Three sermons concerning the sacred Trinity by John Wallis.
Wallis, John, 1616-1703.

CHARACTER II.

The next Character I shall insist upon, is that where∣by God denotes himself to Moses, Exod. 3.13, 14, 15. I Am that I AM; and I AM hath sent me unto you. When God was sending Moses to the Children of Israel, in order to their deliverance out of Egypt, Moses puts this Question, When I come to the Children of Israel, and shall say them, The God of your Fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say, What is his Name? What shall I say to them? 'Tis certainly, therefore the True God, that is here spoken of: Let us see what is the Character that this God gives of himself. And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: And he said, Thus shalt thou say to the Children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. This therefore is a proper Character of the True Page  75 God. I am that I am, (Ehjeh asher Ehjeh,) or I am, who AM; or I am, He who AM, so the vulgar Latin; (Ego sum QVI SVM;) and (QUI EST) He that IS, hath sent me: As if, what God says of himself (in the first Person) I that AM, were proper for Moses to say of him (in the third person) He that IS. And so the Septuagint, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I am, He that AM, or He that IS; and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉(He that IS) hath sent me. Where simply TO BE, is made a Distinctive Character of God, as he whose Essence is To be; and it is Impossible for him Not to Be. Who IS of Himself (or rather Himself IS) without deriving ought from any other; and from whom all other Beings, have their Being. Who giveth to all, life and breath and all things; In whom we live and move and have our Being, Act. 17.27, 28. Who hath first given to him? that is, None hath: He receives no∣thing (aliunde) from ought else; but of him, and through him, and to him are all things, Rom. 11.35, 36. who is therefore called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.

The same notion the Heathens also had of the Su∣preme God. Hence Aristotle calls him 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Being of Beings; and Plato〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the self Being; who himself IS, and gives Being to all else.

And (being thus self-existent) he must be also a Ne∣cessary Being (Ens Necessarium) and Eternal, (for if ever he had not been, it were impossible he should ever Be; for how could Nothing make it self to be:) and like∣wise Infinite (as the Source of all Being.) All which the Heathen acknowledged (as consonant to Natural Light) as well as We.

Now this same Character I Am, or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (which is the word whereby the Greek Septuagint doth here ren∣der the Hebrew word Ehjeh, which we translate I AM) that is I who AM, or He who IS, we find signally ap∣plied to Christ, Rom. 9.5. He that IS. For what there Page  76 we render, Who IS, in the Greek is not 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, He that IS, or the Being: With this addition, over all; (the Being, over all, or the Supreme Being:) with this further Character, God Blessed for ever; (or the ever blessed God.) Amen.

Where it is not amiss to note, that the Blessed (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) was an usual Title whereby they were wont to de∣sign the True God. And accordingly, that question which Caiaphas the High Priest, puts to our Saviour, Mat. 26.63. I adjure thee by the Living God, that thou tell us, whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God; is in Mark 19.53. Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Where no man doubts but that by 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, is meant, the Supreme God. And when Christ is here call∣ed, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, (the Su∣preme Being, the ever-Blessed God;) with the Solemn note of Asseveration, Amen: It is certainly too August a Title for any less than the Supreme God, the Only God.

The same Character we have of him again, Rev. 1.8. where we have not only the Title 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, importing his Being, but the additional intimation of his Eternity, through all the variety of continued Duration, past, pre∣sent, and to come.

Where we are to observe, that at ver. 4. we have this Character of Godndefinitely, without restriction to this or that Person in the Deity, (as appears by its being con∣tradistinct to Christ personally considered, ver. 5.) Grace be unto you and peace, (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) from him which Is, and which Was, and which is to come,— and from Jesus Christ, &c.

Where it is manifest from the unusual construction, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉&c. that the Title 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, (who is and was, and shall be) is taken, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as the Grammarians speak, (as one undeclined-Sub∣stantivePage  77 joined with the Article 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) as being (all toge∣ther) one joint title of God, Indefinitely taken, (because of that contradistinction which follows; And from Jesus Christ;) and with particular respect (as the Margin of our Bible directs) to that of Exod. 3.14. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I am〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or He who AM; and can relate to none but the Supreme God.

Now what is thus said of this God indefinitely, at ver. 4. is again repeated of Christ in particular at ver. 8. (with a further addition of Omnipotence,) I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending (the First and the Last) saith the Lord, which Is, and which Was, and which is to Come; the Almighty. So that he is here design'd, not only by his Absolute Being; but by his Eternity also, through all variety of continued duration, (past, present, and fu∣ture;) who Is, and Was, and shall Be; who was the First (before whom nothing was) and the Last (after whom nothing shall be;) and, by his Omnipotence, the Al∣mighty.

The same title of Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, is given him in divers other places; as at ver. 11, and 17. of the same Chapter, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last; I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen. And Rev. 2.8. The first and the last, which was dead and is alive. And again, Rev. 21.6. and Rev. 22.13. All relating to Isai. 41.4. Isai. 44.6. Isai. 48.12. where the like had before been said, as a Character (no doubt) of the True God. And Isai. 43.10. Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

And what can this be other than the Infinite, the E∣ternal, the Almighty God. The same yesterday, and to day, and for ever, as he is called, Heb. 13.8. The Blessed, and only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, who only hath Immortality, &c. as he is described, Page  78 1 Tim. 6.14, 15, 16. And again, The King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, Rev. 17.14, and Rev. 19.16. The Great God, and our Saviour, Tit. 2.13. Where, our Savi∣our, is so contra-distinguished, not as another from the Great God, but as another Title of that same Person: He that is our God and Saviour, or God our Saviour, as it is Tit. 3.4. (like as God and the Father, Ephes. 5.2. and again, Col. 3.17. Giving thanks to God, and the Father.) For 'tis manifest that here (Tit. 2.13.) it is spoken of Christs coming to judgment; which is here called, the Glorious appearance of the Great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ; that is, the glorious appear∣ance of Jesus Christ, who is the Great God and our Saviour; The title that Jeremy gives to God, Jer. 32.18. The great and mighty God, the Lord of Hosts is his name. Christ therefore, our Saviour, is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Great God.

And the Doxology there added, Rev. 1.6. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen; is equi∣valent to that of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Rom. 9.5. God bles∣sed for ever. And the like, 1 Tim. 6.16. To whom be Honour and Power everlasting, Amen. And much more, that of Rev. 5.12, 13, 14. Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain, to receive Power, and Riches, and Wisdom, and Strength, and Honour, and Glory, and Blessing: (As High a Doxolo∣gy as that in the close of the Lords-prayer;) To which we have the Acclamation of every Creature (which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the Sea, and all that are therein,) saying, Blessing, Honour, Glory, and Power, be unto him that sit∣teth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four Beasts said, Amen; And the four and twenty Elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. Too great things to be said of a mere Creature, or a Titular God; but very agreeable to Christ, being (as he is) the same God with the Father, the only True God.

Page  79I might here add a like Remark, on that of Isai. 48.12. Hearken O Israel, I am HE; I am the First, I am also the Last. And in like manner, Isai. 41.4. Isai. 43.10, 13, 25. Deut. 32.39. I, even I, am HE (Hu) and there is no other God with me, or beside me. (And to the same purpose elsewhere.) Ani Hu; I am HE; so we render it.

I am HE; What HE? 'Tis 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. 'Tis the HE Absolutely taken, and Emphatically applied to God. Which I take to be of like import with, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I AM; I that Am, or That which IS.* The Greek Septuagint (in the places cited) renders Ani Hu by 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: And the vulgar Latin (indifferently) by Ego Page  80 Sum, Ego Ipse, Ego Sum Ipse, Ego Ipse Sum: That is, I am He, or I AM. And Christ, of himself, Joh. 8.58. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Before Abraham was, I AM. And I the rather take it so to signify (in the places cited) because I there find it attended (exegetically) with an In∣timation of his Eternity; He Is, He is the First and he is the Last; Before him none Was, and after him none shall Be: He Is, and ever Was, and ever shall Be.