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Maker and Father of this universe,' even Plato styleth God. God is also the Father of all things, because he preserveth and sustaineth them by his power; · He,' saith the Apostle to the Hebrews, beareth up all things by the word of his power;' • He,' saith the psalmist, ' hath established them for ever and ever; he made a decree which shall not pass,' by virtue of which they subsist: also because he by a continual care doth provide for them; “They all,' saith the psalmist, 'wait on him, that he may give them their meat in due season ; what he giveth them, they gather ; be openeth his hand, they are filled with good :' he also governeth, and containeth them in good order; for, his kingdom ruleth over all;' and, whatsoever the Lord pleaseth, that doeth he in heaven and earth :' all this he doeth with goodness and affection ; for, his tender mercies are over all his works :' whence even among Pagans the word Pater absolutely put, did signify the Supreme God, they understanding thereby the Author, Preserver, and Governor of all things; and Pater omnipotens is the periphrasis, whereby the wisest poet doth usually express God.
2. More especially God is the Father of intellectual beings; he is styled “ the Father of spirits :' particularly the angels in way of excellency are called the sons of God: There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord :' and, When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy ;' in which place of Job the LXX. have úyyedol pov, 'my angels ;' (although perhaps there all God's creatures may be understood rejoicing and exulting, as it were, in their being, newly by the goodness of their Maker conferred on them :) agaiu, · Who,' saith the psalmist, ' in heaven can be compared unto the Lord ? " who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord ?' the sons of the mighty; it is in the Hebrew, the sons of God,' and so the LXX. render it; and what precedeth, - who in heaven,' doth make it, as it seems, best interpretable of the angels. Of such beings God is more especially the Father, because he did produce them in a more excellent manner; for other things he made as it were by his hand, these he breathed out of his mouth; as it is said of Adam, when God infused his soul into his body, that. God breathed into his nostrils the breath
of life;' because they more nearly resemble God in their nature and properties, (in spirituality, and independence on matter; in life, and self-moving; in immortality, and perpetuity of being; in understanding, and wisdom; in will, and goodness; or in a capacity at least of such perfections ;) because also he ruleth them in a nobler way; a way, not of blind and constrained obedience, but of wise and free choice, according to laws of justice, by obligations of ingenuity; because he likewise beareth a more dear affection unto them, and a peculiar care over them : in respect to these beings indeed the relation of father is more proper, because they only can be sensible thereof, and capable to render the duties of piety, gratitude, and willing obedience suitable thereto; Rational beings,' saith an Ethnic philosopher, are the sons of God, because they only are naturally fit to converse with God, being conjoined to him by participation of reason: ?* and thus indeed even the Pagan theologers, commonly from primitive general tradition we may suppose, did conceive the Supreme God to be the Father of the gods, (intending not such gods as were of man's devising, creatures deified by the flattery or fondness of the vulgar, but of higher rank, answering to our angels, whom they supposed as to approach in excellency of nature nearest to God, so to have derived their being from him, and to attend constantly on him, partaking of his glory, and observing his pleasure ;) whence Divúm pater, Father of the gods,' is a common periphrasis, or title of God among them; and particularly in the Timæus of Plato there is an oration, which he representeth God making unto those creatures presently on their creation, beginning thus; •0 ye chief gods, of whom I am the Framer and Father ;' concerning which gods that which he can say, he pretendeth to deduce from ancient original tradition. But to come nearer to our more particular concernment.
3. God is the Father, in a more especial manner, of mankind : ‘Have we not,' saith the prophet, one Father? hath not one God created us?' and Adam is called the son of God,' the genealogy of all men terminating in him; and, We are all
• Arr. Epict. i. 9.
God's offspring,' saith St. Paul: we are so, for that his hands made and fashioned our bodies ;' and for that he • formed our spirit within us,' as the prophet speaketh. He made us after his own image, so as signally to represent and resemble himself, in properties of nature, and in eminence of condition ; in this great family of visible creatures he hath assigned unto us the principal station, so that other creatures there are but as servants waiting on us; we are as children, depending only on him; he hath showed an especial tenderness of affection and good-will toward us, in providing for us all manner of needful sustenance and comfortable accommodation ; continually watching over us for our good, and holding us up,' as the psalmist speaketh, from our mother's womb;' bestowing on us good education, instructing us by the light of nature, or dictates of natural reason and conscience, by civil conversation, by the precepts of wise men, and examples of virtuous persons, by providential encouragements to good, and determents from evil; together with the secret whispers, advices, and motions of his grace ;) bearing with excessive patience our infirmities, miscarriages, and offences; using seasonable and moderate chastisements to reclaim us from bad courses to those which our duty and our advantage do require : in short, all God's dealings and demeanor toward mankind do argue in him a paternal regard thereto: whence even the blind Heathens discerned and acknowleged this general relation of God to men; and, Gentis humanæ Pater, atque custos, (O father, and keeper of mankind !') was an invocation suitable to their notion concerning him : from him they deduced our original; to him they ascribed the formation of our bodies, so full of wonderful artifice; from him they affirm our souls to be extracted ; from his goodness and care they supposed all the conveniences of life which we enjoy to be derived; they conceived him to bear a kind affection unto man, and to have a constant care over him ; as by many express testimonies might be showed, and from their practices evidently may be inferred.
4. Farther, yet more especially God is the Father of all good
* Hor. Carm. i. 12. Epict. i. 3. 9.
men ; such a relation being yet built on higher grounds and respects; for as good they have another original from him ; virtue springeth in their hearts from a heavenly seed; that emendation and perfection of nature is produced by his grace. enlightening and quickening them; they are images of him, resembling him in judgment and disposition of mind, in will and purpose, in action and behavior; the which resemblances do argue
them to be the sons of God, and indeed do constitute them such ; for, 'Love your enemies,' saith our Lord, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you—that you may be the sons of
Father in heaven ;' and · Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing thence ; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the sons of the. Most High.' Imitation of God in goodness and beneficence doth, we see, found a filial relation unto God : to such, God answerably doth bear a paternal kindness and compassion ; for, ' Like as a father pitieth his children, su,' saith the psalmist, the Lord pitieth them that fear him. He in all respects, dealeth with them as with his children ; ώς υιοίς προσφέρεται, as the Apostle to the Hebrews speaketh: he teacheth and guideth them with wholesome advice on all occasions; for, • What man is he that feareth the Lord ? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose ;' and, The steps of a good
are ordered by the Lord :' he gently removeth and correcteth them ; · Whom,' saith the wise man, “God loveth he correcteth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth :' he maintaineth them with all needful sustenance and accommodation without their care or trouble ; for, • Take no care,' saith our Saviour, 'saying, “ What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink ? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed ?– for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things ;' he so knoweth and considereth it, as to provide, that there shall not be,' as the psalmist affirmeth, 'any want unto them that fear him :' he protecteth them from all danger, supporteth them in all distress, and rescueth them from all mischief; for, His
eyes are open on the righteous—to deliver his soul from death, and to keep him alive in famine; he keepeth all his bones, so that none of them is broken-though he fall, he shall not utterly be cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his
hand; many are his afflictions, but the Lord delivereth him out of all.' Such paternal affections doth God bear, such paternal acts doth he exercise, toward good men; the which even Pagan wise men did apprehend; of whom one thus expresseth him-' self; “God,' saith he, hath a fatherly mind toward good men, and strongly loveth them—between them and God there is a friendship which virtue doth conciliate ; a friendship, do I say? yea, a kindred and similitude ; for that a good man is God's disciple and imitator, and his true offspring, whom that magnificent Father, no softly exacter of virtue, doth, after the manner of severe parents, educate hardly.'*
5. We may farther observe, that God in his proceedings with men, whereby he particularly designeth to contain them within bounds of duty, and thereby to lead them unto happiness, delighteth to represent himself under this obliging and endearing relation : thus he did in regard to his ancient people on all occasions express himself: · Who are Israelites, whose is the adoption ? saith St. Paul, reckoning this as the first of those privileges which appertain to the Jews; it was the commission to Moses ; • Thou shalt say 'unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn; and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me :' Moses also, foreseeing how that people would misbehave themselves, doth thus in God's name expostulate with them: . Do you thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise ? is not he thy Father that bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? • Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee :' David also thus addresseth himself to God in their behalf ; · Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our Father, for ever and ever ; thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty :' and, Doubtless,' saith Isaiah, 'thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowlege us not; thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer ; thy name is from everlasting :' and, I am,' saith God in Jeremiah, 'a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn;' Is Ephraim my dear son, is he a pleasant child ?' He is, the LXX. render it, in way of assertion, not of interrogation.
Sen. de Provid. 1. 2.