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this distinction is especially recognised by every one that is received into the Christian Church; every one being, by the express command of Christ himself, baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
In so important a doctrine as this we may reasonably expect to find that, though the clear and full manifestation of it might be reserved for the Messiah, some intimations of it should be given from the beginning of the world. Accordingly, we find that, at the very creation of man, the Sacred Three consulted, if I may so speak, with each other, in reference to this matter : “ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likenessa.” Again, when man had fallen, and the punishment denounced against transgression was to be inflicted on him, the same concert between them is marked : “ And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil 6.” In like manner, when, after the Deluge, the inhabitants of the earth were devising a plan for their own consolidation and aggrandizement, and God determined to defeat it, the language used by Jehovah on the occasion was precisely similar : “ The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language.” Moreover, in many passages where God is mentioned, his name is put in the plural number; as when it is said, “ Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” it is in the original, “Remember thy Creators.” And the noun thus plural is often united to a singular verb: thus it is said, “ Thy Makers is thy husbande :" and again in my text, “ None saith, Where is God, my Makers ?” The particular occasion on which my text was a Gen. i. 26. b Gen. üi. 22.
c Gen. xi. 5-7. d Eccl. xii. 1. e Isai. liv, 5.
spoken seems to have been this. All of Job's friends interpreted his expressions in a way more favourable than truth or equity required. Elihu, after doing this in numerous instances, specifies, as a further proof of Job's supposed impiety, that he had complained of God, as not attending to the cry of the oppressed, either in his own case or in that of others'. In answer to which, Elihu says, that this arose from the people themselves, who under their troubles complained and murmured, but never, in a becoming manner, inquired after God, to seek relief from him. Now, in this answer, as containing a general and a very important truth, Elihu marks, in very strong characters, the impiety and folly of ungodly men : but, in the answer, as intimating also a plurality of persons in the Godhead, there is an extraordinary force, which places their guilt in a most aggravated point of view.
That we may exhibit this truth in its just light, we shall proceed to mark distinctly the impiety and folly of ungodly men. And, I. Their impiety
The assertion must, of course, be limited to unconverted men : but of all classes of them, without exception, it is true. St. Paul, shewing that all, whether Jews or Gentiles, are alike under sin, cites a variety of passages to prove his point, and which fully prove also the declaration in my text: “ It is written, There is none righteous, no not one: there is none that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God: they are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not ones.” Humiliating as this description of human nature is, it is strictly true, in reference to every unconverted man: there is none that has any sense,
Alluding probably to what Job had said in chap. xxiv. 12. in reference to others; and in xix. 7. and xxx. 20. in reference to himself.
& Rom. iii. 9--12.
1. Of duty to God
[Men will acknowledge that there is a Supreme Being ; and that they owe him allegiance as their Creator and Governor: but, practically, they pay no regard to his authority whatever. His Law is no law to them: they take no pains to ascertain his will : and, if it be stated to them as the rule of their conduct, they pour contempt upon it, and set it at nought, and determine to regulate themselves by a standard of their own.
The language of their hearts is, “Our lips are our own: who is Lord over ush?" “ As for the word which is spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not obey it';" but we will certainly do whatever cometh into our own mind, and “will walk every one of us, after the imagination of his own evil heart k:” “ We know not the Lord; neither will we obey his voicel."
If this statement appear too strong, look around you, and see where you can find persons truly and abidingly influenced by the fear of God. Verily, whatever appearance of that principle there may be in some who are more religiously inclined, “ it is no other fear of God than what is taught by the precept of men m;" the true vital principle itself is found in none but those who have been " renewed in the spirit of their minds” by the power of the Holy Ghost”.] 2. Of dependence on him
[As men will acknowledge the existence of God, so will they, in words, confess his providence also. But who receives every thing as from God? Who looks to him to order
every thing in his behalf? Who realizes the idea, that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the special appointment of God? Who has not his attention so fixed on second causes, as almost to overlook the First great Cause of all? It is undeniable, that men are universally “ leaning to their own understanding," or "making flesh their arm," or " saying to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence:" and that, to be satisfied with all that God does, and, in the absence of all human help, to trust simply and confidently in him, is an attainment far out of the reach of the natural man, whoever he may be.] 3. Of desire after him
[Where do we ever hear the language of the Psalmist? “ O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul
th for thee; my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, that I may behold thy power and glory, like as I have seen thee in the sanctuary"?” Does
h Ps. xii. 4.
i Jer. xliv. 16.
k Jer. xviii. 12.
Eph. iv. 23.
“ the hunted deer, panting after the water-brooks, justly represent the desires of men's souls for God P?" Does their delight in his word, or their earnestness in prayer, or their contempt of all sublunary good, evince that God is indeed the chief object of their desire? Where shall we find the people who can with truth make that appeal to God, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee 9?" The truth is, that they are content to live “ without God in the world";" that “he is not in all their thoughts 8;" and that, if they were to be assured that there was no such Being in existence, it would give them no concern at all: they would sleep as soundly, and eat their food as pleasantly, and spend the morrow as cheerfully, as if no such information had been given them: yea, rather, instead of occasioning them any pain, it would accord with what God himself declares to be the wish of their hearts; “ The fool hath said in his heart, No Godt.”]
A more distinct view of our text will further exhibit
II. Their folly
It is the peculiar prerogative of God to "give songs in the night”
[This is the office, and this the blessed employment, of each person in the Sacred Trinity. The Father, as the source and fountain of all good, is, to all who seek him, a “God of grace, and of all consolation,” “ forgiving all their sins, healing all their diseases, redeeming their lives from destruction, and crowning them with mercy and loving-kindness.” The Lord Jesus Christ as our Great High-Priest, sprinkles his own precious blood on the soul of the repenting sinner, and "gives him beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” The Holy Spirit also will descend and dwell in the contrite soul, to revive and comfort it: with those also who are bowed down through manifold temptations, to succour them with great might, and to make them victorious over all their enemies. Indeed our Triune God assumes to himself that endearing name, “The God that comforteth all them that are cast down u.” There is no tribulation so heavy, but he can make our consolations to abound above all our afflictions*. Behold Paul and Silas when in prison, their backs torn with scourges, and their feet made fast in the stocks; that was certainly to them a night of deep
p Ps. xlii. 1, 2.
9 Ps. lxxiii. 25.
Eph. ii. 12.
affliction : yet, so far were they from being dejected, that “at midnight, with a loud voice, they sang praises to their God, insomuch that all who were in the prison heard themy.” And thus will God support all his afflicted people: he will cause “light to arise unto them in darkness," yea, and in the darkest night, "will himself be a light unto them."
But where besides shall we find a god that can do this? As for “the gods of the Heathen, they cannot do either good or evil :" and all the creatures in the universe are no better than “ broken cisterns, which can hold no water.” With God alone " is the fountain of life; and in his light alone shall we see light?."]
Yet is this consideration wholly insufficient to stir up their desires after him
[Though God would be a Father unto them, and treat them as his sons and daughters, they will not seek his face: and though the Lord Jesus Christ would wash away their sins, and clothe them in the robe of his own unspotted righteousness, they will not follow after him: and, though the Holy Ghost would accomplish in them the whole work of salvation, they will not implore his gracious influences. The vanities of time and sense they will seek with avidity: but after God they will not inquire, nor will they use the appointed means to obtain his favour.
Now, what extreme folly is this! For, however long their day of prosperity may be, there must come at last a night of affliction ; since“ man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” And what will they do when the night shall arrive? To whom will they flee for succour? or where will they find any solid consolation ? Even “ in the midst of their sufficiency they are in straits:" and "in the midst of laughter their heart is in heaviness.” What, then, will they do, when all created comforts shall vanish, and God himself shall frown upon them? What will they have to comfort them in a time of sickness? what under the guilt of an accusing conscience, and under the apprehensions of God's impending wrath? What comforters will they find then? Who will brighten their prospects then? Whatever satisfactions they may have found in the day, who will give them “songs in the night?” Above all, who will console them under the loss of heaven; or administer to them in hell one drop of water to cool their tongue? Verily, the neglect of such a God, who is the only and the all-sufficient source of all good, is nothing short of madness itself: as it is said, “Madness is in their heart while they live; and, after that, they go to the deada. "]
y Acts xvi. 25.
z Ps. xxxvi. 9.
a Eccl. ix. 3.