CHAP. I. Of Divinity in General.
IN the Preface or Introduction to Divinity, six things are to be considered, 1. That there is Divinity. 2. What Divinity is. 3. How it is to be taught. 4. How it may be learnt. 5. Its opposites, 6. The Excellency of Di∣vine Knowledge.
I. That there is Divinity.*
That is, a Revelation of Gods will made to men, is pro∣ved by these Arguments.
- 1. From the natural light of Conscience, in which* (we being unwilling) many footsteps of heavenly Know∣ledge and the divine Will are imprinted.
- 2. From the supernatural light of Grace; for we know that all Divine Truths are fully revealed in Scripture.
- 3. From the nature of God himself, who being the chiefest good, and therefore most* Diffusive of himself, must needs communicate the Knowledge of himself to reasonable creatures for their Salvation, Psal. 119. 68.
- 4. From the end of Creation; for God hath therefore made reasonable creatures, that he might be acknowledged and celebrated by them, both in this life, and that which is to come.
- 5. From common Experience; for it was alwayes acknowledged among all Nati∣ons, that there was some Revelation of Gods will, which as their Divinity, was esteemed holy and venerable, whence arose their Oracles and Sacrifices.
II. What Divinity is.*
The Ambiguity of the Word is to be distinguished.
Page 2Theology or Divinity is two-fold, either first, Archetypal, or Divinity in God,* of God himself, by which God by one individual and immutable act knows himself in himself, and all other things out of himself, by himself. Or second, Ectypal and communicated, expressed in us by Divine Revelation after the Patern and Idea which is in God, and this is called Theologia de Deo, Divinity concerning God, which is after to be defined. It is a Question with the Schoolmen, Whether Divini∣ty be Theoretical or Practical, Utraque sententia suos habet autores. But it seems (saith Wendeline) rather to be practical, 1. Because the Scripture, which is the fountain of true Divinity, exhorts rather to practice then speculation. 1 Tim. 1. 5. 1 Cor. 8. 3. & 13. 2. Iam. 1. 22, 25. Revel. 23. 24. hence Iohn so often exhorts to love in his first Epistle. 2. Because the end of Divinity, to which we are directed by pra∣ctical precepts, is the glorifying of God, and the eternal salvation of our souls and bodies, or blessed life, which are principally practical. Wendeline means (I con∣ceive) that the blessed life in Heaven is spent practically, which yet seems to be otherwise. Peter du Moulin in his Oration in the praise of Divinity, thus determines the matter: That part of Theology which treateth of God and his Nature, of his Simplicity, Eternity, Infinitenesse, is altogether contemplative, for these things fall not within compasse of action: that part of it which treateth of our manners, and the well ordering of our lives, is meerly practick; for it is wholly referred* unto action. Theology is more contemplative then practick, seeing contemplati∣on is the scope of action; for by good works we aspire unto the beatificall vision of God.
Theology amongst the Heathens did anciently signifie the Doctrine touching the* false worship of their gods; but since it is applied, as the word importeth, to signi∣fie the Doctrine revealing the true and perfect way which leadeth unto blessednesse. It may briefly be defined, The knowledge of the truth which is according to godli∣ness, teaching how we ought to know and obey God, that we may attain life ever∣lasting, and glorifie Gods name: or thus, Divinity is a Doctrine revealed by God in his Word, which teacheth man how to know and worship God, so that he may live well here and happily hereafter.
Divinity is the true wisdom of divine things, divinely revealed to us to live well and blessedly, or for our eternal Salvation. Logica est ars benè disserendi, Rhetorica ars benè loquendi, Theologia ars benè vivendi. Logick is an art of disputing well, Rhe∣torick of speaking well, Divinity of living well, Tit. 2. 11, 12. Iam. 1. 26, 27. It is such an art as teacheth a man by the knowledge of Gods will and assistance of his power to live to his glory. The best rules that the Ethicks, Politicks, Oeconomicks have, are fetcht out of Divinity. There is no true knowledge of Christ, but that which is practical, since every thing is then truly known, when it is known in the manner it is propounded to be known. But Christ is not propounded to us to be known theoretically but practically.
It is disputed, whether Theology be Sapience or Science. The genus of it is Sapi∣ence* or Wisdom, which agreeth first with Scripture, 1 Cor. 2. 6, 7. Col. 1. 19. & 2. 3. Prov. 2. 3. Secondly, with Reason; for, 1. Wisdom is conversant about the high∣est things and most remote from senses, so Divinity is conversant about the sublimest mysteries of all. 2. Wisdom hath a most certain knowledge, founded on most certain principles; there can be no knowledge more certain then that of faith which is pro∣per to Divinity.
The difference lurketh in the subject; Wisdom or Prudence is either Moral or Re∣ligious; all wisdom, whether moral and ethical, political or oeconomical, is exclu∣ded in the definition; and this wisdom is restrained to divine things, or all those Of∣fices* of Piety in which we are obliged by God to our neighbour.
Page 3The third thing in the definition is the manner of knowing, which in Divinity is singular and different from all other arts, viz., by Divine Revelation.
The fourth and last thing in the definition is the end of Divinity, which is, 1. Chief∣est, The glory of God, 2. Next, A good and blessed life, or eternal salvation, be∣gun in this life by the communion of Grace and Holinesse, but perfected in the life to come by the fruition of glory. This end hath divers names in Scripture, it is cal∣led, The knowledge of God, John 17. 3. Partaking of the Divine Nature, 2 Pet. 1. 4. Likenesse to God, 1 John 3. 2. Eternal Salvation, the vision and fruition of God, as the chiefest good.
The next end of Divinity in respect of man is eternal life or salvation, of which there are two degrees, 1. More imperfect, and begun in this life, which is called Consolation, the chiefest joy and peace of Conscience arising, 1. From a confidence of the pardon of sins, and of freedom from the punishment of it. 2. From the beginning of our Sanctification and Conformity with God, with a hope and taste of future perfection in both. 2. More Perfect and Consummate after this life, arising from a full fruition of God, when the soul and body shall be perfectly united with God.
III. How Divinity is to be taught.*
In the general it is to be handled Methodically. There is a great necessity of me∣thod in Divinity, that being usefull both to enlighten the understanding with the clearnesse of truth, and to confirm the memory, that it may more faithfully retain things; therefore in Divinity there will be a special need of art and orderly disposal of precepts, because the minde is no where more obtuse in conceiving, nor the me∣mory more weak in retaining. There is a different way of handling Divinity, ac∣cording to the several kinds of it. Divinity is threefold.
- 1. Succinct and brief, when Divine Truth is summarily explained and confirmed by Reasons, and this Divinity is called Catechetical, Systematical.
- 2. Prolix and large, when Theological matters are handled particularly and ful∣ly by Definitions, Divisions, Arguments and Answers; this is called handling of Com∣mon-Places, Scholastical and Controversal Divinity.
- 3. Textual, which consists in a diligent Meditation of the holy Scriptures, the right* understanding of which is the end of other instructions. This again is two-fold, ei∣ther more Succinct and applied to the understanding of the Learned, as Com∣mentaries of Divinity, or more Diffuse and Popular, applied to the Capacity and Affections of the Vulgar, as Preaching, which is called Patheticall Di∣vinity, and is especially usefull to correct the manners of men and stirre up their Affections.
IIII. How Divinity is to be learned.
There is need of a four-fold minde to the study of it:
- 1. Of a godly and heavenly minde, most ardent Prayers in our learning being frequently poured out to God, the fountain of light and wisdom, that dispelling the darknesse of ignorance and errour he would deign to illuminate our minds with the clear knowledge of himself; we cannot acquire Divine Wisdom (as we do the knowledge of other arts) by our own labour and industry; it is a praise to learn hu∣mane a•• of our selves, here we must be taught of God.
- 2. O• a sober minde, that we may not be too curious in searching out the pro∣found Mysteries of Religion, as about the Trinity, Predestination; we must be wise to Sobriety, and not busie our selves about perplexed and unprofitable Questions, being content to know such things which are revealed to us for our Salvation.
- 3. Of a studious and diligent minde; other arts are not wont to be gotten with∣out labour; this being the Queen of arts, requires therefore much pains both for its difficulty and excellency.*
- 4. Of an honest and good minde, Luk. 8. 40. We must learn, 1. With a denial of our wit and carnal reason, not measuring the unsearchable wisdom of God by our shallow capacities; 2. With denial of our wicked affections, 1 Pet. 1. 2, 3. 3. With a firm purpose of Obedience, Ioh. 7. 17. Psal. 50. 23. Prov. 28. 28.
- 1. Heathenism, being altogether ignorant of, and refusing the true and saving knowledge of God.
- 2. Epicurism, scoffing at Divinity.
- 3. Heresie, depraving and corrupting Divinity.
VI. The Excellency of Divine Knowledge, or the study of Divinity appeareth* in these particulars:
1. In the subject Matter of it, which is Divine, either in its own Nature, as God and Christ, aPsal. 70. 7. Ioh. 5. 46. or in relation to him, as the Scripture, Sacra∣ments. It is called The wisdom of God, Prov. 2. 10. & 3. 13. 1 Cor. 2. 6, 7. and That wisdom which is from above, Jam. 3. 17. If to know the nature of an Herb, or the Sun and Stars, be excellent; how much more to know the Nature of God? Aristotle held it a great matter to know but a little concerning the first mover and Intelligen∣ces. Paul desired to know nothing but Christ and him crucified, 1 Cor. 2. 2. b that is, he professed no other knowledge.Si Christum discis, satis est si caetera nescis;Si Christum nescis, nihil est si cetera discis.
In this Mystery of Christ God is revealed in the highest and most glorious way, 2 Cor. 4. 6. there is more wisdom, holinesse, power, justice discovered in the My∣stery of the Gospel, then was known before to men and Angels. Christ is the summe of all divine revealed truths, Luk. 24. 27. Acts 10. 43. Here is the onely knowledge which is necessary to make the man of God perfect, Col. 2. 3.
The Metaphysicks handle not things properly divinely revealed, but that which the Philosophers by the light of nature judged to be Divine.
- 2. In the End; The principal and main end of Divinity is the glory of God, that is, the Celebration or setting forth of Gods infinite Excellency; the secondary end is mans blessednesse, Iohn 17. 3.
- 3. In the Certainty of it; Gods Word is said to be sure, and like Gold seven times refined *, there is no drosse of falshood in it. The Academicks thought every thing so uncertain, that they doubted of all things.
- 4. In the Cause of it; These truths are such as cannot be known, but by Gods re∣vealing them to us, All Scripture was given by Divine Inspiration: Flesh and* bloud hath nor revealed this unto thee; a humane light is enough to know other things.
- 5. In the Holinesse of it, Psal. 19. 5. By them thy servant is fore-warned, 1 Tim. 3. 15. The word of God is able to make us wise to Salvation, and to furnish to every good work. Christ makes this a cause of the errour and wickednesse in mans life, that they do not read and understand the Scriptures.
- 6. In the Delight and Sweetnesse of it: Iob 23. 12. preferred the Word of God before his food; David before thousands of Gold and Silver, before the honey and the honey-comb, Psal. 19. 10. & 119. 103. and when he ceaseth to compare, he be∣ginneth* to admire; Wanderfull are thy Testimonies. Archimedes took great delight in the Mathematicks. Augustine refused to take delight in Tullies Hortensius, be∣cause the name of Jesus Christ was not there, Nomen Iesu non erat ibi. He sai•• in his Confessions, Sacrae Scripturae tuae sunt sanctae deliciae meae.
- 7. In the Excellency of the Students of it; 1. The Saints of God in the Old Te∣stament, the Patriarks and Prophets, 1 Pet. 1. 10, 11. 2. The Saints of God in the New Testament, Matth. 11. 25. Col. 1. 27. 3. It is the study of the Angels and Saints of God sn heaven, 1 Pet. 1. 12. Ephes. 3. 10. 1. The natural knowledge and enquiry of the Angels could never have discovered to them the Mystery of Christ in the Go∣spel. 2. They know it by the Church, that is (saith Oecumenius) by the several di∣spensations of God to his people under the Gospel.
- 8. In that the Devil and Hereticks oppose it; The Papists would not have the Bi∣ble translated, nor Divine Service performed in the vulgar tongue.