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j Cor.vi.20. us, as he thinks good: we may well be obliged to glorify God in our body, and in our spirit, which are God's. We have reason also hence to be content with whatsoever condition God disposeth us unto, or imposeth upon us; he doth therein justly; and, if we complain, may we not be
Matt. xx. answered, Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Is it not lawful? yea, is it not probable, that God will order things for the best, for the good of his children? Will he willingly hurt them? Can he design
Isa.xlix.is. their mischief? Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb P yea, they may forget, yet will not I forget thee. Sooner may the most tender parents become unnaturally regardless, malicious, and cruel towards their children, than God neglect the good of his offspring. We have reason therefore to be satisfied with all that befalls us; to be patient in the sorest afflictions; esteeming them to come from a paternal hand, inflicted with great affection and compas
Deut.viii.5. sion, designed and tending to our good; Thou shalt consider in thy heart, that as a man chajienelh his son, the Lord thy God chajienelh thee, faith God to the Israelites.
Heb. x\\.<j,iVe have had fathers of our flesh which correcled us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. What sweeter comfort can there be, than to know that the most distasteful and cross accidents befalling us do conduce to our profit, shall prove most beneficial to us? This consideration also serves to cherish our faith, and raise our hope, and quicken our devotion. Whom shall we confide in, if not in our father? From whom can we expect good, if not from him, who hath given us already so much, even all we have? If we in our need, with due reverence and submission, request help from him, can such
Matt.vii.9,a father refuse us? No. What man is there of us, that if
his son ask him bread, will give him a Jlone P or if he ask
ssli, will give him a serpent P If we then, who are evilt know how to give good gists unto our children, how much morejhall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ajk him?
This consideration also may beget in us a due valuation of ourselves; and thereby raise us from base and unworthy practices; excite and encourage us to worthy designs and attempts: even natural light dictates to us the use of this consideration, and heathen philosophers much apply it: "If any one," faith Epictetus, "could duly be as-Epia. Dis"fected with this opinion, that we are all originally de"seended from God, and that God is the Father both of ** men and gods, he would not, I suppose, conceive any "thing ignoble or mean concerning himself: if Cæsar "should adopt thee, none could endure thy supercilious"ness: and if thou knowest that thou art God's son, will "it not elevate thee?" So the Philosopher. Shall we that are so nobly born, of so illustrious an extraction, so far debase ourselves, as to regard and pursue trivial, abject, dishonourable things? (hall we not be ashamed of such a contemptible degeneracy? shall we not be afraid, for such unworthiness to be degraded, rejected, and disinherited by our holy Father? who can nowise brook that such blots and dishonours should stick to his lineage, that such disorders and misbehaviour should be committed in his family, that we should so deform his image impressed upon us: Every branch that beareth not good fruit, he loppeth John xv. a, it from hisjiock, and cq/leth it away, as our Saviour tells a' us. It is proper for children to resemble their father, in their countenance, in their temper, in their doings; TjsyeJohnviK. were Abraham's children (so our Saviour argues) ye would39' 44' do the works of Abraham: and, Ye are of your father the Devil, because ye perform the lufls of your father; (because ye resemble him in his murderous and treacherous disposition.) So if we pretend to be the children of God, we must, according to St. Paul's exhortation, imitate him Eph. v. 1. as dear children: we must be holy, and pure, just, bene- Js.et*l'u' ficent, merciful, perfect as he is; otherwise we fall from **»"•»•«» this high dignity, we forfeit this excellent privilege of Luke vi.
u 4 35» 36>
being thus related to God; we become aliens, and exiles, and enemies, instead of sons and friends, unto him.
Considering also this relation will prompt us how we stiould be affected, and how behave ourselves towards all God's creatures: if God be the Father of all things, they are in some sort all our brethren: shall we then abuse, trample upon, or tyrannize over any of them? will God Vid. Epict. permit it, doth it become us to do so? If we be all branches sprouting from one root, streams issuing from one common source of divine beneficence, members of one family, we are obliged to universal good-will and charity; to be kind and compassionate; to be helpful and beneficial, so far as our capacity reacheth; to endeavour, as we may, to preserve the order, and promote the wel-r fare of the world, and all things in it. Especially toward those beings, who, according to a more proper and excellent fense, are entitled the sons of this our common Father; toward beings intellectual, we hence learn our respective duties of love and respect toward those elder brethren of ours, the angels, (the bleffed and holy ones, I mean, such as have not degenerated from their nature, and apostatized from their duty toward God;) of charity and good-will to each other; which if we do not maintain, let us consider we are undutiful and unkind to God first, and then to ourselves; both his relations and our own we hate and harm, his children and our brethren, by hating or harming any man whatever, especially any good man, any Christian brother, who by so many other more especially bands is ftraitly tied unto us, upon so many better grounds doth stand related both to God and us.
But let thus much suffice for this attribute or title of God, understood in this manner, as applicable to God essentially considered; which notion we see how true and useful it is. But that God is also here (and that according to the principal intention of the words) to be understood so as by way of eminency to signify the first Person in the«blessed Trinity, and that the title or apposition Father doth respect especially him, who, according to a more proper and excellent manner, is the Son of God, our K»t« Wm Lord Christ Jesus, may upon divers accounts appear. 1. Be- '£"""t £ cause it follows, and in Jesus Christ his Son: God is to Naziamen be taken in that notion according to which Christ is his Oral. 87. Son: the Father preceding relates to the Son following. 2. Because this Creed appears (according to our former discourses) enlarged upon the foundation of the first most simple confessions, used in baptism, and those derived from the form prescribed by our Saviour, of baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: wherefore the Father here is to be interpreted according to that form. 3. The ancient Christians (from whom we received the words, and may best understand the fense) did thus generally take and expound them. Now that God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the universal tenor of the Gospel speaketh, and it is the chief doctrine thereof: this God from heaven by a vocal attestation declared, (This is John x. 3«. my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased ;) our Saviour professed; the Apostles preached; the miracles (performed by our Saviour) were intended to confirm. In this God manifested his transcendent love and mercy and goodness to mankind, that he gave his only-begotten Son, thatJohnui.isno believer in him should perish, but have everlasting life; that he did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for Rom. viii. us all: his own Son, i2iof vlog, his peculiar Son, in a more 3' proper and peculiar manner so: his ftovoyev^f, only-begotten Son, (in a respect, according to which no other can pretend to that relation;) his ayccxr)To;, his darling, (whom he loves with a superlative dearness.) So that God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that it is a fundamental point of our religion and belief; and that it is mainly designed here, doth sufficiently appear. Now the grounds of this paternity are several: his temporal generation by the Spirit and power of God; The Holy Luke i. as. Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power os the Most High shall overshadow thee: therefore that holy thing which shall be lorn os thee, shall be called the Son os God: When the fulness of time came, God sent forth his Son, Gal. iv. 4.
Acts xiii. lorn of a woman. His restoral from death to life; We 3a»a3, preach the promise made to your fathers, that God hath fulfilled it to us their children, raising up Jesus; according also to what is written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee: whence he is Col. i. Ib. called erpcoroTOKoi Ix Tcuv vixpcav, the firstborn from the dead. His designation of him to sovereign power and authority; John i. 49. Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel, was Heb. i. 2. Nathanael's confession, whom God appointed (or made) Compare heir of all; putting all things under his feet. Father, l^vid" our Saviour prays, glorify thy Son, as thou hast, given him John v. as, power over allflejh: All power is given me in heaven and Matt. upon earth. But the most eminent ground of this paterxxviii. is. nity (and most proper to this place) is that eternal generaHeb, 'i. 6. 'ion, whereby God the Father did in the beginning, before all time imaginable or possible, (in a manner unconceiveable and ineffable,) communicate his own divine essence to God the Son: his essence, not specifically the same, (such as men impart, when they beget a son in their own likeness,) but the fame individually; begetting Heb. i. 3. him perfectly like himself, without any so much as acciSirniliUit Cental dissimilitude or disparity; (by an unconceiveable ©i* iofi- irradiation of his glory, and impression of his substance, as the author to the Hebrews speaks.)
Which doctrine, (though full of deep mystery, and transcending the capacity of our understanding to comprehend,) as we are obliged, because it hath been God's good pleasure to reveal it unto us, with a firm faith and humble adoration to embrace, so it is of great consequence and (even practical) use; serving to illustrate the wonderful grace of God in the dispensation evangelical, and thereby to beget suitable gratitude in us; encouragement and enforcement to our duty, strong faith and hope in God; as also to direct and order our devotion toward him.
But these considerations (with the farther probation of this great truth against some, who have dared to oppose it) I shall refer to that article, in which we most expressly confess, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and conse