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sufficient to show that the singular and plural of this word both mean the same thing. More will be found on this subject in the fifth Chapter.
Hitherto those attributes only have been mentioned which describe the nature of God, partly in an affirmative, partly in a negative sense, inasmuch as they deny the existence of those imperfections in the Deity, which belong to created things, as, for instance, when we speak of his immensity, his infinity, his incorruptibility. I now proceed to notice those which show his divine power and excellence under the ideas of VITALITY, INTELLIGENCE, and WILL.
I. VITALITY. Deut. xxxii. 40. “I live for ever,” whence he is called “the living God.” Psal. xlii. 2. and in many
John v. 26. “the Father hath life in himself.”
II. Under the head of the INTELLIGENCE of God must be classed his attribute of OMNISCIENCE. Gen, vi. 5. God
every imagination of the thoughts of his heart.” Gen. xviii. 14. “is anything too hard for Jehovah ?" 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. “ Jehovah searcheth all hearts.” 2 Chron. vi. 30. “thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men. Psal. xxxiii. 15.“he fashioneth their hearts alike ; he considereth all their works.” cxxxix. 2. thou understandeth my thought afar off.” v. 4. “for there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Jehovah, thou knowest it altogether.” cxlvii. 5. “his understanding is infinite.” Job xi. 7—9. “canst thou by searching find out God,” &c. xxvi. 6. “hell is naked before him.” Prov. xv. 11. “hell and destruction are before Jehovah ; how much more then the hearts of the children of men.” xvi. 2. “Jehovah weigheth the spirits.” xvii. 3. “ Jehovah trieth the hearts. Isai. xl. 28. “there is no searching of his understanding.” Jer. xvii. 10.“ I Jehovah search the heart, I try the reins," whence he is called, Acts i. 24. “the Lord which knoweth the hearts of all men.” Jer. xxiii. 23, 24. “am I a God at hand, saith Jehovah, and not a God afar off? can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him ?” Heb. iv. 13. “all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him," whence he is called the “ only wise," Dan. i. 10. Rom. xvi. 27. 1 Tim. i. 17. So extensive is the prescience of God, that he knows beforehand the thoughts and actions of free agents as yet unborn, and many ages before those thoughts
PURE AND HOLY.
or actions have their origin. Deut. xxxi. 16. “behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land,” &c. v. 20, 21. “then will they turn unto other gods,” &c. “ for I know the imagination which they go about even now,
before I have brought them into the land which I sware. 2 Kings viii. 12. “I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel.” III. As regards the WILL of God, he is, 1st, INFINITELY
Exod. xv. 11. " glorious in holiness.” Josh. xxiv. 19. “he is an holy God.” 1 Sam. ii. 2. “there is none holy as Jehovah.” vi. 20. “before this holy God Jehovah.' Job xv. 15. “the heavens are not clean in his siglit.” Isai. vi. 2, 3. “he covered his face .... and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts.” xl. 25. “ saith the Holy One.” xli. 20.“ the Holy One of Israel.” Habak. i. 13. “thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil.”
2. He is MOST GRACIOUS. Exod. xxxiv. 6. "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” See also Psal. lxxxvi. 15. and ciii. 8. v. 4. “neither shall evil dwell with thee.” xxv. 6. “thy loving-kindnesses .... have been ever of old.” ciii. 11. "
great is his mercy toward them that fear him.” v. 17.
of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting." cxix. 68. "thou art good, and doest good.” Lam. iii. 22. “it is of the mercies of Jehovah that we are not consumed.” Matt. xix. 17. “there is none good but one, that is, God.” Luke vi. 36. “be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” 2 Cor. i. 3. “the Father of mercies.” Eph. ii. 4. “rich in mercy.' 1 John iv. 8. “God is love.” Another proof of the immutability of God be also derived from the consideration of his infinite wisdom and goodness; since a being infinitely wise and good would neither wish to change an infinitely good state for another, nor would be able to change it without contradicting his own attributes.
3. As God is true in respect of his nature, so is he also TRUE and FAITHFUL in respect of his will. Psal. xix: 7. “the testimony of Jehovah is sure. John vii. 28. “ he that sent me is true.” Rom. iï. 4. “let God be true, but every man a liar.” 2 Tim. ii. 13. “if we believe not, yet he abideth
faithful.” 1 Cor. i. 9. and x. 13. “God is faithful.” Rev. vi. 10. “O Lord, holy and true.”
4. He is also JTST. Deut. xxxii. 4. “ all his ways are judgement, a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Psal. xxxvi. 6. “thy righteousness is like the great mountains.” cxix. 137. “ righteous art thou, O Jehovah, and upright are thy judgements.” Isai. v. 16. “God.... siall be sanctined in righteousness.” There is no need for discussing at large in this place what is consistent or inconsistent with the justice of God, since it is either plain in itself, or where any remarks are necessary, they will be introduced as the occasion requires in other parts of this work. Severity also is attributed to God, Rom. xi. 22. “on them which fell, severity.”
From all these attributes springs that infinite excellence which constitutes the true perfection of God, and causes him to abound in glory, and to be most deservedly and justly the supreme Lord of all things, as he is so often called. Psal. xvi. 11. "in thy presence is fulness of joy.” civ. 1. “thou art clothed withi honour and majesty.” Dan. vii. 10. “thousand thousands ministered unto him.” Matt. v. 48. “as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” 1 Tim. i. 11. o the blessed God.” vi. 15. “ who is the blessed .... potentate.”
Some description of this divine glory has been revealed, as far as it falls within the scope of human comprehension. Exod. xix. 18, &c. mount Sinai was altogether on smoke-.” xxiv. 10, &c. “they saw the God of Israel, and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness." xxxiii. 9, 10. “the cloudy pillar descended,” &c. &c.— and v. 18, &c. 1 kings xix. 11. “ behold, Jehovah passed by." viii. 10, 11. “the cloud filled the house of Jehovah.” xxii. 19. “I saw Jehovah sitting on his throne.” Psal. xviii. 8, &c. and civ. Micah i. 3, &c. Nahum i. 3, &c. Isai. vi. Ezek. i. and viii. 1-3. and x. 1, &c. and xlii. 2, 3. Habak. iii. 3, &c. Dan. vii. 9. Rev. iv.
It follows, finally, that God must be styled by us WONDERFUL, and INCOMPREHENSIBLE. Judges xiii. 18. “why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret ?” Psal. cxlv. 3. “his greatness is unsearchable.” Isai. xl. 28. “ there is no searching of his understanding."
CHAP. III.-OF THE DIVINE DECREES.
HITHERTO I have considered that knowledge of God which his nature affords. That which is derived from his efficiency is the next subject of inquiry.
The EFFICIENCY OF GOD is either INTERNAL or EXTERNAL.
The INTERNAL EFFICIENCY of God is that which is independent of all extraneous agency.
Such are his decrees. Eph. i. 9. “which he hath purposed in himself.” The DECREES OF God are GENERAL or SPECIAL.
God's GENERAL DECREE is that WHEREBY HE HAS DECREED FROM ALL ETERNITY OF HIS OWN MOST FREE AND WISE AND KOLY PURPOSE, WHATEVER HE HIMSELF WILLED, OR WAS
ABOUT TO DO.
WHATEVER, &c. Eph. i. 11. “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will ;” that is, whatever he himself works or wills singly, not what is done by others, or by himself in co-operation with those to whom he has conceded the natural power of free agency. The creation of the world, and the removal of the curse from the ground, Gen. vii. 21, are among his sole decrees.
FRCM ALL ETERNITY. Acts xv. 18. “known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” 1 Cor. ii. 7. “even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world.”
OF HIS OWN MOST FREE—; that is, without controul, impelled by no necessity, but according to his own will, Eph. i. 11. as before.
MOST WISE- ; that is, according to his perfect foreknowledge of all things that were to be created. Acts ii. 23. “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” iv. 28. “for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” xv. 18. “known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” 1 Cor. ii. 7. “the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world.” Eph. iii. 10, 11. “the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed.”
Hence it is absurd to separate the decrees or will of the Deity from his eternal counsel and foreknowledge, or to give them priority of order. For the foreknowledge of God is
nothing but the wisdom of God, under another name, or that idea of every thing, which he had in his mind, to use the lan guage of men, before he decreed anything.
We must conclude, therefore, that God decreed nothing absolutely, which he left in the power of free agents,
-a doctrine which is shewn by the whole canon of Scripture. Gen. xix. 17, 21. “escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. see, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city for the which thou hast spoken.” Exod. iii. 8, 17. “I am come down to deliver them. ... and to bring them up unto a good land”—though these very
individuals actually perished in the wilderness. God also had determined to deliver his people by the hand of Moses, whom he would nevertheless have put to death, Exod iv. 24, if he had not immediately circumcised his son. 1 Sam. ii. 30. “I said
8 The following lines contain the sum of the doctrine laid down by Milton in this and the following chapter, and the coincidences of expression are not unfrequently as striking as the similarity of reasoning.
So will fall
Paradise Lost, III. 95.