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.
Page  159

THE SEVENTEENTH SERMON.


EXOD. 3.13, 14.

And Moses said unto God, Behold when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your fathers hath sent mee unto you, and they shall say unto me, what is his name; what shall I say unto them?

And God said unto Moses, I AM, THAT I AM, &c.

[Vse 5] AGaine, If GOD be present with us, this should stirre us up to walke with him,* to be present with him. Shall hee be present with us, wheresover wee are; when we goe by the way, or lie in our beds, or sit in our houses? and shall not we take notice of his presence, and direct our Page  160 thoughts to him, and apply our selves to him? It is an exceeding great dishonour to him. You know, a great man, when he is with you, if you neglect him, and apply your selves to inferiour men, he will take it as a great wrong done unto him, to let him sit alone, and not to regard him. And when the Lord is with us from day to day, will you not take notice of him? Let them con∣sider this, that suffer dayes to passe without any calling upon the Lord, that never thinke of him, nor consider that hee beholds all that they doe: You know, it was the onely commendation of Enoch, that he walked with God.

[Object.] But you will say, What is this to walke with the Lord?

[Answ.] It is to see him present with us, and to make our selves present with him: and what that is, we will easily finde out, when we consider what it is to be present with any one.

The presence of any man is seene in three things.*

[ 1] First, A man that sees and heares all things; that we doe, he is said to be present.

[ 2] Secondly, he that speakes to us, he is present with us.

[ 3] Thirdly, he that acts or doth something a∣bout us or toward us, he is present. In this ma∣ner is GOD present with us; and so we should be with him.*

[ 1] First, we must be present with him, that is, we must see him, as he sees us. Hee that lookes upon the Lord, as beholding him, as knowing Page  161 all that he doth, hee that observes all these pas∣sages of his providence toward him, and about him, hee makes himselfe present with the Lord.

[ 2] Secondly, he that speakes to the Lord, and maketh knowne his secrets to him, and o∣peens to him all his desires, and all his greifes upon all occasions, he makes himselfe present with him.

[ 3] Thirdly, he that pleaseth GOD in all his actions, and doth what is acceptable to him, that doth what he hath commanded, and ab∣staines from what hee hath forbidnen, he which behaves himselfe after this manner, makes him∣selfe present with the Lord. For this last, you shall see, if you compare that in Genesis, of E∣nochs walking with GOD, with that in Heb. 11.5. To make our actions agreable to the rule of his will, this is to walke with the Lord: for E∣noch is said to walke with God, in Genesi; and in the Hebrewes he is said to please of the Lord.

And, as wee must be thus present with the Lord, So [ 2] secondly, wee must make him pre∣sent with us. [ 1] As first, we must looke upon him, as one who obserueth all that we doe. When a man hath this full perswasion in his heart, not onely habitually, but actually, that the Lord lookes upon him in all that he speakes, and doth, hee makes the Lord present with him; [ 2] So se∣condly, when a man shall observe the Lord spea∣king to him, which a man doth in meditating in the word. But this is not inough: but you Page  162 must observe what the Lord saith to you upon every occasion, and in every passage of his pro∣vidence also.

But you will say, that the Lord doth not speake to us now as he did to the Prophets.

Yes, he doth in a manner speake to us.

How doth the Lord speake to us now?

Hee speakes to our consciences: that is the immediate deputy by which he speakes to eve∣ry man. And also hee speakes to us by the suggestions of the Spirit, and the good motions of it: hee speakes to us by the good counsell of our friends, and of the Ministers, and others; hee speakes to us by the passages of his provi∣dence (for a man may make knowne his will by his actions, as well as by his word.) I say, to observe what the Lord saith to us in all these, this is a part of our walking with him.

[ 3] Lastly, so consider what hee doth, and what the mercies are, which hee shewes to thee: what corrections, what judgements, what turnings of his providence, what hee doth to those that are neare thee; (for God would have us to take speciall notice of it, as in Dan. 5.22. So observe what is brought to your know∣ledge; for as the word of God, so also his workers ought to bee sought out by them that belong to him.

After this manner wee should walke with the Lord from day to day. And it is one thing re∣quired, whereof you are put in minde, when you here that he is every where present, you should Page  163 bee present with him upon all occasions, and observe his dealing towards you, and your carriage to him. Every man walkes with some∣thing continually: now looke what a mans mind is busied about most, that he walkes with. And indeed, to walke with any thing, is to giue it the honour that is due onely to GOD. When a man is busie about what men thinke of him; about his riches and estate, how they ebbe and flow, about his credit with men; these are the things that a man walkes with. Beloved, you are not to goe a step with any thing, except hee send you on such an errand, as a Master doth his servant; but you are to walke with him from day to day. It is possible that a man may bee in company, and his mind bee in another place, and busied about other things: and where his mind is, there hee walkes. A man may bee in the world, and yet his mind and conversation in heaven; as Enoch did the things of this life, and yet hee is said to walke with God: if thou doest so, this is a signe that thou lovest GOD; for to walke with a thing, it is the best argu∣ment that thou lovest it. Let a man professe never so much love to a freind, if he will not walke with him, it is but in shew, and not in truth. If thou wouldest shew thy love to God, why doest thou not walke with him? If there bee a freind that thou lovest, doest thou not de∣sire to bee with him? And when thou art in company with him, is it not a signe also of re∣spect. As when many are together, all goe to Page  164 the chiefe man: so thou must walke with GOD. You know what GOD saith to Abraham, Gen. 17.1. I am God All-sufficient: walke with me, and hee thou perfect. Marke here the connection: as if he should say, Abraham, when I desire this, thou shouldest withdraw thy selfe from all o∣ther creatures, and things, to walke with me: know that there is great reason for it, for I am All-sufficient, thou needest no other. If thou hast a friend all-sufficient, hast thou not need to walke with him? But as wee shewed you, God is in stead of ten thousand friends. A man needs many friends, a friend at Court, a friend at home, a friend abroad, to be there where hee himselfe cannot bee: but wheresoever thou go∣est, the Lord is with thee: if into banishment, banishment is nothing you will say, if I might have all my companions with mee; now re∣member, that GOD is with thee: if thou goest into imprisonment, hee is there. A man will say, that no friend in the world can doe so, but yet the Lord doth. When Iacob went to Padax Aram, GOD promised him, that he would goe with him, Ioseph, when he went into prison, GOD went with him: and with Paul when he was in bonds. And Abraham was banished in∣to a strange Country, and the Lord tells him, that he would bee with him there: and that makes a mans home and country, and liber∣ty to bee every where, hee is at home, when he is a broad; and at liberty, when he is in pri∣son. Now therefore let a man consider this, Page  165 that wheresoever he is, yet GOD is with him; who is able to direct us in all our doubts, to de∣fend us in all danger, and to provide for us in all our necessities. And then consider also what benefit comes by this; thou shalt grow ac∣quainted with him, and then thou canst finde the way to him upon all occasions whatsoe∣ver, when other men cannot. Another man would faine goe to GOD, but he knowes not the way. Iob. 22.21. Acquaint now thy selfe with him, and be at peace, thereby good shall come unto thee: that is, serve GOD, and thou shalt prosper. The meaning is this, one that is ac∣quainted with GOD, when he hath any thing to doe, he may goe to GOD, and get helpe from him, and so bring his enterprises to passe: he knowes the way to put up a prayer to him, and he shall finde a present helpe upon all occasi∣ons.

So consider in the time of death; if thou hast accustomed thy selfe to walke with God, if in thy life time thou hast beene acquainted with him, death will be no death to thee. Death in∣deede is bitter, because it drawes a man from his home, from his friends and acquaintance, and into a strange place: and therefore you use to say, we know not what we shall have here∣after, we know what we have here, and there∣fore the soule trembles at it. Whence comes this, but because we have not beene wonted to walke with the LORD? Is it a great thing for him to die, when he hath the same company, and Page  166 the same friends with him still? It is but chan∣cing the place, not his company: one of the spee∣ches repeated by the Authour at his death: for he is present every where. Therefore our du∣ty thence is, no maintaine such a constant com∣munion with him, that we may be able to fetch helpe, and comfort, and direction from him, so that we neede not turne aside to the creatures, and be dependent upon them. And indeed one that is acquainted with the LORD, and hath full communion with him, may be satisfied with that alone: for what is it that makes a man to desire company? It ariseth from these two things.

[ 1] First, partly because one would have fit ob∣jects to exercise his faculties upon: which if hee had not, they would languish, and a weari∣somnesse would grow upon them.

[ 2] Secondly, because hee would have know∣ledge and direction, and helpe and advice, and comfort brought into his empty heart, by such friends as are able to suggest it to him: and therefore they desire company. Now shall they not finde this in the Lord more than in any creature? Is not he then the worthiest and the highest object, on whom they should bestow their thoughts?

Againe, cannot he fill thy heart with joy and comfort? is not he onely wise to give thee di∣rection upon all occasions? and is there any then that thou shouldest choose to walke with more than with him? Every man, the more Page  167 faith he hath, and the more wisedome he hath, the more able hee is to walke with GOD, and with himselfe: the more unbeleeving, and weake, and unconstant, the more unable hee is to be alone. And the ground of it is: By faith a man walkes with God, and by reflection hee walkes with himselfe. There are two companions which a man needes never to be destitute of, GOD and himselfe.

[ 1] First, a man walkes by faith when hee sees GOD present, and speaking to him, and hee speakes againe to the LORD: and the stron∣ger a mans faith is, the more he doth it.

[ 2] Againe, a man walkes with himselfe by re∣flection on his owne actions, and heart, and wayes; a beast cannot walke with it selfe, be∣cause it cannot recoyle and turne in upon it selfe; neither can children or fooles, or weake and unconstant men: therefore they cannot be without company, it is a hell to them to be alone; and the lesse a mans wisedome is, the more he complaines of want of company.

Seeing therefore God is every where present, labour to strengthen thy faith in that his pre∣sence, and so thou maist still be with him, and walke with him.

And then secondly, labour to speake to thy selfe, to reproove and admonish thy selfe, to consider thine owne wayes and actions, to cheare and comfort thy selfe, (for these are all the actions of one that makes himselfe a com∣panion:) and hee that doth these things, shall Page  168 never complaine of want of company, and soli∣tarinesse.

*Sixthly, If God bee every where present, then he is present to observe all the sinnes that thou committest, and to observe all the good that thou doest. Then make this use of it: that the presence of the Lord should be a restraint to keepe thee from sinning, on the one hand, and it should incourage thee on the other hand to a∣bound in every good worke.* Therefore a man should say thus with himselfe: I dare not doe this, because God is present, he stands by and lookes on. It was Iosephs reason to his Mistres. Though we be alone, yet God is present, and be∣holdes it: And how can I doe this great wickednesse, and sinne against God, As if he should say; though we see him not, yet he is present, and sees it, and knowes it. And not onely say, I dare not doe it, but thou shouldest say, I dare not so much as thinke it: for he beholdes the thoughts. You shall see an excellent place for this, if you com∣pare Iob. 31. verse: 1. and 4. together, it is one continued speech. I have made a covenant with mine eyes: why then should I thinke upon a maid? Doth not hee see my wayes and count all my steps? As if hee should say; I durst not give so much as give liberty to my thoughts, because hee be∣held all my wayes. it is a question which those that feare God have beene wont to aske; How shall I doe to bee rid of such and such thoughts, that haunt mee continually? I would very faine bee rid of them. This is an excellent Page  169 way: to consider that GOD himselfe stands by annd knowes all thy thoughts, and takes no∣tice of them. As put this case; Suppose a wise and godly man should stand by and take notice of all thy base thoughts, that passe through thy heart, wouldest thou not bee ashamed of thy selfe? If thy body were made a glasse, and men should see all thy thoughts through it, wouldst thou not bee ashamed of them, and carefull in them, as wee are of our actions now before men? Now to consider that the Lord beholds them, to consider that he sees every thought, (the least whereof is no light matter,) this would be a meanes to restraine thee. Nay con∣sider, that the Lord doth not onely behold them, but he ponders all thy actions, to giue thee the fruit of them: so that God doth not stand by as a meere looker on, but he takes such notice of all thy thoughts, that passe through thy heart, and all thy vaine words, that he weighes them, as it were. And therefore hee is said in Scripture so often, to ponder our wayes. He puts thy sins, and those lusts in one ballance, and his censure in the other; and gives thee according: he puts weight for weight; he gives thee correction, if thou art his child, and judgement if thou bee wicked. Therefore thou must consider who it is that knowes them; what a one he is: as it is in Rev. 2. when he tells his Churches that hee knowes them all, then hee describes himselfe, what a one he is: as his eyes to be of flaming fire, and his feete like brasse. This, if conside∣red, Page  110 would make a man to looke about him. If there was a company set together, and there was an informer standing by, and did note downe in his table-book what they did, and did declare it to their enemies, or to the King and Counsell, men would be exceeding wary, they would ponder every word before they spake: so when GOD is present, and beholdeth all that thou doest; hast thou not reason much more to consider thy wayes? Men say indeed, that the Lord is present every where, but our lives shew that wee thinke like the Atheists in Iob, that God is shut up in the thicke clouds, and cannot see through them. Yea there is noe man, but needs an increase of faith in this point. For if it were fully believed, it could not be, but that wee should take more heed to our wayes and thoughts than we doe. Therefore to con∣vince you of and perswade you to this, I will name two places. One you shall finde in Ephe. 4.6. One God, one Lord, who is aboue you all, and in you all, and through all. First he is above all. As a man that stands above can see all that is done below: so the Lord lookes downe, and beholds all that is done on earth, as a man in an high place, sees all that is done below.

But it may bee objected, though a man be a∣boue, yet there may be some corners, some rockes and dens, so that he may hide himselfe from the eyes of him that is aboue him: there∣fore it is added, who is in you all; that is, he be∣holds every thought, every secret place, every Page  111 corner of our hearts: he is in you all, and through all. This you shall find more at large in Psa. 139.1. O Lord thou hast searched me and knowne me, thou knowest my downe sitting and mine up ri∣sing, thou understandest my thoughts afarre off &c. The meaning of it is this. David labours to perswade his owne heart, that God is present with him; and he doth it by the argument: If I goe forward the Lord is there; if on this side or that side, yet still he is present, he compas∣seth me round about, he is behind and before: therefore it must needs be, that there is not a word that I speake or a thought that I thinke, but he sees and heares all. Yea, he knowes my thoughts afarre off, that is, as a man that knowes what rootes he hath in his garden, though there be not a flower appeares, yet he can say, when the spring comes, this and this will come up, be∣cause he knowes the garden, and knowes what roots are there: So the Lord knowes a mans thoughts afarre off, because he knowes the prin∣ciples that are within, and he knowes what they would doe, when occasion is offered; and therefore saith David, I have cause to feare ex∣ceedingly before him. Nay, he doth not onely see mens thoughts afarre off, but he will judge you afarre off for them. Wee use to destroy hem∣locke even in the middest of winter, because wee know what it will doe, if it be suffered to grow: so the Lord doth cut off men long before, be∣cause, he knowes that they will doe this and this. Such passages of his providence there Page  172 may be, as to cut off children and yong men out of the foresight of the evill, that they would doe to his Church, because he knowes their thoughts afarre off.

So hee knowes thy thoughts for good afarre off: therefore though a child of God may bee cut off in some undiscovered sinne, when hee hath not actually repented, yet GOD forgives it him, because he knowes what he would doe, if he had time to repent, and should come to dis∣cover it: and therefore GOD judgeth him ac∣cordingly: and likewise if wee have begun any good worke, if we be cut off before we have finished it, yet remember, that GOD knowes what wee would doe. And seing hee doth this, we should learne, exceedingly to feare before him, to ponder our owne thoughts and speech∣es, seing GOD himselfe takes notice fo them.

So it should bee a continuall incouragement to consider that GOD takes notice of all the good that we doe, as well as of the evill: Rev. 2. and 3. I know thy workes, thy labour and thy pa∣tience, I know thy sufferings; that is, when a man is miscalled, slandered, and evill spoken of, be∣cause he serves and feares God, because he is none of the worlds owne, and therefore it shewes forth its hatred in word, when it cannot in deed; (for malice must have some vent) yet I know thy sufferings, and let it bee inough that I know them and register them: there is not the least suffering but I take notice of it, and it shall bee Page  173 rewarded. Againe, men take much paines, and no man regardes it; yet God takes notice of their labour, and their paines, and not of their workes onely, but their labour in doing them, and sees what ends they put upon all. Againe, men put up injuries, and suffer much wrong, yet saith the Lord, I know thy patience &c. What is said of this may be said of all other good actions. And it is a great honour to the Lord, that we are con∣tent with this, that he alone knowes it. And so we may be well inough; for his knowledge will bring in a sure fruit with it, as he saith to Iacob. Gen. 31. I know all the labour thou hast done unto me. And what followed that? Why, God taught Iacob how to inlarge his wages, and so translated Labans substance to him. So Psa. 1. last. The meaning is, the Lord knowes the way of the righteous, and therefore it doth prosper, and shall. And he knowes the way of the wicked, and therefore they shall perish, Therefore it is inough to us, that he is present, and sees it, and knowes it.

Againe this should stire us up to good duties, seeing he is alwaies present; you dnow souldi∣ers though they are some what cowardly other∣wise, yet in the presence of the Generall, if hee looke on they will adventure much: so servants that are otherwise idle, yet they will doe eye-service, they will worke while the Master lookes on: so when we consider that the Lord stands by, and lookes on, and takes notice what paines we take, how we doe fight his battells, Page  174 and what wee doe for him, it should incourage us and makes us abundant in the worke of the Lord, seeing we know, that our labour is not in vaine in the Lord. Nay it is an incouragement against the discouragement of men; thou maist have discouragement from friends, from neigh∣bours, and the place where thou livest: yet let this bee thy comfort, the Lord is present; hee knowes thy dwelling, thy neighbours, who is for thee, and who against thee, he knowes the difficulties thou meetest with any performāce, he knowes what hindrāce thou hast, as it is there in the verse: 13. I know thy workes, and where thou dwellest, even where Sathans seat is, and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those dayes wherein Antipas was my faith∣full Martyr, who was slaine among you, where Sathan dwelleth.

[Vse 7] Seventhly, this should bee an exceeding great terrour to all men that remaine in the state of unregeneration. The Lord is their enemy, and they have such an enemy from whome they cannot fly or escape,* which is a miserable thing. On earth if man have an enemy in one place, if he goe to another he is free; if he have an e∣nemy in one land, yet he may fly to another, and there be free; and how ever, yet when he dies, he shall bee free from the voice of the oppres∣sors, and the wearied shall bee at rest, as Iob saith; his enemy can follow him no further: But con∣sider what an enemy God is, who is every where present; fly whither thou canst, he followes Page  175 thee, if thou goest into another Country, hee will be with thee there; or if thou diest and goe into another world, yet still he followes thee. I presse it the rather, because, when some great man makes request to a man, and God commands the contrary; when the commands of God and men differ, they will rather make God their ene∣my than a powerfull man. Thus men wrench their consciences, because they choose rather GODS enmity than mens. Doe but consider what it is, to have the Lord your enemy, he will meet thee in every place: Though man be thy enemy, yet he meetes not with thee every where; if thou be in thy chamber, hee cannot come at thee, but God will meete with thee there. And how will he meet thee? Hee will meet thee as a Lyon, and as a Beare robbed of her whelpes. You shall see how the Lord expres∣seth it: Amos 9.2.3.4.*Though they digge into Hell, thence shall my hand take them: though they climbe up to heaven, thence will I bring them downe. &c. It is a common opinion, that if men have strong freinds, strong Towers, and a strong Land, that is well beset the Sea, and clifts, or great estates that will defend them; then they are safe: but if the Lord be thine ene∣my, none of these will doe thee any good, verse 2.4. and yet if a man hath made peace with his enemies, he thinkes himselfe safe, as if there were no other enemy but mortall men. So the Iewes not being killed, but going into captivity onely, thought their lives safe, their peace Page  176 made: but, saith the Lord, If you goe into captivi∣ty, yet there I will command the sword to slay you: verse 4. The meaning is this: no condition that a man can be in, no greatnesse, though he be compassed about with friends and safety on every side, can availe, if God be his enemy; he will pull thee from the midst of the sea: verse 3. and which yet is an hard thing, to finde a man in the midst of the sea: and all this is but to describe that no condition is safe, when God is a mans e∣nemy.

And thus much for this Attribute.

THE EIGHTH AT∣TRIBVTE OF GOD;

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.

FINIS.