Joseph Stennett.

The Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) online

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by renewing them in knowledge after his own
image "^ ; and by creating thejn in right eoti/hefs
and true holinefs "" ; who are therefore cali'd
his workmanfJdip, created in Chriji Jefus to
good works y, &c.

And it is worth remarking, that this word
creator in our text, is of the plural number
in the original, thy creators % as if defign'd
to exprefs the great obligations men are un-
der to each perfon of the bleffed Trinity, for
making, redeeming, and fandifying them ;
the former of which is eminently afcribed to
the Father, the fecond to the Son, and the
laft to the Holy Spirit, tho all concur in each
of thofe mighty works ; and to fignify that
all thefe works may be fitly exprefs'd by this
common name of creation.

(4.) As God is our creator, he is the fo-
vereign arbiter, and difpofcr of our being.
He is the fupreme judge of the world, infli(:it-
ing puniiliments, and difpenfing favours, as
he pleafes. He that has made us, -and pre-
ferves us, , has power to render us happy or
miferable : he has the iifues of life and death
in his hand. He that hath created us, knows
all the capacity we have of joy or forrow,
pleafure or pain ; and has pov/er to affed; us
with either of them, as he pleafes. He can
make his arrows of terror Jiick faji in the
confcience ' j or fill the foul with unlpeakable

*' Col. J. 10.
^ Eph. 4. 24.
I Eph. 2. 10.

*■ Txnn So ifa. 54. 5.

^ Pfal. 28.2.


2 2 The reafonablenejs and advantages

joy. He can punifh or cheer the mind with
his inrimediate frowns or fmiles ; or he can
convey anguifh or joy into the foul, by the
occafion of different impreffions on the taber-
nacle of flefh and blood wherein (he dwells :
he can difpenfe punifhments or pleafures by
his own hand immediately, or mediately by
any of his creatures. And when he giveth
quietnefs, who then can make trouble'^ afid
when he hi deth his face J who then can behold
him P whether it be done againji a Jiation or
againft a man only^. 'Tis the Lord, as Hannah
fpeaks, that killeth and maketh alive : he
bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
^he Lord maketh poor and maketh rich^ he
bringeth low and lifteth up". Which this
holy prophetefs proves by this argument;
For the pillars of the earth are the Lords^ and
he hath fet the world upon them : where his
fovereign power over men to difpofe of their
ftate as he pleafes, is infer'd from his relation
to them as their creator. And when the
angel in the revelation protefts there fiould be
time no longer j he fwears by him that created
heaven and earthy and fea^ and the tlmigs
therein ^ ; to fhew that God, as creator of
the world, is the fovereign arbiter of it, and
that the confummation of time, and of tem-
poral things, belongs to him under that cha-
racter. So that it is our maker, that both
fhews the path of life % and holds in his hand

b Job 54-19. I ** Rev. 10. 6.

^ I Sam. 2,-6, 7. 8, | ' P^al- l6. ii.


Serm. L of an early converfioiu 33

the keys of hell and death ^. And as he made
all things ; fo he does whatfoever he pleajcs in
heaven^ and in earthy in the fea^ and all deep
places ^. And, who can deliver out of his
hand ^f feeing he doth according to his will in
the army of heaven^ and among the inhabi-
tants of the earth % and none can fay his hand^
or fay unto him^ what doji thou * ?*

Thus have we endeavoured to {hew what
is comprehended in God's title of creator ; on
which we have taken the greater liberty to
expatiate, becaufe hereby a folid foundation
■is laid for fome of thofe reafons, on which
we are hereafter to inlift to inforce the duty
in our text ; in the diviiion of which we have
obferv'd, that in the terms of the duty, Re-
member thy creator^ the reafons of that duty
are in part infinuated.

Having given fome account of the object
of this duty, viz. God, under the title of
our creator j we fhall now,

Secondly^ briefly explain the adl it felf of
remembring him, and fhew what that im-

The memory is that faculty of the foul
whereby fhe is capable of recalling the ideas
of things, which have before been preferit
to her.

But here, to remember not only figniiies the
exercifmgof the underflanding on our crea-
tor, by refledting on what our fenfes, reafon,

f Rev. 1.18. J M Job 10.7.

E Pfal. 135.^. I i Dan. 4. 35.

Vol. L D and

34 The reafonablenefs and advantages

and divine revelation may have fuggefted to
our minds, concerning God under that cha-
racter : it does not here barely import, to
meditate on him ^, and bear him /« mind ',
but, becaufe the underjftanding diredls the
will and affedlions^ and men move and act
very much according to their conceptions of
things, their deiires following the conduct of
their thoughts j this term is applied both to
the one, and to the other. Sometimes it
fignifies to efteem and refpedt, as Pfal. 20. 3.
'The Lord — remember all thy offerings^ and ac-
cept thy burnt facrijice. Sometimes to truji^
as Pfal. 20.7. Some triijl iij, horj'es^ and fome
in Chariots ; but we will remember the name
of the Lord our God. Sometimes to worfhip
and praife, as i Chron. 16. 12. where, after
David had exhorted to fing to God, to glory
in him, and feek him, becaufe of his mighty
works, he adds to the fame purpofe, Retnem-
ber the marvellous works that he hath done, &c.
q. d. Adore and praife him for them.

And this may be farther illuftrated by the
ufe of the oppofite term of forgettiyig^ which
fome'.imes fignifies to difefteem and flight, as
Jer. 2. 32. Can a maid forget her or jiaments^
or a bride her attire f yet my people have for-
gotten me days without number. Sometimes
to dlftruft, as Pfal. 78. 7. That they ?night
fet their hope in God, and not forget the works
of God: and fometimes to ?iegle£l to praife

k Pfal. (f^. 6. 1 ' Luke 17.32.-


Serm. L of ait early convcrjion* 3 5

and worfiip God, as Pfal. 106. 12, 13. They
fang his praife : they foon forgot his works, they
waited not for his counfel. Or to forfike the
fernjice of God, as Deut. 6. 12. Beware lefi
thou forget the Lord, that is, by going after
other Gods, as it is explain'd in ver. 14.

So that, to remember God does not only
import, to think or meditate often on him,
but to think worthily and becomingly of
him 5 and to pay him a refpedt in fome mea-
fure fuitable to the idea we have of him. To
remember his glorious perfedions fo, as to
efteem and refped him ; deliberately to call
to mind the number and quality of his fa-
vours, and to recoiled:, how fit an objed of
truft, and praife, and of all vi^orfhip, he is %
fo as to engage our fouls to confide in him,
to offer him the facrifice of praife, and all
the adoration and fervice that we are capable
of rendering. In a word, to remember our
creator is to remember his omnifcience,
power and juftice, fo as to reverence and fear
him J to remember his goodnefs, mercy and
veracity, fo as to love and praife him j and
to remember his holinefs and purity, fo as to
imitate and obey him : 'tis fo attentively and
feriouily to meditate on his nature and on
his works, that while we are inufng the fire
may burn"^, as the pfalmift fpeaks, that our
thoughts may kindle a holy flame of love in
our hearts towards him, which will break
out in becoming ads oT fervice, and obedi-

■^ Pfal. 39. 5.

D 2 ence

3 6 The rcafcuablenefs and ad'vantagcs

ence to his glory. 'Tis to ferve him both
witli our underftanding, will and afFe(3:ions,
to devote our felves entirely to him.

And as our whole man is to be dedicated to
tlie lervice of our creator ; fo he alfo deferves
the whole of our time : and we ought to
begin as early as pofiible to remember him :
for this our text fliews,

II. In prefcribing the fpecial time for en-
gaging in this duty j which now falls under
our conlideration.

1. 'Tis prefcrib'd in exprefs terms, in the
days of thy youth.

2. By an oppolite circumlocution, con-
taining a deicription of old age. While the
evil days come not^ nor the years draw nigh,
ni'hen thou Jl: alt fay J I have no pie a jure in them,
that is, before the approach of old age.

As is evident, both in that thefe evil days,
&c. are oppofed to the days of youth ; and in
that many elegant charaders are ufed to de-
cipher the infirmities and miferies of old age,
in the fequel of this chapter, immediately
after the text.

And in this defcription of old age, we

(i.) The time it felf expreffed by days and

(2.) The charadter of that time of life,
thofe dass are evil, and thofe years fuch as,
we fhall confefs that, ive have no pleafure in

(i.) For

Serm. I. of an early converjion. 3-7

(i.) For the time it felf, it may be call'd
days and years.

[i.] Either emphatically to fignify one and
the fame thing ; it being an ufual elegancy
in the Hebrew dialed:, to exprefs the fame
thing in various fynonymous terms in two
fentences, one of which immediately fiicceeds
the other, which ferve partly for illuftration,
and partly to inculcate truth in the mind :
of which we have inftances in almoft -every
verfe of the 51ft pfalm, as well as in many
other places of fcripture, as it is eafy to ob-
ferve. Or elfe,

[2.] By days to fignify the brevity and great
uncertainty of the continuance of that time j
which is fooii fwallowed up by death, as the
fleeting days of youth are foon loft in old
age J and by years the tedious pafting of this
(hort time, by reafon of the many affli(5tlons
and infirmities a man then labours under :
tho the time is very fhort in it felf, it is made
very long by mifery and pain, which feem
greatly to extend it. For as the foul, when
iill'd with pleafure and joy, during her eafy
pofture, forgets the time, as it were, and
fufFers it to Aide from her with little notice j
which makes it appear extremely ihort :" fo
when ihe is fiU'd with fentiments of pain
and forrow, her uneafy fituation, and im-
. patient defire of change, do {^ conftantly ap-
ply her thoughts to the confideration of that
time, which is the continuance of her mifery,
that it feems very long and irkfom to her :
D 3 • fo

38 The reajbnablenefs and advantages

fo that the duration of her forrow feems al-
ways to increafe in proportion to the degree
of it ; and a man imagines himfelf to have
been much longer under an i^.cute than under
a flight pain, when in reality the time of
their continuance is equal. Thus every mo-
ment of time becomes an heavy burden to
one in mifery, who, as Mofes fays the Ifrae-
lites fhould do, when under puniihment for
their fins, cries out, in the morning, would to
God it ivere evenijig ! and in the evening, ■
would to God it were morning " / — And it is
well known that this is the language of old
age. And therefore,

(2.) 'Tis exprefs'd by the character of evil
days, and years wherein no pleafure is to be
had ; which may be thus explain'd.

[i.] By evil days maybe underftood the
decays and difeafes of old age ° : and by the
years wherein there is no pleafure, may be
fignified the unhappinefs and mifery that
thofe diftempcrs and infirmities give the
mind, thefe being a great occafion of her
forrow, which is then efpecially aggravated,
when the guilt of tlie foul confpires with the
difi:empers of the body, to make the man
completely miferable ; fo that he fliall fay^
that is, he fhall confefs or complain, that he
has no pleafure in thofe evil days, that he has
no fanduary of eafe to fly to, no reflecflion
to make that can allay the trouble of his

"Deut. 18.67. j .^tas mala, Plaut.' .

- mind,

Serm. I. of an early converjion. 39

mind, no medicine to ufe that can remove
the diftempers of his body. For this is often
the condition of thofe, who forgetting the
Lord their maker p in their youth, grow old
in the fervice of fin. Or,

[2.] By evil daysy which is a pofitive cha-
rader, the time of old age may be repre-
fented, as attended with many pofitive afflic-
tions and pains ; and by the privation of
pleafure at that time, which is a neg^itive
chara6ter, may be fignified the incapacity of
relifhing the joys and pleafures of this life,
that accompanies thofe unpleafant years,
wherein the organs of fenfe are very much
enfeebled, efpecially when old age has been
haften'd by the intemperance of youth.

And now fmce it appears that God as our
creator, in the comprehenfive fenfe wherein
we have explain'd that title, requires us to
remember him, fo as to devote our felves to
his fear and fervice, and that in the time of
our youth, before old age, with its many
affli(5tions and forrows, overtakes us ; if one
makes but a tranfient refledion on thefe
things, 'tis eafy to obferve that the wife man
in this exhortation intimates,

III. The reafons of the duty enjoin'd :
• I. In reprefenting God, the objed: of it,
to. us, under the auguft character of our crea-
tor ; which evidently^ entitles hirn to the fer-
vice of our youth. And,
p Ka, 51. 13.

D 4 2. In

40 The reafonahlenefs and advantages

2. In fetting old age before us, as a fcene
of mifery and horror j as a time made up of
few and e^-cil days '^. And in oppofing them
to the better days of youth j thereby to in-
sinuate, that as old age brings with it many
great difadvantages and impediments to ob-
ftriid: our converfion to God ; fo youth is
attended with many favourable circumftan-
ces, that render it the heft and fitteft feafon
to initiate one's felf in the ways of righteouf-

The ftrength of thefe reafons I fliall con-
fider at large hereafter : and fhall content my
felf at prefent with making fome few brief

(i.) On the terms ufed to prefcribe the
fpecial time of the duty enjoin'd in the text.

(2.) On the terms, whereby both the ob-
je(ft and ad: of this duty are exprefs'd : to
fliew how fitly they are adapted to the ftate
and circumftances of thofe that are young,
who are the perfons to whom this exhorta-
tion is addrefs'd ;

With which I fhall conclude this difcourfe.

(i.) From the terms ufed to fhew the
time of remembering our creator, it may be
obferv'd ;

[i.] That this double timing of the duty,
firfl: by exprefly prefcribing it in youth, and
then before old age, with its mileries, comes
on, gives the words a certain force and
energy, proper to inculcate fo important

1 Gen. 47, 9.

A an

Serm. I. of an early converjion. 41

an admonition : this is to give precept upon
precept^ and line upon line\ as the prophet
Ifaiah fpeaks ; which he commends as the
proper courfe to inflrud: the young, or, to
ufe his own words, to teach them knowledge^
and to make them under jland do5tri?ie, who are
weaned from the milk^ and drawn from the
breafts ^ ; to gain the attention of giddy and
unthinking youth, many of whom, tho God
condefcends to fpeak once^ yea twice \ as he
does here, are yet fo dull of hearing, as not
to perceive the reafonablenefs of their duty,
or at leafl not fufficiently to confider it, and
the danger to which the neglediof it expofes
them. And,

[2.] We may further obferve, that this
obligation of remembering our creator, ex-
tends it felf equally with the capacity we
have of confidering God, as our maker ; and
increafes in proportion to the knowledge we
may obtain of him. So that none are in-
tirely exempt from it, who are capable of
exercifing their thoughts on God : and there-
fore thofe may not pretend to be difpens'd
with, who have not arriv'd to the full matu-
rity of youth, if they are in any degree capa-
ble of knowing their creator. As far as they
are able to take notice of his nature, and of
his. will, fo far are they oblig'd to worihip
and obey-him.

» Ifa. 28. ver. lo, 13; T « Job 33. 14.

f Ver. 9, I'


42 The rcajonablenefs and advantages

And this is farther cleared by the oppo-
licion the wife man feems to make, betwixt
the duty in our text, and the "canity of child-
hood and youth ^ mentioned juft before : fo that
if we take vanity here in a moral fenfe, the
exhortation extends it felf to perfons that fall
under either of thofe denominations, that are
either in the ftate of childhood or youth.
And if by vanity^ natural frailty and morta-
lity be intended, the words are not lefs ex-
tenfive : for then the frailty of childhood and
youth, is ufed as a confideration to prepare
the way for this admonition ; and children
as well as young men, are therefore excited
to give themfelves to the fervice of their
creator, becaufe neither are exempt from the
danger of ficknefs and of death.

And this may be farther colledled from
the charge given to youth in the text, to
remember their creator, not only before the
evil days of old" age are come ; but before
thofe years draw nigh, while old age is yet at
a diflance : which Ihews that none who are
capable of reflecting on their relation to God as
creator, may excufe themfelves as too young
to be concerned in his fervice. For as his
being our creator, is the foundation of this
duty of remembering him : fo it is evident
that our obligation to it is to be meafured by
the capacity we have of knowing him as
fuch. Therefore he may well require that
the tender buds of childhood, as well as the
maturer bloflbms of youth, be confecrated


Serm. I. of an early converjion. 43

to him j who fometimts perfeBs his praife
out of the mouths of fuch, who in compari-
fon of thofe of riper years, are but babes a?id
fucklings * ; and therefore by the pfalmilt,
calls upon young men and 7naidens, and chil-
dren, as well as old men ", to praife and wor-
fhip him.

(2.) That the terms of remembering their
creator are wifely adapted to the flate of
youth, to engage them early in the fervice of
God, will appear by the following remarks
on each of thofe terms.

(i.) God under the title oi creator, is fitly
recommended to the young, as the objed: of
their worfhip and obedience.

I.) Becaufe it is a term that eafily excites
in the mind a ftrong and clear idea of God's
infinite power, wifdom and goodnefs. And
the wife man having to do with youth,
whofe unexperience for want of years, and
whofe unattention for want of a habit of
fteady thinking, renders them lefs capable of
arriving at the knowledge of the deep things
of God^'y than thofe who to the advantage
of a long obfervation of things have added
that of addidiing themfelves to frequent
thoughtful nefs and meditation ; he makes
ufe of that title of God, which might moll
familiarly fuggefl a proper notion of him to
their minils. He expofes to them the alpha-
bet of the creation, out of which ,even chil-

» Pfal.S.z. j^ iCor. 2. 10.
" Pfa!. 148. \z, 13. I


44 ^/^^ renfonablencfs and advantages

dren may eafily learn to fpell the being of a
Deity. The ignorant and the young, even
thofe that run, as the prophet fpeaks ''', the
heedlefs and unattentive, may read the cha-
racters of the divine attributes, which are
plainly engraven on the pillars even of this
material world : and, as the apoftle obferves,
may clea?'ly difcern the eternal poiver and God-
head of the creator^, who is invifible, by the
curious fabric of this vifible creation ; io
as to render them altogether inexcufable, if
they negle6l to glorify God according to thofe
fenfible notices of him, which they may fo
eaiily and conftantly receivp.

For as the fight of a magnificent palace,
induces us to confider the skill and ability of
the architedl that built it : fo when we take
a ferious profpecft of the ftru6b.ire and frame
of the world, or of any part of it, it fa-
miliarly raifes our thoughts to its great au-
thor and caufe : for as every houfe is built by
Jbyne ?nan ^ ; fo it is natural to conclude, with
the apoftle, that he that built all thifigs is God.
And therefore,

2.) This of creator is a title which God
is ufually pleas'd to afTume in fcripture, to
diftinguifli himfelf, as the true and living
God:, from the idols of the heathen j and to
convince their ie^norant votaries, that he is
the only proper' objed: of religious worfhip.
^he Lord is the true God y faith the prophet

^ Hab. 2. 2. y Heb. J. 4. .

^ Rom. 1. 10, ii. I

Jeremiah 5

Serm. I. of an early converjton, 45

|eremiah ; he is the living God, and an ever-
lafting King ^.-^^The Gods that have not made
the heavens and the earthy even they jhall
per ijh from the earth, and from under thefe hea-
vens ^. Then fpeaking again of the true God,
he fays, He hath made the earth by his power 'y
he hath ejlablif?ed the world by his wifdom^
and hathjiretched out the heavens by his dif
cretion ^. And then, having fpoken of the
vanity of idols, he adds ; The portion of Ja-
cob is not like them, for he is the former of all
things ". And the prophet Ifaiah introduces
the God of Ifraei, proving himfelf to be the
true God, under the fame charadler : I have
made the earth, and created man upon it ; 7,
even my hands have f retched out the heavens,
and all their hof have I cotnmanded'^. And,
a little after, the prophet infults over the
makers of idols ^ j and then adds, Thus faith
the Lord, that created the heavens, God him-
felf, that formed the earth and made it, he
hath eftablifed it ; he created it not in vain,
he formed it to be inhabited ; / am the Lordy
and there is none elfe *".

AH which ferves to (hew how properly
this title of creator is ufed in our text, to
direft the minds of youth to the true objed:
of love and adoration ; who are ready to
make as many Gods, as there are pleafmg ob-

^ Jer. 10. 10. J iJ Ifa. 45. iz.,

* Ver. II. I e Ver. i^, 17.

b Ver.iz. 'I *■ Ver. i«.

« Ver. 14, 15, 16. I


4^ The rea/bnablenefi and advantages

jed:s in the world ; and to facrifice them-
felves, and all they have to thole inchanting
idols, that ftrike their fenfes with any agreea-
ble impreflion. And,

3.) This is a relative title, denoting the
natural relation God bears to the world ; for
the terms creator and creature mutually fup-
pofe one another : and not only his relation
to the world in general ; but to mankind, nay
to every individual human creature in parti-
cular, in the word thy creator^ is propos'd as
the ground of that fervice every one that
comes into the world is oblig'd to pay to the
almighty, whofe title of creator includes our
entire dependance on him. So that the wife
man prudently makes choice of a term, ex-
preffing every man's relation to God as his
creature j becaufe it is the firft and moft evi-
dent principle, on which to found our duty
of obedience to him, and moft apt to afFefi
the foul. For, as when I think on God as
creator of the world in general, it raifes in my
mind a great idea of his majcfty and fove-
reignty : fo when I conlider him as jny creator^
that relative chara(fter gives an endearing
force to the reafonable obligation I find my
felf under to ferve and worfliip him ; becaufe
I then look upon him not only as the Ircing
Gody but alfo as the god of my life ^.

We may alfo obferve,

[2.] The propriety of the term remember,
to exprefs the refped and fervice thofe that
are young owe to their maker.

? Pfal. 42.8.

. , i.)r.

Serm. I. of an early converjion. 4-7

I.) To remember, &c. fignifying the exer-
cife of the thoughts on God, is fitly \]rg'd
on the young 3 becaufe as the mofl early im-
prefTions are the mofl deep and lafting, fo a
habit of holy meditation is foonefl acquir'd
in youth, when the mind is mofh at leifure,
and not embarafs'd with that multitude of
thoughts and projecSts about the affairs of the
world, with which riper years are ufually
incumber'd. What fitter term could be
chofen, by which to urge the duty of young
perfons to their maker, than that of remem-
bering him ? feeing the memory is a faculty
in which young people commonly excel, and
often glory; a faculty that grows ripe be-
times, and eafily retains that tindure, with
which it is early and thorowly imbued. 'Tis
as if Solomon had faid ; you that are young,
ought to feafon your memories with the beft
impreflions betimes, when they are moll ca-
pable both of receiving and retaining them -,
and to fill your minds with the thoughts of
God, and of the fervice you owe him, before
they are crouded with the concerns and bufi-
nefs of a perplexing world.

2.) A caution feems to be wifely infinu-
ated in this term againfl forgetting the wor-
fhip and fervice of God, of which heedlefs
youth, too much devoted to fenfual pleafure,
.is pften guilty; for tho the young have the
moil capacious memories, yet they are very
prone to forget their, duty to their maker.
And how aptly foever they remember other
2 things,

48 The reafonablenefs and advantages^ 8cc.

things, they often live as if God were not in
any of their thoughts ^ : for they commonly

Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 28)