God, with whom our salvation originates, is a spiritual Being, Eternal, Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Infinite, True, Merciful, Holy and Just.
50. All that can be said concerning our well-being rests upon these three points, viz:
the knowledge of God,
the will of God, and
the works of God,
the first of which points is to occupy as now, that we might be enabled to know that God, to whom we owe our existence, and who is the only and principal source of our happiness.
51. The knowledge of God forms an important part of the christian religion, it being an earnest of a future life, as we find it designed in book of Wisdom. 15, 3: “for to know thee, (God) is perfect righteousness; yes to know thy power is the root of immortality.” And the Lord Jesus says: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” John. 17 3.
52. During this our earthly existence this knowledge can be but imperfect and in parts, “for now we see through a glass, darkly, 1. Cor. 13, 9. 12. It is nevertheless, our duty, in as far as it has pleased Him to reveal Himself to make ourselves acquainted, with His character. We have therefore to inquire:
a) what is the nature of God?
b) whether there is more than one God?
c) who is the true God?
in order that we might not be tempted to “change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man”, Rom. 1, 23, or to “give His glory to another”, or “His praise to graven images”, Isa. 42, 8.
53. Concerning the first question “what the nature of God is” there is with this in reality another question expressed, namely, what are we to imagine, when we think of God? To give an answer to this question is by no means easy, since our conceptions are mostly accessible but to earthly subjects, and such as can be comprehended by our senses.
We learn in His word as much concerning God, that He is a Spirit, Eternal, Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Infinite, True, Merciful, Holy and Just. More we are not able to learn. Nor are we at all fit to comprehend any thing of God, except by His attributes, of which a great many are mentioned, but out of which the selection of the following ten will suffice.
54. A. God is a Spirit; He has nothing like flesh and bone; “a spirit hath no flesh and bone”, Luk. 24, 29. Now God is a Spirit, as we are taught by the Lord Jesus, Joh. 4, 24; and, accordingly, when speaking of a Spirit it is implied, that with reference to God we are not to imagine anything bodily; but that we should divest our mind of this Idea. For just as the Angels, as well as the hitman souls, are spirits, divested of every thing bodily, so God is also a Spirit, though one of greater purity and perfection than either of them. [A Spirit is a Being, which is possessed of reason and will, and which is conscious of its own existence; this is applicable, to God in the highest sense of the word: He is the Spirit of all Spirits, the living and personal God].
55. B. God is Everlasting; this attribute is given to Him, Genes. 21, 33. Abraham called upon the name of the Everlasting God. The divine Being is called, Rom. 1, 20: the eternal Godhead, Rom. 16, 26; 1. Timoth. 1, 17. The word Eternal includes three things:
a. That, with God, there is no beginning; Pslm. 40, 2: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting.” He therefore calls himself the first and the last, before whom nothing has been formed, Isa. 41, 4; 43, 10; 44, 6; 48, 12.
b. That with God there is no end; He inhabits eternity, Isa. 57, 15; He “alone hath immortality“, 1. Tim. 6, 16. He is “an everlasting king, Jerem. 10, 10; — Pslm. 102, 26. 27 “they (the heaven and the earth) shall perish, but thou remainest; yea all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou remainest, and thy years shall have no end.” Daniel. 6, 26 “the God of Daniel is a living God, and stedfast forever, and his kingdom that, which shall not be decoyed, and his dominion shall be ever unto the end.”
c. That God is not subject to the changes of time or or age; therefore Pslm.40, 4. “for a thousand years in thy sight, are but as yesterday when it is past.” Now the Yesterday, is passed, and therefore [to us, as it were] as no time at all, and thus a thousand years are before God like no time at all. This is still more clearly expressed in the 2. Epistle of Peter 3, 8: “one day is with the Lord like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day,” which would have no meaning at all, if God had not been without the limits of time.
If we therefore say that God is Everlasting, we express with this: that with God there is neither beginning, nor end, nor change of time; His nature remains unchangeably the same, throughout all ages.
56. C. God is Almighty. This is frequently mentioned in scripture, Genes. 17, 1; 28, 3; 35, 11; 43, 14; 48, 3; 49, 25; Exod. 6, 3; 2. Cor. 6, 18; Revel. 1, 8; 16, 7. This attribute is expressly declared to belong to God alone. Numb. 11, 23; Isa. 50, 2; 59, 1. “the hand of the Lord is not shortened” etc. “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” Eph. 3, 20; “His hand and power, who can hinder Him,” Job. 11, 10; Isa. 14, 27; Acts. 11, 17. “He giveth to whom soever he will,” Daniel 4, 32. From this we learn, that in the case of God’s teaching, promising or threatening anything, we ought not to measure his power according as nature appears to us; and although the accomplishment of the same might appear impossible to us, we ought not consider it to be so to God, Zach. 8, 6; Mat. 19, 26; Luk. 1, 37.
57. D. God is Omniscient, that is:
a. All future events are known to him; “thou understandest my thoughts afar off,” Pslm. 139, 2. The prophet Isaiah accordingly, concludes from the fact of the idols not knowing the things of the future, that they were no Gods, 41, 22. 23: “let them bring them forth and show us what shall happen; let them show the former things, what they may be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us the things for to come; show the things that are to come here-after, that we may know that ye are gods.”
b. There is nothing hid from him, whatever may take place: be It done hidden or openly, so that He is even able to discern the innermost parts of our hearts and know even that which man is most desirous to keep secret, “men looketh at the. outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart,” 1 Sam 16, 7; “the righteous God trieth the hearts and the reins” Ps 7 9; O Lord of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart,” Jerem. 20, 12; “the eyes of the Lord are ten thousand times brighter than the sun, beholding all the ways of men, and considering the most secret parts,” Eccles (Sirach). 23, 19; “He that planted the ear, shall he not hear, He that formed the eye shall he not see?” Pslm. 94, 9.
58. E. God is Omnipresent, Jerem. 23, 23. 24: “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Do not fill heaven and earth;” 1. King 8, 27: “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee;” Ps. 139, 7. ff: “Whither shall I go from they spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall they hand lead me, and they right hand shall hold me.”
59. But with this assertion it is not attempted to say, that God can be any how included (circumscribed) within any of His creatures, as little as He can be said to be entirely excluded from them; We are not able to comprehend how it can be said of God, that He is Omnipresent, since it is established that He is a Spirit, and can therefore possess neither substantial parts nor members. But is it not our conviction, that the human soul is a spirit, which although it cannot be made subject to division, is yet present in every part of the body, without our being able to assign a sufficient reason for it? Why should we then object to the doctrine, that the divine Being is Omnipresent, although we might not be able to discern and express exactly how this could possibly come to pass.
It follows naturally that, as God is Omnipresent, He is also
60. F. Immeasurable and Infinite; which expressions imply that the divine Being cannot be circumscribed; for whilst every creature is liable to the influences of measure and boundary, no limits whatsoever cam be put to the divine Being.
61. G. God is True; because He always fulfils all His promises, Eom. 3, 4: “let God be true, but every man a liar;” Ps. 33,4: “the word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done in truth;” 1, Sam. 15, 29: “the Strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent; for he is not a man that he should repent;” Heb. 6, 18: “It was impossible for God to lie.” — Thus Joshua, on the occasion of his alluding to the promises, which God had given to the people of Israel, extols his God in the following manner: 23, 14, “Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you: all are come to pass unto you and not one thing hath failed thereof.” We should therefore never for a moment suppose, that God would deal with us unjustly. And as He gives us in His word assurances of his mercy, we need not suspect, that with reference to this point He has secretly formed a different determination — as did, for instance, Cain, when speaking kindly to his brother, at the moment he meditated his destruction.
62. H. God is Merciful; this gives frequently a subject of praise to scripture. “I know that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness and repentest thee of the evil,” Jon. 4, 2; — Exod. 34, 6; Nehem. 9, 17;
Ps. 103, 8; Joel. 2, 13; Micha 7, 18. 19. “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy; he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea;” Lament. 3, 22. 23: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion, fail not; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness; Eccles. (Sirach), 2,23: “for as his majesty is, so is his mercy.”
63. I. God is Holy; Levit. 19, 2: “ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am also holy;” 1. Sam. 2, 2: “there is none holy as the Lord;” Rev. 15, 4: “Who shall not fear thee O Lord and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy.” — Upon this attribute is founded the song of the Angels and the redeemed, who are crying one to another “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts,” Isa. 6, 3; Revel. 4, 8.
64. God is Just; Ps. 11, 7: “For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness;” Ps.119, 137: “Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments;” Deutr. 32, 4: “He is a rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth
and without iniquity, just and right is he;” Ps. 7, 11: God judges the righteous etc.” — And it is for the same reason that Solomon writes in the Proverbs. 17, 15. “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are an abomination to the Lord.” These are some of the principal attributes, by means of which we might acquire some knowledge, respecting the divine Being, and concerning the question, what God is. Although a number of others are also spoken of in the Bible, yet those which have been adduced seem to be sufficient, to confer a correct idea concerning all that is requisit to be known respecting God and His nature.