by John Flavel
God is a Spirit
Quest. 4. WHAT is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
Q. 1. Can the nature of God be defined, so as men may express properly and strictly what God is?
A. No; Job 11:7. Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
We do then conceive most rightly of God, when we acknowledge him to be inconceivable; and therefore, one being asked the question, what God is? answered rightly; If I fully knew that, I should be a God myself; for God only knows his own essence.
Q. 2. How many ways are there by which men may know and describe the nature of God, though still with imperfect knowledge?
A. There are two ways of knowing God in this life. First, By way of affirmation; affirming that of God by way of eminence, which is excellent in the creature; as when we affirm him to be wise, good, merciful, &c. Secondly, By way of negation, when we remove from God, in our conceptions, all that is imperfect in the creature; so we say, God is immense, infinite, immutable; and in this sense we also call him a Spirit, i.e. he is not a gross corporeal substance.
Q. 3. How many sorts of spirits are there? and of which sort is God?
A. There be two sorts of spirits, created and finite, as angels and the souls of men are. Secondly, Uncreated, and infinite; and such a Spirit God only is, infinitely above all other spirits.
Q. 4. If God be a Spirit, in what sense are we to understand all those scriptures which speak of the eyes of the Lord, the ears and hands of God?
A. We are to understand them as expressions of God, in condescension to the weakness of our understanding; even as the glory of heaven is expressed to us in scripture by a city, and the royal feast. These shadows are useful to us whilst we are in the body; but we shall know him in heaven after a more perfect manner.
Q. 5. What may be inferred from the spiritual nature of God?
A. Hence learn, that it is both sinful and dangerous to frame an image or picture of God. Who can make an image of his soul, which yet is not so perfect a spirit as God is? And as it is sinful to attempt it, so it is impossible to do it; Deut. 4:15, 16. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake to you in Horeb, out of the midst of the fire; lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, &c.
Q. 6. What else may be inferred from thence?
A. That our souls are the most noble and excellent part of us, which most resembles God; and therefore our chief regard and care should be for them, whatever becomes of the vile body; Matth. 16:26. For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Q. 7. What further truth may be inferred hence?
A. That men should beware of spiritual sins, as well as of gross and outward sins; for there is a faithfulness of the spirit, as well as of the flesh; 2 Cor. 7:1. Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit; and as God sees them, so he greatly abhors them, as sins that defile the noblest part of man, on which he stamped his own image.
Q. 8. What also may be inferred from hence?
A. Hence we learn, that spiritual worship is most agreeable to his nature and will; and the more spiritual it is, the more acceptable it will be to him; John 4:24. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Externals in worship are of little regard with God; as places, habits, gestures, &c.
First, To superstitious men, Isa. 66:1, 2, 3.
Secondly, To children, that say a prayer, but mind not to whom, nor what they say,
Of God's Infinity
Quest. 1. WHAT is the sense and meaning of this word, infinity?
A. It signifies that which hath no bounds or limits, within which it is contained, as all created things are.
Q. 2. In how many respects is God infinite?
A. God is infinite and boundless in three respects.
First, In respect of the perfection of his nature; his wisdom, power, and holiness, exceed all measures and limits; as 1 Sam. 2:2. There is none holy as the Lord, &c. Secondly, In respect of time and place; no time can measure him; Isa. 57:15. Thus saith the high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity; 1 Kings 8:27. Behold the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee, how much less this house which I have built? The heaven of heavens contains all created things; but not the Creator. Thirdly, In respect of his incomprehensibleness, by the understanding of all creatures; Job 11:7. Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?
Q. 3. If God be thus infinite, and no understanding can comprehend him, how then is it said in 1 John 3:2. We shall see him as he is?
A. The meaning is not, that glorified saints shall comprehend God in their understandings; but that they shall have a true apprehensive knowledge of God; and that we shall see him immediately, and not as we do now through a glass darkly.
Q. 4. What is the first lesson to be learnt from God's infinity?
A. That therefore men should tremble to sin even in secret; Psal. 139:11. If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me.
Q. 5. What is the second instruction from hence?
A. The second instruction is, That there is an infinite evil in sin, objectively considered, as it is committed against an infinite God; and therefore it deserves eternal punishment: and no satisfaction can possibly be made for it, but by the blood of Christ; 1 Pet. 1:18. Forasmuch as ye know that we are not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold——but with the precious blood of Christ.
Q. 6. What is the third instruction from God's infinity?
A. The third instruction is, that those who are reconciled to God in Christ, need not fear his ability to perform any mercy for them; for he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, Eph. 3:20. And those that are not reconciled are in a very miserable condition, having infinite power set on work to punish them; 2 Thess. 1:9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
Q. 7. What is the fourth instruction from God's infinity?
A. That no place can bar the access of gracious souls to God; They are as near him in a dungeon, as when at liberty; and that he knows their thoughts when their tongues cannot utter them.
Quest. 1. WHAT is it to be eternal as God is? A. The eternity of God is, to be without beginning, and without end; Psal. 90:2. From everlasting thou art God.
Q. 2. How doth God's eternity differ from the eternity of angels, and human souls?
A. It differs in two respects; First, In this, that though angels, and the souls of men shall have no end; yet they had a beginning, which God had not. Secondly, Our eternity is by gift from God, or by his appointment; but his eternity is necessary, and from his own nature.
Q. 3. In what sense is the covenant called the everlasting covenant?
A. The covenant is called an everlasting covenant, 2 Sam. 23:5 because the mercies of it, conveyed to believers, as pardon, peace, and salvation, are mercies that shall have no end.
Q. 4. In what sense is the gospel everlasting?
A. The gospel is called the everlasting gospel, Rev. 14:6 because the effects thereof, upon the soul it sanctifies, will abide in them for ever.
Q. 5. In what sense is the redemption of Christ called the eternal redemption?
A. The redemption of Christ is called eternal redemption in Heb. 9:12 because those whom he redeems by his blood, shall never more come into condemnation; John 5:24. He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.
Q. 6. Why is the last judgment of the world by Christ called eternal judgment?
A. The last judgment is called eternal judgment, not because God judged men from eternity, or because the day of judgment shall last to eternity; but because the consequences of it will be everlasting joy or misery to the souls of men; therefore it is called eternal judgment; Heb. 6:2.
Q. 7. What may wicked men learn from the eternity of God?
A. Hence wicked men may see their own misery in the perfection of it; that they will have an eternal enemy to avenge himself upon them for ever, in the world to come; 2 Thess. 1:9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord.
Q. 8. What may good men learn from it?
A. That their joy and happiness will be perfect and endless, who nave the eternal God for their portion; Psal. 16:11. In thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Q. 9. What may all men, good and bad, learn from it?
A. All men may learn three things from the eternity of God; First, That their life is a thing of nought compared with God; Psal. 39:5. Mine age is as nothing before thee. Secondly, That sins, or duties, long since committed, or performed, are all present before God. Thirdly, That God can never want opportunity to do his work, and carry on his designs in the world. All time is in the hand of the eternal God; Rev. 12:12. The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Of God's Unchangeableness
Quest. 1. WHAT scriptures plainly assert this attribute?
A. Exod. 3:14. And God said unto Moses, I AM that I AM. Dan. 6:16. For he is the living God, and stedfast for ever; Jam. 1:17. With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Q. 2. Whence doth God's immutability flow?
A. The immutability of God flows from the perfection of his nature, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken away. If any thing could be added to make him better than he is; or if any thing could be taken away, to make him less good than he is, then he were not the chiefest good, and, consequently, not God.
Q. 3. By what other argument prove you his immutability?
A. I prove it from the eternity of God. If God be eternal, he must be immutable: for if he change by addition of something to him he had not before, then there is something in God which he had not from eternity: And if he change by diminution, then there was something in God from eternity, which now is not; but from everlasting to everlasting he is the same God, and therefore changeth not.
Q. 4. But it is said, God repents, and repentance is a change: How then is he unchangeable, and yet repents?
A. In these phrases God speaks to us, as we must speak of, and to him; not properly, but after the manner of men: and it only notes a change in his providence, not in his nature.
Q. 5. But how could God become man, and yet no change made on him?
A. There is a twofold change; one active, made by God, that we allow: He made a change upon our nature by uniting it to Christ; but a passive change made upon God, we deny. The nature of man was made more excellent, but the divine nature was still the same.
Q. 6. What is the first instruction from God's immutability?
A. That those that are most unchangeable in holiness, are most like God: Let him that is holy be holy still.
Q. 7. What is the second instruction hence?
A. That the happiness of God's people is firm and sure, being still upon the word of an unchangeable God; Mal. 3:6. For I am the Lord; I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed, Heb. 6:18.
Q. 8. What is the third instruction from this attribute?
A. That the hopes of all wicked men are vain, being built upon a presumption, that God will not deal with them as he hath threatened he will do.
Q. 9. What is the last instruction from God's immutability?
A. That Christians may take as much encouragement now from the nature, word, and providence of God, as the saints in any former generation did, or might do; for he is the same now he was then.
Of God's Wisdom
Quest. 1. HOW manifold is the wisdom of God?
A. There is a personal and essential wisdom of God; the personal wisdom is the Son of God; 1 Cor. 1:24. Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God; Col. 2:3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The essential wisdom of God is, the essence of God; of which this question speaks.
Q. 2. What is the essential wisdom of God.
A. The essential wisdom of God is his most exact and perfect knowledge of himself and all his creatures, and his ordering and disposing them in the most convenient manner, to the glory of his own name; Eph. 1:11. According to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
Q. 3. What is the first property of God's wisdom?
A. The first property is, he is only wise; Rom. 16:27. To God, only wise, be glory: And whatsoever wisdom is in angels, or men, is all derived and borrowed from God, but his from none; Isa. 40:14. With whom took he counsel? and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
Q. 4. What is the second property of God's wisdom?
A. The second property is, that he is incomprehensible in his wisdom; Rom. 11:33, 34. O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, &c.
Q. 5. What is the third property of the wisdom of God?
A. The third property is, that God is perfectly wise, which no creatures, no, not the very angels in heaven are: Job 4:18. And his angels he chargeth with folly.
Q. 6. What is the most glorious and eminent discovery of the wisdom of God?
A. The most glorious display of the wisdom of God, was in the work of our redemption by Jesus Christ; Col. 2:3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; 1 Cor. 1:24. Christ the wisdom of God.
Q. 7. What is the first instruction from God's wisdom?
A. The first instruction is, that God is a fit object of our trust, dependence and resignation; Isa. 30:18. And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgment; blessed are all they that wait for him.
Q. 8. What is the second instruction from hence?
A. The second instruction is, that it is a dangerous arrogancy in the creature, either to prescribe unto God, and direct his Maker; Job 21:22. Shall any teach God knowledge, seeing he judgeth those that are high? Or to quarrel with his providences, as not so fit and convenient as they should be; Job 40:2. Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.
Q. 9. What is the third instruction from it?
A. That the people of God have much reason to quiet and encourage themselves, when crafty and subtle enemies surround them; for the foolishness of God is wiser than men, 1 Cor. 1:25.
Q. 10. What is the fourth instruction from God's wisdom?
A. The fourth instruction is, that the true way to wisdom is to be sensible of our own folly; 1 Cor. 3:18. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. And to apply ourselves by prayer to God the foundation of it, Jam. 1:5. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God.
Q. 11. What is the last instruction from God's wisdom?
A. That the study of Christ, and of the scriptures, is to be preferred to all other studies in the world; Col. 2:3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And the scriptures contain all that wisdom which is for our salvation; 1 Cor. 2:7. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory.
Of God's Power
Quest 1. WHAT is the power of God?
A. An essential property of his nature, whereby he can do all things that he pleases to have done; Jer. 32:17. Ah Lord God, behold, thou hast made the heavens and the earth by thy great power and stretched-out arm; and there is nothing too hard for thee.
Q. 2. What evidences have we before our eyes of the almighty power of God?
A. It appears in the creation of the world; Rom. 1:20. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. And its sustentation; Heb. 1:3. Who upholdeth all things by the word of his power.
Q. Did God's power ever act its utmost?
A. No; he can do more than ever he did, or ever will do; Mat. 3:9. God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham, Mat. 26:53.
Q. 4. Are there not some things which God cannot do?
A. Yes, there are; but they are such things as are inconsistent with his truth and holiness; Tit. 1:2.——which God, that cannot lie; 2 Tim. 2:13. He cannot deny himself.
Q. 5. What is the first thing inferred from God's power?
A. That all the creatures necessarily depend on him for what ability they have; and without the permission of the supreme power they can do us no hurt; John 19:11. Thou couldest have no power against me, except it were given thee from above.
Q. 6. What is the second inference from hence?
A. That the difficulties which lie in the way of the promises need be no stumbling-blocks to our faith; Rom. 4:20, 21. He staggered not at the promises through unbelief, being fully persuaded, that what he had promised he was able also to perform.
Q. 7. What is the third inference from this attribute?
A. The saints need not to be scared at the greatness of their sufferings; their God can carry them through; Dan. 3:17. Our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.
Q. 8. What is the fourth inference?
A. That the salvation of God's people is certain, whatever their dangers be, being kept by this mighty power; 1 Pet. 1:5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Q. 9. What is the last inference hence?
A. That the state of the damned is inconceivably miserable; their punishment proceeding from the glory of the Almighty? 2 Thes. 1:2. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power.
Of God's Holiness
Quest. 1. HOW manifold is the holiness of God?
A. The holiness of God is twofold; communicable, or incommunicable; of his communicable holiness the apostle speaks, Heb. 12:10. But he, for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Of his incommunicable holiness that scripture speaks, 1 Sam. 2:2. There is none holy as the Lord.
Q. 2. What is the essential and incommunicable holiness of God?
A. It is the infinite purity of his nature, whereby he delights in his own holiness, and the resemblance of it it his creatures, and hates all impurity; Hab. 1:13. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.
Q. 3. What is the first property of God's holiness?
A. He is essentially holy: Holiness is not a separable quality in God, as it is in angels and men; but his being and his holiness are one thing.
Q. 4. What is the second property of God's holiness?
A. God is essentially holy, the author and fountain of all communicated holiness; Lev. 20:8. I am the Lord which sanctifieth you.
Q. 5. What is the third property?
A. That the holiness of God is the perfect rule and pattern of holiness to all creatures; 1 Pet. 1:16. Be ye holy, for I am holy.
Q. 6. What is the first instruction?
A. That the holiest of men have cause to be ashamed and humbled when they come before God; Isa. 6:3, 5. And one cried unto another, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. Then said I, Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, &c.
Q. 7. What is the second instruction from God's holiness?
A. That there is no coming near to God without a Mediator; for our God is a consuming fire.
Q. 8. What is the third instruction from God's holiness?
A. That holiness is indispensably necessary, to all those which shall dwell with him in heaven; Heb. 12:14. And holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
Q. 9. What is the fourth instruction from hence?
A. That the gospel is of inestimable value, as it is the instrument of conveying the holiness of God to us; 2 Cor. 3:18. But we all with open face, beholding as it were in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord: John 17:17. Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.
Q. 10. What is the last instruction from God's holiness?
A. That all the despisers of, and scoffers at, holiness, are despisers of God; for holiness is the very nature of God; and in the creature it is his represented image.
Of God's Justice
Quest. 1. WHAT is the justice of God?
A. The justice of God is the perfect rectitude and equity of his nature; whereby he is just in himself, and in all his ways towards the creatures; Deut. 32:4. He is the rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without iniquity: just and right is he.
Q. 2. What is the first property of God's justice?
A That it infinitely excels all human justice in the perfection of it. No creature can compare in justice with God; Job 9:2. How shall man be just with God?
Q. 3. What is the second property of God's justice?
A. That he is universally righteous in all his administrations in the world; Psal. 145:17. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
Q. 4. What was the greatest demonstration of the justice of God, that ever was given to the world?
A. The greatest evidence that ever was given of the justice of God, was in his exacting full satisfaction for our sins of Christ; Rom. 3:25, 26. Whom God hath set forth, to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. To declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus, Rom. 8:32. He spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all.
Q. 5. What is the second discovery of God's justice?
A. The second discovery of the justice of God, is in the eternal punishment of sin in hell upon all that do not repent, and come to Christ by faith, in this world; Rom. 2:5. But after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
Q. 6. What is the third evidence of God's justice?
A. The third evidence of the justice of God, is in making good all the mercies he hath promised to believers, exactly to a tittle; 1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 2 Tim. 4:8. Hence-forth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at that day.
Q. 7. What is the first inference from God's justice?
A. That sinners have no cause to complain of God's judgments, though they be never so terrible or durable; Rom. 2:5. But after thy hardness, and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
Q. 8. What is the second inference from God's justice?
A. That without doubt there is a judgment to come in the next life, otherwise God would not have the glory of his justice; Eccl. 3:16, 17. I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there; I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous, and the wicked.
Q. 9. What is the third inference from God's justice?
A. That penitent and believing sinners need not doubt of the forgiveness of their sins; 1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Q. 10. What is the last inference from it?
A. The last inference is, that meekness and patience under afflictions, is our unquestionable duty; and murmuring against God, is a great sin and evil; Lam. 3:39. Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?
Of God's Goodness
Quest. 1. WHAT is the goodness of God?
A. It is an essential property of his nature, whereby he is absolutely and perfectly good in himself, and the fountain of all communicated goodness to the creature; Psal. 119:68. Thou art good, and dost good, teach me thy statutes.
Q. 2. How doth the goodness of God differ from the mercy of God?
A. It differs in its objects; for misery is the object of mercy; but goodness extends to the creatures that are happy, as well as miserable, as the angels; Psal. 145:9. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Q. 3. What is the first property of God's goodness?
A. That all his other attributes flow out of it as their fountain: the other acts of God are but the effluxes of his goodness; Exod. 33:19. And he said I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee, and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy unto whom I will shew mercy. Exod. 34:6. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
Q. 4. What is the secondary property of the divine goodness?
A. That it is supreme and perfect in itself, so as the goodness of no creature is, or can be; Luke 18:19. None is good save one, and that is God: And consequently above all additions from the creature; Psal. 16:2. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, My goodness extendeth not unto thee.
Q. 5. What is the third property of God's goodness?
A. That it is communicative with pleasure and delight to the creature: no mother draws out her breast to an hungry child with more pleasure than God doth his goodness to the saints; Psal. 145:9. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Q. 6. In what acts hath God manifested his goodness?
A. He hath manifested it in the creation and government of the world; Psal. 104:24. O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all.
Q. 7. What was the principal work in which God hath manifested his goodness to men.
A. The principal manifestation of God's goodness was in the work of redemption by Christ; Rom. 5:8. God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us 1 John 4:9. In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Q. 8. But are not the judgments of God on the wicked, and his afflictions on the saints, impeachments of his goodness.
A. No; it is the property of goodness to hate and punish evil in the impenitent; Exod. 34:7. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty, &c. And the affliction of the saints flow from his goodness, and end in their true and eternal good; Heb. 12:6. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth, Psal. 119:71. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.
Q. 9. What may we infer from the goodness of God?
A. The first thing is, that sin hath made our natures base and disingenuous, in that we take no notice of his goodness; Isa. 1:3. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider, and answer not the design of it; Rom. 2:4. Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.
Q. 10. What is the second inference from the goodness of God?
A. That therefore God is the fittest object of our delight and love, and of our trust and confidence, (1.) Of our delight and love; Psal. 116:1. I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice, and my supplications. (2.) Of our trust and confidence; Psal. 34:8. O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Q. 11. What is the third inference from God's goodness?
A. That Christians should imitate God in his goodness, in love to our enemies; Matth. 5:44, 45. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.
Q. 12. What is the last inference from God's goodness?
A. That Christians have great encouragement to go to God for pardon in case of sin; Psal. 130:4. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared; and for refuse in dangers. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; he knoweth them that trust in him, Nahum 1:7.
Of God's Truth
Quest. 1. WHAT is the truth of God?
A. It is an essential property of his nature, whereby he is perfectly faithful in himself, and in all that he hath spoken; Deut. 32:4. He is the rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he, Psal. 119:142. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
Q. 2. What is the first property of Divine truth?
A. The first property of it is, That it is essential and necessary to God: He cannot lie, Titus 1:2.
Q. 3. What is the second property of it?
A. The second property is, That it is everlasting, and abiding to all generations, Psal. 100:5. For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations. Isa. 25:1. O Lord, thou art my God, I will exalt thee——thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
Q. 4. What is the third property of Divine truth?
A. The third property is, that he is universally true in all his words and works. (1.) In all his words; John 17:17. Thy word is truth. (2.) In all his works; Psal. 25:10. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, unto such as keep his covenant.
Q. 5. What is the first lesson from God's truth to be learnt?
A. That truth and sincerity of heart is that which is most suitable and pleasing to God; Psal. 51:6. Behold thou desirest truth in the inward parts.
Q. 6. What is the second lesson from God's truth?
A. That whatever God hath foretold shall assuredly come to pass, and be fulfilled in his time; Josh. 23:14. Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord our God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.
Q. 7. What is the third lesson from the truth of God?
A. That a promise from God is full security to the faith of his people, and they may look upon it as good as a mercy in hand; Heb. 10:23. For he is faithful that promised.
Q. 8. What is the fourth lesson from God's truth?
That whatever God hath threatened in his word against sinners shall surely come upon them except they repent; Zech. 1:6. But my word, and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned, and said, like as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us. Ezek. 12:27, 28. The word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord God.
Q. 9. What is the fifth lesson from God's truth?
A. That falsehood in words and actions is contrary to God's nature, and abhorred by him; John 8:44. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do; he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there was no truth in him; when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own? for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Q. 10. What is the last lesson from God's truth?
A. The day of judgment will rightly and justly state every man's condition; Rom. 2:2. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
Of One God
Quest. 5. ARE there more gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.
Q. 1. How doth it appear that there is but one God?
A. It is evident from scripture there is but one God; Deut. 6:4. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Jer. 10:10 but the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, and an everlasting King: and as scripture reveals no more, so reason will allow no more.
Q. 2. Why will reason allow no more but one God?
A. Because God is the first being; Rev. 1:11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and there can be but one first being, and God is the most perfect and excellent being; Psal. 71:19. Thy righteousness, also, O God, is very high, who hath done great things: O God, who is like unto thee? And there can be but one most perfect and excellent being.
Q. 3. But doth not the scriptures say, in 1 Cor. 8:5 that there are gods many, and lords many?
A. Yes; there are many in title, and many in opinion, but one only in truth; Jer. 10:10. But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting King.
Q. 4. why is he called the true God?
A. To distinguish him from the idols and false gods of the heathens; 1 Thes. 1:9. How ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God. Acts 14:15. We preach unto you, that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.
Q. 5. Why is he called the living God?
A. Because all life, natural, spiritual, and eternal, is in him, and from him only. First, Natural life; Acts 17:28. For in him we live, and move, and have our being. Secondly, Spiritual life; Eph. 2:1. You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. Thirdly, Eternal life in glory; Col. 3:4. When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Q. 6. What is the first instruction from hence?
A. If but one God, then all his children should be of one heart, having one and the same Father; Eph. 4:5, 6. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Q. 7. What is the second inference from hence?
A. That it is idolatry to perform worship to any other but God only; Psal 86:9, 10. All nations whom thou hast made, shall come and worship before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name, for thou art great, and dost wondrous things, thou art God alone.
Q. 8. What is the third inference from it?
A. That our supreme love is due to God only, and it is very sinful to place it in any other; Deut. 6:4, 5. Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Q. 9. What is the fourth inference from God's unity?
A. That God only must have the reliance and dependence of our souls; Jer. 17:5, 7. Thus saith the Lord, cursed be the man that trusteth in man, that maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.
Q. 10. What is the last inference from it?
A. That we have great cause to be thankful for the gospel, which discovers the only true God to us; and that we are not as the heathens, worshipping many and false gods; 1 Cor. 8:5, 6. 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 him.
Of Three Persons in the Godhead
Quest. 6. HOW many persons are there in the godhead?
A. There are three persons in the godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
Q. What mean you by the word, godhead?
A. It is the nature, essence, or being of God, as the apostle speaks, Acts 17:29. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art, and man's device.
Q. 2. what is a person in the godhead?
A. It is the godhead distinguished by personal properties; each person having his distinct personal properties; Heb. 1:3. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, upholding all things by the word of his power.
Q. 3. How doth it appear there are three persons, and no more?
A. First, From Christ's baptism; Mat. 3:16, 17. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water, and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending, like a dove, and lighting upon him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
Q. 4. How else in the second place, doth it appear?
A. From the institution of our baptism; Mat. 28:19 Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Q. 5. What is the third proof from scripture?
A. From the apostolical benediction; 2 Cor. 13:14. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the holy Ghost, be with you all, Amen: Where the three distinct blessings are wished from the three divine persons in the godhead, grace from Christ, love from the Father, and communion with the Spirit.
Q. 6. What farther evidence is there of it in scripture?
A. From plain positive assertions of the scripture, asserting, First, A trinity of persons Secondly, A unity of essence? 1 John 5:7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.
Q. 8. What is the first instruction from the trinity?
A. That the doctrine of the gospel concerning Christ, is fully confirmed and ratified by three witnesses from heaven, who are above all exceptions; 1 John 5:7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.
Q. 8. What is the second instruction from the trinity?
A. Hence we learn the true order and manner of worshipping God, in the Son; John 16:23. Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he shall give it you. And by the Spirit; Eph. 6:18 Praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.
Q. 9. What is the third instruction from the trinity?
A. That the covenant of grace conveys a rich portion to believers in making over all three persons to them; Jer. 31:33. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my law into their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Q. 10. What is the fourth instruction from the trinity?
A. That as it is the duty of all the saints to give distinct glory to the three persons in the Godhead; so it will be a special part of their blessedness in heaven, to contemplate the distinct benefits received from them all; Rev. 1:5. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth; unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.
From An Exposition of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism by John Flavel