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thou perfect. Psal. xxxvii. 3. "trust in Jehovah, and do good." Luke xi. 28. "blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." Acts xxiv. 14. "believing all things"and v. 16. "herein do I exercise myself." 2 Tim. i. 13. “hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and in love which is in Christ Jesus." 1 Tim. i. 19. "holding faith and a good conscience." Tit. iii. 8. " "that they which have believed might be careful-.' 1 John iii. 23. "that we should believe and love."
These two divisions, though they are distinct in their own nature, and put asunder for the convenience of teaching, cannot be separated in practice. Rom. ii. 13. "not the hearers of the law, but the doers of the law shall be justified." James i. 22. "be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." Besides, obedience and love are always the best guides to knowledge, and often lead the way from small beginnings, to a greater and more flourishing degree of proficiency. Psal. XXV. 14. "the secret of Jehovah is with them that fear him." John vii. 17. “if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." viii. 31, 32. "if ye continue in my word .. ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." 1 John ii. 3. "hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments."
It must be observed, that Faith in this division does not mean the habit of believing, but the things to be habitually believed. So Acts vi. 7. "were obedient to the faith." Gal. i. 23. "he preacheth the faith."
CHAP. II.-Of God.
THOUGH there be not a few who deny the existence of GOD,'
Unless there be who think not God at all:
If any be, they walk obscure;
For of such doctrine never was there school,
But the heart of the fool,
And no man therein doctor but himself.-Samson Agonistes, 295. Compare on the subject of this chapter Wilkins On Natural Religion; Tillotson's Sermon on Job xxviii. 28, the Wisdom of being Religious; Stillingfleet's Origines Sacræ, Book III. chap. 1.; Cudworth's Intellectual System; Barrow On the Creed; Locke On Human Understanding, Book IV. chap. 10; Burnet On the First Article.
for "the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God," Psal. xiv. 1. yet the Deity has imprinted upon the human mind so many unquestionable tokens of himself, and so many traces of him are apparent throughout the whole of nature, that no one in his senses can remain ignorant of the truth. Job. xii. 9. "who knoweth not in all these that the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this?" Psal. xix. 1. "the heavens declare the glory of God." Acts xiv. 17. "he left not himself without witness." xvii. 27, 28. "he is not far from every one of us.' Rom. i. 19, 20. "that which may be known of God is manifest in them." and ii. 14, 15. "the Gentiles.... shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.” 1 Cor. i. 21. “after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." There can be no doubt but that every thing in the world, by the beauty of its order, and the evidence of a determinate and beneficial purpose which pervades it, testifies that some supreme efficient Power must have pre-existed, by which the whole was ordained for a specific end.
There are some who pretend that nature or fate is this supreme Power: but the very name of nature implies that it must owe its birth to some prior agent, or, to speak properly, signifies in itself nothing; but means either the essence of a thing, or that general law which is the origin of every thing, and under which every thing acts. On the other hand, fate can be nothing but a divine decree emanating from some almighty power.
Which erring men call Chance.-Comus, 588.
In allusion to the doctrines of the Stoicks, &c. Seneca De Beneficiis, iv. 8. 'Sic hunc naturam vocas, fatum, fortunam; omnia ejusdem Dei nomina sunt, varie utentis sua potestate.' Nat. Quæst. ii. 45. 'Vis illum fatum vocare? non errabis.' See, for the different reasonings of ancient philosophers on this subject, Cicero De Fato and De Divinatione. Hume acknowledges that it has been found hitherto to exceed all the skill of philosophy.' On Liberty and Necessity. The next clauses of this sentence contain in the original two of those conceits which are so frequent in Milton's works, and which can scarcely be preserved in a translation. The passage stands thus-' sed natura natam se fatetur, &c. . . . . . . et fatum quid nisi effatum divinum omnipotentis cujuspiam numinis potest
Further, those who attribute the creation of every thing to nature, must necessarily associate chance with nature as a joint divinity; so that they gain nothing by this theory, except that in the place of that one God, whom they cannot tolerate, they are obliged, however reluctantly, to substitute two sovereign rulers of affairs, who must almost always be in opposition to each other. In short, many visible proofs, the verification of numberless predictions, a multitude of wonderful works have compelled all nations to believe, either that God, or that some evil power whose name was unknown, presided over the affairs of the world. Now that evil should prevail over good, and be the true supreme power, is as unmeet as it is incredible. Hence it follows as a necessary consequence, that God exists.
Again the existence of God is further proved by that feeling, whether we term it conscience, or right reason, + which even in the worst of characters, is not altogether extinguished. If there were no God, there would be no distinction between right and wrong; the estimate of virtue and vice would entirely depend on the blind opinion of men; none would follow virtue, none would be restrained from vice by any sense of shame, or fear of the laws, unless conscience or right reason did from time to time convince every one, however unwilling, of the existence of God, the Lord and ruler of all things, to whom, sooner or later, each must give an account of his own actions, whether good or bad.
The whole tenor of Scripture proves the same thing; and the disciples of the doctrine of Christ may fairly be required to give assent to this truth before all others, according to Heb. xi. 6. "he that cometh to God must believe that he is." It is proved also by the dispersion of the ancient nation of the Jews throughout the whole world, conformably to what God often forewarned them would happen on account of their sins. Nor is it only to pay the penalty of their own guilt that they have been reserved in their scattered state, among
2 Since thy original lapse, true liberty
Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
the rest of the nations, through the revolution of successive ages, and even to the present day; but also to be a perpetual and living testimony to all people under heaven, of the existence of God, and of the truth of the Holy Scriptures.
No one, however, can have right thoughts of God, with nature or reason alone as his guide, independent of the word, or message of God.3 Rom. x. 14. "how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?"
God is known, so far as he is pleased to make us acquainted+ with himself, either from his own nature, or from his efficient power.
When we speak of knowing God, it must be understood with reference to the imperfect comprehension of man; for + to know God as he really is, far transcends the powers of man's thoughts, much more of his perception. 1 Tim. vi. 16. "dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto." God therefore has made as full a revelation of himself as our minds can conceive, or the weakness of our nature can bear. Exod. xxxiii. 20, 23. "there shall no man see me, and live but thou shalt see my back parts." Isai. vi. 1. "I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple." John i. 18. "no man hath seen God at any time." vi. 46. "not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father." v. 37. " ye have neither heard his voice at any time." 1 Cor. xiii. 12. we see through a glass, darkly. . . . in part."
Our safest way is to form in our minds such a conception of God, as shall correspond with his own delineation and representation of himself in the sacred writings. For granting that both in the literal and figurative descriptions of God, he
3 Left only in those written records pure,
Though not but by the Spirit understood.-Paradise Lost, XII, 513'It will require no great labour of exposition to unfold what is here meant by matters of religion; being as soon apprehended as defined, such things as belong chiefly to the knowledge and service of God, and are either above the reach and light of nature without revelation from above, and therefore liable to be variously understood by human reason,' &c. Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. Prose Works, II. 523. 'True religion is the true worship and service of God, learnt and believed from the word of God only. No man or angel can know how God would be worshipped and served, unless God reveal it.' Of True Religion, &c., II. 509.
is exhibited not as he really is, but in such a manner as may be within the scope of our comprehensions, yet we ought to entertain such a conception of him, as he, in condescending to accommodate himself to our capacities, has shewn that he desires we should conceive. For it is on this very account that he has lowered himself to our level, lest in our flights, above the reach of human understanding, and beyond the written word of Scripture, we should be tempted to indulge in vague cogitations and subtleties."
There is no need then that theologians should have recourse here to what they call anthropopathy-a figure invented by the grammarians to excuse the absurdities of the poets on the subject of the heathen divinities. We may be sure that sufficient care has been taken that the Holy Scriptures should contain nothing unsuitable to the character or dignity of God, and that God should say nothing of himself which could derogate from his own majesty. It is better therefore to contemplate the Deity, and to conceive of him, not with reference to human passions, that is, after the manner of men, who are never weary of forming subtle imaginations respecting him, but after the manner of Scripture, that is, in the way wherein God has offered himself to our contemplation; nor should we think that he would say or direct anything to be written of himself, which is inconsistent with the opinion he wishes us to entertain of his character. Let us require no better authority than God himself for determining what is worthy or unworthy of him. If "it repented Jehovah that he had made man, "Gen. vi. 6. and "because of their groanings,' Judges ii. 18, let us believe that it did repent him, only taking care to remember that what is called repentance when applied
4 Solicit not thy thoughts with matters hid: Leave them to God above; him serve and fear.
Paradise Lost, VIII. 166.
Heaven is for thee too high
5 Two ways then may the Spirit of God be said to be grieved, in Himself, in his Saints; in Himself, by an anthropopathie, as we call it; in his Saints, by a sympathie; the former is by way of allusion to human passion and carriage. Bp. Hall's Rem. p. 106. See also Beveridge, speaking of the anthropomorphites, Works, IX. 29.