Tuesday, December 14, 2010

William Gouge On Seeing God

Gouge (link):

Sec. 150. Of believers seeing God.

The ground of Moses enduring as he did is thus set down, as seeing him who is invisible.

Of the word, ὁράω, translated seeing, see Chap. ii. 8, Sec. 68, and Ver. 9, Sec. 72.

It is here set down in a participle of the present tense, to declare a continued act.

This seeing must needs be meant of a spiritual sight by the eye of the soul, which is faith. For he whom he eyed is said to be invisible; but an invisible thing cannot be seen with a corporal eye. That would imply contradiction. For that which may be discerned with a bodily eye is visible; but visible and invisible are contradictory.

This particle, ὡς, as, is premised, not by way of diminution, as if it were a seeming to see, but rather by way of amplification. For,

1. This particle doth sometimes imply an identity and reality of a thing; and it is used to set forth the perspicuity and clearness thereof; as where it is said, 'the glory as of the only-begotten son of God,' John i. 14.

2. It implieth a kind of spiritual rapture, as if Moses had been rapt into the highest heaven, and there beheld God himself encouraging him in what he did.

This act of Moses giveth an instance of the virtue of faith, which is to set a man always before God. A true believer is like Enoch, who walked with God, and that continually, as the emphasis of the Hebrew word implieth, Gen. v. 24. 'I have set the Lord always before me,' saith a believer, Ps. xvi. 8. It was Abraham's speech, 'The Lord before whom I walk,' Gen. xxiv. 40.

God is the proper object of faith; the object wherein it delights; the object on which it rests; the object from whom it expects every good thing; the object to which it returns the glory of all.

Here behold the reason of a believer's courage. The world wonders at it, and no marvel, for it seeth not him whom believers see.

God's presence is that which emboldeneth believers, as here Moses was emboldened thereby. See more hereof, Chap. xiii. 6, Sec. 78.

Sec. 151. Of seeing him who is invisible.

This attribute, ἀόρατος, invisible, is derived from the former word, ὁράω, translated seeing; for a privative particle is joined with it, so as it implieth the contrary to seeing, even that which cannot be seen.

The epithet is attributed to God, Col. i. 15, 1 Tim. i. 17, and that in a double respect—

1. In regard of the divine substance, which is spiritual. Every spirit is invisible, Luke xxiv. 39; much more the purest spirit of all.

2. In regard of a divine property, which is to be incomprehensible, in which respect Christ saith, 'No man hath seen God at any time,' John i. 18; and he is said to 'dwell in the light which no man can approach unto,' 1 Tim. vi. 16.

1. This is a strong argument against all the conceits of anthropomorphites, who would make God like unto man. See more of those, Chap. i. 10, Sec. 133.

2. It is as strong an argument against all representations of God. God himself thus presseth this argument, 'Ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you,' Deut. iv. 15.

3. It is also against all apprehensions, in the mind, of God in the likeness of any visible object.

4. It shews that we must conceive God as he is revealed in his word. He, being invisible, is an object not for the eyes but for the ears, not for the brain but for the heart. The mystery of unity in trinity, and the divine properties, duly considered in the mind, will raise up a great admiration and a high esteem of God, and a due respect towards him.

5. This invisibility of God doth not keep him from seeing us. Though visible things cannot see things invisible, yet he that is invisible can and doth see them that are visible: ' The eyes of the Lord in every place behold the evil and the good,' Prov. xv. 3. No obstacle hindereth the sight of him who is invisible. How should this stir us up so to carry ourselves in all places, and at all times, and in all actions, as seen by him whom with our bodily eyes we see not! He that is invisible seeth thee, when thou neither seest him nor thinkest of him.

Sec. 152. Of faith raising a man above sense.

This joining together of things that seem to be contradictory, namely, seeing and invisible, in this phrase, seeing him who is invisible, giveth an evident proof of the vigour of faith in raising a man above sense.

On this ground, saith the apostle, 'whom having not seen, ye love, in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable,' 1 Peter i. 8. On this ground Christ himself pronounceth them blessed 'who have not seen, and yet have believed,' John xx. 29.

God's word is the proper object of faith; what God's word revealeth, faith believeth.

1. Hereby we have a demonstration of the excellency of faith. It is of an infinite capacity; for they are infinite and incomprehensible mysteries which the word revealeth, yet faith believeth them all; no grace is like unto it.

2. This sheweth the reason of faith's vigour in supporting against sense. It seeth beyond things seen and visible. God by many judgments seems to be angry; faith seeth him pacified in Christ. We are here in this world subject to many visible miseries; faith seeth a spiritual happiness in them, and a celestial felicity following upon them. - Our bodies putrefy in the grave, yet faith beholdeth a resurrection of them.

3. Hereby learn how sure a ground the martyrs had of suffering so much as they did, and that with constancy to the end. They saw (as Christ did, Heb. xii. 2) a joy that was set before them, which swallowed up the terror of all things sensible.

4. Have we not good and great reason to do what we can to get, keep, nourish, and strengthen faith!

Sec. 133. Of anthropomorphites.

The anthropomorphites* do hereupon err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God, in that they literally and properly apply to God such parts of men as are metaphorically, and only by way of resemblance, for teaching's sake, attributed to him. They feign God to themselves by a carnal cogitation to be after the image of a corruptible man, and that God is altogether a body, imagining that whatsoever is not a body is no substance at all. But they are much deceived, for spirits are not only true substances, but every way the most excellent substances; bodiliness doth but add grossness, heaviness, drowsiness, and sundry other weaknesses to a substance.

Concerning the members of God which the Scripture frequently mentioneth, that no man should believe that we, according to the form and figure of flesh, are like to God, the same scripture saith, that God hath wings, which we have not. Therefore when we hear of wings, we understand protection, Ps. ix. 4. So when we hear of hands, we must understand operation; and if the Scripture mentions any other like thing, I suppose it to be spiritually understood.