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The Supreme Excellence of God.

The Supreme Excellence of God.

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Published by glennpease
BY THE REV. I SHEPHERD, D.D.


Matthew xix. 16, 17. — "And behold, one oime, and said unto him,
Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life t
And he^said onto him, Why callest thou me good f there is none good
but one, that is God."
BY THE REV. I SHEPHERD, D.D.


Matthew xix. 16, 17. — "And behold, one oime, and said unto him,
Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life t
And he^said onto him, Why callest thou me good f there is none good
but one, that is God."

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Published by: glennpease on Sep 18, 2013
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THE SUPREME EXCELLECE OF GOD.BY THE REV. I SHEPHERD, D.D.Matthew xix. 16, 17. — "And behold, one oime, and said unto him,Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life tAnd he^said onto him, Why callest thou me good f there is none goodbut one, that is God."The eternal Son of God knew perfectly what was inevery man who came nnto him in the days of his flesh.With far more accuracy and certainty than man can readthe character in the expression of the eye, or in the feat-ures of the face, did the omniscient Redeemer read thecharacter of the very soul itself, in its inward expressionand lineaments. Hence his answers to questions alwayshad reference to the disposition and temper of the ques-tioner. "Our Saviour Christ," says Lord Bacon, "notbeing like man, who knows man's thoughts by his words,but knowing men's thoughts immediately, he never an-swered their words, but their thoughts." Thus, when thechief priests and elders of the people came unto him as hewas teaching, and asked by what authority he did so, andwho gave him the authority, knowing that this questionwas not put from any sincere desire to learn the truth re-specting himself and his works, but from a wish to work him evil, he answered their question by asking them a ques-tion regarding the baptism of John — a question which,however they answered it, would condemn their past tre&t-Digitized by LiOOQ ICSUPREME EXCELLECE. 35
 
ment of John, and their present refusal to acknowledgehimself to be the Messiah of whom John was the fore-runner. Again, when one asked the question, "Are therefew to be saved ? " our Lord, knowing that an idle curiosityhad prompted it, answered by saying, " Strive to enter inat the strait gate ; for many, I say unto you, will seek toenter in, and shall not be able." So, also, in the answer of the Saviour to the young man who had come asking, "Whatgood thing shall I do that I may have eternal life ? " refer-ence is had to the state of the young man's opinions. OurLord knew that this youth did not look upon the personwhom he was addressing as God manifest in the flesh, butas a wise human teacher in the things of the law ; and thathe applied to him not as the Truth itself, and the Life it-self, but only as knowing, perhaps, some portion of infinitetruth, and as being able, perhaps, to point out the way toeternal life. Hence our Lord begins his reply by inquir-ing, "Why callest thou me good?" Instead of first cor-recting the young man's erroneous view of the nature andcharacter of the person to whom he was speaking, ho pro-ceeds as if it were a true one. " You consider me to be amere man ; why do you call any mere man good ? Whydo you address a creature as the Holy One? There isnone good but one, that is God."By this reply the Saviour intended to bring into the lightthe main error of the young man — the opinion, namely,that any man is good in and of himself. He desired toawaken in him a sense of sin, so that the self-righteousyouth might be delivered from his pride and self-satisfac-tion, and be led to look away from himself and his ownworks to God, the source and ground of all goodness ; andmore particularly to that Mediator between God and manwho then and there stood before him.This text, then, invites us to contemplate the jpv6-emv>
 
Digitized by LiOOQ IC86 THE SUPREMEnenoe of the Divine excellence over that of creatures, andto draw some inferences from the fact What, then, arethe senses in which " there is none good but one, that isGod?"I. In the first place, God is the only necessarily goodBeing. We naturally shrink from applying the conceptionof necessity to a free spirit ; bnt it is because we associatewith it the notion of external compulsion. God is notforced to be holy by an agency outside of himself, andother than his own ; and it is not in this sense that he isnecessarily good.But there is a necessity that has its foundation in thenature and idea of a thing, as when we say that a trianglenecessarily has three sides. We say that God is necessarilyexistent, not because he is forced to exist by something outof himself, but because the idea of an infinite and abso-lutely perfect Being implies necessity of being. A beingwho once did not exist, and who may become extinct, is afinite and imperfect being, and consequently not God. Inlike manner God is necessarily holy, because the concep-tion of infinite excellence excludes the possibility of apos-tasy and sin which attaches to finite virtue. Infinite holi-ness is immutable, and therefore infinite sinfulness isimpossible. God's will is one with his reason in such amode that the supposition of a schism and conflict betweenthe two contradicts the idea of God. In the case of a finitecreature, we can conceive of a conflict between the con-stitutional and the executive faculties without any altera-tion in the grade of existence ; but if the infinite Creatorfall into collision with himself, he is no longer infinite.Man's will may come into hostility to his conscience, andhe still remain human. Angels may fall, and still be

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