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What are the things relating to the nature of God, the knowledge of which is necessary to salvation?
They are the following :-first, That God is; secondly, That he is one only; thirdly, That he is eternal; and fourthly, That he is perfectly just, wise, and powerful
What is it to know that GOD IS ?
It is to know, and be firmly convinced, that there actually exists a Being who possesses supreme dominion over all things 3.
What is it to know that God is ONE ONLY?
This you may of yourself easily understand—that there cannot be more beings than one who possess supreme dominion over all things. But do not the Scriptures teach that there are
2“Perfectly happy,"ought, I think, to be added here: for it is necessary this should be believed concerning Ges by those who hope for perfect happiness from him hereafter. M. RUARUS.
3 The existence of God ought to be treated of here : but this our Catechism presupposes. If any person should desire to see the proofs on this subject stated, he may consult Crellius's work “De Deo et ejus Attributis.” And also the “ Institutiones Theologicæ" of Episcopius and Curcellæusd.-Ben. Wis
d[Crellius's learned treatise on God and his Attributes, above referred to, may be found among his collected works in the Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum : and the Institutions of Episcopius and Curcellæus, severally in the folio editions of their works. The English reader may consult on this topic, Dr. Sam. Clarke's “ Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God:” and also “ The Being and Attributes of God Demonstrated," by Henry Knight, A.M. This excellent work was published after the author's death, and ushered into the world under the powerful recommendation of Drs. Benson, Lardner, and John Taylor. Transl.]
Though Though they do indeed assert this, yet it is not in that sense in which they proclaim and declare that there is one only God, -namely, he who possesses supreme dominion, derived from no other being, and consequently circumscribed by no limits. But by Gods they mean to designate those who received what divinity they had from that one God, upon whom, as their head, they depended: thus in the following passages, Psalm lxxxii. 1. and 6: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the Gods.” “ I have said ye are Gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.” John x. 34, 35: “ Is it not written in your law, I said ye are Gods? If he called them Gods unto whom the word of God came,” &c. For nothing forbids but that the one God may communicate, and may have communicated, of his dominion and authority to others, notwithstanding the Scriptures assert that he is the only potentate and king. 1 Tim. vi. 15.
But why do the Scriptures thus speak?
Because that he alone has dominion of himself, and is the head of all things; while all other beings are dependent upon him, and exercise their derived domi. nion solely through his kindness : on which accounts, also, it is stated that he is the only wise God," " who alone hath iminortality,” and that “there is none good but he.” Rom. xvi. 27. Jude 25. 1 Tim. vi. 16. Matt. xix. 17.
What is it to know that God is Eternal ? .
That he is without either beginning or end; that he always has been, and always will be; in so much
that he cannot but be and exist perpetually. Hence it is that in the Scriptures he is styled INCORRUPTIBLE and IMMORTAL.
What is it to know that God is perfectly Just ?
That in all his measures he pursues rectitude; that he is the furthest possible removed from all wickedness, and therefore from every kind of injustice. Truth and faithfulness form also properties of his justice.
What is it to know that God is perfectly Wise?
That he not only, in a general way, knows all things, but is also intimately acquainted with every single thing, even the most secret; that he understands likewise how to order his counsels, proceedings and works in the fittest possible manner, and to apply them to the accomplishment of his pleasure.
What is it to know that God is supremely Powerful?
That he is able to perform whatever he may will.
Is God then able to perform only those things which he wills ?
I do not say which he wills, but which he MAY WILL, that is, whatever he CAN WILL. For the power of God extends to all things whatsoever, or that do not involve what is termed a contradiction.
Wherefore is the knowledge of all these things necessary to salvation ?
Because, without an acquaintance with them we should not be able to enter upon the way of salvation; or, at least, not to persevere in it to the end. By this consideration, principally, it is, that the necessity of this knowledge is to be estimated.
Show me how this appears with respect to each of them separately ?
In relation to the first—who does not perceive that it is necessary to salvation to believe in the existence of God ? for unless we do this, we cannot believe that there is any way of salvation, or any religion at all. Hence the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews observes (chap. xi. 6) that “he that cometh to God must believe that he is.”
How do you prove the second particular, that God is one, to be necessary to salvation ?
Unless we believe God to be but one, we shall be led to worship more Gods; which, as I shall show hereafter, is contrary to the way of salvation. For if God be not one only, we cannot love him with heart, and soul, and strength.” On which account the Scriptures frequently admonish us of this truth, that God is one. Thus Moses proclaims, (Deut. vi. 4.)
Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord:"-a declaration which is repeated by our Lord, Mark xii. 29. So again, (Deut. iv. 35.) “ The Lord he is God, there is none else.” And Deut. xxxii. 39, “ See now, that I, even I, am he, and there is no God with (or besides) me.” To these testimonies may be added the following: 1 Cor. viii. 4, 5, 6, “ There is none other God but one; 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.” 1 Tim. ii. 5 : “ There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” Ephes. iv, 6 : “ There is
one God and Father of all.” Gal. iii. 20: " But God is one.”
How is the knowledge of the Eternity of God necessary to salvation ?
Unless we believe God to have been without beginning, we shall be led to infer that he was produced by some other Being, and be induced to worship that other Being as the supreme God. And if we do not believe that he will endure for ever, how can we hope to receive from him eternal life, to which we are conducted by the way of salvation?
How does it appear that a knowledge of the Justice of God is necessary to salvation ?
That to believe that God is perfectly just is necessary to salvation, is manifest from hence: first, in order to convince us that he will certainly accomplish whatever he has promised, how unworthy so ever we may be of his bounty: and, secondly, that we may be incited to bear, with unruffled minds, the trials which, after having entered on the way of salvation, we must needs encounter, together with all other adversities and disappointments ; feeling convinced that these things can be in no respect unjust since they are permitted by God.
How do you prove the same in respect to the perfect Wisdom of God?
To believe that God is perfectly wise is hence necessary to salvation,—that we may harbour no doubt that even our hearts, which are of all things the most difficult to be scrutinized, and from which, principally, the value of our obedience will be estimated, are at all