The Omnipresence of God

by Thomas Watson

God is infinite. All created beings are finite. The Greek word for "infinite" signifies "without bounds or limits." God is not confined to any place. He is infinite, and so is present in all places at once. His center is everywhere. "In no place is God's Being either confined or excluded," Augustine. "Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain you." The Turks build their temples open at the top, to show that God cannot be confined to them—but is in all places by his presence. God's essence is not limited either to the regions above, or to the terrestrial globe—but is everywhere. As philosophers say of the soul, "the soul is in every part of the body," in the eye, heart, foot; so we may say of God, his essence is everywhere; his circuit is in heaven, and in earth, and sea, and he is in all places of his circuit at once. "This is to be infinite." God, who bounds everything else, is himself without bounds. He sets bounds to the sea, "Hitherto shall you come, and no further!" He sets bounds to the angels; they, like the cherubim, move and stand at his appointment, but he is infinite, without bounds. He who can span the heavens, and weigh the earth in scales, must needs be infinite!

Vorstius maintains that God is in all places at once—but not in regard of his essence; but by his virtue and influence: as the body of the sun is in heaven, it only sends forth its beams and influences to the earth; or as a king, who is in all places of his kingdom authoritatively, by his power and authority—but he is personally on his throne.

God, who is infinite, is in all places at once, not only by his influence—but by his essence; for, if his essence fills all places, then he must needs be there in person. Jer 23:34. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?"

But does not God say that heaven is his throne?

It is also said, that a humble heart is his throne. The humble heart is his throne, in regard to his gracious presence; and heaven is his throne, in regard to his glorious presence; and yet neither of these thrones will hold him, for the heaven of heavens cannot contain him.

But if God is infinite in all places—he is in impure places, and mingles with impurity.

Though God is in all places, in the heart of a sinner by his inspection, and in hell by his justice—yet he does not mingle with the impurity, or receive the least tincture of evil. "The divine nature does not intermix with created matter, nor is contaminated by its impurities," Augustine. No more than the sun shining on a dunghill is defiled, or its beauty spotted; or than Christ going among sinners was defiled, whose Godhead was a sufficient antidote against infection.

God must needs be infinite in all places at once, not only in regard to the simplicity and purity of his nature—but in regard to his power, which being so glorious, who can set bounds to him, or prescribe him a circuit to walk in? It is as if the drop should limit the ocean, or a candle set bounds to the sun.

Use one: If God is infinite, present in all places at once, then it is certain he governs all things in his own person, and needs no proxies or deputies to help him to carry on his government. He is in all places in an instant, and manages all affairs both in the earth and heaven. A king cannot be in all places of his kingdom in his own person, therefore he is forced to govern by deputies and viceregents, and they often pervert justice. But God, being infinite, needs no deputies, he is present in all places, he sees all with his own eyes, and hears all with his own ears; he is everywhere in his own person, therefore is fit to be the judge of the world; he will do everyone right.

Use two: If God is infinite by his omnipresence, then see the greatness and immenseness of the divine majesty! What a great God do we serve! "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the glory, and the majesty, and you are exalted as head above all." Well may the Scripture display the greatness of his glory, who is infinite in all places. He transcends our weak conceptions; how can our finite understanding comprehend him who is infinite? He is infinitely above all our praises. "Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise." Oh what a poor nothing is man, when we think of God's infiniteness! As the stars disappear at the rising of the sun, oh, how does a man shrink into nothing, when infinite majesty shines forth in its glory! "The nations are as a drop in the bucket, or the small dust of the balance!" On what a little of that drop are we individuals! The heathen thought they had sufficiently praised Jupiter when they called him great Jupiter. Of what immense majesty is God, who fills all places at once!

Use three: If God is infinite, filling heaven and earth, see what a full portion the saints have. They have him who is infinite for their portion! His fullness is an infinite fullness; and he is infinitely sweet, as well as infinitely full. If a cup is filled with wine, there is a sweet fullness—but still it is finite; but God is a sweet fullness, and it is infinite. He is infinitely full of beauty and of love. His riches are called unsearchable, because they are infinite, Eph 3:8. Stretch your thoughts as much as you can, there is that in God which exceeds; it is an infinite fullness. He is said to do abundantly for us, above all that we can ask. "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us," Ephesians 3:20. What can an ambitious person ask? He can ask crowns and kingdoms, millions of worlds; but God can give more than we can ask, nay, more than we can imagine, because he is infinite!

We can imagine—what if all the dust were turned to silver—what if every flower were a ruby—what if every sand in the sea a diamond; yet God can give more than we can imagine, because he is infinite. Oh how rich are they who have the infinite God for their portion! Well might David say, "Surely I have a delightful inheritance!" Psalm 16:6.

We may go with the bee from flower to flower—but we shall never have full satisfaction until we come to the infinite God! Jacob said: "I have enough!" In the Hebrew it is, "I have all!" because he had the infinite God for his portion! Gen 33:11. God being an infinite fullness, there is no fear of lack for any of the heirs of heaven. Though there are millions of saints and angels, who have a share in God's riches—yet he has enough for them all, because he is infinite! Though a thousand men behold the sun—there is light enough for them all. Put ever so many buckets into the sea—there is water enough to fill them. Though an innumerable company of saints and angels are to be filled out of God's fullness—yet God, being infinite, has enough to satisfy them. God has land enough to give to all his heirs. There can be no lack, in that which is infinite.

Use four: If God is infinite, he fills all places, and is everywhere present. This is dreadful to the wicked. God is their enemy, and they cannot escape him, nor flee from him, for he is everywhere present! They are never out of his eye, nor out of his reach. "Your hand shall find out all your enemies." What caves or thickets can men hide in—that God cannot find them? Go where they will, he is present. "Where shall I flee from your presence?" If a man owes a debt to another he may make his escape, and flee into another land, where the creditor cannot find him. "But where shall I flee from your presence?" God is infinite, he is in all places; so that he will find out his enemies and punish them!

But is it not said that "Cain went out from the presence of the Lord?" Gen 4:16.

The meaning is, he went out from the church of God, where the visible signs of God's presence were, and where God in a special manner manifested his sweet presence to his people; but Cain could not go out of God's sight; for God being infinite is everywhere present. Sinners can escape from neither an accusing conscience, nor from a revenging God!

Use five: If God is everywhere present, then for a Christian to walk with God is not impossible. God is not only in heaven—but he is in earth too. Heaven is his throne, there he sits; the earth is his footstool, there he stands. He is everywhere present, therefore we may come to walk with God. "Enoch walked with God." If God was confined to heaven, a trembling soul might think, "How can I converse with God, how can I walk with him who lives above the upper region?" But God is not confined to heaven; he is omnipresent; he is above us—yet he is about us, he is near to us. "He is not far from each one of us." Acts 17:27. He is not far from the assembly of the saints, "God has taken His place in the divine assembly," Psalm 82:1. He is present with us, God is in everyone of us; so that here on earth we may walk with God.

In heaven the saints rest with him, on earth they walk with him. To walk with God is to walk by faith. We are said to "draw near to God," Heb 10:22, and to see him, Heb 11:27, "As seeing him who is invisible," and to have fellowship with him. 1 John 1:3, "Our fellowship is with the Father." Thus we may take a turn with him every day by faith. It is slighting God not to walk with him. If a king was in our presence, it would be slighting him to neglect him, and play with the pet. There is no walk in the world so sweet as to walk with God. "They shall walk in the light of your countenance." "Yes, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord." It is like walking among beds of spices, which send forth a fragrant perfume.

Use six: If God is infinite in his glorious essence, learn to admire—where you cannot fathom. The angels wear a veil, they cover their faces, as adoring this infinite majesty. Isa 6:6. Elijah wrapped himself in a mantle when God's glory passed by. Admire—where you cannot fathom. "Can you by searching find out God?" Here on earth, we see some beams of his glory, we see him in the looking-glass of the creation; we see him in his picture—his image shines in the saints. But who can search out all his essential glory? What angel can measure these pyramids? "Can you by searching find out God?" He is infinite. We can no more search out his infinite perfections, than a man upon the top of the highest mountain can take a star in his hand! Oh, have God-admiring thoughts! Adore where you cannot fathom!

There are many mysteries in nature which we cannot fathom; why the sea should be higher than the earth—yet not drown it; why the Nile should overflow in summer, when, by the course of nature, the waters are lowest. "As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things." Ecclesiastes 11:5. If these things perplex us, how may the infinite mystery of the Deity transcend our most raised intellectuals! Ask the geometrician, if he can, with a ruler, measure the heavens. Just so—we are unable are we to measure the infinite perfections of God. In heaven we shall see God clearly—but not fully, for he is infinite. He will communicate himself to us, according to the capacity of our vessel—but not the immenseness of his nature. Adore then where you cannot fathom!

If God is infinite in all places, let us not limit him. "They limited the Holy One of Israel." It is limiting God to confine him within the narrow compass of our reason. Reason thinks God must go such a way to work, or the business will never be effected. This is to limit God to our reason; whereas he is infinite, and his ways are past finding out. In the deliverance of the church, it is limiting God, either to set him a time, or prescribe him a method for deliverance. God will deliver Zion—but he will be left to his own liberty; he will not be tied to a place, to a time, or to an instrument, which were to limit him, and then he should not be infinite. God will go his own way, he will confound human reason, he will work by improbabilities, he will save in such a way as we think would destroy. Now he acts like himself, like an infinite wonder-working God. "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" Romans 11:33.


From  The Attributes of God (eBook)  by Thomas Watson

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