“Admire Where You Cannot Fathom”

By Thomas Watson (1620 – 1686)


The following quote is taken from Thomas Watson’s book “A Body of Divinity.”  Thomas Watson is becoming one of my favorite English Puritans.  “A Body of Divinity” is a part of his three-volume commentary on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  The other two volumes are “The Ten Commandments” and “The Lord’s Prayer.”  Concerning the style of the author the publisher says: “Watson conveys his thorough doctrinal and experimental knowledge of the truth in such an original, concise, pithy, pungent, racy, rich and illustrative style that he is rightly regarded as the most readable of the Puritans.”


“If God be 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 vi 2.  Elijah wrapped himself in a mantle when God’s glory passed by.  Admire where you cannot fathom.  Job xi 7.   ‘Canst thou by searching find out God?’  Here we see some beams of his glory, we see him in the 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? ‘Canst thou 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 reach the firmament, or 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; how the bones grow in the womb.  Eccl xi 5.  If these things pose us, how may the infinite mystery of the Deity transcend our most raised intellectuals!  Ask the geometrician, if he can, with a pair of compasses, measure the breadth of the earth.  So 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 bigness of our vessel (our capacity), but not the immenseness of his nature.  Adore then where you cannot fathom.

If God be infinite in all places, let us not limit him Psa lxxviii 41.  ‘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.  Rom xi 33.  In the deliverance of the church, it is limiting God, either to set him 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 pose and nonplus 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.”  [The Banner of Truth Trust, East Peoria, Ill].


“even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2b).