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be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else, I have sworn by myself, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.' Here we see, the only Jehovah denies the being of any other Elohim, or gods, but himself; and, as a necessary consequence, bids all men look unto,' or 'be converted' to him, that they may be saved, solemnly swearing by himself, that every knee shall bow to, and every tongue swear by, him; that is, that all shall worship him alone, because he alone is God; and consequently there is none other, whom we may bow to, swear by, or adore. Hath God declared, there is no other God besides him? and shall man dare to say, there are other gods? Shall God, by an oath, confine all divine worship to himself, and man impiously take occasion from his own word to worship other gods along with him, on a pretence, that he hath ordered them to be honoured with the name and worship of God, when no such order can be found? If it could, God must have given contradictory orders, and left it undetermined which we should obey, than which a more blasphemous supposition can hardly be conceived. Our Saviour's words, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,' are sufficient, once for all, to determine the unity both of God, and our worship. Hence it appears, that the sophisticated arguments, founded on such expressions as these, 'There are gods many; worship him, all ye gods; I have said, ye are gods,' &c. have nothing in them of any consequence to the dispute about the unity of God. But farther still, to put this matter about the unity of God, both as God, and as the sole object of our worship, beyond all possibility of debate hereafter among the thinking and ingenuous part of the world, it must be observed, that the plural acceptation of the word Elohim, is the very thing that hath given a handle to the tritheists to insist on a plurality of gods. Let it be farther observed, that whatsoever this word may do to favour the belief of a personal distinction in God, it can never be rationally brought to prove there are more gods than one, or more objects of our worship than that one, since in the first commandment, where the unity of God, as God, and as the sole object of our worship, is fixed, both scientifically and practically fixed, by precise and negative terms, which must be taken uni
versally, and in their full unlimited sense, the word Elohim is that which stands for God, or the only Divine Being, or the only being to be worshipped. The true sense of the commandment therefore is this; 'Whatsoever other beings the nations round you may worship, or whatsoever beings the word Elohim may elsewhere in my word be applied to; Thou Israelite, shalt have, shalt serve, shalt worship, by prayer, sacrifice, love, fear, or dependence, no other Elohim, or gods, but me, or with me, or in my sight; for I am the God that appeared to Moses at the bush; I am the God that brought you out of the land of Egypt; I am the God of your father Abraham; I am the God that created all things out of nothing; I am the God, who, equally incapable of being deceived, and of deceiving, do assure you, that I am your Elohim, or God; and there is none else, no other Elohim, besides me, Deut. iv. 35; that I [Jehovah] am Elohim in heaven above, and in the earth beneath, and there is no other Elohim, or God, but me, Deut. iv. 39; that there is not any Elohim, or God, besides me; 2 Sam. vii. 22. Of this also I farther assure you, and all men, in all times and places; 1 Kings viii. 60. xviii. 39; 1 Chron. xvii. 20; Psal. lxxxvi; 10, 11. Isa. xlv. 5; and in many other passages of that word which I dictate by the mouths of my holy prophets.' Here the true, the only God so clearly tells us, there is no other God but him, and that we are to worship no other God but him, by the very word laid hold of to prove there are more gods, that it looks like a sort of impiety in us to attempt the proof of either point, after what he hath said. What then must it be in the adversaires to say, there are other gods, and we may, nay, ought to worship other gods?
It would indeed be a shame to take notice of cavils founded on passages of Scripture so miserably wrested, were it not a sin to lay them before the feet of the ignorant and unwary; and were we not commanded, on some occasions, 'to answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.' The gods, mentioned in these mistaken passages, are no other than such as the vine in the fable, Judges ix. 13, boasts of cheering;' or than they of whom the psalmist speaks, Psal. lxxxii. 6, 7, 'I have said, Ye are gods -but ye shall die like men.' But where are the attributes or worship of God prescribed to be paid to these gods, when
mentioned in the most favourable sense? Or rather, in what book of holy Scripture are not the first peremptorily denied them, and the second absolutely forbidden them?
You see now clearly, by what hath been said, both from reason and Scripture, that there is precisely but one God, and consequently but one object of divine worship; that we must be pagans and polytheists, if we admit any gods besides him; and that we are guilty of idolatry the moment we pray to, or worship any other being whatsoever.
It is easy to conclude, from this double demonstration, what ought to be the practice of you who worship the true God only. You are not so much as to listen to the subtle follies of such as would persuade you to admit other objects of worship, although ever so elevated in nature, and subordinate in office. Let those two sects, who have been the disgrace of Christianity, so opposite in all other things, agree with each other, and with the pagans, in deifying creatures, either by calling them gods, or by impiously praying to them, and putting their trust in them, while they refuse them the name of gods; but let your good sense and piety be shewn in this, that you worship the true God alone 'in spirit and in truth. What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but that thou shouldst fear the Lord thy God, and serve him with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind?' God will not accept of thee, nor canst thou live the life of a true Christian, if thine heart is divided,' as Hosea expresses it, between the true God and the false. The Samaritans were not reckoned to the people of God, because while they feared the Lord, they served their own gods;' 2 Kings xvii. 33. Consider what God denounces against those, 'who worship, and swear by the Lord, and yet swear by Malcham;' Zeph. i. 5. 'Why should you halt between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him: ; if another, follow him;' 1 Kings xviii. 21. If you do return unto the Lord your God with all your heart, then put away the strange gods;' 1 Sam. vii. 3. Let Dagon fall before the ark of God; for the same heart cannot be a temple to both. 'You cannot serve two masters.' Well might the son of Sirach say, 'Woe be to the sinner that goeth two ways;' for he must of necessity miss his end in both. The temple of
the true God, and that of the false, stand directly opposite to each other, so that there is no going to both at once.
But, if you choose the service of the one only living God, it is your business rightly to prepare yourself for that service, that it may be fit for you, as a rational creature, to offer, and for him, as a God of infinite holiness and majesty, to receive. In order to this, first endeavour to know him in his word and works, that you may make a right judgment of the service he requires. And when you do know him, then labour to be like him in justice, in mercy, in purity, and holiness; so hall you recover his image, which sin had defaced in you, and mutual affection shall flow from this happy conformity of natures. Then weigh in a just balance all those objects of sense, appetite, and passion, that have hitherto estranged your affections; and you will quickly find them nothing, if God is in the other scale. All created things have this of meanness and littleness in them, that they are never great, and this of deformity, that they are never beautiful, but by comparison with somewhat that is less significant, or less excellent. They are beholden for their grandeur to that which is little; and for their beauty, to that which is ugly. The infinite Being only is great, is lovely, in himself, and without comparison.
What is it then withholds your heart from God? Things that are as nothing, from the immense, the infinite Being? Things that are foul and vile, from the beautiful, the glorious God? Things that are deceitful and pernicious, from him who is full of truth and goodness; from him to whom salvation belongeth;' and who would make you for ever happy, if you could but see that the infinite is greater than the finite? How amazing is it, that this should be difficult to you, who can distinguish between the magnitude of a world, and of a grain of sand, wherein the difference is so minute! Have you reason only for small things, have you judgment and discernment only for little differences; and none for that which is immense?
But if you really do know God, and are rightly apprized of the infinite difference between him and all things else, let not this knowledge, which ought, above all other sorts of knowledge, to be practical, confine itself in your understand
ing only. Know him with your heart, give him your affections as well as your reason; for now that God is master of your judgment, it would be very absurd in you to let any thing else have your love. Such a division of yourself between things above, and things on the earth, would carry you to opposite ends; the one would rivet you to the earth, the other would exalt you to heaven. Since both cannot be done, is it not best to follow reason, and cleave to God? If you choose this upper path, break loose from the world, the deceitful world, and fly to God, the author of your being, and the source of all good. Learn to fear him in his power and justice; learn to admire him in his wisdom, his majesty, his immensity: learn to love him for his bounty, his goodness, his mercy; and then adore him with the united force of all these happy affections and sensations. As he is one, endeavour to worship and serve him with an undivided heart. Let your faith honour him, your works serve him, your tongue bless and praise him.
If you come thus affected and disposed before him, you will not come poor nor empty-handed. Your heart, fear not, will be a more acceptable sacrifice than thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oil. But take care that faith purge it, that repentance cut it in sunder, and that piety prepare and lay it on the altar. There let it burn in the flames of hallowed love; and God will receive it as a sweetsmelling savour, as an offering more precious than ten thousand worlds.
Before you are satisfied of God's unity, and other attributes, all your disputes and inquiries about him are in themselves speculative. But conviction hath no sooner put an end to these speculations, than you ought seriously to consider, for what purpose you made this most important point the subject of your examination. It was not merely an effect of curiosity; it was not surely that you might talk better, and parade it with more appearance of knowledge, in this religious fundamental, than other men. If vanity must be indulged, hath it not a lower field of shells, pebbles, and butterflies, to expatiate in? God, I must insist, is too sacred, too awful, a subject for curious speculations, and a conceited ostentation of knowledge. It was, it must have been, with nobler views, that you sought for satisfaction in