Louis Cappel on God’s knowledge as a pure act

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
But God being a pure Spirit, without any mixture of body or matter, is never weary in his thoughts, purposes, and designs, neither doth he discourse after the manner of men, drawing a conclusion from the Premises, neither doth he think of one thing, and then of another, for there is not in him (I mean in his wisdom and intelligence, no more then in the Eternity of his duration) neither first nor second prius & posterius, but all these thoughts, designs, counsels, and resolutions, are in him but one single and pure act, by which he sees, knows, understands, wills, and ordereth all things; his most pure, and perfect simplicity (which agreeth with so excellent and infinite a Nature) requireth that, and it implies a contradiction, that there should be in his Essence any variableness, or shadow of turning[.] ...

For more, see Louis Cappel on God’s knowledge as a pure act.

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
but all these thoughts, designs, counsels, and resolutions, are in him but one single and pure act

Several similar thoughts from Fisher's Catechism. See questions 69 & 80 where Fisher's uses the "pure act" theme.

See Questions 77 & 78 for a thought that often blows my mind. Consider that God, being infinite, not only knows all the finite things of His Creation but He also knows all things merely possible--which things are infinite beyond our understanding. He knows every possible outcome of everything. God knows everything about even the eventuality of the Martians invading earth, and every possible outcome thereof. Wow!

From Question 4., subcategory, Of God's Wisdom, from the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 69. What is God’s omniscience?
A. It is that perfection of his nature, by which he knows all things most perfectly in himself, by one eternal act, Acts 15:18.

Q. 77. How does God know things that are only possible?
A. He knows them in his power, which could easily bring them to pass if he had so decreed, Matt. 19:26.

Q. 78. How does he know things future, or such as actually come to pass in time?
A. He knows them not only in his power, as able to affect them; but in his will, as determining their futurition, or after-existence, Gen. 17:21.

Q. 80. Is there any succession in his knowledge, or does he know one thing before another?
A. As there is no succession in his essence, so there is none in his knowledge; he knows all things eternally, infallibly, and immutably, by one single act of his infinite understanding, Heb. 4:13 — “All things are naked and opened, unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

PS - I also attached the whole of Question 4. What is God? -- It is a 21 page PDF


  • Fisher's Catechism-What is God.pdf
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