Saturday, March 14, 2009


Comic Art


Not sure what it is with DC Comics and talking apes, but the DCU (DC Universe for the uninitiated) is overrun with them. The king of the bad talking apes is Gorilla Grodd, arch-enemy of The Flash.

The origin of the idea of bad guy apes seems obvious. You have to remember, this stuff was born when King Kong was a prevailing image in the American consciousness, but I have to think it is the imagery that have made them hang around after all these years. Grodd is a run of the mill megalomaniacal type. As a character there is little to distinguish him from Luthor, Brainiac, Kang, Thanos, et. al.

But look closely at the images in this post - there is something extraordinarily compelling in them. They say that monsters are at their scariest when then look like us. I think the appeal to an ape enemy is precisely that - so close to human, and yet so perverse. I could almost get spiritual about it. Our inherent distrust of an animal so close to us biologically speaking says something about our sense of right and wrong in the created universe.

But enough philosophy/theology for a comic book post. I am generally not a big fan of villains. I usually buy books based on the hero character(s). But Grodd is an exception. I buy books featuring Grodd. I mean, I don't care who he is fighting, it just looks cool. Especially when he let's lose with the whole army of gorillas thing. (BTW, I hated the deal in the animated JL Unlimited where he lead the army of bad guys - that was just goofy) An army of uniformed apes marching down Wall Street, is, well, one of those things you will only see in the comics - spectacular, extraordinary, and fun.

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Friday, March 13, 2009


Finding The Middle

Kruse Kronicle recently discussed terms like "centrist." I have to agree with this
I relate to the general concerns of many who use these terms. Like many, I too grow weary of the harsh rhetoric and “gotcha” style of public debate. While I suspect many would classify me politically and religiously right of center (at least in my PCUSA world) there is enough about me that would keep me at arms length in many “conservative” Christian circles. I agree that dogmatic identification with ideologies of “left and right” or “conservative and liberal” probably isn’t healthy. Yet, the language of “centrist,” “middle,” “moderate,” or “third way” is not attractive to me.
He goes on to point out the moderation terms are often used to force actual position moves rather than simply make debate more reasonable. I want to expand on that just a bit.

It seems like style often overcomes substance. I agree with Rush Limbaugh most of the time, but I find his style such that I listen only occasionally, in fact infrequently. He is just a little too much bombast and not enough reason for me. But he has the largest audience in radio. People obviously like his bombast. This is increasingly true in the media age.

Much of the liberalization that has occurred in politics, religion, whatever, has occurred because liberalism managed to make itself look attractive, regardless of the actual ideas they were presenting. I recently attended a symposium on habeas corpus law in a terrorist situation. The conservative lawyers had fantastic legal arguments - case law, writing, research - undeniably good work. The liberal lawyers went straight to the "feels right" scenario. They talked about how the rest of the world views Guantanamo, they talked about the "appearance" of being a Gulag - they cited not a fact, only impressions and "concern."

Clearly, in the results of the last election, we see that most Americans agree with them, even though there was little in the way of reason to agree with.

And yet, when we see conservatives try to adapt "communication strategies" to deal with this, they almost invariably end up less conservative. Mega-churches would be a great example. (Oh they are politically conservative, but theologically - I don't think so.)

I think we need to continue to work on communication strategies, but somewhere in this we also need to raise the bar educationally. Until people learn to distinguish style and substance, we are always going to have a problem.

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Friday Humor

If you never watched Fawlty Towers - You Should have - It's available on DVD!

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Thursday, March 12, 2009


Being a Christian In Politics

Hugh Hewitt recently interviewed J.P. Moreland on being a Christian during an Obama administration. Based on the results of the last election Evangelicals are rethinking political involvement on all sorts of fronts and this conversation was part of it. Sadly, I think Moreland's essential approach is as much a part of the problem as it is a part of the solution. Here is a couple of key quotes:
I think that Christians believe the Bible has something to say about everything. The Bible has something to say about science, it has something to say about sex in marriage, it has something to say about money. Well why wouldn’t the Bible has something to say about the state?


HH: Do you think pastors will get into trouble…I mean, they’re all going to say to you, that’s very nice, but I’m going to have my Democrats leave, and they’re going to take their contributions with them, and then they’re going to call the IRS and I’m going to get audited. And I just as soon talk about the Beatitudes, and not connect them up to voting.

JPM: Well, if you keep doing that, then what you’re creating is a secular-sacred split in the lives of your parishioners. They can allow Jesus Christ to have something to say about their private spiritual lives, but Jesus Christ is not allowed to say anything when it comes to their public life. I find that kind of discipleship to be completely unacceptable. If as a Christian, and those who are listening aren’t Christians need to understand, that those of us who are Christians want to seek to follow Jesus as best we can with all our flaws and all of our problems, but that’s our goal. It would follow, then, that we should want to follow Jesus throughout all of life including life as citizens of the state if the New Testament and Old Testament teach on that, and it does.
Let's look at each one of those quotes in turn.

There is far more the Bible does not talk about than it does. Does the Bible talk about taxation policy in a republican governmental system like ours? Certainly not explicitly, and to stretch exegesis to that point is to practically defy the definition of the word. The Bible, for the most part teaches us in broad brush strokes - generosity, compassion, selflessness, these are Biblical lessons. I have a hard time finding anything in Scripture on the specifics of an invasion of Afghanistan.

So how does one bridge the "secular/spiritual gap?" Because indeed, I agree in principle that we are supposed to do just that.

The answer lies, I believe not in forming dogma, but in forming people. Return to the question of what are the lessons of scripture. They are about becoming people in God's image. People in God's image are given to be kings and queens over creation. Consider God's direction to Adam and Eve before the fall.
Gen 1:27-31 - And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, {I have given} every green plant for food"; and it was so. And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
God gave them dominion, but He did not give them instruction - he relied on that bit of Himself that He placed in them to guide them on the specifics. They were told to multiply - which implies there would be many more people and organization of those people seems implicit. God does not dictate to them how that organization is to occur, He specifies no rules. (I love the way this is illustrated in C.S. Lewis' sci-fi book Perelandra, if you want another way to approach it.)

WE - you and I - are the secular/spiritual bridge. If we take the lessons of the Bible, as well as God's other forms of revelation, and allow them to remake us into the people we were created to be, we will need not the specifics. As people transformed truly into God's image, we will devise the specifics adequately, if not excellently.

Pastors should indeed encourage political involvement. But more they should encourage that people involved in politics be people saved by Christ, inhabited by the Holy Spirit and, and transformed by God's immeasurable grace.

Anything less is not the gospel - it's legalism in Christian form.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Being Hopeful

I was genuinely enthused when I read the title to a Ben Witherington post linked by Mark Daniels:


When I got there, what I found was a mixed bag. The reason is less informational and more tonal. Witherington begins his post with some shots at free market capitalism that are reasonably valid, but to my mind unnecessary. Any economic system is corruptible. It is not the system that matters, it is the people using it. He then offers four principles on being a Christian with money:

While I cannot disagree with those points at all, I wonder if those points at this time produce hope? The answer, of course, depends on how they are presented. And frankly, presenting them in this fairly legalistic fashion does not, to my eye, build hope.

I don't think I am alone in this either. Most of the people I know handle their money well and in a Christian fashion. Granted, there are exceptions, but most of the people I know are still employed (statistically that has to be true), still make a good living (again, statistically genuine poverty, even is this climate is the exception, not the rule), still handle their money within reason, and have no reason, other than a constant barrage of bad news, about others, from sources ranging from the news to the pulpit, to believe that their future holds otherwise. And yet, fear rules the day for them.

I personally have had to fight such fear at moments in the last months. At one point I had to break out all the statements, take a sober look at what I had and remind myself that things were just fine. And then I was ashamed....

And here is why - Hope, my hope, your hope, the hope of any Christian, does not lie in what I have - it lies in Jesus Christ, Him alone and Him only. And THAT dear friends is the message that we need to preach right now to "restore hope in a crashing economy." Many preachers follow the lectionary - more power to them. But if you do not, there are some texts that I repeat to myself daily that I would love to hear preached upon

Matt 6:34 - Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

1Thes 5:18 - in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Ps 121:1-2 - I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
And more than just hear these passages preached, I want to hear them preached in a cheerful fashion! I want to hear from the tone in the pulpit and I want to see in the life of those around me - including my own - the reality of the hope that is in those passages. For scripture also reminds us:
Prov 15:13-15 - A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken. The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly. All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.

Eccl 9:7 - Go then, eat your bread in happiness, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.

2 Cor 9:7 - Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.
As Christians we have hope, and we need to act like it! And that means be confident, be cheerful, and spread the cheer.

To that end, I am going to suspend normal blogging here at Blogotional next week, during the week. All five days, Monday-Friday, are going to be "Friday Humor" days. That's right - I'm just going to tell jokes all week. I hope they bring a smile to your face. Some of them may be a bit off color - I hope you can suspend your concerns for taste and decorum and simply enjoy. I hope and pray they give you cheer, and that you spread that cheer. Such cheer is a mark of the Gospel that we all claim to hold dear.

Such cheer is of the Lord.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Expose Yourself

Matt Kleberg on CGO
Our greatest desire is to be fully known and fully accepted. Deep down we want someone to see us for who we are- the beautiful with the ugly- and neither balk in disgust nor mistake us for something we are not, something better with fewer blemishes and flaws. And yet, we fear the fulfillment of the very thing we desire. Our greatest fear is to be known, found out, rejected. Out of this fear we build up defenses like walls, hiding our weakness, preventing anyone from really knowing us at all. We are like shopkeepers that put mannequins in the window, clean projections of the person we would rather people see (confident, attractive, sociable, interesting, etc), all the while keeping the shop door locked tight, carefully keeping the ugly reality of our imperfect lives out of sight.


So what’s the solution- how do we get over the fear of exposure? The answer is certainly not try harder. Rather, I think the answer has to do with resting, resting in the promises of the God “to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.” This is the gospel: that God walks into a gallery, sees your face on the wall- knows every bit from the surface right on through to the core- and is utterly mesmerized by the beauty. He may as well be looking into a mirror. We are utterly known and profoundly accepted.
Excellent psychological advice and reasonable theology too - so why do I fear it?

The answer is simple - too many people rely on being accepted, "just the way we are" to avoid changing just the way we are. Such change is the point of the gospel. Jesus did not die so I could wallow in this crap - He died to provide me a way out. Agreed, that way out is not of my own power, but His. Agreed, God loves me more than I can imagine - in fact, He loves me so much He wants better for me than I can provide for myself.

I have a somewhat different take on the whole acceptance thing. I don't think we are supposed to like ourselves all that much. If we like ourselves complacency rules to day.

But there is a caveat. Kleberg's post is not necessarily about liking ourselves - it is really about making an honest survey of ourselves - looking at ourselves squarely. It's about confession. See, I don't think we need to like ourselves, but I do think we need to be honest with ourselves. We cannot improve what we are unwilling to admit is broken.

Such an honest appraisal of oneself does require a deep understanding of God's love for us. So many of us, myself included, are afraid that if we are truly honest something will break somewhere and be irreparable.

I recently spent sometime repairing toilets in my house. Took about an hour. But the problems with them had been present for a couple of years. I spent those couple of years going - "Ah, it's not that bad - I'll get to it when I have nothing better to do." Before I could even fix the toilet, I had to admit a problem was a problem.

Think about it...

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Monday, March 09, 2009


Should It Be Invisible?

Milt Stanley recently quoted Victoria Gaines:
"It's time we stopped counting church involvement as the mark of true faith. And while a Christless Churchianity is running rampant across this nation, there is still good news. Jesus is building His invisible Church and it is not falling apart."
I agree, but the question in the title ran through my mind instantly when I read it.

Is Christianity doomed to be an underground movement? Something that once it sees the light of day corrupts from its true calling? That certainly seems to be the historical case. I wonder why? I know, I know - we are all sinners, but....

There are just a couple of points I want to make here. I certainly do think institutions corrupt, pretty much inevitably, but we worship an all powerful God who works through that corruption. We cannot allow ourselves to be corrupted with the institutions, but we cannot divorce ourselves from them either. God is at work there.

Secondly, I do not think that the "true" church should be invisible. In fact I do not think it can be. People truly transformed by God's grace are gong to stand out like a sore thumb. They will be humble indeed, but they will not be invisible - these two things are not synonymous.

So, if you think you are part of the invisible church, I think you need to ask yourself what you are doing wrong.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009


Sermons and Lessons



In Advent 1747.

A Prospect through Sensible Things into the Intellectual World

2 Cor. 4:8 - While we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The chief point which the Apostle has in view in this Epistle is to vindicate himself against the aspersions he labored under from those false teachers who were for blending Judaism with Christianity; and because he endeavored to vindicate the liberty of Christians from the yoke of the Mosaic law, which they were for imposing upon them, especially those from among the Gentiles, they did all they could to discredit him and his ministry, and to render both his person and labors contemptible. In order therefore to do himself justice, he is obliged though with great reluctance to say many things of himself and his proceedings in a manner, which otherwise might savor of boasting. And among other things he is here speaking of his great labors and sufferings in the cause of the Gospel, and asserting his sincerity and disinterestedness, and explaining the views upon which he acted, having no eye at any motives or considerations taken from this visible and transitory world, but being solely governed by the views of the invisible and eternal things of the world to come. For which cause, says he, we faint not, v. 16, but though our outward man perish, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at things which are seen but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. And what those are he goes on to a plain more particularly in the next chapter. For we know says he, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved we have a building of God, an house not made with hands eternal in the heavens, v. 1, etc., etc., v.10. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, etc. So that the certainty of another life after this, and the account to be given of ourselves to God, and these apprehended by the eye of faith, as not being objects of sight, are the unseen things which he speaks of in my text under the influence of which he faithfully labored to fulfill his ministry; for as he had said, v.7, We walk by faith not by sight, which words do in effect import the very same thought with those in my text.

Now the principles upon which the Apostle tells us he acted are those upon which it concerns us all, and all Christians, as such, in all ages and nations, always to act in all our deportment, throughout the whole course of our lives, viz., to look through things seen and temporal to the things which are unseen and eternal, and to be principally governed by them in all our conduct. For this is the grand business and design of the Gospel, to acquaint us with intellectual objects, to inure us to them that we may chiefly be governed by them. We are born children of flesh (3 John), time and sense, but are designed for immortality and for a spiritual intellectual and eternal happiness, and consequently by the discipline of the Gospel into which we are brought by baptism, to be gradually disengaged from sensible pleasures and transitory engagements, which must shortly cease of course and to be trained up to the exercises of reason faith and virtue to place our happiness in the things which are entirely of another nature, things spiritual, intellectual, stable and eternal. We consist of a sensible and rational or intellectual nature in strict union with each other. We begin with sense, and from thence are to take our rise to the objects and exercises of reason and faith, and so gradually go on to that highest spiritual and moral perfection for which we are ultimately designed which is the perfection and happiness of our better part, our rational and immortal nature. Now the Gospel is the great engine to raise us above the objects and pleasures of sense, which are those of our animal nature, with which we begin, and to lead us on to that spiritual and moral perfection which is the happiness of that reasonable and immortal part of our nature; that when we have done with this sensible and transitory state, we may be qualified for that intellectual and eternal happiness, for which we were ultimately designed. This is an affair of that vast importance to us, that God thought fit to send his son into this world upon that very errand to establish a most excellent institution to disengage us from this present world, of sense and time, and recover us from the many errors we had fallen into, and the guilt we had contracted by our too great attachment to sensible things; to open and ascertain to us the views of the intellectual invisible and eternal world, and to train us up to those spiritual, intellectual and moral exercises and practices that would fit and qualify us for the ever¬lasting happiness thereof. It is therefore my design from this text to trace out the method of this heavenly institution, the Gospel, in accomplishing this end. In order to which I must a little more particularly define the terms of the text.

By the things seen are meant all the objects of sense signified by those of the most comprehensive and pleasing sense of seeing, which according to the style of the Hebrews, is put for all the senses. This expression therefore, comprehends all the objects, pleasures and enjoyments of our present animal state. The objects and pleasures of seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling, the objects of which senses constitute what we call the whole natural world, and the gratification of them implies all the pleasures of sense. These are designed for a very good end, viz., to direct and employ our active powers for attaining an agreeable and comfortable subsistence while it should please God to continue us in this present state, which is our first entrance into) being, and a state of childhood and discipline in order for a more mature state which ma be called a state of manhood in another life after this, which is to endure forever, when we come to be perfect men in Christ Jesus. And in this state we are to take our rise from these sensible things, and gradually learn the exercises of reason and faith and the practices of holiness and virtue in order to our being qualified for that more perfect state of being. And the chief of our discipline in this immature state consists in not suffering these objects of sense to hinder or interrupt the more noble exercises of reason, faith, and virtue, but rather in making them subservient to those purposes. Our heavenly Father deals with us in this as we do with our children. He gives us these sensible things as baubles and playthings to divert and amuse us while we are children. But as a wise and good parent contrives the diversity and amusements of his children so as to make them the means of exercising and improving their minds and their active powers and training them up by degrees to things more manly and of greater importance, pleasing and improving them at the same time. So our Heavenly Father gives us these sensible things, the things of this world, so to subsist, please and divert us, as that at the same time they may be means of exercising and improving our reason and our active powers, and gradually perfecting them, and thereby fitting us for that more perfect state of being in the life to come. And as our present state is to continue but for a short space of time, so these sensible objects and enjoyments are but transient and temporal. The things which are seen are temporal. As this world is not designed for our perpetual abode, but only for a short state of discipline, so these things which are seen, these sensible objects and amusements are fitted for such a transitory state, they are only of a temporary and transient nature. They are perpetually fluctuating and changing, and in a little time they are to cease and be no more.

But the things which are not seen are eternal. Where by the things which are not seen, are meant the objects of pure intellect, of the mind and understanding, of reason and faith, in opposition to those of sense and imagination, and they are objects of quite another kind from the others. We are apt to think these objects of sense the only real solid stable things, and that these things unseen are only mere notional airy things, and the men of this world are wont to consider them as mere phantoms, and whimsies whereas in truth they are the only real, firm, stable, and unchangeable things and the others are, compared with them, but little better than shadows. Now what are these things unseen, these objects of intellect, reason and faith? I answer they are, in the first place, God, the being of beings in whom is all reality, all perfection and excellency, from whom all things else have all that they are and have, and on whom they all depend. He is absolute real being itself, and all other things are in effect but the shadows of being, compared with Him, as they merely depend upon the incessant exertion of his will and power. He is all knowledge and wisdom, all power and goodness, all holiness, justice, truth and benevolence. He is the life and support of the whole creation; in a word, He is All in All. In the next place, among these invisible things, are our own souls and all other intelligent beings, which so far forth partake of the Father and Fountain of all being, and perfection, as to be intelligent, free, active, beings, as He is, and to be capable of resembling Him in holiness justice and goodness, and by his decree, will and power shall always exist and never cease to be or to be happy, in proportion as they resemble Him and be obedient to Him, though they must be otherwise unavoidably miserable. And lastly to these invisible things must be reckoned the whole conduct and management of Almighty God in the government of the world, and particularly with regard to his rational creatures in rewarding or punishing them according as they behave themselves, and all the great principles of truth, justice, equity and benevolence on which the whole conduct of his government is founded, and more especially the whole economy of his grace in the dispensation of his Gospel with regard to the sinful race of mankind, by his blessed son Jesus Christ, for their recovery from sin and death and restoration to his image, favor, and immortality. These are the things, which being not seen, being not the objects of sense but apprehended by the faculties of reason and faith, are of a stable, eternal and unchangeable nature.

My method therefore in treating on this subject shall be to open to you the invisible world, and to represent to you more particularly those spiritual eternal and invisible things which the Gospel recommends to our chief concern, and to show under each head how God designs by sensible to lead us up to spiritual things, and to teach us not to look upon, not to rest in, or be too much pleased with the things which are seen and are temporal, but through them to look forward, and to be chiefly delighted in the things unseen represented by them, which are eternal. And

1. The first, and chief unseen intelligible and eternal object of our reason and faith to be here considered, God, the sovereign and chief good, who is all in all. We are placed here, in the midst of a glorious sensible scene of visible things, a world which is truly amiable, and beautiful, and may in some sort be said to be the image of the invisible God. Everything is so far beautiful and amiable as it is pleasing, useful, and advantageous to the reasonable and intelligent nature, to its real happiness or enjoyment of itself in the whole of its nature, and duration. This world therefore is beautiful and amiable as ft subsists and pleases us while we continue here in our present state, but (as we are reasonable and immortal creatures) more especially as it represents and leads us to the eternal God, our chief good. It subsists us while we are here, and everything at the same time contributes to our pleasure and comfort; but as our animal nature is but short lived and very uncertain, while we consider it only in this light though it is so far forth valuable and we ought to give God thanks for it, yet ft must be considered as a very fading and transitory thing. It is therefore designed that we should consider it in another light, that we should look on it, as at the same time to look through ft and look beyond it. That we should consider ft as not only a means for the subsistence and pleasure of our bodies, but as a means for the instruction and improvement of our souls, by leading us to the acknowledgement and adoration of that glorious being who is the Author of it, and at the same time the true father and former of our immortal spirits and their sole, their chief and sovereign good. Because as they are immortal, so He is a being who is eternal and unchangeable.

Now therefore what the Gospel requires of us is not absolutely to disregard these visible or sensible things, as being what they are; for in the view wherein I have represented them, they are to be regarded, but comparatively (according to the genius of the Hebrew language) to make light of them, i.e., in comparison with God and the spiritual Heavenly things represented by them, according to the Psalmist in the 73rd Ps. where he says, v. 25,26. Whom have I in Heaven but Thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of Thee? My flesh and my heart faileth, but Thou O God, art the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Let us then according to the Gospel consider this visible world chiefly in this view, as an emblem of things invisible, and a means to lead us by reason and faith to the sight of God our great, our chief good. For according to the Apostle’s philosophy in the 17th of Acts, v. 24, etc., God hath to that end made the world and all things therein, and hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, that they should seek the Lord, and that they might feel after Him, and find Him whose offspring they are, and in whom they all live, move and have their being. For, says he, Rom. 1:20, the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood from the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. Let me then from the visible things before our eyes, direct you to look to the invisible things of Him who is the Father and Lord of all things. Let us consider the objects of our sight as leading us directly to Him who is invisible. We know they are effects produced in our minds whereof we are not the cause and yet nothing that is an effect can exist without a cause. The Father of Lights, therefore must be the cause of all that light that is let into our minds, and consequently of all the objects of our sight. We certainly find that light and all these visible objects serve to guide and direct us in every thing that it concerns us to do for avoiding things hurtful and procuring things advantageous to us; we must therefore conclude that the great and good author of them designs by them to guide and direct us in every thing that concerns us, and consequently is ever present with us in them, and ever watching over us and speaking to us and directing us in everything that concerns us thereby enlightening our eves from without us, while He enlighteneth our minds within us. Can we then behold the sun in the firmament every day, by his light incessantly flowing from him opening to our view the whole visible world about us, in all which we behold innumerable and inimitable displays of wisdom unsearchable, of power ineffable, and of goodness immense, and by which we are continually directed in all our actions, and in the management of all our affairs, and by his heat and influences pervading and perfecting all its productions, being as it were, the life and soul of the whole creation. Can we, I say, thus daily behold him without considering him as representative of that infinitely more glorious being who is truly the author of all his light and heat and all his sweet influences, who being every where covered with his light as with a garment perpetually worketh all in all? Can we look upon him with an eye of sense, without looking beyond him and through him with an eye of reason and faith to the eternal and invisible God, who is the father of the intellectual world of spirits, as the sun is, as it were, the father of the sensible world of bodies? Do we not behold and in some sort, feel the Deity in the light and heat of the sun, thrusting himself upon us and forcing a sense of himself upon our minds, and fitly representing his co-eternal Son and Spirit, the light and life of our souls?

And when we have thus been looking outward upon the things that are seen, can we not then turn the eye of our minds inward and there behold the same invisible Father of our spirits enlightening them from within, enabling us to discern the various relations and connections of things both sensible and intellectual? For instance, between causes and their effects, subjects and their accidents, wholes and their parts, things equal and unequal, like and unlike, agreeing and disagreeing, diverse and opposite, etc., from which intellectual apprehensions we are directly led to a sense of true and false, and of right and wrong, and are conscious to ourselves when we know the truth or are deceived, and when we do well or ill, and enjoy unspeakable satisfaction in the one and uneasi¬ness and remorse in the other. In all which cases do we not find there are a great number of necessary and eternal truths, and duties which force our assent, and of which we are intu¬itively certain, and our minds, are merely as passive to them as our eyes to the light of the sun? From which we are necessarily and directly led to the sense and acknowledgment of that necessarily existent and eternal being, from whom all intellectual or spiritual light perpetually flows, irradiates our minds, as the sensible light of the sun irradiates our eyes. And the more we consider and contemplate the eternal God and eternal truth thus discovered with the eye of our mind, the more sensible we shall be of his reality and stability; and of his immutability and eternity, and consequently that he is our sole and supreme good, and the more firm and stable we ourselves shall be in adhering to him and our duty while we endure like Moses as seeing Him who is invisible and the more indifferent we shall grow towards the things which are seen, which we find to be perpetually fluctuating, unstable, and temporal, and the more we shall admire and love this invisible being, his infinite knowledge, wisdom, and power, and his infinite holiness, justice, and goodness, while we keep the eye of our faith fixed upon these things which are not seen, but are unchangeable and eternal.

2. And in the next place, while we are thus considering these things that are seen and from them arguing and proceeding to the invisible God, we naturally proceed further to reflect and consider ourselves; that perceiving, thinking, and active being, which we call ourselves; our souls which are properly our persons, whereof these bodies of ours are but mere sensible representatives and engines. By these it is that we perceive all these things, that are seen, while they themselves are among the things that are not seen. By these we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell, and become acquainted with all visible and sensible things, and by these we go on and reason from these things that are seen to the spiritual intellectual and eternal things that are not seen. By these we not only know things visible and invisible, but are conscious of our own existence and all our faculties, of all our enjoyments, and all our hopes, and by these we are able to look forward to eternal ages, and not only see that we may, but be convinced that we must subsist forever, and fare well or ill according as we behave ourselves in this life. These immortal souls of ours, being not objects of sense any more than the Deity, the father and former of them, we scarce know how to reckon them, as well as Him, among real beings. They seem to our weak minds such airy, fleeting (fugacious) beings that we are some¬times almost tempted to doubt of their existence, independent of these gross tangible bodies. Whereas if we would accustom ourselves to withdraw our thoughts from the things that are seen and raise them as much as we can above them, we might soon be convinced that their existence is so far from depending on the existence of the body (that on the other hand, the existence of body depends entirely on the existence of mind, and that its existence can have no sense or meaning in it separate from its being perceived and acted by mind: and consequently that) it is these bodies that are really the empty uncertain, unstable fleeting (fugacious) things, and that it is mind soul or spirit, that is the real stable and certain thing. Bodies are the things seen which are temporal, and minds are the things unseen which are eternal. What are all the objects and pleasures of sense but mere fleeting, fugacious, unstable and uncertain things, I had almost said, but mere imaginary things, and but little better than dreams? Whereas the objects of reason and faith and the pleasures and joys that attend them, with the conscience of being governed by them, in delighting in and acting what is reasonable, fit and right, on all occasions; these are solid, stable, durable things; which the wise man calls durable riches and righteousness. And so with regard to the pains of body, and mind, he says the spirit of man may bear his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear? The pains of sense are indeed many times great, but by how much the greater, by so much the shorter, but the remorse of conscience from having done ill, is a most insupportable anguish; under the other we may have peace, a peace that passeth all understanding, if we do well and trust in God. But under these we can have no peace, no ease, nothing but horror and vexation, unless we turn about and alter our conduct, and return to what is fit, right, and our bounden duty This abundantly speaks the reality and stability of our souls, our reason and consciences and their spiritual and peculiar interests. Thus, as St. John says, The world passeth away and the lusts thereof; the things that are seen are temporary, fleeting, and transitory, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. Doing the will of God, i.e., what is reasonable, fit and right, with all the satisfaction and joys attending it, is a stable thing and can never fail us; the things that are not seen are eternal.

And such as these souls of ours are, such we must conceive all others to be; what we find their natures and interests to be, we must unavoidably conceive to be the nature and interest of all other intelligent beings throughout the universe, reason and intellect being in the nature of them in general everywhere the same. We find here a vast number of them of this family upon this globe of ours. And by analogy from what we find here in the various gradation of creatures below us, and the mighty extent and variety of the works of God which come within our ken, we may reasonably conclude, and by faith we must believe, that there are multitudes of other tribes and innumerable other creatures of the same intelligent active nature with us, many of whom may be vastly more perfect than we in the same faculties and powers that we have, and others may have faculties and powers of a higher kind and of much greater perfection than ours, though agreeing in the same general intelligent active nature which we are furnished with. But be they ever so numerous or ever so various, they must all be alike the creatures of God and all alike subject to his universal dominion and government; all of his family and household, of whom the whole family of heaven and earth are named. He is the one King and Lord of all, and they all constitute his one universal Kingdom, and must be reckoned among the things not seen which are eternal.

3. And lastly, to these unseen things which are eternal, must be also reckoned, the whole conduct of Almighty God in the government of the world, and especially of his intelligent or rational creatures. Verily; Thou art a God that hidest thyself, says the prophet. It is the unseen God that continually works all in all, behind the curtain, in all the productions of nature, as we commonly call them, though strictly speaking they are truly the operations of his almighty will and power, giving them being, actuating all their motions, and making them answer their several ends in their subserviency to the subsistence and well-being of his reasonable creatures, which are more properly his own offspring, whose happiness is his greatest care. And ft is the same invisible God, their great common Father and Lord, who governs and presides over all his offspring, his whole family of heaven and earth, pursuing that great end of their being, their true happiness by all the dispensations of his providence towards them, and by all the instructions, laws and injunctions he gives them, and the various pleasures or pains he causes them to meet with. Indeed as these creatures of his are a visible system, sensible to each other, and their social life depends upon a sensible intercourse with each other, he hath rendered himself visible to them in the glorious person of his Son, whom he hath established his visible representative and vicegerent in the government of the world; not only men, but angels, authorities, and powers being made subject unto Him, and account¬able to him as their head, lord, and judge. But though his person be visible yet his government is purely of an invisible spiritual and intellectual nature, as it is properly a spiritual and intellectual society, and their visible appearances to each other are only sensible means of conveying to them the notices of each other’s invisible persons. The laws of this spiritual and eternal society or kingdom, are entirely of a spiritual nature, being designed to govern our hearts as well as our lives and actions, to regulate our thoughts, appetites, and affections, and direct all our actions in relation to spiritual objects, God, ourselves and one another. They prescribe the spiritual and eternal laws of humility, temperance, meekness, patience, and contentment in regard to ourselves, piety and devotion with respect to God, and justice and charity with respect to our neighbors, all which are spiritual exertions, and invisible so far forth as they are moral, i.e., the free voluntary exertions of our souls, and done from a sense of duty to Him that made us. And lastly the sanctions to these laws are moreover of the spiritual and invisible kind. The pleasures or pains that will attend our obedience or disobedience which are intellectual and spiritual perceptions; the unspeakable spiritual joys and satisfactions that attend our being conscious of doing our duty and pleasing our God and securing our happiness, and the amazing horror and remorse attending the known violation of our duty, our reason and consciences, the displeasing God and ex¬posing ourselves to his wrath and vengeance; these are the general principles upon which the government of the whole rational world must turn, and which you see are all of a spiritual nature, not objects of sense or imagination, but of reason and faith.

And with respect to us men in particular, while we were in a state of innocence God taught us from the beginning to look through things seen to the things not seen; He made use of this sensible world as the visible means and emblem to lead us to the knowledge of Himself, and our duty and happiness. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was made use of to teach our first parents duty and sin, and to lead them to a sense of God’s dominion over them, and the tree of life, to teach them that immortality and happiness that should attend their obedience, as their exclusion from it, if they were disobedient, would be attended with their death and destruction. As the others were natural, so these and all that follows were instituted visible means to represent invisible things. And when they had sinned and were expelled from Paradise, as God assured them of pardon upon their repentance, and that if they would yet do well they should be accepted, so he probably instituted the visible emblems of the cherubims, and sacrifice, to be means for instructing them in the spiritual invisible things of the Gospel, and to teach them to keep the way of the tree of life; i.e., how to recover that immortality which they had lost by their disobedience.

This was the beginning of that whole series of dispensations which God used from that day to this in his conduct towards mankind, for their recovery, which all turn upon the principle in my text of looking through things seen to things unseen. The whole Mosaic dispensation, which seems to be a revival of, or at least founded upon those original visible emblems, the cherubim and sacrifices, a system of visible typical institutions, designed to represent and teach the future spiritual and invisible things of the Gospel. The cherubims were symbols of the divine presence exhibiting mercy to penitents. The sacrifices were types representative of the sacrifice of Christ, and emblems to represent the heinousness of sin, to induce the sinner to repentance, and ascertain pardon to the penitent. The priesthood was a type of the priesthood and intercession of Christ; circumcision of the flesh represented and obliged to the circumcision of the heart and the mortification of base lusts; the purifications of the flesh, to the moral purity of heart and life; the Passover was a type of the death of Christ, and the earthly of the heavenly Canaan; and so of the rest. In all which they were taught not to look at those things, that were seen so as to rest in them, but at the things of the Gospel which were not seen, whereof they were shadows and emblems, which when Christ the body, the substance, the archetype came of course ceased and were done away.

Now the Gospel is the spirit whereof they were the letter, being the spiritual invisible things then not seen, but are, since Christ came, visible to us, being a vastly more spiritual dispensation than that of Moses. Life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel. And when we are admitted by baptism into the fellowship of Christ’s religion, we are made free, of that invisible spiritual and heavenly society, the Kingdom of Heaven. We are come to the spiritual Mount Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem. To an innumerable company of angels, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to the Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant, and to God the judge of all. By our natural birth we were born into this visible animal state, but by this spiritual birth, we are born into that invisible spiritual heavenly society. And yet even now we are still taught by the things that are seen to look further to the things that are not seen. From hungering and thirsting after bodily food, we are taught to hunger and thirst after righteousness; from the health and nourishment of the body we are led to understand the spiritual health and nourishment of the soul, and in all our Savior’s discourses and parables, He makes use of temporal things to resemble and shadow forth to us the things that are eternal. And he has in particular instituted two visible ordinances fitted to the present state of his visible church, the one for a rite of our admission into it, the other for our improvement in it. Baptism or the washing of our bodies in water to represent and engage us to all purity of heart and life, and to seal the renewing and purifying influences of God’s Holy Spirit, and the Lord’s Supper to represent the body and blood of Christ and the spiritual benefits purchased thereby and to seal and convey them for their spiritual nourishment to all that receive with a truly penitent heart and lively faith and the heavenly temper of universal charity. In all which we are still not to look on the things that are seen, these visible ordinances, so as to rest in them, but by an eye of faith to look through them and beyond them to the spiritual things which are not seen that are represented by them. For what is faith but the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. This was the faith of all the ancient patriarchs from the beginning of the world and this is still the faith of us Christians, and in all our worship our prayers and praises, and in all the actions and conduct of our lives, without this faith of spiritual and invisible things it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh unto God must believe that He is and that He is the rewarder of all them that diligently seek him.

Thus my brethren I have explained to you as briefly and as dearly as I could the full force and purport of this text. Let us then rouse us and vigorously exert both our reason and faith to look through and beyond the things visible and temporal to the things invisible and eternal, and so to realize them to our minds, not only as things of the most stable substantial reality; but also as of the greatest importance to us, who are shortly to quit this short-lived sensible scene, and to enter into the eternal invisible world. Let us enter into it as far as possible beforehand by the frequent exercise of reason and faith that it may have such a powerful influence on our hearts and lives as may qualify us to be eternal happy in that eternal invisible state, while we look not at the things which are seen. Which God of His infinite mercy grant through Jesus Christ.

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