« AnteriorContinuar »
dered in doubts, without coming to any determination. Happy are we, if we know our happiness, who have a revelation, like its great author, full of grace and truth.
The christian religion proposes a reward, excellent in itself, Through and lasting in its duration; and clearly and plainly Cbrift.
revealed. The precepts laid down for the direction of our lives comprehend all sorts of virtue, that relate either to God, or to our neighbour, or to ourselves; they have cleared what was doubtful by the light of nature, and have made the improvements of it necessary parts of our duty. It supplies us with powerful assistance for the performance of our obedience; light for our dark minds; strength for our weak resolutions; and courage under all our difficulties; and, above all, sets before us an exact and perfect pattern for our instruction and encouragement. So that thechristian revelation in itself, as well as theexternal evidence, proves its original to be from God. Hence consider the great guilt of those It demands who reject the christian revelation ; for they recur belief. fist the utmost evidence, that any religion is capable of receiving, both from its inward value, and from that outward attestation that God has been pleased to give it, by miracles and prophecies; and consequently, by this act of theirs, they condemn themselves, because they reject the only means of their salvation, though it is supported by all the faith of history, and uninterrupted records ; which is all the evidence in such circumstances, that can be presumed necessary, or can possibly be had: which, therefore, is suiticient to inspire us with the knowledge of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and with a thankful remembrance of all things they have done and promised to us, and an abhorrence of all that shall from scripture appear to be difpleasing to the Almighty. For,
II. When we in the firji Article of our Creed profess a belief in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven The chrifti.
and earth, we not only declare that we acknowan faith in ledge him to be the Lord, and that he has revealed
his will to us to guide us in the way of truth; but that he has reserved some things to himself, of which, as they regard not the creature, he hath made no revelation, as name
ly, the manner how there can be three persons in one God; how the divine and human nature could be united in one person, Christ Jesus; or how avirgin could conceiveand bear a son without the knowledge of a man. Therefore, when we say, I believe in one God, let it not be such a belief only as the heathens, or those who only follow the dictates of nature, have, who collect from the things that are seen the eternal power and godhead; butit must be thatchristian faith, which believes there are three distinct persons in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who is the one only living and true God; existing of himself, by the necessity of his own nature; absolutely independent, eternal, omnipresent, unchangeable, incorruptible; without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, knowledge, and wisdom; of perfect liberty and freedom of will; of infinite goodness, juftice, and truth, and all other possible perfections, so as to be absolutely felf-sufficient to his own infinite and unalterable happiness. And if so, it will certainly follow, that this fame supreme self-existent cause and Father of all things did, before all ages, in an incomprehensible manner, by his almighty power and will, beget or produce a divine person, styled the Word, or Wisdom, or Son of God; begotten, not made; God of God, in whom dwells the fulnels of divine perfections; the image of the invisible God, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person; having been in the beginning with God, partaker with him of his glory before the world was; the upholder of all things by the word of his power; and himself over all God blessed for ever. In like manner what has been said of the Son may with little variation be, very The Holy agreeably to right reason, understood concerning Gbift. the original procession, or manner of derivation of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son.
As we believe God to be one, so we believe him to be in such a manner one, that there cannot possibly be But one another; for all other things must derive their God. being from him, and whatsoever being has its existence from another, cannot be God, but must be a creature. And this unity of God is of universal obligation to le believed, that
we may be fixed as to theobject of our worship, and placeour religious adoration there only, where it is due: and also that we may give him that honour, which is due to him alone ; part whereof is, that we have no other gods but one; for this is the ground of all religion : him only must we serve, because he only is God: in him only must we trust, because he only is our rock: to him only must we direct our devotions, because he only knows the hearts of the children of men: him must we love with all our heart, because he only has infinite goodness, mercy, beauty, glory, and excellency. And,
III. The same reason that demands our believing one God Wly called obliges us to believe that one God to bethe Father: the Father. for unto us there is but one God the Father by creation; as also, in respect of his preservation, as a man is said to be the father of him whom he educates. Likewisein respect of redemption from a state of misery to a happy condition; for he is the true Father, whose word it is, even the Father of lights, who of his own will begat us with the word of truth. Thus whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, is God's workmanship, createdin Christ Jesus to goodworks. Finally, in respect of adoption; thusitis said, that he hath predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, and that we receive the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. Yet still there is a higher and more proper notion of God's paternity, in respect whereof he is the Father of Christ; by whom he is sometimes called the Father, sometimes my, sometimes your, but never our Father. Christ is the beloved, the first-born, the only-begotten, God's own Son; and we are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
The perpetual obligation for us to believe that God is our Father appears in that it is the ground of our filial love, fear, honour, and obedience ; gives life to our devotions, assurance to our petitions, being directed, in obedience to our Saviour's commands, to God as our Father ; sweetens our afflictions and his fatherly corrections: and the assurances of his love and pity to us infer the necessity of ourendeavouring to imitate him, to be holy as he is holy, inerciful as he is merciful, and perfect as he is perfect.
When we say that he is almighty, we profess God's absolute authority, in respect of making whatsoever Why called he pleaseth, in such manner as best pleaseth him- Almighty. self; in respect of possessing and governing all things fomade by him; which right is independent, as being received from none, and is the sole fountain of all such right in any other: infinite in respect of the object, as extending to all things in heaven and earth; and in respect of the fulness of it, as being absolute and supreme, far above what the potter hath over his clay; and in respect of its continuance, as being all-powerful and eternal. And we must believe this dominion to work in us an awful reverence of his majesty, and an intire subjection to his will; to breed in us patience under our sufferings; and to make us thankful for his mercies received, as knowing that they justly might have been denied us; we having no manner of right to claim them, as a debt from our Creator.
The whole world, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that are therein, were created and made by the fame God, and this, through the operation tion of the of his Son, that divine Word, or wisdom of the world. Father, by whom the scripture says, that God made the world, andallthings that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers ; all things were created by him and for him, and he is before all things and by him all things confift; and without him was not any thing made that was made ; all this likewise is very agreeable to sound and unprejudiced reason. For that neither the whole, nor any part of the world; neither the form, nor motion, nor matter of the world, could exist of itself, by any necessity in its own nature, can be sufficiently proved from undeniable principles of reason: consequently, both the whole world, and all the variety of things that now exist therein, must of necessity have received both their being itself, and also their form and manner of being, from God, the alone supreme and self-existent cause ; and must needs depend upon his good pleasure every moment, for the continuance and preservation of that being. Consequently, the learned of all ages have unani
mously agreed that the world evidently owes both its being and preservation to God. IV. And this all-wise and almighty Creator, who made
all things by the word of his power, and upholds
and preserves them by his continual help, does also by his all-wise providence perpetually govern and direct the issues andevents of all things; takes care of this lower world, and of all (even the smallest things) that are therein; disposes things in a regular order and succession in every age, from the beginning to the end of the world ; and inspects, with a more particular and special regard, the moral actions of men. But we must not expect, that God's particular providence will interpose, where our own endeavours are fufficient: for that would be to encourage floth and idleness, instead of countenancing and supporting virtue. Nor ought we to expect to be relieved from difficulties and distresses, into which our own mismanagement and criminal conduct have plunged us. But when without any fault of ours our affairs are lo perplexed and intangled, that human assistance will be of no avail; then we must have recourse to God, that he would give us wisdom to conduct us through all the labyrinths and intricacies of life; resolution to grapple with difficulties; and strength to overcome them. This, as it is far more expresly, clearly, and constantly taught in scripture, than in any of the writings of the most learned men ; so it is also highly agreeable to right and true reason. For that a being, which is always presentand infinitely wise, cannot but know every thing that is done in every part of the world, and with equal ease take noticeof the very leastthings as of the greateit; that an infinitely powerful being mult needs govern and direct every thing in such manner, and to such ends, as he knows to be best and fittest in the whole, so far as is consistent with that liberty of will, which he has given to all rational creatures ; and that an infinitely just and good governor cannot but take more particular and exact notice of the moral actions of all mankind, and how far they are conformable or not conformable to the rules he has fet them : all this (I fay) is most evidently agreeable to sound reason. So that what the vanity of science, falsely so called,