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SERMON III.

TRUE KNOWLEDGE THE FOUNDATION OF TRUS

LOVE.

pray, that

PHILIPPIANS, 1. 9. And this I your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.

Philippi was a chief city in Macedonia, whither Paul was called to preach the gospel by a vision, in which “there stood a man of Macedonia and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us.” Paul obeyed this heavenly vision and went to Philippi, where he preached the gospel and converted Lydia, the Jailor and others, whom he formed into a Christian Church. Though the members of this church were few in number, yet they sustained a most excellent character; and the apostle wrote this epistle to them, not so much to reprove them, as to commend them for their growth in knowledge and every christian grace. He addresses them in language of high approbation and esteem. " Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now ; being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ

. Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment." There

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can be no doubt, but these Philippian Christians both knew and loved God. And what was true of them is equally true of all other real Christians, which warrants us to say,

That the true love which Christians exercise towards God, is founded in the true knowledge of God, I shall,

I. Consider what we are to understand by Christians having the true knowledge of God;

II. Show how they gain the true knowledge of God; And,

III. Show that their love to God is founded in their true knowledge of God.

I. Let us consider what we are to understand by Christians having the true knowledge of God. It is readily conceded, that this cannot mean, that Christians have a full and comprehensive knowledge of God. For none by searching can find out God; none can find out the Almighty unto perfection. No created beings ever have had, or ever can have a full and comprehensive knowledge of their uncreated, self-existent, independent, almighty and infinite Creator. Neither men, nor angels are capable of acquiring,or even of receiving a full and comprehensive knowledge of God. Nor can we conceive it to be possible for God to make beings capable of having a full and comprehensive knowledge of himself. For none, but a Deity, can comprehend a Deity. It is not to be supposed, therefore, that Christians ever had, or ever can have a full and comprehensive knowledge of God. But there may be a true knowledge of God, which is not a full and comprehensive knowledge of him. The difference between a perfect knowledge of God and a true knowledge of God is very plain and intelligible. A perfect knowledge of God implies a knowledge of all things, which are true concerning God ; but a true knowledge of God implies the knowledge of some things only which are true, concerning God..... Though men do not know every thing, that is true, in respect to any created object; yet they know

soniething, that is true, in respect to some created objects. Though men do not know every thing that is true, in respect to matter, or mind; yet they know something, that is true, in respect to both matter and mind. And what they do know that is true, in respect to either matter, or mind, is as real and true knowledge, as if they knew every thing concerning these objects. So what Christians know, that is true, concerning God, is as true knowledge, as if they knew every thing concerning God. They know that it is true, that God is self-existent, or that he exists of himself, without any external cause of his existence ; though they do not know the ground of his self-existence. They know that God is eternal, or never had a beginning of existence ; though they do not know the ground of his eternal existence. They know that God is omnipotent, or that he has almighty power ; though they do not know the ground of his almighty power. They know that he is omniscient, or that he knows all things, that can be known ; though they do not know the ground of his knowing all things. They know that he is omnipresent, or that he fills the whole circle of creation with his constant presence ; though they do not know the ground of his constant and universal presence. They know that he is perfectly benevolent, or has no mixture of malevolence in his heart; though they do not know the ground of his unmixed goodness. They know that he is perfectly just and has no mixture of injustice in his heart ; though they do not know the ground of his un.. mixed justice. They know that he is perfectly merciful, or as merciful as any being can be ; though they do not know the ground of his infinite mercy. The knowledge, which Christians have of these things, that are true concerning God, is as real and true knowledge of God, as if they knew all things concerning God, or could completely comprehend his being and perfections.

Again, Christians know something about the mode of God's existence. They know that he exists a Trinity in Unity ; though they cannot comprehend the ground of this mode of existence. They know that there is a personal distinction in his nature, which lays a foundation for his being called Father, Son and Holy Ghost. They know that the Father has the personal properties of understanding, willing and acting ; that the Son has the personal properties of understanding, willing and acting ; and that the Holy Ghost has the personal properties of understanding, willing and acting. They know these things, which are true, concerning God's mode of existence ; and their knowledge of these things, which are true concerning his mode of existence, is as real and true knowledge, as if they could completely comprehend every thing about the mysterious doctrine of the Trinity. A partial knowledge of any object is as real knowledge, as the perfect knowledge of it. The partial knowledge of the magnitude of the largest mountain is as real knowledge, as the perfect knowledge of the magnitude of a mole hill. A partial knowl

a edge of the sun, moon and stars is as real knowledge, as a full, and comprehensive knowledge of all those great and distant objects. No man knows every thing about any thing, that exists. No man knows every thing about himself, nor every thing about his fellowcreatures, nor every thing about the world in which he lives, nor about Him, who made the world. But every man knows something about himself and something about his fellow creatures and something about the world in which he lives and something about Him, who made the world. And this something, which he knows about all these objects, is as real knowledge, as if he knew every thing about them. Now, it is easy to see what we are to understand by Christians having the true knowledge of God. We are to understand nothing more, nor less by it, than their knowing some things which are true concerning God; though they cannot comprehend the ground of his self-existence, nor the ground of his natural and moral perfections, nor the ground of his existing a Trinity in Unity. I now proceed to show,

II. How Christians gain this true, 'though partial knowledge of God. Here then I would observe,

1. That they gain some true knowledge of God, by the light of nature. The apostle points out this as one source of the true knowledge of God. He represents the heathens, as deriving some true knowledge of God from the works of creation. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, eren his eternal power and Godhead ; so that they are without excuse." David also represents the light of nature as teaching the true knowledge of God. Ile says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech, nor language where their voice is not known." All Christians derive some true krowledge of the being and perfections of God, from the works of creation; which exhibit clear and incontestable evidence of his existence, of his omnipotence, of his omniscience, of his omnipresence and of his pure and universal goodness. Christians cannot seriously and attentively contemplate upon themselves and the objects around them, without gaining some true knowledge of the being and perfections of their Creator. Nor can they seriously and attentively contemplate the works of providence, without gaining more true knowledge of the Creator, Preserver and Benefactor of the world. God displays himself more clearly by his works of providence, than by his works of creation. It must be allowed, however, that there are many important things concerning God, of which Christians cannot gain the knowledge, by the works of creation and providence, or what is called the light of nature. And this leads me to observe,

2. That Christians gain their knowledge of God, principally, from divine revelation, which is contained in the sacred scriptures. These were given by divine inspiration and teach the deep things of God, which cannot be discovered by the light of nature.--

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