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.

His Omnipotence.

THE next Attribute is the Omni∣potence of GOD:* for wee tolde you, that this Infinite∣nesse of GOD consisted in foure things.

First, In the Infinitenesse of his presence.

Secondly, In the Infinitenesse of his power.

Thirdly, In the Infinitenesse of his wise∣dome.

Page  177Fourthly, In the Absolutenesse of his will. The first of these we have spoken of his Omni∣presence: now we come to speake of his Omni∣potence.

I will not stand to prove it. It is observed by some Divines, that God is almighty, is ex∣pressed seventy times in the Scripture. Mat. 19.26. Luke 1.39. To God nothing is impossible. He doth whatsoever he will: and in Genesis, it is said, The God almighty be with thee, &c. Genes. 28.3.

In handling this Attribute, I will shew you what it is, and the reasons of it, and the obje∣ctions against it, as I have done in the rest.

The Omnipotence of God lyes in this, that hee is able to doe whatsoever is absolutely, sim∣ply, and generally possible to be done. Other things can doe what is possible to doe in their owne kinde; as fire can doe what belongs to fire to doe; and a Lion can doe what is possible for him to doe: so men, and Angels: but no creature can doe what is simply and absolutely possible to be done. Now whatsoever can be done, when the nature of the thing is not re∣pugnant to it, without any limitation, that the Lord is able to doe: and herein is his Omni∣potence seene. And the ground of it is this.

Because all creatures are put into their seve∣rall kindes; a man is one kinde of creature, he is not an Angel; Angels are another kinde, they are not men; and as they are put in seve∣rall kindes, and hedged in, and limited with Page  178 bounds and definitions, so is their power limi∣ted; they can doe what is in their owne sphaere, and according to their essence and being, such is their power: But the Lord is a being without all limits and restraint, an absolute being, and an unlimited essence; and therefore he can be said not onely to doe things within such a compasse, within this or that kinde, but whatsoever is simply, and absolutely possible to be done; even that his power reacheth unto, and this is properly his Omnipotence.

There is no Attribute of GOD, that doth need a greater degree of faith than this: there∣fore reasons are not unnecessary. The first rea∣son therefore is this.

*First, consider, that he that made these great things, he that made the highest heavens, and those heavens that thou seest, he that made the earth, and the deepe sea, he that made the wind, and the treasures of snow, and haile, hee that made the Angels, hee that wrought so many miracles, thou must thinke that hee that doth these things can doe the like: as hee that hath made a faire picture or statue, hee can make an∣other; he that makes a faire house, you are ready to say, that he is able to build another. Looke then upon his great workes, and you will thinke that he is able to doe the like. This is an argument very frequent in Scripture, when there is any occasion of expressing Gods great power to bring any thing to passe: as hee that made heaven and earth, he that brought the children Page  179 of Israell out of Egipt, he that divided the red sea, he that wrought the wonders in Egipt before Pharoh and all his host; and such like.

Secondly,* consider the manner how the Lord did all these things. You know he did no more, but say, Let there bee light, and there was light: Let the trees bring forth, let the fishes mul∣tiply, and the aire bee filled with fowle, and it was so. Now to doe such things with a word, with such facility, is a signe of an infinite power: for when one can doe great things, with his breath, or little finger, we are apt to say, what could he doe if he put his whole strength to it? So the manner of his working doth shew the infinite∣nesse of his power.

Thirdly,* the further any thing is off from be∣ing, the more power it requires to bring it to Being. As take base materialls, and there is greater power required, to make a faire buil∣ding of them; to make a goodly statue of a crooked piece of wood, is harder, than that which comes neerer in propinquity to it. Now no being at all is in a thousand times greater di∣stance, than the basest materialls are from such or such a being, and therefore the power must bee infinitely greater that brings it to being. Now the Lord hath done this, therefore his power must bee infinite great. To make this more plaine to you; Consider what it is that restraines mans power, so that he can goe no further: it is because the matter will not permit him. If you give him clay, and straw, hee can Page  180 make bricke; but if you give him nothing, hee can doe nothing: so if you give him timber, he can make an house; but if you give him none of these, hee can doe nothing. But suppose now, there was such an architectour, such a builder, that if he did but imagine the modell or frame of an house in his minde, hee could set it up of nothing, or make materialls at his plea∣sure, hee could make it as bigge as he could con∣ceive it, then also he could make as many hou∣ses as hee could thinke of, and in as great and large a manner, as hee could conceive, if there were such a one, there would bee no restraint to him. Now the Lord is such a builder, what∣soever he conceives, he can make it without any thing, as he did the heavens and the earth: and therefore there is no restraint in his power, as there is in the creature.

*Fourthly, consider that the Attributes of God are equall, and needes must be so, because eve∣ry Attribute is his essence, and wee doe but distinguish then in our understanding: his omni∣potencie is but the active power, his wll, the com∣manding; and his understanding, the directing: we distinguish them thus. But in him they are all one. Hence I reason thus: the wisedome of GOD, the largenesse and infinitenesse of his understanding and knowledge, what is it not able to conceive? You know men are able to thinke much, and Angells more than men, but GOD is able to conceive infinitely beyond them: For his thoughts are above ours, as the hea∣vens Page  181 are above the earth. Now whatsoever hee can conceive, his power is able to act it. In man it is not so; he imagines and wills many things, but his power falls short, because his faculties are not as large as the object: but God can imagine infinitely, and his power is as large and infinite as his wisedome: therefore he must be able to doe things that are infinite. So Psa: 135. He doth whatsoever he will, to shew that his power is as large as his will: which cannot bee said of any creature. Consider these things; for when you are in distresse, and put to it, you shall find need of them to perswade you that God is Allmighty.

Now I come to answer the objections which are made against this, which are these.

[Object. 1] First, why doth GOD produce no infinite thing, no infinite effect? All his effects are fi∣nite: therefore we cannot see by any thing hee doth, that he is omnipotent.

[Answ.] It is true in naturall causes, and such causes as produce things onely like to themselves, which are called univocall causes, (but I will not trouble you with that distinction) there the cause goes not beyond the effect: as fire begets fire, and it cannot but beget it, and it cannot goe be∣yond it, for it is a naturall cause, and produceth effects like to it selfe; So a Lion begets a Lion, because it is a naturall cause.

But there are causes wherein it is not so; wherein you must not say, that there is no such Page  182 effect, and therefore the cause doth not goe be∣yond it: that is, in voluntary causes, wherein the cause not worke necessarily, but by the li∣berty of his will, and he may be able to doe much more than he doth.

[Object. 2] 2. There are some things which GOD can∣not doe, as things that are past, and have beene, hee cannot cause them not to have beene, &c.

[Answ.] The reason why GOD cannot doe these things, is not because there is a restraint of his power, but because the things are not possible to be done; because he cannot make truth to be falshood, or things that are, not to be; what∣soever implies a contradiction, he cannot doe: and the reason is, because the things are not to be done: But in things simply possible, therein consists his omnipotence: as when it is not con∣trary to the nature of the thing, as when the praedicate is not repugnant to the nature and essence of the subject; as a Lyon being a Lyon cannot be a man, this is a thing that cannot be done: therefore it is no impeachment to his om∣nipotence not to doe it.

[Object. 3] 3. God cannot sinne, GOD cannot deny himselfe, he cannot lye, &c.

[Answ.] We need not answer this: for even for this cause he is omnipotent, because hee cannot doe these things. As if I should say, the Sunne is Page  183 full of light, it cannot be darke. These are the expressions which the Scripture useth: as Tit. 1.2. God cannot lie: and 2 Tim. 2.13. God cannot deny himselfe.