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him; but he has, I will not say reasons of state, but reasons of glory, glorious reasons why he hideth himself from the world and appeareth but to particular ones.
What is heaven without God? But many there be who cannot abide God; no, they like not to go to heaven, because God is there. The nature of God lieth cross to the lusts of men. A holy God, a glorious holy God, an infinitely holy God; this spoils all. But to the soul that is awakened, and that is made to see things as they are, to him God is what he is in himself, the blessed, the highest, the only eternal good, and he without the enjoyment of whom all things would sound but empty in the ears of that soul.
Methinks, when I consider what glory there is at times upon the creatures, and that all their glory is the workmanship of God, "O Lord," say I, "what is God himself?" He may well be called the God of glory, as well as the glorious Lord; for as all glory is from him, so in him is an inconceivable well-spring of glory, of glory to be communicated to them that come by Christ to him. Wherefore, let the glory and love and bliss and eternal happiness that are in God, allure thee to come to him by Christ.
MAJESTY OF GOD.
What is God's majesty to a sinful man, but a consuming fire? And what is a sinful man in himself, or in his approach to God, but as stubble fully dry?
What mean the tremblings, the tears, those breakings and shakings of heart that attend the people of God, when in an eminent manner they receive the pronunciation of the forgiveness of sins at his mouth, but that the dread of the majesty of God is in their sight mixed therewith? God must appear like himself, speak to the soul like himself; nor can the sinner, when under these glorious discoveries of
its Lord and Saviour, keep out the beams of his majesty from the eyes of its understanding.
Alas, there is a company of poor, light, frothy professors in the world, that carry it under that which they call the presence of God, more like to antics than sober, sensible Christians; yea, more like to a fool of a play, than those who have the presence of God. They would not carry it so in the presence of a king, nor yet of the lord of their land, were they but receivers of mercy at his hand. They carry it even in their most eminent seasons, as if the sense and sight of God, and his blessed grace to their souls in Christ, had a tendency in it to make men wanton: but indeed it is the most humbling and heart-rending sight in the world; it is fearful.
OBJECTION. But would you not have us rejoice at the sight and sense of the forgiveness of our sins?
ANSWER. Yes; but yet I would have you, and indeed you shall when God shall tell you that your sins are pardoned indeed, “rejoice with trembling;" for then you have solid and godly joy: a joyful heart and wet eyes in this, will stand very well together; and it will be so, more or less. For if God shall come to you indeed, and visit you with the forgiveness of sins, that visit removeth the guilt, but increaseth the sense of thy filth; and the sense of this, that God hath forgiven a filthy sinner, will make thee both rejoice and tremble. O, the blessed confusion which will then cover thy face, while thou, even thou, so vile a wretch, shalt stand before God to receive at his hand thy pardon, and so the first-fruits of thy eternal salvation. "That thou mayest remember, and be comforted, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God." Jer. 33:8, 9; Ezek. 16:63.
Since the name of God is that by which his nature is expressed, and since he naturally is so glorious and incom
Riches of Bunyan.
prehensible, his name must needs be the object of our fear; and we ought always to have a reverent awe of God upon our hearts at what time soever we think of or hear his name; but most of all when we ourselves do take his holy and fearful name into our mouths, especially in a religious manner; that is, in preaching, praying, or holy conference.
Make mention then of the name of the Lord at all times with great dread of his majesty on your hearts, and in great soberness and truth. To do otherwise is to profane the name of the Lord, and to take his name in vain.
Next to God's nature and name, his service, his instituted worship, is the most dreadful thing under heaven. His name is upon his ordinances, his eye is upon the worshippers, and his wrath and judgment upon those that worship not in his fear.
His presence is dreadful; and not only his presence in common, but his special, yea, his most comfortable and joyous presence. When God comes to bring a soul news of mercy and salvation, even that visit, that presence of God is fearful. When Jacob went from Beersheba to Haran, he met with God in the way by a dream, in the which he apprehended a ladder set upon the earth, whose top reached to heaven. Now in this dream, at the top of this ladder, he saw the Lord, and heard him speak unto him, not threateningly, not as having his fury come up into his face, but in the most sweet and gracious manner, saluting him with promise of goodness after promise of goodness, to the number of eight or nine. Yet, I say, when he awoke, all the grace that discovered itself in this heavenly vision to him could not keep him from dread and fear of God's majesty: "And Jacob awoke out of his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord was in this place, and I knew it not;' and he was afraid, and said, 'How dreadful is this place; this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
At another time, when Jacob had that memorable visit from God, in which he gave him power as a prince to prevail with him; yea, and gave him a name, that by his remembering it he might call God's favor the better to his mind; yet, even then and there such dread of the majesty of God was upon him, that he went away wondering that his life was preserved. Man crumbles to dust at the presence of God; yea, though he show himself to us in his robes of salvation. Gen. 28:10-17; 32:30.
JUSTICE OF GOD.
You may see a few of the sparks of the justice of God against sin and sinners, by his casting off angels for sin from heaven and hell, by his drowning the old world, by his burning of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes.
God is resolved to have the mastery. God is merciful, and is come forth into the world by his Son, tendering grace unto sinners by the gospel, and would willingly make a conquest over them for their good by his mercy. Now he being come out, sinners like briars and thorns do set themselves against him, and will have none of his mercy. Well, but what says God? Saith he, "Then I will march on. I will go through them, and burn them together. I am resolved to have the mastery one way or another; if they will not bend to me and accept of my mercy in the gospel, I will bend them and break them by my justice in hell-fire."
HOLINESS OF GOD.
The holiness of God makes the angels cover their faces, and crumbles Christians, when they behold it, into dust and ashes.
SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.
The will of God is the rule of all righteousness, neither knoweth he any other way by which he governeth and
ordereth any of his actions. Whatsoever God doeth, it is good because he doeth it; whether it be to give grace or to detain it, whether in choosing or refusing. The consideration of this made the holy men of old ascribe righteousness to their Maker, even when yet they could not see the reason of his actions; they would rather stand amazed and wonder at the heights and depths of his unsearchable judg ments, than quarrel at the most strange and obscure of them.
SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN CONVERSION.
Mercy may receive him that we have doomed to hell, and justice may take hold on him whom we have judged to be bound up in the bundle of life. We, like Joseph, are for setting of Manasseh before Ephraim; but God, like Jacob, puts his hands across, and lays his right hand upon the worst man's head and his left hand upon the best, Gen. 48, to the amazement and wonderment even of the best of men.
PROVIDENCE OF GOD IN CONVERSION.
Doth no man come to Jesus Christ by the will, wisdom, and power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? Then here is room for Christians to stand and wonder at the effectual working of God's providence, that he hath made use of as means to bring them to Jesus Christ.
What was the providence that God made use of as a means, either more remote or near, to bring thee to Jesus Christ? Was it the removing of thy habitation, the change of thy condition, the loss of relations, estate, or the like? Was it the casting of thine eye upon some good book, the hearing thy neighbors talk of heavenly things, the beholding of God's judgments as executed upon others, or thine own deliverance from them, or thy being strangely cast under the ministry of some godly man? O take notice