Moses Mather.

A systematic view of divinity; or, The ruin and recovery of man online

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(midhlesex society) con.

Hear novj, O hotine of '^ael^ Is not my luay equal
ire not your nvays nneqiwu ?




4'. Spooner, Printer , Brooklyn.




A PROBATIONER for eternity, 'vho must be ac-
countable for his belief, as well as for his practice,
can surely never need to apologize for his making a
free inquiry into the principles of our holy religion.
It is easier much, to take things upon trust, and to
profess and practice according as things have been
handed down by our predecessors, than to take the
pains of examining for ourselves, that our faith may
stand upon the clear evidence of the truth, rather
than an implicit afiiance in the sufficiency and cer-
tainty of those searches after truth, which have been
made by such as have gone before us. But although
a free inquiry is not only justifiable, but even lauda-
ble ; yet a respect and veneration for our worthy-
predecessors ought so far to prevail, as to make U3
cautious how we depart from their sentiments ; lest
the love of novelty, (a passion incident to the hu-
man mind) should betray us into errors and danger-
ous mistakes : yet where the light of truth, upon a
dose and deliberate search after it. shines in upon


the mind with its dear and convincing energy, it is
not to be controled by any human authorityj though
the most worthy among men. How fur the author
will be accused of departing from the beaten track in
the following discourse, especially with respect to
bis manner of explaining some important points of
the christian system ; or what censure may be pas-
sed upon him on account of it, cannot easily be de-
termined before-hand. The reader will find some
points of divinity brought up to view, in sl dress, in
some respects, different from that in which they have
commonly appeared ; especially the doctrine ef ori-
ginal sin ; which doctrine, as it has been commonly
stated and defended by Calvinistic divines, is con-
fessedly encumbered with some pressing difficul-
ties, which their Arminian antagonists have eagerly
laid hold of, and strenuously improved to the great
disadvantage of that doctrine. But that doctrine, in
the manner in which it is stated and explained in the
following discourse, will be found to have no connec-
tion with such things, nor to admit of such conse-
quences, on which the Arminian triumphs are chiefi}*
grounded ; and yet, every thing retained that a strict
Calvinist looks upon useful. The reader will also
find some other doctrines, which the author, in conse-
quence of his diligent inquiry after truth, has been
led to view and exhibit, in a manner something sin-
gular ; but whether it is, upon the whole, of any real
advantage to religion, must be submitted to the voi\ih
er*si own judgment.


It is obvious, that the brief system held up to view
in this discourse, proceeds upon the supposition of
the pre-existent state of the created nature of the
Son of God ; a sentiment, though not gencrallv re-
ceived yet hiis been held by many learned and pious
divines, in the christian church, it is not necessary
for me to essay the establishment of this point. Such
as have already undertaken the proof of it, have
brought such evidence ffom divine revelation for its
support, as is not easily answered. For although
this pre-existent state may not be expressly asserted
in any one text ; yet it is so strongly implied in vari-
ous descriptions oi the glorious character of our ex-
alted Redeemer, as is sufficient to persuade a rational
mind into the belief of it ; especially since the ob-
jections brought against it are of so little weight, and
none of the truths and doctrines of divine revelation,
in any measure, weakened by it ; and as the admis-
sion of it will set many difficult texts in a plain and
easy light ; and will give us a more noble view of the
necessary, important, and exalted character of the
Recfeemer, than the contrary supposition will easily
admit of : which consideration is in itself, no coa-
temptible argument in proof of it.

Union to, and communion with God is essential to
the well-being and blessednes of created and rational
nature. This is a truth too evident to need proof.
And it is not much less evident, that such a mediator
of access to God as the Lord Jesus Christ is descri-
bed to be, is necessary as a foundaUon of, and a raeth*
1 * ■ , . -


od to bring about and accomplish this union with
God, among all rational creatures And if created
nature stands in need of such a mediator of access, it
will follow that this is the case of the highest, as well
as of the lowest rank of rational creatures : all which
is strongly implied in that connexion and relation be-
tween the Son of God, and all things visible and in-
visible, so often mentioned in the sacred scripturec.
And if the creator of the universe is uniform in all
his works, it will lead us to suppose, that as God, be-
fore he formed man to be lord of this lower world,
first prepared an habitation for him, in creating this
earth, and filling it with vegetable and animal life ;
so he also provided for the well-being and blessed-
ness of all his rational creatures, before he broughtr-
any of them into existence, by this mysterious union
of the created and uncreated nature of the Son of
God : which will lead us to understand that text in
its most plain and literal meaning, where Christ styles
himself " The beginning of the creation of God."

To suppose the union of the created and uncreated
nature of the Son of God, did not commence till his
incarnation, when he was made flesh and dwelt among
us, casts great obscurity upon all such texts as point
out his connection with, and relation to all orders of
rational creatures, even the angels of light, as well as
the children of men, who are gathered together into
one in him j and brings down the mediatorial char-
acter so low, as to confine his influence in that capa-
city, merely to the fallen race of Adam ; wliich is a


low, and diminuiive character, compared to that
which our Redeemer appears clothed with, when we
consider him as a mediator of access to God for all
rational creatures throughout the whole system ;
which with strong evidence appears to be the doc-
trine of divine revelation. Indeed, we should not
have needed a Redeemer to save us from the curse, if
we had not violated the divine law. But docs it
hence follow, that the original naturrd distance be-
tween God and man, was not so great, but that man
was capable of enjoying all necessary union and com-
munion with God, for securing his safety, and com-
pleting his blessedness, without assistance from such
a mediator as Christ is described to be, in the gos-
pel ? Such a conceit must surely arise from too low
conceptions of the Deity, and exalted notions of the
creature. There are but few truths which appear to
the rational mind in a stronger light, than that of our
necessary dependence on God. And if in connexion
with our necessary dependence on him, we consider
the infinite distance between God and the creature,
modesty would teach us at least, to acknowledge the
propriety, if not to see the necessity of a mediator of
access to him, as the way in which our interest in
him might be secured, and the enjoyment of him
obtained. Some have expressed themselves in
bold and strong terms, concerning Adam's right
which he had in his innocent state, to expect favor
and protection, and even perfect blessedness, at the
hands of his creator j considered merely as an inno-


cent creature. But in harangues of this sort, vv^c are
apt to forget that God had us much power over hiirij
as the potter has over the clay, who of the same
lump, makes one vessel unto honor, and another to
dishonor ; which, if true, might teach us that an in-
nocent creature, considered merely as such, can.
properly speaking, have no right or title to any good
thing, nor make any challenge or demand upon his
crciitor. All right or title that any creature can have
to any good thing at the hand of God, must be the re-
sait of some condescension on God's part, in making
a covenant of grace with his creature, and treating
him as a probationer. There is no other conceivable
way in v.hich a creature can plead any title before
God. And the experience w^e have already had of a
probation- state, under both the first and the second
covenant, might be reasonably supposed sufficient to
convince us of the usefulness and propriety of a me-
diator, even in our best estate. And for the same
reason we ought to acknowledge the propriety and
usefulness of a mediator to cAery rank of rational
beings, how many, or hov/ noble soever we may sup-
pose them to be.

How greatly does it enlarge our conceptions of the
glorious and exalted character of our divine Re-
deemer, when we consider him as the beginning of
the creation of God, the first-born of every creature,
and the miiversal mediator by whom every order ol
rational creatures throughout the whole system, en-
joy access to God, and communion with liim i above


■what our views of him will be, if we confine his me-
diatorial influence to the single race of fallen Adam ?
Especially when we turn our thoughts upon the
countless number of the several and different ranks
of creatures which are to be found among the works
of the great Jehovah. How countless and innumera-
ble are the number of worlds which God has made 1
If v/e may give credit to modern astronomy, which,
as it is founded upon the mathematics, tiiat of all sci-
ences, is the least liable to deceive, clearly discovers
the number of world'i that God hath made, to exceed
our most lively imagination. Our Solar System con-
tains six primary Planets, one of which especially, is
more than an hundred times as large as this earth ;
and there are ten secondary planets like the moon,
which accomplish their several revolutions round the
primary ones, as they do round the sun. So that
there ar^ no less than sixteen worlds included in our
solar system, all receiving their light and heat from
the sun.* Add to this, the late transit of Venus
across the sun, has discovered a small satellile or
moon attending that planet also, which, by reason of
its situation between us and the sun, escaped the ob-
servation of the ancients. Such also as have been
accounted as spots in the sun, are more rationally
supposed to be less planets revolving round the sun
jn less circles. And even the sun itself, the source
of light and heat to the whole system ; although vul-

* This work was written previous to the late discoveries
In Astronomv.


garly accounted a great mass of fire, is rauch more
reasonably esteemed an electrical machine) which is
very consistent with the supposition of its being
well replenished with rational inhabitants, capable of
iinowing, glorifying and enjoying the great God of
the universe. Instead therefore of sixteen, there
maybe sixty vyorlds included in this Solar System.

Some will say, who knows of inhabitants in any of
these planetary worlds ? I also \\ill ask, who has any
reason to doubt of it ? Was not God as able to create a
race of rational beings in them, as he was to form man
on the earth ? The only reason why any can doubt of
there being inhabitants in the planets, is because they
cannot conceive how God should be sufficiently great,
good and powerful as to make so many worlds, fill
them v/ith inhabitants, and exercise a constant kind
providence over them. The only objections we can
bring against it, arise from our too low and mean con-
ceptions of the incomprehensible Jehovah ! Tis true,
we read, these lights were set in the firmament for
signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years.
That is, these, are the purposes for which they were
to serve this earth. But does it therefore follov/ that
these are the only purposes for which their maker de-
signed them ? Why should they not be replenished
with animal and rational life, as well as this earth,
when many of them are much greater, and as well
formed for such a purpose ? Nor is conjecture all that
may be pleaded in this case. For the apostle express-
Iv tells us that all things visible and invisible were


made by Christ, and for liim. But in v/hat sense can
the planets, which arc certainly included in things
visible, be said to be inade for Christ, especially con-
sidered in his mediatorial character, which is the
point the apostle is there discoursing upon, unless
there are dwelling in them, some rational inhabitants,
between whom and God, Christ performs the office
of a mediator ? Many other texts also might be al-
ledged to the same purpose, which carry in them a
strong implication, that the planetary worlds are stor-
ed with rational inhabitants, all gathered together in-
to one, in Christ, and united to God through him.
Contemplations on these things tend greatly to en-
large our conceptions, and exalt our thoughts of the
great God, and of his son Jesus Christ, the universal

It will serve the same valuable end to turn our at-
tention to the stars, whose number is a countless mul-
titude. Such as are visible to the naked eye, are in-
deed a great multitude ; and yet, these are compara-
tively fev/ to the number which become visible by the
assistance of glasses. Now these stars being consid-
ered as so many suns in the centre of as many systems
of planetary worlds, each of them as numerous as
our solar system ; it will cause the number of worlds
that God hath made, to increase beyond the stretches
of the most lively imagination. How amazingly ex-
tensive are the dom.inions of God, the inexhaustible
fountain of existence, who counteth the number of
the stars, and calleth them all by their names I Thh

xii PREFACi:.

should teach us to veil our faces before him, and
adore the infinitely incomprehensible author of nature,
and fountain of life.

It is truly surprising to see the boldness of some
conceited mortals in their arraignment of God, in his
works, in hi^ laws, and in the discoveries which he
hath made of himself to us, in his word ; particularly,
in denying, and even bantering the mysteries of the
Trinitij, and the incarnation. Must these things be
denied because we cannot comprehend them ? The
smallest parts of God's M'orks contain mysteries that
we cannot understand. Where is the philosopher
that can explain so small a matter as muscular mo-
tion, a power daily exerted by the most contem-ptible
insect ? How then shall we be ai)le to comprehend
the nature and manner of the existence of him who
has displayed but pa.rt of his perfections in the forma-
tion, preservation, and government of such a countless
multitude of worlds ?

When we turn our thoughts upon the incompre-
hensibleness of the Almighty Creator, it should teach
us to think and speak with modesty, concerning his
moraLgovernment, in sufTering sin to take place a-
mong his creatures The introduction of moral evil
is confessedly attended with some difficulty. But
let it be considered that a state of probation must ne-
cessarily be such in the nature of it, as to admit of a
possibility of sinning. For unless the state of trial
be such that it is possible for sin to take place, there
cmi be really no trial of the obedience of the creature.


ir then, a possibility of sinning is essential to a state
of trial, where is the ground of admiration, when we
find sin has in fact, took place among God's crea-
tures ? If the state of trial in which the creature is
placed, is such, that humanly speaking, there is a
greater probability of sinning, than of standing, it will
confessedly bear hard upon the wisdom and goodness
of God. But when the prospect of standing is equal
to that of falling, it cannot be denied to be a fair trial.
And if the prospect of standing, is much greater than
that of fulling, as was the case with our first parents
in their trial under the first covenant, we have rea-
son to acknowledge divine wisdom and goodness ap-
pearing in the constitution, altho' the event was that
man fell.

In opposition to this, some may alledge an argu-
ment from facts. Anrcls did fall, and the human
race have fullen ; which are all the creatures we know
of J therefore we have reason to conclude from these
facts, that the state of trial under v/hich both were pla-
ced was such as to render their falling the most pro ]
bable event.

To this I answer, we are not at present, under a ca-
pacity to form a judgment from facts. 'Tis true,
the first human pair did fall, and some angels have
fallen : But when we lift up our eyes to the starry
heavens, thousands of miiiions of worlds present
themselves to our contemplation, doubtless well re-
plenished v/ith rational inhabitants, in none of which,
for what yet appears, bus sin taken place. Among all


these, our world as far as we at present know, is the
only one in which sin has entered And if a possi-
bility of sinning is essential to a state of trial, why
should it be thought strange that one world among so
many millions, should be tainted with it ?

Another objection that some may have against the
following discourse, is, that it tends to weaken the ev-
idence of the divinity of our Savior, as it leads us to
apply many of those texts to his mediation, which
Triviitctrian writers have improved for the evidence of
his divinity ; and thus tends to undermine that gospel
mystery. And I readily grant, the following trea-
tise will naturally lead us to explain many texts, as
speaking of the mediatorial character and influence of
the Lord Jesus Christ, which have been by some, un-
derstood as a proof of his God-head. But instead of
weakening, this discourse tends to confirm the truth
of these revealed mysteries of the Trinity, and the in-
carnation ; for they evidently lie at the foundation of
the brief system here advanced, and are the chief cor-
ner stone on which it rests. Gospel truths have ma-
ny times suffered by the injudicious conduct of their
friends, in their improving many texis in proof of
them, which altho' the expressions detached from
their connexion seem to favor them, yet when duly
examined, will appear to have another meaning. And
•\vhen it is found, that many of those texts which are
brought in proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, upon a
fair examination contain a different meaning ; they
•will be ready to conclude that all otncr texts brought


in support of that truth, clc likewise really mean some*
thing else, provided we could hit upon their true in-
terpretation. But if no texts were brought in proof
of the doctrine, but such as plainly speak to the poir^t?
and can fairly admit of no other interpretation, many
of the triumphs of the adversaries would have been
prevented. The doctrine of the Trinity, and of the
divinity of our Savior, arc points plentiiully attested
by texts which can have no other construction put up-
on them. I will mention one, John i. 3, " All things
were made by him.** If any should say, that God
created the Logos with such noble powers, that h«
was able to make the world, which is the common
Socinian evasion ; I will affirm such men use words
without ideas. It is by the works of creation we know
there is a God. As says the apostle, Rom. i. 20, " For
the invisible things of him from the foundation of the
world, are clearly seen, being understood by the
things that are made, even his eternal power and God-
head." If these words are true, the truth of which is
established both by the light of reason and divine rev-
elation ; and if the Logos did create the world, as is
expressly scid ; then we have, in the works of crea-
tion, the convincing evidence of his eternal power
and God-head ; wl.ich is the highest evidence we
can have that there is a God. If therefore God cre-
ated the Logos with such noble powers that he was
capable to make the v/orld ; it is but saying in other
words, t/iaC one God can make another. Therefore^


besides the absurdity of a created Gcd, tbe Deij>t>
the Arian, or Socinian, will be obliged to give up his
creed, by his own argument ; and to embrace that of
Polytheism, or Atheism, between which there is. no^-
iiauch to choose.


I. CORINTH. XV. 21,22.

For since by man came deaths by man came "also the
resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die.,
even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

iV-LTtlOUGH the apostle here treats of the doc-
trme of the lesurreclion of the dead with a speciul
reference to the sdnts, yet it is manifest he does not
mean to confine it to snch ; for all both good and bad,
shall be raised from the dead, in the last vlay. " All
that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the
Son of God, and shall come forth, they that have done
£':ood, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that
have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.'*'
The apostle speaks of the resurrection of the dead
in the text, in such general terms as to include all
mankind. ''As in Adam, all die; so in Christ
shall ALL be made aiive." And it is evident that the'
resurrection of the wicked is the fi'ult of Chri';t*s
purchase, as well as that of the righteous ; for all
those that died in Adam, are made alive in Christ.
" For since by man came death by man came also
the resurrection of the dead." The ruin of mankind
by Adam, and their recovery by Jesus Christ, are ve-
ry interesting subjects here set before ub j each of
which I purpose to consider.


The ruin of mankind by the fall of Adam, first de-
mands our attention.

The ruin brought upon us by the apostacy of our
first parents, is a matter which should be carefully
looked into, that we may entertain just thoughts of
that divine constitution under which we have fallen
into an estate of sin and misery, and may truly know
what our fallen state is. Wc are prone to entertain
very dishonorable thoughts of God, on account of
those covenant transactions v/ith our first parents
whereby we arc involved in a state of sin and misery
through their apostacy. But if we carefully look
into that matter, and viev/ it in the light in which it
is set before us in the word of God ; wc shall see
reason to acknowledge that the dispensation under
which God at first placed man, was not only just, but
very wise and gracious ; although Adam by his mis-
conduct under it, brought ruin upon himself and his
posterity. And for a distinct view of these things? I
shall consider,

I. The state in which man was at first created.

II. The covenant transactions of God with man in
his first estate.

III. The- fall of Adam, and the state into which he
thereby brought himself and his posterity.

I. I shall inquire into the state in which man was
at first created.

In the beginning, God created man in his own im-
age, and after his likeness. Man was made a little
lower than the angels : yet he was made perfect in his
kind. His natural faculties were wisely suited to the
state which his Maker designed him for, and every
way fit for the performance of the duty which God
required of him. And full provision was made for
his being completely blessed in the favor of God, and
in the enjoyment of him.

The perfection of man in his first state, consisted
in his being made in the image and after the likeness
of God. And it will greatly help us in the knowledge


of the true character of man, to get a clear ar>cl dis-
tinct view of this divine imas^e, or wlierein it consist-
ed ; because that is a leading point, and wiil g-reatly
assist us in our after inquiry, as will appear in tiie sc-
Cjuel. But our present subject makes it necessary to
consider this divine image, more especially as it is of
a moral kind ; of which I would give this general

The moral image of God ih ivJiich mail
created^ is the irfi/iression of such a liktness to God^
that man might be said to be covformuble to him in all
vioral res/iects.

This image and likeness of God on the soul, has a
respect both to the communicable, and to the inc

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Online LibraryMoses MatherA systematic view of divinity; or, The ruin and recovery of man → online text (page 1 of 21)