OF THE BEING OF GOD.
SOME, because the Being of God is a first principle, not to be disputed; and because that there is one is a self-evident proposition, not to be disproved ; have thought it should not be admitted as a matter of debate :* but since such is the malice of Satan, as to suggest the contrary to the minds of men; and such the badness of some wicked men as to listen to it, and imbibe it; and such the weakness of some good men as to be harrassed and distressed with doubts about it, at times ; it cannot be improper to endeavour to fortify ourminds with reasons and arguments against such suggestions and insinuations.
My first argument to prove the Being of a God, shall be taken from the general consent of men of all nations, in all ages of the world ; among whom, the belief of it has universally obtained, which it is not reasonable to suppose would hare obtain. ed, if it was not true. Aristotle says,"J' all men have a persuasion of Deity, or ihat there is a God. Cicero observes,J " There is no nation so wild and savage, whose minds are not imbued with the opinion of the gods; many entertain wrong notions of them ; but all suppose apd own the divine power and nature."
* So Aristotle say», every problem and proposition is not to be disputed; they th»t doubt whether God is to be worshipped, and parents loved, are to be punished, and not disputed with. Topic; 1. 1. c. 9. f De Coe!o,l. I.e. 3, \ Tusculan. Quzst. 1.1. c. 13.
To the same sense are the words of Seneca, *' There never was a nation so dissolute and abandoned, so lawless and immoral, as to believe there is no God. Plutarch* has these remarkable words, "If you go overthe earth, says he, you may find cities without walls, letters, kings, houses, wealth, and money, devoid of theatres and schools ; but a city without temples and gods, and where is no use of prayers, oaths, and oracles, nor sacrifices to obtain good or avert evil, no man ever saw." In the first ages of the world, men universally believed in the true God, and worshipped him as Adam and his sons, and their posterity, until the flood ; nor does there appear any trace of idolatry before it, nor for some time after. The sins which caused that, and with which the world was filled, seem to be lewdness and uncleanness, rapine and violence. As men were remote from those among whom the true worship of God was preserved; they, by degrees lost sight of the true God, and forsook his Worship ; and this being the case, they began to worship the sun in his stead, and which led on to the worship of the moon, and the host of heaven. It appears also that men took very early to the deifying of their heroes after death, their kings, great personages, either for their wisdom and knowledge, or for their courage and valour, and marshal exploits and other things; such were the Bel or Belus, of the Babylonians ; the Baal-peor of the Moabites; the Moloch of he Pl.ceniuans; and other Baal, im, lords, or king?, mentioned in the scriptures: and such were Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Men ury, Hercules; and the rest of the rabble of the heathen deities.
* Adv. Colotem, vol. 2. p. 1125.
As for the gentiles, they worshipped almost every thing; not only the sun, moon, and stars; but the earth, fire, and water; and various sorts of animals, as oxen, goats, and swine ; cats and dogs ; the fishes of the rivers, the river-horse, and the crocodile, those amphibious creatures; the fowls of the air, as the hawk, stork, and ibis; and even insects, as the &\ ; yea, creeping things, as serpsnt^ , the beetle, &c. as also vegetables, onions, and garlic; which occasioned the satyrical* poet to say. 0 sanctas gentes, quibua htec nascuntur in hirtis, numina! O holy nations, whose gods are born in their gardens ! Some have worshipped the devil himself.
I am sensible that to this it is objected, thai there have been at different times, and in different countries, some particular personsf who have been reckoned atheists, deniers of the being of a God. But some of these men were only deriders of the gods of their country; others were so accounted, because they excluded the gods from any concern with human affairs ; but these men were not deniers of the existence of God, only of his providence as to the affairs of the world : and others have been rather practical than speculative atheists, as the fool, in Ps. xiv. 1. Indeed, all men in an unregenerated state, be they Jews or Gentiles, or live where they may, are atheists; as the apostle calls them, Eph. ii. 12. they are, " without God in the world, being alienated from the life of God," ch. iv, 18.
The second argument shall be taken from the law and light of nature; or from the general instinct in men, or impress of Deity on the mind of every man. Senecaj" makes use of this to prove there is a God ; " because, says he, an opinion or sense of deity, is implanted in the minds of all men." There are tome, indeed, who deny there are any innate ideas in the minds of men, and particularly concerning God ; but to such writers and reasoners I pay but little regard ; when the inspi. red apostle assures us, that even the Gentiles, destitute of the law of Moses, have the work of the law written in their hearts, Pom. ii. 15. which, as it regards duty to God, as well as man, necessarily supposes the knowledge of him; as well as of the difference between good and evil, as founded upon his nature and will. If it was the contrivance of politicians to keep men in awe, and under subjection, it must be the contrivance of one man, or more united together.
*JuvenaL Satyr. 15. v. 10. t Plutarch, tie Plucitii PhilcB^ph. 1. \ UtsUWa.
Under this head may be observed the innate desires of men after happiness, which are so boundless as not to be satisfied; these desires are not in vain implanted, there must be an object answerable unto them ; a perfect Being, which is no other.than God, who is the first cause and last end of all things, of which the Psalmist says, Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth my soul desires besides thee. Psalm Ixxiii. 25.
The third argument, proving the Being of God, shall be taken from the works of creation; concerning which the apostle says, the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen; being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, Rom. i. 20. Most admirable was the reasoning of a wild Greenlander,* which he declared to a missionary to be the reasoning of his mind before his conversion ; " It is true, said he to him, we were ignorant heathens, and knew nothing of God, or a Saviour; and, indeed, who should tell us of him till you came? but thou must not imagine that no Greenlander thinks about these things. I myself have often thought: a kajak (a boat) with all its tackle and implements, does not grow into existence of itself, but must be made by the labour and ingenuity of man ; and one that'does not understand it, would directly spoil it. Now, the meanest bird has far more skill displayed in its structure, than the best kajak ; and no man can make a bird: But there is still a far greater art shewn in the formation of a man, than of any other creature. Who was it that made him ? I bethought me that he proceeded from his parents, and they from their parents ; but some must have been the first parents ; whence did they come ? common report informs me, they grew out of the earth : but if so, why does it not still happen that men grow out of the earth ? and fronv whence did this same earth itself, the sea, the sun, the moon, and 'tars, arise into existence ?
* Crantz's Hi»torv of Greenland.
Certainly there must be some Be:ng who made all these things; a Being that always was, and can never cease to be. He must be inexpressibly more might), knowing, and wise, tqan the wisest man. He must bt very go d too, because that ever} thing that he has made i* good, ustiul, and necessary for us. Ah, did I but know him, how would I love him and honour him! But who has seen him? who has ever conversed with him ? None of us poor men. -Yet there may be men too that know something of him. O that I could but speak with such ! therefore, said he, as soon as ever I heard you spcik ot this gnat Being, I believed it directly, with ail my heart ; because I had so long desired to hear it." A glaring proof this, that a supri,me Being, the first cause of all things, is to be concluded from the works of creation. There is nothing in the whole creation the mind can contemplate, the eye look upon, or the hand lay hold on, but what proclaims the Being of God. Galen, an ancient noted physician, being atheistically inclined, was convinced of his impiety by barely considering the admirable structure of the eye ; its various humours, tunics, and provision for its defence and safety. But the soul of man, the more noble part of him, more fully discovers the original author of him ;* being possessed of such powers and faculties that none but God could give.
The fourth argument will be taken from the sustentation and government of the world ; the provision made for the supply of creatures, and especially of man, and for his safety. As the world is made by a divine Being, so by him it consists. "Was there not such an almighty Being, " who upholds all things by the word of his power," they would sink and fall. Did he not bear up the pillars of the earth, they would tremble and shake, and not be able to bear its weight; as he that built all things is God, so he that supports the fabric of the universe must be so too ; no less than an almighty hand can preserve and continue it: and which has done it, without any visible appearance of age or decay, for almost six thousand years.
• So Plato proves the Being of God from the soul of nun, de Legibui, P. 998. '" a^"
The earth produces a variety of things for food and drink ; and of others for medicine, for the continuance of health, and restoration of it. The certain and constant revolutions of "summer and winter, seed-time and harvest ;" as well as night and day, cold and heat, cannot be attributed to any thing else than the superin tendency of the divine Being.
The fifth argument may be taken from the uncommon heroic actions, prodigies, wonders, and miraculous things done in the world ; which cannot be thought to be done without a superior and divine influence. Heroic actions, such as that of Shamgar, who fought with and killed six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad : and of Sampson, who slew a thousand of them with the jaw-bone of an ass. If scripture is only regarded as a common history, these merit our notice and credit, as any of the relations in profane history ; in which are recorded the magnanimous actions of heroes, kings, and generals of armies; (heir wonderful successes, and amazing conquests ; all which can never be supposed to be done without superior power, and the overruling, influencing providence of the divine Being. The miracles of Moses and the prophets, and of Christ and his apostles, were not done to prove a divine Being; yet they necessarily suppose one, by whose power alone they are performed.
The sixth argument may be formed from the prophecies of contingent future events, and the exact fulfilment of them. Instances of which there are many in the sacred writings ; prophecies which relate both to particular persons and to whole kingdoms and states ; which have had their exact accomplishment. Divination is said to be confirmed by the consent of all nations. If there is a foretelling of future things, which certainly come to pass, there must be a God; since none but. n omniscient Being can, with certainty, forete what shall come to pass.
The seventh argument mav be urged from the fears of men, and the tortures of a ^uiiiy conscience, and the dread of a future state. Some are terribly affrighted at thunder and lightening, as Caligula, the Roman emperor, used to be, who, at such times, would hide himself in, or under, his bed ; and yet this man set, himself up for a god. Many have been so terrified in their consciences on account of sin, that they could get no rest any where, or by any means: as Cain, under the terrors of an evil conscience, fancied that " every one that found him would slay him :" and those wicked traitors, Catiline and Jugurtha; Tiberius and Nero. Now, what do all these fears and tortures of conscience arise front) but from the guilt of sin, and a sense of a divine Being; who is above men, and will call them to an account for their sins, and take ven. geance on them ?
The eighth and last argument shall be taken from the judgments in the world; not only famine, sword, pestilence, earth* quakes, &c. but such that have been inflicted on wicked men, atheistical persons, perjured ones, blasphemers, and the like. The universal flood—,he burning of Sodom and Gomorrah— the awful instances of Herod being smitten by an angel; and of Ananias and Sapphira, being struck dead; are ins'ances of judgments. The same, or a like kind, have occurred in all agesand countries. Who now can hear or read such awful judgments, and disbelieve the Being of God ?
OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES,
BY the Scriptures, I understand the books of the Old and of the New Testament. These books are commonly called Canonical Scripture, because they have always been received by the church into the canon, or rule of faiih. These are the books which the apostle calls, alt Scripture, or the whole of Scripture, said by him to be given by inspiration of God. I shall, I. Observe the divine authority of the Scriptures, or shew, that they are from God, or inspired by him; they lay in a claim to a divine original; and the claim is just, as will We seen. The Prophets frequently introduce thi ir prophecies and discourses, by saying, The word of the Lord came to tht.m ; and with a, Thus saith the Lord, Isa, i. 10. Jtr. ii. 1, 2. And our Lord expressly calls the scripture the word of God, John x. 35. Befoie I proceed any further, in the proof of the divinity of the sacred Scriptures, I shall premise the following things:
i. That when we say that the Scriptures are the word of God, or that this word is of God; we do not mean that it was all spoken with an articulate voice by him ; or written immediately by the finger of God. __ The penmen wrote as thc.y were directed, dictated, and inspired by him, and "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." "
ii. Not all that is contained in the scriptures is of God. Some are the words of others ; yea, some are the speeches of Satan. There are also speeches of bad men, as of Cain, P'iaroah, and others, ordered to be written, to discover the more the corruption of human nature : and even of good men, as of Mosts, David, Jonah, and particularly the friends of Job. In the writings and discourses of the apostle Paul, are several quotations out of heathen authors ; one out of Aratus, when he was discoursing before the wise men at Athen?; as certain, says he, of your own prets h ve said, for we are also his offspring, Acts xvii. 28. Another out of Menander; Evil communications corrupt good manners, i Cor. xv. 33. And another out of fcpimenides, a poet of Crete, a testimony of his against the Cretians, who said they were, always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
ni. Let it be observed, that not the matter of the scriptures only, but the very words in which they are written, are of God. This may be confirmed from the testimonies of the writers
^themselves: says David, one of the writers of the Old Testament, The spirit of the Lord spake by me, and b':s word was in my tongue, 2 Sam. xxiii. 2. And the apostle Paul speaks of himself, and other inspired apostles of the New Testament, Which things, says he, we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, i Cor. ii. 13. and it is the writing, or the word of God as written, that is by inspiration a/God, 2 Tim. iii. 16. But then,
iv. This is to be understood of the scriptures, as in the original languages in which they were written, and not of translations. Let not any be uneasy in their minds about translations on this account,.because they are not upon an equality with the original text, and especially about our own; when ever a set of men have been engaged in this work, as were in our nation, men well skilled in the languages, and partakers of the grace pf God; of sound principles, and of integrity and faithfulness, having the fear of God before their eyes ; they have never failed of producing a translation worthy of acceptation ; and in which, though they have mistook some words and phrases, and erred in some lesser and lighter matters ; yet not so as to affect any momentous article of faith or practice ; and therefore such translations as ours may be regarded as the rule of faith.
Here I cannot but observe the amazing ignorance and stupidity of some persons, who take it into their heads to decry learning and learned men; for what would they have done for a Bible, had it not been for them as instruments? Bless God, and be thankful that God has, in his providence, raised up such men to translate the Bible into the mother tongue of every nation, and particularly into ours.
I. From the subject.matter of them—i. In general there is nothing in them unworthy of God; nothing contrary to any of the perfections of his nature; no falshood nor contradiction in them ; nothing impious or impure, absurd or ridiculous in them; as in the Al-koran of Mahomet; or as in the Pagan treatises of their gods. 2. The things contained in the Scriptures are pure and holy : the holy Spirit dictated them, holy men spoke and wrote them, and they are justly called holy Scriptures, Rom. i. 2. and plainly shew they came from the holy God. Hence it is that there is in natural men,whose carnal minds are enmity to God, such a backwardness, yea, an aversion to reading the Scriptures. 3. There are some things recorded in the Scriptures, which could never have been known but by revelation from God himself; as particularly with respect to the creation of the world, and the original of mankind ; the choice of men in Christ to everlasting salvation, the council held between the divine persons, concerning the salvation of man; all which could never have been known unless God himself had revealed them. 4. There are some things recorded in the Scriptures as future, which God only could foreknow would be, and foretel with certainty that they should be ; and which have accordingly come to pass, and proves the revalation to be of God. Some of them relate to particular persons, and contingent events ; as Josiah, David, and Cyrus. Others relate to kingdoms and states, and what should brfal them ; as the Egyptians, Moabites, Ammonites, Erlomites, Assyrians, Babylonians, and others, especially the prophecies concerning Christ, are peculiarly worthy of notice. 5. There are some things in the Scriptures, which, though not contrary to reason, yet are above the capacity of men ever to have made a discovery of: as the Trinity of persons in the Godhead; &c. 6. The things contained in the scriptures, whether doctrines or facts, are harmonious ; though delivered at sundry times, and in divers manners, as to historical facts, what seeming contradictions may be observed in any of them are easily reconciled, wi'h a little care, diligence, and study, and even these instances are but few, and not very material; and which never affect any article of faith or practice : such care has divine providence taken of these peculiar and important writings.
N. The stile and manner in which the Scriptures are written, is a further evidence of their divine original; the majesty in which they appear, the authoritative manner in which they are delivered ; not asking, but demanding, attention and assent unto them ; the sublimity of the stile is such as exceeds all other writings : the book of job, and the prophecies of Isaiah are fraught with a rich treasure of divine elocution: it is remarkable that in some of the inspired writers, who have been bred up in a rustic manner, are found some of the most grand images, and lively picturesques, and highest flights of language, as in Amos th' ' ^an, chap. iv. 13. and ix. 2. 6.
ni. Another argument for the divine authority of the Scriptures, may be taken from the penmen and writers of them.— i. Many of these were men of no education, in a low station of life; what they wrote, both as to matter and manner, were above and beyond their ordinary capacities, and could not be of themselves. 2. They lived in different limes and places, and were of different interests and capacities, and in different conditions and circumstances; yet they all speak and write the same things. 3. They were holy and good men. 4. They appear to be plain honest, and faithful men. 5. They were disinterested men. Moses, when it was offered to him, by the Lord, to make of him a great nation, and cutoff the people of Israel for their sins, refused it more than once; prefering the public good of that people, to his own advantage. The apostles of Christ, sought not the wealth of men, nor honour from them; but on the contrary, exposed themselves to reproach, poverty, vexation, and trouble; yea, to persecution, and death itself. In short, the writers of the Scriptures seem to be men that neither could be imposed upon themselves, nor sought to impose on others.
iv. Another argument may be drawn from the many wonderful effects the sacred writings, attended with a divine power and influence, have had upon the hearts and lives of men. Every good man has a testimony within himself of its divine authority, see 1 J..hn v. 9, 10.
v. The testimony bore to the Scriptures by miracles, abundantly confirm the gtnuineness of them, and that they are of God; such as were done by Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament, and by the apostles of the New ; these God would never do to establish the character of impostors, or to confirm a lie. \
vi. The hatred and opposition of men and the enmity of devils, to them, afford no inconsiderable argument in favour of the divinity of them : by these are to be known the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error; what is of the world, and merely human, is approved by the men of the world; but what is of God, is rejected, 1 Jonn iv. 5, 6.
Vn. The awful judgment of God on such as have despised them, and have endeavoured to destroy them, are no mean evidence that they are of God ; the instance of Antiochus Ep. iphanes, king of Syria, and of Dioclesian. the Roman emperor : the one shewed a despite to the books of the old Testament, the other more especially to the books of the New Testament; and both were highly resented by the divine Being, who hereby shewed himself the author of both.
vm. The antiquity and continuance of these writings may be improved into an argument in favour of them : Tertullian says, " That which is most ancient, is most rue.J' The most early of heathen writings extant, are the poems of Homer and Hesiod, who flourished about the times of Isaiah; the divine writings have been preserved notwithstanding the malice of men and devils, some of them some thousand of years, when other writings are lost and perished.
To which mav he added, that the Scriptures receive no small evidence of the authority of them, from the testimonies of many heathen writers agreeing with them, with respect to the chronology, geography, and history of them. I go on to consider. ' x
II. The perfection of the Scriptures. They relate all things necessary to salvation, every thing that ought to be believed and done ; and are a complete, perfect standard of faith and practice: which may be proved.
i. From the author of them who is God ? God is a perfect Being in whom is no darkness of ignorance, error, and imperfection ; they coming from him, must be free from every thing of that kind.
N. From the name they goby, a Testament. A man's testament, or will, contains the whole of his will and pleasure, concerning the disposition of his estate.
in. From the epithet of perfect, being expressly given unto them ; 7 he law of the Lord is perfect, Psal. xix. 7.
iv. From the essential parts of them, the Law and Gospel; to which tWo heads the substance of them may be reduced, the Law is a perfect rule of duty; it contains what is the good, acceptable, and perfect willofGod, Rom. xii. 2. The Gospel is ihe perfect law, or doctrine of liberty, the apostle James speaks of, chap. i. 25. which proclaims the glorious liberty of the children of God b) Christ; and it is perfect.
v. From the integral parts of them: the Scriptures, con* taining all the books that were written by divine inspiration. Whatever mistakes may be made, through the carelessness of transcribers of copies, they are to be corrected by other copies, ' which God, in his providence, has preserved ; and, as it seems, for -uch purposes : so that we have a perfect canon, or rule of faith and practice.
vi. This may be further evinced from the charge that is given, " not to add unto, nor diminish from, any part of the sacred writings, law, or gospel:" Deut. iv. 2. and xii. 32. Rev. xxii. 18, 19. Now if there is nothing superfluous in the Scriptures, to be taken from them; and nothing defective in them, which rqeuires any addition to them : then they must be perfect.
vn. This may be argued from the sufficiency of them to answer the ends and purposes for which they are written. As, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, 2 Tim. iii. 16. There is no spiritual truth, nor evangelical doctrine, but what they contain. There is not a sin that can be named, but what the Scriptures inveigh against, forbid, and correct. They instruct in every thing of a moral or positive nature, and direct to observe all that is commanded of God and Christ; and now writings by which such ends are answered, must needs be perfect and compleat.
Viii. The Scriptures are able to make a man wise unto salvation, 2 Tim. iii. 15. In short, the Scriptures contain all things in them necessary to be believed, unto salvation ; and, indeed, they are written for this end, that men might believe that jfesut is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, they might have life through his name, John xx. 31. I proceed,
III. To prove the perspicuity of the Scriptures; not that they are all equally clear and plain; some parts of them, and some things in them, are dark and obscure; but then by comparing spiritual things with spiritual, or those more dark passages with those that are clearer, they may be plainly understood. They are like a full and deep river, in which the lamb maj walk, and the elephant swim, in different places.
The perspicuity of the Scriptures may be urged—1. From the author of them, the Father of lights.—2. From the several parts of them, and wh t they are compared unto. The law, or legal part of them, is represented by things which are light, Prov. vi. 23. The evangelical part of the Scriptures, or the gospel, is compared to a glass, in which may be clearly beheld, the glory of the Lord.—3. From other tes i monies of Scripture, particularly from Dcut. xsx. 11. 14.. Rom.x. 6—8. The whole of Scripture is a light that shinetb in a dark place.—4. From exhortations to all sorts of people to read them and who are commended for so doing, Deut. xvii. 19. John v. 39. Acts xvii. 11. Rev. i. 3.—5. From all sorts of persons being capable of reading them, and hearing them read, so as to understand them. Believers, and regenerate persons of every rank and degree, have knowledge of them, whether fathers, young men, or little children, 1 John ii. 12—14. Nor is the public preaching of the word, and the necessity of it, to be objected to all this; since that is, as for conversion, so for greater edification and comfort, and for establishment in the truth, even though it is known ; and besides, it serves to lead into a larger knowledge of it, and is the ordinary means of guiding into it, and of arriving to a more perfect acquaintance with it, 1 Cor. xiv. 3. 2 Pet: 1. 12. Acts viii. 30, 31. Eph. iv. 11—13. So that it may be concluded, upon the whole, that the Scriptures are a sure, certain, and infallible rule to go by, with respect to things both to be believed and done. The only certain and infallible rule of faith and practice. And,
IV. There seems to be a real necessity of such a rule in the present state of things. Nothing else was, and nothing less than the Scriptures are, a sufficient rule and guide in matters of religion; even not the light of nature and reason, so much talked of, and so highly exalted. Let one of the most exalted genius be pitched upon, one of the wisest and sagest philosophers of the Gentiles, that has studied nature most, and arrived to the highest pitch of reason and good sense ; for instance, let Socrates be the man, who is sometimes magnified as divine, and in whom the light of nature and reason may be thought to be sublimated and raised to its highest pitch, and yet it must be a very deficient rule of faith and practice; for he himself bewails the weakness and darkness of human reason, and confessed the want of a guide. The light of nature and reason considered in large bodies of men, in whole nations, will appear not to be the same in all. The insufficiency thereof, as a rule and guide in religion, will further appear by considering the following particulars.
i. That there is a God may be known by the light of nature ; but who and what he is, men. destitute of a divine revelation, have been at a loss about. Multitudes have gone into polytheism, and have embraced for gods almost every thing in and under the heavens; not only the sun, moon, and stars, and mortal men have they deified ; but various sorts of beasts, fishes, fowl, creeping things, and even forms of such that never existed.
N. Though the light of nature may teach men that God, their Creator and Benefactor, is to be worshipped by them, yet a perfect plan of worship, acceptable to God, could never have been formed according to that j hence the Gentiles, left: to that, and without a divine revelation, have introduced modes of worship the most absurd and ridiculous, as well as cruel and bloody.
in. By the light of nature men may know that they are not in the same condition and circumstances they originally were ; but in what state they were made, and how they fell from that estate, and came into the present depraved one, they know not; and still less how to get out of it, and to be cured of their irregularities.
iv. Though, as the apostle savs, the Gentiles without the law, do by nature the things contained in the law; and are a law to themselves, which shew the work of the law written on their hearts; their consciencts also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing, or else excusing one another, Rom. ii. 14, 15. and so have some notion of the difference between moral good and evil; yet this is not so clear and ex. tensive, but that some of the greatest moralists among them, gave into the most notorious vices.
v. Though in many cases reason taught them that certain vices were disagreeable to God; how to reconcile him to them and recommend themselves to his favour, they were quite ignorant; and therefore took the most shocking and detestable methods for it, as human sacrifices, and particularly, burning their innocent infants.
vi. Men may, by the light of nature, have some notion of sin as an offence to God, and of their need of forgiveness from him but then they cannot be certain of it from thence, or that even God will pardon sin at all, the sins of any man ; and still less how this can be done consistent with his holiness and justice.
VIi. The light of nature leaves men entirely without the knowledge of the way of salvation by the Son of God. Some have thought that Socrates had some notion of it; who is made to say,* " It is necessary to wait till tome one teaches how to behave towards God and men."
Vin. The light of nature is far from giving any clear and certain account of the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and a future state of happiness and misery; as for the immortality of the soul, the heathens rather wished it to be true, than were fully satisfied of it. In what a low manner do they represent the happiness of the future state ; by walking in pleasant fields, by sitting under fragrant bowers, and cooling shades, and by shelter from inclement weather; by viewing flowing fountains, and purling streams; by carnal mirth, feasting, music, and dancing: and the misery of it, by being bound neck and heels together, or in chains, or fastened to rocks, and whipped by furies, with a scourge of serpents, or doomed to some laborious service.
* Plato in Ale'1.'"' 2. p. 459.
But not the least hint is given of the presence of God with the one, nor of his absence from the other. Let us therefore bless God that we have a better rule and guide to go by; " a more sure word of prophecy to take heed unto:" let us have constant recourse unto it, as the standard of faith and practice ; and try tvery doctrine and practice by it, and believe and act as that directs us, and fetch every thing from it that may be for our goodi and the glory of God.
OF THE NAMES OF GOD.
Properly speaking, since God is incomprehensible, he is not nominable ; and being but one, he has no need of a name to distinguish him; and therefore Plato says he has no name. So when Moses asked the Lord, what he should say to the children of Israel, should they ask the name of him that sent him to them, he bid him say, I am that I am; that is, The eternal Bring, the Being of beings; nevertheless, there arc names of God in the scriptures taken from one or other of his attributes, which are worthy of consideration.
The names of God, as Zanchy* observes, some of them respect him as the subject, as Jehovah, Lord, God: others are predicates, what are spoken of him, or attributed to him, as holy, just good, &c. Some respect the relation the divine persons in the Godhead stand to each other, as Father, Son, and Spirit: others the relation of God to the creatures; and which are properly said of him, and not them, as Creator, Preserver, Governor, &c. some are common to the three divine Persons, as Jehovah, God, Father, Spirit; and some peculiar to each, as the epithets of unbegotten, begotten, proceeding from the Father and the Son: some are figurative and metaphorical, taken from creatures, to whom God is compared ; and others are proper names, by which he either calls himself, oris called by the prophets and Apostles, in the books of the Old and New Testament.
* De Nature Dei, 1.1. c. 4.
i. Elohim is the first name of God we meet with in Scripture, and is translated God. Gen. i. i. and is most frequently used throughout the whole Old Testament; sometimes, indeed, improperly of creatures, angels, and men, and of false deities, Psal. viii. 5. and lxxxii. 1,6. Jer. x. 11. but properly only of God.
The word Elohim may be derived from a word in the Arabic language, which signifies to worship, as is thought by many learned men*; and so is a fit name for God, who is the sole object of religious worship and adoration. It is a word of the plural number, and though it has a singular, which it sometimes used, yet it is most frequently in this form ; and bting joined with a verb singular, as in Gen. i. i. it is thoughtf to denote a plurality of persons in the unity of the divine essence.
Ii. Another name of God is El; and which may be observed in the word Beth-el, which signifies, The House of God, Gen. xii. 7, 8. Both the singular and plural, El Elim, the God of gods, are used in Dan. xi. 36. and the word is left untranslated in Mat. xxvii. 46. Eli, Eli ; my God, my God. It is expressive of the power of God.
in. The next name of God we meet with is Elion, the most high, Gen. xiv. 18—22. So Christ is called The son of the Highest, and the Spirit, the power of the Highest, Luke i. 32, 35. and which name God has either from his habitation, the highest heavens, Isai. lvii. 15. or from his superiority, power, and dominion over all creatures, or from the sublimity of his nature and essence, which is out of the reach of finite minds, and is incomprehensible, Job xi. 7, 8. It is expressive of the supremacy of God.
iv. Another name of God is, Shaddai: under this name God appeared to Abraham, Gen. xvii. i. and to which reference is had,. Exod. vi. 3. we translate it Almighty in both places, and in all others.
•Stockii Clavis S. Ling. p.61. Hottingeri Smegma Oriental. 1 I.e. 8. p. 155. Schultens in Job i. 1. Noldius, No. 1093. Alting Dissert. 4. de plural. Elohim, p,177. f Schindler. Lexic. Pentaglott. col 78.
Some choose to render it sufficient, or all.sufficient* God. Oihers render it Nourisherf; deriving it from a word which signifies a breast; HillerusJ, derives it ' from a word which signifies to pour out, or shed; and it well agrees with God, who pours forth, or sheds his blessings, in great plenty, on his creatures; and which flow from him as from a fountain: though others give a very different etymology of it; deriving it from a word which signifies to destroy; to whichthrr e seems to be a beautiful allusion in Isai. xiii.6. " Destruction from Shaddai, the destroyer." And some render the word, the Darter, or Thunderer :|j whose darts are his thunderbolts. Job vi. 4. This name seems to be expressive of the all sufficiency of God, and of the supply of his creatures from it.
v. Another of the names of God is, the Lord, or God of hosts; it is first mentioned in 1 Sam. i. 3. 11. but frequently afterwards ; and is left untranslated in James v. 4. where the Lord is called, tie Lord ofSabaoth, not Sal Lath, as it is sometimes wrongly understood ; and as if it was the same with Lard of Sab'ath, Matt. xii. 8. for though the words are somewhat alike in sound, the} are very different in sense; for Sabbath signifies rest, and Sabaoth host or armies. The Lord is the God of armies on earth; he is the Lord of the hosts of the starry heavens; the sun, moon, and stars, called the host of heaven, Gen. ii. 1. and also of the airy heavens ; and the locusts that fly there are his army, Joel ii. 7, 11. and the meteors, thunder and lightening, snow and hail: the angels also are the militia of heaven, and are called the heavenly host, Luke ii. 13. This name is expressive of God's dominion over all his creatures, and the several armies of them.
vi. Another name of God is Adonai, or Adon, Gen. xv. 2. and is commonly rendered Lord. Hence the Spanish word don for Lord. God is so called, because he is the Lord of the whole earth, Zech. iv. 14. Adon is used in the plural number of God, Mai. i. 6. and so Adonai is used of the Son, as
* So Cocceius in Lex. col. 859. Jarcbi in Gen. xvii. 1. Maimon. Morcli Ne. voehim. par. 1. c. 63. t P' chii. Dissert. deSelali, p. 2.s. 6. fOnomast. Sacr. p. 260, 261. || So Schmidt in Job vi. 4. .
OF THE NATURE OF GOD.
There is a nature that belongs to every creature, which is difficult to understand; and so to God, the Creator, which is most difficult of all. Mention is made of ihe divine Nature, 2 Pet. i. 4. This is what is called Divinity, Deity, or Godhead ; and which is to be seen and understood by the visible works of creation, and is what, " in all its perfection and fulness, dwells bodily in Christ." Act* xvtf. 29. We are required to believe that he is, that he has a being of essence, and does exist, Heb. xi. 6. Essence is that by which a person or thing is what it is, that is its nature; and with re. spect to God, it is the same with his face, which cannot be seen, Exod. xxxiii. 20,23. It is impossible for a finite mind in its most exalted state, to comprehend the infinite Nature and Being of God,
This nature is common to the three Persons in God, but not communicated from one to another; they each of them partake of it, and possess it as one undivided nature ; they all enjoy it. I know it is represented by some, who, otherwise, are sound in the doctrine of the Trinity, that the divine nature is communicated from the Father to the Son and Spirit, and that he \sfons Deitatisy the fountain of Deity ; which I think are unsafe phrases. It is better t» say, that they are self-existent, and exist together in the same undivided essence ; and jointly, equally, and as early one as the other, possess th$ same nature.
The nature of God is, Indeed, incomprehensible by us • somewhat of it may be apprehended, but it cannot be fully comprehended ; Canst thou by searching find out Gqd ? Canst thou find out the Almighty into perfection ? Job xi. 7. No: but then this does not forbid us searching and enquiring after him.. An heathen philosopher being asked this question,
whom no man hath ssen, nor can see," 1 Tim. i. IT. No likeness can be formed of God: no similitude was ever seen of him, and to whom can be likened and compared ? Deut iv. 12. Aristotle argues the invisibility of God, from the invisibility of the soul of man.
But besides these properties, there are other still more excellent in spirits, by which they approach nearer to God, and bear a greater resemblance to him ; they are lively ; angels are commonly thought to be the living creatures in Ezckiel's vision. God is the living God, has life in and of himself, and gives life to all creatures that have it. Spirits are active. God is all act, arttu simplicissimus, as he is sometimes stiled, the most simple act; he works and always works. Spirits, angels, and the souls of men, are intelligent beings ; the understanding of God is infinite, there is no searching of it. Spirits have the power of willing, they are voluntary agents ; and God wills whatever he does, and does whatever he wills: Spirits have the affections of love, mercy, pity, &c. God not only loves his creatures, but " is love itself," 1 John iv. 16.
in. God being a Spirit, we learn that he is a simple and uncompounded Being, and does not consist of parts, as a body does; his spirituality involves his simplicity. If God was composed of parts he would not be eternal, and absolutely the first B..ing, since the composing parts, would at least co.exist with him ; and, beside, there must be a composer, who puts the parts together, and therefore must be before what is composed of them ; all which is inconsistent with the eternity of God: nor would he be infinite and immense ; for either these parts are finite, or infinite ; if finite they can never compose an infinite Bting ; and if infinite , there must be more infinites than one, which implies a contradiction: nor would he be independent ; for what is composed of parts, depends upon those parts, and the union of them, by which it is preserved: nor would he be immutable, unalterable, and immortal, since what consists of parts, and depends upon the union of them, is liable to alteration. and to be resolved into those parts again, and so be dissolved and come to destruction. In short, he would
not be the most perfect of Beings: for as the more spiritual a being is, the more perfect it is.
Nor is the simplicity of God to be disproved by the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead; for though there are three distinct persons, there is but one nature and essence common to them all.
OF THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD.
The attributes of God are variously distinguished by divines ; some distinguish them into negative and affirmative: the negative are sucii as remove from him whatever is imper. feet in creatures ; such are infinity, immutability, immorality, Sec. which deny him to be finite, mutable, and mortal; and indeed, it is easier to say what God is not, than what he is: the affirmative assert some perfection in God, which is in and of himself; and which in the creatures, in any measure, is from him ; but the distinction is discarded by others; because in all negative attributes some positive excellency is found. Some distribute them into a two-fold order, first and second: Attributes, or essential properties of the first order, declare the essence of God as in himself; and attributes of the second order, which though primarily, and in a more excellent manner are in God, than in creatures; yet in an analogical sense, are in them, there being some similitude of them in them. Again, some are said to be absolute, and others relative : absolute ones are such as eternally agree with the essence of God, without respect to his creatures; relative ones are such as agree with him in time, with some certain respect to his creatures : some are called proper, as those before mentioned, and others figurative, signified by the parts of the human body, and the affections of the mind, as observed in the preceding chapter: but the more commonly received distinction of the attributes of God, is into thejcommunicable and incommunicable ones ; the incommunicable attributes of God, are such as there is no appearance or shadow of them in creatures ; as independence, immutability, immensity, and eternity : communicable ones, are such as are common to God, with men; or, however, of which there is some resemblance in men, as goodness, holiness, justice, and wisdom. But as God is defined a Spirit in Scripture, as has been observed, I shall endeavour to sort the perfections and attributes of God in. agreement with that: and with respect to his nature, as an uncreated Spirit, may be referred, besides his spirituality and simplicity, already considered, his immutability, and infinity, which includes his immensity, or omnipresence, and eternity : and with respect toii as active, and operative, the Kfe of God, and his omnipotence : and with respect to the faculties, as a rational spirit, particularly the understanding, to which may belong, his omniscience, and manifold wisdom; and the will, under which may be considered the acts of that, and the sovereignty of it; and the affections, to which may be reduced, the love grace, mercy, hatred, anger, patience, and long.suffering of God: and lastly, under the n .tions of qualities and virtues, may be considered, his goodness, holiness, justice, truth, and faithfulness ; and, as the complement of the whole, his perfection or all-sufficiency, glory, and blessedness: and in this order I shall consider them. And begin with,
THE iMMUTABiLiTY OF GOD.
Immutability is an attribute which God claims, and challenges as peculiar to himself; lam the Lord, I change not, Mai. iii. 6. Mutability belongs to creatures; the visible heavens are often changing; the face of the earth appears different at the various seasons of the year: it has undergone one great change by a flood, and will undergo another by fire. To which changeableness in them the unchangeableness of God is opposed, Psal. cii. 25—2r. The sun in the firmament has its various appearances. Angels in their original nature and state, were subject to change, as the apostacy of many have shewn. Man, at his best estate, his estate of innocence, and integrity, was altogether vanity, is now a creature subject to innumerable changes in life; and death at last turns him to corruption and dust. Good men are very mutable, both in their inward and outward estate. But God is in and of himself immutable.
I. In his nature and essence, being simple, and devoid of all composition, as has been proved. Since he is eternal, there can be no change of time with him. And seeing he is infinite, immense, and omnipresent; there can be no change of place. If he changes, it must be either for the better or the worse; if for the better, then he was imperfect before, and so not God: if for the worse, then he becomes imperfet and the same follows. Or if he changes from an infinitely perfect state, to another equally so, then there must be more infinites than one, which is a contradiction. Again, if any change is made in him, it must be either from somewhat within him, or from somewhat without him; if from within, there must be another and another in him ; one which changes, and another which is changed, and so would be compound; which is inconsistent with the simplicity of God : if from somewhat without him, then there must be a superior to him, able to move and change him; but he is the most high God ; there is none in heaven nor in earth above him ; he is " God over all, blessed for ever."
Ii. God is unchangeable in his perfections or attributes; which, though they are the same with himself, his nature and essence, as has been observed; yet, considering them separately, they are helps to our better understanding of it, and serve particularly to illustrate the unchangeableness of it. He is the same in his power as ever; his knowledge is the same ; his goodness, grace, and mercy, arc immutable; his faithfulness he never suffers to fail.
in. God is unchangeable in his purposes and decrees; they are like the laws of the Medes and Persians, and more unalterable than they were ; they are the mountains of brass Ze. chariah saw in a vision, from whence proceed the providences of God, and the executioners of them, Zech. vi. 1. " The counsel of the Lord standi for ever." Psal. xxxiii. 11.
Nor is the immutability of the decrees of God to be disproved by his providences; Job was a remarkable instance scnce of God may be argued from the distributions of his goodness to all. And as he is every where by his power and pr evidence, so he is by his knowledge ; all things are naked and open to him, being all before him, aud he present with them ; unless he was omnipresent, he coul't Skn be in whatsoever place the saints are worshipping in different parts of the world ; as in Europe, so in America. The presence of God may be observed in a different manner ; there is his glorious prestnee in heaven; there is his powerful and providential presence with all his creatures; and there is his gracious presence with good men: and all suppose his omnipresence. . This attribute is most clearly expressed in several passages of si ripture. as particularly in Psal. exxxix. 7—10. See alike enumeration of places in Amos ix. 2, S. Another passage of Scripture, proving the Omnipresence of God, is in Isai. lxvi. 1. But no where is the Omnipresence of God more expressly declared than in Jer. xxiii. 23, 24. Nor is this disproved by other passages of scripture, which may seem, at first sight, to discountenance or contradict it: not such as speak of men's departing and fl cting from his presence, as Cain and Jonah are said to do, Gen. iv. 16. Jonah i. 3. for Cain only went from the place where he and the Lord had been conversing. Jonah's fi\eing, uas withdrawing himself from the service of God ; but he soon found his mistake, and that God was everywhere, and could meet with him by sea, and by land. Such that represent God as descending from heaven ; as at Babel, Sodom, aid on mount Sinai; only denotes some more than ordinary manifestations ol his presence, or exertion of his power.
The Etirmty Of G D belongs to his infinity; for as he is not bounded by space, so neither by time, and therefore eternal. He is often called the everlasting God, and the King eternaL, den. xxi. 31. Dcut. xxxiii, 87, yea, eternity itself, 1. S Hi. xv. 29. and is said to inhabit it, Isai. lvii. 15. Eternity, propcrh so c:illt.'i, is \hat which is withou. beginning and end ; time is the measure of a creature's duration: eiernny only belongs to God. Psal. xc. 2. Eternity, is true of God, essentially considered, and in the sense explained, is to be proved ; and that he is without beginning, without end, and without succession. '
I That he is without beginning, or from everlasting , this is put by the way of interrogation, Hab. i. 12. and is strongly affirmed, Psal. xciii. 2. and may be proved.
i. From his nature and being: the existence of God is not arbitrary, but necessary : if arbitrary, it must be from his own will, or from the will of another; not from his own will, which, would suppose him in being already ; and then he must be before he existed, and must be, and not be, at the same instant: not from the will of another, for then that other would be both prior and superior to him, and so be God, and not he. if there was an instant in which he was not, then there was an instant in which there was no God; and if so, there may be one again in which he may cease to be; for that which once was not, may again not be ; and this will bring us into the depth of atheism. The eternity of God may be inferred from his immutability, which has been already established ; those two go together, and prove each other, Psal. cii. 27. Moreover, God is the most perfect Being; which he would not be, if not eternal ; for not to be or to have a beginning, is an imperfection ; and it is an humbling consideration to man, a creature of time, that he is but of yesterday. Job viii. 9. Add to this, that God is the first Cause of all things, and therefore must be eternal. Ii The Eternity of God may be proved from his attributes, several of which are said to be eternal, or from everlasting power,. Rom. i. 20. knowledge, Acts, xv. 18. mercy, Psal. ciii. 17. and love, 1 John iv. 16.
m. That God is Eternal maybe argued from his purposes, counsels, . and decrees; which are said to be of old, tha is, from everlasting, Isai. xxv. 1. they are expressly said to be eternal, Eph. iii. 1i. and if they are eternal, then God, in whom they are, and by whom they are formed, must be eternal also. His choice of men to everlasting life, is eternal, Rom. ix. 11. they were chosen by bifl) from the beginning, 2. Thess. ii. 13. i
jy. The Eternity of God may he concluded from the covepant of grace, stiled, an everlasting covenant, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. 2J»w if there was a covenant made by God from everlastiug, and Christ was set up by him so early, as the Mediator of it; and there were blessings of grace, and promises of grace, made by him before time was, ihen he must be from everlasting.
V. It may be proved from the works of God in time : all creatures are the w rks of his hand ; all things are from him, and so have a beginning; but he from whom they are, is from none, has no cause of his being, and therefore must be eternal. S,o creation is made a proof of his eternal power and Godhead, R'm. i. 20. creation proves his eternity, and eternity proves his deity. Hence Thales said, " The most ancient of Beings is God.'?
II. That God is to everlasting, and without end, may be proved from his spirituality and simplicity, already established. It may be argued from his independency ; from his immutability, and from his dominion and government; he is, and aits King for ever; he is an everlasting King, his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation and will never end, Jer. x 10. Psal. x. 16. He is not only called the living God, Jer. x. 10. but is often said to live for ever and ever, Hev. iv. 9, 10. and X. 6.
III. The J. ternity of God, or his being from everlasting to everlasting, is without succession, or any distinctions of time succeeding ope another, as moments, minutes, hours, days, months, and years; the reasons are, because he existed before such were in being; Before the day was, Iam he, Isai. xliii. 13. he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; these are all at once, and together with him ; he is he which is, and was, and is to come, Heb. xiii. 8. Rev. i. 4. in his nature, he. co-exists with all the points of time, in time ; but is unmoved and pnaffected with any, as a rock m the rolling waves pf the sea, pr a tower in a torrent of gliding water ; or as the gnomon or stile of a sun dial, which has all the hours of the day surrounding it, anil the sun, by it,casis a shade upon ihem, points at and distinguishes them, but the stile stands firm and unmoved, and not effected thercbv : hence it is that one dry is with the Lord as a thousand years; and a thousand ye^rs as one day, 2 Pet. iii. 8. In shoit, God is Eternity itself, and inhabits eurniu ; so he did before time, and without succession ; so ho does throughout time; and so he will to all eternity.
OF THE LIFE OF GOD.
In order to apprehend somewhat of the life of God, for comprehend it we cannot, it may be necessary to consider life in the creatures, what that is; and by rising from the lowest degree in life, to an higher, and from that to an higher still, we may form some idea of the life of God, though an inadequate one. The sun, moon, and planets move, yet thev are inanimate. The lowest degree of real life is in vegetables, in herbs, plants, and trees. In animals there is an higher degree of life. There is an higher degree still, in rational creatures, angels, and the souls of men. But what comes nearest to the life of God, that we can conceive of, is that which is in regenerated persons, who have a principle of spiritual life, grace, and holiness, implanted in them, by the Spirit of God. This most resembles the life of God, cspeciallv, as it will be perfect and eternal in a future state, though it comes abundantly short of what is in God.
I. God is life essentially, it is his nature and essence, it is in and of himself. The Father has life in himself, John v. 25. and so has the son and Word of God, John i. 1, 4. and likewise the Spirit, called, therefore, the Spirit of life, Rev. xi. 11. it is independent. God lives his own life ; he is hl-Snaddai, God all sufficient, blessed, and happy in himself for evermore. The scriptures frequently speak of God as the living God, both in the Old and New Testament, Deut. v. 26. The living God is opposed to idols. lifeless and motionless, Jer. x. 10— 16. and to heroes, kings, and emperors, deified after their death. He asserts it of himself, which must be true, and may be depended on ; 1 lift up my hand, and say, I live forever, Deut. xxxii. 40. yea, it is an oath of his affirming the same, and it is the common form of swearing with him, As I live, saith the Lord; and which is very frequently used by him, see Numb. xiv. 28. and this is no other than swearing by his life, which is himself; " for when he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself."
II. God is life eternally, without beginning, succession or end ; he is without beginning of life or end of days, and with, out any variableness ; " the same to-day, yesterday, and for. ever; he that is the true God, is also eternal life, 1 John v. 20. God is a simple and uncompounded Being, and therefore must live for ever; he has no cause prior to him, from whom he has received his life, that can take away his life from him. There is no change, nor shadow of change, in him ; and yet, if his life was not eternal, he must be subject to the greatest of changes, death. The same arguments which prove his eternity, must prove also that he lives tor ever; he is the true God. the living God, and an everlasting King, Jer. x. 10. Aristotle has this remarkable observation, " The energy, act, or operation of God, is immortality, this is everlasting life ; wherefore there must needs be perpetual motion in God." Our God, the true God, is he who only hath immortality, 1 Tim. vi. 16, that is, who hath it in and of himself, and gives it to others.
III. God is life efficiently, the source and spring, the author and giver of life to others ; With thee is the fountain of life, Psal. xxxvi. 9. God is the author and giver of life, from the lowest to the highest degree of it. The vegetative life, that is in herbs, plants, and trees, is from him, Gen. 1. 11, 12. The life of all animals, of the fishes in the sea, the fowl of the air, and the beasts of the field; and he gives them life and breath ; and when hi, takes it away, they die, and return to the dust, Gen. 1. 20—25- The rational life in angels and men, is from him. No creature can give real life ; men may paint to the life, as we say, but they cannot give life: no man can roake a • living fly ; he may as soon make a world. The spiritual life that is in any of the sons of men, is from God. And eternal life, so often spoken of in scripture, as what the saints shall enjoy for evermore, is of God ; it flows from his free favour and good will, through Christ, Acts xiii. 48. Tit. i. 2. Rom. vi. 23. Now God must have life in the highest degree of it as explained ; even essentially, originally, infinitely, and perfectly ; or he could never give life in every sense unto his creatures ; and he must live for ever, to continue eternal life, particularly to his people, and preserve them in it.
OF THE OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD.
Omnipotence is essential to God, it is his nature ; a weak Deity is an absurdity to the human mind: the very heathens suppose their gods to be omnipotent, though without reason; but we have reas' ,n sufficient to believe that the Lord our God, who is the true God, is Almighty. All spirits are powerful, our own spirits are~endowed with the power and faculties of understanding, willing, reasoning, choosing, and refusing, loving and hating, &c. Angelic spirits are more powerful still, they excel in strcngh, and are called mighty angels, Psal. ciii. 20. One of them slew in one night one hundred and eiglu\ ,five thousand men, 2 Kings xix. 35. and what then cannot God, the uncreated and infinite Spirit, do ? This may be inferred from his infini.y. God is an infinite Being, and so is every perfection of nis ; his understanding is infinite, and such is his power. The omnipotence of God may be argued from his independency ; all creatures depends on him, but he depends on none. Moreover, this attribute of God may be ci nfirmed by his perfection ; God is a most perfect being, but that he would not be if any thing was wanting in him; want of power in a creature is an imperfection ; but he is " able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think,1' Eph. i. 19. and iii. 20. And this may be strengthened yet more by observing, the uselessness of many other perfections without it. What dependence can there be upon his faithfulness in his promises, if he is not able also to perform ? and of what use is his goodness, or an inclination and disposition in him 'o do good, if he cannot do it ? or where is his justice in rend• ring to every man according to his works, if he cannot execute it ? So that power belongs to God, Psal. lxii. 11. In all the doxologies or ascriptions of glory to God, by angels' and men, power or might is put into them, Rev. iv. 10, 11. and v. 13. and vii. 11, 12. The power of God reaches to all things, and therefore is, with propriety, called Omnipotence ; all things are possible with God, and nothing impossible; Luke i. 37. Mark xiv. 36, Hr stopped the sun in its course, in the times of Joshua; made iron to swim by the hands of the prophet tlisha ; ai d suffered not fire to burn in the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. There are some things, indeed, which God cannot do, he cannot deny himself, 2 Tim. ii. 13.; he cannot make another God, Deut vi. 4.; he cannot make a finite creaturt infinite; he cannot raise a creature to such dignity as to have divine perfections ascribed to it; he cannot make contradiction^ true ; a thing to be, and not to be ai the same time ; or make a thing not to have been that has been ; ' but then these are no prejudices to his omnipotence, nor proois of wt akness ; they arise only out of the abundance and fulness ol his power. The power of God may be considered as absolute, and as actual or ordinate. According to his absolute power, he can do all things which are not contrary to his nature and perfections ; but the power of God has never been exerted to its utmost; it is sufficient to entitle him to omnipotence, that he has done, and does, whatsoever he pleases, and that whatsoever is made, is made, is made by him, and nothing without him ; which is what may be called, his ordinate and actual power.
i. These visible works of creation, are proofs of the invisible attributes of God, and purtirularly of his eternal power, Acts iv. 2.4•. Rom. i. 20. Creation is making something out of nothing ;. which none but omnipotence can effict; see Heb. xi. 3. no artificer, though ever so expert, can work without materials; but God created the first matter out of which all things are made. God can work without instruments, as he did in creation ; it was only by his all-commanding word that every thing sprung into being, Gen. i. '. &c. Psal. xxxvi. 9. and every thing created was d'me at once. The works of creation were done without weariness : no labout of men is free from it: if it be the work of the brain, the fruit of close reasoning, reading, meditation, and study; much study, ihe wise man sa\s, /'* a weariness of the flesh, Eccles, xii. 12. or if it be manual operation, it is labour and fatigue ; but the everlasting God fainteth net, neither is weary, Iuai. xl. 28. he is said to Test on the seventh day, not on account ot fatigue but to denote he had finished his work.
11. Omnipotence appears in the sustentation and support of all his creatures; " he upholds all things by the word of his power ;" the heavens, the earth, and the pillars thereof, Acts xvii. 28. see Job xxvi. 7,8. & xxxviii. 10—26. Acts xiv. 17. But what hand can do all these but an almighty one ? Wonderful events in providence can only be accounted for by recurring to omnipotence, and to supernatural power and aid; as the drowning of the whole world ; the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities of the plain ; the removing of mountains, shaking the earth, and the pillars of it, commanding the sun not to rise, and sealing up the stars, Job ix. 5, Sec.
in. The omnipotence of God may be seen in the redemp. tion of men by Christ, in things leading 10 it, and in the completion of it. Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power, Eph. i. 19. Hom. ix. 4. t
iv. Almighty power may be discerned in the conversion of sinners; that is a creation, which is an act of omnipotence, as has been proved. Men, in conversion, are " created in Christ and after the image of God;" conversion is a resurrection, and that requires almighty power. And if we consider the means of it, generally speaking, " the foolishness of preaching." And also the great opposition made to this work, through the enmity and lusts of men's hearts, the malice of Satan, willing to
keep possession; the snares of the world, and the influence of wicked companions ; it cannot be thought that the rise, progress, and finishing of it, are not by might and power of men, but by the mighty, efficacious, and all-powerful grace of God, 2 Thes*. \. 11. Zech. iv. 6.
V. That the Lord God is omnipotent, may be evinced from the rise and progress of christianity, the success of the gospel, in the first times of it, and the continuance of it notwithstanding the opposition of men and devils. The interest of Christ in the world rose from small beginnings, by means of the preaching of the gospel s and that by men illiterate, mean, and contemptible, who were opposed by Jewish Rabbins, and heathen philosophers, by monarchs, kings, and emperors, and by the whole world 5 yet these were made to triumph every where, in a short time the universal monarchy of the earth became nominally christian. /
vi. The final perseverance of every particular believer ia grace and holiness, is a proof of the divine omnipotence; he is kept by the power of God, the mighty power of God, as in a garrison, through faith unto salvation, 1 Pet. i. 5.
Vn. The almighty power of God will be displayed in the resurrection of the dead. What else but his almighty power can gather all nations before him ? And what but his vengeful arm of omnipotence, can execute the sentence on millions and millions of devils and wicked men, in all the height of wrath, rage, fury, and rtbillion ? see Phil. iii. 21. John v. 28, 29. Matt. xxv. 32—±6. Rev. xx—a—10.
OF THE OMNISCIENCE OF GOD.
Goo is said to have a mind and understanding, Rom. xi. 34. Is.ii. xi. 28. to which may be referred, the attributes of knowledge and wisdom, which go together, Rom. xi. 33. I shall btgin with the first of these. And prove,
1: That knowledge belongs to God. In all rational creatures there is knowledge ; L ere is much in angels, and in man. Now, if there is knowiedge in any of the creatures of God, then muiii more lu GuU himself. Besides, all that knowledge that is in angels or men, comes from Goo1, He that teaches man knowledge, shall he not know? Psal. xciv. 10. He has a will which cannot be resisted, fc.ph. i. 11. Rom. ix. 19. and this can never be supposed to be without knowledge. In short, without knowledge, God would be no other than the idols of the Gentiles, who have eyes, but see not; are the work of errors, and are falshood and vanity ; but the portion of Jacob is not likf them, Jer. x. 14—16. I go on,
II. To shew the extent of the knowledge of God: it reaches to all things, John xxi. 17. and is therefore with great propriety called omniscience, and which the very heathens ascribe to God. Thales being asked, Whether a man doing ill, could lie hid to, or be concealed from God ? answered, No, nor thinking neither. And Pindar says, If any man hopes that any thing will be concealed from God, he is deceived,
I. God knows himself, his nature and perfections ; and each person fully knows one another ; the Father knows the Son, begotten by him, and brought up with him ; the Son knows the F"ather? in whose bosom he lay; and the Spirit knows the Father and Son, whose Spirit he is, and from whom he pro. ceeds ; and the Father and Son know the Spirit, who is sent by them as the Comforter ; see ]YIatt. xi. 27. 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11. God knows the mode of each person's subsistence in the Deity, the paternity of the Father, the generation of the Son, and the spiration of the Holy Ghost; he knows the things he has purposed, and the exact time of the accomplishment of them, which he has reserved in his own power, Eph. i. 11. Eccles. iii. 1. Acts. i. 6.
Ii. God knows all his creatures, there is not any creature, not one excepted, that is not manifest in his sight, Heb. iv. 13. He knows all things inanimate, all that is upon the earth, and all that are in the heavens; he knows all the irrational creatures, the beasts of the field, " the cattle on a thousand hills;" he knows all the fishes of the sea, and provided one to swallow Jonah, when thrown into it; he knows all rational beings, the elect angels, whom he must know, since he has chosen them and put them under Christ, the head of all principality and power. Yea the apostate angels, devils, are known bjr hn, and are under the continual e\e of God, and the restraints of his providence.,God knows all men, good and bad: the evil thoughts of men, which are many and vain, Psal. xciv. 11 and the good thoughts of men, as he must, since they are of him, and not of themselves, 2 Cor. iii. 5. he knows all the Voids of men, there is not one upon their tongues, or uttered by them, but he knows it altogether, Psal. exxxix. 4. every idle word must be accounted for in the day of judgment; and much more blasphemies, oaths, and curses. He is familiar wiih the words of good men, expressed in prayer and thanks, giving, and spiritual conversation with one another, Mai. iii. 26. And all the works and ways of men. Job xxxiv. 21. from what principles they spring, in what manner they are done, and with what views, and for what ends, Rev. ii. 2, 19. in God knows all things whatever, as well as himself and the creatures: he knows all things possible to be done, though thev are not, nor never will be done ; this knowledge is what is cal'ed by the schoolmen, " Knowledge of simple intelligence." God knows the wickedness of some men's hearts that (hey would be gu'lty of the most shocking crimes, if suffered to live, and therefore he takes them away by death ; and that some, if they had a large share of riches, would be haughty and overbearing, and that some good men, if they had them, would abuse them, to their own hurt, and therefore he gives them povertv. Moreover, God knows all things that have been, a' e, or shall be ; and which the schools call, " knowledge of vision." He knows all fornv.r things, from the beginning of the world; and which is a proof of Deity, and such a proof that the idols of the Gentiles cannot give, nor any for them, Isai. xli. 22. and xliii. 9. God sees and knows all things present; all are naked and open to him, he sees all in one view; and all thintjs future,,all that will be, because he has ' determined thev shall be. This is what is called Prescience or Fore-knowledge ; and of which Tertullian, many hundred years ago, observed, that there were as many witnesses of it, as there are prophets ; and I may add, as there are prophecies. What mure contingent than the imaginations, thoughts, ai,d designs of men, what they will be ? and yet these are fore, known before conceived in the mind, Deut. xxxi. 21. Psal, cxxxix. 2. or than the voluntary actions of men ? yet these are foreknown and foretold by the Lord, lung before thi y ; re done; as the names of persons given them, and what ahoud be done by them ; as of Josiah, that he should offer the prit vs, and burn the bones of men on the altar of Bethel, see 1 Kings xiii. 2. and 2 Kings xxiii. 15, 16. and of Cyrus, that he should give orders for the building of the temple, and city ol Jciusalem; and let the captive Jews go free without price, Isai. xliv. 28. and xlv. 13. Ezra i. 1—,3.
There is another sort of prescience, or fore knowledge, the scriptures speak of; on which the election of persons to eternal life is founded, and according to which it is, Rom, viii. 30. The Lord knows them that are his, 2 Tim. ii. 19, whilst of others he says, I know you not, Matt. vit. 23. that is, as Ins beloved and chosen ones.
lit. Though enough has been said to prove the omniscience of God. by the enumeration of the above things ; yet this may receive further proofs from the several attributes of God ; he he is unbounded as to knowledge, and so omniscient. He is from everlasting to everlasting, and therefore must know every thing that has been, is, or shall be. He is every where, and therefore must know every creature. The heathens represent the sun as seeing all things ; then much more may ii be s2id of God, who is a sun, that he looketh to the ends oj'the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; see Psal. xix. 6. Job xxviii. 24.
IV. The manner in which God knows all things is incomprehensible by us; we can say but little of it, " such knowledge is too wonderful for us," Psal. cxxxix. 6. we can better ' say in what manner he does not know, than in what he does: he does not know things by revelation, by instruction, and communication from another. Nor is his knowledge att tined by reasoning, discoursing and inferring one thing from another, as man's is ; nor does he know things by succession, one after another; for then it could not be said, that all things are naked and open to him. In a word, he knows all things in himself, in his own essence and nature.'
OF THE WISDOM OF GOD.
I shall prove,
I. That wisdom is a perfection in God, and is in him in its utmost perfection. An unwise. Being cannot be God. No man is wise, says P) thagoras, but God only. He is no less than three times said to be the only wise God, Rom. xvi 27. 1 Tim. i. 17. Jude 25. Men may be wise in some things, and not in others; but he is wise in every thing; he is essentially wise; there is the personal wisdom of God, which is Christ; who is often spoken of as wisdom, and as the wisdom of God; see Prov. viii. it—31. 1 Cor. i. 24. and there is his essential wisdom, the attribute now under consideration; which is no other than the nature and essence of God. God is wisdom efficiently; he is the source jand fountain of it, the God and giver of it; all that is in the angels of heaven comes from him; all ;hat Adam had, or any of his sons ; or was in Solomon, the wisest of men; or is in the politicians and philosophers of even age; and particularly, the highest and best of wisdom, the fear of God in the soul of man, there are some shining appearances and striking instances of it. And which,
II. Will be next observed.
I. The wisdom of God appears in his purposes and decrees, Isai. xxv. 1. The end for which God has appointed all that has been, or shall be, is himself, his own glory, the best end that can be proposed ; Rom. xi. 36. The means he fixes on to bring it about, are either extraordinary or ordinary ; which latter are second causes depending upon him, the first Cause, •and which are linked together, and under his direction and influence most certainlv attain the end ; see Hos. ii. 21, 22. In the persons he has chosen : his end is the praise of his own grace, Eph. i. 5, 6. to shew the sovereignty of it, he passed this decree without any respect to the works of men, and to shew that he is no respecter of persons, he chose some out of every nacion, Jews and Gentiles; and to shew the freeness of his grace, he chose the foolish and weak things of this world, and things that are not; he has pitched upon mcan9 the wisest that could be devised, even " sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth ; the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus," the righteousness and death of Christ, 2 Thess. ii. IS. 1 Pet. i. 2. So that this decree stands firm and stable. The subordinate end of election, is the salvation of the elect. The scheme and plan of which salvation is so wisely formed, that it is called the manifold wisdom of God, Eph. iii. 10.
ii. The wisdom of Go J is more clearly manifested in his visible works in time: O Lord, hoz» manifold are thy works, in wisdom hast thou made them all! Psal. civ. 24. And,
1. It appears in the works of creation: Psal. exxxvi. 5. Whole volumes have been written on this subject, the wisdom of God in creation ; and more might; the subject is not exhausted. If we look up to the starry heavens ; if we descend into the airy region; if we come down to the earth we may behold, all admirably fitted for an habitation for man, and for the glory of God, Rev. iv. 11.
2. The wisdom of God appears in the works of providence. It may be observed in the various returning seasons; in his opening his hand of providence and satisfying the desires of all living; particularly, he maketh all things work together for the good of his people ; for the trial of their grace, and to make them meet for glory; nor is there any one trial or exercise they meet with, but what there is a necessity of it, and is for the best; when the mystery of providence is finished, the wisdom of God, in every part, will appear striking and amazing; as when a man looks on the wrong side of a piece of tapestry, or only views it in detached pieces, he is scarcely able to make any thing of it; nor can he discern art and beauty In it: but when it is all put together, and viewed on its right side, the wisdom, the contrivance, and art of the maker are observed with admiration.
3. The wisdom of God is to be seen in the great work of Tedempiion and salvation by Christ; hertin he hath abounded towa' ds us, in all wisdom and prudence, kph. i. 7, 8. In the person fixed upon to be the Redeemer. The Son of God was the fittest person to be employed in this service; partaking of both, natures, he was the only proper person to be the Mediator between God and man, to be the day's-man, and lav his hand on both, and reconcile those two parties at variance, and to do what respected both, even " things partaining to God, and to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Through Christ's being man, he became our near kinsman, flesh of our flesh, and bone ol our bone; and so the right of redemption belonged to him ; hence the same word Go. 7, in the Hebrew language, signifies both a redeemer and a near kinsman.— But then the person pitched upon (o be the Redeemer, is God as well as man ; and so as he had pity for men as man, he had a zeal for God and his glory, as a divine person; and would be, as he was, concerned for the glorifying all his divine perfections, one as well as another. Who could have thought of the Son of God, and proposed his becoming man, and suffering, and dying in the stead of men, to redeem them? this is nodus deo vindice dignus; what G"d only could have found out; and he claims it to himself; /, ihe only wise God, have found a ransom, Job xxxiii. 2.1. The wisdom of God may be observed in the way and manner in which redemption is obtained : which being by the price of the blood of Christ, and in a way of full satisfaction to law and justice; the different claims of mercy and justice, which seemed to clash with one another, are reconciled; by this happy method wisdom hag pitched upon, they both agree; "mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other." The wisdom of God is to be discerned in the time of man's redemption; which was the most opportune and seasonable; it was after the faith and patience of GoJ's people had been sufficiently tried, even for the space of four thousand years from the first hint of a Redeemer; and when the gentile woild was covered with darkness, blindness, and ignorance, and abound, ed with all kind of wickedness. x
4. The wisdom of God shines in the gospel, the good news of salvation by Christ; in its doctrines, and its ordinances; it is called the wisdom of God in a mystery ; the hiddenwisdom; the manifoldwisdom of God, 1 Cor. ii. 7. Eph. iii. 10. every doctrine is a display of it; the ordinances of ihe gospel are wisely instituted to answer the end of thtm; and wisely has God appointed men, and not angels, to minister the word, and administer ordinances: " men of the same passions with others."
5. The wisdom of God may be seen in the government and preservation of the church of God, in all ages; no weapon formed against it has prospered; and God has made it, and will still more make it appear that he rules in Job unto the end of the earth.
OF THE WILL OF GOD, AND ITS SOVEREIGNTY.
I shall prove,
I. That there is a Will in God. In all intelligent beings there is a will as well as an understanding. 'I his is frequently ascribed to God in scripture ; The will of the Lord be done, Acts xxi. 14. Who has resistedfiis will? Rom. ix. 19. Will is ascribed to each of the divine persons ; to the Father, John Vi. 39, 40. to the Son, as a divine person, John v. 21. and xvii. 24. and to the Spirit, Acts xvi. 6, 7.
II. I shall next shew what the will of God is: there is but •he will in God; but for our better understanding it, it may be distinguished. The distinction of the secret revealed will of G td has generally obtained among sound divines; the former is properly the will of God, the latter only a manifestation of it. Whatever God has determined within himself, that is his secret will; but when these open, by events in providence, or by prophecy then they become the revealed will of God. God's secret will, becomes revealed by events in providence ; and some things which belong to the secret wjll of God, becom revealed by prophecy. The will of God, which he would nave done by men, is revealed in the law, that is calltd his will, .Rom ii. 18. this was made known' to Adam, b\ in. scribing it on his heart, a new edition of this law was delivered to the Israelites, written on tables of stone : and in regeneration the law of God is put into the inward parts, and written on the heart's of God's people ; Rom. xii. 2. There is the revealed will of God in the gospel; which respects the kind intentions, and gracious regards of God to men ; and discovers what before was his secret will concerning them. It is the revealed will of God, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust; and that all must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. So thai, upon the whole, thongh there is some foundation for this distinction of the se. cret and revealed will ot God, yet it is not quite clear; there is a mixture, part of the will of God is, as yet, secret, and part of it revealed. The most accurate distinction of the will of God, is into that of precept and puipose; or, the commanding and decreeing will of God. God's will of precept, or his commanding will, is that which is often spoken of in scripture, as what should be done by men, and which is desirable they might have knowledge of, and be complete in, Matt. vii. 21. The decreeing will of God is only, properly speaking, his Will; the other in his Word : this is the rule of his own actions; " his counsel stands, and the thoughts of his heart are to all generations;" and this is sometimes fulfilled by those who have no regard to his will of precept. Acts iv. 27, 28. Rtv. xvii. 17. I shall next enquire,
III. What are the objects of it. I. God himself. He wills his own glory in all he does ; he cannot but will his own glory; as " he will not give his glory to another; he cannot will it to another; that would be to deny himself. n. All thinr.s without himself, whether good or evil, are the objects of his will, or what his will is some way or other concerned in. 1. All good things.—All things in nature; Thou hat created all things, and for thy pleasure; or by thy witl they are and were created, Rev. iv. 11. AH things in providence. He doth according to his will in the army of heaven ; in the heavenly hosts of angels; and among the inhabitants of the earth, Pan. iv. 35. All things in grace are according to the will of God ; all are according to the good pleasure of his will, 2 Tim. i. 9. 2 All evil things art the objects of God's will. These are of two sorts. 1. Malum pm*, the evil of afflictions ; whether in away of chastisement, or of punishment: if in a way of chastisement, as they are to the peopleof God, they do notspringoutofthe dust, Job xxiii. 14. If they are in a way of punishment, as they are to wicked and ungodly men, - there is no reason to complain of them, since they are less than the sins deserve, Lam. iii. 39 in 2. Mulum. eu/fxe, or the evil of fault and blame, that is, sin : about this there is some difficulty how the will of God should be concerned in it. To set this affair in the best light, it will be pro. per to consider, what is in sin, and relative to it: there is the act'of sin, and there is the guilt of sin, which is an obliga. tion to punishment, and the punishment itself. Concerning the two last there can be no difficulty ; that God should will that m. n that sin should become guilty ; be r ckoned, accounted, and treated as such ; or lie under obligation to punishment; nor that he should will the punishment of them, and appoint and foreordain them to it, for it, Prov. xvi. 4. Jude 4. The only difficulty is, about the act of sin; and this may be considered either as natural or moral; or the act, and the ataxy, disorder, irregularity, and vitiosity of it: as an action, barely considered, it is of God, and according to his will; without which, and the concourse of his providence, none can be performed ; but then the vitiosity and irregularity of it, as it is an aberration from the law of God, and a transgression of it, is of men only ; besides, God may will one sin as a punishment for another; as it is most certain he has in the case of the Israelites, Hos. iv. 9—13. of the heathen philosophers, Kom. i. 28. but though God may be said, in such senses, to will sin, he does not will to do it himself, ncr to do it by others; but permits it to be done ; it is expressed
by God's giving up men to their own hearts lusts, and by suffering them to walk .in their own sinful ways, Psal. lxxxi. 12. Acts xiv. 16. I proceed to consider,
IV. The nature and properties of the will of God. i. It is natural and essential to him ; it is incommunicable to a creature ; it was even incommunicable to the human nature of Christ, though taken irtto union with the person of the Son of God ; yet his divine will, and his human will, are distinct from each other, though the one is subject to the other, Jihn vi. 38. Luke xxii. 42. n. The will of God is eternal, for if God is eternal, then his will must be so; if any new will arises in God in time, which was not in eternity, there would be a change in him ; whereas he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever: Acts xv. 18. This may be illustrated by the decree of election ; Eph. i. 4. in. The will of God is immutable : Heb. vi. 17. If God changes his will, it must be either for the better or the worse; and either way it would betray imperfection in him, and want of wisdom, iv. The will of God is always efficacious ; there are no wishes, would-bees, or feeble velleities in God; Austin calls it, his most omnipotent will. When a man's will is ineffectual, and he cannot accomplish it, it gives him uneasiness, but this can never be said of the blessed God. v. The will of God has no cause out of himself, for then there would be something prior to him, and greater and more exct lient than he; as every cause is before its effect, and more excellent than that; and his will would be dependent on another, and so he not be the independent Being he is: nor can there be any impulsive or moving cause of his will; because there is in him no passive power to work upon; he is a pure, active Spirit, vi. The will of God, for the same reason, is not conditional; if, for instance, God willed to save all men conditionally; that is, on condition of faith and repentance ; and to damn them if these conditions are wanting; who does not see that this conditional will, to save and to destrov, is equally the same ? destruction is equally willed as salvation; and where is the general love of God to men, so much talked
•f ? there is none at all to any. vn. The will of God is most free and sovereign; as appears.—1. From the making of the world, and all things in it, Rev. iv. 11.—2. The sovereignty of the will of God appears in providence, and in the various events of it; as in the births and deaths of men. Riches and poverty are both at the disposal of God ; God puts down one, and sets up another, as he pleases, Dan. iv. 35—3. The will of God appears to be sovereign in things sacred, spiritual, and religious, both with respect to angels and men; tha• some of the angels should be elect whilst a large number of thi.mw.re suffered to rebel against God. What other reason can be given but the sovereign will of God? Among men, he has mercy on some, and hardens others; just as he, in his sovereignty, wills and pleases. But though the will of God is sovereign, it always acts wisely : and is therefore called counsel, and ihe counsel of his will, Isai. xxv. 1. i, ph. i. 11,
OF THE LOVE OF GOD.
Next to the attributes which belong to God, as an intelligent Spirit, may be considered, those which may be called Affections; there being some things sajd and done by him, which are similar to affections in intelligent beings, as love, pity, hatred, anger, &c. Love enters so much into the nature of Gid, .that it is said, God is love, 1 John iv. 8. Plato expressly calls him Love j and Hesiod speaks of love as the fairest and most beautiful among the immortal gods. In treating of this divine attribute, I shall,
I. Consider the objects of.it. i. The principal object of the love of God is himself. The three divine persons in the Godhead mutually love each other ; the Father loves the Son and the Spirit, the Son loves the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit loves the Father and the Son. Tie Father loves the Son, John iii. 35. and v. 20. Matt. iii. 17. and xvii. 5. the Father loves the Spirit, Job xxxiii. 4. the Son loves the Father, Psal. xl,8. the Son also loves the Spirit, Gal. iv. 6. and the Spirit loves the Father and the Son, 1 Cor. ii» 10—12. John xvi. 14. n. All that God has made is the object of his love; all the works of creation, were good, very good. Gen. i. 31. he is said to rejoice in his works, Psal. civ. 31. I go on,
II. To give some instances of the love of God, particularly to chosen men in Christ, and who share in the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The love of the Father has appeared in thinking of them, and forming the scheme of their peace and reconciliation in Christ, from eternity, 2 Cor. v. 18, 19. The love of the Son of God appears in espousing the persons of the elect, Prov. viii. 31. Hos. ii. 19. and shedding his blood for the clean ing of their souls, and the remission of their sins, Eph. v. 2. 25. The love of the Spirit, of which mention is made in Rom. xv. 30. appears in his coming into their hearts.
III. The properties of the love of God towards men, will lead more into the nature of it. i. There is no cause of it out of God ; all men by nature are corrupt and abominable; rather to be loathed than.loved, Rom. iii. 9. when they love him, it is because he first loved them, 1 John iv. 10,19. as God loved the people of Israel because he loved them, or would love them, and for no other reason, Deut; vii. 7, 8. Ii. The love of God is eternal, John xvii. 23, 24. Hi. The love of God is immutable; it is like himself, the same to-day, yesterday, and for ever. It admits of no distinctions, by which it appears to alter and vary. It neither increases nor decreases. There never were any 'stops, lets, or impediments to this love.— iv. The love or God endures for ever: it is the bond of union between God and Christ, and the elect; and it can never be dissolved; nothing can separate it, nor separate from it, Rom. viii. 35—39.
OF THE GRACE OF GOD.
This attribute may be considered, both as it is in God himself, and as displayed in acts towards his creatures ; as in himself, it is himself, it is his nature and essence; he is Grace itself, most amiable and lovely; hence so often called gracious in scripture. As displayed in acts of goodness towards
his creatures, especially men ; it is no other than his free favour and good will. There are many things~ called grace, and the grace of God, because they flow from his grace, and the effects of it; as the gospel, 2 Cor. vi. 1. gifts for preaching, Rom xii. 6. the blessings of grace, 2 Tim. i. 9. the several graces of the spirit, 2 Cor. ix. 8. but then these are to be distinguished. from grace in God; as the giver and the gift, the. Fountain and the streams, the Cause and the effect. The grace of God arises from the goodness, of his nature, Exod. xxsiii. 19. It is independent of all worth in creatures, and is always opposed to it in scripture, Rom. xi. 6. The grace of God appears in the election of men to'everlasting life, Rom. xi. 5. 6. In the covenant he has made with his elect in Christ, in the adoption of his chosen ones, Eph. i. 5.6. in the redemption by Jesus Christ; in the justification of men before God, and acceptance with him; and in the pardon of sin, vouchsafed to the worst and chief of sinners, 1 Tim. i. 13. The grace of God is abundantly evident in regeneration, vocation, and sanctincation. The most proper epithet of this grace is, thai it is efficacious; it never fails of its effects: but issues in everlasting salvation. The introduction of all the Lord's people into the enjoyment of it, will be attended with shouts and acclamations, crying grace,grace, unto it! Zech. iv. 7.
OF THE MERCY OF GOD.
The mercy of God differs, in some respects, both from the love and grace of God ; from the love of God in its objects and order of operation: mercy supposes its objects miserable, and so fallen : love seems to work by mercy, and mercy from it. God who is rich in mercy, for the great love, &c. Eph. ii. 4, 5. All mercy is grace, yet all grace is not mercy: grace and favour are shewn to the elect angels, but not mercy; since they never were miserable. We consider,