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 settled."

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 well grounded.

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.

[1] 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.

[2] 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 golden virtues.

[3] 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.

[4] 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!

[5] 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.

[6] 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 sort.

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 to sin.

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:

[1] 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.

[2] 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 him forever.

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:

[1] 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."

[2] 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 body."

WHAT is it to glorify God?

Glorifying God consists in four things:

1. Appreciation.

2. Adoration.

3. Affection.

4. Subjection.

This is the yearly rent we pay to the crown of heaven.

[1] 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!

[2] 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.

[3] 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 himself.

(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!

[4] 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?

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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!

[4] 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.

[5] 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 him!

In how many WAYS may we glorify God?

[1] 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!"

[2] 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.

[3] 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 providential hand.

[4] 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.

[5] 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."

[6] 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."

[7] 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 glorified!"

[8] 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.

[9] 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.

[10] 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.

[11] 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.

[12] 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."

[13] 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 true religion.

[14] 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.

[15] 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!"

[16] 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!

[17] 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 themselves.

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 unpunished!

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 himself swears!

(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 wild.

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.

[1] 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:

[2] 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 of God.

(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!



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.

[1] 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."

[2] 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.

[3] 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?

[4] 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 origin.

[5] 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.

[6] 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.

[7] 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 authority?

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 inspiration?

(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 life."

(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 human rhetoric.

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 from us.

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 effectual.

(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 Scripture.

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 Bible lives!

(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!