The texts of Scripture which directly teach the spirituality of God, are few. It may be inferred from Isaiah 31:3: “The Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.” The foundation of the parallelism, in this passage, is that God is a spirit. It may be inferred, also, from, the language of Scripture, in which God is called the Father of spirits: “We have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9).
A father and his children possess a common nature, and, as the fathers of our flesh, are flesh, so, the Father of our spirits, is spirit. There is one passage which teaches the doctrine expressly, “God is a spirit” (John 4:24); and this would be sufficient to prove it, if it were taught nowhere else.
It is no objection to the doctrine of God’s spirituality, that bodily parts, as hands, feet, eyes, &c., are ascribed to him. These are manifestly mere accommodations of language, because we have no words more suitable to express the operations of the divine mind. If it were inadmissible to speak of God’s eyes, because he has not material organs of vision, as we have, it would also be inadmissible to speak of God’s seeing, because he does not see by means of material light, as we do; or to speak of God’s thinking, because his thoughts are not as our thoughts.
The practical use of this doctrine is taught by Christ: “God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). In offering him homage, it is not sufficient to come before him with a bended knee, or a prostrate body; but our minds, our spiritual nature, must render the homage, or it will be unacceptable to him.
The spirituality of God is the foundation of the second commandment in the Decalogue: “Yoi shall not make unto you any graven image, or the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:4, 5). The reason assigned for this commandment is, that the Israelites saw no form when God manifested His presence to them at Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 4:12-18). He appeared to them in cloud and fire. A pillar of cloud and fire went before the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness, as a token of the divine presence. This token appeared at the tabernacle; and afterwards in the temple built and dedicated by Solomon.
God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. We are not to understand from these things, that God is either cloud or fire. These are material, and not spiritual substances. As what is purely spiritual cannot be perceived by our bodily senses, God was pleased to employ these material symbols to give a sensible demonstration of this presence. For the same reason, he sometimes presented himself in human form. In all these material manifestations of himself, which are recorded in the Old Testament, there is reason to believe that it was the second person in the Godhead, who thus exhibited himself; the same that afterwards appeared in human flesh, in the person of Jesus Christ. He is called the Angel of the Lord, the Angel of the Lord’s presence, and yet he is called Jehovah; and the reverence due to Jehovah is claimed for him. A created angel is not entitled to this name, or this honor; but they both belong to the Son of God, the Angel of the Covenant, who, after his incarnation, was God manifest in the flesh. This opinion is confirmed by the teachings of the New Testament: “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared him” (John 1:18). Of the Father, Jesus says, “You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape” (John 5:37); and He said to his disciples, “He who has seen me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9). A comparison of these passages may satisfy us, that all the manifestations of the deity to human senses, whether visible or audible, were made in the person of the Son, or Word of God.
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