THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD by A.W. Pink


THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
by A.W. Pink
PREFACE
“Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good
shall come unto thee”(

Job 22:21).
“Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his
riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth,
and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord” (

Jeremiah 9:23,24).
A spiritual and saving knowledge of God is the greatest need of every
human creature.
The foundation of all true knowledge of God must be a clear mental
apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture. An
unknown God can neither be trusted, served, nor worshipped. In this
booklet an effort has been made to set forth some of the principal
perfections of the Divine character. If the reader is to truly profit from his
perusal of the pages that follow, he needs to definitely and earnestly
beseech God to bless them to him, to apply His Truth to the conscience
and heart, so that his life will be transformed thereby.
Something more than a theoretical knowledge of God is needed by us. God
is only truly known in the soul as we yield ourselves to Him, submit to His
authority, and regulate all the details of our lives by His holy precepts and
commandments.
“Then shall we know, if we follow on (in the path of obedience) to
know the Lord” (

Hosea 6:3).
“If any man will do His will, he shall know” (

John 7:17).
“The people that do know their God shall be strong”
(

Daniel 11:32)..3
FORWARD
The papers which follow appeared first in the author’s monthly magazine
“Studies in the Scriptures,” which is devoted entirely to the expounding of
God’s Word and a seeking to provide spiritual food for hungry souls. Free
sample copy gladly sent on application. (Not today). These articles have
been reissued in their present form through the generosity of a Christian
friend who has defrayed the entire cost of their publication. Proceeds from
the sale of this booklet will be used, D. V., to issue others of a similar
nature. May the blessing of God rest upon it. -ARTHUR W. PINK..4
1. THE SOLITARINESS OF GOD
The title of this article is perhaps not sufficiently explicit to indicate its
theme. This is partly due to the fact that so few today are accustomed to
meditate upon the personal perfections of God. Comparatively few of
those who occasionally read the Bible are aware of the awe-inspiring and
worship-provoking grandeur of the Divine character. That God is great in
wisdom, wondrous in power, yet full of mercy, is assumed by many to be
almost common know]edge; but, to entertain anything approaching an
adequate conception of His being, His nature, His attributes, as these are
revealed in Holy Scripture, is something which very, very few people in
these degenerate times have attained unto. God is solitary in His
excellency.
“Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like
Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”
(

Exodus 15:11).
“In the beginning, God” (

Genesis 1:1). There was a time, if “time” is
could be called, when God, in the unity of His nature (though subsisting
equally in three Divine Persons), dwelt all alone. “In the beginning, God.”
There was no heaven, where His glory is now particularly manifested.
There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to hymn
His praises; no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was
nothing, no one, but God; and that, not for a day, a year, or an age, but
“from everlasting.” During a past eternity, God was alone: self-contained,
self-sufficient, self-satisfied; in need of nothing. Had a universe, had angels,
had human beings been necessary to Him in any way, they also had been
called into existence from all eternity. The creating of them when He did,
added nothing to God essentially. He changes not (

Malachi 3:6),
therefore His essential glory can be neither augmented nor diminished.
God was under no constraint, no obligation, no necessity to create. That
He chose to do so was purely a sovereign act on His part, caused by
nothing outside Himself, determined by nothing but His own mere good
pleasure; for He
“worketh all things after the counsel of His own will”
(

Ephesians 1:11)..5
That He did create was simply for His manifestative glory. Do some of our
readers imagine that we have gone beyond what Scripture warrants? Then
our appeal shall be to the Law and the Testimony:
“Stand up and bless the Lord your God forever and ever: and
blessed be Thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing
and praise” (

Nehemiah 9:5).
God is no gainer even from our worship. He was in no need of that
external glory of His grace which arises from His redeemed, for He is
glorious enough in Himself without that. What was it moved Him to
predestinate His elect to the praise of the glory of His grace? It was, as

Ephesians 1:5 tells us, according to the good pleasure of His will.
We are well aware that the high ground we are here treading is new and
strange to almost all of our readers; for that reason it is well to move
slowly. Let our appeal again be to the Scriptures. At the end of Romans
11, where the apostle brings to a close his long argument on salvation by
pure and sovereign grace, he asks, “For who hath known the mind of the
Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him,
and it shall be recompensed to him again?” (vv. 34,35). The force of this is,
it is impossible to bring the Almighty under obligations to the creature;
God gains nothing from us. If thou be righteous, what givest thou Him? Or
what receiveth He of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou
art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man (

Job 35:7,8), but
it certainly cannot affect God, who is all-blessed in Himself. When ye shall
have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are
unprofitable servants (

Luke 17:10)—our obedience has profited God
nothing.
Nay, we go further: our Lord Jesus Christ added nothing to God in His
essential being and glory, either by what He did or suffered. True, blessedly
and gloriously true, He manifested the glory of God to us, but He added
nought to God. He Himself expressly declares so, and there is no appeal
from His words: “My goodness extendeth not to Thee” (

Psalm 16:2).
The whole of that Psalm is a Psalm of Christ. Christ’s goodness or
righteousness reached unto His saints in the earth (

Psalm 16:3), but
God was high above and beyond it all, God only is the “Blessed One”
(

Mark 14:61, Gr.)..6
It is perfectly true that God is both honored and dishonored by men; not in
His essential being, but in His official character. It is equally true that God
has been “glorified” by creation, by providence, and by redemption. This
we do not and dare not dispute for a moment. But all of this has to do with
His manifestative glory and the recognition of it by us. Yet had God so
pleased He might have continued alone for all eternity, without making
known His glory unto creatures. Whether He should do so or not was
determined solely by His own will. He was perfectly blessed in Himself
before the first creature was called into being. And what are all the
creatures of His hands unto Him even now? Let Scripture again make
answer:
“Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as
the small dust of the balance: behold, He taketh up the isles as a
very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the
beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before Him
are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and
vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye
compare unto Him?” (

Isaiah 40:15-18).
That is the God of Scripture; alas, He is still “the unknown God” (

Acts
17:23) to the heedless multitudes. “It is He that sitteth upon the circle of
the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth
out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
that bringeth the princes to nothing; He maketh the judges of the earth as
vanity” (

Isaiah 40:22,23). How vastly different is the God of Scripture
from the god of the average pulpit!
Nor is the testimony of the New Testament any different from that of the
Old: how could it be, seeing that both have one and the same Author!
There too we read, “Which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed
and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords: Who only bath
immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom
no man bath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting,
Amen” (

1 Timothy 6:16). Such an One is to be revered, worshipped,
adored. He is solitary in His majesty, unique in His excellency, peerless in
His perfections. He sustains all, but is Himself independent of all. He gives
to all, but is enriched by none.
Such a God cannot be found out by searching; He can be known, only as
He is revealed to the heart by the Holy Spirit through the Word. It is true.7
that creation demonstrates a Creator, and that, so plainly, men are “without
excuse;” yet, we still have to say with Job,
“Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of
Him? but the thunder of His power who can understand?”
(

26:14).
The so-called argument from design by well-meaning “Apologists” has, we
believe, done much more harm than good, for it has attempted to bring
down the great God to the level of finite comprehension, and thereby has
lost sight of His solitary excellence.
Analogy has been drawn between a savage finding a watch upon the sands,
and from a close examination of it he infers a watch-maker. So far so good.
But attempt to go further: suppose that savage sits down on the sand and
endeavors to form to himself a conception of this watch-maker, his
personal affections and manners; his disposition, acquirements, and moral
character—all that goes to make up a personality; could he ever think or
reason out a real man—the man who made the watch, so that he could say,
“I am acquainted with him?” It seems trifling to ask such questions, but is
the eternal and infinite God so much more within the grasp of human
reason? No, indeed! The God of Scripture can only be known by those to
whom He makes Himself known.
Nor is God known by the intellect. “God is Spirit” (

John 4:24), and
therefore can only be known spiritually. But fallen man is not spiritual, he
is carnal. He is dead to all that is spiritual. Unless he is born again
supernaturally brought from death unto life, miraculously translated out of
darkness into light, he cannot even see the things of God (

John 3:3),
still less apprehend them (

1 Corinthians 2:14). The Holy Spirit has to
shine in our hearts (not intellects) in order to give us “the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (

2 Corinthians 4:6). And even
that spiritual knowledge is but fragmentary. The regenerated soul has to
grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus (

2 Peter 3:18).
The principal prayer and aim of Christians should be that we “walk worthy
of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and
increasing in the knowledge of God” (

Colossians 1:10)..8
2. THE DECREES OF GOD
The decree of God is His purpose or determination with respect to future
things. We have used the singular number as Scripture does (

Romans
8:28,

Ephesians 3:11), because there was only one act of His infinite
mind about future things. But we speak as if there had been many, because
our minds are only capable of thinking of successive revolutions, as
thoughts and occasions arise, or in reference to the various objects of His
decree, which being many seem to us to require a distinct purpose for each
one. But an infinite understanding does not proceed by steps, from one
stage to another:
“Known unto God are all His works, from the beginning of the
world” (

Acts 15:18).
The Scriptures make mention of the decrees of God in many passages, and
under a variety of terms. The word “decree” is found in

Psalm 2:7, etc.
In

Ephesians 3:11 we read of His “eternal purpose.” In

Acts 2:23
of His “determinate counsel and foreknowledge.” In

Ephesians 1:9 of
the mystery of His “will.” In

Romans 8:29 that He also did
predestinate. In

Ephesians 1:9 of His “good pleasure.” God’s decrees
are called His “counsel” to signify they are consummately wise. They are
called God’s “will” to show He was under no control, but acted according
to His own pleasure. When a man’s will is the rule of his conduct, it is
usually capricious and unreasonable; but wisdom is always associated with
“will” in the Divine proceedings, and accordingly, God’s decrees are said
to be “the counsel of His own will” (

Ephesians 1:11).
The decrees of God relate to all future things without exception: whatever
is done in time, was foreordained before time began. God’s purpose was
concerned with everything, whether great or small, whether good or evil,
although with reference to the latter we must be careful to state that while
God is the Orderer and Controller of sin, He is not the Author of it in the
same way that He is the Author of good. Sin could not proceed from a
holy God by positive and direct creation, but only by decretive permission
and negative action. God’s decree is as comprehensive as His government,
extending to all creatures and all events. It was concerned about our life
and death; about our state in time, and our state in eternity. As God works
all things after the counsel of His own will, we learn from His works what.9
His counsel is (was), as we judge of an architect’s plan by inspecting the
building which was erected under his directions.
God did not merely decree to make man, place him upon the earth, and
then leave him to his own uncontrolled guidance; instead, He fixed all the
circumstances in the lot of individuals, and all the particulars which will
comprise the history of the human race from its commencement to its
close. He did not merely decree that general laws should be established for
the government of the world, but He settled the application of those laws
to all particular cases. Our days are numbered, and so are the hairs of our
heads. We may learn what is the extent of the Divine decrees from the
dispensations of providence, in which they are executed. The care of
Providence reaches to the most insignificant creatures, and the most minute
events—the death of a sparrow, and the fall of a hair.
Let us now consider some of the properties of the Divine decrees. First,
they are eternal. To suppose any of them to be made in time, is to suppose
that some new occasion has occurred, some unforeseen event or
combination of circumstances has arisen, which has induced the Most High
to form a new resolution. This would argue that the knowledge of the deity
is limited, an that He is growing wiser in the progress of time—which
would be horrible blasphemy. No man who believes that the Divine
understanding is infinite, comprehending the past, the present, and the
future, will ever assent to the erroneous doctrine of temporal decrees. God
is not ignorant of future events which will be executed by human volitions;
He has foretold them in innumerable instances, and prophecy is but the
manifestation of His eternal prescience. Scripture affirms that believers
were chosen in Christ before the world began (

Ephesians 1:4), yea,
that grace was “given” to them then (

2 Timothy 1:9).
Second, the decrees of God are wise. Wisdom is shown in the selection of
the best possible ends and of the fittest means of accomplishing them. That
this character belongs to the decrees of God is evident from what we know
of them. They are disclosed to us by their execution, and every proof of
wisdom in the works of God is a proof of the wisdom of the plan, in
conformity to which they are performed. As the Psalmist declared,
“O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made
them all” (

Psalm 104:24)..10
It is indeed but a very small part of them which falls under our observation,
yet, we ought to proceed here as we do in other cases, and judge of the
whole by the specimen, of what is unknown, by what is known. He who
perceives the workings of admirable skill in the parts of a machine which
he has an opportunity to examine, is naturally led to believe that the other
parts are equally admirable. In like manner should we satisfy our minds as
to God’s works when doubts obtrude themselves upon us, and repel the
objections which may be suggested by something which we cannot
reconcile to our notions of what is good and wise. When we reach the
bounds of the finite and gaze toward the mysterious realm of the infinite,
let us exclaim.
“O the depth of the riches! both of the wisdom and knowledge of
God” (

Romans 11:33).
Third, they are free.
“Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counselor
hath taught Him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed
Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him
knowledge, and showed to Him the way of understanding?”
(

Isaiah 40:13,14).
God was alone when He made His decrees, and His determinations were
influenced by no external cause. He was free to decree or not to decree,
and to decree one thing and not another. This liberty we must ascribe to
Him who is supreme, independent, and sovereign in all His doings.
Fourth, they are absolute and unconditional. The execution of them is not
suspended upon any condition which may, or may not be, performed. In
every instance where God his decreed an end, He has also decreed every
means to that end. The One who decreed the salvation of His elect also
decreed to work faith in them (

2 Thessalonians 2:13). “My counsel
shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (

Isaiah 46:10): but that
could not be, if His counsel depended upon a condition which might not be
performed. But God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will”
(

Ephesians 1:11).
Side by side with the immutability and invincibility of God’s decrees,
Scripture plainly teaches that man is a responsible creature and answerable
for his actions. And if our thoughts are formed from God’s Word the
maintenance of the one will not lead to the denial of the other. That there is.11
a real difficulty in defining where the one ends and the other begins, is
freely granted. This is ever the case where there is a conjunction of the
Divine and the human. Real prayer is indited by the Spirit, yet it is also the
cry of a human heart. The Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, yet
were they written by men who were something more than machines in the
hand of the Spirit. Christ is both God and man. He is Omniscient, yet
“increased in wisdom” (

Luke 2:52). He was Almighty, yet was
“crucified through weakness” (

2 Corinthians 13:4). He was the Prince
of life, yet He died. High mysteries are these, yet faith receives them
unquestioningly.
It has often been pointed out in the past that every objection made against
the eternal decrees of God applies with equal force against His eternal
foreknowledge:
Whether God has decreed all things that ever come to pass or not,
all that own the being of a God, own that He knows all things
beforehand. Now, it is self-evident that if He knows all things
beforehand, He either doth approve of them or doth not approve of
them; that is, He either is willing they should be, or He is not
willing they should be. But to will that they should be is to decree
them. (Jonathan Edwards).
Finally, attempt to assume and then contemplate the opposite. To deny the
Divine decrees would be to predicate a world and all its concerns regulated
by undesigned chance or blind fate. Then what peace, what assurance,
what comfort would there be for our poor hearts and minds? What refuge
would there be to fly to in the hour of need and trial? None at all. There
would be nothing better than the black darkness and abject horror of
atheism. O my reader, how thankful should we be that everything is
determined by infinite wisdom and goodness! What praise and gratitude are
due unto God for His Divine decrees. It is because of them that “we know
that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who
are the called according to His purpose” (

Romans 8:28). Well may we
exclaim, “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to
whom he glory forever. Amen” (

Romans 11:36)..12
3. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
God is omniscient. He knows everything: everything possible, everything
actual; all events, all creatures, God the past, the present and the future. He
is perfectly acquainted with every detail in the life of every being in heaven,
in earth and in hell. “He knoweth what is in the darkness” (

Daniel
2:22). Nothing escapes Hs notice, nothing can be hidden from Him,
nothing is forgotten by Him. Well may we say with the Psalmist,
“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain
unto it” (

Psalm 139:6).
His knowledge is perfect. He never errs, never changes, never overlooks
anything.
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but
all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom
we have to do” (

Hebrews 4:13).
Yes, such is the God with whom “we have to do!”
“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou
understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and
my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is
not a word in my tongue but, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it
altogether” (

Psalm 139:2-4).
What a wondrous Being is the God of Scripture! Each of His glorious
attributes should render Him honorable in our esteem. The apprehension of
His omniscience ought to bow us in adoration before Him. Yet how little
do we meditate upon this Divine perfection! Is it because the very thought
of it fills us with uneasiness?
How solemn is this fact: nothing can be concealed from God!
“For I know the things that come into your mind, every one of
them”(

Ezekiel 11:5).
Though He be invisible to us, we are not so to Him. Neither the darkness
of night, the closest curtains, nor the deepest dungeon can hide any sinner
from the eyes of Omniscience. The trees of the garden were not able to.13
conceal our first parents. No human eye beheld Cain murder his brother,
but his Maker witnessed his crime. Sarah might laugh derisively in the
seclusion of her tent, yet was it heard by Jehovah. Achan stole a wedge of
gold and carefully hid it in the earth, but God brought it to light. David was
at much pains to cover up his wickedness, but ere long the all-seeing God
sent one of His servants to say to him,
“Thou art the man! And to writer and reader is also said, Be sure
your sin will find you out” (

Numbers 32:23).
Men would strip Deity of His omniscience if they could—what a proof that
“the carnal mind is enmity against God” (

Romans 8:7)! The wicked do
as naturally hate this Divine perfection as much as they are naturally
compelled to acknowledge it. They wish there might be no Witness of their
sins, no Searcher of their hearts, no Judge of their deeds. They seek to
banish such a God from their thoughts:
“They consider not in their hearts that I remember all their
wickedness” (

Hosea 7:2).
How solemn is

Psalm 90:8! Good reason has every Christ-rejecter for
trembling before it: Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins
in the light of Thy countenance.
But to the believer, the fact of God’s omniscience is a truth fraught with
much comfort. In times of perplexity he says with Job, “But He knoweth
the way that I take.” (

23:10). It may be profoundly mysterious to me,
quite incomprehensible to my friends, but “He knoweth!” In times of
weariness and weakness believers assure themselves
“He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust”
(

Psalm 103:14).
In times of doubt and suspicion they appeal to this very attribute saying,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my
thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in
the way everlasting” (

Psalm 139:23,24).
In time of sad failure, when our actions have belied our hearts, when our
deeds have repudiated our devotion, and the searching question comes to
us, “Lovest thou Me?;” we say, as Peter did,.14
“Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee”
(

John 21:17).
Here is encouragement to prayer. There is no cause for fearing that the
petitions of the righteous will not be heard, or that their sighs and tears
shall escape the notice of God, since He knows the thoughts and intents of
the heart. There is no danger of the individual saint being overlooked
amidst the multitude of supplicants who daily and hourly present their
various petitions, for an infinite Mind is as capable as paying the same
attention to millions as if only one individual were seeking its attention. So
too the lack of appropriate language, the inability to give expression to the
deepest longing of the soul, will not jeopardize our prayers, for
“It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while
they are yet speaking, I will hear” (

Isaiah 65:24).
“Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is
infinite”(

Psalm 147:5). God not only knows whatsoever has happened
in the past in every part of His vast domains, and He is not only thoroughly
acquainted with everything that is now transpiring throughout the entire
universe, but He is also perfectly cognizant with every event, from the least
to the greatest, that ever will happen in the ages to come. God’s
knowledge of the future is as complete as is His knowledge of the past and
the present, and that, because the future depends entirely upon Himself.
Were it in anywise possible for something to occur apart from either the
direct agency or permission of God, then that something would be
independent of Him, and He would at once cease to be Supreme.
Now the Divine knowledge of the future is not a mere abstraction, but
something which is inseparably connected with and accompanied by His
purpose. God has Himself designed whatsoever shall yet be, and what He
has designed must be effectuated. As His most sure Word affirms,
“He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the
inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand”
(

Daniel 4:35).
And again,
“There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel
of the Lord, that shall stand” (

Proverbs 19:21)..15
The wisdom and power of God being alike infinite, the accomplishment of
whatever He hath purposed is absolutely guaranteed. It is no more possible
for the Divine counsels to fail in their execution than it would be for the
thrice holy God to lie.
Nothing relating to the future is in anywise uncertain so far as the
actualization of God’s counsels are concerned. None of His decrees are left
contingent either on creatures or secondary causes. There is no future
event which is only a mere possibility, that is, something which may or may
not come to pass,
“Known unto God are all His works from the beginning”
(

Acts 15:18).
Whatever God has decreed is inexorably certain, for He is without
variableness, or shadow, of turning. (

James 1:17). Therefore we are
told at the very beginning of that book which unveils to us so much of the
future, of “Things which must shortly come to pass.” (

Revelation 1:1).
The perfect knowledge of God is exemplified and illustrated in every
prophecy recorded in His Word. In the Old Testament are to be found
scores of predictions concerning the history of Israel, which were fulfilled
to their minutest detail, centuries after they were made. In them too are
scores more foretelling the earthly career of Christ, and they too were
accomplished literally and perfectly. Such prophecies could only have been
given by One who knew the end from the beginning, and whose knowledge
rested upon the unconditional certainty of the accomplishment of
everything foretold. In like manner, both Old and New Testament contain
many other announcements yet future, and they too “must be fulfilled”
(

Luke 24:44), must because foretold by Him who decreed them.
It should, however, be pointed out that neither God’s knowledge nor His
cognition of the future, considered simply in themselves, are causative.
Nothing has ever come to pass, or ever will, merely because God knew it.
The cause of all things is the will of God. The man who really believes the
Scriptures knows beforehand that the seasons will continue to follow each
other with unfailing regularity to the end of earth’s history (

Genesis
8:22), yet his knowledge is not the cause of their succession. So God’s
knowledge does not arise from things because they are or will be but
because He has ordained them to be. God knew and foretold the
crucifixion of His Son many hundreds of years before He became incarnate,.16
and this, because in the Divine purpose, He was a Lamb slain from the
foundation of the world: hence we read of His being
“delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God”
(

Acts 2:23).
A word or two by way of application. The infinite knowledge of God
should fill us with amazement. How far exalted above the wisest man is the
Lord! None of us knows what a day may bring forth, but all futurity is
open to His omniscient gaze. The infinite knowledge of God ought to fill
us with holy awe. Nothing we do, say, or even think, escapes the
cognizance of Him with whom we have to do:
“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the
good” (

Proverbs 15:3).
What a curb this would be unto us, did we but meditate upon it more
frequently! Instead of acting recklessly, we should say with Hagar, “Thou
God seest me” (

Genesis 16:13). The apprehension of God’s infinite
knowledge should fill the Christian with adoration. The whole of my life
stood open to His view from the beginning. He foresaw my every fall, my
every sin, my every backsliding; yet, nevertheless, fixed His heart upon me.
Oh, how the realization of this should bow me in wonder and worship
before Him!.17
4. THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD
What controversies have been engendered by this subject in the past! But
what truth of Holy Scripture is there which has not been made the occasion
of theological and ecclesiastical battles? The deity of Christ, His virgin
birth, His atoning death, His second advent; the believer’s justification,
sanctification, security; the church, its organization, officers, discipline;
baptism, the Lord’s supper, and a score of other precious truths might be
mentioned. Yet, the controversies which have been waged over them did
not close the mouths of God’s faithful servants; why, then, should we
avoid the vexed question of God’s Foreknowledge, because, forsooth,
there are some who will charge us with fomenting strife? Let others
contend if they will, our duty is to bear witness according to the light
vouchsafed us.
There are two things concerning the Foreknowledge of God about which
many are in ignorance: the meaning of the term, its Scriptural scope.
Because this ignorance is so widespread, it is an easy matter for preachers
and teachers to palm off perversions of this subject, even upon the people
of God. There is only one safeguard against error, and that is to be
established in the faith; and for that, there has to be prayerful and diligent
study, and a receiving with meekness the engrafted Word of God. Only
then are we fortified against the attacks of those who assail us. There are
those today who are misusing this very truth in order to discredit and deny
the absolute sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners. Just as higher
critics are repudiating the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures;
evolutionists, the work of God in creation; so some pseudo Bible teachers
are perverting His foreknowledge in order to set aside His unconditional
election unto eternal life.
When the solemn and blessed subject of Divine foreordination is
expounded, when God’s eternal choice of certain ones to be conformed to
the image of His Son is set forth, the Enemy sends along some man to
argue that election is based upon the foreknowledge of God, and this
“foreknowledge” is interpreted to mean that God foresaw certain ones
would be more pliable than others, that they would respond more readily to
the strivings of the Spirit, and that because God knew they would believe,
He, accordingly, predestinated them unto salvation. But such a statement is.18
radically wrong. It repudiates the truth of total depravity, for it argues that
there is something good in some men. It takes away the independency of
God, for it makes His decrees rest upon what He discovers in the creature.
It completely turns things upside down, for in saying God foresaw certain
sinners would believe in Christ, and that because of this, He predestinated
them unto salvation, is the very reverse of the truth. Scripture affirms that
God, in His high sovereignty, singled out certain ones to be recipients of
His distinguishing favors (

Acts 13:48), and therefore He determined to
bestow upon them the gift of faith. False theology makes God’s
foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation;
whereas, God’s election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the
effect.
Ere proceeding further with our discussion of this much misunderstood
theme, let us pause and define our terms. What is meant by
“foreknowledge?” “To know beforehand,” is the ready reply of many. But
we must not jump at conclusions, nor must we turn to Webster’s dictionary
as the final court of appeal, for it is not a matter of the etymology of the
term employed. What is needed is to find out how the word is used in
Scripture. The Holy Spirit’s usage of an expression always defines its
meaning and scope. It is failure to apply this simple, rule which is
responsible for so much confusion and error. So many people assume they
already know the signification of a certain word used in Scripture, and then
they are too dilatory to test their assumptions by means of a concordance.
Let us amplify this point.
Take the word “flesh.” Its meaning appears to be so obvious that many
would regard it as a waste of time to look up its various connections in
Scripture. It is hastily assumed that the word is synonymous with the
physical body, and so no inquiry is made. But, in fact, “flesh” in Scripture
frequently includes far more than what is corporeal; all that is embraced by
the term can only be ascertained by a diligent comparison of every
occurrence of it and by a study of each separate context. Take the word
“world.” The average reader of the Bible imagines this word is the
equivalent for the human race, and consequently, many passages where the
term is found are wrongly interpreted. Take the word immortality. Surely it
requires no study! Obviously it has reference to the indestructibility of the
soul. Ah, my reader, it is foolish and wrong to assume anything where the
Word of God is concerned. If the reader will take the trouble to carefully.19
examine each passage where “mortal” and “immortal” are found, it will be
seen these words are never applied to the soul, but always to the body.
Now what has just been said on “flesh,” the “world,” immortality, applies
with equal force to the terms know and “foreknow.” Instead of imagining
that these words signify no more than a simple cognition, the different
passages in which they occur require to be carefully weighed. The word
“foreknowledge” is not found in the Old Testament. But know occurs
there frequently. When that term is used in connection with God, it often
signifies to regard with favor, denoting not mere cognition but an affection
for the object in view. “I know thee by name” (

Exodus 33:17).
“Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew
you” (

Deuteronomy 9:24).
“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee” (

Jeremiah 1:5).
“They have made princes and I knew it not”(

Hosea 8:4).
“You only have I known of all the families of the earth”
(

Amos 3:2).
In these passages knew signifies either loved or appointed.
In like manner, the word “know” is frequently used in the New Testament,
in the same sense as in the Old Testament.
“Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you”
(

Matthew 7:23).
“I am the good shepherd and know My sheep and am known of
Mine” (

John 10:14).
“If any man love God, the same is known of Him”
(

1 Corinthians 8:3).
“The Lord knoweth them that are His” (

2 Timothy 2:19).
Now the word “foreknowledge” as it is used in the New Testament is less
ambiguous than in its simple form “to know.” If every passage in which it
occurs is carefully studied, it will be discovered that it is a moot point
whether it ever has reference to the mere perception of events which are
yet to take place. The fact is that “foreknowledge” is never used in
Scripture in connection with events or actions; instead, it always has.20
reference to persons. It is persons God is said to “foreknow,” not the
actions of those persons. In proof of this we shall now quote each passage
where this expression is found.
The first occurrence is in

Acts 2:23. There we read, “Him being
delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have
taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” If careful attention is
paid to the wording of this verse it will be seen that the apostle was not
there speaking of God’s foreknowledge of the act of the crucifixion, but of
the Person crucified: “Him (Christ) being delivered by,” etc.
The second occurrence is in Romans 8;29,30.
“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be
conformed to the image, of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn
among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them
He also called,” etc.
Weigh well the pronoun that is used here. It is not what He did foreknow,
but whom He did. It is not the surrendering of their wills nor the believing
of their hearts but the persons themselves, which is here in view.
“God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew”
(

Romans 11:2).
Once more the plain reference is to persons, and to persons only.
The last mention is in

1 Peter 1:2: “Elect according to the
foreknowledge of God the Father.” Who are elect according to the
foreknowledge of God the Father? The previous verse tells us: the
reference is to the “strangers scattered” i.e. the Diaspora, the Dispersion,
the believing Jews. Thus, here too the reference is to persons, and not to
their foreseen acts.
Now in view of these passages (and there are no more) what scriptural
ground is there for anyone saying God “foreknew” the acts of certain ones,
viz., their “repenting and believing,” and that because of those acts He
elected them unto salvation? The answer is, None whatever. Scripture
never speaks of repentance and faith as being foreseen or foreknown by
God. Truly, He did know from all eternity that certain ones would repent
and believe, yet this is not what Scripture refers to as the object of God’s
“foreknowledge.” The word uniformly refers to God’s foreknowing.21
persons; then let us “hold fast the form of sound words” (

2 Timothy
1:13).
Another thing to which we desire to call particular attention is that the first
two passages quoted above show plainly and teach implicitly that God’s
“foreknowledge” is not causative, that instead, something else lies behind,
precedes it, and that something is His own sovereign decree. Christ was
“delivered by the
(1) determinate counsel and
(2) foreknowledge of God.” (

Acts 2:23).
His “counsel” or decree was the ground of His foreknowledge. So again in

Romans 8:29. That verse opens with the word “for,” which tells us to
look back to what immediately precedes. What, then, does the previous
verse say? This, “all things work together for good to them…who are the
called according to His purpose.” Thus God’s foreknowledge is based
upon His purpose or decree (see

Psalm 2:7).
God foreknows what will be because He has decreed what shall be. It is
therefore a reversing of the order of Scripture, a putting of the cart before
the horse, to affirm that God elects because He foreknows people. The
truth is, He “foreknows” because He has elected. This removes the ground
or cause of election from outside the creature, and places it in God’s own
sovereign will. God purposed in Himself to elect a certain people, not
because of anything good in them or from them, either actual or foreseen,
but solely out of His own mere pleasure. As to why He chose the ones He
did, we do not know, and can only say, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed
good in Thy sight.” The plain truth of

Romans 8:29 is that God, before
the foundation of the world, singled out certain sinners and appointed them
unto salvation (

2 Thessalonians 2:13). This is clear from the
concluding words of the verse: “Predestinated to be conformed to the
image of His Son,” etc. God did not predestinate those whom He foreknew
were “conformed,” but, on the contrary, those whom He “foreknew” (i.e.,
loved and elected) He predestinated to be conformed. Their conformity to
Christ is not the cause, but the effect of God’s foreknowledge and
predestination.
God did not elect any sinner because He foresaw that he would believe, for
the simple but sufficient reason that no sinner ever does believe until God
gives him faith; just as no man sees until God gives him sight. Sight is.22
God’s gift, seeing is the consequence of my using His gift. So faith is
God’s gift (

Ephesians 1:8,9), believing is the consequence of my using
His gift. If it were true that God had elected certain ones to be saved
because in due time they would believe, then that would make believing a
meritorious act, and in that event the saved sinner would have ground for
“boasting,” which Scripture emphatically denies:

Ephesians 2:9.
Surely God’s Word is plain enough in teaching that believing is not a
meritorious act. It affirms that Christians are a people “who have believed
through grace” (

Acts 18:27). If then, they have believed “through
grace,” there is absolutely nothing meritorious about “believing,” and if
nothing meritorious, it could not be the ground or cause which moved God
to choose them. No; God’s choice proceeds not from anything in us, or
anything from us, but solely from His own sovereign pleasure. Once more,
in

Romans 11:5, we read of “a remnant according to the election of
grace.” There it is, plain enough; election itself is of grace, and grace is
unmerited favor something for which we had no claim upon God
whatsoever.
It thus appears that it is highly important for us to have clear and scriptural
views of the “foreknowledge” of God. Erroneous conceptions about it lead
inevitably to thoughts most dishonoring to Him. The popular idea of
Divine foreknowledge is altogether inadequate. God not only knew the end
from the beginning, but He planned, fixed, predestinated everything from
the beginning. And, as cause stands to effect, so God’s purpose is the
ground of His prescience. If then the reader be a real Christian, he is so
because God chose him in Christ before the foundation of the world
(

Ephesians 1:4), and chose not because He foresaw you would believe,
but chose simply because it pleased Him to choose: chose you
notwithstanding your natural unbelief. This being so, all the glory and
praise belongs alone to Him. You have no ground for taking any credit to
yourself. You have “believed through grace” (

Acts 18:27), and that,
because your very election was “of grace” (

Romans 11:5)..23
5. THE SUPREMANCY OF GOD
In one of his letters to Erasmus, Luther said, “Your thoughts of God are
too human.” Probably that renowned scholar resented such a rebuke, the
more so, since it proceeded from a miner’s son; nevertheless, it was
thoroughly deserved. We too, though having no standing among the
religious leaders of this degenerate age, prefer the same charge against the
majority of the preachers of our day, and against those who, instead of
searching the Scriptures for themselves, lazily accept the teaching of
others. The most dishonoring and degrading conceptions of the rule and
reign of the Almighty are now held almost everywhere. To countless
thousands, even among those professing to be Christians, the God of the
Scriptures is quite unknown.
Of old, God complained to an apostate Israel, Thou thoughtest that I was
altogether as thyself. (

Psalm 50:21). Such must now be His indictment
against an apostate Christendom. Men imagine that the Most High is
moved by sentiment, rather than actuated by principle. They suppose that
His omnipotency is such an idle fiction that Satan is thwarting His designs
on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all,
then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly
declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He
invade the citdel of man’s “free will” and reduce him to a “machine.” They
lower the all efficacious Atonement, which has actually redeemed everyone
for whom it was made, to a mere “remedy,” which sin-sick souls may use if
they feel disposed to; and they enervate the invincible work of the Holy
Spirit to an “offer” of the Gospel which sinners may accept or reject as
they please.
The “god” of this twentieth century no more resembles the Supreme
Sovereign of Holy Writ than does the dim flickering of a candle the glory
of the midday sun. The “god” who is now talked about in the average
pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in much of the
religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible
Conferences is the figment of human imagination, an invention of maudlin
sentimentality. The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form
“gods” out of wood and stone, while the millions of heathen inside
Christendom manufacture a “god” out of their own carnal mind. In reality,.24
they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an
absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A “god” whose will is resisted,
whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no
title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nought
but contempt.
The supremacy of the true and living God might well be argued from the
infinite distance which separates the mightiest creatures from the almighty
Creator. He is the Potter, they are but the clay in His hands to be molded
into vessels of honor, or to be dashed into pieces (Psalm 2-9) as He
pleases. Were all the denizens of heaven and all the inhabitants of the earth
to combine in revolt against Him, it would occasion Him no uneasiness,
and would have less effect upon His eternal and unassailable Throne than
has the spray of Mediterranean’s waves upon the towering rocks of
Gibraltar. So puerile and powerless is the creature to affect the Most High,
Scripture itself tells us that when the Gentile heads unite with apostate
Israel to defy Jehovah and His Christ,
“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh”(

Psalm 2:4).
The absolute and universal supremacy of God is plainly and positively
affirmed in many scriptures.
“Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and
the victory and the majesty: for all in the heaven and all in the earth
is Thine; Thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as
Head above all… And Thou reignest over all”
(

1 Chronicles 29:11, 12)
—note reignest now, not “will do so in the Millennium.”
“O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou, God in heaven? and
rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine
hand is there not power and might, so that none (not even the Devil
himself) is able to withstand Thee?” (

2 Chronicles 20:6).
Before Him presidents and popes, kings and emperors, are less than
grasshoppers.
“But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul
desireth, even that He doeth” (

Job 23:13)..25
Ah, my reader, the God of Scripture is no make-believe monarch, no mere
imaginary sovereign, but King of kings, and Lord of lords.
“I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought of
Thine can be hindered” (

Job 42:3, margin),
or, as another translator, “no purpose of Thine can be frustrated.” All that
He has designed He does. All that He has decreed, He performs.
“But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath
pleased” (

Psalm 115:3);
and why has He? Because
“there is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the
Lord” (

Proverbs 21:30).
God’s supremacy over the works of His hands is vividly depicted in
Scripture. Inanimate matter, irrational creatures, all perform their Maker’s
bidding. At His pleasure the Red Sea divided and its waters stood up as
walls (

Exodus 14); and the earth opened her mouth, and guilty rebels
went down alive into the pit (

Numbers 14). When He so ordered, the
sun stood still (

Joshua 10); and on another occasion went backward
ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz (

Isaiah 38:8). To exemplify His
supremacy, He made ravens carry food to Elijah (

1 Kings 17), iron to
swim on top of the waters (

2 Kings 6:5), lions to be tame when Daniel
was cast into their den, fire to burn not when the three Hebrews were flung
into its flames. Thus
“Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth,
in the seas, and all deep places” (

Psalm 135:6).
God’s supremacy is also demonstrated in His perfect rule over the wills of
men. Let the reader ponder carefully

Exodus 34:24. Three times in the
year all the males of Israel were required to leave their homes and go up to
Jerusalem. They lived in the midst of hostile people, who hated them for
having appropriated their lands. What, then, was to hinder the Canaanites
from seizing their opportunity, and, during the absence of the men, slaying
the women and children and taking possession of their farms? If the hand
of the Almighty was not upon the wills even of wicked men, how could He
make this promise beforehand, that none should so much as “desire” their
lands? Ah,.26
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water:
He turneth it whithersoever He will” (

Proverbs 21:1).
But, it may be objected, do we not read again and again in Scripture how
that men defied God, resisted His will, broke His commandments,
disregarded His warnings, and turned a deaf ear to all His exhortations?
Certainly we do. And does this nullify all that we have said above? If it
does, then the Bible plainly contradicts itself. But that cannot be. What the
objector refers to is simply the wickedness of man against the external
word of God, whereas what we have mentioned above is what God has
purposed in Himself. The rule of conduct He has given us to walk by, is
perfectly fulfilled by none of us; His own eternal “counsels” are
accomplished to their minutest details.
The absolute and universal supremacy of God is affirmed with equal
plainness and positiveness in the New Testament. There we are told that
God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (

Ephesians
1:11)—the Greek for “worketh” means to work effectually. For this reason
we read,
“For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things: to whom
be glory forever. Amen” (

Romans 11:36).
Men may boast that they are free agents, with a will of their own, and are
at liberty to do as they please, but Scripture says to those who boast
“we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and
sell…Ye ought to say, If the Lord will” (

James 4:13,15)!
Here then is a sure resting-place for the heart. Our lives are neither the
product of blind fate nor the result of capricious chance, but every detail of
them was ordained from all eternity. and is now ordered by the living and
reigning God. Not a hair of our heads can be touched without His
permission.
“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps”
(

Proverbs 16:9).
What assurance, what strength, what comfort should this give the real
Christian! “My times are in Thy hand” (

Psalm 31:15). Then let me
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (

Psalm 37:7)..27
6. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
The sovereignty of God may be defined as the exercise of His supremacy—
(see Web Site on Supremacy). Being infinitely elevated above the highest
creature, He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none,
influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only
as He pleases always as He pleases. None can thwart Him, none can hinder
Him. So His own Word expressly declares:
“My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”
(

Isaiah 46:10);
“He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the
inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand”
(

Daniel 4:35).
Divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that
He is on the Throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things
“after the counsel of His own will” (

Ephesians 1:11).
Rightly did the late Mr. Spurgeon say in his sermon on

Matthew
20:15:
There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of
God’s Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the
most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their
afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty
will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought
more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all
creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own
hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne.
On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldings,
no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great,
stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the
infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on
His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion
worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to
dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to
sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps
of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when.28
God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth, and
we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills
with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well,
without consulting them in the matter; then it is that we are hissed
and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God
on His throne is not the God they love. But it is God upon the
throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne whom we
trust.
“Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth,
in the seas, and all deep places” (

Psalm 135:6).
Yes, dear reader, such is the imperial Potentate revealed in Holy Writ.
Unrivalled in majesty, unlimited in power, unaffected by anything outside
Himself. But we are living in a day when even the most “orthodox” seem
afraid to admit the proper Godhood of God. They say that to press
excludes human responsibility; whereas human responsibility is based upon
Divine sovereignty, and is the product of it.
“But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath
pleased” (

Psalm 115:3).
He sovereignly chose to place each of His creatures on that particular
footing which seemed good in His sight. He created angels: some He
placed on a conditional footing, others He gave an immutable standing
before Him (

1 Timothy 5:21), making Christ their head
(

Colossians 2:10). Let it not be overlooked that the angels which
sinned (

2 Peter 2:5),. were as much His creatures as the angels that
sinned not. Yet God foresaw they would fall, nevertheless He placed them
on a mutable creature, conditional footing, and suffered them to fall,
though He was not the Author of their sin.
So too, God sovereignly placed Adam in the garden of Eden upon a
conditional footing. Had He so pleased, He could have placed him upon an
unconditional footing; He could have placed him on a footing as firm as
that occupied by the unfallen angels, He could have placed him upon a
footing as sure and as immutable as that which His saints have in Christ.
But, instead, He chose to set him in Eden on the basis of creature
responsibility, so that he stood or fell according as he measured or failed to
measure up to his responsibility obedience to his Maker. Adam stood
accountable to God by the law which his Creator had given him. Here was.29
responsibility, unimpaired responsibility, tested out under the most
favorable conditions.
Now God did not place Adam upon a footing of conditional, creature
responsibility, because it was right He should so place him. No, it was right
because God did it. God did not even give creatures being because it was
right for Him to do so, i.e., because He was under any obligations to
create; but it was right because He did so. God is sovereign. His will is
supreme. So far from God being under any law of “right,” He is a law unto
Himself, so that whatsoever He does is right. And woe be to the rebel that
calls His sovereignty into question:
“Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker. Let the potsherd strive
with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the thing say to Him that
fashioned it, What makest Thou?” (

Isaiah 45:9).
Again; the Lord God sovereignly placed Israel upon a conditional footing.
The 19
th
, 20
th
and 24
th
chapters of Exodus afford a clear and full proof of
this. They were placed under a covenant of works. God gave to them
certain laws, and made national blessing for them depend upon their
observance of His statutes. But Israel were stiffnecked and uncircumcised
in heart. They rebelled against Jehovah, forsook His law, turned unto false
gods, apostatized. In consequence, Divine judgment fell upon them, they
were delivered into the hands of their enemies, dispersed abroad
throughout the earth, and remain under the heavy frown of God’s
displeasure to this day.
It was God in the exercise of His high sovereignty that placed Satan and
his angels, Adam, Israel, in their respective responsible positions. But so
far from His sovereignty taking away responsibility from the creature, it
was by the exercise thereof that He placed them on this conditional
footing, under such responsibilities as He thought proper; by virtue of
which sovereignty, He is seen to be God over all. Thus, there is perfect
harmony between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of the
creature. Many have most foolishly said that it is quite impossible to show
where Divine sovereignty ends and creature accountability begins. Here is
where creature responsibility begins: in the sovereign ordination of the
Creator. As to His sovereignty, there is not and never will be any “end” to
it!.30
Let us give further proofs that the responsibility of the creature is based
upon God’s sovereignty. How many things are recorded in Scripture which
were right because God commanded them, and which would not have been
right had He not so commanded! What right had Adam to “eat” of the
trees of the Garden? The permission of his Maker (

Genesis 2:16),
without such, he had been a thief! What right had Israel to “borrow” of the
Egyptians’ jewels and raiment (

Exodus 12:35)? None, unless Jehovah
had authorized it (

Exodus 3:22). What right had Israel to slay so many
lambs for sacrifice? None, except that God commanded it. What right had
Israel to kill off all the Canaanites? None, save as Jehovah had bidden
them. What right has the husband to require submission from his wife?
None, unless God had appointed it. And so we might go on. Human
responsibility is based upon Divine sovereignty.
One more example of the exercise of God’s absolute sovereignty. God
placed His elect upon a different footing from Adam or Israel. He placed
them upon an unconditional footing. In the Everlasting Covenant Jesus
Christ was appointed their Head, took their responsibilities upon Himself,
and wrought out a righteousness for them which is perfect, indefeasible,
eternal. Christ was placed upon a conditional footing, for He was “made
under the law, to redeem them that were under the law,” only with this
infinite difference: the others failed, He did not and could not. And who
placed Christ upon that conditional footing? The Triune God. It was
sovereign will that appointed Him, sovereign love that sent Him, sovereign
authority that assigned Him His work.
Certain conditions were set before the Mediator. He was to be made in the
likeness of sin’s flesh; He was to magnify the law and make it honorable;
He was to bear all the sins of all God’s people in His own body on the tree;
He was to make full, atonement for them; He was to endure the outpoured
wrath of God; He was to die and be buried. On the fulfillment of those
conditions He was promised a reward:

Isaiah 53:10-12. He was to be
the Firstborn among many brethren; He was to have a people who should
share His glory. Blessed be His name forever, He fulfilled those conditions,
and because He did so, the Father stands pledged, on solemn oath, to
preserve through time and bless throughout eternity every one of those for
whom His incarnate Son mediated. Because He took their place, they now
share His. His righteousness is theirs, His standing before God is theirs, His
life is theirs. There is not a single condition for them to meet, not a single
responsibility for them to discharge in order to attain their eternal bliss..31
“By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are set apart”
(

Hebrews 10:14).
Here then is the sovereignty of God openly displayed before all, displayed
in the different ways in which He has dealt with His creatures. Part of the
angels, Adam, Israel, were placed upon a conditional footing, continuance
in blessing being made dependent upon their obedience and fidelity to God.
But in sharp contrast from them, the “little flock” (

Luke 12:32), have
been given an unconditional, an immutable standing in God’s covenant,
God’s counsels, God’s Son; their blessing being made dependent upon
what Christ did for them.
“The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal: The Lord
knoweth them that are His” (

2 Timothy 1:19).
The foundation on which God’s elect stand is a perfect one: nothing can be
added to it, nor anything taken from it (

Ecclesiastes 3:14). Here, then,
is the highest and grandest display of the absolute sovereignty of God.
Verily, He has
“mercy on whom He will have mercy, and, whom He will He
hardeneth” (

Romans 9:18)..32
7. THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD
This is one of the Divine perfections which is not sufficiently pondered. It
is one of the excellencies of the Creator which distinguishes Him from all
His creatures. God is perpetually the same: subject to no change in His
being, attributes, or determinations. Therefore God is compared to a rock
(

Deuteronomy 32:4, etc.) which remains immovable, when the entire
ocean surrounding it is continually in a fluctuating state; even so, though all
creatures are subject to change, God is immutable. Because God has no
beginning and no ending, He can know no change. He is everlastingly
“the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow
of turning” (

James 1:17).
First, God is immutable in His essence. His nature and being are infinite,
and so, subject to no mutations. There never was a time when He was not;
there never will come a time when He shall cease to be. God has neither
evolved, grown, nor improved. All that He is today, He has ever been, and
ever will be. “I am the Lord, I change not” (

Malachi 3:6) is His own
unqualified affirmation. He cannot change for the better, for He is already
perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse. Altogether
unaffected by anything outside Himself, improvement or deterioration is
impossible. He is perpetually the same. He only can say, “I am that I am”
(

Exodus 3:14). He is altogether uninfluenced by the flight of time.
There is no wrinkle upon the brow of eternity. Therefore His power can
never diminish nor His glory ever fade.
Secondly, God is immutable in His attributes. Whatever the attributes of
God were before the universe was called into existence, they are precisely
the same now, and will remain so forever. Necessarily so; for they are the
very perfections, the essential qualities of His being. Semper idem (always
the same) is written across every one of them. His power is unabated, His
wisdom undiminished, His holiness unsullied. The attributes of God can no
more change than Deity can cease to be. His veracity is immutable, for His
Word is “forever settled in heaven” (

Psalm 119:89). His love is
eternal:
“I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (

Jeremiah 31:3)
and.33
“Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them
unto the end” (

John 13:1).
His mercy ceases not, for it is “everlasting” (

Psalm 100:5).
Thirdly, God is immutable in His counsel. His will never varies. Perhaps
some are ready to object that we ought to read the following:
“And it repented the Lord that He had made man”
(

Genesis 6:6).
Our first reply is, Then do the Scriptures contradict themselves? No, that
cannot be.

Numbers 23:19 is plain enough: “God is not a man, that He
should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent.” So also in

1
Samuel 15:19,
“The strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for He is not a man,
that He should repent.”
The explanation is very simple. When speaking of Himself. God frequently
accommodates His language to our limited capacities. He describes
Himself as clothed with bodily members, as eyes, ears, hands, etc. He
speaks of Himself as “waking” (

Psalm 78:65), as “rising early”
(

Jeremiah 7:13); yet He neither slumbers nor sleeps. When He
institutes a change in His dealings with men, He describes His course of
conduct as “repenting.”
Yes, God is immutable in His counsel.
“The gifts and calling of God are without repentance”
(

Romans 11:29).
It must be so, for
“He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul
desireth, even that He doeth” (

Job 23:13).
Change and decay in all around we see, may He who changeth not abide
with thee. God’s purpose never alters. One of two things causes a man to
change his mind and reverse his plans: want of foresight to anticipate
everything, or lack of power to execute them. But as God is both
omniscient and omnipotent there is never any need for Him to revise His
decrees. No. “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of.34
His heart to all generations” (

Psalm 33:11). Therefore do we read of
“the immutability of His counsel” (

Hebrews 6:17).
Herein we may perceive the infinite distance which separates the highest
creature from the Creator. Creaturehood and mutability are correlative
terms. If the creature was not mutable by nature, it would not be a
creature; it would be God. By nature we tend to nothing, as we came from
nothing. Nothing stays our annihilation but the will and sustaining power of
God. None can sustain himself a single moment. We are entirely dependent
on the Creator for every breath we draw. We gladly own with the Psalmist
Thou “holdest our soul in life” (

Psalm 66:9). The realization of this
ought to make us lie down under a sense of our own nothingness in the
presence of Him “in Whom we live and move, and have our being”
(

Acts 17:28).
As fallen creatures we are not only mutable, but everything in us is
opposed to God. As such we are “wandering stars” (

Jude 13), out of
our proper orbit. The wicked are “like the troubled sea, when it cannot
rest” (

Isaiah 57:20). Fallen man is inconstant. The words of Jacob
concerning Reuben apply with full force to all of Adam’s descendants:
“unstable as water” (

Genesis 49:4). Thus it is not only a mark of piety,
but also the part of wisdom to heed that injunction, “cease ye from man”
(

Isaiah 2:22). No human being is to be depended on.
“Put not your trust in princes, in the son of man, in whom is no
help” (

Psalm 146:3).
If I disobey God, then I deserve to be deceived and disappointed by my
fellows. People who like you today, may hate you tomorrow. The
multitude who cried “Hosanna to the Son of David,” speedily changed to
“Away with Him, Crucify Him.”
Herein is solid comfort. Human nature cannot be relied upon; but God can!
However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God
changes not. If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and
another tomorrow, if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in
Him? But, all praise to His glorious name, He is ever the game. His
purpose is fixed, His will stable, His word is sure. Here then is a rock on
which we may fix our feet, while the mighty torrent is sweeping away
everything around us. The permanence of God’s character guarantees the
fulfillment of His promises:.35
“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my
kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of
My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee”
(

Isaiah 54:10).
Herein is encouragement to prayer:
“What comfort would it be to pray to a god that, like the
chameleon, changed color every moment? Who would put up a
petition to an earthly prince that was so mutable as to grant a
petition one day, and deny it another?” (S. Charnock, 1670).
Should someone ask, But what is the use of praying to One whose will is
already fixed? We answer, Because He so requires it. What blessings has
God promised without our seeking them? “If we ask anything according to
His will, He heareth us” (

1 John 5:14), and He has willed everything
that is for His child’s good. To ask for anything contrary to His will is not
prayer, but rank rebellion.
Herein is terror for the wicked. Those who defy Him, break His laws, have
no concern for His glory, but live their lives as though He existed not, must
not suppose that, when at the last they shall cry to Him for mercy, He will
alter His will, revoke His word, and rescind His awful threatenings. No, He
has declared,
“Therefore will I also deal in fury: Mine eye shall not spare, neither
will I have pity: and though they cry in Mine ears with a loud voice,
yet will I not hear them” (

Ezekiel 8:18).
God will not deny Himself to gratify their lusts. God is holy, unchangingly
so. Therefore God hates sin, eternally hates it. Hence the eternality of the
punishment of all who die in their sins.
The Divine immutability, like the cloud which interposed between
the Israelites and the Egyptian army, has a dark as well as a light
side. It insures the execution of His threatenings, as well as the
performance of His promises; and destroys the hope which the
guilty fondly cherish, that He will be all lenity to His frail and erring
creatures, and that they will be much more lightly dealt with than
the declarations of His own Word would lead us to expect. We
oppose to these deceitful and presumptuous speculations the.36
solemn truth, that God is unchanging in veracity and purpose, in
faithfulness and justice. (J. Dick, 1850)..37
8. THE HOLINESS OF GOD
“Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou
only art holy” (

Revelation 15:4).
He only is independently, infinitely, immutably holy. In Scripture He is
frequently styled “The Holy One”: He is so because the sum of all moral
excellency is found in Him. He is absolute Purity, unsullied even by the
shadow of sin.
“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (

1 John 1:5).
Holiness is the very excellency of the Divine nature: the great God is
“glorious in holiness” (

Exodus 15:11). Therefore do we read, “Thou
art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity”
(

Habakkuk 1:13). As God’s power is the opposite of the native
weakness of the creature, as His wisdom is in complete contrast from the
least defect of understanding or folly, so His holiness is the very antithesis
of all moral blemish or defilement. Of old God appointed singers in Israel
“that they should praise for the beauty of holiness”
(

2 Chronicles 20:21).
“Power is God’s hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy His bowels,
eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty” (S. Charnock). It is this,
supremely, which renders Him lovely to those who are delivered from sin’s
dominion.
A chief emphasis is placed upon this perfection of God: God is
oftener styled Holy than almighty, and set forth by this part of His
dignity more than by any other. This is more fixed on as an epithet
to His name than any other. You never find it expressed ‘His
mighty name’ or ‘His wise name,’ but His great name, and most of
all, His holy name. This is the greatest title of honor; in this latter
doth the majesty and venerableness of His name appear (S.
Charnock).
This perfection, as none other, is solemnly celebrated before the Throne of
Heaven, the seraphim crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts”
(

Isaiah 6:3). God Himself singles out this perfection, “Once have I
sworn by Thy holiness” (

Psalm 89:35). God swears by His holiness.38
because that is a fuller expression of Himself than anything else. Therefore
are we exhorted,
“Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of His, and give thanks at the
remembrance of His holiness”(

Psalm 30:4).
“This may be said to be a transcendental attribute, that, as it were,
runs through the rest, and casts luster upon them. It is an attribute
of attributes” (J. Howe, 1670).
Thus we read of “the beauty of the Lord” (

Psalm 27:4), which is none
other than “the beauty of holiness” (

Psalm 110:3).
As it seems to challenge an excellency above all His other
perfections, so it is the glory of all the rest; as it is the glory of the
Godhead, so it is the glory of every perfection in the Godhead; as
His power is the strength of them, so His holiness is the beauty of
them; as all would be weak without almightiness to back them, so
all would be uncomely without holiness to adorn them. Should this
be sullied, all the rest would lose their honor; as at the same instant
the sun should lose its light, it would lose its heat, its strength, its
generative and quickening virtue. As sincerity is the luster of every
grace in a Christian, so is purity the splendor of every attribute in
the Godhead. His justice is a holy justice, His wisdom a holy
wisdom, His arm of power a “holy arm” (

Psalm 98:1), His truth
or promise a “holy promise” (

Psalm 105:42). His name, which
signifies all His attributes in conjunction, “is holy,”

Psalm
103:1 (S. Charnock).
God’s holiness is manifested in His works.
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works”
(

Psalm 145:17).
Nothing but that which is excellent can proceed from Him. Holiness is the
rule of all His actions. At the beginning He pronounced all that He made
“very good” (

Genesis 1:31), which He could not have done had there
been anything imperfect or unholy in them. Man was made “upright”
(

Ecclesiastes 7:29), in the image and likeness of his Creator. The
angels that fell were created holy, for we are told that they “kept not their
first habitation” (

Jude 6). Of Satan it is written,.39
“Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast
created, till iniquity was found in thee” (

Ezekiel 28:15).
God’s holiness is manifested in His law. That law forbids sin in all of its
modifications: in its most refined as well as its grossest forms, the intent of
the mind as well as the pollution of the body, the secret desire as well as
the overt act. Therefore do we read, The law is holy, and “the
commandment holy, and just, and good” (

Romans 7:12). Yes,
“the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The
fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the
Lord are true and righteous altogether” (

Psalm 19:8, 9).
God’s holiness is manifested at the Cross. Wondrously and yet most
solemnly does the Atonement display God’s infinite holiness and
abhorrence of sin. How hateful must sin be to God for Him to punish it to
its utmost deserts when it was imputed to His Son!
Not all the vials of judgment that have or shall be poured out upon
the wicked world, nor the flaming furnace of a sinner’s conscience,
nor the irreversible sentence pronounced against the rebellious
demons, nor the groans of the damned creatures, give such a
demonstration of God’s hatred of sin, as the wrath of God let loose
upon His Son. Never did Divine holiness appear more beautiful and
lovely than at the time our Savior’s countenance was most marred
in the midst of His dying groans. This Himself acknowledges in
Psalm 22. When God had turned His smiling face from Him, and
thrust His sharp knife into His heart, which forced that terrible cry
from Him, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” He
adores this perfection—“Thou art holy,” 5:3 (S. Charnock).
Because God is holy He hates all sin. He loves everything which is in
conformity to His laws, and loathes everything which is contrary to it. His
Word plainly declares, “The froward is an abomination to the Lord”
(

Proverbs 3:32). And again,
“The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord”
(

Proverbs 15:26).
It follows, therefore, that He must necessarily punish sin. Sin can no more
exist without demanding His punishment than without requiring His hatred
of it. God has often forgiven sinners, but He never forgives sin; and the.40
sinner is only forgiven on the ground of Another having borne his
punishment; for “without shedding of blood is no remission” (

Hebrews
9:22). Therefore we are told,
“The Lord will, take vengeance on His adversaries, and He
reserveth Wrath for His enemies” (

Nahum 1:2).
For one sin God banished our first parents from Eden. For one sin all the
posterity of Ham fell under a curse which remains over them to this day
(

Genesis 9:21). For one sin Moses was excluded from Canaan, Elisha’s
servant smitten with leprosy, Ananias and Sapphira cut off out of the land
of the living.
Herein we find proof for the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures. The
unregenerate do not really believe in the holiness of God. Their conception
of His character is altogether one-sided. They fondly hope that His mercy
will override everything else. “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether as
thyself” (

Psalm 50:21) is God’s charge against them. They think only
of a “god” patterned after their own evil hearts. Hence their continuance in
a course of mad folly. Such is the holiness ascribed to the Divine nature
and character in Scripture that it clearly demonstrates their superhuman
origin. The character attributed to the “gods” of the ancients and of
modern heathendom are the very reverse of that immaculate purity which
pertains to the true God. An ineffably holy God, who has the utmost
abhorrence of all sin, was never invented by any of Adam’s fallen
descendants! The fact is that nothing makes more manifest the terrible
depravity of man’s heart and his enmity against the living God than to have
set before him One who is infinitely and immutably holy. His own idea of
sin is practically limited to what the world calls “crime.” Anything short of
that, man palliates as “defects,” “mistakes,” “infirmities,” etc. And even
where sin is owned at all, excuses and extenuations are made for it.
The “god” which the vast majority of professing Christians “love,” is
looked upon very much like an indulgent old man, who himself has no
relish for folly, but leniently winks at the “indiscretions” of youth. But the
Word says, “Thou hatest all workers of iniquity “(

Psalm 5:5). And
again, “God is angry with the wicked every day” (

Psalm 7:11). But
men refuse to believe in this God, and gnash their teeth when His hatred of
sin is faithfully pressed upon their attention. No, sinful man was no more
likely to devise a holy God than to create the Lake of fire in which he will
be tormented for ever and ever..41
Because God is holy, acceptance with Him on the ground of creature
doings is utterly impossible. A fallen creature could sooner create a world
than produce that which would meet the approval of infinite Purity. Can
darkness dwell with Light? Can the Immaculate One take pleasure in “filthy
rags” (

Isaiah 64:6)? The best that sinful man brings forth is defiled. A
corrupt tree cannot bear good fruit. God would deny Himself, vilify His
perfections, were He to account as righteous and holy that which is not so
in itself; and nothing is so which has the least stain upon it contrary to the
nature of God. But blessed be His name, that which His holiness demanded
His grace has provided in Christ Jesus our Lord. Every poor sinner who
has fled to Him for refuge stands “accepted in the Beloved” (

Ephesians
1:6). Hallelujah!
Because God is holy the utmost reverence becomes our approaches unto
Him.
“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be
had in reverence of all about Him” (

Psalm 89:7).
Then
“Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool; He is
holy” (

Psalm 99:5).
Yes, “at His footstool,” in the lowest posture of humility, prostrate before
Him. When Moses would approach unto the burning bush, God said, “put
off thy shoes from off thy feet” (

Exodus 3:5). He is to be served “with
fear” (

Psalm 2:11). Of Israel His demand was,
“I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me, and before all the
people I will be glorified” (

Leviticus 10:3).
The more our hearts are awed by His ineffable holiness, the more
acceptable will be our approaches unto Him.
Because God is holy we should desire to be conformed to Him. His
command is, “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (

1 Peter 1:16). We are not
bidden to be omnipotent or omniscient as God is, but we are to be holy,
and that “in all manner of deportment” (

1 Peter 1:15).
This is the prime way of honoring God. We do not so glorify God
by elevated admiration, or eloquent expressions, or pompous.42
services of Him, as when we aspire to a conversing with Him with
unstained spirits, end live to Him in living like Him (S. Charnock).
Then as God alone is the Source and Fount of holiness, let us earnestly
seek holiness from Him; let our daily prayer be that He may “sanctify us
wholly; and our whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (

1 Thessalonians 5:23)..43
9. THE POWER OF GOD
We cannot have a right conception of God unless we think of Him as all-powerful,
as well as all-wise. He who cannot do what he will and perform
all his pleasure cannot be God. As God hath a will to resolve what He
deems good, so has He power to execute His will.
The power of God is that ability and strength whereby He can bring
to pass whatsoever He pleases, whatsoever His infinite wisdom
may direct, and whatsoever the infinite purity of His will may
resolve… As holiness is the beauty of all God’s attributes, so power
is that which gives life and action to all the perfections of the
Divine nature. How vain would be the eternal counsels, if power
did not step in to execute them. Without power His mercy would
be but feeble pity, His promises an empty sound, His threatenings a
mere scarecrow. God’s power is like Himself: infinite, eternal,
incomprehensible; it can neither be checked, restrained, nor
frustrated by the creature. (S. Charnock).
“God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power
belongeth unto God” (

Psalm 62:11).
“God hath spoken once”: nothing more is necessary! Heaven and earth
shall pass away, but His word abideth forever. God hath spoken once: how
befitting His Divine majesty! We poor mortals may speak often and yet fail
to be heard. He speaks but once and the thunder of His power is heard on a
thousand hills.
“The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave His
voice; hailstones and coals of fire. Yea, He sent out His arrows, and
scattered them; and He shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.
Then the channels of waters were seen and the foundations of the
world were discovered at Thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the
breath of Thy nostrils” (

Psalm 18:13-15).
“God hath spoken once”: behold His unchanging authority.
“For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who
among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?”
(

Psalm 89:6)..44
“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He
doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the
inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto
Him, What dost Thou?” (

Daniel 4:35).
This was openly displayed when God became incarnate and tabernacled
among men. To the leper He said,
“I Will, be thou clean, and immediately his leprosy was cleansed”
(

Matthew 8:3).
To one who had lain in the grave four days He cried, “Lazarus, come
forth,” and the dead came forth. The stormy wind and the angry wave were
hushed at a single word from Him. A legion of demons could not resist His
authoritative command.
“Power belongeth unto God,” and to Him alone. Not a creature in the
entire universe has an atom of power save what God delegates. But God’s
power is not acquired, nor does it depend upon any recognition by any
other authority. It belongs to Him inherently.
God’s power is like Himself, self-existent, self-sustained. The
mightiest of men cannot add so much as a shadow of increased
power to the Omnipotent One. He sits on no buttressed throne and
leans on no assisting arm. His court is not maintained by His
courtiers, nor does it borrow its splendor from His creatures. He is
Himself the great central source and Originator of all power (C. H.
Spurgeon).
Not only does all creation bear witness to the great power of God, but also
to His entire independency of all created things. Listen to His own
challenge: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?
declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if
thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the
foundations thereof fastened or who laid the cornerstone thereof?”
(

Job 38:4-6). How completely is the pride of man laid in the dust!
Power is also used as a name of God, the Son of man sitting at the
right hand of power (

Mark 14:62), that is, at the right hand of
God. God and power are so inseparable that they are reciprocated.
As His essence is immense, not to be confined in place; as it is.45
eternal, not to be measured in time; so it is almighty, not to be
limited in regard of action (S. Charnock).
“Lo, these are parts of His ways:” but how little a portion is heard of Him?
but the thunder of His power who can understand? (

Job 26:14). Who
is able to count all the monuments of His power? Even that which is
displayed of His might in the visible creation is utterly beyond our powers
of comprehension, still less are we able to conceive of omnipotence itself.
There is infinitely more power lodged in the nature of God than is
expressed in all His works.
“Parts of His ways” we behold in creation, providence, redemption, but
only a “little part” of His might is seen in them. Remarkably is this brought
out in

Habakkuk 3:4: “and there was the hiding of His power.” It is
scarcely possible to imagine anything more grandiloquent than the imagery
of this whole chapter, yet nothing in it surpasses the nobility of this
statement. The prophet (in vision) beheld the mighty God scattering the
hills and overturning the mountains, which one would think afforded an
amazing demonstration of His power Nay, says our verse, that is rather the
“hiding” than the displaying of His power. What is meant? This: so
inconceivable, so immense, so uncontrollable is the power of Deity, that
the fearful convulsions which He works in nature conceal more than they
reveal of His infinite might!
It is very beautiful to link together the following passages: “He walketh
upon the waves of the sea” (

Job 9:8), which expresses God’s
uncontrollable power. “He walketh in the circuit of Heaven” (

Job
22:14), which tells of the immensity of His presence. “He walketh upon the
wings of the wind” (

Psalm 104:3), which signifies the amazing
swiftness of His operations. This last expression is very remarkable. It is
not that “He flieth,” or “runneth,” but that He “walketh” and that, on the
very “wings of the wind”—on the most impetuous of the elements, tossed
into utmost rage, and sweeping along with almost inconceivable rapidity,
yet they are under His feet, beneath His perfect control!
Let us now consider God’s power in creation.
“The heavens are Thine, the earth also is Thine, as for the world
and the fullness thereof, Thou hast founded them. The north and
the south Thou hast created them” (

Psalm 89:11, 12)..46
Before man can work be must have both tools and materials, but God
began with nothing, and by His word alone out of nothing made all things.
The intellect cannot grasp it. God
“spake and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast”
(

Psalm 33:9).
Primeval matter heard His voice. “God said, Let there be… and it was so”
(Genesis 1). Well may we exclaim,
“Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is Thy hand, high is Thy right
hand” (

Psalm 89:13).
Who, that looks upward to the midnight sky; and, with an eye of
reason, beholds its rolling wonders; who can forbear inquiring, Of
what were their mighty orbs formed? Amazing to relate, they were
produced without materials. They sprung from emptiness itself. The
stately fabric of universal nature emerged out of nothing. What
instruments were used by the Supreme Architect to fashion the
parts with such exquisite niceness, and give so beautiful a polish to
the whole? How was it all connected into one finely-proportioned
and nobly finished structure? A bare fiat accomplished all. Let them
be, said God. He added no more; and at once the marvelous edifice
arose, adorned with every beauty, displaying innumerable
perfections, and declaring amidst enraptured seraphs its great
Creator’s praise. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,
and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth,”

Psalm
150:1 (James Hervey, 1789).
Consider God’s power in preservation. No creature has power to preserve
itself. “Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow up without
water?” (

Job 8:11). Both man and beast would perish if there were not
herbs for food, and herbs would wither and die if the earth were not
refreshed with fruitful showers. Therefore is God called the Preserver of
“man and beast” (

Psalm 36:6). “He upholdeth all things by the word of
His power” (

Hebrews 1:3). What a marvel of Divine power is the
prenatal life of every human being! That an infant can live at all, and for so
many months, in such cramped and filthy quarters, and that without
breathing, is unaccountable without the power of God. Truly He “holdeth
our soul in life” (

Psalm 66:9)..47
The preservation of the earth from the violence of the sea is another plain
instance of God’s might. How is that raging element kept pent within those
limits wherein He first lodged it, continuing its channel, without
overflowing the earth and dashing in pieces the lower part of the creation?
The natural situation of the water is to be above the earth, because it is
lighter, and to be immediately under the air, because it is heavier. Who
restrains the natural quality of it? certainly man does not, and cannot. It is
the flat of its Creator which alone bridles it: And said,
“Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud
waves be stayed” (

Job 38:11).
What a standing monument of the power of God is the preservation of the
world!
Consider God’s power in government. Take His restraining the malice of
Satan.
“The devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may
devour” (

1 Peter 5:8).
He is filled with hatred against God, and with fiendish enmity against men,
particularly the saints. He that envied Adam in paradise, envies us the
pleasure of enjoying any of God’s blessings. Could he have his will, he
would treat all the same way he treated Job: he would send fire from
heaven on the fruits of the earth, destroying the cattle, cause a wind to
overthrow our houses, and cover our bodies with boils. But, little as men
may realize it, God bridles him to a large extent, prevents him from
carrying out his evil designs, and confines him within His ordinations.
So too God restrains the natural corruption of men. He suffers sufficient
outbreakings of sin to show what fearful havoc has been wrought by man’s
apostasy from his Maker, but who can conceive the frightful lengths to
which men would go were God to remove His curbing hand?
“Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness their feet are swift to
shed blood” (Romans 3).
This is the nature of every descendant of Adam. Then what unbridled
licentiousness and headstrong folly would triumph in the world, if the
power of God did not interpose to lock down the floodgates of it! See

Psalm 93:3,4..48
Consider God’s power in judgment. When He smites, none can resist Him:
see

Ezekiel 22:14. How terribly this was exemplified at the Flood! God
opened the windows of heaven and broke up the great fountains of the
deep, and (excepting those in the ark) the entire human race, helpless
before the storm of His wrath, was swept away. A shower of fire and
brimstone from heaven, and the cities of the plain were exterminated.
Pharaoh and all his hosts were impotent when God blew upon them at the
Red Sea. What a terrific word is that in

Romans 9:22: “What if God,
willing to show wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much
long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” God is going to
display His mighty power upon the reprobate not merely by incarcerating
them in Gehenna, but by supernaturally preserving their bodies as well as
souls amid the eternal burnings of the Lake of Fire.
Well may all tremble before such a God! To treat with impunity One who
can crush us more easily than we can a moth, is a suicidal policy. To
openly defy Him who is clothed with omnipotence, who can rend us in
pieces or cast into Hell any moment He pleases, is the very height of
insanity. To put it on its lowest ground, it is but the part of wisdom to heed
His command,
“Kiss the Son. lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when
His wrath is kindled but a little” (

Psalm 2:12).
Well may the enlightened soul adore such a God! The wondrous and
infinite perfections of such a Being call for fervent worship. If men of
might and renown claim the admiration of the world, how much more
should the power of the Almighty fill us with wonderment and homage.
“Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the who is like Thee,
glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”
(

Exodus 15:11).
Well may the saint trust such a God! He is worthy of implicit confidence.
Nothing is too hard for Him. If God were stinted in might and had a limit
to His strength we might well despair. But seeing that He is clothed with
omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need too great
for Him to supply, no passion too strong for Him to subdue; no temptation
too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for Him to
relieve..49
“The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
(

Psalm 27:1).
“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all
that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all
ages, world without end. Amen” (

Ephesians 3:20,21)..50
10. THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD
Unfaithfulness is one of the most outstanding sins of these evil days. In the
business world, a man’s word is, with exceedingly rare exceptions, no
longer his bond. In the social world, marital infidelity abounds on every
hand, the sacred bonds of wedlock being broken with as little regard as the
discarding of an old garment. In the ecclesiastical realm, thousands who
have solemnly covenanted to preach the truth make no scruple to attack
and deny it. Nor can reader or writer claim complete immunity from this
fearful sin: in how many ways have we been unfaithful to Christ, and to the
light and privileges which God has entrusted to us! How refreshing, then,
how unspeakably blessed, to lift our eyes above this scene of ruin, and
behold One who is faithful, faithful in all things, faithful at all times.
“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful
God” (

Deuteronomy 7:9).
This quality is essential to His being, without it He would not be God. For
God to be unfaithful would be to act contrary to His nature, which were
impossible:
“If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself”
(

2 Timothy 2:13).
Faithfulness is one of the glorious perfections of His being. He is as it were
clothed with it:
“O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto Thee? or to
Thy faithfulness round about Thee?” (

Psalm 89:8).
So too when God became incarnate it was said,
“Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the
girdle of His reins” (

Isaiah 11:5).
What a word is that in

Psalm 36:5, Thy mercy, “O Lord, is in the
heavens; and Thy faithfulness unto the clouds.” Far above all finite
comprehension is the unchanging faithfulness of God. Everything about
God is great, vast, incomparable. He never forgets, never fails, never
falters, never forfeits His word. To every declaration of promise or.51
prophecy the Lord has exactly adhered, every engagement of covenant or
threatening He will make good, for
“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 hath He
spoken, and shall He not make it good?” (

Numbers 23:19).
Therefore does the believer exclaim,
“His compassions fail not, they are new every morning: great is
Thy faithfulness” (

Lamentations 3:22, 23).
Scripture abounds in illustrations of God’s faithfulness. More than four
thousand years ago He said,
“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and
heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease”
(

Genesis 8:22).
Every year that comes furnishes a fresh witness to God’s fulfillment of this
promise. In Genesis 15 we find that Jehovah declared unto Abraham, “Thy
seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them….
But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again” (vv. 13-16).
Centuries ran their weary course. Abraham’s descendants groaned amid the
brick-kilns of Egypt. Had God forgotten His promise? No, indeed. Read

Exodus 12:41, “And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and
thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the
Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” Through Isaiah the Lord declared,
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His
name Immanuel” (

7:14).
Again centuries passed, but “When the fullness of the time was come, God
sent forth His Son, made of a woman” (

Galatians 4:4).
God is true. His Word of Promise is sure. In all His relations with His
people God is faithful. He may be safely relied upon. No one ever yet really
trusted Him in vain. We find this precious truth expressed almost
everywhere in the Scriptures, for His people need to know that faithfulness
is an essential part of the Divine character. This is the basis of our
confidence in Him. But it is one thing to accept the faithfulness of God as a
Divine truth, it is quite another to act upon it. God has given us many
“exceeding great and precious promises,” but are we really counting on His.52
fulfillment of them? Are we actually expecting Him to do for us all that He
has said? Are we resting with implicit assurance on these words,
“He is faithful that promised” (

Hebrews 10:23)?
There are seasons in the lives of all when it is not easy, no not even for
Christians, to believe that God is faithful. Our faith is sorely tried, our eyes
bedimmed with tears, and we can no longer trace the outworkings of His
love. Our ears are distracted with the noises of the world, harassed by the
atheistic whisperings of Satan, and we can no longer hear the sweet
accents of His still small voice. Cherished plans have been thwarted, friends
on whom we relied have failed us, a profest brother or sister in Christ has
betrayed us. We are staggered. We sought to be faithful to God, and now a
dark cloud hides Him from us. We find it difficult, yea, impossible, for
carnal reason to harmonize His frowning providence with His gracious
promises. Ah, faltering soul, severely-tried fellow-pilgrim, seek grace to
heed

Isaiah 50:10,
“Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of
His servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? let him
trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.”
When you are tempted to doubt the faithfulness of God, cry out, “Get thee
hence, Satan.” Though you cannot now harmonize God’s mysterious
dealings with the avowals of His love, wait on Him for more light. In His
own good time He will make it plain to you.
“What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter”
(

John 13:7).
The sequel will yet demonstrate that God has neither forsaken nor deceived
His child. “And therefore will the Lord wait that He may be gracious unto
you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you:
for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him”
(

Isaiah 30:18).
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace,
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face..53
Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread,
Are rich with mercy, and shall break
In blessing o’er your head.”
“Thy testimonies which Thou hast commanded are righteous and
very faithful” (

Psalm 119:138).
God has not only told us the best, but He has not withheld the worst. He
has faithfully described the ruin which the Fall has effected. He has
faithfully diagnosed the terrible state which sin has produced. He has
faithfully made known his inveterate hatred of evil, and that He must
punish the same. He has faithfully warned us that He is “a consuming fire”
(

Hebrews 12:29). Not only does His Word abound in illustrations of
His fidelity in fulfilling His promises, but it also records numerous
examples of His faithfulness in making good His threatenings. Every stage
of Israel’s history exemplifies that solemn fact. So it was with individuals:
Pharaoh, Korah, Achan and a host of others are so many proofs. And thus
it will be with you, my reader: unless you have fled or do flee to Christ for
refuge, the everlasting burning of the Lake of Fire will be your sure and
certain portion. God is faithful.
God is faithful in preserving His people.
“God is faithful, by whom ye are called unto the fellowship of His
Son” (

1 Corinthians 1:9).
In the previous verse promise was made that God would confirm unto the
end His own people. The Apostle’s confidence in the absolute security of
believers was founded not on the strength of their resolutions or ability to
persevere, but on the veracity of Him that cannot lie. Since God has
promised to His Son a certain people for His inheritance, to deliver them
from sin and condemnation, and to make them participants of eternal life in
glory, it is certain that He will not allow any of them to perish.
God is faithful in disciplining His people. He is faithful in what He
withholds, no less than in what He gives. He is faithful in sending sorrow
as well as in giving joy. The faithfulness of god is a truth to be confessed
by us not only when we are at ease, but also when we are smarting under
the sharpest rebuke. Nor must this confession be merely of our mouths, but
of our hearts, too. When God smites us with the rod of chastisement, it is
faithfulness which wields it. To acknowledge this means that we humble.54
ourselves before Him, own that we fully deserve His correction, and
instead of murmuring, thank Him for it. God never afflicts without reason.
“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you”
(

1 Corinthians 11:30),
says Paul, illustrating this principle. When His rod falls upon us let us say
with Daniel,
“O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion
of faces’ (

9:7)
“I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in
faithfulness hast afflicted me” (

Psalm 119:15).
Trouble and affliction are not only consistent with God’s love pledged in
the everlasting covenant, but they are parts of the administration of the
same. God is not only faithful notwithstanding afflictions, but faithful in
sending them.
“The will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity
with stripes: My lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him nor
suffer My faithfulness to fail” (

Psalm 89:32, 33).
Chastening is not only reconcilable with God’s lovingkindness, but it is the
effect and expression of it. It would much quieten the minds of God’s
people if they would remember that His covenant love binds Him to lay on
them seasonable correction. Afflictions are necessary for us:
“In their affliction they will seek Me early” (

Hosea 5:15)
God is faithful in glorifying His people. “Faithful is He which calleth you,
who also will do” (

1 Thessalonians 5:24). The immediate reference
here is to the saints being preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ. God treats with us not on the ground of our merits (for we
have none), but for His own great name’s sake. God is constant to Himself
and to His own purpose of grace whom He called. . .them He also glorified
(

Romans 8:30). God gives a full demonstration of the constancy of His
everlasting goodness toward His elect by effectually calling them out of
darkness into His marvelous light, and this should fully assure them of the
certain continuance of it. The foundation of God standeth sure (

2
Timothy 2:19). Paul was resting on the faithfulness of God when he said, I.55
know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that
which I have committed unto Him against that day (

2 Timothy 1:12).
The apprehension of this blessed truth will preserve us from worry. To be
full of care, to view our situation with dark forebodings, to anticipate the
morrow with sad anxiety, is to reflect upon the faithfulness of God. He
who has cared for His child through all the years, will not forsake him in
old age. He who has heard your prayers in the past, will not refuse to
supply your need in the present emergency. Rest on

Job 5:19, “He
shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall be no evil touch
thee.”
The apprehension of this blessed truth will check our murmurings. The
Lord knows what is best for each of us, and one effect or resting on this
truth will be the silencing of our petulant complainings. God is greatly
honored when, under trial and chastening, we have good thoughts of Him,
vindicate His wisdom and justice, and recognize His love in His very
rebukes.
The apprehension of this blessed truth will beget increasing confidence in
God.
“Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God
commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well to Him in well
doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (

1 Peter 4:19).
When we trustfully resign ourselves, and all our affairs into God’s hands,
fully persuaded of His love and faithfulness, the sooner shall we be satisfied
with his providence and realize that “He doeth all things well.”.56
11. THE GOODNESS OF GOD
“The goodness of God endureth continually” (

Psalm 52:1)
The “goodness” of God respects the perfection of His nature:
“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (

1 John 1:5).
There is such an absolute perfection in God’s nature and being that nothing
is wanting to it or defective in it, and nothing can be added to it to make it
better.
He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else is; for all
creatures are good only by participation and communication from
God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the
creature’s good is a superadded quality, in God it is His essence.
He is infinitely good; the creature’s good is but a drop, but in God
there is an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is
eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He
is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from
Him. (Thos. Manton).
God is summum bonum, the chiefest good.
The original Saxon meaning of our English word “God” is “The Good.”
God is not only the Greatest of all beings, but the Best. All the goodness
there is in any creature has been imparted from the Creator, but God’s
goodness is underived, for it is the essence of His eternal nature. As God is
infinite in power from all eternity, before there was any display thereof, or
any act of omnipotency put forth; so He was eternally good before there
was any communication of His bounty, or any creature to whom it might
be imparted or exercised. Thus, the first manifestation of this Divine
perfection was in giving being to all things. “Thou art good, and doest
good” (

Psalm 119:68). God has in Himself an infinite and inexhaustible
treasure of all blessedness enough to fill all things.
All that emanates from God—His decrees, His creation, His laws, His
providences—cannot be otherwise than good: as it is written.
“And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was
very good” (

Genesis 1:31)..57
Thus, the “goodness” of God is seen, first, in Creation. The more closely
the creature is studied, the more the beneficence of its Creator becomes
apparent. Take the highest of God’s earthly creatures, man. Abundant
reason has he to say with the Psalmist,
“I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well”
(

Psalm 139:14).
Everything about the structure of our bodies attests the goodness of their
Maker. How suited the bands to perform their allotted work! How good of
the Lord to appoint sleep to refresh the wearied body! How benevolent His
provision to give unto the eyes lids and brows for their protection! And so
we might continue indefinitely.
Nor is the goodness of the Creator confined to man, it is exercised toward
all His creatures.
“The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their meat
in due season. Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of
every living thing” (

Psalm 145:15,16).
Whole volumes might be written, yea have been, to amplify this fact.
Whether it be the birds of the air, the beasts of the forest, or the fish in the
sea, abundant provision has been made to supply their every need. God
“giveth food to all flesh, for His mercy endureth forever”
(

Psalm 136:25).
Truly,
“The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” (

Psalm 33:5).
The goodness of God is seen in the variety of natural pleasures which He
has provided for His creatures. God might have been pleased to satisfy our
hunger without the food being pleasing to our palates—how His
benevolence appears in the varied flavors which He has given to meats,
vegetables, and fruits! God has not only given us senses, but also that
which gratifies them; and this too reveals His goodness. The earth might
have been as fertile as it is without its surface being so delightfully
variegated. Our physical lives could have been sustained without beautiful
flowers to regale our eyes, and exhale sweet perfumes. We might have
walked the fields without our ears being saluted by the music of the birds..58
Whence, then, this loveliness, this charm, so freely diffused over the face of
nature? Verily,
“The tender mercies of the Lord are over all His works”
(

Psalm 145:9).
The goodness of God is seen in that when man transgressed the law of His
Creator a dispensation of unmixed wrath did not at once commence. Well
might God have deprived His fallen creatures of every blessing, every
comfort, every pleasure. Instead, He ushered in a regime of a mixed nature,
of mercy and judgment. This is very wonderful if it be duly considered, and
the more thoroughly that regime be examined the more will it appear that
“mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (

James 2:13). Notwithstanding all
the evils which attend our fallen state, the balance of good greatly
preponderates. With comparatively rare exceptions, men and women
experience a far greater number of days of health, than they do of sickness
and pain. There is much more creature—happiness than creature—misery
in the world. Even our sorrows admit of considerable alleviation, and God
has given to the human mind a pliability which adapts itself to
circumstances and makes the most of them.
Nor can the benevolence of God be justly called into question because
there is suffering and sorrow in the world. If man sins against the
goodness of God, if he despises “the riches of His goodness and
forbearance and longsuffering,” and after the hardness and impenitency of
his heart treasurest up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath
(

Romans 2:5,5), who is to blame but himself? Would God be “good” if
He punished not those who ill-use His blessings, abuse His benevolence,
and trample His mercies beneath their feet? It will be no reflection upon
God’s goodness, but rather the brightest exemplification of it, when He
shall rid the earth of those who have broken His laws, defied His authority,
mocked His messengers, scorned His Son, and persecuted those for whom
He died.
The goodness of God appeared most illustriously when He sent forth His
Son
“made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were
under the law, that we might received the adoption of sons”
(

Galatians 4:4, 5).59
Then it was that a multitude of the heavenly host praised their Maker and
said,
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good-will toward
men” (

Luke 2:14).
Yes, in the Gospel the “grace (Gk. benevolence or goodness) of God that
bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (

Titus 2:11). Nor can
God’s benignity be called into question because He has not made every
sinful creature to be a subject of His redemptive grace. He did not the
fallen angels. Had God left all to perish it had been no reflection on His
goodness. To any who would challenge this statement we will remind him
of our Lord’s sovereign prerogative:
“Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own? Is thine
eye evil, because I am good?”(

Matthew 20:15).
“O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His
wonderful works to the children of men” (

Psalm 107:8).
Gratitude is the return justly required from the objects of His beneficence;
yet is it often withheld from our great Benefactor simply because His
goodness is so constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is
exercised toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because
we daily experience it. “Despisest thou the riches of His goodness?”
(

Romans 2:4). His goodness is “despised” when it is not improved as a
means to lead men to repentance, but, on the contrary, serves to harden
them from the supposition that God entirely overlooks their sin.
The goodness of God is the life of the believer’s trust. It is this excellency
in God which most appeals to our hearts. Because His goodness endureth
forever, we ought never to be discouraged:
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He
knoweth them that trust in Him” (

Nahum 1:7).
When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more
heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and
when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good,
we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We
must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the
Lord; whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain,
that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is
always the same. (C. H. Spurgeon)..60
12. THE PATIENCE OF GOD
Far less has been written upon this than the other excellencies of the Divine
character. Not a few of those who have expatiated at length upon the
Divine attributes have passed over the patience of God without any
comment. It is not easy to suggest a reason for this, for surely the
longsuffering of God is as much one of the Divine perfections as His
wisdom, power, or holiness, and as much to be admired and revered by us.
True, the actual term will not be found in a concordance so frequently as
the others, but the glory of this grace itself shines forth on almost every
page of Scripture. Certain it is that we lose much if we do not frequently
meditate upon the patience of God and earnestly pray that our hearts and
ways may be more completely conformed thereto.
Most probably the principal reason why so many writers have failed to give
us anything, separately, upon the patience of God was because of the
difficulty of distinguishing this attribute from the Divine goodness and
mercy, particularly the latter. God’s longsuffering is mentioned in
conjunction with His grace and mercy again and again, as may be seen by
consulting

Exodus 34:6,

Numbers 14:18,

Psalm 86:15, etc.
That the patience of God is really a display of His mercy, in fact is one way
in which it is frequently manifested, cannot be gainsaid; but that they are
one and the same excellency, and are not to be separated, we cannot
concede. It may not be easy to discriminate between them, nevertheless,
Scripture fully warrants us, in predicating some things of the one which we
cannot of the other.
Stephen Charnock, the Puritan, defines God’s patience, in part, thus:
It is a part of the Divine goodness and mercy, yet differs from both.
God being the greatest goodness, hath the greatest mildness;
mildness is always the companion of true goodness, and the greater
the goodness, the greater the mildness. Who so holy as Christ, and
who so meek? God’s slowness to anger is a branch of His mercy:
“the Lord is full of compassion, slow to anger” (

Psalm 145:8).
It differs from mercy in the formal consideration of the subject:
mercy respects the creature as miserable, patience respects the
creature as criminal; mercy pities him in his misery, patience bears
with the sin which engendered the misery, and giving birth to more..61
Personally we would define the Divine patience as that power of control
which God exercises over Himself, causing Him to bear with the wicked
and forebear so long in punishing them. In

Nahum 1:3 we read, “The
Lord is slow to anger and great in power,” upon which Mr. Charnock said,
Men that are great in the world are quick in passion, and are not so
ready to forgive an injury, or bear with an offender, as one of a
meaner rank. It is a want of power over that man’s self that makes
him do unbecoming things upon a provocation. A prince that can
bridle his passions is a king over himself as well as over his
subjects. God is slow to anger because great in power. He has no
less power over Himself than over His creatures.
It is at the above point, we think, that God’s patience is most clearly
distinguished from His mercy. Though the creature is benefited thereby, the
patience of God chiefly respects Himself, a restraint placed upon His acts
by His will; whereas His mercy terminates wholly upon the creature. The
patience of God is that excellency which causes Him to sustain great
injuries without immediately avenging Himself. He has a power of patience
as well as a power of justice. Thus the Hebrew word for the Divine
longsuffering is rendered “slow to anger” in

Nehemiah 9:17,

Psalm
103:8, etc. Not that there are any passions in the Divine nature, but that
God’s wisdom and will is pleased to act with that stateliness and sobriety
which becometh His exalted majesty.
In support of our definition above let us point out that it was to this
excellency in the Divine character that Moses appealed, when Israel sinned
so grievously at Kadesh-Barnea, and there provoked Jehovah so sorely.
Unto His servant the Lord said, I will smite them with the pestilence and
disinherit them. Then it was that the typical mediator pleaded, “I beseech
Thee let the power of my Lord be great according as Thou hast spoken,
saying, The Lord is longsuffering,” etc. (

Numbers 14:17). Thus, His
longsuffering is His “power” of self-restraint.
Again, in

Romans 9:22 we read, “What if God, willing to show His
wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering
the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction…?” Were God to immediately
break these reprobate vessels into pieces, His power of self-control would
not so eminently appear; by bearing with their wickedness and forebearing
punishment so long, the power of His patience is gloriously demonstrated.
True, the wicked interpret His longsuffering quite differently—.62
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily,
therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil”
(

Ecclesiastes 8:11)
—but the anointed eye adores what they abuse.
“The God of patience” (

Romans 15:5) is one of the Divine titles. Deity
is thus denominated, first, because God is both the Author and Object of
the grace of patience in the saint. Secondly, because this is what He is in
Himself: patience is one of His perfections. Thirdly, as a pattern for us:
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of
mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering”
(

Colossians 3:12).
And again,
“Be ye therefore followers (emulators) of god, as dear children”
(

Ephesians 5:2).
When tempted to be disgusted at the dullness of another, or to be revenged
on one who has wronged you, call to remembrance God’s infinite patience
and longsuffering with yourself.
The patience of God is manifested in His dealings with sinners. How
strikingly was it displayed toward the antediluvians. When mankind was
universally degenerate, and all flesh had corrupted his way, God did not
destroy them till He had forewarned them. He “waited” (

1 Peter 3:20),
probably no less than one hundred and twenty years (

Genesis 6:3),
during which time Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (

2 Peter
2:5). So, later, when the Gentiles not only worshipped and served the
creature more than the Creator, but also committed the vilest abominations
contrary to even the dictates of nature (

Romans 1:19-26), and hereby
filled up the measure of their iniquity; yet, instead of drawing His sword for
the extermination of such rebels, God “suffered all nations to walk in their
own ways,” and gave them “rain from heaven and fruitful
seasons”(

Acts 14:16, 17).
Marvelously was God’s patience exercised and manifested toward Israel.
First, He “suffered their manners” for forty years in the wilderness
(

Acts 13:18). Later, when they had entered Canaan, but followed the
evil customs of the nations around them, and turned to idolatry; though.63
God chastened them sorely, He did not utterly destroy them, but in their
distress, raised up deliverers for them. When their iniquity was raised to
such a height that none but a God of infinite patience, could have borne
them, He, notwithstanding, spared them many years before He allowed
them to be carried down into Babylon. Finally, when their rebellion against
Him reached its climax by crucifying His Son. He waited forty years ere He
sent the Romans against them, and that only after they had judged
themselves “unworthy of eternal life” (

Acts 13:46).
How wondrous is God’s patience with the world today. On every side
people are sinning with a high hand. The Divine law is trampled under foot
and God Himself openly despised. It is truly amazing that He does not
instantly strike dead those who so brazenly defy Him. Why does He not
suddenly cut off the haughty, infidel and blatant blasphemer, as He did
Ananias and Sapphira? Why does He not cause the earth to open its mouth
and devour the persecutors of his people, so that, like Dathan and Abiram,
they shall go down alive into the Pit? And what of apostate Christendom,
where every possible form of sin is now tolerated and practiced under
cover of the holy name of Christ? Why does not the righteous wrath of
Heaven make an end of such abominations? Only one answer is possible:
because God bears with “much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to
destruction.”
And what of the writer and the reader? Let us review our own lives. It is
not long since we followed a multitude to do evil, had no concern for
God’s glory, and lived only to gratify self. How patiently He bore with our
vile conduct! And now that grace has snatched us as brands from the
burning, giving us a place in God’s family, and begotten us unto an eternal
inheritance in glory; how miserably we requite Him. How shallow our
gratitude, how tardy our obedience, how frequent our backslidings! One
reason why God suffers the flesh to remain in the believer is that He may
exhibit His “longsuffering to usward” (

2 Peter 3:9). Since this Divine
attribute is manifested only in this world, God takes advantage to display it
toward His own.
May our meditation upon this Divine excellency soften our hearts, make
our consciences tender, and may we learn in the school of holy experience
the “patience of saints,” namely, submission to the Divine will and
continuance in well doing. Let us earnestly seek grace to emulate this
Divine excellency..64
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is
perfect” (

Matthew 5:48):
in the immediate context Christ exhorts us to love our enemies, bless them
that curse us, do good to them that hate us. God bears long with the
wicked notwithstanding the multitude of their sin, and shall we desire to be
revenged because of a single injury?.65
13. THE GRACE OF GOD
Grace is a perfection of the Divine character which is exercised only
toward the elect. Neither in the Old Testament nor in the New is the grace
of God ever mentioned in connection with mankind generally, still less with
the lower orders of His creatures. In this it is distinguished from mercy, for
the mercy of God is “over all His works” (Psalm 145-9). Grace is the alone
source from which flows the goodwill, love, and salvation of God unto His
chosen people. This attribute of the Divine character was defined by
Abraham Booth in his helpful book, The Reign of Grace thus, “It is the
eternal and absolute free favor of God, manifested in the vouchsafement of
spiritual and eternal blessings to the guilty and the unworthy.”
Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in the
bestowment of blessings upon those who have no merit in them and for
which no compensation is demanded from them. Nay, more; it is the favor
of God shown to those who not only have no positive deserts of their own,
but who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving. It is completely
unmerited and unsought, and is altogether unattracted by anything in or
from or by the objects upon which it is bestowed. Grace can neither be
bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to
be grace. When a thing is said to be of grace we mean that the recipient has
no claim upon it, that it was in nowise due him. It comes to him as pure
charity, and, at first, unasked and undesired.
The fullest exposition of the amazing grace of God is to be found in the
Epistles of the apostle Paul. In his writings “grace” stands in direct
opposition to works and worthiness, all works and worthiness, of
whatever kind or degree. This is abundantly clear from

Romans 11:6,
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more
grace. If it be of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise work is no
more work.” Grace and works will no more unite than an acid and an
alkali.
“By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it
is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast”
(

Ephesians 2:8,9)..66
The absolute favor of God can no more consist with human merit than oil
and water will fuse into one: see also

Romans 4:4,5.
There are three principal characteristics of Divine grace.
First, it is eternal. Grace was planned before it was exercised,
purposed before it was imparted: “Who hath saved us, and called us
with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His
own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the
world began” (

2 Timothy 1:9).
Second, it is free, for none did ever purchase it: “Being justified freely
by His grace” (

Romans 3:24).
Third, it is sovereign, because God exercises it toward and bestows it
upon whom He pleases: “Even so might grace reign” (

Romans
5:21). If grace “reigns” then is it on the throne, and the occupant of the
throne is sovereign. Hence “the throne of grace” (

Hebrews 4:16).
Just because grace is unmerited favor, it must be exercised in a sovereign
manner. Therefore does the Lord declare, “I will be gracious to whom I
will be gracious” (

Exodus 33:19). Were God to show grace to all of
Adam’s descendants, men would at once conclude that He was righteously
compelled to take them to heaven as a meet compensation for allowing the
human race to fall into sin. But the great God is under no obligation to any
of His creatures, least of all to those who are rebels against Him.
Eternal life is a gift, therefore it can neither be earned by good works, nor
claimed as a right. Seeing that salvation is a “gift,” who has any right to tell
God on whom He ought to bestow it? It is not that the Giver ever refuses
this gift to any who seek it wholeheartedly, and according to the rules
which He has prescribed. No! He refuses none who come to Him empty-handed
and in the way of His appointing. But if out of a world of
impenitent and unbelieving, God is determined to exercise His sovereign
right by choosing a limited number to be saved, who is wronged? Is God
obliged to force His gift on those who value it not? Is God compelled to
save those who are determined to go their own way?
But nothing more riles the natural man and brings to the surface his innate
and inveterate enmity against God than to press upon him the eternality,
the freeness, and the absolute sovereignty of Divine grace. That God
should have formed His purpose from everlasting without in anywise.67
consulting the creature, is too abasing for the unbroken heart. That grace
cannot be earned or won by any efforts of man is too self-emptying for
self-righteousness. And that grace singles out whom it pleases to be its
favored objects, arouses hot protests from haughty rebels. The clay rises up
against the Potter and asks, “Why hast Thou made me thus?”A lawless
insurrectionist dares to call into question the justice of Divine sovereignty.
The distinguishing grace of God is seen in saving that people whom He has
sovereignly singled out to be His high favorites. By “distinguishing” we
mean that grace discriminates, makes differences” chooses some and
passes by others. It was distinguishing grace which selected Abraham from
the midst of his idolatrous neighbors and made him “the friend of God.” It
was distinguishing grace which saved “publicans and sinners,” but said of
the religious Pharisees, “Let them alone” (

Matthew 15:14). Nowhere
does the glory of God’s free and sovereign grace shine more conspicuously
than in the unworthiness and unlikeness of its objects. Beautifully was this
illustrated by James Hervey, (1751):
Where sin has abounded, says the proclamation from the court of
heaven, grace doth much more abound. Manasseh was a monster
of barbarity, for he caused his own children to pass through the fire,
and filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. Manasseh was an adept in
iniquity, for he not only multiplied, and to an extravagant degree,
his own sacrilegious impieties, but he poisoned the principles and
perverted the manners of his subjects, making them do worse than
the most detestable of the heathen idolators: see 2 Chronicles 33.
Yet, through this superabundant grace he is humbled, he is
reformed, and becomes a child of forgiving love, an heir of
immortal glory.
Behold that bitter and bloody persecutor, Saul; when, breathing out
threatenings and bent upon slaughter, he worried the lambs and put
to death the disciples of Jesus. The havoc he had committed, the
inoffensive families he had already ruined, were not sufficient to
assuage his vengeful spirit. They were only a taste, which, instead
of glutting the bloodhound, made him more closely pursue the
track, and more eagerly pant for destruction. He still has a thirst for
violence and murder. So eager and insatiable is his thirst, that be
even breathes out threatening and slaughter (

Acts 9:1). His
words are spears and arrows, and his tongue a sharp sword. ‘Tis as.68
natural for him to menace the Christians as to breathe the air. Nay,
they bled every hour in the purposes of his rancorous heart. It is
only owing to want of power that every syllable he utters, every
breath he draws, does not deal out deaths, and cause some of the
innocent disciples to fall. Who, upon the principles of human
judgment, would not nave pronounced him a vessel of wrath,
destined to unavoidable damnation? Nay, would not have been
ready to conclude that, if there were heavier chains and a deeper
dungeon in the world of woe, they must surely be reserved for such
an implacable enemy of true godliness? Yet, admire and adore the
inexhaustible treasures of grace—this Saul is admitted into the
goodly fellowship of the prophets, is numbered with the noble arm
of martyrs and makes a distinguished figure among the glorious
company of the apostles.
The Corinthians were flagitious even to a proverb. Some of them
wallowing in such abominable vices, and habituated themselves to
such outrageous acts of injustice, as were a reproach to human
nature. Yet, even these sons of violence and slaves of sensuality
were washed, sanctified, justified (

1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
“Washed,” in the precious blood of a dying Redeemer; “sanctified,”
by the powerful operations of the blessed Spirit; “justified,” through
the infinitely tender mercies of a gracious God. Those who were
once the burden of the earth, are now the joy of heaven, the delight
of angels.
Now the grace of God is manifested in and by and through the Lord Jesus
Christ.
“The law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus
Christ” (

John 1:17).
This does not mean that God never exercised grace toward any before His
Son became incarnate—

Genesis 6:8,

Exodus 33:19, etc., clearly
show otherwise. But grace and truth were fully revealed and perfectly
exemplified when the Redeemer came to this earth, and died for His people
upon the cross. It is through Christ the Mediator alone that the grace of
God flows to His elect..69
“Much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by
one man, Jesus Christ. . .much more they which receive abundance
of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one,
Jesus Christ… so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto
eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord” (

Romans 5:15, 17,21).
The grace of God is proclaimed in the Gospel (

Acts 20:24), which is
to the self-righteous Jew a “stumbling block,” and to the conceited and
philosophizing Greek “foolishness.” And why so? Because there is nothing
whatever in it that is adapted to gratify the pride of man. It announces that
unless we are saved by grace, we cannot be saved at all. It declares that
apart from Christ, the unspeakable Gift of God’s grace, the state of every
man is desperate, irremediable, hopeless. The Gospel addresses men as
guilty, condemned, perishing criminals. It declares that the chastest
moralist is in the same terrible plight as is the most voluptuous profligate;
that the zealous professor, with all his religious performances, is no better
off than the most profane infidel.
The Gospel contemplates every descendant of Adam as a fallen, polluted,
hell-deserving and helpless sinner. The grace which the Gospel publishes is
his only hope. All stand before God convicted as transgressors of His holy
law, as guilty and condemned criminals; awaiting not sentence, but the
execution of sentence already passed on them (

John 3:18;

Romans
3:19). To complain against the partiality of grace is suicidal. If the sinner
insists upon bare justice, then the Lake of Fire must be his eternal portion.
His only hope lies in bowing to the sentence which Divine justice has
passed upon him, owning the absolute righteousness of it, casting himself
on the mercy of God, and stretching forth empty hands to avail himself of
the grace of God now made known to him in the Gospel.
The third Person in the Godhead is the Communicator of grace, therefore
is He denominated “the Spirit of grace” (

Zechariah 12:10). God the
Father is the Fountain of all grace, for He purposed in Himself the
everlasting covenant of redemption. God the Son is the only Channel of
grace. The Gospel is the Publisher of grace. The Spirit is the Bestower. He
is the One who applies the Gospel in saving power to the soul: quickening
the elect while spiritually dead, conquering their rebellious wills, melting
their hard hearts, opening their blind eyes, cleansing them from the leprosy
of sin. Thus we may say with the late G. S. Bishop,.70
Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift
the axe of justice, so corrupt that they cannot change their own
natures, so averse to God that they cannot turn to Him, so blind
that they cannot see Him, so deaf that they cannot hear Him, and so
dead that He Himself must open their graves and lift them into
resurrection..71
14. THE MERCY OF GOD
“O give thanks unto the Lord: for He is good, for His mercy
endureth forever” (

Psalm 136:1).
For this perfection of the Divine character God is greatly to be praised.
Three times over in as many verses does the Psalmist here call upon the
saints to give thanks unto the Lord for this adorable attribute. And surely
this is the least that can be asked for from those who have been such
bounteous gainers by it. When we contemplate the characteristics of this
Divine excellency, we cannot do otherwise than bless God for it. His mercy
is “great” (

1 Kings 3:6), “plenteous” (

Psalm 86:5), “tender”
(

Luke 1:78), “abundant” (

1 Peter 1:3); it is “from everlasting to
everlasting upon them that fear Him” (

Psalm 103:17). Well may we
say with the Psalmist, “I will sing aloud of Thy mercy” (

Psalm 59:16).
“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 show mercy on whom I will show mercy”
(

Exodus 33:19).
Wherein differs the “mercy of God from His grace”? The mercy of God has
its spring in the Divine goodness. The first issue of God’s goodness is His
benignity or bounty, by which He gives liberally to His creatures as
creatures; thus has He given being and life to all things. The second issue
of God’s goodness is His mercy, which denotes the ready inclination of
God to relieve the misery of fallen creatures. Thus, “mercy” presupposes
sin.
Though it may not be easy at the first consideration to perceive a real
difference between the grace and the mercy of God, it helps us thereto if
we carefully ponder His dealings with the unfallen angels. He has never
exercised mercy toward them, for they have never stood in any need
thereof, not having sinned or come beneath the effects of the curse. Yet,
they certainly are the objects of God’s free and sovereign grace. First,
because of His election of them from out of the whole angelic race (

1
Timothy 5:21). Second, and in consequence of their election, because of
His preservation of them from apostasy, when Satan rebelled and dragged
down with him one-third of the celestial hosts (

Revelation 12:4)..72
Third, in making Christ their Head (

Colossians 2:10;

1 Peter 3:22),
whereby they are eternally secured in the holy condition in which they were
created. Fourth, because of the exalted position which has been assigned
them: to live in God’s immediate presence (

Daniel 7:10), to serve Him
constantly in His heavenly temple, to receive honorable commissions from
Him (

Hebrews 1:14). This is abundant grace toward them but “mercy”
it is not.
In endeavoring to study the mercy of God as it is set forth in Scripture, a
threefold distinction needs to be made, if the Word of Truth is to be
“rightly divided” thereon.
First, there is a general mercy of God, which is extended not only to
all men, believers and unbelievers alike, but also to the entire creation:
“His tender mercies are over all His works” (

Psalm 145:9): “He
giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (

Acts 17:25). God has
upon the brute creation in their needs, and supplies them with suitable
provision.
Second, there is a special mercy of God, which is exercised toward the
children of men, helping and succouring them, notwithstanding their
sins. To them also He communicates all the necessities of life:
“for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and
sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (

Matthew 5:45).
Third, there is a sovereign mercy which is reserved for the heirs of
salvation, which is communicated to them in a covenant way, through
the Mediator.
Following out a little further the difference between the second and third
distinctions pointed out above, it is important to note that the mercies
which God bestows on the wicked are solely of a temporal nature; that is
to say, they are confined strictly to this present life. There will be no mercy
extended to them beyond the grave:
“It is a people of no understanding: therefore He that made them
will not have mercy on them, and He that formed them will show
them no favor” (

Isaiah 27:11).
But at this point a difficulty may suggest itself to some of our readers,
namely, Does not Scripture affirm that “His mercy endureth forever”.73
(

Psalm 136:1)? Two things need to be pointed out in that connection.
God can never cease to be merciful, for this is a quality of the Divine
essence (

Psalm 116:5); but the exercise of His mercy is regulated by
His sovereign will. This must be so, for there is nothing outside Himself
which obliges Him to act; if there were, that “something” would be
supreme, and God would cease to be God.
It is pure sovereign grace which alone determines the exercise of Divine
mercy. God expressly affirms this fact in

Romans 9:15, “For He saith
to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” It is not the
wretchedness of the creature which causes Him to show mercy, for God is
not influenced by things outside of Himself as we are. If God were
influenced by the abject misery of leprous sinners, He would cleanse and
save all of them. But He does not. Why? Simply because it is not His
pleasure and purpose so to do. Still less is it the merits of the creature
which causes Him to bestow mercies upon them, for it is a contradiction in
terms to speak of meriting “mercy.”
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according
to His mercy He saved us” (

Titus 3:5)
—the one standing in direct antithesis from the other. Nor is it the merits
of Christ which moves God to bestow mercies on His elect: that would be
putting the effect for the cause. It is “through” or because of the tender
mercy of our God that Christ was sent here to His people (

Luke 1:78).
The merits of Christ make it possible for God to righteously bestow
spiritual mercies on His elect, justice having been fully satisfied by the
Surety! No, mercy arises solely from God’s imperial pleasure.
Again; though it be true, blessedly and gloriously true, that God’s mercy
“endureth forever,” yet we must observe carefully the objects to whom His
“mercy” is shown. Even the casting of the reprobate into the Lake of Fire
is an act of mercy. The punishment of the wicked is to be contemplated
from a threefold viewpoint. From God’s side, it is an act of justice,
vindicating His honor. The mercy of God is never shown to the prejudice
of His holiness and righteousness. From their side, it is an act of equity,
when they are made to suffer the due reward of their iniquities. But from
the standpoint of the redeemed, the punishment of the wicked is an act of
unspeakable mercy. How dreadful would it be if the present order of things
when the children of God are obliged to live in the midst of the children of
the Devil, should continue forever! Heaven would at once cease to be.74
heaven if the ears of the saints still heard the blasphemous and filthy
language of the reprobate. What a mercy that in the New Jerusalem
“there shall in nowise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither
worketh abomination” (

Revelation 21:27)!
Lest the reader might think that in the last paragraph we have been drawing
upon our imagination, let us appeal to Holy Scripture in support of what
has been said. In

Psalm 143:12 we find David praying, “And of Thy
mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I
am Thy servant.” Again; in

Psalm 136:15 we read that God
“overthrew Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea: for His mercy endureth
forever.” It was an act of vengeance upon Pharaoh and his hosts, but it was
an act of “mercy” unto the Israelites. Again, in

Revelation 19:1-3 we
read, “I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia;
Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for
true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore,
which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the
blood of His servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her
smoke rose up forever and ever.”
From what has just been before us, let us note how vain is the
presumptuous hope of the wicked, who, notwithstanding their continued
defiance of God, nevertheless count upon His being merciful to them. How
many there are who say, I do not believe that God will ever cast me into
Hell; He is too merciful. Such a hope is a viper, which if cherished in their
bosoms will sting them to death. God is a God of justice as well as mercy,
and He has expressly declared that He will “by no means clear the guilty”
(

Exodus 34:7). Yea, He has said,
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget
God” (

Psalm 9:17).
As well might men reason: I do not believe that if filth be allowed to
accumulate and sewerage become stagnant and people deprive themselves
of fresh air, that a merciful God will let them fall a prey to a deadly fever.
The fact is that those who neglect the laws of health are carried away by
disease, notwithstanding God’s mercy. Equally true is it that those who
neglect the laws of spiritual health shall forever suffer the Second Death.
Unspeakably solemn is it to see so many abusing this Divine perfection.
They continue to despise God’s authority, trample upon His laws continue.75
in sin, and yet presume upon His mercy. But God will not be unjust to
Himself. God shows mercy to the truly penitent, but not to the impenitent
(

Luke 13:3). To continue in sin and yet reckon upon Divine mercy
remitting punishment is diabolical. It is saying, “Let us do evil that good
may come,” and of all such it is written, whose “damnation is just”
(

Romans 3:8). Presumption shall most certainly be disappointed; read
carefully

Deuteronomy 29:18-20. Christ is the spiritual Mercy-seat,
and all who despise and reject His Lordship shall
“perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little”
(

Psalm 2:12).
But let our final thought be of God’s spiritual mercies unto His own
people. “Thy mercy is great unto the heavens” (

Psalm 57:10). The
riches thereof transcend our loftiest thought. “For as the heaven is high
above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him”
(

Psalm 103:11). None can measure it. The elect are designated
“vessels of mercy” (

Romans 9:23). It is mercy that quickened them
when they were dead in sins (

Ephesians 2:4,5). It is mercy that saves
them (

Titus 3:5). It is His abundant mercy which begat them unto an
eternal inheritance (

1 Peter 1:3). Time would fail us to tell of His
preserving, sustaining, pardoning, supplying mercy. Unto His own, God is
“the Father of mercies” (

2 Corinthians 1:3).
“When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view I’m lost,
In wonder, love, and praise.”.76
15. THE LOVE OF GOD
There are three things told us in Scripture concerning the nature of God.
First, “God is spirit” (

John 4:24). In the Greek there is no
indefinite article, and to say “God is a spirit” is most objectionable, for
it places Him in a class with others. God is “spirit” in the highest sense.
Because He is “spirit” He is incorporeal, having no visible substance.
Had God a tangible body, He would not be omnipresent, He would be
limited to one place; because He is spirit He fills heaven and earth.
Second, God is light (

1 John 1:5), which is the opposite of
“darkness.” In Scripture “darkness” stands for sin, evil, death; and
“light” for holiness, goodness, life. God is light, means that He is the
sum of all excellency.
Third, “God is love” (

1 John 4:8). It is not simply that God
“loves,” but that He is Love itself. Love is not merely one of His
attributes, but His very nature.
There are many today who talk about the love of God, who are total
strangers to the God of love. The Divine love is commonly regarded as a
species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence; it is
reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion. Now
the truth is that on this, as on everything else, our thoughts need to be
formed and regulated by what is revealed thereon in Holy Scripture. That
there is urgent need for this is apparent not only from the ignorance which
so generally prevails, but also from the low state of spirituality which is
now so sadly evident everywhere among professing Christians. How little
real love there is for God. One chief reason for this is because our hearts
are so little occupied with His wondrous love for His people. The better
we are acquainted with His love—its character, fullness, blessedness—the
more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him.
1. The love of God is uninfluenced. By this we mean, there was nothing
whatever in the objects of His love to call it into exercise, nothing in the
creature to attract or prompt it. The love which one creature has for
another is because of something in them; but the love of God is free,
spontaneous, uncaused. The only reason why God loves any is found in His
own sovereign will: “The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose.77
you because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the
fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved thee” (

Deuteronomy
7:7,8). God has loved His people from everlasting, and therefore nothing
of the creature can be the cause of what is found in God from eternity. He
loves from Himself: “according to His own purpose” (

2 Timothy 1:9).
“We love Him, because He first loved us” (

1 John 4:19). God did not
love us because we loved Him, but He loved us before we had a particle of
love for Him. Had God loved us in return for ours, then it would not be
spontaneous on His part; but because He loved us when we were loveless,
it is clear that His love was uninfluenced. It is highly important if God is to
be honored and the heart of His child established, that we should be quite
clear upon this precious truth. God’s love for me, and for each of “His
own,” was entirely unmoved by anything in them. What was there in me to
attract the heart of God? Absolutely nothing. But, to the contrary,
everything to repel Him, everything calculated to make Him loathe me—
sinful, depraved, a mass of corruption, with “no good thing” in me.
“What was there in me that could merit esteem,
Or give the Creator delight?
‘Twas even so, Father, I ever must sing,
Because it seemed good, in Thy sight.”
1. It is eternal. This of necessity. God Himself is eternal, and God is love;
therefore, as God Himself had no beginning, His love had none. Granted
that such a concept far transcends the grasp of our feeble minds,
nevertheless, where we cannot comprehend, we can bow in adoring
worship. How clear is the testimony of

Jeremiah 31:3,
“I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness
have I drawn thee.”
How blessed to know that the great and holy God loved His people before
heaven and earth were called into existence, that He had set His heart upon
them from all eternity. Clear proof is this that His love is spontaneous, for
He loved them endless ages before they had any being.
The same precious truth is set forth in

Ephesians 1:4,5,
“According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of
the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him.
In love having predestinated us.”.78
What praise should this evoke from each of His children! How
tranquilizing for the heart: since God’s love toward me had no beginning, it
can have no ending! Since it be true that “from everlasting to everlasting”
He is God, and since God is “love,” then it is equally true that “from
everlasting to everlasting” He loves His people.
2. It is sovereign. This also is self-evident. God Himself is sovereign, under
obligations to none, a law unto Himself, acting always according to His
own imperial pleasure. Since God be sovereign, and since He be love, it
necessarily follows that His love is sovereign. Because God is God, He
does as He pleases; because God is love, He loves whom He pleases. Such
is His own express affirmation: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated”
(

Romans 9:19). There was no more reason in Jacob why he should be
the object of Divine love, than there was in Esau. They both had the same
parents, and were born at the same time, being twins; yet God loved the
one and hated the other! Why? Because it pleased Him to do so.
The sovereignty of God’s love necessarily follows from the fact that it is
uninfluenced by anything in the creature. Thus, to affirm that the cause of
His love lies in God Himself, is only another way of saying, He loves whom
He pleases. For a moment, assume the opposite. Suppose God’s love were
regulated by anything else than His will, in such a case He would love by
rule, and loving by rule He would be under a law of love, and then so far
from being free, God would Himself be ruled by law. “In love having
predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself,
according to”—what? Some excellency which He foresaw in them? No;
what then?
“According to the good pleasure of His will” (

Ephesians 1:4,5).
1. It is infinite. Everything about God is infinite. His essence fills heaven
and earth. His wisdom is illimitable, for He knows everything of the past,
present and future. His power is unbounded, for there is nothing too hard
for Him. So His love is without limit. There is a depth to it which none can
fathom; there is a height to it which none can scale; there is a length and
breadth to it which defies measurement, by any creature-standard.
Beautifully is this intimated in

Ephesians 2:4: But God, who is rich in
mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us: the word “great” there is
parallel with the “God so loved” of

John 3:16. It tells us that the love
of God is so transcendent it cannot be estimated..79
No tongue can fully express the infinitude of God’s love, or any
mind comprehend it: it “passeth knowledge”

Ephesians 3:19).
The most extensive ideas that a finite mind can frame about Divine
love, are infinitely below its true nature. The heaven is not so far
above the earth as the goodness of God is beyond the most raised
conceptions which we are able to form of it. It is an ocean which
swells higher than all the mountains of opposition in such as are the
objects of it. It is a fountain from which flows all necessary good to
all those who are interested in it (John Brine, 1743).
2. It is immutable. As with God Himself there is “no variableness, neither
shadow of turning” (

James 1:17), so His love knows neither change or
diminution. The worm Jacob supplies a forceful example of this: “Jacob
have I loved,” declared Jehovah, and despite all his unbelief and
waywardness, He never ceased to love him.

John 13:1 furnishes
another beautiful illustration. That very night one of the apostles would
say, “Show us the Father”; another would deny Him with cursings; all of
them would be scandalized by and forsake Him. Nevertheless “having
loved His own which were in the world, He love them unto the end.” The
Divine love is subject to no vicissitudes. Divine love is “strong as death …
many waters cannot quench it” (

Song of Solomon 8:6,7). Nothing can
separate from it:

Romans 8:35-39.
“His love no end nor measure knows,
No change can turn its course,
Eternally the same it flows
From one eternal source.”
2. It is holy. God’s love is not regulated by caprice passion, or sentiment,
but by principle. Just as His grace reigns not at the expense of it, but
“through righteousness” (

Romans 5:21), so His love never conflicts
with His holiness. “God is light” (

1 John 1:5) is mentioned before
“God is love” (

1 John 4:8). God’s love is no mere amiable weakness,
or effeminate softness. Scripture declares,
“whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son
whom He receiveth” (

Hebrews 12:6).
God will not wink at sin, even in His own people. His love is pure,
unmixed with any maudlin sentimentality..80
3. It is gracious. The love and favor of God are inseparable. This is clearly
brought out in

Romans 8:32-39. What that love is from which there
can be no “separation,” is easily perceived from the design and scope of the
immediate context: it is that goodwill and grace of God which determined
Him to give His Son for sinners. That love was the impulsive power of
Christ’s incarnation: “God so loved the world that He gave His only
begotten Son” (

John 3:16). Christ died not in order to make God love
us, but because He did love His people, Calvary is the supreme
demonstration of Divine love. Whenever you are tempted to doubt the love
of God, Christian reader, go back to Calvary.
Here then is abundant cause for trust and patience under Divine affliction.
Christ was beloved of the Father, yet He was not exempted from poverty,
disgrace, and persecution. He hungered and thirsted. Thus, it was not
incompatible with God’s love for Christ when He permitted men to spit
upon and smite Him. Then let no Christian call into question God’s love
when he is brought under painful afflictions and trials. God did not enrich
Christ on earth with temporal prosperity, for “He had not where to lay His
head.” But He did give Him the Spirit “without measure” (

John 3:34).
Learn then that spiritual blessings are the principal gifts of Divine love.
How blessed to know that when the world hates us ,God loves us!.81
16. THE WRATH OF GOD
It is sad to find so many professing Christians who appear to regard the
wrath of God as something for which they need to make an apology, or at
least they wish there were no such thing. While some would not go so far
as to openly admit that they consider it a blemish on the Divine character,
yet they are far from regarding it with delight, they like not to think about
it, and they rarely hear it mentioned without a secret resentment rising up
in their hearts against it. Even with those who are more sober in their
judgment, not a few seem to imagine that there is a severity about the
Divine wrath which is too terrifying to form a theme for profitable
contemplation. Others harbor the delusion that God’s wrath is not
consistent with His goodness, and so seek to banish it from their thoughts.
Yes, many there are who turn away from a vision of God’s wrath as
though they were called to look upon some blotch in the Divine character,
or some blot upon the Divine government. But what saith the Scriptures?
As we turn to them we find that God has made no attempt to conceal the
fact of His wrath. He is not ashamed to make it known that vengeance and
fury belong unto Him. His own challenge is, “See now that I, even I, am
He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I
heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand. For I lift up My
hand to heaven, and say, I live forever, If I whet My glittering sword, and
Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine
enemies, and will reward them that hate Me” (

Deuteronomy 32:39-
41). A study of the concordance will show that there are more references
in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love
and tenderness. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; And because He
hates all sin, His anger burns against the sinner:

Psalm 7:11.
Now the wrath of God is as much a Divine perfection as is His faithfulness,
power, or mercy. It must be so, for there is no blemish whatever, not the
slightest defect in the character of God; yet there would be if “wrath” were
absent from Him! Indifference to sin is a moral blemish, and he who hates
it not is a moral leper. How could He who is the Sum of all excellency look
with equal satisfaction upon virtue and vice, wisdom and folly? How could
He who is infinitely holy disregard sin and refuse to manifest His “severity”
(

Romans 9:12) toward it? How could He who delights only in that.82
which is pure and lovely, loathe and hate not that which is impure and vile?
The very nature of God makes Hell as real a necessity, as imperatively and
eternally requisite as Heaven is. Not only is there no imperfection in God,
but there is no perfection in Him that is less perfect than another.
The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is the
displeasure and indignation of Divine equity against evil. It is the holiness
of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of that just
sentence which He passes upon evil-doers. God is angry against sin
because it is a rebelling against His authority, a wrong done to His
inviolable sovereignty. Insurrectionists against God’s government shall be
made to know that God is the Lord. They shall be made to feel how great
that Majesty is which they despise, and how dreadful is that threatened
wrath which they so little regarded. Not that God’s anger is a malignant
and malicious retaliation, inflicting injury for the sake of it, or in return for
injury received. No; while God will vindicate His dominion as the
Governor of the universe, He will not be vindictive.
That Divine wrath is one of the perfections of God is not only evident from
the considerations presented above, but is also clearly established by the
express declarations of His own Word. “For the wrath of God is revealed
from heaven” (

Romans 1:18). Robert Haldane comments on this verse
as follows:
It was revealed when the sentence of death was first pronounced, the earth
cursed, and man driven out of the earthly paradise; and afterwards by such
examples of punishment as those of the Deluge and the destruction of the
Cities of the Plain by fire from heaven; but especially by the reign of death
throughout the world. It was proclaimed in the curse of the law on every
transgression, and was intimated in the institution of sacrifice. In the 8
th
of
Romans, the apostle calls the attention of believers to the fact that the
whole creation has become subject to vanity, and groaneth and travaileth
together in pain. The same creation which declares that there is a God, and
publishes His glory, also proclaims that He is the Enemy of sin and the
Avenger of the crimes of men . . . But above all, the wrath of God was
revealed from heaven when the Son of God came down to manifest the
Divine character, and when that wrath was displayed in His sufferings and
death, in a manner more awful than by all the tokens God had before given
of His displeasure against sin. Besides this, the future and eternal
punishment of the wicked is now declared in terms more solemn and.83
explicit than formerly. Under the new dispensation there are two
revelations given from heaven, one of wrath, the other of grace.
Again; that the wrath of God is a Divine perfection is plainly demonstrated
by what we read of in

Psalm 95:11, “Unto whom I sware in My
wrath.” There are two occasions of God “swearing”: in making promises
(

Genesis 22:16), and in denouncing threatening (

Deuteronomy
1:34). In the former, He swares in mercy to His children; in the latter, He
swares to terrify the wicked. An oath is for solemn confirmation:

Hebrews 6:16. In

Genesis 22:16 God said, “By Myself have I
sworn.” In

Psalm 89:35 He declares, “Once have I sworn by My
holiness.” While in

Psalm 95:11 He affirmed, “I swear in My wrath.”
Thus the great Jehovah Himself appeals to His “wrath” as a perfection
equal to His “holiness”: He swares by the one as much as by the other!
Again; as in Christ “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”
(

Colossians 2:9), and as all the Divine perfections are illustriously
displayed by Him (

John 1:18), therefore do we read of “the wrath of
the Lamb” (

Revelation 6:16).
The wrath of God is a perfection of the Divine character upon which we
need to frequently meditate. First, that our hearts may be duly impressed by
God’s detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss
over its hideousness, to make excuses for it. But the more we study and
ponder God’s abhorrence of sin and His frightful vengeance upon it, the
more likely are we to realize its heinousness. Second, to beget a true fear in
our souls for God:
“Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with
reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire”
(

Hebrews 12:28,29).
We cannot serve Him “acceptably” unless there is due “reverence” for His
awful Majesty and “godly fear” of His righteous anger, and these are best
promoted by frequently calling to mind that “our God is a consuming fire.”
Third, to draw out our souls in fervent praise for having delivered us from
“the wrath to come” (

1 Thessalonians 1:10).
Our readiness or our reluctancy to meditate upon the wrath of God
becomes a sure test of how our hearts’ really stand affected toward Him. If
we do not truly rejoice in God, for what He is in Himself, and that because
of all the perfections which are eternally resident in Him, then how.84
dwelleth the love of God in us? Each of us needs to be most prayerfully on
his guard against devising an image of God in our thoughts which is
patterned after our own evil inclinations. Of old the Lord complained,
“Thou thoughtest that I was altogether as thyself”
(

Psalm 50:21),
If we rejoice not
“at the remembrance of His holiness” (

Psalm 97:12),
if we rejoice not to know that in a soon coming Day God will make a most
glorious display of His wrath, by taking vengeance on all who now oppose
Him, it is proof positive that our hearts are not in subjection to Him, that
we are yet in our sins, on the way to the everlasting burnings.
“Rejoice, O ye nations (Gentiles) His people, for He will avenge the
blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His
adversaries” (

Deuteronomy 32:43).
And again we read,
“I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying Alleluia;
Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our
God; For true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged
the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication,
and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand. And again
they said Alleluia.” (

Revelation 19:13).
Great will be the rejoicing of the saints in that day when the Lord shall
vindicate His majesty, exercise His awful dominion, magnify His justice,
and overthrow the proud rebels who have dared to defy Him.
“If thou Lord, shouldest mark (impute) iniquities, O Lord, who
shall stand?” (

Psalm 130:3).
Well may each of us ask this question, for it is written, “the ungodly shall
not stand in the judgment” (

Psalm 1:5). How sorely was Christ’s soul
exercised with thoughts of God’s marking the iniquities of His people
when they were upon Him! He was “amazed and very heavy” (

Mark
14:33). His awful agony, His bloody sweat, His strong cries and
supplications (

Hebrews 5:7), His reiterated prayers (“If it be possible,
let this cup pass from Me”), His last dreadful cry, (“My God, My God,.85
why hast Thou forsaken Me?”) all manifest what fearful apprehensions He
had of what it was for God to “mark iniquities.” Well may poor sinners cry
out, “Lord who shall stand” when the Son of God Himself so trembled
beneath the weight of His wrath? If thou, my reader, hast not “fled for
refuge” to Christ, the only Savior, “how wilt thou do in the swelling of the
Jordan?” (

Jeremiah 12:5)?
When I consider how the goodness of God is abused by the
greatest part of mankind, I cannot but be of his mind that said, The
greatest miracle in the world is God’s patience and bounty to an
ungrateful world. If a prince hath an enemy got into one of his
towns, he doth not send them in provision, but lays close siege to
the place, and doth what he can to starve them. But the great God,
that could wink all His enemies into destruction, bears with them,
and is at daily cost to maintain them. Well may He command us to
bless them that curse us, who Himself does good to the evil and
unthankful. But think not, sinners, that you shall escape thus; God’s
mill goes slow, but grinds small; the more admirable His patience
and bounty now is, the more dreadful and unsupportable will that
fury be which ariseth out of His abused goodness. Nothing
smoother than the sea, yet when stirred into a tempest, nothing
rageth more. Nothing so sweet as the patience and goodness of
God, and nothing so terrible as His wrath when it takes fire. (Wm
Gurnall, 1660).
Then flee, my reader, flee to Christ; “flee from the wrath to come”
(

Matthew 3:7) ere it be too late. Do not, we earnestly beseech you,
suppose that this message is intended for somebody else. It is to you! Do
not be contented by thinking you have already fled to Christ. Make
certain! Beg the Lord to search your heart and show you yourself.
A Word to Preachers. Brethren, do we in our oral ministry, preach on this
solemn subject as much as we ought? The Old Testament prophets
frequently told their hearers that their wicked lives provoked the Holy One
of Israel, and that they were treasuring up to themselves wrath against the
day of wrath. And conditions in the world are no better now than they
were then! Nothing is so calculated to arouse the careless and cause carnal
professors to search their hearts, as to enlarge upon the fact that “God is
angry with the wicked every day” (

Psalm 7:11). The forerunner of.86
Christ warned his hearers to “flee from the wrath to come” (

Matthew
3:7). The Savior bade His auditors
“Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath power to cast into Hell;
yea, I say unto you. Fear Him” (

Luke 12:5).
The apostle Paul said,
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men”
(

2 Corinthians 5:11).
Faithfulness demands that we speak as plainly about Hell as about Heaven..87
17. THE CONTEMPLATION OF GOD
In the previous chapters we have had in review some of the wondrous and
lovely perfections of the Divine character. From this most feeble and faulty
contemplation of His attributes, it should be evident to us all that God is,
First, an incomprehensible Being, and, lost in wonder at His infinite
greatness, we are constrained to adopt the words of Zophar,
“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the
Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven; what canst thou do?
deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is
longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.” (

Job 11:7-9).
When we turn our thoughts to God’s eternity, His immateriality, His
omnipresence, His almightiness, our minds are overwhelmed.
But the incomprehensibility of the Divine nature is not a reason why we
should desist from reverent inquiry and prayerful strivings to apprehend
what He has so graciously revealed of Himself in His Word. Because we
are unable to acquire perfect knowledge, it would be folly to say we will
therefore make no efforts to attain to any degree of it. It has been well said
that,
“Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole
soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued, investigation of the
great subject of the Deity. The most excellent study for expanding
the soul is the science of Christ and Him crucified and the
knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity.” (C. H.
Spurgeon).
Let us quote a little further from this prince of preachers:
The proper study of the Christian is the God-head. The highest
science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which
can engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature,
the person, the doings, and the existence of the great God which he
calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the
mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that
all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is
drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can comprehend and.88
grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go on our
way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to
this master science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its
depth, amid that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away
with the thought “I am but of yesterday and know nothing.”
(Sermon on

Malachi 3:6).
Yes, the incomprehensibility of the Divine nature should teach us humility,
caution and reverence. After all our searchings and meditations we have to
say with Job,
“Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of
Him!” (

26:14).
When Moses besought Jehovah for a sight of His glory, He answered him
“I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee” (

Exodus 33:19),
and, as another has said, “the name is the collection of His attributes.”
Rightly did the Puritan John Howe declare:
The notion therefore we can hence form of His glory, is only such as we
may have of a large volume by a brief synopsis, or of a spacious country by
a little landscape. He hath here given us a true report of Himself, but not a
full; such as will secure our apprehensions—being guided thereby—from
error, but not from ignorance. We can apply our minds to contemplate the
several perfections whereby the blessed God discovers to us His being, and
can in our thoughts attribute them all to Him, though we have still but low
and defective conceptions of each one. Yet so far as our apprehensions can
correspond to the discovery that He affords us of His several excellencies,
we have a present view of His glory.
As the difference is indeed great between the knowledge of God which His
saints have in this life and that which they shall have in Heaven, yet, as the
former should not be undervalued because it is imperfect, so the latter is
not to be magnified above its reality. True, the Scripture declares that we
shall see “face to face” and “know” even as we are known (

1
Corinthians 13:12), but to infer from this that we shall then know God as
fully as He knows us, is to be misled by the mere sound of words, and to
disregard that restriction of the same which the subject necessarily requires.
There is a vast difference between the saints being glorified and their being
made Divine. In their glorified state, Christians will still be finite creatures,
and therefore, never able to fully comprehend the infinite God..89
The saints in heaven will see God with the eye of the mind, for He
will be always invisible to the bodily eye; and will see Him more
clearly than they could see Him by reason and faith, and more
extensively than all His works and dispensations had hitherto
revealed Him; but their minds will not be so enlarged as to be
capable of contemplating at once, or in detail, the whole excellence
of His nature. To comprehend infinite perfection, they must become
infinite themselves. Even in Heaven, their knowledge will be partial,
but at the same time their happiness will be complete, because their
knowledge will be perfect in this sense, that it will be adequate to
the capacity of the subject, although it will not exhaust the fullness
of the object. We believe that it will be progressive, and that as
their views expand, their blessedness will increase; but it will never
reach a limit beyond which there is nothing to be discovered; and
when ages after ages have passed away, He will still be the
incomprehensible God. (John Dick, 1840).
Secondly, from a review of the perfections of God, it appears that He is an
all-sufficient Being. He is all-sufficient in Himself and to Himself. As the
First of beings, He could receive nothing from another, nor be limited by
the power of another. Being infinite, He is possessed of all possible
perfection. When the Triune God existed all alone, He was all to Himself.
His understanding, His love, His energies, found an adequate object in
Himself. Had He stood in need of anything external, He had not been
independent, and therefore would not have been God. He created all
things, and that “for Himself” (

Colossians 1:16), yet it was not in order
to supply a lack, but that He might communicate life and happiness to
angels and men, and admit them to the vision of His glory. True, He
demands the allegiance and services of His intelligent creatures, yet He
derives no benefit from their offices, all the advantage redounds to
themselves:

Job 22:2,3. He makes use of means and instruments to
accomplish His ends, yet not from a deficiency of power, but often times to
more strikingly display His power through the feebleness of the
instruments.
The all-sufficiency of God makes Him to be the Supreme Object which is
ever to be sought unto. True happiness consists only in the enjoyment of
God. His favor is life, and His loving kindness is better than life..90
“The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in
Him” (

Lamentations 3:24).
His love, His grace, His glory, are the chief objects of the saints’ desire and
the springs of their highest satisfaction.
“There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift
Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put
gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their
wine increased” (

Psalm 4:6,7).
Yea, the Christian, when in his right mind, is able to say,
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the
vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no
meat; the flock shall be cutoff from the fold, and there shall be no
herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God
of my salvation” (

Habakkuk 3:17,18).
Thirdly, from a review of the perfections of God, it appears that He is the
Supreme Sovereign of the universe. It has been rightly said:
No dominion is so absolute as that which is founded on creation.
He who might not have made any thing, had a right to make all
things according to His own pleasure. In the exercise of His
uncontrolled power, He has made some parts of the creation mere
inanimate matter, of grosser or more refined texture, and
distinguished by different qualities, but all inert and unconscious.
He has given organization to other parts, and made them
susceptible of growth and expansion, but still without life in the
proper sense of the term. To others He has given not only
organization, but conscious existence, organs of sense and self-motive
power. To these He has added in man the gift of reason, and
an immortal spirit, by which he is allied to a higher order of beings
who are placed in the superior regions. Over the world which He
has created, He sways the scepter of omnipotence. “I praised and
honored Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting
dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation: and
all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth
according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the
inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto
Him, What doeth Thou?”—

Daniel 4:34, 35. (John Dick)..91
A creature, considered as such, has no rights. He can demand nothing from
his Maker; and in whatever manner he may be treated, has no title to
complain. Yet, when thinking of the absolute dominion of God over all, we
ought never to lose sight of His moral perfections. God is just and good,
and ever does that which is right. Nevertheless, He exercises His
sovereignty according to His own imperial and righteous pleasure. He
assigns each creature his place as seemeth good in His own sight. He
orders the varied circumstances of each according to His own counsels. He
moulds each vessel according to His own uninfluenced determination. He
has mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardens. Wherever we
are, His eye is upon us. Whoever we are, our life and everything is held at
His disposal. To the Christian, He is a tender Father; to the rebellious
sinner He will yet be a consuming fire.
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God,
be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (

1 Timothy 1:17).

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