« PreviousContinue »
On the Being and Unity of God.-His Being must
be matter of Faith.-His Unity demonstrated, from Creation ;-from his wonderful Works, for the deliverance of his People ;~from the Judgments executed on the gods of the Heathen ;from the Accomplishment of Prophecy ;-from the Answer of Prayer ; - from his Faithfulnefs to his Church; - from the whole work of Redemption ; — from his Operation on the Heart.
“ The Sacred History," as one justly observes, “ is the history of God himself.” It is designed as a permanent testimony to his being. This is made known by the light of nature. But it is the will of God, that we should be persuaded of this doctrine, fundamental to all religion, not merely by reason, but by faith ; and that our faith, with respect to this doctrine, should have the same foundation that it has with respect to any other contained in his word. Therefore, it is also given as matter of revelation. Nor, in the volume of inspiration, is it merely taught as a doctrine. It is demonstrated as a fact. We leam it not from God's word only, but also from his works. How often, in this respect, does he appeal to the
works works of creation ? " The heavens declare the “ glory of God; and the firinament seweth his “ handiwork a." " Ask now the beasts, and they “ fhall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and " they shall tell thee : or speak to the earth, and “ it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea “ shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in “ all these, that the hand of the Lord hath wrought “ this? In whose hand is the foul of every living “ thing, and the breath of all mankind b." In the account given of the creation, we have an exhibition of the Creator himself; “ God created.” In the very first words of the sacred volume, the existence of God is contrasted with that of all other beings. He “ created in the beginning," that is, “ the beginning of the creature" or creationd. This declares that he existed before all things, and that he gave being, not only to all the creatures, but to time itself.
A similar appeal is frequently made to the works of providence. “ The Lord is known by the “ judgment which he executeth e." It is thus that he replies to those fools who say in their hearts, “ No God;" who, if they do not disbelieve the doctrine of his existence, wish that it were not true, and act as if assured that it were false, especially in persecuting his Church. God " scattereth the bones of him that encampeth “ against” her. He enables her to “ put thein " to shame, because God hath despised them f.” 1 A 2
When a 'Psal. xix. 1. b Job xii. 7.-10, c Gen. 1. a. d Mark xii, 19. e Pfal. ix. 26.
f Pral. liii. 1. s.
When he executes upon them the judgments. written in his book, men are made to say ; “ Ve“rily there is a reward for the righteous, verily “he is a God that judgeth in the earth 8.” They find it necessary to acknowledge, not only that “he is,” but that he is the “ rewarder of all them “ that diligently seek him h.” Of this, the hiftory of the church is one continued proof; as appears from the beautiful compend given of it in the chapter of which these words are a part. All that they did or suffered was “. by faith ;" and their success clearly shows, that their faith was not placed on a nonentity.
Next to the doctrine of the existence of God, none claims a more distinguished place than that of his unity. To deny the unity of the Supreme Being, is in effect to deny his existence: and this may be one reason why the heathen are called “ atheists in the world i.” Hence there is no doctrine, that God hath been at more pains to inculcate and confirm. He separated one nation from all the rest of the world, as a peculiar people, for the preservation of this important truth. He employed them in exhibiting it to others, and by means of them he confirmed it in the fight of the heathen. “ Ye are my witnesses, faith JEHOVAH, “ and my fervant whom I have chosen, that ye “ may know and believe me, and understand that “ I am he: before me there was no God formed, “ neither shall there be after me k.”
The & Plal. lviii. 11. b Heb. xi. 6. i Eph. ii. 12. k Ifa, xliii. 10.
· The Sacred History uniformly attests that there is but one God, and that this is JEHOVAH the God of Israel. The proof that JEHOVAH is God, and that this God is one, is indeed the same. In many passages of Scripture, these two are inseparably conjoined. But even where the unity of God is not expressly declared, the revelation of himself as JEHOVAH implies the doctrine of his absolute unity. This name itself excludes every idea of an equal. He will not give the glory of it to'another : for it denotes his independence and selfexistence, and therefore the unity of his essence. Hence, all those operations by which he manifests that he is JEHOVAH, equally declare him to be the One God.
The law, given to God's peculiar people, is a key to their history, and their history is a practical commentary on their law, and a continued proof of its divine origin. As several of the precepts of the moral law, and many.of the positive injunctions, teach or guard the doctrine of the unity; when God would commit this law to the church, he infolds it in an historical narrative, which throws the greatest light on this fundamental doctrine.
1. He would not have the sons of Jacob to consider him merely as their Father, who had “ made “ them, and established" them, as a people : for, like other nations, they might have believed this, however inconsistently, without acknowledging that he was the one true God. He therefore reA 3
veals veals himself as “ Jehovah, the creator of the "s ends of the earth !;" and addresses his pecu, liar people in this language : “ Thus faith Je“ HOVAH thy redeemer, and he that formed thee “ from the womb, I am Jehovah that maketh all " things, and stretcheth forth the heavens alone, " that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself m." He accordingly prefaces the volume of revelation with a particular account of the work of creation, which none but himself could give : and from this account, as well as from a great many other passages, it is most evident that this was wholly the work of One Being. The idolatry of the Gentiles confifted in worshipping the creatures instead of God. To prevent the imitation of this idolatry, and to illustrate its absurdity, he enumerates the various parts of creation, and shews that they were all the works of his hands. The most of the heathen nations worshipped the host of heaven, either expressly, or under the disguise of different proper names or peculiar fymbols. But, in the history of creation, the church is taught that the sun, moon, and stars were all the workinanship of her God. For he who “ created the “ heaven and the earth »," “ finished all the host “ of them.” On this subject, Bossuet has an observation, which merits our attention. “ It plea“ sed the great Artificer,”” he fays, " to create the “ light, even before he reduced it to the form he “ gave it in the sun and stars : because he meant “ to teach us, that those great and glorious lumi