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3. God is, in a more especial manner, the Father of mankind : have we not, saith the prophet, one Father ? hath not one God created us? Thus Adam is called the son of God, the genealogy of all men terminating in him : this subject enlarged on.
4. Yet farther, God is more especially the Father of all good men; such a relation being built on higher grounds and respects ; for as good they have another origin from him ; virtue springeth up from an heavenly seed ; &c.
5. Moreover we may observe that God, when he particularly designs to contain men within bounds of duty, and thereby lead them to happiness, delights to represent himself under this endearing relation : this shown in the case of his ancient people.
6. But in the Christian dispensation, God more signally represents himself in this quality : all his performances towards us, and in our behalf, are of such a nature, and are set forth in such terms, as import this relation : for,
1. The reception of a believer into the privileges of Christianity is termed violecia, the making him a son ; &c.
2. That renovation of our nature which the gospel requires, is called regeneration, a new birth, &c.
3. The resurrection of good Christians after death to a state of glory, is worthily styled maliyyevedia, a being generated and born again.
4. It might be added, that Christians do become the sons of God by the intervention of our Saviour, assuming our nature, whereby he becomes the first-born of many brethren ; &c.
In so many respects is God our Father, and we are his children. The consideration of which has manifold good
I. It in general may teach, and should remind us, what reverence and observance is due from us to God in equity, jus
tice, and gratitude. If I be a father, where is my horor ? Mal. i. 6.
2. It may instruct and admonish us how we should behave ourselves; for if we be God's children, it becometh us, in our disposition and demeanor, to resemble and imitate him ; &c.
3. It may raise us to a just regard, esteem, and valuation of ourselves, inspire noble inclinations, and withdraw us from all base and unworthy practices.
4. It is an especial motive to humility ; for if we are God's children, so as to have received our being and all things from him, what reason can we have to ascribe or assume any thing to ourselves ?
5. This consideration shows us the reason we have to submit intirely to the providence of God, as being his possessions ; &c.
6. It also obliges us to be patient and cheerful in the sorest afflictions, as coming from a paternal hand, and designed for our good.
7. It shows the reason we have to obey those precepts which enjoin us to rely on God's providence; to cast all our burden and care on him; as children do commonly live, without care, on the maintenance of able and kind parents, &c.
8. It doth more generally in all regards serve to breed and cherish our faith, to raise our hopes, to quicken our devotion : for in whom shall we confide, if not in such a father ? from whom expect good, if not from him who has already given us so much ?
9. Lastly, it will direct and prompt us how to behave ourselves towards God's creatures ; who, if he be their father, are all of them in some sort our brethren : this topic enlarged on. Conclusion.
I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER.
EPHESIANS, CHAP. IV._VERSE 6.
One God and Father of all.
I have formerly discoursed concerning the nature of that belief which we here profess: I did also endeavor by several arguments to evince the truth and credibility of the first article of our Creed, which is indeed the foundation of all the rest, and of all religion, .That there is one God.' I proceed to the following parts.
• The Father.' The appellation of God not improperly taken, (as when it is attributed to creatures, on some resemblance ip nature or office which they bear to the supreme God,) but relating to him who only, truly, and properly is styled God, is sometimes put absolutely, sometime hath a relative apposition going along with it. Being absolutely or singly put, it sometimes refers, by way of eminency, particularly to the first Person in the blessed and glorious Trinity; as when Christ is called the Son of God; when God is put in distinction from the other persons, (when, for instance, it is said, “That they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' • Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “The Word was with God.' To serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven.' And in
that form of blessing, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all;') but commonly it is to be understood for God essentially considered, (according to the Divine essence common to all three Persons,) to whom in that respect all the Divine attributes agree, and from whom all Divine operations (absolute et ad extra) do jointly proceed. And to this sense or notion we have hitherto supposed that the name of God might be here applied. For, that there is one God, having such essential attributes, is the first principle and foundation of all religion, which we must therefore suppose, if not directly expressed, yet at least sufficiently implied in the Creed.
And supposing the word in part doth imply this sense, the attribute or title of Father doth on many accounts truly and properly belong to God, (God absolute and essential,) in relation to all things generally, and to some things particularly; especially, which is the most fruitful consideration, in respect to ourselves.
Let us first consider the accounts on which, then the terms (or objects) in relation to which, God is so called; then let us apply the consideration to practice.
One God and Father of all. Every attribute, every title, every relation of God doth ground an obligation, doth afford an inducement to good practice; but none other doth ground higher obligation, or yieldeth stronger inducement to all kinds of obedience, than doth this of Father, which here, and frequently otherwhere in holy Scripture, is ascribed to God : unto which purpose, of exciting us to good practice, (to all gocd practice generally, and particularly to some kinds thereof,) I do now intend to apply the consideration thereof: but first let us consider in what respects, or on what grounds, this title is attributed to God; then let us reflect somewhat on the term, in respect to which God is styled Father of all,' that is, in a larger sense of all things, in a stricter sense of all persons, in the most restrained sense of all us Christians.
The title of father is on several accounts commonly given to things; one is causality; for the efficient cause, or author of
any thing, is called its father ; any work is said to be the child or offspring of him that maketh or inventeth it; Hath the rain a father,' (or, · Who is father of the rain ?' as the LXX render it,) 'or who hath begotten the drops of the dew?? saith God in Job: another ground thereof is sustenance, or preservation ; so Job saith of himself, that he was a father to the poor and fatherless, because he yielded them protection and relief; so, Roma patrem patriæ Ciceronem libera dirit, Rome called Cicero father, because he preserved it from the attempts of wicked conspirators against its liberty and safety : education also and instruction intitle to this name; whence St. Paul calleth Timothy and Philemon, the Corinthians and Galatians, whom he had instructed in the Christian faith, his children: lastly, governance, attended with beneficent affection and care, doth found this appellation; whence princes are usually styled the · fathers of their country,' being supposed to desire and to provide for the public good; so we have the • fathers of tribes,' that is, the principal persons of them, who did preside over them : I do omit antiquity and age, for which we know that persons are vulgarly called fathers.
On all these accounts it is plain that the title of Universal Father may truly be ascribed unto God; especially in respect to ourselves, who may be considered as equivalent to all other objects, as comprehending in us somewhat common to them all : God in some of those respects is the Father of all things, or of us as beings; God is more especially the Father of intelligent beings, and of us as such; God is the Father of all men, of all good men, and peculiarly of Christians; which respects all of them do or should concur in us.
Let us survey those particulars somewhat distinctly, then apply them as obligations and inducements to good practice.
1. God is the Father of all things, or of us as creatures; as the efficient cause and creator of them all: “He made the world, as St. Paul telleth the Athenians, and all things therein ;' • He commanded,' saith the psalmist, ‘and they were created;'• The world and the fulness thereof,' (that is, all wherewith it is replenished, and which it contains,) 'he hath founded them;'. All these things,' saith God in the prophet,' hath mine hand made :' and ποιητήν, και πατέρα τούδε του παντός, “the