« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
whom no man hath ssen, nor can see,” 1 Tim. i. 17. No likeness can be formed of God: no similitude was ever seen of him, and to whom can be likened and compared ? Deut iv. 12. Aristotle argues the invisibility of God, from the invisibil. ity of the soul of man.
But besides these properties, there are other still more excellent in spirits, by which they approach nearer to God, and bear a greater resemblance to him; they are lively ; angels are commonly thought to be the living creatures in Ezeki. el's vision. God is the living God, has life in and of him. self, and gives life to all creatures that have it. Spirits are active. God is all act, actus simplicissimus, as he is some. times stiled, the most simple act; he works and always works. Spirits, angels, and the souls of men, are intelligent beings; the understanding of God is infinite, there is no searching of it. Spirits have the power of willing, they are voluntary agents; and God wills whatever he does, and does whatever he wills. Spirits have the affections of love, mercy, pity, &c. God not only loves his creatures, but“ is love itself," i John iv. 16.
III. God being a Spirit, we learn that he is a simple and uncompounded Being, and does not consist of parts, as a body does; his spirituality involves his simplicity. If God was composed of parts he would not be eternal, and absolutely the first Being, since the composing parts, would at least co-exist with him ; and, beside, there must be a composer, who puts the parts together, and therefore must be before what is com. posed of them ; all which is inconsistent with the eternity of God: nor would he be infinite and immense ; for either these parts are finite, or infinite ; if finite they can never compose an infinite Being; and if infinite , there must be more infinites than one, which implies a contradiction : nor would he be independent; for what is composed of parts, depends upon those parts, and the union of them, by which it is preserved: nor would he be immutable, unalterable, and immortal, since what consists of parts, and depends upon the union of them, is liable to alteration, and to be resolved into those parts again, and so be dissolved and come to destruction. In short, he would
not be the most perfect of Beings: for as the more spiritual a being is, the more perfect it is.
Nor is the simplicity of God to be disproved by the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead; for though there are three distinct
persons, there is but'one nature and essence common to them all.
OF THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD.
Tue attributes of God are variously distinguished by di. vines; some distinguish them into negative and affirmative:
are such as remove from him whatever is imper. fect in creatures ; such are infinity, immutability, immorality, &c. which deny him to be finite, mutable, and mortal; and indeed, it is easier to say what God is not, than what he is : the affirmative assert some perfection in God, which is in and of him self; and which in the creatures, in any measure, is from him; but the distinction is discarded by others; because in all negative attributes some positive excellency is found. Some distribute them into a two-fold order, first and second: Attributes, or essential properties of the first order, declare the essence of God as in himself; and attributes of the second order, which though primarily, and in a more excellent manner are in God, than in creatures; yet in an analogical sense, are in them, there being some similitude of them in them.
some are said to be absolute, and others relative ; abones are such as eternally agree with the essence of without
respect to his creatures; relative ones are such as agree with him in time, with some certain respect to his creatures : some are called proper, as those before mentioned,
others figurative, signified by the parts of the human body, and the affections of the mind, as observed in the preceding chapter: but the more commonly received distinction of the attributes of God, is into the communicable and incommunica
the incommunicable attributes of God, are such as
there is no appearance or shadow of them in creatures; as in. depen lence, immutability, immensity, and eternity : communiçable ones, are such as are common to God, with men ; or, however, of which there is some resemblance in men, as good. ness, holiness, justice, and wisdom. But as God is defined a Spirit in Scripcure, as has been observed, I shall endeavour to sort the perfections and attributes of God in agreement with that: and with respect to his nature, as an uncreated Spirit, may be referred, besides his spirituality and simplicity, already considered, his immutability, and infinity, which includes his immensity, or omnipresence, and eternity: and with respect to it as a tive, and operative, the life of God, and his omnipotence: and with respect to the faculties, as a rational spirit, particularly the understanding, to which may belong, his omniscience, and manifold wisdom; and the will, under which may be considered the acts of that, and the sovereignty of it; and the affections, to which may be reduced, the love grace, mercy, hatred, anger, patience, and long-suffering of God: and lastly, under the n tions of qualities and virtues, may be considered, his goodness, holiness, justice, truth, and faithfulness; and, as the complement of the whole, his perfection or all-sufficiency, glory, and blessedness: and in this order I shall consider them. And begin with,
THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD. Immutability is an attribute which God claims, and challenges as peculiar to himself; I am the Lord, I change not, Mal. iii. 6. Mutability belongs to creatures; the vi-ible heavens are often changing; the face of the earth appears different at the various seasons of the year: it has undergone one great change by a flood, and will undergo another by fire. To which changeableness in them the unchangeableness of God is oppo. sed, Psal. cii. 25-27. The sun in the firmament has its va. rious appearances. Angels in their original nature and state, were subject to change, as the apostacy of many have shewo. Man, at his best estate, his estate of innocence, and integrity, was altogether vanity, is now a creature subject to innumerable changes in life; and death at last turns him to corruption
and dust. Good men are very mutable, both in their inward and outward estate. But God is in and of himself immutable.
1. In his nature and essence, being simple, and devoid of all composition, as has been proved. Since he is eternal, there can be no change of time with him. And seeing he is infinite, immense, and omnipresent; there can be no change of place. If he changes, it must be either for the better or the worse; if for the better, then he was imperfect before, and so not God: if for the worse, then he becomes imperfet and the same follows. Or if he changes from an infinitely perfect state, to another equally so, then there must be more infinites than one, which is a contradiction. Again, if any change is made in him, it must be either from somewhat within him, or from somewhat without him; 'if from within, there must be another and another in him ; one which changes, and another which is changed, and so would be compound; which is in. consistent with the simplicity of God: it from somewhat with. out him, then there must be a superior to him, able to move and change him ; but he is the most high God; there is none in heaven por in earth above him; he is “God over all, bless.
ed for ever."
II. God is unchangeable in his perfections or attributes ; which, though they are the same with himsell, his nature and essence, as has been observed; yet, con idering them separate
are helps to our better understanding of it, and serve partic ularly to illustrate the unchangeableness of it. He is
same in his power as ever; his knowledge is the same ;
goodness, grace, and mercy, are immutable; his faithful. ness he never suffers to fail.
III. God is unchangeable in his purposes and decrees; they are like the laws of the Medes and Persians, and more unalterable than they were ; they are the mountains of brass Ze. chariah saw in a vision, from whence proceed the providiences of God, and the executioners of them, Zech. vi. 1. " The counsel of the Lord stands for ever.” Psal. xxxiii. 11.
Nor is the immutability of the decrees of God to be disproved by his providences. Job was a remarkable instance
of changes in providence, and yet he was fully persuaded of the unchangeable will of God in them, and which he strongly expresses, Job xxiii. 13, 14.
iv. God is unchangeable in his love and affections to his people; “his love to them is from everlasting to everlasting," without any variation in his own heart, however different the manifestations of it may be to them. The hidings of God's face from them after conversion, prove not any change in his love to them; for he declares his loving-kindness to be more immoveable than hills and mountains, Isai. liv. 7-10. Afflictions are no evidence of a change of affections to them. God's rebukes are rebukes in love, Jer. xxxi. 18, 20.
v. God is unchangeable in his covenant of grace. made with Christ from everlasting, and stands fast with him ; it is as immoveable as a rock, and can never be broken; such as are blessed with them are always blessed, and it is not in the power of men and devils to reverse them, Rom. xi. 29.
When repentance is spoken of him, it is to be understood improperly and figuratively, after the manner of men, he doing like what men do, when they repent.
Nor is the Immutability of God, in his promises and threatenings, to be disproved, by observing, that the promised good, and threatened evil, are not always done. For it should be considered, that what is promised or threatened, is either absolute, or with a condition ; now that any thing promised or threatened, absolutely, is not performed, must be denied: but if with a condition, the change will appear to be not in God, hut in men, see Jer. xviii. 8—10. Jonah iii. 4, 10.
OF THE INFINITY, OMNIPRESSENCE, AND
ETERNITY OF GOD.
When we say that God is infinite, the meaning is, that he is unbounded and unlimited, unmeasurable or immense, un. searchable and not to be comprehended. This attribute chiefly