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Tuesday’s Puritan Book Review–A Golden Chain (Or) The Description of Theology By William Perkins (Chapter Three)

by Ernie on March 27, 2012

So far, Master Perkins has introduced to the Source of all theology—the Holy Scriptures.  Having thus begun, he then divides our knowledge of God (theology) into two fields: the knowledge of God’s person and works.  Chapter two introduced us to the perfection of God—in all that He is, He is absolutely, eternally, and infinitely perfect.  Therefore, God is the faithful God because He is perfect and therefore cannot change—He is immutable.  He is also spiritual (John 4:24John 4:24
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  

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, 2 Corinthians 3:172 Corinthians 3:17
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17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  

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).  God is without beginning or end (Colossians 1:15Colossians 1:15
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15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  

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, Psalm 90:2Psalm 90:2
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2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.  

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, Revelation 1:8Revelation 1:8
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8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.  

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), and His greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3Psalm 145:3
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3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. and his...: Heb. and of his greatness there is no search  

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, 1 Kings 8:271 Kings 8:27
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27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?  

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, Jeremiah 23:24Jeremiah 23:24
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24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.  

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).  God’s greatness and perfection teaches us that He is one, indivisible, and not many (Ephesians 4:5-6Ephesians 4:5-6
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5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  

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. Deuteronomy 4:35Deuteronomy 4:35
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35 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.  

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, 1 Corinthians 8:41 Corinthians 8:4
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4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.  

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).  It also teaches that He is everywhere present and therefore the knower of men’s hearts—“For nothing is hidden from that nature which is within all things and without all things, which is included in nothing, nor excluded from anything” (page 3 of the Puritan Reprints, A Golden Chain).

 

In chapter three, William Perkins now moves from the nature of God to the life of God.  God’s life is that by which his divine nature is in perpetual and continual action and motion.  God’s nature is especially operative in this divine motion and action in three things—His wisdom, will, and omnipotence.

 

God’s wisdom is that by which he distinctly, perfectly, and fully knows all things both in their nature and conduct.  For example, God not only perfectly knows what will be the actions of storm clouds, He also perfectly knows their makeup and interaction on the minutest level.  God not only knows what will be the actions of Kings, but he even holds and turns their hearts in His own hand (Proverbs 21:1Proverbs 21:1
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21 1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.  

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).  God’s wisdom is expressed biblically in terms of foreknowledge and counsel—God foreknows every aspect that will come to pass and by His sovereign counsels establishes that which He comes to foreknow.  That is, God sovereignly ordains whatsoever comes to pass and therefore perfectly foreknows because He it was that ordained every detail (Romans 11:36Romans 11:36
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36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. whom: Gr. him  

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)!

 

God’s will is “that by which he both most freely and justly with one act willeth all things” (page 4—see Romans 9:18Romans 9:18
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18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.  

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, James 4:15James 4:15
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15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.  

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).  God’s will can be seen in operation in several of His divine attributes.  God set His love on those for whom He died (Romans 5:8Romans 5:8
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8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  

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).  God sets His grace upon us in salvation (Romans 11:6Romans 11:6
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6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.  

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).  God wills His goodness even to the wicked and the righteous (Matthew 5:45Matthew 5:45
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45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  

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).  God wills His mercy to sovereignly elected vessels (Exodus 33:19Exodus 33:19
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19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.  

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).  God wills His justice in a twofold manner—as a reward to those who, in Christ, obey His Word (2 Thessalonians 1:6, 12 Thessalonians 1:6, 1
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6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians 1 1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:  

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Peter 1:17r 1:17
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17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.  

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, Jeremiah 51:56Jeremiah 51:56
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56 Because the spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the LORD God of recompences shall surely requite.  

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), and as wrath on those who are outside Christ (Romans 1:18Romans 1:18
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;  

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, John 3:36John 3:36
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36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.  

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).

 

We also see God’s life through the operation of His omnipotence—His wielding all power, that by which He is able to perform every work (Matthew 19:26Matthew 19:26
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.  

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).  God’s power, however always acts in a consistent manner with His holy nature (Titus 1:2Titus 1:2
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; In: or, For  

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, 2 Timothy 2:132 Timothy 2:13
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13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.  

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).  God’s power is twofold—absolute and actual.  God’s absolute power is “that by which he can do more than he either doth or will do” (page 7—see Matthew 3:9Matthew 3:9
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9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.  

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, Philippians 3:21Philippians 3:21
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21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.  

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).  His actual power is “that by which he causeth all things to be, which he freely will” (page 7—see Psalm 135:6Psalm 135:6
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6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.  

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).

 

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