THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
From Thomas Watson's "Body of Divinity"
The OMNIPRESENCE of God
God is infinite. All created beings are finite.
The Greek word for "infinite" signifies "without bounds or limits." God
is not confined to any place. He is infinite, and so is present
in all places at once. His center is everywhere. "In no place is God's Being
either confined or excluded," Augustine. "Behold, the heaven and heaven of
heavens cannot contain you." The Turks build their temples open at the top,
to show that God cannot be confined to them—but is in all places by his
presence. God's essence is not limited either to the regions above, or to
the terrestrial globe—but is everywhere. As philosophers say of the soul,
"the soul is in every part of the body," in the eye, heart, foot; so we may
say of God, his essence is everywhere; his circuit is in heaven, and in
earth, and sea, and he is in all places of his circuit at once. "This is to
be infinite." God, who bounds everything else, is himself without bounds. He
sets bounds to the sea, "Hitherto shall you come, and no further!" He sets
bounds to the angels; they, like the cherubim, move and stand at his
appointment, but he is infinite, without bounds. He who can span the
heavens, and weigh the earth in scales, must needs be infinite!
Vorstius maintains that God is in all places at once—but
not in regard of his essence; but by his virtue and influence: as the body
of the sun is in heaven, it only sends forth its beams and influences to the
earth; or as a king, who is in all places of his kingdom authoritatively,
by his power and authority—but he is personally on his throne.
God, who is infinite, is in all places at once, not only
by his influence—but by his essence; for, if his essence fills
all places, then he must needs be there in person. Jer 23:34. "Do not I fill
heaven and earth?"
But does not God say that heaven is his throne?
It is also said, that a humble heart is his throne. The
humble heart is his throne, in regard to his gracious presence; and
heaven is his throne, in regard to his glorious presence; and yet
neither of these thrones will hold him, for the heaven of heavens cannot
But if God is infinite in all places—he is in impure
places, and mingles with impurity.
Though God is in all places, in the heart of a sinner
by his inspection, and in hell by his justice—yet he does not
mingle with the impurity, or receive the least tincture of evil. "The divine
nature does not intermix with created matter, nor is contaminated by its
impurities," Augustine. No more than the sun shining on a dunghill is
defiled, or its beauty spotted; or than Christ going among sinners was
defiled, whose Godhead was a sufficient antidote against infection.
God must needs be infinite in all places at once, not
only in regard to the simplicity and purity of his nature—but in regard to
his power, which being so glorious, who can set bounds to him, or prescribe
him a circuit to walk in? It is as if the drop should limit the ocean, or a
candle set bounds to the sun.
Use one: If God is infinite, present in all places at
once, then it is certain he governs all things in his own person,
and needs no proxies or deputies to help him to carry on his government. He
is in all places in an instant, and manages all affairs both in the earth
and heaven. A king cannot be in all places of his kingdom in his own person,
therefore he is forced to govern by deputies and viceregents, and they often
pervert justice. But God, being infinite, needs no deputies, he is present
in all places, he sees all with his own eyes, and hears all with his own
ears; he is everywhere in his own person, therefore is fit to be the judge
of the world; he will do everyone right.
Use two: If God is infinite by his omnipresence, then see
the greatness and immenseness of the divine majesty! What a great
God do we serve! "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the glory, and the
majesty, and you are exalted as head above all." Well may the Scripture
display the greatness of his glory, who is infinite in all places. He
transcends our weak conceptions; how can our finite understanding comprehend
him who is infinite? He is infinitely above all our praises. "Blessed be
your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise." Oh what
a poor nothing is man, when we think of God's infiniteness! As the stars
disappear at the rising of the sun, oh, how does a man shrink into nothing,
when infinite majesty shines forth in its glory! "The nations are as
a drop in the bucket, or the small dust of the balance!" On what a little of
that drop are we individuals! The heathen thought they had sufficiently
praised Jupiter when they called him great Jupiter. Of what immense
majesty is God, who fills all places at once!
Use three: If God is infinite, filling heaven and earth,
see what a full portion the saints have. They have him who is infinite for
their portion! His fullness is an infinite fullness; and he is
infinitely sweet, as well as infinitely full. If a cup is filled with wine,
there is a sweet fullness—but still it is finite; but God is a sweet
fullness, and it is infinite. He is infinitely full of beauty and of love.
His riches are called unsearchable, because they are infinite, Eph
3:8. Stretch your thoughts as much as you can, there is that in God which
exceeds; it is an infinite fullness. He is said to do abundantly for us,
above all that we can ask. "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within
us," Ephesians 3:20. What can an ambitious person ask? He can ask crowns and
kingdoms, millions of worlds; but God can give more than we can ask,
nay, more than we can imagine, because he is infinite!
We can imagine—what if all the dust were turned to
silver—what if every flower were a ruby—what if every sand in the sea a
diamond; yet God can give more than we can imagine, because he is infinite.
Oh how rich are they who have the infinite God for their portion! Well
might David say, "Surely I have a delightful inheritance!" Psalm 16:6.
We may go with the bee from flower to flower—but we shall
never have full satisfaction until we come to the infinite God! Jacob said:
"I have enough!" In the Hebrew it is, "I have all!" because he had the
infinite God for his portion! Gen 33:11. God being an infinite fullness,
there is no fear of lack for any of the heirs of heaven. Though there are
millions of saints and angels, who have a share in God's riches—yet he has
enough for them all, because he is infinite! Though a thousand men behold
the sun—there is light enough for them all. Put ever so many buckets into
the sea—there is water enough to fill them. Though an innumerable company of
saints and angels are to be filled out of God's fullness—yet God, being
infinite, has enough to satisfy them. God has land enough to give to all his
heirs. There can be no lack, in that which is infinite.
Use four: If God is infinite, he fills all places, and is
everywhere present. This is dreadful to the wicked. God is their
enemy, and they cannot escape him, nor flee from him, for he is everywhere
present! They are never out of his eye, nor out of his reach. "Your hand
shall find out all your enemies." What caves or thickets can men hide
in—that God cannot find them? Go where they will, he is present. "Where
shall I flee from your presence?" If a man owes a debt to another he may
make his escape, and flee into another land, where the creditor cannot find
him. "But where shall I flee from your presence?" God is infinite, he
is in all places; so that he will find out his enemies and punish them!
But is it not said that "Cain went out from the
presence of the Lord?" Gen 4:16.
The meaning is, he went out from the church of God, where
the visible signs of God's presence were, and where God in a special manner
manifested his sweet presence to his people; but Cain could not go out of
God's sight; for God being infinite is everywhere present. Sinners can
escape from neither an accusing conscience, nor from a revenging God!
Use five: If God is everywhere present, then for a
Christian to walk with God is not impossible. God is not only in
heaven—but he is in earth too. Heaven is his throne, there he sits; the
earth is his footstool, there he stands. He is everywhere present, therefore
we may come to walk with God. "Enoch walked with God." If God was confined
to heaven, a trembling soul might think, "How can I converse with God, how
can I walk with him who lives above the upper region?" But God is not
confined to heaven; he is omnipresent; he is above us—yet he is
about us, he is near to us. "He is not far from each one of us."
Acts 17:27. He is not far from the assembly of the saints, "God has taken
His place in the divine assembly," Psalm 82:1. He is present with us, God is
in everyone of us; so that here on earth we may walk with God.
In heaven the saints rest with him, on earth they
walk with him. To walk with God is to walk by faith. We are said to
"draw near to God," Heb 10:22, and to see him, Heb 11:27, "As seeing him who
is invisible," and to have fellowship with him. 1 John 1:3, "Our fellowship
is with the Father." Thus we may take a turn with him every day by faith. It
is slighting God not to walk with him. If a king was in our presence, it
would be slighting him to neglect him, and play with the pet. There is no
walk in the world so sweet as to walk with God. "They shall walk in the
light of your countenance." "Yes, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord."
It is like walking among beds of spices, which send forth a fragrant
Use six: If God is infinite in his glorious essence,
learn to admire—where you cannot fathom. The angels wear a veil,
they cover their faces, as adoring this infinite majesty. Isa 6:6. Elijah
wrapped himself in a mantle when God's glory passed by. Admire—where you
cannot fathom. "Can you by searching find out God?" Here on earth, we see
some beams of his glory, we see him in the looking-glass of the creation; we
see him in his picture—his image shines in the saints. But who can search
out all his essential glory? What angel can measure these pyramids? "Can you
by searching find out God?" He is infinite. We can no more search out his
infinite perfections, than a man upon the top of the highest mountain can
take a star in his hand! Oh, have God-admiring thoughts! Adore where you
There are many mysteries in nature which we cannot
fathom; why the sea should be higher than the earth—yet not drown it; why
the Nile should overflow in summer, when, by the course of nature, the
waters are lowest. "As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body
is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the
Maker of all things." Ecclesiastes 11:5. If these things perplex us, how may
the infinite mystery of the Deity transcend our most raised intellectuals!
Ask the geometrician, if he can, with a ruler, measure the heavens. Just
so—we are unable are we to measure the infinite perfections of God. In
heaven we shall see God clearly—but not fully, for he is
infinite. He will communicate himself to us, according to the capacity of
our vessel—but not the immenseness of his nature. Adore then where you
If God is infinite in all places, let us not limit him.
"They limited the Holy One of Israel." It is limiting God to confine him
within the narrow compass of our reason. Reason thinks God must go such
a way to work, or the business will never be effected. This is to limit God
to our reason; whereas he is infinite, and his ways are past finding out. In
the deliverance of the church, it is limiting God, either to set him a time,
or prescribe him a method for deliverance. God will deliver Zion—but he will
be left to his own liberty; he will not be tied to a place, to a time, or to
an instrument, which were to limit him, and then he should not be infinite.
God will go his own way, he will confound human reason, he will work by
improbabilities, he will save in such a way as we think would destroy. Now
he acts like himself, like an infinite wonder-working God. "Oh, the depth of
the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his
judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" Romans 11:33.
The KNOWLEDGE of God
"The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are
weighed." Glorious things are spoken of God; he transcends our thoughts, and
the praises of angels. God's glory lies chiefly in his attributes,
which are the several beams by which the divine nature shines forth.
Among other of his orient excellencies, this is not the least—"the Lord is a
God of knowledge;" or as the Hebrew word is, "A God of knowledges." He has a
full idea and cognisance of all things; the world is to him a transparent
body. He makes a heart-anatomy. "I am he who searches the thoughts and the
heart." The clouds are no canopy, the night is no curtain—to draw between us
and his sight. "Even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night
shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you."
There is not a word we whisper but God hears it.
"There is not a word in my tongue—but lo, O Lord, you know it altogether."
There is not the most subtle thought that comes into our mind—but God
perceives it. "I know their thoughts." Thoughts speak as loud in God's
ears—as words do in ours. All our actions, though ever so subtly
contrived, and secretly conducted, are visible to the eye of Omniscience. "I
know their works." Achan hid the Babylonish garment in the earth—but God
brought it to light. Minerva was drawn in such curious colors, and so lively
pencilled, that whichever way one turned, Minerva's eyes were upon him. Just
so, whichever way we turn ourselves, God's eye is upon us!
"Him who is perfect in knowledge." God knows
whatever is knowable; he knows future contingencies. He foretold Israel's
coming out of Babylon, and the virgin's conceiving. By this the Lord proves
the truth of his Godhead, against idol gods. "Tell us the coming events,
then we will know that you are gods." The perfection of God's knowledge is
primary. He is the original, the pattern, and prototype of all knowledge;
others borrow their knowledge of him; the angels light their lamps at this
God's knowledge is pure. It is not contaminated
with the object. Though God knows sin—yet it is to hate and punish it. No
evil can mix or incorporate with his knowledge, any more than the sun can be
defiled with the vapors which arise from the earth. God's knowledge is
facile; it is without any difficulty. We study and search for knowledge.
Prov 2:2. "If you seek for her as for silver." The lamp of God's
knowledge is so infinitely bright, that all things are intelligible to him.
God's knowledge is infallible; there is no mistake
in His knowledge. Human knowledge is subject to error. A physician may
mistake the treatment of a disease; but God's knowledge is unerring. He can
neither deceive, nor be deceived. He cannot deceive--because he is truth;
nor be deceived—because He has infinite wisdom.
God's knowledge is instantaneous. Our knowledge is
successive, one thing after another. We argue from the effect to the cause.
God knows things past, present, and to come—at once; they are all before him
in one entire prospect.
God's knowledge is retentive; he never loses any
of his knowledge; he remembers as well as understands. Many
things elapse out of our minds—but God's knowledge is eternalized. Things
transacted a thousand years ago, are as fresh to him as if they were done
but the last minute. Thus he is perfect in knowledge.
But is it not said, "I will go down and see if what they
have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. Then I will know."
It could not be that God was ignorant; because there is
mention made of a cry; but the Lord speaks there after the manner of a
judge, who will first examine the cause before he passes the sentence.
When he is upon a work of justice he is not in a hurry, as if he did not
care where he hits; but he goes straight against offenders. "He lays
judgement to the line, and righteousness to the plummet."
Hos 13:12, "The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up, his sin
is hid." ("The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record."
Not that his sin is hid from God—but his sin is hid; that
is—the sins of Ephraim have been collected and stored away for
punishment. That this is the meaning, is clear by the foregoing words,
his iniquity is collected. As the clerk of the court binds up the
indictments of malefactors in a bundle, and at the trial brings out the
indictments and reads them in court; so God binds up men's sins in a bundle,
and, at the day of judgment, this bundle shall be opened, and all their sins
brought to light before men and angels!
God is infinite in knowledge. He cannot but be so;
for he who gives being to things, must needs have a clear inspection of
them. "He who planted the ear, shall he not hear? He who formed the eye,
shall he not see?" He who makes a watch or engine, knows all the workmanship
in it. God, who made the heart, knows all its movements. He is full of eyes,
like Ezekiel's wheels, and, as Austin says, Totus oculus, "All eye."
It ought to be so; for he is the "Judge of all the world." There are so many
causes to be brought before him, and so many people to be tried, that he
must have a perfect knowledge, or he could not do justice. A human judge
cannot proceed without a jury, the jury must search the cause, and give in
the verdict; but God can judge without a jury. He knows all things in and of
himself, and needs no witnesses to inform him. A human judge judges only
matters of fact—but God judges the heart. He not only judges
wicked actions—but wicked designs. He sees the treason of the
heart, and punishes it.
Use one: Is God infinite in knowledge? Is he
light, and in him is there no darkness? Then how
unlike are they to God who are darkness, and in whom is no light, who are
destitute of knowledge, such as the heathen who never heard of God!
And are there not many among us, who are no better than baptized
heathen? who need to seek the first principles of the oracles of God. It
is sad, that after the sun of the gospel has shined so long in our
horizon, that the veil should still be upon their heart. Such as are
enveloped in ignorance cannot give God a reasonable service. Rom 12:2.
Ignorance is the nurse of impiety. The schoolmen say, "Every sin is
founded upon ignorance". Jer 9:3, "They proceed from one evil to another,
and they do not take Me into account." Where ignorance reigns in the
understanding, lust rages in the affections. Prov 19:2, "That the mind be
without knowledge, it is not good." Such have neither faith nor fear: no
faith; for knowledge carries the torch before faith. "Those who know your
name shall put their trust in you." A man can no more believe without
knowledge, than the eye can see without light. He can have no fear of God;
for how can they fear him whom they do not know? The covering of Haman's
face was a sad presage of death. When people's minds are covered with
ignorance, it is a covering of the face, which is a fatal forerunner of
destruction. "The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s
feeding-trough, but Israel does not know; My people do not understand."
Use two: If God is a God of infinite knowledge, then see
the folly of hypocrisy. "Hypocrites do not actually do
good, they merely make a show of it," Melanchthon. They carry it fair
with men—but care not how bad their hearts are; they live in secret sin.
"They say—How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?" Psalm 73:11.
"What does God know? Can He judge through thick darkness?" Job 22:13 "God
has forgotten, he hides his face, he will never see it." But, "His
understanding is infinite!" He has a window to look into men's hearts! He
has a key to open up the heart; he beholds all the sinful workings of men's
spirits, as in a glass bee-hive we can see the bees working in their combs.
Matt 6:6, "Your Father who sees in secret." God sees in secret. As a
merchant enters debts in his book, so God has his debt-book, in which he
enters every sin. Jeroboam's wife disguised herself, so that the prophet
would not know her; but he discerned her. "When Ahijah heard her footsteps
at the door, he called out—Come in, wife of Jeroboam! Why are you pretending
to be someone else? I have bad news for you!" 1 Kings 14:6. The hypocrite
thinks to disguise and juggle with God—but God will unmask him. "God shall
bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing." "For they have
done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their
neighbors' wives and in my name have spoken lies, which I did not tell them
to do. I know it and am a witness to it—declares the Lord." Jeremiah
Ay—but the hypocrite hopes he shall color over his sin,
and make it look very good. Absalom masks over his treason with the pretense
of a religious vow. Judas cloaks his envy at Christ, and his covetousness,
with the pretense of "charity to the poor." Jehu makes religion a cloak for
his selfish design. But God sees through these fig-leaves! You may see a
jade under his gilt trappings. "My eyes are on all their ways; they are not
hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes. Jeremiah 16:17.
He who has an eye to see—will find a hand to punish!
Use three: Is God so infinite in knowledge? Then we
should always feel as under his omniscient eye. "We ought to live
as if always in full view of God," Seneca. Let us place David's prospect
before our eye, "I have set the Lord always before me." Seneca counseled
Lucilius, that whatever he was doing, he should imagine some of the Roman
nobles stood before him, and then he would do nothing dishonorable. The
consideration of God's omniscience would be preventive of much sin. The eye
of man will restrain from sin; and will not God's eyes much
more? "Will he even assault the queen right here in the palace, before my
very eyes? the king roared." Esther 7:8. Will we sin when our Judge
looks on? Would men speak so vainly, if they considered God overheard them?
Latimer took heed to every word in his examination, when
he heard the pen go behind the hangings. Just so, what care would people
have of their words, if they remembered that God heard, and his pen was
writing everything down in heaven? Would people commit immorality, if they
believed God was a spectator of their wickedness, and would make them do
penance in hell for it? Would they defraud in their dealings, and use false
weights, if they knew God saw them, and for making their weights lighter
would make their damnation heavier?
Viewing ourselves as under the eye of God's omniscience,
would cause reverence in the worship of God. God sees the frame and demeanor
of our hearts, when we come before him. How would this call in our
straggling thoughts? How would it animate and invigorate duty? It would make
us put fire to the incense. We must worship God with the utmost zeal
and intenseness of spirit. To think that God is in this place would
add wings to prayer, and oil to the flame of our devotion!
Use four: Is God's knowledge infinite? Study sincerity,
be what you seem. "The Lord does not look at the things man looks
at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1
Samuel 16:7. Men judge the heart by the actions. God judges the actions by
the heart. If the heart is sincere, God will see the faith and bear
with the failing. Asa had his blemishes—but his heart was right with
God. God saw his sincerity, and pardoned his infirmity.
Sincerity in a Christian is like chastity in a wife, which excuses many
failings. Sincerity makes our duties acceptable, like musk among linen,
which perfumes it. As Jehu said to Jehonadab, "Is your heart right with me?
And he said, It is. If it is—give me your hand; and he took him up into the
chariot." Just so, if God sees that our heart is right, that we love him,
and aim at his glory—he says, "Give me your prayers and tears; now you shall
come up with me into the chariot of glory!" Sincerity makes our services to
be golden, and God will not cast away the gold, though it may lack some
weight. Is God omniscient, and his eye chiefly upon the heart? Wear the
belt of truth about you, and never leave it off.
Use five: Is God a God of infinite knowledge? Then there
is comfort, (1.) To the saints in particular. (2.) To the church
(1.) Comfort to SAINTS in particular. In case of
private devotion. Christian, you set hours apart for God, your thoughts run
upon him as your treasure; God takes notice of every good thought. "He had a
book of remembrance written for those who thought upon his name." You enter
into your closet, and pray to your Father in secret; he hears every sigh and
groan! "My groaning is not hidden from you." You water the seed of your
prayer with tears—God bottles every tear! "You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one
in your book!" Psalm 56:8. When the secrets of all hearts shall be opened,
God will make an honorable mention of the zeal and devotion of his people,
and he himself will be the herald of their praises. "Then shall every man
have praise of God."
The infiniteness of God's knowledge is a comfort, in the
case of saints who have not a clear knowledge of themselves. They find so
much corruption, that they judge they have no grace. "If it is so--why am I
thus? If I have grace, why is my heart in so dead and earthly a frame?" Oh
remember, God is of infinite knowledge—he can spy grace where you cannot; he
can see grace hidden under corruption, as the stars may be hidden behind a
cloud. God can see that holiness in you, which you can not discern in
yourself. He can spy the flower of grace in you, though overtopped
with weeds. "Because there is some good thing in him." God sees some good
thing in His people--when they can see no good in themselves; and though
they judge themselves harshly, He will forgive their sins and infirmities!
It is comfort in respect of personal injuries. It is the
saints' lot to suffer. The head being crowned with thorns, the
feet must not tread upon roses. If saints find a real purgatory, it is
in this life; but this is their comfort—that God sees the wrong which is
done to them; the pupil of his eye is touched, and is he not sensible of it?
Paul was scourged by cruel hands. "Thrice was I beaten with rods;" as if you
should see a slave whip the king's son! God beholds it. "I know their
sorrows." The wicked make wounds in the backs of the saints, and then pour
in vinegar; but God writes down their cruelty. Believers are a part of
Christ's mystical body; and for every drop of a saint's blood spilt—God puts
a drop of wrath in his vial!
(2.) Comfort to the CHURCH of God in general. If God
is a God of knowledge, he sees all the plots of the enemies against Zion,
and can make them abortive. The wicked are treacherous, having borrowed
their skill from the old serpent! They dig deep, to hide their counsels from
God—but he sees them, and can easily counterwork them. The dragon is
described with seven heads—to show how he plots against the church;
but God is described with seven eyes—to show that he sees all the
plots and stratagems of the enemies; and when they deal treacherously, he
can easily confound them. "Come," says Pharaoh, "let us deal wisely." But he
never more played the fool, than when he thought to deal wisely. "During the
last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire
and cloud at the Egyptian army, and threw it into confusion." Exodus 14:24.
How may this, like sap in the vine, comfort the church of God in her earthly
state! The Lord has an eye in all the councils and machinations of the
enemy; he sees them in their efforts, and can blow them up in their own
The ETERNITY of God
The next attribute is, "God is eternal." "From
everlasting to everlasting, you are God."
There are three kinds of beings:
1. Such beings as had a beginning—and shall have
an end. Such as all animate creatures—the animals, birds, fish—which
at death are destroyed and return to dust. Their being ends with their life.
2. Such beings as had a beginning—but shall have
no end. Such as angels and the souls of men, which are eternal once
they are brought into existence—they abide forever.
3. Such as is without beginning—and without
ending. This is proper only to God. He is from everlasting—to
everlasting. This is God's title, a jewel of his crown. He is called
"the King eternal." Jehovah is a word that properly sets forth God's
eternity. It is a word so dreadful, that the Jews trembled to name or read
it; and used Adonai, 'Lord,' in its place. Jehovah contains in
it time past, present, and to come. "I am the Alpha and the Omega—says the
Lord God—who is, and who was, and who is to come, the
Almighty." Revelation 1:8. This verse illustrates the word Jehovah; (who
is) he subsists of himself, having a pure and independent being; (who
was) God alone, was before time; there is no searching into the records
of eternity; (who is to come).
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever!" Psalm
45:6. The doubling of the word ratifies the certainty of it, as the doubling
of Pharaoh's dream. His kingdom has no end; his crown has no
I shall prove that God alone could be eternal—without
beginning. Angels could not be eternal; they are but creatures,
and though spirits—they were created. Therefore their beginning may be
known; their antiquity may be searched into. If you ask, when were they
created? Some think before the world was; but not so: for what was
before time was eternal. The first origin of angels reaches back no further,
than the beginning of the world. It is thought by the learned, that the
angels were made on the day on which the heavens were made. "When the
morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy."
Jerome, Gregory, and venerable Bede understand it, that when God laid the
foundation-stone of the world, the angels being then created, sang anthems
of joy and praise.
It is proper to God only to be eternal, without
beginning. He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. No creature can
write itself Alpha, that is only a flower of the crown of heaven.
Exod 3:14. "I am who I am," that is, "I am the one who always is. I am he
who exists from, and to eternity!" "The Lord will reign
forever and ever!" Exodus 15:18. "The Lord is King forever and ever!" Psalm
Use one: Here is thunder and lightning to the WICKED.
"Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven
golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever!"
Revelation 15:7. God is eternal, therefore the torments of the wicked are
eternal! God lives forever; and as long as God lives, he will be punishing
the damned! This should be as the handwriting upon the wall, which should
have this effect— "and his face turned pale with fear. Such terror gripped
him that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way beneath him."
Daniel 5:6. The sinner takes liberty to sin; he breaks God's laws, like a
wild beast that breaks over the hedge, and leaps into forbidden pasture; he
sins with greediness, as if he thought he could not sin fast enough. "They
don't care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves
over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and
greed." Ephesians 4:19. But remember, one of God's names is Eternal,
and as long as God is eternal he has time enough to reckon with all his
enemies. To make sinners tremble, let them think of these three things: the
torments of the damned are without intermission, without mixture, and
(1.) Without intermission. Their pains shall
be acute and sharp, and no relaxation; the fire shall not be slackened or
abated. "They have no rest day nor night;" like one who has his joints
stretched continually on the rack, and has no ease. The wrath of God is
compared to a stream of brimstone. Isa 30:33. Why to a stream?
Because a stream runs without intermission; so God's wrath runs like a
stream, and pours out without intermission. In the pains of this present
life, there is some abatement and intermission; the fever abates; after a
fit of the stone, the patient has some ease; but the pains of hell are
intense and violent. The damned soul never says, "I am now more at ease."
(2.) Without mixture. Hell is a place of pure
justice. In this life, God in anger remembers mercy, he mixes compassion
with suffering. Asher's shoe was of iron—but his foot was dipped in oil.
Affliction is the iron shoe—but mercy is mixed with it; the foot is dipped
in oil. But the torments of the damned have no mixture. "They shall drink of
the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture."
No mixture of mercy.
How is the cup of wrath said to be mixed? "For the
Lord holds a cup in his hand; it is full of foaming wine mixed with
spices. He pours the wine out in judgment, and all the wicked must drink it,
draining it to the dregs!" Psalm 75:8. Yet in the Revelation it is said to
be without mixture. It is mixed, that is, it is full of all the
ingredients that may make it bitter; the worm, the fire, the curse of God,
all these are bitter ingredients. It is a mixed cup—yet it is without
mixture; there shall be nothing to afford the least comfort, no mixture of
mercy, and so without mixture. In the sacrifice of jealousy, Numb
5:15, no oil was put to it; so, in the torments of the damned, there is no
oil of mercy to abate their sufferings.
(3.) Without cessation, eternal. The pleasures of
sin are but for a season—but the torments of the wicked are forever!
Sinners have a short feast—but a long reckoning! Origen erroneously thought,
that after a thousand years, the damned would be released out of their
misery; but the worm, the fire, the prison—are all eternal. "The smoke of
their torment rises forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or
night." Revelation 14:11. "The torments of hell keep on punishing, they
never end," Prosper. Eternity is a sea without bottom and banks.
After millions of years, there is not one minute in eternity spent; and the
damned must be ever burning—but never consumed, always dying—but never dead.
"They shall seek death—but shall not find it."
The fire of hell is such, as multitudes of tears will not
quench it; and length of time will not finish it! The vial of God's wrath
will be always dropping upon the sinner! As long as God is eternal, he lives
to be avenged upon the wicked. Oh eternity! eternity! who can fathom it?
Mariners have their plummets to measure the depths of the sea; but what line
or plummet shall we use to fathom the depth of eternity? The breath of the
Lord kindles the infernal lake, Isa 30:33; where shall we have buckets to
quench that fire?
Oh eternity! If all the body of the earth and sea were
turned to sand, and all the air up to the starry heaven were nothing but
sand, and a little bird should come every thousand years, and fetch
away in her bill but the tenth part of a grain of all that heap of sand;
what numberless years would be spent before that vast heap of sand would be
fetched away! Yet, if at the end of all that time, the sinner might come out
of hell, there would be some hope. But that word "Forever" breaks the
heart. "The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever." What a
terror is this to the wicked--enough to put them into a cold sweat, to
think, as long as God is eternal, he lives forever to be avenged upon them!
Here the question may be asked—Why
should sin that is committed in a short time, be punished eternally?
We must hold with Augustine, "that God's judgments on the
wicked, may be secret—but never unjust." The reason why sin
committed in a short time is eternally punished, is, because every sin is
committed against an infinite essence, which nothing less than eternity of
punishment can satisfy. Why is treason punished with death—but because it is
against the king's person, which is sacred; much more that offence which is
against God's crown and dignity is of a heinous and infinite nature, and
cannot be satisfied with less than eternal punishment.
Use two: Of comfort to the GODLY. God is
eternal, therefore he lives forever to reward the godly. "To those who seek
for glory and honor, eternal life." The people of God are now in a suffering
condition. "Bonds and afflictions await me." The wicked are clad in purple,
and fare deliciously, while the godly suffer. The goats climb upon
high mountains, while Christ's sheep are in the valley of slaughter.
But here is the comfort—God is eternal, and he has appointed eternal
recompenses for the saints. In heaven are fresh delights, and sweetness
without excess. That which is the crown and zenith of heaven's happiness,
is—that it is "eternal." Were there but the least suspicion that this glory
must cease, it would much eclipse, yes, embitter it; but it is eternal. "An
eternal weight of glory."
What angel can span eternity? The saints shall bathe
themselves in the rivers of divine pleasure; and these rivers can
never be dried up. "At your right hand are pleasures for evermore." This is
the highest strain in the apostle's rhetoric, "Forever with the Lord!" In
heaven, there is peace without trouble, ease without pain, glory without
end; "forever with the Lord!"
Let this comfort the saints in all their troubles; their
sufferings are but short—but their reward is eternal! Eternity makes heaven
to be heaven! Eternity is the diamond in the ring! Oh blessed day,
which shall have no night! The sunlight of glory shall rise
upon the soul, and never set! Oh blessed spring, that shall have no
autumn, or fall of the leaf. The Roman emperors have three crowns set upon
their heads—the first of iron, the second of silver, the third of gold; so
the Lord sets three crowns on his children—grace, comfort, and glory. The
saints' crown is eternal, "You shall receive a crown of glory which never
fades away!" The wicked have a never-dying worm; and the godly a
never-fading crown! Oh how should this be a spur to virtue! How willing
should we be to work for God! Though we have nothing here on earth, God has
time enough to reward his people. The crown of eternity shall be set upon
Use three: Of exhortation. Study
eternity. Our thoughts should chiefly run upon eternity. We all wish for
something that may delight our mind. If we could have lived, as Augustine
says, from the infancy of the world to the world's old age, what is
this—compared to eternity? What is time, measured with eternity? As the
earth is but a small point, compared to the heavens. Just so, time is
scarcely a moment—compared to eternity! And then, what is this poor life
which crumbles away so fast? Oh, think of eternity!
Brethren, we are every day traveling to eternity;
and whether we wake or sleep—we are going our journey. Some of us are upon
the borders of eternity. Oh study the shortness of life—and length of
More particularly think of God's eternity and the
soul's eternity. Think of God's eternity. He is the Ancient
of Days, who was before all time. There is a figurative description of
God, "As I kept watching, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of
Days took His seat. His clothing was white like snow, and the
hair of His head like whitest wool. His throne was flaming fire; its
wheels were blazing fire. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from His
presence. Thousands upon thousands served Him; ten thousand times ten
thousand stood before Him. The court was convened, and the books were
opened." Daniel 7:9-10. His clothing was white like snow, which signifies
his majesty. His hair, like the pure wool, signifies his holiness. His
title, the Ancient of Days, signifies his eternity.
The thought of God's eternity should make us have high
adoring thoughts of God. We are apt to have low, irreverent thoughts of him.
"You thought I was such an one as yourself," weak and mortal. But if we
would think of God's eternity, when all our power ceases—he is King eternal,
his crown flourishes forever, he can make us happy or miserable forever—this
would make us have adoring thoughts of God. "The twenty-four elders fall
down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for
ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne." Revelation 4:10.
The saints fall down, to signify by that humble posture, that they
are not worthy to sit in God's presence. They fall down and they worship him
who lives forever and ever; they do as it were, kiss his feet. They cast
their crowns before the throne, they lay all their honor at his feet; thus
they show humble adoration to the eternal essence. Study God's eternity, it
will make us adore him—where we cannot fathom him.
Think of the soul's eternity. As God is eternal,
so he has made us eternal. We are never-dying creatures; we are
shortly entering upon our eternal state—either of eternal happiness or
eternal misery. Have serious thoughts of this. Say, "O my soul, which of
these two eternities is like to be your portion? I must shortly depart
hence, and where then shall I go—to which of these eternities, either of
glory or misery shall I go?" The serious meditation on the eternal state we
are to pass into, would work strongly with us.
(1.) Thoughts of eternal torments, are a good antidote
against sin. Sin tempts with its pleasure; but when we think of
eternity, it may cool the intemperate heat of lust. Shall I, for the
pleasure of sin for a season—endure eternal pain? Sin, like those locusts,
Rev 9:7, seems to have on its head a crown like gold—but it has in it a tail
like a scorpion, verse 10, and a sting in its tail; and this sting can never
be plucked out. Shall I venture eternal wrath? Is sin committed so sweet—as
lying in hell forever is bitter? This thought would make us flee from sin,
as Moses fled from the serpent!
(2.) The serious thoughts of eternal happiness would very
much take us off from worldly things. What are these sublunary
things, compared to eternity! They are quickly gone. They greet us—and then
take their farewell. But I am to enter upon an everlasting estate; I
hope to live with him who is eternal. What then, is the present fleeting
world to me? To those who stand upon the top of the Alps—the great cities
below are small things in their eyes. Just so, to him who has his thoughts
fixed on his eternal state after this life—all these earthly things seem as
nothing in his eye. What is the glory of this world? How poor and
contemptible, compared with an eternal weight of glory!
(3.) The serious thoughts of an eternal state, either of
happiness or misery, should have a powerful influence upon whatever we take
in hand. Every work we do promotes either a blessed
eternity, or a cursed eternity. Every good action sets
us a step nearer to an eternity of happiness. Every bad action sets
us a step nearer to an eternity of misery. Oh what influence should the
thoughts of eternity have upon our pious duties! It should make us do them
with all our might. Duty well performed, lifts a Christian higher towards
heaven, and sets a Christian a step nearer to a blessed eternity!
The IMMUTABILITY of God
The next attribute is God's unchangeableness.
"I am the Lord, and I do not change." Malachi 3:6
God is unchangeable in his nature, and in his
I. God is unchangeable in his NATURE.
1. There is no eclipse of his brightness.
2. No end put to his being.
 There is no eclipse of his brightness. His
essence shines with a fixed luster. "Who does not change like
shifting shadows," James 1:17. "You remain the same, and your years will
never end," Psalm 102:27. All created things are full of
vicissitudes. Princes and emperors are subject to change. Sesostris, an
Egyptian prince, having subdued many kings in war, made them draw his
chariot, like horses, as if he intended them to eat grass, as God did King
Nebuchadnezzar. The crown has many successors. Kingdoms have their
eclipses and convulsions. What has become of the glory of Athens? The pomp
of Troy? [Now corn grows, where the great city of Troy once stood]. Though
kingdoms have a head of gold, they have feet of clay.
The heavens change. "They will perish, but you
remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change
them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years
will never end." Psalm 102:26-27. The heavens are the most ancient records,
where God has written his glory with a sunbeam—yet these shall change.
Though I do not think they shall be destroyed as to their substance—yet they
shall be changed as to their qualities; they shall melt with fervent heat,
and so be more refined and purified. 2 Peter 3:12. Thus the heavens shall be
changed—but not he who dwells in heaven. "I am the Lord, and I do
The best saints have their eclipses and changes.
Look upon a Christian in his spiritual estate, and he is full of variation.
Though the seed of grace does not die—yet its beauty and
activity often wither. A Christian has his aguish fits in
piety. Sometimes his faith is at a high tide—and sometimes low ebb;
sometimes his love flames—and at another time is like fire in the embers,
and he has lost his first love. How strong was David's grace at one time!
"God is my rock, in him will I trust." At another time he says, "I shall one
day perish by the hand of Saul." What Christian can say he does not find a
change in his graces; that the bow of his faith never unbends, the
strings of his violin never slacken? Surely we shall never meet with such
Christians until we meet them in heaven! But God is without any shadow of
The angels were subject to change; they were
created holy—but mutable. "The angels which kept not their first estate."
Jude 6. These morning stars of heaven were falling stars. But
God's glory shines with a fixed brightness. In God there is nothing which
can change, for better or worse. He cannot change for the better—because
then he would not now be perfect. He cannot change for the worse—for then he
would cease to be perfect. He is immutably holy, immutably good; there is no
shadow of change in him.
But when Christ, who is God, assumed the human nature—was
there a change in God?
If the divine nature had been converted into the human,
or the human into the divine, there would have been a change—but they were
not. The human nature was distinct from the divine nature. Therefore there
was no change. A cloud over the sun makes no change in the the sun. Just so,
though the divine nature is covered with the human nature, it makes no
change in the divine nature.
 There is no end put to his being. "Who
alone has immortality." The Godhead cannot die. An infinite essence cannot
be changed into finite; and God is infinite. He is eternal, consequently he
is not mortal. To be eternal and mortal is a contradiction.
Use one: See the excellence of the divine nature in its
immutability. This is the glory of the Godhead. Mutableness
denotes weakness, and is not in God, who is "the same,
yesterday, and today, and forever." Men are fickle and mutable, like
Reuben, "unstable as water." Men are changeable in their principles.
If their faces altered as fast as their opinions—we would not recognize
them. Men are changeable in their resolutions; just as the wind that
blows in the east, presently turns about to the west. They resolve to be
virtuous—but quickly give up of their resolutions. Their minds are like a
sick man's pulse, which alters every half hour. The apostle Jude compares
them to waves of the sea, and wandering stars. They are not
pillars in God's temple—but reeds shaken by the wind. Others are
changeable in their friendship. They quickly love—and quickly
hate. Sometimes they will press you to their bosom; later they will
excommunicate you out of their favor. They change as the chameleon, into
several colors. But God is immutable—he does not change.
Use two: See the vanity of the creature. There
are changes in everything, but in God. "Lowborn men are but a breath, the
highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together
they are only a breath." Psalm 62:9. We look for more from the creature,
than God has put in it. The creature has two evils in it—it promises more
than we find—and it fails us when we most need it. A man desires to have his
corn harvested—but the rain falls; the mariner is for a voyage—but the wind
does not blow, or is contrary; one depends upon another for the payment of a
promise, and he fails, and is like a foot out of joint. Who can find a fixed
stability in the vain creature? It is as if one should build houses on the
sand, where the sea comes in and overflows. The creature is true to nothing
but deceit—and is constant only in its disappointments. It is no more
astonishing to see changes in the creature, than to see the moon dressing
itself in a new shape and figure. Expect to meet with changes in everything,
Use three: Comfort to the godly.
(1.) In case of losses. If an estate, you are
almost boiled away to nothing, and if you lose friends by death—there is a
double eclipse. But the comfort is—God is unchangeable. I may lose these
things—but I cannot lose my God; he never dies. When the fig-tree and
olive-tree failed, God did not fail. "I will rejoice in the God of my
salvation." Flowers in the garden die—but a man's portion remains. Just so,
outward things die and change—but "you are the strength of my heart, and my
(2.) In case of sadness of spirit. God seems
to cast off the soul in desertion. "My Beloved had withdrawn himself." Yet,
God is unchangeable. He is immutable in his love; he may change his
countenance—but not his heart! "I have loved you with an
everlasting love." Jer 31:1. Hebrew—a love of eternity. If once
God's electing love rises upon the soul—it never sets. "Though the mountains
be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not
be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed—says the Lord, who has
compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10. God's love stands firmer than the
mountains. His love to Christ is unchangeable; and he will no more cease
loving believers, than he will cease loving Christ.
Use four: Of exhortation. Get a saving
interest in the unchangeable God, then you are as a rock in the
sea—immoveable in the midst of all changes.
How shall I get a part in the unchangeable God?
By having a change wrought in you. "But you are
washed—but you are sanctified." By this change we are savingly interested in
the unchangeable God.
Trust to that God, who alone who is unchangeable. "Cease
from man," stop trusting to the reed—but trust to the Rock of
ages. He who is by faith engarrisoned in God, is safe in all changes; he is
like a boat that is tied to an immoveable rock. He who trusts in God, trusts
in that which cannot fail him; for God is unchangeable. "I will never leave
you, nor forsake you." Health may leave us, riches, friends
may leave us; "but," says God, "I will never leave you; my power
shall support you; my Spirit shall sanctify you; my mercy
shall save you! I will never leave you!" Oh trust in this unchangeable God!
God is jealous of two things; of our love, and of
our trust. He is jealous of our love, lest we love the
creature more than him; therefore he makes it prove bitter. God is jealous
of our trust, lest we should place more confidence in the creature,
than in him, therefore he makes it prove unfaithful. Outward comforts are
given us as food along the way—to refresh us, not as crutches to lean on. If
we make the creature an idol, what we make our trust, God will make
our shame. Oh trust in the immortal God! Like Noah's dove, we have no
footing for our souls, until we get into the ark of God's
unchangeableness. "Those who trust in the Lord shall be like mount Zion,
which cannot be removed."
II. God is unchangeable in his DECREE. What he
has decreed from eternity is unalterable. "My purpose will stand, and I will
do all that I please." Isaiah 46:10. God's eternal counsel or decree, is
immutable. If he changed his decree, it must be from some defect of wisdom
or foresight, for that is the reason why men change their purposes; they see
something afterwards, which they did not see before. But this cannot be the
cause why God should alter his decree, because his knowledge is perfect—he
sees all things in one entire prospect before him.
But is not God said to repent? This seems to be a
change in his decree? "The Lord repented of the evil that he said he would
do unto them."
Repentance is attributed to God, figuratively. "He
is not a man, that he should repent." There may be a change in God's work—but
not in his will. He may will a change—but not change his will. "God
may change his sentence—but not his decree." A king may cause sentence to be
passed upon a malefactor whom he intends to save; so God threatened
destruction to Nineveh—but the people of Nineveh repenting, God spared them.
Here God changed his sentence—but not his decree; it was what had lain in
the womb of his purpose from eternity.
But if God's decree be unchangeable, and cannot be
reversed, then to what purpose should we use the means? Our endeavors
towards salvation cannot alter his decree.
The decree of God does not affect my endeavor; for he who
decreed my salvation, decreed it in the use of means; and if I neglect the
means I reprobate myself. No man argues thus: "God has decreed how long I
shall live, therefore I will not use any means to preserve my life, I will
not eat and drink." As God has decreed the length of my life, in the use of
means—so God has decreed my salvation in the use of the Word and of prayer.
As a man who refuses food murders himself—just so, he who refuses to work
out his salvation destroys himself. The vessels of mercy are said to be
prepared unto glory. How are they prepared, but by being sanctified? and
that cannot be, but in the use of means. Therefore let not God's decree,
take you off from holy endeavors. It is a good saying of Preston, "Have you
a heart to pray to God? it is a sign that no decree of wrath has passed
Use one: If God's decree is eternal and unchangeable,
then God does not elect upon our foreseen faith, as the Arminians
maintain. "The children being not yet born, that the purpose of
God according to election might stand, it was said, Jacob have I loved, Esau
have I hated." Romans 9:11, 13. We are not elected for our
holiness—but to holiness. Eph 1:1. If we are not justified for
our faith, much less are we elected for our faith. We are said to be
justified through faith as an instrument—but not for faith as
a cause; and, if not justified for faith, then much less elected
for faith. God's decree of election, is eternal and unchangeable, and
therefore depends not upon foreseen faith. "As many as were ordained to
eternal life, believed." They were not elected because they believed—but
they believed because they were elected.
Use two: If God's decree be unchangeable, it gives
comfort in two cases.
(1.) Concerning God's providence towards his church.
We are ready to quarrel with Providence, if everything does not accord with
our desire. Remember God's work goes on, and nothing happens, but what he
has decreed from eternity.
(2.) God has decreed troubles for the church's good.
The troubles of God's church, are like the angel's troubling the
water, which made way for healing his people. God has decreed
troubles in the church. "His fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem."
The wheels in a watch move contrary to one another—but they all carry on the
motion of the watch. Just so, the wheels of Providence often move contrary
to our desires—but still they carry on God's unchangeable decree. "Many
shall be made white." God lets the waters of affliction be poured on
his people—to make them white. Therefore, do not murmur at God's dealings!
His work goes on, nothing happens, but what he has wisely decreed from
eternity. Everything shall promote God's design, and fulfill his decree.
Use three: Comfort to the GODLY in regard of their
salvation. "The foundation of God stands sure, having this
seal—The Lord knows those who are his." God's counsel of election is
unchangeable. Once elected, forever elected. "I will not blot his name out
of the book of life." The book of God's decree has no errata in it, no
blottings out. Once justified, never unjustified. "Repentance shall be hid
from my eyes." Hos 13:14. God never repents of his electing love. "He loved
them to the end." Therefore, if you are a believer, comfort yourself with
this—the immutability of God's decree.
Use four: To conclude with a word to the WICKED, who
march furiously against God and his people—let them know that God's decree
is unchangeable. God will not alter it, nor can they break it!
While they resist God's will, they fulfill it. There is a two-fold will of
God—the will of God's precept, and the will of his decree.
While the wicked resist the will of God's precept, they fulfill the will of
his permissive decree. Judas betrays Christ, Pilate condemns him, the
soldiers crucify him; while they resist the will of God's precepts, they
fulfill the will of his permissive decree. "For, in fact, in this city both
Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, to do
whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place." Acts
God commands one thing, they do the contrary. While they
disobey his command, they fulfill his permissive decree. If a man sets up
two nets, one of silk, the other of iron, the silken net may be broken, not
the iron one. Just so, while men break the silken net of God's command, they
are taken in the iron net of his decree; while they sit backward to God's
precepts, they row forward to his decrees. God decrees to permit
their sin, and then to punish them for their sin permitted.
The WISDOM of God
The next attribute is God's wisdom, which is one of the
brightest beams of the Godhead. "He is wise in heart." The heart is the seat
of wisdom. Among the Hebrews, the heart is put for wisdom. "Men of
understanding," Job 34:34. The Hebrew is "Men of heart." God is wise in
heart, that is, he is most wise.
God alone is wise—he solely and wholly possesses
all wisdom; therefore he is called, "the only wise God." All the treasures
of wisdom are locked up in him, and no creature can have any wisdom but as
God is pleased to give it out of his treasury.
God is perfectly wise; there is no defect in his
wisdom. Men may be wise in some things—but in other things they show
imprudence and weakness. But God is the exemplar and pattern of wisdom, and
the pattern must be perfect. "As your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew
5:48. God's wisdom appears in two things:
I. His infinite intelligence.
II. His exact working.
I. His infinite INTELLIGENCE. He knows the
most profound secrets. "Our Lord is great, vast in power; His
understanding is infinite." Psalm 147:5. "There is a God in heaven who
reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will
happen in the future." Daniel 2:28. He knows the thoughts, which are the
most intricate subtle things. "I know full well what you are thinking." Job
21:27. "The Lord knows the thoughts of man." Psalm 94:11. Let sin be
contrived ever so secretly, God will pull off all masks and disguises, and
make a heart-anatomy. He knows all future contingencies; all things are
before him in one clear prospect.
II. His exact and meticulous WORKING. He is
wise in heart; his wisdom lies in his works. These works of God are
bound up in three great volumes, where we may read his wisdom.
 The work of CREATION. The creation is both
a monument of God's power, and a looking-glass in which we may see his
wisdom. None but a wise God could so meticulously contrive the world. Behold
the earth decked with variety of flowers, which are both for beauty
and fragrance. Behold the heaven bespangled with lights. We may see
the glorious wisdom of God blazing in the sun, twinkling in the stars. His
wisdom is seen in marshaling and ordering everything in its proper place
and sphere. If the sun had been set lower, it would have burnt us; if
higher, it would not have warmed us with its beams. God's wisdom is seen in
appointing the seasons of the year. "You have made summer and
winter." If it had been all summer, the heat would have scorched us; if all
winter, the cold would have killed us. The wisdom of God is seen in
chequering the dark and the light. If it had been all night, there would
have been no labor; if all day, there would have been no rest. Wisdom is
seen in mixing the elements, as the earth with the sea. If it had
been all sea, we would have lacked bread; if it had been all earth, we would
have lacked water. The wisdom of God is seen in preparing and ripening
the fruits of the earth, in the wind and frost which prepare the fruits,
and in the sun and rain which ripen the fruits. God's wisdom is seen in
setting bounds to the sea, and so wisely contriving it, that though
the sea is higher than many parts of the earth—yet it should not overflow
the earth. We may cry out with the Psalmist, "O Lord, how manifold are your
works! in wisdom have you made them all." There is nothing to be seen in
this world, but miracles of God's wisdom.
God's wisdom is seen in ordering social things,
that one shall have need of another. The poor need the rich man's money, and
the rich need the poor man's labor. God makes one trade depend upon
another—that one may be helpful to another, and that mutual love may be
 The second work wherein God's wisdom shines forth is
the work of REDEMPTION.
(1.) Redemption is the masterpiece of divine wisdom.
God has contrived a way for happiness for sinful man—and yet uphold his
justice! We may cry out with the apostle, "O the depth of the riches both of
the wisdom and knowledge of God!" This has astonished men and angels. If God
had left us to find out a way of salvation when we were lost—we could
neither have had a head to devise, nor a heart to desire—what God's infinite
wisdom had planned for us.
Mercy had a mind to save sinners, and was loath that
the justice of God should be wronged. "It is a pity," says Mercy, "that such
a noble creature as man should be eternally undone; and yet God's justice
must not be a loser. What way then shall be found out? Angels cannot satisfy
for the wrong done to God's justice; nor is it fit that one nature should
sin—and another nature suffer. What then? Shall man be forever lost?" Now,
while Mercy was thus debating with itself, what to do for the
recovery of fallen man, the Wisdom of God stepped in—and thus the
oracle spoke: "Let God become man; let the Second Person in the Trinity
become incarnate, and suffer; and so for fitness he shall be man, and for
ability he shall be God! Thus justice may be satisfied, and man saved!" O
the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God—thus to make justice and
mercy to kiss each other! Great is this mystery, "God manifest in the
flesh." What wisdom was this—that Christ should be made sin—yet know no sin;
that God should condemn the sin—yet save the sinner! Here was wisdom—to find
out the way of salvation.
(2.) The means by which salvation is applied—sets forth
God's wisdom—that salvation should be by faith, not by works.
Faith is a humble grace—it gives all to Christ; it is an adorer of free
grace. And free grace being advanced here, God has his glory; and it is his
highest wisdom to exalt his own glory.
(3.) The way of working faith—declares God's wisdom.
It is wrought by the word preached. "Faith comes by hearing." What is the
weak breath of a man—to convert a soul? It is like whispering in the
ears of a dead man. This is foolishness in the eye of the world; but the
Lord loves to show his wisdom by that which seems folly. "He has chosen the
foolish things of the world to confound the wise." Why so? "So that no one
can ever boast in the presence of God."
If God were to convert by the ministry of angels—then
we would be ready to glory in angels, and give that honor to them which is
due to God; but when God works by weak tools, makes use of men who are of
like passions with ourselves, and by them converts, then the power is
plainly seen to be of God. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to
show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us!" Herein is
God's wisdom seen, that no flesh may glory in his Presence.
 The wisdom of God wonderfully appears in the works of
his PROVIDENCE. Every providence has a mercy or a
wonder enrapt up in it. The wisdom of God, in his works of providence,
(1.) By effecting great things—by small contemptible
means. He cured the stung Israelites, by a brazen serpent. If
some sovereign antidote had been used, if the balm of Gilead had been
brought, there would have been some likelihood of a cure; but what was there
in a brazen serpent? It was a mere model—and not a real
serpent; and it was not physically applied to him who was wounded; he was
only to look upon it; yet this wrought a cure! The less probability
in the instrument—the more is God's wisdom seen!
(2.) The wisdom of God is seen in doing his work, by that
which to the eye of flesh seems quite contrary. God intended to
advance Joseph, and to make all his brethren's sheaves bow to his sheaf.
Now, what way does he take? First Joseph is thrown into the pit; then
sold into Egypt; then after that put in prison. But by his imprisonment God
made way for his advancement. For God to save in an ordinary
way—would not so much display his wisdom. But when he goes strangely
to work, and saves in that very way in which we think he will
destroy—his wisdom shines forth in a most conspicuous manner!
God would make Israel victorious, and what way
does he take? He lessens Gideon's army. "The people that are with you
are too many." He reduces the army of thirty-two thousand, to three hundred;
and by taking away the means of victory, makes Israel victorious.
God had a design to bring his people out of Egypt,
and a strange course he takes to effect it! He stirred up the hearts of the
Egyptians to hate them. "He turned their heart to hate his people." The more
they hated and oppressed Israel, the more God plagued the Egyptians, and the
more glad they were to let Israel go. The Egyptians were urgent that they
might send them out of the land in haste.
God had a mind to save Jonah when he was cast into
the sea—so he let the fish swallow him up, and so brought him to the shore.
God would save Paul, and all who were in the ship
with him—but the ship must be wrecked, so that they could all came safely to
land upon the broken pieces of the ship. Acts 27:74.
In reference to the church, God often goes by
contrary means, and makes the enemy do his work. God can make a straight
stroke, with a crooked stick. He has often made his church grow and
flourish by persecution. "The showers of blood have made her
more fruitful," says Julian. Exod 1:10. "Come, we must deal shrewdly with
them or they will become even more numerous." But the way the Egyptians took
to suppress them, made them multiply. Verse 12. "But the more they were
oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to
dread the Israelites." Just like the soil—the more it is harrowed,
the better crop it bears. The apostles were scattered by persecution, and
their scattering was like the scattering of seed. They went up and down, and
preached the gospel, and brought daily converts. Paul was put in prison, and
his chains were the means of spreading the gospel. "Now I want you to know,
brothers, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the
advancement of the gospel." Philippians 1:12.
(3.) The wisdom of God is seen in making the most
desperate evils, to work to the good of his children. As several
poisonous ingredients, wisely tempered by the skill of the apothecary, make
a sovereign medicine—so God makes the most deadly afflictions work together
for the good of his children. He uses severe afflictions to purify them, and
prepare them for heaven. "For our momentary light affliction is producing
for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory!" 2 Corinthians
4:17. These hard frosts hasten the spring flowers of glory! The wise
God, by a divine chemistry, turns our afflictions into cordials. He
makes his people gainers by losses; and turns their crosses
(4.) The wisdom of God is seen in this—that the sins of
men shall carry on God's work; yet he himself should have no hand in their
sin. The Lord permits sin—but does not approve it.
He has a hand in the action in which sin is—but not in the sin
of the action. As in the crucifying of Christ, so far as it was a natural
action, God concurred; if he had not given the Jews life and breath, they
could not have done it; but as it was a sinful action, so God abhorred it. A
musician plays upon a violin which is out of tune; the musician is the cause
of the sound—but the jarring and discord is from the violin itself. Just so,
men's natural motion is from God—but their sinful motion is
from themselves. When a man rides on a lame horse, his riding is the cause
why the horse goes—but the lameness is from the horse itself. Herein is
God's wisdom—that the sins of men carry on his work—yet he has no hand in
(5.) The wisdom of God is seen in helping in desperate
cases. God loves to show his wisdom—when human help and wisdom
fail. Exquisite lawyers love to wrestle with difficult law cases, as this
more shows their skill. God's wisdom is never at a loss; but when
providences are darkest, then the morning star of deliverance
appears. "He remembered us in our low estate." Sometimes God melts
away the spirits of his enemies. "The Lord has surely given the whole land
into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us." Joshua
2:24. Sometimes he finds them other work to do, and sounds a retreat to
them, as he did to Saul when he was pursuing David. "The Philistines are in
the land." When the church seems to be upon destruction, and her peace and
liberty ready to be sacrificed, then the deliverance comes.
(6.) God's wisdom is seen in befooling wise men, and in
making their wisdom the means of their overthrow. Ahithophel had
deep understanding. "The counsel Ahithophel gave was like that of one who
inquires of God;" but he consulted his own shame. "The Lord turned his
counsel into foolishness." "God takes the wise in their own craftiness;"
that is, when they think to deal wisely, he not only disappoints
them—but ensnares them. The snares they lay for others, catch
themselves! "They have fallen into the pit they dug for others. They have
been caught in their own trap." God loves to counterplot politicians; he
makes use of their own wit to undo them. He hangs Haman up on his own
Use one: Adore the wisdom of God. It is an
infinite deep; the angels cannot search into it. "Oh, the depth of the
riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His
judgments and untraceable His ways!" Romans 11:33. As we should adore
the wisdom of God—so we should rest in the wisdom of God. God sees
what condition is best for us. Did we believe the wisdom of God, it would
keep us from murmuring. Rest in God's wisdom.
(1.) In lack of spiritual comfort. God is
wise; he sometimes sees it good, that we should be without comfort. Perhaps
we would be lifted up in pride if we had spiritual enlargements; as Paul,
with his revelations. "Especially because of the extraordinary revelations.
Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given
to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself." 2
Corinthians 12:7. It is hard to have the heart low—when comfort is high. God
sees humility to be better for us than joy. It is better to
lack comfort, and be humble—than to have it, and be proud!
(2.) In lack of bodily strength, rest in God's
wisdom. He sees what is best. Perhaps the less health—the more grace.
Perhaps the weaker in body—the stronger in faith. "Though our outward man is
perishing—yet the inward man is renewed day by day." At Rome there were two
laurel trees; when the one withered, the other flourished. When God shakes
the tree of the body, he is gathering the fruits of
righteousness. "No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but
painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness
to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11. Sickness is God's
lance—to let out the poison of sin. "The Lord did this to purge away
Israels' sin." Isaiah 27:9.
(3.) In case of God's providences to his church.
When we wonder what God is doing with us, and are ready to kill
ourselves with worry—let us rest in God's wisdom. He knows best what he has
to do. "Your way went through the sea, and Your path through the great
waters, but Your footprints were unseen." Psalms 77:19. Trust his
heart—where you cannot trace his hand. God is most in his way, when we
think he is most out of the way. When we think God's church is, as it were,
in the grave, and there is a tombstone laid upon her, his wisdom can roll
away the stone from the sepulcher. "Christ comes leaping over mountains."
Either his power can remove the mountain, or his wisdom knows
how to leap over it!
(4.) In case we are low in the world, or have but little
oil in our cruse—let us rest in God's wisdom. He sees that this
condition is best for us. Perhaps it is to cure us from pride or
worldliness. God knew if your estate had not been lost—your soul
would have been lost. God saw that riches would be a snare unto
you. "But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many
foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it,
some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many
pains." 1 Timothy 6:9-10. Are you troubled that God has prevented a snare?
God will make you rich in faith. What you lack in temporals, shall be made
up in spirituals. God will give you more of his love. You are weak in
estate—but God will make you strong in assurance. Oh rest in God's wisdom!
He will carve the choicest piece for you!
(5.) In case of the loss of dear friends, a wife, or
child, or husband, let us rest satisfied in God's wisdom. God
takes away these, because he would have more of our love; he breaks these
crutches, that we may live more upon him by faith. God would have us learn
to go without crutches.
Use two: If God is infinitely wise—let us go to him for
wisdom. Solomon prayed, "So give your servant a discerning
heart . . . The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this." 1
Kings 3:9-10. Here is encouragement for us; "If any one lacks wisdom, let
him ask of God, who gives liberally, and upbraids not." Wisdom is in
God—as water is in the fountain. That is, his wisdom is imparted, but
not impaired—his stock is not spent by giving it. Go then to God.
"Lord, give me wisdom, to know the fallacy of my heart; the subtleties of
the old serpent; to walk carefully towards myself; piously towards you,
prudently towards others; guide me by your counsel, and afterwards receive
me to glory."
The JUSTICE of God
The next attribute is God's justice. All God's attributes
are in unity, and are the same with his essence. Though he has several
attributes whereby he is made known to us—yet he has but one essence. A
cedar tree may have several branches—yet it is but one cedar. So there are
several attributes of God whereby we conceive of him—but only one entire
essence. Well, then, concerning God's justice. "Just and righteous is he."
"His justice and great righteousness." God is said to dwell in justice.
"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne." Psalm 89:14.
In God, power and justice meet. Power holds the scepter, and
justice holds the balance.
I. What is God's justice?
"Justice is to give everyone his due." God's justice is
the rectitude of his nature, whereby he is carried to the doing of that
which is righteous and equal. "Shall not he render to every man according to
his works?" God is an impartial judge. He judges the cause. Men often judge
the person—but not the cause; which is not justice—but malice. "I will go
down and see whether they have done according to the cry which is
come up unto me." When the Lord is upon a punitive act, he weighs things in
the balance; he does not punish rashly. Concerning God's justice, I shall
lay down these six positions:
 God cannot but be just. His holiness is
the cause of his justice. Holiness will not allow him to do anything but
what is righteous. He can no more be unjust, than he can be unholy.
 God's will is the supreme rule of justice;
it is the standard of equity. His will is wise and good. God
wills nothing but what is just; and therefore it is just, because
he wills it.
 God does justice, naturally.
Justice flows from his nature. Men may act unjustly, because they are bribed
or forced to. But God will not be bribed, because of his justice; he
cannot be forced, because of his power. He does justice out of love
to justice. "You love righteousness."
 Justice is the perfection of the divine nature.
Aristotle says, "Justice comprehends in it all virtues." To say God is just,
is to say, he is all that is excellent; all perfections meet in him, as
lines in a center. He is not only just—but justice itself.
 God never did, nor can do, the least wrong to his
creatures. God's justice has been wronged—but his justice never
did any wrong. God may not act according to the rigor of the law; he abates
something of his severity. He might inflict heavier penalties than he does.
"You have punished us less than our iniquities deserve." Our mercies are
more than we deserve, and our punishments less.
 God's justice is such that it is not fit for any man
or angel to expostulate with him, or demand a reason of his actions.
God has not only authority on his side—but equity. "I will make justice
the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line." Isa 28:17. It is below
him to give an account to us, of his proceedings. Which of these two should
prevail—God's justice or man's reason? "Who are you, O man, to talk back to
God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it—Why did you make me like
this?" Romans 9:20. The plumb line of our reason is too short—to fathom the
depth of God's justice. Rom 11:33. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the
wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and
untraceable His ways!" We are to adore God's justice, where we cannot see
the reason of it.
II. God's justice runs in two channels. It is
seen in two things, the distribution of rewards and punishments.
 In rewarding the virtuous. "Truly there is
a reward for the righteous." The saints shall not serve him for nothing;
though they may be losers for him, they shall not be losers by
him. "God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love, which you
have showed to his name." He gives a reward, not because we have deserved
it—but because he has promised it.
 He is just in punishing offenders. He is
just. (1.) Because he punishes sinners by a law. "Where there is no law,
there is no transgression." But God has given men a law, and they break it,
therefore he punishes them justly. (2.) God is just in punishing the wicked,
because he never punished them, but upon full proof and evidence. What
greater evidence than for a man's own conscience to be witness against him!
There is nothing God charges upon a sinner but conscience sets its seal to
the truth of it.
Use one: See here another flower of God's crown—he is
just and righteous. He is the exemplar and pattern of justice.
How can it be consistent with God's justice, that the
wicked should prosper in the world? "Why does the way of the wicked
prosper? Why do the treacherous live at ease?" Jeremiah 12:1. Such as are
highest in sin--are often highest in prosperity. This has led many to
question God's justice. Diogenes seeing a thief live on affluently, said,
"Surely God has cast off the government of the world, and does not care how
things go on here below."
(1.) The wicked may be sometimes instruments to do God's
work. Though they do not design his glory—yet they may promote
it. Cyrus was instrumental in the building of God's temple in Jerusalem.
There is some kind of justice, that they should have a temporal reward. God
lets those prosper under whose wing his people are sheltered. God will
not be in any man's debt. "Who has kindled a fire on my altar for
(2.) God lets men go on in sin, and prosper, that he may
leave them more inexcusable. "I gave her space to repent of her
fornication." God adjourns the sessions, spins out his mercies towards
sinners; and if they repent not, his patience will be a witness against
them, and his justice will be more cleared in their condemnation. "That you
might be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge."
(3.) God does not always let the wicked prosper in their
sin. Some he punishes openly, that his justice may be taken notice of. "The
Lord is known by the judgement which he executes;" that is, his justice is
seen by striking men dead in the very act of sin. Thus he struck Zimri and
Cozbi in the act of uncleanness.
(4.) If God lets men prosper a while in their sin, his
vial of wrath is all this while filling; his sword is all this time
sharpening. Though God may forbear with men a while—yet long forbearance is
no forgiveness. The longer God is in taking his blow, the heavier it will
be at last! As long as there is eternity, God has time enough to reckon with
God's justice may be as a sleeping lion—but the lion will
awake at last, and roar upon the sinner! Do not Nero, and Julian, and Cain,
now meet with God's justice?
But God's own people often suffer great afflictions;
they are injured and persecuted. "This is what the wicked are like—always
carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. For I am afflicted all day
long, and punished every morning." Psalm 73:12-14. How can this be
consistent with God's justice?
(I,) That is a true rule of Austin, "God's ways of
judgement are sometimes secret—but never unjust!" The Lord
never afflicts his people without a cause; he cannot be unjust towards them.
There is some good in the godly, therefore the wicked afflict them; there is
some evil in them, therefore God afflicts them. God's own children have
their blemishes. "But aren't you also guilty of sins against the Lord your
God?" 2 Chronicles 28:10. These spiritual diamonds—have they no flaws?
Do we not read of the spots of God's children? Are not they guilty of
much pride, censoriousness, passion, worldliness? Though, by their
profession, they should resemble the birds of paradise, to fly above, and
feed upon the dew of heaven; yet, as the serpent, they lick the dust. These
sins of God's people, do more provoke God than the sins of others. "The Lord
saw this and was filled with loathing. He was provoked to anger by his own
sons and daughters." Deut 32:19. The sins of others pierce Christ's side;
the sins of His people wound his heart. Therefore is not God just in all the
afflictions which befall them? "You only have I chosen of all the families
of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins." Amos 3:2. I
will punish you sooner, surer, sorer, than others.
(2.) The trials and sufferings of the godly, are to
refine and purify them. God's furnace is in Zion. Is it any injustice in God
to put his gold into the furnace to purify it? Is it any injustice in God,
by afflicting his people, to make them partakers of his holiness? What more
proclaims God's faithfulness, than to take such a course with them as may
make them better? "In faithfulness you have afflicted me."
(3.) What injustice is it in God to inflict a less
punishment; in order to prevent a greater punishment? The best of God's
children have that in them which is meritorious of hell. Does God do them
any wrong, if he uses only the rod, where they have deserved the
scorpion? Is the father unjust, if he only corrects his child,
who has deserved to be disinherited? If God deals so favorably with
his children, he only puts wormwood in their cup, whereas he might
put fire and brimstone! They should rather admire his mercy
than complain of his injustice.
How can it stand with God's justice, that all men being
equally guilty by nature, he does pass by one and save another? Why does he
not deal with all alike?
"Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid." "Does
the Almighty pervert justice?"
(1.) God is not bound to give an account of his actions
to his creatures. If none may question a king, much less God. It is
sufficient that God is Lord paramount; he has a sovereign power over his
creatures, therefore can do no injustice. "Has not the potter power over the
clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and another to
dishonor?" God has liberty in his own bosom, to save one, and not another;
and his justice is not at all impeached or blemished. If two men owe you
money, you may, without any injustice, remit the debt to one, and exact it
of the other. If two malefactors are condemned to die, the king may pardon
the one and not the other: he is not unjust if he lets one suffer, because
he offended the law; nor if he saves the other, because he will make use of
his prerogative as he is king.
(2.) Though some are saved and others perish—yet there is
no unrighteousness in God; because, whoever perishes, his destruction is of
himself. "O Israel, you have destroyed yourself." God offers grace— and the
sinner refuses it. Is God bound to give grace? If a surgeon comes to heal a
man's wound, and he will not be healed—is the surgeon bound to heal him? "I
have called—and you refused." "Israel would not submit to me." Psalm 81:11.
God is not bound to force his mercies upon men. If they willfully
oppose the offer of grace, their sin is to be regarded as the cause of their
perishing, and not God's justice.
Use two: See the difference between God and a great part
of the world.
(1.) They are unjust in their courts of law—they pervert
justice. "They decree unrighteous decrees." The Hebrew word for a judge's
robe signifies prevarication, deceit, or injustice, which is more often
true of the judge than of the robe. What is a good law without a good judge?
Injustice lies in two things—either not to punish where there is a
fault, or, to punish where there is no fault.
(2.) Men are unjust in their dealings. This is,  In
using false weights. "The balances of deceit are in his hand." It is sad to
have the Bible in one hand, and false weights in the other. Or,  In
adulterating commodities. "Your wine is mixed with water," or when
bad grain is mixed with good, and sold for pure grain. I can never believe
he is good in the first table of the law—who is not good in the second. He
cannot be godly, who is not just. Though God does not bid you be as
omnipotent as he is—yet he bids you be as just as he is.
Use three: Imitate God in justice. Let
Christ's golden maxim be observed, "in everything, do to others what you
would have them do to you." Matt 7:12. You would not have them wrong
you—neither must you wrong them; rather suffer wrong—than do
wrong. "Why do you not rather be wronged?" Oh be exemplary for
justice! Let justice be your ornament. "I put on righteousness (namely,
justice) as a robe and a diadem." A robe for its graceful beauty; and I put
it on, [and I was clothed in righteousness]. A judge puts on his robe, and
takes it off again at night; but Job did so put on justice, as he did
not take it off until death. We must not lay off this robe of justice
until we lay down our bodies in the grave. If you have anything of God in
you, you will be like him. By every unjust action, you deny
yourselves to be Christians, you stain the glory of your profession. Heathen
will rise up in judgement against you. The sun might sooner alter his
course, than God could be turned from doing justice.
Use four: If God is just, there will be a day of
judgment. Now things are out of course; sin is rampant, saints
are wronged, they are often defeated in a righteous cause, they can meet
with no justice here, justice is turned into wormwood. But there is a day
coming, when God will set things right; he will do every man justice; he
will crown the righteous, and condemn the wicked. "He has appointed a day in
which he will judge the world" If God is a just God, he will take vengeance.
God has given men a law to live by, and they break it. There must be a day
for the execution of offenders. A law not executed is but like a wooden
dagger—for a show. At the last day, God's sword shall be drawn out against
offenders; then his justice shall be revealed before all the world. "God
will judge the world in righteousness." "Shall not the Judge of all the
earth do right?" The wicked shall drink a sea of wrath—but not sip one
drop of injustice! At that day shall all mouths be stopped, and God's
justice shall be fully vindicated from all the cavils and clamors of unjust
Use five: Comfort to the true penitent. As God
is a just God, he will pardon him. If man acknowledges his sin—God spares
him. "If we confess our sins (that is confess and forsake), he is just
to forgive us our sins." God is not only merciful, but just.
Why just? Because he has promised to forgive such. "He who conceals his sins
does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy."
Proverbs 28:13. If your heart has been broken for and from
sin—you may not only plead God's mercy—but his justice for the
pardoning of your sin. Show him his promise, and he cannot deny himself.
The MERCY of God
The next attribute is God's goodness or mercy. Mercy
is the result and effect—of God's goodness. So then this is the
next attribute, God's goodness or mercy. The most learned of the heathens
thought they gave their God Jupiter two golden characters when they styled
him good and great. Both these meet in God, goodness
and greatness; mercy and majesty. God is essentially
good in himself, and relatively good to us. "You are
good, and do good." This relative goodness is nothing else but his
mercy, which is an innate propensity in God to pity and support such as are
I. Concerning God's mercy, I shall lay down these twelve
 It is the great design of the Scripture to represent
God as merciful. This is a loadstone to draw sinners to him. "I
am the Lord, I am the Lord, the merciful and gracious God. I am slow to
anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness. I show this unfailing
love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so
I do not leave sin unpunished." Exodus 34:6-7. Here are six expressions to
set forth God's mercy, and but one to set forth his justice. "God's mercy is
far above the heavens." God is represented as a king, with a rainbow
about his throne. Rev 4:4. The rainbow was an emblem of mercy. The Scripture
represents God in white robes of mercy—more often than with garments
rolled in blood; with his golden scepter—more often than his iron
 God is more inclined to mercy, than wrath.
Mercy is his darling attribute, which he most delights in. "Who is a
God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant
of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show
mercy." Micah 7:18. Mercy pleases him. "It is delightful to the mother,"
says Chrysostom, "to have her breasts drawn; so it is to God to have the
breasts of his mercy drawn." "Fury is not in me," that is, I do not delight
in it. Acts of severity are rather forced from God; he does not
afflict willingly. "For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to
the children of men." Lamentations 3:33.
The bee naturally gives honey, it stings only when it is
provoked. Just so, God does not punish until he can bear no longer. "So that
the Lord could bear no longer, because of the evil of your doings." Mercy is
God's right hand that he is most used to; inflicting punishment is called
his "strange work." He is not used to it. When the Lord would shave off the
pride of a nation, he is said to use a hired razor, as if he had none
of his own. "On that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond
the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria—to shave the head, the hair on the
legs, and to remove the beard as well." Isaiah 7:20. "He is slow to
anger," but "ready to forgive."
 There is no condition—but we may spy mercy in it.
When the church was in captivity, she cried out, "It is of the Lord's
mercies that we are not consumed." Geographers write of Syracuse in Sicily,
that it is so situated that the sun is never out of sight. In all
afflictions we may see some sunshine of mercy. That outward
and inward troubles do not come together is mercy.
 Mercy sweetens all God's other attributes.
God's holiness without mercy, and his justice without mercy—would be
dreadful. When the water was bitter, and Israel could not drink, Moses cast
a tree into the waters, and then they were made sweet. How bitter and
dreadful were the other attributes of God—did not mercy sweeten them! Mercy
sets God's power on work to help us; it makes his justice become our friend.
 God's mercy is one of the most orient pearls of his
crown; it makes his Godhead appear amiable and lovely. When Moses
said to God, "I beseech you—show me your glory;" the Lord answered
him, "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will show
you mercy." God's mercy is his glory. His holiness makes him
illustrious; his mercy makes him endearing.
 Even the worst people taste God's mercy.
Such as fight against God's mercy, taste of it; the wicked have some
crumbs from mercy's table. "The Lord is good to all."
Sweet dewdrops are on the thistle, as well as on the rose. The
diocese where mercy visits is very large. Pharaoh's head was crowned,
though his heart was hardened.
 Mercy coming to us in salvation, is sweetest.
It was mercy that God would give Israel rain, and bread to the full,
and peace, and victory over their enemies—but it was a greater mercy that
God would be their God. To have health is a mercy—but to have
Christ and salvation is a greater mercy. Saving mercy, is like the
diamond in the ring, which casts a more sparkling luster.
 One act of mercy engages God to another.
Men argue thus, "I have shown you kindness already, therefore trouble me no
more." But, because God has shown saving mercy, he is more ready still to
show mercy. His mercy in election makes him justify, adopt, glorify; one act
of mercy engages God to more. A parent's love to his child makes him always
 All the mercy in the creature is derived from God,
and is but a drop from this ocean. The mercy and pity a mother
has to her child, is from God; he who puts the milk in her breast puts the
compassion in her heart. God is called, "The Father of mercies,"
because he begets all the mercies in the world. If God has put any kindness
into the creature, how much kindness is in him who is the Father of mercy!
 As God's mercy makes the saints happy—so it
should make them humble. Mercy is not the fruit of our
goodness—but the fruit of God's goodness. Mercy is a gift which
God bestows. They have no cause to be proud, who live upon the alms of God's
mercy. "If I am righteous—yet will I not lift up my head." That is, all my
righteousness is the effect of God's mercy, therefore I will be humble and
will not lift up my head.
 Mercy stays the speedy execution of God's
justice. Sinners continually provoke God, and make "the fury come
up in his face." Why is it, that God does not immediately arrest and condemn
them? It is not that God cannot do it, for he is armed with
omnipotence—but it is from his mercy. Mercy gets a reprieve for the
sinner—and stops the speedy process of justice. God would, by his goodness,
lead sinners to repentance.
 It is dreadful to have mercy as a witness against
any one. It was sad with Haman, when the queen herself
accused him. So will it be when this queen of mercy shall stand up
against a person and accuse him! It is only mercy that saves a sinner; how
sad then to have mercy become an enemy! If mercy is an accuser, who shall be
our advocate? The sinner never escapes hell, when mercy draws up the
I might show you several kinds of mercy—as
preventing mercy, sparing mercy, supplying mercy, guiding mercy, accepting
mercy, healing mercy, quickening mercy, supporting mercy, forgiving mercy,
correcting mercy, comforting mercy, delivering mercy, crowning mercy; but I
shall speak of,
II. The qualifications or PROPERTIES of God's mercy.
 God's mercy is FREE. To set up merit—is
to destroy mercy. We cannot deserve mercy, because we are polluted in
our blood; nor can we force God to show mercy—for then it would not
be mercy. We may force God to punish us—but not to love us. "I
will love them freely." Every link in the chain of salvation is
wrought and interwoven with free grace. Election is free. "He has chosen
us in him, according to the good pleasure of his will." Justification is
free. "Being justified freely by his grace." Salvation is free.
"According to his mercy he saved us." Do not say, "I am unworthy,
therefore I cannot be saved;" for mercy is free. If God would show
mercy to such only as are worthy—he would show no mercy at all.
 God's mercy is an overflowing mercy; it is INFINITE.
"Plenteous in mercy." "Rich in mercy." "Multitude of mercies." The vial of
wrath drops—but the fountain of mercy runs in streams. The sun
is not so full of light—as God is of mercy. God has morning mercies.
"His mercies are new every morning." He has night mercies. "In the
night his song shall be with me." God has mercies under heaven, which
we taste; and in heaven, which we hope for.
 God's mercy is ETERNAL. "The mercy of the
Lord is from eternity to eternity." Psalm 103:17. "His mercy endures
forever," is repeated twenty-six times in Psalm 136. The souls of the
blessed shall be ever bathing themselves in this sweet and pleasant ocean of
God's mercy! God's anger to his children lasts but a while, "but his mercy
lasts forever." As long as he is God, he will be showing mercy. As his mercy
is overflowing, so it is ever-flowing.
Use one: We are to look upon God in PRAYER, not in his
judgment robes—but clothed with a rainbow full of mercy and clemency.
Add wings to prayer. When Jesus Christ ascended up to heaven, that which
made him go up there with joy was, "I go to my Father!" Just so, that
which should make our hearts ascend with joy in prayer, is, "We are going to
the Father of mercy, who sits upon the throne of grace!" Go to prayer
with confidence in God's mercy; as a cold person goes to a fire, saying, "it
will warm me, not burn me."
Use two: BELIEVE in his mercy. "I will trust
in the mercy of God forever." God's mercy is an open fountain. Let
down the bucket of faith—and you may drink of this fountain of
salvation. What greater encouragement to believe—than God's mercy? God
counts it his glory to be scattering pardons; he is desirous that
sinners should touch the golden scepter of his mercy, and live. This
willingness in God to show mercy appears two ways:
(1.) By entreating sinners to come and lay hold on
his mercy. "Whoever will, let him come, and take the water of life freely."
Mercy woos sinners, it even kneels down to beg them. It would be strange for
a prince to beg a condemned man to accept of pardon. God says, "Poor sinner,
allow me to love you, be willing to let me save you."
(2.) By his joyfulness when sinners lay hold on his
mercy. What is God the better, whether we receive his mercy or not? What is
the fountain profited that others drink of it? Yet such is God's
goodness, that he rejoices at the salvation of sinners, and is glad when his
mercy is accepted! When the prodigal son came home the father was glad, and
made a feast to express his joy; so, God rejoices when a poor sinner comes
in, and lays hold of his mercy. What an encouragement is here to believe in
God! He is a God of pardons. "You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and
merciful, slow to become angry, and full of unfailing love and mercy."
Neh 9:17. Mercy pleases him. "Where is another God like you, who pardons the
sins of the survivors among his people? You cannot stay angry with your
people forever, because you delight in showing mercy." Micah 7:18.
Nothing harms us but unbelief. Unbelief stops the current
of God's mercy from running. It shuts up God's affections, closes the
orifice of Christ's wounds, so that no healing virtue will come out. "He did
not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief." Why do you not
believe in God's mercy? Do your sins discourage you? God's mercy can
pardon great sins, nay, because they are great. "For the sake of your name,
O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great." Psalm 25:11. The
sea covers the rocks as well as the sands. Some who had a hand
in crucifying Christ, found mercy. As far as the heavens are above the
earth, so far is God's mercy above our sins! What will entice us to believe,
if not the mercy of God?
Use three: Take heed of ABUSING the mercy of God.
Do not suck poison, out of the sweet flower of God's mercy. Do not
think that because God is merciful, you may go on in sin; this is to make
God's mercy your enemy. None might touch the ark but the priests, who
by their office were more holy. Just so, none may touch the ark of God's
mercy, but such as are resolved to be holy. To sin because God's mercy
abounds—is the devil's logic! He who sins because of God's mercy—is like one
who wounds his head because he has a plaster. He who sins because of God's
mercy—shall have judgement without mercy. Mercy abused, turns to
fury. "Let none of those who hear the warnings of this curse consider
themselves immune, thinking, 'I am safe, even though I am walking in my own
stubborn way.' This would lead to utter ruin! The Lord will not pardon such
people. His anger and jealousy will burn against them. All the curses
written in this book will come down on them!" Deuteronomy 29:19-20.
Nothing is colder than lead when taken out of the
mine; and nothing more scalding when it is heated. Nothing is blunter than
iron—yet nothing is sharper when it is whetted. Just so, nothing is
sweeter than mercy—when it is improved; yet nothing is fiercer than
mercy—when it is abused! "The mercy of the Lord is upon those who
fear him." Mercy is not for those who sin and fear not—but for those who
fear and sin not. God's mercy is a holy mercy; where it pardons it
What shall we do to be savingly interested in God's
(1.) Be sensible of your needs. See how much you
stand in need of pardoning, saving mercy. See yourselves as orphans.
"In you, the fatherless find mercy." God bestows the alms of mercy
only on such as are indigent. Be emptied of all opinion of
self-worthiness. God pours the golden oil of mercy into empty
(2.) Go to God for mercy. "Have mercy upon me, O
God!" "Do not put me off with common mercy, which reprobates may
have! Give me not only acorns but pearls! Give me not only mercy to
feed and clothe me—but mercy to save me! Give me the cream of your
mercies! Lord! let me have saving mercy and loving-kindness. Give me
such mercy as speaks your electing love to my soul."
"Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender
mercies." Oh pray for mercy! God has treasures of mercy! Prayer is
the key which opens these treasures; and in prayer, be sure to carry
Christ in your arms, for all the mercy comes through Christ! "So Samuel
took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt
offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel—and the Lord answered." 1
Samuel 7:9. Carry the lamb Christ in your arms, go in his name,
present his merits; say, "Lord! here is Christ's blood, which is the price
of my pardon! Lord! show me mercy, because Christ has purchased it!" Though
God may refuse us when we come for mercy in our own name—yet he will
not when we come in Christ's name. Plead Christ's atonement; this is
an argument which God cannot deny.
Use four: Such as have found mercy are exhorted to three
(1.) To be upon Gerizim—the mount of blessing and
praising. They have not only heard the King of heaven is
merciful—but they have found it so! The honeycomb of God's mercy has
dropped upon them! When in needs, mercy supplied them; when they were near
unto death, mercy raised them from the sick-bed; when covered with guilt,
mercy pardoned them. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!" Oh, how should the vessels of mercy run over with
praise! "I used to scoff at the name of Christ. I hunted down his people,
harming them in every way I could. But God had mercy on me." 1 Timothy 1:13.
"I am a miracle of mercy! As the sea overflows and breaks down the banks, so
the mercy of God broke down the banks of my sin, and mercy sweetly flowed
into my soul!"
You who have been monuments of God's mercy—should
be trumpets of praise! You who have tasted the Lord is gracious, tell
others what experiences you have had of God's mercy, that you may encourage
them to seek to him, for mercy. "I will tell you what God has done for my
soul." "When I found my heart dead, God's Spirit came upon me mightily, and
the blowing of that wind made the withering flowers of my grace revive!" Oh
tell others of God's goodness, that you may set others blessing him, and
that you may make God's praises live when you are dead.
(2.) To love God. Mercy should be the attraction of
love. "I will love you, O Lord, my strength." The Hebrew word for love
signifies, to love out of the inward affections. God's justice
may make us fear him, his mercy makes us love him. If God's mercy
will not produce love, what will? We are to love God for giving us our
food, much more for giving us grace. We are to love God for
sparing mercy, much more for saving mercy. Surely, that heart is
made of marble, which the mercy of God will not dissolve into love. "I would
hate my own soul," says Augustine, "if I did not find it loving God."
(3.) To imitate God in showing mercy. As God is the
Father of mercy, show yourselves to be his children—by being like him.
Ambrose says, "The sum and definition of true religion is—Be rich in works
of mercy, be helpful to the bodies and souls of others. Scatter your golden
seeds; let the lamp of your profession be filled with the oil of love.
Be merciful in giving and forgiving." "Be merciful—as your heavenly Father
The TRUTH of God
The next attribute is God's truth. "A God of truth and
without iniquity; just and righteous is he." "For your mercy is great unto
the heavens, and your truth unto the clouds." "Plenteous in truth."
God is the truth. He is true in a physical sense;
true in his being: he has a real subsistence, and gives a being to others.
He is true in a moral sense; he is truth without error; truth without
deceit. God is prima veritas, the pattern and prototype of truth.
There is nothing true but what is in God—or comes from God.
I shall speak of God's truth, as it is taken from his
veracity in making good his promises. "There has not failed one word of all
his good promise." The promise is God's pledge; God's truth is the seal set
to his pledge.
There are two things to be observed in the promises of
God to comfort us.
 Observe he POWER of God, whereby he is able to
fulfill the promise. God has promised to subdue our corruption.
"He will subdue our iniquities." Oh, says a believer, my corruption is so
strong, that I am sure I shall never get the mastery of it. Abraham looked
at God's power. "Being fully persuaded that what God had promised he was
able to perform." He believed that God, who could make a world, could
make Sarah's dry breasts give suck. It is faith's support—that there is
nothing too hard for God. He who could bring water out of a rock, is able to
bring to pass his promises.
 Observe the TRUTH of God, in the promises.
God's truth is the seal set to the promise. "In hope of eternal life,
which God, who cannot lie has promised." 'Eternal life'—there is the
sweetness of the promise. 'God which cannot lie'—there is the
certainty of it. Mercy makes the promise; truth fulfills
the promise. God's providences are uncertain—but his promises
are the 'sure mercies of David." "God is not a man who he should change."
The word of a prince cannot always be taken—but God's promise
is inviolable. God's truth is one of the richest jewels of his crown, and he
has pawned it in a promise. "Although my house be not so with God—yet he has
made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and
sure." 'Although my house be not so,' that is, though I fail much of
that exact purity the Lord requires—yet he has made with me an everlasting
covenant, that he will pardon, adopt, and glorify me; and this covenant is
ordered in all things and sure.
"The elements shall melt with fervent heat;" but God's
covenant abides firm and inviolable, being sealed with the truth of
God. Nay, God has added to his word his oath—wherein he pawns his
being, life, and righteousness to make good the promise. If as often as we
break our vows with God, he would break promise with us, it would be
very deplorable. But his truth is engaged in his promise, therefore it is
like the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be altered. "We are
not," says Chrysostom, "to believe our senses so much as we are to
believe the promises." Our senses may fail us—but the promise cannot,
being built upon the truth of God. God will not deceive the faith of
his people; nay, he cannot. "God, who cannot lie, has promised." He
can as well part with his Deity—as his verity. God is said to
be abundant in truth. Exod 34:6. What does that signify? If God has
made a promise of mercy to his people, he will be so far from coming
short of his word—that he will be better than his word. He often
does more than he has said—but never less. He is abundant
(1.) The Lord may sometimes delay a promise—but he will
never deny a promise. He may delay a promise. God's
promise may lie a good while, as seed under ground—but at last it will
spring up into a crop. He promised to deliver Israel from the iron
furnace—but this promise was over four hundred years in travail, before it
gave birth. Simeon had a promise that he should not depart, "until he had
seen the Lord's Christ." But it was a long time coming. But a little before
his death—he did see Christ. Though God delays the promise—he will
never deny a promise. Having given his bond—in due time the money
will be paid.
(2.) God may change his promise—but he will not break
it. Sometimes God changes a temporal promise, into a spiritual
promise. "The Lord shall give that which is good." This may not be
fulfilled in a temporal sense—but a spiritual sense. God may
let a Christian be cut short in temporals—but he makes it up in spirituals.
If he does not increase the basket and the store, he gives increase of
faith, and inward peace. Here he changes his promise—but he does not
break it; he gives that which is better. If a man promises to
pay me in farthings, and he pays me in a better coin, as in gold, he does
not break his promise. "I will not allow my faithfulness to fail." In
the Hebrew it is, "I will not allow my faithfulness to lie."
How does it consist with the truth of God, that he "wants
all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"—and yet some
Augustine understands it, not of every individual
person—but some of all kinds of people shall be saved. As in the ark, God
saved all the living creatures; not every individual bird or fish was
saved, for many perished in the flood; but all, that is, some of
every kind were saved. In this sense, God will have all to be
saved, that is—some out of each of nations.
It is said, Christ died for all. "He is the Lamb
of God who takes away the sins of the world." How does this consist
with God's truth, when some are vessels of wrath? Rom 9:92.
(1.) We must qualify the term world. The world is
taken either in a limited sense, for the world of the elect; or in a larger
sense, for both elect and reprobates. "Christ takes away the sins of the
world," that is, the world of the elect.
(2.) We must qualify also Christ's dying for the world.
Christ died sufficiently for all, not effectually. There is
the value of Christ's blood, and the virtue of Christ's blood.
Christ's blood has value enough to redeem the whole world—but the
virtue of it is applied only to such as believe. Christ's blood has the
value to save all, but it is not efficacious for all. All are not saved,
because some put away salvation from them, "We had to speak the word of God
to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves
worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles." Acts 13:46. Others
vilify Christ's blood, counting it an unholy thing.
Use one: The truth of God, is a great pillar for our
faith. Were he not a God of truth—we could not believe him—our
faith would be an empty dream. But he is truth itself, and not a word which
he has spoken shall fall to the ground.
The truth of God, is the object of trust. The truth of
God is an immovable rock, on which we may venture our salvation. Isa 59:15,
"Truth fails," that is—truth on earth fails—but not truth in heaven. God can
as well cease to be God, as cease to be true. Has God said, he "will do good
to the soul who seeks him," and he will "give rest to the weary." Here is a
safe anchor-hold, he will not alter the thing which has gone out of his
lips. The truth of the God of heaven is engaged for believers. Can we have
better security? The whole earth hangs upon the word of God's power—and
shall not our faith hang upon the word of God's truth? Where can we rest our
faith, but upon God's faithfulness? There is nothing else we can securely
believe in, but the truth of God. To trust in ourselves is to build
upon quick sands; but the truth of God is a golden pillar for faith to rest
upon. God cannot deny himself. "If we believe not—yet he abides faithful; he
cannot deny himself." Not to believe God's veracity, is to affront God. "He
who believes not, has made God a liar." A person of honor cannot be more
affronted or provoked, than when he is not believed, and called a liar. He
who denies God's truth, says that God's promise is no better than a forged
deed. Can there be a greater affront offered to God?
Use two: If God is a God of truth, he is true to his
THREATENINGS. The threatenings are a flying scroll against
sinners. God has threatened, "Surely God will crush the heads of his
enemies, the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins." Psalm 68:21. He
has threatened to judge adulterers. Heb 13:3. To be avenged upon the
malicious. Psalm 10:14, "You behold mischief and spite, to requite it with
your own hand;" and to "rain fire and brimstone upon the sinner." God is as
true to his threatenings as to his promises. To show his
truth, he has executed his threatenings, and let his thunderbolts of
judgement fall upon sinners in this life. He struck Herod in
the act of his pride. He has punished blasphemers. Olympius, an Arian
bishop, reproached and blasphemed the blessed Trinity, and immediately
lightning fell down from the heaven upon him and consumed him. Let us fear
the threatening that we may not feel it.
Use three: Is God a God of truth? Let us be like God in
(1.) We must be true in our WORDS. Pythagoras being
asked what made men like God, answered, "When they speak truth." It is the
distinction of a man who shall go to heaven, that "He speaks the truth in
Truth in our words, is opposed to all LYING. "Putting
away lying, speak everyone truth to his neighbor." Lying is when one speaks
that as truth, which he knows to be false. A liar is most opposite to the
God of truth. There are, as Augustine says, two sorts of lies. There is an
officious lie—when a man tells a lie for his profit; as, when a
tradesman says his commodity cost him so much, when perhaps it did not cost
him half so much. He who will lie in his trade—shall lie in hell. There is a
jesting lie—when a man tells a lie in sport, to make others merry—and
goes laughing to hell. He who tells a lie makes himself like the devil. "The
devil is a liar, and the father of lies." John 8:44. He deceived our first
parents by a lie. Some are so wicked, that they will not only speak an
untruth—but will swear to it; nay, they will wish a curse upon themselves,
if that untruth is not true.
I have read of a woman, one Anne Avarie, who in 1575,
being in a shop, wished that she might die, if she had not paid for the
wares she took, and fell down speechless immediately and died. A liar is not
fit to live in a commonwealth. Lying takes away all society and converse
with men. How can you converse with a man—when you cannot believe what he
says? Lying shuts men out of heaven. "Outside are dogs, and whoever loves
and makes a lie."
As it is a great sin to tell a lie—so it is a
worse sin to teach a lie. "The prophet that teaches lies." He
who teaches error, teaches lies. He spreads the plague; he not only damns
himself—but helps to damn others!
Truth in our words, is opposed to all DECEIT. The
heart and tongue should go together, as the dial goes exactly with the sun.
To speak fair to one's face, and not to mean what one speaks, is no better
than a lie. "His words were smoother than oil—but war was in his heart."
Some have an art to flatter and deceive. Jerome, speaking of the Arians,
says, "they pretended friendship, they kissed my hands—but plotted mischief
against me." "A man who flatters his neighbor, spreads a net for his feet."
Deadly poison can be hidden under sweet honey. Falsehood in friendship, is a
lie. Counterfeiting friendship, is worse than counterfeiting money.
(2.) We must be true in our PROFESSION of religion.
Let practice go along with profession. "Righteousness and true
holiness." Hypocrisy in religion is a lie. The hypocrite is like a face in a
mirror, which is the 'show of a face'—but no true face. He makes show
of holiness—but has no truth in it. Ephraim pretended to be that
which he was not; and what does God say of him? "Ephraim compasses me about
with lies." By a lie in our words, we deny the truth; by a lie
in our profession, we disgrace the truth. Not to be to God what we
profess to others—is telling a lie; and the Scripture makes it little better
than blasphemy. "I know the blasphemy of those who say they are
Jews—and are not."
Oh! I beseech you, labor to be like God. He is a God of
truth. He can as well part with his Deity—as his verity. Be like God, be
true in your words, be true in your profession. God's children
are children that will not lie. When God sees "truth in the inward parts,"
and "lips in which is no deceit," he sees his own image—which draws his
heart towards us. Likeness produces love.