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infinitely soil the dignity and lustre of his Godhead. There is no perfection, where a possibility exists that errors may find their way into the system. If possible things are not as much within the view of God, or as thoroughly understood by him, as things in actual existence, he must be, in a measure, unprepared to act, when any new event is to be brought forth. He must have known, before the world began, whether such a world as this were fittest to be an instrument of his glory, and of course, what comparison such a model bears to all others, or he could not be in a condition to perform the work of creation. To act upon uncertain principles, or ignorance of what will be the final event, is unworthy of God, as it must deprive him of all rational confidence from creatures.
With some it has been matter of displeasure, that the system of divine rule, which is presented before us in the events of the moral world, should be considered as the best specimen of divine skill and exertion. This has been thought to limit the holy One, as if he had done the best he could, in making such a world as this, and regulating its affairs as he has.
But I see no ground, that such a complaint has to rest upon, unless it can be made apparent, or presumptive, at least, that Jehovah knew, thats ome other plan of providence would have been better, but chose to pass it by for one less excellent ; or that his knowledge was not extensive enough to fathom all possible things, and so he fell into
a mistake from mere ignorance. have no right to inquire how comprehensive the knowledge of God must have been from eternity, and hence should not pretend to say whether God has done and is doing the best possible, in character of moral Governor, is denied.
We are authorized by scripture example to carry our views of God back to a period prior to the foundation of the world. The apostle speaks of the eternal purpose of God, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. He calls our attention to the exercise of divine grace towards us, not. only previous to our holding any personal existence of our own ; but also earlier than the time when other created things began to exist. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." If the scriptures, as in these instances and many others that might be mentioned, carry our minds far: ther back than the commencement of time, to recognize the efficient counsels of the Dei. ty; then surely we are not overleaping the bounds of propriety, in reflecting upon the divine knowledge, in regard to things possible, in distinction from those which are real. We procceed,
Secondly, To treat of God's knowledge, as
it relates to things actually existent. The Psalmist, in connection with the words of the text, is speaking of the wonders of the di. vine hand, and celebrating the benignant operations and dealings of Providence. He is ascribing to God that variety of seasonable and wholesome events, which beautifies the face of the world,and renders the situation of dependent creatures pleasant and prosperous. As Jehovah has all power to do good, so he has wisdom to point out the way. He is not subject to embarrassments arising from acontracted and weak understanding. The things, which are greatest, and most remote from the place, in which we dwell, and where we are most sensibly impressed with ihe effects of a divine overruling hand, are not exempt from the scrutiny of an all-seeing eye. They are as much under the jurisdiction of the most High, and as closely begirt with his allsurrounding presence and inspection, as the things which stand nearer to our view, and most affectingly bespeak their origin from God, and their subjection to his never-failing notice. " He telleth the number of the stars : he calleth them all by their names.” That his understanding is infinite, is an idea, which the Psalmist judges it natural to introduce, when considering his providence as extending, minutely, to the whole host of heaven, at the same time that it sustains the whole weight of those numerous and interesting events, which are every moment taking place, in the world we inhabit. If the countless
orbs, which move above our heads, through the wide expanse of heaven ; the earth, which lies beneath our feet ; and the nameless multitudes of creatures, which surround us on every hand, are all included within the circle of his knowledge, who claims them all as his own; and if they are all, in their natures, properties, and uses, perfectly obvious to his view ; how vast, beyond our most en. larged conceptions, must be his understand. ing? If all created being, a small part of which is, doubtless, known to us, is linked together into onegreat and stupendous whole, under the care, inspection, and disposal of its grand proprietor, and is, by him, distinctly comprehended in the bulk, and is also most thoroughly known in every detached part, however great or small, we may well exclaim, in the words of our text, “ His understanding is infinite!” Instead of finding his equal, or one, who approaches any where near to a parity with him, go where we will, into whatever region of boundless space ; the most intelligent creature that exists, we must own, is not able to scan even the most inconsiderable and trifling of God's works. Take the smallest article of God's workmanship, and present it to the most knowing of the whole intelligent creation, and he will be utterly unable to comprehend it in all its properties and relations. But such is the im mensity of divine knowledge, that, with a single view, it takes in the whole of being, as to its substance, modes, accidents, and
aptnesses of whatever kind. There is notha ing in creation, which is of use to render it subservient to the end for which it exists, but what is clearly and perpetually in the view of its author. The contrary would imply such a defect as would unfit him for the confidence of all reasonable beings. It being found so necessary, that the Judge of all the earth should be infinite in his understanding, we shall endeavour to bring the subject into distinct view, by observing the following things.
1. That God has knowledge of all things, as it respects their individuality. And
2. As it respects their powers, and relation to one another.
3. That this knowledge is eternal and in. divisible. And then inquire
4. What may be considered as the princi. ple of this knowledge:
Our first observation is, that God has a distinct knowledge of all creatures, who, or what, or where they be. He not only knows. that there is a universe of dependent beings, that are very numerous, and diverse from one another ; but he has a particular and full acquaintance with each one. He does not merely distinguish them by their kinds ; but by the several individuals, of which each kind is composed. A general and superficial glance of his eye upon the world he has made does not come up to the true amount of his knowledge. Though