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OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE MYSTERIES OF SCRIPTURE.
§ 1. when we seek for any thing in the dark by so low a faculty of discerning as the sense of feeling, or by the sense of seeing with a dim light, sometimes we cannot find it; though it be there, it seems to us to be impossible that it should be. But yet, when a clear light comes to shine into the place, and we discern by a better faculty, or the same faculty in a clearer manner, the thing appears very plain to us. So, doubtless, many truths will hereafter appear plain, when we come to look on them by the bright light of heaven, that now are involved in mystery and darkness.
§ 2. How are we ready to trust to the determinations of one, universally reputed a man of great genius, of vast penetration and insight into things, if he be positive in any thing that appears to us very mysterious, and is quite contrary to what we thought ourselves clear and certain in before! How are we ready in such a case to suspect ourselves; especially if it be a matter wherein he has been very much versed; has had much more occasion to look into it than we; and has been under greater advantages to know the truth! How much more still, if one should be positive in it, as a thing he had clearly and undoubtedly seen to be true, if he were still of ten times greater genius, and of a more penetrating insight into things, than any that ever have appeared? And, in matters of fact, if some person whom we had long known, one of great judgment and discretion, justice, integrity, and fidelity, and had always been universally so reputed by others, should declare to us, that he had seen and known that to be true which appeared to us very strange and mysterious, and concerning which we could not see how it was possible; how, in such a case, should we be ready almost to suspect our own faculties, and to give credit to such a testimony, in that which, if he had not positively asserted it, and persisted in it, we should have looked upon as perfectly incredible, and absurd to be supposed!
§ 3. From that text, John iii. 12. “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” several things are manifest concerning mysteries in religion. (1.) That there are things contained in those doctrine which Christ came into the world to teach, which are not only so far above human comprehension, that men cannot easily apprehend all that is to be understood concerning them; but which are difficult to be received by the judgment or belief; “How shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things? 448448 John iii. 12. ” difficult, upon the same account that the doctrine of the new birth was difficult to Nicodemus, because it was so strange, and seemingly impossible. (2.) We may from the words infer, that the more persons are in themselves, and in their own nature, above us; the more the doctrine or truths concerning them are mysterious to us, above our comprehension, and difficult to our belief; the more do those things that are really true concerning them, contain seeming inconsistencies and impossibilities. For Christ, in the preceding verses, had been speaking of something that is true concerning man, being of the same nature, an inhabitant of the same world, with ourselves; which, therefore, Christ calls an earthly thing. And this seemed very mysterious and impossible, and to contain great seeming inconsistencies. “How can a man be born when he is old? 449449 John iii. 4. ” This seemed to be a contradiction. And after Christ had somewhat explained himself, still the doctrine seemed strange and impossible; ver. 9. “How can these things be?” Nicodemus still looked upon it as incredible, and, on that account, did not believe it at that time, as is implied in these words of Christ; “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not. 450450 John iii. 12. ” But Christ here plainly signifies, that he had other truths to teach that were not about man, an earthly inhabitant, but about a person vastly above men, even about himself who is from heaven, and in heaven, as in the next verse: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven; even the Son of man which is in heaven.” Which, therefore, it would be much more difficult to men’s understanding and judgment, seeming to contain greater impossibilities and inconsistencies; as he then proceeds immediately to declare him a heavenly thing, as he calls it, viz. that Christ, a heavenly and divine person should die; ver. 14, 15. Such a mysterious doctrine, so strange and seemingly inconsistent and impossible, that a divine person should die, is more strange than that men should be born again. Hence, when divines argue, from the mysterious nature of many things here below with which we are daily conversant, that it would be very unreasonable to suppose but that there should be things concerning God which are much more mysterious; and that, therefore, it is unreasonable to object against the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity, Incarnation, &c.; they argue justly, because they argue as Christ argued.
§ 4. The wiser heathens were sensible that the things of the gods are so high above us, that what appertains to them should appear exceedingly mysterious and wonderful to us; and that it is therefore unreasonable to disbelieve what we are taught concerning them on that account. This is fully expressed by Pythagoras; viz. “Concerning the gods, disbelieve nothing wonderful, nor yet concerning divine things. This, says Jamblicus, declareth the superlative excellency of God instructing us, and puts us in mind, that we ought not to estimate the divine power by our own judgment. The Pythagoreans stretched this rule beyond the line of divine revelation, to the belief of every oriental tradition.” Gale’s Court of the Gentiles, p. 2. b. 2. c. 8. 190.
§ 5. It is not necessary that persons should have clear ideas of the subject of a proposition, in order to be rationally convinced of the truth of the proposition. There are many truths, of which mathematicians are convinced by strict demonstration, concerning many kinds of quantities, as, surd quantities and fluxions; but concerning which they have no clear ideas.
§ 6. Supposing that mankind in general were a species of far less capacity than they are; so much less, that, when men are come to full ripeness of judgment and capacity, they arrived no higher than that degree to which children generally arrive at seven years of age; and supposing a revelation to be made to mankind, in such a state and degree of capacity, of many such propositions in philosophy as are now looked upon as undoubted truths; and let us suppose, at the same time, the same degree of pride and self-confidence as there is now; what cavilling and objecting would there be! Or, supposing a revelation of these philosophical truths had been made to mankind, with their present degree of natural capacity, in some ancient generation suppose that which was in Joshua’s time in that degree of acquired knowledge and learning which the world had arrived at then, how incredible would those truths have seemed!
§ 7. If things, which fact and experience make certain, such as the miseries infants are sometimes the subjects of in this world, had been exhibited only in a revelation of things in an unseen state, they would be as much disputed as the Trinity and other mysteries revealed in the Bible.
§ 8. There is nothing impossible or absurd in the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ. If God can join a body and a rational soul together, which are of natures so heterogeneous and opposite, that they cannot, of themselves, act one upon another; may he not be able to join two spirits together, which are of natures more similar? And, if so, he may, for ought we know to the contrary, join the soul or spirit of a man to himself. Had reason been so clear in it, that God cannot be incarnate, as many pretend, it could never have such a notion to gain ground and possess the minds of so many nations: nay, and of Julian himself, who says, that “Jupiter begat Esculapius out of his own proper substance, and sent him down to Epidaurus, to heal the distempers of mankind.” Reason did not hinder Spinosa, Blount, and many other modern philosophers, from asserting that God may have a body; or rather, that the universe, or the matter of the universe, is God. Many nations believed the incarnation of Jupiter himself. Reason, instead of being utterly averse to the notion of a divine incarnation, hath easily enough admitted that notion, and suffered it to pass, almost without contradiction, among the most philosophical nations of the world.
§ 9. “In thinking of God’s raising so many myriads of spirits, and such prodigious masses of matter, out of nothing, we are lost and astonished, as much as in the contemplation of the Trinity. We can follow God but one or two steps in his lowest and plainest works, till all becomes mystery and matter of amazement to us. How, then, shall we comprehend himself? How shall we understand his nature, or account for his actions? In that he contains what is infinitely more inconceivable than all the wonders of his creation put together.” Deism Revealed, edit. 2. vol. ii. p. 93, 94.
Those who deny the Trinity, because of its mysteriousness and seeming inconsistence, yet, generally, own God’s certain prescience of men’s free actions, which they suppose to be free in such a sense, as not to be necessary. So that we may do, or may not do, that which God certainly foresees. “They also hold, that such a freedom without necessity, is necessary to morality; and that virtue and goodness consists in any one’s doing good when he might do evil. And yet they suppose, that God acts by the eternal law of nature and reason, and that it is impossible that he should transgress that law, and do evil; because that would be a contradiction to his own nature, which is infinitely and unchangeably virtuous. Now this seems a flat contradiction. To say that the infinite goodness of God’s nature makes it utterly impossible for God to do evil, is exactly the same as to say, he is under a natural necessity not to do evil. And to say he is morally free, is to say he may do evil. Therefore the necessity and freedom in this case being both moral, the contradiction is flat and plain; and amounts to this, that God, in respect to good and evil actions, is both a necessary and free agent. Dr. Clark, in his treatise on the Attributes, labours to get clear of this contradiction upon these principles of liberty, but without success; and leaves it just where all men, who hold the same principles, must be forced to leave it. Therefore, they hold such mysteries, in respect to Deity, that are even harder to be conceived of, or properly expressed and explained, than the doctrine of the Trinity.
“When we talk of God, who is infinite and incomprehensible, it is natural to run into notions and terms which it is impossible for us to reconcile. And in lower matters, that are more within our knowledge and comprehension, we shall not be able to keep ourselves clear of them. To say that a curve line, setting out from a point within a hair’s breadth of a right line, shall run towards that right line as swift as thought, and yet never be able to touch it, seems contrary to common sense; and were it not clearly demonstrated in the conchoid of Nicomedes, could never be believed. Matter is infinitely divisible; and therefore, a cubical inch of gold may be divided into an infinity of parts; and there can be no number greater than that which contains an infinity. Yet another cubical inch of gold may be infinitely divided also; and therefore, the parts of both cubes must be more numerous than the parts of one only. Here is a palpable contrariety of ideas, and a flat contradiction of terms. We are confounded and lost in the consideration of infinites; and surely, most of all, in the consideration of that Infinite of infinites. We justly admire that saying of the philosopher, that God is a Being whose centre is every where, and circumference nowhere, as one of the noblest and most exalted flights of human understanding; and yet, not only the terms are absurd and contradictory, but the very ideas that constitute it, when considered attentively, are repugnant to one another. Space and duration are mysterious abysses, in which our thoughts are confounded with demonstrable propositions, to all sense and reason flatly contradictory to one another. Any two points of time, though never so distant, are exactly in the middle of eternity. The remotest points of space that can be imagined or supposed, are each of them precisely in the centre of infinite space.” Deism Revealed, vol. ii. p. 109-111.
Here might have been added the mysteries of God’s eternal duration, it being without succession, present, before and after, all at once: Vitæ interminabilis tota simul et perfecta possessio.
§ 10. To reject every thing but what we can first see to be agreeable to our reason, tends, by degrees, to bring every thing relating not only to revealed religion, but even to natural religion, into doubt; to make all its doctrine appear with dim evidence, like a shadow, or the ideas of a dream, till they are all neglected as worthy of no regard. It tends to make men doubt of the several attributes of God, and so, in every respect, to doubt what kind of being God is; and to make men doubt about the forgiveness of sin, and about the duties of religion, prayer and giving thanks, social worship, &c. It will tend, at last, to make men esteem the science of religion as of no value, and so totally neglect it; and from step to step it will lead to scepticism, atheism, and at length to barbarity.
§ 11. Concerning common sense, it is to be observed, that common inclination, or the common dictates of inclination, are often called common sense. When any thing is shocking to the common dispositions or inclinations of men, that is called a contradicting of common sense. So, the doctrine of the extreme and everlasting torments of hell, being contrary to men’s common folly and stupidity, is often called contrary to common sense. Men, through stupidity, are insensible of the great evil of sin; and so the punishment of sin threatened in the word of God disagrees with this insensibility, and it is said to be contradictory to common sense. In this case, that turn of mind which arises from a wicked disposition, goes for common sense.
“We ought never to deny, because we cannot conceive. If this were not so, then a man born blind would reason right, when he forms this syllogism, ‘We know the figure of bodies only by handling them; but it is impossible to handle them at a great distance; therefore, it is impossible to know the figure of far distant bodies.’ To undeceive the blind man, we may prove to him that this is so, from the concurrent testimony of all who surround him. But we can never make him perceive how this is so. It is therefore a fundamental maxim in all true philosophy, that many things may be incomprehensible, and yet demonstrable; that though seeing clearly be a sufficient reason for affirming, yet, not seeing at all, can never be a reason for denying.” Ramsay’s Philosophical Principles of Religion, vol. i. p. 22, 23.
§ 12. One method used to explode every thing in religion that is in the least difficult to the understanding, is to ridicule all distinctions in religion. The unreasonableness of this may appear from what Mr. Locke observes concerning discerning and judgment. Hum. Underst. book ii. chap. 2. “Accurately discriminating ideas one from another, is of that consequence to the other knowledge of the mind, that, so far as this faculty is in itself dull, or not rightly made use of, for distinguishing one thing from another, so far our notions are confused, and our reason and judgment disturbed or misled. If in having ideas in the memory ready at hand, consists quickness of parts; in this, of having them unconfused, and being able nicely to distinguish one thing from another, where there is but the least difference, consists in a great measure the exactness of judgment, and clearness of reason, which is to be observed in one man above another. Judgment lies in separating carefully one from another ideas wherein can be found the least difference, thereby to avoid being misled by similitude, and by affinity to take one thing for another.”
So Dr. Turnbull, in his Principles of Moral Philosophy, part i. chap. 3. p. 94. “Judgment is rightly said to lie in nicely distinguishing the disagreements and variances or differences of ideas; those especially which lie more remote from common observation, and are not generally adverted to. The man of judgment or discretion (for so discretion properly signifies) may be defined to be one who has a particular aptitude to descry differences of all kinds between objects, even the most hidden and remote from vulgar eyes.”
§ 13. If any respect to the Divine Being is of importance, then speculative points are of importance; for the only way whereby we know what he is, is by speculation. If our doctrine concerning him are not right, it will not be that Being, but some other, that we have respect for. So it may be said concerning our respect for Christ. If our doctrine concerning him, concerning his divinity, for instance, are false, we have not respect for the Christ of whom the Scriptures speak, but for an imaginary person, infinitely diverse. When it is said by some, that the only fundamental article of faith is, that Jesus is the Messiah; if thereby be meant, that a person called by that name, or that lived at such a time or place, was the Messiah, that name not implying any properties or qualities of his person, the doctrine is exceedingly unreasonable; for surely the name and the place are not of so great importance as some other things essential in his person, and have not so great concern in the identity of the object of our ideas and respect, as the person the gospel reveals. It is one great reason why speculative points are thought to be of so little importance, that the modern religion consists so little in respect to the Divine Being, and almost wholly in benevolence to men.
§ 14. Concerning what is often said by some, that all things necessary to salvation are plain and clear, let us consider how, and in what sense, this is true, and in what sense it is not true. 1st, It is true, that all things necessary to salvation are clearly and plainly revealed. But it does not follow, that they shall appear to be plainly revealed to all men No divine thing can have evidence sufficient to appear evident to all men, however great their prejudices, and however perverse their dispositions. 2dly, If thereby is meant, that all things necessary to be believed are easily comprehended, there is no reason in such an assertion, nor is it true.
Some late writers insist, that, for a thing to be revealed, and yet remain mysterious, is a contradiction; that it is as much as to say, a thing is revealed, and yet hid. I answer: The thing revealed is the truth of the doctrine; so that the truth of it no longer remains hid, though many things concerning the manner may be so. Yet many things concerning the nature of the things revealed may be clear, though many other things concerning their nature may remain hid. God requires us to understand no more than is intelligibly revealed. That which is not distinctly revealed, we are not required distinctly to understand. It may be necessary for us to know a thing in part, and yet not necessary to know it perfectly.
§ 15. The importance of all Christian doctrine whatsoever, will naturally be denied, in consequence of denying that one great doctrine of the necessity of Christ’s satisfaction to divine justice, and maintaining those doctrine that establish men’s own righteousness, as that on which, and for which, they are accepted of God. For that great christian doctrine of Christ’s satisfaction, his vicarious sufferings and righteousness, by which he offered an infinite price to God for our pardon and acceptance to eternal favour and happiness, is that to which all evangelical doctrine, all doctrine beside the truths of natural religion, have relation; and they are of little importance, comparatively, any other way, than as they have respect to that. This is, as it were, the centre and hinge of all doctrine of pure revelation.
§ 16. Indeed, the papists, who are very far from having such a notion of that evangelical faith, which is the special condition of salvation in opposition to works, and have forsaken the evangelical notion of true saving religion, yet with fiery zeal, insist on the profession of a great number of doctrine, and several of the doctrine of pure revelation, as the Trinity, &c. But this in them flows not from any regard to their influence in internal saving religion, but from quite another view, i. e. to uphold their tyranny. These are the doctrine which have been handed down among them by their church from ancient tradition; and, to maintain the credit of the infallibility, and divine authority and dominion, of their hierarchy over men’s faith, they must be zealous against any that presume to deny Christ’s doctrine, because they look upon it as an infringement on the high authority they claim. And some protestants have a zeal for doctrine from like views; doctrine indeed for which they have no great value, in themselves considered.
§ 17. That it is not alone sufficient to believe this one article, that a person of the name of Jesus came from God to reveal his will to man, without knowing or determining what he was, or concerning his nature and qualities, is evident from this, that it is often spoken of as necessary to know Christ. It is said, “This is eternal life, to know thee, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. 451451 John xvii. 3. ”
§ 18. There are two things especially that make modern fashionable divines look on doctrine of revealed religion of little importance. One is, their mistake about the conditions of salvation; another is, their mistake about the nature of true virtue, placing it chiefly, and most essentially, in benevolence to men, and so little in respect to God and Christ. If Christian virtue consists very much in a proper respect to Christ, then certainly it is of great importance to know what sort of person he is, at least, as to that particular wherein his excellency or worthiness of regard consists, which is surely his divinity, if he be a divine person. Another thing on which a proper respect to him depends, is his relation to us, and our dependence upon him; which surely chiefly depends on his satisfaction and merits for us, if he has satisfied and merited for us. The reasons or grounds of the love and honour to Christ required of us, consist chiefly in two things: (1.) In what he is: and, (2.) In what he has done for us. Therefore, with regard to the latter, it concerns us greatly to know, at least as to the principal things, what they are. And if he has satisfied for our sins; if he has suffered in our stead; if he has truly purchased eternal life and happiness for us; if he has redeemed us from an extremely sinful, miserable, helpless state, a state wherein we deserved no mercy, but eternal misery; then these are principal things.
Another reason why doctrine are thought to be of little importance, is a notion of sincerity wherein true virtue consists, as what may be prior to any means of it that God grants; as if it was what every man had in his power, antecedently to all means; and so the means are looked upon as of little importance. But the absurdity of this may be easily manifested. If it be independent of all means, then it may be independent of natural information, or of the truths of the light of nature, as well as of revealed religion; and men may sincerely regard and honour they know not what. The truths of natural religion, wherein Christians differ from the most ignorant, brutish idolaters, the most savage and cruel of the heathen nations, may be of little importance. And the reason why they have this notion of sincerity antecedent to means, and so independent on means, is, that they have a notion that sincerity is independent on God, any otherwise than as they depend on him for their creation. They conceive it to be independent on his sovereign will and pleasure. If they were sensible that they depend on God to give it according to his pleasure, it would be easy and natural to acknowledge, that God gives it in his own way, and by his own means.
§ 19. If any article of faith at all concerning Jesus Christ be of importance, it must be of importance to know or believe something concerning his person; what sort of a person or being he was. And if any thing concerning him be of importance to be known and believed, it must be something wherein his excellency or worthiness of regard consists; for nothing can be of importance to be known or believed about him, but in order to some regard or respect of heart. But most certainly, if any thing of his excellency and dignity be of importance to be known or believed, it must be of importance at least to know so much about him, as to know whether he be God or a mere creature; for herein lies the greatest difference, as to dignity, that can possibly be. This difference is infinite. If it be of importance to know how worthy he is, then it doubtless is of importance that we should not be ignorant of, and deny, as it were, all his dignity, or so much of it, that what remains shall be absolutely as nothing to that which is denied. It is of importance that we love Christ, or have respect to him as one that is excellent, and worthy of esteem and love. The apostle says, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha. 452452 1 Cor. xvi. 22. ” And doubtless, true love to Christ is in some respect suitable to the worthiness and excellency of his person. Therefore it is of importance to believe, and not to deny, those doctrine which exhibit his worthiness. It is of importance that we do not in effect deny the whole of his worthiness.
§ 20. How many things were believed by the ancient philosophers about divine matters, even the most rational of them, more mysterious than the doctrine of the Trinity, chiefly because such things were handed to them by the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Chaldeans, or Persians, or on the authority of some great master! Yet these things were imbibed without much difficulty, the incomprehensibleness of the doctrine being no objection to their receiving them.
§ 21. There are things evidently true concerning the nature of our own souls, that seem strange paradoxes, and are seeming contradictions; as that our souls are in no place, and yet have a being; or, if they are supposed to be in a place, that yet they are not confined to place, and limited to certain space; or, if they be, that they are not of a certain figure; or, if they are figurative, that their properties, faculties, and acts, should or should not be so too.
§ 22. If many things we all see and know of the mortality of mankind, the extreme sufferings of infants, and other things innumerable in the state of the world of mankind, were only matter of doctrine which we had no notice of any other way than by revelation, and not by fact and experience; have we not reason to think, from what we see of the temper of this age, that they would be exceedingly quarrelled with, objected mightily against, as inconsistent with God’s moral perfections, not tending to amiable ideas of the Godhead, &c.?
§ 23. The definition of a mystery, according to Stapferus, Theol. Polem. p. 263, and 858. is this: A mystery is a religious doctrine, which must be made known by immediate revelation, and cannot be known and demonstrated from the principles of reason, but is above reason, and which in this whole universe has nothing like itself, but differs from all those truths which we discover in this system of the world. (Ibid. p. 859.) It appears from this definition, that whatever is known by divine revelation, and is not certain from the principles of reason, is a mystery; otherwise it could not be said to be revealed. Mysteries are the first things which we conceive concerning revelation; for no revelation can be conceived without mysteries, and therefore they constitute the sum and essence of revelation.
§ 24. It is to be observed, that we ought to distinguish between those things which were written in the sacred books by the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and those which were only committed to writing by the direction of the Holy Spirit. To the former class belong all the mysteries of salvation, or all those things which respect the means of our deliverance taught in the gospel, which could not be known from the principles of reason, and therefore must be revealed. But to the other class those things belong, which either are already known from natural religion, but are of service to inculcate duty on man, and to demonstrate the necessity of revealed means of salvation; or are histories, useful to illustrate and to assure us of the doctrine revealed, and which point out the various degrees of revelation, the different dispensations of salvation, and the various modes of governing the church of God; all which are necessary to be known in the further explanation of mysteries.
§ 25. Mysteries constitute the criterion of divine revelation: so absurdly do they act, who allow a revelation, and deny mysteries; or deny revelation for this reason, that it contains mysteries. What the sum and essence of revealed religion are, is plain from the end of it, which is to point out to sinful man the means of obtaining salvation, and of recovering the divine favour. But this is, that Jesus Christ is the only and most perfect cause of salvation, to be received by a true faith. This doctrine, however, is a mystery of godliness manifestly great; 1 Tim. iii. 16. And thus that great mystery constitutes the sum and essence of revelation. The essence of revealed religion consists in this, that men by a true faith receive this doctrine, which the apostle calls a mystery manifestly great. Therefore, the knowledge of the greatest mystery belongs to the very essence of the religion of a sinner. How absurd do many of the doctrine of mathematicians and astronomers appear to ignorant men, when they cannot see the reason of those doctrine, although they are most true and evident, so that not the least doubt concerning them can remain in the mind of a thorough mathematician! (Ibid. tom. iii. p. 560.)
§ 26. Since, in religion, there are some primary truths, and others more remote, which are deduced from the former by reasoning, and so are secondary and these last may not be known, though the primary are known, but when once they are known they cannot be denied it follows, that those articles which constitute religion, and so are fundamental, are to be distinguished into primary and secondary. The primary are those of which a man cannot be ignorant, consistently with true religion and his own salvation; and they are necessary with a necessity of means. The secondary are those of which a man may be ignorant, consistently with his resting upon the foundation of true religion, and with his own salvation; and those are necessary with a necessity of command. Therefore, to the same man, certain doctrine may be now fundamental, which were not fundamental to him before he knew them. (Ibid. tom. i. p. 524, 525.)
Joh. Chr. Kirchmejerus, in his Dissert. concerning fundamental articles, says, “They may be either reduced to fewer, or extended to more; as often one article may include the rest, and so all may be reduced to that one; and, on the other hand, that one, according to the various truths contained in it, may be divided into several. Therefore, authors do not contradict themselves, who reduce all fundamental articles to one; for they cannot well be determined by their number; because as many fundamental truths are contained in one fundamental truth, as there are essential properties belonging to the truths thus contained. Therefore the Holy Scripture often sums up all fundamental articles in one, as in John xvii. 3. ‘This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.’ Sometimes it distinguishes them into several; as in 1 Tim. i. 5. ‘Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.’ ” (Ibid. tom. i. p. 528.)
§ 27. On account of the various degrees of men’s capacities, and the various circumstances of the times in which they live, one man may know truths which another cannot know. Whence it follows, that the very same articles are not fundamental to all men; but accordingly as revelation hath been more or less complete, according to the several dispensations under which men have lived, their various natural abilities, and their various modes and circumstances of living, different articles are, and have been, fundamental to different men. This is very plain from the different degrees of knowledge before and since the coming of Christ; for before his coming, many truths lay hid, which are now set in the most clear light: and the instance of the apostles, abundantly shows the truth of what I have now advanced; who, although they were already in a state of grace, and their salvation was secured, yet for some time were ignorant of the necessity of the sufferings and death of Christ, and of the true nature of his kingdom. Whereas, he who now does not acknowledge the necessity of Christ’s death, is by all means to be considered as in fundamental error. Therefore, as a man hath received of God greater or less natural abilities, so let the number of articles to which he shall give his assent be greater or smaller; and as revelation hath been made, or information hath been given, to a man, more clearly or obscurely, in the same proportion is more or less required of him. Therefore, in our own case, we ought to be cautious of even the smallest errors, and to aim at the highest degree of knowledge in divine truths. In the case of others, we ought to judge concerning them with the greatest prudence, mildness, and benevolence. Hence we see, that a certain precise number of articles, which shall be necessary and fundamental to every man, cannot be determined. (Ibid. p. 531.)
OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST AND THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY.
§ 1. If the temptation to the children of Israel was so great, to idolize the brazen serpent, a lifeless piece of brass, for the temporal salvation which some of their forefathers had by looking on it; how great would be their temptation to idolatry by worshipping Christ, if he were a mere creature, from whom mankind receive so great benefits! If that brazen serpent must be broken in pieces, to remove the temptation to idolatry, 2 Kings xviii. 4. shall so great a temptation be laid before the world to idolize a mere creature, by setting him forth in the manner that he is set forth in Scripture?
§ 2. Must Moses’s body be concealed, lest the children of Israel should worship the remains of him whom God made the instrument of such great things? And shall another mere creature whom men, on account of the works he has done, are under infinitely greater temptation to worship be most openly and publicly exhibited, as exalted to heaven, seated at God’s own right hand, made Head over all things, Ruler of the universe, &c. in the manner that Christ is? Was not this the temptation to all nations to idolatry, viz. That men had been distinguished as great conquerors, deliverers, and the instruments of great benefit? And shall God make a mere creature the instrument of so many greater benefits, and in such a manner as Christ is represented to be in the Scripture, without an infinitely greater temptation to idolatry?
§ 3. When the rich young man called Christ Good Master, not supposing him to be God, did Christ reject it, and reprove him for calling him so? He said, “There is none good but one, that is God; 453453 Matt. xix. 17. ” meaning, that none other was possessed of goodness that was to be trusted. And yet, shall this same Jesus, if indeed not that God who only is to be called good, or trusted in as such, be called in Scripture, He that is holy; He that is true? the Amen, the faithful and true Witness? the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace? the blessed and the only Potentate; the King of kings, and Lord of lords? the Lord of life, that has life in himself, that all men might honour the Son, as they honour the Father? the Wisdom of God, and the Power of God? the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end? God, Jehovah; Elohim, the King of glory? Compare Isa. xlii. 8. Ps. lxxvii. 18. Isa. xlv. 20, 21,. &c. “They pray unto a God that cannot save Tell ye and bring them near; let them take counsel together There is no God else beside me, a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.” Yet it is said of Christ, that “He is able to save unto the uttermost. 454454 Heb. vii. 25. ” Yea, the Messiah, in this very book, is spoken of as mighty to save; saving by his own arm, and by the greatness of his strength, Isa. lxiii. 1-6. compared with Rev. xiv. 15. And it is evident, that it is his character, in the most eminent manner, to be the Saviour of God’s people; and that with respect to what is infinitely the highest and greatest work of salvation; the greatest deliverance from the most dreadful evil, from the greatest, worst, and strongest enemies, and bringing them to the greatest happiness. It follows, Isa. xlv. 22.“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” Here it is spoken of as the great glory of God, and peculiar to him, that he is a universal Saviour, not only of the Jews, but of all nations. And this is the peculiar character of Jesus. He is the Saviour of all nations. The glory of calling and saving the Gentiles, is represented as peculiarly belonging to him; so that he has this divine prerogative, which is spoken of here as belonging to the one only God, and to none else. And, which is more than, all this, these very things are applied to Christ in the New Testament, Philip. ii. 10, 11. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, of things in earth, and things under the earth.” And the thing spoken of in the following verses, as the peculiar prerogative of God, in distinction from all other beings, as the only Saviour, viz. having righteousness, and being justified in him, are every where in the New Testament most eminently ascribed to Christ, as in a most special manner belonging to him.
§ 4. Being the Saviour of God’s people, is every where in the Old Testament mentioned as the peculiar work of the Deity. The heathens are reproached for worshipping gods that could not save; and God says to the idolatrous Israelites, “Go to the gods whom ye have served, let them deliver you.” See Isa. xliii. 3, 10 15. in which verses we have another clear demonstration of the divinity of Christ. 455455 See also Hos. viii. 4. See also Isa. xlix. 26. and Deut. xxxiii. 29. Jer iii. 23. Jonah ii. 8, 9. Psalm iii. 8. Isa. xxv. 9. Trusting is abundantly represented as a principal thing in that peculiar respect due to God alone, as of the essence of divine adoration due to no other than God. And yet, how is Christ represented as the peculiar object of the faith and trust of all God’s people, of all nations, as having all-sufficiency for them? Trusting in any other is greatly condemned; is a thing, than which nothing is represented as more dangerous, provoking to God, and bringing his curse on man.
§ 5. And how often is being the Redeemer of God’s people spoken of as the peculiar character of the mighty God of Jacob, the First and Last, the Lord of hosts, the only God, the Holy One of Israel! (So Isa. xli. 14. xliii. 14. xliv. 6, 24. xlvii. 4. xlviii. 17. xlix. 7, 26. liv. 5. and lx. 16.) And it may be observed, that when God has this title of the Redeemer of Israel ascribed to him in those places, it is joined with some other of the peculiar and most exalted names and titles of the most high God: such as, the Holy One of Israel; (so Isa. xli. 14. xliii. 14. xlvii. 4. xlviii. 17. and xlix. 7.) The Mighty One of Jacob, (chap. xlix. 26. and lx. 16.) The Lord of hosts, (Isa. xlvii. 4. and xliv. 6.) The God of the whole earth, (chap. liv. 5.) The First and the Last, besides whom there is no God, (xliv. 6.) The Jehovah that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, and spreadeth abroad the earth by himself, (ver. 34.) Yet the Messiah, in this very book, is spoken of as the Redeemer of God’s people in the most eminent manner, (chap. lxiii. 1-6.)
§ 6. God is careful that his people should understand, that their honour and love and praise for the redemption out of Egypt, belongs only to him, and therefore is careful to inform them, that he alone redeemed them out of Egypt, and that there was no other God with him; and to make use of that as a principal argument why they should have no other gods before him. (See Deut. xxxii. 12. Exod. xx. 3. Psal. lxxxi. 8, 9, 10. Hos. xiii. 4.) The words in that place are remarkable: “Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt; and thou shalt know no God but me; for there is no Saviour besides me. 456456 Hosea xiii. 4 ” If God insisted on that as a good reason why his people should know no God besides him, that he alone was their Saviour to save them out of Egypt; would he afterwards appoint another to be their Saviour in an infinitely greater salvation?
§ 7. The works of creation being ascribed to Christ, most evidently prove his proper divinity. For God declares, that he is Jehovah that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, and spreadeth abroad the earth by himself, Isa. xliv. 24. (See also the next chapter, xlv. 5-7, 12.) And not only is the creation of the world ascribed to Christ often in Scripture, but that which in Isa. is called the new creation, which is here represented as an immensely greater and more glorious work than the old creation, viz. the work of redemption, as this prophet himself explains it, (Isa. lxv. 17, 18, 19.) is every where, in a most peculiar and distinguishing manner, ascribed to Christ. 2 Peter i. 1. “Through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:” GREEK. Tit. ii. 13. “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” GREEK. It is agreeable to the manner of the apostle’s expressing himself in both places, to intend one and the same person, viz. Christ, under two titles: as when speaking of God the Father, in Eph. i. 3. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” GREEK. See Dr. Goodwin’s Works, vol. i. p. 93,94.
§ 8. That passage in Isa. xl. 13, 14. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord?” proves Christ’s divinity; for Christ directs the Spirit of the Lord. See John xvi. 13-15. and many other places. Compare the following texts, set in opposite columns: those in the first column are represented as belonging to God only, which yet, in the second column, are given to Christ.
The name GOD.
scripRef passage=” Isa. xliv. 8.”> xliv. 8.
The name JEHOVAH.
Psalm cii. 25,. &c.
Prov. viii. 22,. &c.
§ 9. If Christ in the beginning created the heavens and the earth, he must be from eternity; for then he is before the beginning, by which must be meant, the beginning of time; the beginning of that kind of duration which has beginning and following, before and after, belonging to it. The beginning of created existence, or, the beginning of the creation which God created, as the phrase is, Mark iii. 19. In Proverbs viii. 22. it is said, “The Lord possessed me before his works of old;’’ and therefore before those works which in Genesis i. 1. are said to be made in the beginning. God’s eternity is expressed thus, Psalm xc. 2. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst created the earth and the world, even from everlasting.” So it is said, Prov. viii. 22,. &c. “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was,” &c.
§ 10. That the kingdom of the Messiah is so commonly called the kingdom of heaven, is an evidence that the Messiah is God. By the kingdom of heaven is plainly meant a kingdom wherein God doth reign, or is King. The phrase, the kingdom of heaven, seems to be principally taken from Dan. ii. 14. “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom;” where the meaning plainly is, after the heads of those four great monarchies have each one had their turn, and erected kingdoms for themselves in their turn, and the last monarchy shall be divided among ten kings; finally, the God of heaven shall take the dominion from them all, and shall set up a kingdom for himself. He shall take the kingdom, and shall rule for ever. In this book, chap. iv. 26. it is said, “After that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.” The words in the foregoing verse express what is meant: “Until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.” Therefore, by the kingdom of heaven which shall be set up, is meant the kingdom wherein God himself shall be the king; not as reigning and administering by other kings or judges, as he was king in the time of the judges, and in the time of David and Solomon, Hezekiah and Josiah, &c. and as he always doth in the time of good kings: but he shall set up his kingdom, in distinction from all kingdoms or states, wherein the heavens shall rule, or God himself shall be king. And therefore the kingdom of heaven is often called the kingdom of God, in the New Testament. And it is abundantly prophesied in the Old Testament, that in the days of the Messiah, God shall take to himself the kingdom, and shall reign as king, in contradistinction to other reigning subordinate beings. And that God himself shall reign on earth, as king among his people, is abundantly manifested from many prophecies. 458458 See Psalm xciii. 1. xcvi.10. xcvii. at the beginning, and xciv. 1. Isa. xxxiii. 22. Isa. xl. 9, 10, 11. Zeph. iii. 14, 15. Mal. iii. 1, 2, 3. And in this very prophecy of Daniel, chap. vii. where this kingdom, which the Lord of heaven should at last set up, (plainly this same kingdom,) is more fully spoken of, it is manifest, that the Messiah is to be the king in that kingdom, who shall reign as vested with full power, and complete kingly authority. 459459 See also Dan. ix. 25. Gen. xlix. Psalms ii. cx. lxxxix. and xlv. Isa. ix. and Zech. vi. Jer. xxiii. 5. xxx. 9. and xxxiii 15. Ezek. xxxiv. 23. and xxxvii. 24. Hos. iii. 5. Zech. vi. 12, &c. and in many other places.
§11. God is several times called in Scripture, the Glory of Israel, or of God’s people; and it is a title peculiar to him, wherein he appears as especially distinguished from false gods, Jer. ii. 11. “Hath a nation changed their gods, which yet are no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” Psal. cvi. 20. “Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.” But we find that Christ in the New Testament is spoken of as “the glory of God’s people Israel. Luke ii. 23.
§ 12. What is said in Job xix. 25-27. “For I know that my Redeemer liveth,” &c. is a proof of the divinity of Christ. For here, he whom Job calls his Redeemer, his God, is God; ” Yet in my flesh shall I see God.” But it is very manifest, that Christ is he who is most properly and eminently our Redeemer or God: And here Job says, that God shall stand at the latter day, at the general resurrection, on the earth; when he shall see him in his flesh. But the person that shall then stand on the earth, we know, is no other than Jesus Christ. And how often, in other places, both in the Old Testament and the New, is Christ’s coming to.judgment spoken of as God’s coming to judgment! Christ’s appearing, as God’s appearing! and our standing before the judgment-seat of Christ, as our standing before God’s judgment-seat!
§ 13. Luke i. 16, 17. “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God; and he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of fathers to the children, and of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Here John the Baptist is spoken of as going before the Lord, the God of the children of Israel, to prepare his way; agreeably to the prophecies; particularly Mal. iii. 1. and iv. 5, 6. But who is this person who is called the Lord, the God of Israel, whose forerunner, John the Baptist, is to prepare his way? Nothing is more manifest, than that it is Jesus Christ. See Mark i. 1-3. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God: as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,” (alluding to two prophecies, viz. Mal. iii. 1. and Isa. xl. 3.) Here is a distinction of two persons; the one speaking in the first person singular, ” Behold, I send my messenger;” the other spoken to in the second person, “before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee;” which makes it evident that the person spoken of, and whose forerunner he was to prepare his way, was Jesus Christ. So Matt. xi. 10. Luke vii. 27. See also how manifest this is by John i. 19. “And this is the record of John.” Verse 23. ” I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias;” with the following verses, especially ver. 31. “And I know him not, but that he should be made manifest to Israel: therefore am I come baptizing with water.” So that it is evident, that Christ is he that in the 1st of Luke is called the Lord, or, Jehovah the God of Israel, as the phrase is in the original of the Old Testament, in places from whence this phrase is taken. Therefore it is evident, that Christ is one God with the Father; for the Scripture is very express, that Jehovah, the God of Israel, is but one Jehovah; as, Deut. vi. 4. “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.”
§ 14. And if we look into those prophecies of the Old Testament referred to in these places of the evangelists, it is manifest, that what they foretell concerns a forerunner to prepare the way for the only true and supreme God; as, Isa. xl. 3. “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah; make straight in the desert a high way for our God.” This is evidently the same that is spoken of in the following parts of the chapter; as in verse 9,. and following verses.: “Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God; behold, Jehovah God will come. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd. Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or, being his counsellor, hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment? Behold, the nations are as a drop of the bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance. Behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering. All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” Ver. 22. “It is he that sitteth on the circle of the earth, and all the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in; that bringeth the princes to nothing, and maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.” If the supreme God is not spoken of here, where shall we find the place where he is spoken of? If it be an infinitely inferior being, where is God’s distinguishing greatness, and infinitely superior magnificence? It here follows, ver. 25. “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.” A created being would not use such language, or make such a challenge. He that is created himself, would not say, as it follows in the next verse, Lift up your eyes on high; behold, who hath created those things?” So it is evident, that it is the one only God that is spoken of, whose forerunner John was to be. Mal. iii. 1. “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before ME. And Jehovah, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come into his temple.” Luke i. 76. “And thou, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest, Greek; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare his way.”
§ 15. It is a great evidence that Christ is one being with the supreme God, that the Spirit of the supreme God is spoken of as his Spirit, proceeding from and sent and directed by him. The Spirit by whom the prophets of old were inspired, is spoken of as the Spirit of Christ: 1 Pet. i. 11. “Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify; when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” But it is very manifest, that this was the Spirit of the one only living and true God; so that we must needs understand, that the word written by the prophets, is the word of the supreme God. See 2 Pet. i. 21. 2 Tim. iii. 16. And that they spoke by inspiration of the Spirit of the supreme God, is manifest from Luke i. 69, 70. “And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us, in the house of his servant David; as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” The word Spirit, in the original languages, signifies wind, and sometimes is used to signify breath. Therefore, Christ breathed on his disciples, when he would signify to them that he would give them the Holy Ghost: John xx. 22. “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” This plainly teaches us that the Holy Ghost was his Spirit, as much as man’s breath is his breath.
Again, it is evident, that the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, as much as a person’s eyes are his own eyes. Rev. v. 6. “And I beheld, and lo in the midst of the throne stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” Alluding to Zech. iii. 9. “Upon one stone shall be seven eyes.” But these seven eyes, in the next chapter, are spoken of as representing the Spirit of God, and the eyes of Jehovah: chap. iv. 6. “Not by might nor power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.” Ver. 10. “And shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel, with those seven. They are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro though the whole earth.”
Christ is spoken of as sending the Holy Ghost, and directing him: John xvi. 7. “I will send him unto you.” Ver. 13, 14, 15. “Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth, for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he shall show you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.” But it is spoken of as the peculiar prerogative of God to direct his Spirit. Isa. xl. 13. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord?” 460460 See § 8.
§ 16. It is true, that creatures are sometimes called god. The kings and judges of God’s Israel, the ancient church, are called gods; but no otherwise than as types of Christ. And the angels are called gods. Yet it is very remarkable, that in that only place where they are so called by God, they are commanded to worship Christ; and in the same verse, a curse is denounced on all such as are guilty of idolatry. Psalm xcvii. 7. compared with Heb. i. 6.
§ 17. God so often speaking of himself as a jealous God
signifying that he will by no means endure any other husband of his church affords a clear evidence, that Jesus Christ is the same God with the Father. For Christ is often spoken of as that person who is, in the most eminent and peculiar manner, the Husband and Bridegroom of his church. That God who is the Holy One of Israel, is the Husband of the church, as appears by Isa. liv. 5. “Thy Maker is thy Husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Or, as the words are,” Thy Goel, the Holy One of Israel.” The goel was the near kinsman, that married the widow who had lost her husband, as appears by Ruth iii. 9-12. But this Holy One of Israel is the name of that God who is the Father, as appears by Isa. xlix. 7. and lv. 5. and so is the Lord of hosts, as appears by Isa. xliv. 6.
§ 18. Christ is the Lord mentioned in Rom. x. 13. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” That it is Christ who is spoken of, is evident from the two foregoing verses; and also from the 14th. But the words are taken from Joel ii. 32. where the word translated Lord, is Jehovah. See also 1 Cor. i. 2.
§ 19. And 1 Cor. x. 9. “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted.” By this, it appears, that Christ was that God, that Holy One of Israel, whom they tempted in the wilderness. 1 Cor. x. 22. “Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” It is evident, that by the Lord here, is meant Jesus Christ, as appears by the preceding context; and that therefore, he is that being who says, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God. 461461 Gen. xx. 5 ”
§ 20. Rev. ii. 23. Christ says, “I am he that trieth the reins and the heart, and will give to every one of you according to his works.” This is said by the Son of God, as appears by the 18th verse. foregoing. Compare this with other passages of Scripture, where those things are spoken of as the prerogative of the supreme God. Parallel with it is John xxi. 17. “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”
§ 21. It would be unreasonable to suppose, that there is one Being infinitely greater than all other beings so that all others are as nothing to him, and infinitely beneath him in power and yet, that there is no kind of works or effects of his power, that is peculiar to him, by which he is greatly distinguished from others. He that appeared sitting on the throne above the cherubims and wheels in Ezekiel’s visions, (Ezek. i. 27. and other places,) was undoubtedly Christ; because he appeared in the shape of a man, which God the Father never did. No man hath seen God, viz. the Father, at any time:” but the person that there appeared, was undoubtedly God. He is represented as one that has heaven for his throne, and sits as supreme Ruler of the universe. This is undoubtedly the same that rides on the heavens in the help of his people, and his excellency on the sky; that rides on the heaven of heavens by his name Jah, or Jehovah. And this is called the appearance of the likeness, or image of the glory of the Lord; Ezek. i. 28. iii. 23. and viii. 4. This, while it shows him to be a person truly divine, also shows him to be Christ. For what can this image of the Lord, with an appearance of brightness round about, (ver. 27, 28.) be, but the same which the apostle speaks of, who is the brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of his person?” And this is evidently the same that sat on the throne in the temple, which was called the Chariot of the Cherubims. And this person is called the God of Israel, Ezek. x. 20. and the whole that this person says to Ezekiel from time to time shows, that he is truly God.
§ 22. It is a great evidence of the divinity of Christ, that the Holy Ghost is so put into subjection to him, as to become his messenger; even the Spirit of God, as the Holy Ghost is often called, or the Spirit of the Father, as he is called, Matt. x. 20. The same that is there called the Spirit of the Father, is in Mark xiii. 11. called the Holy Ghost. Now, certainly, it is unreasonable to suppose, that the Spirit of the supreme God should be put under the direction and disposal of a mere creature, one infinitely below God. The only evasion here, must be this, that the Holy Ghost is also a created Spirit inferior to the Son. For if Christ be a mere creature, it would be unreasonable to suppose that he should have the Spirit of God subjected to him, on any other supposition, whether the Spirit of God be supposed to be only the power and energy of the Most High, or a superior created Spirit. But how does the Holy Ghost, being a creature inferior to the Son, consist with Christ’s being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost? and his being honoured by having the Holy Ghost descending upon him? and being anointed with it, and working his greatest miracles by the power of the Holy Ghost? and its being a great honour done to Christ, that the Spirit was given to him not by measure? Besides, the Holy Ghost being a creature, not only infinitely inferior to God, but inferior to the Son, is exceedingly inconsistent with almost every thing said of the Holy Spirit in Scripture: as, his being called the Power of the highest; his searching all things, even the deep things of God, and knowing the things of God in the most distinguishing manner, as the spirit of man within him knows the things of a man; the Scriptures being the word of God, as it is the word of the Holy Ghost; Christians being the temple of the living God, as they are the temple of the Holy Ghost; lying unto the Holy Ghost being called lying unto God; the chief works of God being ascribed to the Holy Ghost, as the works of creation, and the forming of man in the womb. (Eccles. xi. 5. Job xxxiii. 4.) Giving the highest sort of wisdom, viz. spiritual understanding; forming the human nature of Christ; being the author of regeneration and sanctification; creating a new heart, and so being the author of the new creation, which is spoken of as vastly greater than the old.
Blasphemy against the Father is pardonable; but not against the Holy Ghost. It is unreasonable to suppose that only the body of Christ was made by the Holy Ghost. It is evident, that the whole human nature, the holy thing that was born of the virgin, was by the Holy Ghost; Luke i. 35. But the Son of the virgin was a holy thing, especially with regard to his soul. The soul of Adam was from the Spirit of God, from God’s breathing into him the breath of life. But this breath of life signifies the Spirit of God, as appears by Christ’s breathing on his disciples after his resurrection, saying, John xx. 22. “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” The Spirit of God is called the breath of God; Job xxxiii. 4. “The Spirit of God hath made me; the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” If God’s Spirit gives life to other men, or mankind in general, doubtless he gave life to Adam. And if that Spirit of God which gives life to mankind in general, be, in doing that work, called the breath of God; we may well suppose, that when we find that which gave life and soul to Adam, called God’s breath, thereby was meant God’s Spirit.
§ 23. How unreasonable must our notions be of the creation of the world, on Arian principles! For it is manifest by the Scripture, that the world was made by the Spirit of God, as well as by the Son of God. But the Son of God is, according to them, a created Spirit; and the Spirit of God must therefore also be a created Spirit inferior to him. Therefore, we must suppose, that the Father created the world by the Son, and that the Son did not create the world by himself, but by the Spirit of God, as his minister or instrument. So that the Spirit of God herein must act as the instrument of an instrument!
§ 24. It is evident that the same Word, the same Son of God, that made the world, also upholds it in being, and governs it. This is evident, in part, unto reason. For upholding the world in being, and creating it, are not properly distinct works; since it is manifest, that upholding the world in being is the same with a continued creation; and consequently, that creating the world is but the beginning of upholding it, if I may so say beginning to give it a supported and dependent existence and preservation is only continuing to give it such a supported existence. So that, truly, giving the world a being at first, no more differs from preserving it through all successive moments, than giving a being the last moment, differs from giving a supported being this moment. And the Scripture is as express, that the world is upheld by Christ, as that it was created by him; Colos. i. 16, 17. “For by him were all things created, and by him all things consist.” Heb. i. 2, 3. “By whom also he made the worlds, and upholding all things by the word of his power.” And it is he that shall bring the world to an end. Heb. i. 10, 11, 12. “Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundations of the earth, &c. They shall perish, but thou shall endure. As a vesture shall thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”
But if these things are so, what shall we think of the upholding and government of the world, while Christ was in his humbled state, and while an infant, and when we are told that he was wearied with his journey, and his strength in some measure spent, only with governing the motions of his own body? Who upheld and governed the world at that time? Doubtless it will be said, that God the Father took the world out of the hands of the Son for that time, to uphold and govern it, and returned it into his hands again at his exaltation. But is there any ground to suppose such a mighty change as this, as to the author of the universe, that it should have such different authors of its being, and of all its properties, natural principles, motions, alterations, and events, both in bodies and all created minds, for three or four and thirty years, from what it had ever before or since? Have we any hint of such a thing? or have we any revelation of any thing analogous? Has God ever taken the work of a creature out of its hands, according to the ordinary course of things?
§ 25. The supreme God is doubtless distinguished by some works or other. As he must be infinitely distinguished from all other beings in his nature; so, doubtless, there are some manifestations or other of this vast superiority above all other beings. But we can have no other proper manifestations of the divine nature, but by some effects of it. The invisible things of God are seen by the things that are made. The word of God itself is no demonstration of the superior distinguishing glory of the supreme God, any otherwise than by his works; and that two ways: 1. As we must have the perfections first proved by his works, in order to know that his word is to he depended on. 2. As the works of God, appealed to and declared in his word, make evident that divine greatness and glory which the word of God declares. There is a difference between declaration and evidence. The word declares; but the works are the proper evidence of what is declared.
Undoubtedly, therefore, the vastly distinguished glory of the supreme God is manifested by some distinguishing peculiar works of his. That the supreme God is distinguished very remarkably and most evidently from all other beings, by some works or other, is certain by the Scripture. It is often represented, that be most plainly and greatly shows his distinguishing majesty, power, and wisdom, and vast superiority to other beings, by his works that are seen, and set in the view of the children of men. So Psalm lxxxi. 8. “Among the gods there is none like unto thee, neither are there any works like unto thy works;” see also verse 10. Psalm lxxxix. 5, 8, 9, 10. “The heavens shall praise thy wonders: for who in heaven can be compared to the Lord? who amongst the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? O Lord of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee, or to thy faithfulness round about thee? Thou rulest the raging of the sea; when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.” Deut. iii. 24. “What God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?” Psalm lxxii. 18. “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doth wondrous things.” This is often added to the declarations of God’s works, “That ye may know that I am the Lord, or that I am Jehovah:” and this, “That ye may know that there is none like unto me,” &c. Exod. viii. 10, 22. chap. ix. 14, 16. and x. 2. and innumerable other places.
§ 26. But now, what are these distinguishing works of God? or the works by which his distinguishing dignity and glory are clearly manifested? What works are they that can be named or thought of? Is it creating the world? Or is it the creating of the spiritual, intellectual world, which undoubtedly is an unspeakably greater work, than creating the material world? Is it preserving and upholding the world? Or is it governing the world? Or is it redemption and salvation; or at least some particular great salvation? Was it the redemption out of Egypt, and carrying the people of Israel through the wilderness, and giving them the possession of Canaan? Or is it the greatest work of redemption, even salvation from spiritual, total, and eternal destruction, and bringing to eternal holiness and glory? Is it conversion, regeneration, restoring a fallen, sinful creature, and making men new creatures, giving them holiness, and the image of God? or giving wisdom to the heart, the truest and greatest wisdom? Is it the conversion of the Gentile world, and renewing the whole world of mankind, as consisting of Jews and Gentiles? Or is it conquering Satan and all the powers of darkness, and overcoming all evil, even the strongest holds of sin and Satan, all God’s enemies in their united strength? Is it searching the hearts of the children of men? Is it working any particular kind of great miracles? Is it raising the dead to life, or raising all in general at the last day? Is it judging the world, angels and men, in the last and greatest judgment? Is it bestowing on the favourites of God, both men and angels, their highest, most consummate, and eternal glory? Is it destroying the visible creation, and bringing all to their final period and consummation, and to their most perfect and eternal state? Or, are there any other works greater than these, that can be thought of, which we can find appealed to as clearly manifesting the most peculiar and distinguishing glory of the supreme God, in comparison of whom all other beings whatsoever are absolutely as nothing? Yet all these are ascribed to Christ.
§ 27. The creation of the world in general is often spoken of as the peculiar work of the supreme God, a work wherein he manifests his glory as supreme, and distinguished from all other beings: Rom. i. 19, 20. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” Doubtless it is the supreme God who is here spoken of. And what godhead is clearly to be seen by the creation of the world, but the supreme Godhead? And what can that invisible glory and power of this God be, but that by which he is distinguished from other beings, and may be known to be what he is? It is said, “that which may be known of God, is clearly manifest by his works.” But doubtless, one thing, and infinitely the most important, that may be known of God, is his supreme dignity and glory, that glory which he has as supreme God. But if the creation of the world be not a work peculiar to him, how are these things so clearly manifested by his work? The work of creation is spoken of as one of the great wonders done by him, who is God of gods and Lord of lords, who alone doth great wonders; as in Ps. cxxxvi. 2-9. “O give thanks unto the God of gods. O give thanks to the Lord of lords. To him who alone doth great wonders. To him that by wisdom made the heavens. To him that stretched out the earth over the waters. To him that made great lights, The sun to rule by day,” &c. This is the work of the supreme God, which he wrought alone, Job ix. 8. “Which alone spreadeth out the heavens.” And 2 Kings xix. 15. “O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth:” 1 Chron. xvi. 24, 25, 26. “Declare his glory among the heathen, his marvellous works among all nations. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. He is also to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.” Isa. xl. 25, 26. “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things.” How plain is it here, that creating the world is spoken of as a work of the supreme God, most evidently showing that none is like him, or to be compared to him? So verse 12. compared with verse 18. God asserts the creation of the world to be his work, so as to deny any associate or instrument; as in Isa. xliv. 24. “Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am Jehovah that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” Isa. xiv. 5-7. “I am Jehovah, and there is none else; there is no God besides me: that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is none else; I form the light, and create darkness.” Verse 12. “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens.” Verse 18. “Thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, God himself that formed the earth and made it.” Verse 21. “I am Jehovah, and there is no God else beside me: a just God and a Saviour, there is none beside me.” Yet these works are applied to Christ.
§ 28. God’s creating the world, is used as an argument, to show the nations of the world the reasonableness of forsaking all other gods, and worshipping the one true God only. Rev. xiv. 7. “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, and worship him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (See also Acts xiv. 15. and Rev. x. 6.) The work of creation is spoken of as the distinguishing work of the supreme only living and true God, showing him to be alone worthy to be worshipped; as in Jer. x. 6-12. “Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord, thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain. Jehovah is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting King. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power: he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.”
§ 29. But the creation of the world is ascribed to jesus christ, in John i. 3. Col. i. 16. Heb. i. 10. It is ascribed to him as being done by his power, as the work of his hands, Heb. i. 10. And his work in such a manner, as to be a proper manifestation of his greatness and glory; and so as to show him to be God, John i. 1-3. Is the creation of the spiritual, intelligent world, consisting of angels, and the souls of men, and the world of glory, a peculiar work of the supreme God? Doubtless it is so. Neh. ix. 6. “Thou, even thou, art Lord alone. Thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host: and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” Psalm civ. 4. “Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” And the creation of the spiritual and intelligent world, in every part of it, is also ascribed to Christ. For it is said, John i. 3. “The world was made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” And to him is expressly ascribed the creation of the invisible world, and of the angels in particular, even the very highest and most exalted of them; and all the most glorious things in the invisible heaven, the highest and most glorious part of the creation of God. Col. i. 16. “By him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible;” (these include the invisible things on earth, as well as in heaven, even the souls of men;) ” whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him.”
§ 30. Preserving the creation, is spoken of as the work of the one only Jehovah, Neh. ix. 6. “Thou, even thou, art Jehovah alone. Thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host; the earth, and all things that are therein; and thou preservest them all.” Isa. xl. 26. “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number. He calleth them all by names, by the greatness of his might; for that he is strong in power, not one faileth.” Job xii. 7-10. “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; who knoweth not in all these, that the hand of Jehovah hath made this, in whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” See also. Psalm xxxvi. 6, 7.
But the preservation of the creation is also ascribed to Christ; Heb. i. 3. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power.” Colos. i. 17. “By him all things consist.”
§ 31. Governing the creation, is another thing often spoken of as the peculiar work of God; as in Isa. xl. 21, to the end. There, governing the world is the manifest peculiar work of him to whom none is like and none equal. And, in Isa. xlv. 1-13. governing the world, bringing to pass revolutions in nations, &c.; are spoken of as the peculiar works of him who is Jehovah alone. See 2 Chron. xxix. 11, 12. and Psalm xxii. 28. xlvii. 2, &c. But Christ is often, in the New Testament, spoken of as the Governor of the world, is prayed to as such, and spoken of as he whose will disposes all events.
Sitting as king in heaven, having his throne there, and governing the universe for the salvation of his people, are spoken of as peculiar to the supreme God. But, how often and eminently are these things ascribed to Christ! His having his throne in heaven; being exalted far above all heavens; thrones, dominions, &c. being made subject to him; being made head over all things to the church, &c.
§ 32. Judging the world, is another thing spoken of as peculiarly and distinguishingly belonging to the supreme God. 462462 See 1 Sam. ii. 3,10. Job xxi. 22.Psalm xi. 4. 5. lxxv. 6, 7. lxxxii. 1. 8. Judg. xi. 27. Psalm xciv. 2. Psalm l.1-7. “The mighty God, even Jehovah, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Our God shall come; a fire shall devour before him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people: and the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is Judge himself. Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against thee. I am God, even thy God.” This 50th Psalm. begins thus: el elohim jehovah, “The God of gods, Jehovah; or, the most mighty God, even jehovah.” Who can believe that these three most magnificent names of the Deity are thus united, to signify any other than the supreme God? 463463 See also Psalm ix. 7, 8. 1 Chron. xvi. 25, 26-33. Psalm xcvi. 4. 5-13. Also Psalm xcviii.
But it is apparent, that Christ is abundantly spoken of as eminently the Judge of all nations, of all degrees, quick and dead, angels and men. We are particularly and fully instructed, that it is his distinguishing office to judge the world, John v. 22. 2 Tim iv. 8. Rev. xix. 11. and many other places.
§ 33. Destroying the world at the consummation of all things is spoken of as a peculiar work of God; even of Jehovah, ver. 1, 12, 16, 18, 21, 22.; the Creator of the world, ver. 24, 25, 28. See also Psalm xcvii. 1-6. and Neh. i. 4, 5, 6. Jer. x. 6, 7, 10. Psalm xlvi. 6. civ. 32. cxliv. 5. Isa. lxiv. 1, 2, 3. Job ix. 4-7. But this is spoken of as the work of the Son of God, Heb. i. latter end.
§ 34. The wonderful alterations made in the natural world, at the coming out of Egypt; the giving of the law, and entrance into Canaan; are often spoken of as the peculiar works of God, greatly manifesting the divine majesty as vastly distinguished from all other gods: such as, dividing the sea; drowning Pharaoh and his hosts there; causing the earth to tremble, the mountains to quake at his presence, the heavens to drop, the hills to skip like rams and lambs; Jordan being driven back; the sun and moon standing still, &c.
But these were infinitely small things, in comparison with what shall be accomplished at the end of the world, when the mountains and hills shall be thrown into the midst of the sea; and not only some particular mountains shall quake, but the whole earth, yea, the whole visible world, shall be terribly shaken to pieces. Not only shall mount Sinai be on fire, as if it would melt, but all the mountains, and the whole earth and heavens shall melt with fervent heat; the earth shall be dissolved even to its centre. And not only shall the Red sea and Jordan be dried up for a few hours, in a small part of their channels, but all the seas, and oceans, and rivers through the world shall be dried up for ever. Not only shall the sun and moon be stopped for the space of one day; but they, with all the innumerable mighty globes of the heavens, shall have an everlasting arrest, an eternal stop put to their courses. Instead of drowning Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea, the devil and all the wicked shall be plunged into the eternal lake of fire and brimstone, &c.
The former kind of effects were but little, faint shadows of the latter. And the former are spoken of as the peculiar, manifest, glorious works of the supreme one only God, evidently manifesting his peculiar majesty and glory. But the latter are the works of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as is evident by Heb. i. 10-12. It is here worthy to be remarked, that though the Scripture teaches, that Christ’s majesty shall at the last day appear to be so great in his coming in power and great glory, yet it is said, when these things shall be, God alone should be exalted, in opposition to men and to other gods, Isa. ii. 10, to the end.
§ 35. The work of salvation is often spoken of as peculiar to God. It is said, the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord, Psal. xxxvii. 39. and that salvation belongeth unto the Lord, Psal. iii. 8. Jonah ii. 9. God’s people acknowledge him to be the God of their salvation, Psal. xxv. 5. xxvii. 1. and Isa. xii. 2. Saving effectually is spoken of as his prerogative, Jer. xvii. 14. “Heal me, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.” Psal. lxviii. 20. “He that is our God, is the God of salvation, and to the Lord our God belong the issues from death.”
Salvation is spoken of as being of God, in opposition to men, and to all creature helps, Jer. iii. 23. “Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.” Psal. lx. 11. “Give us help from trouble, for vain is the help (Heb. salvation) of man.” Ver. 16. “I Jehovah am thy Saviour.” Psal. cxlvi. 3, 5. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom is no help (or salvation). Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” Salvation in or by any other is denied, Isa. lix. 16. “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor. Therefore, his arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness it sustained him.”
It is spoken of as his prerogative to he the rock of salvation, to be trusted in by men. “Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.” See Psal. xcv 1. lxii. 2. “He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence.” Ver. 5-9. “My soul, wait thou on God alone, for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.” 464464 See Deut. xxiii. 4. 2. 1 Sam. xxiii.3. Psal. xviii. 2. 2 Sam. xxii. 1, 2, 31, 32. Psal. xviii. 2. 30, 31 46. Isa.xxvi.4. Heb. i. 12.
It is said, that there is no other Saviour besides the one only Jehovah; Isa. xliii. 3. “I am Jehovah thy God, the Saviour of Israel;” xliii. 11. “I, even I, am Jehovah, and besides me there is no Saviour.” See Isa. xlvii. 4. liv. 5. and xlv. 15. “O God of Israel, the Saviour.” Ver. 21,. to the end; “I am Jehovah, and there is no God else besides me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.” Here observe, that this is given as a reason why all nations in the world should look to him only for salvation, that he only was God; taking it for granted, and as an universally established point, that none but God could be a Saviour. And here salvation is claimed as the prerogative of the one only God, and therefore exclusively of a secondary and subordinate god. It follows, “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, In Jehovah have I righteousness and strength. Even to him shall men come, and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory. 465465 Isa. 45:23-25. ” Hosea xiii. 4. “Yet I am Jehovah, thy God from the land of Egypt: and thou shalt know no God but me; for there is no Saviour besides me.”
God is so completely the only Saviour of his people, that others are not admitted to partake of this honour, as mediate and subordinate saviours: Hos. i. 7. And therefore, the heavenly hosts, in giving praise to God, ascribe salvation to him, as his peculiar and distinguishing glory; Rev. xix. 1. “I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God.”
§ 36. But nothing is more evident, by the express and abundant doctrine of Scripture, than that Jesus Christ is most eminently and peculiarly the Saviour of God’s people, and the Saviour of the world. In John iv. 42. his very name is Jesus, Saviour. He is spoken of as the Author of eternal salvation, Heb. v. 9. And the Captain of the salvation of his people, Heb. ii. 10. a Prince and a Saviour. He is called Zion’s salvation, Isa. lxii. 11. “Behold, thy salvation cometh.” He is spoken of, as saving by his own strength, and able to save to the uttermost; one mighty to save, and therein distinguished from all others; as in Isa. lxiii. 1. “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Ver. 5. “I looked and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold. Therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury it upheld me.” What is said in this place, is meant of Christ, as is manifest by comparing ver. 3. with Rev. xix. 15. And the very same things that are said of Jehovah, the only God, as the only Saviour in whom men shall trust for salvation, as in xlv. 21, to the end,. are from time to time applied to Christ in the New Testament. And it is expressly said, Acts iv. 12. “There is salvation in no other, neither is there any other name given under heaven amongst men, whereby we must be saved.” And the heavenly hosts, in their praises, ascribe salvation to Christ in like manner as to God the Father, Rev. vii. 10. “Salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb.” See also chap. v. Christ is a rock sufficiently sure, and perfectly to be trusted, Isa. xxviii. 16, 17. 1 Cor. x. 4.
§ 37. The redemption from Egypt, and bringing the children of Israel through the wilderness to the possession of Canaan, is often spoken of as a great salvation, which was most evidently the peculiar work of the one only Jehovah, greatly manifesting his distinguished power and majesty. 2 Sam. vii. 22, 23. “Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God, for there is none like thee; according to all that we have heard with our ears;” meaning what they had heard of his great fame, or the name he had obtained by his wonderful works, in bringing them out of Egypt, &c. as appears by what follows; 2 Sam. vii. 23. “And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things, and terrible for thy land, before thy people which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?” The same work is mentioned as an evidence, that the doer of it is Jehovah, and that there is none like unto him, and as that which makes known God’s name through the earth;. Exod. viii. 10, 22. ix. 14, 16. and x. 2. See also chap. xv. 6-11. xviii. 11. and xxxiv. 10. Deut. iii. 24.
§ 38. But it was Jesus Christ that wrought that salvation: Isa. lxiii. 9, 10. “The angel of his presence saved them: in his love and pity he redeemed them, and he bore them, and earned them all the days of old. But they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit.” This rebelling and vexing of his Holy Spirit is evidently the same thing with that spoken of, Psal. xcv. 8, 9, 10. “As in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works. Forty years long was I grieved with that generation.” But it is evident that he whom they tempted, provoked, and grieved, was that God whose great works they saw, and therefore was that God who wrought those wonderful works in Egypt and the wilderness: as is evident by the same, ver. 3. where he is called “Jehovah, a great God, and a great King above all gods.” And it is equally clear by that passage in Isa. lxiii. just quoted, that it was the angel of God’s presence, and by 1 Cor. x. 9. “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted.”
And as it is said, Isa. lxiii. that the angel of God’s presence saved them, &c. so it is plain by Exod. xxiii. 20-33. that God’s angel, a different person from him who acts as first in the affairs of the Deity, brought them into Canaan, &c. And it is plain, that the person that appeared in the bush, who said his name was Jehovah, and I am that I am, was the angel of Jehovah: Exod. iii. 2, 14. vi. 3. and Acts vii. 30. And nothing is more evident, by the whole history, than that the same person brought them out of Egypt: and also, that it was the same angel which appeared and delivered the ten commandments at mount Sinai, conversed there with Moses, and manifested himself from time to time to the congregation in the wilderness. Acts vii. 38. “This is he that was in the church in the wilderness, with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers; who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” That angel doubtless was the same that is called the angel of the covenant; Mal. iii. 1. “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come into his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in. Behold he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts:” and this messenger without doubt was Christ. It is plain by Heb. xii. 25, 26, 27. that he who spake at mount Sinai was Christ: “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh, 466466 Heb. xii. 25. ” &c.
§ 39. Thus we see, that however the work of salvation be so often spoken of as peculiar to God; yet this salvation out of Egypt, so much celebrated in Scripture, is not peculiar to God the Father; but that the Son wrought this work as well as the Father. And it is true, that the Scriptures abundantly speak of an infinitely greater and more glorious salvation than that out of Egypt; viz. the salvation of men from sin, Satan, eternal death and ruin, and bringing them to the heavenly Canaan, to eternal life and happiness there. This is spoken of as a far greater work than the other. So that, in comparison of it, it is not worthy to be remembered or mentioned. Jer. xvi. 14,15. “It shall no more be said, The Lord liveth,” &c. see also chap. xxiii. 6-8. Isa. xliii. 18-21. “Remember ye not the former things,” &c. But I need not stop to show the reader how this great salvation is in Scripture ascribed in a peculiar manner to Christ as the author.
§ 40. We read in Scripture of two creations: the first, that which Moses gives an account of in the first chapter of Genesis; the other, a spiritual creation, consisted in restoring the moral world, bringing it to its highest perfection, and establishing it in its eternal felicity and glory; and the latter is spoken of as most incomparably the greatest work; Isa. lxv. 17, 18. and lxvi. 22. Now, as creation is so much spoken of as a most peculiar work of the supreme God, one may well determine, that if the first creation be not so, yet the second is, which is so much greater, and evidently the greatest of all God’s works.
But this new creation, which is the same with the work of redemption, is, in the most especial manner, spoken of as the work of Jesus: for he is ever mentioned as the great Redeemer and restorer. This work is committed to him: for this he has a full commission. It is left in his hands; all things are committed to him; all power in heaven and in earth is given him, that he may accomplish this work, and bring it to its most absolute perfection. To this end are subjected to him, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, and he is made head over all things; and to this end, the world to come, that is, all the affairs of that new creation, are put in subjection unto him: and he, with regard to all the transactions belonging to this new creation, that are written in the book of God, is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Christ built the house; he built all things, especially in this new creation; and therefore is God. These things are plainly asserted in Heb. iii. 3, 4. “For this man (rather this person) was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man: but he that built all things is God.” Thus, the work of redemption, which is both the greatest work of salvation, and the greatest work of creation, (the two kinds of works chiefly spoken of in Scripture as divine,) is accomplished by the Son of God.
§41. The giving of spiritual and saving light is one chief part of the new creation, as creating the light was a chief part of the old creation. The causing of this spiritual light is spoken of as the peculiar work of God. 2 Cor. iv. 6. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” &c. But the giving of this light is especially ascribed to Christ, as the author and fountain of it. He is called the Light of the world; the Light of life; the true Light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He is the Sun of righteousness. No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him, &c.
§ 42. So calling men into Christ’s fellowship and kingdom, is also ascribed to God. Rom. viii. 30. “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” Acts ii. 39. “As many as the Lord our God shall call.” 1 Cor. i. 9. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Thess. ii. 12. “That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.” 2 Thess. ii. 13,14. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation; whereunto he called you by our gospel.” 2 Tim. i. 9. “According to the power of God, who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace.” 1 Pet. v. 10. “The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory.”
But this is ascribed to Jesus Christ. Rom. i. 6. “Among whom also ye are the called of Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. vii. 17. “As the Lord hath called every one.” John x. 3. “And he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” Verse 16. “Other sheep have I, which are not of this fold, them also I must bring in; and they shall hear my voice.” Eph. i. 18. “That ye may know what is the hope of his calling.”
§ 43. Regeneration, or the changing and renewing of the heart, is spoken of as the peculiar work of God. John i. 13. “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” James i. 18. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.”
It is likewise ascribed to Christ. Saints are born of him in their spiritual generation, and therefore are called his seed; Gal. iii. 29. It is Christ that baptizes men with the Holy Ghost, which is called the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, and a being born of water and of the Spirit. Christ sanctifies and cleanses the souls of men, by the washing of water, by the word; Eph. v. 26.
§ 44. Justification, washing from sin, delivering from guilt, forgiving sin, admitting to favour and to the glorious benefits of righteousness in the sight of God, are often spoken of as belonging peculiarly to God. Rom. iii. 26. “That he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” Verse 30. “Seeing it is one God that justifieth,” &c. Chap. viii. 30. “Whom he called, he also justified.” Verse 33. “It is God that justifieth.” Isa. xliii. 25. “I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake.” Psalm li. 2-4. “Wash me throughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin: against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” Therefore the Jews said, Luke v. 21. “Who can forgive sins but God only?”
But Christ hath power to forgive sin, as it follows in the last-mentioned place; verse 24. “But that ye may know, that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins,”. &c. He washes us from our sins in his own blood; Rev. i. 5. And he justifies those that know and believe in him; Isa. liii. 11.
§ 45. Overcoming Satan, and delivering men from him, and giving his people victory over him, are spoken of as the peculiar works of God’s glorious power. Isa. xxvii. “In that day, Jehovah, with his great and strong sword, shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan, that crooked serpent; he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.” Psalm viii. 1, 2. “O Jehovah, our God, how excellent is thy name in all the earth, who hast set thy glory above the heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”
But it is the special work of Christ to bruise the serpent’s head; to destroy the works of the devil; and that by his own strength. For he is represented as conquering him, because he is stronger than the strong man armed, and so overcoming him and taking from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and spoiling his goods. It is he that has spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them. He is the spiritual Samson, that has rent the roaring lion as lie would have rent a kid; and the spiritual David, that has delivered the lamb out of his mouth, and has slain that great Goliath. He is that Michael who fights with the dragon and casts him out; and at last will judge Satan, and will utterly destroy him; and will inflict those everlasting torments on him spoken of in Rev. xx. 10. In the apprehension of which he now trembles, and trembled for fear that Christ would inflict those torments on him, when he cried out and fell down before him, saying, 467467 Matt. 8:29. “Art thou come to torment me before the time?” and, 468468 Luke 8:28. “I beseech thee, torment me not.”
§ 46. Should any imagine that those parts of the work of redemption, which are initial, and are wrought in this world, being more imperfect, may be wrought by the Son of God; but that the more glorious perfection of it, which is brought to pass in heaven, is peculiar to God the Father: in opposition to this, it may be observed, it belongs to Christ to take care of the souls of his saints after death; to receive them to the heavenly state; and to give them possession of heaven. Therefore the Scriptures represent, that he redeems his saints to God, and makes them kings and priests. He has the key of David, the key of the palace, and the keys of hades, or the separate state, and of death; and opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens. He is gone to heaven as the forerunner of the saints. He has, in their name, taken possession of that inheritance which he has purchased for them, that he may put them in possession of it in due time. He is gone to prepare a place for them, that he may come and take them to himself, that where he is, there they may be also; and make them sit with him in his throne. And therefore Stephen, when dying, commended his spirit into Christ’s hands.
Or, if any shall say, that the far more glorious salvation which shall be effected at the end of the world; when all things shall be brought to their highest consummation, shall be the peculiar work of God the Father; I answer, It is abundantly manifest from Scripture, that the consummation of all things shall be by Christ. He shall raise the dead by his voice, as one that has power and life in himself. He shall raise up the bodies of his saints in their glorious resurrection, making their bodies like to his glorious body; John v. 25, 29. and vi. 39, 40. He, as the universal and final Judge, shall fully put all things to rights, and bring every thing to its last and most perfect state. He shall bestow that great gift of eternal life, in both soul and body, on the whole church, and every individual member in a state of most consummate glory, which is the thing aimed at in all the preceding steps of the great affair of redemption. He shall present his church to himself and to his Father a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; all in a perfect purity, beauty, and glory: and the glory which God hath given him he will give them, in the most perfect manner, that they may reign with him for ever and ever. And thus, he will cause the New Jerusalem to appear in its brightest glory, as a bride adorned for her husband; and will perfect the new creation, and cause the new heavens and new earth to shine forth in their consummate and eternal beauty and brightness; when God shall proclaim, It is done; I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. 469469 John xi. 25. and v. 22, 23, 27. Eph. v. 20. 1 Cor. xv. 20-28. Matt. xxv. 24. 2. Tim. iv. 8. Luke xxii. 29, 33. Matt. xxiv. 47. Rev. ii 7, 10. and . iii. 21. Rev. xxii. 11, 17. Christ is represented as being himself the light and glory that enlightens the New Jerusalem, that fills with brightness and glory the church of God, in its last, consummate, and eternal glory; Rev. xxi. 23.
§ 47. Concerning the name jehovah, see Neh. ix. 6. “Thou art Jehovah alone; thou hast made heaven and earth; the heaven of heavens, with all their host; the earth,” &c. Deut. vi. 4. “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” 2 Sam. xxii. 32. “Who is God, save Jehovah? who is a rock, save our God?” So Psal. xviii. 31. 1 Kings xviii. 39. ”Jehovah, he is the God; Jehovah, he is the God.” When God proclaimed his name in mount Sinai, Exod. xxxiv. 5, 6. “He passed by and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah.” Jer. x. 10. ”Jehovah is the true God; he is the living God, and an everlasting King.” Exod. xv. 11. “Who is like unto thee, O Jehovah?” 1 Chron. xvii. 20. “O Jehovah, there is none like unto thee.” Psal. lxxxvi. 8. It might well be expected, that, in that abundant revelation which God has made of himself, he would make himself known by some one name at least, which should be expressly delivered as the peculiar and distinguishing name of the Most High. And we find it to be so: God has, with great solemnity, declared a certain name as his most peculiar name; which he has expressly and very often spoken of as a name that belongs to him in a most distinguishing manner, and belongs to the Supreme Being only; and hath expressly asserted that it belongs to no other. But, notwithstanding all this, the Arians, to serve their particular purpose, reject this name, as not being the distinguishing name of the supreme God.
§ 48. King of kings and Lord of lords, are titles peculiar to the Supreme Being. Deut. x. 17. “For the Lord your God is God of gods, and the Lord of lords.” Psal. cxxxvi. 3. “O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his mercy endureth for ever.” Dan. ii. 47. “Of a truth it is that your God is a God of gods, and Lord of kings.” 1 Tim. vi. 14, 15, 16. “Until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honour and power everlasting, Amen.” Rev. xix. 11-16. ” He whose name is called the Word of God, hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, king of kings, and lord of lords.”
§49. Christ’s eternity is abundantly asserted. Psal. cii. 24-27. “Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands: but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” Rom. i. 23. “The incorruptible God.” 1 Tim. vi. 16. “The King eternal, immortal.” Rev. iv. 9, 10. v. 14. x. 5, 6. and xv. 7.. Heb. vii. 3. “Having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.”
§ 50. There must be a vast difference, not only in the degree, but in the kind, of respect and worship due to the supreme God as well as in other things; since there is so infinite a difference between this Being and all others. There is a great difference as to the kind of respect proper for a wife to render to her husband, and that which it is proper for her to render towards other men. So it is with regard to the respect due to God; otherwise there would not be a foundation for that jealousy, which God exercises on occasion of his professing people worshipping other beings.
In addition to what has been observed of the works and worship of God, the following savings of Christ are worthy to be observed. John v. 17. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Ver. 19. ” What things soever the Father doth, these also doth the Son likewise.” Ver. 23. “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” It is plain, God is jealous in that respect, that no other being may share with him in honour, that he alone may be exalted. It is expected that other beings should humble themselves, should be brought low, should deny themselves for God, and esteem themselves as nothing before him. And as he requires that they should abase themselves, he would not set up others to exalt them to a rivalship with himself. If men may pray to Christ, may adore him, give themselves up to him, trust in him, praise him, and serve him; what kind of worship is due to the Father, entirely distinct from all this in nature and kind?
When Satan tempted Christ to fall down and worship him, as one that had power to dispose of the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them; Christ replies, “It is written, Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 470470 Matt. iv. 10. ” But the Arians must suppose, that we are required to worship and serve some other being than this Lord God which Christ speaks of, as the disposer not only of the kingdoms of this world, but of the kingdom of heaven and the glory thereof. On the supposition of Christ’s being merely a creature, he would much more properly be ranked with creatures exclusively, and never with God (as being called by his name and titles, having ascribed to him his attributes, dominions, &c.). However great a creature he might be, he would be infinitely below God.
§ 51. Concerning the grand objection from that text, 471471 Mark xiii. 32. “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, nor the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father:” I would observe, that even the Arians themselves, with regard to some things said of Christ, must make the distinction between his power or knowledge, as to his inferior and superior nature; or, if they do not allow two natures, then, at least, as to his humbled state, and his state both before and after his humiliation: as Mark vii. 24. “And would have no man know it, but he could not be hid.” This cannot mean that the person who created the whole world, visible and invisible, &c. and by whom all things consist and are governed, had not power to order things so, that he might be hid.
§ 52. It is observable, that Christ is frequently called God absolutely, Greek and Greek; by which name even the heathens themselves always understood the supreme God. Dr. Cudworth, in his “Intellectual System,” abundantly shows, that the heathens generally worshipped but one supreme, eternal, universal, uncreated Deity; but that their best philosophers maintained, that this Deity subsisted in three hypostases: though they had many created gods. And in page 627, he says, “It now appears, from what we have declared, that as to the ancient and genuine Platonists and Pythagoreans, none of their trinity of gods, or divine hypostases, were independent; so, neither were they creature-gods, but uncreated, they being all of them not only eternal, and necessarily existent and immutable, but also universal, i. e. infinite and omnipotent causes, principles, and creators of the whole world. From whence it follows, that these Platonists could not justly be taxed with idolatry, in giving religious worship to each hypostasis of their trinity. And one grand design of Christianity being to abolish the pagan idolatry or creature worship, it cannot justly be charged therewith, from that religious worship given to our Saviour Christ and the Holy Ghost, they being none of them, according to the true and orthodox Christianity, creatures, however the Arian hypothesis made them such. And this was indeed the grand reason why the ancient fathers so zealously opposed Arianism. We shall cite a remarkable passage out of Athanasius, fourth oration against the Arians, to this purpose, as follows:
“Why, therefore, do not these Arians, holding this, reckon themselves amongst the pagans or Gentiles, since they do, in like manner, worship the creature besides the Creator? Greek ” Athanasius’s meaning here, could not well be, that they worshipped the creature more than the Creator; forasmuch as the Arians constantly declared that they gave less worship to the Son than to the Father.
“For though the pagans worship one uncreated and many created gods; but these Arians only one uncreated, and one created, to wit, the Son, or Word of God; yet will not this make any real difference betwixt them; because the Arians’ one created god, is one of those many pagan gods; and these many gods of the pagans or Gentiles have the same nature with this one, they being alike creatures.”
§ 53. It is remarkable, that in so many places, both in the Old Testament and New, when Christ is spoken of, his glory and prerogatives represented, and the respect due to him urged, that the vanity of idols in the same places should be represented, and idolatry warned against. See Psal. xvi. 4. It is manifest, that it is the Messiah that there speaks. See also many prophecies of Isa. and other prophets. 1 John v. 20, 21. 1 Cor. x. 19-22.
“There is not the least intimation, where Christ is styled God, either in the texts themselves, or contexts, that this is to be understood of his office, and not of his person; as is the case where magistrates are styled gods, where the very next words explain it, and tell us what is to be understood by it. And when Moses and angels are called gods, no one who attends to the whole discourse, could easily mistake the meaning, and not see that this term God was there used in an inferior and metaphorical sense.” Letter to the Dedicator of Mr. Emlyn’s Inquiry, &c. p. 7, 8. Matt. xix. 17. “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God.” “Mr. Emlyn affirms it to be evident, that Christ here distinguishes himself from God, and denies of himself what he affirms of God. But the truth of his interpretation entirely depends upon the opinion which the young man had of Christ, who received this answer from him.” Ibid. p. 17, 18.
§ 54. That Christ had divine omniscience, appears from his own words; Rev. ii. 23. “And all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the hearts and the reins.” Now Solomon declares, 1 Kings viii. 39. “Thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men.” And Jer. xvii. 10. God says, “I, the Lord, search the heart; I try the reins.” And Christ does not say, The churches shall know that I search the reins and the heart; but that “I am he,” &c. which, if words have any force in them, yea, if the expression is not altogether unintelligible, implies, ” I am he who is distinguished by this character; or the churches shall know that I am the God who searcheth,” &c. Ibid. p. 43, 44.
§ 55. That the eternal Logos should be subordinate to the Father, though not inferior in nature; yea, that Christ, in his office, should be subject to the Father, and less than he, though in his higher nature not inferior, is not strange. It is proper, among mankind, that a son should be subordinate to his father, yea, subject in many respects, though of the same human nature; yea, though in no respect inferior in any natural qualification. It was proper that Solomon should be under David his father, and be appointed king by him, and receive charges and directions from him, though, even then, in his youth, probably not inferior to his father.
The disciples of Christ, or those that trusted in him, when here on earth, applied to him as trusting in his ability, not only to heal all diseases of the body, and to raise the dead; but as leaving their souls in his hands, and being able to heal the diseases of their minds; as being the author and fountain of virtue. So Luke xvii. 5. “The apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” So the father of the demoniac, Mark ix. 24. “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.”
§ 56. It is a good argument for Christ’s divinity, that he is to be the author of the resurrection. The atoms and particles in one little finger, are capable of so many removes, and such dispersions, that I believe it would surpass any finite understanding, at two or three thousand years’ end, to tell what distinct particles of the universe belonged to it. It would require a vast strength and subtlety of mind, to trace but one atom so nicely, as to know that individual atom in the universe, after so long a time; after it had been a particle of air, water, oil, or animal spirit, &c. and had been transported with prodigious swiftness from place to place, backwards and forwards, millions of times, amongst innumerable others of the same kind. Especially, would it be exceeding difficult, so narrowly to watch two of such at once. If so, what would it be, to follow every atom in a man’s body; yea, of all the bodies that ever have died, or shall die? And, at the same time, to have the mind exercised with full vigour upon innumerable other matters, that require an equal strength of understanding? and all this with such ease, that it shall be no labour to the mind?
§ 57. God would not have given us any person to be our redeemer, unless he was of divine and absolutely supreme dignity and excellency, or was the supreme God; lest we should be under temptation to pay him too great respect; lest, if he were not the supreme God, we should be under temptation to pay him that respect which is due only to the supreme, and which God, who is a jealous God, will by no means allow to be paid to an inferior being. Men are very liable to be tempted to rate those too highly, from whom they have received great benefits. They are prone to give them that respect and honour, that belongs to God only. Thus, the Gentile world deified and adored such of their kings as did great things for them, and others from whom they received great benefits. So Cornelius was tempted to give too great respect to Peter, he being the person that God had marked out to be his teacher and guide in things pertaining to eternal salvation. So the apostle John could scarce avoid adoring the angel that showed him those visions: he fell down to worship him once and again. Though the first time he had been strictly warned against it; yet the temptation was so great, that he did it again: Rev. xix. 10. xxii. 8. This being a temptation they were so liable to, was greatly disallowed of by God. When Cornelius fell down before Peter, he took him up, saying, Acts x. 26. “Stand up; I myself also am a man.” So, when the people at Lystra were about to offer divine worship to Paul and Barnabas, when they heard of it, they rent their clothes, and ran in among them, crying out, “Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you, that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein;” Acts xiv. 15. And when John was about to adore the angel, how strictly was he warned against it! “See thou do it not,” says he, “for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, that have the testimony of Jesus Christ: worship God. 472472 Rev. xix. 10. ” And God has always been so careful to guard against it, that he hid the body of Moses, that it might be no temptation to idolatry. But if any thing can be a temptation to give supreme respect and honour to one that is not the Supreme Being, this would be a temptation, viz. to have a person that is not the Supreme Being, to be our redeemer; to have such an one endure such great sufferings out of love to us, and thereby to deliver us from such extreme and eternal misery, and to purchase for us so great and eternal happiness. God therefore, in wisdom, has appointed such a person to be our redeemer, that is of absolutely supreme glory and excellency, that we may be in no danger of loving and adoring him too much; that we may prize him, exalt him for the great things that he has done for us, as much as we will, nay, so far as his love to us, his sufferings for us, and the benefits we receive by him, can tempt us to, without danger of exceeding. Christ has done as great things for us as ever the Father did. His mercy and love have been as great and wonderful; and we receive as much benefit by them, as we do by the love and mercy of the Father. The Father never did greater things for us than to redeem us from hell, and bring us to eternal life. But if Christ had not been a person equal with the Father, and worthy of our equal respect, God would not have so ordered it, that the temptation to love and respect the Son, which results from favours that we have by kindness received, should be equal with the inducements we have to love and respect the Father.
§ 58. I shall offer some reasons against Dr. Watts’s notion of the pre-existence of Christ’s human soul. If the pre-existing soul of Christ created the world, then, doubtless, he upholds and governs it. The same Son of God that did one, does the other. He created all things, and by him all things consist. And if so, how was his dominion confined to the Jewish nation, before his incarnation, but extends to all nations since? Besides, there are many things ascribed in the Old Testament to the Son of God, in those very places, which Dr. Watts himself supposes to speak of him, that imply his government of the whole world, and all nations. The same person that is spoken of as King of Israel, is represented as the Governor of the world.
According to this scheme, the greatest of the works of the Son in his created nature, implying the greatest exaltation, was his first work of all; viz. His creating all things, all worlds, all things visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: and this before ever he had any trial at all of his obedience, &c. At least, this work seems much greater than judging the world at the last day; which the Scripture often speaks of as one of the highest parts of his exaltation, which he has in reward for his obedience and sufferings: and Dr. Watts himself supposes his honours, since his humiliation, to be much greater than before.
§ 59. On this scheme it will follow, that the covenant of redemption was made with a person that was not sui juris, and not at liberty to act his own mere good pleasure, with respect to undertaking to die for sinners; but was obliged to comply, on the first intimation that it would be well pleasing to God, and a thing that he chose.
§ 60. According to that scheme, the man Christ Jesus was not properly the son of the virgin, and so the son of man. To be the son of a woman, is to receive being in both soul and body, in consequence of a conception in her womb. The soul is the principal part of the man; and sonship implies derivation of the soul as well as the body, by conception. Though the soul is no part of the mother, and be immediately given by God, yet that hinders not its being derived by conception; it being consequent on it, according to a law of nature. It is agreeable to a law of nature, that where a perfect human body is conceived in the womb of a woman, and property nourished and increased, a human soul should come into being: and conception may as properly be the cause whence it is derived, as many other natural effects are derived from natural causes or antecedents. For it is the power of God which produces these effects, though it be according to an established law. The soul being so much the principal part of man, a derivation of the soul by conception, is the chief thing implied in a man’s being the son of a woman.
According to what seems to be Dr. Watts’s scheme, the Son of God is no distinct divine person from the Father. So far as he is a divine person, he is the same person with the Father. So that in the covenant of redemption, the Father covenants with himself, and he takes satisfaction of himself, &c. Unless you will say, that one nature covenanted with the other; the two natures in the same person covenanted together, and one nature in the same person took satisfaction of the other nature in the same person. But how does this confound our minds, instead of helping our ideas, or making them more easy and intelligible!
§ 61. The Son of God, as a distinct person, was from eternity. It is said, Micah v. 2. “His goings forth were of old from everlasting.” So Prov. viii. 23. “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” So he is called, Isa. ix. 6. “The everlasting Father.” I know of no expressions used in Scripture, more strong, to signify the eternity of the Father himself.
Dr. Watts supposes the world to be made by the pre-existent soul of Christ; and thinks it may properly be so said, though the knowledge and power of this pre-existent soul could not extend to the most minute parts, every atom, &c. But it is evidently the design of the Scripture to assure us that Christ made all things whatever, in the absolute universality, John i. 33. “All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Col. i. 16, 17. “For by him were all things created, 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 consist.” Now, if we suppose matter to be infinitely divisible, it will follow, that let his wisdom and power be as great as they will, if finite, but a few of those individual things that are made, were the effects of his power and wisdom: yea, that the number of the things that were made by him, are so few, that they bear no proportion to others, that did not immediately fall under his notice; or that of the things that are made there are ten thousand times, yea infinitely more, not made by him, than are made by him: And so, but infinitely few of their circumstances are ordered by his wisdom.
It is said, Heb. ii. 8. “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him.” Here it is represented, that God the Father has put every individual thing under the power and government of another person, distinct from himself. Out this cannot be true of the human soul of Christ, as it must be according to Dr. Watts’s scheme, let the powers of that be never so great, if they are not infinite. For things and circumstances, and dependencies and consequences of things in the world, are infinite in number; and therefore a finite understanding and power cannot extend to them: yea, it can extend to but an infinitely small part of the whole number of individuals, and their circumstances and consequences. Indeed, in order to the disposal of a few things, in their motions and successive changes, to a certain precise issue, there is need of infinite exactness, and so need of infinite power and wisdom.
§ 62. The work of creation, and so the work of upholding all things in being, can, in no sense, be properly said to be the work of any created nature. If the created nature gives forth the word, as Joshua did, when he said, “Sun, stand thou still; 473473 Joshua x. 12. ” yet it is not that created nature that does it. That being that depends himself on creating power, does not properly do any thing towards creation, as Joshua did nothing towards stopping the sun in his course. So that it cannot be true in Dr. Watts’s scheme, that that Son of God, who is a distinct person from God the Father, did at all, in any manner of propriety, create the world, nor does he uphold it or govern it. Nor can those things that Christ often says of himself be true: as “The Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 474474 John v. 17. ” John v. 17,19. “Whatsoever the Father doth, those doth the Son likewise,” John v. 17, 19.; it being very evident, that the works of creating and upholding and governing the world are ascribed to the Son, as a distinct person from the Father.
§ 63. Not only is the word Elohim in the plural number, but it is joined to a verb of the plural number, in Gen. xx. 13. When God caused me to wander from my father’s house. The word hightnu, caused to wander, is in the plural number. This is agreeable to the use of plural verbs, adjectives, and pronouns, in Gen. i. 26. iii. 22. xi. 7. See other instances in Gen. xxxv. 7. Exod. xxxii. ii. 4. compared with Neh. ix. 18., Isa. xvi. 6.
The very frequent joining of the word Elohim, a word in the plural number, with the word Jehovah, a word in the singular number, (as may be seen in places referred to in the English concordance, under the words, Lord God, Lord his God, Lord my God, Lord our God, Lord their God, Lord thy God, Lord your God,) seems to be a significant indication of the union of several divine persons in one essence. The word Jehovah signifies as much as the word Essence, and is the proper name of God with regard to his self-existent, eternal, all-sufficient, perfect, and immutable Essence. Moses seems to have regard to something remarkable in thus calling Elohim, the plural, so often by the singular name, Jehovah; especially in that remark which he makes for the special observation of God’s people Israel, in Deut. vi. 4. “Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord.” In the original, it is Jehovah Elohenu Jehovah Ehadh; the more proper translation of which is, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. The verb is is understood, and properly inserted between Jehovah Elohenu and Jehovah Ehadh, thus, Jehovah Elohenu is Jehovah Ehadh; which, if most literally translated, is thus, Jehovah Our Divine Persons it one Jehovah; as though Moses, in this remark, had a particular reference to the word Elohim being in the plural number, and would guard the people against imagining from thence that there was a plurality of essences or beings, among whom they were to divide their affections and respect.
A further confirmation, that the name Elohim, when used as the name of the True God, signifies some plurality, is, that this same name is commonly, all over the Hebrew Bible, used to signify the gods of the heathens, when many gods are spoken of. See those places in the Hebrew Bible, which are referred to in the English concordance, under the word gods. In Exod. xx. 2, 3. when it is said in the third verse, ” Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The word is the same as in the foregoing verse, where it is said, “I am the Lord thy god, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt. 475475 Deut. v. 6. ” It is Elohim in both verses: I am the Jehovah, thy Elohim: Thou shall have no other Elohim. Yet the latter Elohim is joined with an adjective of the plural number; which seems naturally to lead the children of Israel, to whom God spake these words, to suppose a plurality in the Elohim which brought them out of Egypt, implied in the name Jehovah. Ps. lviii. 11. “Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth; Elohim Shophetim:” Which literally is, Elohim, judges (in the plural number). See the evident distinction made between Jehovah sending, and Jehovah sent to the people, and dwelling in the midst of them, in Zech. ii. 8, 9, 10, 11. and iv. 8, 9, 11. “For thus saith the Lord of hosts, after the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye.” “For behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me. 476476 Zech. ii. 9. ” “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. 477477 Zech. ii. 10. ” “And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee. 478478 Zech. ii. 11. ” “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. 479479 Zech. iv. 8, 9. ” “Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive-trees upon the right side of the candlestick, and upon the left side thereof? 480480 Zech. iv. 11. ” Josh. xxiv. 19. “And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve Jehovah; for he is a holy God, Elohim Kedhoshim.” He is the holy Gods. Not only is the word Elohim properly plural, the very same that is used, ver. 15. the gods which your fathers served, &c. but the adjective holy is plural. A plural substantive and adjective are used here concerning the True God, just in the same manner as in 1 Sam. iv. 8. “Who shall deliver us out of the hands of these mighty Gods.” And in Dan. iv. 8. “In whom is the Spirit of the holy Gods.” So ver. 9, 18. and chap. v. 11. That the plural number should thus be used with the epithet Holy, agrees well with the doxology of the angels, ” Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts,” &c. Isa. vi. and Rev. iv.
§ 6.4. It is an argument, that the Jews of old understood that there were several persons in the Godhead, and particularly, that when the cherubim, in the 6th of Isa., cried, ” Holy, holy, holy, Lord of hosts,” they had respect to three persons: that the seventy interpreters, in several places, where the Holy One of Israel is spoken of, use the plural number; as in Isa. xli. 16. “Thou shall glory in the Holy One of Israel;” in the LXX it is, Greek. Isa. lx. 14. “The Zion of the Holy One of Israel;” it is Greek So Jer. li. 5. “Filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel;” Greek
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