Knowing the Unknowable God

Knowing the Unknowable God

The chief point of saving knowledge is to know God. And the starting point of the true knowledge of God is to discern how ignorant we are of Him, and to find Him beyond all knowledge.

In Exodus 3:14 the Lord gives a definition of Himself, but such a one as is no more clear than Himself to our capacities. It is indeed a short one, and you may think it does not say much. “I am.” What is there that may not say the same? The least and most insignificant creature has its own being! Yet there is more majesty in this simple style than in all others. Let creatures compare with creatures – let them take superlative styles – let some of them be called good, and some better, in the comparison among themselves. But God must not enter the comparison.

No Comparisons are Valid

Paul thinks it an odious comparison, to compare present crosses to eternal glory (Rom. 8). But how much more odious it is to compare God with creatures! Call Him highest, call Him most powerful, call Him most excellent, almighty, most glorious in respect of creatures – and all you do is abase His majesty, bringing it down to any terms of comparison with them, seeing He is beyond all the bounds of understanding. All these terms only express Him to be in some degree eminently above the creatures. As some creatures are above others, so all you do is to make him the chief of them all, as some creature may be the head of one line or kind under it. But what is that to His majesty? He speaks very differently of Himself. “All nations are before him as nothing, and they are accounted to him less than nothing” (Isa. 40:17).

Certainly you have not taken up the true notion of God, when you have conceived him the most eminent of all beings as long as any being appears as a being in his sight, before whom all beings conjoined are as nothing. While you conceive God to be the best, you still attribute something to the creature. You imagine only some different degrees between beings who differ so infinitely, so incomprehensibly. The distance betwixt heaven and earth is but a poor similitude to express the distance between God and creatures.

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