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Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
QUEST. 4. What is God?
Answ. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, andu nchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness justice, goodness, and truth.
No creature can fully comprehend what God is : Job xi. 7. “ Canst thou by searching find out God ? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection ?" But he bas revealed so much of himself in the Scriptures, as is necessary for us to know. For his sort of being, he is a Spirit: and a Spirit is an immaterial substance, without flesh or bones. He hath not then a body nor any bodily parts : John iv. 24. “ God is a Spirit.” Luke xxiv. 39. “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” ears, and such like bodily parts, ascribed to him in Scripture, are not to be understood properly: But by them we are to understand an infinite perfection of those powers, which those members serve for
So the eyes of God signify his infinite power of discerning objects, as by the eye: His ears signify his infinite power of discerning voices, as by the ear. Moreover, God cannot be seen with bodily eyes; no not with the eyes of glorified bodies in heaven : hence he is said to be “invisible, and to dwell in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see,” 1 Tim. i. 17. and vi. 16. But God can be seen with the eyes of the mind, enlightened with the light of grace here, and the light of glory in heaven: Eph. i. 17, 18. “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Finally, there is nothing which God is like unto; Isa. xl. 18. “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him ?” So we may not form any imagination of him in our minds, as we can do of an absent man. Now, there are other spirits besides God : and these are angels and the souls of men. But the difference betwixt God and them, lies here, that God is an infinite, eternal, and unchangeable Spirit; and they are not so. The attributes of God, or perfections of the divine nature, are of two sorts ;
incommunicable, and communicable. His incommunicable attributes, whereof there is no vestige in the creature, are his infinity, eternity, and unchangeableness. God is infinite, in that he is whatsoever he is : without any bounds or measure : Job xi. 7, thou by searching find out God ? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection ?” He is eternal, in that he is without beginning and without end : Psal. xc. 2. “ Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world : even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.” He is unchangeable in that he is, and cannot but be always the same, without any alteration whatsoever: James i. 17. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." He is then said to repent, not in respect of the affection of repentance, but the effect of it: Num. xxiii. 19. “God is not a man, that he should lie ; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said and shall he not do it? or bath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?” in that, without any change of his own nature, mind, or will, he changeth his dispensations towards the creatures, and makes changes on them : Gen. vi. 7, “ And the Lord said, I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air : for it repenteth me that I have made them.” His communicable attributes, whereof there are some scantlings, or faint images in the creature, are his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. The difference between these perfections, as they are in God, and as they are in the creature, lies here, that they are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in God, but in the creature not so. The being of God is that perfection whereby he is, and is what he is : Exod. iii. 14, “ And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” His wisdom is that whereby he knows himself, and all things else, with the way how to dispose of them to the best : Psal. cxlvii. 5, “Great is our Lord, and of great power : his understanding is infinite." His power is that whereby he can do all things not inconsistent with his nature : Jer. xxxii. 17, " Ah, Lord God, behold thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched-out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.” His boliness is the perfect purity of his nature, whereby he delights in his own purity, and in the resemblance of it in the creature : Hab. i. 13. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” His justice is the perfect rectitude of his nature, whereby he is just in himself, and in all his ways towards the crea
ture: Deut.xxxii. 4. “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 he.” It is not consistent with his nature, to let sin pass unpunished : 2 Thess. i. 6, “It is a righteous thing with God, to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.” Compared with Gen. xviii. 25. " That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked; and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" His goodness is that whereby he is good in himself, and the anthor of all good to be found in or about the creature: Matth. xix. 17, “There is none good but one, that is God.” His goodness is consistent with his severity against the wicked, in that it is the property of goodness to hate and punish sin : Exod. xxxiii. 19, “ And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” Compared with chap. xxxiv. 7, “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." And it is consistent with the afflictions laid on his own people, in that they flow from his goodness : Job v. 6, “Afliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground.” And they tend to their good : Psal. cxix. 71, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted ; that I might learn thy statutes.” His truth is that whereby he is perfectly faithful, and free from all falsehood, Tit. i. 2, “ In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began."
QUEST. 5. Are there more Gods than one ?
Answ. There is but one only, the living and true God.
God is called the living God, to distinguish him from dead idols; and the true God, to distinguish him from all false gods. 1 Thess. i. 9, “ Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God.” He is the living God, in that all life is in him, and from him, 1 Tim. vi. 13, “God, who quickeneth all things.” To be the true God, is to be God truly and really; and not in name only, or in the opinion of men. Now, there is but one true God : 1 Cor. viii. 4, “We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one." And reason teaches, that there 1
OF THE HOLY TRINITY.
can be no more than one, in that there can be but one most perfect being. So the gods many, mentioned, 1 Cor. viii. 5. are gods in name only, or in the opinion of their blinded worshippers.
Quest. 6. How many persons are there in the Godhead ?
Answ. There are three persons in the Godhead ; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost : And these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
By the Godhead is meant the divine nature. A person in the Godhead, is the Godhead distinguished by personal properties. The Godhead is one only in number : But the persons in the Godheud are three; and they are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: 1 John v. 7, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these tbree are one." Jesus Christ is the second of these persons, namely, the Son. And the Father is true God: the Son is true God: and the Holy Ghost is true God. Yet they are not three Gods, but one God, 1 John v. 7, forecited. Howbeit, the Godhead neither is, nor can be divided into parts : but each of the three persons hath the one whole indivisible Godhead. They are not then of a like substance only, but the very same in substance. But they are distinguished by their personal properties. And it is the personal property of the Father, to beget the Son: Heb. i. 5, “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? and again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son ?" And it is the personal property of the Son, to be begotten of the Father : John i. 14, word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth." And it is the personal property of the Holy Ghost, to proceed from the Father and the Son : John xv. 26, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” Gal. iv. 6, “ And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” The Son and the Holy Ghost are not below the Father, but equal with him: They are all equally powerful and glorious. So the personal properties make no inequality among them; forasmuch as these properties are not temporary and accidental, but
eternal and necessary, and could not but be: and every one of the three persons, is the eternal, the supreme, the most high God. This appears, in that to the Son and the Holy Ghost, as well as to the Father, ascribed the peculiar name of the true God, the Most High : Is. vi. 3, “ And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory." John xii. 41, " These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him." Acts xxviii. 25, 26, “ And when they agreed not
” among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet, unto our fathers, saying, &c." Psalm lxxxiii. 18, “ That men may know, that thou whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the Most High over all the earth.” And his attributes are ascribed to them: Rev. i. 8, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Psal. cxxxix. 7, “ Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence ?" Likewise his works : John i. 3, “ All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." Matth. xii. 28, “ But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” And also his worship: Heb. i. 8, " But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdoin.” Matth. xxviii. 19," Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
QUEST. 7. What are the decrees of God?
Answ. The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath forevrdained whatsoever comes to pass.
By the decrees of God is meant his purpose foreordaining what should come to pass. God hath foreordained in his decrees, whatsoever comes to pass : Eph. i. 11, “ In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Even the most free acts of the creature, and the most casual things, are foreordained of God: Prov. xxi. 1, " The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water : he turneth it whithersoever he