Tag Archives: A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity

“Gentler than all gentleness” by Heinrich Bullinger

“What can you fitly think of God,
He that is above all loftiness,
higher than all height,
deeper than all depth,
lighter than all light,
clearer than all clearness,
brighter than all brightness,
stronger than all strength,
more virtuous than all virtue,
fairer than all fairness,
truer than all truth,
greater than all greatness,
mightier than all might,
richer than all riches,
wiser than all wisdom,
more liberal than all liberality,
better than all goodness,
juster than all justice,
and gentler than all gentleness?

For all kinds of virtues must needs be less than He, that is the Father and God of all virtues: so that God may truly be said to be such a certain Being, as to which nothing may be compared.

For He is above all that may be spoken.”

–Heinrich Bullinger, Fiftie Godlie and Learned Sermons, Divided Into Five Decades, Containing The chiefe and principall points of Christian Religion, written in three severall Tomes or Sections (trans. H.I.; London: Ralph Newberie, 1587), 606-607. As quoted in Samuel D. Renihan, Deity and Decree (Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing: 2020), 26-27.

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“Redemption itself is a glaring instance of the mercy of God” by John Gill

“Mercy is displayed only in and through Christ. God outside of Christ is a consuming fire. It is only in Christ God proclaims His name, ‘a God gracious and merciful.’ (Ex. 34:6)

Christ is the mercy-seat, and throne of grace, at which men obtain mercy and find grace. He is the channel through which it flows, and through whom it, in its effects, is conveyed to the sons of men.

Redemption itself is a glaring instance of the mercy of God. Mercy resolved upon the redemption and salvation of the elect.

Being viewed as fallen in Adam, and as sinners, mercy provided a Redeemer and Saviour of them, and laid their help upon Him.

And mercy called Christ to undertake the work of redemption, and engaged Him in it.

Mercy sent Him in the fulness of time, to visit them, and perform it.

Mercy delivered Him up into the hands of justice and death, in order to obtain it, and it is most illustriously glorified in it.

Mercy and truth have met together, (Psalm 85:10), yea, Christ Himself, in His love and pity, has redeemed His people, (Isa. 63:9).

Complete salvation, and eternal life itself, flow from the mercy of God. He saves, ‘not by works of righteousness, but according to His mercy,’ (Titus 3:5).”

–John Gill, A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity: Or A System of Evangelical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures (vol. 1, London: Tegg & Company, 1767/1839), 1: 125, 127, 128.

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“God is infinitely perfect, infinitely blessed and happy” by John Gill

“God is infinite in all His attributes; and which are indeed, Himself, His nature, as has been observed, and are separately considered by us, as a relief to our mind, and helps to our better understanding it. And, perhaps, by observing some of these distinctly, we may have a clearer idea of the infinity of God.

His understanding is infinite, as is expressly said Psalm 147:5, it reaches to and comprehends all things that are, though ever so numerous; to the innumerable company of angels in the highest heavens; to the innumerable stars in the lower ones; to the innumerable inhabitants of the earth, men, beasts, and fowl; and to the innumerable creatures that swim in the sea; yea, not only to all that are in being but to all things possible to be made, which God could have made if He would; these he sees and knows in His eternal mind, so that there is no searching of His understanding, (Isa. 40:28), there is no end of it, and therefore infinite.

The same may be said of His knowledge and wisdom, there is a βαθος, a depth, the apostle ascribes to both; and which is not to be sounded by mortals, (Rom. 11:33); He is a God of knowledge, or knowledges, of all things that are knowable, (1 Sam. 2:3), He is the only and the all-wise God; and in comparison of Him the wisdom of the wisest of creatures, the angels, is but folly, (Job 4:18).

The power of God is infinite; with Him nothing is impossible; His power has never been exerted to the uttermost; He that has made one world, could have made millions; there is no end of His power, and His making of that, proves His eternal power, that is, His infinite power; for nothing but infinite power could ever have made a world out of nothing, (Rom. 1:20, Heb. 11:3).

His goodness is infinite, He is abundant in it, the earth is full of it, all creatures partake of it, and it endures continually; though there has been such a vast profusion of it from the beginning of the world, in all ages, it still abounds: there is no end of it, it is infinite, it is boundless; nor can there be any addition to it; it is infinitely perfect, (Psalm 16:2).

God is infinite in His purity, holiness, and justice: there is none holy as He is; or pure and righteous, with Him; in comparison of Him, the most holy creatures are impure, and cover themselves before Him, (Job 4:17, 18, Isa. 6:2, 3).

In short, He is infinitely perfect, and infinitely blessed and happy. We rightly give Him titles and epithets of immense and incomprehensible, which belong to His infinity. He is immense, that is, unmeasurable; He measures all things, but is measured by none; who can take His dimensions? They are as high as heaven, what canst thou do? Deeper than hell, what canst thou know? If the heavens above cannot be measured, and the foundations of the earth beneath cannot be searched out, how should He be measured or searched out to perfection that made all these? (Job 11:7–9, Jer. 31:37)

As there is an immeasurable height, depth, length and breadth in the love of God, (Eph. 3:18), so there is in every attribute of God, and consequently in His nature. His immensity is His magnitude, and of His greatness it is unsearchable, (Psalm 145:3), and therefore, upon the whole, must be incomprehensible.

His greatness not only cannot be comprehended and circumscribed by space, or in place, for the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him; but He is not to be comprehended by finite minds, that cannot conceive of Him as He is; His omniscience is too wonderful for them, and the thunder of His power who can understand? (Job 26:14)

Something of Him may be apprehended, but His nature and essence can never be comprehended, no not in a state of perfection; sooner may all the waters of the ocean be put into a nutshell, than that the infinite Being of God should be comprehended by angels or men, who are finite creatures.”

–John Gill, A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity: Or A System of Evangelical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures (vol. 1, London: Tegg & Company, 1767/1839), 1: 60-61.

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“God is a self-sufficient Being who needs nothing from outside Himself to support Himself or to make Himself happy” by John Gill

“God has one of His names, El Shaddai, which signifies He who is sufficient or all-sufficient. God is a self-sufficient Being, and needs not anything from without Himself to support Himself, or to make Himself happy.

He is the first of beings, the first and the last; before Him there was no God formed, nor will be any after Him: from everlasting to everlasting He is God. And therefore His existence is not owing to any, nor has He received any assistance or support from any.

Being self-sufficient, He must be self-subsistent. As He existed of Himself, and subsisted in and of Himself, millions and millions of ages, even an eternity, inconceivable to us alone, before any other existed, He must be self-sufficient, and as then, so to all eternity.

He is an infinite and all-comprehending Being. To what is infinite nothing can be added. If anything was wanting in Him, He would be finite; if there was any excellency in another which is not in Him, He would not be infinite, and so not God.

But being infinite, He is incomprehensible by others, and He comprehends in Himself all excellencies, perfections, and happiness. And therefore He is self-sufficient. ‘Who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? For of Fim, and through Him, and for Him, are all things,’ (Rom. 11:35-36).

God is the summum bonum, the chief good, and has all that is good in Him. He is good essentially, originally, and inderivatively. He is the source and fountain of all goodness. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17), and therefore He must have a fulness of goodness in Him sufficient for Himself, as well as for His creatures, and can receive nothing from them.

Otherwise, He would not be the independent Being He is: all have their dependence on Him, and all owe their being and the preservation of it to Him; but He depends on none; which He would, if He stood in need of, or received anything from them.

He is possessed of all perfections and is sufficiently happy in them. He is perfect and entire, wanting nothing, and therefore self-sufficient. He is the Fountain; creatures, and what they have, are streams. And it would be as absurd for Him to need them, or anything from them, as for the fountain to need its streams.

Besides, God in His divine persons, God, Father, Son, and Spirit, have enough within themselves, to give the utmost, yea, infinite complacency, delight, and satisfaction among themselves, and to one another, and had before any creatures were made, and would have had if none had been made, and so ever will.

The Father delighted in the Son, ‘the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.’ (Heb. 1:3) The Son delighted in the Father, before whom He was always rejoicing, when as yet no creature existed. And both in the blessed Spirit, proceeding from them, and He in them (Prov. 8:30), for creation adds nothing at all to the perfection and happiness of God, nor makes the least alteration in Him (Rev. 4:11).

God is an all-sufficient Being and has enough within Himself to communicate to His creatures. He is able to do whatsoever He pleases, to fulfill all His engagements and promises, and to do exceeding abundantly above all that men ask or think.

And so communicative and diffusive is His goodness, that it extends to all His creatures. And every good and perfect gift comes from Him, which is a proof of His all-sufficiency.

In His gifts of nature and providence, He gives life and breath and all things to His creatures, (Acts 17:25). A painter may paint as near to life as can be, and a sculptor may give a statue its just features, and frame its limbs in proper symmetry and proportion, but neither of them can give life and breath.

But God is sufficient to do this, and has done it: He breathed into Adam the breath of life, and gives life to all his posterity. So it is with great propriety that He is called the God of their life (Psalm 42:8).

And He is sufficient to support, maintain, and preserve the life He has given, and does, as long as He pleases, and to provide for men all the necessaries of life (Job 10:12, 12:10; Psalm 66:9).

God is all-sufficient in the communications of His grace. He is the God of all grace, and He is able to cause all grace to abound towards His people, and to supply all their wants out of that rich and glorious plenitude and all-sufficiency in Himself by Jesus Christ.

He has stored the covenant with all the blessings of grace. He has presented Christ, the head and mediator of it with all the blessings of goodness.

He has blessed His people in Christ with all spiritual blessings, and given them grace in Him before the world began. He caused the fulness of His grace to dwell in Him, which is always sufficient for them, sufficient for them in all ages and periods of time.

His grace in Christ is sufficient for them of all nations and kingdoms throughout the world, and for them in every state and condition of life, and for all believers, weak or strong.

And He has a sufficiency of it for all saving purposes: for their acceptance with God, and justification before Him; for the remission of their sins, and the cleansing of their souls, and for the supply of all their wants whilst they are in this state of imperfection.

And He has a sufficiency of it to communicate to them at all times: when they are called to service, ordinary or extraordinary, to do or suffer for His name’s sake; in times of affliction, temptation, desertion, and in the hour of death, to bear up under and carry them through all, and bring them safe to His kingdom and glory (John 1:14, 16, 2 Cor. 12:9, Phil. 4:19).”

–John Gill, A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity: Or A System of Evangelical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures (vol. 1, London: Tegg & Company, 1767/1839), 1: 170–175.

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“God is His own blessedness” by John Gill

“God is His own blessedness; it is wholly within Himself and of Himself: He receives none from without himself, or from His creatures; nothing that can add to His happiness; and He himself is the blessedness of His creatures, who are made happy by Him; whose blessedness lies in likeness to Him; which is begun in this life, in regeneration; when new-born souls are made partakers of the divine nature, is increased by sights of the glory of God in Christ, and will be perfected in the future state, when they shall awake in His likeness, and bear His image in a more perfect manner; and also it lies in communion with God; it is the happiness of saints now, and what they exult in, when they enjoy it, that their fellowship is with the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ; and it will be the blessedness of the New Jerusalem state, that the tabernacle of God will be with men, and He will dwell with them; and of the ultimate glory the saints shall then have, everlasting and uninterrupted communion with Father, Son, and Spirit, and partake of endless pleasures in the divine presence: and it will, moreover, lie in the vision of God: which, because of the happiness of it, is usually called the beatific vision; when they shall ‘see God for themselves, and not another;’ see Him as He is in Christ, and behold the glory of Christ; see no more darkly through a glass, but face to face, and know as they are known.”

–John Gill, A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity: Or A System of Evangelical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures (vol. 1, New Edition.; Tegg & Company, 1839), 1: 179.

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