Home > Systematic Theology > Attributes of God: Truth- Book 2- Chapter 2- Section 8

Attributes of God: Truth- Book 2- Chapter 2- Section 8

Book Second

CHAPTER II.

SECTION VIII. – TRUTH.

GOD IS A BEING OF INVIOLABLE TRUTH.[50]

The truth of God includes veracity and faithfulness: –veracity in his declaration of things as they are, and faithfulness in the exact fulfilment of his promises and threatenings. Men often err in their testimony from mistake of facts, and fail through inability to fulfil promises which they have made with honest intentions. The omniscience of God renders mistake with him impossible; and his omnipotence and unchangeableness render the fulfilment of his intentions certain. Truth, as a moral attribute, is the agreement of what is spoken with the mind of the speaker. We never charge men with want of veracity, when they err in their testimony through mere mistake; or with want of faithfulness, when they fail to fulfil their promises entirely from inability. God’s testimony is true, because it agrees perfectly with his view of things, and that this view agrees with the actual state of things, results, not from his truth, but his omniscience. His promises are true because they agree precisely with his intentions; and that these intentions are exactly fulfilled, results from other attributes, as has been explained. Truth is understood for the most part to refer to something spoken or written; but the truth of God may be understood, in a wider sense, to denote the agreement of all the revelations or manifestations which he has made of himself, with his mind and character.

Because God’s manifestations of himself are true, it does not follow that they are complete and perfect. He showed his glory to Moses; but it was only a part of his glory that he exhibited, because Moses was unable to bear the full display. All manifestations to his creatures are necessarily limited; and they are made as seems good in his sight. Our knowledge of God, which is necessarily imperfect because of our weakness, is often erroneous, through our misuse of the manifestations which he has made. So the heathen world, when they knew God, glorified him not as God, but changed the truth of God into a lie.

When men abuse the knowledge of God which they possess, and the means of knowledge which he has afforded them, it is not inconsistent with his character to give them up, in righteous judgment, to their own hearts’ lusts. Because they receive not the love of the truth, God shall send them strong delusions,[51] that they should believe a lie. So Ahab desired a false prophecy, and his prophets desired to gratify him, and God gave him up to be deceived.[52] This is expressed, in the prophetic imagery of Scripture, by his sending a lying spirit into the prophets. Ahab was deceived; but it was in spite of the true word of God, by the prophet whom he rejected. Jeremiah complains that God had deceived him; but this, in the most unfavorable construction that can be put on his language, amounts to nothing more than an impatient exclamation of the prophet, under a severe trial.

We can have no knowledge of God, except by the manifestations he has made of himself. When we receive these, however made, as expressing to us the mind and character of God, we exercise faith in God. But when we close our understandings and hearts against these manifestations, or, through disrelish of them, misinterpret them in any manner, we are guilty of the great sin of unbelief, which rejects the testimony of God, and makes him a liar.

[50] Deut. xxxii. 4; Ps. cxix. 142; John viii. 26; Rom. iii. 4; Tit. i. 2; Heb. vi. 18; Rev. iii. 7.

[51] 2 Thess. ii. 11.

[52] 1 Kings xxii.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

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