by James Usher
What is God's Goodness?
It is an Essential Property in God, whereby he is infinitely Good, and of himself; and likewise beneficial to all his Creatures, Psal. 145:7; Mark 10:18; James 1:17; Matth. 5:45; Psal. 34:8, 9, 10.
How many ways then is the goodness of God to be considered?
Two ways. Either as he is in his own Nature, of himself simply Good, and Goodness it self; (i.e. so Perfect, and every way so absolute, as nothing can be added unto him): or else as he is good to others. Both ways God is in himself a Good God: but especially for his Goodness towards us, he is called a Good God, as a Prince is called Good Prince.
Shew how that is.
A Prince may be a good Man, if he hurt no Man, and liveth Honestly, &c. But he is not called a Good Prince, except he be good to his Subjects; that is, if he be not mild, gentle, liberal, just, a defender of the Godly, a punisher of the Wicked; so that the Good may lead a quiet and peaceable Life in all Honesty and Goodness, (1 Tim. 2:2.) So the Scriptures call God a Good God, because he is not only Good in himself, yea, and Goodness it self, but also because he is Good to others; that is, Mild, Gracious, Merciful; his Nature is not cruel, savage, nor bloody towards, but most mild, pleasant, sweet, and such as may allure all Men to trust in him, to love him, to call upon him, and to worship him, Psalm 16:11 and 34:8, 9.
Is nothing Good but God?
Nothing or it self, and perfectly, (Matth. 19:17.) howbeit by him, and from him, do come good things, (Gen. 1. ult.) which have not their goodness of themselves. For whatsoever goodness is in the Creatures, it is of God the Creator: and they are so far forth good, as they are made good by God, and are made partakers of his goodness, 1 Cor. 4:7; James 1:17. Again, that goodness which is in the things created, whether it be natural or supernatural, is imperfect and finite, but the goodness of God is most perfect and infinite; and therefore only God is truly good, and goodness it self; yea, he is Summum Bonum, that chief Good of all to be desired.
Is the Goodness of God extended unto all Creatures?
Yea, it is so: and as this is known by daily Experience, so it is witnessed by these Scriptures following, Psal. 119:64 and 145:15; Matth. 5:45.
Hath God shewed his Goodness to all alike?
No: for the things created are of two sorts; either Invisible, or Visible. Invisible, as Angels; unto whom the Lord hath given more excellent Gifts than to the other.
And was his Goodness parted equally amongst them?
No: for some he suffered to fall into Sin, for which they were thrust down from Heaven to Hell, 2 Pet. 2:4. others he hath preserved by his Grace, that they should not fall away from him.
Is his Goodness alike to his Visible Creatures?
No: for of them some are indued with Reason, as Mankind, some are void of Reason; and therefore is Man called a Lord over the rest of the Creatures.
Is the Goodness of God alike to Reasonable Creatures?
No: for of them God in his Mercy hath chosen some to eternal Life, whom he hath purposed to call effectually in his time, that they may be justified and glorified by Christ: others he hath in his justice left to their sins without any effectual calling, to perish for ever.
What testimony of Scripture have you, that God's Goodness is far greater to the Elect, than to the Reprobate?
It appeareth by the words of our Saviour Christ, Matth. 13:11. and of the Prophet Asaph, Psal. 73:1. yet God is good, that is, singularly good, to Israel, even to the pure in heart: but God makes his Elect only to be pure in heart, Psal. 51:10.
Doth the Goodness of God towards all Men turn to the good of all Men?
No: for in the Reprobate God's Goodness is turned into Evil, and serveth to their Destruction, 2 Cor. 2:15, 16. and that is through their own fault: for they do contemn and altogether abuse the Goodness of God; and for all his Goodness bellowed upon them continually, they never trust him, nor trust in him, Rom. 2:4; Psal. 106:13.
How may we use the Goodness of God to our Good, and to our Salvation?
If we have the Goodness of God in a true and worthy estimation; if we use it with fear and reverence, and thereby learn to repent us of our sins; and to repose all our trust and confidence in the Lord for his goodness; then shall all things, yea, even our sins, work for our good, Rom. 8:28.
What Use must we make of God's Goodness?
1. It teacheth us that we have and do serve a true God: for he is no true God, that is not so good as our God is.
2. We learn hereby, that by this Goodness of his, he useth all things well.
3. If our God be so good, we should be ashamed to offend him. As it is intolerable to hurt an Infant, that is innocent and harmless; so it is most intolerable to requite the Lord's Goodness with Evil.
4. If God be so good, and Goodness it self; we must trust him, and trust in him. For we will repose trust in a good Man: and shall we not much more in our good God?
5. It teacheth us never to lay the Fault upon God for any thing, nor to complain of God's dealing. For he is always perfectly good; and all that he doth is perfectly good, whatsoever Men judge of it.
6. Seeing God is good to us, we ought to be good one towards another.
To what end is it, that the Goodness of God is not to all alike?
1. It serveth to the adorning and beautifying of God's Church, 1 Tim. 2:9; 2 Tim. 2:20.
2. It serveth to the maintenance of mutual Love and Society amongst Men, For if the Goodness of God were to all alike, then one could not help another: and to this end serves the variety of Gifts, 1 Cor. 12:20; Ephes. 4:7, 12.
3. It maketh to the greater manifesting of the Glory of the Goodness of God. For if all had alike, we would contemn his Goodness, thinking that he were bound to be good to us of Necessity.
4. From the Consideration of God's special Goodness towards us his Elect by Christ to Salvation, we must arise to the study of Good Works, whereby God's Goodness may be glorified, Tit. 3:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
What are the special Branches of the Goodness of God?
His Graciousness, his Love, and Mercy, Tit. 3:3, 4, 5.
What is the Graciousness of God?
It is an Essential Property, whereby he is of himself most gracious and amiable; and freely declareth his Favour unto his Creatures above their desert, Psal. 145:8, 15, 16; Rom. 11:6; Tit. 2:11.
Is he only gracious?
Only in and of himself: for that whatsoever is gracious and amiable, it is from him.
What learn you from this?
That we ought to love and reverence God above all. For seeing gracious and amiable Men do win love and reverence from others, in whose Eyes they appear gracious and amiable; who is able more to win this at our Hands than God, who is the Fountain of all Graciousness and Amiableness?
For the better understanding of this Attribute, shew how this Word Grace is used in the Scriptures.
It is used in three special Significations: Sometimes it is put for Comeliness, Stature, Meekness, of Mildness, (Luke 2:52.) Sometimes for free Favour, whereby one embraceth another, pardoning former Injuries, and receiving the Party offending into favour again, (Gen. 6:8.) Sometimes it is taken for all kind of Gifts and Graces, which of his free Favour are bestowed, whether temporal or eternal, Ephes. 4:7.
Whether is there Grace in God, according to the first Signification of Grace, or no?
Yea: for God is of his own Nature most gracious, and Grace it self. Which Grace was in Christ Jesus from his Infancy, (as he was Man) and did every Day more and more Increase, Luke 2:52; Psalm 45:2. And amongst all things that were created, there was nothing indued with such Grace as was the Humane Nature of Christ; and that was by the fulness of the Godhead, which dwelt bodily in him, Colos. 2:9.
Whether is Grace properly attributed to God in the second Sense, or no?
Yea, most properly. For God doth justifie us, that is, he doth account us for just, through his Son Jesus Christ; and that of his free Grace and Favour, without any desert of our parts, or any thing in us, Rom. 3:20, 24 and 4:16.
What be the Causes of this Grace or Favour of God?
The Efficient Cause is his Goodness and Free Will: The Final Cause thereof, is the Salvation of his chosen Children, and the Glory of himself, and of his Son Christ Jesus.
What are the Effects of God's Grace to us ward?
In general; the Grace of God (whereof there is no Cause in us, but only his own Goodness and Will) is the first Cause, the middle Cause, and the last Cause, and the only Cause of all that belongs to our Salvation, Rom. 9:11. And particularly, it is the Cause of our Election, of our Redemption, of the sending of Christ into the World, of our Calling, of the preaching of the Gospel, Ephes. 1:4; John 3:16; Rom. 5:8. It was the Cause why the Apostles were called to the preaching of the Gospel, Gal. 1:15, 16; Ephes. 3:8, 9. It is the Cause of our Faith, of Forgiveness of our Sins, of our whole Justification, of our Regeneration, of our Renovation, of our Love to God and our Neighbour, of the Holy Ghost in us; of our good Works, of our Obedience, of our Perseverance, of the Fear of God, of Eternal Life, of Life it self, 2 Tim. 1:9; Phil. 2:13; Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:9; Rom. 3:24; Tit. 3:5; 1 Joh. 4:9; Ezek. 36:27; Jer. 32:40. And in a word, the beginning, the continuance, and the accomplishment of our whole Salvation doth depend wholly upon the Grace and Favour of God: and what good thing soever we have, or have had, or may have, belonging either to this Life or the Life to come, is to be attributed wholly to the Grace and Favour of God.
What is the Love of God?
It is an Essential Property in God, whereby he loveth himself above all, and others for himself, 1 John 4:16; Rom. 5:8; John 3:16; Tit. 3:4; Mal. 1:2, 3.
What learn you from hence?
That we should love him dearly, and other things for him.
That we may the better know what the Love of God is, declare first, What Love is in our selves.
It is a Passion of the Mind, whereby we are so affected towards the Party whom we Love; that we are rather his than our own, forgetting our selves to do him good whom we so Love.
And is Love such a thing in God?
No: the true Love of God is not such as our Love is.
What difference is there?
There is great difference two ways. First, In time: for Love was in God before it was in us, or in any thing created; for he loved himself, and us also, before the World was, Joh. 17:23. Secondly, They differ in Nature and Quality: for that Love which is in God is most perfect and pure, without Passion; but in us it is imperfect, and matched with Passions, with impure Affections and Grief of the Mind.
After what manner doth the Scripture express the Love of God?
In the Scriptures God doth compare himself to a Father and to a Mother loving their Children; to a Hen gathering her Chickens together under her Wings; to a good Shepherd seeking up his Sheep, and to divers other things.
And wherefore serve these Comparisons?
They are for our Profit two ways. First, To shew us that God's Love towards us is most vehement and sincere. Secondly, To make us bold in coming to him, and calling upon him. So for this Love Christ Jesus calleth us by all the Names of Love: as his Servants, his Kinsmen, his friends, his Spouse, his Brethren, and by many Names more: to shew, that he loveth us with all Loves, the Father's Love, the Mother's Love, the Master's Love, the Husband's Love, the Brother's Love, &c. and if all Loves were put together, yet his Love exceedeth them all: for all could not do so much for us as he alone hath done.
If Love doth not signifie any Affection or Passion in God, as it doth in us: What then doth it signifie?
In God it signifieth three things most perfect. First, The eternal good Will of God towards some Body: for the Love of God (suppose towards the Elect) is his everlasting good Will, or his Purpose and Determination to shew them Mercy, to do them Good, and to Save them, as in Rom. 9:11, 13. Secondly, The Effects themselves of this Love or good Will; whether they be temporal concerning this Life, or eternal concerning the Life to come, as in 1 John 3:1. Thirdly, The Pleasure and Delight which he taken in that which he loveth: and so it is taken in Psal. 45:7.
What things doth God love besides himself?
Besides himself, God loveth all things else whatsoever he made: But he loveth not Sin and Iniquity; for he never made it, as St. John saith, 1 John. 2:16. Again, he loveth his Son, being manifested in the Flesh; and he loveth his chosen Children for his Son's Sake, with whom he is well pleased, Matth. 3:17.
Object. 1. The Scripture saith, That God doth hate all that work Iniquity: How then can God both hate and love one and the same Man?
In every wicked Man we must consider two things. First, His Nature. Secondly, His Sin. His Nature is the Work of God, and that he loveth: But his Iniquity is not of God, and that he hateth.
Object. God doth afflict his Children; therefore he doth not love them.
Whom he loveth he correcteth, (Prov. 3:12.) and therefore he correcteth them because he loveth them; even as a Goldsmith trieth his Gold in the Fire, because he loveth it.
Whether doth God love all alike, or no?
No: He preferreth Mankind before all his other Creatures; for which cause God is called Philanthropos, that is, a Lover of Men. And this appeareth by three Effects of his Love.
First, He made him according to his own Image; that is, in Righteousness and true Holiness, Gen. 1:26; Ephes. 4:24.
Secondly, He made him Lord over all his Creatures, Psal. 8:5, 6.
Thirdly, He gave his own Son to Death for his Ransom.
Doth God love all Men alike?
No: For he loveth his Elect better than the Reprobate. For the Elect he calleth effectually by his Spirit it in their Hearts; when he calleth others but by the outward Voice of the Gospel, &c.
Again, amongst the Elect themselves, some are actually Wicked, and not yet reconciled nor called, as was Paul before his Conversion. But the rest are called and already made Holy by Faith in Christ, as Paul was after his Conversion. And of these, he loveth the latter sort with a greater measure of Love than the former, as the Scripture testifieth in Prov. 8:17.
What manner of Love doth God bear to his Elect?
It hath three adjuncts or properties. First, It is free without desert.
Secondly, It is great without comparison.
Thirdly, It is constant without any end.
How is the Love of God said to be free?
It is free two ways. First, because nothing caused God to love us, but his own Goodness and Grace: And therefore St. John saith, that his Love was before ours, 1 John 4:10.
Secondly, It is free, because God in loving us, did not regard any thing that belonged to his own Commodity: For, as David saith, Psal. 16:2. he hath no need of our Goods; but only to our own Salvation he loved us.
Wherein doth the Greatness of God's Love appear to his Elect?
It appeareth two ways. 1. By the means which God used to save us by, that is, the Death of his Son: And so St. John setteth forth his Love, John 3:16; 1 John 3:16. when he saith οὕτω, that is, So, (as if he should say, so vehemently, so ardently, so earnestly, so wonderfully) did he love us, that for our Salvation he spared not his own only Begotten Son, but gave him to the Death of the Cross for our Salvation.
What else doth set forth the greatness of God's Love unto us?
The consideration of our own selves. For he did not only give his only Son to Death for us, but it was for us being his Enemies. And this Circumstance is used by the Apostle to express the same, Rom. 5:7, 8.
Where find you it written, that God's Love is constant and perpetual?
That is manifestly shewed in these Scriptures following, Hos. 11:9; Joh. 13:1; Rom. 11:29. For as God is unchangeable in his Essence and Nature; so is he unchangeable in his Love, which is his Essence and Nature: And therefore is God called Love in the Scriptures, 1 John 4:8.
What use must we make of God's Love?
First, It filleth our Hearts with Gladness, when we understand that our God is so loving, and Love it self: And what is this but the beginning of eternal Life? If eternal Life consist in the true Knowledge of God, as our Saviour Christ saith, John 17:3.
Secondly, Out of the Knowledge of this Love, as out of a Fountain, springeth the Love of God and our Neighbour. For St. John saith, He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is Love, 1 John 4:8.
Thirdly, When we consider that God loveth all his Creatures which he made, it should teach us not to abuse any of the Creatures, to serve our Lust and beastly Affections. For God will punish them which abuse his Beloved; as he punished the rich Glutton which abused the Creatures of God, Luke 16.
Fourthly, We are taught to love all the Creatures, even the basest of all, seeing that God loveth them, and for the Love he beareth to us he made them: and we must (if we love them for God's Sake) use them sparingly, moderately, and equally or justly. To this end we are commanded to let our Cattel rest upon the Sabbath Day, as well as our selves: to this end we are forbidden to kill the Dam upon her Nest; and to this end we are forbidden to muzzle the Mouth of the Ox which treadeth out the Corn, Deut. 25:4; 1 Cor. 9:9.
Fifthly, We are taught from hence to love Mankind better than all other Creatures, because God doth so: and therefore we must not spare any thing that we have, that may make for the safety of his Body, and the Salvation of his Soul. And for this Cause, we are commanded to love our Enemies, and to do them good; because our good God doth so.
Sixthly, From God's Love, we learn to prefer the Godly Brethren, and those that Profess sincerely the same Religion that we Profess, before other Men; because God's Love is greater to the Elect, than to the Reprobate: and this doth the Apostle teach us, Gal. 6:10.
Seventhly, Whereas God's Love is freely bestowed upon us, this teacheth us to be humble, and to attribute no part of our Salvation to our selves, but only to the free Love of God.
Eighthly, From hence ariseth the certainty of our Salvation. For if God's Love was so free and great when we were his Enemies; much more will it be so, and constant also to us, being reconciled to God by Jesus Christ, Rom. 5:10.
What is the Mercy of God?
It is his Mind and Will, always most ready to Succour him that is in Misery. Or, an Essential Property in God, whereby he is meerly ready of himself to help his Creatures in their Miseries, Esa. 30:18; Lam. 3:22; Exod. 33:19.
Why add you this Word meerly?
To put a difference between the Mercy of God, and the Mercy that is in Men: for their Mercy is not without some Passion, Compassion, or Fellow-feeling of the Miseries of others: but the Mercy of God is most Perfect and Effectual, ready to help at all Needs of himself.
But, seeing Mercy is a Grief and Sorrow of the Mind, conceived at another's Miseries; how can it be properly attributed to God, in whom are no passions nor Griefs?
Indeed in us Mercy may be such a thing; but not in God. Mercy was first in God, and from him was derived to us: (and therefore God is called the Father of Mercies, (2 Cor. 1:3.) and when it came to us, it was matched with many Infirmities and Passions. But it is improperly attributed to God from our selves; as though it ware-first in us.
Declare then briefly what things of Perfection are signified by this Word [Mercy] in God.
By the Name of [Mercy] two things are signified in God Properly. First, the Mind and Will ready to help and succour. Secondly, The help it self, and succour or pity that is then shewed.
Where in the Scripture is Mercy the first way?
Those Places of Scripture are so to be understood, where in God doth call himself Merciful, and saith, that he is of much Mercy; that is, he is of such a Nature as is most ready to tree us from our Evils.
Where is it taken in the other Sense for the Effects of Mercy?
In Rom. 9:15. where it is said, God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy; that is, he will call whom he will call, he will justifie whom he will, he will pardon whom he will, and will deliver and save from all their Miseries and Evils whom he will: and these be the Effects of God's Mercies. Again, in Exod. 20:6. it is so taken.
From whence springeth this Mercy of God?
The Essence and Being of God is most simple without any mixture or composition; and therefore in him there are not divers Qualities and Vertues as there be in us, whereof one dependeth upon another, or one differs from another; but for our capacity and understanding, the Scripture speaketh of God as though it were so, that so we may the better perceive what manner of God, and how good our God is.
Well then; seeing the Scriptures do speak so for our Understanding, let us hear whereof this Mercy cometh.
The Cause is not in us, but only in God himself; and Mercy in God doth spring out of his free Love towards us.
Why do you say out of the free Love of God? Are there more Loves in God than one?
There are two kinds of Love in God: one is wherewith the Father loveth the Son, and the Son the Father, and which the Holy Ghost beareth towards both the Father and the Son: and this Love I call the Natural Love of God, so that the one cannot but love the other. But the Love wherewith he loveth us is voluntary, not being constrained thereunto, and therefore is called the free Love of God: and thereof it cometh to pass, that Mercy is also wholly free, that is, without Reward or Hope of Recompence, and excludeth all Merit.
How prove you that the Mercy of God ariseth out of his Love?
That the Love of God is the cause of his Mercy, it is manifest in the Scriptures, 1 Tim. 1:2. Paul saluteth Timothy in this order, Grace, Mercy and Peace from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ: to shew that that Peace which the World cannot give, the Mercy of God is the cause of it; and the cause of his Mercy is his Grace, and his Grace is nothing else but his free Favour and Love towards us. The same order doth Paul observe in Titus 3:4, 5. where he saith; When the goodness and love of God our Saviour appeared; not by the Works of Righteousness, which he had done, but according to his Mercy he saved me. First, He sets down the Goodness of God as the cause of his Love. Secondly, His Love as the cause of his Mercy. And thirdly, His Mercy as the cause of our Salvation; and our Salvation as the effect of all. And therefore there is nothing in us, which may move the Lord to shew Mercy upon us, but only because he is Goodness it self by Nature. And to this doth the Psalmist bear Witness, Psal 100:5. saying, that the Lord is good, his Mercy is everlasting, and his Truth is from Generation to Generation.
Towards whom is the Mercy of God extended or shewed?
For the opening of this Point, we are to consider that the Mercy of God is twofold. First, General. Secondly, Special. God as a God doth shew Mercy generally upon all his Creatures being in Misery;* and chiefly to Men, whether they be Just or Unjust: and so doth Succour them, either immediately by himself, or else mediately by Creatures, as by Angels or Men, by the Heavens, by the Elements, and by other living Creatures. And this general Mercy of God is not extended to the Eternal Salvation of all, but is only temporary, and for a while. Of this read Luke 6:36.
What say you of the Special Mercy of God?
That I call the Special Mercy of God, which God as a most free God hath shewed to whom he would, and denied to whom he would. And this pertaineth only to the Elect, and those which fear him, Psal. 103:11. for he sheweth mercy upon them to their eternal Salvation, and that most constantly, while he doth effectually call them unto himself, while he doth freely and truly pardon their sins, and justifie them in the Blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ; while he doth sanctifie them with his Grace, and doth glorifie them in eternal Life: And of this Special Mercy we may read in Ephes. 2:4, 5, 6.
How great is the Mercy of God?
It is so great that it cannot be expressed, nor conceived of us: And that is proved by Psal. 57:10 and 108:4.
How long doth the Mercy of God continue towards us?
Although the Mercy of God be great and infinite in Christ, yet for that Mercy which pardoneth our sins, and calleth us to Faith and Repentance by the Gospel, there is no place after death, but only while we live in this World: which is warranted by these places ensuing, Gal. 6:10. Let us do good whilst we have time: To shew that a time will come when we shall not be able to do good.
Apoc. 2:10. Be faithful unto Death, and I will give thee a Crown of Life: to shew, that the time which is given unto Death, is a time of Repentance, and of exercising of Faith, and of Works: But after Death there is no time, but to receive either an immortal Crown, if we have been faithful; or everlasting Shame, if we have been unfaithful. Besides these, see Apoc. 14:13; Mark 9:44, 45; Esa. ult. 24; Luk. 16:24, 25, 26; Mat. 25:11, 12; Joh. 9:4.
What Uses may we make of God's Mercy?
First, It serveth to humble us: For the greater Mercy is in God, the greater Misery is in us.
Secondly, We must attribute our whole Salvation unto his Mercy.
Thirdly, We must flee to God in all our troubles, with most sure confidence.
Fourthly, We must not abuse it to the liberty of the flesh in sin, although we might find Mercy with God after Death: For the Mercy of God pertaineth especially to those that fear him, Psal. 103:11.
Fifthly, The meditation of God's Mercy towards us, should make us to
Love God, Psal. 116:1; Luke. 7:47.
Fear God, Psal. 130:4.
Praise God, Psal. 86:12, 13 and 103:2, 3, 4.
Sixthly, It must make us merciful one to another, Luke 6:36; Matth. 18:32, 33.
What is the Justice of God?
It is an Essential Property in God, whereby he is infinitely just in himself, of himself for, from, by himself alone, and none other, Psal. 11:7.
What is the Rule of this Justice?
His own free Will, and nothing else. For whatsoever he willeth is just: And because he willeth it, therefore it is just; not because it is just, therefore he willeth it, Ephes. 1:11; Psal. 115:3; Mat. 20:15. which also may be applied to other Properties of God.
Explain this more particularly.
I say, that God doth not always a thing because it is just, but therefore any thing is just that is just, because God will have it so: And yet his Will is joined with high Wisdom. As for Example; Abraham did judge it a most just and righteous thing to kill his Innocent Son; not by the Law, for that did forbid him, but only because he did understand it was the special Will of God: and he knew that the Will of God was not only just, but also the Rule of all Righteousness.
That we may the better understand this Attribute, declare unto me how many manner of ways one may be Just or Righteous.
Three manner of ways: Either by Nature, or by Grace, or by perfect Obedience.
How many ways may one be Just by Nature?
Two ways. First, By himself, and of himself, in his own Essence and Being. Thus we say, that in respect of this Essential Righteousness, there is none just but God only; as Christ said, None is good but God only, Luk. 18:19.
Secondly, By the benefit of another, to be either made Righteous, or born Just. And in respect of this natural gift of Righteousness we say, that in the beginning Adam was made just; because he was created just and in his whole Nature was righteous and good. But this Righteousness was derived from God.
Whom do you call Just by Grace?
All the Elect, which are redeemed by the death of Christ; and that in two respects.
First, Because the Righteousness of Christ is imputed unto them, and so by grace and favour in Christ their Head, they are just before God.
Secondly, Because of grace and favour they are regenerated by the Holy Ghost; by the virtue of whose inherent Righteousness and Holiness, they are made Holy and Just; and whatsoever they do by it, is accepted for just for Christ's sake.
Whom do you call Just and Righteous, by yielding perfect obedience to God and his Law?
No Man in this World after the fall of Adam (Christ only excepted) ever was or can be just after that manner.
What say you of Christ, how was he Just?
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is most perfectly Just and Righteous every manner of way.
First, As he is God, he is in his own Essence, of himself, and by himself, most just, even as the Father is; and eternal Righteousness it self.
Secondly, As he was Man, he was just by Nature; because he was conceived without Sin, and so was born Just and Righteous.
Thirdly, By virtue of his Union with his Divine Nature, which is eternal Righteousness it self, he is most just.
Fourthly, By receiving the Gifts of the Holy Ghost without measure, he is most just, Psal. 45:7; John 3:34.
Fifthly, He did most perfectly obey the Law of God, and kept it most absolutely: Therefore that way also he is most Righteous and Just.
What conclude you upon all this?
That forasmuch as God only is in his own Essence and Nature, by himself and of himself, eternal Justice and Righteousness; therefore this Attribute of Justice or Righteousness doth most properly agree to God.
In how many things is God just?
In three, First, In his Will. Secondly, In his Word. Thirdly, In his Works.
What mean you when you say, that God is just in his Will?
That whatsoever he willeth is just, his Will (as hath been declared) being the Rule of Justice.
What mean you, when you say, that God is just in his Word?
That whatsoever he speaketh, is just.
What are the parts of God's Word?
Four. First, The History: Which is all true.
Secondly, The Precepts and the Laws: Which are perfect
Thirdly, Promises and Threatnings: Which are accomplished.
Fourthly, Hymns and Songs: Which are pure, holy, and undefiled.
In what respect is God just in his Word?
First, He speaketh as he thinketh.
Secondly, He doth both as he speaketh and thinketh.
Thirdly, There is no part of his Word contrary to another.
Fourthly, He loveth those that speak the Truth, and hateth those that are Liars.
What are the Works of God?
1. His eternal Decree; whereby he hath most justly decreed all things, and the Circumstances of all things, from all Eternity. 2. The just execution thereof in time.
What Justice doth God shew herein?
Both his Disposing and Rewarding Justice.
What is God's Disposing Justice?
That by which he, as a most free Lord, ordereth all things in his Actions rightly, Psal. 145:17.
In what Actions doth that appear?
First, He hath most justly and perfectly created all things of nothing.
Secondly, He hath most wisely, justly, and righteously disposed all things being created.
What is God's Rewarding Justice?
That whereby he rendreth to his Creatures according to their Works.
Wherein doth that appear?
First, He doth behold, approve, and reward all good in whomsoever.
Secondly, He doth behold, detest, and punish all evil in whomsoever. To which Justice both his Anger and his Hatred are to be referred.
What must we understand by Anger in God?
Not any Passion, Perturbation, or Trouble of the Mind, as it is in us: But this word Anger, when it is attributed to God in the Scripture, signifieth three things.
First, A most certain and just Decree in God, to punish and avenge such Injuries as are offered to himself, and to his Church: And so it is understood, John. 3:36; Rom. 1:18.
Secondly, The threatning of these Punishments and Revenges: As in Psal. 6:1; Hos. 11:9.
Thirdly, The Punishments themselves, which God doth execute upon ungodly Men: And these are the Effects of God's Anger, or of his Decree to punish them. So it is taken in Rom. 2:5; Mat. 3:7; Ephes. 5:6.
What Use may we make of this Attribute?
First, It teacheth us that Anger of it self is not simply Evil: But then it is Good, when it is such as the Scripture attributeth to God, and commendeth to Men; when it saith, Be angry and sin not, Ephes. 4:26.
Secondly, God's Anger serveth to raise us up from security.
Thirdly, We must not be slothful when we see the signs of God's Wrath coming, but use ordinary means to prevent it.
What is that Hatred that is attributed to God?
Not any passion or grief of the Mind as it is in us: But in the Scriptures these three things are signified thereby.
First, His denial of Good Will, and Mercy, to eternal Salvation: As Rom. 9:13. I have hated Esau; that is, I have rejected him, and have not vouchsafed him that favour and grace which I have shewed upon Jacob. And we also are said to hate those things which we neglect, and upon which we will bestow no benefit nor credit, but do put them behind other things: And therefore it is said, If any Man come unto me, and hate not his Father and Mother, and Wife and Children, &c. he cannot be my Disciple. That is, he that doth not put all these things behind me, and neglect them for me: So that the love which he beareth to them, must seem to be hatred, in comparison of that love which he must shew to me, (Luke 14:26. with Mat. 10:37.) And in this sense it is properly attributed to God.
Secondly, The Decree of God's Will to punish Sin, and the just punishment it self; which he hath decreed, as in Psal. 5:6 and Job 30:21. Thou turnest thy self cruelly against me, and art an enemy unto me with the strength of thine hand: that is, thou dost so sore chastise me, as if thou didst hate me. And in this sense also it is properly attributed to God: For it is a part of his Justice to take punishment of Sinners.
Thirdly, God's Displeasure: For those things which we hate do displease us. And in this sense also it is properly attributed to God: For it is the property of a most just Judge to disallow and detest Evil, as well as to allow and like that which is Good.
By what Reasons may this be confirmed?
1. It is the property of him that loveth, to hate and detest that which is contrary to himself, and that which he loveth. For love cannot be without its contrary of hatred: And therefore as the love of good things doth properly agree to God; so doth also the hatred of evil things as they are evil things.
2. It is manifest by David, that it is no less virtue to hate the Evil, than it is to love the Good. And this hatred of sin (as it is a virtue and perfect hatred) cannot be in us but by the Grace of God: For every good Gift is from above, &c. (Jam. 1:17.) and there can be no good thing in us, but it is first in God after a more perfect manner than it is in us.
What are we to learn thereby?
First, That it is a great virtue, and acceptable to God, to hate Wickedness, and wicked Men themselves; not as they are Men, but as they are wicked; and as David did, Psal. 139:21, 22. And we are no less bound to hate the Enemies of God, as they are his Enemies, than to love God, and those that love him. And if we do so, then we must also flee their company, and have no friendship or fellowship with them.
Secondly, That we must distinguish betwixt Mens Persons and their Sins and not to hate the Persons of Men, because they are the good Creatures of God: But their sins we must hate every day more and more, 2 Thess. 3:6, 14, 15.
Having spoken of the Essence and the Essential Properties of God; tell me now whether there be many Gods, or one only?
There is only one God, and no more.
How may this Unity of the Godhead be proved?
By express Testimonies of God's Word; by Reasons grounded thereon, and by Nature it self, guiding all things to one Principle.
What express Testimonies of God's Word have you for this?
Deut. 6:4. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. So in 1 Sam. 2:2; Psal. 18:31; Esa. 44:6 and 46:9; Mark 12:29, 32; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6.
What Reasons have you to prove that there is but one God?
First, We are charged to give unto God all our Heart, all our Strength, and all our Soul, Deut. 6:4, 5; Mark 12:29, 30. If one must have all, there is none left for any other.
Secondly, God is the chiefest Good, Psal. 144:15. the first Cause, and the high Governour of all things, Acts 17:28; Psal. 19:1. but there can be but one such.
Thirdly, The Light of Reason sheweth that there can be no more but one that is Infinite, Independent, and Almighty: If God be infinite and Omnipotent that doth all things, there can be but one; for all the rest must be idle.
How doth Nature guide all things to one Principle?
The whole course of the World tendeth to one end, and to one unity, which is God.
How can that be, when there be so many sundry things of divers kinds and conditions, and one contrary to another?
That is true indeed, but yet they all together serve one God.
Is that possible? Can you give an Instance hereof in some familiar Resemblance?
Yea, very well. In a Field there are many Battels, divers Standards, sundry Liveries, and yet all turn Head with one sway at once: By which we know that there is one General of the Field which commands them all.
What makes this to confirm your Assertion, that there is but one God over so many divers and contrary things in the World?
Yes; for even so in the World we see divers things, not one like another: for some are noble, some base; some hot, some cold; some wild, some tame; yet all serve to the Glory of God their Maker, and the benefit of Man, and the accomplishment of the whole World.
And what gather you by all this?
That there is but one God, which commanded them all, like the General of a Field.
If one God be the Author of all; why are there so many Poysons, and noysome Beasts?
First, They were not created noysome and hurtful at the first: But the sin of Adam brought the Curse upon the Creatures, Gen. 3:17, 18.
Secondly, Although God hath cursed the Creatures for Man's sin; yet in his Mercy he doth so dispose and order them, that they are profitable for us: For Poysons, we use them for Physick; and the Skins of wild Beasts serve against the Cold, &c.
Thirdly, The most hurtful things that are, might benefit us, if we knew how to use them: And whereas they annoy us, it is not of their own Nature so much as of our Ignorance.
And what do you conclude by all this?
That they have not two beginnings, one good and another bad, as some would imagine: But one Author thereof, which is God himself, always most good and gracious.
If there be but one only God, how is it that many in Scripture are called Gods? (1 Cor. 8:5.) as Moses is called Pharaoh's God, Exod. 7:1. and Magistrates are called Gods, Psal. 82:6. as Idols, and the Belly, Phil. 3:19. yea, and the Devil himself is called the God of this World, 2 Cor. 4:4.
The name Elohim or God is sometimes improperly given to other things, either as they participate of God his communicable Attributes, (as in the two first Instances) or as they are abusively set up by Man in the place of God, (as in the other). But properly it signifieth him, who is by Nature God, and hath his Being not from any thing but himself; and all other things are from him. And in this sense, unto us there is but one God and Lord, 1 Cor. 8:6. unto whom therefore the Name Jehovah is in Scripture incommunicably appropriated.
Why then are Magistrates called Gods?
For Four Causes. First, To teach us that such must be chosen to bear rule which excel others in Godliness, like Gods among Men.
Secondly, To encourage them in their Offices, and to teach them that they should not fear the Faces of Men; like Gods, which fear nothing.
Thirdly, To shew how God doth honour them, and how they must honour God again. For when they remember how God hath invested them with his own Name, it should make them ashamed to serve the Devil, or the World, or their own Affections; and move them to execute judgment justly, as if God himself were there.
Fourthly, To teach us to obey them, as we would obey God himself; for he which contemneth them, contemneth God himself, Rom. 13:2. and we must not dishonour those whom God doth honour.
Why are Idols called Gods?
Not because they are so indeed, but because Idolaters have such an opinion of them.
Why is the Belly called a God?
Because some make more thereof than of God and his Worship. For all that they can do and get, is little enough for their Bellies; and when they should serve God, they serve their Bellies and beastly Appetites.
And why is the Devil called the God of this World?
Because of the great Power and Sovereignty which is given him over the Wicked, whom God hath not chosen out of this World.
There being but one simple and individed Godhead; to whom doth this Divine Nature belong? Is it to be attributed to one, or to many Persons?
We must acknowledge and adore three distinct Persons, subsisting in the Unity of the Godhead.
But do you not believe the Godhead to be divided, whilst you believe that in one God there are three Persons?
No: Not divided into divers Essences, but distinguished into divers Persons. For God cannot be divided into several Natures, nor into several Parts: And therefore must the Persons, which subsist in that one Essence, be only distinct, and not separate one from another: As in the Example of the Sun, the Beams and the Light.
What be those Resemblances that are commonly brought, to shadow out unto us the Mystery of the Trinity?
First, The Sun begetteth his own Beams, and from thence proceedeth Light: and yet is none of them before another, otherwise than in consideration of Order and Relation; that is to say, that the Beams are begotten of the Body of the Sun, and the Light proceedeth from both.
Secondly, From one flame of Fire proceed both Light and Heat, and yet but one Fire.
Thirdly, In Waters there is the Well-head, the Spring boiling out of it, and the Stream flowing from them both; and all these are but one Water: And so there are three Persons in one Godhead, yet but one God.
Fourthly, In Man, the Understanding cometh from the Soul, and the Will from both.
May it be collected by natural Reason, that there is a Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Godhead?
No: For it is the highest Mystery of Divinity; and the knowledge thereof is more proper to Christians. For the Turks and Jews do confess one Godhead; but no distinction of Persons in the same.
How come we then by the Knowledge of this Mystery?
God hath revealed it in the Holy Scripture unto the Faithful.
What have we to learn of this?
1. That they are deceived who think this Mystery is not sufficiently delivered in the Scripture, but dependeth upon the Tradition of the Church.
2. That sith this is a wonderful Mystery which the Angels do adore; we should not dare to speak any thing in it farther than we have warrant out of God's Word: yea, we must tye our selves almost to the very words of the Scripture, lest in searching we exceed and go too far, and so be overwhelmed with the Glory.
How doth it appear in Holy Scripture, that the three Persons are of that Divine Nature?
1. By the Divine Names that it given to them; as Jehovah, &c.
2. By ascribing Divine Attributes unto them? As Eternity, Almightiness, &c.
3. By attributing Divine Works unto them: As Creation, Sustentation, and Governing of all things.
4. By appointing Divine Worship to be given unto them.
What special proofs of the Trinity have you out of the Old Testament?
First, The Father is said by his Word to have made the Worlds, the Holy Ghost working and maintaining them, and as it were sitting upon them, as the Hen doth on the Eggs she hatcheth, Gen. 1:2, 3.
Gen. 1:26. The Trinity speaketh in the Plural Number: Let us make Man in our Image after our Likeness.
Gen. 19:24. Jehovah is said to rain upon Sodom from Jehovah out of Heaven; that is, the Son from the Father, or to the Holy Ghost from both.
2 Sam. 23:2. The Spirit of Jehovah (or the Lord) spake by me, and his Word by my tongue: Here is Jehovah (the Father, with his Word (or Son) and Spirit.
Prov. 30:4. What is his Name, and what is his Son's Name, if thou canst tell?
Isa. 6:3. The Angels in respect of the three Persons do cry three times, Holy, Holy, Holy.
Isa. 42:1. Behold my Servant whom I uphold, mine Elect in whom my Soul delighteth: I have put my Spirit upon him.
Hag. 2:5. The Father with the Word and his Spirit make a Covenant.
What are the Proofs out of the New Testament?
As all other Doctrines, so this is there more clear; as first, Matth. 3:16, 17. at the Baptism of Christ, the Father from Heaven witnesseth of the Son; the Holy Ghost appearing in the likeness of a Dove. John Baptist saw the Son in his assumed Nature going out of the Water: There is one Person. He saw the Holy Ghost descending like a Dove upon him: There is another Person. And he heard a Voice from Heaven saying, This is my beloved Son: There is a third Person.
Mat. 17:5. At the Transfiguration, the Father in like manner speaketh of his Son.
Mat. 28:19. We are baptized into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
John 14:16, 26 and 15:26 and 16:13, 14, 15. The Father and Son promise to send the Holy Ghost.
Luke 1:35. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: Therefore that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.
Acts 2:33. Therefore being by the right Hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost; He hath shed forth this which you now see and hear.
2 Cor. 13:14. The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God; and the Communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.
Gal. 4:6. God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts.
Tit. 3:4, 5, 6. God saved us by the washing of the New Birth, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
What clear Proof have you that these three are but one God; and so that there is a Trinity in Unity?
1 John 5:7. It is expresly said, there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.
What learn you of that the Apostle saith they are three?
We learn that the word Trinity, although it be not expresly set down in the Word, yet it hath certain ground from thence.
What learn you of that, that they are said to be three Witnesses?
The singular Fruit that is in the Trinity of the Persons, in one Unity of the Godhead: Whereby great assurance is brought unto us of all things that God speaketh in promise or threat; seeing it is all confirmed by three Witnesses, against whom no exception lyeth.
What are they said here to witness?
That God hath given eternal Life unto us, and that this Life is in that his Son, 1 John 5:11.
How are these, being three, said to be but one?
They are one in Substance, Being, or Essence: But three Persons distinct in Subsistence, Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 12:4, 5; Deut. 6:4; Mar. 12:32; 1 Cor. 8:4, 5, 6; John 14:16 and 15:26 and 17:1.
If three Persons among Men be propounded, whereof every one is a Man; can it be said these three are but one Man?
No: But we must not measure God's Matters by the measure of Reason; much less this which of all others is a Mystery of Mysteries.
For the better understanding of this Mystery, declare unto me what a Person, is in general, and then what a Person in the Trinity is.
In general; a Person is one particular Thing, Indivisible, Incommunicable, Living, Reasonable, subsisting in it self, not having part of another.
Shew me the reason of the particular Branches of this Definition.
I say that a Person is, first, one particular Thing: Because no general Notion is a Person.
Indivisible: Because a Person may not be divided into many Persons; although he may be divided into many parts.
Incommunicable: Because, though one may communicate his Nature with one, he cannot communicate his Person-ship with another.
Living and Reasonable: Because no dead or unreasonable thing can be a Person.
Subsisting in it self: To exclude the humanity of Christ from being a Person.
Not having part of another: To exclude the Soul of Man separated from the Body, from being a Person.
What is a Person in the Trinity?
It is whole God, not simply or absolutely considered, but by way of some personal Properties. It is a manner of being in the Godhead, or a distinct Subsistence (not a Quality, as some have wickedly imagined: For no Quality can cleave to the Godhead) having the whole Godhead in it, John 11:22 and 14:9, 16 and 15:1 and 17:21; Col. 2:3, 9.
In what respect are they called Persons?
Because they have proper things to distinguish them.
How is this distinction made?
It is not in nature, but in relation and order.
Declare then the order of the Persons of the blessed Trinity?
The first in order is the Father: Then those that come from the Father; the Son who is the second, and the Holy Ghost who is the third Person in the Trinity.
How are these three distinguished by Order and Relation?
The Father is of himself alone, and of no other: The Son is of the Father alone begotten: The Holy Ghost is of the Father and the Son proceeding. And the Father is called the Father in respect of the Son, the Son in respect of the Father, the Holy Ghost in respect that he proceedeth from the Father and the Son: But the one is not the other; as the Fountain is not the Stream, nor the Stream the Fountain, but are so called one in respect of another, and yet all but one Water.
What then is the Father?
The first Person in the Trinity, who hath his Being and Foundation of Personal Subsistence from none other; and hath by Communication of his Essence eternally begotten his only Son of himself, John 5:27 and 14:11 and 20:17; Psal. 2:7; Heb. 1:3.
How is it proved that the Father is God?
By express Testimonies of the Scriptures, and by reason drawn from the same.
What are those express Testimonies?
John 17:3. This is Life Everlasting to know thee to be the only God, Rom. 1:7. Grace and Peace from God the Father, Ephes. 1:3. Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.
What are the Reasons drawn from the Word of God?
That we are bidden to Pray to him, Matth. 6:6, 9. that he revealeth the Mysteries, Matth. 11:25, 27. suffereth his Sun to shine, &c. Matth. 5:45.
How is it shewed that he begat his Son of himself?
In that he is called the Brightness of his Glory, and the engraven Form of his Person, Heb. 1:3. And in that this Generation being from Eternity, there was no Creature of whom he might beget him.
In what respects is he called the Father?
First, in respect of his natural Son Jesus Christ, begotten of his own Nature and Substance, Matth. 11:27; John 1:14; 1 John 4:14. whence he is called the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephes. 1:3. Secondly, In respect of his Adopted Sons, whom he hath chosen to be the Heirs of Heaven, through the Mediation of his Natural Son Jesus Christ, Ephes. 3:14; John 1:12; Rom. 8:14, 15; Matth. 6:9. For as he is by Nature the Father of Christ, so is he by Grace to us that believe our Father also.
What learn you hence?
To honour and obey him as a Father; and to be followers of God as dear Children, Mal. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:14; Ephes. 5:1.
What other Names are given in the Scripture to the first Person?
The Father spake most commonly in the Old Testament, (for in these last times he hath spoken by his Son); and he is called by these Names.
Jehovah; that is, I am that I am, without beginning or ending, Esa. 42:8; Exod. 3:14; Rev. 1:4, 8.
Elohim; that is, Mighty and Strong.
Adonah; that is, Judge, or in whose judgment we rest.
Lord of Hosts; because he hath Angels, and Men, and all Creatures at Command to fight for him, 1 Kings 19:14.
The God of Jacob or of Israel; because he made a Promise to Abraham, that he would be his God, and the God of his Seed, and the Israelites were the Seed of Abraham, Acts 3:13.
Hitherto of the Father: Do the other persons that are of the Father, receive their Essence or Godhead from him?
They do. For howsoever in this they agree with the Father, that the Essence which is in them, is of it self uncreated and unbegotten: Yet herein lyeth the distinction, that the Father hath his Essence in himself originally, and from none other; the Son and the Holy Ghost have the self-same uncreated and unbegotten Essence in themselves, as well as the Father, (otherwise they should have had no true Godhead) but not from themselves.
If these persons that come from the Father have a beginning; how can they be eternal?
They have no beginning of time or continuance; but of order of subsistence and off-spring, and that from all Eternity.
Are you able to set down the manner of this Eternal Off-spring?
We find it not revealed touching the manner: And therefore our Ignorance herein is better than all their Curiosity, that have enterprized arrogantly the search hereof. For if our own Generation and Frame in our Mother's Womb be above our capacity, Psal. 139:14, 15. it is no marvel if the Mystery of the eternal Generation of the Son of God cannot be comprehended. And if the Wind, which is but a Creature, be so hard to know, that Man knoweth not from whence it cometh and whither it goeth, John 3:8. it is no marvel if the proceeding of the Holy Ghost be unsearchable.
Thus much in general touching the Persons which come from the Father. Now in special, What is the Son?
The second Person of the Trinity, having the Foundation of personal Subsistence from the Father alone; of whom by Communication of his Essence, he is begotten from all Eternity, John 5:26; Psal. 2:7; Prov. 8:22, &c. Prov. 30:4.
What Names are given unto him in this respect?
First, The only Begotten Son of God, John 1:14 and 3:18. because he is only begotten of the Nature and Substance of the Father.
Secondly, First Begotten, Heb. 1:6; Rom. 8:29. not as though the Father begat any after; but because he begat none before.
Thirdly, The Image and Brightness of the Father's Glory, Heb. 1:3. because the Glory of the Father is expressed in his Son.
But why is he called the Word? 1 John 5:7. and John 1:1.
He is called a Word, or Speech, (for so doth Logos more properly signifie): Because,
First, As Speech is the birth of the Mind; so is the Son of the Father.
Secondly, As a Man revealeth the meaning of the Heart by the Word of his Mouth; so God revealeth his Will by his Son, John 1:18; Heb. 1:2.
Thirdly, He is so often spoken of and promised in the Scriptures; and is in a manner the whole Subject of the Scriptures, John 1:45.
How prove you that the Son is God?
He is in the Scriptures expresly called God, and Jehovah: And likewise the Essential Properties, the Works and Actions of God are given to him, Esa. 9:6 and 25:9; Zach. 2:10, 11; Prov. 8:22; John 1:1 and 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Phil. 1:6; Heb. 1:8, 10:1; John 5:20.
How do you prove it by his Works?
His Works were such as none could do but God: For,
1. He made the World: which none could do but God, Heb. 1:2.
2. He forgave Sins: which none can do but God, Matth. 9:2.
3. He giveth the Holy Ghost: which none can do but God, John 15:16.
4. He maintaineth his Church: which he could not do if he were not God, Ephes. 4:11, 12.
Can you prove the Son to be God, by comparing the Old Testament and the New together?
Yes. For what the Old Testament speaks of Jehovah, which is God, that the New Testament applieth to Christ. As,
First, David saith, Jehovah went up on high, and led Captivity captive, Psal. 68:18. Paul applieth it to Christ, Ephes. 4:8.
Secondly, The Psalmist saith, Jehovah was tempted, Psal. 95:9. which Paul applieth to Christ, 1 Cor. 10:9.
Thirdly, Esay saith, Jehovah is the first and the last, Esa. 41:4. that is also applied to Christ, Apoc. 1:8 and 21:6 and 22:13.
Fourthly, Esay saith, Jehovah will not give his Glory to any other than to himself, Esa. 42:8. But it is given to Christ, Heb. 1:6. Therefore Christ is Jehovah.
For the better understanding of the generation of the Son; shew me the divers manners of begetting.
There be two manners of begetting: The one is carnal and outward, and this is subject to corruption, alteration, and time. The other is spiritual and inward: as was the begetting of the Son of God; in whose Generation there is neither corruption, alteration, nor time.
Declare then after what manner this Spiritual Generation of the Son of God was: and yet in sobriety, according to the Scriptures.
For the better finding out of this Mystery, we must consider in God two things. First, That in God there is an understanding, Psal. 139:2. Secondly, We must consider how this Understanding is occupied in God.
Declare after what manner it is in God.
This Understanding is his very Being, and is everlastingly, and most perfectly occupied in God.
Whereupon doth God's Understanding Work?
Upon nothing but it self; and that I prove by Reason. For God being Infinite and all in all, it cannot meet with any thing but himself.
What Work doth this Understanding in God effect?
It doth understand and conceive it self. For as in a Glass a Man doth conceive and beget a perfect Image of his own Face: So God in beholding and minding of himself, doth in himself beget a most perfect and most lively Image of himself; which is that in the Trinity which we call the Son of God.
Where do you find that the Son is called the Perfect Image of God?
Heb. 1:3. He is called the Brightness of his Glory, and the Engraven Form of his Person, which is all one.
What mean you by Engraven Image?
That as Wax upon a Seal hath the Engraven Form of the Seal: So the Son of God, which his Father had begotten of his own Understanding, is the very Form of his Father's Understanding; so that when the one is seen, the other is seen also.
When then he is Understanding it self, for so is his Father.
Yea, he is so; and he saith so of himself, I have Counsel and Wisdom, I am Understanding, Prov. 8:14.
But where find you that he was begotten?
He saith so himself, in the Name of Wisdom, in these Words; When there was no depths, then was I begotten; before the Mountains and Hills were settled was I begotten, Prov. 8:24, 25.
Yea, he was made the Son of God when he was born of the Virgin Mary; was he not?
He was indeed then the Son of God, but he was not then made the Son of God.
When then was he made the Son of God?
He was never made in time; for he was begotten of the substance of his Father from all Eternity, without beginning or ending.
How prove you that the Son of God was not made, but begotten eternally of the substance of his Father?
I prove it, first, by Scripture: For he saith no less himself; I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, and before the Earth, Prov. 8:23. and therefore he prayed that he might be glorified of his Father with the Glory which he had with him before the World was, John 17:5.
Secondly, I prove it by Reason. For God's Understanding is everlasting: therefore the second Person which it begetteth, is so too. For the Father in his Understanding did not conceive any thing less than himself, nor greater than himself, but equal to himself.
Although the Son of God be from everlasting, yet he is not all one with the Father; is he?
Yes, that he is: And yet not joined with his Father in Heaven as two Judges that sit together on a Bench; or as the Seal and the Wax, as some do grosly imagine; but they are both one without parting (John 10:30.) or mingling: Whereupon I conclude, that whatsoever the Father is, the Son is the same: And so consequently that they be Co-eternal, Co-equal, and Co-essential.
Men by reason do conceive and beget Reason: What difference is there between the conceiving of Understanding in Men, and the conceiving of Understanding in God?
There is great difference. For, first, this conceiving in Men proceedeth of Sense or outward Imagination, which is an outward thing for Reason to work upon, as Wood is to Fire: But God the Father of himself begetteth and conceiveth himself, and still in himself; as John saith, The only begotten Son which is in the Bosom of the Father, John 1:18.
Secondly, In Men, the thing which is understood, and the Understanding it self is not all one: But in God it is all one.
What reason have you for this?
The reason is, because only God is altogether Life, and his Life is altogether Understanding, and his Understanding is the highest degree of Life: And therefore he hath his conceiving and begetting most inward of all.
What mean you when you say most inward of all?
I mean that the Father conceiveth of himself, and in himself; and his conceiving is a begetting, and his begetting abideth still in himself; because his Understanding can no where meet with any thing, but that which he himself is: and that is the second Subsistence in the Trinity, which we call the Everlasting Son of God.
Now let me hear what the Holy Ghost is, and how he proceedeth from the Father and the Son.
For the understanding of this Matter, we must consider two things.
First, That in the Essence of God, besides his Understanding, there is a Will, Esa. 46:10.
Secondly, What be the Properties of his Will in God.
What are the Properties of God's Word?
First, It applieth his Power when, where, and how he thinks good; according to his own Mind.
Secondly, It worketh everlastingly upon it self, as his understanding doth.
What gather you by this?
That because it hath no other thing to work upon but it self, it doth delight it self in the infinite good which it knoweth in it self; for the action of the Will is delight and liking.
And what of that?
That delight which God or his Will hath in his own Infinite Goodness, doth bring forth a third Person or Subsistence in God; which we call the Holy Ghost.
What is that same third Subsistence in God?
The mutual kindness and lovingness of the Father and the Son.
What mean you by this mutual lovingness and kindness?
The Father taketh joy and delight in the Son, or his own Image conceived by his Understanding; and the Son likewise rejoiceth in his Father, as he saith himself, Prov. 8:30. and the reason thereof is this: The Action of the Will, when it is fulfilled, is love and liking.
What resemblance can you shew thereof in something that is commonly used amongst us?
When a Man looketh in a Glass, if he smile, his Image smileth too; and if he taketh delight in it, he taketh the same delight in him: for they are both one.
If they be all one, how can they then be three?
The Face is one, the Image of the Face in a Glass is another, and the smiling of them both together is a third; and yet all are in one Face, and all are of one Face, and all are but one Face.
And is it so in God?
Yea, for even so the Understanding, which is in God, is one; the Reflection or Image of his Understanding which he beholdeth in himself as in a Glass, is a second; and the love and liking of them both together, by reason of the Will fulfilled, is a third: And yet all are but of one God, all are in one God, and all are but one God.
Which of these three is first?
There is neither first nor last, going afore or coming after, in the Essence of God: But all these as they are everlasting, so they are all at once and at one instant: Even as in a Glass the Face and the Image of the Face, when they smile, they smile together, and not one before nor after another.
What is the conclusion of all?
As we have the Son of the Father by his everlasting Will in working by his Understanding; so also we have the Holy Ghost of the love of them both by the joint working of the Understanding and Will together. Whereupon we conclude three distinct Persons Subsistences (which we call the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost) in one Spiritual, yet unspeakable Substance, which is very God himself.
But what if some will be yet more curious to know how the Son of God should be begotten, and how the Holy Ghost should proceed from the Father and the Son: How may we satisfie them?
Well enough. For if any will be too curious about this Point, we may answer them thus. Let them shew us how themselves are bred and begotten, and then let them ask us how the Son of God is begotten: And let them tell us the Nature of the Spirit that beateth in their Pulses, and then let them be inquisitive at our Hands for the proceeding of the Holy Ghost.
And what if they cannot give us a reason for the manner of their own Being, may they not be inquisitive for the manner of God's Being?
No. For if they must be constrained to be ignorant in so common matters which they daily see and feel in themselves; let them give us leave to be ignorant, not only in this, but in many things more, which are such as no Eye hath seen, nor Ear hath heard, nor Wit of Man can conceive.
Let us now hear out of the Scriptures what the Holy Ghost is?
He is the third Person of the Trinity by Communication of Essence, eternally proceeding from the Father and from the Son.
Are you able to prove out of the Scriptures that the Holy Ghost is God?
Yes. Because the Name, Properties and Actions of God are therein given to him, as to the Father and to the Son.
Let us hear some of those Proofs.
First, Gen. 1:2. the Work of the Creation is attributed to the Spirit of God.
Secondly, Esa. 61:1. the Spirit of the Lord God is said to be upon Christ, because the Lord anointed him, &c.
Thirdly, 1 Cor. 3:16 and 2 Cor. 6:16. Paul calleth us God's Temples; because the Holy Ghost dwelleth in us. St. Augustine in his 66 Epistle to Maximinus, saith it is a clear Argument of his Godhead, if we were commanded to make him a Temple but of Timber and Stone, because that Worship is due to God only: Therefore now we must much more think that he is God, because we are not commanded to make him a Temple, but to be a Temple for him our selves.
What other Reason have you out of the Scriptures?
Peter reproving Ananias for lying to the Holy Ghost, said, that he lied not to Men, but to God, Acts 5:3, 4.
Have you any more Reasons from the Scripture
Yea, two more: One from St. Paul, and another from St. Paul and Esay together.
What is your Reason from St. Paul?
When he sheweth how many sundry Gifts are given to Men, he saith, that one and the self-same Spirit is the distributer of them all: Therefore he is God; for none can distribute those Gifts which Paul here speaketh of, but God, 1 Cor. 12:6, 11.
What is your Reason from Esay and St. Paul together?
Esay saith in Chap. 6:8, 9. I heard the Lord speaking: Which place Paul expounded of the Holy Ghost, Acts 28:25.
But how can you prove out of the Scriptures, that the Holy Ghost is God, proceeding from the Father and the Son?
First, John 15:26. 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 testifie of me. That he proceedeth from the Father, is here expresly affirmed: That he proceedeth from the Son, is by necessary consequence implied, because the Son is said to send him; at John 14:26. the Father is said to send him in the Son's Name. By which sending, the Order of the Persons of the Trinity is evidently designed. Because the Son is of the Father, and the Father is not of the Son; therefore we find in Scripture that the Father sendeth his Son, but never that the Son sendeth his Father. In like manner because the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father, and from the Son; we find that both the Father and the Son do send the Holy Ghost, but never that the Holy Ghost doth send either the Father or Son.
Secondly, John 16:15. The Son saith of the Holy Ghost; All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore, said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath, the Son receiveth from him, as coming from him; and so whatsoever the Holy Ghost hath, he hath it not of himself, vers. 13. but from the Son, and so from the Father; as a Person proceeding as well from the one as from the other.
Thirdly, Gal. 4:6. God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your Hearts. As the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Father, (Esa. 48:16. The Lord and his Spirit hath sent me); so is he here also called the Spirit of the Son; and Rom. 8:9. the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ. Now, if the Spirit of Man, in whom there is no perfection, be all one with Man, much more the Spirit of the Father is all one with the Father, and the Spirit of the Son is all one with the Son; and so the Holy Ghost with the Father and the Son, is the same in Deity, Dignity, Eternity, Operation, and Will.
Why is the third Person called the Spirit?
Not only because he is a Spiritual, (that is) an immaterial and pure Essence, (for so likewise is the Father a Spirit, and the Son as well as he): But first, In regard of his Person; because he is spired, and, as it were, breathed both from the Father and the Son, proceeding from them both. Secondly, In regard of the Creatures; because the Father and the Son do work by the Spirit: Who is as it were the Breath of Grace, which the Father and the Son breatheth out upon on the Saints, blowing freely where it listeth, and working Spiritually for manner, means, and matter, where it pleaseth, John 20:22; Psal. 33:6; John. 3:8; Acts 2:2, 3, 4; 1 Cor. 2:12, 13.
Why is he called the Holy Spirit?
Not only because of his Essential Holiness as God; for so the Father and the Son are also infinitely Holy as he: But because he is the Author and Worker of all Holiness in Men, and the Sanctifier of God's Children.
Why, doth not the Father and the Son sanctifie also?
Yes verily: But they do it by him: and because he doth immediately sanctifie, therefore he hath the Title of Holy.
What other Titles are given unto him in the Word of God?
First, The Good Spirit: Because he is the Fountain of Goodness, Psalm 143:10.
Secondly, The Spirit of God: Because he is God, 1 Sam. 11:6.
Thirdly, The Finger of God: Because God worketh by him as a Man by his Hand, Luke 11:20.
Fourthly, The Spirit of Adoption: Because he assureth our Hearts that we be the Adopted Sons of God, Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6.
Fifthly, The Spirit of Love, Power, Sobriety, Wisdom, &c. because it worketh all these things in us, 2 Tim. 1:6, 7; Esa. 11:2.
Sixthly, The Comforter: Because he strengthneth the weak Hearts of his Saints, John 14:1, 16, 26.
What are the Special Comforts which the Children of God receive from the Holy Ghost?
He is in their Hearts the Pledge of Christ's Presence, John 14:16, 17, 18, 26. the Witness of their Adoption, Rom. 8:15, 16. the Guide of their Life, Joh. 16:13. the Comforter of their Soul, John 14:26 and 15:26. the Seal of their Redemption, Ephes. 1:13 and 4:30. and the first Fruits of their Salvation, Rom. 8:23.
But how are you assured that you have the Spirit?
Because it hath convinced my Judgment, John 16:8. converted my Soul, Acts 26:18; Esa. 61:1. and having mixed the Word with my Faith, Heb. 4:2. it is become as Life to quicken me, John 6:63. as Water to cleanse me, Ezek. 36:25. as Oyl to chear me, Heb. 1:9. as Fire to melt and refine me, Matth. 3:11.
And how may you keep the Spirit now you have it?
By nourishing the good motions and means of it, 1 Thess. 5:17, 18, 19. being fearful to grieve, quench, resist, or molest it, Ephes. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19; Acts 7:51. and careful to be led by it, and shew forth the Fruits of it, Rom. 8:1, 14; Gal. 5:18, 22.
Thus much of the three Persons severally. What now remaineth more to be spoken of the Mystery of the Trinity?
To set down briefly, what be the things common wherein the three Persons agree: and what be the things proper to each of them, whereby they are distinguished one from another.
What are the things wherein the three Persons do communicate?
They are considered in regard of themselves or of the Creatures.
What are they in regard of themselves?
They agree one with another in Nature, Being, Life, Time, Dignity, Glory, or any thing pertaining to the Divine Essence: For in all these they are one and the same; and consequently, Co-essential, Co-equal, and Co-eternal.
What mean you, when you say they be Co-essential?
That they be all the self-same Substance or Being; having one individual Essence or Deity common to them all, and the self-same in them all.
What mean you, when you say they be Co-equal?
That as they agree in Deity, so they agree in Dignity: Being of one State, Condition, and Degree, and the one having as great excellency and majesty every way as the other. Therefore their Honour and Worship is equal and alike; and one of them is not greater nor more glorious than another, John. 5:18; Apoc. 5:12, 13.
What mean you, when you say that they be Co eternal?
That one was not before another in time; but that one hath been of as long continuance as another, and all of them have been and shall be for ever, (as being all of one self-same everlasting continuance.)
How prove you this?
John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word, &c. and at that time the three Persons speak, Gen. 1:26. Let us make Man, &c. Heb. 13:8. Jesus Christ yesterday, to day, and the same for ever.
How can there be this equality betwixt the three Persons of the Trinity, seeing the Father is the first, the Son the second, the Holy Ghost the third?
Because every one of them is perfect God; who is Infinite, Eternal, and In-comprehensible.
Have they all three one Will likewise?
They have: And therefore they will all one and the same thing without any crossing, contradiction, or varying in themselves; as the Son himself saith, John 8:29. I do always those things that please him, viz. the Father.
Is there nothing else to be said of the Communion of the three Persons betwixt themselves?
Yes. That first one is in another, and possesseth one another: the Father remaining with the Son, the Son with the Father, the Holy Ghost in and with them both, Prov. 8:22; John 1:1 and 14:10, 20.
2. They have glory one of another, from all eternity, John 17:5.
3. They delight one in another, and infinitely rejoice in one another's fellowship: The Son being the delight of the Father, the Father of the Son, and the Holy Ghost of both, Prov. 8:30.
What things have they common in regard of the Creatures?
All outward Actions; as to decree, to create, to order, govern, and direct, to redeem, to sanctifie; are equally common to the three Persons of the Trinity. For as they are all one in Nature and Will, so must they be also one in Operation, all of them working one and the same thing together, Gen. 1:26; John. 5:17, 19.
What are the things proper to each of them?
They likewise are partly in regard of themselves, and partly of the Creatures, whereby the distinction of them is conceived; partly in relation and order of subsistence betwixt themselves, and partly in order and manner of working in the Creatures.
What things are proper to each of them in regard of themselves?
First, In manner and order of Being: the Father is the first Person, having his Being from himself alone, and is the Fountain of Being to the other Persons; the Son is the second, having his Being from the Father alone, (and in that respect is called the Light, the Wisdom, the Word, and the Image of the Father); the Holy Ghost is the third, having his Being from them both; and in that respect is called the Spirit of God, of the Father, and of Christ.
Secondly, In their Inward Actions and Properties: The Father alone begetteth, (and so in relation to the second Person is called the Father; the Son is of the Father alone begotten; the Holy Ghost doth proceed both from the Father and the Son.
What is proper to each of them in regard of the Creatures?
First, The Original of the Action is ascribed to the Father, John 5:17, 19. the Wisdom, and manner of working, to the Son, John 1:3; Heb. 1:2. the Efficacy of Operation to the Holy Ghost, Gen. 1:2; 1 Cor. 12:11.
Secondly, The Father worketh all things of himself, in the Son, by the Holy Ghost: The Son worketh from the Father, by the Holy Ghost; the Holy Ghost worketh from the Father and the Son.
From A Body of Divinity, or the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion