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some, particular providence will at least produce that effect in many: for I dare appeal to most men (to those especially, who have ever had any fear of God, or sense of goodness in them,) if, sometime or other, in their lives, they have not in their pressing needs and straits (especially on their addresses to God for help) found help and comfort conveyed unto them by an insensible hand; if they have not sometimes in a manner unaccountable escaped imminent dangers; if they have not in the performance of their duty and devotion toward God experienced a comfort more than ordinary; if they cannot to some events of their life aptly apply those observations of the psalmist: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him out of his troubles. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the Lord is good.” “O taste and see;’ he appeals to experience; he supposes the Divine goodness may be seen and felt; that surely will be a most efficacious argument of God's existence and providence. And so it is indeed to all good men, for whose comfort and confirmation it is chiefly mentioned, though it is not likely to have much influence on them, who have alienated themselves from God, and driven him “out of their thoughts;’ except they should (beyond what can be expected from them) be so civil and candid, as to believe the testimony of others, who assert this great truth unto them from their own inward conscience and experience. But let thus much serve, at present, for the showing that God doth, as our Lord tells us, hitherto work; and consequently that, as we thence meant to infer, God doth exist.
SUMMARY OF SERMON X.
EPHESIANs, chAP. Iv.—VERSE 6.
It has already been proved that there is one God. The following parts of our creed are now proceeded in. The Father. This term is sometimes put absolutely or singly, referring to the first person of the blessed Trinity; but commonly it is to be understood of God essentially considered, to whom in that respect all the divine attributes agree, &c. The accounts on which God is so called first considered : next the terms or objects in relation to which he is so called: then the consideration is applied to practice. One God and Father of all. Every attribute, title, or relation of God, grounds an obligation, and affords an inducement to good practice and obedience; but none more than that of Father ; which title is on several accounts commonly given to things: one of these is causality ; another is sustenance or preservation; another governance, with beneficent affection and care : these briefly illustrated. On all these it is plain that the title of Universal Father may truly be ascribed unto God. 1. God is the Father of all things, or of us as creatures; being the efficient cause and creator of them all : he made the world, says St. Paul, and all things therein; &c. The title, Pater Omnipotens, was given to the Supreme Being by the Pagans. 2. More especially God is the Father of intellectual beings: he is styled the Father of Spirits; and the angels, by way
of excellency, are called the sons of God : this topic dilated Oil.
3. God is, in a more especial manner, the Father of mankind: have we not, saith the prophet, one Father f hath not one God created us? Thus Adam is called the son of God, the genealogy of all men terminating in him: this subject enlarged on. * 4. Yet farther, God is more especially the Father of all good men; such a relation being built on higher grounds and respects; for as good they have another origin from him; virtue springeth up from an heavenly seed; &c. 5. Moreover we may observe that God, when he particularly designs to contain men within bounds of duty, and thereby lead them to happiness, delights to represent himself under this endearing relation : this shown in the case of his ancient people. 6. But in the Christian dispensation, God more signally represents himself in this quality: all his performances towards us, and in our behalf, are of such a nature, and are set forth in such terms, as import this relation : for, 1. The reception of a believer into the privileges of Christianity is termed viobedia, the making him a son ; &c. 2. That renovation of our nature which the gospel requires, is called regeneration, a new birth, &c. 3. The resurrection of good Christians after death to a state of glory, is worthily styled traMyyeveaia, a being generated and born again. 4. It might be added, that Christians do become the sons of God by the intervention of our Saviour, assuming our nature, whereby he becomes the first-born of many brethren ; &c. In so many respects is God our Father, and we are his children. The consideration of which has manifold good uses. I. It in general may teach, and should remind us, what reverence and observance is due from us to God in equity, justice, and gratitude. If I be a father, where is my honor? Mal. i. 6. 2. It may instruct and admonish us how we should behave . ourselves; for if we be God's children, it becometh us, in our disposition and demeanor, to resemble and imitate him ; &c. 3. It may raise us to a just regard, esteem, and valuation of ourselves, inspire noble inclinations, and withdraw us from all base and unworthy practices. 4. It is an especial motive to humility; for if we are God's children, so as to have received our being and all things from him, what reason can we have to ascribe or assume any thing to ourselves 7 5. This consideration shows us the reason we have to submit intirely to the providence of God, as being his possessions; &c. 6. It also obliges us to be patient and cheerful in the sorest afflictions, as coming from a paternal hand, and designed for our good. 7. It shows the reason we have to obey those precepts which enjoin us to rely on God’s providence; to cast all our burden and care on him ; as children do commonly live, without care, on the maintenance of able and kind parents, &c. 8. It doth more generally in all regards serve to breed and cherish our faith, to raise our hopes, to quicken our devotion: for in whom shall we confide, if not in such a father ? from whom expect good, if not from him who has already given us so much 7 9. Lastly, it will direct and prompt us how to behave ourselves towards God's creatures; who, if he be their father, are all of them in some sort our brethren : this topic enlarged on. Conclusion.
I HAVE formerly discoursed concerning the nature of that belief which we here profess: I did also endeavor by several arguments to evince the truth and credibility of the first article of our Creed, which is indeed the foundation of all the rest, and of all religion, ‘That there is one God.' I proceed to the following parts.
• The Father.” The appellation of God not improperly taken, (as when it is attributed to creatures, on some resemblance in nature or office which they bear to the supreme God,) but relating to him who only, truly, and properly is styled God, is sometimes put absolutely, sometime hath a relative apposition going along with it. Being absolutely or singly put, it sometimes refers, by way of eminency, particularly to the first Person in the blessed and glorious Trinity; as when Christ is called the Son of God; when God is put in distinction from the other persons, (when, for instance, it is said, ‘That they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” “Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ ‘The Word was with God.’ ‘To serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven.’ And in