From “The existence and attributes of God”

My pastor sent me this excellent quote from  The Existence and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock, 1680.

Since we cannot have a full notion of him, we should endeavour to make it as high and pure as we can… conceive of him as excellent, without any imperfection; a Spirit without parts, great without quantity; perfect without quality; everywhere without place; powerful without members; understanding without ignorance; wise without reasoning; light without darkness… and when you have risen to the highest, conceive him yet infinitely above all you can conceive of spirit, and acknowledge the infirmity of your own minds. And whatever conception comes into your minds, say, this is not God; God is more than this: if I could conceive him, he were not God.

I haven’t come across this particular Puritan before, but he appears to have his own website so is clearly keeping up with the times. My copy of Daniel Neal’s History of the Puritans says that in his time he was “admired by the more judicious part of his hearers, though not popular, because of his disadvantageous way of reading with a glass…” Nowadays he’d no doubt benefit from Windows Accessibility Options.

 Somehow Charnock’s conception is far removed from what is believed about God by many in the science-faith discussion. God seems so often to be considered as – well – less than this,  which is strange considering the awesome natural wonders underlying that discussion. Maybe one should take a moment for some meditation before plunging back to discussing the Bible’s errancy and nature’s imperfections.

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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