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Full text of "A body of divinity: wherein the doctrines of the Christian religion are explained and defended, being the substance of several lectures on the Assembly's larger catechism"

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A 

BODY OF DIVINITY 



WMERIiilf THE 



DOCTRINES 



OF THE 

CHRISTIAN RELIGION 

ARE EXPLAINED AND DEFENDED. 

B£IXQ THE 

SUBST.ijYCi; OF SEVERAL LECTURES 
ON 

THE ASSEMBLY'S LARGER CATECHISM. 
BY THOMAS RIDGLEY, D. D. 

WITH NOTES, ORIGINAL AND SELECTED, 
BY JAMES P. WILSON, D. D. 

IN FOUR yOLU:MES. 
VOL. L 



jrnsT AMmiCAV, fbom the third elroiean EaiTmx 



PHILADELPHIA : 

rUINTrB BT jSSl' FOR 'WirLTA?!. "W. WOODWAnn, COHXEH Cr CnESXVT AND SOUTH 
6J;C0XD STREETt.. 

1814. 



Piistrict of Pennsylvania^ to wit: 

BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the seventeenth day of May, iii 

^ , the thirty-eighth year of the Independence of the United States of 

America, A. D. 1813, WiUiam W. Woodward, of the said District, 

hath deposited in this office the title of a Book, the right whereof he 

claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit : 

" A Body of Divinitj- : wherein the doctrines of the christian religion, are ex- 
'-'' plained and defended. Being the substance of several lectures on the Assem- 
" bly's larger catechism. By Thomas Ridglpy, D. D. With notes, original and 
"selected, by James P. Wilson, D. D. In four volumes. First American, from 
"" the thii-d European Edition." 

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, intitled, " An 
Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts 
and Books, to the ;nithors and proprietors of such Copies during the times there- 
in mentioned." — And also to the Act, entitled " An Act supplementary to An 
Act, entitled " An act for the encomagement of Learning, by securing the Co- 
pies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such Copies 
durmg the times therein mentioned," and extending the benefits thereof to the 
♦rts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints." 

D. CALDWELL, Clerk of the 
District of Pennsylvania. 



rO THE READER. 

In this Jirst American edition the original text remains un- 
altered^ the notes xoJiich Dr. Ridglerj had subjoined to his xvork 
are retained^ and for the sake of distinction^ printed in Italics^ 
The other notes have been added by Dr. Wilson ; and in every 
instance xuherein they have been selected by him from others^ 
they are accompanied by marks of quotation, and the name of 
the author or book from whence they zvere taken. 



THE 

PREFACE. 

ri^HE influence which the different sentiments of men, in 
JL matters of religion, have, for the most part, on their tem- 
per and behaviour towards one another, affords very little 
ground to expect that any attempt to explain or defend the 
most important doctrines of Christianity, should not be treat- 
ed with dislike and opposition by some, how much soever it 
may afford matter of conviction to others. This consideration 
' would have put a stop to my pen, and thereby saved me a great 
deal of fatigue, in preparing and publishing the following 
sheets, had it not been over-balanced by what I cannot, at pre- 
sent, think any other than a sense of dut)'^, in compliance with 
the call of providence. I heartily v/ish there were no occasion 
to vindicate some of the great doctrines of the gospel, which 
were more generall}^ received in the last age, than at present, 
from misrepresentation, as though the method in which they 
had been explained led to licentiousness, and the doctrines 
themselves, especially those of election, particular redemption, 
efficacious grace, and some others, that depend upon them, 
were inconsistent with the moral perfections of the divine na- 
ture : these are now traduced by many, as though they were 
new and strange doctrines, not founded on scripture, nor to 
be maintained by any just methods of reasoning deduced from 
it, or as if the duties of practical religion could not be inculca- 
ted consistently therewith. If this insinuation were true, our 
preaching would be vain, our hope also vain, and we should 
be found false witnesses for God, and have no solid ground 
whereon to set our feet, which would be a most tremendous 
thought. And, if this be not sufficient to justify my present 
undertaking, I have nothing to allege of equal weight. 

I must cpnfess, that when 1 took the first step, in order to 
the' setting this design on foot, by consenting that proposals 



IV llIE PREFACE. 

should be printed, about two years since, I reckoned it little 
other than an expedient to disengage myself from any farthei* 
thoughts, and my friends from any expectation of it, which I 
could noC well do, but by having a proof of the backwardness 
of persons to encourage, by subscription, a work which would 
be so very expensive to the undertakers ; but, the design be- 
ing countenanced, beyond what I could have imagined, and 
numbers subscribed for, with more expedition than is usual, I 
was laid under an obligation im.raediately to prepare my notes 
for the press, and set forward the work, which, through the 
divine goodness, has been thus far carried on ; and I cannot but 
I ^ke occasion to express my grateful acknowledgment of the 
respect that has been shewed me, by those who have encoura- 
ged this undertaking. If it may answer their expectation, and 
subserve their spiritual advantage, I shall count my labour well 
employed, and humbly offer the glory thereof, as a tribute due 
to God, whose interest is the only thing that demands all our 
time, strength, and utmost abilities. If I may but have a tes- 
timony from him that I have spoken nothing concerning him 
that is a dishonour to his name, unbecoming his perfections, or 
that has a tendency to lead his people out of the right way to 
tiie glorifying and enjoying of him, my end is fully answered. 
Whatever weakness I have discovered, arising from mine in- 
equality to the greatness of the subjects insisted on, I hope to 
obtain forgiveness thereof from God, whose cause I have en- 
deavoured to maintain ; and, to be excused by men, as I may 
truly say, I have not offered, either to him or them, what cost 
me nothing. I have, as far as I am able, adapted my method 
of reasoning to the capacities of those who are unacquainted 
with several abstruse and uncommon words and phrases, which 
have been often used by some who have treated on these sub- 
jects, which have a tendency rather to perplex, than improve 
the minds of men : terms of art, as they are sometimes (Called, 
or hard words, used by metaphysicians and schoolmen, have 
done little service to the cause of Christ^ 

If I have explained any doctrine, or given the sense of any 
scripture in a way somewhat different from what is commonly 
received, I ha\'e never done it out of the least affectation of 
singularity, nor taken pleasure in going out of the beaten path, 
having as great a regard to the footsteps of the fiock, as is con- 
sistent with that liberty of thinking and reasoning, v/hich we 
are allowed to use, who conclude nothing to be an infallible 
rule of faith, but the inspired writings. 

As to what I have advanced concerning the eternal genera- 
tion of the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost, I have 
thought myself obliged to recede from some common modes of 
explication, which have been used, both by ancient and modern 



THE PREFACE. v 

writers, in insisting on these mysterious doctrines, which, pro- 
bably, will appear, if duly weighed, not to have done any great 
service to the cause, which, with convincing evidence, thty 
have maintained; since it is obvious that this is the principal 
thing that has given occasion to some modern Arians to fill the 
inargins of their books with quotations, taken out of the wri- 
tings of others, whom they have either, M'itliout ground, pre- 
tended to have been on their side of the question, or charged 
with plucking down with one hand, what they have built up 
with the other. 

Whether my method of explaining these doctrines be reckon- 
ed just, or no, I cannot but persuade myself, that if what I have 
said, concerning the subordination of these divine persons, be 
considered in any other view, than as an explication of the Son- 
ship of Christ, and the procession of the Holy Ghost, it will 
not be reckoned a deviating from the common faith of those 
who have defended the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity ; 
and, if it be an error to maintain that these divine persons, as 
well as the Father, are independent, as to their personality, as 
v/cll as their essence, or to assert that the maimer of their hav- 
ing the divine essence, as some express it, is independent, as 
well as the essence itself, then what I have delivered, on that 
subject, is to no purpose, which, when I am convinced of, I 
shall readily acknowledge my mistake, and count it an happi- 
ness to be undeceived. 

As to what respects the decrees of God, and more particu- 
larly those that relate to angels and men, and his providence, 
as conversant about sinful actions, and the origin of moral evil, 
I have endeavoured to account for them in such a way, as, I 
trust, does not in the least, infer God to be the author of sin ; 
nor have I, in any instance, represented God as punishing sin, 
or determining to do it, out of his mere sovereignty, as though 
he designed to render his creatures miserable, without consi- 
dering them as contracting guilt, and thereby procuring this to 
themselves. And, when I have been led to insist on the free- 
ness of divine grace, and the covenant of grace, as made witli 
Christ, and, in him, with the elect, and maintained the abso- 
luteness and independency hereof on the will of man to render 
it effectual to salvation, I have, notwithstanding, said as much 
as is necessary concerning the conditionality of <^ur claim to the 
blessings thereof, and the inseparable connexion that there is 
between practical religion and salvation, which fences against 
the charge that is often brought against this doctrine, as though 
it led to licentiousness. This I could not omit to mention, that 
the reader might not entertain groundless prejudices against 
some of the doctrines insisted on, before he duly weighs the 
method in which they are handled, or considers whether my 



vi THE PREFACE. 

defence of them against the popular objections, of that or any 
other kind, be just or no. Some, it may be, will see reason to 
conclude that it is ; and others, who think that there are many 
unsurmountable difficulties on our side of the que^stion, may be 
convinced, tliat there are difficulties of another nature, as great, 
if not greater, attending the opposite scheme, which they them- 
selves maintain. But this I rather chuse to submit to the im- 
partial judgment of those who are not disposed to condemn a 
doctrine, without desiring to know what may be said in its de- 
fence. 

As to Avhat concerns the work in general, it may be obser- 
ved, that when I have occasion to illustrate an argument, by 
7naking use of any criticism that may be of advantage to it, or 
to give the sense of ancient writers, either for or against what 
I have laid down, I have inserted it in Italics in the notes, that 
it might not appear to be a digression, or break the thread of 
the discourse. 

Though the title of CA'ery page mentions only the general 
subject of the question, there is a table prefixed to each vol- 
lume, that comprises the contents thereof, laid down in such a 
form, as that the reader may easily see the heads of argument, 
under every question, in their proper method and connexion. 

And, at the end, there is an index of scriptures, in which 
only those are inserted that are either more largely or concise- 
ly explained. This, together with the table, was drawn up by a 
kind brother, which I thankfully acknowledge, as having afford- 
ed me more leisure to attend to the work itself.* 

As to what concerns the second edition,! it was undertaken at 
the request of some who did not expect that the former would 
be so soon out of print. That which gives me great satisfaction 
is, the acceptance it has met with from many judicious divines 
and others, in North- B ritain ; and I cannot but reckon the 
honour that the learned professors in the university of Aber- 
deen did me, in signifying their approbation of it, much more 
to be desired, than the highest titles that could have been con- 
ferred upon me without it. 

I have nothing farther to trouble the reader with in this pre- 
face; but would only request of him, that, what thoughts soever 
he may entertain concerning the way in which I have endea- 
voured to state and defend some great and important truths, he 
1 -ould search the scriptures, and explain them agreeably to the 
divine })crtections, and not think the worse of the gospel, v/hich 
stands upon a firmer basis, than the weak efforts of fallible men, 
vvho use their best endeavours to defend it. If we had not a 

* .9/1(1 besides the nbm^e-mentioned Indexes there arc no7v added to this edition an 
i^phabetical index to thf xvhole matter's contained in the vork. 

^ And the ^nmr reason mnv be assigned -why this third is now offered to the puhUc. 



THE PREFACE. vii 

surer rule of faith, than the methods of human reasoning, re- 
ligion would be a matter of great uncertainty, and we should 
be in danger of being tossed to andfro^ and carried about -with 
every wind of doctrine. But our best security against this, will 
be our having hearts established with grace, and rightly dis- 
posed to make a practical improvement of what we learn ; and, 
if we are enabled to follow on to know the Lord with minds 
free from prejudice, and, if under a due sense of our weakness^ 
we humbly present our supplications to him, who is able to 
make us wise to salvation, we may then hope to attain to that 
knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus, which shall be atten- 
ded with peace and comfort here, and crowned with blessed- 
ness and glory hereafter. 

May the great God, in whose hand is the life and usefulness 
of all men, succeed, with his blessing, \7hat is humbly offered 
to his service, s© far as it is adapted thereunto, and approved 
of by him, that hereby it may be conducive to the spiritual ad- 
vantage of professing families, and the rising generation. 



THE CONTENTS 



OF THE FIRST VOLUME. 



Quest. I. Of glorifying God, and the enjoyment of 
him. 

WITH what distinction the glorifying and enjoymeJit of God 
may both be said to be marDs chief and highest end. Page 13 

What it is to glorify God ibid 

Hoxv God glorifies himself ibid 

Hoxv creatures glorify hitn 14* 

What it^ is to enjoy God 1 7 

The connexion between glorifying God and the enjoyment of 

him 1 8 

Contentedness to perish^ that God may be glorified, unjustly 
made a mark of grace 19 

To be quickened to duty by a respect to the heavenly glory, no 
sign of a mercenary spirit 20 

Quest, II. Of the Being of a God. 

Reasons -why we should be able to prove this by arguments 21 
The Being of a God may be evinced. 

From the light of nature ibid 

What meant thereby ibid 

How it proves the Being of a God 22 

From the works of creation- 24 

from creatures beloiv man Z% 

from the structure ofmarCs body 33 

from the nature of his soul 34 

from the nature and office of conscience 3S 

from the boundless desires of the soul 37 

From the consent of all natiotis ibid 

Objection, That there have been some speculative Atheists, 

answered 38 

The belief of a God took not its rise from human policy 40 

It was not propagated merely by traditio7i ibid 

From the works of providence 41 

From the foretelling future events 42 

From the provision made for all 43 

ParttQularly for man^s safety 44 



4P THE CONTENTS. 

The Gbjeciions taken from the prosperity of the wicked, an^ 
suuered 45 

Nothing short of revelatiori sitfficient to give a saving discovery 
of God 47 

Quest. III. Of the Holy Scripture. 

The -names given to it 48 

Why called a Testament 50 

Hoxv the want of a written xvord was supplied to the church be- 
fore Moses 52 
Whether the churchy under the Old Testament, understood the 

spiritual meayiing of the laws contained in it 53 

Whether the prophets understood their own predictio7is 54> 

How far the Old Testament is still a rule 56 

How the scriptures are a complete revelation of the will of 

God 58 

The scripture a siifficient rule of faith and obedience 59 

Its properties xis a rule 61 

It is the only rule ' ibid 

Human traditions of no divine authority 62 

The Popish doctrine of them confuted ibid 

The Canon of scripture preserved entire 65 

Js not perverted 66 

Que s T. IV. Of the Divine Authority of the Scriptures. 

In zvhat respects called divine 69 
A divine revelation necessary 71 
Not contrary to God''s perfections ibid 
Inspiratio?i not impossible 72 
The scripture proved to be the word of God 
From the majesty of its style 73 
From the purity of its doctrines ■. 74 
Its holiness considered absolutely ibid 
And as compared zuith other writings 76 
From the harmony of all its parts 78 
Dr, Paley on the genuineness of the scriptures, in a note 79 
Its harmony shexvn in the accomplishment of many predic- 
tions 86 
It doth not contradict itself 87 
Various objections answered 88 
Rides for reconciling seeming contradictions in scripture 94 
Grotius on their authority, in a note 97 
From its scope and design 98 
From the character of the penmen 102 
These were faithful ibid 
They were not imposed on * 106 



THE CONTENTS. iii 

Hoxv they might know they -were under inspiration 108 

They mistook not the deviCs impressions for divitie revela- 
tion 109 
The words as ivell as matter of scripture were given by iyi- 
spiration 110 
From its aiitiquity and preservation 112 
From the testimony of God by miracles ibid 
Two objections answered 114, 115 
By the conviction and conversion of sinners 116 
IIo^o Christians come to a full persuasion of the divinity of 
scripture 118 
7 he inward testimony of the Spirit explained ibid 

Quest. V, VI. The principal matters contained in 

scripture 
Quest. VII. Of the nature and perfections of God. 

Hoxv rve may conceive aright of the divine perfections ibid 
Of the communicable aiid incommunicable perfections of God 122 
Nothing common between God and the creature ibid 

God is a Spirit ; what a Spirit is 123 

Difference between other spiritual substances and God 124 
Independent 124! Infnitely perfect 126 

All-siifficient 127. When this perfection is in effect denied 127 
Eternal 129. His eternal duration not successive 132. How 

the parts of time are attributed to God 133 

Immutable. IVhen immutability is a perfection. Hoxv peculiar 

to God 135. Arguments to prove him so 136 

Incomprehensible 138 

Omnipresent 139, arid Almighttj 140 

Wherein his poxver appears 141 

What things God ca7inot do 142 

The improvement of this subject 143 

Omniscient 145. He knows all future contingencies 147 

Properties of God'' s knoxvledge 149. Its improvement 150 

When it is practically denied^ ibid. 
Wisdom of God infinite 15^ 

Different from knoxvledge ibid 

Wherein it appears ibid 

In Creation 154. Providence IS 5. Redemption^ 156 

In the C07istant government of thq church ibid 

Inferences from God^s wisdom 158 

Holiness of God infnite 159 

What it is^ ibid. Instances of it 160 

His suffering the entrcmce ofsin^ was no refection on it 161 
' Tis the standard of doctrines 1 62 

Instances of doctrines whigh lead to licentimtsness 162, IQ? 



iv 



THE CONTENTS. 



When God's holiness is contemned 16o 

yustice of God infinite 1 64 

Hoxv distinguished from his holiness ibid 

Glory ^ how called a rexvard 167 

Affictions of believers not properly a punishment ibid 

Mercy and grace of God infinite 168 

Difference betiveen goodness^ mercy, grace, and patience 169 

Mercy is either comtno7i or special 1 71 

Grace free ajid sovereign 172 

Discriminating 173. Instances of it, ibid. Afflictions not 

inconsistent xvith it 174 

Leads not to licentiousjicss ibid 

Patience of God, what it is 176 

Whether devils are objects of it ibid 

Instances of God'' s patience 178 

Wherein manifested to the wicked 1 79 

Not inconsistent with justice 181 

How to be improved 183 

By xvhojn it is abused 1 84 

Truth., God is abundant therein 1 86 

Hoxv he is called a God of truth 187 

Faithfulness of God, ibid. No impeacluneni hereof that some 

threatenings have not been executed 188. Nor that some 

promises have not presently been performed 190 

IIoxv this perfection is to be improved 191 

Quest. VIII. Of the Unity of the Godhead. 

How God is styled the living God 194 

Unity of the Godhead proved ibid 

Abemethy 07i that subject, in a note 197 

Was not denied by the xviser Heathen 200 

Inferences from it 202 

Hoxv xve should conceive of it 203 

Different 7nodes used in speaking of the perfections of God 204 

Quest. IX, X, XI. Of the Doctrine of tlie Trinity, 

Calvin on the word Person, iri a note 207 

The doctrine of the highest importance 209 

Hoxv to determijie the importance of a doctrine 211 

What knowledge of it necessary to salvation 213 

It is a great mystery^ 214. What a 7nystery is, ibid. 

It is incomprehensible 216 

Dr. Bates on mysteries, in a note 217 

Objections on this account ansxvered 220 

Whether to receive it be to use zuords without ideas ibid 

Whether the revelation of it be unintelligible 221 



THE CONTENTS. v 

Whether that which is unintelligible be the object of faith 222 

How this doctrine promotes religion 223 

Li what sense revelation is an improvement of the light of 

nature 224 

j^ot contrary to reason^ though above it 226 

When a doctrine is coJitrary to reason ibid 

It is not chargeable with Tritheism 227 

The use of reason in proving doctrines of pure revelation 229 

It cannot be known by the light of nature 230 

How it was made known to Adam ibid 

Whether the heathen knew it 231 

Whitaker on the word Logos used by the jfews, in a 

note " 233 

Trinity, ?iot to be illustrated by similitudes 235 

Rules for interpreting scriptures relating to it 236 

The word Trinity explained 239 

Person, the word explained 239 

The difference between divine and human persons 242 

Sacred Three j iji what respect One 243 

Dr, famieson on the Trinity^ in a note 243 

How their glory equal^ how the same ibid 

Personality of the Son^ 248. Of the Spirit 250 

~ Not metaphorically ascribed to either 252 

Eternal generation of the Son, hoxv understood by many 259 

Another vxethod of accounting for it 261 

This account thereof proved 264 

Scriptures relating to Chrisfs sonship explained , 2T4> 

Christ's sonship as Mediator, considered 276 

Another view of the subject, m a note 279 

Procession of the Spirit, how understood by ma7iy, 260. What 

it is 261 

The scripture doctrine of it 280 

Oeconomy of the sacred Three explained 291 

How distinct works are ascribed to them 292 

The Deity of the Son proved 

From his divine names 295 

Jehovah God^s incommunicable name ' 296 

Never given to creatures 297 

It is not applied to angels ' 301 

Chrises Deity proved from it 302 

God an^ Lord, hoxv applied in scripture 304 

Christ's Deity proved thereby 306 

This argued from 1 Tim. iii. 16. 311 

And from Acts xx. 28. 313. Rom. ix. 5. ibid. 

From 1 John v. 20. 315. Isa. ix. 6. 317 

From Titus ii. 13. ibid, John xx. 2fi. 319 

When the word God is used absolutely 321 

Its mea?ung when so used 321 



vi THE CONTENTS. 

In xvltat sense Christ is styled God by the Socinians 322 

From the ascriptio?i of the divine nature to him in Col. ii. 9. 325 

In Philip, ii. 6. this explained and defended 326 

Gemmieness of 1 John v. 7. defended 329 

From his conference with the Jews 335 

Fro7n his Attributes 342 
Eternity^ 343. Immutability^ ibid. 

Omnipresence 345 

This proved from John iii. 13. 347 

Omniscience^ 349. Objections answered 350 

OmnipoteJicy 352 

From his glorious titles 353 

From his work of creation 357" 

The Socinian account thereof 359 

Christ no instrument in creation 361 

Hoxv the Father made the world by him 362 

3Ien onhj moral instruments in miracles 365 

From his works of providence 366 

Christ the Governor of all things 367 

From his acting- as Judge 368 

Subserviency of his kingdom to the Father 371 

Christ as Mediator beloxv^ yet equal with the Father 374 
Inferiority of Christy how to be understood in scripture 376 

From the rvorship paid him 377 

Christ the Object sf religious worship 379 

From Baptism 382 

From the doxologies applied to him 386 
Anti-Trinitarians differ about the worship due to Christ 388 

Right to divine worship is incommunicable 389 

Objections against the deity of Christ answered 391 

Dr. Priestley'' s disingenuity^ in a i\ote C97 

Of the divinity of the Holy Ghost 398 
His divinity proved 

From Acts v. 3, 4. 400 

From his divine Attributes 404 

From his divine works 405 

Such works performed by him 407 

From the xuorship given to him 408 

Objections answered 410 

Practical inferences from the doctrine of the Trinity 414 

Quest. XII, XIII. Of God's Decrees. 

Some things premised in general 4-17 

Dissuasives from prejudices 419 

The general method laid down 421 

J/i what sense God fore-ordained all tlwigs 422 

That he did so, proved 424 

Dr. Smalley on the origin of sin (vide p. 532) 425 



THE CONTENTS. vii 

Purpose of God free^ wise, holy 432 

J^oxv it re7idtrs salvation necessary 4{S'i 

It is unchangeable 481 

RepeJitance, how ascribed to God 483 

Predestination, the xvord explained 433 

Consequences of denying it 499 

Election, the word explained 434 

Hoiv used in the Old Testament 438 

Hoxv in the Nezu . 441 

Fathers, their sense about this doctrine 507 

Election to salvation asserted i?i scripture 442 

Churches, how styled elect 443 

Chosen, part of mankind -were so 447 

These styled a Remnant 449 

A Remnant chosen out of the Jews 450 

Men elected to sanctijication as well as salvation 461 

Acts xiii. 48. explained and defended 463 

Men chosen in Christ 467 

Supra-lapsarian and Sub-lapsarian schemes differ 446 

Proofs of the doctrine of Election 

from God''s fore-knowledge 452 

from his giving the means of grace 454 

Jacob loved, Esau hated, explained 456 

Objections answered 458 

"^he opposite doctririe, how defended 501 

Properties of Election 469 

Misrepresentations of it answered 465 

^Reprobation, ho-w to be explained 486 

Preterition a branch of it (vide the note, 529) 488 

Predamnation considered from Jude, ver. 4. 491 
Rom. ix. 22. and xi. 7 — 10. explained 492 
2 Thes. ii. 11, 12. Psal. Ixxxi. 12. John xii, 39, 40. ex- 
plained 494 

Wicked, how made for the day of evil . 495 

W ill of God secret and revealed 471 

Is free, sovereign, and unconditional 476 

Its absoluteness 477' 
That it is conditional, cannot be proved from scripture 480 

Conditional propositions, hoxv understood there 479 

How God xvill have all saved 501 

Expectation of God not disappointed bij the will of man 505 

God not really disappointed, grieved, or resisted 506 

Bounds of life fixed by h i?n 508 

Stoical fate, how it differs from God^s decrees 516 

Objections against Election answered 507 

Practical improvement of it 526 

JDr. Williams 9n election, in 9. note 529 



THE INTRODtCTlON. 



TiEFORE rue enter on our present undertakings xve shall pre^^ 
^ mise afeuo things leading- to the subject matter thereof; and 
that rue may begin "with xvhat is most obvious^ let it be considered^ 
I, That it is a dutij incumbent on all xvho profess the Chris- 
tian name^ to be -well acquainted zvith those great doctrines on 
zvhich our faith^ hope^ and -worship are founded ; for ^ -without 
the knowledge hereof xve ?nust necessarily be at a loss as to the 
rvay of salvation^ xuhich none has a right to prescribe^ but he 
who is the author thereof, (a) 



a " C«RisTiANiTT," it hath been said, *' is not founded m ai'gnment." If it were 
onlj' meaiit by these .words, that the relig-ion of Jesus could not, by the sing-le aid 
of reasoning, produce its full effect upon the heart ; eveiy true ChnstiiiU would 
cheerfully subscribe to them. No arg^lments unaccompanied by the iiifliiencesoi' 
the Holy Spirit ; can convert the toid from sin to God ; though even to such con- 
version, arguments are, by the agency of the Spirit, rendeied subservient. Again^ 
if we were to understand by this aphorism, that the principles of oiu- religion 
coidd never have been discovered, by the natural and unassisted faculties of man ; 
this position, I presume would be as little disputed as the former. But if, on tlie 
contrarj', under the cover of an ambiguous expression, it is intended to insinuate, 
that those principles, from then- very natm-e, can admit no rational evidence ot" 
titeir truth, (and this, by the way, is the only meiining which can avail oiu* an- 
tagonists) the gospel, as well as common sense, loudly reclaims against it. 

Tlie Lord Jesus Christ, the autlior of our religion, often tu-gued, both with his 
disciples and with his adversaries, as with reasonable men, on the principles ot 
reason, without this faculty, he well knew, they could not be susceptible either 
of religion or of law. He ai-gued from prophecy, and the conformity of the event 
to the prediction. Luke xxiv. 25, &c. John v. 39, & 46. He argued from the tes- 
timony of John the Baptist, who was generally acknowledged to be a prophet. John 
V. 32, & 33. He argued from the mu-acles which he himself performed, John v. 36. 
X. 25, 37, 38. xiv. 10, 11. as uncontrovertible evidences, that God Almiglity ope- 
rated by him, and had sent him. He espostulates with his enemies, that they did 
not use their reason on this subject. Why, says he, even of iiourselves judge ye nol 
■what is right ? Luke xii. 57. In like manner we are called upon by the apostles of 
our Lord, to act the part of wise men m\A. judge impartially of what they say. 1 Cor. 
X. 15. Tliose who do so, are highly commended, for the candour and prudence 
they discover, in an affair of so gi-eat consequence. Acts xvii. 11. We are even 
commanded, to be ahoays ready to give an ans-uvr to eveiy mtin that asketh us a rea- 
son of our hope ; 1 Pet. iii. 15. in meekness to instruct them that oppose themselves ; 
2 Tim. ii. 25. a7id earnestly to contend for thefuiih -which -was once delivered to the 
saints. Jude 3. God has neither in natural nor revealed religion, kfi himsef-oith' 
out a -tfitness ; but has in both given moral and external evidence, sufficient to 
convince the impartial, to silence tlie gainsayer, and to render inexcusable the 
atheist and the unbeliever. This evidence it is our duty to attend to, and candid- 
ly to examine. We must prove all things, as we are expressly enjoined in holy 
writ, if we would ever hope to holdfast that ishich is tjooii, 1 Thess. v. 21. 

Ci^rraiLL 

Vol. L B 



The INTRODUCTIOK 

II. This knowledge of divine truth must be derived from the 
holy scriptures^ ivhich are the only fountain of spiritual rvisdom^ 
whereby we are instructed in those things that could have been 
known no other way^ but by divine revelation, 

III. It will be of singular use for us not only to knoiv the 
doctrines that are contained in scripture ; but to observe their 
connexion and dependence on one another^ and to digest them hi" 
to such a method^ that subsequent truths may give light to them 
that zvent before ; or to lay them dotvn in such a zuay^ that the 
whole scheme of religion may be comprised in a narroxu com' 
pass^ and^ as it xuere^ beheld with one viexo^ which xvill be a very 
great help to memory : and this is what zue call a system of di- 
vine truths^ or a methodical collection of the chief articles of our 
religiofij adapted to the capacity of those who need to be taught 
the first principles of the oracles of God : and if they are de- 
signed to give the world a specimen of that form of sound words^ 
xvhich the church thinks itself obliged to holdfast^ and stedfast- 
ly to adhere to^ then xve call it a confession of faith ; or, if di' 
gested into questions and answers, xve call it a catechism. And 
though systems of divinity, confessiois of faith, and catechisniSy 
are treated xuith contempt, instead of better argutnents, by 771 any 
xvho are no friends to the doctrines xvhich they contain, and who 
appear to be partial in their resentment, in as viuch as they do 
not dislike those treatises xvhich are agreeable to their own- 
sentiments, by xvhatever ttame they are called ; yet xve are bound 
to conclude that the labours of those xvho liave been happy in the 
sense they have given of scripture, and the rnethod in xvhich they 
have explained the doctrines thereof, ifi xv hat form soever they 
have been, are a great blessing to us ; though we are far from 
concluding that they are of equal authority with scripture, or 
that every xvord xvhich they use is infallible ; nor do xve regard 
them cniy farther than as they are agreeable to, or suficiently 
proved from scripture. 

IV. Confessions of faith and catechisms are not to be reckoned 
a novel invention, or not consonant to the scripture rule, since 
they are nothing else but a peculiar xvay of preaching or instruct- 
ing us in divine truths. Therefore, since scripture lays down no 
certain invariable ride concerning this matter, the same covimand 
that xvarrants preaching the xvord in any method, includes the 
explaining of it, as occasion serves, in a catechetical 071c. 

V. As there are many excellent bodies of divinity printed in 
our oxvn and foreign languages, and collections of sermons o?i 
the principal heads thereof; so there are various catechisms, or 
methodicai summaries of divine truths jxvhich,xvhen consonant to 
scripture, are of great advantage to all Christians, whether el- 
der or younger. 

VL The catechisms composed by the Assembly of Divines at 



THE INTRODUCTION. 

JVestminster, are esteemed as not inferior to any that are extant,, 
either in our own or foreign langvcges^ the doctrines therein 
contained being of the highest importance^ and consonant to 
scripture; and the method in rvhich they are laid doxvn is so 
agreeable^ that it maij serve as a directory for the ranging our 
ideas of the commoti heads of divinity in such an order,, that 
ruhat occurs under each of them may be reduced to its proper 
place. It is the larger of them thatxve have attempted to explain 
and regulate our method by ; because it contabus several heads of 
divinity not touched on in the shorter. Aiid if in any particular 
instajice,, xue are obliged to recede from the common mode of speak- 
ings {though it is to be hoped not from the common faith,, 
once delivered to the saints J xue submit our reasoning to the 
judgment of those xuho are disposed to pardon less ttiistaies,, and 
improve xvhat comes xvith su^cient evidence to the best purposes. 
The xvork indeed,, is large,, but the vast variety of subjects 
zvill render it more tolerable ; the form in xvhich it appears is 
sometohat differing from that in xvhich it xvas first delivered^ in 
a public audience^ though that 7nay probably be no disadvantage 
to it,, especially since it is rather designed to be read in families 
than co?mnitted to 77ie?nory,, and repeated by different persons,, as 
it has been. The plainness of the .style may contribute to its 
usefulness ; audits being less cmbarassed with scholastic terms 
than some co7itroversial writings are,, 77iay re7ider it more i7itel- 
ligible to private Christians,, xvhose instructio7i a7id advantage is 
designed thereby. It xvoidd be too great a va7iity to expect that 
it should pass throxigh the xvorld xvithoiit that ce7isure which is 
co77imo7i to all atte^npts of the like nature^ si7ice me«V se)7ti77ients 
in divi7uty differ as much as their faces ; and S07ne are not dis- 
posed to xveigh those argU7nents that are brought to support any 
scheme of doctrine^ xvhich differs fro7n xvhat they have before re- 
ceived. Hoxvever^ the xvork C077ies forth xvith this adva7itage^ that 
it has already conflicted xvith some of the difficulties it is like to 
tneet xvith,, as xvell as bee7\ favoured xvith some success,, and there- 
fore the event hereof is left i}i his harid xvhose cause a7id truth 
is endeavoured to be inatntained. 



TIIE 

DOCTRINES 

OF THE 

CHRISTIAN RELIGION 

EXPLAINED AND DEFENDED. 



OF MAN'S CHIEF END. 

Quest. I. What is the chief and highest end of man P 

Answ. Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and 
fully to enjoy him for ever. 

1. TT is supposed, in this answer, that every intelligent crea- 
X ture, acting as such, designs some end, which excites en- 
deavours to attain it. 

2. The ends for which we act, if warrantable, may be consi- 
dered as to their degree of excellency, and, in proportion to it, 
are to be pursued by proper means conducing thereto. 

3. There is one that may be termed the chief and highest 
end, as having an excellency and tendency to make us blessed 
above all others : this consists, as it is obsen ed in this answer, 
in the glorifying and eternal enjoyment of God, the fountain of 
blessedness. 

If it be enquired with what propriety these may both be call- 
ed chief and highest, the answer is obvious and easy, viz. That 
the former is absolutely so, beyond which nothing more excel- 
lent or desirable can be conceived ; the latter is the highest or 
best in its kind, which, notwithstanding, is referred, as a means 
leading to the other ; and both these ends, which, with this dis- 
tinction, we call chief and highest, are to be particularly consi- 
dered by us, together with the connexion that there is between 
them, (fl'.) 

I. We are to consider what it is to glorify God. In order 
to our understanding of this, let it be premised, 



a He who glorifies God intentionally, tiicreby promotes liis ovra happiness. 
Ovvc t iijoying God is gloriiying him. i'lie two objects coalesce. Vide note ou 
page 19. ■' 



14 or MAN'S CHIEr END. 

1. That there is a great difference between God's glorifying 
himself .and our glorifying him ; he glorifies himself whcu he 
demonstrates or shews forth his glory ; we glorify him by as- 
cribing to him the glory tiiat is his due : even as the sun dis- 
covers its brightness by its rays, and the eye beholds it. God 
glorifies himself, by furnishing us with matter for praise ; we 
glorify him when we offer praise, or give unto him the glory due 
to his name. 

2. Creatures are said to glorify God various ways : some 
things do it only objectively, as by them, angels and men arc 
led i;o glorify him ; thus the heavens declare his glory ^ Psal. xix. 
1. The same might be said of all other inanimate creatures 
which glorify God, by answering the end of their creation, 
though they know it not : but intelligent creatures, and parti- 
cularly men, are said to glorify God actively ', and this they do 
by admiring and adoring his divine perfections : these, as in- 
comprehensible, are the object of admiration ; and accordingly 
the apostle admires the divine wisdom, Rom. xi. 2>o. the depth 
of the riches^ both of the xv'isdom and knoxoledge of God ; hoio 
unsearchable are his judgments^ and his xuays past fnding out! 
and as they are divine, so they are the object of adoration : God 
is to be admired in all the displays of his relative or manifesta- 
tive glory ; and his work ruhich men behold^ is to be magnified^ 
Job xxxvi. 24. But he is to be adored more especially for his 
essential perfections. 

We are to glorify God, by recommending, proclaiming, and 
setting forth his excellency to others. What we have the high- 
est value for, we desire that others may have the same regard to 
it vrith ourselves : thus it is observed by the CA'^angelist, that 
when the disciples received their first conviction that Jesus 
was the Messiah, they Imparted this to others ; as Andi'ew to 
Peter, and Philip to Nathanael, John i. 41, 45. so the woman 
of Samaria being convinced hereof, endeavoured to persuade 
all her neighbours to believe in him, as she did, John iv. 28, 29. 
Thus we glorify God by making mention of his name with re- 
verence, proclaiming his goodness with thankfulness, and in- 
yiting others, as the Psalmist does, Psal. xxxiv. 8. to taste and 
see that he is good. 

But since this is a very comprehensive duty including in it 
the whole of practical religion, it may be considered under the 
following particulars. 

1. We glorify God by confessing and taking shame to our- 
selves for all the sins we have committed, which is interpreta- 
tively to acknowledge the holiness of his nature, and of his law, 
which the apostle asserts to be holy^just^ and good^ Rom. vii. 
12, This Joshua advises Achivn to do; to give glory to God^ 
by making coifcssion to him, Jo§h. vii. 19. And thus the pcni- 



OF man's chief ENP. 15 

teftt thief, who was crucified with our Saviour, glorified God, 
by confessing that he received the due rexvard of his deeds^ Luke 
xxiii. 40, 41. So didthe Levites, in their prayer recordea by 
Nehemiah, when they said to God, Tho'i art just in all that i* 
brought upon us, for thou hast done rig-hty but xve have done 
•wickedly, Neh. ix. Q>Z, 

2. By loving and delighting in him above all things, which 
is to act as those who own the transcendent amiableness oi his 
perfections, as the object of their highest esteem. Thus the 
Psalmist says, Psal. Ixxiii. 25. Whom have I in heaven but thee ; 
and there is none, or nothing, upon earth, that I desire besides 
thee* 

3. By believing and trusting in him, committing all our con- 
cerns, both in life and death, for time and eternity, into his 
hands : thus Abraham is said to be strong in faith, giving- 
glory to God, Rom. iv. 20. And the apostle Paul, 2 Tim. i. 
12. to have C07n7nitted his all to him. 

4. By a fervent zeal for his honour ; and that either for the 
honour of his truth and gospel, when denied, disbelieved, or 
perverted ; or for the honour of his holiness, or any of his other 
perfections, when they are reflected on, or reproached, either 
by the tongues or actions of those who set themselves against 
him. 

5. By improving our talents, and bringing forth fruit in pro- 
portion to the means we enjoy ; herein, says our Saviour, is 
my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, John xv. 8. 

6. By walking humbly, thankfully, and chearfully before 
God. Humility acknowledges that infinite distance which is 
between him and us ; retains a due sense of our own unworthi- 
ness of all we have or hope for ; and owns every thing we re- 
ceive to be the gift of grace ; By the grace of God, savs the 
apostle, / am what I am, 1 Cor. xv. 10. Thankfulness gives 
him the glory, as the author of every mercy ; and accordingly 
sets a due value on it, in that respect. And to walk chearfully 
before him, is to recommend his service as most agreeable, 
whereby we discover that we do not repent that we were en- 
gaged therein J which is what the Psalmist intends, when he 
says, Psal. c. 2. Serve the Lord with glad?iess. 

7. By heavenly-mindedness ; when we desire to be with him 
to behold his glory. To which we must add, that all this is to be 
done in the name of Christ, our great Mediator, and by strengtli 
derived from him. 

8. As Ave are to glorify God, by yielding obedience to his 
commanding will, as in the aforesaid instances, so we are to do 
it by an entire submission to his disposing will ; particularly, 
when under afflictive dispensations of providence, we must own 
Lis sovereignty and right to da what he zvll! zvith its as hi') o'r\, 



16 or man's tUlLI END. 

Matth. XX. 15. and that these afflictions are infinitely less than 
our iniquities deserve^ Ezra ix. 13. And we must adore his 
wisdom and goodness in trying our graces hereby, and dealing 
%Fith us in such a way as is needful, and that only for a season^ 
1 Pet. i. 6. And we are to own his goodness in suiting our 
strength to our burdens, and over-ruling all this for our spiri- 
tual advantage. It also consists in an easy, patient, and con- 
tented frame of spirit, without the least murmuring or repining 
thought ; concluding, that whatever he does is tvell done, Psal. 
cxix. 65. And, which is something more, in rejoicing that we 
are counted worthy to suffer the loss of all things, yea, even of 
life itself, if called to it, for his sake ; of which we have various 
instances in scripture. Acts v. 41. Heb. x. 34. Acts xx. 24. 

Moreover, we ought to glorify God in all the natural, civil, 
and religious actions of life, which are to be consecrated or de- 
voted to him. We enjoy the blessings of life to no purpose if 
we do not live to the Lord, and thankfully acknowledge that we 
receive them all from his hand ; and whatever the calling be, 
wherewith we are called, we must therein abide with him, and 
see that we have his warrant to engage in it, and expect success 
from his blessing attending it, or else it will be to no purpose. 
Thus says Moses, It is the Lord thy God that giveth thee pozver 
to get xvealth, Deut. viii. 18. And, in all our dealings with 
men, we are to consider ourselves as under the inspection of the 
all-seeing eye of God, to whom we are accountable for all we 
do, and should be induced hereby, to exercise ourselves always 
to keep consciences void of offence towards God and man. 

As for religious duties, wherein we have more immediately 
to do with God, we are to glorify him, by taking up a profession 
of religion in general, as being influenced by his authority, en- 
couraged by his promised assistance, and approving ourselves to 
him, as the searcher of hearts : and we must take heed that we 
do not rest in an outward form or shew of godliness, without 
the power thereof; or in having a name to live without a prin- 
cipal of spiritual life, by which we may be enabled to put forth 
living and spiritual actions agreeable thereunto : and all these 
religious duties must be performed by faith, whereby we de- 
pend on Christ, our great Mediator, both for assistance and 
acceptance J by which means we glorify him, as the^ fountain of 
all grace, in whom alone both our persons and services are ac- 
cepted in the sight of God, and redound to his glory. And 
this is to be done at all times ; so that when our thoughts are 
not directly conversant about any of the divine perfections, as it 
often happens, when we are engaged in some of the more mi- 
nute, or indifferent actions of life ; yet we are to glorify him 
habitually, as having our hearts right with him ; so that what- 
e\ or »ve do may refer ultimately to his glory. As every step 



()F man's chief ElfPe IT 

the traveller takes is toward his journey's end, though it may 
not be every moment in his thoughts ; so the less. importa|U 
actions ot life should be subservient to those that are of greater 
consequence, in which the honour of God and religion is nxore 
immediately concerned ; in which sense we may be said tp 
glorify him therein. 

Thus having considered, that it is our indispensible duty to 
rnalce the glory of God our highest end in all our actions, we 
might farther add, as a motive to enforce it, that God is th? 
first cause of ail things, and his own glory was the end he den 
signed in all his works, whether of creation or providence : andi 
it is certain, that this is the most excellent end we can propose 
to ourselves ; therefore the most valuable actions of life ought 
to be referred to it, and our hearts most set upon it ; otherwise 
we act below the dignity of our nature ; and, while other crea- 
tures, designed only to glorify him objectively, answer the end 
for which they weje made, we, by denying him that tribute of 
praise which is due from us, abuse our superior facilities, apd 
live in vain. 

II. The next thing to be considered is what it is to enjoy 
God. 

1. This supposes a propriety in, or claim to himj as our God. 
We cannot be said to enjoy that which we have no right or 
claim to, as one man cannot be said to enjoy an estate which 
belongs to another ; so God must be our God in covenant, or we 
cannot enjoy him ; and that he is so, with respect to all that 
fear him, is evident, inasmuch as he gives them leave to say, 
Psal. xlviii. 14. This God is our God; and, Psal, Ixyiu 6, Go'd^ 
even our God^ shall bless us. 

2» To enjoy God, is to have a special gracious communion 
with him, to converse or walk with him, and to delight in him; 
as vv^hen we can say, 1 John i. 3. Truly our fellozvship is xvith 
the Father-, and xvith his Son Jesus Christ, This enjo}'ment of 
God, or communion with him, is, 

(1.) That which we are blessed with in this world, which is 
but imperfect, as we know and love him but in part, and our 
communion with him is often intenaipted and weakened,, 
through the prevalency of indwelling sm : and that joy and 
delight which arises from thence is often clouded and sullied ; 
and, at best, we enjoy him here but in a mediate way, in and 
under his ordinances, as agreeable to this present state. 

(2.) Believers shall enjoy him perfectly and immediately in 
heaven, without intermission or abatement, and that for ever ; 
this is called. Seeing him as he is, 1 John iii. 2. and being xvith 
him where he zs, to behold his glory, John xvii. 24. And in 
order hereto, their souls shall be made capable or receptive 
hereof, by the rem<ival not only of all sinful bvt natural imper 

You I. C 



Id OF man"'s chief eno. 

fections, and shall be more enlarged, as well as have brighter 
discoveries of die divine glory : and this shall be attended with 
a perfect freedom from all the consequences of sin ; such as 
sorrow, divine desertion, and the many evils that attend us in 
this present life ; as well as from all temptations to it. So that 
their happiness shall be confirmed and secured to them, and 
that with this advantage, that it shall be impossible for them to 
be dispossessed of it. This is certainly the most desirable end, 
next to the glory of God, that can be intended or pursued by 
us.(^) 

III. This leads us to consider the connexion that there is 
between our glorifying God and enjoyment of him. God has 
joined these two together, so that one shall not be attained 
without the other. It is the highest presumption to expect to 
be made happy with him for ever, without living to his glory 
here. For in as much as heaven is a state of perfect blessed- 
ness, they, who shall hereafter be possessed of it, must be train- 
ed up, or made meet for it ; which is the grand design of all the 
means of grace. How preposterous would it be to suppose, 
that they, who have no regard to the honour of God here, shall 
be crowned with gloiy, honour, immortality, and eternal life, in 
his presence hereafter ! Therefore a life of holiness is abso- 
lutely necessary to the heavenly blessedness ; and since these 
two are so connected together, they who experience the one, 
shall not fail of the other ; for this is secured to them by the 
faithfulness of God, who has promised to give grace and glory, 
Psal. Ixxxiv. 11. Therefore, he 7vho begins a good rvork in 
them^ will perform it, Phil. i. 6. and give them the end of their 
faith, even the salvation of their souls, 1 Pet. i. 8. 

From the connexion that there is between our glorifying and 
enjoying God, we may infer, 

1 . That it is a very preposterous thing for any one to assign 
this aB a mark of grace, that persons must be content to perish 
eternally, that God may be glorified. It is true, it is alleged ift 
favour of this supposition, that Moses, and the apostle Paul, 
seem to give countenance to it ; one by saying, Exod. xxxii. 32. 
If thou xvilt fcrgii^e their sin; and, if 7iot, blot ?ue, I pray thee, 
cut of the book "which thou hast written ; the other, Rom. ix. 3, 
I could ivish that mijself rvcre accursed from Christ, for my 
brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh. 

But to this it may be answered,- that Moses, in desiring to be 
blotted out of the book which God had wriuen, must not be 
supposed to be willing to perish eternally for Israel's sake ; but he 
'i '■" ■ ■ ' ■ — 

(6) The ansv/cr connected wllJi this qiie^jtion makes tlic glorifying and enjoj'- 
mentbut one end; and thus the enjoyment is supposed to consist in the glorifying 

God/ 



OF man's chief enC. 19 

is content to be blotted out of the book of the living, or to have 
his name no more remembered on earth ; and seems to decline 
the honour which God had offered him, when he said, Exod. 
xxxii. 10. Let me alone^ that. I maij consume them ; and I will 
make of thee a great nation ; he desires not the advancement of 
his own family, if Israel must cease to be a people, to whom 
God had promised to be a God. 

As for the apostle Paul's wish, it is either, as some suppose, 
a rash and inconsiderate flight of zeal for God, and so not war- 
rantable, though in some respects proceeding from a good prin- 
ciple ; or rather, as I humbly conceive the meaning is, he could 
wish himself accursed from Christ, so far as is consistent with 
his love; or he is content* to be under the external marks of 
God's displeasure ; or deprived of the comfortable sensation of 
his love, or many of those fruits and effects thereof, which the 
believer enjoys in this life : for I cannot, in the least, think he 
desires to be deprived of a real interest in it, or to be eternally 
separated from Christ, on any condition whatsoever. (c) 

- ■^- ' - ■ >- r=; 

(c) It is not probable that the idea of a buok of life, whicli is not to be under- 
stood literally, was at all in use in tlie ila} s of Moses. The term mx'^f^nv used 

" by Paid is not In-pothetical, but affirmative, and in the past tense, / clid wish, or 
TSither I teas inshin^ to he separated from Clu-ist, The tmth of this assertion 
no one, who is acquainted with his history, can doubt ; for he had been a per- 
secutor. Sucli a wish, made after he was a subject of saving grace, would have 
been unnatui'al, irrelevant, impious and impossible. It has been iievertheless, 
zealously contended by some learned and pious modern divines that, " the be- 
nevolent person is disposed, and willing to give up, and relinquish his own inter- 
est and happiness, when inconsistent with the public good, or the greatest good- 
of the whole."* By benevolence they meui love to being in g-cneral, without re- 
gard to any excellency in that being, " unless mere existence"! be such. In this 
they place all virtue, and all religion. And that they may the more clearly dis- 

i tinguish this species of love from that of complace?icy and gratitude, in whicli the 
partv ever has his eye upon his own advantage, they usually adopt the phrase 
disinterested benevoleixe, yet not wholly discai-ding- the idea of tlie party's own 
interest, but viewing it only on the general scale with that of all otlier Iwings, 

True holiness consists in a disposition, and suitable expressions of it, in con- 
formity to the revealed will of God ; so far as this accords with the good of the 
whole, such benevolence wdl run parallel with holiness ; but eveiy attempt to 
substitute any other rule of action or gi-ound of obligation than the authoritatively 
expressed will of God, approaches the crime of idolatry. It is certainly a veiy 
high stand we assume, when we jirofess to pass by all the amiableness, and ex- 
cellency of the divine character ; and all his goodness, and mercy to us ; and to 
love his I'ting only togetlier with created existences, with the sMne independent, 
and dignified love of benevolence, whicli he exercises towards his helpless crea- 
tures. All the displays of his perfections and compassions seem designed rather 
to elicit the affections of complacency and gratitude. That the advjmtages of re- 
ligion m this world, and the next maybe sought from selfish, aiul mercenary 
views is a lamentable truth ; but because cjun^il minds may find their own des- 
truction in aiming at the blessings which the spiritual only can enjoy, this is no 
reason wherefoi-e the saints should not find tlK-ir ultimate interest to accompany 
their duty in every instance. Accordingly, for their encour.igcment, the bles- 
sings of peace, and spiritual consolations liere, and of eternal happiness, are citi. 

* Dr. Ho*Kj!»s. f President Edwaubs. 



$d tH*. BEtKG or tobt 

^. Since the eternal enjo}Tnent of God is one great end 
which we ought to have in view, it is no sign of a mercenary 
spirit to have an eye to the heavenly glory, to quicken us to 
duty; seeing this is promised by God to those who are faith* 
ful^ thus, Psal. Ixxxiii. 24. Thsu s halt guide vie -with thy couiv- 
ael\ and qfterxvard receive ine to glory. The like promises We 
have in many other scriptures, which are designed to excite 
our desire and hope of this blessedness ', therefore the exercise 
of these graces, from such motives, is far from being unlawful : 
yea, it is commended in the saints, who are said, Heb. xi. 16. 
to desire a better country^ that is^ an heavenly. And Moses is 
commended for having the recompence of reward in v'\tw^-w\\tn 
he preferred the reproach of Christ before the treasures of 
Eg-ypt^ ver. 26. 

Nevertheless, when this respect to future blessedness is war- 
rantable, it must be considered as an expedient for our glorify- 
ing God, while we behold his glory ; and when we consider it 
as a reward, we must not look upon it as what is merited by 
our sen'ice, or conferred in a way of debt, but as a reAvard of 
'^ace, given freely to us, though founded on the merits of 
Christ* 



^ueST. II. How doth it appear that there is a Godf 

Aksw. The very light of nature in man, and the works of 
God, declare that there is a God ; but his word and Spirit 
onl}', do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for 
their salvation. 

BEFORE we enter on the proof of this important doctrine, 
let it be premised, that we ought to be able to prove by 
arguments, or give a reason of our belief that there is a God. 

' ' ' . ■ .. ■ ■ ■...■,. ' ■ I 

bited to their view in glowing colours. Bat tiiis would not liave been done- if it 
were essential to the character of theirjcve, that they shfuld be willing to be 
separated from Christ. That we have by nature a fe:u-ful propensity to earthly 
good, which is xam, illusory, disgusting and debasing, must be acknowledged ; 
and that we are therefore required to den^ our natural selves is known unto eveiy 
christian. But it by no means results, that because we m<;st turn away from the 
temptations of temporal things, we may not aspire to those blessings wh;ch are 
spiritual and eternal. God himself is eternally happy in his onim neJf complacency^ 
and" has encouraged us to expect everlasting happuiess from the sanic source. 
Jesus Chi'ist, whose benevolence towards us is an eternal appeal to ouxgratitvdey 
U'hich supposes a regard to our own interest ; in suffering' death hiid respect also 
lo the joy which was set before him, aiid shall see of the ti"avail of his soul and 
shall be satisfied. Love is essential tq duty, without which it is forced, and can- 
Cot be deemed obedience in the view of him who searches the heart. This has 
beep noticed by the Saviour, but he has omitted those distinctions, whlcli are 
accounted so important in modem times ; yet his doctrines are not k'ss spiritual, 
than ours after we have sublimated the gospel to tlie highest pitch of refinement. 



THt ISIKG OF GOD. ti^ 

1. Because it is the foundation of all natural and revealed 
religion ; and therefore it must not be received merely by tradi- 
tion, as though there were no other reason why we believe it, 
but because others do so, or because we have been instructed 
herein from our childhood ; for that is unbecoming the digi^iif,'' 
and importance of the subject, and would be an instance of 
great stupidity, especially seeing we have so full and demon- 
strative an evidence thereof, taken from the whole frame of 
nature ; in which there is nothing but what affords an argu- 
ment to confirm our belief that there is a God. 

2. There is a great de;il of atheism in our hearts, by reason 
whereof we are prone sometimes to call in question the being, 
perfections, and providence of God. To which we may also 
add, that the Devil frequently injects atheistical thoughts into 
our minds ; which is a great affliction to us, and renders it ne- 
cessary that we should use all possible means for our establish- 
ment in this great truth. 

3. The abounding of atheism in the world,, and the boldness 
of many in arguing against this trutii, renders it necessar}- that 
we should be able to defend it, that we may stop the mouths of 
blasphemers, and so plead the cause of God, and assert his 
being and perfections against those that deny them ; as Psal. xiv. 
1. Thefool^ xvho saith in his heart there is no God. 

4. This will greatiy tend to establish our faith in those com- 
fortable truths that arise from our interest in him, and give- us a 
more solid foundation for our hope, as excited by his promises, 
which receive all their force and virtue from those perfections 
which are implied in the idea of a God. 

5. This will make us set a due value on his works, by which 
We are led to conclude his eternal power and Godhead, and so 
to admire him in them. Job xxxvi. 24. Remcynber that thou 
magnify his work^ which men behold. 

We shall now consider those arguments mentioned in this 
.answer, by which the being of a God may be evinced ; as, 

I. From the light of nature in man, by which we understand 
that reason which he is endowed with, whereby he is distin- 
guished from, and rendered superior to, all other creatures in 
this lower world, whereby he is able to obsen^e the connexion 
of things, and their dependence on one another, and infer those 
consequences which may be deduced from thence. These rea- 
soning powers, indeed, are very much sullied, depraved, and 
weakened, by our apostacy from God, but not wholly oblitera- 
ted ; so that there are some remains thereof, which are com- 
mon to all nations, whereby, without the help of special reve- 
lation it may be known that there is a God. 

But this either respects the principle of reasoning, which we 
trere born with, upon the account whereof infants are called in- 



2^ THE BEING OF COD* 

telligent creatures ; or the exercise thereof in a discursive Htay, 
in the adult, who only are capable to discern this truth, which 
they do more or less, in proportion to their natural capacity, 
as they make advances in the knowledge of other things. Now 
for the proof of the being of a God from the light of nature, 
let the following propositions be considered in their respective 
order. 

1. There hath been, for many ages past, a succession of 
creatures in the world, (d) 

2. These creatures could not make themselves, for that 
which is nothing cannot act ; if it makes itself, it acts before it 



(rf) "As for our o-wn existence, we perceh'e it so plainly, and so ceit:xinly,tl»at 
it neither needs, nor is capable of any proof. For nothing can be more evident to 
us than our o^^ti existence; Ithinic, /reason, I feel pleasure and pain: can any of 
these be more evident to me, than my own existence ? If I doubt of all other 
things, that very doubt makes me perceive my own existence, and will not sutil-i* 
me to doubt of that. For if I know I feel pain, it is evident I have as certain per- 
ception of my own existence, as of the existence of the pain I feel : or, if I know 
Idoiibt, I have as certain perception of the existence of the thing doubting, as of 
that thought which I call doubt. Experience then convinces us, that ive have 
an intuitive hnoidedge of our oTini existence, and an internal infallible perception 
that we ai-e. la every act of sensation, reasoning or thinking, we are conscious to 
ourselves of our own being, and, in this matter, come not short of the highest de- 
gree 0? certainty." 

" In the next place, man knows by an intuitive certainty, that bare nothing can 
no more produce any real being, than it can be equal to two right angles. If a man 
knows not that non-entitv, or the absence of all being, cannot be equal to two 
right angles, it is impossible he should know any demonstration in Euclid. If, 
thf^refoi'e, we know there is some real being, and liiat non-entity cannot produce 
any real being, it is an evident demonstration, tliat from eternity there has been, 
something ; since what was not from eternity, had a beginning, and what had a 
beginning, must be produced by something else. 

Next, it is evident, that what had its being and beginning from another, must 
also have all tliat which is in, and belongs to its being from another too. All the 
powers it has must be owing to, and received from the same source. This eter- 
nal source, tlien, of all being, must also be the source and original of all power ; 
ajid so tlds eternal Being must be also the most poicerfid. 

Again, a man finds in \iims^\i perception and knowledge. We have then got one 
stpp farther ; and we are certain now, that there is not only some being, but some 
knowing intelligent being in the world. 

Tliere was a time, then, when there was no knowing being, and when know- 
ledge began to be ; or else tliere has been also a hnoiuing being from eternity. If it 
be said, there was a time when no being had any knowledge, when tliat eternal 
Being was void of all understanding : 1 reply, that then it was impossible there 
should ever have been afiy knowledge ; it being as impossible that things wholly 
void of knowledge, and operating blindly, and Avithout any perception, should 
produce a knowing bebig, as it is impossible that a triangle should make itself 
three angles bigger than two riglit ones. For it is as repugnant to the idea of 
senseless matter, that it should put into itself sense, perception and knowledge, 
as it is repugnant to the idea of a triimgle, that it should put into itself greater 
angles than two right ones. 

I'hus, from the consideration of ourselves, and what we infallibly find in our 
ov.n constitutions, our reason leads us to the knowledge of this certain and evi- 
dent truth, that there is an eternal, most poiuerful, and most knowing being ; which 
whether any one will please to -call God, it matters not. The thing is evident, and 



THE BEING OF GOD. 23 

exists ; it acts as a creator before it exists as a creature ; and 
it must be, in the same respect, both a cause ^id an effect, or 
it must be, and not be, at the same time, than which nothing 
can be more absurd ; therefore creatures were made by another, 
upon which account we call them creatures. 

3. These creatures could not make one another } for to cre- 
ate something out of nothing, or out of matter altogether unfit 
to be made what is produced out of it, is to act above the na- 
tural powers of the creature, and contrary to the fixed laws of 
nature ; and therefore is too great a work for a creature, who 
can do nothing but in a natural way, even as an artificer, 
though he can build an house with fit materials, yet he cannot 
produce the matter out of which he builds it ; nor can he build 
it of matter unfit for his purpose, as water, fire, air, &c. All 
creatures act within their own sphere, that is, in a natural way : 
but creation is a supernatural work, and too great for a crea- 
ture to perform ; therefore creatures cannot be supposed to have 
made one another. 

4. If it was supposed possible for one creature to make anor. 
ther, then superiors must have made inferiors ; and so man, or 
some other intelligent creature, must have made the world: 
but where is the creature that ever pretended to this power or 
wisdom, so as to be called the Creator of the ends of the earth. 

5. If any creature could make itself, or other creatures of the 
same species, why did he not preserve himself; for he that can 
give being to himself, can certainly continue himself in being ? 
or why did he not make himself more perfect ? Why did he 
make himself, and other creatures of the same species, in such 
a condition, that they are always indigent, or stand in need of 
support from other creatures. 



from this idea duly considered, will easily be deduced all those other attributes, 
which we ought to^ascribe to this eternal Being. If, nevertheless, :uiy one sliould 
l>e found so smselessly arrogant, as to suppose man alone knowing and wise, but 
yet ll\e product of mere ignorance and chance ; and that all the rest of the uni- 
verse acted only by that blind hap-hazard : I shall leave with him that very ra- 
tional and tmphatical rebuke of Tulli/, I. 2- de leg. to be considered at his leisure. 
" What c:ui be more sillily aiTOgant and misbecoming than for a man to think 
" tliat he has a mind and understanding in him, but yet in all the universe beside 
" there is no such thing ? Or tliat those things, which with the utmost stretch of 
*' his i-eason he can scarce comprehend, should be moved and managed w ithout 
*' any reason at all ?" Quid est eiiim verivs, quam iit^minem esse oportere tarn stuhp 
arrogimtern, ut in se mentem et ratiotiem putet inesse, in calo mundoque non putet ? 
JiiU eo, qu£ "Jix i-mnma ini^enii vutioiie comprelienduty nulla ratione moveri putet ? 

From what has been said, it is plain to me, we have a more certain knowledge 
of the existence of a God, than of any thing our senses have not immediately dis- 
covered to us. Nay, J presujne I may say, tl;at we more certainly know that thcic 
is a God than that there is any thing else without us. When I say we kno-M, I mean 
there is such a knowledge within our reach, which we cannot miss, if we will but 
jajiply pur minds to tliat, as \\c dy to several other incjuh'ics." 

'■« J.OCKF. 



94i THE BEING 01 G«». 

Or farther, supposing the creature made himself, and ail 
other things, how comes it to pass that no one knows much of 
himself compai'ativel}', or otlier things ? Does not he that makes 
things understand them ? therefore man <?ouid not make him- 
self, or other creatures. 

6. It follows therefore from hence, that there must be a God, 
who is the first cause of all things, necessarily existing, and not 
depending on the will of another, and by whose power all things 
exist ; Of hhn, and through him^ and to him are all things^ Rom. 
xi. 5Q>. In hv?i xve live^ and move^ and have our beings Acts 
xvii. 28. 

Thus much concerning the more general method of reason- 
ing, whereby the light of nature evinces the being of a God ; 
we proceed, 

II. To consider more particularly how the being of God 
may be evinced from his works. The cause is known by its 
effects ; since therefore, as was but now observed, creatures 
touid not produce themselves, they must be created by one 
who is not a creature. 

Now, if there be no medium between God and the creature, 
or between infinite and finite, between a self-existent or unde- 
rived, and a derived being ; and if all creatures exist, as has 
been shewn, by the will and power of their Creator, and so are 
^nite and dependent ; then it follows, that there is one from 
whom they derived their being, and on whom they depend for 
all things ; that is, God. This is usually illustrated by this si- 
militude. Suppose we were cast on an unknoM^n island, and 
tiiere saw houses built, but no men to inhabit them, should we 
not conclude there had beeia some there that built them ? Could 
the stones and timber put themselves into that form in which 
they are ? Or could the beasts of die field build them, that are 
without understanding ? Or when we see a curious piece of 
v/orkmanship, as a watch, or a clock, perform all its motions 
in a regular way, can we think the wheels came together by 
chance ? (e) should we not conclude that it was made by one 

(e) " In crossing' a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were ask- 
ed how the stone came to be there, I raig-ht possibly answer, that, for any thing I 
knew to tlie contrary, it had lain there for ever ; nor would it, perhaps, be very 
easy to shew the absurdity of tliis answer. But suppose I had found a xvatch up- 
on the ground, and it should Ijc enquired how the watch happened to be in th:.1; 
place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that, for art^ 
thing I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet, why should not 
this answer sen'e for the watch, as well as for the stone? Why is it not as admis- 
sible in the second case, as m the first? For this reason, and for no other, viz. 
that, when we come to inspect the watch, we percei'\'e (what we couid not dis- 
cover in the stone) that its several parts are fi-amed, and put together for a pur- 
pose, e. g. that thcv are so ibrmed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that 
motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day ; that, if the several parts 
iUd been (jiiferently shaped from wUat they are, of a different size from what they 



THE BEING OF GOD. 25 

of sufficient skill to frame and put them together in that order, 
and give motion to them ? Shall the clay say to him that fashion- 



are, or placed after any other maniKT, or in any other order, tluai tliat in whith 
thicy are placed, either no nioliou at ail would h<ive been c.uried on in the ma- 
chine, or none which wouIlI have answered the Ube, thai u now served b} Ai To 
reckon up a few of the plainest of tliese parts, and of their offices, all tendiVig' t* 
one result: V/e see a cylindrical box, containing- a coded elastic sprang-, winch, 
by its endeavour to relax itself, turnj round the box. \A'c next observe a flexible 
ch -an (artificiidiy wrought tbi' the sake of flexure) commurucating the action O'f 
the spring" from die box to the fusee. We then And a series of wheels, the teeth 
of which catch in, and apply to, each other, conducting the motion from llie fu- 
see to the balance, and from the balance to the pointer; and at the same tune, by 
the size and shape of those wheels, so regxilatmg' that motion, as to termijiate in 
causing' an index, by an equable and measured progression, to pass over a given 
space m a i^iven time. We tiJce notice that the wheels are made oi' brass, in or- 
der to keep them from rust; tlie springs of steel, no other metal being- so elastic; 
tliat over the face of the watch there is placed a glass, a material em.ployed in. no 
other part of the work, but, in the room of which, if there had been any other than 
a transp:u"ent substance, the horn- could not be seen without opening the case. 
This mechanism bemg observed (it requires indeed an examination of the instru- 
ment, and perhaps some previous knowledge of the subject, to perceive and un- 
derstand it; but being once, as we have said, observed and understood,) the in- 
ference, we think, is inevitable ; that the watch must have had a maker; that 
there must have existed, at some time, and at some place Or other, an artificer, 
or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer ; 
who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. 

I. Nor would it, I apprehend, weaken the conclusion that we had never seen a 
watch made; that we had never known an artist capable of making one; that we 
were altogether incapable of executing such a piece of workmanship oui-selves, 
or of understanding in what manner it was performed : all this being no more 
than what is true of some exquisite remains of some ancient art, of some lost arts, 
and, to the generality of mankind, of the more curious productions of modem 
manufacture. Does one man in a million know how oval frames are turned ? Ig- 
norance of this kmd exalts our opinion of the miseen and imknoMoi artist's skifi, 
if he be unseen and unknown, but raises no doubts in our minds of the existence 
and agency of such an artist, at some former time, and in some place or othei-. 
Nor can I perceive that it varies at all, the inference, whether the question arise 
concerning a human agent, or concerning iui agent of a different species, or an agent 
possessing, in some respects, a diffiirent nature. 

n. Neither, secondly, would it invalidate our conclusion, that the M'atch some- 
times went wrong, or that it seldom went exactly right. The purpose of the m*- 
chiner}', the design, and the designer, might be evident, and in the case supposed 
would be evident, in whatever way we accounted for the iiTegidarity of the move- 
ment, or whether we could account for it or not. It is not necessary tliat a ma- 
chine be perfect, in order to shew with what design it was made: still less necet- 
sary, where the only question is, whether it were made with any design at all. 

in. Nor, thirdly, would it bring any uncertainty into the argument, if there 
were a few parts of the wu'ich, concerning which we could not discover, or had 
not yet discovered, in \\hat manner they conduced to the general efiect; or even 
some parts, concerning which wc could not ascertain, whether thev conduced to 
that effect in any maimer whatever. For, as to the first branch of the case; ii^ 
by tlie loss, or disorder, or decay of the parts in question, the movement of the 
watch were found in fact to be stopped, or disturbed or rct;u-ded, no doubt would 
i-emain in om- minds as to the utility or intention of Uiese parts, althoi;gh we 
should be unable to investigate the manner according to which, or the connection 
by winch, the ultimate effect depended upon their action or assistance : .a\d the 
more complex is the machine, the more likely is this obscurity to arise. Then, 
as to the second thing supposed, namelv, that there were parts which might 'i-^. 

Vol. I. D 



2Q TITE BEING OF GOD. 

ed it, What makest thou, or thy work. He hath no handa t' Isi. 
xlv. 9. 



spared without prejudice to the movement of the WJUch, and that we had proved 
this by experiment; thesn superfluous parts, even if we were completely assured 
that they were such, would not vacate the i-easoning which we had instituted con- 
cerning' other parts. The indication of contrivance remained, vi'ith respect to 
them, nearly as it was before. 

IV. Nor, foiu-thly, would any man in his senses think the existence of the watch, 
with its various machiner}', accounted for, by being told that it was one out of 
possible combinations of material forms ; that whatever he had found in tlie place 
v.hei'c lie found the watch, must have contamed some intenial coiifigiu'ation or 
otlier; and that this configuration might be tlie structiu'e now exhibited, viz. of 
the works of a watch, as well as of a different structure. 

V. Nor, fiftJiiy, would it yield his enquiry more satisfaction to be answered, 
that there existed in things a principle of order, which had disposed the parts of 
the -watch into llicir present form and situation. He never Icnew a watch made 
by the principle of order ; nor can he e-. en form to himself an idea of what is 
meant by a principle of oider, distinct from tlie intelligence oftlie watch-maker. 

VI. Sixthly, he would be surprised to he;u", that the mechanism of the watch 
was no proof of contrivance, only a motive to induce the mind to think so: 

VII. And not less surprised to lie intbnned, that tlie watch in his hand M'as 
nothing more than the result of the laws oi' metallic natiue. It is a perversion of 
language to assign any law, as the efHcient, operative, cause of any thing. A law 
presupposes an agent ; for it is only the mode, according to w hich an agent pro- 
ceeds: it implies a power; for it is the order, according- to which that power acts. 
Without thi:; agent, without this poAver, which are both^listinct from itself, the 
tow does notJnng; is nothing. The expression, "the law of metallic nature," 
may somid strange and harsh to a philosopliic e;ir ; but it seems quite as justifia- 
ble as some otliers which ai'e more familiar to him, sucli as " the law of vegetable 
nature," "the law of animal nature," or indeed as " tlie lawof nature", in general, 
when assigned as the cause of phjenomena, in exclusion of ag-ency and power ; or 
when it is subsituted hito the place of these. 

Vni. Neither, lastly, would our observer be driven out of his conclusion, or 
from his confidence in its truth, by being told that he knew nothing at all about 
the matter. He knows enough tor his argument. He knows the utilit}' of the 
end: he knows the subserviency and adaptation of the means to the end. These 
points being known, his ignorimce of other points, his doubts concerning other 
points, affect not tlie certainty oi his reasoning-. The consciousness of knowing 
little, need not beget a distrust of that vhich he does know." 

Supi^ose, in the next place, that the person who found the watch, should, after 
some time, discover, that, hi addition to all the properties which he had hitherto 
obser%'ed h\ it, it possessed the unexpected property of producing, in the course' 
of its movement, another watch like itself; (the thing is conctivable ;) that it 
contained witiiin it a mechanism,' a system of parts, a mould for instance, or a 
complex adjustment of hiths, files, and other tools, evidently wid separately cal- 
culated for tills purpose ; let us enquke, what effect ought such a discovery to 
liave upon his former conclusion ! 

I. The first effect \\ould be to increase his admiration of the contrivance, and 
his conviction of the consunnnate skill of the contriver. Whether he regar-dcd 
the oliject of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the inirlcate, yet in many 
parts intelligible, mechani:im by which it was carried on, he woidd perceive, in 
this new observation, nothing but an additional reason for dohig what he had al- 
ready done ; for referring the construction of the watch to design, laul to supren-e 
art. If'tiiat construction idthout this property, or, which is the same thing, be- 
fore tliis propert)- had been noticed, proved iniention and art to have been em- 
jiloved about it; sciU more strong would the proof appear, when he came to the 
knowledge of this further property, the crown and peri'ection of all the rest. 

XI He would reflect, tfiat though the watch before him were, in some se)ne. 



THE BEIKG OF GOD. 2?" 

This leads us to consider the wisdom of God in his works, 
which demonstrates his being-. This the Psahnist mentions 



the maker of the watch, which was fabricated in the course of its movements, yet 
it was in a very different sense from that, in whicli a ciupenter, for instance, is 
the m.iker of a chair ; the author of its contrivixncc, the cause of the relation of its 
* parts to their use. With respect to these, the first watch was no cause at all t/> 
the second : in no such sense as this was it the avithor of the constitution and or- 
der, eulier of the ptu'ts which the new watch contained, or of the parts by the aid 
and instrumentality of which it was produced. We might possibly say, but with 
great latitude of expression, tliat a stream of water gTound corn : but no latitude 
of expression would allow us to say, no stretch of conjecture could lead us to 
think, that the streimi of water built tlie mill, though it were too ancient for u.s 
to know who the builder was. What tlie stream of v/ater does in the affau-, is 
neither more nor less than this : by the application of an unintelligent impulse to 
a mech:uiism previously arranged, arnmged independently of it, and arranged by 
intelligence, an effect is produced, viz. the corn is ground. But the effect results 
-from the arrangement, i'he force of the stream cannot be said to be the cause or 
author oi'the effect, still less of the arrangement. Understanding and plan in the 
formation of the mill were not the less necessary, for any share which the water 
has in grinding the corn : yet is tJiis share the same, as tliat which the watch 
would have contributed to the production of the new watch, u^wn the supposition 
assumed iu the last section. Thei-efore, 

III. 'I'liougli it be now no longer probable, that the individual watch which 
our observer had found, was made immediately by the hand of an artificer, 
yet doth not this alteration in any wise affect the inference that an artificer 
had been originally emiiloyed and concerned in the production. The argu- 
ment from design remains as it was. Marks of design and contrivance are 
no more accounted for now, than they were before. In the same thing, we 
may ask for the cause of different properties. We may ask for the cause of the 
colour of a body, of its hai-dness, of it** heat ; and these causes may be all dif- 
ferent. We are now asking for the cause of that subserviency to an use, that re- 
lation to an end, whicli we have remarked in the watch before us. No answer is 
given to this question by telling us that a preceding watch produced it. There 
cannot be design without a designer ; contrivance without a contriver ; order 
without choice ; ai-rangement, without any thing capable of arranging ; subser- 
viency and relation to a purpose, without that which could intend a purpose ; 
means suitable to an end, and executing their olfice ui accom.plishing that end, 
without the end ever liaving been contemplated, or the means accommodated to 
it. Arrangement, disposition of pai-ts, subserviency of means to_an end, relation 
of instruments to an use, imply the presence of intelligence and mind. No one, 
tlierefore, can rationally believe, that the insensible, Inanimate watch, from which 
the watch before us issued, was the proper cause of the mechanism we so much 
admire in it ; could be truly said to have constructed the instrument, disposed 
its parts, assigned their office, determined thcii- order, action, and mutual depen- 
dency, combined their several motions into one result, and tliat also a result con- 
nected with the utilities of other beings. Ail these properties thereibie, are as 
much unaccounted for as they were before. 

IV. Nor is .any thing gained by running the difficulty further back, i. e. by 
supposing the watch before u.s to have been produced by another watch, that from 
a former, and so on indefinitelv. Our going back ever so far brings us no nearer 
to the least degree of satisfaction upon the subject. Contrivance is still imac- 
counted for. We still want a contriver. A designing mind is neither supplied 
by this supposition, nor dispensed with, if the difficulty wei'e diminished the 
iVirther we went back, b}' going back indefinitely v/e miglu exliaust it. And this 
is the only case to which this sort of reasoning applies. Where there is a temleii- 
cy, or, as we increase the number of terms, a continual approach towards a limit, 
there, by supposing the number of terms to be what is called infinite, we may con- 
ceive the limit to Le attained : but where there is no such tendency or approtcb, 



28 THE BEING OF GOD. 

with admiration, PsaJ. civ. 24. Lord^ how manifold are thij 
works ; in wisdom hast thou made them all! When we see let- 



notiiing is effec'ed b}' iengtbenin^ the series. There is no difference as to the 
point in question, (whatever there may be as to many points) beiween one series 
and another ; between a series which is iinile, and a series which is infinite. A 
Qhain composed of an infinite number of links, can no more support itself, than a 
cha^n comjjosf-d of a finite number of links. And of this we are assured, (chough, 
we never can iiave tried the experiment) because, bv increasing the number of 
links, from ..en for instance to a hundred, from a hundred to a thousand, &.c. we 
make not the smiilcst approach, we observe not the smallest tendenc}', towards 
§eli'-3Upport. Tiiere ;s no difTerence in this respect (yet there may be a great dif- 
ference in several respects) between a chain of a greater or less length, between 
one chain ajid another, between one that :s finite and one that is indefinite. This 
veiy much resembles the ease before us. The machine, which we are inspecting, 
demonstrates, by its constiiiction, contriA ance and design. Contrivaitce must have 
had ;i contriver ; design, a designer ; whether the machine immediately proceed- 
ed from another machine, or not. That circumstance alters not the case. That 
other machine mk\ , in l.ke manner, liave proceeded from a former machine : nor 
does diat alter tiie case : contrivance must have had a contriver. That former one 
from one preceding it: no alteration still : •<. contriver is still necessary. No ten- 
dency .s perceived, no approacir towards a diminut.on of this necessity. It is the 
same wilh any and every succession of these machines ; a succession of ten, of a 
Ijundred, of a thousand; with one series as with ^tnother ; a series which is finite, 
as wich a series which is infinite. In whatever other respects they may differ, in 
this they do not. Li ail equrJly, contrivance .nnd design are unaccounted for. 
The question is not simply. How came tJie first WL.tch into existence ? which 

Suestion, it may be pretended, is done away by supposing the series of watches 
lus produced from one another to have been infinite, and consequently to have 
had no suchA'rs?, for which it was necessary to provide a cause. This, perhaps, 
would have been neailj- the state of the question, if nothing had been before us 
but an unorgumzed unmechanised substance, without mark or indication of con- 
trivance. It might be difficult to shew that stich substance could not have existed 
from eternity, either in succession (if it were possible, which I think it is not, for 
tmorganized bodies to spi-ing from one another,) or by individual perpetuity. But 
that IS not the question now. To suppose it to be so, is to suppose that it made 
no difference whether we had found a watch or a stone. As it is, the meta- 
physics of that question have no place ; for, in the watch which we are ex- 
amining, are seen contrivimce, design ; an end, a purpose ; means for the end, 
s^daptation to the pui-pose. And the question, which irresistibly presses upon our 
thoughts, is, whence this contriv;uice and design ? The thing required is tlie in- 
tending mind, the adapting hand, the intelligence by which that hand Mas di- 
rected. This question, this dem..'md, is not shiiken offi by increasing a number or 
succession of substances, destitute of these properties; nor the more, by increas- 
ing that number to infinity. If it be said, that, upon the supposition of one watch 
being produced from another in tlie course of that other's movements, and by 
means of the mechanism witliin it, we have a cause for the watch in my Jiand, 
viz. the watch from which it proceeded, I deny, that for the design, tlie contri- 
vance, the suitableness of means to an end, the adaptation of instruments to an 
use (yll vihich we discover in the watch,) we have any cause whatever. It is in 
■«'ain, therefore to assign a series of such causes, or to allege that a series may 
be carried back to infinity ; for I do not admit that we have > et any cause at all 
of the pliafnomenr., still less any series of causes either finite or infinite. Here is 
contrivance, but ni. contriver ; proofs of design, but no designer. 

V. Our observe!" vvculd further also reflect, that the maker of the watch be- 
fore him, .'.•:!«, in truth and realit)-, the maker of ever}" watch produced from it ; 
there being no difference (except thai the latter manifests a more exquisite skill) 
between the m.iking of another watch with his own h.inds by the mediation of 
files, laths, chisels, &^.. and the disposing, fixing;, ;ind inserting, of these insU u- 



TflE BEING OF GOD. 29 

ters put together, which make words or sentences, and these a 
book, containing the greatest sense, and the ideas joined together 
in the most beautilul order, should we not conclude that some 
man, equal to this work, had put them together .'' Even so the 
wisdom that shines forth in all the parts ot the creation, proves 
that there is a God. This appears. 

In the exact hannony and subsei-viency of one part of the 
creation to another, Hos. ii. 21, 22. I 'will hear ^ saith the Lord; 
I T.i'7 II hear the heavens^ and they shall hear the earth. And the 
earth shall hear the corn^ and the rvine, a7id the oil, and they 
ahall hear Jezreel. One part of this frame of nature ministers 
to another. Thus the sun, and other heavenly bodies, give light 
to the world, which would be no better than a cave or dun^ 
geon without them ; and afford life and influence to plants and 
trees ; and maintain the life of all living creatures. The clouds 
send down rain that moistens the earth, and makes it fruitful; 
and this is not poured forth by whole oceans together, but by 
small drops, Job xxxvi. 27. He maketh srnall the drops of water ; 
they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof; and these 
are not perpetual, for that would tend to its destruction. The 
moist places of the earth, and the sea supply the clouds with 
water, that they may have a sufficient store to return again to 
it. The air fans and refreshes the earth, and is necessary for 
the growth of all things, and the maintaining the life and health 
of those that dwell therein. This subserviency of one thing to 
another is without their own design or contrivance ; for they 
are not endowed with understanding or will ; neither doth this 
depend on the will of the creature. The sun doth not enlighten 
or give warmth to the world, or the clouds or air refresh the 
earth at our pleasure ; and therefore all this is subject to the 
order and direction of one who is the God of nature, who com- 
mands the sun, and it shineth, and the clouds to give rain at his 

merits, or of others equivalent to them, in the body of the watch alread}' made, in 
such a manner, as to form a new watch in the course of the movements which he 
had given to the old one. It is only working by one set of tools, instead of another. 
The conclusion which the first examination of the watch, of its works, con- 
struction, and movement suggested, was, that it must have had, for the cause and 
author of that construction, an artificer, who understood its mechanism, and de- 
signed its use. This conclusion is invincible. A second examination presents us 
with a new discover)'. The watch is found in the course of its movement to pro- 
duce another watch similai" to itself: :ind not only so, but we perceive in it a sys- 
tem of organization, sep:u-ately calculated for that purpose. What eftect would 
this discovery have, or ought it to have, upon our former inference ? Wliat, as 
hath already been said, but to increase, beyond measuie, our admiration of the 
skill, wliich had been employed in the formation of such a machine ? Or sh;',U it, 
instead of this, all at once turn us round to an opposite conclusion, viz. tliat no 
art or skill wliatever has been cfincerned in the business, although all other evi- 
dences of art and skill remain as they were, and this last and supreme piece of 
art be now added to the rest? Can this be maintained without absurdity? Yet 
this is atheism." Palet. 



30 THE BEING Ot GOt>. 

pleasure. It is he that gave the rtjgular motion to the heavenly 
bodies, and, by his wisdom, fixed and continues the various sea- 
sons of the yeai", summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, day - 
and night, and every thing that tends to the beauty and har- 
mony of nature ; therefore these curious, and never-enough to 
be admired, works, plainly declare that there is a God. This is 
descnb d with unparalleled elegancy of style, Job xxxvii. 9, 
&c. Out of the south cometh the whirlwind; and cold out of the 
north. By the breath of God^ frost is given; and the breadth of 
the xvaters is straitened. Also by rvatering he xvearieth the 
thick cloud; he scatiereth his bright cloud. Dost thou knoiv the 
balancings of the clouds^ the "xvondrous works of him which is 
perfect in knowledge P Hoxo thy garments are ruarm xvhen he 
quieteth the earth by the south-wind P (^) 

{g') " The works of nature '.vant only to be contemplated. Vv lien contemplated, 
they ha\'e every tiling \\ them which can astonish by their greatness ; ft^r, of the 
vast scale of operation, through which our discoveries cany us, at one end we 
see an inielligent Power arranging planetai-y systems, fixing, for instance, the tra- 
jectory of Saturn, or confiti-uctmg :. : mg of a hundred thousand miles diameter, 
to surround liiS body, and be suspended like a magnificent arch over the heads of 
his inhabitants; and, at the other, bending a hooked tootii, concerting and pro- 
viding an tippropriate merhunisiT;, for the clasping and reclasping of the filaments 
of the fealher of a hurnm'tng-bird. We have proof, not only of both these works 
proceed iig from an intelligent agent, but of their proceeding from the same 
agent: for, in the first place, we can trace an identity of plan, a connexion of sys* 
tern, from Satm-n to om- own globe ; and when arrived upon our own giobe, we 
can, in the second place, pursue the connexion through all the organized, espe- 
cially the animated, iiodics, wliicli it supports. We can observe marks of a com- 
mon relation, as well to one another, as to the elements of which their habitation 
is composed. Therefore one mind hath planned, or at least hath prescribed a 
general plan for, all these productions. One being has been concerned in all. 

Under this stupendous Being we live. Our happiness, our existence, is in his 
hajids. All we expect must come from hhn. Nor ought we to feel our situation 
Insecure. In every nature, and in every portion of nature, which we can descry, 
we find attention bestowed upon even tlie minutest parts. The hinges in the 
'^'ing's of an earwjg', and the joints of its antennae, are as higlily wi-ought, as if the 
Creator had had nothing el.se to finish. We see no signs of diminution of care by 
multiplicity of ol>jects, or of distraction of thought by variety. We have no rea- 
son to fear therefore, our being forgotten, or overlooked, or neglected. 

The existence and character of the Deity, is, in every view, the most interest- 
ing of all human speculations. In none, however, is it moi'e so, thiui as it facili- 
t^ites the belief of the fundamental articles oi' Herekitio?!. It is a step to have it 
proved, tliat there must be something in the world more than what we see. It 
is a further step to know, that, amongst the invisible things of nature, there 
must be an intelligent mind, concerned in its production, order, and support. 
These points being assured to us by iSlitural Theologj', we may '.veil leave to Re- 
velation the disclosure of many pia-tjcnlars, which our i'ese:u'ches cannot reach, 
respecting either the nature of tjiis Uenig as the original cause of all things, or 
his character and designs as a moral governor ; and not only so, but the more full 
confirmation of oilier particulars, of which, though they do not Ue altogether be- 
yond our reasoning.; and our ])robabi]iti(:'s, the certainty is by no means equal to 
the importance. The true Theist will be llie first to listen to any credible com- 
munication of divine knowledge. Nothing which he has learnt from Natural 
Theology, will diminish liis desire of further instruction, or his disposition to re- 
ceive it with humility and thankfulness. He wishes for light : he rejoices in 



THE BEING OF GOD^ 31 

But that we may farther ev^ince this truth, we shall lay down 
the following arguments to prove the being of a God, which 
appeal's, 



light. His inward veneration of tlus gi-eat Being, will incline him to attend with 
the utmost seriousness, not only to all that can be discovered concerning him by 
researclies into nature, but to all that is taught by a revelati(;n, w Inch gives rea- 
sonable proof of having proceeded fi'om him. 

But, above eveiy other ailicle of revealed religion, does the anterior belief of a 
Deity, bear with the stixingest force, upon that grand jjomt, which gives indeed 
interest and importance to all the rest — the resurrectionof the human dead. The 
thing might appear hopeless, did we not see a power under the guidi.nce of an 
intelligent will, and a power penetratuig the inmost recesses oi all substance. I 
am fai- from justifying the opinion of those, who " thought it a thing- incredible 
that God should raise the dead ;" but I admit that it is first necessary to be per- 
suaded, that there is a God to do so. This being thoroughly settled, in our minils, 
there seems to be nothing in this process (concealed and mysterious as wtt con- 
fess it to be,) which need to shock our belief. They who have taken np the opi- 
nion, that the acts of the human mind depend upon organization, that lh(- mind 
itself indeed consists in organization, are supposed to find a greater difficulty 
than others do, in admitting a transition by death to a new state ol sentient exis- 
tence, because the old organization is appiuently dissolved. But I do not see 
that any impracticability need be apprehended even by these ; or that the change, 
even upon their hj-pothesis, is far removed from the analogy of some other opera- 
tions, which we know with certainty that tlie deity is can-jing on. In the ordi- 
nary derivation of plants and animals from one another, a particle, in many cases, 
minuter than all assignable, all conceivable dimension ; an aura, an efiiuvium, an 
infinitesimal ; determines the organization of a future body : does no less than 
fix, whether that wliich is about to be produced, shall be a vegetable, a merely 
sentient, or a rational being ; an oak, a frog, or a philosopher ; makes all these 
diflferences ; gives to the future body its qualities, and nature, and species. And 
this particle, from which springs, and by which is determined a whole future na- 
ture, itself proceeds from, and owes its constitution to, a prior body : neverthe- 
less, which is seen in plants most decisively, the incepted organization, though 
formed within, and through, and by a preceding organization, is not conuptcd 
by its corruption, or destroyed by its dissolution ; but, on the contraiy, is some- 
times extricated and developed by 'those very causes ; survives and comes into 
action, when the purpose, for which it was prepared, requires its use. — Now an 
ceconomy which nature has adopted, when the purpose was to transfer an organi- 
zation from one individual to another, may have something analogous to it, when 
the purpose is to transmit an organization from one state of being to another state : 
and the}' who found thought in organization, may see something in this analogy ap- 
plicable to tlieir difficulties ; for, whatever can transmit a similarity of organ! zation 
will answer their purpose, because, according .even to their own theory, it may be 
the vehicle of consciousness, and because consciousness, without doubt, carries 
identity and individuality along with it through all changes of form or of visible 
qualities. In the most general case, that, as we have said, of the derivation of plants 
and aniniuls from one another, the latent organization is either itself similar to the 
old organization, or has the power of communicating to new matter the old organic 
form. Bat it is not restricted to this rule. There ai-e other cases, especially in 
the progress of insect life, m which the dormiuit orgtinization does not much re- 
semble that which incloses it, and still less suits with the situation in which the 
inclosing body is ph ::ed, but suits with a different situation to which it is desti- 
ned. In the larva of the llbellula, which lives constantly, and has still long to live, 
under water, are descried the wings of a fly, which tw o \ears afterwards is to 
momit into the air. Is there nothing in this analogy ? It serves at least to shew, 
that, even in the obsei'vable course of nature, organizations are formed one be- 
j)C&ti» tini»ther ; and, an;ongst a tUuua^d other instances; it shews complete 1\, 



,S2 THE BEING or GOD. 

I. From those creatures that are endowed with a lower kind 
of life than man. 

1. No creature can produce a fly or the least insect, but ac- 
cording to the fixed laws of nature ; and that which we call life, 
or the principle of their respective motion and actions, none but 
a God can give ; so that his being is plainly proved, from alt 
living creatures below man, which are subservient, many of 
them, to one another, and all to man, and that not by our order- 
ing ; therefore this is done by the hand of him who is the God 
of nature. 

2. The natural instinct of living creatures, every one acting 
according to its kind ; and some of the smallest creatures pro- 
ducing things that no human art can imitate, plainly proves a 
God. Thus the bird in building its nest ; the spider in framing 
its web ; the bee in providing store-houses for its honey ; and 
the ant in those provisions which it lays up in summer against 



that tlie Deity can mould and fkshion the parts of material nature, so as to fulfil 
ajiy purpose wliatever which he is pleased to appoint. 

They who refer the operations of muid to a substance totally and essentially 
different from matter, as, most certainly, these operations, though affected by 
material causes, hold very little afRnity to any properties of matter with which 
we are acquainted, adopt, perliaps, a juster reasoning and a better philosophy; 
and by these the considerations above suggested are not wanted, at least in the 
same degree. But to such as find, which some persons do find, an insuperable 
difficulty in shaking off an adherence to those analogies, which the corporeal 
world is continually suggesting to their thoughts ; to such, I say, evei'y consider- 
ation w'dl be a relief, which manifests the extent of that intelligent power which 
is acting in nature, the fruitfulness of its resources, the variety, and aptness, and 
success of its means ; most especially every consideration, which tends to shew, 
that, in the translation of a conscious existence, there is not, even in their own 
way of regarding it, any tiling greatly beyoiid, or totally unlike, what takes place 
in such parts (pi-obably small parts) of the order of natui-e, as are accessible to 
our observation. 

Again ; if there be those who th'mk, that the contractedness and debility of 
the human faculties in our present state, seem ill to accord with tlie high desti- 
nies which the expectations of religion point out to us, I would only ask them, 
whether anj' one, who saw a child two hours after its birth, could suppose that 
it would ever came to understand Jluxiorjs i* or who then shall say, what further 
amplification of intellectual powers, what accession of knowledge, what advance 
and improvement, the rational facultj^, be its constitution what it will, may not 
admit of, when placed amidst new objects, and endowed with a sensorium, adapt- 
ed, as it undoubtedly will be, and as our present senses are, to the perception of 
those substances, and of those properties of things, witli which our concern may 
lie. 

Upon the whole ; in every thing which respects this awful, but, as we trust, 
glorious change, we have a wise and powerful Being, (the author, in nature, of 
infinitely various expedients for infinitely various ends,) upon whom to rely for 
the choice andappointmentof means, adequate to the execution of any plan which 
his goodness or his justice may have formed, for the moral and accoimtable part 
of his terrestrial creation. That great office rests with him : be it ours to hope 
and prepai-e ; under a firm and settled persuasion, that, living and dying, we are 
his ; that life is passed in his constant presence, that death resigns us to his mer- 
<:ifdl disposal." Faust. 

» Se« Searst's Light of Nature^ passim. 



TH£ BEING OF GOD. 33 

winter ; the silk-womi in providing cloathing for man, and in 
being transformed into various shapes, and many others of 
smaller sort of creatures, that act in a wonderful v/ay, without 
the exercise of reason or design, these all prove the being of 
God. 

3. The greater, fiercer, or more formidable sort of living 
creatures, as the lion, tiger, and other beasts of prey, are so or- 
dered, that they fly from man, whom they could easily devour, 
and avoid those cities and places where men inhabit, that so we 
may dwell safely. They are not chased into the woods by us ; 
but these are allotted, as the places of their residence by the 
God of nature. 

4. Those living creatures that are most useful to men, and 
so subject to them, viz. the horse, camel, and many others, 
these know not their ov/n strength, or power, to resist or rebel 
against them ; which is ordered b)' infinite wisdom : and there 
are many other instances of the like nature, all \vhich are very 
strong arguments to prove that there is a God, whose glory 
shines forth in all his works. 

II. From the structure of human bodies, in which respect 
we are said to be fearfully and wonderfully made ; this, if it 
be abstractedly considered without regard to the fixed course and 
laws of nature, exceeds the power and skill of all creatures, and 
can be no other than the workmanship of a God, and therefore 
is a demonstration of his being and perfections. No man ever 
pretended to give a specimen of his skill therein. The finest 
statuaries or limners, who have imitated or given a picture, or 
representation of human bodies, have not pretended to give life 
or motion to them ; herein their skill is baffled. The wisest 
men in the world have confessed their ignorance of the way 
and manner of the formation of human bodies ; hov/ they are 
framed in their first rudiments, preserved and grow to perfec- 
tion in the womb, and how the}^ are increased, nourished, and 
continued in their health, strength, and vigour for many years. 
This has made the inquiries of the most thoughtful men issue 
in admiration : herein we plainly see the power and wisdom of 
God, to which alone it is owing. 

Here it may be observed, that there are several things very 
wonderful in the structure of human bodies, which farther 
evince this truth. As, 

1. The organs of sense and speech. 

2. The circulation of the blood, and the natural heat which 
is preserved for many years together, of which there is no in- 
stance but in living creatures. Even fire will consume and 
waste itself by degrees, and fill things, which have onl acqui- 
red heat, will soon grow cold ; but the natural heat of the body 
of man is preserved in it as long as life is continued. 

Vol. I. E 



o4 TU£ 9£IKG 07 GQDU 

3. The continual supply of animal spirits, and their subser- 
viency to sense and motion. (A) 

4. The nerves, which, though small as threads, remain un- 
broken, though every one of these small fibres performs its of- 
fice, and tends to convey strength and motion to the body. 

5. The situation of the parts m their most proper place : the 
internal pai-ts, which would be rained and destroyed if expo- 
sed to the injuries that the external ones are : these are secured 
in proper inclosures, and so preserved, Job x. 11. T/iou hast 
cloathed me with skin and fiesh^ and hast fenced me ivith bones 
and sinews. 

6. All the parts of the body are so disposed, that they are 
fitted for their respective uses, as being situate in those places 
which render them most fit to perform their propef actions. 

7» The diffei-ing features of different bodies, so that we 
scarce see persons in all respects alike, is wonderful, and the 
result of divine wisdom : for even this is neccssar}" for society, 
and our performing the duties we ov/e to one another. 

8. The union of this body v/ith the soul, which is a spirit of 
a very different nature, can never be sufficiently admired or 
accounted for ; but gives us occasion herein to own a superior, 
infinitely wise being. Which leads us, 

III. To consider how the being of God may be evinced from 
the nature of the soul of man. He is said, Zech. xii. 1. To have 
farmed the spirit of man within hvju And hereby his power and 
wisdom, and consequently his being, is declared. For, 

\. The nature of a spiritual substance is much less known 
than that of bodies ; and therefore that which we cannot fully 
understand, we must admire. 

If the wisdom and power of God is visible in the structure 
of our bodies, it is much more so in the formation of our souls ; 
and since we cannot fully describe what they are, and know 
little of them but by their effects, certainly we could not form 
them; and therefore there is a God, who is the Father of spirits. 

2. The powers and capacities of the soul are various, and 
\'txy extensive. 

(1.) It can frame ideas of i^hings superior to its own nature, 
and can employ itself in contemplating and beholding the or- 
der, beauty, and connexion of all those things in the world, 
which are, as it were, a book, in which we may read the divine 
perfections, and improve them to the best purposes. 

(2.) It takes in the vast compass of things past, which it can 
reflect on and remember, with satisfaction, or regret : and it can 
look forward to things to come, which it can expect, and accord- 
ingly conceive pleasure or uneasiness in the forethoughts thereof. 



(A) The theory ©fa nervous fluid, or animal spirits, is generally abandoned. 



THE BEING OF GOD. 3J 

(3.) It can chuse or embrace what is good, or fly from and 
reject what is evil and hurtful to it. 

(4.) It is capable of moral government, of conducting itself 
according to the principles of reason, and certain rules enjoined 
it for the attaining the highest end. 

(5.) It is capable of religion, and so can argue that there is a 
God, and give him the glory that is due to his name, and be 
happy in the enjoyment of him. 

(6.) It is immortal, and therefore cannot be destroyed by any 
creature ; for none but God has an absolute sovereignty over the 
spirits of men; No tnan hath porver over the spirit to retaifi the 
spirit ; neither hath hep07ver in the day ofdeath^ Eccles. viii. 8. 

IV. From the nature and office of conscience, which is that 
whereby the soul takes a view of itself, and its own actions, as 
good or evil ; and considers itself as under a law to a superior 
being, from whom it expects rewards or punishments ; and this 
evidently proves a God. For, 

1. Conscience is oftentimes distressed or comforted by its 
reflection on those actions, which no man on earth can know : 
and therefore when it fears punishment for those crimes, which 
com.e not under the cognizance of human laws, the uneasiness 
that it finds in itself, and its dread of punishment, plainly dis- 
covers that it is apprehensive of a divine being, who has been 
offended, whose wrath and resentment it fears. All the en- 
deavours that men can use to bribe, blind, or stupify their con- 
sciences, will not prevent these fears ,• but the sad apprehensidn 
of deserved punishment, from one whom they conceive to know 
all things, even the most secret crimes committed, this makes 
persons uneasy, whether they will or no. Whithersoever they 
fly, or what amusement soever they betake themselves to, con- 
science will still follow them with its accusations and dread of 
divine wrath : The rvicked are like the troubled sea^ when it can- 
not rest^ Isa. Ivii. 20. A dreadful sound is in his ears ; in pros- 
perity the destroyer shall come vpon him^ Job xv. 21. Terrors 
take hold of him as rvaters., a tempest stealeth him away in the 
night. The east-wind carrieth him away^ and he departeth ; 
and as a storm hurleth him out of his place. For God shall cant 
upon him^ and not spare ; he -would fain fee out of his hand^ Job 
xxvii. 20, 21, 22, The wicked fee when no man pursuethy 
Prov. xxviii. 1. 

And this is universal, there are none but are, some time or 
other, liable to th^se fears, arising from self-reflection, and the 
dictates of conscience ; the most advanced circumstances in the 
world will not fortify against, or deliver from them, Acts xxiv. 
25. As Paul reasoned of righteousness^ temperance^ and judg- 
ment to come^ Felix trembled. Even Pharaoh himself, the most 
hard-hearted sinner in the world, who would fain have forced 



36 THE BEING OF GOD. 

a belief upon himself that there is no God, and boldly said, Who 
is the Lord^ that I should obey him P yet he could not ward off 
the conviction that there is a God, which his own consci-nce 
suggested. Therefore he was forced to say, Exod. ix, z7. I 
have sinned this time; the Lord is righteous^ and I and viy peo- 
ple are wicked. And indeed all +he pleasures that any can take 
in the world, who give themselves up to the most luxurious 
way of living, cannot prevent their trembling, when conscience 
suggests some things terrible to them for their sins. Thus Bel- 
shazzar, when in the midst of his jollity and drinking wine, 
having made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, when he 
saw the finger of a man's hand upon the wall, it is said, Dan. v. 
6. The king's countenance %vas changed^ and his thoughts trou- 
bled him ; 6-0 that the joints of his loins were loosed.^ and his 
knees smote one against another. 

Thus concerning those dictates of conscience, which make 
men very uneasy, whereby wicked men are forced to own that 
there is a God, whether they will or no ; we now proceed to 
consider good men, as having frequently such serenity ol mind 
and peace of conscience, as affords them farther matter of con- 
viction concerning this truth. It is, indeed, a privilege that 
tiiey enjoy, who have the light of scripture revelation, and so it 
might have been considered imder a following head ; but since 
it is opposed to what was but now brought, as a proof of the 
being of a God, we may here observe, that some have that 
composure of mind, in believing and walking closely v; ith God, 
as tends to confirm them yet more in this truth. For, 

(1.) This composure of mind abides under all the troubles 
and disappointments they meet with in the world : those things 
which tend to disturb the peace of other men, do not so much 
affect them ; He shall not be afraid of evil tidings ; his heart is 
jixed^ trusting in the Lord^ Psal. cxii. 7. And as this peace 
abides under all the troubles of life, so it does not leave them, 
but is sometimes more abundant, when they draw nigh to death. 

(2.) It is a regular and orderly peace that they have, accom- 
panied with grace, so that conscience is most quiet Mhen the 
soul is most holy ; which shews that there is a hand of God in 
working or speaking this peace, as designing thereby to encou- 
rage and own that grace which he has wrought in them ; Rom. 
X. 13. thus the God of hope is said to fill us xvith all joy and 
peace in believing. 

(3.) Let them labour never so much after it, they can never 
attain this peace, without a divine intimation, or God's speak- 
ing peace to their souls ; therefore when he is pleased, for v,ise 
ends, to v/ithdraw from them, they are destitute of it ; so that 
God is hereby known bv his works, or by those influences of 
his grace, v/hereby he gives peace to conscience. 



THE BEING OF GOD. 37 

V. The being of a God appears from those vast and bound- 
less desires, which are impiiuited in the soul ; so that it can take 
up its rest, and meet with full satisfaction, in nothhig short of a 
being ol lufinite perfection : therefore there is such an one, 
which is God. This will iarther appear if we consider, 

1. We find, by experience, that though the soul, at present, 
be entertained, and meets with some satisfaction in creature- 
enjoyments, yet it still craves and desires more, of what kind 
soever they be ; and the reason is, because they are not com- 
mensurate to its desires ; The eye is not satisfied with ^eeing-y 
nor the ear -with hearings Eccles. i. 8. That zvhich is ■wanting 
cannot be numbered^ ver. 15. 

2. We cannot rationally suppose that such boundless desires 
should be implanted in the soul, and yet that there should be 
nothing sufficient to satisfy them ; for then the most excellent 
creature in this lower world would be, in some respects, more 
miserable than other creatures of a lower order, which obtain 
their ultimate desire. Thus the Psalmist, speaking of the brute 
creatures, says, Psal. civ. 28. Theij are jilled -with good ; that is, 
they have all that they crave. Therefore, 

3. There must be one that is infinitely good, who can satisfy 
these desires, considered in their utmost extent; and that is 
God, the fountain of all blessedness. 

VI. The being of a God may be farther evinced, from the 
consent of all nations to this truth. Now that which all man- 
kind agrees in, must be founded in the nature of man, and that 
which is so, is evident from the light of nature. It is true, 
there are manv who have thus known God^ xvho have not xvor- 
shipped and glorijied him as God; but have been vain in their 
imaginations^ and have changed the truth of God into a lie^ and 
worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator^ as 
the apostle says, Rom. i. 21, 25. But it doth not follow from 
hence, that the heathen, Avho were guilty of idolatry, had no 
notion of a God in general, but rather the contrary ; that there 
is something in the nature of man, which suggests, that they 
ought to worship some divine being, whom they could not, by 
the light of nature, sufficiently know, and therefore they did 
service to those who were by nature no gods ; however, this 
proves that they were not wholly destitute of some ideas of a 
God, which therefore are common to all mankind. Now- that 
all nations have had some discerning that there is a God, ap- 
pears, 

1. From the credit that is to be given to all ancient history : 
which sufficiently discovers that men, in all ages, have owned 
and worshipped something that they called a God, though they 
knew not the true God. 

2. The heathen themselves, as may easily be understood 



58 THE BEING OF GOD. 

from their own M'ritings, reckoned atheism a detestable crimen 
lor this reason, because contrary to the light of nature ; and 
therefore some of them have asserted, that there is no nation in 
the world so barbarous, and void of reason, as to have no notion 
of a God. 

3. We may consider also, that no changes in the world, or in 
the circumstances of men, have wholly erased this principle: 
whatever changes there have been in the external modes of wor- 
ship, or in those things which have been received by tradition, 
still this principle has remained unalterable, that there is a God. 
Therefore the being of a God may be proved by the consent of 
all nations. 

Object. 1. But it is objected to this, that there have been 
some speculative atheists in the world. History gives us an 
account of this ; and we are infonmed, that there are some whole 
countries in Africa and America, where there is no Vrorship, 
and, as to what appears to us, no notion of a God. Therefore 
the being of a God cannot be proved by the consent of all na- 
tions. 

Answ. 1. As to the first branch of this objection, that there 
have been some speculative atheists in the world; it is true, 
history furnishes us with instances of persons who have been 
deemed so, yet their number has been very inconsiderable ; so 
that it will not follow from hence, that tlie idea of a God is not 
some way or other, impressed upon the heart of man. Might 
it not as well be said, that, because some few are bom idiots, 
therefore reason is not natural to man, or vmiversal ? And it 
may be farther observed, that they who are branded with the 
character of atheists in ancient history, or such as appear to be 
atheists in our day by their conversation, are rather practical 
atheists than speculative. We do not deny, that many in ail 
ages have, and now do, assert, and pretend to prove, that there 
is no God ; but it is plain that they discover, at some times, such 
fear and distress of conscience, as is sufficient to disprove what 
they pretend to defend by arg-uments. 

2. As to the second branch of the objection, that there are 
some parts of the world, where the people seem to be so stupid, 
as not to o\\Ti or worship a God ; this is hard to be proved ; 
neither have any, that have asserted it, had that familiarity- 
with them, as to be able to determine what their sentiments are 
about this matter. 

But suppose it were true in fact, that some nations have no 
notion of a God or religion, nothing could be argued from it, 
but that such nations are barbarous and brutish, and though 
they have the principle of reason, do not act like reasonable 
creatures ; and it is sufficient to our purpose to assert, that all 
men, acting like reasonable creatures, or who argue from those 



THE BEING OF. GOD. 39^ 

principles of reason, that they are born with, may from thence 
conclude that there is a God. 

Object. 2. It is farther objected by atheists against the being 
of God, and indeed against all religion, which is founded there- 
on, that both one and the other took i»s rise from human policy, 
that hereby the world, being amused with such-like specula- 
tions, might be restrained from those irregularities, which were 
inconsistent with the well-being of civil government j and that 
this Avas readily received, and propagated by tradition, and so 
by an implicit faith transmitted from one generation to another, 
among those who enquired not into the reason of what they 
believed; and that all this was supported by fear, which fixed 
their belief in this matter: so that human policy invented, tra- 
dition propagated, and fear rooted in the minds of men, what 
we call the natural ideas of God and religion. 

Ans-w. This is a vile insinuation, but much in the mouths of 
atheists, without any shadow of reason, or attempt to prove it j 
and indeed it may be easily disproved. Therefore, 

1. It appears that the notices we have of the being of a God, 
are not in the least founded in state policy, as a trick of men, to 
keep up some religion in the world, as necessary for the sup- 
port of civil government. For, 

If the notion of a God, and religion consequential hereon, 
were a contrivance of human policy, it would follow, 

(1.) That it must be either the invention of one single man, 
or else it was the result of the contrivance of many convened 
together in a joint assembly of men, in confederacy, to impose 
on the world. 

If it was the invention of one man, who was he ? when and 
where did he live I What history gives the least account of 
him ? or when was the world without all knowledge of a deity, 
and some religion, that we may know, at least, in what age thi^ 
notion first sprang up, or was contrived ? Or could the contri- 
vance of one man be so universally complied with, and yet none 
pretend to know who he was, or when he lived ? And if it was 
the contrivance of a number of men convened together, how 
was this possible, and yet the thing not be discovered ? or how 
could the princes of the earth, who were at the head of this 
contrivance, have mutual intelligence, or be convened together ? 
By whose authority did they meet ? or what was the occasion 
thereof ? 

(2.) It is morally impossible, that such a piece of state policy 
should be made use of to deceive the world, and universally 
take place, and yet none in any age ever discover the impos- 
ture. The world could never be so imposed on, and yet not 
know by whom ; the plot would certainly have been confessed 
h.y some who were in the secret. 



40 THE BEING OF GO©. 

(3.) If human policy hsd first invented this notion, certainly 
the princes and great ni n oi the worid, who had a hand in it, 
would have exempted themselves from any obligation to own a 
God,, or any form of M'orship, whereby they acknowledge him 
their superior ; for impostors generally design to beguile others, 
but to exempt themselves from what they bind them to. If any 
of the princes, or great men of the world, had invented this 
opinion, that there is a God, and that he is to be worshipped, 
their pride would have led them to persuade the world that they 
were gods themselves, and ought to be worshipped; they would 
never have included themselves in the obligation to own a sub- 
jection to God, if the notion of a God had, for political ends, 
been invented by them. 

(4.) If the belief of a God was invented by human policy, 
how came it to be universally received by the world ? It is 
ceriain, that it was not propagated by persecution ; for though 
thei'^ ha? been persecution to inforce particular modes of wor- 
shi".^; ','et there never was anv such method used to inforce the 
belief oi a God, for that took place without any need thereof, it 
being instamped on the nature of man. 

If therefore it v/as not propagated by force, neither was the 
belief of a God spread through the world by fraud, what are 
those arts which are pretended to have been used to propagate 
it ? It took its rise, say they, from human policy ; but the po- 
liticians not known, nor the arts they used to persuade the 
world that there is a God found out. How unreasonable there- 
fore is this objection, or rather cavil, against a deity, when the 
atheists pretend that it was the result of human policy ! 

2. It appears that the belief of a God was not propagated in 
the world merely by tradition, and so received bv implicit faith. 
For, ' • : / » 

(1.) Those notions that have been received with implicit 
faith by tradition, from generation to generation, are not pre- 
tended to be proved by reason ; but the belief of a God is 
founded on the highest reason ; so that if no one in the world 
believed it besides myself, I am bound to believe it, or else 
must no longer lay claim to that reason which is natural to 
mankind, and should rather shew myself a brute than a man. 

(2.) No schemes of religion, that were propagated merely by 
tradition, have been universally received ; for tradition respects 
particuhir nations, or a particular set of men, who have propa- 
gated them. But as has been before considered the belief of a 
God has universally prevailed. Moreover, if the belief of a' 
God was thus spread by tradition through the world, why was 
not the mode of worship settled, that so there might be but one 
religion in the world ? The reason is, because their respective 
modes of worship were received, by tiie heathen, by tradition : 



THE BEING OF GOD. 44. 

"tvhereas the belief of a God was not so, but is rooted in the na- 
ture of man. 

(3.) Whatever has been received only by tradition, has not 
continued in the world in all the turns, changes, and overthrow 
of particular nations, that received it ; but the belief of a God 
has continued in the world throughout all the ages and changes 
thereof : therefore it is not founded in tradition, but by the light 
of nature. 

3. It appears, moreover, that the belief of a God could not 
take its first rise merely from fear of punishment, which men 
expected would be inflicted by him, though that be a strong ar- 
gument to establish us in the belief thereof. For, 

(1.) A liableness to punishment for crimes committed, sup- 
poses that there is a God, who is offended by sin, and from 
whom punishment is expected. Therefore as the effect cannot 
give being to the cause, so fear could not be the first ground 
and reason of the belief of a God. But, 

(2.) The principal idea which mankind has of Gbd, and that 
which is most natural to us, is, that of an infinitely amiable 
object, and so we conceive of him, as a being of infinite good- 
ness, 1 John iv. 8. God is love. Thus we conceive of him, as the 
spring of all we enjoy and hope for ; and as for fear, that is 
only what arises in the breasts of wicked men, and is founded 
in the secondary ideas we have of him ; to wit, as taking ven- 
geance, supposing he is offended. But they who do not offend 
him are not afraid of his vengeance ; and the sentiments of the 
worst of men are not to be our rule in judging concerning the 
being of a God. If these believe that there is a God, only be- 
cause they fear him, others believe him to be the fountain of all 
blessedness, and as such they love him : therefore the ideas 
that men have of the being of a God, did not arise from fear. 

VII. The being of a God, may be proved from the works of 
providence, whereby the world is governed, as well as preserved 
from returning to its first nothing. It is that which supplies all 
creatures with those things that their respective natures or ne- 
cessities require : creatures could no more provide for them- 
selves than they could make themselves ,• therefore he that pro- 
vides all things for them is God. All finite beings have their 
respective wants, whether they are sensible thereof or no ; an4 
he must be all-sufficient that can fill or supply the necessities of 
all things, and such an one is God. 

Thus the Psalmist speaks of this God, as supplying the ne* 
cessities of beasts and creepbig thvigs ; who are said, to wait 
2tpqn him^ that he viaij give them their meat in due season, Psal^ 
civ. 25, 27. Psal. cxlv. 15, 16. 

In considering the providence of God, whereby his being is 
evinced, we may observe, 

V»L. I. F 



42 llJE BEING OF GOD. 

1. The extraordinaiy dispensations thereof, when things 
happen contrary to tlie common course, and fixed laws of na- 
ture, as when miracles have been wrouglit. These are undeni- 
able proofs of the being of a God ; for herein a check or stop 
is put to the course of nature, the fixed order or laws thereof 
controuled or inverted ; and this none can do but he who is the 
Ood and author thereof. To deny that miracles have been 
wrought, is little better than scepticism ; since it hath been 
]}roved, by the most unquestionable testimony, contained not 
only in scripture, but in other writings, and is confessed, even 
by those who deny the principal things designed to be confirm- 
ed thereby. It is true, they were never wrought with an imme- 
diate design to prove that there is a God, since that is sufficient- 
ly demonstrated without them ; but in as much as they have 
been wrought Avith other views, the being of a God, whose im- 
mediate power has been exerted therein, appears beyond all 
contradiction. 

2. This may be proved from the common dispensations of 
providence, which we daily behold and experience in the world. 

These we call common, because they contain nothing mi- 
raculous, or contrary to the laws of nature : they are indeed 
wonderful, and have in them the traces and footsteps of infinite 
wisdom and sovereignty, and therefore prove that there is a 
God. For, 

(1.) It cannot otherwise be accounted for, that so mr.ny 
things should befal us, or others in the world, that are altoge- 
ther unlooked for. Thus one is cast dovvnii, and a blast thrown 
on all his endeavours, and another raised beyond his expecta- 
tion, Psal. Ixxv. 6, 7. PromotioJi cometh neither from the east^ 
nor from the xvest^ nor from the south. But God is the judge ; 
he putteth doxvn one^ and setteth up another. 

(2.) The wisest and best concerted schemes of men are of- 
ten baffled, and brought to nought, by some unexpected occur- 
rence of providence, which argues a divine controul, as God 
says, 1 Cor. \. 19. / will destroy the -wisdom of the rvise^ and 
xvill bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. And 
Vt^ho is it that can turn the counsels of men into foolishness ; 
but an infinitely wise God ? 

VIII. The being of a God may be proved by the foretelling 
future events, which have come to pass accordingly. For, 

1. No creature can, by his own wisdom or stigacity, foretel 
future contingent events with a certain peremptory and inftUIi- 
-ble knowledge, and not by mere conjecture, Isa. xli. 24. She%o 
the things that are to come hereafter^ thatxve may knoxv that ye 
ore gods. And the reason is plain, because our knowledge 
reaches no farther than to see effects, and judge of them in and 
by tlieir causes. Thus we may easily foretel that necessary 



THE BEING OF GOD. 43 

causes will produce those effects that are agreeable to their na- 
ture : but when the effect is not necessary, but contingent, or 
purely arbitrary, then we have nothing to judge by, and there- 
fore cannot come to the knowledge of things future, without 
an intimation given us thereof, by him -who orders and disposes 
of all things, and that is God : and therefore to foretel things to 
come in this sense, is an evident proof of the being of God. 

2. That there have been such predictions, and that the things 
foretold have come to pass accordingly, is very obvious from 
scripture : and if it be highly reasonable to believe that which 
is so well attested, as scripture is, we are bound from hence to 
conclude that there is a God. 

But since we are" arguing, at present, with those who deny a 
God, and consequently all scripture-revelation, we will only 
suppose that they whom we contend with will allow that some 
contingent events have been foretold ,• and then it will follow, 
that this could be done no other w;n-, but by some intimation 
from one that is omniscient, and that is God. 

IX. The being of a God appears from his providing for the 
necessities of all living. Here let us consider, 

1 . That there is a natural instinct in all creatures, to take care 
of and provide for their young, before they are capable of pro- 
viding for themselves. This is not only observable in mankind, 
as the prophet says, Isa. xlix. 15. Can a xvoman forget her 
sucking child ? but also in the lower sort of creatures ,* and 
among them in those who are naturally most fierce and savage, 
even they provide for their young with extraordinary diligence, 
and sometimes neglect, and almost starve, themselves to pro- 
vide for them, and sometimes endanger their own lives to de- 
fend them. 

2. They bring forth their young at the most convenient sea- 
son of the year, when the grass begins to spring to supply them 
with food, and when the fowls of the air may get a livelihood 
by picking up the seed that is sown, and not covered by the 
earth, and when the trees begin to put foith their fruits to sup- 
ply and feed them. 

3. When they bring forth their young, there is a providence 
that provides the breast, the paps, the udder reijiexiished witli 
milk to feed them ; and there is a natural instinct in tlicir 
young, without instruction, to desire to receive their nourish- 
jnent that way. 

4. Providence has furnished many of the beasts of the fields 
with weapons for their defence, and has given others a natural 
swiftness to fly from danger, and has provided licles and ca* 
vems in the earth to secure them from those that pursue them. 
And this cannot be the effect of mere chance, bnt it is an evi- 
dent proof of the being of a God, 



4A THE BEING OF GOE. 

5. Providence is, in a peculiar manner, concerned for the 
supply of man, the noblest of all ci^eatures in the world ; He 
g'lvethfoodto alljiesh, Psal. cxxxvi. 25. Thou preserv est man 
and beast, Psal xxxvi. 6. The earth is stored with variety of 
food ; and whereas the poor, which is the greater part of man- 
kind, cannot purchase those far-fetched, or costly dainties, 
which are the support of luxury, these may, by their industr\^, 
provide that food which is most common, and with which the 
earth is plentifully stored, whereby their lives and health are as 
well maintained, as the rich, who fare deliciously every day ; 
a.nd if their families increase, and a greater number is to be pro- 
vided for, they generally have a supply in proportion to their 
increasing rmiTiber, 

6. Providence has stored the isarth with various medicines, 
arid given skill to men to use them as a relief against the ma- 
ny sicknesses that we are exposed to. All these things, and inr 
numerable other instances that might be given, argue the care 
and bounty, and consequently prove the being of God, vvliosc 
tender mercies are over all his works. 

Here let us consider how the providence of God provides for 
the safety of man against those things that threaten his ruin. 

The contrariety and opposition of things one to anothev 
would bring with them inevitable destruction, did not provi- 
dence prevent it. As, 

(4.) Those things, which are the greatest blessings of nar 
ture, v/ould be destructive, were there not a providence : as 
the sun that enlightens and cherishes the world by its heat and 
influence, would be of no advantage, were it situate at too great 
a distance, and would burn it yp if it were too near. So the sea 
would swallow up, and bring a deluge on the earth, if God har]. 
not, by his decree, fixed it within certain bpiinds, and made the 
shore an itxflosure. to it, and said hitherto shalt thou go a;id no 
farther. 

(2.) The elements are advantageous to us, by their due tem- 
perature and mixture ; but, Avere it otherwise, they would be 
destructive. So the various humours and jarring principles in 
our bodies would tend to destroy us, but that they are so mix- 
ed, as the God of nature, has tempered and disposed them, for 
the preservation of life and health. 

(J.) The wi}d beasts would destroy us, had not God put the 
fear and dread of man into them, or, at least, caused them not 
to desire to be where men live ; the forests and desart places, 
remote frorn cities, being allotted for them ; and some creatures 
vV'ould be destructive to men, by the increase of their number, 
did they not devour one another. And insects would destroy 
the fruits of the earth, did not one season of the year help for 
ward their destruction, as anqther tends to breed them. 



THE BEING OF G09. 45 

(4.) Men by reason of their contrary tempers and interest?, 
and that malice and envy, which is the consequence of our firyt 
apostacy, would destroy one another, if there were not a provi- 
dence that restrains them, and gives a check to that wicked- 
ness that is natural to them, whereby the world is kept in a 
gi-eater measure of peace than otherwise it wouid be ; hence» 
the Psalmist says, Psal. Ixxvi. 10. Surelij the xvrath of man shall 
praise thee ; the remainder of xvrath shalt thou restrain. 

Object. It is objected, by atheists, against the being of a God, 
that the wicked are observed to prosper in the world, and the 
righteous are oppressed. This temptation the Psalmist was al- 
most overcome by ; as he says, my feet xvcre almost gone ; my 
steps had xuell nigh slipt. For I xvas envious at the foolish^ xvhen 
J saw the prosperity of the xvicked^ Psal. Ixxiii. 2, 3. 

Ansxv. To this it may be answered, 

1. That the idea of infinite sovereignty is included in that of 
a God ; and this distribution of good and evil, if made at any 
time, v.dthout regard to the deserts of men, argues the sove- 
reignty of providence ; and therefore proves that there is a 
God, who gives no account of his matters, but has an absolute 
right to do what ho will with his own. 

2. There is a display of infinite wisdom in these dispensa- 
tions of providence, in that the good man is made better by at- 
fliction, as hereby the kindness and care of providence appears ; 
and the Avicked man is forced to vwn, by his daily experience, 
that all the outward blessings he enjoys in this world, cannot 
make him easy or happy, or be a sufficient portion for him. 

3. Outward prosperity doth not prevent or remove inward 
remorse, or terror ot conscience, which embitters the joys of 
the wicked; A dreadful sound is in his ears ; in prosperity the 
destroyer shall come upon him^ Job xv. 21. Even in laughttr 
the heart is sorroxvful ; and the end of that mirth is heavine>.s^ 
Prov. xiv. 13. And, on the other hand, outward trouble in the 
godly is not inconsistent witii spiritual joy and inward peace, 
which is more than a balance for all the distresses they labour 
under ; it is said, The heart knoxveth his orvn bitterness^ and a 
stranger doth not intermeddle xvith his Jot;, Prov. xr\'. 10. He 
shall be satisfied from Iwnsef ver. 14. 

4. We are not to judge of things according to their present 
appearance, when we determine a person happ'/ or n^iserablc, 
but are to consider the end thereof, since every ihing is well that 
ends well. Thus the Psalmist, who, as was before obserxcd, 
was staggered at the prosperity of the wicked, had his faith es- 
tablished, by considering the different events of things. Con- 
cerning the wicked he says Psal. Ixxiii. 18, 19, 20. Thou didst 
set them in slippery places ; thou castcdst them doxun to destruc- 
tion. Hqxo are they brought into desobtion^ as in a moment I 



46 THS BEING OF GOD. 

they are utterly consumed tvith terrors. As a dream when one 
uioaketh : so^ Lord^ rvhen thou aivakest^ thou shalt despise their 
image ; which is a very beautiful expression, representing all 
their happiness as imaginary, a vain dream, and such as is wor- 
thy to be contemned : but as for the righteous, he represents 
them as under the special protection and guidance of God here, 
and at last received to glory, and there enjoying him as their 
everlasting portion. 

Having considered how the light of nature, and the works of 
God prove his being, we shall proceed to shew how this appears 
from scripture, as it is observed in this answer, that the word 
and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto 
men for their salvation. The arguments hitherto laid down are 
directed more especially to those who are not convinced that 
there is a God, and consequently deny the divine original of 
f-cripture : but this argument supposes a conviction of both ; but 
yet it must not be supposed unnecessary, in as much as we are 
oftentimes exposed to many temptations, which tend to stagger 
our faith ; so tl^at though we may not peremptorily deny that 
there is a God, yet we may desire some additional evidence of 
his being and perfections, beyond what the light of nature af- 
fords ; and this we have in scripture. Herein the gloiy of God 
shines forth with the greatest lustre, and we have an account of 
^viorks more glorious than those of nature, included in the way 
of salvation by a Mediator. The light of nature, indeed, proves 
that there is a God ; but the word of God discovers him to us 
as a reconciled God and Father to all who believe, and is also 
attended with- those internal convictions and evidences of this 
truth, which are the peculiar gifts and graces of the Holy Spi- 
rit ; and therefore it is well observed, that this knowledge only 
li sufficient and effectual to salvation ; which leads us to con- 
sider the insufficiency of the light of nature to answer this end. 
The knowledge of God, that may be attained thereby, is suffi- 
cient, indeed, in some measure, to restrain our corrvipt passions, 
and it is conducive to the peace and welfare of civil societies : 
it affords some conviction of sin, and, in some respects, leaves 
men without excuse, and renders their condemnation less ag- 
gravated than that of those who sin against gospel light ; but 
yet it is insufficient to salvation, since it is a truth of universal 
f^xtent, that there is salvation in no other., but in Christy Acts 
iv. 12. and that it is life eternal to knoxv not only the true God., 
but Jesus Christy whom he hath sent., John xvii. 3. and this can- 
not be known by the light of natvire, but by divine n-velation ? 
which leads us to consider in what respect the knowledge of 
God, as it is contained in and derived from scripture, is suffi- 
cient to salvation. 

Here we do not assert the sufficiency.'thereof, exclusive of tlie 



THE BEING OF GOD. 4? 

aids of divine gi-ace, so as to oppose the word to the Spirit : 
therefore it is said, in this answer, that the word and Spirit of 
God alone can reveal him to men sufficiently to their salvation. 
The word is a sufficient rule, so that we need no other to be a 
standard of our faith, and to direct us in the way to eternal life : 
but it is the Spirit that enables us to regard, understand, and 
apply this rule, and to walk according to it : these two are not 
to l)e separated; the Spirit doth not save any without the 
word, (a) and the word is not effectual to salvation, unless made 
so by the Spirit. 

That nothing short of scripture -revelation is sufficient to sal- 
vation, will appear, if we compare it with the natural knowledge 
we have of God. For, 

1. Though the light of nature shews us that there is a God, 
it doth not fully display liis perfections, so as they are mani- 
fested in scripture, wherein God is beheld in the face of Christ. 

2. Neither doth it discover any thing of the doctrine of a 
Trinity of persons in the divine essence, who are equally the 
object of faith : nor doth it give us any intimation of Christ, as 
the Lord our righteousness, in whom we obtain forgiveness of 
sins : this is known only by scripture-revelation ; therefore, 
since this is necessary to salvation, we are bound to conclude 
that the scripture alone is sufficient to lead to it. 

3. The light of nature suggests, it is true, that God is to he 
worshipped ; but there is an instituted way of worshipping him, 
which depends wholly on divine revelation ; and since this is 
necessary, it proves the necessity of scripture. 

4. There is no salvation without communion with God ; oi- 
he that does not enjoy him here, shall not enjoy hhu for ever 
hereafter. Now the enjoyment of God is what we attain by 
faith, which is founded on scripture. Thus the apostle says, 
1 John i. 3. That which zve have seefi and heard,, declare xue 
unto you^ that ye also may have felhxvship xvith us ; and truli/ 
our fellowship is with the Father^ andxvith his son Jesus Christ. 

But since it is one thing to say, that the knowledge of God, 
which is derived from scripture, is sufficient to salvation in an 
objective way; that is, that it is a sufficient rule to lead us to 
.salvation, and another thing to say, that it is made effectual 
thereunto : we are now to inquire when it is made so. In an- 
swer to which, let us consider, that the doctrines contained in 
scripture are made effectual to salvation ; not by all the skill or 
wisdom of men representing them in their truest light, nor by 
all the power of reasoning, which we are capable of, without 
the aids of divine grace, but they are made effectual by thr 
Spirit ; and this he does, 

(fl) See this doubtful dftctrine discussal ix)st Qvicst 60 



48 TH£ WORD or g6d. 

(1.) By the internal illumination of the mind, giving a spirit" 
ual discerning of divine truth, which the natural man receiveth 
not, as the apostle says, 1 Cor. ii. 14. and it is called, 2 Cor. 
IV. 6, a shining into our hearts^ to give the light of the knoxv- 
ledge of the glory of God ^ in the face of Jesus Christ i 

(2.) By subduing the obstinate will of man, and so enabling 
it to "^^ield to a ready, chcarful, and universal obedience to the 
divine commands contained in scripture ; and, in particular, in- 
clining it to own Christ's authority, as king of saints ; and to 
t,ay, as converted Paul did, Lord^ what wilt thou have me to 
do ? Acts ix. 6. 

(3.) He works upon our affections, exciting in us holy de- 
liires after God and Christ, and a very high esteem and value 
for divine truth, and remo^'es all those prejudices which 
are in our minds against it, opens and enlarges our hearts to re- 
ceive the word, and comply with all the commands thereof, 
thus. Acts xvi. 14. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia^ that 
she attended to the things that were spoken of Paul. So David 
prays, Psal. cxix. 18. compared with v. 5. Open thou viine 
eyes^ that I may behold rvondrous things out of thy laxv. that 
my -ways were directed to keep thy statutes ! 



Quest. III. What is the Word of God? 

Answ. The holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament 
are the word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience. 

IN speaking to this answer, we shall consider the several 
names by which the scripture is set forth with the import 
thereof, and more particularly that by which it is most known ; 
to wit, the Old and New Testament, and then speak of it as a 
rule of faith and obedience. 

I. There are se\'eral names given to the word of God, in 
Psalm cxix. one of which is found in almost every verse 
thereof. 

It is sometimes called his law, statutes, precepts, command- 
ments, or ordinances, (a) to signify his authority and power to 



(u) He who has created all things, with all their relations, and who is the uni- 
versal Sovereign, has a right to the allegiance of his rational creatures, and they 
are under obligation to obey his laws, because it is his will that tliey should do 
so. He has connected oui- interest with our duty, as a motive to obedience, and 
because he is good; but if we should substitute utility for his authority, and con- 
form to his laws, merely because they are advantageous, we rebel against our So- 
vereign, and renounce his authority, that we may pursue our o%vn advantage. Vir- 
tue is amiable for its intrinsic rectitude. If we choose to practice it merely be- 
cause beautiful, wc please om-selves ; and though the excellency of vh-tue is iu 
tended as a motive, and it is well tor the man who is chai-med by it, yet, if this b;' 
the cnW jiir.cemciit, he has lost sight cf tLe Divine wuthority, loid his \ irt-.-.o. i . 



THE WORD OF GOD. %9 

demand obedience of his creatures whicli he does therein, and 
shews us in wiiat particular instances, and how we are to yield 
obedience to it. 

It is also called his judgments, impl)'ing that he is the great 
Judge of the world, and that he will deal with men in a judi- 
cial way, according to their works, as agreeable or disagree- 
able to this law of his, contained in his word ; and, for this rea- 
son, it is also called his righteousness, because all that he com- 
inands in his word is holy and just, and his service highly rea- 
sonable. 

It is also called God's testimonies, as containing the witness, 
evidence, or record, that he has given to his own perfections, 
whereby he has demonstrated them to the world. Thus we are 
said, 2 Cor. iii. 18. To behold^ as in a glass, the glory of the 
Lord. 

It is also called his way, as containing a declaration of the 
glorious works that he has done, both of nature and grace ; the 
various methods of his dealing with men, or the way that they 
should walk in, which leads to eternal life. 

Moreover, it is called, Rom. iii. 2. The oracles of God^ to 
denote that many things contained in it could not have been 
known by us till he was pleased to reveal them therein. Agree- 
no obedience to the laws of God. If the obligation of vii-tue be founded solely on 
its utility ,or beai'.t}', we ai'e at libei-ty to forego our adv-antag-e, oi" pleasure with- 
out guilt, and remorse of conscience will be unaccounlyble. It is also y?; and pro- 
per, that we shoidd practice virtue, but this is no more to be substituted for the 
Divine authority, than tha other motives of advantage or pleasure. If it be ob- 
jected, that the fitness of moral good is eternal, and a rule even to Deity, and so 
may be deemed a foundation of the obligation of human virtue. It is conceded 
that the fitness of vii'lue is eternal, for God is eternal, and has been always holy, 
and just; in the same manner also the beauty of virtue is eternal ; but to suppose 
these to have existed anterior to tliought and action, and to be independent of i^n 
eternally and immut^ibly holy God is to indulge the mind m specidations, which, 
to say the least of them, are groimclless. We may as well assign a cause to eter- 
nal existence, as to eternal holiness. When the Creator formed the Universe of in- 
telligent creatures, he g'ave them, witli tlieir existence, the various relations and 
circumstimces which sprang up with them : and their obligations witii respect to 
him and his works oi'iginated at the same time, and frf)m the same source ; which 
could be no other than the Divine pleasui-e ; and the positive express apix);nt- 
ments, which iiave been since super-added, rest upon the same basis, the will of 
God. 

That we might discern his will and conform to it, he has set before us his owa 
character, which in all thhigs is good. He has given us reason, or active intellec- 
tual powers capable of pursuing the truth, and discovering his character, as a rule 
of our conduct. And because reason is matured by slow degrees, and the adA'an- 
lages for its improvement are unequal, he has given us a sense susceptible of the 
impressions of good and evil, by which we can distinguish between moral gocxi 
and evil almost as easily, as by our natural senses we cliscern the differences be- 
tween light and darkness, sweetness and bitterness ; and thus lias he rendered the 
judgment upon our own actions almost always un.ivoid:Jde. The light of nature 
has been confirmed by express revelation ; and because the law of nature identifies 
itself with the written law of God, the obligation of both rests tipon ihe Sitnte 
foundation, the SQ%-ereign will. 

Vol. I. G 



so iHK WORD or Cod. 

ably hereto, the apostle speaks of the gi-eat things contained in 
the gospel, as being hid in God ; hid from ages and generations 
past, but now made manifest to the saints, Eph. iii. 9, Col. 
i. 26. 

Again it is sometimes called the gospel, especially those 
parts of scripture which contain the glad tidings of salvation by 
Christ, or the method which God ordained for the taking away 
the guilt, and subduing the power of sin ; and particularly the 
apostle calls it, T/ie glorious gospel of the blessed God; 1 Tim. 
i. 11. and the gospel of our scdvat'ion. Eph. i. 13. 

And, in this answer, it is called the Old and New Testa- 
ment ; that part of it which was written before our Saviour's 
incarnation, which contains a relation of God's dealings with 
his church, from the beginning of the world to that time, or a 
prediction of what should be fulfdied in following ages, is called 
the Old Testament. The other which contains an account of 
(iod's dispensation of grace, from Christ's first to his second 
coming is called the New. 

A testament is the declared or '.v^ritten will of a person, in 
which some things are given to those who are concerned or de- 
scribed tiierein. Thus the scripture is God's written will or tes* 
tament, containing an account of what he has freely given in 
his covenant of grace to fallen man ', and this is the principal 
subject matter of scripture, as a testament > therefore it contains 
an account, 

1. Of many valuable legacies given to the heirs of salvation; 
the blessings of both worlds, all the privileges contained in 
those great and precious promises, with which the scripture so 
abounds. Thus it is said. Thou s halt guide mexutth thy counsel^ 
and afterward receive me to glory ; Psal. Ixiii. 24. and the Lord 
will give grace and glory ^ Psal. Ixxxiv. 11. 

2. It describes the testator Christ, Avho gives eternal life to 
his people, and confirms all the promises which are made in 
him ; as they are said, 2 Cor. i. 20. To be in him yea andamen^ 
to the glorij of God; and more especially he ratified this testa- 
ment by his death as the same apostle observes, which is a 
knoAvn iTiaxim of the civil law, that xvhere a testament is, there 
must of necessity be the death of the testator, {ci) tilth, ix. 16« 
17. upon which the force or validity thereof depends. And the 
word of God gives us a large account how all the blessings, 
vvrhich God bestowed upon his people, receive their validity from 
the death of Christ. 

3. It also discovers to us who ore the heirs, or legatees, to 
whom these blessings are given, who are described therein, as 



(fl) Where a covenant is, there should be the death of the devoted victim. 



THE WORD OF OOD. 51 

repenting, believing, returning sinners, who may lay claim tp 
the blessings of the covenant ot grace. 

4. It has several seals annexed to it, viz. the sacraments un- 
der the Old and New Testiunent, of which we have a particu- 
lar account in scripture. 

This leads us to consider how the scripture is otherwise di- 
V^ided or distinguished. 

(1.) As to the Old Testament, it is sometimes distinguished 
or divided into Moses o7id the prophets ; Luke xvi. 29. or 3Io- 
ses'y the prophets, and the psalms-, Luke xxiv. 44. And it may 
be considered also as containing historical and prophetic wri- 
tings, and others that are more especially doctrinal or poetical ; 
and the prophets may be considered as to the time when they 
wrote, some before and others after the captivity. They may 
iilso be distinguished as to tiie subject matter of them : some 
contain a very clear and particular account of the person and 
kingdom of Christ, e. g, Isaiah who is, for this reason, b_v some, 
called the evangelical prophet. Others contain reproofs, and 
denounce and lament approaching judgments, as the prophet 
Jeremiali. Others encourage the building of the temple, the 
setting up the Avorship of God, and the reformation of the peo- 
ple upon their return from captivity : thus Zechariah and Hag" 
gai. As for the historical parts of scripture, these either con- 
tain an account of Ciod's dealings with his people before the 
captivity j as Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, ^c, or after it, 
as Ezra and Nehemiah. 

(2.) The books of the New Testament may be thus divided. 
Some of them are historical, viz, such as contain the life and 
death of our SaA iour, as the four gospels, or tb^ ministry of the 
apostles, and the first planting and spreading cf the gospel, as 
the Acts of the Apostles. Others are more especially doctrinal, 
a!id are wrote in the form of an epistle by the apostle Paul, 
and some other of the apostles. 

One book is prophetical, as the Revelations, wherein is fore- 
told the different state and condition of the church, the perse- 
cutions it should meet Avith from its Anti-christian enemies, its 
final victory over them, and its triumphs, as reigning with 
Christ in his kingdom. 

This leads us to consider, when God first revealed his will 
to man in scripture, and how this revelation was gradually en- 
larged, and transmitted down to the church in succeeding ages. 
There was no written word, from the beginning of the world, 
till Moses's time, which Avas betAveen tAVo and three thousand 
years ; and it was almost a thousand years longer before the 
canon of the Old Testament Avas completed by Malachi the 
last prophet, and some hundred years after that before the 
canon of the New Testament Avas given ; so that God revealed 



52 THE WORD OF GOD. 

his will, as the apostle says, in the beginning of the epistle to 
the Hebrews, at aundry timcs^ as well as in divers mantiers, and 
by divers i aspired writej-s. 

ISIotwitlistandirxg the church, before it had a written word, 
was not destitute of a rule of faith and obedience, neither were 
they unacquainted with the v/ay of salvation ; for to suppose 
this, would be greatly to detract from the glory of the divine 
government, and reflect on God's goodness ; therefore he took 
other wa)'s to 'supply the want of a written Avord, and hereby 
shewed his sovereignty, in that he can make known his will 
what way he pleases, and his wisdom and goodness, in giving 
his written word at such a time when the necessities of men 
most required it. This will appear, if we consider, 

1. That when there was no written w^ord, the Son of God 
frequently condescended to appear himself, and converse with 
man, and so revealed his mind and will to him. 

2. Tiiere was the ministry of angels subservient to this end, 
in which respect the word %ras oiten spoken by angels, sent to 
instruct men in the mind ajid will of God. 

3. The church had among them all this while, more or less, 
the spirit of prophecy, whereby many were instructed in the 
mind of God ; and though they Avere not commanded to com- 
mit what they received by inspiration to writing, yet tiiey 
were hereby furnished to instruct others in the way of salva- 
tion. Thus Enoch is said to have prophesied in his day ; Jude 
ver. 14, 15. and Noah is called, a preacher of righteousness^ 
2 Pet. ii. 5. Heb. xi. 7. 

, 4. Great part of this time the lives of men were very long, 
(viz.^ eight or nine hundred years, and so the same persons 
might transmit the word of God by their own living testimony. 

5. Afterwards in the latter part of this interA ai oi time, when 
there was no Avritten word, the world apostatised from God, 
and almost all flesh corrupted their way ; not ior want of a sui- 
ficient rule of obedience, but through the perverseness and de- 
pravity of their nature ; and afterwards the world was almost 
wholly sunk into idolatry, and so were judicially excluded irom 
God's special care ; and since Abraham's family was the only 
church that remained in the world, God continued to commu- 
nicate to them the knowledge of his will in those extraordinary 
ways, as he had done to the faithful in former ages. 

6. When man'^s life was shortened, and reduced to the same 
standard, as now it is, of threescore and ten years, and the 
church was very numerous, increased to a great nation, and 
Cxod had promised that he wovdd increase them yet more, then 
they stood in greater need of a written word to prevent tlie in- 
conveniences that might have arisen from their continuing any 
longer without one, and God thouglu fit, as a great instance of 



THE WORD OF GOD. SS 

favour to man, to command Moses to write his law, as a stand- 
ing rule of faith and obedience to his church. 

This leads us to consider a very important question, viz. 
whether the church, under the Old Testament dispensation, 
understood this written word, or the spiritual meaning of those 
laws that are contained therein? Some, indeed, have thought 
that the state of the church, l^efore Christ came in the fiesh, 
was attended with so much darkness, that they did not know 
the way of salvation, though they had, in whole or in parr, the 
scriptures of the Old Testament. The Papists g-enerally assert, 
that they did not ; and therefore they fancy, that ail who lived 
before Christ's time, were shut up in a prison, where they re- 
mained till he went from the cross to reveal himself to them, 
and so, as their leader, to conduct them in triumph to heaven. 
And some Protestants think the state of all who lived in ihose 
times, to have been attended with so much darkness, that they 
knew but little of Christ and his gospel, though shadowed forth, 
or typified by the ceremonial law ; which they found on such- 
like places of scripture as that, where Moses is said to have 
put a vail over his face ^ that the children of hrael could not sted- 
fastlij look to the end of that xvhich is abolished; and that this 
vail is done aivay in Christy 2 Cor. iii. 13, 14. and those scrip- 
tures that speak of the Jewish dispensation, as a night of dark- 
ness^ compared with that of the gospel, Vv'hich is represented as 
2i perfect day^ or the rising of the sun, Isa. xxi. 11. Cant. ii. 
17. IVIalachi iv. 2. And as these extend the darkness of that 
dispensation farther than, as I humbly conceive, they ought to 
do, so they speak more of the wrath, bondage, and terror that 
attend it, than they have ground to do, especially when they 
make it universal ; since there are several reasons, xvhich may 
induce us to believe that the church, at that time, understood a 
great deal more of the gospel, shadowed forth in the ceremo- 
nial law, and had more communion with God, and less wrath, 
terror, or bondage, than these suppose they had ; for which I 
would offer the following reasons, 

1. Some of the Old Testament saints have expressed a great 
degree of faith in Christ, and love to him, whom they expect- 
ed to come in our nature ; and many of the prophets, in their 
inspired writings, have discovered that they were not strangers 
to the way of redemption and reconciliation to God by him, 
as the Lord our righteousness. A multitude of scriptures 
might be cited, that speak of Christ, and salvation by him in 
the Old Testament, Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. Zech. xiii. 7. Psal. xxxiii. 
1, 2. compared with Rom. iv. 6. Thus Abraham is described, 
as rejoicing to see his day^ John viii. 56. and the prophet Isaiah 
is so very particular and ex})re6s in the account he gives ot his 
person and offices, that I cannot see how any one can reasona- 



54 THE WORD or CO©. 

bly conclude him to have been wholly a stranger to the gospel 
himself, Isa. xxii. 25. eh. lii. 15^ 14, 15. Can any one think 
this, who r^^ads his 53d chapter, where he treats of his life, 
death, sufferings, and offices, and of the way of salvation by him ? 

Object. It is objected hereunto that the prophets who deli- 
vered these evangelical truths, understood but little of them 
themselves, because of the darkness of the dispensation they 
were under. Thus it is said, 1 Pet. i. 10, 11, 12. that the pro- 
phets^ indeed, searched into the meaning of their own predic- 
tions, but to no purpose ; for it xvcis revealed to them, that not 
unto themselves, but unto us, they ministered ; that is, the ac- 
count they gave of our Saviovu- was not designed to be under- 
stood by them, but us in this present gospel-dispensation. 

Ansxo. The answer that may be given to this objection is, 
that though the prophets are represented as enquiring into the 
meaning of their own prophecies, yet it doth not follow from 
thence that the}^ had but little or no understanding of them : 
all that can be gathered from it is, that they studied them, as 
their own salvation was concerned therein ; but we must not 
suppose that they did this to no pur^iose, as what they were not 
able to understand ; and -when it is farther said in this scrip- 
ture, that not unto themsehe::, but unto us, they did minister the 
things that are noxv reported; the meaning is, not that they did 
not understand those things, or had not much concern in them, 
but that the glory of the gospel state, that was foretold in their 
prophecies, ^\ as wJiat v/e should behold with our eyes, and not 
they themselves, in which sense they are said not to minister to 
themselves, but to us; so that this objection hath no force in it 
to overthrow the i.^ument we are maintaining; we therefore 
proceed to consider, 

2. That it is certain, that the whole ceremonial law had a 
spiritual meaning annex;.'d to it ; for it is said. That the larv 
xvas a shadow of good things to come, Heb. x. 1. and that all 
those things happened to them for ensamples, [or tj'pes] and they 
are written for our admo):kion, 1 Cor. x. 11. 

3. It is unreasonable to suppose that the spiritud meaning 
of the ceremonial law should not be known by those to whom 
it was principally given ; or that the gospel, wTapt up therein, 
should not he seen through tl is sliadow till the dispensation 
was abolished, the ceremonial lavvr abrogated, and the nation 
cast oif to whom it v.^as given. 

4. If the knowledge of the gospel, or faith in Christ, which 
is founded upon it, be necessnry for our salvation, it was ne- 
cessarv for the salvation of those who lived in former ages ; for 
it was as much a truth then as it is now, that there is salvation 
in no other ; therefore the church of old were obliged to believe 
in him to come, as much as we are to believe in him as already 



THE WORD OF GOD. 55 

come ; but it is inconsistent with the divine goodness to require 
this knowledge, and not to give them any expedient to iittain 
it ; therefore we must either suppose this knowledge attainable 
by them, and consequently that he was revealed to them, or 
elbc they must be excluded from a possibility of salvation, when, 
at the same time, thev^ v/ere obliged to believe in Christ, v/hich 
they could not do, because they did not understand the mean- 
ing of that law, which was the only means of revealing him to 
them ; or if Christ was revealed in the ceremonial law, and 
they had no way to understand it, it is all one as though he 
had not been revealed therein. 

5. They had sufficient helps for the understanding the spi- 
ritual meaning thereof, viz. not only some hints of explication, 
given in the Old Testament, but, besides these, there was, 

(l.) Extraordinary revelation and inspiration, with which the 
Jewish church more or less, was favoured, almost throughout 
all the ages thereof; and hereby it is move than probable that, 
together with the canon of the Old Testament, they received 
the spiritual sense and meaning of those things which were 
contained therein. 

(2.) There was one whole tribe, viz. that of Levi, that was 
almost wholly employed in studying and explaining the law of 
God ; therefore it is said. They shall teach Jacob thy judg- 
ments^ and Israel thy laru, Deut. xxxiii. 10. and that the priests 
lips shoidd keep knowledge^ and they should seek the knv at his 
mouth ; Mai. ii. 7. that is, the priests should, by all proper 
methods, understand the meaning of the law, that they might 
be able to teach the people, when coming to be instructed by them. 

(3.) There were among them several schools of the prophet?? 
(in some ages at least of the Jew ish church) in which some 
had extraordinary revelations ; and they that had them not, 
made the scriptures their study, tliat they might be able to in- 
struct others ; so that, from all this, it appears that they had a 
gi"eat deal of knowledge of divine truths, and the spiritual mean- 
ing of the Old Testament ; though yet we will not deny that the 
gospel dispensation hath a clearer light, and excels in glor)\ (^/.) 



(a) PROPHETS BEFOIIETIIE CAFflVITY. 

With the order and times of their Propliecies. 
Teen before 
Gbiift. 

612 AM/VZIAII klngof Judali "^ Jonah sent with a mesja,^e. 2 Kirtjs 



Jeroboam II. king of Israel 5 xiii. 20. xiv. 25. 

800 UzziiJikingof Judah > . i 

11,? > Joel 1. 11. lu. 

Jeroboam II. 5 

800 Jeroboam II. king of Israel "} , ■ • 

Uzziah kmg of Judah 3 Amos i. ix. 
800 Jeroboam II. Uzziah Ifosea i. ii. iii. 

772 Menuliem I. Hosea iv. 

77i) Mcnahem 11. Jonah i. ii. iji. iv. 



56 



THE WORD OF GOD. 



We shall now proceed to consider, how far the Old Testa- 
ment is a rule of faith and obedience to us, though that dis- 



759 Uzziah 52. Pek,.h 1. 
753 JoTham 5. P.;kah 7. 
742 Ahaz 1. Pek:ui 18. 

In llie same yeur 

Li the same year 
740 Ahuz 3. Pekali 20. 

In the same year 
739 Aohaz 4. 
726 Hezekiali2. 

Ill the same year 

725 Hezekiah 3. Hoshea 6. 

720 H(;zekuJi7. 

715 Hezekiah 13. 

714 Hezekiah 14. 

714 Hezekiali 14. , 

In tlie same year 
In the same year 

713 Hezekiah 15. 
In the same year 

710 Hezekiali 18. 

In the same year 
In the same year 

698 Manassehl. 

628 Josiah 13. 

623 Josiah 18. 



611 Josiah 31. 
610 Jehoiakim 1. 

In the same year 
606 Jehoiakim 4. 

In the same year 

Li the same year 

In the same year 

In the same year 

In the same year 
605 Jehoiakim 5. ~ 
603 Jeboi;ikim 7. 
599 Zedekiah 1. 

In the same year 

In the same year 
* In the same year 

In the same year 
598 Zedekiah 2. 

In the same year 

In the same year 
596 Zedekiah 4. 

In the same year 
595 Zedekiah 5. Jehoiachin's capt. 5. 
594 ZedekijJi 6. Jehoiachin's capt. 6. 
593 Zedekiali 7. Jclioiixhin's capt. 7. 

Li the same ye:u", fifth month 
591 Zedekiah 9. Jehoiaxiiin's capt. 9. 

In the same year 



Isauih vi. ii. iii, iv. v. 
INIicali i. ii. 
Isaiah vii. 
Isaiah viii. ix. x. 
Isaiah xvii. 
Isaiah i. 
Isaiali xxviii. 
Hosea v. vi. 
Isaiah siv. \'er. 28, &c. 
Isaiiih XV. xvi. 
C Hosea vii. — xiv. 
( Micah iii. iv. v. vi. vii. 
Nalmm i. ii. iii. 
Isaiah xxiii. — xxvii. 
Isaiah xxxviii. xxxix. 
Isaiah xxix. xxx. — xxxv. 
Isaiah xxii. ver. 1 — 15. 
Isaiah xxi. 
Isaiah xx. 
Isaiah xviii. six. 
Isaiah x. ver. 5, &c. xi. xii. xiii. xiv. ver. 

28, &c. 
Isaiah xxxvi. xxxvii. 
Isaiah xl. — xliii. &c. 
Isaiah xxii. ver. 15. 
Jeremiali i. ii. 
JeremiaJi xi. ver. 1 — 18. 
Jeremiah iii. — x. xii. — xxi. 
Jeremiah xi. ver. 18, &c. 
Habbakkuk i. ii. iii. Zephaniahi. ii. iii- 
Jeremiali xxii. ver. 1 — 24. 
Jeremiah xxvi. 
Jeremiiih xxv. 
Jeremiah xxxv. 
Jeremiah xlvi. 
Jeremiali xxxvi. ver. 1—9. 
Jeremiah xiv. 
Daniel i. 

Jeremiah xxxvi. ver. 9, &c. 
Daniel ii. 

Jeremiah xxii. ver. 24, &c. 
Jeremiah xxiii 
Jeremiah xiii. ver. 13, &c. 
Jeremiah xxiv. 
Jeremiah xlix. ver. 34, &c- 
Jeremiah xxix. 
Jeremiah xxx. xxxi. 
Jeremiah xxvii. 
Jeremiali xxviii. 
Jeremiah 1. li. 
Ezekiel i.— vii. 
Ezekiel viii. — xi. 
Ezekiel xii. — xix. 
Ezekiel xx. — xxiii. 
Jeremiah xxi. xxxiv. ver- 1 — 8 
Jeremiali xlvii. 



THE WORD OF GOD. 



57 



pensation be abolished ; for we are not to reckon It an useless 
part of scripture, or that it does not at all concern us. Since, 



In the same year 

In tlie same year 
590 Zedekiah 10. Jeholachin's capt. 
lU. 

In the same year 

In t]ie same }'eai' 

III the same year '• 

In the same yeiU* 

In tJie same year 

In the same year 

In the same year 

In the same ycai* 
589 Zedekiali 11. Jeholachin's capt. 

11. first month 

In the same year,tliird month 

In the same year, fourth month 

In tlie same yeai*, fifth or sixth 

month 
In the same year 



Jeremiah xlviii. xlix. ver. 1 — 34. 
Ezekiel xxiv. xxv. 
Jeremiah xxxvli. ver. 1 — 11. 

Jeremiah xxxiv. ver. 8, &c. 
JeremitJi xxxvii. ver. 11 — 16. 
Jeremiiih xxxii. xxiii. 
Ezekiel xxix. vea-. 1 — 17- xxx. 
Jeremiali xxxvii. ver. 17, &c. 
Jeremiah xxxviii. ver. 1 — 14. 
Jeremiah xxxix. ver. 15, &c. 
Jeremiah xxxviii. ver. 14, &c. 

Ezekiel xxxvf. xxxvii. xxxviii, 

Ezekiel xxxi. 

Jeremiah xxxix. ver. 1 — 11. lii. ver. 

1—30. 
Jeremiah xxxix. ver. 11 — 15. xl. ver, 

1-7. 
Jeremiah xl. ver. 7. xli. xlii. xliii. xliv. 

ver. 1—8. 



PROPHETS AFTER THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE, DURING 

THE CAPTI\TrY. 

588 JEHOIACHIN's captivity 12. 
tenth month 

In the same year, twelfth month 

Between the 12 and 25 capti- 
vity 

In the same year 

In the same year 

In this year Nebuchadnezzar set 
up his golden image 
574 Jehoiachin's captivity 25. 
569 Jehoiachm's captivity 30. 

In the same year 
562 Jehoiachin's captivity 37- 
555 Belshazzar 1. 
553 Belshazzar 3. 
539 Belshazzar 17. 
538 Darius the Mede 1. 

In the same year 
536 CjTus 1. 
535 Cyrus 2. 



Ej^ckiel xxxiii. 
Ezekiel xxxii." 
Ezekiel xxxiv. xxxvi. xxxvii. xxxviii. 

xxxix. 
Obadiah 
Ezekiel xxxv. 

Daniel iii. 

Ezekiel xl. xli. &c. 

Ezekiel xxxi. ver. 17, &c. 

Daniel iv. 

Jeremiah lii. ver. 31, ^c. 

Daniel vii. 

Daniel viii. 

Daniel v. 

Daniel vi. 

Daniel ix. 

Ezra i. ii. 

Ezra iii. 



l»ROPHETS AFTER THE CAPTIVITY UNDER THE SECOND TEMPLR. 



535 CYRUS 2. 

In the tliird year of Cmis, and 
tliii-d after the captivity 

520 Darius Hystaspis 2. sixth month 
In the same year and month 
In the same jear, seventh month 
In the same year, eighth month 
In the same \cm; ninth month 

Vol. I. 



Ezra iv. 

Daniel x. xi. xii. 
Haggai i. ver. 1 — 12. 
Haggai i. ver. 12, &c. Ezra v. 
Haggai ii. ver. 1 — 10. 
Zechariah i. ver. 1 — 7- 
Haggai ii. ver. 10, £sc. 

H 



SB IHE WORD OF GOD. 

(1.) file greatest part of the doctrines contained therein af6 
of perpetual obligation to the church, in all the dispensations 
or changes thereof. 

(2.) As for the ceremonial law, which is abolished, with some 
other forensick, or political laws, by which the Jews, in parti- 
cular, were governed, these, indeed, are not so far a rule of 
obedience to us, as that we should think ourselves obliged to 
observe them, as the Jews Avere of old : notwithstanding, 

(3.) Even these are of use to us, as herein we see what was 
then the rule of faith and obedience to the church, and how 
far it agrees as to the substance thereof, or things signified 
thereby, with the present dispensation ; so that it is of use to us, 
as herein we see the wisdom, sovereignty, and grace of God 
to his church in former ages, and how what was then typified 
or prophesied, is fulfilled to us. Thus it is said, that xvhatsc- 
rver thing's were written afore-time^ ruere zvrittenfor our learn- 
ings that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures^ 
might have hope^ Rom. xv. 4. 

The scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain a re- 
velation of the whole mind and will of God, and therefore are 
very justly styled a perfect rule of faith and obedience. Never- 
theless, 

We do not hereby intend that they contain an account of 
everv thing that God' hath done, or will do, in his works oi 
providence and grace, from the beginning to the end of time ; 
for such a large knowledge of things is not necessary for us to 
attain. ITius it is said, John xx. 30. that Christ did many other 
signs^ that are not written in the gospel ; but those things that 
are contained therein, are written that xve 7night believe; there - 



"In the same yeia-, eleventh month Zechariah i. ver. 7, ^c. ii. — \\. 
516 Darius 3. Eara v. ver. 3, &c. 

518 Darius 4. Ezra vi. ver. 1 — 15. 

In the same year, ninth month Zech. vii. viii. 
Subsequent to the fourth year 

of DiU'ius Hystaspes Zechariah ix. — xiv. 

515 Darius 6; Ezra vi. ver. 15, &c. 

462 Ahasuerus 3. Esther i. 

461 Aliasuerus 4. Esther ii. ver. 1 — 16. 

458 Ahasuerus 7. Ezra vii. — x. 

In tlie same year Esther ii. ver. 16 — 21'. 

457 Ahasueriis 8. Esther ii. ver. 21, Cifc. 

453 Ahasuerus 12. Esther iii. iv. v. &c. 

445 Ahc-suerus 20. Nehemiali i. — m. &c. 

433 Ah.isuwus 32'. Nehemiah xiii. ver. 6. 

- 429 Ah-.isuei-us 36. Malaclvi i.— iv. 

428 Aliusuerus 37- Nehemiah xiii. ver. 6, fjc. 

*96 Ptolemy Soter 9 The Canon of the Old Testament cot. 

pletcd, by adding' two books of Cliro- 
nicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, E;ither, anfl 
Malachi; by Simos the Just." 

Dk. Tatlod. 



THE WORD OF OOD. ^9 

fore we have a sufficient account thereof to support our faith ; 
and that there -wei-e many other things xvhich Jesus did^ which, 
if they should be written every one, the world xvoidd not COJI'- 
tain the books that should be written, John xxi. 25. («) 

Nor do we understand hereby, that God has given us an 
account of all his secret counsels and purposes relating to the 
event of things, or the final estate of particular persons, ab- 
stracted from those marks on which our hope of salvation is 
founded, or their outward condition, or the good or bad sucr- 
cess that shall attend their undertakings in the world, or the 
time of their living therein : these, and many more events of 
the like nature, are secrets which we are not to enquire into, 
God having not thought fit to reveal them in his word, for 
wise ends best known to himself, which shews his sovereignty, 
with respect to the matter of revelation ; Secret things belong 
unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed be- 
long unto us, and to our children, Deut. xxix. 29. When Peter 
was over-curious in enquiring concerning the future estate or 
condition of John, our Saviour gives him this tacit reproof, 
What is that to thee ? John xxi. 21, 22. 

Nor are we to suppose that the divine perfections, which are 
infinite, are fully and adequately revealed to man, since it is 
impossible that they should, from the nature of the thing ; for 
that Avhich is in itself incomprehensible, cannot be so revealed 
that we should be able fully to comprehend it, though that 
which is possible, or at least necessary, to be known of God, is 
clearly revealed to us. 

Again, we do not suppose that every doctrine, that is to be 
assented to as an article of faith, is revealed in express words 
in scripture, since many truths are to be deduced from it by 
just and necessary consequences, which thereby become a rule 
of faith. 

Nor are we to suppose that every part of scripture fully and 
clearly discovers all those things which are contained in the 
whole of it, since there was farther light given to the church, 
by degrees, in succeeding ages, as it grew up, from its infant- 
state, to a state of perfect manhood; therefore there is a clear- 
er and fuller revelation of the glorious mysteries of the gospel, 
under the New Testament-dispensation, than there was before 
it. The apostle uses the same metaphorical way of speaking, 
when he compares the state of the church, under the ceremo- 
nial law, to that of an heir under age, or of children under the 
direction of tutors and governors, v.^hose instruction and ad^ 
vances in knowledge are proportioned to their age ; so Go4 

• . (o) MVfxd^ is the unregenerate -vorld, John viJ. 7. and yitfw*t, is to receive k'lnd- 
Itj, 2 Cor. vii. 2. 



60 THE WORD OF GOD. 

revealed his word at sundry times^ as well as in divers manners^ 
Gal. iv. 1, 3. Hfb. i. 1. ' 

The word of God, accompanied with those additional helps 
betorc mentioned, for the churches miderstanding the sense 
thereof, was always, indeed, sufficient to lead men into the 
knowledge of divine truth ; but the canon being compleated, 
it is so now in an eminent degree ; and it is agreeable to the di- 
vine perfections that such a rule should be given ; for since sal- 
vation could not be attained, nor God glorified, without a dis- 
cover)^ of those means, which are conducive thereto, it is not 
consistent with his wisdom and goodness that we should be left 
at the utmost uncertainty as to this matter, and, at the same 
time, rendered incapable of the highest privileges which attend 
instituted worship. Can we suppose that, when all other things 
necessary to salvation are adjusted,'-and many insuperable dif- 
ficulties surmounted, and an invitation given to come and par- 
take of it, that God should lay such a bar in our way, that it 
should be impossible for us to attain it, as being without a suf- 
ficient rule ? 

And since none but God can give us such an one, it is in- 
consistent with his sovereignty to leave it to men, to prescribe 
what is acceptable in his sight. They may, indeed, give laws, 
and thereby oblige their subjects to obedience ; but thtrse must 
be such as are within their own sphere ; their power does not 
extend itself to religious matters, so that our faith and duty to 
God should depend upon their will ; for this would be a bold 
presumption, and extending their authority and influence be- 
yond due bounds ; therefore since a rule of faith is necessarj-, 
we must conclude that God has given us such an one ; and it 
must certainly be worthy of himself, and therefore perfect, and 
every way sufficient to answer the end thereof. 

That it is so, farther appears from the event, or from the 
happy consequences of our obedience to it; from that peace, 
jov, and holiness, which believers are made partakers of, while 
steadfastly adhering to this rule : thus it is said, that tlirouffh 
comfort of the scriptures they have hope^ Rom. xv..4. and that 
hereby the man of God is made zvise to salvation^ and perfect^ 
thoroiighlif furnished vnto all good works^ 2 Tim. iii. 15, 17. 
The perfection of the law is demonstrated, by the Psalmist, by 
its effects, in that it converts the soul^ makes raise, the simple^ 
rejoices the hearty enlightens the eyes^ Psal. xix. f, 8. 

We might farther argue, that the scripture is a perfect rule 
,of faith, from those threatnings which are denounced against 
(hem, who pretend to add to, or take from it; this v/as strictly 
forbidden, even when there was but a. part of scripture com- 
mitted to writing. Thus says God ; Te shall not add to the 
coord ivhich J command you; neither shall ye diminish ought 



THE WORD OF COD. 61 

from it^ Deut. iv. 2. And the apostle denounces an anathema 
against any one who should pretend to preach any other gospel, 
than that which he had received from God, Gal. i. 8, 9. And, 
in the close of the scripture, our Saviour testifies, to every man, 
that if any should add to these things, God tvould add to him the 
plagues written in this book. And if any should take away 
from this book, Godxvould take awatj his part out of the book of 
life. Rev. xxii. 18, 19. 

Thus having considered the scripture as a rule of faith, we 
proceed to shew what are the properties which belong to it as 
such. 

1. A rule, when it is designed for genend use, must have 
the sanction of public authority : thus human laws, by which a 
nation is to be governed, which are a rule to determine the 
goodness or badness of men's actions, and their desert of re- 
wards or punishments accordingly, must be established by pub- 
lic authority. Even so the scripture is a rule of faith, as it 
contains the divine laws, bv which the actions of men are to 
be tried, together with the ground which some have to expect 
future blessedness, and others to fear punishments threatened to 
those who walk not according to this rule. 

2. A rule by which we are to judge of the nature, truth, ex- 
cellency, perfection, or imperfection of any thing, must be in- 
fallible, or else it is of no use ; and, as such, nothing must be 
added to, or taken from it, for then it would cease to be a per- 
fect rule : thus it must be a certain and impartial standard, by 
which things are to be tried : Such a rule as this is scripture, as 
was but now observed. And it is an impartial rule, to which, as 
a standard, all truth and goodness is to be reduced and measured 
by it ; To the knv, and to the testimony ; if theij speak not ac- 
cording to this xuord, it is because there is no light iw them, Isa. 
viii. 20. 

3 All appeals are to be made to ^ rule, and controversies to 
be tried and determined by it. Thus the scripture, as it is a 
rule of faith, is a judge of controversies ; so that whatever 
different sentiments men have about religion, all must be redu- 
ced to, and the warrantableness thereof tried hereby, and a 
stop put to growing errors bv an appeal to this rule, rather 
than to coercive power, or the carnal weapons of violence and 
persecution. 

Moreover, the judgment we pass on ourselves, as being sin- 
cere or hypocrites, accepted or rejected of God, is to be formed 
by comparing our conduct with scripture, as the rule by which 
we are to try the goodness or badness of our state, and of our 
actions. 

4. A rule must have nothing of a different nature set up in 
competition wdth, or opposition to it j for that would be to ren- 



62 THE WORD OF GOD. 

der it useless, and unGt to be the standard of tiuth : tlius scrip- 
ture is the only rule of faith, and therefore no human traditions 
are to be set up as standards of faith in competition with it, for 
that would be to suppose it not to be a perfect rule. This the 
Papists do, and therefore may be charged, as the Pharisees 
were of old by our Saviour, with transgressing and inaking the 
i-o?nmandment of none effect bij their tradition^ Mat. xv. 3, 6. 
concerning whom he also says, that in vain they -worship hiniy 
teaching for doctrines the commandments of men^ ver. 9. What 
is this but to reflect on the wisdom, and affront the authority 
and sovereignty of God, by casting this contempt on that rule 
of faith which he hath given ? 

Having considered scripture as a rule of faith and obedience, 
it is farther observed, that it is the only rule thereof, in opposi- 
tion to the Popish doctrine of human traditions, as pretended 
to be of equal authority with it; by which means the law of 
God is made void at this day, as it was by the Jews in our 
Saviour's time, and the scripture supposed to be an imperfect 
rule ; the defect whereof they take this method to supply ; and 
to give countenance thereto, 

1. Tliey refer to those Scriptures, in which, it is said, our 
Saviour did manif other signs in the presence of his disciples^ 
■which are not written^ Jo^^" xx. 30. and his own words, where- 
in he tells them, that he had 7nany things to say unto them^ 
ivhich they could not then bear^ John xvi. 12. as also to the 
words of the apostle Paul, Acts xx. Z5. in which he puts the 
church in mind of a saving of our Saviour, received by tradi- 
tion, because not contained in any of the evangels, viz, it is 
viore blessed to give than to receive. 

To which it may be replied, 

Ansxv, (1.) That though it is true there were many things 
done, and words spoken by our Saviour, which are not record- 
ed in Scripture, and therefore we must be content not to know 
them, being satisfied with this, that nothing is omitted therein 
which is necessary to salvation, yet to pretend to recover, or 
transmit them to us by tradition, is to assert and not to prove, 
what thev impose on us as matters ol faith. 

(2.) Those things which our Saviour had to say, which he 
did not then impart to his disciples, because they were not able 
to bear them, respected, as is more than probable, what he de- 
signed to discover to them after his resurrection, during his 
fortv days abode here on earth, or by his Spirit, after his as- 
cension into heaven, concerning the change of the Sabbath, from 
the seventh, to the first day of tlie week, the abolition of the 
ceremonial law, the Spirituality of his kingdom, which they 
were at that time less able to bear than they were afterwards, 
•at>d other things relating to the success of their ministry', the 



THE WORD OF G0I>4 G3 

gathering and governing of those churches, which should be 
planted by them ; these seem to be intended by that txpres- 
Kion, and not those doctrines which the Papists transmit by 
oral traditions ; such as the use of oil and spittle, together with 
water in baptism, and the sign of the cross therein ; the bap- 
tism of bells, the lighting up of candles in churches at noon- 
day : nor that of purgatory, or praying for the dead, or giving 
divine adoration to images or relics, which are altogether un- 
scriptural, and such as he would not have, at any time, com- 
municated unto them. 

(3.) Those words of our Saviour, It is more blessed to g-ive 
than to receive, though they are not contained in one distinct 
proposition, or in express words in the gospels, yet he therein 
exhorts his people to give to him that asketh ; and speaks of the 
blessing that attends this duty, that they might he, that is, ap- 
prove themselves to be the children of their Father, Mat. v. 42. 
compared with 45. and exhorts them to hospitality to the poor^ 
and adds a blessing to it, Luke xiv. 12, 13, 14. Or, suppose 
the apostle refers to a saying fi"equently used by our Saviour, 
which might then be remembered by some who had conversed 
with him ; this is no sufficient warrant for any one to advance 
doctrines contrary to those our Saviour delivered, under a pre- 
tence of having received them by unwritten tradition. 

2. This doctrine is farther defended from the words of the 
apostle, in 1 Tim. vi. 20. where he advises Timothy to keep 
that -which xvas committed to his trust, viz. those traditions 
which he was to remember and communicate to others : and 
also the advice which he gives to the church, To hold the tra~ 
ditions xvhich they had been taught, either by xvord or by his 
epistle, 2 Thess. ii. 15. the former respects, say they, unwrit- 
ten traditions, the latter is inspired writings. 

AnsTv. That which was committed to Timothy to keep, was 
either the form of sound words, or the gospel, which he was to 
hold fast, 2 Tim. i. 13. or the ministry which he had received 
of the Lord, or those gifts and graces which were communicated 
to him, to fit him for public service. And as for those tradi- 
tions which he speaks of in the other scripture, the meaning is 
only this : that they should remember not only the doctrines 
they had received from him, which were contained in his in- 
spired epistles, but those which w^ere agreeable to scripture, that 
he had imparted in the exercise of his public ministry ; the for- 
mer were to be depended upon as an infallible rule of failh, the 
latter to be retained and improved as agreeable thereunto, and 

3. They farther add, that it was by this means that God in- 
structed his church for above two thousand years before the 
scripture was committed to writing. 

Ansxv. To this it may be replied, that God communicated 



64< THE WORD OF GOb. 

his mind and will to them, during that interval, in an extraordi- 
nary manner, as has been before observed, page 52, 53. which 
cannot be said of any of those traditions which are pleaded for 
by them. 

4. It is farther argued, that the book of the law was former- 
ly lost in Josiah's time ; for it is said, that when it was found, 
and a part of it read to him, he rent his clothes, and was aston- 
ished, as though he had never read it before, 2 Kings xxii. 8. 
to 11. yet he being a good man, was well instructed in the doc- 
trines of religion ; therefore this must have been by tradition. 

Answ. To this it may be answered, that the book, which was^ 
then found, was doubtless, an original manuscript of Scripture, 
cither of all the books of Moses or Deuteronomy in particular, 
but it is not to be supposed that he had never read it before ; 
for a person may be affected at one time in reading that portion 
of scripture, which he has often read without its having the 
like effect upon him ; and doubtless, there were many copies 
of scripture transcribed, by which he was made acquainted 
with the doctrines of religion, without learning them from un- 
certain traditions. 

5. They farther allege, that some books of scripture are 
lost, and therefore it is necessary that they should be supplied 
this way; the instances they give of this are some books refer- 
red to in scripture, viz. the book of the wars of the Lord^ Numb. 
xxi. 14. and another going under the name of Jasher, 2 Sam. 
i. 18. compared with Josh. x. 13. and another called the hook 
of the acts of Solomon^ 1 Kings xi. 41. and also his Songs and 
Proverbs, and the account he gives of trees^ plants^ beasts^ 

fowlsy creeping- things, and fishes, 1 Kings, iv. 32. 33. There 
are also other books said to bt written by Samuel, Nathan, and 
Gad, 1 Chron. xxix. 29. the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, 
and the visions of Iddo the seer, 2 Chron. ix. 29. and Jeremiah's 
lamentation for Josiah, is said to be written in the books of the 
Lamentations, 2 Chron. xxxv. 25. whereas there is no mention 
of Josiah in the book of scripture, which goes under that name ; 
therefore they suppose that there was some other book so called, 
which was written by that prophet, but is now lost. 

Anszv. 1, As to the argument in general, that some books 
of scripture are lost, suppose we should take it for granted that 
they are so, must this loss be supplied by traditions, pretended 
to be divine, though without sufficient proof: however, I am 
not willing to make this concession, though, indeed, some Pro- 
testant divines have done it, as thinking it equally supposable, 
that some books, written by divine inspiration, might be lost, 
as well as many words spoke by the same inspiration : but even 
these constantly maintain that whatever inspired writings may 
have been lost, yet there is no doctrine necessary to the edifica- 



THE WORD or COD. G^ 

tiou of the church, in what immediately relates to salvation, but 
what is contained in those writings, vrhich are preserved, by 
the care and goodness of providence, to this da}-; but, wiihout 
giving into this concession, I would rather adhere to the 
more commonly received opinion, that no book designed to be 
a part of the canon of scripture is lost, though many uninspired 
writings have perished; and therefore as to those books but 
now mentioned, they refer to some books of scripture, in 
which we have no mention of the inspired writers thereof, 
which, as is more than probable, were wrote by some noted 
prophet that flourished in the church at that time, which their 
respective histories refer to ; therefore some suppose that the 
books of Nathan and Gad, or Iddo, refer to those of Kings or 
Chronicles, which are not lost. But since this is only a proba- 
ble conjecture, we pass it over, and add, that it is not unrea- 
sonable to suppose that the books said to be written by them, as 
also those of Solomon, that are npt contained in scripture, were 
not written by divine inspiration, which is not only a safe but 
suificient answer to the objection. As for Jeremiah's lamenta- 
tion for Josiah, it is probable that the book of scripture, which 
goes under that name, was written on the occasion of Josiah's 
death, in which, though he doth not mention the name of that 
good king, yet he laments the desolating judgments which were 
to follow soon after it. 

Moreover, the Papists pretend, that some part of the New 
Testament is lost; particularl}- the epistle from Laodicea, men- 
tioned in Col. iv. 16. and one writen to the Corinthians, 710 1 
to company -with fornicators^ 1 Cor. v. 9. and another mention- 
ed, 2 Cor. vii. 8. by xvhich he made them sorry. 

Ansxv. 1. As to the epistle from Laodicea that was probably 
one of his inspired epistles, written by him \s hen at Laodice;?, 
and not directed, as is pretended, to the Laodiceans. 

2. As to that epistle, which he is supposed to ha\e written to 
the Corinthians, it is not expressly said that it was another epis- 
tle he had \v'rote to them; but it is plainly intimated, ver. 12. 
that he refers to the epistle, which he Avas then writing to them ; 
a part of Avhlch related to that subject, as this chapter, in par- 
ticular does, , 

3. As to the letter, which he wrote to them, -tvhich made 
them sorry ^ it is not necessary to suppose that it was written by 
divine inspiration ; for as every thing he delivered by word of 
mouth, was not by the extraordinary afflatus of the Holy Ghost, 
why mav we not suppose that there were several epistles written 
by him to the churches, some to comfort, others to admonish, 
reprove, or make them sorr)-, besides those that he was inspired 
to write ?' 

Having considered the arguments brought to prove that some 

voi.. r. i 



6€r TtiE WORD OF GO0* 

books of scripture are lost, we shall now prove, on the othei- 
hand, that we have the canon thereof compleat and entire* 
Some think this is sufficiently evident from what our Saviour 
says. Till heaven and earth pass axvay^ one jot ^ or tittle shall not 
pass from the /aw. Mat. v. 18. and it is easier for heaven and 
earth to pass ^ than for one tittle of the lauo to fail^ Luke xvi. 17. 
If God will take care of eyery jot and tittle of scripture, will he 
not take care that no whole book, designed to be a part of the 
rule of faith, should be entirely lost f It is objected, indeed, to 
this, that our Saviour hereby intends principally the doctrines 
or precepts contained in the law ; but if the subject matter 
thereof shall not be lost, surely the scripture that contains it 
shall be preserved entire. 

But this will more evidently appear, if we consider that the 
books of the Old Testament were compleat in our Saviour's 
time ', for it is said, That beginning at Moses^ and all the pro- 
phetSy he expounded to them in all the scriptures^ the things con- 
cerning himself I^uke xxiv. 27. and this may also be proved 
from what the apostle says, Whatsoever things were rvritten 
aforetime^ zuere rvritten for our learnings Rom. xv. 4. now it is 
impossible that they should be written for our learning if they 
are lost. 

To this it niSy be added, that the goodness of God, and the 
care of his providence, with respect to this church, farther 
evinces this truth ; fcH- if he gave them ground to conclude that 
he xuould be with them ahvays^ even to the end of the worlds 
Matth. xxviii. 20. surely this argues, that he would preserve 
the rule he had given them to walk by, from all the injuries of 
time, so that it should not be lost to the end of the world. 

Again, the Jews were the keepers of the oracles of God,^ 
Rom. iii. 2. now they are not reproved by our Saviour, or the 
apostle Paul, for any unfaithfulness in not preserving them en- 
tire ; and certainly our Saviour, when he reproves them for 
making void the law by their traditions, and threatens those 
that should add to or take from it, if he had found them favilty, 
in not having faithfully preserved all the scriptures committed 
to them, he would have severely reproved them for this great 
breach of trust. 

Object. It is objected against the scriptures being a perfect 
rule of faith, that they are in several places corrupted, viz. that 
the Old Testament was so by the Jews, out of malice against 
our Saviour, and the Christian religion, that they might con- 
ceal, or pervert to another sense, some prophecies relating to 
the Messiah, and the gospel-state. And as for the New Tes- 
tament, they pretend that it was corrupted by some heretics, in 
defence of their perverse doctrines. 

Ansxv, 1 . As to the Old Testament, it is very improbable 



THE WORD OF GOD. 67 

^nd unreasonable to suppose that it was corrupted by the Jews. 
For, 

(1.) Before our Saviour's time, no vakiable end could be 
answered thereby ; for then they expected the Messiah to come, 
according to what was foretold by the prophets, and understood 
their predictions in a true sense. 

(2.) After he was come, and Christianity took place in the 
world, though malice might have prompted them to it, yet they 
would not do it, because they had always been trained up in 
this notion, that it was the vilest crime to add to, take from, or 
alter it: so that one of their own writers* says concerning 
them, that they would rather die an hundred deaths, than suf- 
fer the law to be changed in any instance ; yea, they have such 
a veneration for the law, that if, by any accident, part of it 
should fall to the ground, they would proclaim a fast as fearing 
lest, for this, God would destroy the whole world, and reduce 
it to its first chaos : and can any one think, that, under any 
pretence whatever, they would designedly corrupt the Old Tes- 
tament ? Yea, they were so far from doing it, that they took 
the greatest care, even to superstition, to prevent its being cor- 
rupted, through inadvertency, and accordingly numbered not 
only the books and sections, but even the words and letters, 
that not a single letter might be added to, or taken from it. 

(3.) If they had any inclination to do this, out of malice 
against Christianity, it would have been to no purpose, after 
our Saviour's time ; for it was then translated into Greek, and 
this translation was in the hands of almost all Christians ; so 
that the fallacy would soon have been detected. And if they 
had corrupted some copies of the Hebrew Bible, the}' could 
not have corrupted or altered them all ; therefore to attempt 
any thing of this kind, would have been to expose themselves 
to no purpose. 

(4.) It would not have been for their own advantage to per- 
vert it; for, in altering the texts that make for Christianity, 
they would (especially if the fraud should have been detected) 
have weakened their own cause so far, that the reputation of 
scripture being hereby lost, they could not have made use of it 
to that advantage, to prove their own religion from it. 

But, notwithstanding all this out-cry of the scriptures being 
perverted, they pretend to give no proof hereof, except in two 
or three words, which do not much affect the cause of Christi- 
anity ; whereas, if the Jews had designed to pervert it, why did 
they not alter the fift)'-third of Isaiah, and many other scrip- 



* Vid. Philo. Jud. de Vit. Mosis ; & eund. citat. ab Euseb. in Prxp. Evatiff. I. viii. 
6. & J«Hfph. contr. .1pp. I. ii. 



68 ' THE WORD OF GOD. 

tures, which so plainly speak of the person and offices of the 
Messiah r 

2. As to the other pai-t of the objection, that the New Tes- 
tament hath been corrupted b}" heretics since our Saviour's 
time, \yhatever charge hath been brought against the Arians, 
and some others, of leaving out some words, or verses, which 
tend to overthrow their scheme, they have not been able, even 
when the empire was most favourable to their cause, to alter 
all th^ copies ; so that their fallacy has been detected, and the 
corruption amended. 

As for those various readings that there are of the same 
text, these consist principally in literal alterations, which do 
not much tend to pervert the sense thereof. It was next to 
impossible for so many copies of scripture to be transcribed 
without some mistakes, since they who were employed in this 
work were not under the infallible direction of the Spirit of 
God, as the first penm.en were ; yet the providence of God hath 
Jiot suffered them to make notorious mistakes ; and whatever 
mistakes there may be in one copy, they may be corrected b}'" 
another ; so that the scripture is not, for this reason, chargea- 
ble with the reproach cast upon it, as though it were not a per- 
fect rule of faith. 



Quest. IV. How doth it appear that the scriptures are the 
word of God P 

Answ. The scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of 
God by their majesty and purity ; by the consent of all the 
parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory 
to God^ by their light and power to convince and convert 
sinners, to comfort and build up believers to salvation : but 
the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the scriptures 
in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it, that 
they are the word of God. 

EFORE we proceed to consider the arguments here 
brought to prove the scriptures to be the word of God, 
oome things may be premise.d.(a) 

((t) " Since God has been pleased to leave us the Records of the Je^oish Reli- 
_?;ion, which was of old the true religion, and affords no sn\all testimfmy to the 
Chnstii^n relig-ion, it is not foreign to our ptirpose, to see upon what foundation 
the credibility of these is built. That these books are theu-s, to whom ihey are 
ascribed, appears in the same manner as we have proved of our books. And tiiey, 
whose names tliev bear, were either Prc-phets, or men worthy to be credited ; 
such as Esdras, who is suppo.sed to have collected 1 hem into one volume,. at that 
time, when the Prophets Huggai, Mnlacki, and Zucharias, were 3et ahve. I wiU 
not here repeat what was said before, in commendation oi Moses. And not only 
tii^L (irst part, delivered by Mosess, as we have shewn in the first book, i-ut the 



THE WORD OF GOD. 69 

1. When we speak of the scriptures as divine, we do not 
only mean that they treat of God and divine things ; to wit, 

■■■■ ; ' ~ - 

latter history is confirmed by many Pagans. *Thus the Phaiiician annals men- 
tion the names of Davidand Solomon, and the league tliey made with the Tyrians. 
A ad Berosus, as well as tl\e Hebrew books, mention j\'abuchadonosur, and other 
L'hahUans. Vaphres, the king of Egypt in Jeremiah is the same with Jipries in 
Herodotus. And the Greek books are tilled with Cyrus and his successors down 
to Darius ; and Josephus in his book against .ippion, quotes many other things 
elating to the Jeivish nation : To which may be added, that we above took out 
of Strabo and Tragus. But there is no reason for us Cliristians to doubt of the 
credibility of these books, because there are testimonies in our books, out of al- 
most ever}' one of them, the same as they are found in the Hebrew. Nor did 
Clu-ist when he blamed many things in the teachers of the law, and in the Phari- 
sees of his time, ever accuse them of falsifying the books of J\Ioses and the Pro- 
phets, or of using supposititious or altered books. And it can never bef proved or 
made credible, that after Christ's time, the scripture should be corrupted in any 
thing of moment; if we do but consider how fai* and wide the Jewish nation, who 
every where kept those books, was dispersed over the whole world. For first, 
tiie ten tribes were can'ied into Media by tiie Assyrians, and afterwards the other 
two. And many of these fixed themselves in foreign countries, after they had a 
permission from Cyrus to return : the JMucedonians invited them into Me.vandria 
with gi-eat advantages ; the cruelty of Jintiochns, the civil war of the Asmornei, 
and the foi'eigii wars of Pompey Siwd Sossins, scattered a great m.any ; the country 
of Cyrene was filled with Jews; the cities of Jisia, J\[acedoida, Lycuorda, and tlie 
Isles of Cyprus, and Crete, and others, were fidl of them ; and that there was a 
vast number of them in Rome, we learn from Horace, Juvenal, and Martial. It 
is inlpossible that such distant bodies of men should be imposed upon by any art 
whatsoever, or that they should agree in a falsity. We may add further that al- 
most threohundi'ed years before Christ, by the care of the Egyptian kings, the 
Hebrew books were translated into Greek by those who are called the Seventy ,- 
that tlie Greeks might have them in another language, but tlie sense the same in 
the main ; upon which account they were the less liable to be altered : And the 
same books were translated into Chaldee, and into the Jerusalem language ; that 
is, half iS'^r/acy partly a little before, and partly a little afier Christ's time. After 
wliich followed other Greek versions, that of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodo- 
/ion/ which Origen, aiid others after him, compared with the seventy Interpre- 
ters, and found no difference in the histoiT; or in any weighty matters. Philo 
flourished in Caligida's time, and Josephus lived till Vespasian's. Each of thi m 
quote out of the Hebrew books the same things that we find at this day. By this 
time the Christian religion began to be more and m.ore spread, and many of its 
professors were Hebrews : Many had studied the Hebrew learning, who could very 
easily have pei'ceived and discovered it, if the Jews had received any thing that 
was false, in any remarkable subject, I mean, by comparing it with more ancient 
books. But they not only do this, but they bring very many testimonies out of 
the Old Testament, plainly in that sense in which they are received amongst the 
Hebrews, which Hebrews may be convicted ot any crime, sooner than (I \\ill not 
say of falsity, but) of negligence, in relation to these books ; because they used to 
transcribe and compai-e them so very scrupulously, that they could tell how often 
every letter came over. "NVe may add, in the first place, an argument, and that 
no mean one, why the Jews did not alter the scripture designedly ; because the, 
Clu'istians prove, and as they think very strongly, that their Master Jesus wa^; 
that very Messiah who was of old promised to the f(;refathers of tlie Jews ; and 
vhis from those very books, which were read by the Jews. "V^'hich ilie Je\f5 

*Thus (/;« Phoenician Annuls, gtc] See what Joxephus cites out of thpni. BpoI; Vtll. rhap. 
?,. of his AncifPt History ; where he adds, " that if any one would see the Copies of those F.pis- 
'■ ties which Silomon and Hirom wrote to each other, they may be procured of the public Keep- 
" ers of the Records at Tytm." (We must I.e cautions how we lietievc tin" ; liowever, see 
what I have said upon 1 Kitirv v. .^.) There is a remarkable pl^^ce concerning David, (puitfd by 
Juitphua. Book VU, CIi. 6. of his Anciei c History, cut of the IVdi of Diimasanus's Histoiy. 



f^ THE WORD or GO©. 

his nature and works, as referring principally to the subject 
matter thereof; for this may be said of many human uninspired 
writings, which, in proportion to the wisdom of their authors, 
tend to set forth the divane perfections. And when, as the 
consequence hereof, we assert that every thing contained there- 
in is infalHbly true, we do not deny but that there are many 
things, which we receive from human testimony, of which it 
would be scepticism to entertain the least doubt of the truth ; 
notwithstanding, when we receive a truth from human tes- 
timony, we judge of the certainty thereof, by the credi- 
bility of the evidence, and, in proportion thereunto, there is a 
degree of certainty arising from it : but when we suppose a 
truth to be divine, we have the highest degree of certainty 
equally applicable to every thing that is so, and that for this 
reason, because it is the word of him that cannot lie. Thus we 
consider the holy scriptures, as being of a divine original, or 
given by the inspiration of God, or as his revealed will, de- 
signed to bind the consciences of men ; and that the penmen 
were not the inventers of them, but only the instruments made 
use of to convey these divine oracles to us, as the apostle says, 
2 Pet. i. 21. Prophecy came not in old time by the xvill of man ; 
hut holy men of God spake., as they were moved by the Holy 
Ghost: and the apostle Paul says, Gal. i. 11, 12. I certify unto 
you., that the gospel^ which was preached of me., is not after 
man; neither received I it of man ; neither was I taught it., but 
by the revelation of Jesus Christ : the former asserts this con- 
ceniing scripture in general, and the latter concerning that part 
thereof which Avas transmitted to us by him : this is what we 
mean when we say the scripture is the word of God. 

2. It is necessary for us to know and believe the scriptures 
to be the word of God, because they are to be received by us 
as a rule of faith and obedience, in whatever respects divine 
things, otherwise we are destitute of a rule, and consequently 
our religion would be a matter of the greatest uncertaint}^ ; and 
as this faith and obedience is divine, it is a branch of religious 
worship, and as such, contains an entire subjection to God, a 
firm and unshaken assent to whatever he reveals as true, and a 
readiness to obey whatev^er he commands, as being influenced 
by his authority; which is inconsistent with any hesitation or, 
doubt concerning this matter. Moreover, it is only therein 
that we have an account of the \^'ay in which sinners may have 
access to God ; the terms of their finding acceptance in his 
sight, and all the promises of eternal blessedness, on which 



would ha\-e taken the gi-eatest cure should never have been, after tlieie arose a 
controversy between them and the Cliristians ; if it had ever been in their power 
to have altered what they would." GnoTirs. 



THE WORD OF GOD. /I 

their hope is founded, are contained therein ; if therefore we 
are not certain that the scriptures are the word of God, our 
faith and hope are vain; it is herein that life and immortality 
is brought to light ^ and, by searching thein^ we think that xoe 
have eternal life. 

3. As divine revelation is necessary^ so it is not impossible, 
contrary to reason or the divine perfections, for God to impait 
his mind and will to men in such a way iis we call inspiration : 
these things must be made appear, otherwise it is a vain thing 
to attempt to give arguments to prove the scriptures to be the 
word of God j and, in order hereto, let it be considered, 

(1.) That divine revelation is necessary; this appears be- 
cause as religion is necessary, so there are some things con- 
tained in it which cannot be known by the light of nature, to 
wit, all those divine laws and institutions, which are the result 
of God's expressed will ; and these could not be known by the 
light of nature, or in a way of reasoning derived from it, there- 
fore they must be known by special revelation. Positive laws, 
as opposed to those that are moral, depend upon a different 
foundation ; the glory of God's sovereignty eminently appears 
in the one, as that of his holiness doth in the other : now his 
sovereign pleasure relating thereto could never have been 
known without divine revelation, and then all that revenue of 
glory, which is brought to him thereby, would have been en- 
tirely lost, and there would have been no instituted worship in 
the world ; and the gospel, which is called the U7isearchabh 
riches of Christy Eph. iii. 8. must have been for ever a hidden 
thing, and the condition of those who bear the Christian name 
would have been no better than that of the heathen, concerning 
whose devotion, the apostle Paul, though speaking of the wisest 
and best of them says. Acts xvii. 23. that they ignorantly wor- 
shipped an xinknoxon God: and elsewhere, 1 Cor. i. 24. that the 
■world by xvisdom knexv not God ; and the reason is, because they 
were destitute of divine revelation. 

(2.) It is not impossible, contrary to reason or the divine 
perfections, that God should reveal his mind and will to man, 
which may be argued from hence ; it contains no impossibility, 
for if it be possible for one creature to impart his mind and 
will to another, then certainly God can do this, for there is no 
excellency or perfection in the creature but what is eminently 
in him ; and if it be not unworthy of the divine majesty to be 
omnipresent, and uphold all things by the word of his power, it 
^ 'vs> not unbecoming his perfections to manifest himself to intelli- 
gent creatures, who, as such, are fit to receive the discoveries 
of his mind and will; and his endowing them with laculties 
capable of receiving these manifestations, argues, that he de- 
si<med that thev should be favoured with them ; orrl theiefore 



72 THE WORD OF GOD. 

whatever displays there may be of infinite condescension there- 
in, yet it is not unbecoming his perfections so to do. 

(3.) As God cannot be at a loss for an expedient how to 
discover his mind and will to man, and is not confined to one 
certain way, so he may, if he pleases, make it known by inspi- 
ration ; it IS not impossible, neither is there any thing in the 
subjects that should hinder him from impressing whatever 
ideas he designs to impart, on the minds of men. This a finite 
spirit may do ; and that there is such a thing as this, will hardly 
be denied by any, but those who, with the Sadducees, deny 
the nature and power of spirits : it hence follows, that God can 
much more impress the souls of men, or immediately commu- 
nicate his mind to them in such a way, as we call inspiration ; 
and to deny that there is such a thing as inspiration, is not only 
to deny the credibility of scripture histor}', as well as its divine 
authority, but it is to deny that which the heathen, by the light 
of nature, have universally believed to be consonant to reason, 
and therefore they often represent their gods as conversing 
with men ; and they appear, in many of their writings, not to 
have the least doubt whether there has been such a thing as in- 
t>piration in the Avorld. 

These things being premised, we are now more particularly 
to consider those arguments which are brought to prove the 
scriptures to be the word of God, or that they were given by 
divine inspiration : these are taken either from the internal evi- 
dence we have hereof, viz. the subject matter of scripture, from 
the majesty of the style, the purity of the doctrines, the har- 
mony or consent of all its parts, and the scope or tendency.of 
the whole to give all glory to God ; or else external, taken from 
the testimony which God himself gave to it, at first by mira- 
cles, whereby the mission of the prophets, and consequently 
what they were sent to deliver, was confirmed, and afterwards, 
in succeeding ages, by the use which he hath made of it in con- 
vincing and converting sinners, and building up believers to 
salvation. These are the arguments mentioned in this answer, 
which will be distinctly considered, and some others added, as 
a farther proof of this matter, to wit, those taken from the char- 
acter of the inspired writers, particularly as they were holy 
men, and so they would not impose on the world, or pretend 
themselves to have been inspired, if they were not ; and also, as 
they were plain and honest men, void of all craft and subtilty, 
and so could not impose on the world ; and, had they attempt- 
ed to do so, thev had a great many subtle and malicious ene- 
mies, who would soon have detected the fallacy. To this we 
shall also add an argument taken from the sublimity of the doc- 
trine, in which respect it is too great, and has too much wisdom 
in it for men to have invented ; and others taken from the anti- 



THE WORD OF GOD. TS 

qulty thereof, together with its wonderful preservation, notwith- 
standing all the endeavours of its enemies to root it out of the 
world ; and then we shall consider how far the testimony of the 
church is to be regarded, not as though it contained the princi- 
pal foundation of our faiih, as the Papists suppose ; but yet this 
may be, if duly considered, an additional evidence to those that 
have been before given ; and then we shall speak something 
concerning the witness oi the Spirit with the scripture in the 
heart of man, which inclines him to be persuaded by, and rest in 
the other arguments brought to support this truth : and if all 
these be taken together, they vv'ill, we hope, beget a full convic- 
tion in the minds of men, that the scriptures are the word of 
God ; which leads us to consider the arguments in particular. 

I. From the majesty of the stvie in which it is written. This 
argument does not equally hold good \vith respect to all the 
parts of scripture ; for there is, in many places thereof, a great 
plainness of speech and familiarity of expression adapted to the 
meanest capacity, and sometimes a bare relation of things, 
without that majesty of expression, which we find in other 
places : thus in the historical books we do not observe such a 
loftiness of style, as there is in Job, Psalms, Isaiah, and some 
other of the prophets ; so that there are arguments of anothei- 
nature to prove them to be of divine authority. However, we 
may observe such expressions interspersed throughout almost 
the whole scripture, which set forth the sovereignty and great- 
ness of God; as when he is represented speaking immediately 
himself in a majestic way, tending not only to bespeak atten- 
tion^ but to strike those that hear or read with a reverential 
fear of his divine perfections ; thus, when he gives a summons 
to the whole creation to give ear to his words, Ilear^ hea- 
vens; and give ear^ earthy for the Lord hath ^poken^ Isa. i. 2. 
or, swears by himself, that unto hhn every knee shall boxo^ and 
every tongue shall swear^ chap. xlv. 23. or when it is said, 
Thus saith the Lord^ the heaven is my throne^ and the earth is 
7ny footstool^ cha.p.lxvi, 1. and elsewhere. The Lord reigneth, 
let the earth rejoice; let the midtitude of the isles be glad there- 
of Clouds and darkness are round about him; righteousness 
and judgment are the habitation of his throne. Afregoeth be- 
fore him; his lightnings enlightened the world. The hills melt- 
ed like wax at the presence of the Lord; at the presence of the 
Lord of the rvhole earthy Psal. xcvii. 1— -5. And when he is 
represented as casting contempt on all the gi'eat men of this 
world, thus he is said to cut off the spirit of princes^ and to be 
terrible to the kings of the earthy Psal. Ixxvi. 12. and to charge 
even his angels with folly ^ Job iv. 18. or when the prophet 
speaks of him, as one who had measured the xvaters in the hol- 
low of his hand^ and meted the heavens with a stan, and com- 

Vol. I. K ' 



,"-i lllE. WORD Of GOD, 

prehentkd the dust of the earth in a vieasui'e^ and xve'igked the 
mountains in scales^ and the hilla in a balance ; and that the na- 
tions of the earth are as a drop of the bucket^ and are counted as 
the small dust of the balance; yea^ as nothing., less than no- 
thing and vanity .^vihitn compared with him, Isa. xl. 12, 15, 17. 
It would be ahuost endless to refer to the many places of 
r:,cripture, in which God speaks in such a style, as is inimitable 
by any creature ; of this we have several instances in the book 
of Job^ especially in those chapters where he is represented as 
answering Job out of the whirlwind, and speaking with such a 
loftiness of style, as, it may be, the like cannot be found in any 
human composure, Job, chap, xxxviii. to xli. where such ex- 
pressions are used, which argue the style to be divine, great 
and magnificent; so that if it was not immediately from God, 
it would be the most Wold presumption for any creature to speak 
in such a way: therefore this argument, taken from the ma- 
jestic style of scripture, is not without its proper weight; how- 
ever, it may serve to prepare us to receive those other argu- 
ments, which, together with this, evince its divine original. 

II. From the purity and holiness of its doctrines, and that 
either, if we consider it absolutely, or compare it with all other 
writings, whereby it will appeal* not only to have the prefer- 
ence to them, but to be truh' divine, and so is deservedly sty- 
led the holy scripture^ Rom. i. 2. and the words thereof pure 
as silver tried in a furnace^ purified seven times ^ Psal. xii. 6* 
and to speak of right things^ in xvhich there is nothing froward 
or perverse.) Prov. viii. 6, 7, 8. Thus every one that duly 
weighs the subject matter thereof, may behold therein the dis- 
plays of the gloiy of the holiness of God : here let us consider^ 
that the word of God appears to be divine from its pui'ity and 
holiness, 

I. As considered absolutely, or in itself. For, 
(i.) It lays open the vile and detestable nature of sin, to 
render it abhorred by us. Thus the apostle says, Rom. \n. 7. 
f had not known sin; that is, I had not so fully understood the 
abominable nature thereof as I do, but by the laxv: for I had 
not knoxvn hist^ except the laxv had said., thou shalt not covet; 
and hereupon he concludes, that the laxv is holy., and the com- 
jnandincnt holy., and just., and good. 

(2.) It presents to our view the various instances of the di- 
vine vengeance,, and shews us how th(5 wrath of God is reveal- 
ed against the unrighteousness of sinners to make them afraid 
of rebelling against him. Thus it gives us an account how the 
angels hereby fell iVcni and lost their first habitation, and are 
thrust down to hell, being reserved in chains under darknessy 
unto the fadgment oj the great dmj., Jude 6. And also how 
man hereby lost his primitive integrity and glory, and exposed 



THE WORD OF GOD. 75 

luimself to the wrath and curse of God due to sin, and all the 
miseries of this life consequent thereon; and how it has des- 
troyed flourishing nations, and rendered them desolate. Thus 
it gives us an account how the Jews were first carried into 
Babylon for their idolatry, and other abominations, and after- 
wards cast off and made the sad monument of the divine wrath, 
as at this day, for crucifying Christ, persecuting his followers, 
and opposing the Gospel. It also gives an account of the dis- 
tress and terror of conscience, which wilful and presumptuous 
sins have exposed particular persons to; such as Cain, Judas 
and others ; this is described in a very pathetic manner, when 
it is said of the wicked man, who has his portion of the good 
things of this life, that when he comes to die. Tenors takt 
hold of him as waters^ a tempest stealeth him atvayin the night. 
The east wind carrieth him axvaij^ and he departeth^ and a as 
storm hurleth him out of his place. For God shall cast upon him^ 
and not spare ; he xvoiild fain fee out of his hand^ Job xxvii. 20, 
21, 22. 

Moreover, the purity of the Scripture farther appears, in 
that it warns sinners of that eternal ruin, which they expose 
themselves to in the other world ; Who shall be punished xvith 
everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord^ and from 
the glory of his power^ 2 Thess. i. 9. All these things dis- 
cover the purity and holiness of the word of God. 

(3.) It never gives the least indulgence or dispensation to 
sin, nor in any of its doctrines, which are pure and holy, 
doth it lead to licentiousness; it not only reproves sin in the 
lives and outward conversations of men, but also discovers its 
secret recesses in the heart, where its chief seat is; obviates 
and guards against its first motions, tending thereby to regu- 
late the secret thoughts of men, and the principle of all their 
actions, which it requires to be pure and holy. In this the 
Scripture excels all other writing's with respect to its holiness. 

(4.) All the blessings and benefits which it holds forth, or 
puts us in mind of, as the peculiar instances of divine favour 
and love to man, are urged and insisted on as motives to ho- 
liness; thus it is said, The goodness of God leadeth thee to re- 
pentance^ Rom. ii. 4. and when Moses had been putting the 
Israelites in mind of God's increasing them, as the stars of 
heaven for midtitude^ Deut. x. 22. compared with chap. xi. 1. 
he adds, therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God^ and keep 
his charge and statutes^ his judgments and comraandments ahvay. 
And when the loving kindness of God has been abused by 
men, it severely reproves them for their vile ingratitude ; as 
when it is said, Deut. xxxii. 6. Do ye thus requite the Lord^ oh 
foolish people and umvise P /? not he thy Father that bought 
thee ? Hath not he made ther^ and established thee ? 



rS THE WORD or GOD. 

(5.) All the examples proposed to our imitation therein, are 
such as savour of, and lead to, holiness; and when it recom- 
mends the actions or conversation of men, it is more especialr 
ly for that holiness which is discovered therein : and, on the 
other hand, when it gives us the character of wicked men, 
together with the dreadful consequences thereof, it is that we 
may avoid and be deterred from committing the same sins that 
will be their ruin in the end. 

(6.) The rules laid down relating to civil affairs in the Old 
Testament dispensation, and the behaviour of one man to- 
wards another, have a vein of holiness running through them 
all. Thus the government of the Jewish state, as described 
in the books of Moses, and elsewhere, discovers it to be an 
holy commonwealth : and they are often called an holy nation, 
as governed by those laws which God gave them j so the gov- 
ernment of the church in the Gospel-dispensation, is a holy 
government: visible holiness is a term of church-communion, 
and apostacy and revolt from God excludes from it. 

(T.) All the promises contained in Scripture, are, or will be 
certainly fulfilled, and the blessings it gives us ground to ex- 
pect, conferred ; and therefore it is a faithful word, and conse- 
quently pure and holy. 

2. If we compare the Scripture with other writings, which 
are of a human composure, it plainh- excels in holiness. For, 

(1.) If we compai-e it with the writings of heathen moral- 
ists, such as Plato, Seneca, and others, though they contain a 
great many good directions for the ordering the conversations 
of men agreeably to the dictates of nature and right reason, yet 
most of them allow of, or plead for some sins, which the Scrip- 
ture mentions with abhorrence, such as revenging injuries, and 
self-murder; several other instances of moral impurity, were 
not only practised by those who laid down the best rules to in- 
force moral virtue, but either counttnianced, or, at least, not 
sufficiently fenced against, by what is contained in their wri- 
tings ; and even their strongest motives to virtue or the govern- 
ment of the passions, or a generous contempt of the world, 
are taken principally from the tendency which such a course of 
life will have to free us from those things that tend to debase 
and afflict the mind, and fill it with uneasiness, when we con- 
sider ourselves as acting contrary to the dictates of nature, 
which we have as intelligent creatures; whereas, on the other 
hand, the Scriptvu'e leads us to the practice of Christian vir- 
tues from better motives, and considers us not barely as men, 
but Christians, under the highest obligations to the blessed 
Jesus, and constrained hereunto by his condescending love ex- 
pressed in all that he has done and suffered for our redemption 
and salvation ; and it puts us upon desiring and hoping for com- 



THE WORD OF GOD. T7 

munion with God, through him, in the performance of those 
evangelical duties, which the light of nature knows nothing of, 
and so discovers a solid foundation for our hope of forgiveness 
of sin, through his blood, together with peace of conscience 
and joy resulting froiii it ; it also directs us to look for that 
life and immortalit)', which is brought to light through the 
Gospel ; in which respects, it far exceeds the writings of the 
best heathen moralists, and so contains in it the visible marks 
and characters of its divine original. 

(2.) If we compare the scriptures with other writings among 
Christians, which pretend not to inspiration, we shall find in 
these writings a great number of impure and false doctrines, 
derogatory to the glory of God, in many of the pretended ex- 
positions of Scripture. If therefore men, who have the Scrip- 
ture in their hands, propagate unholy doctrines, they Avould do 
so much more were there no Scripture to guide them : thus the 
doctrine that grace is not necessary to what is spiritually good: the 
merit of good works, human satisfactions, penances, indulgen- 
ces, and dispensations for sin, are all impure doctrines, which 
are directly contrary to Scripture ; and, as contraries illustrate 
each other, so hereby the holiness and purity of Scripture, 
which maintains the contrary doctrines, will appear to those 
who impartially study it and understand the sense thereof. 

(3.) If we compare the Scriptures with the imposture of 
Mahomet, in the book called the Alcoran, which the Turks 
make use of as a rule of faith, and prefer it to Scripture, and 
reckon it truly divine, that contains a system not only of fabu- 
lous, but corrupt and impure notions, accommodated to men's 
sensual inclinations. Thus it allows of polygamy, and many 
impurities in this world, and promises to its votaries a sensual 
paradise in the next, all which is conti-ary to Scripture ; so 
that composures merely human, whether they pretend to di- 
vine inspiration or not, discover themselves not to be the word 
of God, by their unholiness ; as the Scripture manifests itself 
to be divine, by the purity of its doctrine ; and indeed, it can- 
not be otherwise, considering the corruption of man's nature, 
as well as the darkness and blindness of his mind, which, if it 
pretends to frame a rule of faith, it will be like himself, im- 
pure and unholy : but that which has such marks of holiness, 
as the Scripture has, appears to be inspired by a holy God. 

Having considered the holiness of Scripture doctrines, we 
proceed to shew the weight of this argument, or how far it 
may be insisted on to prove its divine authority. It is to be 
confessed, that a book's containing holy things or rules for a 
holy life, doth not of itself prove its divine original ; for then 
other books might be called the word of God besides the 
Scripture, which is so called, not only as containing some 



78 THE WOKD OF GOD. 

rules that promote holiness, but as being the fountain of all 
true religion ; and its being adapted above any book of human 
composure, to ansM^er this end, affords an argument of some 
weight to prove it to be of God. For, 

1. Man, who is prone to sin, naturally blinded and preju- 
diced against divine truth and holiness, could never compose a 
book that is so consonant to the divine perfections, and con- 
tains such a display of God's glory, and is so adapted to make 
us holy. 

2. If we suppose that man could invent a collection of doc- 
trines, that tended to promote holiness, could he invent doc- 
trines so glorious, and so much adapted to this end, as these 
are ? If he could, he that does this must either be a good or a 
bad man : if we suppose the former, he would never pretend 
the Scripture to be of divine authority, when it was his own 
composure ; and if the latter, it is contrary to his character, as 
such, to endeavour to promote holiness ; for then Satan's king- 
dom must be divided against itself: but of this, more in its 
proper place, when we come to consider the character of the 
penmen of Scripture, to give a further proof of its divine au- 
tliority. 

3. It it plain, that the world without Scripture could not ar- 
rive to holiness ; for the apostle says, 1 Cor. i. 21. That the 
ivorld by xuisdom knew not God; and certainly where there is 
no saving knowledge of God, there is no holiness ; and the 
same apostle, Rom. i. 29, 30, 31. gives an account of the great 
abominations that were committed by the heathen; being des- 
titute of Scripture light, they were^ Ji lied ivtth all unrighteous- 
ness^ fornication^ ivickedness^ covetousness^ maliciousness^ full 
of envy ^ murder^ debate^ deceit^ malignity^ &c. 

II therefore the doctrines contained in Scriptures are not 
only pui-e and holy themselves, but tend to promote holiness in 
us, this is not without its proper weight to prove their divine 
original. 

III. The scriptures farther manifest themselves to be the 
word of God from the consent or harmony of all the parts 
thereof. («.) This argument will appear more strong and con- 

(a.) " The enquiries of le^irned men, ai'.d, above all of the excellent Lardner, 
who never overstates a point of evidence, and whose fidelity in citing his au- 
thorities has in no one instance been impeached, have established, concerning 
these writings, the following propositions : 

I. That in the age immediately posterior to that in which St. Paul lived, his 
letters were publicly read and acknowledged. 

Some of them are quoted or alluded to by almojt evei*y Christian writer thr.t 
followed, by Clement of Rome, by Hermas, by Ignatius, by Polycarp, disciples 
or cotemporaries of the apostles ; by Justin Martyr, by the churches of Gaul, by 
Irenseus, by Athenagoras, by Theophllus, by Clement of Alexandria, by Ker- 
jnias, by Tertidlian, who occupied the succeeding ag'e. Now wljen M'c find a 



THE WORD OF SOD. 79 

elusive, if we compare them with other writings, in which there 
is but little harmony. Thus, if we consult the writings of 

book quoted or referred to by an ancient author, we are entitled to conclude, 
that it was read and received in the age and country in which that atithor lived. 
And this conclusion does not, in any degi-ee, rest upon the judgment or charac- 
ter of the author making such reference. Proceeding by this rule, we have, con- 
cerning the First Epistle to the Corinthians in pai-ticular, within forty yeiys af- 
ter the epistle was written, evidence, not only of its being extant at CoriuUi, but 
of its being known and read at liome. Clement, bishop of that city, writing to 
the church of Corhith, uses these words : " Take into joiu* hands the Epistle of 
" the blessed Paul the apostle. What did he at first write imto you in the be- 
" ginnmg of the gospel ? Verily he did by the Spiiit admonish you concerning 
'•' himself and Cephas, and Apoilos, because that even then you did form pai'ties* ." 
I'his was written at a time when probably some must have been living at Corinth, 
who remembered St. Paul's ministry thei'e and the receipt of Hie epistle. The 
testimony is still more valuable, as it shows that the espistles wcte preserved in 
•the churches to which they were sent, and that they were spread and propagated 
from them to the rest of the Christian community. AgTeebly to which natural 
mode and order of their publication, 'I'ertulliun, a century afterwards, for proof 
of the integrity and genuuieness of the apostolic writings, bids " aiij- one, who 
" is willing to exercise his curiosity profitably m the business of their salvation, 
" to visit tiie apostolical churches, in which their very authentic letters ai-e reci- 
" ted, ipsse authenticse literse eorum recitantur." Then he goes on : " Is Achaia 
" near you .'' You have Corinth. If you are not far from ^Macedonia, you have 
" Philippi, you have Thessalonica. Ifyoucango to Asia, you have Ephesus; 
" but if }0U are near to Italy, you have Kome-j-." I adduce this passage to show, 
that the distinct churches or Christian socitties, to which St. Paul's Epistles 
■were sent, subsisted for some ages aftei'wards ; that his several epistles were 
uU along respectively read in those chiu'ches ; that Christians at large recei^•cd 
them fi'om tiiose churches, and appealed to those churches for theii- originality 
and authenticity. 

Arguing m like manner from citations and allusions, we have, within the 
space ol'a hundred and fifty years from the time that the first of St. Paul's Epis- 
tles was written, proofs of almost all of them being read, in Palestine, Syria, the 
countries of Asia Minor, in Egypt, in that pai-t of Africa which used the Latin 
tongue, in Greece, Italy, and Gault. I do not mean simply to assert, that, with- 
in the space of a hundred and fifty years, St. Paul's Epistles were read in those 
coimtries, for I believe that they were read and ch-culated from the beginning ; 
but that proofs of their being so read occur within that period. And wlien it is 
considered how few of the primitive Christians wrote, and of ^vhat was written 
how much is lost^ we are to account it extraordinaiy, or rather as a sure proof 
cf the extensivencss of the reputation of these writings, and of the general re.->- 
pect in wliich tliey were held, that so many testimonies, :aid of sucli antiquitv, 
are still extant. " In the remaining works of Irenaeus, Clement of rMexandria, 
" and Tertiillian, there are perhaps more and larger quotations of the small \o- 
" lume of the New Testamciit, than of all the works of Cicero, in the writings 
" of all ciiaracters for several ages§." We must add, that the Epistles of Paul 
come in for their full share of this observation; and that all tlie thirteen epi.s- 
tles, except that to Philemon, which is not quoted by Irenaeus or Clement, and 
which probably escaped notice merely by its brevity, are .severally cited, and ex- 
pressl}- recognized as St. Paul's by each of these Christian writers. The Ebi- 
onitcs, an early, though inconsiderable Christian sect, rejected St. Paul and his 
espistlesll ; that is, they rejected these epistles, not because thry were not, but 
because they were St. Paul's; and because, adliei'ing to the obligation of the 
Jewish law, they chose to dispute his doctrine and authority. Their sufl'rage as 

• See Lardner, vol. xH. p. 38. t Lardner, vol. ii. p. 598. t ^tf Lardner's Reeapitula. 

lion, vol. xii. p. 1,3. V See Lardner's Recapuiilation, vol. xii. p. 53. |1 Laidiicr. vol. ii. 

». 308. 



80 THE WORD OF GOD. 

most men uninspired, we shall find that their sentiments con- 
tained therein often times very widely differ; and if, as his^ 

to the genuineness of the epistles does not contriidict that of other Chi'istians. 
Mai'c.on, ia\ lieretical waiter in the former part of the second century, is said by 
Tertuiii;.n to have rejected tlu-ee of the epistles which wa now receive, viz. the 
two Epistles to Timotliy and the Epistle to Titus. It appears to me not impro- 
bable, that Marciou might muke some such distinction as this, that no apostolic 
epistle was to be admitted which was not read or attested by the chui'ch to 
which it was sent ; for it is remarkable th:it, together with these epistles to pri- 
vate ]3ersons, he rejected also the catholic epistles. Now the catholic epistles 
and die epistles to private persons agi'ce m the cuxumstance of wanting tins par- 
ticul;.A. species of attestiition. Maixion, it seems, acknowledged the Epistle to 
Philemon, and is upbraided for his inconsistencj' in domg so by Teilullian*, who 
asks " why, when he received a letter written to a single person, he should re- 
♦' fuse two to Tin^.othy and one to Titus composed upon tJie jmairs of the church?" 
This pa.ss;ige so far favours our account of Marcion's objection, as it show s that 
the objection was supposed by Tertullian to have been founded in something, 
which belonged to tlie nature of a private letter. 

Nothing of the works of Marcion remains. Probably he was, after all, a rash, 
ai'bitrary, licentious critic (if he deserved indeed the name of critic,) and who 
offered no reason for his determination. What St. Jerome says of him intimates 
this, and is beside founded in good sense : speakmg of him and Basilides, " If 
" they had assigned any reasons," says he, " why they did not reckon these epis- 
" ties," viz. the first and second to T>mothy and the Epistle to Titus, " to be the 
•' apostle's, we would have endeavoured to have answered tliem, and perhaps 
" might have satisfied the reader : but when they take upon tliem, by their own 
" authority, to pronounce one epistle to be Paul's, and another not, tliey can 
" only be replied to in the same mamiei-f . Let it be remembered, however, that 
Marcion received ten of these epistles. His authority therefore, even if his credit 
had been better than it is, foniis a very small exception to the unifonnity of tlie 
evidence. Of Basilides we know still less than we do of Marcion. The same 
observation however belongs to him, viz. that his objection, as far as appears 
from this passage of St. Jerome, was confined to the thi-ee privs^te epistles. Yet 
is this the only opinion which can be said to disturb the consent of the two fii'st 
centuries of the Christian ?era; for as to Tatian, who is reported by Jerome alone 
to have rejected some of St. Paul's Epistles, the extravagant or rather delirious 
notions into which he fell, take away all weight and credit from his judgment. 
If, indeed, Jerome's account of this circumstance be correct ; for it appears fi-om 
much older writers than Jerome, tliat Tatian owned and used many of these 
epistles+. 

n. They, who in those ages disputed about so many other points, agreed in 
acknowledging the Scriptures novv' before us. Contending sects appealed tu 
them in their controversies with equal and unreserved submission. AVhen they 
were urged by one side, however they might be interpreted or misinterpreted bv 
the oiher, their authority was not questioned. " Reliqui omnes," says Irenxus, 
speaking of Marcion, " falso scientix nomine inflati, scriptui'as quidem confiten- 
" tiu", interpretationes vero convertunt^." 

111. When tlie genuineness of some other writings which were in circulation, 
and even of a few which are now received into tlie canon, was contested, these 
were never called into dispute. Whatever was the objection, or whether, in 
truth, there ever was any real objection to the authenticity of the Second Epistle 
of Peter, the Second and Tliird of John, die Epistle of James, or that of Jude, 
or to the book of the Revelations of St. John, tlie doubts that appear to have 
been entertained concerning them, exceedingly strengthen the force of the tes- 
timony as to those writings, about which there was no doubt ; because it shows, 
that the matter was a subject, amongst the early Clu'istians, oK examination and 
discussion; and that, whei-e there was any room to doubt, they did doubt. 

• Lardner, vol. xiv. p. 455. t Lardner, vol. xiv. p. 458. J Lardner, vol. i. p. 3iS. 

« Ircii. advci'5, Haer. ouoted by Lardner, vol. x\ . p. 425. 



THE WORD OF GOp. 81 

t 

torians, they pretend to report matters of fact, their evidence^ 
or report, does not, in all respects, agree together, which shews 

What Eusebius hath left upon the subject is directly to the purpose of this 
observation. Eusebius, it is well known, divided the ecclesiastical writings 
which were extant in his time into three classes ; the " atyetvTtffinat., uncontradict- 
" ed," as he calls them in one chapter; or " scriptures universally acknowledg- 
"ed," as he calls them in another; the "controverted, yet well known and 
" appi-oved by many ; and " the spurious." What were the shades of difference 
In the books of the second, or in those of the third class ; or what it was pre- 
cisely that he meant by the term spurious, it is not necessary in this place to en- 
quire. It is sufficient for us to find, that the th.rteen epistles of St. Paul are 
placed by him in the first class without any sort ox' hesitation or doubt. 

It is farther also to be collected from the chapter in which this distinction is 
laid down, that the method made use of by Eusebius, and by the Chi-istians of 
his time, viz. the close of the third century, in judging concerning the sacred 
autliority of any books, was to enquire after and consider the testimony of those 
who lived near the age of the apostles*. 

IV. That no ancient writing, which is attested as these epistles are, hath had 
its authenticity disproved, or is in fact questioned. The controversies which 
have been moved concerning suspected wTitings, as the epistles, for instance, of 
Phalaris, or the eighteen epistles of Cicero, begin by showing that this attesta- 
tion is wanting. That being proved, the question is thrown back upon internal 
marks of spuriousness or authenticity ; and in these the dispute is occupied. In 
which disputes it is to be observed, that the contested writings are common- 
ly attacked by arguments drawn from some opposition which they betray to 
*' authentic history," to " true epistles," to " the real sentiments or circum- 
*' stances of the author whom they personatef;" which authentic history, which 
true epistles, which real sentiments themselves, are no other than luicient docu- 
ments, whose early existence and reception can be proved, in the manner in 
which the writings before us are traced up to the age of theu* reputed author, or 
to ages near to his. A modern who sits down to compose the history of some 
ancient period, has no stronger evidence to appeal to for the most confident as- 
sertion, or the most undisputed fact, that he delivers, than writings, whose 
genuineness is proved by the same medium through which we evince the autlien- 
ticity of ours. Nor, whilst he can have recourse to such authorities as these, 
does he apprehend any uncertainty in his accounts, from the suspicion of spuri- 
ousness or imposture in his materials. 

V. It cannot be shown that any forgeries, properly so called +, that is, weU 
tings published under the name of the person who did not con^pose them, made 
their appearance in the first century of the Christian aera, in which century these 
epistles undoubtedly existed. I shall set down under this proposition the guard- 
ed words of Lardner himself: " There are no quotations of any books of them 
" (spm-ious and apocrj-phal books) in the apostolical fathers, by whom I mean 
"Barnabas, Clement of Rome, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycaip, whose writings 
" reach from the year of our Lord 70 to the year 108. I say this confidetitlij, be- 
*' caiise I think it fuis been proved." Lardner, vol. xii. p. 158. 

Nor when they did appear were tliey much used by the primitive Christians. 
" Irenxus quotes not any of these books. He mentions some of them, but he 
*' never quotes them. The same may be said of Tertullian ; he has mentioned a 
•' book called * Acts of Paul and Thecla:' but it is only to condemn it. Clement 
" of Alexandria and Origen have mentioned and quoted several such books, but 
♦' never as authority, and sometimes with express marks of dislike. Eusebius 
" quotes no such books in any of his works. He has mentioned them indeed, 
•' but how ? Not by way of approbation, but to show that they were of little or 

• Lardner, vol. vili. p. 106. f See the tracts written in the controversy between ^^ln. 

stal and Middleton upon certain suspected epistles ascribed to Cicero. t 1 belirve that iheia 

is a great deal of truth in Dr. Laraner's oliservations, that comparatively lew of those hook'!, 
which we call apocryphal, were strictly and originally forgeries. See Lardiicr, vol. xii. p. 16T. 

Vol. I. L 



82 THE WORD or GOD. 

that they are fallible ; but the exact and harmonious agreement 
of scripture proves it divine. That other writings of human 

" no value ; and that they never were received by the sounder part of Chi-istians." 
Now, if with this, which is advanced after the most minute and diligent exami- 
nation, we compare what the same cautious writer had before said of our re- 
ceived scriptures, "that m die works of tliree only of the above-mentioned fa- 
" thers, tiiere are more and larger quotations of the small volume of the New 
" Testament, tlutn of all tlie works of Cicero in the writers of all characters for 
" several ages ;" and if, witli the marks of obscurity or condemnation, which ac- 
companied the mention of the several apocrj^phal Christian writings, when they 
happened to be mentioned at all, we contrast what Dr. Lardner's work com- 
pletely and in detail makes out concerning the writings wliich we defend, and 
what, having so m.ade out, he thought himself authorized in his conclusion to 
assert, that these books were not only received fi-om the beginning, but received 
with the greatest respect ; have been publicly and solemnly read in the assem- 
blies of Christuvns throughout the world, in every age from that time to this; 
early translated into tlie languages of divers countries and people ; commentaries 
WTil to expla'm and illustrate them ; quoted by way of proof in all ai-guments of 
a religious natuie; recommended to the perusal of unbelievers, as containing tlie 
authentic account of the Christian doctrine ; when we attend, 1 say, to this re- 
presentation, we perceive in it, not only fidl proof of the early notoriety of these 
books, but a clear and sensible line of discrimination, which separates these from 
the pretensions of any others. 

The Epistles of St. Paul stand particularly free of any doubt or confusion that 
might arise from this source. Until the conclusion of the fourtli centun^ no in- 
timation appears of any attempt whatever being made to counterfeit these wri- 
tings; and then it appears only of a single and obscure instance. Jerome, who 
flourished in the year 392, has this expression: " Legunt quidam et ad Laodi- 
** censes ; sed ab omnibus exploditvir ;" there is also an Epistle to the Laodiceans, 
but it is rejected by every bod>*. Thcodoret, who wrote in the year 423, speaks 
of this epistle in the same termsf . Beside these, I know not whether any an- 
cient writer mentions it. It was certainly unnoticed during the three first cen- 
turies of the Church ; and when it came aftei-wards to be mentioned, it was 
mentioned only to show, that, though such a writing did exist, it obtained no 
credit. It is probable that the forgery to which Jerome alludes, is the epistle 
which we now have under that title. If so, as hath been already observed, it is 
nothing more than a collection of sentences from the genuine Epistles ; and was 
perhaps, at first, rather the exercise of some idle pen, than any serious attempt 
to impose a forgery upon the public. Of an Epistle to the Corinthians under St. 
Paul's name, wnich was brought into Europe in the present century, antiquity 
is entirely silent. It was unheard of for sixteen centuries; and at this day, tliough 
it be extant, and was fii-st found in the Armenian language, it is not, by the 
Christians of that country, received into their scriptures. I hope, after this, 
that there is no reader who will think there is any competition of credit, or of 
external proof, between these and the received Epistles : or rather, who will 
not acknowledge the evidence of anthenticily to be confirmed by the want of 
success which attended imposture. 

When we take into our hands the letters which the suflTrage and consent of an- 
tiquity hath thus transmitted to us, the first thing that strikes our attention is 
the air of reality and business, as well as of seriousness and conviction, which 
pervades the whole. Let the sceptic read them. If he be not sensible of these 
qualities in them, the argument can have no weight with him. If he be; if he 
perceive in almost every page the languag-e of a mmd actuated by real occasions, 
and operating upon real circumstances, I would wish it to be observed, that 
the proof which arise."; from this perception is not to be deemed occult or imagi- 
nary, because it is incapable of being drawn out in words, or of being conve)ed 

• Lardner, vn). x. p. 103. t Lardner, vol. xi. p. 88. 



THE WORD OF GOD. 83 

composure agree not among themselves, is very evident ; and 
it ^ less to be wondered at if we consider, 



to the apprehension of the reader in any other way, than by sending; hun lo the 
books theaiseives." 

"If it be true that we are in possession of the very letters which St. Paul wrote, 
let us consider wliat con&'niation they aflbrd to the Cla-istian history. In my 
opinion they substantiate the whole transaction. The great object of modern 
reseai'cli is to come at the epistolary coiTespondence of the times. Amidst the 
obscurities, the silence, or the contradictions of history, if a letter can be found, 
we reg-ard it as the discovery of a land mai-k; as that by which we can correct, 
adjust, or supply the imperfections and uncertainties of other accounts. One 
cause of tlie superior credit which is attributed to letters is tliis, that the facts 
which they disclose generally come out incidentally^ and therefore without de- 
sign to mislead the public by false or exaggerated accounts. This reason may 
be applied to St. Paul's Epistles with as much justice as to any letters whatever. 
Nothing- could be fui-ther from the intention of the writer than to record any part 
of his history. That his history was in fact made public by these letters, and has 
by the same means been transmitted to future ages, is a secondary and untliought- 
of effect. The sincerity therelin-e of the apostle's declarations cannot reason'ibly 
be disputed ; at least we are sure that it was not vitiated by any desire of setting 
himself off to the public at large. But these letters form a pai-t of the muniments 
of Christianit}-, as much to be valued for their contents, as for their originality. 
A more inestimable treasure the care of antiquity could not have sent down to us. 
Beside the proof they afford of the general reality of St. Paul's history, of Ilia 
knowledge which the author of the Acts of the Apostles had obtained of that 
history, and the consequent probability that he was, what lie professes himself to 
have been, a companion of the apostle's; beside the support they lend to tliese 
impoi-tant inferences, they meet specifically some of tlie principal objections upon 
which tlie adversaiies of Cliristiaiiity have thought proper to rely. In particulai* 
they show, 

I. Tliat Christianity was not a stoiy set on foot amidst the confusions wlijch 
attended and immediately preceded the destruction of Jerusalem ; when maJiy 
extravagant reports were circulated, when men's minds were broken by terror 
and distress, when amidst the tumults that siuTounded them enquiry was im- 
practicable. These letters show incontestably that the religion had fixed and 
established itself before tliis state of things took place. 

n. Wliereas it hath been insinuated, that our gospels may have been made up 
of reports and stories, which were current at tifie time, we may observe that, 
with respect to the Epistles, this is impossible. A man cannot write the history 
of his own life from reports; nor, what is tlie same thing, be led by reports to 
refer to passages and transactions in which he states liimself to have been imme- 
diately present and active. I do not allow that this insinuation is applied to the 
historical part of the New Testament witli any colour of justice or probability; 
but I say, that to the Epistles it is not applicable at all. 

m. These letters prove that the converts to Christianity were not drawn fi-oni 
the barbarous, the mean, or the ignorant set of men, which the representations 
of infidelity would sometimes make them. We learn from letters the character 
liot only of the writer, but, in some measure, of the persons to whom thev are 
written. To suppose that these letters were addressed to a rude tribe, incj.pa- 
ble of thought or reflection, is just as reasonable as to suppose Locke's Essay on 
the Human Understanding to have been written for the instruction of savages. 
Wliatever may be thought of these letters in other respects, either of diction or 
argument, they are certainly removed as far as possible from tlie habits and com- 
prehension of a barbai'ous people. 

IV. St. Paul's history, I mean so muth of it as may be collected from liis 
letters, is so iVnjift'fufet/ with that of tlie other apostles, and will i the substance 
indeed of the Christian history itself, that 1 apprehend it will be found impossible 
to admit St. Paul's h(<iry (I do not speak uftlie; miraculous p:ut of it) to be true, 



84f tHE WORD OF GOD. 

(1.) That men are naturally blind and unacquainted with the 
things of God ; and therefore their writing's will hardly be con- 

- "" ■ ' • • ■ - 

and yet to reject the rest as fabulous. For instance, can any one believe that there 
was such a man as Paul, a preacher of Christianity in the age which we assign to 
him, and 7wt believe that there were also at the same time, such men as Peter and 
James, and other apostles, who had been companions of Christ during his life, and 
who after his death published and avowed the same things concerning him which 
Paul taught ? Judea, and especially Jerusalem, was the scene of Christ's minis- 
try. The witnesses of his miracles lived there. St. Paul, by his own account, aS 
well as that of Ins historian, appears to have frequently visited that city ; to have 
carried on a communication with the church there ; to have associated with the 
rulers and elders of that church, who were some of them apostles ; to have acted, 
as occasions offered, in coiTespondence, and sometimes in conjunction with them. 
Can it, after this, he doubted, but that the religion and the genei-al facts relating 
to it, which St. Paul appears by his letters to have delivered to the several church- 
es wliich he estabUshed at a distance, were at the same time taught and publish- 
ed at Jerusalem itself, the place where the business was transacted ; and taught 
and published by those who had attended the founder of the institution in his mi- 
raculous, or pretendedly miiaculous, mmlstry ? 

It is observable, for so it appeai-s both in the Epistles and from the Acts of the 
Apostles, that Jerusalem, and the society of believers in that city, long continued 
the centre from which the missionaries of the religion issued with which all other 
chmxhes maintained a correspondence and connexion, to ^vhich they referred 
their doubts, and to whose relietj in times of public distress, they remitted their 
charitable assistance. This observation I think material, because it proves that 
this was not the case of giving oui* accounts in one countrv of what is transacted 
in another, without affording the hearers an opportunity of knowing whether the 
things related were credited by any, or even published, in the place where they 
are reported to have passed. 

V. St. Paul's letters furnish evidence (and what better evidence than a man's 
own letters can be desired ?) of the sounthiess and sobriety of his judgment. His 
caution in distinguishing between the occasional suggestions of inspiration, and 
the ordinary exercise of his natural understanding, is witliout example in the his- 
tory of enthusiasm. His morality is every where calm, pure, and rational : adapt- 
ed to the condition, the activity, and the business of social life, and of its various 
relations ; free from the over-scrupulousness and austerities of superstition, and 
from, what was more perhaps to be apprehended, the abstractions of quietism, 
and the soarings and extravagancies of fanaticism. His judgment concerning a 
hesitating conscience ; his opinion of the moral indifferency of many actions, yetof 
the piudence and even the duty of compliance, where non-compliance would pro- 
duce ovll efiects upon the minds of the persons who observed it, is as correct and 
just as the most liberal and enlightened moralist could form at this day. The ac- 
curacy of modern ethics has found nothing to amend in these determinations." 



"Broad, obvious, and explicit agreements prove little ; because it may be sug- 
gested, that the insertion of such is the ordinary expedient of every forgery; and 
though they may occur, and probably will occur, in genuine writings, yet it can- 
not be proved that they are peculiar to these. Thus what St. Paul declares in 
chap. xi. of 1 Cor. concerning the institution of the eucharist, " For I have receiv- 
" ed of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, that tlie Lord Jesus, the 
*' same night in which he was betrayed, took bread ; and when he had given 
" thanks, he brake it, and said, Talve, eat ; this is my body, which is broken for 
" you ; this do in remembjrnce of me," though it be in close and verbal conformi- 
ty with tlie account of the same transaction preserved by St. Luke, is yet a con- 
formity of which no use c:ui be made hi our argniment ; for if it should be object- 
ed that this was a mere recital from the Gospel, borrowed by the author of tiie e- 
pistle, for tlie purpose of f.ettir.^- off his composition by an appearance of agree- 
ment with the received account of the Loixi's supper, I should not know liow to 
repel tlie insinuation. In like majjner, the description which St. Paul gives of him- 



THE WORD OF GOD. 85 

sistent with themselves, much less with one another, as they 
are oftentimes inconsistent with the standard of truth, by which 
Ihey are to be tried ; nothing is more common than for men to 
betray their weakness, and cast a blemish on their composures, 
by contradicting themselves, especially if they are long, and con- 
sist of various subjects. 

(2.) Men are much more liable to contradict one another 
when any scheme of doctrine is pretended to be laid down by 
diiferent persons ; for when they attempt to represent matters of 
fact, they often do it in a very different light : this may be more 
especially obs^ved in those accounts that are given of doctrines 
that are new, or not well known by the world, or in historical 
accounts, not only of general occurrences, but of particular cir- 
cumstances attending them, where trusting to ^eir memorj*^ 
and judgment, they often impose on themselves and others. 

(3.) This disagreement of human writings will more evident- 
ly appear, when their authors were men of no great natural wis- 
dom, especially if they lived in different ages, or places remote 
from one another, and so could have no opportunity to consult 

' ' ' ' ' ■ *- — 

self in his epistle to the Philippians (iii. 5.) — " Circumcised the eighth clay, ot" 
" the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews ; as 
" touching the law, a Pharisee ; concerning zeal, persecuting the church ; touch- 
" ing the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" — is made up of particulars 
so plainly delivered concerning him, in the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistle to 
the Romans, and the Epistle to the Galatians, that I cannot deny but that it 
would be easy for an impostor, who was fabricating a letter in the name of St. 
Paul, to collect these articles into one view. This, therefore, is a conformity 
which we do not adduce. But when I read, in the Acts of the Apostles, that 
" when Paul came to Derbe and Lystra, behold a certain disciple was there, nam- 
" ed Timotheus, the son of a certain woman -which rvas a Je7vess ,•" and when, in 
an epistle addressed to Timothy, I find him reminded of his "having known the 
" Holy Scripturcs/roOT a child," which implies that he must, on one side or both, 
have been brought up by Jewish parents : I conceive that I remark a coincidence 
which shews, by its very obliquittj, that scheme was not employed in its forma- 
tion." ■ 

"An assertion in the Epistle to the Colossians, viz. that " Onesimus was one of 
*' them," is verified by the Epistle to Philemon ; and is verified, not by any men- 
tion of Colosse, any the most distant intimation concerning the place of Phile- 
mon's abode, but singly by stating Onesimus to be Philemon's servant, and by 
joining in the salutation Philemon with Archippus, ; for this Archippus, when we 
go back to the Epistle to the Colossians, appears to have been an inhabitant of 
that city, and, as it should seem, to have held an office of authority in that church. 
The case stands thus. Take the Epistle to the Colossians alone, and no ciixuin- 
stance is discoverable which makes out the assertion, tliat Onesimus w.\s " one of 
" them." Take the Epistle to Philemon alone, and nothing at all appears concern- 
ing the place to which Philemon or his servant Onesimus belonged. For any thing 
that is said in the epistle, Philemon might have been a Thessaloiiian, a Philip- 
pian, or an Ephesian, as well as a Colossian. Put the two epistles togetlitr and the 
matter is clear. The I'eader perceives n junction of cii-cumstanres, w hich ascer- 
tains the conclusion at once. Now, all tliat is necessary to be added in tiiis place 
is, that this coiTCspondency evinces the genuineness of one epistle, as well as of 
the other. It is like comparing the twopurtsof a cloven tallv. Coincidence proves 
tile authenticity of both." * P.u.et. 



86 THE WORD OF GOD. 

one another, or compare their writings together ; we shall scarce 
ever find a perfect harmony or agreement in such writings ; 
neither should we in scripture, were it not written by divine in- 
spiration. 

This will appear, if we consider that the penmen thereof 
were in themselves as liable to mistake as other men ; and had 
they been left to themselves herein, tliey would have betrayed 
as much weakness, confusion, and self-contradiction, as any 
other writers have done ; and it may be more, inasmuch as ma- 
ny of them had not the advantage of a liberal education, nor 
were conversant in human learning, but were taken from mean 
employments, and made use of by God in this work, that so we 
may herein see more of the divinity of the writings they were 
employed to transmit to us : besides, they lived in different 
ages and places, and so could not consult together what to im- 
part, and yet we find, as we shall endeavour to prove, that they 
all agree together : therefore the harmony of their writings is 
an evident proof that they were inspired by the same spirit, and 
consequently that they are the word of God. 

We might here consider the historical parts of -scripture, and 
the account which one inspired writer gives of matters of facts 
as agreeing with what is related by another; and also the har- 
mony of all the doctrines contained therein, as not only agree- 
ing in the general scope and design thereof, but in the way and 
manner in which they are laid down or explained : but we shall 
more pai'ticularly consider the harmony of scripture, as what is 
foretold in one part thereof, is related as accomplished in ano- 
ther. And, 

1. There are various predictions relating to the providential 
dealings of God with his people, which had their accomplish- 
ment in an age or two after. Thus the prophets Isaiah, Jeremi- 
ah, and others, foretold the captivity and the number of years 
they should be detained in Babylon, and their deliverance by 
Cyrus, who is expressly mentioned by name. These prophecies, 
and the accomplishment thereof are so obvious, that there is no 
one who reads the Old Testament but will see an harmony be- 
tween them ; so that what in one place is represented as foretold, 
in another place, is spoken of as accomplished in its proper 
time, Isa. xliv. 28. and Chap. xlv. 1,4. compared with Ezrai. 

And the revolt and apostacy of Israel, their turning aside 
from God, to idolatry, which was the occasion of their desola- 
tion, was foretold by Moses, Deut. xxxi. 29. and by Joshua, 
Chap, xxiii. 15, 16. and Chap. xxiv. 19. And every one that 
reads the booK of Judges, will see that this was accomplished ; 
for when Moses and Joshua were dead, and that generation 



THE WORD OF GOD. 87 

who lived with them, they revolted to idolatry and were punish- 
ed lor the same in various instances, Judg. ii. 8, 10, 11, 14. . 

And the prophecy of the great reiorraation which Josiah 
should make, and in particular, that he should burn the hones of 
the idolatrous priests on the altar at Bethel^ 1 Kings xiii. 2. was 
exactly accomplished above three hundred years after, 2 Kings 
xxii. 15, 16. 

2. There are various predictions under the Old Testament 
relating to our Saviour, and the New Testament church, many 
of which have had their accomplishment, and others are daih* 
accomplishing. It is said, Acts x. 43. To him gave all the pro- 
phets rvitness^ that through his name whosoever believeth in him^ 
shall receive remission of sins ; and we shall find, that what is 
foretold concerning him in the Old Testament, is related as ac- 
complished in the New ; particularly, 

(1.) That he should come in the flesh, was foretold in the 
Old Testament, Hag. ii. 7. Mai. iii. 1. Isa. ix. 6. and is men- 
tioned as accomplished in the New, John i. 14. Gal. iv. 4. 

(2.) That he should work miracles for the good of mankind, 
and to confirm his mission, was foretold, Isa. xxxv. 5, 6. and ac- 
complished, Matth. xi. 4, 5. 

(3.) That he should live in this world in a low and humbled 
state, was foretold, Isa. Iii. 14. and chap. liii. 3. and the whole 
account of his life in the gospels bears witness that those predic- 
tions were fully accomplished. 

(4.) That he should be cut off, and die a violent death, was 
typified by the brazen serpent in the wilderness, vi%. that he 
should be lifted up upon the cross. Numb. xxi. 9. compared 
with John iii. 14. and foretold in several other scriptures, Iso. 
liii. 7. and Dan. ix. 26. and this is largely insisted on, as fulfil- 
led in the New Testament. 

(5.) That after he had continued some time in a state of hu- 
miliation, he should be exalted, was foretold, Isa. Iii. 13. chap, 
liii. 11, 12. Psal. Ixviii. 18. and fulfilled. Acts i. 9. Phil. ii. 9. 
- (6.) That his glory should be proclaimed and published in 
the pi^eaching of the gospel, was foretold, Isa. xi. 10. Psal. ex. 
2. Isa. Ix. 1, 2, 3. and fulfilled, 1 Tim. iii. 16. Mark xvi. 15. 
as appears from many scriptures. 

(7.) That he should be the spring and fountain of all blessed- 
ness to his people, was foretold, Gen. xxii. 18. Psal. Ixxi'. 17. 
Isa. xlix. 8, 9. and fulfilled, 2 Cor. vi. 2. Acts iii. 26. In these, 
and many other instances, we may observe such a beautiful con- 
sent of all the parts of scripture, as proves it to be the very word 
of God. 

But since it will not be sufficient, to support the divine au- 
thority of scripture, to assert that there is such a harmony, as 
we have observed, unless we can prove that it doth not contra- 



88 THE weRB VF GOp. 

diet itself in any instances ; therefore the next thing we arc to 
consider, is the reproach cast upon it by those who would bring 
all divine revelation into contempt, as though it contradicted it- 
self in several instances, and contained various absurdities ; 
which, were they able to make appeal*, would enervate the force 
of the argument we are maintaining, to prove the scripture to 
be the word of God from the consent of the parts thereof: there- 
fore we shall consider some of those contradictions, which ma- 
ny, who pretend to criticise on the words of scripture, charge it 
with, as so many objections against the harmonious consent, 
and consequently the divine authority thereof, together with the 
answers, which may be given to each of them. 

Object. 1. If we compare our Saviour's genealogy, as related 
in the first of Matthew and the third of Luke, they allege that 
there is a very great inconsistency between them, for one men- 
tions different persons, as his progenitors, from what the other 
does ; as, for instance, in Matth. i. he is said to be the son of 
Joseph, and Joseph the son of Jacob, and he the son of Matthan ; 
but the other evangelist, viz. Luke, says that he was the son of 
Joseph, which was the son of Heli, which was the son of Mat- 
that : and so we find the names of each genealogy very differ 
ing, till we come to David ; therefore they suppose both those 
genealogies cannot be true, inasmuch as the one contradicts the 
other. 

Ansxv. It evidently appears, that there is no contradiction be- 
tween these two genealogies, since Matthew gives an account of 
Joseph's ancestors, and Luke of Mary's, and so, both together, 
prove that he was the son of David, by his reputed father's, as 
well as his mother's side. 

And if it be replied, that Luke, as well as Matthew, gives an 
account of Joseph's genealogy, and therefore this answer is not 
sufficient : we may observe, that it is said, Luke iii. 23, 24. that 
Jesus 7vas^ as it is supposed, the son of yoseph, which was the 
son of Heli, ^c. the meaning is, he was, indeed, the supposed 
son of Joseph, but he really descended from Heli, the father of 
the virgin Mary ; and nothing is more common in scripture 
than for grandsons to be called sons ; and if we observe the 
meaning of the Greek words, which we render, which was the 
son, ££?c. it may better be rendered, who descended from Heli, 
and then there is not the least absurdity in it, supposing Heli 
to be his grandfather ; and therefore there is no appearance of 
contradiction between these two scriptures. 

Object. 2. It is pretended, that there is a plain contradiction 
between these two places, 2 Sam. xxiv. 24. and 1 Chron. xxi. 
25. in the former whereof it is said, that David bought the 
threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite, to build an altar on, 
and the oxen for burnt-offerings, that the plague might be stay- 



THE WORD Of g6D» ' 8§( 

^^^for jijtif shekels nj silver ; but in the other, t>E2. in Chroni- 
cles, it is said, that he gave him for the place six hundred she- 
kels of gold; therelort- they pretend that one of thtse places 
must be wrong, inasmuch as they plainly contradict one another. 

Anstv, The answer that may be given to this objection, is, 
that David paid Araunah (who is otherwise called Oman) for 
his threshing-floor, where he built an altar, and for the oxen, 
which he bought lor sacrifice, fifty shekels of silver, as it is ex- 
pressed in Samuel. But, beside this threshing-floor, he bought 
the whole place, as it is said in Chronicles, i. e, the whole tract 
of ground, or mountain, on which it stood, whereon he design- 
ed that the temple should be built ; and therefore he saith con- 
cerning it, 1 Chron, xxii. 1. This is the house of the LordGodj 
i. e. this place, or tract of land, which I have bought round a- 
about the threshing-floor, is the place where the house of God 
shall stand ; and this is the altar of burnt-offering for Israel^ 
which was to be built in that particular place, where the thresh- 
ing-floor was : now, though he gave for the threshing-floor but 
fifty shekels of silver, (which probably was as much as it was 
worth) yet the whole place, containing ground enough for the 
temple, with all its courts, and the places leading to it, was 
worth a great deal more ; or, if there were any houses in th6 
place, these were also purchased to be pulled down, to make 
room for the building of the temple ; and, for all this, he gave 
six hundred shekels of gold, and we can hardly suppose it to 
be worth less ; so that there is no real contradiction between 
these two places. 

Object. 3. It is pretended, that there is a contradiction be- 
tween 2 Sam. xxiv. 13. and 1 Chron. xxi. 12. in the former 
of which Gad came to David, being sent to reprove him for his 
numbering the people, and said. Shall seven tjears of faming 
i:ome unto thee in thy land 7 But, in Chiouicles," he speaks of 
but three years of famine. 

Ansiv. To reconcile this seeming contradiction, t^. 

1. Some think, that in some ancient copies, it is fl&t seven, 
but three, («) years of famine, in Samuel, as it is in Cto-onicles ; 
the reason of this conjecture is, because the lxx, or Greek 
translation, have it so ; and they think that these translators 
would hardly have made so bold with scripture, as to put three 
for seven, if they had not found it so in the copies that they 
made use of, when they compiled this translation : but probably 
this answer will not give satisfaction to the objectors ', therefore, 

2. The best way to account for this seeming contradiction, 
is this : in Chronicles, Gad bids him chuse if he would have 
three years of famine, viz. from that time ; but in Samuel he 

(a) O" Jii' y-i^ "]"• HIT. vvaiitinp^ only in 85 ^id 112 of Konn:(.o«. 

M 



90 THE WORD OF GOD. 

saith, shall seven years of famine come unto thee, that is, as 
though he should say there hath been three years of famine al- 
ready, for Saul and his bloody house^ because he slew the Gibeon- 
itesy 2 Sam. xxi. 1, Now, that famine ceased but the year be- 
fore, and the ground being so chaped and hard for want of rain 
this year, which was the fourth, it was little better than a }'ear 
of famine. Now, said Gad, wilt thou have this famine continued 
three years more (which, in all, makes up seven years) unto- 
thee in the land ? And, if we take it in this sense, there is no 
contradiction between these two scriptures, though one speaks 
of three years, and the other of seven. 

Object. 4. They pretend to find an inconsistency, or absur- 
dity, little better than a contradiction, by comparing 1 Sam. 
xvi. 21, 22. and chap. xvii. 55. In the former it is said, David 
came to Saul, and stood before him, and he loved him greatly ; 
and he sent to Jesse, with die intent that he might give him 
leave to stand before him, inasmuch as he had found favour in 
his sight. No-w, say they, how can this be consistent with the 
other scripture ; where Saul seeing Davjd going forth against 
Goliah the Philistine, asked Abner, Whose son is this ijouth ? 
And Abner replied, He could not tell ; and, in the next verse, 
he is ordered to enquire xvho he was. Now how could this be, 
when he had been his armour-bearer, stood before him, and 
found favour in his sight ; and he had sent to Jesse, to desu-e 
that he might live with him ? 

Ansxv. I can see no appearance of absurdity, or defect of 
harmony, between these two scriptures ; for supposing Saul's 
memory had failed him, and he had forgot that David had 
stood before him as a servant, shall the scripture, that gives an 
account of this, be reflected on, as containing an inconsistency ? 
It is true, David had stood before Saul, as his armour-bearer ; 
Y<tX. he had, for some time, been sent home and dismissed from 
his service, during which time he kept his father's sheep ; and 
probably he lived not long in Saul's family ; therefore it is no 
wonder if Saul had now forgot him. There is no master of a 
family but may forget what servants have formerly lived with 
him, and much more a king, who hardly knows the names of 
the greatest part of the servants that are about him : besides, 
at this time, David appeared in the habit of a shepherd, and 
therefore Saul might well say, whose son is this youth P This 
sufficiently accounts for the difficulty, and vindicates this scrip- 
ture from the charge of inconsistency ; though some account for 
it thus, by supposing that Saul knew David, (as having been 
his armour-bearer) but did not know his father, and therefore 
asks, whose son is this P or who is he that hath so bold and dar- 
ing a son, as this youth appears to be ? If these things be con- 
sidered, there appears not the least absurdity in this scripture. 



THE WORD OF GOD. 91 

Object. 5. Another contradiction, which some charge the 
scripture with, is, that when Israel, pursuant to the advice of 
Balaam, committed idolatry, and went a-whoririg after the 
daughters of Moab, and God consumed them for \-: by the 
plague, it is said. Numb. xxv. 9. Those that died in the plague 
■were twenty-Jour thousand; but the apostle Paul, referring to 
the same tiling, says, 1 Cor. x. 8. Neither let us commit forni- 
cation., as some of them committed^ and fell in one day three and 
trventij thousand, 

AnsTv. 1. The answer that maybe given to this objection, 
that the apostle Paul, when he says, three and txventij thousand 
died^ or fell, in one day., speaks of those who died by the imme- 
diate hand of God, by the pestilential distemper that w.ts sent 
among them ; but, besides these, there were many more that 
died by the hand of public justice for this sin ; for in that chap- 
ter in Numbers, verse 4 and 5. we read of the heads of the peO' 
pie being hanged up before the Lord., and the jxidges behig or- 
dered to slay every every man his men that 7vere Joined unto 
Baal-pcor. These died by the sword of justice, and it is no 
great impropriety to say, that such died in a mediate way, by 
the plague, or sword of God ; the sword is one of his plagues, 
as well as pestilential diseases, and is frequently so styled in 
scripture : now we cannot suppose that fewer died of this latter 
plague, if that be the import of the M^ord, than a thousand ; so 
' iat Moses gives the number of all that died, whether by God's 
immediate hand, or by the sword of the magistrate, pursuant to 
his command : but if it be reckoned too great a strain upon the 
sense of the w ord plague, to admit of this solution, let it be far- 
ther observed, that, in the 9th verse, where Moses gives the suni 
total of those that died, it is not said that they were such who 
died o/'the plague, but in the plague ; that is, those that died in 
or soon after the time that the plague raged among them, whose 
death was occasioned by this sin, w^ere four and ttventy thou- 
sand ; so that these two places of scripture are so far from con- 
tradicting, that they rather illustrate one another. 

Object. 6. Another contradiction is pretended to be between 
Gal. i. 8. where the apostle says. Though rye, or an angel from. 
heaven^ preach any other gospel unto you., than that which xve 
have preached unto you., let him be accursed ; 2 Cor. xi. 4. If he 
that Cometh., preacheth another jfesus xvhom we have not preach- 
ed., or if ye. receive another spirit., which ye have not received., 
or another gospel., xvhich ye have not accepted., ye might xvell 
bear with him. In one place he speaks against those who preach 
another gospel ; in the other he says, they may be borne with ; 
which seems to be a contradiction. 

Ansxu. For the reconciling and accounting for the sense of 
tliese two scriptures, let us consider, that in the former of them 



92 THE WORD OF GOD. 

the apostle pronounces them that preached another gospel ac- 
cursed, and therefore, doubtless, they were not to be borne 
with, or allowed bf ; therefore it must be enquired what he 
Tneans v/hen he say:;, m the other scripture, that such may be 
well borne with ; row this scripture will, without the least strain 
or force upon the words, admit of one of these two senses. 

1. It may be considered as containing a sarcasm, by which 
the apostle reproves their being too much inclined to adhere to 
false teachers : if, says he, these bring vou tidings of a better 
Spirit, a better gospel, then bear with them ; but this they can- 
not do, therefore reject them ; or, 

2. The words may be rendered, instead of i/e might rvell bear 
xvith him^ ye might well bear xuith me, as is observed in the 
mai'ginal reference ; the word him being in an Italic character^ 
as will be elsewhere observed,* is not in the original, and 
therefore me may as well be supplied as hi?n, and so the mean* 
ing is this ; ye bear with false preachers, are very favourable to 
them, and seem a little cold to us the apostles ; so that I am, 
afraid, as is observed in the foregoing verse, lest your minds 
should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ ; you 
can bear with these false teachers, and will you not bear with 
me ? as he says, ver. I . Would to God you could bear with me a 
little in viy folly, and indeed bear with me. It is a sign religion 
is at a low ebb, when it is with some difficulty that professors 
are persuaded to bear with those that preach the pure gospel of 
Christ, who are too prone to turn aside to another gospel. Take 
the words in either of these senses, and they exactly harmonize 
with that text in G^alatians, and not, as the objectors pretend, 
contradict it. 

Object. 7. Another charge of contradiction, which is brought 
against scripture, is, that our Saviour saith, Matth. x. 34. 
Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth; I came 
not to send peace, but a sword : this is contrary to Christ^s ge- 
neral character, as ?i prince of peace, Isa. ix. 6. and to the advice 
he gives his di^jciples, not to use the sword, because such shall 
perish by it. Mat. xxvi. 62. and what he saith else, J/j/ kingdom 
is not of this xvorld, John xviii. 36. and therefore not to be pro- 
pagatea by might or power, by force or civil policy, or those ' 
other carnal methods, by which the kingdoms of this world are 
advanced and promoted. 

Answ. For the reconciling this seeming contradiction, let it 
be considered, that Christ did not come to put a sword into his 
followers hands, or to put them upon making war with the pow - 
ers among whom thev dwell, for the propagating the Christian 
religion ; his gospel was to be advanced by spiritual methods : 
in this sense, the design of his coming was not to send a sword, 

* See Q;tes. 154. 



THE WORD OF GOD. 93 

but to bring spiritual peace to his people ; but when he sailh, I 
came to send a sword, it implies that his coming, his kingdom 
and gospel, should occasion persecution and war, by reason of 
the corruption of men ; this the gospel may do, and yet not put 
men upon disturbing their neighbours, or making war with 
them ; and this is not contrary to Christ's general character of 
coming to be the author of spiritual peace to his people. 

Object. 8. Another contradiction is pretended to be between 
1 Kings viii. 9. and Heb. ix. 4. in the former it is said, There 
■was nothing in the ark but the tzvo tables^ ruhich Moses put 
there; in the latter, that there was the golden pot^ that had 
manna^ AarorCs rod that budded^ and the tables of the covenant. 

Anszv, This seeming contradiction may easily be reconciled : 
for we suppose it true that there was nothing in the ark but 
the two tables, as it is said in the former of these scriptures ; 
therefore to explain the latter agreeably to it, two senses may 
■be given of it. 

1. It is not necessary to suppose, that the apostle means, in 
the ark was the golden pot, ^c. but in the holiest of all, which 

,he mentioiis in the foregoing verse ; therefore the meaning is, as 
.in the holiest of all, there was the golden censer, and the ark of 
the covenant, so in it was the golden pot and Aaron's rod : but 
because there may be an objection against this sense, from its 
being said in the words immediately following, that over it were 
the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy-seat, where it re- 
fers to the ark, and not to the tabernacle, or holiest of all ; if 
therefore the cherubims were over the ark, then the other things 
must be supposed to be in it, which objection, indeed, is not 
without its force, unless we suppose that the words* may be 
rendered in the higher parts of it, to wit, of the holiest of all^ 
7vere the cherubims of glory above the mercy seat, and accord- 
ingly the meaning is this ; that within this second vail was not 
only the ark, the golden pot of manna, Aaron's rod, £s?c\ but also 
the cherubims of glory, which were above them all : but since 
the grammatical construction, seems rather to favour the objec- 
tion, there is another sense given of the words, which sufficientjv 
reconciles the seeming contradiction, viz. '^■ 

2. When it is said,f that therein, or in it, to wit, the ark, was 
the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded^ 
the meaning is, they were near it, or beside it, or some wav or 
other fastened, or adjoining to it, in some enclosure, in the out- 
side of the ark, whereas nothing was in it but the two tables ; 
so that there is no real contradiction between tiiese two scrip- 
tures. 

I [« »■] » uftt.itirnei *.j »> e^, Cuni, ad, prgpe,^uxta, at vsll hs In. 



S4. THE WORD OF GOD. 

Many more instances of the like nature might have been 
given, but, instead thereof, we shall rather chuse to lay down 
some general rules for the reconciling seeming contradictions in 
scripture, which may be applied by us in other cases, where we 
meet with the like difficulties. As, 

1. When two scriptures seem to contradict each other, we 
sometimes find that this arises from the inadvertency of some 
who have transcribed the copies of scripture, putting one word 
for another ; though it may -je observed, 

(l.) That this is not often found ; for as great care has been 
taken in transcribing the manuscripts of scripture, as in any 
manuscripts whatever, if not greater. 

(2.) If there have been mistakes in transcribing, it is only in 
a few instances, where there is a likeness between two words, so 
that one might easily be mistaken for the other; and this ought 
not to prejudice any against the scripture, for it only argues, 
that though the inspired penmen were infallible, the scribes 
that took copies of scripture for common use were not so. 

(3.) When there is any such mistake, it may generally be 
rectified by some other copy, that has the word as it really 
should be : it is so in our printed Bibles, in some editions of 
them we find mistakes, as to some words, that may be rectified 
by others, which are more correct ; and if so, why may not this 
be supposed to be in some written copies thereof, that were 
used before printing, which is but a late invention, was known 
in the world, from which ail our printed copies are taken ? 

2. When the same action in scripture seems to be ascribed to 
different persons, or the same thing said to be done in different 
places, there is no contradiction, for the same person, or place, 
is sometimes called bv various names : thus Moses's father-in- 
law, who met him in the wilderness, and advised him in the 
settling the government of the people, is called, in one place, 
Jethro, Exod. xviii. 1. and in another Hobab, Numb. x. 29. So 
the mountain, from which God gave the law to Israel, is some- 
times called mount Sinai, Exod. xix. 20. and at other times 
Horeb, Deut. i. 6. 

3. Chronological difficulties, or seeming contradictions, ari- 
sing from a differing number of years, in Avhich the same thing 
is said to be done, may be reconciled, by computing them 
from the different epocha's, or beginnings of computation : as it 
is said, Exod. xii. 40. The sojourning of the children of Israel^ 
-who dwelt in Egqpt^ ivas four hundred and thirty years; but, 
when God foretels this sojourning, it is said. Gen. xv. 13. Thy 
seed shall be strangers in a land that is not theirs, andsshall erve 
them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years : now the 
four hundred and thirty years takes its beginning of computa- 
tion from Abraham's being called to leave his country, and 



THE WORD OF GOD. 95 

sojourn in the land of promise, as in a strange land ; this was 
four hundred and thirty years before Israel went out of Egypt ; 
but the four hundred years mentioned in Genesis, during 
which time his seed should sojourn, takes its beginning ot com- 
putation from his having the promised seed, or irom the birth 
of Isaac, which was twenty-five years after his leaving his 
country ; from that time to the children of Israel's going out of 
Egypt was four hundred and five years ; and the five years 
above four hundred are left out, as being an inconsiderable 
number, which is very agreeable to our common wa} of com- 
puting time, when a large even number is mentio«ied, to leave 
out a small one of four or five years, more or less, as in the in- 
stance here mentioned, especially when, time is expressed by 
centuries, as it is here; for it is said, in ver. 16. in the fourth 
generation^ that is, after the fourth century of years, they shall 
come hither again. 

4. When, by comparing the years of the reign of several of 
the kings of Judahand Israel, mentioned in the books of Kings 
and Chronicles, we find that some are said, in one of them, to 
have reigned three or four years longer than the account of the 
years of their reign, mentioned by the other, the seeming con- 
tradiction may be reconciled, by considering him as begmning 
to reign before his father's death, as Solomon did before David 
died ; or from his being nominated as his father's successor, and 
owned as such by the people, which was sometimes done to 
prevent disputes that might arise about the matter afterwards ; 
and sometimes, when a king was engaged in foreign wars, in 
which he was obliged to be absent from his people, and the 
event hereof was uncertain, he appointed his son to reign in his 
absence, from which time he had the title of a king, though his 
father was living : or when a king was superannuated, or unfit to 
reign, as Uzziah was when smote with leprosy ; or when he 
was weary of the fatigue and burden of government, he would 
settle his son, as his viceroy, in his life-time, on which account 
the son is sometimes said to reign with his father : thus many 
account for that difficulty, in 2 Chron. xxxvi. 9. where it is said, 
Jehoiachin-was eight years old when he began to reign ; but in 2 
Kings xxiv. 8. he is said to have been eighteen years oldxvhen 
he began to reign : the meaning is, that when he was eight years 
old, he was nominated as his father's successor ; but when he 
was eighteen years old, he began to reign alone, his father being 
then dead. 

5. Scriptures that seem to contradict one another may not 
treat of the same, but different subjects, as to the general de- 
sign thereof: thus, that seeming contradiction between the apos- 
tles Paul and James is to be accounted for ; the former says. 
Gal. ii. 16. Knowing that a man is not justijied by the xvorh of 



d6 THE WdRD Of GODi 

the lati\ hilt hy the faith of Jesus Christ ; but the other says, 
Jam. ii. 24. That by works a man is justified^ and not hy faith 
only. The apostle Paul speaks of a sinner's justification, or 
freedom from the condemning sentence of the law in the sight 
of God, which gives him a right to eternal life, in which re- 
spect he looks for it out ox himself, and, by faith, depends alone 
on Christ's righteousness ; in this sense, works do not justify : 
wh'^reas che apostle James, when he asserts, that a man is jus- 
tified by works ^ and not by faith only^ intends that our profession 
and sincerity therein is justified ; that is evidenced, not by our 
having just notions of things, or an historical faith, such as the 
devils themselves have, but by those works of holiness, which 
are the fruits of it; this is the only justification he treats of, and 
therefore doth not in the least contradict the apostle Paul, who 
treats of another kind of justification, in which works are ex- 
cluded. 

6. When two scriptures seem to contradict one another, they 
tiiay sometimes be reconciled, by considering the same thing 
absolutely in one place, and comparatively in the other : thus, 
in many scriptures, we are commanded to extend that love to 
every one in their several relations, which is due ; and yet our 
Saviour says, Luke xiv. 26. If any man come to me^ and hate not 
his father and mother^ and -wife^ and children^ and brethren and 
sisters, he cannot be my disciple : this is to be understood com- 
paratively, that is, our love to the creature ought to bear no pro- 
portion to that which is due to God. 

7. Scriptures that seem to contradict one another, often speak 
of different persons, or persons of different characters : thus it 
Ss said, Luke vi. 36. Be ye merciful, as your Father also is 

merciful ; or. Judge not, that ye be not judged. Matt. vii. 2» 
This respects persons in a private capacity, and therefore doth 
not contradict those other scriptures that are applied to ma- 
gistrates in the execution of public justice ; to such it is said, 
Deut. xix. 21. Thine eye shall not pity, but life shall go for 
life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. 

8. Two contrary assertions may be both true in differing 
respects ; thug our Saviour says in one place, The poor ye have 
always xvith you, but me ye have not always. Matt. xxvi» 11. 
and in another, Lo, I am with you always, eveti to the end of 
the world, chap, xxviii. 20. these are both true, one respecting 
Christ's bodily presence, as man, in which respect he is not 
now with us \ the other his spiritu:d and powerful influences, 
v/herebv he is always present with his people as God. 

9. We must take notice of different times or dispensations, 
in which respect those laws or ordinances, which were to be 
received and observed as a rule of faith and duty at one time, 
may not be so at another; thus circumcision is recommended 



THE WORD OF GOD. 97 

as a duty, and a privilege to the Jews before Christ's time, in 
which respect the apostle reckons it among the advantages 
which they formerly had above all other nations, Rom. iii. 1, 
2. but v/heu the gospel dispensation was erected, and the Jew- 
ish ceconomy abolished, ir was so far from being an advantage, 
that the observance of it was deemed no less than a subver- 
sion of the gospel, as the a}X)stle says. Gal. v. 2. If ye be cir- 
ciimcised^ Christ shall pro jit you nothing ; and the same apostle 
gives a very diminutive character of those institutes of the cere- 
monial law, which he calls, in his time, iveak and beggarly ele- 
ments^ such as had a tendency to bring them again into bondage^ 
and blames them for observing the Jewish festivals, such as 
days, montlis, times, and years ; to wit, the new moons, feasts 
of weeks, or of years, such as the seventh year, or the jubilees, 
land tells them, on this occasion, I am afraid of you^ lest I have 
bestowed on yon labour in vain^ chap. iv. 9, 10, 11. so that what 
was ii dutv and a privilege in one age of the church, and en- 
joined with the greatest strictness, and severest punishments on 
those that neglected it, is forbid, as a sin in another age there* 
of, without the least shadow of contradiction between those 
scriptures, which either enjoin or forbid it >• thus, when our 
Saviour first sent his twelve disciples to preach the gospel, he 
commanded them, Not to go in the ivay of the Gentiles^ Matt. 
X. 5. to wit, so long as he was here upon earth, or till they had 
finished their ministry among the Jews, to whom the word 
was first to be preached ; but afterwards, when the gospel was 
to be spread throughout the world, he gave them a commission 
to preach the gospel to all nations^ chap, xxviii. 19. which, accor- 
dingly they did, as apprehending there was no contradiction be- 
tween the former prohibition and the present command, (a) 

(rt) " The most ancient tradition among all nations, is ex:vCtly agi-eeable to the re- 
lation of Aloses. For his description of the or.gmui of the world is almost the very 
same as in the ancient Phosnician histories, which are translated by Philo JiibUva 
from Sivnchoniathon^ s Collection ; and a good part of it is to be found among tlie 
Indians and J-lg-ypticms ; Vvhence it is that iji lAmm, Hesiod, and many other Greek 
writers, mention is made of a Chaos, (signified by some under the name of an Egg) 
and of the framing of imin^als, and iilso of man's fomiation after the divine image, 
and the dominion given him over all living creatui-es ; whicli are to be seen in ma- 
ny writers, particularly in Ch^id, who transcribed them iiom the Creel:. That alj 
things were made by the Word of God, is asserted by Kpichunnus, and the Pla- 
ionists ; and bef )re them, by the most ancient writer (I do not mean of those Hy mns 
which go under his name, but) ot those Verses which were of old called Orphe- 
us' s; not because Orpheus composed them, but because they contained his doc- 
trines. And Empedodes acknowledged, that the smi was not tlie original light, 
but tlie receptacle of light, (the storehouse and vehicle of fu-e, as tlie ancient 
Clu'istians express it.) Jiratus, and Catullus, thought tlie diAme residence was 
above the starry orb ; in wliich Horner says, there is a eontuiual light. 'JViules taught 
from tlie ancient schools, tliat God was the oldest of beings, Iiecaise not begot- 
ten ; that the world was most beautiful, because the woikrnansliln of God ; that 
darkness was before light, which latter we find in Orpfieun's ^'e^seJi, and Heti>jJ, 

Vol. I. N 



*J3 f HE WORD OF OOOi. 

IV. The divine authority of scripture may be further pro- 
ved from the scope and design of the whole, which is to give 
all glory to God. 

•I— ■■ ■ 

whence it was, that the nations, who were most tenacious of ancient customs, 
reckoned the lime by nights. Anaxagoras affirmed, that all things wei-e regula- 
ted by the supreme mind : Jlratm, thai the stars were made by God ; Virgil, I'lom 
the Greeks, that Life was infused into things by the Spirit of God ; Heaiod, Homer, 
and Callimuchns, that man \ras fonned of clay"; lasth", Maximris Ti/rivs asserts, 
tliat it was a constant tradition received by all nations,' tlial tliere was one supreme 
t^iod, the cause of all things. And we learn from Joevphus, PMlo, Tib'iUus, Cle- 
mens Ale.vandrinus, and Luciaji, (for I need not mention tlie Hebrexvs) that the 
memoi) of the seven days' work was preserved, not only among the Greeks and 
Italians, by honouring tiie seventh day ; bat also amongst the Celtcs and Indians, 
who all measured the time by weeks ; as we leai-n from PMhstratus, Dion Cas«7/», 
and Justin Martyr ,• and also "the most ancient names of tlie day. The Egyptians tell 
us, that at first men led theu- lives in great simplicity, their bodies being naked, 
whence arose the poet's fiction of tlic Golden Age, famous among the ImUans, M 
Strabo remarks. Maimmiides takes notice, that ihe history of Adam, of Eve, of 
the tree, :iiid of the serpent, was extant among the idolatrous Indians m his time: 
and there are many witnesses in our age, wlio testify that the same is »till to be 
fount! ..rnongst the lieathen dwelling m Pern, and the PhiSpfmie islands, people 
beioiig.ng to the same India; the name of Adam amongst ihe Prachmana ; and 
and that it was reckoned six thous;md years since the creation of the world, by 
those of Slam. Berosus in his history of Chaldea, Manethos in his of Egypt, Ilie' 
rom in his o^ Phoenicia, Histxus, Ilt'cat.cits, HiUanicv^ in theirs of Greece, iuid /fe- 
no</ among the Poets ; idl assert that the lives of those who descended from the 
first men, were almost a thousand yeai-s in length ; which is the less incredible, 
because the historians of many nations (particularly Pavsamas and Philostrattix 
amongst the Greeks, and Pliiiy amongst the Romans) relate, that men,'s bodies, 
upon opening their sepulchres, were found to be muclt larger in old time. And 
Catullus, after many of the Greeks, relates, that divine visions were made to men 
before their great and manifold crimes did, as it were, hinder God, and tliose Spi- 
rits that attend him, from holding any correspondence with men. We almost 
every where, in the Greek and Latin historians, meet with the savage life of the 
Giants, mentioned by Moses. And it is very remarkable concerning the deluge, 
that the memory of almost all nations ends in the history of it, even those nations 
which were unknown till our forefathers discovered thein : so that Var^-o calls all 
that the unknown time. And all those things which we read in the poets, wrap- 
ped up in fubles (a Liberty tliey allow themselves) are delivered by the ancient 
^vriters according to truth and realit\ ; that is, agreeable to Moses ; as you may 
sec in Berosus' s History of Chalcka,Abifdenus's of ..3*6j/n«, who mentions the dove 
that was sent out of tlie ark; and in Plutarch from the Greeks; and in Lucian, 
who says, that in Hlerapolis of Syria, there was remaining a most ancient history 
of the ark , and of the preserving a few not only of m:u:kind, but also of other liv- 
ing crcatui-es. The same bistort' was extiuit also in Mvlo and in JVicolavs Damas' 
csniis ; winch latter names the ark, which we also find in the histor>- of Deucalion 
in ApoUodjrvs . and many Spaniards affirm, that in several pai'ts of Amenca, as 
Cuba, Mcchouca7iU, J\'icaraga, is preserved the memoiy of the deluge, the saving 
•Ai\e of animals, es]3ecially the raven and dove ; and the deluge itself m that part 
called Golden Castile. That rem:u-k of Pliny's, that Joppa was built before the 
l""lo.)d, discovers what part of the earth men inhabited before the Flood. The 
jilacv where tlie ark rested after tlie deluge on tlie Gordycean mountains, is evi- 
dent from the constiuit tradition of the Armenians from ail past ages, do\",n to this 
very day. Juphet, the father of the Europeans, and from him Jon, or, as thej- for- 
merly pronounced it, Javon of the Greeks, iUid Ifammon of the Africans, are names 
to be seen in ^'Moses, and Josephns and others observe the like footsteps in the 
names of other places and nations. And whicli of the poets is it, in wliich we do 
not find mention made of the attempt t© climb the heavens.'' Biodorvs Siculm, 



"THE WORD OF GOD. ^9 

It may be observed, concerning the scripture, that the ad- 
vancing the divine perfections, and debasing the creature, is 
the great end designed by God in giving it ; and we find that 
whatever doctrine is laid down therein, this end is still pursued. 
Now scripture-doctrines are designed to advance the glory of 
God, either directly or by consequence. 

Strabo, Pacitua, Plimj, SolimiSy speak, of the burninjj of Sodom. Herodotus, Dio- 
dorus, Strabo, Philo Jiiblms, testify the ancient custom of Cn-curriC;.sion, which is 
confirmed by tliose nations descended from Mraham, not only Uebre-ws, but also 
Idmnxans, lamaelites, and others. The histoiy of ^ibraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jo' 
nfph, .'igreeable with J\Iosea, was extant of old in Pliilo lilbiius out of Sunchonia- 
thon, in Berosus, Hecatxus, Damascenus, Artapanue, JSupolemus, Demetnvs, and 
partly m the ancient writers of the Orphic ^'erses ; and something- of it is still 
extant in Justin, out of Tro^us Pompems. By almost all which, is related also the 
history of .Mbse*, and his principal acts. The Orphic Verses expressly mention 
his being taken out of the water, and the two tables that were g-iven him In' God. 
To these we mAy add. Polemon ; and several thing's about his coming out of JE^'z^pf, 
from the Egyptian writers, Alenetho, Lysiinachus, Cluerejnon. Neither can any pru- 
dent man tliink it at all credible, that Moses, who liad so many enemies, not only 
of the Ejiiptiatis, but also of many other nations, as the Iditmteans, Arabians, 
and Phwnicians, would venture to relate any thing coicerning the creation of the 
world, or the original of things, which could be confuted by more aiicient wri- 
tings, or was contradictoiy to the ancient and received opinions : or that he woidd 
relate any thing of matters in his own time, that could be confuted by tiae testi- 
mony of many persons then alive, Diodonts Siculus, Strabo, and Pliny, Tacitus, 
and after them Dionyaius Longinus (concerning loftiness of Speech) make men- 
tion of Moses. Besides the Talimtdists, Pliny and Aptdeitis, spe:ik of Jamnes and 
JMambrea, who resisted Moses in Egypt. Some things there are in other writings, 
and many things amongst the Pythagoreans, about the Law and Rites given by 
Moaes, Strabo and Justin, out of Tragus, i-emai'kably testify concerning the reli- 
gion and righteousness of the ancient Jews: so that there seems to be no need of 
mentioning what is found, or has fonnerly been found of Joshua and other.s, agree- 
able to the Hebrerv books ; seeing, that whoever gives credit to Jiloses (which it 
is a shame for any one to refuse) cannot but believe those fiimous miracles done 
by the hand of God ; which is the principal thing here- aimed at. Now that the 
miracles of late date, such as those of EHJa, Elisha, and others, should not be 
counterfeit, there is this further argument ; that in those times Judcea \\as become 
more known, and because of the clifference of religion was hated by the neigh- 
bours, who could very easily confute the first rise of a lie. The history ot Jonah's 
being three days in the wliale's belly is in Lycophron and ^Eneits Gazeus, only im- 
der the name oi' I/erailus ; to advance whose fame, eveiy thing that \\as gi-eat and 
noble used to be related of him, as Tacitus observes. Certainly nothing but the 
manifest evidence of the history could compel Julian (v\-ho was as great an ene- 
my to the Je-ivs as to the Christians) to confess that there were some men inspi- 
red by the divine Spirit amongst the Jeivs, and that fire descended from heaven, 
and consiimed the sacrifices m Moses and Elias. .And licre it is worthy of obser- 
vation, that there was not only veiy severe punishments threatened amongst the 
lltbre-MS, to any who should falsely assume the gift of prophecy, \mt very many 
kings, who by that means might have procured gi-eat authority to themselves, and 
many learncil men, such as Esdras and others, dared not to assume this lionour 
to themselves ; nay, .some ag-es before Christ's time, nobody dared to do it. Much 
less could so many thousand people be imposed upon, in avouching a constant and 
public miracle, I mean that of the oracle, which shined on the High Priest's 
breast, which is so firmly believed by all the Jews, to have remained till the de- 
struction of the first temple, that their ancestors must of necessity be well assu- 
r«"d of the truth of it." 

G ilOTIt^ 



too THE WORD OF GOD. 

1. As to tKe former of these, the scripture abounds with ir- 
stances, in which God is adored or set forth, as the object of 
adoration, that is, as having all divine perfections, and as do- 
ing every thing becoming himself as a God of gloiy : thus he 
is described herein, as the Lord mo-i't high and terrible^ a great 
King over all the earthy Psal. xlvii. 2. and glorious in holiness^ 

fearful in praises^ doing wonders^ Exod. xv. 11. and as the 
true God^ the living God^ and an everlasting King^ Jer. x. 10. 
and as the great and dreadful God^ keeping the covenant and 
mercy to them that love him., and to therii that keep his coramand- 
ments^ Dan. ix. 4. and it is also said, Thine^ Lord^ is the 
g'reatness, ajid the porter., and the glory., and the victory., and 
the majesty ; for all that is in the heaven., and in the earth is 
thine : thine is the kingdom^ Lord., and thou art exalted as 
Head over all., 1 Chron. xxix. 11. These, and such-iike adora- 
ble perfections, are not only occasionally ascribed to God in 
scripture, but ever\' part thereof displays his giory in a manner 
so illustrious, as gives ground to conclude, that the great design 
of it is to raise in us becoming apprehensions of him, and to 
put us upon adoring and worshipping him as God. 

2. It may, by a just consequence, be said to give all the glo- 
ry to him, as it represents the emptiness, and even nothing- 
ness of all creatures, when compared with him, and hereby 
recommends him, as all in all : when it speaks of the best of 
creatures, as veiling their faces before him, as acknowledging- 
themselves unworthy to behold his gloiy, and as deriving all 
their happiness from him ; and when it speaks of man as a 
sinful guilty creature, expecting all from him, and depending 
upon him for grace sufficient for him t" and when it speaks of 
God, as the author and finisher of faith, in whom alone there 
is hope of obtaining mercy and forgiveness, grace here, and 
glory hereafter, and lays down this as the sum of all religion ; 
we must certainly conclude that its design is to give all glory 
to God. 

Now let us consider the force of this argument, or how the 
general scope and design of scripture, to give all glory to God, 
proves its divine authority. Had it been the invention and con- 
trivance of men, or if the writers thereof had pretended they 
had received it by inspiration from God, and it had not been 
so, then the great design thereof would have been to advance 
themselves ; and they would certainlj' have laid down such a 
scheme of religion therein, as is agreeable to the corrupt ap- 
petites and inclinations of men, or would tend to indulge and 
dispense with sin, and not such an one as sets forth the holiness 
of God, and his infinite displeasure against it. 

And as for salvation, the penmen of scripture, had they not 
been inspired, would certainly have represented it as very easy 



THE WORD OF GOD. 101 

to be attained, and not as a work of such difficult)* as it really 
is ; and they would also have propagated such a rtligion, as 
supposes the creature not dependent on, or beholden to God 
for this salvation, and then the scripture would have deti-acted 
from his glory ; but since, on the other hand, its general de- 
ssigu is to give him the glory due to his name, this is a con- 
vincing evidence of its divine originaL 

From the general design of scripture, as being to give all 
glory to God, we may infer, 

(1.) That whenever we read the word of God, we ought to 
have this great design in view, and so not consider it barely a» 
an historical narrative of things done, but should observe how 
the glory of the divine perfections is set forth, that hereby we 
may be induced to ascribe greatness to God, and admire him 
for all the discoveries which he makes of himself therein. 

(2.) The scriptures' general design should be a rule to us iu 
the whole of our conversation, wherein we ought to give all 
glory to God : whatever we receive or expect from him, or 
whatever duty we engage in, let us act as those, that not only 
take the scripture for our rule, but its general scope and de- 
sign for our example. 

(3.) Whatsoever doctrines are pretended to be deduced from, 
or to contain the sense of scripture, Avhich, notwithstanding,- 
tend to depreciate the divine perfections, these are to be re- 
jected, as contrar)'^ to its general scope and design. 

V. Another argument may be taken from the character of 
the penmen of scripture ; and here let them be supposed to be 
either good men, or bad : if good men, then the)^ could not 
give themselves such a liberty to impose upon the M'orld, and 
pretend that they received that from God, which they did not; 
and if they were bad men, they neither could nor would have 
laid down such doctrines, as centre in, lead tiic soul to God, 
and tend to promote self-denial, and ad-\^ance his glory in all 
things ; since this is to suppose the worst of men to have the 
best ends, which we can never do ; for, as our Saviour says. 
Matt. vii. 16. Do men gather grapes of thorns^ or Jigs of this- 
ties ? He is speaking of false prophets, who were to be known 
by their fruits ; wicked men will have bad designs, or are like 
the corrupt tree, which bringeth foi-th evil fruit. But, on the 
other hand, if persons deliver that which carries in it such in- 
ternal evidence of divine truth, and have such a noble design 
in view, as the securing the honour of God, and promoting his 
interest in the world, these must certainly be approved of by 
him, and concluded to be good men ; and if so, then they 
would not impose a fallacy on the world, or say that the scrip- 
ture was given by divine inspiration, when they knew it to be 
Otherwise. 



Kte "rkx WORD or god. 

If the scriptures are not the word 6f God, then the penmen 
thereof have miserably deceived, not a small number of credu- 
lous people, but the whole Christian world, among whom we 
must allow that many were judicious, and such as would not 
easily suffer themselves to be imposed on ; to which we may 
add, that others to whom the gospel was preached, were exas- 
perateei enemies to those, that pr;.ached it, and particularly to 
these mspired penmen of scripture, and greatly prejudiced 
against their doctrine, and therefore would use all possible en- 
deavours to detect the fallacy, if there had been any ; so that 
it was morally impossible for them to deceive the world in this 
instance, or make them believe that the scriptures were the 
word of God, if there had not b.en the strongest evidence to 
convince them of it, which they could not withstand or gainsay. 

But, that we may enter a little further into the character of 
the penmen of scripture, let it be obsen^ed, 

1. That they could not be charged by their enemies with 
immoral practices, or notorious crimes, which might weaken 
the credit of the truths they delivered : they were, indeed, 
compassed about with like infirmities with other men ; for it is 
not to be supposed, that, because they were inspired, therefore 
they were perfecdy free from sin ; since that does not neces- 
sarily follow from their having this privilege conferred upon 
them ; yet their enemies themselves could find no great blem- 
ishes in their character, which might justly prejudice them 
against their writings, or that might render them unfit to be 
employed in this great work of transmitting the mind of God 
to the world. 

2. They appear to be men of great integrity, not declining 
to discover and aggravate their own faults, as well as the sins 
of others. Thus Moses, though a man of gi-eat meekness, as 
to his general character, discovers his own failing, in repming, 
and being uneasy, because of the untoward and turbulent spi- 
rit of the people, over whom he was appointed a governor, 
when he represents himself as complaining to God ; Wherefore 
hast thou afflicted thy servant? and ivheref ore have I not found 

favour in thy sights that thou layest the burden of all this peo- 
ple uponrne} Have I conceived all tins people ? Have I begot- 
ten them^ that thou shouldest saytinto ??zf. Carry them in thy bo- 
som f Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people ? 
I am not able to bear this people alone^ because it is too heavy for 
vie. And if thou deal thus -with me^ kill me., I pray thee., out of 
hand., if I have found favour in thy sight ; and let vie not see 
mine own xvretchedness., Numb. xi. 11 — 15. This was certainly 
a very great blemish in the character of this excellent man ; but 
he does not attempt to conceal it ; nor does he omit to mention 
his backwardness to comply with the call of God, to deliver 



THE WORD OF GOD. 103 

his brethren cut of their bondage in Egypt, but tells us what 
poor trifling excuses he made ; as when he says, Exod. iv. 10, 
13, 19. Lord^ I am not eloquent; and when God answers 
him, by promising to supply this detect, he obstinately ptr&ists 
in dticlining this service, and says, my Lord^ send^ 1 pray 
thee^ by the hand of him whom thou xvilt send; that is, by any 
one but mvseif ; so that he who expressed such courage and 
resolution forty years before in defending the oppressed Israel- 
ites, and supposed that his brethren would have understood that 
God, by his hand, Avould deliver them, but they understood it 
not. Acts vii. 24, 25. when God really called him to deliver 
them, he obstinately refused to obey ; and, indeed, whatever 
excuses he might make, the main thing that lay at the bottom 
was fear, and therefore, as a further inducement to it, God 
tells him, The men rvere dead that sought his life. All this he 
says concerning himself; and elsewhere he tells us, Deut. 
xxxii. 51, 52. compared with Numb. xx. 10, 11, 12. and Deut. 
jii. 25 — 27. that he did not sanctify the name of God in the 
eyes of the people, but spake unadvisedly with his lips ; and 
that, for this, God would not let him go into the land of Ca- 
naan, though he earnestly desired it. 

And the prophet Jeremiah tells us, how he was ready to faint, 
and, in a murmuring way, curses the day of his birth, Jer. xx. 
7, 8, 14, 15, 16. and seems almost determined not to make men- 
tion of God^ nor speak any more in his naine^ because he had 
been put in the stocks by Pashur, and was derided and mocked 
by others, who were, indeed, below his notice. 

And David discovered his own sin, though it was a very 
scandalous one, in the matter of Uriah, Psal. li. the title, com- 
pared with ver. 14. and prays. Deliver me from blood guiltiness ; 
which is a confession of his being guilty of murder. 

The apostles also discover their infirmities. Thus Paul dis- 
covers his fm-ious temper, in persecuting the church, before his 
conversion, and ranks himself amongst the chief of sinners, 
1 Tim. i. 13, 15. And how willing is Matthew to let the world 
know, that, before his conversion, he was a publican : thus he 
characterises himself, Matt. x. 3. and says, chap. ix. 9. that 
when Christ called him, he sat at the receipt of custom^ though 
the publicans were reckoned among the vilest of men for extor- 
tion, and other crimes, and were universally hated by the Jews. 
Moreover as the penmen of scripture expose their own 
crimes, so they do those of their nearest and dearest friends 
and relatives, which carnal policy would have inclined them to 
conceal. Thus Moses tells us how Aaron his brother made the 
golden calf, and so was the encourager and promoter of the 
people's idolatry; that it was he that bid them break off th-; 
golden ear-ring^^ zi'hich he rccched at their hand^ vckereof hr 



104- Tiir. wojiD or gqd. 

made a molten calf-, and then biiill an altar before it^ Exod. 
xxxii. 2— '5^ Though the Jewish historian * was so politic, as 
to conceal this thing, for ihe honour of his own nation ; and 
therefore when he tciis us, that Moses went up into the mount to 
receive the laW, he s«iys nothing of the scandalous crime, which 
\h^ people were guilty of at the foot of the mountain at the 
aame time. 

Moreover, as they do not conceal their sins, so they some- 
times declare the meanness of their exta-action, which shewed that 
they did not design to have honour from men. Tlius Amos 
tells us, AiTios i. 1. He xvas among' the herdmen of Ttkoa : and 
that he was not bred up in the schools of the prophets, which he 
intends, \yhen he styles himself, no prophet^ neither a prophet^ a 
ifin, chap. vii. 14. 

• v'And the evangelists occasionally tell the world how they 
were fisher-men, when called to be Christ's disciples, and 
so not bred up in the schools of learning among the Jews, (a) 

* Vid. Joseph Aiitiq. 

(a) Reason will tiffirm tiwt every effect speaks a cause ; then we ask how it 
should happen that a dozen illiterate fishermen and mechanicks of Galilee, after 
ttie wisdom of the philosopiiers had left the world m dai-kness, should have uitro- 
duccd so much light of knowiedg-e, that our children and servants are wiser than 
the ancient philosophers ? Let no one say, tliat tliey only began, what the wisdom 
T>f after ages have carried on tov/ards perfection. The writings of tire apostles are 
thesameto this day ; as is proved by the earliest versions, quotations, and manu- 
scripts. So perfect was the system of morals they left, tliat no eri'or has been 
detected in it, and all attem]3ts to build upon or add to it, have only exposed the 
ignorance of the individuals v.-ho have essayed to do so. "* 

Mow has it happened that whilst learned men have ever been at discord about 
the nature, and true foundation of the obligation of virtue, these despised fisher- 
men, have shown tile true foundation andnatiu-e of duty, and have en-ed in no par- 
ticular ? Is it not strange that whilst the wisdom of the philosophers made their 
puivst virtue but a more refined pride, these poor men laid the ax to the I'oot of 
that pride, and taught tlie W'Orld that even their virtues brouglit them under ad- 
ditional obi:L';aiion^ to Divine grace .'' Is it not remarkable thav the system taught 
by these unlearned men should so perfectly coincide Avith what is discovered irt 
the works of God, that whilst it aims to eradicate sin, it represents it as in evei"y 
instance eventually productive of the glory of that God, who brhigs good out of 
the evil, and light out of the darkness i' 

How is it to be accounted for, that ^dien the most leai-ned rabbles per\erted the 
law, and knew not its meaning, that a few crude and uninstructed fishermen 
shovdd I'emove vheir fnlse constructions of that law, explain the t}-pes, shadows, 
promises and pi-ouheciesi, sliow how the truth and justice of God might be clear - 
in thepardon of sin,^ and set the laboiu-ing conscience at rest ? How came the fisher- 
menof Galilee todlscover to the wise andlearned v»hat tliey had never conjectured, 
^.nd ti-uths, which only attentive minds at the pi-esent time can acquiesce in, that 
all things are certjxin, becau.se foreknown, :uid foi-eknown becatise Divine know- 
ledge must be infinite and eteinal, and yet that ratiomd creatures may be capable 
of choosing iiid refusing, thongh ihey must be whoU} dependent r Is it not pass- 
ing strange that the wisdom of Pliilosophers, the leai'ning of Rabbles, the jiower 
of Kings and Emperors, the influence of tliousands of priests, tlie prejudices of 
the world, and the malice of the wicked should be o^ ercomeb)' twelve poor fisher- 
men ? How is it to be accounted for that these twelve poor illiterate men should 



THE WORD OF GOD. 105 

3. They were very far from being crafty or designing men ; 
neither did they appear to be men that were able to manage an 
imposture of this nature, or frame a new scheme of religion, 
and, at the same time, make the world believe that it was from 
God. For, 

(1.) None that read the scriptures can find any appearance 
of design in the penmen thereof, to advance themselves or fami- 
lies. IVIoses, indeed, had the burden of government, but he did 
not affect the pomp and splendor of a king ; neither did he 
make any provision for his family, so as to advance them to 
great honours in the world, which it was in his power to have 
done : the laws he gave, rendered those of his own tribe, to 
wit, that of Levi, incapable of, and not designed for kingly go- 
vernment ; and the highest honour of the priesthood, which 
was fixed in that tribe, was conferred on his brother's children, 
not his own. 

(2.) The prophets were very few of them great men in the 
world, not advanced to great places in the government ; the 
esteem and reputation they had among the people at any time, 
was only for their integrity, and the honour conferred on them 
by God ; and the apostles were plain men, who drove on no 
design to gain riches and honours from those to whom they 
preached the gospel ; but, on the other hand, they expected no- 
thing but poveity, reproach, imprisonment, and, at last, to die a 
violent death : therefore, how can it be supposed that they were 
subtle designing men, who had some worldly advantage in 
view ? It is plain that they had no design but to do what God 
commanded, and to communicate what they had received from 
him, and shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God, 
whatever it cost them. The apostle Paul was so far from en- 
deavouring to enrich himself by preaching the gospel, that he 
tells the church, I seek not your's^ hit ijou^ 2 Cor. xii. 14. and 
how he was fortified against the afflictions, which he foresaw 
would attend his ministry, when he says, Philip, iv. 11, 12. / 
have learned in whatsoever state I am^ therewith to be content. I 
know ho-w to be abased^ and I know how to abound^ to befull^ and 
to be hungry^ to abound and to suffer want : and he was not on- 
ly content to bear afflictions, but, when called to it, he profes- 



have effected such surprising changes, thut modern infidels are ashamed of tlie evi- 
dence oftlieir ancient predecessors, and are obliged to borrow from the fishermen ot 
Galilee aport ion of the knowledge they have introduced, Without which the opposeis 
of the Gospel must fail into contempt ? Is any man so credulous as to imagine men 
of no better education and opportimities, possessed of themselves all this know- 
ledge ? when or where lias the natural world produced such a ])l>a:uomenon ? 
they declared that it was not of themselves, but, that such feeble ir.stj-umentj* 
werecliosen, that tlie power might appear to be what it really was, from Go J. 
This testimony they confirmed bv miracles, and sealed with their blood. 

Voi . r. " o 



iO& THE WORD OF GOD. 

s€s himself to take pleasure in reproach^ in necessities^ in perse* 
cutionsy in distresses^ for Christ's sake^ 2 Cor. xii. 10. 

Hitherto we have proved, that the penmen of scripture were 
men of such a character, that they would not designedly impose 
on mankind. But some will say, might they not be imposed on 
themselves, and think they were divinely inspired^ when they 
were not .'' 

To this it may be answered, that if they were deceived or 
imposed on themselves, when they thought they received the 
scripture by divine inspiration, this must proceed from one of 
these two causes : either, 

1. They took what was the result of a heated fancy, a strong 
imaginaiion, or raised affections for inspiration, as some of our 
modern enthusiasts have done, who have prefaced their warn- 
ings, as they call them, with. Thus saith the Lord^ &c. when 
the Lord did not speak by them. And the deists have the same 
notioH of the prophets and inspired penmen of scripture, and 
esteem their writings no farther than as they contain the law 
of nature, or those doctrines that are self-evident, or mjght 
have been invented by the reason of man ', and as such they re- 
ceive them, without any regard to divine inspiration. Or, 

2. If the inspired penmen of scripture were otherwise im- 
posed on, it must be by a diabolic inspiration^ of which, in other 
cases, the world has had various instances, when Satan is said 
(to use the apostle's words) to transform himself into an angel 
of lights 2 Cor. xi. 14. or has been suffered to deceive his fol* 
lowers, not only by putting forth signs and lying wonders, but 
impressing their minds with strong aeiusions, v/hereby they 
have believed a lie, 2 Thess. ii. 9, 1 1. as supposing it to proceed 
from divine inspiration j and, to give countenance thereto, has 
produced such violent agitations, trems'blings, or distortions in 
their bodies, as have seemed preteniatural, not much unlike 
those with which the heathen oracles were delivered of old, 
which were called by some, a divine fuiy ; but this cannot, 
with any shadow of reason, be applied to the inspired Avriters, 
therefore they v/ere not iinposed on. 

1. They did not mistake their own faiM:ies for divine revelation.- 
To suppose that they did s<5, is not only to conclude that all 
revealed religion is a delusion ; but that the church in all agesy 
and amongst them the ■wisest and best of men, have been en- 
thusiasts, and all their hope, founded on this revelation, has 
been no bettei- than a vain dream. But it is one thing to assert^ 
and another thing to prove ; and because they v\^ho take this li- 
berty to reproach the scriptures, pretend not to support their 
charge by argument, it might seem less necessary to make a re- 
ply : however, that our faitli may be established, we shall brief- 
ly consider this objection. Therefore, 



THE WORD OF GOD. 107 

(1.) This charge is either brought against all that ever spake 
or wrote by divine inspiration, or only against some of them ; 
if only some of them have been thus deluded, we might de- 
mand particular instances of any of the inspired v/ritcrs, ■ who 
are liable to this charge, together with the reasons thereof. If 
it be said that some of them were men of less wisdom, or had 
not those advantages to improve their natural abilities, as others 
have had ; this will not be sufficient to support then- cause, since 
God can make use of what instruments he pleases, and endow 
them with wisdom in an extraordinary way, to quality them for 
the service he calls them to, whereby the glory ot his sovereign- 
ty more appears. If he pleases to chuse the foolish things of the 
ivorld^ to confound the zuise^ that no flesh shall glory in his pre- 
sence^ 1 Cor. i. 27, 29. shall he for this be called to an account 
by vain man ? And it is certain, that some who have had thi§ 
gift, have, as the consequence thereof, been endowed with such 
wisdom, as has tended to confound their most malicious ene- 
mies. But we will suppose that the}', who bring this charge a- 
gainst the inspired writers, will not pretend to single out any 
among them, but accuse them all in general of enthusiasm ; 
and if this charge be grounded on the vain pretensions of some 
to inspiration in this age, in which we have no ground to ex- 
pect this divine gift, will it follow, that, because some are delu- 
ded, therefore divine revelation, supported by incontestable evi- 
dence, was a delusion ? Or if it be said, that some of old, 
whom we conclude to have been inspired, were called enthusi- 
asts, as Jehu, and his fellow-soldiers concluded the prophet to 
be, who was sent to anoint him king, 2 Kings ix. 11. nothing 
can be inferred from thence, btit that there were, in all ages, 
some Deists, who have treated things sacred with I'eproac h and 
ridicule. 

(2.) But if this charge be pretended to be supported by any 
thing that has the least appearance of an argtmient, it v/ill be 
alleged, in defence thereof, that it is iuipossible for a person 
certainly to know himself to be inspired at any time ; if that 
could be proved indeed, it would be something to the ptirpose : 
and inasmuch as we are obliged to assert the contrary, it will 
be demanded, how it might be known that a person was under 
inspiration, or what are the certain marks by which we may 
conclude that the inspired writers were not mistaken in this 
matter ? I confess, it is somewhat difficult to determine this 
question, especially since inspiration has so long ceased in the 
world ; but we shall endeavour to answer it, by laying down 
the following propositions. 

1. If some powerful and impressive influences of the Spirit 
of God on the sotils of men, in the more common and ordlnar}'' 
jnethods of divine providence and grace, have been not oi\ly 



108 THE WORD or GOD. 

experienced, but their truth and reality discerned by them, who 
have been iavourcd therewith, so that without pretending to in- 
spiration, they had sufficient reason to conclude that they were 
divine ; certainly whtn God was pleased to converse with men 
in such a way, as that v/hich we call inspiration, it was not im- 
possible for them to conclude that they were inspired ; which 
is an argument taken from the less to the gi^eater. 

2. There were some particular instances, in which it seemed 
absolutely necessary, that they who received intimations from 
God in such a way, should have infallible evidence that they 
were not mistaken, especially when some great duty was to be 
performed by them, pursuant to a divine command, in which it 
would be a dangerous thing for them to be deceived ; as in the 
case of Abraham's offering up his son ; and Jacob's going with 
his family into Egypt, which was a forsaking the promised land, 
an exposing them to the loss of their religion, through the in- 
fluence or example of those with w horn they went to sojourn ; 
and it might be uncertain whether they should ever return or 
no ; therefore he needed a divine warrant, enquired of God 
with respect to this matter, and doubtless had some way to be 
infallibly assured concerning the divine will relating hereunto, 
Gen. xlvi. 2, 3, 4. Moreover, our Saviour's disciples, leaving 
their families, going into the most remote parts of the world to 
propagate the gospel, which they had received in this way, 
evinces the necessity of their knowing themselves to be under 
a divine inspiration : and if they had been deceived in this mat- 
ter, would they not have been reproved for it by him, whose 
intimations they are supposed to have followed in the simplici- 
ty of their hearts ? 

3. As to the way by which God might convince them, beyond 
all manner of doubt, that he spake to them who were under di- 
vine inspiration, there are various ways, that might have been 
taken, and probably were. As, 

(1.) Sometimes extraordinary impressions were made on the 
30ul of the prophet, arising from the immediate access of God 
to it : of this we have frequent instances in scripture ; as in 
that particular vision which Daniel saw, which occasioned his 
comeliness to be turned into corruption^ and his having- no 
strength^ Dan. x. 8. and the vision of our Saviour, which John 
saw, the effect whereof was his falling at his feet as dead. Rev. 
i. 17. and many other instances of the like nature might be de- 
ferred to, which were, at least, antecedent to inspiration, and the 
result of the access of God to the soul, which occasioned such a 
change in nature, as could not but be discerned after the per- 
son had a little recovered himself. But if it be said, that such 
an effect as this might be produced by an infernal spirit, the an- 
swer I would give to that is, that supposing this possible, yet 



THE WORD OF GOD. 109 

it must be proved that God would suffer it, especially in such an 
instance, in which his own cause w;is so much concerned ; and 
besides, it is not improbable that the soul of the prophet was 
sometimes brought into such a frame of spirit, as resembled i he 
heavenly state, as much as it is possible for any one to atttiin to 
in this world; such an intercourse as this made Jacob say. 
This is no other but the house ofGod^ and this the gate of heaven. 
Gen. xxviii. 17. 

(2.) As this converse with God contained in it something 
supernatural and very extraordinary in the effects thereof, so it 
is not improbable that God might woi-k miracles, of various 
kinds, to confirm the prophet's belief as to this matter, though 
they are not particularly recorded in all the instances in which 
we read of inspiration ; and this would be as full an evidence 
as could be desired. 

If it be objected, that it is not probable that miracles were al- 
ways wrought to give this conviction : I would not be too pe- 
remptory in pretending to determine this matter, it is suificient 
to say they were sometimes wrought ; but, however, there were, 
doubtless, some other concurring circumstances, which put the 
thing out of all dispute ; for not to suppose this, is to reflect on 
the wisdom and goodness of God, as well as to depreciate one 
of the greatest honours which he has been pleased to confer up- 
on men. Thus we have considered the unreasonableness of the 
charge brought against the inspired penmen of scripture, as 
though they were imposed on, by mistaking their enthusiastic 
fancies for divine revelation. We proceed to consider, 

2. That they were not imposed upon by the devil, as mistak- 
ing some impressions made by him on their minds, for divine 
revelation : this is evident ; for 

1. Divine inspiration was not only occasional, or confei-red in 
some particular instances, with a design to amuse the world, or 
confirm some doctrines v/hich were altogether new, impure, and 
subversive of the divine glory in some ages thereof, when men 
were universally degenerate, and had cast off God and religion ; 
but it was continued in the church- for many ages, when they 
evidently appeared to be the peculiar objects of the divine re- 
gard; and therefore, 

2. God would never have suffered the devil, in such circum- 
stances of time and things, to have deluded the world, and that 
in such a degree, as that he should be the author of that rule of 
faith, which he designed to make use of to propagate his interest 
therein ; so that his people should be beholden to their grand ene- 
my for those doctrines which were transmitted by insjnration. 

3. Satan woidd have acted against his own interest, should 
he have inspired men to propagate a religion, which has a di- 
rect tendency to overthrow his own kingdom ; in which instance, 



110 THE WORD OF GOB. 

as our Saviour observes, His kingdom would he divided against 
itself^ Matih. xii. 25, 26. As it is contrary to thv wisdom and 
holiness of God to sulfer it, so Satan could never hav , done it 
out of choice, ana he has too much subtilty to do it through mis- 
take ; therefore the inspired writers could not be imposed on by 
any infernal spirit. 

And to this we may add, that this could not be done by a good 
angel ; for if such a one had pretended herein to have imitated, 
or as it were, usurped the throne of God, he would not have de- 
served the character of a good angel ; therefore it follows, that 
they could not have been inspired by any but God himself. 

Having considered that the penmen of scripture have faith- 
fully transmitted to us what they received by divine inspiration, 
we must now take notice of some things which are alleged by 
those who endeavour not only to depreciate, but oveitlirow the 
divine authority of the sacred writings, when they allege that 
they were only inspired, as to the substance or general idea of 
what they committed to writing, and were left to express tlie 
things contained therein in their own words, which, as they sup- 
pose, hath occasioned some contradictions, which they pretend 
to be found therein, arising from the treachery of their memo- 
ries, or the unfitness of their style, to express w^hat had been 
communicated to them. This they found on the difference of 
style observed in the various books thereof; as some are writ- 
ten in an elegant and lofty style, others clouded with mystical 
and dark expressions ; some are more plain, others are laid 
down in an argumentative way ; all which differing ways of 
speaking they suppose agreeable to the character of the inspi- 
red writers thereof : so that, though the matter contains in it 
something divine, the words and phrases, in which it is deli- 
vered can hardly be reckoned so. 

And as for some books of scripture, especially those that are 
historical, they suppose that these might be written without in- 
spiration, and that some of them were taken from the histories 
which were then in being, or some occurrences which were ob- 
served in the davs in which the writers lived, and were gene- 
rally known and believed in those times, to which they more 
immediately relate. 

And as for those books of scripture, which aj-e more espe- 
cially doctrinal, they suppose that there are many mistakes in 
them, but that these respect only doctrines of less importance ; 
whereas the providence of God has prevented them from mak- 
ing anv gross or notorious blunders, subversive of natural reli- 
gion ; so that the scripture may be deemed sufficient to ansAver 
the general design thereof, in propagating religion in the world, 
though we are not obliged to conclude that it is altogether free 



THE WORD OF GOD. Ill 

from those Imperfections that will necessarily attend such a 
kind of inspiration. 

Amxu. If this account of scripture be true, it would hardly 
deserve to be called the word of God; therefore, that we may 
vindicate it from this aspersion, let it be considered, 

1. As to the different styles observed in the various books 
thereof, it does not follow from hence, that the penmen were 
left to deliver what they received, in their own words ; lor cer- 
tainly it was no difficult matter for the Spirit of God to furnish 
the writers thereof with words, as well as matter, and to inspire 
them to write in a style agreeable to what they used in other 
cases, whereby they might better understand and communicate 
the sense thereof to those to whom it was first given ; as if a 
person should send a message by a child, it is an easy matter 
to put such words into his mouth as are agreeable to his com- 
mon way of speaking, without leaving the matter to him to ex- 
press it in his own words : thus the inspired writers might be 
furnished with words by the Holy Ghost, adapted to that style 
which they commonly used, without supposing they were left to 
themselves to clothe the general ideas with their own words.(a) 

2. As to what is said concerning the historical parts of scrip- 
ture, that it is not necessary for them to have been transmitted 
to us by divine inspiration, it may be replied, that these, as well 
as other parts thereof, -wet-e xvrittenfor our learnings Rom. xv. 
4. so that what is excellent in the character of persons, is de- 
signed for our imitation ; their blemishes and defects, to hum- 
ble us under a sense of the universal corruption of human na- 
ture ,* and the evil consequences thereof, to awaken our fears, 
and dehort us from exposing ourselves to the same judgments 
which were inflicted as the punishment of sin : and the account 
we have of the providential dealing of God with his church, in 
the various ages thereof, is of use to put us upon admiring and 
adoring the divine perfections, as much as the doctrinal parts of 
scripture ; and therefore it is necessary that we have the greatest 
certainty that the inspired writers have given us a true narra- 
tion of things, and consequently that the words, as well as the 
matter, are truly divine. 

3. When, that they may a little palliate the matter, they al- 
low that the inspired writers, though left to the weakness of 
their memory, and the impropriet}'^ of their style, were, notwith- 
standing, preserved, by the interposure of divine providence, 
from committing mistakes in matters of the highest importtmce j 
it may be replied. That it will be very difficult for them to as- 
sign what doctrines are of greater, and what of less importance, 
in all the instances thereof, or wherein providence has inter- 
posed, to prevent their running into mistakes, and when it has 

(«; Vide Dodd Expos. 3 vol, app.— Di€k on Insp.-^Parry's Enq — ^^wker, &>:. 



112 THE WORD OF GOD. 

not ; so that we are still in an uncertainty what doctrines are de-' 
livered to us, as they were received by inspiration, and what 
are misrepresented by the penmen of scripture ; and we shall be 
ready to conclude, that in every section or paragraph thereof, 
some things may be true, and others false ; some doctrines di- 
vine and others human, while we are left without any certain 
rule to distinguish one from the other, and accordingly we can- 
not be sure that any part of it is the word of God ; so that such 
a revelation as this would be of no real service to the church, 
and our faith would be founded in the wisdom, or rather weak- 
ness of men, and our religion, depending on it, could not be 
truly divine ; so that this method of reasoning is, to use the 
word inspiration, but to destrov all the valuable ends thereof. 

VI. Another argument, to prove the scriptures to be the 
word of God, may be taken from their antiquity and wonderful 
preservation for so many ages ; this appears more remarkable, 
if we consider, 

1. That many other writings, of much later date, have been 
lost, and nothing more is known of them, but that there were 
once such books in the world; and books might more easily be 
lost, when there were no other but written copies of them, and 
these procured with much expense and difficulty, and conse- 
quently their number proportionably small. 

2. That the scripture should be preserved, notwithstanding 
all the malice of its avowed enemies, as prompted hereunto by 
Satan, whose kingdom is overthrown by it. Had it been in his 
power, he would certainly have utterly abolished and destroyed 
it ; but yet it has been preserved unto this day, which discovers 
a wonderful hand of providence ; and would God so remarkably 
have taken care of a book, that pretends to advance itself by 
bearing the character of a divinely inspired writing, if it had 
not been reallv so ? Which leads us to the next argument, con- 
taining an advice, which is more convincing than any other ; or, 
at least, if this be added to those arguments which have been 
already given, I hope it will more abundantly appear that the 
scriptures are the word of God ,* since, 

VII. The divine authority thereof is attested by God him- 
self; and if, in other cases, we receive the xvitness ofmen^ surely, 
as the apostle observes, the -witness of God is greater^ 1 John v. 9, 

Now the testimony of God to the authority of scripture is 
twofold ; First, Extraordinary ; Secondly, Ordinary ; the extra- 
ordinar)^ testimony of God is that of miracles ; the ordinary is 
taken from the use which he makes of it, in convincing and con- 
verting sinners, and building up in holiness and comfort, 
through faitli, unto salvation. 

1. As to the former of these, God has attested the truth 
hereof bv miracles. A miracle is an extraordinary divine 



THE WORD OF GOD. 113 

vi'ork, whereby something is produced, contrary to the common 
course and laws ot nature : thus the magicians confessed, ihat 
one of the miracles which iVIoses wrought was the finger of 
God^ Exod. viii. 19. Oi these there are many undeniable in- 
stances recorded in scripture, both in the Old and New Testa- 
ment ; and these being above the power of a creature, and m orks 
peculiar to God, they contain a diyine testimony to the truth 
that is conlirmed thereby, for the confirmaLion whereof an ap- 
peal was made to them. Now when we say that the divin,q 
authority of scripture was confirmed by miracles, we mean, 

(1.) That God has wrought miracles to testify his approba- 
tion of most of the prophets and apostles, who were the inspired 
writers thereof, whereby their mission was declared to be dir 
vine ; and we cannot think that God, who knows the hearts and 
secret designs of men, would employ or send any to perform so 
gi"eat imd important a work, if he knew them to be disposed to 
deceive and impose on the world; or that they would in any 
instance, call that his word which they did not receive from 
him. The reason why men sometijnes employ unfaithful ser- 
vants about their work is, because they do pot know them ; 
they never do it out of choice ; and therefore we cannot sup- 
pose that God, who perfectly knows the hearts of men, would 
do so ; therefore, having not only emplo) ed the penmen of 
scripture as his servants, but confirmed their mission, and tes- 
tified his approbation of them, by miracles, this is a ground of 
conviction to us that they would not have pretended the scrip- 
tures to be the word of God, if they were not so. 

Now that miracles have been wrought for this end, I think, 
needs no proof; for we are assured hereof, not barely by there- 
port of those prophets, whose mission is supposed to have been 
confirmed thereby, but it was universally known and received 
in the church, in those times, in which they were wrought, and 
it is not pretended to be denied, by its most inveterate enemies ; 
the truth hereof, viz. that Moses, and several other of the pro- 
phets, and our Saviour, and his apostles, wrought miracles, can 
hardly be reckoned a matter in controversy; for it is a kind of 
scepticism to deny it : and it is certain, that herein they appeal- 
ed to God for the confirmation of their mission ; as Elijali is 
said explicitly to have done, when he pra3^s to this effect; Lord 
God of Abraham^ hauc^ and of hrael^ let it be knoxun this day 
that thou art God in Israel^ and that Ian thy servant ; and that 
I have done all these thiiigs at thy ivord^ 1 Kings xviii. 36. and 
we read, that God answered him accordingly. By the f re from 
heaven consuming the burnt-sacrifice^ &c. ver. 38. 

(2.) Such appeals to Ciod, and answers from him, have at- 
tained their end, by giving conviction to those who were more 
immediately concerned; this is evident from what is said; in 

Vol . I. ' P 



Il4 XifE WORD or GOI>. 

that the same prbphet, having had his request granted hiiii; 
when God wrought a miracle, in raising the dead child to life., 
the woman of Zarephath confessed, that by this she knew that 
he xvas a man ofGod^ and that the word of the Lord^ in his 7nouth, 
ivas truths 1 Kings xvii. 21, — 24. And it is not denied by the 
Jews, the most irreconcileable enemies to Christianity, that 
what is related in the New Testament, concerning our Saviour's, 
and his apostles, working miracles, was true in iact ; but the 
only thing denied by them is, that this was a divine testimony, 
- or that they were wrought by the hand of God ) and therefore 
the common reproach which is cast on them js, that thej' were 
wrought by magic art^ as the Jews of old objected to our Sa- 
viour, that he cast out devils by Beelzebub^ the prince of the de- 
vils^ Matth. xii. 24. and his reply to them was unanswerable^ 
when he said, that this objection would argue Satan divided 
against hhnsef; intimating, tiiat he would never take such a 
method as this to overthrow the Christian religion, which he 
could not but know was more conducive to the establishment ol 
it, than any other that could be used. 

Object, \, But if it be objected, that though miracles were 
Avrought to confirm the mission of several of the prophets, yet 
none were wrought to confirm the divine authority of the sub- 
ject matter of the scriptures : 

Ansxv* To this it may be easily answered ;• that it is sufficient,^ 
if we can prove that God has given his testimony, that he made 
choice of those prophets to declare his mind and will to the 
world ; and that he has accordingly deemed them fit to be cre- 
dited, and that they were not men liable to any suspicion of 
carrying on a design to deceive the world; so that if God him- 
self not only styles them holy men, as he does all the inspired 
writers in general, when he says, 2 Pet. i.*21. Holy men of God 
■apake as they -were mvved by the Holy Ghost^ but also wrought 
miracles to prove that they were his servants and messengers,- 
employed in this v/orl: ; this is as convincmg a testimony, as- 
though every part of scripture wrote by them had been con- 
firmed by a miraele.' Besides, it is not uni'easonable to sup- 
pose, that the church lived in those ages, in which the various 
parts of scripture were written, had some eiitraordinary proofs 
of their divine authority ; since, in many of them, miracles were 
very common,.and, at the same time that the penmen of scrip- 
ture had the gift of inspiration, others had, what the apostle 
calls, a discerning of spirits^ 1 Cor. xii. 10. so that they were 
enabled,^ bv this means, to know whether the prophet, that pre- 
tended to inspiration, M^as really inspired : this, to me seems 
very probablv, the sense of the aposfle, when he says, 1 Cor. 
xiv. 32. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets ;■ 
, for he is discoursing before of prophets speaking by divine re- 



THE WORD OF GOD. ~ iJ5 

V elation, and others judging thereof: now if there was this ex- 
traordinary gift of discerning of spirits in the ages, in which 
particular books of scripture were written, they who were fa- 
voured herewith, had a convincing testimony of the inspiration 
/pf the prophets and aposdes, from the same Spirit hy whom 
they were inspired, by which means the divine authority of 
scripture was infalhbly known to them, and so imparted to 
others for their farther confirmation as to this matter. 

Object. 2. We are not now to expect miracles to confirm our 
faith, as to the divine original of scripture ; therefore how can 
we be said to have a divine testimony. 

Ansxu. As miracles are now ceased, so such a method of con- 
firming divine revelation is not necessary in all succeedin^j' 
ages : God did not design to make that dispensation too com- 
mon, nor to continue the e\ddence it affords, when there was 
no necessity thereof. Thus when the scribes and Pharisees 
came to our Saviour, desiring to see a sign from him. Matt. 
xii. 38. he would not comply with their unreasonable demand ; 
and the apostle Paul takes notice of humour prevailing among 
the Jews in his time, who then required a sign, 1 Cor. i. 22. 
but, instead of complying with them herein, he refers them to 
the success of the gospel, which is t/ie power of God to salvar 
iion, as the only testimony to the truth thereof that was then 
needful ; and our Saviour, in the parable, intimates, that the 
truth of divine revelation has been so well attested, that thei/ 
tvho believe not Moses and the prophets, xvoidd not be persuaded, 
though one rose from the dead, Luke xvi. 31. Therefore, since 
we have such a convincing evidence hereof, it is an uni-eason- 
ble degi-ee of obstinacy to refuse to believe the divine authority 
of scripture, merel}^ because miracles are not now wrought ; 
since, to demand a farther proof of it, is no other than a tempt- 
ing God, or disowning that what he has done is sufficient iox 
our conviction ; and to say, that for want of this evidence, our 
faith is not founded on a divine testijnony, is nothing to the pur- 
pose, unless it could be proved that it is not founded on such a 
testimony formerly given, the contrary to which is undeniably 
evident, since v\^e have this truth confirmed by the confession of 
the church in all the ages thereof, and therefore we have as 
much ground to believe this matter, as though miracles were 
wrought every day for its confirmation. This will farther ap- 
pear, if We consider the abundant ground we have to conclude 
that . God has formerly given such a testimony to his word ; 
which leads us to enquire how far the testimony of the chuixh, 
in all the ages thereof, is to be regarded. 

The church has gi^ en its suffrage, throughout all the agt^s 
thereof, to the divine original of scripture, how much soever it 
has perverted the sense of it. That this argument may be ;s.et 



116 THE WOilD OF GOD. 

in a true light, let us consider what the Papists Say to this rhSjt'' 
ter, when they appeal to the church, to estahlish the divine 
authority of scripture j and wherein we diffi^r from them ; and 
how far its testunony is to be regarded, as a means for our far- 
ther conviction. We are far from asserting, with them, that 
the church's testimony alone is to be regarded, without the in- 
ternal evidence of the divine authority of scripture, as though 
that were the principal, if not the only foundation on which our 
faith is built. If, indeed, they could prove the infallibility of 
the church, we should more readily conclude the infallibility of 
its testimony J but all their attempts of this nature are vain and 
trifling. 

Moreover, we d6 not niean altogether the same thing by the 
thurch as they do, when they intend by it a council convened 
together, to decree and establish matters of faith, by him whom 
"they pretend to be the visible head thereof; and so a majority of 
votes of a body of men, every one of whom are liable to error, 
.must determine, and, according to them, give a divine sanction 
to our faith. Nor do we think that those, whom they call the 
fathers of the church, are to be any faither regarded, than as 
they prove what they assert, since there is scarce any error or 
absurdity, but what some or other of them have given into. We 
also distinguish between the churches testimony, that the scrip- 
ture was given by divine inspii-ation, and the sense they give of 
many of its doctrines ; as to the latter of these, it has given us 
ground enough to conclude, that its judgment is not much to be 
depended upon ; however, we find that, in all ages, it has given 
sufficient testimony to this truth, that the scriptures are the 
word of God, and that they have been proved to be so, by the 
seal which God has set thereunto, to wit, by the miracles that 
have been wrought to confirm it. If therefore God has had a 
church in the world, or a remnant whom he has preserved faith- 
ful; and if their faith, and all their religion, and hope of salva- 
tion, has been founded, without the least exception, on this truth, 
that the scriptures are the word of God, we cannot altogether 
set aside this argument. But there is yet another, which we 
lay more stress on, namely, the use which God has made of it, 
which is the second thing to be considered, viz. 

2. His ordinary method of attesting this truth ; it appears 
therefore, as is farther observed in this answer, that the scrip- 
tures are the word of God, from their light and pov/er to con- 
vince and convert sinners, and to comfort and build up believers 
to salvation. Here let us consider, 

1. That the woi'k of conviction and conversion is, and has 
been at all times, experienced by those who have had any right 
or claim to salvation ; oi which there havt; not only been vari- 
ous instances, in all ages, but the very being of the church. 



THl VTOUD OF GOD. IIT 

which isupposcs and depends thereon, is an undeniable proof of 
it. 

2. As this work is truly divine, so the scriptures have been 
the principal, if not the only direct means, by which it has been 
brought about ; so that we have never had any other rule, or 
standard of faith, or revealed religion ; nor has the work of 
grace been ever begun, or carried on, in the souls of any, with- 
out it ; from whence it evidently appears, that God makts use 
of it to propagate and advance his interest in the world, and 
has given his church ground to expect his presence with it, in 
all his ordinances, in which they are obliged to pay a due regard 
to scripture ; and, in so doing, they have found that their ex- 
pectation has not been in vain, since God has, by this means, 
manifested himself to them, and made them partakers of spiri- 
tual privileges, which have been the beginning of their salva- 
tion. 

3. It cannot be supposed that God would make this use of 
his word, and thereby put such an honour upon it, had it been 
an imposture, or borne the specious pretence of being instamped 
with his authority, if it had not been so ; for that v/ould be to 
give countenance to a lie^ which is contraiy to the holiness of 
his nature. 

Thus we have considered the several arguments, whereby 
the scripture appears to be the word of God ; but since multi- 
tudes ai-e not convinced hereby, we have, in the close of this 
answer, an account of the means whereby Christians come to a 
full persuasion as to this matter, and that is the testimony of 
the Spirit in the heart of man, which is the next thing to be con- 
sidered. By this we do not understand that extraordinary im- 
pression which some of old have been favoured with, who are 
said to have been moved by the Holy Ghost, or to have had an 
extraordinary unction from the Holy One, whereby they were 
led into the knowledge of divine truths, in a way of supernatu- 
ral illumination. This we pretend not to, since exti-aordinan- 
gifts are ceased ; yet it does not follow from hence, that the 
Spirit does not now influence the minds of believers in an ordi- 
nary way, whereby they are led into, and their faith confirmed 
in idl necessary truths, and this in particular, that the scriptures 
arc the word of God ; for we may observe, that no privilege re- 
ferring to salvation, was ever taken away, but some other, sub^ 
servient to the same end, has been substituted in the room 
thereof; especially, unless a notorious forfeiture has been made 
of it, and the church, by apostacy, has excluded itself from an 
interest in the divine regard ; but this cannot be said of the gos- 
pel-church in all the ages thereof, since extraordinary gifts have 
ceased ; therefore we must conclude, that being destitute of that 
way, by which this truth was once confirmed, believers have, 



118 THE WORD Or GOD. 

instead of it, an inward conviction wrought by the Spirit ol 
God, agreeable to his present method of acting; otherwise this 
present gospel-dispensation is, in a very material circumstance, 
much inferior to that in which God discovered his mind and 
will to man in an extraordinary^ way. 

But that we may explain what we mean by this inward test!' 
mony of the Spirit in the hearts of men, whereby they are fully 
persuaded that the scriptures are the word of God, let it be con- 
sidered, 

(1.) That it is something more than barely a power, or fa- 
culty^ of reasoning, to prove the scriptures to be divine, since 
that is common to all ; but this is a special privilege, given to 
those who are hereby fully persuaded of this truth. Moreover, 
there may be a power of reasoning, and yet we may be mista- 
ken in the exercise thereof; and therefore this is not sufficient, 
fully to persuade us that they are the word of God, and conse- 
quently something more than this is intended in this answer. 

(2.) It is something short of inspiration j therefore, though 
the scripture was known to be the Avord of God, by the Spirit 
of inspiration, so long as that dispensation continued in the 
church, yet that privilege being now ceased, the internal testi- 
mony of the Spirit contains a lower degree of illumination, 
which has nothing miraculous attending it, and therefore falls 
short of inspiration. 

(3.) It is not an enthusiastic impulse, or strong impression 
upon our minds, whereby we conclude a thing to be true, be- 
cause we think it is so ; this we by no means allow of, since our 
own fancies are not the standard of truth, how strong soever 
our ideas of things may be ; therefore, 

(4.) This inward testimony of the Spirit contains in it a 
satisfying and establishing persuasion, that the scriptures are 
the word of God, not altogether destitute of other evidences, 
or convincing arguments : and that which is more especially 
convincing to weak Christians, is taken from the use which 
God makes of the scripture, in beginning and carrying on the 
work of grace in their souls, who are thus convinced ; and this 
firm persuasion we find sometimes so deeply rooted in their 
hearts, that they would sooner die ten thousand deaths than part 
with scripture, or entertain the least slight thought of it, as 
though it were not divine ; and certainly there is a special hand 
of God in this persuasion, which we can call no other than the 
inward testimon}^ of the Spirit, whereby they are established in 
this important truth. (a) 



(<i) This description of the Spirit's witness resembles sensible assurance; that 
there may I)e such an immediate suggestion, or impression is possible ; but the 
Spirit's witness is tlie image of God, and is of adoption. — Vide Edwiu'ds's Vvoiks, 
vol. 4. p. 161. 



The scriptures i^e(^uire FAitH and practice, li^ 



Quest. V. IVhat do the scriptures principally teach ? 

Answ. The scriptures principally teach, what man is to be- 
lieve concerning God, and what duty God requires of man. (a) 

HAVING, in the foregoing answer, proved the scriptures 
to be the word of God, there is in this a general account 
of the contents thereof; there are man}- great doctrines con- 
tained therein, all which may be reduced to two heads, to wit, 
what we are to believe, and what we are to do. All religion 
is contained in these two things, and so we may apply the words 
of the apostle to this case, Noru of the things which we have 
spoken this is the siim^ Heb. viii. 1. and accordingl}^, as this 
Catechism is deduced from scripture, it contains two parts, viz> 
what we are to believe, and in what instances we are to yield 
obedience to the law of God. And that the scriptures princi- 
pallv teach these two things, appears from the apostle's advice 
lo Timothy, Holdfast the form of sound words^ which thou hast 
heardof me^ in faith and love ^ 2 Tim. i. 13. 

From the scriptures' principally teaching us matters of faith 
and practice, we infer, that faith without works is dead; or that 
he is not a true Christian M^ho yields an assent to divine reve- 
lation, without a practical subjection to God, in all ways of 
holy obedience, as the apostle observes, and gives a challenge, 
to this effect, to those who separate faith from works ; Shezu 7ne 
thy faith without thy works^ and I will shew thee viy faith by 
my works, James ii. 17, 18. and, on the other hand, works 
without faith are unacceptable. A blind obedience, or igno- 
rant performance of some of the external parts of religion, 
without the knowledge of divine truth, is no betfer than what 
the apostle calls bodily exercise which profteth little, 1 Tim. iv.- 
18. therefore we ought to examine ourselves, whether our faith 
be founded on, or truly deduced from scripture ? and whether 
it be a practical faith, or, as the apostle says, such as xvorketh by 
love ? Gal. v. 6. whether we grow in knowledge, as well as in 
zeal and diligence, in performing many duties of religion, if we 
would approve ourselves sincere Christians ? 

Quest. VI. What do the scriptures make known of God? 

Answ. The scriptures make known what God is, the persons 
in the Godhead, the decrees, and the execution of his decrees. 

IT is an amazing instance of condescension, and an inexpres- 
sible favour which God bestows on man, that he should 
manifest himself to him, and that not only in such a way as he 
does to all mankind, by the light of nature, which discovers 

((/) Wliat \vc ai-c to believe reaches to Qu. 91. the rest is of practice. 



120 • , THE PERFECTIONS OF GQD. 

that he is ; but that he should, in so glorious a way, declare 
what he is, as he does in his word : this is a distinguishing pri- 
vilege, as the Psalmist observes, when speaking of God's shexv- 
ing his xvord unto Jacob^ his statutes and his judgments unto 
Israel^ Psal. cxlvii. he mentions it, as an instance of discrimi- 
nating grace, in that he has not dealt so xvith any other Jiation. 
This raised the admiration of one of Christ's disciples, when he 
said, Lord how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to usy and not 
unto the rvorld! John xiv. 22. And it is still more wonder- 
ful, that he should discover to man what he does, or rather 
what he has decreed or purposed to do, and so should impart 
his secrets to him ,* how familiarly does God herein deal v.dth 
man ! Thus he says concerning the holy patriaixh of old, Shall 
I, hide from Abraham the thing xvhich I do ? Gen. xvi. 17. 
However, it is one thing to know the secret pui-poses of God^ 
and another thing to know the various properties thereof,* the 
former of these, however knovvn of old, by extraordinary inti- 
mation, are now known to us only by the execution of them ; 
the latter is what we may attain to the knowledge of, by study- 
ing the scriptures. 

Now as the scriptures make known. Firsts What God is ; 
Secondly^ "^he. persons in the Godhead ; Thirdly^ His decrees ; 
And Fourthly^ The execution thereof; so we are directed 
hereby in the method to be observed in treating of the great 
doctrines of our religion ; and accordingly the first part of this 
Catechism,(a) which treats of doctrinal subjects, contains an en- 
largement on these four general heads j the first whereof we 
proceed to consider^ 

Quest. VII. What is God? 

Answ. God is a Spirit, in and of himself, infinite in being, 
glory, blessedness, and perfection, all-sufficient, eternal, un- 
changeable, incomprehensible, every where present, almighty, 
knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most 
merciful, and gracious, longrsufFering, and abundant in good- 
ness and truth. 

BEFORE we proceed to consider the divine perfections, as 
contained in this answer, let it be premised, 
1. That it is impossible for any one to give a perfect de- 
scription of God, since he is incomprehensible, thei-efore no 
words can fully express, or set forth, his perfections ; when the 
wisest men on earth speak of him, they soon betray their own 
weakness, or discover, as Elihu says, that they cannot order 
their speech by reason of darkness^ Job xxxviii. 19. or, that 
they are but of yesterday^ and knoxv^ comparatively, nothings 

(a) Thut is unto the yist Quest. 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 121 

chap. viii. 9. We are but like children, talking of matters 
above them, which their tender age can take in but little of, 
when we speak of the infinite perfections of the divine nature; 
This biowledge is too wonderful for ns ; it is high^ xve cannot 
attain to it^ Psal. cxxxix. G. Hocv little a portion is heard of 
him ? Job. xxvi. 14. 

2. Though God caimot be perfectly described ; yet there is 
something of him that we may know, and ought to make the 
matter of our study and diligent enquiries. When his glory is 
set forth in scripture, we are not to look upon the expressions 
there made use of, as words without any manner of ideas af- 
fixed to them ; for it is one thing to have adequate ideas of an 
infinitely perfect being, and another thing to have no ideas at 
all of him ; neither are our ideas of God to be reckoned, for 
this reason, altogether false, though they are imperfect; for it is 
one thing to think of him in an unbecoming way, not agreeable 
to his perfections, or to attribute the weakness and imperfection 
to him which do not belong to his nature, and another thing to 
think of him, with the highest and best conceptions we are able 
to entertain of his infinite perfections, while, at the same time, 
we have a due sense of our own weakness, and the shallowness 
of our capacities. When we thus order our thoughts concern- 
ing the great God, though we are far from comprehending his 
infinite perfections, yet our conceptions a^enotto be concluded 
erroneous, when directed by his word ; which leads us to con- 
sider how we may conceive aright of the divine perfections, 
that we may not think or speak of God, that which is not right, 
though at best we know but little of his glory ; and in order 
thereunto, 

(1.) We must first take an est!mate of finite perfections, 
which we have some ideas of, though not perfect ones in all re- 
spects ; such as power, wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, ^c. 

(2.) Then we must conceive that these are eminently, though 
not formally in God ; that is, there is no perfection in the crea- 
ture, but we must ascribe the same to God, though not in the 
same way ; or thus, whatever perfection is in the creature, the 
same is in God, and infinitely more ; or it is in God, but not in 
such a finite, limited, or imperfect wav, as it is in the creature ; 
He that planted the ear^ shall he not hear f He that formed the 
eye^ shall not he see P He that teadieth man knoxvled^-e^ shall he 
not know f Psal. xciv. 9, 10. Therefore, 

(3.) When the same words are used that import a perfec- 
tion in God, and in the creature, viz. wisdom, power, ^c. we 
must not suppose that these words import the same thing in 
their different application ; for when they are applied to the 
creature, though we call them perfections, yet the)- are, at best, 
but finite, and have manv imperfections attending them, all 

Vol. I. Q 



i^U- "illE PERFECTIONS Of GOD. 

■which we must separate or abstract in our thoughts, when th€ 
same words are used to set forth any divine perfection : thus 
knowledge is a perfection of the human nature, and the same 
word is used to denote a divine perfection ; yet we must con- 
sider, at the same time, that the Lord seet.h not as man seeth^ 
1 Sam. xvi. 7. The same may be said of all his other perfec- 
tions ; he worketh not as man worketh ; -whatever perfections 
are ascribed to the creature, they are to be considered as agree- 
able to the subject in which they are ; so when the same words' 
ure used to set forth any of the divine perfections, they are to 
be understood in a way becoming a God of infinite perfection. 
This has given occasion to divines to distinguish the per- 
fections of God, into those that are communicable, and incom- 
municable. 

1. The communicable perfections of God are such, where 
tif we find some faint resemblance in intelligent creatures, 
though, at the same time, there is an infinite disproportion ; as 
Avhen we speak of God as holy, wise, just, powerful, or faith- 
ful, we find something like these perfections in the creature, 
though we are not to suppose them, in all respects, the same as 
they are in God ; they are in him, in his own, that is, an infi- 
nite way ; they are in us, in our own, that is, a finite and limit- 
ed way. 

2. The incommunicable perfections of God are such, of 
which there is not the least shadow, or similitude in creatures, 
but they rather represent him as opposed to them. Thus when 
we speak of him as infinite, incomprehensible, unchangeable, 
without beginning, independent,^ <3'c. these perfections contain 
in them an account of the vast distance that there is between 
God and the creature^ or ^ow infinitely he exceeds all other 
beings, and is opposed to every thing that argues imperfection 
in them. 

From this general account we have given of the divine per- 
fections, v/e may infer, 

1. Tliat there is nothing common between God and the crea- 
ture ; that is, there is nothing which belongs to the divine na- 
ture that can be attributed to the creature ; and nothing pro- 
per to the creature is to be applied to God : yet there are some 
rays of the divine g^or}', which may be beheld as shining forth, 
or displayed in the creature, especially in the intelligent part of 
the creation, angels and men, who are, for that reason, repre- 
sented as made after the divine image. 

2. Let us never think or speak of the divine perfections but 
Avith the highest reverence, lest we take his name in vain, or 
debase him in our thoughts ; Shall nrA his excellency make yoii 
a^raid^ and his dread fall upon you? Job xiii. 11. And when- 
ever we compare God with the creatures, viz. angels and men, 
that bear somewhat of his image, let us, at the same time, ab- 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 123 

stract in our thoughts, all their imperfections, whether natural 
or moral, from him, and consider tlie infinite disproportion that 
J here is between him and them. We now come to consider the 
perfections of the divine nature, in the order in which they are 
laid down in this answer. 

I. God is a Spirit ; that is, an immaterial substance, with- 
out body or bodily parts ; this he is said to be in John iv. 24^ 
But if it be enquired what we mean by a Spirit, let it be pre- 
mised, that we cannot fuily understand what our own spirits, 
or souls are ; we know less of the nature of angels, a higher 
kind of spirits, and least of all of the spirituality of the divine 
natul-e ; however, our ideas first begin at what is finite, in con- 
sidering the nature and properties of spirits ; and Irom thence 
we are led to conceive of God as infinitely more perfect than 
any finite spirit. Here we shall consider the word spirit, as ap- 
plied more especially to angels, and the souls of men; and let 
it be observed, 

1. That a spirit is the most perfect and excellent being ; the 
soul is more excellent than the body, or indeed than any thing 
that is purelv material ; so angels are the most perfect and glo- 
rious part of the creation, as they are spiritual beings, in some 
things excelling the souls of men. 

2. A spirit is, in its own nature, immortal ; it has nothing in 
its frame and constitution that tends to corruption, as there is 
in material things, which consist of various parts, that may be 
dissolved or separated, and their form altered, which is what 
we call corruption ; but this belongs not to spirits, which are 
liable to no change in their nature, but by the immediate hand 
of God, who can, if he pleases, reduce them again to their first 
nothing. 

3. A spirit is capable of understanding, and willing, and put- 
ting forth actions agreeable thereunto, which no other being 
can do : thus, though the sun is a glorious and useful being ; 
yet, because it is material, it is not capable of thought, or any 
moral action, such as angels, and the souls of men, can put iorth. 

Now these conceptions of the nature and properties of finite 
spirits, lead us to conceive of God as a spirit. And, 

(1.) As spirits excel all other creatures, we must conclude 
God to be the most excellent and perfect of all beings, and also 
that he is incorruptible^ immortal^ and invisible^ as he is said to 
be in scripture, Rom. i. 23. and 1 Tim. i. 17. 

Moreover, it follows from hence, that he has an understand- 
ing and will, and so we may conceive of him as the Creator and 
governor of all things ; this he could not be, if he were not an 
intelligent and sovereign being, and particularly a spirit, {a) 

(2.) The difference between other spiritual substances and 



'■.?) His i<lea'( ai'enot the f fleets, but causes of things. Vide post \t. 1^4; 125. 



124 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

God, is, that all their excellency is only comparative, viz. as 
they excel the best of all material beings in their nature and 
properties ; but God, as a spirit, is infinitely more excellent, not 
only than all material beings, but than all created spirits. Their 
perfections arc derived from him, and therefore he is called, 
The Father of spirits^ Heb. xii. 9. and the God of the spirits 
of all Jiesh^ Numb. xvi. 22. and his perfections are underived: 
other spirits are, as we have observed, in their own nature, im- 
mortal, yet God can reduce them to nothing ; but God is in- 
dependently immortal, and therefore it is said of him, that he 
only hath immortality^ 1 Tim. vi. 16. 

Finite spirits, indeed, have understanding and will, but these 
powers are contained within certain limits Avhereas God is an 
infinite spirit, and therefore it can be said of none but him, that 
his understanding is infinite^ Psal. cxlvii. 5. 

From God's being a spirit, we may infer, 

1. That he is the most suitable good to the nature of our 
souls, which are spirits ; he can communicate himself, and ap- 
ply those things to them, which tend to make them happv, as 
the God and Father of spirits. 

2. He is to be worshipped in a spiritual manner, John iv. 
24. that is, with our whole souls, and in a way becoming his 
spiritual nature ; therefore, 

3. We are to frame no similitude or resemblance of him in 
our thoughts, as though he were a corporeal or material being; 
neither are we to make any pictures of him. This God forbids 
Israel to do, Deut. iv. 12, 15, 16. and tells them, that they ha^ 
not the least pretence for so doing, inasmuch as they saxv no 
similitude of him^ when he spake to them in Horeb ; and to make 
an image of him would be to corrupt \ them selves. 

II. God is said to be in, and of, himself, not as though he 
gave being to, or was the cause of himself, for that implies a 
contradiction ; therefore divines generally say, that God is in, 
and of himself, not positively, but negatively, that is, his being 
and perfections are underived, and not communicated to him, 
as all finite perfections are, by him, to the creature ; therefore 
he is self-existent, or independent, which is one of the highest 
glories of the divine nature, by which he is distinguished from 
all creatures, who live, move, and have their being in and from 
him. 

This attribute of independency belongs to all his perfections ; 
thus his Avisdom, power, goodness, holiness, 8?c. are all inde- 
pendent. And, 

1. With respect to his knowledge or wisdom, he doth not 
receive ideas from any object out of himself, as all intelligent 
creatures do, and, in that respect, are said to depend on the 
object; so that if there were not such objects, they could not 



THE PERTECTIONS OF GOD. 125 

have the knowledge or idea of them in their minds ; therefore 
the object known must first exist, before we can apprehend 
what it IS. But this must not be said of God's knowledge, for 
that would be to suppose the things that he knows antecedent 
to his knowing them. The independency of his knowledge is 
elegantly described in scripture ; Who hath directed the Spirit 
of the Lord^ or^ being his counsellor^ has taught him ? With 
whom took he counsel^ and tvho instructed him., and taught him 
in the path of judgment., and taught him knoxvledge^ and shewed 
to him the way oj understanding f Isa. xl. 13, 14. 

2. He is independent in power, therefore as he receives 
strength from no one, so he doth not act dependently on the 
will of the creature ; Who hath enjoined him his way ; Job 
xxxvi. 23. and accordingly, as he received the power of acting 
from no one, so none can hinder, turn aside, or controul his 
power, or put a stop to his methods of acting. 

3. He is independent as to his holiness, hating sin necessa- 
rily, and not barely depending on some reasons out of himself, 
which induce him thereunto ; for it is essential to the divine 
nature to be infinitely opposite to all sin, and therefore to be 
independently holy. 

4. He is independent as to his bounty and goodness, and so 
he communicates blessings not by constraint, but according to 
his sovereig-n will. Thus he gave being to the Avorld, and all 
things therein, which was the first instance of bounty and good- 
ness, and a very great one it was, not by constraint, but by his 
free will, y^r his pleasure they are and were created. In like 
manner, whatever instances of mercy he extends to miserable 
creatures, he still acts independently, in the display thereof ; 
nothing out of himself moves or lays a constraint upon him, 
but he shews mercy because it is his pleasure so to do. 

But, to evince the truth of this doctrine, that God is inde- 
pendent as to his being, and all his perfections, let it be farther 
considered, 

(1.) That all things depend on his power, which brought 
them into, and preserves them in being; therefore they exivSt 
by his will, as their creator and preserver, and consequently 
are not necessary, but dependent beings. If therefore all things 
depend on God, it is the greatest absurdity to say that God 
depends on any thing, for this would be to suppose the cause 
and the effect to be mutually dependent on, and derived from 
each otber, which infers a contradiction. 

(2.) It God be infinitely above the highest creatures, he can- 
not depend on any of them ; for dependence argues inferiority. 
Now that God is above all things is certain : this is represented 
in a very beautiful manner by the prophet, when he says, Isa, 
xl. 15, 17. Behold the nations arc as the drop of th" bucket^ 



126 THE PiRrECTIONS Of GOB. 

and are counted as the small dust of the balance ; all nations be- 
fore him are as nothings and they are counted to him less than 
nothing and vanity ; therefore he cannot be said to be inferior 
to them, and, by consequence, to depend on them. 

(3.) If God depends on any creature, he does not exist ne- 
cessarily : and if so, then he might not have been ; for the same 
will, by which he is supposed to exist, might have determined 
that he should not have existed. If therefore God be not in- 
dependent, he might not have been, and, according to the same 
method of reasoning, he might cease to be ; for the same will, 
that gave being to him, might take it away at pleasure, which 
is altogether inconsistent with the idea of a God. 

From God's being independent, or in and of himself, we 
infer, 

1. That we ought to conclude that the creature cannot lay 
; any obligation on him, or do any thing that may tend to make 

him more happy than he is in himself; the apostle gives a chal- 
lenge to this effect, Who hath first given to him^ and it shall be 
recompensed unto him again^ Rom. xi. Z5. and Eliphaz says to 
Job, Job xxii. 2, 3. Can a man be profitable to God^ as he that 
is zvise may be prof table unto himself P Is it any pleasure to 
the Almighty^ that thou aj-t righteous ? or is it gain to hitn, 
that thou makest thy rvays perfect ? 

2. If independency be a divine perfection, then let it not, in 
any instance, or by any consequence, be attributed to the crea- 
ture ; let us conclude, that all our springs are in him, and that 
all we enjoy and hope for is from him, who is the author and 
finisher of our faith, and the fountain of all our blessedness. 

III. God is infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfec- 
tion. To be infinite, is to be without all bounds or limits, either 
actual or possible : now that God is so, is evident, from his be- 
ing independent and uncreated ; and because his will fixes the 
bounds of all the excellencies, perfections, and powers of the 
creature. If therefore he doth not exist by the will of another, 
he is infinite in being, and consequently in all perfection : thus 
it is said, Psal. cxlvii. 5. his understanding is infnite^ which 
will farther appear, when we consider him as omniscient ; his 
will determines what shall come to pass, with an infinite so- 
vereignty, that cannot be controuled, or rendered ineffectual j 
his power is infinite, and therefore all things are equally possi- 
ble, and easy to it, nor can it be resisted by any contrary force 
or power ; and he is infinite in blessedness, as being self-suffi- 
cient, or not standing in need of any thing to make him more 
happy than he was in himself, from all eternity. The Psalmist 
is supposed by many, to speak in the person of Christ, when 
he says, Psal. xvi. 2. My goodness extendeth not to thee^ q. d. 
" Ho^v' much soever thy relative glory may be illustrated, bv 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 127 

'• what I have engaged to perform in the covenant of redemp- 
" tion, yet this can make no addition to thine essential glory." 
And if so, then certainly nothing can be done by us which ma}' 
in the least contribute thereunto. 

IV. God is all-sufficient, by which we understand that he 
hath enough in himself to satisfy the most enlarged desires of 
his creatures, and to make them completely blessed. As his 
self-sufficiency is that whereby he has enough in himself to de- 
nominate him completely blessed, as a God of infinite perfec- 
tion ; so his all-sufficiency is that, whereby he is able to com- 
municate as much blessedness to his creatures, as he is pleased 
to make them capable of receiving ; and therefore he is able not 
only to supply all their xvants, but to do exceedingly above all that 
they ask or think^ Phil. iv. 19. and Eph. iii. 20. This he can 
do, either in an immediate way ; or, if he thinks fit to make 
use of creatures as instruments, to fulfil his pleasure, and com- 
municate what he designs to impart to us, he is never at a loss ; 
for as they they are the work of his hands, so he has a right to 
use them at his will ; upon which account, they are said, all of 
them to be his servants, Psal. cxix. 91. 

This doctrine of God's all-sufficiency should be improved by 
us, 

1. To induce us to seek happiness in him alone: creatures 
are no more than the stream, but he is the fountain ; we ma}', 
in a mediate. Way, receive some small drops from them, but he 
is the ocean, of all blessedness. 

2. Let us take heed that we do not reflect on, or in effect, 
deny this perfection ; which we may be said to do in various 
instances. As, 

(1.) When we are discontented with our present condition, 
and desire more than God has allotted for us. This seems to 
have been the sin of the angels, who left their first habitation 
through pride, seeking more than God designed they should 
have ; and this was the sin by which our first parents fell, de- 
siring a greater degree of knowledge than what they thought 
themselves possessed of: thus they fancied, that by eating the 
forbidden fruit, they should be as gods^ hioxving good and evi/^ 
Gen. -^ii. 5. 

(2.) We practically deny the all-sufficiency of God, when we 
seek blessings of what kind soever they are, in an indirect way, 
as though God were not able to bestOAV them upon us in his 
own way, or in the use of lawful means : thus Rebecca and Ja- 
cob did, when they contrived a lie to obtain the blessing, chap, 
xxvii. as though there had not been an all-sufficiency in provi- 
dence to bring it about, without their having recourse to those 
methods that \vere in themselves sinful. 

(3.) When we use unlawful means to escape imminent dangers. 



128 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

Thus David did wAe?i he feigned himself viad^ supposing, with- 
out ground, that he should have been slain by Achish, king ol 
■ Gath ; and that there was no other way to escape but this, 1 
Sam. xxi. 13. and Abraham and Isaac, Gen. chapters xx. and 
xxvi. when they denied their wives, concluding this to have 
been an expedient to save their lives, as though God were not 
able to save them in a better and more honourable way. 

(4.) When we distrust his providence, though we have had 
large experience of its appearing for us in various instances : 
thus David did, when he said, in his heart, / shall one day pe- 
rish hij the hand of Saul ^ 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. and the Israelites, 
when thev said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness 7 
Psai. ixxviii. 19. though he had provided for them in an extra- 
ordinary way ever since thej^ had been there : yea, Moses him- 
self was faulty in this matter, when he said, Whence should I 
have flesh to give unto all this people ? I am not able to bear all 
this people alone ^ because it is too heavy for me, Numb. xi. 13, 
14. and Asa, when he tempted Benhadad to break his league 
with Baasha, v/ho made war against him ; as though God were 
not able to deliver him without this indirect practice, though 
he had in an eminent manner, appeared for him, in giving him 
a signal victory over Zerah the Ethiopian, when he came 
against him with an army of a million of men, 2 Chron. xvi. 
3. compared with chap. xiv. 9, 13. and likewise Joshua, when 
Israel had suffered a small defeat, occasioned by Achan's sin, 
when they fled before the men of Ai, though there were but 
thirty-six of them slain ; yet, on that occasion, he is ready to 
wish that God had not brought them over Jordan, and medi- 
tates nothing but ruin and destruction from the Amorites, for- 
getting God's former deliverances, and distrusting his faithful- 
ness, and care of his people, and, as it were, calling in question 
his all-sufficiency, as though he were not able to accomplish the 
promises he had made to them. Josh. vii. 7, 8, 9. 

(5.) When we doubt of the truth, or certain accomplishment 
of his promises, and so are ready to say, ffath God for gotten to 
he gracious ? Doth his truth fail for ever f This we ai-e apt to 
do, when there are great difficulties in the way of the accom- 
plishment thereof: thus Sarah, when it was told her that she 
should have a child, in her old age, laughed, through unbelief. 
Gen. xviii. 12. and God intimates, that this was an affront to his 
uU-sufficiency, when he says. Is any thing too hard \f or the 
Lord? ver. 14. and Gideon, though he was told that God was 
with him, and had an express command to go in his might, 
with a promise that he should deliver Israel from the Midian- 
ites, yet he says, Lord wherewith shall I save them ? for my 
family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in vtyfather\- 
house, Judg. vi. 15. God tells him again, / will be xvith thee. 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 129 

and smite the Midianites^ ver. 1 6. yet, afterwards, he desires 
that he would give him a sign in the wet and dry fleece. What 
is this but qutstioning his all-sufFiciency ? 

(6.) When we decline great services, though called to them 
by God, under pretence of our unfitness for them : thus when 
the prophet Jeremiah was called to deliver the Lord's message 
to the rebelhous house of Israel, he desires to be excused, and 
s-xs'i.^ Behold I cannot sptak^for I am a child; whereas the main 
discouragement was the difficulty of the work, and the hazards 
he was like to run ; but God encourages him to it, by putting 
him in mind of his all-sufficiency, when he tells him, that he 
•would be -with him^ and deliver him., Jer. i. 6. compared with 
ver. 8. 

This divine perfection affords matter of support and encou- 
ragement to believers, under the greatest straits and difficulties 
they are exposed to in this world ; and we have many instances 
in scripture of those who have had recourse to it in the like ca- 
ses. Thus, when David was in the greatest straits that ever he 
met with, lipon the Amalekites' spoiling of Ziklag, and carrying 
away the women captives, the peoj)le talked of stoning him, and 
all things seemed to make against him ; yet it is said, that he 
encouraged himself in the Lord his Gody 1 Sam. xxx. 6. so Mor- 
decai was confident that the enlargement and deliverance of the 
ycTvs shoidd come some other way., if not by Estlier's interces- 
sion for them, when she was afraid to go in to the king, Esth. 
iv. 14. and this confidence he could never have obtained^ con- 
sidering the present posture of their affairs, without a due re- 
gard to God's all-sufficiency. 3Ioreover, it was this divine 
perfection that encouraged Abraham to obey the difficult com- 
mand of offering his son : as the apostle observes, he did this as 
knowing that God was able to raise him from the dead., Heb. xi. 
19. and when believers are under the greatest distress, from 
the assaults of their spiritual enemies, they have a warrant from 
God, as the apostle had, to encourage themselves, that they 
shall come off victorious, because his grace is sujfficient for 
them., 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9. 

V. God is eternal : this respects his duration, to wit, as he 
was widiout beginning, as well as shall be without end; or as 
his duration is unchangeable, or without succession, the same 
from everlasting to everlasting : thus the Psalmist sa}'S, Before 
the mountains were brought forth., or ever thou hadst formed the 
earth and the world ; eveii from everlasting to everlasting thou 
art God., Psal. xc. 2. 

1. That God is from everlasting, appears, 

(1.) From his being a necessary, s<. If-existent being, or, as 
was before observed, in and of himself, therefore he must be 
from everlasting; for whatever is not produced is from eternitv. 

Vol,. I. R 



130 THE PEAFECTIONS 0? GdD. 

Now that God did not derive his being from any one, is eVi* 
dent, because he gave being to ali things, which is impUed in 
their being creatures ; thcrelore nothing gave being to him, and 
consequently he was from eteniity. 

(2.) If he is an infinitely perfect being, as has been observed 
before, then his duration is infinitely perfect, and consequently 
it is boundless, that is to say, eternal ; it is an imperfection, in 
I all created beings, that they began to exist, and tlierefore they 
are said, in a comparative sense, to be but of yesterday; we 
must therefore, when we conceive of God, separate this imper* 
fection from him, and so conclude that he was from all eter- 
nity. 

(3.) If he created all things in the beginning, then he was 
before the beginning of time, that is, from eternity : thus it is 
said, In the beginning- God created the heaven and the earthy Gen- 
i. 1.' this is very evident, for time is a successive duration, ta- 
king its rise from a certain point, or moment, which we call the 
begmning : now that duration, which was before this, must be 
from eternity, unless we suppose time before time began, or, 
which is all one, that there was a successive duration before 
successive duration began, which is a coniradiction. There- 
fore, if God fixed that beginning to all things, as their Creator, 
and particularly to time, which is the measure of the duration 
of ail created beings, tl«^n it is evident that he was before time, 
and consequently from eternity. 

(4.) This also appears from scripture / as when it is said. 
The eternal God is thy refuge^ and underneath are the everlast- 
ing arms^ Deut. xxxiii. 27. and when we read of his eternal 
pozver and Godhead^ Rom. i. 20. and elsewhere. Art not thou 
from everlastings Lord^ my God? Hab. i. 12. Thy throne is 
established of old ; thou aft from everlastings Psal. xciii. 2. so 
his attributes and perfections are said to have been from ever- 
lasting. The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlast-' 
ings Fsal. ciii. 17. 

And this may be argued from many scripture-consequences : 
thus, there was an election of persons to holint s and happi- 
ness, before the foundation of the xvorld^ Eph. i. 4. and Christ, 
in particular, was fore-ordained to be our Mediator, before the 
foundation of the world, 1 Pet. i. 20. and set up from everlast- 
ings from the begimiings or ever the earth was, Prov. viii. 23. 
From hence it follows, that there was a sovereign will that fore- 
ordained it, and therefore God, whose decree or purpose it 
was, existed before the foundation of the world, that is, from 
everlasting. 

P^^oreover, there were grants of grace given in Christ, or put 
into his hand, from all eternity : thus we read of eternal life, 
rvhich God promised before the xvorld began^ Tit. i. 2. and of our 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 131 

Ueing "saved^ according- to his purpose and grace^ given us iri 
Christ Jesus^ before the xvorld began^ 2 Tim. i. 9. It hence 
follows, that there was an eternal giver, and consequently that 
God was from everlasting. 

2. God shall be to everlasting ; thus it is said, The Lord 
shall endure forever^ Psai. ix. 7. and that he livethfor ever and 
ever^ Rev. iv. 9, 10. and that his i/ears shall have no end, Psal. 
cii. 27. and the Lord shall reign for ever^ Psal. cxlvi. 10. there- 
fore he must endure for ever. Again, it is said, that the Lord 
keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him, to a thou- 
sand generations, Deut. vii. 9. and he rvill ever be mindful of 
his covenant, Psal. cxi. 5. that is, will fulfil what he has promi- 
sed therein : if his truth shall not fail for ever, then he, who 
will accomplish what he has spoken, must endure to everlast-r 
ing. 

But this may be farther evinced from the perfections of his 
nature. 

(1.) From his necessary existence, which not only argues, as 
has been before observed, that he could not begin to be, but 
equally proves, that he cannot cease to be, or that he shall be 
to everlasting. 

(2.) He is void of all composition, and therefore must be to 
everlasting ; none but compounded beings, viz, such as have 
parts, are subject to dissolution, which arises from the contra- 
riety of these parts, and their tendency to destroy one another, 
which occasions the dissolution of the whole ; but God having 
no parts, as he is the most simple uncompounded being, there 
can be nothing jn him that tends to dissolution, therefore he 
can never have an end from any necessity of nature. And, 

(3.) He must be to eternity, because there is no one superior 
to him, at whose will he exists, that can deprive him of his 
being and glory. 

(4.) He cannot will his own destruction, or non-existence, 
for that is contrary to the universal nature of things ; since no 
being can desire to be less perfect than it is, much less can any 
one will or desire his own annihilation ', especialK' no one, who 
is possessed of blessedness, can will the loss thereof, for that is 
incongruous with the nature of it, as being a desirable good, 
therefore God cannot will the loss of his o\vn blessedness ; and 
since his blessedness is inseparably connected with his being, he 
cannot cease to be, from an act of his own will : if therefore he 
cannot cease to be, from any necessit)^ of nature, or from the 
will of another, or from an act of his own will, he must be to 
eternity. 

Moreover, the eternity of God may be proved from liis other 
perfections^ since one of the divine perfections infers the other. 
As, 



1^2 - THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

1. From his immutability; he is unchangeable in his being, 
therefore he is so in all his perfections, and consequentiy must 
be always the same, from everlasting to everlasting, and not 
proceed from a state of non-existence to that of being, which he 
would have done, had he not been from everlasting, nor decline 
from a state of being to that of non-existence, which he would 
be supposed to do, were he not to everlasting : either of these 
is the greatest change that can be supposed, and therefore in- 
consistent with the divine immutability. 

2. He is the first cause, and the ultimate end of all things, 
therefore he must be from eternitj^, and remain the fountain of 
all blessedness to eternity. 

3. He could not be almighty, or infinite in power, if he were 
not eternal; for that being, which did not always exist, once 
could not act, to wit, when it did not exist ; or he that may 
cease to be, may, for the same reason, be disabled from acting ; 
both which are inconsistent with Almighty power. 

4. If he were not eternal, he could not, by way of eminency 
be called the living God^ as he is, Jer. x. 10. or said to have life 
in himself John v, 26. for both these expressions imply his ne- 
cessary existence, and that argues his eternity. 

3. God's eternal duration is without succession, as well as 
without beginning and end, that it is so, appears, 

(1.) Because, as was hinted but now, it is unchangeable, 
since all successive duration infers a change. Thus the dura- 
tion of creatures, which is successive, is not the sam.e one mo- 
ment as it will be the next ; every moment adds something to 
it ; now this cannot be said of God's duration. Besides, suc- 
cessive duration implies a being, what we were not, in all re- 
spects before, and a ceasing to be what we were, and so it is a 
kind of continual passing from not being to being, which is in- 
consistent with the divine perfections, and, in particular, with 
his unchangeable duration. The Psalmist, speaking of God's 
eternal duration, expresses it by the immutability thereof. Thou 
art the same^ and thy years shall have no end^ Psal. cii. 27. ; 
and the apostle, speaking concerning this matter, says. He is 
the same yesterday^ to day^ and forever^ Heb. xiii. 8. 

(2.) Successive duration is applicable to time ; and the dura- 
tion of all creatures is measured, and therefore cannot be term- 
ed infinite ; it is measured by its successive parts : thus a day, a 
year, an age, a million of ages, are measured by the number of 
moments, of which they consist ; but God's duration is un- 
measured, that is, infinite, therefore it is without succession, or 
without thgse parts of which time consists. (a) 

4. Eternity is an attribute peculiar to God, and therefore we 
call it an incommunicable perfection. There are, indeed, other 



{a) There is not succession in His ideas, but he exists m every point of time. 



THE PERFECTIOKS OF'GOD. 133 

things that shall endure to everlasting, as angels, and the souls 
of men ; as also those heavenly bodies that shaii remain after the 
ci-eature is delivered from the bondage of corruption, to which 
it is now subject : the heavenly places, designed for the seat of 

^the blessed, as well as thtir happy inhabitants, shdl be everlast- 
ing ; but yet the everlasting duration of these things infinitely 
differs from the eternity of God ; for as all finite things began 
to be, and their duration is successive, so their everlasting exis- 
tence depends entirely on the pov/er and will ol God, and vhere- 
fore cannot be called necessary , or independent, as his eternal 
existence is. 

- Object. Since the various parts of time, as days, years, ^c* 
and the various changes, or flux of time ; such as past, present, 
and to come, are sometimes attributed to God ; this seems in- 
consistent with the account that has been given of his eternity. 
Answ, It is true, we often find such expressions used in scrip- 
ture : thus he is called, the ancient of dajs, Dan. vii. 9. and his 
eternity is expressed, by his ymrs having no end, Psal. cii. 27. 
and it is said. He was, i.f, ajic/ is to come. Rev. i. 4. and chap, 
iv. 8. But, for the understanding of such-like expressions, we 
must consider, that herein God is pleased to speak according to 
our weak capacity, who cannot comprehend the manner of his 
infinite duration ; we cannot conceive of any duration but that 
which is successive ; therefore God speaks to us, as he does in 
many other instances, in condescension to our capacities ; but 
yet we may observe, that though he thus condescends to speak 
concerning himself, yet there is oftentimes something added, 
which distinguishes his duration from that of creatures; as 
when it is said, Behold God is great, and xue know him not ; 
neither can the number of his years be searched out. Job xxxvi. 
26. so that though we read of the years of his diiratioii, yet they 
are such as are unsearchable, or incomprehensible years, infi- 
nitely different from years, as applied to created beings ; and it 
is said, A thousand years in thij sight, are but as yesterday^ 
ivhen it is past, Psal. xc. 4. One day is xvith the Lord as a thou^ 
sand years, and a thousand years as one day, 2 Pet. iii. 8. and, 
by the same method of reasoning, it may be said, one moment 
is with the Lord as a thousand millions of ages, or a thousand 
millions of ages as one moment ; such is his duration, and there- 
fore not properly successive, like that of creatures. 

2. When any thing past, present, or to come, is attributed to 
God, it either signifies that he is so, as to his Avorks, which are 
finite, and measured by successive duration ; or else it signifies, 
that he, whose duration is not measured by succession, notwith- 
standing, exists unchangeably, through all the various ages of 
time. As he is omnipresent with all the parts of matter, yet has 
no parts himself, so he exists in all the successive ages of time. 



134 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

but without that succession, which is peculiar to time and crea- 
tures. 

Several things may be inferred, of a practical nature, from 
the eternity of God. As, 

1. Since God's duration is eternal, that is, without succession, 
so that there is no such thing as past, or to come, with him ; 
or if ten thousand millions of ages are but like a moment to 
him ; then it follows, that those sins which we have committed 
long ago, and perhaps are forgotten by us, are present to his 
view J he knows what we have done against him ever since we 
had a being in this world, as much as though we were at pre^ 
sent committing them. 

2. If God was from eternity, then how contemptible is all 
created gloiy, when compared with his ; look but a few ages 
backward, and it was nothing : this should humble the pride of 
the creature, who is but of yesterday, and whose duration is 
nothing, and less than nothing, if compared with God's. 

3. The eternity of God, as being to everlasting, affords mat- 
ter of terror to his enemies, and comfort to Iiis people, and, as 
such, should be improved for the preventing of sin. 

(1.) It affords matter of terror to his enemies. For, 

1st. He ever lives to S-e his threatenings executed, and to 
pour forth the vials of his fury on them : thus the prophet 
speaking of God, as the everlasting King^ adds, that at his 
ivrath the earth shall tremble^ and the nations shall not be able 
to abide his indignation^ Jer. x. 10. Therefore the eternity of 
God ai-gues the etemit}' of the punishment of sin, since this 
great Judge, who is a consuming fire to impenitent sinners, 
will live for ever to see his threatenings executed upon them. 
This appars, if we consider, 

^dly^ That since he is eternal in his being, he must be so in 
his power, holiness, justice, and all his other perfections, which 
are terrible to his enemies : thus the Psalmist says, Who kno-w- 
eth the power of thine anger ? even according to thy fear ^ so is 
thy rvrath^ Psal. xc. 11. and the apostle says. It is a fearful 
thing to fall into the hands of the living God^ Heb. x. 31. 

(2.) It affords matter of comfort to believers, as opposed to 
the fluctuating and uncertain state of all creature-enjoyments ; 
it is an encouragement to them in the loss of friends and rela- 
tions, or under all the other losses or disappointments they meet 
with as to their outward estate in this world. These are, at best, 
but short-lived comforts, but God is the eternal portion and hap- 
piness of his people, Psal. Ixxiii. 26. and, from his eternity, they 
may certainly conclude, that the happiness of the heavenly state 
will be eternal, for it consists in the enjoyment of him, who is 
so ; which is a very delightful thought to all who are enabled by 
faith to lay claim to it. 



THE PERFECTIONS Of GOD. 135 

VI. God is immutable : thus it is said, that with him is no 
variableness^ neither shadow of turnings James i. 17. This is 
somttimts set forth in a metaphorical way, in which respect he 
is compared to a rock^ Deut. xxxii. 4. which remains immove- 
able, when the whole ocean, that surrounds it, is continually in 
a fluctuating state ; even so, though all creatures are subject to 
change, God alone is unchangeable in his being, and all his per- 
fections. 

Here we shall consider, 

1. How immutability is a perfection ; and how it is a divine 
perfection peculiar to God. 

(1.) It must be allowed that immutability cannot be said to 
be an excellency or perfection, unless it be applied to, or spo- 
ken of what is good ; an immutable state of sin, or misery, is 
far from being an excellency, when it is applied to fallen angels, 
or wicked men : but unchangeable holiness and happiness, as 
applied to holy angels, or saints in heaven, is a perfection con- 
ferred upon them ; and when we speak of God's immutability, 
we suppose him infinitely blessed, which is included in the no- 
tion of a God ; and so we farther say, that he is unchangeable 
in all those perfections in which it consists. 

(2.) Immutability belongs, in the most proper sense, to God 
alone ; so that as he only is said to have ijnmortality^ 1 Tim. vi. 
16. that is, such as is underived and independent, he alone is 
unchangeable ; other things are rendered immutable by an act 
of his will and power, but immutability is an essential perfec- 
tion of the divine nature ; creatures are dependently immutable, 
God is independently so. 

(3.) The most perfect creatures, such as angels and glorified 
saints, are capable of new additions to their blessedness ; new 
objects may be presented as occasions of praise, which tend 
perpetually to increase their happiness : the angels know more 
than they did before Christ's incarnation ; for they are said to 
know by the churchy that is, by the dealings of God with his 
church, the manifold wisdom. ofGod^ Eph. iii. 10. and to desire 
to look into the account the gospel gives of the sii^trings of 
Christy and the glory that should follow^ 1 Pet. i. 11, 12. and 
they shall have farther additions to their blessedness, when all 
the elect are joined to their assembly in the gi-eat day ; so that 
the happiness of the best creatures is communicated in various 
degrees ; but God's perfections and blessedness can have no ad- 
ditions made to them, therefore he is immutable in a sense as 
no creature is. 

2. We shall now prove that God is immutable in his being 
and all his perfections. 

(1.) That he is immutable in his being ; this belongs to him 
as God, and. consequently to him alone. All other beings once 



J 36 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

were not; there has been, if I may so express it, a change from 
a state of non-existence, to that of being ; and the same power 
that brought them into being, could reduce them again to their 
first nothing. To be dependent, is to be subject to change at 
the will of another ; this is appHcable to all finite things ; for 
it is said, As a vesture thou s/ialt change the7n, and they shall 
be changed: but God being opposed to them as independent, is 
said to be the same^ Psal. cii. 26, 27. 

Ist^ He did not change fiom a state of non-existence to be- 
ing, inasmuch as he was from everlasting, and therefore neces- 
sarily existent ; and consequently he cannot change from a state 
of being to that of non-existence, or cease to be ; and because 
his perfections are essential to him, and underived, in the same 
sense as his being is, therefore there can be no change therein. 

2dly^ He cannot change from a state of greater to a state of 
less perfection, or be subject to the least diminution of his di- 
vine perfections. To suppose this possible, is to suppose he 
may cease to be infinitely perfect ; that is, to be God : nor can 
he change from a state of less perfection to a state of gi-eater; 
for that is to suppose him not to be infinitely perfect before this 
change, or that there^are degrees of infinite perfection. Nor, 

3(3%/, Can he pass from that state, in which he is, to another 
of equal perfection ; for, as such a change implies an equal pro- 
portion of loss and gain, so it would argue a plurality of infi- 
nite beings ; or since he, who was God before this change, was 
distinct from what he arrives to after it, this would be contra- 
ry to the unity of the divine essence. 

Moreover, this may be farther proved from hence, that if 
there be any change in God, this must arise either from him- 
self, or some other : it cannot be from himself, inasmuch as he 
exists necessarily, and not as the result of his own will : there- 
fore he cannot will any alteration, or change in himself; this is 
also contrary to the nature of infinite blessedness, which cannot 
desire the least diminution, as it cannot apprehend any necessity 
thereof : and then he cannot be changed by any other : for he 
that changes any other, must be greater than him whom he 
changes ; nor can he be subject to the will of another, who is 
superior to him ; since there is none equal, much less superior, 
to God : therefore there is no being that can add to, or take 
from, his perfections ; which leads us, 

(2.) To consider the immutability of God's perfections. And, 

First^ Of his knowledge ; he seeth not as man seeth ; this is 
obvious. For, 

Ist^ His knowledge is independent upon the objects known; 
therefore whatever changes there are in them, there is none in 
him. Things known, are considered either as past, present, or 
to come ; and these are not known by us in the same way ; for 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 137 

concerning things past, it must be said, tiiat we shall know them 
here vfter; whereas God, with one view, comprehends all things', 
past arid future, as chough they were present. 

2^/z/, If God's knowledge were not unchangeable, he might 
be said to have different thoughts, or apprehensions of things 
at one time, from what he has at another, which would argue a 
defect of wisdom. And indeed a change of sentiments implies 
ignorance, or weakness of understanding ; for to make advances 
in knowledge, supposes a degree of ignorance ; and to decline 
therein, is to be reduced to a "state of ignorance : now it is cer- 
tain, that both these are inconsistent with the infitiite perfection 
of the divine mind ; nor can any such defect be applied to him, 
who is called. The only wise Gody 1 Tim. i. 17. 

3<//i/, If it were possible for God's knowledge to be changed, 
this would infer a change of his will, since having changed his 
sentiments, he must be supposed to alter his resolutions and 
purposes ; but his will is unchangeable, therefore his under- 
standing or knowledge is so ; which leads us to prove, 

Sccondhjy That God is unchangeable in his will : thus it is 
said of him. He is of one mind^ and zvho can turn him ? Job 
xxiii. 13. This is agreeable to his infinite perfection, and there- 
fore he does not purpose to do a thing at one time, and deter- 
mine not to do it at another ; though it is true, the revelation 
of his will may be changed, whereby that may be rendered a 
duty at one time, which was not at another : thus the ordinan- 
ces of the ceremonial law were prescribed, from Moses's time 
to Christ ; but after that were abolished, and ceased to be or- 
dinances ; so that there may be a change in the things willed, 
or in external revelation of God's will, and in our duty found- 
ed thereon, when there is, at the same time, no change in his 
purpose ; for he determines all changes in the external dispen- 
sation of his pi-ovidence and grace, without the least shadow of 
change in his own will : this may farther appear, if we consider, 

\sty That if the will of God were not unchangeable, he could 
not be the object of trust ; for how could we depend on his pro- 
mises, were it possible for him to change his purpose ? Neither 
vrould his threatenings be so much regarded, if there were any 
ground to expect, from the mutability of his nature, that he 
would not execute them ; and by this means, all religion would 
be banished out of the world. 

2dlyy This would render the condition of the best men, in 
some respects, very uncomfortable ; for they might be one day 
the object of his love, and the next, of his hatred, and those 
blessings which accompany salvation might be bestowed at one 
time, and taken away at another, which is directly contraiy to 
scrii)ture, which asserts, that the gifts end (\dling of God are 
rvithoiit repentance^ Rom. xi. 29. 
Vol. I. S 



IJg il!E PERFECTIONS Oi' -GOD- 

Q)dhj^ None bi those things that occasion a change in the pur- 
poses of n\en, caR: be ppplied to Godj and therefore there is no-' 
thing in him, that in the least degree can lead him to change hi* 
will, or determination, \v ith respect to the evtnt of things. For, 

\st^ Men change their purpose, from a natural fickleness and 
inconstancy, as there is mutability in thfir very nature ; but 
God being unchangeable in his nature, he must be so in his 
purpose or will. 

2dly^ Men change their purposes in promising, and not ful- 
filling their promise, or, as we say, in being worle than their 
word, oftentimes from the viciousness and depravity of their 
nature ; but God is infinitely holy, and therefore, in this respect* 
cannot change. 

3fl^/z/, Men change their mind or purposes, for want of power, 
to bring about what they designed; this has hindered many 
well concerted projects from taking effect in some, and man) 
threatenings from being executed in others ; but God's will 
cannot be frustrated for want of power, to do what he design- 
ed, inasmuch as he is Almighty. 

4M/j/, Men change their minds many times, for want of fore- 
bight ; something unexpected occurs that renders it expedient 
for them to alter their purpose, which argues a defect of wis- 
dom : but God is infinitely wise ; therefore nothing unforeseen 
can intervene to induce him to change his purpose. 

Stkly^ Men are sometimes obliged to change their purpose 
by the influence, threatenings, or other methods, used by some 
superior ; but there is none equal, much less superior, to God ; 
and consequently none can lay any obligation on him to change 
his purpose. 

VII. God is incomprehensible: this implies that his perfec- 
tions cannot be fully known by any creature ; thus it is said. 
Ca7ist thou hij seayc'hing^ find out God? Canst thou find out tht 
Almighty unto perfection ? Job xi. 7. 

When we consider God as incomprehensible, we do not only 
mean that m.an in this imperfect state, cannot fully comprehend- 
his glorv ; for it is but very little, comparatively, that ^^'e can 
comprehend of finite things, and we know much less of that 
which is infinite ; but when v/e say that God is incomprehensi- 
ble, we mean that the best of creatures, in the most perfect 
state, cannot fully conceive of, Or describe his glory ; and the 
reason is, because they are finite, and his perfections are infi- 
nite ; and there is no proportion between an infinite God, an(* 
a finite mind : the water of the ocean might as w\;ll be contain- 
ed in the hollow of tlie hand, or the dust of the earth weighed 
in a balance, as that the best of creatures should have a ])eifect 
^nd adequate idea of the divine perfections. In this case, wo 
generally distinguish between apprehending, and comprehend- 
ing; the former denotes our having some imperfect, or inadc- 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 139 

vjuate ideas of what surpasses our understanding ; the latter, 
our knowing every thing that is contained in it, which is called 
our having an adequate idea thereof: now we apprehend some^ 
thing of the divine perfections, in proportion to the limits of our 
capacities, and our present state ; hut we cannot, nor ever shall, 
be able to comprehend the divine glory, since God is incom- 
prehensible to every one but himself. Again, we farther dis- 
tinguish between our having a full conviction that God hath 
those infinite perfections, which no creature can comprehend, 
and our being able fully to describe them : thus we firmly be- 
lieve that God exists throughout all the changes of time, and 
yet that his duration is not measured thereby, or that he fills 
idl places without being co-extended with matter; we appre- 
hend, as having an undeniable demonstration thereof, that he 
does sd, though we cannot comprehend how he does it. 

VIII. God is omnipi-esent : this is elegantly set forth by the 
Psalmist, Whither shall I go from thy Spirit ? Or xvhither shall 
I Jiee from thy presence? If I ascend into heaven., thou art 
there ; if I make mij bed in hell^ behold^ thou art there ; if I take 
the wings of the mornings and dwell in the uttermost parts of 
the sea ; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right-hand 
shall hold me, Psal. cxxxix. 7 — 10. This perfection of the 
Godhead doth not consist merely, as some suppose, in his 
knowing what is done in heaven and earth, which is only a 
metaphorical sense of omnipresence ; as when Elisha tells Ge^ 
hazi, Weiit not my heart rvith thee, when the man turned again 
from his chariot to meet thee f 2 Kings v. 6. Or, as the apostle 
sa3-s to the church at Corinth, that though he was absent in body^ 
yet he was present Avith thena in spirit, 1 Cor. v. o. or, as we 
say, that our souls are with oui- friends in distant places, as of- 
ten as we think of them : nor doth it consist in God's being 
onmipresent by his authority, as a king is said, by a figurative 
wa}- of speaking, to be present in all parts of his dominions, 
where persons are deputed to act under bin?, or In- hi* autho- 
rity : but we must take it in a proper sense, as he fills all pla- 
ces with his presence, Jer. xxiii. Sf. so that he is not confined 
to, or excluded from any place ; and this he does, not by parts, 
as the world or the universe is said to be omnipresent, for that 
is only agreeable to things corporeal, and compounded of parts, 
and therefore bv no means applicable to the divine omnipre- 
sence. This is a doctrine which it is impossible for us to com- 
prehend, yet we are bound to believe it, because the contrary 
hereunto is inconsistent with infinite perfection ; and it is some- 
times called his essential presence, (a) to disvingulsh it from his 

(rt) EfF..cts spring' from /m?!'''/', not A;-.;.?, and prove a TivtuaJ, oj- ir.n'.itnti;;', ti- 
■•''-lutkin, an esyntial ub'.qnit;, 



140 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

influential presence, whereby he is said to be where he acts in 
the method of his providence, which is either common or spe- 
cial; by the former of these he upholds and governs all things; 
by tl:ie latter he exerts his poAver in a wa) of grace, which is 
called his special presence with his people : and as his omni- 
presence, or immensit)^, is necessary, and not the result of his 
will, 80 his influential presence is arbitrary, and an instance of 
infinite condescension, in which respect he is said to be, or not 
to be, in particular places ; to come to, or depart from his peo- 
ple ; soinetimes to dwell in heaven, as he displays his glory 
there agreeably to the heavenly state ; at other times to dwell 
with his church on earth, when he communicates to them those 
blessings which they stand in need of; which leads us to con- 
sider the next divine perfection mentioned in this answer. 

IX. God is almighty. Rev. i. 18. ch. iy. 8. this will evident- 
ly appear, in that if he be infinite in ail his other perfections, 
he must be so in power : thus if he be omniscient, he knows 
what is possible or expedient to be done ; and, if he be an infi- 
nite sovereign, he wills whatever shall come to pass : now this 
knowledge would be insignificant, and his will ineflicacious, 
were he not infinite in power, or almighty. Again, this might 
be argued from his justice, either in rev/arding or punishing; 
for if he were not infinite in power, he could do neither of 
these, at least so far as to render him the object of that desire, 
or fear, which is agreeable to the nature of these perfections ; 
neither could infinite faithfulness accomplish all the promises 
which he hath made, so as to excise that trust and dependence, 
which is a part of religious worship ; nor could he sav, with- 
out limitation, as he does, I have spoken it, I will also bring it 
■ to pass; I have purposed it, I rvill also do it, Isa. xlvi. 11. 

But since power is visible in, and demonstrated by its effects, 
and infinite power, bv those effects vhich cannot be produced 
by a creature, we may observe the almighty power of God in 
all his works, both of nature and grace : thus his eternal power 
is understood, as the apostle says. By the thijigs that are made^ 
Rom. i. 20. not that there was an eternal production of things, 
but the exerting this power in time proves it to be infinite and 
truly divine ; for no creature can produce the smallest particle 
of matter out of nothing, much less furnish the various spe- 
cies of creatures with those endowments, in which they excel 
one another, and set forth their Creator's glory. And the glory 
pf his power is no less visible in the works of proA'idence, 
whereby he upholds all things, disposes of them according to 
his ]3leasure, and brings aboiU events, v/iiich only he Avho has an 
almighty arm can effect. These things might have been enlarg- 
ed on, as> evident proofs of this divine perfection ; but sin.ce the 
works of creation and providence will be particularly considered 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 141 

in their proper place,* we shall proceed to consider the power 
of God, as appearing in his works of grace ; particularly, 

1. In some things subservient to our redempiiori, as in the 
formation of the human nature of Christ, which is ascribed to 
the power of the Highest^ Luke i. 35. and in preserving it from 
being crushed, overcome, and trampled on, by all the united 
powers of hell, and earth : it is said, the arm of God strengthen- 
ed hifji, so that the enemy should Jiot exact vpon him^ nor the 
son of xvickedness ajpict him^ Psal. Ixxxix. 21, 22. It was the 
power of God that bore him up under all the terrible views he 
Jigd of sufferings and death, which had many ingredients in it, 

ftj^ rendered it, beyond expression, formidable, and vvould 
have sunk a mere creature, unassisted thereby, into destruc- 
tion. It was by the divine power, which he calls the finger of 
God^ Luke ix. 20. that he cast out devils, and wrought many 
other miracles, to confirm his mission : so, when he rebuked the 
unclean spirit^ and healed the child^ it is said, they rvere all ama- 
zed at the mighty poxver of God^ chap. ix. 42, 43. and it was 
hereby that he ivas raised from the dead^ which the apostle calls 
the exceeding greatness of the power of God^ Eph. i. 19. and 
accordingly he was declared to be the Son of God^ -with power,, 
by this extraordinary events Rom. i. 4. Moreover, the power of 
God will be glorified, in the highest degree, in his second com- 
ing, when, as he says, he will appear in the clouds of heaven^ 
roith poxver and great glory. Matt. xxiv. 30. 

2. The power of God eminently appears in the propagation 
and success of the gospel. 

(1.) In the propagation thereof; that a doctrine, so contrary 
to the corrupt inclinations of mankind, which had so little to 
recommend it, but what was divine, should be spread through- 
out the greatest part of the known world, by a small number of 
men, raised up and spirited to that end ; and, in order there- 
unto, acted above themselves, and furnished with extraordina- 
ry qucdifications, such as the gift of tongues, and a power to 
work miracles, is a convincing proof, that the power by which 
ail this was done, is infinite. It was hereby that they were not 
only inspired with wisdom, by which they silenced and con- 
founded their malicious enemies, but persuaded others to be- 
lieve what they were sent to impart to them. It was hereby 
that they were inflamed with zeal, in proportion to the great- 
ness of the occasion, fortified with courage to despise the threat?, 
and patiently to bear the persecuting rage of those who pur- 
sued them unto bonds and death. It was hereby that they 
were enabled to finish their course with joy, and seal the doc- 
trines they delivered with their blood. And the power of God 
was herein the more remarkable, inasmuch as thev were not 
men of the greatest natural sagacity, or resolution ; and they 
* Quest. XV. iind xviii. 



142 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD« 

always confessed whatever there was extraordinary in the 
course of their ministry, was from the hand of God. 

(2.) The power of God appears in the success of the gospel, 
the report whereof would never have been believed, had not 
the arm of the Lord been revealed^ Isa. liii. 1. The great mul- 
titude that was converted to Christianity in one age, is an emi- 
nent instance hereof: and the rather, because the profession 
they made was contrary to their secular interests, and exposed 
them to the same persecution, though in a less degree, which 
the apostles themselves met with ; notwithstanding which, they 
willingly parted with their worldly substance, when the neces- 
sity of affairs required it, and were content to have all things 
common, that so the work might proceed with more success. 

It was the power of God that touched their hearts ; so that 
this internal influence contributed more to the work of grace, 
than all the rhf;i:orick of man could have done. It was this that 
carried them through all the opposition of cruel mocking, bonds, 
and imprisonment, and at the same time compensated all their 
losses and sufferings, by those extraordinary joys and supports 
which they had, both in life and death. 

And to this we may add, that the daily success of the gos- 
pel, in all the instances of converting grace, is an e.ident effect 
and proof of the divine power, as will farther appear, when, 
under a following head, we consider effectual calling, as being 
the work of God's almighty power and grace.* 

Object. It will be objected, that there are some things which 
God cannot do, and therefore he is not almighty. 

Anszu. It is true, there are some things that God cannot do ; 
but the reason is, either because it would be contrary to his 
divine perfections to do them, or they are not the objects of 
power ; therefore it is not an imperfection in him that he can 
not do them, but rather a branch of his glory. As, 

?1. There are some things which he cannot do, not because 
he has not power to do them, had he pleased; but the only rea- 
son is, because he has willed or determined not to do them. 
Thus if we should say, that he cannot make more worlds, it is 
not for want of infinite power, but because we suppose he has 
determined not to make them ; he cannot save the reprobate, 
or fallen angels, not through a defect of power, but because he 
has willed not to do it. In this the power of God is distin- 
guished from that of the creature ; for we never say that a per- 
son cannot do a thing, merely because he will not, but because 
he wants power, if he would : («) but this is by no means to be 
said of God in any instance. Therefore we must distinguish 
between his absolute and ordinate power; by the former he 

* Quest. Ixvji. 

' V . ■ ' 

(a) Vide Edwards on Free-will, part I. sect. IV. 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. / 143 

rould do many things, which by the latter be will not ; and con- 
sequently, to say he cannot do those things, which he has de- 
termined not to do, does not in the least ovcithrow this attri- 
bute of almight)' power. 

2. He cannot do that which is contrary to the nature of things, 
where there is an impossibility in the things themselves to be 
done : thus he cannot make a creature to be independent, for 
that is contrary to th^ idea of a creature ; nor can he make a 
creature equal to himself, for then it would not be a creature ; 
it is also impossible that he should make a creature to be, and 
not to be, at the same time ; or render that not done, which is 
done, since that is contrary to the nature and truth of things ; 
to which we may add, that he cannot make a creature the ob- 
ject of religious worship ; or, by his power, advance-lTiim to such 
a dignity, as shall warrant any one's ascribing divine perfec- 
tions to him. 

3. He cannot deny himself. It is impossible for God to lie^ 
Heb. vi. 1 8. and it is equally impossible for him to act contra- 
ry to any of his perfections ; for which reason he cannot do any 
thing that argues weakness : as, for instance, he cannot repent, 
or change his mind, or eternal purpose ; nor can he do any thing 
that would argue him, not to be a holy God : now, though it 
may be truly said that God can do none of these things, this is 
no defect in him, but rather a glory, since they are not the ob- 
jects of power, but would argue weakness and imperfection in 
him, should he do them. 

We shall now consider, what practical improvement we ought 
to make of this divine attribute. 

(1.) The almighty power of God aiFords great support and 
relief to believers, when they are assaulted, and afraid of be- 
ing overcome, by their spiritual enemies : thus when they wres- 
tle, as the apostle says, not only against Jiesh and bloody but 
against principalities^ against powers^ against the rulers of the 
darkness of this xvorld^ and against spiritual wickedness in high 
places^ Eph. vi. 12. and when they consider what numbers 
have been overcome and ruined by them, and arc discouraged 
very much, under a sense of their own weakness or inability to 
maintain their ground against them ; let them consider that God 
is able to bruise Satan under their feet, and to make them more 
than conquerors, and to cause all grace to abound in them, and 
to work in them that which is pleasing in his sight. 

(2.) The consideration of God's almighty power gives us tlic 
greatest ground to conclude, that whatever difficulties seem to 
lie in the way of the accomplishment of his promises, relating 
to our future blessedness, shall be removed or surmounted ; so 
that those things which seem impossible, if we look no farther 
tlian second causes, or the little appearance there is, at [n-esent, 



144 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

of their being brought about, are not only possible, but very 
easy for the power of God to effect. 

Thus, with respect to what concerns the case of those who 
are sinking into despair, under a sense of the guilt or power of 
sin, by reason whereof they are ready to conclude that this 
burden is so great, that no finite power can remove it; let such 
consider, that to God ail things are possible ; he can, by his 
powerful word, raise the most dejected spirits, and turn the 
shadow of death into a bright morning of peace and joy. 

Moreov^er, if we consider the declining state of religion in 
the world, the apostacy of some professors, the degeneracy of 
others, and what reason the best of them have to say, that it is 
not With them as in times past ; or when we consider what little 
hope there is, from the present view we have of things, that the 
work of God will be revived in his church ; yea, if the state 
thereof were, in all appearance, as hopeless as it was when God, 
in a vision, represented it to the prophet Ezekiel, when he 
shewed him the valley full of dry bones, and asked him. Can 
these holies live 7 Ezek. xxxvii. 3. or if the question be put, 
can the despised, declining, sinking, and dying interest of Christ 
be revived I or how can those prophecies, that relate to the 
church's future happiness and giorj , ever have their accom- 
plishment in this world, when all things seem to make against 
it ? this difficulty will be removed, and our hope encouraged, 
when we consider the poAver of God, to which nothing is diffi- 
cult, much less insuperable. 

And to this we may add, that the power of God will remove 
all the difficulties that lie in our way, with respect to the resur- 
rection of the dead : this is a doctrine which seems contrary to 
the course of nature ; and, if we look no farther than the power 
of the creature, we should be inclined to say. How can this be ? 
But when we consider the almighty power of God, that will 
sufficiently remove all objections that can be brought against it : 
thus, when our Saviour proves this doctrine, he opposes the 
absurd notions which some had relating thereunto, by saying, 
Te do £•/•?-, not knoxv'ing the scriptures^ nor the power of God^ 
Matth. xxii. 19. 

(3.) Let us have a due regard to this attribute, and take en- 
couragement from it, when we are engaging in holy duties, and 
are sensible of our inability to perform them in a right manner, 
and have too inuch reason to complain of an unbecoming frame 
of spirit therein, of the hardness and impenitency of our hearts, 
the obstinacy and perAcrseness of our wills, the earthliness and 
carnality of our affections, and that all the endeavours we can 
use to bring ourselves into a better frame, have not their desi- 
red success ; let us encourage ourselves with this consideration, 
that God can make us xviUingm the day of his power ^ Psal. ex. 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. \45 

3, and do exceeding abundantly above all that roe can aak or 
think^ Eph. ili. 20. 

(4.) Let us take heed that we do not abuse, or practically 
deny, or cast contempt on this divine perfection, by presuming 
that we may obtain spiritual blessings, without dependence on 
him for them, or expecting divine influences, while we continue 
in the neglect of his instituted means of grace : it is true, God 
tan work without means, but he has not given us ground to ex- 
pect that he will do so ; therefore when we seek help from him, 
it must be in his own way. 

Again, let us take heed that we do not abuse this divine per- 
fection, by a distrust of God, or by dependence on an arm of 
flesh ; let us not, on the one hand, limit the Holy One of Israel, 
by saying. Can God do this or that for me, either with respect 
to spiritual or temporal concerns i nor, on the other hand, rest 
in any thing short of him, as though omnipotency were not an 
attribute peculiar to himself. As he is able to do great things 
for us that we looked not for ; so he is much displeased when 
we expect these blessings from any one short of himself ; Who 
art thou^ that thou shouldat he afraid of a man^ that shall die^ and 
forgettest the Lord thy Maker ^ that hath stretched forth the hea-. 
vens^ and laid the foundation of the earth P Isa. li. 12. 

X. God knows all things : it has been before considered, that 
his being a Spirit, implies his having an understanding, as a 
spirit is an intelligent being j therefore his being an infinite 
Spirit, must argue that his understanding is infinite^ PsaL 
cxlvii. 5. 

This may be farther proved, 

1. From his having given being to all things at first, and 
continually upholding them ; he must necessarily know his ov^ n 
workmanship, the effects of his power ; and this is yet more evi- 
dent, if we consider the creation of all things, as a work of in- 
finite wisdom, v/hich is plainly discernible therein, as well as 
almighty power ; therefore he must know all things, for wisdom 
supposes knowledge. Moreover, his being the proprietor of all 
things, results from his having created them, and certainly heJ 
must know his own. 

2. This farther appears, from his governing all things, or 
his ordering the subserviency thereof, to answer some valuable 
ends, and that all should redound to his glory ; therefore both 
the ends and means must be known by him. And as for the 
governing of intelligent creatm-es, this supposes knowledge : as 
the Judge of all, he must be able to discern the cause, or else 
he cannot determine it, and perfectly to know the rules of jus- 
tice, or else he cannot exercise it in the government of the 
world. 

3. If God knows himself, he must know all other things, f9r 
Vol. I, T . 



t4S THE PERFECTIONS OF GOV. 

he that knows the greatest object, must know things of a lesser 
nature ; besides,- it he knows iiimseii, he knows what he can do, 
wih do, or has done, which is as much as to say that he knows 
all things. And that God knows himself, must be granted ; 
for if It be the privilege of an intelligent creature to know him- 
self, chough this knowledge in him be but imperfect, surely 
God must know himself; and because his knowledge cannot 
have any delect, which would be inconsistent with infinite per- 
feccion, therefore he must have a perfect, that is to say, an in- 
finite knowledge of himself, and consequently of all other 
things. 

This knowledge of God, which has the creature for its ob-. 
ject, is distinguished, in scripture, into his comprehending, see- 
ing, or having a perfect intuition of all things, and his approv- 
ing of things, or it is either intuitive or approbative ; the for- 
mer of these ik what we principally understand by this attribute ; 
as when it is said, Knorvn unto "God are all his xvorks^from the 
beginning of the xvorld^ Acts xv. 18. and, thoii knoweat mif 
doxvn-sitting and up-rising^ and art acquainted xvith all mif 
ibaiis ; for there is not a xuordin mij tongiw^ but /c, Lord^ thou 
knoxvest it altogether^ Psal. cx^^xix. 2, 3, 4. and, the Lord search- 
eth all hearts^ and understandeth all the imaginations of the 
thoughts, 1 Chron. xxviii. 9» And as for the other sense of 
God's knowledge, to wit, of approbation, which is less properly 
called knowledge, because it is rather seated in the v?iil than in 
the understanding ; of this we read in several scriptures ; as 
when God tells Moses, I knoxv thee by name. Exod. xxxiii. 12. 
which is explained bv thr following v. ords, A7id thou hast found 
grace in mt/ sight ; so when our Saviour says, concerning his 
enem'xQs, I xvill profess unto you I never knew you, Matth. v'lu 
23. it is not meant of a knowledge of intuition, but approba- 
tion. In the former sense, he knows rji things, bad as well as 
good, that which he hates and will punish, as well as what he 
delights in : in the latter, he only knows that which is good, or 
agreeable to his wilU 

Moreover, God is said to know what he can do, and what 
he hns done, or will do, 

(1.) God knows what he can do, even many things that he 
will not do ; for as tis power ia unlimited, so that he can doin^ 
finitely more than he will, so he knows more than he will do. 
This is very obvious ; for we ourselves, as free agents, can do 
more than we will, and, as intelligent, w^e know in many instan- 
ces, what we can do, though we will never do them : much 
more must this be said of the great God, who calleth. things 
that he not as though they xvere, Rom. iv. 17, so David en- 
quires of God, Will Sard come doxvn ? andxvill the men of Keilah 
dcfr^r ni€ tip into his hand? And God answers him, He xuiU 



THE PERFECTIONS OJF GOB* 14?" 

come doxvn^ dtid th^e men of Keilah xvill deliver thee vp^ 1 Sal\ir 
xxiii. 12. which implies, that God knew what they would have 
done, had not his pixjvidence prevented it. In this respect, 
things known by him are said to be possible, b}' reason ol his 
power, whereas the future existence thcreoi depends on his AvilL 

(2.) God knows whatever he has done, does, or will do, viz* 
things past, present, or to come. That he knows all things pre- 
sent, has been proved, from the dependence of things on his 
providence; and his knowledge being inseparably connected 
"with his power : and that he knows all things that are past, is 
no less evident, for they were once present, and consequently 
known by him; and to suppose that he does not knoM th-.ni, 
is to charge him with forgetlulness, or to suppose that his know- 
ledge at present is less perfect than it was, which is Inconsis- 
tent with infinite perfection. Moreover, if God did not know 
all things past, he could not be the Judge of the world ; and 
particularly, he could neither reward nor punish; both v/hich 
acts respect only things that are past ; therefore such things are 
perfectly known by him. Thus, Avhen Job considered his pre- 
sent afflictions, as the punishment of past sins, he says, Job xiv. 
17. Mij transgression is seeded up in a bag ; thou sexvvst up 
7nine iniquity ; which metaphorical waj' of speaking, implies 
his remembering it : so when God threatens to punish his ad- 
versaries for their iniquity, he speaks of it, as remembered by 
him, laid up in store with him, and sealed vp aynong his trea- 
sures^ Deut. xxxii. 34, Z5. So, on the other hand, when he 
designed to reward, or encourage, the religious duties, perform- 
ed by his people, who feared his name, it is said, a book of re- 
membrance xvas -written before hhn^ for them ^ Mai. iii. 16. 

But that which we shall principally consider, is, God's 
knowing all things future, viz. not only such as are tlie effects 
of necessary causes, where the effect is known in or by the 
cause, but such as are contingent, with respect tons; which is 
the most difficult af all knowledge whatsoever, aiid ai'gues it to 
be truly divine. 

By future contingences, we understand things that are acci^ 
■dental, or, as we commonly sa\', happen by chance, without any 
fore-thought, or design of men. Now that many things happen 
so, with respect to us, and therefore we cannot certainly fore- 
know them, is very obvious ; but even these are foreknov. n by 
(Tod(«) For, 

(a) The Divine knowledge is us undeniable as the Divine e.Mstence, ar.d as cer- 
tain as human knowledge. " He that f()rmo(L the eye doth he not see ? He that 
planted the e:a' iloth he not hear ? He that teueheth man knowledge doth he not 
know ?" liut though human knowledge proves the Divine, as the effect does its 
cause, it by no means follows, that they are simiku-. Our knowledge i)r',nc pally 
••onsists of the images of thu^gs in the mhid, or springs from them; but if the 



148 flJE PERFECTIONS OF GODi 

1. Things that happen M'ithout our design, or fore-thought^ 
and therefore are not certainly foreknown by us, are the objects 
of his providence, and therefore known unto him from the be- 
ginning : thus the fall of a sparroxv to the ground \s a casual 
thing, yet our Saviour says, that this is not without his provi- 
dence, Matth. X. 29. Therefore, 

2. That which is casual, or accidental to us, is not so to him ; 
so that though we cannot have a certain or determinate fo^e» 
knowledge thereof, it does not follow thtt he has not ; since, 

3. He has foretold many such future events, as appears by 
the following instances* 

^-^ — ' — ■• ■ ■ ■■ ■ ' -"- -^ — -^ 

Divine knowledge Avere such, it would result th:;t things were prior to his know- 
ledge, and HO that be is not the Creator of them ; all tilings must tlierefore be the 
representations of his ideas, as an edifice represents the plan of the skilful archi- 
tect On this account our knowledge is superficial, extending only to the exter- 
nal appefj-anccs of thing's ; but their intimate natures are known to him, w1k> 
made them conformed to his original ideas. Our knowledge is circumscribed, 
extending only to the things which ai'e the objects of our senses, or which have 
been described to us ; but the luiiverse, with all its parts, the greatest and the 
smallest things^ are all known to him, who called them into existence, and mould- 
ed them according to his ovni plan. Ovu- knowledge embraces only the things 
which arcj oi' have been ; w.th respect to the future, we can "know nothing, ex- 
cept as he;, upon whom it depends^ siiall reveal it to us ; or as we may draw in- 
ferences from his course df action in former instances. But the Creator knows 
not only the past and the present, but the future. He knows the future, because 
it wholly depends on him ; and nothing can take phice without him, otherwise it 
is independent of God, but this is incompatible with his supremacy. If he know 
not the future, his knowledge is imperfect ; if he is to know hereafter what he 
does not now know, he is increasing in knowledge, this would arg'ue imperfec- 
tion; if his knowledge be imperfect, he is imperfect; and if he be imperfect, he is 
not God.— But all things to come are to be what he designs they shall be; there 
accompanies his knowledge of the future, alsdapurpose, that the thing designed 
shall be effectuated ; and his wisdom and power bein^ infinite guarantee the ac- 
complishment of his purposes. 

To be tlie subjects of foreknowledge, such as has been mentioned, implies the 
absolute certainty of the tilings, or occtUTences, thus foreknown. A failure in 
tiie'tf production, would not less prove imperfection, than a defect of the fore- 
knowledge of them. Contingency belongs not to tlie things in futurity, but to 
the defective knowledge of in^perfect beings, and is always proportional to our 
ignorance. 

That the future is categorically certain with God, appears by the invariable 
succession of effects to their causes in the natural world ; miracles themselves 
may not be exceptions, but would always, it is probable, flow from the same cau- 
ses, which are occult from us. The voluntary actions of moral agents, how un- 
- certain soever to themselves, are also not exceptions from the Divine knowledge 
t!id purposes ; "He doth his will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabi- 
tants of t!ie earth" ; "'The wrath of man praises him, and the remainder he doth 
restrain." E^•ery prophecy, which has been fidfilled, so far as it was accomplish- 
ed by the voluntary actions of men, proves the certainty of the divine foreknow- 
ledge, tl;e absolute certainty of the then future event, taid that the will of man is 
among the various meansj wliich God is pleased to make use of to accomplish his 
■purposes. 

Tf there be such certainty in God's foreknowledge, and in the events themselves 
in the Kingdom of Providence, we may reasonably expect his conduct will be si- 
•^nilar in the Kingdom of Grace ; and the more especially if man's salvation frorri 
first to last springs from, and is carried on, and accomplished by him. 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 149 

(1.) Ahab's death by an arrow, shot at random, may be 
reckoned a contingent event ; yet this was foretold before he 
went into the battle, 1 Kings xxii. 17, 18, 34. and accomphshed 
accordingly. 

(2.) That Israel should be afflicted and oppressed in Egypt, 
and afterwards should be delivered, was foretold four hundred 
years before it canic to pass. Gen* xv. 13, 14. And when Mo- 
ses was sent to deliver them out of the Egyptian bondage, God 
tells him, before-hand, how obstinate Phuraoh would be, and 
with how much difficulty he would be brought to let them go, 
Exod. iii. 19,20. 

(3.) Joseph's advancement in Egypt was a contingent and 
very unlikely event, yet it was made known several years be- 
fore, by his prophetic dream. Gen. xxxvii. 5, ££?c. and after- 
wards, that which tended more immediate!}^ to it, was his fore- 
telling what happened to the chief butler and baker, and the 
seven years of plenty and famine in Egypt, signified by Pha- 
raoh's dream ', all which were contingent events, and were fore- 
told by divine inspiration^ and thereiore foreknown by God. 

(4.) Hazael's coming to the crown of Syria, and the cruelty 
that he would exercise, was foretold to him, when he thought 
he could never be such a monster of a man, as he afterwards 
appeared to be, 2 Kings viii. 12, 13. 

(5.) Judas's betraying our Lord was foretold by him, John 
vi. 70, 71. though, at that time, he seemed as little disposed to 
commit so vile a crime as any of his disciples. 

Thus having considered God's knowledge, with respect to 
the object, either as past, or future, we shall conclude this 
head, by observing some properties, wliereby it appears to be 
superior to all finite knowledge, and truly divine, viz. 

1. It is perfect, intimate, and distinct, and not superficial, or 
confused, or onl)' respecting things in general, as ours often is : 
thus it is said concerning him, that he bringeth out his host btf 
number^ andcalleth them all by names^ Isa. xl. 26. which denotes 
his exquisite knowledge of ail things, as well as propriety in, 
and using them at his pleasure. And since all creatures live 
and move, or act, i7i him^ Acts xvii. 28. or by his powerful in- 
fluence, it follows from hence, that his knowledge is as distinct 
and particular, as the actions themselves, yea, the most indif- 
ferent actions, that are hardly taken notice of by ourselves, such 
as our doxvn-sitting and i/p-rif>ing-^ Psal. cxxxix. 2. and 
every transient thought that is no sooner formed in our minds, 
but forgotten by us, is known by him afar off, at the greatest 
distance of time, when it is irrecoverably lost with i-espect to 
us. That God knows all things thus distinctly, is e\'ident not 
only from their dependence upon him ; but it is said, that when 
he had brought his whole work of creation ^p perfection, He 



ISO ' THE PERrtCTlONS Ot GOD. 

saw every thing that he had made^ and behold it was very gotid^ 
that is, agreeable to his eternal design, or, if we may so express 
it, to the idci, or plat-form, laid in his own mind; and ihis he 
pronounced conctrning every individual thing, which is as 
much the object of his omniscience, as the effect of his power : 
what can be more expressive of the perfection and distinctness 
of his knoM ledge than this t Therefore the apostle might well 
say, that there is not any creature that is not manijest in his 
sight; but ail things are naked^ and opened unto the eyes of hir,i 
7vith whom rue have to do^ Heb. iv. 13. 

2. He knows every thing, even future contingencies, with a 
certain and infallible knowledge, without the least hesitation, or 
possibility of mistake; and therefore, as opinion, or conjecture, 
is opposed to certainty, it is not in the least applicable to him. 
In this his knowledge differs from that of the best of creatures, 
who can only guess at some things that may happen, according 
to the probable fore-views they have thereof. 

3. As to the manner of his knowing all things, it is not in a 
discursive way, agreeable to our common method of reasoning, 
by inferring one thing from another, or by comparing things to- 
geth.,r, and observing- their connexion, dependence, and various 
powers and manner of aciing, and thereby discerning what will 
foiiow ; tor such a knowledge as this is acquired, and presup- 
poses a degree of ignorance : conclusions can hardh be said to 
be known, till the premises, from whence they are deduced, be 
duiv weighed; but this is inconsistent with the knowledge of 
God, who sees all things in himself; things possible in his own 
power, and things future in his will, without inferring, abstract- 
ing, or deducing conclusions from premises, which to do is un- 
becoming him, who is perfect in knowledge. 

4. He knows all things at once, not successively, as we do : 
for if successive duration be an imperfection, (as was before 
observed, when we considered the eternity of God) his knowing 
all things after this manner, is equally so ; and, indeed, this 
would argue an increase of the divine knowledge, or a making 
advances in wisdom, by experience, and daily observation of 
things, which, though applicable to all intelligent creatures, can, 
by no means, be said of him, whose understanding is injinite^ 
Psal. cxlvii. 5. 

We shall now consider what improvement we ought to make 
of God's omniscience, as to what respects our conduct in this 
world. 

Firsty Let us take heed that we do not practically deny this 
attribute. 

1. Bv acting as though we thought that we could hide our- 
selves from the all-seeing eye of God ; let us not say, to use 
the words of Eliphaz, Hotv doth God know ? Can he judge 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD, 151 

through the dark cloud? Thick clouds are a covering to hhn^ 
that he seeth not^ and he walketh in the circuit of heaven^ Job 
xxii. 13, 14. How vain a supposition is this ! since there is no 
darkness, or shadow of deaths where the xvorkers of iniquity maij 
hide themselves^ chap, xxxiv. 22. Hypocrisy is, as it were, an 
attempt to hide ourselves irom God, an acting as though we 
thought that we could deceive or impose on hiiii, which is call- 
ed, in scripture, a lying to him^ Psal. Ixxviii. 36. or, a compass- 
ing him about xvith lies and deceit^ Hos. xi. 12. This all are 
chargeable with, who rest in a form of godliness, as though 
God saw only the outward actions, but not the heart. 

2. By being more afraid of man than God, and venturing to 
commit the vilest abominations, without considering his all-see- 
ing eye, which we would be atraid and ashamed to do, were we 
under the eye of man, as the apostle saith, It is a shame even 
to speak of those things which are done of them in secret^ Eph, 
V. 12. Thus God savs, concerning an apostatizing people of 
old, speaiying to the prophet Ezekiel, Son of man., hast thou seen 
ivhat the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark., even* 
man in the chambers of his imagery P for they say., The Lord 
seeth us not, the Lord hath forsake?i the earth, Ezek. viii. 12. 

Secondly., The consideration of God's omniscience should be 
improved, to humble us under a sense of sin, but especially of 
secret sins, which are all known to him : thus it is said. Thou 
hast set our iniquities before thee ; our secret sins in the light of 
thy countenance, Psal. xc. 8. and his eyes are upon the zvays of 
man, and he seeth all his goings. Job xxxiv. 21. There are 
man's' things which we know concerning ourselves, that no 
creature is privy to, which occasions self-conviction, and might 
fill us with shame and confusion of face. But this falls infinite- 
Iv short of God's omniscience ; for if our heart condemn iis, 
God istgreater than our heart, and knorveth all things, 1 John 
iii. 20. And this should make sinners tremble at the thoughts 
of a future judgment ; for if sins be not pardoned, he is able to 
bring them to remembrance, and, as he threatens he will do, 
set them in order before their eyes, Psal. 1. 21. 

Thirdly., The due consideration of this divine perfection, 
will, on the other hand, tend very much to the comfort of be- 
lievers : he seeth their secret wants, the breathings of their souls 
after him, and as our Saviour saith. Their Father, 7vhich seeth 
in secret, shall rervard them openly. Matt. vi. 4. With what 
pleasuj-e may they appeal to God, as the searcher of hearts, 
concerning their sincerity', when it is called in question by men. 
And when they are afraid of contracting guilt and defilement, 
by secret faults, which they earnestly desire, with the Psalmist, 
to be cleansed from, Psal. xix. 12. it is some relief to them to 
eon^ider that ppd kngw^ them; and therefor^ is able to gi\ -.^ 



153 JllR P£Rf FACTIONS OF GOD. 

them repentance for them ; so that they may pray with David j 
Search me, God, and hioxo mij heart; try me^ and know my 
thoughts ; and see if there be any wicked xvay in me, and lead me 
in the way everlasting, Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24. Moreover, it is a 
quieting thought, to all who are affected with the church's trou- 
bles, and the deep laid designs of its enemies against it, to con- 
sider that God knows them, and therefore can easily defeat, and 
turn them into foolishness. 

Fourthly, The due consideration of God's omniscience will 
be of great use to all Christians, to promote a right frame of 
spirit in holy duties ; it will make them careful how they be- 
have themselves as being in his sight ; 'and tend to fill them 
with a holy reverence, as those that are under his immediate 
inspection, that they mav approve themselves to him. 

XI. God is most wise, or infinite in wisdom ; or, as the apos- 
tle expresses it, he is the only zvise God, Rom. xvi. 27. This 
perfection considered as absolute, underived, and truly divine, 
belongs only to him ; so that the angels themselves, the most 
excellent order of created beings, are said to be destitute of it, 
or charged with folly. Job iv. 18. For our understanding what 
this divine perfection is, let us consider ; that wisdom contain^ 
in it more than knowledge, for there may be a great degree of 
knowledge, where there is but little wisdom, though there can 
be no wisdom without knowledge : knowledge is, as it were, 
the eye of the soul, whereby it apprehends, or sees, things in a 
true light, and so it is opposed to ignorance, or not knowing 
things ; but wisdom is that whereby the soul is directed in the 
skilful management of things, or in ordering them for the best j 
and this is opposed, not so much to ignorance, or error of judg- 
ment, as to folly, or error in conduct, which is a defect of wis- 
dom ; and it consists more especially in designing the best and 
most valuable end in what we are about to do, in using the 
most proper means to effect it, and in observing the fittest sea- 
son to act, and every circumstance attending it, that is most 
expedient and conducive thereunto i also in foreseeing and 
guarding against every occurrence that may frustrate our de- 
sign, or give us an occasion to blame ourselves for doing what 
we have done,' or repent of it, or to wish we had taken other 
measm-es. Now, that we inay from hence take an estimate of 
the wisdom of God, it appears, 

1 . In the reference, or tendency of all things to his own glo-- 
ly, which is the highest and most excellent end that can be pro- 
posed ; as he is the highest and best of beings, and his glory» 
to which all things are referred, is infinitely excellent. 

Here let us consider, 

(1.) That God is, by reason of his infinite perfection, hatus 
rally and necessarily the object of adoration. 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 153 

(2.) He cannot be adored, unless his glory be set forth and 
demonstrated, or made visible. 

(3.) There must be an intelligent creature to behold his glo- 
rv", and adore his perfections, that arc thus demonstrated and 
clispla^'cd. 

(4.) Every thing that he does is fit and designed to lead this 
creature into the knowledge of his glory ,* and that it is so or- 
dered, is an eminent instance of divine wisdom. We need not 
travel far to know this, for wherever we look, we may behold 
how excellent his name is in all the earth : and because some 
are so stupid, that they cannot, or will not, in a way of reason- 
ing, infer his divine perfections from things that ai'e without 
us, therefore he has instamped the knowledge thereof on the 
souls and consciences of men ; so that, at sometimes, they are 
obliged, whether they will or no, to acknoAvledge them. There 
is something which may be known of God^ that is said to be 
inanifest in, and shervn to all ; so that the Gentiles ivho have not 
the laxv, that is, the written word of God, do^ by nature the 
things^ that is, some things, contained therein^ and so are a laxo 
unto themselves^ and shew the work of the laxv written in their 
hearts, Rom. i. 19. chap. ii. 14, 15. And, besides this, he has 
led us farther into the knowledge of his divine perfections by 
his word, which he is said to have magnified above all his name, 
Psal. cxxxvii. 2. therefore having thus adapted his works and 
word, to set forth his glory, he discovers himself to be infinite 
in wisdom. («) 

(«) As knowledge is a fiicultv of which wisdom is the due exercise, the proofs of 
divine wisdom are so many evidencesof the knowledge of God. AVisdom consists 
in the choice of the best ends, and the selection of means most suital)le to attain 
them. The testimonies of the wisdom of (iod must therefore be as nnmcrous and 
various, as the woi'ksof his creation. Tlie mutual relations and subserviency of one 
tiling to another; as the heat of the sun, to produce rain ; twth, to produce vege- 
tation ; and all, to susUiin life ; ensation, respiration, digestion, muscular motion, 
the circulation of tlie fluids, and, still more, intellig'cnce, and above all, the moral 
faculty, or power of distinguishing' good and evil, are unequivocal proofs of the 
wisdom, and consequentl}- of the knowledge, of God. — He that formed the eije, 
(lot/i tie not sec : he that planted the ear, &c. 

Moi-tal artificers are deemed to und(-rstand their own work, though ignorant of 
the formation of the materials and instruments they u.se : but the Creator uses no 
mean or material which lie has not formed. He therefore knows, from the glol>e 
to the particle of dust or fluid, and from the largest living creature to the small- 
est insect. Me has knowledge equally of the other worlds of this s} stem, and 
every system ; of all things in heaven, earth, and hell. 

Our knowledge is conversant about liis works ; he know s all things which are 
known to us, and those things which have not come to our kriow ledge. 

He formed and sustahis the human mind, and knows the thoughts : this is ne- 
cessary to iiim as our Judge. He knows equally all splcitual cieatiurs, and sus- 
tains his holy spirits in holiness. 

Gur knowledge springs from things ; l)ut tilings spring from his purposes : tliev 
are, because he knows them; otherwise they existed before his kiKiwkdge, and 
so independenth' of him. 

Vol. I. ■ U 



i.y4 'IHL PERFECTIONS Of GOD. 

2. The wisdom of God appears, in that whatever he does, 'nr 
m the fittest season, and all the circumstances thereof tend to 
set forth his own honour^ and argue his foresight to be infinite- 
ly perfect :■ so that he can see no reason to wish it had been 
otherwise ordered^, or to repent thereof. For all his ways are 
judgment^ Deut. xxxii.- 4. to every thing there is a season and 
a time^ to every purpose under the heaven; and he hath made 
every thing beautiful in his thne^ Eccl. iii. 1, 11. 

For the larthcr illustrating of this, since wisdom is known 
by its effects, we shall observe some of the traces, or footsteps 
thereof in his works. And, 

(1.) In the work of creation.' As it requires infinite power 
to produce something out of nothing; so the wisdom of God 
appears in that excellent order, beauty, and harmony, that we 
observe in all the parts of the creation ; and in the subservien- 
cy of one thing to another, and the tendency thereof to pro- 
mote the moral governm.ent of God in the world, and the good 
of man, for Avhose sake this lower world was formed, that so 
it might be a convenient habitation for him, and a glorious ob- 
ject, in which he might contemplate, and thereby be led to ad- 
vance the divine perfections, which shine forth therein, as in a 
glass ; so that we have the highest reason to say, Lord^ hoxa 
manifold are thy works; in xvisdom hast thou made them all^ 
Psal. civ. 24. He hatk made the earth by his power ; he hath 
established the world by his -wisdom^ and hath stretched out the 
heavens by his discretion^ Jer. x. 1^. But since this argument 
hath been insisted on, with great ingenuity, and strength of" 
reason by others,* we shall add no more on that subject, but 
proceed to consider, 

* See JRay's Wisdom of God in the IVovks of Creatiwi, wul Derhaiii^s Phi/sico- 
Theolog-^y. See also Fenelon, Newenlyle, Paley, ur.d Adams's Philosophy. 



We know but the external appearances, he the intimate nature of thing's. We 
inquire into th^ properties of things by our senses, by comparing them, by analiz-' 
ing-^Sic: but nothing' possesses a property which he did not purpose and give ; 
otherwise his hands have wrought more than he intended. We look up through 
effects unto their causes : he looks down through intermediate causes, and sees 
them all to be effects from hi.Ti. 

We arc furni;;hed with memories to bring up ideas, being only able to contem- 
plate a part at a time ; but his comprehension embraces all thing.s. 

He never changes ; his purposes of tlie future embrace eternity : all things that 
are really future are certain, because his purposes cannot fail of accomplishment. 
But all futiu'e things to us are contingent, excep'. as iie has revealed their cer- 
taint)-. That tjie future is knowit to him, also appears by the accomplishment ot 
every prophecy. 

But man's sin receives hereby no apology. He gives the brutal creation the ca- 
"pacity of deriving- ])leasure from gratification of sen.se, and provides for such ajj- 
petites. lie ofters to man, pleasiu'es whicli are intellectual : he has tendered him 
the means, and requires man to seek his spiritual h.'ppiness in God. Wlien he rc- 
tiises and withholds his return of service from <iod, man is alone to blame. And 
llie move n'Biveroas and powerful the molivcs which he resists, the gu ill is the 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 15$ 

(2.) The wisdom of God, as appearing in the works of pro- 
vidence, in bringing about unexpected events for the good of 
mankind, and that by means that seem to have no tendency 
thereto, but rather the contrary ; this will appear in the follow- 
ing instances. As, 

l.s?, Jacob's flying from his father's house, was wisely or- 
dered, as a means not only for his escaping the fury of liis bro 
ther, and the trial of his faith, and to humble him for the sin 
ful method he took to obtain the blessing ; but also for the 
building up his familv, and encreasing his substance in the 
world, under a very unjust father-in-law and master, such as 
Laban was. 

2<//«/, Joseph's being sold into Egypt, was ordered, as a means 
of his preserving not only that land, but his father's house, from 
perishing by famine ; his imprisonment was the occasion of his 
advancement. And all this led the way to the accomplishment 
of what God had foretold relating to his people's dwelling in 
Egypt, and their wonderful deliverance from the bondage they 
were to endure therein. 

3<//£/, The wisdom of God was seen in the manner of Israelis 
deliverance out of Egypt, in that he first laid them under the 
greatest discouragements, by suffering the Egyptians to increase 
their tasks and burdens ; hardening Pharaoh's heart, that he 
might try his people's faith, and make their deliverance appear 
more remarkable ; and then plaguing the Egyptians, that he 
might punish their pride, injustice, and cruelty; and, at last^ 
giving them up to such an infatuation, as effectually procured 
their final overthrow, and his people's safety. 

Afthlif^ In leading Israel forty years in the wilderness, before 
he brought them into the promised land, that he might give therr> 
statutes and ordinances, and that they might experience various 
instances of his presence among them, by judgments and mer- 
cies, and so be prepared for all the privileges he designed for 
them, as his peculiar people, in the land of Canaan- 

Sthlif^ We have a very wonderful instance of the wisdom of 
■providence in the book of Esther; when IJaman, the enemy of 
the Jews, had obtained a decree for their desti'uction, and Mor- 
decai was first to be sacrificed to his pride and revenge, provi- 
dence turned whatever he intended agahist him, upon himself. 
There was something very remarkable in all the circumstan-r 
ces that led to it, by which the church's deliverance and ad 
vancement was brought about ; when, to an eye of reason, it 
seemed almost impossible. 

(3.) The wisdom of God appears yet more eminently, in the 



gi"eater. The divine forekno\vled}»e of this is no excuse for m:in. Wlitn the Lord 
overpowers man's evil with good, the glory of man's salvation belongs to flod. 



156 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

work of our redemption ; this is that which the angels da^'ire to 
look into^ and cannot behold without the greatest admiration ; 
for herem God's manifold wisdom is displayed, 1 Pet. i. 12. 
Eph. iii. 10. This solves the difficulty, contained in a former 
dispensation of providence, respecting God's sutFering sin to 
enter into the work), which he could have prevented, and pro- 
bably >vould Jiave done, had he not designed to over-rule it, 
for the bringing about the work of our redemption by Christ ; 
so that what we lost in our first head, should be recovered 
with great advantage in our second, the Lord from heaven. 

But though tliis matter was determined in the eternal cove- 
nant, betwfcn tiie Fadier and the Son, and the necessity of 
man seemed to require that Christ should be immediately in- 
carnate, as soon as man fell, yet it was deferred till inany ages 
after ; and herein the wisdom of God eminently appeared. For, 

\st^ God hereby tried the faith and patience of his chuixh, 
' and put them upon waiting for, and depending on him, who 
was to come ; so that though they had not received this pro- 
mised blessing, yet thty saxv it afar off; rvere ■permaded of and 
embraced it^ and, with Abraham^ rejoiced to see his day^ though 
at a great distance, Heb. xi. 13. John viii. 56. and hereby they 
glorified the faithfulness of God, and depended on his word, 
that the work of redemption should be brought about, as cer- 
tainly, as though it had been actually accomplished. 

2dly^ Our Saviour, in the mean time took occasion to dis- 
play his own glory, as the Lord, and Governor of his church, 
even before his incarnation, to whom he often appeared in a 
human form, assumed tor that purpose, as a prelibation there- 
of; so that they had the greatest reason, from hence, to expect 
his coming in our nature. 

Srdly^ The time of Christ's coming in the flesh, was such 
as appeared most seasonable ; when the state of the church was 
very low, religion almost lost amon^- thein, and the darkness 
they were under, exceeding great; which made it very neces- 
sary that the Messiah should come : when iniquity almost uni- 
versally prevailed among them, then the deliverer must come 
out of Sion^ and turn axvai^ ungodliness from facob^ Rom. xi. 
26. and when the darkness of the night was greatest, it was the 
most proper time for the Sun of Righteousness to arise with 
healing in his zvings^ Mai. iv. 2. compared with Matt. iv. 16. 

(4.) The M-isdom of God farther appears in the various 
methods he has taken in the government of his church, before 
and since the coming of Christ. For, 

Ist^ God at first, as has been before observed,] left his church 
without a written word, till Moses's time, that he might take 
occasion to converse with them more immediately, as an in- 

■\ .See Pag-o 46. 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 1.57 

Stance of infinite condescension ; and to shew them, that though 
they had no such method of knowing his revealed will as -we 
have, yet that he could communicate his mind to them another 
way ; and, when the necessity of affairs required it, then his 
wisdom was seen in taking this method to propagate religion 
in the world. 

2dly^ When God designed to govern his church by those 
rules, which he hath laid down in scripture, he revealed the 
great doctrines contained therein, in a gradual way ; so that the 
dispensation of his providence towards them, was like the light 
of the morning, increasing to a perfect day : he first instructed 
them by various types and shado^\'s, leading them into the 
knowledge of the gospel, which was afterwards to be more 
clearly revealed : he taught them, as they were able to bear it, 
like children growing in knowledge, till they arrive to a per- 
fect manhood : he first gave them grounds to expect the bless- 
ings vv'hich he would bestow in afler-ages, by the manifold pre- 
dictions thereof; and afterwards glorified his faithfulness iri 
their accomplishment. 

3(f/i/, He sometimes governed them in a more immediate' 
way, and confirmed their faith, as was then necessary, by mi- 
racles ; and also raised up prophets, as occasion served, whona 
he furnished, in an extraordinary way, for the service to vvhich 
he called them, to lead his church into the knowledge of those 
truths, on which their faith was built. 

And, to this we may add, that he gave them various other 
helps for their faith, by those common and ordinary means ot 
grace, which they were favoured with, and which the gospel 
church now enjoys, and has ground to conclude that they will 
be continued until Christ's second coming. Here we might take 
occasion to consider how the wisdom of God appears in fur- 
nishing his church with a gospel-ministry, and how the manage- 
ment thereof is adapted to the necessities of his people ; in em- 
ploying such about this work, who are duly qualified for it, 
assisting them in the discharge thereof, and succeeding their 
humble endeavours ; and all this in such a way, as that the 
praise shall redound to himself, who builds his house, and bears 
the glory ; but this we may have occasion to insist on in a fol- 
lowing part of this work."* 

(5.) The wisdom of God appears in the method he takes to 
preserve, propagate, and build up his church in the world. 
Therefore, 

\st^ As his kingdom is not of this world, but of a spiritual 
nature, so he hath ordered that it shall not be jiromoted by those 
• methods of violence, or carnal polic}', bv which the seculai- in- 
terests of men are oft-times athanced. He has no where ap- 
* See Quest, clvi. aiid clvii. 



158 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

pointed that wars should be proclaimed to propagate the faith, 
or that persons should be forced to embrace it against their 
wills, or be listed under Christ's banner, by bribery, or a pros- 
pect of worldly advantage ; therefore all the success the gospel 
has had, which is worthy to be called success, has been such 
as is agreeable to the spirituality of Christ's kingdom ; thus his 
house is to be built, 7iot by mighty nor by power^ but by his 
Spirit^ Zech. iv. 6. 

2i//«/, That the church should flourish under persecution, and 
those methods which its enemies take to ruin it, should be over- 
ruled, to its greater advantage ; and that hereby shame and dis- 
appointment should attend every weapon that is formed against 
Sion, as being without success ; and that the church should ap- 
pear more eminently to be the care of God, when it meets with 
the most injurious treatment from men, is a plain proof of the 
glory of this attribute : and, on the other hand, that its flourish- 
ing state, as to outward things, should not be always attended 
with the like marks or evidences of the divine favour, in what 
more immediately respects salvation, is an instance of the di- 
vine wisdom, as God hereby puts his people on setting the 
highest value on those things that are most excellent; and not 
to reckon themselves most happy in the enjo}^ment of the good 
things of this life, when they are destitute of his special pre- 
sence with them. 

odly^ The preserving the rising generation from the vile 
abominations that there are in the world, especially the seed of 
believers, and calling many of them by his grace, that so there 
may be a constant reserve of those, who may be added to his 
church, as others, who have served their generation, are called 
out of it, which is a necessary expedient for the preserving his 
interest in the world : in this the wisdom of God is eminently 
glorified, as well as his other perfections. 

From what has been said concerning the wisdom of God, 
we may infer, 

1. That none can be said to meditate aright on the works 
of God, such as creation, providence, or redemption, who do 
not behold and admire his manifold wisdom displayed therein, 
as well as his other perfections. As we conclude him a very 
unskilful observer of a curious picture or statue, who only takes 
notice of its dimensions in general, or the matter of which it is 
composed, without considering the symmetry and proportion 
of all the parts thereof, and those other excellencies, by which 
the artist has signalized his skill; so it is below a Christian to 
be able only to say, that there are such works done in the 
world, or to have a general idea of its being governed by pro- 
vidence, without having his thoughts suitably affected with th^^^' 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 159 

harmonious subsen'iency of things, and the design of all to set 
forth the glory of him, who is a God of infinite wisdom. 

2. li' we cannot understand the meaning of some particular 
dispensations of providence, so as to admire the wisdom of 
God therein, let us compare all the parts of providence to- 
gether, and one will illustrate and add a beauty to another, as 
our Saviour says to Peter, What I do thou knoxvest not noxi\ 
but thou shalt knoiv hereafter^ John xiii. 7. therefore let us com- 
pare the various dark dispensations, which the church of God 
is under at one time, with the glory that shall be put upon it 
at another. 

3. From the displays of the wisdom of God in all his works, 
let us learn humility, under a sense of our own folly : thus the 
Psalmist takes occasion to express his low thoughts of man- 
kind in general, and says, What is man^ that thou art mindful of 
him ? when he had been meditating on the glory of some; 
other parts of his creation, which he calls, The -work of his fin- 
gers^ Psal. viii. 3, 4. that is, creatures, in which his wisdom is 
displayed in a very eminent degree. But, besides this, w^e may 
take occasion to have a humble sense of our own folly; that is, 
our defect of wisdom ; since it is but a little of God that is 
known by us, and the wonderful effects of divine wisdom ai-e 
known but in part by us, who dwell in houses of clay. 

4. Let us subject our understandings to God, and have a 
high veneration for his word, in which his wisdom is displayed, 
which he has ordained, as the means whereby we may be made 
wise unto salvation ; and whatever incomprehensible mysteries 
we find contained therein, let us not reject or despise them be- 
cause we cannot comprehend them. 

5. Since God is infinite in wisdom, let us seek wisdom of 
him, according to the apostle's advice. If any of you lack wis- 
fifo?n, let him ask it of God^ that giveth to all men liberally^ and 
upbraideth not ; and it shall be given him^ James i. 5. 

XII. God is most holy, or infinite in holiness, which is es- 
sential to him : thus he is often styled, The Holy One of Israel^ 
Isa. i. 4. and this attribute is thrice repeated by the seraphim, 
■who, with the utmost reverence and adoration, cried^ one unto 
another^ Holy^ holy^ holy^ is the Lord of hosts^ chap. vi. 3. And 
he is said to be holy, exclusively of all others, as this is a di- 
vine perfection, and as he is infinitely and independently so, 
Lord, thou only art holy. Rev. xv. 4. and the reason of this 
is assigned, to wit, because he is the only God ; holiness is his 
very nature and essence ; There is none holy as the Lord, for 
there is none besides hi??:, 1 Sam. ii. 2. In considering this di- 
vine perfection, we shall enquire, 

1. What we are to understand by it. Holiness is that where- 
fSy he is infinitely opposite to every thing that tends to reflect 



160 THE pj:rfections of god. 

dishonour, or reproach, on his divine perfections ; and espe- 
cially as he is infinitely opposite in his nature, will, and works, 
to all moral impurity ; as his power is opposed to ail natural 
weakness, his wisdom to the least defect of understanding or 
folly, so his holiness is opposed to all moral blemishes, or im- 
perfections, which we call sin ; so that it is not so much one 
single perfection, as the harmony of all his perfections, as they 
are opposed to sin ; and therefore it is called, The beauty of 
the Lord, Psal. xxvii. 4. and when the Psalmist pravs that the 
church may be made and dealt with as an holy people, he says, 
Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, Psal. xc. 17. It 
is that which, ii we may so express it, adds a lustre to all his 
other perfections ; so that if he were not glorious in holiness, 
whatever else might be said of him, would tend rather to his 
dishonour than his glory, and the beauty of his perfections 
would be so sullied that they could not be called divine : as 
holiness is the brightest part of the image of God in man, 
without which nothing could be mentioned concerning him, 
but what turns to his reproach, his wisdom would deserve no 
better a name than that of subtilty, his power destructive and 
injurious, his zeal furious madness ; so if we separate holiness 
from the divine nature, all other excellencies would be inglori- 
ous, because impure. 

2. We proceed to consider the holiness of God, as glorified 
<>r demonstrated in various instances. 

(1.) In his works. This perfection was as eminently display- 
ed in the work of creation, especially that of angels and men, 
as his power, wisdom, and goodness ; for he made them with a 
perfect rectitude of nature, without the least spot or propensity 
to sin, and with a power to retain it ; so that there was no natu- 
ral necessity laid on them to sin, which might infer God to be 
the author of it : and furthermore, as a moral expedient to pre- 
vent it, as well as to assert his own sovereignty, he gave them 
a law, which was holy, as well as just and good, and warned 
them of those dreadful consequences that would ensue on the 
\'iolation thereof; as it would render them unholy, deprive them 
of his image, and consequentl)- separate them from him, and 
render them the objects of his abhorrence ; and, to this we ma}- 
add, that his end in making all other things was, that his intel- 
ligent creatures might actively glorify him, and be induced to 
holiness. 

(2.) This divine perfection appears likewise in the govern- 
ment of the world, and of the church, in all the dispensations 
of his providence, either in a wav of judgment, or of mercy; 
therefore he shews his displeasure against nothing but sin, 
which is the only thing that renders creatures the objects ol 
punishment, and all the blessings he bestows are a motive to 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 16t 

holiness. As for his people, whom he hath the greatest regard 
to, they are described, as called to be saints^ 1 Cor. i, 2, and it 
is said of the church of Israel, that it was holiness unto the 
Lord^ Jer. ii. 3. and all his ordinances arc holy, and to be en- 
gaged in with such a frame of spirit, as is agreeable thereunto : 
thus he says, I -will be sanctijied in them that come nig'h we, 
Lev. X. 3. and holiness becometh his house for ever^ Psal. xciii» 
5. In like manner, we are to take an estimate of the succes:} 
thereof, when, through the divine blessing accompanving them, 
they tend to promote internal holiness in those who are en* 
gaged therein, whereby they are distinguished from the rest of 
the world, and sanctijied by his truth^ John xvii. 17. 

Object, It may be objected by some, that God's suffering sin 
to enter into the world, which he might have prevented, was a 
reflection cast on his holiness. 

Ans7v. It must be allowed, that God might have prevented 
the first entrance of sin into the worl^, by his immediate inter- 
posure, and so have kept man upright, as M^ell as made him so j 
yet let it be considered, that he v/as not obliged to do this ; and 
therefore might, without any reflection on his holiness, leave an 
innocent creature to the conduct of his own free-will, which 
might be tempted, but not forced, to sin, especially since he de- 
signed to over-rule the event hereof, for the setting forth the 
glory of all his perfections, and, in an eminent degree, that of 
his holiness ; but this will more particularly be considered un- 
der some following answers.* 

From what has been said concerning the holiness of God, let 
us take occasion to behold and admire the beauty and glory 
thereof, in all the divine dispensations, as he can neither do, 
nor enjoin any thing but what sets forth his infinite purity ; 
therefore, 

1. As he cannot be the author of sin, so Vv^e must take heed 
that we do not advance any doctrines from whence this conse- 
quence may be inferred ; this ought to be the standard by which 
they are to be tried, as we shall take occasion to observe in 
several instances, and think ourselves as much concerned to ad- 
vance the glory of this perfection, as of any other : notwith- 
standing it is one thing for persons to militate against what ap^ 
pears to be a truth, by alleging this popular objectiou, that it 
is contrary to the holiness of God, and another thing to sup- 
port the charge ; this will be particularly considered, when 
such-like objections, Ijrought against the doctrine of predesti- 
nation, and several other doctrines, are ansvv^ered in their pro- 
per place. 

2. It is an excellency, beauty, and glory, in the Christian re- 
ligion, which should make us more in love with, it, that it leads 

' Quest, xvl. xvH. x.iri. a?ul J\r- 

Vol. I. X ' 



162 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

to holiness, which was the image of God in man. All other 
religions have indulged, led to, or dispensed with many impu- 
rities, as may be observed in those of the Mahometans and 
Pagans ; and the different religions, professed b)' them Avho are 
called Christians, are to be judged more or less vaUiable, and 
accordingly to be embraced or rejected, as they tend more or 
less to promote holiness. And here I cannot but observe, that 
it is a singular excellency of the Protestant religion above the 
Popish, that all its doctrines and precepts have a tendency 
thereunto ; whereas the other admits of, dispenses with, and 
gives countenance to manifold impurities ; as will appear, if 
we consider some of the doctrines held by them, which lead to 
licentiousness. As, 

(1.) That some sins are, in their own nature, so small, that 
they do not deserve eternal punishment, and therefore that sa- 
tisfaction is to be made for them, by undergoing some penan- 
ces enjoined them by the priest; upon which condition, he gives 
them absolurion, and so discharges them from anv farther con- 
cern about them ; which is certainlv subversive of holiness, as 
well as contrary to scripture, which savs. The wages of sin is 
deaths Rom. vi. 23. the word of God knows no distinction be- 
tween mortal and venial sins, especially in the sense which they 
give thereof. 

(2.) The doctrine of indulgences and dispensations to sin, 
given forth at a certain rate. This was a great matter of offence 
to those who took occasion, for it, among other reasons, to 
separate from them in the beginning of the reformation, where- 
by they gave glory to the holiness of God, in expressing a just 
indignation against such vile practices. It is true the Papists 
allege, in defence thereof, that it is done in compassion to those, 
^v•hose natural temj^er leads them, with impetuous violence, to 
those sins, which they dispense with ; and that this is, in some 
respects, necessary, in as much as the temptations of some, ari- 
sing from their condition in the world, are greater than what 
others are liable to. But none of these things will exempt a 
a person from the guilt of sin, much less warrant the practice 
of those, who hereby encourage them to commit it. 

(3.) Another doctrine maintained by them is, that the law of 
God, as conformed to human laws, respects only outward, or 
overt-acts, as they are generally called, and not the heart, or 
principle, from ^^ hence they proceed ; and therefore that con- 
cupiscence, or the corruption of nature, which is the impure 
fountain, from v>' hence all sins proceed, comes not under the 
cognisance of the divine law, nor exposes us to any degree of 
punishment ; and that either because they suppose it unavoida- 
ble, or else because every sin is an act, and not a habit, the 
off-spring, or effect of lust, which, when (as they pervert the 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOl). 163 

words of the apostle) it has coiiceived^ brings forth sin ; and 
siHy xvheJi it is finished^ bringeth'forth death^ James i. 15. where- 
as the spring of defiled actions is, in reality, more corrupt and 
abominable than the actions themselves, how much soever ac- 
tual sins may be supposed to be more scandalous and pernicious 
to the world, as they are more visible ; if the fruit be corrupt, 
the tree that brings forth must be much more so ; and though 
this is not so discernible by others, yet it is abhorred and pun- 
ished by a jealous God, who searches the heart and the reins; 
therefore this doctrine is contrary to his holiness. 

(4.) The merit of good works, and our justification thereby, 
is a reflection on this divine perfection ;, as it makes way tor 
boasting, and is inconsistent with that humility, which is the 
main ingredient in holiness ; and casts the highest reflection on 
Christ's satisfaction, which is the greatest expedient for the set- 
ting foith the holiness of God, as it argues it not to have been 
absolutely necessary, and substitutes our imperfect works in 
the room thereof. , 

(5.) Another doctrine, which is contrary to the holiness of 
God, is that of purgatory, and prayers for the dead, which they 
are as tenacious of, as Demetrius, and his fellow-craftsmen, 
v/ere of the image of Diana, at Ephesus, the destruction where- 
of would endanger their craft, Acts xix. 25, 27. so, if this doc- 
trine should be disregarded, it would bring no small detriment 
to them. But that which renders it most abominable, is, that 
it extenuates the demerit of sin, and supposes it possible for 
others to do that for them by their prayers, which they neglect- 
ed to do whilst they were alive, who, from this presumptuous 
supposition, did not see an absolute necessity of holiness to sal- 
vation. These, and many other doctrines, which might have 
been mentioned, cast the highest reflection on the holiness of 
God, and not only evince the justice and necessity of the refor- 
mation, but oblige, us to maintain the contrary doctrines. 

If it be objected, by way of reprisal, that there are many doc- 
trines, which we maintain, that lead to licentiousness, I hope 
we shall be able to exculpate ourselves ; but this we reserve for 
its proper place, that we may avoid the repetition of things, 
which we shall be obliged to insist on elsewhere. 

3. Let us not practically deny, or cast contempt on this di- 
vine perfection ; which we may be said to do. 

(1.) When we live without God in the world, as though we 
were under no obligation to holiness. I'he purity of the divine 
nature is proposed in scripture, not only as a motive, but, so fur 
as conformity to it is possible, as an exemplar of holiness : and 
therefore we are exhorted to be holv, not onlv because he is 
holy^ but as he is holy^ 1 Pet. i. 15, 16. or so far as the image 
of 'God in man consists therein : therefore thev who live with- 



it)4- TII£ PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

out God in the Avorld, being alienated from his /ijc, \iz.Jii8 ho- 
liness^ and g-ivin^ themselves over unto lascivionsness, to work 
all uncleanness ivHh greediness^ regard not the holiness of his 
nature or law. These sin presumptuously, and accordingly, are 
Slid to reproach the Lord^ Numb. xv. 30. as though he was a 
God that had pleasure in wickedness ; or if they conclude him 
to be infinitely offended with it, thev regard not the conse- 
quence of being the objects of his displeasure, and fieiy indig- 
nation. 

(2.) Men reflect on the holiness of God when they complain 
6f religion, as though it were too strict and severe a thing ; a 
yoke that sits very uneasy upon them, which they resolve to 
keep at the greatest distance from, especially unless they may 
have some abatements made, or indulgence given, to live in the" 
commission of some beloved lusts. These cannot bear a faith- 
ful reprover : thus Ahab hated Alicaiah, because he did not pro- 
phesy good concerning hirn^ but evil ; and the people did not 
like to hear of the holiness of God ; thei-efore they desire that 
the prophets would cause the Holy One of Israel to cease before 
them^ Isa. xxx. 11. and to this we mav add, 

(3.) They do, in effect, deny or despise this attribute, who 
entertain an enmity or prejudice against holiness in others, 
whose conversation is not only blamt less, but exemplary ; such 
make use of the word saint, as a term of reproach, as though 
holiness were not only a worthless thing, but a blemish or dis- 
paragement to the nature of man, a stain on his character, and 
to be avoided by all who have any regard to their reputation^ 
or, at least as though religion were no other than hypocrisy, and 
much more so, when it shines brightest in the conversation of 
those wIk) esteem it their greatest ornament. What is this, but 
to spurn at the holiness of God, by endeavouring to bring that 
into contempt, which is his image and delight ? 

XIII. God is most just. This attribute differs but little 
from that of holiness, though sometinves they are thus distin- 
guished ; as holiness is the contrariety, or opposition of his na- 
ture to sin, justice is an eternal and visible display thereof ; and, 
in particular, when God is said to be just, he is considered as 
the governor of the world ; and therefore when he appears in 
the glory of his justice,, he bears the character of a judge ; ac- 
cordingly it is said concerning him, Shall not the Judge of all 
the earth do right? Gen. xviiu 25. and he is said, without re- 
spect cf persons^ to judge according to every 7nan'^s ivork^ 1 Pet. 
i. 17. Now the justice of God is sometimes taken for his faith- 
fulness, M-hich is a doing justice to his word; but this will be 
•more particularlv considered, when we speak of him as abun- 
dant in truth. But, according to the most common and known 
sense of the word, it is taken either for his disposing, or his dis- 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 165 

ti'ibutlve justice ; the former is that whereby his holiness shines 
forth in all the dispensations of his providence, as all his ways 
are equal, of what kind soever they be ; the latter, to wit, his 
distributive justice, consists either in rewarding or punishing, 
and so is styled either remunerative or vindictive ; in these two 
respects, we shall more particularly consider this attribute. 

1. The justice of God, as giving rewards to his creatures ; 
this he may be said to do, without supposing the persons, who 
are the subjects thereof, to have done any thing by which they 
have merited them : we often find, in scripture, that the hea- 
venly glory is set forth as a reward. Mat. x. 41, 42. and 1 Cor. 
iii. 14. and it is called, a crown of righteousness^ which the Lord^ 
the righteous judge ^ shall give at that day^ 2 Tim. iv. 8. to wit, 
when he appears, in the glory of his justice, to judge the world 
in righteousness ; and it is also said, that it is a righteous thing 
xvith God to recompense to his people who are troubled^ rest^ 
when the Lord shall be revealed from heaven^ 2 Thess. i. 6. 7. 
But, for the understanding such like expressions, I humbly con- 
ceive, that they import the necessary and inseparable connex- 
ion that there is between grace wrought in us, and glory con- 
ferred upon us : it is called, indeed, a reward, or a crown of 
righteousness, to encourage us to duty ; but, without supposing 
that, what we do has any thing meritorious in it. If we our- 
selves are less than the least of all God's mercies, then the best 
actions put forth by us must be so, for the action cannot have 
more honour ascribed to it than the agent ; or if, as our Saviour 
says, when 7i>e have done all, we ?nust say, xue are improfitable 
servants, Luke xvii. 10. and that sincerely, and not in a way of 
compliment, as some Popish writers understand it, consistently 
with their doctrine of the merit of good works, we must con- 
clude that it is a reward not of debt, but of grace ; and therefore 
the word is taken in a less proper sense. It is not a bestowing 
a blessing purchased by us, but for us ; Christ is the purchaser, 
we are the receivers ; it is strictly and properly the reward of 
his merit, but, in its application, the gift of his grace. 

2. There is his vindictive justice, whereby he punishes sin, 
as im injury offered to his divine perfections, an affront to his 
sovereignty, a reflection on his holiness, and a violation of his 
law, for which he demands satisfaction, and inflicts punishment, 
proportioned to the nature of the crime, which he continues to 
do, till satisfaction be given : this is called, his visiting iniquity, 
Deut. V. 9. or visiting for it, Jer. v. 0. and it is also called, his 
setting his face against a person, and cutting him ojffro.n 
amongst his people. Lev. xvii. 10. and when he does this, his 
wrath is compared to flames of fire ; it is called. The f re of his 
jealousy, Zeph. i. 18. and they, who are the objects hereof, arr 



166 THE PERFF.CTIONS OF GOD. 

soxd to fall into the hands of the living God^ who is a coyisiiming' 
fre^ Heb. X. 31. compared with chap. xii. 29. 

But that we may farther consider how God glorifies this per- 
fection, and thereby shews his infinite h3,tred of sin, we may ob- 
serve, 

(1.) An eminent instance thereof in his inflicting that pun- 
ishment that was due to our sins, on the person of Christ our 
Surety. It was, indeed, the highest act of condescending grace 
that he was willing to be charged with, or to have the iniquity 
of his people laid upon him ; but it was the greatest display of 
vindictive justice, that he was accordingly punished for it, as 
he is said to be made sin for us^ Tvho knew no sin^ 2 Cor. v. 21. 
and accordingly God gives a commission to the sword of his 
justice, to awake and exert itself, in an uncommon manner, 
against him, the man his fellozv, Zech. xiii. 7. In this instance, 
satisfaction is not only demanded, but fully given, in which it 
differs from all the other displays of vindictive justice ; but of 
this, more wnll be considered under some following answers.* 

(2.) The vindictive justice of God punishes sin in the per- 
sons of finally impenitent sinners in hell, where a demand of 
satisfaction is perpetually made, but can never be given, which 
is the reason of the eternity of the punishment inflicted, which 
is called, everlastirig destruction^ from the presence of the Lord^ 
and from the glory of his power ^ 2 Thes. i. 9. this we shall also 
have occasion to insist on more largely, under a following an- 
answer.f 

In these two instances, punishment is taken in a strict and 
proper sense : but there is, indeed, another sense, in which ma- 
ny evils are inflicted for sins committed, which, though fre- 
quently called punishments, yet the word is taken in a less pro- 
per sense, to wit, when believers, who are justified upon the 
account of the satisfaction which Christ has given for their 
sins, are said to be punished for them; as when it is said, 
Thoit^ our God^ hast punished us less than our ifiiquities de- 
serve^ Ezra ix. 13. and if his children forsake my law^ and keep 
not my czunmandments^ then will I visit their transgression 
roith the rod, and their iniquity zvith stripes; nevertheless, my 
loving kindness xvill I not utterly take from him, Psal. Ixxxix. 
30, — ^31. and the prophet, speaking of some, for whom God 
would execute judgment, and be favourable to them in the end, 
so that they should behold his righteousness ; yet he represents 
them, as bearing the indignatio7i of the Lord, because they had 
sinned against him, Micah vii. 9. And, as these evils are ex- 
ceedingly afflictive, being oftentimes attended with a sad ap- 
prehension and fear of the wrath of God ; so they are called 

* T/if Qiir':'. .rliv. andlxxi. ■\ Quest. xxix. and Ixxix. 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 167 

punishments, because sin is the cause of them : yet they differ 
from punishment in its most proper sense, as but now mention- 
ed, in that, though justice inflicts evils on them for sin, yet it 
doth not herein demand satisfaction, for that is supposed to 
have been given, inasmuch as they are considered as justified; 
and, to speak with reverence, it is not agreeable to the nature 
of justice to demand satisfaction twice. Nevertheless, it is one 
thing for God really to demand it, and another thing for be- 
lievers to apprehend or conclude that such a demand is made ; 
this they may often do, as questioning whether they are believ- 
ers, or in a justified state : however, God's design, in these af- 
flictive dispensations, is to humble them greatly, and shew them 
the demerit of sin, whatever he determines shall be the conse- 
quence thereof. 

Moreover, the persons, who are the subjects of this punisli- 
ment, are considered not as enemies, but as children, and there- 
fore the objects of his love, at the same time that his hand is 
heavy upon them ; for which reason some ha\e called them cas- 
tigatory punishments, agreeably to what the apostle saith. Whom 
the Lord loveth he chasteneth ; and that herein he dealcih xv'ith 
them as xvith so7is^ Heb. xii. 6, 7. 

From what has been said, concerning the justice of God in 
rewarding or punishing, we may infer, 

1. Since the heavenly blessedness is called a reward, to de- 
note its connexion with grace and duty, let no one presumptu- 
ously expect one without the other : the crown is not to be put 
upon the head of any one, but him that runs the Christian 
race ; and it is a certain truth, that xvithout holiness no nuni 
shall see the Lord^ chap. xii. 14. 

And, on the other hand, as this is a reward of grace, found- 
ed on Christ's purchase, let us take heed that we do not as- 
cribe that to our performances, which is wholly founded on 
Christ's merit. Let every thing that may be reckoned a spur 
to diligence, in the idea of a reward, be apprehended and im- 
proved by us, to quicken and excite us to duty ; but whatever 
there is of praise and glory therein, let that be ascribed to 
Christ ; so that when we consider the heavenly blessedness in 
this view, let us say, as the angels, together v/ith that blessed 
company who are joined with them, are represented, speaking, 
Worthy is the Lamb that xvas slain^ to receive poxver^ riches^ 
xvisdom^ and strength^ and honour^ and glorii^ and blessings Re^ . 
v. 12. It is the price that he jiaid which gives it the character 
of a reward and therefore the glory of it is to be ascribed to 
him. 

2. From what has been said concerning the vindictive jus- 
, tice of God inflicting punishments on his enemies, let us learn 



168 rH£ PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

the evil and heinous nature of sin, and so take warning thereby, 
that we may not expose ourselves to the same or like judg- 
ments. How deplorable is the condition of those, who have 
contracted a debt for which they can never satisfy ! who are 
said, to drink of the xvratli of the Almighty ^rvhich is poured out,, 
•without mixture^ into the cup of his indignation^ Job xxi. 20. 
compared with Rev. xiv. 10. This should induce us to fly 
from the wrath to come, and to make a right improvement of 
the price of redemption which was given by Christ, to deliver 
his people from it. 

3. Believers, who are delivered from the vindictive justice 
of God, have the highest reason for thankfulness ; and it is a 
very great encouragement to them, under all the afflictive evils, 
which they endure, that the most bitter ingredients are taken 
out of them. It is true, they are not in themselves joyous^ but 
grievous ; nevertheless^ aftenvards they yield the peaceable fruit 
of righteousness to them^ who are exercised thereby^ Heb. xii. 
11. and let us not presume without ground, but give diligence, 
that we may conclude that these are the dispensations of a re- 
conciled Father, who corrects with judgment not in anger., lest 
he should bring us to nothings Jer. x. 24. It wull afford great 
matter of comfort, if we can say, that he is, at the same time, a 
just God^ and a Saviour^ Isa. xlv. 21. and, as one observes, 
though he punishes for sin, yet it is not with the punishment of 
sin. 

XIV. God is most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, 
and abundant in goodness, all which perfections are mentioned 
together in Exod. xxxiv. 7. and we shall first consider his 
goodness, which, in some respects, includes the other, though 
in others it is distin crushed froin them, as will be more parti- 
cularly observed. This being one of his communicable perfec- 
tions, we may conceive of it, by comparing it with that good- 
ness which is in the creature, while we separate from it all the 
imperfections thereof, by which means we may arrive to some 
idea of it. 

Therefore persons are denominated good, as having all those 
perfections that belong to their nature, which is the most large 
and extensive sense of goodness ; or else it is taken in a moral 
sense, and so it consists in the rectitude of their nature, as we 
call a holv man a good man ; or lastly, it is taken for one who 
is beneficent, or communicatively good, and so it is the same 
with benignit^'. Now to apply this to the goodness of God, it 
either includes in it all his perfections, or his holiness in par- 
ticular, or else his being disposed to impart or communicate 
t+iose blessings to his creatures, that they stand in need of, in 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 1G9 

■which sense we are here to understand it as distinguished from 
his other perfections. 

This goodness of God supposes that he has, in himself, an 
infinite and inexhaustible treasure of all blessedness, enough to 
fill all things, and to make his creatures completely happy. 
This he had from all eternity, before there was any object in 
which it might be displayed, or any act of power put forth to 
produce one. It is this the Psalmist intends, when he says, 
Psal. cxix. 68. Thoii art good^ and when he adds, thou doest 
good; as the former implies his being good in himself, the lat- 
ter denotes his being so to his creatures. 

Before we treat of this perfection in particular, we shall ob- 
serve the difference that there is between goodness, mercy, 
gi*ace, and patience, which, though they all are included in the 
divine benignity, and imply in them the communication of 
some favours that tend to the creatures advantage, as well as 
the glory of God, yet they may be distinguished with respect 
to the objects thereof: thus goodness considers its object, as 
indigent and destitute of all things, and so it communicates 
those blessings that it stands in need of. Mercy considers its 
object as miserable, therefore, though an innocent creature be 
the object of the divine bounty and goodness, it is only a fall- 
en, miserable, and undone creature, that is an object of com- 
passion. And grace is mercy displayed freely, therefore its 
object is considered not only as miserable, but unworthy; how- 
ever, though the sinner's misery, and worthiness of pity, may 
be distinguished, these two ideas cannot be separated, inas- 
much as that which renders him miserable, denominates him 
at the same time guilty, since misery is inseparably connected 
with guilt, and no one is miserable as a creature, but as a sin- 
ner ; therefore we are considered as unworthy of mercy, and 
so the objects of divine grace, which is mercy extended freely, 
to those who have rendered themselves unworthy of it. And 
patience, or long-suffering, is the suspending deserved fury, 
or the continuing to bestow underserved favours, a lengthen- 
ihg out of our tranquillit)' ; these attributes are to be consider- 
ed in particular. And, 

1. Of the goodness of God. As God was infinite in power 
from all eternity, before there was any display thereof, or act 
of omnipotcncy put forth ; he was eternally good, before there 
was any comnumication of his bounty, or any creature, to 
which it might be imparted > so that the first display of this 
perfection was in giving being to all things, which were the ob- 
jects of his bounty and goodness, as well as the effects of his 
power; and all the excellencies, or advantages, which oiie 
creature hath above another,are as so many streams flowing from 

Vol. I. Y 



170 THE PERtECTIONS OF GOD. 

this fountain, He giveth to all, life and breathy and all things^ 
Acts xvii. 25. (a) 

2. The mercy of God, which considers its object as misera- 
ble, is illustrated by all those distressing circumstances, that 
tender sinners the objects of compassion. Are all, by nature, 
bond-slaves to sin and Satan ? It is mercy that sets them free, 
delivers them, xoho, through fear of death, "were all their hfe- 
t'lme subject to bondage, Heb. ii. 15. Are we ail, by nature, 
dead in sin, unable to do what is spiritually good, alienated 
from the life of God ? Was our condition miserable, as being, 
without God in the world, and without hope ; like the poor 
infant, mentioned by the prophet, cast out in the open field, to 

.'.UL ■ . ■ . . , I I ■. .j_a 

(a) All the good which we behold in Cre.ition, Providence, ;.nd redemption, 
flows irom goodness m God, and arc the proofs of this attribute. If all tlie evil, 
which we discovei-, sprmgs from the liberty given to creature;' to conform, or 
not, to the reve.ded will ; or if all moral evii be productive of good, tlie remaind- 
er being restrained^ then the evil, which exists, is no exception to the proofs of 
Divine goodness. What Deity now is, he always was ; he has not derived his 
g'oodnebs ; he is not a compounded being ; his goodness therefore belongs to his 
essence. His goodness has been distinguished into immanent and communivative. 
The latter discovers to us the former, but his communicative goodness, tliough 
flowing ill ten thousimd streams, and incalculable, is less than his munanent, 
which is £01 eternal fountain of excellency. 

Infinite knowledge discerns things as they are, and a perfect being will esteem 
that to be best, which is so ; God therefore discerns, and esteems his own imma- 
nent goodness as infinitely exceeding all tlie good, which appeai-s in his works, 
for the excellency in these is but ;ui imperfect representation of himself. The 
happiness oi Ueity must coi^ist consequently in his own self-complacency; he 
made all things for his pkusure, or glory, but they are only so far pleasing, as they 
reflect his own pictm-e to himself. Yet when we suppose Deity to be the sub- 
ject of motives, we are ever m danger of errir\g. 

Divine communicative goodness has been termed benevolencewhtn in intention, 
beneficence when carried into effect. This is nearly the same as moral rectitude^ 
because the government of the Universe must, that it may produce the good" of 
the whole, be administered in righteousness. The correct administration of jus- 
tice in rewarding every good, if there be merit in a creatiu-e, iiiid punishing 
every evil i» no less an effect of benevolence, than the confeiring of benefits, 
which are purely gi-atuitous. In like manner the punisliment of offenders in civil 
society has for its object general utility, whether we imagine the power which 
judges and inflicts, to spring from the social compact, or to have been ordained 
of ( u)d. 

The cutting off of flagrant offenders, as by the deluge, the destruction of 
Sodom, &c. has been obviously designed to prevent the spreading contagion of 
sin. But there is a time appointetl, luito which all things are tending, and unto 
which men generally refer the wrongs they sustain, in which perfect justice shall 
be administered. Some attributes of Deity seem to be ground of terror, and 
others of love; but God is one; he is subject to no perturbation of mind ; liis 
wrath and indignation are but other terms for his steady and unchangeable 
goodness, bearing dowr the evil, whicli sinful creatures oppose to his purposes 
of general advantage. Those acts of justice \\'hich are accounted by the guilty 
to, be unnecessary severity, are deemed, by glorified siiints and angels, the effects 
of that goodness, which they make the subject of their Hallelujalis. Thus the 
highe'^t proof of God's g\iodness consisted in his not sparing his own Son, nor 
abating any thmg from the demands of his law. After this all hopes tluit Dijviiie 
goodness shall fuvQUi- tlie finally impenitent must be utterly vain. 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. l^!! 

the loathing of our persons^ xvhom no eye pitied P it was mercy 
that said to its^ live^ Ezek. xvi. 4, 5, 6. accordingly God is 
said to have remembered us in our low estate^ for his mercy en- 
durethfor ever, Psal. cxxxvi. 23. 

The mercy of God is either common or special ; common 
mercy gives all the outward convenieucies of this life, which 
are bestowed without distinction ; as he causes his sun to rise 
on the evil arid the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on 
the unjust, Matth. v. 45. so it is said, his tender mercies are 
over all his works, Psal. cxlv. 9. but his special mercy is that 
which he bestows on, or has reserved for the heirs of salvation, 
which he communicates to them in a covenant way, in and 
through a Mediator ; so the apostle speaks of God, as the Fa- 
ther of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the 
God of all comfort, 2 Cor. i. 3. 

3. As God is said to be merciful, or to extend compassion 
to the miserable, so he doth this freely, and accordingly is said 
to be gracious; and as grace is free, so it is sovereign, and be- 
stowed in a discriminating way ; that is given to one which he 
denies to another, and only because it is his pleasure : thus 
says one of Christ's disciples. Lord, how is it that thou wilt 
manifest thyself unto us, andriot unto the zvorldP John xiv. 22, 
And our Saviour himself glorifies God for the display of his 
grace, in such a way, when he says, / thank thee, Father^ 
Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things 
from the zvise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes ; 
and considers this as the result of his sovereign will, when he 
adds, even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight, Matth. 
xi. 25, 26. Now the discriminating grace of God appears in 
several instances ; as, 

(1.) In that he should extend salvation to men, rather than 
to fallen angels; so our Saviour took not on him the nature of 
angels, hut the seed of Abraham, because he designe(il to save 
the one, and to reserve the other, in chains, binder darkness, 
unto the judgment of the great day, Heb, ii. 16. compared with 
Jude ver. 6. And among men, only some are made partakers 
of this invaluable blessing, which all were equally unworthy 
of; and their number is comparatively very small, therefore 
they are called a little fock, and the gate, through which they 
enter, is strait, and the tvay narroru that leads to life, and f-w 
there be that find it, Luke xii. 32. compared with Matth. vii. 
13, 14. And there are many who make a considerable figure 
in the world, for riches, honours, great natural abilities, be- 
stowed by common providence, that are destitute of special 
grace, while others, who are poor, and despised in the world, 
are called, and saved ; the apostle observed it to be so in hi^ 
day, when he says, 7iot many mighty, not many noble, arc call;: 



1T2 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

ed; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to con- 
found the wise^ and the weak things of the tvorld to confound 
the things that are mighty^ and base things of the worlds and 
things which are despised hath God chosen^ yea^ things that are 
not, to brbig to nought things that are, 1 Cor. i. 26, 27, 28. 

(2.) In several things relating to the internal means, where- 
by he liis and disposes men for salvation : thus the work of 
conversion is an eminent instance of discriminating grace, for 
herein he breaks through, and overcomes, that reluctancy and 
opposition, which corrupt nature makes against it; subdues 
the enmity and rebellion that was in the heart of man, works a 
powerful change in the will, whereby he subjects it to himself, 
which work is contrary to the natural biass and inclination 
thereof; and that which renders this grace more illustrious, is, 
that many of those who are thus converted, were, before this, 
notorious sinners ; some have been blasphemers, persecutors, 
and injurious, as the apostle says concerning himself before 
his conversion, and concludes himself to have been the chief 
of sinners ; and tells us, how ht shut up many of the saints in 
prison, and, when they were put to death, he gave his voice 
against them ; punished them often in every synagogue, and 
compelled them to blaspheme, and, being exceedingly against 
them, persecuted them unto strange cities, 1 Tim. i. 13, 15. 
compared with Acts xxvi. 10, 11. But you will say, he was, 
in other respects, a moral man ; therefore he gives an instance 
elsewhere of some who were far otherwise, whom he puts iti 
mind of their having been fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, ef- 
feminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous^ 
drunkards, revilers, extortioners; *?/c/2, says he, w^re some of 
you ; but ye are -washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justi- 
fied. Moreover, the change wrought in the soul is unasked 
for, and so it may truly be said, God is found of them that 
sought him not ; and undesired ; for though unregenerate sin- 
ners desire to be delivered from misery, they are far from de- 
siring to be delivered from sin, or to have repentance, faith, 
and holiness : if they pray for these blessings, it is in such a 
manner, that the Spirit of God hardly calls it prayer ; for the 
Spirit of grace, and of supplications, by which alone we are 
enabled to pray in a right manner, is w^hat accompanies or flows 
from conversion ; if therefore God bestows this privilege on 
persons so unworthy of it, and so averse to it, it must certain- 
ly be an instance of sovereign and discriminating grace. 

(3.) This will farther appear, if wc consider how much they, 
who are the objects thereof, differ from what they were ; or 
if we compare their present, with their former state. Once 
they were blind and ignorant of the ways of God, and going 
astray in crooked paths ; the apostle speaks of this in the ab- 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 17o 

stract, Te were sometimes darkness^ Eph. v. 8. and that the god 
of this worlds had blinded the minds of soyne^ lest the light of 
the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them^ 2 Cor. iv. 
4. but now they are made light in the Lord^ and brought into 
the way of truth and peace. Their hearts were once impeni- 
tent, unrelenting, and inclined to sin, without remorse, or self- 
reflection ; nothing could make an impression on them, as 
he'mg past feeling-, and giving' themselves over to lasciviousnessy 
to tvork all uncleanness with greediness, Eph. iv. 19. but now 
they are penitent, humble, relenting, and broken under a sense 
of sin, afraid of every thing that may be an occasion thereof, 
willing to be reproved for it, and desirous to be set at a great- 
er distance from it. Once they were destitute of hope, or 
solid peace of conscience ; but now they have hope and joy in 
believing, and are delivered from that bondage, which they 
were, before this, exposed to ; such a happy turn is given to 
the frame of their spirits : and as to the external and relative 
change which is made in their state, there is no condemnation 
to them, as justified persons ; and therefore they who, before 
this, were in the utmost distress, expecting nothing but hell 
and destruction, are enabled to lift up their heads with joy, ex- 
periencing the blessed fruits and effects of this grace in their own 
souls. 

(4.) The discriminating grace of God farther appears, in that 
he bestows these saving blessings on his people, at such sea- 
sons, when they appear most suitable, and adapted to their 
condition ; as he is a very present help in a time of trouble, 
when their straits and difficulties are greatest, then is his time 
to send relief; when sinners sometimes have wearied them- 
selves in the greatness of their way, while seeking rest and 
happiness in other things below himself, and have met with 
nothing but disappointmeut therein ; when they are brought 
to the utmost extremity, then he appears in their behalf. And 
so wilh respect to believers, when their comforts are at the 
lowest ebb, their hope almost degenerated into despair, their 
'temptations most prevalent and afflicting, and they retidy to 
sink under the weight that lies on their spirits, when, as the 
Psalmist says, their hearts are overwhelmed withirj^theyn ; then 
he leads them to the rock that is higher than they, Psal. Ixi. 2. 
when they are even desolate and aff,icted, and the troubles of 
their hearts are enlarged, then he brings them out of their dis- 
tresses, Psal. XXV. 16, 17. 

Thus the grace of God eminently appears, in what he be- 
stows on his people ; but if we look forward, and consider what 
he has prepared for them, or the hope that is laid up in heaven, 
then we may behold the most amazing displays of grace, in 
which they who shall be the happy objects thereof, will he a 



1T4 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

wonder to themselves, and will see more of the glory of it than 
can be now expressed in words ; as the i-'salmist says, in a way 
of a.dmirati®n, Oh^ hoto great hn thy goodnefis^ which ihon hast 
laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast xvroiignt for 
them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Psal. xxx. 19. 

Object. 1. If it be objected, that the afflictions, which God's 
people are exposed to in this life, are inconsistent with the 
glory of his grace and mercy. 

Answ. To this it may be replied, that afflictive providences 
are so far from being inconsistent with the glory of these per- 
fections, that they tend to illustrate them the more. For since 
sin has rendered afflictions needful, as an expedient, to hum- 
ble us for it, and also to prevent it for the future, so God de- 
signs our advantage thereby ; and however grievous they are, 
yet since they are so over-ruled by him, as the apostle saj^s, 
that they yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto thettiy 
rvho are exercised thereby^ Heb. xii. 11. they are far from being 
inconsistent with the mercy and grace of God. 

And this will farther appear, if we consider that these out- 
ward afflictions are often attended with inward supports, and 
spiritual comforts ; so that, as the apostle says concerning him- 
self, as the sufferings of Christ abonndin them^ their consolations 
abound by him ^"2. Cor. i. 5. or as the outward man perishes^ the 
inward man is renewed day by day ^ chap. iv. 16. it was nothing 
but this could make him say, / take pleasure in infrmities^ in 
reproaches^ in necessities^ in persecutions^ in distresses for 
Christ'' s sake., for ruhen I can xveak^ then am I strongs chap, 
xii. 10. 

Object. 2. It is farther objected, that the doctrine of free 
grace leads men to licentiousness ; and therefore that what we 
have said concerning it, is either not true and warrantable, or, 
at least, should not be much insisted on, for fear this conse- 
quence should ensue. 

Answ. The grace of God doth not lead to licentiousness, 
though it be often abused, and presumptuous sinners take ocr 
casion from thence to go on, as they apprehend, securely there- 
in, because God is merciful and gracious, and ready to for- 
give, which vile and disingenuous temper the apostle obser^^ed 
in some that lived in his days, and expresses himself with the 
greatest abhorrence thereof, Shall we continue in sin, that grace 
7nay abound? God forbid, Rom. vi. 1, 2. But does it follow, 
that because it is abused by some, as an occasion of licentious- 
ness, through the corruption of their natures, that therefore it 
leads to it ? The greatest blessings may be the occasion of the 
greatest evils ; but yet they do not lead to them. That which 
leads to licentiousness, must have some motive or inducement 
?n it, which will warrant an ingenuous mind, acting according 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 175 

' J the i*ules of equity and justice, to take those liberties ; but 
this nothing can do, much less the grace of God. His great cle- 
mency, indeed, may sometimes give occasion to those who hate 
him, and have ingratitude and rebellion rooted in tlieir nature, 
to take up arms against him ; and an act of grace may be abu- 
sed, so as to make the worst of criminals more bold in their 
wickedness, who presume that they may commit it with impu- 
nity : but this is not the natural tendency, or genuine effect there- 
of ; nor will it be thus abused by any, but those who are aban- 
doned to every thing that is vile and ungrateful. As the law of 
God prohibits all sin, and his holiness is opposite to it, so his 
grace affbi-ds the strongest motive to holiness ; it is therefore the 
neglect or contempt of this grace, and a coiTupt disposition to 
act contrary to the design thereof, that leads to licentiousness. 
Grace and duty are inseparably connected, so that where God 
bestows the one, he expects the other ; yea, duty, which is our 
act, is God's gift, as the power to perform it is from him : thus 
when he promises to give his people a new hearty and put his 
Spirit within them^ and cause them to walk in his statutes^ he 
tells them, that they should remember their evil ways and doings, 
and loathe themselves in their owfi sight for their iniquities ; 
which is not only a prediction, respecting the event, but a pro- 
mise of what he would incline them to do ; and when he adds, 
thditfor this he would be enquired of by them^ Ezek. xxxvi. 26. 
27, 31, 2,7. or that they should seek them by fervent prayer, he 
secures to them, by promise, a disposition and grace to perform, 
this great duty, which is inseparably connected with expected 
blessings. God hi' iself therefore will take care that, however 
others abuse his grace, it shall not lead those who are in a distin- 
guishing way, the objects thereof, to licentiousness. 

And to this we may add, that it is a disparagement to this 
divine perfection to say, that, because some take occasion from 
it to continue in sin, therefore its glory is to be, as it were, con- 
cealed, and not published to the world. As some of old did not 
care to hear of the holiness of God, and therefore, if the pro- 
phets would render their doctrine acceptable to them, they must 
jpot insist on that perfection, but cause the Holy One of Israel to 
cease from before them^ Isa. xxx. 11. so there are many who 
are us little desirous to hear of the free and discriminating grace 
of God, which contains the very sum and substance of the gos- 
pel, lest it should be abused, whereas the glory thereof cannot 
fee enough admired ; and therefore it ought often to be recom- 
mended, as what leads to holiness, and lies at tlie very root of 
all religion. 

And that it may be so improved, let it be faither considered, 
that it is the greatest inducement to humility, a^i well as one 
of the greatest ornaments and evidences of a true Christiaw, 



176, THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

This appears from the nature of the thing, for grace supposes 
its object unworthy, as has been but now observed ; and it ar- 
gues him a debtor to God for all that he enjoys or expects, 
which, if it be duly considered, will make him appear vile and 
worthless in his own eyes, and excite in him a degi-ee of thank- 
fulness in proportion to the ground he has to claim an interest 
therein, and the extensiveness of the blessed fruits and effects 
thereof. 

4. We proceed to speak of God as long-suffering, or as he 
is styled by the apostle, The God of patience^ Rom. xv. 5. some- 
times this attribute is set forth in a metaphorical way, and call- 
ed a restraini7ig' his ivrath^ Psal. Ixxvi. 10. and a refraining 
himself and holding his peace ^ or keeping silence^ Isa. xlii, 14. 
and Psal. 1. 21. and, while he does this, he is represented, speak- 
ing after the manner of men, as one that is xveary with forbear- 
ijig^ Isa. i. 13. chap. vii. 13, Mai. ii. 17. and he is said to be 
pressed, under a provoking people, as a cart is pressed that is 
full of sheaves, Amos ii. 13. By all which expressions, this per- 
fection is set forth in a familiar style, according to our common 
way of speaking : but that we may briefly explain the nature 
thereof, let us consider, in general ; that it is a branch of his 
goodness and mercy, manifested in suspending the exercise of 
his vindictive justice, and in his not punishing in such a degree 
as sin deserves. But that we may consider this more particular- 
ly, we shall observe something concerning the objects thereof, 
and the various instances in which it is displayed ; how it is 
glorified ; and how the glory thereof is consistent with that of 
vindictive justice ; and lastly, how it is to be improved by us. 

(1.) Concerning the objects of God's patience. Since it is the 
deferring of deserved wrath, it follows from hence, that an inno- 
cent creature cannot be the object of it, inasmuch as vindictive 
justice makes no demand upon him ; nor has it any reserves of 
punishmeiit laid up in store for him ; such an one is, indeed the 
object of goodness, but not of forbearance ; for punishment can- 
not be said to be deferred m here it is not due : and, on the other 
hand, they caiinot be said to be the objects thereof, in whom the 
vindictive justice of God is displayed to the utmost, when all t^ 
vials of his wrath are poured forth. 'Whether the devils are, m 
some sense, the objects of God's forbearance, as having ground 
to expect a greater degree of punishment after the final judg- 
ment, is disputed by some, who contend about the sense of the 
\vordforbeara7ice; they are said, indeed, to be reservedin chains,, 
under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day, Jude, ver. 
6. that is, though their state be hopeless, and their misery 
great, beyond expression, yet there is a greater degi'ee of punish- 
ment, which they bring upon themselves, by all the hostilities 
ihey commit against God in this world : this farther appears, 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. ITV^ 

from what they are represented, as saying to our Saviour, Art 
thou come to torment us before the time ? Matth. viii. 29. (c/) By 
which it is sufficiently evident that their misery shall be greater 
than now it is. However, this less degree of punishment, inflict- 
ed on them, is never called in scripture, an instance of God's 
patience, or long-suffering, towards them ; therefore we must 
conclude that they are not, properly speaking, the objects of 
the glory of this attribute. Patience then is only extended to 
sinful men, while in this world ; for it is called, in scripture. 
The riches of his goodness^ and forbearance^ and long-svffering^ 
Rom. ii. 4. and it is said to lead those, who are the objects of 
it, to repentance ; therefore there must be, together with the ex- 
ercise of this perfection, a day or season of grace granted, 
which is called, in scripture, with a peculiar emphasis, the sin- 
ner's day^ or the time of his visitation^ in which it ought to be 
his highest concern to knoxv the things of his peace^ Luke xix. 
42, 44. and the gospel that is preached, in this season of God's 
forbearance, is called. The xvord of his patience^ Kev. iii. 10. so 
that there is something more in this attribute than barely a de- 
ferring of punishment. Accordingly God is said, to zvait that 
he may be gracious^ Isa. xxx. 18. and the effects and consequen- 
ces thereof are various, (as may be said of all the other means 
of grace) so that sinners, who neglect to improve it, have not onr 
ly thereby a reprieve from deserved punishment, but all those 
advantages of common grace, which attend it : but, with re- 
spect to believers, it may be said, as the apostle expresses it. 
The long-sxiffering of onr Lord is salvation^ 2 Pet. iii. 15. It is 
evidently so to them, and therefore God doth not spare themj 

a " Maik iii. 11, v. 7 ; Luke viii. 28 ; and Mat. viii. 29. These extraordinary pcr- 
sonag'es in the New Testament, are not called devils, AiJtCoxoi, in tlie oi-ig-inal ; that 
word never occurring in the Christian scriptures, hut m tlie singuho-iuimbcr, and 
as applied to one Being alone. Tliey are called fhcmoas, A'ji/j.ovig (jr i^nty.oviu. Yet 
they are plainly devils m fact; being called Unclean Spirils, tliough bometimes 
only Spirits (Mark ix. 20; aiul Luke x. 20 ;) and showing tiiemselves to be devils, 
by their whole history. In Mat. xii. 24 and 26 particularly, tlie P))arisces say 
" our Saviour casts out devils, (dsmons) by Beelzebub the prince oi' the devils 
*' (dsemons) ;" and our Saviour replies, that then "Satan casts out Satan." See 
also Luke x. 17 — 18; where the apostles rejoicing declare, " even the devils (dw- 
" mons) are subject unto us ;" and our Saviour says unto them, " I beheld Satan 
" as lightning fall from heaven." So ver}- f.dse in itself, and directly contradicteci 
by tlie very words of our Saviour, is that hypotliesis ot Dr. Campljell's in liis new 
translation of the Gospels ; which asserts these possessions oi' the New Testament 
to be nowhere attributed to the devil, and which avers the dominion or authority 
pf the devil to be nowhere ascribed to tlie dsmons ! Beelzebub is expressly cal- 
led the/»v7)re of the dremons, the daemons are expressly denominated Satan with 
liim, and these are only inferior devils subordinate to tlie great one. And though 
the work demons (as Dr. Campbell lu-ges) miglit critically be more exact in a 
translation ; yet the word dc-iiln better accords, with the usages of our language 
and the course of our ideas. Exactness tlierefor^- i^is been ];i(>pr'rly sacrificed tQ 
•itility." winT,nr.r.n 

yor. L Z 



178 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

that he may take a more fit opportunity to punish them ; but he 
waits till the set time to favour them is come, that he may ex- 
tend saivaiion to them ; and, in this respect more especially, the 
exercise of this perfection is founded in the death of Christ. 
And inasmuch as the elect, who are purchased thereby, were, 
by the divine appointment, to live throughout all the ages of 
time, laid to have the saving effects of his redemption applied 
to them, one after another, it was necessary that the patience of 
God should be so long continued, which is therefore glorified 
more immediately with respect to them, as the result thereof ; 
and, in subserviency thereunto, it is extended to all the world. 

(2.) The patience of God has been displayed in various in- 
stancese 

1st, II was owing hereto that God did not immediately de- 
stroy our first parents as soon as they fell ; 'he might then, with- 
out the ie;ist impeachment of his justice, have banished them 
for ever from his presence, and left their whole posterity desti- 
tute of che means of grace, and have punished them all in pro- 
portion to the guilt contracted ; therefore that the world is con- 
tinued to this day, is a very great instance of God's long-suf- 
fering. 

2dli/, When mankind was universally degenerate, and all 
flesh had corrupted their way, before the flood, and God deter- 
mined to destroy them, yet he would not do this, till his pa- 
tience had spared them, after he had given an intimation of this 
desolating judgment, an hundred and twenty years before it 
came. Gen. vi. 2, 3. and Noah was, during this time, a preach- 
er of righteousness, while the long-suffering of God is said to 
have waited on them, 2 Pet. ii. 5. compared with 1 Pet. iii. 20. 

3f//y, The Gentiles, who not only worshipped and served the 
creature more than the Creator, but committed other vile abo- 
minations, contrary to the dictates of nature, and thereby filled 
up the measure of their iniquity, are, notwithstanding, said to 
be the objects of God's patience, though in a lower sense, than 
that in which believers are said to be so ; accordingly the apos- 
tle observes, that in times past, God suffered all nations to walk 
in their own rvai/s, that is, God did not draw forth his sword 
out of its sheath, by which metaphor the prophet sets forth the 
patience of God ; he did not stir up all his wrath, but gave them 
rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, JiUing their hearts xvith 
food and gladness. Acts xlv. 16, 17. Ezek. xxi. 3. 

4thl>j, The church of the Jews, before the coming of Christ, 
had long experience of the forbearance of God. It is said, that 
he suffered their manners forty years in the wilderness. Acts xiii. 
18. and afterwards, when they often revolted to idolatry, fol- 
lowing the customs of the nations round about them, yet he did 
not utterly destroy them, but, in their distress, raised them up 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 179 

deliverers ; and when their iniquity was grown to such a height 
that none but a God ot infinite patience, could have borne with 
them, he, notwithstanding, spared them many )'eai-s before he 
suffered them to be carried away captive into Babylon ; and af- 
terwards, when their rebellion against him was arrived to the 
highest pitch, when they had crucified the Lord of glory, yet 
he spared them some time, till the gospel was first preached to 
them, and they had rejected it, and thereby judged themselves 
vntvorthij of eternal life^ Acts xiii. 46. 

5M/y, After this, the patience of God was extended to those 
v.'ho endeavoured to pervert the gospel of Christ, namely, to 
false teachers and backsliding churches, to whom he gave space 
to repent^ but repented not ^ Rev. ii. 21. And to this we may 
add, that he has not yet poured forth the vials of his wrath on 
the Antichristian powers, though he has threatened, that their 
plagues shall come in one day ^ chap, xviii* 1. 

(3.) We are next to consider the method which God takes in 
glorifying this attribute. We have already observed that, with 
respect to believers, the patience of God is glorified in subser- 
viency to their salvation ; but, with respect to others, by whom 
it is abused, the patience of God discovers itself, 

1.9?, In giving them warning of his judgments before he sends 
them. He speaketh once^ yea trvice^ but man perceiveth it not^ 
that he may zuithdrarv man from his purpose^ and hide pride 
from man^ Job xxxiii. 14, 17. and, indeed, all the prophets 
were sent to the church of the Jews, not only to instruct them, 
but to warn them of approaching judgments, and they were 
faithful in the delivery of their message. In what moving terms 
doth the prophet Jeremiah lament the miseries, which were 
ready to bcfal them ! And with what zeal doth he endeavour, 
in the whole course of his ministry, to bring them to repentance, 
that so the storm might blow over, or, if not, that their ruin 
might not come upon them altogether unexpected ! 

2dly When the divine warnings are not regarded, but wrath 
must be poured forth on an obstinate and impenitent people, this 
is done by degrees. God first sends lesser judgments before 
greater, or inflicts his plagues, as he did upon Egypt, one after 
another, not all at once ; and so he did npon Israel of old, as 
the prophet Joel observes, j?r5? the palmer-xvorm^ then the locust ; 
after that^ the canker-xvorm^ and then the caterpillar^ devoitred 
Hie fruits of the earthy one after another^ Joel i. 4. So the pi-o- 
phet Amos observes, that God first sent a famine among them, 
which he calls cleanness of teeth in all their cities^ ancl after- 
wards some of them xvere overthroxvn^ as God overthrew Sodom 
nnd Gomorrah^ Amos iv. 8, 18. Some think, that the gradual 
approach of divine judgments is intended by what the prophet 
Hosea says, when the judgments of God are compared to the 



fSO' fllE PERFECTIONS OT GOD.' 

light that goeth forth, Hos. vi. 5. which implies more thail i^; 
generally understood by it, as though the judgments of God 
should be rendered visible, as the light of the sun is ; whereas 
the prophet seems hereby to intimate, that the judgments of 
God should proceed, like the light of the morning, that still in- 
creases unto a perfect day. And it is more than probable that 
this is intended by the same prophet, when he represents God 
as speaking concerning Ephraim, that he would be to them as 
a moth, which doth not consuine the garment all at oncef as 
when it is cast into the fire, but frets it by degrees, or like rot- 
tenness, which is of a spreading nature, chap. v. 12. Thus the 
judgments of God are poured forth by degrees, that, at the 
same time, there may be comparatively, at least, a display of di- 
rme patience. 

. 2dly^ When God sends his judgments abroad in the world, 
he often moderates them ; none are proportionate to the deme- 
rit of sin ; as it is said of him, that being full of compassion, he 
forgave the iniquity of a very rebellious people, that is, he did 
not punish thein as their iniquity deserved, and therefore he 
destroyed them not, and did not stir up all his wrath, Psal. 
Ixxviii. 38. so the prophet Isaiah says concerning Israel, that 
God hath 7iot s?7iitten him^ as he had smote those that smote him; 
nor is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain bif 
him; but that he -would debate rvith them in measure^ zuho stayeth 
his rough wind i?i the day of his east wind, Isa. xxvii. 7, 8. 

4thly, When God cannot, in honour, defer his judgments any 
longer, he pours them forth, as it were, with reluctancy ; as a 
judge, when he passeth sentence on a criminal, doth it with a 
kind of regret, not insulting, but rather pitying his misery- 
which is unavoidable, because the course of justice must not be 
stopped. Thus the prophet says, that God doth not ajjiict roil- 
.ingly, that is, with delight or pleasure, nor grieve, the children 
of men. Lam. iii. 35; that is, he doth not punish them, because 
he delights to see them miseiable ; but to secure the rights of 
his own justice in the government of the world : so when Israel 
had been guilty of vile ingratitude and rebellion against him; 
and he threatens to turn his hand upon theni, and destvoy them, 
he expresseth himself in such terms, speaking after the manner 
of men, as imply a kind of uneasiness, when he says, Ah I I rvill 
ease jne of mine adversaries , and avenge me of mine enemies, Isa- 
i. 24. and before God gave up Israel into the hands of the As- 
syrians, he seems, again speakmg after the manner of men, to 
have an hesitation or debute in his own mind, whether he should 
do this or no, when he savs. How shed! I give thee up, Ephraim'^ 
Hoti) shall I deliver thee, Israel ? Hozv shall I make thee as Ad'' 
■mail f Hoto shall I set thee as Zeboim V Mine heart is turned 
vAthin w.v, my repentings are kindled together, Hos. xi. 8. and 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 181 

when our Saviour could not prevail upon Jerusalem to repent 
of their sins, and embrace his doctrine, when he was obliged to 
pass a sentence upon them, and to tell them, that the things of 
their peace were hid from their eyes, r.nd that their etiemiea 
fihould cant a trench about the city^ and should lay it even with 
the ground^ he could not speak of it without tears ', when he be- 
held the cityy he wept over it^ Luke xix. 41, &c. 

(4.) The next thing to be considered, concerning the pa- 
tience of God, is, that the glory of it is consistent with that of 
his vindictive justice ; or how he may be said to defer the 
punishment of sin, and yet appear to be a sin-hating God. 

It is certain that the glory of one divine perfection cannot 
interfere with that of another; as justice and mercy meet to- 
gether in the work of redemption, so justice and patience do 
not oppose each other, in any of the divine dispensations. It is 
true, their demands seem to be various ; justice requires that 
the stroke should be immediately given ; but patience insists 
on a delay hereof, inasmuch as without this it does not appear 
to be a divine perfection ; if therefore patience be a divine at- 
tribute, and its glory as necessary to be displayed, as that of 
any of his other perfections, it must be glorified in this world, 
and that by delaying the present exercise of vindictive justice 
in the highest degree, or it cannot be glorified at all : justice 
will be glorified, throughout all the ages of eternity, in those 
w^ho are the objects thereof; but patience can then have no 
glory, since (as has been observed) the greatest degree, either 
of happiness or misery, is inconsistent with the exercise there- 
of; therefore this being a perfection, which redounds so much 
to the divine honour, we must not suppose that there is no ex- 
pedient for its being glorified, or that the glory of vindictive 
justice is inconsistent with it. 

Now this harmtony of these two perfections must be a little 
considered. Justice, it is true, obliges God to punish sin, yet 
it does not oblige him to do it immediately ; but the time, as 
Well as the way, is to be resolved into his sovereign will. In 
fcrder to make this appear, let us consider, th*t the design of 
vindictive justice, in all the punishment it inflicts, is either to 
secure the glory of the holiness of God ; or to assert his rights, 
as the governor of the world ; now if the deferring of punish- 
ment doth not interfere with either of these, then the glory of 
God's patience is not inconsistent with that of his vindictive 
justice. But mcjre particularly. 

Firsts The glory of his holiness is, notwithstanding this, suf- 
ficiently secured ; for though he delays to punish sin, in the 
highest degree, yet, at the same time, he appears to hate it, by 
the threatenings which he hath denounced against sinners, which 
•hall ceHiiluly ha\ e their uccomplishmcnt, if he says, that he is 



182 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

angry with the wicked every day^ and that his sold hateih them^ 
is there ar.y reason to suppose the contrary ? or if he has threat- 
ened that he xvill rain upon them snares^ jire and brimstone^ and 
an horrible tempest^ wh»ch shall be the portion of their cxip^ and 
that because, as the righteous Lord^ he loveth righteousness^ Psal. 
vii. 11. and xi. 6, 7. is not this a sufficient security, for the glory 
of his holiness, to fence against any thing that might be alleged 
to detract from it ? If thi-eatened judgments be not sufficient, 
for the present, to evince the glory of this divine perfection ; 
then it will follow, on the other hand, that the promises he has 
made of blessings not yet bestowed, are to be as little regarded 
for the encouraging our hope, and securing the glory of his 
other perfections ; and then his holiness would be as much ble- 
mished in delaying to reward, as it can be supposed to be in 
delaying to punish. 

If therefore the truth of God, which will certainly accom- 
plish his threatenings, be a present security for the glory of his 
holiness, it is not absolutely necessary that vindictive justice 
should be immediately exercised in the destruction of sinners, 
and so exclude the exercise of God's forbearance and long-suf- 
fering. 

And to this it may Ije added, that there are many terrible 
displays of God's vindictive justice in his present dealing with 
sinners ; as it is said. The Lord is known by the judgments 
•which he executes^ as well as by those he designs to pour forth 
on his enemies ; the wicked are now snared in the rvork of their 
own hands^ but in the end they shall be turned into helly and all 
the nations that forget God^ Psal. ix. 16, 17. If vindictive jus- 
tice takes occasion to inflict many^ temporal and spiritual judg- 
ments upon sinners in this world, then the glory of God's holi- 
ness is illustrated at the same time that his patience is prolong- 
ed. This may be observed in God's dealing with his murmur- 
ing and rebellious people in the wilderness which gave him oc- 
casion to take notice of the abuse of his patience, and to say. 
Numb. xiv. 11, 18 — 21. How long 7vill this people provoke me? 
and hoxv long xvill it be ere they believe 7«e, for all the signs 
xohich I have shexved among them? Upon this, justice is ready 
•to strike the fatal blow; I xvill ^ says God, S7nite them with the 
pestilence^ and disinherit them ; which gives Moses occasion to 
intercede for them, and plead the glory of God's patience. Hie 
Lord is long-sufferings and of great mercy ; Pardon^ says he, / 
beseech thee^ the iniquity of this people^ as thou hast forgiven 
ihemfrom Egypt^ even until noav; by which he means, as I hum- 
bly conceive, spare thy people, as thou hast often done, when, 
by reason of their provocations, thou mightest justly have de- 
stroyed them ; and God answers him in the following words, 
J have pardoned, according to thy Ti'ord ■ but he adds. As truly 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 18G 

as I live^ all the earth shall be jilled xvith the glory of the Lord., 
that is, with the report of the glory of his vindictive justice, 
which should be spread far and near ; and then he threatens 
them that they should not see the land of Canaan, viz. those 
who murmured against him; so that vindictive justice had its 
demands fulfilled in one respect, while patience was glorified in 
the other ; on which occasion the Psalmist says, Psal. xcix. 8. 
Thou answeredst them^ Lord^ namel}', Moses's prayer for 
them, but now mentioned. Thou xvast a God that forgavest them^ 
though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions. 

Secondly^ Consider the vindictive justice of God, as tending to 
secure his rights, as the governor of the world, and being ready 
to take vengeance for sin, which attempts to controul his sove- 
reign authority, and disturb the order of his government : now 
the stroke of justice may be suspended for a time, that it may 
make way for the exercise of patience, provided there be no just 
occasion given hereby for men to trample on the sovereignty of 
God, despise his authority, or rebel against him, without fear : 
but these consequences will not necessarily result from his ex- 
tending forbearance to sinners ; for we do not find that the de- 
laying to inflict punishment among men is any prejudice to their 
government, therefore why should we suppose that the divine 
government should suff'er any injury thereby ; when a prince, 
for some reasons of state, puts off the trial of a malefactor for 
a time, to the end that the indictment may be more fully pro- 
ved, and the equity of his proceedings more evidently appear, 
this is always reckoned a greater excellency in his administra- 
tion, than if he should proceed too hastily therein ; and we ne- 
ver find that it tends to embolden the criminal to that degree 
as impunity would do ; for he is punished, in part, by the loss 
of his liberty, and if he be convicted, then he loses the privi- . 
lege of an innocent subject; his life is forfeited, and he is in 
daily expectation of having it taken away. If such a method 
as this tends to secure the rights of a government, when a prince 
thinks fit to allow a reprieve to some for a time ; may not God 
stop the immediate proceedings of vindictive justice for a time, 
without the least infringement made, either on his holiness, or 
his rectoral justice .'' Which leads us to consider, 

(5.) How the patience of God is to be improved by us ; and, 

\st^ Since it is a divine perfection, and there is a revenue of 
glory due to God for the display thereof, this should put us 
upon the exercise of those graces, which it engages us to. Some 
of the divine attributes tend to excite our fear, but this should 
draw forth our admiration and praise : and we have more rea- 
son to adore and admire the divine forbearance, when we con- 
^jrder, 

Firsts How justly he might destroy us. The best man on 



1&4' THE PERFECTIONS OF GO*D, 

earth may say, with the Psalmist, If thou ^ Lord^ shouldst mark 
iniqinties^ Lord^ -who shall stand f Psal. cxxx. 3. He need 
not watch for occasions, or diligently search out some of the 
inadvertencies of life, to find matter for our conviction and con- 
demnation, since the multitude and heinous aggravation of our 
sins, proclaim our desert of punishment, which might provoke, 
and immediately draw down, his vengeance upon us j and that 
which farther enhances our guilt is, that we provoke him, though 
laid under the highest obligations to the contrary. 

Secondly^ How easil}^ might he bring ruin and destruction 
upon us ? He does not forbear to punish us for want of power, 
as earthly kings often do; or because the exercise of justice 
may be apprehended, as a means to weaken their government, 
or occasion some rebellions, which they could not easily put a 
stop to. Thus David says concerning himself, that he was 
iveak^ though anointed king ^ and that the sons of Zcriiiah -were 
too hard for hvn^ on the occasion of Joab's havmg forfeited his 
life, when the necessity of affairs required the suspending his 
punishment, 2 Sam. iii. 39. but this cannot be said of God, who 
is represented as sloxv to anger ^ and great in power ^ Nah. i. 3. 
that is, he does not punish, though he easily could : it would be 
no difficultv for him immediately to destroy an ungodly world, 
any more than it is for us to crush a moth or a worm, or break 
a leaf : finite power can make no resistance against that which is 
infinite : what are briars and thorns before the consuming fire ? 

2dli/, Let us take heed that we do not abuse this divine per- 
fection ; it is a crime to abuse the mercy of God in the small- 
est instances thereof, but much more to slight and contemn the 
riches of his forbearance, or mercy, extended to so great a 
length, as it has been to most of us ; and this is done, 

1. By those who infer, from his forbearing to pour forth his 
fury on sinners, that he neglects the government of the world ; 
or take occasion from thence to deny a providence, and because 
his threatenings are not executed at present, therefore they do, 
as it were, defy him to do his worst against them ; this some 
are represented as doing, with an uncommon degree of pre- 
sumption, and that with a scoff; for thev are termed scoffers^ 
tvalking after their oxvn lusts ; saijing^ Where is the promise of 
his coming ? for since the fathers fell asleep^ all things con- 
timie as they ruere from the beginning of the creation^ 2 Pet. 
iii. 3, 4. 

2. Ev those who take occasion from hence to sin presump- 
tuously : and because he not only delays to punish, but, at the 
same time, expresses his willingness to receive returning sin- 
ners, at what time soever thev truly repent, take occasion to 
persist in their rebellion, concluding that it is time enough to 
submit to him ; which is not only to abuse, but, as it were, to 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 185 

wear out his patience, and provoke his indignation, like them^ 
of whom it is said, that because sentence ugai7ist an evil -work 
is not executed speedily^ therefore the heart of the sons of men 
is fully set in them to do evil, Eccl. viii. 11. But you will say, 
these are uncommon degrees of wickedness, which only the vi- 
lest part of mankind are chargeable with ; therefore let us add, 

3. That a bare neglect to improve our present season, and 
day oi grace, or to embrace the great salvation offered in the 
gospel, is an abuse of Cod's patience ; and this will certainly 
affect the greatest number of those who are favoured with the 
gospel dispensation ; and, indeed, who are there that improve 
it as they ought ? and therefore all are said more or less, to 
abuse the patience of God, which affords matter of great hu- 
miliation in his sight. 

No^v that we may be duly sensible of this sin, together with 
the consequences thereof, let us consider ; that this argues the 
highest ingratitude, and that more especially, in a professing 
people ; therefore the apostle, reproving the Jews for this siii, 
puts a very great emphasis on every word, when he says. Or 
despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and 
long-suffering P Rom. ii. 4. Let us also consider, that the con- 
sequence thereof is very destructive, inasmuch as this is the on- 
ly opportunity that will be afforded to seek after those things 
that relate to our eternal welfare. What stress does the apostle 
lay on the word notv, which is twice repeated, as well as the 
word behold, which is a note of attention, implying, that he had 
something remarkable to communicate, when he says, Beholdy 
noxu is the accepted time ; behold, nouo is the day of salvation^ 
2 Cor. vi. 2. And to this we may add, which is a very awaken- 
ing consideration, that the abuse of God's patience will expose 
finally impenitent sinners to a greater degree of his vengeance. 
Thus when the forbearance of God had been extended to Is- 
rael for many years, from his bringing them up out of the land 
of Egypt ; and this had been attended all that time with the 
means of grace, and many warnings of approaching judgments, 
he tells them; Tou onlij have I known, of all the families of tJi^ 
earth, therefore xvill I punish you, that is, my wrath shall fall 
more heavily upon you, for all your iniquities, Amos iii. 2, 
and when God is represented, as coming to reckon with Baby- 
lon, the cup of his wrath must be filled double ; hoxo much she 
hath glorified herself, saith God, and lived deliciously, so much 
sorrow and torment give her ; for she saith in her heart, I sit 
as a queen, and am no widozv, and shall see no sorroxv. Rev. 
xviii. 6, 7. 

^dly. Let us, on the other hand, improve God's patience, by 
duly considering the great end and design thereof, and what 
encouragement it affords to universal holiness : it is a ^reat ve= 

Vol. L a a 



fH& THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD, 

lief to those who are at the very brink of despair; for if thej 
cannot say that it has hitherto led them to repentance, as ap- 
prehending themselves to be yet in a state of imregeneracy, let 
us consider, that, notwithstanding this, a door of hope is still 
open d, the golden sceptre held forth, and the invitation given 
to come to Christ > therefore let this excite us to a diligent at- 
tendance on the means of grace, for though forbearance is not 
to be mistaken, as it is by many, for forgiveness, yet we are en- 
couraged to vf ait and hope for it, in all God's holy institutions, 
according to the tenor -of the gospeL 

And they w^ho are not only spared, but pardoned, to whom 
grace has not only been 'offered, but savingly applied, may be 
encouraged to hope for farther displays thereof, as well as to 
improve what they have received, with the greatest diligence 
and thankfulness. 

Afthly^ Let us consider the great obligation we are laid un- 
der, by the patience of God, to a constant exercise of the grace 
of patience, in our behaviour towards God and man. 

1. In our behaviour towards God; we are hereby laid under 
the highest engagements to submit to his disposing will, and, in 
whatever state we are, therewith to be content, without mur- 
muring, or repining, when under afflictive providences. Shall we 
receive good at his hand^ and shall rve not receive evil? job ii. 
10. Has he exercised so long forbearance towards us, not only 
before we were converted, when our life was a constant course 
of rebellion, against him ; but he has since, not only passed by, 
but forgiven innumerable offences ? And shall we think it strange 
when he testifies his displeasure against us in any instances I 
Shall we be froward and uneasy, because he does not imme- 
diately give us what we desire, or deliver us from those evils 
we groan under l 

2. Let us exercise patience, in our behaviour towards men. 
Shall we give wav to, or express, unbecoming lesentment 
against those whom we converse with, for injuries done us^ 
which are often rather imaginary than real ? Or if they are very 
great, as well as undeserved, let not our passions exceed their 
due bounds ; especially let us not meditate revenge, but consi- 
der how many injuries the great God has passed over in us, 
and how long his patience has been extended towards us. 

XV. God is abundant in truth. That we may understand 
what is meant bv this perfection, we may observe the difference 
between his being called a true God, and a God of truth f 
though they seem to import the same thing,, and are not always 
distinguished in scripture : thus he tltat receiveth Christ's tes- 
timou}' , is said to set to his seal that God is triie^ that is, in ac- 
complishing what he ha» promised, respecting the salvation of 
his people, or that he is a God of truth ; and elsewhere it is 



. THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. iP 

said, Let God be true^ but every man a liar^ that is, a God of 
truth : yet they are, tor the most part, distinguished ; so that 
when he is culled the true God, or the only true God, it does 
not denote one distinct perfection of the divine nature, but the 
Godhead, in which respect it includes ail his divine perfec- 
tions, and is opposed to all others, who are called gods, but are 
not so hy nature : but this will be more particularly considered 
in the next answer. 

But when, on the other hand, we speak of him, as the God of 
truth, we intend hereby that he is true to his word, or a God 
that cannot lie, whose faithfulness is unblemished, because he 
is a God of infinite holiness ; aiid therefore whatever he has 
spoken, he will certainly bring it to pass. This respects either 
his thi'eatenings, or his promises : as, to the former of these, it 
is said, that the judgments of God^ that is, the sentence he has 
passed against sinners, is according to truth, Rom. ii. 2. and the 
display of his vindictive justice is called, his accomplishing his 
fury^ Ezek. vi. 12. This renders him the object of fear, and 
it is, as it were, a wall of fire round about his law, to secure 
the glory thereof from the insults of his enemies. 

There is also his faithfulness to his promises, in which re- 
spect he is said to be the^ faithful God^ -a)ho keepeth covenant and 
vxercij xvith them that love him^ and keep his commandments^ unto 
a thousand generations^ Deut. vii. 9. This is that which en- 
courages his people to hope and trust in him, and to expect 
that blessedness, which none of his perfections would give them 
a sufficient ground to lay claim to, were it not promised, and 
this promise secured by his infinite faithfulness. Almighty 
power is able to make us, happy, and inercy and goodness can 
communicate every thing that mav contribute thereunto ; but it 
does not from hence follow that they will, since God is under 
no natural obligation to glorify these perfections : but when he 
is pleased to give forth a promise relating hereunto, and the 
accomplishment thereof ascertained to us by his infinite faith- 
fulness ; this renders these blessings not only possible, but cer- 
tain, and so affords, to the heirs of salvation, strong consola- 
tion. It is this that renders things future as certain as though 
they were present, and so lavs a foundation for our rejoicing in 
hope of eternal life, whatever difficulties may seem to lie in the 
way of it^ 

Here we may take occasion to consider the blessings v.'hich 
are secured by the faithfulness of God, of which some respect 
mankind in general, and the blessings of common providence, 
viz. that the world should be preserved, and all flesh not perish 
out of it, from the deluge to Christ's second coming ; and that, 
during this time, the regular course of nature should not be al- 
tered, but that seed-time and harvest, eold and heat ^ summer and 



188 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

winter^ day and night., should not cease^ Gen. ix. 11. compared 
with chap. vili. 22. 

There are also promises made to the chuixh in general, that 
it should have a being in the world, notwithsttmding all the 
shocks of persecution, which it is exposed to ; and, together 
with these, God has given the greatest security, that the ordi- 
nances of divine worship should be continued, and that, in all 
places xvhere he records his name^ he xvill come to his people and 
bless them^ Exod. xx. 24. And to this we may add, that he 
has promised to increase and build up his church ; and that to 
Shiloh, the great Redeemer, should the gathering of the people 
bcy and that he would multiply them^ that they should not be few^ 
Bnd also, glorify them, that they should not be small, Gen. xlix. 
10. compared with Jer. xxx. 19. and that the glory should be of 
an increasing nature, especially that which it should arrive to 
in the latter ages of time, immediately before its exchanging 
this militant for a triumphant state in heaven. 

Moreover, there are many great and precious promises made 
to particular believers, which every one of them have a right 
to lay claim to, and are oftentimes enabled so to do, by faith, 
which depends entirely on this perfection : and these promises 
are such as respect the increase of grace ; that they shall go fro?}i 
strength to strength, or that they xvho raait on the Lord shall 
renexv their strength, Psal. ixxxiv. 7". and Isa. xl. 31. and that 
they shall be recovered, after great backslidings, Psal. xxxvii. 
14. Psal. Ixxxix. 30, — 33. and be enabled to persevere in that 
grace, which is begun in them, till it is crowned with compleat 
victory, 2 Cor. xii. 9. Rom. xvi. 20. Job xvii. 9. 1 Cor. xv. 57. 
and also that they shall be made partakers of that inward peace 
and jo}', Avhich accompanies or flows from the truth of grace, 
Isa. xi. 1. chap. Ivii. 19. chap, xxxii* 17. and that all this shall 
be attended with perfect blessedness in heaven at last, Psal. 
Ixxiii. 24. 2 Tim. iv. 8. The scripture abounds with promises 
of the like nature, which are suited to every condition, and af- 
ford relief to God's people, under all the difficulties they meet 
with in the world ; the accomplishment whereof is made sure 
to them by this divine perfection. 

Object. 1. It is objected against this divine attribute; that 
God has not, in some instances, fidfilled his threatenings, which 
has tended to embolden some in a course of obstinacy and re- 
bellion against him ; particularly that the first threatening was 
not executed as soon as man fell ; for though God told our first 
parents, that in the ver\^ day they should eat of the forbidde?! 
fruit, they should surely die : yet Adam lived after this, nine 
hundred and thirty years, Gen. ii. 1 7. compared with chap. v. 5. 

It is also objected, that God threatened to destroy Nineveh, 
within forty days after Jonah was sent to publish this message 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 139 

to them, Jonah iii. 4. nevertheless they continued in a flourish- 
ing state many years after. 

Answ. 1. As to what respects the first threatening, that deatli 
should immediately ensue upon sin's being committed, we shall 
have occasion to speak to this in its proper place,* and tliere- 
fore all that need be replied to it at present is, that the threat- 
ening was in some respect, executed the day, yea, the moment 
in which our first parents sinned : If we take it in a legal sense, 
they were immediately brought into a state of condemnation, 
which, in a forensic sense, is often called death ; they were im- 
mediately separated from God, the fountain of blessedness, and 
plunged into all those depths of misery, which Avere the conse- 
quence of their fall ; or if we take death, the punishment threat- 
ened, for that which is, indeed, one ingredient in it, to wit, the 
separation of soul and body ; or for the greatest degree of pun- 
ishment, consisting in everlasting destruction, from the presence 
of the Lord, and the glory of his power ; then it is sufficient to 
say, that man's being liable hereunto was the principal thing in- 
tended in the threatening. Certainly God did not hereby design 
to tie up his own hands, so as to render it impossible for him 
to remit the offence, or to recover the fallen creature out of this 
deplorable state ; and therefore if you take death for that which 
is natural, which was not inflicted till nine hundred and thirty 
years after, then we may say, that his being exposed to, or 
brought under an unavoidable necessity of dying the very day 
that he sinned, might be called his dying from that time ; and 
the scripture will warrant our using the word in that sense, 
sinc€ the apostle, speaking to those who were, by sin, liable to 
death, says. The body is dead^ because of sin ^ Rom. viii. 10. that 
is, it is exposed to death, as the consequence thereof, though it 
was not actually dead ; and if we take death for a liability to 
eternal death, then the threatening must be supposed to contain 
a tacit condition, which implies, that man was to expect nothing 
but eternal death, unless some expedient were found out, which 
the miserable creature then knew nothing of, to recover him out 
of that state into which he was fallen. 

2. As to what concerns the sparing of Nineveh ,: we have 
sufficient ground to conclude that there was a condition annex- 
ed to this threatening, and so the meaning is ; that they should 
be destroyed in forty days, if they did not repent: this condi- 
tion was designed to be made known to them, otherwise Jo- 
nah's preaching would have been to no purpose, and the warn- 
ing given would have answered no valuable end ; and it is plain, 
that the Ninevites understood it in this sense, otherwise there 
would have been no room for repentance ; so that God connect- 
ed the condition with the threatening: and as, on the one hand, 

* See Quest, xa: 



190 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

he designed to give them repentance, so that the event was not 
dubious and undetermined by him, as depending on their con- 
duct, abstracted from his providence ; so, on the other hand, 
there was no reflection cast on his truth, because this provision- 
ary expedient, for their dehverance, was as much known by 
them as the threatening itself. 

Object. 2. It is objected that several promises have not had 
their accomplishment. Thus there are several promises of spi- 
ritual blessings, which many believers do not experience the 
accomplishment of in this life ; which has given occasion to some 
to say, with the Psalmist, Doth his promise fail for evermore f 
Psal. Ixxvii. 8. 

Ansxv. It is true, that ail the promises of God are not lite- 
rally fulfilled in this world to every particular believer j the 
promise of increase of grace is not actually fulfilled, while God 
suffers his people to backslide from him, and the work of grace 
is rather declining than sensibly advancing; neither are the 
promises, respecting the assurance and joy of faith, fidfiUed 
unto one that is sinking into the depths of despair ; nor those 
that respect the presence of God in ordinances, to such as are 
destitute of the influences of his grace therein ; nor are the pro- 
mises of victory over temptation fulfilled, to those who are not 
only assaulted, but frequmiiy overcome by Satan, when it is as 
much as they can do to stand their ground against him ', and 
there are many other instances of the like nature : notwithstand- 
ing, the truth of God may be vindicated, if we consider, 

1. That there is no promise made, whereof there are not 
some instances of their accomplishment in kind ; this therefore 
is a sufficient conviction to the world, that there are such bless- 
ings bestowed as God has promised. 

2^ Those who are denied these blessings, may possibly be 
mistaken when they conclude themselves to be believers ; and 
then it is no wonder that they are destitute of them, for God 
has promised to give joy and peace only in a way of believing j 
or first to give the truth of grace, and then the comfortable 
fruits and effects thereof. But we will suppose that they are 
not mistaken, but have experienced the grace of God in truth; 
yet their graces are so defective, that they know but little of 
their own imperfections, if they do not take occasion from 
thence, to justify God, who with-holdeth those blessings from 
them, and to adore, rather than call in question, the equity of 
his proceeding therein. And if remunerative justice be not 
laid under obligations to bestow these blessings by any thing 
performed by us, then certainly the faithfulness of God is not 
to be impeached, because he is pleased to denv them. 

3. In denying these blessings, he oftentimes takes occasion to 
advance his own glory some other way, by trying the faith and 



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 191 

patience of his people, correcting them for their miscarriages, 
humbling th^m by his dealings with them, and over-riunig all 
for their good in the end; which is an equivalent for those joys 
and comtorts which they are deprived ol. And, indeed, God 
has never promised these blessings to any, but with this reserve, 
that if he thinks it necessary, for his o^vn glory, and their good, 
to bring about their salvation some other way, he will do it, 
without the least occasion given hereby to detract from the 
glory of his faithfulness. 

4. All these promises, which have not had their accomplish- 
ment in kind, in this world, shall be accomplished in the next, 
with the greatest advantage ; so that then they will have no rea- 
son to complain of the least unfaithfulness in the divine admi- 
nistration. If rivers of pleasures at God's right hand for ever, 
will not compensate for the want of some comtorts, while we 
are in this world, or silence all objections against his present 
dealings with men, nothing can do it ; or if the full accomplish- 
ment of all the promises hereafter, will not secure the glory of 
this perfection, it is a sign that men are disposed to contend 
with the Almighty, who deny it ; therefore to such we may 
justly apply God's own words to Job, He that reproveth God^ 
let him answer it; or, as he farther says. Wilt thou disannul my 
judgment? Wilt thou condemn me^ that thou niayest be righte- 
ous ? Job xl. 2. compared with ver. 8. 

We shall now consider how the faithfulness of God ought to 
be improved by us. And, 

(1.) The consideration thereof may be a preservative against 
presumption on the one hand, or despair on the other. Let no 
one harden himself in his iniquity ; or think that because the 
threatnings are not yet fully accomplished, therefore the}' never 
shall ; it is one thing for God to delay to execute them, and 
another thing to resolve not to do it. We may vainly conclude, 
that the bitterness of death is past, because our houses are safe 
from fear ^ neither is the rod of God upon them ; but let it be con- 
sidered, that the xvicked are reserved for the day of destruction ; 
they shall be brought forth to the day ofxvrath^ Job xxi. 9. com • 
pared with ver. 30. the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do tl;i.s„ 
His threatenings lay him under an obligation to punish finally 
impenitent sinners, because he is a God of truth ; therefore let 
none harden themselves against him, or expect impunity in a 
course of open rebellion against him. And, on the other hand, 
let not believers give way to despair of obtaining mercy, or con- 
clude, that, because God is withdrawn, and hides his face from 
them, therefore he will never return ; or, because his promises 
are not immediately fulfilled, therefore they never shall, since 
his faithfulness is their great security; hetvillever be mindful 
of his ii'jvenant^ Psal. cxi. 5, 



192 THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. 

(2.) Let US compare the providences of God with his word, 
and see how every thing tends to set forth his faithfulness. We 
are very stupid, if we take notice of the great things that are 
doing in the woild ; and we behold ihem to little purpose, if 
we do not observe how this divine perfection is glorified there- 
in. The world continues to this day, because God has several 
things yet to do in it, in pursuance of his promises ; the whole 
number of the elect are to be gathered, and brought in to 
Christ ; their graces must be tried, and their faith built up in 
the same way, as it has been in former ages ; therefore the 
church is preserved, and the gates of hell have not prevailed a- 
g-ainst it^ according to his word, Matth. xvi. 18. and as it was 
of old, so we now observe that the various changes which are 
made in civil a^airs, are ail rendered subservient to its welfare ; 
the earth helps the rvo?nan, Rev. xii. 16. not so much from its 
its own design, as by the appointment of providence ; and why 
does God order it so, but that his promises might be fulfilled ? 
And that the same ordinances should be continued, and that 
believers should have the same experience of the efficacy and 
success thereof, as the consequence of his presence with them, 
which he has given them ground to expect unto the end of the 
-ivorld^ Matth. xxviii. 20. are blessings in which his faithful- 
ness is eminently glorified. 

(2.) This divine perfection is a sure foundation for our faith. 
As his truth, with respect to what he has revealed, is an infal- 
lible gi'ound for our faith of assent, so his faithfulness, in fulfil- 
ling his promises, affords the highest encouragement for our 
trust and dependence on him : thus we are said to commit the 
keeping of our souls to him in xvell-doing^ as unto a faithful Cre- 
ator^ 1 Pet. iv. 19. and, when we lay the whole stress of our 
salvation upon him, we have no reason to entertain any doubt 
about the issue thereof. Moreover, are we exposed to evils in 
this world ? we may conclude, that as he has delivered^ and does 
deliver^ so we have reason to trust in him^ that he will deliver 
us^ 2 Cor. i. 10. and is there much to be done for us, to make 
us meet for heaven ? we may be confdent of this very thi?2g, 
that he that has begun a good rvork in us, xvill perform it until 
the day of 'Jesus Christ, Phil. i. 6. 

(4.) The faithfulness of God should be improved by us, as a 
remedy against that uneasiness and anxiety of mind, which we 
often have about the event of things, especially when they seem 
to run counter to our expectation. Thus when there is but a 
very melancholy prospect before us, as to what concerns the 
glory of God in the world, and the flourishing state of his 
church in it, upon which we are ready to say with Joshua, 
Lord, xvhat wilt thou do unto thy great name ? Josh. vii. 9. or 
when we have many sad thoughts of heart about the rising 



THE UxVlTY Oi' GOD. i9^ 

generation, and are in doubt whether they vvrill adhere to, or a- 
handon, the interest of Christ ; when wc are ready to fear whcr 
ther there will be a reserve of faithful men, who will stand up 
for his gospel, and fill the places of those who are calltd off the 
stage, after having served their generation by the will of God ; 
or when we are too much oppressed with carkiiig cares about 
our outward condition in the world, when, like Christ's disci- 
ples, we are immoderately thoughtful rvhat xve sliall eat^ what, 
xve shall drink ^ or wherexvithalxve shall be clothed^ Matth. vi. 31. 
or how we shall be able to conflict with the difficulties that lie 
before us : our great relief against all this solicitude is to be de- 
rived from the faithfulness of God ; for since godliness has the 
promise annexed to it, of the life that now is, as well as of that 
which is to come, 1 Tim. iv. 18. this promise shall have its ac- 
complishment, so far as shall most redbund to God's glory, and 
our real advantage. 

(5.) The consideration of the faithfulness of God should he 
improved, to humble, and fill us with shame and confusion of 
face, when we consider how treacherously we have dealt with 
him, how unsteadfast we have been in his covenant, how often 
we have broke our own promises and resolutions that we would 
walk more closely with him, how frequently we have backslid- 
<len from him, contrary to all the engagements which we ^ave 
been laid under. Have we found any unfaithfulness in him ? 
Has he, in the least instance, been worse than his word ? as God 
says, wlven he reproves his people. What iniquity have your fa- 
thers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have 
walked after vanity, and are become vain ? Jer. ii. 5. 



Quest. VOI. Are there ?nore Gods than one ? 

Answ. There is but one only, the living and true God. 

I. "i^N this answer, God is described as the living and true 
ji_ God. As life is the greatest excellency belonging to the 
nature of any finite being, upon which account some have con- 
cluded that the lowest degree thereof renders a creature more 
excellent in itself, than the most glorious creatures that are 
without it ; and inasmuch as intelligent creatures have a supe- 
rior excellency to all others, because that which gives life to 
them, or the principle by which they act as such, is most ex- 
cellent; so the life of God is that whei-eby he infinitely excels 
all finite beings ; therefore, when he is called the living God, 
this is not one single perfection of the divine nature, but it is 
expressive of all his divine perfections. Thus when Ciod repre- 
sents himself, in scripture, as giving his people the highest as- 
surance of any thing which he designs to do, he useth the form 
Vol. I. ' Ii B 



194 THE UNITY OF GOD. 

ef an oath, and sweareth by his life, As Hive; or, as truly us I 
iive^ Isa. xlix. 18. and Numb. xiv. 21. which imports the same 
thing, as wiien he says, I have szuom by myself^ Gen. xxii. 16. 
so that when he is called the Uving God, his glory is set forth, 
as a God of infinite perfection : but tliis has been considered 
under the last answer. 

Thei'efore we may farther observe, that when God is stjled 
the livmg God, it connotes the display of all his perfections, as 
life is a principle of action ; and hereby he is distinguished from 
lifeless idols, who were reputed gods by their stupid and pro- 
fane worshippers. Thus the apostle lays down both the terms 
of opposition, when he speaks to some, as having turned from 
idols i, or false gods, to serve the living and true- God, 1 Thess. 
i. 9. Here we might consider the origin and progress of idola- 
try, as men were inclined to xvorship the creature more than the 
Creator, Rom. i. 25. or to do service to them, -who, by nature, 
are no- gods. Gal. xv. 8. and shew iiow some seemed to have 
been destitute of common sense, as they were of true religion, 
when they not only worshipped God by idols, of their own mak- 
ing, but prayed to them, and said, Deliver us, for ye are our 
gods ; this the prophet takes notice of, Isa. xliv. 17. and expo- 
ses their unaccountable stupidity, by observing to them that 
these gods were first growing among' th-i trees of the forest, 
then cut down with their own hands, and fashioned into their 
designed form, and part thereof cast into the fire, as destined 
for common uses. These were lifeless gods, without a meta- 
phor, and their senseless worshippers but one remove from 
them, as the Psalmist says, They that make them are like unto 
them, and so is every one that trusteth in them, Psal. cxv. 8. 
But this we shall have occasion to insist on in a following part 
of this work *, and therefore shall pass it over at present, and 
consider, 

II. The unity of the Godhead. Scripture is very express in 
asserting this : thus it is said, The Lord our God is one Lord, 
Deut. vi. 4. and, /, even I, am he ; and there is no God with 
me, chap, xxxii. 39. and. The Lord he is God ; there is none else 
besides him, chap. iv. 2>5> and elsewhere, Thou art God alone^ 
Psal. Ixxxvi. 10. And this is a truth, not barely founded on a 
few places of scripture that expressly assert it, but it may be 
deduced from every part thereof ; yea, it is instamped on the 
verv nature of man, and may be as plainly proved, from the light 
of nature, as that there is a God ; and every one of the divine 
perfections, which were particularly considered under the last 
answer, will supply us with ai'guments to confirm our faith 
therein : but that this may farther appear, let it be considered, 

• See Quest, cv. 



THE UNITY OF GOD. 1'J5 

1. That the idea of a God implies that he is the first cause of 
»il things, in which respect he is opposed to the creature ; it fol- 
lows, therefore, that he was from all eternity. Now there can be 
no more than one being, who is without beginning, and who 
gave being to all other things, which appears from the very na- 
ture of the thing ; for if there are more Gods, then they must 
derive their being from him, and then tkey are a part of his 
creation, and consequently not gods, for Gbd and the creature 
are infinitely opposed to each other : and since there is but one 
independent being, who is in and of himself, and derives his per- 
fections from no other, therefore there can be but one Gc)d. 

2. There is but one bL:ing, who is the ultimate end of all 
things, which necessarily follows from his being their Creator ; 
for he that produced them out of nothing must be supposed to 
have designed some valuable end hereby, v/hich, ultimately con- 
sidered, cannot be any thing short of himself, for that is incon- 
sistent with the wisdom and sovereignty' that is contained in the 
idea of a Creator ; therefore he is said to have made all tiling^- 

for himself Prov. xvi. 4. and consequently the glory that results 
from thence is unalienable, anji so cannot be ascribed to any 
other God ; therefore to suppose that there are other gods, is to 
ascribe a divine nature to them, divested of that glory v> hich 
is essential to it. And to this we may add, that if Ciod be the 
ultimate end of all things, he is to be glorified as supii, and all 
worship is to terminate in him ; and we must proclaim him to 
be our chief good, and only poition and h/appines:?, which is 
plainly inconsistent with a plurality of gocis. Besides, he that is 
the object of adoration must be wor^liipped, and loved xvith all 
our hearty soid^ strength^ and mind. Luke x. 27. our affections 
must not be divided between him and any other. Therefore 
since man is under a natural, obligation to give supreme wor- 
ship to him, it follows that there is no other God that has a 
right to it, and therefore that he is the only true God. 

3. Infinite perf-^ttjon being implied in the idea of a Ciod, as 
has been proved under the last answer, it is certain that it can- 
not belong to niore than one ; for as it implies that this perfec- 
tion is boundless, so it denotes that he sets bounds to the per- 
fections of all others ; therefore, if there are more Gods than 
one, their perfections must be limited, and consequent!)- that 
which is not infinite is not God. And as infinite perfecdon im- 
plies in it all perfection, so it cannot be divided amon^ many, 
for then no being, that has only a part thereof, could be said to 
be thus perfect ; therefore, since there is but one that is so, it fol- 
lows that there is no other God besides him. 

4. Since omnipotency is a divine attribute, there can be but 
one almighty being, and therefore but one God ; which will 
farther appear, if we consider, that if there were more Godt: 



1-J6 THE UNITY OF GOU. 

than one, all 6f them must be said to be able to do all thlngSs, 
and then the same individual power, that is exerted by one, 
must be exerted by another, than which nothing is more absurd. 
And it will also follow, that he, who cannot do that which is 
said to be done by another, is not almight}', or able to do all 
things, and consequently that he is not God. 

5. There is but one being, who has an absolute sovereign 
will, who, though he can controul all others, is himself subject 
to no controul ; who has a natural right to give laws to all who 
are his subjects, but is subject to none himself ; for absolute do- 
minion and subjection are as opposite as light and darkness. 
Two persons may as well be said to give being to each other, 
as to have a right to give laws to each other. Moi'eover, if there 
were more Gods than one, then there would be a confusion in 
f he g-overnment of the world ; for whatever one decrees, another 
may reverse ; or whatever is done by one, the contrary might 
^ done by the other, for that is the consequence from a sove- 
reignty of will. And as there might be opposite things com- 
manded, or forbidden, pursuant to the different walls of a plura- 
lity of gods, so tht; same thing, with respect to those who are 
under an obligation to yield obedience, would be both a sin and 
a duty, and the same persons would be both condemned and 
justified for the same action. 

6. There is but one being, who is, as God is often said to 
be, the best and the greatest ; therefore, if there were more 
Gods than one, either one must be supposed to be more excel- 
lent than another, or both equally excellent. If we suppose the 
former of these, then he, who is not the most excellent, is not, 
God ; and if the latter, that their excell< ncies are equal, then in- 
finite perfection would be divided, which is contrary to the idea 
thereof, as was before hinted ; as well as to what is expressly 
iSaid by God, To w/ioiii xviU ye liken me^ or shall I be equal? 
Saitli the Noli/ One^ Isa. xl. 25* From these, and several other 
arguments to the same purpose, which might have been taken 
from every one of the divine attributes, and from all essential 
and relative glory which belongs to him, the unity of the divine 
essence appears, even to a demonstration. And indeed to as- 
sert that there are more Gods than one is, in effect, to say that 
there is no God ? so the apostle deems it, when he tells the church 
at Ephesus, that, before their conversion, when they worship- 
ped other gods, theif xuere ■without God in the xvorld^ which im- 
plies as much as that they were atheists therein, as the words 
otSso* ki rraivxrixoi may, Vvith equal propriety, be rendered. («) 

« " As gravity is the common quality of all bodies, arising" not from the nature 
rmd properties of mutter, nor to be explained witliout the agency of a foreign cause, 
'-et prodticiiig numberless uniform cftbcts in the corporeal system, it is in all rea 



THE UNITY OF GOD. 197 

Having considered the tlnity of the Godhead, not only as e- 
vinced from scripture, but as it may be demonstrated by the 

son to !)e attributed to one contriviince, rather tJian the difft rent designs of two 
or more partial independent causes. What a vast variety of appeai-anccs in nature 
tiepenil on this one ? The self-balanced earth hangs upon its centre ; tiie moun- 
tains are set fast ; there is a perpetual IJux and rehux of the seu ; vapours contijm- 
ally arise ; tlie clouds are balanced till by theii- own weight they descend in rain ; 
animals breathe and move ; the heavenly bodies hold then- stations, and go on in 
their constant course, by tlie force of gravity, after the ordinance of that wisdom 
which appointed them this law. Now when we see a multitude of effects proceed- 
ing from one Cause, effects so various in their kind and so important, a Cause sim- 
ple and unvaried in all the diversity produced by it, can we avoid ascribing thi.s 
to an unity of intelligence, if there be mtelligence in it all ? For coidd we suppose 
different independent beings, acting witli different designs, and by distinct ope- 
rations to have formed tlie several parts of the world, and the several species of 
creatures which are in it, what reason can be imagined why they should all be 
governed by, and all necessarily depend upon, one law .■' The Maker of the sun, or, 
if a partial cause of nature could be supposed to have an understanding large e- 
nough for it, Uie Contriver of the whole visible heavens, must, one would think, 
have finished his scheme independently on any other, without borrowmg aid from 
the work of another God. In like manner the Gods of the seas and of the dry land, 
and the Creator of animals, would have completed their several systems, each by 
itsellj not depending on any other tor its order and preservation. Whereas, on tht; 
contrarj , we see m fact they are none of them independent, but all held together 
by the common bond of gravity. The heavens and the eanh continue in their situ- 
ations at a proper distance from each other b)' the force of tins law ; tlie sea keeps 
witlun its channels ; and animals live and move by it. All which lead us to ac- 
knowledge one directing Counsel in the whole frame. For what but an under- 
standing which compreliends the whole extent of nature, reaching from tlie ut- 
most circuit of heaven to the centre of tlie eaath, could have fixed such a common 
Jaw, so iwcessary to all its parts, that withciit it not one of them could subsist, 
nor tlie harmony of the whole be preserved .•' The strict cohesion of tlie parts 
v\ hicli constittite paiticidai- bodies requires a peculiiu- cement, diffiirent from that 
of the griivitating force ; and as it can never be explained by tlie nature and pro- 
perties of matter itself, and is absolutely necessary to the foniis and tiie uses of 
bodies in the several far distant regions of the world, it niu^-t i0 like maimer be 
attributed to die contrivance of an uuder>tandiiig, and the agency of a power, 
which takes in the whole corporeal system, not to a partial cause, limited in its 
intelligence and operation. 

2illy, The beautiful order and harmony of the umverse, since it must be acknow- 
ledged to be the work ot' understiuidmg, has all the appearance which is necessa- 
ry to satisfy any fau' inquirer, of its being formed under the dii-ection of one go- 
verning wisdom. Disconcerted counsels can never produce harmony. If a plura- 
lity of intelligent causes pursue each his separate design, disunion wiU continual- 
ly cleave to their works; but when we see an intire piece made up of many parts, 
all corresponding to each other, and conspiring together so as to answer one com- 
mon end, we naturally conclude unity of design. As a work of art is formed ac- 
cording to the preconceived idea of a designing- artiffcer, without whicli it has not 
its necessaiy intii-eness and uniformity, the same may be obser\ ed in tiie works of 
iiiiture. A tree is as much one as a house ; an animal as complete a system m it 
self, (only much more curiously framed,) as a clock. If we carry our views farther 
into naiure, and take in whole regions of the imiversc, with all their contents, 
the same cliaracters of unity are still visible. The eartji itself is not a confused 
mass, or a medley of incoherent and unrelated parts, but a well contri\ed fabric, 
fitted and plainly designed for use. If we consider what a multitude of living crea- 
tijres are iu it, of different kinds and degrees of perfection, each sort having pro- 
per apartments assigned them, where they dwell conveniently together, with suit- 
able provision mad(; for them;, and insti'icls directing tJiem to tlie use of it ; if we 



J 95 THE UNITY OF GOD. 

light of nature, it will be necessary that we obviate an objection 
tiiat may be brought against this latter method of proving it, viz. 



consider the inlerests qf the several kinds, not interfering in the main, but rather 
serviceable to each otlier, furnished with necessary defences against the inconve- 
niences to wliich they are liable, either by the preventing care of nature, which 
without any thought of tiicir own has provided for then- safet;-, by the apj>omted 
advantages of then* situation, or by an implanted wisdom directing them to find 
out the means of it ; and if we consider the constant mterposition of the same li- 
beral intelligent nature, appearing by the daily new productions from the same 
fertile womb of the earth, whereby the returning wants of animals are relieved 
with fresh supplies, all the species of living things having the common benelit of 
the au', witliout which they could not subsist, and the light of the sun, which can- 
not at once illuminate the wliole globe, bemg dispensed among them with so good 
oeconomy, that they have every one wiiat is sufficient to guide tliem in the exer- 
cise of their proper functions, that they may fulfil the purposes of their beings ; — 
when we consider all tins, can we doubt but the eai-th is disposed and governed 
by one intending Cause ? If in a large house, wherein are many mansions, and a 
vast variety of mhibit;mts, there appears exact order, all from "the highest to the 
lowest c6ntinu;diy attending their proper business, and all lodged and constantly 
provided for suitably to then- several conditions, we find ourselves obliged to ac- 
knowledge one wise occonoiny. And if in a great city or commonwealth there be 
a perfectly regular administration, so that not only the whole society enjoys an 
undisturbed peace, but every member has the station assigned him which he is 
best qu:dified to iiil; the unenvied chieis constantly attend their more important 
cares, served by the busy inferiors, who have all a suitable accommodation, and 
food convenient tor them, the very meanest ministering to the public utility and 
protected by thepuljlic care; if, I say, in such a commmiity we must conclude 
there is a ruling (Jouiisel, which if not natm-ally, yet is politically one, iuid, unless 
united, could not produce such harmony and order, much more have we reason 
to recognize one governing Intelligence in the earth, in which there ai-e so many 
ranks of beings disposed of in the most convenient manner, having- all their seve- 
ral provinces appointed to them, and their several kinds and degTees of enjoyment 
liberally provided for, without encroaching upon, but rather being- mutually use- 
ful to each otlier, according to a settled and obvious subordination. What else can 
account for this but a sovereign Wisdom, a common provident nature, presiduig 
over, and caring for tlie whole ? 

But the earth, as gi-eat as it appears to us, complicated in its fi-ame, and hav- 
ing such a vai'iety in its constitution, sustaining and nourishing so many tribes of 
animals, yet is not an intire system by itself, but has a relation to, and dependence 
on, other parts of the universe, as well as the beings it contains have ujion it. It 
owes its stability to the common law of gravitation ; it derives its light and its 
lieat from the sun, by which it is rendered fruitful and commodious to its inhabi- 
tants. In siiort, a bond ot union runs through the whole circle of being, as fai* as 
human knowledge reaches ; and we have reason to m;ike the same judg-ment con- 
cemmg the p;i!-ts of tiie world which we do not know, and to conclude that they 
all together compose one great whole, which natundly leads us to acknowledge 
one supreme uniting LiteUigence. To object against this the possibility of wild 
confusion reigning in worlds iinkiiown is to feign, mk\ not to argue ; and to sup- 
pose disorder prevalent in an infinity of being which we are unacquainted with, 
which is tlie Jitheistic hypothesis, is to take awa} all rationed foundation for regu- 
larity any where, though we see it actually obta.ns ever}' where, as far :.s our ob- 
servation can reach. But confining our specui .( -ns on this subject within tlie 
compass of known existence, as we ought to do in a fair inquiiy, the apparent or- 
der of the effects is a strong evidence of unity in the Cause. For if different inde- 
pendent causes produced, eacli, a part, why arc there no footsteps of th s in the 
whole extent of nature .' Why does not so much as one piece appe; r, as the sepa- 
rate monument of its autlior's power and wisdom ? From divided counsels one 
would naturally expect interfering schemes ; but, on the contrary, we see an unir 



THE UKiTY OF GOt». 199 

'Object. If the unity of the Godhead might be known by the 
dictates of nature, or demonstrated by other arguments, besides 

Tersiil harmony. Men indeed from a sense of their indigence, and by the diieetion 
of instincts, which must be attribiued to the desigiung author of then- constitu- 
tion, joiii m .societies ; uhich, though composed of m.-my, ai-e governed by one 
coiuibcl : but that is only .m artificial union, a submission to the msjonty, or to 
those who have the supreme power delegated to them, rather than an agireinent 
in design. But tliis cannot be the case of independent beings, self-existent, and 
each complete in itself, without relation to any other. And jet we sec in nature 
a pei-lect harmony, from whence it is plam there must be an agreement at least ui 
couHsel and design, if we could suppose a plurality of hidependeiit causes. But 
whence comes this agreement ? To say by chance, is atheislicully, and very unrea- 
sonably, to attribute the most perfect oi all efl'ects, universal order, to no cause at 
all. It we say by design, it musi be one comprehensive design forming the whole 
scheme of natui'e and providence, which directly brings us to what we arc look- 
ing for, one sovereign commanding Intelligence in the cniverse, or one God. This 
was tlie ai'gument by which some of the ancient piiilosophers proved that there 
is one only eternal and iinlependent Principle, the Fountain of being and the Au- 
thor of idl tilings. Pijthaguyas called it ;■- Jlonad; and Aristotle argued from the 
phaenomena that all things are plainly co-ordered, to one, i lie \\ hole world conspir- 
ing mto agreeing haiunony : ^^'hereas, if there were many independent principles, 
tlie sj'stem of the world must needs have been incohei'ent and inconspiring ; like 
an ill-agreeing drama, botched up of maiij impertment interscrUons. And he con- 
cludes that things are well administered, which they could not be under the go- 
vernment of many, alluding to the verse m Homer, qvk etyuQov Uot.vy.oifsivm, u; Yloi- 
g«vo; icv. 

3dlt/, The condition and order of inferior, derived, and evidently dependent in- 
telligent agents shew not only intelligence, but unity of intelligence, in the Cause 
of them. Every man, a single active conscious self, is the image of his Maker. 
There is in him one undivided animating principle, which in its perceptions and 
operations runs thi-ough the whole system of matter that it inhabits; it perceives 
for all the most distant pai'ts of the body ; it cares for all, and goveri's all, leading 
us, as a resemblance, to form an idea of the one gi-eat quickening Spirit, which 
presides over the vvliole frame of nature, the spring of motion and all operation in 
it, underst;indnig and active m all the pm-ts of the universe, not as its sovd indeed, 
but as its Lord, by whose vital directing influence it is, though so vast a bulk, 
and consisting of so many parts^ united into one regular fabric. Again, the general 
apparent likeness which there is among all the individuals of the human kind is 
a strong evidence of their being the children of one Father. I do not mean princi- 
pally tlie similitude of the exterior form, (though even that, in reason, should ix- 
attributed to the direction of one intelligent Cause,) but that whereby we are es- 
pecially God's offspring, our intellectual capacities, which as far as we can judge 
ai'e very nearly alike. A great difference there may be, no doubt there is, in tin- 
improvement of them ; bnt the powers themselves, and all the original modes of 
perception, in the different individuals of mankind, seem to reseinlile each other, 
as much as any real distinct things in nature. Now from a multitude, or a con- 
stant series of similar eflects which do not arise from necessity, we infer uni- 
ty of design in the Cause. So great a number of rational beings as the whole hu- 
man race, disposed of in the same manner, endued with like faculties and affec- 
tions, having many, and those principal things in their condition, common, provid- 
ed for out of the same fund, and made for the same purposes, may reasonably be 
supposed to belong to one familyi to be derived from the same orighi, and still 
under the same paternal care. 

Above all, the moral capacity of mankind, which is a most important part of 
their constitution, tending to the highest perfection of their nature, and the prin- 
cipal bond of regular society among them, as it proceeds from a wise intending 
Cause, shews imity of wisdom in the Cause ; and the government over the moral, 
i*s well as the natural, world evidently appears to be a nionuixhy." 



iiOO ilih UNIlY Of GQPi 

those which are matter of pure revelation, how comes it to pass 
that the heathen owned, and worshipped, a plurahty of gods ? 
and as it was not one particular sect among them that did so, 
but this abominable practice universally obtained, where reveal- 
ed religion was not knov/n, therefore, though this be an un- 
doubted truth, yet it is not founded in the light of nature. 

Ansxv. That they did so is beyond dispute, especially after 
idolatry had continued a few ages in the world, and so had ex- 
tinguished those principles of revealed religion, which mankind, 
before this, were favoured with ; yet it must be considered, that 
though the ignorant and unthinking multitude, among them, 
believed every thing to be a God, which the custom of the coun- 
tries where they lived had induced them to pay divine adora- 
tion to, yet the wiser sort of them^ however guilty of idolatrj^, 
by paying a lower kind of worship to them, have, notwithstand- 
ing, maintained the unity of the Godhead, or that there is one 
God superior to them all^ whom they often call the father of 
gods and men ; to whom probably the Athenians erected that 
altar, as the apostle Paul observes, with this inscription. To 
THE UNKNOWN GOD ,* because he savs, in the words imme- 
diately foiJowing, Whom therefore ye ignorantly worships him 
declare I unto you^ Acts xvii. 23. 

This appears from what they assert to the same purpose, 
whereby they plainly discover their belief of but one supreme 
God, who has all the incommunicable perfections of the divine 
nature, however, in other instances, their conduct seemed to 
run counter to their method of reasoning : thus it appears, by 
their writings, that many of them assert that there is a God, 
who is the first cause, or beginning, of all things ; and that he 
was from eternity, or in the beginning, and that time took its 
rise from him ; that he is the living God, the fountain of life, 
and the best of all beings * : Also, that this God is self-suffi- 
cient, and therefore it is absurd to suppose that he stands in 
need of, or can receive advantage from, any one f ; and that 
he is the chief good, or contains in himself whatever is good^ 
aiid that by him all things consist ; and that no one hath enough 
in hii"nselfto secin-e his own safety and happiness, which is to 
be derived from him ij:. 

And there are oihers also, who plainly assert the unity of 
God in as strong terms, as though they had learned it from 
divine r6velation, calling him, the beginning, the end, and-au- 
thor of all things ; who was before, and is above all things, the 
Lord of all, the fountain of life, light, and all good, yea, good- 
ness itself; the most excellent being; and many other expres- 

* See Jrist. Metaphrjs. Lib. I. Cap. 2. ^ Ub. XII. Cap. ?. f Vid. ejus. 

Maj. Moral. Lib. IL Cop. 15. t Vid. ejus. De Meribus, Lib. IX. Cap. 4. tif 
-De MunJo, Cap. 6. 



THE UNITY OF GOD. 20J 

sions to the like purpose. I could multiply quotations for the 
proof of this, from Proclus, Porphyry, lamblicus, Plotinus. 
Plutarch, Epictetus, and several others ; but this has been air 
ready done by other hands * ; by which it appears, that thougli 
they mention other gods, they suppose them to be little more 
than titular or honorary gods ; or at least persons, who were 
the peculiar favourites of God, and admitted to the participa- 
tion of divine honours, as well as employed in some part of 
the government of the world. They frequently speak of them 
as having derived their being from God, whom they call the 
cause of causes, the God of gods. Some of them speak of God 
in the singular numljer, throughout the greatest part of their 
writiiigs, and only make mention of the gods occasionally, espe- 
cially when they treat of those works that become a God, or 
the greatest honours that are due to him; thus Seneca and Plato, 
and, in particular, the latter of them says, concerning him- 
self f, that when he wrote any thing in a grave and serious 
manner, his custom was, to preface his epistles with the -men- 
tion of one God ; though, it is true, when he wrote otherwise, 
he used the common mode of speaking, and talked of other 
gods ; and it is observed, in his writings, that he sometimes 
uses this phrase ; If it please God, or by the help of God, not 
the gods. 

But, notwithstanding this, they were all idolaters, for they 
joined in the rites of worship performed to the false gods of 
their respective countries ; yea, Socrates himself, who fell un- 
der the displeasure of the Athenians, for asserting the unity of 
the Godhead, which cost him his life, did not refuse to pay 
some religious lionour to the heathen gods. So that it is plain 
they paid some religious worship to them, but it was of an in- 
ferior and subordinate nature, not much unlike to that which 
the Papists give to saints and angels : but they are far from 
setting them upon a level with God ; for they confess they were 
but men, who formerly lived in this world; they give an acr 
count of their birth and parentage ; where they lived and died,' 
write the history of their lives, and what procured them the 
honour they suppose them after death advanced to ^ ; how some 
of them obtained it, as the reward of virtue, or in commemo- 
ration of the good they had done to the world in their life : as 
some were advanced to this honour, who were the inventors 
of arts, beneficial to mankind, or were successful in wars, or a 
public blessing to the country where they lived, others had 
this honour conferred upon them, especially among the Ro-? 
mans, at the request of their surviving friends ; and this was 
done after Julius Caesar's time, by the decree of the senate, 

* Vid. Mortixi de Vent. Relig: Christ, cap. 3. f Kjtist. XUT. iitl Dioiuf, 
4 Sue Cicero rk .Witnra Drurum. 

Vol. I. C c 



202 THE UNITY OF GOD. 

who, at the same time, when they ranked them among the 
number of their gods, appointed also the rites of v/orshlp that 
should be paid to them ; and some of the Roman emj.erors 
obhged the senate to deify them while they were alivf;. These 
things are veiy largely insisted on, by many ancient and 
modern writers *; so that, upon the whole, it plainly appears, 
'that, whatever they say of a plurality of gods, the wiser sort 
among the heatiien did not deny the unity of the divine es- 
sence, in the highest and most proper sense ; and, inasmuch as 
they received the knowledge hereof from the light of nature, 
we may from hence conclude that this truth might be known 
that way, as well as by divine revelation. 

We shall conclude Avith some practical inferences from the 
doctrine contained in this answer. 

1. Since be, Avho is the object of our worship, is the living 
God ; this reproves that lifeless formal way, in which many 
address themselves to him, in the performance of religious du- 
ties, Avithout that reverence and due regard to the divine per- 
fections, which are contained in this character of the Godhead. 
It is also a v-ery great aggravatior.., not onlv of apostacy, but 
of any degree of backsliding, in those who have made a pro- 
fession of religion ; that it is a departure from the living God^ 
Heb. iii. 12. Is he the God and giver of life, and shall we 
forsake him, who has the words of eternal life^ John vi. 68. 
whose sovereign will has the sole disposal thereof? 

Again, this consideration, of his being the living God, ren- 
ders his judgments most terrible, and his wrath insupportable ,• 
as the apostle says. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of 
the living God^ Heb. x. 31. 

2. From his being the true God, we infer, that all hypocri- 
sy, both in heart and life, is to be avoided ; and we should 
draw nigh to him with a true heart and faith unfeigned ; and 
not like those whom the prophet reproves, Avhen he says, God 
was near in their mouthy and far from their reins ^ Jer. xii. 2. 

Moreover, let us take heed that Vv'e do not set up an idol in 
our hearts, in opposition to him as the true God : whatever 
has a greater share in our affections than God, or is set up in 
competition with him, that is, to us, a god, and is therefore 
inconsistent with our paying that regard which is due to him ; 
as our Saviour savs, 2V cannot serve God and mammon^ Mat. 
vi. 24. and, upon this account, covctousness is styled idolatry. 
Col. iii. 5. as the world is loved more than him; and we read 
of some tvhose God is their belly ^ Phil. iii. 19. who make pro- 
vision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, as though this 
was their chief good. And when we confide in any thing be- 

* See Tertull Apol. Lactav.t. de fulsa Relig. Arnob. contra Geiites ; J\fimtt. 
Fd. Ilerodian. Hist. Lib. IV. See nlsc ,Mede's apostasy of the latter times, map. 3, 4. 



IHK UNITY or GOD. :^0J, 

low him, in a religious way, or expect that from the creature 
which is only to be found in him ; or when we esteem men as 
lords of our faith; or when his sovereignty, or right to govern 
us, is called in question, while we presumptuously, or wilfully, 
rebel against him ; this is, in effect, a dethroning, or denying 
him to be the true God : but more of this when we consider 
the sins forbidden in the first commandment *. 

3. From the unity of the Godhead, we may infer, that we 
ought to take heed that we do not entertain any conceptions ot 
the divine Being, which are inconsistent herewith ; therefore, 
as we are not to assert a plurality of gods, so we are not to 
think or speak of God in such a way as tends to overthrow the 
simplicity of the divine nature; therefore we must not con- 
ceive that it is compounded of various parts, all which, being 
taken together, tend to constitute the divine essence ; which 
gives occasion to that known aphorism, generally laid down by 
those who treat of this subject, that xvhatever is in God^ is God; 
which we must reckon u^s one of the incomprehensibles of the 
divine Being, which when we attempt to speak of, we only 
give an evident proof of the imperfection of our finite under- 
standings, and that we cannot order our words, by reason of 
darkness : however, it is necessary, when we lay down this 
proposition, that we signify what we intend hereby, that so 
we may not be supposed to use words without ideas; and es- 
pecially that we may, in some measure, account for those 
modes of speaking, which are agreeable to scripture, which so 
often describes God as having a plurality of perfections, and 
those, in some respects, distinct ; and yet, at the same time, 
that we may not hereby be led to infer a plurality of gods. 
Here let it be considered, 

(1.) That we have not the least similitude, or resemblance, 
of this in any finite being. Every thing below God is compo- 
sed of parts, some of which we call integral, as all the parts of 
matter taken together constitute the whole ; others are called 
essential, as when we say an intelligent being has various pow- 
ers or properties which are essential to it ; so that it would 
not be complete without every one of them ; and that these 
are all of them distinct, so that we cannot say whatever is in 
the soul of miui is the soul, but every one of those powers, or 
properties, taken together, constitute the man ; but this is by 
no means to be applied to the divine Being ; therefore, 

(2.) When we conceive of God, as holy, powerful, just, 
good, £s?c. we must not suppose that these perfections are so 
many ingredients in the divine Being, or that, v/hen taken to- 
gether, they constitute it, as the whole is constituted of its 
parts ; for then every one of them would have no other than 

* (^ueat, CD. 



^04'- XHE UNITY Of GODr 

H partial perfection, and consequently the essential glor)' of one 
of those attributes would not be equal to the glory of the divine 
Being, which is supposed to consist of them all ; and there- 
fore there would be something in God less than God, or a 
divine perfection less than all the divine perfections taken to- 
gether, which we are not to suppose. These are the proper- 
ties of composition ; and therefore, when we speak of God as 
a simple or uncompoimded Being, we cannot forbear to men- 
tion them as what are inconsistent with his perfection as such. 

Neither are the divine perfections distinct or different from 
one another, as the various parts of which the whole is con- 
stituted are said to be distinct ; which follows from the for- 
mer, since the divine essence has no parts ; therefore we are 
not to suppose, that the divine attributes, considered as they 
are in God, are so distinguished, as one thing, or being, is 
from another; or as wisdom., power, justice, mercy, fc?c. are 
in men ; for that would be to suppose the divine Being as hav- 
ing several distinct, infinitelv perfect beings contained in it^ 
which is contrary to its simplicity or unity ; or, at least, if we 
call it one, it would be only so by participation and dependence, 
as a general or complex idea is said to be one, which partakes 
of, and depends on, all those paiticular or simple ideas that 
are contained in it; or, to illustrate it by numbers, as one 
hundred is one, as it contains such a number of units in it, as 
are, all taken together, equal to a hundred ; this is not what 
we mean, when we say God is one. 

Moreover, when we speak of the divine perfections, as be- 
ing in God, we suppose them all essential to him, as opposed 
to what is accidental. Now an accident is generally described, 
as what belongs, or is superadded, to a being or subject, which 
it might have existed without, or have been destitute of, and 
yet sustained no loss of that perfection, wliich is essential to 
it: thus, wisdom, holiness, justice, faithfulness, are accidents 
in men ; so that they who have them not, do not cease to be 
men, or to have the essential perfection of the human nature : 
but this is by no m'eans to be applied to the divine Being and 
attributes ; for to suppose God to be destitute of any of them, 
is as much as to say that he is not mfinitely perfect, or that he 
is not God. This, I think, is generally intended, when it is 
said, xvhatever is in God^ is God; which, because it may be rec- 
koned by some to be a metaphysical speculation, I should have 
avoided to mention, had it not been, in some respects, neces- 
sary, since the unity of God cannot well be conceived of, un- 
less his simplicity be defended ; and I do not see how that can 
be maintained, if this proposition be not duly considered. If 
I have used more words than are needful, or repeated the 
sam<; ideas too often, in attempting to explain it, I have done 



THE UNITY OF GOD. 205 

it to avoid some scholastic modes of speaking, or with a de- 
sign to render what has been said more intelligible ; but to this 
we maj^ add, 

(3.) That when we speak of the divine perfections as many, 
or distinct from one another, as we often do, and have scrip- 
ture warrant to justify us therein, namely, when we speak of 
the justice of God, as different from his mercy, or these, from 
his power, wisdom, faithfulness, ^c. this must not be deemed 
inconsistent with what has been said concerning the divine 
simplicity : and therefore let it be considered, that the nature 
and perfections of God are incomprehensible ; and therefore all 
the ideas which we have of them are taken from our com- 
paring them with some small resemblance that there is thereof 
in intelligent creatures, and, at the same time, separating from 
them whatever argues imperfection. 

And from hence it follows, that we are not supposed to 
know, or be able to describe, what God is in himself, and, as 
I humbly conceive, never shall : such knowledge as this is 
too great for any but a divine person ; therefore our concep- 
tions of him are taken from and conformed to those various 
ways, by which he condescends to make himself visible, or 
known to us, namely, by various acts conversant about certain 
objects, in which he is said to manifest his perfections : thus, 
when an effect is produced, we call that perfection that pro- 
duces it his power; or as the divine acts are otherwise dis- 
tinguished with respect to the objects, or the manner of his 
glorifying himself therein, these we call his wisdom, justice, 
goodness, £s?c. And this is what we mean, when we speak of 
various perfections in God ; though some suppose that they ex- 
press themselves more agreeably to the nature of the subject, 
or to the simplicity of God, in that, whenever they speak of 
any of the divine perfections, they speak of them in such a waj-, 
as that they are denominated from the effect thereof; as when 
they take occasion to mention the power of God, they call it 
God acting powerfully ; or of his justice or faithfulness, they 
express those perfections by, God acting justly or faithfully*. 
But however we express oui-selvcs, when we speak of the dis- 
tinct perfections of the divine nature, this is what we principal- 
ly intend thereby : and here our thoughts must stop, and makcv 
what is too great for a finite mind to conceive of the subject 
of our admiration, and adore what we cannot comprehend : 
such knowledge is too wonderful for us ; it is high, wc cannor 
I (tain to it. 

*" Ste dc Vvks K'.ryi'UaL RationaJ 



206 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINl'TT. 

Quest. IX. How many persons are there in the Godhead? 

Answ. There be three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, 
the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; and these three are one, true, 
eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glo- 
ry ', although distinguished by their personal properties. 

Quest. X. What are the personal properties of the three Per- 
sojis in the Godhead? 

Answ. It is proper to the Father to beget the Son, and to the 
Son to be begotten of the Father, and to the Holy Ghost to 
proceed from the Father and the Son from all eternity. 

Quest. XI. How doth it appear that the Son and the Holy 
Ghost are God equal with the Father P 

Answ. The scriptures manifest, that the Son and the Holy 
Ghost are God tquai with the Father ; ascribing unto them 
such names, attributes, works, and worship, as are proper to 
God only. 

IN these three answers is contained the doctrine of the ever 
blessed Trinity, which is a subject of pure revelation ; (a) 
and, because it is so much contested in the age in AV'^hich we live, 
we are obliged to be more large and particular, in laying down 

(a) " God is One : a most pure, most simple, and most perfect Being. 

The absolute unity and simplicity of this glorious Being is strictly exclusive of 
any division of perfections. Yet, as human knowledge is not intuitive but discui"- 
sive, we find it necessary to form and communicate our conceptions, by refeiTing 
them to distinct and infinite attributes. Such are independence, spirituality, eter- 
nity, immutability, powei', knowledge, rectitude, and benevolence. 

It is absurd to say, that eitlier the abstract essence, or any of the infinite per- 
fections of God, in themselves, or in their exercise, can be grasped, included, or 
compreJiended (or whatever equivalent term be used) by a Imiited intellect. " A 
part of His ways, a little portion of Him," we know; for He has unveiled it. The 
knowledge of the best and greatest finite mind can only be, to immortality, an ap- 
proximation ; and therefoi'e must for ever be infinitely small. God alone is capa- 
BLK of coMi'HEHE\ui>-G His own nature, mode of existence, and perfections. 

The only cjuestions, therefore, that we have to ask, are, Has Deity, in fact, com- 
municated to man any information concerning himself ? And -what has He com- 
municated ? Whatever such revelation maj' be, it is impossible that it should be 
self-contradictory, or :uiy other than most becoming to infinite wisdom and purity. 

This revelation authorizes us, by a variety of inductive proofs, to conclude, 
-♦that, witli regard to the mode of existence of the oxe Divine Essence, the Unity 
of the Godhead includes a Trinity of Persons (so denominated for want of any 
better terms) who are scripturaily stvled the Fatlier, the Son, and the Holy Spi- 
rit : Distinct, not in essence or in perfections, but only personally : One, not per- 
sonally, but in the common possession of the same identical nature and attributes. 

No contradiction or absurdity is involved in this doctrine, because the unity re- 
fers to one respect, and the trinity to another. But we make no difficulty in pro- 
fessing our incapacity to include in our knowledge, or express by any ))ossible 
terms, the respect in which the Trinity of persons subsists in the perfect Onencbb 
of the Deitj'. Such pretension would imply a contradiction." 

Smith's Lettebs tq Beisham. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 20lf 

the reasons of our belief of it, and in our defence thereof, against 
those that deny it. It is a doctrine that has been deftndeci by 
some of the most judicious writers, both in our own ana other 
nations ; whereof some have proved that it was maintaii ■ d by 
the church in the purest ages thereof, which therefore renders 
it less necessary for us to enter into that part of the controver- 
sy ; but we shall principally insist on it as founded on the sacred 
writings : and whereas others have rendered some parts of this 
doctrine more obscure, by confining themselves to the scholastic 
ways of speaking, we shall endeavour to avoid them, that so it 
may be better understood by private Christians ; and the method 
we shall pursue in treating of it shall be, 

I. To premise some things which are necessary to be consi- 
dered, with relation to it in general. 

II. We shall consider in what sense we are to understand the 
words Trinity^ and Persons in the Godhead^ and in what re- 
spect the divine Persons ai"e said to be One. 

III. We shall prove that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
have distinct personal properties, and therefore that we have 
sufficient reason to call them Persons, in the Godhead, as they 
are in the first of these answers ; and under this head shall 
consider w^hat is generally understood by what is contained in 
the second of them, which respects the eternal generation of 
the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost ; and what cau- 
tions we are to use, lest, by mistaking the sense thereof, we be 
led into any error, derogatory to, or subversive of the doctrine 
of the Trinity ; and also shall endeavour to explain those scrip- 
tures, which are generally brought to establish that doctrine. 

IV. We shall endeavour to prove that these three Persons, 
especially the Son and Holy Ghost, are truly divine, or that 
they have all the perfections of the divine nature ; and there- 
fore that they are, in the most proper sense, the one only living 
and true God. {a) 

(a) " Ti)at which is taug'ht in the scriptures concei-ning' the incomprehensible 
and spiritual essence of G(;cl ought to suffice, not only to overthrow the foolisli 
errors of the common people, but also to confute the fine subtilties of profane 
philosf)phy. One of the old writers seemed to have said very well, ' That (jod is 
all that we do see, and all tliat we do not see.' But by this means lie halh ima- 
f^ined the Godhead to be diffused into all the parts of the world. AUhougli God, 
to the intent to keep men in sobei" mind, speak but sparingly of his own essence, 
yet, by those two names of addition that I liave rehearsed, he dolh both take away 
all gross imaginations, and also repress the presumptuous boldness of maji's mind. 
For surely his immeasurable greatness ought to make us afraid, that we attempt 
not to measure him with our sense : and his spiritual nat(u-e forbiddeth us to ima- 
gine any tiling earthly or fleshly of him. For the same cause he often assigneth 
his dwelling place to be in heaven. For though, as he is incomprehensible, he fiU- 
eth the earth also : yet because he seeth our minds by reason of their duhiesb to lie 
still in the earth, for good cause he lifteth us up above the world, to sh:ike off our 
sloth and ski{rgishness. And heie fallcth to ground the error of the Manichces, 



208 THE DOCTRlxVE OF THE TRINITY. 

I. We shall premise some things which are necessary to be 
considered, with relation to the doctrine of the Trinity in gene- 
ral. And, 



vhich, in appointing two original beginnings, have made the devil m a manner 
equal with God. Surely, this was as much as to break the unity of God, and re- 
strain his unmeasurableness. For where they have presumed to abuse certain tes- 
timonies, that sheweth a foul ignorance, as their error itself sheweth a detestable 
madness. And the Anthropomorphites are also easily confuted, who ha\'e ima- 
gined God to consist of a botly, because oftentimes the scripture ascribeth unto 
him a mouth, ears, eyes, hands, and feet. For what man, yea, though he be slen- 
derly witted, doth not understand tliat God doth so with us speak as it were child- 
ishly, as nurses do with their babes P therefore such manner of speeches do not 
so planily express what God is, as they do apply the understanding of him to our 
slender capacities. Which to do, it behoved of necessity tliat he descended a great 
way beneath his own height. 

2.. But he also setteth out himself by another special mark, whereby he may 
be more nearly known. For he so declareth himself to be but one, that he yet 
giveth himself distinctly to be considei*ed in three persons : which, except we 
learn, a bare and empty name of God without any true God fieeth in our brain. 
And that no man should think that he is a tiireefold God, or that the one essence 
of God is divided in three persons, we mUst here seek a sh<»t and easy defini- 
tion, to deliver us from all error. But because many do make much about this 
word Person, as a thing invented by man, how justly tliey do so, it is best first 
to see. The apostle naming the Son the engraved form of the hy]303tasis of his 
Fathei", he undoubtedly me;metJi, that the Father hath some being, wherein he 
differeth from the Son. For to take it for essence (as some expositors have done, 
as if Ciu-ist like a piece of wax printed with a seal did represent the substance of 
the Father) were not only hard, but also an absurdity. For since the essence of 
God is single or one, and indivisible, he that in himself containeth it all, and 
not by piece-meal, or by derivation, but in whole perfection, should very im- 
pi'operly, yea, f< olishly, be called the engraved form of him. But because the 
Father, although he be in his own property distinct, hath expressed himself 
wholly in his Son, it is for g'ood cause said, that he hath given his hjpostasis to 
be seen in him. Wherewith aptly agreeth that which by and by followeth, that 
he is the brightness of his glory. Surely by the apostle's words we gather, that 
there is a certain proper hypostasis in the Father, that shineth in the Son : where- 
by also again is easily perceived the hypostasis of the Son, that distinguisheth 
him from the Father. The like order is in the holy Ghost. For we shull by and 
by prove liim to be God, and yet he must needs be odier than the Father. Yet 
this distinction is not of the essence, which it is unlawful to make manifold. 
Thei-efore, if the apostle's testimony be credited,it followeth that there be in God 
three hyp<xstasis. This term seeing the Latins have expressed by the name of 
Person, it were too much pride and frowardness to wrangle about so clear a 
matter. But if we list word for word to translate, we may call it subsistance. 
Many in the same sense have called it substance. And the name of Person liath 
not been in use ;tiiK>ng the Latins only, but also the Grecians, perhaps to declare 
a consent, have taught that theiv are tliree Prosopa, that is to say Persons, in 
God. But they, whether they be Greeks or Latins that differ one from another 
in the word, do very well agree in the sum of the matter. 

3. Now howsoever the hereticks cry out against the name of Person, or some 
overmuch precise men do carp that they like not the word feigned by the device of 
men; since they cannot get of us to say, that there be three, whereof every one 
is wholly God, nor yet that there be rnany gods : what unreasonableness is this, 
tct dislike words, which express none other tiling but that which is testified and 
approved by the scriptures ? It were better (sav they) to restrain not only our 
meanings but also our words within the bouncls of scripture, than to devise 
sirange terms, tliat may be the beginnings of disagTcement and bi-awling: so do 
w^tire ourselves with strife about words : so the truth is lost in contendir^g': «o 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 209 

1. It is a doctrine of the. highest importance, and necessary 
to be believed b v' all Christians, who pay a just defer-nce to 



charity iS broken b\ odiously brawling togcthei-. If they call that ;. s^tvar.ge word, 
whicii cimnot be shewed in scviptiue, us it is written in number oi' s\ llables ; 
then they liind us to a hard law, wheveliy is condenmed ail exposition 'hat is not 
pieced tog-ether, with bare laying tog-ttliej- of texts of scripture. Eut if they 
mean tliat to be strang-e, which, being curiously devised, is superstitiously de- 
fended, which maketli more lor contention than edification, which is either im- 
properly, or to no pi-ofit, used, witich withdraweth from the Simi;;.i ly of the 
word ofGod, then with all my heart I embrace tlieir sober minct. ir'.;r I judge 
that we ought with no less devout reverence to talk of God than to think of himj 
tor as much as whatsoever we do of ourselves think of him is foolish, ;ind what- 
soever we speak is unsavoury. But there is a certain mea.sure to be kept. "VVe 
ouglit to learn out of the scriptures a ride both to think and speak, whereby to 
examine all the thoughts of om- mind, and words of our mouth. But wliat hinder-- 
cth us, but tliat such as in scripture are to our capacity doubtful and entangled, 
we may in plainer Mords exjiress tliem, bemgyet such words as do reverently and 
faitlvfuily serve the trutli of tlie scripture, and be used sparingly, modestly, and 
not without occasion ' Of which sort there are examples enough. And v.l.ereas it 
shall by proof appear that the church of great necessity was forced to use the 
names of Trinity, and Persons, if any shall then find fault with the nevrness of 
words, shaW he not be justly thought to be grieved at the light of the truth, as 
he that blameth only this, that the truth is made so plain and clear to discern.-' 

4. Such newness of words, if it be so called, cometh then chiefly in use, when 
the truth is to be defended against wranglers that do mock it out with cavils. - 
Whicli thing we have at this day too much in experience, who have great busi- 
ness in vanquishing the enemies of true and sotmd doctrine. With such folduig 
and crooked winding, these slippeiy snakes do slide away, unless they be strong- 
ly gripped and hoiden hard^whcn they be talcen. So the old fathers, being troubled 
with contending against false doctrines, were compelled to shew their memiings 
in exc[uisite phunness, lest they should leave any crooked byeways to tiie wicked, 
to whom the doubtful constructions of words were hiding-holes of errors. Arius 
confessed Christ to be God, and the Son of God, because he could not gainsay the 
evident words of God, and, as if he had been so sufRciently discharged, did feign 
a certain consent witli the rest. But in the me;uiwhile he ceased not to scatter 
abroad that Christ was created, and had a beginning, as other creatures. But to 
the end that they might draw forth liis winding subtil ty out of his den, the an- 
cient fathers went further, pronouncing- Christ to be tlie eternal Son of the Father, 
and consubstantial with tlic Father, liereat wickedness began to boil, wlien the 
Arians begtm to hate and detest the name Omoovsion, consubstantial. But if in 
the beginning they had sincerely and with plain mean:ng confessed Clirist to be 
God, they would not now have denied him to be consubstantial with the Father. 
Who dare now blame these good men as brawlers and contentious, because, for 
one little word's sake, they were so keen in disputation, and disturbed the peace 
of the church.'' But that little word shev.cd the difference between the true be- 
lieving Christians, and the Arians, who were robbers of God. Afterwards rose up 
Sabellius, who accounted in a manner for nothing the names of the Father, the 
Son, and Holy Gliost, saying in disputation that they were not made to shew 
any manner of distinction, but only were several additions of God, of which sort 
there are many. If he came to disputation, he confessed that he believed the Fa- 
ther God, the Son God, the Holy Ghost God. But afterwards he would readilv 
slip away with saying, that he had in no otherwise spoken than as if he had na- 
nied God, a powerful God, just God, ;md wise God : and so he ,'jurig another song, 
that the Father is the Son, and the Holy Ghost is the Father, williout any oi'der, 
without any distinction. The good doctiirs who then liad care of godlinessj to sub- 
due his wickedness, cried out on the otlier side, that there ovight to be acknow- 
ledged in one God three properties: and to the end to fence themselves against 
the crooked wuiding subtllties -vvith plain and simpk truth, tht) affiimed, that 

Vol. I. D d 



210 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

revealed religion. It may probably be reckoned an ciTor in 
method to speak of the importance of this doctrine, before we 



there did truly subsist in one God, or (n-hich is the same thing) that there did 
subsisl In the unity of God, a Trinity of Persons. 

5. If then the names have not been v.ithout cause invented, we ought to take 
heed, 1 hat in rejecting them we be not justly blamed of proud presumptuousness. I 
would to God they were buried indeed, so that tiiis fa.ith were agreed of all men, that 
the Father, ;.nd the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be one God : and yet thattlie Father 
is not the Son, nor the tloly Ghost the Son, but distinctly, by certain property. Yet 
I am not so precise, that 1 can find in ni}' heart to strive for biu'e words. For I ob- 
serve, thai tlic ancient fathers, who otherwise spake very religiously of such mat- 
ters, did not every where agi-ee one with another, nor every one with himself. For 
what forms of speech used by the councils doth Hilliu-j excuse ? To how great 
liberty doth Augustine sometimes break forth ? How unlike ..re the Greeks to the 
Latins ? But of this disagreement one example shall suffice for this time. AVhen 
the Latins wanted to express the Mord Omooitston, they called it CoTtsubstanHaf, 
declaring- the substance of the Father and the Son to be one, thus using the word 
substance for essence. Whereupon Hierom toDamasus saith, itis sacrilege to say, 
that there are tliree substances in God : and yet above a hundred times you shsdl 
find in Hillary, that there are three substances m God. In the word hupostasit, 
how is Hiei-om difficultcd ? for he suspecteth that there lurketh poison in naming 
three hyposUisis in God. And if a man do use this ^^'ord in a godly sense, jet he 
plainly saith that it is an improper speech, if he spake unfeignedly, and did not 
rather Avittingl}' and willingly seek to charge the bishops of the Kast, whom he 
sought to charge with an unjust slander. Sure this one thing he sjjeaketh not 
veiy truly, that in all profane schools, Ousia, essence, is nothing else but Ini^os- 
tasis, which is pi-oved false by the common and accustomed use. Augustine is 
more modest and gentle, \vho, :.lthough he saj'S, Z>e trint. li. 5. cap. 8, 9. that the 
word hvpostasis in that sense is strange to Latin ears, yet s-o far is it off, that he 
taketh from the Greeks their usual manner of speaking, that he also gently bear- 
eth with the Latins Vv ho hiid followed the Greek phrase. And that which Socrates 
writeth in the fifth book of the Tripartite history tendetli to this end, as though 
he meant that he had by unskilful men been wrongfuUv applied unto tliis matter. 
Yea, and the same Hillary himself layeth it as a great taultto the heretics charge, 
De trill. U. 2- that by their irowardness he is conil)e!lcd to put those things in peril 
of the speech of men, which ought to have been kept in religiousness of mmds, 

Elainl)- confessing" that this is to do things unlawful, to speak what ought not to 
e spoken,, to attempt things not licensed. A little after, he excuseth himseM" 
with manv words, for that he was so bold to utter new names. For after he had 
used the natural names, Father, Sen, and Hoi}- (ihost,he addet>i,that whatsoever 
is sought further is beyond the compass of speech, beyond the reach of sense, 
and beyond the capacity' of understanding. And in another place he saith, that 
happy are tlie bis'iops of Gallia, wholiad not received, nor knew any other con- 
fession but that old and simple one, which from the time of the apostles was re^ 
ceived in all churches. And niucli like is the excuse of Augustine, that this word 
was wrung out o+" necessity, by reason of the imperfection of men's hiLguage in 
so great a matter : not to express that which is, but tliat it should rt<jt be un- 
spoken, how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are three. This modesty of 
the holy nien ought to WM-n us, that v,e do not forthwith so severely, like cen- 
sors, brioid tliem with infamy, who refuse to subscTibe.and swear to such words 
as wc propound them : so that they do not of pnde, or frov<'ardness, or of mali- 
cious craf ; . ]5ut let them again consider, by how great necessity we are driven to 
speak so, 'hat by little and little they may be enured M'ith that profitable mannei- 
of speech. Let them also learn to beware, lest since we nuist meet on tlie one 
side with the Arians, on the other side witli the Subellians, while they be ofli^nded 
that we CUV p-ft occasion nom them both to cavil, they bring themselves in suspi- 
cion, that tliey be the disciples either of Arius or of Sabeliius. Arius saith tliat 
Christ is Godj but he muttereth that he was created, and had a beginning. He saith 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. ' 211 

attempt to prove the truth thereol : however, it is not altogether 
unjustifiable, since we address ourselves to those who believe 
it, hoping thereby to offer some farther conviction, or establish- 
ment, to their faith therein, as well as to others who deny it j 
we may therefore be allowed to consider it as an important 
doctrine, that we may be excited to a more diligent enquiry 
into the force of some of those arguments, which are generally 
brought in its defence. 

Now to determine a doctrine to be of the highest import- 
ance, we must consider the belief thereof as connected with 
salvation, or subservient to that true religion, which is ordain- 
ed by God, as a necessary means leading to it, without which 
we have no warrant to expect it : and such doctrines are some- 
times called fundamental, iis being the basis and foundation on 
which our hope is built. Here, I think, it will be allov/ed, by 
all whose sentiments do not savour of scepticism, that there are 
some doctrines of religion necessary to be believed to salva- 
tion. There are some, it is true, who plead for the innocency of 
error, or, at least, of those who are sincere enquirers after 
truth, who, in the end, will appear to have been very remote 
from it, as though their endeavours would entitle them to sal- 
vation, without the knowledge of those things, Avhich others 
conclude to be necessarily subservient to it. All that we shall 
say concerning this is, that it is not the sincerity of our enqui- 
ries after important truths, but the success tliereof, that is to be 
regarded in this, as well as other means, that are to be used to 
obtain so valuable an end. We may as well suppose that our 
sincere endeav^ours to obtain many of those graces that accom- 
pany salvation, such as faith, love to God, and evangelicid obe- 
dience, will suppl)', or atone for, the want of them ; as assert 
that our unsuccessful enquiries after the great doctrines of re- 
ligion will excuse our ignorance thereof; especially when we 



Christ is one with the Fatlier, but secretly lie whispei-eth in the ears oi' his disci- 
ples, that he was made one us the other fjiithfiil Ije, alth.ougli by singular ]irerf)- 
gative. Say once that Christ is consiibstantial with his Father, tlien phick yon off 
his visor from the dissembler, and yet you add nothing- to the scripttu'e. Sahellius 
saith, tiiat the several names, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, signify noiliing in 
God severally distinct. Say that they are three, and he will cry out tliat yon name 
three gods. Say that there is in one essence a Trinity of persons, then shall \ou 
in one word both say what the scripture .speaketii, and stop their v.'iin Ijiibbling. 
Now if any be holden with so curious superstition, that they cannot aliide these 
names, 3 et is tl)ere no man, thougli he would never so fain, that can deny but tliat 
when we hear of one, we must \niderstand an unity of substance : wiien we hear 
of three in one essence, that it is me:uit of the persons of tlie Trinity. Which 
thing being without fraud confessed, we stay no longer upon words. Hut I have 
long ago found, and that often, that whosoever do obstinately quarrel about 
words, do kcej) within them a secret poison : so that it is better willinjjly to pro 
roke them, than for their plcasiu-e to speak darkly." 

C > J V i Jf 



212 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

consider, that blindness oi' mind, as well as hardness of heart, 
is included among those spiritual judgments, which are the con- 
sequence oi" our iallen state ; and also that God displays the so- 
vereignty OI his grace as much, in leading the soul into ail ne- 
cessar}- truth, as he does in any other things that relate to sal- 
vation. Hov/ever, it is not our business to determine the final 
state of men ; or how far they make advances to, or recede 
from, the knowledge of such important doctrines ; or what will 
be the issue thereof; but rather to desire of God, that so far 
as we, or others, are destitute of this privilege, he would grant 
us and them repentance^ to the acknowledgment of the truths 
1 Tim. ii. 25. And here we cannot but observe, that the ques- 
tion relating to important or fundamental articles of faith is 
not whether any doctrines may be hO called.^ but what thf)se 
doctrines are : in determining ot v/hlch, many make provision 
for their own particular scheme of doctrine : and accordingly 
some, as the Papists in particular, assert several doctrines to 
be fundamental, without scriptm-e v/arrant; yea, such as are 
directly contrary thereunto ; and others allow no doctrine to be 
so, but what will, ii adhered to, open a door of salvation to all 
mankind, and these set aside the necessity of divine reveiaiion; 
and others, who desire not to run such lengths, will allow, that 
some scripture-doctrines are necessary to be believed to salva- 
tion : but these are only such as may include those who are in 
their way of thinking ; thus they Vvho deny the doctrine of the 
Trinity, are obliged in conformity to their ov. n sentiments, to 
deny also that it is an important article of faith. These^may 
justly demand a conviiicing proof of the truth thereof, before 
they believe it to be of any importance, especially to them- 
selves ; and therefore it would be a vain thing to tell them, that 
the belief t-hereof is connected with salvation ; or that it is ne- 
cessary, inasmuch as divine worship is so, which supposes the 
belief of the divinity of the Persons, whom we adore ; with- 
out first proving that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are di- 
vine Persons : and it would be as little to their edification to 
say that there are several doctrines necessary to be believed ; 
such as that of Christ's satisfaction, and our justification, de- 
pending thereon, and that of regeneration and sanctificat^on, 
as the effects of the divine power of the Holy Ghost ; all which 
suppose the belief of their being divine Persons ; unless we first 
give some convincing proof of the truth of these doctrines, 
which are supposed to stand or fall with it ; for it would be im- 
mediately replied, that one is false, and consequently far from 
being of any importance ; therefore so is the other. 

But inasmuch as we reserve the consideration of these things 
to their proper place ; we shall only observe at present, that 
there are some who do not appear to deny the doctrine of the 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 213 

Trinity, but rather the importance of it; and express them- 
selves with very great indifference about it, and blame all at- 
tempts to defend it, as needless, or litigious, as though it were 
only a contest about words : thus they say, though we hold it 
ourselves, others who deny it, may have as much to say in de- 
fence of their own cause as we have, and therefore that these 
disputes ought to be wholly laid aside. Now, with respect to 
these, what we have hinted, concerning the importance of this 
doctrine, may not be altogether misapplied ; therefore we have 
taken occasion to, mention it in this place, that we may not be 
supposed to plead a cause which is not worth defending, as 
though the doctrine of the Trinity were no other than an empty 
speculation ;* but as that which we are bound to esteem a doc- 
trine of the highest importance. ^ 

2. We are next to consider what degree of knowledge of this 
doctrine is necessaiy to, or connected with salvation. It can-? 
not be supposed that this includes in it the knowledge of every 
thing that is commonly laid down in those writings, wherein it 
is attempted to be explained; for when we speak of this, as a 
doctrine of the highest importance, we mean the scripture-doc- 
trine of the Trinity. This is what we are to assent to, and to 
use our utmost endeavours to defend ; but as for those expli- 
cations, which are merely human, they are not to be reckoned 
of equal importance ; especially every private Christian is not 
to be censured as a stranger to this doctrine, who cannot de- 
fine personality in a scholastic way, or understand all the terms 
used in explaining it, or several modes of speaking, which 
some writers tenaciously adhere to ; such as hypostasis, sub- 
sistence, consubstantiaiity, the modal distinction of the Persons 
in the Godhead, filiation, or the communication of the divine 
essence by generation, or its being farther communicated by 
procession ; some of which rather embaiTass the minds of men, 
than add any farther light to the sense of those scriptures, in 
which this doctrine is contained. 

But when we consider how far the doctrine of the Trinity is 
to be known, and believed to salvation, we must not exclude 
the weaken Christian from a possibility of knowing it, by sup- 
posing it necessary for him to understand some hard words, 
which he doth not find in his Bible ; and if he meets with 
them elsewhere, will not be much edified by them. That know- 
ledge, therefore, which is necessary to salvation, is more plain 
and easy, and to be found in everv part of scripture : accord- 
ingly, every Christian knows, that the word God signifies a be> 
ing that has all those divine perfections, which are so frequent- 
ly attributed to him therein, and are displayed and glorified in 
all his works of common providence and grace ; and that this 
God is one. To which we may also add, that he learns from 



Si4 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

his Bible, and thertfore firmlj'^ believes that the Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost, are possessed of these divine perfections, and 
consequently that they are this one God ; and that they are 
distinguished, as we often find in scripture, by such characters 
and properties, which we generally call personal, and so apply 
the word Person to each of them, and conclude that the divine 
glory attributed to them is tht same, though their personal pro- 
perties, or characters, are distmct ; Avhich is the substance of 
what is contained in the first oi those answers, under our pre- 
sent consideration. And he that believes this, need not enter- 
tain any doubt as though he wanted some ideas of this sacred 
doctrine, which are necessary to salvation ; since such a degree 
of knowledge, attended with a firm belief thereof, is sufficient 
to Avarrant all those acts of divine worship, which we are obli- 
ged to ascribe to the Father, Son, and Spirit, and is consistent 
with all those other doctrines, which are founded on, or sup- 
pose the belief thereof, as was before observed under our last 
head. 

3. We shall consider this doctrine as a great myster;-, such 
as cannot be comprehended by a finite mind ; and thert.ior- we 
shall first enquire v/hat we are to understand by the woro Mys- 
tery^ as it is used in scripture. This word sometimes denotes 
a doctrme's having been kept secret, or, at least, revealed more 
obscurely, upon which account it was not so clearly known be- 
fore ; in which sense, the gospel is palled, The mystery -which 
hath been hid from ages^ and from- generations^ hut now is made 
manifest to his saints^ Col. i. 26. It was covered with the cere- 
monial law, as with a vail, v/hich many of the people, through 
the blindness of their minds, did not so fully understand; and 
f&ccordingly, v/hen persons are led into a farther degree of know- 
ledge thereof, it is said, as our Saviour tells his disciples, that 
to them it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of 
heaven^ Matt. xiii. 11. or when something is revealed in scrip- 
ture, which the world was not in the least apprised of before ; 
this is, by way of eminence, called a mystery, as the apostle 
says, speaking concerning the change that shall be ])assed on 
those that shall be found alive at the last day ; Behold^ I shew 
you a mystery ; roe shall ?iot all sleep, but we shall all be changed 
in a moment^ in the twinkling of an eye, 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. 

But to this we may add, that there is also another idea affix- 
ed to the word Mystery, namely, that though it be revealed, 
yet it cannot be fully comprehended ; and it is in this sense that 
we call the doctrine of the Trinity a Mystery. Both these ideas 
;-eem to be contained in the word, in some scriptures, particu- 
larly where the apostle sa^s. Unto me, who am less than the 
least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among 
the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make aU 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 215 

men see what is thefclloivship of the mijstery^ xvhich^ from the 
hegimiing of the xvorld^ hath been hid in God^ Eph. i'u. 8, 9. 
where he speaks ol the gospel, not only as hid, but unstarcha- 
ble ; and he speaks ot the mystery of God^ even the Father^ and 
of Christy in xvhom are hid all the treasures ofrvisdom and know- 
ledge^ Col. ii. 3. where the word mystery seems to contain both 
these ideas ; for few will deny, that the glory of tiie Father, 
who is here spoken of, as well as Christ, is incomprehensible 
by a finite mind ; and if it be said, that the gospel is hereby in- 
tended, and so that the words ought to be rendered, in -which 
are hid ail the treasures of wisdom and knowledge ', this must 
be supposed to be incomprehensible, as well as formerly less 
known, otherwise this character of it would be too great. 

But suppose the word Mystery were always used to signify 
a doctrine, not before revealed, without the other idea of its be- 
ing incomprehensible contained in it ; this would not overthrow 
our argument in general, since we can prove it to be incom- 
prehensible from other arguments, which we shall endeavour 
to do. 

And that we may prepare our way for this, let it be consi- 
dered, that there are some finite things, which we cannot now 
comprehend, by reason of the imperfection of our present state, 
which are not incomprehensible in themselves. How little do 
we know of some things, which may be called mysteries in na- 
ture ; such as the reason of the growth and variety of colours 
and shapes of plants ; the various instinct of brute creatures ; 
yea, how little do we know comparatively of ourselves, the na- 
ture of our souls, any otherwise, than as it is observed by theii- 
actions, and the effects they produce ; the reason of their union 
with our bodies, or of their acting by them, as the inspired wri- 
ter obser\'es ; so that it may well be said. Thou knoxvest not the 
■way of the spirit^ nor hoxv the bones do groxv in thexvomb of her 
that is xuith child ; even so thou knoxvest not the xvorks of God^ 
xvho maketh all things^ Eccles. xi. 5. and Elihu, together with 
some of the other wonderful works of nature, which he chal- 
lengeth Job to give an account of, speaks of this in particular, 
JDost thou knoxv hoxv thy garments are xuarm, xvhen he (jitieteth 
the earthy by the south xvind? Job xxxvii. 17, £s?<?. which not 
only signifies that M^e cannot account for the winds producing 
heat or cold, as blowing from various quarters of heaven ; but 
that we know not the reason of the vital heat, which is preserv- 
ed tor so many years, in the bodies of men, the inseparable con- 
comitant and sign of life ; or v/hat gives the first motion to the 
blood and spirits, or fits the organized bodj'^ to perform its va- 
rious functions. These things cannot be comprehended by us. 

But if we speak of that which is infinite, we must conclude it 
to be iiicomprehenjible, not only because of the imperfection ol" 



216 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

our present state, but because, as has been before observed, of 
the infinite dispropoiliQii that there is between the object and 
our finite capacities. In this respect we have before shewn 
that the perfections of the divine nature cannot be compre- 
hended, such as the immensity, eternity, omnipresence, and 
simplicity of God ; yet we are to beheve that he is thus infinite- 
ly perfect. And it seems equally reasonable to suppose the 
doctrine of the Trinity to be incomprehensible ; for the mutual 
relation of the Father, Son, and Spirit, to each other, and their 
distinct personality, are not the result of the divine will ; these 
are personal perfections, and therefore they are necessary, and 
their glory infinite, as well as that of his essential perfections ; 
and if we are bound to believe one to be incomprehensible, \vfiy 
should we not as well suppose the other to be so .'' or if there 
are some things which the light of nature gives us some ideas 
of, concerning which we are notwithstanding bound to confess 
that we know but little of them, for the reason but now men- 
tioned, why should it be thought strange, that this doctrine, 
though the subject of pure revelation, should be equally in- 
comprehensible f This consequence appears so evident, that 
some of them, who deny the doctrine of the Trinity to be in- 
comprehensible, do not stick to deny the perfections of the di- 
vine nature to be so, when they maintain that there is nothing 
which is the object of faith but what may be comprehended by 
us, which is to run such lengths in the defence of their cause, 
as no one who hath the least degree of that humility, which be- 
comes a finite creature, should venture to do. But they pro- 
ceed yet faither, as the cause they defend seems to require it, 
and say, that every doctrine which we cannot comprehend is to 
be rejected by us, as though our understandings were to set 
bounds to the truth and credibility of all things. 

This, I think, is the true state of the question about myste- 
ries in Christianitv : it is not whether the word Mystery is never 
used in scripture to signify what is incomprehensible ; for if 
that could be sufficiently proved, which I think hath not yet 
been done, we .would assert the doctrine of the Trinity to be 
more than a mystery, namely, an incomprehensible doctrine ; 
and the proof thereof seems absolutely necessary, since the An- 
titrinitarians, and some of them with an air of insult, conclude 
tliis to be our last resort, which we betake ourselves to when 
they have beaten us out of all our other strong holds ; and 
therefore we may suppose, that this would be opposed with the 
greatest \\'armth, but I do not find that it has hitherto been 
overthrown ; and mdeed when they call it one of our most 
plausible pretences, as though we laid the whole stress of the 
controversy upon it, it might be expected that it should be at- 
tacked with stronger arguments than it generally is. Some- 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 217 

limes they bend their force principally against the sense of the 
word Mystery ; and here they talk not only with an air of in*- 
suit, but profaneness, when they compare it with the abomina- 
ble mysteries of the heathen, which were not to be divulged to 
any but those of them who were in the secret; and the doctrine 
of the Trinity, and that of tra/isubstantiation, are compared to- 
gether, so that they are to be reckoned equally mysterious, that 
is, according to their application of the word, absurd and non- 
sensical. And this way of arguing has so far prevailed among 
them, that no one must apply the word to any doctrines of reli- 
gion without exposing himself to scorn and ridicule ; but this 
will do no service to their cause, nor prejudice to our doctrine, 
in the opinion of those who enquire into the truth thereof, with 
that seriousness and impartiality, that the importance of the 
doctrine calls for.(tf) 

(a) " There are some docti'ines in tlie gospel the understanding could not disco- 
^■er ; but when they are revealed, it hatli a clear apprehension of them upon a ra- 
tional account, and sees the characters of truth visibly stampt on theu* forehead : 
as the doctrine of satisfaction to divine justice, that j)ardon might be dispensed 
to repenting sinners. For our natural conception of God includes liis infinite pu- 
rity and justice ; and when the design of the gospel is made known, whereby he 
hath provided abundantly for the honour of those attributes, so that He doth the 
greatest good without encouraging the least evil, reason acquiesces, and acknow- 
ledges. This I sought, but could not find. Now, although theprimaiy obllgatKju 
to believe such doctrines ariseth from revelation, yet being ratified by reason, 
they are embi-aced with more clearness by the mind. 

2. There are some doctrines, which as reason by its light could not discover; 
so when they are made known, it cannot comprehend ; but they are l>y a clear and 
iiecessai-y connexion joined with the otlier that reason approves : as the mystery 
of the Trinity, and the Incarnation of the Son of God, which are the foinulations 
«fthe whole work of our redemption. The nature of God is repugnant to plura- 
lity, there can be but one essence; and the nature of satisfaction requires a dis- 
tinction of persons : For he that suffers as guilty, must be distinguished from 
the person of the judge that exacts satisfaction ; and no mere creature is able by 
his obedient sufferings to repair the honoui* of God : So tliat a divine person, as- 
suming the natiu-e of man, was alone capable to make diat satisfaction, whicli the 
gospel propounds, and reason consents to. Now, according to the distinction of 
capacities in the Trinity, the Father required an honourable reparation for the 
breach of the divine law, and the Son bore the punishment in the sufferings of 
the humaii nature; that is peculiarly his own. Besides, 'tis clear that the doc- 
trine oftlie Trinity, that is, of three glorious relations in the Godhead, and of the 
incarnation, are most firmly connected with all the parts of the christian reli- 
gion, left in the writings oftlie apostles, which as they were confirmed by mira- 
cles, the divine signatures of their certainty, so tliey contain such authentic 
mai'ks of their divinity, that right reason cannot reject them. 

3. Whereas thei-e are three principles by which we apprehend things. Sense, 
Reason and Faith ; these lights have their different objects that must not be 
confpunded. Sense is confined to things material ; Reason considers thing-s ab- 
stracted from matter ; Faith regards the mysteries revealed from heaven : and 
these must not transgress their order. Sense is an incompetent judge of thuigs 
about which i-eason in only conversant. It can only make a report of those ob- 
jects, which by their natural characters are exposed to it. And reason can only 
discourse of things, within its sphere : supernatiu-al tilings which derive from re- 
velation, and arc purely the objects of faith, ai-e not within its territories and ju- 
risdiction. Those superhuive mysteries exceed all our intellectual abilities. 

Vol. I. E e 



218 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

The question therefore in controversy is ; whether any doc- 
trines of religion may be deemed incomprehensible, that is, such 

'Tis true, the understanding' is a rational faculty, and every act of it Is really 
or in appearance grounded on reason. But there is a wide difference between tli*^ 
proving a doctrine by reason, and the giving a reason why we believe the ti'uth 
of it. For instance, we ciinnot prove the Trinity by natural reason ; and the sub- 
tilty of|the schoolmen, wlio affect to give some reason of all things, is here more 
prejudicial than advantageous to the truth : For he that pretends to maintain a 
point by reason, and is unsuccessful, doth weaken the credit which the authority 
of revelation gives. And 'tis considerable, that the scripture, in delivering super- 
natural truths, produces God's authority as their only proof, without using any 
other way of arguing : But although we cannot demonstrate these mysteries by 
reason, yet we may give a rational account why we believe them. 

Is it not the highest reason to believe the discovery that God hath made of 
himself, and his decrees ? For he perfectly knows his own natiu-e and will ; and 
"'tis impossible he should deceive us : this natural principle is the foundation of 
faith. Wlien God spealis, it becomes man to hear with silence and submission- 
His naked word is as certain as a demonstration. 

And is it not most reasonable to believe that the Deity cannot he. iiiUy under- 
stood by us ? The sun may more easily be included in a spark of fire, than the 
infinite perfections of God be comprehended by a finite mind. The angels, who 
dwell so near the fountain of light, cover tlieir faces in a holy confusion, not being 
able to comprehend Him. How much less can man in this earthly state, distant 
from God, and opprest with a burthen of flesh .'' Now from hence it follows ; 

t. That ignorance of the manner how divine mysteries exist is no suflicient 
plea for infidelity, when the scripture reveals that they are. For reason that is 
limited and restrained caimot frame a conception that is commensurate to the es- 
sence and power of God. This will appear more clearly by considering the mys- 
terious excellencies of the divine nature, the certainty of which we believe, but 
the manner we cannot vuiderstand : As that his essence and attributes are the 
same, without the least shadow of composition ; yet his wisdom and power are to 
our apprehensions distinct, and his merc)^ and justice in some manner opposite.* 
That his essence is intire in all places, yet not terminated in any. That he is 
nbove the heavens, and beneath the eurtli, yet hath no relation of higii or low, 
distant or near. That he peneti-ates ail substances, but is mixed with none. That 
he understands, yet receives no ideas within himself : That he wills, yet hath no 
motion that carries him out of himself. That in him time hath no succession ; 
that which is past is not gone, and that v/hich is future is not to come. That he 
loves without passion, is angry without disturbance, repents without change. 
These perfections are above the capacity of reason fully to understand; yet essen- 
tial to the deity. Here we must exalt faith, and abase reason. Thus in the mys- 
tery of the incarnation, (1 Tim. iii. 16.) that two such distant natures should 
compose one person, without the confusion of properties, reason cannot reach un- 
to ; but it is cleai'ly revealed in the word : {Jolm i. 14.) Here therefore we must 
obey, not enquire. 

The obedience of faith is, to embrace an obscure truth with a firm assent, upow 
the account of a divijie testimony. If reason will not assent to i-evelation, till il 
imderstands the manner how divine things are, it doth not obey it at all. The 
ijnderstandingthen sincerely submits, when it is inclined by those motives, which 
demonstrate that sucli a belief is due to the authority of the revealer, and to the 
qu:Jity of the object. To believe only in proportion to our narrow conception? 
is to disparage the divuie truth, and debase the divine power. We can't know 
what God can do ; he is omnipotent, though we ai"e not omniscient : 'Tis just we 
should humble our ignorance to his wisdom, and tfiat even/ loftii imaginatiov, and 
high thing, that exalts itself again. ft the knowledge of God, should be cast down, and 
every thought captivated into tlie obedience of Cltri.it ; 2Cor.,x. 5. 'Tis our wisdom 

• Tnfinicus, immensiis 8c soli sibi tantus, quantus est notus, nobis vero ad intellectom pectus 
angustum cstj 8;'idf d sic cum dijji i> cstimaniuS; ttim iu.itstim.ibilem lUcimus. Min. Fel. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRIMTV. '219 

as we can have no adequate ideas of, because of the dispropor- 
tion between them and our finite minds ? and whether the in- 



to receive the {jreat mysteries of the gospel in their simplicity : for in attemptr 
ingto give aii exact and curious explication of them, the understanding-, as in an 
hedge of thorns, the more it sti-ives, the mure 'tis wounded and entangled. GoiPs 
ivai/s ave far aboi^e ours, and his thoiicfhts above ours as heaven is above the earth. 
To reject what wc can't comprehend, is not only to sin against faith, hut against 
reason, which acknowledges itself fuiite, and unable to search out the Mmight^ to 
perfection; Jobxi. 7. 

2. We are obliged to believe those mysteries that are plainly delivered in 
scripture, notwitiistanding those seemiyg contradictions wherewith they may be 
charged. In the objects of sense, the contrariety of appearances doth not lessen 
tlie certainty of things. The stars to our sight seem but glittering sparks, yet 
they are immense bodies. And it is one thing to be assured of a truth, another 
to answer to all the diflicnlties that encounter it : a mean understanding is capa- 
l)le of the fii'st ; the second is so difficult, that in clear things the profoundest 
philosophers may not be able to untie all t!ie intricate" and knotty objections 
which may be urged against them. 'Tis sufficient the belief of supernatural mys- 
teries is built on the veracity and power of God ; this makes tJiem prudently cre- 
dible : this resolves all doubts, and produces such a stability of spirit, as nothing 
can shake. A sincere believer is assured, that all opposition against revealed 
truths is fallacious, thougli he camiot discover tiie fallacy. Now the transcend- 
ent mysteries of the Christian religion, the Trinity of persons in the divine na- 
ture, the incaniation of the Son ofGod, are clearly set down in the scripture. And 
■-Uthoug-h subtile and obstinate opponents have Jised many guilty arts to dispirit 
and enervate those texts bj' an inferior sense, and have rackt them with violence 
10 make them speak accoi'ding to their prejudices, }et all is vain, the evidence of 
truth is victorious. A heathen, who considers not the gospel as a divine revela- 
tion, but merely as a doctrine delivered in writings, and judges of its sense by 
natural light, will acknowledge that those things are delivered in It. And not- 
withstanding those who usui-j) a sovereign authority to themsehcs, to judge of 
divine mysteries according to their own apprehensions, deny them as mere con- 
tradictions, yet they can never conclude them impossible : for no certain argu- 
ment can be alledged ag-ainst the being of a thing without a clear knowledge of 
its nature : Now, although we may understand the nature of man, we do not the 
nature of God, the occonomy of the persons, and his power \e unite himself to a 
nature below iiim. 

It is true, no article of faith is really repugnant to reason ; for Cod is the au- 
thor of natural, as well as of supernatural, light, and he cannot contradict hini- 
sell': They are emanations from liim, and though difierent, yet iiot destructive of 
each other. Hut we must distinguish between those thhigs that are above rea- 
son and incomprehensible, and things that are against rea.son and utterly incon- 
ceivable : Some things arc above reason in regard of their transcendent excel- 
lency, or distance from us ; the divine essence, the eternal decrees, the h\-postati. 
cal union, are such high and g-lorious objects, that it is an impossible enterprise 
to comprehend them : the intellectual eye is dazzled with their overpowering 
light. We can have but an imperfect knowledge of them ; and there is no j<ist 
cause of wonder that supernatural revelation should speak incomprL-hensible 
things of God. For lie is a singular and admiraiiie lieing, intinitely above thtt 
ordinary course ofnaiure. The maxims of philosophy are not lo be extended to 
him. We must adore what we cannot fully understand. I5ut those things ar.-i 
against reason, and utterly inconceivable, that involve a contradiction, and have 
a natural rejiugnancy to our understandings, which cannot conceive any thins'; 
rlrat is formally impossible: and there is no such doctrine in the christian reli- 
gion. 

>. We must distinguish between reason corrupted, and right reason. Since 

lie f;dl, the clearness of the human understanding is lost, and the light that rc- 

jn«iiis is eclipsed by the iI■lte^•po^ilion ofscu.^ual lust The (•arnal mind cannot. 



220 THE DOCTRINK OF TH£ TRINITY. 

communicable perfections of God are not to be reckoned among 
these incomprehensible doctrines ? if they are not, then it will 
be reasonable to demand that every thing relating to them be 
particularly accounted for, and reduced to the standard of a 
finite capacity ; and if this cannot be done, but some things 
must be allowed to be incomprehensible in religion, then it 
will be farther enquired, Why should the doctrine of the Tri- 
nity be rejected, because we cannot account for every thing that 
relates to the personal glory of God, anv more than we can for 
those things that respect his essential glory ? or may not some 
things, that are matter of pure revelation, be supposed to ex- 
ceed our capacities, and yet we be bound to believe them, as well 
as other things which appear to be true, and at the same time, 
incomprehensible, by the light of nature? But, that we may 
enter a little more particularly into this argument, v/e shall con- 
sider the most material objections that are brought against it, 
and what may be replied to them. 

Object* 1. It is olTJected that we take up with the bare sound 
of words, without any manner of ideas affixed to them. And, 

2. That it is unbecoming the divine wisdom and goodness to 
suppose that God should give a revelation, and demand our 
belief thereof, as necessary to salvation, when, at the same time, 
it is impossible for our understandings to yield an assent to it, 

' since nothing that is unintelligible can be the object of faith. 

3. That practical religion is designed to be promoted in the 
world herebv, and therefore the will of man must follow the dic- 
tates of the understanding, and not blindly embrace, and be con- 
versant about we know not what, which is to act unbecoming 
our own character as intelligent creatures. 

4. That the design of divine revelation is to improve our 
understandings, and render our ideas of things more clear, and 
not to entangle and perplex them. 

Ansiv. 1. As to our using words without ideas, there is no 

■t - ■ - ' - ' ' 

out .of ignorance, and will not from pride and other malignant habits, receive 
things spiritual. And from hence arises mrjiy suspicions and doubts, (concern- 
ing supernatural ^■enties) the shadows of darkened reason, and of dying faith. Ii 
any divine mystery seems incredible, it is from the corru]5tion of our reason, not 
from reason itself; from its darluiess, not its light. And as reason is obliged to 
correct the errors of sense, when it is deceived either by some vicious quality in 
the organ, or by the distance of the object, or by the falseness of the medium, 
that coiTupts the image in conveying of it. So it is the office of faitli to reform 
the judgment of reason, when either from its own weakness, or the height of 
things spiritual, it is mistaken about them. For this end supernatural revela- 
tion was given, not to extinguish reason, but to redress it, and enrich it with the 
discovery of heavenly things. Faith is called wisdom and knowledge: it doth 
not quench the vigour of the faculty wherein it is seated, but elevates it, and 
gives it a spiritual perception ot' those things that are most distant from its com- 
merce. It doth not lead us through a mist to the inheritance of the saints in 
light." iJATis. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 221 

Christian, that I know of, who thinks there is any religion in 
the sound of words, or that it is sufficient for us to take up with 
the word Trinit)', or Persons in the Godhead, without deter- 
mining, in some measure, what we understand thereby. We 
will therefore allow that faith supposes some ideas of the ob- 
ject, namely, that we have some knowledge of what we believe 
it to be : now our knowledge of things admits of various de- 
grees ; some of which we only know that they are what thej^ are 
determined, or proved to" be; if we proceed farther in our en- 
quiries, and would know how every thing is to be accounted 
for, that may justly be affirmed concerning them, here our ideas 
are at a stand; yet this is not in the least inconsistent with the 
belief of what we conclude them to be. For the illustrating of 
which, let it be considered that we believe that God's eternity is 
without succession, his immensity without extension; this we 
know and believe, because to assert the contrary would be to 
ascribe imperfection to him. In this respect, our faith extends 
as far as our ideas : but as for what exceeds them, we are 
bound to believe that there is something in God, which exceeds 
the reach of a finite mind, though we cannot comprehend, or 
fully describe it, as thougli it was not infinite. And to apply 
this to the doctrine of the Ti-inity ; it is one thing, to say that 
the Father, Son, and Spirit, have the perfections of the divine 
nature attributed to them in scripture, as well as distinct per- 
sonal characters and properties, and because the Godhead is 
but one, that therefore tliese three are one, which we firmly be- 
lieve, inasmuch as it is so clearly revealed in scripture ; and 
another thing, to say, tliat \vc can fully describe all the proper- 
ties of their divine personality, which, though we cannot do, 
yet we believe that they subsist in an incomprehensible man- 
ner. And while we compare them with finite persons, as we 
do the perfections of God with those of the creature, we sepa- 
rate from the one, as well as the other, whatever savours of 
imperfection. 

2. As to the unintelligibleness of divine revelation, and its 
being unbecoming the wisdom and goodness of God to com- 
municate those doctrines that are so, it may be replied, that 
we must distinguish between the rendering a doctrine, which 
would be otherwise easy to be understood, unintelligible, by 
the perplexity or difficulty of the style in which it is delivered, 
and the imparting a doctrine which none can comprehend ; the 
former of these cannot be charged on any part of scripture, and 
it is only a revelation, which is liable to such a charge, that 
could be reckoned inconsistent with the wisdom and goodness 
of God. As to the latter, the design of revelation is not to 
make us comprehend what is in itself incomprehensible : as, for 
instance, God did not design, when he made known his perfec- 



222 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

tions in his word, to give us such a perfect discovery of him- 
self, that we might be said hereby to find him out unto perfec- 
tion, or that we should know as much of his glory as is possi-' 
bie to be known, or as much as he knows of it himself; for that 
is to suppose the understanding of man infinitely more perfect 
than it is. Whatever is received, is received in proportion to 
the measure of that which contains it ; the whole ocean can 
communicate no more water than what will fill the vessel, that is 
to contain it. Thus the infinite perfections of God being such as 
cannot be contained in a finite mind, we are not to suppose 
that our comprehending them was the design of divine revela- 
tion ; God, indeed, designed hereby that we should apprehend 
some things of himself, namely, as much as should be subser- 
vient to the great ends of religion; but not so much as might be 
inconsistent with our humble confession, that zve are but of yes- 
terday^ and knoxv^ comparatively^ nothings Job viii. 9. 

And this is applicable, not only to the essential, but the per- 
sonal, glory of God, Who hath ascended into heaven^ or descend- 
ed ? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists P Who hath hound 
the xvaiers in a garment ? Who hath established all the ends of 
the earth ? What is his' name, and what is his So7i*s name, if 
thou canst tell ? Prov. xxx. 4. Our Saviour, indeed, speaks of 
his hdiv'm^ ascended into heaven, John iii. 13. as having a com- 
prehensive knoAvledge of all divine trtiths ; but this he affirms 
concerning himself as a divine person, exclusively of all crea- 
tures. 

Moreover, when it is said, in this objection, that God makes 
the comprehensive knowledge of these things a term of salva- 
tion, this we must take leave to deny ; and we need not add any- 
more as to that head, since we have already considered what 
degree of knowledge is necessary thereunto, namely, such as is 
subservient to religion, which teaches us to adore what we ap- 
prehend to be the object thereof, though we cannot compre- 
hend it. 

As to that part of the objection, that which is unintelligible, 
is not the object of faith, we must distinguish before we grant 
or deny it; therefore, since the object of faith is some proposi- 
tion laid down, it is one thing to say that a proposition cannot 
be assented to, when we have no ideas of what is affirmed or 
denied in it ; and another thing to say that it is not believed, 
when we have ideas of several things contained therein, ot 
which some are affirmed, and others denied ; as, for instance, 
when we say God is an infinite Spirit, there is a positive idea 
contained in that proposition, or some things affirmed therein, 
viz. that he is able to put forth actions suitable to an intelligent 
being; and there is something denied concerning him, to wix, 
Kis being corporeal ; and in concluding him to be an in^nite 



XHE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 22J 

Spirit, we deny that they are limits of his understanding ; all 
this we may truly be said to understand and believe : but if we 
proceed farther, and enquire what it is to have such an under- 
standing, or will ? this is not a proposition, and consequently 
not the object of faith, as well as exceeds the reach of our un- 
derstanding. So as to the doctrine of the Trinity, when we 
affirm that there is one God, and that the Father, Son, and 
Spirit, have all the perfections of the Godhead ; and that these 
perfections, and the personality of each of them, are infinitely 
greater than what can be found in the creature, this we yield 
our assent to ; but if it be enquired how far does God herein 
exceed all the ideas which we have of finite perfections, or per- 
sonality, here our understandings are at a loss ; but so far as 
this does not contain the form of a proposition, it cannot, ac- 
cording to our common acceptation of the word, be said to be 
the object of faith. 

3. As to what concerns practical religion, the ideas we have 
of things subservient to it are of two sorts ; either such as engage 
our obedience, or excite our adoration and admiration : as to 
the former of these, we know what we are commanded to do ; 
what it is to act, as becomes those who are subject to a divine 
person, though we cannot comprehend those infinite perfec- 
tions, which lay us under the highest obligation to obey him : 
as to the latter, the incomprehensibleness of the divine person- 
ality, or perfections, has a direct tendency to excite our admira- 
tion, and the infiniteness thereof our adoration. And, since all 
religion may be reduced to these two heads, the subject matter 
of divine revelation is so far from being inconsistent with it, 
that it tends to promote it. Things commanded are not, as 
such, incompi'ehensible, as was but now observed, and therefore 
not inconsistent with that obedience, or subjection, which is 
contained in one branch thereof; and things incomprehensible 
do not contain the form of a command, but rather excite our 
admiration, and therefore they are not only consistent with, but 
adapted to promote the other branch thereof. Is it not an in- 
stance of religion to adore and magnify God, when we behold 
the display of his perfections in his works ? And is he less to 
be adored, or admired, because we cannot comprehend them ? 
Or should we not rather look upon thc;m with a greater degree 
of astonishment, than if they did not exceed the reach of a finitp 
mind ? Must a person be able to measure the water of the 
ocean, or number all the particles of matter that are contained 
in the world ; or can our ideas be no ways directed to shew 
'orth the Creator's praise ? Or must we be able to account for 
very thing that is a mystery in nature ; or can we not improve 
•t to promote some of the ends of pj-actical religion, that we are 



224 THE D0CTR1N£ Oi' THE TRINITY. 

engaged to thereby ? May we not say, with wonder, Lord, 
hoxv manifold are thy xvorks ! in wisdom hast thou made them^ 
all ; the earth is full of thy riches ? Psal. civ. 24. So when we 
behold the personal glory of the Father, Son, and Spirit, as dis- 
played in the work of redemption, or as contained in scripture, 
which is therein said to be an instance of his manifold -wisdovu 
Eph. iii. 10. should we not admire it the more, inasmuch as ii 
is, as the apostle calls it, unsearchable ? Therefore practical 
religion, as founded on divine revelation, is not, in all the 
branches thereof, inconsistent with the incomprehensibleness of 
those things, -which are, some in one respect, and others in 
another, the objects thereof. 

And as to what is farther contained in this objection, con- 
cerning the will's following the dictates of the understanding, 
and practical religion's being seated therein, I own, that we 
must first know what we are to do in matters of religion, be- 
fore we can act; thus we must first know what it is to wor- 
ship, lovci, and obey, the Father, Son, and Spirit, as also that 
these three divine persons are the object of worship, love, and 
obedience, and then the will follows the dictates of the under- 
standing ; but it is one thing to know these things, and ano- 
ther thing to be able to comprehend the divine, essential, or 
personal glory, which belongs to them, and is the foundation 
of these acts of religious worship. 

4. As to what is farther objected, concerning the design of 
divine revelation's being to improve our understanding ; or, as 
it is sometimes expressed, that it is an improvement upon the 
light of nature ; this seems to have a double aspect, or ten- 
dency, viz,, to advance, or depreciate, divine revelation. 

1. If we take it in the former view, we freely own, 

(1.) That it is a very great improvement upon the light of 
nature, and that, either as we are led hereby, not only into the 
knowledge of many things which could not be discovered by 
at, namely, the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of the 
Son of God, and that infinite satisfaction which was given by 
him to the justice of God, in order to our discharge from con- 
demnation, as also that communion which believers have 
with the Father, Son, and Spirit ; and therefore, since the light 
of nature gives us no discovery of these doctrines, divine reve- 
lation, and particularly the gospel, makes a very great addition 
to those ideas which we are led into by the light of nature. 
It is true, they both take their rise from God, yet one excels 
the other, as much as the light of the sun does that of a star ; 
and is, as the Psalmist says, when comparing them together, 
perfect^ converting the soul; and^ywrf, making wise the simple. 
Psal. xix. 7. 



THE DOCTRINE Of THE TRINITY. 226' 

(2.) That when the same truths are discovered by the light 
of nature, and by divine revelation, the latter tends veiy much 
to improve our ideas : thus when the iight of nature leads us 
into the knowledge of the being and perfections of God, his 
wisdom, power, and goodness, as illustrated in the works of 
nature and providence, we have not so clear ideas thereof, as 
we receive from the additional discoveries of them in divine 
revelation ; and in this respect one does not cioud or darken 
those ideas which the other gives. But neither of these are 
designed by those who bring this objection against the doctrine 
of the Trinity : therefore we must s:uppose, 

2. That they intend hei-eby to depreciate divine revelation, 
and then the sense thereof is this j that though the light of na- 
ture leads mankind into such a degree of the knowledge of di- 
vine truths, as is sufficient, in its kind to salvation ; so that 
they, who are destitute of divine revelation, may thereby un- 
derstand the terms of acceptance with God, and the way which, 
if duly improved, would lead to heaven ; yet God was pleas- 
ed to give some farther discovery of the same things by his 
word, and, in this sense, the one is only an improvement upon 
the other, as it makes the same truths, which were known, in 
some degree, without it more clear, and frees them froin those 
corruptions, or false glosses, which the perverse reasonings of 
men have set upon them ; whereas we, by insisting on inex- 
plicable mysteries, Avhich we pretend to be founded on divine 
revelation, though, in reality, they are not contained in it, cloud 
and darken that light, and so make the way of salvation more 
difficult, than it would otherwise be ; and this certainly tends 
to depreciate divine revelation, how plausible soever the words, 
at first view, may appear to be ; for it supposes those doc- 
trines but now mentioned, and many others of the like nature, 
not necessary to salvation ; so that this objection takes its first 
rise from the Deists, however it may be applied, by the Anti- 
trinitarians, in militating against the doctrine of the Trinit}'. 
Therefore, since it is principally designed to overthrow this 
doctrine, by supposing it to be unintelligible, and consequent- 
ly, according to their method of reasoning, in no sense the ob- 
ject of faith, the only reply which need be made to it is, that 
the discoveries of the glory of God, by the light of nature, are, 
in some respects, as incomprehensible as the doctrine of the 
Trinity ; which we are not, for that reason, obliged to disbe- 
lieve, or reject; and therefore there is no advantage gained 
against our argument, by supposing that the light of nature 
contains a discovery of truths, plain, easy, and intelligible by 
all, in the full extent thereof, and that the doctr'ne of tl*'" 

Vol. I. F f 



226- -IHE DOCTIUNE OF THE TRllSflTT. 

Trinity is otherwise, and consequently must not be contained 
in divine revelation, and, as sucih, cannot be defended by us. 

4. Another thing that may be premised, before we enter on 
the proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, is, that it is not cbntra- 
ry to reason, though it be above it ; neither are our reasoning 
powers, when directed by scripture-revelation, altogether use- 
less, in order to our attaining such a degree of the knowledge 
thereof, as is necessary, and ought to be endeavoured after. 
When a doctrine may be said to be above reason, has beea 
already considered, as well as that the doctrine of the Trinity' 
is so; and now we are obliged to obviate an objection, which 
is the most popular one of any that is brought against it, name- 
1}^, that it is an absurd and irrational doctrine ; and that they 
who maintain it must fa-st lay aside their reason, before they 
can be induced to believe it, for it is as much as to say that 
three are equal to one ; which is contrary to the common sense 
of all mankind, or else, that we maintain a plurality of gods, 
which is contrary to the very first principles of the light of na- 
ture. And here we are reflected on, as though we demanded 
that our antagonists should lay aside their reason, before we 
argue with them, and then it is easy to determine on which 
side the argument will turn ; therefore, to make way for what 
anight be said in defence of the doctrine of the Trinity, we 
shall, under this head, consider, 

(1.) When a doctrine may be said to be contrary to reason. 

(2.) Shew that the doctrine of the Trinity is not so. 

(3.) What is the use of reason, in establishing it, or or any 
Other doctrines, whicli are the subject of pure revelation. 

(1.) When we may conclude, that a doctrine is contrary to 
reason. This it may be said to be, when it is contrary to the 
methods of reasoning made use of by particular persons, which 
are not always just, and therefore it does not follow, from 
hence, that it is false or absurd, because our reasoning about 
it is so, but rather the contrary ; so that when they, on the 
other side of the question, tell us, with an air of boasting, that 
if the doctrine we are maintaining could have been accounted 
for, how comes it to pass that so many men of sense and learn- 
ing, as are to be found among the Anti-trinitarians, have not 
been able to do it ? But this , is nothing to our present argu- 
ment; therefore we suppose that a doctrine is contrary to rea- 
son, when it contradicts some of the first principles, which the 
mind of man cannot but yield its assent to, as soon a5 ever it 
takes in the sense of the words M'hich contain them, without 
demanding any proof thereof; as that the whole is greater than 
the part ; and that a thing can be, and not be, at the same 
time ; or that two is more than one, £ff c. or when we can prove 
■ii thing to be true to a demonotration, and yet suppose that a 



THE DOCTRINE Or THE TRINITY. 22'7 

contradictory proposition, in which the words are taken in the 
same sense, may be equally true, (o) 

(2,) That the doctrine of the Trinity is not contrary to rea- 
son. This appears, inasmuch as we do not say that the three 
Persons in the Godhead are one Person, or that the one divine 
Being is three divine Beings. 

Object. But it is objected, that it is contrar}^to reason, which 
establishes and proves the unity of tire Godhead, to say that 
the divine nature may be predicated of more than one, inas- 
much as that infers a plurality of Gods, and every distinct 
Person must be concluded to be a distinct God ; therefore the 
Trinitarian doctrine is down-right Tritheism, and consequent- 
ly contrary to reason ; and here those words of the Athanasian 
Creed are produced, as an instance hereof, namel)-, that the 
Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, 

(a) He who has marked the differences between truth and error, good anil 
evil, made them discoverable, and formed hninan minds susceptible of their 
impressions, thereby discovers his will that we should attend to them, and has 
made it our duty to do so. With this sentiment sacred revelation is expressly 
accordant ; " prove all things, hold fast that which is good." The Gospel re- 
quires not faith without evidence, it demands no more assent than is proportion- 
ed to the weight of probability, and charges as a crime only our refusing to at- 
tend to the evidence, or om- coming to it with hearts prejudiced against, and 
therefore insensible to, its evidence. The exercise of reason is essential to faith, 
for how sudden soever om* convictions, still it is the judgment which is con- 
vinced. 

Yetreajson has her due province; she may and ought to ascertain the genuineness, 
flutlienticity, and divine authority of the scriptures. When this is done, she can- 
not correctly delay her assent, because she may not fully comprehend the pro- 
mises or works of God, for this would require wisdom no less than Divine. 
But suppose she should presume to try them, by what balances shall she weigli 
them? To what sliali she compare them.'' To the reasons and fitness of things.' 
what ai'e these but circumstances and relations springing from the works of God ? 
His creation originated from his wisdom uud power, and is ever dejiendent ou 
them. This is therefore to circumscribe infinite wisdom by what has been al- 
I'catly discovered of it ; it is to limit infinite power from effecting- any thing 
which it has not hitherto accomplished. Such judgment is not the work of rea- 
son, it is irrational. Reason can only make an induction, where there exists pre. 
rnises from which a conclasion can be drav>'n ; but here her limits are exceeded, 
she has no standard by which she can measure infinity. Ey reasoning we justly 
infer from the works of God, many of his glorious moral, as well as natural, per- 
fections ; we gather that he is holy, just, true, and good, and we may fan-iy say 
that he will never depart from such rectitude, but tliat all his works will be con- 
formed to such principles. We can go no farther thaai unto generals, we have 
no right to question any word or act of his, and say it is not conformed to such 
perfections, because this would suppose that we possess infinite wisdom. Jf-i 
may have ways of solving our difhculties and objections, with which we arc 
not acquainted. Such judgment is not only irrational, but an-ogimt, as it is an 
extension of the claims of reason beyond her just limits. Our duty in such case 
is exemplified in the father of the faithful. At God's command we nui.st, like 
him, sacrifice our "Isaacs, and leave to him both to accomplish his promises and 
to justify the action .It is evident that the doctiine of the Triiuty is but partially 
revealed to man, but sufficiently to let him into a competent knowled|,c of '•S 
blan of ref'cmption ' ' 



i28 IHE DOCTRIKTE OF THE TRINITY. 

yet there are not three Gods, but one God ; so, that the Far 
ther is Eternal, the Son is Eternal, and the Holy G^st Eter- 
nal, yet there are not three Eternals, but one Eternal ; and the 
Father Almighty, the Son Almight}^, and the Holy Ghost Al- 
mighty, yet are there not three Almighties, but one Almigh- 
ty. This they suppose, though without ground, to be a plain 
contradiction. ' 

Answ. But to this it may be replied, that when we my the 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are God,, we do not say they 
are distinct Gods, for the distinction between them respects 
their personality, not their deity : and when we assert that 
they are all Eternal, or Almighty, w^e do not suppose that 
their duration, or power, arc distinct ; and the same may be 
said of all other divine perfections that are attributed to them, 
the perfections are the same in all of them, though the persons 
are distinct. So that the charge of Tritheisni lies in a narrow 
compass : they sa}' that there is one divine Being, so do we ; 
and to this the)- add, that this divine Being is a divine person, 
since existence and personality are the same; therefore, if there 
are more divine Persons, there must be more Gods ; this con- 
sequence thev maintain, but we deny. But how do they prove 
it ? The proof amounts to no more than this ,* that there is no 
instance in finite things, when we speak of angels or men, to 
whom alone personality can be applied, of any distinct persons, 
but at the same time their beings are distinct; therefore it 
must be so with respect to the divine persons. This we are 
bound to deny, since our ideas of personality and existence 
are not the same ; therefore, how inseparable soever they may 
be in what respects creatures, we may have distinct ideas of 
them, when we speak of the divine being and personality of 
the Father, Son, and Spirit. Here it will, doubtless, be de- 
manded, that we determine wherein the difference consists ; 
or, in particular, since every distinct finite person is a distinct 
being, what there is in the divine personality, that should ex- 
clude the Father, Son, and Spirit, from being distinct beings, 
because distinct persons ; so that when we conclude that there 
is a small or faint resemblance between divine and human per- 
sonalit\', we must be able to comprehend, and fully to describe, 
that infinite disproportion that is between them, or else must 
be charged with using words without any manner of ideas an- 
nexed to them, and so our cause must fall to the ground. ■ If, 
indeed, the divine personality were finite, like that of the 
creature, then it might be required that a finite mind should 
account for it : but since it is not so, but incomprehensible, we 
are bound to believe what we cannot comprehend. 

But have we no ideas at all of the distinct personality of the 
Father, Son, and Spirit? To this we may answer; that we 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 229 

have finite ideas thereof, and more than these we have not of 
any of the divine perfections. We are taught, by scripture, to 
say that they are distinct persons ; and we know what those 
personal characters, or properties, from whence our ideas take 
their rise, signify, when apphcd to men ; but, at the same 
time, abstract, in our thoughts, every thing from them that ar- 
gues imperfection ; or, in short, our conceptions hereof pro- 
ceed in the same way, as when we think of any of the perfec- 
tions of the divine nature : these, as well as the divine person- 
ality, are equally incomprehensible ; yet, while we say they arc 
infinitely more than can be in any creature, we, notwithstand- 
ing, retain such ideas of them, as tend to answer those ends 
of religion, which suppose that we apprehend something of 
them that is conducive hereunto. We are now to consider, 

(3.) The use of reason in proving or defending the doctrine 
of the Trinity, or any other doctrines of pure revelation. They 
could not, indeed, have been at first discovered by reason, nor 
can every thing that is revealed be comprehended by it, yet 
our reason is not to be laid aside as useless ; therefore some 
call it a servant to faith. Thus revelation discovers what doc- 
trines we are to believe, demands our assent to them, and rea- 
son offers a convincing proof that we are under an indispen- 
sable obligation to give it : it proves the doctrine to be true, 
and such as is worthy of God, as it is derived from him, the 
fountain of truth and wisdom ; and this office of reason, or the 
subserviency thereof to our faith, is certainly necessary, since 
what is false cannot be the object of faith in general ; and no- 
thing unworthy of God can be the matter of divine revelation, 
nor consequently the object of a divine faith. 

Now, in order to reason's judging of the truth of things, it 
first considers the sense of words ; what ideas are designed to 
be conveyed thereby, and whether they are contrary to the com- 
mon sense of mankind; and if it appears that they are not, it 
proceeds to enquire into those evidences that may give con- 
viction, and enforce our belief thereof; and leads us into the 
nature of the^ truths revealed, receives them as instamped 
with the authority of God, and considers them as agreeable to 
his perfections, and farther leads us into his design of revealing 
them, and what we are to infer from them ; and in doing this 
it connects things together, observes the dependence of one 
thing on another, what is the importance thereof, and how they 
are to be improved to answer the best purposes. 

Now this may be applied particularlv to the doctrine of the 
Trinity; for it contains in it no absurdity contradictor}- to rea- 
son, as has been already proved ; and the evidences on which 
our faith herein is founded will be farther considered, when we 



230 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

prove it to be a scripture doctrine, by the express words there- 
of, agreeable to the mind of the Holy Ghost, or by just con- 
sequences deduced from it ; by which it will farther appear, 
that it is necessary for us to use our reason in stating those 
doctrines, which are neither founded on, nor can be compre- 
hended by it. 

5. We are now to consider from whence the doctrine of the 
Trinity is to be deduced, or where we are to search for that 
knowledge thereof, which we are to acquiesce in. And here it 
must be observed, that it cannot be learnt from the light of na- 
ture, for then we should certainly be able to behold some tra- 
ces or footsteps thereof in the works of creation and provi- 
dence, that so this might be understood thereby, as well as the 
power, wisdom, and goodness of God, as the cause is known 
by its effect ; but we should never have known that God made 
all things by his essential word, without whom nothing' was 
made, that was made, as the evangelist speaks, John i. 3. had 
we not received this doctrine frdm divine revelation : likewise, 
we should never have known that the Spirit, as a distinct Per- 
son from the Father, created all things, and performed several 
other works, by which his personal glory is demonstrated, had 
we not received the account which we have thereof from scrip- 
ture. The light of nature could discover to us, indeed, that 
God, who is a Spirit, or incorporeal Being, has produced many 
effects worthy of himself; but we could not have known hereby, 
that the word Spirit signifies a distinct person, which we are 
beholden to diAine revelation for. 

And as for the work of our redemption, in which, more than 
in all the other divine works, the personal glory of the Father, 
Son, and Spirit, is demonstrated, we could have known as little 
of that by the light of nature, as we do the persons to whom it 
is attributed. But I am sensible that it will be objected to this, 

Object. 1. That our first parents knew the doctrine of the 
Trinity as soon as they v/ere created, otherwise they could not 
have given that distinct jglory to the Persons in the Godhead 
that is due to them ; and if we are required, not only to wor- 
ship the divine Being, but to worship the Father, Son, and 
Spirit ,• and, if this worship is due fi"om us, as creatures, and 
not merely as fallen and redeemed ; then it will follow from 
hence, that our first parents must know the doctrine of the 
Trinity : but this they did not know by divine revelation; there- 
fore they knew it by the light of nature. 

Ansxv. We will allow every thing contained in this objection, 
excepting that they did not know this by divine revelation ; for 
certainly they had some ideas conveyed this way at first, other- 
wise they could not have known any thing that related to in^. 



TUE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 231 

i^tituted worship, which, it is plain, they did. And shall it be 
reckoned any absurdity to suppose that they received this doc- 
trine of the Trinity by divine revelation," though we huxe no 
particular account thereof, in that short history which Moses 
gives us of things relating to the state of innocency ? It is there- 
fore suihcient to our purpose, to suppose that it was agreeable 
to the wisdom and goodness of God to make known to them 
this important truth, and consequently that he did so, though 
not by the light of nature. 

Object. 2. It is farther objected, that the heathen knew some- 
thing of the doctrine of the Trinity, as appears by their writings, 
though they were unacquainted with scripture. To support this 
objection, they refer to several mystical expressions in the works 
of Plato, which seem to look that way, when he speaks of three 
principles ; one whereof he calls goodness, or a being that is 
good ; the second he calls his word, or reason ,* and the third a 
spirit, which diffuses its influence throughout the whole system 
of beings, and calls him sometimes the soul of the world ; and 
in other places, he speaks of them as having a distinct sove- 
reignty.* And he supposes the first of these to be the cause of 
things most great and excellent ; the second, the cause of things 
of an inferior nature ; the third, of things yet more inferior ; 
and some of his followers plainly call them three hypostases ; 
and sometimes, Father, Word, and Spirit. 

Answ. The account which Plato and his followers seem to 
have given of the doctrine of the Trinity does not appear to 
have been taken from the light of nature, and therefore this 
makes nothing to the objection. We have sufficient ground to 
conclude that Plato travelled into Egypt, with a design to make 
improvements in knowledge ; and some suppose, that there he 
saw some translation of a part of the Bible into Greek, f more 
ancient than that which is commonly attributed to the LXX, 
which was^ not compiled till an hundred years after his time. 
But whether he did this, or no, is uncertam : it is true, he used 
several expressions, which are contained in the books of Moses, 
and took the plan of his laws from thence ; upon which account 
some have called him a second Moses, speaking Greek : but 
whether he received his notions more immediately from scrip- 
ture, or by conversation witli the Jews, of whom a great num- 
ber settled in Egypt, after Gedaliah's death, is not material ; 
however, it is sufficiently evident, that he had not all of them, 
in a way of reasoning, from the light of nature : and as for his 
followers, such as Plotinus, Proclus, Porphyr}^ and others, they 
lived in those ages, when Christianity prevailed in the world, 
though none of them pretended to be Christians ; and one of 

^ rtd.iPpiit. 2 ad Diovvs: y yfd,BtC^'>. Prrp. Ermtr. lib. XlfJ. cat>. 12. 



^32 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

them was the most inveterate enemy to Christianity that hvc6 ; 
yet these might well be supposed to make their master Plato 
speak several things, as to this mystery, which he never intended, 
were it only to persuade the Christians to believe that he was not 
inferior to JNIoses, or any other recorded in scripture. 

Thus having answered the objections, we shall take leave to 
consider how unwarily some divines, who have defended the 
doctrine of the Trinity, have not only asserted that Plato under- 
stood a great a deal of it, but have made use of this, as an an- 
swer to the Anti-trinitarian objection before mentioned, that 
the doctrine of the Trinity is unintelligible ; and they have ta- 
ken a great deal of pleasure in accounting for this doctrine in 
such a way as these philosophers have done :* and some of them 
have taken notice of a few dark hints, which they have met with 
in some of the poetical fictions, and from thence concluded that 
there was something of the Trinity known, even by the Heathen 
in general : thus v.hen the word three is mentioned by them, 
-and applied to some things, which they relate concerning their 
gods ; or when they speak of gods delighting in an unequal num- 
ber, or in the number three. But this is too gross to be particu- 
larly mentioned, lest it should give us an unbecoming idea of 
this divine mystery, or of those who have better arguments tha*! 
these to defend it. 

The reflection which I would make on this is, that what they 
call an advantage to the doctrine has been certainly very de- 
trimental to it ; and, as a late learned divine observes, has ten- 
ded only to pervert the simplicity' of the Christian faith with 
nfiixtures of philosophy and vain deceit.f And I doubt not but 
the apostle had an eye to this, among other corruptions, which 
they who were attached to the Heathen philosophy began to 
bring into their scheme of divinity, and would notoriously do 
in after ages, which he purposely fences against, when he says. 
Beware^ lest any man spoil you^ through philosophy and vain 
deceit^ after the tradition of men^ after the rudvnents of the 
ivorld^ and not after Christy Col. ii. 8. And this corruption so 
much prevailed, that it has given occasion to some of the Anti- 
trinitarians, to reproach the doctrine of the Trinity, as though 
it were a system of Platonism. And it is their being too fond of 
using Plato's words, in explaining the doctrine of the Trinity, 
that has given occasion to some of the fathers to be suspected, 
as though they were less favourable to the scripture account 
thereof; by which means the adversaries have laid claim to 
them as their own ; and produced some unwary expressions out 
of Justin Martyr, and others, supposing them to be in the Arian 



* Vid. Ititet. Coiicord. Jiatio7i. & Fid. Lib. II. cap. 3. 
/^■$!oricrJ aicoiint, &c. page 94. 



f See Dr. Serriman'ir 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRIKITY. 23$ 

scheme, Avho, in other parts of their writings, appear to be re- 
mote from it. («) 

(a) " Philo uses not the name for his derivative Being in the Godhead, which 
we see the other Jews of the time using in the Gospels. He speaks not of huu, 
ty his nalui-iil appellation of the Son of God. No ! lie takes up anolhcr title for 
him, whicli Indeed was known equally to other Jews, or Philo could not possibly 
have adopted it; which was known equally to the Gtntiles, as I shall show here- 
after; but which was known only to the scholars of either. He calls him " the 
Logos of God." This is a name, that can be borrowed, together with the idea 
annexed to it, only from the Jews, or from the conmion ancestors of them and of 
the Gentiles ; that answers exactly to the Dabar of Jehovah in the Hebrew Scrip- 
tures, and to the Jifetura of Jehovali iu the Cliuldee paraphrasts upon them ; and 
signifies merely " the Word of God." This name has been since introduced into 
our religion, by one of the inspired teachers of.it. And notwithstanding the duc- 
tility of the Greek language in this instance, which would allow it to be rendered 
cither the Word or the Reason of God ; yet the English Bible, with a strict adhe- 
rence to propriety, and in full conformity to the ancient Christians and ancient 
Jews, has rejected the accidental signnfication, and embraced only the immediate 
and the genuine. Yet, even now, tJie name is confined in its use to the more im- 
proved intellects among us. And it mast therefore have peculiarly been, in tlie 
days of Philo, the philosophical denomination of Him, who was popidarU) called the 
Son of God. 

The use of the name of Logos, or Word, by Philo and by St. John in concur- 
rence, sufficiently marks the knowledge of the name among the Jews. But the 
total silence concerning it, by tlic Jewish writers of the three first Gospels ; tlie 
equal silence of the introduced Jews concerning it, in all the four ; and the ac- 
knowled^^ed u^e of it througii all the Jewish records of our religion, merely by St, 
Jolin himself; prove it to have been famili,ar to a few only. It is mdeed too mys- 
terious in its allusion, and too reducible isito metaphor in its import, to have ever 
been the common and ordimon' appellation for the Son of God. Originating from 
the spincual principle of connexion, betwixt the first and the second Being in the 
Godhead ; marking this, bj' a spiritual idea of connexion ; and considering it to be 
as close and as necessary as the JFord is to the energetick J\Iind of God, which 
cannot bury its intellectual energies in silence, but must put tlaem fortii in sjieech , 
it is too spiritual in itself, to be addressed to the fuitli of the niultitude. If with 
so full a reference to our dodilt/ ideas, and so positive nJiHciion of the Second Be- 
ing to the First, we have seen tlie grossness of Arian criticism endeavouring to 
resolve the doctrine into the mere dust of a figure; how much more ready woul4 
it have been to do so, if we had only such a spiriiual denomination as this, for the 
second ?" This would certainly have been considered b\- it, as t<jo unsubstantial 
for distinct personalit}', and thereibre too evanescent for equal divinity. 

St. John indeed adopted this philosophical title, for tlic denomination of the 
Son of God ; only in one solemn and prefatory passage of his Gospel, m two slight 
and incidental passages of his Epistles, and in one of his Book of revelations. 
Even there, the use of the popular instead of tlie philosopliical name, in the tliree 
Gospels antecedent to his, precluded all m-obability of mi.sronstruclion. Yet, not 
content with this, he formed an additional barrier. At the same inst:int in which 
he speaks of the Logos, he asserts him to be distinct from God the Father, and 
yet to be equally God with him. " In the beginning," he says, " was tub Woiui; 
" and THE Word was with God ; and the Wonu was Gon." Having thus secured the 
two gi-and points relatuig to the Logos, he can have nothing more to say upon the 
subject, than to repeat what he has stated, for impressing the deeper conviction. 
He accordingly repeats it. His personality lie impresses again, thus; " thk sat^ie 
was in the beginning loith God." Ilis divinity ;dso he again inculcates, thus : " At;, 

TUIJSrnS WEIIE HABE MT IllJf, and WITHOCT HIM M'AS NOT ANY THIN.'; MADE THAI' 

WAS MAnE." Here the very repetition itself, of enforcing his chimi to divinity, by 
ascribing the creation to him; is plainly an union of two clauses, each announcing 
him as the Creator of the uifuersc, and or.e doubling o\cr the other. And the un - 

Vol. I. ' G j^ 



'234- THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

And this leads us to consider the method which some divines 
have taken, in using similitudes to explain the doctrine of the 



created nature of his own existence is the more strcmgly enforced upon the mind, 
by being" contrRsted with the ci'eated nature of till other existences. These were 
^'r.^.^)s, hut he himself was ; made by Him, \\ ho was with God, and -wag God. Nor 
would lAl this precaution suffice, in the opinion of St. John. He must place still 
stronger fences against the dangerous .'^pirit of error. He therefore goes on to say, 
in confirmation of his personality and divinity, and in application of all to oiu' Sa- 
viour : " Hf. was in the world, and tue wohld was made bt him, and the world 
** knew him not ; He came unto his own [proper domains,] and nis own [proper 
" noHr.sTicKs] received him not." And he closes all, with judiciously drawing 
the several parts of his assertions betbre mto one full point ; and with addition- 
ally e.-^plaining his piiilosojihical term, by a direct reference of it to that popular 
one AV'hich he uses ever afterwai'ds : " and the Wonn was made flesh, and dwelt 
*' among us ; and we beheld his glorj, the glory as of the oniy begotten of the 
" Father, full of grace and truth." 

Yet, \\ hen such guards were requisite, what induced St. John to use tlris phi- 
losophical title at all ? The reason was assuredly this. The title was in high re- 
pute, and in familiar use, among the refined spirits of tlie age; and his Gospel 
was peculiarly calculated for the service of sfffA. The almost perjietual recur- 
rence of vhe H]i])ellation in Plulo's works shoM s evidently tlie use and the repute 
in which it was, among the more spiritualized of the Jews. St. John therefore 
adopted it himself, for the more easy access to tlieir conviction. It was also con- 
genial, probably, of itself to the spii'itualized state of St. John's mind. He, who 
has dwelt so much more than the other Evangelists upon the doctrines of oiu* Sa- 
viour ; and who has drawn out so manj' of them, in all their spiritual refinement 
of ideas ; would naturally pr(-fer the spiritual term of relationship for God the Son 
and God the Father, before the bodily, whenever the intellect was raised enough 
to receive it, and whenever the use of it \\'as sufficiently guarded from danger. 
These were two reasons, I suppose, that induced St. John to use it a^/etw times. 
And these were equally (I suppose) the reasons, that^nduced him, with all his 
guards, to use it onl)'' a few. 

Nor let US be to'd, in the rashness of Arian absiu'dity, that we misunderstand 
St. John in this interpretation of his words. If reason is capable or explaining 
words, and if St. John was capable of conveying his meaning in words to the ear 
of reason ; then we may boldly appeal to the common sense of mankind, and in- 
sist upon tlie truth of our interpretation. Common sense indeed hath already de- 
termined the point, in an impartial person, in an enemy, in a Heathen. I allude to 
that extraordinary approbation, which was given b}' a Heathen of the third cen- 
tury to this pp.ssag-e of St. John. " Of modern philosophers," says Eusebiu.s, 
*' Amelins is an eminent one, being himself, if ever there was one, a zealot for the 
*' philosophy of Plato ; and he called the Divine of the Hebrews a JJarb arian, as 
" if he would not condescend to make mention of the Evangelist John by name." 
Such is Eusebius's account of our reterce. But m hat are the terms of lus awaixi ? 
They are these. " And such indeed was the Logos," he sa3'S, " by w hom, a per- 
" petual existence, the thmgs created were created, as also Keraclitus has said; 
" and who b} Jupiter, the Barbmian says, being constituted in the iiuik and dig- 
'■' nity of a Principle, is with God and is God, by whom all things absolutely wei'e 
" created ; in v, hom the created living thing, and life, and existence, had a birth, 
" and fell into a body, and putting on flesh apjjeared a man ; and, after showing 
" the greatness of his nature, and being wholly dissolved, is again deified and is 
" God, such as he was before be was brought down into the body and the flesh 
" and a man. These things, if translated out of the .Barbarian's theology, not as 
" shaded over thei-e, but on the contraiy as placed in full view, would be plain." 
In this very singular and very valuable comment upon St. John's Gospel in gene- 
i-al, and upon his preface in particulai-, we may see, througli tiie harsh ami ob- 
5cure language of the whole, some circumstances of great moment. The bold air 
■Vai'rogance hi the blinded Heathen over the illuminated Divine must strike at 



THE DOCTRINE Of THE TRINITY. 23j 

'1 rinity, which, at best, tend only to illustrate, and not to prove 
a doctrine : and we can hardly make use of this method of illus- 
trating this doctrine, without conveying some ideas, which are 
unbecoming, if not subversive thereof; and while we pretend 
to explain that which is in itself inexplicable, we do no service 
to the truth. 

I shall here give a short specimen of this matter, that here- 
by we may see how some have unwarily weakened the cause 
which they have been maintaining. Some have taken a simili- 
tude from three of the divine perfections, viz. that there are three 
invisibles of God; power, wisdom, and goodness. Power creates, 
wisdom governs, and goodness conserves ; and so they have 
gone on to explain this doctrine, till they had almost given it 
into the hands of the Sabellians : and, indeed, they might have 
instanced in more divine perfections than three, had it been to 
their purpose. 

Again, others have explained this doctrine by some resem- 
blance which they apprehend to be of it in man ; and so they 
speak of the soul as a principle of a threefold life, rational, 
sensitive, and vegetative. Others speak of three causes con- 
curring to produce the same effect ; such as the efficient, con- 
stitutive and final cause. Others have taken their similitude 
from inanimate things ; as the sun, in which there is light, heat, 
and motion, which are inseparably connected together, and 
tend to produce the same effects. 

Moreover, others illustrate it by a similitude, taken from a 
fountain, in which there is the spring in the bowels of the earth, 
the water bubbling out of the earth, and the stream diffusing it- 
self in a perpetual course, receiving all it communicates from 
the fountain. I am sorry there is occasion to caution any against 

once upon every eye. But the Logos appears, from him, tohave been kno\*'T\ to the 
philosop/wrs oi' a.nt\([mty later than the Tiospel ; and known too as a perpetual 
Existence, and the Maker of the world. St. John also is witnessed by a Heathen, 
and by one who put liim down for a Barbarian, to ha\e represented the Logos as 
THE Mak>;ii of all things, as with God, and as God ; as one likewise, " in 7vhom 
the created living- Thing," or the human soul of our Saviour, " and" even " Life 
and Existence" themselves, those primogenial principles of Deity, " had a birth. 
Bind fell into a boily, and putting' onjlesh appeared a man" who ^\'as therefore man. 
and God m one; who accordingly " shewed tlie gi-eatness of his nature" by hir. 
miracles, was " wholly dissolved," and tlien " was iigain deifieii, and is God," 
even " sucii as he wa.s, before he was brovg-ht dtnun into the body and thefesh and 
a man." And St. John is attested to have dechu-ed tliis, " not even as shaded over, 
but " on the contraiy as placed in full vie-w." We have thus a testimony to the 
plain meaning of St. John, atjd to the evident Godhead of his Logos, a Godhead 
equally before :md after his death ; most unquestionable in its nature, very early 
in its age, and peculiarly forcible in its import. St. John, we sec, is referred to iii 
a language, that .shows him to have been well known to the Grecian cotempora- 
ries of Ainelius, as a writer, as a forf 'gi<."', ttnd n"i a marked as.>^eitor of Divinity 
"for bis Lojfos.' 

WhttIkep. 



^S& ^ i'HE DOCTRINE OF THE TillNItV. 

this method of explaining the doctrine of the Trinit}'. But 
these, and many other similitudes of the like nature, we find in 
the writings of some, v/ho consider not what a handle they give 
to the common enemy. There are, indeed, in most of lacm, 
three things, which iire said, in diiferent respects, to be one ; 
but we may observe, that all these similitudes, and others of 
the like nature, brought to illustrate this doctrine, lead us to 
.think of the whole divided into those parts, of which they con- 
sist, whereof they take notice of the number three ; or they 
speak of three properties of the same thing ; and if .their wit and 
fancy saw it needful to speak of more than three, the same method 
of illustrating would serve their purpose, as much. as it does 
the end for which they bring it. Therefore I would conclude 
this head, by using the words of God to Job, Who is this that 
c'arkeneth counsel by -words xvithout knoivhclge P Job xxxviii. 2. 
Who are these, that, by pretending to illustrate the doctrine of 
the Trinity by similitudes, do that, which, though very foreign 
to their design, tends to pervert it ? 

6. We shall now consider what general rules may be obser^ 
ved for our understanding those scriptures, on wliich our faith, 
with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity, is founded ; and 
since it is a doctrine of pure revelation, as has been before ob- 
served, we m^ist keep close to scripture, even to the words 
thereof, where they are express and distinct, as to this matter ; 
and to consequences dedaced from it, so far as they are just< 
and self-evident ; and, at the same time, Mdhile we are sensible 
that wc cannot comprehend this mj'stery, we must take care 
I hat we pretend not to be wise above what is revealed. Now 
there arc some rule.s, which maV be of use to us, in our enqui- 
ries into the sense of scripture concerning this doctrine ; as, 

(1.) We must not suppose that the words of scripture, rela- 
ting thereunto^ aVe to be taken in a sense, which can be known 
by none but criticks, as though it were designed only for them 
to understand ,' or that the unlearned part of the world should 
he left in the dark, or led "astray, as to several things contained 
in this important doctrine. Ihus we are not to suppose that we 
?.re at a loss as to the proper sense of the word God ; or could 
hardly know how to direct our faith and worship, founded 
thereon, without the help of criticism j or, for Want of being ac- 
quainted with some distinctions, concerning one that may be 
called God by nature, or the supreme God, and others who may 
be called gods by office, or subordinate gods, we should be led 
^o ascribe div ine honour vvliere it is not due ; or else we must 
be able to distinguish also concerning worship, and, instead of 
honouring the Son as we honour the Father, must give him an 
.inferior kind of divine worship, short of what is due to the 
Father. This we have no scripture w tUTant for ',■ neither are we 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 237' 

led by the scriptures to have any notion of a middle being be- 
tween God and the creature, or one that is not properly God, 
so as the Father is, and yet more than a creature, as though 
there were a medium between finite and infinite ; neither are 
we led, by scripture, to conceive of any being, that has an eter- 
nal duration, whose eternity is supposed to be before time, and 
yet not the same with the eternal duration of the Father. These 
things we shall have occasion to mention in their proper place, 
and therefore need make no farther use of them at present, but 
only to observe, from hence, how intelligible the scripture would 
he in what relates to this doctrine, if the words thereof had not 
a plain and determinate sense ; but we must make use of these 
methods of reasoning, if we would arrive to the meaning thereof. 

(2.) If some divine perfections are attributed in scripture to 
the Son and Spit it, all the perfections of the divine nature, may, 
by a just consequence from thence, be proved to belong to them, 
by reason of the simplicity and unity thereof: therefore, if we 
can prove, from scripture, that they have some perfections as- 
cribed to them, which, I hope, it will not be a difficult matter 
to do, we are not to suppose that our argument is defective, or 
that the doctrine of the Trinity is not sufficiently maintained, if 
we cannot produce a scripture to prove every perfection of the 
divine nature to be ascribed to them. 

(3.) When any thing is mentioned in scripture, concerning 
our Saviour, or the Holy Spirit, which argues an inferiority to 
the Father, this is t» be understood consistently with other 
scriptures, which speak of their having the same divine nature ; 
since scripture does not, in the least, contradict itself ; and how 
this may be done, will be farther considered under a following- 
head. 

(4.) If we have sufficient arguments to convince us of the 
truth of this doctrine, our faith ought not to be shaken, though 
we cannot fully understand the sense of some scriptures, whicli 
are brought to support the contrary ; not that Ave are to suppose 
that the scripture gives countenance to two opposite doctrines : 
but a person may be fully satisfied concerning the sense of those 
scriptures that contain the doctrine of the Trinity, and yet not 
be supposed perfectly to understand the meaning of every word 
or phrase used in scripture, or of some particular texts, which 
are sometimes brought to support the contrary doctrine ; so that 
objections may be brought, which he is not able readily to re- 
ply to. Shall he therefore deny the truth, because he cannot 
remove all the difficulties that seem to lie in the way of it ? 
That would be to part with it at too easy a rate, which, when 
he has done, he will find greater difficulties attending the con- 
trary scheme of doctrine. Do they object, that we believr 
rhingg contrary to reason, becau"^c we a?iScrt the incompreben- 



238 THE DOCTRIXE OF THE TRINITY. 

sibleness of divine mysteries ? or that we are Tritheists, bie- 
cause we believe that there are three Persons in the Godhead, 
and cannot exactly determine the diiFerence between divine and 
human personality.'' We could, on the other hand, point at 
some difficulties, that they cannot easily surmount. What shall 
we think of the head of giving divine worship to our Saviour, 
when, at the same time, they deny him to have those perfec- 
tions, that denominate him God in the same sense as the Father 
is so called .'' The Socinians found it very difficult, when the mat- 
ter was disputed among themselves, to reconcile their practice 
with their sentiments, when thev worshipped him, whose Deity 
they denied. And the Arians will find that this objection equal- 
ly affects their scheme ; and it will be no less difficult for them 
to reconcile Christ's character, as Redeemer, Governor of the 
world, Judge of quick and dead, with their l>>\v ideas of him, 
when denying his proper Deity. These things we only mention 
occasionally at present, that it may not be thought that the doc- 
trine of the Trinity is exposed to greater difficulties than the 
contrary doctrine, to the end that they who are not furnished 
witii all those qualifications, which are necessary for its defence, 
may not reckon those arguments, by which they have been con- 
vinced of tlie truth thereof, less valid, because they are not able, 
at present, to answer all the objections that may be brought 
against them. 

(5.) The weight of several arguments, taken from scripture, 
to prove this doctrine, is to be considered, as well as the argu- 
ments themselves ; we do not pretend that every one of them is 
equally conclusive ; there are some, which are oftentimes 
brought to support it, which we can lay no great stress upon, 
:md therefore shall omit to mention them, among other argu- 
ments brought to that purpose, lest we should give occasion to 
the adversary to insult, or conclude that we take any thing for 
an argument that has been brought as such to prove this doc- 
trine. Therefore we will not pretend to ]5rove, or peremptorily 
to determine, that the doctrine of the Trinity is contained in 
those woi'ds of the Psalmist, Psal. xxxiii. 6. By the xvord- of 
the Lordxvere the heavens made^ and all the Hosts of them by 
the breath of his mouth. Nor will we pretend to prove this 
doctrine from the threefold repetition of the word Jehovah, in 
the form of benediction to be used by the high priest, Numb, 
vi. 24, 25, 26. The Lord bless thee^ and keep thee; the Lord 
make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee ; the 
Lord lift up his countenance npon thee, and give thee peace. Nor 
do we lay any stress on the three-fold repetition of the word 
Holy, hchj, holy, is the Lord of Hosts, Isa. vi. 3. though we 
shall shew, in its proper place, that there are several things 
in this chapter, which prove this doctrine. However, if at 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 239 

ony time, together with arguments that are more conclu- 
sive, we bring some that are less so; this use may be made of 
it, to shew how the scripture way of speaking is consistent 
therewith in those places that do not so directly prove it. This 
we thought proper to mention, because it is a very common 
thing for those, who cannot answer the most weighty arguments 
that arc brought to suppoi-t a doctrine, to bend their greatest 
force against those which have the least strength ; and then to 
triumph, as though they had gained the victory, when thty have 
only done it in what respects that Avhich is less material. 

II. We shall now consider in what sense we are to under- 
stand the words Trinity and Persoufi in the Godhead ; and in 
what respect the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are said to be 
one. It is true, the word Trinitij is not to be found in scrip- 
ture, but what we understand by it is plainly contained therein ; 
therefore we use the word, as agreeable thereunto : thus we 
read of the thj-ee that bear record i?i heaven, viz. the Father^ 
the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and that these three are one, 1 
John V. 7. These three here mentioned are Persons, because 
they are described by personal characters ; and we shall take 
occasion elsewhere, when we prove the Deity of the Son and 
Spirit, to consider their being one, that is, having the same di- 
vine nature, which we shall therefore wave at present, being 
only considering the sense of words commonly used by us in 
treating of this doctrine. All contending parties, however they 
have explained the word Trinity, according to their differeiit 
ways of thinking, have notwithstanding, in compliance with cus- 
tom, vised the word, and so far explained it, as that we might 
understand that the}' intend hereby three, who are, in some re- 
spect one, though some have not cared to use the word Person ; 
or if they have, at is without the most known and proper idea, 
contained in it. Thus the Sabellians, whenever they use the 
word, intend nothing by it, but three relations, which may be 
attributed to the same Person ; as when the same Person ma\' 
be called a father, a son, and a brother, in different respects ; 
or as when he that, at one time, sustains the person of a judge, 
may, at another time, sustain that of an advocate : this is what 
some call a Trinity of names ; and they might as w^ell have de- 
clined to use the words altogether, as to explain them in this 
sense. 

Again, the Arians use the word Person ; but these have run 
into another extreme, inasmuch as that, whilst they avoid Sa- 
bellianism, they would lay themselves open to the charge of 
Tritheism, did they not deny the proper Deity of the Son and 
Spirit ; for they suppose that every distinct Person is a distinct 
being, agreeable to the sense of personality, when aj)plied to 
men ; but this, as has been before considered, is to Ije alx.tract" 



240 TH£ DOCTRINE Of THE TRINITY. 

ed from the idea of personality, when applied to the Persons m 
the Godhead. These also understand the oneness of these di- 
vine Persons, in a sense agreeable to their own scheme, and 
different from ours, and therefore they speak of them as one in 
will, consent, or design, in which respect God and the creature 
may be said to be one : accordingly Arius, and his adherents, in 
the council at Nice, refused to allow that the divine persons 
were 'o^««o; consubstantial, and, with a great many evasions 
and subterfuges, attempted to conceal their sentiments : all that 
they could be brought to own was, that the Son was 'Ofjioia, or 
OfAoatcriof, which amounts to no more than this, that whatever 
likeness there may be, in some respects, yet he has not the 
same proper divine nature with the Father and Holy Ghost. 

Which leads us to consider the sense in which it is generally 
used by those who defend what we think to be the scripture- 
doctrine of the Trinity. There are some, it is true, both among 
ancient and modem writers, that attempt to explain what they 
mean by the word Person, who are so unhappy as to leave the 
sense thereof more dark than they found it, when they have 
given a definition thereof, agreeable to what is used by meta- 
physicians and schoolmen, to this elFect, that it is a suppositum^ 
endowed with reason ; or that it is one entire, individual, in- 
communicable, rational subsistence : and when they define Per- 
sonality, some tell us, that it is a positive mode of a being ter- 
minating and conipleating its substantial nature, and giving in- 
communicability to it, which words need to be explained more 
than the thing defined thereby. And here I cannot but take 
notice of that warm debate which there was between the Greek 
and Latin church about the words Hypostasis and Persona; 
the Latin, concluding that the word Hypostasis signified sub- 
stance or essence, thought, that to assert that there were three 
divine Hypostases, was to sav that there were three Gods : On 
the other hand, the Greek church thought that the word Person 
did not sufficiently guard against the Sabellian notion of the 
same individual being sustaining three relations; whereupon 
each part of the church was ready to brand the other with he- 
resy, till by a free and mutual conference, in a synod at Alex- 
andria, A. D. 362. they made it appear, that it was but a mere 
contention about the grammatical sense of a word ; and then it 
was alloAved, by men of temper on both sides, that either of the 
two words might be indifferently used.* But what signifies the 
use of them, when perplexed with the scholastic explications 
thereof? This has given occasion to some, whose sentiments 
have been very remote as to the doctrine of the Trinity, to ex- 
press themselves with some dislike ; on the one hand, the Soci- 
"nians, and some among the Remonstrants, who made very great 
* Vid. Furbes. Instruct. Hist. Theol Lib. I. cap. 2. 5. 8. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 24| 

advances toward their scheme, viz. Curcellaeus, Episcopius, and 
others,! have comphiined of clouding this doctrine \vilh hard 
words ; and the complaint is not altogether groundless, though, 
it may be their design herein was to substitute such Avords in 
the room of them, as would make the remedy worse than the 
disease. On the other hand, some, who have embraced the 
doctrine of the Trinity, would not have liked its advocates the 
Avorse, had they chose to have defended it in a more plain in- 
telligible manner. Thus Calvin himself wishes, that some 
words, which are so warmly opposed and defended on each 
side, were altogether laid aside, and buried, provided that such, 
might be retained jis express our faith in the doctrine of the 
Father, Son, and Spirit, being the one God, but distinguished 
by their personal properties. :|: And this is that plain sense of 
the word, which I shall make use of, in what I shall farther at« 
tempt to lay down in the defence thereof. And accordingly, 

1. We never call any thing a person that is not endowed 
with understanding and will ; and therefore the most glorious 
inanimate creatures, either in heaven or earth, whatever excel- 
lencies they have, or how useful soever they are to the world, 
they are not persons. Thus, when the sun is described as 
though it were a person, and is compared to a brides-room co- 
ming out of his chamber^ and rejoicing as a strong man to run 
a race., Psal. xix. 5. the words are never understood in any 
other but a metaphorical sense ; so Behemoth and the Levia- 
than, mentioned in Job, being no other than brute creatures, 
are described with personal characters, in the same figurative 
way of speaking ; therefore we suppose a person to have an un- 
derstanding and will. 

2. Whenever /, thou., or //e, are applied to such a subject, 
they always connote a person; /, a person speaking; thou^-A. 
person spoken to; and Ae, ox him., a person spoken of ; and 

.when such modes of speaking are sometimes applied to things 
that are destitute of reason, or to any moral virtues or princi- 
ples of acting, which, from the nature of the thing, cannot be de- 
nominated persons, such expressions are very easily uivaerstood 
in a figurative sense, which may without any difficulty be dis- 
tinguished from the proper one, whereby those who are so de- 
Bcribed are denominated persons. <^^ 

There are some characters which always denote persons, mid 
some works performed which are properly personal, which can 
be; performed by none but persons. Thus the character of a 
father, or a son ; so a Creator, a Redeemer, a benefactor, a 
Mediator, an advocate, a surety, a judge, a lord, a law-giver, 
and many others of the like nature, are all of them personal 

f Vid. Cnrcell in Qvattem. Diaaert. de Voc. Tvinit.p,.r.iona' g". ^, Vid fV'- 
I'lstiUit. Lib. J. cap. 13. § 5, 

Vol. I. H h 



242 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

characters. So that whoever acts with design^ and has such- 
like characters attributed to him, according to the proper ac- 
ceptatiqn of the word, him we call a person ; and these charac- 
ters we shall endeavour to apply to the Persons in the God- 
head, to prove their distinct personality. 

But since we are at present only considering the acceptation 
of words, we shall briefly observe the difference between a di- 
vine and a iiuman person, when some personal properties, cha- 
racters, or works, are attributed to each of them. And, 

(1.) Human persons are separated one from the other : thus, 
for instance, Peter, James, and John, were three persons, but 
they were separated one from the other ; whereas the Persons 
in the Godhead, however distinguished by their characters and 
properties, are never separated, as having the same divine es- 
sence or nature. As for human persons, one of them might 
have had a being and personality, had the other never existed, 
because it exists by the will of God ; but the divine persons 
have a necessary existence and personality, as being, in all re- 
s.pects, independent, so that as they could not but be God, they 
could^not but be divine Persons ; the personality of the Son and 
Spirit are equally independent with that of the Father, and as 
much independent as their being and divine perfections. 

(2.) Human persons have only the same kind of nature, 
which is generally called a common specific nature, but not the 
same individual nature with another person ; so that though 
every man has a nature like that of the rest of mankind, yet the 
human nature, as attributed to one person, is not the same indi- 
vidual human nature that is attributed to another, for then the 
power and understanding, or the ideas that there are in one 
man, M'ould be the .same individual power and ideas, that are in 
another, which they are not. Whereas, when we speak of the 
Persons in the Godhead, as having the divine nature and per- 
fections, v/e say that this nature is the same individual nature in 
all of them, though the persons are distinct, otherwise the Fa- 
ther, Son, and Holy Ghost, could not be said to be truly and 
properly God, and to have the same understanding, will, imd 
other perfections of the divine nature. 

(3.) When we speak of human persons, we say, that as many 
persons as there are, so many beings there arc ; every human 
person has its own proper being, distinct from all other persons 
or beings ; but we do not say so with respect to the divine Per- 
sons, for the divine Being is but one, and therefore the Godhead 
of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is the very same ; which 
is what we understand when we say, that though there are three 
Persons in the Godhead, yet they r.re the same in substance, or 
the one only living and true God. 

This leads us to consider in what respect the Father, Son, 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 243 

and Holy Ghost, are said to be one ; by which we mean, that 
the Son and Holy Ghost have all the perfections of the divine 
nature, in the same sense as the Father has ,• to say less than 
this, is to assert no more than what our adversaries will allow ; 
for they will not deny them perfections, nor would they be 
thought to deny them to have clivine perfections ; yea, many of 
them will not stick to say, that they are truly and properly God ; 
by which they mean, that \v^hatever deity is attributed to them 
in scripture, by the appointment of the Father, that is, what- 
ever divine authority they have, this properly belongs to them : 
but, I think, they will none of them allow that they have the di-^ 
vine nature in the same sense in which the Father is said to 
have it. This is Avhat we shall endeavour to prove ; and more 
need not be said concerning them, in order to establish that su- 
preme worship which is due to them, as well as the Father ; 
and, in order hereto, we shall consider the force of those argu- 
ments contained in one of these answers, and, together with 
them, the sense of that scripture, John x. 30. in which our Sa- 
viour says, / and my Father are one ; as also that other scrip- 
ture, 1 John V. 7. that the Father^ the Word^ and the Holy 
Ghoat^ who bear record in heaven^ are one ; the consideration 
whereof we shall reserve to a following head. 

And inasmuch as they are said to be equal in power and 
glory, we may observe, that there are two expressions, which 
we often use, to set forth the deity of the Son and Spirit ; some- 
times we say they are God, equal with the Father ; at other 
times, that they have the same essential perfections. To which, 
it naay be, some will reply, that if they are equal, they cannot 
be the same ; or, on the other hand, if they are the same, they 
cannot be equal. For the understanding what we mean by such- 
like expressions, let it be observed, that when we consider 
them as having the divine essence, or any of the perfections 
thereof, we do not chuse to describe them as equal, but the 
same ; we do not say that the wisdom, power, holiness, 8?c. of 
the Son and Spirit are equal to the same perfections, as ascri- 
bed to the Father : but when we speak of them as distinct Per- 
sons, then we consider them as equal : the essential glory of the 
Father, Son, and Spirit, is the same ; but their personal glory is 
equal ; and in this sense we would be undei'stood, when we say 
the Son and Holy Ghost are each of them God, or divine Per- 
sons, equal with the Father.(«) 
-—T — — — — ' ' ■»- — 

(a) " The doctrine of a plurality appears in the very first words of inspiration. 
God would not record the history of oewi/o?;, without informini^- the Cluuch that 
the character of Creator was by no means to be confined to one person. It has of- 
ten been observ-ed, that this is taught in tlie woi-ds rendered God creuted, where 
we have a noun in the plural joined with * ^■eTb in the sinfjiiiar number, plainly 



U.44 HIE DOCl'RINE OF THE TRINITY. 

III. We shall proA^e that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
are distinct persons in the Godhead, by applying what has been 



expressing a plurality in unity. Tiiat this is the genuine sense of the passage ap- 
peal's from the work ascribed, in the next verse, to the Spirit of God, who is said 
to have " moved on the face cf the waters." By modern Jews, whom some Chris- 
tians have followed, this expression has been rendered, " a wind of God," or " a 
miglitj- wmd." Eut the firmament, or expanse, was not created till the second 
daj-. This includes the atmosphere which surrounds our earth : for the fowl is 
.said to " fly above the earth in the o]:)en firmament of heaven." Now, it cannot 
reasonably be supposed that there could be a mighty wind, or any wujd at all, 
before the existence of an atmosphere. 

If we turn to the gospel-history, we find a thh-d person mentioned as engaged 
in the woi-k of creation. " All things were made by" that Word, who " in tSe be- 
ginning existed witli God." 

This plurality appe:a-s still more expressly, when the sacred histprian gives an 
account of the creation of man : " And God saifl, Let t/s make man in our image, 
after our lUvcness." But it is a plurality in imity: "So God created man in 
Ms owTi image." It has been justly observed, that to this the language of Elihu, 
andof the royal Preaciier, agrees: "None saith. Where is God my ^lahet^s" 
and, " Remember now thy Creators" Nothing can be more absurd than the va 
I'ious attempts which have been made to .shew, that this language may be otlier- 
wise understood. God could never speak in this manner to wigels, or to any se- 
cond causes. For to whonisoe;ver these words were addressed, they must have 
been co-operators with God in this diviue work. They must have assisted him in 
making miui. Philo the Jew expressly says tliat these words, L?t its make, declare 
a plurality. That the Jewisli writers in general view this language as including a 
mystery, not to be made known to the vulgar, and indeed studiously concealed by 
them, fi"om their abhorrence of Christiariity, hai> been elsewhere demonstrated. 
It is therefore unnecessaiy to enlarge here. I shall onh/ add, that the modem Jews 
are so fully cominced tliat the doctrine of a phirality is contained in these words, 
as to wish to alter the reading. Instead oi Let ns nuike man, they incline to read, 
fyCt man he made ; although the Samaritan text, the Septuagint, the I'almudists, 
and all their translations, wJiether ancient or modern, express tlie language iii the 
same m.anner with oiu- A'ersion. 

The same import.ant doctrine is introduced in the history of the Fall. Tliat 
^lu'ee-one God, wlio said, *• Let us make man after our image," in the same cha- 
racter laments the loss of this image. '• Jkhovah God said. Behold, the man is be- 
rome as one of us ;" or, a.s some read the passage, " Behold the man, who was as 
fine of us !" Here Philo observes ; *' These words, as one oftts, are not ]>ut foi' one, 
but for more than one." The learned AUix has remarked that the ancient Jewisl? 
writers maintain, that God " speaks not this to the angels, who had no common 
1 ikeness to the unity or essence of God, but to Him who was the celestial Adam, 
^viio is one with God." To whom this character applies, we learn from the Tar- 
gum of Jonathan on the place, who here speaks of " the onlv begotten in heaven." 

This doctrine is also taught in the history of tlie Covfnsionoi Tovg^ics. " Jeho- 
vah said. — Go to, let us go down, and there confound tlieir language." Here the 
Jews repeat their contemptible subterfuge, tl4at God addresses his " house ot 
jtidgment," that is, created angels. 'For it is an established doctrine with them, 
that " God does nothing without previously consulting with hLs fam.ily above." 
But it has justly been observed, that tliese words, if spoken to angels, would im- 
ply that God wei*e one of tliem, or that he descended in the Svime mr'nner with 
them, by a real change of place. Besides, in a moment to change one language 
into mamv and to infuse tliese into the minds of nieii, who were utter stj-anjers to 
them before, so that they should entirely forget their former modes of speech, is 
a work that fai- surpasses the pov\er of angels, and can be accomplished by no be- 
ing but that God, with whom to will and to do is the same. 
' it must be evident to eveiy one, who i-eads the Instor}- of the Old Testament 
:«iih any degree of attention, tltut an *7«5. i is oflcu introduced as speaking th^' 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 24o 

i)ut now observed, by which any one may, by our common 
mode of speaking, be denominated a person ; and to this wc; 



language, performing the works, and accepting the worship, which exclusively 
belong to the Supreme Being. In other words, one, who is undoubtedly a divine 
person, often appears in a delegated character. Now, wliile it was the will of God 
in tliis manner constantly to remind his Church of the economy of redemption, lie 
at the same time taught her a distinction of persons in the divine essence. It was 
this Angel who appeared to Abraham on different occasions, to Ha.ij;'ar, to Jacob, 
to Moses, to Joshua, to the Israelites at Bochim, to Gideon, to Manoah and his 
wife. But I enter not into a particular consideration of these appearances, having 
endeavoured to illustrate the character of this divine Messenger in another place. 
'I'here it has also been proved, that the law was given to the Israelites at Mount 
Sinai by the second person of the adorable Trinity, in the character of the Angel 
of Jehovah. It deserves particular attention, that at the very time that the God 
of Israel gave his people a law, by which they were to be distinguished from all 
the idolatrous nations aroimd, one special design of which was to preserve the 
doctrine of the divine unity ; — at the very time that he pronoimced that leading 
precept, " Thou shalt have no other gods before me ;" he, according to the Sa- 
cred History, viewed in its coiuiexion, sustained the character of an Angel, and 
was pleased to communicate the knowledge of this fact to his people. How cati 
these apparent contradictions be reconciled, b>it by admitting that it was the will 
of God to I'eveal himself to his church, as at the same time possessing essentia! 
unity and personal plurality .' 

The more ancient Jewish writers declare, that two persons were engaged in 
promulgating the law. They say ; " The two first precepts were spoken by the 
*' Supreme Spirit, but he spoke all the rest by his Glory, who is called El Shad- 
" dai, known to the fathers ; by whom the prophets foretold future events ; who 
" is called Jah : in whom the Name of God is ; the Beloved of God who dwelt in 
*' the temple ; and the Mouth of tlie Loni) ; and the Face of the Lonn ; and the 
" Rock ; and that Goodness which Moses saw, when he could not see God." Else- 
where they call him *' the ScJiechinah, by whom we draw neai* to God, and pre- 
" sent our supplications to him ; mIio is that Angel in whom the name of God is. 
" who is himself called God and Jehovah." The ch:inge of person, in the promul- 
gjation of the law, asserted by these writers, is evidently a mere fancy. But their 
language deserves attention ; as i,t shews how fully they were convinced of th-r. 
doctrine of a plurality in unity, Wlien they introduced it in this manner. 

It has been universally admitted by the fi-iends of revelation, that the great ei\d 
which God hath in view in the work o? Redemption is the display of his own ado 
rable perfections. But there is doubtless another, although less attended to, nc 
wise incompatible with this, nay, itself lui eminent branch of the supreme eniJ 
Tills is the manifestation of tlie mystery of the Trinity, and of the mode of sub- 
sistence peculiar to each person in the divine essence. I'hls must undoubtedly b( 
viewed as Included in the one great design of the all-vise God in our rtdemp 
tion ; and it is evident that be hath still kept it in eye, in the re% elation given to 
the Church, and especially in the history of Uiat work, as it is recorded in tin- 
gospels. "We may trace the doctrine of a i'linil} in the accounts given of the old. 
/creation ; but It appears with far superior evidence in the history oV the new. This 
corresponds to the superior greatness of tlie work, and to the brighter and more 
extensive display of divine perfection. 

Such was the state of the Church, as to admit of a more full manifestation ot 
this mystery. It was more obscurely revealed to tlie patriarchs, and under the 
Mosaic economy. This was analogous to the general character of the revelation 
then made; as well as to tlie state of the Church, yet in her infancy, and expo- 
sed to constant temptations to polytheism, from the situation of all the sur^ 
rounding nations. But " when the fulness of tlie time was come," that the 
gospel sh<inld be preached to every creature, and the kingdom of Satan fliU a.s 
lightning from heaven, in the overthrow of heathen dai-kness ; tliere were na 
Sui-h impediments to the mo^'C clear revelation of this mvslcriotis doctrine. Tl<'> 



^46 TlIK DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

shall add something concerning those personal properties, menf 
tioned in one of the answers we are explaining, with respect to 

rest of the divine conduct indeed rendered this necessai'y. God had now " sent 
" forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that 
" wei'e under the law." The ends of this mission could not be accomplished, 
without a full revelation of the character of this illustrious Messenger. He 
could not othei-wise receive that homage from the Church, which he merited as 
lier Redeemer, and which was necessaiy, in order to her salvation. Now, his 
character, as essentially tlie Sou of God, and at the same time a divine Messen- 
ger, could not be properly unfolded, \\'ithout a declaration both of the paternity 
of the First Person, and of that wonderful dispensation, according to which the 
Second, although equal in power and gloiy, voluntarily " emptied himself." 
Nor could the unity of the work of redemption, as pervading all the dispensa- 
tions given to the Ciuu'ch, and the beautiful harmony of the law and the gospel^ 
be otherwise displayed. Without a full revelation of this mysterj', how could 
Jt have been known that he, who appeared in the end of ages as sent of God, was 
rhe very same person w1k> had rbrmerly led the Church, as the Angel of his 
face ; that He, who now brought spiritual redemption to his folk, Mas no otlier 
than that Angel-Redeemer, who had akeady so frequently delivei'ed them from 
temporal calamities ? 

If this mystery be unknown or disbelieved, there can be no faith in Christ as 
the Mediator between God and men. For he who believes not that the Son is in 
the Father, and the Father in tlie Son, as to identity of essence, while at the 
same lime there is a distinction of persons, denies the voluntary subjection of 
the Son to the Father in the eternal covenant, and thus the whole foundation of 
his merit and of our salvation. In relation to the work of our redemption, and. 
in the history given of it, ai-e revealed various internal actings of the divine per- 
sons towards each other, as well as those of ait external natui'e. The Father 
appoints, gives, sends, prepai-es a human nature for his Son ; the Son under- 
takes, gives himself, comes, assumes this natiu-e. 

From the history given of the conception of Christ, we find that three divine 
persons were engaged in the creation of this " new thing in the earth." The 
Father appears in the character of " the Highest ;" the Third Person, as " the 
" Holy Ghost," and " the Power of the Highest;" and the Second, as " the Son 
" of God." When this wonderful Person, the incarnate Word, was to be manl- 
iested to Israel at his baptism, each divine Person concurred in the work. The 
Father testified his presence and approbation by a voice from tlie excellent 
glory, announcing Jesus as his beloved Son ; and the Holy Ghost descended like 
a dove, and rested on him. The history of his death, viewed in its connexion, 
affords a proof of a similar kind. As "it pleased Jehovah," in the person of 
the Father, sustaining the character of Judge, to bruise the Son as our Surety; 
and as he, having power over his own life, commended his spirit into the hands 
of his Father, thus presenting unto him a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour; 
he did so " tln-ougli the Eternal Spirit." The same thing appears from the re- 
surrection of Jesus. He was " powerfully declared to be tlie Son of God in his 
" Insurrection from the dead ;" for he had " power to take again" that which 
no one could take from him. This work is frequently ascribed to God, where 
the term evidently denotes the f'irst Person. " God hath raised up Jesus again; 
'< as it is also written in the second psalm. Thou ai-t my Son, this day have I be- 
" gotten thee." As he was " put to death in the flesh, he %vas quickened by the 
" Spirit," by that Spirit of holiness, " by which also he went and preached unto 
" the spirits in prison." Nor is this les's evident from the account given of thf. 
effusion of the Spirit. This is undoubtedly a divine work; and it is described 
as belonging to each adorable Person. Jesus had foretold that the Comforter 
should come, that himself should send him, and tliat he should at the same 
time be sent by the Father. Accordingly, from tlie account given of this won- 
<ierful event by the apostle Peter, which is left on record for the instruction of 
the Church, we find that each diviue Person was engaged in accoropUshing' it •. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITV. 247 

f 

the eternal generation of the Son, and the procession of the 
Holy Ghost. And, 

• ' ' ' ' "' ' ' ' Tr 

" Jesus, having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, hath shed 
*• fortli this which ye now see and hear." 

It is undeniable, that one special end, which Christ had in view in his miracu- 
lous works, was to confirm his doctrine with respect to his equality with the 
Father. When he gave thanks at the tomb of Lazarus, before raising him from 
the dead, it was because of the people who stood Ijy, that they might believe, 
that the Father had sent him ; and sent him as a Messenger in\ested with divbie 
power, because essentially possessing divine perfection. For lie had previously 
said to his disciples: "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glorj of God, 
" that the Son of God might be glorified thereby ;" and taught Martha, that if 
she " would believe, she \\-ould see tlie gior\' of God," in seeing the manifesta* 
tion of that power which essentially belonged to himself, as " the Resurrection 
" and the Life." When he cured the man sick of the palsy, it was in order to 
prove that he had " power on earth to forgive sin ;" while he admitted the prin- 
ciple held by the scribes, that no one could forgive sins but God onl}'. On dif- 
ferent occasions he refers to his miraculous works, as irrefragable evidences of 
his having the same essence with the Father; and of the mutual inexistence, a.? 
some have expressed it, of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Fathef", 
in respect of this essential unity, while there is at the same time a real distinction 
of persons. When his enemies accused him of blasphemy, because he said, "f 
" am the Son of God," " making himself God ;" he replied, " If I do not the 
" works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, 
" believe the works ; that ye may know and believe that the Fatlier is in me, 
" and 1 in him." To Philip, when desiring to see the Father, he said, " Believe 
" me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me ; or else believe me for the 
" very work's sake." The Evangelist John, when refeiTing to the signs recorded 
in the prece(iing history, subjoins this declaration ; " These are writter, that ve 
" might believe that Jesus is the Son of God." That he appropriates iliis cha- 
racter to Jesus, as expressive of supreme deity, is evident from the uiiifiinn tenor 
of the gospel which bears his name. 

The doctrine of the Trinity is peculiarly elucidated by the history of redemp- 
tion ; as it does not merely exhibit all the adorable Persons as engaged in this 
work, but ascribes a peculiar operation to each Person. The contrivance of our 
redemption is ascribed to the Father ; the purchase of it to the Son ; and the ef- 
fectual application of this purchased redemption to the Holy Spirit. I'hc Father 
sends his Son as our Surety ; the Son cheerfully comes in this character ; ;.nd thff 
Holy Spirit is sent by both. The purpose of election is more IniniediateK 
ascribed to the Father; the objects of his love are all chosen in Christ; and the\", 
•w'ho were tlius chosen from eternity, are in time chosen out of the world, and se- 
parated for himself, by the renewing and sanctifying work of the Spirit. 

Nor is this all. The peculiar operation of each Person, in the work of our saU 
vation, is perfectly analagous to the order of subsistence in the Holy Trinity; and 
thus beautifully illustrates the mutual relations of the divine Persons. All the ex- 
ternal works of God, indeed, are common to each Person ; as the divine nature is 
the same indivisible ]n'in.ciple of operation. Yet these works are distinctly ascrib- 
ed to the three Persons, because each Person operates according- to the order of 
subsistence. In the old creation, the Father called all thing's into beintr- by liis 
co-essential Word, communicating life immediately by the vSpirit, as exercisint;- a 
generating power on the unformed mass. When God created man, the First Per- 
son formed him by the Second, as his essential Image, giving iiim life, both natu. 
ral and moral, by the Third, as " the Spirit of life." Yet this implies no inferior- 
ity, or mere instrumentality, in any of the adorable Persons ; but onl) the most 
perfect order and harmony. The c:use is the same in the new creation. It .seem.s 
most consistent with divine wisdom, that he who is first in the order of subsist- 
ence should rather send than be sent ; that the Son, who is "the im:;ge'": :he'^n- 
" visible God," should procure the restoration of that blessed image' lost by sin ; 
and that he, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, should be sent bv'both. 



348 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITV. 

i 

1 . To prove the personality of the Son. If this be reckoned 
needless, inasmuch as the Arians and Socinians never yet called 
it in question, we own that it is not necessary, when we dispute 
with them, to prove it : but inasmuch as the Sabellians deny it, 
as a late writer* has done, who plainly gives in to that scheme, 
and concludes the Son of God to be no other than the eternal 
reason of God; and so he renders that text, John i. 1. In the 
beginmng was the word, that is, reason, and by hitn, that is, by 
it, were all things made; and when it is objected, that this mode 
of speaking signifies nothing more than a quality in God, the 
only answer he g-iyes to it, is, that it signifies no more a quality, 
than if we should translate it. The word,^.s it is generally done : 
I say, if persons, whether they pretend to be Sabellians or no, 
express themselves in such a manner, it is certainly necessary 
for us to prove the personality of the Son. 

* See Le Clerc's Supplement to Dr. Hammojid on the JVeto Teslmneiit, preface 
to John i. 

to quicken those who are spiritually dead. This distinct operation indeed, as it 
coi-responds with the order of subsistence, beautifully harmonizes with the dis- 
tinguishing character belonging to each Person. He, who is essentially the Father, 
assumes the character of patei-nity, in a federal respect, towards those who are 
orphans and aliens. I'he only begotten Son of God is sent forth, made under the 
law, that they may " receive the adoption of sons," and appears as " the first-born 
** among many brethren." The adorable Spirit, " the breath of Jehovah," breathes 
on the slain, that they may live ; giving them a new heart and a right spirit. He, 
who ]5roceeds from the Father and the Son, unites the sinner to both. 

Is It "life eternal to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath 
" sent ?" Hath no one the Father, who "denieth the Son }" Caii no one honour 
the Father, " who honoureth not the Son?" Is it the Spirit alone who quickeneth, 
and who teacheth us to " know the things that are freely given us of God ?" Can 
no man " say that Jesus is tlie Lord, but by the Holy Ghost 1" Is it through 
Christ that " we have access by one Spirit mito the Father ?" Let us bless God 
for the revelation of the m^'stery of a Trinity in unity; and especially because he 
hath revealed it so cleaily in the history of our redemption, iji relation to that 
work in which a peculiar operation belongs to each adorable Person, in which the 
love of a tliree-one God is so wondtrfull}^ displayed, in which we discern so bles- 
sed a harmony, not 'only of divine perfections, but of divine Persons ! In all our 
worship, let us view God according to this revelation, ascribing glory to him 
" who is, and who was, anrl who is to come, and to the Seven Spirits which are 
" before his throne, and to Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first- 
'■' begotten from the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth." Let us ear- 
nestly desire cctmmunlon with this tJiree-one God ; with the Father, in his love as 
the spring of our salvation ; witli the Son, in all that grace which he hath pur- 
chased by his blood ; and with the Holy Ghost, in the whole extent of his effica- 
cious o]jeration. In order to this, let us press after imlon with Christ, that in him 
we may be united to the Father by that one Spirit who proceeds from both, and 
who is conferred by both as the Spirit of adoption. Let us cultivate love to the 
>>rethren, as members of the same mystical body, desiring to be "one heart and 
'•' one soul ;" that aithoug-h many, we may be one, and thus be assimilated, in our 
Ae:ik measure, to the blessed Trinitj^ in respect of unity ; as Jesus prays in behalf 
of his Church ; — " That they all may be one ; as thou. Father, art in me, and I in 
•' thee ; that they also may be one in us. — I in them, and thou in me, that the}' 
*' may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent 
me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.'* 

Jamiesok. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 24.9 

It appears, therefore, that the Son is a distinct Person from 
the Father, 

(1.) Inasmuch as we often read, in scripture, of two divine 
Persons speaking to, or of, one another, the distinguishing per- 
sonal characters, /, tlioii^ and /«.',. being applied to them : thus it 
is said, Psal. ex. 1. 'Tkc Lord^ that is the Father, said unto my 
Lord^ nanielv the Son, nht thou at my r'lght^hand^ till I make 
thine enemies thy footstool : this may be observed throughout 
die whole Psalm; thus, ver. 3. Thy people shall be xvilling .; 
and ver. 6. He^ meaning the Son, shall judge among the heathen; 
and ver. 7. He shall drink of the brook in the waij ; so Psal. xlv. 
2. speaking of the Son, Thou art fairer than the children of 
men; and ver. 6. Thy throne^ God^ is for ever and ever. The 
places of scripture, which have such modes of speaking con- 
cerning the Son, are almost inimmerable; and therefore we 
proceed to consider, 

(2.) Other personal characters given him ; thus, when he is 
called the Son of God, whatever we are to understand by that 
relation or character, of which more under a follovv'ing head, it 
certainly denotes him a Person distinct from the Father ; so 
does his being sent into the world by the Father, which expres- 
sion is frequently used in the New Testament ; now a quality, 
relation or property, cannot be said to be sent as the Son is. So 
when he is described as a Redeemer, a Mediator, a Surety, a 
Creator; and when he is styled, by the prophet, the eoerlasting 
Father ; and often described as a prophet, priest, or king; or 
Lord ofaU., or the Prince ofpeace^ or the Prince of the kings of 
the earth ; all these characters sufficiently prove his personalitv ; 
and all those works which he performs, as sustaining these re- 
lations or characters, are properly personal ; and some of them 
are never ascribed to any other person. Thus the Father, or 
Holy Ghost, are never said to assume the human nature, or to 
become sureties for the salvation of men, or to execute media- 
torial offices, subservient thereunto ; from all which it evidently 
appears, that the Son is a distinct Person : that he is a divine 
Person, will be proved under a following head : we shall there- 
fore proceed, 

2. To prox-e the distinct personality of the Holy Ghost. 
This is denied, not only by the Sabellians, but by some of the 
Socinians ; yea, even by Socinus himself; who describes the 
Holy Ghost as the power of God, intending hereby, as his mode 
of speaking seems to denote, the energy of the divine nature, 
or that whereby the Father, who is the only one, to whom, ac- 
cording to him, the divine nature is attributed, produces those 
effects which require infinite power; so that they call the Spirit 
the power of God essentially consid;;red ; these set aside all 
those proofs, that mav be produced from scripture, to evipce 

Vol.. r. I i 



250 tifJi DOCTRINE OF THE TRIMTV. 

Ins personality, which are so plain and evident, that many of 
them have dissented from Socinus herein, and owned the Spi- 
rit to be a person.. Accordingly some of them have described 
him as the chief of created spirits, or the head of the angels, 
because they deny his divine nature. Thus a bold writer ex- 
presses himself; " I believe that there is one principal minister 
■■' of God and Christ, peculiarly sent from heaven, to sanctify 
**• the church, who, by reason of his eminency and intimacy 
" with God, is singled out of the number of other heavenly mi- 
" nisters, or angels, and comprised in the holy Trinity, being 
*■' the third person thereof ; and that this minister of God and 
" Christ is the Holy Spirit. f" 

Now we shall prove the personalit}^ of the Holy Ghost, by 
considering some personal characters ascribed to, and works 
performed by him. Thus there are several such characters, by 
which he is denominated a person ; particularly when he is 
called a Sanctifier, a Reprover, a Witness, a Comforter, it evi- 
dently appears from hence that he is a person : thus when if is 
aaid, in John xvi. 8. that when he^ to wit, the Comforter iscome^ 
he rvill reprove the xvorld ofsm^ of righteousness and judgment ;; 
and also, that he will guide you into all truth ; he shall shexu you 
things to come, &c. And in John xiv. 16, 17. there is the dis- 
tinct personality of the three persons, and particularly of the 
Holy Ghost, asserted; I xvill pray the Father., and he shall give 
you another Comforter., even the Spirit of truth ; and also in ver. 
26. The Comforter., which is the Holy Ghost., whom the Father 
will send in mij name., he shall teach you all things.\ 

It is certain, that to be said to teach, or to instruct, is a per- 
sonal character : so it is to speak, or to dictate, to another vt^hat 
he should say ; but this he is said to do, as our Saviour says to 
his disciples, Whatever shall be giveti you in that hour, that 
speak ye ; for it is not you that speak, but the Holy Ghost, Mark 
xiii. II. . 

Moreover, to witness, or testify, is a personal character ; es- 
pecially when the testimony is not merely objective, as when 
Job calls his rvrinkles and his leanness a xvitness against him, 
Job xvi. 8. But when there is a formal testimony given, he 

1 

f See Bidille\i Coitfesaimt of Fuith, touching tfw holy Tnnity, ,irticle VI. 

i Some hare thought, tliot acs/voc beivg of the masculine gender, becaiise it refers 
Immediutely to Tnej/jLct., ivhich is of the neitter, implies, that the Spirit is taken person- 
ally, -vhich is the ri'.ason ^f this graimnuiical constnictiou ,- but if it be said that the 
reuKon ichy it is mascidine is, becuvse it agrees with rrnpuKKiflo;, it, noticithstanding^ 
pmves the PersonaUty of the Holy (Jhost, since a Comforter is a per so?: id character: 
The sa:mr tiring is observed in t/ie grammatical construction of that scripture, Kph.i 
13, 14. speaking concer^itirig the Holy Spirit of promise, to 7rvfj/uct th^ iTrotyyikiu; ; it if 
Raid, oc ««v ctftfi^mv, winch denotes the personal chui-acter of the Spirit, oihei-tdse it 
'wonld have been o mv eif.pa(Cav, unless yon snj'pose o; agrees -idth ttffKLQea, ivhich seettit 
fo be a more strained sense of the grammatical constiitdion than the other, tvhiek 
jl-'T^v^s hie personality. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. JJ^i 

4 hat gives it is, according to our common way of speaking, ge- 
nerally considered as a person ; and thus the Holy Ghost is de* 
scribed. Acts v. 32. We arc his witnesses of these things^ and so 
is the Holy Ghost^ whom G§d has given to them that obey himp 
Here the Holy Ghost's being a witness is as much a personal 
character, as their being witnesses ; and. Acts xx. 23. it is said. 
The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, that bonds atid a^ic- 
tions abide 7ne, 

Again, dwelling is a personal character ; no one ever suppo- 
ses that any thing that is in a house dwells there, excepting 
persons ; but the Holy Ghost is said to dwell in believers, John 
xiv. 17. and alluding hereto, as also connoting his divine per- 
sonality, it is said, 1 Cor. vi. 19. T'onr body is the temple of the 
Holy Ghost ; as a house is the dwelling-place of a person, so a 
temple is the dwelling-place of a divine person. 

Again, to send any one is a personal character ; but this i:J 
attributed to the Holy Ghost, Acts xiii. 4. The apostles being 
sent forth by the Holy Ghost^ departed. 

Again, acting with a sovereign ^^ill and pleasure is what 
belongs only to a person ; but this is applied to the Holy Ghost, 
Acts XV. 28. It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to i/s. 

Again, prohibiting, or forbidding, a person to act, is a person^ 
al character ; but this is applied to the Holy Ghost, Acts xvi. 
6. The apostles xvere forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the 
word in Asia, 

Again, to constitute, or appoint, any one to execute an office 
is a personal character ; but v;his the Holy Ghost is said to do. 
Acts XX. 28. he is said to have made them overseers. There are 
several other personal works and characters, which might have 
been mentioned ; but these are, 1 humbly conceive, sufficient to 
prove the thing intended, that the Holy Ghost is a person. 1 
jjave no more than mentioned the scriptures, which contain 
these personal characters, because I shall have occasion under 
a following head, to refer to some of them for the proof of hi? 
At\ty.(ci) 



(a) " THAT the Holy Scriptures make mention of Tlirce by way of great emi' 
nence and distinctmi may appear from inany jja^sages, out of which I shall only 
produce some. At the Prediction qf the blessed Vii-jjui's conception, which was 
to be without the concui-rence of a man, th.e divine niessa^je is delivered in these 
words : The Holy Ghost shall come upon lliee, and the poiver of the Highest shall 
wershadotu thee; Tfiei-efore, aiso that Ilohj Thing, that shall Ik born of t/iee, shall he 
vailed the Son of God. Here are plainh^ distiny^uished from each other, the Hoi^ 
Ghost, or Power overshadowing ; the Highest, whose Power that Spirit is ; and 
the Holy Thing, or Person, vvlio is called the Son of God, beciaisc born of a mother, 
impregnated by that Divine Power. At our Blessed Lord's IJaptism, the Spirit 
nf God, we read, detcended litre u dove and resteti npmi him, and a voice fr^m Hea- 
ren declared him to be t/ie Son of God : Nothing c^n be plainer than three Per- 
sonalities in this transaction ; the Father speukimg from Heasen, the So7i coming 
*)ut of Jordan, ;md the Spirit dti'-cf jidihg ftom above. ' ]n th? Proniisc,. vv-hirJi on'; 



252 THE DOCTRINE 01; THE TRINITY. 

Objett, It will be objected, by those who are favourers of the 
Sabeliian scheme, that the characters which we have laid down, 

»'■ ' ' - ■ ■ ■ ' — 

blessed Suviour makes his disciples, to comfort their heaits against \vh;it ',vas 
coming' upon them, / toill pray the Father, and he shall give you avother comfortery 
that he may abide tiith y 011 for ever, even the Spirit of Truth; and when the com' 
forter is come, tvliom I will send unto you from t/ie Father, eveti the Spirit of Truth, 
■which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me, there are manifestly Acts, 
and Persons, and capacities, different. The i^'fiiV.rr, from whom tlie Spnit /)r&- 
ceeds, whom the Son prays, v.rA by whom, at the Son's Request, tiie Comforter 
7uas given : The Son, praying the Futlier, sending the Comforter from the Father, 
and testified of by the Spirit so sent : And the Spirit, given by the Father, sent by 
the Son, testifying of the Son, and, upon the Son's Departui-e, abiding for ever 
with iht- Dr)Ciples. 

The great Apostle of the Gentiles, to enforce the Doctrine of the resurrection, 
tells the Romans, that if the Spirit of him, who raised Jesns from the dead, dwelt in 
fhem, he that raised Christ from the dead would also qidcken their mortal bodies by 
his S pint, that dwelled in them ; wiiere he evidently refers io Jesus, the Son rti" 
God, laised from tiie Dead; to the iS/;«v« of God, by which he w;is raised; and 
to him thit i-aised Jesrts, and at the last great day shall raise all others, ui whom 
his Spirit dwells. Tiie pr^me apostle, to satisfy the Corinthians of tlie benefits of 
their conversion, after havuig enumer.ited several ranks of sinners, and such were 
smne ofyozi, says he, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye arc justifed, in 
the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God, i. e. Crod the Father. 
It cannot be denied that Sanctif cation and Justification arc the gifts of God iilonc; 
for none can absolve us from the Guilt and polluticm of sin, butiie only: Kut then 
the Apostle tells the Corinthians, that this benefit they received not only from 
God the Fatlier, but from the I^ord Jesus likewise, and from the Holy Spirit : 
Analogous to which is that other Pass;ige in the same epistle ; There are diversi- 
ties qf gifts, but the same Sjiirit, (there is tiie third Person in the Trinity) there 
are differences of Administration, but the same J^ord, (ihere is the s^to^k/ Person) 
and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God, (or first person in 
the Trinity) that worketh all in all. Once laore, the same Apostle, in his prayei* 
for the Thessaloniuns, directs his devotion to the ever l)lessed Trinity : J\'oxv God 
himself, even our Father, and our Lord Jes^iis Christ, direct our way unto yoxi, and 
the Lord, (i. e. the Holy Ghost) make you to increase and abound i7i love one towards 
ansther : For that by the Jyord we are here to understand tlie Holy Ghost, I 
think is very plain from the next verse ; " to the end, that he may establish your 
hearts imblameublein holiness before God, even our Fatlier, at the coming of our Jjord 
Jesus Christ with all his saints ; since he is , the Sanctifer, and to establish our 
hearts m holiness is his proper work and office : And if so, then is there a plaiix 
enumeration nf the three Persims of the Trinity m this passage. 

The great Apostle of the Jexvs begins his first Epistle general to his dispersed 
Brethren \v,ih a declaration of the same ai-ticle, -tihcnhe c:dls them elect accord- 
ing to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through Sanctiftcation of the Spirit, 
unto obedience, and sprinkling of t/ie blood of Jesus ; for there we may observe, 
that the three Persons are notonl) expressly named, but *hoii' distinct e)n/;.'s?/wjfn<», 
with reference to man's salvation, are particularly specif nd, while the Father is 
said to elect, the Spirit to sanctify, and the holy Jesus to shed his blood. The be- 
loved \;) ostle St. John, in his Salutation to the Cliurches, Grace, and Peace from 
him, which is, andwhich was, and which is to come, and from the seven spirits which 
are before his Throne, and from Jesus Christ has gi\'en us a distinct enumeration 
of the ilirec Persons in the Deity, if we will but admit, (as most interpreters have 
done) that i^j- tlie Seven Spirits, which was a Kacred number among the Jews, 
that one Person (viz. the lioh' Ghost) is to be understood, from whom all tliat 
Variety of gifts and operations, winch were then conspicuous in the Christian 
Church, did jjrocecd. Rnt however this be, 'tis certain, that the passage m his 
Epistle of the Three which bear record i7i Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the 
ffohf Ghost, are as full and plain a Testimony and declaration of this .Mystery, u5 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 233 

lo prove the personality of the Soj, and Holy Ghost, are not 
sufficient to answer that end ; inasmuch as they are oftentimes 

r ■ ■■ ( ■ ■ . I ■ — 

c;tn be cited in words; and thoiit^li some have endeavoured to inviiiKlute the an- 
tliorlty of this passage, as not extant in some ancient copies, and seldom appealcil 
to by the first dcfen«.lers of the catholick faith ag'ainstthe ^IriansiOid Jlfacedoiduns, 
) et the contrary to tins is most evident. TtrtuUian, St. Cypiian, and Ftdgentiuit 
quote it in their writings : Athunamis made use of it in tine coiuicilof JV'Vre against 
^Iriui- ; and the reason wliy it was left out in some ancient copies Socrates ac- 
quaints us with ui his Ecclesiastical history, when he tells us, " That the Chiis- 
" tian Church had all along complained, that the Epistle of St. John had been cor- 
*• ru]>ted by the first adversai'ies of the doctrine of Christ's divmity." 'Twas b\' 
their artifice therefore that it was omitted; for several learned pens, both of our 
own and other churches, have made it very manifest, that it was* oi'iginally in tlie 
text, and that the most and ancientest copies always had it. 

liut we need not be so tenacious of one text, when, besides these already men- 
tioned, and many more that might be produced upon a farther enquiry, tiie very 
form of our admission into the Christian covenani is intlie vamenfthe Fat/ier, and 
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ; the form of our prayers is thus directed, that 
through the Son ive have an access by one Spirit to tJic Father ; and the fonn of our 
dismission from them is, every day, wAli this beiwdiction, 1 'he grace of the Lord 
Jestis, and tfie love of God, and the felk~.vnhip of the Holy G/wsl, he ivith us aU ever- 
more; as if the Wisdom of God had intended to inculcate tliis notion of the Trini- 
ty, and, in every act of our religious vvoi'.ship, to remind us of the manner of his 
subsistence. 

Thus it appears that there are Three, very often occurring in scripture, under 
the different appellations of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost : and that these three 
are not owe and tlie same Being, under different respects and considerations, but 
three real and distinct perso/is, with a peculiar manner of subsisting, is plain from 
the very names o'i Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, if we understand them in a proper 
and natiu'al sense ; because these are opposite relation.^, which can never meet in 
tlie same subject : for a Father cannot be Father to himseH", but to his Son ,- nor 
can a Son be Son to himself, but to his Father,- nor can the Holy Ghost proceed 
from himself, or (in this sense) be his own Spiri; but the Sph-it of the Father, 
and Son, from whom he proceeds : and therefore the Fatht r is not the Son, nor 
the Holy Spirit ; nor the Son the Father, or Holy Spirit ; nor the Holy Sf)lrit eitlier 
Fatiu;r or Son. The only question is, vvhether these names, when spoken of the 
I'rinity liave a proper and natural, or only an allusive and metaphorical signification. 

The divine nature and perfections indeed, (as they are v.a- exalted abo\-e our 
conception) may be brouglit down by metaphors, taken from some things, that 
are analagotis in creatiues ; in which sense we may allow Father and Son to be 
^netdphorical names, when applied to God : not that G(jd the Father is not, in tlie 
highest and most perfect sense, a Father, and his Son a most proper, natural, and 
genuine Son ; but because the divine generation is so peri'ect a communication of 
the di\ine nature and being from Father to Son, that human generations are but 
obscure and imperfect images and resemblances of it. The truth is, when anj 
thing is spoken metapliorically of God, the metaphor and image are always in the 
creatures ; the truth, perfection, and reality of all, in God: and if so, then if God 
be a Father, and have a Son, an only-begotten Son, begotten eternally of himself; 
though this eternal generation be infinitely above what we can imagine or con- 
ceive, yet it is evident, that God the Father is more properly and perfectly a P'a- 
thcr, and God the Son more properly and perfect!} a Son, i han any eirthh- fathers 
or sons ever were. And jf God the f'athei and his Son be truly and perfectly Fa- 

• To confirm this we may add, that, if the difference of copies happened by the ntf^Hgence of 
ttansciibers, such a mistake is muc)i more easily itwide l>y omlllins i cI.il'sc. than l)y inaerlinz 
cuf, especi.illy when the same words occur twice very near together, whith is the present case : 
and that, w iihout this cl.iuae, the next verse is maimed, and haictly good sense, the words, hi 
earth, standing disjointed by themselves ; whereas the words, in JieiiViti. (.is we now re id them) 
make a clcir, strong, and elegant antithesis : and for these reasons, those copies, in which this 
passage ik found, are more likely to be ti-ue, than those in which it is wanting.— Trjji'p'j Dcc- 
trine of the Trinity. 



S54 THE DOCTRINE OF TttE TRINITY. 

applied, in a metapliorical way, to those things which n6 orte 
supposes to be persons, and therefore that they may be taken 

ther and Son, they must be truly and perfectly distinct beings ; for the Fathei' can- 
not be the Son whom he begets ; nor the Son the Father that begat him ; nor the 
Holy Ghost either the Father or the Son, from whom he proceeds: consequently, 
they must be distinctj and real, and proper jOersons ,• for he that begets, and he that 
is begotten, :uid he that proceeds from both, cannot be one and the san:e person. 

And as this difference o^ relations m3k.ts a manifest distinction between the three 
persons ; so the different offices and employments, that are ascribed to them in 
scripture, is a farther note of discrimination. For who sees not, that the work of 
creation of all thing's at first, and ever since the just, and wise, and merciful dis- 
posal of them, are attributed to the Father ,- that the great undertaking of our 
redemption is the care and employment of tlie Soil ; and the business of enlighten- 
ing and sanctifying those, whom the Son redeemeth, the particular provmce of 
the Holy Ghost ? Without supposing them to be three distinct persons, I say, no 
satisfactor}' solution can be given, why, in the great work of man's salvation, a 
distinct office and operation should be proper to each of them ; why the Father 
only should be said to elect ; the Son only to have shed and sprinkUd his blood; 
and the Holy Ghost only to sanctify us unto obedience. So fai- then as a diversity 
of names, offices, and operations, distinguishes one being from another, there is 
plainly a distinction of persons subsisting in the Godhead. But this is not all. 

Those, who pretend to state * the ti'ue notion of a person as a term made use of 
5n this argument, tell us, that it is a being, -vhich has understanding, and is a dis- 
tinct, entire substance of itself; an individual s^ibstance of a rational nature, or d 
Complete intelligent substance, with a peculiar manner of subsistence : so that there 
is a common nature, which must be joined by a peculiar manner of subsisting, to 
make a person, otherwise it would be a mere mode ; for we never conceive a per- 
son ivithoitt the essence in cenjunction ivith it. And this notion may haply be of 
use, not only to state the true distinction of the Persons in the Godhead, but to 
account likewise for some dubious passages in the fathers, and reconcile the dif- 
ferent parties that contend about them : only we must take care (as I said before) 
that, when we discourse of the s.icred Trinity, the word person be not conceived 
in the same sense as among men. Tht persons of men are distinct men, as well as 
distinct persons ; but this is no ground for us to affirm, that the persons in the di» 
vine nature are distinct Gods. The distinction of the persons of men is foimded in 
a separate and divided subsistence ; but this caiinot be the foundation of the dis' 
tinction of tlie divine persons, because separation and division cannot belong to an 
injiyiite Being. In a word, three human persons are three m&n, because, though 
they have the same specific nature, yet they have not the same mimcncal nature : 
but the three Persons in the Godhead ai-e not three Godi, because they liave the 
t,iime numerical essence, which belongs in common to them all: and since it is 
confessed on all liand.'-;, that nature and subsistence go to the making Tip of a per- 
son, M'hy may not tJK; way of their subsistence be as different as the human and 
Diviiie natures (one finite, and the other infinite) are confessed to be ? Thong-h 
therefore in things created it is necessarj' for one single essence to subsist in one 
single person, and no more ; yet tliis does not at all prove that the same must be 
necessary in him, whose nature is wholly different from theirs, and, consequently, 
may diflflsr as much in the manner of his subsistence. For 'tis a thing agi-eeable 
even to the notions of bare reason to imagine, that the divi/ie nature has a way of 
•sul>sisting Veiy different from the subsistence of any created being, and conse- 
quently, may have one and the same nature diffused into three distinct persons : . 
but how, and in what manner this is effected ; how one substance in the Deity is 

• A late learned author has ^ven us this definition of a ningle person. " That it is an intflli- 
pptit agent, havins; the distinctive characters of /, thvu. ;ind }ie, and not divided or distinguished 
iiito more intelligent agents, c:i(>;ible of the tame characte''s." llfalerland's ■■econd Defence,] 
:ind thereu))on he thus arguct in another place. " Our ideas of p rson are plainly taken from our 
conceptions of human persons, and from them transferred to other snhjectt, though they do not 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 253 

in this sense, when applied to the Son and Spirit. To support 
this objection, they produce several instances out of the book 
of Job, and some other parts of scripture, where things are de- 
scribed with personal characters, which are not really persons. 
Thus Job xxxix. 11, 12. speaking concerning the unicorn, it is 
said ; JVilt thou trust him ? Wilt thou leave thy labour to hhn ? 
Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring- home thy seed, and ga- 
ther it i7ito thy barn ? So concerning the horse, it is said, as 
though he acted with design, as an intelligent creature, ver. 21. 
csr'c. He goeth on to lyieet the armed men ; he tnocieth at fear ; 
neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet; he saith 
among the trumpets, Ha, ha ! And concerning the eagle, ver. 
28. She dwelleth in the rock. And concerning the leviathan, 
chap. xli. 3. £?'<?. Will he make many supplications to thee ? Will 
he speak soft words unto thee ? Will he make a covenant with 

communicated to more, and becomes theirs ; how of one and the same essenci^, 
there can be three persons numencally different ; this is the cUfficnlty, and what 
made the holy father (writing upon the argument) confess, " That the mysterij. 
" of the Trinity is immense and incompreliensible, beyond the expression of words, 
" or reach of sense; that it blinds our sight, and exceeds the capacity of ovu- un- 
" derstanding: I understand it not, says bej nevertheless I will comfort m) self in 
" this, that angels ai-e ignorant of it, nor do ages apprehend it ; that neither the 
" apostles enquired after it, nor the Son himself has thought fit to declare it." 

The only ViUid objection (and to which all others are reducible) against these 
personalities, so often occurring in scripture, is taken from the simplicity of the di- 
vine nature, which, in the opinion of some, will not admit of any distinction. But 
though the simplicity of God excludes all mixture, i. e. all composition of tilings 
heterogeneous in the Godhead, (there being nothing in God but what is God) yet, 
notwithstanding this, there may be a distinction of %j&os<ase« in the Godhead, pi'o- 
vided they are homogeneous, and of the same nature. Nay, the siir.plicity of the 
divine nature, if rightly considered, is so far from excluding, that it necessarily 
infers a distinction of /wposiases in the Godhead : for, since the simplicity of the 
Godhead consists chieffy in this, that God is a pure eternal Mind, free from the 
mixture of all kind of matter whatever; an eternal Mind must needs have in it, 
from all eternity, a notion or conception of itself, which the schools call verbum men- 
tin ; nor can it, at any time, be conceived without it. Now this -word cannot be 
in God, what it is in us, a transient vanishing accident ; for then the divine nature 
would be compounded of sM&s?rt?iC(? and acdrfe/j?, which would be repugnant to its 
simplicity; and therefore mustbe a substantial subsisting luord, and though not divi- 
ded, } et distinct from the eternal Mind, from whence it proceeds. This is no 
nox)el subtlety of the schools, but a notion, that* runs through all the Fathers of 
the first ages, and is not destitute of a sufficient foundation in scripture. It proves 
indeed only two Persons in tlie Godhead, not a Trinity ; but then it proves, that a 
distinction of persons in tlie Godhead is very consistent with its s-implicity ; nav, 
that from the true nature of the simplicity of the Godhead, such a distinction ne- 
cessarily follows ; and if tliere is a distinction oi t-wo, tliere may be oi three ; and 
that there is of three, the full evidence of scripture (as I have already shewn) 
abundantly assures us." Stackuouse. 

• It has, with good reason, been Guppoicd by the Catholick writers, that the design of the ■wont 
A4>@' was to intim ite, that the relation of Father and Son bears some resemblance and analo- 
fev to that of thought, vit. that as thought is co-eval with the mind, so the Son is co-eval with 
tne Father ; and that as thought is closely united to, proceeds from, and yet remains in the mind, 
so also mav we understand that the Son is in the bosoin of the Father, p'roceeding from him, and 
>«JC never divided or separatf , but remaining in liim and with \vm,—IVaterland's Sermons at Lir 
lii Moyfr's Lictui'ti. 



256 THE DOCTUIXE OF THE TRINITY. 

thee? He estecmeth iron as straxv^ and brass as rotten xvood^ 
Darts are counted as stubble ; he laiigheth at the shaking' of the 
spear. And ver. 34. He beholdeth all high things ; he is a king 
over all the children of pride. There are many other personal 
characters given to brute creatures, which are taken in a meta- 
phorical sense ; and sometimes they are applied to inanimate 
creatures. Thus Job xxxviii. 28, &c. Hath the rain a father ? 
and rvho hath begotten the drops of dexv f Out of whose xvomb 
came the ice f and the hoary frost of heaven^ zvho hath gendered 
it P Canst thou bind the szveet infiiences of Pleiades^ or loose the 
hands of Orion P Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his sea- 
son^ or canst thoii guide Arcturus xvith his sons ? By which 
nothing is intended but the signs in the Zodiack, or some of the 
constellations, together with the particular stars of which they 
consist ; yet tiiese are described, as though they were persons. 
So ver. iiS. Canst thou send lightnings^ that they may go, and 
say unto thee, here xve are ? Again, the powers and faculties of 
the soul of man have sometimes personal characters ascribed to 
them. Thus, conscience is said to bear xoitness^ Rom. ix. 1. 
And some instances may be brought from scripture of a per- 
son's speaking to himself j jet this doth not connote two per- 
sons in man, one speaking, and the other spoken to. It is there- 
fore inferred from hence, that we cannot prove the personality 
of the Son and Holy Ghost from those personal characters 
ascribed to them, which may be taken in a metaphorical sense, 
as well as in the instances but now mentioned. 

Ansxv. In answer to this objection, several things may be 
considered. 

1. Though the scripture often uses figurative, and particu- 
larly metaphorical, ways of speaking, yet these may be easily 
distinguished from the like phrases used elsewhere, concerning 
which we have sufficient ground to conclude that they are to be 
taken in a proper sense ; therefore, though it is true that there 
are personal characters given to things which are not persons, 
yet we are not to conclude from hence, that whenever the same 
modes of speaking are used, and applied to those who are capa- 
ble of performing personal actions, that therefore these must be 
taken in a metaphorical sense ; which is a known exception 
from the common idea contained in the same words. 

2. Most of those passages of scripture, where personal cha- 
racters are attributed to things which ar- not persons, in a me- 
taphorical sense, are in the poetical books thereof ; or in soihe 
particular places, where there is a peculiar beautiful mode of 
speaking t-tken from thence; will it therefore follow, that these 
personal characters are used in other parts of scripture, in which 
the Holy Ghost does not think fit to express himself in such an 
elegancy of style ? Now it is certain, that the personal charac- 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 257 

ters before mentioned are given to tht Son and Holy Ghost, 
throughout the whole scripture, without designing to use a 
lofty, figurative, or uncommon way oi speaicing, as in the in- 
stances belore mentioned. 

3. We must not suppose that the Holy Ghost uses any figu- 
rative ways of speaking, so as to cast a veil on plain truths, or 
to endanger our being led hereby out of (he way, as we should 
certainiv be, if so man}- hundred places of scripture, in which 
these personal ciiaracters are applied to the Son and Spirit, 
were to be taken in a metaphorical sense, without any intima- 
tion given in the context that they are so to be understood. And 
it will be certainly very difficult to find out any place in scrip- 
ture, that may serve to direct us in our application ol these cha- 
racters, viz, when they are to be taken in a metaphorical sense, 
when applied to the Persons in the Godhead, and when not. 

4. Though we find many metaphors in scripture, yet we ob- 
serve that the most important truths are laid down in the plain- 
est manner ; so that the injudicious and unlearned reader, who 
understands nothing of the art of rhetoric, or criticism, may 
be instructed thereby ; at least they are not universalh^ wrapt 
lip in such figurative ways of speaking; and it would be strange,' 
if the account we have of the Personality of the Son and Holy 
Ghost, which is a doctrine of the highest importance, and such 
as renders them distinct objects of worship, should be express- 
ed in such a way, as that we should be at the greattst uncer- 
tainty whether they are persons or not. 

5. If these personal characters are not metaphorical, when 
applied to men or angels, who are subjects capable of having 
personality attributed to them, why should they be reckoned 
metaphorical, when applied to the Son and Spirit, who, though 
they are not distinct beings, yet they have a divine understand- 
ing and will, and therefore are not rendered incapable of having 
personality ascribed to them, as signified by these characters. 

6. The asserting that personal characters attributed to the 
Son and Spirit are always to be understood in a metaphorical 
sense, would give equal ground to conclude that they are to be 
so taken, when applied to the Father ; and accordingly, while 
we militate against the Personality of these, we should, at the 
same time, overthrow his Personality : and while we deny that 
there are three Persons in the Godhead, we should, in effect, 
suppose that there are no Persons in the Godiiead, any other- 
wise than as the Godhead, which is common to the Father, Son, 
and Spirit, is often described as though it were a Person ; and 
if ever PersoiiaHhj is used or applied in a metaphorical sense, 
it must be when the Godhead is described as though it were a 
Person. 

7. Though some personal characters are occ^-^uonally applied. 
Vol. I. K k 



^58 THE DOCTlilNi: OF THE TRINITY. 

in a metaphorical sense, to things that are not persons, yet it is' 
not usual for them to be described as performing personal 
works, and these not occasionally hinted at, and joined with 
other metaphorical ways of speaking, but a long series of ac- 
tion referred to, and variety of works performed, which must 
certainly be taken in amost proper sense, 1'hus, when the Son 
and Spirit are set forth in scripture as performing those works, 
which are expressive of their personal glory ', the one in what 
respects the purchase of redemption ; and the other in the ap- 
plication thereof: and when each of them is described as stand- 
ing in those relations to men, which are founded in the per- 
formance of these works for them ; certainly this must be taken 
in a most proper sense ; and we must take heed, lest, while we 
attempt to prove that the Persons in the Godhead are to be ta- 
ken in a figurative sense, v/e do not give occasion to any to think 
that the great benefits, which we receive from them, are to be 
understood in the same sense. 

We shall now take notice of some other personal properties, 
whereby the Son and Spirit are distinguished from, one another, 
and from the Father ; particularly, as they are expressed in one 
of the answers under our present consideration : it is proper to 
the Father to beget the Son, or, as it is sometimes expressed,- 
to be unbegqtten ; and to the Son, to be begott^en of the Father ; 
and to the Holy Ghost, to proceed from the Father and the 
Son, from all eteifnity. This is certainly one of the most diffi- 
cult heads of divinity that can be insisted on ; and some have 
made it more so, b}' their attempting to explain it. I have- some- 
times thought that it would be the safest and most eligible 
^vay, to pass it over, as a doctrine less necessary to be under- 
stood ; but since there are several scripture-expressions, on 
which it is founded, which we ought to pay the greatest defer- 
ence to, much more than to those explications which are merely 
human ; and inasmuch as these properties plainly prove the 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be distinct Persons, therefore 
we must humbly enquire into the meaning of those scriptures', 
wherein they are contained ; and so to speak something as to 
what is generally called the eternal generation of the Son, and 
the procession of the Holy Ghost ; and I hope, through divine 
assistance, we shall advance no doctrine that is either subversive 
of our faith in the doctrine of the Trinit}^, which we are en- 
deavouring to maintain, derogatory to the essential or personal 
glory of the Father, Son, and Spirit, or altogether contrary to 
the sense, in which many Christians, v/ho are unacquainted 
with those modes of speaking, used by the fathers and school- 
men, understand those scriptures upon which this doctrine is 
founded. 

And here we shall give a brief account of what we appre-^ 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 259 

rend to be the commonly received sentiments of divines, who, 
m their writings, have strenuously maintained, and judiciously 
defended, the doctrine of the Trinity, concerning the eternal 
generation of the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost ; 
which I shall endeavour to do with the greatest deference to 
those who have treated of these subjects, as well as with the 
greatest impartiality ; and shall take occasion to shew how far 
the Arians conclude that we give up the cause to them, and yet 
how little reason they have to insult us upon this head. 

(1.) As to the eternal generation of the Son, it is generally 
explained in this manner ; the Father is called, by some, the 
fountain of the Godhead, an expression taken from some of the 
fathers, who defended the Nicene faith : but others of late, 
have rather chose to call the Father the fountain of the Trini- 
ty ; and he is said to be of himself; or unbegotten ; which they 
lay down as his distinct Personal character, from that of the 
Son. 

On the other hand, the Son, as to his Personality, is gene- 
rally described as being from the Father, and many chuse to 
express themselves about this mvstery in rfiese terms ; that the 
Father communicated the divine essence to the Son, which is 
the most common mode of speaking, though others think it 
safer to say, that he communicated the divine Personality to 
him ; though I cannot tell which is least exceptionable. 

But when I find others calling it the Father's giving the di- 
vine essence to the Son, their mode of speaking being founded, 
as they apprehend, on that scripture, John v. 26. As the Father 
hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in 
himself, I cannot but think it an unguarded expression, and fo- 
reign to the design of the Holy Ghost in that scripture, as will 
be hereafter considered. The Arians are ready to insult us upon 
such modes of speaking, and suppose that we conclude that the 
Son receives his divine perfections, and therefore cannot be 
God equal with the Father : but, however, none of them, >vho 
use this expression, suppose that the Son's Deity is founded on 
the arbitrary will of the Father ; for they ail assert that the di- 
vine nature is communicated necessarily, and from all eternity, 
as the sun communicates its rays necessarily, which are of equal 
duration with it ; so that while they make use of a word, which, 
according to its most known acceptation, seems subversive of 
.the truth, they happily, for truth's sake, explain away the pro- 
per sense thereof; so that all they can be blamed for herein, by 
the adversary, is impropriety of expression. 

Again, others speak a little more exceptionablv, when, ex- 
plaining the eternal generation of the Son, they say tliut the 
Father produced him : but this idea they also happily explain 
^way : and therefore say it is not sqch a production, where thf. 



260 tllK DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

cause produces the cff:;ct, ihough some of thq fathers, who have 
been in the Trinitarian scheme, have unwarily called the Father 
the cause of the Sori ; yet our modern divines seldom, or never, 
use that expression, or if they speak of an eternal production, 
they suppose it vastly difters from the production of al crea- 
tures, or from that sense in which the Arians suppose the Son 
to be produced by him ; but certainly this exj^ression had bet- 
ter be laid aside, lest it should be thought that we conclude the 
Son not equally necessary, and, from all eternity, co-existent 
with the Father, which our divines, how unwarily soever in 
other respects they may express themselves, are very far from 
denying. 

(2.) We shall now proceed to consider how some divines 
express themselves, concerning the procession of the Holy 
Ghost, which they generally do in this manner, as though the 
divine essence were communicated by the Father and the Son 
to the Holy Ghost ; and so they suppose that the Holy Ghost, 
at least as he is a divine Person, or has the divine nature com- 
municated to him, cannot be said to be, any more than the Son, 
of himself, but from the Father and the Son, from whom he 
proceeds, or receives, as some express it, the divine nature, and 
others the divine personality. 

Others speak of the Spiration of the Holy Ghost, which they 
suppose to be the same with his procession ; but the world is 
much at a loss to understand what they mean by the word Spi- 
ration : it seems to be a mere metaphorical expression, as when 
they call him the breath of the Father and the Son, and, if so, 
then it will not prove his proper personality : but since v/e are 
pretty much in the dark about the reason of this mode of speak- 
ing, it would be much better to lay it aside, as many modern 
writers have done. 

As to the manner of the procession of the Holy Ghost, there 
was, about the eighth and ninth centuries, a veiy warm dispute 
between the Greek and Latin church ; whether the Spirit pro- 
ce/^ded from the Father only, or from the Father and the Son ; 
and the controversy arose to such a height, that they charged 
one another with heresy and schism, when neither side well un- 
derstood what they contended about ; and if they had agreed 
to the healing expedient, afterwards proposed, that they should 
mutually acknowledge that the Holy Ghost was from the Father 
by the Son, the matter would have been left as much in the dark 
as it was before. 

Some speak of the procession of the Holy Ghost, as though 
he was produced by the Father and the Son, as the Son, as was 
before observed, is said, in his eternal generation, to have been 
produced by the Father ; yet they suppose that neither ol them 
were so produced, as that they may be called effects ; and tliey 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 251 

term it the production of a person in, and not out of, the divine 
essence, for that would be to give away the cause we contend 
for : but which way soever we take it, it contains such an im- 
propriety of expression, as can hardly be defended ; and it is 
much better to explain away the proper and gTammatical sense 
of words, than to corrupt the truth ; however, I would not copy- 
after them in this mode of speaking. 

I\Ioreover, some have pretended to determine the difference 
between the eternal generation of the Son and the Spirit's pro- 
cession ; to which they have, with modesty, premised, that it is 
not to be explained ; but, as far as they enter into this matter, 
they suppose that they differ in this ; that in the eternal gene- 
ration of the Son, the Father communicated the divine essence, 
ou, at least, personality to him, which is his act alone, and here- 
with he communicated a property, or power, to him, to com- 
municate the same divine essence to the Holy Ghost ; whereas, 
when the Holy Ghost is said to proceed Irom the Father and 
the Son, there is no power therewith conveyed to him to com- 
municate the divine essence to any other, as a fourth person in, 
the Godhead. These things may be observed in the writings 
of those who treat of this subject ; but it is to be feared, they 
enter too far into the explication of this unsearchable mystery ; 
and some will be ready to conclude that they attempt to be 
wise above what is written. And, 

If I may be allowed to give my sense of the commvmication 
of the divine essence, though it will probably be thought that I 
do not say enough concerning it, yet I hope that, in othef re- 
spects, none will conclude that I advance any thing subversive 
of the doctrine of the Trinity, when I assert that the divine es- 
sence is communicated, not by the Father to the Son and Holy 
Ghost, as imparting or conveying it to them ; but take the word 
commimicate in another sense, namely, that all the perfections 
of the divine nature are communicated, that is, equally attri- 
buted' to, or predicated of, the Father, Son, and Spirit; this 
sense of the word is what some intend when they say the hu- 
man nature is communicated to every individual, upon which 
account they are denominated men ; and, as the word is used 
in this sense, sometimes, by logicians and schoolmen, so it seems 
to be- taken in the same sense, in Heb. ii. 14. where the Greek 
words, T* TTxiSuL Mx.mmmi a-^fno? mi cufxctlo?, which wc render, the chil- 
dren were partakers of flesh and blood, might be rendered, as 
in the \ ulgar Latin version, Comnmn'icaverunt carni ^ sangumK 
i. e. they have the human nature commimicated to, and predi- 
cated of, them, or they are truly and property men. And it is 
in this sense that we use the word, when we say that the dif- 
ferent properties of the divine and hiunan nature are commu- 
tiirated to, that is, predicated of, the Person of Christ, which di-j^ 



262 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITV. 

vines generally call a communication of properties. In thre 
sense I would be understood, when I say that the divine per- 
fections are communicated to, or predicated of, the Father, Son. 
and Spirit ; and this all who maintain the doctrine of the Trini- 
ty will allow of. The other sense of communication, viz. im- 
, parting, conveying, or giving the divine essence, I shall be veiy 
ready to fall in with, when the apparent difficulties, which, to 
me, seem to lie in the way thereof, some of which have been 
already considered, are removed. 

As to what concerns the farther explication of this mystery, 
we may observe, that the more nice some have been in their 
speculations about it, the more they have seemed bewildered : 
thus, when some have enquired whether the eternal generation 
is one single act, or an act continued ; or whether, when it is said, 
This day have I begotten thee, the meaning is, that the divine 
nature was communicated at once, or whether it is perpetually 
communicating.* And the difficulties that attend their assert- 
ing either the one or the other of them, which they, who en- 
quire into these matters, take notice of, I shall entirely pass 
over, as apprehending that this doctrine receives no advantage 
by such disquisitions. 

Neither do I think it tends much to our edification to enquire, 
as some have done, whether, in the eternal generation, the Father 
is considered as acting, and the Son as him on whom the action 
terminates, as the subject thereof; which, when they suppose 
it does, they farther enquire, whether, in this respect, he is said 
to be passive, which they are are not willing to assert. 

And I cannot but take notice of another nicety of inquiry, 
viz. whether, in the eternal generation, the Son is considered as 
co-existent with the Father, or as having the divine essence, 
and hereby only deriving his Sonship from him, from all eter- 
nity ; or whether he derives both his Sonship and his essence ; 
tiie former of which is the most generally received opinion. 
But I am not desirous to enter into this enquiry, especially 
without first detenmining what we mean by Sonship. 

There is indeed one thing that must be enquired into, and 
that is, whatever be the explication given of the eternal gene- 
ration of the Son, and px-ocession of the Holy Ghost, whether 
they are each of them self-existent, or, as some call it, a. vloBtor^ and 
it is generally determined, that the Son and Holy Ghost have 
the same self-existent divine nature : but with respect to their 
manner of having it, some say the Son has his divine nature 
from the Father, and the Holy Ghost from the Father and Son ; 
or that the Father only is self-existent, as some speak; or, as 
most others say, that he is self-subsistent ; and that this is his 

* Some, -who take deligJit in darkeyiing this matter, by pretending to explain it, 
^aM the former a to vw, stans ; the latter, fluens. 



TllE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 263 

personal property, as he is distinguished froni the Son and Ho- 
iy Ghost, whom they conclude not to be self-subsistent, but the 
one to subsist from the Father, and the other from the Father 
and the Son. This is a generally received opinion ; notwithstand- 
ing I must confess myself to be at a loss to account for it : so 
that the principal thing, in which I am obliged, till I receive 
farther conviction, to differ from many others, is, whether the 
Son and Spirit have a communicated or derived Personality : 
this many assert, but, I think, without sufficient proof; for I 
cannot but conclude that the divine Personality, not only of the 
Father, but of the Son and Spirit, is as much independent, and 
underived, as the divine essence. 

Thus we have considered how some have embarrassed this 
doctrine, by being too nice in their enquiries about it : we shall 
proceed to consider how others have done prejudice to it, by 
pretending to explain it ; and when they make use of simili- 
tudes to that purpose, have rather prejudiced the enemies of 
this doctrine against it, than given any conviction to them. I 
shall only mention what I have found in some of their writings, 
Avhom, in other respects, I cannot but exceedingly value, as hav- 
ing deserved well of the church of God, in defending this truth 
with good success, yet, when they take this method to explain 
this doctrine, to say the best of it, they have done but little ser- 
vice to the cause which they have maintained : thus we find 
them expressing themselves to this purpose ; as the soul of man 
sometimes reflects on itself, and considers its own nature, pow- 
ers, and faculties, or when it is conversant about itself, as its 
object, this produces an idea, which contains the moral image 
of itself, and is like as when he sees his face in a glass, and be- 
holds the image of himself; this, say they, illustrates the eter- 
nal generation of the Son, as God beholding himself, or his di- 
vine perfections, begets an image of himself, or has an eternal 
idea of his own perfections in his mind, which is called his in- 
ternal word, as opposed to the v.rord spoken, which is external ; 
by this they express the generation of the Son, for which rea- 
son he is called, in Heb. i. 3. The brightness of the Father s 
glory ^ and the express image of his person^ as the wax expresses 
the character or mark of the seal that is impressed on it. 

Again, they farther add, that there is a mutual love between 
the Father and the Son, which brings forth a third Person, or 
subsistence in the Godhead, to wit, the Holy Ghost ; so that as 
there is in the divine essence an infinite understanding reflecting 
on itself, whereby it begets, a Son, as was before observed, and 
an infinite will, which leads him to reflect on himself, with love 
and delight, as the chief good, whereby he brings forth a third 
Person in the Godhead, to wit, the Holy Ghost, accordingly 
they describe this divine Person as being the result of the mu- 



264 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

tual joy and delight that there is between the Father and the 
Son : these expHciUions many are at a loss to understand ; and 
we hambi)- conceive it would be much better to let them alone, 
and confess this doctrine to be an inexplicable myster}', or else 
some other wav mav be found out, which is less liable to these 
exceptions, while we explain those scriptures, which speaK of 
the generation of the Son, and the procession of the Holy 
Ghost. 

The scriptures generally brought in defence of this doctrine 
are such as these. 

1. To prove the eternal generation of the Son, there are se- 
veral scriptures referred to, particularly that in which the Fa- 
ther is represented as speaking to him, in Psal. ii. 7. Thoii art 
viij Son ; this daij have I begotten thee ; that is, say they, I have, 
in my eternal, unsuccessive duration, communicated, or impart- 
ed, the divine essence, or, at least, personality, to thee. 

Another scripture brought to this purpose is that in Prov. 
viii. 22, 23, 25. The Lord possessed me^ speaking of his eternal 
Word, or Son, in the beginning of his xvcuj^ before his xvorks of 
old, Ixuas set up from everlastings from the beginnings or ever 
the earth xvas ; before the mountains tv ere settled ; before the 
hills was I brought forth. Where they suppose that God's pos- 
sessing him, v.'-hith is certainly to be taken in a different sense 
from his being the possessor of all creatures, is to be under- 
stood of his being God's proper Son by nature ; and his being 
said to be brought forth, they suppose, proves his eteraal gene- 
ration. 

Another scripture brought to the same purpose is that in 
Micah v. 2. speaking of the Son, it is said. His goi?igs forth 
have been of old^ from everlasting ;. by which they attempt to 
prove his being begotten in the divine essence : but how that 
can be called his going forth, I do not well understand. 

Moreovei", that scripture before mentioned, in Heb. i. 3. 
Who being the brightness of his glory ^ and the express image of 
his person. And another parallel scripture, in Col. i. 15. Who 
is the image of the invisible God^ the first-born of every creature ; 
where, bv first-born, they understand, that he was begotten be- 
fore all worlds : the divine essence, or, at least, personality, be- 
ing communicated to him from eternity. 

Another scripture, which we before referred to, brought to 
prove this doctrine, is John v. 26. As the Father hath life in 
himself so he hath given to the Son to have life in himself; that 
is, say some, as the Father hath all divine perfections in him- 
self originallv, so the Son hath these perfections, by communi- 
ication from him ; which they suppose not to be an arbitrary, 
hut a necessaiy, donation. 

Again, this is farther proved, from John i. 17. where he h 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 265 

said to be the only begotten Son of the Father. And ver. 18. 
The onhj begotten Son^ xuho in in the bosom of the Father. From 
the former of which scriptures thej- prove ilie eternal genera- 
tion of the Son ; and from the latter, his being begotten in the 
divine essence, which distinguishes it from all finite produc- 
tions, which are out of himself. 

Moreover, there are many other scriptures that speak of oui 
Saviour as the Son of God ; and particularly in Matth. xvi. 
16. he is called, The Son of the living God; and in Rom. viii. 
32. his own Son, '"''"'c wof, which some render, his proper Son^ 
that is, not only his Son, who has the same divine nature with 
with himself, but as implying also the manner of its communi- 
cation ; and in Mat. iii. 17. he is called his beloved Son. 

2. We shall now consider the scriptures that are generally 
brought to prove the processioii of the Holy Ghost, in the sense 
before explained. Thus he is said, in John xv. 26. to be sent 
bif the Son from the Father ; and to proceed from the Father ; 
where they suppose that this proceeding from the Father sig- 
nifies the communication of the divine essence, or, at least, his 
personality ; and his being sent by the Son, implies, that this 
communication is from him, as well as the Father. So in Gal. 
iv. 6. it is said, God hath sent forth the Spirit oj his Son ; and, 
in John xvi. 7. our Saviour says, I xvill send him unto you^ and 
ver. 14. He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it loito you,' 
these scriptures, ii not brought directly to prove this doctrine, 
are, notwithstanding, supposed sufficient to evince the truth 
thereof, inasmuch as the Son could not send him, if he had not 
proceeded from him ; nor could he have received that which he 
shews to his people, if he had not, from ail eternity, received 
his divine essence, or personality, from him. 

There is another scripture, brought by some very valuable 
divines, to prove the Spiration of the Holy Ghost, which is so 
termed, either as supposed to be expressive of the manner of 
his having his personality as a Spirit, or else it is taken from 
those words of scripture, brought to prove this Spiration, John 
XX. 22. in which our Saviour is said to have breathed on his 
disciples, saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost ; wliich external 
sign, or symbol, used in the act of conferring him on them in 
time, proves his procession from him fron> eternity ; as a tem- 
poral procession supposes an eternal one. 

These are tjhe scriptures which are generally brought to provfe 
this doctrine. But we shall take occasion to enquire, whether 
there may not be another sense given thereof, which is less lia- 
ble to exception, as well as more intelligible. It is to be OAvned, 
that they contain some of the deep things of God ; and therefore 
it is no wonder, if they are reckoned among those scriptures 
tliat are hard to be imderstood : but so far as I have any lights 
VoT,. r. I, I • 



265 THE DOCTRIKK OF THE TRI^-ITY. 

either front the context of the respective scriptures, or the ana- 
logy of faith, I cannot but conclude that these, and all others of 
the like nature, that ar>: brought to prove the eternal generation, 
or Sonship of Christ, respect him as God-mati, Mediator ; (a) 
and those other scriptures, that speak of the procession of the 

lf»" ;■ ' ■ ,. :r ■.,■:■', ' ,■- ■ . 

a "In the SiivLmir's exalted reUtion to his P'athei-, the name Son of God comes 
chiefly under observation. It is known that in the sacred word, rational creatures 
are often dignified with the honorary title of Sons or Children of God ; and that 
ifi various respt-Cts, and for obvious reasons. But certainij- tliat name in Christ 
signifies sonictliing higher. John x. 35 — 38. Pie is not only « Son of God, but the 
Son, bj' way of emnience above all i y/oc : So that he is by this, as a peculiar and 
projicr denomination, distinguished from otJier subjects. We know, that the Son 
<;>f God IS come. 1 John v. 20. John viii. 36. — He is God's only-begotten Son. Joha 
1. 14, 18. iii. 16. God's own Son. Rom. viii. 32. " To which of the angels said he 
at any time, Thou ai*t my Son, tliis day have I begotte;i tliee ? Hel). i. 5. When 
Clirist spoke to his disciples conctniing tlie Father, he never said, oitr Fatlier, 
(as he luid taught them to pray ;) but alwaj-s witli an express distinction »m/ Fa~ 
ther. Luke ii. 48, 49. John ii. 16. chiefly John sx. 17. From the prophetic doc- 
trine, that name was known in Israel, as in its full force applicable to the Messi- 
JiS ; which can be clearly evinced from various passages. INIat. xvi. 15, 16. xxvi. 6,3. 
Mark iii. 11. John vi. 69. xi. 27. x. 36. Amidst all the confusion of their appre'nen- 
sions, they found so much emphasis m it, that the acknowledgment of it was a- 
Tuong tliem a ground of adoration. Mat. xiv. 33. John ix. 35 — 38. ; so that when 
Jesus, with the distinction and appropi'iation of the divine works, called God hia 
Father, they thence concluded, wliich the Saviour did not contradict, that lie held 
God for his own Father, and thus made himself equal to God. John v. 18. x. 33 — 36, 
Indeed, however intimate the cunnexion Is betwixt being the Messias, tlie Christ, 
and being tlie Son of God, this last signifies still somethi|ig different, something 
moi*e original. For Paul preached Christ, that he was the Son of God*. In the 
love of the truth, let us ob;>erve the divine testimony, he did not become the Son 
of God by or after his coming in the flesh, by or after the execution of his minis- 
try; but herein is God's great mercy celebrated, that "he sent him who was his 
Son, made him under the lav^r, and delivered him up for us all." This is evident^ 
from a variety of passages. Gal. iv. 4. Eom. viii. 32. Heb. v. 8. 1 John iv. 9, 10. It 
is plainly supposed in tlje ])arahlc, the lord of tlie vineyard sevit to the husband- 
men many serv;ir.ts,somc of wliom they beat, and others they slew. Having there- 
fore jet one son who was deai' to him, he sent him last of all to them, sajing, 
■• they will surely reverence my son. M;u-k xii. 6. — —In his supreme excellence^ 
as the .Son of God, lies the reason of punishing unbelief. As the Son of God, " he 
is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person." Heb. i. 3- On 
the self-same account, he is, according to the language of men, his heir, that is, 
has a natural right to all the works of Goc^, especially to his chm'ch ; v hich are 
also made by him, in communion with the Father. See this described in a lofty 
strain bi' the apostle, Hel). i. 1 — 3. iii. 3—6. Col. i. 15—17. and also by Jesus himself. 

Mark xii. 6, 7. Tho'igh, therefore, a farther tlieoloe'ical illustration of Christ's 

divine sonshVp should best be preceded by the proof of his true Deity, yet in the 
meantime, the name Son of God, as ascribed to him, points us not only to his dis- 
fing'uisheil elevation abo^'e all creatures, wiiich Arius ackno^vledged, but also to 
his unity uf nature with the Father,f and to the grount^ of his existence in the 
external and necessaiy existence of the Father." v Wtspkhsse. 

• Acts Ik. 20. ; see also chap. viii. 37. In both thr<:c plucts, hcfvever, there is ^ different re.nd- 
I'nR in the Greek. But compare .fesus' fii-st jcci-.s^itioii before Pilate, that he said lie was tlie 
Christ. (Lukrxxiii.S.) with a newantt a later, thxt he rondeUimselt'tfce Son of God. (.Tohn xix. 7. 

t Unity of nature ijith the Father. In the r.riginal it is equality of his uatare. But apprehend- 
ing thnt. ny an error of the press, geiykheiel i'i put tor eeiiieheyd, I have adventured to translate 
^e passage as pj-ove ; and that in the fullest consistcitcy with the dasij^n of the worthy author, 
in the whole of 'nis treatise, and wi'h his express words in the close of the second paraKra;))) •■,'( 
thii very eeciion, where he says, ■ v.c Ave not esteem Christ '.'S3 th;:n (,fJ-'-^irm, that •>;; of i.\^ • 
•<»*« Huiivrsot csseace with Gad, 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. gOT 

Holy Ghost, respect the subserviency of his acting as a divine 
Person to the Mediator's glory, in applying the work of re- 
demption. 

And here we shall consider these scriptures in particular; 
and then answer some objections that may be brought against 
this sense thereof, whereb)^, I hope, it will appear, that we as- 
sert nothing but what tends to the glory of the Son and Spirit, 
establisheth the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity, and agi-ees 
with the commonly received faith, so far as it is founded on 
scripture, without being tenacious of those modes of speaking, 
which have the sanction of venerable antiquity, and are support- 
ed by the reputation of those who have used them ; though it 
maj' be, those scriptures will be otherwise understood by them, 
who regard explications that are merely humtm, no farther than 
they are defensible. 

The first scripture before naentioned, which was brought to 
prove the eternal generation of the Son, was Psal. ii. 7. Thou 
art 77iy Son^ this day have I begotten thee. This cannot, I hum- 
bly conceive, respect the communication, of the divine nature, 
or personality to the Son, as appears from the words immediate- 
ly foregoing, in which it is said, / xv'ill declare the decree^ or 
what I had before decreed, or determined. Far be itfrojii us to 
suppose that the divine nature, or personality, of die Son was 
the result of an act of the divine will : and, indeed, the whole, 
-Psalm plainly speaks of Christ as Mediator ; as such he is said, 
ver. 6. To be set as God^s king; on his holy hill of Sion^ and, as 
such, he is said to intercede with, or ask of God ; and, as the 
mjsult hereof, the Father is said, ver. 8. tc give him the heathen 
for his inheritance^ and the tittermosl parts of tlie earth for his 
possession' ; and all this is spoken of him, as a farther explica- 
tion of those words, Thou art my Son^ this day have I begotten 
thee. And the apostle, in Heb. i. 5. refers to this scripture, 
when speaking of him as Mediator, and as havings by inherit- 
ance^ obtained a more excclle7it name than the angels ; which he 
has done, as he is constituted heir of all things : and he subjoins 
that promise, / tvill be to him a Father^ arid he shall be to me a 
Son^ that is, he shall perform that obedience that is due from 
him as a Son ; and I will give unto him those rewards, which 
are due from a Father, who has committed this work to him, 
with a promise of the conferring those i-evenucs of Mediatorial 
glory on him, that should ensue on his fulfilling it. Moreovej", 
this scripture is referred to, by the apostle, in Acts xiii. 32, 33. 
when he says. That the promise^ which was made to the fathers^ 
God hath fidflled the same unto their children^ in that he hath 
raised up Jesus again^ as it is xvritten in the second Psalm.y 
Thou art my Son^ this day have I begotten thet^ So that it is 
plain the Psalmist speaks of him as having finished hi^ vvorl<j 



iJ6B tHE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY* 

Gf redemption, ttt which time he was raised from, the dead ; and 
then, in the fullest sense, he had ^?^ heathen for his inheritance. 
And, upon this accounc, he is also called, in Rev. i. 5. Thejirst 
begotten of the dead ; and, in CoU i. 18. The Jirst^born from the 
aead. 

The next scripture brought to prove the eternal getieration of 
the Son, in Prov* viii. 22, 23, 25. refers to Christ, as Media- 
tor ; when God is said to possess him in the beginning of his 
waif, the meaning is, that in his eternal design of grace relating 
to the redemption of man, the Father possessed, or laid claim 
to him as his Son, or servant, appointed in the human nature, 
to bring about that great work ; and accordingly it follows, / 
rvas set tip from everlasting, that is, fore-ordained of God, to 
be the Mediator and head of his elect : and this agrees very 
well with what follows, ver. 30, 31. / xvas daily his delightf 
that is, God the Father was well pleased v/ith him, when lore- 
Seeing from all eternity what he would do in time, to secure 
the giory of his perfections in the redemption of man, as God 
publicly testified his well-pieasedness in him, when he was ac- 
tually engaged in this work. And it is farther added. That he 
rvas ahvaifs rejoicijig bfore him ; rejoicing in the habitable part 
of his' earth, a?id his delights rvere xvith the so?is of men ; which 
signifies the great pleasure Christ had, in his eternal fore-sight 
of what he would do for the sons of men, whom he is elsewhere 
said to have loved ivith an everlasting love. 

The next scripture is in Micah v. 2. where speaking of the 
Son, it is said. Whose goings forth have been of old, from ever- 
fasting. For the understanding of which scripture, let us con- 
sider, that God's goings are sometimes taken in scripture for 
what he does, whereby he renders himself the object of his peo- 
ple's astonishment and praise ; these are his visible goings. 
Thus, Psal. Ixvi. 24. They have seen thy goings, O God, even 
the gohigs of my God, my King, hi the sanctuary ; that is, they 
shall see the great tilings which thou wilt do for man, in the 
work of redemption : so in this scripture, the sense whereof we 
are considering, we read of Christ's goings forth, his invisible 
goings, as we may call them, or his seci-et purposes, or designs 
of grace, relating to the redemption of his people : His goings 
forth -were from everlasting ; that is, he did, from eternit}-, de- 
sign to save them ; the outgoings of his heart were towards 
them, and, as the result hereof, he came into the world accord- 
ing to this prediction, and was born in Bethlehem, as in the 
foregoing words. 

The next scripture is in Heb. i. 3. where he is said to be the 
brightness of hif>\ that is, his Father's glory, and the express 
itnage of his person. B}- the former expression, I humbly con- 
ceiyx?, is meant, that the glory of the divine perfections shiries 



TltE DOCTRINE OF TitE TRINITY. 269 

forth most illustriously in Christ, our great Mediator, as the a- 
postle expresses it elstwhert, 2 Cor. iv. 6. God hath shined in 
our hearts^ to give the knowledge of his glory^ in the face of 
feswi Christ, Bv the latter expression, in which Christ is call- 
ed the express i})inge of his Person, I humbl}' conceive, is meant, 
that though his divine nature be the same with the Father's, 
yet his Personality is distinct ; and therefore it is not said to be 
the same, but the image of his Father'' s ; and it also proves his 
proptr divine Personality, as being, in all respects, like that of 
the Father, though not the same. 

The next scriptui'e is in John v. 26. As the Father hath life 
in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself 
We cannot think that the Father's having given to the Son t9 
have life in himself implies his giving him the divine perfec- 
tions, for the propriety ot that mode of speaking cannot be de- 
fended consistently with his proper underived Deity. But I 
humbly conceive that the meaning of it is this ; that as the Fa- 
ther hath life in himself that is, as he has eternal life, or that 
fulness of grace and glory, which his people are to be made 
partakers of, at his own disposal, and has designed to give it, 
in his eternal purpose ; so hath he given to the Son, as Media- 
tor, to have life in himself, that is, that, as such, he should be 
the treasury of all this grace, and that he should have life in 
himself to dispense to them. This is very agreeable to his cha- 
racter and office, as Mediator, and with what follows, ver. 24. 
where it is said ; Verili/, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth 
my word, and believeth on hi?n that sent me^ hath everlasting 
life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from 
death unto life ; and ver. 27. it is farther added, that He, to 
wit, the Father, hath given him authoritij to execute judgment 
also, because he is the Son of man; which plainly denotes, that 
this lift", which he has received from the Father, is that eter- 
nal life, which he is impowered or commissioned to bestow on 
his people, as Mediator ; this he has in himself, and accordingly 
he is said, John i. 14. to be fill of grace and truth ; and Col. 
i. 1 9. It pleased the Father that in him should allfdness drvelL 

The next thing to be considered, is the seiise of those many 
scriptures, in which our Saviour is described as the Son cfGod^ 
or the Son of the living God, or his only begotten Son, or his own 
or proper Son, as distinguished from all others, which, I hum- 
bly conceive, sets forth his glory, as Mediator, which we shall 
endeavour to prove. But, to prepare our way for the prosecu- 
tion of this argument, as well as to prevent any misconstruction 
that iai2;ht give prejudice thereunto, we shall take leave to pre- 
mise, 

1 . That when we read of the Son of God, as dependent on 
the Father, inferior and obedient to him ; and yet, as being 



2tO THB DOCTRINE Ot THE TRlNIT.f* 

equal with him, and having the same divine nature, wc cannot 
conceive of any character which answers to all these ideas of 
sonship, unless that of a Mediator. If we consider the proper- 
ties of sonship among men, ev'er}^ one who stands in this rela- 
tion to a Father is dependent on him. In this respect, the 
father is the cause of his son, and it is not like other produc- 
tions, for no effect can, properly speaking, be called a son, but 
that which hath the same kind of nature with his father ; and 
the relation of sonbhip always connotes inferiority, and an obli- 
gation to yield obedience. I do not apply this, in every respect, 
to the Sonship of Christ, which no similitude, taken from mere 
creatures, can sufnciently illustrate ; but his character, as Me- 
diator, seems to answer to it, more than any thing else that can 
be said of him, since he has, as such, the same individual na- 
ture with the Father, and also is inferior to, and dependent on 
him. As a son, among men, is inferior to, and dependent on, 
his father, and, as the prophet speaks, Mai. i. 6. Hoqoitreth his 
father; so whatever Christ is, as Mediator, he receives it from 
the Father, and, in all that he does, he honoureth his Father^ 
as he says, John viii. 49. As the whole work of redemption is 
referred to the Father's gloiy, and the commission, by which 
he acts as Mediator, is received from the Father, so, as a Son, 
he refers all the glory thereof to him. 

2. This accovmt of Christ's Sonship does not take away any 
argument, by which w^e prove his Deity ; for when we consider 
him as Mediator, we always suppose him to be both God and 
man, which is what we intend when we speak of the Person of 
Christ in this respect; so that, as God, he is equal with the 
Father, and has an equal right to divine adoration. This be- 
longs to him as much, when considered as Mediator, as it can 
be supposed to do, if we consider his Sonship in any other re- 
spect. 

3. It does not take away any argument to prove his distinct 
Perswnalit}' from the Father and Holy Ghost, or, at least, if it 
sets aside that which is taken from the dependence of his Per- 
sonality on the Father, as received from him by communication, 
it substitutes another in the room of it, inasmuch as to be a Me- 
diator is, witliout doubt, a personal character; and because 
neither the Fathei-, nor the Holy Ghost, can be said to be Me- 
diators, it implies, that his Personality is distinct from theirs ; 
likewise his acting as Mediator from the Father j and the Holy 
Spirit's securing the glory which arises to him from htnce, and 
applying the redemption purchased by him, is a farther proof 
of this distinction of the Persons in the Godhead. 

4. Since we consider the Mediator as both God and man, in 
one Person, we do not suppose that this character respects either 
®f his two natures, considered separately. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 271 

(1.) Not his divine nature. It is true, that his having the 
same nature with the Father might be reckoned, by some, a 
character of Sonship, as it contains one ingredient in the com- 
mon idea that we have among men. They, as sons, are snid to 
have tlie same kind of nature with their fathers ; so our Saviour's 
having the same individual nature with the Father might give 
occasion to some to denominate him, for that reason, his Son ; 
but though this may be the foundation of his being called God's 
proper Son, mc; wo/, yet this is not his distinguishing character 
as a Son : for it would follow from hence, that the Holy Gho5t, 
who has the same nature with the Father, would, for that rea- 
son, be called his Son, Avhich is contrary to the scripture-account 
given of him, as proceeding from the Father and the Son. 

(2.) This character of Christ, as God-man, Mediator, does 
not respect his human nature, considered separately from his 
divine, nor any of those peculiar honours conferred upon it, 
beyond what any mere creatures are made ptrtakers of. 

This leads us to consider the difference between this notion 
of his Sonship, and that which was generally assigned, as the 
reason of his being so called, by the Socinians ; these generally 
speak of Christ, as being denominated the Son of God, because 
of the extraordinary and miraoulous . conception, or formation, 
of his human nature in the womb of the Virgin ; and for this 
they refer to that scripture in Luke i. o5. (a) The Holy Ghost 

(a) '' The meaning of the terms, Son of God, only-begotten Son of God, must 
needs be of importance, inasmuch as the belief oi the idea signified by them was 
made a leading article in the primitive professions of faith. John vi. 69. iii. 18. xx. 
31. Acts xviii. 57. 1 John iv. 15. Whatever disputes have arisen of late among 
christians, tliere seems to have been none on this subject hi tlie times of the apos- 
tles. Both Jews and christirais appear to have agreed in this : the only question 
that divided them was, whether Christ was the Son of God, or not .'' If tliere had 
been any ambiguity in the term, it would have been very unfit to express the fir»L 
article of the christian faith. 

It has been frequently suggested, that the ground of Christ's sonship is given 
us in Luke i. 35, and is no other tlian his miraculous conception : Tlie HoJi) Ghont 
shall come vpon thee, and the po-wer of the Highest shall orershado^v the^: therefore 
tdsQ that holy thing tvhich shall be bom of thee, shall be called the So7i of God. 

It is true tliat our Lord was miraculously conceived of the Holy Spirit, and 
that such a conception was peculiar to him ; but it does not follow that by this 
he became the Son, or onJy-begotten Son of Cod. Nor does the passage in ques- 
tion prove any sucli thing. It has been thought that the phrase So7i of God, 
in this pbice, is used in a peculiar sense, or that it respects tlie origin of 
Christ's human nature, as not be'uig by ordinary generation of man, but by the 
extraordinary' inflvience of God ; and that lie is here called the Son of God ii^ 
the same sense as Adam is so called, (Luke iii. 38.) as being produced by his 
immeiliate power. If this be the meaning of the term in the passage in ques- 
tion, I should think it will be allowed to be pecidiar, and therefore that no gene- 
ral conclusion can be drawn fi-om it, as to the meaning of the term in other pas- 
sages. But griuiting that the sonslilp of Christ, in this" place, is to be understood 
in the same sense as it is commonly to be taken in the new testament, still it does 
not follow that the miraculous conception i.s the origin of it. It mav be a reason 
iKiven why Ckist is culled thy Son of God; but not why he is so. Clirist is c^Uer! 



2r2 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

ahall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall over- 
shadow thee ; therefore also that Holy Thing, xvhich shall be 
born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. The sense, in which 

the Son of God as raised from the dead, and as exalted at the right haucl of God. 
Acts xiii. 33. lieb. i. 4, 5. Did he then become the Son of God by these events ? 
This is impossible ; for sonship is not a progressive matter. If it arose from his 
miraculous conception, it could not for that reason lU-ise from his resuirection, 
or exaltation : and so on the other hand, if it arose from his resurrect.on, or exal- 
tation, it could not proceed from his miraculous conception. But if each be un- 
derstood of his being hereby proved, acknowledge d, or, as the scripti\res express 
it, declared to be the Son of God witli pov\"er, all is easy and consistent. 

AVhether the tei-ms, Son of God, and o^dy-begotten Sofi of God, be not expres- 
sive of his divine personality, antecedent to all consideration of his being con- 
ceived of the holy Spirit, in the womb of the Virgin, let the following things de- 
termine. 

First: The glory of the oidn begotten of the Father, and the glory of the Word, 
are used as convertible terms, as being the same : but the lattei" is allowed to de- 
note tlie divine person of Christ, antecedent to his being made flesh ; the same 
therefore must be true of the former. Tlie' Word was made flesh, and we beheld 
his glartf ; that is, the glory of the Word, the glory us of the only-begotten of the 
Father, fidl of grace avd truth. John 1. 14. It is true, it was by the Word being 
made flesh, and diuelling amongst its, that his glory became apparent; but the glo- 
ry itself was that of the eternal Word, aid tliis is tlie same as the glory of tite only- 
hegotten of the Father. 

Secondly : The Son of God is said to dwell w« the bosoin of the Father ; that is, 
he is intimately acquainted with, his chai-acter lUid designs, and thciefore fit to 
be employed in nniking them known to men. The mily-b^^gotten Son, -who is in the 
bosom of tlie Father, he hath declared him. John i. 18. If this be applieiJ to h s di- 
vine person, or that eternal life -which was -with the Father, and -was manifested to 
ns, 1 John i. 2. it is natural and proper ; it assigns his omniscience as quahf\ing 
him for making known the mind of God : but if he became the only-begotten of 
the Father by his miraculous conception, or by any otlier means, tlie beauty of 
the passage vanishes. 

Thirdly: God is frequently said to have sent his Son into the world : John vii. 
17. X. 36. 1 Jolin iv. 9, 10. but this implies that he was his Son antecedent to his 
being sent. To suppose otherwise, is no less absurd than supposing that when 
Christ is said to have sent forth his twelve disciples, they were not disciples, but 
in consequence of his sending them, or of some preparation pertaining to their 
mission. 

Fourthly : Christ is called the Son of God antecedently to his miraculous con- 
ception, and consequently he did not become such by it. — In the fulness of time 
God sent forth his Son, made of a luomaii, made under the la~,a, that tie 7night redeem 
them that loere vnder the la-w — God sent his oiun Son, in tlie likeness of sinf id flesh. 
Oal. iv. 4. Rom. viii. 3. — The terms, made of a looman, made nmfer the law, are a 
parentliesis. The position affirmed is, that God sent forth his Son to redeem the 
transgressors of the law. His being made of a woman, and made under the law, 
or covenant of works, which man had broken, expressed the necessary means for 
the accomplishment of this great end ; which means, though preceding our re- 
demption, 3'et follow the sonship of the Redeemer. There is equal proof tliat 
Christ was the Sofi of God before he was made of a ivonian, as that he was t/ie 
Word before he was made flesh. The phraseology is the same in the one case as 
in the other. If it be alleged that Christ is here called the Son of God oji account 
of his being made of a woilian, I answer, If so, it is also on account of his being 
made tinder the la-u, whicli is too absurd to admit of a question. — Moi-eover : To 
say that God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, is equal to saying that 
the Son of God assumed human natme : he must therefore have been the Son of 
God before his incarnation. 

Fifthly : Christ is called the Son of God antecedent to his being manifested ta 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY, 2f3 

they understand this text, is, that Christ is called the Son of 
God, because of this extraordinary event : But we cannot think 
that a miraculous production is a sufficient foundation to sup- 

■-' ■ ■ ' ' ■' '■■■ ' '■' ■ ' - ■ -T 

destroy the work's oftlie devil; but he was manifested to destroy tlie works of the 
devil by taking upon him huni;ui nature ; consequently, he was the Sou of God 
antecedent to tlie human nature being- assumed. There is equal proof from the 
phraseolog-y of 1 John iii. 8. that he was the Son of God antecedent to his being 
7naniffstcd to destroy the -works of the devil, as tliere is from tliat of 1 Tim. iii. 16. 
Ijiat he was God antecedent to his being manifested in the flesh : or from 1 John 
i. 2, that that eternal life, whichioas -with the Father, was such antecedent to hhs 
being manifested to ue. 

Sixthly: The ordinance of baptism is commanded to be admmistercd in the 
name of the Father, and of the ' Son, (Kid of the Holy Spirit. Matt, xxviii. 19. The 
terms. Father and Holy Spirit, will be allowed to denote divine persons ; and what 
good reasons can be given for ;uiother idea being fixed to the term Soii ? 

Seventhly : The proper deHy of Christ precedes his office of Mediator, or Higli 
Priest of our profession, and renders it an exercise of condescension. But the same 
is true of his sonship : llemajketh the Son a Ui^'h Priest — Tlmvgh he -zvas a Son, 
yet learned he obedience, lleb.'vu. 23. V. 8. His being- the Son of God, therefore^ 
amounts to the same thing as'his being a divine person. 

Eighthly ; It is the proper deity of Christ which gives dignity to his office of 
IMcdiator : but this dignity is ascribed to bis being the Son of God. We have u 
OREAT High Priest, Jesus, the Son o/Gou. Heb. iv. 14. His being the Son of God, 
therefore, amounts to the same thing as his being a divine person. 

Lastly : It is the proper deity of Christ which gives efficacy to his sufferings— 
By HIMSELF he purges our sins. Heb. i. 3. But this efficacy is ascribed to his be» 
ing the Son of God — The blood ef Jesus Christ, his Son, clcuvseth va from all sin, 
1 John i. 7. His being the Son of God tlierefore amounts to the same thing as his 
being a divine person. 

Tliose who attribute Christ's sonship to his miraculous conception, (those how- 
ever to whom I refer,) arc ne\ crthelcss constrained to allov/ that the term implies 
proper divinity. Indeed this is evident from John v. 18, where his saying that 
God^oas Ms oiun Father is supjioseil to be making himsrlf eqttial with God. But il' 
tlie miraculous conception be the projier foundation of his sonship, why should it 
contain sucli an imjilication ? A holy crcattire might be produced by the over- 
shadovv'ing of the Holy Spirit, which yet should be merely a creature; i. e. he 
might, on this hypothesis, profess to l)e the Son of God, and yet be so far front 
making himself equal with God, as to pretend to be nothing more than a man. 

It has been objected, that ('hrist, when called the Son of God, is commonly 
spoken of as engaged in the work of mediation, and not simply as a divine person 
antecedent to it. I answer ; In a lustory ol the rebellion in the year 1745, the name 
of his Iloyal Highness, tlie commander in chief, would often be mentioned in con- 
nexion with his equipage and exploits ; but none would infer from hence that he 
thereby became the kini^s son. 

It is further objected, that sonship implies inferiority, and therefore cannot be 
attributed to the divine person of Christ. — Bu*, whatever inferiority may be at- 
tached to the idea of Sonship, it is not an inferiority oi'7taturc, which is the point 
in question : and if any regard be paid to the ScriiJtures, the very contrary is 
true. Christ's claiming to be the Son of God w;is muting himself, not inferior, but 
as God, or equal -with God. 

Once more : Sonship, it is said, implies posteriority, or that Christ, as a Son^ 
ooukl not have existed till after the Father. To attribute no other divinity to 
him, therefore, than what is denoted by sonship, is attributing none to him ; asj 
nothing can be divine which is not eternal. But if this reasoning be just, it wiU 
prove that the divine purposes are not eternal, o»- that there was once a point in 
<luration, in which God was witliout thought, purpose or design. For it is as tnie^ 
and may as well be said, that God must exist before he could purpose, as that 
the Father must exivt befjre !ic])ad.'i,Son : but if God n)U£t exist before UccouttI > 

Voj. I. M ra 



274; THE DOCTRINE OF THE tRlNITY. 

port this character, and therefore must conclude, that the glory 
of Christ's Sonship is infinitely greater than what arises from 
thence : therefore, I humbly conceive that this scripture is to 
be understood, with a small variation of the translation, in this 
sense, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee^ he. because that 
Holy Thing., which shall be born of thee., shall be called^ as he 
really is, the So7i of God; that is, he is as Mediator, an extra- 
ordinary Person appointed to execute a glorious office, the God- 
head and the manhood being to be united together, upon which 
account he is called the Son of God : and therefore it is ex- 
pedient that the formation of his human nature should be in aii 
Extraordinary way, to wit, by the power of the Holy Ghost. 

Again, there is a very wide difference between our account 
of Christ's Sonship, as Mediator, and theirs, as taken from this 
scripture, in that they suppose that his being called the Son of 
God, refers only to some dignities conferred upon him, whom 
they suppose to be no more than a man. This is infmitely below 
the glory, which we ascribe to him, as Mediator, since their 
idea of him, as such, how extraordinary soever his conception 
was, argues him to be no more than a creature ; but ours, as 
has been before observed, proves him a divine Person, since 
we never speak of him, as Mediator, without including both 
natures. 

, Having premised these things, to explain our sense of Christ's 
being called the Son of God, as Mediator, we proceed to prove 
this from scripture. And here we are not under a necessity of 
straining the sense of a few scriptures, to make them speak 
agreeably to this notion of Christ's Sonship ; but, I think, wc 
have the whole scripture, whenever it speaks of Christ, as the 
Son of God, as giving countenance to this plain sense thereof j 
so that I cannot find one place, in the whole New Testament, 
in which Christ is called the Son of God, but it is, with suffi- 
cient evidence, proved, from the context, that it is applied to 
him, as Mediator. Here we shall refer to several scriptures, 
in which he is so considered: thus that scripture before-men- 
tioned, in Matth. xvi. 16. where Peter confesses, Thou art 
Christ., the Son of the living God ; in which, speaking of him as 

.'.Tik..':"' a' , ■ ' , ' ■■■■'• ■! .. . .:'.,■,'■', •: 

purpose, thei"e must have been a point in duration in which he existed without 
purpose, thought, or desig-n ; that is, in which he was not God ! The truth is, 
ihe whole of this apj^aient difficulty arises from the want of distinguishing be-, 
tween the order of nature and the order of time. In the order of nature, the sun 
must have existed before it could shine ; but in the order of time, the sun and its 
rays are coeval : it never existed a single instant without them. In the order ot 
--fiturej God must have exisied before he could purpose ; but in the order of time, 
-,r duration, he never existed witho\it his purpose- for a God, witliout thought or 
purpose, were no God, And thus in the order of nature, the Father must have 
existed before the Son ; but, in that of duration, he never existed without the Son, 
"T}ie Father and the Son therefore are properly eternal." FrixrH, 



Tllfi BOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 2^& 

■ Christ, or the Mediatoi-, that is, the Person who was invested 
m the office, and came to perform the work of a Mediator, he 
is, in this respect, the Son of the living' God ; so when the high 
priest asked our Saviour, Matth. xxvi. 63. Art thou the Christ., 
the Son of God? that is, art thou the Messiah, as thou art sup- 
posed to be by thy followers ? Our Saviour, in ver. 64. replied 
to him, Thou hast said, that is, it is as thou liast said ; and then 
he describes himself in another character, by which he is often 
represented, as Mediator, and speaks of the highest degree of 
his Mediatorial glory to which he shall be advanced at his se- 
cond coming, ver. 64. Nevertheless^ I say unto you, Hereafter 
shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand ofpdwer, 
and coming iii the clouds of heaven. And, doubtless, the centu- 
rion, and they who were with him, when they confessed that 
he xvas the Son of God, in Matth. xxvii. 54. understood by it, 
that he was the Messiah, or the Christ, which is a character by 
which he was most known, and which had been supported by so 
many miracles, and was now confirmed by this miracle of the 
earthquake, which gave him this conviction ; also in Luke iv. 41 . 
when the devib are represented as crying out. Thou art Christy 
the Son of God, it follows, that they knew that he xvas Christ; 
so that the commonly received notion of our Saviour's Son- 
ship was, that he was the Christ. And in John xi. 3. when 
Jesus says concerning Lazarus, that his sickness was not unto 
death, that is, not such as that he should continue in the state of 
the dead, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be 
glorified thereby, the meaning is, that he might give a proof of 
his being the Christ, by raising him from the dead; therefore, 
when he speaks to Martha, with a design to try whether she 
believed he could raise her brother from the dead, and repre- 
sents himself to her as the object of faith, she replies, ver. 27 > 
I believe that thou art the Christ the Son of God, -which should 
come into the xvorid. Again, it is said, in Acts ix. 20. that Saul, 
when converted, preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is" 
the Son of God, that is, he proved him to be the Messiah; and 
accordingly, ver. 22. when he was establishing the same doc- 
trine, it is said, that he proved that he xvas the very Christ, 

Moreover, our Saviour is farther described, in scripture, as 
executing some of his mediatorial offices, or as having received 
a commission to execute them from the Father, or as having; 
some branches of mediatorial glory conferred upon him, at the 
same time that he is called the Son of God, which gives us 
ground to conclude, that this is the import of his Sonship. Thus 
we read, Heb. iv. 14. that we have a great High Priest that is 
passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God; and in John i. 
29. John the Baptist pjives a public testimony to him, as fius- 



rlT& THE DOCTRINE Of THE TRINITY. 

taining such a character, which belongs to him, as Mediator, 
when he says. Behold the Latnb of God which taketh axuay the 
sins of the -world ; and afterwards, referring to the same cha- 
racter, he says, ver. 34. / scav^ and bare record^ that this is the 
Son of God; and at another time he gives a noble testimony to 
him, as God-man, Mediator, John iii. 29, ^c, when he calb 
him, The Bridegroom xvhich hath the bride^ that is, who is re- 
lated to, and has a propriety, in his church, and that he testifies 
xvhat he has seen and heard^ and that it is he whom God hath senty 
tcho speaks thexvords of God^for God giveth not the Spirit by 
measure unto him ; and then, as a farther explication hereof, he 
says, ver. S5. The Father loveth the So?i^ and hath given all 
things into his hand. This is, in effect, the same, as when he is 
called elsewhere, his beloved Son ; and, in Heb. iii. 6. Christ is 
said to be a Son over his oxvn house^ xvhose house are we ; which 
denotes not only his propriety in his church, but his being the 
Head thereof, as Mediator ; and the apostle, 1 Thess. i. 10. 
speaks of him, as the So7i of God^ xvhom rue are to xvait for frotyi 
heaven ; xvhom he has raised from the dead,, even jfesus^ which 
delivered us from thexvrafh to co?ne ; and. Gal. ii. 20. he speaks 
of the Son of God, as one who loved him,, and gave himself for 
him; and Col. i. 13. he is spoken of as God'*s dear Sojiy and, at 
the same time, as having a kingdom, into which his people are 
translated; and in the following verse, as the person in xvhom 
we have redemption,, through his blood,, xvho is the image of the 
invisible God,, the first-born of every creature ; which seems to 
be taken in the same sense as when he said, Heb. i. 2. to have 
been appointed Heir of all things,, and so referring to him as 
God-man, Mediator. 

Moreover, when he is considered as a Son related to his Fa- 
ther ; this appears, from the context, to be a description of him 
as Mediator. Thus, John xx. 17. he saj-s, / ascend unto mif 
Father,, and your Father ; to my God,, and your God ; that is, my 
Father by whom I am constituted Mediator, and your Father^ 
namely, the God who loves }'ou for my sake : he is first my 
God, as he has honoured, loved and glorified me ; and then 
your God, as he is reconciled to you for my sake ; so the apos- 
tle says, 2 Cor. i. 3. Blessed be God,, even the Father of our Lord 
jfesus Christ; the Father ofjfioxies,, and the God of all comfort. 

Object, 1. In these scriptures, and others of the like nature, 
there are tAvo ideas contained ; namely, one of our Saviour, as 
the Son of God, by eternal generation j the other of him, as 
Mediator ; whereas we suppose that one contains only an ex- 
plication of the other. 

Ansxv. If Christ's Sonship, in the sense in which it is gene- 
O^ly explained, were sufRciently proved from other scriptures, 



THE DOCTRIKE OF THE TRINITY. 277 

which take no notice of his mediatorial character, or works, or 
could be accounted for, without being liable to the difiiculties 
before-mentioned, and if hh character, as Mediator, did not 
contain in it an idea of Personality, the objection would have 
more weight than otherwise it seems to hav^e. 

Object, 2. It is said. Gal. iv. 4. God sent forth his Son., made 
of a xuoman, made tinder the lazv; therefore he was the Son of 
God before he was sent into the world, when made of a woman, 
and under the law, that is, his Son by eternal g-eneration. 

Answ, The answer I would give to this objection is, 

1, It is not necessary to suppose that Christ had the charac- 
ter of a Son before he was sent, though he had that of a diviije 
Person ; since the words may, without any strain, or force, 
upon the sense thereof, be understood thus ; when the fulness 
of time was come, in which the Messiah was expected, God 
sent him forth, or sent him into the world, with the character 
of a Son, at which time he was made of a woman, made under 
the law ; the end whereof was, that he might redeem them that 
were under the law. 

2. If we suppose Christ had the character of a Son before he 
was sent into the world, it will not overthrow our argument : 
since he was, by the Father's designation, an eternal Mediator, 
and, in this respect, God's eternal Son ; and therefore, he who 
before was so by virtue of the eternal decree, is now actually 
sent, that he might be, and do, what he was from all eternity 
designed to be, and do : he was set up from everlasting, or 
appointed to be the Son of God ; and now he is sent to perform 
the work which this character implies in it. 

Object. 3. It is farther objected, that his Sonship is distinct 
from his being Mediator, inasmuch as it is said, Heb. v. 8. 
Though he were a So?i.^ yet learned he obedience by the thingi: 
xvhich he suffered. Now it cannot, in propriety of speech, be 
said, though he were Mediator, yet he learned obedience, 
since he was under an obligation to obey, and suffer as Medi- 
ator ; therefore the meaning must be, though he were a Son 
by eternal generation, yet he condescended to put himself into 
such a capacity, as that he was obliged to obey, and suffer, as 
Mediator. 

Anszv. The stress of the objection lies in the word which we 
render though, ^ai sr^ m woe &c. which may be rendered, with a 
small variation, though being a Son, he learned obedience by 
the things he suffered ; but being made perfect, viz. after his 
sufferings, he became the author of eternal salvation, unto all 
them that obey him ; and then it takes away the force of the 
objection. However, I see no absurdity if it be rendered, as 
k is in the vulgar Latin version, And, indeed^ being a Son, hr 



278 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINIT.Y. 

learned obedience *, and then It proves the argument we are- 
cndeavouring to defend, q. d. it is agreeable to the character 
of a son to learn obedience ; it was with this view that it was 
conferred upon him, and in performing obedience, and suf- 
fering as Mediator, and thereby securing the glory of the di~ 
\*ine perfections in bringing about the work of our redemptioHj 
lie acted in pursuance of that character. 

Object. 1. it will be farther objected, that what we have said 
concerning the Sonship of Christ, as referred to his being 
Mediator, has some consequences attending it, \vhich seem 
derogatory to his Person ; particularly, it will follow from 
hence, that had not man fallen, and stood in need of a Media- 
tor, our Saviour would not have had that character, and there- 
fore never have been described as the Son of God, or wor- 
shipped as such. And our first parents, while in the state of 
innocency, knowing nothing of a Mediator, knew nothing of 
the Sonship of Christ, and therefore could not give him the 
glory, which is the result thereof. Moreover, as God might 
have prevented the fall of man, or, when fallen, he might have 
refused to have recovered him by a Mediator ; so our Saviour 
might not have been the Son of God, that is, according to the 
foregoing explication thereof, a Mediator between God and 
man. 

Answ. This objection may be very easily answered, and the 
charge, of Christ's mediatorial Sonship being derogatory to his 
glory, removed ; which that we may do, let it be considered, 

1. That we allow, that had not man fallen, our Saviour 
would not have been a Mediator between God and man; and 
the commonly received notion is true, that his being a Media- 
tor is, by divine ordination and appointment, according to the 
tenor of several scriptures relating thereunto ; and I see no ab- 
surdity in asserting, that his character, as the Son of God, or 
Mediator, is equally the result of the divine will, or decree. 
But this I hope, if duly considered, will not contain the least 
diminution of his glory, when we farther assert, 

2. That though our Saviour had not sustained this character 
if man had not fallen, or if God had not designed to bring 
about the Avork of redemption by him, yet he would have been 
no less a distinct Person in the Godhead, and, as such, would 
have had a right to divine glory. This appears from what 
hath been before said, concerning his personality being equally 

* Kai 5r«^ is %tscd six times in the JN'Vw Testament ; in tteo or three of ivfiich places 
it 7>ujht be rendered, Tvithout deviating from ifie sense of the respective texts, Sc 
quidem, as we// as qiuimvis; and I see tio reason why the enclitic particle TTtp, be- 
ing added to xat, shoidd ahvays, -tvithout exception, alter the sense thereof, a7iy more 
than xohen it is joined to m, «ai', or a. Andxuhereus I render kxi, in ver. 9. But, 
instead of AxkX, that may be jnstified. by several scriptures, luhere it is so rendered.- 
<ts I.uhc vU. .75. MuUh. cii. 39. Actsx. 28, 1 Cor. xvi. 13. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY- 279 

necessary with his Deity, which, if it be not communicated to 
him, certainly it has not -the least appearance of being the re- 
sult of the divine will; and, mdetd, his divine personality is 
the only foundation oi his right to be adored, and not his being- 
invested in an oi^ice, which only drav s forth, or occasions our 
adoration. When we speak oi Chri&t's b^ing adored, as Me- 
diator, it is his divine ptrsonalit} , which is included in that 
character, that renders hin> the objcci of adoration, and not 
his taking the human nature, or being, or doing, what he was, 
or did, by divine appointment ; and I question whether they, 
who assert that he had the divine nature, or personality, com- 
municated to him, v.'ill lay the stress of his right to divine 
adoration, on its being communicated, but on his having it, 
Abstracting from his manner of having it ; so when we speak 
of Christ as Mediator, it is his having the divine glory, or 
personalitv, which is included in that character, that rienders 
him the object of adoration ; therefore, if man had not fallen, 
and Christ had not been Mediator, he would have had a right 
to divine glory, as a Person in the Godhead. And I doubt 
not but that our first parents, before they fell, had an intima- 
tion hereof, and adored him as such ; so that if Christ had not 
been Mediator, it v/ould only follow from thence, that he 
v/ould not have had the character of a Son, but he would, not- 
v/ithstanding, have had the glory of a divine Person; for 
though his sonship be the result of the divine Vvill, his person- 
ality is not so. (a) 



(o) Dr. Ridgley dilTevs from the most of his brethren on the Sonship oiThrist 
as Mediator. The following note, imd the two precedjig", represent, it is pre- 
sumed, tlie orthodox doctrine on this important head. 

" The liedeemer is the Son of God, in a peculiar and appropriated sense, and 
by which he Ls distinguished from every other person in the universe. He is 
therefore called the Jirst begotfep, or first born son of God : his o7ibi begotten son; 
his otvn ton; and eminently The Son, and The Son of the Father. His ckar Son ; 
or, as it is in the original, The Son nf his love ,• His beloved Son, in tv horn he is 
r tell pleased- " For he received from God the Father, honour and glory, when 
there caine such a voice to him from the excellenf gloiy, This is my beloved 
Son, in whom I am well pleased. 2 Pet. i. 17. He is " The only begotten Son. 
luhich is in the bosom of the Father." John i. 18. Who only knows the Father; 
and none does or can reve-al and make him known but the Son. Matt. xi. 27. John 
i, 18. He beijig the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his per- 
son ; he that hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father, John xiv. 9. Hob. i, 3. 
Which epithets and declarations distinguish him from all other sens ; as much 
as his Father is distinguished from all other fathers. He is mentioned as the 
Son of God above an hundred tiwes \n the New Testament ; and fifiv times by 
the apostle John. And ilie Father of Jesus C'mist, tlie Son, is iv.entioned above 
tyvn hundred and t-weiily timesf and more than or.e hiindied and tl)irt\ times iji 
the gospel and epistles of SU John. Jesus Christ often makfs use of tlie epi- 
thets. The Father, J\I}i Father, &f. This cliiu-acter is represented as essential 
to the Redeemer and peculiar to him, and is an essential article of the christian 
faith. This confession Peter made as the coimnou faith of the disciples oiOhrist. 
'-■\Ve believe, and ai-e sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of tlie llvu-sg God " 



28it> TJ-i£ DOCTKlxVE Ot the TE1NIX5. 

Having enquired into the sense of those scriptures whieh 
treat of the Sonship of Christ, we shall next consider those 
that are generally brought to prove the procession of the Holy 

John vi. 69. MaXi. xvi. 16. This was the Eunuch's faith, required in order t» 
las being baptized. " I believe that Jesus Clirist is the SoJi of God." And he 
who believes with all his heart, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, hath the 
Son, and with him eternal life. When Peter made this coniession, " Thou art 
Christ, the Son of the living- God," Christ said to him, " Blessed art thou ; for 
flesii and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in hea- 
ven." Matt. xvi. 16, 17. " He that believeth on the Son, hath everlastings life, 
and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life." John iii. 36. And Jehn 
says, " Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwel- 
Icth in him, and he in God. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that 
believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ! He that hath the Son, hath life ; and he 
that hath not the Son of God, hath not life. These things have I written unto 
you tliat believe on the name of the Son of God.- that ye may know ye have eternal 
life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Hon of God." 1 John iv. 15. v. 5, 
12, 13. 

It must be farther observed, that this title, the Son of God, is the Mgkest ti' 
tie tliat is given to tlie Kedecnier, and denotes his divinity, or that he is himself 
God, and therefore equal with the Father, if his divinity be any where express- 
ed in the Bible; and that it is there abundantly declared, we have before sheWi- 
ed. He styles himself, and is called jT/je <S'o7i of Man, raoK t\\Jix\ eighty times m 
the New Testament, by which epithet his humanity is more especially denoted, 
but not excluding his divinitj-. And, on the contrary, he is called the Son of 
God, more particularly to express liis infinitely superior character, his divinity 
or godhead. In this \'iew, let the foUotving passages be considered. When the 
angel, who declared to the vu-gin Mary tliat she should be the mother of the Mes- 
si:ih, expressed to her the greatness of this her Son, he does it by saying that 
he should be called the Son of the Uighrst, the Son of God. " He shall be great, 
and shall be called the Son of the Highest. Therefore also that holy thing which 
shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." Luke i. 32, 35. If this 
were not his greatest, his highest title and character, he most certainly would 
have given him a higher, and one that did fully express divinity. This, there- 
fore, did express it in the fullest and strongest manner. And no one, who be- 
lieves in the divinity of Christ, can, consistently, have any doubt of it. And 
when the Father gives him the highest encomium, and recommends him to men, 
as worthy of their highest regards, implicit obedience, and unlimited trust and 
confidence, and commands tliem thus to regard, love, trust in, and obey him, 
this is the highest character he gives him, by which his divinity is expressed, 
" 'I'his is my beloved Sox, in whom I am well pleased : Hear ye him." If this 
does not expi-ess his divinity, we may be sure divinity is no part of his charac- 
ter ; and that he is notGod. So, when Peter undertakes to express the idea he 
had of tlie high and glorious cliai-acter of his lord and Master, he does it in the 
following words, " Thou art the Clii-ist, the Son of the living God." If Peter 
belies cd the divinity of Clirist, he certainly expressed this in tliese words ; for. 
he did not conceive of any higher character, tliat could be given in any other 
words. This also appears by Nathaniel's using this epithet, when he was struck 
with wonder and surprise at the omniscience of Christ. " Rabbi, thou art the 
Son of God, thou ;a-t the King of Israel." John i. 49. When our Lord Jesus 
Christ pro])oscd himself to the man wiirm he had restored to sight, as the pro- 
per object of his taith and trust, he said to him, " Dost thou believe on the Son 
of God .'" And when he told the man that he himself was the person, he said, 
'■ Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him." John ix. 35, 38. It appears fi-om 
tliis, that Son of God was the higliest title which Jesus assumed, and that tliis 
had special reference to, and expressed his divinity ; and therefore in this cha- 
lacter, and as tlie Son of God, this pious man paid him divine honour, and ^\o^- 
■hipped liim. When tlie disciples of our Lord, and ail that were iji the ship with 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 281 

aost; the principal of which, as has been before observed, 
«io ivi John xiv. 26. and chap. xv*. 26. and xvi. 7. in which he 
is said to proceed from the Father^ or to be sent by the Father 

them, !i;id seen lum walking upon the sea, in the midst ot'a ternble storm, and 
reducing' Ihe boisterous winds, and rag'ing waves, to a calm, by his word and 
presence, they were struck with a fresh and affecting conviction of his divinity, 
that lie was (iod, and expressed it by commg to him, falling down and worsliip- 
inghim, " saying, ot'a trutii, thou art the Son of God." Matt. xiv. 33. In which 
words they exjjressed his divinity, and gave a reason for their worshipping him, 
as their Lord and their God, viz. that they were sui'e from clear and abundanr, 
evidence, that he was tlie Son of God. The apostle John, when he Would repre- 
sent .lesus Christ ir his highest and most glorious character, gives him this title, 
and adds, " This is the true God." He says, " We know that the Son of God is 
come, iuid iiath given us an understanding-, that we may know him that is true ; 
And we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. 'I'his is the true God, 
and eteniiJ life." 1 John v. 20. 

It is to be farther observed, that when our Lord said to the Jews, " My Father 
worketh hitherto, and I work," the Jews, therefore sought the more to kill him, 
because he said thut God -was his Father, (his o-mh proper Father, as it is in the ori- 
ginal) MAKtvcf iiiMsiLF Eo.uAL WITH GOD." Tliis IS to bc uudcrslood as the sense 
which St. John the Evangelist puts upon the words of Christ, " My Father work- 
eth hitherto, and 1 work." Yor this was making himself equal with God the 
Fath;;r, as doing the same work with him : And this is i epreseuted as implied in 
God's being Ids own Father ; or in his being the Father's own Son, the Son uf God. 
But if we understand it as the sense which the Jews put upon the words of Christ, 
and ih:it they said this was making himself equal v/ith God, it amounts to the 
same thing; for it appears that their inference was just ; and our Saviour is so far 
froi.'i den} ing it to be true, that in his i-eply to them, he contirms it, and asserts 
that whatsoever the Father does, the Son does the same ; and instances in his 
raising the dead, and judging the world, and having all things, and all jxivver in 
his hands. " That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Fa- 
ther." John V. 13 — 17- Thus he makes the Son equal with the Father. Konce it 
appears that to be the Son of God, and God's own Son, is the same with a divine 
person, and denotes one who is truly God ; and that this title is used to express 
the divinity, rather than the humanity of Jesus Christ. 

Tlie same appears from what passed between our Lord and the Jews at another 
time. He said to them, " I and my Father are One." This, they said, was blas- 
phemy, because being a man, he made himself God. It is jilain from the answer 
which he makes to them that they consideied him xs a blasphemer, because he 
claimed to be the Son of God, by calling God his Father. " Say ye of him whom 
the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou bla.sphemest, because I 
said, I am the. Soti of God?" This was tlie blasphemy with which they charged 
him ; because they considered his saying, that he was the Son of God, by calling 
<^d his Father, as an assertion that lie wa.s God. John x. 30, 33, 36. And it ap- 
pears, not only from this passage, but from others, that tiie Jews, and others, did 
:tffix the idea of divinity to the Son of God, and considered this title as expressing 
a character infinitely above a mere creature. When Jesus was arraigned before 
the Jewish council, the High Priest charged him with the solemnity of an oathj 
saying, " I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us, v hethei- thou be the 
Christ, the Son of the living God." And v.hen Jesus answered in the affirmative, 
he with all the members of the council, charged him with blasphemy ; and pro- 
nounced him worUiy of death for making this claim. Matt. xxvi. 64, 65, 66. And 
they brought this accusation against him to I'ilate^, " We have a law, and by our 
law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When, tlieiefore, 
Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid." John xix. 7, S. By this, it is 
evident that Pilate considered the Son of God, to imply divinity. When the Cen- 
turion, ajid the guard who were with him, saw the earthquake and the other su- 
pernatural events wlilch attended the crucifixion of Jesus Chri'^t, " lliev feared 

Vol. I. N n 



3g2 TlfE UOC TRINE OF THE TRINITT.' 

jH Chrhl^s name, oi- to be sent by the Son. We have alreadj^ 
•considered tlie most commonly received sense hereof, as in-'" 
eluding in it an eternal procession, viz. the communication of 

greatly, saying', Truly this was the Son of God." Matt, xxvii. 54. From this, it is 
evident that they considered the Son (>f God to be more than a man, at least, if 
not really God. 

There was some idea and belief propagated among other nations, as well as the, 
.tews, of an exraordinury personnge, a divinity, who w;is denominated The Son of 
God, and who was to make his ap])earance in the world. To this, Nebuchadnez- 
zar doubtless had reference, when he said, that in a vision, he saw a fourth per- 
son, walking in the midst of the fire of the fuinuce into which he had cast three 
men ; and that none of them had been hurt by the fire ; and the form of the fourth 
•<P-as like the Son of God- Dan. iii. 25. And who but this divine person can be meant 
bv Agur, when he says, " Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? 
Who hath gathered tlie wind in his tists .■' Who hath bound the waters in a gar- 
ment? Who hath established all the ciids of tile earth.' "What is his name, awt/ 
•ii'hat is his Smi's mime, if thou canst tell ?" Prov. xxx. 4. 

This epithet and character we ti?id expressly mentioned by David, the divine- 
]y inspired king of Israel, in the second Psalm. And he is there introduced and 
flescribed, as a dis'inity, who claims divine homage, trust, and worship, as the 
Omnipotent heir, iiossessor and ruler of the world. " I will declare the decree 
'I'he Lord hath said unto me, Thou art MY SON, this day have I begotten thee. 
Ask of mo, and I shall g-ive thee the Jieathen for thine inheritance, and the utter- 
■most parts of tlie eurth for thii poSTiessiov. Thou shalt break them with a rod of 
iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now, there- 
fore, O y^ kings ; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fea^-, 
and rejoice with trembling. Kiss thr. Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from 
the wav, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that pitt their 
trust in him."* From this ancient oracle in Israel, and from a revelation which 
•was made upon the first apostacy, and handed down by tradition, not oilly the 
Jews, but also those of other nations who had any particular connexion with them, 
M'Cre taught to consider the expected Messiah as the Son of God in a peculiai- 
and {.ppropriated sense ; and as implying real divinity. Therefore, it was suppo- 
M-d on all iiands, that this person, the Son of God, the King of Israel, tlie King of 
the Jews, was to be worsliipped as w orthy to receive divine honours. Hence the 
wise men from the East,-being admonished of tlie birth of this glorious personage, 
came to wo'iismr him, to pa} him divine honours ; for which they had a particular 
warr.'iiit, having ha<l him pointed out to them by a stap, M'hich was a known sym- 
bol, or hierogiv])hic of Xht Divinity, or a God. And Herod took it for granted, 
■I liat this person was to be worshipped, and receive divine honours. For he said 
to the wi.'-e men, " W'hen ye have found liim, bring me word again, that 1 may 
come and tvorship him also.''' 

All this will be of no wciglit, indeed, and as nothing with the Anti-trinitai*ians, 
llie Sabellian.'; ; and with all those who deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, the 
Arians and Socinians. But ihey who believe in a Trinity of persons in the Deity,' 
:md that Jesus Christ is (iod, the second person of the Trinity, must be sensible 
that lie is called the Son of God, the Son of the Father, with a special reference 
rohisdi\ Ine nature, and to denote his Godhead, as the .second person in theTrivuie 
<iod. — The A)-ians and Socinians hold that he is the Son of God, considered as a 
juere creature, being by this distinguished from all other creatures ; and coiise- 

• Thi<; is an incontestiMe proof thit the Son is God. even JEHOVAH. The Psalmist often 
;;jivn. " Blepped are they, blci'-cd is the man -wlio trnstelh in tlie Lord." And here he says, Bles- 
.\etl are h11 they who trust in the Son of God, and yet forbids us to put our trust in any Imt God. 
- " Put not vour trust in princes, or in the son of man. in whom there is no help. Happy is he that 
hath the God of Jacoli for his help, whose hope is in the lord his God." Psalm cxlvi. 3. S. An.-; 
he s^vs " My soul, wait thou only upon God ; for my expectation ?s from him.". Psalm l.\ii. 
.<, Tiiev cnlynrc blessed, who trust in God ; and all othe.s are cursed. " Thus saith the Lord. 
<;ursfd be the man that trusteth in man. B'esseJ is the man that trusteth in the Lor<'., and whos? 
hope the Lord is." Jer. }iv-ii. 5, 7. They art bleiscd, who tiubt in the Sun of God. Th.er-t'jr' 
"ift !S ihe Lord. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY, 283 

zlie divine essence, or personality to him, as distinguished frojrt 
the eteraal generation of the Son ; but now \ve shall enquire 
whether there «iay Jiot be another sense given of these scrip- 

quently that there was no Son of" Ciod before tliis creature did exist. The latter, 
op Trinitarians, believe that the sonship ot" Jesus Christ, necessarily includes hi)* 
divinity ; but are not all a^-eed as to die foundation of his sonship, and in what it 
consists. It has been generally believed, aud the common doctrifie of the church 
of Christ, from the beginning of the fourth century, and .so far as appears from the 
jduys of the apostles to this time, that Jesus Christ is the ett-rnal Son of God : That 
his Sonship is essential to him, as the second })erson m the Triuit)-, and that m 
t/iis setise, he is the only begotU'ii Son of the Father, antecedent to his incarnation, 
and independent on it, even from eternity. But theye are some who thuik that 
the Sonship of the Redeemer consists in an union of the sec jnd person of the 
Trinity, or the Word, with the human nature ; and tliat he became the Son oi" 
God b\' becoming man ; and therefore before tlie incarnation, there was no Son of 
God, though there were a Trinity of persoas in the Godhead. This opinion seem.-, 
to be rather gaining ground, and spreading', of late. 

Those on each side of this question diifer in their opinion of the importance of 
-it, and of the bad tendency of either oi'tlicse opposite sentiments. Some suppose 
that the difference is of little or no importance, as both believe the Redeemer to 
be God and man, in one person, and that he is the Son of God, and that this im- 
plies his divinity, though they differ in opinion respecting the time and mannev 
of his fihation. Others think this is a difference so great and irnportant, and at- 
tended with sucli consequences ; and that those wlio are opposed to tliem on thiij 
jjoint embrace such a great and dangerous error, that they ought to be strenuous- 
ly opposed : iind consequently do not desire an accommodation, or think it pos- 
sible. 

Though it be needless and improper here to undertake the labour of entering* 
into all the arguments which have been produced, or may be mentioned in sup- 
port of each side of this question ; yet tlje foUowhig observations may not be al- 
together useless ; but may be of son)e help to form a judgment upon this point, 
agreeable to the scriptures. 

1. As this question respects the character of the Redeemer, it may justly be 
considered as an important one ; as every thing relating to his cliiu-acter is very 
Important and interesting. ^Vho would be willing tu be found at last taking the 
wrong side of this question; and always to have enlertamed so unbecoming ideas 
and conceptitms of the Redeemer, wliich his must be, if on this point he embra- 
ces and contends for that which is directly contrary to the truth ? Though sucli 
an error should not be fatal to him who embraces it, but be consistent with hi.s 
being a real christian ; yet it must be a very criminal mistake, and dishqnourabltj 
to Jesus Clu'ist; aa eveiy idea of him must be, whici) is contrary to hi.s true cha- 
racter : P'or that is so perfect and glorious, that nothing can be tak'.-n from it, or 
added to it, which will not mar and disiionom- it. His character, as it res])ect>* 
the question before us, is without doubt properly and clearly stated in divine reve- 
lation, and if we embrace that whicii is contrary to the truth, it must be wholiv our 
own fault, and a very criminal abuse of the advantages which we enjoy, to (enow 
the only true God, and Jesus Christ his Son, whom he ha.'; sent. Those considern- 
tions ought to awaken our attention to this subject, and excite a coneeru and 
earnest desire to know and embrace the truth; which will be attentled with u 
modest, humble, diligent enquiry, sensiljle of the danger in which we are, througii 
pi-ejudice, or from otiier causes, of embracing error ; and earnestly looking to tiie 
great Prophet to lead us into the truth. 

2. Wliat lias been observed above, and, it is believed, made evident, viz. that 
the term. Son of God, so often given to (Jlirist, is u.sed to denote his divine nature, 
:ind to express his divinity, rather than his humanity, seem: naturally, if not ne- 
cessarily, to lead us to consider this chanicter as belonging to him independent 
of his union to the human nature, and antecedent to his becoming man ; and iherc- 
ibre, that it belongs to him as God, i lie sccoinl person in ti>c Triiii'-}'. Fo.i- if }.),< 



284 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITX- 

tures, agreeable to the analogy of faith, that may be acqiksced 
in b}^ those, who cannot so well understand, or account for, 
the common sense given thereof, which, I humbly conceive, is 

sonship consists in his union to the human nature, and he became a son, only by 
becoming- a man ; then this character depends wholly upon this union, and is de- 
rived fiom his being made flesh : Therefore this epithet could not be properly 
used to denote Ms divinity, independent of his l^umanity, or what he is as a divine 
person, antecedent to his incarnation ; or to express his divine, rather than his 
human nature. And Son of God, wovdd be no higher a character, and express no 
more than Son of man ; which is contrary to the idea which the scripture gives 
us on this head, as has been shown. 

This may, perhaps, be in some measure illustrated by the following instance. 
The son of a nobleman of the first jionour and dignity, came from Europe, and 
married the daughter of a plebian in America, by which he became his son : But 
as his honoQr and dignity did not con.sist in his marrying this woman, or in his 
being the son of the plebian, by this union with liis daughter, but in his original 
character; no man thought of expressing his highest and most dignified chiiracter 
by which he was worthy of the greatest respect, by using an epitliet wliich de- 
noted only his union to thui woman, and which w ;is not applicable to him in any 
other view ; oi- by calling him soji, as expressing this new relation : But the high- 
est title whicli the}^ gave him, was that which had a .speoal respect to, and ex- 
pressed his original character, wliich he sustained antecedent to this union ; and 
in which his highest dignity consisted. And he being the son of a nobleman and 
a lord, in which ail his honour and dignity did consist, they used this phrase. 
My noble Lord, to express theii' highest respect, and his most worthy character. 
This epithet was always used to express his original and highest character and 
relation, and could not, with proj^riety, be used to express any thing else. He 
was often called, indeed, the son of the plebian, when they designed particulai'ly 
to express his union to his v ife, and speak of him as standing in this relation. 

3. The Son of God is spoken of in many instances, if not in every one where 
this term is used, so as will naturally lead the reader to consider him as sustain- 
ing this character and relation antecedent to his incamation, and independent of 
jt. '* God so loved the world tliat he gave his only begotte^i Son." John iii. 16. Do 
not these words seem to express this idea, viz. that there existed an only begot- 
ten son, antecedent to his being gi^ en ; that God gave this his Son to the world 
by his becoming flesh, and being united to the human nature; and not that he 
became his Son by this union f " In this was manifested the love of God towards 
lis, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the -world, that we might live 
through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, andsevt 
his Son to be a propitiation for our sins." 1 John iv. 9, 10. If God sent his only be- 
gotten Son into the world, does not tliis suppose he had a Son to send, antecedent 
to his sending him ; and that he did not become his Son by his sending him into 
the world, or only in consequence of this ! This is expressed in the same manner 
ijy St. Paul. " But when the fulness of time was come God se7it forth his So7i, 
made of a woman, made under the law." Gal. iv. 4. The Son was sent forth. Does 
not this seem at least to imply that there was a Son to be sent fortii luitecedent to 
las being made of a wom:ui, and tliat he was not made a Son, by being made of a 
woman or becoming man? " No man hatli seen God at any time : The only be- 
flatten Son -ivlilch is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." Jolm i. 18. 
Do not these words naturally lead us to conceive of the only begotten. Son as 
existing in the nearest union with the Father as his Son, independent of tlie hu- 
man nature .■' 

It is said, " God -ims manifested in the fcsh.". lT\m. iii. 16. It would be unnatu- 
ral and absurd to suppose, from this exi)ression, that Jesus Christ was not God, 
antecedent to his being manifested in the flesh, and that by his becoming man, 
he became a God. Directly the contrary to tliis is asserted, viz. that he who is 
God from eternity, did in time appear in tlie human nature, and manifested him- 
self to be God, independent of the flesh, in which he appeared. It is also sait-i_. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 28j 

t'nis : that the Sph-it is considered not with respect to the man- 
ner of his subsisting, but with respect to the subserviency of his 
acting, to set forth the Mediator's glory, and that of the Fa- 

" For this purpose, the Son of God loas manifested, that he might destroy tlie 
work-; of the devil." 1 John iii. 8. These two p;iss:ig-es appear to be parallel. 
God Tnunitesied in the fiesli, and the Son of God munifested, are two expressions 
of the same Viung. From this it may be inferred, that the Son of God, and God, 
are synonymous here, and of the same import. This serves'to confirm what has 
been said abo\'e of the use and meaning of the term, Son of God. And may it 
not with equal certainty be interred from these two passages, compared toge- 
ther, that the Son of God existetl iu this character as the Son of God, antecedent 
to his manifestation in the flesh, and independent of it ; and that he did not be- 
come the Son of God by being made flesh.'' If God be manifested in the flesh, 
tliere must be a God to be manifested antecedent to such a manifestation, and 
indejiendent of it. And is it not equally certain that if the Son of God be mani- 
fested, he must have existed the Son of God, antecedent to such manifestation, 
and independent of it > Consequently he did not become the Son of God by hL^ 
beh)g manifested in the flesh : His Sonship does not consist in the union of thr 
divine and iiuman natures in one person. His personality existed before this 
union with the human nature; and he was the Son of God before this: Thi.ssame 
Son of God, this same person who existed without beghming, assumed the hu- 
man nature, not a human person, into a union with himself, his own person, and 
so appeared, was manifested in the flesh. 

When David speaks of tlie Son of God, and represents the Father as saying, 
" Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee," so long before his incarna- 
tion, the idea which most naturally arises in the mind from this is, that there 
was then such a person as the Son, who did at that time declare the decree, by 
the mouth of David ; and not, that there should in some future time be a Son 
begotten, who sliould then declare the decree. " I will declare the decree : The 
Lord said unto me, thou ai"t my Son, this day have I begotten thee." It is very 
unnatural, and contrary to all proprietj' of speech to suppose, " this day have I 
begotten thee," means I will beget thee in some future time; and that the Son 
should be made to declare the decree, long before any such person existed ; and 
when there was in fact no such Son. The decree which the Son declares is not 
that declaration, " Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee ;" but what 
follows, " ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and 
the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with 
a rod of iron, &c." " This day " that is, noiu, not in time which is passed, or 
which is to come ; for with God there is no succession, no time passed or to 
come ; but lie exists, as we may s^y, in one eternal, unsuccessive now. There- 
fore, when we speak of an eternal/ immanent ;ict, it is most properly expressed 
thus, " This d"y, or now, have I'begotten thee." This therefore is the sense in 
which the best divines have generally understood it. 

St. Pavd cites this passage as being illustrated and verified in the resurrection 
of .Jesus Christ. Acts xiii. o3. But he cannot mean that he by the resurrection 
became the Son of God, and was then begotten : for he had this title before that. 
His meaning is explained by himself in his epistle to the Romans. "Declared 
to be the Son of God by the i*esurrection fj-om the dead." Kom. i. 4. That is 
tliis was a fresh and open manifestation and declaration that he was indeed what, 
had been often asserted of him, and what he always was : The only begotten Son 
of God. 

What tlie angel said to the virgin Mary, " He shall be gi'eat, and shall be call- 
id the Son of the Highest — The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power 
of the Highest shall ovcr.shadow thee : therefore also that holy thing which shall 
:)e born of thee, shall be called the Son of God," cannot reasonably be understood 
as a declaration tliat his sonship consisted In his miraculous conception, or in the 
Tiion of thf second person of the Trinity with tlie human nature, tJius conceivecr- 
ihi* ^iia*^ 'rM clvild, conceived in tliis manner, and born of a virgin, should 



286 IHE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

ther that sent him. I chuse to call it a subserviency of acting, 
without connoting any inferiority in the agent ; or if we sup-r 
pose that it argues any inferiority in the Holy Spirit, this is, 



appear, and be known to be the Son of God, that very person who had been spo- 
ken ofiind known in all past ages by this title; of whom Isaiah had particularly 
spoken, when l\e said, " Beliold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall 
rail his name Immanuei. Unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be 
upon his shoulder : And his name shall be called. Wonderful, Counsellor, the 
mighty God :" Isaiah vii. 14. ix. 6. That this Son was now to be born of the virgin 
-Mary : the long expected Messiah, who is considered and spoken of by the peo- 
ple of God, by the title of the Son of God, which title he shall bear, as he is in- 
deed the mighty God. 

We are naturally lead to consider the Son of God as existing in this character 
before his incarnation, and the same with the Word, by what is said of him i»] 
the first chapter of John. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; 
and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father. No man hath seen 
God at any time. The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, 
he hath declared him. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, this was he 
of whom I spake, he that cometh after me, is preferred before me: For fie 7vas 
before me. And I saw, and bear record that this is the Son of God." Here John 
is represented as asserting that the Son of God, concerning whom he bore wit- 
ness, did exist /;(»/or(5 /jm, which therefore must be before his incarnation; for 
John was conceived before the incarnation of Jesus. But how can this be true, 
if there were no Son of God, before John existed ? But if we consider the Word 
and the Son of God as synonymous, who was in the beginning witli God, and 
who was God, and created all things, this whole chapter will be plain and easy 
to be understood ; and we shall see John bearing witness to the Son of God, who 
existed before him in this cliaractcr, and was now come in the flesh. 

We find the same representation made in the epistle to the Hebrews. " God, 
who spake in time past imto tlie fathers, by the prophets, hath in these last days 
spoken unto us by his Son, whom lie hath appointed heir of all things ; by ivhom 
iiho he made the itiorlds. Who being tlie brightness of his glory, and the express 
image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his po'wer" &c. How 
could God make the worlds by his Son, four thousand years before he had a Son ; 
and on this supposition, w-liere is the propriety or truth of this assertion .i" And 
how could the Son be said to uphold all things by the word of his power, thou- 
sands of years before any Son existed? " And again, rvhen he bringeth the first 
begotten into the -world, "he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." 
Tills expression naturally suggests tlie idea that God the Father had a first-be- 
gotten Son to bring into the world, whom he commanded the angels to worship. 
How can he be said to bring his first begotten Son into the ivorld, when he had 
no such Son to bring into the world ; and indeed never did bring- this his Son in^ 
«•,» the world, if he was begotten and received his sonship in this vorld, when he 
took the human nature in the womb of the virgin, and was not a son before ? 

Again, speaking of Melchi.sedec, he says, he was " Without father, without 
mother, M'i'tliout descent, having neither beginmng of diws, nor end of life ; but 
made like unto the Son of God." Heb. vii. 3. If there were no Son of God till the 
human nature of Christ existed, then the Son of God did begin to exist; conse- 
quently there was a beginning of his days; and Melchisedec was not made like 
him, but ?^«//X-e to him, by having no beginning of days. 

Since there are so many passages of scripture, (and there are many more than 
have now been mentioned) which seem to represent the Redeemer as the Son of 
(lod, antecedent to his incarns.tion, and independent of it, which will naturally 
lead those who attend to them to this idea of him; and some of them cannot be 
easily reconciled to the contrary opiiiion; this will folly account for the general- 
Iv received doctrine in the christian world from the earliest ages to this time, 
viz. TbattiieRe^ecixierofm.anisthe second person in the Trinity, the eterna' 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 287" 

<tnly an inferiority in acting, as the works that he does are sub- 
servient to the glory of the Mediator, and of the Father, 
though his divine personality is, in all respects, equal with 

Son of God, who in the fulness of time was made flesh, by a personal union with 
the human nature. 

4. It is worthy of consideration, whether the contrary opinion, viz. That the 
|tedecmer is the Son of God, only by the second person in the Trinity being' uni- 
ted to human nature, and becoming man, does not naturally lead to dangerous 
;-.ud evil consequences ; and wliat good end is to be answered by it ? If it be not 
agi'ceable to scripture, we know it must be dangerous and hurtful in a greater 
or less degree, (as all errors respecting the person and character of the Re- 
deemer are) and naturally tends to lead into other mistakes, still greater, and 
of worse consequence. And if it be agreeable to scripture, it cei-tamly has no 
bad tendency. If, thei'efore, it does appeal- i'rom reasoning upon it, or from fact 
;ind experience; that this opinion tends to evil consequences, and has a bad ef- 
fect; we may safely conclude tliat it is wrong, and contrary to divine revelation 

1. Does not this sentiment tcJid to lower our ideas of the Redeemer, and lead 
into a way of thinking less honourably of him ? It has been observed that it ap- 
peal's from scripture, that this title, Son of God, was used to express the high- 
<-st and most honoiu'alile idea which Lis friends had of his person and charactci' 
But if we imderstand b)- it, nothing but what takes place by his union toman, 
by taking flesh upon him, and consider it as signifying nothing but what took 
place by bis becoming* man, nothing is expressed by it moi-e than by So7i of man- 
And \\ are left without any epithet or common scriptui-e phrase, whei'eby to ex- 
press tlie divinity, the Godhead of the Redeemer, and his equality with the Fa- 
tlier. Thus, instead of raising our conceptions of the Redeemer, does it not 
tend to sink them ? Does not tiie sonship of Christ become an infinitely less and 
more inconsiderable matter, upon this plan, tban that whicli has always been 
esteemed the orthodox sentiment on this point, which considers his sonship, as 
wholly independent of the whole creation, as eternal, ;uid akogether divine ? 

We live in an age when the enemies of the Redeemer lift up their hes:ds,' and 
ure suffered to multiply and prevail. The deists attempt to cast him out as aa 
nnpostor. Arians and Socinians strip him of his divinity : And tlie careless, igno- 
rant, immoral and profane, treat him with contem])t, or neglect. 'I'his is agiee- 
able to his great enemy, Satan ; who seeuis now to be let loose in an unusual de- 
gree, and has uncommon power among men, to lead them into gross errors, and 
those especially which are dishonourable to Christ, and injurious to his character. 
And if this sentiment now under consideration, concerning the Sonship of the 
Redeemer, should spread and prevail noiu, this would be no evidence ui favom* ot" 
it; but, considering what has been now obsei-ved, concerning it, would it not give 
reason to suspect, at least, that it is dishonourable to the Son of God, and leads 
to other errors 3 et more dishonourable to him ? 

'I'his leads to observe, 

2. It is worthy of consideration, wliether this doctrine of the filiation of Jesus 
Christ, does not tend to reject the doctrine of the Trinity, as it has been held by 
tJiosc who liave been called the ortliodox in the christian church, and leads to 
what is called Sabelliiuiism ; which considers the Deity as but one person, and to 
be three only out of respect to the different manner or kind of his operations. , 

This notion of the Sonship of Christ, leads to suppose that the Deity is the P"a- 
iher of the Mediatf)r, without distinction of persons ; and tliat by Father so often 
jiientioned in the Xtw Testament, and generally in relation to the Son is com- 
nioiilv, if not always, meant Deity, without distinction of persons. If this be so, 
it tends to exclude all distinction of persons in God, and to make the personality 
of the Redeemer to consist wholly in the human nature ; and finally, to m;dce his 
union with Ddty no more, but the same which Arians and Socinians admit, viz 
tli£ same which takes place between God and good men in general ; but in a high' 
er and peculiar deglec. 



288 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

theirs. This explication of these texts, is allowed of by many, 
if not by most, of those v/ho defend the doctrine of the Trinity, 
notwithstanding their maintaining another notion of the Spirit's 



But if there be no tendency in this doctrine of the sonship of Christ, to tlie 
consequences which have been now mentioned ; and it can be made evident that 
none of those supposed evils do attend it, or can follow from it ; yet it remains 
to be considered lohat advantage attends it, and the good ends it will answer, if 
it were admitted to be true. None will say, it is presumed, that it is more agree- 
able to the general expressions of scripture relating to this point, than the oppo- 
site doctrine ; who well considers what has been observed above. The most that 
any one can with justice say with resjiect to this is, that the scri])ture may be so 
construed and understood, as to be consistent with the sonship of Christ, com- 
mencing at the incarnation, however inconsistent with it some passages may ap- 
pear at first view. 

It may be thought, perhaps, that this notion of the sonship of the Redeemer is 
attended with two advantages, if not with more, viz. It frees the doctrine of the 
Trinity from that which is perfectly incomprehensible, and appears a real contra- 
diction and absurdity; that the second person should be Son of the first, who is 
the Father ; the Son being begotten by the Fatlier from eternity ; than which 
nothing can be more inconceivable, and seemingly absurd. And this appears in- 
consistent with the second person being- equal with the first; for a son begotten 
of a father, implies inf^^riority, and that he exists after his father, and consequent- 
ly begins to exist, and is dependent. Both these difficulties are wholl) avoided, 
it AS thought, by supposing that the second person in the Trinity became a son by 
being united to the human nature, and begotten in the womb of the virgin. And 
it is probable that these supposed advantages have recommended this scheme of 
the Sonship of Christ, to those who embrace it, and led them to reject the com- 
monly reecived opinion ; and not a previous conviction that the former is most 
agreeable to the scripture. This therefore demands our serious and candid at- 
tention. And the following things may be observed upon it. 

1. If we exclude every thing from our creed; concerning God, his existence, 
and the manner of his existence, which to us is incomprehensible and unac- 
countable, we must reject the doctrine of the Trinity in unity, and even of the 
existence of a God. The doctrine of three persons in one God is wholly incon- 
ceivable by us, and Unitarians consider it as the greatest contradiction and ab- 
surdity imaginable. And tliose Trinitarians, who have undertaken to explain it, 
and make it more intelligible, have generally failed of giving any light ; but have 
really made it absurd and even ridiculous, by " darkening counsel by word;^ 
without knowledge." If we reasoned properly on the matter, we should expect 
to find hi a levelation which God has made of himself, his being and manner of 
subsistence, mysteries which we can by no means understand, which ai"e to crea- 
tures wonderful, and wholly unaccountable. For the being of God, and the 
manner of his existence, and of his subsisting, must be infinitely above our com- 
prehension : God is infinitely great, and we know him not. And if we attempt to 
-search out these mysteries by reason, we are prone to think they are contradic- 
tions and absurdities, merely because our reason cannot fethom them ; and they 
appeal- more unintelligible, the more we try to understand them. " Canst thou 
by searching find out God ? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection .' It 
is as liigh as heaven, what canst tliou dor Deeper than hell, what canst tliou know? 
The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea." Job ii. 
7, 8, 9. " Teach us what we sliall say unto him, (and what we shall say concern- 
ing him ;) for we cannot order our speech by reason of dai'kness. Shall it be 
told him that I ipeak ?" and attempt to comprehend and explain the mysteries 
that relate to his existence ? " If a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up." 
Job xxxvii. 19, 20. If a man undertake thus to speak, instead of giving any light, 
he will be involved and overwhelmed in impenetrable darkness. 

They, therefore, who do not believe the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ, be- 
cause it i'- invsterioiis and incomprehensible, and to some it appears to be, ti til 



TftE DOCTRINE OF THE TRIXITY. 2S9 

pvocession from the Father and the Son, from all eternity, in 
the sense before considered. I need only refer to that expli- 
cation which a great und learned divine gives of these, and 

■■" ■ ■ ' ~ ' ' ■ .. - — 

of contradiction, will, li" they be consistent with themselves, for the same rca- 
son, reject the doctrine ofa Trinily of persons m one God.* 

2. 'If the <loctrine of the eternal jjeneration and son^hip of the second person In 
the Trinity be soberly and modesUy considered in the light of the foregoing ob- 
servation, and with a proper sense of our own darkness and infinite inferiority to 
the divine Being, and how little we can knosvofhim; we shall not be forward 
to pronounce it inconsistent with reason, and absurd ; but be convinced, that to 
do thus, is very bold and assuming; and that it may be consistent and true, not- 
witlistanding any thing we may know ; though it be mysterious tmd incompre- 
hensible. Tills is a divine generation, infinitely above any thing that takes place 
among creatures, and infinitely diflei-ent. It is that of which we can have no 
adequate idea, and is infinitely out of our reach. What incompetent judges are 
we then of this matter ? What right or ability have we to pronounce it absurd 
or inconsistent, when we have no capacity to know or determine what is true, 
consistent, or inconsistent in this high point, any farther than Gud li;is been 
pleased to reveal it to us .-' There may be innumerable mysteries in the existeiice 
and niimner of subsistence of the infinite Being, which are, and must be, incom- 
prehensible, by a finite understanding. God has been pleased, for wise ends, to 
reveal tliat of the Trinity, and this of the eternal generation and sonship of the 
second person : And he has done it in a manner, uiid m words best suitetl to con- 
vey those ideas of it to men, which it is necessary they should have : And we 
ought to receive it with meekness and implicit submission, using our reason in 
excluding every thing which is contrary to, or below infinite jiertection, and ab- 
solute independence; without pretending to comprehend it, or to be able to 
judge of that which is infinitely high and divine, by that which takes place among 
creatures, with respect to generation, and father and son. 

God is said in scripture, to repent and be gi'ieved at his heart; to be angry, 
and to have his fury to come up in Ins face ; and hands, feet, eyes, mouth, lips 
and tongue, &c. are ascribed to him. These words are designed and suited to 
convey useful ideas, and important instruction to men. But if we should under- 
stand these expression as meaning the same tiling in the Divine Being, that tlicy 
do when applied to men; we must entertain very unwortliy, and most absui'd 
notions of God, and waoily inconsistent with other declarations in the sacred 
Oracles. But if we exclude eveiy tiling that is human, or that implies any change 
or imperfection from these expressioiiii when applied to the Deity, tiiey will con- 
vey nothing absurd or inconsistent, or that is unworthy of God. And it will 
doubtless be equally so in the cas^ before us ; if it be constantly kept in mind 
that the only begotten Son of God denotes nothing human, but is infinitely above 
any thing wliich relates to natural, or creature generation, and does not include 
any beginning, ciiange, dependence, inferiority, or imperfection. I'his will ef- 
fectually exclude all real absurdity and contradiction. 

It will be asked, perhaps, when all this is excluded from our ideas of genera- 
tion, of Father and Son, what idea will remain in our minds, which is conveyed 
by these words .' Will they not be without any signification to us, and altogether 
u.seless? To this, Iho following answer may be given: From wliat is reveided 
concerning this high :uid incomprehensible mj'sterj', we learn, that in the ex- 
istence of the Deity, Uiere is that which is high above our thoughts, as the hea- 
vens ai"e above tiie earth, hifinitely beyond our conception, and different from 
any thing which takes place among creatures, wlilch is a foundation of a per- 

• It has been lefoie observed, that the denial of the eternal jonshii) of Christ seemed to 
have a tendency to a rejection of the doctrine of the 'trinity; aiid in what way. But v.'liat is 
here observed, sliews how the denial of the former tends, another ■iu.i>. to the reiectiDn of the 
latter. For if the former be rejecad, because it is inconijirehensible, and appears iiiconsislent, it 
may be expected that when the doctrine of the Trinity is more p.uticularly considered, it will 
-appear equally unintelligible; and therefore be rejected, for the same reason. Is it nut ^>rob:i- 
ble, that Salieilius, the ancient Ajiti-triuitariaii, was in this uav led to give up the doctrine ut' 
the Trinity ? 

Vol.. I. g 



290 *rHE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

Such like texts, notwithstanding his adhering, in other respectal^ 
to the common mode of speaking, relating to the eternal gene- 
ration of the Son^ and procession of the Holy Ghost. HiB 

soiial (liatinction, as. real and great as that between father and son among men, 
and Intinitely more perfect : which distinction may be in the best manner con- 
veyed to us by Father and Son, to express the most perfect union and equali- 
ty ; that the Sort is the brightness of the Father's glor}', and the express image of 
his person, and that there is mfinite love and endeannent between them ; and that 
in the economy of the work of redemption, the Son is obedient to the Father, &c. 
All thisj and much more, our minds are capable of conceiving from what is re- 
vealed on this high and important subject ; which is suited to impress our hearts 
with a sense of tlie incomprehensible, infinite, adorable perfection and glory of 
the Father and the Son ; and is necessary in ord^r to give us a right understand- 
ing of the gospel ; of the true character of the Redeemer, and of the work of re- 
demption 

What has been now said under this second particular, may serve to remove the 
other supposed difficulty in admitting the eternal filiation of the second person in 
the Trinity, ViZ. that it represents the Son as inferior to the Father, and as exist- 
ing after him, and therefore his existence had a beginning. This is obviated by 
the above obsCi'vations ; and particulax-ly by this, that it is a divine fliation, and 
therefore infinitely unlike that whicli is human ; and above our comprehension. 
Bewides, to suppose eternal generation admits of before or after, or of a begin- 
ning, is inconsistent. It rnay be further observed, 

3. That the opinion that Jgsus Christ is the first and only begotten Son of God, 
by the second person in the Trinity becoming incarnate, and miited to the human 
nature, is, periiaps, attended with as gi-eat difliculties as the other which has been 
considered, if not greater. If so, the inducement to embrace it, and reject tlie 
other, which we are examining, wholly ceases. 

If the Son was begotten by the miraculous formationof the human nature ; then 
the Holy Ghost begot the Son and is the Father, as much as the first person in the 
Trinity. For the angel said to the virgin, " The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, 
and tht- power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also tliat holy 
thing whicli shall be born of thee, sliall be calledthe Son of God." If we take these 
words as referring only to the production of the human nature, and if it be granted 
that by the highest, is meant the first person in the Trinity, of which there does 
ho> appear to be any evidence, yet the third person, the Holy Ghost, is repre- 
sented as doing as much, and being- as active in this production as the first per- 
son. But if this were no difhcuity, and the first person of the Trinity be suppo- 
sed to produce the human nature, and in this sense to be the Father of Jesus 
Christ ; yet this will make him his Father in no other and higher sense than he 
is the Father of angels, and of /Vdam ; and JeSus Christ will be the Son of God in 
no other, or higher sense than they; for they were created and formed in an eX; 
traO''dinary, mii-aculous way. 

11" the Son was begotten by unitmg the second person of the Trinity with the hu- 
man nature, and 'die filiation of the Son is supposed to consist wholly in being thus 
united io man ; this is attended with the following difficulties, as gi-eat, perhaps, 
if not greater, than those which attend the eternal Sonship of the second person. 

1. Til is is as different in nature and kind from natural or creature generation, 
as eternal divine generation ; and the one bears no analogy or likeness to the other. 

2. This union of God with the '.reature so as to become one person, is as mys- 
terious :ind incomprelien.sible, as the eternal Sonship of the second person of the 
Trinity! and as inexplicable: so that notliing is gained with respect to this, by- 
embraciiig- tliis scheme. 

3. Ic is not agreeable to scripture to suppose that the first per? on of the Trini- 
ty only, united the second person to the human nature, and so became a Father 
by thus beget ling a Son. The third person, the Holy Ghost, is represented as 
doing this, ot- at least, being active In it; and there is nothing expressly said of 
the first person doing any thing respecting it as such. " The Holy Ghost shail 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 291 

words are these * : " All that discourse which we have of the 
i-^ mission, and sending of the Holy Gijost, and hib proceeding 
*^ and coming forth from the Father and Son, for the ends 
" specified, John xiv. 26. and xv. 26. .md xvi. 7, 13. concerns 
*< not at all the eternal procession oi the Holy Ghost irom the 
'^ Father and Son, as to his diatinct p; rsonahty and subsistance, 
'•' but belongs to that ceconomy, or dispensation of the ministry, 
*^ that the whole Trinity proceedeth in, for the accomplishment 
" of the work of our salvation." 

Now if these scriptures, which are the chief in ail the New 
Testament, on which this doctrine is founded, are to be taken 
in this sense, how shall we find a suflicient proof, from other 
scriptures, of the procession of the Holy Ghost in any other 
sense ? Therefore, that we may farther explain this doctrine, 
let us consider, that whatever the Son, as Mediator, has pur- 
chased, as being sent by the Father for that end, is applied by 
the Holy Ghost, who therefore acts in subserviency to therri. 
This is generally called, by divines, the oeconprny of persons 
in the Godhead, which, because it is a word that we often use, 
when we consider the distinct works of the Father, Son, and 
Spirit, in their respective subserviency to one another, we shall 
take occasion briefly to explain, and shew how it may be ap- 
plied to them in that respect without inferring any inferiority 
as to what concerns their Personal glory. We shall say nothing 
concerning the derivation, or use, of the word oeconomy^ 
though we cannot forbear to mention^ with indignation, the 
sense which some of the opposers of the blessed Trinity have 
given of it, while laying aside all the rules of decency and re- 
verence, which this sacred mystery calls for, they represent 
us, as speaking of the family-government of the divine Per- 

* St^e Dr. Oiuen agahist Biddle,p. 362. 

come upon thee, and the pow^r of the Highest bhiill overshadow thee : therefore 
also, that holy thing which shall be bonrot thee, shall be called the Son of God." 
*' Now the birth ofJe.siis Chi-ist was on this wise. When his mother, Mar)-, was 
espoused to Joseph, before they came tfjgetliyr, siie 7uas found -with child of the 
Huly Ghost." And the- angel of the Lord sud unlo Joseph, " Fear not to take 
vinto thee Mary thy wife : For that -which is conceived iri her is of the Holy Ghost." 
Matt. i. 18, 20. And this uniting the divine nature with the human, is expressly 
ascribed, not to the first, but to llie second p-rson. " tor as much as the children 
are partakers of flesii and blood, he also himself took part of tiie >.anie. For veri- 
ly he took not on him the natui'e of angels ; but he took on kivi the seed of Abraham." 
Heb. ii. 14, 16. Do not they speak not only without scripture, but contrary to it, 
vi'ho say th.it the first person of the Trinity became a Father by imiting the se- 
cond person to the human nature, in the womb of the virgin Marv ; by w hich the 
latter became the only begotten Son of the Father ? That tlie relation oi Father 
and Son began in the incarnation of Christ, and consists wholly ni this .'' And do 
they by this supposition avoid any difficulty, and render the filiation of tlie Ile- 
''.ecmer more consistent, intelligible, or honourable to Imn .'' Let the thoughtful^ 
undid discevninij reader judge." 

Hopkins, 



292 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

sons, which is the most invidious sense they could put upon 
the word, and most remote from our design in the use of it^ 
NoN\r that we may explain and apply it to our present purpose, 
let it be considered, 

1. That all those works, which are the effects of the divine 
power, or sovereign will, are performed by ail the Persons in 
the Godhead, and attributed to them in scripture ; the reason 
wlnsrtcf is very evident, namely, because the power and will 
of God, and all other divine perfections, belong equally, and 
alike, to the Father, Son, and Spirit : if therefore that which 
produces these effects belongs to them, then the effects produ- 
ced must be equally ascribed to them ; so that the Father is 
no more said to create and govern the world, or to be the au- 
thor of all grace, and the fountain of blessedness, than the Son 
and Spirit. 

2. Nevertheless, since tlie Father, Son, and Spirit, are dis- 
tinct Persons, and so have distinct personal considerations in 
acting, it is necessary that their personal glory should be de- 
monstrated, or made known to us, that our faith and worship 
may be fixed on, and directed to them, in a distinct manner, 
as founded thereon. 

3. This distinction of the Persons in the Godhead cannot be 
known, as their eternal power or Deity is said to be, by the 
works of creation and providence, it being a doctrine of pure 
revelation ; therefore, 

4. We are given to understand, in scripture, when it treats 
of the great work of our salvation, that it is attributed first to 
the Father, then to the Son, as Mediator, receiving a commis- 
sion from him to redeem and save his people, and then to the 
Holy Ghost, acting in subserviency thereunto ; this is what 
we arc to understand when we speak of the distinct ceconomy of 
the Father, Son, and Spirit, which' I cannot better express 
than by considering of it as a divine determination, that the 
personal gloiy of the Father, Son, and Spirit, should be de- 
monstrated in such a way. Now, to instance in some particu- 
lar acts, or works ,• when a divine Person is represented in 
scripture as doing, or determining to do, any thing relating to 
the work of our redemption, or salvation, by another divine 
Person, who must, for that reason, be considered herein, as 
Mediator, it is to be understood of the Father, in this cecono- 
mic sense, inasmuch as, by this means, he demonstrates his 
personal glory : thus it is said, Eph. i. 4, 5. He^ i. e. the Fa- 
ther, hath chosen us in him^ nameh-, the Son ; and he is said to 
have predestinated us unto the adoption of children by yesufi 

' Christ. Though election and predestination are also applied 
to the Son and Spirit, when they have another reference cor- 
responding with the demonstration of their personal glory, yet, 



TflE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 293 

ill this place, they are only applied to the Father. And there 
are several other scriptures, in which things done are particu- 
larly applied to the P'avher for the same reason. Thus, 2 Cor. 
V. 18, 19. it is said, God hath recoficiiedus to himself by Jesus 
Christy and that he was hi Christy reconcilhig the xvorld to him- 
self; and, in 1 Cor. i. 30. it is said, Of him., namely the Fa- 
ther, are ye in Christ Jesus., xvho of God., that is, the Father, 
is made unto us wisdom., &c. in which, and several other scrip- 
tures to the same purpose, the Father is, in a peculiar manner, 
intended, because considered, as no other divine person is, as 
acting by the Mediator, or as glorifying the perfections of the 
divine nature, which belong to him, by what this great Me- 
diator did by his appointment. 

Moreover when a divine Person is considered as acting in 
subserviency to the Father's glory, or executing a commission 
relating to the work of redemption, Avhich he had received 
from him, and accordingly performing any act of obedience in 
an human nature assumed by bim for that purpose, this is pe- 
culiarly applied to, and designed to demonstrate the Son's 
Personal character, as belonging to no other Person in the God- 
head but him. Of this we have several instances in scripture ; 
thu^ though to judge the world be a branch of the divine glory, 
which is common to all the Persons in the Godhead ; yet there 
are some circumstances in the character of a divine Person in 
particular, who is denominated as Judge of quick and dead, 
that are applicable to none but the Son ; and so we are to un~ 
derstand that scripture, John v. 22. The Father judgeth no many 
but hath committed all judgment unto the So7i ; that is, the Son 
is the only Person in the Godhead who displays his Mediato- 
-riai character and glorv% as the Judge of the whole world; 
yet when there is another personal character ascribed to God, 
as the Judge of all; or when he is said to Judge the xuorld in 
righteousness., by that Man., to wit, our Lord Jesus, whom he 
hath ordained., as in Acts xvii. 31. then this personal character 
determines it to belong to the Father. 

Again, to give eternal life is a divine prerogative, and con- 
sequently belongs to all the Persons in the Godhead ; yet when 
a divine Person is said to give eternal life to a people, that 
were given to him for that purpose, and to have received pow- 
er, or authority, from another, to confer this privilege as Me- 
diator, then it is peculiarly applied to the Son : thus John xvii. 
2. Thou hast given hi?n power over all flesh., that he should 
give eternal life to as mayiy as thou hast given him. 

Moreover, when a divine Person is said to do any thing in 
subserviency to the Mediator ; or, as it is said, in John xvi. 
14. He shall glorify me ; for he shall receive of mine., and shall 
shexi} H unto vou, this h peculiarly applied to the Spirit. So 



a94 THK DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

when he is said to give his testimony to the mission, or work 
of the Mediator, by any divine works performed by him, this 
is pecvtliarly applied to him ; or when he is said to sanctify 
and comfort, or to seal and confirm believers unto the day ot 
redemption. Though these being divine works, are, for that 
reason, applicable to all the Persons in the Godhead; yet when 
he is said to perform them in a way of subserviency to Christ, 
as having purchased them, then his distinct personal character, 
taken from thence, is demonstrated, and so these works are es- 
pecially applied to him. This is what we understand by that 
peculiar ceconomy, or dispensation, which determines us to 
give distinct personal glory to each of the Persons in the God- 
head. 

And nov/ we are speaking of the Spirit, considered as acting, 
whereby he sets forth his Personal glory, we may observe, that, 
/in compliance with this way of speaking, the gifts and graces 
of the Spirit, are, by a metonymy, called the Spirit^ as in Acts 
xix. 2. when it is said, Have ye received the Holy Ghost ? They 
s.aid unto him^ We have not so viuch as heard xvhethcr there be 
finy Holy Ghost. We are not to understand it as though they 
had not heard whether there were such a Person as the Holy 
Ghost ; but thev had not heard that there was such an extraor- 
dinary dispensation of the gifts of the Holv Ghost conferred on 
men ; so John vii. 39. it is said. The Holy Ghost xvas Jiot yet 
given^ because Jesus was not yet glorified; the word given be- 
ing supplied in our translation, and not in the original ; it ought 
rather to be rendered, The Holy Ghost xvas not as yet ; by which 
we are to understand the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and not his 
Personality, which was from all eternity. 

And here we may farther observe, that when the Holy Ghost 
is spoken of as a Person, that word which denotes his Perso- 
nality, ought not to be rendered It^ but He, as expressive of 
his Personal character ; but when it is taken in a figurative 
sense, for the gifts or graces of the Spirit, then it should be 
translated It. This is sometimes observed in our translation of 
scripture; as in John xvi. 13. it is said of the Spirit, He xoill 
guide you into all truth, where the Personal character of the 
I Spit-it is expressly mentioned, as it ought to be : but it is not 
duly observed by our translators in every scripture ; Rom. viii. 
16. it is said. The Spirit itself heareth zvitness, which ought to 
have been rendered Himself; as also in ver. 26. The Spirit it- 
self Jnaketh intercession for us. The same ought to be observed 
in all other scriptures, whereby we may be led to put a just 
difterence between the Spirit, considered as a divine Person ; 
or as acting, or pi-oducing those effects, which are said to be 
wrought by him. 

7'hus concerning the Sonship of Christ, and the procession ot 



'^THE DOCTRINE Of THE TRINITY. 29S 

' tie Holy Ghost. What I have said, hi attempting to explain 
those scripture that treat of the Person of Christ, as God-man, 
Mediator, and of his inferiority, in that respect, (or as he is 
said to sustain that character) to the Father; as also those 
which speak of the subserviency of the Spirit, in acting, to the 
Fatiier and the Son, docs not, as I apprehend, run counter to the 
common faith of those who liave defended the doctrine of the 
ever blessed Trinity. Therefore I hope that when I call one the 
Sonship of Christ, and the other the procession of the Holy 
Cihost, this will not be deemed a new and strange doctrine. And 
I cannot but persuade myself, that what I have said concerning 
the Mediator, as acting in obedience to the Father, and the Spi- 
rit, in subserviency to him, will not be contested bv those who 
defend the doctrine of the Trinit}". And, if I have a little varied 
fi om the common way of speaking, I hope none will be offended 
at the acceptation of a word, especially since I have endeavour- 
ed to defend my sense thereof, by referring to many scriptures. 
And, if I cannot give into the common explication of the eter- 
nal generation of the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost, 
I am well satisfied I do no more than what many Christians 
do, M^ho have received the doctrine of the Trinity from the 
scripture, and are unacquainted with those modes of speaking 
which arc used in the schools : these appear as much to dislike 
them, when used in public discourses about this doctrine, as 
any other can do, what has been attempted to explain it in a 
different way. 

IV. We shall now proceed to consider the Godhead of th6 
Son, and Holy Ghost, as maintained in one of the answers we 
are explaining, by four general heads of argument. 

I. From those divine names which are given to them, that 
are peculiar to God alone. 

II. From their having the divine attributes ascribed to them, 
and consequently the divine nature. 

III. From their having manifested their divine glory, by 
those v/orks that none but God can perform. 

IV. From their having a right to divine worship, which none 
but God is worthy to receive. 

If these things be made to appear, we have all that we need 
contend for ; and it will be evident from thence, that the Son 
and Holy Ghost are God equal VN^ith the Father. These heads 
of argument we shall apply to them distinctly ; and, 

Firsts To the Son, wko appears to be God equal with the 
Father, 

I. From those divine names given to him, that are peculiar 
to God alone. And here we shall premise something concera- 
■ing the use of names given to persons, together with the de- 



296 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRlNlTf. 

sign thereof. Names are given to persons, as well as things, 
with a twofold design. 

1. Sometimes nothing else is intended thereby, but to dis- 
tingiiisli one from another, in which sense the names given are 
not in themselves significant, or expressive of any property, or 
quaiit} , in those that are so described. Thus most of those 
names we read of in scripture, though not ail of them, are de- 
signed onl}^ to distinguish one man from another, which is the 
most common use and design thereof; notwithstanding, 

2. The)^ are sometimes given to signify some property in 
those to whom they are applied, viz, what they should be, or 
do. Thus we have many instances, in scripture, of persons call- 
ed by names, which have had some special signification annex- 
ed to them, assigned as a reason of their being so called. Thus 
Adam had that name given him, because made of earth ; and 
Eve was so called, because she was the mother of all living. 
The same may be said concerning Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, 
Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and several others, whose re- 
spective names have a signification annexed to them, agreeable 
to the proper sense of the words, and the design of their being 
so called. 

And, to apply this to our present purpose, we may conclude, 
that when names are given to any divine Person, they are de- 
signed to express some excellency and perfection belonging to 
him ; and therefore v,e shall have sufficient reason to conclude 
the Son to be a divine Person, if we can make it appear that he 
has those names given to him in scripture, which are proper to 
God alone. And, 

1. The name Jehovah is given to him, which is peculiar to 
God. Here we shall prove, Firsts that the name Jehovah is pe- 
culiar to God. And, Secondly^ that it is ascribed to Christ. 

(1.) That the name Jehovah is peculiar to God, whereby he 
is distinguished from all creatures : thus it is said, Isa. xlii. 8. 
I am the Lordy or Jehovah, that is my name^ and my glory -will 
I not give to another ; or, as the text may be rendered, I am 
Jehovah^ that name of mine ^ and my glory ^ which is signified 
thereby, xuill I not give to another : therefore it follows, that it 
is an incommunicable name of God : and when he says, / xvill 
not give it to another^ it supposes that it necessarily belongs to 
him ; and therefore that he cannot give it to another, since that 
would be unbecoming himself; therefore this name, which is 
expressive of his glory in so peculiar a manner, is never given 
to any creature. 

There are other scriptures to this purpose, in which the name 
Jehovah is represented, as peculiar to God. Thus when the 
prophet Amos had been speaking of the glory of God, as dis- 
played in the works of creation and pro^ idence, he adds, tha 



THE DOCTRINE Or THE TR1NIT,Y. 29^ 

, the Lord^ or Jehovah, is his name^ chap. v. 8. So that those 
works, which are peculiar to God, miglit as well be applied to 
creatures, as that name Jehovah, which is agretable thereunto. 
And in chap. ix. 6. the prophet gives another magnificent de- 
scription of God, with respect to those works that are pecu- 
liar to him, when he says, It is he that buildeth his stories in 
the heaven^ and hath founded his troop in the earth ; he that 
Callethfor the -waters of the sea^ and ponreth them out upon the 
face of the earth ; and then he adds, the Lord^ or Jehovah, is 
his name. 

Again, it is said, in Psal. Ixxxiii. 18. That men may knorv^ 
that thou^ whose name alone is Jehovah^ art the most high over 
all the earth. Tliis is never said of any other divine names, 
which are, in a limited sense, sometimes given to creatures ; 
and, indeed, all creatures are expressly excluded from having a 
right hereunto. 

Again, there are other scriptures, in which this name Jeho- 
vah is applied to God, and an explication thereof sul^joined, 
which argues that it is peculiar to him. Thus when Moses de- 
sired of God, that he would let him know what his name was 
for the encouragement of the faith of the Israelites, to whom 
he sent him, Exod. iii. 13. q. d. he desires to know what are 
those divine glories, that would render him the object of faitlX 
and worship ; or how he might describe him in such a way tp 
the children of Israel, whereby they might express that reve- 
rence and regard to him, that was due to the great God, who 
sent him about so important an errand. In answer to v/hich 
God says, ver. 14. / AM THA T I AJII. Thus shalt thou saif 
tinto the children of Israel^ I AMh^th. sent me unto you ; which 
description of him doth not set forth one single perfection, but- 
all the perfections of the divine nature ; as though he should 
say, I am a God of infinite perfection ; and then he adds, in the 
following verse, Thoti shalt say unto the children of Israel^ The 
Lord^ or Jehovah, the God of your fathers hath sent me unto 
you; where Jehovah signifies the same v/ith / AM THAT I 
AM. And he adds. This is mij memorial unto all generations ; 
therefore this glorious name is certainly peculiar to God. 

What has been already observed, under this head, is suffi- 
cient to prove that the name Jehovah is proper to God alone. 
But we might hereunto add another argument, of less weight, 
which, though we do not lay that stress upon, as though it was 
sufficient of itself to prove this matter ; yet, being added to 
what has been already suggested, it may not be improper to be 
mentioned, viz. that the word Jehovah has no plural number, 
as b^ing never designed to signify any more than the one God; 
neither has it any empliatical particle affixed to it, as other 
words in the Hebrew language have : and particularly sev^ra} 

Vol. I. P p 



298 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

of the Other names of God, which distinguishes him from others, 
who have those names sometimes apphed to them ; and the 
reason of this is, because the name Jehovali is never given to 
any creature. 

And to this v/e might add, that since the Jews best under- 
stood their own language, they may, in some respects, be de- 
pended on, as to the sense they give of the word Jehovah ; and 
it is certain they paid the greatest regard to this name, even to 
superstition. Accordingly, they would never pronounce it ; but, 
instead thereof, use some other expressions, by which they de- 
scribe it. Sometimes they call it, that name^ or that glorious 
name^ or that name that is not to be expressed ; * by which they 
mean, as Josephus says,f that it was not lawful for them to ut- 
ter it, or, indeed, to write it, which, if any one presumed to do, 
they reckoned him not only guilty of profaneness, in an uncom- 
mon degree, but e^^en of blasphemy ; and therefore it is never 
found in any writings of human composui'e among them. The 
modern Jews, indeed, are not much to be regarded, as retain- 
ing the same veneration for this name ; but Onkelos, the author 
of the Chaldee paraphrase on some parts of scripture, who lived 
about fifty years after our Saviour's time, and Jonathan Ben- 
XJzziel, who is supposed to have lived as many years before it, 
never insert it in their writings ; and, doulotless, they were not 
the first that entertained these sentiments about it, but had other 
writings then extant, which gave occasion thereunto. Some 
critics conclude, from Jewish writers, that it was never pro- 
nounced, even in the earliest ages of the church, except by the 
High Priest ; and when he M^as obliged, by the divine law, to 
pronounce it, in the form of benediction, the people always ex- 
pressed an uncommon degree of reverence, either by boAving, 
or prostration ; but this is not supported by sufficient evidence. 
Others think it took its rise soon after their return from cap- 
tivity, which is more probable ; however, the reason they as- 
sign for it is, because they reckoned it God's incommunicable 
name. 

And here I cannot but observe, that the translators of the 
Greek version of the Old Testament, commonly called the 
LXX. which, if it be not altogether the same with that men- 
tioned by AristrTus, which was compiled almost three hundred 
years before the Christian -/£ra, is, without doubt, of consider- 
able antiquity : these never translate the word Jehovah, but, 
instead thereof, put Ky^/of, Lord ; \ and, even when it seems ab- 
surd not to do it, as in Exod. vi. 3. when it is said, by my 

* Ovofx-J avrnfcmnliv. j" Antiq. JAb. III. Cap. 5. 

i This tlie JTohi Ghost has condescended, fur -what reason Iknoio not, to give covn- 
tenavce to, in all those flotations in the JVno Testcnnent, xvhere the name J>.hovah, 
t'3 referred to from tile Old. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. ^9^ 

name, Jehovah, was I not known, they render it, by my name, 
the Lord, was I not known. § 

Tais we take occasion to observe, not as supposing it is a 
sufficient prooi" of- itself, of the argument we are maintaining, 
but as it corresponds with the sense of those scriptures before 
mentioned, by which it appears that this is the proper, or in- 
communicable, name of God. 

O'.jcct. It is objected, by the Anti-Trinitarians, that the name 
Jehovah is sometimes given to creatures, and consequently that 
it is not God's proper name ; nor docs it evince our Saviour's 
Deity, when given to him. To prove that it is sometimes given, 
to cr-atures, they refer to several scriptures ; as Exod. xvii. 15. 
where the altar that Moses erected is called Jehovah Nissi^ i. e. 
the Lord is my banner ; and, in Judges vi. 22. another altar 
that Gideon built, is called Jehovah Shallom ; and Gen. xxii. 
14. it is said, that Abraham called the name of the place, in 
which he was ready to offer Isaac, Jehovah J'lreh ; and, in 
Ezek. xlviii. 35. it is said, that Jerusalem, from that day, should 
be called Jehovah Shammah ; they add also, that the Ark was 
called Jehovah^ upon the occasion of its being candied up into 
the city of David, when it is said, Psal. xlvii. 5. The Lordy i. e. 
Jehovah is gone up ivith a nhout^ even the Lord zuith the sound 
of a trumpet^ and also on other occasions. And the name Je- 
hovah is often, in the Old Testament, given to angels, and 
therefore not proper to God alone. 

Ansxv. 1. When they pretend that the name Jehovah was 
given to inanimate things, and in particular to altars, as in the 
instance mentioned in the objection, that one of the altars was 
indeed called Jehovah Niss'i^ it is very unreasonable to suppose, 
that the name and glory of God was put upon it ; had it been 
a symbol of God's presence, it would not have been called by 
this name, especially in the same sense in which our Saviour and 
the Holy Spirit have it applied to them ; and therefore the 
meaning of this scripture, as I apprehend, is nothing but this, 
that there was an inscription written on the altar, containinj^- 
these words, Jehovah Nissi, the design whereof was to signify, 
to the faith of those who came to worship there, that the Lord 
was their banner : therefore this name, strictly speaking, was 

§ In ttvo places, indeed, it is rendered by ©soj, God, Gen. iv. 1. and Isa. liv. VJ. 
And there in one place in -tuluch some think they attempt a literal translation of it, 
f] Sam. i. 11. ivliere, instead of the people of (he Lord, tliey trmialate the text, i-a-t tct 
vk*c7 'louiTi, in -which, some think, 'louSi, is put for 'leva, or 'lotCst, through the iiusiuke 
of some amtinii^iisis ; but it seems rather to U- an e.rplication than a literal tra7isla- 
tion of tlxe -ivurdti ; and xuhereas sovie think;, the reason of this method med by them in 
their translation, is, because the Hebrew letters, rf which that name co7isists, cannoC 
well be expressed by the letters of tlie Greek alpliabei, so as to compose a word like it, 
tluit does not seem to be the reason of it, inasmuch as they attempt to translate otiier 
■names ef/i('fr''y difficult; as in G^,(. ,'.-. *;;, 'Iwx/, yir /.'.-«ci/;/ rtrrtl. 2 K;r^': J.r..?,. 
'IttSxifor Jclioiada. ' ' " 



dOO FHL DOCTllIiVn OF THE TRIKII'T* 

not given to the altar, but to God ; upon which some, not with- 
out good reason, render the word ; he built an altar, and called 
the name of it, tl>e altar of Jehovah Nissi. The same may be 
said with respect to the altar erected by Gideon, which was 
called Jehovah Shalom y or the altar of Jehovah Shalom^ to the 
end that all who came to offer sacrifice upon it, might hereby be 
put in mind that God was a God of peace, or would give peace 
to them. 

2. As for the place to wliich Abraham went to offer Isaac, 
which is called Jehovah-Jireh, it was the mount Moriah ; and 
it is certain that this was not known by, or whenever spoken of, 
mentioned, as having that name ; neither had Abraliam any 
right to apply to it any branch of the divine glory, as signified 
thereby J therefore when it is said, he called the name of the 
place Jehovah-Jireh, it is as though he should have said, let all 
that travel over this mountain know, that the Lord was seen, or 
provided a ram instead of Isaac, who was ready to be offered 
up ; let this place be remarkable, in future ages, for this amazing 
dispensation of providence, and let them glorify God for what 
was done here, and let the memory hereof be an encouragement 
to their faith. Or else we may farther consider him speaking as 
a prophet, and so the meaning is, this place shall be very re- 
markable in future ages, as it shall be the mount of vision ; 
here Jehovah v/ill eminentlv appear in his temple, which shall 
be built in this place. Or if you take the words in another 
sense, viz» God xvill provide^ it is as though he should say, as 
God has provided a ram to be offered instead of Isaac, so he 
will provide the Lamb of God, who is to take away the sin of 
the world, which was typified by Isaac's being offered. So that 
the place was not really called Jehovah ; but Abraham takes oc- 
casion, from what was done here, to magnify him, who appear- 
ed to him, and held his hand, whom alone he calls Jehovah. 

And to this we may add, that when Jerusalem is called Je- 
hovah Sharnmahy the Lord is there:, the meaning hereof is only 
this, that it shall eminently be said in succeeding ages of the 
Jiew Jerusalem, that the Lord is there; the city, which was com- 
monly knovVn by the name Jerusalem, is not called Jehovah, as 
though it had any character of divine glory put upon it ; but 
it implies, that the gospel church, which is signified thereby, 
should have the presence of God in an eminent degree ; or, as 
our Saviour promised to his disciples, Matth. xxviii. 20. that 
- he xvould be with them ahvays, eveTi unto the end of the world; 
and, as the result thereof, that the gates of hell shoidd not pre- 
vail against it J Matth. xvi. 18. 

3. As for the arl: ; it was not called Jehovah^ though the 
Psalmist takes occasion, from its being carried up into th'e city 
j*.f David, with a joyful solemnity, and an universal shouts with 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 3®| 

the sound of a trumpet, to foretel the triumphant and magnifi- 
cent ascension of our Saviour into heaven, which was typified 
hereby ; concerning whom he says, Jehovah is gone up ; or, 
speaking in a prophetic style, the present, or time past, being 
put for the time to come, it is as though he should say, the 
Lord, when he has completed the work of redemption on earth, 
will ascend into heaven, which shall be the foundation of uni- 
versal joy to the church ; and then he shall, as the Psalmist 
farther obse. ^es, reign over the heathen^ and sit on the throne 
of his holiness. 

Again, it does not appear that the ark was called Jehovah^ 
in Exod. xvi. ZZ^ 34. because, when Aaron is commanded to 
lay the pot full of manna before Ihe testvnony^xhsd. is, the ark^ 
this is called, a laying it before Jehovah : but the reason of the 
expression is this ; viz. God hath ordained that the mercy-seat 
over the ark should be the immediate seat of his residence, 
from whence he would condescend to converse with men, and 
accordingly he is said, elsewhere, to (hvell bctzueen the cheru- 
hims ; and, upon this account, that v/hich was laid up before the 
ark, might be said to be laid up before the Lord. 

But since none are so stupid to suppose that inanimate things 
can have the divine perfections belonging to them, therefore 
the principal thing contended for in this argument, is, that the 
ark was called Jehovah, because it was a sign and symbol of 
the divine presence ; and from thence they conclude, that the 
name of God may be applied to a person that has no right to 
the divine glory, as the sign is called by the, name of the thing 
signified thereby. 

To which it may be answered, that the ark was not only a sa- 
cramental sign of God's presence, for that many other things 
relating to ceremonial worship were ; but it was also the seat 
thereof : it was therefore the divine Majesty who was called 
Jehovah, and not the place of his residence ; and it was he a- 
lone to whom the glory was ascribed that is due to his name. 

4. When it is farther objected, that the name Jehovah is of- 
ten applied to angels, the answer that may be given to this is ,; 
that it is never ascribed to any but him, who is called, by way 
of eminence, the angel, or Messenger of the covenant^ viz. our 
Saviour, Mai. iii. 1. And whenever it is given to, him, such 
glorious things are spoken of him, or such acts of divine wor- 
ship demanded by and given to him, as argue him to be a di- 
vine Person ; as will plainly appear, if we consider what the an- 
gel that appeared, in Exod. iii. says concerning himself, ver. 6- 
J am the God of thy fathers^ the God of Abraham^ the God of I- 
sauc^ and the God of Jacob; and it is said, Moses hid his face^ 
for he zvas afraid to look upon God; and in verses 7, 8. The 
lord, or Jehovah, said^ I have surely seen the o^icfion of mij 



302 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

people that are in Egypt^ and I am come doxvn to deliver them ■: 
and ver. 10. / -will send thee unto Pharaoh ; and then, in the 
following verses, he makes mention of his name, as of the great 
"Jehovah^ the / AM^ who sent him. And Jacob gives divine 
worship to hirn, when he says, Gen. xlviii. 16. The Angei^ that 
redeemed me from all evil^ bless the lads. I might refer to many 
other scriptures, where the Angel of the Lord is said to appear, 
in which from the context, it is evident that it was a divine 
Person, and not a created angel. The most ancient Jewish wri- 
ters generally call him the Word^ of the Lord. 

But this will not properly be deemed a sufficient answer to 
the objection, inasmuch as it is not denied, that the Person, who 
so frequently appeared in the form of an angel, made use of 
such expressions, as can be applied to none but God ; therefore 
they say that he personated God, or spake after the manner of 
his representative, not designing that the glory of the divine 
perfections should be ascribed to him, but to Jehovah, whom he 
represented. 

To which it may be replied, that the angel appearing to Mo- 
ses, in the scripture before mentioned, and to several others, 
doth not signify himself to personate God, as doubtless he 
ought to have done, had he been only his representative, and 
not a divine Person ; as an embassador, when he speaks in the 
name of the king, whom he represents, always uses such modes 
of speaking, as that he may be understood to apply what he 
says when personating him, not to himself, but to him that sent 
him ; and it would be reckoned an affront to him, whom he re- 
presents, should he give occasion to any to ascribe the honour 
that belongs to his master to himself. Now there is nothing, in 
those texts, which speak of this angel's appearing, that signifies 
his disclaiming divine honour, as what did not belong to him, 
but to God ; therefore we must not suppose that he speaks in 
such a way as God doth, only as representing him : we read, in- 
deed, in Rev. xxii. 8, 9. of a created angel appearing to John, 
who was supposed by him, at the first, to be the same that ap- 
peared to the church of o]d, and accordingly John gave him di- 
vine honour ; but he refused to receive it, as knowing that this 
character, of being the divine representative, would not be a 
sufficient warrant for him to assume it to himself; we must there- 
fore from hence conclude, that the angel that appeared to the 
church of old, and is called Jehovah, was a divine Person. 

2. Having considered that the name Jehovah is peculiarly 
applied to God, we now proceed to prove that it is given to 
the Son, whereby his Deity will appear ; and the first scripture 
■ ' ■ ' I J , ' ■ 

* See Dr. AUix's judgment of the Jewish church against the Unitarians, chap. 
xiii. tu xvi. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. S03 

that we shall refer to is Isa. xl. 3. The voice of him that criefii 
in the rvilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord^ or Jehovah, 
make Straight in the desert a highway for our God. Nov/ it" we 
can prove that this is a prophecy of John's preparing the way of 
our Saviour, then it will appear that our Saviour, in this scrip- 
ture, is called Jehovah. That it is a prediction of John's being 
Christ's fore-runner, appointed to prepare the Jews tor his re- 
ception, and to give them an intimation, that he, wiiom thej'' 
had long looked for, would suddenly appear, is plain from those 
scriptures in the New Testament, which expressly refer to this 
prediction, and explain it in this sense : thus Matth. iii. 3. This 
is he that xvas spoken of by the prophet Esaias^ sayings The 
voice of one crifing in the xvilderness^ Prepare ye the way of 
the Lord,, make his paths straight ; therefore he Avhose way 
John was to prepare, whom the prophet Isaias calls Jehovah, is 
our Saviour. 

Again, it is said, in Isa. viii. 13. Sanctify the Lord^ or Jeho- 
vah, of hosts himself and let him be your fear and your dread ; 
where he speaks of a person, whom he not only calls Jehovah, 
the Lord of hosts, which alone would prove him to be a divine 
Person ; but he farther considers him as the object of divine 
worship, Sanctify him^ and let him be your fear and your dread. 
Certainly, if we can prove this to be spoken of Christ, it will 
be a strong and convincing argument to evince his proper Dei- 
ty ; now that it is spoken of him, is very evident, if we compare 
it with the verse immediately following. And he shall be for a 
sanctuary^ which I would chuse to render, For he shall be for 
a sanctuary^ as the Hebrew particle Van^ which we render And^ 
is often rendered elsewhere, and so it is assigned as a reason 
why we should sanctify him ; and then it follows, though we 
are- obliged so to do, yet the Jews will not give that glory to 
him, for he will be to them for a stone of stumblings and for a 
rock of offence s as he shall be for a sanctuary to those that are 
faithful. That this is spoken of Christ, not only appears from 
the subject matter hereof, as it is only he that properly speaking, 
is said to be a rock of offence, or in whom the world was of- 
lended, by reason of his appearing in a low condition therein ; 
but, by comparing it with other scriptures, and particidarly Isa. 
xxviii. 16. Behold^ J^ ^^y ^"'^ Sion^ for a foundation^ a stone^ a 
tried stone,, a precious corner stone,, a sure foundation ; he that 
believeth shall not make haste,, this will more evidentl}^ appear. 
In the latter of these scriptures, he is stvled, a foundation stont , 
the rock on which his church is built ; in the former a burthen- 
some stone ; and both these scriptures are referred to, and ap- 
])lied to him, 1 Pet. ii. 6, 8. Wliercfore also it is contained in 
the scripture,, Behold,, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone,, elect,, 
precious ; and a^-tone of stmnbUng,, and a rock of offence to them 



304 THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

that are duohedient ; where the apostle proves plainly, that our 
Saviour is the Person who is spoken of, in both these texts, by 
the prophet Isaiah, and consequently that he is Jehovah, whom 
we are to sanctify, and to make our fear and our dread. 

Again, there is another scripture, which plainly proves this, 
vi-z* Numb. xxi. 5, 6, 7. And the people spake against God^ and 
against Moses ; and the Lord sent Jierij serpents a,mong the peo- 
ple^ and they bit the people^ and much people of Israel died; 
therefore the people came to Moses ^ and said^ We have sinned^ 
for xve have spoken against the Lord^ or Jehovah, and ag inst 
thee. He, who is called God, in ver. 5. whom they spake against, 
is called Jehovah in ver. 7. who sent fiery serpents among them, 
that destroyed them, for their speaking against him; now tlvs 
is expressly applied to our Saviour by the apostle, 1 Cor. x. 9. " 
Neither let us tempt Christy as some of them also tempted^ and 
rvere destroyed of serpents. 

Again, the prophet Isaiah, having had a vision of the angels, 
adoring and ministering to that glorious Person, who is repre- 
sented, as sitting on a throne, in chap. vi. 1, 2. he reflects or- 
what he had seen in ver. 5. and expresses himself in these 
words. Mine eyes have seen the King^ the Lord^ or Jehovah, of 
of hosts. Now this is expressly applied to our Saviour, in John 
xii. 41. These things said Esaias^ when he saxo his glory ^ and 
spake of him ; where it is plain that he intends this vision ; as 
appeals from the foregoing verse, which refers to a part there- 
of, in which God foretels that he would blind the eyes, and har- 
den the hearts of the unbelieving Jews ; from whence it is evi- 
dent, that the Person who appeared to him, sitting on a throne, 
whom he calls Jehovah, was our Saviour. 

Again, this may farther be argued, from what is said in Isa. 
xlv. 21. to the end. There is no God else besides me^ a just God^ 
and a Saviour^ there is none besides me. Look unto me, and be ye 
saved, all the ends of the earth ; for I am God, and there is none 
else, I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth i7i 
righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall 
borv, every tongue shall szvear. Surely, shall one say. In the Lord 
have I righteousness and strength ; even to him shall men come, 
and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the 
Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified^ and shall glory. This 
is a glorious proof of our Saviour's Deity, not only from his 
being called Jehovah, but from several other divine characters 
ascribed to him ; thus the Person whom the prophet speaks of, 
stvles himself Jehovah, and adds, that there is no God besides 
me ; and he is represented as swearing by himself, which none 
ought to do but a divine Person ; and he encourages all the 
ends of the earth to look to him for salvation ; so that if it can 
be made appear that this is spoken of our Saviour, it v/ill be an 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. ^ftj 

undeniable proof oi his proper Dcitv, since nothing more can be 
said to express the glory ot" the Father than this. Now that 
these words are spoken of our Saviour, must be allowed by 
every one, vvho reads them impartially, for there are several 
things that agree with his character as Mediator ; as when all 
the ends of the earth are invited to look to him for salvation. 
We have a parallel scripture, which is plainly applied to him, 
in Isa. xi. 10. And in that day there shall be a root of yesse^ 
that is, the Messiah, who should spring from the root or stock* 
of Jesse ; which shall stand for an ensign to the people^ to if, 
or to him., shall the Gentiles seek., which is the same thing as for 
the ends of the earth to look to him ; and besides, the word look- 
ing to him is a metaphor, taken from a very remarkable type of 
this matter, to wit, Israel's looking to the brazen serpent for 
healing ; thus he, who is here spoken of, is represented as a Sa- 
viour, and as the object of faith. 

Again, he is represented as swearing by himself; and the 
subject matter of this oath is. That unto him every knee should 
bow., and every tongue should swear ; this is expressly applied 
to our Saviour, in the New Testament, as containing a pror 
phecy of his being the judge of the world, Rom. xiv. 10, 11, 
12, IVe shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ ; for ' 
it is written., As I live, saith the Lord., every knee shall bow to 
me, and every tongue shall confess to God; so then every one of 
us shall give an account of hiynself to God. And the same 
words are used, with a little variation, in Phil. ii. 10, 11. 
That at the name of Jesus every knee shoitld borv, of things in 
heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and 
that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to 
the Glory of God the Father. 

Again, the person, of whom the prophet speaks, is one a- 
gainst whom the world was incensed, which can bo meant of 
none but Christ, as signifying the opposition that he should 
meet with, and the rage and fury that should be directed a- 
gainst him, when appearing in our nature. 

Again, he is said to be one in whom we have righteousness, 
and in whom the seed of Israel shall be justifed ; which very 
evidently agrees with the account we have oi: him in the New 
Testament, as a person by whose righteousness we are justi» 
fied, or whose righteousness is imputed to us for that end. 

And this leads us to consider another scripture, Jer. xxiii. 6. 
in which it is said. This is his name, zuhereby he shall be called. 
The Lord, or Jehovah, our righteousness. His being called our 
righti ousness, as was but now observed, implies, that the Mes- 
siah, our great Mediator, is the person spoken of, who is called 
Jehovah. But this is farther evinced from the context, inas^ 
much as it is siyd, ver. 5. Behold the daus come, viz, the Gosr 

Vol. I. Q q 



306 tHE DOCTRINE OF THE TRiNHry. 

pel day, that I rvill raise unto David a righteous branchy and (£ 
king shall reign and prosper ; and shall execute judgment and 
jnsticein the earth; which any one, who judges impartially of 
the sense of Scripture, will conclude to be spoken concerning 
our Saviour's erecting the gospel-dispensation, and being the 
sole lord and governor of his church. How the , exercise of 
his dominiojii over it proves his Deity, will be considered un- 
der a follo\v*ing head. Ail that we need to observe at present 
is, that this description is very agreeable to his character in 
Scripture, as Mediator; therefore he is called Jehovah in 
this verse. 

Object, 1. It is objected, that the words may be otherwise 
translated, viz. This is the narne^ -whereby the Lord our righ- 
feoM.y;2e.M, namely, the Father, shall call him. 

Ansxv. It may be replied^ that the Father is never called in 
Scripture, our righteousness as was but now observed; this 
being a character peculiar to the Mediator, as it is fully ex- 
plained in several places in the New Testament. As to what 
may be farther said, in answer to this objection, it is well 
known that the Hebrew word ns'ip-' signifies either ac- 
tively or passively, as it is differently pointed, the letters 
being the same ; and we shall not enter into a critical dis- 
quisition concerning the origin, or authenticity of the Hebrew 
points, to prove that our translation is just, rather than that 
mentioned in the objection; but shall have recourse to the 
context to prove it. Accordingly it appears from thence, that 
if it were translated according to the sense of the objectors, it 
would be little less than a tautology, q. d. I rvill raise 
to David a righteous branch ; and this is the name where- 
by Jehovah^ our righteousness^ shall call him^ viz. the 
Branch; so that at least, the sense of our translation of the text, 
seems more natural, as well as more agreeable to the gramma- 
tical construction observed in the Hebrew language, in which 
the words of a sentence are not so transposed as they are in the 
Greek and Latin, which they are supposed to be, in the sense 
of the text contained in this objection. 

Object. 2. It is farther objected ; that though our translation 
of the text were just, and Christ were called Jehovah, yet it 
will not prove his Deity, since it is said, in Jer. xxxiii. 16i 
speaking concerning the church, This is the name rvhereby she 
shall be called^ The Lord^ or Jehovah, our righteousness. 

Ansxv. It is evident from the context, that this is a parrallel 
scripture Avith that before mentioned ; the same person", to wit, 
the Branch, is spoken of and the same things predicted concern- 
ing the gospel church, that was to be governed by him. There- 
fore, though it is plain that our translators understood this text, 
as spoken of the church of the Jews or rather the Gospel-Church. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. ^Qf 

as many others do, yet, if we consider the sense of the Hebrew. 
words here used n*7 Nip"", it is very evident that they might, with 
equal, if not, with greater propriety, have been rendered, shall 
be called by her ; and so the sense is the same with that of the 
other but now mentioned ; the Branch, to wit, our Saviour, is 
to be called. The Lord our righteousness, and adored as such 
by the church. 

There is another scripture, in which our Saviour is called Je- 
hovah, in Joel ii. 27. And ye shall knoiv that I am the Lord^ 
viz. Jehovah, your God^ and none else; compared with ver. 32. 
And it shall come to pass^ that xvhosoever shall call on the name 
of the Lord^ viz. Jehovah, shall be delivered. In both these 
verses, it is evident, that our Saviour is called Jehovah ; for the 
person, who is so called, in the former of them, is said, ver. 
28. to Pour oat his Spirit on all jiesh ; &c. which Scripture is 
expressly referred to him, in Acts ii. 16, 17. and this pouring 
out of his Spirit on all flesh here predicted is also applied, in 
ver. 2>%. to him ; Therefore being by the right hand of God ex- 
alted^ and having received of the Father^ the promise of the 
Holij Ghost^ he hath shed forth this xvhich ye now see and hear. 
The argument is therefore this : he who was, according to this 
prophecy, to pour out his Spirit on all flesh, is called Jehovah, 
your God ; but this our Saviour is said to have done, there- 
fore the name Jehovah is jvistly applied to him. As to the lat- 
ter of these verses, viz. 32. Whosoever shall call on the name of 
the Lord shall be delivered ; this also is referred to, and explain- 
ed, as spoken of Christ, in Rom. x. 13. And that the apostle 
hei-e speaks of calling on the name of Christ, is plain, 
from the foregoing and following verses. In ver. 9. it is ex- 
pressed, by confessing the Lord Jesus, and it is there connected 
with salvation. And the apostle proceeds to consider, that, in 
order to our confessing, or calling on his name, it is necessary 
that Christ should be preached, ver. 14, 15. and he farther 
adds, in the following verses, that though Christ was preached, 
and his glory proclaimed in the gospel, yet the Jews believed 
not in him, and consequently called not on his name ; which 
was an accomplishment of what had been foretold by the pro- 
phet Isaiah, chap. liii. 1. Who hath believed our report^ &c. 
intimating that it was pi-edicted, that our Saviour should 
be rejected, and not be believed in by the Jews : so that 
it is very evident the apostle is speaking concerning him, 
and applying to him what is mentioned in this scripture, 
in the prophecy of Joel, in which he is called Jehovah ; 
therefore this glorious name belongs to him. Several other 
scriptures might have been referred to, to prove that Christ is 
called Jehoviih, which are also applied to him in the New-Tes- 
'tament, some of which mav be occasionally mentioned under 



Sdi^ tHE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

s6me following arguments ; but, I think, what hath been al- 
ready said is abundantly sufficient to prove his Deity ,^ from his 
having this glorious name given to him j which leads us to con- 
sider some other names given to hin^ lor the proof thereof? 
accordingly, 

2. He is styled Lord and God, in such a sense, as plainly 
proves his proper Deity. We will not, indeed, deny, that the 
names Lord and God^ are sometimes given to creatures ; yet we 
ai'e not left without sufficient light, whereby we may plainly 
discern when they are applied to the one living and true God, 
and when not. To assert the contrary, would be to reflect on 
the wisdom and goodness of God; and it would not only ren- 
der those scriptures, in which they are contained, like the trum- 
pet, that gives an uncertain sound, but w^e should be in the great- 
est danger of being led aside into a most destructive mistake, in 
a matter of the highest importance, and hereby be induced to 
give that gloiy to the creature, which is due to God alone ; 
therefore we shall always find something, either in the text, or 
context, that evidently determines the sense of these names, 
whenever they are applied to God, or the creature. 

And here let it be observed, that whenever the Avord God or 
Lord is given to a creature, there is some diminutive character 
annexed to it, which plainly distinguishes it from the true God : 
thus when it is given to idols, it is intimated, that they are so 
called, or falsely esteemed to be gods by their deceived wor- 
shippers ', and so they are called strange gods, Deut. xxxii. 16- 
and molten gods, Exod. xxxiv. 17. and nev/ gods, Judges v. 
8. and their worshippers are reproved as brutish and foolish, 
Jer. X. 3. 

Again, when the word God, is applied to men, there is also 
something in the context, which implies, that whatever charac- 
ters of honour are given to them, yet they are subject to the di- 
vine controul ; as it is said, Psal. Ixxxii. 1, 6. God standeth in 
the co7igrcgation of the mighty he jiidgeth among the gods ; and 
they are at best but mortal men ; I have said ye aregods^ and all 
of you are children of the most high, but ye shall die like men; 
they are, indeed, described, as being made partakers of the di- 
vine image, consisting in some lesser branches of sovereignt}'- 
and dominion ; but this is infinitely belov/ the idea of sovereig^n- 
tv and dominion, which is contained in the v/ord when applied 
to the great God. 

It is ti-ue, God says to Moses, See, I have made thee a god 
to Phamoh, Exod. vii. 1. by v.hich we are not to understand 
that any of the divine perfections were communicated to, or 
predicated of him ; for God cannot give his glory to another : 
but the sense is plainly tiiis, that he was set in God's stead : 
{hns he is said to be inbtead of God to Aaron, chap. iv. 16, and 



iTHE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 309 

the same expression is used by Elihu to Job, chap, xxxiii. 6. 
/ am according to thy xvish in God^s stead; so that Mosts's be- 
ing made a goa to Pharaoh, implies nothing else but this, that 
he should, by bemg God's minister, in inllicting the plagues 
which he designed to bring on Pharaoh and his servants, be 
rendered formidable to them ; not that he should have a right 
to receive divine honour irom them. 

Again, when the word God is put absolutely, without any 
additional character ot" glory, or diminution annexed to it, it 
must always be understood of the great God, this being that 
name by which he is generally known in scripture, and never 
otherwise applied, without an intimation given that he is not in- 
tended thereby : thus the Father and ihc Son are described in 
John i. 1. The Ward was xvith God^ and the Word was God^ and 
in many other places of scripture ; thetore it we can prove that 
our Saviour is called God in scripture, without any thing in 
the context tending to detract from the most known sense of 
the word, this will be sufficient to prove his proper Deity; but 
we shall not only find that he is called God therein ; but there 
are some additional glories annexed to that name, whereby this 
will more abundantly appear. 

As to the word Lord, though that is often applied to crea- 
tures, and is given to superiors by their subjects or servants, 
yet this is also sufficiently distinguished, when applied to a di- 
vine Person, from any other sense thereof, as applied to 
creatures. Now, if we can prove that our Saviour is called 
Lord and God in this sense, it will sufficiently evince his pro- 
per Deity ; and, in order hereto, we shall consider several scrip- 
tures, wherein he is not only so called, but several characters 
of glory are annexed, and divine honours given to him, which 
are due to none but a divine Person, which abundantly deter- 
mines the sense of these words, when applied to him. And, 

(1.) We shall consider some scriptures in which he is called 
Lordy particularly, Psal. ex. 1. The Lord said unto my Lord^ 
Sit thou at my right hand^ until I make thine enemies thy foot- 
stool ; that our Saviour the Messiah, is the person whom Da- 
vid calls his Lord, is very evident, from its being quoted and 
applied to him in the New Testament, in Mat. xxii. 44. ^c, 
and that by calling him Lord he ascribes divine honour to him, 
appears irom hence, that when the question was put to the Pha- 
risees, If Christ were David's Lord, how could he be his Son? 
They might easily have replied to it, had it been taken in a 
lower sense ,• for it is not difficult to suppose that David might 
have a son descending from him, who might, be advanced to 
the highest honours, short of what are divine; but they not 
understanding how two infinitely distant natures could be 
itnited in one person, so thfit auhc same time he should be call- 



olO THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

ed David's son, and yet his Lord, in such a sense as proves his 
Deity, they were confounded, and put to silence. 

But whether they acknowledged him to be a divine Person 
or no, it is evident that David considers him as such; or as the 
Person v/ho, pursuant to God's covenant made with him, was 
to sit and rule upon his tlirone, in whom alone it could be said 
that it should be perpetual, or that of his kingdom there should 
be no end ; and inasmuch as he says, ver. 3. Thy people shall 
he xvilling in the day of thy poxver^ speaking of the Person 
whom he calls his Lord, who was to be his Son, he plainly in- 
fers that he should exert divine power, and consequently prove 
himself to be a divine Person. 

Again, if the word Lord be applied to him, as denoting his 
sovereignty over the church, and his being the Governor of 
the world, this will be considered under the next head, when 
we speak concerning those glorious titles and attributes that are 
given to him, which prove his Deity ; and therefore we shali 
wave it at present, ar^d only consider two or three scriptures, in, 
which he is called Lord, in a more glorious sense than when it 
is applied to any creature : thus in Rev. xvii. 14. speaking of 
the Lamb, which is a character that can be applied to none but 
him, and that as Mediator, he is called Lord of lords, and the 
Prince of the kings of the earth, in Rev. i, 5. and the Lord of 
glory, in 1 Cor. ii. 8. which will be more particularly consider- 
ed, whenj we speak concerning his glorious titles, as an argu- 
ment to prove it ; therefore all that we shall observe at present 
is, that this is the same character by which God is acknow- 
ledged by those that deny our Saviour's Deity to be described 
in Deut. x. 17. The Lord your God, is God of gods, and Lord 
of lords ; a great God a)id terrible ; so that we have zs, 
much ground to conclude, when Christ is called Lord, with 
such additional marks of glory, of which more in its proper 
place, that this proves his Deity, as truly as the Deity of the 
Father is proved from this scripture. 

(2.) Christ is often in scripture called God, in such a sense, 
in which it is never applied to a creature ; thus he is called, in 
Psal. xlv. 6. Thy throne God, is for ever, and ever ; and 
there are many other glorious things spoken of him in that 
Psalm, which is a farther coniirmation that he, who is here call- 
ed God, is a divine Person, in the same sense as God the Fa- 
ther is ; particularly he is said, ver. 2. To he fairer than the 
children of men, that is, infinitely above them; and, ver. 11, 
speaking to the church, it is said. He is thy Lord, and worship 
thou him ; and, in the following verses, the church's compleat 
blessedness consists in its being brought into his palace, who is 
the King thereof, and so denotes him to be the spring and foun- 
tain of compleat blessedness, and his name^ or glory, is to be re-* 



TH^E DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 31 t 

member ed in all generations^ and the people shall praise him for 
ever and ever. This glory is ascribed to him, who is called 
God; and many other things are said concerning him, relating 
to his works, his victories, his tnimphs, which are ver\' agree- 
able to that character ; so that it evidently appears that the 
Person spoken of in this Psalm, is truly and properly God. 

I am sensible that the Anti-trinitarians will object to this, 
that several things are spoken concerning him in this Psalm, 
that argue his inferiority to the Father ; but this only proves 
that the Person here spoken of is considei-ed as God-man, 
Mediator, in which respect he is, in one nature, equal, and, 
ill the other, inferior to him ; were it otherwise, one expression 
contained in this Psalm would be inconsistent with, and con- 
tradictory to another. 

To this we shall only add, as an undeniable proof, that it is 
Christ that is here spoken of, as also that he is considered as 
Mediator, as but now observed ; that the apostle, speaking of 
him as Mediator, and displaying his divine glory as such, re- 
fers to these words of the Psalmist, Heb. i. 8. Unto the Son he 
saith, Thy throne^ God^ is for ever and ever ; a sceptre (^ 
righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 

Again, another proof of our Saviour's Deit}^ may be taken 
from Matth, i. 23. Behold a virgin shall be xvith child^ and shall 
call his name Einmanuel^ -which being interpreted^ is, God with 
us. His incarnation is what gives occasion, as is plain from 
the words, for his being described by this name or character, 
God xvith us, which imports the same thing as when it is else- 
where said, John i. 14. The Word xuas made flesh, and dxvelt 
among us. This cannot lie applied to any but Christ ; to say 
the Father is called Emmanuel, is such a sti-ain upon the sense 
of the text, as no impartial reader will allow of; for it is plain 
that it is a name given to the Son upon this great occasion ; 
and this is as glorious a display of his Deit}^, as Avhen God the 
Father says, if we suppose that text to be spoken of him else- 
where, in Exod. xxix. 45. I xvill dwell amongst the children of 
Israel, and xvill be their God. 

Again, Christ's Deit}' is proved, in 1 Tim. iii. 16. fronn 
his being styled God, manifest in the flesh, implying, that the 
second Person in the Godhead was united to our nature ,* for 
neither the Father nor the Holy Ghost were ever said to be 
manifested in the flesh ; and, besides, he is distinguished from 
the Spirit, as justified by him. And he is not called God, be- 
cause of his incarnation, as some Socinian writers suppose ; 
for to be incarnate, supposes the pre-existence of that nature, 
to which the human nature was united, since it is called else- 
where, assuming, or taking flesh, as it is here, being mani- 
fested therein, and consequently that he was God before 'thi« 



'SlJi THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRlNtt7. 

act of incarnation ; and there is certainly nothing in the text 
which determines the word God to be taken in a less proper 
sense, any more than wlitn it i^ applied to the Father. 

Object, It is objected that the word God is not found in all 
the manuscripts of the Greek text, nor in some translations 
thereof, particularly the Syriac, Arabic, and vulgar Latin, 
which render it, the mystery which was manifest in the Jlesh^ 
&c. 

Ansxv. It is not pretended to be left out in above two Greek 
copies, and it is very unreasonable to oppose these to all the 
rest. As for the Syriac and Arabic translations; some sup- 
pose that it is not true in fact that the word God is left out in 
the Arabic, and though it be left out in the Syriac, yet it is" 
contained in the sense there, which is, gi'eat is the mystery of 
godliness that he was manifested in the flesh ; and as for the 
vulgar Latin version, that has not credit enough, especially 
among Protestants, to support it, when standing in competi- 
tion with so many copies of scripture in which the word is 
found ; therefore we can by no means give up the argument 
which is taken from this text to prove our Saviour's Deity. 
Besides as a farther confirmation hereof, we might appeal to 
the very words of the text itself, whereby it will pkini\ ap- 
pear, that if the word God be left out of it, the following part 
of the verse will not be so consistent with a mystery as it is 
with our Saviour ; particularly it is a very great impropriety 
of expression to say that a mystery, or as some Socinian wri- 
ters explain it, the will of God *, was manifest in the flesh, 
and received in a glorious manner; for this is not agre.'ible to 
the sense of the Greek words, since it is plain that «► <r^(>it s^"*"/""^*, 
which we render was manifest in the fleshy is justly translated, 
being never used in scripture to signify the preaching the gos- 
pel by weak mortal men, as they undei'stand it : but on the 
other hand it is often applied to the manifestation of our Sa^ 
viour in his incarnation, and is explained when it is said, John 
i. 14. that he was made fleshy and xve beheld his glory \ ; and as 
for the gospel, though it met with reception when preached to 
the Gentiles, and there were man)' circumstances of glory that 
attended this dispensation, yet it could not be said for that 
reason to be received up into glory. " Now since what is said 

* Vid. Catech. Racov. ad Quest. Ux. 

■j- Jt is eheivhere said concermiiff him, 1 John Hi- 5. (hat he -tixis manifested, &c. 
t:pa.vipai(»i, as also inver.H. And as for -uihut is said in the last clause of the verse 
ive are co7isi(k'iing, that he was received up into glory, it is a veij great stndn on 
the sense of these words, to apply it to a mystery, or to the gispel, sivce the toords, 
*.nMf% tvJo^n, plainly intimate a person's meeting with a glorious reception -when at- 
ceiiding into heuven; cLrxK%ij£-).W!J.ti, sej-ni^cs sursuin reciperc, therefore -toe ren- 
der it, received np ; and so it is often applied to our Saviour, Acts i. 2, 11, 22. and 
flfs ascension is called, Luke ix. 51. »^«p* t;;c «va,\!)v|w(, tUt time m which he shoithi, 
he received vp- 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 3X3- 

in this verse agrees to our Saviour, and not to tlie niystery of 
godliness, we are bound to conclude that he is God uiunjfest 
in the flesh, and therefore that this objection is of no force. 

The next scripture which we shall consider, is Acts xx. 28« 
Feed the church ofGod^ xohich he hath purchased with his Qxun 
bloody where we observe, that he who is here spoken of is said 
to have a propriety in the church ; this no mere creature can 
be said to havcj but our Saviour is not only here but elsewhere 
described as having a right to it; thus it is said in Hebrews 
iii. 3, 4, 6. Heivas counted xvorthij of more glory than Moses., 
inasmuch as he xvho hath builded the house^ hath more honour 
than the house; and he that hath built all things is God., which 
is as though he should say, our Lord Jesus Christ hath not 
only built his church but all things, and therefore must be 
God ; and ver. 6. he is called a Son over his own house ; so 
that he is the purchaser, the builder, and the j)roprictor of his 
church, and therefore must be a divine person ; and then it is 
observed, that he that hath purchased this church is God, and 
that God hath done this with his own blood ; this cannot be 
applied to any but the Mediator, the Son of Godj \viiose Deity 
jit plainly proves. 

Object. 1. Some object against this sense of the text, that the 
word (?Ci3^here is referred to the Father, and so the sense is^ 
feed the church of God, that is, of the Father, which He., that 
is, Christ, hath purchased with his own blood. 

Ansiv. To this it may be answered, that this seems a very 
great strain and force upon the grammatical sense of the words, 
for certainly He must refer to the immediate antecedent, and 
that is God, to wit, the Son. If such a method of expound- 
ing scripture were to be allowed, it would be an easy matter 
to make the word of God speak what we please to have it | 
therefore we must take it in the most plain and obvious sense, 
as that is which we have given of this text, whereby it ap- 
pears that God the Son has purchased the church with his own 
blood, and that he has a right to it. 

Object. 2. God the Father is said to have purchased the 
church by the blood of Christ, which is called his bipod, as he 
is the Proprietor of all things. 

Ansxv. Though God be the Proprietor of all things, yet no 
one, that does not labour very hard to maintain the cause he 
is defending, would understand his blood in this sense. Accord? 
ing to this method of speaking, God the Father might be said 
to have done every thing that the Mediator did, and so to 
have shed his blood upon the cross, as well as to have pur- 
chased the church thereby, as having a propriety in it. 

The next scripture, which proves our Saviour's Deity, i$ 
Rom. ix. 5. OfwhQmy as concerning the flesh., Christ came^ who 

Vol. r. ' R r 



314 XlIK DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

M over ally God blessed for ever; where he is not onlv calledf 
Gody but God blessed for ever ; which is a character too high 
for any creature, and is the very same that is given to the Fa- 
ther, in 2 Cor. xi. 31. who is styled, The God and Father of 
our Lord Jesiis Christy xvhich is blessed for everi7iore^ that is, 
not only the Object of worship, but the Fountain of blessed- 
ness. Now if Christ be so called, as it seems evident that he 
is, then the word God is, in this text, applied to him in the 
highest sense, so as to argue him a divine Person. Now that 
this is spoken of our Saviour, is plain, because he is the sub- 
ject of the proposition therein contained, and is considered, as 
being ofthefathers^ concerning' thefiesh^ i. e. with respect to 
his human nature ; so that if we can prove that he is here cal- 
led Gody blessed for ever, we shall have the argument we con- 
tend for, this being the only thing contested by the Anti-trini- 
tarians. 

Object. It is objected, that the words may be otherwise ren- 
dered, namely. Let God^ viz. the Father, ruho is over all^ he 
blessed for ever^ to wit, for this great privilege, that Christ 
should come in the flesh ; therefore it does not prove that which 
we bring it for. 

Anszv. I^ defence of our translation of these words, it may 
be replied, that it is very agreeable to the grammatical construc- 
tion thereof. It is true, Erasmus defends the other sense of 
the text, and thereby gives an handle to many after him, to 
make use of it, as an objection against this doctrine, which, 
he says, may be plainly proved from many other scriptures ; 
it is very strange, that, with one hand, he should build up, 
and, with the other, overthrow Christ's proper Deity, unless 
we attribute it to that affectation which he had in his temper 
to appear singuk»r, and, in many things, run counter to the 
common sense of mankind ; or else to the favourable thoughts 
which he appears to have had, in some instances, of the Arian 
scheme. It may be observed, that the most ancient versions 
render this text in the sense of our translation; as do most of 
the ancient fathers in their defence of the doctrine of the Tri- 
nity, as a late writer observes.* And it is certain, this sense 
given thereof by the Anti-trinitarians, is so apparently forced 
and strained, that some of the Socinians themselves, whose 
interest it was to have taken it therein, have not thought fit to 
insist on h. And a learned writer f , w ho has appeared in the 
Anti-trinitarian cause, seems to argue below himself, when he 
attempts to give a turn to this text, agreeable to his own- 
scheme ; for certainly he would have defended his sense of the 
text better than he does, had it been defensible ; since we can 
^■eceive very little conviction from his alleging, that " It is 

•' Se^ WIdtiu in loc. f See Dr. Claries reply to J\'c!^o?i,J>a^f 86, 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 315 

-' uncertain whether the word God was originally in the text; 
' and if it was, whether it be not spoken ot the Father." To 
say no more than this to it, is not to defend this sense of the 
text ; for if there were any doubt whether the word God was 
left out of any ancient manuscripts, he M^ould have obliged the 
world, had he referred to them, which, I think, no one else 
has done : and, since he supposes it uncertain whether it be 
not there s])oken of the Father, that ought to have been proved, 
or not suggested. We might observe, in defence of our trans- 
lation, that whenever the words are so used in the New Tes* 
tament, that they may be translated. Blessed he God*^ they are 
disposed in a different form, or order, and not exactly so as 
we read them therein : but, though this be a probable argu- 
ment, we will not insist on it, but shall rather prove our trans- 
lation to be just, from the connexion of the words, with what 
goes immediatelv before, where the apostle had been speaking 
of our Saviour, as descending from the fathers, according to 
the flesh, or considering him as to his human nature ; there- 
fore it is very reasonable to suppose he would speak of hiin as 
to his divine nature, especially since both these natures are 
spoken of together, in John i. 14. and elsewhere; and whv 
they should not be intended here, cannot well be accounted 
for; so that if our translation be only supposed to be equally 
just with theirs, which, I think, none pretend to deny, the con- 
nexion of the parts of the proposition laid down therein, de- 
termines the sense thereof in our favour. 

Here I cannot pass over that proof which we have of our 
Saviour's divinity, tn 1 John v. 20. This is the true God, and 
eternal life ; where the true God is opposed, not only to those 
idols, which, in the following verse, he advises them to keep 
themselves from ; in which sense the Anti-trinitarians them- 
selves €ometimes call him the true God, that is as much as to 
say, he is not an idol ; upon which occasion a learned writer j 
observes, that they deal with him as Judas did with our Sa- 
viour, cr}% Hail Master, and then betray him : thev would be 
thought to ascribe ever)' thing to him but proper Deity ; but 
that this belongs to him, will evidently appear, if we can prove 
that these words are spoken of him. It is true, the learned 
author of the scripture-doctrine of the Trinity j, takes a great 
deal of pains to prove that it is tlie Father who is here spoken 
of ; and his exposition of the former part of the text, which 
does not immediately support his cause, seems very just, when 
he says. The Son of God is come, and hath given ks an under- 
standings that xve may know him that is true, viz. the Father, 

* T/ius they are four times, Luke i. 68. 2 Cor. i. 5. Eph. i. 3. and 1 Pet. i. p. 
Tjherein iuKoy>no^ is put before Gtcf. ■\ Dr. 0\uen a^uhtst Biddle, page 256. 

^ See JJr. Clarke's repU) to J\'cLon.J>nje '97 



SIS THE DOCTRINE C)F THE TRINITY. 

and we are in him that is trucy speaking still of the Fathei*| 
by or through his Son Jesus Christ ; but, I humbly conceive, 
he does not acquit hiaiseil so v/ell in the sense he gives of the 
folloMdng words, upon which the whole stress of the argument 
depends, not only in that he takes it for granted, that the word 
«7oc, 77n'6', refers back, as is most natural and usual, not to the 
last word in order, but to the last and principal in sense, name- 
ly, the Father, which is^ at least, doubtful, since any unpre- 
judiced reader^ who hath not a cause to maintain, which obli- 
ges him to understand it so, would refer it to the immediate 
antecedent, viz. the Son, by whom we have an interest in the 
Father! for when he had been speaking of him as Mediator, 
and, as such, as the author of this great privilege, namely, our 
knowing the Father, and being in him, it seems veiy agreeable 
to describe him as a Person every way qualified for this work^ 
and consequently as being the true God; and besides, the 
apostlls had spoken of the Father in the beginning of the verse, 
as him that is true^ or, as some manuscripts have it, Ai»i that 
is the true God^ as the same author observes ; therefore what 
reason can be assigned why this should be again repeated, and 
the apostle supposed to say we know the Father, who is the 
true God, which certainly doth not run so smooth^ to say the 
best of it, as when we apply it to our Saviour: that author, in- 
deed, attempts to remove the impropriety of the expression, 
by giving an uncommon sense of these words, namely. This 
knowledge of God is the true religioji^ and the way to eternal 
life; or, this is the true -worship of God by his Son unto eter^ 
nal life, which, though it be a truth, yet can hardly be sup- 
posed to comport with the grammatical sense of the words ^ for 
why should the true God be taken in a proper sense in one part 
of the verse, and a figurative in the other ? And if we take this 
liberty of supposing ellipses in texts, and suppl3dng them with 
words that make to our own purpose, it would be no difficult 
matter to prove almost any doctrine from scripture ; therefore 
the plain sense of the text is, that our Saviour is the true God 
intended in these M'ords ; and it is as evident a proof of his 
Deity, as when the Father is called, the true God; or the only 
true God, as he is in John xvii. 3. where, though he be so call- 
ed, nevertheless he is not to be considered as the only Per- 
son wli j 1-. God, in the most pi"oper sense, but as having the 
one divine nature ,• in which sense the word God is alwa}'s ta- 
ken, vTf '> C- od is said to be one. 

Moreover, let it be observed, that he who is here called the 
true God, is styled, life eternal^ which, I humbly conceive, the 
Father never is, though he be said to give us eternal life^ in one 
of the foregoing verses ; whereas it is not only said concerning 
our Saviour, that z;z him was life^ John i. 4. but he says, John 



THE DOCTRINE OF 



TlIE TRINITY. 317 



XIV, 6. / am the life ; and it is said iy 1 John i. 2. The life xvas 
manifested^ and ive have seen it^ or him, and shew unto you that 
eternal life^ ivhich -was xvith the Father^ W^ '^»'' ""''s/i* which is 
an explication of his own words, John i. l . w^oc tw e^oy witit. 
God; and then he explains what he had said in v^er. 14. of the 
same chapter, when he says, the word of life ^ or the Person who 
calls himself the lifew^xs manifested UJito us ; which seems to be 
a j^eculiar phrase, used b}- this apostle, whereby he sets forth 
our Saviour's glory under this character, whom he calls life^ or 
eternal life ; and he that is so, is the same Person, who is call- 
ed the true God ; which character of being true., is often used 
and applied to Christ, by the same inspired writer, more than 
by ar.y other, as appears from several scriptures, Rev. iii. 17, 
14, and chap. xix. 11. and though, indeed, it refers to him, as 
JMediator, as does also his being called eternal life^ yet this 
agrees very well with his proper Deity, which we cannot but 
think to be plainly evinced by this text. 

There is another scripture, which not only speaks of Christ 
as God, but with some other divine characters of glorj' added 
to his name, which prove his proper Deity : thus in Isa. ix. 6. 
he is styled, the mig-hty God., and several other glorious titles 
are given to him ; as, the wonderful Counsellor^ the everlasting' 
Father., the Prince of peace ; these are all applied to him, as 
one whose incarnation was foretold, to us a Child is born., &c. 
And he is farther described as a Person who was to be the 
Governor of his church, as it is said, the government shall he 
upon his shoulders ; all which expressions so exactly agree with 
his character as God-man, Mediator, that they contain an evi- 
dent proof of his proper Deity. 

Object, They who deny our Saviour's Deity, object, that the 
words ought to be otherwise translated, viz. the wonderfd 
Counsellor., the mighty God^ the everlasting Father., shall call 
him., the Prince of peace, 

Antrv. We have before observed, in defence of our transla- 
tion of another text, * that the Hebrew word, that we translate, 
he shall be called., (which is the same with that which is used in 
this text) does not fully appear to signify actively ; and also 
that such transpositions, as are, both there and here, made use 
of, are not agreeable to that language ; and therefore our sense 
of the text is so plain and natural, that any one, who reads it 
impartially, without forcing it to speak what they would have 
it, would take it in the sense in which we translate it, which 
contains a very evident proof of our Saviour's divinit)'. 

There is another scripture which speaks of Christ, not only as 
God, but as the great God., in Tit. ii. 13. Looking for that bles^ 

* See Pn^e307. 



;"5l8 ^riiE doctrine of the trikity. 

sed hope^ and the glorious appearing of the great God^ and our 
Saviour Jesus Christ ; none ever denied that he, who is said to 
appear^ is true and pi-oper God, and theiefore the principal 
thing we have to pro\'e is, that the text refers only to our Sa- 
viour, or that the apostle does not speak therein of two Persons, 
to wit, the Father and the Son, but of the Son ; and according- 
ly, though we oftentimes take occasion to vindicate our trans- 
lation, here vfc cannot but think it ought to be corrected ; and 
that the word and should be rendered even : * But, because I 
would not lay too great a stress on a grammatical criticism, 
how probable soever it may be ; we ma}' consider some other 
things in the text, whereby it appears that our Saviour is the 
only Person spoken of therein, from what is said bf him, agree- 
able to his character as Mediator : thus the apostle here speaks 
of his appearing ; as he also does elsewhere, in Heb. ix. 28. 
He shall appear the second time tvithout sin unto salvation ; and 
in 1 John iii. 2. When he shall appear^ roe shall be like hini^ &c. 
and then he who, in this text, is said to appear, is called the 
blessed hope^ that is, the object of his people's expectation, who 
shall be blessed b}- him when he appears : thus he is called, in 
1 Tim. u 1. our hope., and in Coloss. i. 27. The hope of glory ; 
now we do not find that the Father is described in scripture as 
appearing, or as the hope of his^people. It is.true, a late writer f 
gives that turn to the text, and supposes, that as the Father is 
said to judge the world by Jesus Christ, and as when the Son 
shall come at last, it will be in the glory of his Father ; so, in 
that sense, the Father may be said to appear by him, as the 
brightness of his ^oxy shines forth in his appearance. But 
since this is no where applied to the sense of those other scrip- 
tures, which speak of every eye's seeing him in his human na- 

* It is certain, that x*i is oftentimes exegetical, as -luell as copulative ; tmd it ap- 
pears to be so, by a great many instances in tlie J\''e'iv Testament ; -when it is put be- 
txoeen two nouns, the first ivhereof has an article, and Hie otJier none,- thus it will be 
acknowledged by all, that it is taken, in 2 Cor. i. 3. Blessed be God, even the Fa- 
tlier of our Loi-d Jesus Christ, o Qioc xau Tlsilip; so in Eph. i. 3. 2 Thes. ii. 16. 
1. Pet. i. 3. Rom. xv. 6. Phil. iv. 20. 2 Cor. xi. 31. and in Col. ii. 2. Jn these scnp- 
iiircR, and others of the like nature, the ..irians themselves allow that this ride holds 
good, though they will not allow it, when it pro^^es ovr Saitiour's Deity, because it 
militates against their own scheme ; as in Eph. v. .5. wltere the apostle speaks of the 
kingdom of Christ, and of God, as we render it ; hut, I think, it oughi to be ren- 
dered, even of God ;ybr it is, tx Xft^a khi Qm so in 2 Tliess. i. 12. The grace of our 
God, and, or even, of the Lord Jesus Christ, the words are, tk ©as M/ua>v km unpin 
'l^KTtt Xpim. See among many other scriptures to the like purpose, 1 Tim. v. 21. and 
chap. vi. 1;1. 2 Pet. i. 2. It is true there are sei^ei^al exceptions to this rule, though they 
are generally in such instances, in which it is impossible for the latter word to con- 
tain ail explication of the former, thot/gh, in other instances, it, for the most 
part, holds good; and tlierefore it will, at least, amount to a probable argument, that 
the words in this text, t* f/.iyctxov 6«( x«/ a-m'Tiipo; n/um 'I)f«r» X/>«» ought to be render- 
ed, of the great God, even our Saviour Jesiis Christ. Vide Granville Sharp on 
the Greek article, and Middletr/n on the sajne subject. f See Dr. Clark's reply 
in JK'elson, page 85. 



THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. SlSl 

tare, aiid plainly refer to some glories that shall be put upon 
that nature, which shall be the object of sense ; why should we 
sav that the text imports nothing else but that the Father shall 
appear in liis appearing, which is such a strain upon the sense of 
the words, that they who make use of it would not allow of, in 
other cases ? I might have added, as a farther confirmation of 
the sense we have given of this text, its agreeableness with what 
the apostle says, in Tit. ii. 10. when he calls the gospel, Iho 
doctrine of God oiir Saviour^ and with what immediately fol- 
lows in ver. 14. where, having before described him as our Sa- 
viour, he proceeds to shew wherein he was so, namely, by giv^ 
ing himaelf fot- tis\ that he might redeem us from all iniquity ; 
and he is not only called God our Saviour by this apostle, but 
lie is so called in 2 Pet. i. 1. where the church is said to have 
obtained like precious faith^ through the righteousness ofGod^ 
and our Saviour fesus Christ; or as the marginal reading has 
it, of our God and Saviour ; this seems to be so just a reading 
of the text we are considering, that some, on the other side of 
the question, allow that the words will very well bear it ; but they 
think their sense agreeable, as the author but now mentioned 
says, to the, whole tenor of Scripture, which is little other than a 
boast, as though the scripture favoured their scheme of doc- 
trine, which, whether it does or no, they, who consider the ar- 
guments on both sides, may judge; and we think, we have as 
much reason to conclude that our sense of the words, which es- 
tablishes the doctrine of our Saviour's being the great God, is 
agreeable to the whole tenor of scripture ; but, passing that 
over, we proceed to another argument. 

There is one scripture in which our Saviour is called both. 
Lord and God^ viz. John xx. 28. And Thomas answered and 
said unto him. My Lord, and my God. The manner of address 
to our Saviour, in these words, implies an act of adoration, giv- 
en to him ,by this disciple, upon his having received a convic- 
tion of his resurrection from the dead ; and there is nothing iu 
the text, but what imports his right to the same glory which be- 
longs tp the Father, when He is called his people's God. Here- 
in they lay claim to him, as their covenant God, their chief 
good and happiness ; thus David expresses himself, Psal. xxxi. 
14. I trusted in thee, Lord, I said thou art mi^ God; and 
God promises, in Hos. ii. 23. that he would say to them which 
were not his people, Tho^i art viy God; and chap. viii. 2. Israel 
shall cry unto 7ne, My God %ve knoiv thee; and the apostle Paul 
speaking of the Father, says, Phil. iv. 19. My God shall sup- 
ply all your need, Jkc. that is, the God from whom I have all 
supplies of grace ; the God whom I worship, to whom I owe 
all I have, or hope for, who is the Fountain of all blessedness. 
Now if there be nothing in this text we are considering, that 



520 THli, DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY. 

determines the wofds to be taken in a lower sense than this, as 
there does not appear to be, then W€ are bound to conclude, 
that Christ's Deity is fully proved froiti it. 

Object. Some of the Socinians suppose, that the words, my 
Lordy and my God^ contain a form of exclamation, or admira- 
tion ; and that Thomas was surprized when he was convinced 
tliat our Saviour was risen from the dead, and so cries out, as 
one in a rapture, my Lord! my God! intending hereby the 
Father, to whose power aloue this event was owing. 

Amxu. Such exclamations as these, though often used in com- 
inon conversation, and sometimes without that due regard to 
the divine Majesty, that ought to attend them, arfe not agree- 
able to the scripture way of speaking. But, if any scriptures 
might be produced to justify it, it is sufficiently evident, that 
no such thing is intended in these words, not only because the 
grammatical construction will not admit of it,* but because the 
Avords are brought in as a reply to what Christ had spoken to 
him in the foregoing verse ; Thomas ansxvered and said unto 
him^ My Lord^ &c. whereas it is very absurd to suppose, that 
an exclamation contains the form of a reply, therefore it must 
he taken for an explicit acknowledgment of him, as his Lord, and 
his God ; so that this objection represents the words so contrary 
to the known acceptation thereof, that many of the Socinians 
themselves, and other late writers, who oppose our Saviour's 
proper Deity, do not think fit to insist on it, but haye recourse 
CO some other methods, to account for those difficulties, that 
lie in their way, taken from this, and other texts, where Christ 
is plainly called God, as in John i. 1. and many other places in 
the New Testament. 

Here we may take occasion to consider the method which 
the Anti-trinitarians use to account for the sense of those scrip- 
tures, in which Christ is called God. And, 

1. Some have have recourse to a critical remark, which they 
make on the word Skc God^ namely, that when it has the arti- 
cle before it, it