by James W. Alexander
If any are dissatisfied with the Christian religion, it is because of their own ignorance or perverseness. It is impossible to conceive of any higher good, than that which the Gospel offers to every human being who hears it. Nothing has so revealed the capacities of the soul, as Christianity; all the speculations of antiquity are trifling in comparison: and these capacities seem to be revealed for the very purpose of exalting our delightful expectations, as to their being filled. When Christianity would lay a foundation for our hopes, it does not build on any doubtful analogies—but digs deep, and shows us the solid rock of God's infinite perfections; saying, as it were--If you would know what you shall receive, think what God is—how great and how good. "All is yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." And we have endeavored to set this forth, from the beginning, as the true ground of all rational comfort in religion.
For if our distresses and trials do not drive us to seek support in the attributes of God, they do not afford us any benefit. The ground of all our hopes is God's love, manifested to the world in the gift of his only begotten Son. From this source we cannot expect too much. Hence you will uniformly observe, that those who dwell most on the person and work of Christ, have the brightest prospects of future blessedness. And the apostle Paul uses a fervent prayer, that those to whom he wrote, might attain to the knowledge of this love of Christ, by means of which they would learn the riches of their destined inheritance.
The apostle Paul breaks forth in a mingled doxology and prayer, when writing to the Ephesians: "Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." God is thus able; and thus his omnipotence is a ground of consolation.
I. God's omnipotence and grace, authorize us to expect from him blessings beyond our comprehension.The little child takes a pleasure in learning its father's riches, because it knows that this is all for its own advantage, and it never dreams of the parent's being restrained from giving by anything but lack of means. In like manner the Christian who has any right views of God as a Father, and of his relation to God, only needs to be informed that God is Almighty--to be assured that he will bestow all good. Hence meditation on the omnipotence of God is greatly edifying, not only as it raises us to high thoughts of the adorable divine character—but as it assures us of the infinite sufficiency there is in him. To say that God is able, is to say that he is willing.
This method of proceeding from his disposition to his nature, from his goodness to his greatness, of presuming on his love and then comforting ourselves with his power, is more pleasing than the reverse. For it is dreadful to have a full view of God's power, and at the same time to be in doubt whether it is not all arrayed against us. The impression of this is what gives triple horrors to hours of conviction, when some poor dismayed soul is brought into the presence of infinite sovereignty, might, and wrath—but as yet has no ray of true hope. Very different is the view which prompted the words of Paul: "Unto him that is able to do,"—as if he had said, Once convince me that God is able to make me happy, and I am content: of his disposition to bless me, his child--I can have no doubt. The apostle does not say God is willing: this was unnecessary.
You will possibly have a reply ready, to wit, that nobody doubts God's power—all who believe in a God, believe he is almighty. But it is important to observe, that there are many great truths which we do not deny, and which, nevertheless, we do not sincerely believe. And also, that there are degrees of faith, from the faintest assent, of which we are scarcely conscious, up to the full assurance of certainty. If nothing were necessary but to know and admit the general propositions of religious truth, much of our preaching, hearing, reading, and meditation would be superfluous. But we must keep the mind's eye fixed on these truths until our knowledge becomes more intimate, extensive, and spiritual, and our faith grows with contemplation. Thus, while we sit and look eastward, like those who watch for the morning, we behold, first the dawn, then the sunrise, then the bright morning, and then the blazing noon.
This is especially true of God's attributes. We know them. The terms which express them are simple enough. Our first catechisms give us almost all we need to have expressed in the way of definition. Nevertheless, what a world of knowledge is yet to be compassed on any one of those points! And how does he who meditates on a divine perfection, seem to go forth on a voyage from which there is no return! In this way the power of God, however familiar and admitted, requires to be mused upon and traversed in our thoughts; as the astronomer by nightly observations, repeated for years, tries to penetrate the wonders of the heavens; though the object which tasks his powers and arouses his curiosity is some galaxy familiar to his eye from early youth. It is wise to ponder upon known truth, and he who never practices it will make slender attainments in new discovery of truth. It was well for Paul to turn the gaze of the Ephesians upon the wonders of God's power—God "is able to do;" and to connect it with that love of Christ and fullness of God, of which he had just been speaking (Ephes. 3:20). There is a little cleft of heaven opened to us by these words, and some divine light breaks in.
Hope is a pleasant thing, even when it concerns itself about temporals; but when it overleaps the fences of time and space, and begins to expatiate in eternity; when it forecasts the condition of a soul let loose from the body; when it presses towards the eternal ages, all blissful and ever growing in the capacity for holy delights; when it pictures heaven, and successive births of soul into new ages of joy and love, cycle after cycle, then it becomes the angelic harbinger of God's presence. The true foundation for such hope is in God. There can be none other. To this the apostle directs the view—"To him that is able to do exceeding abundantly." It is because God the Lord is God, and our God and Redeemer, that we have such largeness of expectation. The measure of our hopes is the degree of God's ability. This is startling—but undeniable, and full of matter for thought. "If I (a believer) am not happy, it will be because God is not able to make me so." Here, indeed, is consolation. Nothing so enlarges the horizon of our expectations, as to place our hopes on divine perfections. He "who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think," places us on an eminence of observation, from which we may look out on the wide sea of future good, and find no shore or limitation. This, if anything, will lift a man above the world, and inspire a heroism into his Christianity.
The people of the world go through their pilgrimage in a poor ignoble manner, analogous to the beasts which do not lift their heads above the pasture in which they browse. Men whose portion is in this life very commonly put off thinking about any portion in the life to come, until they feel their hold on present things loosening. During middle life and activity, it is really amazing how our successful and busy citizens contrive to keep out thoughts of God and religion. Every few days there is a funeral of some old friend; these come faster and faster, as we go down the hill; neighbors attend these with proper solemnity, and look into the open vault, as if their thoughts were full of eternity. No such thing! they have acquired the art of locking God out of his creation; their minds are busy about the funeral, or the estate of the deceased, or whether his will shall be contested, or their own loss of time, or the next piece of sordid business. They do not like to retain God in their knowledge; they know they have nothing to expect from him. A high impenetrable wall blocks up the further side of their worldly prospects. What is beyond, is to them as if it had no existence. What though God has plainly set on record certain things about that coming state; what though hundreds whom they knew have lifted that curtain and left the stage; what though they are certain, that after a few days, they must make the plunge into the solemn unseen world; all these things fail to arouse them. No sweet hope gilds the western horizon towards which their sun is sinking. No refreshing foretastes of those heavenly pleasures cheer them in their present journey. They have resolved to make the most of this life; to live as if this were all; to keep God out of their thoughts; if not (as the great infidel said of death) "to make a leap in the dark."
I have gone aside to this allusion, because it throws the strong lights of contrast on the prevalent expectations of God's children. There is a low, cowardly disposition in certain Christians to seek the world's patronage, and almost ask the world's pardon, for their religion. Are they invited to some questionable amusement? they stammer out their apology of being Christ's, as a base-spirited spendthrift would own the slenderness of his purse. Are they censured for not loving this world enough? they plead religious custom or church-rule, or the opinion of friends, instead of glorying in their birthright in the world to come. That which they should bind to them as a garland and a diadem, and should hold forth as an irresistible inducement for sinners to come over to their side, they sometimes hide in a corner, and blush to have suspected.
True, healthy, living religion takes a different view of these matters—would God we had more of it! The believer walks by faith—have you considered what this means? It is faith which realizes the unseen, and presents the future. The believer walks about this world as a foreigner walks among the magnificent colonnades of some marble palace; it is beautiful; it awakens his momentary curiosity—but what is it to him! Tomorrow he is going away towards his beloved home. The Christian goes through this life under the overhanging influence of a spiritual state, and the incomparable attraction of a glory yet to be revealed. The very indistinctness of his vision, in respect to that fair country, increases his desires. "It does not yet appear what we shall be." But though the details of the future inheritance are not communicated to us, the principle and source of it is. A child who knows that he is an heir, and that his father has boundless estates, knows enough for his happiness, though ignorant of the precise locality of his estates. God is able to do—on that he rests. In this is abiding consolation. Here the soul can be firm. Were this constantly in our thoughts, we should be buoyed up amidst the waves of trouble.
We sometimes (if sincere seekers) busy ourselves in thinking of what may be in reserve for us, in that long, long existence which awaits us, and muse on the changes, the unfoldings, the ascendings, the enlargements, of which we shall be subjects, as those ages roll on. We sometimes try to imagine what these souls may become, and to speculate upon what infinite goodness, expressed in the gift of the Son and his death on the cross, may have in reserve for us. But all these thoughts of ours fall far below the measure of what God is able to do. Sometimes, again, in more devotional moments, our meditations take the form of request, and we undertake to ask of God to do this and that for us, in this life and in the life to come. But what poor, broken ignorant petitions, for the most part; if we could only compare them with the glory that is to be revealed in us. As if an infant should be craving a feather or a flower, when the parent is preparing for it a kingdom. "We know not how to pray, nor what to pray for as we ought." Thoughts and prayers are both together swallowed up and drowned in the depths of God's power and goodness; for "he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think."
The word used in that passage is peculiar, "beyond measure, surpassingly, or transcendently," breaking over all bounds of our comprehension. You will feel its force more when you take along with you the whole of the preceding glowing context, wherein the language labors and is forced into seeming contradictions, in order to indicate the great ideas. We have to comprehend the incomprehensible, and to measure the infinite, and to sound the unfathomable; "to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge;" to comprehend with all saints the dimensions of that which stretches beyond all human lines—the "love of Christ." As in the verse in Ephesians, the measure of what God will give is his power; so in the preceding verse, the measure is the love of Christ; and both are summed up in that amazing expression (v.19)—"all the fullness of God!"
It is with no niggardly hand that our Redeeming Lord
scatters these flowers of Hope along our path. We are not straitened in him.
We cannot hope too much, provided we hope for right things. And while the
promise of the New Testament is reserved in the extreme, as to the gift of
earthly things, except so far as they minister to godliness; the gates of
heaven are high and wide, and opening into boundless vistas of eternal
heavenly things. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into
the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love
him—but God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searches
all things, yes, the deep things of God." 1 Cor. 2:9. These "depths
of God" are the profound of his nature and perfections, on which our hopes
are dependent. The whole of the future is concerned in these
anticipations. For while we need not wait until after death for them to
begin—but may from the present moment have some foretaste, so neither need
we look on them as ending with this life—but as breaking into new, vast, and
inconceivable expansions in the life which is to come. For God "is able to
do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." Of the greatness of
these hopes, perhaps, enough has been said. It is proper that we should
consider their quality.
II. God's omnipotence and grace, authorize us to expect from him blessings of the highest QUALITY.
The object of the expectation is vast—but of what nature? Are they Epicurean, Elysian, Mohammedan--that is, are they sensual, carnal, philosophic, infidel enjoyments, which we look for? By no means! Such images and desires would argue a mind utterly void of true spiritual illumination and taste. No Christian can begin too soon to ascertain his standard of good; and it must be moral, spiritual, eternal, and divine. He looks for that which resides in the soul, that which flows from God, that which is wrought by the Spirit.
Let it be deeply engraved on our minds, that all God's dealings with us, from regeneration onwards, through all eternity, is a discipline, a molding, a training, an education. This is sought by all convictions, all applications of truth, all mercies, all chastisements, all that sanctifies us, by our very death, and yet more fully and gloriously by the unexplained communications of heaven. His purpose is to render us holy, to raise us to the perfection of our being, and to make us partakers of a divine nature. The work has commenced, and will never cease. "He that has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of redemption." He is able to perform it, beyond all our thoughts and prayers, yes, exceedingly beyond them all; and to search how, or to what extent, would be to search "the deep things of God."
We are lost in a labyrinth of thoughts, yet not without a clue. This we do know, that the great thing is the spiritual work of the Holy Spirit upon the mind and heart, begun here, and completed, or rather carried ever onward hereafter. All things are subsidiary to this. Whatever relates to our bodies, our friends, our circumstances, our temporal weal or woe, our gladness or our tears, whatever is passing and external, is subordinate to this great end; and we miss the true point of our expectations from God when we anxiously look to him for anything short of being made "partakers of his holiness."
The more sound our experience, the more pure our piety,
the more shall we understand that "this is the will of God, even our
sanctification." This is the heaven we desire. We shall love it, and exult
in it, in proportion as we love God, and exult in God. Herein "the children
of God are manifest and the children of the devil." The children of God have
a supreme taste for likeness to God—this is their chosen blessedness. The
children of the devil have no such taste. They desire the incidental
benefits of religion; such as escape from hell, and from the dread of it;
also supports and consolations under sorrows of life; but they must own that
renovation of nature, and the restored image of God, awaken none of their
sensibilities. The soul that is born again is filled with expectations,
which, however undefined, are at once spiritual and glorious. "Beloved, now
are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be; but we
know that when He shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as
he is." The nature of the object, then, which fixes our hopes is conformed
to the nature of the God who inspires it.
III. This glory is already begun in true Christians, and these beginnings are the pledge and foretaste of what God will bestow hereafter. That exceeding abundant blessing which he is able to confer is set forth to us by what he is now conferring. For that which he will do is "according to the power that works in us." We do not sufficiently consider this. We are already under a divine influence, the same mighty power which regenerates and which will save. We are already born into this new life, and are under the daily operations of a grace which performs miracles of love, and works transformations altogether beyond the power of nature. We are prone to undervalue changes which do not fall under the observation of sense. But creation itself is not more marvelous than the new spiritual creation. That this is really an object of power, and not left merely to human volition, is proved by our Lord's words to the disciples, when they asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus answered, "That which is impossible with men is possible with God."
In every true believer there is a work of God's power perpetually going on, compared with which conquests and revolutions are small and unimportant. The consciousness of this work within him, and the perception of its results, give him some intimation of what God will hereafter do. In the New Testament age, the contrast was striking between the unconverted and the converted state; hence the marks of this divine power were more apparent, and disciples felt that they were subjected to a power which was manifestly divine. Their hopes and triumphs seem to have been in proportion. Such will generally be the case—the more we feel the renewing energy at work within us, the brighter will be our hope of what that energy will accomplish hereafter. Hence the happiness derived from a marked and advancing Christianity, such as leaves us in no doubt whether Christ be in us or not. There is nothing that can so cheer us as this inward witness; and there will be no limit to our hopes of the favor which God will bestow, "according to the power that works in us."
These are no blind presumptuous expectations, which we are permitted to cherish with regard to the things which God intends for us hereafter. "God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit." He has given us some beginnings of them in the work of grace within. He has told us that he is able, and so told us as to make us sure that we shall never lack until his fullness is exhausted. "Open your mouth wide," says he, "and I will fill it." Look forward and contemplate the continuity of the work of grace. It is not a shower at noontide, which refreshes and is gone—but a well of water that springs up to everlasting life. Would you derive someUSEFUL LESSONS from what has been said? Among many, accept the following—
1. Here is great inducement for impenitent people to repent.Do you desire to have God on your side? then repent. All his power and all his goodness will be yours, and will be pledged to do you good. God is able, that is, God is omnipotent, signifies a different thing to the believer and to you. What can you read in it—but that he is able to destroy? and to destroy with an intensity of destruction beyond all your possibility of comprehension. God is armed against you, and each of his perfections is a tower from which irresistible assaults are made on your happiness. The infinite and eternal opposition between God's holiness and your sin must make you miserable and keep you so. There is no way to escape this—but by coming over to God's side, through the mediation of his Son. But let this once take place — and how extraordinary is the result! What ensues? not simple amnesty, safety, or even forgiveness—these would be great, unspeakable gifts! But more than these, God descends, and picks up the poor sunken creature from his footstool, and presses him to his bosom. Is this enough? No. He wipes his tears, clothes him in white apparel, enriches him with glory, and sets him upon a throne! The redeemed sinner finds that all the expensive and amazing plan of redemption, which has been opening out for ages, has had for its object the holiness and blessedness of himself, and such as he; and that the height which he has reached in the joy of his Lord, at the day of judgment, is only the starting-point, in a career of endless improvement in all that is pure, lovely, and spiritual.
I have, throughout these remarks, taken pains to represent the expected blessing as consisting in holiness, likeness to God, and communion with him. Now make sure that this is really your aim, and you cannot by possibility desire too much, or desire too ardently. Nor can you form any vision of what God is ready to communicate in these respects, which will not be ten thousand times surpassed by the reality.
2. Here is an aid in living above the world.The argument is easy—Is God preparing for me such an exaltation of holiness? which is already begun—then away with all knitting of the heart to what is worldly and temporary! Ungodly people think that Christianity draws off from their worldly pleasures and idols, from a certain sourness and misanthropy, or from lack of capacity for such delights. On the contrary, the soul of the believer flies far away above and beyond these surrounding trifles, and fixes itself on the spiritual glories of Christ and his eternal kingdom. It is believing "things hoped for," "things unseen," that cast a shadow over the present earthy toys. "This is the victory that overcomes the world—even our faith."
Do you think that is a poor, naked, barren country--on which faith's telescope fixes itself? Astonishing blunder! It may be called for largeness and beauty, and attraction—a world. "Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report," are included in it; and included in perpetual development and increase. God will go on to bless; Christ will be more and more the fountain of light and holiness. "Of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace." Think of this, when the world tempts you. Think what God is able to do, and will do. Think of the work as already begun within you, if you are of his people; and examine carefully whether you experience the divine efficacy of "the power that works in us."
3. This subject suggests matter for our desires and prayers.The doctrine is addressed to praying people; "above all that we ask or think." Unconverted people never pray heartily and understandingly for genuine holiness; but those who are converted, if they ever pray for anything, pray for this. The apprehension of these spiritual realities in their beauty and glory, does not come all at once, and we must be satisfied if one whose eyes are only just opened sees "men as trees walking:" but it infallibly comes, in the course of Christian experience. And not more truly and earnestly does the blind man express the topmost wish of his heart, "Lord, that I might receive my sight!" than the believer his longing, "O that my ways were directed to keep your statutes! In an earlier stage of experience he may have been too anxious about temporal things; but now his sober conviction is, that nothing is worth caring for, or asking of God with any importunity—but spiritual and eternal good.
In the revolution of ages, the day will come, when earthly or carnal gifts will no longer be a blessing; but the day will never come when truth, holiness, love, and God's image shall be less valuable; nay they will be growing in value to all eternity. Our prayers then are most sure to be right, and to be answered, when they are for imperishable things, and for what God himself regards as real good. Praying for the future glory is the way to be fitted for it; and while we so pray to be conformed to God, we are subjected to the mighty power, mentioned by Paul, whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself. The encouragement to such prayers need not be here rehearsed, seeing it has been our principal topic—"God is able to do exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or think."
Nothing is more pleasing to God, than our desires that this spiritual work should go on in us mightily. He inspires such prayers, meaning to answer them—I may say they are partly answered in the very asking. These are moments when the soul feels that it would rather suffer affliction than not be sanctified, and rejoices and glories in tribulation, because the experience which it derives from them is heaven begun. There is a peculiar excellency in the holy pleasures of the afflicted—it is on the face of the 'wilderness' that this manna falls. And there cannot be named a pursuit or enterprise of human beings, in which there is so little possibility of failure as praying for sanctification. God is able to do above your asking.
4. Such expectations from God's greatness and goodness may well sustain us amidst the trials of life.If these afflictions are sharp, so as to put our utmost patience to the proof, we may look forward towards the immensity of the promise. We may have losses; but until they avail to take away our God, they cannot effectually cloud the glorious prospect. Though we have seen the blessings promised to belong chiefly to the spiritual and eternal world, yet we are not to suppose that our heavenly Father is indifferent to the condition of his children during the course of their present pilgrimage. The hairs of their head are all numbered, and the bounds of their habitation are chosen. Even in regard to this life, he is able to do more than they ask or think. He can draw off the heavy clouds which obscure their skies; nay, he will certainly do so at the very first moment when it shall be consistent with his infinite plan of mercy. Thus he caused the dark day of Jacob's affliction under his supposed bereavement, to brighten into an evening of peace and joy. Thus the unexampled losses of Job were followed by equally unexampled blessing. Yet after all that we may concede, as to the profit of godliness in the present life, its chief expectations fix themselves on that which is to come; and these exceeding great and precious promises are the headspring of every believer's comfort. To these he can come, when all cisterns are dry. This is blessedness in days of poverty, pain, and bereavement. Like the ancient prophet, he still says, "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord—I will rejoice in the God of my salvation." The more enlarged his views of the Divine power and faithfulness, the more will he expect; and the brighter his expectations are, the less will he feel the weight of present burdens.
If our afflictions are heavy, and sometimes intolerable, it is because we dwell too little in thoughts of the glory which is to be revealed. What but this enabled the Christian martyrs, in the primitive age, to endure excruciating penalties, and death in its most hideous forms—but the confidence they had in God's ability and readiness to admit them into his exceeding joy? If for a moment their belief of the truth we are considering could have wavered, they would have fainted, and given way under the vehemence of their torments. That which can support a man under the assaults of the chief and last enemy, even death, can surely hold him up under foregoing and lesser trials. But we know by edifying observation at the bedsides of the dying, that large expectation from God's power and love can thus sustain; at a juncture when it were madness to look for anything from earthly sources. All which should encourage us to study the riches of God's omnipotent mercy, as a resource when heart and flesh fail.
In grief and pain, when frail nature is ready to succumb, this doctrine of God's ability to relieve and save comes like a cordial to the soul. It cannot deceive, because its foundation reaches down to the rocky and eternal base of all excellency and all being. Until divinity itself shall change, this must remain the firm consolation of the believer. And his peace will be in proportion to his faith—whence it is to be inferred, that we should have more ample provision for the seasons of sorrow, if in our times of prosperity we were more engaged in profound meditation on the attributes of God.
The sovereign Author of Grace, who observes a holy order in his dispensations to the church, is not accustomed to pour his richest solace over the souls of those who have sought him negligently, or who have been driven to seek him only at the time of calamity. Even to these he shows himself to be a God of mercy; but his largest gifts of consolation are to those who have learned to make him their refuge before the tempest began to howl. True believers, educated by a long discipline to expect from God, turn to him in the hour of sorrow, as naturally as the infant to the mother's bosom. They know whom they have believed. Their confidence in this time of new emergency, is only the exercise of a trust which has been the habit of their sunnier days. Long ago they have settled their hearts in the firm persuasion, that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above their prayers or conceptions. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, takes of these familiar truths, and makes them effectual in the hour of tribulation. Though there be no more sign of deliverance than for Abraham, when his hand was raised to sacrifice his son, they are strong in faith, giving glory to God. Though Divine Wisdom cast an impenetrable curtain over all the ways and means of escape, they flee with confidence to the infinite attributes of him in whom they have trusted. And when every hope on this side of heaven has failed, they can still rejoice in the marvels of loving mercy which their Lord stands ready to display in the coming eternity.
5. Here is ground for high praise to God for this infinite love.The text is brought in as a doxology; see verse 21. The apostle strikes a note of thanksgiving, that is to be endless in the church, militant and triumphant. All ages shall be full of the "praise of the glory of his grace." In our present state we are most ready to express gratitude for temporal deliverances and mercies; but in the future state, we shall find these all swallowed up in the blessing of salvation, and shall understand salvation better, as being the life of God; the subduing of the will unto his; the growing like our Maker and Redeemer; and the higher and higher reaches of knowledge and love. The longer we live the life of heaven, the better shall we know what we have to give thanks for; because we shall know better what God is, and be nearer to him, and more fully acquainted with the wonders of his universe, and the richness of his wisdom.
Here, while on earth, we do but babble like infants about these things; "we know in part, and we prophesy in part;" "but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." Here we form low conceptions of what our Heavenly Father is able to do; and we can give thanks only according to our knowledge—but as our comprehension of divine grace and glory increases, we shall fall down on the golden pavement in speechless rapture of gratitude. But ah! how difficult is it to speak prudently of things beyond our experience. Let us be modest, in regard to what is not revealed. Of particulars we know nothing; of the general truth we are certain. God will never let drop that work in the soul, which he has taken in hand. "Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen!"