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records agree; we do those things which he hath decreed; but only our doing them, and not his decreeing them, hath the nature of evidence. God does not reward, nor condemn out of his decrees, but out of our actions. God sent down his commissioners the angels to Sodom*, to inquire, and to inform him how things went. God goes down himself to inquire, and inform himself, how it stood with Adam and Eve'. Not that God was ever ignorant of anything concerning us, but that God would prevent that dangerous imagination in every man, that God should first mean to destroy him, and then to make him, that he might destroy him, without having any evidence against him. For God made man ad imaginem suam, To his own image. If he had made him under an inevitable, and irresistible necessity of damnation, he had made him ad imaginem diabolicam, To the image of the devil, and not to his own. God
goes not out as a fowler, that for his pleasure and recreation, or for his commodity, or commendation, would kill, and therefore seeks out game that he may kill it; it is not God that seeks whom he may deroure: but God sees the vulture tearing his chickens, or other birds picking his corn, or pecking his fruit, and then when they are in that mischievous action, God takes his bow and shoots them for that. When God condemns a man, he proposes not that man to himself, as he meant to make him, and as he did make him, but as by his sins he hath made himself. At the first creation, God looked upon nothing; there was nothing; but ever since there have been creatures, God hath looked upon the creature: and as Adam gave every creature the name, according as he saw the nature thereof to be; so God gives every man reward or punishment, the name of a saint or a devil, in his purpose, as he sees him a good or a bad user of his graces. When I shall come to the sight of the book of life, and the records of heaven, amongst the reprobate, I shall never see the name of Cain alone, but Cain with his addition, Cain that killed his brother; nor Judas's name alone; but Judas with his addition, Judas that betrayed his Master. God does not begin with a morte moriendum, some body must die, and therefore I will make some body to kill; but God came to a morte morieris, yet thou art alive, and mayest live, but if thou wilt rebel, thou must die. God did not call up fevers, and pestilence, and consumptions, and fire, and famine, and war?, and then make man, that he might throw him into their mouths, but when man threw down himself, God let him fall into their mouths. Had I never sinned in wantonness, I should never have had consumption; nor fever, if I had not sinned in riot ; nor death, if I had not transgressed against the Lord of life. If God be pleased to look upon me, at the last day, as I am renewed in Christ, I am safe. But if God should look upon me, as he made me) in Adam, I could not be unacceptable in his sight, except he looked farther, and saw me in mine own, or in Adam's sin. I would never wish myself better, than God wished me at first ; no, nor than God wishes me now, as manifold a sinner as he sees me now, if yet I would conform my will to his. God looks upon persons; persons so conditioned as they were, which was our first branch, in this first part ; and our second is, That he delights to propose to himself persons that are capable of his rewards; for he mentions no others in this place, All that are upright in heart.
+ Gen. xviii. 17.
3 Gen. iii. 9.
6 1 Pet. v. 8.
The first thing that Moses names to have been made, was heaven, In the beginning God made heaven and earth. And infinite millions of generations before this heaven was made, there was a heaven, an eternal emanation of beams of glory, from the presence of God. But Moses tells us of no hell made at the creation; and before the creation, such a hell, as there was a heaven, there could not be; for the presence of God made heaven; and God was equally present everywhere. And they who have multiplied hells unto us, and made more hells than God hath made, more by their two limboes, (one for fathers, another for children) and one purgatory, have yet made their new hells more of the nature of heaven than of hell. For in one of their limboes, (that of the fathers) and in their purgatory, there is in them who are there an infallible assurance of heaven; they that are there, are infallibly assured to come to heaven; and an assurance of salvation will hardly consist with hell; he that is sure to come to heaven, can hardly be said to be in hell.
7 Levit. xxvi. 16.
God was loath and late in making places of torment; he is loath to speak of judgments, or of those that extort judgments from him. How plentifully, how abundantly is the word Beatus, Blessed, multiplied in the Book of Psalms! Blessed, and blessed in every Psalm, in every verse; the book seems to be made out of that word, blessed, and the foundation raised upon that word, blessed, for it is the first word of the book. But in all the book, there is not one cæ, not one woe, so denounced ; not one woe upon any soul, in that book. And when this cæ, this woe is denounced in some other of the prophets, it is very often cox dolentis, and not increpantis, that oæ, that woe, is a voice of compassion in him that speaks it, and not of destruction to them to whom it is spoken. God, in the person of Jeremiah”, weeps in contemplation of the calamities threatened, Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people. It is God that was their father, and it is God, their God that slew them; but yet, that God, their father weeps over the slaughter. So in the person of Esay', God weeps again, I will bewail thee with weeping, and I will water thee with tears. And without putting on the person of any man, God himself avows his sighing, when he comes to name judgments, Heu, vindicabor, Alas, I will revenge me of mine enemies 10; and he sighs, when he comes but to name their sins, Heu abominationes, Alas, for all the eril abominations of the house of Israel". As though God had contracted an irregularity, by having to do in a cause of blood, he sighs, he weeps when he must draw blood from them. God delights to institute his discourses, and to take, and to make his examples, from men that stand in state of grace, and are capable of his mercies, and his retributions, as here in this text, he names only those, who are Recti corde, The upright in heart, they shall be considered, rewarded.
The disposition that God proposes here in those persons, whom he considers, is rectitude, uprightness, and directness. God hath given man that form in nature, much more in grace, that he should be upright, and look up, and contemplate heaven, aud God
8 Jerem. ix. 1.
1" Isaiah i. 24.
9 Isaiah xvi. 9. il Ezek. xvi. Il.
there. And therefore to bend downwards upon the earth, to fix our breast, our heart to the earth, to lick the dust of the earth with the serpent, to inhere upon the profits and pleasures of the earth, and to make that which God intended for our way, and our rise to heaven, (the blessings of this world) the way to hell ; this is a manifest declination from this uprightness, from this rectitude. Nay, to go so far towards the love of the earth, as to be in love with the grave, to be impatient of the calamities of this life, and murmur at God's detaining us in this prison, to sink into a sordid melancholy, or irreligious dejection of spirit; this is also a declination from this rectitude, this uprightness. So is it too, to decline towards the left hand, to modifications, and temporisings in matter or form of religion, and to think all indifferent, all one; or to decline towards the right hand, in an overvehement zeal, to pardon no errors, to abate nothing of heresy, if a man believe not all, and just all that we believe; to abate nothing of reprobation, if a man live not just as we live; this is also a diversion, a deviation, a deflection, a defection from this rectitude, this uprightness. For the word of this text, jashar, signifies rectitudinem, and planitiem; it signifies a direct way; for the devil's way was circular, compassing the earth ; but the angels' way to heaven upon Jacob's ladder, was a straight, a direct way. And then it signifies, as a direct and straight, so a plain, a smooth, an even way, a way that hath been beaten into a path before, a way that the fathers and the church have walked in before, and not a discovery made by our curiosity, or our confidence, in venturing from ourselves, or embracing from others, new doctrines and opinions.
The persons then, whom God proposes here to be partakers of his retributions, are first recti, (that is, both direct men, and plain men) and then recti corde, this qualification, this straightness, and smoothness must be in the heart; all the upright in heart shall have it. Upon this earth, a man cannot possibly make one step in a straight, and a direct line. The earth itself being round, every step we make upon it, must necessarily be a segment, an arch of a circle. But yet though no piece of a circle be a straight line, yet if we take any piece, nay if we take the whole circle, there is no corner, no angle in any piece, in any entire circle. A
perfect rectitude we cannot have in any ways in this world; in every calling there are some inevitable temptations. But, though we cannot make up our circle of a straight line, (that is impossible to human frailty) yet we may pass on, without angles, and corners, that is, without disguises in our religion, and without the love of craft, and falsehood, and circumvention in our civil actions. A compass is a necessary thing in a ship, and the help of that compass brings the ship home safe, and yet that compass hath some variations, it doth not look directly north ; neither is that star which we call the north-pole, or by which we know the north-pole, the very pole itself; but we call it so, and we make our uses of it, and our conclusions by it, as if it were so, because it is the nearest star to that pole. He that comes as near uprightness, as infirmities admit, is an upright man, though he have some obliquities. To God himself we may always go in a direct line, a straight, a perpendicular line ; for God is vertical to me, over my head now, and vertical now to them, that are in the East, and West Indies; to our Antipodes, to them that are under our feet, God is vertical, over their heads, then when he is
To come to God there is a straight line for every man everywhere: but this we do not, if we come not with our heart. Præbe mihi fili cor tuum", saith God, My son give me thy heart. he his son, and had he not his heart? That may very well be. There is a filiation without the heart; not such a filiation, as shall ever make him partaker of the inheritance, but yet a filiation. The associating ourselves to the sons of God, in an outward profession of religion, makes us so far the sons of God, as that the judgment of man cannot, and the judgment of God doth not distinguish them. Because, then when the sons of God stood in his presence, Satan stood amongst the sons of God; God doth not disavow him, God doth not excommunicate him, God makes his use of him, and yet God knew his heart was far from him. So, when God was in council with his angels, about Ahab's going up to Ramoth Gilead, a spirit came forth and offered his service"), and God refuses not his service, but employs him, though he knew his heart to be far from him. So, no doubt, many times,
13 1 Kings xxii. 22.