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The incomprehenfibleness of God.

JOB xi. 7.

Canft thou by fearching find out GOD? Canft thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?

N treating of the properties and perfections of S ER M.

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ref CLVI. God, I fhall at prefent confider that which refults from the infinite excellency of his nature and perfection, compared with the imperfection of our understandings, which is commonly called, the incomprehenfiblenefs of GOD. This you have expreffed here in the words of Zophar, "Canft thou by fearching find out GOD?" &c.

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There is no great difficulty in the words; "Canft "thou by fearching find out GOD," potefne perveftigare intima Dei, fo Caftalio tranflates it. Doft thou know God intimately, and thoroughly within and without? Canft thou pierce into the centre of his perfections, and dive into the bottom of them? And, "Canft thou find out the Almighty to perfection?" Canft thou find out the Almighty, ufque ad ultima, to the very last and utmost of him? fo as thou canft fay after a thorough fearch and enquiry, there is no perfection in GoD beyond this, there is nothing of him now that remains to be known; this he is, and no other; that he is, and no otherwife; this he can do, and no more; hither doth his knowledge, and power, and wisdom reach, and no farther.




"Canft thou do this?" These interrogations have the force of a vehement negation; as if he had faid, "No, thou canst not; GOD is unfearchable, he is "incomprehenfible."

The two queftions in the text seem to be only two several expreffions of the fame thing. The first queftion is undoubtedly general, concerning the nature and perfections of GOD in general; "Canft "thou by fearching find out GOD?" Canft thou by the most diligent fearch and enquiry come to a perfect knowledge and understanding of him?

The fecond queftion may feem to be a particular inftance to the general truth implied in the first queftion; he seems to inftance in his power; as if he had faid, "GOD is unfearchable," and then had inftanced in a particular perfection, "the power of

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GOD, canft thou by fearching find out GOD?" Thou canst not comprehend the divine nature and perfections in general; "Cant thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?" Confider particularly his power, and fee if thou canft know the utmost of that. But I rather think, that the latter question is altogether the fame in fenfe with the former; and that the attribute of Almighty, which is here given to God, is used by way of defcription, and not intended by way of inftance. "Canft thou find out "the Almighty," that is, GOD, "unto perfection?" Which way foever we take the words, it is not much material; we may ground this obfervation upon


That Gon is incomprehenfible.

This term or attribute is a relative term, and speaks a relation between an object and a faculty, between Go and a created underftanding; fo that the meaning of it is plainly this, that no created understanding can comprehend Gon, that is, have a perfect and



exact knowledge of him, fuch a knowledge as is SER M.
adequate to the perfection of the object. Or thus,
the nature and perfections of GoD are above the un-
derstanding of any of his creatures; it is only his
own infinite understanding that can frame a perfect
idea of his own perfection. God knows himself, his
own understanding comprehends his own perfections:
but he is "incomprehenfible to his creatures."

Indeed, there is nothing more obvious than God;
for "he is not far from every one of us; in him we
"live, and move, and have our being;" there
needs no great fearch to find out there is a GOD;
"an eternal power and deity are clearly feen in the
"things which are made," as the apoftle tells us ;
but the manner of the being, and properties, and
perfections of this GOD, these cannot be compre-
hended by a finite understanding. I fhall prove the
doctrine, and then apply it.

Firft, For the proof of it. I will attempt it these
three ways.

I. By way of inftance, or induction of particulars.
II. By way of conviction.

III. By giving the clear reafon of it.

I. By way of inftance. And I fhall give you in-
stances both on the part of the object, and of the
subject; or the persons who are capable of knowing
GOD in any degree.

1. On the part of the object. The nature of God,
the excellency and perfection of GOD, the works and
ways of God are above our thoughts and apprehen-
fions. The nature of GOD; it is vaft and infinite,
Job xxxvi. 26. "GOD is great, and we know him
"not." Job xxxvii. 23. "Touching the Almigh-
ty, we cannot find him out." Pfal. cxlv.


greatness is unfearchable."


The excellencies and perfections of God; his im


SERM. menfity, 2 Chron. ii. 6.
CLVI. 66

"The heaven of heavens cannot contain him :" The eternity of his duration, "from everlasting to everlasting he is GOD." We cannot imagine any limits of his prefence, nor bounds of his duration: the infinitenefs of his knowledge, Pfal cxlvii. 5. "His understanding is infi nite." When we think of the wifdom and knowledge of God, our beft way is to fall into admiration, Rom. xi. 35. "O the depth of. the riches both "of the wisdom and knowledge of God !"

Whereas the fcripture fpeaks of those perfections of GOD, which the creatures do in fome measure and degree partake of, as his goodness, and power, and wildom and holiness and immortality, it attributes them in fuch a peculiar and divine manner to GOD, as doth exclude and fhut out the creature from any claim or fhare or title to them, Matt. xix. 16, 17. Why calleft thou me good; "but one, that is GOD."

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there is none good 1 Tim. vi. 15, 16. "Who is the bleffed and only potentate, who only "hath immortality." 1 Tim. i. 17. "The only "wife Gon," Rev. xv. 4. "For thou only art 66 holy." In fo inconceiveable a manner doth GOD poffefs these perfections wnich he communicates, and we can only understand them as he communicates them, and not as he poffeffes them; fo that when we confider any of thefe divine perfections, we mustnot frame notions of them contrary to what they are in the creature, nor muft we limit them by what they are in the creature, but fay the goodness and the wisdom of GoD are all this which is in the creature, and much more which I am not able to comprehend; the tranfcendent degree, and the fingularity of thefe divine perfections, which are communicable, is beyond what we are able to conceive.

The works of GOD, they are likewife unfearch


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able; the works of creation and of redemption. SER M. Job v. 9. "Which doth great things, and un"fearchable, marvellous things, past finding out:" and then he inftanceth in the works of God, Job xxvi. 14. "Lo, thefe are part of his ways: But "how little a portion is heard of him? and the "thunder of his voice who can understand?" So that he tells us exprefly, we cannot find out the works of GOD, we do but know part of them. The queftion which he puts, Job xxxvii. 16. "Doft "thou know the wondrous works of him that is perfect in knowledge?" can only be answered by the words of the Pfalmift, Pfal. civ. 24. 46 0 "LORD, how wonderful are thy works! in wif"dom haft thou made them all." The work of redemption; in this there fhines forth fuch wisdom, mercy, and love, as our underftandings cannot reach; this work is called " the wifdom of GoD in a my"stery," hidden wisdom, copía dronspunn, 1 Cor. ii. 7. The The mercy, and grace, and love of it is called, "The riches of God's mercy, the exceeding riches of his grace," Eph. ii. 4, 7. Now riches is when you cannot tell the utmoft of them, "pauperis eft numerare. Eph. iii. 18, 19. "That


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ye may be able to comprehend with all faints, what "is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, "and to know the love of CHRIST, which paffeth "knowledge." When we have the largest apprehenfions of this love, fo that we think we comprehend it and know it, "it paffeth knowledge;" yea, the effects of GoD's power and love, which he manifests in believers, are unfpeakable; for "he is able to "do for us exceeding abundantly above what we "can afk or think, according to the power which "worketh in us," Eph. iii. 20. The peace which guards their fouls "paffeth all understanding," Phil.

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