Life eternall or, A treatise of the knowledge of the divine essence and attributes Delivered in XVIII. sermons. By the late faithfull and worthy minister of Iesus Christ, Iohn Preston, D. in Divinity, chaplaine in ordinary to his Majestie, master of Emmanuel Colledge in Cambridge, and sometimes preacher of Lincolns Inne.
Preston, John, 1587-1628., Ball, Thomas, 1589 or 90-1659., Goodwin, Thomas, 1600-1680.

The Jnfinitenesse of his presence, Or, His Jmmensity.

FOr the first. The Infinitenesse his presence,* that is another At∣tribute which hee takes to himselfe in Scripture. As Ier. 23.24. Can any man hide him∣selfe in secret places, that I shall not see him, saith the Lord? Doe not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord? That is, he is present every where, in all the parts of heaven and earth, even as water when it fills every place, and as the light when it shines throughout the whole world: So, Doe not I fill heaven and earth, Page  148 saith the Lord? So, Eph. 4.6. One God and Fa∣ther of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. GOD fills all in all.

[Quest.] Onely this question may be asked, Whether he be without the world, as well as he is in the world? Because some have disputed it; there∣fore we will briefly answer it.

[Answ.] The Scripture is cleare in it, that he is with∣out the world: there is no limits of his essence, that wee can set downe; hee is not contained within the compasse of heaven and earth, as you shall see in 2 Chron 2.6. But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven of heavens cannot containe him? But this is but a curious questi∣on: therefore I will leave it, and will come to shew the reason of his omnipresence, why hee is immense, why he is every where, as I have done in the rest.

*1. This property or Attribute of immensity must needes be given to God, because his essence is infinite, which hath beene before proved. Now as the argument holds good, that accor∣ding to the substance of every thing, such must the quality be in things that have quantity; if the body be great, so must the quantity bee: So, if God be an infinite essence, (as he is) there is as good reason that he should have an infinite presence accompanying it, as that a great bo∣dy hath a quantity answerable to it. So that he is of an infinite being, and therefore also of an infinite presence.

*2. You see see it by experience, and cannot de∣ny Page  149 it, that his power is every where, he guides all things, he puts forth his power every where: Now in the Lord seeing there is no facultie as is in man, but whatsoever is in him, is himselfe; it cannot be, but that he himselfe must be in e∣very place where he doth any thing. The fire may heate afarre off, and so may the Sunne, give light to the whole world, and yet abide in the firmament, because it hath a quality of heat, and light: but Almighty God is most simple, there is no composition in him, no qua∣lity, no executive power, but hee is himselfe what he is, and therefore what he doth is done by himselfe immediatly, immediatione suppositi, as the Schoolemen expresse it.

Lastly, I adde,* that GOD must bee every where present, not onely within the world, but as Salomon expresseth it, The heaven of heavens cannot containe him: that is, hee is without the world as well as within it, because wee cannot deny but that hee is able to make other worlds as well as this; and then if hee should not be without the world, he should move himselfe, and change his place: and there should bee a world where hee is not present: but he is not capable of any change, of any motion or altera∣tion of place.

Onely one caution must be taken in: You see that the light is in many places throughout the world, but the presence of GOD is not like to that presence, nor the presence of any creature, because he is totally present: the creatures are Page  150 not so, but according to the parts of them, one part here, another there: but GOD being without all parts, whereso ever he is, he must be totally there. Therefore you must not conceive, God is commensurable by the place, as if he were partly here, and partly in another place, but he is every where all present. The heavens you see have a large place, but they have one part here, another there: but the Lord is totally pre∣sent, wheresoever he is present.

[Vse 1] First, If God be every where present, so that he doth not doe any thing by a mediate vertue or power,* but he doth it by the presence of his essence, hence we gather: first, that he governes the world immediately. For though there bee meanes vsed, yet hee is present with those meanes. Other Kings must needes governe by Deputies and Viceroyes; and inferiour Magi∣strates of justice, because they cannot be every where: whence it comes to passe, that Kings may be good, and yet the people may be op∣pressed by their wicked instruments. But with the Lord it is not so: but he guides immediatly, and being every where present, he needeth no Deputies, for he is not capable of information, as Kings are, but sees all with his owne eyes, and heares all with his owne eares. And a∣gaine, he useth no Deputies: for the use of De∣puties argues a defect, as the using of spectacles or crutches doth, if the eyes or legges were well and sound inough, a man would not use them; so a man would not write letters, or use Page  151 other meanes to doe his businesse, but from a defect; he is not large inough to doe his busi∣nesse immediately: But almighty God, he is eve∣ry where present, and in his governing al things are done by his owne Almighty power. Good Governours, may have wicked instruments, contrary to their mindes, which they know not of, as Ely, and Samuel had: but in GODS Government it is not so; therefore learne from hence, not to complaine of the iniquitie of the times, or the injustice of men. It is true, that a kind mother may ignorantly put her child to a wicked Nurse, that will abuse it: but GOD never puts any of his children to Nurse, but he is present with them, his government is im∣mediate. So that that which is said of David, he is a man after Gods owne heart, it may be said of every King and Governour; they doe, what God would have them to doe, though it be for evill, as his was for good, they are men after Gods owne heart. As it was in the killing of Iesus Christ, even that is said to be done by the deter∣minate Counsell of God. And therefore let no man complaine of his Governours: for God go∣vernes not by Deputies, but by himselfe. Therefore let no man say, that hee hath an evill Master or Governour, but let him acknow∣ledge, that whatsoever he hath from man, it is the worke of the Almighty God, that is every where present: it is he that disposeth of men, and puts them into such a condition; for he is the King of heaven and earth. Therefore com∣plaine Page  152 to him, and be patient, because he hath done it: doe not complaine of men, and fret against them, because the Lord is not absent in his kingdome, but is present to guide and dispose them according to his owne pleasure.

[Vse 2] Secondly, If GOD be every where present in his owne essence and person, wee should the rather choose him to be our GOD, and re∣joyce much in the amplenesse of our portion, seeing wee have such a GOD that is every where:* we can goe no whither, but he is pre∣sent with us; wee have nothing to doe a thou∣sand miles hence, but he is there, and doth our businesse for us. We seeke a multitude of friends, because one cannot doe it, because one doth one thing, and another another; one friend may be a comfort to us in one place, but if you come to another place, there you may be desti∣tute; friends cannot be every where, hence we neede many friends: but if you looke upon the Lord, and his omnipresence, all this is sup∣plied in him; hee is in every place, and hee can doe your businesses for you, though you be distant from the place, where they are to be done; and GOD is with you every where, as it was his promise to Iacob, when he went to Padan Aram, I will be with thee, saith the Lord. So he said to David; and when Ioseph went into prison, the Lord went with him. When Abra∣ham was called out of his Country, the Lord bid him to goe, I will be with thee. Beloved, when you consider this, that GOD is every where Page  153 present, and can doe every thing for you, whereby he hath the sweetnesse of a thousand friends in him, and the ability of as many; I say, when wee consider this, it should teach us not onely to be content, but to say that we de∣sire no more.

Learne therefore to studie this Attribute. The more we know him by it, the more com∣fort we gather from it. As, is it not matter of great comfort, that in all places wee should have a GOD to doe all our businesses? To which purpose is that expression in Ier. 23.23, 24. Hee is a God nigh at hand: that is, though your businesse lie in other Countries, yet I am there to doe them for you. And againe, is it not comfort to consider that hee is with your enemies (it may be) in a distance place? For you thinke, that if you were there, you would have something to prevent them. Consider that hee is there, and after another manner, than any man is: hee is present with their mindes, and knowes their counsells, and moves their hearts, and disposeth of all their counsells. As Elisha tolde the King of Arams counsell to the King of Israel, (which shewed that GOD was there.) So also hee is present with thy friends when they are absent: it may be that they forget us, yet he can stirre them up, as he did stirre up Cyrus to doe what hee did for the people of Israel. So likewise he is present with our children, when wee are with GOD, when we are gone out of this world, to provide for Page  154 them, and to bring them up. Hee is present with all our affaires, and businesses; when we are absent, and know not how things goe, we are apt to be sollicitous: but if we would con∣sider, that he is a great God, and that he is every where, this should comfort us, and stay our hearts. And therefore thinke with thy selfe, that thou hast a large portion, because thou hast the LORD. And this is the second use.

[Vse 3] Thirdly, If God be every where present, hence you may see a ground for his particular providence. It seemes something strange to men, that every small thing should be disposed of by him;* we thinke indeed that great things are: but for the least things, therein we are apt to make a doubt, and can hardly beleeve it. But this point in hand is a great confirmation of this truth. If an horse stumble by the way, wee thinke it a common accident; if a fly fall into a mans eye, or if a tile fall off from the house, or an axe head, we looke upon them as common accidents; but if we consider that he is present there, it is then an easie matter for us to beleeve, that God doth disposed all these: when the axe head falls off, it is in his hand, as before it was in the hand of the workeman. If he be present with every small creature, with every fly, with every sparrow and stone, with every motion of the creature, then all the actions that befall us, they are all his workes. In him wee live, move, and have our being: that is, hee is present with every creature. Therefore it is no difficulty to Page  155 beleeve, that hee guides the smallest thing. If an enemy hurt us, wee are to thinke, that he is but as a staffe in Gods hand, as it is said of Nebu∣chadnezzar. Every accident is but as a cup, as Christ saith of the cup that was brought to him by others, Shall not I drinke of the cup, which my Father gives me? So wee may say of every af∣fliction. The tongues of men are but scourges in his hand, hee can rule them as he pleaseth: and so wee should thinke of every action. And indeed the more wee thinke of his particular providence, the more wee conceive of his infi∣nitenesse. For why doe wee thinke men to bee present, but because they see and heare? Be∣cause they doe something? If the body be there, and the soule gone, wee say, that the man is absent: it is the action that makes them present. Therefore the Schoolemen say, that the An∣gells are said to bee present here or there, be∣cause they worke there. Therefore, I say, the more that wee can see Gods hand in every acti∣on, the more wee acknowledge his presence. Therefore we should labour to bee abundant in considering the Omnipresence of God upon all oc∣casions: as if a man bee out of the way, and one come and tells him that he is so, wee should bee ready to say, that GOD sent him. If we are in a strait, and know not what to doe, and there come one, and helps vs; wee should say that it comes from God. So did David when Abigail came and met him; he saith that the Lord sent her. 1 Sam: 25.32. And this would Page  156 easily bee beleived, if we would thinke that hee is present every where. There is no man that speakes for us or against us, that doth us either hurt or good, but GOD is present with him, and stirres him up to it, whatsoever it be. 1 Chro. 5.26. And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul King of Assyria, &c. that is, he himselfe was present with his Spirit, he stirred him up: (for the thoughts of men have their rising up, from their spirit stirring them to good or evill.) So also for their speeches: when Shimei cursed David, David saith, that it was the Lord that sent him. So the Lord is present with the creatures: it is hee that acts them, and sets them on worke to doe us any good. And this is the next vse that wee are to make of it.

[Vse 4] Fourthly, If GOD bee present every where, it should teach us patience, and meekenesse, and quietnesse of minde in all injuries and hard measure which wee suffer from men.* This vse you shall see made of it. Phil. 4.5. Let your moderation be knowne unto all men, The Lord is at hand. Iam. 5.8. Bee yee also patient, stablish your hearts; for the comming of the Lord draweth nigh. Therefore when any injury is done you, when you are oppressed by men that have power o∣ver you, yet bee quiet: for GOD sees it, and knowes it; and hee takes care for you. A man will be ready to say, shall I take this? shall I bee trampled under foot? as I shall bee, if I re∣sist them not: saith the Apostle, you neede not Page  157 to feare, for the Lord is present. We use to say, if the Magistrate be not present, we may offend another, to defend our selves; but if the Magi∣strate be present, there is no excuse: so here the Iudge stands at the doore. Servants,* if their Ma∣sters be absent, will defend themselves against their fellow-servants; but if the Master bee there, and looke on, they will let them alone, because he hath power to punish, and knowes better how to revenge them: So is it in this case; when we consider that GOD is present, and that he sees what we suffer, we should be quiet, and patient, and not onely be patient within, but let our patient mindes be knowne unto all men, that is, carry our selves so, that men may see it, and take notice of it. And if you say, that nothing is done, but hee abuseth mee more and more: I answer. Consider, it is not because the Lord is weake, and cannot helpe us; or because he is negligent, and will not doe it; no, he is present, and sees it all the while: but you must consider, that the due time is not come, therefore you must be quiet, and not tu∣multuous in your thoughts, and revengefull in your spirits, because the LORD lookes on, and will avenge you in due time. Therefore this is the thing added in Phil. 4. Because, when a man suffers any thing from another man, then he will be ready to be sollicitous, how to defend him∣selfe, and what he shall doe hereafter; saith the Apostle, Be you in nothing carefull, &c. for the LORD is at hand: that is, he doth not stand by Page  158 as a looker on, or a bare spectator, who meanes to doe nothing but see the injuries done and suffered, but he lookes on, as one that takes care for you. Therefore be you in nothing carefull: but in every thing by prayer, and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made knowne unto GOD.