Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

The profession of faith in Christ, as sitting on the right hand of God, is necessary; First, To mind us of our duty, which must needs consist in subjection and obedience. The majesty of a King claimeth the loyalty of a subject; and if we acknowledge his authority, we must submit unto his power. Nor can there be a greater incitation to obedience, than the consideration of the nature of his government. Subject we must be, whether we will or no: but it willingly, then is our service perfect freedom; if unwillingly, then is our averseness everlasting misery. Enemies we all have been ;* under his feet we shall be, either adopted or subdued. A double kingdom there is of Christ it one of power, in which all are under him; another of propriety, in those which belong unto him: none of us can be excepted from the first; and happy are we, if by our obedience we shew ourselves to have an interest in the second, for then that kingdom is not only Christ's but ours.

Secondly, It is necessary to believe in Christ sitting on the right hand of God, that we might be assured of an auspicious protection under his gracious dominion. For God by his exaltation hath given our Saviour “to be the head over all things to the church;" (Eph. i. 22.) and therefore from him we may expect direction and preservation. There can be no illegality, where Christ is the lawgiver; there can be no danger from hostility, where the Son of God is the defender. The very name of head hath the signification not only of dominion but of union;I and therefore while we look upon him at the right hand of God, we see ourselves in heaven. This is the special promise which he hath made us, since be sat down there; “ To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. iii. 21.) How should we rejoice, yea rather how should we fear and tremble, at so great an honour!

Thirdly, The belief of Christ's glorious session is most necessary in respect of the immediate consequence, which is his most gracious intercession. Our Saviour is ascended as the true Melchisedech, not only as the "king of Salem, the king

* 4 Inimicus eras, eris sub pedibus μέγα, και αυτήν εκάθισεν εις εκείνον τον cjus aut adoptatus, aut victus.' S. Ipóvovo čv9a ydp ^ Kepal»), trei vai tờ August. in Psal. cix. §. 9.

σώμα. ουδενί γάρ μέσω διείργεται η κε+ Βασιλείας του θεού δύο οίδεν ή γρα- φαλή και το σώμα εί γάρ διείργεται, ουκ φή, την μεν κατ' οικείωσιν, την δε κατά αν είη σώμα, ουκ αν είη κεφαλή. Ηom. onulovpyiav. Baoilevet uèv yào årávrwv 3. in Epist. ad Ephes. και Ελλήνων και Ιουδαίων και δαιμόνων και 'Έννόει τον θρόνον τον βασιλικόν, και των αντιτεταγμένων, κατά τον της εννόει της τιμής την υπερβολήν τούτο δημιουργίας λόγον βασιλεύει δε τών και γεέννης, είγε βουλoίμεθα, μάλλον πιστών και εκόντων και υποτεταγμένων, ημάς φοβήσαι δυνήσεται. Ει γάρ μη κατά τον της οικειώσεως. S. Chrysost. γέεννα ήν, το τιμηθέντας τοσαύτην τεHom. 39. in 1. ad Corinth.

μην αναξίους ευρεθήναι και κακούς, τίνα # This is the exclamation of St. our àv čxol kólaov; riva Tipwpiav ; Chrysostom upon those words of St. εννόησον τίνος εγγύς ή κεφαλή σου κάθηPaul: Βαβαί! πού πάλιν και την 'Εκ- ται (τούτο μόνον και απόχρη προς πάν κλησίαν ανήγαγεν; ώσπερ διά τινος οτιούν), τίνος εν δεξια ίδρυται. Ιdem, έλκων μηχανής, εις ύψος αυτήν ανήγαγε ibidem.

of peace,” but also as the “priest of the most high God;" (Heb. vii. 1, 2.) and whereas “every priest,” according to the Law of Moses, “stood daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which could never take away sins; this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God.” (Heb. x. 11, 12.) And now Christ being set down in that power and majesty, though the sacrifice be but once offered, yet the virtue of it is perpetually advanced by his session, which was founded on his passion: for he is “entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." (Heb. ix. 24.) Thus," If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John ii. 1.) And “he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.(Heb. vii. 25.) What then remaineth to all true believers but that triumphant exclamation of the apostle, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justitieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Rom. viii. 33, 34.) For he which was accepted in his oblation, and therefore sat down on God's right hand, to improve this acceptation continues his intercession; and having obtained all power by virtue of his humiliation, representeth them both in a most sweet commix: tion; by an humble omnipotency, or omnipotent humility, appearing in the presence, and presenting his postulations at the throne of God.*

Having thas explicated the session of our Saviour, we are next to consider the description of him at whose right hapd he is set down; which seems to be delivered in the same terms with which the CREED did first begin, I believe in God the Father Almighty: and indeed, as to the expression of his essence, it

* St. Augustin, discoursing upon Jesu Christo dictum est, quod interthat place of St. Paul, 1 Tim. ii. 1. "I pellat pro nobis. Numquid interpellat, exhort that first of all, supplications, et non etiam postulat? Imo vero quia prayers, and intercessions, be made for postulat, pro eo positum est, interpelall men,” observeth what is the nature lat. Evidenter quippe alibi de eo of intercession: ‘Pro interpellationibus dicitur, Si quis peccaverit, Advocatum autem quod nostri habent, secundum habemus apud Patrem, Jesum Christum codices credo vestros postulationes por justum, ipse est exoratio pro peccatis șuisti. Hæc interim duo, id est, quod nostris. Quanquam fortassis codices alii postulationes, alii interpellationes apud vos etiam in eo loco de Domino interpretati sunt, unum verbum trans- Jesu Christo non habent interpellat ferre voluerunt, quod Græcus habet pro nobis, sed postulat pro nobis. In ÉVTEÚEELSEt profecto advertis: sed Græco enim, quo verbo bic positæ nosti aliud esse interpellare, aliud sunt interpellationes, quas ipse posuisti postulare. Non enim solemus dicere, postulationes, ipsum et illic verbum postulant interpellaturi, sed interpel- est, ubi scriptum est, interpellat pro Jant postulaturi

. Veruntamen ex yi- nobis. Cum igitur et qui precalur cinitate verbum usurpatum, cui pro- pret, et qui orat precetur, et qui inpinquitas ipsa impetrat intellectum, terpellat Deum,ad hoc interpellet, ut non est velut censoria notatione cala oret et precetur, &c. Epist. lix. ad panduni. Nam ct de ipso Domino Paulinum, Quæst. 5. §. 14.

is the same name of God; as to the setting forth his relation, it is the same name of Father : but as to the adjoining attribute, though it be the same word, it is not the same notion of Almighty. What therefore we have spoken of the nature of God, and the person of the Father, is not here to be repeated, but supposed; for Christ is set down at the right hand of that God and of that Father, which we understand when we say, I believe in God the Father. But because there is a difference in the language of the Greeks between that word which is rendered Almighty* in the first Article, and that wbich is so rendered in the sixth, because that peculiarly signified authority of dominion, this more properly power in operation; therefore we have reserved this notion of omnipotency now to be explained.

In which, two things are observable; the propriety, and the universality; the propriety in the potency, the universality. in the omnipotency; first, That he is a God of power; secondly, That he is a God of infinite power. The potency consisteth in a proper, innate, and natural force or activity, by which we are assured that God is able to act, work, and produce true and real effects, which do require a true and real power to their production: and in respect of this he is often described unto us under the notion of a mighty God. The omnipotency or infinity of this power consisteth in an ability to act, perform, and produce, whatsoever can be acted or produced, without any possibility of impediment or resistance: and in this respect he is represented to us as an Almighty God. And therefore such an omnipotency we ascribe unto him: which is sufficiently delivered in the Scriptures, first by the testimony of an angel, “ for with God nothing shall be impossible;"(Lukei. 37.) secondly, by the testimony of Christ himself, who said, “ With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” (Mark x. 27.) Now he, to whom all things are possible and to whom nothing is impossible, is truly and properly omnipotent. Thus whatsoever doth not in itself imply a repugnancy of being or subsisting, hath in reference to the power of God a possibiļity of production; and whatsoever in

* In the first Article it is Παντο- ενιδρύουσαν και θεμελιούσαν και περικράτωρ, in the sixth Παντοδύναμος. σφίγγουσαν, και αρραγές εν εαυτό το πάν Page 88, 89. And this distinction is átotelovoav, kai és šavrñs rà őla kavery material, and much observed by θάπερ εκ ρίζης παντοκρατορικής προάthe Greeks; as Dionysius Arcopagita yovoav, kai eis ļautav távra kabá(whosoever that is) in his book Detep eis truquéva Tavtoxpatopikov mDivinis Nominibus, in the 8th chapter, otpépovoav, kaì ovvéyovoav avrà, us explicates the δυναμωνυμίαν, or παν- πάντων έδρας παγκρατή, τα συνεχόμενα τοδύναμον, and in the 10th chapter πάντα κατά μίαν υπερέχουσαν πάντα παντοκράτωρ, as two distinct names συνοχήν ασφαλιζομένην, και ουκ εώσαν with different notions of God. Of αυτά διεκπεσόντα εαυτής, ως εκ παντεthe Παντοκράτωρ, which we have al- λούς εστίας κινούμενα, παραπολέσθαι. ready considered, he gives this ac- c. x. §. 1. But of the duvauwwopia count: Tò uèv yap Néyerai, dià táv- he gives another account, as we shall των αυτών είναι παντοκρατορικήν έδραν, see hereafter. συνέχoυσαν και περιέχουσαν τα όλα, και

respect of the power of God hath an impossibility of production, must involve in itself a repugnancy or contradiction.

This truth, though confessed by the heathens, hath yet been denied by some of them; but with poor and insufficient arguments,* that we shall need no more than an explication of the doctrine to refute their objections.

First, then, we must say. God is omnipotent, because all power, whatsoever is in any creature, is derived from him; and well may he be termed Almighty, who is the fountain of all might. There is no activity in any agent, no influence of any cause, but what dependeth and proceedeth from the principal agent or the first of causes. There is nothing in the whole circumference of the Universe but hath some kind of activity, and consequently some power to act+ (for nothing can be done without a power to do it): and as all their entities flow from the first of beings, so all their several and va. rious powers flow from the first of powers : and as all their beings cannot be conceived to depend on any but an infinite essence, so all those powers cannot proceed from any but an infinite power.

Secondly, God may be called omnipotent, because there can be no resistance made to his power, no opposition to his will, no rescue from his hands. I "The Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isa. xiv. 27.) “He doth according to his will, in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth : and none can stay his band, or say unto him,

The arguments which the heathen dubie naturæ potentia, idque esse used, are briefly touched by Plutarch, quod Deum vocamus. Plin. Nat. but were more largely delivered by Hist. I. ii. c. 7. Add unto these that Pliny: 'Avyphoow ydp (onoiv) ó moin- objection of Elymas the sorcerer, reτικός λήρος, συν Καλλιμάχω τη λέγοντι, corded by Dionysius Areopagita:

Ei Dòv oiola, Καίτοι φησίν 'Έλύμας ο μάγος, Ει παν"Ισθ' ότι και δέξαι Δαίμονιπάν δυνατόν. «τοδύναμός έστιν ο θεός, πώς λέγεται τι (so it must be read) ουδέ γάρ ο θεός δύ- μη δύνασθαι προς τού καθ' υμάς θεολόναται πάν ποιείν. Επείτοιγε, ει θεός έστι, γου; Λοιδορείται δε το θείω Παύλο ποιείτω την χιόνα μέλαιναν, το δε πύρ φήσαντι, μή δύνασθαι τον θεόν εαυτόν ψυχρόν, το δε καθήμενον ορθόν, και το αρνήσασθαι. De Divinis Nominibus, évavriov. Plutarch. de Plac, Philos. I.i. c. 8. c. 7.

Imperfectæ vero in homine + Η άπειροδύναμος του θεού διάδοσις naturae praecipua solatia, ne Deum εις πάντα τα όντα χωρεί, και ουδέν έστι quidem posse olhnia. Νamque nec sibi των όντων και παντελώς αφόρηται το έχειν potest mortem consciscero, si velit, τινά δύναμιν, άλλ' ή νοεράν, ή λογικήν, quod homini derlit optimum in tantis ή αισθητικήν, ή ζωτικήν, ή ουσιώδη δύvitae poenis; nec mortales eternitate ναμιν, έχειΚαι αυτό δε, ει θέμις ειπείν, donare, aut revocare defunctos; nec elval dúvapiv, sis elval é xel napà facere ut qui vixit non vixerit, qui rñs Útepovolov quvájews. ' Dionys. bonores gessit non gesserit, nullum- Areopag. De Divin. Nom. c. 8. 9. 3. que habere in præterita jus præter I Neque enim veraciter ob aliud quam oblivionis: atque (ut facetis vocatur omnipotens, nisi quia quicquoque argumentis societas hæc cuin quid vult potest; nec voluntate cuDeo copuletur) ut bis dená viginti juspiam creaturæ voluntatis omniponon sint, ac multa similiter efficere tentis impeditur effectus.' S. August. non posse, per quæ declaratur haud Enchir, ad Laur. c. 96.

What dost thou?” (Dan. iv. 35.) According to the degrees of power in the agent and the resistent, is an action performed or hindered: if there be more degrees of power in the resistent than the agent, the action is prevented; if fewer, it may be retarded or debilitated, not wholly hindered or suppressed. But if there be no degree of power in the resistent in reference to the agent, then is the action totally vigorous; and if in all the powers, beside that of God, there be not the least degree of any resistance, we must acknowledge that power of his being above all opposition, to be infinite. As Jehosápbat said, “ In thine hand, O God, is there not .power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?” (2 Chron. xx. 6.) From hence there is no difficulty with God to perform any thing: no greater endeavour or activity to produce the greatest than the least of creatures; but an equal facility in reference unto all things : which cannot be imagined but by an infinite excess of power, above and beyond all resistance.*

Thirdly, God is yet more properly called omnipotent, because his own active power extendeth itself to all things it neither is there any thing imaginably possible, which he cannot do. Thús when God several ways had declared his power unto Job," Job answered the Lord, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing.” (Job xlii. 1, 2.) Now that must needs be infinite activity, which answereth to all kinds of possibility. Thus the power of God is infinite extensively, in respect of its object, which is all things; for whatsoever effects there be of his power, yet still there can be more produced: intensively, in respect of the action, or perfection of the effect produced; for whatsoever addition of perfection is possible, is within the sphere of God's omnipotency. The object then of the power of God is whatsoever is simply and absolutely possible, whatsoever is in itself such as that it may be; and so possible every thing is, which doth not imply a contradiction. Again, whatsoever implieth a contradiction is impossible, and therefore is not within the object of the power of God, because impossibility is the contradiction of all power. For that is said to imply a contradiction, which if it were, it would necessarily follow, that the same thing would be and not be. But it is impossible for the same thing both to be and not to be, at the same time and in the same respect; and therefore whatsoever implieth a contradiction, is impossible. From whence it followeth, that it may be truly said, God cannot effect that which involveth a contradiction, but with no derogation from his power: and it may be as traly said, God can effect whatsoever involveth not a contradiction, which is the expression of an

infinite power.

* Nisi omnipotens esset, non una t.Quis est omnipotens nisi qui eademque facilitate summa atque ima omnia potest?' S. August. de Trin. fecisset.' Fulgent. de Fide ad Petrum, l. iv. c. 20. §. 27.

c. 3.

« ZurückWeiter »