Thomas Wilson.

The works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) online

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we may depend upon it, that we are within the covenant of
grace, [mentioned Heb. viii. 10.] by which God has engaged
to put His law in our minds, and write it in our hearts, to
give us a new heart, and a new spirit.

If the knowledge and belief of these things do not affect
our hearts and our lives, it is a sign our faith is not such as
it should be, and that our salvation is not much regarded by
us. A too sure sign of this is, when we see christians turn-
ing their backs upon that very ordinance, whenever it is
administered, which Jesus Christ Himself appointed on pur-
pose to keep up the remembrance of what He has done and
suffered for us ; that our own death, whenever it shall hap-
pen, may be a comfort to us, and when nothing in this world,
nothing but a firm faith in Jesus Christ, can support or com-
fort our dying spirit.

What we believe concerning the Holy Ghost, to whom,
with the Father and the Son, we are dedicated in baptism, is
this : That He is the cause of all that holiness in christians,
which must fit them for heaven and happiness. And that,
as we hope for these, we are every day of our lives to pray
for His gracious assistance. His guidance, and blessing. And
this we are to do in a more especial manner, that we may
continue true members of the Church of Christ ; as becomes
members of so holy a society ; that believing the forgiveness
of sins, we may never despair of mercy, having so powerful
an advocate as Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost to assist us
to perfect our repentance. That being by the same Holy
Spirit assured of a Resurrection, we may never forget, that
we shall come forth from the grave just as we go into it,
either objects of God's wrath or of His mercy.

How shall we know that we believe these truths as we
ought to do ; that our faith is such as will save us ? why, as
we know a tree, — by its fruits.

We profess to believe that our bodies are temples of the
Holy Ghost. No man of common sense will abuse, or pro-


fane, or defile a church, because he considers it to be a place
dedicated to the honour of God. Now, our bodies are more
the temples of God, than our churches; they are consecrated
to God, to His glory and service, in baptism. And if after
tliis we defile them, by uncleanness, by intemperance, or by
any other base or filthy use, the Holy Ghost will forsake
them, and we shall become the temples of Satan.

A christian, who lives by faith, will make a better use of
this temple of the Holy Ghost ; he will, in his heart, apply
to Him upon all occasions, and beg of Him to increase his
graces ; to shew him the way in which he should go ; to de-
fend him against his spiritual enemies ; to make him every
day more holy ; that he may be capable of being more happy
when he dies. He will beg this Holy Spirit to give him a
love for, and an understanding of, those Holy Scriptures,
which He Himself caused to be written for our comfort and
salvation. He will beg of Him to preserve him a true and
living member of that Holy Church, out of which, in the ordi-
nary way of providence, there is no salvation. He will give
Him hearty thanks that He has made him a member of that
holy society, where there is a communication of all good
things ; where we have a share of all the prayers and bless-
ings which God vouchsafes to His Church throughout the
whole world. And because he is sensible of his daily sins
and failings, he will pray for the forgiveness of his sins every
time he is sensible that he has done amiss. And knowing
assuredly, that the same Spirit, which raised up Jesus Christ
our Lord from the dead, will raise up our mortal bodies ; he
will most earnestly and often beg that good Spirit, that he
may lead such an holy life, as that he may die in peace, and
rest in hope, and rise in glory.

These are the truths which we profess to believe. That we
may not deceive ourselves, let us examine our faith by the
fruits it produceth in the ordinary duties of life.

Now, christians are represented in Scripture, as a people
w^ho by faith know God, and the duty they owe to Him, as
well as the duty they owe to themselves and others, which
are all very plainly set down in Scripture. It is impossible
to consider this, without some melancholy reflections, when
one sees too many as ignorant of these things, and as little


SERM. concerned to know them, as if nothing depended upon
'— them.

When one sees people praying for the pardon of their sins,
for grace to amend their lives, for deliverance from eternal
misery, and for the joys of heaven, with the indifference of
people who are not much concerned whether their prayers
are heard or not ; when one sees them as fond of the world
as if they were sure never to leave it ; or that God had no
better inheritance to give them hereafter. Such christians,
to be sure, do not live by faith, nor think that they are in the
way of ruin.

Every christian who lives by faith must be able to say, I
will not, by the grace of God, live in any known sin whatever;
I will not be careless or indifferent how I lead my life, how I
spend my time, how I spend my estate ; I will not dishonour
God, or my Christian profession, by an idle, useless life ; in
all my dealings with others, I will set this command of God
[Matt. 22. before my eyes. Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself; be-
cause I know and believe, that this is one of those two com-
mands on which my salvation depends. I will not, therefore,
want to be compelled to give every man his due, or not to
hurt my neighbour. I will (will every faithful christian say),
I will make conscience of doing the least wrong ; of using
any deceit or fraud ; or of taking advantage of the ignorance
or necessities of others. If I have done wrong to any man,
I will make him restitution ; and, as for such as are my ene-
mies, I will forgive, and give, and love, as becomes a disciple
of Jesus Christ.

As to the duty which I owe to myself, I will consider, that
the first and great duty is, to take care of my soul ; I will
therefore (saith a christian who lives by faith), I will take
especial care to mind those rules of the Gospel, which are ab-
solutely necessary to fit me for heaven. Such are, self-denial,
patience, humility, purity, and charity, how much soever they
are neglected by the generality of christians, as if they were
no longer Christian duties. And as I pray daily that God's
will may be done ; for myself, I will endeavour to resign my
will to the will of God in all the dispensations of His provi-
[Matt.5.8.] dence. And, forasmuch as the promise of seeing God is
made to the pure in heart, I will endeavour to keep my heart


from every thing that may defile my soul, and grieve that
Holy Spirit by which I have been sealed unto the day of re-
demption. Lastly (will every faithful christian say), I will
keep a watch over myself, that I may not resist or forget
those good purposes which the good Spirit of God puts into
my heart.

Such a faith, and such a life as this it is, christians, that must
recommend us to the favour of God ; and to be easy in our
minds upon any other terms, is to be in the way of perdition
without knowing it. These things we must do, or give up
our hope of heaven. For, as sure as God is true, and His
word certain, none must go to heaven but the good, the de-
vout, the piously-disposed, the obedient, the sober, the chaste,
\\\ejust, the honest, the religious christian.

Let us not then, my Christian brethren, let us not content
ourselves with the bare name of christians, and with shadows
of religion and piety, without striving after that holiness
without which no man must see the Lord.

You see plainly, that to be a christian, and a true christian,
are two very different things. A true christian, knowing
that the want of a lively faith is the occasion of all the
wickedness we meet with in the world, therefore begs this
grace of God with all the earnestness of his soul ; he studies,
he attends to, the truths of the Gospel, as that which must
make him wise unto salvation; he resolves, that what he
learns there he will believe, let what will be said against it ;
that what it requires, he will observe and follow, and avoid
what it forbids; never consulting the way of the world, its
customs, its favours, or its frowns. By doing which, he
secures the favour of God, His grace here, and happiness

On the other hand, they that live at all adventures, in a
general forgetfulness of God, of their duty, and religion,
without feeling anything of its power ; such people, under
the name of christians, are in truth unbelievers; and as
such will be rejected of God, and will be reserved for a
punishment dreadful to be named, however little they con-
sider and think of it.

In short ; God has given us a law by which He will judge
us. By faith we receive this law ; and by this we are to


SERM. iudsre what our condition is like to be hereafter, whether


'— happy or miserable.

That we may make this judgment impartially, let us con-
sider what our thoughts will probably be, when we come to
die. Whether, for instance, we shall not be under a most
terrible astonishment, when, reflecting upon our faith, and
comparing it with our past life, it shall appear that we have
lived in a plain neglect of what we profess to believe, and
what we knew to be our duty. Or whether, upon comparing
our life and our faith, we shall have the comfort of having
lived by faith, repented of our errors, made our peace with
God, and lived to bring forth fruits answerable to amend-
ment of life.

One of these two will be the case of myself, and of all you
that hear me; how soon we know not; but it highly cou-
[John 9. 4.] corns us to think of it, lest the night come when no man can
work, before we have finished the work we have to do.

My design, you see, christians, has been to put you upon
considering and examining into the truth of your faith, and
the state of your souls. By the short hints which, for the
sake of your memory, I am going to give you, you will see
who is, and who is not in the way of life and salvation.

All such as fear God, and are afraid for themselves, on ac-
count of the corruption of their nature; such as are truly
sorry for having ofl'ended so gracious a God and Father, and
resolve to do so no more ; such as receive Jesus Christ as their
Lawgiver, Saviour, and Judge ; such as strive to be holy in
their lives, as God who hath called them is holy ; such as do
watch, and purpose in their hearts to do nothing knowingly
which may displease God ; these have the principles of grace
and life in them, and are in the way of life everlasting.

While such as are wilfully ignorant of God and of the
principles and duties of Christianity ; such as are not sensible
of the corruption of their nature, and the danger they are in
on that account ; such as see not, nor are sensible of the
blessing of a Redeemer ; such as are best pleased with such
company and pleasures as divert the thoughts of what must
come hereafter ; such as live under the means of grace, with-
out being bettered by them, whose hearts are set upon the
world and its idols : all these are in the way of certain ruin.


thougli they will not think of it, though they will not be-
lieve it.

From all which it appears, how christians are to judge of
the truth and sincerity of their faith, even by the manner of
their lives.

If a man fears God, he will be afraid to do any thing which
he believes God has forbidden him ; if he loves God, he will
desire to please God ; if he believes God to be the fountain
and giver of all good, he will pray to Him for all the good he
wants and desires ; if he believes that God ordereth all things
with infinite wisdom and goodness, he will be pleased with all
God's choices for himself and others.

Let no man, therefore, flatter himself that he is a christian,
who does not do the things which Christ has commanded, and
who will not learn from the example, from the meekness,
humility, patience, and self-denial of Jesus Christ ; he who
will not be persuaded that this is the only way to be restored
to the favour of God, can neither be happy in this world nor
in the world to come.

To conclude all that I have to say upon this subject : — As
christians, we have the greatest obligations upon us to lead
verj'- serious, very holy lives. We are blessed with the true
knowledge of God; we have His own Son for our Master,
and Teacher, and Protector, and Saviour, and Mediator, and
Advocate ; we are received into His family by baptism ; we
have the Holy Ghost to assist us, and an interest in all the
prayers made in His Holy Church throughout the world ; we
know and believe that we shall rise again (if we have passed
this life of trial as we know we ought to do) ; — we shall rise
to enjoy a life of happiness unspeakable and everlasting.

What can our hearts wish for, what can we desire more ?
Yes, O Jesus, this one thing we desire and beg, that we may
all have the grace which Thou alone canst obtain for us, that
we may have grace, to lay the things which we believe most
seriously to heart, and that our lives may be answerable to
our faith.

Grant this, O Lord, for Thy mercy's sake, and for the sake
of Thy poor creatures, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
most precious blood; that we may give to Thee, with the
Father and the Holy Ghost, glory, and honour, and praise,
and thanksgiving, for ever and ever. Amen.



Rev. iv. 10, 11.

See Ps. 19. The four ami twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the
' ' ' throne, (that is, before God,) and worship Him that liveth for

ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art
worthy, Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power ; for
Thou hast created all things, and for Thy ^deasure they are, and
were created.

Here is, good christians, an heavenly pattern set before
you: here is the manner how the blessed inhabitants of
heaven behave themselves in the presence of God. They
fall down before Him with all humility, even they that wear
crowns ; and, in token of the great difference there is be-
twixt God and the greatest of His creatures, " they cast
their crowns before His throne ;" acknowledging that he
only is worthy to receive glory, and honour, and poiver ; for
it is He who has made all things, and it is by His will and
pleasure alone that they continue in being. From all which
we are to learn two things especially :

First ; That whenever we come into God's house, which is
His presence, we are [after this heavenly pattern) to express
our reverence for God after the most becoming manner.

Secondly; That we should take notice of, and consider,
the wisdom, and greatness, and goodness of God in the works
of the creation ; and then we shall be convinced, that He is
worthy of all the duty and reverence that we can possibly
pay Him.

I. The first thing we are to learn from these words is this,
that whenever we come into God's house (which is His presence),


we are to express our reverence for God after the most becoming

And first; "Thougli God" (as the Apostle saitli) " dwell- Acts 7. 48.
eth not in temples made with hands ;" though the eyes of
the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good ;
though a man may be sure to be heard wherever he prays to
God in the sincerity of his heart ; yet there are some places
in which God is said to be present in an especial manner.
Thus, for instance, the Temple was called the house of God, [is. 56. 7;
a house of prayer ; that is, the place where men were to offer i3.] '
their prayers and thanksgivings. And, God is said to record
His name in all such places as are regularly dedicated to His
more immediate service ; and promises to meet His people Exod. 20.
there, and bless them; "Mine eyes and Mine heart" (saith J^jl^^^^g^g
God), " shall be there perpetually."

So that you see how foolishly people speak, when they say,
that they can pray as well at home as in the church ; that
they can read a sermon as well themselves as go to hear one.

But are they sure that God will hear the prayers that are
offered to Him in contempt of His holy ordinances? Are
they sure that God will give His blessing to what they read
at home, when they despise His house. His service, and His
ministers. And if the holy angels of God, which are our
guardians, are in the house of God attending upon the faithful
while they are at their devotions, in what a condition are all
such as are absent without reason ? Why, in truth, they are
very much exposed to the malice and attempts of the devil,
who is continually wandering about like a roaring lion, seek-
ing whom he may devour ; that is, whom he may be permitted
to devour, having no good angel to protect them.

In short; the church is the house of God, the gate of
heaven ; the place where God will hear His people's causes
and complaints ; the place where He dispenses His blessings
in greatest abundance ; the place where His ministers attend
to instruct the ignorant, to comfort the afflicted, to pray for
all. So that all who expect God's mercy and blessing ought
to go to God's house. But then, as they hope for His bless-
ing, they ought to behave themselves in His presence with respect
and reverence.

When we are to go before our betters, we very naturally




Malachi 1.
C, 8.

P.s. 50. 11,

consider how we may do it after a handsome manner, for fear
of provoking them to anger, instead of obtaining their favour.
If we are to ask their pardon, we do it with all marks of
humility ; if we ask them a favour, we do it with submission
to their good pleasure ; if we go to thank them for favours
received, we endeavour so to behave ourselves, as that it may
appear we are really sensible of the obligation laid upon us.
And this is what God expects from us, as well as our betters.
He expects, for instance, that creatures, which cannot subsist
one moment without their Creator's blessing, should not think
it too much trouble to ask His blessing; that sinners, who
are for ever undone without His pardon, should ask His
pardon with all humility; that people who live altogether
upon His favour, should own their dependence upon Him
after a sensible manner; that people who own His power,
should be afraid of Him ; that such as acknowledge His
wisdom, should shew that they do so ; and that such as par-
take of His goodness, should express their sense after the
most natural way ; that is, at least with as much concern as
men come before, speak to, behave themselves in the presence
of their betters.

I know very well, what foolish people are ready to say to
this. They say, for instance, that though men expect all
this from people below them, yet God does not ; that God
sees the heart, and if that be right, that is all which God
requires of us.

I will shew you that it is not, and that God expects an
outward as well as an inward worship; that God will be
offended with our indecent behaviour as well as our betters ;
and that He will judge us according to that sense we have
of our duty towards men above us. "A son (saith God)
honoureth his father, and a servant his master : If then I
be a father, where is Mine honour? and if I be a master,
where is My fear ? and if ye offer the blind or lame for sacri-
fice, is it not evil ? Offer it unto thy governor ; will he be
pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of

By this you see, that God is as jealous of His honour as
any prince on earth can be ; that He is concerned even for
the outward service, which men pay Him. And though all


the beasts of tlie field are His, and the cattle upon a thousand
hills, as the Psalmist speaks ; though the most perfect sacri-
fice is of no value in the sight of God, but as it is offered in
obedience to God^s commands, yet God would have a sacri-
fice as perfect as may be; and He will be offended if His
worshippers shall bring Him the lame or the blind.

Agreeable to this. He expects we should pray to Him for
what we want, and give Him thanks for the blessings He
every day bestows upon us. He sees with what affections
we do this, and will be offended with our insincerity; He
will also be offended with our irreverence, even as much as a
father or a master would in reason be with the disrespect of
a son, or the ill behaviour of a servant.

Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, was God's command to [Exod.3.5.]
Moses, when he was in God's presence, a way of expressing
the greatest respect. And this is so natural, that St. Paul
does suppose, that if an infidel should come into a congrega- 1 Cor. 14.
tion of believers, and should there be convinced that God is " '
in truth amongst them, he would immediately fall down and
worship God ; there being so strict a correspondence betwixt
the soul and body, that our hearts are no sooner affected with
any thing, but it presently appears in some outward signs of
fear, or joy, or reverence.

Nay, we may add farther, that an outward reverent beha-
viour is of use even to create an inward sense of God, and of
the duties we owe to Him. Thus the priests, in Joel, are chap. 2. 17.
directed to weep between the porch and the altar. At another
time, they are commanded to put sackcloth upon their loins,
and ashes upon their heads.

Now, neither tears, nor sackcloth, nor ashes, are well-
pleasing to God, any farther than they are either expressions
of sorrow, or means of creating it, when a sense of our sins
requires it, or when it is fit we should be made sensible of
our guilt and danger.

In short ; both our souls and bodies are God's, and we are
to worship Him with both ; and those that do not do so, do
offer the lame and the blind, which God has declared He

Since, therefore, it is so very criminal to behave ourselves
irreverently in the presence of God, and yet a fault that is


SERM. very common amongst christians; as I have proposed to you
^^^" - the pattern of the inhabitants of heaven, who worship God

in the most humble manner, so I do wish that with them
you would consider,

II. The wisdom, and greatness, and goodness, and majesty
of God, in whose house you are, and before whose presence
you appear ; and then you will be convinced, that He is
worthy of all the duty and reverence that His creatures are
capable of paying Him; for He created all things, and for
His pleasure they were created.

And, in truth, it is for want of consideration, that men
appear before God with the same indifference and want of
fear, as they would do before an idol, which neither sees, nor
can be angry at, the indevotion and ill behaviour of its wor-

Now, christians would not do so, if they would but open
their eyes, and see the wisdom and power of God in the
[Ps. 19. 1, works of the creation. " The heavens declare the glory of
God, (saith the Psalmist,) and the firmament sheweth His
handy- work. There is neither speech nor language Avhere
their voice is not heard." Or, as this is finely paraphrased
by an English poet^: —

All people do then- language understand ;
Nor was there ever savage nation known,
Who in them could not read God's hand ;
In their own tongue all read what's written there,
For Heaven alone's the universaz charactek.
But lest these things should seem to be above the reach of
ordinary capacities, let us consider the things that are about
us ; all which do manifest some of the attributes of God, and
excite us to glorify Him after a becoming manner.

And, in the first place, one would wonder, that of so many
sorts of creatures, not one of them, since the creation, is lost.
This shews the wonderful joromc^ewce of God, who has taken
care of the most contemptible creatures ; has provided them
with convenient food; has taught them where to seek for
shelter against all sorts of storms and enemies, how to de-
fend themselves when they are assaulted, and how to leave a
race behind them when they die.

a [Samuel Woudlorcl. Paraphrase upon the Psahiis oi'Duvul.^4to. Lond. 1067.]


Our blessed Lord assures us, that not a sparrow dies with-
out God^s knowledge and permission ; and would have us
learn from that instance of God's providence, to put our-

Online LibraryThomas WilsonThe works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) → online text (page 27 of 49)