ference between good persons and bad; as he is just and holy, he cannot take pleasure in those who are otherwise; and, as he is the Governor of the world, he cannot fail to show his displeasure in that effectual manner, which the ends of government require; and they certainly do require the bad to be punished, as well as the good to be made happy.

Such, then, is the nature of God: to whom in the Creed the name of the Father is given, as he is both the Father of the Creation by forming it, and also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, through him, our gracious and reconciled Father, as shall hereafter be explained. The next word, Almighty, denotes not barely his irresistible power, but principally that rightful and absolute authority, with which "his kingdom "ruleth over all."6 And the last words of the description, "Maker of Heaven and Earth," are added; partly to express the ground of that authority, his being the Creator, and therefore the Proprietor, of the world; and partly in opposition to the errors of the Heathen, who worshipped many beings in the heavens and the earth, as gods; which, in these terms of our Creed, are, by evident consequences, declared to be no gods, because they are the work of his hands, "of whom, "and through whom, and to whom, are alk "things."7

The duties, owing to this our awful Sovereign,. will be specified in expounding the Ten Commandments, particularly the First. At present, therefore, I shall only beg you to remember the Apostle's exhortation-" Take heed, brethren, lest "there be in any of you an evil heart of unbe"lief, in departing from the living God." Nothing but an evil heart can make unbelief desir


(6) Psal. ciii. 19.

(7) Rom. xi. 36.

(8) Heb. iii. 12.

able, or even supportable. For, to every good heart it must be the greatest joy to know, that the world is governed by infinite wisdom, justice, and goodness; and the greatest affliction to have any doubt of it. If, therefore, you find the thought of such a Governor unwelcome-if you could inwardly wish there were none-be assured your heart is not right." And though you could, with such a disposition, bring yourself almost, or completely, to imagine there is none, what possible security can shutting your eyes give you against danger; or what excuse can wilfully denying God make for disobeying him?


But, then, observe further, that supposing you do not disbelieve a God at all, yet, if you never think of him, that is not, to any good purpose, believing in him at all; and if you think of him but seldom, it is believing in him but little. He on whom we depend continually-to whom we owe duty continually-in whose presence we continually are, ought never to be far from our thoughts, but we should set him before our eyes so constantly, as to live in his fear always. Doing this need not keep us from common business-it need not keep us from innocent pleasures. But it should influence us effectually (and happy are we if it doth) to conduct ourselves in every thing, as persons who act under the inspection of a wise and just superior; whom we may, indeed, forget, if we will, but shall be remembered by him, from whom we may depart, but cannot escape. In our choice it is, whether we will be the better or the worse for him. But one we must, and that beyond expression. "For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing; whether it be good, or whether it be evil."1



(9) Acts viii. 24,


(1) Eccl. xii. 14,



Article II. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

TO "believe in God, the Father Almighty, "Maker of Heaven and Earth," is the universal Creed of nature and reason. But divine revelation adds further professions to it; of which the first is, that of faith in our blessed Redeemer; whose direction was, "Ye believe in God, believe "also in me." Therefore, that we may believe in him as we ought, he is described in the Creed by his name and offices-his relation to God and

to us.

1. His name, Jesus; by which, indeed, many of the Jews were called; but it was given him in obedience to an appointment from heaven, made with a peculiar regard to its proper meaning: for it signifies a Saviour; which is a title conferred, in a lower sense, on several persons in Scripture, who delivered others from considerable dangers or evils, or obtained for them considerable benefits and advantages. Thus, the judges of the Israelites that freed them from the oppression of their enemies, are said to be saviours whom God raised up2 to them and Joshua, who brought them out of the Wilderness, into the Land of Canaan, subdued it, and put them in possession of it, not only was in these respects a saviour to them, but, from a foresight that he would, was called so, as his


(1) John xiv. 1.

(2) Judges iii. 9, 15.

Nehem. ix. 27.

proper name. For Joshua and Jesus are, in the original, the same word; only pronounced a little differently. And hence Joshua is constantly called Jesus in the Greek language; and even in our translation of the New Testament, the two only times that he is mentioned there.3 But if he deserved to be named a saviour, how much more did that person, who hath taught and enabled us to overcome our spiritual, which are infinitely our worse enemies-who hath obtained for us, on most equitable terms, deliverance from the punishment due to our guilt-who hath destroyed, on our behalf, death, and "him that hath the power of "death ;" and will bestow on us eternal salvation, in the kingdom of heaven? With perfect justice, therefore, was the order given to his virgin mother, "Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall "save his people from their sins "5 Only let us remember, that none will be saved from them hereafter, that continue to live in them here: for, is the holy “Jesus the minister of Sin? God "forbid."6

2. His offices are expressed by the word Christ. This, and the Hebrew word Messiah, to which it answers, in their literal meaning signify Anointed. Oil was anciently in very high esteem among the Eastern nations on various accounts; and, as they were wont to express almost every matter of importance by actions, as well as words; one way of setting any thing apart, and appropriating it to an honourable use, was, by anointing it with oil. Therefore, we find Jotham, in his parable, makes the olive tree speak of its fatness, as that "wherewith they honour God and man."7 Accordingly, the tabernacle, and temple, and their furniture, were consecrated, by anointing them.

(3) Acts vii. 45. Heb. iv. 8.
(5) Matt. i. 21.

(7) Judges ix. 9,

(4) Heb. ii. 14.
(6) Gal. ii. 17,

And almost every sacrifice had oil, mixed with
flour, added to it, when it was offered up. Nor
was it used only to such things, but such persons,
as were distinguished in honour above others; to
kings-who are thence frequently styled in Scrip-
ture "the Lord's anointed;" to priests-con-
cerning whom God commands, in the case of
Aaron and his
sons, "Thou shalt anoint them,
"that they may minister to me in the priest's
"office:"8 and lastly, to prophets; as where Elijah
is directed to "anoint Elisha prophet in his


And when once, by custom, anointing came to signify raising any one to a station or dignity, the same word was used, even on occasions where no oil was actually employed. Thus, when Elijah was bid "to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, "and Elisha for prophet in his own room;" we find not that he ever did it literally. Again, when God is introduced, as saying of the Jewish Patriarchs, before Moses, Touch not mine "anointed, and do my prophets no harm:"3 we have no ground to think that they were ever entitled to this name by any solemn outward unction performed upon them; but only by the distinguished favour and regard of heaven. And in this sense it was that "God anointed our Saviour "with the oil of gladness above his fellows:"4 that is, exalted him to a rank of dignity and honour beyond all creatures. For in his person were united those three offices, in the highest degree, to which you have seen persons were anciently set apart by anointing.

He is the greatest prophet that ever was: hav

(8) Exod. xl. 15.

(9) 1 Kings xix. 16.

(1) The Jews say that 'WD unction, signifies principality

.Reland, Ant, Hebr. Par ענוין קענות ובדולח ; and greatness

c. 8. § 6. and see this further
(2) See 1 Kings xix. 15, 16. comp. v. 19. and 2 Kings viii. 13.

proved, ib. c. 9. § 6.

(3) Psalm cv. 15.

(4) Psalm xlv. 7.

« VorigeDoorgaan »