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Title: A Body of Divinity, Vol. 1 of 4 - Wherein the doctrines of the Christian religion are - explained and defended, being the substance of several - lectures
Author: Ridgley, Thomas
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Body of Divinity, Vol. 1 of 4 - Wherein the doctrines of the Christian religion are - explained and defended, being the substance of several - lectures" ***

                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the underscore character as _italic_.

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                           A Body of Divinity

                          A BODY OF DIVINITY:



                        BY THOMAS RIDGLEY, D. D.

                       BY JAMES P. WILSON, D. D.

                            IN FOUR VOLUMES.

                               _VOL. I._



                            SECOND STREETS.


_District of Pennsylvania, to wit_:

BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the seventeenth day of May, in the
thirty-eighth year of the Independence of the United States of America,
A. D. 1813, William 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 Divinity: wherein the doctrines of the Christian
    religion, are explained and defended. Being the substance 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 volumes. First American, from the third 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 authors and proprietors of such Copies
during the times therein mentioned.”—And also to the Act, entitled “An
Act supplementary to An Act, entitled ‘An act for the encouragement of
Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the
authors and proprietors of such Copies during the times therein
mentioned,’ and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing,
engraving, and etching historical and other prints.”

D. CALDWELL, Clerk of the
District of Pennsylvania.

                             TO THE READER.

_In this first American edition the original text remains unaltered, the
notes which Dr. Ridgley had subjoined to his work are retained, and for
the sake of distinction, printed in Italics. The other notes have been
added by Dr. Wilson; and in every instance wherein 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 were taken._


The influence which the different sentiments of men, in matters of
religion, have, for the most part, on their temper 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 treated 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 present, think any other than a sense
of duty, in compliance with the call of providence. I heartily wish
there were no occasion to vindicate some of the great doctrines of the
gospel, which were more generally 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 nature: 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 inculcated
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

I must confess, that when I took the first step, in order to the setting
this design on foot, by consenting that proposals should be printed,
about two years since, I reckoned it little other than an expedient to
disengage myself from any farther thoughts, and my friends from any
expectation of it, which I could not 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 being
countenanced, beyond what I could have imagined, and numbers subscribed
for, with more expedition than is usual, I was laid under an obligation
immediately 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 take occasion to express my grateful acknowledgment of the
respect that has been shewed me, by those who have encouraged 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 testimony 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 the glorifying and enjoying of him, my end is fully answered.
Whatever weakness I have discovered, arising from mine inequality to the
greatness of the subjects insisted on, I hope to obtain forgiveness
thereof from God, whose cause I have endeavoured 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 subjects, 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 have 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 flock, as is consistent with that liberty of thinking
and reasoning, which 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 generation 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 writers, in insisting on these mysterious
doctrines, which, probably, will appear, if duly weighed, not to have
done any great service to the cause, which, with convincing evidence,
they have maintained; since it is obvious that this is the principal
thing that has given occasion to some modern Arians to fill the margins
of their books with quotations, taken out of the writings of others,
whom they have either, without ground, pretended 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 reckoned 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 Sonship 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 well
as their essence, or to assert that the manner of their having 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 happiness to be undeceived.

As to what respects the decrees of God, and more particularly 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
considering them as contracting guilt, and thereby procuring this to
themselves. And, when I have been led to insist on the freeness of
divine grace, and the covenant of grace, as made with Christ, and, in
him, with the elect, and maintained the absoluteness 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 our 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 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 question, may be convinced, that there are difficulties of
another nature, as great, if not greater, attending the opposite scheme,
which they themselves maintain. But this I rather chuse to submit to the
impartial judgment of those who are not disposed to condemn a doctrine,
without desiring to know what may be said in its defence.

As to what concerns the work in general, it may be observed, that when I
have occasion to illustrate an argument, by making 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 every page mentions only the general subject of the
question, there is a table prefixed to each volume, 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 concisely explained. This,
together with the table, was drawn up by a kind brother, which I
thankfully acknowledge, as having afforded me more leisure to attend to
the work itself.[1]

As to what concerns the second edition,[2] 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-Britain;
and I cannot but reckon the honour that the learned professors in the
university of Aberdeen did me, in signifying their approbation of it,
much more to be desired, than the highest titles that could have been
conferred upon me without it.

I have nothing farther to trouble the reader with in this preface; but
would only request of him, that, what thoughts soever he may entertain
concerning the way in which I have endeavoured to state and defend some
great and important truths, he would search the scriptures, and explain
them agreeably to the divine perfections, and not think the worse of the
gospel, which stands upon a firmer basis, than the weak efforts of
fallible men, who use their best endeavours to defend it. If we had not
a surer rule of faith, than the methods of human reasoning, religion
would be a matter of great uncertainty, and we should be in danger of
being _tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of
doctrine_. But our best security against this, will be our having hearts
established with grace, and rightly disposed 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 attended with
peace and comfort here, and crowned with blessedness and glory

May the great God, in whose hand is the life and usefulness of all men,
succeed, with his blessing, what is humbly offered to his service, so
far as it is adapted thereunto, and approved of by him, that hereby it
may be conducive to the spiritual advantage of professing families, and
the rising generation.

Footnote 1:

  _And besides the above-mentioned Indexes there are now added to this
  edition an alphabetical index to the whole matters contained in the

Footnote 2:

  _And the same reason may be assigned why this third is now offered to
  the public._


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

_With what distinction the glorifying and enjoyment of God may both be
said to be man’s chief and highest end_, _Page_ 13

_What it is to glorify God_ _ibid_

    _How God glorifies himself_ _ibid_

    _How creatures glorify him_ 14

_What it is to enjoy God_ 17

    _The connexion between glorifying God and the enjoyment of him_ 18

_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 below man_ 32

    _from the structure of man’s body_ 33

    _from the nature of his soul_ 34

    _from the nature and office of conscience_ 35

    _from the boundless desires of the soul_ 37

_From the consent of all nations_ _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 tradition_ _ibid_

_From the works of providence_ 41

_From the foretelling future events_ 42

_From the provision made for all_ 43

    _Particularly for man’s safety_ 44

_The objections taken from the prosperity of the wicked, answered_ 45

_Nothing short of revelation sufficient 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

_How the want of a written word was supplied to the church before_ Moses

_Whether the church, under the Old Testament, understood the spiritual
meaning of the laws contained in it_ 53

_Whether the prophets understood their own predictions_ 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 sufficient rule of faith and obedience_ 59

    _Its properties as 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

    _Is not perverted_ 66

QUEST. IV. Of the Divine Authority of the Scriptures.

_In what respects called divine_ 69

_A divine revelation necessary_ 71

_Not contrary to God’s perfections_ _ibid_

_Inspiration not impossible_ 72

_The scripture proved to be the word of God_ _ibid_

_From the majesty of its style_ 73

_From the purity of its doctrines_ 74

    _Its holiness considered absolutely_ _ibid_

    _And as compared with 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 shewn in the accomplishment of many predictions_ 86

    _It doth not contradict itself_ 87

    _Various objections answered_ 88

    _Rules 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

    _How they might know they were under inspiration_ 108

    _They mistook not the devil’s impressions for divine revelation_ 109

    _The words as well as matter of scripture were given by inspiration_

_From its antiquity and preservation_ 112

_From the testimony of God by miracles_ _ibid_

    _Two objections answered_ 114, 115

    _By the conviction and conversion of sinners_ 116

_How Christians come to a full persuasion of the divinity of scripture_

_The 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.

_How we may conceive aright of the divine perfections_ _ibid_

_Of the communicable and 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. _Infinitely perfect_ 126

    _All-sufficient_ 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. When immutability is a perfection. How peculiar to God_
    135. _Arguments to prove him so_ 136

    _Incomprehensible_ 138

    _Omnipresent_ 139, _and Almighty_ 140

        _Wherein his power appears_ 141

        _What things God cannot do_ 142

        _The improvement of this subject_ 143

    _Omniscient_ 145. _He knows all future contingencies_ 147

        _Properties of God’s knowledge_ 149. _Its improvement_ 150

        _When it is practically denied_, _ibid_.

    _Wisdom of God infinite_ 152

    _Different from knowledge_ _ibid_

    _Wherein it appears_ _ibid_

    _In Creation_ 154. _Providence_ 155. _Redemption_ 156

    _In the constant government of the church_ _ibid_

    _Inferences from God’s wisdom_ 158

_Holiness of God infinite_ 159

    _What it is_, _ibid_. _Instances of it_ 160

    _His suffering the entrance of sin, was no refection on it_ 161

    _’Tis the standard of doctrines_ 162

    _Instances of doctrines which lead to licentiousness_ 162, 163

    _When God’s holiness is contemned_ 163

_Justice of God infinite_ 164

    _How distinguished from his holiness_ _ibid_

    _Glory, how called a reward_ 167

    _Afflictions of believers not properly a punishment_ _ibid_

_Mercy and grace of God infinite_ 168

    _Difference between goodness, mercy, grace, and patience_ 169

    _Mercy is either common or special_ 171

    _Grace free and sovereign_ 172

        _Discriminating_ 173. _Instances of it_, _ibid_. _Afflictions
        not inconsistent with it_ 174

        _Leads not to licentiousness_ _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_ 179

    _Not inconsistent with justice_ 181

    _How to be improved_ 183

    _By whom it is abused_ 184

_Truth, God is abundant therein_ 186

    _How he is called a God of truth_ 187

_Faithfulness of God_, _ibid_. _No impeachment hereof that some
threatenings have not been executed_ 188. _Nor that some promises have
not presently been performed_ 190

    _How 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_

    _Abernethy on that subject, in a note_ 197

    _Was not denied by the wiser Heathen_ 200

    _Inferences from it_ 202

    _How we should conceive of it_ 203

_Different modes used in speaking of the perfections of God_ 204

QUEST. IX, X, XI. Of the Doctrine of the Trinity.

_Calvin on the word Person, in a note_ 207

_The doctrine of the highest importance_ 209

    _How to determine the importance of a doctrine_ 211

    _What knowledge of it necessary to salvation_ 213

_It is a great mystery_, 214. _What a mystery is_, _ibid_.

_It is incomprehensible_ 216

        _Dr. Bates on mysteries_, in a note 217

    _Objections on this account answered_ 220

    _Whether to receive it be to use words without ideas_ _ibid_

    _Whether the revelation of it be unintelligible_ 221

    _Whether that which is unintelligible be the object of faith_ 222

_How this doctrine promotes religion_ 223

    _In what sense revelation is an improvement of the light of nature_

_Not contrary to reason, though above it_ 226

    _When a doctrine is contrary 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 Jews_, in a note 233

Trinity, _not 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, in what respect One_ 243

        _Dr. Jamieson 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, how understood by many_ 259

    _Another method of accounting for it_ 261

    _This account thereof proved_ 264

    _Scriptures relating to Christ’s sonship explained_ 274

    _Christ’s sonship as Mediator, considered_ 276

    _Another view of the subject_, in a note 279

_Procession of the Spirit, how understood by many_, 260. _What it is_

    _The scripture doctrine of it_ 280

_Œconomy of the sacred Three explained_ 291

    _How distinct works are ascribed to them_ 292

_The Deity of the Son proved_ _ibid_

_From his divine names_ 295

    Jehovah _God’s incommunicable name_ 296

        _Never given to creatures_ 297

        _It is not applied to angels_ 301

        _Christ’s Deity proved from it_ 302

    God _and_ Lord, _how 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. 28. 319

    _When the word_ God _is used absolutely_ 321

        _Its meaning when so used_ 321

    _In what sense Christ is styled God by the_ Socinians 322

_From the ascription of the divine nature to him in_ Col. ii. 9. 325

    _In_ Philip, ii. 6. _this explained and defended_ 326

    _Genuineness of_ 1 John v. 7. _defended_ 329

_From his conference with the_ Jews 335

_From his Attributes_ 342

    _Eternity_, 343. _Immutability_, _ibid_.

    _Omnipresence_ 345

        _This proved from_ John iii. 13. 347

    _Omniscience_, 349. _Objections answered_ 350

    _Omnipotency_ 352

_From his glorious titles_ 353

_From his work of creation_ 357

        _The_ Socinian _account thereof_ 359

    _Christ no instrument in creation_ 361

    _How the Father made the world by him_ 362

    _Men only 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 below, yet equal with the Father_ 374

    _Inferiority of Christ, how to be understood in scripture_ 376

_From the worship paid him_ 377

    _Christ the Object of 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 note 397

_Of the divinity of the Holy Ghost_ 398

    _His divinity proved_ _ibid_

    _From_ Acts v. 3, 4. 400

    _From his divine Attributes_ 404

    _From his divine works_ 405

        _Such works performed by him_ 407

    _From the worship 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_ 417

    _Dissuasives from prejudices_ 419

_The general method laid down_ 421

_In what sense God fore-ordained all things_ 422

    _That he did so, proved_ 424

        _Dr. Smalley on the origin of sin_ 425

_Purpose of God free, wise, holy_ 432

    _How it renders salvation necessary_ 484

    _It is unchangeable_ 481

    _Repentance, how ascribed to God_ 483

_Predestination, the word explained_ 433

    _Consequences of denying it_ 499

_Election, the word explained_ 434

    _How used in the Old Testament_ 438

    _How in the New_ 441

    Fathers, _their sense about this doctrine_ 507

_Election to salvation asserted in 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 sanctification 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_ _ibid._

        _from God’s fore-knowledge_ 452

        _from his giving the means of grace_ 454

    Jacob _loved_, Esau _hated, explained_ 456

        _Objections answered_ 458

    _The opposite doctrine, how defended_ 501

_Properties of Election_ 469

    _Misrepresentations of it answered_ 465

_Reprobation, how 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. lxxxi. 12. John xii. 39, 40. _explained_

_Wicked, how made for the day of evil_ 495

_Will 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, how understood there_ 479

    _How God will have all saved_ 501

_Expectation of God not disappointed by the will of man_ 505

    _God not really disappointed, grieved, or resisted_ 506

_Bounds of life fixed by him_ 508

_Stoical fate, how it differs from God’s decrees_ 516

_Objections against Election answered_ 507

    _Practical improvement of it_ 526

_Dr. Williams on election_, in a note 529

                           THE INTRODUCTION.

_Before we enter on our present undertaking, we shall premise a few
things leading to the subject matter thereof; and that we may begin with
what is most obvious, let it be considered,_

_I. That it is a duty incumbent on all who profess the Christian name,
to be well acquainted with those great doctrines on which our faith,
hope, and worship are founded; for, without the knowledge hereof, we
must necessarily be at a loss as to the way of salvation, which none has
a right to prescribe, but he who is the author thereof._[3]

_II. This knowledge of divine truth must be derived from the holy
scriptures, which are the only fountain of spiritual wisdom, 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 know the doctrines
that are contained in scripture; but to observe their connexion and
dependence on one another, and to digest them into such a method, that
subsequent truths may give light to them that went before; or to lay
them down in such a way, that the whole scheme of religion may be
comprised in a narrow compass, and, as it were, beheld with one view,
which will be a very great help to memory: and this is what we call a
system of divine truths, or a methodical collection of the chief
articles of our religion, adapted to the capacity of those who need to
be taught the first principles of the oracles of God: and if they are
designed to give the world a specimen of that form of sound words, which
the church thinks itself obliged to hold fast, and stedfastly to adhere
to, then we call it a confession of faith; or, if digested into
questions and answers, we call it a catechism. And though systems of
divinity, confessions of faith, and catechisms, are treated with
contempt, instead of better arguments, by many who are no friends to the
doctrines which they contain, and who appear to be partial in their
resentment, in as much as they do not dislike those treatises which are
agreeable to their own sentiments, by whatever name they are called; yet
we are bound to conclude that the labours of those who have been happy
in the sense they have given of scripture, and the method in which they
have explained the doctrines thereof, in what 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 word which
they use is infallible; nor do we regard them any farther than as they
are agreeable to, or sufficiently 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 way of preaching or instructing us in divine
truths. Therefore, since scripture lays down no certain invariable rule
concerning this matter, the same command that warrants preaching the
word in any method, includes the explaining of it, as occasion serves,
in a catechetical one._

_V. As there are many excellent bodies of divinity printed in our own
and foreign languages, and collections of sermons on the principal heads
thereof; so there are various catechisms, or methodical summaries of
divine truths, which, when consonant to scripture, are of great
advantage to all Christians, whether elder or younger._

_VI. The catechisms composed by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster,
are esteemed as not inferior to any that are extant, either in our own
or foreign languages, the doctrines therein contained being of the
highest importance, and consonant to scripture; and the method in which
they are laid down is so agreeable, that it may serve as a directory for
the ranging our ideas of the common heads of divinity in such an order,
that what occurs under each of them may be reduced to its proper place.
It is the_ larger _of them that we have attempted to explain and
regulate our method by; because it contains several heads of divinity
not touched on in the_ shorter. _And if, in any particular instance, we
are obliged to recede from the common mode of speaking, (though it is to
be hoped not from the common faith, once delivered to the saints) we
submit our reasoning to the judgment of those who are disposed to pardon
less mistakes, and improve what comes with sufficient evidence to the
best purposes._

_The work indeed is large, but the vast variety of subjects will render
it more tolerable; the form in which it appears is somewhat differing
from that in which it was first delivered, in a public audience, though
that may probably be no disadvantage to it, especially since it is
rather designed to be read in families than committed to memory, and
repeated by different persons, as it has been. The plainness of the
style may contribute to its usefulness; and its being less embarrassed
with scholastic terms than some controversial writings are, may render
it more intelligible to private Christians, whose instruction and
advantage is designed thereby. It would be too great a vanity to expect
that it should pass through the world without that censure which is
common to all attempts of the like nature, since men’s sentiments in
divinity differ as much as their faces; and some are not disposed to
weigh those arguments that are brought to support any scheme of
doctrine, which differs from what they have before received. However,
the work comes forth with this advantage, that it has already conflicted
with some of the difficulties it is like to meet with, as well as been
favoured with some success, and therefore the event hereof is left in
his hand whose cause and truth is endeavoured to be maintained._

Footnote 3:

  “CHRISTIANITY,” it hath been said, “is not founded in argument.” If it
  were only meant by these words, that the religion of Jesus could not,
  by the single aid of reasoning, produce its full effect upon the
  heart; every true Christian would cheerfully subscribe to them. No
  arguments unaccompanied by the influences of the Holy Spirit, can
  convert the soul from sin to God; though even to such conversion,
  arguments are, by the agency of the Spirit, rendered subservient.
  Again, if we were to understand by this aphorism, that the principles
  of our religion could 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 the contrary, under the
  cover of an ambiguous expression, it is intended to insinuate, that
  those principles, from their very nature, can admit no rational
  evidence of their truth, (and this, by the way, is the only meaning
  which can avail our antagonists) the gospel, as well as common sense,
  loudly reclaims against it.

  “The Lord JESUS CHRIST, the author of our religion, often argued, both
  with his disciples and with his adversaries, as with reasonable men,
  on the principles of reason, without this faculty, he well knew, they
  could not be susceptible either of religion or of law. He argued from
  prophecy, and the conformity of the event to the prediction. Luke
  xxiv. 25, &c. John v. 39, & 46. He argued from the testimony of John
  the Baptist, who was generally acknowledged to be a prophet. John v.
  32, & 33. He argued from the miracles which he himself performed, John
  v. 36. x. 25, 37, 38. xiv. 10, 11. as uncontrovertible evidences, that
  GOD Almighty operated by him, and had sent him. He expostulates with
  his enemies, that they did not use their reason on this subject.
  _Why_, says he, _even of yourselves judge ye not 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_ and _judge_ impartially of _what_
  they _say_. 1 Cor. x. 15. Those who do so, are highly commended, for
  the candour and prudence they discover, in an affair of so great
  consequence. Acts xvii. 11. We are even commanded, to be _always ready
  to give an answer to every man that asketh_ us _a reason of our hope_;
  1 Pet. iii. 15. _in meekness to instruct them that oppose themselves_;
  2 Tim. ii. 25. _and earnestly_ to _contend for the faith which was
  once delivered to the saints_. Jude 3. God has neither in natural nor
  revealed religion, _left himself without a witness_; but has in both
  given moral and external evidence, sufficient to convince the
  impartial, to silence the gainsayer, and to render inexcusable the
  atheist and the unbeliever. This evidence it is our duty to attend to,
  and candidly to examine. We must _prove all things_, as we are
  expressly enjoined in holy writ, if we would ever hope to _hold fast
  that which is_ good. 1 Thess. v. 21.”


                               Quest. I.

    QUEST. I. _What is the chief and highest end of man?_

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

1. It is supposed, in this answer, that every intelligent creature,
acting as such, designs some end, which excites endeavours to attain it.

2. The ends for which we act, if warrantable, may be considered 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 observed 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 called chief and
highest, the answer is obvious and easy, _viz._ That the former is
absolutely so, beyond which nothing more excellent 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 distinction, we call chief and highest, are
to be particularly considered by us, together with the connexion that
there is between them.[4]

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

1. That there is a great difference between God’s glorifying himself and
our glorifying him; he glorifies himself when he demonstrates or shews
forth his glory; we glorify him by ascribing to him the glory that is
his due: even as the sun discovers 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 are led to 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 particularly men, are said to glorify God actively; and
this they do by admiring and adoring his divine perfections: these, as
incomprehensible, are the object of admiration; and accordingly the
apostle admires the divine wisdom, Rom. xi. 33. _O the depth of the
riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are
his judgments, and his ways past finding 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 manifestative glory; and _his work which 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 highest value for, we desire
that others may have the same regard to it with ourselves: thus it is
observed by the evangelist, that when the disciples received their first
conviction that Jesus was the Messiah, they imparted this to others; as
Andrew 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 reverence, proclaiming
his goodness with thankfulness, and inviting 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

1. We glorify God by confessing and taking shame to ourselves for all
the sins we have committed, which is interpretatively 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 Achan to do;
_to give glory to God, by making confession to him_, Josh. vii. 19. And
thus the penitent thief, who was crucified with our Saviour, glorified
God, by confessing that he received the _due reward of his deeds_, Luke
xxiii. 40, 41. So did the Levites, in their prayer recorded by Nehemiah,
when they said to God, _Thou art just in all that is brought upon us,
for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly_, Neh. ix. 33.

2. By loving and delighting in him above all things, which is to act as
those who own the transcendent amiableness of his perfections, as the
object of their highest esteem. Thus the Psalmist says, Psal. lxxiii.
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 concerns, 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 _committed 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 proportion 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 unworthiness of all we have or hope for; and owns
every thing we receive to be the gift of grace; _By the grace of God_,
says the apostle, _I 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 engaged therein; which is what the Psalmist
intends, when he says, Psal. c. 2. _Serve the Lord with gladness_.

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 strength derived from him.

8. As we 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 his sovereignty and right to
_do what he will with us as his own_, 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 with 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 spiritual
advantage. It also consists in an easy, patient, and contented frame of
spirit, without the least murmuring or repining thought; concluding,
that whatever he does is _well 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 devoted 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 power to get wealth_, 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, encouraged 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 principal 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 depend on
Christ, our great Mediator, both for assistance and acceptance; by which
means we glorify him, as the fountain of all grace, in whom alone both
our persons and services are accepted 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 minute, or indifferent actions of life; yet we are to glorify him
habitually, as having our hearts right with him; so that whatever we do
may refer ultimately to his glory. As every step the traveller takes is
toward his journey’s end, though it may not be every moment in his
thoughts; so the less important actions of life should be subservient to
those that are of greater consequence, in which the honour of God and
religion is more immediately concerned; in which sense we maybe said to
glorify him therein.

Thus having considered, that it is our indispensable duty to make the
glory of God our highest end in all our actions, we might farther add,
as a motive to enforce it, that God is the first cause of all things,
and his own glory was the end he designed in all his works, whether of
creation or providence: and 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
creatures, designed only to glorify him objectively, answer the end for
which they were made, we, by denying him that tribute of praise which is
due from us, abuse our superior faculties, and 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 him, 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. lxvii,
6. _God, 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 when we can say, 1
John i. 3. _Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son
Jesus Christ_. This enjoyment 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 interrupted and weakened, through the prevalency of
indwelling sin: 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

(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 _with him where he is,
to behold his glory_, John xvii. 24. And in order hereto, their souls
shall be made capable or receptive hereof, by the removal not only of
all sinful but natural imperfections, and shall be more enlarged, as
well as have brighter discoveries of the 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.[5]

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
blessedness, they, who shall hereafter be possessed of it, must be
trained 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 glory,
honour, immortality, and eternal life, in his presence hereafter!
Therefore a life of holiness is absolutely 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. lxxxiv. 11. Therefore, _he who begins a good work 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 as a
mark of grace, that persons must be content to perish eternally, that
God may be glorified. It is true, it is alleged in favour of this
supposition, that Moses, and the apostle Paul, seem to give countenance
to it; one by saying, Exod. xxxii. 32. _If thou wilt forgive their sin;
and, if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast
written_; the other, Rom. ix. 3. _I could wish that myself were 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 written, must not be supposed to be
willing to perish eternally for Israel’s sake; but he 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 may
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 warrantable, though
in some respects proceeding from a good principle; 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.[6]

2. Since the eternal enjoyment 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 faithful, thus, Psal. lxxxiii. 24. _Thou shalt guide me
with thy counsel, and afterward receive me 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 view, when he preferred the _reproach of
Christ_ before the _treasures of Egypt_, ver. 26.

Nevertheless, when this respect to future blessedness is warrantable, it
must be considered as an expedient for our glorifying 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 service, or conferred in a way of
debt, but as a reward of grace, given freely to us, though founded on
the merits of Christ.

Footnote 4:

  He who glorifies God intentionally, thereby promotes his own
  happiness. Our enjoying God is glorifying him. The two objects
  coalesce. Vide note on page 19.

Footnote 5:

  The answer connected with this question makes the glorifying and
  enjoyment but _one_ end; and thus the enjoyment is supposed to consist
  in the glorifying God.

Footnote 6:

  It is not probable that the idea of a _book of life_, which is not to
  be understood literally, was at all in use in the days of Moses. The
  term ηυχομην used by Paul is not hypothetical, but affirmative, and in
  the past tense, _I did wish_, or rather _I was wishing_ to be
  separated from Christ. The truth of this assertion no one, who is
  acquainted with his history, can doubt; for he had been a persecutor.
  Such a wish, made after he was a subject of saving grace, would have
  been unnatural, irrelevant, impious and impossible. It has been
  nevertheless, zealously contended by some learned and pious modern
  divines that, “the benevolent person is disposed, and willing to give
  up, and relinquish his own interest and happiness, when inconsistent
  with the public good, or the greatest good of the whole.”[7] By
  _benevolence_ they mean love to being in general, without regard to
  any excellency in that being, “unless mere existence”[8] be such. In
  this they place all virtue, and all religion. And that they may the
  more clearly distinguish this species of love from that of
  _complacency_ and _gratitude_, in which the party ever has his eye
  upon his own advantage, they usually adopt the phrase _disinterested
  benevolence_, yet not wholly discarding the idea of the party’s own
  interest, but viewing it only on the general scale with that of all
  other beings.

  True holiness consists in a disposition, and suitable expressions of
  it, in conformity to the _revealed will_ of God; so far as this
  accords with the good of the whole, such benevolence will run parallel
  with holiness; but every attempt to substitute any other rule of
  action or ground of obligation than the authoritatively expressed will
  of God, approaches the crime of idolatry. It is certainly a very high
  stand we assume, when we profess to pass by all the amiableness, and
  excellency of the divine character; and all his goodness, and mercy to
  us; and to love his _being_ only together with created existences,
  with the same independent, and dignified love of benevolence, which he
  exercises towards his helpless creatures. All the displays of his
  perfections and compassions seem designed rather to elicit the
  affections of _complacency_ and _gratitude_. That the advantages of
  religion in this world, and the next may be sought from selfish, and
  mercenary views is a lamentable truth; but because carnal minds may
  find their own destruction in aiming at the blessings which the
  spiritual only can enjoy, this is no reason wherefore the saints
  should not find their ultimate interest to accompany their duty in
  every instance. Accordingly, for their encouragement, the blessings of
  peace, and spiritual consolations here, and of eternal happiness, are
  exhibited to their view in glowing colours. But this would not have
  been done if it were essential to the character of their love, that
  they should be willing to be _separated from Christ_. That we have by
  nature a fearful propensity to earthly good, which is vain, illusory,
  disgusting and debasing, must be acknowledged; and that we are
  therefore required to _deny our_ natural _selves_ is known unto every
  Christian. But it by no means results, that because we must turn away
  from the temptations of _temporal things_, we may not aspire to those
  blessings which are _spiritual and eternal_. God himself is eternally
  happy in his _own self complacency_, and has encouraged us to expect
  everlasting happiness from the same source. Jesus Christ, whose
  benevolence towards us is an eternal appeal to our _gratitude_, which
  supposes a regard to our own interest; in suffering death had respect
  also to the joy which was set before him, and shall see of the travail
  of his soul and shall be satisfied. Love is essential to duty, without
  which it is forced, and cannot be deemed obedience in the view of him
  who searches the heart. This has been noticed by the Saviour, but he
  has omitted those distinctions, which are accounted so important in
  modern times; yet his doctrines are _not less_ spiritual, than ours
  after we have sublimated the gospel to the highest pitch of

Footnote 7:


Footnote 8:

  President EDWARDS.

                               Quest. II.

    QUEST. II. _How doth it appear that there is a God?_

    ANSW. The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare
    that there is a God; but his word and Spirit only, 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.

1. Because it is the foundation of all natural and revealed religion;
and therefore it must not be received merely by tradition, 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 dignity and importance of the subject, and would be an
instance of great stupidity, especially seeing we have so full and
demonstrative an evidence thereof, taken from the whole frame of nature;
in which there is nothing but what affords an argument to confirm our
belief that there is a God.

2. There is a great deal 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 necessary that we should use all possible means
for our establishment in this great truth.

3. The abounding of atheism in the world, and the boldness of many in
arguing against this truth, renders it necessary 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. _The fool, who saith in his heart there
is no God._

4. This will greatly tend to establish our faith in those comfortable
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. _Remember 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 distinguished from, and rendered
superior to, all other creatures in this lower world, whereby he is able
to observe the connexion of things, and their dependence on one another,
and infer those consequences which may be deduced from thence. These
reasoning powers, indeed, are very much sullied, depraved, and weakened,
by our apostacy from God, but not wholly obliterated; so that there are
some remains thereof, which are common to all nations, whereby, without
the help of special revelation it may be known that there is a God.

But this either respects the principle of reasoning, which we were born
with, upon the account whereof infants are called intelligent creatures;
or the exercise thereof in a discursive way, 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

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

2. These creatures could not make themselves, for that which is nothing
cannot act; if it makes itself, it acts before it exists; it acts as a
creator before it exists as a creature; and it must be, in the same
respect, both a cause and 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 create something
out of nothing, or out of matter altogether unfit to be made what is
produced out of it, is to act above the natural 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 creature to perform; therefore
creatures cannot be supposed to have made one another.

4. If it was supposed possible for one creature to make another, 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.

Or farther, supposing the creature made himself, and all other things,
how comes it to pass that no one knows much of himself comparatively, or
other things? Does not he that makes things understand them? therefore
man could not make himself, 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 him, and
through him, and to him are all things_, Rom. xi. 36. _In him we live,
and move, and have our being_, Acts xvii. 28.

Thus much concerning the more general method of reasoning, 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 could 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 underived, and a derived
being; and if all creatures exist, as has been shewn, by the will and
power of their Creator, and so are finite 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 similitude. Suppose we were cast on an unknown
island, and there saw houses built, but no men to inhabit them, should
we not conclude there had been some there that built them? Could the
stones and timber put themselves into that form in which they are? Or
could the beasts of the field build them, that are without
understanding? Or when we see a curious piece of workmanship, as a
watch, or a clock, perform all its motions in a regular way, can we
think the wheels came together by chance?[10] should we not conclude
that it was made by one of sufficient skill to frame and put them
together in that order, and give motion to them? _Shall the clay say to
him that fashioned it, What makest thou, or thy work, He hath no hands?_
Isa. xlv. 9.

This leads us to consider the wisdom of God in his works, which
demonstrates his being. This the Psalmist mentions with admiration,
Psal. civ. 24. _O Lord, how manifold are thy works; in wisdom hast thou
made them all!_ When we see letters put together, which make words or
sentences, and these a book, containing the greatest sense, and the
ideas joined together in the most beautiful 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 of the creation, proves
that there is a God. This appears,

In the exact harmony and subserviency of one part of the creation to
another, Hos. ii. 21, 22. _I will hear, saith the Lord; I will hear the
heavens, and they shall hear the earth. And the earth shall hear the
corn, and the wine, and the oil, and they shall 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 dungeon 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 small 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 commands the sun, and it shineth, and the clouds to give
rain at his pleasure. It is he that gave the regular motion to the
heavenly bodies, and, by his wisdom, fixed and continues the various
seasons of the year, summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, day and
night, and every thing that tends to the beauty and harmony of nature;
therefore these curious, and never-enough to be admired, works, plainly
declare that there is a God. This is described 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 waters is straitened. Also by watering he
wearieth the thick cloud; he scattereth his bright cloud. Dost thou know
the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect
in knowledge? How thy garments are warm when he quieteth the earth by
the south-wind?_[11]

But that we may farther evince this truth, we shall lay down the
following arguments to prove the being of a God, which appears,

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

1. No creature can produce a fly or the least insect, but according 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 all living creatures below man, which
are subservient, many of them, to one another, and all to man, and that
not by our ordering; 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 producing 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 winter; the silk-worm 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 way, 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 ordered, 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 own
strength, or power, to resist or rebel against them; which is ordered by
infinite wisdom: and there are many other instances of the like nature,
all which 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; how they are framed in their first rudiments,
preserved and grow to perfection in the womb, and how they 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 instance but in living
creatures. Even fire will consume and waste itself by degrees, and all
things, which have only acquired heat, will soon grow cold; but the
natural heat of the body of man is preserved in it as long as life is

3. The continual supply of animal spirits, and their subserviency to
sense and motion.[13]

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

5. The situation of the parts in their most proper place: the internal
parts, which would be ruined and destroyed if exposed to the injuries
that the external ones are: these are secured in proper inclosures, and
so preserved, Job x. 11. _Thou hast cloathed me with skin and flesh, and
hast fenced me with 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 proper actions.

7. The differing 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 necessary for society, and our performing the
duties we owe to one another.

8. The union of this body with 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 formed the spirit of
man within him._ And hereby his power and wisdom, and consequently his
being, is declared. For,

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

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 very

(1.) It can frame ideas of things superior to its own nature, and can
employ itself in contemplating and beholding the order, 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 accordingly conceive
pleasure or uneasiness in the forethoughts thereof.

(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 man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he
power in the day of death_, 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 come not under the cognizance
of human laws, the uneasiness that it finds in itself, and its dread of
punishment, plainly discovers that it is apprehensive of a divine being,
who has been offended, whose wrath and resentment it fears. All the
endeavours that men can use to bribe, blind, or stupify their
consciences, will not prevent these fears; but the sad apprehension 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, conscience will still follow them with
its accusations and dread of divine wrath: _The wicked are like the
troubled sea, when it cannot rest_, Isa. lvii. 20. _A dreadful sound is
in his ears; in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him_, Job xv.
21. _Terrors take hold of him as waters, 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 cast upon him, and not
spare; he would fain flee out of his hand_, Job xxvii. 20, 21, 22. _The
wicked flee when no man pursueth_, Prov. xxviii. 1.

And this is universal, there are none but are, some time or other,
liable to these 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 judgment to come, Felix trembled._
Even Pharaoh himself, the most hard-hearted sinner in the world, who
would fain have forced a belief upon himself that there is no God, and
boldly said, _Who is the Lord, that I should obey him?_ yet he could not
ward off the conviction that there is a God, which his own conscience
suggested. Therefore he was forced to say, Exod. ix. 27. _I have sinned
this time; the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked._ And
indeed all the 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 Belshazzar, 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 was changed, and his thoughts troubled
him; so 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 of mind and peace of conscience, as affords
them farther matter of conviction concerning this truth. It is, indeed,
a privilege that they enjoy, who have the light of scripture revelation,
and so it might have been considered under 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 with 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 fixed, 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, accompanied with
grace, so that conscience is most quiet when the soul is most holy;
which shews that there is a hand of God in working or speaking this
peace, as designing thereby to encourage and own that grace which he has
wrought in them: Rom. x. 13. _thus the God of hope_ is said _to fill us
with 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 speaking peace to their
souls; therefore when he is pleased, for wise ends, to withdraw from
them, they are destitute of it; so that God is hereby known by his
works, or by those influences of his grace, whereby he gives peace to

V. The being of a God appears from those vast and boundless desires,
which are implanted in the soul; so that it can take up its rest, and
meet with full satisfaction, in nothing short of a being of infinite
perfection: therefore there is such an one, which is God. This will
farther 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 commensurate to its desires; _The
eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing_, Eccles. i.
8. _That which 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. _They are filled
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 mankind 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 many who have thus _known God,
who have not worshipped and glorified 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, who 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, appears,

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 from their own
writings, reckoned atheism a detestable crime, for 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 worship, 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 informed, that there are some whole countries in Africa and
America, where there is no worship, 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 nations.

_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 the 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 born idiots, therefore reason is not natural to man, or
universal? 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 all 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

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 own 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 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 thereon, that
both one and the other took its rise from human policy, that hereby the
world, being amused with such-like speculations, might be restrained
from those irregularities, which were inconsistent with the well-being
of civil government; and that this was 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, tradition
propagated, and fear rooted in the minds of men, what we call the
natural ideas of God and religion.

_Answ._ This is a vile insinuation, but much in the mouths of atheists,
without any shadow of reason, or attempt to prove it; 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 support of civil government.

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? 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 this notion first sprang up, or was contrived? Or
could the contrivance 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 imposture. The world could never be so
imposed on, and yet not know by whom; the plot would certainly have been
confessed by some who were in the secret.

(3.) If human policy had first invented this notion, certainly the
princes and great men of the world, who had a hand in it, would have
exempted themselves from any obligation to own a God, or any form of
worship, 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 subjection 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 certain, that it was not
propagated by persecution; for though there has been persecution to
inforce particular modes of worship, yet there never was any such method
used to inforce the belief of a God, for that took place without any
need thereof, it being instamped on the nature of man.

If therefore it was 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 politicians not known, nor the arts they used
to persuade the world that there is a God found out. How unreasonable
therefore 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 by implicit faith. For,

(1.) Those notions that have been received with implicit faith by
tradition, from generation to generation, are not pretended 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 particular
nations, or a particular set of men, who have propagated 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 the heathen, by
tradition: whereas the belief of a God was not so, but is rooted in the
nature 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 argument to establish us in
the belief thereof. For,

(1.) A liableness to punishment for crimes committed, supposes 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.

(2.) The principal idea which mankind has of God, 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 goodness, 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 vengeance, 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 because 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 necessities require: creatures
could no more provide for themselves than they could make themselves;
therefore he that provides all things for them is God. All finite beings
have their respective wants, whether they are sensible thereof or no;
and 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 necessities of
_beasts and creeping things_; who are said, _to wait upon him, that he
may give them their meat in due season_, Psal. civ. 25, 27. Psal. cxlv.

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

1. The extraordinary dispensations thereof, when things happen contrary
to the common course, and fixed laws of nature, as when miracles have
been wrought. These are undeniable 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 God and author thereof. To deny that miracles have been wrought,
is little better than scepticism; since it hath been proved, 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 confirmed thereby. It is true, they were never wrought
with an immediate design to prove that there is a God, since that is
sufficiently demonstrated without them; but in as much as they have been
wrought with other views, the being of a God, whose immediate 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 miraculous, 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 many things should
befal us, or others in the world, that are altogether unlooked for. Thus
one is cast down, and a blast thrown on all his endeavours, and another
raised beyond his expectation, Psal. lxxv. 6, 7. _Promotion cometh
neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is
the judge; he putteth down one, and setteth up another._

(2.) The wisest and best concerted schemes of men are often baffled, and
brought to nought, by some unexpected occurrence of providence, which
argues a divine controul, as God says, 1 Cor. i. 19. _I will destroy the
wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the
prudent._ And who 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 sagacity, foretel future
contingent events with a certain peremptory and infallible knowledge,
and not by mere conjecture, Isa. xli. 24. _Shew the things that are to
come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods._ And the reason is
plain, because our knowledge reaches no farther than to see effects, and
judge of them in and by their causes. Thus we may easily foretel that
necessary causes will produce those effects that are agreeable to their
nature: but when the effect is not necessary, but contingent, or purely
arbitrary, then we have nothing to judge by, and therefore 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 way,
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 providing for
themselves. This is not only observable in mankind, as the prophet says,
Isa. xlix. 15. _Can a woman 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
provide for them, and sometimes endanger their own lives to defend them.

2. They bring forth their young at the most convenient season 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
forth their fruits to supply and feed them.

3. When they bring forth their young, there is a providence that
provides the breast, the paps, the udder replenished with, milk to feed
them; and there is a natural instinct in their young, without
instruction, to desire to receive their nourishment 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 holes and caverns in the earth to
secure them from those that pursue them. And this cannot be the effect
of mere chance, but it is an evident proof of the being of a God.

5. Providence is, in a peculiar manner, concerned for the supply of man,
the noblest of all creatures in the world; _He giveth food to all
flesh_, Psal. cxxxvi. 25. _Thou preservest man and beast_, Psal. xxxvi.
6. The earth is stored with variety of food; and whereas the poor, which
is the greater part of mankind, cannot purchase those far-fetched, or
costly dainties, which are the support of luxury, these may, by their
industry, 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; and if their
families increase, and a greater number is to be provided for, they
generally have a supply in proportion to their increasing number.

6. Providence has stored the earth with various medicines, and given
skill to men to use them as a relief against the many sicknesses that we
are exposed to. All these things, and innumerable other instances that
might be given, argue the care and bounty, and consequently prove the
being of God, whose 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 another would bring with
them inevitable destruction, did not providence prevent it. As,

(1.) Those things, which are the greatest blessings of nature, would 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 up if it were
too near. So the sea would swallow up, and bring a deluge on the earth,
if God had not, by his decree, fixed it within certain bounds, and made
the shore an inclosure to it, and said hitherto shalt thou go and no

(2.) The elements are advantageous to us, by their due temperature and
mixture; but, were 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 mixed, as the God of nature, has
tempered and disposed them, for the preservation of life and health.

(3.) The wild 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 desert places, remote from cities, being
allotted for them; and some creatures would 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 forward their destruction, as another tends to breed them.

(4.) Men by reason of their contrary tempers and interests, and that
malice and envy, which is the consequence of our first apostacy, would
destroy one another, if there were not a providence that restrains them,
and gives a check to that wickedness that is natural to them, whereby
the world is kept in a greater measure of peace than otherwise it would
be; hence, the Psalmist says, Psal. lxxvi. 10. _Surely the wrath of man
shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath 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 almost overcome by; as he
says, _my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipt. For I was
envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked_, Psal.
lxxiii. 2, 3.

_Answ._ 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, without
regard to the deserts of men, argues the sovereignty 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 he will with his own.

2. There is a display of infinite wisdom in these dispensations of
providence, in that the good man is made better by affliction, as hereby
the kindness and care of providence appears; and the wicked man is
forced to own, 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 of 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 laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the
end of that mirth is heaviness_, Prov. xiv. 13. And, on the other hand,
outward trouble in the godly is not inconsistent with spiritual joy and
inward peace, which is more than a balance for all the distresses they
labour under; it is said, _The heart knoweth his own bitterness, and a
stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy_, Prov. xiv. 10. _He shall be
satisfied from himself_, ver. 14.

4. We are not to judge of things according to their present appearance,
when we determine a person happy or miserable, but are to consider the
end thereof, since every thing is well that ends well. Thus the
Psalmist, who, as was before observed, was staggered at the prosperity
of the wicked, had his faith established, by considering the different
events of things. Concerning the wicked he says Psal. lxxiii. 18, 19,
20. _Thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down to
destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they
are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh: so, O
Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image_; which is a
very beautiful expression, representing all their happiness as
imaginary, a vain dream, and such as is worthy 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 scripture: 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 that 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 affords; and this we have in scripture. Herein
the glory of God shines forth with the greatest lustre, and we have an
account of works 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 Spirit; and therefore it is well observed,
that this knowledge only is sufficient and effectual to salvation; which
leads us to consider the insufficiency of the light of nature to answer
this end. The knowledge of God, that may be attained thereby, is
sufficient, indeed, in some measure, to restrain our corrupt 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 aggravated than that
of those who sin against gospel light; but yet it is insufficient to
salvation, since it is a truth of universal extent, that _there is
salvation in no other, but in Christ_, Acts iv. 12. and that it is _life
eternal to know_ not only _the true God, but Jesus Christ, whom he hath
sent_, John xvii. 3. and this cannot be known by the light of nature,
but by divine revelation; which leads us to consider in what respect the
knowledge of God, as it is contained in and derived from scripture, is
sufficient to salvation.

Here we do not assert the sufficiency thereof, exclusive of the aids of
divine grace, 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 be separated; the Spirit doth not save any
without the word,[14] and the word is not effectual to salvation, unless
made so by the Spirit.

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

1. Though the light of nature shews us that there is a God, it doth not
fully display his perfections, so as they are manifested 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 be
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; or he that does not
enjoy him here, shall not enjoy him 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 we have seen
and heard, declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with
us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his son Jesus

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 answer 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 the
Spirit; and this he does,

(1.) By the internal illumination of the mind, giving a spiritual
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 knowledge of the glory of God,
in the face of Jesus Christ_.

(2.) By subduing the obstinate will of man, and so enabling it to yield
to a ready, chearful, and universal obedience to the divine commands
contained in scripture; and, in particular, inclining it to own Christ’s
authority, as king of saints; and to say, 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 desires after God
and Christ, and a very high esteem and value for divine truth, and
removes all those prejudices which are in our minds against it, opens
and enlarges our hearts to receive 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 mine eyes,
that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. O that my ways were
directed to keep thy statutes!_

Footnote 9:

  “As for _our own existence_, we perceive it so plainly, and so
  certainly, that it neither needs, nor is capable of any proof. For
  nothing can be more evident to us than our own existence; _I think, I
  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 suffer me to
  doubt of that. For if I know _I feel pain_, it is evident I have as
  certain perception of my own existence, as of the existence of the
  pain I feel: or, if I know _I doubt_, 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 _we have an intuitive
  knowledge of our own existence_, and an internal infallible perception
  that we are. In 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 degree of _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-entity, or the absence
  of all being, cannot be equal to two right angles, it is impossible he
  should know any demonstration in Euclid. If, therefore, we know there
  is some real being, and that non-entity cannot produce any real being,
  it is an evident demonstration, that 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 that 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 eternal source, then, of all being, must
  also be the source and original of all power; and so _this eternal
  Being must be also the most powerful_.

  “Again, a man finds in himself _perception_ and _knowledge_. We have
  then got one step farther; and we are certain now, that there is not
  only some being, but some knowing intelligent being in the world.

  “There was a time, then, when there was no knowing being, and when
  knowledge began to be; or else there has been also _a knowing being
  from eternity_. If it be said, there was a time when no being had any
  knowledge, when that eternal Being was void of all understanding: I
  reply, that then it was impossible there should ever have been any
  knowledge; it being as impossible that things wholly void of
  knowledge, and operating blindly, and without any perception, should
  produce a knowing being, as it is impossible that a triangle should
  make itself three angles bigger than two right 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 triangle, that it should put into itself greater angles
  than two right ones.

  “Thus, from the consideration of ourselves, and what we infallibly
  find in our own constitutions, our reason leads us to the knowledge of
  this certain and evident truth, that _there is an eternal, most
  powerful, and most knowing being_; which whether any one will please
  to call _God_, it matters not. The thing is evident, and from this
  _idea_ duly considered, will easily be deduced all those other
  attributes, which we ought to ascribe to this eternal Being. If,
  nevertheless, any one should be found so senselessly arrogant, as to
  suppose man alone knowing and wise, but yet the product of mere
  ignorance and chance; and that all the rest of the universe acted only
  by that blind hap-hazard: I shall leave with him that very rational
  and emphatical rebuke of _Tully, l. 2. de leg._ to be considered at
  his leisure.

  “What can be more sillily arrogant and misbecoming than for a man to
  think that he has a mind and understanding in him, but yet in all the
  universe beside there is no such thing? Or that those things, which
  with the utmost stretch of his reason he can scarce comprehend, should
  be moved and managed without any reason at all?” _Quid est enim
  verius, quam neminem esse oportere tam stulte arrogantem, ut in se
  mentem et rationem putet inesse, in cœlo mundoque non putet? Aut ea
  quæ vix summa ingenii ratione comprehendat, nulla ratione moveri

  “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 discovered to us. Nay, I presume I may say, that we
  more certainly know that there is a God than that there is any thing
  else without us. When I say we _know_, I mean there is such a
  knowledge within our reach, which we cannot miss, if we will but apply
  our minds to that, as we do to several other inquiries.”


Footnote 10:

  “In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a _stone_, and
  were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer,
  that, for any thing I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for
  ever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to shew the absurdity of
  this answer. But suppose I had found a _watch_ upon the ground, and it
  should be enquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I
  should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that, for
  any thing I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet, why
  should not this answer serve for the watch, as well as for the stone?
  Why is it not as admissible in the second case, as in the first? For
  this reason, and for no other, _viz._ that, when we come to inspect
  the watch, we perceive (what we could not discover in the stone) that
  its several parts are framed, and put together for a purpose, _e. g._
  that they are so formed 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 had been differently shaped from what they are, of a
  different size from what they are, or placed after any other manner,
  or in any other order, than that in which they are placed, either no
  motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which
  would have answered the use, that is now served by it. To reckon up a
  few of the plainest of these parts, and of their offices, all tending
  to one result: We see a cylindrical box, containing a coiled elastic
  spring, which, by its endeavour to relax itself, turns round the box.
  We next observe a flexible chain (artificially wrought for the sake of
  flexure) communicating the action of the spring from the box to the
  fusee. We then find a series of wheels, the teeth of which catch in,
  and apply to, each other, conducting the motion from the fusee to the
  balance, and from the balance to the pointer; and at the same time, by
  the size and shape of those wheels, so regulating that motion, as to
  terminate in causing an index, by an equable and measured progression,
  to pass over a given space in a given time. We take notice that the
  wheels are made of brass, in order to keep them from rust; the springs
  of steel, no other metal being so elastic; that over the face of the
  watch there is placed a glass, a material employed in no other part of
  the work, but, in the room of which, if there had been any other than
  a transparent substance, the hour could not be seen without opening
  the case. This mechanism being observed (it requires indeed an
  examination of the instrument, and perhaps some previous knowledge of
  the subject, to perceive and understand it; but being once, as we have
  said, observed and understood,) the inference, 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 ourselves, 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 modern manufacture.
  Does one man in a million know how oval frames are turned? Ignorance
  of this kind exalts our opinion of the unseen and unknown artist’s
  skill, 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 other. Nor can I perceive that it varies at all,
  the inference, whether the question arise concerning a human agent, or
  concerning an agent of a different species, or an agent possessing, in
  some respects, a different nature.

  “II. Neither, secondly, would it invalidate our conclusion, that the
  watch sometimes went wrong, or that it seldom went exactly right. The
  purpose of the machinery, the design, and the designer, might be
  evident, and in the case supposed would be evident, in whatever way we
  accounted for the irregularity of the movement, or whether we could
  account for it or not. It is not necessary that a machine be perfect,
  in order to shew with what design it was made: still less necessary,
  where the only question is, whether it were made with any design at

  “III. Nor, thirdly, would it bring any uncertainty into the argument,
  if there were a few parts of the watch, concerning which we could not
  discover, or had not yet discovered, in what manner they conduced to
  the general effect; or even some parts, concerning which we could not
  ascertain, whether they conduced to that effect in any manner
  whatever. For, as to the first branch of the case; if, by the 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 retarded, no doubt
  would remain in our minds as to the utility or intention of these
  parts, although we should be unable to investigate the manner
  according to which, or the connection by which, the ultimate effect
  depended upon their action or assistance: and the more complex is the
  machine, the more likely is this obscurity to arise. Then, as to the
  second thing supposed, namely, that there were parts which might be
  spared without prejudice to the movement of the watch, and that we had
  proved this by experiment; these superfluous parts, even if we were
  completely assured that they were such, would not vacate the reasoning
  which we had instituted concerning other parts. The indication of
  contrivance remained, with respect to them, nearly as it was before.

  “IV. Nor, fourthly, would any man in his senses think the existence of
  the watch, with its various machinery, accounted for, by being told
  that it was one out of possible combinations of material forms; that
  whatever he had found in the place where he found the watch, must have
  contained some internal configuration or other; and that this
  configuration might be the structure now exhibited, _viz._ of the
  works of a watch, as well as of a different structure.

  “V. Nor, fifthly, 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 their present form and situation.
  He never knew a watch made by the principle of order; nor can he even
  form to himself an idea of what is meant by a principle of order,
  distinct from the intelligence of the watch-maker.

  “VI. Sixthly, he would be surprised to hear, 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 be informed, that the watch in his
  hand was nothing more than the result of the laws of _metallic_
  nature. It is a perversion of language to assign any law, as the
  efficient, operative, cause of any thing. A law presupposes an agent;
  for it is only the mode, according to which an agent proceeds: it
  implies a power; for it is the order, according to which that power
  acts. Without this agent, without this power, which are both distinct
  from itself, the law does nothing; is nothing. The expression, ‘the
  law of metallic nature,’ may sound strange and harsh to a philosophic
  ear; but it seems quite as justifiable as some others which are more
  familiar to him, such as ‘the law of vegetable nature,’ ‘the law of
  animal nature,’ or indeed as ‘the law of nature’, in general, when
  assigned as the cause of phænomena, in exclusion of agency and power;
  or when it is substituted into the place of these.

  “VIII. 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 for his
  argument. He knows the utility of the end: he knows the subserviency
  and adaptation of the means to the end. These points being known, his
  ignorance of other points, his doubts concerning other points, affect
  not the certainty of his reasoning. The consciousness of knowing
  little, need not beget a distrust of that which he does know.”——

  “Suppose, in the next place, that the person who found the watch,
  should, after some time, discover, that, in addition to all the
  properties which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the
  unexpected property of producing, in the course of its movement,
  another watch like itself; (the thing is conceivable;) that it
  contained within it a mechanism, a system of parts, a mould for
  instance, or a complex adjustment of laths, files, and other tools,
  evidently and separately calculated for this purpose; let us enquire,
  what effect ought such a discovery to have upon his former conclusion!

  “I. The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the
  contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the
  contriver. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the
  distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible,
  mechanism by which it was carried on, he would perceive, in this new
  observation, nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had
  already done; for referring the construction of the watch to design,
  and to supreme art. If that construction _without_ this property, or,
  which is the same thing, before this property had been noticed, proved
  intention and art to have been employed about it; still more strong
  would the proof appear, when he came to the knowledge of this further
  property, the crown and perfection of all the rest.

  “II. He would reflect, that though the watch before him were, _in some
  sense_, 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
  which a carpenter, for instance, is the maker of a chair; the author
  of its contrivance, the cause of the relation of its parts to their
  use. With respect to these, the first watch was no cause at all to the
  second: in no such sense as this was it the author of the constitution
  and order, either of the parts 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, that a
  stream of water ground corn: but no latitude of expression would allow
  us to say, no stretch of conjecture could lead us to think, that the
  stream of water built the mill, though it were too ancient for us to
  know who the builder was. What the stream of water does in the affair,
  is neither more nor less than this: by the application of an
  unintelligent impulse to a mechanism previously arranged, arranged
  independently of it, and arranged by intelligence, an effect is
  produced, _viz._ the corn is ground. But the effect results from the
  arrangement. The force of the stream cannot be said to be the cause or
  author of 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 this share the
  same, as that which the watch would have contributed to the production
  of the new watch, upon the supposition assumed in the last section.

  “III. Though 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 employed and concerned
  in the production. The argument 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
  hardness, of its heat; and these causes may be all different. We are
  now asking for the cause of that subserviency to an use, that relation
  to an end, which 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; arrangement, without any thing
  capable of arranging; subserviency and relation to a purpose, without
  that which could intend a purpose; means suitable to an end, and
  executing their office in accomplishing that end, without the end ever
  having been contemplated, or the means accommodated to it.
  Arrangement, disposition of parts, subserviency of means to an end,
  relation of instruments to an use, imply the presence of intelligence
  and mind. No one, therefore, 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 their order, action, and mutual
  dependency, combined their several motions into one result, and that
  also a result connected with the utilities of other beings. All these
  properties therefore, 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 us to have been produced by
  another watch, that from a former, and so on indefinitely. Our going
  back ever so far brings us no nearer to the least degree of
  satisfaction upon the subject. Contrivance is still unaccounted for.
  We still want a contriver. A designing mind is neither supplied by
  this supposition, nor dispensed with. If the difficulty were
  diminished the further we went back, by going back indefinitely we
  might exhaust it. And this is the only case to which this sort of
  reasoning applies. Where there is a tendency, 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
  conceive the limit to be attained: but where there is no such tendency
  or approach, nothing is effected by lengthening the series. There is
  no difference as to the point in question, (whatever there may be as
  to many points) between one series and another; between a series which
  is finite, and a series which is infinite. A chain composed of an
  infinite number of links, can no more support itself, than a chain
  composed of a finite number of links. And of this we are assured,
  (though we never _can_ have tried the experiment) because, by
  increasing the number of links, from ten for instance to a hundred,
  from a hundred to a thousand, &c. we make not the smallest approach,
  we observe not the smallest tendency, towards self-support. There is
  no difference in this respect (yet there may be a great difference in
  several respects) between a chain of a greater or less length, between
  one chain and another, between one that is finite and one that is
  indefinite. This very much resembles the case before us. The machine,
  which we are inspecting, demonstrates, by its construction,
  contrivance and design. Contrivance must have had a contriver; design,
  a designer; whether the machine immediately proceeded from another
  machine, or not. That circumstance alters not the case. That other
  machine may, in like manner, have proceeded from a former machine: nor
  does that alter the case: contrivance must have had a contriver. That
  former one from one preceding it: no alteration still: a contriver is
  still necessary. No tendency is perceived, no approach towards a
  diminution of this necessity. It is the same with any and every
  succession of these machines; a succession of ten, of a hundred, of a
  thousand; with one series as with another; a series which is finite,
  as with a series which is infinite. In whatever other respects they
  may differ, in this they do not. In all equally, contrivance and
  design are unaccounted for.

  “The question is not simply, How came the first watch into existence?
  which question, it may be pretended, is done away by supposing the
  series of watches thus produced from one another to have been
  infinite, and consequently to have had no such _first_, for which it
  was necessary to provide a cause. This, perhaps, would have been
  nearly the state of the question, if nothing had been before us but an
  unorganized unmechanised substance, without mark or indication of
  contrivance. It might be difficult to shew that such substance could
  not have existed from eternity, either in succession (if it were
  possible, which I think it is not, for unorganized bodies to spring
  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
  metaphysics of that question have no place; for, in the watch which we
  are examining, are seen contrivance, design; an end, a purpose; means
  for the end, adaptation to the purpose. And the question, which
  irresistibly presses upon our thoughts, is, whence this contrivance
  and design? The thing required is the intending mind, the adapting
  hand, the intelligence by which that hand was directed. This question,
  this demand, is not shaken off, by increasing a number or succession
  of substances, destitute of these properties; nor the more, by
  increasing that number to infinity. If it be said, that, upon the
  supposition of one watch being produced from another in the course of
  that other’s movements, and by means of the mechanism within it, we
  have a cause for the watch in my hand, _viz._ the watch from which it
  proceeded, I deny, that for the design, the contrivance, the
  suitableness of means to an end, the adaptation of instruments to an
  use (all which we discover in the watch,) we have any cause whatever.
  It is in vain, 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 yet any cause at all of the phænomena, still less
  any series of causes either finite or infinite. Here is contrivance,
  but no contriver; proofs of design, but no designer.

  “V. Our observer would further also reflect, that the maker of the
  watch before him, was, in truth and reality, the maker of every watch
  produced from it; there being no difference (except that the latter
  manifests a more exquisite skill) between the making of another watch
  with his own hands by the mediation of files, laths, chisels, &c. and
  the disposing, fixing, and inserting, of these instruments, or of
  others equivalent to them, in the body of the watch already 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, construction, and movement suggested, was, that it must have
  had, for the cause and author of that construction, an artificer, who
  understood its mechanism, and designed its use. This conclusion is
  invincible. A _second_ examination presents us with a new discovery.
  The watch is found in the course of its movement to produce another
  watch similar to itself: and not only so, but we perceive in it a
  system of organization, separately calculated for that purpose. What
  effect would this discovery have, or ought it to have, upon our former
  inference? What, as hath already been said, but to increase, beyond
  measure, our admiration of the skill, which had been employed in the
  formation of such a machine? Or shall it, instead of this, all at once
  turn us round to an opposite conclusion, _viz._ that no art or skill
  whatever has been concerned in the business, although all other
  evidences 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.”


Footnote 11:

  “The works of nature want only to be contemplated. When contemplated,
  they have every thing in them which can astonish by their greatness;
  for, of the vast scale of operation, through which our discoveries
  carry us, at one end we see an intelligent Power arranging planetary
  systems, fixing, for instance, the trajectory of _Saturn_, or
  constructing a ring of a hundred thousand miles diameter, to surround
  his body, and be suspended like a magnificent arch over the heads of
  his inhabitants; and, at the other, bending a hooked tooth, concerting
  and providing an appropriate mechanism, for the clasping and
  reclasping of the filaments of the feather of a humming-bird. We have
  proof, not only of both these works proceeding 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 system, from
  Saturn to our own globe; and when arrived upon our own globe, we can,
  in the second place, pursue the connexion through all the organized,
  especially the animated, bodies, which it supports. We can observe
  marks of a common 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 hands. All we expect must come from him. 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 the
  minutest parts. The hinges in the wings of an _earwig_, and the joints
  of its antennæ, are as highly wrought, as if the Creator had had
  nothing else to finish. We see no signs of diminution of care by
  multiplicity of objects, or of distraction of thought by variety. We
  have no reason to fear therefore, our being forgotten, or overlooked,
  or neglected.

  “The existence and character of the Deity, is, in every view, the most
  interesting of all human speculations. In none, however, is it more
  so, than as it facilitates the belief of the fundamental articles of
  _Revelation_. It is a step to have it proved, that 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 Natural Theology, we may well
  leave to Revelation the disclosure of many particulars, which our
  researches cannot reach, respecting either the nature of this Being 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
  other particulars, of which, though they do not lie altogether beyond
  our reasonings and our probabilities, the certainty is by no means
  equal to the importance. The true Theist will be the first to listen
  to _any_ credible communication of divine knowledge. Nothing which he
  has learnt from Natural Theology, will diminish his desire of further
  instruction, or his disposition to receive it with humility and
  thankfulness. He wishes for light: he rejoices in light. His inward
  veneration of this great Being, will incline him to attend with the
  utmost seriousness, not only to all that can be discovered concerning
  him by researches into nature, but to all that is taught by a
  revelation, which gives reasonable proof of having proceeded from him.

  “But, above every other article of revealed religion, does the
  anterior belief of a Deity, bear with the strongest force, upon that
  grand point, which gives indeed interest and importance to all the
  rest—the resurrection of the human dead. The thing might appear
  hopeless, did we not see a power under the guidance of an intelligent
  will, and a power penetrating the inmost recesses of all substance. I
  am far 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 persuaded, that there _is_ a God to do so. This
  being thoroughly settled in our minds, there seems to be nothing in
  this process (concealed and mysterious as we confess it to be,) which
  need to shock our belief. They who have taken up the opinion, that the
  acts of the human mind depend upon _organization_, that the 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 of sentient existence, because the old organization is
  apparently dissolved. But I do not see that any impracticability need
  be apprehended even by these; or that the change, even upon their
  hypothesis, is far removed from the analogy of some other operations,
  which we know with certainty that the deity is carrying on. In the
  ordinary derivation of plants and animals from one another, a
  particle, in many cases, minuter than all assignable, all conceivable
  dimension; an aura, an effluvium, an infinitesimal; determines the
  organization of a future body: does no less than fix, whether that
  which 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 differences; 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 nature, itself proceeds from, and
  owes its constitution to, a prior body: nevertheless, which is seen in
  plants most decisively, the incepted organization, though formed
  within, and through, and by a preceding organization, is not corrupted
  by its corruption, or destroyed by its dissolution; but, on the
  contrary, is sometimes 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 œconomy which nature has adopted,
  when the purpose was to transfer an organization 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
  they who found thought in organization, may see something in this
  analogy applicable to their difficulties; for, whatever can transmit a
  similarity of organization 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 animals 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.
  But it is not restricted to this rule. There are other cases,
  especially in the progress of insect life, in which the dormant
  organization does not much resemble that which incloses it, and still
  less suits with the situation in which the inclosing body is placed,
  but suits with a different situation to which it is destined. In the
  larva of the libellula, which lives constantly, and has still long to
  live, under water, are descried the wings of a fly, which two years
  afterwards is to mount into the air. Is there nothing in this analogy?
  It serves at least to shew, that, even in the observable course of
  nature, organizations are formed one beneath another; and, amongst a
  thousand other instances, it shews completely, that the Deity can
  mould and fashion the parts of material nature, so as to fulfil any
  purpose whatever which he is pleased to appoint.

  “They who refer the operations of mind to a substance totally and
  essentially different from matter, as, most certainly, these
  operations, though affected by material causes, hold very little
  affinity to any properties of matter with which we are acquainted,
  adopt, perhaps, 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, every consideration will 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 thing greatly beyond, or
  totally unlike, what takes place in such parts (probably small parts)
  of the order of nature, as are accessible to our observation.

  “Again; if there be those who think, that the contractedness and
  debility of the human faculties in our present state, seem ill to
  accord with the high destinies which the expectations of religion
  point out to us, I would only ask them, whether any one, who saw a
  child two hours after its birth, could suppose that it would ever come
  to understand _fluxions_;[12] or who then shall say, what further
  amplification of intellectual powers, what accession of knowledge,
  what advance and improvement, the rational faculty, be its
  constitution what it will, may not admit of, when placed amidst new
  objects, and endowed with a sensorium, adapted, as it undoubtedly will
  be, and as our present senses are, to the perception of those
  substances, and of those properties of things, with 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 and appointment of
  means, adequate to the execution of any plan which his goodness or his
  justice may have formed, for the moral and accountable part of his
  terrestrial creation. That great office rests with him: be it ours to
  hope and prepare; 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 merciful disposal.”


Footnote 12:

  See Search’s Light of Nature, passim.

Footnote 13:

  The theory of a nervous fluid, or animal spirits, is generally

Footnote 14:

  See this doubtful doctrine discussed post Quest. 60.

                              Quest. III.

    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 several 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, commandments, or
ordinances,[15] to signify his authority and power to demand obedience
of his creatures which he does therein, and shews us in what particular
instances, and how we are to yield obedience to it.

It is also called his judgments, implying that he is the great Judge of
the world, and that he will deal with men in a judicial way, according
to their works, as agreeable or disagreeable to this law of his,
contained in his word; and, for this reason, it is also called his
righteousness, because all that he commands in his word is holy and
just, and his service highly reasonable.

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. Agreeably hereto, the apostle speaks
of the great 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, _The glorious
gospel of the blessed God_; 1 Tim. i. 11. and _the gospel of our
salvation_. Eph. i. 13.

And, in this answer, it is called the Old and New Testament; 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 fulfilled in
following ages, is called the Old Testament. The other which contains an
account of God’s dispensation of grace, from Christ’s first to his
second coming is called the New.

A testament is the declared or written will of a person, in which some
things are given to those who are concerned or described therein. Thus
the scripture is God’s written will or testament, 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 shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to
glory_; Psal. lxiii. 24. and _the Lord will give grace and glory_, Psal.
lxxxiv. 11.

2. It describes the testator Christ, who 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 and amen, to the glory of God_;
and more especially he ratified this testament by his death as the same
apostle observes, which is a known maxim of the civil law, that _where a
testament is, there must of necessity be the death of the testator_,[16]
Heb. 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, which
God bestowed upon his people, receive their validity from the death of

3. It also discovers to us who are the heirs, or legatees, to whom these
blessings are given, who are described therein, as repenting, believing,
returning sinners, who may lay claim to the blessings of the covenant of

4. It has several seals annexed to it, _viz._ the sacraments under the
Old and New Testament, of which we have a particular account in

This leads us to consider how the scripture is otherwise divided or

(1.) As to the Old Testament, it is sometimes distinguished or divided
into _Moses and the prophets_, Luke xvi. 29. or _Moses, the prophets,
and the psalms_, Luke xxiv. 44. And it may be considered also as
containing historical and prophetic writings, 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 also be distinguished as to the 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, by some, called the
evangelical prophet. Others contain reproofs, and denounce and lament
approaching judgments, as the prophet Jeremiah. Others encourage the
building of the temple, the setting up the worship of God, and the
reformation of the people upon their return from captivity: thus
Zechariah and Haggai. As for the historical parts of scripture, these
either contain an account of God’s dealings with his people before the
captivity; as Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, &c. or after it, as Ezra
and Nehemiah.

(2.) The books of the New Testament maybe thus divided. Some of them are
historical, _viz._ such as contain the life and death of our Saviour, as
the four gospels, or the ministry of the apostles, and the first
planting and spreading of the gospel, as the Acts of the Apostles.
Others are more especially doctrinal, and 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 foretold the
different state and condition of the church, the persecutions it should
meet with 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 enlarged, 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 was
between two and three thousand years; and it was almost a thousand years
longer before the canon of the Old Testament was completed by Malachi
the last prophet, and some hundred years after that before the canon of
the New Testament was given; so that God revealed his will, as the
apostle says, in the beginning of the epistle to the Hebrews, at _sundry
times_, as well as in _divers manners_, and by divers inspired writers.

Notwithstanding the church, before it had a written word, was not
destitute of a rule of faith and obedience, neither were they
unacquainted with the way 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 ways to supply the want of a
written word, 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 word, the Son of God frequently
condescended to appear himself, and converse with man, and so revealed
his mind and will to him.

2. There was the ministry of angels subservient to this end, in which
respect the word was often spoken by angels, sent to instruct men in the
mind and 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 were not commanded to commit what they received by inspiration to
writing, yet they were hereby furnished to instruct others in the way of
salvation. 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 interval of time, when there
was no written word, the world apostatised from God, and almost all
flesh corrupted their way; not for want of a sufficient rule of
obedience, but through the perverseness and depravity of their nature;
and afterwards the world was almost wholly sunk into idolatry, and so
were judicially excluded from God’s special care; and since Abraham’s
family was the only church that remained in the world, God continued to
communicate 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 God had promised that he
would increase them yet more, then they stood in greater need of a
written word to prevent the inconveniences that might have arisen from
their continuing any longer without one, and God thought fit, as a great
instance of favour to man, to command Moses to write his law, as a
standing 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, before Christ
came in the flesh, was attended with so much darkness, that they did not
know the way of salvation, though they had, in whole or in part, the
scriptures of the Old Testament. The Papists generally assert, that they
did not; and therefore they fancy, that all who lived before Christ’s
time, were shut up in a prison, where they remained 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 those 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 suchlike
places of scripture as that, where Moses is said to have _put a vail
over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to
the end of that which is abolished; and that this vail is done away in
Christ_, 2 Cor. iii. 13, 14. and those scriptures that speak of the
Jewish dispensation, as _a night of darkness_, compared with that of the
gospel, which is represented as _a perfect day_, or the _rising of the
sun_, Isa. xxi. 11. Cant. ii. 17. Malachi 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, which may induce us to
believe that the church, at that time, understood a great deal more of
the gospel, shadowed forth in the ceremonial 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 expected 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 express in the account he gives of his person and
offices, that I cannot see how any one can reasonably conclude him to
have been wholly a stranger to the gospel himself, Isa. xxii. 25. ch.
lii. 13, 14, 15. Can any one think this, who reads 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 delivered 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 prophets_, indeed, _searched_ into the
meaning of their own predictions, but to no purpose; for _it was
revealed to them, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they
ministered_; that is, the account they gave of our Saviour was not
designed to be understood by them, but us in this present

_Answ._ 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 they 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 purpose, as what they were not
able to understand; and when it is farther said in this scripture, that
_not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things that are
now 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, was what we 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 argument we are maintaining; we
therefore proceed to consider,

2. That it is certain, that the whole ceremonial law had a spiritual
meaning annexed to it; for it is said, _That the law was a shadow of
good things to come_, Heb. x. 1. and that all those things _happened to
them for ensamples_, [or types] _and they are written for our
admonition_, 1 Cor. x. 11.

3. It is unreasonable to suppose that the spiritual meaning of the
ceremonial law should not be known by those to whom it was principally
given; or that the gospel, wrapt up therein, should not be seen through
this shadow till the dispensation was abolished, the ceremonial law
abrogated, and the nation cast off to whom it was given.

4. If the knowledge of the gospel, or faith in Christ, which is founded
upon it, be necessary for our salvation, it was necessary 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 come; but it is inconsistent with the
divine goodness to require this knowledge, and not to give them any
expedient to attain it; therefore we must either suppose this knowledge
attainable by them, and consequently that he was revealed to them, or
else they must be excluded from a possibility of salvation, when, at the
same time, they were obliged to believe in Christ, which they could not
do, because they did not understand the meaning 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 spiritual meaning
thereof, _viz._ not only some hints of explication, given in the Old
Testament, but, besides these, there was,

(1.) Extraordinary revelation and inspiration, with which the Jewish
church more or less, was favoured, almost throughout all the ages
thereof; and hereby it is more 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 judgments, and Israel thy law_,
Deut. xxxiii. 10. and that _the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and
they should seek the law at his mouth_; Mal. 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

(3.) There were among them several schools of the prophets (in some ages
at least of the Jewish church) in which some had extraordinary
revelations; and they that had them not, made the scriptures their
study, that they might be able to instruct others; so that, from all
this, it appears that they had a great deal of knowledge of divine
truths, and the spiritual meaning of the Old Testament; though yet we
will not deny that the gospel dispensation hath a clearer light, and
excels in glory.[17]

We shall now proceed to consider, how far the Old Testament is a rule of
faith and obedience to us, though that dispensation be abolished; for we
are not to reckon it an useless part of scripture, or that it does not
at all concern us. Since,

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

(2.) As for the ceremonial law, which is abolished, with some other
forensick, or political laws, by which the Jews, in particular, 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 were
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 _whatsoever things were written afore-time, were written for our
learning, 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 revelation of the
whole mind and will of God, and therefore are very justly styled a
perfect rule of faith and obedience. Nevertheless,

We do not hereby intend that they contain an account of every thing that
God hath done, or will do, in his works of 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. Thus 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 we might
believe_; therefore we have a sufficient account thereof to support our
faith; and that _there were many other things which Jesus did, which, if
they should be written every one, the world would not contain the books
that should be written_, John xxi. 25.[18]

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, abstracted from those marks on which
our hope of salvation is founded, or their outward condition, or the
good or bad success 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 belong 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 which 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 clearer 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 ceremonial
law, to that of an heir under age, or of children under the direction of
tutors and governors, whose instruction and advances in knowledge are
proportioned to their age; so God revealed his word at _sundry times_,
as well as in _divers manners_, Gal. iv. 1, 3. Heb. i. 1.

The word of God, accompanied with those additional helps before
mentioned, for the churches understanding 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 divine perfections that such a rule should be given;
for since salvation could not be attained, nor God glorified, without a
discovery 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 difficulties surmounted, and an
invitation given to come and partake 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 sufficient rule?

And since none but God can give us such an one, it is inconsistent 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 these 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
beyond due bounds; therefore since a rule of faith is necessary, 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, joy, and holiness,
which believers are made partakers of, while steadfastly adhering to
this rule: thus it is said, that _through comfort of the scriptures they
have hope_, Rom. xv. 4. and that hereby _the man of God is made wise to
salvation, and perfect, thoroughly furnished unto 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 wise the
simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes_, Psal. xix. 7, 8.

We might farther argue, that the scripture is a perfect rule of faith,
from those threatnings which are denounced against them, who pretend to
add to, or take from it; this was strictly forbidden, even when there
was but a part of scripture committed to writing. Thus says God; _Ye
shall not add to the word which I command you; neither shall ye diminish
ought 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 would add to him the plagues written in this book.
And if any should take away from this book, God would take away 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 general 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 rewards or punishments accordingly, must be
established by public authority. Even so the scripture is a rule of
faith, as it contains the divine laws, by 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, excellency,
perfection, or imperfection of any thing, must be infallible, 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 perfect 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 law, and to the testimony; if they speak not
according to this word, it is because there is no light in them_, Isa.
viii. 20.

3. All appeals are to be made to a 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 reduced to, and the warrantableness thereof
tried hereby, and a stop put to growing errors by 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 sincere 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
with, or opposition to it; for that would be to render it useless, and
unfit to be the standard of truth: thus scripture 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 making
the commandment of none effect by their tradition_, Mat. xv. 3, 6.
concerning whom he also says, that _in vain they worship him, 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 opposition 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. They refer to those Scriptures, in which, it is said, our Saviour
_did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not
written_, John xx. 30. and his own words, wherein he tells them, that he
had _many things to say unto them, which they could not then bear_, John
xvi. 12. as also to the words of the apostle Paul, Acts xx. 35. in which
he puts the church in mind of a saying of our Saviour, received by
tradition, because not contained in any of the evangels, _viz._ _it is
more blessed to give than to receive_.

To which it may be replied,

_Answ._ (1.) That though it is true there were many things done, and
words spoken by our Saviour, which are not recorded 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 they impose on us as matters of 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 designed to discover to
them after his resurrection, during his forty days abode here on earth,
or by his Spirit, after his ascension into heaven, concerning the change
of the Sabbath, from the seventh, to the first day of the 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, and
other things relating to the success of their ministry, the gathering
and governing of those churches, which should be planted by them; these
seem to be intended by that expression, 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 baptism 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 unscriptural,
and such as he would not have, at any time, communicated unto them.

(3.) Those words of our Saviour, _It is more blessed to give 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 be_, that is, approve 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 frequently 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 pretence 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 was 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 traditions which they had been taught, either by word or by
his epistle_, 2 Thess. ii. 15. the former respects, say they, unwritten
traditions, the latter is inspired writings.

_Answ._ 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 traditions 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
inspired epistles, but those which were agreeable to scripture, that he
had imparted in the exercise of his public ministry; the former were to
be depended upon as an infallible rule of faith, the latter to be
retained and improved as agreeable thereunto, and

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

_Answ._ To this it may be replied, that God communicated his mind and
will to them, during that interval, in an extraordinary 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 formerly 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 astonished, 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 doctrines 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, either 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
uncertain 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 referred 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 book of the acts of Solomon_, 1 Kings xi. 41.
and also his Songs and Proverbs, and the account he gives of _trees,
plants, beasts, fowls, creeping things, and fishes_, 1 Kings, iv. 32,
33. There are also other books said to be 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.

_Answ._ 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 Protestant 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
edification of the church, in what immediately relates to salvation, but
what is contained in those writings, which are preserved, by the care
and goodness of providence, to this day; but, without 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 probable conjecture, we pass it over, and add, that it is not
unreasonable to suppose that the books said to be written by them, as
also those of Solomon, that are not contained in scripture, were not
written by divine inspiration, which is not only a safe but sufficient
answer to the objection. As for Jeremiah’s lamentation 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; particularly the epistle from Laodicea, mentioned in Col. iv. 16.
and one written to the Corinthians, _not to company with fornicators_, 1
Cor. v. 9. and another mentioned, 2 Cor. vii. 8. _by which he made them

_Answ._ 1. As to the epistle from Laodicea that was probably one of his
inspired epistles, written by him when at Laodicea, and not directed, as
is pretended, to the Laodiceans.

2. As to that epistle, which he is supposed to have written to the
Corinthians, it is not expressly said that it was another epistle he had
wrote to them; but it is plainly intimated, ver. 12. that he refers to
the epistle, which he was then writing to them; a part of which related
to that subject, as this chapter, in particular does,

3. As to the letter, which he wrote to them, _which 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 may we not suppose that
there were several epistles written by him to the churches, some to
comfort, others to admonish, reprove, or make them sorry, besides those
that he was inspired to write?

Having considered the arguments brought to prove that some books of
scripture are lost, we shall now prove, on the other 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 away,
one jot, or tittle shall not pass from the law_, Mat. v. 18. and _it is
easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of the law to
fail_, Luke xvi. 17. If God will take care of every 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? 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 prophets, he expounded to them in
all the scriptures, the things concerning himself_, Luke xxiv. 27. and
this may also be proved from what the apostle says, _Whatsoever things
were written aforetime, were written for our learning_, Rom. xv. 4. now
it is impossible that they should be written for our learning if they
are lost.

To this it may be added, that the goodness of God, and the care of his
providence, with respect to this church, farther evinces this truth; for
if he gave them ground to conclude that _he would be with them always,
even to the end of the world_, 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

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 entire; 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
faulty, in not having faithfully preserved all the scriptures committed
to them, he would have severely reproved them for this great breach of

_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 conceal, or pervert to another
sense, some prophecies relating to the Messiah, and the gospel-state.
And as for the New Testament, they pretend that it was corrupted by some
heretics, in defence of their perverse doctrines.

_Answ._ 1. As to the Old Testament, it is very improbable and
unreasonable to suppose that it was corrupted by the Jews. For,

(1.) Before our Saviour’s time, no valuable 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

(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[19] says concerning them, that they would rather die an hundred
deaths, than suffer 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 Testament? Yea, they were so far from
doing it, that they took the greatest care, even to superstition, to
prevent its being corrupted, 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, they 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 pervert 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

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 Christianity; whereas, if the Jews
had designed to pervert it, why did they not alter the fifty-third of
Isaiah, and many other scriptures, which so plainly speak of the person
and offices of the Messiah?

2. As to the other part of the objection, that the New Testament hath
been corrupted by heretics since our Saviour’s time, whatever charge
hath been brought against the Arians, and some others, of having 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 the 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 penmen were; yet the providence of God
hath not suffered them to make notorious mistakes; and whatever mistakes
there may be in one copy, they may be corrected by another; so that the
scripture is not, for this reason, chargeable with the reproach cast
upon it, as though it were not a perfect rule of faith.

Footnote 15:

  He who has created all things, with all their relations, and who is
  the universal 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 they should do so. He has connected our _interest_
  with our duty, as a motive to obedience, and because he is good; but
  if we should substitute utility for his authority, and conform to his
  laws, merely because they are advantageous, we rebel against our
  Sovereign, and renounce his authority, that we may pursue our own
  advantage. Virtue is amiable for its intrinsic rectitude. If we choose
  to practice it merely because _beautiful_, we please ourselves; and
  though the excellency of virtue is intended as a motive, and it is
  well for the man who is charmed by it, yet, if this be the only
  inducement, he has lost sight of the Divine authority, and his virtue
  is no obedience to the laws of God. If the obligation of virtue be
  founded solely on its utility, or beauty, we are at liberty to forego
  our advantage, or pleasure without guilt, and remorse of conscience
  will be unaccountable. It is also _fit and proper_, that we should
  practice virtue, but this is no more to be substituted for the Divine
  authority, than the other motives of advantage or pleasure. If it be
  objected, 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 virtue 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 thought and action, and to be independent of an
  eternally and immutably holy God is to indulge the mind in
  speculations, which, to say the least of them, are groundless. We may
  as well assign a cause to eternal existence, as to eternal holiness.
  When the Creator formed the Universe of intelligent creatures, he gave
  them, with their existence, the various relations and circumstances
  which sprang up with them: and their obligations with respect to him
  and his works originated at the same time, and from the same source;
  which could be no other than the Divine pleasure; and the positive
  express appointments, which have 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 own character, which in all things is good. He has given us
  reason, or active intellectual 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 advantages 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 good and evil almost as easily, as by our natural senses we
  discern the differences between light and darkness, sweetness and
  bitterness; and thus has he rendered the judgment upon our own actions
  almost always unavoidable. 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 upon the
  same foundation, the Sovereign will.

Footnote 16:

  Where a covenant is, there should be the death of the devoted

Footnote 17:


  _With the order and times of their Prophecies._


     812 Amaziah king of Judah,         Jonah sent with a message. 2
         Jeroboam II. king of Israel    Kings xiii. 20. xiv. 25.

     800 Uzziah king of Judah. Jeroboam Joel i. ii. iii.

     800 Jeroboam II. king of Israel.   Amos i.——ix.
         Uzziah king of Judah

     800 Jeroboam II. Uzziah            Hosea i. ii. iii.

     772 Menahem I.                     Hosea iv.

     770 Menahem II.                    Jonah i. ii. iii. iv.

     759 Uzziah 52. Pekah 1.            Isaiah vi. ii. iii. iv. v.

     753 Jotham 5. Pekah 7.             Micah i. ii.

     742 Ahaz 1. Pekah 18.              Isaiah vii.

         In the same year               Isaiah viii. ix. x.

         In the same year               Isaiah xvii.

     740 Ahaz 3. Pekah 20.              Isaiah i.

         In the same year               Isaiah xxviii.

     739 Aphaz 4.                       Hosea v. vi.

     726 Hezekiah 2.                    Isaiah xiv. ver. 28, &c.

         In the same year               Isaiah xv. xvi.

     725 Hezekiah 3. Hoshea 6.          Hosea vii.-xiv. Micah iii. iv.
                                        v. vi. vii.

     720 Hezekiah 7.                    Nahum i. ii. iii.

     715 Hezekiah 13.                   Isaiah xxiii.-xxvii.

     714 Hezekiah 14.                   Isaiah xxxviii. xxxix.

     714 Hezekiah 14.                   Isaiah xxix. xxx.-xxxv.

         In the same year               Isaiah xxii. ver. 1-15.

         In the same year               Isaiah xxi.

     713 Hezekiah 15.                   Isaiah xx.

         In the same year               Isaiah xviii. xix.

     710 Hezekiah 18.                   Isaiah x. ver. 5, &c. xi. xii.
                                        xiii. xiv. ver. 28, &c.

         In the same year               Isaiah xxxvi. xxxvii.

         In the same year               Isaiah xl.-xliii. &c.

     698 Manasseh 1.                    Isaiah xxii. ver. 15.

     628 Josiah 13.                     Jeremiah i. ii.

     623 Josiah 18.                     Jeremiah xi. ver. 1-18.
                                        Jeremiah iii.-x. xii.-xxi.
                                        Jeremiah xi. ver. 18, &c.

     611 Josiah 31.                     Habbakkuk i. ii. iii.
                                        Zephaniah i. ii. iii.

     610 Jehoiakim 1.                   Jeremiah xii. ver. 1-24.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxvi.

     606 Jehoiakim 4.                   Jeremiah xxv.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxxv.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xlvi.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxxvi. ver. 1-9.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xlv.

         In the same year               Daniel i.

     605 Jehoiakim 5.                   Jeremiah xxxvi. ver. 9, &c.

     603 Jehoiakim 7.                   Daniel ii.

     599 Zedekiah 1.                    Jeremiah xxii. ver. 24, &c.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxiii

         In the same year               Jeremiah xiii. ver. 13, &c.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxiv.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xlix. ver. 34, &c.

     598 Zedekiah 2.                    Jeremiah xxix.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxx. xxxi.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxvii.

     596 Zedekiah 4.                    Jeremiah xxviii.

         In the same year               Jeremiah l. li.

     595 Zedekiah 5. Jehoiachin’s capt. Ezekiel i.-vii.

     594 Zedekiah 6. Jehoiachin’s capt. Ezekiel viii.-xi.

     593 Zedekiah 7. Jehoiachin’s capt. Ezekiel xii.-xix.

         In the same year, fifth month  Ezekiel xx.-xxiii.

     591 Zedekiah 9. Jehoiachin’s capt. Jeremiah xxi. xxxiv ver. 1-8.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xlvii.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xlviii. xlix. ver.

         In the same year               Ezekiel xxiv. xxv.

     590 Zedekiah 10. Jehoiachin’s      Jeremiah xxxvii. ver. 1-11.
         capt. 10

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxxiv. ver. 8, &c.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxxvii. ver. 11-16

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxxii. xxiii.

         In the same year               Ezekiel xxix. ver. 1-17. xxx.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxxvii. ver. 17, &c.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxxviii. ver. 1-14.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxxix. ver. 15, &c.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xxxviii. ver. 14, &c.

     589 Zedekiah 11. Jehoiachin’s capt Ezekiel xxxvi. xxxvii.
         11. first month                xxxviii.

         In the same year, third month  Ezekiel xxxi.

         In the same year, fourth month Jeremiah xxxix. ver. 1-11.
                                        lii. ver. 1-30.

         In the same year, fifth or     Jeremiah xxxix. ver. 11-15.
         sixth month                    xl. ver.   1-7.

         In the same year               Jeremiah xl. ver. 7. xli.
                                        xlii. xliii. xliv. ver. 1-8.


     588 Jehoiachin’s captivity 12.     Ezekiel xxxiii.
         tenth month

         In the same year, twelfth      Ezekiel xxxii.

         Between the 12 and 25          Ezekiel xxxiv. xxxvi. xxxvii.
         captivity                      xxxviii. xxxix.

         In the same year               Obadiah

         In the same year               Ezekiel xxxv.

         In this year Nebuchadnezzar    Daniel iii.
         set up his golden image

     574 Jehoiachin’s captivity 25.     Ezekiel xl. xli. &c.

     569 Jehoiachin’s captivity 30.     Ezekiel xxxi. ver. 17, &c.

         In the same year               Daniel iv.

     562 Jehoiachin’s captivity 37.     Jeremiah lii. ver. 31, &c.

     555 Belshazzar 1.                  Daniel vii.

     553 Belshazzar 3.                  Daniel viii.

     539 Belshazzar 17.                 Daniel v.

     538 Darius the Mede 1.             Daniel vi.

         In the same year               Daniel ix.

     536 Cyrus 1.                       Ezra i. ii.

     535 Cyrus 2.                       Ezra iii.


     535 Cyrus 2.                       Ezra iv.

         In the third year of Cyrus,    Daniel x. xi. xii
         and third after the captivity

     520 Darius Hystaspis 2. sixth      Haggai i. ver. 1-12.

         In the same year and month     Haggai i. ver. 12, &c. Ezra v.

         In the same year, seventh      Haggai ii. ver. 1-10.

         In the same year, eighth month Zechariah i. ver. 1-7.

         In the same year, ninth month  Haggai ii. ver. 10, &c.

         In the same year, eleventh     Zechariah i. ver. 7, &c.
         month                          ii.-vi.

     516 Darius 3.                      Ezra 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  Zechariah ix.-xiv.
         of Darius Hystaspes

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

     462 Ahasuerus 3.                   Esther i.

     461 Ahasuerus 4.                   Esther ii. ver. 1-16.

     458 Ahasuerus 7.                   Ezra vii.-x.

         In the same year               Esther ii. ver. 16-21.

     457 Ahasuerus 8.                   Esther ii. ver. 21, &c.

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

     445 Ahasuerus 20.                  Nehemiah i.-iii. &c.

     433 Ahasuerus 32.                  Nehemiah xiii. ver. 6.

     429 Ahasuerus 36.                  Malachi i.-iv.

     428 Ahasuerus 37.                  Nehemiah xiii. ver. 6, &c.

     296 Ptolemy Soter 9.               The Canon of the Old Testament
                                        completed, by adding two books
                                        of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah,
                                        Esther, and Malachi; by Simon
                                        the Just.


Footnote 18:

  κοσμος is the _unregenerate world_, John vii. 7. and χωρησαι, is to
  _receive kindly_, 2 Cor. vii. 2.

Footnote 19:

  _Vid. Philo. Jud. de Vit. Mosis; & eund. citat. ab Euseb. in Præp.
  Evang. l. viii. c. 6. & Joseph, contr. App. l. ii._

                               Quest. IV.

    QUEST. IV. _How doth it appear that the scriptures are the word of

    _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.

Before we proceed to consider the arguments here brought to prove the
scriptures to be the word of God, some things may be premised.[20]

1. When we speak of the scriptures as divine, we do not only mean that
they treat of God and divine things; to wit, 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 divine perfections. And
when, as the consequence hereof, we assert that every thing contained
therein is infallibly 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 testimony, we judge of the certainty
thereof, by the credibility 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, designed 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 will
of man; but 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 concerning scripture in general,
and the latter concerning that part thereof which was transmitted to us
by him: this is what we mean when we say the scripture is the word of

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 uncertainty; 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 whatever 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 way 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 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 them, we think that we have
eternal life_.

3. As divine revelation is necessary, so it is not impossible, contrary
to reason or the divine perfections, for God to impart his mind and will
to men in such a way as 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; and, in order hereto, let it
be considered,

(1.) That divine revelation is necessary; this appears because as
religion is necessary, so there are some things contained 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, therefore 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 entirely lost, and there would have been
no instituted worship in the world; and the gospel, which is called the
_unsearchable riches of Christ_, 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 worshipped an unknown
God_: and elsewhere, 1 Cor. i. 24. that _the world by wisdom knew not
God_; and the reason is, because they were destitute of divine

(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 is not unbecoming his perfections to manifest himself to
intelligent creatures, who, as such, are fit to receive the discoveries
of his mind and will; and his endowing them with faculties capable of
receiving these manifestations, argues, that he designed that they
should be favoured with them; and therefore whatever displays there may
be of infinite condescension therein, 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 inspiration; 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 communicate 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 history, 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 inspiration in the world.

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 evidence we have hereof, _viz._ the subject
matter of scripture, from the majesty of the style, the purity of the
doctrines, the harmony 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 miracles,
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 convincing 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 character 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 attempted to do so, they had a
great many subtle and malicious enemies, who would soon have detected
the fallacy. To this we shall also add an argument taken from the
sublimity of the doctrine, in which respect it is too great, and has too
much wisdom in it for men to have invented; and others taken from the
antiquity thereof, together with its wonderful preservation,
notwithstanding 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 principal foundation of
our faith, 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 of 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 will, we hope, beget a
full conviction 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 style in which it is written. This argument
does not equally hold good with 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 another 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 greatness of God; as when he is
represented speaking immediately himself in a majestic way, tending not
only to bespeak attention, 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, _Hear, O
heavens; and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken_, Isa. i. 2.
or, swears by himself, that _unto him every knee shall bow, 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 my footstool_, chap.
lxvi. 1. and elsewhere, _The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice; let
the multitude of the isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are
round about him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his
throne. A fire goeth before him; his lightnings enlightened the world.
The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord; at the presence
of the Lord of the whole earth_, Psal. xcvii. 1-5. And when he is
represented as casting contempt on all the great men of this world, thus
he is said _to cut off the spirit of princes, and to be terrible to the
kings of the earth_, Psal. lxxvi. 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 waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted the
heavens with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a
measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a
balance_; and that _the nations 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 nothing and vanity_, when compared with him, Isa. xl.
12, 15, 17. It would be almost endless to refer to the many places of
scripture, 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 expressions 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 bold presumption for any creature to
speak in such a way: therefore this argument, taken from the majestic
style of scripture, is not without its proper weight; however, it may
serve to prepare us to receive those other arguments, 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 appear not only to have the preference to them, but to
be truly divine, and so is deservedly styled 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 which
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
displays of the glory of the holiness of God: here let us consider, that
the word of God appears to be divine from its purity and holiness,

1. As considered absolutely, or in itself. For,

(1.) It lays open the vile and detestable nature of sin, to render it
abhorred by us. Thus the apostle says, Rom. vii. 7. _I had not known
sin_; that is, I had not so fully understood the abominable nature
thereof as I do, _but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the
law had said, thou shalt not covet_; and hereupon he concludes, that
_the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good_.

(2.) It presents to our view the various instances of the divine
vengeance, and shews us how the wrath of God is revealed against the
unrighteousness of sinners to make them afraid of rebelling against him.
Thus it gives us an account how the angels hereby fell from and lost
their first habitation, and are thrust down to hell, being _reserved in
chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day_, Jude 6. And
also how man hereby lost his primitive integrity and glory, and exposed
himself to the wrath and curse of God due to sin, and all the miseries
of this life consequent thereon; and how it has destroyed 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 afterwards 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
distress 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, _Terrors take hold of him as waters, 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
cast upon him, and not spare; he would fain flee 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 with everlasting destruction from
the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power_, 2 Thess. i.
9. All these things discover 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 regulate 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 writings with respect to its

(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 holiness; thus it is said, _The
goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance_, Rom. ii. 4. and when Moses
had been putting the Israelites in mind of God’s increasing them, _as
the stars of heaven for multitude_, 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 commandments alway_. 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 unwise? Is not he thy
Father that bought thee? Hath not he made thee, and established thee?_

(5.) All the examples proposed to our imitation therein, are such as
savour of, and lead to, holiness; and when it recommends the actions or
conversation of men, it is more especially 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 towards 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; so the government 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.

(7.) All the promises contained in Scripture, are, or will be certainly
fulfilled, and the blessings it gives us ground to expect, conferred;
and therefore it is a faithful word, and consequently pure and holy.

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

(1.) If we compare it with the writings of heathen moralists, 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 Scripture 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 inforce moral virtue, but either countenanced, or, at least, not
sufficiently fenced against, by what is contained in their writings; and
even their strongest motives to virtue or the government 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 consider ourselves as acting contrary to the
dictates of nature, which we have as intelligent creatures; whereas, on
the other hand, the Scripture leads us to the practice of Christian
virtues 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 expressed in all that he
has done and suffered for our redemption and salvation; and it puts us
upon desiring and hoping for communion 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 from it; it also directs us to look for that life and
immortality, which is brought to light through the Gospel; in which
respects, it far exceeds the writing of the best heathen moralists, and
so contains in it the visible marks and characters of its divine

(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 expositions of Scripture. If therefore
men, who have the Scripture in their hands, propagate unholy doctrines,
they would 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, indulgences, 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 fabulous, 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 contrary to Scripture; so
that composures merely human, whether they pretend to divine 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 cannot 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, impure 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 rules that promote holiness, but as being the fountain of all true
religion; and its being adapted above any book of human composure, to
answer 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 prejudiced against
divine truth and holiness, could never compose a book that is so
consonant to the divine perfections, and contains 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 doctrines, that
tended to promote holiness, could he invent doctrines 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 kingdom 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 authority.

3. It is plain, that the world without Scripture could not arrive to
holiness; for the apostle says, 1 Cor. i. 21. _That the world by wisdom
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 destitute of Scripture light, they were _filled with all
unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness,
full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity_, &c.

If therefore the doctrines contained in Scriptures are not only pure 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.[22] This argument
will appear more strong and conclusive, if we compare them with other
writings, in which there is but little harmony. Thus, if we consult the
writings of most men uninspired, we shall find that their sentiments
contained therein often times very widely differ; and if, as historians,
they pretend to report matters of fact, their evidence, or report, does
not, in all respects, agree together, which shews that they are
fallible; but the exact and harmonious agreement of scripture proves it
divine. That other writings of human composure agree not among
themselves, is very evident; and it is less to be wondered at if we

(1.) That men are naturally blind and unacquainted with the things of
God; and therefore their writings will hardly be consistent with
themselves, much less with one another, as they are oftentimes
inconsistent with the standard of truth, by which they 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 consist 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 different persons; for when
they attempt to represent matters of fact, they often do it in a very
different light: this may be more especially observed 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 circumstances attending them, where trusting to their
memory and judgment, they often impose on themselves and others.

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

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, they would have betrayed as much weakness, confusion,
and self-contradiction, as any other writers have done; and it may be
more, inasmuch as many 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 impart, 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 harmony of all the
doctrines contained therein, as not only agreeing 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 particularly consider the harmony
of scripture, as what is foretold in one part thereof, is related as
accomplished in another. And,

1. There are various predictions relating to the providential dealings
of God with his people, which had their accomplishment in an age or two
after. Thus the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, 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
between 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 Ezra i. 2, 3.

And the revolt and apostacy of Israel, their turning aside from God, to
idolatry, which was the occasion of their desolation, 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 who lived with them, they revolted to idolatry and were
punished for the same in various instances, Judg. ii. 8, 10, 11, 14.

And the prophecy of the great reformation which Josiah should make, and
in particular, that he should _burn the bones_ 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 daily accomplishing. It is said, Acts x.
43. _To him gave all the prophets witness, 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 accomplished in the New; particularly,

(1.) That he should come in the flesh, was foretold in the Old
Testament, Hag. ii. 7. Mal. iii. 1. Isa. ix. 6. and is mentioned 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 accomplished,
Matth. xi. 4, 5.

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

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

(5.) That after he had continued some time in a state of humiliation, he
should be exalted, was foretold, Isa. lii. 13. chap. liii. 11, 12. Psal.
lxviii. 18. and fulfilled, Acts i. 9. Phil. ii. 9.

(6.) That his glory should be proclaimed and published in the preaching
of the gospel, was foretold, Isa. xi. 10. Psal. cx. 2. Isa. lx. 1, 2, 3.
and fulfilled, 1 Tim. iii. 16. Mark xvi. 15. as appears from many

(7.) That he should be the spring and fountain of all blessedness to his
people, was foretold, Gen. xxii. 18. Psal. lxxii. 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 consent 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 authority of
scripture, to assert that there is such a harmony, as we have observed,
unless we can prove that it doth not contradict itself in any instances;
therefore the next thing we are to consider, is the reproach cast upon
it by those who would bring all divine revelation into contempt, as
though it contradicted itself in several instances, and contained
various absurdities; which, were they able to make appear, 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:
therefore we shall consider some of those contradictions, which many,
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 mentions 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 Matthat: and so we find the names of each genealogy very differing,
till we come to David; therefore they suppose both those genealogies
cannot be true, inasmuch as the one contradicts the other.

_Answ._ It evidently appears, that there is no contradiction between
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 was, as it is
supposed, the son of Joseph, 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

_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 stayed, _for fifty shekels of
silver_; but in the other, _viz._ in Chronicles, it is said, that _he
gave him for the place six hundred shekels of gold_; therefore they
pretend that one of these places must be wrong, inasmuch as they plainly
contradict one another.

_Answ._ The answer that may be given to this objection, is, that David
paid Araunah (who is otherwise called Ornan) for his threshing-floor,
where he built an altar, and for the oxen, which he bought for
sacrifice, fifty shekels of silver, as it is expressed 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 designed that the temple should be built; and
therefore he saith concerning it, 1 Chron. xxii. 1. _This is the house
of the Lord God_, _i. e._ this place, or tract of land, which I have
bought round 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
threshing-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 the 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 between 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 years of famine come unto thee in thy land?_ But, in
Chronicles, he speaks of but _three years of famine_.

_Answ._ To reconcile this seeming contradiction,

1. Some think, that in some ancient copies, it is not seven, but
three,[37] years of famine, in Samuel, as it is in Chronicles; 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 saith, shall seven years of
famine come unto thee, that is, as though he should say there hath been
three years of famine already, for Saul _and his bloody house, because
he slew the Gibeonites_, 2 Sam. xxi. 1. Now, that famine ceased but the
year before, and the ground being so chaped and hard for want of rain
this year, which was the fourth, it was little better than a year 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 absurdity, 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 the
intent that he might give him leave _to stand before him, inasmuch as he
had found favour in his sight_. Now, say they, how can this be
consistent with the other scripture; where Saul seeing David going forth
against Goliath the Philistine, asked Abner, _Whose son is this youth?_
And Abner replied, _He could not tell_; and, in the next verse, he is
ordered to _enquire who 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 desire that he might live with him?

_Answ._ 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; yet 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?_ This sufficiently accounts for the difficulty, and vindicates
this scripture 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?_ or who is he that hath so bold and daring a son, as this
youth appears to be? If these things be considered, there appears not
the least absurdity in this scripture.

_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-whoring after the daughters of Moab, and God
consumed them for it by the plague, it is said, Numb. xxv. 9. _Those
that died in the plague were twenty-four thousand_; but the apostle
Paul, referring to the same thing, says, 1 Cor. x. 8. _Neither let us
commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three
and twenty thousand._

_Answ._ 1. The answer that may be given to this objection, that the
apostle Paul, when he says, _three and twenty thousand died_, or fell,
_in one day_, speaks of those who died by the immediate hand of God, by
the pestilential distemper that was sent among them; but, besides these,
there were many more that died by the hand of public justice for this
sin; for in that chapter in Numbers, verse 4 and 5. we read of the
_heads of the people being hanged up before the Lord, and the judges
being ordered to slay every man his men that were joined unto
Baal-peor_. 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 word, than a thousand; so that 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 word plague, to admit of this solution, let
it be farther observed, that, in the 9th verse, where Moses gives the
sum total of those that died, it is not said that they were such who
died _of_ 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, were _four and twenty thousand_; so that these
two places of scripture are so far from contradicting, that they rather
illustrate one another.

_Object._ 6. Another contradiction is pretended to be between Gal. i. 8.
where the apostle says, _Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any
other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let
him be accursed_; 2 Cor. xi. 4. _If he that cometh, preacheth another
Jesus whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which
ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye
might well 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.

_Answ._ For the reconciling and accounting for the sense of these two
scriptures, let us consider, that in the former of them the apostle
pronounces them that preached another gospel accursed, and therefore,
doubtless, they were not to be borne with, or allowed of; therefore it
must be enquired what he means when he says, in the other scripture,
that such may be well borne with; now 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 you tidings of a better Spirit, a better gospel,
then bear with them; but this they cannot do, therefore reject them; or,

2. The words may be rendered, instead of _ye might well bear with him,
ye might well bear with me_, as is observed in the marginal reference;
the word _him_ being in an Italic character, as will be elsewhere
observed,[38] is not in the original, and therefore _me_ may as well be
supplied as _him_, and so the meaning 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. 1. _Would to God you could bear with me a
little in my 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 Galatians,
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 general character, as a _prince of
peace_, Isa. ix. 6. and to the advice he gives his disciples, not to use
the sword, because _such shall perish by it_, Mat. xxvi. 52. and what be
saith else, _My kingdom is not of this world_, John xviii. 36. and
therefore not to be propagated 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 powers among whom they
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, but to bring spiritual peace to his people; but
when he saith, 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 two tables, which Moses put there_; in the latter, that
_there was the golden pot, that had manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and
the tables of the covenant_.

_Answ._ 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 mentions 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 refers 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[39] may be
rendered _in the higher parts of it_, to wit, of _the holiest of all,
were the cherubims of glory above the mercy seat_, and accordingly the
meaning is this; that within this second vail was not only the ark, the
golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod, &c. but also the cherubims of glory,
which were above them all: but since the grammatical construction, seems
rather to favour the objection, there is another sense given of the
words, which sufficiently reconciles the seeming contradiction, _viz._

2. When it is said,[40] 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 way or other fastened, or
adjoining to it, in some inclosure, in the outside of the ark, whereas
nothing was in it but the two tables; so that there is no real
contradiction between these two scriptures.

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.

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 be

(1.) 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 all 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 by
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 sometimes called mount Sinai, Exod. xix. 20. and at other
times Horeb, Deut. i. 6.

3. Chronological difficulties, or seeming contradictions, arising from a
differing number of years, in which 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 Egypt, was 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, and
shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years_: now
the four hundred and thirty years takes its beginning of computation
from Abraham’s being called to leave his country, and 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 of computation from his having the promised seed, or from
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 way of computing time, when a large even number is
mentioned, to leave out a small one of four or five years, more or less,
as in the instance 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
Judah and 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 contradiction may be reconciled, by considering
him as beginning 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 old when 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 design thereof: thus,
that seeming contradiction between the apostles Paul and James is to be
accounted for; the former says, Gal. ii. 16. _Knowing that a man is not
justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ_;
but the other says, Jam. ii. 24. _That by works a man is justified, and
not by 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 respect he looks for
it out of himself, and, by faith, depends alone on Christ’s
righteousness; in this sense, works do not justify: whereas the apostle
James, when he asserts, that _a man is justified 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 excluded.

6. When two scriptures seem to contradict one another, they may
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 comparatively, that is, our love to the creature ought to
bear no proportion 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 is 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 magistrates 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; thus
our Saviour says in one place, _The poor ye have always with you, but me
ye have not always_, Matt. xxvi. 11. and in another, _Lo, I am with you
always, even 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 spiritual and powerful influences,
whereby 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 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 when the gospel dispensation was erected, and the Jewish œconomy
abolished, it was so far from being an advantage, that the observance of
it was deemed no less than a subversion of the gospel, as the apostle
says, Gal. v. 2. _If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you
nothing_; and the same apostle gives a very diminutive character of
those institutes of the ceremonial law, which he calls, in his time,
_weak and beggarly elements_, such as had a tendency to bring them again
_into bondage_, and blames them for observing the Jewish festivals, such
as days, months, times, and years; to wit, the new moons, feasts of
weeks, or of years, such as the seventh year, or the jubilees, and tells
them, on this occasion, _I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed on you
labour in vain_, chap. iv. 9, 10, 11. so that what was a duty and a
privilege in one age of the church, and enjoined with the greatest
strictness, and severest punishments on those that neglected it, is
forbid, as a sin in another age thereof, 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 way 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 accordingly they did, as apprehending
there was no contradiction between the former prohibition and the
present command.[41]

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

It may be observed, concerning the scripture, that the advancing 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.

1. As to the former of these, the scripture abounds with instances, in
which God is adored or set forth, as the object of adoration, that is,
as having all divine perfections, and as doing every thing becoming
himself as a God of glory: thus he is described herein, as the _Lord
most high and terrible, a great King over all the earth_, 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 them that keep his commandments_,
Dan. ix. 4. and it is also said, _Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and
the power, 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, O
Lord, and thou art exalted as Head over all_, 1 Chron. xxix. 11. These,
and such-like adorable perfections, are not only occasionally ascribed
to God in scripture, but every part thereof displays his glory 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 glory to him,
as it represents the emptiness, and even nothingness 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 glory, 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; 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 contrivance 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 certainly have laid down such
a scheme of religion therein, as is agreeable to the corrupt appetites
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 to be
attained, and not as a work of such difficulty as it really is; and they
would also have propagated such a religion, as supposes the creature not
dependent on, or beholden to God for this salvation, and then the
scripture would have detracted from his glory; but since, on the other
hand, its general design is to give him the glory due to his name, this
is a convincing 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 as 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 in 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 design for our example.

(3.) Whatsoever doctrines are pretended to be deduced from, or to
contain the sense of scripture, which, notwithstanding, tend to
depreciate the divine perfections, these are to be rejected, as contrary
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 they could not give themselves such a liberty to
impose upon the world, 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 the soul to God,
and tend to promote self-denial, and advance 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 figs of thistles?_ 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 forth evil fruit.
But, on the other hand, if persons deliver that which carries in it such
internal 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 scripture was given by divine inspiration, when they
knew it to be otherwise.

If the scriptures are not the word of God, then the penmen thereof have
miserably deceived, not a small number of credulous 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 exasperated enemies to those that preached it, and particularly to
these inspired penmen of scripture, and greatly prejudiced against their
doctrine, and therefore would use all possible endeavours 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 been the strongest
evidence to convince them of it, which they could not withstand or

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

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 perfectly free from sin; since
that does not necessarily follow from their having this privilege
conferred upon them; yet their enemies themselves could find no great
blemishes 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 great meekness, as to his general character,
discovers his own failing, in repining, and being uneasy, because of the
untoward and turbulent spirit 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 wherefore have I not found favour
in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?
Have I conceived all this people? Have I begotten them, that thou
shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom? 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 me. 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 me not see mine own wretchedness_, 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 his brethren out
of their bondage in Egypt, but tells us what poor trifling excuses he
made; as when he says, Exod. iv. 10, 13, 19. _O Lord, I am not
eloquent_; and when God answers him, by promising to supply this defect,
he obstinately persists in declining this service, and says, _O my Lord,
send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send_; that is, by
any one but myself; so that he who expressed such courage and resolution
forty years before in defending the oppressed Israelites, and supposed
that his brethren would have understood that God, by his hand, would
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 were 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. iii. 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 Canaan, 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 mention of God, nor speak any
more in his name_, 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, compared 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 discovers his
furious 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
extortion, 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 the golden ear-rings, which he received at their hand, whereof he
made a molten calf, and then built an altar before it_, Exod. xxxii.
2-5. Though the Jewish historian[42] was so politic, as to conceal this
thing, for the honour of his own nation; and therefore when he tells us,
that Moses went up into the mount to receive the law, he says nothing of
the scandalous crime, which the people were guilty of at the foot of the
mountain at the same time.

Moreover, as they do not conceal their sins, so they sometimes declare
the meanness of their extraction, which shewed that they did not design
to have honour from men. Thus Amos tells us, Amos i. 1. _He was among
the herdmen of Tekoa_: and that he was not bred up in the schools of the
prophets, which he intends, when he styles himself, _no prophet, neither
a prophet’s son_, chap. vii. 14.

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.[43]

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 families. Moses, 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
government; 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 nothing
but poverty, 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 endeavouring to
enrich himself by preaching the gospel, that he tells the church, _I
seek not your’s, but you_, 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. _I have learned in whatsoever state I
am, therewith to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to
abound, to be full, and to be hungry, to abound and to suffer want_: and
he was not only content to bear afflictions, but, when called to it, he
professes himself to _take pleasure in reproach, in necessities, in
persecutions, 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
imagination, or raised affections for inspiration, as some of our modern
enthusiasts have done, who have prefaced their warnings, as they call
them, with, _Thus saith the Lord_, &c. when the Lord did not speak by
them. And the deists have the same notion 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
might have been invented by the reason of man; and as such they receive
them, without any regard to divine inspiration. Or,

2. If the inspired penmen of scripture were otherwise imposed 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 light_, 2 Cor. xi. 14. or
has been suffered to deceive his followers, not only by putting forth
signs and lying wonders, but impressing their minds with strong
delusions, whereby they have believed a lie, 2 Thess. ii. 9, 11. as
supposing it to proceed from divine inspiration; and, to give
countenance thereto, has produced such violent agitations, tremblings,
or distortions in their bodies, as have seemed preternatural, not much
unlike those with which the heathen oracles were delivered of old, which
were called by some, a divine fury; but this cannot, with any shadow of
reason, be applied to the inspired writers, therefore they were not
imposed on.

1. They did not mistake their own fancies for divine revelation.

To suppose that they did so, is not only to conclude that all revealed
religion is a delusion; but that the church in all ages, and amongst
them the wisest and best of men, have been enthusiasts, and all their
hope, founded on this revelation, has been no better than a vain dream.
But it is one thing to assert, and another thing to prove; and because
they who take this liberty to reproach the scriptures, pretend not to
support their charge by argument, it might seem less necessary to make a
reply: however, that our faith may be established, we shall briefly
consider this objection. Therefore,

(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 demand particular instances of any
of the inspired writers, 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 their cause,
since God can make use of what instruments he pleases, and endow them
with wisdom in an extraordinary way, to qualify them for the service he
calls them to, whereby the glory of his sovereignty more appears. If he
pleases to chuse the _foolish things of the world, to confound the wise,
that no flesh shall glory in his presence_, 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 this gift, have, as the consequence thereof, been
endowed with such wisdom, as has tended to confound their most malicious
enemies. But we will suppose that they, who bring this charge against
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 expect this divine gift, will it follow, that, because
some are deluded, therefore divine revelation, supported by
incontestable evidence, was a delusion? Or if it be said, that some of
old, whom we conclude to have been inspired, were called enthusiasts, 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,
but that there were, in all ages, some Deists, who have treated things
sacred with reproach and ridicule.

(2.) But if this charge be pretended to be supported by any thing that
has the least appearance of an argument, it will be alleged, in defence
thereof, that it is impossible 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 purpose: 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 souls of men, in the more common and ordinary methods of divine
providence and grace, have been not only experienced, but their truth
and reality discerned by them, who have been favoured therewith, so that
without pretending to inspiration, they had sufficient reason to
conclude that they were divine; certainly when God was pleased to
converse with men in such a way, as that which we call inspiration, it
was not impossible for them to conclude that they were inspired; which
is an argument taken from the less to the greater.

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 influence or
example of those with whom 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 matter, would they
not have been reproved for it by him, whose intimations they are
supposed to have followed in the simplicity 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 divine inspiration, there
are various ways, that might have been taken, and probably were. As,

(1.) Sometimes extraordinary impressions were made on the soul 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 referred 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 person had a
little recovered himself. But if it be said, that such an effect as this
might be produced by an infernal spirit, the answer I would give to that
is, that supposing this possible, yet it must be proved that God would
suffer it, especially in such an instance, in which his own cause was 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
the heavenly state, as much as it is possible for any one to attain to
in this world; such an intercourse as this made Jacob say, _This is no
other but the house of God, and this the gate of heaven_. Gen. xxviii.

(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 work 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 always
wrought to give this conviction: I would not be too peremptory in
pretending to determine this matter, it is sufficient 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 upon 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 mistaking some
impressions made by him on their minds, for divine revelation: this is
evident; for

1. Divine inspiration was not only occasional, or conferred in some
particular instances, with a design to amuse the world, or confirm some
doctrines which 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 regard; and therefore,

2. God would never have suffered the devil, in such circumstances 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 enemy for those doctrines which were
transmitted by inspiration.

3. Satan would have acted against his own interest, should he have
inspired men to propagate a religion, which has a direct tendency to
overthrow his own kingdom; in which instance, as our Saviour observes,
_His kingdom would be divided against itself_, Matth. xii. 25, 26. As it
is contrary to the wisdom and holiness of God to suffer it, so Satan
could never have done it out of choice, and he has too much subtilty to
do it through mistake; 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 deserved 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 faithfully
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 overthrow 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 the things contained therein in their own words, which,
as they suppose, hath occasioned some contradictions, which they pretend
to be found therein, arising from the treachery of their memories, or
the unfitness of their style, to express what had been communicated to
them. This they found on the difference of style observed in the various
books thereof; as some are written 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 inspired writers
thereof: so that, though the matter contains in it something divine, the
words and phrases, in which it is delivered 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
inspiration, and that some of them were taken from the histories which
were then in being, or some occurrences which were observed in the days
in which the writers lived, and were generally known and believed in
those times, to which they more immediately relate.

And as for those books of scripture, which are more especially
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 making any gross or notorious blunders,
subversive of natural religion; so that the scripture may be deemed
sufficient to answer the general design thereof, in propagating religion
in the world, though we are not obliged to conclude that it is
altogether free from those imperfections that will necessarily attend
such a kind of inspiration.

_Answ._ 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; for certainly 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 common way of
speaking, without leaving the matter to him to express 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.[44]

2. As to what is said concerning the historical parts of scripture, 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, _were written for our learning_, Rom. xv. 4. so that what is
excellent in the character of persons, is designed for our imitation;
their blemishes and defects, to humble us under a sense of the universal
corruption of human nature; 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 narration 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 allow that the
inspired writers, though left to the weakness of their memory, and the
impropriety of their style, were, notwithstanding, preserved, by the
interposure of divine providence, from committing mistakes in matters of
the highest importance; it may be replied, That it will be very
difficult for them to assign what doctrines are of greater, and what of
less importance, in all the instances thereof, or wherein providence has
interposed, to prevent their running into mistakes, and when it has not;
so that we are still in an uncertainty what doctrines are delivered 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 divine and others human, while we are left without
any certain rule to distinguish one from the other, and accordingly we
cannot 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 weakness 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 destroy 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 consequently 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 really so? Which leads us to the next argument,
containing 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 himself; and if, in
other cases, _we receive the witness of men_, 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 extraordinary
testimony of God is that of miracles; the ordinary is taken from the use
which he makes of it, in convincing and converting sinners, and building
up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.

1. As to the former of these, God has attested the truth hereof by
miracles. A miracle is an extraordinary divine work, whereby something
is produced, contrary to the common course and laws of nature: thus the
magicians confessed, that one of the miracles which Moses wrought was
the _finger of God_, Exod. viii. 19. Of these there are many undeniable
instances recorded in scripture, both in the Old and New Testament; and
these being above the power of a creature, and works peculiar to God,
they contain a divine testimony to the truth that is confirmed thereby,
for the confirmation whereof an appeal was made to them. Now when we say
that the divine authority of scripture was confirmed by miracles, we

(1.) That God has wrought miracles to testify his approbation of most of
the prophets and apostles, who were the inspired writers thereof,
whereby their mission was declared to be divine; and we cannot think
that God, who knows the hearts and secret designs of men, would employ
or send any to perform so great and 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 sometimes employ unfaithful servants about their work
is, because they do not know them; they never do it out of choice; and
therefore we cannot suppose that God, who perfectly knows the hearts of
men, would do so; therefore, having not only employed the penmen of
scripture as his servants, but confirmed their mission, and testified
his approbation of them, by miracles, this is a ground of conviction to
us that they would not have pretended the scriptures 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 the report 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 prophets, 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
appealed to God for the confirmation of their mission; as Elijah is said
explicitly to have done, when he prays to this effect; _Lord God of
Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art
God in Israel, and that I am thy servant; and that I have done all these
things at thy word_, 1 Kings xviii. 36. and we read, that God answered
him accordingly, _By the fire from heaven consuming the
burnt-sacrifice_, &c. ver. 38.

(2.) Such appeals to God, and answers from him, have attained their end,
by giving conviction to those who were more immediately concerned; this
is evident from what is said; in that the same prophet, having had his
request granted him, when God wrought a miracle, in raising the dead
child to life, the woman of Zarephath confessed, that by this she knew
_that he was a man of God, and that the word of the Lord, in his mouth,
was truth_, 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 fact; 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 is, that
they were wrought by magic art, as the Jews of old objected to our
Saviour, _that he cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the
devils_, Matth. xii. 24. and his reply to them was unanswerable, when he
said, that this objection would argue _Satan divided against himself_;
intimating, that 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 of it, than any other that could be used.

_Object._ 1. But if it be objected, that though miracles were wrought to
confirm the mission of several of the prophets, yet none were wrought to
confirm the divine authority of the subject matter of the scriptures:

_Answ._ 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 credited, and that they were not men
liable to any suspicion of carrying on a design to deceive the world; so
that if God himself 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 spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost_, but also wrought
miracles to prove that they were his servants and messengers, employed
in this work; this is as convincing a testimony, as though every part of
scripture wrote by them had been confirmed by a miracle. Besides, it is
not unreasonable to suppose, that the church lived in those ages, in
which the various parts of scripture were written, had some
extraordinary proofs of their divine authority; since, in many of them,
miracles were very common, and, at the same time that the penmen of
scripture had the gift of inspiration, others had, what the apostle
calls, a _discerning of spirits_, 1 Cor. xii. 10. so that they were
enabled, by this means, to know whether the prophet, that pretended to
inspiration, was really inspired: this, to me seems very probably, the
sense of the apostle, 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 revelation, and others judging thereof: now
if there was this extraordinary gift of discerning of spirits in the
ages, in which particular books of scripture were written, they who were
favoured herewith, had a convincing testimony of the inspiration of the
prophets and apostles, from the same Spirit by whom they were inspired,
by which means the divine authority of scripture was infallibly 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.

_Answ._ As miracles are now ceased, so such a method of confirming
divine revelation is not necessary in all succeeding ages: God did not
design to make that dispensation too common, nor to continue the
evidence 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 _the power of God to salvation_, 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 _they who believe not Moses and the prophets, would not
be persuaded, though one rose from the dead_, Luke xvi, 31. Therefore,
since we have such a convincing evidence hereof, it is an unreasonable
degree of obstinacy to refuse to believe the divine authority of
scripture, merely because miracles are not now wrought; since, to demand
a farther proof of it, is no other than a tempting God, or disowning
that what he has done is sufficient for our conviction; and to say, that
for want of this evidence, our faith is not founded on a divine
testimony, is nothing to the purpose, unless it could be proved that it
is not founded on such a testimony formerly given, the contrary to which
is undeniably evident, since we 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 appear, 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 church, in all the ages thereof, is to be regarded.

The church has given its suffrage, throughout all the ages thereof, to
the divine original of scripture, how much soever it has perverted the
sense of it. That this argument may be set in a true light, let us
consider what the Papists say to this matter, when they appeal to the
church, to establish the divine authority of scripture; and wherein we
differ from them; and how far its testimony is to be regarded, as a
means for our farther conviction. We are far from asserting, with them,
that the church’s testimony alone is to be regarded, without the
internal 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; but all
their attempts of this nature are vain and trifling.

Moreover, we do not mean altogether the same thing by the church 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 farther 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 scripture was given by divine
inspiration, 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 faithful; and if their
faith, and all their religion, and hope of salvation, 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 scriptures are the word of
God, from their light and power to convince and convert sinners, and to
comfort and build up believers to salvation. Here let us consider,

1. That the work of conviction and conversion is, and has been at all
times, experienced by those who have had any right or claim to
salvation; of which there have not only been various instances, in all
ages, but the very being of the church, which supposes 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, without it; from whence it evidently
appears, that God makes 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
expectation has not been in vain, since God has, by this means,
manifested himself to them, and made them partakers of spiritual
privileges, which have been the beginning of their salvation.

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 would be to give countenance to a lie, which is
contrary 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 multitudes are 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 considered. By this we do not understand that extraordinary
impression 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 supernatural illumination. This we pretend
not to, since extraordinary gifts are ceased; yet it does not follow
from hence, that the Spirit does not now influence the minds of
believers in an ordinary way, whereby they are led into, and their faith
confirmed in all necessary truths, and this in particular, that the
scriptures are the word of God; for we may observe, that no privilege
referring to salvation, was ever taken away, but some other, subservient
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 gospel-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, instead of it, an inward conviction wrought by the Spirit of 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 testimony of the
Spirit in the hearts of men, whereby they are fully persuaded that the
scriptures are the word of God, let it be considered,

(1.) That it is something more than barely a power, or faculty 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 mistaken in the exercise thereof; and
therefore this is not sufficient, fully to persuade us that they are the
word of God, and consequently something more than this is intended in
this answer.

(2.) It is something short of inspiration; therefore, though the
scripture was known to be the word of God, by the Spirit of inspiration,
so long as that dispensation continued in the church, yet that privilege
being now ceased, the internal testimony 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, because 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;

(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 testimony of the Spirit, whereby
they are established in this important truth.[45]

Footnote 20:

  “Since God has been pleased to leave us the Records of the _Jewish_
  Religion, which was of old the true religion, and affords no small
  testimony to the Christian religion, it is not foreign to our purpose,
  to see upon what foundation the credibility of these is built. That
  these books are theirs, to whom they are ascribed, appears in the same
  manner as we have proved of our books. And they, whose names they
  bear, were either Prophets, or men worthy to be credited; such as
  _Esdras_, who is supposed to have collected them into one volume, at
  that time, when the Prophets _Haggai_, _Malachi_, and _Zacharias_,
  were yet alive. I will not here repeat what was said before, in
  commendation of _Moses_. And not only that first part, delivered by
  _Moses_, as we have shewn in the first book, but the latter history is
  confirmed by many _Pagans_. [21]Thus the _Phœnician_ annals mention
  the names of _David_ and _Solomon_, and the league they made with the
  _Tyrians_. And _Berosus_, as well as the _Hebrew_ books, mention
  _Nabuchadonosor_, and other _Chaldæans_. _Vaphres_, the king of
  _Egypt_ in _Jeremiah_ is the same with _Apries_ in _Herodotus_. And
  the _Greek_ books are filled with _Cyrus_ and his successors down to
  _Darius_; and _Josephus_ in his book against _Appion_, quotes many
  other things relating to the _Jewish_ nation: To which may be added,
  that we above took out of _Strabo_ and _Trogus_. But there is no
  reason for us Christians to doubt of the credibility of these books,
  because there are testimonies in our books, out of almost every one of
  them, the same as they are found in the _Hebrew_. Nor did Christ when
  he blamed many things in the teachers of the law, and in the
  _Pharisees_ of his time, ever accuse them of falsifying the books of
  _Moses_ and the Prophets, or of using supposititious or altered books.
  And it can never be 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 far and wide the _Jewish_ nation, who every where kept
  those books, was dispersed over the whole world. For first, the ten
  tribes were carried into _Media_ by the _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
  _Macedonians_ invited them into _Alexandria_ with great advantages;
  the cruelty of _Antiochus_, the civil war of the _Asmonæi_, and the
  foreign wars of _Pompey_ and _Sossius_, scattered a great many; the
  country of _Cyrene_ was filled with _Jews_; the cities of _Asia_,
  _Macedonia_, _Lycaonia_, and the Isles of _Cyprus_, and _Crete_, and
  others, were full of them; and that there was a vast number of them in
  Rome, we learn from _Horace_, _Juvenal_, and _Martial_. It is
  impossible 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 almost three hundred 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 the Greeks might have them in
  another language, but the 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 _Syriac_; partly a little before, and partly a little
  after Christ’s time. After which followed other _Greek_ versions, that
  of _Aquila_, _Symmachus_, and _Theodotion_; which _Origen_, and others
  after him, compared with the seventy Interpreters, and found no
  difference in the history; or in any weighty matters. _Philo_
  flourished in _Caligula’s_ time, and Josephus lived till
  _Vespasian’s_. Each of them 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 more spread, and many of its professors were
  _Hebrews_: Many had studied the _Hebrew_ learning, who could very
  easily have perceived 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 of any crime, sooner than (I will not say
  of falsity, but) of negligence, in relation to these books; because
  they used to transcribe and compare them so very scrupulously, that
  they could tell how often every letter came over. We may add, in the
  first place, an argument, and that no mean one, why the _Jews_ did not
  alter the scripture designedly; because the Christians prove, and as
  they think very strongly, that their Master Jesus was that very
  Messiah who was of old promised to the forefathers of the _Jews_; and
  this from those very books, which were read by the _Jews_. Which the
  _Jews_ would have taken the greatest care should never have been,
  after there arose a controversy between them and the Christians; if it
  had ever been in their power to have altered what they would.”


Footnote 21:

  (_Thus the_ Phoenician _Annals_, &c.) See what _Josephus_ cites out of
  them, Book VIII. Chap. 2. of his Ancient History; where he adds, “that
  if any one would see the Copies of those Epistles which _Solomon_ and
  _Hirom_ wrote to each other, they may be procured of the public
  Keepers of the Records at _Tyrus_.” (We must be cautions how we
  believe this; however, see what I have said upon 1 _Kings_ v. 3.)
  There is a remarkable place concerning _David_, quoted by _Josephus_,
  Book VII. Ch. 6. of his Ancient History, out of the IVth of
  _Damascenus’s_ History.

Footnote 22:

  “The enquiries of learned men, and, above all of the excellent
  Lardner, who never overstates a point of evidence, and whose fidelity
  in citing his authorities 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 almost every Christian
  writer that 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 Irenæus, by Athenagoras, by
  Theophilus, by Clement of Alexandria, by Hermias, by Tertullian, who
  occupied the succeeding age. Now when we find a 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 author
  lived. And this conclusion does not, in any degree, rest upon the
  judgment or character of the author making such reference. Proceeding
  by this rule, we have, concerning the First Epistle to the Corinthians
  in particular, within forty years after the epistle was written,
  evidence, not only of its being extant at Corinth, but of its being
  known and read at Rome. Clement, bishop of that city, writing to the
  church of Corinth, uses these words: ‘Take into your hands the Epistle
  of the blessed Paul the apostle. What did he at first write unto you
  in the beginning of the gospel? Verily he did by the Spirit admonish
  you concerning himself and Cephas, and Apollos, because that even then
  you did form parties[23].’ This was written at a time when probably
  some must have been living at Corinth, who remembered St. Paul’s
  ministry there and the receipt of the epistle. The testimony is still
  more valuable, as it shows that the epistles were 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. Agreeably
  to which natural mode and order of their publication, Tertullian, a
  century afterwards, for proof of the integrity and genuineness of the
  apostolic writings, bids ‘any one, who is willing to exercise his
  curiosity profitably in the business of their salvation, to visit the
  apostolical churches, in which their very authentic letters are
  recited, ipsæ authenticæ literæ 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. If you can go to
  Asia, you have Ephesus; but if you are near to Italy, you have
  Rome[24].’ I adduce this passage to show, that the distinct churches
  or Christian societies, to which St. Paul’s Epistles were sent,
  subsisted for some ages afterwards; that his several epistles were all
  along respectively read in those churches; that Christians at large
  received them from those churches, and appealed to those churches for
  their originality and authenticity.

  “Arguing in like manner from citations and allusions, we have, within
  the space of a hundred and fifty years from the time that the first of
  St. Paul’s Epistles was written, proofs of almost all of them being
  read, in Palestine, Syria, the countries of Asia Minor, in Egypt, in
  that part of Africa which used the Latin tongue, in Greece, Italy, and
  Gaul[25]. I do not mean simply to assert, that, within the space of a
  hundred and fifty years, St. Paul’s Epistles were read in those
  countries, for I believe that they were read and circulated from the
  beginning; but that proofs of their being so read occur within that
  period. And when it is considered how few of the primitive Christians
  wrote, and of what was written how much is lost, we are to account it
  extraordinary, or rather as a sure proof of the extensiveness of the
  reputation of these writings, and of the general respect in which they
  were held, that so many testimonies, and of such antiquity, are still
  extant. ‘In the remaining works of Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, and
  Tertullian, there are perhaps more and larger quotations of the small
  volume of the New Testament, than of all the works of Cicero, in the
  writings of all characters for several ages[26].’ We must add, that
  the Epistles of Paul come in for their full share of this observation;
  and that all the thirteen epistles, except that to Philemon, which is
  not quoted by Irenæus or Clement, and which probably escaped notice
  merely by its brevity, are severally cited, and expressly recognized
  as St. Paul’s by each of these Christian writers. The Ebionites, an
  early, though inconsiderable Christian sect, rejected St. Paul and his
  epistles[27]; that is, they rejected these epistles, not because they
  were not, but because they were St. Paul’s; and because, adhering to
  the obligation of the Jewish law, they chose to dispute his doctrine
  and authority. Their suffrage as to the genuineness of the epistles
  does not contradict that of other Christians. Marcion, an heretical
  writer in the former part of the second century, is said by Tertullian
  to have rejected three of the epistles which we now receive, _viz._
  the two Epistles to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus. It appears to me
  not improbable, that Marcion might make some such distinction as this,
  that no apostolic epistle was to be admitted which was not read or
  attested by the church to which it was sent; for it is remarkable
  that, together with these epistles to private persons, he rejected
  also the catholic epistles. Now the catholic epistles and the epistles
  to private persons agree in the circumstance of wanting this
  particular species of attestation. Marcion, it seems, acknowledged the
  Epistle to Philemon, and is upbraided for his inconsistency in doing
  so by Tertullian[28], who asks ‘why, when he received a letter written
  to a single person, he should refuse two to Timothy and one to Titus
  composed upon the affairs of the church?’ This passage so far favours
  our account of Marcion’s objection, as it shows that the objection was
  supposed by Tertullian to have been founded in something, which
  belonged to the nature of a private letter.

  “Nothing of the works of Marcion remains. Probably he was, after all,
  a rash, arbitrary, 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: speaking of him and Basilides, ‘If they had assigned any
  reasons,’ says he, ‘why they did not reckon these epistles,’ _viz._
  the first and second to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus, ‘to be the
  apostle’s, we would have endeavoured to have answered them, and
  perhaps might have satisfied the reader: but when they take upon them,
  by their own authority, to pronounce one epistle to be Paul’s, and
  another not, they can only be replied to in the same manner[29].’ 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, forms a very small exception to the uniformity of the
  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
  three private epistles. Yet is this the only opinion which can be said
  to disturb the consent of the two first centuries of the Christian
  æra; 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 from much older writers than Jerome, that
  Tatian owned and used many of these epistles[30].

  “II. They, who in those ages disputed about so many other points,
  agreed in acknowledging the Scriptures now before us. Contending sects
  appealed to them in their controversies with equal and unreserved
  submission. When they were urged by one side, however they might be
  interpreted or misinterpreted by the other, their authority was not
  questioned. ‘Reliqui omnes,’ says Irenæus, speaking of Marcion, ‘falso
  scientiæ nomine inflati, scripturas quidem confitentur,
  interpretationes vero convertunt[31].’

  “III. When the genuineness of some other writings which were in
  circulation, and even of a few which are now received into the 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 Third
  of John, the Epistle of James, or that of Jude, or to the book of the
  Revelations of St. John, the doubts that appear to have been
  entertained concerning them, exceedingly strengthen the force of the
  testimony as to those writings, about which there was no doubt;
  because it shows, that the matter was a subject, amongst the early
  Christians, of examination and discussion; and that, where there was
  any room to doubt, they did doubt.

  “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 ‘αγαγτιρῥητα, uncontradicted,’ as he calls them in one
  chapter; or ‘scriptures universally acknowledged,’ as he calls them in
  another; the ‘controverted, yet well known and approved 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 precisely that
  he meant by the term _spurious_, it is not necessary in this place to
  enquire. It is sufficient for us to find, that the thirteen epistles
  of St. Paul are placed by him in the first class without any sort of
  hesitation or doubt.

  “It is further 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 Christians of his time, _viz._ the close of the third century,
  in judging concerning the sacred authority of any books, was to
  enquire after and consider the testimony of those who lived near the
  age of the apostles[32].

  “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 writings, as
  the epistles, for instance, of Phalaris, or the eighteen epistles of
  Cicero, begin by showing that this attestation 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
  commonly attacked by arguments drawn from some opposition which they
  betray to ‘authentic history,’ to ‘true epistles,’ to ‘the real
  sentiments or circumstances of the author whom they personate[33];’
  which authentic history, which true epistles, which real sentiments
  themselves, are no other than ancient documents, whose early existence
  and reception can be proved, in the manner in which the writings
  before us are traced up to the age of their 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 assertion, or the most undisputed fact, that he delivers,
  than writings, whose genuineness is proved by the same medium through
  which we evince the authenticity 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 spuriousness or
  imposture in his materials.

  “V. It cannot be shown that any forgeries, properly so called[34],
  that is, writings published under the name of the person who did not
  compose them, made their appearance in the first century of the
  Christian æra, in which century these epistles undoubtedly existed. I
  shall set down under this proposition the guarded words of Lardner
  himself: ‘There are no quotations of any books of them (spurious and
  apocryphal books) in the apostolical fathers, by whom I mean Barnabas,
  Clement of Rome, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp, whose writings reach
  from the year of our Lord 70 to the year 108. _I say this confidently,
  because I think it has been proved._’ Lardner, vol. xii. p. 158.

  “Nor when they did appear were they much used by the primitive
  Christians. ‘Irenæus 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 no value; and
  that they never were received by the sounder part of Christians.’ Now,
  if with this, which is advanced after the most minute and diligent
  examination, we compare what the same cautious writer had before said
  of our received scriptures, ‘that in the works of three only of the
  above-mentioned fathers, there are more and larger quotations of the
  small volume of the New Testament, than of all the works of Cicero in
  the writers of all characters for several ages;’ and if, with the
  marks of obscurity or condemnation, which accompanied the mention of
  the several apocryphal Christian writings, when they happened to be
  mentioned at all, we contrast what Dr. Lardner’s work completely and
  in detail makes out concerning the writings which we defend, and what,
  having so made out, he thought himself authorized in his conclusion to
  assert, that these books were not only received from the beginning,
  but received with the greatest respect; have been publicly and
  solemnly read in the assemblies of Christians throughout the world, in
  every age from that time to this; early translated into the languages
  of divers countries and people; commentaries writ to explain and
  illustrate them; quoted by way of proof in all arguments of a
  religious nature; recommended to the perusal of unbelievers, as
  containing the authentic account of the Christian doctrine; when we
  attend, I say, to this representation, we perceive in it, not only
  full 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 fourth century, no intimation appears of any attempt whatever
  being made to counterfeit these writings; 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 Laodicenses; sed ab omnibus
  exploditur;’ there is also an Epistle to the Laodiceans, but it is
  rejected by every body[35]. Theodoret, who wrote in the year 423,
  speaks of this epistle in the same terms[36]. Beside these, I know not
  whether any ancient writer mentions it. It was certainly unnoticed
  during the three first centuries of the Church; and when it came
  afterwards 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, which was brought into
  Europe in the present century, antiquity is entirely silent. It was
  unheard of for sixteen centuries; and at this day, though it be
  extant, and was first 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
  authenticity to be confirmed by the want of success which attended

  “When we take into our hands the letters which the suffrage and
  consent of antiquity 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 language of a mind actuated by real occasions,
  and operating upon real circumstances, I would wish it to be observed,
  that the proof which arises from this perception is not to be deemed
  occult or imaginary, because it is incapable of being drawn out in
  words, or of being conveyed to the apprehension of the reader in any
  other way, than by sending him to the books themselves.”——

  “If it be true that we are in possession of the very letters which St.
  Paul wrote, let us consider what confirmation they afford to the
  Christian history. In my opinion they substantiate the whole
  transaction. The great object of modern research is to come at the
  epistolary correspondence of the times. Amidst the obscurities, the
  silence, or the contradictions of history, if a letter can be found,
  we regard it as the discovery of a land mark; as that by which we can
  correct, adjust, or supply the imperfections and uncertainties of
  other accounts. One cause of the superior credit which is attributed
  to letters is this, that the facts which they disclose generally come
  out _incidentally_, and therefore without design 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 further 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 unthought-of effect. The sincerity
  therefore of the apostle’s declarations cannot reasonably 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 part of
  the muniments of Christianity, 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 the
  knowledge which the author of the Acts of the Apostles had obtained of
  that history, and the consequent probability that he was, what he
  professes himself to have been, a companion of the apostle’s; beside
  the support they lend to these important inferences, they meet
  specifically some of the principal objections upon which the
  adversaries of Christianity have thought proper to rely. In particular
  they show,

  “I. That Christianity was not a story set on foot amidst the
  confusions which attended and immediately preceded the destruction of
  Jerusalem; when many extravagant reports were circulated, when men’s
  minds were broken by terror and distress, when amidst the tumults that
  surrounded them enquiry was impracticable. These letters show
  incontestably that the religion had fixed and established itself
  before this state of things took place.

  “II. Whereas it hath been insinuated, that our gospels may have been
  made up of reports and stories, which were current at the 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
  the same thing, be led by reports to refer to passages and
  transactions in which he states himself to have been immediately
  present and active. I do not allow that this insinuation is applied to
  the historical part of the New Testament with any colour of justice or
  probability; but I say, that to the Epistles it is not applicable at

  “III. These letters prove that the converts to Christianity were not
  drawn from 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 not only of the writer, but, in some
  measure, of the persons to whom they are written. To suppose that
  these letters were addressed to a rude tribe, incapable 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. Whatever may be thought of these letters in other respects,
  either of diction or argument, they are certainly removed as far as
  possible from the habits and comprehension of a barbarous people.

  “IV. St. Paul’s history, I mean so much of it as may be collected from
  his letters, is so _implicated_ with that of the other apostles, and
  with the substance indeed of the Christian history itself, that I
  apprehend it will be found impossible to admit St. Paul’s story (I do
  not speak of the miraculous part of it) to be true, 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 _not_ 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 ministry.
  The witnesses of his miracles lived there. St. Paul, by his own
  account, as well as that of his 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 correspondence, and sometimes in conjunction with them. Can it,
  after this, be doubted, but that the religion and the general facts
  relating to it, which St. Paul appears by his letters to have
  delivered to the several churches which he established at a distance,
  were at the same time taught and published 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
  miraculous, or pretendedly miraculous, ministry?

  “It is observable, for so it appears 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 churches maintained a
  correspondence and connexion, to which they referred their doubts, and
  to whose relief, 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 our accounts in one
  country 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 soundness and sobriety of
  his judgment. His caution in distinguishing between the occasional
  suggestions of inspiration, and the ordinary exercise of his natural
  understanding, is without example in the history of enthusiasm. His
  morality is every where calm, pure, and rational: adapted 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, yet of the prudence
  and even the duty of compliance, where non-compliance would produce
  evil effects 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 accuracy of modern ethics has found nothing to
  amend in these determinations.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

  “Broad, obvious, and explicit agreements prove little; because it may
  be suggested, 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 cannot 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 received of the Lord
  that which I also delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same
  night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given
  thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is
  broken for you; this do in remembrance of me,’ though it be in close
  and verbal conformity with the account of the same transaction
  preserved by St. Luke, is yet a conformity of which no use can be made
  in our argument; for if it should be objected that this was a mere
  recital from the Gospel, borrowed by the author of the epistle, for
  the purpose of setting off his composition by an appearance of
  agreement with the received account of the Lord’s supper, I should not
  know how to repel the insinuation. In like manner, the description
  which St. Paul gives of himself in his epistle to the Philippians
  (iii. 5.)—‘Circumcised the eighth day, of 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; touching 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,
  named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman _which was a Jewess_;’ and
  when, in an epistle addressed to Timothy, I find him reminded of his
  ‘having known the Holy Scriptures _from 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
  _obliquity_, that scheme was not employed in its formation.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

  “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 mention of Colosse, any the most distant
  intimation concerning the place of Philemon’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 circumstance is discoverable
  which makes out the assertion, that Onesimus was ‘one of them.’ Take
  the Epistle to Philemon alone, and nothing at all appears concerning
  the place to which Philemon or his servant Onesimus belonged. For any
  thing that is said in the epistle, Philemon might have been a
  Thessalonian, a Philippian, or an Ephesian, as well as a Colossian.
  Put the two epistles together and the matter is clear. The reader
  perceives a _junction_ of circumstances, which ascertains the
  conclusion at once. Now, all that is necessary to be added in this
  place is, that this correspondency evinces the genuineness of one
  epistle, as well as of the other. It is like comparing the two parts
  of a cloven tally. Coincidence proves the authenticity of both.”


Footnote 23:

  See Lardner, vol. xii. p. 22.

Footnote 24:

  Lardner, vol. ii. p. 598.

Footnote 25:

  See Lardner’s Recapitulation, vol. xii, p. 53.

Footnote 26:

  See Lardner’s Recapitulation, vol. xii. p. 53.

Footnote 27:

  Lardner, vol. ii. p. 808.

Footnote 28:

  Lardner, vol. xiv. p. 455.

Footnote 29:

  Lardner, vol. xiv. p. 458.

Footnote 30:

  Lardner, vol. i. p. 313.

Footnote 31:

  Iren. advers. Haer. quoted by Lardner, vol. xv. p. 425.

Footnote 32:

  Lardner, vol. viii. p. 106.

Footnote 33:

  See the tracts written in the controversy between Tunstal and
  Middleton upon certain suspected epistles ascribed to Cicero.

Footnote 34:

  I believe that there is a great deal of truth in Dr. Lardner’s
  observations, that comparatively few of those books, which we call
  apocryphal, were strictly and originally forgeries. See Lardner, vol.
  xii. p. 167.

Footnote 35:

  Lardner, vol. x. p. 103.

Footnote 36:

  Lardner, vol. xi. p. 88.

Footnote 37:

  לך שבע שנים are wanting only in 85 and 112 of Kennicott.

Footnote 38:

  _See Ques._ 154.

Footnote 39:

  ῾Υπερανω αὐτῆς.

Footnote 40:

  [ἐν ἡ] εν _oftentimes signifies_, Cum, ad, prope, juxta, _as well as

Footnote 41:

  “The most ancient tradition among all nations, is exactly agreeable to
  the relation of _Moses_. For his description of the original of the
  world is almost the very same as in the ancient _Phœnician_ histories,
  which are translated by _Philo Biblius_ from _Sanchoniathon’s_
  Collection; and a good part of it is to be found among the _Indians_
  and _Egyptians_; whence it is that in _Linus_, _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 animals, and also
  of man’s formation after the divine image, and the dominion given him
  over all living creatures; which are to be seen in many writers,
  particularly in _Ovid_, who transcribed them from the _Greek_. That
  all things were made by the Word of God, is asserted by _Epicharmus_,
  and the _Platonists_; and before them, by the most ancient writer (I
  do not mean of those Hymns which go under his name, but) of those
  Verses which were of old called _Orpheus’s_; not because _Orpheus_
  composed them, but because they contained his doctrines. And
  _Empedocles_ acknowledged, that the sun was not the original light,
  but the receptacle of light, (the storehouse and vehicle of fire, as
  the ancient Christians express it.) _Aratus_, and _Catullus_, thought
  the divine residence was above the starry orb; in which _Homer_ says,
  there is a continual light. _Thales_ taught from the ancient schools,
  that God was the oldest of beings, because not begotten; that the
  world was most beautiful, because the workmanship of God; that
  darkness was before light, which latter we find in _Orpheus’s_ Verses,
  and _Hesiod_, whence it was, that the nations, who were most tenacious
  of ancient customs, reckoned the time by nights. _Anaxagoras_
  affirmed, that all things were regulated by the supreme mind:
  _Aratus_, that the stars were made by God; _Virgil_, from the
  _Greeks_, that Life was infused into things by the Spirit of God;
  _Hesiod_, _Homer_, and _Callimachus_, that man was formed of clay;
  lastly, _Maximus Tyrius_ asserts, that it was a constant tradition
  received by all nations, that there was one supreme God, the cause of
  all things. And we learn from _Josephus_, _Philo_, _Tibullus_,
  _Clemens Alexandrinus_, and _Lucian_, (for I need not mention the
  _Hebrews_) that the memory of the seven days’ work was preserved, not
  only among the _Greeks_ and _Italians_, by honouring the seventh day;
  but also amongst the _Celtæ_ and _Indians_, who all measured the time
  by weeks; as we learn from _Philostratus_, _Dion Cassius_, and _Justin
  Martyr_, and also the most ancient names of the day. The _Egyptians_
  tell us, that at first men led their lives in great simplicity, their
  bodies being naked, whence arose the poet’s fiction of the Golden Age,
  famous among the _Indians_, as _Strabo_ remarks, _Maimonides_ takes
  notice, that the history of _Adam_, of _Eve_, of the tree, and of the
  serpent, was extant among the idolatrous _Indians_ in his time: and
  there are many witnesses in our age, who testify that the same is
  still to be found amongst the _heathen_ dwelling in _Peru_, and the
  _Philippine_ islands, people belonging to the same _India_; the name
  of _Adam_ amongst the _Brachmans_; and that it was reckoned six
  thousand years since the creation of the world, by those of _Siam_.
  _Berosus_ in his history of _Chaldea_, _Manethos_ in his of _Egypt_,
  _Hierom_ in his of _Phœnicia_, _Histæus_, _Hecatæus_, _Hillanicus_ in
  theirs of _Greece_, and _Hesiod_ among the Poets; all assert that the
  lives of those who descended from the first men, were almost a
  thousand years in length; which is the less incredible, because the
  historians of many nations (particularly _Pausanias_ and
  _Philostratus_ amongst the _Greeks_, and _Pliny_ amongst the _Romans_)
  relate, that men’s bodies, upon opening their sepulchres, were found
  to be much 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 those
  Spirits 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 them: so that _Varro_ calls
  all _that_ the unknown time. And all those things which we read in the
  poets, wrapped up in fables (a Liberty they allow themselves) are
  delivered by the ancient writers according to truth and reality; that
  is, agreeable to _Moses_; as you may see in _Berosus’s_ History of
  _Chaldea_, _Abydenus’s_ of _Assyria_, who mentions the dove that was
  sent out of the ark; and in _Plutarch_ from the _Greeks_; and in
  _Lucian_, who says, that in _Hierapolis_ of _Syria_, there was
  remaining a most ancient history of the ark, and of the preserving a
  few not only of mankind, but also of other living creatures. The same
  history was extant also in _Molo_ and in _Nicolaus Damascenus_; which
  latter names the ark, which we also find in the history of _Deucalion_
  in _Apollodorus_; and many _Spaniards_ affirm, that in several parts
  of _America_, as _Cuba_, _Mechoacana_, _Nicaraga_, is preserved the
  memory of the deluge, the saving alive of animals, especially the
  raven and dove; and the deluge itself in that part called _Golden
  Castile_. That remark of _Pliny’s_, that _Joppa_ was built before the
  Flood, discovers what part of the earth men inhabited before the
  Flood. The place where the ark rested after the deluge on the
  _Gordyæan_ mountains, is evident from the constant tradition of the
  _Armenians_ from all past ages, down to this very day. _Japhet_, the
  father of the _Europeans_, and from him _Jon_, or, as they formerly
  pronounced it, _Javon_ of the _Greeks_, and _Hammon_ of the
  _Africans_, are names to be seen in _Moses_, and _Josephus_ and others
  observe the like footsteps in the names of other places and nations.
  And which of the poets is it, in which we do not find mention made of
  the attempt to climb the heavens? _Diodoris Siculus_, _Strabo_,
  _Tacitus_, _Pliny_, _Solinus_, speak of the burning of _Sodom_.
  _Herodotus_, _Diodorus_, _Strabo_, _Philo Biblius_, testify the
  ancient custom of Circumcision, which is confirmed by those nations
  descended from _Abraham_, not only _Hebrews_, but also _Idumæans_,
  _Ismaelites_, and others. The history of _Abraham_, _Isaac_, _Jacob_,
  and _Joseph_, agreeable with _Moses_, was extant of old in _Philo
  Biblius_ out of _Sanchoniathon_, in _Berosus_, _Hecatæus_,
  _Damascenus_, _Artapanus_, _Eupolemus_, _Demetrius_, and partly in the
  ancient writers of the Orphic Verses; and something of it is still
  extant in _Justin_, out of _Trogus Pompeius_. By almost all which, is
  related also the history of _Moses_, and his principal acts. The
  Orphic Verses expressly mention his being taken out of the water, and
  the two tables that were given him by God. To these we may add
  _Polemon_; and several things about his coming out of _Egypt_, from
  the _Egyptian_ writers, _Menetho_, _Lysimachus_, _Chæremon_. Neither
  can any prudent man think it at all credible, that _Moses_, who had so
  many enemies, not only of the _Egyptians_, but also of many other
  nations, as the _Idumæans_, _Arabians_, and _Phœnicians_, would
  venture to relate any thing concerning the creation of the world, or
  the original of things, which could be confuted by more ancient
  writings, or was contradictory to the ancient and received opinions:
  or that he would relate any thing of matters in his own time, that
  could be confuted by the testimony of many persons then alive,
  _Diodorus Siculus_, _Strabo_, and _Pliny_, _Tacitus_, and after them
  _Dionysius Longinus_ (concerning loftiness of Speech) make mention of
  _Moses_. Besides the _Talmudists_, _Pliny_ and _Apuleius_, speak of
  _Jamnes_ and _Mambres_, 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 _Moses_, _Strabo_ and
  _Justin_, out of _Trogus_, remarkably testify concerning the religion
  and righteousness of the ancient _Jews_; so that there seems to be no
  need of mentioning what is found, or has formerly been found of
  _Joshua_ and others, agreeable to the _Hebrew_ books; seeing, that
  whoever gives credit to _Moses_ (which it is a shame for any one to
  refuse) cannot but believe those famous 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 _Elija_, _Elisha_, and others, should
  not be counterfeit, there is this further argument; that in those
  times _Judæa_ was become more known, and because of the difference of
  religion was hated by the neighbours, who could very easily confute
  the first rise of a lie. The history of _Jonah’s_ being three days in
  the whale’s belly is in _Lycophron_ and _Æneus Gazeus_, only under the
  name of _Herculus_; to advance whose fame, every thing that was great
  and noble used to be related of him, as _Tacitus_ observes. Certainly
  nothing but the manifest evidence of the history could compel _Julian_
  (who was as great an enemy to the _Jews_ as to the Christians) to
  confess that there were some men inspired by the divine Spirit amongst
  the _Jews_, and that fire descended from heaven, and consumed the
  sacrifices of _Moses_ and _Elias_. And here it is worthy of
  observation, that there was not only very severe punishments
  threatened amongst the _Hebrews_, to any who should falsely assume the
  gift of prophecy, but very many kings, who by that means might have
  procured great authority to themselves, and many learned men, such as
  _Esdras_ and others, dared not to assume this honour to themselves;
  nay, some ages 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 destruction of the first temple, that their
  ancestors must of necessity be well assured of the truth of it.”


Footnote 42:

  Vid. Joseph Antiq.

Footnote 43:

  Reason will affirm that every effect speaks a cause; then we ask how
  it should happen that a dozen illiterate fishermen and mechanicks of
  Galilee, after the wisdom of the philosophers had left the world in
  darkness, should have introduced so much light of knowledge, that our
  children and servants are wiser than the ancient philosophers? Let no
  one say, that they only began, what the wisdom of after ages have
  carried on towards perfection. The writings of the apostles are the
  same to this day; as is proved by the earliest versions, quotations,
  and manuscripts. So perfect was the system of morals they left, that
  no error has been detected in it, and all attempts to build upon or
  add to it, have only exposed the ignorance of the individuals who have
  essayed to do so.

  How 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 fishermen, have shown the true foundation and nature of
  duty, and have erred in no particular? Is it not strange that whilst
  the wisdom of the philosophers made their purest virtue but a more
  refined pride, these poor men laid the ax to the root of that pride,
  and taught the world that even their virtues brought them under
  additional obligations to Divine grace? Is it not remarkable that the
  system taught by these unlearned men should so perfectly coincide with
  what is discovered in the works of God, that whilst it aims to
  eradicate sin, it represents it as in every instance eventually
  productive of the glory of that God, who brings good out of the evil,
  and light out of the darkness?

  How is it to be accounted for, that when the most learned rabbies
  perverted the law, and knew not its meaning, that a few crude and
  uninstructed fishermen should remove their false constructions of that
  law, explain the types, shadows, promises and prophecies, show how the
  truth and justice of God might be clear in the pardon of sin, and set
  the labouring conscience at rest? How came the fishermen of Galilee to
  discover to the wise and learned what they had never conjectured, and
  truths, which only attentive minds at the present time can acquiesce
  in, that all things are certain, because foreknown, and foreknown
  because Divine knowledge must be infinite and eternal, and yet that
  rational creatures may be capable of choosing and refusing, though
  they must be wholly dependent? Is it not passing strange that the
  wisdom of Philosophers, the learning of Rabbies, the power of Kings
  and Emperors, the influence of thousands of priests, the prejudices of
  the world, and the malice of the wicked should be overcome by twelve
  poor fishermen? How is it to be accounted for that these twelve poor
  illiterate men should have effected such surprising changes, that
  modern infidels are ashamed of the evidence of their ancient
  predecessors, and are obliged to borrow from the fishermen of Galilee
  a portion of the knowledge they have introduced, without which the
  opposers of the Gospel must fall into contempt? Is any man so
  credulous as to imagine men of no better education and opportunities,
  possessed of themselves all this knowledge? when or where has the
  natural world produced such a phænomenon? they declared that it was
  not of themselves, but, that such feeble instruments were chosen, that
  the power might appear to be what it really was, from God. This
  testimony they confirmed by miracles, and sealed with their blood.

Footnote 44:

  Vide Dodd. Expos. 3 vol. app.—Dick on Insp.—Parry’s Enq.—Hawker, &c.

Footnote 45:

  This description of the Spirit’s witness resembles sensible assurance;
  that there may be such an immediate suggestion, or impression is
  possible; but the Spirit’s witness is the image of God, and is of
  adoption.—Vide Edwards’s works, vol. 4. p. 161.

                               Quest. V.

    QUEST. V. _What do the scriptures principally teach?_

    ANSW. The scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe
    concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.[46]

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 many great doctrines contained 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, _Now of the things which we have spoken
this is the sum_, Heb. viii. 1. and accordingly, 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 principally teach these two things, appears
from the apostle’s advice to Timothy, _Hold fast the form of sound
words, which thou hast heard of 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 who yields an assent to divine revelation, 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; _Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I
will shew thee my faith by my works_, James ii. 17, 18. and, on the
other hand, works without faith are unacceptable. A blind obedience, or
ignorant performance of some of the external parts of religion, without
the knowledge of divine truth, is no better than what the apostle calls
_bodily exercise which profiteth 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 _worketh 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?

Footnote 46:

  What we are to believe reaches to Qu. 91. the rest is of practice.

                               Quest. VI.

    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 inexpressible 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 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 privilege, as the Psalmist observes, when speaking of
God’s _shewing his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto
Israel_, Psal. cxlvii. he mentions it, as an instance of discriminating
grace, in that he _has not dealt so with any other nation_. This raised
the admiration of one of Christ’s disciples, when he said, _Lord how is
it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world_! John
xiv. 22. And it is still more wonderful, 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
with man! Thus he says concerning the holy patriarch of old, _Shall I
hide from Abraham the thing which I do?_ Gen. xvi. 17. However, it is
one thing to know the secret purposes of God, and another thing to know
the various properties thereof; the former of these, however known of
old, by extraordinary intimation, are now known to us only by the
execution of them; the latter is what we may attain to the knowledge of,
by studying the scriptures.

Now as the scriptures make known, _First_, What God is; _Secondly_, The
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,[47] which treats of
doctrinal subjects, contains an enlargement on these four general heads;
the first whereof we proceed to consider.

Footnote 47:

  That is unto the 91st Quest.

                              Quest. VII.

    QUEST. VII. _What is God?_

    ANSW. God is a Spirit, in and of himself, infinite in being, glory,
    blessedness, and perfection, all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable,
    incomprehensible, every where present, almighty, knowing all things,
    most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful, and gracious,
    long-suffering, and abundant in goodness 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 description of
God, since he is incomprehensible, therefore 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 know_,
comparatively, _nothing_, 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 knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is high, we cannot
attain to it_, Psal. cxxxix. 6. _How little a portion is heard of him?_
Job. xxvi. 14.

2. Though God cannot 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 affixed 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
concerning the great God, though we are far from comprehending his
infinite perfections, yet our conceptions are not to be concluded
erroneous, when directed by his word; which leads us to consider 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 estimate of finite perfections, which we have
some ideas of, though not perfect ones in all respects; 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 creature, 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 way, as
it is in the creature; _He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He
that formed the eye, shall not he see? He that teacheth man knowledge,
shall he not know?_ Psal. xciv. 9, 10. Therefore,

(3.) When the same words are used that import a perfection 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 they are, at best, but finite, and have many imperfections attending
them, all which we must separate or abstract in our thoughts, when the
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 consider, at the same time, that _the
Lord seeth not as man seeth_, 1 Sam. xvi. 7. The same may be said of all
his other perfections; he worketh not as man worketh; whatever
perfections are ascribed to the creature, they are to be considered as
agreeable to the subject in which they are; so when the same words are
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 perfections of
God, into those that are communicable, and incommunicable.

1. The communicable perfections of God are such, whereof we find some
faint resemblance in intelligent creatures, though, at the same time,
there is an infinite disproportion; as when we speak of God as holy,
wise, just, powerful, or faithful, 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 infinite way; they are in us, in our own, that is, a finite and
limited 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, &c.
these perfections contain in them an account of the vast distance that
there is between God and the creature, or how infinitely he exceeds all
other beings, and is opposed to every thing that argues imperfection in

From this general account we have given of the divine perfections, we
may infer,

1. That there is nothing common between God and the creature; that is,
there is nothing which belongs to the divine nature that can be
attributed to the creature; and nothing proper to the creature is to be
applied to God: yet there are some rays of the divine glory, 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, represented as made after the divine image.

2. Let us never think or speak of the divine perfections but with the
highest reverence, lest we take his name in vain, or debase him in our
thoughts; _Shall not his excellency make you afraid, and his dread fall
upon you?_ Job xiii. 11. And whenever we compare God with the creatures,
_viz._ angels and men, that bear somewhat of his image, let us, at the
same time, abstract in our thoughts, all their imperfections, whether
natural or moral, from him, and consider the infinite disproportion that
there 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

I. God is a Spirit; that is, an immaterial substance, without 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 premised, that we cannot
fully 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 nature; however, our ideas first begin at
what is finite, in considering the nature and properties of spirits; and
from thence we are led to conceive of God as infinitely more perfect
than any finite spirit. Here we shall consider the word spirit, as
applied more especially to angels, and the souls of men; and let it be

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 purely
material; so angels are the most perfect and glorious 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 putting 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 forth.

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 understanding 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.[48]

(2.) The difference between other spiritual substances and 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 are derived from him,
and therefore he is called, _The Father of spirits_, Heb. xii. 9. and
_the God of the spirits of all flesh_, Numb. xvi. 22. and his
perfections are underived: other spirits are, as we have observed, in
their own nature, immortal, yet God can reduce them to nothing; but God
is independently 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 whereas 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 apply those things to them,
which tend to make them happy, 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;

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 had not the least pretence for so doing,
inasmuch as they _saw no similitude of him, when he spake to them in
Horeb_; and to make an image of him would be to corrupt themselves.

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
wisdom, power, goodness, holiness, &c. are all independent. 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 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 who
instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him
knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?_ 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 necessarily, 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 sovereign
will. Thus he gave being to the world, and all things therein, which was
the first instance of bounty and goodness, and a very great one it was,
not by constraint, but by his free will, _for 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 independent 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 exist 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 other, which infers a contradiction.

(2.) If God be infinitely above the highest creatures, he cannot 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 are as
the drop of the bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the
balance; all nations before him are as nothing, 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 necessarily: 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 independent, 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 challenge to this effect, _Who hath
first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again_, Rom.
xi. 35. and Eliphaz says to Job, Job xxii. 2, 3. _Can a man be
profitable to God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is
it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain
to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?_

2. If independency be a divine perfection, then let it not, in any
instance, or by any consequence, be attributed to the creature; 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 perfection. To be
infinite, is to be without all bounds or limits, either actual or
possible: now that God is so, is evident, from his being 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 infinite_, which will farther appear, when we consider
him as omniscient; his will determines what shall come to pass, with an
infinite sovereignty, that cannot be controuled, or rendered
ineffectual; his power is infinite, and therefore all things are equally
possible, and easy to it, nor can it be resisted by any contrary force
or power; and he is infinite in blessedness, as being self-sufficient,
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. “How much soever thy relative glory may be
illustrated, by what I have engaged to perform in the covenant of
redemption, yet this can make no addition to thine essential glory.” And
if so, then certainly nothing can be done by us which may 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 denominate him completely blessed, as a God of
infinite perfection; so his all-sufficiency is that, whereby he is able
to communicate 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 wants_, _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 communicate what he designs to
impart to us, he is never at a loss; for as 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 may, in a mediate way,
receive some small drops from them, but he is the ocean of all

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, desiring 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, knowing good and evil_,
Gen. iii. 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 bestow them upon us in his own way, or in the use
of lawful means: thus Rebecca and Jacob did, when they contrived a lie
to obtain the blessing, chap. xxvii. as though there had not been an
all-sufficiency in providence to bring it about, without their having
recourse to those methods that were in themselves sinful.

(3.) When we use unlawful means to escape imminent dangers. Thus David
did _when he feigned himself mad_, supposing, without ground, that he
should have been slain by Achish, king of 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, _I shall one day perish by the hand of
Saul_, 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. and the Israelites, when they said, _Can God
furnish a table in the wilderness?_ Psal. lxxviii. 19. though he had
provided for them in an extraordinary way ever since they had been
there: yea, Moses himself 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, who 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 meditates nothing but ruin and destruction
from the Amorites, forgetting God’s former deliverances, and distrusting
his faithfulness, 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, _Hath God forgotten to be gracious?
Doth his truth fail for ever?_ This we are apt to do, when there are
great difficulties in the way of the accomplishment 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 all-sufficiency, when he says, _Is any thing too
hard for 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 Midianites, yet he says, _O Lord
wherewith shall I save them? for my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am
the least in my father’s house_, Judg. vi. 15. God tells him again, _I
will be with thee, and smite the Midianites_, ver. 16. yet, afterwards,
he desires that he would give him a sign in the wet and dry fleece. What
is this but questioning 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 rebellious house of Israel,
he desires to be excused, and says, _Behold I cannot speak, 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 encouragement 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 cases. Thus, when David was in the
greatest straits that ever he met with, upon the Amalekites’ spoiling of
Ziklag, and carrying away the women captives, the people talked of
stoning him, and all things seemed to make against him; yet it is said,
that _he encouraged himself in the Lord his God_, 1 Sam. xxx. 6. so
Mordecai was confident that the _enlargement and deliverance of the Jews
should come some other way_, if not by Esther’s intercession for them,
when she was afraid to go in to the king, Esth. iv. 14. and this
confidence he could never have obtained, considering the present posture
of their affairs, without a due regard to God’s all-sufficiency.
Moreover, it was this divine perfection that encouraged Abraham to obey
the difficult command 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 sufficient for them_, 2 Cor. xii. 8,

V. God is eternal: this respects his duration, to wit, as he was without
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 says, _Before the mountains were brought
forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world; even from
everlasting to everlasting thou art God_, Psal. xc. 2.

1. That God is from everlasting, appears,

(1.) From his being a necessary, self-existent being, or, as was before
observed, in and of himself, therefore he must be from everlasting; for
whatever is not produced is from eternity. Now that God did not derive
his being from any one, is evident, because he gave being to all things,
which is implied in their being creatures; therefore nothing gave being
to him, and consequently he was from eternity.

(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 all
created beings, that they began to exist, and therefore they are said,
in a comparative sense, to be but of yesterday; we must therefore, when
we conceive of God, separate this imperfection from him, and so conclude
that he was from all eternity.

(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 earth_, Gen. i. 1. this is very
evident, for time is a successive duration, taking its rise from a
certain point, or moment, which we call the beginning: 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
contradiction. Therefore, if God fixed that beginning to all things, as
their Creator, and particularly to time, which is the measure of the
duration of all created beings, then 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 everlasting arms_, Deut.
xxxiii. 27. and when we read of his _eternal power and Godhead_, Rom. i.
20. and elsewhere, _Art not thou from everlasting O Lord, my God?_ Hab.
i. 12. _Thy throne is established of old; thou art from everlasting_,
Psal. xciii. 2. so his attributes and perfections are said to have been
from everlasting, _The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to
everlasting_, Psal. ciii. 17.

And this may be argued from many scripture-consequences: thus, there was
an election of persons to holiness and happiness, _before the foundation
of the world_, 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 everlasting, from the beginning, 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

Moreover, there were grants of grace given in Christ, or put into his
hand, from all eternity: thus we read of _eternal life, which God
promised before the world began_, Tit. i. 2. and of our being _saved,
according to his purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus, before the
world 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_, Psal. ix. 7. and that he _liveth for ever and ever_, Rev. iv.
9, 10. and that his _years shall have no end_, Psal. cii. 27. and _the
Lord shall reign for ever_, Psal. cxlvi. 10. therefore he must endure
for ever. Again, it is said, that _the Lord keepeth covenant and mercy
with them that love him_, to a thousand generations, Deut. vii. 9. and
_he will ever be mindful of his covenant_, Psal. cxi. 5. that is, will
fulfil what he has promised therein: if his truth shall not fail for
ever, then he, who will accomplish what he has spoken, must endure to

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 contrariety 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 in 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; especially 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 own
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 necessity 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 his other perfections,
since one of the divine perfections infers the other. As,

1. From his immutability; he is unchangeable in his being, therefore he
is so in all his perfections, and consequently 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 inconsistent with the divine immutability.

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

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 necessary
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 duration of creatures,
which is successive, is not the same one moment as it will be the next;
every moment adds something to it; now this cannot be said of God’s
duration. Besides, successive duration implies a being, what we were
not, in all respects 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
inconsistent 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 duration of all
creatures is measured, and therefore cannot be termed 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 unmeasured, that is, infinite, therefore it is
without succession, or without those parts of which time consists.[49]

4. Eternity is an attribute peculiar to God, and therefore we call it an
incommunicable perfection. There are, indeed, other things that shall
endure to everlasting, as angels, and the souls of men; as also those
heavenly bodies that shall remain after the creature 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 their happy
inhabitants, shall be everlasting; 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 existence depends entirely on the power and will of God, and
therefore 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 inconsistent with the
account that has been given of his eternity.

_Answ._ It is true, we often find such expressions used in scripture:
thus he is called, the ancient of days, Dan. vii. 9. and his eternity is
expressed, by _his years having no end_, Psal. cii. 27. and it is said,
_He was, is, and 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 we 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 duration, yet they are such as are unsearchable, or
incomprehensible years, infinitely different from years, as applied to
created beings; and it is said, _A thousand years in thy sight, are but
as yesterday, when it is past_, Psal. xc. 4. _One day is with the Lord
as a thousand 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 therefore 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 works, which are finite, and
measured by successive duration; or else it signifies, that he, whose
duration is not measured by succession, notwithstanding, 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, but without that succession, which is
peculiar to time and creatures.

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; he knows what we have done against him
ever since we had a being in this world, as much as though we were at
present committing them.

2. If God was from eternity, then how contemptible is all created glory,
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 matter of
terror to his enemies, and comfort to his 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 see 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 wrath the earth shall tremble, and
the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation_, Jer. x. 10.
Therefore the eternity of God argues the eternity 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 appears, if we consider,

_2dly_, 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 knoweth the power
of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath_, 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 relations, 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 happiness of his people, Psal. lxxiii.
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.

VI. God is immutable: thus it is said, that _with him is no
variableness, neither shadow of turning_, James i. 17. This is sometimes
set forth in a metaphorical way, in which respect he is compared to _a
rock_, Deut. xxxii. 4. which remains immoveable, 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 perfections.

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 spoken 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 conferred upon them; and when we speak
of God’s immutability, we suppose him infinitely blessed, which is
included in the notion 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 immortality_, 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 perfection 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 church_, that is, by the
dealings of God with his church, _the manifold wisdom of God_, Eph. iii.
10. and to _desire to look into_ the account the gospel gives of the
_sufferings of Christ, 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 great day; so that the
happiness of the best creatures is communicated in various degrees; but
God’s perfections and blessedness can have no additions 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

(1.) That he is immutable in his being; this belongs to him as God, and,
consequently to him alone. All other beings once 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 applicable to all
finite things; for it is said, _As a vesture thou shalt change them, and
they shall be changed_: but God being opposed to them as independent, is
said to be _the same_, Psal. cii. 26, 27.

_1st_, He did not change from a state of non-existence to being,
inasmuch as he was from everlasting, and therefore necessarily 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 divine
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 greater; for that is to suppose him not
to be infinitely perfect before this change, or that there are degrees
of infinite perfection. Nor,

_3dly_, Can he pass from that state, in which he is, to another of equal
perfection; for, as such a change implies an equal proportion of loss
and gain, so it would argue a plurality of infinite beings; or since he,
who was God before this change, was distinct from what he arrives to
after it, this would be contrary 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 himself, or some other: it
cannot be from himself, inasmuch as he exists necessarily, and not as
the result of his own will: therefore 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.

_1st_, 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 concerning things past, it must be
said, that we shall know them hereafter; whereas God, with one view,
comprehends all things, past and future, as though they were present.

_2dly_, 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
certain, that both these are inconsistent with the infinite perfection
of the divine mind; nor can any such defect be applied to him, who is
called, _The only wise God_, 1 Tim. i. 17.

_3dly_, 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 understanding or knowledge is so; which
leads us to prove,

_Secondly_, That God is unchangeable in his will: thus it is said of
him, _He is of one mind, and who can turn him?_ Job xxiii. 13. This is
agreeable to his infinite perfection, and therefore he does not purpose
to do a thing at one time, and determine 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
ordinances of the ceremonial law were prescribed, from Moses’s time to
Christ; but after that were abolished, and ceased to be ordinances; so
that there may be a change in the things willed, or in external
revelation of God’s will, and in our duty founded thereon, when there
is, at the same time, no change in his purpose; for he determines all
changes in the external dispensation of his providence and grace,
without the least shadow of change in his own will: this may farther
appear, if we consider,

_1st_, That if the will of God were not unchangeable, he could not be
the object of trust; for how could we depend on his promises, were it
possible for him to change his purpose? Neither would 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.

_2dly_, 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 contrary to scripture, which asserts, that
_the gifts and calling of God are without repentance_, Rom. xi. 29.

_3dly_, None of those things that occasion a change in the purposes of
men, can be applied to God; and therefore there is nothing in him, that
in the least degree can lead him to change his will, or determination,
with respect to the event of things. For,

_1st_, Men change their purpose, from a natural fickleness and
inconstancy, as there is mutability in their 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 fulfilling their
promise, or, as we say, in being worse than their word, oftentimes from
the viciousness and depravity of their nature; but God is infinitely
holy, and therefore, in this respect, cannot change.

_3dly_, 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 many threatenings from being executed in
others; but God’s will cannot be frustrated for want of power, to do
what he designed, inasmuch as he is Almighty.

_4thly_, Men change their minds many times, for want of foresight;
something unexpected occurs that renders it expedient for them to alter
their purpose, which argues a defect of wisdom: but God is infinitely
wise; therefore nothing unforeseen can intervene to induce him to change
his purpose.

_5thly_, 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 perfections cannot
be fully known by any creature; thus it is said, _Canst thou by
searching, find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto
perfection?_ Job xi. 7.

When we consider God as incomprehensible, we do not only mean that man
in this imperfect state, cannot fully comprehend his glory; for it is
but very little, comparatively, that we can comprehend of finite things,
and we know much less of that which is infinite; but when we say that
God is incomprehensible, 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 infinite;
and there is no proportion between an infinite God, and a finite mind:
the water of the ocean might as well be contained in the hollow of the
hand, or the dust of the earth weighed in a balance, as that the best of
creatures should have a perfect and adequate idea of the divine
perfections. In this case, we generally distinguish between
apprehending, and comprehending; the former denotes our having some
imperfect, or inadequate 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 something of the
divine perfections, in proportion to the limits of our capacities, and
our present state; but we cannot, nor ever shall, be able to comprehend
the divine glory, since God is incomprehensible to every one but
himself. Again, we farther distinguish 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 believe that God exists throughout all the changes of time, and
yet that his duration is not measured thereby, or that he fills all
places without being co-extended with matter; we apprehend, as having an
undeniable demonstration thereof, that he does so, though we cannot
comprehend how he does it.

VIII. God is omnipresent: this is elegantly set forth by the Psalmist,
_Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy
presence? If I ascend into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in
hell, behold, thou art there; if I take the wings of the morning, 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 Gehazi, _Went
not my heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to
meet thee?_ 2 Kings v. 6. Or, as the apostle says to the church at
Corinth, that though he was _absent in body_, yet he was _present_ with
them _in spirit_, 1 Cor. v. 3. or, as we say, that our souls are with
our friends in distant places, as often as we think of them: nor doth it
consist in God’s being omnipresent by his authority, as a king is said,
by a figurative way of speaking, to be present in all parts of his
dominions, where persons are deputed to act under him, or by his
authority: but we must take it in a proper sense, as he fills all places
with his presence, Jer. xxiii. 24. 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 by no means
applicable to the divine omnipresence. This is a doctrine which it is
impossible for us to comprehend, yet we are bound to believe it, because
the contrary hereunto is inconsistent with infinite perfection; and it
is sometimes called his essential presence,[50] to distinguish it from
his influential presence, whereby he is said to be where he acts in the
method of his providence, which is either common or special; by the
former of these he upholds and governs all things; by the latter he
exerts his power in a way of grace, which is called his special presence
with his people: and as his omnipresence, or immensity, is necessary,
and not the result of his will, so 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 people; sometimes 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 consider the next divine
perfection mentioned in this answer.

IX. God is almighty, Rev. i. 18. ch. iv. 8. this will evidently appear,
in that if he be infinite in all 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 infinite sovereign, he wills whatever shall
come to pass: now this knowledge would be insignificant, and his will
inefficacious, were he not infinite in power, or almighty. Again, this
might be argued from his justice, either in rewarding 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
excite that trust and dependence, which is a part of religious worship;
nor could he say, without limitation, as he does, _I have spoken it_, _I
will also bring it to pass_; _I have purposed it_, _I will also do it_,
Isa. xlvi. 11.

But since power is visible in, and demonstrated by its effects, and
infinite power, by those effects which 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 things 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 species of creatures with those endowments, in which they excel
one another, and set forth their Creator’s glory. And the glory of his
power is no less visible in the works of providence, whereby he upholds
all things, disposes of them according to his pleasure, and brings about
events, which only he who has an almighty arm can effect. These things
might have been enlarged on, as evident proofs of this divine
perfection; but since the works of creation and providence will be
particularly considered in their proper place,[51] we shall proceed to
consider the power of God, as appearing in his works of grace;

1. In some things subservient to our redemption, 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 strengthened him, so that the enemy should not
exact upon him, nor the son of wickedness afflict him_, Psal. lxxxix,
21, 22. It was the power of God that bore him up under all the terrible
views he had of sufferings and death, which had many ingredients in it,
that rendered it, beyond expression, formidable, and would have sunk a
mere creature, unassisted thereby, into destruction. 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 were all amazed at the mighty power of God_, chap. ix.
42, 43. and it was hereby that _he was 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 event_, Rom. i. 4. Moreover, the power of God will be
glorified, in the highest degree, in his second coming, when, as he
says, he will appear in _the clouds of heaven, with power 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 throughout the greatest part of
the known world, by a small number of men, raised up and spirited to
that end; and, in order thereunto, acted above themselves, and furnished
with extraordinary qualifications, such as the gift of tongues, and a
power to work miracles, is a convincing proof, that the power by which
all this was done, is infinite. It was hereby that they were not only
inspired with wisdom, by which they silenced and confounded their
malicious enemies, but persuaded others to believe what they were sent
to impart to them. It was hereby that they were inflamed with zeal, in
proportion to the greatness of the occasion, fortified with courage to
despise the threats, and patiently to bear the persecuting rage of those
who pursued them unto bonds and death. It was hereby that they were
enabled to finish their course with joy, and seal the doctrines they
delivered with their blood. And the power of God was herein the more
remarkable, inasmuch as they were not men of the greatest natural
sagacity, or resolution; and they 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 multitude that was converted to
Christianity in one age, is an eminent 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 necessity
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 rhetorick
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 gospel, in all the
instances of converting grace, is an evident 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.[52]

_Object._ It will be objected, that there are some things which God
cannot do, and therefore he is not almighty.

_Answ._ 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 cannot 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 reason 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
distinguished from that of the creature; for we never say that a person
cannot do a thing, merely because he will not, but because he wants
power, if he would:[53] 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 could do many things, which by the
latter he will not; and consequently, to say he cannot do those things,
which he has determined not to do, does not in the least overthrow this
attribute of almighty 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 the
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
object of religious worship; or, by his power, advance him to such a
dignity, as shall warrant any one’s ascribing divine perfections to him.

3. He cannot deny himself, _It is impossible for God to lie_, Heb. vi.
18. and it is equally impossible for him to act contrary to any of his
perfections; for which reason he cannot do anything 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 objects 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 affords great support and relief to
believers, when they are assaulted, and afraid of being overcome, by
their spiritual enemies: thus when they wrestle, as the apostle says,
not only _against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against
powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against
spiritual wickedness in high places_, Eph. vi. 12. and when they
consider what numbers have been overcome and ruined by them, and are
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 the 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 than second causes, or the little
appearance there is, at present, 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 all 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

Moreover, 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 bones live?_ Ezek. xxxvii. 3. or if the question be put, can
the despised, declining, sinking, and dying interest of Christ be
revived? or how can those prophecies, that relate to the church’s future
happiness and glory, ever have their accomplishment in this world, when
all things seem to make against it? this difficulty will be removed, and
our hope encouraged, when we consider the power of God, to which nothing
is difficult, 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 resurrection 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, _Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God_,
Matth. xxii. 19.

(3.) Let us have a due regard to this attribute, and take encouragement
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 much reason to
complain of an unbecoming frame of spirit therein, of the hardness and
impenitency of our hearts, the obstinacy and perverseness 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 desired success; let us encourage ourselves with this
consideration, that God can make us _willing in the day of his power_,
Psal. cx. 3. and _do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or
think_, Eph. iii. 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 can work without means, but he has not
given us ground to expect 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 perfection, 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?
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 shouldst be afraid of a man, that shall die, and
forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens,
and laid the foundation of the earth_? 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; 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 own workmanship, the
effects of his power; and this is yet more evident, if we consider the
creation of all things, as a work of infinite wisdom, which 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 he 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 creatures, 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 justice, or else he cannot exercise it in the government of the

3. If God knows himself, he must know all other things, for he that
knows the greatest object, must know things of a lesser nature; besides,
if he knows himself, he knows what he can do, will 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 himself, though this knowledge in him be but imperfect,
surely God must know himself; and because his knowledge cannot have any
defect, which would be inconsistent with infinite perfection, therefore
he must have a perfect, that is to say, an infinite knowledge of
himself, and consequently of all other things.

This knowledge of God, which has the creature for its object, is
distinguished, in scripture, into his comprehending, seeing, or having a
perfect intuition of all things, and his approving of things, or it is
either intuitive or approbative; the former of these is what we
principally understand by this attribute; as when it is said, _Known
unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the world_, Acts xv.
18. and, _thou knowest my down-sitting and up-rising, and art acquainted
with all my ways; for there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord,
thou knowest it altogether_, Psal. cxxxix. 2, 3, 4. and, _the Lord
searcheth 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 will than in the
understanding; of this we read in several scriptures; as when God tells
Moses, _I know thee by name_, Exod. xxxiii. 12. which is explained by
the following words, _And thou hast found grace in my sight_; so when
our Saviour says, concerning his enemies, _I will profess unto you I
never knew you_, Matth. vii. 23. it is not meant of a knowledge of
intuition, but approbation. In the former sense, he knows all 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 will.

Moreover, God is said to know what he can do, and what he has done, or
will do.

(1.) God knows what he can do, even many things that he will not do; for
as his power is unlimited, so that he can do infinitely 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, we know in many instances, what we can do, though we will
never do them: much more must this be said of the great God, who
_calleth things that be not as though they were_, Rom. iv. 17. so David
enquires of God, _Will Saul come down? and will the men of Keilah
deliver me up into has hand?_ And God answers him, _He will come down,
and the men of Keilah will deliver thee up_, 1 Sam. xxiii. 12. which
implies, that God knew what they would have done, had not his providence
prevented it. In this respect, things known by him are said to be
possible, by reason of his power, whereas the future existence thereof
depends on his will.

(2.) God knows whatever he has done, does, or will do, _viz._ things
past, present, or to come. That he knows all things present, 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
know them, is to charge him with forgetfulness, or to suppose that his
knowledge at present is less perfect than it was, which is inconsistent
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 which acts respect only things that are
past; therefore such things are perfectly known by him. Thus, when Job
considered his present afflictions, as the punishment of past sins, he
says, Job xiv. 17. _My transgression is sealed up in a bag; thou sewest
up mine iniquity_; which metaphorical way of speaking, implies his
remembering it: so when God threatens to punish his adversaries for
their iniquity, he speaks of it, as remembered by him, _laid up in
store_ with him, and _sealed up among his treasures_, Deut. xxxii. 34,
35. So, on the other hand, when he designed to reward, or encourage, the
religious duties, performed by his people, who feared his name, it is
said, _a book of remembrance was written before him, for them_, Mal.
iii. 16.

But that which we shall principally consider, is, God’s knowing all
things future, _viz._ not only such as are the effects of necessary
causes, where the effect is known in or by the cause, but such as are
contingent, with respect to us; which is the most difficult of all
knowledge whatsoever, and argues it to be truly divine.

By future contingences, we understand things that are accidental, or, as
we commonly say, 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 foreknow them, is very obvious; but even
these are foreknown by God[54] For,

1. Things that happen without 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 beginning: thus _the fall of a
sparrow to the ground_ is a casual thing, yet our Saviour says, that
this is not without his providence, 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 foreknowledge thereof, it
does not follow that he has not; since,

3. He has foretold many such future events, as appears by the following

(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 accomplished accordingly.

(2.) That Israel should be afflicted and oppressed in Egypt, and
afterwards should be delivered, was foretold four hundred years before
it came to pass, Gen. xv. 13, 14. And when Moses was sent to deliver
them out of the Egyptian bondage, God tells him, before-hand, how
obstinate Pharaoh 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 before, by his prophetic
dream, Gen. xxxvii. 5, &c. and afterwards, that which tended more
immediately to it, was his foretelling what happened to the chief butler
and baker, and the seven years of plenty and famine in Egypt, signified
by Pharaoh’s dream; all which were contingent events, and were foretold
by divine inspiration, and therefore 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, whereby 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 only respecting things in general, as ours often is: thus
it is said concerning him, that _he bringeth out his host by number, and
calleth them all by names_, Isa. xl. 26. which denotes his exquisite
knowledge of all things, as well as propriety in, and using them at his
pleasure. And since all creatures _live and move_, or act, _in him_,
Acts xvii. 28. or by his powerful influence, it follows from hence, that
his knowledge is as distinct and particular, as the actions themselves,
yea, the most indifferent actions, that are hardly taken notice of by
ourselves, such as our _down-sitting and up-rising_, 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 respect to us. That God knows
all things thus distinctly, is evident not only from their dependence
upon him; but it is said, that when he had brought his whole work of
creation to perfection, _He saw every thing that he had made, and behold
it was very good_, that is, agreeable to his eternal design, or, if we
may so express it, to the idea, or plat-form, laid in his own mind; and
this he pronounced concerning 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 knowledge than
this? Therefore the apostle might well say, that _there is not any
creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked,
and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we 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 together, and observing their
connexion, dependence, and various powers and manner of acting, and
thereby discerning what will follow; for such a knowledge as this is
acquired, and presupposes a degree of ignorance: conclusions can hardly
be said to be known, till the premises, from whence they are deduced, be
duly 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, abstracting, or deducing
conclusions from premises, which to do is unbecoming 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
infinite_, 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.

_First_, Let us take heed that we do not practically deny this

1. By acting as though we thought that we could hide ourselves from the
all-seeing eye of God; let us not say, to use the words of Eliphaz, _How
doth God know? Can he judge through the dark cloud? Thick clouds are a
covering to him, 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 death, where the workers of iniquity may
hide themselves_, chap. xxxiv. 22. Hypocrisy is, as it were, an attempt
to hide ourselves from God, an acting as though we thought that we could
deceive or impose on him, which is called, in scripture, _a lying to
him_, Psal. lxxviii. 36. or, _a compassing him about with 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

2. By being more afraid of man than God, and venturing to commit the
vilest abominations, without considering his all-seeing eye, which we
would be afraid 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 says, concerning an
apostatizing people of old, speaking to the prophet Ezekiel, _Son of
man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the
dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The Lord
seeth us not, the Lord hath forsaken 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 ways of man, and he seeth all his goings_,
Job xxxiv. 21. There are many 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 infinitely
short of God’s omniscience; _for if our heart condemn us, God is greater
than our heart, and knoweth 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. l.

_Thirdly_, The due consideration of this divine perfection, will, on the
other hand, tend very much to the comfort of believers: he seeth their
secret wants, the breathings of their souls after him, and as our
Saviour saith, _Their Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward them
openly_, Matt. vi. 4. With what pleasure 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 consider that God knows them, and therefore is able to give them
repentance for them; so that they may pray with David; _Search me, O
God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there
be any wicked way 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 troubles, and the deep laid designs of its
enemies against it, to consider 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 behave 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 may approve themselves to

XI. God is most wise, or infinite in wisdom; or, as the apostle
expresses it, he is _the only wise 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 contains 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; and this is opposed, not so much to
ignorance, or error of judgment, as to folly, or error in conduct, which
is a defect of wisdom; 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 season to act,
and every circumstance attending it, that is most expedient and
conducive thereunto; also in foreseeing and guarding against every
occurrence that may frustrate our design, 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 measures. Now, that we may from hence take an
estimate of the wisdom of God, it appears,

1. In the reference, or tendency of all things to his own glory, which
is the highest and most excellent end that can be proposed; 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, naturally and
necessarily the object of adoration.

(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 glory, and
adore his perfections, that are thus demonstrated and displayed.

(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 ordered, 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 reasoning, infer his divine perfections from things that are
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 acknowledge them. There is something which
_may be known of God, that is said to be manifest in, and shewn to_ all;
so that _the Gentiles who have not the law_, that is, the written word
of God, _do, by nature the things_, that is, some things, _contained
therein_, and so are _a law unto themselves_, and _shew the work of the
law 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.[55]

2. The wisdom of God appears, in that whatever he does, is in the
fittest season, and all the circumstances thereof tend to set forth his
own honour, and argue his foresight to be infinitely 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 time_, Eccl. iii. 1, 11.

For the farther 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 subserviency of one thing to another, and the
tendency thereof to promote the moral government of God in the world,
and the good of man, for whose sake this lower world was formed, that so
it might be a convenient habitation for him, and a glorious object, in
which he might contemplate, and thereby be led to advance the divine
perfections, which shine forth therein, as in a glass; so that we have
the highest reason to say, _Lord, how manifold are thy works; in wisdom
hast thou made them all_, Psal. civ. 24. _He hath 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. 12. But since this argument
hath been insisted on, with great ingenuity, and strength of reason by
others,[56] we shall add no more on that subject, but proceed to

(2.) The wisdom of God, as appearing in the works of providence, 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 following instances. As,

_1st_, Jacob’s flying from his father’s house, was wisely ordered, as a
means not only for his escaping the fury of his brother, and the trial
of his faith, and to humble him for the sinful method he took to obtain
the blessing; but also for the building up his family, and encreasing
his substance in the world, under a very unjust father-in-law and
master, such as Laban was.

_2dly_, 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.

_3dly_, The wisdom of God was seen in the manner of Israel’s 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.

_4thly_, In leading Israel forty years in the wilderness, before he
brought them into the promised land, that he might give them statutes
and ordinances, and that they might experience various instances of his
presence among them, by judgments and mercies, and so be prepared for
all the privileges he designed for them, as his peculiar people, in the
land of Canaan.

_5thly_, We have a very wonderful instance of the wisdom of providence
in the book of Esther; when Haman, the enemy of the Jews, had obtained a
decree for their destruction, and Mordecai was first to be sacrificed to
his pride and revenge, providence turned whatever he intended against
him, upon himself. There was something very remarkable in all the
circumstances that led to it, by which the church’s deliverance and
advancement was brought about; when, to an eye of reason, it seemed
almost impossible,

(3.) The wisdom of God appears yet more eminently, in the work of our
redemption; this is that which _the angels desire to look into_, and
cannot behold without the greatest admiration; for herein 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 suffering sin to enter into the world, which he could have
prevented, and probably would have 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 this matter was determined in the eternal covenant, between
the Father and the Son, and the necessity of man seemed to require that
Christ should be immediately incarnate, as soon as man fell, yet it was
deferred till many ages after; and herein the wisdom of God eminently
appeared. For,

_1st_, God hereby tried the faith and patience of his church, and put
them upon waiting for, and depending on him, who was to come; so that
though they had not received this promised blessing, yet they _saw it
afar off_; _were persuaded 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 certainly, as though it had been actually accomplished.

_2dly_, Our Saviour, in the mean time took occasion to display 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 for that
purpose, as a prelibation thereof; so that they had the greatest reason,
from hence, to expect his coming in our nature.

_3rdly_, 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 among them, and the darkness they were under, exceeding
great; which made it very necessary that the Messiah should come: when
iniquity almost universally prevailed among them, then _the deliverer
must come out of Sion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob_, 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
wings_, Mal. iv. 2. compared with Matt. iv. 16.

(4.) The wisdom 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,

_1st_, God at first, as has been before observed,[57] left his church
without a written word, till Moses’s time, that he might take occasion
to converse with them more immediately, as an instance 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 shadows, 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 perfect manhood: he
first gave them grounds to expect the blessings which he would bestow in
after-ages, by the manifold predictions thereof; and afterwards
glorified his faithfulness in their accomplishment.

_3dly_, He sometimes governed them in a more immediate way, and
confirmed their faith, as was then necessary, by miracles; and also
raised up prophets, as occasion served, whom he furnished, in an
extraordinary way, for the service to which he called them, to lead his
church into the knowledge of those truths, on which their faith was

And, to this we may add, that he gave them various other helps for their
faith, by those common and ordinary means of 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
furnishing his church with a gospel-ministry, and how the management
thereof is adapted to the necessities of his people; in employing 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 following part of this work.[58]

(5.) The wisdom of God appears in the method he takes to preserve,
propagate, and build up his church in the world. Therefore,

_1st_, As his kingdom is not of this world, but of a spiritual, nature,
so he hath ordered that it shall not be promoted by those methods of
violence, or carnal policy, by which the secular interests of men are
oft-times advanced. He has no where appointed 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 prospect 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, _not by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit_, Zech.
iv. 6.

_2dly_, 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 disappointment should
attend every weapon that is formed against Sion, as being without
success; and that the church should appear 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 flourishing 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 divine
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 enjoyment of the good things of this life, when they are
destitute of his special presence with them.

_3dly_, 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 providence, without having
his thoughts suitably affected with the harmonious subserviency of
things, and the design of all to set forth the glory of him, who is a
God of infinite wisdom.

2. If 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 together, and one will illustrate and add a
beauty to another, as our Saviour says to Peter, _What I do thou knowest
not now, but thou shalt know hereafter_, John xiii. 7. therefore let us
compare 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 mankind 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 fingers_, Psal. viii. 3, 4. that is, creatures, in which his
wisdom is displayed in a very eminent degree. But, besides this, we 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 are 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 because 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 wisdom, 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 essential 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 divine perfection, and as he is infinitely
and independently so, _O 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 him_, 1 Sam. ii. 2. In considering this divine
perfection, we shall enquire,

1. What we are to understand by it. Holiness is that whereby he is
infinitely opposite to every thing that tends to reflect dishonour, or
reproach, on his divine perfections; and especially as he is infinitely
opposite in his nature, will, and works, to all moral impurity; as his
power is opposed to all natural weakness, his wisdom to the least defect
of understanding or folly, so his holiness is opposed to all moral
blemishes, or imperfections, 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 prays 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, if 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 inglorious, because impure.

2. We proceed to consider the holiness of God, as glorified or
demonstrated in various instances.

(1.) In his works. This perfection was as eminently displayed 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 natural necessity laid on them to sin,
which might infer God to be the author of it: and furthermore, as a
moral expedient to prevent 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 violation
thereof; as it would render them unholy, deprive them of his image, and
consequently separate them from him, and render them the objects of his
abhorrence; and, to this we may add, that his end in making all other
things was, that his intelligent creatures might actively glorify him,
and be induced to holiness.

(2.) This divine perfection appears likewise in the government of the
world, and of the church, in all the dispensations of his providence,
either in a way of judgment, or of mercy; therefore he shews his
displeasure against nothing but sin, which is the only thing that
renders creatures the objects of punishment, and all the blessings he
bestows are a motive to 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 are holy, and to be
engaged in with such a frame of spirit, as is agreeable thereunto: thus
he says, _I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me_, Lev. x. 3.
and _holiness becometh his house for ever_, Psal. xciii. 5. In like
manner, we are to take an estimate of the success thereof, when, through
the divine blessing accompanying them, they tend to promote internal
holiness in those who are engaged therein, whereby they are
distinguished from the rest of the world, and _sanctified 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.

_Answ._ It must be allowed, that God might have prevented the first
entrance of sin into the world, by his immediate interposure, and so
have kept man upright, as well as made him so; yet let it be considered,
that he was 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 designed 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 under some following answers.[59]

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 we must take heed that we do
not advance any doctrines from whence this consequence 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 advance the glory of this perfection, as of any other:
notwithstanding it is one thing for persons to militate against what
appears to be a truth, by alleging this popular objection, that it is
contrary to the holiness of God, and another thing to support the
charge; this will be particularly considered, when such-like objections,
brought against the doctrine of predestination, and several other
doctrines, are answered in their proper place.

2. It is an excellency, beauty, and glory, in the Christian religion,
which should make us more in love with it, that it leads to holiness,
which was the image of God in man. All other religions have indulged,
led to, or dispensed with many impurities, as may be observed in those
of the Mahometans and Pagans; and the different religions, professed by
them who are called Christians, are to be judged more or less valuable,
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 satisfaction is to be
made for them, by undergoing some penances enjoined them by the priest;
upon which condition, he gives them absolution, and so discharges them
from any farther concern about them; which is certainly subversive of
holiness, as well as contrary to scripture, which says, _The wages of
sin is death_, Rom. vi. 23. the word of God knows no distinction between
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, whereby 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, whose natural temper 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, arising
from their condition in the world, are greater than what others are
liable to. But none of these things will exempt 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 whence they
proceed; and therefore that concupiscence, or the corruption of nature,
which is the impure fountain, from whence 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 unavoidable, 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 words of the apostle) _it has
conceived, brings forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth
forth death_, James i. 15. whereas the spring of defiled actions is, in
reality, more corrupt and abominable than the actions themselves, how
much soever actual 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 punished 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 for 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 setting forth 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, were of the image of Diana, at
Ephesus, the destruction whereof would endanger their craft, Acts xix.
25, 27. so, if this doctrine 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 neglected to do
whilst they were alive, who, from this presumptuous supposition, did not
see an absolute necessity of holiness to salvation. 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 reformation, but oblige, us to maintain the contrary

If it be objected, by way of reprisal, that there are many doctrines,
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 divine
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. The purity of the divine nature is proposed in
scripture, not only as a motive, but, so far as conformity to it is
possible, as an exemplar of holiness: and therefore we are exhorted to
be holy, not only _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
they who live without God in the world, being _alienated from his life_,
_viz._ _his holiness, and giving themselves over unto lasciviousness, to
work all uncleanness with greediness_, regard not the holiness of his
nature or law. These sin presumptuously, and accordingly, are said 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, they regard not the consequence of being the objects
of his displeasure, and fiery indignation.

(2.) Men reflect on the holiness of God when they complain of 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 faithful reprover: thus Ahab hated Micaiah, _because he
did not prophesy good concerning him, but evil_; and the people did not
like to hear of the holiness of God; therefore they desire that the
prophets would _cause the Holy One of Israel to cease before them_, Isa.
xxx. 11. and to this we may 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 blameless, 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 disparagement 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 who 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 sometimes they are thus distinguished; as holiness is
the contrariety, or opposition of his nature 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; accordingly it is said concerning him, _Shall not
the Judge of all the earth do right?_ Gen. xviii. 25. and he is said,
_without respect of persons, to judge according to every man’s work_, 1
Pet. i. 17. Now the justice of God is sometimes taken for his
faithfulness, which is a doing justice to his word; but this will be
more particularly considered, when we speak of him as abundant in truth.
But, according to the most common and known sense of the word, it is
taken either for his disposing, or his distributive 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 heavenly 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 with 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
conceive, that they import the necessary and inseparable connexion that
there is between grace wrought in us, and glory conferred 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 ourselves 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 _we have done all, we must say, we are
unprofitable 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 conclude 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 an
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. 9. and it is also called, his _setting his face
against_ a person, and _cutting him off from amongst his people_, Lev.
xvii. 10. and when he does this, his wrath is compared to flames of
fire; it is called, _The fire of his jealousy_, Zeph. i. 18. and they,
who are the objects hereof, are said to _fall into the hands of the
living God_, who is a _consuming fire_, Heb. x. 31. compared with chap.
xii. 29.

But that we may farther consider how God glorifies this perfection, and
thereby shews his infinite hatred of sin, we may observe,

(1.) An eminent instance thereof in his inflicting that punishment 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, who 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 fellow_, 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 will be
considered under some following answers.[60]

(2.) The vindictive justice of God punishes sin in the persons 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, _everlasting
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.[61]

In these two instances, punishment is taken in a strict and proper
sense: but there is, indeed, another sense, in which many evils are
inflicted for sins committed, which, though frequently called
punishments, yet the word is taken in a less proper 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, _Thou, our God, hast punished us less than our
iniquities deserve_, Ezra ix. 13. and _if his children forsake my law,
and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgression with
the rod, and their iniquity with stripes; nevertheless, my loving
kindness will I not utterly take from him_, Psal. lxxxix. 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 indignation of
the Lord, because they had sinned against him_, Micah vii. 9. And, as
these evils are exceedingly afflictive, being oftentimes attended with a
sad apprehension and fear of the wrath of God; so they are called
punishments, because sin is the cause of them: yet they differ from
punishment in its most proper sense, as but now mentioned, 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 believers to apprehend or conclude that such a demand is made;
this they may often do, as questioning whether they are believers, or in
a justified state: however, God’s design, in these afflictive
dispensations, is to humble them greatly, and shew them the demerit of
sin, whatever he determines shall be the consequence thereof.

Moreover, the persons, who are the subjects of this punishment, are
considered not as enemies, but as children, and therefore the objects of
his love, at the same time that his hand is heavy upon them; for which
reason some have called them castigatory punishments, agreeably to what
the apostle saith, _Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth_; and that herein
_he dealeth with them as with sons_, 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 denote its
connexion with grace and duty, let no one presumptuously 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
_without holiness no man shall see the Lord_, chap. xii. 14.

And, on the other hand, as this is a reward of grace, founded on
Christ’s purchase, let us take heed that we do not ascribe 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 improved 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 with that blessed company who are
joined with them, are represented, speaking, _Worthy is the Lamb that
was slain, to receive power, riches, wisdom, and strength, and honour,
and glory, and blessing_, Rev. v. 12. It is the price that he paid 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 justice of God
inflicting punishments on his enemies, let us learn the evil and heinous
nature of sin, and so take warning thereby, that we may not expose
ourselves to the same or like judgments. 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 wrath of the Almighty, which 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,
afterwards 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 reconciled Father, who _corrects with judgment not in
anger, lest he should bring us to nothing_, Jer. x. 24. It will 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 distinguished from them, as
will be more particularly observed. This being one of his communicable
perfections, we may conceive of it, by comparing it with that goodness
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 holy man a good man; or
lastly, it is taken for one who is beneficent, or communicatively good,
and so it is the same with benignity. Now to apply this to the goodness
of God, it either includes in it all his perfections, or his holiness in
particular, or else his being disposed to impart or communicate those
blessings to his creatures, that they stand in need of, in which sense
we are here to understand it as distinguished from his other

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. _Thou art good_, and when he
adds, _thou doest good_; as the former implies his being good in
himself, the latter denotes his being so to his creatures.

Before we treat of this perfection in particular, we shall observe the
difference that there is between goodness, mercy, grace, 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 fallen, miserable, and undone
creature, that is an object of compassion. And grace is mercy displayed
freely, therefore its object is considered not only as miserable, but
unworthy; however, though the sinner’s misery, and worthiness of pity,
may be distinguished, these two ideas cannot be separated, inasmuch 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 sinner; 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 undeserved favours, a lengthening out of our
tranquillity; these attributes are to be considered 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 omnipotency
put forth; he was eternally good, before there was any communication 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 objects of his bounty and goodness, as well as the
effects of his power; and all the excellencies, or advantages, which one
creature hath above another, are as so many streams flowing from this
fountain, _He giveth to all, life and breath, and all things_, Acts
xvii. 25.[62]

2. The mercy of God, which considers its object as miserable, is
illustrated by all those distressing circumstances, that render sinners
the objects of compassion. Are all, by nature, bond-slaves to sin and
Satan? It is mercy that sets them free, _delivers them, who, through
fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage_, Heb. ii.
15. Are we all, 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 the loathing
of our persons, whom no eye pitied?_ it was mercy that _said to us,
live_, Ezek. xvi. 4, 5, 6. accordingly God is said _to have remembered
us in our low estate, for his mercy endureth for ever_, Psal. cxxxvi.

The mercy of God is either common or special; common mercy gives all the
outward conveniencies of this life, which are bestowed without
distinction; as _he causes his sun to rise on the evil and 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 Father 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 bestowed 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, and not unto
the world?_ John xiv. 22. And our Saviour himself glorifies God for the
display of his grace, in such a way, when he says, _I thank thee, O
Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things
from the wise 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, but the
seed of Abraham_, because he designed to save the one, and to reserve
the other, _in chains, under 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 flock_, and _the gate_, through which they
enter, _is strait_, and _the way narrow that leads to life, and few
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, bestowed 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 his day, when he says, _not many mighty, not many noble, are
called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound
the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things that
are mighty, and base things of the world, and things which are despised
hath God chosen, yea, things that are not, to bring to nought things
that are_, 1 Cor. i. 26, 27, 28.

(2.) In several things relating to the internal means, whereby he fits
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 he _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 in mind of their having been _fornicators,
idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind,
thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners; such_, says he,
_were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are
justified_. 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 sinners desire to be delivered from
misery, they are far from desiring 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 what accompanies or flows from conversion; if
therefore God bestows this privilege on persons so unworthy of it, and
so averse to it, it must certainly be an instance of sovereign and
discriminating grace.

(3.) This will farther appear, if we 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 abstract, _Ye were sometimes darkness_, Eph. v. 8. and
that _the god of this world, had blinded the minds of some, 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 impenitent, unrelenting,
and inclined to sin, without remorse, or self-reflection; nothing could
make an impression on them, as being _past feeling, and giving
themselves over to lasciviousness, to work 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 greater 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,
experiencing the blessed fruits and effects of this grace in their own

(4.) The discriminating grace of God farther appears, in that he bestows
these saving blessings on his people, at such seasons, 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 themselves in the greatness of their way, while seeking rest and
happiness in other things below himself, and have met with nothing but
disappointment therein; when they are brought to the utmost extremity,
then he appears in their behalf. And so with 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 ready
to sink under the weight that lies on their spirits, when, as the
Psalmist says, their _hearts are overwhelmed within them; then he leads
them to the rock that is higher than they_, Psal. lxi. 2. when they are
even _desolate and afflicted, and the troubles of their hearts are
enlarged, then he brings them out of their distresses_, Psal. xxv. 16,

Thus the grace of God eminently appears, in what he bestows 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 be a wonder to themselves, and will see more of the glory
of it than can be now expressed in words; as the Psalmist says, in a way
of admiration, _Oh, how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up
for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought 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 perfections, that
they tend to illustrate them the more. For since sin has rendered
afflictions needful, as an expedient, to humble us for it, and also to
prevent it for the future, so God designs our advantage thereby; and
however grievous they are, yet since they are so over-ruled by him, as
the apostle says, that they _yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness
unto them, who 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 outward
afflictions are often attended with inward supports, and spiritual
comforts; so that, as the apostle says concerning himself, _as the
sufferings of Christ abound in 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,
_I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in
persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then
am I strong_, 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 consequence should ensue.

_Answ._ The grace of God doth not lead to licentiousness, though it be
often abused, and presumptuous sinners take occasion from thence to go
on, as they apprehend, securely therein, because God is merciful and
gracious, and ready to forgive, which vile and disingenuous temper the
apostle observed in some that lived in his days, and expresses himself
with the greatest abhorrence thereof, _Shall we continue in sin, that
grace may abound? God forbid_, Rom. vi. 1, 2. But does it follow, that
because it is abused by some, as an occasion of licentiousness, 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 in it, which will warrant an ingenuous mind,
acting according to the rules of equity and justice, to take those
liberties; but this nothing can do, much less the grace of God. His
great clemency, indeed, may sometimes give occasion to those who hate
him, and have ingratitude and rebellion rooted in their nature, to take
up arms against him; and an act of grace may be abused, so as to make
the worst of criminals more bold in their wickedness, who presume that
they may commit it with impunity: but this is not the natural tendency,
or genuine effect thereof; nor will it be thus abused by any, but those
who are abandoned 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 affords the strongest motive to holiness; it is therefore the
neglect or contempt of this grace, and a corrupt 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 heart, 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 own sight for their
iniquities_; which is not only a prediction, respecting the event, but a
promise of what he would incline them to do; and when he adds, that _for
this he would be enquired of by them_, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27, 31, 37. 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 himself therefore
will take care that, however others abuse his grace, it shall not lead
those who are in a distinguishing way, the objects thereof, to

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, concealed, and not
published to the world. As some of old did not care to hear of the
holiness of God, and therefore, if the prophets would render their
doctrine acceptable to them, they must not 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 as little desirous to hear of the free and
discriminating grace of God, which contains the very sum and substance
of the gospel, lest it should be abused, whereas the glory thereof
cannot be enough admired; and therefore it ought often to be
recommended, as what leads to holiness, and lies at the very root of all

And that it may be so improved, let it be farther considered, that it is
the greatest inducement to humility, as well as one of the greatest
ornaments and evidences of a true Christian. This appears from the
nature of the thing, for grace supposes its object unworthy, as has been
but now observed; and it argues 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 degree of
thankfulness in proportion to the ground he has to claim an interest
therein, and the extensiveness of the blessed fruits and effects

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. sometimes this attribute
is set forth in a metaphorical way, and called a _restraining his
wrath_, Psal. lxxvi. 10. and a _refraining himself_, and _holding his
peace_, or _keeping silence_, Isa. xlii. 14. and Psal. l. 21. and, while
he does this, he is represented, speaking after the manner of men, as
one that is _weary with forbearing_, Isa. i. 13. chap. vii. 13. Mal. 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 perfection 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 particularly, 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 innocent creature
cannot be the object of it, inasmuch as vindictive justice makes no
demand upon him; nor has it any reserves of punishment laid up in store
for him; such an one is, indeed the object of goodness, but not of
forbearance; for punishment cannot be said to be deferred where it is
not due: and, on the other hand, they cannot be said to be the objects
thereof, in whom the vindictive justice of God is displayed to the
utmost, when all the vials of his wrath are poured forth. Whether the
devils are, in some sense, the objects of God’s forbearance, as having
ground to expect a greater degree of punishment after the final
judgment, is disputed by some, who contend about the sense of the word
_forbearance_; they are said, indeed, _to be reserved in 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 degree of punishment, which they
bring upon themselves, by all the hostilities they commit against God in
this world: this farther appears, from what they are represented, as
saying to our Saviour, _Art thou come to torment us before the time?_
Matth. viii. 29.[63] By which it is sufficiently evident that their
misery shall be greater than now it is. However, this less degree of
punishment, inflicted 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-suffering_, 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 exercise of this perfection,
a day or season of grace granted, which is called, in scripture, with a
peculiar emphasis, the sinner’s _day, or the time of his visitation_, in
which it ought to be his highest concern _to know 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 word of his patience_, Rev.
iii. 10. so that there is something more in this attribute than barely a
deferring of punishment. Accordingly God is said, to _wait that he may
be gracious_, Isa. xxx. 18. and the effects and consequences thereof are
various, (as may be said of all the other means of grace) so that
sinners, who neglect to improve it, have not only thereby a reprieve
from deserved punishment, but all those advantages of common grace,
which attend it: but, with respect to believers, it may be said, as the
apostle expresses it, _The long-suffering of our Lord is salvation_, 2
Pet. iii. 15. It is evidently so to them, and therefore God doth not
spare them, 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 extend
salvation 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, and 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 instances.

_1st_, It was owing hereto that God did not immediately destroy our
first parents as soon as they fell; he might then, without the least
impeachment of his justice, have banished them for ever from his
presence, and left their whole posterity destitute of the means of
grace, and have punished them all in proportion to the guilt contracted;
therefore that the world is continued to this day, is a very great
instance of God’s long-suffering.

_2dly_, When mankind was universally degenerate, and all flesh had
corrupted their way, before the flood, and God determined to destroy
them, yet he would not do this, till his patience 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 preacher 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.

_3dly_, The Gentiles, who not only worshipped and served the creature
more than the Creator, but committed other vile abominations, 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 apostle observes, _that in times past, God
suffered all nations to walk in their own ways_, 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, filling their hearts
with food and gladness_, Acts xiv. 16, 17. Ezek. xxi. 3.

_4thly_, 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, following the customs
of the nations round about them, yet he did not utterly destroy them,
but, in their distress, raised them up deliverers; and when their
iniquity was grown to such a height that none but a God of infinite
patience, could have borne with them, he, notwithstanding, spared them
many years before he suffered them to be carried away captive into
Babylon; and afterwards, 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 unworthy of eternal
life_, Acts xiii. 46.

_5thly_, After this, the patience of God was extended to those who
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 subserviency to their
salvation; but, with respect to others, by whom it is abused, the
patience of God discovers itself,

_1st_, In giving them warning of his judgments before he sends them. _He
speaketh once, yea twice, but man perceiveth it not_, that he may
_withdraw 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 befal 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 upon Israel of old, as the prophet Joel observes, _first
the palmer-worm, then the locust; after that, the canker-worm, and then
the caterpillar, devoured the fruits of the earth, one after another_,
Joel i. 4. So the prophet Amos observes, that God first sent a famine
among them, which he calls _cleanness of teeth in all their cities_, and
afterwards _some of them were overthrown, as God overthrew Sodom and
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 light that goeth forth, Hos. vi. 5.
which implies more than is 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 increases 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 consume the garment
all at once, as when it is cast into the fire, but frets it by degrees,
or like rottenness, 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 divine

_3dly_, When God sends his judgments abroad in the world, he often
moderates them; none are proportionate to the demerit 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 them as their
iniquity deserved, and therefore he destroyed them not, and did not stir
up all his wrath, Psal. lxxviii. 38. so the prophet Isaiah says
concerning Israel, that God _hath not smitten him, as he had smote those
that smote him; nor is he slain according to the slaughter of them that
are slain by him; but that he would debate with them in measure, who
stayeth his rough wind in 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 afflict willingly_, 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 miserable; 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 them, and destroy them, he
expresseth himself in such terms, speaking after the manner of men, as
imply a kind of uneasiness, when he says, _Ah! I will ease me of mine
adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies_, Isa. i. 24. and before God
gave up Israel into the hands of the Assyrians, he seems, again speaking
after the manner of men, to have an hesitation or debate in his own
mind, whether he should do this or no, when he says, _How shall I give
thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make
thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned
within me, my repentings are kindled together_, Hos. xi. 8. and 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, and that _their enemies should cast a trench about the city, and
should lay it even with the ground_, he could not speak of it without
tears; _when he beheld the city, he wept over it_, Luke xix. 41, &c.

(4.) The next thing to be considered, concerning the patience 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 together 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
attribute, 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 who 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 thereof; therefore this being a
perfection, which redounds so much to the divine honour, we must not
suppose that there is no expedient for its being glorified, or that the
glory of vindictive justice is inconsistent with it.

Now this harmony 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 order to make this appear, let us
consider, that 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
punishment doth not interfere with either of these, then the glory of
God’s patience is not inconsistent with that of his vindictive justice.
But more particularly,

_First_, The glory of his holiness is, notwithstanding this,
sufficiently 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 shall
certainly have their accomplishment, if he says, that _he is angry with
the wicked every day_, and that _his soul hateth them_, is there any
reason to suppose the contrary? or if he has threatened that _he will
rain upon them snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest_,
which shall be the _portion of their cup_, 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
threatened 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
blemished in delaying to reward, as it can be supposed to be in delaying
to punish.

If therefore the truth of God, which will certainly accomplish 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-suffering.

And to this it may be 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 work of their own hands_, but in the end they shall be
_turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God_, Psal. ix. 16,
17. If vindictive justice takes occasion to inflict many temporal and
spiritual judgments upon sinners in this world, then the glory of God’s
holiness is illustrated at the same time that his patience is prolonged.
This may be observed in God’s dealing with his murmuring and rebellious
people in the wilderness which gave him occasion to take notice of the
abuse of his patience, and to say, Numb. xiv. 11, 18-21. _How long will
this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for
all the signs which I have shewed among them?_ Upon this, justice is
ready to strike the fatal blow; _I will_, says God, _smite them with the
pestilence, and disinherit them_; which gives Moses occasion to
intercede for them, and plead the glory of God’s patience, _The Lord is
long-suffering, and of great mercy; Pardon_, says he, _I beseech thee,
the iniquity of this people, as thou hast forgiven them from Egypt, even
until now_; by which he means, as I humbly conceive, spare thy people,
as thou hast often done, when, by reason of their provocations, thou
mightest justly have destroyed them; and God answers him in the
following words, _I have pardoned, according to thy word_; but he adds,
_As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with 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, O Lord_,
namely, Moses’s prayer for them, but now mentioned, _Thou wast 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 control his sovereign 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 extending forbearance to sinners; for we do not find
that the delaying to inflict punishment among men is any prejudice to
their government, therefore why should we suppose that the divine
government should suffer 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 proved, and the equity of his
proceedings more evidently appear, this is always reckoned a greater
excellency in his administration, than if he should proceed too hastily
therein; and we never 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 privilege
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

(5.) How the patience of God is to be improved by us; and,

_1st_, 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 reason to adore and admire the divine
forbearance, when we consider,

_First_, How justly he might destroy us. The best man on earth may say,
with the Psalmist, _If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O lord, who
shall stand?_ 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 condemnation, 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; and that
which farther enhances our guilt is, that we provoke him, though laid
under the highest obligations to the contrary.

_Secondly_, How easily 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 _weak, though anointed king_, and that _the sons of Zeruiah were too
hard for him_, on the occasion of Joab’s having 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 _slow to
anger, and great in power_, Nah. i. 3. that is, he does not punish,
though he easily could: it would be no difficulty 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

_2dly_, Let us take heed that we do not abuse this divine perfection; it
is a crime to abuse the mercy of God in the smallest 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 presumption, and that with a scoff; for they are termed
_scoffers, walking after their own lusts; saying, Where is the promise
of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as
they were from the beginning of the creation_, 2 Pet. iii. 3, 4.

2. By those who take occasion from hence to sin presumptuously; and
because he not only delays to punish, but, at the same time, expresses
his willingness to receive returning sinners, at what time soever they
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 wear out his patience, and provoke his indignation,
like them, of whom it is said, that _because sentence against 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 vilest part of
mankind are chargeable with; therefore let us add,

3. That a bare neglect to improve our present season, and day of grace,
or to embrace the great salvation offered in the gospel, is an abuse of
God’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
humiliation in his sight.

Now 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 sin, puts a very great emphasis
on every word, when he says, _Or despisest thou the riches of his
goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering?_ Rom. ii. 4. Let us also
consider, that the consequence thereof is very destructive, inasmuch as
this is the only 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 _now_, 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, _Behold, now is the accepted
time; behold, now is the day of salvation_, 2 Cor. vi. 2. And to this we
may add, which is a very awakening 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 Israel 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;
_You only have I known, of all the families of the earth, therefore will
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 Babylon, the cup of his wrath must be _filled
double; how 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 widow, and shall see no sorrow_, Rev.
xviii. 6, 7.

_3dly_, 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 great relief to those who are at
the very brink of despair; for if they cannot say that it has hitherto
led them to repentance, as apprehending themselves to be yet in a state
of unregeneracy, let us consider, that, notwithstanding this, a door of
hope is still opened, the golden sceptre held forth, and the invitation
given to come to Christ; therefore let this excite us to a diligent
attendance on the means of grace, for though forbearance is not to be
mistaken, as it is by many, for forgiveness, yet we are encouraged to
wait and hope for it, in all God’s holy institutions, according to the
tenor of the gospel.

And they who 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.

_4thly_, Let us consider the great obligation we are laid under, 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 murmuring, or repining, when under
afflictive providences, _Shall we receive good at his hand, and shall we
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?
Shall we be froward and uneasy, because he does not immediately give us
what we desire, or deliver us from those evils we groan under?

2. Let us exercise patience, in our behaviour towards men. Shall we give
way to, or express, unbecoming resentment 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
consider 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 by
this perfection, we may observe the difference between his being called
a true God, and a God of truth; though they seem to import the same
thing, and are not always distinguished in scripture: thus he that
receiveth Christ’s testimony, is said to _set to his seal that God is
true_, that is, in accomplishing what he has promised, respecting the
salvation of his people, or that he is a God of truth; and elsewhere it
is said, _Let God be true, but every man a liar_, that is, a God of
truth: yet they are, for the most part, distinguished; so that when he
is called 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 all his divine perfections, and is opposed to all
others, who are called gods, but are not so by 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; and therefore whatever he has spoken, he will certainly bring
it to pass. This respects either his threatenings, 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 respect he is
said to be the _faithful God, who keepeth covenant and mercy with them
that love him, and keep his commandments, unto a thousand generations_,
Deut. vii. 9. This is that which encourages 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 mercy and goodness can
communicate every thing that may 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 faithfulness; this renders these
blessings not only possible, but certain, and so affords, to the heirs
of salvation, strong consolation. It is this that renders things future
as certain as though they were present, and so lays 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 which 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 altered, but _that seed-time and harvest, cold
and heat, summer and winter, day and night, should not cease_, Gen. ix.
11. compared with chap. viii. 22.

There are also promises made to the church in general, that it should
have a being in the world, notwithstanding all the shocks of
persecution, which it is exposed to; and, together with these, God has
given the greatest security, that the ordinances of divine worship
should be continued, and that, _in all places where he records his name,
he will 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
be_, and that he would _multiply them, that they should not be few_, and
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 from strength to strength_, or that _they who
wait on the Lord shall renew their strength_, Psal. lxxxiv. 7. and Isa.
xl. 31. and that they shall be recovered, after great backslidings,
Psal. xxxvii. 14. Psal. lxxxix. 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 joy,
which accompanies or flows from the truth of grace, Isa. xi. 1. chap.
lvii. 19. chap. xxxii. 17. and that all this shall be attended with
perfect blessedness in heaven at last, Psal. lxxiii. 24. 2 Tim. iv. 8.
The scripture abounds with promises of the like nature, which are suited
to every condition, and afford 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, fulfilled his threatenings, which has tended to
embolden some in a course of obstinacy and rebellion 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 very _day they
should eat of the forbidden fruit, they should surely die_: yet Adam
lived after this, nine hundred and thirty years, Gen. ii. 17. 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 to them, Jonah
iii. 4. nevertheless they continued in a flourishing state many years

_Answ._ 1. As to what respects the first threatening, that death should
immediately ensue upon sin’s being committed, we shall have occasion to
speak to this in its proper place,[64] and therefore all that need be
replied to it at present is, that the threatening 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 immediately separated from God, the fountain of blessedness, and
plunged into all those depths of misery, which were the consequence of
their fall; or if we take death, the punishment threatened, for that
which is, indeed, one ingredient in it, to wit, the separation of soul
and body; or for the greatest degree of punishment, 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 intended 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, since 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 annexed to this threatening, and
so the meaning is; that they should be destroyed in forty days, if they
did not repent: this condition was designed to be made known to them,
otherwise Jonah’s preaching would have been to no purpose, and the
warning 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 connected the condition with
the threatening: and as, on the one hand, he designed to give them
repentance, so that the event was not dubious and undetermined by him,
as depending on their conduct, abstracted from his providence; so, on
the other hand, there was no reflection cast on his truth, because this
provisionary expedient, for their deliverance, 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 spiritual 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?_ Psal. lxxvii. 8.

_Answ._ It is true, that all the promises of God are not literally
fulfilled in this world to every particular believer; 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, fulfilled 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 promises of victory over temptation fulfilled, to
those who are not only assaulted, but frequently 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: notwithstanding, 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 blessings 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; 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 deny them.

3. In denying these blessings, he oftentimes takes occasion to advance
his own glory some other way, by trying the faith and patience of his
people, correcting them for their miscarriages, humbling them by his
dealings with them, and over-ruling all for their good in the end; which
is an equivalent for those joys and comforts which they are deprived of.
And, indeed, God has never promised these blessings to any, but with
this reserve, that if he thinks it necessary, for his own 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 accomplishment in kind,
in this world, shall be accomplished in the next, with the greatest
advantage; so that then they will have no reason to complain of the
least unfaithfulness in the divine administration. If rivers of
pleasures at God’s right hand for ever, will not compensate for the want
of some comforts, while we are in this world, or silence all objections
against his present dealings with men, nothing can do it; or if the full
accomplishment 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 mayest be righteous?_ 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 they 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 considered, that _the wicked are reserved for the day of
destruction; they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath_, Job xxi.
9. compared with ver. 30. the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
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 conclude, 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; _he will
ever be mindful of his covenant_, Psal. cxi. 5.

(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 world; and we
behold them to little purpose, if we do not observe how this divine
perfection is glorified therein. 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 against 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 affairs, are
all rendered subservient to its welfare; _the earth helps the woman_,
Rev. xii. 16. not so much from 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 world_, Matth. xxviii.
20. are blessings in which his faithfulness is eminently glorified.

(3.) This divine perfection is a sure foundation for our faith. As his
truth, with respect to what he has revealed, is an infallible ground for
our faith of assent, so his faithfulness, in fulfilling 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
well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator_, 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 _confident of this very thing, that he that has
begun a good work in us, will 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, what wilt thou do unto thy great name?_ Josh. vii.
9. or when we have many sad thoughts of heart about the rising
generation, and are in doubt whether they will adhere to, or abandon,
the interest of Christ; when we are ready to fear whether there will be
a reserve of faithful men, who will stand up for his gospel, and fill
the places of those who are called off the stage, after having served
their generation by the will of God; or when we are too much oppressed
with carking cares about our outward condition in the world, when, like
Christ’s disciples, we are immoderately thoughtful _what we shall eat,
what we shall drink, or wherewithal we 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 derived
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 accomplishment, so
far as shall most redound to God’s glory, and our real advantage.

(5.) The consideration of the faithfulness of God should be 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 backslidden from him, contrary to all the engagements which we have
been laid under. Have we found any unfaithfulness in him? Has he, in the
least instance, been worse than his word? as God says, when he reproves
his people, _What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are
gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?_
Jer. ii. 5.

Footnote 48:

  His ideas are not the effects, but causes of things. Vide post p. 124,

Footnote 49:

  There is not succession in His ideas, but he exists in every point of

Footnote 50:

  Effects spring from _power_, not _laws_, and prove a _virtual_, or
  influential, revelation, an _essential_ ubiquity.

Footnote 51:

  Quest. xv. and xviii.

Footnote 52:

  Quest. lxvii.

Footnote 53:

  Vide Edwards on Free-will, part I. sect. IV.

Footnote 54:

  The Divine knowledge is as undeniable as the Divine existence, and as
  certain as human knowledge. “He that formed the eye doth he not see?
  He that planted the ear doth he not hear? He that teacheth man
  knowledge doth he not know?” But though human knowledge proves the
  Divine, as the effect does its cause, it by no means follows, that
  they are similar. Our knowledge principally consists of the images of
  things in the mind, or springs from them; but if the Divine knowledge
  were such, it would result that things were prior to his knowledge,
  and so that he is not the Creator of them; all things must therefore
  be the representations of his ideas, as an edifice represents the plan
  of the skilful architect. On this account our knowledge is
  superficial, extending only to the external appearances of things; but
  their intimate natures are known to him, who made them conformed to
  his original ideas. Our knowledge is circumscribed, extending only to
  the things which are the objects of our senses, or which have been
  described to us; but the universe, with all its parts, the greatest
  and the smallest things, are all known to him, who called them into
  existence, and moulded them according to his own plan. Our knowledge
  embraces only the things which are, or have been; with respect to the
  future, we can know nothing, except as he, upon whom it depends, shall
  reveal it to us; or as we may draw inferences from his course of
  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 place 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 argue imperfection; 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, also a purpose, that the
  thing designed shall be effectuated; and his wisdom and power being
  infinite guarantee the accomplishment of his purposes.

  To be the subjects of foreknowledge, such as has been mentioned,
  implies the absolute certainty of the things, or occurrences, thus
  foreknown. A failure in their production, would not less prove
  imperfection, than a defect of the foreknowledge of them. Contingency
  belongs not to the things in futurity, but to the defective knowledge
  of imperfect 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 causes, which are occult from us. The
  voluntary actions of moral agents, how uncertain soever to themselves,
  are also not exceptions from the Divine knowledge and purposes; “He
  doth his will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the
  earth”; “The wrath of man praises him, and the remainder he doth
  restrain.” Every prophecy, which has been fulfilled, so far as it was
  accomplished by the voluntary actions of men, proves the certainty of
  the divine foreknowledge, the absolute certainty of the then future
  event, and that the will of man is among the various means, which God
  is pleased to make use of to accomplish his purposes.

  If 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 similar in the Kingdom of Grace; and the more
  especially if man’s salvation from first to last springs from, and is
  carried on, and accomplished by him.

Footnote 55:

  As knowledge is a faculty of which wisdom is the due exercise, the
  proofs of divine wisdom are so many evidences of the knowledge of God.
  Wisdom consists in the choice of the best ends, and the selection of
  means most suitable to attain them. The testimonies of the wisdom of
  God must therefore be as numerous and various, as the works of his
  creation. The mutual relations and subserviency of one thing to
  another; as the heat of the sun, to produce rain; both, to produce
  vegetation; and all, to sustain life; ensation, digestion, muscular
  motion, the circulation of the fluids, and, still more, intelligence,
  and above all, the moral faculty, or power of distinguishing good and
  evil, are unequivocal proofs of the wisdom, and consequently of the
  knowledge, of God.—_He that formed the eye, doth he not see: he that
  planted the ear, &c._

  Mortal artificers are deemed to understand their own work, though
  ignorant of the formation of the materials and instruments they use:
  but the Creator uses no mean or material which he has not formed. He
  therefore knows, from the globe to the particle of dust or fluid, and
  from the largest living creature to the smallest insect. He has
  knowledge equally of the other worlds of this system, and every
  system; of all things in heaven, earth, and hell.

  Our knowledge is conversant about his works; he knows all things which
  are known to us, and those things which have not come to our

  He formed and sustains the human mind, and knows the thoughts: this is
  necessary to him as our Judge. He knows equally all spiritual
  creatures, and sustains his holy spirits in holiness.

  Our knowledge springs from things; but things spring from his
  purposes: they are, because he knows them; otherwise they existed
  before his knowledge, and so independently of him.

  We know but the external appearances, he the intimate nature of
  things. We inquire into the properties of things by our senses, by
  comparing them, by analizing, &c: 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 him.

  We are furnished with memories to bring up ideas, being only able to
  contemplate a part at a time; but his comprehension embraces all

  He never changes; his purposes of the future embrace eternity: all
  things that are really future are certain, because his purposes cannot
  fail of accomplishment. But all future things to us are contingent,
  except as he has revealed their certainty. That the future is known to
  him, also appears by the accomplishment of every prophecy.

  But man’s sin receives hereby no apology. He gives the brutal creation
  the capacity of deriving pleasure from gratification of sense, and
  provides for such appetites. He offers to man, pleasures which are
  intellectual: he has tendered him the means, and requires man to seek
  his spiritual happiness in God. When he refuses and withholds his
  return of service from God, man is alone to blame. And the more
  numerous and powerful the motives which he resists, the guilt is the
  greater. The divine foreknowledge of this is no excuse for man. When
  the Lord overpowers man’s evil with good, the glory of man’s salvation
  belongs to God.

Footnote 56:

  _See Ray’s Wisdom of God in the Works of Creation, and Derham’s
  Physico-Theology._ See also Fenelon, Newenlyle, Paley, and Adams’s

Footnote 57:

  See Page 46.

Footnote 58:

  See Quest. clvi. and clvii.

Footnote 59:

  _Quest. xvi. xvii. xxi. and xxx._

Footnote 60:

  _The Quest. xliv. and lxxi._

Footnote 61:

  _Quest. xxix. and lxxix._

Footnote 62:

  All the good which we behold in Creation, Providence, and redemption,
  flows from goodness in God, and are the proofs of this attribute. If
  all the evil, which we discover, springs from the liberty given to
  creatures to conform, or not, to the revealed will; or if all moral
  evil be productive of good, _the remainder 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 goodness; he
  is not a compounded being; his goodness therefore belongs to his
  essence. His goodness has been distinguished into _immanent_ and
  _communicative_. The latter discovers to us the former, but his
  communicative goodness, though flowing in ten thousand streams, and
  incalculable, is less than his immanent, which is an 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 immanent goodness as infinitely exceeding all the
  good, which appears in his works, for the excellency in these is but
  an imperfect representation of himself. The happiness of Deity must
  consist consequently in his own self-complacency; _he made all things
  for his pleasure, or glory_, but they are only so far pleasing, as
  they reflect his own picture to himself. Yet when we suppose Deity to
  be the subject of motives, we are ever in danger of erring.

  Divine communicative goodness has been termed _benevolence_ when 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 justice in rewarding
  every good, if there be merit in a creature, and punishing every evil
  is no less an effect of benevolence, than the conferring of benefits,
  which are purely gratuitous. In like manner the punishment 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 God.

  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 appointed, unto 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; his wrath
  and indignation are but other terms for his steady and unchangeable
  goodness, bearing down the evil, which sinful creatures oppose to his
  purposes of general advantage. Those acts of justice which are
  accounted by the guilty to be unnecessary severity, are deemed, by
  glorified saints and angels, the effects of that goodness, which they
  make the subject of their Hallelujahs. Thus the highest proof of God’s
  goodness consisted in his not sparing his own Son, nor abating any
  thing from the demands of his law. After this all hopes that Divine
  goodness shall favour the finally impenitent must be utterly vain.

Footnote 63:

  “Mark iii. 11, v. 7; Luke viii. 28; and Mat. viii. 29. These
  extraordinary personages in the New Testament, are not called
  _devils_, Διαβολοι, in the original; that word never occurring in the
  Christian scriptures, but in the singular number, and as applied to
  one Being alone. They are called _dæmons_, Δαιμονες or Δαιμονια. Yet
  they are plainly devils in fact; being called Unclean Spirits, though
  sometimes only Spirits (Mark ix. 20; and Luke x. 20;) and showing
  themselves to be devils, by their whole history. In Mat. xii. 24 and
  26 particularly, the Pharisees say ‘our Saviour casts out devils,
  (dæmons) by Beelzebub the prince of the devils (dæmons);’ and our
  Saviour replies, that then ‘Satan casts out Satan.’ See also Luke x.
  17-18; where the apostles rejoicing declare, ‘even the devils (dæmons)
  are subject unto us;’ and our Saviour says unto them, ‘I beheld Satan
  as lightning fall from heaven.’ So very false in itself, and directly
  contradicted by the very words of our Saviour, is that hypothesis of
  Dr. Campbell’s in his new translation of the Gospels; which asserts
  these possessions of the New Testament to be nowhere attributed to the
  devil, and which avers the dominion or authority of the devil to be
  nowhere ascribed to the dæmons! Beelzebub is expressly called the
  _prince_ of the dæmons, the dæmons are expressly denominated _Satan_
  with him, and these are only inferior devils subordinate to the great
  one. And though the word _dæmons_ (as Dr. Campbell urges) might
  critically be more exact in a translation; yet the word _devils_
  better accords, with the usages of our language and the course of our
  ideas. Exactness therefore has been properly sacrificed to utility.”


Footnote 64:

  _See Quest. xx._

                              Quest. VIII.

    QUEST. VIII. _Are there more Gods than one?_

    ANSW. There is but one only, the living and true God.

I. In this answer, God is described as the living and true God. As life
is the greatest excellency belonging to the nature of any finite being,
upon which account some have concluded 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 superior excellency to all others, because that which gives life
to them, or the principle by which they act as such, is most excellent;
so the life of God is that whereby 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 God represents himself, in scripture, as
giving his people the highest assurance of any thing which he designs to
do, he useth the form of an oath, and sweareth by his life, _As I live_;
or, _as truly as I live_, Isa. xlix. 18. and Numb. xiv. 21. which
imports the same thing, as when he says, _I have sworn by myself_, Gen.
xxii. 16. so that when he is called the living God, his glory is set
forth, as a God of infinite perfection: but this has been considered
under the last answer.

Therefore we may farther observe, that when God is styled the living
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 profane worshippers. Thus the
apostle lays down both the terms of opposition, when he speaks to some,
as having _turned from idols_, or false gods, _to serve the living and
true God_, 1 Thess. i. 9. Here we might consider the origin and progress
of idolatry, as men were inclined to _worship the creature more than the
Creator_, Rom. i. 25. or _to do service to them, who, by nature, are no
gods_, Gal. iv. 8. and shew how 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 making, but prayed to them, and
said, _Deliver us, for ye are our gods_; this the prophet takes notice
of, Isa. xliv. 17. and exposes their unaccountable stupidity, by
observing to them that these gods were first growing among the 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 metaphor, 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[65], 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,
_I, 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. 35. and
elsewhere, _Thou art God alone_, Psal. lxxxvi. 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 very 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 arguments to confirm our faith therein: but that
this may farther appear, let it be considered,

1. That the idea of a God implies that he is the first cause of all
things, in which respect he is opposed to the creature; it follows,
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 nature of the thing; for if there
are more Gods, then they must derive their being from him, and then they
are a part of his creation, and consequently not gods, for God 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
perfections from no other, therefore there can be but one God.

2. There is but one being, 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, which, ultimately considered, cannot be any thing short of
himself, for that is inconsistent with the wisdom and sovereignty that
is contained in the idea of a Creator; therefore he is said to have
_made all things for himself_, Prov. xvi. 4. and consequently the glory
that results from thence is unalienable, and 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 which is
essential to it. And to this we may add, that if God be the ultimate end
of all things, he is to be glorified as such, and all worship is to
terminate in him; and we must proclaim him to be our chief good, and
only portion and happiness, which is plainly inconsistent with a
plurality of gods. Besides, he that is the object of adoration must be
worshipped, and _loved with all our heart, soul, 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
worship 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 perfection being implied in the idea of a God, as has been
proved under the last answer, it is certain that it cannot belong to
more than one; for as it implies that this perfection is boundless, so
it denotes that he sets bounds to the perfections of all others;
therefore, if there are more Gods than one, their perfections must be
limited, and consequently that which is not infinite is not God. And as
infinite perfection implies in it all perfection, so it cannot be
divided among 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 follows 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 Gods than one, all of them must be
said to be able to do all things, 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 almighty, 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 dominion 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.
Moreover, if there were more Gods than one, then there would be a
confusion in the government of the world; for whatever one decrees,
another may reverse; or whatever is done by one, the contrary might be
done by the other, for that is the consequence from a sovereignty of
will. And as there might be opposite things commanded, or forbidden,
pursuant to the different wills of a plurality of gods, so the 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 excellent 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 excellencies
are equal, then infinite perfection would be divided, which is contrary
to the idea thereof, as was before hinted; as well as to what is
expressly said by God, _To whom will ye liken me, or shall I be equal?
saith the Holy 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 assert 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 worshipped other gods, _they were without God in the world_, which
implies as much as that they were atheists therein, as the words αθεοι
ἐν τω κόσμω may, with equal propriety, be rendered.[66]

Having considered the unity of the Godhead, not only as evinced from
scripture, but as it may be demonstrated by the light of nature, it will
be necessary that we obviate an objection that may be brought against
this latter method of proving it, _viz._

_Object._ If the unity of the Godhead might be known by the dictates of
nature, or demonstrated by other arguments, besides those which are
matter of pure revelation, how comes it to pass that the heathen owned,
and worshipped, a plurality of gods? and as it was not one particular
sect among them that did so, but this abominable practice universally
obtained, where revealed religion was not known, therefore, though this
be an undoubted truth, yet it is not founded in the light of nature.

_Answ._ That they did so is beyond dispute, especially after idolatry
had continued a few ages in the world, and so had extinguished 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 countries where they lived had induced them to
pay divine adoration to, yet the wiser sort of them, however guilty of
idolatry, by paying a lower kind of worship to them, have,
notwithstanding, 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 says, in the words immediately following, _Whom therefore ye
ignorantly worship, 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[67]: Also, that this God is
self-sufficient, and therefore it is absurd to suppose that he stands in
need of, or can receive advantage from, any one[68]; and that he is the
chief good, or contains in himself whatever is good, and that by him all
things consist; and that no one hath enough in himself to secure his own
safety and happiness, which is to be derived from him[69].

And there are others also, who plainly assert the unity of God in as
strong terms, as though they had learned it from divine revelation,
calling him, the beginning, the end, and author of all things; who was
before, and is above all things, the Lord of all, the fountain of life,
light, and all good, yea, goodness itself; the most excellent being; and
many other expressions to the like purpose. I could multiply quotations
for the proof of this, from Proclus, Porphyry, Iamblicus, Plotinus,
Plutarch, Epictetus, and several others; but this has been already done
by other hands[70]; by which it appears, that though 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 participation 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
number, throughout the greatest part of their writings, and only make
mention of the gods occasionally, especially 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 himself[71], that when he wrote any thing in a grave and
serious manner, his custom was, to preface his epistles with the mention
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 under the displeasure of the
Athenians, for asserting the unity of the Godhead, which cost him his
life, did not refuse to pay some religious honour to the heathen gods.
So that it is plain they paid some religious worship to them, but it was
of an inferior 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 account 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[72];
how some of them obtained it, as the reward of virtue, or in
commemoration 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 Romans, at the request of their surviving
friends; and this was done after Julius Cæsar’s time, by the decree of
the senate, who, at the same time, when they ranked them among the
number of their gods, appointed also the rites of worship that should be
paid to them; and some of the Roman emperors obliged the senate to deify
them while they were alive. These things are very largely insisted on,
by many ancient and modern writers[73]; so that, upon the whole, it
plainly appears, that, whatever they say of a plurality of gods, the
wiser sort among the heathen did not deny the unity of the divine
essence, 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 with some practical inferences from the doctrine
contained in this answer.

1. Since he, who 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 duties, without that reverence and
due regard to the divine perfections, which are contained in this
character of the Godhead. It is also a very great aggravation, not only
of apostacy, but of any degree of backsliding, in those who have made a
profession 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, renders 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 hypocrisy, 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, when he says, God was _near in their mouth, and far from their
reins_, Jer. xii. 2.

Moreover, let us take heed that we 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 says, _Ye cannot serve God and
mammon_, Mat. vi. 24. and, upon this account, covetousness is styled
idolatry, Col. iii. 5. as the world is loved more than him; and we read
of some _whose God is their belly_, Phil. iii. 19. who make provision
for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, as though this was their
chief good. And when we confide in any thing below 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[74].

3. From the unity of the Godhead, we may infer, that we ought to take
heed that we do not entertain any conceptions of 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 conceive 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 _whatever is in God, is God_; which we must reckon
as 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 understandings, 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 especially 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 composed 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 powers 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 man 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, &c. we must
not suppose that these perfections are so many ingredients in the divine
Being, or that, when taken together, they constitute it, as the whole is
constituted of its parts; for then every one of them would have no other
than a partial perfection, and consequently the essential glory 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 therefore there would be
something in God less than God, or a divine perfection less than all the
divine perfections taken together, which we are not to suppose. These
are the properties of composition; and therefore, when we speak of God
as a simple or uncompounded Being, we cannot forbear to mention 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 constituted are said
to be distinct; which follows from the former, 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,
&c. are in men; for that would be to suppose the divine Being as having
several distinct, infinitely 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 particular 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 being 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, which 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 means 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 infinitely perfect, or that he is not God. This, I think, is
generally intended, when it is said, _whatever is in God, is God_;
which, because it may be reckoned by some to be a metaphysical
speculation, I should have avoided to mention, had it not been, in some
respects, necessary, since the unity of God cannot well be conceived of,
unless 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 same ideas too often, in
attempting to explain it, I have done it to avoid some scholastic modes
of speaking, or with a design to render what has been said more
intelligible; but to this we may add,

(3.) That when we speak of the divine perfections as many, or distinct
from one another, as we often do, and have scripture 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 comparing 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 conceptions 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 produces it his power; or as the
divine acts are otherwise distinguished with respect to the objects, or
the manner of his glorifying himself therein, these we call his wisdom,
justice, goodness, &c. And this is what we mean, when we speak of
various perfections in God; though some suppose that they express
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 way, 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[75]. But however we express ourselves, when we
speak of the distinct perfections of the divine nature, this is what we
principally intend thereby: and here our thoughts must stop, and make
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, we cannot attain to it.

Footnote 65:

  _See Quest._ cv.

Footnote 66:

  “As gravity is the common quality of all bodies, arising not from the
  nature and properties of matter, nor to be explained without the
  agency of a foreign cause, yet producing numberless uniform effects in
  the corporeal system, it is in all reason to be attributed to one
  contrivance, rather than the different designs of two or more partial
  independent causes. What a vast variety of appearances in nature
  depend on this one? The self-balanced earth hangs upon its centre; the
  mountains are set fast; there is a perpetual flux and reflux of the
  sea; vapours continually arise; the clouds are balanced till by their
  own weight they descend in rain; animals breathe and move; the
  heavenly bodies hold their stations, and go on in their constant
  course, by the force of gravity, after the _ordinance_ of that wisdom
  which appointed them this law. Now when we see a multitude of effects
  proceeding from one Cause, effects so various in their kind and so
  important, a Cause simple and unvaried in all the diversity produced
  by it, can we avoid ascribing this to an unity of intelligence, if
  there be intelligence in it all? For could we suppose different
  independent beings, acting with different designs, and by distinct
  operations to have formed the 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 enough for it,
  the Contriver of the whole visible heavens, must, one would think,
  have finished his scheme independently on any other, without borrowing
  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 itself, not depending on any other for
  its order and preservation. Whereas, on the contrary, we see in fact
  they are none of them independent, but all held together by the common
  bond of gravity. The heavens and the earth continue in their
  situations at a proper distance from each other by the force of this
  law; the sea keeps within its channels; and animals live and move by
  it. All which lead us to acknowledge one directing Counsel in the
  whole frame. For what but an understanding which comprehends the whole
  extent of nature, reaching from the utmost circuit of heaven to the
  centre of the earth, could have fixed such a common law, so necessary
  to all its parts, that without it not one of them could subsist, nor
  the harmony of the whole be preserved? The strict cohesion of the
  parts which constitute particular bodies requires a peculiar cement,
  different from that of the gravitating force; and as it can never be
  explained by the nature and properties of matter itself, and is
  absolutely necessary to the forms and the uses of bodies in the
  several far distant regions of the world, it must in like manner be
  attributed to the contrivance of an understanding, and the agency of a
  power, which takes in the whole corporeal system, not to a partial
  cause, limited in its intelligence and operation.

  “_2dly_, The beautiful order and harmony of the universe, since it
  must be acknowledged to be the work of understanding, has all the
  appearance which is necessary to satisfy any fair inquirer, of its
  being formed under the direction of one governing wisdom. Disconcerted
  counsels can never produce harmony. If a plurality of intelligent
  causes pursue each his separate design, disunion will continually
  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 common end, we naturally conclude unity of design. As a
  work of art is formed according to the preconceived idea of a
  designing artificer, without which it has not its necessary intireness
  and uniformity, the same may be observed in the works of nature. A
  tree is as much one as a house; an animal as complete a system in it
  self, (only much more curiously framed,) as a clock. If we carry our
  views farther into nature, and take in whole regions of the universe,
  with all their contents, the same characters of unity are still
  visible. The earth itself is not a confused mass, or a medley of
  incoherent and unrelated parts, but a well contrived fabric, fitted
  and plainly designed for use. If we consider what a multitude of
  living creatures are in it, of different kinds and degrees of
  perfection, each sort having proper apartments assigned them, where
  they dwell conveniently together, with suitable provision made for
  them, and instincts directing them to the use of it; if we consider
  the interests of the several kinds, not interfering in the main, but
  rather serviceable to each other, furnished with necessary defences
  against the inconveniences to which they are liable, either by the
  preventing care of nature, which without any thought of their own has
  provided for their safety, by the appointed advantages of their
  situation, or by an implanted wisdom directing them to find out the
  means of it; and if we consider the constant interposition of the same
  liberal 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 benefit of the air, without which they could
  not subsist, and the light of the sun, which cannot at once illuminate
  the whole globe, being dispensed among them with so good œconomy, that
  they have every one what is sufficient to guide them in the exercise
  of their proper functions, that they may fulfil the purposes of their
  beings;—when we consider all this, can we doubt but the earth is
  disposed and governed by one intending Cause? If in a large house,
  wherein are many mansions, and a vast variety of inhabitants, there
  appears exact order, all from the highest to the lowest continually
  attending their proper business, and all lodged and constantly
  provided for suitably to their several conditions, we find ourselves
  obliged to acknowledge one wise œconomy. 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 qualified to fill; the
  unenvied chiefs constantly attend their more important cares, served
  by the busy inferiors, who have all a suitable accommodation, and food
  convenient for them, the very meanest ministering to the public
  utility and protected by the public care; if, I say, in such a
  community we must conclude there is a ruling Counsel, which if not
  naturally, yet is politically one, and, 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 are so many
  ranks of beings disposed of in the most convenient manner, having all
  their several provinces appointed to them, and their several kinds and
  degrees of enjoyment liberally provided for, without encroaching upon,
  but rather being mutually useful to each other, according to a settled
  and obvious subordination. What else can account for this but a
  sovereign Wisdom, a common provident nature, presiding over, and
  caring for the whole?

  “But the earth, as great as it appears to us, complicated in its
  frame, and having such a variety 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 upon it. It owes its
  stability to the common law of gravitation; it derives its light and
  its heat from the sun, by which it is rendered fruitful and commodious
  to its inhabitants. In short, a bond of union runs through the whole
  circle of being, as far as human knowledge reaches; and we have reason
  to make the same judgment concerning the parts of the world which we
  do not know, and to conclude that they all together compose one great
  whole, which naturally leads us to acknowledge one supreme uniting
  Intelligence. To object against this the possibility of wild confusion
  reigning in worlds unknown is to feign, and not to argue; and to
  suppose disorder prevalent in an infinity of being which we are
  unacquainted with, which is the _Atheistic_ hypothesis, is to take
  away all rational foundation for regularity any where, though we see
  it actually obtains every where, as far as our observation can reach.
  But confining our speculations on this subject within the compass of
  known existence, as we ought to do in a fair inquiry, the apparent
  order of the effects is a strong evidence of unity in the Cause. For
  if different independent causes produced, each, a part, why are there
  no footsteps of this in the whole extent of nature? Why does not so
  much as one piece appear, as the separate monument of its author’s
  power and wisdom? From divided counsels one would naturally expect
  interfering schemes; but, on the contrary, we see an universal
  harmony. Men indeed from a sense of their indigence, and by the
  direction of instincts, which must be attributed to the designing
  author of their constitution, join in societies; which, though
  composed of many, are governed by one counsel: but that is only an
  artificial union, a submission to the majority, or to those who have
  the supreme power delegated to them, rather than an agreement in
  design. But this cannot be the case of independent beings,
  self-existent, and each complete in itself, without relation to any
  other. And yet we see in nature a perfect harmony, from whence it is
  plain there must be an agreement at least in counsel and design, if we
  could suppose a plurality of independent causes. But whence comes this
  agreement? To say by chance, is _atheistically_, and very
  unreasonably, to attribute the most perfect of all effects, universal
  order, to no cause at all. If we say by design, it must be one
  comprehensive design forming the whole scheme of nature and
  providence, which directly brings us to what we are looking for, one
  sovereign commanding Intelligence in the universe, or one God. This
  was the argument by which some of the ancient philosophers proved that
  there is one only eternal and independent Principle, the Fountain of
  being and the Author of all things. _Pythagoras_ called it a _Monad_;
  and _Aristotle_ argued from the phænomena that all things are plainly
  co-ordered, to one, the whole world conspiring into agreeing harmony:
  Whereas, if there were many independent principles, the system of the
  world must needs have been incoherent and inconspiring; like an
  ill-agreeing _drama_, botched up of many impertinent _intersertions_.
  And he concludes that things are well administered, which they could
  not be under the government of many, alluding to the verse in _Homer_,
  Ουκ αγαθον Πολυκοιρανιη, εις Κοιρανος εστω.

  “_3dly_, The condition and order of inferior, derived, and evidently
  dependent intelligent 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 through the whole system of matter that it inhabits; it perceives
  for all the most distant parts of the body; it cares for all, and
  governs all, leading us, as a resemblance, to form an idea of the one
  great quickening Spirit, which presides over the whole frame of
  nature, the spring of motion and all operation in it, understanding
  and active in all the parts of the universe, not as its soul 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 principally the similitude
  of the exterior form, (though even that, in reason, should be
  attributed to the direction of one intelligent Cause,) but that
  whereby we are especially God’s offspring, our intellectual
  capacities, which as far as we can judge are very nearly alike. A
  great difference there may be, no doubt there is, in the improvement
  of them; but the powers themselves, and all the original modes of
  perception, in the different individuals of mankind, seem to resemble
  each other, as much as any real distinct things in nature. Now from a
  multitude, or a constant series of similar effects which do not arise
  from necessity, we infer unity of design in the Cause. So great a
  number of rational beings as the whole human race, disposed of in the
  same manner, endued with like faculties and affections, having many,
  and those principal things in their condition, common, provided for
  out of the same fund, and made for the same purposes, may reasonably
  be supposed to belong to one family, to be derived from the same
  origin, 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 principal bond of regular society among them, as it
  proceeds from a wise intending Cause, shews unity of wisdom in the
  Cause; and the government over the moral, as well as the natural,
  world evidently appears to be a monarchy.”


Footnote 67:

  _See Arist. Metaphys. Lib. I. Cap. 2. & Lib. XII. Cap. 7._

Footnote 68:

  _Vid. ejus. Mag. Moral. Lib. II. Cap. 15._

Footnote 69:

  _Vid. ejus. De Moribus, Lib. IX. Cap. 4. & De Mundo, Cap. 6._

Footnote 70:

  _Vid. Mornæi de Verit. Relig. Christ. cap. 3._

Footnote 71:

  _Epist. XIII. ad Dionys_.

Footnote 72:

  _See Cicero de Natura Deorum._

Footnote 73:

  _See Tertull. Apol. Lactant. de falsa Relig. Arnob. contra Gentes;
  Minut. Fel. Herodian. Hist. Lib. IV. See also Mede’s apostasy of the
  latter times, chap. 3, 4._

Footnote 74:

  _Quest. cv._

Footnote 75:

  _See de Vries Exercitat. Rational._

                          Quest. IX., X., XI.

    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 glory; although distinguished
    by their personal properties.

    QUEST. X. _What are the personal properties of the three Persons 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?_

    ANSW. The scriptures manifest, that the Son and the Holy Ghost are
    God equal 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;[76] and, because it is
so much contested in the age in which we live, we are obliged to be more
large and particular, in laying down the reasons of our belief of it,
and in our defence thereof, against those that deny it. It is a doctrine
that has been defended by some of the most judicious writers, both in
our own and other nations; whereof some have proved that it was
maintained by the church in the purest ages thereof, which therefore
renders it less necessary for us to enter into that part of the
controversy; 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 considered, 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 respect the divine
Persons are 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 what 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
cautions 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 scriptures, 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 therefore that they are, in the
most proper sense, the one only living and true God.[77]

I. We shall premise some things which are necessary to be considered,
with relation to the doctrine of the Trinity in general. And,

1. It is a doctrine of the highest importance, and necessary to be
believed by all Christians, who pay a just deference to revealed
religion. It may probably be reckoned an error in method to speak of the
importance of this doctrine, before we attempt to prove the truth
thereof: however, it is not altogether unjustifiable, since we address
ourselves to those who believe it, hoping thereby to offer some farther
conviction, or establishment, to their faith therein, as well as to
others who deny it; 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 importance, we must
consider the belief thereof as connected with salvation, or subservient
to that true religion, which is ordained by God, as a necessary means
leading to it, without which we have no warrant to expect it: and such
doctrines are sometimes called fundamental, as being the basis and
foundation on which our hope is built. Here, I think, it will be
allowed, by all whose sentiments do not savour of scepticism, that there
are some doctrines of religion necessary to be believed to salvation.
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 salvation, without the knowledge of those things,
which others conclude to be necessarily subservient to it. All that we
shall say concerning this is, that it is not the sincerity of our
enquiries after important truths, but the success thereof, 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 endeavours
to obtain many of those graces that accompany salvation, such as faith,
love to God, and evangelical obedience, will supply, or atone for, the
want of them; as assert that our unsuccessful enquiries after the great
doctrines of religion will excuse our ignorance thereof; especially when
we consider, that blindness of mind, as well as hardness of heart; is
included among those spiritual judgments, which are the consequence of
our fallen state; and also that God displays the sovereignty of his
grace as much, in leading the soul into all necessary truth, as he does
in any other things that relate to salvation. However, 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 truth_, 1 Tim. ii.
25. And here we cannot but observe, that the question relating to
important or fundamental articles of faith is not whether any doctrines
may be so called? but what those doctrines are: in determining of which,
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 scripture warrant; yea, such as are directly
contrary thereunto; and others allow no doctrine to be so, but what
will, if adhered to, open a door of salvation to all mankind, and these
set aside the necessity of divine revelation; and others, who desire not
to run such lengths, will allow, that some scripture-doctrines are
necessary to be believed to salvation: but these are only such as may
include those who are in their way of thinking; thus they who deny the
doctrine of the Trinity, are obliged in conformity to their own
sentiments, to deny also that it is an important article of faith. These
may justly demand a convincing proof of the truth thereof, before they
believe it to be of any importance, especially to themselves; and
therefore it would be a vain thing to tell them, that the belief thereof
is connected with salvation; or that it is necessary, inasmuch as divine
worship is so, which supposes the belief of the divinity of the Persons,
whom we adore; without first proving that the Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost, are divine 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,
depending thereon, and that of regeneration and sanctification, 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 immediately 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 Trinity, but rather the
importance of it; and express themselves with very great indifference
about it, and blame all attempts 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 defence 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
doctrine of the highest importance.

2. We are next to consider what degree of knowledge of this doctrine is
necessary to, or connected with salvation. It cannot 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-doctrine of the Trinity. This is what we are to assent to,
and to use our utmost endeavours to defend; but as for those
explications, 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 define 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, subsistence, consubstantiality, 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 embarrass 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 weakest Christian
from a possibility of knowing it, by supposing 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
knowledge, therefore, which is necessary to salvation, is more plain and
easy, and to be found in every part of scripture: accordingly, every
Christian knows, that the word _God_ signifies a being that has all
those divine perfections, which are so frequently 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 his Bible, and therefore firmly 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 the same, though their personal properties, or characters,
are distinct; which is the substance of what is contained in the first
of those answers, under our present consideration. And he that believes
this, need not entertain 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 warrant all those acts of divine worship, which we are obliged to
ascribe to the Father, Son, and Spirit, and is consistent with all those
other doctrines, which are founded on, or suppose the belief thereof, as
was before observed under our last head.

3. We shall consider this doctrine as a great mystery, such as cannot be
comprehended by a finite mind; and therefore we shall first enquire what
we are to understand by the word _Mystery_, as it is used in scripture.
This word sometimes denotes a doctrine’s having been kept secret, or, at
least, revealed more obscurely, upon which account it was not so clearly
known before; in which sense, the gospel is called, _The mystery which
hath been hid from ages, and from generations, but now is made manifest
to his saints_ Col. i. 26. It was covered with the ceremonial law, as
with a vail, which, many of the people, through the blindness of their
minds, did not so fully understand; and accordingly, when persons are
led into a farther degree of knowledge 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 scripture, 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 passed on those that
shall be found alive at the last day; _Behold, I shew you a mystery; we
shall not 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 affixed 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 seem to be contained in the
word, in some scriptures, particularly where the apostle says, _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 all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which, from
the beginning of the world, hath been hid in God_, Eph. iii. 8, 9. where
he speaks of the gospel, not only as hid, but unsearchable; and he
speaks of _the mystery of God, even the Father, and of Christ, in whom
are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge_, Col. ii. 3. where
the word mystery seems to contain both these ideas; for few will deny,
that the glory of the 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 intended, and so that the words ought to be rendered, _in
which_ are hid all 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 being
incomprehensible contained in it; this would not overthrow our argument
in general, since we can prove it to be incomprehensible from other
arguments, which we shall endeavour to do.

And that we may prepare our way for this, let it be considered, 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 nature; 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 nature of our
souls, any otherwise, than as it is observed by their actions, and the
effects they produce; the reason of their union with our bodies, or of
their acting by them, as the inspired writer observes; so that it may
well be said, _Thou knowest not the way of the spirit, nor how the bones
do grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so thou knowest not
the works of God, who maketh all things_, Eccles. xi. 5. and Elihu,
together with some of the other wonderful works of nature, which he
challengeth Job to give an account of, speaks of this in particular.
_Dost thou know how thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth,
by the south wind?_ Job xxxvii. 17, &c. which not only signifies that we
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 preserved for so many years, in the bodies of men, the
inseparable concomitant and sign of life; or what gives the first motion
to the blood and spirits, or fits the organized body to perform its
various functions. These things cannot be comprehended by us.

But if we speak of that which is infinite, we must conclude it to be
incomprehensible, not only because of the imperfection of our present
state, but because, as has been before observed, of the infinite
disproportion 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 comprehended, such as the immensity,
eternity, omnipresence, and simplicity of God; yet we are to believe
that he is thus infinitely 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, why 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 mentioned, why should it be thought strange, that
this doctrine, though the subject of pure revelation, should be equally
incomprehensible? This consequence appears so evident, that some of
them, who deny the doctrine of the Trinity to be incomprehensible, do
not stick to deny the perfections of the divine 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 becomes a finite creature, should venture to do. But
they proceed yet farther, 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 mysteries in
Christianity: 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 Antitrinitarians, and some of them with an air of
insult, conclude this 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
warmth, but I do not find that it has hitherto been overthrown: and
indeed 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 attacked with stronger arguments than it
generally is. Sometimes they bend their force principally against the
sense of the word _Mystery_; and here they talk not only with an air of
insult, but profaneness, when they compare it with the abominable
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 transubstantiation, are compared together, so that they are to
be reckoned equally mysterious, that is, according to their application
of the word, absurd and nonsensical. And this way of arguing has so far
prevailed among them, that no one must apply the word to any doctrines
of religion 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

The question therefore in controversy is; whether any doctrines of
religion may be deemed incomprehensible, that is, such as we can have no
adequate ideas of, because of the disproportion between them and our
finite minds? and whether the incommunicable 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 Trinity be rejected, because we cannot
account for every thing that relates to the personal glory of God, any
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
exceed 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, we shall consider the most
material objections that are brought against it, and what may be replied
to them.

_Object._ 1. It is objected 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
hereby, and therefore the will of man must follow the dictates of the
understanding, and not blindly embrace, and be conversant about we know
not what, which is to act unbecoming our own character as intelligent

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.

_Answ._ 1. As to our using words without ideas, there is no 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 Trinity, or
Persons in the Godhead, without determining, in some measure, what we
understand thereby. We will therefore allow that faith supposes some
ideas of the object, namely, that we have some knowledge of what we
believe it to be: now our knowledge of things admits of various degrees;
some of which we only know that they are what they are determined, or
proved to be; if we proceed farther in our enquiries, 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 though it was not
infinite. And to apply this to the doctrine of the Trinity; 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
personal characters and properties, and because the Godhead is but one,
that therefore these three are one, which we firmly believe, inasmuch as
it is so clearly revealed in scripture; and another thing, to say, that
we can fully describe all the properties of their divine personality,
which, though we cannot do, yet we believe that they subsist in an
incomprehensible manner. And while we compare them with finite persons,
as we do the perfections of God with those of the creature, we separate
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 communicate 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 perfections in his word, to give us such a perfect
discovery of himself, that we might be said hereby to find him out unto
perfection, or that we should know as much of his glory as is possible
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 revelation; God, indeed, designed hereby that we should apprehend
some things of himself, namely, as much as should be subservient to the
great ends of religion; but not so much as might be inconsistent with
our humble confession, that _we are but of yesterday, and know,
comparatively, nothing_, Job viii. 9.

And this is applicable, not only to the essential, but the personal,
glory of God, _Who hath ascended into heaven, or descended? Who hath
gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment?
Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and
what is his Son’s name, if thou canst tell?_ Prov. xxx. 4. Our Saviour,
indeed, speaks of his having _ascended into heaven_, John iii. 13. as
having a comprehensive knowledge of all divine truths; but this he
affirms concerning himself as a divine person, exclusively of all

Moreover, when it is said, in this objection, that God makes the
comprehensive knowledge of these things a term of salvation, 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 apprehend to be the object thereof, though we cannot
comprehend 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 proposition 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, of 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 wit, his being
corporeal; and in concluding him to be an infinite 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 understanding, or will? this is not a proposition,
and consequently not the object of faith, as well as exceeds the reach
of our understanding. 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 personality, here our understandings are at a
loss; but so far as this does not contain the form of a proposition, it
cannot, according 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 perfections, which lay us under the highest obligation to obey
him: as to the latter, the incomprehensibleness of the divine
personality, or perfections, has a direct tendency to excite our
admiration, 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, incomprehensible, 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 instance 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
them with a greater degree of astonishment, than if they did not exceed
the reach of a finite 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 forth the
Creator’s praise? Or must we be able to account for every thing that is
a mystery in nature; or can we not improve it to promote some of the
ends of practical religion, that we are engaged to thereby? May we not
say, with wonder, _O Lord, how manifold are thy works! 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
displayed in the work of redemption, or as contained in scripture, which
is therein said to be an instance of his _manifold wisdom_, Eph. iii.
10. should we not admire it the more, inasmuch as it 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, concerning 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, before we can act; thus we must first
know what it is to worship, love, 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
understanding; but it is one thing to know these things, and another
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

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 tendency, _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 it, 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 condemnation, 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 revelation, 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 _sure,
making wise the simple_, Psal. xix. 7.

(2.) That when the same truths are discovered by the light of nature,
and by divine revelation, the latter tends very much to improve our
ideas: thus when the light 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 cloud 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 suppose,

2. That they intend hereby to depreciate divine revelation, and then the
sense thereof is this; that though the light of nature leads mankind
into such a degree of the knowledge of divine truths, as is sufficient,
in its kind to salvation; so that they, who are destitute of divine
revelation, may thereby understand the terms of acceptance with God, and
the way which, if duly improved, would lead to heaven; yet God was
pleased 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 from those corruptions, or false glosses, which
the perverse reasonings of men have set upon them; whereas we, by
insisting on inexplicable mysteries, which 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 doctrines 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 Trinity. Therefore, since it is principally
designed to overthrow this doctrine, by supposing it to be
unintelligible, and consequently, according to their method of
reasoning, in no sense the object 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 disbelieve,
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 doctrine of the Trinity is otherwise, and
consequently must not be contained in divine revelation, and, as such,
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 contrary to reason,
though it be above it; neither are our reasoning powers, when directed
by scripture-revelation, altogether useless, 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
been 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, namely, that it is an
absurd and irrational doctrine; and that they who maintain it must first
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
nature. 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 might 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 any other
doctrines, which 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
learning, as are to be found among the Anti-trinitarians, have not been
able to do it? But this is nothing to our present argument; therefore we
suppose that a doctrine is contrary to reason, when it contradicts some
of the first principles, which the mind of man cannot but yield its
assent to, as soon as ever it takes in the sense of the words which
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, &c. or when we can prove a thing to
be true to a demonstration, and yet suppose that a contradictory
proposition, in which the words are taken in the same sense, may be
equally true.[80]

(2.) That the doctrine of the Trinity is not contrary to reason. 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 contrary to reason, which
establishes and proves the unity of the Godhead, to say that the divine
nature may be predicated of more than one, inasmuch 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 consequently contrary to reason; and here those words of
the Athanasian Creed are produced, as an instance hereof, namely, that
the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, yet there
are not three Gods, but one God; so, that the Father is Eternal, the Son
is Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal, yet there are not three
Eternals, but one Eternal; and the Father Almighty, the Son Almighty,
and the Holy Ghost Almighty, yet are there not three Almighties, but one
Almighty. This they suppose, though without ground, to be a plain

_Answ._ But to this it may be replied, that when we say 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, we do not
suppose that their duration, or power, are 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 Tritheism lies in a narrow compass: they
say that there is one divine Being, so do we; and to this they 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 consequence they 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 demanded, 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 exclude 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 personality, 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 annexed 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

But have we no ideas at all of the distinct personality of the Father,
Son, and Spirit? To this we may answer; that we 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 applied to men; but, at
the same time, abstract, in our thoughts, every thing from them that
argues imperfection; or, in short, our conceptions hereof proceed in the
same way, as when we think of any of the perfections of the divine
nature: these, as well as the divine personality, are equally
incomprehensible; yet, while we say they are infinitely more than can be
in any creature, we, notwithstanding, 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 doctrines we are to believe, demands our
assent to them, and reason offers a convincing proof that we are under
an indispensable 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 nothing 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 common sense of mankind;
and if it appears that they are not, it proceeds to enquire into those
evidences that may give conviction, 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

Now this may be applied particularly to the doctrine of the Trinity; for
it contains in it no absurdity contradictory to reason, as has been
already proved; and the evidences on which our faith herein is founded
will be farther considered, when we prove it to be a scripture doctrine,
by the express words thereof, agreeable to the mind of the Holy Ghost,
or by just consequences 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 comprehended 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 nature, for then we should certainly be able to
behold some traces or footsteps thereof in the works of creation and
providence, 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 from divine
revelation: likewise, we should never have known that the Spirit, as a
distinct Person 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 scripture. 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 divine 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 were created, otherwise they could not have given that
distinct glory to the Persons in the Godhead that is due to them; and if
we are required, not only to worship the divine Being, but to worship
the Father, Son, and Spirit; and, if this worship is due from 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; therefore they
knew it by the light of nature.

_Answ._ 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, otherwise they could not have
known any thing that related to instituted worship, which, it is plain,
they did. And shall it be reckoned any absurdity to suppose that they
received this doctrine of the Trinity by divine revelation, though we
have no particular account thereof, in that short history which Moses
gives us of things relating to the state of innocency? It is therefore
sufficient 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 something 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
sovereignty.[81] 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,[82] 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 uncertain: 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
scripture, or by conversation with the Jews, of whom a great number
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, Porphyry, and others, they lived in those ages, when
Christianity prevailed in the world, though none of them pretended to be
Christians; and one of them was the most inveterate enemy to
Christianity that lived; 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 Moses, 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 understood a great a deal of it, but
have made use of this, as an answer to the Anti-trinitarian objection
before mentioned, that the doctrine of the Trinity is unintelligible;
and they have taken a great deal of pleasure in accounting for this
doctrine in such a way as these philosophers have done:[83] 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
when 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 number, or in the number three. But this is too
gross to be particularly mentioned, lest it should give us an unbecoming
idea of this divine mystery, or of those who have better arguments than
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 detrimental to it;
and, as a late learned divine observes, has tended only to pervert the
simplicity of the Christian faith with mixtures of philosophy and vain
deceit.[84] 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 rudiments of the world,
and not after Christ_, 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 scheme,
who, in other parts of their writings, appear to be remote from it.[85]

And this leads us to consider the method which some divines have taken,
in using similitudes to explain the doctrine of the Trinity, which, at
best, tend only to illustrate, and not to prove a doctrine: and we can
hardly make use of this method of illustrating 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 hereby we may
see how some have unwarily weakened the cause which they have been
maintaining. Some have taken a similitude 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 resemblance 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 concurring to produce the same effect; such
as the efficient, constitutive 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 itself in a
perpetual course, receiving all it communicates from the fountain. I am
sorry there is occasion to caution any against this method of explaining
the doctrine of the Trinity. But these, and many other similitudes of
the like nature, we find in the writings of some, who consider not what
a handle they give to the common enemy. There are, indeed, in most of
them, three things, which are said, in different 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 consist, 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
darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?_ 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 observed for our
understanding those scriptures, on which 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 observed, we must keep close to
scripture, even to the words thereof, where they are express and
distinct, as to this matter; and to consequences deduced from it, so far
as they are just, and self-evident; and, at the same time, while we are
sensible that we cannot comprehend this mystery, we must take care that
we pretend not to be wise above what is revealed. Now there are some
rules, which may be of use to us, in our enquiries into the sense of
scripture concerning this doctrine; as,

(1.) We must not suppose that the words of scripture, relating
thereunto, are 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 be left in the dark, or led
astray, as to several things contained in this important doctrine. Thus
we are not to suppose that we are 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; or, for want of being
acquainted 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 to ascribe divine honour
where 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 warrant for; neither are
we led by the scriptures to have any notion of a middle being between
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 eternal 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 be 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 Spirit, 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 ascribed 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
to 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, which are brought to support
the contrary; not that we 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 reply 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 contrary scheme of
doctrine. Do they object, that we believe things contrary to reason,
because we assert the incomprehensibleness of divine mysteries? or that
we are Tritheists, because we believe that there are three Persons in
the Godhead, and cannot exactly determine the difference 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 perfections, that denominate him God
in the same sense as the Father is so called? The Socinians found it
very difficult, when the matter was disputed among themselves, to
reconcile their practice with their sentiments, when they worshipped
him, whose Deity they denied. And the Arians will find that this
objection equally 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 low ideas of him, when
denying his proper Deity. These things we only mention occasionally at
present, that it may not be thought that the doctrine of the Trinity is
exposed to greater difficulties than the contrary doctrine, to the end
that they who are not furnished with all those qualifications, which are
necessary for its defence, may not reckon those arguments, by which they
have been convinced of the 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 arguments 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, and therefore shall omit to mention them, among
other arguments 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 doctrine. Therefore
we will not pretend to prove, or peremptorily to determine, that the
doctrine of the Trinity is contained in those words of the Psalmist,
Psal. xxxiii. 6. _By the word of the Lord were 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 upon thee, and give thee peace._ Nor do we lay any stress on
the three-fold repetition of the word _Holy, holy, 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 any time, together with arguments that are more
conclusive, 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 are brought to support 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 they
have only done it in what respects that which is less material.

II. We shall now consider in what sense we are to understand the words
_Trinity_ and _Persons_ in the Godhead; and in what respect the Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost, are said to be one. It is true, the word _Trinity_
is not to be found in scripture, but what we understand by it is plainly
contained therein; therefore we use the word, as agreeable thereunto:
thus we read of the _three that bear record in 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 divine 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 different ways of
thinking, have notwithstanding, in compliance with custom, used the
word, and so far explained it, as that we might understand that they
intend hereby three, who are, in some respect one, though some have not
cared to use the word _Person_; or if they have, it 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 may 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 well have declined 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 Sabellianism, 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
applied to men; but this, as has been before considered, is to be
abstracted from the idea of personality, when applied to the Persons in
the Godhead. These also understand the oneness of these divine 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 Ὁμοουσιοι 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 Ὁμοιος, or
Ὁμοιουσιος, 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 modern
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 metaphysicians and schoolmen, to this effect, that it is a
_suppositum_, endowed with reason; or that it is one entire, individual,
incommunicable, rational subsistence: and when they define Personality,
some tell us, that it is a positive mode of a being terminating and
compleating its substantial nature, and giving incommunicability 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
substance or essence, thought, that to assert that there were three
divine _Hypostases_, was to say 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 heresy, till by a free and mutual
conference, in a synod at Alexandria, 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 allowed, by men of temper on both sides, that either of
the two words might be indifferently used.[86] 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 express themselves with some
dislike; on the one hand, the Socinians, and some among the
Remonstrants, who made very great advances toward their scheme, _viz._
Curcellæus, Episcopius, and others,[87] have complained of clouding this
doctrine with hard words; and the complaint is not altogether
groundless, though it may be their design herein was to substitute such
words 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 worse, had they chose to
have defended it in a more plain intelligible 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 as express our faith in the doctrine of the
Father, Son, and Spirit, being the one God, but distinguished by their
personal properties.[88] And this is that plain sense of the word, which
I shall make use of, in what I shall farther attempt 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 excellencies 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 bridegroom coming 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 Leviathan, 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 understanding and will.

2. Whenever _I_, _thou_, or _he_, are applied to such a subject, they
always connote a person; _I_, a person speaking; _thou_, a person spoken
to; and _he_, or _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 principles of acting, which, from the nature
of the thing, cannot be denominated persons, such expressions are very
easily understood in a figurative sense, which may without any
difficulty be distinguished from the proper one, whereby those who are
so described are denominated persons.

There are some characters which always denote persons, and 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 characters. So that whoever acts with design, and has such-like
characters attributed to him, according to the proper acceptation of the
word, him we call a person; and these characters we shall endeavour to
apply to the Persons in the Godhead, to prove their distinct

But since we are at present only considering the acceptation of words,
we shall briefly observe the difference between a divine and a human
person, when some personal properties, characters, 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 essence 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 respects,
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 individual human nature that is attributed to another, for
then the power and understanding, or the ideas that there are in one
man, would 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 perfections, we say that this
nature is the same individual nature in all of them, though the persons
are distinct, otherwise the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, could not be
said to be truly and properly God, and to have the same understanding,
will, and 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 are; 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 Persons, 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 are the same in
substance, or the one only living and true God.

This leads us to consider in what respect the Father, Son, 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 divine perfections; yea, many
of them will not stick to say, that they are truly and properly God; by
which they mean, that whatever deity is attributed to them in scripture,
by the appointment of the Father, that is, whatever divine authority
they have, this properly belongs to them: but, I think, they will none
of them allow that they have the divine nature in the same sense in
which the Father is said to have it. This is what we shall endeavour to
prove; and more need not be said concerning them, in order to establish
that supreme worship which is due to them, as well as the Father; and,
in order hereto, we shall consider the force of those arguments
contained in one of these answers, and, together with them, the sense of
that scripture, John x. 30. in which our Saviour says, _I and my Father
are one_; as also that other scripture, 1 John v. 7. that _the Father,
the Word, and the Holy Ghost, 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; sometimes we say they are God,
equal with the Father; at other times, that they have the same essential
perfections. To which, it may 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, &c. of the Son and Spirit are equal to the same
perfections, as ascribed to the Father: but when we speak of them as
distinct Persons, 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 understood, when we say the Son and
Holy Ghost are each of them God, or divine Persons, equal with the

III. We shall prove that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are distinct
persons in the Godhead, by applying what has been but now observed, by
which any one may, by our common mode of speaking, be denominated a
person; and to this we shall add something concerning those personal
properties, mentioned in one of the answers we are explaining, with
respect to the eternal generation of the Son, and the procession of the
Holy Ghost. And,

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[90] 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 beginning was the word_, that is, _reason, and by
him_, 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 gives to it, is, that it signifies no more a quality,
than if we should translate it, _The word_, as 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.

It appears, therefore, that the Son is a distinct Person from the

(1.) Inasmuch as we often read, in scripture, of two divine Persons
speaking to, or of, one another, the distinguishing personal characters,
_I_, _thou_, and _he_, being applied to them: thus it is said, Psal. cx.
1. _The Lord_, that is the Father, _said unto my Lord_, namely the Son,
_sit thou at my right-hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool_:
this may be observed throughout the whole Psalm; thus, ver. 3. _Thy
people shall be willing_; and ver. 6. _He_, meaning the Son, _shall
judge among the heathen_; and ver. 7. _He shall drink of the brook in
the way_; so Psal. xlv. 2. speaking of the Son, _Thou art fairer than
the children of men_; and ver. 6. _Thy throne, O God, is for ever and
ever_. The places of scripture, which have such modes of speaking
concerning the Son, are almost innumerable; and therefore we proceed to

(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 following head, it certainly denotes him a Person
distinct from the Father; so does his being sent into the world by the
Father, which expression 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 everlasting Father_; and
often described as a prophet, priest, or king; or _Lord of all_, or the
_Prince of peace_, or the _Prince of the kings of the earth_; all these
characters sufficiently prove his personality; and all those works which
he performs, as sustaining these relations 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 mediatorial
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 therefore proceed,

2. To prove 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, according 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 considered; these set aside all those proofs,
that may be produced from scripture, to evince his personality, which
are so plain and evident, that many of them have dissented from Socinus
herein, and owned the Spirit 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
expresses 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 ministers, 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.[91]”

Now we shall prove the personality 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 evidently appears from hence that he is a person: thus
when it is said, in John xvi. 8. that _when he_, to wit, _the Comforter
is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness and
judgment_; and also, that _he will guide you into all truth; he shall
shew you things to come_, &c. And in John xiv. 16, 17. there is the
distinct personality of the three persons, and particularly of the Holy
Ghost, asserted; _I will 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 my
name, he shall teach you all things._[92]

It is certain, that to be said to teach, or to instruct, is a personal
character; so it is to speak, or to dictate, to another what he should
say; but this he is said to do, as our Saviour says to his disciples,
_Whatever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye; for it is not
you that speak, but the Holy Ghost_, Mark xiii. 11.

Moreover, to witness, or testify, is a personal character; especially
when the testimony is not merely objective, as when Job calls his
_wrinkles and his leanness a witness_ against him, Job xvi. 8. But when
there is a formal testimony given, he that gives it is, according to our
common way of speaking, generally considered as a person; and thus the
Holy Ghost is described, Acts v. 32. _We are his witnesses of these
things, and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey
him._ 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 and afflictions abide

Again, dwelling is a personal character; no one ever supposes 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 personality, it is said, 1 Cor. vi. 19.
_Your 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 is attributed
to the Holy Ghost, Acts xiii. 4. _The apostles being sent forth by the
Holy Ghost, departed._

Again, acting with a sovereign will 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 us._

Again, prohibiting, or forbidding, a person to act, is a personal
character; but this is applied to the Holy Ghost, Acts xvi. 6. _The
apostles were 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 this 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, I humbly conceive, sufficient to prove the thing intended,
that the Holy Ghost is a person. I have 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 his deity.[93]

_Object._ It will be objected, by those who are favourers of the
Sabellian scheme, that the characters which we have laid down, to prove
the personality of the Son, and Holy Ghost, are not Sufficient to answer
that end; inasmuch as they are oftentimes applied, in a metaphorical
way, to those things which no one supposes to be persons, and therefore
that they may be taken 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
described with personal characters, which are not really persons. Thus
Job xxxix. 11, 12. speaking concerning the unicorn, it is said; _Wilt
thou trust him? Wilt thou leave thy labour to him? Wilt thou believe
him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?_ So
concerning the horse, it is said, as though he acted with design, as an
intelligent creature, ver. 21. &c. _He goeth on to meet the armed men;
he mocketh 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. &c. _Will he make many supplications to thee? Will he speak soft
words unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? He esteemeth iron as
straw, and brass as rotten wood. Darts are counted as stubble; he
laugheth 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 metaphorical sense; and sometimes they are applied to inanimate
creatures. Thus Job xxxviii. 28, &c. _Hath the rain a father? and who
hath begotten the drops of dew? Out of whose womb came the ice? and the
hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? Canst thou bind the sweet
influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring
forth Mazzaroth in his season, or canst thou guide Arcturus with 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 these are described, as though they were persons. So
ver. 35. _Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto
thee, here we are?_ Again, the powers and faculties of the soul of man
have sometimes personal characters ascribed to them. Thus, conscience is
said _to bear witness_, Rom. ix. 1. And some instances may be brought
from scripture of a person’s speaking to himself; yet this doth not
connote two persons in man, one speaking, and the other spoken to. It is
therefore 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.

_Answ._ In answer to this objection, several things may be considered.

1. Though the scripture often uses figurative, and particularly
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 capable 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 characters are
attributed to things which are not persons, in a metaphorical sense, are
in the poetical books thereof; or in some particular places, where there
is a peculiar beautiful mode of speaking taken 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 characters before mentioned are given to the Son and Holy
Ghost, throughout the whole scripture, without designing to use a lofty,
figurative, or uncommon way of speaking, as in the instances before

3. We must not suppose that the Holy Ghost uses any figurative ways of
speaking, so as to cast a veil on plain truths, or to endanger our being
led hereby out of the way, as we should certainly be, if so many hundred
places of scripture, in which these personal characters are applied to
the Son and Spirit, were to be taken in a metaphorical sense, without
any intimation given in the context that they are so to be understood.
And it will be certainly very difficult to find out any place in
scripture, that may serve to direct us in our application of these
characters, _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 observe that the
most important truths are laid down in the plainest 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
universally wrapt up 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 expressed in such a
way, as that we should be at the greatest uncertainty 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 understanding and will, and therefore are not rendered
incapable of having personality ascribed to them, as signified by these

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 Godhead, any otherwise
than as the Godhead, which is common to be Father, Son, and Spirit, is
often described as though it were a Person; and if ever _Personality_ 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 occasionally applied, 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 action referred to, and variety of works
performed, which must certainly be taken in a most proper sense. Thus,
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 application
thereof: and when each of them is described as standing in those
relations to men, which are founded in the performance 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 taken in a figurative sense, we 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 unbegotten; 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. This is certainly one of the most
difficult heads of divinity that can be insisted on; and some have made
it more so, by their attempting to explain it. I have sometimes thought
that it would be the safest and most eligible way, to pass it over, as a
doctrine less necessary to be understood; but since there are several
scripture-expressions, on which it is founded, which we ought to pay the
greatest deference 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 Trinity, which we
are endeavouring 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, who are unacquainted with those modes
of speaking, used by the fathers and schoolmen, understand those
scriptures upon which this doctrine is founded.

And here we shall give a brief account of what we apprehend to be the
commonly received sentiments of divines, who, in 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 Trinity; 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 generally
described as being from the Father, and many chuse to express themselves
about this mystery in these 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 divine 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 foreign 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, who use this
expression, suppose that the Son’s Deity is founded on the arbitrary
will of the Father; for they all assert that the divine 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 proper sense thereof; so that all they can be blamed for
herein, by the adversary, is impropriety of expression.

Again, others speak a little more exceptionally, when, explaining the
eternal generation of the Son, they say that the Father produced him:
but this idea they also happily explain away; and therefore say it is
not such a production, where the cause produces the effect, though some
of the fathers, who have been in the Trinitarian scheme, have unwarily
called the Father the cause of the Son; yet our modern divines seldom,
or never, use that expression, or if they speak of an eternal
production, they suppose it vastly differs from the production of all
creatures, or from that sense in which the Arians suppose the Son to be
produced by him; but certainly this expression had better 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 communicated 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 _Spiration_: 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 we are pretty much in the dark about the reason of this mode
of speaking, 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 very warm dispute between the Greek
and Latin church; whether the Spirit proceeded 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 understood 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 of them were so produced, as that they may
be called effects; and they 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
impropriety of expression, as can hardly be defended; and it is much
better to explain away the proper and grammatical sense of words, than
to corrupt the truth; however, I would not copy after them in this mode
of speaking.

Moreover, some have pretended to determine the difference between the
eternal generation of the Son and the Spirit’s procession; 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 generation of the Son, the Father communicated
the divine essence, or, at least, personality to him, which is his act
alone, and herewith he communicated a property, or power, to him, to
communicate the same divine essence to the Holy Ghost; whereas, when the
Holy Ghost is said to proceed from the Father and the Son, there is no
power therewith conveyed to him to communicate 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 communication of the divine
essence, though it will probably be thought that I do not say enough
concerning it, yet I hope that, in other respects, none will conclude
that I advance any thing subversive of the doctrine of the Trinity, when
I assert that the divine essence is communicated, not by the Father to
the Son and Holy Ghost, as imparting or conveying it to them; but take
the word _communicate_ in another sense, namely, that all the
perfections of the divine nature are communicated, that is, equally
attributed to, or predicated of, the Father, Son, and Spirit; this sense
of the word is what some intend when they say the human 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, τα παιδια κεκοινωνηκε σαρκος και
αιματος, which we render, the children were partakers of flesh and
blood, might be rendered, as in the vulgar Latin version,
_Communicaverunt carni & sanguini_, _i. e._ they have the human nature
communicated to, and predicated of, them, or they are truly and properly
men. And it is in this sense that we use the word, when we say that the
different properties of the divine and human nature are communicated to,
that is, predicated of, the Person of Christ, which divines generally
call a communication of properties. In this sense I would be understood,
when I say that the divine perfections are communicated to, or
predicated of, the Father, Son, and Spirit; and this all who maintain
the doctrine of the Trinity will allow of. The other sense of
communication, _viz._ imparting, conveying, or giving the divine
essence, I shall be very 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.[97] And the difficulties that attend their
asserting either the one or the other of them, which they, who enquire
into these matters, take notice of, I shall entirely pass over, as
apprehending that this doctrine receives no advantage by such

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 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 eternity; or whether he derives
both his Sonship and his essence; the former of which is the most
generally received opinion. But I am not desirous to enter into this
enquiry, especially without first determining 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 generation of the Son,
and procession of the Holy Ghost, whether they are each of them
self-existent, or, as some call it, αυτοθεος; 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 personal property, as he is distinguished from the Son and Holy
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; notwithstanding 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 similitudes 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, whom, in other respects, I cannot but exceedingly value,
as having 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 service 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, powers, 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 beholds the image of himself; this, say they,
illustrates the eternal generation of the Son, as God beholding himself,
or his divine perfections, begets an image of himself, or has an eternal
idea of his own perfections in his mind, which is called his internal
word, as opposed to the word spoken, which is external; by this they
express the generation of the Son, for which reason 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 mutual joy and delight that there is between the Father and the
Son: these explications many are at a loss to understand; and we humbly
conceive it would be much better to let them alone, and confess this
doctrine to be an inexplicable mystery, or else some other way may 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

1. To prove the eternal generation of the Son, there are several
scriptures referred to, particularly that in which the Father is
represented as speaking to him, in Psal. ii. 7. _Thou art my Son; this
day have I begotten thee_; that is, say they, I have, in my eternal,
unsuccessive duration, communicated, or imparted, 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 way, before his works of old. I was set up from
everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was; before the
mountains were settled; before the hills was I brought forth._ Where
they suppose that God’s possessing him, which is certainly to be taken
in a different sense from his being the possessor of all creatures, is
to be understood of his being God’s proper Son by nature; and his being
said to be brought forth, they suppose, proves his eternal generation.

Another scripture brought to the same purpose is that in Micah v. 2.
speaking of the Son, it is said, _His goings 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.

Moreover, 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, by first-born,
they understand, that he was begotten before all worlds: the divine
essence, or, at least, personality, being communicated to him from

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 himself originally, so the Son
hath these perfections, by communication from him; which they suppose
not to be an arbitrary, but a necessary, donation.

Again, this is farther proved, from John i. 17. where he is said to be
_the only begotten Son of the Father_. And ver. 18. _The only begotten
Son, who is in the bosom of the Father._ From the former of which
scriptures they prove the eternal generation of the Son; and from the
latter, his being begotten in the divine essence, which distinguishes it
from all finite productions, which are out of himself.

Moreover, there are many other scriptures that speak of our 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_, ἱδιος υιος,
which some render, _his proper Son_, that is, not only his Son, who has
the same divine nature with himself, but as implying also the manner of
its communication; 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 procession of the Holy Ghost, in the sense before explained.
Thus he is said, in John xv. 26. to be _sent by the Son from the
Father_; and _to proceed from the Father_; where they suppose that this
proceeding from the Father signifies 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 of his Son_;
and, in John xvi. 7. our Saviour says, _I will send him unto you_, and
ver. 14. _He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you_; these
scriptures, if 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 all 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_; which
external sign, or symbol, used in the act of conferring him on them in
time, proves his procession from him from eternity; as a temporal
procession supposes an eternal one.

These are the scriptures which are generally brought to prove this
doctrine. But we shall take occasion to enquire, whether there may not
be another sense given thereof, which is less liable to exception, as
well as more intelligible. It is to be owned, that they contain some of
the deep things of God; and therefore it is no wonder, if they are
reckoned among those scriptures that are hard to be understood: but so
far as I have any light, either from the context of the respective
scriptures, or the analogy of faith, I cannot but conclude that these,
and all others of the like nature, that are brought to prove the eternal
generation, or Sonship of Christ, respect him as God-man, Mediator;[98]
and those other scriptures, that speak of the procession of the Holy
Ghost, respect the subserviency of his acting as a divine Person to the
Mediator’s glory, in applying the work of redemption.

And here we shall consider these scriptures in particular; and then
answer some objections that may be brought against this sense thereof,
whereby, I hope, it will appear, that we assert nothing but what tends
to the glory of the Son and Spirit, establisheth the doctrine of the
ever-blessed Trinity, and agrees 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 supported by the reputation of those who have used them; though it
may be, those scriptures will be otherwise understood by them, who
regard explications that are merely human, no farther than they are

The first scripture before mentioned, which was brought to prove the
eternal generation of the Son, was Psal. ii. 7. _Thou art my Son, this
day have I begotten thee._ This cannot, I humbly conceive, respect the
communication of the divine nature, or personality to the Son, as
appears from the words immediately foregoing, in which it is said, _I
will declare the decree_, or what I had before decreed, or determined.
Far be it from us to suppose that the divine nature, or personality, of
the 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 result
hereof, the Father is said, ver. 8. to give him _the heathen for his
inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession_;
and all this is spoken of him, as a farther explication 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 _having, by inheritance, obtained a more excellent name than the
angels_; which he has done, as he is constituted heir of all things: and
he subjoins that promise, _I will be to him a Father, and 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 revenues of Mediatorial glory on him, that should ensue
on his fulfilling it. Moreover, 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 fulfilled the same unto their
children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again, as it is written in the
second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee_. So that
it is plain the Psalmist speaks of him as having finished his work of
redemption, at which time he was raised from the dead; and then, in the
fullest sense, he had the _heathen for his inheritance_. And, upon this
account, he is also called, in Rev. i. 5. _The first begotten of the
dead_; and, in Col. i. 18. _The first-born from the dead._

The next scripture brought to prove the eternal generation of the Son,
in Prov. viii. 22, 23, 25. refers to Christ, as Mediator; when God is
said to _possess him in the beginning of his way_, the meaning is, that
in his eternal design oi 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, _I was set up 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. _I was daily his delight_, that is, God the
Father was well pleased with him, when foreseeing from all eternity what
he would do in time, to secure the glory of his perfections in the
redemption of man, as God publicly testified his well-pleasedness in
him, when he was actually engaged in this work. And it is farther added,
_That he was always rejoicing before him; rejoicing in the habitable
part of his earth, and his delights were with the sons 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 with 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 everlasting_. For the
understanding of which scripture, let us consider, that God’s goings are
sometimes taken in scripture for what he does, whereby he renders
himself the object of his people’s astonishment and praise; these are
his visible goings. Thus, Psal. lxvi. 24. _They have seen thy goings, O
God, even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary_; that is,
they shall see the great things 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 secret purposes, or designs of grace, relating
to the redemption of his people: _His goings forth were from
everlasting_; that is, he did, from eternity, design to save them; the
outgoings of his heart were towards them, and, as the result hereof, he
came into the world according 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 his_, that is, his Father’s _glory, and the express image
of his person_. By the former expression, I humbly conceive, is meant,
that the glory of the divine perfections shines forth most illustriously
in Christ, our great Mediator, as the apostle expresses it elsewhere, 2
Cor. iv. 6. _God hath shined in our hearts, to give the knowledge of his
glory, in the face of Jesus Christ._ By the latter expression, in which
Christ is called _the express image of his Person_, I humbly 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 proper
divine Personality, as being, in all respects, like that of the Father,
though not the same.

The next scripture 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 to have life in
himself_ implies his giving him the divine perfections, for the
propriety of that mode of speaking cannot be defended consistently with
his proper underived Deity. But I humbly conceive that the meaning of it
is this; that _as the Father 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 Mediator, 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 character and office, as
Mediator, and with what follows, ver. 24. where it is said; _Verily,
verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him
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 authority to
execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man_; which plainly
denotes, that this life, which he has received from the Father, is that
eternal 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 _full of grace and truth_; and Col. i. 19. _It pleased
the Father that in him should all fulness dwell._

The next thing to be considered, is the sense of those many scriptures,
in which our Saviour is described as the _Son of God_, 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 humbly conceive, sets
forth his glory, as Mediator, which we shall endeavour to prove. But, to
prepare our way for the prosecution of this argument, as well as to
prevent any misconstruction that might give prejudice thereunto, we
shall take leave to premise,

1. That when we read of the Son of God, as dependent on the Father,
inferior and obedient to him; and yet, as being equal with him, and
having the same divine nature, we cannot conceive of any character which
answers to all these ideas of sonship, unless that of a Mediator. If we
consider the properties of sonship among men, every one who stands in
this relation to a Father is dependent on him. In this respect, the
father is the cause of his son, and it is not like other productions,
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
sonship always connotes inferiority, and an obligation to yield
obedience. I do not apply this, in every respect, to the Sonship of
Christ, which no similitude, taken from mere creatures, can sufficiently
illustrate; but his character, as Mediator, seems to answer to it, more
than any thing else that can be said of him, since he has, as such, the
same individual nature 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, Mal. i. 6. _Honoureth 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 glory, 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 account of Christ’s Sonship does not take away any argument, by
which we 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
belongs to him as much, when considered as Mediator, as it can be
supposed to do, if we consider his Sonship in any other respect.

3. It does not take away any argument to prove his distinct Personality
from the Father and Holy Ghost, or, at least, if it sets aside that
which is taken from the dependence of his Personality on the Father, as
received from him by communication, it substitutes another in the room
of it, inasmuch as to be a Mediator is, without doubt, a personal
character; and because neither the Father, nor the Holy Ghost, can be
said to be Mediators, it implies, that his Personality is distinct from
theirs; likewise his acting as Mediator from the Father; and the Holy
Spirit’s securing the glory which arises to him from hence, 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 of his two natures,
considered separately.

(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 common idea that we have among men.
They, as sons, are said to have the 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_, ιδιος υιος, yet this is not his distinguishing character
as a Son: for it would follow from hence, that the Holy Ghost, who has
the same nature with the Father, would, for that reason, be called his
Son, which 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 partakers 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
miraculous conception, or formation, of his human nature in the womb of
the Virgin; and for this they refer to that scripture in Luke i.
35.[101] _The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the
highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that Holy Thing, which
shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God_. The sense, in
which 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 support 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_, &c. _because that Holy Thing, which shall be born of thee,
shall be called_, as he really is, _the Son of God_; that is, he is as
Mediator, an extraordinary Person appointed to execute a glorious
office, the Godhead and the manhood being to be united together, upon
which account he is called the Son of God: and therefore it is expedient
that the formation of his human nature should be in an 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 infinitely 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, we have the whole scripture, whenever it
speaks of Christ, as the Son of God, as giving countenance to this plain
sense thereof; 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
sufficient 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-mentioned, in Matth. xvi.
16. where Peter confesses, _Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God_;
in which, speaking of him as Christ, or the Mediator, that is, the
Person who was invested in 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
supposed to be by thy followers? Our Saviour, in ver. 64. replied to
him, _Thou hast said_, that is, it is as thou hast 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 second coming,
ver. 64. _Nevertheless, I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son
of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of
heaven._ And, doubtless, the centurion, and they who were with him, when
they confessed that _he was 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 devils are
represented as crying out, _Thou art Christ, the Son of God_, it
follows, _that they knew that he was Christ_; so that the commonly
received notion of our Saviour’s Sonship 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 represents
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
world._ 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 doctrine, it is said, that _he proved that he was
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 gives a public testimony to him, as sustaining such
a character, which belongs to him, as Mediator, when he says, _Behold
the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world_; and
afterwards, referring to the same character, he says, ver. 34. _I saw,
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 calls him, _The Bridegroom which hath the bride_, that is, who
is related to, and has a propriety, in his church, and that _he
testifies what he has seen and heard_, and that it is _he whom God hath
sent, who speaks the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by
measure unto him_; and then, as a farther explication hereof, he says,
ver. 35. _The Father loveth the Son, 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 own house, whose 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 Son of God, whom we are
to wait for from heaven; whom he has raised from the dead, even Jesus,
which delivered us from the wrath to come_; 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 Son_, and, at the same time,
as having a kingdom, into which his people are translated; and in the
following verse, as the person _in whom we have redemption, through his
blood, who 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 Father; this
appears, from the context, to be a description of him as Mediator. Thus,
John xx. 17. he says, _I ascend unto my 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 you 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 apostle says, 2
Cor. i. 3. _Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;
the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort._

_Object._ 1. In these scriptures, and others of the like nature, there
are two ideas contained; namely, one of our Saviour, as the Son of God,
by eternal generation; the other of him, as Mediator; whereas we suppose
that one contains only an explication of the other.

_Answ._ If Christ’s Sonship, in the sense in which it is generally
explained, were sufficiently proved from other scriptures, which take no
notice of his mediatorial character, or works, or could be accounted
for, without being liable to the difficulties before-mentioned, and if
his character, as Mediator, did not contain in it an idea of
Personality, the objection would have more weight than otherwise it
seems to have.

_Object._ 2. It is said, Gal. iv. 4. _God sent forth his Son, made of a
woman, made under the law_; 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 generation.

_Answ._ The answer I would give to this objection is,

1. It is not necessary to suppose that Christ had the character of a Son
before he was sent, though he had that of a divine 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

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
Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which 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 Mediator; 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.

_Answ._ The stress of the objection lies in the word which we render
_though_, Και περ ων υιος &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 it is in the vulgar Latin version, _And,
indeed, being a Son, he learned obedience_[102], and then it proves the
argument we are endeavouring 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 suffering as
Mediator, and thereby securing the glory of the divine perfections in
bringing about the work of our redemption, he acted in pursuance of that

_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, which seem derogatory to his Person;
particularly, it will follow from hence, that had not man fallen, and
stood in need of a Mediator, our Saviour would not have had that
character, and therefore never have been described as the Son of God, or
worshipped 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 Mediator is, by divine ordination and
appointment, according to the tenor of several scriptures relating
thereunto; and I see no absurdity 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 work 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 necessary with his Deity, which, if it be not communicated
to him, certainly it has not the least appearance of being the result of
the divine will; and, indeed, his divine personality is the only
foundation of his right to be adored, and not his being invested in an
office, which only draws forth, or occasions our adoration. When we
speak of Christ’s being adored, as Mediator, it is his divine
personality, which is included in that character, that renders him the
object 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,
communicated to him, will 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 personality, which is included in
that character, that renders 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 intimation hereof, and
adored him as such; so that if Christ had not been Mediator, it would
only follow from thence, that he would not have had the character of a
Son, but he would, notwithstanding, have had the glory of a divine
Person; for though his sonship be the result of the divine will, his
personality is not so.[103]

Having enquired into the sense of those scriptures which treat of the
Sonship of Christ, we shall next consider those that are generally
brought to prove the procession of the Holy Ghost; the principal of
which, as has been before observed, are in 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 in Christ’s name_, or to be _sent by the Son_. We
have already considered the most commonly received sense hereof, as
including in it an eternal procession, _viz._ the communication of the
divine essence, or personality to him, as distinguished from the eternal
generation of the Son; but now we shall enquire whether there may not be
another sense given of these scriptures, agreeable to the analogy of
faith, that may be acquiesced in by those, who cannot so well
understand, or account for, the common sense given thereof, which, I
humbly conceive, is this: that the Spirit is considered not with respect
to the manner of his subsisting, but with respect to the subserviency of
his acting, to set forth the Mediator’s glory, and that of the Father
that sent him. I chuse to call it a subserviency of acting, without
connoting any inferiority in the agent; or if we suppose that it argues
any inferiority in the Holy Spirit, this is only an inferiority in
acting, as the works that he does are subservient to the glory of the
Mediator, and of the Father, though his divine personality is, in all
respects, equal with theirs. This explication of these texts, is allowed
of by many, if not by most, of those who defend the doctrine of the
Trinity, notwithstanding their maintaining another notion of the
Spirit’s procession from the Father and the Son, from all eternity, in
the sense before considered. I need only refer to that explication which
a great and learned divine gives of these, and such like texts,
notwithstanding his adhering, in other respects, to the common mode of
speaking, relating to the eternal generation of the Son, and procession
of the Holy Ghost. His words are these[106]: “All that discourse which
we have of the mission, and sending of the Holy Ghost, and his
proceeding and coming forth from the Father and Son, for the ends
specified, John xiv. 26. and xv. 26. and xvi. 7, 13. concerns not at all
the eternal procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and Son, as to
his distinct personality and subsistance, but belongs to that œconomy,
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 all the New Testament,
on which this doctrine is founded, are to be taken in this sense, how
shall we find a sufficient 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 purchased, as being sent by the Father for that end, is
applied by the Holy Ghost, who therefore acts in subserviency to them.
This is generally called, by divines, the œconomy 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 applied 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 œconomy, 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 reverence, which this sacred mystery calls
for, they represent us, as speaking of the family-government of the
divine Persons, which is the most invidious sense they could put upon
the word, and most remote from our design in the use of it. Now 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 all the Persons in the Godhead, and
attributed to them in scripture; the reason whereof 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 produced must be equally ascribed to them; so that the Father is
no more said to create and govern the world, or to be the author of all
grace, and the fountain of blessedness, than the Son and Spirit.

2. Nevertheless, since the Father, Son, and Spirit, are distinct
Persons, and so have distinct personal considerations in acting, it is
necessary that their personal glory should be demonstrated, 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 commission from him to redeem and
save his people, and then to the Holy Ghost, acting in subserviency
thereunto; this is what we are to understand when we speak of the
distinct œconomy of the Father, Son, and Spirit, which I cannot better
express than by considering of it as a divine determination, that the
personal glory of the Father, Son, and Spirit, should be demonstrated in
such a way. Now, to instance in some particular 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 œconomic
sense, inasmuch as, by this means, he demonstrates his personal glory:
thus it is said, Eph. i. 4, 5. _He_, _i. e._ the Father, _hath chosen us
in him_, namely, the Son; and _he_ is said to have _predestinated us
unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ_. Though election and
predestination are also applied to the Son and Spirit, when they have
another reference corresponding with the demonstration of their personal
glory, yet, in this place, they are only applied to the Father. And
there are several other scriptures, in which things done are
particularly applied to the Father for the same reason. Thus, 2 Cor. v.
18, 19. it is said, _God hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ_,
and that _he was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself_; and, in 1
Cor. i. 30. it is said, _Of him_, namely the Father, _are ye in Christ
Jesus, who of God_, that is, the Father, _is made unto us wisdom_, &c.
in which, and several other scriptures 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 Mediator 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, which he had received from him, and accordingly performing
any act of obedience in an human nature assumed by him for that purpose,
this is peculiarly applied to, and designed to demonstrate the Son’s
Personal character, as belonging to no other Person in the Godhead but
him. Of this we have several instances in scripture; thus 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 understand that scripture, John v. 22. _The Father judgeth no
man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son_; that is, the Son is
the only Person in the Godhead who displays his Mediatorial character
and glory, 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 world 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 consequently
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 power, or authority, from another, to
confer this privilege as Mediator, then it is peculiarly applied to the
Son: thus John xvii. 2. _Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that
he should give eternal life to as many 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 shew it unto you_, this is
peculiarly applied to the Spirit. So 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 peculiarly applied to him; or when he is said
to sanctify and comfort, or to seal and confirm believers unto the day
of 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 especially applied to him. This is
what we understand by that peculiar œconomy, or dispensation, which
determines us to give distinct personal glory to each of the Persons in
the Godhead.

And now 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 said unto him, We have not so much as
heard whether there be any 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 they had not heard that there was such an extraordinary
dispensation of the gifts of the Holy Ghost conferred on men; so John
vii. 39. it is said, _The Holy Ghost was not yet given_, because Jesus
was not yet glorified; the word _given_ being supplied in our
translation, and not in the original; it ought rather to be rendered,
_The Holy Ghost was 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 Personality, 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 will guide you into all truth_, where the Personal character
of the Spirit 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 beareth witness_, which ought to have been
rendered _Himself_; as also in ver. 26. _The Spirit itself maketh
intercession for us._ The same ought to be observed in all other
scriptures, whereby we may be led to put a just difference between the
Spirit, considered as a divine Person; or as acting, or producing those
effects, which are said to be wrought by him.

Thus concerning the Sonship of Christ, and the procession of the Holy
Ghost. What I have said, in 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 Father and the Son, does not, as I
apprehend, run counter to the common faith of those who have 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
Ghost, 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 Spirit, in subserviency to
him, will not be contested by those who defend the doctrine of the
Trinity. And, if I have a little varied from the common way of speaking,
I hope none will be offended at the acceptation of a word, especially
since I have endeavoured to defend my sense thereof, by referring to
many scriptures. And, if I cannot give into the common explication of
the eternal generation of the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost,
I am well satisfied I do no more than what many Christians do, who have
received the doctrine of the Trinity from the scripture, and are
unacquainted with those modes of speaking which are 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 the 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 works
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 with the Father. These heads of argument we shall apply to them
distinctly; and,

_First_, To the Son, who 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 concerning the use of names given to
persons, together with the design thereof. Names are given to persons,
as well as things, with a twofold design.

1. Sometimes nothing else is intended thereby, but to distinguish one
from another, in which sense the names given are not in themselves
significant, or expressive of any property, or quality, in those that
are so described. Thus most of those names we read of in scripture,
though not all of them, are designed only to distinguish one man from
another, which is the most common use and design thereof;

2. They 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 called by names, which have had some
special signification annexed 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 respective 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 designed to express some
excellency and perfection belonging to him; and therefore we 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, _First_, that the name Jehovah is peculiar 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 Lord_, 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, _will I not give to
another_: therefore it follows, that it is an incommunicable name of
God: and when he says, _I will 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 displayed in the works of creation and
providence, he adds, _that the Lord_, or Jehovah, _is his name_, chap.
v. 8. So that those works, which are peculiar to God, might as well be
applied to creatures, as that name Jehovah, which is agreeable
thereunto. And in chap. ix. 6. the prophet gives another magnificent
description of God, with respect to those works that are peculiar 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 calleth for the waters
of the sea, and poureth 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. lxxxiii. 18. _That men may know, that thou,
whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth._ This
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 Jehovah is applied
to God, and an explication thereof subjoined, which argues that it is
peculiar to him. Thus when Moses desired 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
faith and worship; or how he might describe him in such a way to the
children of Israel, whereby they might express that reverence and regard
to him, that was due to the great God, who sent him about so important
an errand. In answer to which God says, ver. 14. _I AM THAT I AM. Thus
shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM_ hath 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,
_Thou 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 with _I AM THAT I AM_. And he adds, _This is my memorial unto all
generations_; therefore this glorious name is certainly peculiar to God.

What has been already observed, under this head, is sufficient 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 being never designed to signify any more than the one God;
neither has it any emphatical particle affixed to it, as other words in
the Hebrew language have; and particularly several of the other names of
God, which distinguishes him from others; who have those names sometimes
applied to them; and the reason of this is, because the name Jehovah is
never given to any creature.

And to this we might add, that since the Jews best understood their own
language, they may, in some respects, be depended 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 describe it. Sometimes they call it, _that name_, or _that glorious
name_, or _that name that is not to be expressed_;[107] by which they
mean, as Josephus says,[108] that it was not lawful for them to utter
it, or, indeed, to write it, which, if any one presumed to do, they
reckoned him not only guilty of profaneness, in an uncommon degree, but
even of blasphemy; and therefore it is never found in any writings of
human composure among them. The modern Jews, indeed, are not much to be
regarded, as retaining 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-Uzziel, who is supposed to have lived as many years before it, never
insert it in their writings; and, doubtless, 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 pronounced, even in the earliest ages
of the church, except by the High Priest; and when he was obliged, by
the divine law, to pronounce it, in the form of benediction, the people
always expressed an uncommon degree of reverence, either by bowing, or
prostration; but this is not supported by sufficient evidence. Others
think it took its rise soon after their return from captivity, which is
more probable; however, the reason they assign 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 mentioned by Aristæus, which was compiled
almost three hundred years before the Christian Æra, is, without doubt,
of considerable antiquity; these never translate the word JEHOVAH, but,
instead thereof, put Κυριος, Lord;[109] and, even when it seems absurd
not to do it, as in Exod. vi. 3. when it is said, by my name, JEHOVAH,
was I not known, they render it, by my name, the LORD, was I not

This we take occasion to observe, not as supposing it is a sufficient
proof 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 incommunicable, name of

_Object._ 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 does it evince our Saviour’s Deity, when given to
him. To prove that it is sometimes given to creatures, 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 Jireh_; 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 carried up into the city of
David, when it is said, Psal. xlvii. 5. _The Lord_, _i. e._ Jehovah _is
gone up with a shout, even the Lord with the sound of a trumpet_, and
also on other occasions. And the name Jehovah is often, in the Old
Testament, given to angels, and therefore not proper to God alone.

_Answ._ 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 Nissi_, 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, containing
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 not given to the
altar, but to God; upon which some, not without good reason, render the
word; he built an altar, and called the name of it, the altar of
_Jehovah Nissi_. The same may be said with respect to the altar erected
by Gideon, which was called _Jehovah Shalom_, 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 which 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 Abraham any right to apply to it any branch of the
divine glory, as signified thereby; 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 remarkable in future ages, as it
shall be the mount of vision; here Jehovah will eminently appear in his
temple, which shall be built in this place. Or if you take the words in
another sense, _viz._ _God will 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 occasion, from what was done here, to
magnify him, who appeared to him, and held his hand, whom alone he calls

And to this we may add, that when Jerusalem is called _Jehovah Shammah,
the Lord is there_, the meaning hereof is only this, that it shall
eminently be said in succeeding ages of the new Jerusalem, that _the
Lord is there_; the city, which was commonly known 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 would be with them always, even unto the end of the world_;
and, as the result thereof, that _the gates of hell should not prevail
against it_, Matth. xvi. 18.

3. As for the _ark_; it was not called _Jehovah_, though the Psalmist
takes occasion, from its being carried up into the city of David, with a
joyful solemnity, and an universal shout, with the sound of a trumpet,
to foretel the triumphant and magnificent 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 universal joy to the church;
and then he shall, as the Psalmist farther observes, _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. 33, 34. because, when Aaron is commanded _to lay the pot full of
manna before the testimony_, that 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 _dwell
between the cherubims_; and, upon this account, that which 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 maybe answered, that the ark was not only a sacramental 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 alone to whom the glory was ascribed that is
due to his name.

4. When it is farther objected, that the name Jehovah is often 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, Mal. iii. 1. And
whenever it is given to him, such glorious things are spoken of him, or
such acts of divine worship demanded by and given to him, as argue him
to be a divine Person; as will plainly appear, if we consider what the
angel that appeared, in Exod. iii. says concerning himself, ver. 6. _I
am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the
God of Jacob_; and it is said, Moses _hid his face, for he was afraid to
look upon God_; and in verses 7, 8. _The Lord_, or Jehovah, _said, I
have surely seen the affliction of my people that are in Egypt, and I am
come down to deliver them_; and ver. 10. _I will send thee unto
Pharaoh_; and then, in the following verses, he makes mention of his
name, as of the great _Jehovah_, the _I AM_, who sent him. And Jacob
gives divine worship to him, when he says, Gen. xlviii. 16. _The Angel,
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 writers generally call him
the _Word_[111] 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 Moses, 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 represents, 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,
indeed, 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 appeared to the
church of old, and accordingly John gave him divine 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 therefore 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 that we shall refer to is Isa. xl.
3. _The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way
of the Lord_, or Jehovah, _make Straight in the desert a highway for our
God_. Now if 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
scripture, is called Jehovah. That it is a prediction of John’s being
Christ’s fore-runner, appointed to prepare the Jews for his reception,
and to give them an intimation, that he, whom they 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 was spoken of by the
prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight_; therefore he
whose 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 Jehovah,
_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 Deity; 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 _Vau_, 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 stumbling, and for a rock of offence_, 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 offended, by reason of his appearing in a low condition
therein; but, by comparing it with other scriptures, and particularly
Isa. xxviii. 16. _Behold, I lay in 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 evidently appear. In the
latter of these scriptures, he is styled, a foundation stone, the rock
on which his church is built; in the former a burthensome stone; and
both these scriptures are referred to, and applied to him, 1 Pet. ii. 6,
8. _Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in
Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and a stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offence to them that are disobedient_; 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, _viz._
Numb. xxi. 5, 6, 7. _And the people spake against God, and against
Moses; and the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit
the people, and much people of Israel died; therefore the people came to
Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord_,
or Jehovah, _and against 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
this is expressly applied to our Saviour by the apostle, 1 Cor. x. 9.
_Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were
destroyed of serpents._

Again, the prophet Isaiah, having had a vision of the angels, adoring
and ministering to that glorious Person, who is represented, as sitting
on a throne, in chap. vi. 1, 2. he reflects on what he had seen in ver.
5. and expresses himself in these words, _Mine eyes have seen the King,
the Lord_, or Jehovah, _of hosts_. Now this is expressly applied to our
Saviour, in John xii. 41. _These things said Esaias, when he saw his
glory, and spake of him_; where it is plain that he intends this vision;
as appears from the foregoing verse, which refers to a part thereof, in
which God foretels that he would blind the eyes, and harden the hearts
of the unbelieving Jews; from whence it is evident, that the Person who
appeared to him, sitting on a throne, whom he calls Jehovah, was our

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 in righteousness, and shall not return,
that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. 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, styles
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 will be an undeniable proof of his proper Deity, since
nothing more can be said to express the glory of the Father than this.
Now that these words are spoken of our Saviour, must be allowed by every
one, who 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 Jesse_, that is, the Messiah, who should spring from
the root or stock of Jesse; _which shall stand for an ensign to the
people_, to _it_, 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 looking 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 Saviour, 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 prophecy of his being the judge of the world,
Rom. xiv. 10, 11, 12. _We 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 himself 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 should bow, 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 against whom the
world was incensed, which can be meant of none but Christ, as signifying
the opposition that he should meet with, and the rage and fury that
should be directed against 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 justified_; which very evidently agrees
with the account we have of him in the New Testament, as a person by
whose righteousness we are justified, 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, whereby he shall be called, The Lord_, or
Jehovah, _our righteousness_. His being called our righteousness, as was
but now observed, implies, that the Messiah, our great Mediator, is the
person spoken of, who is called Jehovah. But this is farther evinced
from the context, inasmuch as it is said, ver. 5. _Behold the days
come_, _viz._ the Gospel day, _that I will raise unto David a righteous
branch, and a king shall reign and prosper; and shall execute judgment
and justice in 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 dominion over it proves his
Deity, will be considered under a following head. All 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 name, whereby the Lord our righteousness_, namely,
the Father, _shall call him_.

_Answ._ 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 explained 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 יקראו signifies either
actively or passively, as it is differently pointed, the letters being
the same; and we shall not enter into a critical disquisition 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 will
raise to David a righteous branch; and this is the name whereby 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 grammatical 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. 16. speaking concerning the
church, _This is the name whereby she shall be called, The Lord_, or
Jehovah, _our righteousness_.

_Answ._ It is evident from the context, that this is a parallel
scripture with that before mentioned; the same person, to wit, the
Branch, is spoken of and the same things predicted concerning the gospel
church, that was to be governed by him. Therefore, though it is plain
that our translators understood this text, as spoken of the church of
the Jews or rather the Gospel-Church, as many others do, yet, if we
consider the sense of the Hebrew words here used יקרא לה, 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 Jehovah, in
Joel ii. 27. _And ye shall know that I am the Lord_, _viz._ Jehovah,
_your God, and none else_; compared with ver. 32. _And it shall come to
pass, that whosoever 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 out his Spirit on all flesh_;
&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. 33. to him; _Therefore being by the right hand of God
exalted, and having received of the Father, the promise of the Holy
Ghost, he hath shed forth this which 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, therefore the name Jehovah is justly
applied to him. As to the latter of these verses, _viz._ 32. _Whosoever
shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered_; this also is
referred to, and explained, as spoken of Christ, in Rom. x. 13. And that
the apostle here speaks of calling on the name of Christ, is plain, from
the foregoing and following verses. In ver. 9. it is expressed, 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 prophet Isaiah,
chap. liii. 1. _Who hath believed our report_, &c. intimating that it
was predicted, 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 Jehovah, which are also
applied to him in the New-Testament, some of which may be occasionally
mentioned under some following arguments; but, I think, what hath been
already said is abundantly sufficient to prove his Deity, from his
having this glorious name given to him; which leads us to consider some
other names given to him for 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 are 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 render those scriptures, in which they are contained, like the
trumpet, that gives an uncertain sound, but we should be in the greatest
danger of being led aside into a most destructive mistake, in a matter
of the highest importance, and hereby be induced to give that glory 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 word 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 worshippers; and so they are called strange
gods, Deut. xxxii. 16. and molten gods, Exod. xxxiv. 17. and new gods,
Judges v. 8. and their worshippers are reproved as brutish and foolish,
Jer. x. 8.

Again, when the word God, is applied to men, there is also something in
the context, which implies, that whatever characters of honour are given
to them, yet they are subject to the divine controul; as it is said,
Psal. lxxxii. 1, 6. _God standeth in the congregation of the mighty he
judgeth among the gods_; and they are at best but mortal men; _I have
said ye are gods, 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 divine image, consisting in some lesser branches of
sovereignty and dominion; but this is infinitely below the idea of
sovereignty and dominion, which is contained in the word when applied to
the great God.

It is true, God says to Moses, See, _I have made thee a god to Pharaoh_,
Exod. vii. 1. by which 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 this, that he was
set in God’s stead: thus he is said to be instead of God to Aaron, chap.
iv. 16. and the same expression is used by Elihu to Job, chap. xxxiii.
6. _I am according to thy wish in God’s stead_; so that Moses’s being
made a god to Pharaoh, implies nothing else but this, that he should, by
being God’s minister, in inflicting 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 from them.

Again, when the word God is put absolutely, without any additional
character of 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 intended thereby: thus the Father and
the Son are described in John i. 1. _The Word was with God, and the Word
was God_, and in many other places of scripture; therefore if 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 creatures, and is
given to superiors by their subjects or servants, yet this is also
sufficiently distinguished, when applied to a divine 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 proper Deity; and, in order hereto, we shall consider several
scriptures, 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 determines the sense of these
words, when applied to him. And,

(1.) We shall consider some scriptures in which he is called _Lord_,
particularly, Psal. cx. 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 David 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 from hence, that when the question was put to the
Pharisees, 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 united in one person, so that at the same time he
should be called 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 who, pursuant
to God’s covenant made with him, was to sit and rule upon his throne, 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 be willing in the day of thy power_, speaking of the Person
whom he calls his Lord, who was to be his Son, he plainly infers that he
should exert divine power, and consequently prove himself to be a divine

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 shall waive it at present, and 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 considered, when we speak
concerning his glorious titles, as an argument to prove it; therefore
all that we shall observe at present is, that this is the same character
by which God is acknowledged 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 and terrible_; so that we have as 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 O God, is for ever, and ever_; and there are many
other glorious things spoken of him in that Psalm, which is a farther
confirmation that he, who is here called _God_, is a divine Person, in
the same sense as God the Father is; particularly he is said, ver. 2.
_To be 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 fountain of
compleat blessedness, and _his name_, or glory, _is to be remembered 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
trumphs, which are very agreeable 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 considered as God-man, Mediator, in which respect he is, in
one nature, equal, and, in the other, inferior to him; were it
otherwise, one expression contained in this Psalm would be inconsistent
with, and contradictory 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, refers to these words of the
Psalmist, Heb. i. 8. _Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for
ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy

Again, another proof of our Saviour’s Deity may be taken from Matth. i.
23. _Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall call his name
Emmanuel, 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 with us_, which imports the same thing
as when it is elsewhere said, John i. 14. _The Word was made flesh, and
dwelt among us._ This cannot be applied to any but Christ; to say the
Father is called _Emmanuel_, is such a strain 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 Deity, as when God the Father says, if we suppose that
text to be spoken of him elsewhere, in Exod. xxix. 45. _I will dwell
amongst the children of Israel, and will be their God._

Again, Christ’s Deity is proved, in 1 Tim. iii. 16. from 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_, because 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 elsewhere,
assuming, or taking flesh, as it is here, being manifested therein, and
consequently that he was God before this 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 when it is applied to the

_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 flesh_, &c.

_Answ._ 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 suppose 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, great
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 competition 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 plainly
appear, 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 writers explain it, the will of
God[112], was manifest in the flesh, and received in a glorious manner;
for this is not agreeable to the sense of the Greek words, since it is
plain that εν σαρκι εφανερωθη, which we render _was manifest in the
flesh_, is justly translated, being never used in scripture to signify
the preaching the gospel by weak mortal men, as they understand it: but
on the other hand it is often applied to the manifestation of our
Saviour in his incarnation, and is explained when it is said, John i.
14. that he was _made flesh, and we beheld his glory_[113]; and as for
the gospel, though it met with reception when preached to the Gentiles,
and there were many 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 in this verse agrees to our Saviour,
and not to the mystery of godliness, we are bound to conclude that he is
God manifest in the flesh, and therefore that this objection is of no

The next scripture which we shall consider, is Acts xx. 28. _Feed the
church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood_, 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 have, 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. _He was counted worthy of more glory
than Moses, inasmuch as he who 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 proprietor 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 God, whose Deity
it plainly proves.

_Object._ 1. Some object against this sense of the text, that the word
_God_ 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.

_Answ._ 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 expounding 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 appears 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 blood, as he is the Proprietor of
all things.

_Answ._ 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. According 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 purchased the church thereby, as having a propriety in it.

The next scripture, which proves our Saviour’s Deity, is Rom. ix. 5. _Of
whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed
for ever_; where he is not only called _God_, but _God blessed for
ever_; which is a character too high for any creature, and is the very
same that is given to the Father, in 2 Cor. xi. 31. who is styled, _The
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore_,
that is, not only the Object of worship, but the Fountain of
blessedness. 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 subject of the proposition
therein contained, and is considered, as being _of the fathers,
concerning the flesh_, _i. e._ with respect to his human nature; so that
if we can prove that he is here called _God, blessed for ever_, we shall
have the argument we contend for, this being the only thing contested by
the Anti-trinitarians.

_Object._ It is objected, that the words maybe otherwise rendered,
namely, _Let God_, _viz._ the Father, _who is over all, be 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.

_Answ._ In defence of our translation of these words, it may be replied,
that it is very agreeable to the grammatical construction 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
singular, 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 Trinity, as a late writer observes.[114] 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 it. And a learned writer[115], who 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 receive very little conviction from his
alleging, that “It is uncertain whether the word _God_ was originally in
the text; and if it was, whether it be not spoken of 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 would 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 spoken of the Father, that ought to
have been proved, or not suggested. We might observe, in defence of our
translation, that whenever the words are so used in the New Testament,
that they may be translated, _Blessed be God_[116], they are disposed in
a different form, or order, and not exactly so as we read them therein:
but, though this be a probable argument, we will not insist on it, but
shall rather prove our translation to be just, from the connexion of the
words, with what goes immediately 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; therefore it is
very reasonable to suppose he would speak of him as to his divine
nature, especially since both these natures are spoken of together, in
John i. 14. and elsewhere; and why 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 connexion of the parts of the proposition laid down therein,
determines the sense thereof in our favour.

Here I cannot pass over that proof which we have of our Saviour’s
divinity, in 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 themselves sometimes call him the true God,
that is as much as to say, he is not an idol; upon which occasion a
learned writer[117] observes, that they deal with him as Judas did with
our Saviour, cry, Hail Master, and then betray him: they would be
thought to ascribe every 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[118], takes a great deal of pains to
prove that it is the 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 us an understanding, that we may know him that is true_, _viz._
the Father, and _we are in him that is true_, speaking still of the
Father, _by or through his Son Jesus Christ_; but, I humbly conceive, he
does not acquit himself so well in the sense he gives of the following
words, upon which the whole stress of the argument depends, not only in
that he takes it for granted, that the word ουτος, _This_, refers back,
as is most natural and usual, not to the last word in order, but to the
last and principal in sense, namely, the Father, which is, at least,
doubtful, since any unprejudiced reader, who hath not a cause to
maintain, which obliges 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 very agreeable to describe him as a Person
every way qualified for this work, and consequently as being the true
God; and besides, the apostle had spoken of the Father in the beginning
of the verse, as _him that is true_, or, as some manuscripts have it,
_him 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, indeed, attempts to remove the
impropriety of the expression, by giving an uncommon sense of these
words, namely, _This knowledge of God is the true religion, and the way
to eternal life_; or, _this is the true worship of God by his Son unto
eternal life_, which, though it be a truth, yet can hardly be supposed
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 supplying 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 words; 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
called, nevertheless he is not to be considered as the only Person who
is God, in the most proper sense, but as having the one divine nature;
in which sense the word _God_ is always taken, when God is said to be

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 _in him
was life_, John i. 4. but he says, John xiv. 6. _I am the life_; and it
is said in 1 John i. 2. _The life was manifested, and we have seen it_,
or him, _and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the
Father_, προς τον Πατερα which is an explication of his own words, John
i. 1. προς τον Θεον _with God_; and then he explains what he had said in
ver. 14. of the same chapter, when he says, _the word of life_, or the
Person who calls himself _the life_ was _manifested unto us_; which
seems to be a peculiar phrase, used by 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 called the
true God; which character of being _true_, is often used and applied to
Christ, by the same inspired writer, more than by any other, as appears
from several scriptures, Rev. iii. 17, 14, and chap. xix. 11. and
though, indeed, it refers to him, as Mediator, 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 glory added to his name, which
prove his proper Deity: thus in Isa. ix. 6. he is styled, _the mighty
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
be upon his shoulders_; all which expressions so exactly agree with his
character as God-man, Mediator, that they contain an evident proof of
his proper Deity.

_Object._ They who deny our Saviour’s Deity, object, that the words
ought to be otherwise translated, _viz._ _the wonderful Counsellor_, the
_mighty God, the everlasting Father, shall call him, the Prince of

_Answ._ We have before observed, in defence of our translation of
another text,[119] 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 divinity.

There is another scripture which speaks of Christ, not only as God, but
as the _great God_, in Tit. ii. 13. _Looking for that blessed 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 proper
God, and therefore the principal thing we have to prove is, that the
text refers only to our Saviour, or that the apostle does not speak
therein of two Persons, to wit, the Father and the Son, but of the Son;
and accordingly, though we oftentimes take occasion to vindicate our
translation, here we cannot but think it ought to be corrected; and that
the word _and_ should be rendered _even_:[120] But, because I would not
lay too great a stress on a grammatical criticism, _how_ probable soever
it may be; we may consider some other things in the text, whereby it
appears that our Saviour is the only Person spoken of therein, from what
is said of him, agreeable 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 without sin unto salvation_; and in 1
John iii. 2. _When he shall appear, we shall be like him_, &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 by
him when he appears: thus he is called, in 1 Tim. i. 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[121] 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 glory shines forth in his appearance. But since
this is no where applied to the sense of those other scriptures, which
speak of every eye’s seeing him in his human nature, and plainly refer
to some glories that shall be put upon that nature, which shall be the
object of sense; why should we say that the text imports nothing else
but that the Father shall appear in his 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,
_The doctrine of God our Saviour_, and with what immediately follows in
ver. 14. where, having before described him as our Saviour, he proceeds
to shew wherein he was so, namely, _by giving himself for us, that he
might redeem us from all iniquity_; and he is not only called _God our
Saviour_ by this apostle, but he is so called in 2 Pet. i. 1. where the
church is said _to have obtained like precious faith, through the
righteousness of God, and our Saviour Jesus 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 doctrine, which, whether
it does or no, they, who consider the arguments on both sides, may
judge; and we think, we have as much reason to conclude that our sense
of the words, which establishes 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, given to him by this disciple, upon his
having received a conviction of his resurrection from the dead; and
there is nothing in the text, but what imports his right to the same
glory which belongs to the Father, when He is called his people’s God.
Herein 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, O Lord, I said thou art my God_; and God promises, in Hos. ii.
23. that _he would say to them which were not his people, Thou art my
God_; and chap. viii. 2. _Israel shall cry unto me, My God we know
thee_; and the apostle Paul speaking of the Father, says, Phil. iv. 19.
_My God shall supply all your need_, &c. 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 determines the words to
be taken in a lower sense than this, as there does not appear to be,
then we are bound to conclude, that Christ’s Deity is fully proved from

_Object._ Some of the Socinians suppose, that the words, _my Lord_, and
_my God_, contain a form of exclamation, or admiration; and that Thomas
was surprized when he was convinced that our Saviour was risen from the
dead, and so cries out, as one in a rapture, _O my Lord! O my God!_
intending hereby the Father, to whose power alone this event was owing.

_Answ._ Such exclamations as these, though often used in common
conversation, and sometimes without that due regard to the divine
Majesty, that ought to attend them, are not agreeable 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,[122] but because the words are brought in as a reply to what Christ
had spoken to him in the foregoing verse; _Thomas answered 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 be 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 have recourse to 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 scriptures, in
which Christ is called God. And,

1. Some have had recourse to a critical remark, which they make on the
word Θεος _God_, namely, that when it has the article ὁ before it, it
adds an emphasis to the sense thereof, and determines it to be applied
to the Father. And inasmuch as the word is sometimes applied to him,
when there is no article, (which, to some, would appear an objection,
sufficient to invalidate this remark) they add, that it is always to be
applied to him, if there be nothing in the text that determines it
otherwise. This remark was first made by Origen, and afterwards largely
insisted on by Eusebius, as Dr. Clarke observes;[123] and he so far
gives into it, as that he apprehends it is never applied, when put
absolutely in scripture, to any other Person; we shall therefore enquire
into the justice thereof.

By the word _God_ absolutely taken, (whether Θεος have an article before
it or no) we understand nothing else but its being used without any
thing to determine its application, either to the Father, Son, or Holy
Ghost; whereas, on the other hand, when it is not absolutely used, there
are several things, by which we may certainly know to which of the
divine persons it belongs: thus it is particularly applied to the
Father, when there is something in the text that distinguishes him from
the Son or Spirit: so John xiv. 1. _Ye believe in God_, _viz._ the
Father, _believe also in me_; and in all those scriptures, in which
Christ is called the Son of God, there the word _God_ is determined to
be applied to the Father; and when God is said to act in relation to
Christ as Mediator, as in Heb. ii. 13. _Behold, I and the children which
God hath given me_, it is so applied.

And the word _God_ is determined to be applied to the Son, when he is
particularly mentioned, and so called, or described, by any of his
Mediatorial works or characters; as in Matt. i. 23. _God_, _viz._ the
Son, _with us_; and 1 Tim. iii. 16. _God manifest in the flesh_; or when
there is any thing in the context, which discovers that the word _God_
is to be applied to him.

Also, with respect to the Holy Ghost, when any of his Personal works, or
characters, are mentioned in the text or context, and the word _God_
applied to him, to whom they are ascribed, that determines it to belong
to the Holy Ghost; as in Acts v. 3, 4. speaking concerning lying to the
Holy Ghost, it is explained, _Thou hast not lyed unto men, but unto
God_; and 1 Cor. iii. 16. _Know ye not that ye are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you_; but more of this when we
speak of the Deity of the Holy Ghost. In these, and such like cases, the
word _God_ is not put absolutely; but, on the other hand, it is put
absolutely when there is nothing of this nature to determine its
application; as in those scriptures that speak of the divine Unity,
_viz._ in Matt. xix. 17. _There is none good but one, that is God_; and
in 1 Cor. viii. 4. _There is none other God but one_; and in James ii.
19. _Thou believest that there is one God_, &c. and John x. 33. _Thou,
being a man, makest thyself God_; and in many other places of the like
nature, in which there is an idea contained of the divine perfections;
but it is not particularly determined which of the Persons in the
Godhead is intended thereby.

This is what we are to understand by the word Θεος, _God_, being put
absolutely without any regard to its having an article before it, or
not; from whence nothing certain can be determined concerning the
particular application thereof, since many scriptures might easily be
referred to, in which it is put without an article, though applied to
the Father; and, on the other hand, it has very often an article put
before it when applied to idols, or false gods;[124] and the devil is
called, ὁ Θεος του αιωνος τουτου, _the god of this world_; and it may be
observed, that in two evangelists,[125] referring to the same thing, and
using the same words, one has the word with an article, and the other

Therefore, setting aside this critical remark about the application of
the word _God_, when there is an article before Θεος, the main thing in
controversy is how we are to apply it, when neither the context, nor any
of the rules above-mentioned, give us any direction, therein, namely,
whether it is in that case only to be applied to the Father, or
indifferently to any of the Persons in the Godhead. The author
above-mentioned, in his scripture-doctrine of the Trinity, always
applies it to the Father; and it may easily be perceived, that he has no
other reason than this to apply many scriptures to the Father, which
others, who have defended the doctrine of the Trinity, in another way,
apply to the Son, as being directed herein by something spoken of him in
the context, as in Rev. xix. 4, 5, 6, 17.[126]

And this is, indeed, the method used by all the Anti-trinitarians, in
applying the word _God_, especially when found absolutely in scripture.
That which principally induces them hereunto, is because they take it
for granted, that as there is but one divine Being, so there is but one
Person who is truly and properly divine,[127] and that is the Father, to
whom they take it for granted that the word _God_ is to be applied in
scripture to signify any finite being, as the Son, or any creature below
him. But this supposition is not sufficiently proved, _viz._ that the
one divine Being is a person, and that this is only the Father, whom
they often call the supreme, or most high God, that is, superior, when
compared with the Son and Spirit, as well as all creatures; but this we
cannot allow of, and therefore cannot see sufficient reason to conclude,
that the word _God_, when put absolutely, is to be applied to no other
than the Father.

That which I would humbly offer, as the sense of the word, when thus
found in scripture, is, that when the Holy Ghost has left it
undetermined, it is our safest way to consider it as such, and so to
apply it indifferently to the Father, Son, or Spirit, and not to one
person, exclusive of the others: thus when it is said, Mark xii. 29, 32.
_The Lord our God is one Lord_; and _there is one God, and there is none
other but him_; the meaning is, that there is but one divine Being, who
is called God, as opposed to the creature, or to all who are not God by
nature: thus when the unity of the Godhead is asserted in that scripture
here referred to, Deut. vi. 4. and Israel was exhorted to _serve him_,
they are, at the same time, forbidden to _go after other gods_, ver. 13,
14. And when it is said, that to love the Lord with all our heart, soul,
mind, and strength, is more than all burnt-offering and sacrifices, Mark
xii. 33. it implies, that religious worship was performed to God; but it
is certain that this was performed to all the Persons in the Godhead;
therefore none of them are excluded in this scripture, in which the
unity of God is asserted. And however Dr. Clarke concludes Athanasius,
from his unguarded way of speaking, in some other instances, to be of
his side; yet, in that very place, which he refers to,[128] he expressly
says, that when the scripture saith the Father is the only God, and that
_there is one God_, and _I am the First_, and _the Last_; yet this does
not destroy the divinity of the Son, for he is that one God, and first
and only God, &c. And the same thing may be said of the Holy Ghost.

Again, when it is said, Mat. xix. 17. _There is none good but one, that
is God_; it implies, that the divine nature, which is predicated of all
the persons in the God-head, hath those perfections that are essential
to it, and particularly that goodness by which God is denominated
All-sufficient: so in Acts xv. 18. when it is said, _Known unto God are
all his works_; where the word _God_ is absolute, and not in a
determinate sense, applied either to Father, Son, or Spirit, the meaning
is, that all the Persons in the Godhead created all things, which they
are expressly said to do in several scriptures, and, as the consequence
thereof, that they have a right to all things, which are known unto

_Object._ It will probably be objected to this, that we assert that
there are four divine Persons, namely, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
and the Godhead which is common to them all, since we call it _God_,
which word in other instances, connotes a personal character; and, if
so, then it will follow, that we are chargeable with a contradiction in
terms, when we say that there are three Persons in the Godhead, _viz._
in one Person.

_Answ._ To this it may be replied, that though the divine nature, which
is common to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is represented, in
scripture, as though it were a Person, when it is called God, yet it is
to be taken in a metaphorical sense; whereas the Father, Son, and
Spirit, as has been before considered, are called Divine Persons
properly, or without a metaphor.[129] Moreover, the divine nature,
though it be called God, is never considered as co-ordinate with, or as
distinguished from the divine Persons, as though it were a Person in the
same sense as they are; and therefore, whenever it is so called, it must
be considered as opposed to the creature; as we before observed, the one
God is opposed to those who are not God by nature. It may also be
considered, that those divine perfections, which are implied in the word
_God_, taken in this sense, are known by the light of nature; (whereas
the divine Personality, as applied either to the Father, Son, or Spirit,
is a matter of pure revelation) and it is such an idea of God, or the
Godhead, that is intended thereby; so that all the force of this
objection consists only in the sense of a word, and the principal thing
in debate is, whether the word _God_ thus absolutely and indeterminately
considered, is a proper mode of speaking, to set forth the divine
nature: now if the scripture uses the word in this sense, it is not for
us to enquire about the propriety, or impropriety, thereof; but we must
take heed that we do not pervert, or misunderstand, the sense hereof
which they do, who either speak, on the one hand, of the Godhead, when
called _God_, as though it were distinct from the Father, Son, and
Spirit; or, on the other hand, understand it only of the Father, as
opposed to the Son and Spirit, as the Anti-trinitarians do, who deny
their proper Deity, and when they assert that there is but one God, do
in effect, maintain that there is but one Person in the Godhead. Thus
concerning the sense in which the Anti-trinitarians take the word _God_,
when (as it is generally expressed) it is taken absolutely in scripture,
as applying it only to the Father; we proceed to consider,

2. That they farther suppose that our Saviour is called God, in the New
Testament, by a divine warrant, as a peculiar honour put upon him; and
here they think it not difficult to prove, that a creature may have a
right conferred on him to receive divine honour; which if they were able
to do, it would tend more to weaken our cause, and establish their own,
than any thing they have hitherto advanced. But this we shall have
occasion to militate against under the fourth head of argument, to prove
the Deity of the Son, _viz._ his having a right to divine worship, and
therefore shall pass it over at present, and consider them as intending
nothing more by the word _God_, when applied to our Saviour, but what
imports an honour infinitely below that which belongs to the Father; and
this they suppose to have been conferred upon him, on some occasions,
relating to the work for which he came into the world. The Socinians, in
particular, speak of his being called God, or the Son of God.

(1.) Because of his having been _sanctified_ and _sent into the world_,
John x. 36. _viz._ to redeem it, in that peculiar and low sense in which
they understand the word _redemption_, of which more hereafter.

(2.) Also from his extraordinary conception and birth, by the power of
the Holy Ghost, as it is said, in Luke i. 35. _The Holy Ghost shall come
upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall over-shadow thee;
therefore also that Holy Thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be
called the Son of God._

(3.) Another reason of his having this honour conferred upon him, they
take from his resurrection, and so refer to Rom. i. 4. in which it is
said, that he was _declared to be the Son of God with power, by the
resurrection from the dead_.

(4.) Another reason hereof they take from his ascension into heaven, or
being glorified, at which time they suppose that he was made an High
Priest, and had, in an eminent degree, the name and character of God put
upon him, for which they refer to Heb. v. 3. in which it is said,
_Christ glorified not himself to be made an High Priest; but he that
said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee_.

But they plainly pervert the sense of these respective texts but now
mentioned, inasmuch as they suppose that his mission, incarnation,
resurrection, and ascension, are the principal reasons of his being
called God; and that his deity is founded not in the excellency of his
nature, but in these relative circumstances, in which, as an act of
grace, this honour was conferred upon him, which God, had he pleased,
might have conferred on any other creature, capable of yielding
obedience to him, or receiving such a commission from him: whereas, in
reality, these scriptures refer to that glory which he had as Mediator,
as a demonstration of his Deity, and these honours were agreeable to his
character, as a divine Person, but did not constitute him God, as they

But these things are not so particularly insisted on by some late
Anti-trinitarians, though they all agree in this, that his right to
divine honour is the result of that authority which he has received from
God, to perform the works which are ascribed to him, relating to the
good of mankind; whereas we cannot but conclude, from the scriptures
before brought to prove his proper Deity, in which he is called _Lord_
and _God_, in as strong a sense, as when those words are applied to the
Father, that he is therefore God equal with the Father.

Thus having considered our Saviour’s proper Deity, as evinced from his
being called Lord and God; and also, that these names are given to him
in such a sense, as that hereby the Godhead is intended, as much as when
it is applied to the Father; we shall close this head, by considering
two scriptures, in which the divine nature is ascribed to him; and the
first of them is in Coloss. ii. 9. _In him dwelleth all the fulness of
the Godhead bodily_; in which we may observe, that it is not barely
said, that God dwelleth in him, which would not so evidently have proved
his deity, because God is elsewhere said to dwell in others: thus, in 1
John iv. 12. it is said, _God dwelleth in us_; but here it is said, the
Godhead dwelleth in him, which is never applied to any creature; and the
expression is very emphatical, the fulness, yea, all the fulness of the
Godhead dwelleth in him; what can we understand thereby, but that all
the perfections of the divine nature belong to him? The apostle had been
speaking, in ver. 2. of the _mystery of Christ_, as what the church was
to know, and acknowledge, as well as that of the Father; and he also
considers him as the Fountain of wisdom, ver. 3. _In whom are hid all
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge_; and what is here spoken
concerning him, very well corresponds therewith, as being expressive of
his divine glory; the fulness of the Godhead is said, indeed, to dwell
in him _bodily_, by which we are to understand his human nature, as the
body is, in some other scriptures taken for the man; thus, in Rom. xii.
1. we are exhorted _to present our bodies_, _i. e._ ourselves, _a living
sacrifice to God_; so here the divine nature, as subsisting in him, is
said to dwell in, that is, to have the human nature united to it, which
is meant by its dwelling in him bodily.

The account which some give of the sense of this text, to evade the
force of the argument, taken from thence, to prove our Saviour’s Deity,
does little more than shew how hard the Anti-trinitarians are put to it
to maintain their ground, when they say that the word Θεοτης, which we
render _Godhead_, signifies some extraordinary gifts conferred upon him,
especially such as tended to qualify him to discover the mind and will
of God; or, at least, that nothing else is intended thereby, but that
authority which he had from God, to perform the work which he came into
the world about; since it is certain, that this falls infinitely short
of what is intended by the word _Godhead_, which must signify the divine
nature, subsisting in him, who assumed, or was made flesh, and so dwelt
therein, as in a temple.

There is another scripture, which seems to attribute to him the divine
nature, _viz._ Phil. ii. 6. where it is said, that he was _in the form
of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God_; by _the form
of God_, I humbly conceive, we are to understand the divine nature which
he had, and therefore it was no instance of robbery in him to assert,
that he was equal with God. If this sense of the text can be defended,
it will evidently prove his proper Deity, since it is never said,
concerning any creature, that he is in the form of God, or, as the words
may be rendered, that he subsisted in the form of God; now it is well
known, that the word which we render _form_, is not only used by the
schoolmen, but by others, before their time, to signify the nature, or
essential properties, of that to which it is applied; so that this sense
thereof was well known in the apostle’s days. Therefore, why may we not
suppose, that the Holy Ghost, in scripture, may once, at least, use a
word which would be so understood by them? And it will farther appear,
that Christ’s Deity is signified thereby, if the following words are to
be understood in the sense contained in our translation, that _he
thought it not robbery to be equal with God_; now this seems very plain,
for the same word ἡγησατο, _he thought_, is taken in the same sense in
the third verse of this chapter; _Let every man esteem_, or think,
_others better than themselves_; and it is used about twenty times in
the New Testament, five times in this epistle, besides in this text, and
never understood otherwise than as signifying _to think_, _esteem_, or
_account_; and it would destroy the sense of the respective texts, where
it is used, to take it otherwise. This the Anti-trinitarians themselves
will not deny, inasmuch as it does not affect their cause;
notwithstanding they determine that it must be otherwise translated in
this text; and so they render the words, ουχ ἁρπαγμον ἡγησατο το ειναι
ισα Θεω, _he did not covet to be honoured_, or was not greedy, or in
haste of being honoured _as God_[130], that is, he did not affect to
appear like a divine Person, or catch at those divine honours that did
not belong to him. Could this sense of the text be made out to be just,
it would effectually overthrow our argument, taken from thence, to prove
Christ’s proper Deity: but this is as foreign from the sense of the
words, as any sense that could be put upon them; and all that is
pretended to justify it, is a reference which they make to a phrase, or
two, used in a Greek writer, which is not at all to their purpose[131].
Moreover the sense of this text, as agreeable to the words of our
translation, will farther appear to be just, if we consider, that our
Saviour’s _being in the form of God_, is there opposed to his having
afterwards been _in the form of a servant_, or the _fashion of a man_;
now if the latter be to be understood of his being truly and properly
man, and not to be taken barely for something in him which resembled the
human nature; or if his _taking on him the form of a servant_, imports,
his being in a capacity to perform that obedience which was due from
him, as man to God, in a proper, and not a theatrical sense; then it
will follow, that his being in the form of God, as opposed hereunto,
must be taken for his being truly and properly God, or for his having
the divine nature, as before mentioned; which was the thing to be

I might here consider the sense which Dr. Whitby, in his annotations,
gives of our Saviour’s being _in the form of God_, as opposed to that of
a servant, (after he had given up the sense of the words, as in our
translation, to the adversary) which is, that his being in the form of
God, implies, his appearing, before his incarnation, in a bright shining
cloud, or light, or in a flame of fire, or with the attendance of an
host of angels, as he is sometimes said to have done, which the Jews
call Shechinah, or the divine Majesty, as being a visible emblem of his
presence; this he calls _the form of God_, and his not appearing so,
when incarnate in this lower world, _the form of a servant_, as opposed
to it; and adds, that when he ascended into heaven, he assumed the form
of God; and therefore whenever he has occasionally appeared, as to the
martyr Stephen at his death, or to the apostle Paul at his first
conversion, it has been in that form, or with like emblems of majesty
and divinity, as before his incarnation,

Here I would observe concerning this, that what he says of Christ’s
appearing with emblems of majesty and glory before his incarnation, and
the glory that was put upon his human nature after his ascension into
heaven, is a great truth; but as this is never styled, in scripture, the
form of God, nor was the symbol of the divine glory ever called therein
the divine majesty, however it might be called by Jewish writers;
therefore this has no reference to the sense of this text, nor does it,
in the least, enervate the force of the argument, taken from it, to
prove our Saviour’s proper Deity, any more than this critical remark on
the words thereof does, the sense of our translation, whereby it
evidently appears. I might also observe the sense which another
learned[132] writer gives of _the form of God_ in this text, which is
the same that is given by several of the Socinians; namely, that it has
a relation to his working miracles while here upon earth, which is
certainly very disagreeable to the scope and design of the text, since
he is said to be _in the form of God_, before he took upon him the form
of a servant, that is, before his incarnation: and besides, the working
miracles, never was deemed sufficient to denominate a person to be in
the form of God, for if it had, many others, both before and after him,
might have had this applied to them; whereas it is a glory appropriate
to him, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God.

I would not wholly pass over that which some call a controverted text of
scripture, in 1 John v. 7. _For there are three that bear record in
heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are
one_, lest it should be thought that I conclude the arguments, brought
by the Anti-trinitarians, sufficiently conclusive to prove it
spurious,[133] but I shall say the less on this subject, because it is a
very hard matter to advance any thing that has not been very largely
insisted on, by various writers; among whom I cannot but mention, with
great esteem; one who has defended the scripture-doctrine of the Trinity
with a great deal of learning and judgment, who has given a particular
account of several that have written on either side of the
question[134]. No one pretends to deny, that this text is not to be
found in a great number of manuscripts, among which some are generally
allowed to be of great antiquity; therefore it is less to be wondered
at, that it is left out in some ancient versions thereof, which were
taken from copies that were destitute of it; all which only proves, that
the text has been corrupted: but the main question is, which of those
copies are to be reckoned genuine, those which have it, or others which
have it not? It must be allowed, that there are a considerable number,
in which the text is inserted, as Beza and others observe; and it will
be a hard matter to prove that these are all spurious, which must be
done, before we shall be obliged to expunge it out of scripture.

If it be objected, that the manuscripts, which have the text, are not so
ancient as those that are without it, it will be a difficult matter for
them to determine the antiquity thereof, with such exactness, as, by
comparing one with the other, it may be certainly known, with respect to
all of them, which has the preference, and by what a number of years:
besides, since it is certain, that more manuscripts of scripture are
lost by far, than are now known to be in the world; unless we suppose
that religion, in ancient times, was contracted into a very narrow
compass, or that very few, in the first ages of the church, had copies
of scripture by them, which is not to be supposed; and, if so, then it
will be hard to prove that those manuscripts, which have the text
inserted, did not take it from some others, that were in being before
them; so that the genuineness, or spuriousness of the text, is not to be
determined only or principally by inspection into ancient manuscripts.

Nor can I think it very material to offer conjectures concerning the
manner how the text came first to be corrupted. Dr. Hammond, and others,
suppose, that some one, who transcribed this epistle, might commit a
blunder, in leaving out this text, because of the repetition of the
words in the following verse, _There are three that bare record_. It is,
indeed, a hard thing to trace every mistake made by an amanuensis to its
first original; however, this must be concluded, that it is possible for
it to be left out through inadvertency, but it could not be put in
without a notorious fraud; and no one would attempt to do this, unless
some end, which he thought valuable, were answered thereby. Indeed, if
the doctrine of the Trinity could not have been maintained without such
an insertion, I will not say, that every one, who ever defended it, had
honesty enough to abhor such a vile practice; but this I am bound to
say, that if any one did so, he was guilty not only of fraud, but folly,
at the same time; since the divinity of the Son and Spirit, as well as
of the Father, is maintained throughout the whole scripture; and the
principal thing asserted concerning the Son, in this text, _viz._ that
he is _One_ with the Father, is expressly laid down in his own words,
John x. 30. _I and my Father are one._

I know the Arians take occasion to censure the defenders of the doctrine
of the Trinity, as being guilty of this fraud, though Father Simon[135]
is a little more sparing of his reflections on them; but he is no less
injurious to the truth, when he maintains, that some person or other, in
the margin of a copy, which he had by him, which he supposes to have
been about five hundred years old, had affixed to ver. 8. these words,
as an explication thereof, as though the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
were intended thereby, to wit, by the _Spirit_, _water_, _and blood_;
and from hence concludes, that the next person, who transcribed from
this manuscript, mistook this note for a part of the text; and so the
7th verse came to be inserted. This Le Clerc calls a setting the matter
in a clear light; for some persons are ready to believe that which
supports their own cause, how weakly soever it be maintained.

It might easily be replied to this, that this text was known in the
world long enough before that manuscript was wrote, and consequently
this insertion could not first take its rise from thence; and therefore
to produce a single instance of this nature, is, I humbly conceive,
nothing to the purpose[136].

But, passing by what respects scripture-manuscripts, there is more
stress to be laid on the writings of those who have referred to this
text; and accordingly it is certain, that it was often quoted in defence
of the doctrine of the Trinity, by ancient writers, in the fifth and
following centuries, therefore it was found in the manuscripts that they
used. It is true, it is not quoted by the Fathers, who wrote in the
fourth century, to wit, Athanasius, Cyril, Gregory, Nazianzen,
Chrysostom, nor by Augustin, and some others; but nothing can be
inferred from hence, but that it was not in the copies they made use of:
but it does not follow that it was in no copy at that time; for, if we
look farther back to the third century, we find it expressly referred to
by Cyprian, which I cannot but lay a very great stress on; he has it in
two places[137], in the former of which, he occasionly mentions these
words, _These three are one_; and, in the latter, he expressly quotes
this scripture; and says, it is _written of the Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost, that these three are one_; which evidently proves, that he found
it in some manuscript extant in his time, which was before any
manuscript, now in being, is pretended to have been written; for even
the Alexandrian manuscript is, I think, supposed by none to be of
greater antiquity than the fourth century, which seems to me to be of
greater force than any thing that is suggested, concerning its being not
found in manuscripts of later date; and we may observe, that that Father
does not speak of it as a certain manuscript, which was reserved, as a
treasure, in some private library, which might be adulterated; nor doth
he pretend to prove the authority thereof, nor make use of it, to prove
the genuineness of the text; but quotes the text, as we do any other
place of scripture, as supposing it was generally acknowledged to be
contained therein; and he also was reckoned a man of the greatest
integrity, as well as piety, and so would not refer to any text, as a
part of the sacred writings, which was not so.

_Object._ It is objected against this, by the Anti-trinitarians, that
though he quotes scriptures, yet it is not this, but ver. 8. and that
not in the words thereof, but in a mystical sense, which he puts upon
it, by the Spirit, water, and blood, agreeing in one, intending the
Father, Son, and Spirit, being one: and this is the sense Facundus, an
African bishop, who lived about the middle of the sixth century, puts
upon it, and supposes him thus to quote it.

_Answ._ But to this it may be answered, that his judgment is no more to
be valued, who lived three hundred years after him, than if he had lived
in this present age; nor had he any farther light to understand
Cyprian’s meaning, than we have; and we know very well, that Cyprian was
not so unreasonably fond of mystical interpretations of scriptures, as
Origen, and some others of the Fathers were: and even they never
presumed to quote any mystical sense, which they put on scripture, as
the words thereof, or say, as this Father does, it is so written; much
less are we to suppose that his words are to be taken in this sense. And
whatever Facundus’s sense was of his words, another who lived in the
same century, together with, or a little before him, _viz._ Fulgentius,
refers (as the learned author above mentioned[138] observes) to this
passage of Cyprian; not as a mystical explication of ver. 8. but as
distinctly contained in ver 7. and, as such, makes use of it against the

As for that known passage in Tertullian[139], in which he speaks of the
union, or connexion, as he calls it, of the Father in the Son, and of
the Son in the Comforter, making three joined together, and that these
three are one, that is, one divine Being, not one Person, and so
referring to our Saviour’s word’s, _I and the Father are one_, it is a
very good explication of the sense of this text, and discovers that, in
that early age of the church, he had a right notion of the doctrine of
the Trinity: but whether it is sufficiently evident from hence, that he
refers to this scripture under our present consideration, though
defending the doctrine contained in it, I will not determine. I shall
add no more in the defence of the genuineness of this text, but rather
refer the reader to others, who have wrote professedly on this

And whereas some of the anti-trinitarians have supposed, that if this
scripture were genuine, it doth not prove the doctrine of the Trinity,
because the words ought to be taken as implying, that the Father, Son,
and Spirit, are one only in testimony; to this it may be answered, that
though it be an undoubted truth that they agree in testimony, yet it
doth not amount to the sense of the words, _They are one_; for if that
had been the principal idea designed to be conveyed thereby, no reason
can be assigned why the phrase should be different from what it is in
the following verse; but it would, doubtless, have been expressed, εις
το ἑν εισιν, _They agree in one_.

Thus we have endeavoured to prove our Saviour’s proper Deity from those
scriptures that speak of him, not only as a being called _Lord_ and
_God_, but from others, that assert him to have the divine nature, or to
be equal with God the Father; we shall now proceed to consider some
scriptures, by which it appears, that he asserts this concerning
himself; or what proofs we have of his Deity from his own words, in
several conferences which he held with the Jews, by which he gave them
reason to conclude that he was God equal with the Father; and the
opposition which he met with from them, who, for this reason, charged
him with blasphemy, plainly intimates, that they understood his words in
this sense. And if it be replied to this, as it often is, that nothing
can be inferred to prove his Deity from their misunderstanding his
words, and so charging him, without ground to be guilty thereof; to this
it may be answered, though we do not lay much stress on what they
understood to be the meaning of his words, yet it plainly appears, that
he intended them in this sense, inasmuch as if they misunderstood him,
he did not undeceive them, which certainly he ought to have done, had he
not been a divine Person. If any one seems to assume to himself any
branch of the glory of God, that does not belong to him, though the
ambiguity of words, provided they may be taken in two contrary senses,
may in some measure, excuse him from having had such a design, however
unadviseable it be to speak in such a way, yet if he apprehends that
they, to whom he directs his discourse, are in the least inclined to
misunderstand him, he is obliged, from the regard which he has to the
divine glory, and the duty which he owes to those with whom he
converses, as well as in defence of his own character, to undeceive
them; therefore, if our Saviour had not been equal with God, he would,
doubtless, upon the least suspicion which the Jews might entertain, that
he asserted himself to be so, immediately have undeceived them, and
would have told them, that they took his words in a wrong sense, and
that he was far from usurping that glory, which belonged to God; that
had he intended them in that sense, they might justly have called him a
blasphemer; this he would, doubtless have done, had he by his words,
given them occasion to think him a divine Person if he were not so.

Thus the apostles Paul and Barnabas, when the people at Lystra, upon
their having wrought a miracle, concluded that they were gods, with what
zeal and earnestness did they undeceive them! In Acts xiv. 14, 15. it is
said, when they perceived they were going to offer sacrifice to them,
_they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and
saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? we also are men of like passions
with you_. And, at another time, we read, that Peter and John, in Acts
iii. 11-13. when they had cured the lame man, though the people did not
conclude them to be divine persons, yet, perceiving that they were
amazed, and being jealous that some thoughts might arise in their minds,
as though they had a right to that glory, which belongs to God alone, or
that this miracle was to be ascribed to themselves, rather than to him,
we read, that _when Peter saw that they marvelled, and that the people
ran together, he answered, ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or
why look ye so earnestly on us, as though, by our own power, or
holiness, we had made this man to walk?_ and accordingly takes occasion
to shew, that the glory hereof was due to none but God.

But our Saviour takes no such method to exculpate himself from this
charge of blasphemy; therefore we must suppose they did not mistake his
words but that he intended thereby, that they should understand him to
be a divine Person; yea, he is so far from undeceiving them, if they
were deceived, that he rather confirms, than denies, the sense, which
they put upon them. This appears from Matt. ix. 2-5. when they brought
to him a man sick of the palsey, to whom, when he healed him, he said,
_Son be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee_, he perceived, that
_certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth_,
supposing _that none had power to forgive sins but God_. It is true, the
words might have been understood, as though he had said, thy sins are
forgiven thee, only in a _declarative way_, as signifying, that the man
had obtained forgiveness from God, without insinuating thereby, that he
had a power, as a divine Person, to forgive sins. But it is plain, that
the Jews took his words in this latter sense, from their charging him
with blasphemy; but, instead of rectifying the mistake, if it was one,
he asserts, that notwithstanding the meanness of his appearance, while
in his humble state on earth, yet he had a power to forgive sins; and he
not only asserts, but proves this, when he says, ver. 5. _Whether it is
easier to say, thy sins be forgiven thee? or to say Arise, and walk?_
Many suppose, that Our Saviour hereby intends to establish his Deity, by
asserting his infinite power, which was exerted in working a miracle,
and so it is as though he should say: he that can produce any effect,
which is above the laws of nature, as miracles are, at least if he does
it by his own power, must be God: but this he had done, and so proved
his deity thereby, and consequently his right to forgive sins.

But I am sensible it will be objected to this, that since creatures have
wrought miracles, which were as truly and properly so as this that
Christ wrought; therefore the working a miracle will not prove the
divinity of the person that wrought it, unless we could prove that he
did it by his own power, that we cannot do without supposing his deity,
and therefore that ought not to be made use of, as a medium to prove it.

Some, indeed, attempt to prove it from that scripture, Luke xi. 20. in
which he says, _he cast out devils by the finger of God_, supposing he
means hereby his own divine power. Others take notice of something
peculiar to himself as they suppose, in the way of his working miracles,
that herein he spake, and acted like a God. But, since neither of these
arguments will be reckoned conclusive, therefore I would take a method
somewhat different, which is not liable to the aforesaid objection, to
account for this matter; and that is that our Saviour first tells the
man, that his sins were forgiven him, knowing, before-hand, how this
would be resented by the scribes, who would, upon this occasion, charge
him with blasphemy, which accordingly they did; and then, to convince
them that he was a divine Person, and had a power to forgive sin, he
wrought a miracle, and so bade the man, sick of the palsey, to _arise
and walk_; whereby he proved his deity, of which he designed to give an
extraordinary conviction, and consequently of his having a power to
forgive sin, by an appeal to this miracle. Now though miracles do not
argue the divinity of the person that works them, from any visible
circumstance contained therein as but now mentioned, yet they
effectually prove it, provided this be the thing contested, and an
explicit appeal be made to the divine power to confirm it by miracles,
then they are an undoubted proof thereof, as much as they prove any
thing relating to the Christian religion: and, in this sense, I humbly
conceive, Christ proved his deity by miracles, which he is expressly
said elsewhere to have done; as in John ii. 11. speaking concerning his
first miracle in Cana of Galilee, it is said, that thereby _he
manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him_; where,
by _his glory_ is doubtless, meant his divine glory; for the faith of
his disciples, which was consequent hereupon, was a divine faith: and we
never read of the glory of Christ, in his humbled state more especially,
but it must import the glory of his deity, which his disciples are said,
in some measure to behold, when they believed in him. This Christ
confirmed by his miracles, in the same way, as his mission was confirmed
thereby. By this means, therefore, he proved his deity and consequently
his right to forgive sin: and therefore was so far from endeavouring to
convince the Jews, that they were mistaken in thinking him a divine
person, he farther insists on, and proves, that he was so.

There is another conference which our Saviour held with the Jews,
mentioned, John vi. in which we read, that after he had healed a lame
man on the sabbath-day, for which, ver. 16. _the Jews sought to slay
him_, as a sabbath-breaker, he replies, ver. 17. _My Father worketh
hitherto, and I work_; upon which they were more enraged, and as it is
said, ver. 18. _sought the more to kill him, because he had not only
broken the sabbath, but said also, that God was his Father, making
himself equal with God_. It is plain they understood his words, as
importing that he was equal with God; and, indeed they could do no
otherwise, for he compares his works with God’s, and speaks of himself
as working co-ordinately with him. Certainly our works ought not to be
mentioned at the same time with God’s; therefore they suppose that he
asserted himself to be a divine Person, and farther proved it by calling
God his Father; which, according to the sense in which they understood
it, denoted an equality with him. Hereupon they charge him with
blasphemy, and go round about to kill him for it. Now it is certain,
that, if he had not been equal with God, he ought to have undeceived
them, which he might easily have done, by telling them that though I
call God my Father, I intend nothing hereby, but that I worship,
reverence, and yield obedience to him; or that I am his Son, by a
special instance of favour, in such a sense as a creature may be; but
far be it from me to give you the least occasion to think that I am
equal with God, for that would be to rob him of his glory: but we find
that our Saviour is far from denying his equality with the Father, but
rather establishes and proves it in the following verses.

It is true, indeed, in some passages thereof, he ascribes to himself the
weakness of a man, as having therein respect to his human nature, which
is included in his being the Messiah and Mediator, as well as his
divine: thus he says, ver. 19. _The Son_, _viz._ as man, _can do nothing
of himself_; and ver. 20. _The Father sheweth him all things_; but, in
other passages, he proves that he had a divine nature, and farther
confirms what he had before asserted, namely, that he was equal with
God; in ver. 21. _For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth
them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will._ Observe, he not only
speaks of himself, as having divine power, but sovereignty; the former
in that he quickeneth; the latter, in that he does it according to his
own will or pleasure; and, in ver. 23. he signifies his expectation from
men, that _all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the
Father_. Thus he lays claim to divine glory, as well as ascribes to
himself the prerogative of raising the whole world, at the general
resurrection, and determining their state, either of happiness or
misery, ver. 28, 29. _Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in
which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come
forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they
that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation._ From hence,
therefore, we may conclude, that our Saviour was so far from disclaiming
the charge of being equal with God, which they called blasphemy, that he
proves it by arguments yet more convincing.

Another conference, which he held with the Jews about this matter, we
read of in John viii. wherein, taking occasion to speak concerning
Abraham, who rejoiced to see his day, he tells them plainly, ver. 58.
_Before Abraham was, I am_; not intending hereby, as the Arians suppose,
that he was the first creature, but that he was equal with God; and,
indeed, there seems to be something in his mode of speaking that argues
his asserting his eternal and unchangeable Deity. The phrase here used
is the same, with a little variation, with that which is used to set
forth the eternity and immutability of God, in Isa. xliii. 13. _Before
the day was, I am he._ If the prophet is to be understood, as asserting
that God the Father existed before time, before the _day_ was, or the
course of nature began, why may we not suppose our Saviour to intend as
much, when he says, _Before Abraham was, I am_.

However, since it will be objected, that this, at best, is but a
probable argument, though it is such as many of the Fathers have made
use of in defending his Deity, yet we will not lay the whole stress of
our cause upon it, but may observe, that whatever critical remark others
may make on the sense of the words, it is certain the Jews understood
them no otherwise, than as implying, that he thought himself equal with
God; therefore it is said, ver. 59. that _they took up stones to stone
him_; which was a punishment inflicted, under the law, on blasphemers;
and ought he not, had they misunderstood his words, to have cleared
himself from this imputation, if he had not been equal with God? But he
is far from doing this; for it is said, in the following words, that _he
hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of
them, and so passed by_.

Again, there is another conference, which he held with the Jews,
mentioned in John x. in which he speaks like a divine Person in several
verses; as ver. 14. _I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am
known of mine_; which is the same that is ascribed to God, in Psal.
xxiii. 1. _The Lord is my Shepherd_; and he lays claim to his church,
whom he calls his sheep, as his own; and ver. 18. he speaks of himself,
as having a power over his own life; _I have power to lay it down, and I
have power to take it again_; which is a greater instance of dominion
than belongs to a creature, who has not a power to dispose of his own
life at pleasure; and, in ver. 28. he ascends yet higher in his
expression, when he speaks of himself, as having a power _to give
eternal life_ to his people, which is certainly the gift of none but
God; and when, in ver. 29. he owns himself to be inferior to his Father,
as man; notwithstanding, in ver. 30. he plainly asserts his Deity, when
he says, _I and my Father are one_.

_Object._ 1. The Anti-trinitarians object to this, that Christ did not
speak of himself as one with the Father, any otherwise than in consent,
or, at least, as having power and authority derived from him.

_Answ._ To say that those words, _I and my Father are one_, imply
nothing more than that they are One in consent, does not well agree with
the sense of the foregoing words, in which he speaks of the greatness,
and the power of his Father, and in this of his being One with him.
Besides, had he only meant his being One with him in consent, as
implying the subjection of all the powers and faculties of his soul to
him, that is a sense in which every good man may be said to be one with
God; therefore the Jews would not have charged him with blasphemy for
it, which, it is plain, they did, and took up stones to stone him, if
his own words had not given them ground to conclude that he intended
more than this, namely, that he was one in nature with God. It is
therefore farther objected,

_Object._ 2. That the Jews, indeed, misunderstood him, and nothing can
be inferred from their stupidity, to prove his Deity: but he seems, in
the following verses, to do more to the undeceiving them, than he had
done in some of the foregoing instances; for he tells them plainly the
reason why he spake of himself as a God, namely, because he was a
prophet; and these were called _gods, to whom the word of God came_, or,
at least, that he had a right to be so called, from his being
_sanctified, and sent into the world_.

_Answ._ By these expressions, he does not intend to set himself upon a
level with the prophets of old, but they contain an argument from the
less to the greater; and so it is, as though he should say, If some
persons, who made a considerable figure in the church of old, and were
sent about important services to them, are called gods, I have much more
reason to claim that character, as having been sanctified, and sent into
the world about the great work of redemption, consecrated, or set apart
to glorify the divine perfections therein; which work, as will be
observed under a following head, proves his Deity; and therefore we are
not to suppose that he disclaims it, when he speaks of himself, as
engaged therein. Then he proceeds yet farther, in asserting his Deity,
when he speaks of his _being in the Father, and the Father in him_,
which, it is certain, the Jews took in a very different sense from what
those words are taken in, when applied to creatures, for they concluded,
that he spake of himself as a divine Person; for it follows, ver. 39.
that _they sought again to take him, but he escaped out of their hand_;
so that he still gives them occasion to conclude, that he was God equal
with the Father.

Thus he asserted his Deity in all these various conferrences with the
Jews; in which, if he had not been what they apprehended him to
insinuate that he was, many charges must have been brought against him;
not only as to what concerns matters of common prudence, as incensing
the people by ambiguous expressions, and thereby hazarding his own life;
but his holiness would have been called in question, had he given
occasion to them, to think that he assumed to himself divine glory, had
he not had a right to it.[141]

And this leads us to consider that last public testimony, which he gave
to his Deity, in the presence of the Sanhedrim, which, in some respects,
may be said to have cost him his life, when he stood before Pontius
Pilate; upon which occasion, the apostle says, 1 Tim. vi. 13. that _he
witnessed a good confession_: this we have recorded, Matth. xxvi. 61.
where we observe, that when false witnesses were suborned to testify
against him, who contradicted one another, in their evidence, upon which
the high priest desired that he would make a reply to what they said, in
his own defence, he did not think that worthy of an answer, and
therefore held his peace: but when he was asked, in the most solemn
manner, and adjured by the living God, to tell them, _Whether he were
the Christ, the Son of God_? that is, the Messiah, whom the Jews
expected, who governed his church of old, and whom they acknowledged to
be a divine Person, or the Son of God; here the whole matter is left to
his own determination. Had he denied this, he would have saved his life;
and if he confessed it, he was like to die for it. On this occasion, he
does not hold his peace, or refuse to answer; therefore, says he, ver.
64. _Thou hast said_; which is as though he had said, It is as thou hast
said, I am the Christ, the Son of God; and then in the following words,
_Nevertheless, I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man,
sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven_;
whereupon the high priest rent his clothes, and appealed to the people
that they had heard his blasphemy, and accordingly they judged him
worthy of death. Here we observe, that he not only asserts himself to be
the Son of God, and to have a right to the glory of a divine Person,
but, as a farther confirmation thereof, applies to himself a text, which
the Jews, supposed to belong to the messiah, Dan. vii. 13. _I saw in the
night-visions, and behold, one, like the Son of man, came with the
clouds of heaven_, &c. So that, from all this, it follows, that if
Christ, when he conversed occasionally with the Jews, or when he was
called before the Sanhedrim, asserts himself to be the Son of God, which
includes in it his Deity, and so does not shun to speak of himself, as
equal with God, we have the doctrine, which we are defending, maintained
by himself; therefore we must conclude, that he really is what he
declared himself to be, namely, God equal with the Father.

II. We proceed to consider how our Saviour’s Deity appears, from those
divine attributes, which are ascribed to him, which are proper to God
alone; to which we shall add, those high and glorious titles, by which
he is described in scripture. The attributes of God, as has been before
observed[142], are all essential to him, and therefore cannot, in a
proper sense, be any of them, applied to a creature, as they are to
Christ, which will be particularly considered in some following heads.

1. He is said to be eternal, and that not only without end, as the
angels and saints in heaven shall be, but from everlasting: this appears
from Micah v. 2. _Whose goings forth have been from of old, from
everlasting._ If his goings forth have been from everlasting, then he
existed from everlasting, for action supposes existence. Nothing more
than this can be said, to prove that the Father was from everlasting:
and that this is spoken of our Saviour is very plain, from the reference
to this text, in Matth. ii. 6. where the former part of this verse is
quoted and explained, as signifying our Saviour’s being born in
Bethlehem; therefore the latter part of it, _whose goings forth_, &c.
must belong to him. Again, he is said, in John i. 1. to have been _in
the beginning_; observe, it is not said he was _from_ but _in_, the
beginning; therefore it is plain, that he existed when all things began
to be, and consequently was from eternity.

When we consider this divine perfection as belonging to our Saviour, we
militate against both the Socinians and the Arians; as for the former,
they deny, that he had any existence, properly speaking, before his
conception in the womb of the virgin Mary, and interpret all those
scriptures that speak of his pre-existence to it, such as that in John
viii. 58. _Before Abraham was, I am_, or that _the Word was in the
beginning_, as importing either, that he was from eternity, in the
decree and purpose of God, relating to his incarnation, in which sense
every thing that comes to pass was eternal, as fore-ordained by God,
which is therefore a very absurd exposition of such-like texts; or else
they suppose, that his being in the beginning signifies nothing else but
his being the Founder of the gospel-state, which cannot be the sense of
the evangelist’s words, because he is said _to be with God_; and it
immediately follows, _and all things were made by him_, which every
unprejudiced reader would suppose to intend the creation of the world,
and not the erecting the gospel-dispensation; this therefore evidently
appears to be a perversion of the sense of the text.

As for the Arians, they distinguish between Christ’s being in the
beginning of time, and his being from eternity; and so they suppose the
meaning of the text to be, that _the Word was from the beginning_; and
whatever disguise they seem to put upon their mode of speaking, when
they say there was not a point of time in which Christ was not, or that
he was before the world, they are far from asserting that he was without
beginning, or properly from eternity. And, in answer hereunto, let it be
considered, that we cannot conceive of any medium between time and
eternity; therefore whatever was before time, must be from eternity, in
the same sense in which God is eternal. That this may appear, let us
consider that time is the measure of finite beings, therefore it is very
absurd, and little less than a contradiction, to say that there was any
finite being produced before time; for that is, in effect, to assert
that a limited duration is antecedent to that measure, whereby it is
determined, or limited. If we should allow that there might have been
some things created before God began to create the heavens and the
earth, though these things might be said to have had a being longer than
time has had, yet they could not have existed before time, for time
would have begun with them; therefore if Christ had been created a
thousand millions of ages before the world, it could not be said that he
existed before time; but it would be inferred from hence, that time,
which would have taken its beginning from his existence, had continued
so many ages; therefore that which existed before time, must have
existed before all finite beings, and consequently was not produced out
of nothing, or did not begin to be, and is properly from eternity.
Therefore I cannot but think the objection evasive, or a fruitless
attempt to take off the force of this argument, to prove our Saviour’s
Deity, since the expressions of scripture, by which his eternity is set
forth, are as strong and emphatical, as those whereby the Father’s is
expressed, and consequently his Deity is equally evident.

2. Our Saviour is said to be unchangeable, which perfection not only
belongs to God, but is that whereby he is considered as opposed to all
created beings, which are dependent upon him, and therefore changed by
him, at his pleasure. Now that Christ is immutable, is evident, if we
compare the words of the Psalmist, Psal. cii. 25-27. _Of old hast thou
laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy
hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall
wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they
shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no
end_, with Heb. i. 10. where the apostle uses the same words and
considers them as applied to Christ; so that it will be a very hard
matter for any to evade the force of this argument. I am persuaded, that
if the apostle had not applied these words to Christ, the
Anti-trinitarians would have allowed, that the Psalmist gives as plain
an account of the immutability of God, as can be found in scripture, or,
indeed, as words can express. Some of the writers on that side of the
question, have passed over this scripture, as thinking, I suppose, that
it is better not to attempt to account for it consistently with their
scheme, than to do it in such a way, as will not, in the least, support
it: others do not care to own that they are applied to Christ; but that
is to break the chain of the apostle’s reasoning, and thereby to fasten
an absurdity upon him. Now, that we may briefly consider the connexion
between this and the foregoing verses, whereby it will evidently appear
that our Saviour is the Person here described, as unchangeable, let us
consider, that the design of this chapter is to set forth the
Mediatorial glory of Christ, to establish his superiority to angels; and
after he had referred to that scripture, which speaks of the eternity of
his kingdom, to wit, the 45th Psalm, ver. 6. he then speaks of him as
unchangeable, and so applies the words of the Psalmist, but now
mentioned, to him. We may also observe, in the text, that he is not only
unchangeable, as to his existence, but his duration is unchangeable,
which farther confirms what was observed under the last head, that he is
eternal, as God is, _viz._ without succession, as well as from
everlasting: this seems to be contained in that expression, _Thou art
the same, thy years shall not fail_, as though he should say, thy
duration does not slide, or pass away by successive moments, as the
duration of time and created beings do.

To this we might add what the apostle says, Heb. xiii. 8. that he _is
the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever_, that is, throughout all the
changes of time, he remains unchangeably the same in his divine nature.
A late writer[143] supposes the meaning of this scripture to be nothing
but this, that the doctrine of Christ, once taught by the apostles,
ought to be preserved unchanged: it is true, he says elsewhere,[144]
that it is certainly true that the Person of Christ is the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever; whether, by yesterday, he means any
thing more than a limited duration of time past, which he must do, or
else give up the doctrine that he every where contends for, I cannot
tell; but he does not think that this text respects the Person of
Christ, but his doctrine as above mentioned; the principal argument by
which he proves it is, its supposed connexion with the foregoing verse;
and so it is as though he should say; Have regard to what has been
delivered to you by those who have preached the word of God, who, though
they are no more among you, yet the doctrine they have delivered is the
same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. But it seems to be too great a
strain on the sense of the words, to suppose _Christ_ to import the same
with _his doctrine_; and, with submission, I cannot think that this is
to be inferred from what goes before, or follows after it; but the sense
seems to be this; Adhere to the doctrine you have formerly received from
those who have preached the word of God to you, and be not carried about
with divers and strange doctrines, so as to change your sentiments with
your teachers, for that would not be to act in conformity to Jesus
Christ, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; so that he
designs to establish their faith from the consideration of Christ’s
immutability, whatever changes they are liable to from the death of
their teachers, or the innovations of those who succeed them, and
endeavour to carry them away by divers and strange doctrines; so the
text seems to be as plain a proof of our Saviour’s immutability as that
scripture, Rev. i. 4. is of the immutability of God, in which it is
said, _He is, was, and is to come_. If, by his being _yesterday_, we are
to understand, as some do, his managing the affairs of his church under
the legal dispensation; and _to-day_, his governing them under this
present dispensation; and _for ever_, the eternity of his kingdom, it
plainly proves, that whatever changes he has made in the affairs of the
government of the church and of the world, yet he is the same, and
consequently a divine Person.

3. Another divine attribute ascribed to our Saviour, is omnipresence, as
in Matt, xviii. 20. _Where two or three are gathered together in my
name, there am I in the midst of them_; which expression imports the
same thing, with that whereby the divine omnipresence (as is allowed by
all) is set forth in Exod. xx. 24. _In all places where I record my
name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee._ Now that Christ’s
presence in the midst of his people, in all places, argues his
omnipresence, is very evident, since he designs, by this promise, to
encourage them in all places, and at all times, to perform religious
duties, with an eye to this privilege; so that wherever there is a
worshipping assembly, they have hereby ground to expect that he will be
present with them. Now it is certain, that no creature can be in two
places at the same time, much less in all places, which is the same as
to _fill heaven and earth_, and is applicable to God alone, as the
prophet expresses it, in Jer. xxiii. 24. Moreover, when Christ says,
that he will be with his people in all places, it must be meant at the
same time, and not successively, otherwise he could not be where-ever
two or three are met in his name; this therefore is a plain proof of his
omnipresence, which is an incommunicable perfection of the divine
nature, and consequently argues him to be true and proper God.

_Object._ 1. It is objected to the sense we have given of this
scripture, (to weaken the force of the argument taken from it) that our
Saviour is here said to be present, only by his authority, where two or
three are met together in his name; and accordingly the words are to be
taken in a metaphorical sense, as when a king is said to be present in
all parts of his dominions, where persons, who are deputed to represent
him, act by his authority.

_Answ._ Though we allow, that whatever is done in Christ’s name, must be
said to be done by his authority; yet we cannot allow that his being in
the midst of them is to be taken only for his being so by his authority;
for we must not suppose that our Saviour, in these words, makes use of a
tautology; and, indeed, it would be a very jejune and empty way of
speaking to say, that where two or three are met together in my name,
that is, by my authority, there am I in the midst of them, by my
authority. Certainly, Christ’s being in the midst of them, must be taken
in the same sense with that parallel scripture before referred to, in
Exod. xx. 24. where God’s _coming to his people_, in those places where
he records his name, is explained, as having a very great privilege
attending it, namely, his _blessing them_, which he is said to do, when
he confers blessedness upon them, and gives them a full and rich supply
of all their wants; this therefore must be the sense of our Saviour’s
being in the midst of his people.

Moreover, as God is said to be present where he acts, so Christ’s
powerful influence, granted to his people in all places, which supposes
his omnipresence, contains a great deal more than his being present by
his authority; and if that were the only sense in which this scripture
is to be taken, it might as well be alleged, that all the scriptures,
which speak of the divine omnipresence might be taken in that sense,
which would be to set aside all the proofs we have from thence of this
perfection of the divine nature; therefore this objection seems to be
rather an evasion, than an argument, to overthrow Christ’s divinity,
taken from his omnipresence.

_Object._ 2. Others suppose that Christ being in the midst of his
people, when met together in his name, implies nothing more than his
knowing what they do when engaged in acts of religious worship.

_Answ._ We observe, that they who make use of this objection, that they
may militate against that argument, which is brought to prove his Deity
from his omnipresence, will, for argument’s sake, allow him to be
omniscient, not considering that that equally proves him to be a divine
Person, as will be considered under our next head. Now, to prove that
Christ’s being present with his people, is to be understood of his
knowing what they do, they refer to that scripture, 2 Kings v. 26. in
which Elisha says to Gehazi, as knowing what he had done, when he
followed Naaman, the Syrian, for a reward; _Went not mine heart with
thee, when the man turned again from his chariot with thee?_ But since
this scripture signifies nothing else but that this secret was revealed
to him, which is, in a figurative way of speaking, as though he had been
present with him, it will not follow from hence that the prophet
pretended to know what was done in all places, and that at all times,
which is more (as will be farther observed under the next head) than
what seems communicable to any creature: but this is intended by
Christ’s knowing all things, and more than this, doubtless, is meant by
his being in the midst of his people, whereby he encourages them to
expect those blessings, which they stand in need of, from him, in which
respect he promises to be with them in a way of grace; and certainly he
that is so present with his people, must be concluded to be, in the most
proper sense, a divine Person.

There is another scripture, which is generally brought to prove Christ’s
omnipresence, and consequently his proper Deity, to wit, John iii. 13.
_And no man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from
heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven._ For the understanding
of which words, we must consider their connexion with what goes
immediately before; thus by, _No man hath ascended up into heaven, but
he that came down from heaven_, It is plain our Saviour means, that no
man has a full and comprehensive knowledge of heavenly things, of which
he had been speaking in the foregoing verse, but he that came down from
heaven; in which he asserts his divine omniscience[145], as the person
in whom all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid, as it is
expressed elsewhere; or none knows the mysteries which are hid in God,
but he that is in the bosom of the Father, who came down from heaven;
or, as the apostle expresses it, 1 Cor. xv. 47. who is _the Lord from
heaven_; and then, as a farther proof of his Deity, he adds, that _he is
in heaven_; that is, while he was on earth, in one nature, as being
omnipresent, he was in heaven in the other nature; and, agreeably to
this sense of the scripture, he is said to _come down from heaven_, as
his divine nature manifested its glory here on earth, when the nature
was united to it, which is the only sense in which God is said to come
down into this lower world; as we have the same mode of speaking, in
Gen. xi. 7. Exod. iii. 8. and other places; so that if he is thus
omnipresent, we must conclude that he is a divine Person.

The Arians give a very different sense of this text, especially those
words, _The Son of man, who is in heaven_;[146] for, they suppose, the
words ought to be rendered, _was in heaven_; and that it does not argue
his omnipresence, but that nature, which they call divine, first resided
in heaven from the beginning, when it was produced by the Father; and
afterwards in his incarnation, by a removal from heaven to earth it was
said to come down from thence. But, before we allow of this sense of the
text, they must prove that Christ was the first creature, and that, in
this finite nature, he resided in heaven till his incarnation, and that
he afterwards, by a change of place, descended into this lower world;
and, if they could make this appear, there is yet a difficulty in the
expression, as they understand the words; for it is not usual to say, I
came from a place, and was in that place before I came from it;
therefore whether their exposition of the words, or ours, be most
proper, I leave any one to judge.

As for the Socinians, who deny that Christ had any existence before his
incarnation, these are very much at a loss to account for the sense of
this scripture; though Socinus himself, and many of his followers, have
concluded from thence, that Christ was taken up into heaven some time
after his incarnation, which they suppose to have been in some part of
those forty days in which the scripture says he was in the wilderness
tempted of the devil; but how he could ascend into heaven, and yet be in
the wilderness, where one of the evangelists says he was all the forty
days, as Mark i. 13. cannot be easily understood, or accounted for; and,
indeed, the scripture is altogether silent as to this matter: and it is
very strange, if it had been so, that when we have an account of other
circumstances in his life, which are of less importance, no mention
should be made of this, which, had it been discovered, would have been a
great inducement to his followers to have paid the highest regard to his
doctrine; for they suppose he was taken up into heaven, that he might be
instructed in those things which he was to impart to the world. And,
instead of a proof hereof, they only say that this is a parallel
instance with that of Moses, who was called up to the top of mount
Sinai, which was then the immediate seat of the divine presence, and
there received the law, which he was to impart to Israel; so, they
suppose, it was necessary, that our Saviour should ascend into heaven,
that he might there be instructed in that doctrine, which he was to
communicate to his church.

But we cannot but conclude, that being omniscient, as will be proved
under our next head, he had no need to receive instructions, and having,
in his human nature, had an unction from the Holy Ghost; or, as it is
expressed, John iii. 34. that _God gave not the Spirit by measure unto
him_, therefore it was necessary that he should ascend into heaven, to
receive the doctrines from thence, which he was to deliver. Moreover,
according to this conjecture, his coming from heaven, in the end of
time, to judge the world, should have been called his _third_ coming,
(as his first coming from thence was in his incarnation, and his second
coming is supposed to be his return to this world, after he ascended
into heaven, during this interval of time) which is contrary to that
text of scripture, in Heb. ix. 28. which calls it, _his coming the
second time, without sin, unto salvation_. And, indeed, it is so
ungrounded a supposition, that some of the Socinians themselves reckon
it, at most, but a probable conjecture, but do not pretend to say that
it is sufficiently founded in scripture; and therefore we cannot think
that this will have any tendency to enervate the force of our argument,
to prove Christ’s Deity, taken from the above-mentioned sense of that
text; _The Son of man, which is in heaven_.

4. Our Saviour’s Deity may farther be proved, from his being omniscient:
thus the apostle Peter says, in John xxi. 17. _Lord thou knowest all
things, thou knowest that I love thee._ This is too great a glory to be
ascribed to any creature; and had it been spoken of the Father, the
Anti-trinitarians themselves would have owned, that it is as great a
proof of his Deity, as any contained in scripture, as importing the same
thing with what the Psalmist says, Psal. cxlvii. 5. _His understanding
is infinite._ But, besides this there is another expression that
abundantly proves this matter, wherein he is denominated the Searcher of
hearts, which is a glory that God appropriates to himself, in Jer. xvii.
10. _I the Lord search the hearts, I try the reins, even to give every
man according to his ways_; and elsewhere, 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. _The Lord
searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the
thoughts_; and all creatures are excluded from having any branch of this
glory, when it is said, in 1 Kings viii. 39. _Thou only knowest the
hearts of all the children of men_: now such a knowledge as this is
ascribed to Christ; sometimes he is said to know the _inward thoughts
and secret reasonings of men within themselves_, Mark ii. 8. And, if it
be said, that this is only a particular instance of knowledge, such as
he might have had by immediate divine inspiration, and therefore that it
does not prove his Godhead; there is another scripture, that speaks of
his knowledge, as more extensive, _viz._ that he knows the thoughts of
all men, John ii. 25. _He needed not that any one should testify of man,
for he knew what was in man_; and this his knowledge does not only
respect men’s present, but their future thoughts, which are not known to
themselves: thus it is said, in John vi. 64. that _he knew from the
beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him_.
And if all this be not reckoned sufficient to prove him to be the
heart-searching God, nothing can be expressed in plainer terms than this
is, concerning him, in Rev. ii. 23. _All the churches shall know that I
am he which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every
one of you, according to your works._

_Object._ 1. It is objected to this argument for Christ’s omniscience,
taken from Peter’s confession above-mentioned, _Lord, thou knowest all
things_, &c. that nothing else is intended hereby, but that he had a
very great degree of knowledge; not that he was strictly and properly
omniscient, as supposing that it is an hyperbolical expression, not
altogether unlike that of the woman of Tekoa to David, in 2 Sam. xiv.
20. when she says, _My lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel
of God, to know all things that are in the earth_.

_Answ._ It is true, this expression of her’s is either an unwarrantable
strain of compliment, or flattery, occasioned by David’s suspecting that
Joab had employed her to plead the cause of Absalom; or else it is a
sincere acknowledgment of his great wisdom, without supposing him to be
absolutely omniscient, as though she should say, thou knowest all things
that are done in the land: there is no plot or contrivance, how secret
soever it may be managed, but thou wilt, some way or other, find it out,
as thou hast done this that I am sent about. But what reference has this
to Peter’s confession? Does it follow, that because there are
hyperbolical expressions in scripture, as well as in other writings,
that this must be one? or because a wise governor may have a conjectural
knowledge of what is done by his subjects, when considering the various
circumstances that attend their actions, that therefore the apostle
intends nothing more than this? It is plain he appeals to Christ, as the
heart-searching God, concerning the inward sincerity of his love to him,
as well as of his repentance, after a public and shameful denial of him,
which might have given just occasion for its being called in question;
and it is as evident a proof of his omniscience, as that is of the
Father’s, in Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24. _Search me, O God, and know my heart;
try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me_,

_Object._ 2. Others, especially some of the Arians, do not so much deny
Christ’s omniscience, as the consequence deduced from it, to wit, his
proper Deity; and these make use of a more abstruse and metaphysical way
of reasoning, and accordingly they suppose that a creature may know all
things, that is, all finite objects, and consequently all things that
are done in the world, namely, all creatures, and all their actions,
since the object of this knowledge is, at most, but finite; therefore it
is possible for a finite mind to be so enlarged, as to take in all
finite things, or to have the knowledge of all things communicated to
it, since the object and the recipient are commensurate with each other.
Therefore our Saviour may know all things; and yet it will not follow
from hence, that his understanding is infinite, or that his knowledge is
so properly divine as the Father’s is; and consequently this is no
sufficient argument to prove his Deity in the sense in which we
understand it.

_Answ._ This method of reasoning might as well be used to evade the
force of every argument, brought from scripture, to prove the Father’s
omniscience, or, indeed, to evince his infinite power, since all effects
produced, which are the objects thereof, are but finite; and therefore
it may as well be said, that it does not require infinite power to
produce them, nor prove his eternal power and Godhead.

Moreover, as this would tend to destroy the infinite disproportion
between God and the creature in acting, so it supposes that God can
communicate a branch of his own glory to a creature, by enlarging it to
such a degree, as to take in all finite objects. There are some things
not so properly too great for God to do, as for a creature to be the
subject of: we do not pretend to set limits to the divine power; yet we
may infer, from the nature of things, and the powers of finite beings,
that it is impossible for any one, below God, to know all things past,
present, and to come, at one view; which our Saviour must be supposed to
do, or else this attribute of omniscience is not justly applied to him;
nor would he be fit to govern the world, as will be observed under a
following head; therefore we must conclude, from hence, that he is truly
and properly a divine Person.

To what has been said, concerning Christ’s omniscience, we may subjoin
those scriptures that speak of him, as the _wisdom of God_, the Fountain
of all communicated wisdom, _the light which lighteth every man that
cometh into the world_, as he is called, in John i. 9. And it is
supposed, by many, that _wisdom_ spoken of in Prov. viii. is to be
understood of our Saviour, as the personal wisdom of God, inasmuch as
there are several personal characters ascribed to him: thus it is said,
ver. 23. _I was set up from everlasting_, &c. and ver. 30, 31. _Then_,
to wit, before the creation of all things, _I was by him, as one brought
up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him,
rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with
the sons of men_. This cannot properly speaking, be applied to God’s
essential wisdom; it must therefore be a description of an eternal
divine Person, distinct from the Father.

But since many suppose, that whatever is spoken of wisdom, in this and
some other chapters of this book, is only metaphorical, or a beautiful
description of divine wisdom, as the instructor of mankind; though we
cannot see how this, if nothing else be intended by it, can agree with
some of the personal characters before mentioned, which seem applicable
to our Saviour; yet we find that he is elsewhere called the _wisdom of
God_, in a sense, that can by no means be supposed to be figurative:
thus when we read in Luke xi. 49. _Therefore also said the wisdom of
God, I will send them prophets and apostles_, &c. it is certainly
understood of our Saviour.[147] To which, if it be objected, that, by
the _wisdom of God_, is meant there the wise God, to wit, the Father; it
may be answered, that another evangelist, referring to the very same
thing, explains what is meant by the _wisdom of God_, and represents our
Saviour as speaking in his own Person, Matt. xxiii. 34. _Therefore,
behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes_, &c.

5. The next divine perfection that is ascribed to Christ, is almighty
power. This attribute is appropriated, by the Arians to the Father;[148]
and accordingly they suppose, that it implies not only his supremacy
over all creatures, but over the Son and Holy Ghost; and therefore they
peremptorily conclude it is never applied to them, and consequently that
the Deity of our Saviour cannot be proved by it; and that they may turn
our own weapons upon us, or improve some unwary concessions, made by
some very considerable writers, who have, in other respects, very well
defended the doctrine of the Trinity, they seem to insinuate, as though
this were a matter to be taken, as it were, for granted, though it might
easily be made appear, that they strain the sense of those expressions,
from whence they conclude them to have given up the cause to them,
beyond what they ever intended; and there are many others, who are far
from making such concessions.

As for the word παντοκρατωρ, _Almighty_, there is nothing in the
derivation thereof, from whence it may justly be inferred, that it is a
perfection, that contains a greater display of the divine glory, than
the other perfections, that are attributed to all the Persons in the
Godhead, though indeed it contains in it an idea of the universal extent
of divine power, with respect to the objects thereof; yet this is not to
be separated from the sense of the word, when power is ascribed to God
in those scriptures, where he is called _the Almighty_; therefore, if we
can prove that Christ has power ascribed to him, that is properly
divine, this will evince his Deity, as much as though we could produce
several scriptures, in which he is indisputably called _the Almighty_;
and this we shall first endeavour to do, and then enquire whether we
have not as much, or more reason to conclude, that he is called
Almighty, than they have to deny it.

That power, such as is properly divine, is attributed to Christ, may be
proved from that scripture before-mentioned, which is evidently applied
to him, Isa. ix. 6. where he is called, _the mighty God_; and, in Psal.
xlv. 3. which, as has been before observed, is spoken concerning him, in
which he is called _most mighty_; and, in Phil. iii. 21. we read of his
_changing our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious
body_; which is such an effect of power, as plainly argues it divine, as
much as the production of all things out of nothing could do; and this
is said to be done, _according to the working, whereby he is able to
subdue all things to himself_. We might observe many other things, which
he has done, and will do, that require infinite power, which we shall
have occasion to consider, when we prove his deity from his works under
a following head.

But since all this is to no purpose, with respect to those who deny his
proper Deity, unless we can prove that he is called _Almighty_; and the
whole stress of this argument is laid upon it, for no other reason, as I
presume, but because they think it impossible for us to do it: I shall
attempt it; and I hope to make it appear that we have greater
probability, on our side, that he is so called, than they have ground to
deny it. Here I shall take notice of this perfection of the divine
nature, as we find it in the book of the Revelations, in which this
attribute is mentioned nine times, and, in some places, seems to be
applied to the Father, but in others to the Son.

The first we shall mention is in chap. i. 8. _I am Alpha and Omega, the
beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and
which is to come, the Almighty_; which seems to be spoken of our

1. Because he is described at large in the three foregoing verses; and
there is nothing which gives the least ground to question its
application to him, unless that character s being given to the Person
here spoken of, which is given to the Father, in ver. 4. _which is, and
which was, and which is to come_; but since we find in other scriptures,
the same divine glories ascribed to the Son that had before been
ascribed to the Father; as in John v. 21. _As the Father raiseth the
dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will_; and
in Tit. iii. 4. the Father is called _God our Saviour_, as appears by
comparing it with the 5th and 6th verses; and so is Christ called, chap.
ii. 10, 13. therefore, why may not the Father and the Son be each of
them described with this character, _Which was, is, and is to come_? and
that more especially, if we consider, that the ascribing this to Christ,
is, in effect, the same with what is said of him elsewhere, Heb. xiii.
8. where he is said _to be the same yesterday, to-day, and for

2. It farther appears, that this text, in which the Person spoken of is
called _Almighty_, is applied to Christ, because that character, _Alpha_
and _Omega_, seems to be applied to none but him in other places, where
it is used. We find it four times in this book, _viz._ not only in this
verse, but in ver. 11. in which it is indisputably applied to him, as
will appear, by comparing it with the followings verses. And, in chap.
xxi. 6. he is again called _Alpha_ and _Omega_, which, that it is
applied to him, appears from the context; it is he that _makes all
things new_, or puts a new face upon the affairs of his church; and it
is he who commands John to write what he saw and heard; _He said unto
me, Write these words_, ver. 5. We may observe, that whereever John is
commanded, in this book, to write, it is Christ that gives forth the
command: thus he said to him before, chap. i. 19. _Write the things
which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which
shall be hereafter_; and he is again commanded to write, _Blessed are
the dead which die in the Lord_, by him who is called the Son of man,
chap. xiv. 13, 14.

Again, in chap. xxii. 13. he is called _Alpha_ and _Omega_, who is
described in the foregoing verse, _as coming quickly, whose reward is
with him_; which is undoubtedly meant of our Saviour; for it is said
concerning him, ver. 20. _Surely I come quickly, Amen: even so come,
Lord Jesus._

That which I infer from hence, is, that if Christ be styled _Alpha_ and
_Omega_, in all other placed in this book, it is more than probable he
is so in this 8th verse of the 1st chapter, in which he is said to be
_the Almighty_. And as he is called _Alpha_ and _Omega_, so the
explication of these words, wherever we meet with it in this book
without the words themselves, is applied to Christ: thus he is called,
chap. i. 17. and ii. 8. _the first and the last_; and, chap. iii. 14.
_the beginning of the creation of God_: from hence, I humbly conceive,
we have more ground to conclude, that Christ is called the _Almighty_ in
this verse, than the Arians have to deny it.

Again, there is another place in this book where he seems to be styled
_the Almighty_, chap. xv. 3. _And they sing the song of Moses, the
servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous
are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King
of saints._ This triumphant song is occasioned by one of the greatest
victories which the church expects to obtain in this world: by the song
of Moses, I humbly conceive, is meant the church’s celebrating the glory
of God, for the greatest victory that ever was obtained under the legal
dispensation; and the song of the Lamb, is an acknowledgment of the
greatest that is, or shall be obtained under the gospel-dispensation;
and, in celebrating the Lamb’s victories, they set forth the praises of
the mighty Conqueror in the following words, _Great and marvellous are
thy works, Lord God Almighty_: it is the Lamb that is every where
described in this book, as fighting the church’s battles, and obtaining
victory for it; therefore it is his glory which is here set forth.

And as he is always described, in this book, as thus fighting the
church’s battles; so it is he who is described as taking vengeance on
its enemies, which is the just consequence thereof. Therefore I cannot
but conclude, that he is spoken of, in chap. xvi. 6, 7. as having
_given_ their persecutors _blood to drink, for they were worthy_; and,
in ver. 7. _Even so Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy

Again, in chap. xvi. 14. we read of _the battle of that great day of God
Almighty_; and then it immediately follows, _Behold, I come as a thief
in the night_, &c. which expression is known to be elsewhere applied to
our Saviour, and to none but him; and that it is he who fights the
church’s battles, is evident from chap. xvii. 14. _These shall make war
with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overthrow them_; and from chap. xix.
12, &c. where it is said, _his eyes were as a flame of fire_; as he is
elsewhere described, chap. i. 14. to denote that the great day of his
wrath was come; and his name is called, in the 13th verse of this 19th
chapter, _the Word of God_; and we read of the _armies which followed
him_, and that _out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that he might
smite the nations_. From whence we may conclude, that since Christ is
represented, in so many places in this book, as fighting with, and
triumphing and reigning over his enemies, inflicting his plagues upon
them, and delivering his church from their persecution, which is a work
of divine power, he is fitly styled in several places, _Lord God

We might consider several other divine attributes ascribed to Christ,
which prove his Deity, _viz._ holiness, truth, and faithfulness: thus,
in Rev. iii. 7. _These things saith he that is holy, he that is true_;
and he is farther described in the following words, as having
uncontroulable power; _who openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth,
and no man openeth_. That this is spoken of him, is beyond dispute; and
in chap. vi. 10. _They cried with a loud voice, How long, O Lord, holy
and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell
upon the earth?_ to whom did they cry but to the Lamb, who is said to
have opened the seals, or to have discovered the mysteries that were
thereby revealed, as in ver. 1.? And when he had opened the sixth seal,
he is described, as hearing his church’s prayer, and avenging their
blood, and so is represented as coming to judgment, in a very terrible
manner; upon which occasion it is said, _the great day of his wrath is
come_; and therefore it is he who is described as _holy and true_.

But if it be replied to this, that creatures are sometimes called holy
and true, we may farther add, that it is Christ to whom it is said,
chap. xv. 4. _Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name, for
thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee,
for thy judgments are made manifest._ This I infer from what has been
before considered, that it is he who obtains victory over, and pours
forth his judgments on his church’s enemies; and it is he whose praises
are celebrated in the song of the Lamb, mentioned in the verse
immediately foregoing.

Having considered several divine perfections, as ascribed to our
Saviour, and these so glorious, that nothing greater can be mentioned to
set forth the glory of a divine Person; yet we may add hereunto, those
glorious titles that are given him with a design to excite in us adoring
and admiring thoughts of him: amongst which we shall only mention some
which are either the same with, or are equivalent to those which are
given to the Father, which they who deny Christ’s Deity, cannot but own
to be distinguishing characters of a divine Person, when so applied.
Thus, is the Father styled, in Heb. xiii. 20. _The God of peace_? our
Saviour is styled, in Isa. ix. 6. _The Prince of peace_; and he is said,
Eph. ii. 14. to be _our peace_; and as peace includes in it all the
blessings that accompany salvation, Christ’s being styled the Author
thereof, denotes him to be the Fountain of blessedness, which he could
not be, were he not a divine Person.

Again, as God is called _a Sun_, and _a Shield_, Psal. lxxxiv. 9. so
Christ is called, in Mal. iv. 2. _The Sun of Righteousness_; and, in
Isa. xxxii. 2. _An hiding place from the wind, a covert from the
tempest, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land._

Again, it is said of God the Father, Deut. xxx. 20. _He is thy life, and
the length of thy days_; our Saviour says, concerning himself, in John
xi. 25. compared with chap. xiv. 6. that he is _the life_; and, Acts
iii. 15. he is called _the Prince of life_; and, in Colos. iii. 4. _our
life_. Again, is the Father called, in Psal. lxxx. 1. _The Shepherd of
Israel_? Christ is called, in Heb. xiii. 20. _That great Shepherd of the

Moreover, is God often described in scripture as a glorious King; as in
Zeph. iii. 15. _The King of Israel, even the Lord in the midst of thee_?
our Saviour is styled, in Isa. vi. 5. _The King, the Lord of hosts_;
and, in John i. 49. _The King of Israel_; and, in Rev. xix. 16. _King of
kings, and Lord of lords._

Again, is God styled the _Hope of Israel_, Jer. xiv. 8? our Saviour
seems to be so called by the apostle, when he says, in Acts xxviii. 20.
_for the Hope of Israel, I am bound with this chain_, that is, for
Christ’s sake, who is the object of his people’s hope. However, whether
he is intended thereby, or no, in that scripture, he is called elsewhere
_our hope_, 1 Tim. i. 1. compared with Coloss. i. 27.

Moreover, is God the object of desire, so that there is _nothing in
heaven or earth_, or within the whole compass of finite beings, that is
to be desired _besides_, or in comparison with _him_, as the Psalmist
says, Psal. lxxiii. 25? our Saviour is called, in Hag. ii. 7. _The
desire of all nations._ I might refer to many other glorious titles that
are given to him in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of the Revelations, in the
epistles to the seven churches; every one of which is prefaced with such
a character given of him, as is designed to strike them with an holy
reverence, and esteem of him, as a divine Person. Thus concerning those
proofs of Christ’s Deity, which are taken from the names, attributes,
and titles which are given to him; which leads us to consider,

III. The next head of argument taken from those works, which have been
done by our Saviour, that are proper to God alone. Divine works argue a
divine efficient, or that he has infinite power, and consequently that
he is an infinite Person, or truly and properly God, who performs them.
Now these works are of two sorts; either of nature and common
providence, or of grace, to wit, such as immediately respect our
salvation; in all which, he acts beyond the power of a creature, and
therefore appears to be a divine Person.

1. He appears to be so, from his having created all things. He that made
the world, must be before it; and therefore since time began with the
first creature, as has been before observed, it follows that he must be
before time, that is, from eternity.

Again, he that created all things, must have a sovereign will, for whose
_pleasure they are, and were created_, Rev. iv. 11. And it follows from
hence, that he has an undoubted right to all things, and that he might
have annihilated them, had it been his pleasure; and also, that he has a
right to dispose of them as he will, as the potter has power over his
clay. All these things are consequent on the work of creation; therefore
it is an undeniable argument, that he, who created all things, must be

It may also be observed, that to create, is to exert infinite power, or
to act above the power of a creature, which, at best, is but finite: now
whatever is more than finite, must be infinite; and consequently he who
created all things, must exert infinite power, and that is certainly
such as is truly divine.

We might farther consider, that there are many scriptures which
appropriate creation to God, and, indeed, it cannot be otherwise; for to
suppose that a creature gave being to itself, is to suppose him to be
both a cause and an effect, and consequently to be, and not to be, at
the same time, to exist as a creator, and not to exist as brought into
being, which is a plain contradiction; and it is evident, that, in
scripture, the creature is opposed to the Creator: thus, in Rom. i. 25.
it is said, _they worshipped and served the creature more than the
Creator, who is blessed forever_. And there are several scriptures that
speak of creation, as a distinguishing evidence of divine glory: thus,
in Isa. xl. 28. we have a magnificent description of God, taken more
especially from this work, when he is called, _The everlasting God, the
Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth_; and, in chap. xlii. 5.
_Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched
them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of
it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them
that walk therein_; in which, and many other scriptures of the like
nature, which might be referred to, it appears that creation is a work
peculiar to God.

The next thing we are to prove is, that our Saviour created all things.
There are many who think that this may be proved from the work of
creation’s being ascribed to more persons than one; and therefore when
we read of creators, in the plural number, as it is in the original, in
Eccles. xii. 1. _Remember thy Creator_, or creators; and when God, in
creating man, is represented as speaking after this manner, _Let us make
man after our own image_, &c. this seems to imply that there were more
divine Persons engaged in this work than the Father.

I do not indeed lay so much stress on this argument, as many do, yet it
is not wholly to be neglected; for, I confess, I cannot see any reason
why there should be such a mode of expression used, were it not to
signify this divine mystery, of a plurality of Persons in the Godhead,
to whom this work is ascribed.

_Object._ As for the objection, which some of the Anti-trinitarians,
especially the Socinians, bring against it, that this mode of speaking,
is such as is used in conformity to the custom of kings who, speak in
the plural number;

_Answ._ To this it may be answered, that though kings do often speak in
the plural number, yet this is only a modern way of speaking, implying,
that whatever a king does, is by the advice of some of his subjects, who
are his peculiar favourites, and who are also made use of to fulfil his
will; but, nevertheless, this way of speaking is not so ancient as
scripture-times, much less as Moses’s time, or the beginning of the
world, which he refers to, when God is represented as thus speaking. It
is the custom of kings, in scripture, to speak in the singular number:
and it is very absurd to pretend to explain any mode of speaking used in
scripture, by customs of speech, not known till many ages after.

I am sensible, some think that mode of speaking used by Ahasuerus Esth.
i. 15. _What shall we do unto the queen_ Vashti, _according to law?_ is
a proof that it was used in former ages. But the words may be rendered,
_What is to be done_, according to law, &c. or what is expedient for me
to do? and therefore it doth not prove that kings used, in ancient
times, to speak of themselves in the plural number; and consequently it
cannot be argued, that when God is represented as speaking so in
scripture, it is in compliance with any such custom. Besides, whenever
he is represented as speaking in scripture, in all other instances,
excepting those that are supposed to be contained in our argument, he is
always represented as speaking in the singular number; and therefore it
seems still more probable, that this variation from his usual way of
speaking, is not without some reason, and that hereby we are led into
this doctrine, that there are more divine Persons than one, that created
all things.

But not to insist on this, since we have more plain proofs hereof in
scripture, it evidently appears that Christ made all things, not only
from what is said in John i. 3. that _all things were made by him; and
without him was not any thing made that was made_; but, from Col. i. 16.
_By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are on
earth, visible and invisible, whether they are thrones, or dominions, or
principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him_;
in which he is not only said to be the Creator, but the end of all
things, which is the same with what is said in Prov. xvi. 4. that _the
Lord hath made all things for himself_.

This farther appears from Psal. cii. 25. _Of old hast thou laid the
foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands_;
which is expressly applied to Christ by the apostle, in Heb. i. 10.

By these, and such-like scriptures, it evidently appears that Christ
made all things. The Socinians, indeed, who are sensible that creation
was an evident proof of divine power, and therefore that the Creator of
all things must be God, labour very hard to prove that all those
scriptures that ascribe this work to our Saviour, are to be taken in a
metaphorical sense, and so signify nothing else but his being the author
of the gospel-state, which is a kind of new creation peculiar to him;
and that he did this as a prophet, revealing those doctrines which
relate thereunto; and accordingly they take the sense of that scripture,
in John i. 2, 3. which speaks of his being _in the beginning, and that
all things were made by him_, as intending nothing else, but that he was
in the beginning of the gospel, and that whatever was made, or ordained,
to be a standard and rule of faith, was by him; and that, in the
discharge of this work, he was to restore decayed religion, and to
correct several mistaken notions, which the Jews had entertained
concerning the moral law, to add some new precepts to it, and give
directions concerning that mode of worship which should be observed in
the church for the future. This is all they suppose to be intended by
that work, which is ascribed to Christ as a Creator; whereas, in this
scripture, it is plainly said, that there was nothing in the whole frame
of nature, nothing that was an effect of power, made without him. And
there is another scripture, which cannot, with any colour of reason, be
understood in that sense, _viz._ in Col. i. 16. _By him were all things
created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and
invisible_; where the apostle speaks of the creation of angels and men,
as well as all other things: now, certainly, Christ did not come into
the world to rectify any mistakes or restore decayed religion among the
angels, therefore the apostle here plainly proves that our Saviour
created all things.

But since this opinion of the Socinians is now almost universally
exploded by the Anti-trinitarians, we have no occasion to add any thing
farther in opposition to it; but shall proceed to consider what the
Arians say concerning Christ’s creating all things. These allow that the
work of creation is ascribed to him; but they deny that this argues him
to be God in the same sense as the Father is. The account which they
give thereof is, that God, to wit, the Father, created all things by the
Son, as an instrument, created by him, immediately for that purpose; so
that the Son was an inferior, or second cause of the production of all
things; and therefore that it cannot, from thence, be concluded that he
is God equal with the Father.

What I would humbly offer, in opposition hereunto is,

1. That, in this account of creation, there is not a just difference put
between the natural and supernatural production of things, of which the
latter can only be called creation; therefore, if these two be
confounded, the distinguishing character of a Creator is set aside, and
consequently the glory arising from hence cannot be appropriated to God;
nor is that infinite perfection, that is displayed therein, duly
considered, but according to this scheme or method of reasoning a
creature may be a Creator, and a Creator a creature; nor can the
_eternal power and Godhead_ of the divine Being be demonstrated by the
things that are made or created, as the apostle says they are in Rom. i.

2. From that first mistake arises another, namely, that because, in
natural productions, that which was created by God, may be rendered
subservient to the production of other things; in which respect it may
be termed an instrument made use of by a superior cause, and may have an
energy or method of acting, peculiar to itself, whereby it produces
effects according to the course and laws of nature, fixed by God, the
first cause of all things; therefore they suppose, though without
sufficient ground that God might create all things by an instrument, or
second cause thereof, as they conclude he did by the Son.

3. Notwithstanding we must assert, that creation being a supernatural
production of things, what has been said concerning natural production,
is not applicable to it; therefore,

4. Though things may be produced in a natural way, by second causes,
whose powers are limited, and subjected as aforesaid, to the laws of
nature; yet supernatural effects cannot be produced by any thing short
of infinite power; therefore, since creation is a supernatural work, it
must be concluded to be a work of infinite power.

5. It follows, from hence, that it is not agreeable to the idea of
creation, or the producing all things out of nothing, for God to make
use of an instrument. That this may appear, let it be considered, that
whatever instrument is made use of, it must be either finite or
infinite. An infinite instrument cannot be made use of, for then there
would be two infinites, one superior, the other inferior. Nor can a
finite one be made use of, for that, according to our last proposition,
cannot produce any supernatural effect, as creation is supposed to be,
which requires infinite power, and that cannot be exerted by a finite
medium, therefore no such instrument can be used. Moreover, if it
requires infinite power to create all things, this power, in its method
of acting, would be limited, by the instrument it makes use of; for
whatever power a superior cause has in himself, the effect produced, by
an instrument will be in proportion to the weakness thereof. This some
illustrate by the similitude of a giant’s making use of a straw, or a
reed, in striking a blow in which the weakness of the instrument renders
the power of the person that uses it insignificant. Thus if God the
Father should make use of the Son, in the creation of all things, the
power that is exerted by him therein, can be no other than finite; but
that is not sufficient for the production of things supernatural, which
require infinite power. To this we may add,

6. That the creation of all things is ascribed to the sovereignty of the
divine will; accordingly the Psalmist describing it, in Psal. xxxiii. 9.
says, _He spake and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast_; so
when God, in Gen. i. 3. said, _Let there he light, and there was light_;
and when we read of the other parts of the creation, as produced by his
almighty word, it implies that they were produced by an act of his will.
Now it seems impossible, from the nature of the thing, that an
instrument should be made use of in an act of willing any more than in
an act of understanding.

7. No cause can reasonably be assigned why God should make use of an
instrument in the production of all things; for certainly he that, by
his immediate power, produced the instrument, might without any
difficulty, or absurdity, attending the supposition, have created all
things immediately without one. And we must farther suppose, that if
there were nothing in the nature of things, which required him to make
use of an instrument, he would not, by making use of one, to wit, the
Son, administer occasion to him, to assume so great a branch of his own
glory, namely, that of being the Creator of the ends of the earth; or
for his being, as the result thereof, worshipped as a divine Person
supposing him to have a right to divine worship, for no other reason.

_Object._ 1. Though no one supposes that God stood in need of an
instrument, or could not have created all things without it, yet we must
conclude that he did not, because the scripture speaks of the Father’s
creating all things by the Son; and when one person is said to do any
thing by another, it implies that he makes use of him as an instrument

_Answ._ This seems to be the only foundation on which this doctrine is
built. But there is no necessity of understanding the words in this
sense, especially if we consider that all effects are produced by the
power of God; and this power, supposing the Son to be a divine Person,
(which we have endeavoured, by other arguments, to prove) must belong to
him; and the Father, and the Son being united, in the same Godhead, one
cannot act without the other; therefore whatever is said to be done by
the Father, may, in this sense, be said to be done by the Son; for
though the Persons are distinct, the power exerted is the same.

Thus a learned writer[150] accounts for this matter, when he says, that
“The Son is of the same nature and substance with the Father, so nearly
allied, so closely united, that nothing could be the work of one,
without being, at the same time, the work of both: Hence it was, that
the Son was Joint-creator with the Father, that all things were made by
him, and nothing without him; it was not possible for them either to
act, or to exist separately; and therefore it is that the work of
creation is, in scripture, attributed to both.” This is a very safe as
well as a just way of reasoning, consistent with, and founded on the
doctrine of the Father and the Son’s being united in the same Godhead,
though distinct Persons; and therefore it is agreeable to the sense of
those scriptures, which attribute this work to the Son, in the same
sense, as when it is attributed to the Father.

But I am sensible that the Arians will reply to it; that this does not
sufficiently account for that subordination in acting, that seems to be
implied in the sense of those scriptures, in which the Father is said to
have created all things by the Son; therefore I shall take leave to
speak more particularly to those texts that treat of this matter, where
the same mode of speaking is used. And though there are several
scriptures that represent the Son as a Creator, or consider all things,
as being made by him, as well as the Father, or as a Joint-creator with
him; yet there are but two places in the New Testament, in which the
Father is said to have created all things by the Son, namely, Eph. iii.
9. in which it is said, _that God_, that is, the Father, _created all
things by Jesus Christ_; and the other is in Heb. i. 2. where it is
said, _by whom also he made the worlds_.

We have already considered the absurdity of the Socinian way of
expounding those other scriptures, that speak of Christ as a Creator, in
which he is not said to act in subserviency to, but co-ordinately with
the Father. But inasmuch as God the Father is, in these scriptures, said
to create all things by Jesus Christ, I shall humbly offer it, as my
opinion, that though the other scriptures, in which Christ is set forth
as a Creator, have no reference to him as Mediator, nor to the new
creation, yet this seems to be the more probable sense of both these

As for the former of them, though some suppose that it is needless to
give the sense of it, since the words, _by Jesus Christ_,[152] are
wanting in some ancient copies of scripture, as well as in the vulgar
Latin and Syriac versions; yet, since there are many copies that have
it, we will suppose it to be genuine; and that we may account for the
sense of it, we may observe that the apostle makes use of the word
_create_ three times in this epistle; we find it, in chap. ii. 10. and
iv. 24. in both which places it is taken for the new creation, which is
brought about by Christ, as Mediator; and, I humbly conceive, that it
may be taken so, in this verse, which we are now considering; and
therefore this is a part of that mystery, of which the apostle speaks in
the foregoing words, _that was hid in God_; and this sense seems not to
be excluded, by those who suppose, that in other respects, it has some
reference to the first creation of all things.[153]

As for the other scripture, _by whom also he made the worlds_, δι ου και
τους αιωνας εποιησεν, that is, by whom he made, instituted, or ordained,
the various dispensations, which the church was under, either before or
since his incarnation; this was certainly done by him as Mediator; and
herein he acted in subserviency to the Father, as well as in all other
works performed by him, as having this character. I would not be too
peremptory in determining this to be the sense of the text, inasmuch as
the apostle speaks _of his upholding all things_, in the following
verse, which is well put after this account of his having created them:
I am also sensible that the word which we translate _worlds_, is used in
Heb. xi. 3. to signify the world that was at first created, in the most
proper sense of the word _creation_, when the apostle says, that
_through faith we understand that the worlds_, τους αιωνας _were framed
by the word of God_, &c. But yet when I find that in many other places
of the New Testament, where the word is used, it is taken in the sense
but now given,[154] I cannot but conclude it the more probable sense of
the text; but that which most of all determines me to acquiesce in it,
is, because the subserviency of the Son to the Father in this work is
most agreeable to it.

If it be objected, that this sense of the text coincides with that which
is given of it by Socinus, and his followers, which we before-mentioned
and opposed;

To this I answer, that the sense I have given of it, is very foreign to
theirs, who endeavour thereby to evade the force of the argument brought
from it, to prove our Saviour’s Deity; whereas we only exchange one
argument, for the proof thereof, for another; for it seems to me to be
as great an evidence, that he is a divine Person, when considered as the
Author and Founder of the church, in all the ages thereof, or the rock
on which it is built, as when he is called, Creator of the world: if he
be the supreme Head, Lord, and Lawgiver to his church, in all the ages
thereof; if the faith and hope of all that shall be saved, is founded
upon him, as the great Mediator, Redeemer, and Sovereign thereof, then
certainly he is God, equal with the Father.

_Object._ 2. To what has been before suggested, upon which the chief
stress of our reasoning depends, _viz._ that a finite creature cannot be
an instrument in supernatural productions, it is objected, that miracles
are supernatural productions; but these have been wrought by men, as
instruments in the hand of God; therefore the creation of all things may
as well be supposed to have been performed by the Son, as an instrument
made use of to this end by the Father.

_Answ._ That miracles are supernatural productions, no one denies; and
it follows from hence, that they are either a species of creation, or
equivalent to it; therefore if it be allowed that a creature can have
power communicated to him to work them, and therein may be said to be an
instrument made use of by God, then we cannot reasonably deny that God
the Father might use the Son as an instrument in creating all things.
But we must take leave to deny that any, who are said to have wrought
miracles, have had infinite power communicated to them for that purpose;
therefore they are not properly instruments in the hand of God, to
produce supernatural effects; but all that they have done therein, was
only by addressing themselves to God, that he would put forth his
immediate power in working the miracle; and in giving the people, for
whose sake it was to be wrought, occasion to expect it; and afterwards
improving it for their farther conviction. It is true, miracles are
oftentimes said to have been wrought by men; but, I humbly conceive,
nothing more than this is intended thereby; which, that it may appear,
we may observe, that sometimes they who have wrought them, have not made
use of any action herein, but only given the people ground to expect the
divine interposure: thus, immediately before the earth swallowed up
Korah and his company, Moses gave the people to expect this miraculous
event, Numb. xvi. 28-30. _And Moses said, Hereby shall ye know that the
Lord hath sent me. If these men die the common death of all men, then
the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord make a new thing, and the
earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, then shall ye know that these
men have provoked the Lord_; and as soon as he had spoken the words, the
ground clave asunder, and swallowed them up. This might be reckoned
among the miracles wrought by Moses; though all that he did was only
what tended to raise the people’s expectation, that such an
extraordinary event should immediately happen. Again, at other times,
when a miracle has been wrought, we read of nothing done but only a word
spoken to signify that God would work it: thus, when the captain, with
his fifty men, was sent by the king of Israel, to the prophet Elijah, to
command him to come to him, the prophet uses this mode of speaking, 2
Kings i. 12. _If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and
consume thee and thy fifty_; which immediately happened accordingly.

At other times, when miracles have been wrought, the Person, who, in the
sense but now mentioned, is said to work them, has made use of some
external and visible sign, which was either an ordinance for his own
faith, if no one was present but himself; as when the prophet Elisha
smote the waters of Jordan with Elijah’s mantle, and said, 2 Kings ii.
14. _Where is the Lord God of Elijah?_ or else the sign, being given by
divine direction, was an ordinance for the faith of the people present,
whose conviction was intended thereby; not that they should suppose that
the action used had any tendency to produce the miracle: but it was only
designed to raise their expectation, that God would work it by his
immediate power; as when Moses was commanded, in Exod. xiv. 16. _to lift
up his rod, and stretch out his hand over the sea, and divide it, that
Israel might pass through_; or, in chap. xvii. 6. _to smite the rock_,
whereupon God caused water to come out of it; and in several other
actions, which he used, by divine direction, when other miracles were
wrought; in which respect, though he was said, in a less proper way of
speaking, to have wrought them, yet he was no more than a moral
instrument herein, and therefore the divine power was not communicated
to, or exerted by him; and if creatures have been instruments in working
miracles in no other sense than this, it cannot be inferred from hence
that Christ might be made use of by the Father, as an instrument in
creating the world: a moral instrument he could not be; for there was no
doctrine contested, no truth to be confirmed thereby, no subjects
present to expect a divine interposure; and, indeed, none ever supposed
that the Son of God was an instrument in this sense; therefore if no one
ever was an instrument in any other, nor could be from the nature of the
thing, as has been already proved, then the force of the argument, which
we have laid down to prove it, is not in the least weakened by this

Thus we have endeavoured to prove the divinity of Christ from the work
of creation.

2. We shall proceed to consider how our Saviour’s Deity appears, from
those works of providence, which are daily performed by him. Providence
is as much a divine work, and contains as glorious a display of the
divine perfections, as creation; and this is twofold, _viz._ preserving
and governing. With respect to the former of these, some divines have
asserted, that it is, as it were, a continued creation, not formally so;
but as the one produces a creature, the other prevents its sinking into
nothing; and because it is, in all respects, dependent on the power of
God, and as much so, for the continuance of its being, as it was for its
being brought into being; therefore conserving providence is an evidence
of the divine power of him who sustains all things.

Now that this glory belongs to our Saviour, is plain from scripture,
which speaks of him, in Heb. i. 3. _as upholding all things by the word
of his power_; and in Coloss. i. 17. it is said, _by him all things
consist_; both these scriptures respect this branch of divine
providence, namely, his preserving all things in being; and this is
certainly more than can be said of any creature. And it is not pretended
that herein he acts as the Father’s instrument, even by those who
suppose that he was so, in the creation of all things, inasmuch as
scripture does not speak of God’s upholding all things by him, but of
Christ’s upholding them by his own, that is, the divine power; so that
we have as plain a proof of his Deity, from his upholding providence, as
there is of the being of a God, which is evidently inferred from it.

As to the other branch of providence, respecting the government of the
world in general, or of the church in particular, this is also ascribed
to Christ, and thereby his Godhead is farther proved. Whatever degree of
limited dominion may be said to belong to creatures; yet universal
dominion belongs only to God; and this is assigned, as one ground and
reason of his right to divine honour; therefore it is said, in Job xxv.
2. _Dominion and power are with him_, that is, there is a holy reverence
due to him, as the supreme Lord and Governor of the world; and, in Psal.
lxvii. 4. when it is said concerning the great God, that _he shall judge
the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth_, this is
considered as the foundation of universal joy, _O let the nations be
glad, and sing for joy_; and of praise, ver. 5. _Let the people praise
thee, O God; let all the people praise thee_; and, in Psal. xxii. 28.
when it is said, _the kingdom is the Lord’s; and he is the Governor
among the nations_; this is assigned, as the reason of their worshipping
him, ver. 27. _All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto
the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before
thee._ This therefore is, undoubtedly, a branch of the divine glory; so
that if we can prove that universal dominion belongs to Christ, or that
he is the Governor of the world, and of the church therein, this will
plainly evince his Deity.

1. Let us consider him as the Governor of the world. This seems to be
the meaning of several expressions of scripture, in which royal dignity
is ascribed to him; and he is represented as sitting upon a throne, and
_his throne to be for ever and ever_, Psal. xlv. 6. and he infinitely
greater than all the kings of the earth; upon which account, he is
called, in Rev. i. 5. _The Prince of the kings of the earth_; and they
are commanded to testify their subjection to him, and all are
represented as blessed that _put their trust in him_, Psal. ii. 12. And
as his kingdom is considered, in John xviii. 36. as _not being of this
world_, and the honours due to him, such as are divine, this farther
proves his Deity.

Moreover, his universal dominion, and consequently his Godhead, is
evinced by that glorious character, which we have before
considered[155], as belonging to him, namely, the Lord of hosts, as the
prophet Isaiah says, speaking of the vision which he had of his glory,
in chap. vi. 5. _Mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts_, as
denoting his sovereignty over all the hosts of heaven, and all creatures
in this lower world, as he governs them, and makes one thing subservient
to another, and all this is done to set forth his own glory.

2. This will farther appear, if we consider him as the Governor of his
church; in this he has access to the souls of men, working in them those
graces, which are the effects of almighty power, which he does, when
they are effectually called; and the work of sanctification, which is
consequent hereupon, is carried on till it is perfected. We shall have
occasion, under some following answers[156], to prove that these are
divine and supernatural works; the more full and particular proof
whereof, we shall reserve to its proper place, and only observe, at
present, that they are spoken of as such in scripture, and ascribed to
the exceeding greatness of the power of God, no less than that _which he
wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead_, Eph. i. 18,——20.
and elsewhere they are called a _new creation_, chap. ii. 1. _a
quickening_ or _resurrection_, _a breaking the rock in pieces_, _taking
away the heart of stone_, _giving an heart of flesh_, or _a new heart_;
Jer. xxiii. 29. Ezek. xxxvi. 26. which expressions would never have been
used, had not the work been divine and supernatural; therefore it
follows from hence, that since Christ is the Author of this internal
work, he is a divine Person. Now that he is so, is obvious, from many
places in the New Testament; as when he is styled, in Heb. xii. 2. _The
Author and Finisher of our faith_; and when the apostle, in 1 Tim. i.
14. speaks of _faith and love abounding, which is in Christ Jesus_, he
speaks, at the same time, of the _grace of our Lord abounding_, as the
spring and fountain thereof; and when the apostles, in Luke xvii. 5.
desire him to _increase their faith_, not in an objective way, as
affording some greater foundation for it, but subjectively, by an
internal work, exciting and promoting the principle thereof, which was
before implanted in them; and so causing all those graces, that
accompany it, to abound, as the effects of his divine power.

We might farther consider Christ’s spiritual government, as extended to
his church, collectively considered, which is exposed to many dangers
and difficulties, and meets with much opposition from its enemies, who
attempt its ruin, but in vain, because it is the object of the divine
care, kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation: for which
reason, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Now this is, in
a peculiar manner, the work of Christ; he is the rock on which it is
built; and his presence, in the midst of his people, is not only their
glory, but their safety; which it would not be, if he were no more than
a creature. We might also consider the subserviency of the various
dispensations of providence in the world to their good, as he is _Head
over all things to the church_, Eph. i. 22. which could not answer that
valuable end, had he not been a divine Person.

We might farther consider how the divine glory of Christ will be
demonstrated, in his second coming to compleat the work of salvation,
begun in this world. To prepare a way for this, there will be an
universal resurrection of the dead, which will be no less an effect of
almighty power, than the creation of all things was at first. I need not
therefore say any thing farther to prove this to be a divine work; we
need only prove that this general resurrection shall be performed by
Christ: this might be proved from several scriptures; in one whereof he
expressly asserts it himself, in words very plain and particular, _viz._
John vi. 38. _The hour is coming, in which all that are in their graves
shall hear his voice, and shall come forth_, &c.

Moreover, when, at the same time, he is represented as coming in the
clouds, with power and great glory, in his _own glory_, as well as _that
of the Father, and of the holy angels_, in Luke ix. 26. the most natural
sense of that text seems to be this, that his divine glory, which is
called _his own_, which was comparatively hid from his people, while he
was here on earth, shall eminently be demonstrated in his second coming,
and also that Mediatorial glory, which he has received from the Father,
as what he had a right to, on his having accomplished the work of
redemption, which he came into the world about; and then there is the
glory of his retinue, as appearing with all his holy angels; which bears
some resemblance to that expression whereby the majesty of God is set
forth upon another occasion, namely, as appearing on mount Sinai, to
give the law, when it is said, in Deut. xxxiii. 2. _The Lord came with
ten thousands of saints._ And to this we may add, that the work, which
he shall, immediately after this, be engaged in, to wit, that of judging
the world in righteousness, plainly proves his Deity, since none but a
divine Person can judge the secrets of all men, and bring to light every
thing that has been done, from the beginning to the end of time; and
this is to be done, in that day; for it is said, in Eccles. xii. 14.
_That God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing,
whether it be good, or whether it be evil._ This is a farther
improvement of that argument, before laid down to prove his divinity
from his omniscience; if his judgment must be, as the apostle says, in
Rom. ii. 2. _according to truth_, and consequently performed with the
greatest impartiality, as well as an exquisite knowledge or discerning
of the cause, without which it could not be said, that _the Judge of all
the earth does right_, (as he certainly will) in Gen. xviii. 25. and if
rewards shall be proportioned to every work done, so that every one
shall receive as the apostle says, in 2 Cor. v. 10. _according to what
he has done, whether it be good or bad_; and if persons are to be
rewarded, or punished, for all the secret springs of action, which must
be reckoned either good or bad, according to what they produce, as well
as the actions themselves; and if this respects not particular persons
only, but all men, who have lived, or shall live, from the beginning to
the end of the world, it evidently proves, that he, to whom this
glorious work is ascribed, must be a divine Person.

And to this we may add, that the manner of his appearing, with the
terror, as well as the majesty of a judge, being such as shall strike
his enemies with the utmost horror and confusion, is a farther proof of
this matter. This is represented in a lively manner, in Rev. vi. 15-17.
in which it is said, _the kings of the earth, and the great men_, those
who once rendered themselves formidable to their subjects shall desire
to _hide themselves in the dens and rocks of the mountains, and shall
say to the rocks and to the mountains, fall on us, and hide us from the
face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the
Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to
stand?_ And,

_Lastly_, He will not only pronounce the sentence but execute it, and
that with respect to his saints and subjects; and his enemies: as to the
former of these he will not only command them to come, and possess the
kingdom prepared for them, but the blessedness which he will confer upon
them, pursuant thereunto, is called the beatific vision, in 1 John iii.
2. _We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is_; and the
happiness of heaven is described in such a way as plainly proves our
Saviour to be the fountain thereof, and consequently a divine Person;
for it is represented as a state, in which they will _behold his glory_,
John xvii. 24. whereas certainly the beholding the glory of the most
exalted creature, falls infinitely short of this ingredient in the
heavenly blessedness.

And on the other hand, the immediate impressions of the wrath of God on
the consciences of his enemies, or the power of his anger, which shall
render them eternally miserable, when banished from his presence, proves
him to be a divine Person, inasmuch as the highest degree of misery
consists in a separation, or departure from him, which it could not do,
if he were not the fountain of blessedness; nor could the punishment of
sinners be proportioned to their crimes, if it were not to be inflicted
by the _glory of his power_; the apostle joins both these together, in 2
Thess. i. 9. though some understand the words, as implying, that their
punishment proceeds from his immediate presence, in the display of the
greatness of his power, as a sin-avenging Judge; in either of which
senses, it argues him to be a divine Person. And that it is our Saviour
who is spoken of, is evident, from the foregoing and following verses;
it is he who shall appear _in flaming fire_, taking vengeance on them
that know not God, and obey not the gospel; and it is he that shall
_come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that
believe_; so that we have a very plain proof of his Deity, from the
exercise of his government, either in this or the other world.

Having endeavoured to prove the divinity of Christ, from his works of
creation and providence and under the former of these, offered some
things in answer to the methods taken by the Socinians, and especially
the Arians, in accounting for the sense of those scriptures that speak
of the Father’s creating all things by the Son; it is necessary for us
now to consider the most material objections, brought by the
Anti-trinitarians in general, against what has been said in defence of
this doctrine, taken from the works of common and special providence, as
ascribed to him, and, in particular, from the administration of his
kingdom of grace; it is therefore objected.

_Object._ 1. That his kingdom, and power of acting, in the
administration of the affairs relating thereunto, is wholly derived from
the Father: thus he says in Luke xxii. 29. _I appoint unto you a
kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me_; and, in Mat. xi. 27. _All
things are delivered unto me of my Father_; and in Psal. ii. 6. _Yet
have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion._ And whatever he does in
managing the affairs thereof, is by the Father’s commission and
appointment: thus in John v. 36. he speaks of the works which he was to
perform, as those which _the Father had given him to finish_. And as for
his power of executing judgment, which is one of the greatest glories of
his kingly government, this is derived from the Father, in John v. 22.
_For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the
Son_; and, in Acts xvii. 31. it is said, that _he hath appointed a day,
in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he
hath ordained_, meaning our Saviour; and when he speaks, in Rev. ii. 27.
of his ruling his enemies _with a rod of iron, and breaking them to
shivers, as the vessels of a potter_, he adds, that this _he received of
his Father_; from whence they argue, that since he received his
dominion, or right to govern the world and the church, from the Father,
therefore he cannot be God equal with the Father. As we say, in
opposition to their scheme of doctrine, that a derived Deity, such as
they suppose his to be, cannot be the same with that which the Father
has; so they allege this, by way of reprisal, against the argument we
have but now insisted on, that a derived dominion cannot be made use of
as a medium to prove him that has it to be a divine Person, in the same
sense in which we maintain him to be.

2. In all his works, and particularly in the administration of the
affairs of his kingdom, he acts for the Father’s glory, and not his own;
whereas a divine Person, cannot act, for any other end than for his own
glory: this therefore rather disproves, than evinces, his proper Deity;
as when he says, in John viii. 49. _I honour my Father_; and, in chap.
v. 30. he says, _I seek not mine own will, but the will of my Father
which hath sent me_. He also speaks of the Father giving him a
commandment to do what he did; as in John xii. 49. _I have not spoken of
my self, but the Father which sent me; he gave me a commandment, what I
should say, and what I should speak_; and, in chap. xiv. 31. _As the
Father gave me commandment, so do I_; and, in chap. xv. 10. he speaks of
his having _kept his Father’s commandment_, and pursuant hereunto,
_abiding in his love_, from whence they argue, that he who is obliged to
fulfil a commandment, or who acts in obedience to the Father, is
properly a subject, or a servant, and therefore cannot be God in the
same sense as the Father, who gave this commandment, is.

3. They add, that in the government of his church, and the world, in
subserviency thereunto, he acts in the Father’s name, as deputy and
vicegerent; as in John x. 25. _The works that I do in my Father’s name,
they bear witness of me_; and accordingly his works are called the
Father’s, in ver. 37. _If I do not the works of my Father, believe me
not_; and these works are said to be done _from the Father_, ver. 32.
_Many good works have I shewed you from my Father_: and, as the
consequence of all this, he acknowledges, as he ought to do, in John
xiv. 28. that _the Father is greater than he_. How then can he be a
divine Person, in the sense in which we have proved him to be, when
there is a God above him, in whose name he acts in all he does?

4. They farther argue, that he was _made both Lord and Christ_, and that
by the Father, as it is expressly said, in Acts ii. 36.

5. They farther argue that the donatives of his kingdom, or those
honours which are bestowed on his subjects, are not his to give, but the
Father’s; as it is said, in Matt. xx. 23. _To sit on my right hand, and
on my left, is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them, for whom
it is prepared of my Father._

6. This kingdom which he received from the Father, and thus administers
in subserviency to him, is, in the end, to be resigned, or delivered up:
thus, in 1 Cor. xv. 24. _Then cometh the end, when he shall have
delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father_; and in ver. 28. _When
all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be
subject unto him, that put all things under him, that God may be all in
all_; and accordingly, he shall lay aside those divine honours which he
now has, or cease to perform those works which give him a right to claim
them. These are the strongest arguments, of any, that are brought by the
Anti-trinitarians against our Saviour’s proper Deity; and, indeed, as
though they had little else to object, there is scarce an argument to
disprove it, but what is supported in this method of reasoning, which
they think to be altogether unanswerable, (and there are many more
scriptures, which might have been brought to the same purpose) therefore
it is necessary that we should consider what may be replied to it.

The sum of what has been objected, as thus branched out into several
particulars, is, that since Christ is represented as below the Father,
or inferior to him, he cannot he equal with him, for that is no other
than a contradiction.[157]

_Answ._ To this it may be replied, that though the scripture speaks of
our Saviour, as receiving a commission from the Father, and acting in
subserviency to him; yet let it be considered, that this does not
respect the inferiority of the divine nature, but the subserviency of
what is done by him, as Mediator, to the glory of the Father, as this
character and office were received from him. And, indeed, whenever the
Son is represented, as engaged in the great work of redemption, or in
any thing tending thereunto, or in any work consequent thereupon,
whereby what was before purchased is said to be applied by him, this has
a peculiar reference to him, as Mediator: therefore let us consider,

1. That nothing is more common, in scripture, than for him to be
represented as Mediator, especially in all those things that concern the
spiritual advantages, or salvation of his church, which is the principal
thing to be considered in his government; and in this sense we are to
understand those scriptures, which have been brought to support the
objection: and it is plain, that our Saviour generally speaks of himself
under this character, which is included in his being the Messiah, or
Christ, which is the main thing that he designed to evince by his
doctrine and his miracles; therefore, if we duly consider the import of
this character, it will not only give light to the understanding such
like scriptures, but sufficiently answer the objection against his Deity
taken from them.

Our adversaries will not deny that Christ is represented as a Mediator;
but they widely differ from us, when they take occasion to explain what
they intend thereby: sometimes they seem to mean nothing else by it, but
a middle-Being betwixt God and the creature; and therefore the work
performed by him as such is not what requires him to be, in the most
proper sense, a divine Person, and consequently whatever inferiority to
the Father is contained in this character, they conclude that this
respects his Deity; whereas we distinguish between the subserviency of
the work, performed by him, as Mediator, to the glory of God the Father,
together with the subjection, or real inferiority of the human nature,
in which he performed it to the Father; and the inferiority of his
divine nature: the former we allow; the latter we deny.

2. When we speak of him as Mediator, we always suppose him to be God and
Man, in one Person; and that these two natures, though infinitely
distinct, are not to be separated. As God, without the consideration of
a human nature united to his divine Person, he would be too high to
sustain the character, or to perform the work of a servant, and, as
such, to yield obedience, which was incumbent on him, as Mediator; and
on the other hand, to be a mere man, is too low, and would be altogether
inconsistent with that infinite value and dignity, that was to be put on
the work which he was to perform. Therefore it was necessary that he
should have two distinct natures, a divine and a human, or that he
should be God incarnate. This will be more particularly considered under
some following answers[158]; and therefore we shall reserve the proof
hereof for its proper place, and there consider the distinct properties
of each nature; and all that we shall observe at present is, that the
evangelist John, in whose gospel our Saviour is often described, as
inferior to the Father, as well as equal with him, which is agreeable to
his Mediatorial character, lays down this, as a kind of preface,
designing hereby to lead us into the knowledge of such like expressions,
when he says, in John i. 14. _The Word was made flesh and dwelt among
us_; which is all the proof we shall give of it at present.

3. It follows from hence, that several things may be truly spoken
concerning, or applied to him, which are infinitely opposite to one
another, namely that he has almighty power in one respect, as to what
concerns his Deity; and yet that he is weak, finite, and dependent in
another, as to what respects his humanity. In one nature, he is God
equal with the Father, and so receives nothing from him, is not
dependent on him, nor under any obligation to yield obedience. In this
nature, he is the object of worship, as all worship terminates on that
Deity, which is common to all the Persons in the Godhead: but, in the
other nature, he worships, receives all from, and refers all to the
glory of the Father; therefore,

4. Those scriptures which speak of him as receiving a kingdom, doing all
things from, or in obedience to the Father, or in his name, and for his
glory, and as inferior to, and dependent on him, are not only applied to
him, as Mediator, but they have a particular respect to his human
nature; so that all that can be inferred from such modes of speaking, as
those above-mentioned, as so many objections against the doctrine which
we are defending, is, that he who is God is also man, and consequently
has those things predicated of him, as such which are proper to a nature
infinitely below, though inseparably united with his divine.

Moreover, whereas it is said, that _the Father has committed all
judgment to the Son_, or that _he judgeth the world in righteousness, by
that man whom he hath ordained_; all that can be inferred from hence is,
that so far as this work is performed by him, in his human nature, which
will be rendered visible to the whole world at the day of judgment, it
is an instance of the highest favour and glory conferred upon this
nature, or upon God-man Mediator, as man: but whereas he is elsewhere
described, as having a right to judge the world, as God; and as having
those infinite perfections, whereby he is fit to do it, these are the
same that belong to the Father, and therefore not derived from him.

Again, when, in another scripture, before referred to, it is said, that
_God hath made him both Lord and Christ_, it is not there said, that the
Father hath made him God, or given him any branch of the divine glory;
but it signifies the unction that he received from the Father, to be the
King, Head, and Lord of his church; which, so far as this is an act of
grace, or connotes his dependence on the Father herein, it has an
immediate respect to him, in his human nature, in which, as well as in
his divine nature, this dominion is exercised; whereas his sovereignty,
and universal dominion over the church and the world, or those divine
perfections, which render him, in all respects, fit to govern it; they
belong, more especially to the Mediator, as God, and are the same as
when they are applied to the Father.

Moreover, when he says, _I seek not my own will, but the Father’s, that
sent me_; and elsewhere, _Not my will, but thine be done_; it argues
that he had a human will, distinct from his divine, in which he
expresses that subjection to the Father, which becomes a creature; this
is plainly referred to him as man; so, on the other hand, when he says,
speaking of himself co-ordinately with the Father, _As the Father
raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, so even the Son quickeneth
whom he will_; this, though spoken of him as Mediator, has a peculiar
reference to his divine nature.

Again, when he says, in another scripture, _The Father is greater than
I_, that is applied to him as man; whereas elsewhere, in John x. 30.
when he says, _I, and my Father are one_, that is spoken of him as God,
having the same nature with the Father so that if we suppose our Saviour
to be God and Man, as he is plainly proved to be, from scripture, then
it follows, that whatever is said concerning him, as importing his right
to divine honour on the one hand, or his disclaiming it on the other,
these are both true, when we consider him in these different natures.

Thus we are to understand those scriptures, that speak of the real
inferiority of the Son to the Father: but when, in other places, nothing
is intended but the subserviency of what is done by the Son, as
Mediator, or its tendency to set forth the Father’s glory, this may be
applicable to those divine works, which the Mediator performs; and so we
may distinguish between the subserviency of the divine actions to the
Father’s glory, and the inferiority of one divine Person to another; the
former may be asserted without detracting from his proper Deity, while
the latter is denied, as inconsistent with it.

Thus we have endeavoured to explain those scriptures, which are referred
to by the Arians, to overthrow our Saviour’s divinity: and, by the same
method of explication, I humbly conceive, all others, that can be
brought to that purpose, may be understood. I have passed over that
scripture, indeed, which respects _Christ’s delivering up the kingdom to
the Father_, and being subject to him, which it might have been expected
that I should have endeavoured to explain; but I choose rather to refer
the consideration thereof to its proper place, when we speak concerning
Christ’s kingly office, and his being exalted in the execution thereof.

IV. The next argument to prove the divinity of Christ is taken from his
being the object of religious worship, which is a practical owning of
him to be a divine Person, when there is an agreement between our words
and actions, in both which we acknowledge him to have the perfections of
the divine nature. This argument is so strong and conclusive, that it is
very difficult to evade the force thereof; and, indeed, it affects the
very essentials of religion. Now, that we may herein proceed with
greater plainness, we shall,

1. Consider what we understand by worship in general, and by religious
worship in particular. I am very sensible that the Anti-trinitarians
understand the word in a sense very different from what we do, as taking
it in a limited sense, for our expressing some degree of humility, or
reverence, to a person, whom we acknowledge in some respect, to be our
superior; but whatever external signs of reverence, or words, we use, as
expressive of our regard to him who is the object thereof, this, when
applied to our Saviour, is no more than what they suppose to be due to a
person below the Father. Therefore, that we may not mistake the meaning
of the word, let it be considered; that worship is either civil or
religious; the former contains in it that honour and respect which is
given to superiors, which is sometimes expressed by bowing, or falling
down, before them, or some other marks of humility, which their advanced
station in the world requires; Though this is seldom called worshipping
them; and it is always distinguished from religious worship, even when
the same gestures are used therein. It is true, there is one scripture,
in which the same word is applied to both, in 1 Chron. xxix. 20. where
it is said, _All the congregation bowed down their heads, and worshipped
the Lord and the king_, that is, they paid civil respect, accompanied
with those actions that are expressive of humility, and that honour that
was due to David, but their worship given to God was divine or
religious. This is the only sense in which we understand _worship_ in
this argument, and it includes in it adoration and invocation. In the
former, we ascribe infinite perfection unto God, either directly, or by
consequence; an instance whereof we have in 1 Chron. xxix. 11, 12.
_Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the
victory, and the majesty; for all that is in heaven, and in the earth is
thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as Head above
all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all,
and in thine hand is power and might and in thine hand it is to make
great, and to give strength unto all_; and, in Deut. xxxii. 3. in which
we are said to _ascribe greatness_ unto him; and, in Rom. i. 21. to
_glorify him as God_, or, _give unto him the glory due to his name_,
Psal. xxix. 2.

Invocation is that wherein we glorify God, as the Fountain of
blessedness, when we ask those things from him, which none but a God can
give, which is sometimes called _seeking the Lord_, Psal. cv. 4. or
_calling upon him_, Psal. l. 15. And this includes in it all those
duties which we perform, in which we consider him as a God of infinite
perfection, and ourselves dependent on him, and desirous to receive all
those blessings from him, which we stand in need of; and particularly
faith, in the various acts thereof, is a branch of religious worship, as
connoting its object to be a divine Person; as also supreme love, and
universal obedience; and, indeed, it contains in it the whole of
religion, in which we have a due regard to that infinite distance that
there is between him and the best of creatures; and religious worship is
no where taken in a lower sense than this in scripture.

2. Religious worship, as thus described, is to be given to none but a
divine Person, according to our Saviour’s words, in Matth. iv. 10. _Thou
shall worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve._ This is
evident, from the idea we have of religion in general, which is a giving
that glory, or ascribing those perfections to God, which belong to him,
as being founded in his nature; and therefore it is the highest instance
of blasphemy and profaneness to apply them to any creature, since it is
in effect to say that he is equal with God.

3. It plainly appears, from Scripture, that Christ is the object of
religious worship, and consequently that the argument we are maintaining
is just, namely, that, for this reason, he must be concluded to be a
divine Person. Now that he is the object of religious worship, is
evident, from many examples in scripture of such worship being given to
him, when, at the same time, they, who have given it, have not been
reproved or restrained, but rather commended, for performing it. We have
various instances of this nature in the Old Testament, of which I shall
mention two or three, _viz._ in Gen. xlviii. 15, 16. _God, before whom
my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life
long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the
lads._ When he speaks of Abraham and Isaac’s walking before him, it
implies, that, in their whole conversation, they considered themselves
as under his all-seeing eye; and Jacob acknowledges him as the God, who
had sustained, preserved, and provided for him hitherto, the support of
his life, and his Deliverer, or Redeemer, from all evil. This divine
Person he addresses himself to, in a way of supplication, for a blessing
on the posterity of Joseph; and that he intends our Saviour hereby, is
evident, because he has a reference to his appearance in the form of an
angel, and therefore describes him under that character. Now we cannot
suppose that this holy patriarch is here represented as praying to a
created angel, for that would be to charge him with idolatry. Moreover,
this is the same description that is given of Christ elsewhere, in Isa.
lxiii. 9. _In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the Angel of
his presence saved them; in his love, and in his pity he redeemed them,
and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old_; and in Mal.
iii. 1. _The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple; even
the Messenger_, or Angel, _of the covenant, whom ye delight in_; which
contains a very plain prediction of our Saviour’s incarnation, whose way
is said to be prepared by John the Baptist, who is spoken of in the
words immediately foregoing. Now it is certain, that God the Father is
never called an angel in scripture, inasmuch as this is a peculiar
description of the Mediator, who, as such, is never mentioned as the
Person sending, but sent; in which he is considered as one that was to
be incarnate, and, in our nature, to execute those offices, which he was
therein obliged to perform. This is the Person then whom Jacob adored
and prayed to.

We have another instance, not only of his being worshipped, but of his
demanding this divine honour of him that performed it, in Josh. v. 14,
15. where he appeared as the _Captain of the host of the Lord_; upon
which, _Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said
unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the Captain of the
Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the
place whereon thou standest is holy; and Joshua did so_. It cannot be
supposed that it was any other than a divine Person that appeared; not
only because Joshua fell on his face and worshipped him, and expressed
his willingness to fulfil his command, but because he bid him loose his
shoe from his foot, since the place on which he stood was holy; which
expression is no where used in any other text of scripture, except in
Exod. iii. 5. in which our Saviour, as we before considered, appeared to
Moses, with the majesty and glory of a divine Person, whose immediate
presence made the place relatively holy, which the presence of a
creature never did. Moreover, the character which he here gives of
himself to Joshua, as the Captain of the Lord’s host, not only implies,
that all his success was owing to his conduct and blessing, on his
warlike enterprizes; but this is also agreeable to the description which
is elsewhere given of our Saviour, in Isa. lv. 4. in which he is said to
be _a Leader and Commander to the people_; and he is called in Heb. ii.
10. _The Captain of our salvation_; and elsewhere, _The Prince of life_;
and, _The Prince of the kings of the earth_.

Moreover, there are various instances in the New Testament of worship
given to Christ; in which, by several circumstances contained in it, it
is evident, that it was divine or religious. Thus he had divine honour
given him by the wise men from the East, in Matth. ii. 11. who _fell
down and worshipped him_, &c. and, in Luke xxiv. 52. when he ascended up
into heaven, his disciples _worshipped him_; where there is nothing in
the mode of expression that distinguishes this from that worship that is
due to God. Moreover, there is a very illustrious instance of his being
thus worshipped by a numerous assembly, represented in that vision, in
Rev. v. 11-13. _I beheld, and heard the voice of many angels round about
the throne, saying, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power,
and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and
blessing: And every creature that is in heaven, and on the earth, and
under the earth, saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be
unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and
ever_; in which words there are such glories ascribed, that higher
expressions cannot be used by any, who adore the divine Majesty; and it
is plain, that our Saviour is intended hereby, because he is described
as the _Lamb that was slain_; and he is also considered co-ordinately
with the Father, when it is said, that this glory is given to him that
_sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb_. Now if our Saviour be thus
worshipped, he must have a right to it, or else his worshippers would
have been reproved, as guilty of idolatry; thus Peter reproves
Cornelius, or rather prevents his paying divine adoration to himself,
who was no more than a man, in Acts x. 26. _Stand up, I myself also am a
man_; and the angel, in Rev. xix. 10. when John at first, through
mistake, thinking him to be a divine person, fell at his feet to worship
him, expressly forbad him, saying, _See thou do it not; I am thy
fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus;
worship God._ But our Saviour never forbids any to worship him;
therefore we must conclude that he is the object thereof, and
consequently a divine Person.

We shall now proceed to consider the various branches of divine worship
that are given to him, _viz._

1. Swearing by his name, whereby an appeal is made to him, as the Judge
of truth, and the Avenger of falsehood. Some think that the apostle, in
Rom. ix. 1. intends as much as this, when he says, _I speak the truth in
Christ, I lie not_, that is, I appeal to Christ, as the heart-searching
God, concerning the truth of what I say. But there is also another sense
of swearing, namely, when in a solemn manner, we profess subjection to
him, as our God and King; which agrees with, or is taken from the custom
of subjects, who swear fealty or allegiance to their king: thus it is
said, in Isa. xlv. 23. _Unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue
shall swear_; and, in doing this, they acknowledge him to be the object
of faith, and to have a right to universal obedience, as well as the
Fountain of blessedness. This religious worship, as the prophet
foretels, was to be given to the Person here spoken of, who is
particularly said to be our Saviour by the apostle, referring to it in
Rom. xiv. 11.

2. This leads us to consider another act of religious worship, which has
some affinity with the former, contained in the baptismal vow; in which
there is a consecration, or dedication, of the person baptized, to the
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, according to the command given, in Matt.
xxviii. 19. or a public profession, that it is our indispensable duty to
exercise an entire subjection to them, in a religious manner. This is
one of the most solemn acts of worship that can be performed, wherein
there is an explicit mention of the name of the Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost. And here we may consider, in general, that the Son is put
co-ordinately with the Father, which no creature ever is: and it will be
also necessary for us to enquire what is meant by being baptized in the
name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that so it may farther appear
to be an act of religious worship.

Some hereby understand nothing else but our being baptized by the
authority of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or by a warrant received
from them to do it: but though this be sometimes the meaning of our
acting in the name of God, yet more is intended by this expression, used
in the administration of this ordinance, otherwise it is not
sufficiently distinguished from all other acts of religious worship;
which cannot be rightly performed without a divine warrant. According to
this sense of the word, ministers may as well be said to preach the
gospel, and the church to attend on their ministration, in the name of
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; for this cannot he done without a
divine warrant, upon which account it may be deemed an ordinance.

Moreover, to suppose that this instituted form of administering baptism,
conveys no other idea, but that of a divine warrant to do it, is to
conclude that there is no determinate meaning of the action performed,
contained in it; but the administrator is to intend nothing else by it,
but only that he has a warrant from God to baptize; whereas its being
performed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, seems plainly
to intimate the principal thing signified thereby, as a direction for
our faith, when engaging in it: which is, that they who are baptized are
consecrated, or devoted to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, devoted to
God professedly, and called by his name, in the sense in which the
phrase is elsewhere used in scripture; his right to them is hereby
signified, and their indispensable obligation to be entirely his; and
that with a peculiar acknowledgment of the distinct personal glory of
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the concern that each of them have
in our salvation. The apostle speaking of our being baptized in the name
of Christ, calls it, in Gal. iii. 27. _a putting on Christ_; which seems
to imply a consecration, or dedication, to him. Persons as well as
things, before this ordinance was instituted, were consecrated to God by
divers washings, as well as other rites, used under the ceremonial law;
and this seems to be the sense in which the apostle himself explains
this _putting on Christ_, in ver. 29. when he infers, from this action,
that they who had so done _were Christ’s_, not only by that right, which
he has to them as their Creator and Redeemer, but by another, which is
the immediate result of their professed dedication to him; therefore
this is such a comprehensive act of worship, that it includes in it the
whole of that subjection, which is due to the Father, Son, and Spirit;
and since, in particular, the Son is considered as the object thereof,
together with the Father, it follows that he is God, equal with the

I might here consider, that it would be not only an unwarrantable
action, but an instance of the greatest profaneness, for us to be
baptized in the name of any one who is not a divine Person, which
farther argues that it is an act of divine worship; upon which occasion,
the apostle Paul, speaking concerning some of the church of Corinth, as
being disposed to pay too great a veneration to those ministers who had
been instrumental in their conversion, as though, for this reason, they
were to be accounted the lords of their faith; and, in particular, that
some said they were of Paul, and, being apprehensive that they thought
the minister, who baptized them, had a right to be thus esteemed, he not
only reproves this ungrounded and pernicious mistake; but takes occasion
_to thank God, that he baptized none of them, but Crispus and Gaius,
together with the household of Stephanas, lest any should say he
baptized in his own name_; so that while he testifies his abhorrence of
his giving any just occasion to any, to conclude that he was the object
of this branch of divine worship, he takes a great deal of pleasure in
this reflection, that the providence of God had not led them through the
ignorance and superstition that prevailed among them, to draw this false
conclusion from his exercising this branch of the ministerial work,
which properly they would not have inferred from any other’s having
baptized them, who had not so great an interest