« PreviousContinue »
initial, and very imperfect here, in comparison relation to the creatures. To be a God to us, is of what it will be in heaven. 2. It is the eter- to be one to whom we must ascribe all that we nal felicity, 1. Seminally ; for
grace is as it were are or have; and one whom we must love, obey, the seed of glory ; 2. As it is the necessary way and honour, with all the powers of soul and body: or means of attaining it; and that preparation and one on whom we totally depend, and from which infallibly procures it. The perfect holi- whom we expect our judgment and reward, in ness of the saints in heaven, will be one part of whom alone we can be perfectly blessed. their perfect happiness: and this holiness imper- • And Jesus Christ. That is, as mediator, in fect they have here in this life. It is the same his natures, (God and man) and in his office and God that we know and love, here and there ; grace. and with a knowledge and love that is of the · Whom thou hast sent.' That is, whom thy same nature seminally. This imperfect holiness love and wisdom designed and commissioned ti hath the promise of perfect holiness and happi- this undertaking and performance. ness in the full fruition of God hereafter. So The knowledge of the Holy Ghost seems here it is the seed and prognostic of life eternal. left out, as if it were no part of life eternal : but
• To know. Not to know God here and here- 1. At that time the Holy Ghost in that eminent after in the same manner or degree; but to sort, as sent by the Father and Son on the know him here as in a glass, and hereafter in his apostles, after the resurrection and the ascenglory, as face to face. To know him by an af- sion of Christ, was not yet so manifested as affective practical knowledge : there is no text of terwards, and therefore not so necessarily to be scripture of which the rule is more clearly true distinctly known and believed in as after: the and necessary than of this, that words of know- having of the Spirit being of more necessity than ledge imply affection. It is the closure of the the distinct knowledge of him. Certain it is that whole soul with God, which is here called the the disciples were at first very dark in this artiknowing of God, because it is not meet to name cle of faith : and scripture more fully reveals every particular act of the soul; when ever this the necessity to salvation of believing in the duty is mentioned, it is all denominated from Father and Son, than in the Holy Ghost distinctknowledge, as the first act, which infers all the ly; yet telling us, that “if any man have not the rest. 1. Knowledge of God in the habit is Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his.' 2. spiritual life, as a principle. 2. Knowledge of But presently after, when the Spirit was to be God in the exercise, is spiritual life, as an em- sent, the necessity of believing in him is expressployment. 3. The knowledge of God in perfec- ed; especially in the apostles' commission to tion, with its effects, is life eternal, as it signifies baptize all nations, that were made disciples, in full felicity. What it contains I shall further the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. show anon. · Thee.' That is, the Father, called by some
CHAP. I. divines the fountain, or foundation of the trinity: The knowledge of the only true God, and of and often used in the same sense as the word Jesus Christ the mediator, is the life of grace, God,' to signify the pure deity.
and the necessary way to the life of glory. • The only. He that believes that there is As James distinguishes between such a dead more gods than one, believes not in any. For faith as devils and wicked men had, and such a though he may give many the name, yet the living and working faith as was proper to the description of the true God can agree to none of justified ; so must we here of the knowledge of them. He is not God indeed, if he be not one God. Many “profess that they know God, but only.
in works they deny him, being abominable and This doth not at all exclude Jesus Christ, as disobedient, and to every good work reprobate? the second person in trinity: but only distin- There is a form of knowledge,' which the unguishes the pure deity, or the only true God, as believers had, and a “knowledge which puffeth such, from Jesus Christ, as mediator between up,' and is void of love, which hypocrites have. God and man.
But no man, spiritually, knows the things of • True. There are many that falsely and me- | God, but by the Spirit ; and they that rightly taphorically are called gods: if we think of God 'know his name will put their trust in him. Thus but as one of these, it is not to know him, but he gives the regenerated a 'heart to know him, deny him.
and the new creature is renewed in knowledge.? * God.' The word God doth not only signify Vengeance shall be poured out on them that the divine perfections in himself, but also his know not God.'
This saving knowledge of God, which is eter- him ? And what profit shall we have if we pray nal life, contains and implies in it all these acts. unto him?' All wickedness hath admission into 1. The understanding's apprehension of God ac- that heart or land, where the knowledge of God cording to the necessary articles of faith. 2. A is not the watch to keep it out: Abraham inferbelief of the truth of these articles : that God is, red that the men of Gerar would kill him for his and is such as he is therein described. 3. A wife, when he saw that the fear of God was high estimation of God accordingly. 4. A voli- not in that place. It was God's controversy tion, complacency, or love to him as God, the with Israel, because there was no truth, nor chief good. 5. A desiring after him. 6. A mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land ; but choosing him, with the rejection of all competi- by swearing, lying, killing, and stealing, they tors. 7. A consent that he be our God, and a brake out, and blood touched blood. They giving up ourselves to him as his people. 8. are called by God “a foolish people, sottish chilAn intending him as our ultimate end in the dren, of no understanding, that knew not God; use of means, in the course of our conversations. though they were wise to do evil.' He will pour 9. A seeking him in the choice and use of means.
out his fury upon the heathen that know him 10. An obeying him as our sovereign governor. not, and the families that call not on his name.' 11. An honouring and praising him as God. As the day differs from the night, by the light 12. And an enjoying him and delighting in him, of the sun, so the church differs from the world, in some small foretaste here, as he is seen by by the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. faith ; but perfectly hereafter, as beheld in glory. Judah is God known; his name is great in Israel: The effective practical knowing of God, which in Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling is life eternal, contains or implies all these place in Zion. The love, unity and peace
shall succeed persecution and malice in the blessEvery Christian that hath any of this know-ed times, shall be "because the earth shall be full ledge, desires more : it is his great desire to know of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters more of God, and to know him with a more af- cover the sea.' Hypocrites shall know him sufecting, powerful knowledge. He that grows perficially and ineffectually: and his holy ones in grace, accordingly grows in this knowledge shall know him so as to love him, fear him, trust of God and of Jesus Christ. The vigour and him, and obey him; with a knowledge effectual alacrity of our souls live in it: the rectitude of upon heart and life : and he will continue his our actions, and the holiness of them, flow from loving kindness to them that know him. it: God is the excellency of our hearts and lives : He is the best Christian that hath the fullest our advancement and our joy are here only to be impression made upon his soul, by the knowledge found. All other knowledge is so far desirable, of God in all his attributes.. Thus it is our life as it conduces to the knowledge of God, or to eternal to know God in Christ. It is to reveal the several duties which that knowledge requires. the Father that the Son was sent; and it is to All knowledge of words or things, of causes and reveal the Father and the Son, that the Holy effects, of any creatures, actions, customs, laws, Spirit is sent; God is the light, the life, and or whatsoever may be known, is so far valuable felicity of the soul. The work of its salvation as it is useful ; and so far useful as it is holy, is but the restoring it to him, and putting it in subserving the knowledge of God in Christ. possession of him. The beginning of this is reWhat the sun is to all men's eyes, that God is to generation and reconciliation; the perfection of their souls, and more: it is to know him, that it is glorification, beatific vision, and fruition. we have understandings given us : and our un- The mind that hath least of God, is the darke.st derstandings enjoy him but so far as they know and most deluded mind : and the mind that hath him; as the eye enjoys the light of the sun, by most of him, is the most lucid, pure, and serene. seeing it. The ignorance of God is the blind- How is God in the mind, but as the light and ness and part of the atheism of the soul, and in other visible objects are in the eye, as pleasfers the rest. They that know him not, desire ant melody is in the ear, and as delightful meats not heartily to know him ; nor can they love him, and drinks are in the taste, but that God makes trust him, fear him, serve him, or call upon him, a more deep and durable impress on the soul, whom they do not know. How shall they call and such as is suitable to its spiritual, immaterial upon him in whom they have not believed ?' nature. The heart of the ungodly saith to God, depart As your seal is to make a full impression on from us ; for we desire not the knowledge of thy the wax of the whole figure that is upon itsell, ways : what is the almighty, that we should serve so hath God been pleased, in divers seals, to en
grave his image, and these must make their im- The first seal on which he engraved this his press upon us. 1. There is the seal of the crea- image, was the creation, that is, 1. The whole tion: for the world hath much of the image of world in general. 2. The intellectual nature, or God: it is engraven also on the seal of provi- man in special. dential disposals (though there we are incapable In the being of the creation and every partiof reading it yet, so fully as in the rest). 2. It cular creature, his infinite being is revealed ; so is engraven on the seal of the holy scriptures. wretched a fool is the atheist, that by denying 3. And on the person of Jesus Christ, who God, he denies all things!
Could he prove is the purest, clearest image of the Father, that there is no God, I would quickly prove as also on the holy example of his life. 4. that there is no world, no man, no creature: if By the means of all these applied to the soul, he know that he is himself, or that the world or in our sober consideration, by the working any creature is, he may know that God is : for of the Holy Ghost, the image of God is made God is the original being: and all being that is upon us.
not eternal, must have some original : and that Here note, 1. That all the revealed image which hath no original is God, being eternal, inof God must be made on the soul, and not a finite, and without cause. part only: and all is wrought where any is truly The power of God is revealed in the being wrought. 2. That to the completeness of his and powers of the creation. His wisdom is reimage on us, it is necessary that each part of vealed in their nature, order, offices, effects, &c.; God's description be orderly made, and orderly his goodness, in the creature's goodness, its make the impress on us, and that each part keep beauty, usefulness, and accomplishments. But its proper place : for it is a monster that hath though all his image thus appear upon the creafeet where the head should be, or the backside tion, yet is it his omnipotence that principally forward, or where there is any gross misplacing there appears. The beholding and considering of the parts. 3. Note also, that all the three fore- of the wonderful greatness, activity and excelmentioned seals contain all God's image on lence of the sun, the moon, the stars, the fire, them ; but yet not all alike; but the first part and other creatures, doth first and chiefly posis more clearly engraven upon the first of them, sess us with apprehensions of the infinite greatness the second part upon the second of them, and or power of the Creator. the third part most clearly on the third and last. In the holy word or laws of God, which is the
To open this more plainly to you ; unity in second glass, or seal (more clear and legible to trinity, and trinity in unity, is the sum of our us than the former) there appears also all his holy faith. In the deity there is revealed to image, his power in the narratives, predictions, us one God in three persons, the Father, Son, &c. his wisdom in the prophecies, precepts, and and Holy Ghost ; the essence is but one; the in all : his goodness in the promises and instisubsistences are three. As we must conceive tutions in a special manner. But yet it is his and speak of the divine nature according to second property, his wisdom, that most eminently its image, while we see it but in a glass ; so appears on this second seal, and is seen in the we must say, that in this blessed deity in the glass of the holy law. The discovery of such unity of essence, there is a trinity of essential mysteries ; the revelation of so many truths ; the properties and attributes, that is, power, wisdom suitableness of all the instituted means; and the and goodness, life, light and love; the measure admirable fitness of all the holy contrivances of of which to have no measure, but to be God, and all his precepts, promises and threatinfinite. Therefore this being is eternal, and enings, for the government of mankind, and carnot measured by time, being without beginning rying him on for the attainment of his end, in a or end: he is immense, as being not measured way agreeable to his nature; these show that by place, but contains all places, and is con- wisdom that is most eminently here revealed, tained in none. He is perfect, as not measured though power and goodness be revealed with it; by parts or by degrees, but quite above de- so in the face of Jesus Christ, who is the third grees and parts. This infiniteness of his being and most perfect seal and glass, there is the communicates itself, or consists, in the infinite- image of the power, wisdom and goodness of ness of his essential properties. His power is the Godhead: but yet it is the love or goodomnipotence, that is, infinite power; his know- ness of the Father that is most eminently revealledge or wisdom is omniscience, that is, infinite ed in the Son: his power appeared in the incarwisdom : his goodness is felicity itself, or infinite nation, the conquests over Satan and the world, goodness.
the miracles, the resurrection and the ascension of Christ. His wisdom appears in the admirable Considered as regenerated by the Spirit, and mystery of redemption, and in all the parts of the planted into Christ, so we have the impress of office, works, and laws of Christ, and in the means all his said attributes; but most eminently of his appointed in subordination to him; but love and love and goodness, shining in the moral accomgoodness shine most clearly and amiably through plishments or graces of the soul. the whole ; it being the very end of Christ in this Man being thus made at first the natural image blessed work, to reveal God to man in the riches of God, (with much of the image of his love) of his love, as giving us the greatest mercies, by the Lord did presently, by necessary result the most precious means, in the meetest season and voluntary consent, stand related to us in and manner for our good; reconciling us to such variety of relations, as answer the foresaid himself, and treating us as children, with fatherly properties and attributes. These relations of compassions, bringing us nearer him, and open- God to us, are next to be known as flowing from ing to us the everlasting treasure, having his attributes and works. brought life and immortality to light in the gos- As we have our derived being from God, who pel.
is the primitive, eternal being ; so from our beGod being thus revealed to man from without, ing given by creation, God is related to us as in the three glasses or seals of the Creation, Law, our maker; from this relation of a creator in and Son himself, he is also revealed to us in our unity, there arises a trinity of relations : this selves, man being, as it were, a little world. trinity is in that unity, and that unity in this
In the nature of man is revealed as in a seal trinity. or glass, the nature of the blessed God, in some God having made us of nothing, is necesmeasure. In unity of essence, we have a trinity sarily related to us as our Lord ; by a Lord, we of faculties of soul, even the vegetative, sensi- mean strictly a proprietary or owner, as you tive and rational, as our bodies have both parts are the owner of your goods, or any thing that is and spirits, natural, vital and animal ; the ra- your own. He is related to us as our ruler, our tional power in unity, hath also its trinity of fa- governor or king. This arises from our nature, culties, even power for execution, understanding made to be ruled in order to our end, being ra. for direction, and will for command: the mea- tional, voluntary agents ; and also from the dosure of power is naturally sufficient to its use and minion and blessed nature of God, who only hath end ; the understanding is a faculty to reason, right to the government of the world, and only discern, and discourse : the will hath that free- is fit and capable of ruling it. He is related also dom which beseems an undetermined, self-de- to us as our benefactor or Father ; freely and termining creature here in the way.
of his bounty giving us all the good that we Besides this physical image of God that is in- receive. separable from our nature, we have also his law His first relation in this trinity, answers his written in our hearts, and are ourselves objec- first property in the trinity: he is our almighty tively part of the law of nature ; that is, the sig- Creator, and therefore is our owner, or our nifiers of the will of God. Had we not by sin Lord. obliterated somewhat of this image, it would The second of these relations answers the sebave showed itself more clearly, and we should cond property of God. He is most wise, and have been more capable of understanding it. made an impress of his wisdom on the rational
And when we are regenerated and renewed creature, and therefore is our governor. by the grace and Spirit of Christ, and planted The third relation answers the third property into him, as living members of his body, we have of God. As he is most good, so he is our bethen the third impression upon our souls, and are nefactor ; 'thou art good, and dost good.' Man's made like our Head in wisdom, holiness, and in nature and disposition is known by his works, effectual strength.
though he be a free agent ; for the tree is known Considered as creatures endued with power, by its fruit;' and so God's nature is known by his understanding and will, we have the impress of works as far as it is fit for us here to know) all the foresaid attributes of God: but eminently though he be a free agent.
In each of these relations, God hath other speConsidered as we were at first possessed with cial attributes, which are denominated from his the light and law of works or nature, (of which relations, or his following works. we yet retain some part) so we have the impress As he is our Lord or owner, his proper attriof all these attributes of God; but most eminently bute is to be absolute, having so full a title to us. of his wisdom.
that he may do with us what he chooses.
of his power
As he is our ruler, his proper attribute is to and the person of his Son; and resulting from be our sovereign or supreme; there being none his relations and the works of those relations ; above him, or co-ordinate with him, nor any even as he is our creator in unity ; and our Lord power of government but what is derived from or owner, our ruler and benefactor in trinity. him.
Were it not my purpose to confine myself to As he is our benefactor, it is his prerogative this short discovery of the nature, attributes, and to be our chief, or all; the Alpha and Omega ; works of God, but to run deeper into the rest of the fountain, or first efficient cause of all that we the body of divinity, I should come down to the receive or hope for; and the end or ultimate final fall and the work of redemption, and show you in cause that can make us happy by fruition, and the gospel and all the ordinances, &c. the footthat we must still intend.
steps of this method of trinity in unity, which I As these are the attributes of God in these his have here begun ; but that were to digress. great relations, so in respect to the works of Besides what is said, we might name to you these relations, he hath other subordinate attri- many attributes of God, that are commonly callbutes. As he is our owner, it is his work to dis- ed negative, and do but distinguish him from pose of us; and his proper attribute to be most the imperfect creature, by setting him infinitely free. As he is our ruler, it is his work to govern above us in his perfections. Man hath a body ; us ; which is first, by making laws for us, and but God is not a body, but a spirit; man is then by teaching and persuading us to keep them, mutable, but God immutable; man is mortal, but and lastly by executing them, which is by judg- God immortal, &c. Now as I have showed you ing, rewarding, and punishing. In respect to all these properties, relations, and attributes of God, these, his principal attribute is to be just or right- so I must next tell you that we also stand in eous ; in which is comprehended his truth or answerable counter-relations to him ; and must faithfulness, his holiness, his mercy, and his di- have the qualities, and do the works that answer
As his attributes appear in the those relations. assertions of his word, he is true, his veracity As God is our almighty Creator, so we being nothing but his power, wisdom, and good- his creatures, impotent and insufficient for ourness, expressing themselves in his word or reve- selves. We owe him therefore all that a crealations. For he that is able to do what he will, ture that hath but our receivings, can owe his and so wise as to know all things, and so good Maker. In this relation is contained a trinity of as to will nothing but what is good, cannot pos- relations. We are his own, as he is our Lord. sibly lie ; for every lie is either for want of We are his subjects, as he is our ruler. We power, or knowledge, or goodness ; he that is are his children, as he is our Father; or his most able and knowing, need not deceive by obliged beneficiaries, as he is our benefactor. lying ; and he that is most good, will not do it Now having opened to your observation the on any account. As his first properties appear image of God, and the extrinsic seals, I have in the word of promise, he is called faithful, ripened the discourse so far, that I may the more which is his truth in making good a word of fitly show you how the impression of this image of grace. As he commands holy duties, and con- God is to be made upon the soul of the believer. demns sin as the most detestable thing, by a pure, righteous law, so he is called holy; and
CHAP. II. also as the fountain of this law, and the grace OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S BEING. that sanctifies his people. As he fulfils his pro- • He that cometh to God, must believe that mises, and rewards and defends men according God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that dilito his word, so he is called merciful and gracious, gently seek him. The first thing to be imprintas a governor, (where his mercy is considered ed on the soul is, that there is a God : that he is as limited or ordained by his laws.) As he ful- a real, most transcendent being. As sure as the fils his threatenings, he is called angry, wrathful, sun that shines hath a being, and the earth that terrible, dreadful, holy, jealous, &c. But he is bears us hath a being, so sure hath God that just in all.
made them a being infinitely more excellent than As these are his attributes as our sovereign theirs. As sure as the streams come from the ruler; so as our benefactor, his special attribute fountain, and as sure as earth and stones, and is to be gracious, or bountiful, or benign; or to beasts, and men did never make themselves, nor be loving, and inclined to do good. These are uphold themselves, or continue the course of the attributes of God resulting from his nature nature in themselves and others, nor govern the as appearing in his image in the creation, laws, world, so sure is there an infinite, eternal being that