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النشر الإلكتروني

ESSAY VI.

ON THE SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT OF THE BUPREME BEING.

HAVING, in the preceding essays, taken a brief survey of the evidences from which it may be safely deduced that Christianity is true, and that the Scriptures contain a divinely-authorized record of all its truths, let us now endeavour to make a diligent use of the written word of God, and let us examine the declarations which it contains respecting the fundamental articles of the Christian faith. What, it may be inquired, in the first place, is the account given by the inspired writers, of the nature and attributes of the Supreme Being ?

The comprebensive character of that account has already been pleaded as affording one evidence, among many, of the divine origin of the Sacred Volume. Certain it is, that the information respecting the Deity, which we derive from the barmonious works of nature, from the course of providence

, and from that sense of his own existence and authority

, which (however, in numberless instances, it may be depraved and perverted) he appears to have impressed universally on the minds of men, is in a marvellous

nanner augmented and, for all present practical purposes, appears to be completed, in the records of revelation.

I. The first principle which it is desirable for us to notice, as unfolded and declared in Scripture, in relation to the present subject, is this: that God is ONE; that there is no other God but Jehovah; that, as he is infinitely superior in point of wisdom, authority, and power, to all other beings, so he is the only right object of spiritual adoration. “ Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord :" Deut. vi, 4. “For though there be that are called Gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by

1 Cor. viii, 5, 6. “ Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," was the fundamental principle, not only of the Jewish institution, but of the law of Christ: Matt. iv, 10, “ Thus saith the Lord, that created the

him :"

heavens ... ... I am the Lord, and there is none else ...... They have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and they pray unto a god that cannot save ...... There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour ; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else;" Is. xlv, 18—22.

II. This Supreme Being—this only proper object of worship ? and spiritual allegiance is described, in the Holy Scriptures,

as eternal and unchangeable. • Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, • I am the first, and I am the last :'” Isa. xliv, 6. “I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come : the Almighty :" Rev. i, 8. “Lord, thou hast been onr dwelling-place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world; even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God :" Ps. xc, 1, 2. “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea all of them shall wax old like a garment;

as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changid ed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end :" TË Ps. cii, 25–27. With “ the Father of lights there is no vasi riableness, neither shadow of turning :” James i, 17. This

primary attribute of the Supreme Being is not only declared in

these and other passages of Scripture, but is plainly expressed se in that distinguishing name of God, which the Jews were ac

customed to regard as too sacred to pronounce-Jehovah; for this title is derived from a verb signifying to be, and denotes the Eternal-him who ever has been, is, and ever shall be him who exists simply, absolutely, and independently." And God said unto Moses, • I AM THAT I AM, (in Hebrew, the verb from which the name Jehovah is derived,) thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM has sent me unto you :') Exod. iii, 14. Again" And God spake unto Moses, and

said unto him, ' I AM JEHOVAH:'" Exod. vi, 2. 3

III. Jehovah, the Being who has alone existed from all eternity, is ever described in the Scriptures (in accordance with the unvarying dictates of true philosophy) as the First Cause of all other things—the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and whatsoever they contain. The Bible opens with the declaration, that “ in the beginning, God created the heaven and earth :" Gen. i, 1. “ By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of

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bis mouth ...... for he spake, and it was done ; he commanded, and it stood fast :” Ps. xxxiii, 6–9. “ God, that made the world, and all things therein," said the apostle Paul to the Athenians, “ giveth to all life, and breath, and all things, and hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth...... for in him we live and more and have our being:” Acts, xvii, 24—28. “ Who hath mea sured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out hea: ven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance ?" Isa. xl, 12. . “ I form the light and create

. I, the Lord, do all these things :" Isa. xlv, 1. “ Praise ye the Lord from the heavens : praise him in the heights. Praise ye him all his angels; praise ye him all ha hosts; praise ye bim sun and moon ; praise him all ye star of light. Praise him ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord; for be commanded, and they WERE CREATED:” Ps. cxlviii, 1–5.

When the Lord had condescended to describe to his servant Job the wonders of the creation, Job answered, and said, "! know that thou canst do every thing:ch. xlii, 2. “Ah, Lord God," exclaimed the prophet Jeremiah, “behold thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretch ed-out arm, and and there is nothing too hard for thee :” Jer xxxii, 17. “ The invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead :” Rom. i, 20. Thus is the doctrine of the omnipotence of God derived hy the sacred writers from the acknowledged fact that he wai the Creator of all things : nor is it possible for us to conceive a greater degree of power than that which was displayed by the Eternal, when he gave to all his creatures their first existence; when he produced an incomprehensibly extensive universe-an universe consisting of organized substances

, liring creatures, rational, intelligent, beings-out of nothing

. How often do the Scriptures testify that God alone was the Creator, not only of the earth, but of the heavens also, with all their starry host! When we examine these inspired doclarations of unquestionable truth in the light of modern astronomy_when we reflect on God as the sole author of innum. erable worlds and systems when we carry forward our ideas (as analogy affords'us sound reasons for doing) to the infinite variety of substance, life, and being, which those worlds, those systems, probably contain, we may indeed with reverence ac

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knowledge that he is, in the strictest sense of the terms, what Scripture declares him to be--ALMIGHTY. Nor can we fail o arrive at the same conclusion, when we examine nature with a microscopic eye, and dwell on the marvellous efficacy displayed by an ever-acting Deity in the production of a muscle or a nerve-in the formation of an insect, a feather, or a eaf! But the works of nature, according to the doctrine of Scripture, as well as the conclusions of reason, afford evi. dences not only of the power, but also of the wisdom of God. E

“ He bath made the earth by his power; he hath established the world by his wisdom ; and hath stretched out the heawens by his discretion :” Jer. x, 12. “ The Lord possessed Ene in the beginning of his way,” cries Wisdom in tbe Book of Proverbs, “ before his works of old ...... When he prepared he heavens; I was there ; when he set a compass upon the iace of the depth ; when he established the clouds above ; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the fountain of the earth; then I was by him, as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him:" ch. viii, 2230. E IV. As the original creation of all things is ever ascribed in the Scriptures to Jehovah, so do we learn from them that by him alone all nature is maintained in its appointed order, and in its wonderful course of perpetual reproduction. “ He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst...... He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart ......0 Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all! the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships : there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them, they gather; thou openest thy hand, they are filled with good. 'Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever : the Lord shall rejoice in bis works:" Ps. civ, 10.-31; comp. cxlvii, 15—20, &c. Infinite and unsearchable as is our Heavenly Father, every minute part of his creation is the object of his unfailing care. He clothes with radiance and beauty the “lilies of the field”--the grass which “ to-day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven :" Matt. vi, 29, 30.' “ Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing ?” said Jesus to his disciples, " and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your father :" Matt. x, 29.

V. Closely connected with the divine attribute of omnipotence is the unqualified and irresistible sovereignty which God exercises over all other beings. Paul has sublimely described the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, “ of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,” as “the blessed and only potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, por can see-to whom be honour and power everlasting :” 1 Tim. vi, 15, 16 “ The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom ruleth over all :Ps. ciii, 19. “ I bebeld," says Daniel, when relating his visions, “ till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool; his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him!vii, 9, 10. 66 ( come let us sing unto the Lord : let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation ...... for the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all Gods:" Ps. xcv, 1-3. reigneth; let the earth rejoice;" Ps. xcvii, 1.

« Behold the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing :" Isa. xl, 15. “ O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven, and rulest not thou over all the king; doms of the heathen ? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?” 2 Chron, XI, 6.

Nor is the wisdom of the Almighty to be discovered only in the works of creation; for, although his councils are often in comprehensible to our limited understanding, we are assured in the Scriptures that this divine attribute is the sure of the course of events—of the order of providence. be the name of God for ever and ever; for wisdom and might are his; and he changeth 'the times and the seasons: he to moveth kings and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdoin unto the

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