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I COR. viii. 16.

To us there is one God, the Father.

N the first Article of the Creed, I have difcours'd of

the Being and Unity of God, and fhew'd what firm Grounds and Reasons we have for the Belief of both. The next thing to be confider'd in it, is the Relation he bears to all others, which both the Catechifm and Text tell us is that of a Father; I believe in God the Father. Where I must enquire,

First, In what Senfe we here believe God to be the Father.

Secondly, Why this is made a part of the Creed. And, Thirdly, What we learn from the Belief of it. For the

First, The relative Term of Father, is properly founded on Generation, and is generally apply'd to whatever produces another, or is any ways the Author or Cause of its Being. Hence, becaufe all things are of God, he is frequently tyl'd, The God and Father of all, who is above all, and in all, and through all; Eph. 4. 6. So that God may be term'd a Father,

1. Upon the Account of Creation, because he made all Things, and fill preferves them in being: He giveth us Life and Breath, and all Things, faith the Apoftle; and in him we live, move, and have our Being. It is he that hath made us (faith the Pfalmift) and not we ourselves; Pfal. 100. 3. But the Confideration of this will fall more properly under the next Branch of this Article, wherein we believe God to be the Maker of Heaven and Earth, which is call'd the Generation of them, Gen. 2. 4. In this fenfe all the Creatures in the World, but efpecially all Men, may call God, Father: which made the Prophet ask the Question, Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us? Mal. 2. 10.

2. God may be term'd a Father, upon the Account of Redemption, which being a reftoring us from a Condition worfe than nothing to a State of Happiness, may be reckon'd a Sort of Generation; and he that effects this for us, may be very well term'd a Father: Is not he thy Father that bought thee? faith Mofes to the Ifraelites, who were refcu'd from the Bondage of Egypt, and entring upon the promis'd Land of Canaan; Deut. 32. 6. To which we find that People returning this Answer, Doubtless thou art our Father, tho Abraham be ignorant of us; thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer, thy Name is from Everlasting; Ifa. 63. 16.

3. God may be term'd a Father upon the account of Regeneration; for if our first Birth gives him the Title of Father, to be born again must give a New Addition to it: Our Saviour told Nicodemus, that he must be born again, not indeed of Flefh, but of Water and the Holy Ghost; John 3. 7. And from this Spiritual Birth, God is ftyl'd a Spiritual Father: Of his own will begat he us (faith the Apoftle) by the Word of Truth, That we should be a kind of Firft-Fruits of his Creatures, James 1. 18. This is call'd fometimes a raising us from the Dead, fometimes a New Creation, fometimes a being born of God, and a being begotten again of incorruptible Seed: all which being effected by God for us, give him the new Relation of Father.

4. God may be term'd a Father, upon account of Adoption, having predeftinated us unto the Adoption of Children by Jefus Chrift to himself; Eph. 1. 5. Adoption is the taking a Child from another House and Family, and ingrafting him into our own; and he that thus adopts him, is ftyl'd a Father, and the Party fo adopted is call'd a Son. Thus Pharaoh's Daughter adopted Mofes, and cherifh'd him as her Son, not by Nature, but by Grace and Favour. And as they that are thus adopted, are entitled to all the Privileges of Sons, even to the Right of Inheritance; fo he that thus adopts, hath all the Right and Power of a Father. Now God having thus adopted us, and from Aliens, Strangers and Enemies, taken us into his own Houfe and Family, we are to him as Sons, and he is to us as a Father; which made the Apoftle fay, We have not receiv'd the Spirit of Bondage again to fear, but we have receiv'd the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father; Rom. 8. 15.

5. God is term'd a Father, by regenerating us not only to a Life of Grace here, but of Glory hereafter: for fo

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the Apoftle declares, that he hath begotten us again to a lively Hope, by the Refurrection of Christ from the dead, to an Inheritance immortal, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, referved in Heaven for us; 1 Pet. 1. 3, 4. The Refurrection from the Dead is that Regeneration of which our Saviour fpeaks, when the Son of Man fhall fit on the Throne of his Glory; Mat. 19. 28. And our partaking of it, is a Nativity or Entrance upon another Life; and as we are ftyl'd the Sons of God by his raifing us from the Dead, fo does he thereby justly acquire the Title and Relation of Father.

But tho God be in all the foremention'd Senfes frequently and truly ftyl'd a Father, yet there remains another and higher Senfe of it; which is mainly, if not only, intended in this Article: And that is,


By Natural and Eternal Generation; in which fenfe he is frequently in Scripture call'd the Father of our Lord Fefus Christ, and of him only for befide the common Relation he bears to all Men, as God and Father of all, there is a more peculiar Relation of Paternity belonging to him, as Father of our Lord Jefus Chrift. And as Chrift is faid to be his only Son, and his only begotten Son, fo by virtue thereof God must be a Father in a way peculiar to him only; namely, by

An Eternal and Ineffable Generation. Now Generation (you know) is the Production of the like, or the begetting another of the fame Nature and Subftance with itfelf. And if Man, by begetting a Son in his own Likenefs, that is, of the fame Human Nature does thereby obtain the Name of Father; how much more may God, in begetting a Son in his own Image, and of the fame Divine Nature and Effence with himself, receive the fame Appellation? Moreover,

As this way of begetting a Son from all Eternity (that is, every way alike and the fame with himfelf) is peculiar to God, with refpe&t to this only Son; fo this high and eminent Relation of a Father in this fenfe, can agree only to the one, with refpect to the other.

That this is the principal Senfe of Father in this firft Article, not only the concurrent Expofition of antient Writers, who generally expound it this way, but many other Confiderations may evince. As,

1. The Creed being a Confeffion of our Faith in the Holy Trinity, as may eafily appear by the parts of it, this first Article declares our Faith in God, as he is the first Perfon

169 in this Sacred Trinity; and being diftinguifh'd here by the Name and Title of Father, it must be understood in a Senfe that is peculiar to him only. Now the general Relation of Father, as taken from Creation, Redemption, Regeneration and the like, is common to all the three Perfons: and therefore to distinguish the first Person from the rest, we must understand it of a Father by eternal Generation, by which he is a Father only to our Lord Jefus Christ. Again,

2. 'Tis generally fuppos'd, that Chrift's Commiffion to the Apostles, to Teach and Baptize all Nations in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, gave them the Meafures in compofing the Creed, and by this Sacred Form of Baptifm they drew up the Rule of Faith; which requiring a Belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghoft, as three diftin&t Perfons, the Name of Father muit be taken in a Sense not applicable to the other two, which is only that ineffable Generation before mention'd. In fhort,

The Title of Father is to be taken in the fame Senfe in this Article, as it is in the Form of Baptifm. Now 'tis evident in that Form, the Notion of Father hath no relation to any but the Son, to which it is join'd: And as we are baptiz'd into no other Son than the only begotten of the Father, fo neither do we here believe in any other Father than the Father of that only begotten Son. And therefore a Reverend Father hath told us, that the proper Explication of thefe first Words of the Creed, is this; I believe in God, the Father of our Lord Jefus Chrift; Eph. 1. 3.

But how is God in a peculiar manner faid to be the Father of Jefus Chrift? Why the Scripture mentions fundry


Ás, (1.) For the Human Nature of Chrift, that had no other Father but God, who by his Holy Spirit overshadowed the Bleed Virgin, whereby his Natural Body was conceiv'd and born of her; Luke 1. 35.

(2.) God is faid to be the Father of Chrift in refpect of his Miffion, or fending him with Authority to be King of Ifrael. This the Pfalmift declares in the 2d Pfalm, ver. 6, 7. where he brings in God thus fpeaking, Tet have I fet my King upon my Holy Hill of Zion; and in the next verfe, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Hence we find Nathanael ftyling him both the Son of God and King of Ifrael; John 1. 49. And Chrift himself calls God, Father, upon the account of his fanctifying and fending him into the World;

World; and blam'd thofe who thought he blafphem'd, for faying, he was the Son of God; John 10. 36.

(3.) God is ftyl'd the Father of our Lord Jefus Chrift, upon the account of his raifing him from the Dead; which being the giving of a new Life gives the denomination of Father. Thus the Apoftle declares, that God hath fulfilled the Promife made to our Fathers, in raifing up Fefus from the Dead; and upon that account applies thofe Words of the Pfalmift, Thou art my Son, this day have 1 begotten thee Acts 13. 33. For which reafon, he is faid to be the Son of God with Power, by his raifing him from the Dead.


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Laftly, God is faid to be the Father of our Lord Jefus Christ in a higher and more eminent manner; namely, by an eternal Communication of the Godhead to him. the Father had the Divine Nature, originally of himself; God the Son hath the fame Divine Nature, yet not of himfelf but from Eternity, communicated to him by the Father; for which reafon he is in the Nicene Creed ftyl'd, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God. Hence it is that Chrift fo often calls God, Father: I and my Father (faith he) are one; in Nature Coequal, and Coeffential with each other; but with this difference, the Father is of himself, the Son is of the Father. From this Communication of the Divine Effence, the one hath the Relation and Title of a Father, peculiar to the firft Perfon in the Trinity the other of a Son, peculiar to the fecond; the one Begetting, and the other Begotten: and both in a way above the reach of our Understanding to conceive; and therefore we must reft contented to believe them, upon the Teftimony of that Divine Authority which hath reveal'd them.

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But why is this made a Part of the Creed? Why, to inAtruct us in the great Mystery of the Trinity; and to teach us the Order and Relation that the three Perfons bear to each other. Where we learn,

1. The Priority of the Father, who, in the Order of the Perfons in the bleffed Trinity, is evermore reckon'd the first, even as a Father is ftill fuppos'd to be before the Son.

2. The Name of Father implies fomething of Eminence and Dignity above the Son; which Eminence confifts not in any Superiority of Nature, for in that Refpe&t the Son thought it no Robbery to be equal with the Father; but in refpect of his Derivation or receiving the Godhead from him, he declares, My Father is greater than I: that is, not

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