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before the decree of God's will, doth represent a quiddity of things, and only a possible existence; as they are considered after the determination of God's will, they represent the same things as actually to come, according to their actual existence; from that divers consideration, there ariseth distinction of divine knowledge, into that which is called knowledge of simple understanding, and knowledge of vision. Knowledge of simple intelligence, is of all possible things that is, of all and every thing which may be done by most perfect knowledge in God. Knowledge of vision is the knowledge of all future things, whether they be in their own nature necessary, or free, or contingent. These things that God knows by the knowledge of simple intelligence, or mere understanding, he knows by his allsufficiency; but those things that he knows by knowledge of vision, he knows by his efficiency, or by the decree of his own will. Psa. xxxiii. 15.-He that warmeth their hearts observeih all their works, Isai. xliv. 2.-Who as I foretelleth and declareth it, or ordereth it to me, from the time that I disposed the people for ever; that the thing to come, and which shall come to pass may be declared to them.
A middle knowledge by which God is fained of some to have known before the decree of his will by supposition, such event to come to pass, if such causes were put; seeing that it doth determine both events to come certainly to pass independently from God's will, and doth make some knowledge of God to depend chiefly on the object; I say such a knowledge cannot stand with the great perfection of God. The Divine ideas, according to the variety of notions which are in the things, doth put on divers aspects. In respect of the principles, it is called intelligence, whereby God perceiveth every several thing in every thing: in respect of truth belonging to every severalahing it is called science, which as to the extent of it is called omniscience; and as to that being which things have in their proper measure, is called prescience ; in respect of the dependance of truth, which they hare among themselves, it is called sapience, whereby he knoweth what is convenient for every thing, and what is disappointed in practice, it is called prudence, whereby he knows how to apply the fitiest occasions to every thing : lastly, in respect of putting in practice, it is called art, whereby he knows how to effect all things most skilfully. Heb. xi. 10. These words are often used promiscously in scripture, to explain the perfection of divine understanding to the capacity of those, who have an understanding very imperfect; yet of their own nature they admit this distinction and not another. That conjectural knowledge which only some do give to God, about contingent things to come, doth plainly repugne the nature and perfection of God.
(To be Concluded in our next.)
THE SERPENT'S FOOD, AND THE CHILDREN'S FARE FROM THE
“ The poison of asps is under their lips." “They shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." It is a most undoubted truth, that, as in the planetary system one star differs from another in glory, so it is in the church of Godthough the elect are loved alike, chosen and provided for alike, and shall all be partakers of the same glory in ultimate bliss ;-the infant who died this day, and the mind of the apostle Paul will be alike there ; yet, in the church militant it is not so. God, the Divine Spirit, is a sovereign in all his dispensations; and while some of the people of God have scarcely been known here, but through the solitary lane of life, have pursued the noiseless tenor of their way--treasures hid in the sand-a sparrow alone--a pelican of the wilderness and, as finely described by one of our poets
“ Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear ;
And lose its sweetness in the desert air.” But though this is the case with many, yet some have been most highly favoured, and have shone with peculiar lastre in the church of God.
All the prophets testified of the adorable Redeemer, but Isaiah shines like a star of the first magnitude. His qualifications were great, and his writings truly sublime, yet his success was but small. A minister of small talents may be more successful in his public work than a man of greater, but this is according to the sovereign good will and pleasure of God. He clearly foretells the incarnation of our Lord ; his mind was led to trace him through a life of sorrows, while he foretells his most intimate acquaintance would be GRIEF, but bis ren ard would be GLORIOUS. His name should be great in all the world, and everlasting honours paid him as God. man-Mediator. This was the joy set before him, for which he en. dured the cross, and thought light of the shame the Father bath therefore highly exalted bim, and given him a name above every other, that at his name every knee should bow, if not in this world, to the sceptre of his grace and mercy, they shall to his iron rod in hell. It is very probable that this prophecy began to take place upon the spread of the gospel in the land of Judea, and in the Gentile world; when there was a new face of things, so that the whole looked like a new world. The gospel ran,-had free course--and was glorified; sinners, of every sort and size, were converted to God-tbe Redeemer saw the travail of his son l-and the Holy Spirit displayed the love, grace, and mercy of God in all its glory. Vol. iv.-No. III.
The freeness of grace was seen in the objects it noticed ; the
power of it was seen in the conquests it gained; its sovereignty was seen in passing by those who bid fairest in their own eyes for glory. While grace revealed these things unto babes, others not interested in them, heard enough to hate them-rejected them altogetherand persecuted those who had received them. These persecutions were attended with many advantages to the saints; none were hurt etfectually, nor any bud of the tree of life, nor any budding hope, destroyed in all God's holy mountain. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb”—so it reads in the 11th chapter of the book of Isaiah ;and lxv. 25. it is the same shall feed together;" if they dwell together, they must consequently feed together.
I remark, i hat it was the eternal design of God to show himself to his people as the God of grace ; so the apostle words it, “that in ages to come he might show unto him the exceeding riches of his grace and kindness towards us, by Christ Jesus." This he has done in all ages, in its divine sovereignty, freeness, and powers, upon those characters who may justly be compared to ravening wolves, who worried, and made sad havoc among Christ's sheep. Such bitter persecutors have been called out of darkness into life, the heart being changed, the life and conduct were changed too; for this is the design and the conquest of grace. It is to be lamented that many while in the world, have been sad opposers of the doctrines of the gospel-these take up a profession, and however promising in appearance, they still oppose the main doctrines of the cross. Then, I ask, What has grace done for them? In a profession they are, but in a state of reconciliation they are not. But the scriptures tell us, that “the wolf and lamb shall feed together,"— that what the lambs feed on, such the wolf should, when God converted them to the truth.
Here the saints are compared to lambs for their harmlessness and innocence; and such they are in their new-creature state. We may see this passage verified in the apostle Paul-he was of the tribe of Benjainin, of whom Jacob said, he should "ravin as a wolf." Thus did Saul of Tarsus against the sheep of Jesus. He barrassed - he made sad slaughter among them. But, oh! the wonders of grace, that tamed, bumbled, and reconciled him to the Saviour and his dear people; that he laid down at the feet of the Lamb of God. He fed with the lambs in the same fold, and he was brought to feed them afterwards. Thus, the wolf and the lamb fed together; and is not this true to this bour? Is not the same grace manifested to us who were, by nature, enemies to the Saviour, his ministers, and people; as such, to his doctrines and ordinances. We could, perhaps, recollect the time, when our prejudices were strong against these things, but, glory be to free grace alone, we are changed; we are never happy but at the feet of Jesus, and feeding on bim, his word, and in his ordinances-the food on which we live.
This promise may refer to the two natures in every believer, sin and grace. The sinful nature of the believer is not changed " that which is born of the flesh is flesh,”-it will be a wolf all its days; though it may be kept in, by Almighty grace, through deep trials and sore conflicts ; yet every believer is, in his new man, lamb-like, though often worried by the wolf of his own corruptions. Yet these must dwell together till death; these walk, these rise up, and lie down together; this is our plague, our affliction and distress ; and though we are condemned as lovers of sin, we can assure our foes we should be glad to get rid of it. Sin is a burden to the new man; so we feel it. This sinful nature feeds on earth, and every thing that is contrary to God; but the new man, only on the great things of God. May not this refer to the state of the church of God, not only in her feelings, but plagued with those who are hypocrites in Zion-tares among the wheat-goats among the sheep-and wolves in sheep's clothing.
This is the sad state of the saints; at times they are ready to cry out with Job, “Let not the hypocrite reign, lest the souls of the righteous be ensnared.” And with the Apostles, “ Lord shall we root them up?" But, no; these wise and foolish virgins must be together till the midnight cry is made, then there will be an happy, but awful separation ; but these dwell together now, in the same church, at the same table ; sit in the same seat; look just the same as the saints ; claim the same promises, and boast the same light ; talk of what they never felt, and in full, though daring and presumptuous confidence, are, in their own esteem, going to the same glory.
Hence God complains of them, “ Also thou son of man, the children of thy people are talking against thee, by the walls and in the doors of the bouses-(how true have I found this !)-and they come unto thee as my people coineth, and they sit before thee as my people, and they bear thy words, but do them not; and lo, thou art to them as a very lovely song, of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument, for they bear thy words but, they də them not." Ezek. xxxiii. 30. Doing them is believing --receiving the truth in the love of it; and by experience proving the truths we preach. There are wolves that are in sheep's clothing - these feed upon sounds, but the lambs upon substance.
Under another metapbor we shall point out the food of such wolves and goats—they are distinct from the sheep, and will be found so in the last great day, Matt. xxv. “ The lion shall eat straw like the bullock.'
be considered in an awful sense, to which I rather incline, because it does not say they shall lie down together, nor that they shall eat the green pastures of Christ, but straw. It may signify a person who has heard of the gospel and rejected it, to whom it has become the savour of death unco death. These may become fierce and cruel opposers of the gospel; as they attempt to stab religion in its vitals. These are
called by the apostle, adversaries, who have scorned the Saviour, despised his blood, and opposed his truths. Witness some that have heard the gospel, and once professed all the truth, who have since turned Arians, Socinians, Sabellians, Pre-existerians and Arminians, and are now wickedly and spitefully using all their argu: ments and influence against the truth, and to deceive souls. These Jions are coupled with the bullock in the text: by whom we may understand per: ecutors. Hence our Lord complains, “ Fat bulls of Bashan enclose me on every side.” David prays, " Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people. And God, by Isaiah, threatens them in tremendous language, chap. xxxiv. 7. These characters are said to eat straw - by which we may understand, the refuse of the Lord's floor; not wheat, but chaff, stubble, and straw, fit fuel for fire-who must and will be driven out of the church, the barn-floor--whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor-he will burn up the chaff with fire! These hypocrites, apostates, impostors, and their errors, are the delight of such characters, and God has coupled them together, in the 1st chapter of Isaiah, “ And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together; and they that forsake the Lord shall be consuined.”
I now come to that part of the verse which is our text. I shall consider,
First.–The serpent. And,
First. The serpent, absolutely and figuratively. The word serpent, in the scripture, means, ist. naturally the creature itself.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field.” 2nd. A miraculous one, as Moses' rod was turned into a serpent 3rd. A delusive one, or one in show. The magicians cast their rods on the ground, and they became serpents. -4th. An artificial one.
Moses made a serpent of brass. But sometimes it sig. nifies the devil-hence he is called that old serpent. And some times the enemies of Jesus and his people ; " Ye serpents! ye generation of vipers! How can ye escape the damnation of bell ” Satan is called a serpent, because he bid himself in the serpent in his first stratagem against our first parents.
Because of his serpentine disposition, in poison and malice against Christ and his church; and in his winding, by his flattery, craftiness, and his accursed condition,
The first account we have of him is very early. Originally created in light, he envied the honours paid the adorable Trinity; or he envied the Lord Jesus Christ the glory he was to obtain as Godman, the Eternal Son. He disbelieved the eternal power and faithfulness of God. He drew millions of angels into rebellion with him. He abode not in the truth; for which he was cast in the prison of bell. His sin seems to be an awful implication of pride, envy
and unbelief. Cast out of bliss; held in the chains of darkness,