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12. The work of creation, and so the work of upholding all things in being, can, in no sense, be properly said to be the work of any created nature. If the created nature gives forth the word, as Joshua did, when he said, "Sun, stand thou still;" yet it is not that created nature that does it: that being that depends himself on creating power, does not properly do any thing towards creation, as Joshua did nothing towards stopping the sun in his course. So that it cannot be true in Dr. Watts's scheme, that that Son of God, who is a distinct Person from God the Father, did at all, in any manner of propriety, create the world, nor does he uphold it or govern it. Nor can those things that Christ often says of himself, be true; as, "The Father worketh hitherto, and I work.""Whatsoever the Father doth, those doth the Son likewise," John v. 17, 19; it being very evident, that the works of creating and upholding and governing the world are ascribed to the Son, as a distinct Person from the Father.
13. It is one benefit or privilege of the Person of Christ, when spoken of as distinct from the Father, to have the Spirit of God under him, to be at his disposal, and to be his Messenger; which is infinitely too much for any creature: John xv. 26; xvi. 7, 13, 14; and Acts ii. 33.
14. Not only is the word Elohim in the plural number, but it is joined to a verb of the plural number, in Gen. xx. 13. When God caused me to wander from my Father's house. The word Hithgnu, caused to wander, is in the plural number. This is agreeable to the use of plural verbs, adjectives and pronouns, in Gen. i. 26; iii. 22; 'xi. 7. See other instances in Gen. xxxv. 7; Exodus xxxii. 4, compared with Neh. ix. 18; Isaiah xvi. 6.
The very frequent joining of the word Elohim, a word in the plural number, with the word Jehovah, a word in the singular number (as may be seen in places referred to in the English Concordance, under the words, Lord God, Lord his God, Lord my God, Lord our God, Lord their God, Lord thy God, Lord your God), seems to be a significant indication of the union of several divine persons in one essence. The word Jehovah signifies as much as the word Essence, and is the proper name of God with regard to his self-existent, eternal, all-sufficient, perfect, and immutable Essence. Moses seems to have regard to something remarkable in thus calling Elohim, the plural, so often by the singular name, Jehovah; especially in that remark, which he makes for the special observation of God's people Israel, in Deut. vi. 4, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." In the original, it is Jehovah Elohenu Jehovah Ehadh; the more proper translation of which is, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. The verb is, is understood, and properly inserted between Jehovah Elohenu and Jehovah Ehadh, thus Jehovah Elohenu is Jehovah Ehadh; which, if most literally translated, is thus, Jehovah Our divine Persons is one Jehovah: as though Moses, in this remark, had a particular reference to the word Elohim being in the plural number, and would guard the people against imagining from thence that there was a plurality of Essences or Beings, among whom they were to divide their affections and respect.
A farther confirmation that the name Elohim when used as the name of the True God, signifies some plurality, is, that this same name is commonly, all over the Hebrew Bible, used to signify the gods of the Heathens, when many gods are spoken of. See those places in the Hebrew Bible, which are referred to in the English Concordance, under the word Gods.
In Exodus xx. 2, 3, when it is said in the third verse, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," the word is the same as in the foregoing verse, where it is said, "I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt." It is Elohim in both verses: I am the Jehovah, thy Elohim: thou
shalt have no other Elohim. Yet the latter Elohim is joined with an adjective of the plural number; which seems naturally to lead the children of Israel, to whom God spake these words, to suppose a plurality in the Elohim which brought them out of Egypt, implied in the name Jehovah. Psalm lviii. 11, "Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth; Elohim Shophetim: which literally is, Elohim, judges (in the plural number). See the evident distinction made between Jehovah sending, and Jehovah sent to the people, and dwelling in the midst of them, in Zech. ii. 8, 9, 10, 11, and iv. 8, 9, 11: "For thus saith the Lord of Hosts, After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you for he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye."
"For behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord of Hosts hath sent me."
"Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord."
"And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of Hosts hath sent me unto thee."
"Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of Hosts hath sent me unto you."
"Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick, and upon the left side thereof ?"
Joshua xxiv. 19," And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve Jehovah; for he is a Holy God, Elohim Kedhoshim." He is the Holy Gods. Not only is the word Elohim properly plural, the very same that is used, verse 15, the gods which your father's served, &c.—but the adjective Holy is plural. A plural substantive and adjective are used here concerning the True God, just in the same manner as in 1 Sam. iv. 8, "Who shall deliver us out of the hands of these mighty Gods." And in Dan. iv. 8, " In whom is the Spirit of the Holy Gods." So ver. 9, 18, and chap. v. 11. That the plural number should thus be used with the epithet Holy, agrees well with the doxology of the angels, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts," &c., Isaiah vi., and Rev. iv.
It is an argument, that the Jews of old understood that there were several persons in the Godhead, and particularly, that when the cherubim, in the 6th of Isaiah, cried "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Hosts," they had respect to three persons that the seventy interpreters, in several places, where the Holy One of Israel is spoken of, use the plural number; as in Isaiah xli. 16," Thou shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel:" in the LXX. it is, evqoard non ev 2015 apois Ισραηλ. Isaiah Ix. 14, "The Zion of the Holy One of Israel;" it is our artwor logan So Jer. li. 5, " Filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel:" «no των αγιων Ισραηλ.
MYSTERIES OF SCRIPTURE.
1. If we seek for any thing in the dark by so low a faculty of discerning as the sense of feeling, or by the sense of seeing with a dim light, sometimes we cannot find it; though it be there, it seems to us to be impossible that it should be there. But yet, when a clear light comes to shine into the place, and we discern by a better faculty, viz., of sight, or the same faculty in a clearer manner, the thing appears very plain to us. So, doubtless, many truths will hereafter appear plain, when we come to look on them by the bright light of heaven, that now are involved in mystery and darkness.
2. How are we ready to trust to the determinations of a man, that is universally reputed a man of great genius, of vast penetration and insight into things, if he be positive in any thing that appears to us very mysterious, and is quite contrary to what we thought ourselves clear and certain in before? How are we ready in such a case to suspect ourselves; especially if it be a matter wherein he has been very much versed; has had much more occasion to look into it than we; and has been under greater advantages to know the truth? How much more still, if one should be positive in it, as a thing that he had clearly and undoubtedly seen to be true, if he were still of ten times greater genius, and of a more penetrating insight into things, than any that ever have appeared? And, in matters of fact, if some person whom we had long known, that was a person of great judgment and discretion, justice, integrity and fidelity, and had always been universally so reputed by others, should declare to us, that he had seen and known that to be true which appeared to us very strange and mysterious, and concerning which we could not see how it was possible that it should be; how, in such a case, should we be ready almost to suspect our own faculties, and to give credit to such a testimony, in that which, if he had not positively asserted it, and persisted in it, we should have looked upon as perfectly incredible, and absurd to be supposed?
3. From that text, John iii. 12, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?" several things are manifest concerning mysteries in religion. (1.) That there are mysteries in religion, or that there are things contained in those doctrines that Christ came into the world to teach, which are not only so far above human comprehension, that men cannot easily apprehend all that is to be understood concerning them; but which are difficult to the understanding, in that sense, that they are difficult to be received by the judgment or belief: "How shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?" Difficult, upon the same account that the doctrine of the new birth was difficult to Nicodemus, because it was so strange, and seemingly impossible. (2.) We may from the words infer, that the more persons or beings are, in themselves, and in their own nature, above us; the more that the doctrines or truths concerning them are mysterious to us, above our comprehension, and difficult to our belief; the more do those things that are really true concerning them, contain seeming inconsistencies and impossibilities. For Christ, in the preceding verses, had been speaking of something that is true concerning man, being of the same nature, an inhabitant of the same world with ourselves; which, therefore, Christ calls an earthly thing. And this seemed
very mysterious and impossible, and to contain great seeming inconsistencies. He says, "How can a man be born when he is old ?" This seemed to be a contradiction. And after Christ had somewhat explained himself, still the doctrine seemed strange and impossible; v. 9, "How can these things be?" Nicodemus still looked upon it incredible; and, on that account, did not believe it at that time, as is implied in these words of Christ; "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not." But Christ here plainly signifies, that he had other truths to teach that were not about man, an earthly inhabitant, but about a person vastly above man, even about himself, who is from heaven, and in heaven, as in the next verse: "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven; even the Son of man which is in heaven." Which, therefore, it would be most reasonable to suppose, should be much more difficult to men's understanding and judgment, seeming to contain greater impossibilities and inconsistencies; as he then proceeds immediately to declare to him a heavenly thing, as he calls it, viz., that Christ, a heavenly and divine person, should die, ver. 14, 15. Such a mysterious doctrine, so strange, and seemingly inconsistent and impossible, that a divine person should die, is more strange than that men should be born again. Hence, when divines argue, from the mysterious nature of many things here below, with which we are daily conversant, that it would be very unreasonable to suppose but that there should be things concerning God which are much more mysterious; and that, therefore, it is unreasonable to object against the truth of the doctrines of the Trinity, Incarnation, &c., they argue justly, because they argue as Christ argued.
4. "The wiser heathens were sensible, that the things of the gods are so high above us, that no other is to be expected, than that what appertains to them should appear exceedingly mysterious and wonderful to us; and that it is therefore unreasonable to disbelieve what we are taught concerning them on that account. This is fully expressed by that great symbol of Pythagoras, viz., "Concerning the gods, disbelieve nothing wonderful, nor yet concerning divine things.' This, says Jamblicus, declareth the superlative excellency of God's instructing us, and puts us in mind, that we ought not to estimate the divine power by our own judgment. The Pythagoreans stretched this rule beyond the line of divine revelation, to the belief of every oriental tradition." Gale's Court of the Gentiles, p. 2, b. 2, c. 8, p. 190.
5. It is not necessary that persons should have clear ideas of the things that are the subject of a proposition, in order to their being rationally convinced of the truth of the proposition. There are many truths of which mathematicians are convinced by strict demonstration, concerning many kinds of quantities, as, surd quantities and fluxions; but concerning which they have no clear ideas.
6. Supposing that mankind in general were a species of far less capacity than they are; so much less, that, when men are come to full ripeness of judg ment and capacity, they arrived no higher than that degree to which children generally arrive at seven years of age; and supposing a revelation to be made to mankind, in such a state and degree of capacity, of many such propositions in philosophy as are now looked upon as undoubted truths; and let us suppose, at the same time, the same degree of pride and self-confidence as there is now; what cavilling and objecting, &c., would there be!
Or, supposing a revelation of these philosophical truths had been made to mankind, with their present degree of natural capacity, in some ancient generation; suppose that which was in Joshua's time; in that degree of accquired knowledge and learning which the world had arrived at then, how incredible would those truths have seemed!
7. If things, which fact and experience make certain, such as the miseries infants sometimes are the subjects of in this world, &c., had been exhibited only in a revelation of things in an unseen state, they would be as much disputed as the Trinity and other mysteries revealed in the Bible.
8. There is nothing impossible or absurd in the doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ. If God can join a body and a rational soul together, which are of natures so heterogeneous and opposite, that they cannot, of themselves, act one upon another; may he not be able to join two spirits together, which are of natures more similar? And, if so, he may, for aught we know to the contrary, join the soul or spirit of a man to himself. Had reason been so clear in it, that a God cannot be incarnate, as many pretend, it could never have suffered such a notion to gain ground, and possess the minds of so many nations: nay, and of Julian himself, who says that " Jupiter begat Esculapius out of his own proper substance, and sent him down to Epidaurus, to heal the distempers of mankind." Reason did not hinder Spinosa, Blount, and many other modern philosophers from asserting, that God may have a body; or rather that the universe, or the matter of the universe, is God. Many nations believed the incarnation of Jupiter himself. Reason, instead of being utterly averse to the notion of a divine incarnation, hath easily enough admitted that notion, and suffered it to pass almost without contradiction, among the most philosophical nations of the world.
9. "In thinking of God's raising so many myriads of spirits, and such prodigious masses of matter out of nothing, we are lost and astonished, as much as in the contemplation of the Trinity. We can follow God but one or two steps in his lowest and plainest works, till all becomes mystery and matter of amazement to us. How, then, shall we comprehend Himself? How, shall we understand His nature, or account for His actions? In that he contains what is infinitely more inconceivable than all the wonders of his creation put together." Deism Revealed, Edit. 2, Vol. II. p. 93, 94.
Those that deny the Trinity, because of the mysteriousness of it, and its seeming inconsistence, yet, generally own God's certain prescience of men's free actions, which they suppose to be free in such a sense, as not to be necessary. So that we may do, or may not do, that which God certainly foresees. "They also hold, that such a freedom without necessity, is necessary to morality; and that virtue and goodness consist in any one's doing good when he might do evil. And yet they suppose that God acts according to the eternal law of nature and reason, and that it is impossible that he should transgress that law, and do evil; because that would be a contradiction to his own nature, which is infinitely and unchangeably virtuous. Now this seems a flat contradiction. To say, that the infinite goodness of God's nature makes it utterly impossible for God to do evil, is exactly the same as to say, he is under a natural necessity not to do evil. And to say he is morally free, is to say, he may do evil. Therefore the necessity and freedom in this case being both moral, the contradiction is flat and plain; and amounts to this, that God, in respect to good and evil actions, is both a necessary and free agent. Dr. Clark, in his treatise on the Attributes, labors to get clear of this contradiction upon these principles of liberty, but without success; and leaves it just where all men who hold the same principles, must be forced to leave it. "Therefore, they hold such mysteries in respect to Deity, that are even harder to be conceived of, or properly expressed and explained, than the doctrine of the Trinity.
"When we talk of God, who is infinite and incomprehensible, it is natural