Chapter 5


Some use of the foregoing Doctrine is next to follow to what hath already been laid down. If the Image of God lies in Christ, and not in God’s Attributes, then to speak of any Attributes in God’s Essence, stamping their immediate Likeness in Qualities upon Man, is, if sifted to the bottom, a very blind and inconsistent Notion, derogatory to the Incommunicable Nature of God, and hath given some Countenance, I fear, to the Wild Opinions of deriving the Nature of God to and upon Creatures. The Notions of a Communicable Godhead were too probably founded upon the Notion of Communicable Attributes.

These dangerous Conceits were of Old introduced by the Heretical Gnostics, and Valentinians {so a kin, that some do not hesitate to say they were both one;} by the Manichees and Priscillianists; as also by Caelestius, a disciple of Pelagius; and of late, by Michael Servetus, Schwenckfeld and Weigelius; yea, have descended to the bold Blasphemies of some of our English Enthusiasts, that taught a being godded with God.

I verily believe, that arrogant Intrusion of venturing upon God’s Essence so on all Occasions, as the immediate Subject of their Notion of image in Qualities, without the Mediator, to derive all Fulness, as well as that which hath been Communicated to upright Nature, as since from Christ alone in God, and so from God through him, by the Grace of the Gospel, hath been an inlet to many Heresies, which yet some of the Corrupters of such texts {at least unwary expositors} heretofore and since, have strenuously appeared against. But this is like pulling down the Banks, and then calling in Help to stop the Flood, and drain the places over-flowed.

Christ is Nature’s Fulness, as well as the Gospel’s. He lightens every man with natural Understanding that cometh into the World, Jn.1:9, and that as Christ is God’s Image. It was in this Image Adam was created; and it hath pleased the Father that all Fulness should dwell in Christ, Col.1:19, and there the Creatures are all brought in before it, and so it must be Creature-Fulness in Nature, as well as Gospel-Fulness in the Grace of God. There is nothing of God Communicable to us, or to any Creature in Heaven or Earth, out of Christ’s Fulness, either of Nature, or Grace, or Glory. I have shown how it holds so even of the blessed Angels.

The common Notion therefore of Communicable Attributes in God, without regard to Christ in God, who is the Image of God, is naught. What is Communicated is after his Likeness, Christ. God is neither Image nor Quality. Christ-Wisdom was made both from Everlasting.

Again, it hath been Men’s not receiving the Truth of Christ’s standing in the Predestinating Love and Covenant-Settlements of God from Everlasting, so plainly revealed in the Word, that hath been the cause of their going to work so unprofitably, even among the Elect, in the other parts of divinity. Their not interposing Wisdom-Mediator in the Doctrine of God and the Trinity hath been of ruinous Consequence to a great part of the Gospel. To begin thus with God out of Christ, when God himself would not begin without Him, no, not without him as the Christ in the very Creation, nor so much as in the antecedent Purposes of Creation, must needs be to go on with Babel-work, rather than Zion-work, and to see the End of it Confusion, if not an utter destruction to the Gospel of Christ.

Such an early neglect of Christ in his Preeminence, as Men in all Ages since the Apostles Days have been guilty of, must needs prepare the very Throne of Antichrist. For if in all things the Lord Christ was to have the Preeminence, Col.1:18, and God did not take a step without him, what a deviation hath been introduced from the Pattern, when men have undertaken to go quite through the Knowledge of God without him. And hence upon the Throne of Christ, how easy hath it been to set up the Throne of Antichrist! Whereas, in the Gospel, the Knowledge of God and the Knowledge of Jesus Christ are closely linked together. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” {Jn.17:3} It hath been the pleasing unhappiness of Men who have all along aimed to know God {and I may put enough of the Practicals in, to serve him} by a neglect of the Mediator. Their naked Converse has been with Father, Son, and Spirit, in Essence and Attributes in the Trinity, and yet the Glory-Man that stood in the Love of God the Father from everlasting, never put on upon men’s Thoughts and Studies, when they have girt themselves for the Study of an Infinite Being!

The Article and Chapter of the Trinity ought not to stand as Men have set it; for, as they have laid it, it is very remote from the evangelical Revelation of God in Christ. {The Article of the Trinity and that of the Mediator stand too far asunder, as Men have placed them in their Bodies of Divinity.} Rather, the whole Chapter, or chapters ought to be taken in pieces, and new mended in the Systematical Draughts thereof. It should be inwrought with, by, and through Christ as Christ, and then it would be an Article both approachable by the Believer, whilst the Man was a hiding Place, Isa.32:2, covering the Soul as in the Cleft of a Rock, Exod.33:22, whilst this glorious Majesty passed by, and likewise serviceable to the Christian Religion.

Do men think to study and know the God and Father of all Things other than in the new and living Way? Heb.10:20. They must study God in the Way by which he is our God and our Father. Gal.1:4. Do men believe they can study the Son out of the Mediator? And know the Holy Ghost in his Person without any Relation to his Office? What if I were able to argue the former against a Macedonian, an Arian, a Socinian, if I did it without any thoughts of his Relation to Christ in the latter, whereby he is become the Comforter? What heart or fitness have I to study him as a Person, and defend the Point, if I do not feel him as the Paraclete; {which is the Greek word that we translate the Comforter;} and how is he the Comforter, but as he comes to my Soul in Christ’s Name and Mediation?

What confusion is almost all Divinity thrown into at this day! And that notwithstading the advantages we have had of such long Reformation of the Churches from Popery, by studying to arrange things into an theological order without that precious and elect Corner-Stone, I Pet.2:6, which is Christ? And this Christ-Mediator is only brought in but as a Common-Stone to fill up one Place! And yet in God’s Works of Nature, Grace and Glory, he is the Person that filleth “all in all.” Eph.1:23. If he be Christ, why do not the Systems come to God by Him, and not contrariwise, to Him by all the Trinity? If Christ be the Corner-Stone, why is he not set the first Stone of all, that we may build all our Faith of God on him, that is, standing on him, whilst we believe in God by him. “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste.” {Isa.28:16} “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” {Lk.20:17-18} “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” {I Cor.3:11} “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” {Acts 4:11-12}

What Ignorance is there in our Systems of Divinity! What defects in our Catechisms and Confessions! What barren Heaps are our Libraries! What a Wilderness, what a Barren Forrest is that seen to be, when God hath opened our Eyes, which was wont to be called the fruitful Field! And if it be so in Doctrines, no wonder if it be so too in Churches and Professors; and all because they do not bring up Christ to his Colossian-Character, and his Proverbs-Wisdom Disclosure as setup from Everlasting, Prov.8:23, nor view him as Mediator upon his Throne, raised of the Father from Everlasting; nor behold him in his Evangelical Glory, spoken of in John, which he had, as Christ, of the Father before the foundation of the World. Jn.17:24. What will that avail that doth not fill, influence and spirit all Doctrine with Christ, as the Holy Ghost hath done it everywhere through the Bible from End to End? “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” {Lk.24:27} “And he said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” {Lk.24:44} The first and last Chapters of the Bible are a link that is filled with Jesus Christ in the entirety thereof. Therefore let me only study to know and enjoy God in Christ. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” {Jn.17:3}

How are our bodies of Divinity digested, which we turn over our youths unto? How are they laid together? Christ is never meddled with as Christ, till they have gone through a World of created fulness before him, and without him. This has been a prevailing fault. Adam himself was made in this Image, after this likeness; Gen.1:26, and yet as if Christ were the younger Brother, we do not hear a word of him, as Christ, till our systems have set forth Adam, decked up our Grandmother Eve, and all the Posterity of them in their loins, along with all the Glory of Paradise; and yet we live under the Gospel; if it had been, as Joshua says; on the “other side of the Flood,” Jos.24:2, it had been the more excusable.

We are told over and over, that Christ is before all things, as the First-born of every Creature; Col.1:17, but nevertheless, our rabbis, leaders and divinity doctors have thought it enough to speak of him Personally as one of the three in Elohim, and shut him out till the whole creation be taken in, though he is the First-born of all, and now the First-begotten of the dead, Rev.1:5, that in all things he might have the Preeminence, Col.1:18; and yet we are taught to carry it so sleepily to him, as if he were still in his Grave. I am sure we are not got, as we should be, out of our own graves. For, if we were risen with Christ, Col.3:1, should we not seek the Things that are above at the right Hand of God where Christ sitteth, in that Glory he had with the Father from Everlasting? We are gone off quite from the Apostle’s Doctrine, Acts 2:42, of the Creation, so far as any of us are led off by the common way of theological Education, and there delight to stay. As our Fathers have been, so are we. “Stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.” {Acts 7:51}

Whereas, if God hath been at Work upon us by the Power of the Gospel, I know, we shall be brought off from all these poor Things. “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house.” {Psal.45:10} Hearken; hearken to Christ, you that have hearkened to Tutors and Professors; Christ shows Himself through the Lattice, Song.2:9, when they have done with you; then consider, and lay their way, and Christ’s Way side by side; lay their own instruction and Christ’s Heavenly Instructions one against another; and see if Christ’s be not altogether the Wiser. “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” {Jn.3:12} “Forget also thine own People;” as they are given up to their old way, but come thou over to Christ’s old way. “Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” {Jer.6:16} “Come unto me, {God’s way in Christ} all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” {Mt.11:28} “Forget thine own People;” thine own Acquaintances, thine for Country, Stock, Race and Visible Relation unto Abraham, thine own People among whom thou were born and bred; the first People thou ever didst profess Religion among in the Blind way, and even “thy Father’s House;” for carnal Relations will, for Christ’s sake, become Open Enemies; and will not do for you, if the Gospel once make you spiritual, as they would have done, if you had continued with them in your Blood, Ezek.16:6, and Blindness; but no Matter, says the Lord, forget them; let your Expectations be wholly from the LORD, as if you had not one Fleshly Relation to do for you in the World.

It has been Men’s Coldness toward the Person and Doctrine of Christ, their Studying anything rather than Christ, and their studying God out of Christ in he common way of going on in the Article of the Trinity, that provoked God, of old, to let loose into the World such grievous Wolves as did not spare the Flock. “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” {Acts 20:29} It was of their own selves that Men did arise, verse 30, speaking perverse Things to draw away Disciples after them. It was of the old Professors of the Gospel, that did not make Christ, in his Created Fulness of Nature and Grace, standing in God, and so the means of deriving my All in All, that there came forth such swarms of Men, as denied that the Fulness of the Godhead dwelled in him Bodily. Col.2:9. They denied that Christ who had a body, had God dwelling in that Body of the Human Nature of Christ, as God’s Temple; or that God was the Foundation of that Image subsisting; or the Foundation of Human Nature standing in the invisible God. When Christ in his Fulness came to be neglected, that they did not study and believe the Trinity in the Mediator, they presently fell into strange and unhallowed thoughts of God, and departure from this Truth was the Cause of most Doctrinal Innovation and Apostolic Deviation.

The first and the latter Ages too have been pestered with Swarms of Men of this kind. There have risen up the Valentinians, the Noetians, the Sabellians, the Photinians, Arians, Apollinarians, the Manichees, Nestorians, and Donatists, &c., of old; and even as of late the Anti-Trinitarians; and those avowing Tritheism, an assertion of three gods, because these wretches have measured the uncreated Godhead by our own model, who are created persons, where three multiplied as John, Thomas, and William make three Men; so of late also have sprung up Socinians, Muggletonians, Deists, {and to serve a turn, these know how to be Atheists,} cancelling the Truth as it is in Jesus, Eph.4:21, and adopting Dreams into the Room of Heavenly Visions, I mean the Visions of the Sacred Word. These {all of them} in their Turns, have denied the Trinity, or Three-One and the Personal Union of God and the Man in our Mediator.

Neither herein am I out of the way in all these several Chapters which I am preparing, before I come to the remainder of Mr. John Hunt’s Nineteen Disparagements of Christ, whilst I make some tarrying to insist upon matters of this Nature; because these heavenly things are the Life and Soul of all our knowledge in Practical Influences on the best Foundation {too} of all my proceedings against Mr. Hunt in the Socinian and Arminian Notions he hath advanced. {Nothing short of a solid Foundation of Knowledge and Experience in the Mysteries of Christ’s Excellency, will best promote this Confutation.} For these things he hath done for want of Gospel Light and Experience, to unveil the Glory of Christ; neither hath he given Attendance unto Reading, I Tim.4:13, according to the nature of the Day in which we are fallen; and so I find knows not what the Socinian and Arminian Errors even are; but the poor People, especially some about Royston, take all greedily down from the specious and toxic mixtures of both truth and error, a little truth which makes all so very palatable. Besides the very observations which I make upon, and reproofs I give unto the common mistakes, that do fall in with the Truths of the Gospel, have their Use, and will help to promote the Main Service of Christ I intend in these Papers.

One observation further, as to the Trinity is this, that as to the common Notion of it, we Scholars are taught {it may be} to get a few hard school-terms {the Consubstantiality, or Co-Essentiality of the Persons, their Existence the same with their Essence, their Coinherence and Circumincession, by which the Greek and Latin Ancients meant the Father’s being in the Son, and the Son’s being in the Father;} and from thence it is that Ministers are thought the only fit Persons to know that Article, {when they speak of it as the Divine Essence subsisting in Three Relative Properties;} from the same Cause it is that Ministers have studied it so emptily and unprofitably out of Christ, so as they now make no regard distinctly to name the Distinct Person in his Operations, when accidentally they now and then hit upon apprehended Necessity {in some or other Text} to preach the Gospel.

Ministers and People too, seem to be both agreed, as they give up the matter, and there’s an end. Their Leaders err, and cause the People to err too, Isa.9:16, the People {peradventure} perish, Prov.29:18, for want of Vision. Perish! How Perish? Methinks I hear some angry man say; all is perishing now-a-days that doth not come up to your Antinomian Flights! No, not so neither. God hath given Grace to every Man that is born of the Spirit, and Grace according to the Measure of the Gift of Christ, Eph.4:7, and yet, Man, thou mayst not be born from above, Jn.3:3, who art notwithstanding a zealous Preacher. Nay, if a Company of the New-Born choose such a Man as thou art to be their Leader {alas! converted Preachers are without doubt, much scarcer in our days than formerly,} thou art the leader that will cause them to perish; not perish in Hell, for there is another Leader that will {finally} prevent that; but perish in the Churches, to scourge their Disorder in the Choice, or perhaps the Imposition they have given up themselves unto in the choice of others for them. Hence they perish in their vigor and Spiritual-mindedness; they perish in their Communion; they perish in their Comforts; they perish in their mere rounds of Lord’s-days and Week-days Performances; they perish in their Old Stock for want of New Improvements, II Pet.3:18, and seeing further into Jesus Christ! For, if we do not grow up into Him, Eph.4:15, and to Him we wither, let us be what Ministers, or Churches we will; and the worst perishing of all is, that whilst Ministers and Churches grow so Dead and Carnal as to fill up the Number of the Deceased Godly with Sober People at large, or to make up a Number, and so a wealthier interest to look great, they hook in {with Presumptuous and Ungrounded Hopes, supported with the most uncharitable Charity, or Self-Love, and love to the Party more than to the Government of Christ, compelling, frightening and flattering into Churches} more than have savingly tasted, I Pet.2:3, of God’s Grace; and yet I know no sound Matter of a Church of Christ but these; that indeed what with the Lack of Vision in these Professors, before and after their Admission into Churches, they perish eternally for want of Vision. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me; seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” {Hos.4:6} “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding; they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” {Jer.4:22} Nevertheless, it cannot be said that they perish for want of nudging Old Adam, they perish for want of stirring and rousing them up to some kinds of motion; but all these Motions being short of Vision, and proceeding from quite another Principle than Spiritual Life, they perish; and that under a Savor of Death unto death, II Cor.2:16, or Death in unregeneracy to Death in Formality, and so from thence into Death eternal.

Hence, their leaders err, and cause others to err. How? They’ll preach duty, that’s well; but not well to preach it in their own way. It is not well to neglect preaching duty in Christ’s way, upon whose shoulders is the entire Government of Grace. Isa.9:7. How many preach duty and performances that will not endure to found them upon the Rock? For then they must be their own conceited Antinomians, and begin with Christ; for that which finds, or he {Christ} who finds, is always before that which is founded. How many preach duty and performances that hate to hear they must be spiritualized with the Holy Ghost? How many press them and give you whole sets of directions to come up to them, who will never believe, that to make men serve in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter, Rom.7:6, they must be all influenced by the same Mighty Power that generates the New Birth? “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” {II Cor.4:6} In short, let these poor souls flatter themselves in their own iniquity, Psal.36:2, {and much of that iniquity I know to be their own sincere obedience they rely on,} yet their sin will find them out. Num.32:23. The Holy Ghost never as a Living Principle stirs along with them in the common way; though he doth and will as a righteous and judicial Agent. But as they have left the Holy Ghost’s counsel in their way of preaching duty, so the Holy Ghost has quite left them in the success thereof. And if we speak against this, and write against this, we are Antinomians presently; the Lord judge, Judg.11:27, between us and them.

But I shall resume my observation practically about the Three Persons in One God. That now in the Gospel way of preaching, when I make use of the Trinity in the Mediator, it is good to the use of edifying, Eph.4:29; by the Trinity in the Mediator I don’t mean all the Persons of God are in the Person of Christ, but that all the Persons are in the Doctrine of Christ. When, according to these Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I preach the one God in, by, and through Christ, it is of excellent use to the souls of God’s children. When I preach upon practical subjects too, where the creature’s duty ought to extemporaneously flow in, it alters not the case. I have taken notice in practical matters, or a fit close of the Grace-part from the beginning and through the body of most Epistles, that in shutting up or drawing to a close with exhortations and directions in Christ’s Way, Paul often names the Father and the Son and the Spirit; and so pertinently and necessarily, that he puts Life into the exhortations; and thus I have known whole Churches edified by the Doctrine of the Trinity, when the doctrine has been preached thus. And our hearers so far from reproaching us, when we have done, {for speaking gibberish,} that they see they can’t live without the knowledge of the Trinity in the Doctrine of Christ, let it be upon what particular subject it will. It is the mixing point of the Gospel; and though it is not to be handled in every point, yet it is to be eyed in every point, and made use of by the soul; even as faith, which receives Christ, is in every point the mixing grace.

And you may be sure, that this subject can never do any good which is not founded upon Christ, as Christ is founded upon God. That sermon or discourse shall be a means of giving us no distinct Apprehensions of the Truth, nor of working establishment, which has nothing distinctly from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, and from the Comforter. II Cor.1:2-3. The Trinity as known in, by and through Christ is our life; and what life without communion? What communion without the Persons of God? What of the Persons without the Gospel? And how can men preach Father, Son and Spirit in Christ, so long as they think their subject hath little or nothing to do with either of them? The right preaching of the Trinity in their Persons and Operations is the life of some few Churches, and some few names in Sardis. Rev.3:4. It is their life, as they would die in all their Duties, wither in all their Hearing, lose the best Enjoyments and Communion, which are the end of all Ordinances; but by these Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, spoken of according to a precise dividing of the Word, II Tim.2:15, in every discourse; and all through Christ, our people through Grace live.

Whereas in too many Ministers and Churches, all thought of the Trinity is looked upon as a high notion, and so by the common consent of this lapsed age is laid by; for which cause God has righteously punished the neglect by a generation of men that openly publish their disbelief thereof. {Socinians and Deists are let loose upon us as a punishment of the neglect of the Trinity in them that profess it.} Almost all men do lay this by. Many lay by another piece of the gospel. Some lay by one piece of it, and others lay by more pieces; and so what with one lay-by and another, we have seen almost all the Doctrine of the Gospel {as well among our poor Dissenters as others} laid by, and there’s nothing left in the Ministry of the day but a mangled remnant. Few, like Paul, who had not shunned, Acts 20:27, to declare all the Counsel of God. Thus matters stand, and in these matters I must speak the Truth.

Well, for mending the disorders, which old Adam and his posterity cannot by fallen nature alter, I have, by Grace, chosen these Supralapsarian {or Over-fall} way, in the Everlasting Love of the Father to the elect in his Son Jesus Christ, whom he loved as the Mediator between God and them, before the Foundation of the world. I have seen both beauty and antiquity in the Wisdom-Mediator; his Supralapsarian Constitution in the Will and Grace of God, as Wisdom-Mediator, was the Foundation of his consequent sub-lapsarian Constitution in the same will and grace of God, as Redemption-Mediator. Accordingly, I see my Supralapsarian relation to him in my person by the same will and grace, which is the foundation of my sub-lapsarian relation to God, to bring my person safely, by his own means, through all the Ordered Changes of the Fall, till all he hath settled for me be made perfect in Glory to me. I discern by my over-fall relation {or the advantage I have by Christ-Wisdom above the Fall, or before the Settlements and Decree of it in the Order of Nature, as to a Glory-union in Christ of the persons of the elect} that Christ is now made of God unto me, I Cor.1:30, in God’s under-fall Councils of ways and means Christ-Redeemer in the Redemption-Covenant; till all be swallowed up again in a full Over-fall Glory in and with the Glory-Man, as if the Fall had never entered to prolong or obscure the open coming of the Glory-Union; or, as if I never had had one lust in my heart, or one devil at my elbow. “I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.” {II Cor.4:13} Let others, if they dare, set their figure of one before Christ; I will set him by grace before all my nothingness and my figures too.

Behold now through all the mighty heights of Love, and see the wondrous depth of the riches of the knowledge of God! Rom.11:33. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed, I Jn.3:1, upon us that we should be called the Sons of God! Oh! Wondrous love of the Father! Oh! Wondrous love of the Son of God to become a Christ for us! And I add, Oh! Wondrous love of the Spirit too! For, though here it does not, as in applicatory Conveyances and Executions of the Divine will, fall in so immediately to prosecute the matter, yet he is concerned in all of it. All applicatory means had the Three-One equal love in pitching upon Wisdom-Christ, the Glory-Man, the Covenant-Man in the Second Person of God. And thus, as Christ hath stood in the Love of the Father from Everlasting, this is a main argument in the Love, to prove upon what Foundation Christ also hath loved the Church, and therein, that because Christ hath loved the Church, as God hath loved Christ, the Church in the Canticles could not strive to express her love in equal strains with Christ’s love to her.