William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

The Essence of God

by William Ames

2. God, as He is in Himself, cannot be understood by any save
Himself. 1 Timothy 6:16, "Dwelling in that inaccessible light, whom
no man has seen or can see."

4. Since the things which pertain to God must be explained in a
human way, a manner of speaking called anqrwpopaqeia, anthropopathy,
is frequently used.

5. And because they are explained in our way for human
comprehension, many things are spoken of God according to our own
conceiving rather than according to his real nature.

8. What can be known about God are His sufficiency [sufficientia]
and efficiency, or working power [efficientia]. Romans 4:21, "Being
fully persuaded that He was able to perform that which He had

9. These are the two pillars of faith, the base of consolation, the
incitements of piety and the surest marks of true religion.

11. The sufficiency of God is the first reason why we believe in
Him: He is able to give us life, Romans 4:20, "He staggered not at
the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving
glory to God;"

12. The sufficiency of God is in His essence [essentia] and
subsistence, or manner of being [subsistentia].

13. The essence of God is that by which he is absolutely the first
being. Isaiah 44:6, "I am the first and the last, besides me there
is no god." Revelation 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13, "I am the Alpha and
Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."

31. The attributes of God tell us what He is and who He is.

36. He is said to live in Himself, because He receives neither being
nor life from any other source in any way.

37. Hence, the chief title of God, by which he is distinguished from
all idols, is that he is the living God, Deut 32:40, "For I lift up
my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever."; Psalm 84:2, "My soul
longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and
my flesh crieth out for the living God."; Jeremiah 5:2.

58. The will of God is single and totally one in Him.

59. The will of God is unchangeable because He always wills the same
and in the same manner, Psalm 33:11, "The counsel of the Lord
remains forever."

60. The will of God is eternal because He does not begin to will
what He did not will before, nor cease to will what He willed
before. Malachi 3:6, "I the Lord do not change."

62. The affections attributed to God in Scripture, such as love,
hatred, and the like, either designate acts of the will or apply to
God only figuratively.

66. The perfection of God whereby He is called blessed results from
all His attributes, 1 Timothy 1:11, "According to the glorious
gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust."


Promoting a Greater Understanding of the Discovery of the Americas