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let us believe that “there are Three that bear record in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and that these Three are One*.'
si John v. 7.
CHARACTER AND PERFECTIONS OF GOD, AS DELINEATED
IN SCRIPTURE, AND EXEMPLIFIED IN HIS DEALINGS
WITH MEN. Deuteronomy xxxii. 4. He is the Rock; His work is perfect, for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth, and with
out iniquity ; just and right is He. Next to the belief of a God, it is incumbent on every one, who desires to worship him aright, and to secure his favour, to think, speak, and act towards him in full accordance with the revelation which he has given of himself in the Scriptures ; lest, framing to hinself an imaginary God, he should reverence a mere creature, that has no existence, but in the excursions of the wildest fancy.
The behaviour of men towards God too clearly proves that his character is not rightly understood, and duly estimated. Some exalt one of his attributes at the expense of another: extolling the mercy of God beyond all bounds, they overlook his justice, and thus flatter themselves with a false and fatal peace, , though they go on frowardly in their wickedness. Others presumptuously say, The Lord will neither do good nor evil ; because he does not “ speedily execute sentence" against their ungodly deeds: These mistakes, so pernicious in their consequences, spring from wilful ignorance of the spotless holiness of the Divine Character, which will be found at last to accord most fully with the representations of his Word. The experience of all ages shews, that although
Ecclesiastes viii. 11.
reason, in its proper exercise, enables us to discern some feeble glimmerings of the excellence and glory of God, yet that if we would form just conceptions of his Divine Majesty, we must approach the Bible with a teachable spirit, and bow to its infallible instructions on the subject.
This submission of our understanding to the oracles of God is rendered expedient by the darkness and corruption of our natural state, which disqualifies us for forming suitable notions of a Spiritual Being, whose glory is exalted far" above the heavens," and whose“ truth and mercy reach unto the cloudsb.”
If we leave such a guide, we shall fall, like the unenlightened Heathen, into the grossest errors; and be in danger, in the extravagance of our imaginations, “of changing the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things."
I shall endeavour, therefore, as conipendiously as possible, to describe the character of God, as He hath drawn it ; that learning from his own mouth the excellence of the Divine Nature, we may gives Him the honour due unto his name, and, in adoration, exclaim, “ Ascribe ye greatness unto our God: He is the Rock; His work is perfect ; for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without iniquity ; just and right is Hed." : 1. The Sacred Volume attributes self-existence, and eternal duration, to God. Jehovah possesses “ life in Himself®," and a felicity which admits of no augmentation or decrease. He exists in and of Himself, independent of any extrinsic cause whatever. “I am that I am : this is my name for ever; and this is my memorial unto all generations'.” All other Beings had
» Psalm cviii. 4–6. c Rom. i. 23. • Deut. xxxii. 3, 4. • John v. 26.
*Exod. iii. 14, 15,
once no existence at all. God formed them by his resistless power, and is able to reduce them in a moment to their primitive nothingness.
Jehovah, on the contrary, has been from everlasting, what he now is, in essence, felicity, and perfection; and will continue the same for ever 8. Hence
styles himself “ the High and Lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity h.”
Reflections on the ceaseless existence of God are capable of answering two valuable purposes : they afford strong consolation to his people, by shewing that he ever liveth, and will be the source of their happiness through countless ages in heaven; and they are calculated to fill the souls of transgressors with terror, when they consider that the everlasting God can inflict on thein a punishment commensurate with their guilt.
2. God is immutable: his decrees, and purposes, his love, and hatred, continue invariably the same towards their respective objects. “ He is in one mind, and who can turn Himi?" The whole creation is subject to continual change and fluctuation: even man, the noblest work of God, is liable to various mutations from good to evil : but in the Lord Jehovah “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning k." The name of a “ Rock," by which he is frequently called in Scripture, denotes his unchangeable nature, as well as his faithfulness to his covenant engagements. As a rock remains unmoved amidst the perpetual agitation of the surrounding ocean, so God continues absolutely “ the same yesterday, today, and for ever';" whilst every created object is constantly tossed about by unforeseen circumstances. & Psalm cii. 25-28. h Isai. lvii. 15. Job xxiii. 13. * James i. 17.
1 Heb: xiii. 8.
This excellency of the Divine Being renders him worthy of the unshaken confidence of his Saints, towards whom his love is from “everlasting ";" and it suggests to all men the duty of manifesting an invincible hatred to unrighteousness, and of walking, with undeviating constancy, in the path which leads to immortal glory.
3. The Scriptures affirm, that "God is a Spirit”;' by this expression we are taught, that he possesses an infinite understanding, an absolute perfection of will, consciousness, and power. These properties, peculiar to the Divine Spirit, exalt him infinitely above inert matter, which is totally different from him: and we must remember, that God surpasses, in real excellence, all created spirits, infinitely more than they do the material creation. We are to conceive of him, not only as a living, intelligent, active Being, essentially distinct from all the bodies which our eyes behold, but as possessing perfections which belong to no spirit he has formed, and infinitely distant from every imperfection adhering to them, such as, their existence within certain limits, their ignorance in numberless instances, and their defects in excellency; whilst God, the Father of the Spirits of all flesh, is infinite in knowledge, wisdom, power, and every perfection.
4. God is an omnipresent Being: he pervades, by his alt-enlivening influence, the whole universe, which is the work of his hands. How animated, and how inimitably sublime, is the language of Scripture on this subject ! “Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord'.' “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit ? or whither
m Jer. xxxi. 3. John iv, 24. Jer. xxiii. 24.
shall I flee from thy presence If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there : if I nake my bed in hell, behold thou art there: if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right-hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me: yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the night are both alike to theep."
By this representation we are taught to “worship God in spirit and in truth?,” and never to flatter ourselves with a hope of concealing our sins from Him whose eye roams throughout creation, “beholding the good and the evil.”
5. God is Omnipotent, and Almighty. That he is possessed “ of all power in heaven and earth,” he demonstrated, by creating the world, and all things, out of nothing. He called things into existence, and they suddenly rose up to proclaim their Maker's glory.“ By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He spake, and it was done: he commanded, and it stood fast".” The power of God is displayed in preserving the world which he has made: the uniform course and operations of nature bespeak the wise and resistless agency of the Lord. * He watereth the earth, and blesseth the increase of it." He causes the seasons to revolve: he retains the great luminaries of the heavens in their orbits, commanding “the sun to shine by day, and the moon and the stars to give their light by night.” “He worketh all things after the counsel of his own willo;" so that nothing happens which he does P Psalm cxxxix. 7-12.
9 John iv. 29, 24. * Psalm xxxiii. 6-9.
• Ephi. 11.