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they have not stretch of mind sufficient to take in at once all the objects and circum-. stances concerned ; but are under a necessity of viewing things separately, and of gradual. ly going from one thing to another. Jehovah must be liable to a degree of the same incon. venience, provided his knowledge be not, as just observed, both infinite in extent, and eternal in duration. Whenever he may be said to know any single thing, he may also be said to know all things, whether to us they be present, past, or future, and to know them all in the same perfect manner, that he does the particular individual thing, which his eye is supposed to be upon.
This knowledge, so universal, which imbosoms great things and small, the productions of one age, equally with those of another, and consolidates them all into one compact body, does not relate merely to living things, or things material and visible, or to things which may be contemplated and known by man ; but to whatever is. Angels and worms, together with all intermediate beings ; the bright orbs of heaven and the most imperceptible attoms, that circulate in space, together with all such things as occupy the intermediate space; the glorious exploits and sublime meditations of Cherubim and Seraphim, and the most seemingly insignificant actions, un meaning words, or feeble thoughts and perceptions of the least among men, with all similar matters between these two opposite extremes ; and whatever can come into the thought of God, angel, or
man, however great or small, magnificient or minute ; all these things are objects known to God, which his eye comprehends without cessation or interruption, from eternity to eternity. However inconceivably exalted the height, to which this doctrine raises the Dei. ty; yet it does no more certainly, than the words of our text, which declare, that his understanding is infinite ; nor than is requi. site to his holding a just title to the confidence of his creatures. Though our minds cannot keep pace with Deity, in this boundless stretch of knowledge ; yet we cannot but see, that if, in this attribute, he is any way limited, to any degree whatever, he must be, in some measure, at least, rendered incapable of governing in the best manner. If knowl. edge be a useful attribute, the subject of it is not complete, so long as any thing is want. ing to him upon this head. Deity
is, therefore, not complete, and consequently, not worthy to be confided in, altogether, if his knowledge be not, identically and precisely the same at one point, as at another, of infinite duration. He had, therefore, from eternity, exactly the same knowledge of what takes place to-day, as he has at the present time, or will have, at any future period. This agrees with the following words of St. James, “ Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” It is his, to declare the end from the beginning.
4. We are now to inquire what may be considered as the principle of that knowl.,
edge, which is a peculiar attribute of the Deity. All the knowledge, which men possess, comes to them through some certain medium. The exercises of their own minds they know by conciousness. That two and two are equal to four, or that it is impossible a thing should be and not be, at the same time, they know by intuition. That the sun shines, that vapours fall in rain or snow, that stone is solid, and water liquid, and other truths of this kind, they know by sensation. That there is a God, they know by reasoning, or inferring one thing from another. That events of some certain description will take place, at a future time, they can know only by revelation.
These are some of the principles of that knowledge, which is within the compass of the human mind. Being in possession of these means of knowledge, it is no wise incredible that men should become acquainted with some of the objects or truths, that are propagated to the mind in such channels. But Deity is not dependent upon such modes of acquisi. tion for the knowledge he has of things. Now, as we are so prone to judge of the qual. ities and circumstances of all other intelligent beings by our own, it behoves us to be ex. ceedingly careful to find the true difference between those principles, upon which he holds his knowledge, and those, by which we obtain ours. As to things now in being, or already caused, every one, no doubt, will find it easy to give in that Diety may have a
medium of knowing them, answering to those organs of perception in us, by which we acquaint ourselves with objects that are placed before us. But we have no means of our own for knowing what shall be hereafter. God, however, it is admitted, knows future things as perfectly as he does the present or the past. Hence the term, foreknowledge, is often applied to him, in the scriptures. But some say, with God nothing is future or past. Let this be as it may, it is, no doubt, proper for us to say, that when the world was created, the event of its final destruction was future ; or that, when the former event took place, the latter remained uncaused. Its destruction must be subsequent to its creation. If we may not express ourselves in this manner, we may not open our lips upon the subject, nor copy the expressions of holy writ. It is as proper to say, that the works of God are without order of time, as to say this of his knowledge. If God knows nothing future, then he certainly knows no future exercise of his own power or goodness, which implies that every production of his hand is a present thing, and, consequently, that the creation of the world is not before the great conflagration, when it is to be burnt up. To us there are futurities, no doubt, whether or not there be any with God.
With us they are things utterly unknown and unforeseen, until they are brought to our view by some one competent to predict them. We can have no prescience of them, for this reason,
that whatever be their cause, it is unknown to us.
Could we anticipate, or foresee, the cause, by which they are to be produced, we should also have a foreknowledge of the events themselves. Whatever cause comes into our view, all its effects appear with it. The former cannot be discovered without the latter. As the events of hereafter have no dependence, ultimately, on our will, or any efficiency, with which we are acquainted, we must, of necessity, continue ignorant of them, until actually brought into being. The game would hold good in regard to the divine Be. ing, were not his own will the active source, whence all things are derived, and he were not necessarily acquainted with the operations of his own mind. He can no more foresee an effect without a foreknowledge of its cause, than we can If any thing shall take place, in future, in dependence on any cause out of himself, of that effect he must be ignorant, until it has actually taken plaçe, as fatally as the most short sighted of mortal men. Or if any thing could be supposed to come forth into existence without cause, of that, there could be no prescience, even in the mind of God. If a reason for this position be demanded, it is this, that the foreknowledge of such a supposed event has nothing to stand upon. The thing does not exist in itself, nor in relation to any other thing, and, therefore, to conceive of a possible clue, by which to get at the knowledge of it, is absurd. The same difficulty will be found in the othep