Thomas Ridgley.

A body of divinity: wherein the doctrines of the Christian religion are explained and defended, being the substance of several lectures on the Assembly's larger catechism (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryThomas RidgleyA body of divinity: wherein the doctrines of the Christian religion are explained and defended, being the substance of several lectures on the Assembly's larger catechism (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 70)
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A

BODY OF DIVINITY



WMERIiilf THE



DOCTRINES



OF THE

CHRISTIAN RELIGION

ARE EXPLAINED AND DEFENDED.

B£IXQ THE

SUBST.ijYCi; OF SEVERAL LECTURES
ON

THE ASSEMBLY'S LARGER CATECHISM.
BY THOMAS RIDGLEY, D. D.

WITH NOTES, ORIGINAL AND SELECTED,
BY JAMES P. WILSON, D. D.

IN FOUR yOLU:MES.
VOL. L



jrnsT AMmiCAV, fbom the third elroiean EaiTmx



PHILADELPHIA :

rUINTrB BT jSSl' FOR 'WirLTA?!. "W. WOODWAnn, COHXEH Cr CnESXVT AND SOUTH
6J;C0XD STREETt..

1814.



Piistrict of Pennsylvania^ to wit:

BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the seventeenth day of May, iii

^ , the thirty-eighth year of the Independence of the United States of

America, A. D. 1813, WiUiam W. Woodward, of the said District,

hath deposited in this office the title of a Book, the right whereof he

claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit :

" A Body of Divinitj- : wherein the doctrines of the christian religion, are ex-
'-'' plained and defended. Being the substance of several lectures on the Assem-
" bly's larger catechism. By Thomas Ridglpy, D. D. With notes, original and
"selected, by James P. Wilson, D. D. In four volumes. First American, from
"" the thii-d European Edition."

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, intitled, " An
Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts
and Books, to the ;nithors and proprietors of such Copies during the times there-
in mentioned." — And also to the Act, entitled " An Act supplementary to An
Act, entitled " An act for the encomagement of Learning, by securing the Co-
pies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such Copies
durmg the times therein mentioned," and extending the benefits thereof to the
♦rts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."

D. CALDWELL, Clerk of the
District of Pennsylvania.



rO THE READER.

In this Jirst American edition the original text remains un-
altered^ the notes xoJiich Dr. Ridglerj had subjoined to his xvork
are retained^ and for the sake of distinction^ printed in Italics^
The other notes have been added by Dr. Wilson ; and in every
instance xuherein they have been selected by him from others^
they are accompanied by marks of quotation, and the name of
the author or book from whence they zvere taken.



THE

PREFACE.

ri^HE influence which the different sentiments of men, in
JL matters of religion, have, for the most part, on their tem-
per and behaviour towards one another, affords very little
ground to expect that any attempt to explain or defend the
most important doctrines of Christianity, should not be treat-
ed with dislike and opposition by some, how much soever it
may afford matter of conviction to others. This consideration
' would have put a stop to my pen, and thereby saved me a great
deal of fatigue, in preparing and publishing the following
sheets, had it not been over-balanced by what I cannot, at pre-
sent, think any other than a sense of dut)'^, in compliance with
the call of providence. I heartily v/ish there were no occasion
to vindicate some of the great doctrines of the gospel, which
were more generall}^ received in the last age, than at present,
from misrepresentation, as though the method in which they
had been explained led to licentiousness, and the doctrines
themselves, especially those of election, particular redemption,
efficacious grace, and some others, that depend upon them,
were inconsistent with the moral perfections of the divine na-
ture : these are now traduced by many, as though they were
new and strange doctrines, not founded on scripture, nor to
be maintained by any just methods of reasoning deduced from
it, or as if the duties of practical religion could not be inculca-
ted consistently therewith. If this insinuation were true, our
preaching would be vain, our hope also vain, and we should
be found false witnesses for God, and have no solid ground
whereon to set our feet, which would be a most tremendous
thought. And, if this be not sufficient to justify my present
undertaking, I have nothing to allege of equal weight.

I must cpnfess, that when 1 took the first step, in order to
the' setting this design on foot, by consenting that proposals



IV llIE PREFACE.

should be printed, about two years since, I reckoned it little
other than an expedient to disengage myself from any farthei*
thoughts, and my friends from any expectation of it, which I
could noC well do, but by having a proof of the backwardness
of persons to encourage, by subscription, a work which would
be so very expensive to the undertakers ; but, the design be-
ing countenanced, beyond what I could have imagined, and
numbers subscribed for, with more expedition than is usual, I
was laid under an obligation im.raediately to prepare my notes
for the press, and set forward the work, which, through the
divine goodness, has been thus far carried on ; and I cannot but
I ^ke occasion to express my grateful acknowledgment of the
respect that has been shewed me, by those who have encoura-
ged this undertaking. If it may answer their expectation, and
subserve their spiritual advantage, I shall count my labour well
employed, and humbly offer the glory thereof, as a tribute due
to God, whose interest is the only thing that demands all our
time, strength, and utmost abilities. If I may but have a tes-
timony from him that I have spoken nothing concerning him
that is a dishonour to his name, unbecoming his perfections, or
that has a tendency to lead his people out of the right way to
tiie glorifying and enjoying of him, my end is fully answered.
Whatever weakness I have discovered, arising from mine in-
equality to the greatness of the subjects insisted on, I hope to
obtain forgiveness thereof from God, whose cause I have en-
deavoured to maintain ; and, to be excused by men, as I may
truly say, I have not offered, either to him or them, what cost
me nothing. I have, as far as I am able, adapted my method
of reasoning to the capacities of those who are unacquainted
with several abstruse and uncommon words and phrases, which
have been often used by some who have treated on these sub-
jects, which have a tendency rather to perplex, than improve
the minds of men : terms of art, as they are sometimes (Called,
or hard words, used by metaphysicians and schoolmen, have
done little service to the cause of Christ^

If I have explained any doctrine, or given the sense of any
scripture in a way somewhat different from what is commonly
received, I ha\'e never done it out of the least affectation of
singularity, nor taken pleasure in going out of the beaten path,
having as great a regard to the footsteps of the fiock, as is con-
sistent with that liberty of thinking and reasoning, v/hich we
are allowed to use, who conclude nothing to be an infallible
rule of faith, but the inspired writings.

As to what I have advanced concerning the eternal genera-
tion of the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost, I have
thought myself obliged to recede from some common modes of
explication, which have been used, both by ancient and modern



THE PREFACE. v

writers, in insisting on these mysterious doctrines, which, pro-
bably, will appear, if duly weighed, not to have done any great
service to the cause, which, with convincing evidence, thty
have maintained; since it is obvious that this is the principal
thing that has given occasion to some modern Arians to fill the
inargins of their books with quotations, taken out of the wri-
tings of others, whom they have either, M'itliout ground, pre-
tended to have been on their side of the question, or charged
with plucking down with one hand, what they have built up
with the other.

Whether my method of explaining these doctrines be reckon-
ed just, or no, I cannot but persuade myself, that if what I have
said, concerning the subordination of these divine persons, be
considered in any other view, than as an explication of the Son-
ship of Christ, and the procession of the Holy Ghost, it will
not be reckoned a deviating from the common faith of those
who have defended the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity ;
and, if it be an error to maintain that these divine persons, as
well as the Father, are independent, as to their personality, as
v/cll as their essence, or to assert that the maimer of their hav-
ing the divine essence, as some express it, is independent, as
well as the essence itself, then what I have delivered, on that
subject, is to no purpose, which, when I am convinced of, I
shall readily acknowledge my mistake, and count it an happi-
ness to be undeceived.

As to what respects the decrees of God, and more particu-
larly those that relate to angels and men, and his providence,
as conversant about sinful actions, and the origin of moral evil,
I have endeavoured to account for them in such a way, as, I
trust, does not in the least, infer God to be the author of sin ;
nor have I, in any instance, represented God as punishing sin,
or determining to do it, out of his mere sovereignty, as though
he designed to render his creatures miserable, without consi-
dering them as contracting guilt, and thereby procuring this to
themselves. And, when I have been led to insist on the free-
ness of divine grace, and the covenant of grace, as made witli
Christ, and, in him, with the elect, and maintained the abso-
luteness and independency hereof on the will of man to render
it effectual to salvation, I have, notwithstanding, said as much
as is necessary concerning the conditionality of

How far the Old Testament is still a rule 56

How the scriptures are a complete revelation of the will of

God 58

The scripture a siifficient rule of faith and obedience 59

Its properties xis a rule 61

It is the only rule ' ibid

Human traditions of no divine authority 62

The Popish doctrine of them confuted ibid

The Canon of scripture preserved entire 65

Js not perverted 66

Que s T. IV. Of the Divine Authority of the Scriptures.

In zvhat respects called divine 69
A divine revelation necessary 71
Not contrary to God''s perfections ibid
Inspiratio?i not impossible 72
The scripture proved to be the word of God
From the majesty of its style 73
From the purity of its doctrines ■. 74
Its holiness considered absolutely ibid
And as compared zuith other writings 76
From the harmony of all its parts 78
Dr, Paley on the genuineness of the scriptures, in a note 79
Its harmony shexvn in the accomplishment of many predic-
tions 86
It doth not contradict itself 87
Various objections answered 88
Rides for reconciling seeming contradictions in scripture 94
Grotius on their authority, in a note 97
From its scope and design 98
From the character of the penmen 102
These were faithful ibid
They were not imposed on * 106



THE CONTENTS. iii

Hoxv they might know they -were under inspiration 108

They mistook not the deviCs impressions for divitie revela-
tion 109
The words as ivell as matter of scripture were given by iyi-
spiration 110
From its aiitiquity and preservation 112
From the testimony of God by miracles ibid
Two objections answered 114, 115
By the conviction and conversion of sinners 116
IIo^o Christians come to a full persuasion of the divinity of
scripture 118
7 he inward testimony of the Spirit explained ibid

Quest. V, VI. The principal matters contained in

scripture
Quest. VII. Of the nature and perfections of God.

Hoxv rve may conceive aright of the divine perfections ibid
Of the communicable aiid incommunicable perfections of God 122
Nothing common between God and the creature ibid

God is a Spirit ; what a Spirit is 123

Difference between other spiritual substances and God 124
Independent 124! Infnitely perfect 126

All-siifficient 127. When this perfection is in effect denied 127
Eternal 129. His eternal duration not successive 132. How

the parts of time are attributed to God 133

Immutable. IVhen immutability is a perfection. Hoxv peculiar

to God 135. Arguments to prove him so 136

Incomprehensible 138

Omnipresent 139, arid Almighttj 140

Wherein his poxver appears 141

What things God ca7inot do 142

The improvement of this subject 143

Omniscient 145. He knows all future contingencies 147

Properties of God'' s knoxvledge 149. Its improvement 150

When it is practically denied^ ibid.
Wisdom of God infinite 15^

Different from knoxvledge ibid

Wherein it appears ibid

In Creation 154. Providence IS 5. Redemption^ 156

In the C07istant government of thq church ibid

Inferences from God^s wisdom 158

Holiness of God infnite 159

What it is^ ibid. Instances of it 160

His suffering the entrcmce ofsin^ was no refection on it 161
' Tis the standard of doctrines 1 62

Instances of doctrines whigh lead to licentimtsness 162, IQ?



iv



THE CONTENTS.



When God's holiness is contemned 16o

yustice of God infinite 1 64

Hoxv distinguished from his holiness ibid

Glory ^ how called a rexvard 167

Affictions of believers not properly a punishment ibid

Mercy and grace of God infinite 168

Difference betiveen goodness^ mercy, grace, and patience 169

Mercy is either comtno7i or special 1 71

Grace free ajid sovereign 172

Discriminating 173. Instances of it, ibid. Afflictions not

inconsistent xvith it 174

Leads not to licentiousjicss ibid

Patience of God, what it is 176

Whether devils are objects of it ibid

Instances of God'' s patience 178

Wherein manifested to the wicked 1 79

Not inconsistent with justice 181

How to be improved 183

By xvhojn it is abused 1 84

Truth., God is abundant therein 1 86

Hoxv he is called a God of truth 187

Faithfulness of God, ibid. No impeacluneni hereof that some

threatenings have not been executed 188. Nor that some

promises have not presently been performed 190

IIoxv this perfection is to be improved 191

Quest. VIII. Of the Unity of the Godhead.

How God is styled the living God 194

Unity of the Godhead proved ibid

Abemethy 07i that subject, in a note 197

Was not denied by the xviser Heathen 200

Inferences from it 202

Hoxv xve should conceive of it 203

Different 7nodes used in speaking of the perfections of God 204

Quest. IX, X, XI. Of the Doctrine of tlie Trinity,

Calvin on the word Person, iri a note 207

The doctrine of the highest importance 209

Hoxv to determijie the importance of a doctrine 211

What knowledge of it necessary to salvation 213

It is a great mystery^ 214. What a 7nystery is, ibid.

It is incomprehensible 216

Dr. Bates on mysteries, in a note 217

Objections on this account ansxvered 220

Whether to receive it be to use zuords without ideas ibid

Whether the revelation of it be unintelligible 221



THE CONTENTS. v

Whether that which is unintelligible be the object of faith 222

How this doctrine promotes religion 223

Li what sense revelation is an improvement of the light of

nature 224

j^ot contrary to reason^ though above it 226

When a doctrine is coJitrary to reason ibid

It is not chargeable with Tritheism 227

The use of reason in proving doctrines of pure revelation 229

It cannot be known by the light of nature 230

How it was made known to Adam ibid

Whether the heathen knew it 231

Whitaker on the word Logos used by the jfews, in a

note " 233

Trinity, ?iot to be illustrated by similitudes 235

Rules for interpreting scriptures relating to it 236

The word Trinity explained 239

Person, the word explained 239

The difference between divine and human persons 242

Sacred Three j iji what respect One 243

Dr, famieson on the Trinity^ in a note 243

How their glory equal^ how the same ibid

Personality of the Son^ 248. Of the Spirit 250

~ Not metaphorically ascribed to either 252

Eternal generation of the Son, hoxv understood by many 259

Another vxethod of accounting for it 261

This account thereof proved 264

Scriptures relating to Chrisfs sonship explained , 2T4>

Christ's sonship as Mediator, considered 276

Another view of the subject, m a note 279

Procession of the Spirit, how understood by ma7iy, 260. What

it is 261

The scripture doctrine of it 280

Oeconomy of the sacred Three explained 291

How distinct works are ascribed to them 292

The Deity of the Son proved

From his divine names 295

Jehovah God^s incommunicable name ' 296

Never given to creatures 297

It is not applied to angels ' 301

Chrises Deity proved from it 302

God an^ Lord, hoxv applied in scripture 304

Christ's Deity proved thereby 306

This argued from 1 Tim. iii. 16. 311

And from Acts xx. 28. 313. Rom. ix. 5. ibid.

From 1 John v. 20. 315. Isa. ix. 6. 317

From Titus ii. 13. ibid, John xx. 2fi. 319

When the word God is used absolutely 321

Its mea?ung when so used 321



vi THE CONTENTS.

In xvltat sense Christ is styled God by the Socinians 322

From the ascriptio?i of the divine nature to him in Col. ii. 9. 325

In Philip, ii. 6. this explained and defended 326

Gemmieness of 1 John v. 7. defended 329

From his conference with the Jews 335

Fro7n his Attributes 342
Eternity^ 343. Immutability^ ibid.

Omnipresence 345

This proved from John iii. 13. 347

Omniscience^ 349. Objections answered 350

OmnipoteJicy 352

From his glorious titles 353

From his work of creation 357"

The Socinian account thereof 359

Christ no instrument in creation 361

Hoxv the Father made the world by him 362

3Ien onhj moral instruments in miracles 365

From his works of providence 366

Christ the Governor of all things 367

From his acting- as Judge 368

Subserviency of his kingdom to the Father 371

Christ as Mediator beloxv^ yet equal with the Father 374
Inferiority of Christy how to be understood in scripture 376

From the rvorship paid him 377

Christ the Object sf religious worship 379

From Baptism 382

From the doxologies applied to him 386
Anti-Trinitarians differ about the worship due to Christ 388

Right to divine worship is incommunicable 389

Objections against the deity of Christ answered 391

Dr. Priestley'' s disingenuity^ in a i\ote C97

Of the divinity of the Holy Ghost 398
His divinity proved

From Acts v. 3, 4. 400

From his divine Attributes 404



Online LibraryThomas RidgleyA body of divinity: wherein the doctrines of the Christian religion are explained and defended, being the substance of several lectures on the Assembly's larger catechism (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 70)