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two of scripture, before observed, which then did not stand so clear in my mind, as proofs of the eternal generation of the Son of God; but upon a more mature consideration of them, I am inclined to think otherwise, and have accordingly altered my sense of them; which alteration, as it is no ways inconsistent with the doctrine as before held by me, so it serves but the more strongly to confirm it.




HAVING considered the nature and perfections of God, I shall now proceed. to treat of his acts and operations; which are such as are worthy of a Being possessed of those perfections which have been described; and so must be worthy of our notice. God is actus purus & simplicissimus; he is all act; if one may so say; having nothing passive in him; and therefore must be active and operative; My Father worketh hitherto, and I work, John v. 17, in which: words there is a term fixed, unto which God had worked, the then present time. Christ spoke them; but none from whence he began to work: he had not only worked in providence till then, since the creation, and not only at the creation, but from all eternity; his active and eternal mind had always been at work; the thoughts of his heart were always employed in devising, forming, and settling things that should be done in time; and as the three divine Persons were taking! infinite delight and pleasure in each other, so in the fore-views of what would 3 be done by each of them in time, for the setting forth and manifestation of their glory.

The acts and works of God may be distinguished into internal and external. The external acts and works of God, are such as are done in time, visible to us, or known by us; as creation, providence, redemption, &c. His internal acts and works, which will be first considered, and are what were done in eternity, are commonly distinguished into personal and essential. Personal acts are such as are peculiar to each person, and distinguish the one from the other; and which have been taken notice of already, in treating of the doctrine of the Trinity, Essential acts are such as are common to them all, for as they have: the same nature and essence, they have the same understanding, will, and affections; and the same acts appropriate to these belong unto them, both with respect to themselves and the creatures they meant to make; that is to say, they



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mutually know one another, love each other, and will each other's happiness and glory; and have the same knowledge of, will concerning, and affection for creatures to be brought into being by them; and among these internal acts of the mind of God, are his purposes and decrees; and these are purposed in himself, Eph. i. 9. for what is true of one of his purposes, is true of all; and that there are such in God is certain; and which respects not only the affairs of grace, but those of providence; even the whole earth, and all things in it, Rom. ix. 11. Eph. i. 11. and iii. 11. Isai. xiv. 24, 27. and which go by various names in scripture: sometimes they are called, the thoughts of his heart; these are the deep things of God, which lie in the inmost recesses of his mind; are only known by himself, and searched by his Spirit; as the thoughts of a man can only be known by the spirit of man within him, Psal. xxxiii. 11. Jer. xxix. 11. 1 Cor. ii. 10, II. Sometimes they are called the counsels of God, said to be of old, ancient ones, even from eternity; and to be faithfulness and truth; faith. fully and truly performed in time, Isai. xxv. 1. and their being so called does not suppose any degree of ignorance, or want of knowledge in God, or as if he was at a loss what to resolve upon; and therefore consulted with himself, or others, what was fittest to be determined on; but because such resolutions, that are taken after mature deliberation and consultation, are generally formed in the wisest manner; and commonly most successful in the execution of them; therefore the purposes of God, being made with the highest wisdom, from thence they have the name of counsels. They are sometimes called decrees, and so we commonly call them; being the determinations of the mind of God; what he has fixed, settled, and resolved upon, Dan. iv. 17. Zeph. ii. 2. and so the determinate counsel of God, Acts ii. 23. sometimes they are expressed by preordination and predestination; so Christ is said to be foreordained before the foundation of the world, 1 Pet. i. 20. and men are said to be predestinated to the adoption of children, and to an inheritance, Eph. i. 5, 11. that is, afore appointed thereunto in the decrees of God; and of they are sig nified by his will and pleasure; by the counsel of his will; and by his counsel and pleasure, Rom. ix. 19. Eph. i. 11. Isai. xlvi. 10. they containing and expressing his mind and will; what it is his pleasure should be. Now concerning these may be observed,

I. The proof to be given of them, that there are decrees and purposes God; not merely ideas of things future, but settled determinations concerning them; which may be evinced from the nature and perfections of God. God is a Spirit, uncreated, infinite, operative, and active: he is a pure act, as before observed; and must have been for ever active in himself; his eternal mind must always have been employed, and continually at work; as the mind of man is never without its thoughts, and the understanding has its acts, and the will its volitions; so God never was without the thoughts of his heart, the acts of his understanding, and the volitions of his will. The Sovereignty of God over all, and his independency, clearly shew, that whatever is done in time, is


according to his decrees in eternity; for if any thing comes to pass without the will of God, or contrary to it, or what he has not commanded, that is, decreed, Lam. iii. 37. how is he a sovereign Being, that does according to his will in heaven and in earth, and works all things after the counsel of his will? Dan. 35. Eph. i. 11, and if any thing is by chance and fortune, or the mere effect of second causes, and of the free will of men, independent of the will of God, and if he works under these, in subserviency to them, and takes his ineasures of operation from them, then he must be dependent on them; and how then can it be said with truth, that of him, and through him, and to him, are all things? Rom. xi. 36. The immutability of God requires eternal decrees in him concerning every thing that is in tine; for if any thing is done in time, that did not fall under his notice and will in eternity, this must be new to him, and produce a change in him; or if an after-will in time arises in him, respecting any thing he would have done, which he willed not before, this argues change in him; whereas, in him there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning. The knowledge of God, supposes and clearly proves and establishes the decrees of God; he is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed, 1 Sam. ii. 13. he has knowledge of all actions done in time; and such an exact knowledge of them, as if they were weighed by him, and before him; and this knowledge of them is not successive, as they are performed; Known unto God are all his works from the beginning, or from eternity, Acts xv. 18. both what he would do himself, and what he wills to be done by others: and this knowledge is founded on his decrees; he knows that such and such things will be, because he has determined they shall be. Once more, the wisdom of God makes it necessary that there should be eternal purposes and decrees in him, con cerning things future; he is the all-wise and only wise God, and in wisdom makes all his works; which cannot be supposed to be made without previous thoughts and determinations concerning them: what wise man undertakes a building, without first determining what it shall be, of what materials it shall be made, in what form and manner, as well as for what end? And can we imagine that the all-wise God, who builds all things, should go about them without preconcerted measures, and settled determinations concerning them; Who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working? Isai. xxvii. 29.

II. The extent of the decrees and purposes of God, deserve notice and con sideration: and they reach to all things that come to pass in the world, from the beginning to the end of it. The world, and all things in it, were created by and according to the will and pleasure of God, Rev. iv. 11. The heavens, their creation, stability, duration, and passing away, and succeeded by new heavens, are by a decree that cannot pass, Psal. cxlviii. 6. The earth, in its different forms, before and after the flood, its continuance, and final destruction, with the day or time of it, are by the word or decree of God, 2 Pet. iii. 5-10. The sea, and the place the receptacle of it, and its boundary, the sand, which its waters cannot pass, are by a perpetual decree, Job xxxviii 10, 11. Prov viii 29.

Jer. v. 21. The rain which is exhausted out of it, has its decree; and there is not a shower falls but but by the will of God; whether it be given as a mercy, to make fruitful seasons, or whether it be withheld, or poured down in too great plenty, in a way of judgment; it is all according to the word, will, and . decree of God, Job xxviii. 26. Amos iv. 7, 8. and v. 8. The peopling of the world; the distinction of nations; the rise, progress, and ruin of states, kingdoms, and empires, are all according to the decrees of God; even every petty state and kingdom, as well as the four grand monarchies; the destruction of the first of which, the Babylonian monarch, as it was by the decree of the Watchers, and by the demand of the holy Ones; that is, by the decree of the most High; so the origin of it, and its rise to all its glory and grandeur; and the same is true of all the rest; see Deut. xxxii. 8. Dan. ii. 38-44. and iv. 17, 20. Particularly, the people of Israel, a select and distinguished people. from all others; their original from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; their ser vitude in a land not theirs, for four hundred years; their settlement in the land. of Canaan; their government under judges and kings; and their several captivities, were all determined; as well as their last destruction, when the desolations determined, were poured upon the desolate; and so is their future conversion and restoration, Gen. xv. 14. Exod. xv. 17. Dan, ix. 26, 27, Rom. xi. 25, 26. The church of God, in its different states, under the legal dispensation; the time appointed of the Father, when it was under tutors and governors, Gal. iv. 1, 2. and under the gospel dispensation, the world to come, the time of reformation, when all things became new: the former cove nant waxed old, and vanished away, and the ordinances of it, and new ones took place; and which continues to be the accepted time and day of salvation; all are by divine appointment. The persecutions and sufferings of the church of Christ under the ten Roman emperors, signified by ten days, Rev. ii. 10. and under Rome papal, for a time, and times, and half a time; even forty, two months, or one thousand, two hundred and sixty days or years; the time of the church's being in the wilderness, and of the witnesses prophecying in sackcloth, and of the reign of antichrist, are all fixed by the deeree of God; and when the time is up, the angel will sware by the living God, that time. shall be no longer; that is, antichristian time, Rev. x. 6. and xi. 2, 3, and xii, 14. and xiii, 5, as well as the glory of the church in the latter day;. for which there is a set time; and which God will hasten, in his own time; when there will be great light and prosperity, numerous coversions, a great spread of the gospel, and an enlargement of the interest of Christ, and much purity and righteousness, Psal. cii, 13. Isai, lx, 1-22,. In short every thing respecting all the individuals of the world, that have been, are, or shall be, all corre-spond with the decrees of God, and are according to them; men's coming into the world, the time of it, and all circumstances attending it; all events and occurrences, they meet with, throughout the whole time of life; their places of habitation, their stations, calling, and employment; their circumstances of riches.


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