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would know what manner of woman this is.” Luke vii. 39. And when the woman of Samaria found that he told her of all her secret acts, that ever she did, she concludes thus, "Sir, I perceive thou art a prophet.” John iv. 19. It is no wonder then if the disciples speak thus of him, “Thou knowest all things," without esteeming him more than the greatest of prophets.
3. It is evident they never intended more, by attributing all knowledge to him, from their own words in one of the texts mentioned, John xvi. 30, where the disciples tell us, how much they inferred from his great knowledge, (which they describe and extol, by saying, Thou knowest all things,) not that he was God, but one sent of God, “By this we believe that thou camest forth from God;” not that thou thyself art that God. So that, by these large expressions, they only intend to attribute to him what a created being is, by divine assistance, capable of; and therefore it is violence to their words, to infer from them, that Jesus Christ is God, when themselves infer no such thing, who best knew their own meaning.
And yet if it were granted that our Lord Jesus knows all things, that is, which actually are; yet if he knows not all futurities too, which himself denies, he comes short of infinite omniscience. For ought I know, a finite being may have a knowledge commensurate to this poor earth, which is but a dust of the balance ; and yet not know all God's secret purposes, or the seasons, which the Father keeps in his own band, Acts i. 7.
Secondly, It is objected, that the knowledge of the heart is ascribed to Christ, John ii. 25. Mat. ix. 9, but especially Rev. ii. 23. And this they say is what belongs to God only, as Solomon judges, 1 Kings viii. 39, and God claims it as his eminent glory, Jer. xvii. 10, and yet Jesus Christ says, “I am he who searches the heart;" therefore, say they, surely he must be that God, who only knows the hearts of all the children of men. I take this to be the strongest instance, that can be produced from the sacred text, for proving any infinite divine perfections to belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, and it shall be seriously considered.
In answer hereto, I shall shew two things. 1. In what sense the searching and knowing the heart is made peculiar to God, and incommunicable to others, by those texts. 2. That notwithstanding it be peculiar to him in some sense; yet these acts may,
in another sense, be justly attributed to another, and performed by him who is not the most High God.
1. As to the former, though Solomon says, Thou, Lord, only knowest the hearts of all men;" yet, what if I say, it is no wonder that Solomon should not know of any other to whom that excellency was communicated, since this mystery of the unsearchable riches and fulness of Christ, and of God's being manifest in his flesh, and his high exaltation of him, was hidden in the ages past, and only manifested in the times of the Gospel ? For it is in these latter times that our Lord Jesus has obtained his great authority and dignity, for which he has received answerable abilities. Yet, I add, such expressions in Scripture, appropriating some perfections to God, do only import that God has no equal herein, or that there is an eminent sense only in which such perfections are peculiar to God, and incommunicable to all others; though still in a lower sense something of them may be communicated by him to others.
And this shall be seen to be no forced supposition, but according to the current strain of plain Scripture, in a multitude of instances. Thus it is said, that “God only is wise,” Rom. xvi. 27. 1 Tim. i. 17. So Ch. vi. 16. “God only has immortality.” So “thou only art holy," Rev. xv. 4. And yet there are wise and holy men, and immortal holy angels and spirits. But the meaning .of those appropriate expressions is, that the blessed God is wise, and holy, and immortal, in a more excellent way, and higher sense than all others, and in which sense others cannot be so. So when it is said, God only knows the hearts of men, it must be interpreted the same way, viz. That there is none can know the heart as God does, so universally, so immediately and independently; and yet it is no contradiction to say, that he enables another to do it in great measure under im. And as he would argue but very weakly, who should
go about to prove an angel to be God, from this, that he is called holy and wise, which are said to belong to God only; even so in the same manner must they argue, who would prove Jesus Christ to be the supreme God from his knowing men's hearts, because it is said to belong to God only; except they can shew that Jesus Christ knows in the same excellent independent manner and degree as his father, and that he is no more beholden to him for ability and assistance, than he is to his son Jesus Christ. So I might argue from Isa. xlvi. 9, that God only knows futurities, and yet how often have the prophets foretold them from him?
And it is not hard to suppose, that as holiness and wisdom, so to know the thoughts and hearts of men, hath been communicated to Prophets and Apostles. Was there not something of this, if not in the Prophet Elisha's telling the secret counsels of the Syrian king, 2 Kings vi. 12, yet at least in the spirit of discerning mentioned i Cor. xii. 10, and in the case of Ananias and Sapphira ? Acts v. I grant this was by divine assistance of the Spirit of God, and by Revelation. Neither is our Lord Jesus Christ ashamed to own, that his knowledge is sometimes owing to “revelation from God his Father," Rev. i. 1. If any should ask, how Jesus Christ comes to know all that he reveals in those seven Epistles to the seven Churches, the very first words of that book of the revelations may be an answer; “ It was the Revelation which God
gave to Jesus Christ,” &c. No wonder, then, that he says, he knows their works, their hearts, and their approaching judgments and trials, when his own vast abilities are assisted by God's revelation.
But it will be said, that his searching the heart imports it to be his own act.
Answer. So it may very well be; for whatever a man knows, he knows it by his own act. And why may not the mind search, and yet be under the light of revelation, and the influence of superior assistance ? But yet after all, these words of searching the heart are only an expression, that denotes the accuracy of his knowledge, not the manner of attaining to it; for, taken properly, as applied to God, it is dishonourable to say, he is put to make a search, since all things are naked and open to his view. And if they must be taken strictly and properly, as applied to Christ, then they belong not to him in the same sense, as they do to God, and so can be no argument of his being that God. Which leads me to shew,
2. That there is no absurdity in attributing this knowledge of the heart to Jesus Christ, though he be not the most high God. That he knows things with some limitation as to the degree, and in dependence on his Father as to the manner, appears by what has been said already. And, therefore, the knowledge of the heart attributed to him, must be such as is consistent with his subordination to the Father's greater knowledge.