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one God, which is attended with so many inconveniences, prevent the salvation of some men ?
Although this opinion may not be considered as exposing to final condemnation any person who entertains no suspicion of his being in error, and who may have enjoyed no advantages for coming to the knowledge of the truth ;-provided he believe that Jesus Christ was truly a man, that he really died for our sins, and rose again for our justification; that after his resurrection he was constituted by God both Lord and Christ, made the head of the church, and appointed to be the judge of quick and dead; and thus embraces a faith in Christ which worketh by love, and becomes a new creature; and who therefore does not perceive the tendency of his erroneous opinion, holding it rather according to the sound of the words than their real sense and import, and is disposed to embrace the truth as soon as any one convinces him of his mistake :Although, I say, this opinion may not be considered as exposing to final condemnation a person of this character; nevertheless the salvation of that man is beyond doubt in great danger, who, when occasion offers, does not examine into the truth of the doctrine of the unity of God's person, or who obstinately resists it, or is unwilling to acknowledge it, or, if he acknowledge it, will not venture openly to profess it, but, as Christ speaks, is ashamed of it, and does not promote it as far as his opportunities would enable him, or else shrinks from it after he has known and embraced it; and particularly if, without any ostenor for some reason ill understood, or
against his own conscience, he condemn those who maintain it; declare them unworthy of Christian fellowship, and even of the Christian name; and above all if he harass and persecute them : or, lastly, if following the influence of his erroneous opinion, he depart from those things without which no one can obtain salvation.
Is there any thing else pertaining to the nature of God, the knowledge of which you conceive to conduce to salvation ?
Yes :—that his essence is spiritual, and invisible. How do you prove this?
That the essence of God is spiritual appears from those words of Christ recorded John iv. 24; where he declares that “God is a spirit.” That God is invisible may
also be inferred from this passage; and is besides asserted in several other texts of scripture. Thus Colossians i. 15, Christ is called the "image of the InVISIBLE GOD." 1 Timothy i. 17, God is styled the “king eternal, immortal, INVISIBLE.” In the sixth chapter and sixteenth verse it is stated that " hath seen, or can see him.” And John (chap. i. 18) uses a similar mode of expression—" No man hath seen God at any time.”
Of what use is the knowledge of these attributes ?
First, Christ intimates its utility when he argues from God's being a spirit, that he ought to be worshiped in spirit and in truth. Secondly, it is of use to apprise us that those passages of Scripture in which bodily members are ascribed to God, are to be interpreted higuratively; and that, in consequence, we may
be restrained from degrading the majesty of God, as if he were like to a mortal man, and from forming, for the purpose of worship, any visible resemblance of him.
OF THE WILL OF GOD. You have now explained to me those things which relate to the nature of God; we must, in the next place,consider those which pertain to his will;-wherefore I wish you, first, to inform me what you understand hy the terms, THE WILL OF GOD?
By the Will of God, I do not understand that faculty of willing naturally inherent in the Deity, but the effect of that faculty: though in this place those things alone ought to be considered, the knowledge of which pertains to the Christian religion.
What are these things?
Some of them were known even before the coming of Christ; and some were first revealed by him.
What are those of the former class ?
These were, in part, known before the delivery of the Law, and in part declared by the Law.
What are those things which were known by mankind before the delivery of the Law?
The principal are the three following : First, the creation of heaven and earth, and of all that they contain. Secondly, the providence of God over all affairs, especially over mankind, wherehy he beholds and governs alla and preserves the whole as long as to him seems proper, And thirdly, the rewarding of those who seek him, that is, who obey his commands, and the punishing of those who refuse him obedience. This last head comprises some knowledge of those things which are pleasing to God, and by the observance of which he is obeyed; and it is probable that none of those particulars which were known of old and before its promulgation were omitted in the Law of Moses.
Wherefore is it necessary to believe concerning God that he created heaven and earth?
Three principal reasons may be assigned: First, that it is God's will we should believe this, since the work of creation pertains to his highest glory. Hence it is that in the Scriptures both God himself and his ministers so frequently admonish us on this head; as you may perceive in the following passages, among others. Isaiah xliv. 24,"I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” Genesis i. 1, “ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Psalm xxxiii. 6—9. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gather-' eth the waters of the sea together as an heap; he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast." Acts iy. 24, “Lord, thou art God, which bast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.” Acts xiv. 15. “ We-preach unto you, that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are
therein." Acts xvii. 24, “ God that made the world, and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heayen and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” Revelation xiv. 7, “ Fear God, and give glory to him -and worship him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. The second reason is, that unless we are firmly convinced that God created heaven and earth, we shall have no foundation for believing that his Providence is such as I have declared it to be over all affairs, and more especially over every human being : and on this account we shall feel no inducement to yield him obedience. And the third is, that it is from creation that God's authority over us, out of which arises the necessity of our obedience to him, is made manifest.
From this answer I perceive that I have no occasion to ask, why we ought to believe in God's providential care over all things, and especially over every human being, or concerning his rewarding those who seek him:—Wherefore state to me what those things are, which were declared to mankind by the Law, and are necessary to be known by Christians ?
They are those things which are comprised in the moral law, and principally in the Decalogue; of which I shall speak hereafter in enumerating those things which have been revealed by Christ.