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free, they might have contrary determinations concerning the same thing, than which nothing can be more prejudicial unto government. God is a God of order, not confusion; and therefore of unity, not admitting multiplication. If it be better that the universe should be governed by one than many, we may be assured that it is so, because nothing must be conceived of God but what is best. He therefore who made all things, by that right is Lord of all, and because all power is his, he alone ruleth over all.
Now God is not only one, but hath a unity peculiar to himself, by which he is the only God; and that not only by way of actuality, but also of possibility. Every individual man is one, but so that there is a second and a third, and consequently every one is part of a number, and concurring to a multitude. The sun indeed is one; so that there is neither third nor second sun, at least within the same vortex; but though there be not, yet there might have been. Neither in the unity of the solar nature is there any repugnancy to plurality; for that God who made this world, and in this the sun to rule the day, might have made another world by the same fecundity of his omnipotency, and another sun to rule in that. Whereas in the divine nature there is an intrinsical and essential singularity, because no other being can have any existence but from that; and whatsoever essence hath its existence from another is not God. “I am the Lord,” saith he, " and there is none else, there is no God besides me. “That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. “I am the Lord, and there is none else.” Isa. xlv. 5, 6. Deut. iv. 35. Psal. xvii. 31. He who hath infinite knowledge, knoweth no other God beside himself; “Is there a God besides me? yea, there is no God; I know not any," Isai. xlv. 18. And we who believe in him, and desire to enjoy him, need for that end to know no other God but him; “ This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God," John xvii. 3; as certainly One, as God.
It is necessary thus to believe the unity of the Godhead, that being assured there is a nature worthy of our devotions and challenging our religious subjection, we may Div.
learn to know whose that nature is to which we owe our adorations, lest our minds should wander and fluctuate in our worship about various and uncertain objects. If we should apprehend more gods than one, I know not what could determine us in any instant to the actual adoration of any one: for where no difference doth appear, (as, if there were many and all by nature gods, there could be none,) what inclination could we have, what reason could we imagine, to prefer or elect any one before the rest for the object of our devotions ? Thus is it necessary to believe the unity of God in respect of us who are obliged to worship him.
Secondly; it is necessary to believe the unity of God in respect of him who is to be worshipped. Without this acknowledgment we cannot give unto God the things which are God's, it being part of the worship and honor due unto God, to accept of no co-partner with him. When the law was given, in the observance whereof the religion of the Israelites consisted, the first precept was this prohibition, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me, Exod. xx. 3; and whosoever violateth this, denieth the foundation on which all the rest depend, as the Jews observe. This is the true reason of that strict precept by which all are commanded to give divine worship to God only, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve;" because he alone is God: him only shalt thou fear, because he alone hath infinite power; in him only shalt thou trust, because “he only is our rock and our salvation;" to him alone shalt thou direct thy devotions, because “he only knoweth the hearts of the children of men.” Upon this foundation the whole heart of man is entirely required of him, and engaged to him.
Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one God: and," or rather, therefore “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might,” Deut. vi. 4. Whosoever were truly and by nature God, could not choose but challenge our love upon the ground of an infinite excellency, and transcendent beauty of holiness; and therefore if there were more gods than one, our love must necessarily be terminated unto more than one, and consequently divided between them; and as our
love, so also the proper effect thereof, our cheerful and ready obedience, which, like the child propounded to the judgment of Solomon, as soon as it is divided, is destroyed; “No man can serve two masters : for either he will hate the one, and love the other : or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other,” Matth. vi. 24.
Having thus described the first notion of a God, having demonstrated the existence and unity of that God, and having in these three particulars comprised all which can be contained in this part of the article, we may now clearly deliver, and every particular Christian understand, what it is he says when he makes his confession in these words, I believe in God; which in correspondence with the precedent discourse may be thus expressed.--Forasmuch as by all things created is made known the eternal power and Godhead, and the dependency of all limited beings infers an infinite and independent essence; whereas all things are for some end, and all their operations directed to it, although they cannot apprehend that end for which they are, and in prosecution of which they work, and therefore must be guided by some universal and over-ruling wisdom; seeing this collection is so evident, that all the nations of the earth have made it; seeing God hath not only written himself in the lively characters of his creatures, but hath also made frequent patefactions of his Deity by most infallible predictions and supernatural operations ; therefore I fully assent unto, freely acknowledge, and clearly profess this truth, that there is a God.
Again ; seeing a prime and independent Being supposeth all other to depend, and consequently no other to be God; seeing the entire fountain of all perfections is incapable of a double head, and the most perfect government of the universe speaks the supreme dominion of one absolute Lord; hence do I acknowledge that God to be but one, and in this unity or rather singularity of the Godhead, excluding all actual or possible multiplication of a Deity, I believe in God.
I believe in God the Father. AFTER the confession of a Deity, and assertion of the divine unity, the next consideration is concerning God's Paternity; for this “one God is Father of all," and “to us there is but one God, the Father.”
Now although the Christian notion of the divine paternity be some way peculiar to the evangelical patefaction, yet wheresoever God hath been acknowledged, he hath been understood and worshipped as a father : the very heathen poets so describe their gods, and their vulgar names did carry Father in them, as the most popular and universal notion.
This name of Father is a relative; and the proper foundation of paternity, as of a relation, is generation. As therefore the phrase of generation is diversely attributed unto several acts of the same nature with generation properly taken, or by consequence attending on it; so the title of Father is given unto divers persons or things, and for several reasons under the same God. “ These are the generations of the heavens and the earth, when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,” saith Moses, Gen. ïi. 4. So that the creation or production of any thing by which it is and before was not, is a kind of generation and consequently the creator or producer of it a kind of father.
Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?” Job xxxviii. 28—by which words Job signifies, that as there is no other cause assignable of the rain but God, so may he as the cause be called the Father of it, though not in the most proper sense, as he is the Father of his Son: and so the philosophers of old, who thought that God did make the world, called him expressly, as the Maker, so the Father of it. And “thus to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things ;" to which the words following in the Creed may seem to have relation, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. But in this mass of creatures and body of the universe, some works of the creation more properly call him Father, as being more rightly sons : such are all the rational and intellectual offspring of the Deity. Of merely natural beings and irrational agents he is the Cre ator; of rational, as so, the Father also; they are his creatures, these his sons. Hence he is styled the “ Father of spirits,” and the blessed angels, when he laid the foundations of the earth, his sons; “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy,” Job xxxviii. 7. Hence man, whom he created after his own image, is called his offspring, and Adam, the immediate work of his hands, the son of God: hence may we all cry out with the Israelites taught by the prophet so to speak, “ Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us?” Malac. ii. 10. Thus the first and most universal notion of God's paternity in a borrowed or metaphorical sense, is founded rather upon creation than procreation.
Unto this act of creation is annexed that of conservation, by which God doth uphold and preserve in being that which at first he made, and to which he gave its being. As therefore it is the duty of the parent to educate and preserve the child, as that which had its being from him; so this paternal education doth give the name of father unto man, and conservation gives the same to God.
Again; redemption from a state of misery, by which a people hath become worse than nothing, unto a happy condition, is a kind of generation, which joined with love, care, and indulgence in the Redeemer, is sufficient to found a new paternity, and give him another title of a Father. Well might Moses tell the people of Israel, now brought out of the land of Egypt from their brick and straw, unto their quails and manna, unto their milk and honey, “Is not he thy Father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee ?" Deut. xxxii. 6. Well might God speak unto the same people as to son, even his first-born.” “ Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb." “ Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are born by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb," Exod. iv. 2. Isai. xliv. 24. xlvi. 3. And just is the acknowledgment made by that people instructed by the prophet, "Doubtless thou art