VOL. 1




To Almighty God alone belong the inherent and absolute right,

will, and power of determining concerning us. Since,

therefore, it has pleased him to call me, his unworthy

servant, from the ecclesiastical functions which I have for

some years discharged in the Church of his Son in the

populous city of Amsterdam, and to give me the appointment of

the Theological Professorship in this most celebrated

University, I accounted it my duty, not to manifest too much

reluctance to this vocation, although I was well acquainted

with my incapacity for such an office, which with the

greatest willingness and sincerity I then confessed and must

still acknowledge. Indeed, the consciousness of my own

insufficiency operated as a persuasive to me not to listen to

this vocation; of which fact I can cite as a witness that God

who is both the Inspector and the Judge of my conscience. Of

this consciousness of my own insufficiency, several persons

of great probity and learning are also witnesses; for they

were the cause of my engaging in this office, provided it

were offered to me in a legitimate order and manner. But as

they suggested, and as experience itself had frequently

taught me, that it is a dangerous thing to adhere to one's

own judgment with pertinacity and to pay too much regard to

the opinion which we entertain of ourselves, because almost

all of us have little discernment in those matters which

concern ourselves, I suffered myself to be induced by the

authority of their judgment to enter upon this difficult and

burdensome province, which may God enable me to commence with

tokens of his Divine approbation and under his propitious


Although I am beyond measure cast down and almost shudder

with fear, solely at the anticipation of this office and its

duties, yet I can scarcely indulge in a doubt of Divine

approval and support when my mind attentively considers, what

are the causes on account of which this vocation was

appointed, the manner in which it is committed to execution,

and the means and plans by which it is brought to a

conclusion. From all these considerations, I feel a

persuasion that it has been Divinely instituted and brought

to perfection.

For this cause I entertain an assured hope of the perpetual

presence of Divine assistance; and, with due humility of

mind, I venture in God's holy name to take this charge upon

me and to enter upon its duties. I most earnestly beseech all

and each of you, and if the benevolence which to the present

time you have expressed towards me by many and most signal

tokens will allow such a liberty, I implore, nay, (so

pressing is my present necessity,) I solemnly conjure you, to

unite with me in ardent wishes and fervent intercessions

before God, the Father of lights, that, ready as I am out of

pure affection to contribute to your profit, he may be

pleased graciously to supply his servant with the gifts which

are necessary to the proper discharge of these functions, and

to bestow upon me his benevolent favour, guidance and

protection, through the whole course of this vocation.

But it appears to me, that I shall be acting to some good

purpose, if, at the commencement of my office, I offer some

general remarks on Sacred Theology, by way of preface, and

enter into an explanation of its extent, dignity and

excellence. This discourse will serve yet more and more to

incite the mind, of students, who profess themselves

dedicated to the service of this Divine wisdom, fearlessly to

proceed in the career upon which they have entered,

diligently to urge on their progress and to keep up an

unceasing contest till they arrive at its termination. Thus

may they hereafter become the instruments of God unto

salvation in the Church of his Saints, qualified and fitted

for the sanctification of his divine name, and formed "for

the edifying of the body of Christ," in the Spirit. When I

have effected this design, I shall think, with Socrates, that

in such an entrance on my duties I have discharged no

inconsiderable part of them to some good effect. For that

wisest of the Gentiles was accustomed to say, that he had

properly accomplished his duty of teaching, when he had once

communicated an impulse to the minds of his hearers and had

inspired them with an ardent desire of learning. Nor did he

make this remark without reason. For, to a willing man,

nothing is difficult, especially when God has promised the

clearest revelation of his secrets to those "who shall

meditate on his law day and night." (Psalm i, 2.) In such a

manner does this promise of God act, that, on those matters

which far surpass the capacity of the human mind, we may

adopt the expression of Isocrates, If thou be desirous of

receiving instruction, thou shalt learn many things."

This explanation will be of no small service to myself. For

in the very earnest recommendation of this study which I give

to others, I prescribe to myself a law and rule by which I

ought to walk in its profession; and an additional necessity

is thus imposed on me of conducting myself in my new office

with holiness and modesty, and in all good conscience; that,

in case I should afterwards turn aside from the right path,

(which may our gracious God prevent,) such a solemn

recommendation of this study may be cast in my face to my


In the discussion of this subject, I do not think it

necessary to utter any protestation before professors most

learned in Jurisprudence, most skillful in Medicine, most

subtle in Philosophy, and most erudite in the languages.

Before such learned persons I have no need to enter into any

protestation, for the purpose of removing from myself a

suspicion of wishing to bring into neglect or contempt that

particular study which each of them cultivates. For to every

kind of study in the most noble theater of the sciences, I

assign, as it becomes me, its due place, and that an

honourable one; and each being content with its subordinate

station, all of them with the greatest willingness concede

the president's throne to that science of which I am now


I shall adopt that plain and simple species of oratory which,

according to Euripides, belongs peculiarly to truth. I am not

ignorant that some resemblance and relation ought to exist

between an oration and the subjects that are discussed in it;

and therefore, that a certain divine method of speech is

required when we attempt to speak on divine things according

to their dignity. But I choose plainness and simplicity,

because Theology needs no ornament, but is content to be

taught, and because it is out of my power to make an effort

towards acquiring a style that may be in any degree worthy of

such a subject.

In discussing the dignity and excellence of sacred Theology,

I shall briefly confine it within four titles. In imitation

of the method which obtains in human sciences, that are

estimated according to the excellence of their OBJECT, their

AUTHOR, and their END, and of the IMPORTANCE of the reasons

by which each of them is supported -- I shall follow the same

plan, speaking, first, of The OBJECT of Theology, then of its

AUTHOR, afterwards of its END, and lastly, of its CERTAINTY.

I pray God, that the grace of his Holy Spirit may be present

with me while I am speaking; and that he would be pleased to

direct my mind, mouth and tongue, in such a manner as to

enable me to advance those truths which are holy, worthy of

our God, and salutary to you his creatures, to the glory of

his name and for the edification of his Church.

I intreat you also, my most illustrious and polite hearers,

kindly to grant me your attention for a short time while I

endeavour to explain matters of the greatest importance; and

while your observation is directed to the subject in which I

shall exercise myself, you will have the goodness to regard

IT, rather than any presumed SKILL in my manner of treating

it. The nature of his great subject requires us, at this hour

especially, to direct our attention, in the first instance,

to the Object of Theology. For the objects of sciences are so

intimately related, and so essential to them, as to give them

their appellations.

But God is himself the Object of Theology. The very term

indicates as much: for Theology signifies a discourse or

reasoning concerning God. This is likewise indicated by the

definition which the Apostle gives of this science, when he

describes it as "the truth which is after godliness." (Tit.

i, 1.) The Greek word here used for godliness, is eusebeia

signifying a worship due to God alone, which the Apostle

shews in a manner of greater clearness, when he calls this

piety by the more exact term qeosebeia All other sciences

have their objects, noble indeed, and worthy to engage the

notice of the human mind, and in the contemplation of which

much time, leisure and diligence may be profitably occupied.

In General Metaphysics, the object of study is, "BEING in

reference to its being;" Particular Metaphysics have for

their objects "intelligence and minds separated and removed

from mortal contagion." Physics are applied to "bodies, as

having the principle of motion in themselves." The

Mathematics have "relation to quantities." Medicine exercises

itself with the human body, in relation to its capacity of

health and soundness." Jurisprudence has a reference to

"justice, in relation to human society." Ethics, to "the

virtues." Economics, to "the government of a family;" and

Politics, to "state affairs." But all these sciences are

appointed in subordination to God; from him also they derive

their origin. They are dependent on him alone; and, in

return, they move back again, and unto him is their natural

re-action. This science is the only one which occupies itself

about the BEING of beings and the CAUSE of causes, the

principle of nature, and that of grace existing in nature,

and by which nature is assisted and surrounded. This object,

therefore, is the most worthy and dignified of all, and full

of adorable majesty, It far excels all the rest; because it

is not lawful for any one, however well and accurately he may

be instructed in the knowledge of all the sciences, to glory

in the least on this account; and because every one that has

obtained a knowledge of this science only, may on solid

grounds and in reality glory in it. For God himself has

forbidden the former species of boasting, while he commands

the latter. His words by the prophet Jeremiah, are "Let not

the wise man glory in his wisdom; but let him. that glorieth

glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me." (ix,

23, 24)

But let us consider the conditions that are generally

employed to commend the object of any science. That OBJECT is

most excellent (1.) which is in itself the best, and the

greatest, and immutable; (2.) which, in relation to the mind,

is most lucid and clear, and most easily proposed and

unfolded to the view of the mental powers; and (3.) which is

likewise able, by its action on the mind, completely to fill

it, and to satisfy its infinite desires. These three

conditions are in the highest degree discovered in God, and

in him alone, who is the subject of theological study.

1. He is the best being; he is the first and chief good, and

goodness itself; he alone is good, as good as goodness

itself; as ready to communicate, as it is possible for him to

be communicated: his liberality is only equaled by the

boundless treasures which he possesses, both of which are

infinite and restricted only by the capacity of the

recipient, which he appoints as a limit and measure to the

goodness of his nature and to the communication of himself.

He is the greatest Being, and the only great One; for he is

able to subdue to his sway even nothing itself, that it may

become capable of divine good by the communication of

himself. "He calleth those things which are not, as though

they were," (Rom. iv, 17) and in that manner, by his word, he

places them in the number of beings, although it is out of

darkness that they have received his commands to emerge and

to come into existence. "All nations before him are as

nothing, the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers, and the

princes nothing." (Isa. xl, 17, 22, 23.) The whole of this

system of heaven and earth appears scarcely equal to a point

"before him, whose center is every where, but whose

circumference is no where." He is immutable, always the same,

and endureth forever; "his years have no end." (Psalm 102)

Nothing can be added to him, and nothing can be taken from

him; with him "is no variableness, neither shadow of

turning." (James i, 17.) Whatsoever obtains stability for a

single moment, borrows it from him, and receives it of mere

grace. Pleasant, therefore, and most delightful is it to

contemplate him, on account of his goodness; it is glorious

in consideration of his greatness; and it is sure, in

reference to his immutability.

2. He is most resplendent and bright; he is light itself, and

becomes an object of most obvious perception to the mind,

according to this expression of the apostle, That they should

seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find

Him, though he be not far from every one of us; for in him we

live, and move, and have our being; for we are also his

offspring:" (Acts xvii, 27, 28.) And according to another

passage, "God left not himself without witness, in that he

did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons,

filling our hearts with food and gladness." (Acts xiv, 17.)

Being supported by these true sayings, I venture to assert,

that nothing can be seen or truly known in any object, except

in it we have previously seen and known God himself.

In the first place he is called "Being itself," because he

offers himself to the understanding as an object of

knowledge. But all beings, both visible and invisible,

corporeal and incorporeal, proclaim aloud that they have

derived the beginning of their essence and condition from

some other than themselves, and that they have not their own

proper existence till they have it from another. All of them

utter speech, according to the saying of the Royal Prophet:

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament

showeth his handy-work." (Psalm xix, 1.) That is, the

firmament sounds aloud as with a trumpet, and proclaims, that

it is "the work of the right hand of the Most High." Among

created objects, you may discover many tokens indicating

"that they derive from some other source whatever they

themselves possess," mere strongly than "that they have an

existence in the number and scale of beings." Nor is this

matter of wonder, since they are always nearer to nothing

than to their Creator, from whom they are removed to a

distance that is infinite, and separated by infinite space:

while, by properties that are only finite, they are

distinguished from nothing, the primeval womb from whence

they sprung, and into which they may fall back again; but

they can never be raised to a divine equality with God their

maker. Therefore, it was rightly spoken by the ancient


"Of Jove all things are full."

3. He alone can completely fill the mind, and satisfy its

(otherwise) insatiable desires. For he is infinite in his

essence, his wisdom, power, and goodness. He is the first and

chief verity, and truth itself in the abstract. But the human

mind is finite in nature, the substance of which it is

formed; and only in this view is it a partaker of infinity --

because it apprehends Infinite Being and the Chief Truth,

although it is incapable of comprehending them. David,

therefore, in an exclamation of joyful self-gratulation,

openly confesses, that he was content with the possession of

God alone, who by means of knowledge and love is possessed by

his creatures. These are his words: "Whom have I in heaven

but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside

thee." (Psalm lxxiii, 25.)

If thou be acquainted with all other things, and yet remain

in a state of ignorance with regard to him alone, thou art

always wandering beyond the proper point, and thy restless

love of knowledge increases in the proportion in which

knowledge itself is increased. The man who knows only God,

and who is ignorant of all things else, remains in peace and

tranquillity, and, (like one that has found "a pearl of great

price," although in the purchase of it he may have expended

the whole of his substance,) he congratulates himself and

greatly triumphs. This luster or brightness of the object is

the cause why an investigation into it, or an inquiry after

it, is never instituted without obtaining it; and, (such is

its fullness,) when it has once been found, the discovery of

it is always attended with abundant profit.

But we must consider this object more strictly; for we treat

of it in reference to its being the object of our theology,

according to which we have a knowledge of God in this life.

We must therefore clothe it in a certain mode, and invest it

in a formal manner, as the logical phrase is; and thus place

it as a foundation to our knowledge.

Three Considerations of this matter offer themselves to our

notice: The First is, that we cannot receive this object in

the infinity of its nature; our necessity, therefore,

requires it to be proposed in a manner that is accommodated

to our capacity. The Second is, that it is not proper, in the

first moment of revelation, for such a large measure to be

disclosed and manifested by the light of grace, as may be

received into the human mind when it is illuminated by the

light of glory, and, (by that process,) enlarged to a greater

capacity: for by a right use of the knowledge of grace, we

must proceed upwards, (by the rule of divine righteousness,)

to the more sublime knowledge of glory, according to that

saying, "To him that hath shall be given." The Third is, that

this object is not laid before our theology merely to be

known, but, when known, to be worshipped. For the Theology

which belongs to this world, is Practical and through Faith:

Theoretical Theology belongs to the other world, and consists

of pure and unclouded vision, according to the expression of

the apostle, "We walk by faith, and not by sight;" (2 Cor. v,

7,) and that of another apostle, "Then shall we be like him,

for we shall see him as he is." (1 John iii, 2.) For this

reason, we must clothe the object of our theology in such a

manner as may enable it to incline us to worship God, and

fully to persuade and win us over to that practice.

This last design is the line and rule of this formal relation

according to which God becomes the subject of our Theology.

But that man may be induced, by a willing obedience and

humble submission of the mind, to worship God, it is

necessary for him to believe, from a certain persuasion of

the heart: (1.) That it is the will of God to be worshipped,

and that worship is due to him. (2.) That the worship of him

will not be in vain, but will be recompensed with an

exceedingly great reward. (3.) That a mode of worship must be

instituted according to his command. To these three

particulars ought to be added, a knowledge of the mode


Our Theology, then, delivers three things concerning this

object, as necessary and sufficient to be known in relation

to the preceding subjects of belief. The First is concerning

the nature of God. The Second concerning his actions. And the

Third concerning his will.

(1.) Concerning his nature; that it is worthy to receive

adoration, on account of its justice; that it is qualified to

form a right judgment of that worship, on account of its

wisdom; and that it is prompt and able to bestow rewards, on

account of its goodness and the perfection of its own


(2.) Two actions have been ascribed to God for the same

purpose; they are Creation and Providence. (i.) The Creation

of all things, and especially of man after God's own image;

upon which is founded his sovereign authority over man, and

from which is deduced the right of requiring worship from man

and enjoining obedience upon him, according to that very just

complaint of God by Malachi, "If then I be a father, where is

mine honour? and if I be a master, were is my fear," (i, 6.)

(ii.) That Providence is to be ascribed to God by which he

governs all things, and according to which he exercises a

holy, just, and wise care and oversight over man himself and

those things which relate to him, but chiefly over the

worship and obedience which he is bound to render to his God.

(3.) Lastly, it treats of the will of God expressed in a

certain covenant into which he has entered with man, and

which consists of two parts: (i.) The one, by which he

declares it to be his pleasure to receive adoration from man,

and at the same time prescribes the mode of performing that

worship; for it is his will to be worshipped from obedience,

and not at the option or discretion of man. (ii.) The other,

by which God promises that he will abundantly compensate man

for the worship which he performs; requiring not only

adoration for the benefits already conferred upon man, as a

trial of his gratitude; but likewise that He may communicate

to man infinitely greater things to the consummation of his

felicity. For as he occupied the first place in conferring

blessings and doing good, because that high station was his

due, since man was about to be called into existence among

the number of creatures; so likewise it is his desire that

the last place in doing good be reserved for him, according

to the infinite perfection of his goodness and blessedness,

who is the fountain of good and the extreme boundary of

happiness, the Creator and at the same time the Glorifier of

his worshippers. It is according to this last action of his,

that he is called by some persons "the Object of Theology,"

and that not improperly, because in this last are included

all the preceding.

In the way which has been thus compendiously pointed out, the

infinite disputes of the schoolmen, concerning the formal

relation by which God is the Object of Theology, may, in my

opinion, be adjusted and decided. But as I think it a

culpable deed to abuse your patience, I shall decline to say

any more on this part of the subject.

Our sacred Theology, therefore, is chiefly occupied in

ascribing to the One True God, to whom alone they really

belong, those attributes of which we have already spoken, his

nature, actions, and will. For it is not sufficient to know,

that there is some kind of a NATURE, simple, infinite, wise,

good, just, omnipotent, happy in itself, the Maker and

Governor of all things, that is worthy to receive adoration,

whose will it is to be worshipped, and that is able to make

its worshippers happy. To this general kind of knowledge

there ought to be added, a sure and settled conception, fixed

on that Deity, and strictly bound to the single object of

religious worship to which alone those qualities appertain.

The necessity of entertaining fixed and determinate ideas on

this subject, is very frequently inculcated in the sacred

page: "I am the Lord thy God." (Exod. xx, 2.) "I am the Lord

and there is none else." (Isa. xlv, 5.) Elijah also says, "If

the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him."

(1 Kings xviii, 21.) This duty is the more sedulously

inculcated in scripture, as man is more inclined to depart

from the true idea of Deity. For whatever clear and proper

conception of the Divine Being the minds the Heathens had

formed, the first stumbling-block over which they fell

appears to have been this, they did not attribute that just

conception to him to whom it ought to have been given; but

they ascribed it either, (1.) to some vague and uncertain

individual, as in the expression of the Roman poet, "O

Jupiter, whether thou be heaven, or air, or earth!" Or, (2)

some imaginary and fabulous Deity, whether it be among

created things, or a mere idol of the brain, neither

partaking of the Divine nature nor any other, which the

Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans and to the

Corinthians, produces as a matter of reproach to the

Gentiles. (Rom. 1, and 1 Corinthians 8.) Or (3,) lastly, they

ascribed it to the unknown God; the title of Unknown being

given to their Deity by the very persons who were his

worshippers. The Apostle relates this crime as one of which

the Athenians were guilty: But it is equally true when

applied to all those who err and wander from the true object

of adoration, and yet worship a Deity of some description. To

such persons that sentence justly belongs which Christ

uttered in conversation with the woman of Samaria: "Ye

worship YE KNOW NOT WHAT." (John iv, 22.)

Although those persons are guilty of a grievous error who

transgress in this point, so as to be deservedly termed

Atheists, in Scripture aqeoi "men without God;" yet they are

by far more intolerably insane, who, having passed the

extreme line of impiety, are not restrained by the

consciousness of any Deity. The ancient heathens considered

such men as peculiarly worthy of being called Atheists. On

the other hand, those who have a consciousness of their own

ignorance occupy the step that is nearest to sanity. For it

is necessary to be careful only about one thing; and that is,

when we communicate information to them, we must teach them

to discard the falsehood which they had imbibed, and must

instruct them in the truth alone. When this truth is pointed

out to them, they will seize it with the greater avidity, in

proportion to the deeper sorrow which they feel at the

thought that they have been surrounded for a long series of

years by a most pernicious error.

But Theology, as it appears to me, principally effects four

things in fixing our conceptions, which we have just

mentioned, on that Deity who is true, and in drawing them

away from the invention and formation of false Deities.

First. It explains, in an elegant and copious manner, the

relation in which the Deity stands, lest we should ascribe to

his nature any thing that is foreign to it, or should take

away from it any one of its properties. In reference to this,

it is said, "Ye. heard the voice, but saw no similitude; take

ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, lest you make you a

graven image." (Deut. iv, 15, 16.) -Secondly. It describes

both the universal and the particular actions of the only

true God, that by them it may distinguish the true Deity from

those which are fabulous. On this account it is said, "The

gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, shall

perish from the earth, and under these heavens." (Jer. x,

11.) Jonah also said, "I fear the Lord, the God of heaven,

who hath made the sea and the dry land." (i, 9.) And the

Apostle declares, "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of

God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto

gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and by man's

device:" (Acts xvii, 29.) In another passage it is recorded,

"I am the Lord thy God which brought thee out of the land of

Egypt;" (Deut. v, 6.) "I am the God that appeared to thee in

Bethel." (Gen. xxvi, 13.) And, "Behold the days come, saith

the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which

brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt,

but, The Lord liveth which brought up and which led the seed

of the house of Israel out of the North Country," &c. (Jer.

xxiii, 7, 8.) Thirdly. It makes frequent mention of the

covenant into which the true Deity has entered with his

worshippers, that by the recollection of it the mind of man

may be stayed upon that God with whom the covenant was

concluded. In reference to this it is said, "Thus shalt thou

say unto the Children of Israel, the Lord God of your

fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of

Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and

this is. my memorial unto all generations", (Exod. iii, 15.)

Thus Jacob, when about to conclude a compact with Laban his

father-in-law, swears "by the fear of his father Isaac."

(Gen. xxxi, 53.) And when Abraham's servant was seeking a

wife for his master's son, he thus invoked God, "O Lord God

of my master Abraham!" (Gen. xxiv, 12.) Fourthly. It

distinguishes and points out the true Deity, even by a most

appropriate, particular, and individual mark, when it

introduces the mention of the persons who are partakers of

the same Divinity; thus it gives a right direction to the

mind of the worshipper, and fixes it upon that God who is THE

FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. This was manifested with

some degree of obscurity in the Old Testament, but with the

utmost clearness in the New. Hence the Apostle says, "I bow

my knee unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephes.

iii, 14.) All these remarks are comprehended and summed up by

Divines, in this brief sentence, "That God must be invoked

who has manifested himself in his own word." But the

preceding observations concerning the Object of Theology,

properly respect Legal Theology, which was accommodated to

man's primeval state. For when man in his original integrity

acted under the protecting favour and benevolence of a good

and just God, he was able to render to God that worship which

had been prescribed according to the law of legal

righteousness, that says, "This do, and thou shalt live" he

was able to "love with all his heart and soul" that Good and

Just Being; he was able, from a consciousness of his

integrity, to repose confidence in that Good and Just One;

and he was able to evince towards him, as such, a filial

fear, and to pay him the honour which was pleasing and due to

him, as from a servant to his Lord. God also, on his part,

without the least injury to his justice, was able to act

towards man, while in that state, according to the proscript

of legal righteousness, to reward his worship according to

justice, and, through the terms of the legal covenant, and

consequently "of debt," to confer life upon him. This God

could do, consistency with his goodness, which required the

fulfillment of the promise. There was no call for any other

property of his nature, which might contribute by its agency

to accomplish this purpose: No further progress of Divine

goodness was necessary than that which might repay good for

good, the good of perfect felicity, for the good of entire

obedience: No other action was required, except that of

creation, (which had then been performed,) and that of a

preserving and governing providence, in conformity with the

condition with which man was placed: No other volition of God

was needed, than that by which he might both require the

perfect obedience of the law and might repay that obedience

with life eternal. In that state of human affairs, therefore,

the knowledge of the nature described in those properties,

the knowledge of those actions, and of that will, to which

may be added the knowledge of the Deity to whom they really

pertained, was necessary for the performance of worship to

God, and was of itself amply sufficient.

But when man had fallen from his primeval integrity through

disobedience to the law, and had rendered himself "a child of

wrath" and had become devoted to condemnations, this goodness

mingled with legal justice could not be sufficient for the

salvation of man. Neither could this act of creation and

providence, nor this will suffice; and therefore this legal

Theology was itself insufficient. For sin was to be condemned

if men were absolved; and, as the Apostle says, (in the

eighth chapter of his Epistle to the Romans,) "it could not

be condemned by the law." Man was to be justified: but he

could not be justified by the law, which, while it is the

strength of sin, makes discovery of it to us, and is the

procurer of wrath.

This Theology, therefore, could serve for no salutary

purpose, at that time: such was its dreadful efficacy in

convincing man of sin and consigning him to certain death.

This unhappy change, this unfavourable vicissitude of affairs

was introduced by the fault and the infection of sin; which

was likewise the cause why "the law which was ordained to

life and honour," (Rom. vii, 10,) became fatal and

destructive to our race, and the procurer of eternal

ignominy. (1.) Other properties, therefore, of the Divine

Nature were to be called into action; every one of God's

benefits was to be unfolded and explained; mercy, long

suffering, gentleness, patience, and clemency were to be

brought forth out of the repository of his primitive

goodness, and their services were to be engaged, if it was

proper for offending man to be reconciled to God and

reinstated in his favour. (2.) Other actions were to be

exhibited: "Anew creation" was to be effected; "a new

providence," accommodated in every respect to this new

creation, was to be instituted and put in force; "the work of

redemption" was to be performed; "remission of sins" was to

be obtained; "the loss of righteousness" was to be repaired;

"the Spirit of grace" was to be asked and obtained; and a

"lost salvation" restored. (3.) Another decree was likewise

to be framed concerning the salvation of man; and another

covenant, a new one," was to be made with him, "not according

to that former one, because those" who were parties on one

side "had not continued in that covenant:" (Heb. viii, 11,)

but, by another and a gracious will, they "were to be

sanctified" who might be "consecrated to enter into the

Holiest by a new and living way." (Heb. x, 20.) All these

things were to be prepared and laid down as foundations to

the new manifestation.

Another revelation, therefore, and a different species of

Theology, were necessary to make known those properties of

the Divine Nature, which we have described, and which were

most wisely employed in repairing our salvation; to proclaim

the actions which were exhibited; and to occupy themselves in

explaining that decree and new covenant which we have


But since God, the punisher and most righteous avenger of

sinners, was either unwilling, or, (through the opposition

made by the justice and truth which had been originally

manifested in the law,) was unable to unfold those properties

of his nature, to produce those actions, or to make that

decree, except by the intervention of a Mediator, in whom,

without the least injury to his justice and truth, he might

unfold those properties, perform those actions, might through

them produce those necessary benefits, and might conclude

that most gracious decree; on this account a Mediator was to

be ordained, who, by his blood, might atone for sinners, by

his death might expiate the sin of mankind, might reconcile

the wicked to God, and might save them from his impending

anger; who might set forth and display the mercy, long

suffering and patience of God, might provide eternal

redemption, obtain remission of sin, bring in an everlasting

righteousness, procure the Spirit of grace, confirm the

decree of gracious mercy, ratify the new covenant by his

blood, recover eternal salvation, and who might bring to God

those that were to be ultimately saved.

A just and merciful God, therefore, did appoint as Mediator,

his beloved Son, Jesus Christ. He obediently undertook that

office which was imposed on him by the Father, and

courageously executed it; nay, he is even now engaged in

executing it. He was, therefore, ordained by God as the

Redeemer, the saviour, the King, and, (under God,) the Head

of the heirs of salvation. It would have been neither just

nor reasonable, that he who had undergone such vast labours,

and endured such great sorrows, who had performed so many

miracles, and who had obtained through his merits so many

benefits for us, should ingloriously remain among us in

meanness and obscurity, and should be dismissed by us without

honour. It was most equitable, that he should in return be

acknowledged, worshipped, and invoked, and that he should

receive those grateful thanks which are due to him for his


But how shall we be able to adore, worship and invoke him,

unless "we believe on him? How can we believe in him, unless

we hear of him? And how can we hear concerning him," except

he be revealed to us by the word? (Rom. x, 14.) From this

cause, then, arose the necessity of making a revelation

concerning Jesus Christ; and on this account two objects,

(that is, God and his Christ,) are to be placed as a

foundation to that Theology which will sufficiently

contribute towards the salvation of sinners, according to the

saying of our saviour Christ: "And this is life eternal, that

they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ,

whom than hast sent." (John xvii, 3.) Indeed, these two

objects are not of such a nature as that the one may be

separated from the other, or that the one may be collaterally

joined to the other; but the-latter of them is, in a proper

and suitable manner, subordinate to the former. Here then we

have a Theology, which, from Christ, its object, is most

rightfully and deservedly termed Christian, which is

manifested not by the Law, but in the earliest ages by

promise, and in these latter days by the Gospel, which is

called that "of Jesus Christ," although the words (Christian

and Legal) are sometimes confounded. But let us consider the

union and the subordination of both these objects.

I. Since we have God and his Christ for the object of our

Christian Theology, the manner in which Legal Theology

explains God unto us, is undoubtedly much amplified by this

addition, and our Theology is thus infinitely ennobled above

that which is legal.

For God has unfolded in Christ all his own goodness. "For it

pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell;"

(Col. i, 19,) and that the "fullness of the Godhead should

dwell in him," not by adumbration or according to the shadow,

but "bodily:" For this reason he is called "the image of the

invisible God;" (Col. i, 15,) "the brightness of his Father's

glory, and the express image of his person," (Heb. i, 3,) in

whom the Father condescends to afford to us his infinite

majesty, his immeasurable goodness, mercy and philanthropy,

to be contemplated, beheld, and to be touched and felt; even

as Christ himself says to Philip, "He that hath seen me, hath

seen the Father." (John xiv, 9.) For those things which lay

hidden and indiscernible within the Father, like the fine and

deep traces in an engraved seal, stand out, become prominent,

and may be most clearly and distinctly seen in Christ, as in

an exact and protuberant impression, formed by the

application of a deeply engraved seal on the substance to be


1. In this Theology God truly appears, in the highest degree,

the best and the greatest of Beings: (1.) The Best, cause he

is not only willing, as in the former Theology, to

communicate himself (for the happiness of men,) to those who

correctly discharge their duty, but to receive into his

favour and to reconcile to himself those who are sinners,

wicked, unfruitful, and declared enemies, and to bestow

eternal life on them when they repent. (2.) The Greatest,

because he has not only produced all things from nothing,

through the annihilation of the latter, and the creation of

the former, but because he has also effected a triumph over

sin, (which is far more noxious than nothing, and conquered

with greater difficulty,) by graciously pardoning it, and

powerfully putting it away;" and because he has "brought in

everlasting righteousness," by means of a second creation,

and a regeneration which far exceeded the capacity of "the

law that acted as schoolmaster." (Gal. iii, 24.) For this

cause Christ is called "the wisdom and the power of God," (1

Cor. i, 24,) far more illustrious than the wisdom and the

power which were originally displayed in the creation of the

universe. (3.) In this Theology, God is described to us as in

every respect immutable, not only in regard to his nature but

also to his will, which, as it has been manifested in the

gospel, is peremptory and conclusive, and, being the last of

all, is not to be corrected by another will. For "Jesus

Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever"; (Heb.

xiii, 8,) by whom God hath in these last days spoken unto

us." (Heb. i, 2.) Under the law, the state of this matter was

very different, and that greatly to our ultimate advantage.

For if the will of God unfolded in the law had been fatal to

us, as well as the last expression of it, we, of all men most

miserable, should have been banished forever from God himself

on account of that declaration of his will; and our doom

would have been in a state of exile from our salvation. I

would not seem in this argument to ascribe any mutability to

the will of God. I only place such a termination and boundary

to his will, or rather to something willed by him, as was by

himself before affixed to it and predetermined by an eternal

and peremptory decree, that thus a vacancy might be made for

a "better covenant established on better promises" (Heb. vii,

22; viii, 6.)

2. This Theology offers God in Christ as an object of our

sight and knowledge, with such clearness, splendour and

plainness, that we with open face, beholding as in a glass

the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from

glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (1 Cor.

iii, 18.) In comparison with this brightness and glory, which

was so pre-eminent and surpassing, the law itself is said not

to have been either bright or glorious: For it "had no glory

in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth." (2

Cor. iii, 8.) This was indeed "the wisdom of God which was

kept secret since the world began :" (1 Cor. ii, 7; Rom. xvi,

25.) Great and inscrutable is this mystery; yet it is

exhibited in Christ Jesus, and "made manifest" with such

luminous clearness, that God is said to have been "manifest

in the flesh" (1 Tim. iii, 16,) in no other sense than as

though it would never have been possible for him to be

manifested without the flesh; for the express purpose "that

the eternal life which was with the Father, and the Word of

life which was from the beginning with God, might be heard

with our ears, seen with our eyes, and handled with our

hands." (1 John i, 1, 2.)

3. The Object of our Theology being clothed in this manner,

so abundantly fills the mind and satisfies the desire, that

the apostle openly declares, he was determined "to know

nothing among the Corinthians save Jesus Christ, and him

crucified." (1 Cor. ii, 2.) To the Phillipians he says, that

he "counted all things but lost for the excellency of the

knowledge of Christ Jesus; for whom he had suffered the loss

of all things, and he counted them but dung that he might

know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the

fellowship of his sufferings." (Phil. iii, 8, 10.) Nay, in

the knowledge of the object of our theology, modified in this

manner, all true glorying and just boasting consist, as the

passage which we before quoted from Jeremiah, and the purpose

to which St. Paul has accommodated it, most plainly evince.

This is the manner in which it is expressed: "Let him. that

glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me,

that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment

and righteousness in the earth." (Jer. ix, 24.) When you

hear any mention of mercy, your thoughts ought necessarily to

revert to Christ, out of whom "God is a consuming fire" to

destroy the sinners of the earth. (Deut. iv, 24; Heb. xii,

29) The way in which St. Paul has accommodated it, is this:

"Christ Jesus is made unto us by God, wisdom, righteousness,

and sanctification, and redemption; that, according as it is

written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord!"(1 Cor.

i, 30, 31.) Nor is it wonderful, that the mind should desire

to "know nothing save Jesus Christ," or that its otherwise

insatiable desire of knowledge should repose itself in him,

since in him and in his gospel "are hidden all the treasures

of wisdom, and knowledge." (Col. ii, 3, 9.)

II. Having finished that part of our subject which related to

this Union, let us now proceed to the Subordination which

subsists between these two objects. We will first inspect the

nature of this subordination, and then its necessity:

First. Its nature consists in this, that every saving

communication which God has with us, or which we have with

God, is performed by means of the intervention of Christ.

1. The communication which God holds with us is (i.) either

in his benevolent affection towards us, or, (ii.) in his

gracious decree concerning us, or, (iii.) in his saving

efficacy in us. In all these particulars, Christ comes in as

a middle man between the parties. For (i.) when God is

willing to communicate to us the affection of his goodness

and mercy, he looks upon his Anointed One, in whom, as "his

beloved, he makes us accepted, to the praise of the glory of

his grace." (Ephes. i, 6.) (ii.) When he is pleased to make

some gracious decree of his goodness and mercy, he interposes

Christ between the purpose and the accomplishment, to

announce his pleasure; for "by Jesus Christ he predestinates

us to the adoption of children." (Ephes. i, 5.) (iii.) When

he is willing out of this abundant affection to impart to us

some blessing, according to his gracious decree, it is

through the intervention of the same Divine person. For in

Christ as our Head, the Father has laid up all these

treasures and blessings; and they do not descend to us,

except through him, or rather by him, as the Father's

substitute, who administers them with authority, and

distributes them according to his own pleasure.

2. But the communication which we have with God, is also made

by the intervention of Christ. It consists of three degrees -

- access to God, cleaving to him, and the enjoyment of him.

These three particulars become the objects of our present

consideration, as it is possible for them to be brought into

action in this state of human existence, and as they may

execute their functions by means of faith, hope, and that

charity which is the offspring of faith.

(1.) Three things are necessary to this access; (i.) that God

be in a place to which we may approach; (ii.) that the path

by which we may come to him be a high-way and a safe one; and

(iii.) that liberty be granted to us and boldness of access.

All these facilities have been procured for us by the

mediation of Christ. (i.) For the Father dwelleth in light

inaccessible, and sits at a distance beyond Christ on a

throne of rigid justice, which is an object much too

formidable in appearance for the gaze of sinners; yet he hath

appointed Christ to be "apropitiation. through faith in his

blood ;" (Rom. iii, 25,) by whom the covering of the ark, and

the accusing, convincing, and condemning power of the law

which was contained in that ark, are taken away and removed

as a kind of veil from before the eyes of the Divine Majesty;

and a throne of grace has been established, on which God is

seated, "with whom in Christ we have to do." Thus has the

Father in the Son been made euwrositov "easy of access to

us." (ii.) It is the same Lord Jesus Christ who "hath not

only through his flesh consecrated for us a new and living

way," by which we may go to the Father, (Heb. x, 20,) but who

is likewise "himself the way" which leads in a direct and

unerring manner to the Father. (John xiv, 6.) (iii.) "By the

blood of Jesus" we have liberty of access, nay we are

permitted "to enter into the holiest," and even "within the

veil whither Christ, as a High Priest presiding over the

house of God and our fore runner, is entered for us,." (Heb.

v, 20,) that "we may draw near with a true heart, in the

sacred and full assurance of faith, (x, 22,) and may with

great confidence of mind "come boldly unto the throne of

grace." (iv, 16.) Have we therefore prayers to offer to God?

Christ is the High Priest who displays them before the

Father. He is also the altar from which, after being placed

on it, they will ascend as incense of a grateful odour to God

our Father. Are sacrifices of thanksgiving to be offered to

God? They must be offered through Christ, otherwise "God will

not accept them at our hands." (Mal. i, 10.) Are good works

to be performed? We must do them through the Spirit of

Christ, that they may obtain the recommendation of him as

their author; and they must be sprinkled with his blood, that

they may not be rejected by the Father on account of their


(2.) But it is not sufficient for us only to approach to God;

it is likewise good for us to cleave to him. To confirm this

act of cleaving and to give it perpetuity, it ought to depend

upon a communion of nature. But with God we have no such

communion. Christ, however, possesses it, and we are made

possessors of it with Christ, "who partook of our flesh and

blood." (Heb. ii, 14.) Being constituted our head, he imparts

unto us of his Spirit, that we, (being constituted his

members, and cleaving to him as "flesh of his flesh and bone

of his bone,") may be one with him, and through him with the

Father, and with both may become "one Spirit."

(3.) The enjoyment remains to be considered. It is a true,

solid and durable taste of the Divine goodness and sweetness

in this life, not only perceived by the mind and

understanding, but likewise by the heart, which is the seat

of all the affections. Neither does this become ours, except

in Christ, by whose Spirit dwelling in us that most divine

testimony is pronounced in our hearts, that "we are the

children of God, and heirs of eternal life." (Rom. viii, 16.)

On hearing this internal testimony, we conceive joy

ineffable, "possess our souls in hope and patience," and in

all our straits and difficulties we call upon God and cry,

Abba Father, with an earnest expectation of our final access

to God, of the consummation of our abiding in him and our

cleaving to him, (by which we shall have "all in all,") and

of the most blessed fruition, which will consist of the clear

and unclouded vision of God himself. But the third division

of our present subject, will be the proper place to treat

more fully on these topics.

Secondly. Having seen the subordination of both the objects

of Christian Theology, let us in a few words advert to its

Necessity. This derives its origin from the comparison of our

contagion and vicious depravity, with the sanctity of God

that is incapable of defilement, and with the inflexible

rigor of his justice, which completely separates us from him

by a gulf so great as to render it impossible for us to be

united together while at such a vast distance, or for a

passage to be made from us to him -- unless Christ had

trodden the wine press of the wrath of God, and by the

streams of his most precious blood, plentifully flowing from

the pressed, broken, and disparted veins of his body, had

filled up that otherwise impassable gulf, "and had purged our

consciences, sprinkled with his own blood, from all dead

works ;" (Heb. ix, 14, 22,) that, being thus sanctified, we

might approach to "the living God and might serve him without

fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days

of our life." (Luke i, 75.)

But such is the great Necessity of this subordination, that,

unless our faith be in Christ, it cannot be in God: The

Apostle Peter says, "By him we believe in God, that raised

him from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and

hope might be in God." (1 Pet., i, 21.) On this account the

faith also which we have in God, was prescribed, not by the

law, but by the gospel of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

which is properly "the word of faith" and "the word of


The consideration of this necessity is of infinite utility,

(i.) both in producing confidence in the consciences of

believers, trembling at the sight of their sins, as appears

most evidently from our preceding observations; (ii.) and in

establishing the necessity of the Christian Religion. I

account it necessary to make a few remarks on this latter

topic, because they are required by the nature of our present

purpose and of the Christian Religion itself.

I observe, therefore, that not only is the intervention of

Christ necessary to obtain salvation from God, and to impart

it unto men, but the faith of Christ is also necessary to

qualify men for receiving this salvation at his hands; not

that faith in Christ by which he may be apprehended under the

general notion of the wisdom, power, goodness and mercy of

God, but that faith which was announced by the Apostles and

recorded in their writings, and in such a saviour as was

preached by those primitive heralds of salvation.

I am not in the least influenced by the argument by which

some persons profess themselves induced to adopt the opinion,

"that a faith in Christ thus particular and restricted, which

is required from all that become the subjects of salvation,

agrees neither with the amplitude of God's mercy, nor with

the conditions of his justice, since many thousands of men

depart out of this life, before even the sound of the Gospel

of Christ has reached their ears." For the reasons and terms

of Divine Justice and Mercy are not to be determined by the

limited and shallow measure of our capacities or feelings;

but we must leave with God the free administration and just

defense of these his own attributes. The result, however,

will invariably prove to be the same, in what manner soever

he may be pleased to administer those divine properties --

for, "he will always overcome when he is judged." (Rom. iii,

4.) Out of his word we must acquire our wisdom and

information. In primary, and certain secondary matters this

word describes -- the Necessity of faith in Christ, according

to the appointment of the just mercy and the merciful justice

of God. "He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life;

and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but

the wrath of God abideth on him." (John iii, 36.) This is

not an account of the first kindling of the wrath of God

against this willful unbeliever; for he had then deserved the

most severe expressions of that wrath by the sins which he

had previously committed against the law; and this wrath

"abides upon him," on account of his continued unbelief,

because he had been favoured with the opportunity as well as

the power of being delivered from it, through faith in the

Son of God. Again: If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall

die in your sins." (John viii, 24.) And, in another passage,

Christ declares, "This is life eternal, that they might know

thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast

sent." (John xvii, 3.) The Apostle says, "It pleased God by

the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." That

preaching thus described is the doctrine of the cross, "to

the Jews a stumbling block and unto the Greeks foolishness:

But unto them which are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ

the power of God and the wisdom of God:" (1 Cor. i, 21, 23,

24.) This wisdom and this power are not those attributes

which God employed when he formed the world, for Christ is

here plainly distinguished from them; but they are the wisdom

and the power revealed in that gospel which is eminently "the

power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."

(Rom. i, 16.) Not only, therefore, is the cross of Christ

necessary to solicit and procure redemption, but the faith of

the cross is also necessary in order to obtain possession of


The necessity of faith in the cross does not arise from the

circumstance of the doctrine of the cross being preached and

propounded to men; but, since faith in Christ is necessary

according to the decree of God, the doctrine of the cross is

preached, that those who believe in it may be saved. Not only

on account of the decree of God is faith in Christ necessary,

but it is also necessary on account of the promise made unto

Christ by the Father, and according to the Covenant which was

ratified between both of them. This is the word of that

promise: "Ask of me, and I will give thee the Heathen for

thine inheritance." (Psalm ii, 8.) But the inheritance of

Christ is the multitude of the faithful; "the people, who, in

the days of his power shall willingly come to him, in the

beauties of holiness." (Psalm cx, 3.) "in thee shall all

nations be blessed; so then they which be of faith are

blessed with faithful Abraham." (Gal. iii, 8, 9 In Isaiah it

is likewise declared, "When thou shalt make his soul an

offering for sin, he shall see his seed. He shall prolong his

days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his

hands. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be

satisfied: by the knowledge of himself [which is faith in

him] shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall

bear their iniquities." (Isa. liii, 10, 11.) Christ adduces

the covenant which has been concluded with the Father, and

founds a plea upon it when he says, "Father glorify thy Son;

that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him

power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as

many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal," &c.,

&c. (John xvii, 1, 2, 3, 4.) Christ therefore by the decree,

the promise and the covenant of the Father, has been

constituted the saviour of all that believe on him, according

to the declaration of the Apostle: "And being made perfect he

became the author of eternal salvation, to all them that obey

him." (Heb. v, 9.) This is the reason why the Gentiles

without Christ are said to be "alien from the commonwealth of

Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having

no hope, and without God in the world." Yet through faith

"those who some time were thus afar off and in darkness" are

said to be made nigh, and "are now light in the Lord."

(Ephes. ii, 12, 13, and v, 8.) It is requisite, therefore,

earnestly to contend for the Necessity of the Christian

religion, as for the altar and the anchor of our salvation,

lest, after we have suffered the Son to be taken away from us

and from our Faith, we should also be deprived of the Father:

"For whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the

Father." (1 John ii, 23.) But if we in the slightest degree

connive at the diminution or limitation of this Necessity,

Christ himself will be brought into contempt among

Christians, his own professing people; and will at length be

totally denied and universally renounced. For it is not an

affair of difficulty to take away the merit of salvation, and

the power to save from Him to whom we are not compelled by

any necessity to offer our oaths of allegiance. Who believes,

that it is not necessary to return thanks to him who has

conferred a benefit? Nay, who will not openly and confidently

profess, that he is not the Author of salvation whom it is

not necessary to acknowledge in that capacity. The union,

therefore, of both the objects, God and Christ, must be

strongly urged and enforced in our Christian Theology; nor is

it to be endured that under any pretext they be totally

detached and removed from each other, unless we wish Christ

himself to be separated and withdrawn from us, and for us to

be deprived at once of him and of our own salvation.

The present subject would require us briefly to present to

your sight all and each of those parts of which the

consideration of this object ought to consist, and the order

in which they should be placed before our eyes; but I am

unwilling to detain this most famous and crowded auditory by

a more prolix oration.

Since, therefore, thus wonderfully great are the dignity,

majesty, splendour and plenitude of Theology, and especially

of our Christian Theology, by reason of its double object

which is God and Christ, it is just and proper that all those

who glory in the title of "men formed in the image of God,"

or in the far more august title of "Christians" and "men

regenerated after the image of God and Christ, should most

seriously and with ardent desire apply themselves to the

knowledge of this Theology; and that they should think no

object more worthy, pleasant, or useful than this, to engage

their labourious attention or to awaken their energies. For

what is more worthy of man, who is the image of God, than to

be perpetually reflecting itself on its great archetype? What

can be more pleasant, than to be continually irradiated and

enlightened by the salutary beams of his Divine Pattern? What

is more useful than, by such illumination, to be assimilated

yet more and more to the heavenly Original? Indeed there is

not any thing the knowledge of which can be more useful than

this is, in the very search for it; or, when discovered, can

be more profitable to the possessor. What employment is more

becoming and honourable in a creature, a servant, and a son

than to spend whole days and nights in obtaining a knowledge

of God his Creator, his Lord, and his Father? What can be

more decorous and comely in those who are redeemed by the

blood of Christ, and who are sanctified by his Spirit, than

diligently and constantly to meditate upon Christ, and always

to carry him about in their minds, and hearts, and also on

their tongues?

I am fully aware that this animal life requires the discharge

of various functions; that the superintendence of them must

be entrusted to those persons who will execute each of them

to the common advantage of the republic; and that the

knowledge necessary for the right management of all such

duties, can only be acquired by continued study and much

labour. But if the very persons to whom the management of

these concerns has been officially committed, will

acknowledge the important principle -- that in preference to

all others, those things should be sought which appertain to

the kingdom of God and his righteousness, (Matt. vi, 33,)

they will confess that their ease and leisure, their

meditations and cares, should yield the precedence to this

momentous study. Though David himself was the king of a

numerous people, and entangled in various wars, yet he never

ceased to cultivate and pursue this study in preference to

all others. To the benefit which he had derived from such a

judicious practice, he attributes the portion of wisdom which

he had obtained, and which was "greater than that of his

enemies." (Psalm cxix, 98,) and by it also "he had more

understanding than all his teachers." (99.) The three most

noble treatises which Solomon composed, are to the present

day read by the Church with admiration and thanksgiving; and

they testify the great advantage which the royal author

obtained from a knowledge of Divine things, while he was the

chief magistrate of the same people on the throne of his

Father. But since, according to the opinion of a Roman

Emperor, "nothing is more difficult than to govern well" what

just cause will any one be able to offer for the neglect of a

study, to which even kings could devote their time and

attention. Nor is it wonderful that they acted thus; for they

addicted themselves to this profitable and pleasant study by

the command of God; and the same Divine command has been

imposed upon all and each of us, and is equally binding. It

is one of Plato's observations, that "commonwealths would at

length enjoy happiness and prosperity, either when their

princes and ministers of state become philosophers, or when

philosophers were chosen as ministers of state and conducted

the affairs of government." We may transfer this sentiment

with far greater justice to Theology, which is the true and

only wisdom in relation to things Divine.

But these our admonitions more particularly concern you, most

excellent and learned youths, who, by the wish of your

parents or patrons, and at your own express desire, have been

devoted, set apart, and consecrated to this study; not to

cultivate it merely with diligence, for the sake of promoting

your own salvation, but that you may at some future period be

qualified to engage in the eligible occupation, (which is

most pleasing to God,) of teaching, instructing, and edifying

the Church of the saints -- "which is the body of Christ, and

the fullness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephes. i, 23.)

Let the extent and the majesty of the object, which by a

deserved right engages all our powers, be constantly placed

before your eyes; and suffer nothing to be accounted more

glorious than to spend whole days and nights in acquiring a

knowledge of God and his Christ, since true and allowable

glories consists in this Divine knowledge. Reflect what great

concerns those must be into which angels desire to look.

Consider, likewise, that you are now forming an entrance for

yourselves into a communion, at least of name, with these

heavenly beings, and that God will in a little time call you

to the employment for which you are preparing, which is one

great object of my hopes and wishes concerning you.

Propose to yourselves for imitation that chosen instrument of

Christ, the Apostle Paul, whom you with the greater

willingness acknowledge as your teacher, and who professes

himself to be inflamed with such an intense desire of knowing

Christ, that he not only held every worldly thing in small

estimation when put in competition with this knowledge, but

also "suffered the loss of all things, that he might win the

knowledge of Christ." (Phil. iii, 8.) Look at Timothy, his

disciple, whom he felicitates on this account -- "that from a

child he had known the holy scriptures." (2 Tim. iii, 15.)

You have already attained to a share of the same blessedness;

and you will make further advances in it, if you determine to

receive the admonitions, and to execute the charge, which

that great teacher of the Gentiles addresses to his Timothy.

But this study requires not only diligence, but holiness, and

a sincere desire to please God. For the object which you

handle, into which you are looking, and which you wish to

know, is sacred -- nay, it is the holy of holies. To pollute

sacred things, is highly indecent; it is desirable that the

persons by whom such things are administered, should

communicate to them no taint of defilement. The ancient

Gentiles when about to offer sacrifice were accustomed to


"Far, far from hence, let the profane depart!"

This caution should be re-iterated by you, for a more solid

and lawful reason when you proceed to offer sacrifices to God

Most High, and to his Christ, before whom also the holy choir

of angels repeat aloud that thrice-hallowed song, "Holy,

holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!" While you are engaged in this

study, do not suffer your minds to be enticed away by other

pursuits and to different objects. Exercise yourselves,

continue to exercise yourselves in this, with a mind intent

upon what has been proposed to you according to the design of

this discourse. If you do this, in the course of a short time

you will not repent of your labour; but you will make such

progress in the way of the knowledge of the Lord, as will

render you useful to others. For "the secret of the Lord, is

with them that fear him." (Psalm xxv, 14) Nay, from the very

circumstance of this unremitting attention, you will be

enabled to declare, that you "have chosen the good part which

alone shall not be taken away from you," (Luke x, 42) but

which will daily receive fresh increase. Your minds will be

so expanded by the knowledge of God and of his Christ, that

they will hereafter become a most ample habitation for God

and Christ through the Spirit. I have finished.



They who are conversant with the demonstrative species of

oratory, and choose for themselves any subject of praise or

blame, must generally be engaged in removing from themselves,

what very readily assails the minds of their auditors, a

suspicion that they are impelled to speak by some immoderate

feeling of love or hatred; and in showing that they are

influenced rather by an approved judgment of the mind; and

that they have not followed the ardent flame of their will,

but the clear light of their understanding, which accords

with the nature of the subject which they are discussing. But

to me such a course is not necessary. For that which I have

chosen for the subject of my commendation, easily removes

from me all ground for such a suspicion.

I do not deny, that here indeed I yield to the feeling of

love; but it is on a matter which if any one does not love,

he hates himself, and perfidiously prostitutes the life of

his soul. Sacred Theology is the subject whose excellence and

dignity I now celebrate in this brief and unadorned Oration;

and which, I am convinced, is to all of you an object of the

greatest regard. Nevertheless, I wish to raise it, if

possible, still higher in your esteem. This, indeed, its own

merit demands; this the nature of my office requires. Nor is

it any part of my study to amplify its dignity by ornaments

borrowed from other objects; for to the perfection of its

beauty can be added nothing extraneous that would not tend to

its degradation and loss of its comeliness. I only display

such ornaments as are, of themselves, its best

recommendation. These are, its Object, its Author, its End

and its Certainty. Concerning the Object, we have already

declared whatever the Lord had imparted; and we will now

speak of its Author and its End. God grant that I may ,follow

the guidance of this Theology in all respects, and may

advance nothing except what agrees with its nature, is worthy

of God and useful to you, to the glory of his name, and to

the uniting of all of us together in the Lord. I pray and

beseech you also, my most excellent and courteous hearers,

that you will listen to me, now when I am beginning to speak

on the Author, and the End of Theology, with the same degree

of kindness and attention as that which you evinced when you

heard my preceding discourse on its Object.

Being about to treat of the Author, I will not collect

together the lengthened reports of his well merited praises,

for with you this is unnecessary. I will only declare (1.)

Who the Author is; (2.) In what respect he is to be

considered; (3.) Which of his properties were employed by him

in the revelation of Theology; and (4.) In what manner he has

made it know.

I. We have considered the Object of Theology in regard to two

particulars. And that each part of our subject may properly

and exactly answer to the other, we may also consider its

Author in a two-fold respect -- that of Legal and of

Evangelical Theology. In both cases, the same person is the

Author and the Object, and the person who reveals the

doctrine is likewise its matter and argument. This is a

peculiarity that belongs to no other of the numerous

sciences. For although all of them may boast of God, as their

Author, because he a God of knowledge; yet, as we have seen,

they have some other object than God, which something is

indeed derived from him and of his production. But they do

not partake of God as their efficient cause, in an equal

manner with this doctrine, which, for a particular reason,

and one entirely distinct from that of the other sciences,

lays claim to God , its Author. God, therefore, is the author

of Legal Theology; God and his Christ, or God in and through

Christ, is the Author of that which is evangelical. For to

this the scripture bears witness, and thus the very nature of

the object requires, both of which we will separately


1. Scripture describes to us the Author of legal theology

before the fall in these words: "And the Lord God commanded

the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest

freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and

evil, thou shalt not eat of it:" (Gen. ii, 16, 17.) A threat

was added in express words, in case the man should

transgress, and a promise, in the type of the tree of life,

if he complied with the command. But there are two things,

which, as they preceded this act of legislation, should have

been previously known by man: (1.) The nature of God, which

is wise, good, just, and powerful; (2.) The authority by

which he issues his commands, the right of which rests on the

act of creation. Of both these, man had a previous knowledge,

from the manifestation of God, who familiarly conversed with

him, and held communication with his own image through that

Spirit by whose inspiration he said, "This is now bone of my

bones, and flesh of my flesh." (Gen. ii, 23.) The apostle

has attributed the knowledge of both these things to faith,

and, therefore, to the manifestation of God. He speaks of the

former in these words: "For he that cometh to God must have

believed [so I read it,] that he is, and that he is a

rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Heb. xi, 6.) If

a rewarder, therefore, he is a wise, good, just, powerful,

and provident guardian of human affairs. Of the latter, he

speaks thus: "Through faith we understand that the world was

framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were

not made of things which do appear." (Heb. xi, 3.) And

although that is not expressly and particularly stated of the

moral law, in the primeval state of man; yet when it is

affirmed of the typical and ceremonial law, it must be also

understood in reference to the moral law. For the typical and

ceremonial law was an experiment of obedience to the moral

law, that was to be tried on man, and the acknowledgement of

his obligation to obey the moral law. This appears still more

evidently in the repetition of the moral law by Moses after

the fall, which was specially made known to the people of

Israel in these words: "And God spake all these words :"

(Exod. xx, 1,) and "What nation is there so great that hath

statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I

set before you this day," (Deut. iv, 8.) But Moses set it

before them according to the manifestation of God to him, and

in obedience to his command, as he says: "The secret things

belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are

revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we

may do all the words of this law." (Deut. xxix, 29.) And

according to Paul, "That which may be known of God, is

manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them." (Rom. i,


2. The same thing is evinced by the nature of the object. For

since God is the Author of the universe, (and that, not by a

natural and internal operation, but by one that is voluntary

and external, and that imparts to the work as much as he

chooses of his own, and as much as the nothing, from which it

is produced, will permit,) his excellence and dignity must

necessarily far exceed the capacity of the universe, and, for

the same reason, that of man. On this account, he is said in

scripture, "to dwell in the light unto which no man can

approach," (1 Tim. vi, 16,) which strains even the most acute

sight of any creature, by a brightness so great and dazzling,

that the eye is blunted and overpowered, and would soon be

blinded unless God, by some admirable process of attempering

that blaze of light, should offer himself to the view of his

creatures: This is the very manifestation before which

darkness is said to have fixed its habitation.

Nor is he himself alone inaccessible, but, as the heavens are

higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways,

and his thoughts than our thoughts." (Isa. lv, 9.) The

actions of God are called "the ways of God," and the creation

especially is called "the beginning of the way of God,"

(Prov. 8,) by which God began, as it were, to arise and to go

forth from the throne of his majesty. Those actions,

therefore, could not have been made known and understood, in

the manner in which it is allowable to know and understand

them, except by the revelation of God. This was also

indicated before, in the term "faith" which the apostle

employed. But the thoughts of God, and his will, (both that

will which he wishes to be done by us, and that which he has

resolved to do concerning us,) are of free disposition, which

is determined by the divine power and liberty inherent in

himself; and since he has, in all this, called in the aid of

no counselor, those thoughts and that will are of necessity

"unsearchable and past finding out." (Rom. xi, 33.) Of these,

Legal Theology consists; and as they could not be known

before the revelation of them proceeded from God, it is

evidently proved that God is its Author.

To this truth all nations and people assent. What compelled

Radamanthus and Minos, those most equitable kings of Crete,

to enter the dark cave of Jupiter, and pretend that the laws

which they had promulgated among their subjects, were brought

from that cave, at the inspiration of Deity? It was because

they knew those laws would not meet with general reception,

unless they were believed to have been divinely communicated.

Before Lycurgus began the work of legislation for his

Lacedaemonians, imitating the example of those two kings, he

went to Apollo at Delphos, that he might, on his return,

confer on his laws the highest recommendation by means of the

authority of the Delphic Oracle. To induce the ferocious

minds of the Roman people to submit to religion, Numa

Pompilius feigned that he had nocturnal conferences with the

goddess Aegeria. These were positive and evident testimonies

of a notion which had preoccupied the minds of men, "that no

religion except one of divine origin, and deriving its

principles from heaven, deserved to be received." Such a

truth they considered this, "that no one could know God, or

any thing concerning God, except through God himself."

2. Let us now look at Evangelical Theology. We have made the

Author of it to be Christ and God, at the command of the same

scriptures as those which establish the divine claims of

Legal Theology, and because the nature of the object requires

it with the greater justice, in proportion as that object is

the more deeply hidden in the abyss of the divine wisdom, and

as the human mind is the more closely surrounded and

enveloped with the shades of ignorance.

(1.) Exceedingly numerous are the passages of scripture which

serve to aid and strengthen us in this opinion. We will

enumerate a few of them: First, those which ascribe the

manifestation of this doctrine to God the Father; Then, those

which ascribe it to Christ. "But we" says the apostle, "speak

the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which

God ordained before the world unto our glory. But God hath

revealed it unto us by his Spirit." (1 Cor. ii, 7,10.) The

same apostle says, "The gospel and the preaching of Jesus

Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was

kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest

by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the

commandment of the everlasting God." (Rom. xvi, 25, 26.)

When Peter made a correct and just confession of Christ, it

was said to him by the saviour, "Flesh and blood hath not

revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."

(Matt. xvi, 17.) John the Baptist attributed the same to

Christ, saying, "The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom

of the Father, be hath declared God to us." (John i, 18.)

Christ also ascribed this manifestation to himself in these

words: "No man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither

knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever

the Son will reveal him." (Matt. xi, 17.) And, in another

place, "I have manifested thy name unto the men whom thou

gavest me out of the world, and they have believed that thou

didst send me." (John xvii, 6, 8.)

(2.) Let us consider the necessity of this manifestation from

the nature of its Object.

This is indicated by Christ when speaking of Evangelical

Theology, in these words: "No man knoweth the Son but the

Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son."

(Matt. xi, 27.) Therefore no man can reveal the Father or

the Son, and yet in the knowledge of them are comprised the

glad tidings of the gospel. The Baptist is an assertor of the

necessity of this manifestation when he declares, that "No

man hath seen God at any time." (John i, 18.) It is the

wisdom belonging to this Theology, which is said by the

Apostle to be "hidden in a mystery, which none of the princes

of this world knew, and which eye hath not seen, nor ear

heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man." (1

Cor. ii, 7, 8, 9.) It does not come within the cognizance of

the understanding, and is not mixed up, as it were, with the

first notions or ideas impressed on the mind at the period of

its creation; it is not acquired in conversation or

reasoning; but it is made known "in the words which the Holy

Ghost teacheth." To this Theology belongs "that manifold

wisdom of God which must be made known by the Church unto the

principalities and powers in heavenly places," (Ephes. iii,

10,) otherwise it would remain unknown even to the angels

themselves. What! Are the deep things of God "which no man

knoweth but the Spirit of God which is in himself," explained

by this doctrine? Does it also unfold "the length and

breadth, and depth and height" of the wisdom of God? As the

Apostle speaks in another passage, in a tone of the most

impassioned admiration, and almost at a loss what words to

employ in expressing the fullness of this Theology, in which

are proposed, as objects of discovery, "the love of Christ

which passeth knowledge, and the peace of God which passeth

all understanding." (Ephes. iii, 18.) From these passages it

most evidently appears, that the Object of Evangelical

Theology must have been revealed by God and Christ, or it

must otherwise have remained hidden and surrounded by

perpetual darkness; or, (which is the same thing,) that

Evangelical Theology would not have come within the range of

our knowledge, and, on that account, as a necessary

consequence, there could have been none at all.

If it be an agreeable occupation to any person, (and such it

must always prove,) to look more methodically and distinctly

through each part, let him cast the eyes of his mind on those

properties of the Divine Nature which this Theology displays,

clothed in their own appropriate mode; let him consider those

action of God which this doctrine brings to light, and that

will of God which he has revealed in his gospel: When he has

done this, (and of much more than this the subject is

worthy,) he will more distinctly understand the necessity of

the Divine manifestation.

If any one would adopt a compendious method, let him only

contemplate Christ; and when he has diligently observed that

admirable union of the Word and Flesh, his investiture into

office and the manner in which its duties were executed; when

he has at the same time reflected, that the whole of these

arrangements and proceedings are in consequence of the

voluntary economy, regulation, and free dispensation of God;

he cannot avoid professing openly, that the knowledge of all

these things could not have been obtained except by means of

the revelation of God and Christ.

But lest any one should take occasion, from the remarks which

we have now made, to entertain an unjust suspicion or error,

as though God the Father alone, to the exclusion of the Son,

were the Author of the legal doctrine, and the Father through

the Son were the Author of the Evangelical doctrine -- a few

observations shall be added, that may serve to solve this

difficulty, and further to illustrate the matter of our

discourse. As God by his Word, (which is his own Son,) and by

his Spirit, created all things, and man according to the

image of himself, so it is likewise certain, that no

intercourse can take place between him and man, without the

agency of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. How is this

possible, since the ad extra works of the Deity are

indivisible, and when the order of operation ad extra is the

same as the order of procession ad intra? We do not,

therefore, by any means exclude the Son as the Word of the

Father, and the Holy Ghost who is "the Spirit of Prophecy,"

from efficiency in this revelation.

But there is another consideration in the manifestation of

the gospel, not indeed with respect to the persons

testifying, but in regard to the manner in which they come to

be considered. For the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

have not only a natural relation among themselves, but

another likewise which derives its origin from the will; yet

the latter entirely agrees with the natural relation that

subsists among them. There is an internal procession in the

persons; and there is an external one, which is called in the

scriptures and in the writings of the Father, by the name of

"Mission" or "sending." To the latter mode of procession,

special regard must be had in this revelation. For the Father

manifests the Gospel through his Son and Spirit. (i.) He

manifests it through the Son, as to his being, sent for the

purpose of performing the office of Mediator between God and

sinful men; as to his being the Word made flesh, and God

manifest in the flesh; and as to his having died, and to his

being raised again to life, whether that was done in reality,

or only in the decree and foreknowledge of God. (ii.) He also

manifests it through his Spirit, as to his being the Spirit

of Christ, whom he asked of his Father by his passion and his

death, and whom he obtained when he was raised from the dead,

and placed at the right hand of the Father.

I think you will understand the distinction which I imagine

to be here employed: I will afford you an opportunity to

examine and prove it, by adducing the clearest passages of

scripture to aid us in confirming it. (I.) "All things," said

Christ, "are delivered to me of my Father; and no man knoweth

the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father,

save the Son." (Matt. xi, 27.) They were delivered by the

Father, to him as the Mediator, "in whom it was his pleasure

that all fullness should dwell." (Col. i, 19. See also ii,

9.) In the same sense must be understood what Christ says in

John: "I have given unto them the words which thou gavest

me;" for it is subjoined, "and they have known surely that I

came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst

send me." (xvii, 8.) From hence it appears, that the Father

had given those words to him as the Mediator: on which

account he says, in another place, "He whom God hath sent,

speaketh the words of God." (John iii, 34.) With this the

saying of the Baptist agrees, "The law was given by Moses,

but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John i, 17.) But

in reference to his being opposed to Moses, who accuses and

condemns sinners, Christ is considered as the Mediator

between God and sinners. The following passage tends to the

same point: "No man hath seen God at any time: the only

begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father," [that is,

"admitted," in his capacity of Mediator, to the intimate and

confidential view and knowledge of his Father's secrets,] "he

hath declared him:" (John i, 18.) "For the Father loveth the

Son, and hath given all things into his hand;" (John iii,

35,) and among the things thus given, was the doctrine of the

gospel, which he was to expound and declare to others, by the

command of God the Father. And in every revelation which has

been made to us through Christ, that expression which occurs

in the beginning of the Apocalypse of St. John holds good and

is of the greatest validity: "The revelation of Jesus Christ,

which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants." God has

therefore manifested Evangelical Theology through his Son, in

reference to his being sent forth by the Father, to execute

among men, and in his name, the office of Mediator.

(ii.) Of the Holy Spirit the same scripture testifies, that,

as the Spirit of Christ the Mediator, who is the head of his

church, he has revealed the Gospel. "Christ, by the Spirit,"

says Peter, "went and preached to the spirits in prison." (1

Pet. iii, 19.) And what did he preach? Repentance. This

therefore, was done through his Spirit, in his capacity of

Mediator, For, in this respect alone, the Spirit of God

exhorts to repentance. This appears more clearly from the

Same Apostle: "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired

and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that

should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time,

the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it

testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory

that should follow." And this was the Spirit of Christ in his

character of Mediator and head of the Church, which the very

object of the testimony foretold by him sufficiently evinces.

A succeeding passage excludes all doubt; for the gospel is

said in it, to be preached by the Holy Ghost sent down from

heaven." (1 Pet. i, 12.) For he was sent down by Christ when

he was elevated at the right hand of God, as it is mentioned

in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles; which

passage also makes for our purpose, and on that account

deserves to have its just meaning here appreciated. This is

its phraseology, "Therefore, being by the right hand of God

exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the

Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and

hear." (Acts ii, 33.) For it was by the Spirit that the

Apostles prophesied and spoke in divers languages. These

passages might suffice; but I cannot omit that most noble

sentence spoken by Christ to console the minds of his

disciples, who were grieving on account of his departure, "If

I go not away the Comforter [or rather, 'the Advocate, who

shall, in my place, discharge the vicarious office,' as

Tertullian expresses himself;] If I go not away, the

Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will

send him unto you. And when he is come he will reprove the

world, &c. (John xvi, 7, 8.) He shall glorify me: For he

shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Christ,

therefore, as Mediator, "will send him," and he "will receive

of that which belongs to Christ the Mediator. He shall

glorify Christ," as constituted by God the Mediator and the

Head of the Church; and he shall glorify him with that glory,

which, according to the seventeenth chapter of St. John's

Gospel , Christ thought it necessary to ask of his Father.

That passage brings another to my recollection, which may be

called its parallel in merit: John says, "The Holy Ghost was

not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

(vii, 39.) This remark was not to be understood of the person

of the Spirit, but of his gifts, and especially that of

prophecy. But Christ was glorified in quality of Mediator:

and in that glorified capacity he sends the Holy Ghost;

therefore, the Holy Spirit was sent by Christ as the

Mediator. On this account also, the Spirit of Christ the

Mediator is the Author of Evangelical Prophecy. But the Holy

Ghost was sent, even before the glorification of Christ, to

reveal the Gospel. The existing state of the Church required

it at that period, and the Holy Spirit was sent to meet that

necessity. "Christ is likewise the same yesterday, today and

forever." (Heb. xiii, 8.) He was also "slain from the

foundation of the world;" (Rev. xiii, 8,) and was, therefore,

at that same time raised again and glorified; but this was

all in the decree and fore-knowledge of God. To make it

evident, however, that God has never sent the Holy Spirit to

the Church, except through the agency of Christ the Mediator,

and in regard to him, God deferred that plentiful and

exuberant effusion of his most copious gifts, until Christ,

after his exaltation to heaven, should send them down in a

communication of the greatest abundance. Thus he testified by

a clear and evident proof, that he had formerly poured out

the gifts of the Spirit upon the Church, by the same person,

as he by whom, (when through his ascension the dense and

overcharged cloud of water above the heavens had been

disparted,) he poured down the most plentiful showers of his

graces, inundating and over spreading the whole body of the


III. But the revelation of Evangelical Theology is attributed

to Christ in regard to his Mediatorship, and to the Holy

Ghost in regard to his being the appointed substitute and

Advocate of Christ the Mediator. This is done most

consistently and for a very just reason, both because Christ,

as Mediator, is placed for the ground-work of this doctrine,

and because in the duty of mediation those actions were to be

performed, those sufferings endured, and those blessings

asked and obtained, which complete a goodly portion of the

matters that are disclosed in the gospel of Christ. No

wonder, therefore, that Christ in this respect, (in which he

is himself the object of the gospel,) should likewise be the

revealer of it, and the person who asks and procures all

evangelical graces, and who is at once the Lord of them and

the communicator. And since the Spirit of Christ, our

Mediator and our head, is the bond of our union with Christ,

from which we also obtain communion with Christ, and a

participation in all his blessings -- it is just and

reasonable, that, in the respect which we have just

mentioned, Christ should reveal to our minds, and seal upon

our hearts, the evangelical charter and evidence of that

faith by which he dwelleth in our hearts. The consideration

of this matter exhibits to us (1.) the cause why it is

possible for God to restrain himself with such great

forbearance, patience, and long suffering, until the gospel

is obeyed by those to whom it is preached; and (2.) it

affords great consolation to our ignorance and infirmities.

I think, my hearers, you perceive that this single view adds

no small degree of dignity to our Evangelical Theology,

beside that which it possesses from the common consideration

of its Author. If we may be allowed further to consider what

wisdom, goodness and power God expended when he instituted

and revealed this Theology, it will give great importance to

our proposition. Indeed, all kinds of sciences have their

origin in the wisdom of God, and are communicated to men by

his goodness and power. But, if it be his right, (as it

undoubtedly is,) to appoint gradations in the external

exercise of his divine properties, we shall say, that all

other sciences except this, have arisen from an inferior

wisdom of God, and have been revealed by a less degree of

goodness and power. It is proper to estimate this matter

according to the excellence of its object. As the wisdom of

God, by which he knows himself, is greater than that by which

he knows other things; so the wisdom employed by him in the

manifestation of himself is greater than that employed in the

manifestation of other things. The goodness by which he

permits himself to be known and acknowledged by man as his

Chief Good, is greater than that by which he imparts the

knowledge of other things. The power also, by which nature is

raised to the knowledge of supernatural things, is greater

than that by which it is brought to investigate things that

are of the same species and origin with itself. Therefore,

although all the sciences may boast of God as their author,

yet in these particulars, Theology, soaring above the whole,

leaves them at an immense distance.

But as this consideration raises the dignity of Theology, on

the whole far above all other sciences, so it likewise

demonstrates that Evangelical far surpasses Legal Theology;

on which point we may be allowed, with your good leave, to

dwell a little. The wisdom, goodness and power, by which God

made man, after his own image, to consist of a rational soul

and a body, are great, and constitute the claims to

precedence on the part of Legal Theology. But the wisdom,

goodness and power, by which "the Word was made flesh," (John

i, 14,) and God was manifest in the flesh," (1 Tim. iii, 16,)

and by which he "who was in the form of God took upon himself

the form of a servant," (Phil. ii, 7,) are still greater, and

they are the claims by which Evangelical Theology asserts its

right to precedence. The wisdom and goodness, by the

operation of which the power of God has been revealed to

salvation, are great; but that by which is revealed "the

power of God to salvation to every one that believeth," (Rom.

ii, 16,) far exceeds it. Great indeed are the wisdom and

goodness by which the righteousness of God by the law is made

manifest," and by which the justification of the law was

ascribed of debt to perfect obedience; but they are

infinitely surpassed by the wisdom and goodness through which

the righteousness of God by faith is manifested, and through

which it is determined that the man is justified "that

worketh not, but [being a sinner,] believeth on him who

justifieth the ungodly," according to the most glorious

riches of his grace. Conspicuous and excellent were the

wisdom and goodness which appointed the manner of union with

God in legal righteousness, performed out of conformity to

the image of God, after which man was created. But a solemn

and substantial triumph is achieved through faith in Christ's

blood by the wisdom and goodness, which, having devised and

executed the wonderful method of qualifying justice and

mercy, appoint the manner of union in Christ., and in his

righteousness, "who is the brightness of his Father's glory

and the express image of his person." (Heb. i, 3.) Lastly, it

is the wisdom, goodness and power, which, out of the thickest

darkness of ignorance brought forth the marvelous light of

the gospel; which, from an infinite multitude of sins,

brought in everlasting righteousness; and which, from death

and the depths of hell, "brought life and immortality to

light." The wisdom, goodness and power which have produced

these effects, exceed those in which the light that is added

to light, the righteousness that is rewarded by a due

recompense, and the animal life that is regulated according

to godliness by the command of the law, are each of them

swallowed up and consummated in that which is spiritual and


A deeper consideration of this matter almost compels me to

adopt a more confident daring, and to give to the wisdom,

goodness and power of God, which are unfolded in Legal

Theology, the title of Natural," and as in some sense the

beginning of the going forth of God towards his image, which

is man, and a commencement of Divine intercourse with him.

The others, which are manifested in the gospel, I fearlessly

call "Supernatural wisdom, power and goodness," and "the

extreme point and the perfect completion of all revelation;"

because in the manifestation of the latter, God appears to

have excelled himself, and to have unfolded every one of his

blessings. Admirable was the kindness of God, and most

stupendous his condescension in admitting man to the most

intimate communion with himself -- a privilege full of grace

and mercy, after his sins had rendered him unworthy of having

the establishment of such an intercourse. But this was

required by the unhappy and miserable condition of man, who

through his greater unworthiness had become the more

indigent, through his deeper blindness required illumination

by a stronger light, through his more grievous wickedness

demanded reformation by means of a more extensive goodness,

and who, the weaker he had become, needed a stronger exertion

of power for his restoration and establishment. It is also a

happy circumstance, that no aberration of ours can be so

great, as to prevent God from recalling us into the good way;

no fall so deep, as to disable him from raising us up and

causing us to stand erect; and no evil of ours can be of such

magnitude, as to prove a difficult conquest to his goodness,

provided it be his pleasure to put the whole of it in motion;

and this he will actually do, provided we suffer our

ignorance and infirmities to be corrected by his light and

power, and our wickedness to be subdued by his goodness.

IV. We have seen that, (1.) God is the Author of Legal

Theology; and God and his Christ, that of Evangelical

Theology. We have seen at the same time (2.) in what respect

God and Christ are to be viewed in making known this

revelation, and (3.) according to what properties of the

Divine Nature of both of them it has been perfected.

We will now just glance at the Manner. The manner of the

Divine manifestation appears to be threefold, according , the

three instruments or organs of our capacity. (1.) The

External Senses, (2.) The Inward Fancy or Imagination, and

(3.) The Mind or Understanding. God sometimes reveals himself

and his will by an image or representation offered to the

external sight, or through an audible speech or discourse

addressed to the ear. Sometimes he introduces himself by the

same method to the imagination; and sometimes he addresses

the mind in a manner ineffable, which is called Inspiration.

Of all these modes scripture most clearly supplies us with

luminous examples. But time will not permit me to be detained

in enumerating them, lest I should appear to be yet more

tedious to this most accomplished assembly.


We have been engaged in viewing the Author,: let us now

advert to the End. This is the more eminent and divine

according to the greater excellence of that matter of which

it is the end. In that light, therefore, this science is far

more illustrious and transcendent than all others; because it

alone has a relation to the life that is spiritual and

supernatural, and has an End beyond the boundaries of the

present life: while all other sciences have respect to this

animal life, and each has an End proposed to itself,

extending from the center of this earthly life and included

within its circumference. Of this science, then, that may be

truly said which the poet declared concerning his wise

friend, "For those things alone he feels any relish, the rest

like shadows fly." I repeat it, "they fly away," unless they

be referred to this science, and firmly fix their foot upon

it and be at rest. But the same person who is the Author and

Object, is also the End of Theology. The very proportion and

analogy of these things make such a connection requisite. For

since the Author is the First and the Chief Being, it is of

necessity that he be the First and Chief Good. He is,

therefore, the extreme End of all things. And since He, the

Chief Being and the Chief Good, subjects, lowers and spreads

himself out, as an object to some power or faculty of a

rational creature, that by its action or motion it may be

employed and occupied concerning him, nay, that it may in a

sense be united with him; it cannot possibly be, that the

creature, after having performed its part respecting that

object, should fly beyond it and extend itself further for

the sake of acquiring a greater good. It is, therefore, of

necessity that it restrain itself within him, not only as

within a boundary beyond which it is impossible for it to

pass on account of the infinitude of the object and on

account of its own importance, but also as within its End and

its Good, beyond which, because they are both the Chief in

degree, it neither wishes nor is capable of desiring

anything; provided this object be united with it as far as

the capacity of the creature will admit. God is, therefore,

the End of our Theology, proposed by God himself, in the acts

prescribed in it; intended by man in the performance of those

actions, and to be bestowed by God, after man shall have

piously and religiously performed his duty. But because the

chief good was not placed in the promise of it, nor in the

desire of obtaining it, but in actually receiving it, the end

of Theology may with the utmost propriety be called THE UNION


But it is not an Essential union, as if two essences, (for

instance that of God and man,) were compacted together or

joined into one, or as that by which man might himself be

absorbed into God. The former of these modes of union is

prohibited by the very nature of the things so united, and

the latter is rejected by the nature of the union. Neither is

it a formal union, as if God by that union might be made in

the form of man, like a Spirit united to a body imparting to

it life and motion, and acting upon it at pleasure, although,

by dwelling in the body, it should confer on man the gift of

life eternal. But it is an objective union by which God,

through the agency of his pre-eminent and most faithful

faculties and actions, (all of which he wholly occupies and

completely fills,) gives such convincing proofs of himself to

man, that God may then be said to be "all in all." (1 Cor.

xv, 21.) This union is immediate, and without any bond that

is different to the limits themselves. For God unites himself

to the understanding and to the will of his creature, by

means of himself alone, and without the intervention of

image, species or appearance. This is what the nature of this

last and supreme union requires, as being that in which

consists the Chief Good of a rational creature, which cannot

find rest except in the greatest union of itself with God.

But by this union, the understanding beholds in the clearest

vision, and as if "face to face," God himself, and all his

goodness and incomparable beauty. And because a good of such

magnitude and known by the clearest vision cannot fail of

being loved on its own account; from this very consideration

the will embraces it with a more intense love, in proportion

to the greater degree of knowledge of it which the mind has


But here a double difficulty presents itself, which must

first be removed, in order that our feet may afterwards

without stumbling run along a path that will then appear

smooth and to have been for some time well trodden. (1.) The

one is, "How can it be that the eye of the human

understanding does not become dim and beclouded when an

object of such transcendent light is presented to it?" (2.)

The other is, "How can the understanding, although its eye

may not be dim and blinded, receive and contain that object

in such great measure and proportion?" The cause of the first

is, that the light exhibits itself to the understanding not

in the infinity of its own nature, but in a form that is

qualified and attempered. And to what is it thus

accommodated? Is it not to the understanding? Undoubtedly, to

the understanding; but not according to the capacity which it

possessed before the union: otherwise it could not receive

and contain as much as would suffice to fill it and make it

happy. But it is attempered according to the measure of its

extension and enlargement, to admit of which the

understanding is exquisitely formed, if it be enlightened and

irradiated by the gracious and glorious shining of the light

accommodated to that expansion. If it be thus enlightened,

the eye of the understanding will not be overpowered and

become dim, and it will receive that object in such a vast

proportion as will most abundantly suffice to make man

completely happy. This is a solution for both these

difficulties. But an extension of the understanding will be

followed by an enlargement of the will, either from a proper

and adequate object offered to it, and accommodated to the

same rule; or, (which I prefer,) from the native agreement of

the will and understanding, and the analogy implanted in both

of them, according to which the understanding extends itself

to acts of volition, in the very proportion of its

understanding and knowledge. In this act of the mind and will

-- in seeing a present God, in loving him, and therefore in

the enjoyment of him, the salvation of man and his perfect

happiness consist. To which is added , conformation of our

body itself to this glorious state of soul, which, whether it

be effected by the immediate action of God on the body, or by

means of an agency resulting from the action of the soul on

the body, it is neither necessary for us here to inquire, nor

at this time to discover. From hence also arises and shines

forth illustriously the chief and infinite glory of God, far

surpassing all other glory, that he has displayed in every

preceding function which he administered. For since that

action is truly great and glorious which is good, and since

goodness alone obtains the title of "greatness," according to

that elegant saying, to eu mega then indeed the best action

of God is the greatest and the most glorious. But that is the

best action by which he unites himself immediately to the

creature and affords himself to be seen, loved and enjoyed in

such an abundant measure as agrees with the creature dilated

and expanded to that degree which we have mentioned. This is,

therefore, the most glorious of God's actions. Wherefore the

end of Theology is the union , God with man, to the salvation

of the one and the glory of the other; and to the glory which

he declares by his act, not that glory which man ascribes to

God when he is united to him. Yet it cannot be otherwise,

than that man should be incited to sing forever the high

praises of God, when he beholds and enjoys such large and

overpowering goodness.

But the observations we have hitherto made on the End of

Theology, were accommodated to the manner of that which is

legal. We must now consider the End as it is proposed to

Evangelical Theology. The End of this is (1.) God and Christ,

(2.) the union of man with both of them, and (3.) the sight

and fruition of both, to the glory of both Christ and God. On

each of these particulars we have some remarks to make from

the scriptures, and which most appropriately agree with, and

are peculiar to, the Evangelical doctrine.

But before we enter upon these remarks, we must shew that the

salvation of man, to the glory of Christ himself, consists

also in the love, the sight, and the fruition of Christ.

There is a passage in the fifteenth chapter of the first

Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, which imposes

this necessity upon us, because it appears to exclude Christ

from this consideration. For in that place the apostle says,

"When Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even

the Father, then the Son also himself shall be subject unto

him, that God may be all in all." (1 Cor. xv, 24.) From this

passage three difficulties are raised, which must be removed

by an appropriate explanation. They are these: (1.) "If

Christ 'shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the

Father,' he will no longer reign himself in person." (2.) "If

he 'shall be subject to the Father,' he will no more preside

over his Church:" and (3.) "If 'God shall be all in all,'

then our salvation is not placed in the union, sight and

fruition of him." I will proceed to give a separate answer to

each of these objections. The kingdom of Christ embraces two

objects: The Mediatorial function of the regal office, and

the Regal glory: The royal function, will be laid aside,

because there will then be no necessity or use for it, but

the royal glory will remain because it was obtained by the

acts of the Mediator, and was conferred on him by the Father

according to covenant. The same thing is declared by the

expression "shall be subject," which here signifies nothing

more than the laying aside of the super-eminent power which

Christ had received from the Father, and which he had, as the

Father's Vicegerent, administered at the pleasure of his own

will: And yet, when he has laid down this power, he will

remain, as we shall see, the head and the husband of his

Church. That sentence has a similar tendency in which it is

said, "God shall be ALL IN ALL." For it takes away even the

intermediate and deputed administration of the creatures

which God is accustomed to use in the communication of his

benefits; and it indicates that God will likewise immediately

from himself communicate his own good, even himself to his

creatures. Therefore, on the authority of this passage,

nothing is taken away from Christ which we have been wishful

to attribute to him in this discourse according to the


This we will now shew by some plain and apposite passages.

Christ promises an union with himself in these words, "If a

man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love

him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

(John xiv, 23.) Here is a promise of good: therefore the

good of the Church is likewise placed in union with Christ;

and an abode is promised, not admitting of termination by the

bounds of this life, but which will continue for ever, and

shall at length, when this short life is ended, be

consummated in heaven. In reference to this, the Apostle

says, "I desire to depart and to be with Christ;" and Christ

himself says, "I will that they also whom thou hast given me,

be with me where I am." (John xvii, 24.) John says, that the

end of his gospel is, "that our fellowship may be with the

Father and the Son;" (1 John i, 3,) in which fellowship

eternal life must necessarily consist, since in another place

he explains the same end in these words, "But these are

written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ: and

that, believing, ye might have life through his name." (John

xx, 31.) But from the meaning of the same Apostle, it

appears, that this fellowship has an union antecedent to

itself. These are his words, "If that which ye have heard

from the beginning shall remain in you ye also shall continue

in the Son, and in the Father." (1 John ii, 24.) What! Shall

the union between Christ and his Church cease at a period

when he shall place before his glorious sight his spouse

sanctified to himself by his own blood? Far be the idea from

us! For the union, which had commenced here on earth, will

then at length be consummated and perfected.

If any one entertain doubts concerning the vision of Christ,

let him listen to Christ in this declaration: "He that loveth

me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will

manifest myself to him." (John xiv, 21.) Will he thus

disclose himself in this world only? Let us again hear Christ

when he intercedes with the Father for the faithful: "Father,

I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me

where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast

given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the

world." (John xvii, 34) Christ, therefore, promises to his

followers the sight of his glory, as something salutary to

them; and his Father is intreated to grant this favour. The

same truth is confirmed by John when he says, "Then we shall

see him as he is." (1 John iii, 2.) This passage may without

any impropriety be understood of Christ, and yet not to the

exclusion of God the Father. But what do we more distinctly

desire than that Christ may become, what it is said he will

be, "the light" that shall enlighten the celestial city, and

in whose light "the nations shall walk?" (Rev. xxi, 23, 24.)

Although the fruition of Christ is sufficiently established

by the same passages as those by which the sight of him is

confirmed, yet we will ratify it by two or three others.

Since eternal felicity is called by the name of "the supper

of the lamb," and is emphatically described by this term,

"the marriage of the Lamb," I think it is taught with

adequate clearness in these expressions, that happiness

consists in the fruition or enjoyment of the Lamb. But the

apostle, in his apocalypse, has ascribed both these epithets

to Christ, by saying, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give

honour to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his

wife hath made herself ready :" (Rev. xix, 7,) and a little

afterwards, he says, "Blessed are they which are called to

the marriage-supper of the Lamb." (verse 9.) It remains for

us to treat on the glory of Christ, which is inculcated in

these numerous passages of Scripture in which it is stated

that "he sits with the Father on his throne," and is adored

and glorified both by angels and by men in heaven.

Having finished the proof of those expressions, the truth of

which we engaged to demonstrate, we will now proceed to

fulfill our promise of explanation, and to show that all and

each of these benefits descend to us in a peculiar and more

excellent manner, from Evangelical Theology, than they could

have done from that which is Legal, if by it we could really

have been made alive.

2. And, that we may, in the first place, dispatch the subject

of Union, let the brief remarks respecting marriage which we

have just made, be brought again to our remembrance. For that

word more appropriately honours this union, and adorns it

with a double and remarkable privilege; one part of which

consists of a deeper combination, the other of a more

glorious title. The Scripture speaks thus of the deeper

combination; "And the two shall be one flesh. This is a great

mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church!"

(Ephes. v, 31, 32.) It will therefore be a connubial tie that

will unite Christ with the church. The espousals of the

church on earth are contracted by the agency of the brides-

men of Christ, who are the prophets, the apostles, and their

successors, and particularly the Holy Ghost, who is in this

affair a mediator and arbitrator. The consummation will then

follow, when Christ will introduce his spouse into his bride-

chamber. From such an union as this, there arises, not only a

communion of blessings, but a previous communion of the

persons themselves; from which the possession of blessings is

likewise assigned, by a more glorious title, to her who is

united in the bonds of marriage. The church comes into a

participation not only of the blessings of Christ, but also

of his title. For, being the wife of the King, she enjoys it

as a right due to her to be called QUEEN; which dignified

appellation the scripture does not withhold from her. "Upon

thy right hand stands the Queen in gold of Ophir:" (Psalm

xlv, 9.) "There are three-score queens, and four-score

concubines, and virgins without number. "My dove, my

undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she

is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughter saw her,

and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines; and they

praised her." (Song of Sol. vi, 8, 9.) The church could not

have been eligible to the high honour of such an union,

unless Christ has been made her beloved, her brother, sucking

the breasts of the same mother." (Cant. 8.) But there would

have been no necessity for this union, "if righteousness and

salvation had come to us by the law." That was, therefore, a

happy necessity, which, out of compassion to the emergency of

our wretched condition, the divine condescension improved to

our benefit, and filled with such a plenitude of dignity! But

the manner of this our union with Christ is no small addition

to that union which is about to take place between us and God

the Father. This will be evident to any one who considers

what and how great is the bond of mutual union between Christ

and the Father.

3. If we turn our attention to sight or vision, we shall meet

with two remarkable characters which are peculiar to

Evangelical Theology.

(1.) In the first place, the glory of God, as if accumulated

and concentrated together into one body, will be presented to

our view in Christ Jesus; which glory would otherwise have

been dispersed throughout the most spacious courts of a

"heaven immense;" much in the same manner as the light, which

had been created on the first day, and equally spread through

the whole hemisphere, was on the fourth day collected, united

and compacted together into one body, and offered to the eyes

as a most conspicuous and shining object. In reference to

this, it is said in the Apocalypse, that the heavenly

Jerusalem "had no need of the sun, neither of the moon; for

the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb will be the

future light thereof," (Rev. xxi, 23,) as a vehicle by which

this most delightful glory may diffuse itself into immensity.

(2.) We shall then not only contemplate, in God himself, the

most excellent properties of his nature, but shall also

perceive that all of them have been employed in and devoted

to the procuring of this good for us, which we now possess in

hope, but which we shall in reality then possess by means of

this union and open vision.

The excellence, therefore, of this vision far exceeds that

which could have been by the law; and from this source arises

a fruition of greater abundance and more delicious sweetness.

For, as the light in the sun is brighter than that in the

stars, so is the sight of the sun, when the human eye is

capable of bearing it, more grateful and acceptable, and the

enjoyment of it is far more pleasant. From such a view of the

Divine attributes, the most delicious sweetness of fruition

will seem to be doubled. For the first delight will arise

from the contemplation of properties so excellent; the other

from the consideration of that immeasurable condescension by

which it has pleased God to unfold all those his properties,

and the whole of those blessings which he possesses in the

exhaustless and immeasurable treasury of his riches, and to

give this explanation, that he may procure salvation for man

and may impart it to his most miserable creature. This will

then be seen in as strong a light, as if the whole of that

which is essentially God appeared to exist for the sake of

man alone, and for his solo benefit. There is also the

addition of this peculiarity concerning it: "Jesus Christ

shall change our vile body, [the body of our humiliation,]

that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body: (Phil.

iii, 21,) and as we have borne the image of the earthy

[Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (1

Cor. xv, 49.) Hence it is, that all things are said to be

made new in Christ Jesus; (2 Cor. v, 17,) and we are

described in the scriptures as "looking, according to his

promise, for new heavens and a new earth, (2 Pet. iii, 13,)

and a new name written on a white stone, (Rev. ii, 17,) the

new name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which

is the new Jerusalem, (Rev. iii, 12.) and they shall sing a

new song to God and his Christ forever." (Rev. v, 9.)

Who does not now see, how greatly the felicity prepared for

us by Christ, and offered to us through Evangelical Theology

excels that which would have come to us by "the righteousness

of the law," if indeed it had been possible for us to fulfill

it? We should in that case have been similar to the elect

angels; but now we shall be their superiors, if I be

permitted to make such a declaration, to the praise of Christ

and our God, in this celebrated Hall, and before an assembly

among whom we have some of those most blessed spirits

themselves as spectators. They now enjoy union with God and

Christ, and will probably be more closely united to both of

them at the time of the "restitution of all things." But

there will be nothing between the two parties similar to that

Conjugal Bond which unites us, and in which we may be

permitted to glory.

They will behold God himself "face to face," and will

contemplate the most eminent properties of his nature; but

they will see some among those properties devoted to the

purpose of man's salvation, which God has not unfolded for

their benefit, because that was not necessary; and which he

would not have unfolded, even if it had been necessary. These

things they will see, but they will not be moved by envy; it

will rather be a subject of admiration and wonder to them,

that God, the Creator of both orders, conferred on man, (who

was inferior to them in nature,) that dignity which he had of

old denied to the spirits that partook with themselves of the

same nature. They will behold Christ, that most brilliant and

shining light of the city of the living God, of which they

also are inhabitants: and, from this very circumstance their

happiness will be rendered more illustrious through Christ.

Christ "took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of

Abraham;" (Heb. ii, 16,) to whom also, in that assumed

nature, they will present adoration and honour, at the

command of God, when he introduces his First begotten into

the world to come. Of that future world, and of its

blessings, they also will be partakers: but "it is not put in

subjection to them," (Heb. ii, 5,) but to Christ and his

Brethren, who are partakers of the same nature, and are

sanctified by himself. A malignant spirit, yet of the same

order as the angels, had hurled against God the crimes of

falsehood and envy. But we see how signally God in Christ and

in the salvation procured by him, has repelled both these

accusations from himself. The falsehood intimated an

unwillingness on the part of God that man should be

reconciled to him, except by the intervention of the death of

his Son. His envy was excited, because God had raised man,

not only to the angelical happiness, (to which even that

impure one would have attained had "he kept his first

estate,) but to a state of blessedness far superior to that

of angels.

That I may not be yet more prolix, I leave it as a subject of

reflection to the devoted piety of your private meditations,

most accomplished auditors, to estimate the vast and amazing

greatness of the glory of God which has here manifested

itself, and to calculate the glory due from us to him for

such transcendent goodness.

In the mean time, let all of us, however great our number,

consider with a devout and attentive mind, what duty is

required of us by this doctrine, which having received its

manifestation from God and Christ, plainly and fully

announces to us such a great salvation, and to the

participation of which we are most graciously invited. It

requires to be received, understood, believed, and fulfilled,

in deed and in reality. It is worthy of all acceptation, on

account of its Author; and necessary to be received on

account of its End.

1. Being delivered by so great an Author, it is worthy to be

received with a humble and submissive mind; to have much

diligence and care bestowed on a knowledge and perception of

it; and not to be laid aside from the hand, the mind, or the

heart, until we shall have "obtained the End of it -- THE

SALVATION OF OUR SOULS." Why should this be done? Shall the

Holy God open his mouth, and our ears remain stopped? Shall

our Heavenly Master be willing to communicate instruction,

and we refuse to learn? Shall he desire to inspire our hearts

with the knowledge of his Divine truth, and we, by closing

the entrance to our hearts, exclude the most evident and mild

breathings of his Spirit? Does Christ, who is the Father's

Wisdom, announce to us that gospel which he has brought from

the bosom of the Father, and shall we disdain to hide it in

the inmost recesses of our heart? And shall we act thus,

especially when we have received this binding command of the

Father, which says, "Hear ye him!" (Matt. xvii, 5,) to which

he has added a threat, that "if we hear him not, our souls

shall be destroyed from among the people; (Acts iii, 23,)

that is, from the commonwealth of Israel? Let none of us fall

into the commission of such a heinous offense! "For if the

word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression

and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how

shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at

the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed

unto us by them that heard him ," (Heb. ii, 2, 3.)

2. To all the preceding considerations, let the End of this

doctrine be added, and it will be of the greatest utility in

enforcing this the work of persuasion on minds that are not

prodigal of their own proper and Chief Good -- an employment

in which its potency and excellence are most apparent. Let us

reflect, for what cause God has brought us out of darkness

into this marvelous light; has furnished us with a mind,

understanding, and reason; and has adorned us with his image.

Let this question be revolved in our minds, "For what purpose

or End has God restored the fallen to their pristine state of

integrity, reconciled sinners to himself, and received

enemies into favour," and we shall plainly discover all this

to have been done, that we might be made partakers of eternal

salvation, and might sing praises to him forever. But we

shall not be able to aspire after this End, much less to

attain it, except in the way which is pointed out by that

Theological Doctrine which has been the topic of our

discourse. If we wander from this End, our wanderings from it

extend, not only beyond the whole earth and sea, but beyond

heaven itself -- that city of which nevertheless it is

essentially necessary for us to be made free men, and to have

our names enrolled among the living. This doctrine is "the

gate of heaven," and the door of paradise; the ladder of

Jacob, by which Christ descends to us, and we shall in turn

ascend to him; and the golden chain, which connects heaven

with earth. Let us enter into this gate; let us ascend this

ladder; and let us cling to this chain. Ample and wide is the

opening of the gate, and it will easily admit believers; the

position of the ladder is movable, and will not suffer those

who ascend it to be shaken or moved; the joining which unites

one link of the chain with another is indissoluble, and will

not permit those to fall down who cling to it, until we come

to "him that liveth forever and ever," and are raised to the

throne of the Most High; till we be united to the living God,

and Jesus Christ our Lord, "the Son of the Highest."

But on you, O chosen youths, this care is a duty peculiarly

incumbent; for God has destined you to become "workers

together with him," in the manifestation of the gospel, and

instruments to administer to the salvation of others. Let the

Majesty of the Holy Author of your studies, and the necessity

of the End, be always placed before your eyes. (1.) On

attentively viewing the Author, let the words of the Prophet

Amos recur to your remembrance and rest on your mind: "The

lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath

spoken, who can but prophesy?" (Amos ii, 8.) But you cannot

prophesy, unless you be instructed by the Spirit of Prophesy.

In our days he addresses no one in that manner, except in the

Scriptures; he inspires no one, except by means of the

Scriptures, which are divinely inspired. (2.) In

contemplating the End, you will discover, that it is not

possible to confer on any one, in his intercourse with

mankind, an office of greater dignity and utility, or an

office that is more salutary in its consequences, than this,

by which he may conduct them from error into the way of

truth, from wickedness to righteousness, from the deepest

misery to the highest felicity; and by which he may

contribute much towards their everlasting salvation. But this

truth is taught by Theology alone; there is nothing except

this heavenly science that prescribes the true righteousness;

and by it alone is this felicity disclosed, and our salvation

made known and revealed. Let the sacred Scriptures therefore

be your models:

"Night and day read them, read them day and night. Colman.

If you thus peruse them, "they will make you that you shall

not be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord

Jesus Christ; (2 Pet. i, 8,) but you will become good

ministers of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith

and of good doctrine; (1 Tim. iv, 6,) and ready to every good

work; (Tit. iii, 1,) workmen who need not to be ashamed;" (2

Tim. ii, 15,) sowing the gospel with diligence and patience;

and returning to your Lord with rejoicing, bringing with you

an ample harvest, through the blessing of God and the grace

of our Lord Jesus Christ: to whom be praise and glory from

this time, even forever more! Amen !



Although the observations which I have already offered in

explanation of the Object, the Author and the End of sacred

Theology, and other remarks which might have been made, if

they had fallen into the hands of a competent interpreter,

although all of them contain admirable commendations of this

Theology, and convince us that it is altogether divine, since

it is occupied concerning God, is derived from God, and leads

to God; yet they will not be able to excite within the mind

of any person a sincere desire of entering upon such a study,

unless he be at the same time encouraged by the bright rays

of an assured hope of arriving at a knowledge of the

desirable Object, and of obtaining the blessed End. For since

the perfection of motion is rest, vain and useless will that

motion be which is not able to attain rest, the limit of its

perfection. But no prudent person will desire to subject

himself to vain and useless labour. All our hope, then, of

attaining to this knowledge is placed in Divine revelation.

For the anticipation of this very just conception has engaged

the minds of men, "that God cannot be known except through

himself, to whom also there can be no approach but through

himself." On this account it becomes necessary to make it

evident to man, that a revelation has been made by God; that

the revelation which has been given is fortified and defended

by such sure and approved arguments, as will cause it to be

considered and acknowledged as divine; and that there is a

method, by which a man may understand the meanings declared

in the word, and may apprehend them by a firm and assured

faith. To the elucidation of the last proposition, this third

part of our labour must be devoted. God grant that I may in

this discourse again follow the guidance of his word as it is

revealed in the scriptures, and may bring forth and offer to

your notice such things as may contribute to establish our

faith, and to promote the glory of God, to the uniting

together of all of us in the Lord. I pray and beseech you

also, my very famous and most accomplished hearers, not to

disdain to favour me with a benevolent and patient hearing,

while I deliver this feeble oration in your presence.

As we are now entering upon a consideration of the Certainty

of Sacred Theology, it is not necessary that we should

contemplate it under the aspect of Legal and Evangelical; for

in both of them there is the same measure of the truth, and

therefore, the same measure of knowledge, and that is

certainty. We will treat on this subject, then, in a general

manner, without any particular reference or application.

But that our oration may proceed in an orderly course, it

will be requisite in the first place briefly to describe

Certainty in general; and then to treat at greater length on

the Certainty Of Theology.

I. Certainty, then, is a property of the mind or

understanding, and a mode of knowledge according to which the

mind knows an object as it is, and is certain that it knows

that object as it is. It is distinct from Opinion; because it

is possible for opinion to know a matter as it is, but its

knowledge is accompanied by a suspicion of the opposite

falsity. Two things, therefore, are required, to constitute

certainty. (1.) The truth of the thing itself, and (2.) such

an apprehension of it in our minds as we have just described.

This very apprehension, considered as being formed from the

truth of the thing itself, and fashioned according to such

truth, is also called Truth on account of the similitude;

even as the thing itself is certain, on account of the action

of the mind which apprehends it in that manner. Thus do those

two things, (certainty and truth,) because of their admirable

union, make a mutual transfer of their names, the one to the


But truth may in reality be viewed in two aspects -- one

simple, and the other compound. (1.) The former, in relation

to a thing as being in the number of entities; (2.) the

latter, in reference to something inhering in a thing, being

present with it or one of its circumstantials -- or in

reference to a thing as producing something else, or as being

produced by some other -- and if there be any other

affections and relations of things among themselves. The

process of truth in the mind is after the same manner. Its

action is of two kinds. (1.) On a simple being or entity

which is called "a simple apprehension;" and (2.) on a

complex being, which is termed composition." The mode of

truth is likewise, in reality, two-fold -- necessary and

contingent; according to which, a thing, whether it be simple

or complex, is called "necessary" or "contingent." The

necessity of a simple thing is the necessary existence of the

thing itself, whether it obtain the place of a subject or

that of an attribute. The necessity of a complex thing is the

unavoidable and essential disposition and habitude that

subsists between the subject and the attribute.

That necessity which, as we have just stated, is to be

considered in simple things, exists in nothing except in God

and in those things which, although they agree with him in

their nature, are yet distinguished from him by our mode of

considering them. All other things, whatever may be their

qualities, are contingent, from the circumstance of their

being brought into action by power; neither are they

contingent only by reason of their beginning, but also of

their continued duration. Thus the existence of God, is a

matter of necessity; his life, wisdom, goodness, justice,

mercy, will and power, likewise have a necessary existence.

But the existence and preservation of the creatures are not

of necessity. Thus also creation, preservation, government,

and whatever other acts are attributed to God in respect of

his creatures, are not of necessity. The foundation of

necessity is the nature of God; the principle of contingency

is the free will of the Deity. The more durable it has

pleased God to create anything, the nearer is its approach to

necessity, and the farther it recedes from contingency;

although it never pass beyond the boundaries of contingency,

and never reach the inaccessible abode of necessity.

Complex necessity exists not only in God, but also in the

things of his creation. It exists in God, partly on account

of the foundation of his nature, and partly on account of the

principle of his free-will. But its existence in the

creatures is only from the free will of God, who at once

resolved that this should be the relation and habitude

between two created objects. Thus "God lives, understands,

and loves," is a necessary truth from his very nature as God.

"God is the Creator," "Jesus Christ is the saviour," "An

angel is a created spirit endowed with intelligence and

will," and "A man is a rational creature," are all necessary

truths from the free will of God.

From this statement it appears, that degrees may be

constituted in the necessity of a complex truth; that the

highest may be attributed to that truth which rests upon the

nature of God as its foundation; that the rest, which proceed

from the will of God, may be excelled by that which (by means

of a greater affection of his will,) God has willed to invest

with such right of precedence; and that it may be followed by

that which God has willed by a less affection of his will.

The motion of the sun is necessary from the very nature of

that luminary; but it is more necessary that the children of

Israel be preserved and avenged on their enemies; the sun is

therefore commanded to stand still in the midst of the

heavens. (Josh. x, 13.) It is necessary that the sun be borne

along from the east to the west, by the diurnal motion of the

heavens. But it is more necessary that Hezekiah receive, by a

sure sign, a confirmation of the prolongation of his life;

the sun, therefore, when commanded, returns ten degrees

backward; (Isa. xxxviii, 8,) and thus it is proper, that the

less necessity should yield to the greater, and that from the

free will of God, which has imposed a law on both of them. As

this kind of necessity actually exists in things, the mind,

by observing the same gradations, apprehends and knows it, if

such a mode of cognition can truly deserve the name of


But the causes of this Certainty are three. For it is

produced on the mind, either by the senses, by reasoning and

discourse, or by revelation. The first is called the

certainty of experience; the second, that of knowledge; and

the last, that of faith. The first is the certainty of

particular objects which come within the range and under the

observation of the senses; the second is that of general

conclusions deduced from known principles; and the last is

that of things remote from the cognizance both of the senses

and reason.

II. Let these observations now be applied to our present

purpose. The Object of our Theology is God, and Christ in

reference to his being God and Man. God is a true Being, and

the only necessary one, on account of the necessity of his

nature. Christ is a true Being, existing by the will of God;

and he is also a necessary Being, because he will endure to

all eternity. The things which are attributed to God in our

Theology: partly belong to his nature, and partly agree with

it by his own free will. By his nature, life, wisdom,

goodness, justice, mercy, will and power belong to him, by a

natural and absolute necessity. By his free will, all his

volitions and actions concerning the creatures agree with his

nature, and that immutably; because he willed at the same

time, that they should not be retracted or repealed. All

those things which are attributed to Christ, belong to him by

the free will of God, but on this condition, that "Christ be

the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever," (Heb. xiii, 8,)

entirely exempt from any future change, whether it be that of

a subject or its attributes, or of the affection which exists

between the two. All other things, which are found in the

whole superior and inferior nature of things, (whether they

be considered simply in themselves, or as they are mutually

affected among themselves,) do not extend to any degree of

this necessity. The truth and necessity of our Theology,

therefore, far exceed the necessity of all other sciences, in

as much as both these [the truth and necessity,] are situated

in the things themselves. The certainty of the mind, while it

is engaged in the act of apprehending and knowing things,

cannot exceed the Truth and Necessity of the thing's

themselves; on the contrary, it very often may not reach

them, [the truth and necessity,] through some defect in its

capacity. For the eyes of our mind are in the same condition

with respect to the pure truth of things, as are the eyes of

owls with respect to the light of the sun. On this account,

therefore, it is of necessity, that the object of no science

can be known with greater certainty than that of Theology;

but it follows rather, that a knowledge of this object may be

obtained with the greatest degree of certainty, if it be

presented in a qualified and proper manner to the inspection

of the understanding according to its capacity. For this

object is not of such a nature and condition as to be

presented to the external senses; nor can its attributes,

properties, affections, actions and passions be known by

means of the observation and experience of the external

senses. It is too sublime for them; and the attributes,

properties, affections, actions and passions, which agree

with it, are so high that the mind, even when assisted by

reason and discourse, can neither know it, investigate its

attributes, nor demonstrate that they agree with the subject,

whatever the principles may be which it has applied, and to

whatever causes it may have had recourse, whether they be

such as arise from the object itself, from its attributes, or

from the agreement which subsists between them. The Object is

known to itself alone; and the whole truth and necessity are

properly and immediately known to Him to whom they belong; to

God in the first place and in an adequate degree; to Christ,

in the second place, through the communication of God. To

itself, in an adequate manner, in reference to the knowledge

which it has of itself; in an inferior degree to God, in

reference to his knowledge of him, [Christ.] Revelation is

therefore necessary by which God may exhibit himself and his

Christ as an object of sight and knowledge to our

understanding; and this exhibition to be made in such a

manner as to unfold at once all their attributes, properties,

affections, actions and passions, as far as it is permitted

for them to be known, concerning God and his Christ, to our

salvation and to their glory; and that God may thus disclose

all and every portion of those theorems in which both the

subjects themselves and all their attending attributes are

comprehended. Revelation is necessary, if it be true that God

and his Christ ought to be known, and both of them be worthy

to receive Divine honours and worship. But both of them ought

to be known and worshipped; the revelation, therefore, of

both of them is necessary; and because it is thus necessary,

it has been made by God. For if nature, as a partaker and

communicator of a good that is only partial, is not deficient

in the things that are necessary; how much less ought we even

to suspect such a deficiency in God, the Author and Artificer

of nature, who is also the Chief Good?

But to inspect this subject a little more deeply and

particularly, will amply repay our trouble; for it is similar

to the foundation on which must rest the weight of the

structure -- the other doctrines which follow. For unless it

should appear certain and evident, that a revelation has been

made, it will be in vain to inquire and dispute about the

word in which that revelation has been made and is contained.

In the first place, then, the very nature of God most clearly

evinces that a revelation has been made of himself and

Christ. His nature is good, beneficent, and communicative of

his blessedness, whether it be that which proceeds from it by

creation, or that which is God himself. But there is no

communication made of Divine good, unless God be made known

to the understanding, and be desired by the affections and

the will. But he cannot become an object of knowledge except

by revelation. A revelation, therefore, is made, as a

necessary instrument of communication.

2. The necessity of this revelation may in various ways be

inferred and taught from the nature and condition of man.

First. By nature, man possesses a mind and understanding. But

it is just that the mind and understanding should be turned

towards their Creator; this, however, cannot be done without

a knowledge of the Creator, and such knowledge cannot be

obtained except by revelation; a revelation has, therefore,

been made. Secondly. God himself formed the nature of man

capable of Divine Good. But in vain would it have had such a

capacity, if it might not at some time partake of this Divine

Good; but of this the nature of man cannot be made a partaker

except by the knowledge of it; the knowledge of this Divine

Good has therefore been manifested. Thirdly. It is not

possible, that the desire which God has implanted within man

should be vain and fruitless. That desire is for the

enjoyment of an Infinite Good, which is God; but that

Infinite Good cannot be enjoyed, except it be known; a

revelation, therefore, has been made, by which it may be


3. Let that relation be brought forward which subsists

between God and man, and the revelation that has been made

will immediately become manifest. God, the Creator of man,

has deserved it as his due, to receive worship and honour

from the workmanship of his hands, on account of the benefit

which he conferred by the act of creation. Religion and piety

are due to God, from man his creature; and this obligation is

coeval with the very birth of man, as the bond which contains

this requisition was given on the very day in which he was

created. But religion could not be a human invention. For it

is the will of God to receive worship according to the rule

and appointment of his own will. A revelation was therefore

made, which exacts from man the religion due to God, and

prescribes that worship which is in accordance with his

pleasure and his honour.

4. If we turn our attention towards Christ, it is amazing how

great the necessity of a manifestation appears, and how many

arguments immediately present themselves in behalf of a

revelation being communicated. Wisdom wishes to be

acknowledged as the deviser of the wonderful attempering and

qualifying of justice and mercy. Goodness and gracious mercy,

as the administrators of such an immense benefit sought to be

worshipped and honoured. And power, as the hand-maid of such

stupendous wisdom and goodness, and as the executrix of the

decree made by both of them, deserved to receive adoration.

But the different acts of service which were due to each of

them, could not be rendered to them without revelation. The

wisdom, mercy and power of God, have, therefore, been

revealed and displayed most copiously in Christ Jesus. He

performed a multitude of most wonderful works, by which we

might obtain the salvation that we had lost; he endured most

horrid torments and inexpressible distress, which, when

pleaded in our favour, served to obtain this salvation for

us; and by the gift of the Father he was possessed of an

abundance of graces, and, at the Divine command, he became

the distributor of them. Having, therefore, sustained all

these offices for us, it is his pleasure to receive those

acknowledgments, and those acts of Divine honour and worship,

which are due to him on account of his extraordinary merits.

But in vain will he expect the performance of these acts from

man, unless he be himself revealed. A revelation of Christ

has, therefore, been made. Consult actual experience, and

that will supply you with numberless instances of this

manifestation. The devil himself, who is the rival of Christ,

has imitated these instances of gracious manifestation, has

held converse with men under the name and semblance of the

true God, has demanded acts of devotion from them, and

prescribed to them a mode of religious worship.

We have, therefore, the truth and the necessity of our

Theology agreeing together in the highest degree; we have an

adequate notion of it in the mind of God and Christ,

according to the word which is called emfutov "engrafted."

(James i, 21.) We have a revelation of this Theology made to

men by the word preached; which revelation agrees both with

the things themselves and with the notion which we have

mentioned, but in a way that is attempered and suited to the

human capacity. And as all these are preliminaries to the

certainty which we entertain concerning this Theology, it was

necessary to notice them in these introductory remarks.

Let us now consider this Certainty itself. But since a

revelation has been made in the word which has been

published, and since the whole of it is contained in that

word, (so that This Word is itself our Theology,) we can

determine nothing concerning the certainty of Theology in any

other way than by offering some explanation concerning our

certain apprehension of that word. We will assume it as a

fact which is allowed and confirmed, that this word is to be

found in no other place than in the sacred books of the Old

and New Testament; and we shall on this account confine this

certain apprehension of our mind to that word. But in

fulfilling this design, three things demand our attentive

consideration: First. The Certainty, and the kind of

certainty which God requires from us, and by which it is his

pleasure that this word should be received and apprehended by

us as the Chief Certainty. Secondly. The reasons and

arguments by which the truth of that word, which is its

divinity, may be proved. Thirdly. How a persuasion of that

divinity may be wrought in our minds, and this Certainty may

be impressed on our hearts.

I. The Certainty "with which God wishes this word to be

received, is that of faith; and it therefore depends on the

veracity of him who utters it." By this Certainty "it is

received," not only as true, but as divine; and it is not of

that involved and mixed kind "of faith" by which any one,

without understanding the meanings expressed by the word as

by a sign, believes that those books which are contained in

the Bible, are divine: for not only is a doubtful opinion

opposed to faith, but an obscure and perplexed conception is

equally inimical. Neither is it that species "of historical

faith" which believes the word to be divine that it

comprehends only by a theoretical understanding. But God

demands that faith to be given to his word, by which the

meanings expressed in this word may be understood, as far as

it is necessary for the salvation of men and the glory of

God; and may be so assuredly known to be divine, that they

may be believed to embrace not only the Chief Truth, but also

the Chief Good of man. This faith not only believes that God

and Christ exist, it not only gives credence to them when

they make declarations of any kind, but it believes in God

and Christ when they affirm such things concerning

themselves, as, being apprehended by faith, create a belief

in God as our Father, and in Christ as our saviour. This we

consider to be the office of an understanding that is not

merely theoretical, but of one that is practical. For this

cause not only is asfaleia (certainty,) attributed in the

Scriptures to true and living faith, but to it are likewise

ascribed both wlhroforia (a full assurance, Heb. vi, 2,) and

wewoiqhsiv (trust or confidence, Cor. iii, 4,) and it is God

who requires and demands such a species of certainty and of


II. We may now be permitted to proceed by degrees from this

point, to a consideration of those arguments which prove to

us the divinity of the word; and to the manner in which the

required certainty and faith are produced in our minds. To

constitute natural vision we know that, (beside an object

capable of being seen,) not only is an external light

necessary to shine upon it and to render it visible, but an

internal strength of eye is also required, which may receive

within itself the form and appearance of the object which has

been illuminated by the external light, and may thus be

enabled actually to behold it. The same accompaniments are

necessary to constitute spiritual vision; for, beside this

external light of arguments and reasoning, an internal light

of the mind and soul is necessary to perfect this vision of

faith. But infinite is the number of arguments on which this

world builds and establishes its divinity. We will select and

briefly notice a few of those which are more usual, lest by

too great a prolixity we become too troublesome and

disagreeable to our auditory.


Let scripture itself come forward, and perform the chief part

in asserting its own Divinity. Let us inspect its substance

and its matter. It is all concerning God and his Christ, and

is occupied in declaring the nature of both of them, in

further explaining the love, the benevolence, and the

benefits which have been conferred by both of them on the

human race, or which have yet to be conferred; and

prescribing, in return, the duties of men towards their

Divine Benefactors. The scripture, therefore, is divine in

its object.

(2.) But how is it occupied in treating on these subjects? It

explains the nature of God in such a way as to attribute

nothing extraneous to it, and nothing that does not perfectly

agree with it. It describes the person of Christ in such a

manner, that the human mind, on beholding the description,

ought to acknowledge, that "such a person could not have been

invented or devised by any created intellect," and that it is

described with such aptitude, suitableness and sublimnity, as

far to exceed the largest capacity of a created

understanding. In the same manner the scripture is employed

in relating the love of God and Christ towards us, and in

giving an account of the benefits which we receive. Thus the

Apostle Paul, when he wrote to the Ephesians on these

subjects, says, that from his former writings, the extent of

"his knowledge of the mystery of Christ" might be manifest to

them; (Ephes. iii, 4.) that is, it was divine, and derived

solely from the revelation of God. Let us contemplate the law

in which is comprehended the duty of men towards God. What

shall we find, in all the laws of every nation, that is at

all similar to this, or (omitting all mention of "equality,")

that may be placed in comparison with those ten short

sentences? Yet even those commandments, most brief and

comprehensive as they are, have been still further reduced to

two chief heads -- the love of God, and the love of our

neighbour. This law appears in reality to have been sketched

and written by the right hand of God. That this was actually

the case, Moses shews in these words, What nation is there so

great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all

this law, which I set before you this day?" (Deut. iv, 8.)

Moses likewise says, that so great and manifest is the

divinity which is inherent in this law, that it compelled the

heathen nations, after they had heard it, to declare in

ecstatic admiration of it. "Surely this great nation is a

wise and understanding people?" (Deut. iv, 6.) The scripture,

therefore, is completely divine, from the manner in which it

treats on those matters which are its subjects.

(3.) If we consider the End, it will as clearly point out to

us the divinity of this doctrine. That End is entirely

divine, being nothing less than the glory of God and man's

eternal salvation. What can be more equitable than that all

things should be referred to him from whom they have derived

their origin? What can be more consonant to the wisdom,

goodness, and power of God, than that he should restore, to

his original integrity, man who had been created by him, but

who had by his own fault destroyed himself; and that he

should make him a partaker of his own Divine blessedness? If

by means of any word God had wished to manifest himself to

man, what end of manifestation ought he to have proposed that

would have been more honourable to himself and more salutary

to man? That the word, therefore, was divinely revealed,

could not be discerned by any mark which was better or more

legible, than that of its showing to man the way of

salvation, taking him as by the hand and leading him into

that way, and not ceasing to accompany him until it

introduced him to the full enjoyment of salvation: In such a

consummation as this, the glory of God most abundantly shines

forth and displays itself. He who may wish to contemplate

what we are declaring concerning this End, in a small but

noble part of this word, should place "the Lord's Prayer"

before the eyes of his mind; he should look most intently

upon it; and, as far as that is possible for human eyes, he

should thoroughly investigate all its parts and beauties.

After he has done this, unless he confess, that in it this

double end is proposed in a manner that is at once so

nervous, brief, and accurate, as to be above the strength and

capacity of every created intelligence, and unless he

acknowledge, that this form of prayer is purely divine, he

must of necessity have a mind surrounded and enclosed by more

than Egyptian darkness.


the parts of this doctrine together, and we shall discover in

all of them an agreement and harmony, even in points the most

minute, that it is so great and evident as to cause us to

believe that it could not be manifested by men, but ought to

have implicit credence placed in it as having certainly

proceeded from God.

Let the Predictions alone, that have been promulgated

concerning Christ in different ages, be compared together.

For the consolation of the first parents of our race, God

said to the serpent, "The seed of the woman shall bruise thy

head." (Gen. iii, 15.) The same promise was repeated by God,

and was specially made to Abraham: "In thy seed shall all the

nations be blessed." (Gen. xxii, 18.) The patriarch Jacob,

when at the point of death, foretold that this seed should

come forth from the lineage and family of Judah, in these

words: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a

lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto

him shall the gathering of the people be." (Gen. xlix, 10.)

Let the alien prophet also be brought forward, and to these

predictions he will add that oracular declaration which he

pronounced by the inspiration and at the command of the God

of Israel, in these words: Balaam said, "There shall come a

star out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel,

and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the

children of Sheth." (Num. xxiv, 17.) This blessed seed was

afterwards promised to David, by Nathan, in these words: "I

will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of

thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom." (2 Sam. vii,

12.) On this account Isaiah says, "There shall come forth a

rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of

his roots." (xi, 1.) And, by way of intimating that a virgin

would be his mother, the same prophet says, "Behold a virgin

shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name

Immanuel!" (Isa. vii, 14.) It would be tedious to repeat

every declaration that occurs in the psalms and in the other

Prophets, and that agrees most appropriately with this

subject. When these prophecies are compared with those

occurrences that have been described in the New Testament

concerning their fulfillment, it will be evident from the

complete harmony of the whole, that they were all spoken and

written by the impulse of one Divine Spirit. If some things

in those sacred books seem to be contradictions, they are

easily reconciled by means of a right interpretation. I add,

that not only do all the parts of this doctrine agree among

themselves, but they also harmonize with that Universal Truth

which has been spread through the whole of Philosophy; so

that nothing can be discovered in Philosophy, which does not

correspond with this doctrine. If any thing appear not to

possess such an exact correspondence, it may be clearly

confuted by means of true Philosophy and right reason.

Let the Style and Character of the scriptures be produced,

and, in that instant, a most brilliant and refulgent mirror

of the majesty which is luminously reflected in it, will

display itself to our view in a manner the most divine. It

relates things that are placed at a great distance beyond the

range of the human imagination -- things which far surpass

the capacities of men. And it simply relates these things

without employing any mode of argumentation, or the usual

apparatus of persuasion: yet its obvious wish is to be

understood and believed. But what confidence or reason has it

for expecting to obtain the realization of this its desire?

It possesses none at all, except that it depends purely upon

its own unmixed authority, which is divine. It publishes its

commands and its interdicts, its enactments and its

prohibitions to all persons alike; to kings and subjects, to

nobles and plebians, to the learned and the ignorant, to

those that "require a sign" and those that "seek after

wisdom," to the old and the young; over all these, the rule

which it bears, and the power which it exercises, are equal.

It places its sole reliance, therefore, on its own potency,

which is able in a manner the most efficacious to restrain

and compel all those who are refractory, and to reward those

who are obedient.

Let the Rewards and Punishments be examined, by which the

precepts are sanctioned, and there are seen both a promise of

life eternal and a denunciation of eternal punishments. He

who makes such a commencement as this, may calculate upon his

becoming an object of ridicule, except he possess an inward

consciousness both of his own right and power; and except he

know, that, to subdue the wills of mortals, is a matter

equally easy of accomplishment with him, as to execute his

menaces and to fulfill his premises. To the scriptures

themselves let him have recourse who may be desirous to prove

with the greatest certainty its majesty, from the kind of

diction which it adopts: Let him read the charming swan-like

Song of Moses described in the concluding chapters of the

Book of Deuteronomy: Let him with his mental eyes diligently

survey the beginning of Isaiah's prophecy: Let him in a

devout spirit consider the hundred and fourth Psalm. Then,

with these, let him compare whatever choice specimens of

poetry and eloquence the Greeks and the Romans can produce in

the most eminent manner from their archives; and he will be

convinced by the most demonstrative evidence, that the latter

are productions of the human spirit, and that the former

could proceed from none other than the Divine Spirit. Let a

man of the greatest genius, and, in erudition, experience,

and eloquence, the most accomplished of his race -- let such

a well instructed mortal enter the lists and attempt to

finish a composition at all similar to these writings, and he

will find himself at a loss and utterly disconcerted, and his

attempt will terminate in discomfiture. That man will then

confess, that what St. Paul declared concerning his own

manner of speech, and that of his fellow-labourers, may be

truly applied to the whole scripture: "Which things also we

speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but

which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things

with spiritual." (1 Cor. ii, 13.)


Let us next inspect the prophecies scattered through the

whole body of the doctrine; some of which belong to the

substance of the doctrine, and others contribute towards

procuring authority to the doctrine and to its instruments.

It should be particularly observed, with what eloquence and

distinctness they foretell the greatest and most important

matters, which are far removed from the scrutinizing research

of every human and angelical mind, and which could not

possibly be performed except by power Divine: Let it be

noticed at the same time with what precision the predictions

are answered by the periods that intervene between them, and

by all their concomitant circumstances; and the whole world

will be compelled to confess, that such things could not have

been foreseen and foretold, except by an omniscient Deity. I

need not here adduce examples; for they are obvious to any

one that opens the Divine volume. I will produce one or two

passages, only, in which this precise agreement of the

prediction and its fulfillment is described. When speaking of

the children of Israel under the Egyptian bondage, and their

deliverance from it according to the prediction which God had

communicated to Abraham in a dream, Moses says, "And it came

to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even

the self-same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the

Lord went out from the land of Egypt:" (Exod. xii, 41.) Ezra

speaks thus concerning the liberation from the Babylonish

captivity, which event, Jeremiah foretold, should occur

within seventy years: "Now in the first year of Cyrus, king

of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah

might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus,

king of Persia," &c. (Ezra i, 1.) But God himself declares by

Isaiah, that the divinity of the scripture may be proved, and

ought to be concluded, from this kind of prophecies. These

are his words: "Shew the things that are to come hereafter,

that we may know that ye are Gods." (Isa. xli, 23.)


An illustrious evidence of the same divinity is afforded in

the miracles, which God has performed by the stewards of his

word, his prophets and apostles, and by Christ himself, for

the confirmation of his doctrine and for the establishment of

their authority. For these miracles are of such a description

as infinitely to exceed the united powers of all the

creatures and all the powers of nature itself, when their

energies are combined. But the God of truth, burning with

zeal for his own glory, could never have afforded such strong

testimonies as these to false prophets and their false

doctrine: nor could he have borne such witness to any

doctrine even when it was true, provided it was not his, that

is, provided it was not divine. Christ, therefore, said, "If

I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do,

though you believe not me, believe the works." (John x, 37,

38.) It was the same cause also, which induced the widow of

Sarepta to say, on receiving from the hands of Elijah her

son, who, after his death, had been raised to life by the

prophet: "Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and

that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth." (1 Kings

xvii, 24.) That expression of Nicodemus has the same

bearing: "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from

God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except

God be with him." (John iii, 2.) And it was for a similar

reason that the apostle said, "The signs of an apostle were

wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and

mighty deeds." (2 Cor. xii, 12.) There are indeed miracles on

record that were wrought among the gentiles, and under the

auspices of the gods whom they invoked: It is also predicted,

concerning False Prophets, and Antichrist himself, that they

will exhibit many signs and wonders: (Rev. xix, 20.) But

neither in number, nor in magnitude, are they equal to those

which the true God has wrought before all Israel, and in the

view of the whole world. Neither were those feats of their

real miracles, but only astonishing operations performed by

the agency and power of Satan and his instruments, by means

of natural causes, which are concealed from the human

understanding, and escape the cognizance of men. But to deny

the existence of those great and admirable miracles which are

related to have really happened, when they have also the

testimony of both Jews and gentiles, who were the enemies of

the true doctrine -- is an evident token of bare-faced

impudence and execrable stupidity.


Let the antiquity, the propagation, the preservation, and the

truly admirable defense of this doctrine be added -- and they

will afford a bright and perspicuous testimony of its

divinity. If that which is of the highest antiquity possesses

the greatest portion of truth," as Tertullian most wisely and

justly observes, then this doctrine is one of the greatest

truth, because it can trace its origin to the highest

antiquity. It is likewise Divine, because it was manifested

at a time when it could not have been devised by any other

mind; for it had its commencement at the very period when man

was brought into existence. An apostate angel would not then

have proposed any of his doctrines to man, unless God had

previously revealed himself to the intelligent creature whom

he had recently formed: That is, God hindered the fallen

angel, and there was then no cause in existence by which he

might be impelled to engage in such an enterprise. For God

would not suffer man, who had been created after his own

image, to be tempted by his enemy by means of false doctrine,

until, after being abundantly instructed in that which was

true, he was enabled to know that which was false and to

reject it. Neither could any odious feeling of envy against

man have tormented Satan, except God had considered him

worthy of the communication of his word, and had deigned,

through that communication, to make him a partaker of

eternal. felicity, from which Satan had at that period

unhappily fallen.

The Propagation, Preservation, and Defense of this doctrine,

most admirable when separately considered, will all be found

divine, if, in the first place, we attentively fix our eyes

upon those men among whom it is propagated; then on the foes

and adversaries of this doctrine; and, lastly, on the manner

in which its propagation, preservation and defense have

hitherto been and still are conducted. (1.) If we consider

those men among whom this sacred doctrine flourishes, we

shall discover that their nature, on account of its

corruption, rejects this doctrine for a two-fold reason; (i.)

The first is, because in one of its parts it is so entirely

contrary to human and worldly wisdom, as to subject itself to

the accusation of Folly from men of corrupt minds. (ii.) The

second reason is, because in another of its parts it is

decidedly hostile and inimical to worldly lusts and carnal

desires. It is, therefore, rejected by the human

understanding and refused by the will, which are the two

chief faculties in man; for it is according to their orders

and commands that the other faculties are either put in

motion or remain at rest. Yet, notwithstanding all this

natural repugnance, it has been received and believed. The

human mind, therefore, has been conquered, and the subdued

will has been gained, by Him who is the author of both. (2.)

This doctrine has some most powerful and bitter enemies:

Satan, the prince of this world, with all his angels, and the

world his ally: These are foes with whom there can be no

reconciliation. If the subtlety, the power, the malice, the

audacity, the impudence, the perseverance, and the diligence

of these enemies, be placed in opposition to the simplicity,

the inexperience, the weakness, the fear, the inconstancy,

and the slothfulness of the greater part of those who give

their assent to this heavenly doctrine; then will the

greatest wonder be excited, how this doctrine, when attacked

by so many enemies, and defended by such sorry champions, can

stand and remain safe and unmoved. If this wonder and

admiration be succeeded by a supernatural and divine

investigation of its cause, then will God himself be

discovered as the propagator, preserver, and defender of this

doctrine. (3.) The manner also in which its propagation,

preservation and defense are conducted, indicates divinity by

many irrefragible tokens. This doctrine is carried into

effect, without bow or sword -- without horses chariots, or

horsemen; yet it proceeds prosperously along, stands in an

erect posture, and remains unconquered, in the name of the

Lord of Hosts: While its adversaries, though supported by

such apparently able auxiliaries and relying on such powerful

aid, are overthrown, fall down together, and perish. It is

accomplished, not by holding out alluring promises of riches,

glory, and earthly pleasures, but by a previous statement of

the dreaded cross, and by the prescription of such patience

and forbearance as far exceed all human strength and ability.

"He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the

gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel; for I will

shew him How Great Things he must suffer for my name's sake."

(Acts ix, 15, 16.) "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the

midst of wolves." (Matt. x, 16)

Its completion is not effected by the counsels of men, but in

opposition to all human counsels -- whether they be those of

the professors of this doctrine, or those of its adversaries.

For it often happens, that the counsels and machinations

which have been devised for the destruction of this doctrine,

contribute greatly towards its propagation, while the princes

of darkness fret and vex themselves in vain, and are

astonished and confounded, at an issue so contrary to the

expectations which they had formed from their most crafty and

subtle counsels.

St. Luke says, "Saul made havoc of the church, entering into

every house, and, haling men and women, committed them to

prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad, went every

where preaching the word." (Acts vii, 3, 4.) And by this

means Samaria received the word of God. In reference to this

subject St. Paul also says, "But I would ye should

understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me

have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so

that my bonds are manifest in all the palace, and in all

other places." (Phil. i, 12, 13.) For the same cause that

common observation has acquired all its just celebrity: "The

blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." What shall

we say to these things? "The stone which the builders

refused, is become the head stone of the corner: This is the

Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes." (Psalm cxviii,

22, 23.)

Subjoin to these the tremendous judgments of God on the

persecutors of this doctrine, and the miserable death of the

tyrants. One of these, at the very moment when he was

breathing out his polluted and unhappy spirit, was inwardly

constrained publicly to proclaim, though in a frantic and

outrageous tone, the divinity of this doctrine in these

remarkable words: "Thou Hast Conquered, O Galilean!"

Who is there, now, that, with eyes freed from all prejudice,

will look upon such clear proofs of the divinity of

Scripture, and that will not instantly confess: the Apostle

Paul had the best reasons for exclaiming, "If our gospel be

hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the God of this

world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not; lest

the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image

of God, should shine unto them." (2 Cor. iv, 3, 4) As if he

had said, "This is not human darkness; neither is it drawn as

a thick veil over the mind by man himself; but it is

diabolical darkness, and spread by the devil, the prince of

darkness, upon the mind of man, over whom, by the just

judgment of God, he exercises at his pleasure the most

absolute tyranny. If this were not the case, it would be

impossible for this darkness to remain; but, how great soever

its density might be, it would be dispersed by this light

which shines with such overpowering brilliancy."


The sanctity of those by whom the word was first announced to

men and by whom it was committed to writing, conduces to the

same purpose -- to prove its Divinity. For since it appears

that those who were entrusted with the discharge of this

duty, had divested themselves of the wisdom of the world, and

of the feelings and affections of the flesh, entirely putting

off the old man -- and that they were completely eaten up and

consumed by their zeal for the glory of God and the salvation

of men -- it is manifest that such great sanctity as this had

been inspired and infused into them, by Him alone who is the

Holiest of the holy.

Let Moses be the first that is introduced: He was treated in

a very injurious manner by a most ungrateful people, and was

frequently marked out for destruction; yet was he prepared to

purchase their salvation by his own banishment. He said, when

pleading with God, "Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin;

and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou

hast written." (Exod. xxxii, 32.) Behold his zeal for the

salvation of the people entrusted to his charge -- a zeal for

the glory of God! Would you see another reason for this wish

to be devoted to destruction? Read what he had previously

said: "Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say? For

mischief did the Lord bring them out to slay them in the

mountains," (Exod. xxxii, 12,) "because he was not able to

bring them out unto the land which he swear unto their

Fathers." (Num. xiv, 16.) We observe the same zeal in Paul,

when he wishes that himself "were accursed from Christ for

his brethren the Jews, his kinsmen according to the flesh,"

(Rom. 9) from whom he had suffered many and great


David was not ashamed publicly to confess his heavy and

enormous crimes, and to commit them to writing as an eternal

memorial to posterity. Samuel did not shrink from marking in

the records of perpetuity the detestable conduct of his sons;

and Moses did not hesitate to bear a public testimony against

the iniquity and the madness of his ancestors. If even the

least desire of a little glory had possessed their minds,

they might certainly have been able to indulge in

taciturnity, and to conceal in silence these circumstances of

disgrace. Those of them who were engaged in describing the

deeds and achievements of other people, were unacquainted

with the art of offering adulation to great men and nobles,

and of wrongfully attributing to their enemies any unworthy

deed or motive. With a regard to truth alone, in promoting

the glory of God, they placed all persons on an equality; and

made no other distinction between them than that which God

himself has commanded to be made between piety and

wickedness. On receiving from the hand of God their

appointment to this office, they at once and altogether bade

farewell to all the world, and to all the desires which are

in it. "Each of them said unto his father and to his mother,

I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren;

for they observed the word of God, and kept his covenant."

(Deut. xxxiii, 9.)


But what shall we say respecting the constancy of the

professors and martyrs, which they displayed in the torments

that they endured for the truth of this doctrine? Indeed, if

we subject this constancy to the view of the most inflexible

enemies of the doctrine, we shall extort from unwilling

judges a confession of its Divinity. But, that the strength

of this argument may be placed in a clearer light, the mind

must be directed to four particulars: the multitude of the

martyrs, and their condition; the torments which their

enemies inflicted on them, and the patience which they

evinced in enduring them.

(1.) If we direct our inquiries to the multitude of them, it

is innumerable, far exceeding thousands of thousands; on this

account it is out of the power of any one to say, that,

because it was the choice of but a few persons, it ought to

be imputed to frenzy or to weariness of a life that was full

of trouble.

(2.) If we inquire into their condition, we shall find nobles

and peasants, those in authority and their subjects, the

learned and the unlearned, the rich and the poor, the old and

the young; persons of both sexes, men and women, the married

and the unmarried, men of a hardy constitution and inured to

dangers, and girls of tender habits who had been delicately

educated, and whose feet had scarcely ever before stumbled

against the smallest pebble that arose above the surface of

their smooth and level path. Many of the early martyrs were

honourable persons of this description, that no one might

think them to be inflamed by a desire of glory, or

endeavouring to gain applause by the perseverance and

magnanimity that they had evinced in the maintenance of the

sentiments which they had embraced.

(3.) Some of the torments inflicted on such a multitude of

persons and of such various circumstances in life, were of a

common sort, and others unusual, some of them quick in their

operation and others of them slow. Part of the unoffending

victims were nailed to crosses and part of them were

decapitated; some were drowned in rivers, whilst others were

roasted before a slow fire. Several were ground to powder by

the teeth of wild beasts, or were torn in pieces by their

fangs; many were sawn asunder, while others were stoned; and

not a few of them were subjected to punishments which cannot

be expressed, but which are accounted most disgraceful and

infamous, on account of their extreme turpitude and

indelicacy. No species of savage cruelty was omitted which

either the ingenuity of human malignity could invent, which

rage the most conspicuous and furious could excite, or which

even the infernal labouratory of the court of hell could


(4.) And yet, that we may come at once to the patience of

these holy confessors, they bore all these tortures with

constancy and equanimity; nay, they endured them with such a

glad heart and cheerful countenance, as to fatigue even the

restless fury of their persecutors, which has often been

compelled, when wearied out, to yield to the unconquerable

strength of their patience, and to confess itself completely

vanquished. And what was the cause of all this endurance? It

consisted in their unwillingness to recede in the least point

from that religion, the denial of which was the only

circumstance that might enable them to escape danger, and, in

many instances, to acquire glory. What then was the reason of

the great patience which they shewed under their acute

sufferings? It was because they believed, that when this

short life was ended, and after the pains and distresses

which they were called to endure on earth, they would obtain

a blessed immortality. In this particular the combat which

God has maintained with Satan, appears to have resembled a

duel; and the result of it has been, that the Divinity of

God's word has been raised as a superstructure out of the

infamy and ruin of Satan.


The divine Omnipotence and Wisdom have principally employed

these arguments, to prove the Divinity of this blessed word.

But, that the Church might not defile herself by that basest

vice, ingratitude of heart, and that she might perform a

supplementary service in aid of God her Author and of Christ

her Head, she also by her testimony adds to the Divinity of

this word. But it is only an addition; she does not impart

Divinity to it; her province is merely an indication of the

Divine nature of this word, but she does not communicate to

it the impress of Divinity. For unless this word had been

Divine when there was no Church in existence, it would not

have been possible for her members "to be born of this word,

as of incorruptible seed," (1 Pet. i, 23,) to become the sons

of God, and, through faith in this word, "to be made

partakers of the Divine Nature." (2 Pet. i, 4.) The very name

of "authority" takes away from the Church the power of

conferring Divinity on this doctrine. For Authority is

derived from an Author: But the Church is not the Author, she

is only the nursling of this word, being posterior to it in

cause, origin, and time. We do not listen to those who raise

this objection: "The Church is of greater antiquity than the

scripture, because at the time when that word had not been

consigned to writing, the Church had even then an existence."

To trifle in a serious matter with such cavils as this, is

highly unbecoming in Christians, unless they have changed

their former godly manners and are transformed into Jesuits.

The Church is not more ancient than this saying: "The seed of

the woman shall bruise the serpent's head ;" (Gen. iii, 15,)

although she had an existence before this sentence was

recorded by Moses in Scripture. For it was by the faith which

they exercised on this saying, that Adam and Eve became the

Church of God; since, prior to that, they were traitors,

deserters and the kingdom of Satan -- that grand deserter and

apostate. The Church is indeed the pillar of the truth, (1

Tim. iii, 15,) but it is built upon that truth as upon a

foundation, and thus directs to the truth, and brings it

forward into the sight of men. In this way the Church

performs the part of a director and a witness to this truth,

and its guardian, herald, and interpreter. But in her acts of

interpretation, the Church is confined to the sense of the

word itself, and is tied down to the expressions of

Scripture: for, according to the prohibition of St. Paul, it

neither becomes her to be wise above that which is written;"

(1 Cor. iv, 6,) nor is it possible for her to be so, since

she is hindered both by her own imbecility, and the depth of

things divine.

But it will reward our labour, if in a few words we examine

the efficacy of this testimony, since such is the pleasure of

the Papists, who constitute "the authority of the Church" the

commencement and the termination of our certainty, when she

bears witness to the scripture that it is the word of God. In

the first place, the efficacy of the testimony does not

exceed the veracity of the witness. The veracity of the

Church is the veracity of men. But the veracity of men is

imperfect and inconstant, and is always such as to give

occasion to this the remark of truth, "All men are liars."

Neither is the veracity of him that speaks, sufficient to

obtain credit to his testimony, unless the veracity of him

who bears witness concerning the truth appear plain and

evident to him to whom he makes the declaration. But in what

manner will it be possible to make the veracity of the Church

plain and evident? This must be done, either by a notion

conceived , long time before, or by an impression recently

made on the minds of the hearers. But men possess no such

innate notion of the veracity of the Church as is tantamount

to that which declares, "God is true and cannot lie." (Tit.

i, 2.) It is necessary, therefore, that it be impressed by

some recent action; such impression being made either from

within or from without. But the Church is not able to make

any inward impression, for she bears her testimony by

external instruments alone, and does not extend to the inmost

parts of the soul. The impression, therefore, will be

external; which can be no other than a display and indication

of her knowledge and probity, as well as testimony, often

truly so called. But all these things can produce nothing

more than an opinion in the minds of those to whom they are

offered. Opinion, therefore, and not knowledge, is the

supreme effect of this efficacy.

But the Papists retort, "that Christ himself established the

authority of his Church by this saying, "He that heareth you,

heareth me." (Luke x, 16.) When these unhappy reasoners speak

thus, they seem not to be aware that they are establishing

the authority of Scripture before that of the Church. For it

is necessary that credence should be given to that expression

as it was pronounced by Christ, before any authority can, on

its account, be conceded to the Church. But the same reason

will be as tenable in respect to the whole Scripture as to

this expression. Let the Church then be content with that

honour which Christ conferred on her when he made her the

guardian of his word, and appointed her to be the director

and witness to it, the herald and the interpreter.

III. Yet since the arguments arising from all those

observations which we have hitherto adduced, and from any

others which are calculated to prove the Divinity of the

scriptures, can neither disclose to us a right understanding

of the scriptures, nor seal on our minds those meanings which

we have understood, (although the certainty of faith which

God demands from us, and requires us to exercise in his word,

consists of these meanings,) it is a necessary consequence,

that to all these things ought to be added something else, by

the efficacy of which that certainty may be produced in our

minds. And this is the very subject on which we are not

prepared to treat in this the third part of our discourse


We declare, therefore, and we continue to repeat the

declaration, till the gates of hell re-echo the sound, "that

the Holy Spirit, by whose inspiration holy men of God have

spoken this word, and by whose impulse and guidance they

have, as his amanuenses, consigned it to writing; that this

Holy Spirit is the author of that light by the aid of which

we obtain a perception and an understanding of the divine

meanings of the word, and is the Effector of that Certainty

by which we believe those meaning to be truly divine; and

that He is the necessary Author, the all sufficient

Effector." (1.) Scripture demonstrates that He is the

necessary Author, when it says, "The things of God knoweth no

man but the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. ii, 11.) No man can say

that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor. xii,

3.) (2.) But the Scripture introduced him as the sufficient

and the more than sufficient Effector, when it declares, "The

wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory, he

hath revealed unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth

all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Cor. ii, 7, 10.)

The sufficiency, therefore, of the Spirit proceeds from the

plenitude of his knowledge of the secrets of God, and from

the very efficacious revelation which he makes of them. This

sufficiency of the Spirit cannot be more highly extolled than

it is in a subsequent passage, in which the same apostle most

amply commends it, by declaring, "he that is spiritual [a

partaker of this revelation,] judgeth all things," (verse

15,) as having the mind of Christ through his Spirit, which

he has received. Of the same sufficiency the Apostle St. John

is the most illustrious herald. In his general Epistle he

writes these words: "But the anointing which ye have received

of Him, abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach

you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things,

and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you,

ye shall abide in Him." (1 John ii, 27.) "He that believeth

on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself." (1 John v,

10.) To the Thessalonians another apostle writes thus: "Our

Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and

in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. (1 Thess. i, 3.) In

this passage he openly attributes to the power of the Holy

Ghost the Certainty by which the faithful receive the word of

the gospel. The Papists reply, "Many persons boast of the

revelation of the Spirit, who, nevertheless, are destitute of

such a revelation. It is impossible, therefore, for the

faithful safely to rest in it." Are these fair words? Away

with such blasphemy! If the Jews glory in their Talmud and

their Cabala, and the Mahometans in their Alcoran, and if

both of these boast themselves that they are Churches, cannot

credence therefore be given with sufficient safety to the

scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, when they affirm

their Divine Origin? Will the true Church be any less a

Church because the sons of the stranger arrogate that title

to themselves? This is the distinction between opinion and

knowledge. It is their opinion, that they know that of which

they are really ignorant. But they who do know it, have an

assured perception of their knowledge. "It is the Spirit that

beareth witness that the Spirit is truth" (1 John v, 8,) that

is, the doctrine and the meanings comprehended in that

doctrine, are truth."

"But that attesting witness of the Spirit which is revealed

in us, cannot convince others of the truth of the Divine

word." What then? It will convince them when it has also

breathed on them: it will breathe its Divine afflatus on

them, if they be the sons of the church, all of whom shall be

taught of God: every man of them will hear and learn of the

Father, and will come unto Christ." (John vi, 45.) Neither

can the testimony of any Church convince all men of the truth

and divinity of the sacred writings. The Papists, who

arrogate to themselves exclusively the title of "the Church,"

experience the small degree of credit which is given to their

testimonies, by those who have not received an afflatus from

the spirit of the Roman See.

"But it is necessary that there should be a testimony in the

Church of such a high character as to render it imperative on

all men to pay it due deference." True. It was the incumbent

duty of the Jews to pay deference to the testimony of Christ

when he was speaking to them; the Pharisees ought not to have

contradicted Stephen in the midst of his discourse; and Jews

and Gentiles, without any exception, were bound to yield

credence to the preaching of the apostles, confirmed as it

was by so many and such astonishing miracles. But the duties

here recited, were disregarded by all these parties. What was

the reason of this their neglect? The voluntary hardening of

their hearts, and that blindness of their minds, which was

introduced by the Devil.

If the Papists still contend, that "such a testimony as this

ought to exist in the Church, against which no one shall

actually offer any contradiction," we deny the assertion. And

experience testifies, that a testimony of this kind never yet

had an existence, that it does not now exist, and (if we may

form our judgment from the scriptures,) we certainly think

that it never will exist.

"But perhaps the Holy Ghost, who is the Author and Effector

of this testimony, has entered into an engagement with the

Church, not to inspire and seal on the minds of men this

certainty, except through her, and by the intervention of her

authority." The Holy Ghost does, undoubtedly, according to

the good pleasure of his own will, make use of some organ or

instrument in performing these his offices. But this

instrument is the word of God, which is comprehended in the

sacred books of scripture; an instrument produced and brought

forward by Himself, and instructed in his truth. The Apostle

to the Hebrews in a most excellent manner describes the

efficacy which is impressed on this instrument by the Holy

Spirit, in these words: "For the word of God is quick and

powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even

to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints

and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of

the heart." (Heb. iv, 10.) Its effect is called "Faith," by

the Apostle. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the

word of God." (Rom. x, 7.) If any act of the Church occurs in

this place, it is that by which she is occupied in the

sincere preaching of this word, and by which she sedulously

exercises herself in promoting its publication. But even this

is not so properly the occupation of the Church, as of "the

Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers," whom

Christ has constituted his labourers "for the edifying of his

body, which is the Church.'" (Ephes. iv, 11.) But we must in

this place deduce an observation from the very nature of

things in genera], as well as of this thing in particular; it

is, that the First Cause can extend much farther by its own

action, than it is possible for an instrumental cause to do;

and that the Holy Ghost gives to the word all that force

which he afterwards employs, such being the great efficacy

with which it is endued and applied, that whomsoever he only

counsels by his word he himself persuades by imparting Divine

meanings to the word, by enlightening the mind as with a

lamp, and by inspiring and sealing it by his own immediate

action. The Papists pretend, that certain acts are necessary

to the production of true faith; and they say that those acts

cannot be performed except by the judgment and testimony of

the Church -- such as to believe that any book is the

production of Matthew or Luke -- to discern between a

Canonical and an Apocryphal verse, and to distinguish between

this or that reading, according to the variation in different

copies. But, since there is a controversy concerning the

weight and necessity of those acts, and since the dispute is

no less than how far they may be performed by the Church --

lest I should fatigue my most illustrious auditory by two

great prolixity, I will omit at present any further mention

of these topics; and will by Divine assistance explain them

at some future opportunity.

My most illustrious and accomplished hearers, we have already

perceived, that both the pages of our sacred Theology are

full of God and Christ, and of the Spirit of both of them. If

any inquiry be made for the Object, God and Christ by the

Spirit are pointed out to us. If we search for the Author,

God and Christ by the operation of the Spirit spontaneously

occur. If we consider the End proposed, our union with God

and Christ offers itself -- an end not to be obtained except

through the communication of the Spirit. If we inquire

concerning the Truth and Certainty of the doctrine; God in

Christ, by means of the efficacy of the Holy Ghost, most

clearly convinces our minds of the Truth, and in a very

powerful manner seals the Certainty on our hearts.

All the glory, therefore, of this revelation is deservedly

due to God and Christ in the Holy Spirit: and most deservedly

are thanks due from us to them, and must be given to them,

through the Holy Ghost, for such an august and necessary

benefit as this which they have conferred on us. But we can

present to our God and Christ in the Holy Spirit no gratitude

more grateful, and can ascribe no glory more glorious, than

this, the application of our minds to an assiduous

contemplation and a devout meditation on the knowledge of

such a noble object. But in our meditations upon it, (to

prevent us from straying into the paths of error,) let us

betake ourselves to the revelation which has been made of

this doctrine. From the word of this revelation alone, let us

learn the wisdom of endeavouring, by an ardent desire and in

an unwearied course, to attain unto that ultimate design

which ought to be our constant aim -- that most blessed end

of our union with God and Christ. Let us never indulge in any

doubts concerning the truth of this revelation; but, "the

full assurance of faith being impressed upon our minds and

hearts by the inspiration and sealing of the Holy Spirit, let

us adhere to this word, "till[at length] we all come in the

unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,

unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the

fullness of Christ." (Ephes. iv, 13.) I most humbly

supplicate and intreat God our merciful Father, that he would

be pleased to grant this great blessing to us, through the

Son of his love, and by the communication of his Holy Spirit.

And to him be ascribed all praise, and honour, and glory,

forever and ever. Amen.



The Noble the Lord Rector -- the Very Famous, Reverend,

Skillful, Intelligent, and Learned Men, who are the Fathers

of this Most Celebrated University -- the Rest of You, Most

Worthy Strangers of Every Degree -- and You, Most Noble and

Studious Young Men, who are the Nursery of the Republic and

the Church, and who are Increasing Every Day in Bloom and


If there be any order of men in whom it is utterly unbecoming

to aspire after the honours of this world, especially after

those honours which are accompanied by pomp and applause,

that, without doubt, is the order ecclesiastical -- a body of

men who ought to be entirely occupied with a zeal for God,

and for the attainment of that glory which is at his

disposal. Yet, since, according to the laudable institutions

of our ancestors, the usage has obtained in all well

regulated Universities, to admit no man to the office of

instructor in them, who has not previously signalized himself

by some public and solemn testimony of probity and scientific

ability -- this sacred order of men have not refused a

compliance with such public modes of decision, provided they

be conducted in a way that is holy, decorous, and according

to godliness. So far, indeed, are those who have been set

apart to the pastoral office from being averse to public

proceedings of this kind, that they exceedingly covet and

desire them alone, because they conceive them to be of the

first necessity to the Church of Christ. For they are mindful

of this apostolical charge, "Lay hands suddenly on no man ;"

(1 Tim. v, 29,) and of the other, which directs that a Bishop

and a Teacher of the Church be "apt to teach, holding fast

the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be

able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convince the

gainsayers." (Tit. i, 9.) I do not, therefore, suppose one

person, in this numerous assembly, can be so ignorant of the

public ceremonies of this University, or can hold them in

such little estimation, as either to evince surprise at the

undertaking in which we are now engaged, or wish to give it

an unfavourable interpretation. But since it has always been

a part of the custom of our ancestors, in academic

festivities of this description, to choose some subject of

discourse, the investigation of which in the fear of the Lord

might promote the Divine glory and the profit of the hearers,

and might excite them to pious and importunate supplication,

I also can perceive no cause why I ought not conscientiously

to comply with this custom. And although at the sight of this

very respectable, numerous and learned assembly, I feel

strongly affected with a sense of my defective eloquence and

tremble not a little, yet I have selected a certain theme for

my discourse which agrees well with my profession, and is

full of grandeur, sublimnity and adorable majesty. In making

choice of it, I have not been overawed by the edict of

Horace, which says,

"Select, all ye who write, a subject fit, A subject not too

mighty for your wit! And ere you lay your shoulders to the

wheel, Weigh well their strength, and all their wetness


For this declaration is not applicable in the least to

theological subjects, all of which by their dignity and

importance exceed the capacity and mental energy of every

human being, and of angels themselves. A view of them so

affected the Apostle Paul, (who, rapt up into the third

heaven, had heard words ineffable,) that they compelled him

to break forth into this exclamation: "Who is sufficient for

these things," (2 Cor. ii, 16.) If, therefore, I be not

permitted to disregard the provisions of this Horatian

statute, I must either transgress the boundaries of my

profession, or be content to remain silent. But I am

permitted to disregard the terms of this statute; and to do

so, is perfectly lawful.

For whatever things tend to the glory of God and to the

salvation of men, ought to be celebrated in a devout spirit

in the congregations of the saints, and to be proclaimed with

a grateful voice. I therefore propose to speak on THE

PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST: Not because I have persuaded myself of

my capability to declare anything concerning it, which is

demanded either by the dignity of my subject, or by the

respectability of this numerous assembly; for it will be

quite sufficient, and I shall consider that I have abundantly

discharged my duty, if according to the necessity of the case

I shall utter something that will contribute to the general

edification: But I choose this theme that I may obtain, in

behalf of my oration, such grace and favour from the

excellence of its subject, as I cannot possibly confer on it

by any eloquence in the mode of my address. Since, however,

it is impossible for us either to form in our minds just and

holy conceptions about such a sublime mystery, or to give

utterance to them with our lips, unless the power of God

influence our mental faculties and our tongues, let us by

prayer and supplication implore his present aid, in the name

of Jesus Christ our great High Priest. "Do thou, therefore, O

holy and merciful God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Fountain of all grace and truth, vouchsafe to grant thy

favourable presence to us who are a great congregation

assembled together in thy holy name. Sprinkle thou our

spirits, souls, and bodies, with the most gracious dew of thy

immeasurable holiness, that the converse of thy saints with

each other may be pleasing to thee. Assist us by the grace of

thy Holy Spirit, who may yet more and more illuminate our

minds -- imbued with the true knowledge of Thyself and thy

Son; may He also inflame our hearts with a sincere zeal for

thy glory; may He open my mouth and guide my tongue, that I

may be enabled to declare concerning the Priesthood of thy

Son those things which are true and just and holy, to the

glory of thy name and to the gathering of all of us together

in the Lord. Amen."

Having now in an appropriate manner offered up those vows

which well become the commencement of our undertaking, we

will, by the help of God, proceed to the subject posed, after

I have intreated all of you, who have been pleased to grace

this solemn act of ours with your noble, learned and most

gratifying presence, to give me that undivided attention

which the subject deserves, while I speak on a matter of the

most serious importance, and, according to your accustomed

kindness, to shew me that favour and benevolence which are to

me of the greatest necessity. That I may not abuse your

patience, I engage to consult brevity as much as our theme

will allow. But we must begin with the very first principles

of Priesthood, that from thence the discourse may

appropriately be brought down to the Priesthood of Christ, on

which we profess to treat.

First. The first of those relations which subsist between God

and men, has respect to something given and something

received. The latter requires another relation supplementary

to itself -- a relation which taking its commencement from

men, may terminate in God; and that is, an acknowledgment of

a benefit received, to the honour of the munificent Donor. It

is also a debt, due on account of a benefit already

conferred, but which is not to be paid except on the demand

and according to the regulation of the Giver; whose intention

it has always been, that the will of a creature should not be

the measure of his honour. His benignity likewise is so

immense, that he never requires from those who are under

obligations to him, the grateful acknowledgment of the

benefit communicated in the first instance, except when he

has bound them to himself by the larger, and far superior

benefit, of a mutual covenant. But the extreme trait in that

goodness, is, that he has bound himself to bestow on the same

persons favours of yet greater excellence by infinite

degrees. This is the order which he adopts; he wishes himself

first to be engaged to them, before they are considered to be

engaged to Him. For every covenant; that is concluded between

God and men, consists of two parts: (1.) The preceding

promise of God, by which he obliges himself to some duty and

to acts correspondent with that duty: and (2.) The subsequent

definition and appointment of the duty, which, it is

stipulated, shall in return be required of men, and according

to which a mutual correspondence subsists between men and

God. He promises, that he will be to them a king and a God,

and that he will discharge towards them all the offices of a

good King; while he stipulates, as a counter obligation, that

they become his people, that in this relation they live

according to his commands and that they ask and expect all

blessings from his goodness. These two acts -- a life

according to his commands, and an expectation of all

blessings from his goodness -- comprise the duty of men

towards God, according to the covenant into which he first

entered with them.

On the whole, therefore, the duties of two functions are to

be performed between God and men who have entered into

covenant with him: First, a regal one, which is of supreme

authority: Secondly, a religious one, of devoted submission.

(1.) The use of the former is in the communication of every

needful good, and in the imposing of laws or the act of

legislation. Under it we likewise comprehend the gift of

prophecy, which is nothing more than the annunciation of the

royal pleasure, whether it be communicated by God himself, or

by some one of his deputies or ambassadors as a kind of

internuncio to the covenant. That no one may think the

prophetic office, of which the scriptures make such frequent

mention, is a matter of little solicitude to us, we assign it

the place of a substitute under the Chief Architect.

(2.) But the further consideration of the regal duty being at

present omitted, we shall proceed to a nearer inspection of

that which is religious.. We have already deduced its origin

from the act of covenanting; we have propounded it, in the

exercise of the regal office, as something that is due; and

we place its proper action in thanksgiving and intreaty. This

action is required to be religiously performed, according to

their common vocation, by every one of the great body of

those who are in covenant; and to this end they have been

sanctified by the word of the covenant, and have all been

constituted priests to God, that they might offer gifts and

prayers to The Most High. But since God loves order, he who

is himself the only instance of order in its perfection,

willed that, out of the number of those who were sanctified,

some one should in a peculiar manner be separated to him;

that he who was thus set apart should, by a special and

extraordinary vocation, be qualified for the office of the

priesthood; and that, approaching more intimately and with

greater freedom to the throne of God, he should, in the place

of his associates in the same covenant and religion, take the

charge and management of whatever affairs were to be

transacted before God on their account.

From this circumstance is to be traced the existence of the

office of the priesthood, the duties of which were to be

discharged before God in behalf of others -- an office

undoubtedly of vast dignity and of special honour among

mankind. Although the priest must be taken from among men,

and must be appointed in their behalf, yet it does not

appertain to men themselves, to designate whom they will to

sustain that office; neither does it belong to any one to

arrogate that honour to himself. But as the office itself is

an act of the divine pleasure, so likewise the choice of the

person who must discharge its duties, rests with God himself:

and it was his will, that the office should be fulfilled by

him who for some just reason held precedence among his

kindred by consanguinity. This was the father and master of

the family, and his successor was the first born. We have

examples of this in the holy patriarchs, both before and

after the deluge. We behold this expressly in Noah, Abraham,

and Job. There are also those, (not occupying the lowest

seats in judgment,) who say that Cain and Abel brought their

sacrifices to Adam their father, that he might offer them to

the Lord; and they derive this opinion from the word aykh

used in the same passage. Though these examples are selected

from the description of that period when sin had made its

entrance into the world, yet a confirmation of their truth is

obtained in this primitive institution of the human race, of

which we are now treating. For it is peculiar to that period,

that all the duties of the priesthood were confined within

the act of offering only an eucharistic sacrifice and

supplications. Having therefore in due form executed these

functions, the priest, in the name of his compeers, was by

the appeased Deity admitted to a familiar intercourse with

Him, and obtained from Him a charge to execute among his

kindred, in the name of God himself, and as "the messenger,

or angel, of the Lord of Hosts." For the Lord revealed to him

the Divine will and pleasure; that, on returning from his

intercourse with God, he might declare it to the people. This

will of God consisted of two parts: (1.) That which he

required to be performed by his covenant people; and (2.)

That which it was his wish to perform for their benefit. In

this charge, which was committed to the priest, to be

executed by him, the administration of prophecy was also

included; on which account it is said, "They should seek the

LAW at the mouth of the priest, for he is the messenger of

the Lord of Hosts." (Mal. ii, 7.) And since that second part

of the Divine will was to be proclaimed from an assured trust

and confidence in the truth of the Divine promises, and with

a holy and affectionate feeling toward his own species -- in

that view, he was invested with a commission to dispense

benedictions. In this manner, discharging the duties of a

double embassy, (that of men to God, and that of God to men,)

he acted, on both sides, the part of a Mediator of the

covenant into which the parties had mutually entered.

Nevertheless, not content with having conferred this honour

on him whom he had sanctified, our God, all-bountiful,

elevated him likewise to the delegated or vicarious dignity

of the regal office, that he, bearing the image of God among

his brethren, might then be able to administer justice to

them in His Name, and might manage, for their common benefit,

those affairs with which he was entrusted. From this source

arose what may be considered the native union of the Priestly

and the Kingly offices, which also obtained among the holy

patriarchs after the entrance of sin, and of which express

mention is made in the person of Melchizedec. This was

signified in a general manner by the patriarch Jacob, when he

declared Reuben, his first born son, to be "the excellency of

dignity and the excellency of power," which were his due on

account of the right of primogeniture. For certain reasons,

however, the kingly functions were afterwards separated from

the priestly, by the will of God, who, dividing them into two

parts among his people the children of Israel, transferred

the kingly office to Judah and the priestly to Levi.

But it was proper, that this approach to God, through the

oblation of an eucharistic sacrifice and prayers, should be

made with a pure mind, holy affections, and with hands, as

well as the other members of the body, free from defilement.

This was required, even before the first transgression.

"Sanctify yourselves, and be ye holy; for I the Lord your God

am holy." (Lev. xix, 2, &c.) "God heareth not sinners." (John

ix, 31.) "Bring no more vain oblations, for your hands are

full of blood." (Isa. i, 15). The will of God respecting

this is constant and perpetual. But Adam, who was the first

man and the first priest, did not long administer his office

in a becoming manner; for, refusing to obey God, he tasted

the fruit of the forbidden tree; and, by that foul crime of

disobedience and revolt, he at once defiled his soul which

had been sanctified to God, and his body. By this wicked deed

he both lost all right to the priesthood, and was in reality

deprived of it by the Divine sentence, which was clearly

signified by his expulsion from Paradise, where he had

appeared before God in that which was a type of His own

dwelling-place. This was in accordance with the invariable

rule of Divine Justice: "Be it far from me, [that thou

shouldst any longer discharge before me the duties of the

priesthood:] for them that honour me, I will honour; and they

that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed." (1 Sam. ii, 30.)

But he did not fall alone: All whose persons he at that time

represented and whose cause he pleaded, (although they had

not then come into existence,) were with him cast down from

the elevated summit of such a high dignity. Neither did they

fall from the priesthood only, but likewise from the

covenant, of which the priest was both the Mediator and the

Internuncio; and God ceased to be the King and God of men,

and men were no longer recognized as his people. The

existence of the priesthood itself was at an end; for there

was no one capable of fulfilling its duties according to the

design of that covenant. The eucharistic sacrifice, the

invocation of the name of God, and the gracious communication

between God and men, all ceased together.

Most miserable, and deserving of the deepest commiseration,

was the condition of mankind in that state of their affairs,

if this declaration be a true one, "Happy is the people whose

God is the Lord !" (Psalm cxliv, 15.) And this inevitable

misery would have rested upon Adam and his race for ever, had

not Jehovah, full of mercy and commiseration, deigned to

receive them into favour, and resolved to enter into another

covenant with the same parties; not according to that which

they had transgressed, and which was then become obsolete and

had been abolished; but into a new covenant of grace. But the

Divine justice and truth could not permit this to be done,

except through the agency of an umpire and surety, who might

undertake the part of a Mediator between the offended God and

sinners. Such a Mediator could not then approach to God with

an eucharistic sacrifice for benefits conferred upon the

human race, or with prayers which might intreat only for a

continuance and an increase of them: But he had to approach

into the Divine presence to offer sacrifice for the act of

hostility which they had committed against God by

transgressing his commandment, and to offer prayers for

obtaining the remission of their transgressions. Hence arose

the necessity of an Expiatory Sacrifice; and, on that

account, a new priesthood was to be instituted, by the

operation of which the sin that had been committed might be

expiated, and access to the throne of God's grace might be

granted to man through a sinner: this is the priesthood which

belongs to our Christ, the Anointed One, alone.

But God, who is the Supremely Wise Disposer of times and

seasons, would not permit the discharge of the functions

appertaining to this priesthood to commence immediately after

the formation of the world, and the introduction of sin. It

was his pleasure, that the necessity of it should be first

correctly understood and appreciated, by a conviction on

men's consciences of the multitude, heinousness and

aggravated nature of their sins. It was also his will, that

the minds of men should be affected with a serious and

earnest desire for it, yet so that they might in the mean

time be supported against despair, arising from a

consciousness of their sins, which could not be removed

except by means of that Divine priesthood, the future

commencement of which inspired them with hope and confidence.

All these purposes God effected by the temporary institution

of that typical priesthood, the duties of which infirm and

sinful men "after the law of a carnal commandment" could

perform, by the immolation of beasts sanctified for that

service; which priesthood was at first established in

different parts of the world, and afterwards among the

Israelites, who were specially elected to be a sacerdotal

nation. When the blood of beasts was shed, in which was their

life, (Lev. xvii, 14) the people contemplated, in the death

of the animals, their own demerits, for the beasts had not

sinned that they by death should be punished as victims for

transgression. After investigating this subject with greater

diligence, and deliberately weighing it in the equal balances

of their judgment, they plainly perceived and understood that

their sins could not possibly be expiated by those

sacrifices, which were of a species different from their own,

and more despicable and mean than human beings. From these

premises they must of necessity have concluded, that,

notwithstanding they offered those animals, they in such an

act delivered to God nothing less than their own bond,

sealing it in his presence with an acknowledgment of their

personal sins, and confessing the debt which they had

incurred. Yet, because these sacrifices were of Divine

Institution, and because God received them at the hands of

men as incense whose odour was fragrant and agreeable, from

these circumstances the offenders conceived the hope of

obtaining favour and pardon, reasoning thus within

themselves, as did Sampson's mother: "If the Lord were

pleased to kill us, he would not have received burnt-offering

and a meat-offering at our hands." (Judges xiii, 23.) With

such a hope they strengthened their spirits that were ready

to faint, and, confiding in the Divine promise, they expected

in all the ardour of desire the dispensation of a priesthood

which was prefigured under the typical one; "searching what,

or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in

them did signify, when it testified beforehand the Sufferings

of Christ, and the Glory that should follow." (1 Pet. i, 11.)

But, since the mind pants after the very delightful

consideration of this priesthood, our oration hastens towards

it; and, having some regard to the lateness of the hour, and

wishing not to encroach on your comfort, we shall omit any

further allusion to that branch of the priesthood which has

hitherto occupied our attention.

Secondly. In discoursing on the Priesthood of Christ, we will

confine our observations to three points; and, on condition

that you receive the succeeding part of my oration with that

kindness and attention which you have hitherto manifested,

and which I still hope and desire to receive, we will

describe: First. The Imposing of the Office. Secondly. Its

Execution and Administration. And Thirdly. The Fruits of the

Office thus Administered, and the Utility Which We Derive

From It.

I. In respect to the Imposing of the Office, the subject

itself presents us with three topics to be discussed in

order. (1.) The person who imposes it. (2.) The person on

whom it is imposed, or to whom it is entrusted. And (3.) The

manner of his appointment, and of his undertaking this


1. The person imposing it is God, the Father of our Lord

Jesus Christ. Since this act of imposing belongs to the

economy and dispensation of our salvation, the persons who

are comprised under this one Divine Monarchy are to be

distinctly considered according to the rule of the

scriptures, which ought to have the precedence in this

inquiry, and according to the rules and guidance of the

orthodox Fathers that agree with those scriptures. It is J

EHOVAH who imposes this office, and who, while the princes of

darkness fret themselves and rage in vain, says to his

Messiah, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask

of me, and I shall give thee the Heathen for thine

inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy

possession." (Psalm ii, 8.) He it is who, when he commanded

Messiah to sit at his right hand, repeated his holy and

revered word with an oath, saying, "Thou art a Priest forever

after the order of Melchizedec." (Psalm cx, 4.) This is He

who imposes the office, and that by a right the most just and

deserved. For "with him we have to do, who, dwelling in the

light unto which no man can approach," remains continually in

the seat of his Majesty. He preserves his own authority safe

and unimpaired to himself, "without any abasement or

lessening of his person," as the voice of antiquity expresses

it; and retains entire, within himself, the right of

demanding satisfaction from the sinner for the injuries which

He has sustained. From this right he has not thought fit to

recede, or to resign any part of it, on account of the rigid

inflexibility of his justice, according to which he hates

iniquity and does not permit a wicked person to dwell in his

presence. This, therefore, is the Divine Person in whose

hands rest both the right and the power of imposition; the

fact of his having also the will, is decided by the very act

of imposition.

But an inquiry must be made into the Cause of this imposition

which we shall not find, except, first, in the conflict

between justice and gracious mercy; and, afterwards, in their

amicable agreement, or rather their junction by means of

wisdom's conciliating assistance.

(1.) Justice demanded, on her part, the punishment due to her

from a sinful creature; and this demand she the more rigidly

enforced, by the greater equity with which she had threatened

it, and the greater truth with which it had been openly

foretold and declared.

Gracious Mercy, like a pious mother, moving with bowels of

commiseration, desired to avert that punishment in which was

placed the extreme misery of the creature. For she thought

that, though the remission of that punishment was not due to

the cause of it, yet such a favour ought to be granted to her

by a right of the greatest equity; because it is one of her

chief properties to "rejoice against judgment." (James ii,


Justice, tenacious of her purpose, rejoined, that the throne

of grace, she must confess, was sublimely elevated above the

tribunal of justice: but she could not bear with patient

indifference that no regard should be paid to her, and her

suit not to be admitted, while the authority of managing the

whole affair was to be transferred to mercy. Since, however,

it was a part of the oath administered to justice when she

entered into office, "that she should render to every one his

own," she would yield entirely to mercy, provided a method

could be devised by which her own inflexibility could be

declared, as well as the excess of her hatred to sin.

(2.) But to find out that method, was not the province of

Mercy. It was necessary, therefore, to call in the aid of

Wisdom to adjust the mighty difference, and to reconcile by

an amicable union those two combatants that were, in God, the

supreme protectresses of all equity and goodness. Being

called upon, she came, and at once discovered a method, and

affirmed that it was possible to render to each of them that

which belonged to her; for if the punishment due to sin

appeared desirable to Justice and odious to Mercy, it might

be transmuted into an expiatory sacrifice, the oblation of

which, on account of the voluntary suffering of death, (which

is the punishment adjudged to sin,) might appease Justice,

and open such a way for Mercy as she had desired. Both of

them instantly assented to this proposal, and made a decree

according to the terms of agreement settled by Wisdom, their

common arbitrator.

2. But, that we may come to the Second Point, a priest was

next to be sought, to offer the sacrifice: For that was a

function of the priesthood. A sacrifice was likewise to be

sought; and with this condition annexed to it, that the same

person should be both priest and sacrifice. This was required

by the plan of the true priesthood and sacrifice, from which

the typical and symbolical greatly differs. But in the

different orders of creatures neither sacrifice nor priest

could be found.

It was not possible for an angel to become a priest; because

"he was to be taken from among men and to be ordained from

men in things pertaining to God." (Heb. v, 1.) Neither could

an angel be a sacrifice; because it was not just that the

death of an angel should be an expiation for a crime which a

man had perpetrated: And if this had even been most proper,

yet man could never have been induced to believe that an

angelical sacrifice had been offered by an angel for him, or,

if it had been so offered, that it was of the least avail.

Application was then to be made to men themselves. But, among

them, not one could be found in whom it would have been a

becoming act to execute the office of the priesthood, and who

had either ability or inclination for the undertaking. For

all men were sinners; all were terrified with a consciousness

of their delinquency; and all were detained captive under the

tyranny of sin and Satan. It was not lawful for a sinner to

approach to God, who is pure Light, for the purpose of

offering sacrifice; because, being affrighted by his own

internal perception of his crime, he could not support a

sight of the countenance of an incensed God, before whom it

was still necessary that he should appear. Being placed under

the dominion of sin and Satan, he was neither willing, nor

had he the power to will, to execute an office, the duties of

which were to be discharged for the benefit of others, out of

love to them. The same consideration likewise tends to the

rejection of every human sacrifice. Yet the priest was to be

taken from among men, and the oblation to God was to consist

of a human victim.

In this state of affairs, the assistance of Wisdom was again

required in the Divine Council. She declared that a man must

be born from among men, who might have a nature in common

with the rest of his brethren, that, being in all things

tempted as they were, he might be able to sympathize with

others in their sufferings; and yet, that he should neither

be reckoned in the order of the rest, nor should be made man

according to the law of the primitive creation and

benediction; that he should not be under dominion of sin;

that he should be one in whom Satan could find nothing worthy

of condemnation, who should not be tormented by a

consciousness of sin, and who should not even know sin, that

is, one who should be "born in the likeness of sinful flesh,

and yet without sin. For such a high priest became us, who is

holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners." (Heb.

vii, 26.) But, that he might have a community of nature with

men, he ought to be born of a human being; and, that he might

have no participation in crime with them, but might be holy,

he ought to be conceived by the Holy Ghost, because

sanctification is his proper work. By the Holy Spirit, the

nativity which was above and yet according to nature, might

through the virtue of the mystery, restore nature, as it

surpassed her in the transcendent excellence of the miracle.

But the dignity of this priesthood was greater, and its

functions more weighty and important, than man even in his

pure state was competent to sustain or discharge. The

benefits also to be obtained by it, infinitely exceeded the

value of man when in his greatest state of purity. Therefore,

the Word of God, who from the beginning was with God, and by

whom the worlds, and all things visible and invisible, were

created, ought himself to be made flesh, to undertake the

office of the priesthood, and to offer his own flesh to God

as a sacrifice for the life of the world. We now have the

person who was entrusted with the priesthood, and to whom the

province was assigned of atoning for the common offense: It

is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and of man, a high priest of

such great excellence, that the transgression whose demerits

have obtained this mighty Redeemer, might almost seem to have

been a happy circumstance.

3. Let us proceed to the mode of its being imposed or

undertaken. This mode is according to covenant, which, on

God's part, received an oath for its confirmation. As it is

according to covenant, it becomes a solemnity appointed by

God, with whom rests the appointment to the priesthood. For

the Levitical priesthood was conferred on Levi according to

covenant, as the Lord declares by the prophet Malachi: "My

covenant was with him of life and peace." (ii, 5.) It is,

however, peculiar to this priesthood of Christ, that the

covenant on which it is founded, was confirmed by an oath.

Let us briefly consider each of them.

The covenant into which God entered with our High Priest,

Jesus Christ, consisted, on the part of God, of the demand of

an action to be performed, and of the promise of an immense

remuneration. On the part of Christ, our High Priest, it

consisted of an accepting of the Promise, and a voluntary

engagement to Perform the Action. First, God required of him,

that he should lay down his soul as a victim in sacrifice for

sin, (Isa. liii, 11,) that he should give his flesh for the

light of the world, (John vi, 51,) and that he should pay the

price of redemption for the sins and the captivity of the

human race. God "promised" that, if he performed all this,

"he should see a seed whose days should be prolonged," (Isa.

liii, 11,) and that he should be himself "an everlasting

Priest after the order of Melchizedec," (cx, 4,) that is, he

should, by the discharge of his priestly functions, be

elevated to the regal dignity. Secondly, Christ, our High

Priest, accepted of these conditions, and permitted the

province to be assigned to him of atoning for our

transgressions, exclaiming "Lo, I come that I may do thy

will, O my God." (Psalm xl, 8.) But he accepted them under a

stipulation, that, on completing his great undertaking, he

should forever enjoy the honour of a priesthood similar to

that of Melchizedec, and that, being placed on his royal

throne, he might, as King of Righteousness and Prince of

Peace, rule in righteousness the people subject to his sway,

and might dispense peace to his people. He, therefore, "for

the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising

the shame," (Heb. xii, 2,) that, "being anointed with the oil

of gladness above his fellows," (Psalm xlv, 7,) he might sit

forever in the throne of equity at the right hand of the

throne of God.

Great, indeed, was the condescension of the all-powerful God

in being willing to treat with our High Priest rather in the

way of covenant, than by a display of his authority. And

strong were the pious affections of our High Priest, who did

not refuse to take upon himself, on our account, the

discharge of those difficult and arduous duties which were

full of pain, trouble, and misery. Most glorious act,

performed by thee, O Christ, who art infinite in goodness!

Thou great High Priest, accept of the honours due to thy

pious affection, and continue in that way to proceed to

glory, to the complete consecration of our salvation! For it

was the will of God, that the duties of the office should be

administered from a voluntary and disinterested zeal and

affection for his glory and the salvation of sinners; and it

was a deed worthy of his abundant benignity, to recompense

with a large reward the voluntary promptitude which Christ


God added an oath to the covenant, both for the purpose of

confirming it, and as a demonstration of the dignity and

unchangeable nature of that priesthood. Though the constant

and unvarying veracity of God's nature might very properly

set aside the necessity of an oath, yet as he had conformed

to the customs of men in their method of solemnizing

agreements, it was his pleasure by an oath to confirm his

covenant; that our High Priest, relying in assured hope on

the two-fold and immovable anchor of the promise and of the

oath, "might despise the shame and endure the cross." The

immutability and perpetuity of this priesthood have been

pointed out by the oath which was added to the covenant. For

whatever that be which God confirms by an oath, it is

something eternal and immutable.

But it may be asked, "Are not all the words which God speaks,

all the promises which he makes, and all the covenants into

which he enters, of the same nature, even when they are

unaccompanied by the sanctity of an oath ," Let me be

permitted to describe the difference between the two cases

here stated, and to prove it by an important example. There

are two methods or plans by which it might be possible for

man to arrive at a state of righteousness before God, and to

obtain life from him. The one is according to righteousness

through the law, by works and "of debt;" the other is

according to mercy through the gospel, "by grace, and through

faith:" These two methods are so constituted as not to allow

both of them to be in a course of operation at the same time;

but they proceed on the principle, that when the first of

them is made void, a vacancy may be created for the second.

In the beginning, therefore, it was the will of God to

prescribe to man the first of these methods; which

arrangement was required by his righteousness and the

primitive institution of mankind. But it was not his pleasure

to deal strictly with man according to the process of that

legal covenant, and peremptorily to pronounce a destructive

sentence against him in conformity with the rigor of the law.

Wherefore, he did not subjoin an oath to that covenant, lest

such an addition should have served to point out its

immutability, a quality which God would not permit it to

possess. The necessary consequence of this was, that when the

first covenant was made void through sin, a vacancy was

created by the good pleasure of God for another and a better

covenant, in the manifestation of which he employed an oath,

because it was to be the last and peremptory one respecting

the method of obtaining righteousness and life. "By myself

have I sworn, saith the Lord, that in thy seed shall all the

nations of the earth be blessed." (Gen. xxii, 18.) "As I

live, saith the Lord, have I any pleasure at all that the

wicked should die, and not that he should return from his

ways and live" (Ezek. xviii, 23.) "So I swear in my wrath,

They shall not enter into my rest. And to whom swear he that

they should not enter into his rest, but to them that

believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because

of unbelief." (Heb. iii, 11, 18.) For the same reason, it is

said, "The wrath of God, [from which it is possible for

sinners to be liberated by faith in Christ,] abides on those

who are unbelievers." (John iii, 36.) A similar process is

observed in relation to the priesthood. For he did not

confirm with an oath the Levitical priesthood, which had been

imposed until the time of reformation." (Heb. ix, 10.) But

because it was his will that the priesthood of Christ should

be everlasting, he ratified it by an oath. The apostle to the

Hebrews demonstrates the whole of this subject in the most

nervous style, by quotations from the 110th Psalm. Blessed

are we in whose behalf God was willing to swear! but most

miserable shall we be, if we do not believe on him who

swears. The greatest dignity is likewise obtained to this

priesthood, and imparted to it, by the addition of an oath,

which elevates it far above the honour to which that of Levi

attained. "For the law of a carnal commandment maketh men

priests who have infirmities, and are sinners, to offer both

gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him perfect who did

the service, as pertaining to the conscience;" (Heb. ix, 9)

neither could they abolish sin, or procure heavenly

blessings. "But the words of the oath, which was since the

law, constituteth the Son a High Priest consecrated

forevermore, who, after the power of an endless life and

through the Eternal Spirit, offers himself without spot to

God, and by that one offering, he perfects forever them that

are sanctified, their consciences being purified to serve the

living God: by how much also it was a more excellent

covenant, by so much the more ought it to be confirmed, since

it was established upon better promises: (Heb. 7-10,) and

that which God hath deigned to honour with the sanctity of an

oath, should be viewed as an object of the most momentous


II. We have spoken to the act of Imposing the priesthood, as

long as our circumscribed time will allow us. Let us

contemplate its Execution, in which we have to consider the

duties to be performed, and in them the feeling and condition

of who performs them. The functions to be executed were two:

(1.) The Oblation of an expiatory sacrifice, and (2.) Prayer.

1. The Oblation was preceded by a preparation through the

deepest privation and abasement, the most devoted obedience,

vehement supplications, and the most exquisitely painful

experience of human infirmities, on each of which it is not

now necessary to speak. The oblation consists of two parts

succeeding each other: The First is the immolation or

sacrifice of the body of Christ, by the shedding of his blood

on the altar of the cross, which was succeeded by death --

thus paying the price of redemption for sins by suffering the

punishment due to them. The Other Part consists of the

offering of his body re-animated and sprinkled with the blood

which he shed -- a symbol of the price which he has paid, and

of the redemption which he has obtained. The First Part of

this oblation was to be performed without the Holy of Holies,

that is, on earth, because no effusion of blood can take

place in heaven, since it is necessarily succeeded by death

For death has no more sway in heaven, in the presence and

sight of the majesty of the true God, than sin itself has,

which contains within it the deserts of death, and as death

contains within itself the punishment of sin. For thus says

the scriptures, "The Son of man came, not to be ministered

unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for

many." (Matt. xx, 28.) "For this is my blood of the New

Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."

(Matt. xxvi, 28.) "Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for

all, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. ii, 6). But the

Second Part of this offering was to be accomplished in

heaven, in the Holy of Holies. For that body which had

suffered the punishment of death and had been recalled to

life, was entitled to appear before the Divine Majesty

besprinkled with its own blood, that, remaining thus before

God as a continual memorial, it might also be a perpetual

expiation for transgressions. On this subject, the Apostle

says: "Into the second tabernacle went the High Priest alone

once every year, not without blood, which he offered for

himself, and for the errors of the people. But Christ being

come a High Priest of good things to come, not by the blood

of goat, and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once

into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for

us;" (Heb. ix, 11) that is, by his own blood already poured

out and sprinkled upon him, that he might appear with it in

the presence of God. That act, being once performed, was

never repeated; "for in that he died, he died unto sin once."

But this is a perpetual act; "for in that he liveth, he

liveth unto God." (Rom. vi, 10.) "This man, because he

continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood." (Heb. vii,

24) The former was the act of the Lamb to be slain, the

latter, that of the Lamb already slain and raised again from

death to life. The one was completed in a state of the

deepest humiliation, the other in a state of glory; and both

of them out of a consummate affection for the glory of God

and the salvation of sinners. Sanctified by the anointing of

the Spirit, he completed the former act; and the latter was

likewise his work, when he had been further consecrated by

his sufferings and sprinkled with his own blood. By the

former, therefore, he sanctified himself, and made a kind of

preparation on earth that he might be qualified to discharge

the functions of the latter in heaven.

2. The Second of the two functions to be discharged, was the

act of prayer and intercession, the latter of which depends

upon the former. Prayer is that which Christ offers for

himself, and intercession is what he offers for believers;

each of which is most luminously described to us by John, in

the seventeenth chapter of his Gospel, which contains a

perpetual rule and exact canon of the prayers and

intercessions which Christ offers in heaven to his Father.

For although that prayer was recited by Christ while he

remained upon earth, yet it properly belongs to his sublime

state of exaltation in heaven: and it was his will that it

should be described in his word, that we on earth, might

derive from it perpetual consolation. Christ offers up a

prayer to the Father for himself, according to the Father's

command and promise combined, "Ask of me, and I shall give

thee the heathen for thine inheritance." (Psalm ii, 8.)

Christ had regard to this promise, when he said, "Father,

glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee, as thou

hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give

eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." This sort of

intreaty must be distinguished from those "supplications

which Christ, in the days of his flesh, offered up to the

Father, with strong cries and tears;" (Heb. v, 7,) for by

them he intreated to be delivered from anguish, while by the

other he asks, "to see his seed whose days should be

prolonged, and to behold the pleasure of the Lord which

should prosper in his hands." (Isa. liii, 10.) But, for the

faithful, intercession is made, of which the apostle thus

speaks, "Who is he that condemneth, It is Christ that died,

yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right

hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Rom.

viii, 34) And, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, he says,

"Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that

come unto God by him, seeing He ever liveth to make

intercession for them" (vii, 25.) But Christ is said to

intercede for believers, to the exclusion of the world,

because, after he had offered a sacrifice sufficient to take

away the sins of all mankind, he was consecrated a great

"High Priest to preside over the house of God," (Heb. x, 21,)

"which house those are who hold fast the confidence and the

rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." (iii, 6.) Christ

discharges the whole of this part of his function in heaven,

before the face of the Divine Majesty; for there, also, is

the royal seat and the throne of God, to which, when we are

about to pray, we are commanded to lift up our eyes and our

minds. But he executes this part of his office, not in

anguish of spirit, or in a posture of humble genuflection, as

though fallen down before the knees of the Father, but in the

confidence of the shedding of his own blood, which, sprinkled

as it is on his sacred body, he continually presents, as an

object of sight before his Father, always turning it towards

his sacred countenance. The entire efficacy of this function

depends on the dignity and value of the blood effused and

sprinkled over the body; for, by his blood-shedding, he

opened a passage for himself "into the holiest, within the

veil." From which circumstance we may with the greatest

certainty conclude, that his prayers will never be rejected,

and that whatever we shall ask in his name, will, in virtue

of that intercession, be both heard and answered.

The sacerdotal functions being thus executed, God, the

Father, mindful of his covenant and sacred oath, not only

continued the priesthood with Christ forever, but elevated

him likewise to the regal dignity, "all power being given

unto him in heaven and in earth, (Matt. xxviii, 18,) also

power over all flesh: (John xvii, 2,) a name being conferred

on him which is far above all principality, and might, and

dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this

world, but also in that which is to come, (Ephes. i, 21,)

angels, and authorities, and powers being made subject unto

him," (1 Pet. iii, 22,) that he might be the Christ and the

Lord of his whole Israel, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. By

this admirable covenant, therefore, God hath united those two

supreme functions in one, even in Christ Jesus, and has thus

performed his promise, by which he had sworn that this Priest

should be forever after the order of Melchizedec, "who was at

once a King and a Priest; and is to the present time without

beginning of days or end of life," because his genealogy is

not described in the Scriptures, which in this case are

subservient to the figure. This conjunction of the sacerdotal

and regal functions is the highest point and the extreme

limit of all the divine work, a never ending token of the

justice and the mercy of God attempered together for the

economy of our salvation, a very luminous and clear evidence

of the most excellent glory of God, and an immovable

foundation for the certainty of obtaining salvation through

this royal Priest. If man is properly styled "the extreme

Colophon of the creation," "a microcosm," on account of the

union of his body and soul, "an epitome of the whole world,"

and "the marriage of the Universe," what judgment shall we

form of this conjunction, which consists of a most intimate

and inseparable union of the whole church of believers and of

God himself, "who dwells in the light unto which no man can

approach," and by what amplitude of title shall we point out

its divinity. This union hath a name above every name that

can be named. It is ineffable, inconceivable, and

incomprehensible. If, chiefly in respect to this I shall say,

that Christ is styled "the brightness of the Father's glory,"

"the express image of his person" and "the image of the

invisible God," I shall have expressed its excellency as

fully as it is possible to do.

What can be a more illustrious instance of the admixture of

justice with mercy than that even the Son of God, when he had

"made himself of no reputation and assumed the form of a

servant," could not be constituted a King except through a

discharge of the sacerdotal functions; and that all those

blessings which he had to bestow as a King on his subjects,

could not be asked except through the priesthood, and which,

when obtained from God, could not, (except through the

intervention of this royal Mediator,) be communicated by his

vicarious distribution under God? What can be a stronger and

a better proof of the certainty of obtaining salvation

through Christ, than that he has, by the discharge of his

sacerdotal functions in behalf of men, asked and procured it

for men, and that, being constituted a King through the

priesthood, he has received salvation from the Father to be

dispensed to them? In these particulars consists the

perfection of the divine glory.

III. But this consideration, I perceive, introduces us,

almost imperceptibly, to the third and last portion of our

subject, in which we have engaged to treat on THE FRUITS OF

THE SACERDOTAL OFFICE in its administration by Christ. We

will reduce all these fruits, though they are innumerable, to

four chief particulars; and, since we hasten to the end of

this discourse, we bind ourselves down to extreme brevity.

These benefits are, (1.) The concluding and the confirmation

of a New Covenant; (2.) The asking, obtaining, and

application of all the blessings necessary for the salvation

of the human race; (3.) The institution of a new priesthood,

both eucharistic and royal; and (4.) lastly, The extreme and

final bringing to God of all his covenant people.

1. The FIRST UTILITY is the contracting and the confirmation

of a New Covenant, in which is the direct way to solid


We rejoice and glory, that this has been obtained by the

priesthood of Christ. For since the first covenant had been

made weak through sin and the flesh, and was not capable of

bringing righteousness and life, it was necessary, either to

enter into another, or that we should be forever expelled

from God's presence. Such a covenant could not be contracted

between a just God and sinful men, except in consequence of a

reconciliation, which it pleased God, the offended party,

should be perfected by the blood of our High Priest, to be

poured out on the altar of the cross. He who was at once the

officiating priest and the Lamb for sacrifice, poured out his

sacred blood, and thus asked and obtained for us a

reconciliation with God. When this great offering was

completed, it was possible for the reconciled parties to

enter into an agreement. Hence, it pleased God, that the same

High Priest who had acted as Mediator and Umpire in this

reconciliation, should, with the very blood by which he had

effected their union, go between the two parties, as a

middle-man, or, in the capacity of an ambassador, and as a

herald to bear tidings of war or peace, with the same blood

as that by which the consciences of those who were included

in the provisions of the covenant, being sprinkled, might be

purged from dead works and sanctified; with the very blood,

which, sprinkled upon himself, might always appear in the

sight of God; and with the same blood as that by which all

things in the heavens might be sprinkled and purified.

Through the intervention, therefore, of this blood, another

covenant was contracted, not one of works, but of faith, not

of the law, but of grace, not an old, but a new one -- and

new, not because it was later than the first, but because it

was never to be abrogated or repealed; and because its force

and vigour should perpetually endure. "For that which

decayeth and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away." (Heb.

viii, 13). If such a covenant as is described in this

quotation should be again contracted, in the several ages

which succeed each other, changes ought frequently to occur

in it; and, all former covenants being rendered obsolete,

others more recent ought to succeed. But it was necessary, at

length, that a pause should occur in one of them, and that

such a covenant should at once be made as might endure

forever. It was also to be ratified with blood. But how was

it possible to be confirmed with blood of greater value than

that of the High Priest, who was the Son, both of God and

man. But the covenant of which we are now treating, was

ratified with that blood; it was, therefore, a new one, and

never to be annulled. For the perpetual presence and sight of

such a great High Priest, sprinkled with his own blood, will

not suffer the mind of his Father to be regardless of the

covenant ratified by it, or his sacred breast to be moved

with repentance. With what other blood will it be possible

for the consciences of those in covenant to be cleansed and

sanctified to God, if, after having become parties to the

covenant of grace, they pollute themselves with any crime,

"There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, if any man have

trodden under foot this High Priest, and counted the blood of

the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing."

(Heb. x, 29). The covenant, therefore, which has been

concluded by the intervention of this blood and this. High

Priest, is a new one, and will endure forever.

2. The SECOND FRUIT is the asking, obtaining, and

application, of all the blessings necessary to those who are

in covenant for the salvation both of soul and body. For,

since every covenant must be confirmed by certain promises,

it was necessary that this also should have its blessings, by

which it might be sanctioned, and those in covenant rendered


(1.) Among those blessings, the remission of sins first

offers itself; according to the tenor of the New Covenant, "I

will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and

their iniquities will I remember no more." (Heb. viii, 12).

But the scripture testifies, that Christ has asked this

blessing by his blood, when it says, "This is my blood of the

New Testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of

sins." (Matt. xxvi, 28). The scripture also proves his having

obtained such a blessing by the discharge of the same office,

in these words: "By his own blood Christ entered in once into

the holy place, HAVING OBTAINED eternal redemption for us."

(Heb. ix, 12.) It adds its testimony to the application,

saying, "In Christ WE HAVE REDEMPTION through his blood, the

forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."

(Ephes. i, 7.)

(2.) This necessary blessing is succeeded by adoption into

sons and by a right to the heavenly inheritance: And we owe

it to the Priesthood of Christ, that this blessing was asked

and obtained for us, as well as communicated to us. For he

being the proper and only begotten Son of the Father, and the

sole heir of all his Father's blessings, was unwilling to

enjoy such transcendent benefits alone, and desired to have

co-heirs and partners, whom he might anoint with the oil of

his gladness, and might receive into a participation of that

inheritance. He made an offering, therefore, of his soul for

sin, that, the travail of his soul being finished, he might

see his seed prolonged in their days -- the seed of God which

might come into a participation with him both of name and

inheritance. "He was made under the law, to redeem them that

were under the law, that we might receive THE ADOPTION OF

SONS." (Gal. iv, 5). According to the command of the Father,

he asked, that the Heathen might be given to him for an

inheritance. By these acts, therefore, which are peculiar to

his priesthood, he asked for this right of adoption in behalf

of his believing people, and obtained it for the purpose of

its being communicated to them, nay, in fact, he himself

became the donor. "For to as many as believed on his name

Christ gave power to become the sons of God." (John i, 12).

Through him and in regard to him, God has adopted us for

sons, who are beloved in him the Son of his love. He,

therefore, is the sole heir, by whose death the inheritance

comes to others; which circumstance was predicted by the

perfidious husbandmen, (Mark xii, 7,) who, being Scribes and

Pharisees, uttered at that time a remarkable truth, although

they were ignorant of such a great mystery.

(3.) But because it is impossible to obtain benefits of this

magnitude except in union with the High Priest himself, it

was expected of him that he should ask and obtain the gift of

the HOLY SPIRIT, the bond of that union, and should pour it

out on his own people. But since the spirit of grace is the

token as well as the testimony of the love of God towards us,

and the earnest of our inheritance, Christ could not ask this

great gift till a reconciliation had taken place, and to

effect this was the duty of the priest. When, therefore, this

reconciliation was effected, he asked of his Father another

Comforter for his people, and his request was granted. Being

elevated to the right hand of God, he obtained this Paraclete

promised in the terms of the sacerdotal covenant; and, when

he had procured this Spirit, he poured it out in a most

copious manner on his followers, as the scripture says,

"Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having

received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath

shed forth this which ye now see and hear." (Acts ii, 33.)

That the asking, the obtaining, and the communication of all

these blessings, have flowed from the functions of the

priesthood, God has testified by a certain seal of the

greatest sanctity, when he constituted Christ the Testator of

these very blessings, which office embraces conjointly both

the full possession of the good things devised as legacies in

the Will, and absolute authority over their distribution.

3. The THIRD FRUIT of Christ's administration is the

institution of a new priesthood both eucharistic and regal,

and our sanctification for the purpose of performing its

duties; for when a New Covenant was concluded, it was needful

to institute a new eucharistic priesthood, (because the old

one had fallen into disuse,) and to sanctify priests to

fulfill its duties.

(1.) Christ, by his own priesthood, completed such an

institution; and he sanctified us by a discharge of its

functions. This was the order in which he instituted it:

First, he constituted us his debtors, and as bound to

thanksgiving on account of the immense benefits procured for

us and bestowed upon us by his priesthood. Then he instructed

us how to offer sacrifices to God, our souls and bodies being

sanctified and consecrated by the sprinkling of his blood and

by the unction of the Holy Spirit, that, if they were offered

as sacrifices to God, they might meet with acceptance. It was

also his care to have an altar erected in heaven before the

throne of grace, which being sprinkled with his own blood he

consecrated to God, that the sacrifices of his faithful

people, being placed upon it, might continually appear before

the face of the Majesty of heaven and in presence of his

throne. Lastly, he placed on that altar an eternal and never-

ceasing fire -- the immeasurable favour of God, with which

the sacrifices on that altar might be kindled and reduced to


(2.) But it was also necessary that priests should be

consecrated: the act of consecration, therefore, was

performed by Christ, as the Great High Priest, by his own

blood. St. John says, in the Apocalypse, "He hath loved us,

and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made

us kings and priests unto God and his Father." (i, 6.) "Thou

hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred,

and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our

God kings and priests." (v, 10.) Not content to have us

joint-heirs in the participation of his inheritance, he

willed that we should likewise partake of the same dignity as

that which he enjoyed. But he made us partners with him of

that dignity in such a manner, as in the mean time always to

retain within himself the first place, "as Head of his body

the Church, the first-born among many brethren and the Great

High Priest who presides over the whole of the House of God."

To Him, we, who are "born again," ought to deliver our

sacrifices, that by him they may be further offered to God,

sprinkled and perfumed with the grateful odour of his own

expiatory sacrifice, and may thus through him be rendered

acceptable to the Father. For this cause, the Apostle says,

"By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to

God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving

thanks to his name." (Heb. xiii, 15). We are indeed, by his

favour "a holy priesthood," to offer up spiritual sacrifices;

but those sacrifices are rendered "acceptable to God, only by

Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. ii, 5.) Not only was it his pleasure

that we should be partakers of this sacerdotal dignity, but

likewise of the eternity attached to it, that we also might

execute the office of the priesthood after the order of

Melchizedec, which by a sacred oath was consecrated to

immortality. For though, at the close of these ages of time,

Christ will not any longer perform the expiatory part of the

priesthood, yet he will forever discharge its eucharistic

duties in our favour. These eucharistic duties we shall also

execute in him and through him, unless, in the midst of the

enjoyment of the benefits received by us from him, we should

desire our memories no longer to retain the recollection,

that through him we obtained those blessings, and through him

we have been created priests to render due thanksgiving to

God the chief Donor of all. But, since we are not able to

offer to God, so long as we remain in this mortal body, the

sacrifices due to him, except by the strenuous resistance

which we offer to Satan, the world, sin, and our own flesh,

and through the victory which we obtain over them, (both of

which are royal acts,) and since, after this life, we shall

execute the sacerdotal office, being elevated with him on the

throne of his Father, and having all our enemies subdued

under us, he hath therefore made us both kings and priests,

yea "a royal priesthood" to our God, that nothing might be

found in the typical priesthood of Melchizedec, in the

enjoyment of which we should not equally participate.

4. The FOURTH, and last FRUIT of the Priesthood of Christ,

proposed to be noticed by us, is the act of bringing to God

all the church of the faithful; which is the end and

completion of the three preceding effects. For with this

intent the covenant was contracted between God and men; with

this intent the remission of sins, the adoption of sons, and

the Spirit of grace were conferred on the church; for this

purpose the new eucharistic and royal priesthood was

instituted; that, being made priests and kings, all the

covenant people might be brought to their God. In most

expressive language the Apostle Peter ascribes this effect to

the priesthood of Christ, in these words: "For Christ also

hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, THAT HE

MIGHT BRING US TO GOD." (1 Pet. iii, 18.) The following are

also the words of an Apostle concerning the same act of

bringing them to God: "Then cometh the end, when he shall

have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father." (1

Cor. xv, 24). In Isaiah's prophecy it is said, "Behold I and

the children whom the Lord hath given me!" Let these words be

considered as proceeding out of the mouth of Christ, when he

is bringing his children and addressing the Father; not that

they may be for signs and for wonders" to the people, but "a

peculiar treasure to the Lord."

Christ will therefore bring all his church, whom he hath

redeemed to himself by his own blood, that they may receive,

from the hands of the Father of infinite benignity, the

heavenly inheritance which has been procured by his death,

promised in his word, and sealed by the Holy Spirit, and may

enjoy it forever. He will bring his priests, whom sprinkled

with his blood, he hath sanctified unto God, that they may

serve him forever. He will bring his kings, that they may

with God possess the kingdom forever and ever: for in them,

by the virtue of his Holy Spirit, he has subdued and overcome

Satan the Chief, and his auxiliaries, the world, sin, and

their own flesh, yea, and "death itself, the last enemy that

shall be destroyed."

Christ will bring, and God even the Father will receive. He

will receive the church of Christ, and will command her as

"the bride, the Lamb's wife," on her introduction into the

celestial bride-chamber, to celebrate a perpetual feast with

the Lamb, that she may enjoy the most complete fruition of

pleasure, in the presence of the throne of his glory. He will

receive the priests, and will clothe them with the comely and

beautiful garments of perfect holiness, that they may forever

and ever sing to God a new song of thanksgiving. And then he

will receive the kings, and place them on the throne of his

Majesty, that they may with God and the Lamb obtain the

kingdom and may rule and reign forever.

These are the fruits and benefits which Christ, by the

administration of his priesthood, hath asked and obtained for

us, and communicated to us. Their dignity is undoubtedly

great, and their utility immense. For what could occur of a

more agreeable nature to those who are "alienated from the

life of God, and strangers to the covenants of promise,"

(Ephes. ii, 12,) than to be received by God into the covenant

of grace, and to be reckoned among his people? What could

afford greater pleasure to the consciences which were

oppressed with the intolerable burden of their sins, and

fainting under the weight of the wrath of God, than the

remission and pardon of all their transgressions? What could

prove more acceptable to men, sons of the accursed earth, and

to those who are devoted to hell, than to receive from God

the adoption of sons, and to be written in heaven? What

greater pleasure could those enjoy who he under the dominion

of Satan and the tyranny of sin, than a freedom from such a

state of most horrid and miserable servitude, and a

restoration to true liberty? What more glorious than to be

admitted into a participation of the Priesthood and of the

Monarchy, to be consecrated priests and kings to God, even

royal priests and priestly kings? And, lastly, what could be

more desirable than to be brought to God, the Chief Good and

the Fountain of all happiness, that, in a beautiful and

glorious state, we may spend with him a whole eternity?

This priesthood was imposed by God himself, "with whom we

have to do," on Christ Jesus -- the Son of God and the Son of

man, our first-born brother, formerly encompassed about with

infirmities, tempted in all things, merciful, holy, faithful,

undefiled, and separate from sinners; and its imposition was

accompanied by a sacred oath, which it is not lawful to

revoke. Let us, therefore, rely with assured faith on this

priesthood of Christ, entertaining no doubt that God hath

ratified and confirmed, is now ratifying and confirming, and

will forever ratify and confirm all those things which have

been accomplished, are now accomplishing, and will continue

even to the consummation of this dispensation to be

accomplished, on our account, by a High Priest taken from

among ourselves and placed in the Divine presence, having

received in our behalf an appointment from God, who himself

chose him to that office.

Since the same Christ hath by the administration of his own

priesthood obtained a perpetual expiation and purgation of

our sins, and eternal redemption, and hath erected a throne

of grace for us in heaven, "let us draw near [to this throne

of grace] with a true heart and in full assurance of faith,

having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience," (Heb.

x, 22,) "and our conscience purged from dead works," (ix,

14,) assuredly concluding "that we shall obtain mercy, and

find grace to help in time of need." (iv, 16.)

LASTLY. Since, by the administration of this priesthood, so

many and such excellent benefits have been obtained and

prepared for us of which we have already received a part as

"the first-fruits," and since we expect to reap in heaven the

choicest part of these benefits, and the whole of them in the

mass, and that most complete -- what shall we render to our

God for such a transcendent dignity? What thanks shall we

offer to Christ who is both our High Priest and the Lamb? "We

will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the

Lord." We will offer to God "the calves of our lips," and

will "present to him our bodies, souls, and spirits, a living

sacrifice, holy and acceptable." (Rom. xii, 1.) Even while

remaining in these lower regions, we will sing, with the four

and twenty elders that stand around the throne, this heavenly

song to the God and Father of all: "Thou art worthy, O Lord,

to receive glory, and honour, and power. For thou hast

created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were

created." (Rev. iv, 11.) To Christ our High Priest and the

Lamb, we will, with the same elders, chant the new song,

saying, "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the

seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to

God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and

people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and

priests: and we shall reign on the earth." (v, 10.) Unto both

of them together we will unite with every creature in



AND EVER."-I have finished.

After the Academic Act of his promotion to a Doctor's degree

was completed, Arminius, according to the custom at Leyden,

which still obtains in many Universities, briefly addressed

the same audience in the following manner:

Since the countenance necessary for the commencement of every

prosperous action proceeds from God, it is proper that in him

also every one of our actions should terminate. Since,

therefore, his Divine clemency and benignity have hitherto

regarded us in a favourable light, and have granted to this

our act the desired success, let us render thanks to Him for

such a great display of His benevolence, and utter praise to

His holy name.

"O thou Omnipotent and Merciful God, the Father of our Lord

Jesus Christ, we give thanks to thee for thine infinite

benefits conferred upon us miserable sinners. But we would

first praise thee for having willed that thy Son Jesus Christ

should be the victim and the price of redemption for our

sins; that thou hast out of the whole human race collected

for thyself a church by thy word and Holy Spirit; that thou

hast snatched us also from the kingdom of darkness and of

Satan, and hast translated us into the kingdom of light and

of thy Son; that thou hast called Holland, our pleasant and

delightful country, to know and confess thy Son and to enjoy

communion with him; that thou hast hitherto preserved this

our native land in safety against the machinations and

assaults of a very powerful adversary; that thou hast

instituted, in our renowned city, this university as a

seminary of true wisdom, piety and righteousness; and that

thou hast to this hour accompanied these scholastic exercises

with thy favour. We intreat thee, O holy and indulgent God,

that thou wouldst forever continue to us these benefits; and

do not suffer us, by our ingratitude, to deserve at thy

bands, to be deprived of them. But be pleased rather to

increase them, and to confirm the work which thou hast begun.

Cause us always to reflect with retentive minds on these

things, and to utter eternal praises to thy most holy name on

account of them, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

I thank you, Doctor Francis Gomarus, and am grateful to you,

most illustrious man and very learned promoter, for this

great privilege with which you have invested one who is

undeserving of it. I promise at all times to acknowledge with

a grateful mind this favour, and to strive that you may never

have just cause to repent of having conferred this honour

upon me.

To you also, most noble Lord Rector, and to the very

honourable the Senate of the University, (unless I should

desire to defile myself with the crime of an ungrateful

spirit,) I owe greater thanks than I am able to express, for

the honourable judgment which you have formed concerning me,

and for your liberal testimony, which by no deed of mine have

I ever deserved. But I promise and bind myself to exert my

powers to the utmost, that I may not at any time be found to

be entirely unworthy of it. If I thus exert myself, I know

that you will accept it as a payment in full of all the debt

of gratitude which you have a right to demand.

I now address you, most noble, honourable and famous men, to

all and to each of whom I confess myself to be greatly

indebted for your continued and liberal benevolence towards

me, which you have abundantly demonstrated by your wish to

honour this our act with your most noble, honourable, famous

and worthy presence. I would promise to make you a requital

at some future period, did not the feebleness of my powers

shrink from the magnitude of the undertaking implied in that

expression, and did not the eminence of your stations repress

the attempt.

In the duty of returning thanks which I am now discharging, I

must not omit you, most noble and studious youths: For I owe

this acknowledgment to your partial and kind inclination to

me, of which you have given a sufficiently exuberant

declaration in your honourable appearance and modest demeanor

while you have been present at this our act. I give my

promise and solemn undertaking, that if an occasion hereafter

offer itself in which I can render myself serviceable to you,

I will endeavour in every capacity to compensate you for this

your kind partiality. The occurrence of such an opportunity

is at once the object of my hopes and my wishes.



Never since the first entrance of sin into the world, have

there been any ages so happy as not to be disturbed by the

occurrence of some evil or other; and, on the contrary, there

has been no age so embittered with calamities, as not to have

had a sweet admixture of some good, by the presence of the

divine benevolence renewed towards mankind. The experience of

all ages bears witness to the truth of this observation; and

it is taught by the individual history of every nation. If,

from a diligent consideration of these different histories

and a comparison between them, any person should think fit to

draw a parallel of the blessings and of the calamities which

have either occurred at one and the same period, or which

have succeeded each other, he would in reality be enabled to

contemplate, as in a mirror of the greatest clearness and

brilliancy, how the Benignity of God has at all times

contended with his Just Severity, and what a conflict the

Goodness of The Deity has always maintained with the

Perversity of men. Of this a fair specimen is afforded to us

in the passing events of our own age, within that part of

Christendom with which we are more immediately acquainted. To

demonstrate this, I do not deem it necessary to recount all

the Evils which have rushed, like an overwhelming inundation,

upon the century which has been just completed: for their

infinity would render such an attempt difficult and almost

impossible. Neither do I think it necessary, to enumerate, in

a particular manner, the Blessings which those evils have

been somewhat mitigated.

To confirm this truth, it will be abundantly sufficient to

mention one very remarkable Blessing, and one Evil of great

magnitude and directly opposed to that blessing. This

Blessing is, that the Divine clemency irradiates our part of

the world by the illustrious light of his sacred truth, and

enlightens it with the knowledge of true religion, or

Christianity. The Evil opposed to it is, that either human

ignorance or human perversity deteriorates and corrupts the

clear light of this Divine truth, by aspersing and beclouding

it with the blackest errors; creates separation and division

among those who have devoted themselves exclusively to the

service of religion; and severs them into parties, and even

into shreds of parties, in direct contradiction to the nature

and genius of Christianity, whose Author is called the

"Prince of peace," its doctrine "the Gospel of peace," and

its professors "the Sons of peace." The very foundation of it

is an act of pacification concluded between God and men, and

ratified by the blood of the Prince of peace. The precepts

inculcated in each of its pages, are concerning peace and

concord; its fruits are "righteousness, peace, and joy in the

Holy Ghost;" and its end is peace and eternal tranquillity.

But although the light from this torch of truth, which is

diffused through the Christian world, affords no small

refreshment to my mind; and although a view of that clearer

light which shines among the Churches that profess to have

been Reformed from Popery, is most exhilarating; yet I cannot

dissemble the intense grief which I feel at my heart on

account of that religious discord which has been festering

like a gangrene, and pervading the whole of Christianity:

Unhappily, its devastations have not terminated. In this

unfeigned feeling of deep regret, I think, all those who love

Christ and his Church, will partake with me; unless they

possess hearts of greater hardness than Parian marble, and

bowels secured from compassionate attacks by a rigidity

stronger than that of the oak, and by defenses more

impregnable than those of triple brass.

This is the cause which has incited me to offer a few remarks

on religious dissensions in the Christian world; for,

according to that common proverb, "Whenever a man feels any

pain, his hand is almost spontaneously moved to the part

affected." This, therefore, is the subject which I propose to

introduce to the notice of the present celebrated assembly,

in which the province has been awarded to me, of delivering

an oration at this Academic Festival, according to an

established and laudable custom. I shall confine myself to

three particulars: In the first place, I will give a

dissertation on This Discord Itself and The Evils Which

Spring From It. I will then show its Causes; and, lastly, its


The first particular includes within itself the Necessity of

removing such a great evil; and the last prescribes the

Manner in which it may be removed, to which the middle

particular materially contributes. The union of the whole

together explains and justifies the nature of the design

which I have now undertaken.

I humbly pray and intreat the God of peace, that he will, by

his Spirit of truth and peace, be present with me while

engaged in speaking; and that he will govern my mind and

direct my tongue, that I may utter such things as may be

pleasing to him and salutary to the Church of Christ, for the

glory of his name and our mutual instruction.

I likewise prefer a request to you, my very famous and

accomplished hearers, that you will deign to grant me your

favourable attention, while I glance at each of these

particular, with much brevity, and discharge the office of a

director to you rather than that of an orator, lest I

trespass on your patience.

I. Union is a great good: it is indeed the chief good and

therefore the only one, whether we separately consider each

thing of which it is composed, or more of them contained

together by a certain social tie or relation between

themselves. For all things together, and each thing

separately, are what they are by that very thing by which

they are one; and, by this union, they are preserved in what

they really are. And, if they have need and are capable of

further perfection, they are, by the same union, still more

strengthened, increased, and perfected, until they attain to

the utmost boundary prescribed to them by nature or by grace,

or by God the Author of both grace and nature. Of such

certainty is this truth, that even the blessedness of God

consists in that union by which he is ONE and always present

with himself, and having all things belonging to him present

together with him. Nothing, therefore, can be more agreeable

or desirable than Union, whether viewed in reference to

single things or to the whole together; nothing can be more

noxious and detestable than Dissension, by which all things

begin at first to decline from their own condition, are

afterwards diminished by degrees, and, at length, perish. But

as there are differences of Good, so are there likewise of

Union. More excellent than another is that good which in its

own nature obtains the pre-eminence above the other, on

account of its being more general and durable, and on account

of its approaching more nearly to the Chief Good. In like

manner that union is also more excellent which consists of a

thing of greater excellence, belongs to many, is more durable

and unites itself most intimately with the Deity. The union

of true religion is, therefore, one of the greatest


But as those evil things which are opposed to the good things

of greatest excellence, are the very worst of their kind, so

no discord is more shocking and hideous than that about

religion. The truth of this remark is confirmed by the inward

nature of this discord; and it is further manifested most

clearly by the effects which proceed from it.

1. We shall see its Nature (1.) in the object of discord,

(2.) in the ready inclination for this object, which is

evinced by the discordant partizans, (3.) in its extensive

range, and (4.) its long continuance.

(1.) The Christian Religion is the Object of this discord or

dissension. When viewed with respect to its form, this

religion contains the true knowledge of the true God and of

Christ; and the right mode in which both of them may be

worshipped. And when viewed with regard to its end, it is the

only medium by which we can be bound and united to God and

Christ, and by which on the other hand God and Christ can be

bound and united to us. From this idea of connecting the

parties together, the name of religion is derived, in the

opinion of Lactantius. In the term "Religion," therefore, are

contained true wisdom and true virtue, and the union of both

with God as the Chief Good, in all of which is comprehended

the supreme and the only happiness of this world and of that

which is to come. And not only in reality, but in the

estimation also of every one on whose mind a notion of

religion has been impressed, (that is, on the whole of

mankind,) men are distinguished from other animals, not by

reason, but by a genuine character much more appropriate and

indeed peculiar to them, and that is Religion, according to

the authority of the same Lactantius.

(2.) But if bounds be imposed on the desire towards any thing

by such an opinion of its value as is preconceived in the

mind, an inclination or propensity towards religion is

deservedly entitled to the highest consideration, and holds

the preeminence in the mind of a religious person. Nay, more

than this, if, according to St. Bernard and to truth itself,

"the measure to be observed in loving God, is to love him

without measure," a propensity or inclination towards

religion, (of which the chief and choicest part consists of

love to God and Christ,) is itself without bounds: For it is

at once illimitable and immeasurable. This is tantamount to

the declaration of Christ, the Author of our religion, who

said, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and

mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea,

and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke xiv,

26.) This strong affection for religion answers equally to

that immeasurable love by which any one desires the union of

himself with God, that is, desires the greatest happiness,

because he knows that Religion is the strongest bond and the

most adhesive cement of this union. Most serious, therefore,

is religious discord when it is engaged in disputes about the

altar itself.

(3.) Besides, it spreads and diffuses itself most

extensively; for it involves within its vortex all the

persons that have been initiated in the sacred rites of the

Christian religion. No one is permitted to profess

neutrality; nay, it is impossible for any man to remain

neutral in the midst of religious dissension. For he who

makes no advances towards the opposite sentiments of each of

the dissidents, is induced thus to act from one of these four

causes: (i.) He either cherishes a third opinion in the

Christian Religion, far removed from both the others: (ii.)

He thinks some other religion better than Christianity.

(iii.) He places Christianity and other systems of religion

on an equality: Or, (iv.) He entertains an equal disregard

for the Christian system and all other modes of religion. The

first of these characters is not neutral, but becomes a third

party among the disputants. The second and the third dissent

entirely from the Christian Religion, the axioms of which

are, "that it is true, and that it alone is true:" for it is

not so accommodating as Paganism, it admits of no other

system to be its associate. Besides, the second of these

characters is an Atheist according to the Christian Religion,

one of the statutes of which, is, that "whosoever denieth

Christ the Son, the same hath not God the Father." (1 John

ii, 23.) Against the third party this sentence is pronounced:

"He that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." (Matt.

xii, 30.) The fourth is considered an Atheist by all mankind,

and is deemed a second and adverse party in that most general

kind of dissension which exists between true religion and its


(4.) Lastly. This discord is very long in its continuance and

almost incapable of reconciliation. For these traits in it,

two causes may, I think, be assigned, and both of them

deducible from the very nature of religion.

The first is, that since religion is both in reality a matter

that belongs to the Deity, and is so accounted by every one,

being subject to his sole pleasure and management, and exempt

from the jurisdiction of men; and since it has been bestowed,

that it may exercise authority as a rule for the direction of

life, and for prescribing some limits to liberty, and not

that it may be slavishly subservient to the wills of men,

like a Lesbian rule, which may be accommodated to every

condition; since these are some of the properties of

religion, man is not permitted to stipulate concerning it,

and scarcely any one has had the audacity to arrogate to

himself such an assumption of authority.

The other cause is, that the parties individually think, if

they concede even the smallest particle of the matter of

discord, such a concession is nearly connected with the peril

of their own salvation. But this is the genius of all

separatists, not to enter into any treaties of concord with

their adversaries, unless they be permitted to have life at

least, and liberty, secured to them inviolate. But every one

thinks, that his life, (that is, his spiritual life,) and the

liberty which is proper for that life, are included in

religion and its exercise.

To these a third cause may be added, which consists of the

opinion, that each party supposes life and eternal salvation

to be denied to them by their opponents, from this

circumstance, because those opponents disapprove of their

religion, and when it is compared with their own, they treat

it with the utmost contempt. This injury appears to be the

most grievous and aggravating. But every act of pacification

has its commencement in the oblivion of all injuries, and its

foundation in the omission of those injuries which (to an eye

that is jaundiced with such a prejudice as that which we have

just stated,) seem to be continued and perpetual grievances.

When the nature and tendency of this species of discord have

become quite apparent to worldly-minded Rulers, they have

often employed it, or at least the semblance of it, for the

purpose of involving their subjects in enmities, dissensions

and wars, in which they had themselves engaged for other

reasons. Having in this manner frequently implicated the

people committed to his charge, a prince has become at

pleasure prodigal of their property and their persons. These

were readily sacrificed by the people to the defense of the

ancient religion; but they were perverted by their rulers, to

obtain the fulfillment of their desires, which they would

never have procured, had they been deprived of such popular

assistance. The magnitude of the dissension induces the

willing parties cheerfully to make contributions of their

property to their prince; the multitude of the Dissidents

ensures their ability to contribute as much as may be

sufficient; and the obstinate spirit which is indigenous to

dissension, causes the parties never to grow weary of giving,

while they retain the ability.

We have now in some sort delineated the nature of this

discord or dissension, and have shewn that it is most

important in its bearings, most extensive in its range, and

most durable in its continuance.

2. Let us further see what have been, and what still are, the

Effects of an evil of such a magnitude, in this part of the

Christian world. We may, I think, refer the infinitude of

these effects to two chief kinds. The first kind is derived

from the force of the dissension on the Minds of men; and the

second kind has its commencement in the operation of the same

dissension on their Hearts and affections.

First. From the force of this dissension on the Minds of men,

arises, (1.) a degree of doubtful uncertainty respecting

religion. When the people perceive that there is scarcely any

article of Christian doctrine concerning which there are not

different and even contradictory opinions; that one party

calls that "horrid blasphemy" which another party has laid

down as a "complete summary of the truth;" that those points

which some professors consider the perfection of piety,

receive from others the contumelious appellation of "cursed

idolatry;" and that controversies of this description are

objects of warm discussion between men of learning,

respectability, experience and great renown. When all these

things are perceived by the people, and when they do not

observe any discrepancy in the life and manners of the

opposite disputants, sufficiently great to induce them to

believe that God vouchsafes assistance by "the spirit of his

truth," to one of these parties, in preference to the other,

on account of any superior sanctity, they begin then to

indulge in the imagination, that they may esteem the

principles of religion alike obscure and uncertain.

(2.) If an intense desire to institute an inquiry into some

subject shall succeed this dubious uncertainty about

religion, its warmth will abate and become cool, as soon as

serious difficulties arise in the search, and an utter

despair of being able to discern the truth will be the

consequence. For what simple person can hope to discover the

truth, when he understands that a dispute exists about its

very principles -- whether they be contained in the

scriptures alone, or in traditions not committed to writing?

What hope can he entertain when he sees that, question often

arises concerning the translation of some passage of

scripture, which can be solved only by a knowledge of the

Hebrew and Greek languages? How can he hope to find out the

truth, when he remarks, that the opinions of learned men, who

have written on religious subjects, are not unfrequently

quoted in the place of evidence -- while he is ignorant of

all languages except that of the country in which he was

born, is destitute of all other books, and possesses only a

copy of the scriptures translated into the vernacular

language? How can such a person be prevented from forming an

opinion, that nothing like certainty respecting the chief

doctrines of religion can be evident to any one, except that

man who is well skilled in the two sacred languages, has a

perfect knowledge of all traditions, has perused with the

closest attention the writings of all the great Doctors of

the Church, and has thoroughly instructed himself in the

sentiments which they held respecting each single principle

of religion?

(3.) But what follows this despair? Either a most perverse

opinion concerning all religion, an entire rejection of every

species of it, or Atheism. These produce Epicurism, a still

more pestilent fruit of that ill-fated tree. For when the

mind of man is in despair about discovering the truth, and

yet is unable to throw aside at the first impulse all care

concerning religion and personal salvation, it is compelled

to devise a cunning charm for appeasing conscience: (i.) The

human mind in such a state will either conclude, that it is

not only unnecessary for common people to understand the

axioms of religion , and to be well assured of what they

believe; but that the attainment of these objects is a duty

incumbent on the clergy alone, to the faith of whom, as of

"them that must give account" to God for the salvation of

souls, (Heb. xiii, 17,) it is quite sufficient for the people

to signify their assent by a blind concurrence in it. The

clergy also themselves, with a view to their own advantage,

not unfrequently discourage all attempts, on the part of the

people, to gain such a knowledge of religion and such an

assured belief. (ii.) Or the mind in such circumstances will

persuade itself, that all worship paid to God, with the good

intention of a devout mind, is pleasing to him; and therefore

under every form of religion, (provided such good intention

be conscientiously observed,) a man may be saved, and all

sects are to be considered as placed in a condition of

equality. The men who have imbibed such notions as these,

which point out an easy mode of pacifying the conscience, and

one that in their opinion is neither troublesome nor

dangerous -- these men not only desert all study of divine

things themselves, but lay folly to the charge of that person

who institutes a labourious inquiry and search for that which

they imagine can never be discovered, as though he purposely

sought something on which his insanity might riot.

But not less steep and precipitous is the descent from this

state of despair to absolute Atheism. For since these persons

despair of offering to the Deity the adoration of true

religion, they think they may abstain from all acts of

worship to him without incurring any greater harm or

punishment; because God considers no worship agreeable to him

except that which he has prescribed, and he bestows a reward

on no other. The efficacy of this despair is increased by

their religion which seems to be interwoven with the natural

dispositions of some men, and which, eagerly seizing on every

excuse for sin, deceives itself, and veils its native

profaneness and want of reverence for the Deity under the

cloak of the grievous dissensions which have been introduced

about religion. But other two reasons may be adduced why

Religious differences are, in the Christian world, the

fruitful causes of Atheism. (i.) The first is, that by this

battering-ram of dissensions, the foundations of Divine

Providence, which constitute the basis of all Religion,

experience a violent concussion. When this thought enters the

mind, that "it appears to be the first duty of providence,

(if it actually have an existence,) to place her dearest

daughter, Religion, in such a luminous light, that she may

stand manifest and apparent to the view of all who do not

willingly drag their eyes out of their sockets." (ii.) The

other is, that when men are not favoured with Christian

prophecy, which comprises religious instruction, and are

destitute of the exercise of Divine worship, they first

almost imperceptibly slide into ignorance and into the

complete disuse of all worship, and afterwards prolapse into

open impiety. But it has not unfrequently been the case, that

men have suffered themselves to be deprived of these

blessings, sometimes by the prohibition of their own

consciences, and sometimes by those of others. (i.) By the

prohibition of their own consciences, when they do not think

it lawful for them to be present at the public sermons and

other religious ordinances of a party that is adverse to

them. (ii.) By that of the consciences of others, when the

prevailing party forbid their weaker opponents to assemble

together as a congregation, to hear what they account most

excellent truths, and to perform their devotions with such

rites and ceremonies as are agreeable to themselves. In this

manner, therefore, even conscience, when resting on the

foundation of religion, becomes the agent of impiety, where

discord reigns in a religious community. From Atheism, as a

root, Epicurism buds forth, which dissolves all the ties of

morality, is ruinous to it, and causes it to degenerate into

licentiousness. All this, Epicurism effects, by previously

breaking down the barriers of the fear of God, which alone

restrain men within the bounds of their duty.

Secondly. All these evils proceed from religious dissension

when its operation is efficacious on the Mind. Most sincerely

do I wish that it would remain there, content itself with

displaying its insolence in the hall of the mind where

discord has its proper abode, and would not attack the

Affections of the Heart. But, vain is my wish! For so

extensively does it pervade the heart and subdue all its

affections, that it abuses at pleasure the slaves that act as


1. For since all similarity in manners, studies and opinions,

possesses very great power in conciliating love and regard;

and since any want of resemblance in these particulars is of

great potency in engendering hatred, it often happens that

from religious dissension arise Enmities more deadly than

that hatred which Vatinius conceived against Cicero, and such

exasperations of heart as are utterly irreconcilable. When

religious discord makes its appearance, even amongst men the

most illustrious in name and of the greatest celebrity, who

had been previously bound together and united among

themselves by a thousand tender ties of nature and affection,

they instantly renounce, one against another, all tokens of

friendship, and burst asunder the strictest bands of amity.

This is signified by Christ, when he says, "I came not to

send peace on earth, but a sword. For I am come to set a man

at variance against his father, and the daughter against her

mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.

And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." (Matt.

x, 31-36.) These words do not indicate the end and purpose of

the coming of Christ, but an event which would succeed his

coming; because he was then about to introduce into the world

a religion which differed greatly from that which was

publicly established, and concerning which many dissensions

would afterwards arise, through the vicious corruption of


This dissimilarity was the origin of the rancor of the Jews

against the Samaritans, which displayed itself in not

allowing themselves to derive any benefit from the services

of the Samaritans, even in matters that were necessary for

their own convenience. It was the existence of this feeling

which caused the woman of Samaria to wonder, concerning

Jesus, "how he, who was a Jew, could ask drink of her, a

Samaritan woman." (John iv, 9.) Indeed, it is the utmost

stretch of hatred, to be unwilling to derive any advantage

from another person that is an enemy.

2. Enmities and dissensions of the heart and affections

branch out and become Schisms, factions and secessions into

different parties. For as love is an affection of union, so

is hatred an affection of separation. Thus synagogues are

erected, consecrated and thronged with people, in opposition

to other synagogues, churches against churches, and alters

against altars, when neither party wishes to have intercourse

with the other. This also is the reason why we frequently

hear expressions, entirely similar to those which were

clamorously echoed through the assembled multitude of the

Children of Israel when they were separating into parties,

"To your tents, O Israel! for our adversaries have no portion

in God, nor any inheritance in his Son Christ Jesus." (1

Kings xii, 16.) For both factions equally appropriate to

themselves the renowned name of "the true Israel," which they

severally deny to their adversaries, in such a peremptory

manner as might induce one to imagine each of them

exclusively endowed with a plenary power of passing judgment

upon the other, and as though it had been previously

concluded, that the name of ISRAEL, by which God accosts in a

most gracious manner the whole of his Church, cannot encircle

within its embrace those who differ in any point from the

rest of their brethren.

3. But the irritation of inflamed hearts does not prescribe a

boundary to itself in schism alone. For if it happen, that

one party considers itself the more powerful, it will not be

afraid of instituting Persecutions against the party opposed

to it, and of attempting its entire extermination. In

effecting this, it spares no injury, which either human

ingenuity can devise, the most notable fury can dictate, or

even the office of the infernal regions can supply. Rage is

excited and cruelty exercised against the reputation, the

property, and the persons of the living; against the ashes,

the sepulchers, and the memory of the dead; and against the

souls both of the living and the dead. Those who differ from

the stronger party are attacked with all kinds of weapons;

with cruel mockings, calumnies, execrations, curses,

excommunications, anathemas, degrading and scandalous libels,

prisons and instruments of torture. They are banished to

distant or uninhabited islands, condemned to the mines,

prohibited from having any communication with their fellow-

creatures by land or sea, and excluded from a sight of either

heaven or earth. They are tormented by water, fire and the

sword, on crosses and stakes, on wheels of torture and

gibbets, and by the claws of wild beasts, without any

measure, bounds or end, until the party thus oppressed have

been destroyed, or have submitted themselves to the pleasure

of the more powerful, by rejecting with abjurations the

sentiments which they formerly held, and by embracing with

apparent devotion those of which they had previously

disapproved; that is, by destroying themselves through the

hypocritical profession which had been extolled from them by

violence. Call to mind how the Heathens persecuted the

Christians; and the persecuting conduct of the Aryans against

the orthodox, of the worshippers of images against the

destroyers of images, and vice versa. That we may wander to

no great distance let us look at what has occurred within the

period of our recollection and that of our fathers, in Spain,

Portugal, France, England, and the Low Countries; and we

shall confess with tears, that these remarks are lamentably

too true.

4. But if it happen that the contending parties are nearly

equal in power, or that one of them has been long oppressed,

wearied out by persecutions, and inflamed with a desire for

liberty, after having had their patience converted into fury,

(as it is called,) or rather into just indignation, and if

the pressed party assume courage, summon all its strength,

and collect its forces, then most mighty wars arise,

grievances are repeated, after a flourish of trumpets the

herald's hostile spear is sent forth in defiance, war is

proclaimed, the opposing armies charge each other, and the

struggle is conducted in a most bloody and barbarous manner.

Both the belligerents observe a profound silence about

entering into negotiations for peace, lest that party which

first suggests such a course, should, from that very

circumstance, create a prejudice against its own cause and

make it appear the weaker of the two and the more unjust.

Nay, the strife is carried on with such willful obstinacy,

that he can scarcely be endured who for a moment suspends

their mutual animosities by a mention of peace, unless he

have placed a halter around his neck, and be prepared to be

suspended by it on a gibbet, in case his discourse on this

topic happens to displease. For such a lover of peace would

be stigmatized as a deserter from the common cause, and

considered guilty of heresy, a favourer of heretics, an

apostate and a traitor.

Indeed, all these Enmities, Schisms, Persecutions and Wars,

are commenced, carried on, and conducted with the greater

animosity, on account of every one considering his adversary

as the most infectious and pestilent fellow in the whole

Christian world, a public incendiary, a murderer of souls, an

enemy of God, and a servant of the devil -- as a person who

deserves to be suddenly smitten and consumed by fire

descending from heaven -- and as one, whom it is not only

lawful to hate, to curse and to murder without incurring any

guilt, but whom it is also highly proper to treat in that

manner, and to be entitled to no slight commendation for such

a service, because no other work appears in his eyes to be

more acceptable to God, of greater utility in the salvation

of man, more odious to Satan, or more pernicious to his

kingdom. Such a sanguinary zealot professes to be invited,

instigated and constrained to deeds like these, by a zeal for

the house of God, for the salvation of men, and for the

divine glory. This conduct of violent partizans is what was

predicted by the Judge and the Master of our religion: "When

they shall persecute you and kill you for my sake, they will

think that they do God service." (John xvi, 2.) When the very

conscience, therefore, arouses, assists and defends the

affections, no obstacle can offer a successful resistance to

their impetuosity. Thus we see, that religion itself, through

the vicious corruption of men, has been made a cause of

dissension, and has become the field in which they may

perpetually exercise themselves in cruel and bloody contests.

If, in addition to these things, some individual arrogate to

himself, and, with the consent of a great multitude, usurp

authority to prescribe laws with respect to religion, to

strike with the thunderbolt of excommunication whomsoever he

pleases, to dethrone kings, to absolve subjects from their

oaths of allegiance and fidelity, to arm them against their

lawful rulers, to transfer the right over the dominions of

one prince to others who are his sworn confederates, or to

such as are prepared to seize upon them in the first

instance, to pardon crimes however great their enormity may

be, and whether already perpetrated or to be hereafter

committed, and to canonize ruffians and assassins -- the mere

nod of such a man as is here described, must be instantly

obeyed with blind submission, as if it were the command of

God. Blessed God! what a quantity of most inflammable matter

is thus thrown upon the fire of enmities, persecutions and

wars. What an Iliad of disasters is thus introduced into the

Christian world! It is, therefore, not without just reason

that a man may exclaim, "Is it possible, that Religion can

have persuaded men to introduce this great mass of evils?"

But all the ills which we have enumerated do not only proceed

from real dissensions, in which some fundamental truth is the

subject of discussion, but also from those which are

imaginary, when things affect the mind not as they are in

reality, but according to their appearances. I call these

imaginary dissensions. (i.) Either, because they exist among

parties that have only a fabulous religion, which is at as

great a distance from the true one, as the heaven is distant

from the earth, or as the followers of such a phantom are

from God himself. Differences of this description are found

among the Mahomedans, some parties of whom, (as the Turks,)

follow the interpretation of Omar; while others, (as the

Persians,) are proselytes to the commentaries of Ali. (ii.)

Or, because the discordant parties believe these imaginary

differences to be in the substance of the true doctrine, when

they have it in no existence whatever. Of such a difference

Victor, the Bishop of Rome, afforded an instance, when he

wished to excommunicate all the Eastern Churches, because

they dissented from him in the proper time of celebrating the

Christian festival of Easter.

But, to close this part of my discourse, the very summit and

conclusion of all the evils which arise from religious

discord, is, the destruction of that very religion about

which all the controversy has been raised. Indeed, religion

experiences almost the same fate, as the young lady mentioned

by Plutarch, who was addressed by a number of suitors; and

when each of them found that she could not become entirely

his own, they divided her body into parts, and thus not one

of them obtained possession of her whole person. This is the

nature of discord, to disperse and destroy matters of the

greatest consequence. Of this a very mournful example is

exhibited to us in certain extensive dominions and large

kingdoms, the inhabitants of which were formerly among the

most flourishing professors of the Christian Religion; but

the present inhabitants of those countries have

unchristianized themselves by embracing Mahomedanism -- a

system which derived its origin, and had its chief means of

increase, from the dissensions which arose between the Jews

and the Christians, and from the disputes into which the

Orthodox entered with the Sabellians, the Aryans, the

Nestorians, the Eutychians, and with the Monothelites.

II. Let us proceed to contemplate the Causes of this

Dissention. Philosophers generally divide causes, into those

which directly and of themselves produce an effect, and into

those which indirectly and by accident contribute to the same

purpose. The consideration of each of these classes will

facilitate our present inquiries.

1. The accidental cause of this dissension is (1.) the very

nature of the Christian religion, which not only transcends

the human mind and its affections or passions, but appears to

be altogether contrary to both it and to them. (i.) For the

Christian Religion has its foundation in the Cross of Christ;

and it holds forth this humbling truth, "JESUS THE CRUCIFIED,

IS THE saviour OF THE WORLD," as an axiom most worthy of all

acceptation. For this reason also, the word of which this

religion is composed, is termed "the doctrine of the cross."

(1 Cor. i, 18.) But what can appear to the mind more absurd

or foolish, than for a crucified and dead person to be

accounted the saviour of the world, and for men to believe

that salvation centers in the cross? On this account the

Apostle declares in the same passage, that the doctrine of

the cross, [or, the preaching of Christ Crucified,] is unto

the Jews a stumbling-block and unto the Greeks foolishness.

(ii.) What is more opposed to the human affections than "for

a man to hate and deny himself, to despise the world and the

things that are in the world, and to mortify the flesh with

the affections and lusts?" Yet this is another axiom of the

Christian Religion, to which he who does not give a cheerful

assent in mind, in will and in deed, is excluded from the

discipleship of Christ Jesus. This indispensable requisite is

the cause why he who is alienated in mind from the Christian

Religion, does not yield a ready compliance with these its

demands; and why he who has enrolled his name with Christ,

and who is too weak and pusillanimous to inflict every

species of violence on his nature, invents certain fictions,

by which he attempts to soften and mitigate a sentence, the

exact fulfillment of which fills him with horror. From these

circumstances, after men have turned aside from purity of

doctrine, dissensions are excited against religion and its

firm and constant professors.

(2.) In the scriptures, as in the only authentic document,

the Christian Religion is at present registered and sealed;

yet even they are seized upon as an occasion of error and

dissension, when, as the Apostle Peter says, "the unlearned

and unstable wrest them unto their own destruction," because

they contain "some things hard to be understood." (2 Pet.

iii, 16.) The figurative expressions and ambiguous sentences,

which occur in certain parts of the scriptures, are

undesignedly forced to conduce to the adulteration of the

truth among those persons, "who have not their senses

exercised" in them.

2. But omitting any further notice of these matters, let us

take into our consideration the proper causes of this

dissension: (1.) In the front of these, Satan appears, that

most bitter enemy of truth and peace, and the most wily

disseminator of falsehood and dissension, who acts as leader

of the hostile band. Envying the glory of God and the

salvation of man, and attentively looking out on all

occasions, he marks every movement; and whenever an

opportunity occurs, during the Lord's seed time, he sows the

tares of heresies and schisms among the wheat. From such a

malignant and surreptitious mode of sowing while men are

sleeping, (Matt. xiii, 23,) he often obtains a most abundant

harvest. (2.) Man himself follows next in this destructive

train, and is easily induced to perform any service for

Satan, however pernicious its operation may prove to his own

destruction; and that most subtle enemy, the serpent, finds

in man several instruments most appropriately fitted for the

completion of his purposes.

First. The mind of man is the first in subserviency to Satan,

both with regard to its blindness and its vanity. First. The

Blindness of the mind is of two kinds, the one a native

blindness, the other accidental. The former of these grows up

with us even from the birth: our very origin is tainted with

the infection of the primitive offense of the Old Adam, who

turned away from God the Great Source of all his light. This

blindness has so fascinated our eyes, as to make us appear

like owls that become dim-sighted when the light of truth is

seen. Yet this truth is not hidden in a deep well; but though

it is placed in the heavens, we cannot perceive it, even when

its beams are clearly shining upon us from above. The latter

is an accidental and acquired blindness, which man has chosen

for himself to obscure the few beams of light which remain

him. "The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them

which believe not; lest the light of the glorious gospel of

Christ should shine unto them." (2 Cor. iv, 4.) God himself,

the just punisher of those who hate the truth, has inflicted

on them this blindness, by giving efficacy to error. This is

the cause why the veil that remains upon the mind, operates

as a preventive and obstructs the view of the gospel; (2 Cor.

3,) and why he on whom the truth has shone in vain, "believes

a lie." (2 Thess. ii, 11.) But assent to a falsehood is a

dissent and separation from those who are the assertors of

truth. Secondly. The vanity of the mind succeeds its

blindness, and is prone to turn aside from the path of true

religion, in which no one can continue to walk except by a

firm and invariable purpose of heart. This vanity is also

inclined to invent to itself such a Deity as may be most

agreeable to its own vain nature, and to fabricate a mode of

worship that may be thought to please that fictitious Deity.

Each of these ways constitutes a departure from the unity of

true religion, on deserting which men rush heedlessly into


Secondly. But the affections of the mind are, of all others,

the most faithful and trusty in the assistance which they

afford to Satan, and conduct themselves like abject slaves

devoted to his service; although it must be acknowledged that

they are frequently brought thus to act, under a false

conception that they are by such deeds promoting their own

welfare and rendering good service to God himself. Love and

Hatred, the two chief affections, and the fruitful parents

and instigators of all the rest, occupy the first, second,

third, and indeed all the places, in this slavish employment.

Each of them is of a three-fold character, that nothing might

be wanting which could contribute to the perfection of their


The Former of them consists of the love of glory, of riches,

and of pleasures, which the disciple whom Jesus loved, thus

designates, "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes,

and the pride of life." (1 John ii, 16.) The Latter consists

of hatred to the truth, to peace, and to the professors of

the truth.

(i.) Pride, then, that most prolific mother of dissensions in

religion, produces its fetid offspring in three different

ways: For, First, either it "exalteth itself against the

knowledge of God," (2 Cor. x, 5,) and does not suffer itself

to be brought into captivity by the truth to obey God, being

impatient of the yoke which is imposed by Christ, though it

is both easy and light. Pride says in reality, "Let us break

their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us."

(Psalm ii, 3.) From this baneful source arose the sedition

of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who arrogantly claimed for

themselves a share in the priesthood, which God had given

exclusively to Aaron. (Num. 16.) Or, Secondly, it loveth to

have the pre-eminence in the Church of God, and "to have

dominion over another's faith;" the very crime of which St.

John accuses Diotrephes, when he complains that "neither doth

he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that

would, and casteth them out of the Church." (3 John 9, 10.)

Or, Lastly, having usurped an impotent sovereignty over the

souls of men by appointing and altering at its pleasure the

laws concerning Religion, and over the bodies of men by

employing menaces and force to bring into subjection to it

the consciences of men, it compels those churches which

cannot with a safe conscience bear this most iniquitous

tyranny, to depart from the rest and to assume to themselves

the management of their own affairs. The Greek Church

declared itself to be influenced by this cause, in refusing

to hold communion with the Latin Church, because the Roman

Pontiff had, in opposition to all right and law, and in

defiance of the rule of Christ and of the decrees of the

Fathers, "arrogated to himself a plenitude of power." From

the same fountain has flowed that immense schism which in

this age distracts and divides all Europe. This has been ably

manifested to the whole world by the just complaints and

allegations of Protestant States and Protestant Princes.

But envy, anger, and an eager desire to know all things, are

other three darts, which Pride hurls against concord in

religion. For, first, if any one excels his fellows in the

knowledge of divine things, and in holiness of life, and if

by these means he advances in favour and authority with the

people, pride immediately injects envy into the minds of some

persons, which contaminates all that is fair and lovely;

asperses and defiles whatever is pure; obscures, by vile

calumnies, either his course of life or the doctrines which

he professes; puts a wrong construction, by means of a

malevolent interpretation, on what was well intended and

correctly expressed by him; commences disputes with him who

is thus high in public estimation; and endeavours to lay the

foundations of its own praise on the mass of ignominy which

it heaps upon his name and reputation. If by such actions as

these it cannot obtain for itself a situation equal to its

desires, it then invents new dogmas and draws away the people

after it; that it may enjoy such a dignity, among some

individuals who have separated from the rest of the body,

which it was impossible for it to obtain from the whole while

they lived together in concord and harmony. Secondly. Pride

is also the parent of anger, which may stimulate any one to

revenge, if he think himself injured even in the slightest

degree by a professor of the truth. Such a person reckons

scarcely any injury better suited to his purpose or more

pernicious to the affairs of his adversary, than to speak

contumeliously and in disparagement of his sentiments, and

publicly to proclaim him a Heretic -- than which no term can

be more opprobrious or an object of greater hatred among

mortals. Because, as this crime does not consist of deeds,

but of sentiments, the aspersions cast upon them cannot be so

completely washed away as to leave no stains adhering to

them, or as to create a possibility at least for the

calumniator to remove from himself by some evasive subterfuge

the infamy which attaches itself to him who is an utterer of

slanders. The third weapon which pride employs in this

warfare, is a passionate desire to explore and know all

things. This passion leaves no subject untouched, that its

learning may be displayed to advantage; and, (not to lose the

reward of its labour,) it obtrusively palms upon others as

things necessary to be known, those matters which, by means

of great exertion, it seems to have drawn out from behind the

darkness of ignorance, and accompanies all its remarks by

great boldness of assertion. From such a disposition and

conduct as this, offenses. and schisms must arise in the


(ii.) Avarice, likewise, or, the love of money, which is

termed by the Apostle, "the root of all evil," (1 Tim. vi,

10,) brings its hostile standard into this embattled field.

For, since the doctrine of truth is not a source of profit,

when those who have faithfully taught it are succeeded by

unbelieving teachers, "who are ravening wolves, and suppose

gain to be godliness," the latter effect a great change in

it, (1.) either by "binding heavy burdens, and grievous to be

borne, and laying them on the shoulders of the disciples,"

(Matt. xxiii, 4,) for whose redemption votive offerings may

be daily made; (2.) by inventing profitable plans for

expiating sins; or, lastly, by preaching, in soft and

complimentary language, such things as are agreeable to the

ears of the people, for the purpose of gaining their favour,

which, according to the expression of the Apostle, is a

"corrupting of the word of God," or making a gain of it. (2

Cor. ii, 17.) From these causes dissensions have often

arisen; (1.) either when the faithful teachers that are in

the church, or those whom God raises up for the salvation of

his people, marshal themselves in opposition to the doctrine

which is prepared for the sake of profit; or, (2.) when the

people themselves, growing weary of impositions and rapine,

become seceders from these pastors, by uniting themselves

with such as are really better, or by receiving those as

their substitutes who are in their estimation better. This

was the torch of dissension between the Pharisees and Christ,

who opposed their avarice and came to loose all those

grievous burdens. This was also the primary consideration by

which Luther was excited to obstruct the sale of Popish

indulgencies; and from that small beginning, he gradually

proceeded to reforms of greater importance.

(iii.) Nor only that Pleasure or "lust of the flesh," which

specially comes under this denomination, and which denotes a

feeling or disposition for carnal things, takes its part in

the performance of this tragedy, but that also which in a

general sense contains a desire to commit sin without any

remorse of conscience: and both these kinds of pleasure most

assiduously employ themselves in collecting inflammable

materials for augmenting the flame of discord in religion.

For this passion or affection, having had some experience in

the important "doctrine of the cross," desires as the very

summit of all its wishes, both to riot, while here, in the

pleasures of voluptuousness, and yet to cherish some hopes of

obtaining the happiness of heaven. With two such incompatible

objects in view this passion chooses teachers for itself, who

may in an easy manner "place under the arm-holes of their

disciples, pillows sewed and filled with soft feathers,"

(Ezek. xiii, 18,) on which they may recline themselves and

take sweet repose, although their sins, like sharply pointed

thorns, continue to sting and molest them in every direction.

They flatter them with the idea of easily obtaining pardon,

provided they purchase the favour of the Deity, by means of

certain exercises apparently of some importance, but

possessing in reality no consequence whatever, and by means

of great donations with which they may fill his sanctuary.

This is the complaint of the Apostle, who, when writing to

Timothy, says, "For the time will come when they will not

endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they

heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they

shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be

turned unto fables." To this is subjoined an admonition, that

Timothy should watch and discharge with fidelity the duties

of his ministry. (2 Tim. iv, 3-5). According to this

quotation, a difference must of necessity exist between

Timothy and those teachers.

But these three capital vices are serviceable to Satan, their

author, in another way, and contribute under his direction to

introduce changes in religion, and, consequently, to excite

discord among Christians. In both sacred and profane history,

egregious examples are recorded of princes and private men,

who, being instigated by such a desire of power as partook at

once of ambition and avarice, have invented new modes of

religion, and accommodated them to the capacities, the

wishes, and the opinions of their people; by means of which

they might either restrain their own subjects within the

bounds of their duty, or might subdue to their way the people

that were under the rule of other princes. Ambition and

avarice suggest to such aspiring persons the desire of

inventing those modes of religious worship; while an itching

for novelty, a wish to enjoy their pleasures, and the obvious

agreement of the new doctrine with their preconceived

opinions, influence the people to embrace the modish

religion. With these intentions, and under the impulse of

these views, Jeroboam was the first author of a change of

religion in the Israelitish Church. He built altars in Dan

and Bethel, and made golden calves, that he might prevent the

people from proceeding at stated periods to Jerusalem, for

the purpose of offering sacrifice, according to the command

of God, and from returning to the house of David, from which

they had rent themselves. The same reasons also induced

Mahomet to invent a new religion. By his frequent intercourse

with Jews and Christian, he had learned from both parties

those things which were most agreeable to them; he therefore

adopted the very crafty counsel of Sergius, the monk, and

devised a new mode of religion, which was gratifying to the

human senses, and which, as it was digested in his Alcoran,

he persuaded many people to embrace. The few individuals with

whom he was able to prevail, were the foundation from which

arose the immense Ottoman empire, and those extensive

dominions which are to the present time in possession of the


2. We have now seen in what manner the love of glory, of

riches, and pleasure, performs its several parts in this

theater of religious dissensions. Let Hatred next appear and

exhibit to us its actions, which, from the very nature of the

cause, have a proper and direct tendency to excite discord.

(1.) The first of its actors that appears upon the stage, is

a hatred of the truth, and of true doctrine. This species of

hatred is conceived, partly from an anticipated notion of the

mind, which, since it cannot be reconciled to the doctrine of

truth, and yet is with difficulty drawn away from it, excites

hatred against a sentiment that is opposed to itself. It is

also partly conceived, because the true doctrine becomes the

accuser of man, forbidding those things which are the objects

of his desires, and commanding those things which he is most

reluctant to perform. While it urges its precepts so rigidly,

that every one who does not seriously regulate and conform

his life to the conditions which they contain, is excluded

from all hope of salvation.

(2.) The next in order, is the hatred of peace and concord.

For there are men of a certain description who cannot exist

without having an enemy, which Trogus Pompeius declares to

have been a trait in the character of the ancient Spaniards.

To such persons concord or amity is so offensive, that, out

of pure hatred to it, they willingly expose themselves to the

enmity of others. If such characters happen to obtain a

station of some honour in the Church, it is amazing what

scruples and difficulties they will not raise, what intricate

sophisms they will not frame and contrive, and what

accusations they will not institute, that they may have an

opportunity of raising a contest about the articles of

religion, from which proceed private enmity and rancor that

can never be appeased, and dissensions of a more deadly kind

than the greatest of those which relate to the present life.

(3.) The last which comes forward, is a hatred against the

professors of the true doctrine, from which the descent is

very rapid downwards to a dissent from that doctrine which

those good men profess; because it is the anxious study of

every one that hates another, not to have anything in common

with his adversary. Of this the Arabians afford an example.

Out of hatred to Heraclius Cæsar, and to the stipendiary

Greek and Latin troops who served under him, they, who had

long before departed from them in will and affection,

effected a still more serious separation from them in

religion; for, although they had previously been professors

of Christianity, from that period they embraced the doctrines

of the Alcoran and became followers of Mahomet.

But the professors of the true doctrine incur this species of

hatred, either through some fault of their own, or through

the pure malice of men. (i.) They incur this hatred by their

own fault, if they do not administer the doctrine of the

truth, with that prudence and gentleness which are

appropriate to it; if they appear to have a greater regard

for their own advantage, than for the advancement of

religion, and, lastly, if their manner of life is in

opposition to the doctrine. From all these circumstances a

bad opinion is entertained of them, as though they scarcely

believed the principles which they inculcate. (ii.) This

hatred is also incurred by the fault of another, because the

delicate and lascivious hearts of men cannot bear to have

their ulcers sprinkled and purified by the sharp salt of

truth, and because they with difficulty admit any censors on

their life and manners. With a knowledge of this trait of the

human heart, the Apostle inquires, "Am I therefore become

your enemy, because I tell you the truth ," (Gal. iv, 16.)

For truth is almost invariably productive of hatred, while an

obsequious complaisance obtains friends as its reward.

3. The preceding appear to be the procuring causes of

dissensions in religion; and as long as their efficacy

endures, they tend to perpetuate these dissensions. There are

other causes that we may justly class among those which

perpetuate discord when once it has arisen, and which prevent

the restoration of peace and unity.

(1.) Among these perpetuating and preventing causes, the

first place is claimed for the various prejudices by which

the minds of the Dissidents are occupied, concerning our

adversaries and their opinions, concerning our parents and

ancestors, and the Church to which we belong, and, lastly,

concerning ourselves and our teachers.

(i.) The prejudice against our adversaries is, not that we

think them under the influence of Error, but under that of

pure malice, and because their minds have indulged their

humour in thus dissenting. This cuts off all hope of leading

them to adopt correct sentiments, and despair refuses to make

the attempt. (ii.) The prejudice against the opinions of our

adversary is, that we condemn them ourselves not only for

being false, but for having been already condemned by the

public judgment of the Church; we therefore consider them

unworthy of being again brought into controversy, and

subjected anew to examination. (iii.) But the preconceived

opinion which we have formed concerning our parents and

ancestors, is also a preventive of reconciliation, both

because we account them to have been possessed of such a

great share of wisdom and piety, as rendered it improbable

that they could ever have been guilty of error; and because

we conceive favourable hopes of their salvation, which is

very properly an object of our most earnest wishes in their

behalf. But these hopes we seem to call in question, if, in

an opinion opposed to theirs, we acknowledge any portion of

the truth appertaining to salvation, of which they have

either been ignorant or have disapproved. It is on this

principle that parents leave their posterity heirs as of

their property so also of their opinions and dissensions.

(iv.) Besides, the splendour of the Church, to which we have

bound ourselves by an oath, dazzles our eyes in such a manner

that we cannot suffer any persuasion whatever to induce us to

believe the possibility, in former times or at present, of

that church having deviated in any point from the right way.

(v.) Lastly. Our thoughts and sentiments concerning ourselves

and our teachers are so exalted, that our minds can scarcely

conceive it possible either for them to have been ignorant,

or not to have had a sufficiently clear perception of things,

or for us to err in judgment when we approve of their

opinions. So prone is the human understanding to exempt from

all suspicion of error itself and those whom it loves and


(2.) It is no wonder if these prejudices produce a

pertinacity in eagerly defending a proposition once laid

down, which is a most powerful impediment to reconciliation.

Two kinds of fear render this pertinacity the more obstinate:

(i.) One is a fear of that disgrace which, we foolishly

think, will be incurred if we acknowledge ourselves to have

been at all in error. (ii.) The other is a fear which causes

us to think, that the whole doctrine is exposed to the utmost

peril, if we discover it even in one point to be erroneous.

(3.) In addition to these, the mode of action commonly

adopted both towards an adversary and his opinion, is no

small obstacle to reconciliation, although that mode may seem

to have been chosen for conciliatory purposes.

(i.) An adversary is treated in a perverse manner, when he is

overwhelmed by curses and reproaches, assailed with

detractions and calumnies, and when he is menaced with

threats of violence. If he despises all these things, which

is not an uncommon occurrence when "the testimony of his

conscience" is in opposition to them, (2 Cor. i, 19,) they

produce no effect whatever. But if his spirit broods over

them, his mind becomes disturbed, and, like one stricken by

the Furies, he is driven to madness, and is thus much worse

qualified than before to acknowledge his error. In both these

ways he is confirmed rather the more in his own opinion;

either because he perceives, that those who use arms of this

kind openly betray the weakness as well as the injustice of

their cause; or, because he draws this conclusion in his own

mind, that it is not very probable that those persons are

instructed by the Spirit of truth, who adopt such a course of


(ii.) But contention is rashly instituted against the opinion

of an adversary, first, when it is not proposed according to

the mind and intention of him who is the assertor; Secondly,

when it is discussed beyond all due bounds, and its deformity

is unseasonably exaggerated; and, lastly, when its refutation

is attempted by arguments ill calculated to produce that


The first occurs when we do not attend to the words of an

adversary, with a becoming tranquillity of mind and suitable

patience; but immediately and at the mention of the first

word, we are accustomed to guess at his meaning. The second

arises from the circumstance of no one wishing it to appear

as if he had begun to contend about a thing of trifling

importance. The last proceeds from ignorance or from too

great impetuosity, which, on being precipitously impelled

into fury, augments its mischievous capabilities. It then

seizes upon anything for a weapon, and hurls it against the

adversary. When the first mode is adopted, the person whose

meaning is misrepresented, thinks that an opinion, not his

own, has been calumniously attributed to him. The second

course, according to his judgment, has been pursued for the

purpose of affixing an envious mark upon his opinion, and

upon the dignity which it has acquired. When the last is put

in practice, be considers his opinion to be incapable of

refutation, because he observes that it remains uninjured

amidst all the arguments which have been directed against it.

All and each of these add fuel to the flame of dissensions,

and render the blazing fire inextinguishable.

III. We have now considered the Nature, the Effects and the

Causes of religious dissension. It remains for us to inquire

into the Remedies for such a great evil. While I attempt this

in a brief manner, I beg that you will favour me with that

degree of attention which you have already manifested. The

professors of medicine describe the nature of all remedies

thus, "they are never used without some effect." For if they

be true remedies, they must prove beneficial; and, if they do

not profit, they prove hurtful. This latter circumstance

reminds me, that I ought first to remove certain corrupt

remedies which have been devised by some persons and

occasionally employed.

1. The first of these false remedies which obtrudes itself,

is the fable of the sufficiency of implicit faith, by which

people are called upon, without any knowledge of the matter,

to believe that which is an object of belief with the Church

and the Prelates. But the Scripture places righteousness "in

the faith of the heart," and salvation "in the confession of

the mouth;" (Rom. x, 10,) and says, "The just shall live by

his faith," (Heb. ii, 4,) and "I believe and therefore have

spoken." (2 Cor. iv, 13.) This monstrous absurdity is,

therefore, exploded by the scripture. Not only does this

fable take away all cause of religious dissension, but it

also destroys religion itself, which, when it is destitute of

Knowledge and Faith, can have no existence.

2. The next figment is nearly allied to this; it concludes,

that every one may be saved in his own religion. But while

this remedy professes to cure one evil, it produces another

much more hurtful and of greater magnitude; and that is, the

certain destruction of those who are held in bondage by this

error. Because this opinion renders the error incurable;

since no one will give himself any trouble to lay it aside or

to correct it. This was Mahomet's devise, for the purpose of

establishing his Alcoran free from all liability of its

becoming an object of dispute. The same doctrine obtained in

Paganism, where the worship of demons flourished, as is

evident from the title on a certain altar among the

Athenians, the high stewards of Pagan wisdom. That altar bore

the following inscription, "To The Gods of Asia, Europe, and

Africa; To The Unknown and Foreign Gods:" which was after the

manner of the Romans, at that period, "the masters of the

world," who were accustomed to invoke the tutelary deities of

an enemy's city before they commenced hostilities against it.

In this manner has Satan exerted himself, lest his "kingdom,

being divided against itself should fall."

3. The third false remedy is a prohibition of all

controversies respecting religion, which lays down the most

stupid ignorance for a foundation, and raises upon it the

superstructure of religious concord: In Russia, where such an

ordinance is in operation, this is obvious to every one that

contemplates its effects. Yet it is hurtful, whether it be

true religion that flourishes, or it be false. In the first

case, on account of the inconstancy of the human mind; and in

the second case, because it stamps perpetuity on error,

unless the preceding fiction concerning the equality of all

religions meet with approval, for on that foundation, Mahomet

raised this prohibition against religious controversies.

4. Next to this in absurdity is the advice, not to explain

the sacred Scriptures, but only to read them: which is not

only pernicious, on account of the omission of their

particular application, and repugnant to the usage both of

the ancient Jewish Church and of the primitive Church of

Christ; but it is also of no avail in the cure of the evil,

since any one might, by reading, discover the meaning for

himself, according to his own fancy; and that reading which

is instituted at the will of the reader, would act the part

of an explanation, on account of the parallelism of similar

and dissimilar passages.

But the Popish Church exhibits to us Three Remedies.

First, that, for the sake of certainty, we mall have recourse

to the Church Universal. However, since the whole of this

church cannot meet together, the court of Rome has appointed

in its place a representative assembly, consisting of the

Pope, the Cardinals, the Bishops, and the rest of the

prelates who are devoted to the Roman See, and subject to the

Pontiff. But, in addition to this, because it believes that

it is possible for all the Cardinals, Bishops and Prelates to

err, even when united together in one body, and because it

considers the Pope alone to be placed beyond the possibility

of error, it declares that we must apply to him for the sake

of obtaining a decisive judgment concerning Religion. This

remedy is not only vain and inefficient, but it is far more

difficult to induce the rest of the Christian world to adopt

it than any controverted article in the whole circle of

religion: And since the Papists endeavour to prove this point

from the scriptures, by that very circumstance they declare

that the scriptures are the only sanctuary to which we can

repair for religious information.

Secondly. Their next remedy is proposed, if I may, be allowed

the expression, merely for the sake of form, and lies in the

writings and agreement of the ancient Fathers. But, since the

Christian Fathers have not all been authors, and few of those

who have written, have concerned themselves with

controversies, (which takes away from us the universal

consent of all of them together,) this remedy is also

useless, because it is a fact to the truth of which the

Papists themselves assent, that it was possible for each of

these Fathers to err. From this circumstance, therefore, we

conclude, that the consent of all of them is not free from

the risk of error, even if each had separately declared his

own individual opinion in his writings. Besides, this general

agreement is no easy matter; nay, it is to be obtained with

the greatest difficulty; because it is in the power of very

few persons, (if of any man whatever,) to make themselves

acquainted with such universal consent, both on account of

the bulky and almost innumerable volumes in which the

writings of the Fathers are contained, and because the

dispute among different parties is no less concerning the

meaning of those Fathers than concerning that of the

Scriptures, the contents of which are comprised in a book of

small size when compared with the dimensions of their massy

tomes. We are thus sent forth on an endless excursion, that

we may at length be compelled to return to the Sovereign


Thirdly. The other remedy of the papists is not much

dissimilar to the preceding one. It is thus stated: The

decrees of former councils may be consulted; from which, if

it should appear that the controversy has been decided, the

judgment then passed upon it must stand in the place of a

definitive sentence: nor must any matter, the merits of which

have been once decided, be brought again into judgment. But

of what avail would this be, if a good cause had been badly

defended, and had been overpowered and borne down, not by any

defect in itself, but through the fault of those who were its

defenders, and who were either awed into silence through

fear, or betrayed their trust by an incompetent, foolish and

injudicious defense? And of what consequence does such a

remedy appear, if one and the same spirit of error have

conducted on such an occasion both the attack and the

defense. But grant that it has been fairly defended: Yet, I

declare that The Cause Of Religion, Which Is The Cause Of

God, Is Not An Affair To Be Submitted To Human Decision, or

to be judged of man's judgment."

The Papists add a Fourth remedy, which, on account of its

fierce and most violent efficacy, will not easily be

forgotten by us as a people who have been called to endure

some of its cruelties. It acts like the fulcrum of a lever

for confirming all the preceding suggestions, and is the

foundation of the whole composition. It is this: "Whosoever

refuses to listen to the councils and writings of the

fathers, and to receive them as explained by the Church of

Rome -- whosoever refuses to listen to the Church, and

especially to her husband, that High Priest and Prophet, the

vicar of Christ and the successor of St. Peter, let that soul

be cut off from among his people: And he who is unwilling to

yield to an authority so sacred, must be compelled, under the

sword of the executioner, to express his consent, or he must

be avoided," which, in their language, signifies that he must

be deprived of life. To murder and utterly to destroy the

adverse and gainsaying parties is indeed, a most compendious

method of removing all dissensions!

In the midst of these difficulties, some persons have

invented other remedies, which, since they are not within the

power of man, ought, according to their views, to be asked of

God in prayer.

1. One is, that God would be pleased to raise some one from

the dead, and send him to men: From such a messenger, they

might then hope to know what is God's decisive judgment

concerning the clashing opinions of the various dissidents.

But this remedy is discountenanced by Christ when he says,

"If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they

be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke xvi, 31.)

2. Another of these remedies is, that God would by a miracle

distinguish that party of whose sentiments he approves; which

appears to have been a practice in the times of Elijah. But

if no sect be entirely free from every particle of error, can

it be expected that God will set the seal of his approval on

any portion of falsity? But this wish is unnecessary, since

the things which Christ did and spoke "are written that we

might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and

that, believing, we might have life through his name." (John

xx, 31.) But the remedy itself, if applied, would prove to

be inefficacious. For even in the days of Christ and his

apostles, dissensions existed; and many of them were excited

against the primitive heralds of the gospel, although they

had acquired great renown by the benevolent exercise of the

miraculous powers with which they were endued. To this remark

I must add that the approaching advent of Antichrist is

predicted to be "with all power, and signs, and lying

wonders." (2 Thess. ii, 9.)

3. A third remedy, of a horrid description, remains to be

noticed, which, nevertheless, is resorted to by some persons.

It is an adjuration of the devil, to induce him by means of

incantations and exorcisms to deliver an answer, from the

bodies of deceased persons, concerning the truth of such

doctrines as are at any period the existing subjects of

controversy. This method is both a mark of the utmost

desperation, and an execrable and insane love of demons.

But, dismissing all these violent medicines, that are of a

bad character and import, I proceed to notice such as are

holy, true and saving; these I distribute into preparatives

and aphæretics or removers, of this dissension.

1. To the class of preparatives belong, (1.) in the first

place, Prayers and Supplications to God, that we may obtain a

knowledge of the truth, and that the peace of the Church may

be preserved: and these religious acts are to be performed,

at the special command of the magistrates, with fasting, and

in dust and ashes, with seriousness, in faith, and with

assiduity. These services, when thus performed, cannot fail

of being efficacious; because they are done according to the

ordinance of God, whose command it is, that "we pray for the

peace of Jerusalem," (Psalm cxxii, 6,) and according to the

promise of Christ, who has graciously engaged that "the

Spirit of truth shall be given to those who ask him." (Luke

xi, 13.)

(2.) Let a serious amendment of life and a conscientious

course of conduct be added: For, without these, all our

prayers are rendered ineffectual, because they are

displeasing to God, on the ground, that "he who misemploys

that portion of knowledge which he possesses, becomes, by his

own act, unworthy of all further communications and increase

of knowledge." This is in accordance with that saying of

Christ: "Unto every one that hath, shall be given; and from

him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken

away from him." (Luke xix, 26.) But to all those who employ

and improve the knowledge which is given to them, Christ

promises the spirit of discernment. in these words: "If any

man will do the will of my Father, he shall know of the

doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of

myself." (John viii, 17.)

2. But amongst the very first removals, let those causes be

put away which, as we have previously stated, have their

origin in the affections, and which are not only the

instigators of this dissension, but tend to perpetuate and

keep it alive. Let humility overcome pride; let a mind

contented with its condition become the successor of avarice;

let the love of celestial delights expel all carnal

pleasures; let good will and benevolence occupy the place of

envy; let patient forbearance subdue anger; let sobriety in

acquiring wisdom prescribe bounds to the desire of knowledge,

and let studious application take the place of learned

ignorance. Let all hatred and bitterness be laid aside; and,

on the contrary, "let us put on bowels of mercies" towards

those who differ from us, and who appear either to wander

about in the paths of error, or to scatter its noxious seeds

among others.

These necessary concessions we shall obtain from our minds

without much difficulty, if the following four considerations

become the objects of our sedulous attention:

First. How extremely difficult it is to discover the truth an

all subjects, and to avoid error. On this topic, St.

Augustine most beautifully descants, when he thus addresses

those worst of heretics, the Manichees: "Let those persons be

enraged against you, who are ignorant of the immense labour

that is required for the discovery of truth, and how

difficult it is to guard against error. Let those be enraged

against you who know not how uncommon a circumstance and how

arduous a toil it is to overcome carnal fantasies, when such

a conquest is put in comparison with serenity of mind. Let

those be enraged against you who are not aware of the great

difficulty with which the eye of "the inner man" is healed,

so as to be able to look up to God as the sun of the system.

Let those be enraged against you, who are personally

unconscious of the many sighs and groans which must be

uttered before we are capable of understanding God in the

slightest degree. And, lastly, let them be enraged against

you, who have never been deceived by an error of such a

description as that under which they see you labouring. But

how angry soever all these persons may be, I cannot be in the

least enraged against you, whose weaknesses it is my duty to

bear, as those who were near me at that period bore with

mine; and I ought now to treat you with as much patience as

that which was exercised towards me when, frantic and blind,

I went astray in the errors of your doctrine."

Secondly. That those who hold erroneous opinions have been

induced through ignorance to adopt them, is far more

probable, than that malice has influenced them to contrive a

method of consigning themselves and other people to eternal


Thirdly. It is possible that they who entertain these

mistaken sentiments, are of the number of the elect, whom

God, it is true, may have permitted to fall, but only with

this design, that he may raise them up with the greater

glory. How then can we indulge ourselves in any harsh or

unmerciful resolutions against these persons, who have been

destined to possess the heavenly inheritance, who are our

brethren, the members of Christ, and not only the servants

but the sons of the Lord Most High?

Lastly. Let us place ourselves in the circumstances of an

adversary, and let him in return assume the character which

we sustain; since it is as possible for us, as it is for him,

to hold wrong principles. When we have made this experiment,

we may be brought to think, that the very person whom we had

previously thought to be in error, and whose mistakes in our

eyes had a destructive tendency, may perhaps have been given

to us by God, that out of his mouth we may learn the truth

which has hitherto been unknown to us.

To these four reflections, let there be added, a

consideration of all those articles of religion respecting

which there exists on both sides a perfect agreement. These

will perhaps be found to be so numerous and of such great

importance, that when a comparison is instituted between

them, and the others which may properly be made the subjects

of controversy, the latter will be found to be few in number

and of small consequence. This is the very method which a

certain famous prince in France is reported to have adopted,

when Cardinal Lorraine attempted to embroil the Lutherans, or

those who adhered to the Augustan Confession, with the French

Protestants, that he might interrupt and neutralize the

salutary provisions of the Conference at Poissy, which had

been instituted between the Protestants and the Papists.

But since it is customary after long and grievous wars, to

enter into a truce, or a cessation from hostilities, prior to

the conclusion of a treaty of peace and its final

ratification; and, since, during the continuance of a truce,

while every hostile attempt is laid aside, peaceful thoughts

are naturally suggested, till at length a general solicitude

is expressed with regard to the method in which a firm peace

and lasting reconciliation may best be effected; it is my

special wish, that there may now be among us a similar

cessation from the asperitics of religious warfare, and that

both parties would abstain from writings full of bitterness,

from sermons remarkable only for the invectives which they

contain, and from the unchristian practice of mutual

anathematizing and execration. Instead of these, let the

controversialists substitute writings full of moderation, in

which the matters of controversy may, without respect of

persons, be clearly explained and proved by cogent arguments:

Let such sermons be preached as are calculated to excite the

minds of the people to the love and study of truth, charity,

mercy, long-suffering, and concord; which may inflame the

minds both of Governors and people with a desire of

concluding a pacification, and may make them willing to carry

into effect such a remedy as is, of all others, the best

accommodated to remove dissensions.

That remedy is, an orderly and free convention of the parties

that differ from each other: In such an assembly, (called by

the Greeks a Synod and by the Latins a Council,) after the

different sentiments have been compared together, and the

various reasons of each have been weighed, in the fear of the

Lord, and with calmness and accuracy, let the members

deliberate, consult and determine what the word of God

declares concerning the matters in controversy, and

afterwards let them by common consent promulge and declare

the result to the Churches.

The Chief Magistrates, who profess the Christian religion,

will summon and convene this Synod, in virtue of the Supreme

official authority with which they are divinely invested, and

according to the practice that formerly prevailed in the

Jewish Church, and that was afterwards adopted by the

Christian Church and continued nearly to the nine hundredth

year after the birth of Christ, until the Roman Pontiff began

through tyranny to arrogate this authority to himself. Such

an arrangement is required by the public weal, which is never

committed with greater safety to the custody of any one than

to his whose private advantage is entirely unconnected, with

the issue.

But men endued with wisdom will be summoned to this Synod,

and will be admitted into it -- men who are well qualified

for a seat in it by the sanctity of their lives, and their

general experience -- men burning with zeal for God and for

the salvation of their mankind, and inflamed with the love of

truth and peace. Into such a choice assembly all those

persons will be admitted who are acknowledged for any

probable reason to possess the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit

of discernment between truth and falsehood, between good and

evil, and those who promise to abide by the Scriptures, that

have been inspired by the same Holy Spirit. Not only will

ecclesiastics be admitted, but also laymen, whether they be

entitled to any superiority on account of the dignity of the

office which they sustain, or whether they be persons in

private stations. Not only will the representatives of one

party, or of some parties, be admitted, but deputies from all

the parties that disagree, whether they have been defenders

of the conflicting opinions that are at issue, or whether

they have never publicly explained their own sentiments

either in discourse or by writing. But it is of the utmost

consequence, that this sentence should, after the manner of

Plato, be inscribed in letters of gold on the porch of the

building in which this sacred meeting holds its sittings:

"Let no one that is not desirous of promoting the interests

of truth and peace, enter this hallowed dome" It is my

sincere and earnest wish, that God would "place his angel

with a flaming two-edged sword at the entrance of this

paradise," in which Divine Truth and the lovely Concord of

the Church will be the subjects of discussion; and that he

would by his Angel drive away all those who might be animated

with a spirit averse to truth and concord, while the sacred

guardian repeats, in tones terrific and a voice of thunder,

the warning words used by the followers of Pythagoras and

Orpheus preparatory to the commencement of their sacred


Far, far from hence, ye multitude profane!

The situation and other circumstances of the town or city

appointed for holding such a Council, must not be neglected.

It should be so accommodated to the convenience of those who

have to assemble in it, that neither the difficulty of

approaching it, nor the length of the journey to it, should

operate as a hindrance on any of the members deputed. It

should be a place free from danger and violence, and secured

against all surprise and ambuscades, in order that those who

are summoned may come to it, remain in it, and return to

their homes, in perfect safety. To secure these benefits, it

will be necessary for a public pledge to be given to all the

members and solemnly observed.

In this council the subjects of discussion will not be, the

jurisdiction, honours, and rights of precedence on the part

of princes, the wealth, power and privileges of Bishops, the

commencement of war against the Turks, or any other political

matters. But its discussions will relate solely to those

things which pertain to Religion: Of this description are the

doctrines which concern faith and manners, and ecclesiastical

order. (1.) In these doctrines, there are two objects worthy

of consideration, which are indeed of the greatest

consequence: (i.) Their truth, and (ii.) The degree of

necessity which exists for knowing, believing and practicing

ecclesiastical order, because a good part of it is positive

and only requires to be accommodated to persons, places and

seasons, it will be easily dispatched.

The end of such a holy convention will be the illustration,

preservation, and propagation of the truth; the extirpation

of existing errors, and the concord of the Church. The

consequence of all which, will be the glory of God and the

eternal salvation of men.

The presidency of that assembly belongs to HIM ALONE who is

the Head and the Husband of the Church, to Christ by his Holy

Spirit. For he has promised to be present in a company that

may consist only of two or three individuals gathered

together in his name: His assistance, therefore, will be

earnestly implored at the beginning and end of each of their

sessions. But for the sake of order, moderation, and good

government, and to avoid confusion, it will be necessary to

have presidents subordinate to Christ Jesus. It is my sincere

wish that the magistrates would themselves undertake that

office in the Council; and this might be obtained from them

as a favour. But in case of their reluctance, either some

members deputed from their body, or some persons chosen by

the whole Synod, ought to act in that capacity. The duties of

these Presidents will consist in convening the assembly,

proposing the subjects of deliberation, putting questions to

the vote, collecting the suffrages of each member by means of

accredited secretaries, and in directing the whole of the

proceedings. The course of action to be adopted in the Synod

itself, is this; (1.) a regular and accurate debate on the

matters in controversy, (2.) mature consultation concerning

them, and (3.) complete liberty for every one to declare his

opinion. The rule to be observed in all these transactions is

the Word of God, recorded in the books of the Old and New

Testament. The power and influence which the most ancient

Councils ascribed to this sacred rule, were pointed out by

the significant action of placing a copy of the Gospels in

the first and most honourable seat in the assembly. On this

point the parties between whom the difference subsists,

should be mutually agreed. (1.) The debates will not be

conducted according to the rules of Rhetoric, but according

to Dialectics. But a logical and concise mode of reasoning

will be employed; and all precipitancy of speech and

extempore effusions will be avoided. To each of the parties

such an equal space of time will be allowed as may appear

necessary for due meditation: and, to avoid many

inconveniences and absurdities, every speech intended for

delivery will be comprised in writing, and will be recited

from the manuscript. No one shall be permitted to interrupt

or to close a disputation, unless, in the opinion of the

whole assembly, it appear that sufficient reasons have been

advanced to satisfy the subject under discussion. (2.) When a

disputation is finished, a grave and mature deliberation will

be instituted both concerning the controversies themselves

and the arguments employed by both sides; that, the limits of

the matter under dispute being laid down with great

strictness, and the amplitude of debate being contracted into

a very narrow compass, the question on which the assembly has

to decide and pronounce may be perceived as at one glance

with complete distinctness. (3.) To these will succeed, in

the proper course, a free declaration of opinion -- a right,

the benefit of which will belong equally to all that are

convened of each party, without excluding from it any of

those who though not invited, may have voluntarily come to

the town or city in which the Synod is convened, and who may

have been admitted into it by the consent of the members.

And since nothing to the present period has proved to be a

greater hindrance to the investigation of truth or to the

conclusion of an agreement, than this circumstance -- that

those who have been convened were so restricted and confined

to received opinions as to bring from home with them the

declaration which they were to make on every subject in the

Synod: it is, therefore, necessary that all the members

assembled, should, prior to the commencement of any

proceedings, take a solemn oath, not to indulge in

prevarication or calumny. By this oath they ought to promise

that every thing shall be transacted in the fear of the Lord,

and according to a good conscience; the latter of which

consists, in not asserting that which they consider to be

false, in not concealing that which they think to be the

truth, (how much soever such truth may be opposed to them and

their party,) and in not pressing upon others for absolute

certainties those points which seem, even to themselves, to

be doubtful. By this oath they should also promise that every

thing shall be conducted according to the rule of the word of

God, without favour or affection, and without any partiality

or respect of persons; that the whole of their attention in

that assembly shall be solely directed to promote an inquiry

after truth and to consolidate Christian concord; and that

they will acquiesce in the sentence of the Synod on all those

things of which they shall be convinced by the word of God.

On which account let them be absolved from all other oaths,

either immediately or indirectly contrary to this by which

they have been bound either to Churches and their

confessions, or to schools and their masters, or even to

princes themselves, with an exception in favour of the right

and jurisdiction which the latter have over their subjects.

Constituted after this manner, such a Synod will truly be a

free assembly, most suitable and appropriate for the

investigation of truth and the establishment of concord. This

is an opinion which is countenanced by St. Augustine, who,

expostulating with the Manichees, in continuation of the

passage which we have just quoted, proceeds thus: "But that

you may become milder and may be the more easily pacified, O

Manicheans, and that you may no longer place yourselves in

opposition to me, with a mind full of hostility which is most

pernicious to yourselves, it is my duty to request of you

(whoever he may be that shall judge betwixt us,) that all

arrogance be laid aside by both parties; and that none of us

say, that he has discovered the truth. But rather let us seek

it, as though it were unknown to each of us. For thus it will

be possible for each of us to be engaged in a diligent and

amicable search for it, if we have not by a premature and

rash presumption believed that it is an object which we had

previously discovered, and with which we are well


From a Synod thus constructed and managed, those who rely on

the promise of God may expect most abundant profit and the

greatest advantages. For, though Christ be provoked to anger

by our manifold trespasses and offenses, yet the thought must

not be once indulged, that his church will be neglected by

him; or, when his faithful servants and teachable disciples

are, with simplicity of heart, engaged in a search after

truth and peace, and are devoutly imploring the grace of his

Holy Spirit, that He will on any account suffer them to fall

into such errors as are opposed to truths accounted

fundamental, and to persevere in them when their tendency is

thus injurious. From the decisions of a Synod that is

influenced by such expectations, unanimity and agreement will

be obtained on all the doctrines, or at least on the

principal part of them, and especially on those which are

supported by clear testimonies from the Scriptures.

But if it should happen, that a mutual consent and agreement

cannot be obtained on some articles, then, it appears to me,

one of these two courses must be pursued. First. It must

become a matter of deep consideration, whether a fraternal

concord in Christ, cannot exist between the two parties, and

whether one cannot acknowledge the other for partakers of the

same faith and fellow-heirs of the same salvation, although

they may both hold different sentiments concerning the nature

of faith and the manner of salvation. If either party refuse

to extend to the other the right hand of fellowship, the

party so offending shall, by the unanimous declaration of all

the members, be commanded to prove from plain and obvious

passages of scripture, that the importance attached to the

controverted articles is so great as not to permit those who

dissent from them to be one in Christ Jesus. Secondly. After

having made every effort toward producing a Christian and

fraternal union, if they find that this cannot be effected,

in such a state of affairs the second plan must be adopted,

which indeed the conscience of no man can under any pretext

refuse. The right hand of friendship should be extended by

both parties, and all of them should enter into a solemn

engagement, by which they should bind themselves, as by oath,

and under the most sacred obligations, to abstain in future

from all bitterness, evil speaking, and railing; to preach

with gentleness and moderation, to the people entrusted to

their care, that truth which they deem necessary; and to

confute those falsities which they consider to be inimical to

salvation and injurious to the glory of God; and, while

engaged in such a confutation of error, (however great their

earnestness may be,) to let their zeal be under the direction

of knowledge and attempered with kindness. On him who shall

resolve to adopt a course of conduct different to this, let

the imprecations of an incensed God and his Christ be

invoked, and let the magistrates not only threaten him with

deserved punishment, but let it be actually inflicted.

But the Synod will not assume to itself the authority of

obtruding upon others, by force, those resolutions which may

have been passed by unanimous consent. For this reflection

should always suggest itself, "Though this Synod appears to

have done all things conscientiously, it is possible, that,

after all, it has committed an error in judgment. Such a

diffidence and moderation of mind will possess greater power,

and will have more influence, than any immoderate or

excessive rigor can have, on the consciences both of the

contumacious dissidents, and of the whole body of the

faithful; because, according to Lactantius, "To recommend

faith to others, we must make it the subject of persuasion,

and not of compulsion." Tertullian also says, "Nothing is

less a religious business than to employ coercion about

religion." For these disturbers will either then (1.) desist

from creating further trouble to the Church by the frequent,

unreasonable and outrageous inculcation of their opinions,

which, with all their powers of persuasion, they were not

able to prevail with such a numerous assembly of impartial

and moderate men to adopt. Or, (2.) being exposed to the just

indignation of all these individuals, they will scarcely find

a person willing to lend an ear to teachers of such a

refractory and obstinate disposition. If this should not

prove to be the result, then it must be concluded that there

are no remedies calculated to remove all evils; but those

must be employed which have in them the least peril. The mild

and affectionate expostulation of Christ our saviour, must

also live in our recollections. He addressed his disciples

and said, "Will ye also go away ," (John vi, 67.) We must use

the same interrogation; and must rest at that point and cease

from all ulterior measures.

My very famous, most polite and courteous hearers, these are

the remarks which have been impressed on my mind, and which I

have accounted it my duty at this time to declare concerning

the reconciliation of religious differences. The short time

usually allotted to the delivery of an address on this

occasion, and the defects of my own genius, have prevented me

from treating this subject according to its dignity and


May the God of truth and peace inspire the hearts of the

magistrates, the people and the ministers of religion, with

an ardent desire for truth and peace. May He exhibit before

their eyes, in all its naked deformity, the execrable and

polluting nature of dissension concerning religion; and may

He affect their hearts with a serious sense of these evils

which flow so copiously from it; that they may unite all

their prayers, counsels, endeavours, and desires, and may

direct them to one point, the removal of the causes of such a

great evil, the adoption of a mild and sanatory process, and

the application of gentle remedies for healing this

dissension, which are the only description of medicines of

which the very weak and sickly condition of the body of the

Church, and the nature of the malady, will admit. "The God of

peace," who dignifies "the peace makers" alone with the ample

title of "children,"(Matt. v, 9,) has called us to the

practice of peace. Christ, "the Prince of peace," who by his

precious blood, procured peace for us, has bequeathed and

recommended it to us with a fraternal affection. (John xiv,

27.) It has also been sealed to us by the Holy Spirit, who is

the bond of peace, and who has united all of us in one body

by the closest ties of the new covenant. (Ephes. iv, 3.)

Let us be ashamed of contaminating such a splendid title as

this by our petty contentions; let it rather be to us an

object of pursuit, since God has called us to such a course.

Let us not suffer that which has been purchased at such a

great price to be consumed, and wasted away in the midst of

our disputes and dissensions; but let us embrace it, because

our Lord Christ has given it the sanction of his

recommendation. Let us not permit a covenant of such great

sanctity to be made void by our factious divisions; but,

since it is sealed to us by the Holy Spirit, let us attend to

all its requisitions and preserve the terms inviolate.

Fabius, the Roman ambassador, told the Carthaginians, "that

he carried to them in his bosom both War and Peace, that they

might choose either of them that was the object of their

preference." Depending not on my own strength, but on the

goodness of God, the promises of Christ, and on the gentle

attestations of the Holy Spirit, I venture to imitate his

expressions, (full of confidence although they be,) and to

say, "Only let us choose peace and God will perfect it for

us." Then will the happy period arrive when with gladness we

shall hear the voices of brethren mutually exhorting each

other, and saying, "Let us go into the house of the Lord,"

that he may explain to us his will; that "our feet may

joyfully stand within the gates of Jerusalem;" that in an

ecstasy of delight we may contemplate the Church of Christ,"

as a city that is compact together, whither the tribes go up,

the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel to give

thanks unto the name of the Lord:" that with thanksgiving we

may admire "the thrones of judgment which are set there, the

thrones of the house of David," the thrones of men of

veracity, of princes who in imitation of David's example are

peace makers, and of magistrates who conform themselves to

the similitude of the man after God's own heart. Thus shall

we enjoy the felicity to accost each other in cheerful

converse, and by way of encouragement sweetly to whisper in

the ears of each other, "pray for the peace of the Church

Universal," and in our mutual prayers let us invoke

"prosperity on them that love her;" that with unanimous

voice, from the inmost recesses of our hearts, we may

consecrate to her these votive intercessions and promises.

"Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy

palaces: for our brethren and companions' sakes, we will now

say, peace be within thee! Because of the house of the Lord

our God we will seek thy good." (Psalm 122.) Thus at length

shall it come to pass, that, being anointed with spiritual

delights we shall sing together in jubilant strains, that

most pleasant Song of Degrees, "Behold how good and how

pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," &c.

And, from a sight of the orderly walk and peaceable conduct

of the faithful in the house of God, filled with the hopes of

consummating these acts of pacification in heaven, we may

conclude in these words of the Apostle, "And as many as walk

according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy upon the

Israel of God." (Gal. vi, 16.) Mercy, therefore, and Peace,

be upon the Israel of God. I have concluded.


On predestination, Divine Providence, the freedom of the

will, the grace of God, the Divinity of the Son of God, and

the justification of man before God.

To the noble and most potent the states of Holland and West

Friezland, my Supreme Governor,

my most noble, potent, wise and prudent Lords:

After the conference which, by the command of your

mightinesses, was convened here at the Hague, between Gomarus

and myself, had been held in the presence of four ministers

and under the superintendence of their Lordships the

Counselors of the Supreme Court, the result of that meeting

was reported to your highnesses. Some allusion having been

made in that report to the nature and importance of the

controversy between us, it soon afterward, seemed good to

your highnesses to cite each of us, with those four

ministers, to appear openly before you in your honourable

assembly, and in that public manner to intimate to all of us

whatever you then judged to be expedient. After we had

appeared before Your mightinesses, Gomarus affirmed, "that

the controversy between him and me, was of such immense

importance, that, with the opinions which I professed, he

durst not appear in the presence of his maker." He likewise

asserted, "that, unless some mode of prevention were promptly

devised, the consequence would be, that the various

provinces, churches, and cities of our native land, and even

the citizens themselves, would be placed in a state of mutual

enmity and variance, and would rise up in arms against each

other." To all those allegations I then made no reply, except

"that I certainly was not conscious of entertaining any such

atrocious sentiments in religion, as those of which he had

spoken; and I confidently expressed a hope, that I should

never afford either cause or occasion for schism and

separation, in the Church of God or in our common country."

In confirmation of which, I added, "that I was prepared to

make an open and bona fide declaration of all my sentiments,

views, and designs on every subject connected with religion,

whenever I might receive a summons to appear before this

august assembly, and even prior to my retiring at that time

from your presence." Your highnesses having since deliberated

upon the proposal and offer which I then made, deem it proper

now to summon me before you, for the purpose of redeeming, in

this hall, the pledge which I had previously given. To

fulfill that promise, I now appear in this place, and will

with all due fidelity discharge my duty, whatever it be that

is demanded of me in relation to this affair.

Yet since a sinister report, has for a long time been

industriously and extensively circulated about me, not only

among my own countrymen but also among foreigners, in which

report, I am represented to have hitherto refused, after

frequent solicitations, to make an open profession of my

sentiments on the matter of religion and my designs

concerning it; and since this unfounded rumor has already

operated most injuriously against me, I importunately intreat

to be favoured with your gracious permission to make an

ingenuous and open declaration of all the circumstances which

relate to this business, before I proceed to the discussion

of other topics.

1. Account of a Conference proposed to me, but which I


On the 30th of June, in the year 1605, three Deputies of the

Synod of South Holland came to me at Leyden; they were

Francis Lansbergius, Libertus Fraxinus, and Daniel Dolegius

of pious memory, each of them the minister of their

respective churches at Rotterdam, the Hague, and Delft. Two

members of the Synod of North Holland accompanied them-John

Bogardus, minister of the Church at Haerlem, and James

Rolandus of the Church at Amsterdam. They told me, "they had

heard, that at the regular meetings of certain of their

classes, in the examination to which candidates for holy

orders must submit prior to their admission into the

Christian ministry, some of the students of the University of

Leyden had returned such answers to the questions propounded

to them as were of a novel description and contrary to the

common and received doctrine of the Churches. Those

novelties," it was said, "the young men affirmed to have been

instilled into them while under my tuition." In such a

situation of affairs, they desired me "to engage in a

friendly conference with them, by which they might have it in

their power to perceive if there were any truth in this

charge, and that they might afterwards be the better

qualified to consult the interests of the Church." To these

suggestions I replied, "that I could by no means approve of

the mode of proceeding which they recommended: For such a

course would inevitably subject me to frequent and almost

incessant applications for a friendly interview and

conversation, if any one thought it needful to pester me in

that manner whenever a student made use of a new or uncommon

answer, and in excuse pretended to have learned it from me.

The following therefore appeared to me a plan of greater

wisdom and prudence: As often as a student during his

examination returned any answer, which, according to his

affirmation, had been derived from my instructions, provided

the brethren considered such answer to stand in opposition to

the confession and catechism of the Belgic Churches, they

should immediately confront that student with me; and, for

the sake of investigating such an affair, I was ready to

proceed at my own expense to any town, however distant, which

it might please the brethren to appoint for that purpose. The

obvious consequence of this method would be, that, after it

had been resorted to a few times, it would cause it clearly

and evidently to appear whether the student's assertion were

the truth or only a calumny.

But when Francis Lansbergius, in the name of the rest of his

brethren, continued to urge and solicit a conference I gave

it as a further reason why I could not see the propriety of

entering into a conference with them, that they appeared

before me in the character of deputies, who had afterwards to

render to the Synod an account of all their proceedings; and

that I was not therefore at liberty to accede to their

wishes, unless, not only with the knowledge and consent, but

at the express command of others who were my superiors, and

whom I was equally with them bound to obey. Besides, it would

be connected with no small risk and danger to me, if, in the

relation of the event of our conference which they might

hereafter give to the Synod, I should leave that relation

entirely to their faithfulness and discretion. They had

likewise no cause for demanding any thing of this kind from

me, who was quite unconscious of having propounded a single

doctrine, either at Leyden or Amsterdam, that was contrary to

the word of God or to the Confession and Catechism of the

Churches in the Low Countries. For no such accusation had

ever yet been brought against me by any person; and, I was

confident, no attempt would be made to substantiate against

me a charge of this description, if he who preferred such a

charge were bound at the same time either to establish it by

proofs, or, in failure of his proofs, to confess his

uncharitable offense."

2. An offer on my part, of a conference with these Deputies,

which they refused.

I then told these five gentlemen, "that, notwithstanding all

this, if they would consent to relinquish the title Deputies,

and would each in his own private capacity enter into a

conference with me, I was ready at that very moment to engage

in it." The conditions which I proposed to be mutually

observed by us, were these: (i.) That they should explain

their opinions on every single article and then I would

explain mine; (ii.) They should adduce their proofs, and I

would adduce mine; and (iii.) That they should at last

attempt a refutation of my sentiments and reasons, and I

would in return try to refute theirs. (iv.) If in this manner

either party could afford complete satisfaction to the other,

the result would be agreeable: but, if neither party could

satisfy the other, then no mention of the subjects discussed

in our private conference, or of its unfavourable

termination, should be made in any place or company whatever,

until the whole affair should be referred to a national


But when to this proposition they had given a direct refusal,

we should have separated from each other without further

discourse, had I not requested "that they would offer a

conference in the same manner to Gomarus, as well as to

Trelcatius of pious memory, because it did not appear to me,

that I had given them any cause for making such a demand upon

me, rather than upon either of my two colleagues." At the

same time I enforced my concluding expressions with several

arguments, which it would be too tedious now to repeat in the

presence of your mightinesses. When I had finished, the

deputies replied, "that they would comply with my request,

and would wait on the two other professors of divinity and

make them a similar offer:" and prior to their departure from

Leyden, they called and assured me, that they had in this

particular fulfilled their promise.

This, then, is the first of the many requests that have been

preferred to me. It was the cause of much conversation at the

time when it occurred: For many persons spoke about it. Some

of them related it imperfectly, and in a manner very

different from what were the real circumstances of the whole

transaction; while others suppressed many essential

particulars, and studiously concealed the counter-proposal

which I had tendered to the deputies and the strong reasons

which I produced in its support.

3. Another application is made to me.

A few days afterwards, that is, on the 28th of July in the

same year, 1605, a request of a similar character was

likewise presented to me, in the name of the Presbytery of

the Church of Leyden: but on this condition, that if I

approved of it, other persons, whom such a request equally

concerned, should also be summoned before the same

ecclesiastical tribunal: but if this offer did not receive my

approbation, nothing further should be attempted. But when I

had intimated, that I did not clearly perceive, how this

request could possibly obtain approval from me, and when I

had subjoined my reasons which were of the same description

as those which I had employed on the preceding occasion, my

answer was perfectly satisfactory to Bronchovius the

Burgomaster [of Leyden] and Merula of pious memory, both of

whom had come to me in the name of that Church of which they

were the elders, and they determined to abandon all ulterior

proceedings in that business.

4. The request of the Deputies of the Synod of South Holland

to their Lordships, the ,visitors of the University, and the

answer which they received.

On the ninth of November, in the same year, 1605, the

deputies of the Synod of South Holland, Francis Lansbergius,

Festus Hommius, and their associates, presented nine

questions to their Lordships, the curators of the University

of Leyden; these were accompanied with a petition, "that the

Professors of Divinity might be commanded to answer them."

But the curators replied, "that they could on no account

sanction by their consent the propounding of any questions to

the Professors of Divinity; and if any one supposed that

something was taught in the University contrary to truth and

rectitude, that person had it in his power to refer the

matter of his complaint to a national Synod, which, it was

hoped, would, at the earliest opportunity be convened, when

it would come regularly under the cognizance of that

assembly, and receive the most ample discussion." When this

answer had been delivered, the deputies of the Synod did not

hesitate earnestly to ask it as a particular favour, "that,

by the kind permission of their Lordships, they might

themselves propose those nine questions to the Professors of

Divinity, and might, without troubling their Lordships,

personally inform themselves what answer of his own accord,

and without reluctance, each of those three Divines would

return." But, after all their pleading, they were unable to

obtain the permission which they so strenuously desired. The

whole of this unsuccessful negotiation was conducted in such

a clandestine manner, and so carefully concealed from me,

that I was totally ignorant even of the arrival of those

reverend deputies in our city; yet soon after their

departure, I became acquainted with their mission and its


5. A fourth request of the same kind.

After this, a whole year elapsed before I was again called to

an account about such matters. But I must not omit to

mention, that in the year 1607, a short time before the

meeting of the Synod of South Holland at Delft, John

Bernards, minister of the Church at Delft, Festus Hommius,

minister of Leyden, and Dibbetius of Dort, were deputed by

the Synod to come to me and inquire what progress I had made

in the refutation of the Anabaptists. When I had given them a

suitable reply concerning that affair, which was the cause of

much conversation among us on both sides, and when they were

just on the point of taking their leave, they begged "that I

would not hesitate to reveal to them whatever views and

designs I had formed on the subject of religion, for the

purpose of their being communicated to the Synod, by the

Deputies, for the satisfaction of the brethren." But I

refused to comply with their intreaties, "because the desired

explanation could not be given either conveniently or to

advantage; and I did not know any place in which it was

possible to explain these matters with greater propriety,

than in the national Synod; which, according to the

resolution of their most noble and high mightinesses, the

States General, was expected very shortly to assemble." I

promised "that I would use every exertion that I might be

enabled in that assembly openly to profess the whole of my

sentiments; and that I would employ none of that alleged

concealment or dissimulation about any thing of which they

might then complain." I concluded by saying, "that if I were

to make my profession before them as deputies of the Synod of

South Holland, I could not commit to their fidelity the

relation of what might transpire, because, in matters of this

description, every one was the most competent interpreter of

his own meaning." After these mutual explanations, we parted

from each other.

6. The same request is privately repeated to me, and my

answer to it.

In addition to these different applications, I was privately

desired, by certain ministers, "not to view it as a hardship

to communicate my views and intentions to their colleagues,

the brethren assembled in Synod:" while others intreated me

"to disclose my views to them, that they might have an

opportunity of pondering and examining them by themselves, in

the fear of the Lord," and they gave me an assurance "that

they would not divulge any portion of the desired

communication" To the first of these two classes, I gave in

common my usual answer, "that they had no reason for

demanding such an account from me, rather than from others,

but to one of these ministers, who was not among the last of

the two kinds of applicants, I proposed a conference at three

different times, concerning all the articles of our religion;

in which we might consider and devise the best means that

could possibly be adopted for establishing the truth on the

most solid foundation, and for completely refuting every

species of falsehood. It was also a part of my offer that

such conference should be held in the presence of certain of

the principal men of our country; but he did not accept of

this condition. To the rest of the inquirers, I returned

various answers; in some of which I plainly denied what they

requested of me, and in others, I made some disclosures to

the inquirers. My sole rule in making such a distinction,

was, the more intimate or distant degree of acquaintance

which I had with the parties. In the mean time it frequently

happened, that, a short time after I had thus revealed any

thing in confidence to an individual, it was slanderously

related to others -- how seriously soever he might have

asserted in my presence, that what I had then imparted to him

was, according to his judgment, agreeable to the truth, and

although he had solemnly pledged his honour that he would on

no account divulge it.

7. What occurred relative to the same subject in the

Preparatory Convention.

To these it is also necessary to add a report which has been

spread abroad by means of letters, not only within these

provinces, but far beyond their confines: it is, "that, in

the preparatory convention which was held at the Hague, in

the month of June, 1607, by a company of the brethren who

were convened by a summons from their high mightinesses, the

States General, after I had been asked in a manner the most

friendly to consent to a disclosure, before the brethren then

present, of my views on the subject of the Christian faith, I

refused; and although they promised to endeavour, as far as

it was possible, to give me satisfaction, I still declined to

comply with their wishes." But since I find by experience

that this distorted version of the matter has procured for me

not a few proofs of hatred and ill will from many persons who

think that far more honourable deference ought to have been

evinced by me towards that assembly, which was a convention

of Divines from each of the United Provinces. I perceive a

necessity is thus imposed upon me to commence at the very

origin of this transaction, when I am about to relate the

manner in which it occurred:

Before my departure from Leyden for the convention at the

Hague which has just been mentioned, five articles were put

into my hands, said to have been transmitted to some of the

provinces, to have been perused by certain ministers and

ecclesiastical assemblies, and considered by them as

documents which embraced my sentiments on several points of

religion. Those points of which they pretended to exhibit a

correct delineation, were Predestination, the Fall of Adam,

Free-will, Original Sin, and the Eternal Salvation of

Infants. When I had read the whole of them, I thought that I

plainly perceived, from the style in which they were written,

who was the author of them; and as he was then present,

(being one of the number summoned on that occasion,) I

accosted him on this subject, and embraced that opportunity

freely to intimate to him that I had good reasons for

believing those articles to have been of his composition. He

did not make any attempt to deny the correctness of this

supposition, and replied, ,that they had not been distributed

precisely as my articles, but as those on which the students

at Leyden had held disputations." In answer to this remark, I

told him, "of one thing he must be very conscious, that, by

the mere act of giving circulation to such a document, he

could not avoid creating a grievous and immediate prejudice

against my innocence, and that the same articles would soon

be ascribed to me, as if they had been my composition: when,

in reality," as I then openly affirmed, "they had neither

proceeded from me, nor accorded with my sentiments, and, as

well as I could form a judgment they appeared to me to be at

variance with the word of God."

After he and I had thus discoursed together in the presence

of only two other persons, I deemed it advisable to make some

mention of this affair in the convention itself, at which

certain persons attended who had read those very articles,

and who had, according to their own confession, accounted

them as mine. This plan I accordingly pursued; and just as

the convention was on the point of being dissolved, and after

the account of our proceedings had been signed, and some

individuals had received instructions to give their high

mightinesses the States General a statement of our

transactions, I requested the brethren "not to consider it an

inconvenience to remain a short time together, for I had

something which I was desirous to communicate." They assented

to this proposal, and I told them "that I had received the

five articles which I held in my hand and the tenor of which

I briefly read to them; that I discovered they had been

transmitted by a member of that convention, into different

provinces; that I was positive concerning their distribution

in Zealand and the diocese of Utrecht; and that they had been

read by some ministers in their public meetings, and were

considered to be documents which comprehended my sentiments."

Yet, notwithstanding, I protested to the whole of that

assembly, with a good conscience, and as in the presence of

God, "that those articles were not mine, and did not contain

my sentiments." Twice I repeated this solemn asseveration,

and besought the brethren "not so readily to attach credit to

reports that were circulated concerning me, nor so easily to

listen to any thing that was represented as proceeding from

me or that had been rumored abroad to my manifest injury."

To these observations, a member of that convention answered,

"that it would be well for me, on this account, to signify to

the brethren what portion of those articles obtained my

approbation, and what portion I disavowed, that they might

thus have an opportunity of becoming acquainted in some

degree with my sentiments." Another member urged the same

reasons; to which I replied, "that the convention had not

been appointed to meet for such a purpose, that we had

already been long enough detained together, and that their

high mightinesses, the States General were now waiting for

our determination," in that manner, we separated from each

other, no one attempting any longer to continue the

conversation, neither did all the members of the convention

express a joint concurrence in that request, nor employ any

kind of persuasion with me to prove that such an explanation

was in their judgment quite equitable. Besides, according to

the most correct intelligence which I have since gained, some

of those who were then present, declared afterwards, "that it

was a part of the instructions which had been previously

given to them, not to enter into any conference concerning

doctrine; and that, if a discussion of that kind had arisen,

they must have instantly retired from the convention." These

several circumstances therefore prove that I was very far

from being "solicited by the whole assembly" to engage in the

desired explanation.

8. My reasons for refusing a Conference.

Most noble and potent Lords, this is a true narration of

those interviews and conferences which the brethren have

solicited, and of my continued refusal: from the whole of

which, every person may, in my opinion, clearly perceive that

there is no cause whatever for preferring an accusation

against me on account of my behaviour throughout these

transactions; especially when he considers their request,

with the manner in which it was delivered, and at the same

time my refusal with the reasons for it; but this is still

more obvious from my counter-proposal.

1. Their request, which amounted to a demand upon me for a

declaration on matters of faith, was not supported by any

reasons, as far as I am enabled to form a judgment. For I

never furnished a cause to any man why he should require such

a declaration from me rather than from other people, by my

having taught any thing contrary to the word of God, or to

the Confession and Catechism of the Belgic Churches. At no

period have I ceased to make this avowal, and I repeat it on

this occasion. I am likewise prepared to consent to an

inquiry being instituted into this my profession, either by a

Provincial or a National Synod, that the truth of it may by

that means, be made yet more apparent -- if from such an

examination it may be thought possible to derive any


2. The manner in which their request was delivered, proved of

itself to be a sufficient obstacle, because it was openly

made by a deputation. I was also much injured by the way in

which the Synod prejudged my cause; for we may presume that

it would not through its deputies invite any man to a

conference, unless he had given strong grounds for such an

interview. For this reason I did not consider myself at

liberty to consent to a conference of this description, lest

I should, by that very act, and apparently through a

consciousness of guilt, have confessed that I had taught

something that was wrong or unlawful.

3. The reasons of my refusal were these:

First. Because as I am not subject to the jurisdiction either

of the North Holland Synod or that of South Holland, but have

other superiors to whom I am bound to render an account of

all my concerns, I could not consent to a conference with

deputies, except by the advice of those superiors and at

their express command: especially since a conference of this

kind was not incumbent on me in consequence of the ordinary

discharge of my duty. It was also not obscurely hinted by the

deputies, that the conference, [in 1605,] would by no means

be a private one; but this they discovered in a manner

sufficiently intelligible, when they refused to enter into a

conference with me, divested of their title of "deputies." I

should, therefore, have failed in obedience to my superiors,

if I had not rejected a conference which was in this manner

proposed. I wish the brethren would remember this fact, that

although every one of our ministers is subject as a member to

the jurisdiction of the particular Synod to which he belongs,

yet not one of them has hitherto dared to engage in a

conference, without the advice and permission of the

magistrates under whom he is placed; that no particular

magistrates have ever allowed any minister within their

jurisdiction to undertake a conference with the deputies of

the Churches, unless they had themselves previously granted

their consent; and that it was frequently their wish, to be

present at such conference, in the persons of their own

deputies. Let it be recollected what transpired at Leyden, in

the case of Coolhasius [Koolhaes,] at Gouda with Herman

Herberts, at Horn in the case of Cornelius Wiggeri,

[Wiggerston,] and at Medenblick in the case of Tako,


The second reason by which I was dissuaded from a conference,

is this: I perceived that there would be a great inequality

in the conference which was proposed, when, on the contrary,

it is necessary that the greatest equality should exist

between the parties who are about to confer together on any

subject. For (l.) they came to me armed with public

authority; while, with respect to myself, everything partook

of a private character. And I am not so ignorant in these

matters as not to perceive the powerful support which that

man enjoys who transacts any business under the sanction of

the public authority. (2.) They were themselves three in

number, and had with them two deputies of the Synod of North

Holland. On the other hand, I was alone, and destitute not

only of all assistance, but also of persons who might act as

witnesses of the proceedings that were then to have

commenced, and to whom they as well as myself might have

safely entrusted our several causes. (3.) They were not

persons at their own disposal, but compelled to depend on the

judgment of their superiors; and they were bound most

pertinaciously to contend for those religious sentiments,

which their superiors had within their own minds determined

to maintain. To such a length was this principle extended,

that they were not even left to their own discretion -- to

admit the validity of the argument which I might have

adduced, however cogent and forcible they might have found

them to be, and even if they had been altogether

unanswerable. From these considerations I could not see by

what means both parties could obtain that mutual advantage,

which ought properly to accrue from such a conference. I

might have gained some beneficial result from it; because I

was completely at liberty, and, by employing my own

conscience alone in forming a decision, I could, without

prejudice to any one, have made those admissions which my

conviction of the truth might have dictated to me as correct.

Of what great importance this last circumstance might be,

your Lordships would have most fully discovered by

experience, had any of you been present in the Preparatory

Convention, as the representatives of your own august body.

My third reason is, that the account which they would have

rendered to their superiors after the conference, could not

but have operated in many ways to my injury, whether I had

been absent or present at the time when they delivered their

report. (1.) Had I been absent, it might easily have happened

either through the omission or the addition of certain words,

or through the alteration of others, in regard to their sense

or order, that some fact or argument would be repeated in a

manner very different from that in which it really occurred.

Such an erroneous statement might also have been made, either

through the inconsiderateness which arises from a defect in

the intellect, through the weakness of an imperfect memory,

or through a prejudice of the affections. (2.) And indeed by

my presence, I could with difficulty have avoided or

corrected this inconvenience; because a greater degree of

credit would have been given to their own deputies, than to

me who was only a private individual.

Lastly. By this means I should have conveyed to that

assembly, [the Provincial Synod,] a right and some kind of

prerogative over me; which, in reference to me, it does not

actually possess; and which, consistently with that office

whose duties I discharge, it would not be possible for me to

transfer to the Synod without manifest injustice towards

those persons under whose jurisdiction it has been the

pleasure of the general magistracy of the land to place me.

Imperious necessity, therefore, as well as equity, demanded

of me to reject the terms on which this conference was


4. But however strong my sentiments might be on this subject,

I gave these deputies an opportunity of gaining the

information which they desired. If it had been their wish to

accept the private conference which I proposed, they would

have become possessed of my sentiments on every article of

the Christian Faith. Besides, this conference would have been

much better adapted to promote our mutual edification and

instruction, than a public one could be; because it is

customary in private conferences, for each person to speak

everything with greater familiarity and freedom, than when

all the formalities of deputations are observed, if I may so

express myself. Neither had they the least reason to manifest

any reluctance on this point; because every one of them was

at liberty, (if he chose,) to enter into a private conference

between him and me alone. But when I made this offer to all

and to each of them, I added as one of my most particular

stipulations, that, whatever the discussions might be which

arose between us, they should remain within our bosoms, and

no particle of them should be divulged to any person living.

If on these terms they had consented to hold a conference

with me, I entertain not the smallest doubt that we should

either have given each other complete satisfaction: or we

should at least have made it apparent, that, from our mutual

controversy, no imminent danger could easily arise, to injure

either that truth which is necessary to salvation, piety, or

Christian peace and amity.

9. The complaint concerning my refusal to make a declaration

of my sentiments, does not agree with the rumors concerning

me which are in general circulation.

But omitting all further mention of those transactions, I am

not able entirely to satisfy myself by what contrivance these

two complaints appear consistent with each other. (1.) That I

refuse to make a profession of my sentiments; and yet (2.)

Invectives are poured forth against me, both in foreign

countries and at home, as though I am attempting to introduce

into the Church and into the Christian religion, novel,

impure and false doctrines. If I do not openly profess my

sentiments, from what can their injurious tendency be made

evident? If I do not explain myself, by what method can I be

introducing false doctrines? If they be mere groundless

suspicions that are advanced against me, it is uncharitable

to grant them entertainment, or at least to ascribe to them

such great importance.

But it is cast upon me as a reproach, "that I do certainly

disclose a few of my opinions, but not all of them; and that,

from the few which I thus make known, the object at which I

aim is no longer obscure, but becomes very evident."

In reference to this censure, the great consideration ought

to be, "can any of those sentiments which I am said to have

disclosed, be proved to stand in contradiction either to the

word of God, or the Confession of the Belgic Churches" (1.)

If it be decided, that they are contrary to the Confession,

then I have been engaged in teaching something in opposition

to a document, "against which never to propound any

doctrine," was the faithful promise which I made, when I

signed it with my own hand. If, therefore, I be found thus

criminal, I ought to be visited with merited punishment. (2.)

But if it can be proved, that any of those opinions are

contrary to the word of God, then I ought to experience a

greater degree of blame, and to suffer a severer punishment,

and compelled either to utter a recantation or to resign my

office, especially if those heads of doctrine which I have

uttered, are of such a description as to be notoriously

prejudicial to the honour of God and the salvation of

mankind. (3.) But if those few sentiments which I am accused

of having advanced, are found neither to be at variance with

the word of God nor with the Confession, which I have just

mentioned, then those consequences which are elicited from

them, or seem dependent on them, cannot possibly be

contradictory either to the word of God or to the Belgic

Confession. For, according to the rule of the schoolmen, "if

the consectaries or consequences of any doctrine be false, it

necessarily follows that the doctrine itself is also false,

and vice versa." The one of these two courses, therefore,

ought to have been pursued towards me, either to have

instituted an action against me, or to have given no credit

to those rumors. If I might have my own choice, the latter

course is that which I should have desired; but of the former

I am not at all afraid. For, how extensively soever and in

all directions those Thirty-One Articles which concern me

have been dispersed to my great injury and disparagement, and

though they have been placed in the hands of several men of

great eminence, they afford sufficient internal testimony,

from the want of sense and of other requisites visible in

their very composition, that they are charged upon me through

a total disregard to justice, honour and conscience.

10. The principal reasons why I durst not disclose to the

deputies my opinions on the subject of Religion.

But some person will perhaps say: "for the sake of avoiding

these disturbances, and partly in order by such a measure to

give some satisfaction to a great number of ministers, you

might undoubtedly have made to your brethren an open and

simple declaration of your sentiments on the whole subject of

religion, either for the purpose of being yourself maturely

instructed in more correct principles, or that they might

have been able in an opportune manner to prepare themselves

for a mutual conference."

But I was deterred from adopting that method, on account of

three inconveniences, of which I was afraid:

First,. I was afraid that if I had made a profession of my

sentiments, the consequence would have been, that an inquiry

would be instituted on the part of others, with regard to the

manner in which an action might be framed against me from

those premises. Secondly. Another cause of my fear, was, that

such a statement of my opinions would have furnished matter

for discussion and refutation, in the pulpits of the Churches

and the scholastic exercises of the Universities. Thirdly. I

was also afraid, that my opinions would have been transmitted

to foreign Universities and Churches, in hopes of obtaining

from them a sentence of condemnation, and the means of

oppressing me." That I had very weighty reasons to fear every

one of these consequences together, it would not be difficult

for me clearly to demonstrate from the Thirty-One Articles,

and from the writings of certain individuals.

With respect to "the personal instruction and edification,"

which I might have hoped to derive from such a disclosure, it

is necessary to consider, that not only I but many others,

and even they themselves, have peculiar views which they have

formed on religious topics; and, therefore, that such

instruction cannot be applied to any useful purpose, except

in some place or other where we may all hereafter appear

together, and where a definitive sentence, as it is called,

both may and must be pronounced. With respect to "the

opportune and benefiting preparation which my brethren ought

in the mean time to be making for a conference," I declare

that it will at that time be most seasonable and proper when

all shall have produced their views, and disclosed them

before a whole assembly, that thus an account may be taken of

them all at once, and they may be considered together.

Since none of these objections have any existence in this

august assembly, I proceed to the declaration of my


Having in this manner refuted all those objections which have

been made against me, I will now endeavour to fulfill my

promise, and to execute those commands which your Lordships

have been pleased to lay upon me. I entertain a confident

persuasion, that no prejudice will be created against me or

my sentiments from this act, however imperfectly I may

perform it, because it has its origin in that obedience which

is due from me to this noble assembly, next to God, and

according to the Divine pleasure.


The first and most important article in religion on which I

have to offer my views, and which for many years past has

engaged my attention, is the Predestination of God, that is,

the Election of men to salvation, and the Reprobation of them

to destruction. Commencing with this article, I will first

explain what is taught concerning it, both in discourses and

writings, by certain persons in our Churches, and in the

University of Leyden. I will afterwards declare my own views

and thoughts on the same subject, while I shew my opinion on

what they advance.

On this article there is no uniform and simple opinion among

the teachers of our Churches; but there is some variation in

certain parts of it in which they differ from each other.

1. The first opinion, which I reject, but which is espoused

by those [Supralapsarians] who assume the very highest ground

of this Predestination.

The opinion of those who take the highest ground on this

point, as it is generally contained in their writings, is to

this effect:

"I. God by an eternal and immutable decree has predestinated,

from among men, (whom he did not consider as being then

created, much less as being fallen,) certain individuals to

everlasting life, and others to eternal destruction, without

any regard whatever to righteousness or sin, to obedience or

disobedience, but purely of his own good pleasure, to

demonstrate the glory of his justice and mercy; or, (as

others assert,) to demonstrate his saving grace, wisdom and

free uncontrollable power.

"II. In addition to this decree, God has pre-ordained certain

determinate means which pertain to its execution, and this by

an eternal and immutable decree. These means necessarily

follow by virtue of the preceding decree, and necessarily

bring him who has been predestinated, to the end which has

been fore-ordained for him. Some of these means belong in

common both to the decree of election and that of rejection,

and others of them are specially restricted to the one decree

or to the other.

"III. The means common to both the decrees, are three: the

first is, the creation of man in the upright [or erect] state

of original righteousness, or after the image and likeness of

God in righteousness and true holiness. The second is, the

permission of the fall of Adam, or the ordination of God that

man should sin, and become corrupt or vitiated. The third is,

the loss or the removal of original righteousness and of the

image of God, and a being concluded under sin and


"IV. For unless God had created some men, he would not have

had any upon whom he might either bestow eternal life, or

superinduce everlasting death. Unless he had created them in

righteousness and true holiness, he would himself have been

the author of sin, and would by this means have possessed no

right either to punish them to the praise of his justice, or

to save them to the praise of his mercy. Unless they had

themselves sinned, and by the demerit of sin had rendered

themselves guilty of death, there would have been no room for

the demonstration either of justice or of mercy.

"V. The means pre-ordained for the execution of the decree of

election, are also these three. The first is, the pre-

ordination, or the giving of Jesus Christ as a Mediator and a

saviour, who might by his meet deserve, [or purchase,] for

all the elect and for them only, the lost righteousness and

life, and might communicate them by his own power [Or

virtue]. The second is, the call [or vocation] to faith

outwardly by the word, but inwardly by his Spirit, in the

mind, affections and will; by an operation of such efficacy

that the elect person of necessity yields assent and

obedience to the vocation, in so much that it is not possible

for him to do otherwise than believe and be obedient to this

vocation. From hence arise justification and sanctification

through the blood of Christ and his Spirit, and from them the

existence of all good works. And all that, manifestly by

means of the same force and necessity. The third is, that

which keeps and preserves the elect in faith, holiness, and a

zeal for good works; or, it is the gift of perseverance; the

virtue of which is such, that believing and elect persons not

only do not sin with a full and entire will, or do not fall

away totally from faith and grace, but it likewise is neither

possible for them to sin with a full and perfect will, nor to

fall away totally or finally from faith and grace.

"VI. The two last of these means [vocation and perseverance,]

belong only to the elect who are of adult age. But God

employs a shorter way to salvation, by which he conducts

those children of believers and saints who depart out of this

life before they arrive at years of maturity; that is,

provided they belong to the number of the elect, (who are

known to God alone,) for God bestows on them Christ as their

saviour, and gives them to Christ, to save them by his blood

and Holy Spirit, without actual faith and perseverance in it

[faith]; and this he does according to the promise of the

covenant of grace, I will be a God unto you, and unto your

seed after you.

"VII. The means pertaining to the execution of the decree of

reprobation to eternal death, are partly such as peculiarly

belong to all those who are rejected and reprobate, whether

they ever arrive at years of maturity or die before that

period; and they are partly such as are proper only to some

of them. The mean that is common to all the reprobate, is

desertion in sin, by denying to them that saving grace which

is sufficient and necessary to the salvation of any one. This

negation [or denial,] consists of two parts. For, in the

first place, God did not will that Christ should die for them

[the reprobate,] or become their saviour, and this neither in

reference to the antecedent will of God, (as some persons

call it,) nor in reference to his sufficient will, or the

value of the price of reconciliation; because this price was

not offered for reprobates, either with respect to the decree

of God, or its virtue and efficacy. (1.) But the other part

of this negation [or denial] is, that God is unwilling to

communicate the Spirit of Christ to reprobates, yet without

such communication they can neither be made partakers of

Christ nor of his benefits.

"VIII. The mean which belongs properly only to some of the

reprobates, is obduration, [or the act of hardening,] which

befalls those of them who have attained to years of maturity,

either because they have very frequently and enormously

sinned against the law of God, or because they have rejected

the grace of the gospel. (1.) To the execution of the first

species of induration, or hardening, belong the illumination

of their conscience by means of knowledge, and its conviction

of the righteousness of the law. For it is impossible that

this law should not necessarily detain them in

unrighteousness, to render them inexcusable. (2.) For the

execution of the second species of induration, God employs a

call by the preaching of his gospel, which call is

inefficacious and insufficient both in respect to the decree

of God, and to its issue or event. This calling is either

only an external one, which it is neither in their desire nor

in their power to obey. Or it is likewise an internal one, by

which some of them may be excited in their understandings to

accept and believe the things which they hear; but yet it is

only with such a faith as that with which the devils are

endowed when they believe and tremble. Others of them are

excited and conducted still further, so as to desire in a

certain measure to taste the heavenly gift. But the latter

are, of all others, the most unhappy, because they are raised

up on high, that they may be brought down with a heavier

fall. And this fate it is impossible for them to escape, for

they must of necessity return to their vomit, and depart or

fall away from the faith. "9.

"IX. From this decree of Divine election and reprobation, and

from this administration of the means which pertain to the

execution of both of them, it follows, that the elect are

necessarily saved, it being impossible for them to perish --

and that the reprobate are necessarily damned, it being

impossible for them to be saved; and all this from the

absolute purpose [or determination] of God, which is

altogether antecedent to all things, and to all those causes

which are either in things themselves or can possibly result

from them."

These opinions concerning predestination are considered, by

some of those who advocate them, to be the foundation of

Christianity, salvation and of its certainty. On these

sentiments they suppose, "is founded the sure and undoubted

consolation of all believers, which is capable of rendering

their consciences tranquil; and on them also depends the

praise of the grace of God, so that if any contradiction be

offered to this doctrine, God is necessarily deprived of the

glory of his grace, and then the merit of salvation is

attributed to the free will of man and to his own powers and

strength, which ascription savours of Pelagianism."

These then are the causes which are offered why the advocates

of these sentiments labour with a common anxiety to retain

the purity of such a doctrine in their churches and why they

oppose themselves to all those innovations which are at

variance with them.


But, for my own part, to speak my sentiments with freedom,

and yet with a salvo in favour of a better judgment, I am of

opinion, that this doctrine of theirs contains many things

that are both false and impertinent, and at an utter

disagreement with each other; all the instances of which, the

present time will not permit me to recount, but I will

subject it to an examination only in those parts which are

most prominent and extensive. I shall, therefore, propose to

myself four principal heads, which are of the greatest

importance in this doctrine; and when I have in the first

place explained of what kind they are, I will afterwards

declare more fully the judgment and sentiments which I have

formed concerning them. They are the following:

"I. That God has absolutely and precisely decreed to save

certain particular men by his mercy or grace, but to condemn

others by his justice: and to do all this without having any

regard in such decree to righteousness or sin, obedience or

disobedience, which could possibly exist on the part of one

class of men or of the other.

"II. That, for the execution of the preceding decree, God

determined to create Adam, and all men in him, in an upright

state of original righteousness; besides which he also

ordained them to commit sin, that they might thus become

guilty of eternal condemnation and be deprived of original


"III. That those persons whom God has thus positively willed

to save, he has decreed not only to salvation but also to the

means which pertain to it; (that is, to conduct and bring

them to faith in Christ Jesus, and to perseverance in that

faith ;) and that He also in reality leads them to these

results by a grace and power that are irresistible, so that

it is not possible for them to do otherwise than believe,

persevere in faith, and be saved.

"IV. That to those whom, by his absolute will, God has fore-

ordained to perdition, he has also decreed to deny that grace

which is necessary and sufficient for salvation, and does not

in reality confer it upon them; so that they are neither

placed in a possible condition nor in any capacity of

believing or of being saved."

After a diligent contemplation and examination of these four

heads, in the fear of the Lord, I make the following

declaration respecting this doctrine of predestination.


I. Because it is not the foundation of Christianity, of

Salvation, or of its certainty.

1. It is not the foundation of Christianity: (1.) For this

Predestination is not that decree of God by which Christ is

appointed by God to be the saviour, the Head, and the

Foundation of those who will be made heirs of salvation. Yet

that decree is the only foundation of Christianity. (2.) For

the doctrine of this Predestination is not that doctrine by

which, through faith, we as lively stones are built up into

Christ, the only corner stone, and are inserted into him as

the members of the body are joined to their head.

2. It is not the foundation of Salvation: (1.) For this

Predestination is not that decree of the good pleasure of God

in Christ Jesus on which alone our salvation rests and

depends. (2.) The doctrine of this Predestination is not the

foundation of Salvation: for it is not "the power of God to

salvation to every one that believeth :" because through it

"the righteousness of God" is not "revealed from faith to


3. Nor is it the foundation of the certainty of salvation:

For that is dependent upon this decree, "they who believe,

shall be saved :" I believe, therefore, I shall be saved. But

the doctrine of this Predestination embraces within itself

neither the first nor the second member of the syllogism.

This is likewise confessed by some persons in these words:

"we do not wish to state that the knowledge of this

[Predestination] is the foundation of Christianity or of

salvation, or that it is necessary to salvation in the same

manner as the doctrine of the Gospel," &c.

II. This doctrine of Predestination comprises within it

neither the whole nor any part of the Gospel. For, according

to the tenor of the discourses delivered by John and Christ,

as they are described to us by the Evangelist, and according

to the doctrine of the Apostles and Christ after his

ascension, the Gospel consists partly of an injunction to

repent and believe, and partly of a promise to bestow

forgiveness of sins, the grace of the Spirit, and life

eternal. But this Predestination belongs neither to the

injunction to repent and believe, nor to the annexed promise.

Nay, this doctrine does not even teach what kind of men in

general God has predestinated, which is properly the doctrine

of the Gospel; but it embraces within itself a certain

mystery, which is known only to God, who is the

Predestinater, and in which mystery are comprehended what

particular persons and how many he has decreed to save and to

condemn. From these premises I draw a further conclusion,

that this doctrine of Predestination is not necessary to

salvation, either as an object of knowledge, belief, hope, or

performance. A Confession to this effect has been made by a

certain learned man, in the theses which he has proposed for

discussion on this subject, in the following words:

"Wherefore the gospel cannot be simply termed the book or the

revelation of Predestination, but only in a relative sense.

Because it does not absolutely denote either the matter of

the number or the form; that is, it neither declares how many

persons in particular, nor (with a few exceptions,) who they

are, but only the description of them in general, whom God

has predestinated."

III. This doctrine was never admitted, decreed, or approved

in any Council, either general or particular, for the first

six hundred years after Christ.

1. Not in the General Council of Nice, in which sentence was

given against Arius and in favour of the Deity and

Consubstantiality of the Son of God. Not in the first Council

of Constantinople, in which a decree was passed against

Macedonius, respecting the Deity of the Holy Spirit. Not in

the Council of Ephesus, which determined against Nestorius,

and in favour of the Unity of the Person of the Son of God.

Not in that of Chalcedon, which condemned Eutyches, and

determined, "that in one and the same person of our Lord

Jesus Christ, there were two distinct natures, which differ

from each other in their essence." Not in the second Council

of Constantinople, in which Peter, Bishop of Antioch, and

Anthymus, Bishop of Constantinople, with certain other

persons, were condemned for having asserted "that the Father

had likewise suffered," as well as the Son. Nor in the third

Council of Constantinople, in which the Monothelites were

condemned for having asserted "that there was only one will

and operation in Jesus Christ."

2. But this doctrine was not discussed or confirmed in

particular Councils, such as that of Jerusalem, Orange, or

even that of Mela in Africa, which was held against Pelagius

and his errors, as is apparent from the articles of doctrine

which were then decreed both against his person and his false


But so far was Augustine's doctrine of Predestination from

being received in those councils, that when Celestinus, the

Bishop of Rome, who was his contemporary, wrote to the

Bishops of France, and condemned the doctrines of the

Pelagians, he concluded his epistle in these words: "but as

we dare not despise, so neither do we deem it necessary to

defend the more profound and difficult parts of the questions

which occur in this controversy, and which have been treated

to a very great extent by those who opposed the heretics.

Because we believe, that whatever the writings according to

the forementioned rules of the Apostolic See have taught us,

is amply sufficient for confessing the grace of God, from

whose work, credit and authority not a little must be

subtracted or withdrawn," &c. In reference to the rules which

were laid down by Celestinus in that epistle, and which had

been decreed in the three preceding particular Councils, we

shall experience no difficulty in agreeing together about

them, especially in regard to those matters which are

necessary to the establishment of grace in opposition to

Pelagius and his errors.

IV. None of those Doctors or Divines of the Church who held

correct and orthodox sentiments for the first six hundred

years after the birth of Christ, ever brought this doctrine

forward or gave it their approval. Neither was it professed

and approved by a single individual of those who shewed

themselves the principal and keenest defenders of grace

against Pelagius. Of this description, it is evident, were

St. Jerome, Augustine, the author of the treatise entitled,

De Vocatione Gentium, ["The calling of the Gentiles,"]

Prosper of Aquitaine, Hilary, Fulgentius, and Orosius. This

is very apparent from their writings.

V. It neither agrees nor corresponds with the Harmony of

those confessions which were printed and published together

in one volume at Geneva, in the name of the Reformed and

Protestant Churches. If that harmony of Confessions be

faithfully consulted, it will appear that many of them do not

speak in the same manner concerning Predestination; that some

of them only incidentally mention it; and that they evidently

never once touch upon those heads of the doctrine, which are

now in great repute and particularly urged in the preceding

scheme of Predestination, and which I have already adduced.

Nor does any single Confession deliver this doctrine in the

same manner as it has just now been propounded by me. The

Confessions of Bohemia, England and Wirtemburgh, and the

first Helvetian [Swiss] Confession, and that of the four

cities of Strasburgh, Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau, make

no mention of this Predestination. Those of Basle and Saxony,

only take a very cursory notice of it in three words. The

Augustan Confession speaks of it in such a manner as to

induce the Genevan editors to think, that some annotation was

necessary on their part, to give us a previous warning. The

last of the Helvetian [Swiss] Confessions, to which a great

portion of the Reformed Churches have expressed their assent

and which they have subscribed, likewise speaks of it in such

a strain as makes me very desirous to see what method can

possibly be adopted to give it any accordance with that

doctrine of Predestination which I have just now advanced.

Yet this [Swiss] Confession is that which has obtained the

approbation of the Churches of Geneva and Savoy.

VI. Without the least contention or caviling, it may very

properly be made a question of doubt, whether this doctrine

agrees with the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg

Catechism; as I shall briefly demonstrate.

1. In the 14th Article of the Dutch Confession, these

expression soccur: "Man knowingly and willingly subjected

himself to sin, and, consequently, to death and cursing,

while he lent an ear to the deceiving words and impostures of

the devil," &c. From this sentence I conclude, that man did

not sin on account of any necessity through a preceding

decree of Predestination: which inference is diametrically

opposed to that doctrine of Predestination against which I

now contend. Then, in the 16th Article, which treats of the

eternal election of God, these words are contained: "God

shewed himself Merciful, by delivering from damnation, and by

saving, those persons whom, in his eternal and immutable

counsel and cording to his gratuitous goodness, he chose in

Christ Jesus our Lord, without any regard to their works. And

he shewed himself just, in leaving others in that their fall

and perdition into which they had precipitated themselves."

It is not obvious to me, how these words are consistent with

this doctrine of Predestination.

2. In the 20th question of the Heidelberg Catechism, we read:

"salvation through Christ is not given [restored] to all them

who had perished in Adam, but to those only who are engrafted

into Christ by the faith, and who embrace his benefits." From

this sentence I infer, that God has not absolutely

Predestinated any men to salvation; but that he has in his

decree considered [or looked upon] them as believers. This

deduction is at open conflict with the first and third points

of this Predestination. In the 54th question of the same

Catechism, it is said: "I believe that, from the beginning to

the end of the world, the Son of God out of the entire race

of mankind doth by his word and Spirit gather or collect unto

himself a company chosen unto eternal life and agreeing

together in the true faith." In this sentence "election to

eternal life," and "agreement in the faith," stand in mutual

juxtaposition; and in such a manner, that the latter is not

rendered subordinate to the former, which, according to these

sentiments on Predestination ought to have been done. In that

case the words should have been placed in the following

order: "the son of God calls and gathers to himself, by his

word and Spirit, a company chosen to eternal life, that they

may believe and agree together in the true faith."

Since such are the statements of our Confession and

Catechism, no reason whatever exists, why those who embrace

and defend these sentiments on Predestination, should either

violently endeavour to obtrude them on their colleagues and

on the Church of Christ; or why they should take it amiss,

and put the worst construction upon it, when any thing is

taught in the Church or University that is not exactly

accordant with their doctrine, or that is opposed to it.

VII. I affirm, that this doctrine is repugnant to the Nature

of God, but particularly to those Attributes of his nature by

which he performs and manages all things, his wisdom,

justice, and goodness.

1. It is repugnant to his wisdom in three ways. (1.) Because

it represents God as decreeing something for a particular end

[or purpose] which neither is nor can be good: which is, that

God created something for eternal perdition to the praise of

his justice. (2.) Because it states, that the object which

God proposed to himself by this Predestination, was, to

demonstrate the glory of his mercy and justice: But this

glory he cannot demonstrate, except by an act that is

contrary at once to his mercy and his justice, of which

description is that decree of God in which he determined that

man should sin and be rendered miserable. (3.) Because it

changes and inverts the order of the two-fold wisdom of God,

as it is displayed to us in the Scriptures. For it asserts,

that God has absolutely predetermined to save men by the

mercy and wisdom that are comprehended in the doctrine of the

cross of Christ, without having foreseen this circumstance,

that it was impossible for man (and that, truly, through his

own fault,) to be saved by the wisdom which was revealed in

the law and which was infused into him at the period of his

creation: When the scripture asserts, on the contrary, that

"it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them

that believe;" that is, "by the doctrine of the cross, after

that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God."

(1 Cor. i, 21.)

2. It is repugnant to the justice of God, not only in

reference to that attribute denoting in God a love of

righteousness and a hatred of iniquity, but also in reference

to its being a perpetual and constant desire in him to render

to every one that which is his due. (1.) It is at variance

with the first of these ideas of justice in the following

manner: Because it affirms, that God has absolutely willed to

save certain individual men, and has decreed their salvation

without having the least regard to righteousness or

obedience: The proper inference from which, is, that God

loves such men far more than his own justice [or

righteousness.] (2.) It is opposed to the second idea of his

justice: Because it affirms, that God wishes to subject his

creature to misery, (which cannot possibly have any existence

except as the punishment of sin,) although, at the same time,

he does not look upon [or consider] the creature as a sinner,

and therefore as not obnoxious either to wrath or to

punishment. This is the manner in which it lays down the

position, that God has willed to give to the creature not

only something which does not belong to it, but which is

connected with its greatest injury. Which is another act

directly opposed to his justice. In accordance, therefore,

with this doctrine, God, in the first place, detracts from

himself that which is his own, [or his right,] and then

imparts to the creature what does not belong to it, to its

great misery and unhappiness.

3. It is also repugnant to the Goodness of God. Goodness is

an affection [or disposition] in God to communicate his own

good so far as his justice considers and admits to be fitting

and proper. But in this doctrine the following act is

attributed to God, that, of himself, and induced to it by

nothing external, he wills the greatest evil to his

creatures; and that from all eternity he has pre-ordained

that evil for them, or pre-determined to impart it to them,

even before he resolved to bestow upon them any portion of

good. For this doctrine states, that God willed to damn; and,

that he might be able to do this, be willed to create;

although creation is the first egress [or going forth] of

God's goodness towards his creatures. How vastly different

are such statements as these from that expansive goodness of

God by which he confers benefits not only on the unworthy,

but also on the evil, the unjust and on those who are

deserving of punishment, which trait of Divine beneficence in

our Father who is in heaven, we are commanded to imitate.

(Matt. v, 45.)

VIII. Such a doctrine of Predestination is contrary to the

nature of man, in regard to his having been created after the

Divine image in the knowledge of God and in righteousness, in

regard to his having been created with freedom of will, and

in regard to his having been created with a disposition and

aptitude for the enjoyment of life eternal. These three

circumstance, respecting him, may be deduced from the

following brief expressions: "Do this, and live :" (Rom. x,

5) "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely

die." (Gen. ii, 17.) If man be deprived of any of these

qualifications, such admonitions as these cannot possibly be

effective in exciting him to obedience.

1. This doctrine is inconsistent with the Divine image, which

consists of the knowledge of God and holiness. For according

to this knowledge and righteousness man was qualified and

empowered, he was also laid under an obligation to know God,

to love, worship, and serve him. But by the intervention, or

rather by the prevention, of this Predestination, it was pre-

ordained that man should be formed vicious and should commit

sin, that is, that he should neither know God, love, worship,

nor serve him; and that he should not perform that which by

the image of God, he was well qualified and empowered to do,

and which he was bound to perform. This is tantamount to such

a declaration as the following, which any one might make:

"God did undoubtedly create man after his own image, in

righteousness and true holiness; but, notwithstanding this,

he fore-ordained and decreed, that man should become impure

and unrighteous, that is, should be made conformable to the

image of Satan."

2. This doctrine is inconsistent with the freedom of the

will, in which and with which man was created by God. For it

prevents the exercise of this liberty, by binding or

determining the will absolutely to one object, that is, to do

this thing precisely, or to do that. God, therefore,

according to this statement, may be blamed for the one or the

other of these two things, (with which let no man charge his

Maker!) either for creating man with freedom of will, or for

hindering him in the use of his own liberty after he had

formed him a free agent. In the former of these two cases,

God is chargeable with a want of consideration, in the latter

with mutability. And in both, with being injurious to man as

well as to himself.

3. This Predestination is prejudicial to man in regard to the

inclination and capacity for the eternal fruition of

salvation, with which he was endowed at the period of his

creation. For, since by this Predestination it has been pre-

determined, that the greater part of mankind shall not be

made partakers of salvation, but shall fall into everlasting

condemnation, and since this predetermination took place even

before the decree had passed for creating man, such persons

are deprived of something, for the desire of which they have

been endowed by God with a natural inclination. This great

privation they suffer, not in consequence of any preceding

sin or demerit of their own, but simply and solely through

this sort of Predestination.

IX. This Predestination is diametrically opposed to the Act

of Creation.

1. For creation is a communication of good according to the

intrinsic property of its nature. But, creation of this

description, whose intent or design is, to make a way through

itself by which the reprobation that had been previously

determined may obtain its object, is not a communication of

good. For we ought to form our estimate and judgment of every

good, from the mind and intention of Him who is the Donor,

and from the end to which or on account of which it is

bestowed. In the present instance, the intention of the Donor

would have been, to condemn, which is an act that could not

possibly affect any one except a creature; and the end or

event of creation would have been the eternal perdition of

the creature. In that case creation would not have been a

communication of any good, but a preparation for the greatest

evil both according to the very intention of the Creator and

the actual issue of the matter; and according to the words of

Christ, "it had seen good for that man, if he had never been

born!" (Matt. xxvi, 24.)

2. Reprobation is an act of hatred, and from hatred derives

its origin. But creation does not proceed from hatred; it is

not therefore a way or means, which belongs to the execution

of the decree of reprobation.

3. Creation is a perfect act of God, by which he has

manifested his wisdom, goodness and omnipotence: It is not

therefore subordinate to the end of any other preceding work

or action of God. But it is rather to be viewed as that act

of God, which necessarily precedes and is antecedent to all

other acts that he can possibly either decree or undertake.

Unless God had formed a previous conception of the work of

creation, he could not have decreed actually to undertake any

other act; and until he had executed the work of creation, he

could by no means have completed any other operation.

4. All the actions of God which tend to the condemnation of

his creatures, are strange work or foreign to him; because

God consents to them, for some other cause that is quite

extraneous. But creation is not an action that is foreign to

God, but it is proper to him. It is eminently an action most

appropriate to Him, and to which he could be moved by no

other external cause, because it is the very first of the

Divine acts, and, till it was done, nothing could have any

actual existence, except God himself; for every thing else

that has a being, came into existence through this action.

5. If creation be the way and means through which God willed

the execution of the decree of his reprobation, he was more

inclined to will the act of reprobation than that of

creation; and he consequently derived greater satisfaction

from the act of condemning certain of his innocent creatures,

than in the act of their creation.

6. Lastly. Creation cannot be a way or means of reprobation

according to the absolute purpose of God: because, after the

creation was completed, it was in the power of man still to

have remained obedient to the divine commands, and not to

commit sin; to render this possible, while God had on one

part bestowed on him sufficient strength and power, he had

also on the other placed sufficient impediments; a

circumstance most diametrically opposed to a Predestination

of this description.

X. This doctrine is at open hostility with the Nature of

Eternal Life, and the titles by which it is signally

distinguished in the Scriptures. For it is called "the

inheritance of the sons of God ;" (Tit. iii, 7,) but those

alone are the sons of God, according to the doctrine of the

Gospel, "who believe in the name of Jesus Christ." (John i,

12.) It is also called, "the reward of obedience," (Matt. v,

12,) and of "the labour of love;" (Heb. vi, 10,) "the

recompense of those who fight the good fight and who run

well, a crown of righteousness," &c. (Rev. ii, 10; 2 Tim. iv,

7, 8.) God therefore has not, from his own absolute decree,

without any consideration or regard whatever to faith and

obedience, appointed to any man, or determined to appoint to

him, life eternal.

XI This Predestination is also opposed to the Nature of

Eternal Death, and to those appellations by which it is

described in Scripture. For it is called "the wages of sin;

(Rom. vi, 23,) the punishment of everlasting destruction,

which shall be recompensed to them that know not God, and

that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; (2 Thess.

i, 8, 9,) the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his

angels, (Matt. xxv, 41,) a fire which shall devour the

enemies and adversaries of God." (Heb. x, 27.) God,

therefore, has not, by any absolute decree without respect to

sin and disobedience, prepared eternal death for any person.

XII This Predestination is inconsistent with the Nature and

Properties of Sin in two ways: (1.) Because sin is called

"disobedience" and "rebellion," neither of which terms can

possibly apply to any person who by a preceding divine decree

is placed under an unavoidable necessity of sinning. (2.)

Because sin is the meritorious cause of damnation. But the

meritorious cause which moves the Divine will to reprobate,

is according to justice; and it induces God, who holds sin in

abhorrence, to will reprobation. Sin, therefore, which is a

cause, cannot be placed among the means, by which God

executes the decree or will of reprobation.

XIII. This doctrine is likewise repugnant to the Nature of

Divine Grace, and as far as its powers permit, it effects its

destruction. Under whatever specious pretenses it may be

asserted, that "this kind of Predestination is most admirably

adapted and quite necessary for the establishment of grace,"

yet it destroys it in three ways:

1. Because grace is so attempered and commingled with the

nature of man, as not to destroy within him the liberty of

his will, but to give it a right direction, to correct its

depravity, and to allow man to possess his own proper

notions. While, on the contrary, this Predestination

introduces such a species of grace, as takes away free will

and hinders its exercise.

2. Because the representations of grace which the scriptures

contain, are such as describe it capable of "being resisted,

(Acts, vii, 51,) and received in vain;" (2 Cor. vi, 1,) and

that it is possible for man to avoid yielding his assent to

it; and to refuse all co-operation with it. (Heb. xii, 15;

Matt. xxiii, 37; Luke vii, 30.) While, on the contrary, this

Predestination affirms, that grace is a certain irresistible

force and operation.

3. Because, according to the primary intention and chief

design of God, grace conduces to the good of those persons to

whom it is offered and by whom it is received: while, on the

contrary, this doctrine drags along with it the assertion,

that grace is offered even to certain reprobates, and is so

far communicated to them as to illuminate their

understandings and to excite within them a taste for the

heavenly gifts, only for this end and purpose, that, in

proportion to the height to which they are elevated, the

abyss into which they are precipitated may be the deeper, and

their fall the heavier; and that they may both merit and

receive the greater perdition.

XIV. The doctrine of this Predestination is Injurious to the

Glory of God, which does not consist of a declaration of

liberty or authority, nor of a demonstration of anger and

power, except to such an extent as that declaration and

demonstration may be consistent with justice, and with a

perpetual reservation in behalf of the honour of God's

goodness. But, according to this doctrine, it follows that

God is the author of sin, which may be proved by four


1. One of its positions is, that God has absolutely decreed

to demonstrate his glory by punitive justice and mercy, in

the salvation of some men, and in the damnation of others,

which neither was done, nor could have possibly been done,

unless sin had entered into the world.

2. This doctrine affirms, that, in order to obtain his

object, God ordained that man should commit sin, and be

rendered vitiated; and, from this Divine ordination or

appointment, the fall of man necessarily followed.

3. It asserts that God has denied to man, or has withdrawn

from him, such a portion of grace as is sufficient and

necessary to enable him to avoid sin, and that this was done

before man had sinned: which is an act that amounts to the

same as if God had prescribed a law to man, which it would be

utterly impossible for him to fulfill, when the nature in

which he had been created was taken into consideration.

4. It ascribes to God certain operations with regard to man,

both external and internal, both mediate (by means of the

intervention of other creatures) and immediate -- which

Divine operations being once admitted, man must necessarily

commit sin, by that necessity which the schoolmen call "a

consequential necessity antecedent to the thing itself," and

which totally destroys the freedom of the will. Such an act

does this doctrine attribute to God, and represents it to

proceed from his primary and chief intention, without any

foreknowledge of an inclination, will, or action on the part

of man.

From these premises, we deduce, as a further conclusion, that

God really sins. Because, according to this doctrine, he

moves to sin by an act that is unavoidable, and according to

his own purpose and primary intention, without having

received any previous inducement to such an act from any

preceding sin or demerit in man.

From the same position we might also infer, that God is the

only sinner. For man, who is impelled by an irresistible

force to commit sin, (that is, to perpetrate some deed that

has been prohibited,) cannot be said to sin himself.

As a legitimate consequence it also follows, that sin is not

sin, since whatever that be which God does, it neither can be

sin, nor ought any of his acts to receive that appellation.

Besides the instances which I have already recounted, there

is another method by which this doctrine inflicts a deep

wound on the honour of God -- but these, it is probable, will

be considered at present to be amply sufficient.

XV. This doctrine is highly dishonourable to Jesus Christ our

saviour. For, 1. It entirely excludes him from that decree

of Predestination which predestinates the end: and it

affirms, that men were predestinated to be saved, before

Christ was predestinated to save them; and thus it argues,

that he is not the foundation of election. 2. It denies,

that Christ is the meritorious cause, that again obtained for

us the salvation which we had lost, by placing him as only a

subordinate cause of that salvation which had been already

foreordained, and thus only a minister and instrument to

apply that salvation unto us. This indeed is in evident

congruity with the opinion which states "that God has

absolutely willed the salvation of certain men, by the first

and supreme decree which he passed, and on which all his

other decrees depend and are consequent." If this be true, it

was therefore impossible for the salvation of such men to

have been lost, and therefore unnecessary for it to be

repaired and in some sort regained afresh, and discovered, by

the merit of Christ, who was fore-ordained a saviour for them


XVI. This doctrine is also hurtful to the salvation of men.

1. Because it prevents that saving and godly sorrow for sins

that have been committed, which cannot exist in those who

have no consciousness of sin. But it is obvious, that the man

who has committed sin through the unavoidable necessity of

the decree of God, cannot possibly have this kind of

consciousness of sin. (2 Cor. vii, 10.)

2. Because it removes all pious solicitude about being

converted from sin unto God. For he can feel no such concern

who is entirely passive and conducts himself like a dead man,

with respect not only to his discernment and perception of

the grace of God that is exciting and assisting, but also to

his assent and obedience to it; and who is converted by such

an irresistible impulse, that he not only cannot avoid being

sensible of the grace of God which knocks within him, but he

must likewise of necessity yield his assent to it, and thus

convert himself, or rather be converted. Such a person it is

evident, cannot produce within his heart or conceive in his

mind this solicitude, except he have previously felt the same

irresistible motion. And if he should produce within his

heart any such concern, it would be in vain and without the

least advantage. For that cannot be a true solicitude, which

is not produced in the heart by any other means except by an

irresistible force according to the absolute purpose and

intention of God to effect his salvation. (Rev. ii, 3; iii,


3. Because it restrains, in persons that are converted, all

zeal and studious regard for good works, since it declares

"that the regenerate cannot perform either more or less good

than they do." For he that is actuated or impelled by saving

grace, must work, and cannot discontinue his labour; but he

that is not actuated by the same grace, can do nothing, and

finds it necessary to cease from all attempts. (Tit. iii,


4. Because it extinguishes the zeal for prayer, which yet is

an efficacious means instituted by God for asking and

obtaining all kinds of blessings from him, but principally

the great one of salvation. (Luke xi, 1-13.) But from the

circumstance of it having been before determined by an

immutable and inevitable decree, that this description of men

[the elect] should obtain salvation, prayer cannot on any

account be a means for asking and obtaining that salvation.

It can only be a mode of worshipping God; because according

to the absolute decree of his Predestination he has

determined that such men shall be saved.

5. It takes away all that most salutary fear and trembling

with which we are commanded to work out our own salvation.

(Phil. ii, 12) for it states "that he who is elected and

believes, cannot sin with that full and entire willingness

with which sin is committed by the ungodly; and that they

cannot either totally or finally fall away from faith or


6. Because it produces within men a despair both of

performing that which their duty requires and of obtaining

that towards which their desires are directed. For when they

are taught that the grace of God (which is really necessary

to the performance of the least portion of good) is denied to

the majority of mankind, according to an absolute and

peremptory decree of God -- - and that such grace is denied

because, by a preceding decree equally absolute, God has

determined not to confer salvation on them but damnation;

when they are thus taught, it is scarcely possible for any

other result to ensue, than that the individual who cannot

even with great difficulty work a persuasion within himself

of his being elected, should soon consider himself included

in the number of the reprobate. From such an apprehension as

this, must arise a certain despair of performing

righteousness and obtaining salvation.

XVII. This doctrine inverts the order of the Gospel of Jesus

Christ. For in the Gospel God requires repentance and faith

on the part of man, by promising to him life everlasting, if

he consent to become a convert and a believer. (Mark i, 15;

xvi, 16.) But it is stated in this [Supralapsarian] decree of

Predestination, that it is God's absolute will, to bestow

salvation on certain particular men, and that he willed at

the same time absolutely to give those very individuals

repentance and faith, by means of an irresistible force,

because it was his will and pleasure to save them. In the

Gospel, God denounces eternal death on the impenitent and

unbelieving. (John iii, 36.) And those threats contribute to

the purpose which he has in view, that he may by such means

deter them from unbelief and thus may save them. But by this

decree of Predestination it is taught, that God wills not to

confer on certain individual men that grace which is

necessary for conversion and faith because he has absolutely

decreed their condemnation.

The Gospel says, "God so loved the world that he gave his

only-begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should

have everlasting life." (John iii, 16.)

But this doctrine declares; "that God so loved those whom he

had absolutely elected to eternal life, as to give his son to

them alone, and by an irresistible force to produce within

them faith on him." To embrace the whole in few words, the

Gospel says, "fulfill the command, and thou shalt obtain the

promise; believe, and thou shalt live." But this

[supralapsarian] doctrine says, "since it is my will to give

thee life, it is therefore my will to give thee faith:" which

is a real and most manifest inversion of the Gospel.

XVIII. This Predestination is in open hostility to the

ministry of the Gospel.

1. For if God by an irresistible power quicken him who is

dead in trespasses and sins, no man can be a minister and "a

labourer together with God," (1 Cor. iii, 9,) nor can the

word preached by man be the instrument of grace and of the

Spirit, any more than a creature could have been an

instrument of grace in the first creation, or a dispenser of

that grace in the resurrection of the body from the dead.

2. Because by this Predestination the ministry of the gospel

is made "the savour of death unto death" in the case of the

majority of those who hear it, (2 Cor. ii, 14-16,) as well as

an instrument of condemnation, according to the primary

design and absolute intention of God, without any

consideration of previous rebellion.

3. Because, according to this doctrine, baptism, when

administered to many reprobate children, (who yet are the

offspring of parents that believe and are God's covenant

people,) is evidently a seal [or ratification] of nothing,

and thus becomes entirely useless, in accordance with the

primary and absolute intention of God, without any fault [or

culpability] on the part of the infants themselves, to whom

it is administered in obedience to the Divine command.

4. Because it hinders public prayers from being offered to

God in a becoming and suitable manner, that is, with faith,

and in confidence that they will be profitable to all the

hearers of the word; when there are many among them, whom God

is not only unwilling to save, but whom by his absolute,

eternal, and immutable will, (which is antecedent to all

things and causes whatever,) it is his will and pleasure to

damn: In the mean time, when the apostle commands prayers and

supplications to be made for all men, he adds this reason,

"for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our

saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto

the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. ii, 1-4.)

5. The constitution of this doctrine is such, as very easily

to render pastors and teachers slothful and negligent in the

exercise of their ministry: Because, from this doctrine it

appears to them as though it were impossible for all their

diligence to be useful to any persons, except to those only

whom God absolutely and precisely wills to save, and who

cannot possibly perish; and as though all their negligence

could be hurtful to none, except to those alone whom God

absolutely wills to destroy, who must of necessity perish,

and to whom a contrary fate is impossible.

XIX. This doctrine completely subverts the foundation of

religion in general, and of the Christian Religion in


1. The foundation of religion considered in general, is a

two-fold love of God; without which there neither is nor can

be any religion: The first of them is a love for

righteousness [or justice] which gives existence to his

hatred of sin. The second is a love for the creature who is

endowed with reason, and (in the matter now before us,) it is

a love for man, according to the expression of the Apostle to

the Hebrews. "for he that cometh to God must believe that he

is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek

Him." (xi, 6.) God's love of righteousness is manifested by

this circumstance, that it is not his will and pleasure to

bestow eternal life on any except on "those who seek him."

God's love of man consists in his being willing to give him

eternal life, if he seek Him.

A mutual relation subsists between these two kinds of love,

which is this. The latter species of love, which extends

itself to the creatures, cannot come into exercise, except so

far as it is permitted by the former, [the love of

righteousness]: The former love, therefore, is by far the

most excellent species; but in every direction there is

abundant scope for the emanations of the latter, [the love of

the creature,] except where the former [the love of

righteousness] has placed some impediment in the range of its

exercise. The first of these consequences is most evidently

proved from the circumstance of God's condemning man on

account of sin, although he loves him in the relation in

which he stands as his creature; which would by no means have

been done, had he loved man more than righteousness, [or

justice,] and had he evinced a stronger aversion to the

eternal misery of man than to his disobedience. But the

second consequence is proved by this argument, that God

condemns no person, except on account of sin; and that he

saves such a multitude of men who turn themselves away [or

are converted] from sin; which he could not do, unless it was

his will to allow as abundant scope to his love for the

creatures, as is permitted by righteousness [or justice]

under the regulation of the Divine judgment.

But this [Supralapsarian] doctrine inverts this order and

mutual relation in two ways: (1.) The one is when it states,

that God wills absolutely to save certain particular men,

without having had in that his intention the least reference

or regard to their obedience. This is the manner in which it

places the love of God to man before his love of

righteousness, and lays down the position -- that God loves

men (as such) more than righteousness, and evinces a stronger

aversion to their misery than to their sin and disobedience.

(2.) The other is when it asserts, on the contrary, that God

wills absolutely to damn certain particular men without

manifesting in his decree any consideration of their

disobedience. In this manner it detracts from his love to the

creature that which belongs to it; while it teaches, that God

hates the creature, without any cause or necessity derived

from his love of righteousness and his hatred of iniquity. In

which case, it is not true, "that sin is the primary object

of God's hatred, and its only meritorious cause."

The great influence and potency which this consideration

possesses in subverting the foundation of religion, may be

appropriately described by the following simile: Suppose a

son to say, "My father is such a great lover of righteousness

and equity, that, notwithstanding I am his beloved son, he

would disinherit me if I were found disobedient to him.

Obedience, therefore, is a duty which I must sedulously

cultivate, and which is highly incumbent upon me, if I wish

to be his heir." Suppose another son to say: "My father's

love for me is so great, that he is absolutely resolved to

make me his heir. There is, therefore, no necessity for my

earnestly striving to yield him obedience; for, according to

his unchangeable will, I shall become his heir. Nay, he will

by an irresistible force draw me to obey him, rather than not

suffer me to be made his heir." But such reasoning as the

latter is diametrically opposed to the doctrine contained in

the following words of John the Baptist: "And think not to

say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: For I

say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up

children unto Abraham." (Matt. iii, 9.)

2. But the Christian religion also has its superstructure

built upon this two-fold love as a foundation. This love,

however, is to be considered in a manner somewhat different,

in consequence of the change in the condition of man, who,

when he had been created after the image of God and in his

favour, became by his own fault a sinner and an enemy to God.

(1.) God's love of righteousness [or justice] on which the

Christian religion rests, is, first, that righteousness which

he declared only once, which was in Christ; because it was

his will that sin should not be expiated in any other way

than by the blood and death of his Son, and that Christ

should not be admitted before him as an Advocate, Deprecator

and Intercessor, except when sprinkled by his own blood. But

this love of righteousness is, secondly, that which he daily

manifests in the preaching of the gospel, in which he

declares it to be his will to grant a communication of Christ

and his benefits to no man, except to him who becomes

converted and believes in Christ. (2.) God's love of

miserable sinners, on which likewise the Christian religion

is founded, is, first, that love by which he gave his Son for

them, and constituted him a saviour of those who obey him.

But this love of sinners is, secondly, that by which he hath

required obedience, not according to the rigor and severity

to which he was entitled by his own supreme right, but

according to his grace and clemency, and with the addition of

a promise of the remission of sins, provided fallen man


The [supralapsarian] doctrine of Predestination is, in two

ways, opposed to this two-fold foundation: first, by stating,

"that God has such a great love for certain sinners, that it

was his will absolutely to save them before he had given

satisfaction, through Christ Jesus, to his love of

righteousness, [or justice,] and that he thus willed their

salvation even in his own fore-knowledge and according to his

determinate purpose." Besides, it totally and most completely

overturns this foundation, by teaching it to be "God's

pleasure, that satisfaction should be paid to his justice,

[or righteousness,] because he willed absolutely to save such

persons:" which is nothing less, than to make his love for

justice, manifested in Christ, subordinate to his love for

sinful man whom it is his will absolutely to save. Secondly.

It opposes itself to this foundation, by teaching, "that it

is the will of God absolutely to damn certain sinners without

any consideration of their impenitency;" when at the same

time a most plenary and complete satisfaction had been

rendered, in Christ Jesus, to God's love of righteousness [or

justice] and to his hatred of sin. So that nothing now can

hinder the possibility of his extending mercy to the sinner,

whosoever he may be, except the condition of repentance.

Unless some person should choose to assert, what is stated in

this doctrine, "that it has been God's will to act towards

the greater part of mankind with the same severity as he

exercised towards the devil and his angels, or even with

greater, since it was his pleasure that neither Christ nor

his gospel should be productive of greater blessings to them

than to the devils, and since, according to the first

offense, the door of grace is as much closed against them as

it is against the evil angels." Yet each of those angels

sinned, by himself in his own proper person, through his

individual maliciousness, and by his voluntary act; while men

sinned, only in Adam their parent, before they had been

brought into existence.

But, that we may more clearly understand the fact of this

two-fold love being the foundation of all religion and the

manner in which it is so, with the mutual correspondence that

subsists between each other, as we have already described

them, it will be profitable for us to contemplate with

greater attention the following words of the Apostle to the

Hebrews: "He that cometh to God, must believe that He is and

that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." In

these words two things are laid down as foundations to

religion, in opposition to two fiery darts of Satan, which

are the most pernicious pests to it, and each of which is

able by itself to overturn and extirpate all religion. One of

them is security, the other despair. Security operates, when

a man permits himself, that, how inattentive soever he may be

to the worship of God, he will not be damned, but will obtain

salvation. Despair is in operation, when a person entertains

a persuasion, that, whatever degree of reverence he may

evince towards God, he will not receive any remuneration. In

what human mind soever either of these pests is fostered, it

is impossible that any true and proper worship of God can

there reside. Now both of them are overturned by the words of

the Apostle: For if a man firmly believes, "that God will

bestow eternal life on those alone who seek Him, but that He

will inflict on the rest death eternal," he can on no account

indulge himself in security. And if he likewise believes,

that "God is truly a rewarder of those who diligently seek

Him," by applying himself to the search he will not be in

danger of falling into despair. The foundation of the former

kind of faith by which a man firmly believes, "that God will

bestow eternal life on none except on those who seek Him," is

that love which God bears to his own righteousness, [or

justice,] and which is greater than that which he entertains

for man. And, by this alone, all cause of security is

removed. But the foundation of the latter kind of faith,

"that God will undoubtedly be a rewarder of those who

diligently seek Him," is that great love for man which

neither will nor can prevent God from effecting salvation for

him, except he be hindered by his still greater love for

righteousness or justice. Yet the latter kind of love is so

far from operating as a hindrance to God from becoming a

rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, that on the

contrary, it promotes in every possible way the bestowment of

that reward. Those persons, therefore, who seek God, can by

no means indulge in a single doubt concerning his readiness

to remunerate. And it is this which acts as a preservative

against despair or distrust. Since this is the actual state

of the case, this two-fold love, and the mutual relation

which each part of it bears to the other and which we have

just unfolded, are the foundations of religion, without which

no religion can possibly exist. That doctrine, therefore,

which is in open hostility to this mutual love and to the

relation that mutually subsists between them, is, at the same

time, subversive of the foundation of all religion.

XX. Lastly. This doctrine of Predestination has been rejected

both in former times and in our own days, by the greater part

of the professors of Christianity.

1. But, omitting all mention of the periods that occurred in

former ages, facts themselves declare, that the Lutheran and

Anabaptist Churches, as well as that of Rome, account this to

be an erroneous doctrine.

2. However highly Luther and Melancthon might at the very

commencement of the reformation, have approved of this

doctrine, they afterwards deserted it. This change in

Melancthon is quite apparent from his latter writings: And

those who style themselves "Luther's disciples," make the

same statement respecting their master, while they contend

that on this subject he made a more distinct and copious

declaration of his sentiments, instead of entirely abandoning

those which he formerly entertained. But Philip Melancthon

believed that this doctrine did not differ greatly from the

fate of the Stoics: This appears from many of his writings,

but more particularly in a certain letter which he addressed

to Gasper Peucer, and in which, among other things, he

states: "Lælius writes to me and says, that the controversy

respecting the Stoical Fate is agitated with such uncommon

fervour at Geneva, that one individual is cast into prison

because he happened to differ from Zeno. O unhappy times!

When the doctrine of salvation is thus obscured by certain

strange disputes!"

3. All the Danish Churches embrace a doctrine quite opposed

to this, as is obvious from the writings of Nicholas

Hemmingius in his treatise on Universal Grace, in which he

declares that the contest between him and his adversaries

consisted in the determination of these two points: "do the

Elect believe ," or, "are believers the true elect?" He

considers "those persons who maintain the former position, to

hold sentiments agreeable to the doctrine of the Manichees

and Stoics; and those who maintain the latter point, are in

obvious agreement with Moses and the Prophets, with Christ

and his Apostles."

4. Besides, by many of the inhabitants of these our own

provinces, this doctrine is accounted a grievance of such a

nature, as to cause several of them to affirm, that on

account of it, they neither can nor will have any communion

with our Church. Others of them have united themselves with

our Churches, but not without entering a protest, "that they

cannot possibly give their consent to this doctrine." But, on

account of this kind of Predestination, our Churches have

been deserted by not a few individuals, who formerly held the

same opinions as ourselves: Others, also, have threatened to

depart from us, unless they be fully assured that the Church

holds no opinion of this description.

5. There is likewise no point of doctrine which the Papists,

Anabaptists, and Lutherans oppose with greater vehemence than

this, and through whose sides they create a worse opinion of

our Churches or procure for them a greater portion of hatred,

and thus bring into disrepute all the doctrines which we

profess. They likewise affirm "that of all the blasphemies

against God which the mind of man can conceive or his tongue

can express, there is none so foul as not to be deduced by

fair consequence from this opinion of our doctors."

6. Lastly. Of all the difficulties and controversies which

have arisen in these our Churches since the time of the

Reformation, there is none that has not had its origin in

this doctrine, or that has not, at least, been mixed with it.

What I have here said will be found true, if we bring to our

recollection the controversies which existed at Leyden in the

affair of Koolhaes, at Gouda in that of Herman Herberts, at

Horn with respect to Cornelius Wiggerston, and at Mendenblich

in the affair of Tako Sybrants. This consideration was not

among the last of those motives which induced me to give my

most diligent attention to this head of doctrine, and

endeavour to prevent our Churches from suffering any

detriment from it; because, from it, the Papists have derived

much of their increase. While all pious teachers ought most

heartily to desire the destruction of Popery, as they would

that of the kingdom of Antichrist, they ought with the

greatest zeal, to engage in the attempt, and as far as it is

within their power, to make the most efficient preparations

for its overthrow.

The preceding views are, in brief, those which I hold

respecting this novel doctrine of Predestination. I have

propounded it with all good faith from the very expressions

of the authors themselves, that I might not seem to invent

and attribute to them any thing which I was not able clearly

to prove from their writings.


But some other of our doctors state the subject of God's

Predestination in a manner somewhat different. We will

cursorily touch upon the two modes which they employ. Among

some of them the following opinion is prevalent:

1. God determined within himself, by an eternal and immutable

decree, to make (according to his own good pleasure,) the

smaller portion out of the general mass of mankind partakers

of his grace and glory, to the praise of his own glorious

grace. But according to his pleasure he also passed by the

greater portion of men, and left them in their own nature,

which is incapable of every thing supernatural, [or beyond

itself,] and did not communicate to them that saving and

supernatural grace by which their nature, (if it still

retained its integrity,) might be strengthened, or by which,

if it were corrupted, it might be restored -- for a

demonstration of his own liberty. Yet after God had made

these men sinners and guilty of death, he punished them with

death eternal -- for a demonstration of his own justice.

2. Predestination is to be considered in respect to its end

and to the means which tend to it. But these persons employ

the word "Predestination" in its special acceptation for

election and oppose it to reprobation. (1.) In respect to its

end, (which is salvation, and an illustration of the glorious

grace of God,) man is considered in common and absolutely,

such as he is in his own nature. (2.) But in respect to the

means, man is considered as perishing from himself and in

himself, and as guilty in Adam.

3. In the decree concerning the end, the following gradations

are to be regarded. (1.) The prescience of God, by which he

foreknew those whom he had predestinated. Then (2.) The

Divine prefinition, [or predetermination,] by which he

foreordained the salvation of those persons by whom he had

foreknown. First, by electing them from all eternity: and

secondly, by preparing for them grace in this life, and glory

in the world to come.

4. The means which belong to the execution of this

Predestination, are (1.) Christ himself: (2.) An efficacious

call to faith in Christ, from which justification takes its

origin: (3.) The gift of perseverance unto the end.

5. As far as we are capable of comprehending their scheme of

reprobation it consists of two acts, that of preterition and

that of predamnatian. It is antecedent to all things, and to

all causes which are either in the things themselves or which

arise out of them; that is, it has no regard whatever to any

sin, and only views man in an absolute and general aspect.

6. Two means are fore-ordained for the execution of the act

of preterition: (1.) Dereliction [or abandoning] in a state

of nature, which by itself is incapable of every thing

supernatural: and (2.) Non-communication [or a negation] of

supernatural grace, by which their nature (if in a state of

integrity,) might be strengthened, and (if in a state of

corruption,) might be restored.

7. Predamnation is antecedent to all things, yet it does by

no means exist without a fore-knowledge of the causes of

damnation. It views man as a sinner, obnoxious to damnation

in Adam, and as on this account perishing through the

necessity of Divine justice.

8. The means ordained for the execution of this predamnation,

are (1.) Just desertion, which is either that of exploration,

[or examination,] in which God does not confer his grace, or

that of punishment when God takes away from a man all his

saving gifts, and delivers him over to the power of Satan.

(2.) The second means are induration or hardening, and those

consequences which usually follow even to the real damnation

of the person reprobated.


But others among our doctors state their sentiments on this

subject in the following manner:

1. Because God willed within himself from all eternity to

make a decree by which he might elect certain men and

reprobate the rest, he viewed and considered the human race

not only as created but likewise as fallen or corrupt, and on

that account obnoxious to cursing and malediction. Out of

this lapsed and accursed state God determined to liberate

certain individuals and freely to save them by his grace, for

a declaration of his mercy; but he resolved in his own just

judgment to leave the rest under the curse [or malediction]

for a declaration of his justice. In both these cases God

acts without the least consideration of repentance and faith

in those whom he elects, or of impenitence and unbelief in

those whom he reprobates.

2. The special means which relate particularly to the

execution both of election and reprobation, are the very same

as those which we have already expounded in the first of

these kinds of Predestination, with the exception of those

means which are common both to election and reprobation;

because this [third] opinion places the fall of man, not as a

means fore-ordained for the execution of the preceding decree

of Predestination, but as something that might furnish a

fixed purpose or occasion for making this decree of




Both these opinions, as they outwardly pretend, differ from

the first in this point -- that neither of them lays down the

creation or the fall as a mediate cause fore-ordained by God

for the execution of the preceding decree of Predestination.

Yet, with regard to the fall, some diversity may be perceived

in the two latter opinions. For the second kind of

Predestination places election, with regard to the end,

before the fall; it also places before that event

preterition, [or passing by,] which is the first part of

reprobation. While the third kind does not allow any part of

election and reprobation to commence till after the fall of

man. But, among the causes which seem to have induced the

inventors of the two latter schemes to deliver the doctrine

of Predestination in this manner, and not to ascend to such a

great height as the inventors of the first scheme have done,

this is not the least -- that they have been desirous of

using the greatest precaution, lest it might be concluded

from their doctrine that God is the author of sin, with as

much show of probability as, (according to the intimation of

some of those who yield their assent to both the latter

kinds,) it is deducible from the first description of


Yet if we be willing to inspect these two latter opinions a

little more closely, and in particular if we accurately

examine the second and third kind and compare them with other

sentiments of the same author concerning some subjects of our

religion, we shall discover, that the fall of Adam cannot

possibly, according to their views, be considered in any

other manner than as a necessary means for the execution of

the preceding decree of Predestination.

1. In reference to the second of the three, this is apparent

from two reasons comprised in it:

The first of these reasons is that which states God to have

determined by the decree of reprobation to deny to man that

grace which was necessary for the confirmation and

strengthening of his nature, that it might not be corrupted

by sin; which amounts to this, that God decreed not to bestow

that grace which was necessary to avoid sin; and from this

must necessarily follow the transgression of man, as

proceeding from a law imposed on him. The fall of man is

therefore a means ordained for the execution of the decree of


The second of these reasons is that which states the two

parts of reprobation to be preterition and predamnation.

These two parts, according to that decree, are connected

together by a necessary and mutual bond, and are equally

extensive. For, all those whom God passed by in conferring

Divine grace, are likewise damned. Indeed no others are

damned, except those who are the subjects of this act of

preterition. From this therefore it may be concluded, that

"sin must necessarily follow from the decree of reprobation

or preterition, because, if it were otherwise, it might

possibly happen, that a person who had been passed by, might

not commit sin, and from that circumstance might not become

liable to damnation; since sin is the sole meritorious cause

of damnation: and thus certain of those individuals who had

been passed by, might neither be saved nor damned -- which is

great absurdity.

This second opinion on Predestination, therefore, falls into

the same inconvenience as the first. For it not only does not

avoid that [conclusion of making God the author of sin,] but

while those who profess it make the attempt, they fall into a

palpable and absurd self-contradiction -- while, in reference

to this point, the first of these opinions is alike

throughout and consistent with itself.

2. The third of these schemes of Predestination would escape

this rock to much better effect, did not the patrons of it,

while declaring their sentiments on Predestination and

providence, employ certain expressions, from which the

necessity of the fall might be deduced. Yet this necessity

cannot possibly have any other origin than some degree of


(1.) One of these explanatory expressions is their

description of the Divine permission, by which God permits

sin. Some of them describe it thus: "permission is the

withdrawing of that Divine grace, by which, when God executes

the decrees of his will through rational creatures, he either

does not reveal to the creature that divine will of his own

by which he wills that action to be performed, or does not

bend the will of the creature to yield obedience in that act

to the Divine will." To these expressions, the following are

immediately subjoined: "if this be a correct statement, the

creature commits sin through necessity, yet voluntarily and

without restraint." If it be objected that "this description

does not comport with that permission by which God permitted

the sin of Adam:" We also entertain the same opinion about

it. Yet it follows, as a consequence, from this very

description, that "other sins are committed through


(2.) Of a similar tendency are the expressions which some of

them use, when they contend, that the declaration of the

glory of God, which must necessarily be illustrated, is

placed in "the demonstration of mercy and of punitive

justice." But such a demonstration could not have been made,

unless sin, and misery through sin, had entered into the

world, to form at least some degree of misery for the least

sin. And in this manner is sin also necessarily introduced,

through the necessity of such a demonstration of the Divine

glory. Since the fall of Adam is already laid down to be

necessary, and, on that account, to be a means for executing

the preceding decree of Predestination; creation itself is

likewise at the same time laid down as a means subservient to

the execution of the same decree. For the fall cannot be

necessarily consequent upon the creation, except through the

decree of Predestination, which cannot be placed between the

creation and the fall, but is prefixed to both of them, as

having the precedence, and ordaining creation for the fall,

and both of them for executing one and the same decree -- to

demonstrate the justice of God in the punishment of sin, and

his mercy in its remission. Because, if this were not the

case, that which must necessarily ensue from the act of

creation had not seen intended by God when he created, which

is to suppose an impossibility.

But let it be granted, that the necessity of the fall of Adam

cannot be deduced from either of the two latter opinions, yet

all the preceding arguments which have been produced against

the first opinion, are, after a trifling modification to suit

the varied purpose, equally valid against the two latter.

This would be very apparent, if, to demonstrate it, a

conference were to be instituted.


I have hitherto been stating those opinions concerning the

article of Predestination which are inculcated in our

Churches and in the University of Leyden, and of which I

disapprove. I have at the same time produced my own reasons,

why I form such an unfavourable judgment concerning them; and

I will now declare my own opinions on this subject, which are

of such a description as, according to my views, appear most

conformable to the word of God.

I. The first absolute decree of God concerning the salvation

of sinful man, is that by which he decreed to appoint his

Son, Jesus Christ, for a Mediator, Redeemer, saviour, Priest

and King, who might destroy sin by his own death, might by

his obedience obtain the salvation which had been lost, and

might communicate it by his own virtue.

II. The second precise and absolute decree of God, is that in

which he decreed to receive into favour those who repent and

believe, and, in Christ, for his sake and through Him, to

effect the salvation of such penitents and believers as

persevered to the end; but to leave in sin, and under wrath,

all impenitent persons and unbelievers, and to damn them as

aliens from Christ.

III. The third Divine decree is that by which God decreed to

administer in a sufficient and efficacious manner the means

which were necessary for repentance and faith; and to have

such administration instituted (1.) according to the Divine

Wisdom, by which God knows what is proper and becoming both

to his mercy and his severity, and (2.) according to Divine

Justice, by which He is prepared to adopt whatever his wisdom

may prescribe and put it in execution.

IV. To these succeeds the fourth decree, by which God decreed

to save and damn certain particular persons. This decree has

its foundation in the foreknowledge of God, by which he knew

from all eternity those individuals who would, through his

preventing grace, believe, and, through his subsequent grace

would persevere, according to the before described

administration of those means which are suitable and proper

for conversion and faith; and, by which foreknowledge, he

likewise knew those who would not believe and persevere.

Predestination, when thus explained, is

1. The foundation of Christianity, and of salvation and its


2. It is the sum and the matter of the gospel; nay, it is the

gospel itself, and on that account necessary to be believed

in order to salvation, as far as the two first articles are


3. It has had no need of being examined or determined by any

council, either general or particular, since it is contained

in the scriptures clearly and expressly in so many words; and

no contradiction has ever yet been offered to it by any

orthodox Divine.

4. It has constantly been acknowledged and taught by all

Christian teachers who held correct and orthodox sentiments.

5. It agrees with that harmony of all confessions, which has

been published by the protestant Churches.

6. It likewise agrees most excellently with the Dutch

Confession and Catechism. This concord is such, that if in

the Sixteenth article these two expressions "those persons

whom" and "others," be explained by the words "believers" and

"unbelievers" these opinions of mine on Predestination will

be comprehended in that article with the greatest clearness.

This is the reason why I directed the thesis to be composed

in the very words of the Confession, when, on one occasion, I

had to hold a public disputation before my private class in

the University. This kind of Predestination also agrees with

the reasoning contained in the twentieth and the fifty-fourth

question of the Catechism.

7. It is also in excellent accordance with the nature of God

-- with his wisdom, goodness, and righteousness; because it

contains the principal matter of all of them, and is the

clearest demonstration of the Divine wisdom, goodness, and

righteousness [or justice]

8. It is agreeable in every point with the nature of man --

in what form soever that nature may be contemplated, whether

in the primitive state of creation, in that of the fall, or

in that of restoration.

9. It is in complete concert with the act of creation, by

affirming that the creation itself is a real communication of

good, both from the intention of God, and with regard to the

very end or event; that it had its origin in the goodness of

God; that whatever has a reference to its continuance and

preservation, proceeds from Divine love; and that this act of

creation is a perfect and appropriate work of God, in which

he is at complaisance with himself, and by which he obtained

all things necessary for an unsinning state.

10. It agrees with the nature of life eternal, and with the

honourable titles by which that life is designated in the


11. It also agrees with the nature of death eternal, and with

the names by which that death is distinguished in scripture.

12. It states sin to be a real disobedience, and the

meritorious cause of condemnation; and on this account, it is

in the most perfect agreement with the fall and with sin.

13. In every particular, it harmonizes with the nature of

grace, by ascribing to it all those things which agree with

it, [or adapted to it,] and by reconciling it most completely

to the righteousness of God and to the nature and liberty of

the human will.

14. It conduces most conspicuously to declare the glory of

God, his justice and his mercy. It also represents God as the

cause of all good and of our salvation, and man as the cause

of sin and of his own damnation.

15. It contributes to the honour of Jesus Christ, by placing

him for the foundation of Predestination and the meritorious

as well as communicative cause of salvation.

16. It greatly promotes the salvation of men: It is also the

power, and the very means which lead to salvation -- by

exciting and creating within the mind of man sorrow on

account of sin, a solicitude about his conversion, faith in

Jesus Christ, a studious desire to perform good works, and

zeal in prayer -- and by causing men to work out their

salvation with fear and trembling. It likewise prevents

despair, as far as such prevention is necessary.

17. It confirms and establishes that order according to which

the gospel ought to be preached, (1.) By requiring repentance

and faith -- (2.) And then by promising remission of sins,

the grace of the spirit, and life eternal.

18. It strengthens the ministry of the gospel, and renders it

profitable with respect to preaching, the administration of

the sacraments and public prayers.

19. It is the foundation of the Christian religion; because

in it, the two-fold love of God may be united together --

God's love of righteousness [or justice], and his love of

men, may, with the greatest consistency, be reconciled to

each other.

20. Lastly. This doctrine of Predestination, has always been

approved by the great majority of professing Christians, and

even now, in these days, it enjoys the same extensive

patronage. It cannot afford any person just cause for

expressing his aversion to it; nor can it give any pretext

for contention in the Christian Church.

It is therefore much to be desired, that men would proceed no

further in this matter, and would not attempt to investigate

the unsearchable judgments of God -- at least that they would

not proceed beyond the point at which those judgments have

been clearly revealed in the scriptures.

This, my most potent Lords, is all that I intend now to

declare to your mightinesses, respecting the doctrine of

Predestination, about which there exists such a great

controversy in the Church of Christ. If it would not prove

too tedious to your Lordships, I have some other propositions

which I could wish to state, because they contribute to a

full declaration of my sentiments, and tend to the same

purpose as that for which I have been ordered to attend in

this place by your mightinesses.

There are certain other articles of the Christian religion,

which possess a close affinity to the doctrine of

Predestination, and which are in a great measure dependent on

it: Of this description are the providence of God, the free-

will of man, the perseverance of saints, and the certainty of

salvation. On these topics, if not disagreeable to your

mightinesses, I will in a brief manner relate my opinion.


I consider Divine Providence to be "that solicitous,

continued, and universally present inspection and oversight

of God, according to which he exercises a general care over

the whole world, but evinces a particular concern for all his

[intelligent] creatures without any exception, with the

design of preserving and governing them in their own essence,

qualities, actions, and passions, in a manner that is at once

worthy of himself and suitable to them, to the praise of his

name and the salvation of believers. In this definition of

Divine Providence, I by no means deprive it of any particle

of those properties which agree with it or belong to it; but

I declare that it preserves, regulates, governs and directs

all things and that nothing in the world happens fortuitously

or by chance. Beside this, I place in subjection to Divine

Providence both the free-will and even the actions of a

rational creature, so that nothing can be done without the

will of God, not even any of those things which are done in

opposition to it; only we must observe a distinction between

good actions and evil ones, by saying, that "God both wills

and performs good acts," but that "He only freely permits

those which are evil." Still farther than this, I very

readily grant, that even all actions whatever, concerning

evil, that can possibly be devised or invented, may be

attributed to Divine Providence Employing solely one caution,

"not to conclude from this concession that God is the cause

of sin." This I have testified with sufficient clearness, in

a certain disputation concerning the Righteousness and

Efficacy of Divine Providence concerning things that are

evil, which was discussed at Leyden on two different

occasions, as a divinity-act, at which I presided. In that

disputation, I endeavoured to ascribe to God whatever actions

concerning sin I could possibly conclude from the scriptures

to belong to him; and I proceeded to such a length in my

attempt, that some persons thought proper on that account to

charge me with having made God the author of sin. The same

serious allegation has likewise been often produced against

me, from the pulpit, in the city of Amsterdam, on account of

those very theses; but with what show of justice such a

charge was made, may be evident to any one, from the contents

of my written answer to those Thirty-one Articles formerly

mentioned, which have been falsely imputed to me, and of

which this was one.


This is my opinion concerning the free-will of man: In his

primitive condition as he came out of the hands of his

creator, man was endowed with such a portion of knowledge,

holiness and power, as enabled him to understand, esteem,

consider, will, and to perform the true good, according to

the commandment delivered to him. Yet none of these acts

could he do, except through the assistance of Divine Grace.

But in his lapsed and sinful state, man is not capable, of

and by himself, either to think, to will, or to do that which

is really good; but it is necessary for him to be regenerated

and renewed in his intellect, affections or will, and in all

his powers, by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, that he

may be qualified rightly to understand, esteem, consider,

will, and perform whatever is truly good. When he is made a

partaker of this regeneration or renovation, I consider that,

since he is delivered from sin, he is capable of thinking,

willing and doing that which is good, but yet not without the

continued aids of Divine Grace.


In reference to Divine Grace, I believe, 1. It is a

gratuitous affection by which God is kindly affected towards

a miserable sinner, and according to which he, in the first

place, gives his Son, "that whosoever believers in him might

have eternal life," and, afterwards, he justifies him in

Christ Jesus and for his sake, and adopts him into the right

of sons, unto salvation. 2. It is an infusion (both into the

human understanding and into the will and affections,) of all

those gifts of the Holy Spirit which appertain to the

regeneration and renewing of man -- such as faith, hope,

charity, &c.; for, without these gracious gifts, man is not

sufficient to think, will, or do any thing that is good. 3.

It is that perpetual assistance and continued aid of the Holy

Spirit, according to which He acts upon and excites to good

the man who has been already renewed, by infusing into him

salutary cogitations, and by inspiring him with good desires,

that he may thus actually will whatever is good; and

according to which God may then will and work together with

man, that man may perform whatever he wills.

In this manner, I ascribe to grace the commencement, the

continuance and the consummation of all good, and to such an

extent do I carry its influence, that a man, though already

regenerate, can neither conceive, will, nor do any good at

all, nor resist any evil temptation, without this preventing

and exciting, this following and co-operating grace. From

this statement it will clearly appear, that I by no means do

injustice to grace, by attributing, as it is reported of me,

too much to man's free-will. For the whole controversy

reduces itself to the solution of this question, "is the

grace of God a certain irresistible force?" That is, the

controversy does not relate to those actions or operations

which may be ascribed to grace, (for I acknowledge and

inculcate as many of these actions or operations as any man

ever did,) but it relates solely to the mode of operation,

whether it be irresistible or not. With respect to which, I

believe, according to the scriptures, that many persons

resist the Holy Spirit and reject the grace that is offered.


My sentiments respecting the perseverance of the saints are,

that those persons who have been grafted into Christ by true

faith, and have thus been made partakers of his life-giving

Spirit, possess sufficient powers [or strength] to fight

against Satan, sin, the world and their own flesh, and to

gain the victory over these enemies -- yet not without the

assistance of the grace of the same Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ

also by his Spirit assists them in all their temptations, and

affords them the ready aid of his hand; and, provided they

stand prepared for the battle, implore his help, and be not

wanting to themselves, Christ preserves them from falling. So

that it is not possible for them, by any of the cunning

craftiness or power of Satan, to be either seduced or dragged

out of the hands of Christ. But I think it is useful and will

be quite necessary in our first convention, [or Synod] to

institute a diligent inquiry from the Scriptures, whether it

is not possible for some individuals through negligence to

desert the commencement of their existence in Christ, to

cleave again to the present evil world, to decline from the

sound doctrine which was once delivered to them, to lose a

good conscience, and to cause Divine grace to be ineffectual.

Though I here openly and ingenuously affirm, I never taught

that a true believer can, either totally or finally fall away

from the faith, and perish; yet I will not conceal, that

there are passages of scripture which seem to me to wear this

aspect; and those answers to them which I have been permitted

to see, are not of such a kind as to approve themselves on

all points to my understanding. On the other hand, certain

passages are produced for the contrary doctrine [of

unconditional perseverance] which are worthy of much



With regard to the certainty [or assurance] of salvation, my

opinion is, that it is possible for him who believes in Jesus

Christ to be certain and persuaded, and, if his heart condemn

him not, he is now in reality assured, that he is a son of

God, and stands in the grace of Jesus Christ. Such a

certainty is wrought in the mind, as well by the action of

the Holy Spirit inwardly actuating the believer and by the

fruits of faith, as from his own conscience, and the

testimony of God's Spirit witnessing together with his

conscience. I also believe, that it is possible for such a

person, with an assured confidence in the grace of God and

his mercy in Christ, to depart out of this life, and to

appear before the throne of grace, without any anxious fear

or terrific dread: and yet this person should constantly

pray, "O lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant!"

But, since "God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all

things," and since a man judges not his own self -- yea,

though a man know nothing by himself, yet is he not thereby

justified, but he who judgeth him is the Lord, (1 John iii,

19; 1 Cor. iv, 3,) I dare not [on this account] place this

assurance [or certainty] on an equality with that by which we

know there is a God, and that Christ is the saviour of the

world. Yet it will be proper to make the extent of the

boundaries of this assurance, a subject of inquiry in our



Beside those doctrines on which I have treated, there is now

much discussion among us respecting the perfection of

believers, or regenerated persons, in this life; and it is

reported, that I entertain sentiments on this subject, which

are very improper, and nearly allied to those of the

Pelagians, viz: "that it is possible for the regenerate in

this life perfectly to keep God's precepts." To this I reply,

though these might have been my sentiments yet I ought not on

this account to be considered a Pelagian, either partly or

entirely, provided I had only added that "they could do this

by the grace of Christ, and by no means without it." But

while I never asserted, that a believer could perfectly keep

the precepts of Christ in this life, I never denied it, but

always left it as a matter which has still to be decided. For

I have contented myself with those sentiments which St.

Augustine has expressed on this subject, whose words have

frequently quoted in the University, and have usually

subjoined, that I had no addition to make to them.

Augustine says, "four questions may claim our attention on

this topic. The first is, was there ever yet a man without

sin, one who from the beginning of life to its termination

never committed sin? The second, has there ever been, is

there now, or can there possibly be, an individual who does

not sin, that is, who has attained to such a state of

perfection in this life as not to commit sin, but perfectly

to fulfill the law of God? The third, is it possible for a

man in this life to exist without sin? The fourth, if it be

possible for a man to be without sin, why has such an

individual never yet been found?" St. Augustine says, that

such a person as is described in the first question never yet

lived, or will hereafter be brought into existence, with the

exception of Jesus Christ. He does not think, that any man

has attained to such perfection in this life as is portrayed

in the second question. With regard to the third, he thinks

it possible for a man to be without sin, by means of the

grace of Christ and free-will. In answer to the fourth, man

does not do what it is possible for him by the grace of

Christ to perform, either because that which is good escapes

his observation, or because in it he places no part of his

delight." From this quotation it is apparent, that St.

Augustine, one of the most strenuous adversaries of the

Pelagian doctrine, retained this sentiment, that "it is

possible for a man to live in this world without sin."

Beside this, the same Christian father says, "let Pelagius

confess, that it is possible for man to be without sin, in no

other way than by the grace of Christ, and we will be at

peace with each other." The opinion of Pelagius appeared to

St. Augustine to be this -- "that man could fulfill the law

of God by his own proffer strength and ability; but with

still "greater facility by means of the grace of Christ." I

have already most abundantly stated the great distance at

which I stand from such a sentiment; in addition to which I

now declare, that I account this sentiment of Pelagius to be

heretical, and diametrically opposed to these words of

Christ, "Without me ye can do nothing:" (John xv, 5.) It is

likewise very destructive, and inflicts a most grievous wound

on the glory of Christ.

I cannot see that anything is contained in all I have

hitherto produced respecting my sentiments, on account of

which any person ought to be "afraid of appearing in the

presence of God," and from which it might be feared that any

mischievous consequences can possibly arise. Yet because

every day brings me fresh information about reports

concerning me, "that I carry in my breast destructive

sentiments and heresies," I cannot possibly conceive to what

points those charges can relate, except perhaps they draw

some such pretext from my opinion concerning the Divinity of

the Son of God, and the justification of man before God.

Indeed, I have lately learnt, that there has been much public

conversation, and many rumors have been circulated,

respecting my opinion on both these points of doctrine,

particularly since the last conference [between Gomarus and

myself] before the Counselors of the Supreme Court. This is

one reason why I think, that I shall not be acting

unadvisedly if I disclose to your mightinesses the real state

of the whole matter.


With regard to the Divinity of the Son of God and the word

autoqeov both of which have been discussed in our University

in the regular form of scholastic disputations, I cannot

sufficiently wonder what the motive can be, which has created

a wish in some persons to render me suspected to other men,

or to make me an object of suspicion to themselves. This is

still more wonderful, since this suspicion has not the least

ground of probability on which to rest, and is at such an

immense distance from all reason and truth, that, whatever

reports have been spread abroad respecting this affair to the

prejudice of my character, they can be called nothing better

than "notorious calumnies." At a disputation held one

afternoon in the University, when the thesis that had been

proposed for disputation was the Divinity of the Son of God,

one of the students happened to object, "that the Son of God

was autotheos, and that he therefore had his essence from

himself and not from the Father." In reply to this I

observed, "that the word autotheos was capable of two

different acceptations, since it might signify either "one

who is truly God," or "one who is God of himself;" and that

it was with great propriety and correctness attributed to the

Son of God according to the former signification, but not

according to the latter." The student, in prosecution of his

argument, violently contended, that the word was justly

applicable to the Son of God, principally according to the

second of these significations: and that the essence of the

Father could not be said to be communicated to the Son and to

the Holy Spirit, in any other than in an improper sense; but

that it was in perfect correctness and strict propriety

common alike to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." He

added "that he asserted this with the greater confidence

because he had the younger Trelcatius of pious memory, [but

who was then living,] as an authority in his favour on this

point; for that learned Professor had written to the same

purport in his Common Places." To these observations I

answered, "that this opinion was at variance with the word of

God, and with the whole of the ancient Church, both Greek and

Latin, which had always taught, that the Son had His Deity

from the Father by eternal generation." To these remarks I

subjoined, "that from such an opinion as this, necessarily

followed the two mutually conflicting errors, Tri-theism and

Sabellianism; that is, (1.) It would ensue as a necessary

consequence, from these premises, that there are three Gods,

who have together and collaterally the Divine essence,

independently of this circumstance -- that one of them (being

only personally distinguished from the rest) has that essence

from another of the persons. Yet the proceeding of the origin

of one person from another, (that is, of the Son from the

Father,) is the only foundation that has ever been used for

defending the Unity of the Divine Essence in the Trinity of

Persons. (2.) It would likewise follow as another

consequence, that the Son would himself be the Father,

because he would differ from the Father in nothing but in

regard to name, which was the opinion of Sabellius. For,

since it is peculiar to the Father to derive his Deity from

himself, or (to speak more correctly,) to derive it from no

one, if, in the sense of being "God of himself," the Son be

called autotheos, it follows that he is the Father." Some

account of this disputation was dispersed abroad in all

directions, and it reached Amsterdam. A minister of that

city, who now rests in the Lord, having interrogated me

respecting the real state of this affair, I related the whole

of it to him plainly, as I have now done: and I requested him

to make Trelcatius of blessed memory acquainted with it as it

had actually occurred, and to advise him in a friendly manner

to amend his opinion, and to correct those inappropriate

words in his Common Places: this request the minister from

Amsterdam engaged to fulfill in his own way.

In all this proceeding I am far from being liable to any

blame; for I have defended the truth and the sentiments of

the Catholic and Orthodox Church. Trelcatius undoubtedly was

the person most open to animadversion; for he adopted a mode

of speaking which detracted somewhat from the truth of the

matter. But such has always been either my own infelicity or

the zeal of certain individuals that, as soon as any

disagreement arises, all the blame is instantly cast upon me,

as if it was impossible for me to display as much veracity

[or orthodoxy] as any other person. Yet on this subject I

have Gomarus himself consenting with me; for, soon after

Trelcatius had published his common places, a disputation on

the Trinity having been proposed in the University, Gomarus

did in three several parts of his theses express himself in

such terms as were diametrically opposed to those of

Trelcatius. The very obvious difference in opinion between

those two Professors I pointed out to the Amsterdam minister,

who acknowledged its existence. Yet, notwithstanding all

these things, no one endeavoured to vindicate me from this

calumny; while great exertion was employed to frame excuses

for Trelcatius, by means of a qualified interpretation of his

words, though it was utterly impossible to reconcile their

palliative explanations with the plain signification of his

unperverted expressions. Such are the effects which the

partiality of favour and the fervour of zeal can produce!

The milder and qualified interpretation put upon the words of

Trelcatius, was the following: "the Son of God may be styled

autotheos, or may be said to have his Deity from himself, in

reference to his being God, although he has his Deity from

the Father, in reference to his being the Son." For the sake

of a larger explanation, it is said, "God, or the Divine

Essence, may be considered both absolutely and relatively.

When regarded absolutely, the Son has his Divine essence from

himself; but, when viewed relatively, he derives it from the

Father." But these are new modes of speaking and novel

opinions, and such as can by no means consist together. For

the Son, both in regard to his being the Son, and to his

being God, derives his Deity from the Father. When he is

called God, it is then only not expressed that he is from the

Father; which derivation is particularly noted when the word

Son is employed. Indeed, the essence of God can in no manner

come under our consideration, except it be said, "that the

Divine Essence is communicated to the Son by the Father." Nor

can it possibly in any different respect whatever be said,

that this essence is both "communicated to him" and "not

communicated;" because these expressions are contradictory,

and can in no diverse respect be reconciled to each other. If

the Son have the Divine Essence from himself in reference to

its being absolutely considered, it cannot be communicated to

him. If it be communicated to him in reference to its being

relatively considered, he cannot have it from himself in

reference to its being absolutely considered.

I shall probably be asked, "do you not acknowledge, that, to

be the Son of God, and to be God, are two things entirely

distinct from each other?" I reply, undoubtedly I subscribe

to such distinction. But when those who make it proceed still

further, and say, "since to be the Son of God signifies that

he derives his essence from the Father, to be God in like

manner signifies nothing less than that he has his essence

from himself or from no one;" I deny this assertion, and

declare, at the same time, that it is a great and manifest

error, not only in sacred theology, but likewise in natural

philosophy. For, these two things, to be the Son and to be

God, are at perfect agreement with each other; but to derive

his essence from the Father, and, at the same time, to derive

it from no one, are evidently contradictor, and mutually

destructive the one of the other.

But, to make this fallacy still more apparent, it must be

observed, how equal in force and import are certain double

ternary and parallel propositions, when standing in the

following juxta-position:

God is from eternity, possessing the Divine Essence from

eternity. The Father is from no one, having the Divine

Essence from no one. The Son is from the Father, having the

Divine Essence from the Father.

The word "God" therefore signifies, that He has the true

Divine Essence; but the word "Son" signifies, that he has the

Divine Essence from the Father. On this account, he is

correctly denominated both God and the Son of God. But since

he cannot be styled the Father, he cannot possibly be said to

have the Divine Essence from himself or from no one. Yet much

labour is devoted to the purpose of excusing these

expressions, by saying, "that when the son of God in

reference to his being God is said to have his essence from

that form of speech signifies nothing more, than that the

Divine essence is not derived from any one." But if this be

thought to be the most proper mode of action which should be

adopted, there will be no depraved or erroneous sentiment

which can be uttered that may not thus find a ready excuse.

For though God and the divine Essence do not differ

substantially, yet whatever may be predicated of the Divine

Essence can by no means be equally predicated of God; because

they are distinguished from each other in our mode of framing

conceptions, according to which mode all forms of speech

ought to be examined, since they are employed only with a

design that through them we should receive correct

impressions. This is very obvious from the following

examples, in which we speak with perfect correctness when we

say, "Deum mortuum esse," and "the Essence of God is

communicated;" but very incorrectly when we say, "God is

communicated." That man who understands the difference

existing between concrete and abstract, about which there

were such frequent disputes between us and the Lutherans will

easily perceive what a number of absurdities will ensue, if

explanations of this description be once tolerated in the

Church of God. Therefore, in no way whatever can this phrase,

"the Son of God is autotheos," ["God of himself," or "in his

own right,"] be excused as a correct one, or as having been

happily expressed. Nor can that be called a proper form of

speech which says, "the Essence of God is common to three

persons;" but it is improper, since the Divine Essence is

declared to be communicated by one of them to another.

The observations which I now make, I wish to be particularly

regarded, because it may appear from them how much we are

capable of tolerating in a man whom we do not suspect of

heresy; and, on the contrary, with what avidity we seize upon

any trivial circumstance by which we may inculpate another

man whom we hold under the ban of suspicion. Of such

partiality, this incident affords two manifest examples.


I am not conscious to myself, of having taught or entertained

any other sentiments concerning the justification of man

before God, than those which are held unanimously by the

Reformed and Protestant Churches, and which are in complete

agreement with their expressed opinions.

There was lately a short controversy in relation to this

subject, between John Piscator, Professor of Divinity in the

University of Herborn in Nassau, and the French Churches. It

consisted in the determination of these two questions: (1.)

"is the obedience or righteousness of Christ, which is

imputed to believers and in which consists their

righteousness before God, is this only the passive obedience

of Christ?" which was Piscator's opinion. Or (2.) "is it

not, in addition to this, that active righteousness of Christ

which he exhibited to the law of God in the whole course of

his life, and that holiness in which he was conceived?" Which

was the opinion of the French Churches. But I never durst

mingle myself with the dispute, or undertake to decide it;

for I thought it possible for the Professors of the same

religion to hold different opinions on this point from others

of their brethren, without any breach of Christian peace or

the unity of faith. Similar peaceful thoughts appear to have

been indulged by both the adverse parties in this dispute;

for they exercised a friendly toleration towards each other,

and did not make that a reason for mutually renouncing their

fraternal concord. But concerning such an amicable plan of

adjusting differences, certain individuals in our own country

are of a different judgment.

A question has been raised from these words of the Apostle

Paul: "Faith is imputed for righteousness." (Rom. 4) The

inquiry was, (1.) Whether those expressions ought to be

properly understood, "so that faith itself, as an act

performed according to the command of the gospel, is imputed

before God for or unto righteousness -- and that of grace;

since it is not the righteousness of the law." (2.) Whether

they ought to be figuratively and improperly understood,

"that the righteousness of Christ, being apprehended by

faith, is imputed to us for righteousness." Or (3.) Whether

it is to be understood "that the righteousness, for which, or

unto which, faith is imputed, is the instrumental operation

of faith;" which is asserted by some persons. In the theses

on justification, which were disputed under me when I was

moderator, I have adopted the former of these opinions not in

a rigid manner, but simply, as I have likewise done in

another passage which I wrote in a particular letter. It is

on this ground that I am accounted to hold and to teach

unsound opinions concerning the justification of man before

God. But how unfounded such a supposition is, will be very

evident at a proper season, and in a mutual conference. For

the present, I will only briefly say, "I believe that sinners

are accounted righteous solely by the obedience of Christ;

and that the righteousness of Christ is the only meritorious

cause on account of which God pardons the sins of believers

and reckons them as righteous as if they had perfectly

fulfilled the law. But since God imputes the righteousness of

Christ to none except believers, I conclude that, in this

sense, it may be well and properly said, to a man who

believes, faith is imputed for righteousness through grace,

because God hath set forth his Son, Jesus Christ, to be a

propitiation, a throne of grace, [or mercy seat] through

faith in his blood." Whatever interpretation may be put upon

these expressions, none of our Divines blames Calvin or

considers him to be heterodox on this point; yet my opinion

is not so widely different from his as to prevent me from

employing the signature of my own hand in subscribing to

those things which he has delivered on this subject, in the

third book of his Institutes; this I am prepared to do at any

time, and to give them my full approval. Most noble and

potent Lords, these are the principal articles, respecting

which I have judged it necessary to declare my opinion before

this august meeting, in obedience to your commands.



But, besides these things, I had some annotations to make on

the Confession of the Dutch Churches and on the Heidelberg

Catechism; but they will be discussed most appropriately in

our Synod, which at the first opportunity we hope to obtain

through your consent, or rather by means of your summons.

This is the sole request which I prefer to your mightinesses,

that I may be permitted to offer a few brief remarks on a

certain clause, subject to which their high mightinesses, the

States General, gave their consent to the convening of a

National Synod in this province, (Holland,) and the substance

of which was, that in such Synod the Confession and Catechism

of the Dutch Churches should be subjected to examination.

This clause has given great umbrage to many persons, not only

because they account it unnecessary, but likewise unjust, to

subject the Confession and Catechism to examination. They

also suppose, that I and a certain individual of great

reputation, are the persons who prevailed with the States

General to have such a clause inserted. But it is by no means

true that the revision of the Confession and Catechism is

unnecessary and unjust, or that we were the instigators of

their high mightinesses in this affair. With regard to the

last of these two suppositions, so far were we from having

any concern with the origin of that clause, that, eleven or

twelve years ago, at the pressing importunity of the Churches

that prayed for a National Synod, the States of South Holland

and West Friezland at last judged it proper to consent to it

by their decree, on no other condition than that in such

Synod the Confession of the Dutch Churches should be

subjected to examination. Yet we, at that time, neither

endeavoured by our advice, nor by our influence, to promote

any such measure. But if we had with all our might made the

attempt, we should have been doing nothing but what was

compatible with our official duties; because it is obviously

agreeable to reason as well as to equity, and quite necessary

in the present posture of affairs, that such a measure should

be adopted.

First. That it may openly appear to all the world that we

render to the word of God alone such due and suitable honour,

as to determine it to be beyond (or rather above) all

disputes, too great to be the subject of any exception, and

worthy of all acceptation.

Secondly. Because these pamphlets are writings that proceed

from men, and may, on that account, contain within them some

portion of error, it is, therefore, proper to institute a

lawful inquiry, that is, in a National Synod, whether or not

there be any thing in those productions which requires


1. The first inquiry may be, whether these human writings are

accordant, in every part, with the word of God, with regard

to the words themselves, the construction of the sentences

and the correct meaning.

2. Whether they contain whatever is necessary to be believed

unto salvation, so that salvation is, according to this rule,

not denied to those things to which it appertains.

3. Whether it [the rule of these formularies] does not

contain far too many particulars, and embrace several that

are not necessary to be believed unto salvation, so that

salvation is consequently attributed to those things to which

it does not belong.

4. Whether certain words and forms of speech are not employed

in them, which are capable of being understood in different

ways and furnishing occasion for disputes. Thus, for example,

in the Fourteenth article of the Confession, we read the

following words, "nothing is done without God's ordination,"

[or appointment]: if by the word "ordination" is signified,

"that God appoints things of any kind to be done," this mode

of enunciation is erroneous, and it follows as a consequence

from it, that God is the author of sin. But if it signify,

that "whatever it be that is done, God ordains it to a good

end," the terms in which it is conceived are in that case


5. Whether things utterly repugnant to each other may not be

discovered in them. For instance, a certain individual who is

highly honoured in the Church, addressed a letter to John

Piscator, Professor of Divinity in the University of Herborn

in Nassau, and in it he exhorted him to confine himself

within the opinion of the Heidelberg Catechism on the

doctrine of Justification. For this purpose he cited three

passage, which he considered to be at variance with

Piscator's sentiments. But the learned Professor replied,

that he confined himself completely within the doctrinal

boundaries of the Catechism; and then quoted out of that

formulary ten or eleven passages as proofs of his sentiments.

But I solemnly declare, I do not perceive by what method

these several passages can possibly be reconciled with each


6. Whether every thing in these writings is digested in that

due order in which the Scripture requires them to be placed.

7. Whether all things are disposed in a manner the most

suitable and convenient for preserving peace and unity with

the rest of the reformed Churches.

Thirdly. The third reason is, because a National Synod is

held for the purpose of discovering whether all things in the

Church are in a proper state or right condition. One of the

chief duties which appertains to such an assembly, is, the

examination of doctrine, whether it be that which is admitted

by unanimous consent, or that for which particular Divines


Fourthly. The fourth reason is, because an examination of

this description will obtain for these writings a greater

degree of authority, when after a mature and rigid

examination they shall be found to agree with the word of

God, or shall be made conformable to it in a still greater

measure. Such an examination will also excite within the

minds of men a greater value for Christian ministers, when

they perceive that these sacred functionaries hold in the

highest estimation that truth which is revealed in Scripture,

and that their attachment to it is so great as to induce them

to spare no labour in order to render their own doctrine more

and more conformable to that revealed truth.

Fifthly. The fifth reason why at this, if at any period, it

is necessary to adopt the suggestion which we have mentioned,

is, (1.) Because there are several individuals in the

ministry who have certain views and considerations respecting

some points contained in these writings, which they reserve

in secret and reveal to no one, because they hope that such

points will become subjects of discussion in a National

Synod. Because such a convention has been promised, some of

them have suffered themselves to be persuaded not to give the

least publicity to any of the views or considerations which

they have formed on these subjects.

(2.) Besides, this will be the design of a National Synod --

That their high mightinesses the States General may be

pleased to establish and arm with public authority certain

ecclesiastical sanctions, according to which every one may be

bound to conduct himself in the Church of God. That this

favour may be obtained from their high mightinesses and that

they may execute such a measure with a good conscience, it is

necessary that they be convinced in their own understandings,

that the doctrine contained in the formulary of union is

agreeable to the word of God. This is a reason which ought to

induce us spontaneously to propose an examination of our

Confession before their high mightinesses, and to offer

either to shew that it is in accordance with the word of God,

or to render it conformable to that Divine standard.

Sixthly. The sixth reason is drawn from the example of those

who are associated together under the Augustan Confession,

and from the conduct of the Swiss and the French Churches,

that have within two or three years enriched their

Confessions with one entirely new article. And the Dutch

Confession has itself been subjected to examination since it

was first published: some things having been taken away from

it and others added, while some of the rest have undergone

various alterations.

Numerous other reasons might be produced, but I omit them;

because I consider those already mentioned to be quite

sufficient for proving, that the clause concerning

examination and revision, as it is termed, was with the

greatest justice and propriety inserted in the instrument of

consent of which we have made previous mention.

I am not ignorant, that other reasons are adduced, in

opposition to these; and one in particular, which is made a

principal subject of public conversation, and is accounted of

all others the most solid. To it, therefore I consider it

necessary to offer a brief reply. It is thus stated: "by such

an examination as this, the doctrine of the Church will be

called in question; which is neither an act of propriety nor

of duty.

"I. Because this doctrine has obtained the approbation and

suffrages of many respectable and learned men; and has been

strenuously defended against all those who have offered it

any opposition.

"II. Because it has been sealed with the blood of many

thousand martyrs.

"III. Because from such an examination will arise, within the

Church, confusion, scandal, offenses, and the destruction of

consciences; and, out of the Church, ridicule, calumnies and


To all these I answer:

1. It would be much better, not to employ such odious forms

of speech, as to call in question, and others of that class,

when the conversation is only respecting some human

composition, which is liable to have error intermixed with

its contents. For with what right can any writing he said to

be called in question or in doubt, which was never of itself

unquestionable, or ought to be considered as indubitable?

2. The approbation of Divines, the defense of a composition

against its adversaries, and the sealing of it with the blood

of martyrs, do not render any doctrine authentic or place it

beyond the limits of doubt: because it is possible both for

Divines and martyrs to err -- a circumstance which can admit

of no denial in this argument.

3. A distinction ought to be made between the different

matters contained in the Confession. For while some of them

make a near approach to the foundation of salvation and are

fundamental articles of the Christian religion, others of

them are built up as a superstructure on the foundation, and

of themselves are not absolutely necessary to salvation. The

doctrines of this former class are approved by the unanimous

consent of all the Reformed, and are effectually defended

against all gainsaying adversaries. But those of the latter

class become subjects of controversy between different

parties: and some of these are attacked by enemies not

without some semblance of truth and justice.

The blood of martyrs has sealed those of the former class but

by no means those of the latter. In reference to this affair,

it ought to be diligently observed, what was proposed by the

martyrs of our days, and on what account they shed their

blood. If this be done, it will be found, that no man among

them was even interrogated on that subject which I consider

it equitable to make a prominent part in the deliberations of

a Synod, and, therefore, that no martyr ever sealed it with

his blood. I will produce an example: when a question was

raised about the meaning of the seventh chapter of the

epistle to the Romans, one individual said, "that the passage

was quoted in the margin of the Confession exactly in the

same sense as he had embraced it, and that the martyrs had

with their own blood sealed this Confession." But, in reply

to this, it was stated, "that if the strictest search be

instituted throughout the entire large history of the

martyrs, as it is published by the French, it will be

discovered, that no martyr has at any period been examined on

that passage, or has shed his blood on that account."

To sum up the whole: the blood of the martyrs tends to

confirm this truth, that they have made profession of their

faith "in simplicity and sincerity of conscience." But it is

by no means conclusive, that the Confession which they

produced is free from every degree of reprehension or

superior to all exception; unless they had been led by Christ

into all truth and therefore rendered incapable of erring.

4. If the Church be properly instructed in that difference

which really does and always ought to exist between the word

of God and all human writings, and if the Church be also

rightly informed concerning that liberty which she and all

Christians possess, and which they will always enjoy, to

measure all human compositions by the standard rule of God's

word, she will neither distress herself on that account, nor

will she be offended on perceiving all human writings brought

to be proved at the touch-stone of God's word. On the

contrary, she will rather feel far more abundant delight,

when she sees, that God has bestowed on her in this country

such pastors and teachers, as try at the chief touch-stone

their own doctrine, in a manner at once suitable, proper,

just, and worthy of perpetual observance; and that they do

this, to be able exactly and by every possible means to

express their agreement with the word of God, and their

consent to it even in the most minute particulars.

5. But it is no less proper, that the doctrine once received

in the Church should be subjected to examination, however

great the fear may be "lest disturbances should ensue, and

lest evil disposed persons should make such revision an

object of ridicule, calumny or accusation," or should even

turn it to their own great advantage, [by representing the

matter so as to induce a persuasion,] "that those who propose

this examination are not sufficiently confirmed in their own

religion ;" when, on the contrary, this is one of God's

commands, "search and try the spirits whether they be of

God." (1 John iv, 1.) If cogitations of that description had

operated as hindrances on the minds of Luther, Zuinglius, and

others, they would never have pried into the doctrine of the

Papists, or have subjected it to a scrutinizing examination.

Nor would those who adhere to the Augustan Confession have

considered it proper to submit that formulary again to a new

and complete revision, and to alter it in some particulars.

This deed of theirs is an object of our praise and approval.

And we conclude, that, when Luther towards the close of his

life was advised by Philip Melancthon to bring the

eucharistic controversy on the sacrament of the Lord's Supper

to some better state of concord, (as it is related in the

writings of our own countrymen,) he acted very improperly in

rejecting that counsel, and in casting it back as a reproach

on Philip, for this reason, as they state his declaration,

"lest by such an attempt to effect an amicable conclusion,

the whole doctrine should be called in question." Besides, if

reasons of this kind ought to be admitted, the Papists with

the best right and the greatest propriety formerly

endeavoured to prevent the doctrine, which had for many

preceding centuries been received in the Church, from being

called in question or subjected again to examination.

But it has been suggested, in opposition to these reasons,

"that if the doctrine of the Churches be submitted to an

entirely new revision as often as a National Synod shall be

held, the Church would never have any thing to which it might

adhere or on which it might fully depend, and it will be

possible to declare with great justice, concerning Churches

thus circumstanced, that, they have an anniversary faith: are

tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of

doctrine. (Ephes. iv, 14.)

1. My first answer to these remarks, is, the Church always

has Moses and the Prophets, the Evangelists and the Apostles,

that is, the Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament;

and these Scriptures fully and clearly comprehend whatever is

necessary to salvation. Upon them the Church will lay the

foundation of her faith, and will rest upon them as on an

immovable basis, principally because, how highly soever we

may esteem Confessions and Catechisms every decision on

matters of faith and religion must obtain its final

resolution in the Scriptures.

2. Some points in the Confession are certain and do not admit

of a doubt: these will never be called in question by any

one, except by heretics. Yet there are other parts of its

contents which are of such a kind, as may with the most

obvious utility become frequent subjects of conference and

discussion between men of learning who fear God, for the

purpose of reconciling them with those indubitable articles

as nearly as is practicable.

3. Let it be attempted to make the Confession contain as few

articles as possible; and let it propose them in a very brief

form, conceived entirely in the expressions of Scripture. Let

all the more ample explanations, proofs, digressions,

redundancies, amplifications and exclamations, be omitted;

and let nothing be delivered in it, except those truths which

are necessary to salvation. The consequences of this brevity

will be, that the Confession will be less liable to be filled

with errors, not so obnoxious to obloquy, and less subject to

examination. Let the practice of the ancient Church be

produced as an example, that comprehended, in as brief a form

of words as was practicable, those articles which she judged

necessary to be believed.

Some individuals form a distinction between the Confession

and the Catechism with respect to revision; and, since the

Confession is the peculiar property of the Dutch Churches,

and is on that account found in the hands of comparatively

few people, they conclude, "that it is possible without any

difficulty to revise it in a Synod and subject it to

examination., But since the Catechism belongs not only to us,

but likewise and principally to the Churches of the

Palatinate, and is therefore to be found in the hands of all

men, the same persons consider the examination of it "to be

connected with great peril." But to this I reply, if we be

desirous of constituting the Heidelberg Catechism a formulary

of concord among the teachers of the Churches, and if they be

obliged to subscribe it, it is still necessary to subject it

to examination. For no Churches whatever ought to hold such a

high station in our esteem, as to induce us to receive any

writing of their composition without, at the same time,

reserving to ourselves the liberty of submitting it to a nice

scrutiny. And I account this to be the principal cause, why

the Churches of different provinces, although at perfect

agreement with each other on the fundamental points of

Christian doctrine, have each composed for themselves their

own Confessions. But if the Heidelberg Catechism be not

allowed, to become a formulary of this kind, and if a

suitable liberty be conceded in the explanation of it, it

will not then be necessary either to revise it or subject it

to examination; provided, I repeat, that the obligatory

burden of subscription be removed, and a moderate liberty be

conceded in its explanation.

This is all that I had to propose to your mightinesses, as to

my most noble, potent, wise and prudent masters. While I own

myself bound to render an account of all my actions, to the

members of this most noble and potent assembly, (next after

God,) I at the same time present to them my humble and

grateful acknowledgments, because they have not disdained to

grant me a courteous and patient audience. I embrace this

opportunity solemnly to declare, that I am sincerely prepared

to institute an amicable and fraternal conference with my

reverend brethren, (at whatever time or place and on whatever

occasion this honourable assembly may judge proper to

appoint,) on all the topics which I have now mentioned, and

on any other concerning which it will be possible for a

controversy to exist, or at some future period to arise. I

also make this additional promise, that I will in every

conference conduct myself with equanimity, moderation and

docility, and will shew myself not less actuated by the

desire of being taught, than by that of communicating to

others some portion of instruction. And, since in the

discussion of every topic on which it will be possible to

institute a conference, two points will become objects of

attention. First. "Whether that be true which is the subject

of the controversy," and, secondly, "Whether it be necessary

to be believed unto salvation," and since both these points

ought to be discussed and proved out of the Scriptures, I

here tender my sacred affirmation, and solemnly bind myself

hereafter to observe it, that, however cogently I may have

proved by the most solid [human] arguments any article to be

agreeable to the word of God, I will not obtrude it for an

article of belief on those of my brethren who may entertain a

different opinion respecting it, unless I have plainly proved

it from the word of God and have with equal clearness

established its truth, and the necessity unto salvation that

every Christian should entertain the same belief.

If my brethren will be prepared to act in this manner, as far

as I know the complexion of my own opinions, there will not

easily arise among us any schism or controversy. But, that I

may on my part remove every cause of fear that can possibly

invade this most noble assembly, occupied and engaged as its

honourable members now are with important concerns on which

in a great measure depends the safety of our native country

and of the Reformed Churches, I subjoin this remark, "that to

hinder my toleration of any matters in my brethren, they must

be very numerous and very important. For I am not of the

congregation of those who wish to have dominion over the

faith of another man, but am only a minister to believers,

with the design of promoting in them an increase of

knowledge, truth, piety, peace and joy in Jesus Christ our


But if my brethren cannot perceive how they can possibly

tolerate me, or allow me a place among them, in reference to

myself I indulge in no hope that a schism will on this

account be formed. May God avert any such catastrophe, since

far too many schisms have already arisen and spread

themselves abroad among Christians. It ought rather to be the

earnest endeavour of every one, to diminish their number and

destroy their influence. Yet, even under such circumstances,

[when I shall be rejected from the communion of my brethren,]

in patience willlpossess my soul; and though in that case I

shall resign my office, yet I will continue to live for the

benefit of our common Christianity as long as it may please

God to lengthen out my days and prolong my existence. Never

forgetting this sentiment, Sat Ecclesæ, sat Patriæ daturm,

Enough has been done to satisfy the Church of Christ and my



CERTAIN articles relating to the Christian Religion are now

in a course of circulation. In a paper which was not long

since delivered into my hands, the number of them is

distinguished into two series, one consisting of twenty and

the other of eleven articles. Some of them are attributed to

me, others to Adrian Borrius, and several both to him and me.

Those persons by whom they were first disseminated, attempt

in them to render us suspected of having introduced into the

church and the University of Leyden, novelties and heretical

instructions, and to accuse us of error and heresy, that both

the students of Divinity and the common people may stand on

their guard against us, who have this black mark imprinted on

us, lest they become infected with the same envenomed

disorder, and that those persons who enjoy the supremacy both

in Church and State, may seasonably interpose their

authority, to prevent the evil from extending any further, or

rather to extinguish it in its very commencement; which, if

"they neglect to do, they will be instrumental in producing

the greatest detriment to Divine Truth, and to the Political

and Ecclesiastical concord of these Provinces."

The dispersion of some of these articles is not a very recent

circumstance; for, above two years ago, seventeen out of

these thirty-one came into my hands, expressed exactly in the

same words as those that occur in the writing which is the

subject of my present remarks. But I was silent, and

concealed my regret; for I thought that those articles would,

in their very infancy, die a natural death, since part of

them were destitute of the truth of historical narration, by

not being attributed to those who had been the authors of

them; and part of them were void of all real theological

sense, by the strange intermixture of truth and falsehood.

But the issue did not answer my expectation. For they not

only remained without diminution, but gained an increase, by

the addition of other fourteen to the former seventeen

articles, and by a far wider dispersion of the whole than had

at first been made. This unexpected result had the effect of

inducing me to think that I ought to oppose their progress by

a moderate answer, lest my continued silence should be

interpreted as tantamount to a confession. If this be the

interpretation which, on many occasions is given to silence,

it is an easy matter thus to construe it respecting any

doctrine that is aspersed as. a heresy, "under which

imputation," it is said in a vaunting tone, "St. Jerome would

have no man to remain patient."

In this reply I will use candour and conscience. Whatever I

know to be true, I will confess and defend. On whatever

subjects I may feel hesitation, I will not conceal my

ignorance; and whatever my mind dictates to be false, I will

deny and refute. May the God of truth and peace direct my

mind and my hand by his Holy Spirit! Amen.


I. Faith, that is, justifying faith, is not peculiar to the


II. It is possible for believers finally to decline and fall

away from faith and salvation.


The connection between these two articles is so intimate,

that when the first of them is granted, the second is

necessarily inferred; and, in return, when the latter is

granted, the former is to be inferred, according to the

intention of those persons who framed these articles. For if

"faith be not peculiar to the elect," and if perseverance in

faith and salvation belong to the elect alone, it follows

that believers not only can, but that some of them actually

do, "fall away from faith and salvation." And, on the

contrary, if it be "possible for believers finally to fall

away from faith and salvation," it follows that "faith is not

peculiar to the elect," they being the individuals concerning

whom the framers of these articles assert, that it is

impossible for them not to be saved. The reason of the

consequence is, because the words FAITH and BELIEVERS,

according to this hypothesis, have a wider signification than

the words ELECTION and THE ELECT. The former comprehend some

persons that are not elect, that is, "some who finally fall

away from faith and salvation." No necessity, therefore,

existed for composing both these articles; it was quite

sufficient to have proposed one. And if the authors of them

had sought for such amplification, as had no real existence,

but consisted of mere words, it was possible to deduce the

Second from the First in the form of a consectary. Thus it is

evident that the multitude of the articles, was the great

object to be attempted for the purpose of making it appear as

if those persons ERRED IN VERY MANY POINTS, whom the too

sedulous curiosity of the brethren is desirous without cause,

of rendering suspected of heresy.

I. But, to treat of each article singly, I declare,

respecting THE FIRST, that I never said, either in public or

in private, "Faith is not peculiar to the elect." This

article, therefore, is not attributed to its proper author;

and thus is committed a historical error.

I add, even if I had made such a declaration as this, a

defense of it would have been ready. For I omit the

scriptures, from which a more prolix discussion of this

subject might be formed; and since the Christian Fathers have

with great semblance of truth defended their sentiments from

that divine source, I might employ the consent of those

Fathers as a shield to ward off from myself the charge of

NOVELTY; and the Harmony of Confessions, which are severally

the composition of those Churches that have seceded from

Popery, and that come under the denomination of" Protestants"

and "the Reformed," I might adopt for a polished breast-

plate, to intercept or turn aside the dart of HERESY which is

hurled against me. Neither should I be much afraid of this

subject being placed for adjudication in the balances of the

Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism.

1. Let St. Augustine, Prosper, and the author of the book

entitled The Vocation of the Gentiles, be brought forward to

bear testimony respecting "the consent of the Fathers."

(1.) AUGUSTINE says, "It is wonderful, and indeed most

wonderful, that God does not bestow perseverance on certain

of his sons, whom he hath regenerated in Christ, and to whom

he has given faith, hope and love; while he pardons such

great acts of wickedness in sons that are alienated from him,

and, by imparting his grace, makes them his children." (De

Corrept. et Gratia, cap. 8.)

(2.) PROSPER says, "It is a lamentable circumstance which is

proved by many examples, that some of those persons who were

regenerated in Christ Jesus, have relinquished the faith,

and, ceasing to preserve their former sanctity of manners,

have apostatized from God, and their ungodly course has been

terminated under his displeasure and aversion." (Ad Capita

Galatians resp. 7.) (3.) The author of The Vocation of the

Gentiles says, "God bestows the power of willing to obey him,

in such a manner as not to take away, even from those who

will persevere, that mutability by which it is possible for

them to be unwilling [to obey God]. If this were not the

case, none of the believers would have departed from the

faith." (Lib. ii, c. 9.)

2. The HARMONY OF CONFESSIONS might in the following manner,

contribute to my defense: This dogma states that "faith is

the peculiar property of the elect," and that "it is

impossible for believers finally to decline from faith and

salvation." Now, if this be a dogma necessary to salvation,

then that Confession which does not contain it, or which

asserts some thing contradictory to it, cannot be considered

as harmonizing with the rest on the subject of religion. For

wherever there is harmony, it is proper that there should be

neither defect nor contradiction in things pertaining to

salvation. But the Augustan or Lutheran Confession says that

"it condemns the Anabaptists, who deny that those persons who

have once been justified, can lose the Holy Spirit." Besides,

Philip Melancthon with his followers, and the greater portion

of the Lutheran Churches, are of opinion, that faith is

bestowed even on the non-elect." Yet we are not afraid of

acknowledging these Lutherans for brethren.

3. The BELGIC Confession does not contain this dogma, that

"faith is peculiar to the elect ;" and without controversy it

cannot be deduced from our CATECHISM. For when it is said, in

the article on the Church, "I believe that I shall

perpetually remain a member of the Church;" and, in the first

question, "God keeps and preserves me in such a manner, as to

make all things necessarily subservient to my salvation;"

those expressions are to be understood of a believer, in

reference to his actual believing. For he who is truly such a

one, answers to the character of a Christian. But no man is

such except through faith. Faith is therefore presupposed in

both the expressions.

II. With regard to the SECOND Article, I say, that a

distinction ought to be made between power and action. For it

is one thing to declare, that "it is possible for the

faithful to fall away from faith and salvation," and it is

another to say, that "they do actually fall away." This

distinction is of such extensive observance, that even

antiquity itself was not afraid of affirming, concerning the

elect and those who were to be saved, "that it was possible

for them not to be saved;" and that "the mutability by which

it was possible for them not to be willing to obey God, was

not taken away from them," although it was the opinion of the

ancients, "that such persons never would in reality be

damned." On this very subject, too, the greater part of our

own doctors lay down a difference. For they say, "that it is

possible for such persons to fall away, if their nature,

which is inclined to lapses and defection, and if the

temptations of the world and Satan, be the only circumstances

taken into consideration: but that they will not finally fall

away, because God will bring back to himself his own elect

before the end of life." If any one asserts, "that it is not

possible for believers, in consideration of their being elect

persons, finally to fall away from salvation, because God has

decreed to save them," I answer, the decree concerning saving

does not take away the possibility of damning, but it removes

damnation itself. For "to be actually saved," and "a

possibility of not being saved," are two things not contrary

to each other, but in perfect agreement.

I therefore add, that in this way I have hitherto

discriminated these two cases. And at one time I certainly

did say, with an explanation subjoined to it, "that it was

possible for believers finally to decline or fall away from

faith and salvation." But at no period have I asserted, "that

believers do finally decline or fall away from faith or

salvation." This article, therefore, is ascribed to one who

is not its author; and it is another offense against

historical veracity.

I subjoin, that there is a vast difference between the

enunciation of these two sentences. (1.) "It is possible for

believers to decline from the FAITH ;" and (2.) "It is

possible for believers to decline from SALVATION." For the

latter, when rigidly and accurately examined, can scarcely be

admitted; it being impossible for believers, as long as they

remain believers, to decline from salvation. Because, were

this possible, that power of God would be conquered which he

has determined to employ in saving believers. On the other

hand, if believers fall away from the faith and become

unbelievers, it is impossible for them to do otherwise than

decline from salvation, that is, provided they still continue

unbelievers. Therefore, whether this hypothesis be granted or

not, the enunciation cannot be accurately expressed. For if

this hypothesis (their perseverance in faith) be granted,

they cannot decline; but if it be not granted, they cannot do

otherwise than decline. (2.) But that first enunciation

includes no hypothesis; and therefore an answer may be given

to it simply, either that it is possible, or that it is

impossible. For this cause, the second article ought to be

corrected in the following manner: "It is possible for

believers finally to fall away or decline from the faith;" or

rather, "Some believers finally fall away and decline from

the faith." This being granted, the other can be necessarily

inferred, "therefore they also actually decline from

salvation." Respecting the truth of this [Second] article, I

repeat the same observations which I made about the First.

For the following expressions are reciprocal to each other,

and regular consequences: "Faith is peculiar to the elect,"

and "believers do not finally fall away from the faith." In

like manner, "Faith is not peculiar to the elect," and "Some

believers finally decline from the faith."


It is a matter of doubt, whether the faith by which Abraham

is said to be justified, was a faith in Jesus Christ who was

still to come. No proof can be adduced of his having

understood the promises of God in any other manner, than that

he should be the heir of the world.


There are two members in this article, or rather, those

members are two distinct articles, each of which presents

itself to be separately considered by us, after I have

observed, that in this passage no affirmation or negation,

each of which properly constitutes a heretic, is attributed

to us, but a mere doubt alone, that betokens a consciousness

of ignorance and infirmity, which those who arrogate to

themselves the knowledge of all these things, ought to

endeavour to remove by a mild course of instruction, and not

to make it a subject of reviling or provocation.

I. To the FIRST MEMBER I reply:

First. I never uttered this expression; but have, on more

occasions than one, taught both in public and private a

contrary doctrine. Yet I remember, when a certain minister at

Leyden had boasted of the clearness of this article, and was

astonished how any persons could be found who entertained a

different opinion about it, I told him, that the proof of it

would not be a very easy occupation to him if he had to

encounter a powerful adversary, and I challenged him to make

a trial, which challenge I now repeat. I wish him to prove

this assertion by such plain arguments, as will not leave a

man just reasons for doubting any longer about the matter.

This is a point on which the labours of a divine will be more

profitably expended, than on publishing and magnifying the

doubts of the infirm, whose confidence in themselves is not

equal to that which he manifests.

Secondly. "Faith in Christ" may be received in two

acceptations. Either according to promise, which was involved

in the types, figures and shadows of words and things, and

proposed in that manner: Or, it is according to the gospel,

that is clearly manifested. The difference between these two

is so great, that with regard to it the Jews are said "to

have been detained or kept under the law before faith came,

concluded or shut up unto that faith which should afterwards

be revealed." (Gal. iii, 23.) And the Apostle says, "the

children of Israel were prevented, by the veil placed over

the countenance of Moses, from steadfastly looking to the end

of that which is abolished," (2 Cor. iii, 13,) that is, to

the end of the law, as is evident from the whole chapter, and

from Romans x, 4, where Christ is said to be "the end of the

law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Let the

whole description of the faith of Abraham, which the Apostle

gives at great length in Romans 4, be attentively considered,

and it will appear, that no express mention of Jesus Christ

is made in it, but it is implied in such a way as it is not

easy for any one to explain.

Let it be added that faith in Jesus Christ seems to some

persons to be used by metonymy, for "that faith which is

concerning the types and figures which adumbrate and

prefigure Jesus Christ," although it has not united with it

an understanding of those types, unless it be a very obscure

one, and such as appears suitable to the infant Church,

according to the economy of the times and ages which God in

his wisdom employs. Let a comparison be instituted between

that servitude under which the heir, so long as he is a

child, is said by the Apostle to be held, (Gal. iv, 1-3,) and

that bondage from which the Spirit of the Lord is declared to

liberate the man whose heart is converted to Him; (2 Cor.

iii, 16-18,) and this doubting will then be considered

ascribable to the proper fear of a trembling [scrupulous]

conscience, rather than to a disposition that has a powerful

propensity towards heresy.


First. I never made such an assertion.

Secondly. If even I had, it would not have called for any

deserved reprehension, except from a man that was desirous by

that very act to betray at once the weakness of his judgment

and his want of experience. (1.) It is a sign of a judgment

not the most accurate, to blame any man for saying that

which, it is possible to prove, has been written by the

Apostle himself in so many words. For if the heir-ship of the

world was promised to Abraham in these words, "Thou shalt be

the father of many nations," what wonder is there if Abraham

understood the promises in no other manner than as they had

been divinely pronounced? (2.) It is a mark of great

inexperience in the men who framed these articles, to suppose

that the heir-ship of the world which was promised to

Abraham, appertained to this animal life and to carnal

benefits; because the world of which mention is made in that

passage, is that future world to which belongs the calling of

the Gentiles, by which vocation Abraham was made the father

of many nations. This is apparent from the consideration,

that he is said to have been made the heir of the world by

the righteousness of faith, of which St. Paul (Rom. iv, 13,)

proves the Gentiles likewise to be partakers; and in Ephes.

iii, 1-11, the Apostle treats on the vocation of the

Gentiles, and says, it belongs to "the grace of the gospel,

and to the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning

of the world hath been hidden in God and is now brought to

light by Christ, by whom God created all things." I repeat

it, that vocation does not belong to the wisdom by which God

formed the world, but to that by which he constituted Christ

his wisdom and power to salvation to them that believe; and

by which he founded the Church, which will endure forever.

See 1 Corinthians i, 21-23; ii, 6-8; Ephes. iii, 1-11. If the

forgers of this article say, "that they have likewise

perceived this, but had supposed that my opinion was

different;" I reply, it is not the part of a prudent man to

frame a foolish adversary for himself.


Faith is not an effect of election, but is a necessary

requisite foreseen by God in those who are to be elected. And

the decree concerning the bestowing of faith precedes the

decree of election.


Of this article also there are two entire members:

I. In the FIRST of them, three assertions are included. (1.)

"Faith is not an effect of election." (2.) "Faith is a

necessary requisite in those who are to be elected or saved."

(3.) "This requisite is foreseen by God in the persons to be

elected." I confess, all these, when rightly understood and

correctly explained, agree entirely with my opinion, on the

subject. But the last of the members is proposed in terms too

odious, since it makes no mention of God, whose benefit and

gift I acknowledge faith to be.

I will now proceed to explain myself on each of these


1. With regard to the FIRST, the word "Election" is

ambiguous. For it either signifies "the election by which God

determines to justify believers, while those who are

unbelievers or workers are rejected from righteousness and

salvation: "Or it signifies "the election by which he

determines to save certain particular persons, as such, and

to bestow faith on them in order to their salvation, other

particular persons being also rejected, merely in reference

to their being such particular individuals." Election is

received according to this latter signification, by those who

charge me with these articles. I take it in the former

acceptation, according to Romans ix, 11: "For the children

being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil,

that the purpose of God according to election might stand,

not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her,

the elder shall serve the younger."

I will not now enter into a prolix disputation, whether or

not the sense in which I receive it, be the correct one. It

is evident, at least, that there is some decree of God by

which he determines to justify believers; and which, since it

excludes unbelievers from righteousness and salvation, is

appropriately called "the decree according to election" or

"with election," as being that which does not include all men

within its embrace. This decree I consider as the foundation

of Christianity, of man's salvation, and of his assurance of

salvation; and it is this of which the Apostle treats in the

ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters of his Epistle to the

Romans, and in the first chapter to the Ephesians.

But I have not yet declared what my sentiments in general are

about that decree by which God is said "to have determined

absolutely to save certain particular persons, and to bestow

faith upon them in order to their salvation, while others are

reprobated from salvation and faith;" although I have

confessed, that there is a certain decree of God, according

to which he determines to administer the means to faith and

salvation, as he knows them to be suitable and proper to his

righteousness, mercy and severity. From these premises it is

deduced as a most manifest consequence, that faith is not an

effect of that election by which God determines to justify

those who believe.

2. With regard to the SECOND assertion, from the particulars

thus explained it is concluded, that "faith is a necessary

requisite in those who shall be partakers of salvation

according to the election of God ;" or, that "it is a

condition prescribed and required by God, to be performed by

those who shall obtain his salvation." "This is the will of

God, that whosoever believeth in the Son hath eternal life;

he that believeth not, shall be condemned." The propositions

contained in this passage cannot be resolved into any other

than this brief one, which is likewise used in the Scripture,

"Believe, and thou shalt be saved." In which the word

"believe" has the force of a demand or requirement; and the

phrase "thou shalt be saved" has that of a suasion, by means

of a good that is promised. This truth is so clear and

perspicuous, that the denial of it would be a proof of great

perversity or of extreme unskilfullness. If any one say, "It

is a condition, but yet an evangelical one, which God may

himself perform in us, or, (as it is better expressed,) which

he may by his grace cause us to perform; "the man who speaks

thus, does not contradict this truth, but confirms it when he

adds this explanation, "of what description soever that

condition may be."

3. With regard to the THIRD, I say that we must distinguish

between the condition by which it is required, that by which

it is performed, and that by which it is seen or foreseen as

performed. This third member, therefore, is proposed in a

manner much too confused. Yet, when this confusion is

corrected by the distinction which we have stated, nothing of

absurdity will be apparent even in that member. Because

foreseeing or seeing, in the very nature and order of things

follows the performance itself; the performance has its own

causes into which it is to be resolved; and the efficiency of

those causes is not necessary, unless faith be prescribed and

required by the law of faith and the gospel. Since therefore

faith is said "to be foreseen by God in those who are to be

saved," those causes, without the intervention of which there

could be no faith, are not removed, but are rather appointed.

Among those causes, I consider the preventing, accompanying

and succeeding [subsequent] grace of God, as the principal.

And I say, with Fulgentius, "Those persons will be saved, or

they have been predestinated and elected, who, God foreknew,

would believe by the assistance of his preventing grace, (I

add and of his accompanying grace,) and would persevere by

the aid of his subsequent grace." In this first member, then,

there is nothing except truth of the greatest purity.

II. The second member is, "The decree concerning the gift of

faith, precedes the decree of election;" in the explanation

of which I employ the same distinction as in the former, and

say, "The decree of election, by which God determines to

justify and save believers, precedes the decree concerning

the bestowment of faith." For faith is unnecessary, nay it is

useless, without this previous decree. And the decree of

election, by which God resolves to justify and save this or

that particular person, is subsequent to that decree

according to which he determines to administer the means

necessary and efficacious to faith, that is, the decree

concerning the gift of faith.

If any one says, "God wills first absolutely to save some

particular person; and, since he wills that, he also wills to

bestow faith on him, because without faith, it is not

possible for him to be saved." I tell him, that he lays down

contradictory propositions -- that "God wills absolutely to

save some one without regard to faith," and yet that,

"according to the will of God, he cannot be saved without

faith." Through the will of God it has been revealed to us,

without faith it is impossible for any man to please God, or

to be saved. There is, therefore, in God no other will, by

which he wills any one to be absolutely saved without

consideration of faith. For contradictory wills cannot be

attributed to God. If any person replies, "God wills the end

before he wills the means leading to the end; but salvation

is the end, and faith the means leading to the end," I

answer, first, Salvation is not the end of God; but salvation

and faith are the gifts of God, bound and connected together

in this order between themselves through the will of God,

that faith should precede salvation, both with regard to God,

the donor of it; and in reality. Secondly. Faith is a

CONDITION required by God to be performed by him who shall be

saved, before it is MEANS of obtaining that salvation. Since

God will not bestow salvation on any one, except on him who

believes, man is on this account incited to be willing to

believe, because he knows that his chief good is placed in

salvation. Man, therefore, tried by faith, as the means, to

attain to salvation as the end; because he knows that he

cannot possibly obtain salvation except through that means.

And this knowledge he does not acquire except through the

declaration of the divine Will, by which God requires faith

from those who wish to be saved, that is, by which he places

faith as a condition in the object, that is, in the person to

be saved.


Naught among things contingent can be said to be NECESSARILY

done in respect to the Divine decree.


My opinion concerning Necessity and Contingency is "that they

can never be applicable at once to one and the same event."

But I speak of the necessity and contingency that are both of

the same kind, not those which are different in their genus.

The schoolmen state, that there is one necessitas

consequentis -- an absolute necessity -- , and another,

necessitas consequentiæ -- a hypothetical necessity. The

former is, when the necessity arises from a cause antecedent

to the thing itself. But necessitas consequentiæ -- a

hypothetical necessity -- arises from certain premises, or

principles, antecedent to the conclusion. A consequent, or

absolute contingency cannot consist with a consequent, or

absolute necessity; nor can they meet together in one event.

In the same manner, one conclusion cannot be both necessary

and contingent in regard to its consequence; that is, it

cannot have, at the same time, a necessity and a contingency

that are hypothetical. But the cause why one thing cannot be

necessary and contingent at the same time, is this "that what

is necessary, and what is contingent, divide the whole

amplitude of being. For every being is either necessary or

contingent. But those things which divide the whole of being,

cannot coincide or meet together in any single being.

Otherwise they would not divide the whole range of being.

What is contingent, and what is necessary, likewise, differ

in their entire essences and in the whole of their

definition. For that is necessary which cannot possibly not

be or not be done. And that is contingent which is possible

not to be or to be done. Thus contradictorily are they

opposed to each other; and this opposition is infinite, and,

therefore, always dividing truth from falsehood: as, "this

thing is either a man or it is not a man;" it is not possible

for any thing to be both of these at once -- that is, it is

impossible for any thing of one essence. Otherwise, in

another sense," Christ is a man," as proceeding from his

mother, Mary; "he is not a man," in reference to his having

been begotten of the Father from all eternity; but these are

two things and two natures.

But they say: "It is possible for one and the same event to

be necessary and contingent in different respects --

necessary with regard to the first cause, which is God -- and

contingent in respect to second causes." I answer, FIRST.

Those things which differ in their entire essences, do not

coincide in respects. SECONDLY. The necessity or contingency

of an event is to be estimated, not from one cause, but from

all the causes united together. For after ten causes have

been fixed, from which a thing is produced, not necessarily

but contingently, if one be added from which the thing may be

necessarily completed, the whole of that thing is said to

have been done not contingently but necessarily. Because,

when all these causes were together appointed, it was

impossible for that thing to hinder itself from being

produced, and from being brought into existence. That thing,

I confess indeed, when distinctly compared by our mind with

each of its causes, has a different relation to them

respectively. But since none of those causes is the total

cause of that event, and since all of them united together

form the total cause, the thing ought itself to be accounted

and declared to have been done from that total cause, either

necessarily or contingently.

It is not only a rash saying, but a false and an ignorant

one, "that a thing which, in regard to second causes, is done

contingently is said to be done necessarily in regard to the

divine decree." For the divine decree itself, being an

internal action of God, is not immediately the cause of the

thing; but, whatever effects it may produce, it performs them

by power, according to the mode of which a thing will be said

to be either necessarily or contingently. For if God resolve

to use an irresistible power in the execution of his decree,

or if he determine to employ such a quantum of power as

nothing can resist or can hinder it from completing his

purpose, it will follow that the thing will necessarily be

brought into existence. Thus, "wicked men who persevere in

their sins, will necessarily perish," for God will by an

irresistible force, cast them down into the depths of hell.

But if he resolve to use a force that is not irresistible,

but that can be resisted by the creature, then that thing is

said to be done, not necessarily but contingently, although

its actual occurrence was certainly foreknown by God,

according to the infinity of his understanding, by which he

knows all results whatever, that will arise from certain

causes which are laid down, and whether those causes produce

a thing necessarily or contingently. From whence the school-

men say that "all things are done by a necessity of

infallibility," which phrase is used in a determinate sense,

although the words in which its enunciation is expressed are

ill-chosen. For infallibility is not an affection of a being,

which exists from causes; but it is an affection of a Mind

that sees or that foresees what will be the effect of certain

causes. But I readily endure a catachrestic metalepsis, when

it is evident concerning a thing, although it is my wish that

our enunciations were always the best accommodated to the

natures of the things themselves.

But the inventors of these articles try to prove by the

examples which they produce, that "one and the same thing,

which, with respect to second causes, is done contingently,

is, in respect to the Divine Decree, done necessarily." They

say "It was possible for the bones of Christ to be broken, or

not to be broken. It was possible for them to be broken, if

any person considers the nature of bones; for they were

undoubtedly fragile. But they could not be broken, if the

decree of God be taken into the account." In answer to this,

I deny that in respect of the DIVINE DECREE, they could not

be broken. For God did not decree that it was impossible for

them to be broken, but that they should not be broken. This

is apparent from the manner in which the transaction was

actually conducted. For God did not employ an irresistible

power by which he might prevent the bones of Christ from

being broken by those who approached to break them; but by a

mild kind of suasion, he caused that they should not will to

break the bones of Christ, by an argument drawn from its

inutility. For, since Christ had already given up the ghost,

before those who broke the legs had arrived at the cross,

they were not at all inclined to undertake a vain and

fruitless labour in breaking the legs of our saviour. Because

the breaking of legs, with the design to hasten death, was

only done lest the bodies should remain suspended on the

cross on a festival or sacred day, contrary to the divine

law. Indeed, if the divine Wisdom knows how to effect that

which it has decreed, by employing causes according to their

nature and motion -- whether their nature and motion be

contingent or free, the praise due to such Wisdom is far

greater than if it employ a power which no creature can

possibly resist. Although God can employ such a power

whensoever it may seem expedient to his Wisdom. I am

therefore, of opinion that I committed no offense when I

said, "No contingent thing -- that is, nothing which is done

or has been done CONTINGENTLY -- can be said to be or have

been done NECESSARILY, with regard to the divine decree."


All things are done contingently.


This Article is expressed in such a stupid and senseless

manner, that they who attribute it to me, declare by this

very circumstance, that they do not perceive under how many

falsities this expression labours; nay, they do not

understand what is the meaning of the words which they

employ. For if that is said to be done contingently which it

is possible not to do, or which may not be done, after all

the causes required for its being done have been fixed; and,

on the other hand, if that is said to be done necessarily

which cannot be left undone which cannot but be done-after

all the causes required for its performance have been fixed;

and if I grant, that, after some causes have been fixed, it

is impossible for any other event to ensue than that the

thing should be done and exist, how then can I be of opinion

that" all things are done, or happen, contingently?." But

they have deceived themselves by their own ignorance; from

which it would be possible for them to be liberated, if they

would bestow a becoming and proper attention on sentiments

that are more correct, and would in a friendly manner obtain

from the author a knowledge of his views and opinions.

I have both declared and taught that "necessity, in reference

to its being said to be or to happen necessarily, is either

absolute or relative." It is an absolute necessity, in

relation to a thing being said simply "to be or to happen

necessarily," without any regard being had to the

supposition, or laying down, of any cause whatever. It is a

relative necessity, when a thing is said "to be or to happen

necessarily," after some cause had been laid down or fixed.

Thus, God exists by an absolute necessity; and by the same

absolute necessity, he both understands and loves himself.

But the world, and all things produced from it, are,

according to an absolute consideration, contingent, and are

produced contingently by God, freely operating. But it being

granted that God wills to form the world by his infinite

power, to which NOTHING ITSELF must be equal to matter in the

most perfect state of preparation -- and it being likewise

granted that God actually employs this power -- it will then

be said, "It was impossible for the world to do otherwise

than exist from this cause;" or, "from this cause, the world

could not but exist." And this is a relative necessity, which

is so called from the hypothesis of an antecedent cause being

laid down or fixed.

I will explain my meaning in a different manner. Two things

in this place come under our consideration, the CAUSE and the

EFFECT. If both of them be necessarily fixed, that is, if not

only the effect be fixed necessarily when the cause fixed,

but if the cause also necessarily exist and be necessarily

supposed to operate, the necessity of the effect is in that

case simple and absolute. In this manner arises the absolute

necessity of the Divine effect, by which God is said to know

and love himself; for the Divine understanding and the Divine

will cannot be inoperative, [cannot but operate]. This

operation of God is not only an internal one, but it is also

ad intra, [inwards,] tending towards an object, which is

himself. But whatever God may do ad extra, [externally,] that

is, when acting on an object which is something beside

himself, [or something different from himself,] whether this

object be united to him in understanding and he tend towards

it by an internal act, or whether it be in reality separated

from him and towards which he tends by an external act, the

whole of this he does freely, and the whole of it is,

therefore, said to be absolutely contingent. Thus God freely

decreed to form the world, and did freely form it. And, in

this sense, all things are done contingently in respect to

the ]Divine decree; because no necessity exists why the

decree of God should be appointed, since it proceeds from his

own pure and free [or unconstrained] will.

Or, to express it in another form: That is called the simple

and absolute necessity of any effect, "when the cause

necessarily exists, necessarily operates, and employs that

power through which it is impossible for the thing not to

exist," [or through which it cannot but exist]. In the nature

of things, such an effect as this cannot be contemplated. For

the intellect of the Deity, by which he understands himself,

proceeds from a cause that necessarily exists and that

necessarily understands itself; but it does not proceed from

a cause which employs a power of action for such an


Under this consideration, the relative necessity of any event

is two-fold. FIRST. When a cause that necessarily exists, but

does not necessarily operate, uses a power of action that

cannot be resisted. Thus it being fixed, that "God, who is a

necessary being, wills to create a world by his omnipotence,"

a world must in that case necessarily come into existence.

SECONDLY. When a cause that does not necessarily exist and

yet necessarily operates, acts with such efficacy as is

impossible to be resisted by the matter or subject on which

it operates. Thus, straw is said to be necessarily burnt [or

consumed] by the fire, if it be cast into the flame. Because

it is impossible either for the fire to restrain its power of

burning so as not actually to burn, or for the straw to

resist the fire. But because God can prevent the fire from

burning any combustible matter that is brought near it or put

into it, this kind of necessity is called partial in respect

to the cause, and only according to the nature of the things

themselves and the mutual affection [or relation] between


When these matters have been thus explained, I could wish to

see what can possibly be said in opposition.lam desirous,

that we should in preference contend FOR THE NECESSITY OF GOD

ALONE, that is, for his necessary existence and for the

necessary production of his ad intra [internal] acts, and

that we should contend for the CONTINGENCY OF ALL OTHER

THINGS AND EFFECTS. Such a procedure on our part would

conduce far more to the glory of God; to whom by this method

would be attributed both the GLORY of his necessary

existence, that is, of his eternity, according to which it is

a pure act without [the exercise of] power, and the GLORY of

his free creation of all other things, by which also his

goodness becomes a supreme object of our commendation.


God has not by his eternal decree determined future and

contingent things to the one part or the other.


A calumny which lies concealed under ambiguous terms, is

capable of inflicting a deep injury with the greatest

security; but after such equivocal expressions are explained,

the slander is exposed, and loses all its force among men of

skill and experience.

The word "DETERMINED" is of this ambiguous description. For

it signifies (1.) either "the determination of God by which

he resolves that something shall be done; and when such a

determination is fixed, (by an action, motion and impulse of

God, of whatever kind it may be,) the second cause, both with

regard to its power and the use of that power, remains free

either to act or not to act, so that, if it be the pleasure

of this second cause, it can suspend [or defer] its own

action." Or it signifies (2.) "such a determination, as, when

once it is fixed, the second cause (at least in regard to the

use of its power,) remains no longer free so as to be able to

suspend its own action, when God's action, motion and impulse

have been fixed; but by this determination, it [the second

cause] is necessarily bent or inclined to the one course or

the other, all indifference to either part being completely

removed before this determined act be produced by a free and

unconstrained creature."

1. If the word "DETERMINED," in the article here proposed, be

interpreted according to this first method, far be it from me

to deny such a sort of Divine determination. For I am aware

that it is said, in the fourth chapter of the. Acts of the

Apostles, "Both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles

and the people of Israel, were gathered together against

Jesus, to do whatsoever God's hand and counsel determined

before (or previously appointed) to be done." But I also

know, that Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the Jews, freely

performed those very actions; and (notwithstanding this

"fore-determination of God," and though by his power every

Divine action, motion and impulse which was necessary for the

execution of this "fore-determination," were all fixed,) yet

it was possible for this act (the crucifixion of Christ,)

which had been "previously appointed" by God, not to be

produced by those persons, and they might have remained free

and indifferent to the performance of this action, up to the

moment of time in which they perpetrated the deed. Let the

narrative of the passion of our Lord be perused, and let it

be observed how the whole matter was conducted, by what

arguments Herod, Pontius Pilate and the Jews were moved and

induced, and the kind of administration [or management] that

was employed in the use of those arguments, and it will then

be evident, that it is the truth which I here assert.

2. But if the word "DETERMINED" be received according to the

second acceptation, I confess, that I abominate and detest

that axiom (as one that is FALSE, ABSURD, and preparing the

way for MANY BLASPHEMIES,) which, declares that "God by his

eternal decree has determined to the one part or to the other

future contingent things." By this last phrase understand

"those things which are performed by the free will of the


(1.) I execrate it as a FALSEHOOD: Because God in the

administration of his Providence conducts all things in such

a manner that when he is pleased to employ his creatures in

the execution of his decrees, he does not take away from them

their nature, natural properties or the use of them, but

allows them to perform and complete their own proper motions.

Were it otherwise, Divine Providence, which ought to be

accommodated to the creation, would be in direct opposition.

(2.) I detest it as AN ABSURDITY: Because it is contradictory

in the adjunct, that "something is done contingently," that

is, it is done in such a manner as makes it POSSIBLE not to

be done; and yet this same thing is determined to the one

part or the other in such a manner, as makes it IMPOSSIBLE to

leave undone that which has been determined to be done. What

the patrons of such a doctrine advance about "that liberty

not being taken away which belongs to the nature of the

creature," is not sufficient to destroy this contradiction:

Because it is not sufficient for the establishment of

contingency and liberty to have the presence of a power which

can freely act according to nature; but it is requisite that

the use and employment of that power and liberty should on no

account be impeded. What insanity therefore is it, [according

to the scheme of these men,] to confer at the creation a

power on the creature of acting freely or of suspending its

action, and yet to take away the use of such a power when the

liberty comes at length to be employed. That is, to grant it

when there is no use for it, but when it becomes both useful

and necessary, then in the very act to prevent the exercise

of its liberty. Let Tertullian against Marcion be examined,

(lib. ii. c. 5, 6, 7,) where he discusses this matter in a

most erudite and nervous manner. I yield my full assent to

all that he advances.


consider it impossible for any art or sophistry to prevent

this dogma concerning "such a previous determination" from

producing the following consequences: FIRST. It makes God to

be the author of sin, and man to be exempt from blame.

SECONDLY. It constitutes God as the real, proper and only

sinner: Because when there is a fixed law which forbids this

act, and when there is such "a fore-determination" as makes

it "impossible for this act not to be committed," it follows

as a natural consequence, that it is God himself who

transgresses the law, since he is the person who performs

this deed against the law. For though this be immediately

perpetrated by the creature, yet, with regard to it, the

creature cannot have any consideration of sin; because this

act was unavoidable on the part of man, after such "fore-

determination" had been fixed. THIRDLY. Because, according to

this dogma, God needed sinful man and his sin, for the

illustration of his justice and mercy. FOURTHLY. And, from

its terms, sin is no longer sin.

I never yet saw a refutation of those consequences which have

been deduced from this dogma by some other persons. I wish

such a refutation was prepared, at least that it would be

seriously attempted. When it is completed, if I am not able

to demonstrate, even then, that these objections of mine are

not removed, I will own myself to be vanquished, and will ask

pardon for my offense. Although I am not accustomed to charge

and oppress this sentiment [of theirs] with such consequences

before other people, yet I usually confess this single

circumstance, (and this, only when urged by necessity,) that

"I cannot possibly free their opinion from those objections."


Sufficient grace of the Holy Spirit is bestowed on those to

whom the gospel is preached, whosoever they may be; so that,

if they will, they may believe: otherwise, God would only be

mocking mankind.


At no time, either in public or in private, have I delivered

this proposition in these words, or in any expressions that

were of equivalent force, or that conveyed a similar meaning.

This assertion I confidently make, even though a great number

of persons might bear a contrary testimony. Because, unless

this Article received a modified explanation, I neither

approve of it at present, nor has it at any time obtained any

portion of my approval. Of this fact it is in my power to

afford evidence, from written conferences which I have had

with other people on the same subject.

In this Article there are three topics concerning which I am

desirous of giving a suitable explanation.

FIRST. Concerning the difference which subsists among the

persons to whom the gospel is preached. Frequent mention of

this difference is made in the scriptures, and particularly

in the following passages. "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of

heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the

wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." (Matt.

xi, 25.) The explanation of these words may be discovered in

1 Corinthians 1 and 2. "Into whatsoever city or town ye shall

enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye

go thence. And when ye come into a house, salute it. And if

the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it; but. if it

be not worthy, let your peace return to you." (Matt. x, 11-

13.) The Jews of Berea "were more noble than those in

Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all

readiness of mind," &c. (Acts xvii, 11.) "Pray for us, that

the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified,

even as it is with you; and that we may be delivered from

unreasonable and wicked men. For all men have not faith. But

the Lord is faithful," &c. (2 Thess. iii, 1, 2.)

SECONDLY. Concerning the bestowing of sufficient grace what

is to be understood by such a gift? It is well known, that

there is habitual grace, and [the grace of] assistance. Now

the phraseology of the article might be understood according

to this acceptation, as though some kind of habitual grace

were infused into all those to whom the gospel is preached,

which would render them apt or inclined to give it credence,

or believe the gospel. But this interpretation of the. phrase

is one of which I do not approve. But this SUFFICIENCY, after

all that is said about it, must, in my opinion, be ascribed

to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, by which he assists the

preaching of the gospel, as the organ, or instrument, by

which He, the Holy Spirit, is accustomed to be efficacious in

the hearts of the hearers. But it is possible to explain this

operation of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, in a manner

so modified and appropriate, and such sufficiency may be

ascribed to it, as to keep at the greatest possible distance

from Pelagianism.

THIRDLY. Concerning the expression, "By this grace they may

believe, if they will." These words, when delivered in such a

crude and undigested form, are capable of being brought to

bear a very bad interpretation, and a meaning not at all

agreeable to the scriptures, as though, after that power had

been bestowed, the Holy Spirit and Divine Grace remain

entirely quiescent, waiting to see whether the man will

properly use the power which he has received, and will

believe the gospel. When, on the contrary, he who wishes to

entertain and to utter correct sentiments on this subject,

will account it necessary to ascribe to Grace its own

province, which, indeed, is the principal one, in persuading

the human will that it may be inclined to yield assent to

those truths which are preached.

This exposition completely frees me from the slightest

suspicion of heresy on the point here mentioned; and proves

it to be a report not entitled to the least credit, that I

have employed such expressions, as I am unwilling to admit,

except with the addition of a sound and proper explanation.

In reference to the REASON which is appended to this

proposition, that, otherwise, God would only be mocking

mankind, I confess it to be a remark which several

adversaries employ against the opinion entertained by many of

our divines, to convict it of absurdity. And it is not used

without just cause, which might easily have been

demonstrated, had it pleased the inventors of these Articles,

(instead of ascribing them to me,) to occupy themselves in

openly declaring on this subject their own sentiments, which

they keep carefully concealed within their own bosoms.


The temporal afflictions of believers are not correctly

termed "CHASTISEMENTS," but are PUNISHMENTS for sins. For

Christ has rendered satisfaction only for eternal



This Article is attributed to me by a double and most

flagrant falsehood: the first of which will be found in the

Article itself, and the second in the reason appended.

1. Concerning the FIRST. Those who are mere novices in

Divinity know that the afflictions and calamities of this

animal life, are either punishments, chastisements, or

trials. That is, in sending them, God either intends

punishment for sins, in regard to their having been already

committed, and without any other consideration; or, He

intends chastisement, that those who are the subjects of it

may not afterwards fall into the commission of other or

similar offenses; or, in sending afflictions and calamities,

God purposes to try the faith, hope, charity, patience, and

the like conspicuous virtues and graces of his people. What

man would be so silly as to say, when the Apostles were

called before the Jewish Council, and were beaten with rods,

that "it was a PUNISHMENT!" although "they departed from the

presence of the Council, that they were counted worthy to

suffer shame for his name." (Acts v, 41.) Is not the

following expression of the Apostle familiar to every one?

"For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many

sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be

judged. But when we are judged, we are CHASTENED, (reproved

and instructed,) OF THE LORD, that we should not be condemned

with the world." (1 Cor. xi, 30-32.) By not reflecting on

these and similar passages of scripture, the persons who

attributed these articles to me betrayed their ignorance, as

well as their audacity. If they had bestowed the least

reflection upon such texts, by what strange infatuation of

mind has it happened, that they ascribe to me a sentiment

which is thus confuted by plain and obvious quotations from

the word of God?

On one occasion, when the subject of discussion was the

calamities inflicted on the house of David on account of

criminal conduct towards Uriah; and when the passages of

scripture which were adduced tended with great semblance of

truth to prove, that those calamities bore some relation to

PUNISHMENT, I stated, that "no necessity whatever existed for

as to allow ourselves to be brought into such straits by our

adversaries the Papists, from which we could with difficulty

escape; since the words appear to make against the opinion

which asserts that they have by no means any reference to

punishment. And because sin merits both an eternal punishment

corresponding with its grievous enormity, and a temporal

punishment, (if indeed God be pleased to inflict the latter,

which is not always his practice even with respect to those

who persevere in their transgressions, as may be seen in

Psalm 73, and Job 21,) it might, not unseasonably, be said,

that, after God has pardoned the guilt so far as it is

meritorious of eternal punishment, he reserves or retains it

in reference to temporal punishment." And I shewed, that,

"from these premises, no patronage could be obtained for the

Popish dogma of a Purgatory," which was the subject of that


2. With regard to the REASON appended, it is supported by the

same criminal falsehood as the preceding part of the Article,

and with no less absurdity of object, as I will demonstrate.

For I affirm, in the first place, that this expression at no

time escaped from my lips, and that such a thought never

entered my imagination. My opinion on this subject is,

"Christ is our Redeemer and saviour from sins, which merit

both temporal and eternal death; and He delivers us not only

from death eternal, but from death temporal, which is the

separation of the soul from the body." But it is amazing,

that this opinion "Christ has rendered satisfaction for

temporal punishments alone," could possibly have been

attributed to me by men of discretion, when the scriptures

expressly declare, "Christ was also a partaker of flesh and

blood, that, through death, he might destroy him that had the

power of death, that is, the devil." (Heb. ii, 14.) By the

term DEATH in this place must be understood either "the death

of the body alone," or "that in conjunction with eternal

death. "The Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy

the works of the devil." (1 John iii, 8.) And among those

works to be destroyed, we must reckon death temporal. For "by

the envy of the devil, death entered into the world." In

another passage it is said, "For since by man came death, by

MAN came also the resurrection of the dead;" this man is

Christ. (1 Cor. xv, 21.) "Christ shall change our vile body,

that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,

according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue

all things unto himself." (Phil. iii, 21.) The greatest

necessity exists for that man to become conversant with the

scriptures, who denies, that "by the death, of Christ we are

redeemed from temporal death, and obtain a right and title to

a happy resurrection."

The following is an affirmation which I have made: "We are

not actually delivered from temporal death, except by the

resurrection from the dead, through which our last enemy,

death, will be destroyed. These two truths, therefore, are,

in my judgment, to be considered and taught, (1.) Christ, by

his death, immediately took away from death the authority or

right which he had over us, that of detaining us under his

power, even as it was not possible that Christ himself should

be holden by t]he bonds [pains] of death. (Acts ii, 24.) But

(2.) Christ will in his own time deliver us from its actual

dominion, according to the administration or appointment of

God, whose pleasure it is to concede to the soul an early

period of liberation, and to the body one that is later."

But, I confess, that I cannot with an unwavering conscience

assert, and therefore, dare not do it as if it were an object

of certain knowledge, that temporal death, which is imposed

or inflicted on the saints, is not a punishment, or has no

regard to punishment," when it is styled "an ENEMY that is to

be destroyed" by the Omnipotence of Christ.

The contrary opinion to this is not proved by the argument,

that "our corporeal death is a passage into eternal life:"

because it is a passage of the soul, and not of the body; the

latter of which, while it remains buried in the earth, is

held under the dominion of death. Nor is it established by

the remark that "the saints long for the death of the body."

(Phil. i, 21, 23.) For when they "have a desire to be

dissolved [to depart] and be with Christ," that desire is

according to the soul; the body in the mean time remaining

under the dominion of death its enemy, until it likewise,

(after being again united to its own soul,) be glorified with

it. The address of Christ to Peter may also be stated in

opposition: "When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth

thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee

whither thou wildest not. This spake he, signifying by what

death he should glorify God." (John xxi, 19.)

The framers of these articles, therefore, have imputed this

opinion to me, not only without truth, but without a

sufficient sanction from their own discretion. Of this

weakness of their judgment I observe, in this Article, other

two tokens:

FIRST. They do not distinguish between the magnitude of each

error in a proper manner. For he falls into a far greater

error who DENIES, that "Christ has rendered satisfaction for

corporeal punishments," that is, for the punishment of death

temporal, than is his who ASSENTS, that "the death of the

body has regard to punishment, since it is inflicted even on

holy persons." But they have placed the latter error as the

proposition; and the former one is brought, as a reason, for

its confirmation. When they ought to have adopted an opposite

mode of stating them, according to the relative estimate of

each of these errors thus, "Christ has rendered satisfaction

for eternal punishment alone. Therefore, the temporal

afflictions of believers are not correctly called

chastisements, but are punishments for sins."

SECONDLY. Because they make me employ an argument, which I

cannot discover to be possessed of any force towards proving

the proposition. For I grant, that Christ has rendered

satisfaction even for temporal punishments; and yet I say,

"It may likewise be true that temporal death has a reference

to PUNISHMENT, even when it is inflicted on believers."

THIRDLY. From these considerations, a third mark of an

inconstant and wavering judgment discovers itself. For when

they employ this mode of argumentation, "Christ has liberated

us from temporal punishments. Therefore our death cannot have

any respect to punishment," they do not perceive that I might

with equal facility draw from the same premises the following

conclusion, "Therefore, it is not equitable that the saints

should die a temporal death." My method of reasoning is

[direct] a re ad rem, from subject to subject, "Because

Christ has borne the death of the body, it is not to be borne

by us." Their method is [relative] a re ad respectum rei,

from the subject to its relation, thus, "Because Christ has

borne the death of the body, it is indeed inflicted on us,

but not so as to have any reference to punishment."

God will himself approve and verify this argument a re ad

rem, from subject to subject, by the effect which He will

give to it at some future period. But the argument will be

prepared and stated in a legitimate form, thus, "Christ has

borne the death of the body; and, (secondly,) has taken it

away, which fact is apparent from his resurrection.

Therefore, God will take away death from us in his own good



It cannot be proved from Scripture, that believers under the

Old Testament, before the ascension of Christ, were in



I never taught such a doctrine as this in public, and I never

asserted it affirmatively in private. I recollect, however,

that I said, on one occasion, to a minister of God's word, in

reference to a sermon which he had then delivered, "there are

many passages of Scripture which seem to prove, that

believers under the Old Testament, before the ascension of

Christ, were not in Heaven." I produced some of those

passages, against which he had little to object. But I added,

that I thought it could not now be propounded with much

usefulness to any church that held a contrary opinion; but

that, after it has been diligently examined and found to be

true, it may be taught with profit to the church and to the

glory of Christ, when the minds of men have been duly

prepared. I am still of the same opinion. But, about the

matter itself, I affirm nothing on either side. I perceive

that each of these views of the subject has arguments in its

favour, not only in passages of scripture and in conclusions

deduced from them, but likewise in the sentiments of divines.

Having investigated all of them to the best of my ability, I

confess that I hesitate, and declare that neither view seems

to me to be very evident [or to have the preponderance.] In

this opinion I have the assent of a vast majority of divines,

especially those of our own age. Most of the Christian

Fathers place the souls of the Patriarchs under the Old

Testament beyond or out of Heaven, either in the lower

regions, in Purgatory, or in some other place, which yet is

situated out of the verge of what is properly called Heaven.

With St. Augustine, therefore, "I prefer doubting about

secret things, to litigation about those which are

uncertain." Nor is there the least necessity. For why should

I, in these our days, when Christ, by his ascension into

Heaven, having become our Forerunner, hath opened for us a

way and entrance into that holy place, why should I now

contend about the place in which the souls of the Fathers

rested in the times of the Old Testament?

But lest, as is usual in my case, a calumnious report should

be raised on the consequences to be deduced from this

opinion, as though I was favourable to the Popish dogma of a

Purgatory, or as though I approach nearly to those who think

that the souls of the dead sleep or have slept, or, which is

the worst of all, as though I seem to identify myself with

those who say, "the Fathers were like swine that were fed and

fattened without any hope of a better life," lest such

reports as these should be fabricated, I will openly declare

what my opinion is about the state of the Fathers prior to

Christ's ascension into Heaven. (1.) I believe that human

souls are immortal, that is, they will never die. (2.) From

this I deduce, that souls do not sleep. (3.) That, after this

life, a state of felicity or of misery is opened for all men,

into the one or the other of which they enter immediately on

their departure out of this world. (4.) That the souls of the

Fathers, who passed their days of sojourning on earth in

faith and in waiting for the Redeemer, departed into a place

of quiet, joy, and blessedness, and began to enjoy the

blissful presence of God, as soon as they escaped out of the

body. (5.) I dare not venture to determine where that place

of quiet is situated, whether in Heaven, properly so called,

into which Christ ascended, or somewhere out of it. If any

other person be more adventurous on this subject, I think he

ought to be required to produce reasons for his opinion, or

be enjoined to keep silence. (6.) I add, that, in my opinion,

the felicity of those souls was much increased by the

ascension of Christ into Heaven, and that it will be fully

consummated after the resurrection of the body, and when all

the members of the Church universal are introduced into


I know certain passages of Scripture which are produced, as

proofs that the souls of the Old Testament Saints have been

in Heaven. (1.) "The spirit shall return unto God who gave

it." (Eccl. xii, 7.) But this expression must either be

understood in reference to all the spirits of men of every

description, and thus will afford no assistance to this

argument; or, if it be understood as relating to the souls of

good men alone, it does not even then follow, that, because

"the spirit returns unto God," it ascends into Heaven

property so called. I prefer, however, the former mode of

interpretation, a return to God the Creator and the Preserver

of spirits, and the Judge of the deeds done in the body. (2.)

Enoch is said to have been taken to God, (Gen. v, 24) and

Elijah to have ascended by a whirlwind into Heaven. (2 Kings

ii, 11.) But, beside the fact of these examples being out of

the common order, it does not follow of course that because

Enoch was taken to God, he was translated into the highest

heaven. For the word "Heaven" is very wide in its

signification. The same observation applies to Elijah. See

Peter Martyr and Vatablus on 2 Kings ii, 13. (3.) "Christ is

now become the first fruits of them that slept." (1 Cor. xv,

20.) This would not appear to be correct, if Enoch and Elijah

ascended into the highest Heaven, clothed in bodies endued

with immortality. (4.) "Lazarus was carried by the angels

into Abraham's bosom," where he enjoyed consolation. (Luke

xvi, 22.) But it is not proved, that Heaven itself is

described by the term, "Abraham's bosom." It is intimated,

that Lazarus was gathered into the bosom of his father

Abraham, in which he might rest in hope of a full

beatification in Heaven itself, which was to be procured by

Christ. For this reason the Apostle, after the ascension of

Christ into Heaven, "had a desire to be with Christ." (Phil.

i, 23.) (5.) "Many shall come from the East and the West, and

shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom

of Heaven." (Matt. viii, 11.) But it does not thence follow,

that the Fathers have been in Heaven, properly so called,

before they, who are to be called from among the Gentiles,

sit down with them. (6.) It appears from Matthew 25, that

there are only two places, one destined for the pious, the

other for the wicked. But it does not hence necessarily

follow, that the place destined for the pious has always been

Heaven supreme. There have never been more places, because

there have never been more states. But it is not necessary,

that they should always be the same places without any

change. The authority of this declaration is preserved

inviolate, provided a third place be never added to the

former two. (7.) "The reward" which awaits the pious "in

heaven," is said to be "great." (Matt. v, 12.) Let this be

granted. Therefore, [will some reasoner say,] they must

instantly after death be translated into the supreme heaven."

This does not necessarily follow. For it is well known, that

the Scriptures have in these promises a reference to the

period which immediately succeeds the last judgment,

according to the following expression: "Behold I come

quickly, and my reward is with me." The spouse replies, "Even

so come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. xxii, 12, 20) In the same manner

must be understood that passage in Luke, "They may receive

you into everlasting habitations;" (Luke xvi, 9;) that is,

after the last judgment, at least after [the ascension of]

Christ, whose office it was to prepare those mansions for his

people. (John xiv, 2.) (8.) "The Fathers are said to have

been justified by the same faith as we are." (Acts xiii, 33.)

I acknowledge this. "Therefore they have always been in

Heaven even before [the ascension of] Christ, and we shall be

after Him." This is not a necessary consequence. For there

are degrees in glorification. Nor is it at all wonderful, if

they be said to be rendered more blessed and glorious after

the ascension of Christ into Heaven. (9.) "But Jesus said to

the malefactor, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise."

(.Luke xxiii, 43.) I reply, FIRST, It is not necessary that

by "Paradise" should here be understood the third heaven, or

the eternal abode of the blessed. For it denotes in general a

place of felicity. SECONDLY, St. Chrysostom says, the

crucified thief was the first person whose spirit entered

into heaven. Yet he did not ascend there before Christ, nor

before the vail of the temple had been rent in twain."

But to these passages is opposed that admirable dispensation

or economy of God, which is distinguished according to the

times preceding Christ, and those which followed. Of this

dispensation the temple at Jerusalem was an illustrious

[exemplar] pattern. For its external part, by means of an

interposing vail, was separated and divided from that in

which the priests daily appeared, and which was called "The

Holy of Holies," in contradistinction to that which is called

"The Sanctuary," (Heb. ix, 2, 3.) Heaven itself is designated

by "The Holy of Holies" in Heb. ix, 24. It was shut as long

as the former tabernacle stood, and until Christ entered into

it by his own blood. (Heb. ix, 8-12.) It was his province as

"our Forerunner" to precede us, that we also might be able to

enter into those things which are within the vail. (Heb. vi,

19.) For this purpose it was necessary that liberty should be

granted to us of "entering into the Holiest by the blood of

Jesus, by that new and living way which he hath consecrated

for us through the vail, that is to say, his flesh." (Heb. x,

19, 20.) On this account the ancient worthies, who, "through

faith have" most evidently "gained this testimony that they

pleased God," are said, "not to have received or obtained the

promise; God having provided some better thing for us," who

follow Christ, "that they without us should not be made

perfect." (Heb. xi, 40.) These passages of scripture, and a

view of the dispensation which they describe, are among the

principal reasons why I cannot give my assent to the opinion

which affirms, that the Fathers have been in Heaven properly

so called.

But, that our brethren may not so highly blame me, I will

oppose to them one or two of the approved divines of our

church. CALVIN, in his INSTITUTES," (lib. iv, c. 1, s. 12,)

says: "For what churches would dissent from each other on

this account alone -- that one of them, without any of the

licentiousness of contention or the obstinacy of assertion,

holds the opinion that souls, when they leave their bodies,

soar up to Heaven; while another church does not venture to

define anything about the place, but only maintains with

certainty that they still live in the Lord." Peruse also the

following passage in his "Institutes," (lib. iii, c. 25, s.

6.) "Many persons torment themselves by disputing about the

place which departed souls occupy, and whether they be now in

the enjoyment of heavenly glory or not. But it is foolish and

rash to inquire about things unknown, more deeply than God

permits us to know them." Behold, Calvin here says, that it

is frivolous to contend whether the souls of the dead already

enjoy celestial glory or not; and, in his judgment, it ought

not to be made a subject of contention. Yet I am condemned,

or at least am accused, because I dare not positively affirm

"that the souls of the Fathers before Christ, were in Heaven,

properly so called." PETER MARTYR proceeds still further, and

is bold enough to assert, in his observations on 2 Kings ii,

13, "that the souls of the Fathers before Christ, were not in

Heaven properly so called." He says, "Now if I be asked, to

what place were Enoch and Elijah translated? I will say

simply that I do not know, because that circumstance is not

delivered in the divine volume. Yet if we might follow a very

probable analogy, I would say, they were conducted to the

place of the Fathers, or into Abraham's bosom, that they

might there pass their time with the blessed Patriarchs in

expectation of the resurrection of Christ, and that they

might afterwards be elevated above the Heavens with Him when

he was raised up again." Where it is to be noted, that Martyr

entertains doubts concerning Enoch and Elijah, but speaks

decisively about those who are in Abraham's bosom, that is,

about the Fathers, "that they were raised up above the

heavens with Christ at his resurrection." This likewise

appears from what he mentions a little afterwards. With

regard to that sublime ascension, we grant that no one

enjoyed it before Christ. Enoch, therefore, and Elijah went

to the Fathers, and there with them waited for Christ, upon

whom, in company with the rest, they were attendants when he

entered into heaven." See also BULLINGER on Luke xvi, 23;

Heb. ix, 8; 1 Pet. iii, 19.

From the preceding explanation and extracts, I have, I think,

rendered it evident, that not only had I just causes for

being doubtful concerning this matter, but that I likewise

ought not therefore to be blamed, even though I had uttered

what they here charge upon me as an error; nay, what is still

more, that I ought to be tolerated had I simply asserted,

"that the souls of the Fathers were not in Heaven prior to

the ascension of Christ to that blissful abode."


It is a matter of doubt, whether believers under the Old

Testament understood that the legal ceremonies were types of

Christ and of his benefits.


I do not remember to have said this at any time: nay, I am

conscious that I have never said it, because I never yet

durst utter any such expression. But I have said, that an

inquiry not altogether unprofitable might be instituted, "how

far the ancient Jews understood the legal ceremonies to be

types of Christ?" At least I feel myself well assured, that

they did not understand those ceremonies, as we do to whom

the mystery of the Gospel is revealed. Nor do I suppose that

any one will venture to deny this. But I wish our brethren

would take upon themselves the task of proving, that

believers under the Old Testament understood the legal

ceremonies to be types of Christ and his benefits. For they

not only know that this opinion of theirs is called in

question by some persons, but that it is likewise confidently

denied. Let them make the experiment, and they will perceive

how difficult an enterprise they have undertaken. For the

passages which seem to prove their proposition, are taken

away from them in such a specious manner by their

adversaries, that a man who is accustomed to yield assent to

those things alone which are well supported by proofs, may be

easily induced to doubt whether the believers under the Old

Testament had any knowledge of this matter; especially if he

consider, that, according to Gal. iv, 3, the whole of the

ancient [Jewish] Church was in a state of infancy or

childhood, and therefore possessed only the understanding of

a child. Whether an infant be competent to perceive in these

corporal things the spiritual things which are signified by

them, let those decide who are acquainted with that passage,

"When I was a child, I understood as a child." (1 Cor. xiii,

11.) Let those passages also be inspected which, we will

venture to say, have a typical signification, because we have

been taught so to view them by Christ and his Apostles; and

it will be seen whether they be made so plain and obvious,

as, without the previous interpretation of the Messiah, to

have enabled us to understand them according to their

spiritual meaning. It is said, (John viii, 56,) "Abraham saw

the day of Christ, and was glad." Those who are of a contrary

sentiment, interpret this passage as if it was to be

understood by a metonymy, because, Abraham saw the day of

Isaac, who was a type of Christ, and therefore his day was

"the day of Christ." It is an undoubted fact, that no mention

is made in the scriptures of any other rejoicing than of

this. The faith of Abraham and its object occupy nearly the

whole of the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. Let

what is there said be compared together; and let it be

demonstrated from this comparison, that Abraham saw Christ in

those promises which he apprehended by faith. Who would

understand "the sign of Jonah," to have been instituted to

typify the three days in which Christ remained in the bowels

of the earth, unless Christ had himself given that

explanation? What injury does this opinion produce, since

those who hold it do not deny, that the Fathers were saved by

the infantile faith which they possessed? For an infant is as

much the heir of his father's property, as an adult son.

Should any one say, it follows as a necessary consequence,

that "the Fathers were saved without faith in Christ." I

reply, the faith which has respect to the salvation of God

that has been promised by him, and "waits for the redemption

of Israel," understood under a general notion, is "faith in

Christ," according to the dispensation of that age. This is

easily perceived from the following passages: "I have waited

for thy salvation, or thy saving mercy, O Lord! (Gen. xlix,

18.) "And the same man, (Simeon,) was just and devout,

waiting for the consolation of Israel." (Luke ii, 25.) In the

same chapter it is said, "Anna, a prophetess, spake of him to

all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."

But if we consider the "faith in Christ," which is that of

the New Testament, and which has regard to Him as a Spiritual

and Heavenly King, who bestows upon his followers those

celestial benefits which he has procured for them by his

passion and death; then a greater difficulty will hence

arise. What man ever received more promises concerning the

Messiah than David, or who has prophesied more largely about

Him? Yet any one may with some show of reason, entertain

doubts, whether David really understood that the Messiah

would be a Spiritual and Heavenly Monarch; for when he seemed

to be pouring out his whole soul before the Lord, (2 Sam. 7,)

he did not suffer a single word to escape that might indicate

the bent of his understanding to this point, which,

nevertheless, would have been of great potency in magnifying

Jehovah and in confirming his own confidence.

The knowledge which all Israel had of the Messiah and of his

kingdom, in the days when Christ was himself on earth,

appears not only from the Pharisees and the whole of the

populace, but also from his own disciples after they had for

three years and more enjoyed constant opportunities of

communication with him, and had heard from his own lips

frequent and open mention of the kingdom of Heaven. Nay, what

is still more wonderful, immediately after the resurrection

of Christ from the dead, they did not even then comprehend

his meaning. (Luke xxiv, 21-25.) From this, it seems, we must

say, either "that the knowledge which they formerly possessed

had gradually died away," or "that the Pharisees, through

their hatred against Jesus, had corrupted that knowledge."

But neither of these assertions appears to be at all

probable. (1.) The former is not; because the nearer those

times were to the Messiah, the clearer were the prophecies

concerning him, and the more manifest the apprehension of

them. And this for a good reason, because it then began to be

still more necessary for men to believe that person to be the

Messiah, or at least the time was fast approaching in which

such a faith would become necessary. (2.) The latter is not

probable; because the Pharisees conceived that hatred against

him on account of his preaching and miracles. But it was at

the very commencement of his office that he called into his

service those twelve disciples. There are persons, I am

aware, who produce many things from the Rabbinical writers of

that age, concerning the spiritual kingdom of Christ; but I

leave those passages to the authors of them, because it is

out of my power to pronounce a decision on the subject.

While I have been engaged in the contemplation of this topic,

and desirous to prove from the preceding prophecies, that the

kingdom of Christ the Messiah, was to be spiritual, no small

difficulty has arisen, especially after consulting most of

those who have written upon it. Let those who on this point

do not allow any one to indulge in a single doubt, try an

experiment. Let them exhibit a specimen of the arguments by

which they suppose their doctrine can be proved, even in this

age, which is illuminated with the light of the New

Testament. I will engage, that, after this experiment, they

will not pass such a sinister judgment on those who confess

to feel some hesitation about this point.

These observations have been adduced by me, not with the

design of denying that the opinion of the brethren on this

matter is true, much less for the purpose of confuting it.

But I adduce them, to teach others to bear with the weakness

of that man who dares not act the part of a dogmatist on this



Christ has died for all men and for every individual.


This assertion was never made by me, either in public or

private, except when it was accompanied by such an

explanation as the controversies which are excited on this

subject have rendered necessary. For the phrase here used

possesses much ambiguity. Thus it may mean either that "the

price of the death of Christ was given for all and for every

one," or that "the redemption, which was obtained by means of

that price, is applied and communicated to all men and to

every one." (1.) Of this latter sentiment I entirely

disapprove, because God has by a peremptory decree resolved,

that believers alone should be made partakers of this

redemption. (2.) Let those who reject the former of these

opinions consider how they can answer the following

scriptures, which declare, that Christ died for all men; that

He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; (1

John ii, 2;) that He took away the sin of the world; (John i,

29;) that He gave his flesh for the life of the world; (John

vi, 51;) that Christ died even for that man who might be

destroyed with the meat of another person; (Rom. xiv, 15;)

and that false teachers make merchandise even of those who

deny the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves

swift destruction; (2 Pet. ii, 1, 3.) He therefore who speaks

thus, speaks with the Scriptures; while he who rejects such

phraseology, is a daring man, one who sits in judgment on the

Scriptures and is not an interpreter of them. But he who

explains those passages agreeably to the analogy of faith,

performs the duty of a good interpreter and prophesier [or

preacher] in the Church of God.

All the controversy, therefore, lies in the interpretation.

The words themselves ought to be simply approved, because

they are the words of Scripture. I will now produce a passage

or two from Prosper of Aquitain, to prove that this

distinction was even in his time employed: "He who says that

the saviour was not crucified for the redemption of the whole

world, has regard, not to the virtue of the sacrament, but to

the case of unbelievers, since the blood of Jesus Christ is

the price paid for the whole world. To that precious ransom

they are strangers, who, either being delighted with their

captivity, have no wish to be redeemed, or, after they have

been redeemed, return to the same servitude." (Sent. 4, super

cap. Gallorum.) In another passage he says, "With respect

both to the magnitude and potency of the price, and with

respect to the one general cause of mankind, the blood of

Christ is the redemption of the whole world. But those who

pass through this life without the faith of Christ, and

without the sacrament of regeneration, are utter strangers to

redemption." Such is likewise the concurrent opinion of all

antiquity. This is a consideration to which I wish to obtain

a little more careful attention from many persons, that they

may not so easily fasten the crime of novelty on him who says

anything which they had never before heard, or which was

previously unknown to them.


Original Sin will condemn no man.

In every nation, all infants who die without [having

committed] actual sins, are saved.


These articles are ascribed to Borrius. To augment their

number, they have made them two, when one would have been

sufficient, from which the other necessarily follows, even

according to their own opinion. For if "original sin condemns

no one," it is a necessary consequence that "all those will

be saved who have not themselves committed actual

transgressions." Of this class are all infants without

distinction; unless some one will invent a state between

salvation and damnation, by a folly similar to that by which,

according to St. Augustine, Pelagius made a distinction

between salvation and the kingdom of heaven.

But Borrius denies having ever publicly taught either the one

or the other. He conferred indeed in private on this subject,

with some candidates for Holy Orders: and he considers that

it was not unlawful for him so to do, or to hold such an

opinion, under the influence of reasons which he willingly

submits to the examination of his brethren; who, when they

have confuted them, may teach him more correct doctrine, and

induce him to change his opinion. His reasons are the


1. Because God has taken the whole human race into the grace

of reconciliation, and has entered into a covenant of grace

with Adam, and with the whole of his posterity in him. In

which he promises the remission of all sins to as many as

stand steadfastly, and deal not treacherously, in that

covenant. But God not only entered into it with Adam, but

also afterwards renewed it with Noah, and at length confirmed

and perfected it through Christ Jesus. And since infants have

not transgressed this covenant, they do not seem to be

obnoxious to condemnation; unless we maintain, that God is

unwilling to treat with infants, who depart out of this life

before they arrive at adult age, on that gracious condition

under which, notwithstanding, they are also comprehended as

parties to the covenant; and therefore that their condition

is much worse than that of adults, to whom is tendered the

remission of all sins, not only of that which they

perpetrated in Adam, but likewise, of those which they have

themselves personally committed. The condition of infants,

however is, in this case, much worse, by no fault or demerit

of their own, but because it was God's pleasure thus to act

towards them. From these premises it would follow, that it

was the will of God to condemn them for the commission of

sin, before He either promised or entered into a covenant of

grace; as though they had been excluded and rejected from

that covenant by a previous decree of God, and as though the

promise concerning the saviour did not at all belong to them.

2. When Adam sinned in his own person and with his free will,

God pardoned that transgression. There is no reason then why

it was the will of God to impute this sin to infants, who are

said to have sinned in Adam, before they had any personal

existence, and therefore, before they could possibly sin at

their own will and pleasure.

3. Because, in this instance, God would appear to act towards

infants with far more severity than towards the very devils.

For the rigor of God against the apostate angels was extreme,

because he would not pardon the crime which they had

perpetrated. There is the same extreme rigor displayed

against infants, who are condemned for the sin of Adam. But

it is much greater; for all the [evil] angels sinned in their

own persons, while infants sinned in the person of their

first father Adam. On this account, the angels themselves

were in fault, because they committed an offense which it was

possible for them to avoid; while infants were not in fault,

only so far as they existed in Adam, and were by his will

involved in sin and guilt.

These reasons are undoubtedly of such great importance, that

I am of opinion those who maintain the contrary are bound to

confute them, before they can affix to any other person a

mark of heresy. I am aware, that they place antiquity in

opposition, because [they say] its judgment was in their

favour. Antiquity, however, cannot be set up in opposition by

those who, on this subject, when the salvation of infants is

discussed, are themselves unwilling to abide by the judgment

of the ancients. But our brethren depart from antiquity, on

this very topic, in two ways:

(1.) Antiquity maintains, that all infants who depart out of

this life without having been baptized, would be damned; but

that such as were baptized and died before they attained to

adult age, would be saved. St. Augustine asserts this to be

the Catholic doctrine in these words: "If you wish to be a

Catholic, be unwilling to believe, declare, or teach, that

infants who are prevented by death from being baptized, can

attain to the remission of original sins." (De anima et ejus

Orig., lib. 3, cap. 9.) To this doctrine our brethren will by

no means accede; but they contradict both parts of it.

(2.) Antiquity maintains that the grace of baptism takes away

original sin, even from those who have not been

predestinated; according to this passage from Prosper of

Aquitain: "That man is not a Catholic who says, that the

grace of baptism, when received, does not take away original

sin from those who have not been predestinated to life." (Ad

Cap. Gallorum, Sent. 2.) To this opinion also our brethren

strongly object. But it does not appear equitable, that,

whenever it is agreeable to themselves, they should be

displeased with those who dissent from them, because they

dissent from the Fathers; and again, that, whenever it is

their good pleasure, the same parties do themselves dissent

from the Fathers on this very subject.

But with respect to the sentiments of the ancient Christian

Fathers, about the damnation of the unbaptized solely on

account of original sin, they and their successors seem to

have mitigated, or at least, to have attempted to soften down

such a harsh opinion. For some of them have declared, "that

the unbaptized would be in the mildest damnation of all;" and

others, "that they would be afflicted, not with the

punishment of feeling, but only with that of loss." To this

last opinion some of them have added, "that this punishment

would be inflicted on them without any stings from their own

consciences." Though it is a consequence of not being

baptized, that the parties are said to endure only the

punishment of loss, and not that of feeling; yet this feeling

exists wherever the stings or gnawings of conscience exists,

that is, where the gnawing worm never dies. But let our

brethren consider what species of damnation that is which is

inflicted on account of sin, and from which no gnawing

remorse proceeds.

From these observations, thus produced, it is apparent what

opinion ought to be formed of the Fourteenth Article. It is

at least so dependent on the Thirteenth, that it ought not to

have been composed as a separate article, by those who

maintain that there is no cause why infants should perish,

except original sin which they committed in Adam, or which

they received by propagation from Adam. But it is worth the

trouble to see, on this subject, what were the sentiments of

Dr. Francis Junius, who a few years ago was Professor of

Divinity in this our University. He affirms, that "all

infants who are of the covenant and of election, are saved;"

but he presumes, in charity, that "those infants whom God

calls to himself, and timely removes out of this miserable

vale of sins, are rather saved." (De Natura et Gratia, R.

28.) Now, that which this divine either "affirms according to

the doctrine of faith," or "presumes through charity," may

not another man be allowed, without the charge of heresy, to

hold within his own breast as a matter of opinion, which he

is not in the least solicitous to obtrude on others or

persuade them to believe? Indeed, "this accepting of men's

persons" is far too prevalent, and is utterly unworthy of

wise men. And what inconvenience, I pray, results from this

doctrine? Is it supposed to follow as a necessary consequence

from it, that, if the infants of unbelievers are saved, they

are saved without Christ and his intervention?. Borrius,

however, denies any such consequence, and has Junius

assenting with him on this subject. If the brethren dissent

from this opinion, and think that the consequences which they

themselves deduce are agreeable to the premises, then all the

children of unbelievers must be subject to condemnation, the

children of unbelievers, I repeat, who are "strangers from

the covenant." For this conclusion no other reason can be

rendered, than their being the children of those who are

"strangers from the covenant." From which it seems, on the

contrary, to be inferred, that all the children of those who