THOUGH there be not a few who deny the existence of God,[1] for 'the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,' Psal. xiv. 1. yet the Deity has imprinted upon the human mind so many unquestionable tokens of himself, and so many traces of him are apparent throughout the whole of nature, that no one in his senses can remain ignorant of the truth. Job xii. 9. 'who knoweth not in all these that the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this?' Psal. xix. 1. 'the heavens declare the glory of God,' Acts xiv. 17. 'he left not himself without witness.' xvii. 27, 28. 'he is not far from every one of us.' Rom. i. 19, 20. 'that which may be known of God is manifest in them.' and ii. 14, 15. 'the Gentiles.... shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.' 1 Cor. i. 21. 'after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.' There can <17> be no doubt but that every thing in the world, by the beauty of its order, and the evidence of a determinate and beneficial purpose which pervades it, testifies that some supreme efficient Power must have pre-existed, by which the whole was ordained for a specific end.

There are some who pretend that nature or fate is this supreme power: [2] but the very name of nature implies that it must owe its birth to some prior agent, or, to speak properly, signifies in itself nothing; but means either the essence of a thing, or that general law which is the origin of every thing, and under which every thing acts, — and fate can be nothing but a divine decree emanating from some almighty power.

Further, those who attribute the creation of every thing to nature, must necessarily associate chance with nature as a joint divinity; so that they gain nothing by this theory, except that in the place of that one God, whom they cannot tolerate, they are obliged, however reluctantly, to substitute two sovereign rulers of affairs, who must almost always be in opposition to each other. In short, many ocular demonstrations, many true predictions verified, many wonderful works have compelled all nations to be <18> lieve, either that God, or that some evil power whose name was unknown, presided over the affairs of the world. Now that evil should prevail over good, and be the true supreme power, is as unmeet as it is incredible. Hence it follows as a necessary consequence, that God exists.

Again: the existence of God is further proved by that feeling, whether we term it conscience, or right reason,[3] which even in the worst of characters is not altogether extinguished. If there were no God, there would be no distinction between right and wrong; the estimate of virtue and vice would entirely depend on the blind opinion of men; no one would follow virtue, no one would be restrained from vice by any sense of shame, or fear of the laws, unless conscience or right reason did from time to time convince every one, however unwilling, of the existence of God, the Lord and ruler of all things, to whom, sooner or later, each must give an account of his own actions, whether good or bad.

The whole tenor of Scripture proves the same thing; and the disciples of the doctrine of Christ may fairly be required to give assent to this truth in the first instance, according to the expression in Heb. xi. 6. 'he that cometh to God, must believe that he is.' It is proved also by the dispersion of the Jews throughout the whole world, according to what God often forewarned them would happen on <19> account of their sins. Nor is it only to pay the penalty of their own guilt that they have been reserved in their scattered state, among the rest of the nations, through the revolution of successive ages, and even to the present day; but rather to be a perpetual and living testimony to all people under heaven, of the existence of God, and of the truth of the Holy Scriptures.

No one, however, can have right thoughts of God, with nature or reason alone as his guide, independent of the word, or message of God.[4] Rom. x. 14. 'how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?'

God is known, so far as he is pleased to make us acquainted with himself, either from his own nature, or from his efficient power.

When we speak of knowing God, it must be understood with reference to the imperfect comprehension of man; for to know God as he really is, far transcends the powers of man's thoughts, much more of his perception. 1 Tim. vi. 16. 'dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.' God therefore has made as full a revelation of himself as our minds can conceive, or the weak <20> ness of our nature can bear. Exod. xxxiii. 20, 23. 'there shall no man see me and live..... but thou shall see my back parts.' Isai. vi. 'I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.' John i. 18. 'no man hath seen God at any time.' vi. 46. 'not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.' v. 37. 'ye have neither heard his voice at any time.' 1 Cor. xiii. 12. 'we see through a glass, darkly..... in part.'

Our safest way is to form in our minds such a conception of God, as shall correspond with his own delineation and representation of himself in the sacred writings. For granting that both in the literal and figurative descriptions of God, he is exhibited not as he really is, but in such a manner as may be within the scope of our comprehensions, yet we ought to entertain such a conception of him, as he, in condescending to accommodate himself to our capacities, has shewn that he desires we should conceive. For it is on this very account that he has lowered himself to our level, lest in our flights above the reach of human understanding, and beyond the written word of Scripture, we should be tempted to indulge in vague cogitations and subtleties.[5]


There is no need then that theologians should have recourse here to what they call anthropopathy[6] — a figure invented by the grammarians to excuse the absurdities of the poets on the subject of the heathen divinities. We may be sure that sufficient care has been taken that the Holy Scriptures should contain nothing unsuitable to the character or dignity of God, and that God should say nothing of himself which could derogate from his own majesty. It is better therefore to contemplate the Deity, and to conceive of him, not with reference to human passions, that is, after the manner of men, who are never weary of forming subtle imaginations respecting him, but after the manner of Scripture, that is, in the way in which God has offered himself to our contemplation; nor should we think that he would say or direct any thing to be written of himself, which is inconsistent with the opinion he wishes us to entertain of his character. Let us require no better authority than God himself for determining what is worthy or unworthy of him. If 'it repented Jehovah that he had made man,' Gen. vi. 6. and 'because of their groanings,' Judges ii. 18. let us believe that it did repent him, only taking care to remember that what is called repentance when applied to God, does not arise from inadvertency, as in men; for so he has himself cautioned us, Num. xxiii. 19. 'God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent. See also 1 Sam. <22> xv. 29. Again, if 'it grieved the Lord at his heart,' Gen. vi. 6. and if 'his soul were grieved for the misery of Israel,' Judges x. 16, let us believe that it did grieve him. For the affections which in a good man are good, and rank with virtues, in God are holy. If after the work of six days it be said of God that 'he rested and was refreshed,' Exod. xxxi. 17. if it be said that 'he feared the wrath of the enemy,' Deut. xxxii. 27, let us believe that it is not beneath the dignity of God to grieve in that for which he is grieved, or to be refreshed in that which refresheth him, or to fear in that he feareth. For however we may attempt to soften down such expressions by a latitude of interpretation, when applied to the Deity, it comes in the end to precisely the same. If God be said 'to have made man in his own image, after his likeness,' Gen. i. 26. and that too not only as to his soul, but also as to his outward form[7] (unless the same words have differ <23> ent significations here and in chap. v. 3. 'Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image' ) and if God habitually assign to himself the members and form of man, why should we be afraid of attributing to him what he attributes to himself, so long as what is imperfection and weakness when viewed in reference to ourselves be considered as most complete and excellent whenever it is imputed to God. Questionless the glory and majesty of the Deity must have been so dear to him, that he would never say anything of himself which could be humiliating or degrading, and would ascribe to himself no personal attribute which he would not willingly have ascribed to him by his creatures. Let us be convinced that those have acquired the truest apprehension of the nature of God who submit their understandings to his word; inasmuch as he has accommodated his word to their understandings, and has shown what he wishes their notion of the Deity should be.

To speak summarily, God either is, or is not, such as he represents himself to be. If he be really such, why should we think otherwise of him? If he be not such, on what authority do we say what God has not said? If at least it be his will that we should thus think of him, why does our imagination wander into some other conception? Why should we hesitate to conceive of God according to what he has not hesitated to declare explicitly respecting himself? For such knowledge of the Deity as was necessary for the salvation of man, he has himself of his goodness been pleased to reveal abundantly. <24> Deut. xxix. 29. 'the secret things belong unto Jehovah, but those things which are revealed belong unto us..... that we may do them.'

In arguing thus, we do not say that God is in fashion like unto man in all his parts and members, but that as far as we are concerned to know, he is of that form which he attributes to himself in the sacred writings. If therefore we persist in entertaining a different conception of the Deity than that which it is to be presumed he desires should be cherished, inasmuch as he has himself disclosed it to us, we frustrate the purposes of God instead of rendering him submissive obedience. As if, forsooth, we wished to show that it was not we who had thought too meanly of God, but God who had thought too meanly of us.

It is impossible to comprehend accurately under any form of definition the 'divine nature,' for so it is called, 2 Pet. i. 4. 'that ye might be partakers of the divine nature' —though nature does not here signify essence, but the divine image, as in Gal. iv. 8. 'which by nature are no Gods,' and θεοτὴς Col. ii. 9. θειοτὴς Rom. i. 20. τὸ θεῖον Acts xvii. 29. which are all translated 'Godhead.' But though the nature of God cannot be defined, since he who has no efficient cause is essentially greatest of all, Isai. xxviii. 29. some description of it at least may be collected from his names and attributes.

The names and attributes of God either show his nature, or his divine power and excellence. There are three names which seem principally to intimate the nature of God, —יהוה,Jehovah, —יה, Jah אהיה Ehie. Even the name of Jehovah was not forbid <25> den to be pronounced, provided it was with due reverence. Exod. iii. 15.'Jehovah, God of your fathers....... this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial.' xx, 7. 'thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain.' Again, it occurs pronounced, 1 Kings xvii. 12. 'as Jehovah thy God liveth,' and so in many other places. This name both in the New Testament and in the Greek version of the Old is always translated Κύριος -the Lord, —probably for no other reason than because the word Jehovah could not be expressed in Greek letters. Its signification is, 'he who is,' or, 'which is and which was, and which is to come,' Rev. i. 4. Jah, which is a sort of contraction of the former name, has the same signification. Exod. xvii. 16. 'Jah hath sworn' —and in other places. Exod. iii. 14. אהיה Ehie, 'I am that I am,' or 'will be;'[8] and if the first person be changed into the third of the kindred verb, Jave, who is, or will be, —meaning the same <26> as Jehovah, as some think, and more properly expressed thus than by the other words; but the name Jave appears to signify not only the existence of his nature, but also of his promises, or rather the completion of his promises; whence it is said, Exod. vi. 3. 'by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.' And with what vowel points this name Jehovah ought to be pronounced, is shown by those proper names into the composition of which two of them enter, as Jehosaphat, Jehoram, Jehoiada, and the like. The third, or final vowel point may be supplied by analogy from the two other divine names, אדוי and יה.

I. The first of the attributes which show the inherent nature of God, is Truth. Jer. x. 10. 'Jehovah is the true God.' John xvii. 3. 'that they might know thee the only true God.' 1 Thess. i. 9. 'the living and true God.' 1 John v. 20. 'that we may know him that is true.'

II. Secondly, God, considered in his most simple nature, is a Spirit. Exod. iii. 14, 15. 'I am that I am.' Rom. xi. 36. 'of him and through him are all things.' John iv. 24. 'God is a spirit.' What a spirit is, or rather what it is not, is shown, Isai. xxxi. 3. 'flesh, and not spirit.' Luke xxiv. 39. 'a spirit hath not flesh and bones.' Whence it is evident that the essence of God, being in itself most simple, can admit no compound quality; so that the term hypostasis, Heb. i. 3. [9] which is differently trans <27> lated substance, or subsistence, or person, can be nothing else but that most perfect essence by which God subsists by himself, in himself, and through himself. For neither substance nor subsistence make any addition to what is already a most perfect essence; and the word person in its later acceptation signifies any individual thing gifted with intelligence, while hypostasis denotes not the ens itself, but the essence of the ens in the abstract. Hypostasis, therefore, is clearly the same as essence, and thus many of the Latin commentators[10] render it in the passage already quoted. Therefore, as God is a most simple essence, so is he also a most simple subsistence.

III. Immensity and Infinity.[11] 1 Kings viii. 27. 'the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.' Job xi. 8. 'it is as high as heaven...... deeper than hell.' xxxvi. 26. 'God is great, and we know him not.'

IV. Eternity. It is universally acknowledged that nothing is eternal, strictly speaking, but what has neither beginning nor end,[12] both which properties are attributed to God, not indeed in each of the fol <28> lowing passages separately, but as a plain deduction from the several texts when compared together. Job xxxvi. 26. 'neither can the number of his years be searched out.' Gen. xxi. 33. 'the everlasting God,' literally, 'the God of old time or ages.' Psal. xc. 2. 'from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God, or from age to age.' cii. 12. 'but thou, O Jehovah, shalt endure for ever.' v. 24. 'thy years are through all generations.' v. 27. 'but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.' Psal. cxlv. 13. 'thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.' Isai. xliii. 10. 'before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.' xliv. 6. 'I am the first, and I am the last.' Habak. i. 12. 'art thou not from everlasting,' literally 'from old time.'

The evidence of the New Testament is still clearer, because the Greek word signifies to exist for ever.[13] Rom. vi. 26. 'according to the commandment of the everlasting God.' 1 Tim. i. 17. 'unto the King eternal.' Rev. i. 4. 'from him which is, and which was, and which is to come.'

But all the words used in Scripture to denote eternity, often signify only of old time, or antiquity. Gen. vi. 4. 'mighty men which were of old.' Job xx. 4. 'knowest thou not this of old, or from eternity, since man was placed upon earth?' Isai. xlii. 14. 'I have long time holden my peace.' David also seems to have understood that the term for ever only intimated a great while to come. 2 Sam. vii. 13. 'I <29> will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever,' compared with v. 19. 'thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come.' See also 1 Chron. xvii. 12, 14, 17. John ix. 32. 'since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.' Acts iii. 21. 'which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.' 2 Tim. i. 9. and Tit. i. 2. 'before the world began:' and in Heb. xi. 3. the word is also used to signify this world, where the Syriac version translates it, —'before the worlds were framed.' From these and many similar texts it appears that the idea of eternity, properly so called, is conveyed in the Hebrew language rather by comparison and deduction than in express words.

V. The Immutability of God has an immediate connection with the last attribute. Psal. cii. 27. 'but thou art the same.' Mal. iii. 6. 'I am Jehovah, I change not.' James i. 17. 'with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.'

VI. His Incorruptibility is also derived from the fourth attribute. Psal. cii. 26. 'thou shalt endure.' Rom. i. 23. 'the uncorruptible God.' 1 Tim. i. 17. 'unto the King immortal.'[14]

VII. The next attribute of God, his Omnipresence, arises from his infinity. Psal. cxxxix. 8, 9. 'if I ascend up into heaven, thou art there,' &c. &c. Prov. xv. 3. 'the eyes of Jehovah are in every place.' Jer. xxiii. 24. 'do not I fill heaven and earth ?' Eph. iv. 6. 'who is above all, and through <30> all, and in you all.' Our thoughts of the omnipresence of God, whatever may be the nature of the attribute, should be such as appear most suitable to the reverence due to the Deity.

VIII. Omnipotence. 2 Chron. xx. 6. 'in thine hand is there not power and might?' Job xlii. 'I know that thou canst do every thing.' Psal. xxxiii. 9. 'he spake, and it was done. cxv. 3. 'he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. See also cxxxv. 6. Matt. xix. 26. 'with God all things are possible.' Luke i. 37. 'with God nothing shall be impossible.' Hence the name of El Shaddai, applied to the Deity, Gen. xvii. 1. 'I am the Almighty[15] God, literally 'sufficient'. Ruth i. 21. 'the Almighty hath afflicted me.' Jer. xxxii. 18. 'the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of Hosts.' Gen. xiv. 22. 'Jehovah, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth.' Thus also the name אדנ frequently occurs. In the New Testament, 'the Lord Almighty,' 2 Cor. vi. 18, and Rev. i. 8. 'the only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords,' i. Tim. vi. 15. There seems, therefore, an impropriety in the term of actus purus, or the active principle, which Aristotle[16] applies to God, for thus the Deity would have no choice of act, but what he did he would do of necessity, and could do in no other way, which would be inconsistent with his omnipotence and free agency. But it must be observed, that the power of God is not exerted in things which imply a contradiction.[17] 2 Tim. ii. 13. <31> 'he cannot deny himself.' Tit. i. 2. 'God, that cannot lie.' Heb. vi. 18. 'in which it was impossible for God to lie.'

IX. All the preceding attributes may be regarded as necessary causes of the ninth attribute, the Unity of God; of which, however, other proofs are not wanting. Deut. iv. 35. 'Jehovah he is God, there is none also beside him.' v. 39. 'Jehovah he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.' vi. 4. 'hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.' xxxii. 39. 'I, even I, am he, and there is no God with me.' 1 Kings viii. 60. 'that all the people of the earth may know that Jehovah is God, and that there is none else.' 2 Kings xix. 15. 'thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.' Isai. xliv. 6. 'beside me there is no God.' v. 8. 'is there a God beside me ? yea, there is no God; I know not any.' xlv. 5. 'I am Jehovah, and there is none else; there is no God beside me.' v. 21. 'there is no God else beside me..... there is none beside me.' v. 22. 'I am God, and there is none else' —that is, no spirit, no person, no being beside him is God; for none is an universal negative, xlvi. 9. 'I am God, and there is none else: I am God, and there is none like me.' What can be plainer, what more distinct, what more suitable to general comprehension and the ordinary forms of speech, in order that the people of God might under <32> stand that there was numerically one God and one Spirit, in the common acceptation of numerical unity ?

For it was fitting and highly agreeable to reason, that what was the first and consequently the greatest commandment, scrupulous obedience to which was required by God even from the lowest of all the people, should be delivered in so plain a manner, that nothing ambiguous or obscure in its terms could lead his worshippers into error, or keep them in suspense or doubt. And thus the Israelites under the law and the prophets always understood it to mean, that God was numerically one God, that beside him there was none other, much less any equal. For those disputants of the schools had not yet appeared, who, depending on their own sagacity, or rather on arguments of a purely contradictory tendency, cast a doubt upon that very unity of God, which they pretended to assert. But as with regard to the omnipotence of the Deity, it is universally allowed, as has been stated before, that he can do nothing which involves a contradiction; so must it also be remembered in this place, that nothing can be said of the one God, which is inconsistent with his unity, and which implies at the same time the unity and plurality of the Godhead.

Proceeding to the evidence of the New Testament, we find it equally clear, in so far as it goes over the former ground, and in one respect even clearer, inasmuch as it testifies that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is that one God. Mark xii. 28, Christ having been asked, which was the first commandment of all, answers, v. 29. from Deut. vi. 4. —a passage quoted <33> before, and evidently understood by our Lord in the same sense which had always been applied to it —'hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.' To which answer the scribe assented, v. 32. 'well, Master, thou hast said the truth; for there is one God, and there is none other but he.' John xvii. 3. 'this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God.' Rom. iii. 30. 'seeing it is one God.' 1 Cor. viii. 4. 'we know.... that there is none other God but one.' v. 6. 'to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things.' Gal. iii. 20. 'a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one.' Eph. iv 6. 'one God and father of all.' Tim. ii. 5. 'there is one God.' So, too, though אלהים be plural in the Hebrew, it is used notwithstanding for the one God, Gen. i. 1. אלהים ברא Psal. vii. 10. and lxxxvi. 10. אלהים-בדים; and elsewhere[18]. But אלה is also used in the singular, Psal. xviii. 31. 'who is God save Jehovah, or who is a rock save our God ?' which verse is 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 sense, partly negatively, as where 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. The succeeding attributes are such as 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 other passages. John v. 26. 'the Father hath life in himself.'

II. The attribute of omniscience refers to the intelligence of God. Gen. vi. 5. 'God saw..... every imagination of the thoughts of his heart.' Gen. xviii. 14. 'is any thing 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 understandest 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, Acts i. 24. he is called '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 opened unto the eyes of him,' whence he is called the 'only wise,' Dan. ii. 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 <35> thoughts 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. With reference to the will, God is, 1st. infinitely pure and holy. 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 sight.' 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 lovingkindnesses..... have been ever of old.' ciii. 11. 'great is his mercy toward them that fear him.' v. 17. 'the mercy 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.' And <36> thus again God may be proved to be immutable, from the consideration of his infinite wisdom and goodness; since a being of infinite wisdom and goodness would neither wish to change an infinitely good state for another, nor would he be able to change it without contradicting his own attributes.

3. As God is true by 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. iii. 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 just. 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...... shall be sanctified in righteousness. It is not requisite to discuss at large in this place what is consistent or inconsistent with the justice of God, since if it be necessary to say any thing on so clear a subject, occasions will arise for introducing such observations as may be required 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 of God which constitutes his true perfection, and causes him to abound in glory, and to be most deservedly and justly the supreme Lord of all things, according to the qualities so frequently ascribed to <37> him. Psal. xvi. 11. 'in thy presence is fulness of joy.' civ. 1. 'thou art clothed with 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. 'the blessed God.' vi. 15. 'who is the blessed .... potentate.'

Some description of this divine glory has been revealed, so far as it falls within the scope of human comprehension. Exod. xix. 18, &c. 'mount Sinai was altogether on a 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 xliii. 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.


Unless there be, who think not God at all:

If any be, they walk obscure;

For of such doctrine never was there school,

But the heart of the fool,

And no man therein doctor but himself —Samson Agonistes, 295.


........ that Power

Which erring men call Chance-. Comus, 588.

In allusion to the doctrines of the Stoicks, &c. seneca De Beneficiis, iv. 8.'Sic hunc naturam vocas, fatum, fortunam; omnia ejusdem Dei nomina sunt, varie utentis sua potestate.' Nat. Quæst. ii.45. 'Vis ilium fatum vocare? non errabis.' The next clauses of this sentence contain in the original two of those conceits which are so frequent in Milton's works, and which can scarcely be preserved in a translation. The passage stands thus —'sed natura natam se fatetur, &c........ et fatum quid nisi effatum divinum om nipotentis enjuspiam numinis potest esse?'


Since thy original lapse, true liberty

Is lost, which always with right reason dwells

Twinn'd Paradise Lost, XII. 83.

'Rectae rationi obtemperare discite.' Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicane, Prose Works, V. 266.


Left only in those written records pure,

Though not but by the Spirit understood. Paradise Lost, XII. 513.

'It will require no great labour of exposition to unfold what is here meant by matters of religion; being as soon apprehended as defined, such things as belong chiefly to the knowledge and service of God, and are either above the reach and light of nature without revelation from above, and therefore liable to be variously understood by human reason,' &c. Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. Prose Works, III. 320. 'True religion is the true worship and service of God, learnt and believed from the word of God only. No man or angel can know how God would be worshipped and served, unless God reveal it.' Of True Religion, &c. IV. 259.


Sollicit not thy thoughts with matters hid:

Leave them to God above; him serve and fear.

Paradise Lost, VIII. 166.

....... Heaven is for thee too high

To know what passes there; so, lowly wise,

Think only what concerns thee, and thy being;

Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there

Live, in what state, condition, or degree —172.


Two ways then may the Spirit of God be said to be grieved, in Himself, in his saints; in Himself, by an anthropopathie, as we call it; in his Saints by a sympathie; the former is by way of allusion to human passion and carriage. Bp. Hall's Rem. p.106.


The Humanitarians held that God was to be understood as having really a human form. See Clarke's Sermons, Vol. I. p. 26. fol. edit. The drift of Milton's argument leads him to employ language which would appear at first sight to verge upon their doctrine, but it will be seen immediately that he guards himself against the charge of having adopted one of the most ignorant errors of the dark ages of the Church. The reasoning of Milton on this subject throws great light on a passage in Paradise Lost, put into the mouth of Raphael:

...... What surmounts the reach

Of human sense, I shall delineate so,

By likening spiritual to corporal forms,

As may express them best; though what if Earth

Be but the shadow of Heaven, and things therein

Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?

Here Newton observes the artful suggestion that there may be a greater similitude and resemblance between things in Heaven and things in Earth than is generally imagined, and supposes it may have been intended as an apology for the bold figures which the Poet has employed. We now see that his deliberate opinion seems to have leaned to the belief that the fabrick of the invisible world was the pattern of the visible. Mede introduces a hint of a similar kind in his tenth discourse, as Newton remarks.


The original of this passage presents considerable difficulty. It is thus written in the manuscript: 'Cap. iii. 14. אהיה Ehie, qui sum vel ero, et persona prima in tertiam affinis verbi mutatur Jehovae, qui est vel erit, idem quod Jehova, ut quidam putant illisque vocabulis rectius prolatum.' In the translation I have considered Ehie qui sum vel ero, as an absolute sentence; and conceiving the next clause to have been incorrectly transcribed, I have rendered it as if it had been written —et si persona prima in tertiam affinis verbi mutatur, Jave, qui est, vel erit, &c. Simon in his Hebrew Lexicon has the following remark on the word יהוה: 'יהוה' nomen proprium Dei, a Mose demum introductum, eum qui re præstiturus sit, quod olim promiserit, ex ipsa loci Mosaici authentica explicatione, Exod. iii. 14. significans, adeoque יהוה vel יַוה proprie efferendum, ut ex veteribus Theodoretus et Epiphanius Jahe, h. e. Jave scripserunt. If the sense of the passage has been rightly conceived, the kindred verb will be הוה sidit, fuit vel factus est. See Simon in voce. See also Buxtorf's Lexicon ad Rad. הוה and Cappelli Vindic. Arcani Punctuationis, lib. 1 §, 20.


χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστασέως αὐτοῦ. the express image of his person. Authorized Transl. exact image of his substance. Macknight. 'Concerning the word ὑποστασέως, rendered in our Bibles, person, it hath been observed by comentators, that it did not obtain that signification till after the Council of Nice. Our translators have rendered ὑπόστασις, Heb. xi. 1. by the word substance.' Mackn. in loc.


Imago essentae ejus. Tremellius.


Thee, Father, first they sung Omnipotent,

Immutable, Immortal, Infinite,

Eternal King. Paradise Lost, III. 372.

Another expression of great beauty is used in Samson Agonistes to denote the same attribute:

As if they would confine the Interminable,

And tie him to his own prescript. 307.


The disputes among the schoolmen respecting the proper definition of eternity could not have been forgotten by Milton. It appears therefore that at this time the famous definition of Boëthius was generally rejected —æternitas est interminabilis vitæ tota simul et perfecta possessio. According to these term God would not necessarily have been without a beginning.


'Sic etiam Deus dicitur qui est, qui erat, et qui futurus est, Apoc. i. 8. et iv. 8. Deo lamae ævum sive æternitas, non tempus, attribui solet: quid autem est ævum proprie, nisi duratio perpetua, Græce, αὶὼν, quasi ἀσὶ ὼν, semper existens.' Artis Logicæ plenior Institutio, &c. Prose Works, VI. 224.


ἀφθαρτῷ incorruptibili. Tremellius. qui non corrumpitur. Beza.


Fortis omnipotens. Tremellius. Shaddai. Hebr. qui sum sufficiens.


See Aristot. Metaph. lib. 1. cap. ix. &c. lib. 14. cap. vi. Cudworth's Intellectual System, Vol. II. p. 322. Birch's Edit.


Can he make deathless death ? That were to make

Strange contradiction, which to God himself

impossible is held; as argument

Of weakness, not of power. Paradise Lost, X. 798.

'Cum autem dico potentiæ Dei objectum omne esse possibile, per possibile intelligo illud quod non implicat contradictionem ut fiat. Nam quod contradictionem implicat, ne Deus quidem ipse potest. Curcellæi Institutio II. 2.


[ אחה אלהים לבדך Psalm lxxxvi. 10. ]

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