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ties; perhaps you wish we could make you comprehend, in a clear and distinct manner, how it is possible that such immense objects can be always present to the Supreme Intelligence? but what mortal tongue can express such sublime truths, or what capacity is able to conceive them! On this article, we are obliged with our prophet to exclaim, such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is high: I cannot attain unto it! ver. 6. In general, we
. conceive that the sphere of divine knowledge is not contracted by any of the limits that confine the spirits of mankind.
The human spirit is united to a portion of matter. Man can perform no operation without the agitation of his brain, without the niotion of his animal spirits, without the help of his senses. But the brains wearies, the spirits evaporate, the senses are blunted, and the minutest alteration of body, clogs the most penetrating and active genius. But God, as we have represented him, thinks, under'stands, meditates, without brain, without spirits, without any need of senses; not participating their nature, he never participates their alteration, and thus hath intelligence immediately from the treasure of intelligence itself.
The spirit of man owes its existence to a superior spirit, to a foreign cause, to a Being who gives him only such ideas as he thinks proper, and who hath been pleased to conceal numberless mysteries from him. But God, God not only does not owe his existence to a foreign cause, but all that exist derive their existence from him. His ideas were the models of all beings, and he hath only to contemplate himself perfectly to know them.
The spirit of man is naturally a finite spirit; he can consider only one circle of objects at once, many ideas confound him; if he would see too much,
he sees nothing, he must successively contemplate what he cannot contemplate in one moment. But God is an infinite spirit; with one single look he beholdeth the whole universe. This is the first idea of the omnipresence of God. As I am accounted present in this auditory, because I see the objects that are here, because I am witness of all that passes here; so God is every where, because he sees all, because veils the most impenetrable, darkness the most thick, distances the most immense, can conceal nothing from his knowledge.--Soar to the utmust heights, fly into the remotest climates, wrap thyself in the blackest darkness, every where, every where, thou wilt be under his eye. Whither shall I go from thy spirit ? or whither shall. I flee from thy presence.
But, 2. The knowledge of God is not a bare knowledge, his presence is not an idle presence; it is an active knowledge, it is a presence accompanied with action and motion. We said just now, that God was every where, because he influenced all, as far as influence could agree with his perfections. Remark this restriction, for as we are discussing a subject the most fertile in controversy, and as, in a discourse of an hour, it is impossible to answer all objections, which may be all answered elswhere, we would give a general preservative against every mistake. We mean an influence which agrees with the divine perfections; and if from any of our general propositions, you infer any consequences injurious to those perfections, you may conclude, for that very reason, that you have stretched them be- : yond their due bounds. We repeat it then, God influenceth all things, as far as such influence agreea with his perfections.
When new beings appear, he is there. He influences their production. He gives to all life, motion,
and being, Acts xvii. 28. Thou, even thou art
. Lord alone, thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all things that are therein, the seas and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all, and the host of heaven worshippeth thee, Neh. ix. 6. O Lord, I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ; marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well
. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret; and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect, and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them, Psal. cxxxix. 14, 15, 16. Thine hands have made me, and fashioned me together round about. Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hath fenced me with bones and sinews.
When beings are preserved, he is there. He influences their preservation. Thy mercy, () Lord, is in the heavens, and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thou preservest man and beast, Psal. xxxvi. 5. 6. When thou openest thy hand they are filled with good : thou hidest thy face, they are troubled, thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created, and thou renewest the face of the earth, Psal. civ. 28, 29, 30.
When the world is disordered, he is there. He influenceth wars, pestilences, famines, and all the vicissitudes which disorder the world. If nature refuse her productions, it is because he hath made the heaven as iron, and the earth as brass, Lev. xxvi. 19. If peace succeeds war, he makes both. If lions slay the inhabitants of Samaria, it is the Lord who sends them, 2 King xvii. 25. When tempestuous winds break down those immense
banks which your industry has opposed to them, when a devouring fire reduceth your houses to ashes, it is he who makes the winds his messengers, and his ministers flames of fire, Psal. civ. 4.
When every thing succeeds according to our wishes, he is there. He influenceth prosperity. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows. It is God who giveth his beloved sleep, Psal. cxxvii. 1, 2.
When our understanding is informed, he is there. He influenceth our knowledge. For in his light we see light, Psal. xxxvi. 9. He lighteth every man that cometh into the world, John i. 9.
When our heart disposeth us to our duties, he is there. He influenceth our virtues. It is he who worketh in us, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure, Phil. ii. 13. It is he who giveth us not only to believe but to suffer for his sake, chap. i. 29. It is he who giveth to all that ask him, liberally, und apbraideth not, James i. 5.
When the grossest errors cover us, he is there. He influenceth errors.
It is God who sends strong delusions that men should believe a lie, 2 Thess. ii. 11. Go make the heart of this people fat, and maketheir ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they should'see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, Isa. vi. 10.
When we violate the laws of righteousness, he is there. He influenceth sins, even the greatest sins. Witness Pharaoh, whose heart he hardened, Exod. iv. 21. Witness Shimei, whom the Lord bade to curse David, 2 Sam. xvi. 11. Witness what Isaiah said, the Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst of Egypt, ch. xix. 14.
When magistrates, our earthly gods, consult and deliberate, he is there. He influenceth policy.
It is he who hath the hearts of kings in his hand, and turneth them as the rivers of water, Prov. xxi. 1. It is he who giveth kings in his anger, and taketh them away in his wrath, Hosea xiii. 11. It is he who maketh the Assyrian the rod of his anger, Isaiah x. 5. Herod and Pilate, the Gentiles and the people of Israel did that his hand and his counsel determined before to be done, Acts iv. 27; 28.
When we live, when we die, he is there. He influenceth life and death.' Man's days are determined, the number of his months are with him, he has appointed his bounds that he cannot pass, Job. xiv. 5. To God the Lord belongs the issues from death, Psal. Ixviii. 20. He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up, 1 Sam. ii. 6.
He influences the least events as well as the most considerable. Not being fatigued with the care of great things, he can occupy himself about the smallest without prejudice to the rest ; number the
: hairs of our heads, and not let even a sparrow fall without his will. Matt. x. 29, 30.
But. 3. When God communicates himself to all, when he thus acts on all, when he diffuseth himself thus through the whole, he connects all with his own designs, and makes all serve his own counsels: and this is our third idea of his immensity and omnipresence. "God is present with all, because he directs all.
Doth he call the creatures into existence? it is to manifest his perfections. It is to have subjects on whom he may shower his favors; it is, as it were, to go out of himself, and to form through the whole universe a concert resounding the Creator's existence and glory. For the invisible things of God, even his eternal power and godhead are understood