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to eternity in the doctrine of Jefus Chrift and him crucified, we may be employed in a ftudy worthy either of christian scholars or of angelic mafters.
That fo many men of talent and influence fhould be seriously employed in preaching things which, they confefs, are in their nature inconceiveable, is truly lamentable. No wonder a trinity, to many, fhould appear obfcure and inexplicable, when it is fuppofed to exist in something unlettered, a perfect enigma, wrapped up in a blank leaf, antecedent to page first of the book of God's kingdom, taken and opened by the lion of the tribe of Judah, and to the alpha of the doctrine of Chrift; a matter beyond the voluntary union of Father, Son and Holy Ghoft; a certain fomething beyond that almighty act of fetting up the Lord Chrift, which, itself, engroffes eternity. This must be obfcure indeed!
PROOFS IN SUPPORT OF THE DEFINITION.
From the fubject under confideration, the old chriftian article of eternal generation; though of late it has been much exploded, and by fome called eternal nonfenfe, is yet maintained, and appears agreeable to found doctrine, and is indifpenfably an article of the chriftian faith. And it appears from our definition, that fuch a thing is in no wise obscure and inexplicable, but, on the contrary, that
it is held forth clearly in the most manifest and undeniable facts, relative to the knowledge of God the Father, and of our Lord Jefus Chrift-To discover this truth, it is only neceflary to attend carefully to the im port of the terms Father and Son.
The word Father, as applied to God, and fo abstracted in fenfe from every thing of a bodily nature, refpects merely what belongs to the will, and imports two things,
1. That command and government which is neceffary to form the obedient filial character.
2. That favor and bleffing, which is the proper reward of filial obedience,
The word Son just answers in sense to that of Father, and imports, fimply, a mind or will, as the fubject of fuch authority, yielding this cheerful obedience; and, as the object of fuch pleasure, enjoying this bleffed reward.
These terms, like many others, are used commonly, and, doubtlefs, fometimes in the fcriptures, in a variety of senses; but the fenfe here given, relative to the will, is ever to be confidered their higheft and most commanding fenfe, both in the fcriptures and in common converfation.-As when a man neglects his offspring, and appears to be deflitute of a parental difpofition; takes no heed either to govern, educate, or make provision to fet them up in the world; we fay, he is not a father, but a brute.-Alfo, when we fee a child obffinately rebellious and prodigal, refifting parental authority, or rudely wafling his patrimony; we fay, he is not a fon, but a
monfter. On the other hand, a man who takes a child under his government and difcipline, and makes him his heir, though he be not his by blood, will be called the father of that child; and the child fhewing obedience in fuch a relation, and receiving in a proper manner his inheritance, will be called his fon. And thus, in the fcriptures, Solomon faith, He that delicately bringeth up his fervant from a child, fhall have him become his fon at length; and hence, the father in the parable of the prodigal, faith, This my fon was dead, and is alive again. And though God is the author of our bodies as really as of our minds, yet the Apostle to the Hebrews, fpeaking of God as our Father, and of our higheft obligations to him, on account of this high and commanding fenfe of the word, he ufes it diftinctly in relation to the will, as Mofes before had used the term God, Numb, xvi. 22. and, as it were, confines it to this feufe, whilst he exhorts us to be in fubjection unto the Father of Spirits.-This, by way of diftinction, I fhall term the voluntary fenfe.
That relations, such as are above stated, do fubfift between God the Father and our Lord Jefus Chrift, no one will difpute; but these relations refult from the nature of our principle, which we have proved to be eternal.A covenant tranfaction always implies a duty impofed, and a compenfation proffered.-The gift of eternal life, made to us in Chrift Jefus, as our furety or truflee, impofed upon him an obligation no less than that of laying down his life for us; whilft, ut the fame time,
it fet before him a reward no less than the inheritance of God, which is his people.The act of inauguration alfo, whilft it gave the anointed one the most folemn charge, and laid him under the deepest obligations; at ence it beftowed upon him the highest reward, by fetting him up, and conftituting him the head of the church as his body.-In this fame act the commander and rewarder was made a father, and him who was commanded and rewarded was made a fon. And as this deed, which gives being to the relation of father and fon, and is therefore an act of generation in the fenfe the word is now used, exifted before the world was; the truth of an eternal generation is establifhed upon the ftrongest grounds, being found in the nature of the divine principle.
And what is there obfcure or peculiarly inexplicable in this doctrine? which matter is all comprised in four fimple ideas relative to the will; and which are acknowledged, on all hands, to exist in the bleffed will of the Father, and of his Son Jefus Christ, viz. parental command and parental favor; acquiefcence in fuch authority, and enjoyment of fuch blessing.--What can be named more within the fphere of human knowledge than this? If poffible, it is lefs obfcure than the exiftence of light and heat in the fun.
That the Lord Jefus Chrift laid down his life in a way of obedience to the divine will, we have his exprefs declaration. John x. 18. This commandment have I received of my Father. This will of the Father, as it refpect
ed the unworthy and juftly condemned creature, is called grace, as in Heb. ii. 9. That he, by the grace of God, fhould tafle death
every man. But this grace was given us in Chrift Jefus before the world was. Which implies his yielding confent and filial duty to the command; and, in effect, his being at lamb flain from the foundation of the world. So evident it is, that this character of paternity, and this of fonship, which is the fruit of it, have exifted together, in and with God, from everlasting.- -And as to the other branch of the divine will, its exiflence, and that alfo from eternity, is as plainly expressed by Wisdom, Pro. viii. "I was fet up from everlafting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth when there were no foun tains abounding with water. Before the mountains were fettled; before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the duft of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he fet a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the foundations of the deep: When he gave to the fea his decree, that the waters fhould not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth, Then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him."-To which we may also add, the declarations of our Lord, that he had glory with the Father before the world was: and that the Father