« السابقةمتابعة »
flame it, and by thinking to make atonement for their fins, they did in truth add to the number and heinousness of them.
And let us likewise learn from this admirable pattern, to pity those that are in misery, as Christ also hath pitied us; and to save them that are ready to perish, for his fake who came to seek and to save us that were lost.
Let us, upon all occasions, be ready to open our bowels of compallion towards the poor; in a thankful imitation of his grace and goodness, who for our sakes chose to be a beggar, that we for his fake might not despise the poor, but might have a tender regard and compassion to those whose condition in this world does so nearly resemble that in which the Son of God thought it fittest for him to appear when he was pleased to be
In a word, let us, in the whole course, and in all the actions of our lives, Mew forth the virtues of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light; and hath raised up a mighty salvation for us, that, being delivered from all our spiritual enemies, from sin, and all the powers of darkness, we might ferve him who hath saved us; walking in holiness and righteousness before him, all the day's of our lives.
Now, to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb that was lluin: to God even our Father, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, the first begotten from the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth : unto him whó hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; and, whilst we were enemies to him, loved us at such a rate, as never any man did his friend : to him who became man, that he might bring us to God; and assumed our frail and mortal nature, that he might clothe us with immortality and life: to him who was pleased to dwell and live amongst us, that he might teach us how to live: to him who died for our sins, and rose again for our justification, and lives for ever to make intercession for us : him be glory and dominion, thanksgiving and praise, to eternal ages. Amen. VOL. III. L
S E R M Ò N
Concerning the unity of the divine nature,
and the blessed Trinity, &c.
I Tim. ii. 5.
THE particle for leads us to the confideration of
the context, and occasion of these words; which
in Thort is this. The design of this epistle is, to dircet Timothy, to whom St. Paul had committed the government of the church of Ephesus, how he ought to demean himself in that great and weighty charge. And, at the beginning of this chapter, he gives direction concerning publick prayers in the church; that prayers and thanksgivings be made for all men, and for all ranks and orders of men ; especially for kings, and all that are in authority, that under them Christians might lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
And this he tells us was very suitable to the Christian religion, by which God designed the salvation of mankind; and therefore it must needs be very acceptable to him, that we should offer up prayers and thanksgivings to him in behalf of all men : For this (saith the Apostle) is good ard acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour ; who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
And then it follows in the next words, For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all : as if he frad said, This univerfal charity of Christians, in praying for all men, must needs be very acceptable to him to whom we put up our prayers, God the Father, who sent his Son for the salvation of all men; and to him likewife by whom we offer up our prayers to God, and is amongst us Christians the only Mediator between God and SI?n, in virtue of that price and ransom which he paid
for the redemption of all mankind: I say, for this reafon, it must needs be very acceptable to him, that we should pray for all men, because he died for all men; and now that he is in heaven at the right hand of God, interceeds with him for the salvation of those for whom he died. There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.
Which words, though they be brought in to prove more immediately, that it is acceptable to God our Saviour, that we should put up prayers to him for all men, because he desires the salvation of all men, and hath sent his Son to purchase the salvation of all men by the facrifice of himself, and, in virtue of that sacrifice, to be the only Mediator between God and us: I say, though this be the immediate scope and delign of these words, yet they are likewise a direction to us, unto whom we orght to address our prayers, namely, to God; and by wloso mediation and intercession we ought to put up our prayers to God the Father, namely, by his Son Jesus Christ, who is constituted the only Niediator between God and men.
There are several propositions contained in this and the following verse. But I fall at present confine myself to the first, namely, That there is one God; that is, but one ; as St. Paul elsewhere expresseth it, There is none cther God but one, i Cor. viii. 4. And Moses lays this as the foundation of the natural law, as well as of the Jewish religion, The Lord he is one God; there is n011e else besides him, Deut. iv. 35.; that is, besides Jehovah, whom the people of Israel did worship as the only true God. And this the Prophet Ifaiah perpetually declares, in opposition to the Polytheism and variety of gods among the Heathen, Il. xliv. 6. I am the first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no God. And again, v 8. Is there a God besides me ? yea, there is no God, I know not any. He, who hath an infinite knowledge, and knows all things, knows no other God. And our blessed Saviour makes this the fundamental article of all religion, and the knowledge of it necessary to every man's falvation : This (says he) is life eternal, to know thee the only true God,
The unity of the divine nature is a notion wherein the greatest and the wisest part of mankind did always agree; and therefore may reasonably be presumed to be either natural, or to have sprung from some original tradition delivered down to us from the first parents of mankind : I mean, that there is one supreme being, the author and cause of all things, whom the most ancient of the Heathen poets commonly called the father of gods and men. And thus Aristotle, in his metaphyficks, defines God,“ the eternal, and most excellent, or belt, of “ all living beings.” And this notion of one lupreme being agrees very well with that 'exact harmony which appears in the frame and government of the world; in which we see all things conspiring to one end, and continuing in one uniform order and course; which cannot reasonably be ascribed to any other but a constant and uniform cause; and which to a considering man does plainly shew, that all things are made and governed by that one powerful principle, and great and wile mind, which we call God.
But although the generality of mankind had a notion of one fupreme God, yet the idolatry of the Heathen plainly shews, that this notion, in process of time, was greatly degenerated, and corrupted into an apprehension of a plurality of gods; though in reason it is evident enough that there can be no more gods than one; and that one, who is of infinite perfection, is as sufficient to all purposes whatsoever, as ten thousand deities, if they were possible, could pollibly be ; as I shall shew in the following discourse.
Now, this multitude of deities, which the fond superstition and vain imagination of men had formed to themselves, were by the wiser sort, who, being forced to comply with the follies of the people, endeavoured to make the best of them, supposed to be either parts of the universe; which the Egyptians, as Plutarch tells us, thought to be the same with God; but then the more considera able parts of the universe they parcelled out into several deities : and as the ocean hath several names, according to the several coafts and countries by which it passeth ; so they gave several names to this one Deity, according
to the several parts of the world which several nations made the objects of their worship :
Or else they adored the several perfections and powers of the one supreme God, under several names and titles, with regard to the various blessings and benefits which they thought they received from him.
Thus the Indian philosophers, the Brachmans, are said to have worshipped the sun as the supreme Deity : and he certainly is the most worshipful of all sensible beings, and bids fairest for a Deity ; especially if he was, as they supposed, animated by a spirit endued with knowledge and understanding. And if a man, who had been bred in a dark cave, should all on the sudden be brought out at noon-day to behold this visible world; after he had viewed and considered it a while, he would in all probability pitch upon the sun as the most likely, of all the things he had seen, to be a Deity. For if such a man had any
notion of a God, and were to chuse one upon sight, he would without dispute fix upon the sun, and fall down before him and worship him.
And Macrobius manageth this as his main plea for the idolatry of the Heathen, that under all the several names of their gods they worshipped the sun : and this diversity of names was but a more diftinét conception and acknowledgment of the many blessings and advantages which mankind received from him, and a more particular and express adoration of the several powers and perfections which were in him. And this was the very best defence, and all the tolerable fense which the wifest among the Heathen could make of the multitude of their deities.
And yet whilst they generally owned one fupreinc being that was the principle and original of all things, they worshipped several subordinate deities, as really distinct from one another. Some of these they fancied to be superior to the rest, and to have their residence in heaven ; by which Marsilius Ficinus supposes Plato to mean no more but the chief of the angels. These were called Osol', dii fuperi, and dii cæleftes; "superior and hea" venly gods.
The scripture terms them the host of heaven, meaning the fun, moon, and stars; which they