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A BRIEF SCRIPTURAL DELINEATION OF THE ATTRIBUTES
§ 1. W ERE you, my young friend, going to spend one
hour in England, and then never to see it more, but afterwards to pass threescore years in India, of which country would you desire the most extensive knowledge ? Would you not reason, The knowledge that will benefit me but for one hour in a country, which after that I shall never visit again, is unworthy of a thought, compared with that knowledge, which will be useful to me for sixty years? Were you to spend that one hour in company with persons, whose favour or displeasure would render it either a happy or a wretched hour; and were you to pass the following sixty years with those, whose smile or frown would make them all years of happiness or years of pain, whose favour would you be most anxious to enjoy? Would you not argue, The smiles or the frowns of those who can cheer or embitter but one hour, and whom then I shall leave for ever, are of little moment; but their friendship, who must render me happy or wretched for sixty years, is ten thousand times more important ? Apply these thoughts to your state in this world, and the next. Here you have a little while to spend, but compared with the endless life which awaits you there, it is infinitely less than an hour, when compared with sixty years. Of which world is the knowledge most important to you? Of that where your life is the twinkling of an eye? or of that where eternal ages lie stretched before the view of the astonished soul? The friendship or displeasure of your fellowcreatures may cheer or embitter life's short hour: the friendship of your God will brighten and bless your whole eternity; or his displeasure make eternal years one scene of darkness, bitterness, and woe. How worthless, to a creature born for eternity, is all knowledge, compared with a holy acquaintance
MAJESTY AND POWER OF GOD. with God! how despicable all friendship, compared with his friendship and love!
§ 2. The book of nature may teach much respecting God, may at least declare his eternal power and godhead, but it is the book of grace alone that unfolds the brighter glories of Jehovah. Would you be intimate with God, the God of heaven, not with the idol, philosophers frame in their imagination, then search the Scriptures. That holy volume represents the adorable God as possessed of those excellencies which should excite the deepest reverence, and the most fervent love, in the human heart.
God is a Spirit.a He created the heapens and the earth. He said, Let there be light, and there was light. The sun obeys his voice;c and the stars of heaven appear at his command. He is the one Jehovah,e and the only true God. Heaven is his throne, and the earth his footstool.s He reignethh King for ever. He is clothed with majesty.k Clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. He is the King eternal, immortal, invisible'; the only wise God.m To his enemies he is a consuming fire." He is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
In Providence, and in the works of nature, the power and majesty of God are displayed: He killeth and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up. He maketh poor and maketh rich. He raiseth the stormy wind, or maketh the storm a calm. He turneth rivers into a wilderness, or water-springs into dry ground; a fruitful land into barrenness ;? or a dry desert to a watered field. He saith to the snow, be thou on the earth. He giveth rain, and sendeth waters upon the fields. He feedeth the fowls of the air, and clotheth the lilies of the field with more than kingly.glory ;t and so extensive is his providential care, that without him not a sparrow falleth to the ground.“
The sublime description of the majesty and glory of God, in the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, is as much superior to the loftiest descriptions, which unassisted poets or philosophers have given of the Deity, as the God it represents is superior to
(a) John iv. 24. (6) Gen. i. 1,3. (c) Job ix. 7. (d) Isa. xl. 26. (e) Mark xii. 29. (1) John xvii. 3. (9) Matt. v. 31, 35. (h) Ps. xciii. 1.
() Ps. xxix. 10. (k) Ps. xciii. 1. (1) Ps. xcvii. 2. (m) 1 Tim. i. 17. (1) Job xxxvii. 6. (8) Job v. 10. (6) Matt. vi. 26, &c. (u) Matt. x. 29.
(n) Heb. xii. 29.
(0) Matt. x. 28.
(p) 1 Sam. ii, 6, 8.
(O) Ps, cvii. 25, &c.
WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. the idols they extolled. Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, land comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance ? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a buckct, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh lup the isles as a very little thing. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing and vanity."
Survey this universe. Behold its oceans, in themselves a watery world. No line has ever measured their unfathomable depths. The swiftest ship would spend months or years in crossing them; yet to God, those vast and fathomless oceans are so insignificant, that he measureth the waters of the world in the hollow of his hand. Behold the heavens ; the sun, the moon, the stars of light; how brilliant is their glory! how immense their distances ! but God meteth out heaven with a span; measures with a span, almost the least of measures, that vast and boundless field of grandeur and of glory. Behold the earth, its vast islands, its cloud-capt mountains, its unmeasured deserts; the fertile lands of its immense continents, where numerous nations find ample room for their residence, and which require a line thousands of miles in extent to measure either their length or their breadth ; but what are these vast regions, and this vast earth, before Jehovah! He comprehendeth the dust of the earth in a measure, and taketh up the islands as an atom. Survey the nations ; perhaps a thousand millions of human beings. How immense the number! yet to God so insignificant, that they are as a drop of a bucket, and as the small dust which lies unheeded on the balance ; as nothing, less than nothing and vanity. .
§ 3. Now glance at the unsearchable wisdom and infinite knowledge of God.
He is the Lord of hosts, wonderful in counsel. God the only wise. He seeth in secret. He seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” He searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts. He is not an inattentive spectator of what passes in his wide empire. By him are actions weighed. The Lord looketh (o) Isa. xl. 12, 15, 17. (w) Isa. xxviii. 29. r) Rom. xvi. 17. (y) Matt. vi. 4.
() 1 Sam, xvi. 7. (a) 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. (0) i Sam, ii, 3.
HOLINESS AND GOODNESS OF GOD. from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men, he considereth all their works. In this vast survey, he beholds his children with peculiar love. The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy, to deliver their soul from death ;d to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.e
Would any wish to hide themselves from his all-piercing eye, it is impossible; for in him we live, and move, and have our being. He smiles in heaven; he frowns in hell. The veil of night which hides all things from the eyes of man, hides nothing from his eye. No spot in the universe can be found that is beyond the reach of his arm, or where it should cease to be said, Thou, O God, seest me. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there ; if I make 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 light are both alike to thee.8
§ 4. This adorable and all-seeing God is holy and amiable in the highest degree. He is glorious in holiness.h There is none holy as the Lord. He is of purer cyes than to be. hold evil, and cannot look on iniquity. “Just and true are his ways. He is the faithful God, who keepeth truth for ever.
“ High o'er the earth his mercy reigns,
“ When lower worlds dissolve and die.”
A merciful God. There is none good but God. He proclaimed his name Jehovah, Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
(c) Ps. xxxiii. 13. (d) Ps. xxxiii. 18, 19. (e) 2 Chron. xvi. 9.
(S) Acts xvii. 28. (g) Ps. cxxxix. 7-12. (h) Exod. xv. 11. () 1 Sam. ii. 2. (k) Hab. i. 13.. (1) Rev. v. 3. : (m) Deut. vii. 9. (n) Ps. xlvi. 6. (0) 2 Cor. i. 3. (p) Numb. xiv, 18. (9) Deut. iv. 31.
(r) Mak x. 18,
GOODNESS AND MERCY OF GOD. keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. The fountain of his goodness pours forth many streams. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. He is a God ready to pardon," “is gracious and full of compassion, is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works."W “ He is plenteous in mercy and truth.” The world might drink at the ocean of his love, and the ocean still be full.“ He giveth grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” y
He is the Father of all the righteous; “their Father in heaven;"Z “and like as a Father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him, for he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust." A stronger principle of love than natural affection actuates him, “ If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father, who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him.”b Parental love in its strongest form cannot rival his. “ Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet will not I forget thee." Love like this cannot be measured. “ Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens."d Who can measure the heights of heaven? or stretch a line from the east unto the west ? Yet this were an easier task, than to tell the extent of divine love. " As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions froin us."e This charming excellence is his delight. “He delighteth in mercy;"f “ and taketh pleasure in those that fear him, and that hope in his mercy."8" To sum up all in a few words, “ GOD IS LOVE."'"
His richest love is the love unfolded in the gospel ; love, like an ocean, which has neither shore nor bottom, measure, beginning, nor end. “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”i “ God com(s) Exod. xxxiv. 6. (1) 2 Pet. iii. 9. (u) Luke vi. 35. (o) Neh, ix. 17.
(w) Ps. cxlv. 8, 9. (+) Ps. Ixxxvi, 5. (v) Ps. Ixxxiv. 11. (z) Matt. vi. 9. (a) Ps, ciii. 13, 14. (6) Matt. vii. 11. (c) Isa. xlix. 15. (d) Ps. xxxvi. 5. (e) Ps. ciii, 11, 12. (f) Mic. vii. 18. (0) Ps. cxlvii. 11. (h) 1 John iv, 16.
(i) John üi. 16.