A Body of Doctrinal & Practical Divinity By John Gill-1


A Body of Doctrinal & Practical Divinity

By John Gill

~~ TABLE OF CONTENTS ~~


John Gill, D.D. (1697-1771)
English Particular Baptist Pastor and Theologian

Click Here For A Brief Biography



~~ TABLE OF CONTENTS ~~
A BODY OF DOCTRINAL DIVINITY

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INTRODUCTION

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BOOK I.
OF GOD, HIS WORD, NAMES, NATURE, PERFECTIONS, AND PERSONS.

Of the Being of God † Of the Holy Scriptures † Of the Names of God † Of the Nature of God † Of the Attributes of God † Of the Infinity of God  † Of the Life of God † Of the Omnipotence of God † Of the Omniscience of God † Of the Wisdom of God † Of the Will of God, and its Sovereignty † Of the Love of God †  Of the Grace of God † Of the Mercy of God † Of the Longsuffering of God † Of the Goodness of God † Of the Anger of God † Of the Hatred of God † Of the Joy of God † Of the Holiness of God † Of the Justice of God † Of the Veracity of God † Of the Faithfulness of God † Of the Sufficiency of God † Of the Blessedness of God † Of the Unity of God † Of a Plurality in the Godhead † Of the Personal Relations in Deity † Of the Distinct Personality and Deity of the Father † Of the Distinct Personality and Deity of the Son † Of the Distinct Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit

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BOOK II.
OF THE ACTS AND WORKS OF GOD

Of the Internal Acts of God, and of his Decrees in general † Of the Special Decrees of God, particularly of Election † Of the Rejection of some Angels and some Men † Of the Union of the Elect to God † Of Adoption as an Immanent Act † Of the Everlasting Council † Of the Everlasting Covenant of Grace † Of the Part the Father took in the Covenant † Of the Part the Son of God took in the Covenant † Of Christ as the Covenant Head of the Elect † Of Christ the Surety of the Covenant † Of the Love of God † Of Christ the Testator of the Covenant † Of the Concern the Spirit has in the Covenant † Of the Properties of the Covenant † Of the Complacency and Delight the  Divine Persons had in each other from everlasting

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BOOK III.
OF THE EXTERNAL WORKS OF GOD

Of Creation in General † Of the Creation of Angels † Of the Creation of Man † Of the Providence of God † Of the Confirmation of the Elect Angels, Of the Fall of the Non-elect Angels † Of the Honour and Happiness of Man in Innocence † Of the Law given to Adam, and Covenant with him † Of the Sin and Fall of our First Parents † Of the Nature, Aggravations, and sad Effects of the  Sin of Man † Of the Imputation of Adam’s Sin to all his Posterity † Of the Corruption of Human Nature † Of Actual Sins and Transgressions † Of the Punishment of Sin

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BOOK IV.
OF THE ACTS OF THE GRACE OF GOD TOWARDS AND UPON HIS ELECT IN TIME.

Of the Manifestation and Administration of the Covenant of Grace † Of the Covenant of Grace in the Patriarchal State † Of the Covenant of Grace under the Mosaic Dispensation † Of the Covenant of Grace in the Times of David and the Prophets † Of the Abrogation of the Old Covenant † Of the Law of God † Of the Gospel

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BOOK V.
OF THE GRACE OF CHRIST IN HIS STATES OF HUMILIATION AND EXALTATION, AND IN THE OFFICES EXERCISED BY HIM IN THEM.

Of the Incarnation of Christ † Of Christ’s State of Humiliation † Of the Active Obedience of Christ † Of the Passive Obedience of Christ † Of the Burial of Christ † Of the Resurrection of Christ † Of the Ascension of Christ † Of the Session of Christ at the Right Hand of God † Of the Prophetic Office of Christ † Of the Priestly Office of Christ † Of the  Intercession of Christ † Of Christ’s Blessing his People as a Priest † Of the Kingly Office of Christ † Of the Spiritual Reign of Christ

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BOOK VI.
OF THE BLESSINGS OF GRACE, AND THE DOCTRINES OF IT.

Of Redemption by Christ † Of the Causes of Redemption † Of the Objects of Redemption † Of Scriptures favouring Universal Redemption † Of the Satisfaction of Christ † Of Propitiation, Atonement, and Reconciliation † Of Pardon of Sin † Of Justification † Of Adoption † Of the Liberty of the Sons of God † Of Regeneration † Of Effectual Calling † Of Conversion † Of Sanctification † Of the Perseverance of the Saints

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BOOK VII.
OF THE FINAL STATE OF MEN.

Of the Death of the Body † Of the Immortality of the Soul † Of the Separate State of the Soul † Of the Resurrection of the Body † Of the Second Coming and Personal Appearance of Christ † Of the Conflagration of the Universe † Of the New Heavens and Earth, and their Inhabitants † Of the Millennium, or Personal Reign of Christ † Of the Last and General Judgment † Of the Final State of the Wicked in Hell † Of the Final State of the Saints in Heaven

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A BODY OF PRACTICAL DIVINITY

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BOOK I.
OF THE WORSHIP OF GOD.

Of the Object of Worship † Of Internal Worship, or Godliness † Of the Knowledge of God † Of Repentance towards God † Of the Fear of God † Of Faith in God † Of Trust or Confidence in God † Of the Grace of Hope † Of the Grace of Love † Of Spiritual Joy † Of Peace and Tranquillity of Mind † Of Contentment Of Mind † Of Thankfulness to God † Of Humility † Of Self-Denial † Of Resignation to the Will of God † Of Patience † Of Christian Fortitude † Of Zeal † Of Wisdom or Prudence † Of Godly Sincerity † Of Spiritual Mindedness † Of a Good Conscience † Of Communion with God

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BOOK II.
OF EXTERNAL WORSHIP, AS PUBLIC.

Of a Gospel Church, the Seat of Public Worship † Of the Duties of Church Members to each Other † Of Church Officers, particularly Pastors † Of the Duties of Members to their Pastors † Of the Office of Deacons † Of Church Discipline

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BOOK III.
OF THE PUBLIC ORDINANCES OF DIVINE WORSHIP.

Of Baptism † Of the Lord’s Supper † Of the Public Ministry of the Word † Of Public Hearing the Word † Of Public Prayer † Of the Lord’s Prayer † Of Singing Psalms † Of the Place and Time of Public Worship

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BOOK IV.
PRIVATE WORSHIP, OR OF VARIOUS DUTIES, DOMESTIC, CIVIL, AND
MORAL.

Of the Duties of Husband and Wife † Of the Duties of Parents and Children † Of the Duties of Masters and Servants † Of the Duties of Magistrates and Subjects † Of Good Works in General † A Compendium of the Ten Commands

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A Brief Memoir
of
The Life and Writings of

JOHN GILL, D.D.


The subject of this Memoir was born at Kettering, in Northamptonshire, Nov. 23, O. S. 1697, of amiable and serious parents, Edward Gill, and Elizabeth his wife whose maiden name was Walker. By the indulgent providence of God, they were equally delivered from the snares of poverty and of affluence. „Beneath the dome, above the hut”, by peaceful industry, and genuine religion, they spent their days, a blessing to the pious circle which Heaven had assigned them. The father, Mr. Edward Gill, first became a member of the Dissenting congregation in that place, consisting then of Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists. Besides their pastor, they had a teaching elder of the Baptist denomination, Mr. William Wallis, who was the administrator of baptism, by immersion, to such adult persons among them as desired it. But, at length, the Baptists having been rendered uncomfortable in their communion, by some particular persons, they were obliged to separate, with Mr. William Wallis, their teacher, and soon formed themselves into a distinct church of the Particular Baptist :

As Mr. Gill’s father, and himself, were of this denomination, it may be necessary for some persons to learn what is meant by a Particular Baptist. The Rev. Mr. Benjamin Stinton, who projected a plan of the Baptist History, and who was Mr. Gill’s predecessor in the pastoral office, will inform us:

„There have been two parties among the Antipaedobaptists in England, ever since the beginning of the Reformation; those who have followed the Calvinistic scheme of doctrines, from the principal point therein, „personal election”, have been termed Particular Baptists; and these who have professed the Arminian or Remonstrants’ tenets, have also from the chief of their doctrines, universal redemption, been called General Baptists.”

–Rev. Mr. Stinton’s Manuscript, written in 1714.

In harmony with the above, but more at length, is the definition which is given in the Rules and Orders of the Particular Baptist Fund in London–it is as follows:

„By Particular Baptists are intended those that have been solemnly immersed in water, upon a personal confession of faith; and who profess the doctrines of three divine Persons in the Godhead– eternal and personal election–original sin– particular redemption–efficacious grace in regeneration and sanctification –free justification, by the imputed righteousness of Christ– and the final perseverance of the saints–according to the Confession of Faith that was published [it should be re-published] in London, by the Calvinistic Baptists, in the year 1689.”

Rev. Andrew Fuller is now, and for many years has been, pastor. Mr. Edward Gill was one of their number, and, in due time, was chosen to the office of deacon among them; and, to the very last, obtained a good report for his „grace, his piety, and holy conversation.”

His young son, with the dawn of reason, discovered a fine capacity for instruction; and being soon out of the reach of common teachers, he was very early sent to the grammar school, in the town, which he attended with uncommon diligence, and unwearied application; quickly surpassing those of his own age, and others who were considerably his seniors. Here he continued till he was about eleven years old. During this time, notwithstanding the tedious manner in which grammatical knowledge was then conveyed, besides going through the common school books, he mastered the principal Latin classics, and made such a proficiency in the Greek, as obtained for him marks of distinction from several of the neighbouring clergy, who condescended, occasionally, to examine and encourage his progress, when they met him at a bookseller’s shop in the town, which he constantly attended on market days, when only it was opened. Here he so regularly attended,

„for the sake of consulting different authors, that it became an usual asseveration with the people of the neighbourhood, when speaking of anything which they considered certain, it is as sure, said they, as that John Gill is in the bookseller’s shop.”

And, as the same studious disposition attended him through life, so did nearly the same remark,–those who knew him usually employing this mode of affirmation, „as surely as Dr. Gill is in his study.”

His leaving the grammar-school, so early in life, is attributed to an impropitious accident–the master of it insisted that the children of Dissenters, as well as others, should go with him to church, on weekdays, at the hours of prayer. The parents, considering this as an imposition, removed their children from under his care, and our young friend was among the number. Affluent families placed their children at a distance to finish their education, but this, not being as convenient to his parents, proved a discouraging circumstance. Various methods, however, were devised by his friends, but all proved fruitless. Ministers also, of different denominations, endeavoured to place him under the patronage of one or other of the Funds in London, that he might enjoy the additional advantages, which the most liberal Dissenters provide for the education of young men in their seminaries of learning, who are considered, by competent judges, as persons of real piety, and of promising talents for the work of the ministry. With this view, specimens of his attainments were sent to the proper persons in town, who replied, that he was too young, at present, to be admitted on their foundations; and that should he continue, which was a very supposable thing, to make such rapid advances in his studies, he would pass through the common circle of learning, quite in his juvenile days, before it was usual to employ young persons in the sacred service of the sanctuary. …

Yet, with all the obstructions thrown in the way of his becoming a scholar, such was his thirst for learning, he not only retained the knowledge of the Latin and of the Greek he had acquired, but incessantly improved himself in both. At length he studied logic, rhetoric, as also natural and moral philosophy. He likewise learned Hebrew, without any living assistance, by the help of Buxtorf’s Grammar and Lexicon. With these only he surmounted the chief difficulties of that language, and could soon read Hebrew with great ease and pleasure. In this language he always took particular delight. He was next improving his mind by reading Latin authors in the various branches of literature, and particularly some of those systems of divinity, by the foreign professors, of which he afterwards made so liberal an use, and which give such a distinction to various of his publications.

Yet, though he had arrived at some degree of satisfaction in his mind, concerning the safety of his eternal state, he did not make a public profession of religion until he was almost nineteen years of age. This delay, at first, was occasioned by a consideration of his youth, and the solemnity of making a profession; and, afterwards, by finding that the eyes of the church were upon him to call him to the ministerial work, as soon as convenient, should he become a member of it. To this they were the more inclined, as their pastor, at that time, was greatly taken up in his temporal occupations, and much needed ministerial assistance.

During Mr. Gill’s stay at Higham-Fetters, he frequently preached to the church at Kettering; and, the circumstances of its pastor requiring assistance, Mr. Gill, soon after his marriage, wholly removed thither. Here his ministry, from the beginning, had been blessed, not only to the comfort but to the conversion of many, who long continued the seals of his ministry. Accordingly, as soon as the pastors of the churches, who had been invited to be present on the occasion, came in, the Rev. Mr. John Skepp, author of that valuable book, entitled „Divine Energy”, proposed several questions to the church; which were answered by Mr. Thomas Crosby, a deacon, afterwards author of „The History of the Baptists”; who stated, in the course of what he said, that on the day which had previously been appointed by the church to proceed to the election of a pastor, „Mr. Gill was chosen by a `very great’ majority.” The Rev. Messrs. Matthews and Ridgeway now prayed, when the Rev. Mr. Noble desired the members of the church to recognise their choice of Mr. Gill to the pastoral office. This done, he requested Mr. Gill to confirm his acceptance of the call; which he did with a full and solemn declaration.

Mr. Gill’s `preaching had been very acceptable from the beginning,’ and his `auditory became so numerous, that the place of worship, though a large one, could hardly contain them.’ And now being settled, `his people were very zealous in manifesting their affections towards him, and, to the utmost of their abilities, raised him a suitable maintenance.’

When Mr. Gill, in 1719, settled in London, he became more intimately acquainted than before, with that worthy minister of the Gospel, Mr. John Skepp, pastor of the Baptist church at Cripplegate, London, and author of „The Divine Energy”: the second edition of which book his friend Gill revised, and divided the work into chapters, with contents, for the more easy reading and better understanding it; prefixing a recommendatory preface to it, the memory of that excellent man being dear to him. This gentleman, though he had not a liberal education, yet, after he came into the ministry, through great diligence and industry, acquired a large acquaintance with the languages in which the Scriptures were originally written; and especially with the Hebrew language; in which he took immense pains, under the tuition of a Jew, and dipped into the Rabbinical Hebrew and writings pretty deeply. As Mr. Gill had previously taken great delight in the Hebrew, his conversation with this worthy minister rekindled a flame of fervent desire to obtain a more extensive knowledge of it; and especially of Rabbinical learning, which he then had but little acquaintance with, and scarcely any notion of its utility. But he now began to perceive its importance, and saw it more fully afterwards. This gentleman dying a year or two after, Mr. Gill purchased most of his Hebrew and Rabbinical books; and now went to work with great eagerness, reading them, and many others, which he afterwards obtained of a Jewish Rabbi with whom he became acquainted. He plainly saw, that as the New Testament was written by men who had all of them been Jews, and who, notwithstanding their being inspired, must needs retain and use many of the idioms of their language, and allude to rites, ceremonies, and customs peculiar to that people; so the writings of the Jews, especially the more ancient ones, who lived nearest the times of the apostles, could not but be of use for the better understanding the phraseology of the New Testament, and the rites and customs to which it frequently alludes. With this settled opinion, he set about reading their Targums, the Misnah, the Talmuds, the Rabbot, their ancient Commentaries, the book of Zohar, and whatever else, of this kind, he could obtain. And in a course of between twenty and thirty years’ acquaintance with this class of writings, he collected together a large number of learned observations. Having also, in this time, gone through certain books of the Old Testament, and almost the whole of the New Testament, by way of Exposition, in the course of his ministry, in a method which will be explained hereafter; he put all the expository, critical, and illustrative parts together, and in the year 1745 issued proposals for publishing his Exposition of the whole New Testament, in three volumes, folio. The work meeting due encouragement, it was put to press the same year, and was finished, the first volume in 1746, the second in 1747, and the third in 1748.

In 1752, he published his pamphlet on „The Doctrine of the Saints’ final Perseverance”, in answer to one called „Serious Thoughts upon the Perseverance of the Saints”; written, as it afterwards appeared, by Mr. John Wesley: who, in another pamphlet, first shifted the controversy, from Perseverance, to Predestination; entitling his piece, „Predestination calmly considered”, and then chiefly `harangued on reprobation, which he thought would best serve his purpose.’ To this the Doctor returned an answer the same year, and to the exceptions Mr. Wesley had made to part of his treatise on Perseverance, respecting certain passages of Scripture employed in the controversy. It is very observable in it how `he wanders to free will and irresistible grace, being sometimes for free will, sometimes for free grace; sometimes for resistible and sometimes for irresistible grace.’ Yet `owning,’ Dr. Gill says, `that he had no understanding of the covenant of grace.’ But the Doctor having stated and defended the doctrine of predestination largely from Scripture, next refers Mr. Wesley to the articles of his own church, particularly the seventh, part of which when abridged runs thus: `Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and condemnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour.’ And having made this reference, he solemnly adds, `This is an article agreeable to the Scripture, an article of his own church, an article which he, as a true son of the church, has treacherously departed from, and an article which Mr. Wesley must have subscribed and sworn to; an article which will therefore stare him in the face, as long as subscriptions and oaths stand for anything.’ But Mr. Wesley, through the whole, did not so much as attempt `to refute anyone argument’ advanced by the Doctor in vindication of the certain perseverance of the saints in holiness to eternal felicity.

But that he went into real Antinomianism, either doctrinal or practical, must be peremptorily denied, in the most unqualified terms. Neale, in his „History of the Puritans”, says, that `he was certainly a learned and religious person, modest and humble in his behaviour, fervent and laborious in his ministerial work, and exact in his morals.’ This testimony is sufficient and honourable respecting his Conduct; and, as for his Doctrine, his Sermons speak for themselves. This is the language of one of them. Writing of Christ’s mystical members, he says, `The law continues till the whole body of Christ be made complete, by an actual subsistence of every member in him. Now this seed will not be wholly complete till the consummation of all things.’ But if it be objected that the apostle saith, „Ye are not under the law, but under grace”, he adds, `I answer, that in respect of the rules of righteousness, or the matter of obedience, we are under the law still, or else we are lawless, to live every man as seems good in his own eyes, which I know no true Christian dares so much as think.’ On another Scripture he thus writes: `Men commonly dream of a strange kind of Gospel which never came into God’s mind; that, seeing Christ hath died, they may live as they list, letting themselves loose to all impiety, and yet go to heaven. Certainly, had God opened such a gap to let in such an inundation of impiety, he could never have justly complained of the deluge of it, that overflows the world. Far be it from the holy God, whose purity abhors it, to allow such licentiousness to men. It is true, indeed, that Christ justifies the ungodly, that is, he finds them ungodly when he imputes his righteousness to them; but he doth not leave them ungodly after he hath justified, them, but teacheth them to deny ungodliness. He that denies not ungodliness, him will Christ deny before his Father which is in heaven.’ Also in his Sermon, on „The Revelation of Grace no Encouragement to Sin”; referring to such who are taxed with saying, that their sins are laid upon Christ, that they are believers, and therefore may live in sin, he replies `If there be any such, let me deal plainly with them. For my part I must account them the greatest monsters upon the face of the earth, the greatest enemies to the church that ever were; and I say of such disturbers of the consciences of God’s people, that they are carnal, sensual, devilish. They are the greatest enemies to the free grace of God, the greatest hinderers of the course of it. I dare be bold to say, open drunkards, harlots, and murderers, that profess not the Gospel of Christ, come infinitely short of these in abomination–and if there be any such here, let me tell them, their faith is no better than that of devils, for they believe and tremble; and that Christ will have heavier reckoning with such, when they come to judgment, than with any other under heaven besides.’ Where, in all the regions of practical theology, can be found more explicit, more solemn, and more practical ideas than these? But he took the evangelical road in order to enforce duty, and his reigning principle in preaching seems to be this, which we give in his own words, that „revealing the grace of God is the best way in the world to take men off from sin”. To those remarks it may be necessary only to subjoin; that it will not be easy to find in the whole English language, among the best evangelical and practical writers, any sermons, which, for solidity of matter, precision of ideas, and `the circumnavigation of the subject’ equal, not to say excel, the substance of his four Discourses, in one hundred pages, entitled, „Free Grace the Teacher of good Works”. These should be read before Dr. Crisp is called an Antinomian. But if they are read and understood, and this opprobrious term is yet applied to their author, the charge of Antinomianism may then be fairly brought; but, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, it will righteously apply, not to Dr. Crisp, but to the man who has audacity enough to sin against the law of God and man, by bearing false witness against his neighbour.

Towards the close of his life, as it appears, when the Doctor had narrowly watched the Trinitarian controversy, and long stood in its defence, he seems to have put his finishing hand to a piece which must have cost him immense pains. It is published in the posthumous edition of his Sermons and Tracts, vol ii. p. 534, and is styled, „A Dissertation concerning the Eternal Sonship of Christ”.

The doctrine of A TRINITY OF PERSONS IN THE UNITY OF THE DIVINE ESSENCE; or, of three distinct divine Persons in one God, he considered to be as truly the „fundamental” article of „revealed” religion, as the Unity of God is the foundation of what is called „natural” religion. In stating and defending it, he was decidedly against the many strange representations and comparisons which have been introduced into this subject, some of them to its great disadvantage. But he certainly had „precise ideas” of this sublime mystery; and as he advanced in his discussion of the doctrine of three Persons in the unity of the divine essence he defined his terms.

Dr. Gill universally defended the doctrine of the Trinity, or of a threefold personality in God; but he apprehended that its very foundation is the proper Sonship, or filiation of Christ–the doctrine to which the last tract mentioned above entirely relates; and a doctrine, without the admission of which, he is confident a Trinity of Persons in God cannot be defended. Thus he writes: `It is easy to observe, that the distinction of Persons in the Deity depends on the generation of the Son. Take away that which would destroy the relation between the first and second Persons, and the distinction drops. And that this distinction is natural, or by necessity of nature, is evident, because had it been only arbitrary, or of choice and will, it might not have been at all, or have been otherwise than it is–and then he that is called the Father might have been called the Son, and he that is called the Son might have been called the Father. This has so pressed those who are of a contrary mind as to oblige them to own it might have so happened, had it been agreeable to the will of God.’ That is, if we understand them, that the divine Being, who is necessarily what he is, might never have existed as he does; and that if he had not, God would never have been known as Father, Son, and Spirit, only as God. This seems to be a legitimate conclusion from their sentiments, whether they perceive and admit it or not.

In 1769, he published „A Body of Doctrinal Divinity”, in two volumes, quarto. This work contains the substance of what he delivered from the pulpit to the people under his care, through the space of more than five years. There are but few, if any, theological publications, in the English language, of more deserved repute than these 1091 pages. Here is the Doctor’s whole creed. Here his very heart appears, while he states, maintains, and defends, the Truth as it is in Jesus. His meaning cannot be mistaken. Like the sun, he transmits his own rays with him wherever he goes, and is himself seen in the light which he dispenses. He has his system; and, without a system, he would have considered himself little other than a sceptic; and this Form of sound words, according to divine direction, he held fast in the exercise of faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. He was sensible that systematical divinity had become very unpopular, and says, `Formulas and articles of faith, creeds, confessions, catechisms, and summaries of divine truths, are greatly decried in our age; and yet, what art or science soever but has been reduced to a system? physic, metaphysic, logic, rhetoric, &c. Philosophy in general has had its several systems: not to take notice of the various sects and systems of philosophy in ancient times; in the last age, the Cartesian system of philosophy greatly obtained, as the Newtonian system now does. Astronomy in particular has been considered as a system; sometimes called the system of the universe, and sometimes the solar, or planetary system. In short, medicine, jurisprudence or law, and every art and science, are reduced to a system or body; which is no other than an assemblage or composition of the several doctrines or parts of a science. And why should Divinity, the most noble science, be without a system? Accordingly we find that Christian writers, in ancient times, attempted something of this nature; as the several formulas of faith, symbols or creeds, made in the first three or four centuries of Christianity; the Stromata of Clemens of Alexandria; the four books of Principles, by Origen; with many others that followed. And even those who now cry out against systems, confessions, and creeds, their predecessors had those of their own; Arius had his creed; and the Socinians have their catechism, the Racovian catechism; and the Remonstrants have published their confession of faith; not to mention the several bodies of divinity, published by Episcopius, Limborch, Curcellaeus, and others.’

But labour and literature, abstractedly considered, are not intended to constitute the highest style of man; and as they form not his only excellence, our attention is recalled to the other walks of life, which Providence had assigned him, in each of which he appears to advantage.

He was a genuine dissenter from the Established Religion, as appears by his whole life, and by his little piece, entitled, „The Dissenters’ Reasons for separating from the Church of England”. But as a Dissenter, he considered himself under signal obligations always to discover his love to the Hanoverian succession–no one was a heartier friend to the present family on the throne than John Gill. The „Amor Patriae” roused his best feelings; and in his prayers you might feel the love of his country. It swelled his bosom in his earlier career, and continued with him to the very last of life. Had pride been made for man, with towering ambition we should have introduced part of one of his sections under this article, which he wrote in the time of the great Rebellion; and the page bears his own date at the foot of it, December 2, 1745. Writing on „#Ps 25:3”, „Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause”; or, as he reads it, „act treacherously without cause”, as King David’s subjects did; he adds, `Such are those who are now risen up against our rightful Sovereign King George; a parcel of perfidious, treacherous wretches; some of them who were in the last rebellion, and obtained his father’s pardon; others that partook yearly of his royal bounty, for the instruction of their children, and all have enjoyed the blessings of his mild and gentle Government; and therefore are without cause his enemies.’ This is the heart of a genuine Dissenter–here is the true patriotism–and manifested at a time, when tribes of the national hierarchy had been tacking from one side to another, entirely as it suited their interest. This was the Dissenting minister and pastor of Garter-lane; and as was the shepherd so were his flock.

As a minister, in his early days few persons were more animated than himself; and he gave himself wholly to divine things. His constant studies prepared him for his public work, rendering it easy to himself, and beneficial to his people.

The Doctor not only watched over his people, `with great affliction, fidelity, and love;’ but he watched his pulpit also. He would not, if he knew it, admit anyone to preach for him, who was either cold-hearted to the doctrine of the Trinity; or who denied the divine filiation of the Son of God; or who objected to conclude his prayers with the usual doxology to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as three equal Persons in the one Jehovah. Sabellians, Arians, and Socinians, he considered as in perfect opposition to the Gospel, and as real enemies of the cross of Christ. They dared not ask him to preach, nor could he, in conscience, permit them to officiate for him. He conceived that, by this uniformity of conduct, he adorned the pastoral office.

At Church meetings he was admired; one while for his gentleness and fidelity; and another while for his self-possession and wisdom. And when it was necessary for him to magnify his office (and no one knew better how to do it), he discovered himself to be both the servant of Christ, and the servant of the church for his sake.

During the two last years of his life, he was seldom capable of preaching more than once on a Lord’s Day. This affected the attendance in the congregation. The juvenile part of the audience first attended in other assemblies, and afterwards joined them. Hence it became matter of conversation, whether, on the whole, it might not be desirable to procure constant assistance for the Doctor in his ministerial work.

When young his voice was pretty loud, but, as he advanced in years it was much lower. In the last part of his ministry it became very feeble, but he was generally heard by his audience, and his own people perfectly understood him. And what had abated in the energy of his manner was compensated by the solidity of his matter, and the devotional spirit with which he delivered it.

The Doctor’s person was of the middle stature, neither tall nor short, well proportioned, a little inclined to corpulency; his countenance was fresh and healthful, expressive of vigour of mind, and of a serene cheerfulness, which continued with him almost to the last.

He now gave his Body of Divinity to the world, which was the last thing he ever expected to publish.

His decline increasing daily, he could not appear in the pulpit, and proceed in his delightful work. Notwithstanding, he continued to be employed in his study, till within two or three weeks of his decease, and always appeared calm, serene, and cheerful. He received the warning of his dissolution, being seized for death in his study. BUT HIS FAITH WAS UNSHAKEN, AND HIS HOPE FIRM TO THE LAST.

To his dear relative, the Rev. Mr. John Gill of St. Albans {a}, he thus expressed himself: `I depend wholly and alone upon the free, sovereign, eternal, unchangeable, love of God, the firm and everlasting covenant of grace, and my interest in the Persons of the Trinity, for my whole salvation; and not upon any righteousness of my own; nor on anything in me, or done by me under the influences of the Holy Spirit;’ and then, as confirming what he had said, `not upon any services of mine, which I have been assisted to perform for the good of the church,’ do I depend, `but upon my interest in the Persons of the Trinity; the free grace of God, and the blessings of grace streaming to me through the blood and righteousness of Christ, as the ground of my hope. These are no new things to me, but what I have been long acquainted with; what I can live and die by. I apprehend I shall not be long here, but this you may tell to any of my friends.’

Thus he gloriously terminated his mortal career, without a sigh or groan, on the 14th day of October 1771, at about eleven o’clock in the forenoon, at his house in Camberwell, Surry, aged seventy-three years, ten months, and ten days.

His removal was deeply felt. It spread a solemn gloom over the church in which he had honourably presided more than fifty-one years. They immediately assembled to consult on the best method of showing the last token of respect to their departed, venerable, pastor.

After his decease, most of his printed Sermons and Tracts were collected together and published in three volumes quarto.

We terminate this imperfect Memoir with the subsequent, brilliant, paragraphs; furnishing what we flatter ourselves will be considered one of the first pieces of Biography that has ever appeared in the English language. We are indebted for it to the pen of that elegant and forcible writer, the Rev. Augustus Montague Toplady, A. B. written July 29, 1772.

His Doctrinal and Practical Writings will live, and be admired, and be a standing blessing to posterity, when their opposers are forgotten, or only remembered by the refutations he has given them. While true Religion, and sound Learning, have a single friend remaining in the British Empire, the Works and Name of Gill will be precious and revered.

May the readers of this inadequate sketch, together with him, who (though of a very different denomination from the Doctor) pays this last and unexaggerated tribute of justice to the honoured memory of so excellent a person, participate, on earth, and everlastingly celebrate in heaven, that sovereign grace, which its departed Champion so largely experienced–to which he was so distinguished an ornament–and of which he was so able a defender!

His works are: his Exposition of the Old and New Testament, nine volumes, folio; Exposition of the Canticles; The Cause of God and Truth, each one volume, quarto; Body of Divinity, three volumes, quarto; and Sermons and Tracts, published after his death, in three volumes, quarto.

A Body of Doctrinal & Practical Divinity


Introduction

Having completed an Exposition of the whole Bible, the Books both of the Old and of the New Testament; I considered with myself what would be best next to engage in for the further instruction of the people under my care; and my thoughts led me to enter upon a Scheme of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity, first the former and then the latter; the one being the foundation of the other, and both having a close connection with each other. Doctrine has an influence upon practice, especially evangelical doctrine, spiritually understood, affectionately embraced, and powerfully and feelingly experienced; so true is what the Apostle asserts, that the „Grace of God”, that is, the Doctrine of the Grace of God, „that bringeth Salvation”, the good news, the glad tidings of salvation by Christ, which is peculiar to Gospel Doctrine, „hath appeared to all men”, Gentiles as well as Jews, in the external ministry of the word; teaching us, to whom it comes with power and efficacy in the demonstration of the Spirit, „that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world”, #Tit 2:11,12. Where there is not the doctrine of faith, the obedience of faith cannot be expected. Where there is not the doctrine of the Gospel, and men have not learned Christ, they live for the most part as if there was no God in the world, and give themselves up to work all sin with greediness. And on the other hand, doctrine without practice, or a mere theory and speculative knowledge of things, unless reduced to practice, is of no avail; such are only

„vainly puffed up in their fleshly minds, profess to know God in word, but in works deny him, have a form of godliness without the power of it, a name to live but are dead.”

Doctrine and practice should go together; and in order both to know and do the will of God, instruction in doctrine and practice is necessary; and the one being first taught will lead on to the other. This method of instruction the Apostle Paul has pointed out to us in some of his Epistles, especially in the Epistle to the Ephesians; in which he first treats of Election, Predestination, Adoption, Acceptance in Christ, Redemption and Pardon of Sin, Regeneration and other doctrines of grace, and of the Privileges of the Saints under the Gospel dispensation; and then enforces the several duties incumbent on them as men and Christians, respecting them in their several stations, in the church, in their families, and in the world. So the Apostle instructed Timothy, first to „teach” the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus, the doctrine that is according to godliness and productive of it, and then to „exhort” and press men to the duties of religion from evangelical motives and principles. And he also enjoined Titus to affirm the doctrines of the Gospel with constancy and certainty, to this end,

„that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.”#1Ti 6:2,3 Tit 3:8.

And now having finished my Scheme of Doctrinal Divinity, at the importunity of my friends I have been prevailed upon to publish it.

Systematical Divinity, I am sensible, is now become very unpopular. Formulas and articles of faith, creeds, confessions, catechisms, and summaries of divine truths, are greatly decried in our age; and yet, what art or science soever but has been reduced to a system? physics, metaphysics, logic, rhetoric, &c. Philosophy in general has had its several systems: not to take notice of the various sects and systems of philosophy in ancient times; in the last age, the Cartesian system of philosophy greatly obtained, as the Newtonian system now does. Astronomy in particular has been considered as a system; sometimes called the System of the Universe, and sometimes the Solar or Planetary System: the first that is known is what was brought by Pythagoras into Greece and Italy, and from him called the Pythagorean System; and which was followed by many of the first and ancient philosophers, though for many years, till lay neglected; but has been of late ages revived, and now much in vogue: the next is the Ptolemaic System, advanced by Ptolemy; which places the earth in the centre of the universe, and makes the heavens, with the sun, moon, and stars, to revolve about it; and which was universally embraced for many hundreds of years, till the Pythagorean System was revived by Copernicus, two or three hundred years ago, called, from him, the Copernican System. In short, medicine, jurisprudence or law, and every art and science, are reduced to a system or body; which is no other than an assemblage or composition of the several doctrines or parts of a science; and why should Divinity, the most noble science {1}, be without a system? Evangelical truths are spread and scattered about in the sacred Scriptures; and to gather them together, and dispose of them in a regular orderly method, surely cannot be disagreeable; but must be useful, for the more clear and perspicuous understanding them, for the better retaining them in memory, and to show the connection, harmony, and agreement of them. Accordingly, we find that Christian writers, in ancient times, attempted something of this nature; as the several formulas of faith, symbols, or creeds, made in the first three or four centuries of Christianity; the „Stromata” of Clemens of Alexandria; the four books of Principles, by Origen; the divine Institutions of Lactantius; the large Catechism of Gregory Nyssene; the Theology of Gregory Nazianzen; the Exposition of the Apostles’ Symbol, by Ruffinus; and the Enchiridion of Austin, with many others that followed: and since the Reformation, we have had bodies or systems of divinity, and confessions of faith, better digested, and drawn up with greater accuracy and consistence; and which have been very serviceable to lead men into the knowledge of evangelical doctrine, and confirm them in it; as well as to show the agreement and harmony of sound divines and churches, in the more principal parts of it: and even those who now cry out against systems, confessions, and creeds, their predecessors had those of their own; Arius had his creed; and the Socinians have their catechism, the Racovian Catechism; and the Remonstrants have published their confession of faith; not to take notice of the several bodies of Divinity, published by Episcopius, Limborch, Curcellaeus, and others. The Jews, in imitation of the Christians, have reduced their theology to certain heads or articles of faith; the chief, if not the first that took this method, was the famous Maimonides, who comprised their religious tenets in „thirteen” articles: after him R. Joseph Alba reduced them to three classes, the Existence of God, the Law of Moses, and the Doctrine of Rewards and Punishments.

But what makes most for our purpose, and is worthy of our example, are the Scripture Compendiums or Systems of Doctrine and Duty. What a compendium or body of laws is the „Decalogue” or „Ten Commands”, drawn up and calculated more especially for the use of the Jews, and suited to their circumstances! a body of laws not to be equalled by the wisest legislators of Greece and Rome, Minos, Lycurgus, Zaleucus, and Numa; nor by the laws of the Twelve Roman Tables, for order and regularity, for clearness and perspicuity, for comprehensiveness and brevity; being divided into two tables, in the most perfect order; the first respecting the worship of God and the duties owing to him, and the other respecting men and the mutual duties they owe to each other. As prayer is a very principal and incumbent duty on men with respect to God, our Lord has given a very compendious directory, as to the matter of it, in what is commonly called the „Lord’s Prayer”; which consists of petitions the most full, proper, and pertinent, and in the most regular order. And as to articles of faith or things to be believed, we have a creed, made mention of in #Heb 6:1,2 consisting of six articles; repentance from dead works, faith towards God, the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. These are commonly thought to be so many articles of the Christian faith; but I rather think {2} they are so many articles of the Jewish Creed, embraced and professed by believers under the Jewish dispensation; since the Christian Hebrews are directed to consider them as the principles of the doctrine of Christ, as an introduction, and as leading on to it, and which were in some sense to be „left” and not „laid again”; they were not to stick and stop here, but to go on to perfection, by searching into and embracing doctrines more sublime and perfect, revealed in the Gospel; at least they were not to be any longer instructed in the above articles in the manner they had been, but in a clearer manner, unattended with legal ceremonies, to view them and make use of them. Thus for instance, they, the believers, Christian Hebrews, were not to learn the doctrine of repentance from slain beasts or to signify it by them, as they had been used to do; for every sacrifice brought for sin, which they were no longer obliged to, was a tacit confession and an acknowledgment of sin, and that they repented of it, and deserved to die as the creature did; but now they were to exercise evangelical repentance in the view of a crucified Christ, and remission of sin by his blood: and whereas they had been taught to have „faith towards God”, as the God of Israel, they were now moreover to believe in Christ as the Son of God, the true Messiah, the Saviour of lost sinners, without the intervention of sacrifices. See #Joh 14:1. The „doctrine of baptisms”, is to be understood of the divers baptisms, or bathings among the Jews, spoken of in #Heb 9:10, which had a doctrine in them, teaching the cleansing virtue of the blood of Christ to wash in for sin and for uncleanness; which they were no more to learn in this way, but to apply immediately to the blood of Christ for it. And the doctrine of „laying on of hands” respects the laying on of the hands of the priests and people on the head of the sacrifices, which instructed in that great and evangelical truth, the transfer and imputation of sin to Christ, offered up in the room and stead of his people; and which was to be taught and learnt no longer in that manner, since Christ was now made sin for his people, and had had their sins imputed to him, which he had bore in his own body on the tree: and as for the doctrines of the „resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment”, they were such as distinguished Jews and Gentiles, which latter were greatly strangers to a future state; and though they were common to Jews and Christians, yet the believing Hebrews were not to rest in the knowledge they had of these, as enjoyed under the former dispensation; but to go on to perfection; and to press forward towards a greater share of knowledge of them and of other more sublime doctrines; since life and immortality were brought to light by Christ in a clearer and brighter manner through the Gospel. But all that I mean by this is, that the principal doctrines of faith under the Jewish dispensation are reduced to a system; though to be improved and perfected under the Gospel dispensation. Those articles were but few; though Gregory {3} observes, that according to the increase of times, the knowledge of saints increased, and the nearer they were to the coming of the Saviour the more fully they perceived the mysteries of salvation: and so the articles in the formulas and symbols of the first Christians were but few, suitable to the times in which they lived, and as opposite to the errors then broached; and which were increased by new errors that sprung up, which made an increase of articles necessary; otherwise the same articles of faith were believed by the ancients as by later posterity, as Aquinas concludes by saying {4}:

„Articles of faith have increased by succession of times, not indeed as to the substance, but as to the explanation and express profession of them; for what are explicitly and under a greater number believed by posterity, all the same were believed by the fathers before them, implicitly and under a lesser number.”

It is easy to observe, that the first summaries of faith recorded by the most ancient writers went no further than the doctrine of the Trinity, or what concerns the Three Divine Persons; the doctrines of the heretics of the first ages being opposed to one or other of them: but when other heresies sprung up and other false doctrines were taught, it became necessary to add new articles, both to explain, defend, and secure truth, and to distinguish those who were found in the faith of the Gospel from those that were not.

Mention is made in the New Testament of a „form of doctrine delivered”, and a „form of sound words” that had been „heard” and was to be „held fast”, and of a proportion or analogy of faith, according to which ministers were to prophesy or preach; the first of these is spoken of in #Ro 6:17 –„But ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you”; which is not to be understood of the Scriptures or written word delivered unto them; but of the Gospel and the doctrines of it preached by the apostle in the ministry of the word to the Romans, which they had yielded the obedience of faith unto, and which was tupov, a „type”, or pattern, as the word is rendered, #Heb 8:5 and an „example”, #1Ti 4:12 according to which they were to conform their faith and practice; and which in the next place referred to, #2Ti 1:13 is called upotupwsiv, translated a „pattern”, #Eph 1:16 a form exactly expressed, always to be had in view, to be attended to, and followed; and a delineation, such as a picture or the outlines of a portrait given by painters to their learners, always to be looked unto and imitated; and such a form the apostle proposed to Timothy, carefully to respect and give information of to others as a rule of faith and practice {5}; which cannot be understood of the Scriptures, though of what is agreeable to them; since it is what Timothy had „heard” of the apostle, either in his private conversation, or in his public ministry, even a set of Gospel doctrines collected out of the Scriptures and confirmed by them, reduced into a system; and thus the apostle himself reduces his ministry to these two heads, „repentance towards God”, and „faith towards the Lord” Jesus Christ, #Ac 20:21. And a rich summary and glorious compendium and chain of Gospel truths does he deliver, #Ro 8:30 worthy, as a form and pattern, to Gospel ministers to attend unto, and according to it to regulate their ministrations. Once more, the apostle speaks of a „proportion” or an „analogy of faith”, in #Ro 12:6. „Whether prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith”; by which „faith” Calvin, on the text observes, are meant the first axioms of religion, to which whatsoever doctrine is not found to answer is convicted of falsehood. And so Piscator, upon the words, according to the analogy of faith, that is, so as that the interpretation of Scripture we bring is analogous to the articles of faith, that is, agreeing with them and consenting to them, and not repugnant: and Parseus on the text is more express saying:

„Analogy, is not the same as „measure” (#Ro 12:3) for measure is of one thing measured, but analogy is between two things that are analogous; but the apostle seems to describe something more, namely, to prescribe a rule by which all prophesying is to be directed; therefore by faith others understand the rule of Scripture and the axioms of faith, such as are comprehended in the Symbol of the Apostolic faith (or the Apostles’ Creed) which have in them a manifest truth from the Scriptures. „Analogy” is the evident harmony of faith and consent of the heads (or articles) of faith, to which whatever agrees is true, and whatever disagrees is false and adulterate. This is the rule of all prophesying (or preaching); therefore, according to the rule of the sacred Scripture and the Apostles’ Creed, all interpretations, disputations, questions, and opinions in the church, are to be examined, that they may be conformable thereunto.”

And though what is now called the Apostles’ Creed might not be composed by them, nor so early as their time; yet the substance of it was agreeable to their doctrine, and therefore called theirs; and there was a „regula fidei”, a rule of faith, very near it in words, received, embraced, and professed very early in the Christian church; which Tertullian {6} gives in these words,

„The rule of faith is truly one, solely immoveable and irreformable (not to be corrected and mended); namely, of believing in the only God Almighty, the maker of the world, and in his Son Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, raised from the dead on the third day, received into heaven, sitting now at the right hand of the Father, who will come to judge the quick and dead by or at the resurrection of the dead.”

And such a set of principles these, as or what are similar to them and accord with the word of God, may be called the analogy of faith. And a late writer {7} observes on the word „analogy”;

„The analogy of faith, our divines call the sum of heavenly doctrine concerning articles of faith, taken out of such passages of Scripture, where, as in their proper place, they are treated of in clear and plain words.”

Upon the whole, it seems no ways incongruous with the sacred writings, but perfectly agreeable to them, that articles and heads of faith, or a summary of gospel truths, may be collected from them, to declare explicitly our belief of them, to strengthen the faith of others in them, to show our agreement in them with other Christians in the principal parts of them, and to distinguish ourselves from those who oppose the faith once delivered to the saints.

It is strongly pleaded, that articles and confessions of faith, in which men are to agree, should be expressed in the bare words of the sacred Scriptures, and that nothing should be considered as a fundamental article that is matter of controversy: as to the latter, if that was admitted, there would be scarce any article at all left us to believe; for what is there almost that is believed, but what is controverted by some, nor any passage of Scripture brought in support of it, but the sense of it is called in question, or perverted? for as Clemens of Alexandria {8} says,

„I do not think there is any scripture so happy as to be contradicted by none.”

As to the former, that we are to be tied up to the bare words of Scripture concerning any doctrine of faith delivered in them; though we ought to entertain the highest esteem of the words of Scripture, and have the greatest value for them, as being clothed with such majesty, and having such an energy in them, which the words that man’s wisdom teacheth have not; yet our sense of them cannot be expressed but in words literally varying from them: and it should be settled what is meant by bare words of Scripture, whether of the original text, Hebrew and Greek, or of any translation, as English, &c.; if the words of a translation, a man cannot be sure that this always does express the sense of Scripture, especially in passages difficult and controverted; if of the original, then both he that makes the confession, and they to whom it is made, ought to understand Hebrew and Greek; and even every member of a church where a confession of faith is required in order to communion; and if this is to be made in the bare words of Scripture, be it in the words of a translation, without an explanation of their sense of them in other words, it might introduce into a Christian community all sorts of errors that can be named, which would be utterly inconsistent with its peace, concord, harmony, and union: moreover, to be obliged to express ourselves only in the words of Scripture, would be:

1. To destroy all exposition and interpretation of Scripture; for without words different from, though agreeable to, the sacred Scriptures, we can never express our sense of them, nor explain them to others according to the sense we have entertained of them; and though no scripture is of private interpretation, or a man’s own interpretation, so as to be obliging on others, yet by this means it will become of no interpretation at all, private or public, of a man’s own or of others. It is indeed sometimes said that „Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture”, and which in some respects is true; as when, for the better understanding of a passage of Scripture, another more clear and explicit is set unto it and compared with it, and which serves to throw light on it and give a clearer discernment of it, and of its true sense; but then that light, discernment, and sense, cannot be expressed but in words literally different from them both.

2. To be obliged to express ourselves about divine things in the bare words of Scripture, must tend to make the ministry and preaching of the word in a great measure useless; for them a minister of the word would have nothing else to do but to repeat or read some select passages of Scripture relating to any particular subject, or collect a string of them, which refer to the same subject, and deliver them without attempting any illustration of them, or making use of any reasonings from them, to explain or strengthen any point of doctrine contained in them; so that the people in common may as well, in a manner, stay at home and read the Scriptures in their private houses, as to attend on public ministrations. Surely the apostle Paul, when he:

„reasoned out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead, and that this Jesus whom he preached was Christ, #Ac 17:2,3”

must in these his reasonings, explanations, and allegations, use his own words; which though they accorded with the Scriptures, must literally vary from them out of which he reasoned, and by which he elucidated and confirmed his arguments concerning the Messiahship of Jesus, his suffering of death, and resurrection from the dead: and though he said no other as to substance than what Moses and the prophets said concerning Christ, yet in words different from theirs. According to this scheme all public ministrations must be at an end, as well as all writing in defence of truth and for the confutation of errors; yea:

3. This must in a great measure cramp all religious conversation about divine things, if not destroy it. To what purpose is it for them that fear God to meet frequently and speak often one to another about the things of God and truths of the Gospel, if they are not to make use of their own words to express their sense of these things by them? and how in this way can their Christian conferences be to mutual edification? how can they build up one another in their most holy faith? how can weaker and less experienced Christians receive any advantage from more knowing and stronger ones, if only they are to declare their sense of things in the bare words of Scripture?

4. Indeed, as Dr. Owen says {9}, if this is the case, as it would be unlawful to speak or write otherwise than in the words of Scripture, so it would be unlawful to think or conceive in the mind any other than what the Scripture expresses: the whole of what he says on this subject is worth repeating:

„To deny the liberty, yea, the necessity hereof, (that is, of making use of such words and expressions, as it may be, are not literally and formally contained in Scripture, but only are unto our conceptions and apprehensions expository of what is so contained) is to deny all interpretation of the Scripture, all endeavours to express the sense of the words of it unto the understandings of one another, which is, in a word, to render the Scripture itself altogether useless; if it is unlawful for me to speak or write what I conceive to be the sense of the words of scripture and the nature of the thing signified and expressed by them, it is unlawful for me also to think or conceive in my mind what is the sense of the words or nature of the things; which to say is to make brutes of ourselves, and to frustrate the whole design of God in giving unto us the great privilege of his word.”

5. In this way, the sentiments of one man in any point of religion cannot be distinguished from those of another, though diametrically opposite; so an Arian cannot be known from an Athanasian both will say, in the words of Scripture, that Christ is the „great God”, the „true God”, and „over all God blessed for ever”; but without expressing themselves in their own words, their different sentiments will not be discerned; the one holding that Christ is a created God, of a like but not of the same substance with his Father; the other, that he is equal with him, of the same nature, substance, and glory: and he that believes the latter, surely it cannot be unlawful to express his belief of it in such words which declare the true sense of his mind. So a Sabellian or Unitarian and a Trinitarian, will neither of them scruple to say in Scripture terms what Christ says of himself and his Father, „I and my Father are one”; and yet the former holds, they are one in person or but one person; whereas the latter affirms, that they are one in nature and essence, but two distinct persons; and surely it must be lawful so to express himself, if this is the real sentiment of his mind. A Socinian and an Antisocinian will join in saying that Christ the „Word is God”, and that he is the „only begotten of the Father”, and the „only begotten Son of God”; and yet the one maintains that he is only God by office, not by nature, and that he is the only begotten Son of God by office or by adoption; when the other believes that Christ is God by nature, and that he is the Son of the Father by natural and eternal generation, being begotten by him. It is necessary therefore they should make use of their own words to express their sentiments by, or how otherwise should it be known that they differ from one another? And indeed this seems to be the grand reason why it is urged with so much vehemence, by some, that only Scripture words and phrases should be made use of, that their erroneous tenets may not be detected and exposed; for, as a learned man has observed {10}, such as cavil at the formulas (of sound doctrine used by the orthodox) and plead they should be very short, and composed in the bare words of Scripture „eos aliquid monstri alere”, these nourish and cherish some monstrous notion, as the experience of all ages testify. And sometimes such persons take detached passages of Scripture from different places, and join them together, though they have no connection and agreement with each other; and such a method Irenaeus {11} observes the ancient heretics took, who made use of passages of Scripture:

„that their figments might not seem to be without a testimony; but passed over the order and connection of the Scriptures, and loosened the parts of truth as much as in them lay; and who fitly compares such to one who should take the effigy of a king made of jewels and precious stones by a skilful artificer, and loosen and separate them, and of them make the form of a dog or a fox.”

6. It does not appear that those men who are so strenuous for the use of Scripture phrases only in articles of religion, have a greater value for the Scriptures than others; nay, not so much; for if we are to form a judgment of them by their sermons and writings, one would think they never read the Scriptures at all, or very little, since they make such an infrequent use of them: you shall scarcely hear a passage of Scripture quoted by them in a sermon, or produced by them in their writings; more frequently Seneca, Cicero, and others; and it looks as if they thought it very impolite, and what might serve to disgrace their more refined writings, to fill their performances with them: and after all, it is easy to observe that these men, as the Arians formerly, and the Socinians more lately, carry on their cause, and endeavour to support it by making use of unscriptural words and phrases; and therefore it is not with a very good grace that such men, or those of the same cast with them, object to the use of words and phrases not syllabically expressed in Scripture; and the rather since the Arians were the first that began to make use of unscriptural phrases, as Athanasius affirms {12}. The Athanasians had as good a right to use the word omoousiov as the Arians omoioousiov, and thereby explain their sense and defend their doctrine concerning the person of Christ, and his equality with God, against the latter, who introduced a phrase subversive of it; and the Calvinists have as good authority to make use of the word „satisfaction” in the doctrine of expiation of sin and atonement for it, as the Socinians and Remonstrants have for the use of the word „acceptilation”, whereby they seek to obscure and weaken it. Words and phrases, though not literally expressed in scripture, yet if what is meant by them is to be found there, they may be lawfully made use of; as some respecting the doctrine of the Trinity; of these some are plainly expressed, which are used in treating of that doctrine, as „nature”, #Ga 4:8 „Godhead”, #Col 2:9 „Person”, the person of the Father, and the person of Christ, #Heb 1:3 2Co 2:10 #2Co 4:6 and others clearly signified, as „essence”, by the name of God, „I am what I am”, #Ex 3:14 the „unity” of divine persons in it, #Joh 10:30 a „Trinity” of Persons in the unity of Essence, #1Jo 5:7 the „generation” of the Son by and of the Father, #Ps 2:7 Joh 1:14,18 and others respecting some peculiar doctrines of revelation, concerning the state of men and the grace of Christ; as the „imputation of Adam’s sin” to his posterity, #Ro 5:19 and the „imputation of righteousness”, i.e. of Christ’s to them that believe, which is nearly syllabically expressed in #Ro 4:6 and the „imputation” of sin to Christ, who „was made sin”, i.e. by imputation, #2Co 5:21. And the „satisfaction” of Christ for sin, in all those places where it is signified that what Christ has done and suffered in the room and stead of his people is to the content of law and justice, and God is well pleased with it: and these are the principal words and phrases objected to, and which we shall not be prevailed upon to part with easily. And indeed, words and phrases, the use of which have long obtained in the churches of Christ, and the sense of them, is well known, and serve aptly to convey the sense of those that use them; it is unreasonable to require them to part with them, unless others, and those better words and phrases, are substituted in their room; and such as are proposed should not be easily admitted without strict examination; for there is oftentimes a good deal of truth in that saying, „qui fingit nova verba, nova gignit dogmata”; he that coins new words, coins new doctrines; which is notorious in the case of Arius; for not only Alexander {13}, his Bishop charged him with saying, without scripture, and what was never said before, that God was not always a Father, but there was a time when he was not a Father; and that the Word was not always, but was made out of things that were not; and that there was a time when he was not a Son: but Eusebius {14}, a favourer of his, also owns that the inspired writings never used such phrases, to ex ouk ontwn, kai to, hn pote ote ouk hn, that Christ was „from non-entities”, from things that are not, i.e. was made out of nothing; and that „there was a time when he was not”; phrases, he says, they had never been used to.

The subject of the following Work being „Theology”, or what we call Divinity, it may be proper to consider the signification and use of the word, and from whence it has its rise. I say, what we call „Divinity”; for it seems to be a word, as to the use of it in this subject, peculiar to us; foreign writers never entitle their works of this kind. „Corpus” vel „systema” vel „medulla Divinitatis”, a body or system or marrow of Divinity, but „Corpus” vel „systema” vel „medulla Theologiae”, a body or system or marrow of Theology. The word „Divinitas”, from whence our word Divinity comes, is only used by Latin writers for Deity or Godhead; but since custom and use have long fixed the sense of the word among us, to signify, when used on this subject, a Treatise on the science of divine things, sacred truths, and Christian doctrines, taken out of the scriptures; we need not scruple the use of it. The Jews seem to come nearest to us in the phrase which they use concerning it, calling it {15}, tyhlah vel twhlah tmkx „a Science of Divinity”, or a „divine Science”; that is, a Science or doctrine concerning divine things; concerning God; concerning his divinity and things belonging to him and which, in the main, is the same as to sense with the word „Theology”, as will be seen hereafter and here, before we proceed any further, it may not be improper to observe, the distinction of the Jewish Theology, or the two parts into which they divide it. The first they call tyvarb hvem the work of Bereshith or the creation; for Bereshith being the first word in #Ge 1:1. „In the beginning God created”, they frequently use it to signify the whole work of the creation; so that this part of their Theology respects the creatures God has made, and the nature of them whereby the invisible things of God, as the apostle says, are discerned, even his eternal power and Godhead; and this is their „physics” or „natural Theology”. The other branch is called hbkrm hvem the „work of the chariot” {16}, which appellation is taken from the vision in #Eze 1:1-28 of the four living creatures in the form of a chariot, which is the more abstruse and mysterious part of their Theology; and may be called their „metaphysics” or „supernatural Theology”; and which treats of God, and of his divine attributes; of the Messiah; of Angels, and the souls of men; as in the Book of Zohar, and other cabalistic writings. But to go on.

„Theology” is a Greek word, and signifies a discourse concerning God and things belonging to him; it was first in use among the heathen poets and philosophers, and so the word „Theologue”. Lantantius says {17}, the most ancient writers of Greece were called „Theologues”; these were their poets who wrote of their Deities, and of the genealogies of them; Pherecydes is said to be the first that wrote of divine things; so Thales says {18}, in his letter to him, hence he had the name of „Theologue” {19}; though some make Museus the son of Eumolphus, the first of this sort {20}; others give the title to Orpheus. Pythagoras, the disciple of Pherecydes, has also this character; and Porphyry {21}, by way of eminence, calls him „the Theologue”; and who often in his writings speaks of the „Theologues” {22}; and this character was given to Plato; also Aristotle {23} makes mention of the „Theologues”, as distinct from naturalists, or the natural philosophers; and Cicero {24} also speaks of them, and seems to design by them the poets, or the authors of mystic Theology. The Egyptians had their Theology {25}, which they communicated to Darius, the father of Xerxes; and so had the Magi and the Chaldeans; of whom Democritus is said to learn Theology and Astrology {26}. The priests of Delphos are called by Plutarch {27}, the „Theologues” of Delphos. It is from hence now that these words „Theology” and „Theologues” have been borrowed, and made use of by Christian writers; and I see no impropriety in the use of them; nor should they be thought the worse of for their original, no more than other words which come from the same source; for though these words are used of false deities, and of persons that treat of them; it follows not but that they may be used, with great propriety, of discourses concerning the true God, and things belonging to him, and of those that discourse of them. The first among Christians that has the title of „Theologue”, or „Divine”, is St. John, the writer of the book of the Revelation; for so the inscription of the book runs „the Revelation of St. John the Divine.” In the Complutensian edition, and so in the King of Spain’s Bible, it is „the Revelation of the holy Apostle and Evangelist, John the Divine.” Whether this word „Theologue” or „Divine”, was originally in the inscription of this book, I will not say; but this may be said, that Origen {28}, a very early Christian writer, gives to John the title of the Divine, as it should seem from hence; and Athanasius {29}, in his account of the sacred writings, calls the book of the Revelation, „the Revelation of John the Divine; „and who also styles him, „John the Evangelist and Divine.” These words „Theologue” and „Theology”, are to be met with frequently in the ancient Fathers, in following ages, and in all Christian writers to the present times. Upon the whole, it appears that „Theology”, or „Divinity”, as we call it, is no other than a science or doctrine concerning God, or a discoursing and treating of things relating to him; and that a „Theologue”, or a „Divine”, is one that understands, discourses, and treats of divine things; and perhaps the Evangelist John might have this title eminently given to him by the ancients, because of his writing concerning, and the record he bore to Christ, the logov, the essential Word of God, to his proper Deity, divine Sonship, and distinct personality. Suidas {30} not only calls him the Divine and the Evangelist, but says, that he wrote „Theology”; by which he seems to mean the book of the Revelation, which book some have observed contains a complete body of Divinity. Here we are taught the divine authority and excellency of the sacred scriptures; that there is but one God, and that he only is to be worshipped, and not angels; that God is the Triune God; that there are three Persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that God is eternal, the Creator, and Preserver of all things; that Christ is truly God and truly man; that he is Prophet, Priest, and King; that men are by nature wretched, blind, naked, poor, and miserable; that some of all nations are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; and that they are justified and washed from their sins in his blood; the articles of the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, the sad estate of the wicked, and the happiness of the saints may be observed in it.

And as we are upon this subject, it may not be amiss if we take a brief compendious view of the state of Theology; or, if you please, Divinity, from the beginning of it to the present time. Theology may be considered either as „natural”, which is from the light of nature, and is attained unto through the use and exercise of it, or „supernatural”, which is come at by divine Revelation.

„Natural” Theology may be considered either as it was in Adam before the fall, or as in him and his posterity since the fall. Adam, before the fall, had great knowledge of things, divine as well as natural, moral and civil; he was created in the image of God, which image lay in knowledge, as well as in righteousness and holiness; before he came short of this glory, and lost this image, or at least was greatly impaired and obliterated in him by sin, he knew much of God, of his nature and attributes, of his mind and will, and the worship of him; he had knowledge of the persons in God, of a Trinity of persons who were concerned in the creation of all things, and in his own; and without which he could have had no true knowledge of God, nor have yielded the worship due to each divine person: not that all the knowledge he had was innate, or sprung from the light of nature within himself; but in it he was assisted, and it was capable of being increased by things without, as by symbols, the tree of life in the midst of the garden, &c. by positive precepts relating to the worship of God, and obedience to his will, as the prohibition to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the institution of marriage, &c. and through a constant and diligent contemplation of the works of creation: nor can we suppose him to be altogether without the benefit and advantage of divine Revelation; since he had such a near and immediate intercourse and converse with God himself; and some things he could not have known without it: as the creation of the world, the order and manner of it; his own formation out of the dust of the earth; and the formation of Eve from him, that she was flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, and was designed of God to be his wife, and an helpmeet to him, and who should be the mother of all living; with other things respecting the worship of God, and the manner of it, and the covenant made with him as a federal head to all his posterity that should spring from him. These, with many other things, no doubt, Adam had immediate knowledge of from God himself.

But this kind of Theology appeared with a different aspect in Adam after his fall, and in his posterity; by sin his mind was greatly beclouded, and his understanding darkened; he lost much of his knowledge of God, and of his perfections, or he could never have imagined that going among the trees of the garden would hide him from the presence of God, and secure him from his justice. What a notion must he have of the omnipresence of God? and what also of his omniscience, when he attempted to palliate and cover his sin by the excuse he made? And he immediately lost his familiar intercourse with God, and communion with him, being drove out of the garden: and as for his posterity, descending from him by ordinary generation, they appear to be in the same case and circumstances, without God in the world, without any true knowledge of him, and fellowship with him; they appear to be in the image of the earthly and sinful Adam, and not to have the image of God upon them; they are alienated from the life of God, and their understandings darkened as to the knowledge of divine and spiritual things; and though there are some remains of the light of nature in them, by which something of God may be known by them, even his eternal power and Godhead, by considering the works of creation, or else be inexcusable; yet whatever they know of him in theory, which does not amount to a true knowledge of God, they are without a practical knowledge of him; they glorify him not as God, and serve the creature more than the Creator; yea, what knowledge they have of God is very dim and obscure; they are like persons in the dark, who grope about, if happily they may feel after him, and find him; and what ridiculous notions have they entertained of Deity? and what gods have they reigned for themselves? and have fallen into impiety and idolatry, polytheism and atheism: being without a divine Revelation, they are without the true knowledge of the worship of God; and therefore have introduced strange and absurd modes of worship; as well as are at a loss what methods to take to reconcile God, offended with them for their sins, when at any time sensible thereof; and what means and ways to make use of to recommend themselves to him; and therefore have gone into practices the most shocking and detestable. Being destitute of a divine Revelation, they can have no assurance that God will pardon sin and sinners; nor have they any knowledge of his way of justifying sinners by the righteousness of his Son; which are doctrines of pure Revelation: they can have no knowledge of Christ as Mediator, and of the way of peace and reconciliation, of life and salvation by him, and so can have no true knowledge of God in Christ; „for this is life eternal, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.” There is no saving knowledge of God without Christ; wherefore the light of nature is insufficient to salvation; for though by it men may arrive to the knowledge of a God as the Creator of all things, yet not to the knowledge of Christ as the Saviour of men; and without faith in him there can be no salvation: and though men may by means of it know in some instances what is displeasing to God, and what agreeable to him, what to be avoided, and what to be performed; in which knowledge they are yet deficient; reckoning such things to be no sins which are grievous ones, as fornication, polygamy, suicide, &c. yet even in the things they do know, they do not in their practice answer to their knowledge of them; and did they, they could not be saved by them; for if by obedience to the law of Moses none are justified and saved, then certainly not by obedience to the law and light of nature; none can be saved without faith in Christ, and his righteousness; there is no pardon but by his blood; no acceptance with God but through him: things that the light of nature leaves men strangers to. But of the weakness and insufficiency of natural Theology to instruct men in the knowledge of divine things, destitute of a divine revelation, perhaps more may be said hereafter, when the Theology of the Pagans may be observed.

„Supernatural” Theology, or what is by pure Revelation, may be next considered, in its original rise and progress; and as it has been improved and increased, or has met with checks and obstructions.

The state of this Theology may be considered as it was from the first appearance of it, after the fall of Adam, to the flood in the times of Noah, or throughout the old world. What gave rise unto it, and is the foundation of it, is what God pronounced to the serpent: „It (the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel”: these words contain the principal articles of Christian Theology; as the incarnation of the Messiah, the Saviour of men; who should be „the seed of the woman”, made of a woman, made flesh, and become a partaker of the flesh and blood of those he was to save: and this seems to be understood by our first parents; hence it is thought that Eve imagined that this illustrious person was born of her, when she brought forth her firstborn, saying, „I have gotten a man the Lord”, as some choose to render the word; as Enos, the son of Seth, afterwards was expected to be the Redeemer of the world, according to the Cabalists {31}; and therefore was called Enos, „the man”, the famous excellent man; as they say. Likewise the sufferings and death of Christ in the human nature, by means of the serpent Satan; treading on whom, he, like a serpent, would turn himself, and bite his heel; wound him in his human nature, his inferior nature, called his heel, and so bring him to the dust of death. When the Messiah, by his sufferings and death, would „bruise” his „head”, confound his schemes, destroy his works; yea, destroy him himself, the devil, who had the power of death; and abolish that, and make an end of sin, the cause of it, by giving full satisfaction for it; and so save and deliver his people from all the sad effects of it, eternal wrath, ruin, and damnation. This kind of Theology received some further improvement, from the coats of skin the Lord God made and clothed our first parents with, an emblem of the justifying righteousness of Christ, and of the garments of salvation wrought out by his obedience, sufferings, and death; signified by slain beasts; and which God puts upon his people, and clothes them with, through his gracious act of imputation; and hence they are said to be „justified by blood”: and to which may be added the hieroglyphic of the cherubim and flaming sword, placed at the end of the garden, to observe or point at the tree of life; representing the prophets of the Old, and the apostles and ministers of the New Testament, being placed and appointed to show unto men the way of salvation by Christ the tree of life. And what serves to throw more light on this evangelical Theology, are the sacrifices ordered to be offered up; and which were types of the sacrifice of Christ; and particularly that which was offered up by Abel, who, „by faith” in the sacrifice of Christ, „offered up a more excellent sacrifice than Cain”; which also was a lamb, the firstling of his flock, and pointed at the Lamb of God, who by his sacrifice takes away the sins of his people. Within this period of time men seem to have increased in light, as to the worship of God, especially public worship; for in the times of Enos, the grandson of Adam, men „began to call upon the name of the Lord”. Prayer to God, and invocation of his name, were, no doubt, used before; but men increasing, and families becoming more numerous, they now met and joined together in carrying on social and public worship: and though there were corruptions in practice, within this period of time; wicked Cain, whose works were evil, and who set a bad example to his posterity, he and they lived together, separate from the posterity of Seth, indulging themselves in the gratification of sinful pleasures; and it is said, that in the times of Jared, some descended from the holy mountain, as it is called, to the company of Cain, in the valley, and mixed themselves with them, and took of their daughters for wives; from whence sprung a race of giants and wicked men, who were the cause of the flood. Lamech gave into the practice of bigamy; and Pseudo-Berosus says {32}, that Ham lived a very vicious and profligate life before the flood; yet there does not appear to have been any corruption in doctrine and worship, or any idolatry exercised. Some indeed have pretended {33} that in the days of Enos images were invented, to excite the minds of creatures to pray to God by them as mediators; but this is said without any foundation.

The next period of time in which supernatural Theology may be traced, is from the flood, in the times of Noah, to the giving of the law to Israel, in the times of Moses. Noah was instructed in it by his father Lamech, who expected {34} great comfort from him; and, as some think, in spiritual as well as in civil things, #Ge 5:29 however, he instructed him in the true religion, as it was received from the first man, Adam; and it was taught by Noah, and the knowledge of it conveyed to his posterity, partly in the ministry of the word by him; for he was a „preacher of righteousness”, even of evangelical righteousness, „of the righteousness of faith”; of which he was an heir, and therefore no doubt preached the same to others: and partly by the sacrifices he offered, which were of clean creatures he had knowledge of the distinction of; and which sacrifices were of a sweet savour to God, and were typical of the purity of Christ’s sacrifice for sin, and of the acceptance of it to God, which is to him of a sweet smelling savour. Moreover, the waters of the flood, and the ark in which Noah and his family were preserved, were a type of an evangelical ordinance, the ordinance of baptism; which is an emblem of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; by which men are saved: for Noah and his family going into the ark, where, when the fountains of the great deep were broken up below, and the windows of heaven opened above, they were like persons covered in water, and immersed in it, and as persons buried; and when they came out of it, the water being carried off, it was like a resurrection, and as life from the dead; „the like figure”, or antitype „whereunto”, the Apostle says, „even baptism, doth also now save us, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” signified thereby, #1Pe 3:21 likewise the rainbow, the token of the covenant; which, though not the covenant of grace, yet of kindness and preservation; was an emblem of peace and reconciliation by Christ, the Mediator of the covenant of grace; and may assure of the everlasting love of God to his people, and of the immoveableness of the covenant of his peace with them, #Isa 54:9,10. In the line of Shem, the son of Noah, the knowledge of this kind of Theology was continued: Noah’s blessing of him is thought by the Cabalists {35}, to contain his earnest desire that he might be the Redeemer of men. However, God was the Lord of Shem, known, owned, and professed by him; and he was the father of all the children of Eber. According to the Jews {36} Shem had a divinity school, where the sons of Japheth, becoming proselytes, dwelt; and which continued to the times of Isaac; for he is reported to go thither to pray for Rebecca {37}. Eber also, according to them, had such a school; where Jacob {38} was a minister, servant, or disciple; and so had Abraham in the land of Canaan; and his three hundred trained servants are supposed to be his catechumens; and also in Haran, where Abraham, it is said {39}, taught and proselyted the men, and Sarah the women: however, this we are sure of, that he instructed and commanded his children, and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment, #Ge 18:19. Moreover, as the gospel was preached unto Abraham, #Ga 3:8 there is no doubt but that he preached it to others; and as he had knowledge of the Messiah, who should spring from him, in whom all nations of the earth would be blessed, and who saw his day and was glad; so his grandson Jacob had a more dear and distinct view of him, as God’s salvation, as the Shiloh, the peace maker and prosperous one, who should come, before civil government was removed from the Jews; and when come, multitudes should be gathered to him, #Ge 49:10-18. Idolatry within this period first began among the builders of Babel: some say in the days of Serug {40}; it was embraced by the Zabians in Chaldea, and obtained in the family of Terah, the father of Abraham. The worship of the sun and moon prevailed in the times of Job, in Arabia; who lived about the time of the children of Israel being in Egypt, and a little before their coming out of it; who do not appear to have given into the idolatry of that people. As for Job and his three friends, it is plain they had great knowledge of God and divine things; of the perfections of God; of the impurity of human nature; of the insufficiency of man’s righteousness to justify him before God; and of the doctrine of redemption and salvation by Christ, #Job 14:4 25:4,5 19:25,26 33:23,24.

The next period is from the giving of the law to Israel, by the hand of Moses, to the times of David and the prophets; in which supernatural Theology was taught by types; as the passover, the manna, the brazen serpent, and other things; which were emblems of Christ and his grace, and salvation by him: and by the sacrifices instituted, particularly the daily sacrifice morning and evening, and the annual sacrifices on the day of atonement; which besides all others, were typical of, and led the faith of men to the expiation of sins, to be made by the sacrifice of Christ: the whole ceremonial law, all that related to the priests, their garments, and their work and office, had an evangelical signification; it was the Jews’ gospel, and which led them to Christ, and to an acquaintance with the things of Christ; and to what make him, his grace and righteousness, necessary to salvation; as the evil nature of sin; the insufficiency of men to make atonement for it; to fulfil the law, and bring in a righteousness answerable to it: Moses wrote of Christ, of his prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices, either by type or prophecy: the song of Moses in #De 32:1-52 and of Hannah, #1Sa 2:1-10 very clearly speak of the perfections of God, of his works of providence and grace, and of the Messiah. According to the Jews, there was a divinity school in the times of Samuel. Naioth in Ramah is interpreted {41} an house of doctrine, or school of instruction, of which Samuel was president; where he stood over the prophets, teaching and instructing them, #1Sa 19:18,19 Such schools there were in later times, at Bethel, and Jericho and Gilgal; even in the times of Elijah and Elisha; where the sons or disciples of the prophets were trained up in the knowledge of divine things, #2Ki 2:3,5 4:38 in such a college or house of instruction, as the Targum, Huldah, the prophetess dwelt at Jerusalem, #2Ki 22:14. There were within this time some checks to the true knowledge and worship of God, by the idolatry of the calf at Sinai; of Baalpeor, on the borders of Moab; and of Baalim and Ashtaroth and other deities, after the death of Joshua, and in the times of the Judges.

The period from the times of David including them, to the Babylonish captivity, abounds with evangelic truths, and doctrines of supernatural Theology. The Psalms of David are full of spiritual and evangelic knowledge; many intimations are given of the sufferings and death of Christ, of his burial, resurrection from the dead, ascension to heaven, and session at the right hand of God; and on which many blessings of grace depend, which could never have been known but by divine revelation. And the prophets which followed him speak out still more clearly of the incarnation of Christ; point out the very place where he was to be born, and the country where he would preach the gospel, to the illumination of those that sat in darkness. They plainly describe him in his person, and offices, the sufferings he should undergo, and the circumstances of them, and benefits arising from them; they bear witness to the doctrines of pardon of sin through him, and justification by him; and of his bearing sin, and making satisfaction for it: in short, a scheme of evangelic truths may be deduced from the prophetic writings; and, indeed, the great apostle Paul himself said no other things than what the prophets did. There were some sad revolts from the true God, and his worship, within this compass of time, in the reigns of some of the kings of Israel and Judah; as the idolatry of the calves in the reign of Jeroboam, and others of the kings of Israel; and the idolatries committed in the times of Ahaz, Manasseh, and Amon, kings of Judah, which issued in the captivities of both people.

The period from the Babylonish captivity to the times of Christ, finish the Old Testament dispensation. At the return of the Jews from captivity, who brought no idolatrous worship with them, there was a reformation made by Ezra and Nehemiah, with the prophets of their time; or who quickly followed, as Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi; who all prophesied of Christ the Saviour, and of the salvation that should come by him; with the several blessings of it; and speak of his near approach, and point at the time of his coming, and the work he should do when come. But after the death of these prophets, and the Holy Spirit departed, and there was no more prophecy, supernatural Theology began greatly to decline; and the truths of revelation were neglected and despised; and the doctrines and traditions of men were preferred to the word of God, that was made of none effect by them. The sect of the Sadducees, a sort of free thinker, rose up; who said there was no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit: and the sect of the Pharisees, a sort of free willers, who set up traditions as the rule of mens’ worship, and which rose to an enormous bigness in the times of Christ, who severely inveighed against them; and which in later times were compiled and put together in a volume, called, the „Misnah”, their „Traditional”, or Body of Traditions: and this, in course of time, occasioned a large work finished in Babylon and from thence called the „Babylonian Talmud”; which is their „Doctrinal”, or Body of Doctrine; full of fables, false glosses and interpretations of scriptures; and which is the foundation of the erroneous doctrines and practices of the Jews to this day.

And here I shall take leave to transcribe the interpretation of the vision In#zec 5:6-11. given by that learned man. George Eliezer Edzard {42}, it being very ingenious and uncommon, and much to our present purpose. This learned man observes that the preceding vision of the „flying roll”, describes the sad corruption of manners among the Jews, in the three or four former ages of the second temple; doctrine remaining pretty sound among them; which corruption of manners was punished by the incursions of the Lagidae and Seleucidae, kings of Egypt and Syria, into Judea, as the vision represents. The following vision of a woman sitting in an Ephah, and shut up in it, and then transported by two other women into the land of Shinar; he thus interprets: by the „woman”, who, by way of eminency, is called „wickedness”; is to be understood the impious and false doctrine devised by the Pharisees and Sadducees; and other corrupt doctors of the Jews in the latter times of the second temple, and handed down to posterity; compared to a woman, because it had nothing manly, nothing true, nothing solid in it; and moreover, caused its followers to commit spiritual fornication, and allured to it by its paints, flatteries, and prittle prattle: and it is called „wickedness” because not only the less fundamentals, but the grand fundamentals, and principal articles of faith, concerning the mystery of the Trinity, the Deity of the Son of God, and of the holy Spirit, the person and office of the Messiah, were sadly defiled by it; and in the room of them were substituted, traditions, precepts, and inventions of men; than which greater impiety cannot be thought of; and which issued in the contempt and rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah, sent as the Saviour of the world; and in the persecution of the preachers of the gospel, and putting a stop to the course of it, as much as could be; and which drew with it a train of other sins. The Ephah, he thinks, designs the whole body of the people of the Jews, throughout Judea, Samaria, and Galilee; which Ephah was first seen as „empty”, #Zec 5:6 and this being a dry measure, with which wheat and such like things were measured, the food of the body, a proper type of the heavenly doctrine, the food of the soul: by the emptiness of the Ephah, is intimated, that sound doctrine, about the time of the Messiah’s coming, would be banished out of Judea, and the neighbouring parts; and most of the inhabitants thereof would be destitute of the knowledge of the pure faith. And the wicked woman „sitting in the midst of the Ephah”, and filling it, not a corner of it, but the whole; and is represented not as lying prostrate, but sitting; denotes the total corruption of doctrine, its power and prevalence, throughout Judea, Samaria, and Galilee; obtaining in all places, synagogues, schools, and seats, and pulpits, and among all sorts of inhabitants; the few being crushed who professed the sound doctrine of the Trinity, and of the person and office of the Messiah. And whereas a „talent of lead” was seen „lifted up”; this signifies the divine decree concerning the destruction of the Jews and their polity by the Romans; which should be most surely executed on them, for their corruption of doctrine, and for sins that flowed from thence. The „lifting” up of the talent not only prefigured the near approach of the judgment, but the setting it before the eyes of the people, to be beheld through the ministry of Christ, and his apostles, before it was executed; that while there was hope, if it might be, some might be brought to repentance, and to the acknowledgment of the true Messiah; but this failing of success, the talent was „cast into the ephah”, and upon the woman in it, signifying the destruction of the Jews; of which the angel that talked with Zachariah the prophet, and who was no other than the Son of God, was the principal author; Vespasian, and the Roman army under him, being only ministers and instruments. Not that hereby the woman, or the corrupt doctrine, was wholly extinguished; but it was depressed, and weakened, and reduced, and was among a few only, great numbers of the doctors and disciples of it being slain, and many of both classes being exiled; the temple and city burnt, heretofore the chief seat of it, and the schools throughout Judea destroyed, in which it was propagated. But in process of time the Jews restored some schools in Palestine, as at Jabneh, Zippore, Caesarea, and Tiberias, in the last of which R. Judah Hakkadosh compiled the „Misnah”, about A. D. 150. and after that came out the „Jerusalem Talmud”, A. D. 230. and. after the death of the above Rabbi, his chief disciples went into Babylon, and carried with them the greatest part of the doctors and their scholars out of Palestine: so that doctrine by little and little disappeared in Judea, and entirely about the year 340, when R. Hillell died, the last of those promoted doctors in the land of Israel: and after this scarce anything was heard of the schools and wise men of Palestine; but schools continued in Babylon for many ages; and this is what is meant, in the last part of the symbolic vision of Zechariah, by the Ephah being carried by two women into the land of Shinar, that is, Babylon: by these „two women” are meant the Misnic and Gemaristic doctors; the two heads of which were Raf and Samuel, who went into Babylon a little after the death of R. Judah, the saint, and carried the woman, false doctrine, along with them, these are said to have” wings like storks”, fit for long journeys, to fly with on high, and with swiftness, into remote parts; and fitly describes the above persons transporting their false doctrine into the remote parts of Babylon, far from Palestine; carrying great numbers from thence, which they did without weariness, and with as much celerity as they could: and „the wind” being „in their wings”, denotes the cheerfulness with which the Jewish Rabbins pursued their studies till they had finished their design, the Talmud, which they could not perfect without the impulse and help of an evil spirit, signified by the wind. And here in Babylon they „built an house” for their false doctrine, erected various schools, in which it was taught and propagated; and so it was „established” and „set on its own base”, and continued for eight hundred and twenty years or more. This is the sense which this learned man gives of the vision; on which I shall make no more remarks than I have done, by saying it is ingenious and uncommon, and suits with the subject I am upon, which introduced it, and opens the source of the corruption of doctrine among the Jews, and shows the continuance of it, and the means thereof.

In the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, flourished a set of men called „Schoolmen”; these framed a new sort of divinity, called from them „Scholastic Theology”; the first founder of which some make to be Damascene, among the Greeks; and others Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, among the Latins; though generally Peter Lombard is reckoned the father of these men; who was followed by our countryman Alexander Hales; and after him were Albertus Magnus, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas; and after them Duns Scotus, Durandus, and others; their divinity was founded upon and confirmed by the philosophy of Aristotle; and that not understood by them, and wrongly interpreted to them; for as they could not read Aristotle in his own language, the Greek, they were beholden to the Arabic interpreters of him, who led them wrong. Their theology lay in contentious and litigious disputations; in thorny questions, and subtle distinctions; and their whole scheme was chiefly directed to support antichristianism, and the tenets of it; so that by their means popish darkness was the more increased, and Christian divinity was banished almost out of the world; and was only to be found among a few, among the Waldenses and Albigenses, and the inhabitants of the valleys of Piedmont, and some particular persons and their followers, as Wickliffe, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague; and so things continued till the reformation begun by Zuinglius and Luther, and carried on by others; by whose means evangelical light was spread through many nations in Europe; the doctrines of the apostles were revived, and supernatural theology once more lift up its head; the reformed churches published their confessions of faith, and many eminent men wrote common places, and systems of divinity; in which they all agreed in the main, to support the doctrines of revelation; as of the Trinity, and the Deity of the divine persons in it, those of predestination and eternal election in Christ, of redemption by him, pardon of sin by his blood, and justification by his righteousness.

But Satan, who envied the increasing light of the Gospel, soon began to bestir himself, and to play his old game which he had done with so much success in the first ages of Christianity; having been for a long time otherwise engaged, to nurse up the man of sin, and to bring him to the height of his impiety and tyranny, and to support him in it: and now as his kingdom was like to be shook, if not subverted, by the doctrines of the Reformation; he, I say, goes to his old work again; and revives the Sabellian and Photinian errors, by the Socinians in Poland; and the Pelagian errors, by the Arminians and Remonstrants in Holland; the pernicious influence of which has been spread in other countries; and, indeed, has drawn a veil over the glory of the Reformation, and the doctrines of it. And the doctrines of pure revelation are almost exploded; and some are endeavouring to bring us, as fast as they can, into a state of paganism, only somewhat refined: it is a day of darkness and gloominess; a day of clouds and of thick darkness; the darkness is growing upon us, and night may be expected; though for our relief it is declared, „that at evening time it shall be light.” Almost all the old heresies are revived, under a fond and foolish notion of new light; when they are no other than what have been confuted over and over; and men please themselves that they are their own inventions, when they are the devices of Satan, with which he has deceived men once and again; and when men leave the sure word, the only rule of faith and practice, and follow their own fancies, and the dictates of their carnal minds, they must needs go wrong, and fall into labyrinths, out of which they cannot find their way: „to the law, and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Let us therefore search the Scriptures, to see whether doctrines advanced are according to them or not, which I fear are little attended to. Upon the whole, as I suggested at the beginning of this Introduction, I have but little reason to think the following Work will meet with a favourable reception in general; yet if it may be a means of preserving sacred truths, of enlightening the minds of any into them, or of establishing them in them, I shall not be concerned at what evil treatment I may meet with from the adversaries of them; and be it as it may, I shall have the satisfaction of having done the best I can for the promoting truth; and of bearing a testimony to it.

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{1} „Quo enim et nobilior caeteris omnibus disciplinis est theologia, eo magis accurate sunt ejus dogmata noscenda, ac methodice etiam percipienda”; Amesii Paraenesis ad Studios. Theolog.

{2} See my Exposition of Heb. vi. 1, 2.

{3} Homil. 16. in Ezek. apud Aquin.

{4} Summa Theolog. Sec. sec. qu. i. artic. 7.

{5} Calvin on the passage has these words,

„The apostle seems to me to command Timothy that he be tenacious of the doctrine he had learned, not only as to the substance, but as to the figure of the oration, (or form of speech or set of words used) for upotupwsiv, the word used, is a lively expression of things as if presented to the eye; Paul knew how easy is a lapse or deflection from the pure doctrine, and therefore solicitously cautioned Timothy not to decline from the form of teaching he had received.”

{6} De virgin. veland. c. 1. vid. praescript. haeret. c. 13.

{7} „Analogiam fidei nostrates dicunt summam coelestis doctrinae de articulis fidei e talibus scripturae petitam locis, ubi claris et perspicuis verbis ac, seu in propria sede, de iis agitur”, Stockii Clavis Ling. s. Nov. Test. p. 627.

{8} Stromat. l. 1. p. 277.

{9} The Doctrine of the Trinity vindicated, p. 21.

{10} Witsius in Symbol. Exercitat. 2. s. 21. p. 21.

{11} Adv. Haeres. l. 1. c. 1. p. 33.

{12} Synod. Nicen. contr. haeres. Arian. decret. p. 417.

{13} Apud Socrat. Hist. l. 1. c. 6. vid. Sozomen. Hist. l. 1. c. 15.

{14} Apud Theodoret. Hist. l. 1. c. 12.

{15} Vid. Buxtorf. Talmud. Lex. Col. 752.

{16} Vid. Maimon. praefat. ad More Nevochim, par. 1.

{17} De Ira c. 11.

{18} Apud Laert. l. 1. in vita ejus.

{19} Ib. in vita Pherecydis.

{20} Ib. Prooem.

{21} De Abstinentia, l. 2. c. 36. et de antro Nympharum.

{22} De Abstinentia, l. 2. s. 43, 44, 47, et de antro Nympharum.

{23} Metaphysic. l. 12. c. 6. 10.

{24} De Divinatione, l. 3. c. 2l. vid. Plato de Repub. l. 2. p. 605.

{25} Diodorus Sic. l. 1. p. 85.

{26} Laert. l. 9. in vita ejus.

{27} De defect. Orac. p. 417. vid. ib. 410, 436.

{28} Homil. 2. in Evangel. Joan. 1. 1.

{29} Synops. s. Script. p. 65, 132.

{30} In voce Iwauuhs et in voce Nouuas.

{31} Reuchlin, Cabalae. l. 1. p. 740.

{32} Antiq. l. 3. p. 25.

{33} Juchasin, fol. 134. 2. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 4. 2.

{34} Reuchlin. lb

{35} Reuchlin. ut supra.

{36} Targum Jon. in Gen. ix. 27.

{37} Targ. Jerus. et Jon. in Gen. xxv. 22.

{38} Targ. Onk. et Jon. in Gen. xxv. 27.

{39} Bereshit Rabba, s. 39. fol. 35. l.

{40} Suidas in voce abraam et in voce serou c.

{41} Targum in 1 Sam. xix. 19, 20.

{42} Praefat. ad Annotat. in Tract. Beracot.

{43} Apud. Augustin. de Civ. Dei, l. 4. c. 27.

{44} Apud. Ib. l. 6. c. 5.

{45} Egesippus apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 3. c. 32.

Doctrinal Divinity~Book 1

Chapter 1:

Of The Being of God

Having undertaken to write a System of Theology, or a Body of Doctrinal Divinity; and Theology being nothing else than a speaking of God, or a discoursing concerning him; his nature, names, perfections, and persons; his purposes, providences, ways, works, and word: I shall begin with the Being of God, and the proof and evidence of it; which is the foundation of all religion; for if there is no God, religion is a vain thing; and it matters not neither what we believe, nor what we do; since there is no superior Being to whom we are accountable for either faith or practice. Some, because the being of God is a first principle, which is not to be disputed; and because that there is one is a self-evident proposition, not to be disproved; have thought it should not be admitted as a matter of debate {1}: but since such is the malice of Satan, as to suggest the contrary to the minds of men; and such the badness of some wicked men as to listen to it, and imbibe it; and such the weakness of some good men as to be harassed and distressed with doubts about it at times; it cannot be improper to endeavour to fortify our minds with reasons and arguments against such suggestions and insinuations. And my

1. First argument to prove the Being of a God, shall be taken from the general consent of men of all nations, in all ages of the world; among whom the belief of it has universally obtained; which it is not reasonable to suppose would have obtained, if it was not true. This has been observed by many heathen writers themselves. Aristotle says {2},

„all men have a persuasion of Deity, or that there is a God.”

Cicero observes {3},

„There is no nation so wild and savage, whose minds are not imbued with the opinion of the gods; many entertain wrong notions of them; but all suppose and own the divine power and nature.”

And in another place {4} he says,

„There is no animal besides man that has any knowledge of God; and of men there is no nation so untractable and fierce, although it may be ignorant what a God it should have, yet is not ignorant that one should be had.”

And again {5},

„It is the sense of all mankind, that it is „innate” in all, and is, as it were, engraven on the mind, that there is a God; but what a one he is, in that they vary; but that he is, none denies.”

And to the same sense are the words {6} of Seneca,

„There never was a nation so dissolute and abandoned, so lawless and immoral, as to believe there is no God.”

So Aelianus {7} relates,

„None of the barbarous nations ever fell into atheism, or doubted of the gods whether they were or not, or whether they took care of human affairs or not; not the Indians, nor the Gauls, nor the Egyptians.”

And Plutarch {8} has these remarkable words,

„If you go over the earth, says he, you may find cities without walls, letters, kings, houses, wealth, and money, devoid of theatres and schools; but a city without temples and gods, and where is no use of prayers, oaths, and oracles, nor sacrifices to obtain good or avert evil, no man ever saw.”

These things were observed and said, when the true knowledge of God was in a great measure lost, and idolatry prevailed; and yet even then, this was the general sense of mankind. In the first ages of the world, men universally believed in the true God, and worshipped him, as Adam and his sons, and their posterity, until the flood; nor does there appear any trace of idolatry before it, nor for some time after. The sins which caused that, and with which the world was filled, seem to be lewdness and uncleanness, rapine and violence. Some think the tower of Babel was built for an idolatrous use; and it may be that about that time idolatry was set up; as it is thought to have prevailed in the days of Serug: and it is very probable that when the greater part of the posterity of Noah’s sons were dispersed throughout the earth, and settled in the distant parts of it; that as they were remote from those among whom the true worship of God was preserved; they, by degrees, lost sight of the true God, and forsook his worship; and this being the case, they began to worship the sun in his stead, and which led on to the worship of the moon, and the host of heaven; which seem to be the first objects of idolatry. This was as early as the times Job, who plainly refers to it, #Job 31:26,27. And, indeed, when men had cast off the true object of worship, what more natural to substitute in his room than the sun, moon, and stars, which were above them, visible by them, and so glorious in themselves, and so beneficial to the earth and men on it? Hence the people of Israel were exhorted to take care that their eyes were not ensnared at the sight of them, to fall down and worship them; and which in later times they did. #De 4:19 #2Ki 21:3. It appears also that men took very early to the deifying of their heroes after death, their kings, and great personages, either for their wisdom and knowledge, or for their courage and valour, and martial exploits, and other things; such were the Bel, or Belus, of the Babylonians; the Baalpeor of the Moabites. ;and the Molech of the Phoenicians, and other Baalim lords, or kings, mentioned in the Scriptures: and such were Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Hercules; and the rest of the rabble of the heathen deities; and indeed their Lares, and Penates, or household gods, were no other than the images of their deceased parents, or more remote ancestors, whose memory they revered; and in process of time their deities became very numerous; they had gods many and lords many: even with the Jews, when fallen into idolatry, their gods were according to the number of their cities, #Jer 2:28. And as for the Gentiles, they worshipped almost everything; not only the sun, moon, and stars; but the earth, fire, and water; and various sorts of animals, as oxen, goats, and swine, cats and dogs, the fishes of the rivers, the river horse, and the crocodile, those amphibious creatures; the fowls of the air, as the hawk, stork, and ibis; and even insects, the fly; yea, creeping things, as serpents, the beetle, &c.; as also vegetables, onions, and garlic; which occasioned the satirical poet {9} to say, „O sanctas gentes quibus haec nascuntur in hortis, numina!” O holy nations, whose gods are born in their gardens! Nay, some have worshipped the devil himself, as both in the East and West Indies {10}; and that for this reason, that he might not harm them. Now though all this betrays the dreadful depravity of human nature; the wretched ignorance of mankind; and the sad stupidity men were sunk into; yet at the same time such shocking idolatry, in all the branches of it, is a full proof of the truth and force of my argument, that all men, in all ages and countries, have been possessed of the notion of a God; since, rather than to have no God, they have chosen false ones; so deeply rooted is a sense of Deity in the minds of all men.

I am sensible that to this it is objected, that there have been, at different times, and in different countries, some particular persons {11} who have been reckoned atheists, deniers of the Being of a God. But some of these men were only deriders of the gods of their country; they mocked at them as unworthy of the name, as weak and insufficient to help them; as they reasonably might; just as Elijah mocked at Baal and his worshippers. Now the common people, because they so behaved towards their gods, looked upon them as atheists, as such who did not believe there was any God. Others were so accounted, because they excluded the gods from any concern with human affairs; they thought they were other ways employed, and that such things were below their notice, and not becoming their grandeur and dignity to regard; and had much the same sentiments as some of the Jews had, #Eze 9:9 Zep 1:12. But these men were not deniers of the existence of God, only of his providence as to the affairs of the world: and others have been rather practical than speculative atheists, as the fool in #Ps 14:1 who not only live as if there was no God; but wish in their hearts there was none, rather than believe there is none; that so they might take their fill of sin, without being accountable to a superior Being. The number of real speculative atheists have been very few, if any; some have boldly asserted their disbelief of a God; but it is a question whether their hearts and mouths have agreed; at least they have not been able to maintain their unbelief long {12} without some doubts and fears. And at most this only shows how much the reason of man may be debased, and how low it may sink when left to itself: these few instances are only particular exceptions to a general rule; which is not destroyed thereby, being contrary to the common sense of mankind; even as it is no sufficient objection to the definition of man, as a rational creature, that there is now and then an idiot born of his race, so not to the general belief of Deity, that there is now and then an atheist in the world.

It is further objected, that there have been whole nations in Africa and America, who have no notion of Deity. But this is what has not been sufficiently proved; it depends upon the testimonies of travellers, and what one affirms, another denies; so that nothing can with certainty be concluded from them.

„I should rather question, says Herbert, Lord Cherbury {13}, whether the light of the sun has shone on the remotest regions, than that the knowledge of the Supreme Being is hidden from them; since the sun is only conspicuous in its own sphere; but the Supreme Being is seen in everything.”

Diodorus Siculus {14} says, a few of the Ethiopians were of opinion there was no God; though before he had represented them as the first and most religious of all nations, as attested by all antiquity. The Hottentots about the Cape of Good Hope have been instanced in, as without any knowledge of Deity: and certainly they are a most beastly and brutish people that can be named, and the most degenerate of the human species, and have survived the common instincts of humanity {15}; yet, according to Mr. Kolben’s account of them, published some years ago {16}, they appear to have some sense of a Supreme Being, and of inferior deities. They express a superstitious joy at new and full moons; and it is said they pray to a Being that dwells above; and offer sacrifice of the best things they have, with eyes lifted up to heaven {17}. And later discoveries of other nations, show the contrary to what has been asserted of them; which assertions have arose either from want of intimate knowledge of them, and familiar acquaintance with them, or from their dissolute, wicked, and irreligious lives; when, by conversing with them, it appears that they have a notion of the sun, or sky, or something or another being a sort of deity. Thus it has been observed of the Greenlanders {18}, that

„they had neither a religion nor idolatrous worship; nor so much as any ceremonies to be perceived tending to it: hence the first missionaries entertained a supposition, that there was not the least trace to be found among them of any conception of a divine Being, especially as they had no word to express him by. But when they came to understand their language better, they found quite the reverse to be true, from the notions they had, though very vague and various, concerning the soul, and concerning spirits; and also from their anxious solicitude about the state after death. And not only so, but they could plainly gather from a free dialogue they had with some perfectly wild Greenlanders, that their ancestors must have believed a supreme Being, and did render him some service; which their posterity neglected by little and little, the further they were removed from more wise and civilised nations; till at last they lost every just conception of the Deity; yet, after all, it is manifest, that a faint idea of a divine Being lies concealed in the minds even of this people, because they directly assent, without any objection, to the doctrine of a God, and his attributes.”

And as to what is concluded from the irreligious lives of the inhabitants of some nations, we need not be sent to Africa and America for such atheists as these; we have enough of them in our own nation; and I was just ready to say, we are a nation of atheists in this sense: and, indeed, all men in an unregenerate state, be they Jews or Gentiles, or live where they may, they are ayeoi, „atheists”; as the apostle calls them, #Eph 2:12 they are „without God in the world, being alienated from the life of God”, #Eph 4:18 otherwise there is such a general sense of Deity in mankind; and such a natural inclination to religion, of some sort or another, though ever so bad, that some have thought that man should rather be defined as a religious than a rational animal. I take no notice of the holy angels, who worship God continually; nor of the devils, who believe there is one God and tremble; my argument being only concerned with men.

2. The second argument shall be taken from the law and light of nature; or from the general instinct in men, or impress of Deity on the mind of every man; that is, as soon as he begins to have the exercise of his rational powers, he thinks and speaks of God, and assents to the Being of a God. This follows upon the former, and is to be proved by it; for as Cicero {19} says,

„The consent of all nations in anything, is to be reckoned the law of nature.”

And since all nations agree in the belief of a Deity, that must be a part of the law of nature, inscribed on the heart of every man. Seneca {20} makes use of this to prove there is a God; he says:

„because an opinion or sense of Deity, is „implanted” in the minds of all men.”

And so likewise Cicero, as observed before; and who calls them the notions of Deity implanted and innate. And whoever believes the Mosaic account of the creation of man, cannot doubt of this being his case, when first created; since he is said to be made in the image, and after the likeness of God; for the image of God surely could not be impressed upon him, without having the knowledge of him implanted in him; and though man by sinning has greatly come short of this image and glory of God, yet this light of nature is not wholly obscured, nor the law of nature entirely obliterated in him; there are some remains of it. There are some indeed among us, who deny there are any innate ideas in the minds of men, and particularly concerning God: but to such writers and reasoners I pay but little regard; when the inspired apostle assures us, that even the Gentiles, destitute of the law of Moses, have „the work of the law written in their hearts”, #Ro 2:15 which, as it regards duty to God, as well as man, necessarily supposes the knowledge of him; as well as of the difference between good and evil, as founded upon his nature and will: and though this light of nature is not sufficient to lead men, in their present state, to a true spiritual and saving knowledge of God; yet it furnishes them with such a sense of him, as puts them upon seeking him; „if haply they may feel and grope after him, and find him”, #Ac 17:27. These notices of a divine Being do not flow from the previous instructions of parents and others; but from a natural instinct; at most, they are only drawn forth by instruction and teaching; Velleius, the Epicurean, says {21},

„that there is a Deity nature itself has impressed the notion of on the minds of all men; for what nation, or sort of men, ”

he adds,

„that has not a certain anticipation of it without being taught it, ”

or before taught it, as Julian {22} expresses it: nor do these notices take their rise from state policy; or are the effects of that originally: if this was the case, if it was the contrivance of politicians to keep men in awe, and under subjection, it must be the contrivance of one man, or more united together. If of one, say, who is the man? in what age he lived, and where? and what is his name, or his son’s name? If of more, say, when and where they existed? and who they were that met together? and where they formed this scheme? And let it be accounted for; if it can, that such a number of sage and wise men, who have been in the world; that no man should be able to get into the secret, and detect the fallacy and discover it, and free men from the imposition. Besides, these notices appeared before any scheme of politics was formed; or kings or civil magistrates were in being. Plato {23} has refuted this notion; and represents it as a very pestilent one, both in private and in public. Nor are these notices by tradition from one to another; since traditions are peculiar to certain people: the Jews had theirs, and so had the Gentiles; and particular nations among them had separate ones from each other; but these are common to all mankind: nor do they spring from a slavish fear and dread of punishment; for though it has been said {24}, that fear makes gods, or produces a notion of Deity; the contrary is true, that Deity produces fear, as will be seen in a following argument.

Under this head may be observed the innate desires of men after happiness, which are so boundless as not to be satisfied. Let a man have ever so great a compass of knowledge and understanding; or possess ever so large a portion of wealth and riches; or be indulged with the gratification of his senses to the highest degree; or enjoy all the pleasure the whole creation can afford him; yet after all, according to the wise man, the conclusion of the whole is, „all is vanity and vexation of spirit”, #Ec 2:17. Now these desires are not in vain implanted, there must be an object answerable unto them; a perfect Being, which is no other than God; who is the first cause and last end of all things, of whom the Psalmist says, „Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth my soul desires besides thee”, #Ps 73:25.

3. The third argument, proving the Being of God, shall be taken from the works of creation; concerning which the apostle says, „the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen; being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead”, #Ro 1:20. Plutarch {25}, in answer to a question, Whence have men the knowledge of God? replies,

„They first receive the knowledge of him from the beauty of things that appear; for nothing beautiful is made in vain, nor by chance, but wrought with some art: that the world is beautiful, is manifest from the figure, the colour, and magnitude of it; and from the variety of stars about the world.”

And these so clearly display the Being and power of God, as to leave the heathen without excuse, as the apostle observes; and as this, and other instances, show. Most admirable was the reasoning of a wild Greenlander {26}, which he declared to a missionary to be the reasoning of his mind before his conversion; he said to him,

„It is true we were ignorant heathens, and knew nothing of God, or a Saviour; and, indeed, who should tell us of him till you come? but thou must not imagine that no Greenlander thinks about these things. I myself have often thought: a „kajak” (a boat) with all its tackle and implements, does not grow into existence of itself; but must be made by the labour and ingenuity of man; and one that does not understand it would directly spoil it. Now the meanest bird has far more skill displayed in its structure, than the best „kajak”; and no man can make a bird: but there is still a far greater art shown in the formation of a man, than of any other creature. Who was it that made him? I thought myself that he proceeded from his parents, and they from their parents; but some must have been the first parents; whence did they come? common report informs me, they grew out of the earth: but if so, why does it not still happen that men grow out of the earth? and from whence did this same earth itself, the sea, the sun, the moon, and stars, arise into existence? Certainly there must be some Being who made all these things; a Being that always was, and can never cease to be. He must be inexpressibly more mighty, knowing, and wise, than the wisest man. He must be very good too, because that everything that he has made is good, useful, and necessary for us. Ah, did I but know him, how would I love him and honour him! But who has seen him? who has ever conversed with him? None of us poor men. Yet there may be men too that know something of him. O that I could but speak with such! therefore, ”

he said,

„as soon as ever I heard you speak of this great Being, I believed it directly, with all my heart; because I had so long desired to hear it.”

A glaring proof this, that a supreme Being, the first cause of all things, is to be concluded from the works of creation. The notion of the eternity of the world has been imbibed by some heathens, but sufficiently confuted by others. And even Aristotle, to whom it is ascribed, asserts {27}, that

„it was an ancient doctrine, and what all men received from their ancestors; that all things are of God, and consist by him.”

And those that believe the divine revelation, cannot admit of any other doctrine; but must explode the notion of the eternity of the world, and of its being of itself; since that assures us, that „in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”: also that all things were made, „not of things which do appear”, but out of nothing, #Ge 1:1 Heb 11:3 for, be it, that the heavens and the earth were made out of a chaos, or out of pre-existent matter; it may be reasonably asked, out of what was that pre-existent matter made? the answer must be, out of nothing; since it was by creation, which is the production of something out of nothing: and which can never be performed by the creature; for out of nothing, nothing can be made by that. If therefore all things are originally produced out of nothing, it must be by one that is almighty, whom we rightly call God. No creature can produce itself; this involves such contradictions as can never be admitted; for then a creature must be before it was; as that which makes must be before that which is made: it must act and operate before it exists; and be and not be at one and the same time; which are such glaring contradictions, as sufficiently confute the creature’s making itself; and therefore its being must be owing to another cause; even to God, the Creator; for between a creature and God, there is no medium: and if it could be thought or said, that the most excellent creatures, men, made themselves; besides the above contradictions, which would be implied, it might be asked, why did not they make themselves wiser and better; since it is certain, they have knowledge of beings superior to them? and how is it that they know so little of themselves, either of their bodies or their souls, if both were made by them? and why are they not able to preserve themselves from a dissolution to which they are all subject? It may be further observed; that effects, which depend upon causes in subordination to one another, cannot be traced up „ad infinitum” {28}; but must be reduced to some first cause, where the inquiry must rest; and that first cause is God. Now here is an ample field to survey; which furnishes out a variety of objects, and all proofs of Deity. There is nothing in the whole creation the mind can contemplate, the eye look upon, or the hand lay hold on, but what proclaims the Being of God. When we look up to the heavens {29} above us; the surrounding atmosphere; the air in which we breathe, which compresses our earth, and keeps it together; the stellar space, and spreading sky, bespangled with stars of light, and adorned with the two great luminaries, the sun and moon, especially the former, that inexhaustible fountain of light and heat; and under whose benign influences, so many things are brought forth on earth; whose circuit is from one end of the heaven to the other; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof: when we consider its form, magnitude, and virtue; its proper distance from us, being not so near us as to scorch us; nor so remote as to be of no use to us; the motion given it at first, in which it has proceeded without stopping, but once as is supposed, in the days of Joshua; a motion it has had now almost six thousand years; the course it has steered, and steers, so that all parts of the earth, at one season or another, receive benefit by it; and the way it has been guided in, without varying or erring from it all this while. Whoever reflects on these things, must acknowledge it to be the work of an all wise and almighty agent, we call God; and that it must be upheld, guided, and directed by his hand alone. When we take a view of the earth, of the whole terraqueous globe, hanging on nothing, like a ball in the air, poised with its own weight; the different parts of it, and all disposed for the use of man; stored with immense riches in the heart of it, and stocked with inhabitants upon it; the various sorts of animals, of different forms and shapes, made, some for strength, some for swiftness, some for bearing burdens, and others for drawing carriages, some for food and others for clothing: the vast variety of the feathered birds that cut the air; and the innumerable kinds of fishes that swim the ocean. The consideration of all this will oblige us to say, „Lord, thou art God, which hast made the heaven, earth, and sea; and all that in them is”, #Ac 4:25. In short, there is not a shell in the ocean, nor a sand on the shore, nor a spire of grass in the field, nor any flower of different hue and smell in the garden, but what declare the Being of God: but especially our own composition is deserving of our notice; the fabric of the body, and the faculties of our souls. The body, its form and shape; while other animals look downwards to the earth, „os homini sublime dedit Deus”, as the poet says {30}, man has a lofty countenance given him, to behold the heavens, to lift up his face to the stars; and for what is this erect posture given him, but to adore his Creator? And it is remarkable that there is a natural instinct in men to lift up their hands and eyes to heaven, when either they have received any unexpected mercy, by way of thankfulness for it; or are in any great distress, as supplicating deliverance from it; which supposes a divine Being, to whom they owe the one, and from whom they expect the other. Each of the parts and members of the body are so framed and disposed, as to be subservient to one another; so that „the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee; nor the head to the feet, I have no need of you”. The same may be observed of the other members. The inward parts, which are weak and tender, and on which life much depends, were they exposed, would be liable to much danger and hurt; but these are „clothed with skin and flesh, and fenced with bones and sinews”; and every bone, and every nerve, and every muscle, are put in their proper places. All the organs of the senses, of sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling, are most wonderfully fitted for the purposes for which they are made. Galen, an ancient noted physician, being atheistically inclined, was convinced of his impiety by barely considering the admirable structure of the eye; its various humours, tunics, and provision for its defence and safety. The various operations performed in our bodies, many of which are done without our knowledge or will, are enough to raise the highest admiration in us: as the circulation of the blood through all parts of the body, in a very small space of time; the respiration of the lungs; the digestion of the food; the chylification of it; the mixing of the chyle with the blood; the nourishment thereby communicated; and which is sensibly perceived in the several parts of the body, and even in the more remote; which having been weakened and enfeebled by hunger, thirst, and labour, are in an instant revived and strengthened; and the accretion and growth of parts by all this. To which may be added other things worthy of notice; the faculty of speech, peculiar to man, and the organs of it; the features of their faces; and the shape of their bodies, which all differ from one another; the constant supply of animal spirits; the continuance of the vital heat, which outlasts fire itself; the slender threads and small fibres spread throughout the body, which hold and perform their office seventy or eighty years running: all which, when considered, will oblige us to say, with the inspired Psalmist, „I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well”: and will lead us to ascribe this curious piece of workmanship to no other than to the divine Being, the God of all flesh living {31}.

But the soul of man, the more noble part of him, more fully discovers the original author of him {32}; being possessed of such powers and faculties that none but God could give: it is endowed with an understanding, capable of receiving and framing ideas of all things knowable, in matters natural, civil, and religious; and with reason, to put these together, and compare them with each other, and discourse concerning them; infer one thing from another, and draw conclusions from them: and with judgment, by which it passes sentence on things it takes cognizance of, and reasons upon; and determines for itself what is right or wrong; and so either approves or disapproves: it has a „mind” susceptive of what is proposed unto it; it can, by instruction or study, learn any language; cultivate any art or science; and, with the help of some geographical principles, can travel over the globe, can be here and there at pleasure, in the four parts of the world; and in a short time, visit every city of note therein, and describe the situation of every country, with their religion, manners, customs, &c. it can reflect on things past, and has a foresight of, and can forecast and provide for things to come: it has a „will”, to accept or reject, to embrace or refuse, what is proposed unto it; with the greatest freedom of choice, and with the most absolute power and sovereignty: it has affections, of love and hatred, joy and grief, hope and fear, &c. according to the different objects it is conversant with. There is also the conscience, which is to a man as a thousand witnesses, for him or against him; which, if it performs its office as it should do, will accuse him when he does ill, and commend, or excuse him, when he does well; and from hence arise either peace of mind, or dread of punishment, in some shape or another, either here or hereafter: to which may be added the memory, which is a storehouse of collections of things thought to be most valuable and useful; where they are laid up, not in a confused, but orderly manner; so as to be called for and taken out upon occasion: here men of every character and profession lay up their several stores, to have recourse unto, and fetch out, as their case and circumstances may require. And besides this, there is the „fancy or imagination”, which can paint and describe to itself, in a lively manner, objects presented to it, and it has entertained a conception of; yea, it can fancy and imagine things that never were, nor never will be: and, to observe no more, there is the power of invention; which in some is more, in others less fertile; which, on a sudden, supplies with what is useful in case of an emergency. But above all, the „soul” of man is that wherein chiefly lay the image and likeness of God, when man was in his pure and innocent state; and though it is now sadly depraved by sin, yet it is capable of being renewed by the spirit of God, and of having the grace of God implanted in it, and is endowed with immortality, and cannot die: now to whom can such a noble and excellent creature as this owe its original? but to the divine Being, who may, with great propriety, be called, the Father of spirits, the Lord, the Jehovah, who „formeth the spirit of man within him”.

4. The fourth argument will be taken from the sustaining and government of the world; the provision made for the supply of creatures, and especially of man, and for his safety. As the world, as we have seen, is made by a divine Being, so by him it consists. Was there not such an almighty Being, „who upholds all things by the word of his power”, they would sink and fall. Did he not bear up the pillars of the earth, they would tremble and shake, and not be able to bear its weight: the most stately, firm, and well built palace, unless repaired and maintained, will fall to decay and ruin; and so the grand and magnificent building of this world would soon be dissolved, did not the divine agent that made it, keep it up: as he that built all things is God, so he that supports the fabric of the universe must be so too; no less than an almighty hand can preserve and continue it; and which has done it, without any visible appearance of age or decay, for almost six thousand years; and though there is such a vast number of creatures in the world, besides men, the beasts of the field, and „the cattle on a thousand hills”, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; there is food provided for them all, and they have „every one their portion of meat in due season”: and as for man, he is richly provided for, with a plenty and variety of all good things; not only for necessity, but for delight; every man has a trade, business, and employment of life; or is put into such a situation and circumstances, that, with care, diligence, and industry, he may have enough for himself and family, and to spare: the earth produces a variety of things for food and drink for him; and of others for medicine, for the continuance of health, and restoration of it. And can all this be without the care, providence, and interposition of a wise and almighty Being? Can these ever be thought to be the effects of blind chance and fortune? Is it not plain and clear, that God hereby „has not left himself without a witness of his existence and providence, in that he does good to all his creatures, and gives rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons; filling mens’ hearts with food and gladness”; and continuing the certain and constant revolutions of „summer and winter, seedtime and harvest”; as well as night and day, cold and heat; all which have their peculiar usefulness and advantages to human life; and cannot be attributed to anything else than the superintendency of the divine Being.

And as there is a provision made for the wants of men, so for their safety: were it not that God had put the fear of man upon the wild beasts of the field, and the dread of him in them, there would be no safety for him, especially in some parts of the world; and had he not put a natural instinct into them to avoid the habitations of men, and to resort to woods and deserts, and dwell in uninhabited places; to prowl about for their prey in the night, and in the morning return to their caves and dens, and lurking places; when men go forth to their work, they would be in the utmost danger of their lives: yea, were it not for the overruling providence of God, which governs the world, and restrains the lusts of men, „homo esset homini lupus”; „one man would be a wolf to another”; neither life nor property would be secure; but must fall a prey to the rapine and violence of powerful oppressors. Human laws, and civil magistracy, do something to restrain men, but not everything; notwithstanding these, we see what outrages are committed: and how greater still would be their number, was it not for the interposition of divine providence: and even it is owing to a divine Being that there are human forms of government, and political schemes framed, and laws made for the better regulation of mankind, and these continued; for it is by him „kings reign, and princes decree justice”: and particularly, was it not for a divine agency, such is the rage and malice of Satan, and his principalities and powers, whose numbers fill the surrounding air; and who go about our earth like roaring lions, seeking whom they may devour; were they not chained by almighty power, and limited by the providence of God, the whole race of men would be destroyed by them, at least the godly among them.

5. The fifth argument may be taken from the uncommon heroic actions, prodigies, wonders, and miraculous things done in the world; which cannot be thought to be done without a superior and divine influence. Heroic actions, such as that of Abraham, who, with three hundred household servants, pursued after, and engaged with four kings who had beaten five before, and recovered the goods they had taken away: of Shamgar, who fought with and killed six hundred Philistines with an ox goad: and of Samson, who slew a thousand of them with the jawbone of an ass: of Jonathan, and his armour bearer, who attacked and took a garrison of the same people, and threw a whole army of theirs into a panic and confusion; who had been for some time a terror to the whole land of Israel: and of David, a stripling, fighting with and conquering Goliath, a monstrous giant. These are scripture instances; and if scripture is only regarded as a common history; these merit our notice and credit, as any of the relations in profane history; in which are recorded the magnanimous actions of heroes, kings, and generals of armies; their wonderful successes, and amazing conquests; as of the Babylonians, Persians, Grecians, and Romans; which made such strange revolutions and changes in kingdoms and states; all which can never be supposed to be done without superior power, and the overruling, influencing providence of the divine Being; who inspired men to do things beyond their natural skill and courage; prodigies, strange and wonderful events; for which no natural cause can be assigned; such as the strange sights seen in the air, and voices heard in the temple, before the destruction of Jerusalem; with other things, related by Josephus {33}, and confirmed by Tacitus {34}, an heathen historian; to which might be added many others, which histories abound with: but besides these, things really miraculous have been wrought, such as are not only out of, and beyond the course of nature, but contrary to it, and to the settled laws of it; such as the miracles of Moses and the prophets, and of Christ and his apostles; which are recorded in the scriptures; and others in human writings; which are so well attested as oblige us to give credit to them: now, though these were not done to prove a divine Being; which needs them not; yet they necessarily suppose one, by whose power alone they are performed.

6. The sixth argument may be formed from the prophesies of contingent future events, and the exact fulfilment of them. This is what is challenged and required from heathen deities, to prove their right to such a character; as being what none but God can do: „Let them bring forth and show us what shall happen: or declare us things for to come: show the things that are to come hereafter; that we may know that ye are gods {35}: which is what none but the true God can do, and has done; and which being done, proves there is a God, and one that is truly so; instances of which there are many in the sacred writings; prophesies which relate both to particular persons and to whole kingdoms and states; which have had their exact accomplishment: but not to insist on these, since those who are atheistically inclined, disbelieve the divine revelation; let it be observed, that the heathens have had their auguries, soothsayings, divinations, and oracles; by which pretensions have been made to foretell future events. That there is such a thing as divination, is said to be confirmed by the consent of all nations; and is explained of a presension and knowledge of future things {36}: now this being granted, it may be reasoned upon, that if there is a foretelling of future things, which certainly come to pass, there must be a God; since none but an omniscient Being can, with certainty, foretell what shall come to pass, which does not depend on necessary causes; and cannot be foreseen by the quickest sight, and sharpest wit, and sagacity of a creature.

7. The seventh argument may be urged from the fears of men, and the tortures of a guilty conscience, and the dread of a future state. Some are terribly frightened at thunder and lightning, as Caligula, the Roman Emperor, used to be; who, at such times, would hide himself in, or under his bed; and yet this man set himself up for a god. Now these fears and frights are not merely on account of the awful sound of the thunder, and the dreadful flashes of lightning; but because of the divine and tremendous Being who is supposed to send them: the Heathens were sensible that thunder is the voice of God, as the scriptures represent it, and therefore called their Jove, „Jupiter tonans”; „the thundering Jupiter”. Many have been so terrified in their consciences on account of sin, that they could get no rest, nor enjoy peace any where, or by any means: as Cain, under the terrors of an evil conscience, fancied that „everyone that found him would slay him”: and those wicked traitors, Catiline and Jugurtha: and those wicked emperors, those monsters in impiety, Tiberius and Nero {37}, and especially the latter, who was so tortured in his conscience, as if he was continually haunted by his mother’s ghost, and by furies with burning torches: and Hobbes, our English atheist, as he was reckoned, was wont to be very uneasy when alone in the dark: and Epicurus, the philosopher, though he taught men to despise death, and out brave it; yet, when he perceived that he himself was about to die, was most terribly frightened; and this has been the case of many others: bold and „strong spirits”, as atheistical persons love to be called, have been sometimes found to be very timorous and fearful. And, indeed, this is natural to all men, and which is proof of a superior Being. Thus a wild Greenlander {38} argued, before he had knowledge of the true God:

„Man has an intelligent soul, is subject to no creature in the world; and yet man is afraid of the future state: who is it that he is afraid of there? That must be a great Spirit that has dominion over us, O did we but know him! O had we but him for our friend!”

Now what do all these fears and tortures of conscience arise from, but from the guilt of sin, and a sense of a divine Being; who is above men, and will call them to an account for their sins, and take vengeance on them? And, indeed, the eternal punishment that will be inflicted on them, will greatly lie in the tortures of their conscience, which is the worm that will never die; and, in a sense of divine wrath, which is that fire that will never be quenched.

8. The eighth and last argument shall be taken from the judgments in the world; not only famine, sword, pestilence, earthquakes, &c, but such that have been inflicted on wicked men, atheistical persons, perjured ones, blasphemers, and the like. Not to take notice of the universal flood, which swept away a world of ungodly men; and of the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, with other cities of the plain, by fire and brimstone from heaven; which yet are abundantly confirmed by the testimonies of heathen writers; nor of the awful instances in the New Testament, of Herod being smitten by an angel, and eaten of worms, and died, while the people was shouting him as a God, and he assented to their flattery; and of Ananias and Sapphira, being struck dead for lying unto God: besides these, there are innumerable instances of judgments, of the same or a like kind, in all ages and countries, recorded in the histories of them; and in our nation, and in our age, and within our knowledge; and who now can hear or read such awful judgments, and disbelieve the Being of God?

–End of Chapter–


{1} So Aristotle says, every problem and proposition is not to be disputed; they that doubt whether God is to be worshipped, and parents loved, are to be punished, and not disputed with. Topic. I. 1. c. 9.

{2} De Coelo, l. 1. c. 3.

{3} Tusculan. Quaest. l. 1. c. 13.

{4} De Legibus, l. 1.

{5} De Natura Deorum, l. 2.

{6} Ep. 117.

{7} Var. Hist. l. 2. c. 31. So Plato de Legibus, 1. 10. p. 945.

{8} Adv. Colotem. Vol. II. p. 1125.

{9} Juvenal, Sat. 15. v. 10.

{10} Peter Martyr de Angleria. Decad. l. 1. 9. Vartoman. Navigat. l. 5. c. 12, 23 and l. 6. c. 16, 27.

{11} Plutarch. de Placitis Philosoph. l. 1. c. 7.

{12} Plato observes, that no man that embraced this opinion from his youth, that there is no God, ever continued in it to old age. De Legibus. l. 10. p. 947.

{13} De Relig. Gent. c. 13. p. 225.

{14} Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 148.

{15} See the Philosoph. Transac. Abridged. Vol. V. part 2. p. 154.

{16} See Dr. Watts’s Strength and Weakness of Human Reason, in Vol. II. of his works, p. 262, &c.

{17} See Ovington’s Voyage to Surat, p. 489, 498. and Dampier’s Voyages, Vol. I. p. 541.

{18} Crantz’s History of Greenland, Vol. 1. b. 3. ch. 5. p. 197, 198.

{19} Ut supra.

{20} Ut Supra.

{21} Apud Ciceron. de Natura Deorum, l. 1.

{22} Apud Grotium de jure Belli, l. 2. c. 20. s. 45. Annotat. in ibid. p. 334.

{23} De Legibus, l. 10. p. 948.

{24} „Primus in orbe Deos fecit timor”, Statii Thebaid. l. 3. v. 661.

{25} De Placitis Philosoph. l. 1. c. 6. p. 879.

{26} Crantz’s History of Greenland, ut supra.

{27} De Mundo, c. 6.

{28} amfoterwv de adunaton eiv apeiron ienai, Aristot. Metaphysic. l. 2. c. 2.

{29} „Quis est tam vecors, qui aut cum suspexerit in coelum deos esse non sentiat”, Cicero. Orat. 30. De Harusp. resp. So Plato de Legibus, l. 12. p. 999. Zaleucus apud Diodor. Sicul. l. 12. p. 84. Ed. Rhodeman.

{30} Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1. fab. 2. v. 84, 85. Vid. Ciceronem de Natura Deorum, l. 2. Hence the Greeks call man anyrwpov, from his looking upwards, Lactant. de Orig. err. l. 2. c. 1.

{31} See an excellent treatise of Dr. Nieuwentyt, called, The Religious Philosopher; in which the Being and Perfections of God are demonstrated from the works of creation, in a very great variety of instances.

{32} So Plato proves the Being of God from the soul of man, de Legibus, p. 998.

{33} De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 5. s. 3.

{34} Hist. l. 5. c. 13.

{35} Isaiah xli. 21, 22.

{36} Cicero de Divinatione, l. 1. c. 1. et de Legibus, 1. 2.

{37} Sueton. Vita Tiberii, c. 67. et Nero. c. 34. Tacit. Annal. l. 6. c. 6.

{38} Crantz’s History of Greenland, ut supra.

Doctrinal Divinity~Book 1

Chapter 1:

Of The Holy Scriptures

As what I shall say hereafter concerning God, his essence, perfections, persons, works, and worship, and everything relative to him, will be taken out of the sacred scriptures, and proved by them; it will be necessary, before I proceed any further, to secure the ground I go upon; and establish the divine authority of them; and show that they are a perfect, plain, and sure rule to go by; and are the standard of faith and practice; and to be read constantly, studied diligently, and consulted with on all occasions.

By the Scriptures, I understand the books of the Old and of the New Testament. The books of the Old Testament, are the five books of Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, sometimes called the Pentateuch; the historical books, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the two books of Samuel, the two of Kings, the two of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther; the poetical books, Job, the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Solomon’s Song; the prophetic books, the larger Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, with the Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel; the lesser Prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The books of the New Testament the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul; one of James; two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude, and the Revelation. These books are commonly called Canonical Scripture, because they have been always received by the church into the canon, or rule of faith. The books of the Old Testament, by the Jewish church; with which entirely agree Josephus’s account of them, and the catalogue of them brought from the East by Melito; and the books of both Testaments agree with the account which Origen gives of them in his time, and which have always been acknowledged by the Christian church; and which testimony of both churches, respecting them, deserves our regard, and tends to corroborate their divine authority. Now these are the books which the apostle calls, „all Scripture”, or the whole of Scripture, said by him to be „given by inspiration of God”: which include not only the books of the Old Testament, which had been long in being in his time; but the books of the New Testament, which were all of them then written, excepting the book of the Revelation; since these words of his stand in an epistle supposed to be the last that was written by him; and however what is said by him is true of what might be written afterwards, for the uses he mentions, as well as before.

From these must be excluded, as un-canonical, the books that bear the name of Apocrypha; which are sometimes bound up with the Bible, to the great scandal and disgrace of it; for though there may be some things in them worthy to be read, as human writings; there is such a mixture of falsehood and impiety, that they cannot by any means be allowed to be placed upon an equality with the sacred scriptures. Likewise all such spurious books falsely ascribed to the apostles, or to some of the first Christians; as, The Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus; The Constitutions of the Apostles; Hermes’s Pastor, &c. which carry in them manifest marks of imposture. To which may be added, all human and unwritten traditions, pleaded for by the papists; and all dreams and visions, and pretended revelations and prophecies, delivered out in later ages, by enthusiastic persons. Blessed be God, we have a more sure word of prophecy to attend unto; concerning which, I shall,

1. Observe the divine authority of the Scriptures, or show, that they are from God, or inspired by him; they lay in a claim to a divine original; and the claim is just, as will be seen. They are called the law, or doctrine of the Lord; the testimony of the Lord; the statutes of the Lord; the commandment of the Lord; the fear of the Lord; and the judgments of the Lord; by the Psalmist David, #Ps 19:7-9. And the prophets frequently introduce their prophecies and discourses, by saying, „the word of the Lord came” to them; and with a, „thus saith the Lord”, #Isa 1:10 Jer 2:1,2. And our Lord expressly calls the scripture the word of God, #Joh 10:35 as it is also called, #Heb 4:12. And which God „at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake by the prophets”; and by his Son, and his apostles, in later times, #Heb 1:1,2. And is represented as the oracles of God, and may be safely consulted and depended on; and according to which men are to speak, #Ro 3:2 1Pe 1:11. But before I proceed any further, in the proof of the divinity of the sacred Scriptures, I shall premise the following things.

1a. First, That when we say that the Scriptures are the word of God, or that this word is of God; we do not mean that it was spoken with an articulate voice by him; or written immediately by the finger of God: the law of the Decalogue, or the Ten Commands, indeed, were articulately spoken by him, and the writing of them was the writing of God, #Ex 20:1 31:18 32:15 in which he might set an example to his servants, in later times, to write what might be suggested to them by him; that it might remain to be read: it is enough, that they were bid to write what he delivered to them, as Moses and others were ordered to do, #De 31:19 Jer 30:2 Hab 2:2 Re 1:11,19 and what was ordered by the Lord to be written, it is the same as if it was written by himself; and especially since the penmen wrote as they were directed, dictated and inspired by him, and „spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”; for they did not speak and write of their own head, and out of their own brains, nor according to their will, and when and what they pleased; but according to the will of God, and what he suggested to them, and when he inspired them, #2Pe 1:21.

1b. Secondly, Not all that is contained in the scriptures is of God. Some are the words of others; yea, some are the speeches of Satan, and very bad ones too; as when he suggested that Job was not a sincere worshipper of God; and requested he might have leave to do an injury both to his property and to his person, #Job 1:9-11 2:4-6. So when he tempted our Lord, and moved him to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, and destroy himself; and not succeeding in that, urged him to fall down and worship him, #Mt 4:5,9. But now the penmen of these books, in which these speeches are, were moved and directed by the Lord to commit them to writing; so that though they themselves are not the word of God; yet that they are written, and are on record, is of God; and which was directed to, and done, to show the malice, pride, blasphemy, and impiety, of that wicked spirit. There are also speeches of bad men, as of Cain, Pharaoh, and others, ordered to be written, to discover the more the corruption of human nature: and even of good men, as of Moses, David, Jonah, and particularly the friends of Job, and their long discourses, in which they said not that which was right of God, as Job did; and he himself did not say in every speech of his what was right of God; though he said more, and what was more correct, than they did; and yet these speeches are on record, by divine order, to prove matters of fact, to show the weaknesses and frailties of the best of men. Some of the writers of thee scriptures, as Moses, and the historical ones, being eye and ear witnesses of many things they wrote, could have written them of their own knowledge, and out of their own memories; and others they might take out of diaries, annals, and journals, of their own and former times; yet in all they wrote, they were under the impulse and direction of God; what to leave, and what to take and insert into their writings, and transmit to posterity. So that all they wrote may be truly said to be by divine authority. In the writings and discourses of the apostle Paul, are several quotations out of heathen authors; one out of Aratus, when he was discoursing before the wise men at Athens; „as certain, says he, of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring”, #Ac 17:28. Another out of Menander; „Evil communications corrupt good manners”, #1Co 15:33. And another out of Epimenides, a poet of Crete, a testimony of his against the Cretians, who said they were, „always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies”; which were produced „ad hominum”, for greater conviction; and which he was directed to quote and write in his epistles and discourses, for that reason. So that though the words are not of God, yet that they were quoted and written, was of God.

1c. Thirdly, Let it be observed, that not the matter of the Scriptures only, but the very words in which they are written are of God. Some who are not for organic inspiration, as they call it, think that the sacred writers were only furnished of God with matter, and had general ideas of things given them, and were left to clothe them with their own words, and to use their own style; which they suppose accounts for the difference of style to be observed in them: but if this was the case, as it sometimes is with men, that they have clear and satisfactory ideas of things in their own minds, and yet are at a loss for proper words to express and convey the sense of them to others; so it might be with the sacred writers, if words were not suggested to them, as well as matter; and then we should be left at an uncertainty about the real sense of the Holy Spirit, if not led into a wrong one; it seems, therefore, most agreeable, that words also, as well as matter, were given by divine inspiration: and as for difference of style, as it was easy with God to direct to the use of proper words, so he could accommodate himself to the style such persons were wont to use, and which was natural to them, and agreeable to their genius and circumstances; and this may be confirmed from the testimonies of the writers themselves: says David, one of the writers of the Old Testament, „The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue”, #2Sa 23:2. And the apostle Paul speaks of himself, and other inspired apostles of the New Testament, he says, „Which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth”, #1Co 2:13 and it is „the writing”, or the word of God as written, that is, „by inspiration of God”, #2Ti 3:16. But then,

1d. Fourthly, This is to be understood of the Scriptures, as in the original languages in which they were written, and not of translations; unless it could be thought, that the translators of the Bible into each of the languages of the nations into which it has been translated, were under the divine inspiration also in translating, and were directed of God to the use of words they have rendered the original by; but this is not reasonable to suppose. The books of the Old Testament were written chiefly in the Hebrew language, unless some few passages in Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Esther, in the Chaldee language; and the New Testament in Greek: in which languages they can only be reckoned canonical and authentic; for this is like the charters and diplomas of princes; the wills or testaments of men; or any deeds made by them; only the original exemplar is authentic; and not translations, and transcriptions, and copies of them, though ever so perfect: and to the Bible, in its original languages, is every translation to be brought, and by it to be examined, tried and judged, and to be corrected and amended: and if this was not the case, we should have no certain and infallible rule to go by; for it must be either all the translations together, or some one of them; not all of them, because they agree not in all things: not one; for then the contest would be between one nation and another which it should be, whether English, Dutch, French, &c. and could one be agreed upon, it could not be read and understood by all: so the papists, they plead for their Vulgate Latin version; which has been decreed authentic by the council of Trent; though it abounds with innumerable errors and mistakes; nay, so far do they carry this affair, that they even assert that the Scriptures, in their originals, ought to submit to, and be corrected by their version; which is absurd and ridiculous. Let not now any be uneasy in their minds about translations on this account, because they are not upon an equality with the original text, and especially about our own; for as it has been the will of God, and appears absolutely necessary that so it should be, that the Bible should be translated into different languages, that all may read it, and some particularly may receive benefit by it; he has taken care, in his providence, to raise up men capable of such a performance, in various nations, and particularly in ours; for whenever a set of men have been engaged in this work, as were in our nation, men well skilled in the languages, and partakers of the grace of God; of sound principles, and of integrity and faithfulness, having the fear of God before their eyes; they have never failed of producing a translation worthy of acceptation; and in which, though they have mistook some words and phrases, and erred in some lesser and lighter matters; yet not so as to affect any momentous article of faith or practice; and therefore such translations as ours may be regarded as the rule of faith. And if any scruple should remain on the minds of any on this account, it will be sufficient to remove it, when it is observed, that the Scriptures, in our English translation, have been blessed of God, either by reading them in it, or by explaining them according to it, for the conversion, comfort, and edification of thousands and thousands. And the same may be said of all others, so far as they agree with the original, that they are the rule of faith and practice, and alike useful.

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Here I cannot but observe the amazing ignorance and stupidity of some persons, who take it into their heads to decry learning and learned men; for what would they have done for a Bible, had it not been for them as instruments? and if they had it, so as to have been capable of reading it, God must have wrought a miracle for them; and continued that miracle in every nation, in every age, and to every individual; I mean the gift of tongues, in a supernatural way, as was bestowed upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost; which there is no reason in the world ever to have expected. Bless God, therefore, and be thankful that God has, in his providence, raised up such men to translate the Bible into the mother tongue of every nation, and particularly into ours; and that he still continues to raise up such who are able to defend the translation made, against erroneous persons, and enemies of the truth; and to correct and amend it in lesser matters, in which it may have failed, and clear and illustrate it by their learned notes upon it. Having premised these things, I now proceed to prove the claim of the Scriptures to a divine authority, which may be evinced from the following things.

1. First, From the subject matter of them.

1a. In general there is nothing in them unworthy of God; nothing contrary to his truth and faithfulness, to his purity and holiness, to his wisdom and goodness, or to any of the perfections of his nature; there is no falsehood nor contradiction in them; they may with great propriety be called, as they are, „The Scriptures of truth”, and the „Word of truth”, #Da 10:21 Eph 1:13. There is nothing impious or impure, absurd or ridiculous in them; as in the Al-koran of Mahomet; which is stuffed with impurities and impieties, as well as with things foolish and absurd: or as in the Pagan treatises of their gods; which abound with tales of their murders, adulteries, and thefts; and the impure rites and ceremonies, and inhuman sacrifices used in the worship of them. But,

1b. The things contained in the Scriptures are pure and holy; the Holy Spirit dictated them, holy men spoke and wrote them, and they are justly called „holy Scriptures”, #Ro 1:2 and plainly show they came from the holy God. The doctrines of them are holy; they are doctrines according to godliness, and tend to promote it; they teach and influence men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly: they are indeed, by some ignorant persons, charged with licentiousness; but the charge, as it is false, it is easily removed, by observing the nature of the doctrines, and the effects of them; the precepts the Scriptures enjoin, and the worship they require, are strictly holy; the legal part of them is „holy, just, and good”, #Ro 7:12. It is holy in its own nature, and requires nothing but what is for the good of men, what is but a reasonable service to God, and what is just between man and man; it forbids whatever is evil, strikes at all sorts of sins, and sets them in a just light, exposes and condemns them. And hence it is that there is in natural men, whose carnal minds are enmity to God, such a backwardness, yea, an aversion to reading the Scriptures; because the doctrines and precepts of them are so pure and holy; they choose to read an idle romance, an impure novel, or any profane writings and histories, rather than the Bible; and from whence may be drawn no inconsiderable argument in favour of their being of God. The style of the Scriptures is pure and holy, chaste and clean, free from all levity and obscenity, and from everything that might be offensive to the ear of the chaste and pious. And there are remarkable instances in the marginal readings of some passages in the Hebrew text, to prevent this; and care should be taken in all translations, to make use of language neat and clean; and keep up, as much as may be, to the original purity of the Scriptures.

1c. There are some things recorded in the Scriptures, which could never have been known but by revelation from God himself; as particularly, with respect to the creation of the world, and the original of mankind; that the world was made out of nothing; when made, how, and in what form and order, and how long it was in making; who were the first parents of mankind, when, how, and of what made; hence, without this revelation, men have run into strange, absurd, and extravagant notions about these things. Yea, the Scriptures inform us what was done in eternity, which none but God himself could reveal, and make known to men; as the choice of men in Christ to everlasting salvation, which was from the beginning; not of their being, nor of their conversion, nor of time; but before time, or they or the earth were, even „before the foundation of the world”, #Eph 1:4. And also the council held between the divine Persons, concerning the salvation of man; for as there was a consultation held about making him, so about saving him; which may he called the „council of peace”, #Zec 6:13. When „God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself”, and the scheme of peace and reconciliation, and plan of salvation, were formed and agreed upon: so the covenant of grace made with Christ from eternity, on the behalf of the chosen ones; whose „goings forth in it were of old, from everlasting”; covenanting with his Father for them, and agreeing to be their Surety and Saviour; to become incarnate, and obey and suffer for them, and so work out the salvation of them; representing their persons and taking the charge and care of them, and of all blessings of grace given them, and of all promises made to them, in him, before the world began; in which covenant he was set up as Mediator, „from everlasting, or ever the earth was”, #Pr 8:22,23 Mic 5:2 #2Ti 1:9 Eph 1:3,4. All which could never have been known unless God himself had revealed them.

1d. There are some things recorded in the Scriptures as to the future, which God only could foreknow would be, and foretell with certainty that they should be; and which have accordingly come to pass, and proves the revelation to be of God. Some of them relate to particular persons, and contingent events; as Josiah, who was prophesied of by name, as to be born to the house of David, three or four hundred years before his birth, and what he should do; „offer up the idolatrous priests on Jeroboam’s altar, and burn mens’ bones on it”; all which exactly came to pass, see #1Ki 13:2 compared with #2Ki 23:17,20. Cyrus, king of Persia, also was prophesied of by name, more than two hundred years before his birth, and what he should do; what conquests he should make, what immense riches he should possess; and that he should let the captive Jews go free, without price or reward, and give orders for the rebuilding their temple; all which was punctually fulfilled, #Isa 44:28 45:1-3,13 see #Ezr 1:1-4. Others relate to kingdoms and states, and what should befall them; as the Egyptians, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Assyrians, Babylonians, and others; of whose destruction Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied, and who now are no more, have not so much as a name on earth: and particularly many things are foretold concerning the Jews; as their descent into Egypt, abode and bondage there, and coming from thence with great riches; which was made known to their great ancestor Abraham, before they were, #Ge 15:14 see #Ex 12:35,40,41 their captivity in Babylon, and return from thence after seventy years, #Jer 29:10,11 see #Da 9:2 and all their miseries and afflictions in their last destruction, and present state, are prophetically described in #De 28:1-68 and their exact case, for about nineteen hundred years, is expressed in a few words; as well as their future conversion is prophesied of, #Ho 3:4,5. But especially the prophecies concerning Christ, are worthy of notice; his incarnation and birth of a virgin; the place where he should be born; of what nation, tribe, and family; his sufferings and death, his burial, resurrection, ascension to heaven, and session at the right hand of God: all which are plainly pointed out in prophecy; and which, with many other things relating to him, have had their exact accomplishment in him. To which might be added, predictions of the calling of the Gentiles, by many of the prophets; and the abolition of paganism in the Roman empire; the rise, power, and ruin of antichrist; which are particularly spoken of in the book of the Revelation; great part of which prophetic book has been already fulfilled.

1e. There are some things in the Scriptures, which, though not contrary to reason, yet are above the capacity of men ever to have made a discovery of; as the Trinity of persons in the Godhead; whose distinct mode of subsisting is mysterious to us; the eternal, generation of the Son of God, which is ineffable by us; his incarnation and birth of a virgin, under the power of the Holy Ghost, which is wonderful and amazing; the union of the human nature to his divine person; which is, „without controversy, the great mystery of godliness”: the regeneration of men by the Spirit of God, and the manner of his operation on the souls of men; which, on hearing of, made a master of Israel say, „How can these things be?” and the resurrection of the same body at the last day, reckoned by the Gentiles incredible; and which things, though revealed, are not to be accounted for upon the principles of nature and reason.

1f. The things contained in the Scriptures, whether doctrines or facts, are harmonious; the doctrines, though delivered at sundry times, and in divers manners, are all of a piece; no yea and nay, no discord and disagreement among them; the two Testaments „are like two young roes that are twins”; to which some think they are compared in #So 4:5 7:3 and to the Cherubim over the mercy seat, which were of one beaten piece, were exactly alike, and looked to one another, and both to the mercy seat; a type of Christ, who is the foundation of the apostles and prophets, in which they unite, and both agree to lay; the apostle Paul said none other things than what Moses and the prophets did say should be. And as to historical facts, what seeming contradictions may be observed in any of them, are easily reconciled, with a little care, diligence, and study; and some of these arise from the carelessness of transcribers putting one word or letter for another; and even these instances are but few, and not very material; and which never affect any article of faith or practice: such care has divine providence taken of these peculiar and important writings, which with the harmony of them show them to be of God.

2. Secondly, The style and manner in which the Scriptures are written, is a further evidence of their divine original; the majesty in which they appear, the authoritative manner in which they are delivered; not asking, but demanding, attention and assent unto them; and which commands reverence and acceptance of them; the figures used to engage hereunto are inimitable by creatures; and such as would be daring and presumptuous for any but God to use, with whom is terrible majesty; such as, „Hear, O heavens”, and „I will speak”, #De 32:1 Isa 1:2 the sublimity of the style is such as exceeds all other writings: Longinus, an heathen orator, who wrote „upon the Sublime”, admired some passages in the writings of Moses, particularly #Ge 1:3. That early composition, the book of Job, abounds with such strong and lofty expressions as are not to be found in human writings, especially the speeches Jehovah himself delivered out of the whirlwind, #Job 38:1-41:34 the book of Psalms is full of bright figures and inimitable language, particularly see #Ps 18:7-15 29:3-10 113:3-8 139:7-12. The prophecies of Isaiah are fraught with a rich treasure of divine elocution, which surpasses all that is to be met with in the writings of men; and it is remarkable, that in some of the inspired writers, who have been bred up in a rustic manner, are found some of the most grand images, and lively picturesque, and highest flights of language, as in Amos the herdman, #Am 4:13 9:2,6.

3. Thirdly, Another argument for the divine authority of the Scriptures may be taken from the penmen and writers of them.

3a. Many of these were men of no education, in a low station of life, and were taken from the flock, or from the herd, or from their nets, or other mean employments; and what they wrote, both as to matter and manner, were above and beyond their ordinary capacities, and therefore must be of God; what they wrote could not be of themselves; but they „spake and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”.

3b. They lived in different times and places, and were of different interests and capacities, and in different conditions and circumstances; and yet they were all of the same sentiment, they speak and write the same things, deliver out the same truths and doctrines, and enjoin the same moral duties of religion, and the same positive precepts, according to the different dispensations under which they were; and this shows that they were dictated, and influenced in all, by the same Spirit of God.

3c. They were holy and good men, partakers of the grace of God; and therefore could never give into an imposture, nor deliver out a known lie, nor obtrude a falsehood upon the world.

3d. They appear to be plain, honest, and faithful men; they conceal not their own failings and infirmities; so Moses published his own weaknesses and mistakes, and spared not the blemishes of his family; not of his more remote ancestor Levi, in the case of the Shechemites; nor of his immediate parents, their illegal marriage; nor of his favourite people the Israelites, their rebellion and obstinacy, and idolatry: and the same may be observed of other inspired writers.

3e. They were disinterested men; they sought not popular applause, nor worldly wealth, nor to aggrandize themselves and their families. Moses, when it was offered to him, by the Lord, to make of him a great nation, and cut off the people of Israel for their sins, refused it more than once; preferring the public good of that people to his own advantage; and though he was king in Jeshurun, he was not careful to have any of his posterity to succeed him in his office; and though the priesthood was conferred on Aaron his brother, and his sons, yet no other provision was made for his own family, than to attend the lower services of the tabernacle in common with the rest of his tribe: and of this disposition were the apostles of Christ, who left all, and followed him; and sought not the wealth of men, nor honour from them; but, on the contrary, exposed themselves to reproach, poverty, vexation, and trouble; yea, to persecution, and death itself; which they would never have done, had they not been fully satisfied of their mission of God, and of their message from him; and therefore could not be deterred from speaking and writing in his name, by the terrors and menaces of men, and by all the afflictions, bonds, and persecution, and death in every shape, which awaited them. In short, the writers of the Scriptures seem to be men that neither could be imposed upon themselves, nor sought to impose on others; nor would it have been easy, had they been bad men, to have succeeded, had they attempted it.

4. Fourthly, Another argument may be drawn from the many wonderful effects the sacred writings, attended with a divine power and influence, have had upon the hearts and lives of men. Many have been converted from error, superstition, and idolatry, and from a vicious course of life, to embrace and profess the truth, and to live a holy life and conversation, upon reading the Scriptures, or hearing them explained; and even some of great natural parts and learning, who could not easily be prevailed upon to relinquish former tenets and practices, had they not had full and clear conviction of them. This „Word of God has been quick and powerful, sharper than a twoedged sword”; it has pierced and penetrated into the recesses of the heart, and laid open the secrets of it; it has been the means of enlightening the mind, quickening the soul, regenerating and sanctifying the heart, and of producing faith, and every other, grace in it, and of strengthening, comforting, and reviving the spirits of the people of God when in distress, by afflictions, or Satan’s temptations; so that every good man has a testimony within himself of its divine authority; see #1Jo 5:9,10.

5. Fifthly, The testimony bore to the Scriptures by miracles, abundantly confirm the genuineness of them, and that they are of God; such as were done by Moses, and the prophets of the Old Testament, and by the apostles of the New; even such as are above, and contrary to the laws of nature, and are beyond the power of a creature to perform, and which only Omnipotence itself could work: now these God would never do to establish the character of impostors, or to confirm a lie; which yet he has done to witness the truth of divine revelation; see #Mr 16:20 Heb 2:3,4.

6. Sixthly, The hatred and opposition of men, and the enmity of devils, to them, afford no inconsiderable argument in favour of the divinity of them; for were they of men, they would not have such a disgust at them, and disapprobation of them, and make such opposition to them: by this are to be known the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error; what is of the world, and merely human, is approved by the men of the world; but what is of God is rejected, #1Jo 4:5,6 and if these writings were of Satan, and the work of forgery, imposture, and deceit, that wicked spirit would never have shown such despite unto them, nor have taken such pains to tempt men, and prevail upon them not to read them; and to persuade others to use their utmost efforts to corrupt or destroy them, and root them out of the world.

7. Seventhly, The awful judgments of God on such who have despised them, and have endeavoured to destroy them, are no mean evidence that they are of God; who hereby has shown his resentment of such conduct and behaviour; which might be illustrated by the instances of Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, who cut to pieces the copies of the book of the law wherever he found them, and burnt them, and put to death all with whom they were,

„59 Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God. 60 At which time according to the commandment they put to death certain women, that had caused their children to be circumcised.” (1 Maccabees 1)

this man died of a violent disorder in his bowels, his body was covered with worms, his flesh flaked off, and was attended with an intolerable stench,

„But the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, smote him with an incurable and invisible plague: or as soon as he had spoken these words, a pain of the bowels that was remediless came upon him, and sore torments of the inner parts; ”(2 Maccabees 9:5)

„So that the worms rose up out of the body of this wicked man, and whiles he lived in sorrow and pain, his flesh fell away, and the filthiness of his smell was noisome to all his army.” (2 Maccabees 9:9)

and of Dioclesian, the Roman emperor, who by an edict ordered all the sacred books to be burnt, that, if possible, he might root Christianity out of the world; and once fancied that he had done it; but when he found he had not accomplished his design, through madness and despair, in the height of his imperial glory, abdicated the empire, and retired to a private life, and at last poisoned himself: the one showed a despite to the books of the Old Testament, the other more especially to the books of the New Testament; and both were highly resented by the divine Being, who hereby showed himself the author of both. Many more instances might be produced, but these may suffice.

8. Eighthly, The antiquity and continuance of these writings may be improved into an argument in favour of them: Tertullian says, „That which is most ancient is most true.” Men from the beginning had knowledge of God, and of the way of salvation, and in what manner God was to be worshipped; which could not be without a revelation; though for some time it was not delivered in writing. The antediluvian patriarchs had it, and so the postdiluvian ones, to the times of Moses; whose writings are the first, and are more ancient than any profane writings, by many hundreds of years; the most early of that sort extant, are the poems of Homer and Hesiod, who flourished about the times of Isaiah; and the divine writings have been preserved notwithstanding the malice of men and devils, some of them some thousands of years, when other writings are lost and perished.

To which may be added, that the Scriptures receive no small evidence of the authority of them, from the testimonies of many heathen writers agreeing with them, with respect to the chronology, geography, and history of them; as concerning the creation of the world, Noah’s flood, the tower of Babel, the confusion of languages, the peopling the earth by the sons of Noah, the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah; with many other things respecting the people of Israel, their origin, laws, &c. {1} I go on to consider,

2. The „Perfection” of the Scriptures. When we assert the perfection of them, we do not mean that they contain a perfect account of all that God has done from the beginning of time, in the dispensations of his providence in the world, and in the distributions of his grace to the sons of men; though they relate much of the state and condition of the church of God in all ages, and as it will be to the end of time. Nor that they contain all the discourses, exhortations, admonitions, cautions, and counsels of the prophets, delivered to the people of Israel, in each of the ages of time: nor all the sermons of the apostles, which they preached to the Jews, and among the Gentiles: nor are all that were said and done by our Lord Jesus Christ recorded in them; there were many signs done by him which are not written, which if they should be written, as the evangelist observes, „even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written”, #Joh 20:30 21:25. But then they relate all things necessary to salvation, everything that ought to be believed and done; and are a complete, perfect standard of faith and practice: which may be proved,

2a. First, From the Author of them, who is God; they are the word of God, and are „given by inspiration of God; ” as is asserted in them, and has been clearly shown. Now since God is the author of them, who is a perfect Being, in whom is „no darkness at all”; not of ignorance, error, and imperfection; they coming from him, must be free from everything of that kind; „he is a rock”, and „his work is perfect”; as his works of creation, providence, and redemption; so this work of the Scriptures.

2b. Secondly, From the name they go by, a „Testament”: we commonly divide the Scriptures into the Books of the Old Testament, and the Books of the New Testament; and that there was a First and a Second Testament, an Old and a New one, is plainly intimated, #Heb 9:15. Now a man’s testament, or will, contains the whole of his will and pleasure, concerning the disposition of his estate to whomsoever he pleases, or it is not properly his will and testament; a man’s testament, „if it be confirmed”, as the apostle observes, „no man disannulleth or addeth thereto”, #Ga 3:15. Such the Scriptures are; they contain the whole will of God, about the disposition of the blessings of grace, and of the heavenly inheritance, to those who are appointed by him heirs; and being ratified and confirmed by the blood of Christ, are so sure and firm as not to be disannulled, and so perfect that nothing can be added thereunto.

2c. Thirdly, From the epithet of „perfect” being expressly given unto them; „the law of the Lord is perfect”, #Ps 19:7 which is to be understood, not of the Decalogue, or Ten Commands, but of the doctrine of the Lord, as the phrase signifies; even what was delivered in the sacred writings extant in the times of David; and if it was perfect then as to the substance of it, then much more must it appear so by the accession of the prophets, and the books of the New Testament since, in which there are plainer and clearer discoveries of the mind and will of God.

2d. Fourthly, From the essential parts of them, the Law and Gospel; to which two heads the substance of them may be reduced: the Law is a perfect rule of duty; it contains what is the „good, acceptable, and perfect will of God”, #Ro 12:2. What he would have done, or not done; the whole duty of man, both towards God and man; all is comprehended in these two commands, „Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c. and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”, #Mt 22:37-40. The Gospel is the „perfect law”, or doctrine „of liberty”, the apostle James speaks of, #Jas 1:25 which proclaims the glorious liberty of the children of God by Christ; and it is perfect, it treats of perfect things; of perfect justification by Christ; of full pardon of sin through his blood, and complete salvation in him; and contains a perfect plan of truth; every truth, „as it is in Jesus”; all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge: it is the whole, or all the counsel of God, concerning the spiritual and eternal salvation of men, #Ac 20:27.

2e. Fifthly, From the integral parts of them; the Scriptures, containing all the books that were written by divine inspiration. The books of the Old Testament were complete and perfect in the times of Christ; not one was wanting, nor any mutilated and corrupted. The Jews, he says, „have Moses and the prophets”; and he himself, „beginning at Moses and all the prophets, expounded in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself”, #Lu 16:31 #Lu 24:27. So that they had not only the five books of Moses, but „all” the prophets, and „all” the scriptures of the Old Testament: nay, he affirms, that „till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle, shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled”, #Mt 5:18. The Jews had the oracles of God committed to their care, #Ro 3:2 and they have been faithful keepers of them, even some of them to superstition and scrupulous nicety, numbering not only the books and sections, but also the verses, and even the words and letters: and there never was nor now is, any reason to be given why they had corrupted, or would corrupt, any part of the Old Testament; on the coming of Christ it was not their interest to do it; and even before that it was translated into the Greek tongue, by which they would have been detected; and after the coming of Christ they could not do it if they would, copies of it being in the hands of Christians; who were able to correct what they should corrupt, had they done it: and whatever attempts may have been made by any under the Christian name, to corrupt some copies of either Testament, they may be, and have been detected; or whatever mistakes may be made, through the carelessness of transcribers of copies, they are to be corrected by other copies, which God, in his providence, has preserved; and, as it seems, for such purposes: so that we have a perfect canon, or rule of faith and practice. It is objected to the perfection of the books of the Old Testament, that the books of Nathan, Gad, and Iddo, the prophets mentioned therein, are lost; but then it should be proved that these were inspired writings, and, indeed, that they are lost; they may be the same, as some think, with the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. And it is also objected to those of the New Testament, that there was an epistle from Laodicea, #Col 4:16 and another to the Corinthians, distinct from those we have, #1Co 5:9 neither of them now extant: as to the first, that is not an epistle „to” Laodicea, but „from” it; and may refer to one of the epistles, we have, written by the apostle Paul, when at that place: and as to that to the Corinthians, it does not appear to be another and distinct, but the same he was then writing: but admitting, for argument sake, though it is not to be granted, that some book, or part of the inspired writings is lost; let it be proved, if it can, that any essential article of faith is lost with it; or that there is any such article of faith wanting in the books we have: if this cannot be proved, then, notwithstanding the pretended defect, we have still a perfect rule of faith; which is what is contended for.

2f. Sixthly, This may be further evinced from the charge that is given, „not to add unto, nor diminish from, any part of the sacred writings, law or gospel”: this is strictly enjoined the Israelites to observe, with respect to the law, and the commandments of it, given them by Moses, #De 4:2 12:32. And with respect to the Gospel, the apostle Paul says, „Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you–and ye have received, let him be accursed”, #Ga 1:8,9. And the wise man, or Agur, says of the Scriptures in his time, „Every word of God is pure–add thou not unto his words”. And the apostle and evangelist John, closes the canon of the Scripture with these remarkable words, „If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life”, &c. #Re 22:18,19. Now if there is nothing superfluous in the Scriptures, to be taken from them; and nothing defective in them, which requires any addition to them; then they must be perfect.

2g. Seventhly, This may be argued from the sufficiency of them to answer the ends and purposes for which they are written; as, „for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness”, #2Ti 3:16 they are sufficiently profitable and useful „for doctrine”; there is no spiritual truth, nor evangelical doctrine, but what they contain; they are called „the Scriptures of truth”; not only because they come from the God of truth, and whatsoever is in them is truth; but they contain „all truth”; which the Spirit of God, the dictator of them, guides into, and that by means of them; (see #Da 10:21 Joh 16:13) every doctrine is to be confirmed and established by them: our Lord proved the things concerning himself, his person, office, sufferings, and death, by them, #Lu 24:25-27 the apostle Paul „reasoned out of the Scriptures”, in confirmation and defence of the doctrines he taught; „opening and alleging”, that is, from the Scriptures, „that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus is Christ”, whom he preached; and, indeed, he said „none other things than what Moses and the prophets did say” should be, and which he was able to prove from thence, #Ac 17:2,3 26:22,23. Every doctrine proposed by men, to the assent of others, is not immediately to be credited; but to be tried and proved, and judged of by the holy Scriptures, which are to be searched, as they were by the Bereans, to see whether those things be so or not; and being found agreeable to them, they are to be believed, and held fast; for „to the law and to the testimony; if men speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them”. #Isa 8:20. See #1Jo 4:1 1Th 5:21 Ac 17:11 and these are serviceable „for reproof”, for the detection, confutation, and conviction of error: thus Christ confuted the error of the Sadducees by the Scriptures, #Mt 22:29,30 and the apostles, with these, warred a good warfare; these were their spiritual weapons, the word of God is the sword of the Spirit, they used in fighting the good fight of faith, against false teachers; by sound doctrine, fetched from thence, they were able to convince and stop the mouths of gainsayers: there never was an error, or heresy, broached in the world yet, but what has been confuted by the Scriptures; and it is not possible that anyone can arise in opposition to „the faith once delivered”, but what may receive its refutation from them. They are also of use „for correction” of every sin, internal or external; of heart, lip, and life, secret or open; sins of omission or commission; all are forbidden, reproved, and condemned by the law of God; which says, „Thou shalt not covet”, nor do this, and that, and the other iniquity, #Ro 7:7 13:9. And the Gospel agrees with the law herein; and what is contrary to the law, is to sound doctrine; the Gospel of the grace of God, teaches to „deny ungodliness and worldly lusts”, #1Ti 1:9-11 #Tit 2:11,12. There is not a sin that can be named, but what the Scriptures inveigh against, forbid, and correct. And another end answered by them is, that they are „for instruction in righteousness”, in every moral duty of religion, and in every positive precept of God, according to the different dispensations; they instruct in everything of a moral or positive nature, and direct to observe all that is commanded of God and Christ; and now writings by which all such ends are answered, must needs be perfect and complete.

The Scriptures are sufficient to „make a man of God perfect, and thoroughly furnish him unto all good works”, #2Ti 3:17. Not a private good man only, but one in a public character and office; a prophet, a preacher, and minster of the word; in which sense the phrase is used both in the Old and New Testament, #1Sa 9:6,7 1Ti 6:11. An acquaintance with these fits him for the work of the ministry, and furnishes him with sound doctrine, to deliver out to the edification of others; by means of these he becomes „a scribe well instructed in the kingdom of God; and to be able to bring out of his treasure things new and old”: and if they are able to make such a man perfect, they must be perfect themselves.

Another use of the Scriptures, and an end to be, and which is, answered by them, is not only the learning and instruction of private men, as well as those of a public character; but to make them patient under afflictions, and comfort them in them, and give hope of deliverance out of them, as well as of eternal salvation hereafter; for the apostle says, „Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning; that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope”, #Ro 15:4. Nor is there any afflictive circumstance a good man can come into, but there is a promise in the word of God suitable to him in it; and which may be a means of enlivening, cheering, and comforting him, #Ps 119:49,50 yea, the Scriptures are written to promote and increase the spiritual joy of God’s people, and that that joy might be full, and therefore must be full and perfect themselves, #1Jo 1:3,4.

2h. Eightly, The Scriptures are able to make a man „wise unto salvation”, #2Ti 3:15. One part of them being the gospel of salvation; which points out to men the way of salvation; gives an account of Christ, the author of it, and of the salvation itself wrought out by him; and describes the persons that have an interest in it, and shall enjoy it; and who, through the grace of God, are made wise enough to see their need of it, seek after it, and embrace it; for it is not barely by reading the word they become so wise; but through the Spirit of wisdom and revelation opening their eyes to see what is contained in it, and applying it to them; whereby the gospel becomes „the power of God unto salvation” to them. In short the Scriptures contain all things in them necessary to be believed, unto salvation; and, indeed, they are written for this end, that men „might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, they might have life through his name”, #Joh 20:31 and hereby, under a divine influence and blessing, they come to have the knowledge of God and Christ, and of God in Christ; which is the beginning, earnest, and pledge of eternal life, #Joh 17:3. I proceed,

3. To prove the „perspicuity” of the Scriptures; for since they are a rule of faith and practice, they should be clear and plain, as they are: not that they are all equally clear and plain; some parts of them, and some things in them, are dark and obscure; but then by comparing spiritual things with spiritual, or those more dark passages with those that are clearer, they may be plainly understood. Moreover, the light of the Scriptures has been a growing one; it was but dim under the dispensation of the law of Moses; it became more clear through the writings of the prophets; but most clear under the gospel dispensation; where, „as in a glass, we behold, with open face, the glory of the Lord”; and of divine things: though in the gospel dispensation, and in such clear writings and epistles as those of the apostle Paul, who used „great plainness of speech”, there are some things „hard to be understood”, see #2Co 3:12-18 2Pe 3:16. And this is so ordered on purpose to remove all contempt and loathing of the Scriptures, and to humble the arrogance and pride of men, to engage reverence of them, and to excite attention to them, and to put men on searching them with close study, application, and prayer. Nor is every doctrine of the Scriptures expressed in so many words; as the doctrine of the Trinity of persons in the Godhead; the eternal generation of the Son of God, his incarnation and satisfaction, &c. but then the things themselves signified by them are clear and plain; and there are terms and phrases answerable to them; or they are to be deduced from thence by just and necessary consequences. Nor are the Scriptures clear and plain to everyone that reads them; they are a sealed book, which neither learned nor unlearned men can understand and interpret without the Spirit of God, the dictator of them; the natural man, by the mere light of nature, and dint of reason, though he may understand the grammatical sense of words; yet he does not understand the meaning of them, at least in a spiritual way, with application to himself; and so far as he has any notion of them, he has a disgust and contempt of them, for the most part; yet they are so fully expressed and clearly revealed, that if the gospel is hid to any, it is to those that perish, who are left to the native darkness of their minds, and to be „blinded by the god of this world”, that the glorious light of the gospel might not shine into them, see #Isa 29:11,12 1Co 2:14 2Co 4:3,4. But then the Scriptures are plain to them that have a spiritual understanding; who are spiritual men, and judge all things; „to whom it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom”. What are more clear and plain than the precepts of the law, commanding one thing to be done, and forbidding the doing of another? in what plain language are they expressed, „Thou shalt have no other gods before me, &c.”, „Thou shalt not kill, &c.?” And how clearly is asserted the great and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, „That salvation is alone by Jesus Christ, through the free grace of God; and not of the works of men?” and so everything necessary of belief unto salvation. In short, as Gregory says {2}, they are like a full and deep river, in which the lamb may walk, and the elephant swim, in different places.

The perspicuity of the Scriptures may be argued,

3a. From the author of them, God, as has been proved, who is „the Father of lights”; and therefore what comes from him must be light and clear, in whom is „no darkness at all”.

3b. From the several parts of them, and what they are compared unto. The law, or legal part of them, is represented by things which are light, and give it; „The commandment is a lamp, and the law is light”. #Pr 6:23. The commandments of the law, as before observed, are clearly expressed; and are a plain direction to men what to do, or shun; the same David says of the word of the Lord in general, and more explicitly, „Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”, #Ps 119:105. directing how to walk and act. The evangelical part of the Scriptures, or the gospel, is compared to a „glass”, in which may be clearly beheld, „the glory of the Lord”; of his person, offices, grace, and righteousness; and everyone of the glorious truths and doctrines of it, #2Co 3:18. Hence the ministers of the word are called the light of the world; because by opening and explaining the Scriptures, they are instruments of enlightening men into the will of God, and the mysteries of his grace, #Mt 5:14.

3c. From other testimonies of Scripture, particularly from #De 30:11-14. „For this commandment, which I command thee this day, is not hidden from thee; neither is it far off–it is not in heaven–neither is it beyond the sea–but the word is very nigh unto thee; in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it”. And if it is not hidden, nor at a distance and inaccessible, then it must be open, and the knowledge of it to be come at; and this is to be understood, not only of the law of Moses, but more especially of the gospel, the word of faith, preached by the apostles, as the apostle Paul interprets it, #Ro 10:6-8. And the whole of Scripture is the „sure word of prophecy; whereunto men do well to take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place”: and so the means of dispelling the darkness of ignorance, error, and unbelief; and of giving light all around, both with respect to doctrine and duty, see #2Pe 1:19.

3d. From exhortations to all sorts of people to read them, and who are commended for so doing. Not only the kings of Israel were to read the law of the Lord, but all that people in general; and there was a certain time of the year for them to assemble together to hear it read, men, women, children, and strangers; but if it was not plain and clear, and easy to be understood, it would have been to no purpose for them to attend it. #De 17:19 #De 31:11-13. Our Lord advises to „search the Scriptures”; which supposes them legible and intelligible, #Joh 5:39 and the Bereans are commended as more noble than those of Thessalonica; because they searched the Scriptures daily, and compared what they heard with them; that they might know whether they were right or not, #Ac 17:11 see #Re 1:3.

3e. From all sorts of persons being capable of reading them, and hearing them read, so as to understand them. Thus in the times of Nehemiah and Ezra, persons of every sex and age, who were at years of maturity, and had the exercise of their rational faculties, had the law read unto them, #Ne 8:3 Timothy, from a child, knew the holy Scriptures, #2Ti 3:15 believers, and regenerate persons of every rank and degree, have knowledge of them, whether fathers, young men, or little children, #1Jo 2:12 #1Jo 2:13,14. Nor is the public preaching of the word, and the necessity of it, to be objected to all this; since that is, as for conversion, so for greater edification and comfort, and for establishment in the truth, even though it is known; and besides, serves to lead into a larger knowledge of it, and is the ordinary means of guiding into it, and of arriving to a more perfect acquaintance with it, #1Co 14:3 2Pe 1:12 Acts 8:30,31 Eph 4:11-13 So that it may be concluded, upon the whole, that the Scriptures are easily understood.

A sure, certain, and infallible rule to go by, with respect to things both to be believed and done: a rule they are, #Ga 6:16. And since they are of divine authority, and are perfect and plain, they are a sure rule, and to be depended on; „The testimony of the Lord is sure”, #Ps 19:7 and a „more sure word of prophecy” than all others whatever, #2Pe 1:19 these are the witness of God, and therefore greater than man’s; and to be believed before any human testimony, #1Jo 5:9 yea, must be reckoned infallible, since they are the Scriptures of truth, and not only contain what is truth, and nothing but truth in them: but have a true, even a divine testimony bore unto them, and come from the God of truth, who cannot lie, #Da 10:21 Tit 1:2. They are the judge of all religious controversies, to which all are to be brought, and by them determined; according to these, spiritual men, who have their senses exercised, to discern between good and evil, try and judge all things. The Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture, or the Spirit of God therein; nor are the church or its pastors, nor councils and popes, the infallible interpreters thereof; there is a private interpretation of Scripture, which every Christian may make, according to his ability and light; and there is a public one, by the preacher of the word but both are subject to, and to be determined by the Scripture itself, which is the only certain and infallible rule of faith and practice. And,

4. There seems to be a real „necessity” of such a rule in the present state of things; and, indeed, a divine revelation was necessary to Adam, in a state of innocence; how, otherwise, should he have known anything of the manner of his creation; of the state and condition in which he was created, after the image and in the likeness of God; the extent of his power and authority over the creation; by what means his animal life was to be supported; in what manner God was to be served and worshipped by him, especially the parts of positive and instituted worship, both as to matter, time, and place; and particularly the will of God, as to abstinence from eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? And if our first parents stood in need of a divine revelation, as a rule and guide to them in their state of integrity; then much more we in our present state of ignorance and depravity. And after the fall, it was owing to divine revelation, that man had any knowledge of the way of his salvation, by the woman’s seed; and of the appointment, nature, import, use, and end of sacrifices; and though this revelation was for a time unwritten, and was handed down by tradition to the patriarchs before the flood, and for some time after, while the lives of men were of a long continuance, and it required but few hands to transmit it from one to another; but when mens’ lives were shortened, and it was the pleasure of God to make further and clearer discoveries of his mind and will, and to frame new laws and rules of worship, in different dispensations; it seemed proper and necessary to commit them to writing, both that they might remain, and that they might be referred to in case of any doubt or difficulty about them; and particularly that the ends before mentioned might be answered by them, which it was intended should be; namely, the learning and instruction of men in matters of faith and practice, their peace, comfort, and edification, #Ro 15:4 #2Ti 3:15-17 and the rather, since nothing else was, and nothing less than the Scriptures are, a sufficient rule and guide in matters of religion; even not the light of nature and reason, so much talked of, and so highly exalted; and since it has been set up as such against divine revelation, it may be proper to show the insufficiency of it. Now the light of nature or reason, is not to be taken in an abstract sense, or considered only in theory, what it has been, may be, or should be, but not subsisting in men or books; as such it can be no rule or guide at all to have recourse unto; and besides, reason in such sense is not opposed to revelation; there is nothing in revelation contrary to reason, though there are things above it, and of which it is not a competent judge, and therefore can be no guide in such matters; but it must be considered as it is in fact, and as it subsists, either in single individuals, or in whole bodies of men, and these unacquainted with, and unassisted by divine revelation; and then its sufficiency, or rather insufficiency, will soon appear. If it is considered as in individuals, it may easily be observed it is not alike in all, but differs, according to the circumstances of men, climate, constitution, education, &c. some have a greater share of it than others; and what is agreeable to the reason of one man, is not so to another; and therefore unless it was alike and equal in all, it can be no sure rule or guide to go by: let one of the most exalted genius, be chosen, one of the wisest and sagest philosophers of the Gentiles, that has studied nature most, and arrived to the highest degree of reason and good sense; for instance, let Socrates be the man, who is sometimes magnified as „divine”, and in whom the light of nature and reason may be thought to be sublimated and raised to its highest degree, in the Gentile world, without the help of revelation; and yet, as it was in him, it must be a very deficient rule of faith and practice; for though he asserted the unity of the divine Being, and is said to die a martyr for it; yet he was not clear of the heathenish notions of inferior deities, and of worship to be given them; for one of the last things spoken by him was, to desire his friends to fulfil a vow of his, to offer a cock to Esculapius, the god of health; and he is most grievously slandered, if he was not guilty of the love of boys in an unnatural way; and besides, he himself bewails the weakness and darkness of human nature, and confessed the want of a guide. If the light of nature and reason be considered in large bodies of men, in whole nations, it will appear not to be the same in all. Some under the guidance of it have worshipped one sort of deities, and some others; have gone into different modes of worship, and devised different rites and ceremonies, and followed different customs and usages, and even differed in things of a moral nature; and as their forefathers, guided by this light, introduced and established the said things; they, with all their observations, reflections, and reasonings on them, or increase of light, supposing they had any, were never able, by the light of nature and reason in them, to prevail over, and demolish such idolatry, and such profane and wicked practices that obtained among them; and the insufficiency thereof, as a rule and guide in religion, will further appear by considering the following particulars.

4a. That there is a God may be known by the light of nature; but „who” and „what” he is, men, destitute of a divine revelation, have been at a loss about. Multitudes have gone into polytheism, and have embraced for gods almost everything in and under the heavens; not only the sun, moon, and stars, and mortal men, they have deified; but various sorts of beasts, fishes, fowl, creeping things, and even forms of such that never existed: and some that have received the notion of a supreme Being, yet have also acknowledged a numerous train of inferior deities, and have worshipped the creature besides the Creator; whose folly is represented in a true and full light by the apostle, #Ro 1:19-25 and though the unity of the divine Being, is the voice of reason as well as of revelation; yet by the former, without the latter, we could have had no certain notion, if any at all, of three divine persons subsisting in the unity of the divine essence; and especially of each of the parts they have taken in the economy of man’s salvation; for as for what Plato and others have been supposed to say concerning a Trinity, it is very lame and imperfect, and what was borrowed from eastern tradition.

4b. Though the light of nature may teach men that God, their Creator and Benefactor, is to be worshipped by them; and may direct them to some parts of worship, as to pray unto him for what they want, and praise him for what they have received; yet a perfect plan of worship, acceptable to God, could never have been formed according to that; and especially that part of it could not have been known which depends upon the arbitrary will of God, and consists of positive precepts and institutions; hence the Gentiles, left to that, and without a divine revelation, have introduced modes of worship the most absurd and ridiculous, as well as cruel and bloody, even human sacrifices, and the slaughter of their own children, as well as the most shocking scenes of debauchery and uncleanness.

4c. By the light of nature men may know that they are not in the same condition and circumstances they originally were; for when they consider things, they cannot imagine that they were made by a holy Being subject to such irregular passions and unruly lusts which now prevail in them; but in what state they were made, and how they fell from that estate, and came into the present depraved one, they know not; and still less how to get out of it, and to be cured of their irregularities: but divine revelation informs us how man was made upright, and like unto God: and by what means he fell from his uprightness into the sinful state he is in; and how he may be recovered from it, and brought out of it by the regenerating and sanctifying grace of the Spirit of God, and not otherwise.

4d. Though, as the apostle says, the Gentiles without the law, „do by nature the things contained in the law; and are a law to themselves, which show the work of the law written on their hearts; their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing one another”, #Ro 2:14,15 and so have some notion of the difference between moral good and evil; yet this is not so clear and extensive, but that some of the greatest moralists among them gave into the most notorious vices, and allowed of them, and recommended them; Chrysippus {3} allowed of incest; Plato {4} commended community of wives; Socrates a plurality of wives, and which he enforced by his own example {5}; Cicero {6} pleaded for fornication; the Stoics, a grave set of moralists, for the use of obscene words {7}, and recommended suicide as becoming a wise man {8}, and as his duty to commit in some cases. So dim was this light of nature in things of a moral kind!

4e. Though in many cases reason taught them that certain vices were disagreeable to God, and resented by him, and he was displeased with them, and would punish for them; and they were very desirous of appeasing him; but then how to reconcile him to them, and recommend themselves to his favour, they were quite ignorant; and therefore took the most shocking and detestable methods for it, as human sacrifices, and particularly burning their innocent infants. But revelation shows us the more excellent way.

4f. Men may, by the light of nature, have some notion of sin as an offence to God, and of their need of forgiveness from him; and from a general notion of his mercy, and of some instances of kindness to them, may entertain some faint hope of the pardon of it; but then they cannot be certain of it from thence, or that even God will pardon sin at all, the sins of any man; and still less how this can be done consistent with his holiness and justice: but through divine revelation we come at a clear and certain knowledge of this doctrine, and of its consistence with the divine perfections.

4g. The light of nature leaves men entirely without the knowledge of the way of salvation by the Son of God. And even without revelation, angels of themselves would not be able to know the way of saving sinful men, or how sinful men can be justified before God; wherefore, in order to know this; they „desire to look into it”, #1Pe 1:12. Some have thought that Socrates had some notion of it; who is made to say {9},

„It is necessary to wait till some one teaches how to behave towards God and men:”

but then this respects only a man’s outward conduct, and not his salvation: nor does the philosopher seem to have any clear notion of the instructor, and of the means he should use to instruct, and still less of the certainty of his coming; and besides, the relator of this, Plato, might receive this as a tradition in the East, where it is well known he travelled for knowledge. But the divine revelation gives an account of this glorious person, not merely as an instructor of men in the way of their duty, but as a Saviour of them from their sins; and in what way he has wrought out salvation, by his sacrifice, blood, and righteousness.

4h. The light of nature is far from giving any clear and certain account of the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and a future state of happiness and misery: as for the immortality of the soul, the heathens rather wished it to be true than were fully satisfied of it; they that were for it made use of but mean arguments to prove it; and they themselves believed it only „fide dimidiata”, as Minutius Felix {10} expresses it, with a divided faith; they did, as it were, but half believe it; and as for the resurrection of the body, that was denied, as Tertullian says {11}, by every sect of the philosophers: and in what a low manner do they represent the happiness of the future state; by walking in pleasant fields, by sitting under fragrant arbours or bowers, and cooling shades, and by shelter from inclement weather; by viewing flowing fountains and purling and babbling streams; by carnal mirth, feasting, music, and dancing: and the misery of it, by being bound neck and heels together, or in chains, or fastened to rocks, and whipped by furies, with a scourge of serpents, or doomed to some laborious service. But not the least hint is given of the presence of God with the one, nor of his absence from the other; nor of any sensation of his love or wrath. Let us therefore bless God that we have a better rule and guide to go by; „a more sure word of prophecy to take heed unto”: let us have constant recourse unto it, as the standard of faith and practice; and try every doctrine and practice by it, and believe and act as that directs us, and fetch everything from it that may be for our good, and the glory of God.

–End of Chapter–


{1} See Gale’s Court of the Gentiles.

{2} Praefat. in Job.

{3} Laertius in Vita ejus.

{4} Vid. Grotium in Eph. 5, 6.

{5} Laertius in Vila ejus.

{6} Orat. 34. pro Coelio.

{7} Vid. Ciceron. Ep. l. 9. ep. 22.

{8} Vid. Lips. Manuduct. Stoic. Philosoph. Dissert. 22. p. 365.

{9} Plato in Alcibiad. 2. p. 459.

{10} Octav. p. 37.

{11} De Praescript. Haeret. c. 7. p. 232.

Doctrinal Divinity~Book 1

Chapter 3:

Of the Names of God

Being about to treat of God, and of the things of God, it may be proper to begin with his names: the names of persons and things are usually the first that are known of them; and if these are not known, it cannot be thought that much, if any thing, is known of them; and where the name of God is not known, he himself cannot be known; and the rather the consideration of his name, or names, is worthy of regard, because they serve to lead into some knowledge of his nature and perfections; and therefore a proper introduction to such a subject. Indeed, properly speaking, since God is incomprehensible, he is not nominable; and being but one, he has no need of a name to distinguish him; and therefore Plato {1} says, he has no name; and hence he commonly calls him to on, „Ens”, „The Being”. So when Moses asked the Lord, what he should say to the children of Israel, should they ask the name of him that sent him to them, he bid him say, „I am that I am”; that is, The eternal Being, the Being of beings; which his name Jehovah is expressive of: nevertheless, there are names of God in the Scriptures taken from one or other of his attributes, which are worthy of consideration.

The names of God, as Zanchy {2} observes, some of them respect him as the subject, as Jehovah, Lord, God: others are predicates, what are spoken of him, or attributed to him, as holy, just, good, &c. Some respect the relation the divine Persons in the Godhead stand in to each other, as Father, Son, and Spirit: others the relation of God to the creatures; and which are properly said of him, and not them, as Creator, Preserver, Governor, &c. some are common to the Three divine persons, as Jehovah, God, Father, Spirit; and some peculiar to each, as the epithets of unbegotten, begotten, proceeding from the Father and the Son: some are figurative and metaphorical, taken from creatures, to whom God is compared; and others are proper names, by which he either calls himself, or is called by the prophets and apostles, in the books of the Old and New Testament; which are what will be particularly considered.

1. „Elohim” is the first name of God we meet with in Scripture, and is translated God, #Ge 1:1 and is most frequently used throughout the whole Old Testament; sometimes, indeed, improperly of creatures, angels, and men, and of false deities, #Ps 8:5 82:1,6 Jer 10:11 but properly only of God.

Some derive this word from a root, which signifies to curse and swear; but as to the reasons why this name is given to the divine Being on that account, it is not agreed; some {3} of late, have given this as a reason, because the three divine Persons, as they in a shocking manner express it, bound themselves with an oath, under a curse, to redeem mankind; which, to say no worse of, is indecent and unworthy of the dignity and majesty of God, „who is blessed for evermore”; for to bind himself with an oath, and that under a conditional curse; which is no other than to imprecate a curse upon himself, if his oath and covenant are not fulfilled; is so harsh, if not something worse, as is not to be endured: and though Christ agreed to redeem men, and to be made a curse for them, that they might receive the blessing; yet he was not accursed through any failure of his oath and covenant; but on another account, being the Surety of his people; nor is he ever called Eloah on that account, and still less the other two persons: besides there are other and better reasons to be given for this name of the divine Being, supposing it to be taken from the word signifying as above; as, because he adjures and causes others to swear, and binds them with an oath to himself; in which sense the word is used of men, #1Sa 14:24 1Ki 8:31 and is the business of judges; by which oath men are bound to God {4}, and not he to them; and so, according to the Jewish writers {5}, the word is expressive of God as a judge; in which they are followed by some learned men {6}: or, because he pronounces a man accursed who breaks his law, and neglects and despises the sacrifice and righteousness of Christ; so Cocceius {7}: or, because he is the object men must swear by, whenever they swear at all; see #De 6:13 Isa 65:16. Though this word Elohim cannot be derived from the word so signifying, because it has the immoveable and immutable h, as appears from the point „mappick”, in its singular Eloah, and from the construction of it, which that word has not; and besides, that is never used of God when he is said to swear, but always another.

The word Elohim may be better derived from a word in the Arabic language, which signifies to „worship”, as is thought by many learned men {8} and so is a fit name for God, who is the sole object of religious worship and adoration; not idols of gold, silver, &c. nor living men, nor persons deified after death, nor angels; but the Lord God only, #Mt 4:10. It is a word of the plural number; and though it has a singular, which is sometimes used, yet it is most frequently in this form; and being joined with a singular verb, as in #Ge 1:1 it is thought {9} to denote a plurality of persons in the unity of the divine essence; and certain it is, that three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, appeared, and were concerned in the creation of all things, #Ge 1:1-3 Ps 33:6.

2. Another name of God is „El”; and which may be observed in the word Beth-el, which signifies, „The house of God”, #Ge 12:7,8. Both the singular and plural, El Elim, the God of gods, are used in #Da 11:36 and the word is left untranslated in #Mt 27:46 „Eli, Eli; my God, my God”. It is commonly rendered, by Junius and Tremellius, the strong or mighty God; an epithet that well agrees with the divine Being, #Job 9:4,19 Ps 89:8,13 and is one of the names of the Messiah, #Isa 9:6. Hillerus {10} takes this to be a part of the word Eloah, the singular of Elohim; which, according to him, signifies the first in essence; being the first and the last, the beginning and the end, #Isa 44:6 Re 1:8 it is expressive of the power of God.

3. The next name of God we meet with is „Elion”, the most high, #Ge 14:18-20,22. So Christ is called „The son of the Highest”, and the Spirit, „the power of the Highest”, #Lu 1:32,35 and which name God has either from his habitation, the highest heavens; which is his palace, where he keeps his court, and which is his throne; in which high and holy place he, the high and lofty One, dwells, #Isa 57:15 56:1 or from his superiority, power, and dominion over all creatures, over the highest personages on earth, and the highest angels in heaven, #Ps 83:18 97:9 see also #Ec 5:8 or from the sublimity of his nature and essence, which is out of the reach of finite minds, and is incomprehensible, #Job 11:7,8. This name was known among the Phoenicians, and is given to one of their deities, called Elioun, the most high {11}; it is expressive of the supremacy of God.

4. Another name of God is „Shaddai”: under this name God appeared to Abraham, #Ge 17:1 and to which reference is had, #Ex 6:3 we translate it Almighty in both places, and in all others, particularly in the book of Job, where it is often mentioned; and it well agrees with him whose power is infinite and uncontrollable, and appears in the works of his hands, creation and providence. Some choose to render it „sufficient”, or „all-sufficient” {12} God; having a sufficiency in and of himself, and for himself, to make himself completely and infinitely happy; nor does he need, nor can he receive any thing from his creatures to add to his happiness; and he has a sufficiency for them; he can, and does, supply all the wants of his people, temporal and spiritual; „his grace is sufficient for them.” Others render it „Nourisher” {13}; deriving it from a word which signifies „a breast”; that being what creatures nourish their young with; and is made mention of when this name of God is spoken of, #Ge 49:25. God not only fills mens’ hearts with food and gladness, but „he opens his hand, and satisfies the desire of all creatures, and gives them their meat in due season”, #Ac 14:17 Ps 145:15,16. Hillerus {14} derives it from a word which signifies to pour out, or shed; and it well agrees with God, who pours forth, or sheds his blessings, in great plenty, on his creatures; and which flow from him as from a fountain; to which he is often compared: though others give a very different etymology of it; deriving it from a word {15} which signifies to „destroy”; to which there seems to be a beautiful allusion in #Isa 13:6. „Destruction from Shaddai, the destroyer”, who destroyed the old world, Sodom and Gomorrah, the firstborn of the Egyptians, and Pharaoh and his host: though God is so called, previous to most of these instances; indeed he is „the lawgiver, that is able to save and to destroy”; even to destroy body and soul in hell, with an everlasting destruction. And some render the word the „Darter”, or „Thunderer” {16}; whose darts are his thunderbolts, #Job 6:4 #Ps 18:13,14. The heathens called their chief god, Jupiter, „Tonans, The Thunderer”: and, perhaps, from another etymology of this word before given, from dv „a breast”. Some of their deities are represented as full of breasts; so Ceres, Isis, and Diana. This name seems to be expressive of the all-sufficiency of God, and of the supply of his creatures from it.

5. Another of the names of God is, the „Lord”, or „God of hosts”; it is first mentioned in #1Sa 1:3,11 but frequently afterwards; and is left untranslated in #Jas 5:4 where the Lord is called, „the Lord of Sabaoth”, not „Sabbath”, as it is sometimes wrongly understood; and as if it was the same with „Lord of Sabbath”, #Mt 12:8 for though the words are somewhat alike in sound, they are very different in sense; for „Sabbath” signifies „rest”, and „Sabaoth” means „hosts” or „armies”: the Lord is the God of armies on earth, a man of war, expert in it; that teacheth mens’ hands to war, and their fingers to fight, and is the generalissimo of them, as he was particularly of the armies of Israel, as they are called, #Ex 7:4 which he brought out of Egypt, and went at the head of them, and fought their battles for them; see #Ex 14:14 15:3 and who gives success and victory on what side soever he takes: and he is the Lord of the hosts of the starry heavens; the sun, moon, and stars, called the host of heaven, #Ge 2:1 2Ki 21:3 23:5 and by this military term, because under the Lord they sometimes fight as the stars did against Sisera, #Jud 5:20 and also of the airy heavens; and the locusts that fly there are his army, #Joe 2:7,11 and the meteors, thunder and lightning, snow and hail, which are laid up by him against the day of battle and war, are the artillery he sometimes brings forth against the enemies of his people; as he did against the Egyptians and Canaanites, #Job 38:22,23 Ex 9:24,25 Jos 10:11 the angels also are the militia of heaven, and are called „the heavenly host”, #Lu 2:13 see #1Ki 22:19 the place where the angels of God met Jacob, was called from thence Mahanaim, #Ge 32:1,2 two hosts or armies, one going before him, and the other behind him; or the one on one side him and the other on the other, to guard him; hence they are said to „encamp” about them that fear the Lord, #Ps 34:7. These are the creatures of God by whom he is adored and served; they are at his command, and sometimes employed in a military way, to destroy his and his peoples’ enemies; see #2Ki 19:35. This name is expressive of God’s dominion over all his creatures, and the several armies of them.

6. Another name of God is „Adonai”, or „Adon”, #Ge 15:2 and is commonly rendered Lord. Hence the Spanish word „don” for „lord”. God is so called, because he is the Lord of the whole earth, #Zec 4:14. Some {17} derive it from a word which signifies the basis, prop, or support of any thing {18}. So a king in the Greek language is called basileuv, because he is the basis and support of his people: and so God is the support of all his creatures; „he upholds all things by the word of his power”; he bears up the pillars of the earth; all men move and have their being in him; and „he upholds his saints with the right hand of his righteousness”; and even his Son as man and mediator, #Isa 41:10 42:1. Some think it has the signification of a judge {19}; „God is the judge of all the earth”; and is a righteous one, protects and defends good men, and takes vengeance on the wicked; and will judge the world in righteousness at the last day. Though, perhaps, Hillerus {20} is most correct in rendering it „the Cause”, from which, and for which, all things are; as all things are made by the Lord, and for his will, pleasure, and glory, see #Ro 11:36 Heb 2:10 Re 4:11. Adon is used in the plural number of God, #Mal 1:6 and so Adonai is used of the Son, as well as of the Father, #Psalm 110:1 and of the Holy Spirit, #Isa 6:8 compared with #Ac 28:25. Hence Adonis, with the heathens, the same with the sun, their chief deity, according to Macrobius {21}, by whom Bacchus is called {22} Ebon, or rather Edon; who, he says, is also the same with the sun.

7. The famous name of God is „Jehovah”; this is a name he takes to himself and claims it, #Ex 6:3 Isa 42:8 and is peculiar to him; his name alone is Jehovah, and incommunicable to another, #Ps 83:18 because this name is predicated of God, as a necessary and self-existent being, as a learned Jew {23} observes, which no other is; for though it is sometimes spoken of another, yet not singly and properly, but with relation to him. So the church is called „Jehovah-shammah”, because of his presence with her, #Eze 48:35. The Jews, from a superstitious abuse of it, assert it to be ineffable, and not to be pronounced, and even not to be read and written, and therefore they substitute other names instead of it, as Adonai, and Elohim. This might arise, originally, from their very great awe and reverence of this name, according to #De 28:58 but every name of God is reverend, and not to be taken in vain, nor used in common, nor with any degree of levity, #Ps 111:9. It is written with four letters only; hence the Jews call it „tetragrammaton”, and is very probably the tetraktuv of the Pythagoreans, by which they swore; and it is remarkable, that the word for God is so written in almost all languages; denoting, it may be, that he is the God of the whole world; and ought to be served and worshipped, and his name to be great and had in reverence in the four quarters of it; it takes in all tenses, past, present, and to come {24}: the words of the evangelist John are a proper periphrasis of it; „which is, and which was, and which is to come”, #Re 1:4 or, „shall be”, as in #Re 16:5 it comes from the root hyh or hwh which signify, „to be”, and is expressive of the essence of God; of his necessary and self-existence, for God naturally and necessarily exists; which cannot be said of any other: creatures owe their being to the arbitrary will of God; and so might be, and might not be, as he pleased; but God exists in and of himself, he is a self-existent and independent Being, as he must needs be, since he is before all creatures, and therefore cannot have his being from them; and he is the cause of theirs, and therefore must be independent of them; and yet, when we say he is self-existent, it must not be understood as if he made himself; for though he exists, he is not made. He is the Being of beings; all creatures have their beings from him and in him, „the heavens, earth, and sea, and all that is in them”; he is the former and maker of all things; he is eminently „the Being”, and all in comparison of him are mere non-entities; „all nations”, and the inhabitants of them, „are as nothing before him; yea, less than nothing, and vanity”, #Isa 40:17.

8. „Jah” is another name of God, which is mentioned in #Ps 68:4 150:6 #Isa 26:4 though it may be only an abbreviation or contraction of the word Jehovah, and may signify the same; according to Cocceius {25}, it comes from hay #Jer 10:7 and signifies „decency”, or what is meet and becoming.

9. „Ejeh” is a name God gave as a name of his to Moses, when he sent him to the children of Israel; and is translated „I AM that I AM”, #Ex 3:13,14 and may be rendered, „I shall be what I shall be”, and what I have been; so the Jews {26} interpret it; „I am he that was, I am he that is now, and I am he that is to come, or shall be.” It seems to be of the same signification with Jehovah, and to be derived from the same word, and is expressive of the same things; of the being and existence of God, of his eternity and immutability, and of his faithfulness in performing his promises: our Lord has a manifest respect unto it, when he says, „Before Abraham was I AM”, #Joh 8:58. Hillerus {27} renders it „I remain”, that is, always the same.

10. The names of God in the New Testament are these two kuriov and yeov, the one is usually rendered Lord and the other God. The first is derived either from kurw, „to be” {28}, and signifies the same as Jehovah, to which it commonly answers, and denotes the essence or being of God; or from kurov {29}, „power and authority”; and agrees with God, who has a sovereign power and authority over all creatures, having a property in them, by virtue of his creation of them; it is generally used of Christ, „who is Lord of all”, #Ac 10:36 1Co 8:6 Eph 4:6. The etymology of yeov, „God”, is very different; as either from a word which signifies „to run”, or from one that signifies „to heat”, or from one that signifies „to see”; which seem to be calculated by the heathens for the sun, the object of their worship, applicable to it, for its constant course, being the fountain of light and heat, and seeing all things, as they affirm: though each of them may be applied to the true God, who runs to the assistance of his people in distress, #2Ch 16:9 Ps 46:1 is light itself, „the Father of lights”, and „a consuming fire”, #1Jo 1:5 Jas 1:17 Heb 12:29 and sees all men, their ways and works, and even their hearts, and the thoughts of them, #Job 34:21,22 1Sa 16:7. Some derive it from a word which signifies to dispose; and which agrees with God, who disposes of, and orders all things „in the armies of the heavens, and among the inhabitants of the earth, according to the council of his will”, and to answer the purposes of his own glory, and the good of his creatures. Though, perhaps, it may be best of all to derive it from a word which signifies „fear” {30}, and so describes God as the object of fear and reverence; who is not only to be stood in awe of by all the inhabitants of the earth, #Ps 33:8 but more especially is to be feared with a godly fear by his saints, #Ps 87:7 Heb 12:28 and fear sometimes takes in the whole worship of God, both internal and external; and so the true God, in distinction from others, is called, „the fear”, that is, the God of Isaac, #Ge 31:53, and alxd „fear”, is sometimes used in the Targum {31} for the true God, as it sometimes is of idols. From all these names of God we learn that God is the eternal, immutable, and almighty Being, the Being of beings, self-existent, and self-sufficient, and the object of religious worship and adoration.

–End of Chapter–


{1} oud’ ara onoma estin austo, in Parmenide, p. 1120. Ed. Ficin. So. Trismegistus apud Lactant. Institut. l. 1. c. 6.

{2} De Natura Dei, l. 1. c. 4.

{3} Called Hutchinsonians; see Catcott’s Sermon, called The Supreme and Inferior Elahim, p. 8.

{4} Marckii Compend. Theolog. c. 4. s. 5. Mastrict. Theolog. l. 2. c. 4. s. 9. Leigh’s Critica Sacra in voce hla.

{5} T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 87. 1. Sepher Cosri, par. 4. fol. 197. 2. Maimon. Moreh Nevochim. par. 2. c. 6.

{6} Lud. Capellus et alii.

{7} Lexic. col. 35.

{8} Stockii Clavis S. Ling. p. 61. Hottingeri Smegma Oriental. l. 1. c. 8. p. 123. Schultens in Job i. 1. Noldius, No. 1093, Alting. Dissert. 4. de plural. Elohim, p. 177.

{9} Schindler. Lexic. Pentaglott. col. 78.

{10} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 254, 256.

{11} Sanchoniatho apud Euseb. Evangel. praepar. l. 1. c. 10. p. 36.

{12} So Cocceius in Lex. col. 859. Jarchi in Gen. xvii. 1. Maimon. Moreh Nevochim, par. 1. c. 63.

{13} Paschii Dissert. de Selah p. 2. s. 6.

{14} Onomast. Sacr. p. 260, 261.

{15} ddv „vastavit”, Buxtorf.

{16} So Schmidt in Job vi. 4.

{17} Paschius in Dissert. de Selah, ut supra. Alsted. Lexic. Theolog. p. 82.

{18} ynda „foundations”, „bases”, Job xxxviii. 6. often rendered sockets in Exodus.

{19} A Nwd „judicavit”.

{20} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 258.

{21} Saturnal. l. 1. c. 21.

{22} Ibid. c. 18.

{23} R. Joseph Albo in Sepher Ikkarim, l. 2. c. 28.

{24} Buxtorf. de Nomin. Dei, Heb. s. 10.

{25} Lexic. p. 283.

{26} Shemot Rabba, s. 3. fol. 93. 3.

{27} Onomast. Sacr. p. 248.

{28} kurei, „est, existit”, Suidas: kuriw, „sum”, Scapula.

{29} kurov, „autoritas”; kuriov, „autoritatem habens”, Scapula; so Philo, quis rer. divin. Haeres, p. 484.

{30} apo tou yeein, „currere”, so Plato in Cratylo, p. 273. Clem. Al. protrept. p. 15. vel ayein „adurere, accendere”, vel yeasyai, „cernere”, vel a yw „dispono”; so Clem. Al. Stromat. in fine, Herodot. Euterpe, c. 52. vel a deov „timor”, Philo ut supra. These several etymologies may be seen in Zanchy de Natura Dei, l. 1. c. 16. Alsted. Lexic. Theolog. p. 8.

{31} Targum Hierosol. in Deut. xxxii. 15.

Doctrinal Divinity~Book 1

Chapter 4:

Of the Nature of God

There is a nature that belongs to every creature, which is difficult to understand; and so to God, the Creator, which is most difficult of all: that „Nature” may be predicated of God, is what the apostle suggests when he says, the Galatians, before conversion, served them, who, „by nature, were no gods”, #Ga 4:8 which implies, that though the idols they had worshipped were not, yet there was one that was, by Nature, GOD; otherwise there would be an impropriety in denying it of them. Mention is also made of the „divine Nature”, #2Pe 1:4 which, indeed, is not the nature that is in God, but what is infused and implanted in men in regeneration; so called, not only because it is from God, as its author, but because it is the image of him, and bears a likeness and resemblance to him; but then there must be a nature in him to which this is similar, being „created, after him, in righteousness and true holiness”; or there would be no propriety in the denomination of it from him. This is what is called Divinity, Deity, or Godhead; which must not be thought to be „like to gold, silver, or stone, graven by art, or man’s device”; or to be in the similitude of any creature, in a picture, painting, or sculpture; and which is to be seen and understood by the visible works of creation, and is what, „in all its perfection and fulness, dwells bodily in Christ”, #Ac 17:29 Ro 1:20 Col 2:9. It is the same with the form of God, in which Christ is said to be, #Php 2:6 which designs not any external form, for God has no visible shape, but his internal Glory, excellency, nature, and perfections, in which „Christ is equal with him, and his fellow”; and he is not only the express image of him, but one with him; not merely of a like, but of the same nature; so that he that sees the one, sees the other. Essence, which is the same thing with nature, is ascribed to God; he is said to be „excellent hyvwt in essence”, #Isa 28:29 for so the words may be rendered, that is, he has the most excellent essence or being; this is contained in his names, „Jehovah”, and „I am that I am”, which are expressive of his essence or being, as has been observed; and we are required to believe that he is, that he has a being or essence, and does exist, #Heb 11:6 and essence is that by which a person or thing is what it is, that is its nature; and with respect to God, it is the same with his „face”, which cannot be seen, #Ex 33:20,23 that is, cannot be perceived, understood, and fully comprehended, especially in the present state; and, indeed, though in the future state saints will behold the face of God, and „see him face to face, and as he is”, so far as they are capable of, yet it is impossible for a finite mind, in its most exalted state, to comprehend the infinite Nature and Being of God.

This nature is common to the three Persons in God, but not communicated from one to another; they each of them partake of it, and possess it as one undivided nature; they all enjoy it; it is not a part of it that is enjoyed by one, and a part of it by another, but the whole by each; as „all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ”, so in the holy Spirit; and of the Father, there will be no doubt; these equally subsist in the unity of the divine essence, and that without any derivation or communication of it from one to another. I know it is represented by some, who, otherwise, are sound in the doctrine of the Trinity, that the divine nature is communicated from the Father to the Son and Spirit, and that he is „fons Deitatis”, „the fountain of Deity”; which, I think, are unsafe phrases; since they seem to imply a priority in the Father to the other two persons; for he that communicates must, at least in order of nature, and according to our conception of things, be prior to whom the communication is made; and that he has a superabundant plenitude of Deity in him, previous to this communication. It is better to say, that they are self-existent, and exist together in the same undivided essence; and jointly, equally, and as early one as the other, possess the same nature.

The nature of God is, indeed, incomprehensible by us; somewhat of it may be apprehended, but it cannot be fully comprehended; „Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” #Job 11:7. No: but then this does not forbid us searching and inquiring after him: though we cannot have adequate ideas of God, yet we should endeavour to get the best we can, and frame the best conceptions of him we are able; that so we may serve and worship him, honour and glorify him, in the best manner. „The world”, the heathen world, even the wisest in it, „by wisdom knew not God”, #1Co 1:21 they knew, or might know, there was a God, but they did not know what he was, and so glorified him not as God. An heathen philosopher {1} being asked this question, what God was? required a day to think of it; when that was up, he asked a second, and still more time; and a reason of his dilatoriness being demanded of him, he replied, that the longer he considered of the question, the more obscure it was to him. Yet, somewhat of God, of his nature and perfections, may be known by the light of nature, #Ro 1:19,20 and more by divine revelation; for though it may with propriety be said, „what is his name”, or nature, „if thou canst, tell?” #Pr 30:4 yet he??? whom the heathens „ignorantly worshipped”, the apostle Paul „declared” unto them, #Ac 17:23 and though the Samaritans worshipped they knew not what, yet Christ declared to the woman of Samaria, what God, the object of spiritual worship, is; saying „God is a spirit”; that is, he is of a spiritual nature, #Joh 4:22,24 and this we may be sure is a true definition, description, and declaration of God, and of his nature; since this was given by the Son of God, who lay in his bosom, and perfectly knew his nature, as well as his will; see #Joh 1:18 Mt 11:27 and by which we are taught,

1. That God is not a body, and that we are, in our conceptions of him, to remove every thing from him that is corporeal; for spirit, and body or flesh, are opposed to one another, #Isa 31:3 Lu 24:39 and yet there have been some, both ancients and moderns, atheistically inclined, who have asserted, that matter is God, and God is universal matter; and that the whole universe is God, and that extension is one of his attributes: and a sort of people called Anthropomorphites, who bore the Christian name, ascribed an human body, and the parts of it, to God, in a proper sense, mistaking some passages of scripture; and the common people, among the papists, have no other notion of God, than of a grave old man: in this respect both Jews and Heathens have better notions; of the Jews, R. Joseph Albo {2}, Maimonides {3}, and others, deny that God is a body, or consists of bodily parts: and of heathens, Pythagoras {4}, Xenophanes {5}, Sallustius {6}, and others {7}, affirm God to be incorporeal; and the Stoics say, he has not an human forms. {8} But if God was matter, which is inert, inactive, and motionless, he could not be the maker and mover of all things, as he is; „for in him we live, and move, and have our being”, #Ac 17:28. Matter is without consciousness, is not capable of thinking, and without understanding, wisdom, and knowledge; and as it is not capable of acting, so much less of doing, such works as require contrivance, skill, wisdom, and knowledge, as the works of creation and providence; and therefore if God was matter, he could not be the Creator and Governor of the world; nor if a body, could he be omnipresent; a body is not every where, cannot be in two places at the same time; whereas God fills heaven and earth: and was he of so huge a body as to take up all space, there would be no room for other bodies, as there certainly is; nor would he be invisible; a body is to be seen and felt; but God is invisible and impalpable; „no man hath seen God at any time”; and if a body, he would not be the most perfect of beings, as he is, since angels, and the souls of men, being spirits, are more excellent than bodies.

It is no objection to this, that the parts of an human body are sometimes attributed to God; since these are to be understood of him not in a proper, but in an improper and figurative sense, and denote some act and action, or attribute of his; thus his face denotes his sight and presence, in which all things are, #Ge 19:13 sometimes his favour and good will, and the manifestation of his love and grace, #Ps 27:8 #Ps 80:3 and sometimes his wrath and indignation against wicked men, #Ps 34:16 Re 6:17. His „eyes” signify his omniscience and all-seeing providence; concerned both with good men, to protect and preserve them, and bestow good things on them; and with bad men, to destroy them, #Pr 15:3 2Ch 16:9 Am 9:8. His „ears”, his readiness to attend unto, and answer the requests of his people, and deliver them out of their troubles, #Ps 34:15 #Isa 59:1. His nose and nostrils, his acceptance of the persons and sacrifices of men, #Ge 8:21 or his disgust at them, anger with them, and non-acceptance of them, #De 29:20 Isa 65:5 Ps 18:8. His mouth is expressive of his commands, promises, threatenings, and prophecies delivered out by him, #La 3:29 Isa 1:20 Jer 23:16. His „arms” and „hands” signify his power, and the exertion of it, as in making the heavens and the earth, and in other actions of his, #Ps 102:27 Job 26:13 Ps 89:13 118:16 #De 33:27.

Nor is it any proof of corporeity in God, that a divine person has sometimes appeared in an human form; so one of the men that came to Abraham, in the plains of Mamre, was no other than the Lord omniscient and omnipotent, as the after discourse with him shows, #Ge 18:3. And the man that wrestled with Jacob till break of day, was a divine person, of which Jacob was sensible; and therefore called the place where he wrestled with him, „Peniel”, the face of God, #Ge 32:24,30. So he that appeared to Manoah, and his wife, #Jud 13:6,10,18 with other instances that might be mentioned. But then these were appearances of the Son of God in an human form, and were presages of his future incarnation; for as for the Father, no man ever saw his shape, #Joh 5:37 and, it may be, the reason why the parts of an human body are so often ascribed to God, may be on account of Christ’s incarnation, to prepare the minds of men for it, to inure them to ideas of it, to raise their expectation of it, and strengthen their faith in it; and the rather since these attributions were more frequent before the coming of Christ in the flesh, and very rarely used afterwards.

Nor will the formation of man in the image, and after the likeness of God, afford a sufficient argument to prove that there is something corporeal in God, seeing man has a soul or spirit, in which this image and likeness chiefly and principally lay; and which was originally created in righteousness and holiness, in wisdom and knowledge: and though he has a body also; yet, inasmuch as a body was prepared in the council and covenant of grace, from eternity, for the Son of God to assume in time; and in the book of God’s eternal purposes, „all the members of it were written; which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them”, #Heb 10:5 Ps 139:16. God might, according to the idea of it in his eternal mind, form the body of the first man.

2. The description of God, as a Spirit, teaches us to ascribe to God all the excellencies to be found in spirits in a more eminent manner, and to consider them as transcendent and infinite in him. By spirits, I understand not subtilized bodies, extracted out of various things; nor the wind and air, so called because invisible, and very piercing and penetrating, though bodies, and very ponderous ones; nor the spirits of animals, which are material, die, and go downwards to the earth: but rational spirits, angels, and the souls of men; the former are called spirits, #Zec 6:5 Heb 1:1,5 and so are the latter, #Job 32:8 Heb 12:23 they are indeed created spirits, #Ps 104:4 Zec 12:1 but God an uncreated one, and is the Creator of these, and therefore said to be, „the Father of spirits”, #Heb 12:9. These are creatures of time, and finite beings; made since the world was, and are not every where: but God is an eternal, infinite, and immense Spirit, from everlasting to everlasting; and whom „the heaven of heavens cannot contain”; yet there are some excellencies in spirits, which may lead more easily to conceive somewhat of God, and of his divine nature.

Spirits are immaterial, have no corporal parts, as flesh, blood, and bones, #Lu 24:39 and though eyes, hands, &c. are ascribed to God, yet not of flesh, #Job 10:4 but such as express what is suitable to spiritual beings in the most exalted sense. Spirits are incorruptible; for having no matter about them, they are not liable to corruption; they are, indeed, capable of moral corruption, as appears from the angels that sinned, and, from the depravity of the souls of men by the fall; but not of natural corruption: but God is not subject to corruption in any sense, and is therefore called the „incorruptible God”, #Ro 1:23 Spirits are immortal; angels die not, #Lu 20:36 the souls of men cannot be killed, #Mt 10:28 not consisting of parts, that are capable of being divided and separated, they cannot be brought to destruction. It is one of the characters of God, that he is „immortal”, yea, „only hath immortality”; and so more transcendently, and in a more eminent manner immortal than angels, and the souls of men; he has it of himself, and underivatively, and is the giver of it to others, #1Ti 1:17 6:16. Spirits are invisible; it is a vulgar mistake that they are to be seen; who ever saw the soul of a man? or an angel, in its pure form? whenever they have made themselves visible, it has been by assuming another form, an human one. „God is invisible, and dwells in light, which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see”, #1Ti 1:17,6:16 and therefore as no likeness and similitude of a spirit can be formed and taken, so none of God: who can tell of what colour, form and figure, shape and size, the soul of a man is? Nor can any describe the form and figure of an angel: as for the pictures, paintings, and sculptures of them, they are the fruit of mere fancy and imagination, and at most but emblematical: because angels have appeared in an human form, therefore they are painted as young men; and because of their quick dispatch, and swiftness, in doing the errands and messages they have been sent upon, wings are given, them; but never was such a creature in real being, or ever seen in the whole world, in any age, as a young man with wings at his shoulders. So no likeness can be formed of God; no similitude was ever seen of him, and to whom can he be likened and compared? #De 4:12, Isa 40:18,46:5. Some of the Heathens {9} have acknowledged the invisibility of God, as a Spirit; and Aristotle {10} argues the invisibility of God, from the invisibility of the soul of man.

But besides these properties, there are others still more excellent in spirits, by which they approach nearer to God, and bear a greater resemblance to him, and serve to give us clearer ideas of his nature; they are living, active, endowed with understanding, will, and affections; they are lively, have a principle of life; angels are commonly thought to be the living creatures in Ezekiel’s vision; however, they are such, and so the souls of men: the body of Adam, when first made, was a lifeless lump of clay; but when God breathed into him the breath of life, „he became a living soul”, #Ge 2:7. God is the living God, has life in and of himself, and gives life to all creatures that have it. Spirits are active, and can operate upon others, as the souls of men on their bodies; God is all act, „actus simplicissimus”, as he is sometimes styled, the most simple act; there is nothing passive in him, as matter, to be wrought upon; he works, and always works; and „all creatures live and move, and have their being in him”, #Joh 5:17, Ac 17:28. Spirits, angels, and the souls of men, are intelligent beings, have a faculty of understanding things natural and spiritual; the understanding of God is infinite, there is no searching of it; lie understands himself, and all created beings, and their natures, #Ps 147:6, Isa 40:28. Spirits have the power of willing, they are voluntary agents; and God wills whatever he does, and does whatever he wills; his will is boundless, uncontrollable, and sovereign, #Ps 115:3, Da 4:35. Spirits have the affections of love, mercy, pity, &c. God not only loves his creatures, but „is love itself”, #1Jo 4:16. „His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, on them that fear him”; and he pities them as a father pities his children, #Ps 103:13, 17.

3. God being a Spirit, we learn that he is a simple {11} and uncompounded Being, and does not consist of parts, as a body does; his spirituality involves his simplicity: some indeed consider this as an attribute of God; and his spirituality also: and, indeed, every attribute of God, is God himself, is his nature, and are only so many ways of considering it, or are so many displays of it. However, it is certain God is not composed of parts, in any sense; not in a physical sense, of essential parts, as matter and form, of which bodies consist: nor of integral parts, as soul and body, of which men consist: nor in a „metaphysical” sense, as of essence and existence, of act and power: nor in a „logical” sense, as of kind and difference, substance and accident; all which would argue imperfection, weakness, and mutability. If God was composed of parts he would not be „eternal”, and absolutely the first Being, since the composing parts would, at least, co-exist with him; besides, the composing parts, in our conception of them, would be prior to the compositum; as the body and soul of man, of which he is composed, are prior to his being a man: and, beside, there must be a composer, who puts the parts together, and therefore must be before what is composed of them: all which is inconsistent with the eternity of God: nor would he be „infinite” and „immense”; for either these parts are finite, or infinite; if finite, they can never compose an infinite Being; and if infinite, there must be more infinities than one, which implies a contradiction: nor would he be „independent”; for what is composed of parts, depends upon those parts, and the union of them, by which it is preserved: nor would he be „immutable”, unalterable, and immortal; since what consists of parts, and depends upon the union of them, is liable to alteration, and to be resolved into those parts again, and so be dissolved and come to destruction. In short, he would not be the most perfect of Beings; for as the more spiritual a being is, the more perfect it is; and so it is, the more simple and uncompounded it is: as even all things in nature are more noble, and more pure, the more free they are from composition and mixture.

Nor is the simplicity of God to be disproved by the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead; for though there are three distinct persons, there is but one nature and essence common to them all, and which is not parted and divided among them, but is jointly and equally possessed by them; nor do these persons really differ from the divine nature and essence, nor from one another, but by their distinct modes of subsisting; so that they only distinguish and modify, but do neither divide nor compose the divine nature: nor is it to be disproved by the decrees of God; the decrees of God are within himself, and, as it is commonly said, whatever is in God, is God, and so are no other than God himself, as to the act of decreeing, though not with respect to the things decreed; and though they are many and various, as to the objects of them, yet not in God, who, by one eternal act, in his infinite mind, has decreed every thing that has been, is, or shall be; and is what Plato {12} means by en kai polla, „one” and „many” in God; one, as to his essence; many, as to the ideas and decrees in it, which many are one: nor is it to be disproved by the attributes of God; for they are no other than God himself, and neither differ from one another, but with respect to their objects, and effect, and in our manner of conception of them; nor from the nature and essence of God; they are himself, and his nature; he is not only eternal, wise, good, loving, &c. but he is eternity itself, wisdom itself, goodness itself, love itself, &c. and these are not parts of his nature, but displays of the same undivided nature, and are different considerations of it, in which we view it; our minds being so weak as not to be able to conceive of God at once and together, and in the gross, but one thing after another, and the same in different lights, that we may better understand it: these several things, called attributes, which are one in God, are predicated of him, and ascribed to him distinctly, for helps to our finite understandings, and for the relief of our minds; and that we, with more facility and ease, might conceive of the nature of God, and take in more of him, as we can by parcels and piecemeals, than in the whole; and so, as a learned Jew {13} observes, all those attributes are only intellectual notions; by which are conceived the perfections that are in the essence of God, but in reality are nothing but his essence; and which attributes will be next considered.

–End of Chapter–


{1} Simonides apud Cicero. de Natura Deor. l. 1.

{2} Sepher Ikkarim, l. 2. c. 6.

{3} Hilchot Yesude Hatorah, c. 1. s. 5. , 6.

{4} Apud Laetant. de Ira, c. 11.

{5} Apud Clement. Stromat. 5. p. 601.

{6} De Diis et Mundo, c. 2.

{7} So Aristotle, Laert. l. 5, in Vita ejus.

{8} Laert. l. 7. in Vita Zeno.

{9} Philemon et Orpheus apud Justin. de Monarch. p. 104, 105.

{10} De Mundo, c. 6. so Minutius Felix, in octavia, p. 35, 36.

{11} aploun te einai, kai pantwn hkista thv eautou ideav ekba. nein, is simple, and least of all departs from his own idea, –remains alway simply in his own form, Plato de Republ. l. 2. p. 606.

{12} In Philebo, p. 372, &c. et in Parmenide, p. 1110, &c.

{13} R. Joseph Albo in Sepher lkkarim, l. 2. c. 8.

Doctrinal Divinity~Book 1

Chapter 5:

Of The Attributes of God In General, and of his Immutability In Particular

The attributes of God are variously distinguished by divines; some distinguish them into negative and positive, or affirmative: the negative are such as remove from him whatever is imperfect in creatures; such are infinity, immutability, immortality, &c. which deny him to be finite, mutable, and mortal; and, indeed, it is easier to say what God is not, than what he is: the positive, or affirmative, are such as assert some perfection in God, which is in and of himself; and which in the creatures, in any measure, is from him, as wisdom, goodness, justice, holiness, &c. but the distinction is discarded by others; because in all negative attributes some positive excellency is found. Some distribute them into a „twofold order”, first and second: attributes, or essential properties of the „first order”, declare the essence of God as in himself, such as his simplicity and perfection, infinity and immutability; and attributes, or essential properties of the „second order”, which though primarily and properly, and naturally, and infinitely, and in a more excellent manner are in God, than in creatures; yet secondarily, and in an analogical sense, are in them, there being some similitude of them in them, of which there is none of the former order in them; these are said to be life and immortality, blessedness and glory. Again, some are said to be „absolute”, and others „relative”: absolute ones are such as eternally agree with the essence of God, without respect to his creatures, and are expressed by his names, Jehovah, Jah, &c. relative ones are such as agree with him in time, with some certain respect to his creatures, and are expressed by his being their Creator, Governor, Preserver, Redeemer, &c. some are called „proper”, as those before mentioned; and others „figurative”, signified by the parts of the human body, and the affections of the mind, as observed in the preceding chapter: but the more commonly received distinction of the attributes of God, is, into the „communicable” and „incommunicable” ones; the incommunicable attributes of God, are such as there is no appearance or shadow of them in creatures; as independence, immutability, immensity, and eternity: communicable ones, are such as are common to God, with men; or, however, of which there is some resemblance in men, as goodness, holiness, justice, and wisdom; yet of these it may be said, that they are incommunicable, as they are in God, in whom they are infinite, and cannot, as such, be communicated to finite creatures: none but God is essentially, originally, underivatively, perfectly, and infinitely good, holy, just, and wise. But as God is defined a „Spirit” in scripture, as has been observed, I shall endeavour to sort the perfections and attributes of God in agreement with that: and with respect to his nature, as an uncreated Spirit, may be referred, besides his spirituality, and simplicity, already considered, his immutability, and infinity, which includes his immensity, or omnipresence, and eternity: and with respect to it as active, and operative, the life of God, and his omnipotence: and with respect to the faculties, as a rational spirit, particularly the understanding, to which may belong, his omniscience, and manifold wisdom; and the will, under which may be considered the acts of that, and the sovereignty of it; and the affections, to which may be reduced, the love, grace, mercy, hatred, anger, patience, and long suffering of God: and lastly, under the notions of qualities and virtues, may be considered, his goodness, holiness, justice, truth, and faithfulness; and, as the complement of the whole, his perfection or all-sufficiency, glory, and blessedness: and in this order I shall consider them. And begin with,

The Immutability of God; which arises from, and is closely connected with his spirituality and simplicity, or is what agrees with him, and is necessary to him as a spiritual, simple and uncompounded Being {1}.

Immutability is an attribute which God claims, and challenges as peculiar to himself; „I am the Lord, I change not”, #Mal 3:6. Mutability belongs to creatures, immutability to God only; creatures change, but he does not: the heavens and the earth, which he has made, are not always the same; but „he is the same for ever”: the visible heavens are often changing; they are sometimes serene and clear, at other times covered with clouds and darkness, and filled with meteors, snow, rain, hail, &c. the face of the earth appears different at the various seasons of the year, and is particularly renewed every spring: it has undergone one great change by a flood, and will undergo another by fire; when that, and „the works that are therein, shall be burnt up; and the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved; and the elements shall melt with fervent heat”; and „new heavens”, and „a new earth”, shall succeed, #2Pe 3:10,12,13 to which changeableness in them, the unchangeableness of God is opposed: „All of them shall wax old like a garment, as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end”, #Ps 102:25-27. The sun in the firmament, that great luminary, and fountain of light and heat, in allusion to which, God is called „the Father of lights”, has its parallaxes, or various appearances, at morning, noon, and evening; it has its risings and settings; and never rises and sets at the same point in the heavens one day in the year, but always varies a little; it is sometimes under clouds, and in an eclipse; but „with” God „is no variableness”, parallagh, or a parallax; the sun, at certain seasons of the year, passes from one tropic, and enters into another, as well as casts shades on the earth; but with God there is „no shadow of turning”, trophv, of a trope, or tropic; there is no mutation nor turning in him, nor shadow of any, #Jas 1:17 #Job 23:13 the inhabitants of heaven and earth are changeable, even the most excellent of them, angels and men: angels in their original nature and state, were subject to change, as the apostasy of many of them have shown; who have changed both state and place; they „kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation”, being obliged to the latter, because of the former; for sinning against God, they were hurled out of heaven, and „cast down to hell, and delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment”, #Jude 1:6 2Pe 2:4 the angels which stood when the rest fell, are now indeed become impeccable, and are firmly settled in their state of integrity; but then this is owing not to their own nature, but to the electing grace of God, in Christ, and to the confirming grace of Christ, their head, who is the „head of all principality and power”, #1Ti 5:21 Col 2:10. Man, at his best estate, his estate of innocence, and integrity, was „altogether vanity”: for though not sinful, yet being mutable, and left to the mutability of his will, which was his vanity, when tempted fell into sin; and though made upright, lost the rectitude of his nature; though made after the image of God, soon came short of that glory; and though he had dominion over the creatures, being in honour, he abode not long, but became like those he had the power over; and though placed in the most delightful and fruitful spot in all the globe, yet, rebelling against his Maker and Benefactor, was driven out from thence by him; and is now a creature subject to innumerable changes in life; diseases of various sorts seize his body, and change his beauty and his strength, and death at last turns him to corruption and dust; he is like the changeable grass of the field; flourishes a while, is then cut down, and withers away; but God and his „word endure for ever” the same, #1Pe 1:24,25 good men are very mutable, both in their inward and outward estate: in spiritual affairs; in the frames of their minds, in the affections of their souls, in the exercise of grace, in their devotion and obedience to God, and worship of him: in temporal affairs; what an instance of mutability was Job, in his estate, in his family, and in his health and friends? well might he say, „changes and war are against me”, #Job 10:17 and at length came to his great and last change, death; as all men must, even the best of men: indeed, in the future state, good men will be no more subject to change; their spirits will be made perfect, and sin no more, nor sorrow any more; and their bodies, when raised, will remain immortal, incorruptible, spiritual, powerful, and glorious; but this will be owing, not to themselves, but to the unchangeable grace and power of God: God only is in and of himself immutable; and he is unchangeable in his nature, perfections, and purposes, and in his love and affections to his people, and in his covenant, and the blessings and promises of it; and even in his threatenings.

1. In his nature and essence, being „simple”, and devoid of all composition, as has been proved: the more simple and free from mixture and composition anything is, the less subject to change. gold and silver, being the purest and freest of all metals from composition, are not so alterable as others: spirits, being uncompounded, and not consisting of parts, are not so changeable as bodies; and God, being an infinite and uncreated Spirit, and free from composition in every sense, is entirely and perfectly immutable: and since he is „eternal”, there can be no change of time with him; time doth not belong to him, only to a creature, which is the measure of its duration; and began when a creature began to be, and not before; but God is before all creatures; they being made by him, and so before time; he was the same before the day was as now, and now as he was before; „even the same today, yesterday, and for ever”: though he is „the ancient of days”, he does not become older and older; he is no older now than he was millions of ages ago, nor will be millions of ages to come; his eternity is an everlasting and unchangeable „now”; „He is the same, and his years shall have no end”, #Ps 102:27 Heb 13:8 and seeing he is „infinite, immense, and omnipresent”; there can be no change of place with him, for he „fills heaven and earth” with his presence; he is everywhere, and cannot change or move from place to place; when therefore he is said to „come down” on earth, or to „depart” from men, it is not to be understood of local motion, or change of place; but of some uncommon exertion of his power, and demonstration of his presence, or of the withdrawment of some benefit from them: but this will be considered more largely under the attribute of omnipresence, in its proper place. God is the „most perfect” Being, and therefore can admit of no change in his nature, neither of increase nor decrease, of addition nor diminution; if he changes, it must be either for the better or the worse; if for the better, then he was imperfect before, and so not God: if for the worse, then he becomes imperfect; and the same follows: a like reasoning is used by Plato {2}, and by another ancient philosopher {3}, who asserts that God is good, impassable and unchangeable; for whatsoever is changed, says he, is either for the better or the worse; if for the worse, it becomes bad; and if for the better, it was bad at first. Or if he changes from an infinitely perfect state, to another equally so, then there must be more infinites than one, which is a contradiction. Again, if any change is made in him, it must be either from somewhat within him, or from somewhat without him; if from within, he must consist of parts; there must be „another” and „another” in him; he must consist of act and power; there must be not only something active in him, to work upon him, but a passive power to be, wrought upon; which is contrary to his simplicity, already established; for, as a Jew {4} well argues, what necessarily exists of itself, has no other cause by which it can be changed; nor that which changes, and that which is changed, cannot be together; for so there would be in it two, one which changes, and another which is changed, and so would be compound; which is inconsistent with the simplicity of God: if from somewhat without him, then there must be a superior to him, able to move and change him; but he is the most high God; there is none in heaven nor in earth above him; he is „God over all, blessed for ever”.

Nor is the immutability of the divine nature to be disproved from the creation of the world, and all things in it; as when it is suggested, God, from a non-agent, became an agent, and acquired a new relation, that of a Creator, from whence mutability is argued: but it should be observed, that God had from all eternity the same creative power, and would have had, if he had never created any thing; and when he put it forth in time, it was according to his unchangeable will in eternity, and produced no change in him; the change was in the creatures made, not in him the Maker; and though a relation results from hence, and which is real in creatures, is only nominal in the Creator, and makes no change in his nature.

Nor is the unchangeableness of the divine nature to be disproved by the incarnation of Christ; for though he, a divine Person, possessed of the divine nature, was „made flesh”, or became man; the divine nature in him was not changed into the human nature, nor the human nature into the divine, nor a third nature made out of them both; was this the case, the divine nature would have been changeable; but so it was not; for as it has been commonly said, „Christ remained what he was, and assumed what he was not”; and what he assumed added nothing to his divine person; he was only „manifest in the flesh”; he neither received any perfection, nor imperfection, from the human nature; though that received dignity and honour by its union to him, and was adorned with the gifts and graces of the Spirit without measure, and is now advanced at the right hand of God. Nor was any change made in the divine nature by the sufferings of Christ; the divine nature is incable of suffering, and is one reason why Christ assumed the human nature, that he might be capable of suffering and dying in the room and stead of his people; and though the Lord of life and glory was crucified, and God purchased the church with his own blood, and the blood of Christ is called the blood of the Son of God; yet he was crucified in the human nature only, and his blood was shed in that, to which the divine person gave virtue and efficacy, through its union to it; but received no change by all this.

2. God is unchangeable in his perfections or attributes; which, though they are the same with himself, his nature and essence, as has been observed; yet, considering them separately, they are helps to our better understanding of it, and serve particularly to illustrate the unchangeableness of it: thus, for instance, he is the same in his power as ever; though that has been displayed in various instances, in creation, providence, &c. it is not exhausted, nor in the least diminished; his hand is not shortened, his strength is everlasting, his power eternal, invariably the same: his „knowledge” is the same; his „understanding is infinite”, it can be neither increased nor lessened; the knowledge of angels and men increases gradually; but not so the knowledge of God, he knows no more now than he did from all eternity, he knew as much then as he does now; for he knows and sees all things together, and at once, in his vast eternal mind, and not one thing after another, as they appear in time; things past, present, and to come, are all beheld by him in one view; that is, which are so with respect to creatures, for with him there is no such consideration: his „goodness”, grace, and mercy, are immutable; though there has been such a profusion of his goodness to his creatures, and so many good and perfect gifts have been bestowed on them, it is still the same in him, without any abatement; he is abundant in it, and it endures continually the same: and so is his grace, which has been exceedingly abundant; he is as gracious and merciful as ever; „his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, to them that fear him”; and his faithfulness he never suffers to fail; even though men believe not, he abides faithful; and the unbelief of men cannot make the faith or faithfulness of God without effect. And as he is „glorious” in „holiness”, that perfection never receives any tarnish, can never be sullied, but is always illustriously the same; there is no unrighteousness in God, he cannot change from holiness to unholiness, from righteousness to unrighteousness; he is the just one, that neither can nor will do iniquity; and so he is unchangeably good, and unchangeably happy, and immutable in every perfection.

3. God is unchangeable in his purposes and decrees, there is a purpose for everything, and a time for that purpose; God has determined all that ever was, is, or shall be; all things come to pass according to the counsel of his will, and all his decrees are unchangeable; they are like the laws of the Medes and Persians, and more unalterable than they were; they are the mountains of brass Zechariah saw in a vision, from whence proceed the providences of God, and the executioners of them, #Zec 6:1 called „mountains” because of their immoveableness, and mountains of „brass” to denote their greater firmness and stability: immutability is expressly spoken of the counsel of God, #Heb 6:17 the purposes of God are always carried into execution, they are never frustrated; it is not in the power of men and devils to disannul them; whatever devices and counter workings to them may be framed and formed, they are of no avail; „the counsel of the Lord stands for ever.” #Ps 33:11 Pr 19:21 21:30 Isa 14:24,27 #Isa 46:10 the purposes of God are „within” himself, #Eph 1:9 and what is in himself, is himself, and he can as soon cease to be as to alter his mind, or change his counsels; and they are „eternal”, #Eph 3:11 no new thoughts arise in his mind, no new resolutions are formed in his breast, no new decrees are made by him; his counsels are „of old”; and his purposes are called „counsels”, because designs wisely formed by men, are with consultation, and upon mature deliberation: and such are the decrees of God, they are made with the highest wisdom by him, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working, and so are unchangeable: and besides, being „all-knowing”, he sees and declares the end from the beginning, and nothing unforeseen ever can appear to hinder the execution of his intentions and determinations; which is sometimes the case with men: and he is „able” to perform whatever he resolves upon; there is no lack of wisdom, nor of power in him, as often is in men; and he is „faithful” to himself, his purposes and decrees; his „counsels of old are faithfulness and truth”; or are truly and faithfully performed.

Nor is the immutability of the decrees of God to be disproved by his providences, which are many and various, unsearchable and past finding out, and which may seem to differ from, and clash with one another; for all the changes in providence, whether with respect to the world in general, or with respect to individuals, are according to his unchangeable will. Job was a remarkable instance of changes in providence, and yet he was fully persuaded of the unchangeable will of God in them, and which he strongly expresses; „He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doth; for he performeth the thing that is appointed for me; and many such things are with him”, #Job 23:13,14. Nor is it to be disproved by the different declarations of the will of God, what he would have observed and done, in the different dispensations of law and gospel. God, by Moses, ordered the children of Israel, to observe certain laws, rites, and ceremonies, until the time of reformation, and then there was a disannulling of them; the heavens and earth were shaken, that is, the whole Mosaic economy and dispensation, whereby these were removed and laid aside as useless, and other ordinances were fixed, to remain till Christ’s second coming; but then the delivery of the one, and the time of their continuance, and the abolition of them, and the settling of the other gospel ordinances to remain to the end of the world, were all according to the unchangeable will of God.

Nor is prayer any objection to the immutability of the divine will, which is not to be altered by it; for when the mind of God is not towards a people to do them good, it cannot be turned to them by the most fervent and importunate prayers of those who have the greatest interest in him, #Jer 15:1 and when he bestows blessings on a praying people, it is not for the sake of their prayers, as if he was inclined and turned by them: but for his own sake, and of his own sovereign will and pleasure. Should it be said, to what purpose then is prayer? it is answered, this is the way and means God has appointed, for the communication of the blessings of his goodness to his people; for though he has purposed, provided, and promised them, yet he will be sought unto, to give them to them, and it is their duty and privilege to ask them of him; and when they are blessed with a spirit of prayer, it forebodes well, and looks as if God intended to bestow the good things asked; and which should be asked always with submission to the will of God, saying, „not my will, but thine be done”.

4. God is unchangeable in his love and affections to his people; „his love to them is from everlasting to everlasting”, without any variation in his own heart, however different the manifestations of it may be to them; he ever rests in his love, and never alters, nothing can separate from it, he is love itself, and it is as unchangeable as himself, „the same today, yesterday, and for ever”: the fall made no difference in it, though the special objects of it fell with Adam, in his transgression, into the depths of sin and misery; this hindered not, but God continued his love, and manifested it in sending his Son to be the propitiation for their sins, and commended it, and gave a full proof and demonstration of it, in the delivery of Christ to death for them, even while they were yet sinners: nor does the sinful state and condition they were brought into, and continue in from their birth to their conversion, make any alteration in his love; but notwithstanding that, for the great love with which he loves them, he „quickens them when dead in trespasses and sins”; he looks upon them in all the impurity of their natural state, and says to them, „live”; and this time, as it is a time of life, it is a time of open love; see #Eph 2:4,5 #Eze 16:6-8 Tit 3:3-5. Nor do the hidings of God’s face from them after conversion, prove any change in his love to them; for though he hides his face from them, and forsakes them for a moment, in a little seeming wrath, to show his resentment at their sins, to bring them to a sense of them, to humble them before him, and to cause them to seek his face and favour; yet with great mercies he gathers them again to himself, in the most tender manner, and with lovingkindness, has mercy on them; and, for the strengthening of their faith in his love, swears he will not be wroth with them; and declares his lovingkindness to be more immoveable than hills and mountains, #Isa 54:7-10. Afflictions are no evidence of a change of affections to them; though he may thoroughly chastise them, and, as they may think, severely, yet he deals with them but as children; and, like Ephraim, they are his dear sons and daughters, and pleasant children, in whom he takes the utmost complacency and delight; chastenings are rather proofs of sonship, than arguments against it. God’s rebukes of them are rebukes in love, and not in wrath and hot displeasure; though he visits their transgressions with a rod and stripes, he does not utterly, nor at all, take away his lovingkindness in Christ from them, #Jer 31:18,20 Heb 12:6-8 Re 3:19 Ps 89:32,33. Nor is the unchangeableness of the love of God to his people to be disproved by his being said to be angry with them, and then to turn away his anger from them, #Isa 12:1 for anger is not opposite to love. Jacob was angry with his beloved Rachel, and a father may be angry with his beloved child, and love him not the less. Wrath and hatred are opposed to love, which are never in the heart of God towards his beloved ones: besides, this is said after the manner of men, and according to our apprehension of things; the Lord doing somewhat similar to men when they are angry, who frown and turn away; and when God frowns in his providence, and deserts his people for a while, they judge he is angry, when it only shows his discipline at their sins, but not at their persons; and then, when he smiles upon them again, and manifests his pardoning grace and mercy, they conclude he has turned himself from the fierceness of his anger, #Ps 85:2,3.

5. God is unchangeable in his covenant of grace. This was made with Christ from everlasting, and stands fast with him; it is as immoveable as a rock, and can never be broken; the blessings of it are „sure mercies”, flow from the sovereign grace and mercy of God, and are sure and firm, being according to his unchangeable will, and are what he never repents of, nor revokes; and being once bestowed, are irreversible, and never taken away; such as are blessed with them are always blessed, and it is not in the power of men and devils to reverse them, #Ro 11:29 8:30 the promises of the covenant, which are gone out of his mouth and lips are unalterable; what has been said of purposes may be said of promises, that they were made before the world were, by God, that cannot lie, who is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful, and faithful to perform them; and besides, „all the promises are yea and amen in Christ”. Nay, even God is unchangeable in his threatenings, he watches to bring the evil he has threatened, as well as the good he has promised; and he assuredly performs the one as the other, #Da 9:14 Isa 1:20 Jer 23:20.

Nor is the unchangeableness of God in his word, whether in a way of promise or threatening, to be disproved by repentance being ascribed to him, which is to be taken in a limited sense, for in some sense it is absolutely denied of him, #Nu 23:19 1Sa 15:29. When it is spoken of him, it is to be understood improperly and figuratively, after the manner of men, he doing like what men do, when they repent, that is, undo what they have done; as a potter, when he does not like a vessel he has made, breaks it to pieces: so when it repented God that he had made man on earth, and Saul king, #Ge 6:6 1Sa 15:11 he destroyed man from off the earth, whom he had created; and took away the kingdom from Saul and his family, and gave it to another: in doing which he did not change his mind, but his operations and providences, and that according to his unchangeable will.

Nor is the immutability of God, in his promises and threatenings, to be disproved, by observing, that the promised good, and threatened evil, are not always done. For it should be considered, that what is promised or threatened, is either absolutely and unconditionally, or with a condition: now that anything promised or threatened, absolutely and unconditionally, is not performed, must be denied; but if with a condition, and that condition not performed, the change will appear to be not in God, but in men: and in all such cases where God does not what he said he would do, a condition is either expressed or implied; see #Jer 18:8,9,10. Thus God promised that he would dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem, in the temple, and there should be his „rest for ever”, #Ps 132:13,14 and the people of Israel should dwell in their land, and eat the good of it; but then it was provided they were obedient to God, and abode in his service and worship, and kept his laws and ordinances, #Isa 1:19 but they failing herein, he departed from them, and suffered them to be carried captive: in all which there was a change of his dispensations, but no change of his will. He threatened the Ninevites with the destruction of their city within forty days, that is, unless they repented: they did repent, and were saved from ruin, God repenting of what he had threatened; which, though a change of his outward conduct towards them, he threatened them with, was no change of his will; for both their repentance, and their deliverance, were according to his unchangeable will, #Jon 3:4,10. Nor is the case of Hezekiah any objection to the immutability of God; the outward declaration ordered to be made to him, was, that he should „die and not live”; as he must have done quickly, according to the nature of second causes, his disease being mortal; but the secret will of God was, that he should live „fifteen years” longer, as he did; which implies neither contradiction nor change: the outward declaration was made to humble Hezekiah, to set him a praying, and to make use of means; whereby the unchangeable will of God was accomplished.

–End of Chapter–


{1} to yeion ametablhton anagkaion einai, Aristot. de Coelo, l. 1. c. 9. pav yeov ametablhtov, Sallust. de Diis, c. 1. 2.

{2} De Republica, l. 2. p. 606.

{3} Sallustius de Diis et Mundo, c. l.

{4} R. Joseph Albo in Sepher Ikkarim, l. 2. c. 5.

Doctrinal Divinity~Book 1

Chapter 6:

Of The Infinity Of God, His Omnipresence And Eternity

The next attribute of God to be considered is, his „Infinity”; when we say that God is „infinite”, the meaning is, that he is unbounded and unlimited, unmeasurable or immense, unsearchable and not to be comprehended. This attribute chiefly respects and includes the „omnipresence” and „eternity” of God; these are the two branches of it; he is not bounded by space, and therefore is everywhere; and he is not bounded by time, so he is eternal {1}: and that he is in this sense infinite appears from his spirituality and simplicity, before established; he is not a body, consisting of parts; was he, he would be finite; for body, or matter, is a creature of time, and not eternal; and is limited to a certain place, and so not everywhere; but God is a Spirit: though this barely is not sufficient to prove him infinite; because there are finite spirits, as angels, and the souls of men; these are created spirits, and have a beginning, though they will have no end; which is owing not to themselves, but to the power of God, that supports them in their being; who could, if he would, annihilate them; and they are definitively in some place, and so, on all accounts, finite: but God is an uncreated Spirit; was before all time, so not bounded by it; and was before space or place were, and existed without it; and so not to be limited to it, and by it. He is the „first Being”, and from whom all others have their being; „Before him there was no God formed, neither shall there be after him; yea, he is the first and the last”, #Isa 43:10 44:6 and therefore there is none before him nor above him, to limit and restrain him: he is an „independent” Being; all creatures depend on him, but he depends on none; all things are „of” him, „through” him, and „to” him, as the first cause and last end of them {2}: all creatures live, and move, and have their being in him; but not he in them: men, angels, good and bad, are checked and limited by him; but not he by them. He is „immutable”; this attribute has been already established; but if he changes place, or is moved from place to place, or is sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another, he would be mutable: and if he rose from non-existence into existence, or there is any end of his days, he would not be unchangeable; but he is the „same”, and his „years shall have no end”: immutability infers both omnipresence and eternity, the two branches of Infinity. We commonly say that sin is infinite, and the truest reason that can be given for it is, because God is the object of it; for as an act, it is finite, being the act of a finite creature; but with respect to the object against whom it is committed, it is infinite, and requires an infinite satisfaction; which none but an infinite person can give, and which Christ is in his divine nature, and so gave to his sufferings and death, in his human nature united to him, an infinite value and virtue, whereby justice had from them an infinite satisfaction.

God is infinite in all his attributes; and which are indeed, himself, his nature; as has been observed, and are separately considered by us, as a relief to our mind, and helps to our better understanding it; and, perhaps, by observing some of these distinctly, we may have a clearer idea of the infinity of God. His „understanding” is infinite, as is expressly said, #Ps 147:5 it reaches to, and comprehends all things that are, though ever so numerous; to the innumerable company of angels in the highest heavens; to the innumerable stars in the lower ones; to the innumerable inhabitants of the earth, men, and beasts, and fowl; and to the innumerable creatures that swim in the sea; yea, not only to all that are in being, but to all things possible to be made, which God could have made if he would; these he sees and knows in his eternal mind, so that there is „no searching of his understanding”, #Isa 40:28 there is no end of it, and therefore infinite. The same may be said of his knowledge and wisdom, there is a bayov, a „depth”, the apostle ascribes, to both; and which is not to be sounded by mortals, #Ro 11:33 he is „a God of knowledge” or „knowledges”, of all things that are knowable, #1Sa 2:3 he is the only and the all-wise God; and in comparison of him the wisdom of the wisest of creatures, the angels, is but folly, #Job 4:18. The power of God is infinite; with him nothing is impossible; his power has never been exerted to the uttermost; he that has made one world, could have made millions; there is no end of his power, and his making of that, proves his „eternal power”, that is, his infinite power; for nothing but infinite power could ever have made a world out of nothing, #Ro 1:20 #Heb 11:3. His „goodness” is infinite, he is abundant in it, the earth is full of it, all creatures partake of it, and it endures continually; though there has been such a vast profusion of it from the beginning of the world, in all ages, it still abounds: there is no end of it, it is infinite, it is boundless; nor can there be any addition to it; it is infinitely perfect, „my goodness extends not to thee”, #Ps 16:2. God is infinite in his „purity, holiness, and justice”: there is none holy as he is; or pure and righteous, with him; in comparison of him, the most holy creatures are impure, and cover themselves before him, #Job 4:17,18 #Isa 6:2,3 in short, he is infinitely perfect, and infinitely blessed and happy. We rightly give him titles and epithets of „immense” and „incomprehensible”, which belong to his infinity. He is „immense”, that is, unmeasurable; he measures all things, but is measured by none; who can take his dimensions? they are „as high as heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know?” If the heavens above cannot be measured, and the foundations of the earth beneath cannot be searched out, how should he be measured or searched out to perfection that made all these? #Job 11:7-9 Jer 31:37. As there is an height, a depth, a length and breadth in the love of God, immeasurable, #Eph 3:18 so there is in every attribute of God, and consequently in his nature; his immensity is his magnitude, and of his „greatness” it is said, that it is „unsearchable”, #Ps 145:3 and therefore, upon the whole, must be „incomprehensible”; not only cannot be comprehended and circumscribed by space, or in place, „for the heaven of heavens cannot contain” him; but he is not to be comprehended by finite minds, that cannot conceive of him as he is; his omniscience is „too wonderful” for them, and „the thunder of his power who can understand?” Somewhat of him may be apprehended, but his nature and essence can never be comprehended, no not in a state of perfection; sooner may all the waters of the ocean be put into a nutshell, than that the infinite Being of God should be comprehended by angels or men, who are finite creatures; infinity is an attribute peculiar to God, and, as has been observed, its two chief branches are „omnipresence” and „eternity”; which will be next considered.

1. The „Omnipresence” of God, or his ubiquity, which, as it is included in his infinity, is a branch of it, and strictly connected with it, it must, be strongly concluded from it; for if God is infinite, that is, unbounded with respect to space and place, then he must be everywhere; and this is to be proved from his power, which is everywhere: as appears, not only in the creation of all things, as the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, the earth, and the ends of them, and all that is in them; but in his providence, supporting and sustaining them; for not only the creatures have their being in him, and from him, and therefore he must be near them; but „he upholds all things by his power”, they consist in him, he provides for them, and preserves them all; and which is the argument the apostle uses to prove that he is not far from them, #Ac 17:27,28. The omnipresence of God may be argued from the distributions of his goodness to all; to angels and glorified saints, who partake of his special favours; to all men on earth, to whom he does not leave himself without a witness of his kindness to them, giving them food and raiment, and all things richly to enjoy; he is present among them, and opens his hand and plentifully and liberally communicates to them: as well as from his universal government of the world by his wisdom; for his kingdom rules over all, the kingdom of nature and providence is his, and „he is the Governor among the nations”. And as he is everywhere by his power and providence, so he is by his knowledge; all things are naked and open to him, being all before him, and he present with them; though he is in the highest heaven, he can see and judge through the dark clouds, and behold all the inhabitants of the world, and their actions: and since these attributes of power, wisdom, and knowledge, are no other than his nature, or than himself, he must be everywhere by his essence; and which is most clear from the omnipresence of the divine nature in Christ, who, as a divine person, was in heaven, when he, as man, was here on earth, #Joh 1:18 3:13 and, indeed, unless he was omnipresent, he could not be in whatsoever place two or three are gathered together in his name, or be in the midst of the candlesticks, the churches, or with his ministers, to the end of the world, #Mt 18:20 28:20 for though this is to be understood of his gracious presence, yet unless he was omnipresent, this could not be vouchsafed to all the saints, and all the churches, in all ages, at different places, at the same time; as when they are worshipping in different parts of the world; as in Europe, so in America. Now if God, personally considered, or in anyone of the divine Persons, is omnipresent, then God, essentially considered, must be so. The presence of God may be observed in a different manner; there is his glorious presence in heaven, where he, in a most eminent manner, displays the glory of his majesty to angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect; and there is his powerful and providential presence with all his creatures, giving them being, and supporting them in it; and there is his gracious presence with good men, regenerating, sanctifying, comforting, and refreshing them; dwelling in them, carrying on his work of grace in them, to fit them for himself in glory; and all suppose his omnipresence: the heathens acknowledge this attribute; Anaxagoras calls him an infinite mind; and Pythagoras {3} defines him, a mind that is diffused throughout all the parts of the world, and goes through all nature; and Sallustius {4} observes, that he is not contained or comprehended in place. So the Jews say {5} the Shecinah, or divine Majesty, is everywhere; and they call God Mwqm, „place”, by an antiphrasis, as Buxtorf {6} observes, because he is not local, who is not contained in any place, but gives place to all; and so the Jews themselves say {7}, that he is the place of the world, but not the world his place, for he is without the world, and fills all worlds; and they further say {8}, he is so called because in every place where the righteous are, he is with them; or as Aben Ezra {9}, expresses it, because every place is full of his glory; agreeable to which Philo, the Jew {10}, says, autov eautw topov he is place, full and sufficient to himself.

This attribute is most clearly expressed in several passages of Scripture, as particularly in #Ps 139:7-10 where the Psalmist asks, „Whither shalt l go from thy Spirit?” which, if it is to be understood of the third Person, the Spirit of the Father, and of the Son; if there is no going from him, then not from them, since the same nature is in the one as in the other; if there is no going from God, personally considered, or as in any of the divine Persons, then not from him, as essentially considered: or by his Spirit may be meant himself, for „God is a Spirit”, #Joh 4:24. He adds, „Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” not his gracious presence, for a good man would never seek to flee from that, nothing being more desirable to him; nor is there anything he more earnestly deprecates than to be cast away from it, #Ps 4:6,7 51:11 but his essential presence, which is everywhere; it is in the Hebrew text „from thy face”; and face signifies the essence and nature of God, which is invisible and incomprehensible, #Ex 33:20 then the Psalmist goes on to enumerate all places that could be thought of to flee to, and yet God was there; „If I ascend to heaven, thou art there”: could he by any means climb up to heaven, there God is in all the glory of his Majesty; there is his palace, his habitation, and his throne. „If I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there”: whether the place where the wicked are turned, and the apostate angels cast; there God is sustaining them in their being, pouring in his wrath into their consciences, and continuing the punishment inflicted on them: or whether the grave is meant, which is sometimes the sense of the word used, and is a bed to saints, #Job 17:13 there God is watching over their dust, preserving it from being lost, in order to raise it up at the last day. „If I take the wings of the morning”, and fly as fast as the morning light, which soon reaches the furthest parts of the earth; or as the rays of the sun, which dart from east to west, at its rising, instantly; „and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea”; in the most remote islands of it, or in the uttermost parts of the western shore; „even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me”: there should he experience the providential goodness and special favour of God to him; who leads, guides, and upholds his people at the ends of the earth, where some of them sometimes are, and where they have his presence, #Isa 45:22 24:16 see a like enumeration of places in #Am 9:2,3 {11}. Another passage of scripture, proving the Omnipresence of God, is in #Isa 66:1. „Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool”. So immense is he that he sits upon the one, and treads on the other: „Where is the house that ye build unto me?” or where can a house be built for him? what place can be found for him he is not possessed of, and does not dwell in already? Stephen, the proto-martyr, produces this to prove, „that the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; that is, cannot be included in them, and limited to them, since he is everywhere, in heaven and in earth, #Ac 7:47-50. But nowhere is the Omnipresence of God more expressly declared than in #Jer 23:23,24. „Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not afar off?” yea, he is both; he not only observes persons and things in heaven, which may be thought at hand, and near him; but persons and things on earth, and those at the greatest distance; he is as near to, and as present with the one as the other; and he sees and knows all that is done by them, as if he was at their elbow; and therefore adds, „Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him, saith the Lord?” As some might foolishly imagine, supposing him to be limited and confined to heaven above, and was not present to see what was done below; especially in the dark and distant places of the earth: „Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?” not only with inhabitants, and with all things, the effects of his power and goodness; but with his nature and essence, which exceeds all bounds of place and space. Hence the Jews call God by the name of „Makom”, place; because he fills all places, and is contained in none; is not local and is infinite.

Nor is this to be disproved by other passages of Scripture, which may seem, at first sight, to discountenance or contradict it; not such as speak of mens’ departing and fleeing from his presence, as Cain and Jonah are said to do, #Ge 4:16 Jon 1:3 for Cain only went either from the place where he and the Lord had been conversing; or from the public place of worship, at the east of the garden of Eden, where were the symbol of the divine presence, an altar, where he and his brother had sacrificed. Jonah’s fleeing, was withdrawing himself from the service of God, and declining to go on his errand; foolishly imagining, that, by going beyond sea, he should avoid being urged to his duty; but he soon found his mistake, and that God was everywhere, and could meet with him by sea and by land. Likewise, not such that represent God as descending from heaven; as at the building of Babel, at the cry of the sin of Sodom, and on mount Sinai, #Ge 11:5,7 18:21 Ex 19:18,20 for these only denote some more than ordinary manifestations of his presence, or exertion of his power; as at Babel, by confounding the language; at Sodom, by destroying that, and the other cities; at Sinai, by giving the law out of the midst of fire, attended with thunder and lightning. Nor such as speak of the Lord not being with wicked men; particularly what Moses said to the disobedient Israelites, „The Lord is not among you; and he will not be with you”, #Nu 14:42,43 which he might very truly say, since the ark of the covenant, the symbol of the divine presence, remained in the camps and went not with them, #Nu 14:44 nor had they any reason to believe that God would be so with them, as to prosper and succeed them, when they acted contrary to his express command: nor is God ever in such sense with wicked men, as with good men; namely, by his gracious presence: but this hinders not, but that he is with them by his omnipresence and power, supporting them in their being. Nor such passages which relate the departure of God from men; as from Samson and Saul, #Jud 16:20 1Sa 28:15 since this only respects the withdrawment of uncommon bodily strength from the one; and wisdom and prudence, courage and greatness of soul from the other; leaving him to the fears, distractions, and confusions of his mind; without any hope of success in war: nor such portions of Scripture which express the desertions and distance of God from his people, and their desires that he would return to them, and not cast them away from his presence, #Ps 10:1 80:14 51:11 since these only respect his gracious presence, the deprivation of that, and the return of it; the manifestations of his love and favour, and the withdrawment and renewal of them. And whereas it is urged against the omnipresence of God, that he is said to be in heaven, and that to be his habitation, and that men pray unto him as their Father in heaven, #Ps 115:3 #Isa 63:15 Mt 5:9. In what peculiar sense God may be said to be in heaven, has been observed already; nor is he ever said to be in heaven „only”, but in many places to be on earth also, and elsewhere; see #De 4:39 Isa 66:1 though he is not contained in any place, as not on the earth, so neither can the heaven of heavens contain him, #1Ki 8:27 he was before there was any space or place; his nature, and so this attribute of omnipresence, were the same then as now: and should it be asked, Where did he dwell then? I answer, In himself, in his own immensity and eternity; see #Isa 57:15. The objection from the pollution of the divine Being, through sordid and filthy places, in which he must be if omnipresent, scarce deserves any regard; since bodies only touch them and are capable of being defiled by them; not spirits, even created ones, as angels, and the souls of men; as the angel in the filthy den of lions where Daniel was, was not; nor the souls of men that are in filthy bodies; much less God a pure, infinite, and uncreated Spirit, who can no more be affected by such means, than the sun is, by its rays striking on a dunghill.

2. The „Eternity” of God belongs to his infinity; for as he is not bounded by space, so neither by time, and therefore eternal. He is often called „the everlasting God”, and the „King eternal”, #Ge 21:33 De 33:27 Isa 40:28 Jer 10:10 Ro 16:26 1Ti 1:17 yea, eternity itself, #1Sa 15:29 and is said to inhabit it, #Isa 57:15. These words, „eternal, everlasting”, and „for ever”, are sometimes used in an improper sense, as of things which are of a long duration, but limited, and have both a beginning and an end; as the everlasting possession of the land of Canaan, granted in the everlasting covenant of circumcision, and yet both are now at an end, #Ge 17:7,8 the rites and ceremonies of the law of Moses are said to be ordinances and statutes for ever; and yet they were designed to continue but for a time, and have been long since abolished, #Nu 10:8 15:15 18:8,11,19,23 the temple built by Solomon is said to be a settled place for God to abide in for ever; yea, he himself says, that he would put his name in it for ever; and it should be his rest for ever; and yet it has been demolished long ago, #1Ki 8:13 9:3 Ps 132:14 the thrones of David and Solomon are said to be established for ever, and yet, if taken in a literal sense, they are no more: indeed, if understood spiritually, as David’s Son and Antitype, his throne will be for ever and ever, #2Sa 7:12,16 the earth is said to abide, and not be removed for ever, #Ps 104:5 Ec 1:4 yet both that and the heavens shall perish, though not as to substance, yet as to quality, form, figure, and present use. Sometimes this phrase „for ever”, only respects the year of jubilee, #Ex 21:6 and, at most, but during life, #1Sa 1:28.

Some creatures and things are said to be everlasting, and even eternal, which have a beginning, though they have no end; and this is what the schools call „aeviternity”, as distinct from eternity: thus angels, and the souls of men, being creatures of God, have a beginning; though, being immaterial and immortal, shall never die. The happiness of the saints is called eternal glory, „eternal weight of glory; eternal life; an eternal inheritance; an house eternal in the heavens”, #1Pe 5:10 Tit 1:2 2Co 4:17 5:1 Heb 9:15. And the misery of the wicked is signified by suffering the vengeance of eternal fire, by everlasting fire, and everlasting punishment, #Jude 1:7 Mt 25:41,46 yet these have a beginning, though they will have no end; and so are improperly called eternal.

Eternity, properly so called, is that which is without beginning and end {12}, and is without succession, or does not proceed in a succession of moments one after another; and is opposed to time, which has a beginning, goes on in a succession, and has an end: it is the measure of a creature’s duration, and began when creatures began to be, and not before, and is proper to them, and not eternity, which only belongs to God. Thales being asked what God was, answered thus, what has neither beginning nor end {13}, which is eternity. A Jewish writer {14} defines it, „in which there is no former nor latter; nor order, nor succession of times; it being without motion”. And which Boetius {15} expresses in a few words,

„Eternity is the interminable or unbounded and perfect possession of life whole together.”

And is thus described, „Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God”, #Ps 90:2.

Eternity, in this sense, is peculiar to God; as he only hath immortality, so he only has eternity; which must be understood not of the Father, or first person only, but of the Son and Spirit also; who are, with the Father, the one God; and possess the same undivided nature; of which Eternity is an attribute. So the Son, though as to his human nature, was born in the fulness of time; yet, as to his divine nature, „his goings forth were from of old, from everlasting”: and as Mediator, in his office capacity, he was „set up from everlasting, or ever the earth was”, #Mic 5:2 Pr 8:23,24. The Spirit of God was concerned in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and so must be before them; and which is the only idea we have of eternity, that it is before time and creatures were, #Ge 1:1,2 Job 26:13 Ps 33:6 and, according to some, the Spirit is called, „the eternal Spirit”, #Heb 9:14. Eternity is true of God, essentially considered, and in the sense explained, is to be proved, and that he is without beginning, without end, and without succession.

2a. First, That he is without beginning, or from everlasting: this is put by way of interrogation, #Hab 1:12 not as a matter of doubt, but of certainty, and is strongly affirmed, #Ps 93:2 and may be proved,

2a1. From his nature and being; as from his „necessary self-existence”: the existence of God is not arbitrary, but necessary: if arbitrary, it must be from his own will, or from the will of another; not from his own will, which would suppose him in being already; and then he must be before he existed, and must be, and not be, at the same instant; which are such contradictions as cannot be endured: not from the will of another, for then that other would be both prior and superior to him, and so be God, and not he: it remains, therefore, that he necessarily existed; and if so, then he must be eternal; since there was none before him; nor can any reason be given why he should necessarily exist at such an instant, and not before. His eternity may be argued from a state of „non-existence” he must have been in, if not eternal; and if so, then there was an instant in which he was not; and if there was an instant in which he was not, then there was an instant in which there was no God; and if so, there may be one again in which he may cease to be; for that which once was not, may again not be; and this will bring us into the depth of atheism; unless it could be supposed, which is quite irrational, that there was a God before him, and that there will be one after him; but this is strongly denied by himself; „Before me there was no God formed; neither shall there be after me”, #Isa 43:10. The eternity of God may be inferred from his immutability, which has been already established: these two go together, and prove each other, #Ps 102:27 they are both to be observed in the great name of God, Jehovah, which signifies, he is, and was, and is to come, and takes in all time; but he is bounded by none, and is eternally the same; for if he is not eternal, he must have passed from non-existence into being; and what can be a greater change, than to come out of nothing into being? Moreover, God is the most „perfect Being”; which he would not be, if not eternal; for not to be, or to have a beginning, is an imperfection; and it is an humbling consideration to man, a creature of time, that he is but „of yesterday”, #Job 8:9. And if God was not eternal, let his beginning be when it may, in comparison of an eternity past, it would be but as yesterday; which can never be admitted of. Add to this, that God is the „first Cause” of all things, and therefore must be eternal: all wise and thoughtful men acknowledge a first Cause; and in their reasoning rise from one cause to another, until they arrive to a first Cause, and there stop, and which they truly call God; for otherwise there would be no subordination of causes: if there was not a first Cause, there would not be a second, nor a third, &c. but all would be first, and all eternal; and if God is the first Cause, then he is without a cause, and therefore must be eternal; hence he is so often called „the first and the last”; a phrase expressive of his eternity, #Isa 41:4 44:6 48:12. He is the „Creator” of all things, the heavens, earth, and sea, and all that in them are; and therefore must be before all things, as every artificer is before his work made by him; and if before all creatures, then before time, which begins with them, and therefore from eternity, since we can conceive of nothing before time but eternity.

2a2. The Eternity of God may be proved from his „attributes”, several of which are said to be eternal, or from everlasting: the „power” of God is expressly called his „eternal power”; and is proved to be so by the works of creation, to which it must be prior, #Ro 1:20. The knowledge God has of all things is from eternity; though the things known are in time, his knowledge of them is before time; „Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world”, ap’ aiwnov, from eternity, #Ac 15:18. The „mercy” of God is eternal, it is said to be „from everlasting to everlasting”, #Ps 103:17. And so the „love” of God, which is no other than himself, for „God is love”, #1Jo 4:16 his love to his Son, „the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person”, was from everlasting; before the earth, the hills, and mountains were formed, then was he by him, „as one brought up with him”, his darling and delight, #Pr 8:30 our Lord himself says, his Father loved him before the foundation of the world, #Joh 17:24 and as early did he love his elect in him; for he loved them as he loved him, #Joh 17:23 even with an everlasting love, a love which is both from everlasting and to everlasting, #Jer 31:3.

2a3. That God is Eternal, may be argued from his purposes, counsels, and decrees; which are said to be „of old”, that is, from everlasting, #Isa 25:1 this is true of them in general; for no new purposes and resolutions rise up, or are framed by him in his mind; for then there would be something in him which was not before; which would imply mutability. Besides, they are expressly said to be „eternal”, #Eph 3:11 and if they are eternal, then God, in whom they are, and by whom they are formed, must be eternal also. In particular, the purpose of God, according to election, or his choice of men to everlasting life, is eternal; not only was before men had done any good or evil, #Ro 9:11 but they were chosen by him „from the beginning”, #2Th 2:13 not from the beginning of the gospel coming to them, nor of their faith and conversion by it; but from the beginning of time, and before time, even „before the foundation of the world”, as is in so many words expressed, #Eph 1:4 wherefore God, that chose them to salvation, must be eternal. Christ is eminently called the elect of God, being as Man and Mediator, chosen out from among the people, #Isa 42:1 Ps 89:19 and the appointment of him, to be the Redeemer and Saviour of men, or the preordination of him to be the Lamb slain for the redemption of his people, was before the foundation of the world, #1Pe 1:20 and therefore God, that foreordained him thereunto, must be as early.

2a4. The Eternity of God may be concluded from the covenant of grace, styled an „everlasting covenant”, #2Sa 23:5 not only because it will endure immoveable and unalterable for ever, but because it was from everlasting; for though it is sometimes called a new covenant, yet not because newly made, or only newly manifested; but because it is always new, and never waxes old. Christ, the Mediator of it, and with whom it was made, was set up from everlasting as such; and his goings forth in it, representing his people, and acting for them, were from of old, from everlasting, #Pr 8:22,23 Mic 5:2 and he had a glory with God in it before the world began, #Joh 17:5 there were blessings of goodness laid up in it, and with which Christ, the Mediator of it, was anticipated; yea, the people of God were blessed with these spiritual blessings in Christ, as „they were chosen in him before the foundation of the world; and had grace given them in him before the world began”, #Eph 1:3,4 2Ti 1:9. Promises also were made as early to Christ, and to them in him, into whose hands they were put, and in whom they are, yea and amen; particularly, eternal life was promised by God, that cannot lie, before the world was, #Tit 1:2. Now if there was a covenant made by God from everlasting, and Christ was set up by him so early, as the Mediator of it; and there were blessings of grace, and promises of grace, made by him before time was, then he must be from everlasting.

2a5. It may be proved from the works of God in time: all creatures are the works of his hands; all beings have their being from him; and time beginning with them, he that made them must be before all time, and therefore eternal: this is the argument used to prove the eternity of Christ, the Word, that he was in the beginning, that is, from eternity with God; „because all things were made by him, and that he is the firstborn of every creature, and before all things, because all things are created by him, and by him do all things consist”, #Joh 1:1-3 Col 1:15-17 and the same proves the eternity of God; for all things are from him, and so have a beginning; but he from whom they are, is from none, has no cause of his being, and therefore must be eternal. So creation is made a proof of his eternal power and Godhead, #Ro 1:20 creation proves his eternity, and his eternity proves his deity. Hence Thales said {16}, „The most ancient of Beings is God.”

2b. Secondly, That God is to everlasting, and without end, may be proved from his „spirituality” and „simplicity”, already established; what is mixed and compounded, and consists of parts, may be resolved into them again, and so be dissolved, as bodies may; but spirits, such as angels and the souls of men, being immaterial, are immortal, and continue for ever; and God being a Spirit, an infinite and uncreated one, simple, and uncompounded of parts, must much more be so; and therefore is called, „The incorruptible God”, #Ro 1:23. It may be argued from his „independency”, he is self-existent; the first Cause, and without any cause; he is the only Potentate, „God over all, blessed for ever”, and dependant on none; there is none above him, nor superior to him, that can put an end, to his being; nor can it be thought, he being in such a state of infinite happiness, would ever put an end to it himself. His eternity is to be proved from his „immutability”; for those, as before observed, infer one another. God is immutable, and therefore without end; for what can be a greater change than for a being not to be? Hence God is opposed to creatures, to mortal men, whose flesh is as grass, the most changeable and perishing of anything, and even to the heaven and the earth, they being such; but he is unchangeably the same; and so there is no end of his years, #1Pe 1:24,25 #Ps 102:26,27. This may be inferred from his „dominion” and government; he is, and sits King for ever; he is an everlasting King, his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation, and will never end, #Jer 10:10 #Ps 10:16 29:10 Da 4:3 and therefore he himself must be to everlasting. Moreover, he is not only called the living God, #Jer 10:10 but is often said to „live for ever and ever”, #Re 4:9,10 10:6. Hence his purposes and decrees are never frustrated, because he ever lives to bring them into execution: men take up resolutions, and form schemes, which, by reason of death, are never executed; their purposes are broken, and their thoughts perish; but „the counsel of the Lord stands for ever; and the thoughts of his heart to all generations”, #Ps 33:11 and therefore he himself must endure for ever: his promises are all fulfilled; not only because he is able and faithful to perform, but because he continues for ever to make them good; and therefore is said to „keep truth for ever”, #Ps 146:6. His covenant is firm and sure; more immoveable than rocks and mountains; it stands fast, with Christ, for ever, and God commands it for ever; because he ever lives to keep it. His love is to everlasting, as well as from it; he rests in it; nothing can separate from it; and „with everlasting kindness he gathers his people, and has mercy on them”; and therefore must be for ever: his grace, mercy, and goodness, continually endure, and therefore he himself must; and „he will be the portion of his people for ever”; their everlasting ALL in ALL; and they shall reign and dwell with him for evermore. All which proves him to be without end.

2c. Thirdly, The Eternity of God, or his being from everlasting to everlasting, is without succession, or any distinctions of time succeeding one another, as moments, minutes, hours, days, months, and years: the reasons are, because he existed before such were in being; „Before the day was, I am he”, #Isa 43:13 before there was a day, before the first day of the creation, before there were any days, consisting of so many hours, and these of so many minutes; and if his eternity past, may it be so called, was without successive duration, or without succeeding moments, and other distinctions of time, why not his duration through time, and to all eternity, in the same manner? Should it be said, that days and years are ascribed to God; it is true, they are; but it is in accommodation and condescension to our weak minds, which are not capable of conceiving of duration but as successive: and besides, those days and years ascribed to God are expressly said not to be as ours, #Job 10:5. He is, indeed, called, „The Ancient of Days”, #Da 7:13 not ancient „in” days, or „through” them, as aged persons are said to be in years, and well stricken in them; not so God: the meaning is, that he is more ancient than days; he was before all days, and his duration is not to be measured by them. And it may be observed, that the differences and distinctions of time are together ascribed to God, and not as succeeding one another; he is „the same yesterday, today, and for ever”; these are all at once, and together with him; he is he „which is, and was, and is to come”, #Heb 13:8 Re 1:4 these meet together in his name, Jehovah {17}; and so in his nature; he co-exists, with all the points of time, in time; but is unmoved and unaffected with any, as a rock in the rolling waves of the sea, or a tower in a torrent of gliding water; or as the rod or pin of a sundial, which has all the hours of the day surrounding it, and the sun, by it casts a shade upon them, points at and distinguishes them, but the stile stands firm and unmoved, and not affected thereby: hence it is that „one day is with the Lord as a thousand years; and a thousand years as one day”, #2Pe 3:8. But if his duration was successive, or proceeded by succeeding moments, days, and years; one day would be but one day with him, and not a thousand; and a thousand days would answer to a thousand days, and not be as one only. Besides, if his duration was measured by a succession of moments, &c. then he would not be „immense, immutable”, and „perfect”, as he is: not „immense”, or unmeasurable, if to be measured by minutes, hours, days, months, and years; whereas, as he is not to be measured by space, so not by time: nor „immutable”; since he would be one minute what he was not before, even older, which cannot be said of God; for as a Jewish writer {18} well observes, it cannot be said of him, that he is older now than he was in the days of David, or when the world was created; for he is always, both before the world was made, and after it will cease to be; times make no change in him. Nor „perfect”; for if his duration was successive, there would be every moment something past and gone, lost and irrecoverable; and something to come not yet arrived to and obtained; and in other respects he must be imperfect: the „knowledge” of God proves him without successive duration. God knows all things, past, present, and to come, that is, which are so to us; not that they are so to him; these he knows at once, and all together, not one thing after another, as they successively come into being; all things are open and manifest to him at once and together, not only what are past and present, but he calls things that are not yet, as though they were; he sees and knows all in one view, in his all-comprehending mind: and as his knowledge is not successive, so not his duration. Moreover, in successive duration, there is an order of former and latter; there must be a beginning from whence every flux of time, every distinction proceeds; every moment and minute has a beginning, from whence it is reckoned, so every hour, day, month, and year: but as it is said of Christ, with respect to his divine nature, so it is true of God, essentially considered, that he has „neither beginning of days, nor end of life”, #Heb 7:3. In short, God is Eternity itself, and inhabits eternity; so he did before time, and without succession; so he does throughout time; and so he will to all eternity. The very heathens {19} themselves had a notion of their supreme God, as eternal: and this is the definition Thales gave of God; for being asked, What is God? answered, What has neither beginning nor end; and therefore calls him, the most Ancient {20}. Sallustius {21} denied that the nature of God was made, because it always was.

–End of Chapter–


{1} to ton apanta apeiron yronon kai thn apeirian periecon telov aiwn estin, Aristot. de Coelo. l. 1. c. 9.

{2} apeiron ara to en, ei mhte archn mhte teleuthn ecei, Plato in Parmenide, p. 1117. „nihil cum habeat extremum, infinitum sit necesse est”, Cicero de Divinat. l. 2. c. 50.

{3} Ambo apud Lactant. de fals. relig. l. 1. c. 5.

{4} De Diis, c. 2. „Jovis omnia plena”, Virgil. Bucolic. eclog. 3.

{5} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 25. 1.

{6} In rad. Mwq.

{7} Vid. Baal Aruch in voce Mwqm.

{8} Pirke Eliezer, c. 35.

{9} Praefat. ad Comment. in lib. Esther.

{10} Leg. Allegor. l. 1. p. 48.

{11} „Quo fugis Encelade, quascumque accesseris oras–sub Jove semper eris”––Virgil.

{12} ta d’aidia, agenhta kai afyarta, Aristot. Ethic. l. 6. c. 3.

{13} ti to yeion, to mhte archn econ, mhte teleuthn, Thales in Laert. l. 1. Vita Thalet.

{14} R. Joseph Albo in Sepher lkkarim, l. 2. c. 18.

{15} Consolat. Philosoph. l. 5. p. 137.

{16} presbutaton twn ontwn, yeov, agenhton gar, apud Laert. ut supra.

{17} Plato observes, that to a temporal being we say of it, „it is, and was, and will be; „but to the eternal Being, „th sto estin monon, to him only it is, „in Timaeo, p. 1051.

{18} Joseph Albo in Sepher Ikkarim, fol. 66. l.

{19} „O pater, O hominum, ivumque aeterna potestas”, Virgil. Aeneid, l. 10. v. 17. „Alii Dii aliquando Dii non fuerunt, sed Jupiter ab aeterno fuit Deus”, Pompon. Sabin. in ibid. dihkwn ex aiwnov atermonov eiv eteron aiwna, Aristot. de Mundo, c. 7.

{20} Laert. Vita Thalet. l. 1. p. 23, 24. Plutarch, Sept. Sap. Conviv. vol. 2. p. 153.

{21} De Diis, c. 2.

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