Samuel Hopkins.

The system of doctrines : contained in divine revelation, explained and defended. Showing their consistence and connexion with each other. To which is added a treatise on the millenium (Volume 1) online

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^ ^ MAY 21 1965 ^

BY SAMUEL HOPKINS, D. n>4£5£l25-^






No. 53 Cornhill.


Published according to Act of Congress,


SYSTEMATIC Divinity is considered and treated,
by many, with slight and contempt. And if a book be
written in this form, and published under the title of a
System or Body of Divinity, this is a sufficient reason,
with them, to neglect it, as not worthy their attention.
But can this be supported by any good reason ? Is not
a System of Divinity as proper and important, as a
System of Jurisprudence, Physic, or natural Philos-
ophy ?

If the Bible be a revelation from heaven, it contains
a System of consistent important Doctrines ; which are
so connected, and implied in each other, that one cannot
be so well understood, if detached from all the rest, and
considered by itself ; and some must be first known,
before others can be seen in a proper and true light.
When all these are stated, and explained, according to
Scripture, and in their true order, connection and de-
pendence, a System of Doctrines is formed. This
every person must do in some measure and degree, w^ho
understands the Bible. And he who would assist
others in doing this, and set the Doctrines of Christian-
ity in a clear light, and to the best advantage to be un-


derstood, will, of course, form a System of Truths.
And so far as he falls short of this, or deviates from it*
he must be defective and confused.

If the following System do indeed contain the chief
and most important doctrines of Christianity ; and they
be, in any good measure, explained and vindicated,
shewing their consistence and connection with each
other, the reader, it is hoped, will get some advantage
by it. If it should be thought by any that it contains
great errors and inconsistencies, it is to be wished, for
their sake, and for the sake of truth, that they would
not confidently rest in their conclusion, or drop the sub-
ject, till they are able to fix on a system of truths more
consistent, and which can be better supported by the
scripture, and are more agreeable to sound reason.

It is presumed, the author will not be suspected of
going through the labour of composing the following
work with a view of rendering himself popular, and ob-
taining the general applause ; or that he has sought to
''please men." The most that can be reasonably ex-
pected, is, that it may serve to confirm the friends of
truth in the doctrines contained in the scripture ; and
enlighten some of those who have been in the dark re-
specting some truths, and have been inconsistent with
themselves in the doctrines they have espoused : And
that it may assist the honest inquirers to see what are
the leading and most important doctrines of divine reve-
lation ; particularly those who are candidates for the
evangelical ministry.

It is not pretended that every doctrine of Christianity
is expressly mentioned in this System ; but that the
most important and essential truths are brought into
view : And of these some are treated more concisely ;
and others are more particularly examined and vindi-
cated, as was judged most convenient and useful.


Nor was it thought necessary, or expedient, to mention
all the objections which have been made to the doctrines
here advanced, as they are sufficiently obviated, by es-
tablishing the truth, from scripture and reason ; and as
this would have enlarged the work to an undesirable
length : Those only are mentioned, by an answer to
which, the truth is more explained and established.

The same sentiments are brought into view, and
repeated, in a number of instances ; which could not
well be avoided, in such a work : And it is hoped, that
such repetitions will not be inconvenient or tedious to
the reader.

To the most correct and elegant style, the author
makes no pretension ; as this is not his talent. If the
words and expressions be not ambiguous, but are suited
to convey the ideas, designed to be communicated to the
mind of the reader, with ease and clearness, the chief
and most important end of language is answered : And
it is hoped, that they who are, with proper attention and
concern, inquiring after the truth, will exercise so much
candour, as not to be offended, or slight it, though it be
not expressed in words and a style, more agreeable to
their nice and critical taste ; and they may observe a
number of inaccuracies.

This work has been undertaken and prosecuted, un-
der a conviction, that a performance of this kind is much
wanted ; and, if well executed, would be very useful,
and greatly serve the cause of truth and religion. It is
to be wished there were a more able hand, disposed to
execute it : But as none appeared to do it, the author
has done his best. Yet he doubts not that there are ma-
ny defects ; and is not confident that he has made no
mistakes in less important points ; while he has not the
least doubt that the chief and leading doctrines here
advanced are contained in the Bible, and are important


and everlasting truths : And that all those sentiments,
and schemes of doctrine and religion, which are wholly
inconsistent with these, and contrary to them, are not
consistent with the Bible, or with one another ; and, if
followed in their just consequences, will lead to universal
scepticism, and, which is the same indeed, to the horri-
ble darkness of atheism itself.

The truth is great, and has omnipotence to support it ;
and therefore will prevail : And all erroneous doctrines,
and false religion, will be utterly abolished. And there
is no reason to doubt, that light wall so increase in the
church, and men will be raised up, who wdll make such
advances in opening the scripture, and in the knowledge
of divine truth ; that w^hat is now done and written, will
be so far superseded, as to appear imperfect and incon-
siderable, compared Avith that superior light, with
which the church will then be blessed. Nevertheless, if
publishing that to which we have ?io%v atttained, may
be a mean of making such advances, and a proper
and necessary step to it, the labour and expense of doing
it, will be abundantly compensated.

Ne%vport, August 20, 1792.



CHAPTER L Concerning Dhine Rcuclation 9

CHAP. IL On the Being and Perfections of God 39
CHAP. IIP On the Unity oj God and the

Trinity 76

CHAP. IF. On the Decrees of God - - 84
CHAP, V. Concerning the Creation of the

World, and of Man in particular - 186
CHAP. VI. Concerning Dinine Providence in

general 202

CHAP. VIL Concerning the Providence of God

as it respects Moral Agents - 208

SECT. I. On the Providence of God as it re-
spects the Angels - - - ib.
SECT. IL On the Providence of God as it respects

Man in a state of Innocency - - 217
CHAP. Fill. On the Apostasy of Man, and the

evil Consequences of it, - - 254


. CHAP. I. Containing Ge?ieral Observations on

the Redemption oJ Man 303

^ CHAP, IL Concerning the Person and Charac-
ter of the Redeemer - - - 326

- CHAP. III. Concerning the Design and Work

of the Redeemer - - . 393


CHAP, IF. On the Application of Redemption 447
SECT. L On the Application oj Redernption

in general - . . _ ^-^

SECT, II. On Regejie ration - . - 451

SECT III. On Comjersion - . - 461

SECT IF. On Disinterested Affection . 465

SECT F. Concerning Dimne Illumination . 491






IT is evident from reason, fact and experience, that
mankind stand in need of a revelation from God, in or-
der to know what God is— wliat is their own true state
and moral character — whether he be reconcileable to
them, who have rebelled against him — and if he be, what
is the method he has appointed, in which he will be re-
conciled ; and what man must be and do, in order to
find acceptance in his sight : Wherein true happiness
consists — whether there be another state— what are the
favours he will grant in a future state, to those who serve
and please him in this life — what are his grand designs
in creating and governing the world, &c. The igno-
rance and uncertainty, with respect to these most impor-
tant points, in which all men have been and still are,
who have enjoyed no such revelation, is a constant,
striking evidence of this.

There are, indeed, those who refuse to admit this evi-
dence ; and insist that human reason alone, unassisted
by any revelation, except what is made in the works of
creation and providence, is sufficient to investigate every
necessary and important truth ; and therefore think
themselves authorized to reject and despise every other

VOL. I. 2

10 Concerning Divine Revelation. Pa


revelation that pretends to come from God, as the con-
trivance and production of designing, or weak, deluded
men. But \\ hile they entertain so high an opinion of
human reason, and especially their own, in the face of
the glaring evidence from fact and experiment, just now
mentioned, they have produced an incontestible evidence
of their own sad mistake ; for upon examination, the
writings of the deists are found to contain numerous con-
tradictions to each other, on points of the highest mo-
ment ; and most of them have embraced for truth, many-
tenets most unreasonable and absurd. Thus, when
they have renounced revelation, and boasted of their own
reason, and relied upon that, as a sufficient and infallible
guide, they have all, or most of them, run into darkness
and delusion. And at the same time, there is abundant
evidence, that all the real light and knowledge they ap-
pear to have in divine things, which they attribute to the
unassisted exercise of their own reason, and which is
more than the benighted heathen have, originated from
that very revelation, which they discard and despise.
With great propriety therefore they have been compared
to a man w^ho is in a room, illuminated by the bright
shining of a candle, and thereby is assisted to behold the
objects around him distinctly : But being ignorant of
the assistance which he has from the candle, imagines
he discerns those objects by the strength of his own
sight ; and therefore despises and endeavours to extin-
guish that light, which, if withdrawn, would leave him
wholly in the dark.* Besides, there is this farther evi-
dence against them, and in favour of the revelation which
they renounce, viz. It does not appear, that by all their
writings and attempts, they have made any reformation
in the morals of men, or that so much as one man has
been reclaimed from a vicious course of life, and become
sober, humble, benevolent, pious and devout, by being
made a convert to them : But, on the contrary, most, if
not all their disciples, are of a character directly the re-
verse of this ; and they are most admired by men of
vicious character, or who at least are evidently without

• See Leland's View of the Deistical Writers. And Clarke on revealed
religion. Proposition vii.

Chap. I. Concerning Divine Revelation. 11

those virtues which are essential to constitute a truly
religious man.

Moreover, if the revelation they discard represents
men to be in such a state of depravity and vicious
blindness, as to be disposed to shut their eyes against
the clearest light, and to treat it as these men in fact do
treat the Bible ; and foretells this same treatment and
conduct of theirs, as it certainly does ; while they are
thus slighting and rejecting it, they are really giving a
strong evidence of its divine original.

But, to return : The usefulness and necessity of such
a revelation is abundantly evident from fact, and has
been implicitly or expressly acknowledged by many
of the most wise and inquisitive among the heathen.*
Hence we may conclude, that God has given one to
men : And when we find ourselves in possession of a
book which has all the marks and evidence that we can
reasonably expect or desire, that it is indeed from
God, and suited to answer all the ends of a divine
revelation, we shall be very criminal, if we do not re-
ceive it with gratitude, and improve it to promote all
the important purposes for which it is given.

Such a revelation we find to be contained in the book
called the Bible, or the holy scriptures. For while all
other pretended revelations from God, which have been,
or now are found among men, are without all proper
evidence of their being such, and carry evident marks
of imposture, which has been abundantly demonstrated,
by those who have examined them : This has stood the
test of the severest scrutiny both of its friends and ene-
mies, and the more it has been examined, the more
clearly does it appear, that all the objections which
have been made against it are futile and groundless ;
and that there is sufficient and abundant evidence, that
it is from God, suited to give satisfaction and a well
grounded assurance of its divine original, to every impar-
tial, honest mind.

The first part of this book was written by Moses,
after he had given abundant evidence, by a series of as-
tonishing miracles, done in the sight of the Egyptians,

* See Dr. Clarke on the truth and certainty of the christian revelation.
Proposition yii.

12 Concerning Dmne Revelation, Part I.

and all Israel, that he spake and acted, under the influ-
ence and direction of the supreme Ruler of the universe,
and had sufficiently established his character, as a
prophet di\ inely inspired. Moses said he was sent by
Jeho\ah, the only true God, the God of Israel, to de-
mand of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let his people
go out from under his oppressive hand ; and foretold
that if he refused to do it, God would slay his first born
son. Pharaoh said he knew not who Jehovah was, and
bid defiance to him, declaring he would pay no regard
to his demand. This gave opportunity for an open
trial and decision, whether Jehovah, the God of Israel,
was the true God, or the gods of Pharaoh and the
Egyptians. The priests and the magicians of Egypt
were collected, and entered the dispute with Moses.
They wrought several miracles, in imitation of those
which Moses did in the name of the God of Israel ; but
there was an evident, decided superiority in those
wrought by Jehovah. And the contest went on, till at
length they were not able to stand before Moses, and
confessed publicly that Jehovah was God, and superior
to theirs. Moses went on doing wonders, in the sight
of all Egypt, and inflicting various successive judg-
ments on Piiaraoh, and on the Egyptians ; at the same
time particularly foretelling the miraculous chastisement
which Jehovah had revealed to him he would inflict.
At length, Moses informed Pharaoh, that if he should
still persist in refusing to let Israel go out of Egypt,
Jehovah had said to him, that he would slay all the
first born in Egypt ; and this was foretold to all Israel ;
which accordingly came to pass : And the Egyptians
were made to fear and tremble before the God of Israel,
and entreated his people to pray to him for them, ac-
knowledging he was the supreme God. Thus Israel
went out of Egypt, as Jehovah had promised they should,
and were led through the Red Sea, the waters dividing
to make them a way, at tlie direction and command of
their God ; while Pharaoh and the Egyptians, who were
so hardy as to follow them, were all drowned in the
waters. Thus Jehovah publicly triumphed over all the
gods of Egypt, and executed judgment upon them ;
and by the fullest and most incontestible evidence es^

Chap. I. Concerning Dhine Re'uelation. 13

tablishcd his character as the only true God. The peo-
ple of Israel felt, and solemnly acknowledged this, at the
Red Sea ; and they were led on by the hand of Moses,
attended with a constant course of miracles, unto Mount
Sinai. On that Mount, God appeared in a manner suited
to manifest his presence and awful glorious majesty, and
excite their utmost attention, fear and reverence ; and
then, from the top of the mountain, out of the fire, with
a voice that could be distinctly heard by all that vast
multitude, consisting of at least three millions of people,
he spake the ten commandments, and added no more.
They were after vv'ards written on two tables of stone, by
the finger of God ; which was most probably the first writ-
ing by letters in this world : * And Moses, being taught of
God to read it, and so how to write, was directed and
inspired by God to write the history of the creation of
the w orld, and the events which had taken place since ;
and of mankind, so far as was necessary these things
should be recorded and known ; and, more particularly,
the history of the origin of the Hebrews, and the events
of divine providence respecting them. As this is the
first, and oldest, so it is the only authentic history of the
creation of the world, and of mankind, from the begin-
ning to that time, which is an era of about two thousand
five hundred years. Moses also wrote a code of laws
for that j;eople, which he said were dictated to him by
God, containing many promises and threatenings, togeth-
er with a number of typical institutions, which vvere
shadows of things to come. And there are many pre-
dictions in his writings, which have already come to
pass ; especially that God would raise up unto them that
great prophet, the Messiah, of w horn he himself was a
type ; and if they would not hear him, they should be

God having thus established his character, as the only
true God, by abundant and most clear evidence .; and
magnified Moses in the sight of the Egyptians and all
Israel, as his servant and prophet, directed and inspired
by him both to do, and to say, all that he did and said,
in the name of Jehovah ; he forbid them to hearken

* See Dr Winder's history of the rise, progress, declension and revival
of knowledge, chiefly relig-ious.

14 Concerning Dhine Revelation, Part I.

to a prophet, or any other person, who should arise and
do wonders and miracles, not in the name of Jehovah,
but of some other god, with a view to draw them away
from obedience to the God of Israel, to worship ajid
serve other gods. And every one who \^ ill attentively
consider the subject, must at once see both the reasona-
bleness of this injunction, and the wisdom and goodness
of God in laying a proper foundation for it, and then
giving it by Moses to Israel. For Jehovah having
given all the evidence that could be reasonably expected
or desired, by a series of public incontestible miracles,
appearances, words and works, that he was the only true
God ; which all Israel had, under the fullest and most ra-
tional conviction, acknowledged, over and over again, and
under this conviction, solemnly given themselves up to
him, as their God ; and promised to renounce all other
gods, and cleave to, and obey Jehovah alone, as their
God : It became them never from that time to call in
question what had been made so abundantly evident,
but with the greatest assurance, and the most sincere
abhorrence, reject every thing which was evidently con-
trary to the light and revelation they had received ; and
not pay the least regard to any wonders and miracles,
pretended to be done, or really wrought, to prove that
Jehovah was not the only true God, and in favour of
other gods.

These things have been observed, to show with what
abundant evidence and assurance the church of Israel re-
ceived the writings of Moses, as divine oracles, the in-
fallible dictates of Heaven, which he was inspired to re-
veal and communicate ; while it is at the same time ac-
knovv^ledged there are many other things which have not
been here brought into view, which serve to strengthen
this evidence, and show that to make any other supposi-
tion, and not to admit these writings as the oracles of
Heaven, is most absurd, shutting the eyes against the
most glaring light, and doing violence to every principle
of reason.

After Moses, other prophets and inspired men were
raised up to write the history of that nation ; to declare
the will of God, in reproving, directing and exhorting ;
and adding threatenings and promises, to deter them fronji

Chap. I. Concerning Dhine Re-v elation. 15

rcbellion against Jehovah, and excite them to obey him.
Whose writings also contain innumerable predictions of
things to come, many of w hich are already come to pass ;
those in particular w hich foretold the coming of the
Messiah, his incarnation, death, resurrection, exaltation
and reign : and the events that should attend his coming
with regard both to Jews and Gentiles, &c. &c. And in
these writings there is a constant reference to the things
contained in the writings of Moses, the wonders wrought
by his hand, when they were delivered from a state of
bondage in Egypt, &c. and to the institutions and laws,
which by him were given to Israel : And at the same
time there is a perfect consistence and harmony, between
these writings and those of Moses.

The last prophet, ^vhc)se writings we have, lived about
four hundred years before Christ ; so that the sacred
writings which were given to the church of Israel, and
which they received as divine oracles, and have carefully
kept and preserved, not only to the time of the incarna-
tion of Christ, but even down to this day, were written
at different times, by different men, through the space
of above a thousand years, from Moses the first, to
Malachi, the last ^vriter. And yet they all agree ; and
the latter constantly refer to the writings of Moses, and
what is contained in them ; and therefore they mutually
strengthen the evidence, that they all wrote by inspira-
tion, as most of them declared they did. And Malachi
concludes with foretelling the coming of Christ, and di-
recting the church of Israel to attend to the laws and in-
stitutions of, and obey them, until Christ should
come ; and to expect no more divine revelation, till that
time ; plainly intimating, that then some further revela-
tions from God should be given to the church.^ Thus
the standing, written revelation, given lo the Jewish
church, was finished ; and they w^ere commanded not to
attempt to make, or expect any addition to it, till the
dav s of the Messiah.

Should it be said, that perhaps all these writings were
forged by some wicked, designing man, or set of men,
and that the facts and miracles therein related never did
take place, nor was Moses, or any other man, inspired
of God to write these things ; but they were imposed

* Mai. iv. 4,5.

16 Concerning D'mne Reiidation, Part I.

upon that nation, and they were made to believe that
which never had any reahiy : Such a supposition will
appear most unreasonable, and even impossible, on the
least reflection. When, and how, could this be done ?
How could that nation, even all of them, old and young,
learned and unlearned, at any time be made to believe
that all these things related in the writings of Moses,
concerned them, and which he said took place publicly,
and that they w^re seen and acknowledged by the whole
nation ; and that all those rites and laws had been re-
ceived in a miraculous way from Jehovah, by their an-
cestors, and handed down, and practised from genera-
tion to generation, if there was no truth in all this ; but
they were all novo invented, and they never had any ex-
istence, or were heard of before, by any of them ? This
is perfectly incredible, and absolutely impossible. And
it is equally incredible, that a whole nation should at any
time receive such writings, and pretend they were all
genuine and true, and handed down from their fathers,
when at the same time they knew there was no truth in
it, but was real imposture and delusion. Who can be-
lieve, that any nation or people under heaven, could
ever be brought to do this ; and receive and practise all
those burdensome rites and ceremonies, and hand them
down to their children as the institutions of Heaven,

Online LibrarySamuel HopkinsThe system of doctrines : contained in divine revelation, explained and defended. Showing their consistence and connexion with each other. To which is added a treatise on the millenium (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 48)