Body of Divinity
By Thomas Watson
GOD AND HIS CREATION
1. The Being of God
Question 3. What do the scriptures principally teach?
Answer: The Scriptures principally teach what man is to
believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.
Question 4. What is God?
Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable,
in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
1. Something implied. That there is a God.
2. Something expressed. That he is a Spirit.
3. What kind of Spirit?
I. Something IMPLIED. That there is a God.
The question, "What is God?" takes for granted that there is
a God. The belief of God's existence, is the foundation of all religious
worship. "He who comes to God must believe that he is." There must be a first
cause, which gives being to all things besides.
 We know that there is a God by the book of NATURE.
The notion of a Deity is engraved on man's heart; it is demonstrable by the
light of nature. It hard for a man to be a natural atheist; he may wish
there were no God, he may dispute against a Deity—but he cannot in his
judgment believe there is no God, unless by accumulated sin his conscience be
seared, and he has such a lethargy upon him, that he has sinned away his very
sense and reason!
 We know that there is a God by his WORKS, and
this is so evident a demonstration of a Godhead, that the most atheistic
spirits, when they have considered these works, have been forced to acknowledge
some wise and supreme maker of these things. We will begin with the creation
of the glorious fabric of heaven and earth. Surely, there must be some
architect or first cause. The world could not make itself. Who could hang the
earth on nothing, but the great God? Who could provide such rich furniture for
the heavens, the glorious constellations, the skies bespangled with such
glittering lights? We see God's glory blazing in the sun, twinkling in the
stars. Who could give the earth its clothing, cover it with grass and corn,
adorn it with flowers, enrich it with gold? God alone. Job 38:8. Who but God
could make the sweet music in the heavens, cause the angels to join in concert,
and sound forth the praises of their Maker? "The morning stars sang together,
and all the sons of God shouted for joy."
If a man should go into a far country, and see stately
edifices there, he would never imagine that these built themselves—but that some
greater power had built them. To imagine that the work of the creation was not
framed by God, is as if we should conceive an intricate landscape to be drawn by
a pencil, without the hand of an artist. "God who made the world, and all
things therein." To create is proper to the Deity.
The wise government of all things evinces there is a
God. God is the great superintendent of the world, he holds the golden reins of
government in his hand, guiding all things most regularly and harmoniously to
their proper end. Who that eyes Providence, but must be forced to acknowledge
there is a God? Providence is the queen and governess of the world, it is the
hand which turns the wheel of the whole creation; it sets the sun its race, the
sea its bounds. If God did not guide the world, things would run into disorder
and confusion. When one looks on a clock, and sees the motion of the wheels, the
striking of the hammer, the hanging of the plummets—he would conclude that some
artificer made it. Just so, when we see the excellent order and harmony in the
universe, the sun, that great luminary, dispensing its light and heat to the
world, without which the world were but a grave or a prison; the rivers sending
forth their silver streams to refresh the bodies of men, and prevent a drought;
and every creature acting within its sphere, and keeping its due bounds—we must
needs acknowledge there is a God, who wisely orders and governs all these
Who could set this great multitude of the creatures in their
several ranks and squadrons, and keep them in their constant march—but HE, whose
name is the Lord Almighty? And as God does wisely dispose all things in
the whole regiment of the creatures, so, by his power, he supports them.
Did God suspend and withdraw his influence ever so little, the wheels of the
creation would unpin, and the axle break asunder! All motion, the philosophers
say, is from something that is unmoveable. As for example, the elements are
moved by the influence and motion of the heavenly bodies; the sun and moon, and
these planets, are moved by the highest orb, called Primum Mobile; now, if one
should ask, Who moves that highest orb, or is the first mover of the planets? It
can be no other than God himself!
Man is a microcosm or lesser world. The excellent context and
frame of his body is wrought as meticulously as needlework. "You made all the
delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb." This
body is endowed with a noble soul. Who but God could make such a union of
different substances as flesh and spirit? In him we live, and move, and have our
being. The living motion of every part of the body shows there is a God. We may
see something of him in the sparkling of the eye; and if the cabinet of the
body be so curiously wrought, what is the jewel—the soul? The soul
has a celestial brightness in it; as one says, "It is a diamond set in a ring of
clay." What noble faculties is the soul endowed with! Understanding, Will,
Affections—are a mirror of the Trinity, as Plato speaks. The matter of the soul
is spiritual, it is a divine spark lighted from heaven; and being spiritual, is
immortal, as Scaliger notes; "the soul does not wax old," it lives forever. Who
could create a soul ennobled with such rare angelic properties, but God? We must
needs say as the Psalmist, "It is he who has made us, and not we ourselves."
 We may prove a Deity by our CONSCIENCE.
Conscience is God's deputy or viceregent. Conscience is a witness of a Deity. If
there were no Bible to tell us there is a God—yet conscience would. Conscience,
as the apostle says, either "accuses" or "excuses." Rom 2:15. It acts in order
to a higher judicatory. Natural conscience, being kept free from gross sin,
excuses. When a man does virtuous actions, lives soberly and righteously,
observes the golden maxim—doing to others as he would have them do to him—then
conscience approves, and says, "Well done!" Like a bee it gives honey. Natural
conscience in the wicked accuses. When men go against its light they feel the
worm of conscience. "Alas! What scorpion lurks within?" -Seneca. Conscience,
being sinned against, spits fire in men's faces, and fills them with shame and
horror. When the sinner sees a handwriting on the wall of conscience, his
countenance is changed!
Many have hanged themselves to quiet their conscience.
Tiberius the emperor, a bloody man, felt the lashes of his conscience; he was so
haunted with that fury, that he told the senate, he suffered death daily. What
could put a man's conscience into such an agony, but the impression of a Deity,
and the thoughts of coming before his just tribunal? Those who are above human
laws, are subject to the checks of their own conscience. And it is observable,
the nearer the wicked approach to death, the more they are terrified. Whence is
this but from the apprehension of approaching judgement? The soul, being
sensible of its immortal nature, trembles at him who never ceases to live, and
therefore will never cease to punish!
 That there is a God, appears by the consent and universal
suffrage of all men. "There is no nation so barbarous," says Tully,
"as not to believe there is a God." Though the heathen did not worship the
true God—yet they worshiped a god. They set up an altar, "To the
unknown God." Acts 17:23. They knew a God should be worshiped, though they knew
not the God whom they ought to worship. Some worshiped Jupiter, some Neptune,
some Mars. Rather than not worship something, they would worship anything.
 That there is a God, appears his prediction of future
things—that is, by fulfilled prophecy. He who can foretell things
which shall surely come to pass, is the true God. God foretold, that a virgin
should conceive; he prefixed the time when the Messiah should be cut off. He
foretold the captivity of the Jews in Babylon, and who would be their deliverer.
God himself uses this argument to prove he is the true God, and that all the
gods of the heathens are fictions and nullities. To foretell things contingent,
which depend upon no natural causes, is peculiar to Deity.
 That there is a God, appears by his unlimited POWER and
SOVEREIGNTY. He who can work, and none can hinder—is the true God.
Only God can do so. "I will work—and who shall hinder it?" Nothing can hinder
action but some superior power; but there is no power above God! All power that
is, is by him, therefore all power is under him. He has a "mighty arm." He sees
the designs which men drive at against him, and plucks off their chariot wheels;
he makes the diviners mad. He cuts off the spirit of princes; he bridles the
sea, gives check to the leviathan, and binds the devil in chains. He acts
according to his pleasure, he does what he will. "I will work, and who shall
 There are devils, therefore there is a God.
Atheists cannot deny but there are devils, and then they must grant there is a
God. We read of many possessed of the devil. The devils are called in Scripture
"hairy ones", because they often appeared in the form of goats or satyrs. Now,
if there is a devil, there is a God. Socrates, a heathen, when accused at his
death, confessed, that, as he thought there was an evil spirit, so he thought
there was a good spirit.
Use one: Seeing there is a God—it reproves such atheistic
fools as deny it. Epicurus denied there was a Providence, saying that
all things happened by chance. He who says there is no God is the wickedest
creature that is—he is worse than a thief. The thief takes away our
goods—but the atheist would take away our God from us! "They have taken
away my Lord." So we may say of atheists, they would take away our God from us,
in whom all our hope and comfort is laid up. "The fool has said in his heart,
There is no God." He dared not speak it with his tongue—but says it in his
heart—he wishes it. Surely, none can be speculative atheists. "The devils
believe and tremble."
I have read of one Arthur—a professed atheist—who, when he
came to die, cried out that he was damned. Though there are few found who say,
"There is no God!" yet many deny him in their practices. "In works they
deny him." The world is full of practical atheism; most people live as if
they did not believe there was a God. Would the dare they lie, defraud, be
immoral—if they believed there were a God who would call them to account? If a
heathen who never heard of a God should come among us, and have no other means
to convince him of a Deity—but the lives of men in our age, surely he would
question whether there were a God!
Use two: Seeing there is a God—he will deal righteously, and
give just rewards to men. Things seem to be carried on in the world,
very unequally; the wicked flourish. Those who tempt God are delivered. The ripe
cluster of grapes is squeezed into their cup. In the meanwhile, the godly, who
wept for sin, and served God—are afflicted. "I have eaten ashes like bread, and
mingled my drink with weeping." Evil men enjoy all the good—and godly men endure
all the evil. But seeing there is a God—he will deal righteously with men.
"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Offenders must come to
punishment. The sinner's death-day, and dooms-day is coming. "The Lord sees that
his day is coming." While there is a hell, the wicked shall be scourged enough;
and while there is eternity, they shall lie there long enough! And God will
abundantly compensate the faithful service of his people. They shall have their
white robes and crowns. "Truly there is a reward for the righteous: truly he is
a God who judges in the earth." Because God is God, he will give glorious
rewards to his people.
Use three: Seeing there is a God, woe to all such as have
this God against them. He lives forever to be avenged upon them. "Can
your heart endure, or can your hands be strong in the day that I shall deal with
you?" Such as oppose his saints, trampling these jewels in the dust, and such as
live in contradiction to God's Word—engage the Infinite Majesty of heaven
against them! How dismal will their case be! "As surely as I live, when I
sharpen my flashing sword and begin to carry out justice, I will bring vengeance
on my enemies and repay those who hate me!" if it be so terrible to hear the
lion roar, what must it be when he begins to tear his prey?
"Consider this, you that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces!" Oh that
men would think of this, who go on in sin! Shall we engage the great God against
us? God strikes slow—but heavy! "Have you an arm like God?" Can you
strike such a blow? God is the best friend—but the worst enemy! If he can
look men into their grave, how far can he throw them? "Who knows the
power of his wrath?" What fools are they, who, for a drop of pleasure—drink a
sea of wrath! Paracelsus speaks of a craze some have, which will make them die
dancing; so sinners go dancing to hell.
Use four: Seeing there is a God, let us firmly believe this
great article of our Creed. What true religion can there be in men,
if they do not believe a Deity? "He who comes to God must believe that he is."
To worship God, and pray to him, and not believe there is a God—is to put
a high scorn and contempt upon him. Believe that God is the only true God—such a
God as he has revealed himself in his Word, "A lover of righteousness, and hater
of wickedness." The real belief of a Deity gives life to all pious worship; the
more we believe the truth and infiniteness of God—the more holy and angelic we
are in our lives. Whether we are alone, or in company—God sees us! He is the
heart-searcher! The belief of this would make us live always under God's eye. "I
have set the Lord always before me."
The belief of a Deity would be a bridle to sin—and a
spur to duty. It would add wings to prayer, and oil to the lamp of our
devotion. The belief of a Deity would cause dependence upon God in all our
straits and exigencies. "I am God all-sufficient!" I am a God who can supply all
your needs, scatter all your fears, resolve all your doubts, conquer all your
temptations! The arm of God's power can never be shrunk! He can create
mercy for us, and therefore can help, and not be beholden to the creature. Did
we believe there is a God, we would so depend on his providence as not to use
any indirect means; we should not run ourselves into sin, to rid ourselves out
of trouble. "Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that you go to
inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron?" When men run to sinful shifts—it is
because they either do not believe there is a God—or that he is all-sufficient!
Use five: Seeing there is a God, let us labor to get a saving
interest in him. "This God is our God." Since the fall we have
lost likeness to God, and communion with God; let us labor to recover this lost
interest, and pronounce this Shibboleth, "My God." It is little comfort
to know there is a God—unless he be ours! God offers himself to be our God. "I
will be their God." Faith catches hold of the offer, it appropriates God, and
makes all that is in him—over to us to be ours! His wisdom to be ours—to teach
us; his holiness ours—to sanctify us; his Spirit ours—to comfort us; his mercy
ours—to save us. To be able to say, "God is mine!" is more than to have all
the mines of gold and silver!
Use six: Seeing there is a God, let us serve and WORSHIP him
as God. It was an indictment brought
against some, "They glorified him not as God."
Let us pray to him as to God. Pray with fervency. "An
effectual fervent prayer avails much." Fervency is both the fire
and the incense; without fervency it is no prayer.
Let us love him as God. "You shall love the Lord your
God with all your heart." To love him with all the heart, is to give him
precedence in our love, to let him have the cream of our affections; to love him
not only appreciatively, but intensively, as much as we can. As the sunbeams
united in a magnifying glass burn the hotter—so all our affections should
be united, that our love to God may be more ardent.
Let us obey him as God. All other creatures obey him!
The stars fight his battles; the wind and sea obey him. How
much more should man obey God, whom he has endued with a principle of reason. He
is God, and has a sovereignty over us; therefore, as we received life
from him, so we must receive a law from him, and submit to his will in
all things. This is to kiss him with a kiss of loyalty, and it is to glorify him
John 4:24. "God is a
Spirit." "God is essentially, spirit." Zanchius.
II. Something EXPRESSED.
What do you mean when you say, God is a Spirit?
By a spirit I mean, God is an immaterial substance, of a
pure, unmixed essence, not compounded of body and soul, without all extension of
parts. The body is a dreggish thing. The more spiritual God's essence, the more
noble and excellent it is. The spirits are the more refined part of the wine.
Wherein does God differ from other spirits?
 The ANGELS are spirits. We must distinguish spirits.
The angels are created; God is an uncreated Spirit. The angels are
finite, and capable of being annihilated; the same power which made them is able
to reduce them to their first nothing; but God is an infinite Spirit. The
angels are confined spirits, they are confined to a place; but God is an
immense Spirit, and in all places at once. The angels, though spirits, are
but ministering spirits. Though they are spirits, they are servants. God is a
super-excellent Spirit, the Father of spirits.
 The SOUL is a spirit. "The spirit shall return to God
who gave it."
How does God, being a Spirit, differ from the soul?
Servetus and Osiander thought, that the soul being infused,
conveyed into man the very spirit and substance of God. This is an absurd
opinion, for the essence of God is incommunicable.
When it is said the soul is a spirit, it means that God has
made it intelligible, and stamped upon it his likeness, not his
But is it not said, that we are made partakers of the divine
By divine nature there, is meant divine qualities. 2 Pet 1:1.
We are made partakers of the divine nature, not by identity or union with the
divine essence—but by a transformation into the divine likeness.
Thus you see how God differs from other spirits—angels and souls of men. He is a
Spirit of transcendent excellence, the "Father of spirits."
Against this Vorstius and the Anthropomorphites
object, that, in Scripture, a human shape and figure is given to God; he is said
to have eyes and hands.
It is contrary to the nature of a spirit to have a corporeal
substance. "Handle me, and see me: for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you
see me have." Bodily members are ascribed to God, not properly—but
metaphorically, and in a borrowed sense. By the right hand of the
Lord is meant his power; by the eyes of the Lord is meant his wisdom. Now
that God is a Spirit, and is not capable of bodily shape or substance, is clear,
for a body is visible—but God is invisible; therefore he is a Spirit. "Whom no
man has seen, nor can see;" not by an eye of sense. A body is local, can be but
in one place at once—but God is everywhere, in all places at once; therefore he
is a Spirit. Psalm 139:9, 8. God's center is everywhere, and his circumference
is nowhere. A body being compounded of integral parts may be dissolved; but the
Godhead is not capable of dissolution. He can have no end—from whom all things
have their beginning. So that it clearly appears that God is a Spirit, which
adds to the perfection of his nature.
Use one: If God is a Spirit, then he is impenetrable;
he is not capable of being hurt. Wicked men set up their banners, and bend their
forces against God; they are said to fight against God. But what will
this fighting avail? What hurt can they do to the Deity? God is a Spirit, and
therefore cannot receive any hurtful impression. Wicked men may imagine evil
against the Lord. "What do you imagine against the Lord?" But God being a Spirit
is impenetrable. The wicked may eclipse his glory—but cannot touch his
essence. God can hurt his enemies—but they cannot hurt him. Julian might
throw up his dagger into the air against Heaven—but could not touch the Deity.
God is a Spirit, invisible. How can the wicked with
all their forces hurt him, when they cannot see him? Hence all the attempts of
the wicked against God are foolish, and prove abortive. "The kings of the earth
set themselves against the Lord and against his anointed. He who sits in the
heavens shall laugh." God is a Spirit, he can wound them—but they cannot touch
Use two: If God is a Spirit, it shows the folly of the
Papists, who worship him by pictures and images. As a spirit, we
cannot make any image to represent him. Deut 4:12, "The Lord spoke to you out of
the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice."
God being a Spirit is imperceptible, cannot be discerned; how
then can there be any picture made of him? Isa 40:18, "To whom, then, can we
compare God? What image might we find to resemble him?" How can you paint the
Deity? Can we make an image of that which we never saw? You saw no image. God is
a Spirit. It were folly to endeavor to make a picture of the soul, because it is
a thing spiritual, or to paint the angels, because they are spirits.
God is also an omnipresent Spirit; he is present in
all places "Do not I fill heaven and earth? says the Lord." Therefore, being
everywhere present, it is absurd to worship him by an image. Were it not a
foolish thing to bow down to the king's picture, when the king is present? So it
is to worship God's image, when God himself is present.
How then shall we conceive of God as a Spirit, if we may make
no image or resemblance of him?
We must conceive of him spiritually. In his
attributes; his holiness, justice, and goodness, which are the beams by
which his divine nature shines forth. We must conceive of him as he is in
Christ. "Christ is the image of the invisible God." Set the eyes of your faith
on Christ as God-man. In Christ we see some sparklings of the divine glory; in
him there is the exact resemblance of all his Father's excellencies. The wisdom,
love, and holiness of God the Father, shine forth in Christ. "He who has seen
me, has seen the Father."
Use three: If God is a Spirit, it shows us that the more
spiritual we grow, the more we grow like to God. How do earth and
spirit agree? Phil 3:19. Earthly ones may give for their insignia, the mole
or rat, which live in the earth. What resemblance is there between an
earthly heart, and him who is a Spirit? The more spiritual anyone is, the more
What is it to be spiritual?
To be refined and holy, to have the heart still in heaven, to
be thinking of God and glory, and to be carried up in a fiery chariot of love to
God. Psalm 73:35. "Whom have I in heaven but you?" which Beza paraphrases thus,
"Begone earth! Oh that I were in heaven with you!" A Christian, who is taken off
from these earthly things, has a noble spiritual soul, and most resembles him
who is a Spirit.
Use four: It shows that the worship which God requires of us,
and is most acceptable to him, is spiritual worship. "True worshipers
will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers
the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and
in truth." John 4:23-24. Spiritual worship is pure worship. Though God will have
the service of our bodies, our eyes and hands lifted up, to testify to others
that reverence we have of his glory and majesty—yet he will chiefly have the
worship of the soul. "Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit." God prizes
spirit-worship, because it comes near to his own nature, which is a Spirit.
What is it to worship God in spirit?
(1.) To worship him without ceremonies. The ceremonies of the
law, which God himself ordained, are now abrogated, and out of date. Christ the
substance being come, the shadows fly away; and therefore the
apostle calls the legal ceremonies, carnal rites. If we may not use those Jewish
ceremonies which God once appointed, then we may not use those which he never
(2.) To worship God in spirit, is to worship him with faith
in the blood of the Messiah. Heb 10:19. It is to worship him with the utmost
zeal and intenseness of soul. This is to worship God in spirit. The more
spiritual any service is, the nearer it comes to God, who is a Spirit, and the
more excellent it is. The spiritual part of duty is the fat of the
sacrifice: it is the soul and quintessence of true religion. The richest
cordials are made of spirits, and the best duties are such as are of a spiritual
nature. God is a Spirit, and will be worshiped in spirit; it is not pomp
of worship—but purity, which God accepts.
Repentance is not in the outward severities used to the
body—such as penance, fasting, and chastising the body—but it consists in the
sacrifice of a broken heart. Thanksgiving does not stand in church-music,
the melody of an organ—but rather in making melody in the heart to the Lord. Eph
5:19. Prayer is not the tuning the voice into a heartless confession, or
counting over a few prayer beads—but it consists in sighs and groans, Rom 8:26.
When the fire of fervency is put to the incense of prayer—then it ascends
as a sweet fragrance to God. The true holy water is not that which the
pope sprinkles—but is distilled from the penitent eye. Spirit-worship best
pleases that God who is a Spirit. John 4:23, "True worshipers will worship the
Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father
seeks." See the great acceptance of such, and how God is delighted with
spiritual worship. This is the savory meat which God loves. How few mind this!
They give him more dregs than souls; they think it enough to bring their
duties—but not their hearts; which makes God disclaim the very services he
himself appointed. Isa 1:12. Ezek 33:31. Let us then give God spirit-worship,
which best suits his nature.
A sovereign elixir full of virtue may be given in a few
drops. So a little prayer, if it be with the heart and spirit, may have
much virtue and efficacy in it. The publican made but a short prayer, "God be
merciful to me a sinner," but it was full of life and spirit; it came from the
heart, therefore it was accepted by God.
Use five: Let us pray to God, that as he is a Spirit, so he
will give us of his Spirit. The essence of God is incommunicable; but
not the motions, the presence and influences of his Spirit. When the sun
shines in a room, not the body of the sun is there—but the light, heat, and
influence of the sun. God has made a promise of his Spirit. "I will put my
Spirit within you." Turn promises into prayers. "O Lord, you who are a
Spirit, give me of your Spirit; I beg your Spirit, your enlightening,
sanctifying, quickening, Spirit." Melanchthon prayed, "Lord, inflame my soul
with your Holy Spirit." How needful is his Spirit! We cannot do any duty without
it, in a lively manner. When this wind blows upon our sails—we move
swiftly towards heaven. Let us pray, therefore, that God would give us of the
influence of his Spirit, that we may move more vigorously in the sphere of true
Use six: As God is a Spirit, so the REWARDS that he gives are
spiritual. As the chief blessings he gives us in this life are
spiritual blessings, Eph 1:1, not gold and silver; as he gives Christ, his love;
he fills us with grace; so the main rewards he gives us after this life are
spiritual, "a crown of glory which does not fade away." Earthly crowns fade—but
the believer's crown being spiritual, is immortal, a never-fading crown. "It is
impossible," says one, "for that which is spiritual, to be subject to change or
corruption." This may comfort a Christian in all his labors and sufferings; he
lays out himself for God, and has little or no reward here; but remember, God,
who is a Spirit, will give spiritual rewards—a sight of his face in
heaven, white robes, an eternal weight of glory! Be not then weary of God's
service; think of the spiritual reward, the crown of glory which does not fade
III. What kind of Spirit is God?
Answer: God is infinite. All created beings are
finite. Though infinity may be applied to all God's attributes—he is infinitely
merciful, infinitely wise, infinitely holy—yet, if we take infinity it implies
1. The OMNIPRESENCE of God.
The Greek word for "infinite" signifies "without bounds or
limits." God is not confined to any place. He is infinite, and so
is present in all places at once. His center is everywhere. "In no place is
God's Being either confined or excluded," Augustine. "Behold, the heaven and
heaven of heavens cannot contain you." The Turks build their temples open at the
top, to show that God cannot be confined to them—but is in all places by his
presence. God's essence is not limited either to the regions above, or to the
terrestrial globe—but is everywhere. As philosophers say of the soul, "the soul
is in every part of the body," in the eye, heart, foot; so we may say of God,
his essence is everywhere; his circuit is in heaven, and in earth, and sea, and
he is in all places of his circuit at once. "This is to be infinite." God, who
bounds everything else, is himself without bounds. He sets bounds to the sea,
"Hitherto shall you come, and no further!" He sets bounds to the angels; they,
like the cherubim, move and stand at his appointment, but he is infinite,
without bounds. He who can span the heavens, and weigh the earth in scales, must
needs be infinite!
Vorstius maintains that God is in all places at once—but not
in regard of his essence; but by his virtue and influence: as the body of the
sun is in heaven, it only sends forth its beams and influences to the earth; or
as a king, who is in all places of his kingdom authoritatively, by his
power and authority—but he is personally on his throne.
God, who is infinite, is in all places at once, not only by
his influence—but by his essence; for, if his essence fills all
places, then he must needs be there in person. Jer 23:34. "Do not I fill heaven
But does not God say that heaven is his throne? Isa 66:6.
It is also said, that a humble heart is his throne. The
humble heart is his throne, in regard to his gracious presence; and
heaven is his throne, in regard to his glorious presence; and yet neither
of these thrones will hold him, for the heaven of heavens cannot contain him.
But if God is infinite in all places—he is in impure
places, and mingles with impurity.
Though God is in all places, in the heart of a sinner
by his inspection, and in hell by his justice—yet he does not mingle with
the impurity, or receive the least tincture of evil. "The divine nature does not
intermix with created matter, nor is contaminated by its impurities," Augustine.
No more than the sun shining on a dunghill is defiled, or its beauty spotted; or
than Christ going among sinners was defiled, whose Godhead was a sufficient
antidote against infection.
God must needs be infinite in all places at once, not only in
regard to the simplicity and purity of his nature—but in regard to his power,
which being so glorious, who can set bounds to him, or prescribe him a circuit
to walk in? It is as if the drop should limit the ocean, or a candle set bounds
to the sun.
Use one: If God is infinite, present in all places at once,
then it is certain he governs all things in his own person, and needs
no proxies or deputies to help him to carry on his government. He is in all
places in an instant, and manages all affairs both in the earth and heaven. A
king cannot be in all places of his kingdom in his own person, therefore he is
forced to govern by deputies and viceregents, and they often pervert justice.
But God, being infinite, needs no deputies, he is present in all places, he sees
all with his own eyes, and hears all with his own ears; he is everywhere in his
own person, therefore is fit to be the judge of the world; he will do everyone
Use two: If God is infinite by his omnipresence, then see the
greatness and immenseness of the divine majesty! What a great God do
we serve! "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the glory, and the majesty, and
you are exalted as head above all." Well may the Scripture display the greatness
of his glory, who is infinite in all places. He transcends our weak conceptions;
how can our finite understanding comprehend him who is infinite? He is
infinitely above all our praises. "Blessed be your glorious name, which is
exalted above all blessing and praise." Oh what a poor nothing is man, when we
think of God's infiniteness! As the stars disappear at the rising of the sun,
oh, how does a man shrink into nothing, when infinite majesty shines forth in
its glory! "The nations are as a drop in the bucket, or the small dust of
the balance!" Oh, what a little of that drop are we individuals! The heathen
thought they had sufficiently praised Jupiter when they called him great
Jupiter. Of what immense majesty is God, who fills all places at once!
Use three: If God is infinite, filling heaven and earth, see
what a full portion the saints have. They have him who is infinite for their
portion! His fullness is an infinite fullness; and he is infinitely
sweet, as well as infinitely full. If a cup is filled with wine, there is a
sweet fullness—but still it is finite; but God is a sweet fullness, and it is
infinite. He is infinitely full of beauty and of love. His riches are called
unsearchable, because they are infinite, Eph 3:8. Stretch your thoughts as
much as you can, there is that in God which exceeds; it is an infinite fullness.
He is said to do abundantly for us, above all that we can ask. "Now to him who
is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his
power that is at work within us," Ephesians 3:20. What can an ambitious person
ask? He can ask crowns and kingdoms, millions of worlds; but God can give more
than we can ask, nay, more than we can imagine, because he is
We can imagine—what if all the dust were turned to
silver—what if every flower were a ruby—what if every sand in the sea a diamond;
yet God can give more than we can imagine, because he is infinite. Oh how
rich are they who have the infinite God for their portion! Well might David
say, "Surely I have a delightful inheritance!" Psalm 16:6.
We may go with the bee from flower to flower—but we shall
never have full satisfaction until we come to the infinite God! Jacob said: "I
have enough!" In the Hebrew it is, "I have all!" because he had the infinite God
for his portion! Gen 33:11. God being an infinite fullness, there is no fear of
lack for any of the heirs of heaven. Though there are millions of saints and
angels, who have a share in God's riches—yet he has enough for them all, because
he is infinite! Though a thousand men behold the sun—there is light enough for
them all. Put ever so many buckets into the sea—there is water enough to fill
them. Though an innumerable company of saints and angels are to be filled out of
God's fullness—yet God, being infinite, has enough to satisfy them. God has land
enough to give to all his heirs. There can be no lack, in that which is
Use four: If God is infinite, he fills all places, and is
everywhere present. This is dreadful to the wicked. God is their
enemy, and they cannot escape him, nor flee from him, for he is everywhere
present! They are never out of his eye, nor out of his reach. "Your hand shall
find out all your enemies." What caves or thickets can men hide in—that God
cannot find them? Go where they will, he is present. "Where shall I flee from
your presence?" If a man owes a debt to another he may make his escape, and flee
into another land, where the creditor cannot find him. "But where shall I flee
from your presence?" God is infinite, he is in all places; so that he
will find out his enemies and punish them!
But is it not said that "Cain went out from the presence of
the Lord?" Gen 4:16.
The meaning is, he went out from the church of God, where the
visible signs of God's presence were, and where God in a special manner
manifested his sweet presence to his people; but Cain could not go out of God's
sight; for God being infinite is everywhere present. Sinners can escape from
neither an accusing conscience, nor from a revenging God!
Use five: If God is everywhere present, then for a Christian
to walk with God is not impossible. God is not only in heaven—but he
is in earth too. Heaven is his throne, there he sits; the earth is his
footstool, there he stands. He is everywhere present, therefore we may come to
walk with God. "Enoch walked with God." If God was confined to heaven, a
trembling soul might think, "How can I converse with God, how can I walk with
him who lives above the upper region?" But God is not confined to heaven; he is
omnipresent; he is above us—yet he is about us, he is near
to us. "He is not far from each one of us." Acts 17:27. He is not far from the
assembly of the saints, "God has taken His place in the divine assembly," Psalm
82:1. He is present with us, God is in everyone of us; so that here on earth we
may walk with God.
In heaven the saints rest with him, on earth they
walk with him. To walk with God is to walk by faith. We are said to "draw
near to God," Heb 10:22, and to see him, Heb 11:27, "As seeing him who is
invisible," and to have fellowship with him. 1 John 1:3, "Our fellowship is with
the Father." Thus we may take a turn with him every day by faith. It is
slighting God not to walk with him. If a king was in our presence, it would be
slighting him to neglect him, and play with the pet. There is no walk in the
world so sweet as to walk with God. "They shall walk in the light of your
countenance." "Yes, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord." It is like walking
among beds of spices, which send forth a fragrant perfume.
Use six: If God is infinite in his glorious essence, learn to
admire—where you cannot fathom. The angels wear a veil, they cover
their faces, as adoring this infinite majesty. Isa 6:6. Elijah wrapped himself
in a mantle when God's glory passed by. Admire—where you cannot fathom. "Can you
by searching find out God?" Here on earth, we see some beams of his glory, we
see him in the looking-glass of the creation; we see him in his picture—his
image shines in the saints. But who can search out all his essential glory? What
angel can measure these pyramids? "Can you by searching find out God?" He is
infinite. We can no more search out his infinite perfections, than a man upon
the top of the highest mountain can take a star in his hand! Oh, have
God-admiring thoughts! Adore where you cannot fathom!
There are many mysteries in nature which we cannot fathom;
why the sea should be higher than the earth—yet not drown it; why the Nile
should overflow in summer, when, by the course of nature, the waters are lowest.
"As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a
mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all
things." Ecclesiastes 11:5. If these things perplex us, how may the infinite
mystery of the Deity transcend our most raised intellectuals! Ask the
geometrician, if he can, with a ruler, measure the heavens. Just so—we are
unable to measure the infinite perfections of God. In heaven we shall see God
clearly—but not fully, for he is infinite. He will communicate
himself to us, according to the capacity of our vessel—but not the immenseness
of his nature. Adore then where you cannot fathom!
If God is infinite in all places, let us not limit him. "They
limited the Holy One of Israel." It is limiting God to confine him within the
narrow compass of our reason. Reason thinks God must go such a way to work,
or the business will never be effected. This is to limit God to our reason;
whereas he is infinite, and his ways are past finding out. In the deliverance of
the church, it is limiting God, either to set him a time, or prescribe him a
method for deliverance. God will deliver Zion—but he will be left to his own
liberty; he will not be tied to a place, to a time, or to an instrument, which
were to limit him, and then he would not be infinite. God will go his own way,
he will confound human reason, he will work by improbabilities, he will save in
such a way, as we think would destroy. Now he acts like himself, like an
infinite wonder-working God. "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and
knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing
out!" Romans 11:33.
2. The OMNISCIENCE of God.
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.
Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must
give account." Hebrews 4:13. "The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions
are weighed." Glorious things are spoken of God; he transcends our thoughts, and
the praises of angels. God's glory lies chiefly in his attributes,
which are the several beams by which the divine nature shines forth. Among
other of his orient excellencies, this is not the least—"the Lord is a God of
knowledge;" or as the Hebrew word is, "A God of knowledges." He has a full idea
and cognisance of all things; the world is to him a transparent body. He makes a
heart-anatomy. "I am he who searches the thoughts and the heart." The clouds are
no canopy, the night is no curtain—to draw between us and his sight. "Even in
darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are both alike to you."
There is not a word we whisper but God hears it.
"There is not a word in my tongue—but lo, O Lord, you know it altogether." There
is not the most subtle thought that comes into our mind—but God perceives
it. "I know their thoughts." Thoughts speak as loud in God's ears—as words do in
ours. All our actions, though ever so subtly contrived, and secretly
conducted, are visible to the eye of Omniscience. "I know their works." Achan
hid the Babylonish garment in the earth—but God brought it to light. Minerva was
drawn in such curious colors, and so lively pencilled, that whichever way one
turned, Minerva's eyes were upon him. Just so, whichever way we turn ourselves,
God's eye is upon us!
"Him who is perfect in knowledge." God knows whatever
is knowable; he knows future contingencies. He foretold Israel's coming out of
Babylon, and the virgin's conceiving. By this the Lord proves the truth of his
Godhead, against idol gods. "Tell us the coming events, then we will know that
you are gods." The perfection of God's knowledge is primary. He is the original,
the pattern, and prototype of all knowledge; others borrow their knowledge of
him; the angels light their lamps at this glorious sun.
God's knowledge is pure. It is not contaminated with
the object. Though God knows sin—yet it is to hate and punish it. No evil can
mix or incorporate with his knowledge, any more than the sun can be defiled with
the vapors which arise from the earth. God's knowledge is facile; it is without
any difficulty. We study and search for knowledge. Prov 2:2. "If you seek
for her as for silver." The lamp of God's knowledge is so infinitely bright,
that all things are intelligible to him.
God's knowledge is infallible; there is no mistake in
His knowledge. Human knowledge is subject to error. A physician may mistake the
treatment of a disease; but God's knowledge is unerring. He can neither deceive,
nor be deceived. He cannot deceive--because he is truth; nor be deceived—because
He has infinite wisdom.
God's knowledge is instantaneous. Our knowledge is
successive, one thing after another. We argue from the effect to the cause. God
knows things past, present, and to come—at once; they are all before him in one
God's knowledge is retentive; he never loses any of
his knowledge; he remembers as well as understands. Many things
elapse out of our minds—but God's knowledge is eternalized. Things transacted a
thousand years ago, are as fresh to him as if they were done but the last
minute. Thus he is perfect in knowledge.
But is it not said, "I will go down and see if what they have
done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. Then I will know."
It could not be that God was ignorant; because there is
mention made of a cry; but the Lord speaks there after the manner of a judge,
who will first examine the cause before he passes the sentence. When he is upon
a work of justice he is not in a hurry, as if he did not care where he hits; but
he goes straight against offenders. "He lays judgement to the line, and
righteousness to the plummet."
Hos 13:12, "The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up, his sin is
hid." ("The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record." NIV
Not that his sin is hid from God—but his sin is hid; that is—the
sins of Ephraim have been collected and stored away for punishment. That
this is the meaning, is clear by the foregoing words, his iniquity is
collected. As the clerk of the court binds up the indictments of malefactors
in a bundle, and at the trial brings out the indictments and reads them in
court; so God binds up men's sins in a bundle, and, at the day of judgment,
this bundle shall be opened, and all their sins brought to light before men and
God is infinite in knowledge. He cannot but be so; for
he who gives being to things, must needs have a clear inspection of them. "He
who planted the ear, shall he not hear? He who formed the eye, shall he not
see?" He who makes a watch or engine, knows all the workmanship in it. God, who
made the heart, knows all its movements. He is full of eyes, like Ezekiel's
wheels, and, as Austin says, Totus oculus, "All eye." It ought to be so;
for he is the "Judge of all the world." There are so many causes to be brought
before him, and so many people to be tried, that he must have a perfect
knowledge, or he could not do justice. A human judge cannot proceed without a
jury, the jury must search the cause, and give in the verdict; but God can judge
without a jury. He knows all things in and of himself, and needs no witnesses to
inform him. A human judge judges only matters of fact—but God judges the
heart. He not only judges wicked actions—but wicked designs.
He sees the treason of the heart, and punishes it.
Use one: Is God infinite in knowledge? Is he
light, and in him is there no darkness? Then how unlike
are they to God who are darkness, and in whom is no light, who are destitute of
knowledge, such as the heathen who never heard of God! And are there
not many among us, who are no better than baptized heathen? who need to
seek the first principles of the oracles of God. It is sad, that after the
sun of the gospel has shined so long in our horizon, that the veil should
still be upon their heart. Such as are enveloped in ignorance cannot give God a
reasonable service. Rom 12:2. Ignorance is the nurse of impiety. The
schoolmen say, "Every sin is founded upon ignorance". Jer 9:3, "They proceed
from one evil to another, and they do not take Me into account." Where ignorance
reigns in the understanding, lust rages in the affections. Prov 19:2, "That the
mind be without knowledge, it is not good." Such have neither faith nor fear: no
faith; for knowledge carries the torch before faith. "Those who know your name
shall put their trust in you." A man can no more believe without knowledge, than
the eye can see without light. He can have no fear of God; for how can they fear
him whom they do not know? The covering of Haman's face was a sad presage of
death. When people's minds are covered with ignorance, it is a covering of the
face, which is a fatal forerunner of destruction. "The ox knows its owner, and
the donkey its master’s feeding-trough, but Israel does not know; My people do
not understand." Isaiah 1:3
Use two: If God is a God of infinite knowledge, then see the
folly of hypocrisy. "Hypocrites do not actually do good, they
merely make a show of it," Melanchthon. They carry it fair with men—but
care not how bad their hearts are; they live in secret sin. "They say—How can
God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?" Psalm 73:11. "What does God know?
Can He judge through thick darkness?" Job 22:13 "God has forgotten, he hides his
face, he will never see it." But, "His understanding is infinite!" He has a
window to look into men's hearts! He has a key to open up the heart; he beholds
all the sinful workings of men's spirits, as in a glass bee-hive we can see the
bees working in their combs. Matt 6:6, "Your Father who sees in secret." God
sees in secret. As a merchant enters debts in his book, so God has his
debt-book, in which he enters every sin. Jeroboam's wife disguised herself, so
that the prophet would not know her; but he discerned her. "When Ahijah heard
her footsteps at the door, he called out—Come in, wife of Jeroboam! Why are you
pretending to be someone else? I have bad news for you!" 1 Kings 14:6. The
hypocrite thinks to disguise and juggle with God—but God will unmask him. "God
shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing." "For they have
done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their
neighbors' wives and in my name have spoken lies, which I did not tell them to
do. I know it and am a witness to it—declares the Lord." Jeremiah 29:23
Ay—but the hypocrite hopes he shall color over his sin, and
make it look very good. Absalom masks over his treason with the pretense of a
religious vow. Judas cloaks his envy at Christ, and his covetousness, with the
pretense of "charity to the poor." Jehu makes religion a cloak for his selfish
design. But God sees through these fig-leaves! You may see a jade under his gilt
trappings. "My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is
their sin concealed from my eyes. Jeremiah 16:17. He who has an eye to
see—will find a hand to punish!
Use three: Is God so infinite in knowledge? Then we should
always feel as under his omniscient eye. "We ought to live as if
always in full view of God," Seneca. Let us place David's prospect before our
eye, "I have set the Lord always before me." Seneca counseled Lucilius, that
whatever he was doing, he should imagine some of the Roman nobles stood before
him, and then he would do nothing dishonorable. The consideration of God's
omniscience would be preventive of much sin. The eye of man will restrain
from sin; and will not God's eyes much more? "Will he even assault the
queen right here in the palace, before my very eyes? the king roared."
Esther 7:8. Will we sin when our Judge looks on? Would men speak so vainly, if
they considered God overheard them?
Latimer took heed to every word in his examination, when he
heard the pen write behind the curtains. Just so, what care would people have of
their words, if they remembered that God heard, and his pen was writing
everything down in heaven? Would people commit immorality, if they believed God
was a spectator of their wickedness, and would make them do penance in hell for
it? Would they defraud in their dealings, and use false weights, if they knew
God saw them, and for making their weights lighter would make their damnation
Viewing ourselves as under the eye of God's omniscience,
would cause reverence in the worship of God. God sees the frame and demeanor of
our hearts, when we come before him. How would this call in our straggling
thoughts? How would it animate and invigorate duty? It would make us put fire
to the incense. We must worship God with the utmost zeal and intenseness of
spirit. To think that God is in this place would add wings to
prayer, and oil to the flame of our devotion!
Use four: Is God's knowledge infinite? Study sincerity, be
what you seem. "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel
16:7. Men judge the heart by the actions. God judges the actions by the
heart. If the heart is sincere, God will see the faith and bear with
the failing. Asa had his blemishes—but his heart was right with God. God
saw his sincerity, and pardoned his infirmity. Sincerity in a
Christian is like chastity in a wife, which excuses many failings. Sincerity
makes our duties acceptable, like musk among linen, which perfumes it. As Jehu
said to Jehonadab, "Is your heart right with me? And he said, It is. If it
is—give me your hand; and he took him up into the chariot." Just so, if God sees
that our heart is right, that we love him, and aim at his glory—he says, "Give
me your prayers and tears; now you shall come up with me into the chariot of
glory!" Sincerity makes our services to be golden, and God will not cast away
the gold, though it may lack some weight. Is God omniscient, and his eye chiefly
upon the heart? Wear the belt of truth about you, and never leave it off.
Use five: Is God a God of infinite knowledge? Then there is
comfort, (1.) To the saints in particular. (2.) To the church in
(1.) Comfort to SAINTS in particular. In case of private
devotion. Christian, you set hours apart for God, your thoughts run upon him as
your treasure; God takes notice of every good thought. "He had a book of
remembrance written for those who thought upon his name." You enter into your
closet, and pray to your Father in secret; he hears every sigh and groan! "My
groaning is not hidden from you." You water the seed of your prayer with
tears—God bottles every tear! "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have
collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book!"
Psalm 56:8. When the secrets of all hearts shall be opened, God will make an
honorable mention of the zeal and devotion of his people, and he himself will be
the herald of their praises. "Then shall every man have praise of God."
The infiniteness of God's knowledge is a comfort, in the case
of saints who have not a clear knowledge of themselves. They find so much
corruption, that they judge they have no grace. "If it is so--why am I thus? If
I have grace, why is my heart in so dead and earthly a frame?" Oh remember, God
is of infinite knowledge—he can spy grace where you cannot; he can see grace
hidden under corruption, as the stars may be hidden behind a cloud. God can see
that holiness in you, which you can not discern in yourself. He can spy the
flower of grace in you, though overtopped with weeds. "Because there is some
good thing in him." God sees some good thing in His people--when they can see no
good in themselves; and though they judge themselves harshly, He will forgive
their sins and infirmities!
It is comfort in respect of personal injuries. It is the
saints' lot to suffer. The head being crowned with thorns, the feet
must not tread upon roses. If saints find a real purgatory, it is in this
life; but this is their comfort—that God sees the wrong which is done to them;
the pupil of his eye is touched, and is he not sensible of it? Paul was scourged
by cruel hands. "Thrice was I beaten with rods;" as if you should see a slave
whip the king's son! God beholds it. "I know their sorrows." The wicked make
wounds in the backs of the saints, and then pour in vinegar; but God writes down
their cruelty. Believers are a part of Christ's mystical body; and for every
drop of a saint's blood spilt—God puts a drop of wrath in his vial!
(2.) Comfort to the CHURCH of God in general. If God is a
God of knowledge, he sees all the plots of the enemies against Zion, and can
make them abortive. The wicked are treacherous, having borrowed their skill from
the old serpent! They dig deep, to hide their counsels from God—but he sees
them, and can easily counterwork them. The dragon is described with seven
heads—to show how he plots against the church; but God is described with
seven eyes—to show that he sees all the plots and stratagems of the enemies;
and when they deal treacherously, he can easily confound them. "Come," says
Pharaoh, "let us deal wisely." But he never more played the fool, than when he
thought to deal wisely. "During the last watch of the night the Lord looked
down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army, and threw it
into confusion." Exodus 14:24. How may this, like sap in the vine, comfort the
church of God in her earthly state! The Lord has an eye in all the councils and
machinations of the enemy; he sees them in their efforts, and can blow them up
in their own mine!