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baptism of the Saviour, our heavenly Father, bore testimony concerning his only begotten Son, who completed the work of our salvation upon earth; and the Holy Ghost, in the likeness of a dove, lighted upon him, Matth. iii. 16, 17. In the Gospel of John, it is also written," But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me," xv. 26. Also, in many other parts, both of the Old and New Testament, titles, and honours, and wisdom, and power, and other attributes which are applicable to God alone, are ascribed to the Son of God and to the Holy Ghost.
We ought not to be surprised, that this exalted mystery is incomprehensible to our weak reason; for our comprehension is so very limited, that we must confess, with Solomon, Hardly do we guess aright at things that are upon earth, and with labour do we find the things that are at hand but the things that are in heaven, who hath searched out? And thy counsel, who hath known, except thou give wisdom, and send thy Holy Spirit from above?" Wisdom of Solomon, ix. 16, 17. However, for our consolation, and to calm our thoughts, the Holy Spirit comforts us with the promise, that he will at a future pe
riod, in the blessed world above, fully enlighten our understandings. That which we now perceive darkly, as through a glass, we shall then perceive clearly and openly; and we shall rejoice in receiving a sufficient reward for our persevering patience in the faith. "Now, I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known," 1 Cor. xiii. 12. "But we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is," 1 John iii. 2.
There are good and evil angels.
This God, worshipped in three persons, created this world and all things in it, visible and invisible.
Of the creation of the world, and of other circumstances belonging to creation, we have already spoken in the First Part, under Section vi. Here it is only necessary to speak of things invisible, namely, of Angels. There are two kinds of angels, good and bad. being most pure and holy spirits, always enjoy the glorious presence of God in light. "Their
angels do always behold the face of my Father, which is in heaven," Matth. xviii. 10. They perfectly obey the will of God, Psalm ciii. 21. And are employed in promoting the salvation of
"Are they not all ministering spirits,
sent forth to minister for them, who shall be heirs of salvation ?" Heb. i. 14.
But evil angels, who were created along with the good, destroyed their original holiness, by wilfully falling into sin; and from a most glorious, were thrust down into a most wretched condition. "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day," Jude 6. They were then deprived of all hope, and, wretched as they are, yet they find a pleasure in enticing mankind into sin; alluring them by their temptations into the same state of perdition into which they themselves are fallen. Of this we are informed by St Peter," Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour," 1 Peter v. 8. "This kind," according to the words of Christ, goeth not out, but by prayer and fasting."
God careth for the world created by himself, and governeth all things most wisely.
With regard to the providence of God, we have already spoken in the First Part; but here we resume the subject, in order to shew that faith
(which is the foundation of the symbol) teaches us from the word of God, the very same things respecting this doctrine, to the knowledge of which we may attain by the help of sound reason. In confirmation of this, the words of the gospel should ever be remembered: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing, and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father? But the very hairs of your head are all numbered," Matth. x. 29.
The distinguished goodness of God to man, is not only seen in his creation; but from the very time of his being made, he became the object of the care of a particular Providence.
The goodness which man partook of in his creation, consisted in that which, in holy writ, is called the image and likeness of God, Gen. i, For no higher honour can be conferred upon the creature, than that it should be accounted worthy to wear impressed upon itself the image of the most exalted and inaccessible God. With this image, there were united in man the purest light in his judgment, the most complete holiness in his will, and perfect concord between his bodily and spiritual inclinations; nothing disturbed his peace; he was immortal; had rule over the
creatures, and was endowed with other godlike perfections, which made him completely happy. In this state, man enjoyed the beatific vision of the most perfect godhead; and to God himself, he was the most beloved object in creation.
Even the Heathens themselves, appear to have had some sort of knowledge of this state of man's original happiness, and have styled it the golden age. The Holy Scriptures speak of it in many places; among other passages, in the eighth Psalm, its glories are celebrated. What higher evidence can we have of the majesty and goodness of God shewn to man in his creation than this, that he made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honour." But how man became the object of God's particular providence, shall be shewn in the following Section,
The blessed destination of man.
An example of this particular Providence was given, in that when God created man in a state of happiness, he wished that he might continue unchangeably in that blessed condition; and to this end he gave him a command, containing in itself the means of preserving for ever unchangeably, the happy state in which he was created.