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Q. 14. Is the doctrine of the Trinity, in some respects, to be viewed as inexplicable and incomprehensible?
A. It is to be regarded as profoundly mysterious and above reason; but not contrary to reason, or absurd, nor more mysterious or above reason, than the very being, nature, and perfections of God. These are all inexplicable, and incomprehensible, by finite minds. It is not to be expected, that the mode of the Divine existence should be level to the comprehension of finite capacities.(*)
Q. 15. Wherein does the mystery in reference to the Trinity exist?
A. It does not exist in the fact, that there are three divine Persons in the Godhead, for this is plainly revealed; but in the manner in which the three divine Persons subsist in the divine essence, or in the Godhead.
Q. 16. Is the mysteriousness of the triune existence of God a reason for rejecting the doctrine?
A. It is not. If we may not believe any thing respecting God, which we cannot comprehend, we may not believe His existence, or His perfections, or His works, or His ways; for they are all incomprehensible by us. It becomes us, short-sighted, fallible creatures, immersed in the darkness of the fall, to bow to the instructions of Heaven. If we do not, we must abide the doom of unbelievers.
Q. 17. Are those persons idolaters, who worship Christ, if He is not God?
A. They certainly are as much so, as the Papists, in worshipping the Virgin Mary and canonized saints, or the Heathen, in worshipping departed heroes, or
(h) 1 Tim.3. 16. And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the Hesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.. Job 11. 17. Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
graven images. No being but God is, or can be, a proper object of religious worship.(0)
Q. 18. Are the three persons in the Godhead, distinctly, proper objects of religious worship?
A. They are. This arises from the fact, that each person is truly Divine, and that distinct worship is represented as paid to Them in the Scriptures. God should be worshipped, according to His personal distinction, for in this mode of existence much of His essential and peculiar glory consists, as in this way He differs from all other beings, and claims a superiority to them;—for to each person we indebted for the part They take in the accomplishment of the great work of redemption.
Q. 19. Is the doctrine of the Trinity of great importance.
A. It is; for it relates to, and has a vastly important bearing upon, the whole scheme of salvation. The Gospel is wholly built upon it. It is, therefore, the fundamental, and the most essential, article of the Christian religion.
(i) Ex. 20.3–5. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.
Purposes of God.
Q. 1. What is meant by the purposes of God?
A. By His purposes is meant His eternal and immutable pleasure, will, or choice, concerning all creatures, things, and events, or whatever comes to pass in time or in eternity.
Q. 2. Do God's purposes respect generals and particulars, means and ends, in the great system of the universe, as one stupendous whole!
A. God does not purpose by parts. He does not purpose effects without causes, ends without means, and volitions without motives. But his purposes extend to all creatures, things, and events, in the natural and moral worlds, and embrace them as one great, complete, and harmonious whole.
Q. 3. What is meant by the purposes of God in relation to what is usually called Election?
A. It means, simply, His pleasure, will, or choice, in reference to the eternal salvation of a part of mankind, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; and the eternal perdition of the remaining part, by reason of their continuing in their own chosen ways of sin, and their voluntary rejection of the salvation, freely, and sincerely, offered to them in the Gospel. Those who are saved, are saved through holiness and faith; and those who are lost, are lost through sin and unbelief. None are saved, simply, because they were elected; but
in consequence of their embracing the Saviour and conforming to the requisitions of the Gospel. None perish, simply, because they were not elected; but in consequence of their voluntarily persisting in sin and rejecting the Saviour. The wicked are punished on account of their sins, which render them deserving of punishment. The non-elect as well as the elect, have all possible natural powers to choose or refuse the equally free and sincere offers of salvation.
Q. 4. Are the purposes of God in reference to man's salvation conditional, or unconditional and absolute?
A. They are conditional; not however as grounded on God's foreknowledge of the good works of those, who are saved; (this is by no means the case, and is a great errour;) but as grounded on the interposition and atonement of Christ, and the repentance, faith, and obedience of the subjects of salvation. It should be remembered, that the conditions performed on the part of man, are to be viewed in no degree in the sense of merit, and, therefore, detract not at all from the riches of Divine grace in man's salvation. It is ever to be remembered, that God's purposes are not founded upon the actions and conduct of men; but lay a foundation for them.
Q. 5. How does it appear, that God has a purpose in reference to the existence of all creatures, things, and events, and especially the future condition of man?
A. From the fact, that God is the Creator, Preserver, Governour, and Disposer of all creatures and things, and must have had a purpose in reference to His own conduct;- from the fact, that He must have had some ultimate end in all His works, which supposes design, and consequently an arrangement of all theparts included in the whole;—from the fact of His foreknowledge, for He cannot foreknow what is not certain, and nothing can be certain which is not agreeable to, and consequent upon, His pleasure, will, or choice, all things considered; and also from the Sacred Scriptures.(a)
(a) Acts 15. 18. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Isa. 14. 24, 26, 27. The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, su shall it stand. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? Isa. 46. 10. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. Prov. 19. 21. There are many devices in a man's heart, nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. Job 14.5. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee; thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass. Acts 17. 26. And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. Ps. 33. 11. The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Acts 2. 23. Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. · Acts 13.48. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Eph. 1. 4, 5, 9, 11. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame, before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.-Ilaving made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the
puro pose of him
who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. Eph. 2 10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them. Eph. 3. 11. According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8. 28, 30. And we know, that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the first born, among many brechren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified, and