God’s Presence and His Wisdom

In my solitary and retired imagination, I remember I am not alone, and therefore forget not to contemplate Him and His attributes who is ever with me, especially those two p. 55mighty ones, His wisdom and eternity; with the one I recreate, with the other I confound my understanding: for who can speak of eternity without a solecism, or think thereof without an ecstasy? Time we may comprehend. It is but five days older than ourselves, and hath the same horoscope with the world; but to retire so far back as to apprehend a beginning, to give such an infinite start forwards as to conceive an end in an essence that we affirm hath neither the one nor the other, it puts my reason to St. Paul’s sanctuary. My philosophy dares not say the angels can do it; God hath not made a creature that can comprehend Him; it is a privilege of His own nature. ‘I am that I am,’ was His own definition unto Moses; and it was a short one, to confound mortality, that durst question God, or ask Him what He was; indeed He only is; all others have been and shall be. But in eternity there is no distinction of tenses; and therefore that terrible term, predestination, which hath troubled so many weak heads to conceive, and the wisest to explain, is in respect to God no prescious determination of our estates to come, but a definitive blast of His will already fulfilled, and at the instant that He first decreed it; for to His eternity which is indivisible, and altogether, the last trump is already sounded, the reprobates in the flame, and the blessed in Abraham’s bosom.

That other attribute wherewith I recreate my devotion is His wisdom, in which I am happy; and for the contemplation of this only, do not repent me that I was bred in the way of study: the advantage I have of the vulgar, with the content and happiness I conceive therein, is an ample recompense for all my endeavours, in what part of knowledge soever, Wisdom is His most beauteous attribute; no man can attain unto it: yet Solomon pleased God when he desired it. He is wise, because He knows all things; and He knoweth all things, because He made them all: but His greatest knowledge is in comprehending that He made not, that is, Himself. And this is also the greatest knowledge in man. – from Religio Medici, 1643