, his glory and our good. We glorify him by
promoting our own salvation. It is a glory to God to have multitudes of
converts; his design of free grace takes effect, and God has the glory of
his mercy; so that, while we are endeavoring our salvation, we are honoring
God. What an encouragement is this to the service of God, to think, "while I
am hearing and praying, I am glorifying God; while I am furthering my own
glory in heaven, I am increasing God's glory!" Would it not be an
encouragement to a subject, to hear his prince say to him, "You will honor
and please me very much, if you will go to yonder mime of gold, and dig as
much gold for yourself as you can carry away"? So, for God to say, "Go to
the ordinances, get as much grace as you can, dig out as much salvation as
you can; and the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself
 We glorify God by living for God. "Those
who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for
them." "Whether we live, we live unto the Lord." The Mammonist lives for his
money. The Epicure lives for his belly. The design of a sinner's life is to
gratify lust—but we glorify God when we live for God. We live to God when we
live to his service, and lay ourselves out wholly for God. The Lord has sent
us into the world, as a merchant sends his ambassador beyond the seas to
trade for him. We live to God when we trade for his interest, and propagate
his gospel. God has given every man a talent; and when a man does not hide
it in a napkin—but improves it for God, he lives to God. When a master
in a family, by counsel and good example, labors to bring his servants
to Christ; when a minister spends himself, and is spent, that he may
win souls to Christ, and make the crown flourish upon Christ's head; when
the magistrate does not wear the sword in vain—but labors to cut down
sin, and to suppress vice; this is to live to God, and this is glorifying
God. "That Christ might be magnified, whether by life or by death." Paul had
three wishes, and they were all about Christ; that he might be found in
Christ, be with Christ, and magnify Christ.
 We glorify God by walking cheerfully. It
brings glory to God, when the world sees a Christian has that within him,
which can make him cheerful in the worst times; which can enable him, with
the nightingale, to sing with a thorn at his bosom. The people of God
have ground for cheerfulness. They are justified and adopted, and this
creates inward peace; it makes music within, whatever storms are without. If
we consider what Christ has wrought for us by his blood, and wrought in us
by his Spirit, it is a ground of great cheerfulness, and this cheerfulness
glorifies God. It reflects poorly upon a master when the servant is always
drooping and sad; surely—he is kept to hard commons, his master does not
give him what is fitting. Just so, when God's people hang their heads, it
looks as if they did not serve a good master, or repented of their choice,
which reflects dishonor on God. The uncheerful lives of the godly bring a
scandal on the gospel. "Serve the Lord with gladness." Your serving him does
not glorify him, unless it is with gladness. A Christian's cheerful looks
glorify God. True religion does not take away our joy—but refines it; it
does not break our violin—but tunes it, and makes the music sweeter.
 We glorify God, by standing up for his truths.
Much of God's glory lies in his truth. God has entrusted us with his truth,
as a master entrusts his servant with his purse to keep. We have not a
richer jewel to trust God with—than our souls; nor has God a richer jewel to
trust us with—than his truth. Truth is a beam which shines from God. Much of
his glory lies in his truth. When we are advocates for truth we glorify God.
"That you should contend earnestly for the truth." The Greek word to
contend signifies great contending, as one would contend for his
land, and not allow his right to be taken from him; so we should contend for
the truth. Were there more of this holy contention, God would have
more glory. Some contend earnestly for trifles and ceremonies—but not for
the truth. We should count him indiscreet that would contend more for a
picture—than for his inheritance; more for a box of pennies—than for his box
of title deeds.
 We glorify God, by praising him.
Doxology, or praise, is a God-exalting work. "Whoever offers praise,
glorifies me." The Hebrew word Bara, to create; and Barak, to praise; are
little different, because the end of creation is to praise God. David was
called the sweet singer of Israel, and his praising God was called
glorifying God. "I will praise you, O Lord my God, and I will glorify your
name." Though nothing can add to God's essential glory, yet praise exalts
him in the eyes of others. When we praise God, we spread his fame and
renown, we display the trophies of his excellency. In this manner the angels
glorify him; they are the choristers of heaven, and trumpet forth his
praise. Praising God is one of the highest and purest acts of true religion.
In prayer we act like men; but in praise we act like angels! Believers are
called "temples of God." When our tongues praise, then the organs in God's
spiritual temple are sounding. How sad is it that God has no more glory from
us in this way! Many are full of murmuring and discontent—but seldom bring
glory to God, by giving him the praise due to his name. We read of the
saints having harps in their hands, the emblems of praise. Many have tears
in their eyes, and complaints in their mouth—but few have harps in their
hand, blessing and glorifying God. Let us honor God this way. Praise is the
rent we pay to God; while God renews our lease, we must renew our rent.
 We glorify God, by being zealous for his name.
"Phinehas has turned my wrath away, while he was zealous for my sake." Zeal
is a mixed affection, a compound of love and anger; it carries forth our
love to God, and our anger against sin in an intense degree. Zeal
is impatient of God's dishonor; a Christian fired with zeal, takes a
dishonor done to God, worse than an injury done to himself! "You cannot bear
those who are evil." Our Savior Christ thus glorified his Father; he, being
baptized with a spirit of zeal, drove the money-changers out of the temple.
"Zeal for your house has consumed me."
 We glorify God, when we have an eye to God in our
natural and in our civil actions. In our natural actions; in
eating and drinking. "Whether therefore you eat or drink—do all
to the glory of God." A gracious person holds the golden bridle of
temperance; he takes his food as a medicine to heal the decays of nature,
that he may be the fitter, by the strength he receives, for the service of
God; he makes his food, not fuel for lust—but help to duty.
In buying and selling, we do all to the
glory of God. The wicked live upon unjust gain, by falsifying the balances,
"The balances of deceit are in his hands;" and thus while men make their
weights lighter, they make their sins heavier, when by exacting more than
the commodity is worth. We buy and sell to the glory of God, when we observe
that golden maxim, "To do to others as we would have them do to us;" so that
when we sell our commodities, we do not sell our consciences also. "Herein
do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence towards
God, and towards men." We glorify God, when we have an eye to God in all our
civil and natural actions, and do nothing that may reflect any blemish on
 We glorify God by laboring to draw others to God.
By seeking to convert others, and so make them instruments of glorifying
God. We should be both diamonds and magnets; diamonds for the luster of
grace, and magnets for attractive virtue in drawing others to Christ. Gal
4:19. "My little children, of whom I travail," It is a great way of
glorifying God, when we break open the devil's prison, and turn men from the
power of Satan to God.
 We glorify God in a high degree when we suffer for
God, and seal the gospel with our blood. "When you are old you
will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you
where you do not want to go. Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death
by which Peter would glorify God." God's glory shines in the ashes of his
martyrs. "Glorify the Lord in the fires." Micaiah was in the prison, Isaiah
was sawn asunder, Paul was beheaded, Luke was hanged on an olive tree; thus
did they, by their death, glorify God. The sufferings of the primitive
saints did honor to God, and made the gospel famous in the world. What
would others say? See what a good master they serve, and how they love
him, that they will venture the loss of all, in his service. The glory of
Christ's kingdom does not stand in worldly pomp and grandeur, as other
kings"; but it is seen in the cheerful sufferings of his people. The saints
of old "loved not their lives to the death." They embraced torments
as so many crowns. God grant we may thus glorify him—if he calls us
to it. Many pray, "Let this cup of suffering pass away!" Few pray, "May your
will be done!"
 We glorify God, when we give God the glory of all
that we do. When Herod had made an oration, and the people gave a
shout, saying, "It is the voice of a God, and not of a man," he took the
glory to himself. "Immediately, because Herod did not give glory to God, an
angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died." We
glorify God, when we sacrifice the praise and glory of all we do—to God. "I
have worked harder than all the other apostles," is a speech, one would
think, which savored of pride. But the apostle pulls the crown from his own
head, and sets it upon the head of free grace! "Yet it was not I but God who
was working through me by his grace." As Joab, when he fought against
Rabbah, sent for King David, that David might carry away the crown of the
victory; so a Christian, when he has gotten power over any corruption or
temptation, sends for Christ, that he may carry away the crown of the
victory. As the silkworm, when she weaves her curious work, hides herself
under the silk, and is not seen; so when we have done anything praiseworthy,
we must hide ourselves under the veil of humility, and transfer the glory of
all we have done to God. As one used to write the name of Christ over his
door—so should we write the name of Christ over our duties. Let him
wear the garland of praise!
 We glorify God by a holy life. A bad life
dishonors God. "You are a holy nation, that you should show forth the
praises of him who has called you." The name of God is blasphemed among the
Gentiles through you." Epiphanius says, "That the looseness of some
Christians in his time made many of the heathens shun their company, and
would not be drawn to hear their sermons." By our exact Bible-lives, we
glorify God. Though the main work of true religion lies in the heart, yet
our light must so shine that others may behold it. The safety of a building
is the foundation—but the glory of it is in the frontispiece. Just so, the
beauty of faith is in the godly life. When the saints, who are called
jewels, cast a sparkling luster of holiness in the eyes of the world, then
they "walk as Christ walked." When they live as if they had seen the Lord
with bodily eyes, and been with him upon the mount—they adorn true religion,
and bring revenues of glory to the crown of heaven!
Use one: Admonition.
This subject shows us that our chief end should not be to
get great estates, nor to lay up treasures upon earth; which is the
degeneracy of mankind since the fall. Sometimes they never arrive at an
estate, they do not get the venison they hunt for; or if they do, what have
they? that which will not fill the heart any more than the mariner's breath
will fill the sails of the ship. They spend their time, as Israel, in
gathering straw—but remember not, that the end of living is to glorify God.
"What profit has he who labors for the wind?" These things are soon gone.
Use two: Reproof.
(1.) It reproves such as bring no glory to God; who
do not answer the end of their creation; whose time is not time lived—but
time lost; who are like the wood of the vine, Ezek 15:5; whose lives
are, as Bernard speaks "either sinfulness or barrenness. A useless burden on
the earth." God will one day ask such a question as King Ahasuerus did, Esth
6:6. "What honor and dignity has been done to Mordecai?" What honor has been
done to me? what revenues of glory have you brought into my treasury? There
is no one here present, but God has put in some capacity of glorifying him;
the health he has given you, the abilities, estate, seasons of grace—all are
opportunities put into your hand to glorify him; and, be assured, he will
call you to account, to know what you have done with the mercies he has
entrusted you with—what glory you have brought to him. The parable of the
talents, where the men with the five talents and the two talents are brought
to a reckoning, evidently shows that God will call you to a strict account,
to know how you have traded with your talents, and what glory you have
brought to him. Now, how sad will it be with them who hide their talents in
a napkin—who bring God no glory at all! "Cast you the unprofitable servant
into outer darkness." It is not enough for you to say, that you have not
dishonored God, you have not lived in gross sin. What good have you done?
what glory have you brought to God? It is not enough for the servant of the
vineyard that he does no damage in the vineyard, that he does not break the
trees, or destroy the hedges; if he does not do service in the vineyard—he
loses his pay. Just so, if you do not do good in your place, if you do not
glorify God—you will lose your pay—you will miss of salvation! Oh, think of
this, all you who live worthless lives! Christ cursed the barren fig tree.
(2.) It reproves such as are so far from bringing glory
to God, that they rob God of his glory. Mal 3:3. "Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed me." They rob God, who take the glory due to God to
1. If they have gotten an estate, they ascribe all to
their own wit and industry, they set the crown upon their own head, not
considering that, "You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who
gives you power to get wealth."
2. If they do any duty of religion, they look to their
own glory. "Be careful not to do your "acts of righteousness" before men, to
be seen by them." They may be set upon a theater for others to admire and
canonize them. The oil of vainglory feeds their lamp. How many by the wind
of popular breath have been blown to hell! Whom the devil cannot destroy by
intemperance, he does by vainglory.
(3.) It reproves those who fight against God's glory.
"Lest you be found to fight against God." Such as oppose that whereby God's
glory is promoted, fight against God's glory. His glory is much promoted by
the preaching of the word, which is his engine whereby he converts souls.
Now, such as would hinder the preaching of the word fight against God's
glory. "Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles, that they might be saved."
Diocletian, who raised the tenth persecution against the Christians,
prohibited church meetings, and would have the churches of the Christians to
be burned down. Such as hinder preaching—as the Philistines that stopped the
wells—stop the well of the water of life. They take away the physicians that
would heal sin-sick souls. Ministers are lights, Matt 5:14, and who but
thieves hate the light? They directly strike at God's glory; and what an
account will they have to give to God, when he shall charge the blood of
men's souls upon them! "You have taken away the key of knowledge; you
entered not in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered." If
there is either justice in heaven, or fire in hell—they shall not go
Use three: Exhortation.
Let every one of us, in our place, make it our chief end
and design to glorify God.
(1.) Let me speak to magistrates. God has put much
glory upon them. "I have said, You are gods;" and will they not glorify him
who has put so much glory upon them?
(2.) Ministers should study to promote God's
glory. God has entrusted them with two of the most precious things—his
truth, and the souls of his people. Ministers, by virtue of their office,
are to glorify God. They must glorify God, by laboring in the word
and doctrine. "I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall
judge the living and the dead: preach the word, be ready in season, out of
season," etc. It was Augustine's wish, "that Christ, at his coming, might
find him either praying or preaching." Ministers must glorify God by their
zeal and sanctity. The priests under the law, before they
served at the altar, washed in the laver; so, such as serve in the
Lord's house, must first be washed from gross sin in the laver of
repentance. It is matter of grief and shame to think how many, who call
themselves ministers, instead of bringing glory to God, dishonor him.
Their lives, as well as their doctrines, are heterodox! They are not
free from the sins which they reprove in others. Plutarch's servant
upbraided him, by saying, "he has written a book against anger—yet he falls
into a passion of anger with me." So is a minister who preaches against
drunkenness, yet he himself is drunk; he preaches against swearing, yet he
(3.) Masters of families must glorify God, must
season their children and servants with the knowledge of the Lord; their
houses should be little churches. "I know that Abraham will command his
children, that they may keep the way of the Lord." You who are masters have
a charge of souls. For lack of the bridle of family discipline, youth run
It will be a great comfort in a dying hour, to think we
have glorified God in our lives. It was Christ's comfort before his death:
"I have glorified you on the earth." At the hour of death, all your earthly
comforts will vanish. If you think how rich you have been, what pleasures
you have had on earth; this will be so far from comforting you, that it will
torment you the more. What is one the better, for an estate which is spent?
But to have conscience telling you, that you have glorified God on the
earth, what sweet comfort and peace will this let into your soul! how will
it make you long for death! The servant who has been all day working in the
vineyard, longs for the evening, when he shall receive his pay. How can they
who have lived, and brought no glory to God, think of dying with comfort?
They cannot expect a harvest where they sowed no seed. How can they expect
glory from God, who never brought any glory to him? Oh in what
horror will they be at death! The worm of conscience will gnaw their souls,
before the worms can gnaw their bodies!
If we glorify God, he will glorify our souls forever. By
raising God's glory, we increase our own: by glorifying God, we come at last
to the blessed enjoyment of him.
2. Man's chief end is to ENJOY God forever.
"Whom do I have in heaven but You? And I desire nothing
on earth but You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of
my heart, my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26. There is a twofold fruition
or enjoying of God; the one is in this life, the other in the life to come.
 The enjoyment of God in this life. It is a
great matter to enjoy God's ordinances—but to enjoy God's presence in the
ordinances is that which a gracious heart aspires after. Psalm 63:2, "I have
seen YOU in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory." This sweet
enjoyment of God, is, when we feel his Spirit co-operating with the
ordinance, and distilling grace upon our hearts; when in the Word, the
Spirit quickens and raises the affections, Luke 24:42, "Did not our hearts
burn within us?", when the Spirit transforms the heart, leaving an impress
of holiness upon it. "We are changed into the same image, from glory to
glory." When the Spirit revives the heart with comfort, it comes not only
with its anointing—but with its seal; it sheds God's love abroad in the
heart. "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
In the Word we hear God's voice, in the sacrament we have his kiss.
The heart being warmed and inflamed in a duty—is God's answering by fire.
The sweet communications of God's Spirit are the first-fruits of glory. Now
Christ has pulled off his veil, and showed his smiling face; now he has led
a believer into the banqueting-house, and given him of the spiced wine of
his love to drink; he has put in his finger at the hole of the door; he has
touched the heart, and made it leap for joy. Oh how sweet is it thus to
enjoy God! The godly have, in ordinances, had such divine raptures of joy,
and soul transfigurations, that they have been carried above the world, and
have despised all things here below.
Use one: Is the enjoyment of God in this life
so sweet? How wicked are they who prefer the enjoyment of their lusts before
the enjoyment of God! "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride
of life," is the evil trinity they worship. Lust is an inordinate desire or
impulse, provoking the soul to that which is evil. There is the
revengeful lust; and the wanton lust. Lust, like a feverish heat,
puts the soul into a flame. Aristotle calls sensual lusts brutish,
because, when any lust is violent, reason or conscience cannot be heard.
These lusts besot and brutalize the man. "Whoredom and wine take away the
heart;" the heart for anything that is good. How many make it their chief
end, not to enjoy God—but to enjoy their lusts! As that cardinal who said,
"Let him but keep his cardinalship of Paris, and he was content to lose his
part in Paradise." Lust first bewitches with pleasure, and then comes the
fatal dart. "Until a dart strikes through his liver." This should be as a
flaming sword to stop men in the way of their carnal delights. Who for a
drop of pleasure—would drink a sea of wrath?
Use two: Let it be our great concern, to enjoy
God's sweet presence in his ordinances. Enjoying spiritual communion with
God is a riddle and mystery to most people. Everyone who hangs about the
court, does not speak with the king. We may approach God in ordinances,
and hang about the court of heaven, yet not enjoy communion with God. We may
have the letter without the Spirit, the visible sign without the invisible
grace. It is the enjoyment of God in a duty, which we should chiefly look
at. "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet
with God?" Psalm 42:2. Alas! what are all our worldly enjoyments, without
the enjoyment of God! What is it to enjoy good health, a noble estate, and
not to enjoy God? Job said, "I went mourning without the sun." So may you
say in the enjoyment of all creatures without God, "I went mourning without
the sun." I have the starlight of outward enjoyments—but I lack the
Sun of Righteousness. "I went mourning without the sun."
It should be our great design, not only to have the
ordinances of God—but the God of the ordinances. The enjoyment of God's
sweet presence here is the most contented life. God is a hive of
sweetness, a treasury of riches, a fountain of delight! The higher the
lark flies—the sweeter it sings. Just so, the higher we fly by the wings of
faith—the more we enjoy of God. How is the heart inflamed in prayer and
meditation! What joy and peace is there in believing! Is it not comfortable
being in heaven? He who enjoys much of God in this life, carries heaven with
him. Oh let this be the thing we are chiefly ambitious of—the enjoyment of
God in his ordinances! The enjoyment of God's sweet presence here, is a
pledge of our enjoying him in heaven!
This brings us to the second thing:
 The enjoyment of God in the life to come.
Man's chief end is to enjoy God forever. Before the full fruition of God in
heaven, there must be something previous and antecedent; and that is, our
being in a state of grace. We must have conformity to him in grace,
before we can have communion with him in glory. Grace and glory are
linked and chained together. Grace precedes glory, as the morning star
ushers in the sun. God will have us qualified and fitted for a state of
blessedness. Drunkards and swearers are not fit to enjoy God in glory; the
Lord will not lay such vipers in his bosom. Only the "pure in heart shall
see God." We must first be, as the king's daughter, glorious within, before
we are clothed with the robes of glory. As King Ahasuerus first caused the
virgins to be purified and anointed, and they had their sweet fragrances to
perfume them, and then went to stand before the king; so must we have the
anointing of God, and be perfumed with the graces of the Spirit, those sweet
fragrances, and then we shall stand before the king of heaven. Being thus
divinely qualified by grace, we shall be taken up to the mount of vision,
and enjoy God forever; and what is enjoying God forever but to be put in a
state of happiness? As the body cannot have life but by having communion
with the soul, so the soul cannot have blessedness but by having immediate
communion with God.
God is the summum bonum, the chief good;
therefore the enjoyment of him is the highest felicity.
God is a universal good—"a good, in which are all
goods." The excellencies of the creature are limited. A man may have health,
but not beauty, nor learning, nor parentage, nor riches, nor wisdom. But in
God are contained all excellencies. He is a good, commensurate fully to the
soul; a sun, a portion, a horn of salvation; in whom dwells "all fullness."
God is an unmixed good. There is no condition in
this life but has its mixture; for every drop of honey there is a drop of
gall. Solomon, who gave himself to find out the philosopher's stone, to
search out for happiness here below, found nothing but vanity and vexation.
God is perfect, the quintessence of good. He is
sweetness in the flower.
God is a satisfying good. The soul now cries out,
"I have enough!" "I shall be satisfied with your likeness." Let a man who is
thirsty be brought to an ocean of pure water, and he has enough. If there is
enough in God to satisfy the angels, then sure there is enough to
satisfy us. The soul is but finite—but God is infinite. Though God is
a good which satisfies, yet he does not surfeit. Fresh joys spring
continually from his face; and he is as much to be desired after millions of
years by glorified souls—as at the first moment! There is a fullness in God
which satisfies, and yet so much sweetness, that the soul still desires.
God is a delicious good. That which is the chief
good must ravish the soul with pleasure; there must be in it rapturous
delight and quintessence of joy. There is a certain sweetness about God's
person which delights, nay, rather, ravishes the soul! The
love of God drops such infinite pleasure into the soul as is unspeakable and
full of glory. If there is so much delight in God, when we see him only by
faith—what will the joy of vision be, when we shall see him face
to face! If the saints have found so much delight in God while they were
suffering, oh what joy and delight will they have when they are being
crowned! If flames are beds of roses, what will it be to lean
on the bosom of Jesus! What a bed of roses that will be!
God is a superlative good. He is better than
anything you can put in competition with him. He is better than health,
riches, honor. Other things maintain life, he gives life. Who
would put anything in balance with the Deity? Who would weigh a feather
against a mountain of gold? God excels all other things more infinitely than
the sun excels the light of a candle.
God is an eternal good. He is the Ancient of days,
yet never decays, nor waxes old. The joy he gives is eternal, the crown
never fades away. The glorified soul shall be ever solacing itself in God,
feasting on his love, and sunning itself in the light of his countenance. We
read of the river of pleasure at God's right hand; but will not this
in time be dried up? No! There is a fountain at the bottom which feeds it.
"With the Lord is the fountain of life."
Thus God is the chief good, and the enjoyment of God
forever is the highest felicity of which the soul is capable.
Use one: Let it be the chief end of our living to enjoy
this chief good hereafter. Augustine reckons up 288 opinions
among philosophers about happiness—but all were short of the mark. The
highest elevation of a reasonable soul is to enjoy God forever. It is the
enjoyment of God, which makes heaven. "Then shall we ever be with the Lord."
The soul trembles as the needle in the compass, and is never at rest until
it comes to God. To set out this excellent state of a glorified soul's
enjoyment of God:
(1.) It must not be understood in a sensual manner.
We must not conceive any carnal pleasures in heaven. The Turks, in
their Koran, speak of a paradise of pleasure, where they have riches in
abundance, and red wine served in golden chalices. The epicures of
this age would like such a heaven when they die. Though the state of glory
is compared to a feast, and is set out by pearls and precious stones, yet
these metaphors are only helps to our faith, and to show us that there is
superabundant joy and felicity in the highest heaven; but they are not
carnal, but spiritual delights. Our heavenly enjoyment will be in
the perfection of holiness, in seeing the pure face of Christ, in feeling
the love of God, in conversing with heavenly spirits; which will be proper
for the soul, and infinitely exceed all carnal voluptuous delights.
(2.) We shall have a lively sense of this glorious
estate. A man in a lethargy, though alive, is as good as dead, because
he is not sensible, nor does he take any pleasure in his life. But we shall
have a quick and lively sense of the infinite pleasure which arises from the
enjoyment of God. We shall know ourselves to be happy. We shall reflect with
joy upon our dignity and felicity. We shall taste every crumb of that
sweetness, every drop of that pleasure, which flows from God.
(3.) We shall be made able to bear a sight of that glory.
We could not now bear that glory, it would overwhelm us, as a weak eye
cannot behold the sun; but God will capacitate us for glory; our souls shall
be so heavenly, and perfected with holiness, that they may be able to enjoy
the blessed vision of God. Moses in a cleft of the rock saw the glory of God
passing by. From our blessed rock Christ, we shall behold the beatific sight
(4.) This enjoyment of God shall be more than a bare
contemplation of him. Some of the learned move the question, Whether the
enjoyment of God shall be by way of contemplation only. That is
something—but it is one half of heaven only; there shall be a loving of God,
an acquiescence in him, a tasting his sweetness; not only inspection, but
possession. John 17:24. "That they may behold my glory;" there is
inspection: Verse 22. "And the glory you have given me, I have given
them;" there is possession. "Glory shall be revealed in us," not only
revealed to us—but in us. To behold God's glory, there is glory revealed to
us; but, to partake of his glory, there is glory revealed in us. As the
sponge sucks in the wine—so shall we suck in glory!
(5.) There is no intermission in this state of glory.
We shall not only have God's glorious presence at certain special seasons;
but we shall be continually in his presence, continually under divine
raptures of joy. There shall not be one minute in heaven, wherein a
glorified soul may say, "I do not enjoy happiness." The streams of glory are
not like the water of a conduit, often stopped, so that we cannot have one
drop of water; but those heavenly streams of joy are continually running. Oh
how should we despise this valley of tears where we now are, for the
mount of transfiguration! how should we long for the full enjoyment of God
in Paradise! Had we a sight of that land of promise, we would need patience
to be content to live here any longer!
Use two: Let this be a spur to duty. How
diligent and zealous should we be in glorifying God, that we may come at
last to enjoy him! If Tully, Demosthenes, and Plato, who had but the dim
watch-light of reason to see by, imagined a paradise of happiness
after this life, and took such herculean pains to enjoy it; oh how should
Christians, who have the light of Scripture to see by, bestir themselves
that they may attain to the eternal fruition of God and glory! If anything
can make us rise off our bed of sloth, and serve God with all our might, it
should be this—the hope of our near enjoyment of God forever! What made Paul
so active in the sphere of true religion? "I labored more abundantly than
they all." His obedience did not move slow, as the sun on the dial; but
swift, as light from the sun. Why was he so zealous in glorifying God—but
that he might at last center and terminate in him? "Then shall we ever be
with the Lord."
Use three: Let this comfort the godly in all the present
miseries they feel. You complain, Christian, you do not enjoy
yourself, fears disquiet you, needs perplex you. In the day you cannot enjoy
ease, in the night you cannot enjoy sleep; you cannot enjoy the comforts of
your life. Let this revive you—that shortly you shall enjoy God, and then
shall have more than you can ask or think! You shall have angels" joy, glory
without intermission or expiration. We shall never enjoy ourselves
fully—until we enjoy God eternally!
3. The SCRIPTURES
Question 2. What rule has God given to direct us how we
may glorify and enjoy him?
Answer: The Word of God, which is contained in the
scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how
we may glorify and enjoy him.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." By
Scripture is understood the sacred Book of God. It is given by divine
inspiration; that is, the Scripture is not the contrivance of man's
brain—but is divine in its origin. The image of Diana was had in veneration
by the Ephesians, because they supposed it fell from Jupiter. The holy
Scripture is to be highly reverenced and esteemed, because we are sure it
came from heaven. The two Testaments are the two lips by which God has
spoken to us.
How does it appear that the Scriptures have a divine
authority stamped upon them?
Because the Old and New Testament are the foundation of
all true religion. If their divinity cannot be proved, the foundation on
which we build our faith is gone. I shall therefore endeavor to prove this
great truth, that the Scriptures are the very word of God. I wonder whence
the Scriptures should come—if not from God. Bad men could not be the
authors of it. Would their minds be employed in inditing such holy lines?
Would they declare so fiercely against sin? Good men could not be the
authors of it. Could they write in such a strain? or could it stand with
their grace to counterfeit God's name, and put, "Thus says the Lord," to a
book of their own devising? Nor could any angel in heaven be the
author of it, because the angels pry and search into the abyss of gospel
mysteries, which implies their ignorance of some parts of Scripture; and
surely, they cannot be the authors of that book which they themselves do not
fully understand. Besides, what angel in heaven dared be so arrogant as to
impersonate God and, say, "I create," and, "I the Lord have said it,"? So
that it is evident, the pedigree of Scripture is sacred, and it could come
from none but God himself.
Not to speak of the harmonious consent of all the parts
of Scripture, there are seven cogent arguments which may evince it to be the
Word of God.
 Its ANTIQUITY. It is of ancient standing.
The grey hairs of Scripture make it venerable. No human histories extant
reach further than Noah's flood: but the holy Scripture relates matters of
fact that have been from the beginning of the world; it writes of things
before time. That is a sure rule of Tertullian, "That which is of the
greatest antiquity, is to be received as most sacred and authentic."
 We may know the Scripture to be the Word of God by
its miraculous PRESERVATION in all ages. The holy Scriptures are
the richest jewel that Christ has left us; and the church of God has so kept
these public records of heaven, that they have not been lost. The Word of
God has never lacked enemies to oppose, and, if possible, to extirpate it.
They have given out a law concerning Scripture, as Pharaoh did the midwives,
concerning the Hebrew women's children, to strangle it in the birth;
but God has preserved this blessed Book inviolable to this day. The devil
and his agents have been blowing at Scripture light—but could never blow it
out; a clear sign that it was lighted from heaven. The letter of Scripture
has been preserved, without any corruption, in the original tongue. The
Scriptures were not corrupted before Christ's time, for then Christ would
not have sent the Jews to them. He said, "Search the Scriptures." He knew
these sacred springs were not muddied with human fancies.
 The Scripture appears to be the Word of God, by the
subject MATTER contained in it. The mystery of Scripture is so
abstruse and profound that no man or angel could have known it, had it not
been divinely revealed. That eternity—should be born; that he who
thunders in the heavens—should cry in the cradle; that he who rules the
stars—should suck the breasts; that the Prince of Life—should die; that the
Lord of Glory—should be put to shame; that sin should be punished to the
full—yet pardoned to the full; who could ever have conceived of such a
mystery, had not the Scripture revealed it to us? Just so, for the doctrine
of the resurrection; that the same body which is crumbled into a thousand
pieces, should rise the same individual body, else it were a creation, not a
resurrection. How could such a sacred riddle, above all human disquisition,
be known, had not the Scripture made a discovery of it?
As the matter of Scripture is so full of goodness,
justice and sanctity, that it could be breathed from none but God; so the
holiness of it shows it to be of God. Scripture is compared to silver
refined seven times. The Book of God has no errata in it; it is a beam of
the Sun of Righteousness, a crystal stream flowing from the fountain of
life. All laws and edicts of men have had their corruptions—but the Word of
God has not the least tincture—it is of meridian splendor. Psalm 119:940,
"Your word is very pure," like wine which comes from the grape, which is not
mixed nor adulterated. It is so pure that it purifies everything else. John
17:17, "Sanctify them through your truth." The Scripture presses holiness—as
no other book ever did. It bids us live "soberly, righteously, and godly;"
Soberly, in acts of temperance; righteously, in acts of
justice; godly, in acts of piety and devotion. It commends to us,
whatever is "just, lovely, and of good report." This sword of the Spirit
cuts down vice! Eph 6:67. Out of this tower of Scripture, is thrown a
millstone upon the head of sin! The Scripture is the royal law which
commands not only the actions—but affections; it binds the heart to good
behavior. Where is there such holiness to be found—as is dug out of this
sacred mine? Who could be the author of such a book but God himself?
 That the Scripture is the Word of God is evident by
its PREDICTIONS. It prophesies of things to come, which
shows the voice of God speaking in it. It was foretold by the prophet, "A
virgin shall conceive," and, the "Messiah shall be cut off." Dan 9:96. The
Scripture foretells things that would fall out many ages and centuries
after; as how long Israel should serve in the iron furnace, and the very day
of their deliverance. "At the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even
the self-same day, it came to pass that the host of the Lord went out of
Egypt." This prediction of future things, merely contingent, and not
depending upon natural causes, is a clear demonstration of its divine
 The impartiality of those men of God who wrote the
Scriptures, who do not spare to set down their own failings. What
man who writes a history, would blacken his own face, by recording those
things of himself which would stain his reputation? Moses records his
own impatience when he struck the rock, and tells us, he could not on that
account enter into the land of promise. David relates his own
adultery and bloodshed, which stands as a blot in his escutcheon to
succeeding ages. Peter relates his own cowardliness in denying
Christ. Jonah sets down his own angry passions, "I do well to be
angry to the death." Surely had their pen not been guided by God's own hand,
they would never have written that which reflects dishonor upon themselves.
Men usually hide their blemishes, rather than publish them to the world; but
the penmen of holy Scripture eclipse their own name; they take away all
glory from themselves, and give the glory to God.
 The mighty POWER and EFFICACY that the Word has had
upon the souls and consciences of men.
It has changed their hearts. Some by reading
Scripture have been turned into other men; they have been made holy and
gracious. By reading other books the heart may be warmed—but by
reading this book it is transformed. "You are manifestly declared to
be the epistle of Christ, written not with ink—but with the Spirit of the
living God." The Word was copied out into their hearts, and they became
Christ's epistle, so that others might read Christ in them. If you should
set a seal upon marble, and it should make an impression upon the marble,
and leave a print behind, there would be a strange virtue in that seal; so
when the seal of the Word leaves a heavenly print of grace upon the heart,
there must needs be a power going along with that Word no less than divine.
It has comforted their hearts. When Christians
have sat by the rivers weeping—the Word has dropped as honey, and sweetly
revived them. A Christian's chief comfort is drawn out of these wells of
salvation. Rom 15:5, "That we through comfort of the Scriptures
might have hope." When a poor soul has been ready to faint—it has had
nothing to comfort it but a Scripture cordial.
When it has been sick—the Word has revived it.
"Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
When it has been deserted—the Word has dropped in
the golden oil of joy. "The Lord will not cast off forever." He may change
his providence, not his purpose; he may have the look of an enemy—but
he has the heart of a father. Thus the Word has a power in it to
comfort the heart. This is my comfort in my affliction; for your word has
quickened me." As the spirits are conveyed through the arteries of the body,
so divine comforts are conveyed through the promises of the Word. Now, the
Scriptures having such an exhilarating, heart-comforting power in them—shows
clearly that they are of God—and it is he who has put the milk of
consolation into these breasts.
 The MIRACLES by which Scripture is confirmed.
Miracles were used by Moses, Elijah, and Christ, and were continued, many
years after, by the apostles—to confirm the verity of the holy Scriptures.
As props are set under weak vines, so these miracles were set under the weak
faith of men, that if they would not believe the writings of the Word, they
might believe the miracles. We read of God's dividing the waters, making a
pathway in the sea for his people to go over, the iron swimming, the oil
increasing by pouring out, Christ's making wine of water, his curing the
blind, and raising the dead. Thus God has set a seal to the truth and
divinity of the Scriptures by miracles.
The Papists cannot deny that the Scripture is divine and
sacred; but they affirm with respect to us, it receives its divine authority
from the church; and in proof of it they bring that Scripture, 1 Tim 3:15,
where the church is said to be the ground and pillar of truth.
It is true, the church is the pillar of truth; but it
does not therefore follow that the Scripture has its authority from the
church. The king's proclamation is fixed on the pillar, the pillar holds it
out, that all may read—but the proclamation does not receive its authority
from the pillar—but from the king; so the church holds forth the
Scriptures—but they do not receive their authority from the church—but from
God. If the Word of God be divine, merely because the church holds it forth,
then it will follow, that our faith is to be built upon the church, and not
upon the Word, contrary to Eph 2:20. "Built upon the foundation (that is the
doctrine) of the apostles and prophets."
Are all the books in the Bible of the same divine
Those which we call canonical.
Why are the Scriptures called canonical?
Because the Word is a rule of faith, to direct our
lives. The Word is the judge of controversies, the rock of infallibility.
That only is to be received for truth, which agrees with Scripture, as the
transcript with the original. All maxims in divinity are to be brought to
the touchstone of Scripture, as all measures are brought to the standard.
Are the Scriptures a complete rule?
The Scripture is a full and perfect rule, containing in
it all things necessary to salvation. "From a child you have known the holy
Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation." The Scripture
shows what we are to believe; and what we are to practice. It
gives us an exact model of true religion, and perfectly instructs us in the
deep things of God. The Papists, therefore, make themselves guilty, who eke
out Scripture with their traditions, which they consider equal to it. The
Council of Trent says, that the traditions of the church of Rome are to be
received pari pietatis affectu, with the same devotion that Scripture
is to be received; so bringing themselves under the curse. "If any man shall
add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written
in this book."
What is the main scope and end of Scripture?
To reveal a way of salvation. It makes a clear discovery
of Christ. "These things are written, that you might believe that Jesus is
the Christ, and that believing you might have life through his name." The
design of the Word is to be a test whereby our grace is to be tried; a
sea-mark to show us what rocks are to be avoided. The Word is to purify and
quicken our affections; it is to be our directory and consolatory; it is to
waft us over to the land of promise.
Who should have the power of interpreting Scripture?
The Papists assert that it is in the power of the
church. If you ask whom they mean by the church, they say, The Pope, who
is head of it, and he is infallible. But that assertion is false, because
many of the Popes have been ignorant and wicked, as Platina affirms, who
writes the lives of Popes. Pope Liberius was an Arian, and Pope John XII
denied the immortality of the soul; therefore Popes are not fit interpreters
of Scripture; who then?
The Scripture is to be its own interpreter, or rather the
Spirit speaking in it. Nothing can cut the diamond but the diamond; nothing
can interpret Scripture but Scripture. The sun best discovers itself by its
own beams; the Scripture interprets itself to the understanding. But the
question is concerning hard places of Scripture, where the weak
Christian is ready to wade beyond his depth; who shall interpret here?
The church of God has appointed some to expound and
interpret Scripture; therefore he has given gifts to men. The several
pastors of churches, like bright constellations, give light to dark
Scriptures. "The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek
the law at his mouth."
But this is to pin our faith upon men.
We are to receive nothing as truth, but what is agreeable
to the Word. As God has given to his ministers gifts for interpreting
obscure places, so he has given to his people so much of the spirit of
discerning, that they can tell (at least in things necessary to salvation)
what is consonant to Scripture, and what is not. "To one is given a spirit
of prophecy, to another discerning of spirits." God has endued his people
with such a measure of wisdom and discretion, that they can discern between
truth and error, and judge what is sound and what is spurious. "The Bereans
searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." They weighed
the doctrine they heard, whether it was agreeable to Scripture, though Paul
and Silas were their teachers.
Use one: See the wonderful goodness of God, who, besides
the light of nature—has committed to us the sacred Scriptures.
The heathen are enveloped in ignorance. "As for his judgments, they have not
known them." They have the oracles of the Sibyls—but not the writings of
Moses and the apostles. How many live in the region of death, where this
bright star of Scripture never appeared! We have this blessed Book of God to
resolve all our doubts, to point out a way of life to us. "Lord, how is it
you will manifest yourself unto us—and not unto the world?"
God having given us his written Word to be our directory,
takes away all excuses from men. No man can say, "I went wrong for lack of
light." God has given you his Word as a lamp to your feet; therefore if you
go wrong, you do it willfully. No man can say, "If I had known the will of
God, I would have obeyed it." You are inexcusable, O man, for God has given
you a rule to go by, he has written his law with his own finger; therefore,
if you obey not, you have no excuse left. If a master leaves his mind in
writing with his servant, and tells him what work he will have done, and the
servant neglects the work—that servant is left without excuse. "Now you have
no excuse for your sins."
Use two: Is all Scripture of divine
(1.) Is all Scripture of divine inspiration? Then
it reproves the PAPISTS, who take away part of Scripture, and so clip
the King of heaven's coin. They expunge the second commandment out of their
catechisms, because it forbids idols "You shall not make for yourself an
idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in
the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them." Exodus
20:4-5. And it is usual with them, if they meet with anything in Scripture
which they dislike, either to put a false gloss upon it, or, if that will
not do, to pretend it is corrupted. They are like Ananias, who kept back
part of the money. They keep back part of the Scripture from the people. It
is a high affront to God to deface and obliterate any part of his Word, and
brings us under that curse, "If any man shall take away from the words of
the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of
(2.) Is all Scripture of divine inspiration? Then
it condemns the ANTINOMIANS, who lay aside the Old Testament as useless,
and out of date; and call those who adhere to them Old Testament
Christians. God has stamped a divine majesty upon both Testaments; and
until they can show me where God has repealed the Old, it stands in force.
The two Testaments are the two wells of salvation; the Antinomians would
stop up one of these wells, they would dry up one of the breasts of
Scripture. There is much gospel in the Old Testament. The comforts of the
gospel in the New Testament have their rise from the Old. The great promise
of the Messiah is in the Old Testament, "A virgin shall conceive and bear a
son." Nay, I say more. The moral law, in some parts of it, speaks gospel, "I
am the Lord your God;" here is the pure wine of the gospel. The saints"
great charter, where God promises to "sprinkle clean water upon them, and
put his Spirit within them," is to be found primarily in the Old Testament.
So that those who take away the Old Testament, as Samson pulled down the
pillars, would take away the pillars of a Christian's comfort.
(3.) Is all Scripture of divine inspiration? Then
it condemns the ENTHUSIASTS, who, pretending to have the Spirit, lay
aside the whole Bible, and say the Scripture is a dead letter, and they live
above it. What impudence is this! Until we are above sin, we shall not be
above Scripture. Let not men so talk of a revelation from the Spirit—but
suspect it to be an imposture. The Spirit of God acts regularly, it works in
and by the Word; and he who pretends to a new light, which is either above
the Word, or contrary to it, abuses both himself and the Spirit: his light
is borrowed from him who transforms himself into an angel of light.
(4.) Is all Scripture of divine inspiration? Then
it condemns the SLIGHTERS of Scripture; such as those who can go whole
weeks and months and never read the Word. They lay it aside as rusty armor;
they prefer a play or romance before Scripture. The weighty matters of the
Scripture, are to them insignificant. Oh how many can be looking at their
faces in a glass all the morning—but their eyes begin to be sore when they
look upon a Bible! Heathens die for lack of Scripture, and these in
contempt of it. They surely must needs go wrong who slight their only
guide. Such as lay the reins upon the neck of their lusts, and never use the
curbing bit of Scripture to check them, are carried to hell, and never stop!
(5.) Is all Scripture of divine inspiration? Then
it condemns the ABUSERS of Scripture. Those who muddy and poison this
pure crystal fountain with their corrupt glosses, and who twist the
Scripture. They give wrong interpretations of it, not comparing Scripture
with Scripture; as the Antinomians pervert that Scripture, "He has not
beheld iniquity in Jacob;" from which they infer that God's people may take
liberty in sin, because God sees no sin in them. It is true, God sees no sin
in his people with an eye of revenge—but he sees it with an eye of
observation. He sees not sin in them, so as to damn them; but he
sees it, so as to be angry, and severely to punish them. Did not
David find it so, when he cried out of his broken bones? In like manner the
Arminians wrest the Scripture in John 5:40, "You will not come to me;" where
they bring in free will. This text shows how willing God is that we should
have life; and that sinners may do more than they do, they may improve the
talents God has given them; but it does not prove the power of free will,
for that is contrary to that Scripture, "No man can come to me,
except the Father who has sent me draws him." These, therefore, wring the
text so hard, that they make the blood come out; they do not compare
Scripture with Scripture.
Some jest with Scripture. When they are sad, they
take the Scripture as their lute or minstrel to play upon, and so drive away
the sad spirit; as a drunkard I have read of, who, having drunk off his
cups, called to some of his fellows, "Give us of your oil, for our lamps are
gone out." In the fear of God, take heed of jesting with Scripture. Eusebius
tells us of one, who took a piece of Scripture to make a jest of—but was
presently struck with a frenzy and ran mad. It is a saying of Luther, "Whom
God intends to destroy, he gives them leave to play with Scripture."
Use three: If the Scripture be of divine
inspiration, then be exhorted,
(1.) To STUDY the Scripture. It is a copy of God's
will. Be Scripture-men, Bible-Christians. "I adore the fullness of
Scripture," says Tertullian. In the Book of God are scattered many truths as
so many pearls. "Search the Scriptures." Search as for a vein of silver.
This blessed Book will fill your head with knowledge, and your heart with
grace! God wrote the two tables with his own fingers; and if he took
pains to write, well may we take pains to read. Apollos was mighty in the
Scriptures. Acts 18:24. The Word is our Magna Charta for Heaven; shall we be
ignorant of our charter? "Let the word of God dwell in you richly." The
memory must be a book where the Word is written.
There is majesty sparkling in every line of
Scripture; take but one instance, "Who is this who comes from Edom, from the
city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes,
marching in the greatness of his strength? It is I, the Lord, announcing
your salvation! It is I, the Lord, who is mighty to save!" Here is a lofty,
magnificent style. What angel could speak after this manner? Junius was
converted by reading one verse of John; he beheld a majesty in it beyond all
There is a melody in Scripture. This is that
blessed harp which drives away sadness of spirit. Hear the sounding of this
harp a little. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." He took not only our
flesh upon him—but our sins! And, "Come unto me, all you that are heavy
laden—and I will give you rest." How sweetly does this harp of Scripture
sound, what heavenly music does it make in the ears of a distressed sinner,
especially when the finger of God's Spirit touches this instrument!
There is divinity in Scripture. It contains the
marrow and quintessence of true religion. It is a rock of diamonds, a
mystery of piety. The lips of Scripture have grace poured into them. The
Scripture speaks of faith, self-denial, and all the graces which, as a chain
of pearls, adorns a Christian. It excites to holiness; it treats of another
world, it gives a prospect of eternity! Oh, then, search the Scripture! make
the Word familiar to you. Had I the tongue of angels, I could not
sufficiently set forth the excellency of Scripture. It is a spiritual
telescope, in which we behold God's glory; it is the tree of life, the
oracle of wisdom, the rule of manners, the heavenly seed of which the new
creature is formed. James 1:18. "The two Testaments," says Austin, "are the
two breasts which every Christian must suck, that he may get spiritual
nourishment." The leaves of the tree of life were for healing. Rev 22:2. So
these holy leaves of Scripture are for the healing of our souls.
The Scripture is profitable for all things. If we
are deserted—here is spiced wine that cheers the heavy heart; if we are
pursued by Satan—here is the sword of the Spirit to resist him; if we are
diseased with sin's leprosy—here are the waters of the sanctuary, both to
cleanse and cure. Oh, then, search the Scriptures! There is no danger in
tasting this tree of knowledge. There was a penalty laid at first, that we
might not taste of the tree of knowledge. "In the day that you eat thereof,
you shall surely die." There is no danger in plucking from this tree of holy
Scripture; if we do not eat of this tree of knowledge, we shall surely die!
Oh, then, read the Scriptures! Time may come when the Scriptures may be kept
Read the Bible with reverence. Think in every line
you read—that God is speaking to you. The ark wherein the law was put was
overlaid with pure gold, and was carried on bars, that the Levites might not
touch it. Exod 25:14. Why was this—but to give reverence to the law?
Read with seriousness. It is matter of life and
death; by this Word you must be tried; conscience and Scripture are the jury
God will proceed by, in judging you.
Read the Word with affection. Get your hearts
quickened with the Word; go to it to fetch fire. Luke 24:42. "Did not our
hearts burn within us?" Labor that the Word may not only be a lamp to
direct—but a fire to warm. Read the Scripture, not only as a history—but
as a love letter sent to you from God, which may affect your hearts.
Pray that the same Spirit who wrote the Word may assist you in reading it;
that God's Spirit would show you the wonderful things of his law. "Go near,"
says God to Philip, "join yourself to this chariot." Acts 8:29. So, when
God's Spirit joins himself with the chariot of his Word, it becomes
(2.) Be exhorted to PRIZE the written Word. "I have
treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread." Job 23:12. David
valued the Word more than gold. What would the martyrs have given for a leaf
of the Bible! The Word is the field where Christ the pearl of price is
hidden! In this sacred mine we dig, not for a wedge of gold—but for a weight
of glory! The Scripture is a sacred eye-salve to illuminate us. "The
commandment is a lamp, and the law is light." The Scripture is the chart and
compass by which we sail to the new Jerusalem. It is a sovereign cordial in
all distresses. What are the promises but the water of life to renew
fainting spirits? Is it sin which troubles you? Here is a Scripture cordial.
Psalm 65:5, "When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our
transgressions." Do outward afflictions disquiet you? Here is a Scripture
cordial. Psalm 91:15, "I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him."
Thus, as manna was laid up in the ark, so promises are laid up in the ark of
The Scripture will make us wise. Wisdom is above rubies.
"By your precepts I get understanding." What made Eve desire the tree of
knowledge? "It was a tree to make one wise." The Scriptures teach a man to
know himself. They unmask Satan's snares and stratagems. "They make one wise
to salvation." Oh, then, highly prize the Scriptures. I have read of Queen
Elizabeth, that at her coronation, she received the Bible presented to her,
with both her hands, and kissing it, laid it to her bosom, saying, that that
book had ever been her chief delight.
(3.) If the Scripture is of divine inspiration, BELIEVE
it. The Romans, that they might gain credit to their laws, reported they
were inspired by the gods of Rome. Oh give credence to the Word! It is
breathed from God's own mouth. Hence arises the profaneness of men, that
they do not believe the Scripture. "Who has believed our report?" Did you
believe the glorious rewards the Scripture speaks of, would you not give
diligence to make your election sure? Did you believe the infernal torments
the Scripture speaks of, would it not put you into a cold sweat, and cause a
trembling at heart for sin? But people are in part atheists, they give but
little credit to the Word, therefore they are so impious, and draw such dark
shadows in their lives. Learn to realize Scripture, get your hearts wrought
to a firm belief of it.
Some think, if God would send an angel from heaven, and
declare his mind, they would believe him; or, if he would send one from the
damned, and preach the torments of hell all in flames, they would believe.
But, "If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be
persuaded though one arose from the dead." Luke 16:61. God is wise, and he
thinks the fittest way to make his mind known to us is by writing; and such
as shall not be convinced by the Word, shall be judged by the Word. The
belief of Scripture is of high importance. It will enable us to resist
temptation. I John 2:14. "The Word of God abides in you, and you have
overcome the wicked one." It conduces much to our sanctification; therefore
sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth, are put together. 2
Thess 2:13. If the word written is not believed, it is like writing on
water, which makes no impression.
(4.) LOVE the Word written. "Oh how love I your law!"
"Lord," said Augustine, "let the holy Scriptures be my holy delight."
Chrysostom compares the Scripture to a garden, every truth is a fragrant
flower, which we should wear, not on our bosom—but in our heart. David
counted the Word "more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are
sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb." There is that in
Scripture which may breed delight. It shows us the way to riches,
Deut 28:8, Prov 3:30; to long life, Psalm 34:42; to a kingdom,
Heb 12:28. Well then may we count those the sweetest hours, which are spent
in reading the holy Scriptures; well may we say with the prophet, "Your
words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the
joy of my heart."
(5.) CONFORM to Scripture. Let us lead Scripture
lives. Oh that the Bible might be seen printed in our lives! Do what the
Word commands. Obedience is an excellent way of commenting upon the Bible.
"I will walk in your truth." Let the Word be the sun-dial by which you set
your life. What are we the better for having the Scripture, if we do not
direct all our speech and actions according to it? What is a carpenter the
better for his rule about him, if he sticks it at his back, and never makes
use of it for measuring and squaring his work? So, what are we the better
for the rule of the Word, if we do not make use of it, and regulate our
lives by it? How many swerve and deviate from the rule! The Word teaches to
be sober and temperate—but they are drunk! The Word teaches to be chaste and
holy—but they are profane; they go quite from the rule! What a dishonor is
it to true religion, for men to live in contradiction to Scripture! The Word
is called a "light to our feet." Psalm 119:105. It is not only a light to
our eyes to mend our sight—but to our feet to mend our walk. Oh let us lead
(6.) CONTEND for Scripture. Though we should not be
of contentious spirits, yet we ought to contend for the Word of God. This
jewel is too precious to be parted with. "Hold on to instruction, do not let
it go; guard it well, for it is your life." The Scripture is beset with
enemies; heretics fight against it, we must therefore "contend for the faith
once delivered to the saints." The Scripture is our book of evidences for
heaven; shall we part with our evidences? The saints of old were both
advocates and martyrs for truth; they would hold fast Scripture, though it
were with the loss of their lives.
(7.) Be THANKFUL to God for the Scriptures. What a
mercy is it that God has not only acquainted us what his will is—but that he
has made it known by writing! In the old times God revealed his mind by
visions—but the Word written is a surer way of knowing God's mind. "This
voice which came from heaven we heard, we have also a more sure word
of prophecy." The devil is God's ape, and he can transform himself
into an angel of light; he can deceive with false revelations. I have heard
of one who had, as he thought, a revelation from God to sacrifice his child,
as Abraham had; whereupon, following this impulse of the devil, he killed
his child. Thus Satan deceives people with delusion, instead of divine
revelations; therefore we are to be thankful to God for revealing his mind
to us by writing. We are not left in doubtful suspense that we should not
know what to believe—but we have an infallible rule to go by. The Scripture
is our pole-star to direct us to heaven, it shows us every step we are to
take; when we go wrong, it instructs us; when we go right, it comforts us;
and it is matter of thankfulness, that the Scriptures are made intelligible,
by being translated into contemporary language.
(8.) Adore God's distinguishing grace, if you have felt
the power and authority of the Word upon your conscience; if you can say
as David, "Your word has quickened me." Christian, bless God that he has not
only given you his Word to be a rule of holiness—but his grace
to be a principle of holiness. Bless God that he has not only written his
Word—but sealed it upon your heart, and made it effectual. Can you say it is
of divine inspiration, because you have felt it to be of lively operation?
Oh free grace! that God should send out his Word, and heal you; that he
should heal you, and not others! That the same Scripture which to them is a
dead letter, should be to you a savor of life!