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His nattural perfections are,
(1.) His infinite understanding, whereby he knows himself, and all things possible, and beholds, all things past, present, and to come, at one all-comprehensive view. So that from everlasting to everlasting, his knowledge can neither increase nor diminish, nor his views of things suffer the least variation; being always absolutely complete, and consequently necessariJy always the same.
(2.) His almighty power, whereby he is able, with infinite ease, to do any thing that he pleases.
And his moral perfections are,
(1.) His infinite wisdom, whereby he is able, and is inclined to contrive and order all things, in all worlds, for the best ends, and after the best manner.
(2.) His perfect holiness, whereby he is inclined infinitely to love right, and hate wrong: or according to scripture-phrase, to love righteousness and hate iniquity.
(3.). His impartial justice, whereby be is unchangeably inclined to render to every one according to his deserts.
(4.) His infinite goodness, whereby he can find in his heart to bestow the greatest favours upon his creatures, if he pleases and is inclined to bestow all that is best, all things considered.
(5.) His truth and faithfulness, whereby he is inclined to fulfil all his will, according to his word: So that there is an everlasting harmony between his will, his word, and his performance.
And his being, and all his natural and moral perfections, and his glory and blessedness, which result from them, he has in himself, and of himself underived ; and is necessarily infinite, eternal, unchangeable, in all; and so absolutely independent, self-sufficient, and all-sufficient.
“ This is the God, whom we do love !
“ He is our all, for evermore." Now there are three ways by which the perfections of God are discovered to the children of men : By his works, by his word, and by his spirit. By the two first, we see him to be what he is; by the last we behold his infinite glory in being such: The two first produce a speculative knowledge; the last, a sense of moral beauty.
First. These perfections of God are discovered by his works, i. e. by his creating, preserving, and governing the world; and by his redeeming, sanctifying, and saving his people.
1. By his creating the world. He it is, who has stretched abroad the heavens as a curtain, and spread them out as a tent to dwell in ; who has created the sun, moon, and stars, and appointed them their courses ; who has hung the earth upon nothing; who has fixed the mountains, and bounded the seas, and formed every living creature. All the heavenly hosts he hath made, and created all the nations that dwell upon
the earth : and the birds of the air, and the beasts of the field, and the fishes of the sea, and every creeping thing, are the works of his hands : and the meanest of his works are full of unsearchable wonders, far surpassing our understanding. So that 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 power and Godhead: as St. Paul observes, in Rom. i. 20.
2. By his preserving the world. His eyes run to and fro throughout all the world, beholding every thing. His eyes are upon all his works ; so that even the sparrows are not forgotten by him, and the very hairs of our head are all numbered. And he holds all things in being; and the opening of his hand fills the desires of every living creature : even the whole family of heaven and earth live upon his goodness, and are maintained by his bounty. In a word, his infinite understanding sees all; his infinite power upholds all ; his infinite wisdom takes care of all, and his infinite goodness provides for all, and that every moment; so that the invisible things of God are discovered in preserving as well as in creating the world. And hence when the pious Psalmist meditates on the works of creation and preservation, he sees God in them and views his perfections, and is touched at heart with a sense of his glory; and is filled with high and exalted, and with admiring and adoring thoughts of God. So, Psalm xix. 1. The heavens declare the glory of the Lord,
And Psalm xcv. 1. O come, let us sing unto the Lord, &c.--But why ?--Verse 3. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. But how does this appear? Why, (ver, 4, 5.) In his hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is his also : The sea is his, and he made it; and his hands formed the dry land : Ver. 6. 0, therefore, come let us worship and bow down ; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. And again, in Psal. xcvi. 1. O sing unto the Lord a new song : sing unto the Lord all the earth. But why? Ver. 4. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised : He is to be feared above all gods. But wherein does this appear? Why, (ver. 5.) All the gods of the nations are idols; but the LORD made the heavens. And once more, in Psal. civ. 1, 2, &c. Bless the Lord, O my soul, But why? Thou art very great: thou art clothed with honour and majesty. But how does this appear? Why, Thou hast stretched out the heavens as a curtain. And ver. 5. And laid the foundations of the earth, that it cannot be removed for
And ver. 27. All wait upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. Ver. 28. That thou givest them, they gather: thou openest thy hand, they are filled with good. And throughout the whole Psalm he is meditating on the creation and preservation of the world ; and viewing the divine perfections therein discovered, and admiring the divine glory, and wondering and adoring; and finally concludes with, Bless the Lord, O my soul : Praise ye the Lord. But,
3. His perfections are still much more eminently displayed in that moral government which he maintains over the intelligent part of the creation ; especially his moral perfections. In the works of nature his natural perfections are to be seen ; but in his moral government of the world, he acts out his heart, and shows the temper of his mind. Indeed, all the perfections of God are to be seen in the work of creation, if we view angels and men, and consider what they were, as they came first ont of his hands, holy and pure. But still God's conduct towards them, under the character of their King and Governor, more evidently discovers the very temper of his heart. As the tree is known by the fruit, so God's moral perfections may be known by his moral government
of the world. The whole world was created for a stage, on which a variety of scenes were to be opened ; in and by all which, God designed to exhibit a most exact image of himself. For, as God loves himself infinitely for being what he is, so he takes infinite delight in acting forth and expressing all his heart. He loves to see his nature and image shine in all his works, and to behold the whole world filled with his glory : and he perfectly loves to have his conduct, the whole of it taken together, an exact resemblance of himself; and infinitely abhors, in his public conduct, in the least to counteract the temper of his heart; so as, by his public conduct, to seem to be what indeed he is not. So that in his moral government of the world, we may see his inward disposition, and discern the true nature of his moral perfections. And indeed all his perfections are herein discovered ; particularly,
(1.) His infinite understanding. High on his throne in heaven he sits, and all his vast dominions lie open to his view. His all-seeing eye views all his courts above, and sees under the whole heavens, looks through the earth, and pierces all the dark caverns of hell ; so that his acquaintance with all worlds and all things is absolutely perfect and complete. He can behold all the solemn worship of heaven, and the inmost thoughts of all that great assembly : he can behold all the sin, misery, and confusion that overspread the whole earth, and the inmost temper of every mortal; and look through hell, and see all the rebellion, and blasphemy, and cunning devices of those infernal fiends; and all this at one all-comprehending view. And thus, as high Governor of the whole world, he continually beholds all things; whereby a foundation is laid for the exercise of all his other perfections in his government over all. See the omniscience of God elegantly described in Psalm cxxxix. 1-12.' And being perfectly acquainted with himself, as well as with all his creatures, he cannot but see what conduct from him towards them, will, all things considered, be most right, and fit, and amiable, and most becoming such an one as he is; and also what conduct from them to him is his due, and their duty. By his infinite understanding, he is perfectly acquainted with right and wrong-with what is fit, and what unfit. And, by the
moral rectitude of his nature, he infinitely loves the one and hates the other, and is disposed to conduct accordingly;--of which more presently. Psalm cxlvii. 1. Praise ye the Lord, for it is good to sing pruises unto our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is comely. But why? Ver. 5. Great is our Lord, and of great power ; HIS UNDERSTANDING IS INFINITE. But wherein does that appear? Why, (4.) He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Now, if the infinite understanding of God may be seen in this one particular, much more is it in the regular ordering and disposing of all things, throughout the whole universe; and that, not only in the natural, but also in the moral world.
(2.) His infinite power is displayed in the government of the world. For he does according to his pleasure in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; so that none can stay his hand, or hinder the execution of his designs. Have rebellions broken out in any part of his dominions? he has manifestly had the rebels entirely in his hands. They have lain absolutely at his mercy; and he has dealt with them according to his sovereign pleasure ; and none has been able to make any resistance; nor has there been any to deliver them out of his hands. When rebellion broke out in heaven, he crushed the rebels in a moment. They fell beneath the weight of his hand; they felt bis power ; they despaired; they sunk to hell; and there he reserves them in chains ; nor can they stir from their dark abode, but by his special permission. And when rebellion broke out upon earth, the rebels were equally in his hands, and at his mercy, unable to make any resistance; although he was pleased, in his infinite wisdom, to take another method with them. But he has since discovered his power, in treading down his implacable enemies under foot, many a time. He destroyed the old world, burned Sodom, drowned Pharaoh and his hosts, and turned Nebuchadnezzar into a beast. If his enemies have exalted themselves, yet he has been above them-brought them down; and discovered to all the world that they are in his hands, and without strength, at his disposal. Or if he has suffered them to go on and prosper, and