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Sieved also, for how can an action that is really to come to pass he foreseen, it" it be not determined f God knew every thing from the beginning; but this he could not have known if he had not so determined it. If, also, God be infinitely wise, it cannot be conceived that he would leave things at random, and have no plan. He is a God of order, and this order he observes as strictly in the moral as in the natural world, however confused things may appear to us. To «ooceive otherwise of God, is to degrade him, and is an insult to his perfections. If he, then, be wise and unchangeable, no new idea or purpose can arise in his mind; no alteration of his plan can take place, upon condition of his creatures acting in this or that way. To say tiiai this doctrine makes him the author of sin, is not justifiable. We all allow omnipotence to be an attribute of Deity, and that by this attribute he could have prevented sin from entering into the world, had he chosen it; yet wc see he did not. Now he is no more the author of sin in one case than the other. May we not ask, Why does he suffer those inequalities of Providence? Why permit wnole nations to lie in idolatry lor ages I Why leave men to the most cruel barbarities? Why punish the sins of the fathers in the children? In a word. Why permit the world at large to be subject to pains, crosses, losses, evils of every kind, and that for so many thousands of years ? And, yet, will any dare call the Deity unjust.' The fact is, our finite minds know but little of the nature of divine justice, or any other of his attributes. But, supposing there are difficulties in this subject (and what subject is without it?) the Scripture abounds with passages which at once prove the doctrine, Matt. xxv. 34. Kom. viii. 29, 30. Eph. i. 3, 6, 11. 2 Tim. 1.9. 2 Thess. ii. 13. 1 Pet. i. 1, 2. John, vi. 37. John,xvii.2 to 24. Rev. xiii. 8. Rev. xvii. 8. Dan. iv. 35. 1 Thess. v. 19. Matt. xi. 26 Exod. iv. 21. Prov. xvi. 4. Acts, xiii. 48. The moral uses of this doctrine are these. 1. It hides pride from man.—2. Excludes the idea of chance. —3. Exalts the grace of God.—4. Renders salvation certain.—5. Affords believers great consolation. See Dec R E Es Of God ; Necessity ; King, Tofila dy, Coofler, and Tucker, on Predestination ; Burnet on li'Art. Whitby and GUI on the Five Poima; Wesley's Pred. considered; Hill's Logica Wesleiensis ; Edward* on the Will; Pol/iili on the Decrees; Edwards's Veritas JHedur; Saurin's Sermons, vol. v. ser. Tj ; Dr. Williams's Sermon on Pred.
PRE-EXISTENCE OF JESUS CHRIST, is his existence before he was burn of the Virgin Mary. That he really did exist before is plain from John, iii. 13. John, vi. SO, 8cc, John, xvii. John, viii. 58.1 John, i. 4: but there are various opinions respecting this exist, ence. Some acknowledge, that in Jesus Christ there is a divine nature, a rational soul, and a human body. His body, they think, was formed in the Virgin's womb ; his human soul, they suppose, was the first and most excellent of all the works of God; was brought into existence before the creation of the world, and subsisted in happy union in heaven with the second person in the Godhead, till his incarnation. These divines differ from those called Arians, for the latter ascribe to Christ only a created deity.whereas »ke former hold his true and proper divinity: they differ from the Socinians, who believ? no existence of Christ before his incarnation: they differ from the Sabellians, who only own a trinity of names: they differ, also, from the generally received opinion, which is, that the human soul began to exist in his mother's womb, in exact conformity to that likeness unto his brethren, of which St. Paul speaks, Heb. ii. 17. The writers in favour of the pro-existence of Jesus Christ's human soul recommend their thesis by these arguments.
1. Christ is represented as his Father's messenger, or angel, being distinct from his Father, sent by his Father long before his incarnation, to perform actions which seem to be too low for the dignity of pure Godhead. The appearances of Christ to the patriarchs are described like the appearances of an angel,or man really distinct from God; yet such a one, in whom God, or Jehovah, had a peculiar indwelling, or with whom the divine nature had a personal union.
2. Christ, when tie came into the world, is said, in several passages of Scripture, to have divested himself of some glory which he had before his incarnation. Now if there had existed before this time nothing but his divine nature, this divine nature could not properly divest itself of any glory. J have glorified thee on earth; I have finished the work thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.— Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sokes he became fioor, that ye through his fioverty might be rich, l.Am, xvii 4, 5. 2 Cor. viii. 9. It cannot
be said of God that he became poor : he is infinitely self-sufficient; he is necessarily and eternally rich in perfections and glories. Nor can it be said of Christ as man, that he was rich, if he were never in a richer state before, than while he was on earth.
It seemsneedful that the soul of Christ should pre-exist, that it might have an opportunity to give its previous actual consent to the great and painful undertaking of atonement for our sins. It was the human soul of Christ that endured the weakness and pain of his infant state, all the labours and fatigues of life, the reproaches of men, and the sufferings of death. The divine nature is incapable of suffering. The covenant of redemption between the Father and the Son is therefore represented as being made before the foundation of the world. To suppose that simple deity or the divine essence, which is the same in all the three persona'ities, should make a covenant with itself, is inconsistent.
Christ is the angel to whom God was in a peculiar manner united, and who in this union made all the divine appear ances related in the Old Testament.
God is often represented in Scripture as appearing in a visible manner, and assuming a human form. See Gen. iii. 8. xvii. 1. xxviii 12. xxxii. 24. Exod. ii. 2, and a variety of other pa-sages.
The Lord Jehovah, when he came down to visit men, carried some ensign of divine majesty: he was surrounded with some splendid appearance. Such a light often appeared at the door of the tabernacle, and fixed its abode on the ark, between the cherubims. It was by the Jews called tile She/cinah. i. e. the habitation of God. Hence he is described as dwelling m light and clothed with light at with a garment. In the midst of this brightness there seems to have been sometimes a human shape and figure. It was probably of this hea venly light that Christ divested himself when he was made flesh. With this he was covered at his transfiguration in the Mount, when his garments were white as the light; and at his ascension into heaven, when a bright cloud received, or invested him: and when he appeared to John, Rev. i. 13. and it was with this he prayed his Father would glorify him.
Sometimes the great and blessed God appeared in the form of a man or angel. It is evident that the true God resided in this man or angel; because on account of this union to proper deity, the angel calls himself God, the Lord GodHe assumes the most exalted names
and characters of Godhead, And the spectators, and sacred historians, it is evident, considered him as true and proper God : they paid him the highest worship and obedience. He is properly styled the angel of God's firetence— The (messenger or) angel of the covenant, Isa. lxxii. 1- Mai. iii. 1.
The same angel of the Lord was the particular God and King of the Israelites. It was he who made a covenant with the patriarchs, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, who redeemed the Israelites from Egypt, who conducted them through the wilderness, who gave the law at Sinai, and transacted the affairs of the ancient church.
The angels who have appeared since our blessed Saviour became incarnate, have never assumed the names, titles, characters, cr worship belonging to God Hence we may infer that the angel who, under the Old Testament, assumed divine titles, and accepted religious worship, was that peculiar angel of God's presence, in whom God resided, or who was united to theGodhead in a peculiar manner; even the pre-existent soul of Christ, who afterwards took flesh and blood upon him, and was called Jesus Christ on earth.
Christ represents himself as one with the Father: I and the Father are one, John, x. SO. xiv. 10, 11. There is, we may hence infer, such a peculiar union between God and the man Christ Jesus, both in his pre-existent and incarnate state, that he may be properly called God-man in one complex person
Among those expressions of Scripture which discover the pre-existence of Christ, there are several from which we may derive a certain proof of his divinity. Such are those places in the Old Testament, where the angel who appeared to the ancients is called God, the Almighty God, Jehovah, the hard of Hosts, I am that I am, &c
Dr. Watts supposes, that the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul of Christ explains dark and difficult scriptures, and discovers many beauties and proprieties of expression in the word of God, which on any other plan lie unobserved : For instance, in Col. i. 15, Sec Christ is described as the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature. His being the image of the invisible God cannot refer merely to /it's divine nature; for that is as invisible in the Son as in the Father: therefore it seems to refer to his pre-existent soul in union with the Godhead. Again: when man is said to be created in the image of God, Gen. i. 2. it may refer to the God-man, to Christ in his pre-existent state. God says, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. The word is redoubled, perhaps to intimate that Adam was made in the likeness of the human sou! of Christ, as well as that he bore something of the image and resemblance of the ilivine nature.
On the other side it is affirmed, that this doctrine of the pre-existence of the human soul of Christ weakens and subverts that of his personality. 1. A pure intelligent spirit, say they, the first, the most ancient, and the most excellent of creatures, created before the foundation of the world, so exactly resembles the second person of the Arian trinity, that it is impossible to show the least difference, except in name—2. Th« pre-existent intelligence supposed in this doctrine, is so confounded with those other intelligences called angels, that there is great danger of mistaking this human soul for an nnfre.1, and so of making the person of Christ to consist of three natures.—3. If .lesus Christ had nothing in common like the rest of mankind except n body, how could tht3 semi-conformity make him a real man? —4. The passages quoted in proof of the pre-existtnee of the human soul of Jesus Christ are of the same sort with those which others allege in proof of the pre-existence of all human souls — 5. '1 his opinion, by ascribing the dignity of the work of redemption to this sublime human soul, detracts from the deity of Christ, and renders the last ns pas sire as the first active.—6. This notion is contrary to Scripture. St. Paul says, in all things it behoved him to be made like his brethren: he partook of all our infirmities, except sin. St. l.uke says, he Increased In stature and in wisdom, Heb. ii. 17. Luke, ii. 52 See articles Jesus Christ, and Indwelling Scheme; Robinson's Claude, vol. i.p. 214, 311; Watt's Works, vol. v. p. 274,385; GUP* Body of Div. vol. ii. p. 51 ; Robinson's flea, p. 140; Flew ir.g's Christohgy ; Sim/non's jftology for the Trin p. 190: Hawktrs's .SVr on the Divinity of I 7,-r «/, p. 41, 4.5.
PREMONs I'll ANTES, or Vrx. Monstratkivsks, a religious order of regular canons, instituted in 1120 by S. Norbsrt, and thence called Norlxrtines, The rule they followed was that of St. Augustine with some s'ij-ht alterations, and an addition of certain severe laws, whose authority did not long survive their founder.
They first came into England A D. 1U6. Their first monastery, called!
I New-house, was erected in LincolnIsh ire, by Peter de Saulia, and dedicated | to St Martial. In the reign of Edward I. this order had twenty-sewn monasteries in England.
PRESBYTER. See next article; and articles Deacon. Elder.
PRESBYTERIANS. The titbPrcsbyterian comes from the Greek word rifirgwnf<x, which signifies senior or elder, intimating that the government of tne church in the New 1 estament was by presbyteries, that is, by association of ministers and riding elders, possessed all of equal powers, without any superiority among them, either in office or order. The Presbyterians believe, that the authority of their ministers to preach the Gospel, to administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, and to feed the flock nt Christ, is derived from the Holy Ghost hy the imposition of the hands of the presbytery; and they oppose the independent scheme of the common rights of Christians by the same arguments which are used for that purpose by the Episcopalians. They affirm, however, that there is no order in the church as established by Christ and his apostles superior to that of presbyters; that all ministers being ambassadors of Christ, are equal by their commission ; Uiat presbyter and bishop, though different words, are of the same import; and that prelacy was gradually established upon the primitive practice of making thcmorirra.'or or speaker of the presbytery a permanent officer.
These positions they maintain against the Episcopalians by the following Scriptural arguments.—They observe. That the apostles planted churches by ordaining bishops and deacons in every city; that the ministers V.iich in one verse are called bishr.ps, are in the next perhaps denominated presbyters; that we no where read in the New Testament of bislv-ps, presbyters, and deacons, in any one church; and that, therefore, we are under the necessity or concluding bishop and fircbyler to be two i.ames for the same church offi; cer. This is apparent from Peter's exhortation to the elders crfmsbym who were among the Jewish Christians. •The elders (presbyters) which are among you 1 exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the :inTerlngs of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of Godwhichis among you.taking the ovfritght thereof, (yrmtmefiK acting as bishops thereof,) not by constraint, but willinglv; not for fillhv lucre, but of a
ready mirgel ; neither as being Lord's |at all seasons. And now, I know that over God's heritage, but being ensam. ye all, among whom I have gobe preachples to the flock, 1 Pet. v. 2, 3. From ing the kingdom of God, shall see my inis passage it is evident that the pres- | face no more. Wherefore I take you byters not only fed the dock of God, but to record this day, that I am pure from also governed that flock with episcopal | the blood of all men. For I have not powers; and that the apostle himself, shunned to declare unto you all the as a church officer, was nothing more counsel of God. Take heed, therefore, than a presbyter or elder. The identity unto yourselves, and to all the flock of the office cf bishop and presbyter is over which the Hold Ghost hath made still more apparent from Heb. xiii. 7, \ you overseers (EXITRONOUS, bishops.) to 17. and I Thess. v. 12. for the bishops | feed the church of God, which be hath ore there represented as governing the purchased with his own blood For I flock, speaking to them the word of know this, that after my drparture shall God, watching for their souls, and dis- grievous wolves enter in among you, charging various offices, which it is im not sparing the flock. Also of your own possible for any man to perform to more selves shall men arise, speaking perthan one congregation.
verse things, to draw away disciples af. “ from the last viird text it is evident ter them. Therefore watch, and rethat the bishop's (2001) 4 veyous) of the member that, by the space of three Thessalonian churches had the pasto- years, I ceased not to warn every one Fal care of no more souls than they, night and day with tears And now, could hold personal communion with in brethren, I commend you to God, and God's worship; for they were such as to the word of his grace,' &c. all the people were to know, esteem, 1 " From this passage it is evident that and love, as those that not only were there was in the city of Ephesus a pluover them, but also closely laboured rality of pastors of equal authority, ainong them, and adınonished them.'.!! without any superior pastor or bishop But diocesan bishops, whom ordinarily over them; for the apostle directs his the hundredth part of their flock never discourse to them all in common, and hear nor see, cannot be those bishops gives them equal power over the whole by whom that flock is admonished ; nor Hock. Dr. Hammond, indeed, imagines, can they be what Peter requires the bi- that the elders whom Paul called to Mishops of the Jewish converts to be, en lletus, were the bishops of Asia, and samples to the flock. It is the opinion that he sent for them to Ephesus, be: of Dr. Haminond, who was a very cause that city was the metropolis of learned divine, and a zealot for episco- this province. But, were this opinion pacy, that the elders whom the apostle well founded, it is not conceivable that James desires (Jas. v. 14.) the sick to tie sacred writer would have called call for, were of the highest permanent hem the elders of the church of Epheorder of ecclesiastical officers; but it is ous, but the elders of the church in geself-evidentthat those elders cannot have neral, or the elders of the churches in been diocesan bishops, otherwise the Asia. Besides, it is to be remembered, sick must have been often without the that the apostle was in such haste to be reach of the remedy proposed to them. at Jerusalem, that the sacred historian
“There is nothing in Scripture upon measures his time by days ; whereas it which the Episcopalian is more ready must have required several months to to rest his cause than the alleged epis- call together the bishops or elders of all copacy of Timothy and Titus, of whom the cities of Asia ; and he might certhe former is said to have been bishop tainly have gone to meet thein at Epheof Ephesus, and the latter bishop of sus in less time than would be requisite Crete ; yet the Presbyterian thinks it is for their meeting in that city, and proclear as the noon day sun, that the ceding thence to him at Miletus. They presbyters of Ephesus were supreme must therefore have been either the governors, under' Christ, of the Ephe-l joint pastors of one congregation, or the sian churches, at the very time ibat pastor's of différent congregations in one Timothy is pretended to have been their city; and as it was thus in Ephesus, so proper diocesan.
it was in Philippi; for we find the apos" In Acts, xx. 17, &c. we read, :battle addressing his epistle to all the from Miletus Paul sent to Ephesus, saints in Jesus Christ which are at Phi. and called the elders (presbyters) of lippi, with the bishops and deacons.' the church. And when they were come From the passage before us it is like to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from wise plain, that the presbyters of Ephethe first day that I came into Asia, afsus had not only the name, but the fer wirat mauner I have been with you whole prower of bishops given to them
ey the Holy Ghost; for fhey are enjoined to Jo the whole work of bishops —^rot/jutmn T»f niurai T3i/ 6i9u—which signifies to rule as well as feed the church of God. Whence we set-that the apostle makes the power of governing inse parable from that of fireachmg and viatthing; and that, according to him, all who are preacher's of God's word, and watchmen of souls, are necessarily rulers or governors of the chuvch, without being accountable for their management to any prelate, but only to their Lord Christ, from whom their power is derived.
"It appears, therefore, that the apostle Paul, left in the church of Ephesus, which he had planted, no other successors to himself than firesbyterbitho/ia, or Presbyterian ministers, and that he did not devolve his power upon any prelate. Timothy, whore the Episcopalians allege to have been the first bishop of Ephesus, was present when this settlement was mad*', Acts, xx. 5; and it is surely not to be supposed that, had he been their bishop, the apostle; would have devolved the whole epis- i copal power upon the presbyters before li is face. If ever there were a season fitter than another for pointing out the duty of this supposed bishop to his diocese, and his presbyters' duty to him, it was surely when Paul was taking his | final leave of them, and discoursing so pathetically concerning the duty of I overseer*, the coming of ravenous i wolves, and the consequent hazard of) the flock. In this farewell discnurse he! tells them that 'he had not shunned to' declare unto them all the counsel of: God.' But with what truth could thisi have b?en said, if obedience to a din-1 cesan bishop had been any part of their | duty, ekher at the time cf the apostle's speaking, or at any future period? He I foresaw that ravenous wolves would en-1 ter in among them, and that even some j of themselves should arise speaking per' verse things; and if.as the Episcopalians! allege, diocesan episcopacy was the remedy provided for these evils, Ir it not strange, passing strange, tl-.it the inspired preacher did not fnres-.-e that Timothy, who was then standing beside him, was destined to fill that important office : or, if he did foresee it, that he omitted to recommend him to his future charge, and tn give him proper instructions for the discharge cf his duty.'
"But if Timothy was not bishop of Ephesus, what, it may be asked, was his office in that city? for that he resided there for some time, and was by the apostle invested with authority to
ordain and rebuke presbyters are facts about which all parties are a^eed, and which, indeed, cannot be controverted by any reader of Paul's epistles. To this thi! Presbyterian replies, with confidence, that the power which Timothy exercised in the church of Ephesus was that of an evangelist, Tim. ii. 4, 5. and not a fixed prelate. But, according to Eusebius, the work of an evangelist was, 'to lay the foundations of the faith in barbarous nations, and to constitute among them pastors, after which he passed on to other countries.' Accordingly we find that Timothy was resident for a time at Philippi and Corinth (Phil. ii. 19. 1 Cor. iv. 17. xvi. 10, 11.) as well as Ephesus, and that he had as much authority over those churches as over that of which he is said to have been the fixed bishop. 'Now, if Timothetis come, see that he may be With you without fear, for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man, therefore, despise him." This text might lead us to suppose that Timothy was bishop of Cnrinth as well as of Ephesus; fof it is stronger than that upon which his episcopacy of the latter church is chiefly built. The apostle , says, 1 Tim. i. 3. 'I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into I Macedonia, that thou mightest charge i some that they teach no other doctrine.' | But, had Timothy been the fixed bishop of that city, there would surely have \ been no necessity for beseeching him to ! abide with his flock. It is to be observed, to:i, that the first epistle to Timothy, I which alone was written to him during I his residence at Ephesus, was of a date I prior to Paul's meeting with the elders of that church at Miletus; for in the | epistle he hopes to come to him shortly; | whereas he tells the elders at Miletus that they should stc his face no more. This being the case, it is evident that Timothy was left by the apostle at Ephesus only to supply his place during his temporary absence at Macedonia; j and that he could not possibly have been constituted fixed bishop of that church, since the episcopal powers were after'. wards committed to the presbyters by the Holy Ghnst in his presence.
"The identity of the office of bishop and presbyter being thus clearly estaj blished, it follows, that the prrsbyterate' is the highest permanent office' in the church, and that every faithful pastor of a flock is successor to the apostles in every thing in which they were to have any successors. In the apostolic office there were indeed stime things peculiar and extraordinary, such as their imme