Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

every person, over every nation and kingdom on the earth, as the potter hath over the pot he maketh, or the clay he mouldeth. Thus are we wholly at the disposal of his will, and our present and future condition framed and ordered by his free, but wise and just, decrees. “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour ?" (Rom. ix. 21.) And can that earth-artificer have a freer power over his brother potsherd (both being made of the same metal), than God hath over him, who by the strange fecundity of his omnipotent power, first made the clay out of nothing, and then him out of that?

The duration of God's dominion must likewise necessarily be eternal, if any thing which is be immortal. For, being every thing is therefore his, because it received its being from him, and the continuation of the creature is as much from him as the first production; it followeth that so long as it is continued it must be his, and consequently, being some of his creatures are immortal, his dominion must be eternal. Wherefore St. Paul expressly calleth God “the King eternal," (1 Tim. i. 17.)* with reference to that of David, “thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth through out all generations.” (Psal. cxlv. 13.)+ ' And Moses in his Song hath told us, “the Lord shall reign for ever and ever :" (Exod. xv. 18.) which phrase for ever and ever in the original signifieth thus much, that there is no time to come assignable or imaginable, but after and beyond that God shall reign.

The third branch of God's authoritative or potestative power consisteth in the use of all things in his possession, by virtue of his absolute dominion. For it is the general dictate of reason, that the use, benefit, and utility of any thing, redoundeth unto him whose it is, and to whom as to the proprietor it belongeth. It is true indeed, that God, who is all-sufficient and infinitely happy in and of himself, so that no accession ever could or can be made to his original felicity, cannot receive any real benefit and utility from the creature. “Thou art my Lord (saith David), my goodness extendeth not to thee.” (Psal. xvi. 2.) And therefore our only and absolute Lord, because his goodness extendeth unto us, and not ours Τη βασιλεί των αιώνων.

non illi ad suam, sed ad nostram uti+ Dinby-baba LXX. Basi- litatem salutemque, servimus. Nam λεία πάντων των αιώνων.

si nobis indigeret, eo ipso non verus 1 w Sys LXX. én' qiūva kai Dominus esset, cum per nos ejus adēti. s. Hier. in seculum et ultra. So juvaretur necessitas, sub qua et ipse Aquila, Theod. and the fifth edit. in serviret.' S. August. de Gen. ad lit. ). Psal. xxi. 4. So the LXX again, viii. c. 11. Dixi Domino, Deus meus Dan. xii. 7. eis tous aiūvas kai ēri, es tu : quare? quoniam bonorum non and Mich. iv. 5. eis tòv aiūva kai été- eges. Ille non eget nostri, nos ege

mus ipsius; ideo verus Dominus. so

• Ille nostra servitute non indiget, Nam tu non valde verus Dominus nos vero dominatione illius indige- servi tui; ambo homines, ambo egenmus, ut operetur et custodiat nos: et tes Deo. Si vero putas egere tui serideo verus et solus est Dominus, qui vum tuum, ut des panem; eges et tu

κεινα.

to him, because his dominion is for our benefit, not for his own: for us who want, and therefore may receive: not for himself who cannot receive, because he wanteth nothing, whose honour standeth not in his own, but in our receiving. *

But though the universal Cause made all things for the benefit of some creatures framed by him, yet hath he made them ultimately for himself; and God is as universally the final as the efficient cause of his operations. The apostle hath taught us, that not only “ of him," and “by him," as the first author, but also “ to him," and “ for him," as the ultimate end,“ are all things.” (Rom. xi. 36. 1 Cor. viii. 6. Heb. ii. 10.) And it is one of the proverbial sentences of Solomon, « The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Prov. xvi. 4.) For though he cannot receive any real benefit or utility from the creature, yet he can and doth in a manner receive that which hath some similitude or affinity with it. Thus God “ rejoiceth,” (Psal. civ. 31.) at the effects of his wisdom, power, and goodness, and taketh delight in the works of his hands. Thus doth he order and dispose of all things unto his own glory, which redoundeth from the demonstration of his attributes.

An explicit belief of this authoritative power and absolute dominion of the Almighty is necessary, First, for the breeding in us an awful reverence of his majesty, and entire subjection to his will. For to the highest excellency the greatest honour, to the supremet authority the most exact obedience is no more than duty. If God be our absolute Lord, we his servants and vassals, then is there a right in him to require of us whatsoever we can perform, and an obligation upon us to perform whatsoever he commandeth. Whosoever doth otherwise, while he confesseth, denieth him; wbile he acknowledgeth him with his tongue, he sets his hand against him. “ Why call ye me Lord, Lord (saith our Saviour), and do not the things which I say?" (Luke vi. 46.)

Secondly, This belief is also necessary to breed in us equanimity and patience in our sufferings, to prevent all murmuring, repining, and objecting against the actions or determinations of God, as knowing that he, who is absolute servi tui, ut adjuvet labores tuos. Oiójevoç ¿avTòv toll Decī elvai epeittova. Uterque vestrum altero vestrum indi- p. 25. get: itaque nullus vestrum vere do † 'Hueīs dr peyahou Aiós rectúpela minus, et nullus vestrum vere servus. βουλή, , Audi verum Dominum, cujus verus "Ος πάσι θνητοίσι και αθανάτοισιν ανάσes servus, Dixi Domino, Deus meus es tu: quare tui dominus ? quoniam

Hom. Il. M. 241. bonorum meorum non eges.' Id. ad I 'Epoi móds toti kai katapuya kæì Psal. Ixis.

νόμος * Τιμήν ποιείται του ανενδεούς την Και του δικαίου τού τ' αδίκου παντός των απ' εκείνου προτεινομένων αγαθών κριτής ÜRodoxýv. Hierocl. in Aurea Car. p. 'O dEOTórns' Tpòs ToŨtov Éva dei löv épé. 22. ed. prin. And again: "OOTig Teją Servus apud Menand. ap. Stob. τον θεόν ώς προσδεόμενον, ούτος λέληθεν

Flor. tit. 62.

σει.

Lord, cannot abuse his power; he, whose will is a law to us, cannot do any thing unwisely or unjustly. “Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth: shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou ?” (Isa. xlv. 9.) But let the man after God's own heart rather teach us humble and religious silence. “ I was dumb (saith he), and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it.” (Psal. xxxix. 9.) When Shimei cast stones at him, and cursed him, let us learn to speak as he then spake: “ The Lord hath said unto him, Curse David: who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?(2 Sam. xvi. 10.)

Thirdly, the belief of God's absolute dominion is yet farther necessary to make us truly and sufficiently sensible of the benefits we receive from him, so as by a right value and estimation of them to understand how far we stand obliged to him. No man can duly prize the blessings of Heaven, but he who acknowledgeth they might justly have been denied him; nor can any be sufficiently thankful for them, except it be confessed that he owed him nothing who bestowed them.

But as the original word for Almighty is not put only for the Lord of Hosts, but often also for the Lord Shaddai ; so we must not restrain the signification to the power authoritative, but extend it also to that power which is properly operative and executive. In the title of the Lord of Sabaoth we understand the rule and dominion of God, by which he hath a right of governing all : in the name Shaddai we apprehend an infinite force and strength, by which he is able to work and perform all things. For whether we take this word in composition,* as signifying the All-sufficient; whosoever is able to suppeditate all things to the sufficing all, must have an infinite power: or whether we deduce it from the root denoting vastation or destruction;t whosoever can destroy the being of all things, and reduce them unto nothing, must have the same power which originally produced all things out of nothing, and that is infinite. Howsoever, the first notion of Almighty necessarily inferreth the second, and the infinity of God's dominion speaketh him infinitely powerful in operation. I

• So R. Solomon will have it com- Job viii. 3. translate it o návra molipounded of the pronoun and ng, sag. And this etymology rather than tona 525 97883 TUN because the former, seemeth to be confirmed in God there is sufficiency, that is, suf- by the prophet, Isa. xiii. 6. “ Howl ficient power, over every creature: from ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand, wbence the LXX. Ruth i. 20, 21. Job Xawna It shall come as xxi. 15. xxxi. 2. translate it inavòs, a destruction from the Almighty as Symmachus, Job xxii. 3. and Aqui- (destroyer)." la with him, Ezek. i. 24.

(Homer hath well joined these two: t The vastavit, destruxit, perdidit; '2 mátep ruétepe, Kpovídn, óhate xpulóvfrom whence 'T the destroyer; and των, because utter destruction requireth Eύ νυ και ήμεϊς ίδμεν και το σθένος ουκ power equivalent to production, the ÉT LELKTÓV. Omnipotent, from whence the LXX.

Il. 0. 31.

Indeed in earthly dominions, the strength of the governor is not in himself, but in those whom he governeth: and he is a powerful prince whose subjects are numerous. But the King of Kings hath in himself all power of execution, as well as right of dominion. Were all the force and strength of a nation in the person of the king, as the authority is, obedience would not be arbitrary, nor could rebellion be successful : whereas experience teacheth us that the most puissant prince is compelled actually to submit, when the stronger part of his own people hath taken the boldness to put a force upon him. But we must not imagine that the Governor of the world ruleth only over them which are willing to obey, or that any of his creatures may dispute his commands with safety, or cast off his yoke with impunity. And if his dominion be uncontrollable, it is because his power is irresistible. For man is not more inclinable to obey God than man; but God is more powerful to exact subjection, and to vindicate rebellion. In respect of the infinity, and irresistibility of which active power we must acknowledge him Almighty; and so, according to the most vulgar acceptation, give the second explication of his omnipotency.*

But because this word Almighty is twice repeated in the CREED,+ once in this first Article, and again in the sixth, where Christ is represented sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; and although in our English and the Latin the same words be expressed in both places, yet in the ancient Greek copies there is a manifest distinction; being the word in the first Article may equally comprehend God's power in operation, as well as authority in dominion; whereas that in the sixth speaketh only infinity of power, without relation to authority or dominion : I shall therefore reserve the explication of the latter unto its proper place, designing to treat particularly of God's infinite power where it is most peculiarly expressed; and so conclude briefly with two other interpretations which some of the ancients have made of the original word, belonging rather to philosophy than divinity, though true in both. For some have stretched this word Almighty according to the Greek notation, I to signify that God holdeth, encircleth, and containeth all things. " Who hath

* 'Hoc nisi credamus, periclitatur taken out of the library of Bennet ipsum nostræ fidei confessionis initi- College, and set forth by the Archum, qua nos in Deum Patrem Omni- bishop of Armagh. potentem credere confitemur. Neque As Theophilus bishop of Anenim veraciter ob aliud vocatur Om- tioch, giving account of those words nipotens, nisi quoniam quicquid vult which are attributed unto God, as potest, nec voluntate cujuspiam crea- Deds, kúpios, ÜYLotos, tells us he is callturae voluntatis omnipotentis impedi- ed παντοκράτωρ, ότι αυτός τα πάντα tur effectus.' S. August. Enchir. c. 96. kpatei kai įj repréxel yap oyim Tūv

+ Artic. 1. Πιστεύω εις θεόν πατέρα ουρανών, και τα βάθη των αβύσσων, και παντοκράτορα. Artic. 6. καθεζόμενον τα πέρατα της οικουμένης εν τη χειρι έν δεξια θερύ πατρός παντοδυνάμου: as αυτού εστί. Αd Autol. 1. i. p. 71. ed. it is in the ancient copy of the Creod, Colon. 1686.

“ God

gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth ?” (Prov. xxx. 4.) who but God? “ Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure ?(Isa. xl. 12.) who but he ? Thus then may he be called Almighty, as holding, containing, and comprehending all things.

Others extend it farther yet, beyond that of containing or comprehension, to a more immediate influence of sustaining or preservation.* For the same power which first gave being unto all things, continueth the same being unto all. giveth to all, life, and breath, and all things. In him we live, move, and have our being,(Acts xvii. 25. 28.) saith the strangest philosopher that ever entered Athens, the first expositor of that blind inscription, To the unknown God.” “How could any thing have endured, if it had not been thy will ? or been preserved, if not called by thee?" (Wisd. xi. 25.) as the wisdom of the Jews confesseth. Thus did the Levites stand and bless : “Thou, even thou, art Lord alone : thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things that are therein, the sea and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all.” (Neh. ix. 6.) Where the continual conservation of the creature is in equal latitude attributed unto God with their first production. Because there is an absolute necessity of preserving us from returning unto nothing by annihilation, as there was for first bestowing an existence on us by creation. And in this sense God is undoubtedly Almighty, in that he doth sustain, uphold, and constantly preserve all things in that being which they have.

From whence we may at last declare what is couched under this attribute of God, how far this omnipotency extends itself, and what every Christian is thought to profess, when he addeth this part of the first Article of his CREED, I believe in God the Father ALMIGHTY.

As I am persuaded of an infinite and independent Essence, which I term a God, and of the mystery of an eternal generation by which that God is a Father: so I assure myself that Father is not subject to infirmities of age, nor is there any weakness attending on the “ Ancient of days;” (Dan. vii. 9. 13. 22.) but, on the contrary, I believe omnipotency to be an essential attribute of his Deity, and that not only in respect

* As Greg. Nyssenus: Oukoīv, örav namque potentia, et Omnipotentis atrñs Havtorpátwp pwvñs årotowjev, que Omnitenentis virtus, causa subsiτούτο νοούμεν, το πάντα τον θεόν εν τω stendi est omni creature. Quae virtus elval ovvéxelv. contr. Eunom. Or. ii. ab eis quæ creata sunt regendis si alip. 467. ed. Par. 1638. Neither, says quando cessaret, simul et illorum ceshe, would God be termed havrokpá- saret species, omnisque natura conTwp, ei us tãoa » Krious Toù Trepikpa- cideret.' S. August. in Genes, ad lit. τούντος αυτών, και εν τώ είναι συν- Ι. iv. c. 12. TEPOūvtos, édéero. Ibid. Creatoris

« ZurückWeiter »