The Essence of God

Dr. William Ames (1576-1633)

The accommodating language of the Bible helps us to see the nature of God.

The Essence of God by Dr. William Ames

2. God, as He is in Himself, cannot be understood by any save Himself. 1 Timothy 6:16, “Dwelling in that inaccessible light, whom no man has seen or can see.”

4. Since the things which pertain to God must be explained in a human way, a manner of speaking called anqrwpopaqeia, anthropopathy, is frequently used.

5. And because they are explained in our way for human comprehension, many things are spoken of God according to our own conceiving rather than according to his real nature.

8. What can be known about God are His sufficiency [sufficientia] and efficiency, or working power [efficientia]. Romans 4:21, “Being fully persuaded that He was able to perform that which He had promised.”

9. These are the two pillars of faith, the base of consolation, the incitements of piety and the surest marks of true religion.

11. The sufficiency of God is the first reason why we believe in Him: He is able to give us life, Romans 4:20, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;”

12. The sufficiency of God is in His essence [essentia] and subsistence, or manner of being [subsistentia].

13. The essence of God is that by which he is absolutely the first being. Isaiah 44:6, “I am the first and the last, besides me there is no god.” Revelation 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

31. The attributes of God tell us what He is and who He is.

36. He is said to live in Himself, because He receives neither being nor life from any other source in any way.

37. Hence, the chief title of God, by which he is distinguished from all idols, is that he is the living God, Deut 32:40, “For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.”; Psalm 84:2, “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”; Jeremiah 5:2.

58. The will of God is single and totally one in Him.

59. The will of God is unchangeable because He always wills the same and in the same manner, Psalm 33:11, “The counsel of the Lord remains forever.”

60. The will of God is eternal because He does not begin to will what He did not will before, nor cease to will what He willed before. Malachi 3:6, “I the Lord do not change.”

62. The affections attributed to God in Scripture, such as love, hatred, and the like, either designate acts of the will or apply to God only figuratively.

66. The perfection of God whereby He is called blessed results from all His attributes, 1 Timothy 1:11, “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”