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proprietor, and subject wholly to his will as the sole governor and disposer : in respect of which universal power we must confess him to be Almighty.
If we consider the manner and nature of this power, the plenitude thereof or perfection will appear: for as in regard of the extension, he hath power over all things; so in respect of the intention, he hath all power over every thing, as being absolute and supreme. This God challenged to himself, when he catechized the prophet Jeremy in a potter's house, saying, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel.” (Jer. xviii. 6.) That is, God hath as absolute power and dominion over every person, over every nation and kingdom on the earth, as the potter hath over the pot he maketh, or the clay be 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 throughout all generations.” (Psal. cxiv. 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
Τα βασιλεία των αιώνων. . + Diggy ba maboa LXX. Bar Asía máyta Tävaiátor.
7,1 Sys LXX. Ét'alära xai šti, S. Hier. in seculum et ultra.
Theod. and the fifth edit. in Psal. xxi. 4. So the LXX again, Dan. xii. 7. siç Tous alaraç xal ito, and Mich. iv. 5. Bis tön alara και επέκεινα.
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. 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 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.t
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.”
are all things.” (Rom. xi. 36. I 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 “ joiceth,” (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 supremes 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
• Ille nostra servitute non indiget, nos vero dominatione illius indigemus, ut operetur et custodiat nos: et ideo verus et solus est Dominus, qui non illi ad suam, sed ad nostram utilitatem salutemque, servimus. Nam si nobis indigeret, eo ipso non verus Dominus esset, cum per nos ejus adjuvaretur necessitas, sub qua et ipse serviret.' S. August. de Gen. ad lit. I. viii. c. 11. • Diri Domino, Deus meus es tu: quare? quoniam bonorum non eges. Ille Don eget postri, nos egemus ipsius ; ideo verus Dominus. Nam tu non valde verus Dominus servi tui; ambo homines, ambo egentes Deo. Si vero putas egere tui servum tuum, ut des panem ; eges et tu servi
tui, ut adjuvet labores tuos. Uterqne vestrum altero vestrum indiget : itaque nullus vestrum vere dominus, et nullus vestrum vere servus. Audi verum Dominum, cujus verus es servus, Diri Domino, Deus meus estu: quare tui dominus? quoniam bonorum meorum non eges.' Id.ad Psal. Ixix.
+ Τιμήν ποιείται του ανενδεους την τών απ' εκείνου προτεινομένων αγαθών υποδοχήν. Ηierocl. in Aurea Car. p. 22. ed. prin. And again : “Οστις τιμά τον Θεόν ως προσδεόμενον, ούτος λέληθεν οιόμενος εαυτόν του θεού είναι κρείττονα. .
+ Ημείς δή μεγάλοιο Διός πειθώμεθα βουλή, “ος πάσι θνητοίσι και αθανάτοισιν ανάσσει.
Hom. II, M. 241.
we can perform, and an obligation* upon us to perform whatsoever he commandeth. Whosoever doth otherwise, while he confesseth, denieth him ; while 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 wbich 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 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,t 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 ; whosoever can destroy the being of
'Εμοι πόλις έστι και καταφυγή και νόμος Και του δικαίου του τ' αδίκου παντός κριτής ο δεσπότης» προς τούτον ένα δεί ζην εμέ. Servus apud Menand, ap. Stob. Flor.
tit. 62. + So R. Solomon will have it compounded of v the pronoun and 7, WWW
sufficiency, that is, sufficient power over every creature: from whence the LXX. Ruth i. 20, 21. Job xxi. 15. xxxi. 2. translate it ixaròs, as Symmachus, Job xxii. 3. and Aquila with him, Ezek. i. 24.
77v vastavit, destrurit, perdidit; from wbence yw the destroyer; and because utter destruction requireth power equi
because in Godd there is באלהותי לכל בריד
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.* 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.t
But because this word Almighty is twice repeated in the CREED. I 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
valent to production, the Omnipotent, from wbence the LXX. Job viii. 3. translate it και πάντα ποιήσας. And this etymology rather than the former, secmeth to be confirmed by the prophet, Isa. xiii. 6. “Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is
, ' a destruction from the Almighty (destroyer)."
Homer hath well joined these two : "Ω πάτερ ημέτερε, Κρονίδη, ύπατε κρειόντων, Εύ νυ και ημείς ιδμενό του σθένος ουκ επιεικτόν.
II. R. 31. p. Hoc nisi credamus, periclitatur
It shall come כשד משדי יבוא ,at hand
ipsum nostræ fidei confessionis initium, qua nos in Deum Patrem Omnipotentem credere confitemur. Neque enim vera. citer ob aliud vocatur Omnipotens, pisi quoniam quicquid vult potest, nec volun. tate cujuspiam creaturæ voluntatis omnipotentis impeditur effectus.'
S. August. Enchir. c. 96.
Artic. 1. 15 TEÚW els Jedv matige maxTongátoga. Artic. 6. xase 3bulevo y debie Θεού πατρός παντοδυνάμου : as it is in the ancient copy of the Creed, taken out of the library of Bene't College, and set forth by the Archbishop of Armagh.
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,* to signify that God holdeth, encircleth, and containeth all things. "Who hath 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.t For the same power which first gave being unto all things, continueth the same being unto all. “ God giveth to all, life, and breath, and all things. In him we live, move, and have our being,” (Acts xvii. 25. 28.) saith the s 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 Levités 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
As Theophilus bisbop of Antioch, giving account of those words which are attributed unto God, as Beds, nuecos, Cf.5T05, tells us he is called παντοκράτωρ, ότι αυτος τα πάντα κρατεί και εμπεριέχει τα γαρ ύψη των ουρανών, και τα βάθη των αβύσσων, και τα πέρατα της οικουμένης εν τη xsugi aitā ésti. Ad Autot, I. i. p. 71. ed. Colon. 1686.
+ As Greg. Nyssenus : Oinoiy, ötay this Π:ντικράτως φωνής ακούσωμεν, τούτο νοούμεν, το πάντα τον θεόν εν τον είναι συνέχειν, contr.
Eunom. Or. i. p. 467. ed. Par. 1638. Neither, says he, would God be termed παντοκράτωρ, ει μη πάσα ή κτίσις του περικατούντος αυτών, και εν τω είναι συντηρούντος, idieto. Ibid. 'Creatoris namque potentia, et Onuripotentis atque Omnitenentis virtus, causa subsistendi est omni creaturæ. Quæ virtus ab eis quæ creata sunt regendis si aliquando cessaret, simul et illorum cessaret species, omnisque natura concideret.' S. August. in Genes. au lit. l. iv. c. 12.