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ON THE SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT OF THE SUPREME BEING.
.having, in the preceding essays, taken a brief survey of the evidences from which it may be safely deduced that Christianity is true, and that the Scriptures contain a divinely-authorized record of all its truths, let us now endeavour to make a diligent use of the written word of God, and let us examine the declarations which it contains respecting the fundamental articles of the Christian faith. What, it may be inquired in the first place, is the account given by the inspired writers, of the nature and attributes of the Supreme Being?
The comprehensive character of that account has already been pleaded as affording one evidence, among many, of the divine origin of the Sacred Volume. Certain it is, that the information respecting the Deity, which we derive from the harmonious works of nature, from the course of providence, and from that sense of his own existence and authority, which (however, in numberless instances, it may be depraved and perverted) he appears to have impressed universally on the minds of men, is in a marvellous manner augmented, and, for all present practical purposes,
UNITY OF GOD. 115
appears to be completed, in the records of revelation.
I. The first principle which it is desirable for us to notice, as unfolded and declared in Scripture, in relation to the present subject, is this: that God is One; that there is no other God but Jehovah; that, as he is infinitely superior in point of wisdom, authority, and power, to all other beings, so he is the only right object of spiritual adoration. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord:" Deut. vi, 4. "For though there be that are called Gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him:" I Cor. viii, 5, 6. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," was the fundamental principle, not only of the Jewish institution, but of the law of Christ: Matt. iv, 10. "Thus
saith the Lord, that created the heavens I am
the Lord, and there is none else They have
no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save ... .There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for 1 am God, and there is none else:" Is. xlv, 18—22.
II. This Supreme Being—this only proper object of worship and spiritual allegiance—is described in the Holy Scriptures, as eternal and unchangeable. "Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, ' I am thejirst, and I am the last:'" Isa. xliv, 6. "I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come: the Al
116 HI8 ETERNITY.
mighty." Rev. i, 8. "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world; even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God:" Ps. xc, 1, 2. "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end:" Ps. cii, 25— 27. With "the Father of lights, there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning:" James i, 17. This primary attribute of the Supreme Being is not only declared in these and other passages of Scripture, but is plainly expressed in that distinguishing name of God, which the Jews were accustomed to regard as too sacred to pronounce—Jehovah; for this title is derived from a verb signifying to be, and denotes the Eternal—him who ever has been, is, and ever shall be—him who exists simply, absolutely, and independently. "And God said unto Moses,' I Am That I Am, (in Hebrew, the verb from which the name Jehovah is derived,) thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you:'" Exod. iii, 14. Again—" And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him,' I Am Jehovah :'" Exod. vi, 2.
III. Jehovah, the Being who has alone existed from all eternity, is ever described in the Scriptures (in accordance with the unvarying dictates of true philosophy) as the First Cause of all other things— the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and whatsoever they contain. The Bible opens with the declaration, that "in the beginning, God created the HIS OMNIPOTENCE AND WISDOM, 117
heaven and the earth:" Gen. i, I. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of
them by the breath of his mouth for he spake
and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast:" Ps. xxxiii, 6—9. "God, that made the world, and all things therein," said the apostle Paul to the Athenians, "giveth to all life, and breath, and all things, and hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell
on all the face of the earth for in him we
live and move and have onr being:" Acts xvii, 24 —28. "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?" Isa. xl, 12. "I form the light
and create darkness I, the Lord, do all these
things:" Isa. xlv, 7. "Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him all his angels; praise ye him all his hosts; praise ye him sun and moon; praise him all ye stars of light. Praise him ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded, and they Were Created:" Ps. cxlviii, 1—5.
When the Lord had condescended to describe to his servant Job the wonders of the creation, Job answered, and said, "/ know that thou canst do every thing:" ch. xlii, 2. "Ah Lord God," exclaimed the prophet Jeremiah, "behold thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:" Jer. xxxii, 17. "The invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal
118 DISPLAYED IN CREATION AND
power and Godhead" Rom. i, 20. Thus is the doctrine of the omnipotence of God, derived by the sacred writers from the acknowledged fact that he was the Creator of all things; nor is it possible for us to conceive a greater degree of power than that which was displayed by the Eternal, when he gave to all his creatures their first existence; when he produced an incomprehensibly extensive universe—an universe consisting of organized substances, living creatures, rational, intelligent, beings—out of nothing. How often do the Scriptures testify that God alone was the Creator, not only of the earth, but of the heavens also, with all their starry host! When we examine these inspired declarations of unquestionable truth, in the light of modern astronomy— when we reflect on God as the sole author of innumerable worlds and systems—when we carry forward our ideas (as analogy affords us sound reasons for doing) to the infinite variety of substance, life, and being, which those worlds, those systems, probably contain, we may indeed with reverence acknowledge that he is, in the strictest sense of the terms, what Scripture declares him to be—Almighty. Nor can we fail to arrive at the same conclusion, when we examine nature with a microscopic eye, and dwell on the marvellous efficacy displayed by an ever acting Deity in the production of a muscle or a nerve—in the formation of an insect, a feather, or a leaf! But the works of nature, according to the doctrine of Scripture, as well as the conclusions of reason, afford evidences not only of the power, but also of the wisdom of God. "He hath made the earth by his power; he hath established the world by his wisdom; and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion:" Jer. x,