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any one arose among the Jews teaching under the title of a prophet to worship any other beside him for God, the judgment of the Rabbins was, that notwithstanding all the miracles which he could work, though they were as great as Moses wrought, he ought immediately to be strangled, because the evidence of this truth, that one God only must be worshipped, is above all evidence of sense. Nor must we look upon this precept as valid only under the law, as if then there were only one God to be worshipped, but since the gospel we had another; for our saviour hath commended it to our observation, by making use of it against the devil in his temptation, saying, “Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." "If then we be obliged to worship the God of Israel only, if we be also commanded to give the same worship to the Son which we give to him ; it is necessary that we should believe that the Son is the God of Israel. When the scripture “bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, it saith, let all the angels of God worship him ;" but then the same scripture calleth that first-begotten “Jehovah,” and “the Lord of the whole earth.” For a man to worship that for God which is not God, knowing that it is not God, is affected and gross idolatry ; to worship that as God which is not God; thinking that it is God, is not the same degree, but the same sin: to worship him as God who is God, thinking that he is not God, cannot be thought an act in the formality void of idolatry. Lest therefore, while we are all obliged to give unto him divine worship, we should fall into that sin which of all others we ought most to abhor, it is no less necessary that we should believe that Son to be that eternal God, whom we are bound to worship, and whom only we should serve.
Thirdly, our belief in Christ as the eternal Son of God is necessary, to raise us unto a thankful acknowledgment of the infinite love of God appearing in the the sending of his only begotten Son into the world to die for sinners. This love of God is frequently extolled and admired by the apostles. “God so loved the world,"
saith St. John, “that he gave his only begotten Son.” “God commendeth his love towards us,” saith St. Paul, “in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us:" in that “he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.” “In this,” saith St. John again, “was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for nur sins.” If we look upon all this as nothing else, but that God should cause a man to be born after another manner than other men, and when he was so born after a peculiar manner, yet a mortal man, should deliver him to die for the sins of the world; I see no such great expression of his love in this way of redemption, more than would have appeared if he had redeemed us any other way. It is true, indeed, that the reparation of lapsed man is no act of absolute necessity in respect of God, but that he hath as freely designed our redemption as our creation ; considering the misery from which we are redeemed, and the happiness to which we are invited, we cannot but acknowledge the singular love of God even in the act of redemption itself: but yet the apostles have raised that consideration higher, and placed the choicest mark of the love of God in the choosing such means and performing in that manner our reparation, by sending his only begotten into the world ; by not sparing his own Son, by giving and delivering him up to be scourged and crucified for us ; and the estimation of this act of God's love must necessarily increase proportionably to the dignity of the Son so sent into the world; because the more worthy the person of Christ before he suffered, the greater his condescension unto such a suffering condition ; and the nearer his relation to the Father, the greater his love to us for whose sakes he sent him to suffer. Wherefore to derogate any way from the person and nature of our Saviour before he suffered, is so far to undervalue the love of God, and consequently to come short of that acknowledgment and thanksgiving which is due unto him for it. If then
the sending of Christ into the world were the highest act of the love of God which could be expressed; if we be obliged unto a return of thankfulness some way correspondent to such infinite love; if such a return can never be made without a true sense of that infinity, and a sense of that infinity of love cannot consist without an apprehension of an infinite dignity of nature in the person sent; then it is absolutely necessary to believe that Christ is so the “only-begotten Son” of the Father, as to be of the same substance with him, of glory equal, of majesty co-eternal. By this discourse in way of explication every christian may understand what it is he says, and express his mind how he would be understood, when he maketh this brief confession, I believe in Christ the only Son of God. For by these words he must be thought to intend no less than this; I do profess to be fully assured of this assertion as of a most certain, infallible, and necessary truth, That Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Messias, is the true, proper, and natural Son of God, begotten of the substance of the Father: which being incapable of division or multiplication, is so really and totally communicated to him, that he is of the same essence with him, “God of God, light of light, very God of very God.” And as I assert him so to be the Son, so do I also exclude all other persons from that kind of sonship, acknowledging none but him to be begotten of God by that proper and natural generation; and thereby excluding all which are not begotten, as it is a generation; all which are said to be begotten, and are called sons, but are so only by adoption, as it is natural. And thus I believe in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his only Son.
BISHOP OF DOWN.
Born 1613_Died 1667.
LIFE OF CHRIST.
Part I. Sect. V. If, in the definition of meditation, I should call it an unaccustomed and unpractised duty, I should speak a truth, though somewhat inartificially : for not only the interior beauties and brighter excellencies are as unfelt as ideas and abstractions are, but also the practice and common knowledge of the duty itself are strangers to us, like the retirements of the deep, or the undiscovered treasures of the Indian hills. And this is a very great cause of the dryness and expiration of men's devotion, because our souls are so little refreshed with the waters and holy dews of meditation. We go to our prayers by chance, or order, or by determination of accidental occurrences; and we recite them, as we read a book ; and sometimes we are sensible of the duty, and a flash of lightning makes the room bright, and our prayers end, and the lightning is gone, and we are as dark as ever. We draw our water from standing pools, which never are filled but with sudden showers, and therefore we are dry so often: whereas if we would draw water from the fountains of our saviour, and derive them through the channel of diligent and prudent meditations, our devotion would be a continual current, and safe against the barrenness of frequent droughts.
For meditation is an attention and application of spirit to divine things ; a searching out all instruments to a holy life, a devout consideration of them, and a production of those affections, which are in a direct order to the love of God and a pious conversation. Indeed, meditation is all that great instrument of piety, whereby it is made prudent, and reasonable, and orderly, and perpetual. For, supposing our memory instructed with the knowledge of such mysteries and revelations, as are apt to entertain the spirit, the understanding is first and best employed in the consideration of them, and then the will in their reception, when they are duly prepared and so transmitted ; and both these in such manner, and to such purposes, that they become the magazine and great repositories of grace, and instrumental to all designs of virtue.
For the understanding is not to consider the matter of any meditation in itself, or as it determines in natural excellencies or unworthiness respectively, or with a purpose to furnish itself with notion and riches of knowledge ; for that is like the winter sun: it shines, but warms not; but in such order as themselves are put in the designations of theology, in the order of divine laws, in their spiritual capacity, and as they have influence upon holiness : for the understanding here is something else besides the intellectual power of the soul, it is the spirit ; that is, it is celestial in its application, as it is spiritual in its nature ; and we may understand it well by considering the beatifical portions of soul and body in their future glories. For therefore, even our bodies in the resurrection shall be spiritual, because the operation of them shall be in order to spiritual glories, and their natural actions, such as are seeing and speaking, shall have a spiritual object and supernatural end; and here, as we partake of such excellencies and co-operate to such purposes, men are more or less spiritual. And so is the understanding taken from its first and lowest ends of resting in notion and ineffective contemplation, and is made spirit ; that is, wholly ruled and guided by God's spirit to supernatural ends and spiritual employments; so that it understands and considers the motions of the “heavens, to declare the glory of God,” the prodigies and alterations in the firmament, to demonstrate his handy work; it considers the excellent order of creatures, that we may not disturb the order of creation, or dissolve the golden chain of subordination. Aristotle and Porphyry, and the other Greek philosophers,