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Robert Milligan


In speaking of God, we must be very careful not to be wise above what is written. For “no man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him!” (Matt 11:27).


 True, indeed, it may be said, that “Something is, and therefore something eternally was.”  For as the ancients taught: “Ex nihilo, nihil fit“—from nothing, nothing comes. And hence it follows of necessity that something must have existed from eternity.


When, therefore, it is said, “The heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament showeth his handiwork,” (Psa. 19:1); and again, “ The invisible things of him, since the creation of  the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhood” (Rom. 1:20)—in all such passages, nothing more is intended than that such is the testimony of nature to him, to whom God has revealed himself, and whose mind is not blinded and perverted by sin.


To the Bible, then, we must look primarily and chiefly for a knowledge of the being, character, and attributes of God. In it we are taught all things that it is really necessary we should know concerning Him, in order, to our present and eternal well-being. Such, for example, are the following particulars:


That God is one. “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah?” (Deut. 6:4).


  1. That in this sublime and incomprehensible unity there is also embraced a threefold personality. This is evident from such passages as the Personality following: proved.
  2. From Genesis 1:1. It is true that in this verse the verb created (toil) is singular; but the name God (Eloheim) is plural. And hence it seems that the Holy Spirit labors even here, as it often does elsewhere, to guard the readers of the Bible against the extremes of both Polytheism and Unitarianism.
  3. A still more striking instance of this plurality in the Divine Unity occurs in Genesis 1:26. Genesis 1:26. “And God said, Let US make man in OUR image; after OUR likeness.” Here the name Eloheim, the pronouns “us” and “our”, and the verb “make”, all serve to reveal and to express the plurality of our Cre­ator in some sense. I know it is alleged by some that this language is used merely in imitation of the majestic style with regard to of kings; and by others, that this address was delivered to angels. But in reply to the first of these hypotheses, it is enough to say that no such majestic style was then in being. And with regard to the second, I need only remind the reader that angels are not creators, but simply creatures. God himself is the only Creator revealed to us in the Living Oracles. And hence we are constrained, by a fair and rational exegesis of this passage, to regard these words of the Holy Spirit as an expression of plurality in the Divine unity.
  4. Another very remarkable example of this Trinity is given in the formula of Christian Baptism. Matt. 28:19. “Baptize them,” said our Redeemer, “into the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Here there is clearly but one Divinity, and yet a threefold personality.
  5. Each of these three persons is called God in the Holy Scriptures. See 1 Cor.8:6; John 1:1 and Acts 5:3, 4.

I need not multiply examples and illustrations. The Divine Unity in one sense, and the Divine Plurality in some other and different sense, are both as clearly revealed in the Bible as anything else. And for us who believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, this is of course sufficient.  To reconcile fully these two attributes of the Divine nature and character, and to explain satisfactorily in what they severally consist, may, for aught we know, be above the capacity of the Archangel. Indeed, to do this may require a perfect knowledge of the Divine nature. Βut, of course, the finite cannot comprehend the Infinite (Job 11:7). Let us, then, not attempt to be wise beyond or above what is written; but let us humbly and gratefully receive this sublime truth as a matter of faith, just as we are compelled to re­ceive many other things that are clearly revealed in the three great volumes of creation, providence, and redemption.


It is also clearly taught in the Holy Bible, that God is Spirit (John 4:24); and, moreover that a spirit has not flesh and bones as we find in the human body (Luke 24:39). And hence it is only by a figure of speech (anthropomor­phism) that we ascribe any form of material organization to God.


That he is omniscient—a being of infinite knowledge. This is proved,

  1. By his works. He has weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.
  2. By prophecy. None but a being of infinite knowl­edge could have foretold what the Bible reveals to us.
  3. By the direct testimony of the Scriptures (Isa. 40:9, 10; Acts 15:18; Romans 16:27). Finite knowledge is nothing compared with that which is infinite.


That he is omnipotent. This is proved,

  1. By his works (Psalms viii and xix).
  2. By direct testimony (Genesis xvii:1; and Reve­lation iv:8).


That he is omnipresent (1 Kings viii:27; Psa. cxxxix:7-10; Jeremiah xxiii:23, 24; Acts xvii:27, 28).


That he is infinitely just. This is beautifully illustrated by Psalm lxxxix:14: “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne.”

And hence the death of Christ was necessary in order to the justification of the believer (Rom. 3:25; Luke 24:46).


That he is infinite in holiness. Isa. 6:3 and Rev. 4:8; 15:4.


That he is infinite in goodness; i. e., that in all cases he acts for the greatest good of the whole creation. Psalm cxlv, 9; and Matthew xix, 17.


That he is eternal; without beginning of days or end of life. Psalm xc, 2; and 1 Timothy i, 17.


That he is unchangeable. “With him is no variableness, not even the shadow of turning.” James 1:17.

That he is the Creator of all things (Prov, xvi, 4; Rom. xi, 33-36; Rev. iv, 11).

From these premises it follows:

  1. That God makes no experiments: that he never repents as man repents, (1 Samuel xv, 29,) and He is never disappointed in any issue or contingency that can possibly arise. And hence it fol­lows, that when God is said to repent, it is only by a figure (anthropopathy), in condescension to our imper­fections. See Genesis vi, 6.
  2. That his own nature is the Constitution of the universe; according to which all things Constitution of were created and all laws enacted.
  3. That his will is the only proper standard of rectitude (John iv, 34; and 1 Cor. vi, 20).


How long Jehovah existed alone, or at what epoch his creative voice first broke the silence of eternity, we have no means of knowing with absolute certainty. But it is probable that things material” were first created, and afterward such beings as are purely spiritual or of a mixed constitution. Be this as it may, it seems pretty evident from Gen­esis 1:1, that in the beginning, perhaps in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, all the matter of the entire universe was at once launched into being by a single and almighty fiat of Je­hovah. No subsequent readjustment of forces was neces­sary. At the simple command of the Great Architect, suns, and moons, and stars, and systems sprang into ex­istence. And though they were perhaps at first in a chaotic state, they immediately commenced their march sublime under the laws and forces of universal gravita­tion. “He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”


That this was an absolute creation of matter, and not a mere renovation of something previously existing, is evident, 1. From the context.  For,

  1. A mere change or renovation is ordinarily expressed by the the word ahsah and not by the word bahrah.
  2. The beginning of the Adamic renovation is evi­dently described in the third verse of this chapter.
  3. In Genesis 2:3, both the words bahrah and ahsah are used: the former to describe creation absolute, as in Genesis 1:1, and the latter to describe the Adamic renovation as it is given and explained in Genesis i, 3-31.
  4. From parallel passages.

John 1:1-3. In these words we are assured that “all things began to be (έγένετο) through the Word.”

Heb. 11:3. Here the apostle clearly distinguishes this primary and absolute creation of matter from all sub­sequent changes and renovations of the same by the state­ment that “the things which are now seen were not made out of things which do appear.” 

[This is from Robert Milligan’s book The Scheme of Redemption printed in (1868)]


 Recommended articles:

Introducing the Church of Christ – Ronny Wade

God’s Sevenfold Unity – Jerry Cutter

Repentance – J. W. McGarvey


The Ancient Faith website is a thematic collection of scholarly yet simple Bible essays and sermons, many of which were composed by Restoration preachers such as J.W. McGarvey, Moses Lard, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Campbell. These courageous men of faith through hours of Bible investigation studied themselves out of denominationalism, asking for “the old paths” (Jer. 6:16) and seeking to return to “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We hope you will join with these men in their fervent plea to restore “the ancient order,” “the ancient gospel” or, as it was sometimes called, “the ancient faith.”