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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Immensity of God

is explained by Dr. J. Pye Smith (First Lines of Christ. Theol. p. 138) to be the absolute necessity of being, considered in relation to space. There is with God no diffusion nor contraction, no extension nor circumspection, or any such relation to space as belongs to limited natures. God is equally near to, and equally far from, every point of space and every atom of the universe. He is universally and immediately present, not as a body, but as a spirit; not by motion, or penetration, or filling, as would be predicated of a diffused fluid, or in any way as if the infinity of God were composed of a countless number of finite parts, but in a way peculiar to his own spiritual and perfect nature, and of which we can form no conception." In the passages of Job 11:7-9; 1 Kings 8:27 (2 Chronicles 6:18); Psalms 139:7-13; Isaiah 66:1; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Amos 9:2-3; Matthew 6:4; Matthew 6:6; Acts 17:24; Acts 17:27-28; also Isaiah 40:12-15; Isaiah 40:21-22; Isaiah 40:25-26, "the representations are such as literally indicate a kind of diffused and filling subtle material; but this is the condescending manner of the Scriptures, and is evidently to be understood with an exclusion of material ideas. Metaphysical or philosophical preciseness is not in the character of scriptural composition, nor would it ever suit the bulk of mankind; and no language or conceptions of men can reach the actual expression of the truth, or be any other than analogical. When the Scriptures speak of "God being in heaven," they mean his supremacy in all perfection, and his universal dominion."

Immensity and omnipresence, again, are distinguished in that "the former is absolute, being the necessary inherent perfection of the Deity in itself, as infinitely exalted above all conception of space; and that the latter is relative, arising out of the position of a created world. The moment that world commenced, or the first created portion of it, there was and ever remains the divine presence (συνουσία, αδεσσεντια )."

The qualities of extension and divisibility are those of body, not of a pure, proper, highest spirit. "Socinus and his immediate followers denied a proper ubiquity, immensity, or omnipresence to the essence or substance of the Deity, and represented the universal presence of God spoken of in Scripture as denoting only the acts and effects of his power, favor, and aid." Des Cartes and his followers held "that the essence of the Deity is thought, and that it has no relation to space." See J. Pye Smith, First Lines of Christian Theology, edited by W. Farrar (2nd ed. Lond. 1861); Augustine, De Civ. Dei, 20; Bretschneider, Dogmatik, 1, 396 sq. (See OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Immensity of God'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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