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beings is but one in essence, yet three in subsistence; but one nature, yet three persons; and that those three persons in that one nature, though absolutely distinct from one another, are yet but the same God. And I believe, these three persons in this one nature are indeed to one another, as they are expressed to be to us; that the one is really a Father to the other, that the other is really a Son to him, and the third the product of both; and yet, that there is neither first, second, nor third, amongst them, either in time or nature. So that he that begat was not at all before him that was begotten, nor he that proceeded from them both any whit after either of them. And therefore, that God is › not termed Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as if the divine nature of the one should beget the divine nature of the second; or the divine nature of the first and second should issue forth the divine nature of the third; (for then there would be three divine natures, and so three Gods essentially distinct from one another; by this means also, only the Father would be truly God, because he only would be essentially of and from himself, and the other two from him:) but what I think myself obliged to believe is, that it was not the divine nature, but the divine person of the Father, which did, from eternity, beget the divine person of the Son; and from the divine persons of the Father and of the Son, did, from eternity, proceed the divine person of the Holy Ghost; and so one not being before the other in time or nature, as they are from eternity three perfectlydistinct persons, so they are but one coessential God. But dive not, O my soul, too deep into this bottomless ocean, this abyss of mysteries! It is the Holy of Holies, presume not to enter into it; but let this suffice thee, that he who best knows himself hath avouched it of himself, and therefore thou oughtest to believe it. See Matt. xxviii. 19. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And again, 1 John
ver. 7. There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.
I believe that I was conceived in sin, and brought forth in iniquity; and that ever since, I have been continually conceiving mischief, and bringing forth vanity.
THIS article of my faith I must of necessity believe, whether I will or no; for if I could not believe it to be true, I should therefore have the more cause to believe it to be so; because, unless my heart was naturally very sinful and corrupt, it would be impossible for me not to believe that which I have so much cause continually to bewail; or, if I do not bewail it, I have still the more cause to believe it; and therefore am so much the more persuaded of it, by how much the less I find myself affected with it. For certainly I must be a hard-hearted wretch indeed, steeped in sin, and fraught with corruption to the highest, if I know myself so oft to have incensed the wrath of the most high God against me, as I do, and yet not be sensible of my natural corruption, nor acknowledge myself to be by nature a child of wrath, as well as others. For I verily believe, that the want of such a due sense of myself argues as much original corruption, as murder and whoredom do actual pollution. And I shall ever suspect those to be the most under the power of that corruption, that labour most by arguments to divest it of its power.
And therefore, for my own part, I am resolved, by the grace of God, never to go about to confute that by wilful arguments, which I find so true by woful experience. If there be not a bitter root in my heart, whence proceeds so much bitter fruit in my life and conversation? Alas I can neither set my head nor heart about any
thing, but I still shew myself to be the sinful offspring of sinful parents, by being the sinful parent of a sinful offspring nay, I do not only betray the inbred venom of my heart, by poisoning my common actions, but even my most religious performances also, with sin. I cannot pray, but I sin; I cannot hear, or preach, a sermon, but I sin; I cannot give an alms, or receive the sacrament, but I sin; nay, I cannot so much as confess my sins, but my very confessions are still aggravations of them; my repentance needs to be repented of, my tears want washing, and the very washing of my tears needs still to be washed over again with the blood of my Redeemer. Thus not only the worst of my sins, but even the best of my duties, speak me a child of Adam. Insomuch that whensoever I reflect upon my past actions, methinks I cannot but look upon my whole life, from the time of my conception to this very moment, to be but as one continued act of sin.
And whence can such a continued stream of corruption flow, but from the corrupt cistern of my heart? And whence can that corrupt cistern of my heart be filled, but from the corrupt fountain of my nature? Cease therefore, O my soul, to gainsay the power of original sin within thee, and labour now to subdue it under thee. But why do I speak of my subduing this sin myself? Surely this would be both an argument of it, and an addition to it. It is to thee, O my God, who art both the searcher and cleanser of hearts, that I desire to make my moan! It is to thee I cry out in the bitterness of my soul, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Who shall? Oh! who can do it, but thyself? Arise thou, therefore, O my God, and shew thyself as infinitely merciful in the pardoning, as thou art infinitely powerful in the purging away my sins!
I believe the Son of God became the son of man; that I the son of man might become the son of God.
OH! how comfortably does this raise me, from the lowest abasement of sin and misery, which I have before acknowledged to be my natural state, to the highest exaltation of happiness and glory in a spiritual one! This is that great article of faith, by which all the benefits of our Saviour's death and passion are made over to me inthe new covenant, and by which, if I perform the conditions therein required, I shall not only be retrieved from the bondage and corruption that is inherent in me as a child of wrath, but be justified and accepted as the son of God, and be made a joint-heir with Christ. This is a point of the greatest moment and concern, which, by the grace and assistance of him of whom I speak, and in whom I thus believe, I shall therefore be the more exact and particular in the searching and examining into.
Now when I say and believe that God became man, I do not so understand it, as if the divine nature took upon it a human person, but that a divine person took upon him the human nature; i. e. it was not the divine nature in general, without respect to the persons, but one of the persons in the divine nature which took flesh upon him. And yet, to speak precisely, it was not the divine person abstracted or distinct from the divine nature, but it was the divine nature in that person which thus took upon it the human. And this was not the first or third, but the second person only in the sacred Trinity, that thus assumed our nature; as, considering the mysterious order and economy of the divine persons, seems to be necessary that it should.
For, first, the Father could not have become this Son of man, because then he that had begotten from ęter
nity, should have been begotten in time; by which means, as he was the Father to the Son, so would the Son also have been the Father unto him; and so the order betwixt the Father and the Son destroyed.
Nor, secondly, could the Holy Ghost have taken our nature upon him, because the bond of personal union betwixt the divine and human nature is from the Spirit, (and thence it is, that every one that is partaker of Christ's person, is partaker of his Spirit also,) which could not be, if the Spirit itself had been the person assuming. For I cannot conceive how the same person could unite itself, by itself, to the assumed nature: and therefore we read, that in the Virgin's conception of our Saviour, it was neither the Father, nor the Son himself, but the Spirit of the Most High, which did overshadow her, Luke i. 35.
And farther, if the Holy Ghost had been my Redeemer, who should have been my Sanctifier? If he had died personally for me, who should have applied his death effectually to me? That I could not do it myself is, beyond contradiction, evident; and that either the Father or the Son should do it, is not agreeable to the nature or order of the divine operations; they, as I believe, never acting any thing ad extra personally, but by the Spirit proceeding from them both. And therefore it is, that Christ, to comfort his disciples after his death, promised them in his life-time that he would send them the Comforter, John xvi. 7. which is the Spirit of truth, ver. 13. He doth not say, he will come again personally, but mystically to them, by his Spirit.
But now that the Spirit, whose office it is to apply the merit and mediation of God-man to me, could not have done it, if himself had been that God-man, seems to me as clear and manifest as the other: for if he had done it, he should either have done it by the Father, by the Son, or by himself. He could not do it by the Father, nor the Son, because he does nothing by them, but all things from them. The Father acts in the Son by the Spirit, the Son from the Father by the Spirit, the Spirit