Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

pressed by an eye, and knowing by seeing: so that the words import thus much, that God most clearly discerns and knows all things and actions, as the eye manifestly beholds those objects that are fully presented to its view. There are many other places in scripture that richly hold forth God's omniscience, but in a point so evident, these two may suffice.

Our second proof is from reason; and here our first argument shall be drawn from his works of creation and providence. It is impossible that he that made all things should not also know all things. Who is it that cannot readily acknowledge and read his own hand ? What artificer is there that does not presently know and distinguish his own work? In all rational agents, before every action there is presupposed a knowledge of the thing that is to be produced by that action. So that if we grant (as I suppose none denies) that God is the maker of all things, that every creature dropped into the world through his hands, we cannot be so absurd as to deny him a distinct knowledge of those things, which with his own finger he made and fashioned. Next, his providence sufficiently declares his omniscience : if he manages, rules, and governs all things, yea sin itself, sometimes by permitting, sometimes - by limiting or preventing, other times by punishing it, it clearly follows, that he has full cognizance of those things, since all these acts presuppose knowledge.

Now, from the consideration of this attribute, since it is our duty to be like our heavenly Father, let us endeavour also to resemble him in knowledge. As it is the perfection of God to know all things, so it is the excellency of man to know any thing aright.

Bb

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

VOL. VI.

Ignorance, it is the dishonour of our nature; and he that continues in it, what does he but erect a certain kingdom of darkness in his soul ? But of all knowledge, that is the most excellent, upon which depends our eternal interest; I mean, our knowledge of God in Christ : in comparison of which, God gives a very slight character of all things besides. What more desirable in the eyes of the world than riches ? What more excellent than strength, more to be admired than wisdom ? Yet what says God of all these, Jer. ix. 23, 24, Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches : but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord, that exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth. So that this is a knowledge that does not only surpass strength and riches, before which the very heathens could prefer their poor knowledge of nature; but it is such a knowledge, in comparison of which the very wisdom of men is folly. Consider also, that this is the sure way to everlasting life; so sure, that in scripture it is called everlasting life itself, in John xvii. 3, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Observe likewise, as this knowledge is called eternal life, so, on the contrary, the Spirit of God calls ignorance eternal death ; John iii. 19, And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light. Now if there can be any greater argument to a rational soul, to pursue after this knowledge, than the obtaining eternal

ļife, let that soul neglect it; and, on the other hand, if there can be any stronger motive to woe à man out of his ignorance, than avoiding damnation, let him hug his ignorance as a desirable thing: let him embrace a cloud, and refresh himself under the shadow of death. But consider this, you that are ignorant of God, ignorant in the midst of teaching ordinances. O how dreadful is it, to enjoy precious means of knowledge, and only to be proficient in ignorance! As long as thou art destitute of this spiritual light and knowledge, thou art to the Devil as Samson to the Philistines without his eyes, thou must go whither he will lead thee, grind in his mill, and undergo all the slavish drudgery of sin, that a malicious Devil, that hates thy soul, can put thee to. But, on the other side, knowledge, as it makes thee in a true sense a man, so this saving knowledge of God makes thee more than a man, that is, a Christian. And remember, as the preposterous desire of knowledge was the first cause of man's unhappy fall, so the pursuit of this spiritual knowledge must be the first occasion of his recovery.

Thus far the arguments by which we prove God's omniscience : pass we now to the second thing, which is to shew the excellency of God's knowledge, above the knowledge either of men or angels.

And this appears, 1st, From the properties of this knowledge. 2dly, From the object.

1st, Concerning its properties. The first property holding forth the excellency of this knowledge, is the exceeding evidence, and consequently the certainty of it; for though a thing may be certain, and yet not evident, yet whatsoever is evident, that also is certain. Evidence brings a property emanent

[ocr errors]

from the essence and being of knowledge ; it follows, that that which includes the nature of knowledge in an infinite manner, must be also attended by a most infinitely clear evidence. He that causes that innate evidence in every object, by which it moves and strikes the faculty, shall not he see? He that gives light to the eye, by which that evidence is discerned, shall not he discern? The great intellectus agens, that by shining upon our understandings causes us to understand, shall not he himself understand much more clearly ? John i. 9, it is said of Christ, in respect of his deity, that he is the true Light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. It is elsewhere said of God, that he is the Father of lights. Indeed, the knowledge of man, upon the greatest improvements, retains a great mixture of ignorance; and all his labour, all the travail of his soul in the pursuit of science, is not able thoroughly to work out that darkness of mind which he brought with him into the world : but now God is not only light, but such a light as with him there is no darkness at all. And thus it is clear, that the best of human knowledge is not able to contest with the divine. But yet may not the angels, those sons of light and knowledge, those near resemblances of their Creator, may not they at least vie with the divine knowledge? Why, no. For even the angels stoop down and pry into the mysteries of God, and particularly that of the incarnation, as it is in 1 Pet. i. 12. Therefore they do not fully and evidentially know them, for these are the postures, not of those that know already, but of those that endeavour to know. But now God must needs know this great mystery, for he contrived it. In Job iv. 18, he is

said to charge his angels with folly. Certainly then he must have a transcendently perfect wisdom, far excelling theirs. From hence, therefore, we see, that the knowledge of God, even as to its clearness and pregnant evidence, is unconceivably beyond the knowledge of men or angels.

2dly, Another property of this knowledge, shewing the excellence of it, is this, that it is a knowledge independent upon the existence of the object or thing known. Man indeed receives nothing into his understanding but through his senses; and sense has nothing but what it fetches from the object. Take away sounds, and there will be no hearing; deprive us of light, and there will be no seeing. But now God beholds all things in himself; and that both eminently, as he sees his own perfection, which eminently includes all the perfection that is scattered among the creatures, as the light of all the stars is contained eminently in the sun; and he beholds them also formally, distinctly, and according to the model of their own proper beings, without looking upon the existence of the things themselves, and that two ways.

1st, By reflecting upon his power, and what he can do; he has a perfect knowledge of all possibilities, and of things that may be produced.

2dly, By reflecting upon his power and his will; he knows whatsoever shall be actually produced. For upon the concurrence of God's will with his power there is nothing else requisite, but the thing does immediately result. This is the constitutive knowledge which gives being to the thing known; in which sense it may be truly said, that God does not therefore know things because they are or may be,

« AnteriorContinuar »