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2. Beware of indulging sin. When ye take a liberty to sin, and gratify your vile and sordid lasts, you will hate the law that forbids it; and this will lead you to a hatred of the Lawgiver; and hatred of God strikes against his very being.
When once you allow yourselves an indulgence to sin, you will be apt to think, O that there were no God to punish me for my crimes ! and would gladly persuade yourselves that there is none; and will think it your only game to do what ye can to root out the notions of God in your own minds, for your own quiet, that so ye may wallow in sin without remorse.
3. Prize and study the holy scriptures, for they shew clearly that there is a God. There are more clear marks and characters of a Deity stamped upon the holy scriptures than upon all the works of nature. Therefore converse much with them. By this means was Junins converted from atheism. His father perceiving him to be so atheistical, caused lay a Bible in every room, so that in whatsoever room he entered, a Bible haunted him; and he fancied it upbraided him thus : 'Wilt thou not read me, atheist ? wilt thou not read me?' Whereupon he read it, and was thereby converted. I say then, study the holy scriptures, and in doing so, learn to submit your reason to divine revelation. For some men, neglecting the scriptures, and going forth in the pride of their own understandings, have at last disputed themselves into flat atheism.
4. Study God in the creatures as well as in the scriptures. The creatures were all made to be heralds of the divine glory, and his glorious being and perfections appear evidently in them. Hence saith the Psalmist, Psal. xix. 1—4. The heavens declare the glory of God? and the firmament sheweth his handy-work, day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech, nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world : in them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun.' The world is sometimes compared to a book, and sometimes to a preacher. The universe is like a great printed book, wherein God sets forth himself to our view; and the great diversity of creatures which are in it, are so many letters, out of which we may spell his name. And they all preach loudly unto us the glorious being and excellencies of God. And therefore the apostle tells us, Rom. i. 20. ' The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. In the book of the creatures God hath written a part of tho excellency of his name ; and you should learn to read God wherever he hath made himself legible to you.
5. Lastly, Ye who are yet sinners, lying in your natural state of sin and misery, come unto God in Christ, and receive him as your God by faith, and so ye will be preserved from atheism. And ye who are believers in Christ, be often viewing God in your own experiences of him. Have you not often found God in the strengthening, reviving, and refreshing influences of his grace upon your souls? Have ye not had sweet manifestations of his love? Have you not had frequent refreshing tastes of his goodness, in pardoning your iniquities, hearing and answering your prayers, supplying your wants, and feasting your souls? The reviewing of such experiences will be a mighty preservative against atheism. Can you doubt of his being, when yon have been so often revived, refreshed, and supported by him? The secret touches of God upon your hearts, and your inward converses with him, are to you a clearer evidence of the being of God, than all the works of nature.
OF THE HOLY TRINITY.
1 John v. 7.—For there are three that bear record in heaven: the Fa
ther, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.
In the 5th verse of this chapter, John lays down a fundamental article of the Christian faith, That Jesus is the Son of God; and brings in the witnesses of this truth, ver. 7. and 8. The text condescends on the divine heavenly witnesses. Where, consider,
1. Their number, three, viz. three persons.
2. Their names, the Father, the Word, that is, the Son, so called, because he reveals the Father's mind, and the Holy Ghost. And here is noted the order of their subsisting also.
3. The majesty and glory of these witnesses; they are in heaven, manifesting their glory there, and from it have borne record; which should make the inhabitants of the world to believe their testimony.
4. Their act: They bear record to this truth.
5. Their unity: They are one, one God; not only one in consent and agreement, but one thing, one substance, one essence.
The doctrine evidently arising from the words is,
Doct. “ There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.'
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall,
I. Explain the terms mentioned in the doctrine, the Godhead, and a person.
II. Shew that there are three persons in the Godhead.
IV. Demonstrate that these three persons are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
V. Evince the weight and importance of this article of the Christian faith.
VI. Lastly, Deduce a few inferences.
I. I am to explain the terms mentioned in the doctrine, the Godhead, and a person.
1. By the Godhead is meant the nature or essence of God, Acts xvii. 29, even as by manhood is understood the nature of man. Now the Godhead is but one, there being but one God.
2. A divine person, or a person in the Godhead, is the Godhead distinguished by personal properties, Heb. i. 3, where Christ the Son of God is called ' the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.' For consider the Godhead as the fountain or principle of the Deity, so it is the first person; consider it as begotten of the Father, it is the second ; and as proceeding from the Father and the Son, it is the third person.
II. Our next business is to shew that there are three persons in the Godhead. This is confirmed by the scriptures both of the Old and New Testament.
1. The Old Testament plainly holds forth a plurality of persons in the Godhead, Gen. i. 26. “God said, let us make man in our own image, after our likeness.' Chap. iii. 22. ' And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.' This cannot be understood of angels : for man is said to be created after the image of God, but never after the image of angels; and the temptation was, 'Ye shall be as gods, not as angels. Nor must it be conceived, that God speaks so after the manner of kings; for that way of speaking is used rather to note modesty than royalty. But when God speaks so as to discover most of his royalty, he speaks in the singular number, as in the giving of the law, ‘I am the Lord thy God.' This trinity of persons is also not obscurely mentioned in Psal. xxxiii. 6. · By the Word of the Lord, or JeHovah, were the heavens made; and all the host of them, by the breath, or Spirit, of his mouth. Here is mention made of Jehovah the Word and the Spirit, as jointly acting in the work of creation. Accordingly we find, that all things were made by the Word, John i. 3. and that the Spirit garnished the heavens,' Job xxvi. 13. Nay, a Trinity of persons is mentioned, Isa. Ixiii. where, bebesides that the Lord, or Jehovah, is three times spoken of, ver. 7. we read, of the angel of his presence,' which denotes two persons,
and his Spirit,' ver. 9, 10. So that it evidently appears, that the doctrine of the Trinity was revealed under the Old Testament.
2. The New Testament most plainly teaches this doctrine.
(1.) I begin with the text, where it is expressly asserted, There are three that bear record, &c. Here are three witnesses, and therefore three persons. Not three names of one person : for if a person have ever so many names, he is still but one witness. Not three Gods, but one.
(2.) In the baptism of Christ, Matth. iii. 16, 17. mention is made of the Father speaking in an audible voice, the Son in the human nature baptized by John, and the Holy Ghost appearing in the shape of a dove; plainly importing three divine persons.
(3.) This appears from our baptism, Matth. xxviii. 8, 19. Go ye and teach all nations baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.' Observe the words, in the name, not names ; which denotes, that these three are one God: and yet they are distinctly reckoned three in number, and so are three distinct persons.
(4.) It appears from the apostolical benediction, where all blessings are sought from the three persons distinctly mentioned, 2 Cor. xiii. 14. ' The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.'
III. That these three are distinct persons, (for though they cannot be divided, yet they are distinguished), is evident. For the Son is distinct from the Father being the express image of his person,' Heb. i. 2.; and in John viii. 17, 18. he reckons his Father one witness and himself another. And that the Holy Ghost is distinct from both, appears from John xiv. 16, 17. 'I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever: even the Spirit of truth.' And the text is plain for the distinction of all the three. Now, they are distinguished by their order of subsisting, and their incommunicable personal properties. In respect of the order of subsistence, the Father is the first person, as the fountain of the Deity, having the foundation of personal subsistence in himself; the Son is the second person, and hath the foundation of personal subsistence from the Father; and the Holy Ghost is the third person, as having the foundation of personal subsistence from the Father and the Son. And so for their personal properties,
1. It is the personal property of the Father to beget the Son, Heb. i. 5, 6, 8. 'Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son. And again, when he
bringeth in the first begotten into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.' This cannot be ascribed either to the Son or Holy Ghost.
2. It is the property of the Son to be begotten of the Father, John i. 14. 18. 'We behold his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.'
3. The property of the Holy Ghost is to proceed from the Father and the Son, John xv. 26. · When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.' In Gal. iv. 6. he is called the Spirit of the Son;' and in Rom. viii. 9. the Spirit of Christ.' He is said to receive all things from Christ,' John xvi. 14, 15.; to be sent by him,' John xv. 26.: and to be sent by the Father in Christ's name,' John xiv. 26. All this plainly implies, that the Holy Spirit proceedeth both from the Father and the Son. This generation of the Son and Holy Ghost was from all eternity. For as God is from everlasting to everlasting, so must this generation and procession be: and to deny it, would be to deny the supreme and eternal Godhead of all the three glorious persons.
IV. I proceed to shew, that these three persons are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. To this end consider,
1. How express the text is, These three are one. When the apostle speaks of the unity of the earthly witnesses, ver. 8. he says, they agree in one,' acting in unity of consent or agreement only. But the heavenly witnesses are one, viz. in nature or essence. They are not only of a like nature or substance, but one and the same substance; and if so, they are and must be equal in all essential perfections, as power and glory.
2. There is but one true God, as was before proved, and there can be but one true God. Now, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are each of them the true God; and therefore they are one God, tho same in substance, equal in power and glory. And this I shall prove by Scripture testimony.
First, That the Father is true God, none that acknowledge a God do deny. Divine worship and attributes are ascribed to him. But,
Secondly, That the Son is true God, appears if ye consider,
1. The scriptures expressly calls him God, Rom. ix. 5. John i. 1. Acts xx. 28.; 'the true God' 1 John v. 20.; 'the great God, Tit. ii. 13.; the mighty God, Isa. ix. 6. 'Jehovah or Lord,' Mal.