Joseph Reeve.

Practical discourses in two volumes : the first, upon the perfections and wonderful works of God ; the second, upon the divinity and wonderful works of Jesus Christ (Volume 1 and 2) online

. (page 1 of 31)
Online LibraryJoseph ReevePractical discourses in two volumes : the first, upon the perfections and wonderful works of God ; the second, upon the divinity and wonderful works of Jesus Christ (Volume 1 and 2) → online text (page 1 of 31)
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PRACTICAL

DISCOURSES

IN TWO VOLUMES,

THE FIRST,

UPON THE PERFECTIONS AND

Wonderful Works of God :

THE SECOND,
UPON THE DIVINITY AND

Wonderful Works of Jefus Chrift.



BY THE REV. JOSEPH REEVE»



VOL. I.



PRINTED BY P. BYRNE, io8, GRAFTON-STREET.
1796.



PREFACE.



Q^iJ E imprrfcdl knowledge men have of the
God, who made them, is one great reafo?i,
why they take fo little fains toferve him. Be-
ing de [lined by the very end of their creation to
ferve him in this life and to be happy with him
in the ?ie>:t, it Jldould be natural for them, one
would think, to inquire into the nature of that
happinefs, and to learn by what means they may
fnake that happinefs their own. To a Chrifian.
therefore no knowledge can be fo ifeful or fo in-
tcrefting as that of God. For to know God is
the frfl. fep he has to take towards the happi-
7iefs he hopes for. From that knowledge he niuft
draw every ejjicacious motive offerving God with
fddity and truth to the end of life.

Tct fo f range is the perverfenefs of human
nature, that ?no/l Chriftians in the world fcem
as unconcerned about a?iy future fate cf happi-
nefs, as thoU'^h they had little ifitereji in it. They
appear to know as little of God, as though thev
did not believe in hiuu and live as inattentive to

his



11



PREFACE.



his ferijice, as though his puniJJmimts or his rc-^
wards ^ his hatred or his lovcy were to them a
matter of no confequence . Notwithftanding their
boaji cf an enlightened age, they betray a fiame-
ful ignorance of the only knowledge , which dig-
nifies a Chriflian, and makes him truly wife in
the eyes of his Creator.

With the young and diffpated part of man-
kind drefs and amufement is the great bufinefs of
life : they read nothings they know nothing, they
will be informed of nothing, that opens their
minds to the eternal truths. By your fprightly
geniufes a book upon any ferious fiibjedl is 'affecled-
ly thrown afde, not to interrupt the fajhionable
trifes of the day. To the lovers in fine of loofe
romantic tales, the very title of a PraBical Dif-r
courfe is fiifficient to give difgiij}. Thus through
a fatal indifference for falvation, and a modifl:)
72egleSi of the divine fervice , religious duties are
fallen into ahjiofl general difufe. The induftrious-
farch after worldly diJJipatio?t infome, th^ pre-
vailing paffion for romance in others, a flupid
indolence in many, and a bufy idlenefs in mdfi,
allow no time for -profitable infiruBion, or for
ferioiis conji deration.

What purpofe therefore is a public at io7i of
Prailical Difcourfes upon the divine attributes

likely



P Pv E F A C E. ill

likely to arifweVi and who will read it ? They,
who ft and fjioji in need of inJlrii6lio7i upon ajub-
jeB of this fort ^ ?nofl probably will not concern
themfches much about it ; but others may. It
is humbly offered to them both. To the firfy
that they may have at hand the fupply of ufeful
knowledge, whenever they fall be difpofed to
profit by it : to the fecond, that they may have
the opportunity of improving themf elves in a fci-
ence, wherein they may have already made fome
progrefs. For if digjiity of argument, if no-
blenefs of thought, iffublimity offentiment, have
powers to affeB an attentive reader, he will here
find his expectation raifed, his heart dilated, his
iinderfl,anding opened, and his will inflamed.

When we ferioufly confder the wonderful cre^
ation of the world out of nothing, we magnify
the power that created it ; when we view the
regidar order and harmony of nature in all its
works, we adore the providence that governs
and direBs it ; when we fee repenting fmners
received into favour again ^ we blefs the 7?2ercy
that forgives ; and when we behold the impeni-
tent condemned, we revere the juflice that chaf
tfes. Thcfe are the great and fir iking operati-
ons, .which a God of iifnite perfeBion has
wrought among his creatures. They are niune-

rous



Iv PREFACE.

rotis and diJlinB^ as we fee : yet they indicate
no multiplicity of parts, and no difi^iB ion even
of per feB ions in the principle, 'which produces
them. For God is one unbounded, one indivifi-
hle, and one abfolute perfeBion ; the one fiipreme,
immutable, ijnmenfe, and eternal pri/tciple of all,
that is or that pofjibly can be. By fear chin g
into the liature of this all-perfeB Being, and by
confidering him relatively to the wonderful works
he has dif played, we begin to kficw, as far at
leaf as human imderfanding can know, what
God is ; how powerful, how wife, how good,
how provident, how merciful, how ff.

But to complete the knowledge, which every
Chrifian ought to have of God, it is necefary
720t only to contemplate his abfolute p erf eel ions,
that fubfifl in the unity of his divine ejfence, but
alfo to coifder the relative perfeBions, that ex-
i/I between the 'Three Divine Perfons, the Fa-
ther, the Son, and the Holy Ghofl. This know~
led^e therefore, which in 'the Chrifian difpen-^
fation has bee/2 fo explicitly revealed, and is fo
necejj'ary for falvation, comp7'ifes the Trinity as
well as the Wiity of God, This naturally leads
lis to the liiy fiery of the Incarnation. To believe
in God as is requifte for falvation, we muft not
only know what God is iii him j elf, but alfo what

kfe



PREFACE. V

he is beco?ne for the love of us. Frojn eternity
he is God '^ and in the fecond Perfon of the moji
bleffed Trinity he is fine e become man for our re-
demption. To elucidate this great truth of
Chrifianity , the author of the PraSlical Dif-
courfes upon the divine attributes, here offers to
the public a fecond volume , upon the Divinity
and wonderful Works of fefus Chrifi, The
works God has wrought for man in the order
of grace affeB not our outward fenfes, like thofe
he has wrought in the order of nature. But
upon examination they will appear to the true
and faithful believer infinitely more wonderful^
becaufe infinitely more elevated, above the reach
of his natural comprehenfion.



CONTENTS.



CONTENTS.



PAGE

Upon the Advantages of knowing the Per-7
feftions of God, - - - - 3

Upon the Eternity of God, - - - 14

Upon the Immutability of God, - - 3°

Upon the Immenfity of God, - - 49

Upon the Sandlity of God, - - - 66

Upon the Power of God, - - - 85

Upon the Knowledge and Wifdom of God, 106

Upon the Providence of God, - - 127

Upon the Goodnefs of God, - - 146

Upon the Mercy of God, - - - 166

Upon the Juftice of God, - - - 185

Upon the Infinity of God, - ' - - 205
Upon God, the fupreme Beatitude and End?

of Man, 3

Upon the Saints of God^ . - ^ 244



PRACTICAL



Ul i a i W^WWJJUtUUW i lMl..JWLJIJI I ULI l9' l lia^WBBWBWMa H i l l i l| i IWIIIIill l llMIIIII I IIIII MI ■ III I IIB

PR ACT IC AL

DISCOURSES

Upon the Perfections and

Wonderful Works of God.



DISCOURSE I.

•^PON THE ADVANTAGES OF KNOWp^G THE PERFECTION'S
OF GOD.

This is life everlafting, that they kno''^ Thee the
only true Gcd. John c. xvii. v. 3.

THE end of our creation being no other, than
to ferve God in tliis life, and to enjoy him
in the next, it is no lefs our intereft to know the
excellency of that fublime end, for which we are
made, than it it our duty to employ the means,
that advance us towards it. To an immortal foul
nothing is fo natural as the defirc, and nothing fo
pleafmg as the promife, added to the power, of be-
ing eternally happy. Being raifed by the bounte- •
ous hand of his Creator to a rank, little inferior to
Vol. I. B that



( 1 )

that of angels, man meets with nothing in the or-
der of nature here below, fo dignified as himfelf j
nothing, but what is meant by a wife providence to
help him on in the attainment of his laft end, the
full pofleflion of his God in everlafting glory.

To a Chriflian therefore, who knows his foul to
be immortal, who is confcious, that he bears within
him the living image and refemblance of God him-
felf, no confide ration and no ftudy can be fo inte-
refting as that, which leads him to the knowledge of
the perfedions of God. Thofe perfeftions are in-
finitely great in themfelves, and every way amiable
in relation to us : at prefent indeed we can only fee
them thro' a glafs according to the expreflion of
St. Paul,* in an obfcure manner, as the objed of our
faith ; but in the day of our exaltation we Ihall be-
hold them openly revealed, as the crown of our
hope and completion of our final happinefs. To
know, to refpeft, to fear, and to love God is the on-
ly great bufmefs we have to do in life : to that eve-
ry other bufmefs ought to be fubordinate. With-
out the knowledge and the love of God, no other
knowledge, however extenlive or fublime, can con-
tribute to our lafcing and fubltantial good.

Let the proud philofopher examine the whole
treation through in his fearch after knowledge, let"
}iim be fViiiied in every art and fcience, let him flu-
dy nature in all its v/orks, let him dive into the deep
jeceffes pf the fea^ and fift the bowels of the earth ;

let

'• J Cor. xiil.



( 3 )
let him trace the Ihining orbs and planets In their
vaft revolutions through the heavens, and number
the ftars of the firmament. But fhould he reft there
and lift up his mind to nothing higher, fomething
will be ftill wanting to dignify his knowledge, and
to make it profitable unto eternal Ufe. For tho' I
fhould be mafter of every fcience, fays St. Paul j*
the' I fhould be able to difclofe the moft hidden
fecrets, and with the certainty of a prophet foretel
future events, yet without charity I am nothing in
the fight of God. The humble peafant, whofe
only ftudy is to know, to ferve, and honour God
by a right intention in all he does, is in the order of
grace not only a better, but alfo a wifer man. The
invifible perfections of our great Creator are made
manifeft to us by the vifible beauties of the creation,
fays the fame Apoftle to the Romans,f and from
. viewing the diings that are made, we rife to the
knowledge of Him who made them, even fo as to
adore his eternal pov/er and divinity.

But amidft thefe evident marks of a God Infi-
nitely wife and powerful, what in general are the
occupations of men, and what is their ftudy ? To
what do their thoughts and proje(5ls tend ? Let us
look through the world, and we ftiall find the great-
eft part of mankind bufily engaged in almoft every
other employ, but that of ferving God. Strongly
attached to the goods of the earth, they toil after
vanity, and feldom extend their wifhes beyond the
animal gratification of their fenfes. Their ftudy,
B 2 their

* I Cor. viii. f C. xn.



( 4 )

tKcir folicitude and Ichemes are folely fixed dti
temporal advantages^ as if they had no heavenly
inheritance to acquire, or as if their hopes of a fu-
ture life were to perifh with them in the grave.
Many there are, who fancying, as it feems, that they
have nothing to do but to ftalk about the earth and
to follow their own conceits, trifle away their days
in one continued round of difTipation and Unprofi-
table amufements, while others hurry down the tor-
rent of reftlefs defires, and wafte themfelves in the
purfuit of fuch things only, as ferve to irritate their
growing pafllons.

Thiis the greater part of Chriflians live, regardlefs
t)f the obligations they owe to God, ignorant of his
perfeftions, and carelefs of the motives, that lliould
excite them to ferve him well. Tho' confecrated
to him in the facrament of Baptifm, and made there-
by the living temples of the Holy Ghoft, they
know fo little of his divine perfe6tionSj that the
infcription, which St. Paul found written upon an
altar at Athens, To the unknown God,* might
with as good reafon be alfo written upon their
foreheads. For, fince their thoughts are principal-
ly taken up with earthly delight, and the bent of
their inclinations is chiefly turned to fuch objefls
as are pleafing to flefh and blood, they fatally ne-
gle6t the moil profitable, the molb interefting,
and moft necefl!ary knowledge for a Chriftian,
which is the knowledge of God.

For

* Afts xvli. .»



( 5 )

For this is the knowledge, wliich opens our
minds to the truths of eternal life, and points out
our way to final happinefs. Hence the firft advan-
tage we derive from it, is to know the objedt and
motive of thofe eflential virtues, which God requires
from us i the object and motive of our faith, with-
out which it is impofilble to pleafe God ;§ the mo-
tive andobje



Online LibraryJoseph ReevePractical discourses in two volumes : the first, upon the perfections and wonderful works of God ; the second, upon the divinity and wonderful works of Jesus Christ (Volume 1 and 2) → online text (page 1 of 31)