Body of Divinity
By Thomas Watson
3. The ETERNITY of God.
The next attribute is, "God is eternal." "From
everlasting to everlasting, you are God."
There are three kinds of beings:
1. Such beings as had a beginning—and shall have
an end. Such as all animate creatures—the animals, birds, fish—which
at death are destroyed and return to dust. Their being ends with their life.
2. Such beings as had a beginning—but shall have
no end. Such as angels and the souls of men, which are eternal once
they are brought into existence—they abide forever.
3. Such as is without beginning—and without
ending. This is proper only to God. He is from everlasting—to
everlasting. This is God's title, a jewel of his crown. He is called
"the King eternal." Jehovah is a word that properly sets forth God's
eternity. It is a word so dreadful, that the Jews trembled to name or read
it; and used Adonai, 'Lord,' in its place. Jehovah contains in
it time past, present, and to come. "I am the Alpha and the Omega—says the
Lord God—who is, and who was, and who is to come, the
Almighty." Revelation 1:8. This verse illustrates the word Jehovah; (who
is) he subsists of himself, having a pure and independent being; (who
was) God alone, was before time; there is no searching into the records
of eternity; (who is to come).
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever!" Psalm
45:6. The doubling of the word ratifies the certainty of it, as the doubling
of Pharaoh's dream. His kingdom has no end; his crown has no
I shall prove that God alone could be eternal—without
beginning. Angels could not be eternal; they are but creatures,
and though spirits—they were created. Therefore their beginning may be
known; their antiquity may be searched into. If you ask, when were they
created? Some think before the world was; but not so: for what was
before time was eternal. The first origin of angels reaches back no further,
than the beginning of the world. It is thought by the learned, that the
angels were made on the day on which the heavens were made. "When the
morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy."
Jerome, Gregory, and venerable Bede understand it, that when God laid the
foundation-stone of the world, the angels being then created, sang anthems
of joy and praise.
It is proper to God only to be eternal, without
beginning. He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. No creature can
write itself Alpha, that is only a flower of the crown of heaven.
Exod 3:14. "I am who I am," that is, "I am the one who always is. I am he
who exists from, and to eternity!" "The Lord will reign
forever and ever!" Exodus 15:18. "The Lord is King forever and ever!" Psalm
Use one: Here is thunder and lightning to the WICKED.
"Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven
golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever!"
Revelation 15:7. God is eternal, therefore the torments of the wicked are
eternal! God lives forever; and as long as God lives, he will be punishing
the damned! This should be as the handwriting upon the wall, which should
have this effect— "and his face turned pale with fear. Such terror gripped
him that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way beneath him."
Daniel 5:6. The sinner takes liberty to sin; he breaks God's laws, like a
wild beast that breaks over the hedge, and leaps into forbidden pasture; he
sins with greediness, as if he thought he could not sin fast enough. "They
don't care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves
over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and
greed." Ephesians 4:19. But remember, one of God's names is Eternal,
and as long as God is eternal he has time enough to reckon with all his
enemies. To make sinners tremble, let them think of these three things: the
torments of the damned are without intermission, without mixture, and
(1.) Without intermission. Their pains shall
be acute and sharp, and no relaxation; the fire shall not be slackened or
abated. "They have no rest day nor night;" like one who has his joints
stretched continually on the rack, and has no ease. The wrath of God is
compared to a stream of brimstone. Isa 30:33. Why to a stream?
Because a stream runs without intermission; so God's wrath runs like a
stream, and pours out without intermission. In the pains of this present
life, there is some abatement and intermission; the fever abates; after a
fit of the stone, the patient has some ease; but the pains of hell are
intense and violent. The damned soul never says, "I am now more at ease."
(2.) Without mixture. Hell is a place of pure
justice. In this life, God in anger remembers mercy, he mixes compassion
with suffering. Asher's shoe was of iron—but his foot was dipped in oil.
Affliction is the iron shoe—but mercy is mixed with it; the foot is dipped
in oil. But the torments of the damned have no mixture. "They shall drink of
the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture."
No mixture of mercy.
How is the cup of wrath said to be mixed? "For the
Lord holds a cup in his hand; it is full of foaming wine mixed with
spices. He pours the wine out in judgment, and all the wicked must drink it,
draining it to the dregs!" Psalm 75:8. Yet in the Revelation it is said to
be without mixture. It is mixed, that is, it is full of all the
ingredients that may make it bitter; the worm, the fire, the curse of God,
all these are bitter ingredients. It is a mixed cup—yet it is without
mixture; there shall be nothing to afford the least comfort, no mixture of
mercy, and so without mixture. In the sacrifice of jealousy, Numb
5:15, no oil was put to it; so, in the torments of the damned, there is no
oil of mercy to abate their sufferings.
(3.) Without cessation, eternal. The pleasures of
sin are but for a season—but the torments of the wicked are forever!
Sinners have a short feast—but a long reckoning! Origen erroneously thought,
that after a thousand years, the damned would be released out of their
misery; but the worm, the fire, the prison—are all eternal. "The smoke of
their torment rises forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or
night." Revelation 14:11. "The torments of hell keep on punishing, they
never end," Prosper. Eternity is a sea without bottom and banks.
After millions of years, there is not one minute in eternity spent; and the
damned must be ever burning—but never consumed, always dying—but never dead.
"They shall seek death—but shall not find it."
The fire of hell is such, as multitudes of tears will not
quench it; and length of time will not finish it! The vial of God's wrath
will be always dropping upon the sinner! As long as God is eternal, he lives
to be avenged upon the wicked. Oh eternity! eternity! who can fathom it?
Mariners have their plummets to measure the depths of the sea; but what line
or plummet shall we use to fathom the depth of eternity? The breath of the
Lord kindles the infernal lake, Isa 30:33; where shall we have buckets to
quench that fire?
Oh eternity! If all the body of the earth and sea were
turned to sand, and all the air up to the starry heaven were nothing but
sand, and a little bird should come every thousand years, and fetch
away in her bill but the tenth part of a grain of all that heap of sand;
what numberless years would be spent before that vast heap of sand would be
fetched away! Yet, if at the end of all that time, the sinner might come out
of hell, there would be some hope. But that word "Forever" breaks the
heart. "The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever." What a
terror is this to the wicked--enough to put them into a cold sweat, to
think, as long as God is eternal, he lives forever to be avenged upon them!
Here the question may be asked—Why
should sin that is committed in a short time, be punished eternally?
We must hold with Augustine, "that God's judgments on the
wicked, may be secret—but never unjust." The reason why sin
committed in a short time is eternally punished, is, because every sin is
committed against an infinite essence, which nothing less than eternity of
punishment can satisfy. Why is treason punished with death—but because it is
against the king's person, which is sacred; much more that offence which is
against God's crown and dignity is of a heinous and infinite nature, and
cannot be satisfied with less than eternal punishment.
Use two: Of comfort to the GODLY. God is
eternal, therefore he lives forever to reward the godly. "To those who seek
for glory and honor, eternal life." The people of God are now in a suffering
condition. "Bonds and afflictions await me." The wicked are clad in purple,
and fare deliciously, while the godly suffer. The goats climb upon
high mountains, while Christ's sheep are in the valley of slaughter.
But here is the comfort—God is eternal, and he has appointed eternal
recompenses for the saints. In heaven are fresh delights, and sweetness
without excess. That which is the crown and zenith of heaven's happiness,
is—that it is "eternal." Were there but the least suspicion that this glory
must cease, it would much eclipse, yes, embitter it; but it is eternal. "An
eternal weight of glory."
What angel can span eternity? The saints shall bathe
themselves in the rivers of divine pleasure; and these rivers can
never be dried up. "At your right hand are pleasures for evermore." This is
the highest strain in the apostle's rhetoric, "Forever with the Lord!" In
heaven, there is peace without trouble, ease without pain, glory without
end; "forever with the Lord!"
Let this comfort the saints in all their troubles; their
sufferings are but short—but their reward is eternal! Eternity makes heaven
to be heaven! Eternity is the diamond in the ring! Oh blessed day,
which shall have no night! The sunlight of glory shall rise
upon the soul, and never set! Oh blessed spring, that shall have no
autumn, or fall of the leaf. The Roman emperors have three crowns set upon
their heads—the first of iron, the second of silver, the third of gold; so
the Lord sets three crowns on his children—grace, comfort, and glory. The
saints' crown is eternal, "You shall receive a crown of glory which never
fades away!" The wicked have a never-dying worm; and the godly a
never-fading crown! Oh how should this be a spur to virtue! How willing
should we be to work for God! Though we have nothing here on earth, God has
time enough to reward his people. The crown of eternity shall be set upon
Use three: Of exhortation. Study
eternity. Our thoughts should chiefly run upon eternity. We all wish for
something that may delight our mind. If we could have lived, as Augustine
says, from the infancy of the world to the world's old age, what is
this—compared to eternity? What is time, measured with eternity? As the
earth is but a small point, compared to the heavens. Just so, time is
scarcely a moment—compared to eternity! And then, what is this poor life
which crumbles away so fast? Oh, think of eternity!
Brethren, we are every day traveling to eternity;
and whether we wake or sleep—we are going our journey. Some of us are upon
the borders of eternity. Oh study the shortness of life—and length of
More particularly think of God's eternity and the
soul's eternity. Think of God's eternity. He is the Ancient
of Days, who was before all time. There is a figurative description of
God, "As I kept watching, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of
Days took His seat. His clothing was white like snow, and the
hair of His head like whitest wool. His throne was flaming fire; its
wheels were blazing fire. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from His
presence. Thousands upon thousands served Him; ten thousand times ten
thousand stood before Him. The court was convened, and the books were
opened." Daniel 7:9-10. His clothing was white like snow, which signifies
his majesty. His hair, like the pure wool, signifies his holiness. His
title, the Ancient of Days, signifies his eternity.
The thought of God's eternity should make us have high
adoring thoughts of God. We are apt to have low, irreverent thoughts of him.
"You thought I was such a one as yourself," weak and mortal. But if we would
think of God's eternity, when all our power ceases—he is King eternal, his
crown flourishes forever, he can make us happy or miserable forever—this
would make us have adoring thoughts of God. "The twenty-four elders fall
down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for
ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne." Revelation 4:10.
The saints fall down, to signify by that humble posture, that they
are not worthy to sit in God's presence. They fall down and they worship him
who lives forever and ever; they do as it were, kiss his feet. They cast
their crowns before the throne, they lay all their honor at his feet; thus
they show humble adoration to the eternal essence. Study God's eternity, it
will make us adore him—where we cannot fathom him.
Think of the soul's eternity. As God is eternal,
so he has made us eternal. We are never-dying creatures; we are
shortly entering upon our eternal state—either of eternal happiness or
eternal misery. Have serious thoughts of this. Say, "O my soul, which of
these two eternities is likely to be your portion? I must shortly depart
hence, and where then shall I go—to which of these eternities, either of
glory or misery shall I go?" The serious meditation on the eternal state we
are to pass into, would work strongly with us.
(1.) Thoughts of eternal torments, are a good antidote
against sin. Sin tempts with its pleasure; but when we think of
eternity, it may cool the intemperate heat of lust. Shall I, for the
pleasure of sin for a season—endure eternal pain? Sin, like those locusts,
Rev 9:7, seems to have on its head a crown like gold—but it has in it a tail
like a scorpion, verse 10, and a sting in its tail; and this sting can never
be plucked out. Shall I venture eternal wrath? Is sin committed so sweet—as
lying in hell forever is bitter? This thought would make us flee from sin,
as Moses fled from the serpent!
(2.) The serious thoughts of eternal happiness would very
much take us off from worldly things. What are these sublunary
things, compared to eternity! They are quickly gone. They greet us—and then
take their farewell. But I am to enter upon an everlasting estate; I
hope to live with him who is eternal. What then, is the present fleeting
world to me? To those who stand upon the top of the Alps—the great cities
below are small things in their eyes. Just so, to him who has his thoughts
fixed on his eternal state after this life—all these earthly things seem as
nothing in his eye. What is the glory of this world? How poor and
contemptible, compared with an eternal weight of glory!
(3.) The serious thoughts of an eternal state, either of
happiness or misery, should have a powerful influence upon whatever we take
in hand. Every work we do promotes either a blessed
eternity, or a cursed eternity. Every good action sets
us a step nearer to an eternity of happiness. Every bad action sets
us a step nearer to an eternity of misery. Oh what influence should the
thoughts of eternity have upon our pious duties! It should make us do them
with all our might. Duty well performed, lifts a Christian higher towards
heaven, and sets a Christian a step nearer to a blessed eternity!
4. The IMMUTABILITY of God.
The next attribute is God's unchangeableness.
"I am the Lord, and I do not change." Malachi 3:6
God is unchangeable in his nature, and in his
I. God is unchangeable in his NATURE.
1. There is no eclipse of his brightness.
2. No end put to his being.
 There is no eclipse of his brightness. His
essence shines with a fixed luster. "Who does not change like
shifting shadows," James 1:17. "You remain the same, and your years will
never end," Psalm 102:27. All created things are full of
vicissitudes. Princes and emperors are subject to change. Sesostris, an
Egyptian prince, having subdued many kings in war, made them draw his
chariot, like horses, as if he intended them to eat grass, as God did King
Nebuchadnezzar. The crown has many successors. Kingdoms have their
eclipses and convulsions. What has become of the glory of Athens? The pomp
of Troy? [Now corn grows, where the great city of Troy once stood]. Though
kingdoms have a head of gold, they have feet of clay.
The heavens change. "They will perish, but you
remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change
them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years
will never end." Psalm 102:26-27. The heavens are the most ancient records,
where God has written his glory with a sunbeam—yet these shall change.
Though I do not think they shall be destroyed as to their substance—yet they
shall be changed as to their qualities; they shall melt with fervent heat,
and so be more refined and purified. 2 Peter 3:12. Thus the heavens shall be
changed—but not he who dwells in heaven. "I am the Lord, and I do
The best saints have their eclipses and changes.
Look upon a Christian in his spiritual estate, and he is full of variation.
Though the seed of grace does not die—yet its beauty and
activity often wither. A Christian has his anguish fits in
piety. Sometimes his faith is at a high tide—and sometimes low ebb;
sometimes his love flames—and at another time is like fire in the embers,
and he has lost his first love. How strong was David's grace at one time!
"God is my rock, in him will I trust." At another time he says, "I shall one
day perish by the hand of Saul." What Christian can say he does not find a
change in his graces; that the bow of his faith never unbends, the
strings of his violin never slacken? Surely we shall never meet with such
Christians until we meet them in heaven! But God is without any shadow of
The angels were subject to change; they were
created holy—but mutable. "The angels which kept not their first estate."
Jude 6. These morning stars of heaven were falling stars. But
God's glory shines with a fixed brightness. In God there is nothing which
can change, for better or worse. He cannot change for the better—because
then he would not now be perfect. He cannot change for the worse—for then he
would cease to be perfect. He is immutably holy, immutably good; there is no
shadow of change in him.
But when Christ, who is God, assumed the human nature—was
there a change in God?
If the divine nature had been converted into the human,
or the human into the divine, there would have been a change—but they were
not. The human nature was distinct from the divine nature. Therefore there
was no change. A cloud over the sun makes no change in the the sun. Just so,
though the divine nature is covered with the human nature, it makes no
change in the divine nature.
 There is no end put to his being. "Who
alone has immortality." The Godhead cannot die. An infinite essence cannot
be changed into finite; and God is infinite. He is eternal, consequently he
is not mortal. To be eternal and mortal is a contradiction.
Use one: See the excellence of the divine nature in its
immutability. This is the glory of the Godhead. Mutableness
denotes weakness, and is not in God, who is "the same,
yesterday, and today, and forever." Men are fickle and mutable, like
Reuben, "unstable as water." Men are changeable in their principles.
If their faces altered as fast as their opinions—we would not recognize
them. Men are changeable in their resolutions; just as the wind that
blows in the east, presently turns about to the west. They resolve to be
virtuous—but quickly give up of their resolutions. Their minds are like a
sick man's pulse, which alters every half hour. The apostle Jude compares
them to waves of the sea, and wandering stars. They are not
pillars in God's temple—but reeds shaken by the wind. Others are
changeable in their friendship. They quickly love—and quickly
hate. Sometimes they will press you to their bosom; later they will
excommunicate you out of their favor. They change as the chameleon, into
several colors. But God is immutable—he does not change.
Use two: See the vanity of the creature. There
are changes in everything, but in God. "Lowborn men are but a breath, the
highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together
they are only a breath." Psalm 62:9. We look for more from the creature,
than God has put in it. The creature has two evils in it—it promises more
than we find—and it fails us when we most need it. A man desires to have his
corn harvested—but the rain falls; the mariner is for a voyage—but the wind
does not blow, or is contrary; one depends upon another for the payment of a
promise, and he fails, and is like a foot out of joint. Who can find a fixed
stability in the vain creature? It is as if one should build houses on the
sand, where the sea comes in and overflows. The creature is true to nothing
but deceit—and is constant only in its disappointments. It is no more
astonishing to see changes in the creature, than to see the moon dressing
itself in a new shape and figure. Expect to meet with changes in everything,
Use three: Comfort to the godly.
(1.) In case of losses. If an estate, you are
almost boiled away to nothing, and if you lose friends by death—there is a
double eclipse. But the comfort is—God is unchangeable. I may lose these
things—but I cannot lose my God; he never dies. When the fig-tree and
olive-tree failed, God did not fail. "I will rejoice in the God of my
salvation." Flowers in the garden die—but a man's portion remains. Just so,
outward things die and change—but "you are the strength of my heart, and my
(2.) In case of sadness of spirit. God seems
to cast off the soul in desertion. "My Beloved had withdrawn himself." Yet,
God is unchangeable. He is immutable in his love; he may change his
countenance—but not his heart! "I have loved you with an
everlasting love." Jer 31:1. Hebrew—a love of eternity. If once
God's electing love rises upon the soul—it never sets. "Though the mountains
be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not
be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed—says the Lord, who has
compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10. God's love stands firmer than the
mountains. His love to Christ is unchangeable; and he will no more cease
loving believers, than he will cease loving Christ.
Use four: Of exhortation. Get a saving
interest in the unchangeable God, then you are as a rock in the
sea—immoveable in the midst of all changes.
How shall I get a part in the unchangeable God?
By having a change wrought in you. "But you are
washed—but you are sanctified." By this change we are savingly interested in
the unchangeable God.
Trust to that God, who alone is unchangeable. "Cease from
man," stop trusting to the reed—but trust to the Rock of ages.
He who is by faith engarrisoned in God, is safe in all changes; he is like a
boat that is tied to an immoveable rock. He who trusts in God, trusts in
that which cannot fail him; for God is unchangeable. "I will never leave
you, nor forsake you." Health may leave us, riches, friends
may leave us; "but," says God, "I will never leave you; my power
shall support you; my Spirit shall sanctify you; my mercy
shall save you! I will never leave you!" Oh trust in this unchangeable God!
God is jealous of two things; of our love, and of
our trust. He is jealous of our love, lest we love the
creature more than him; therefore he makes it prove bitter. God is jealous
of our trust, lest we should place more confidence in the creature,
than in him, therefore he makes it prove unfaithful. Outward comforts are
given us as food along the way—to refresh us, not as crutches to lean on. If
we make the creature an idol, what we make our trust, God will make
our shame. Oh trust in the immortal God! Like Noah's dove, we have no
footing for our souls, until we get into the ark of God's
unchangeableness. "Those who trust in the Lord shall be like mount Zion,
which cannot be removed."
II. God is unchangeable in his DECREE. What he
has decreed from eternity is unalterable. "My purpose will stand, and I will
do all that I please." Isaiah 46:10. God's eternal counsel or decree, is
immutable. If he changed his decree, it must be from some defect of wisdom
or foresight, for that is the reason why men change their purposes; they see
something afterwards, which they did not see before. But this cannot be the
cause why God should alter his decree, because his knowledge is perfect—he
sees all things in one entire prospect before him.
But is not God said to repent? This seems to be a
change in his decree? "The Lord repented of the evil that he said he would
do unto them."
Repentance is attributed to God, figuratively. "He
is not a man, that he should repent." There may be a change in God's work—but
not in his will. He may will a change—but not change his will. "God
may change his sentence—but not his decree." A king may cause sentence to be
passed upon a malefactor whom he intends to save; so God threatened
destruction to Nineveh—but the people of Nineveh repenting, God spared them.
Here God changed his sentence—but not his decree; it was what had lain in
the womb of his purpose from eternity.
But if God's decree is unchangeable, and cannot be
reversed, then to what purpose should we use the means? Our endeavors
towards salvation cannot alter his decree.
The decree of God does not affect my endeavor; for he who
decreed my salvation, decreed it in the use of means; and if I neglect the
means I reprobate myself. No man argues thus: "God has decreed how long I
shall live, therefore I will not use any means to preserve my life, I will
not eat and drink." As God has decreed the length of my life, in the use of
means—so God has decreed my salvation in the use of the Word and of prayer.
As a man who refuses food murders himself—just so, he who refuses to work
out his salvation destroys himself. The vessels of mercy are said to be
prepared unto glory. How are they prepared, but by being sanctified? and
that cannot be, but in the use of means. Therefore let not God's decree,
take you off from holy endeavors. It is a good saying of Preston, "Have you
a heart to pray to God? it is a sign that no decree of wrath has passed
Use one: If God's decree is eternal and unchangeable,
then God does not elect upon our foreseen faith, as the Arminians
maintain. "The children being not yet born, that the purpose of
God according to election might stand, it was said, Jacob have I loved, Esau
have I hated." Romans 9:11, 13. We are not elected for our
holiness—but to holiness. Eph 1:1. If we are not justified for
our faith, much less are we elected for our faith. We are said to be
justified through faith as an instrument—but not for faith as
a cause; and, if not justified for faith, then much less elected
for faith. God's decree of election, is eternal and unchangeable, and
therefore depends not upon foreseen faith. "As many as were ordained to
eternal life, believed." They were not elected because they believed—but
they believed because they were elected.
Use two: If God's decree is unchangeable, it gives
comfort in two cases.
(1.) Concerning God's providence towards his church.
We are ready to quarrel with Providence, if everything does not accord with
our desire. Remember God's work goes on, and nothing happens, but what he
has decreed from eternity.
(2.) God has decreed troubles for the church's good.
The troubles of God's church, are like the angel's troubling the
water, which made way for healing his people. God has decreed
troubles in the church. "His fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem."
The wheels in a watch move contrary to one another—but they all carry on the
motion of the watch. Just so, the wheels of Providence often move contrary
to our desires—but still they carry on God's unchangeable decree. "Many
shall be made white." God lets the waters of affliction be poured on
his people—to make them white. Therefore, do not murmur at God's dealings!
His work goes on; nothing happens, but what he has wisely decreed from
eternity. Everything shall promote God's design, and fulfill his decree.
Use three: Comfort to the GODLY in regard of their
salvation. "The foundation of God stands sure, having this
seal—The Lord knows those who are his." God's counsel of election is
unchangeable. Once elected—forever elected. "I will not blot his name out of
the book of life." The book of God's decree has no errata in it, no
blottings out. Once justified, never unjustified. "Repentance shall be hid
from my eyes." Hos 13:14. God never repents of his electing love. "He loved
them to the end." Therefore, if you are a believer, comfort yourself with
this—the immutability of God's decree.
Use four: To conclude with a word to the WICKED, who
march furiously against God and his people—let them know that God's decree
is unchangeable. God will not alter it, nor can they break it!
While they resist God's will, they fulfill it. There is a two-fold will of
God—the will of God's precept, and the will of his decree.
While the wicked resist the will of God's precept, they fulfill the will of
his permissive decree. Judas betrays Christ, Pilate condemns him, the
soldiers crucify him; while they resist the will of God's precepts, they
fulfill the will of his permissive decree. "For, in fact, in this city both
Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, to do
whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place." Acts
God commands one thing, they do the contrary. While they
disobey his command, they fulfill his permissive decree. If a man sets up
two nets, one of silk, the other of iron, the silken net may be broken, not
the iron one. Just so, while men break the silken net of God's command, they
are taken in the iron net of his decree; while they sit backward to God's
precepts, they row forward to his decrees. God decrees to permit
their sin, and then to punish them for their sin permitted.
5. The WISDOM of God.
The next attribute is God's wisdom, which is one of the
brightest beams of the Godhead. "He is wise in heart." The heart is the seat
of wisdom. Among the Hebrews, the heart is put for wisdom. "Men of
understanding," Job 34:34. The Hebrew is "Men of heart." God is wise in
heart, that is, he is most wise.
God alone is wise—he solely and wholly possesses
all wisdom; therefore he is called, "the only wise God." All the treasures
of wisdom are locked up in him, and no creature can have any wisdom but as
God is pleased to give it out of his treasury.
God is perfectly wise; there is no defect in his
wisdom. Men may be wise in some things—but in other things they show
imprudence and weakness. But God is the exemplar and pattern of wisdom, and
the pattern must be perfect. "As your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew
5:48. God's wisdom appears in two things:
I. His infinite intelligence.
II. His exact working.
I. His infinite INTELLIGENCE. He knows the
most profound secrets. "Our Lord is great, vast in power; His
understanding is infinite." Psalm 147:5. "There is a God in heaven who
reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will
happen in the future." Daniel 2:28. He knows the thoughts, which are the
most intricate subtle things. "I know full well what you are thinking." Job
21:27. "The Lord knows the thoughts of man." Psalm 94:11. Let sin be
contrived ever so secretly, God will pull off all masks and disguises, and
make a heart-anatomy. He knows all future contingencies; all things are
before him in one clear prospect.
II. His exact and meticulous WORKING. He is
wise in heart; his wisdom lies in his works. These works of God are
bound up in three great volumes, where we may read his wisdom.
 The work of CREATION. The creation is both
a monument of God's power, and a looking-glass in which we may see his
wisdom. None but a wise God could so meticulously contrive the world. Behold
the earth decked with variety of flowers, which are both for beauty
and fragrance. Behold the heaven bespangled with lights. We may see
the glorious wisdom of God blazing in the sun, twinkling in the stars. His
wisdom is seen in marshaling and ordering everything in its proper place
and sphere. If the sun had been set lower, it would have burnt us; if
higher, it would not have warmed us with its beams. God's wisdom is seen in
appointing the seasons of the year. "You have made summer and
winter." If it had been all summer, the heat would have scorched us; if all
winter, the cold would have killed us. The wisdom of God is seen in
chequering the dark and the light. If it had been all night, there would
have been no labor; if all day, there would have been no rest. Wisdom is
seen in mixing the elements, as the earth with the sea. If it had
been all sea, we would have lacked bread; if it had been all earth, we would
have lacked water. The wisdom of God is seen in preparing and ripening
the fruits of the earth, in the wind and frost which prepare the fruits,
and in the sun and rain which ripen the fruits. God's wisdom is seen in
setting bounds to the sea, and so wisely contriving it, that though
the sea is higher than many parts of the earth—yet it should not overflow
the earth. We may cry out with the Psalmist, "O Lord, how manifold are your
works! in wisdom have you made them all." There is nothing to be seen in
this world, but miracles of God's wisdom.
God's wisdom is seen in ordering social things,
that one shall have need of another. The poor need the rich man's money, and
the rich need the poor man's labor. God makes one trade depend upon
another—that one may be helpful to another, and that mutual love may be
 The second work wherein God's wisdom shines forth is
the work of REDEMPTION.
(1.) Redemption is the masterpiece of divine wisdom.
God has contrived a way for happiness for sinful man—and still uphold his
justice! We may cry out with the apostle, "O the depth of the riches both of
the wisdom and knowledge of God!" This has astonished men and angels. If God
had left us to find out a way of salvation when we were lost—we could
neither have had a head to devise, nor a heart to desire—what God's infinite
wisdom had planned for us.
Mercy had a mind to save sinners, and was loath that
the justice of God should be wronged. "It is a pity," says Mercy, "that such
a noble creature as man should be eternally undone; and yet God's justice
must not be a loser. What way then shall be found out? Angels cannot satisfy
for the wrong done to God's justice; nor is it fit that one nature should
sin—and another nature suffer. What then? Shall man be forever lost?" Now,
while Mercy was thus debating with itself, what to do for the
recovery of fallen man, the Wisdom of God stepped in—and thus the
oracle spoke: "Let God become man; let the Second Person in the Trinity
become incarnate, and suffer; and so for fitness he shall be man, and for
ability he shall be God! Thus justice may be satisfied, and man saved!" O
the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God—thus to make justice and
mercy to kiss each other! Great is this mystery, "God manifest in the
flesh." What wisdom was this—that Christ should be made sin—yet know no sin;
that God should condemn the sin—yet save the sinner! Here was wisdom—to find
out the way of salvation.
(2.) The means by which salvation is applied—sets forth
God's wisdom—that salvation should be by faith, not by works.
Faith is a humble grace—it gives all to Christ; it is an adorer of free
grace. And free grace being advanced here, God has his glory; and it is his
highest wisdom to exalt his own glory.
(3.) The way of working faith—declares God's wisdom.
It is wrought by the word preached. "Faith comes by hearing." What is the
weak breath of a man—to convert a soul? It is like whispering in the
ears of a dead man. This is foolishness in the eye of the world; but the
Lord loves to show his wisdom by that which seems folly. "He has chosen the
foolish things of the world to confound the wise." Why so? "So that no one
can ever boast in the presence of God."
If God were to convert by the ministry of angels—then
we would be ready to glory in angels, and give that honor to them which is
due to God; but when God works by weak tools, makes use of men who are of
like passions with ourselves, and by them converts, then the power is
plainly seen to be of God. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to
show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us!" Herein is
God's wisdom seen, that no flesh may glory in his Presence.
 The wisdom of God wonderfully appears in the works of
his PROVIDENCE. Every providence has a mercy or a
wonder enrapt up in it. The wisdom of God, in his works of providence,
(1.) By effecting great things—by small contemptible
means. He cured the stung Israelites, by a brazen serpent. If
some sovereign antidote had been used, if the balm of Gilead had been
brought, there would have been some likelihood of a cure; but what was there
in a brazen serpent? It was a mere model—and not a real
serpent; and it was not physically applied to him who was wounded; he was
only to look upon it; yet this wrought a cure! The less probability
in the instrument—the more is God's wisdom seen!
(2.) The wisdom of God is seen in doing his work, by that
which to the eye of flesh seems quite contrary. God intended to
advance Joseph, and to make all his brethren's sheaves bow to his sheaf.
Now, what way does he take? First Joseph is thrown into the pit; then
sold into Egypt; then after that put in prison. But by his imprisonment God
made way for his advancement. For God to save in an ordinary
way—would not so much display his wisdom. But when he goes strangely
to work, and saves in that very way in which we think he will
destroy—his wisdom shines forth in a most conspicuous manner!
God would make Israel victorious, and what way
does he take? He lessens Gideon's army. "The people that are with you
are too many." He reduces the army of thirty-two thousand, to three hundred;
and by taking away the means of victory, makes Israel victorious.
God had a design to bring his people out of Egypt,
and a strange course he takes to effect it! He stirred up the hearts of the
Egyptians to hate them. "He turned their heart to hate his people." The more
they hated and oppressed Israel, the more God plagued the Egyptians, and the
more glad they were to let Israel go. The Egyptians were urgent that they
might send them out of the land in haste.
God had a mind to save Jonah when he was cast into
the sea—so he let the fish swallow him up, and so brought him to the shore.
God would save Paul, and all who were in the ship
with him—but the ship must be wrecked, so that they could all came safely to
land upon the broken pieces of the ship. Acts 27:74.
In reference to the church, God often goes by
contrary means, and makes the enemy do his work. God can make a straight
stroke, with a crooked stick. He has often made his church grow and
flourish by persecution. "The showers of blood have made her
more fruitful," says Julian. Exod 1:10. "Come, we must deal shrewdly with
them or they will become even more numerous." But the way the Egyptians took
to suppress them, made them multiply. Verse 12. "But the more they were
oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to
dread the Israelites." Just like the soil—the more it is harrowed,
the better crop it bears. The apostles were scattered by persecution, and
their scattering was like the scattering of seed. They went up and down, and
preached the gospel, and brought daily converts. Paul was put in prison, and
his chains were the means of spreading the gospel. "Now I want you to know,
brothers, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the
advancement of the gospel." Philippians 1:12.
(3.) The wisdom of God is seen in making the most
desperate evils, to work to the good of his children. As several
poisonous ingredients, wisely tempered by the skill of the apothecary, make
a sovereign medicine—so God makes the most deadly afflictions work together
for the good of his children. He uses severe afflictions to purify them, and
prepare them for heaven. "For our momentary light affliction is producing
for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory!" 2 Corinthians
4:17. These hard frosts hasten the spring flowers of glory! The wise
God, by a divine chemistry, turns our afflictions into cordials. He
makes his people gainers by losses; and turns their crosses
(4.) The wisdom of God is seen in this—that the sins of
men shall carry on God's work; yet he himself should have no hand in their
sin. The Lord permits sin—but does not approve it.
He has a hand in the action in which sin is—but not in the sin
of the action. As in the crucifying of Christ, so far as it was a natural
action, God concurred; if he had not given the Jews life and breath, they
could not have done it; but as it was a sinful action, so God abhorred it. A
musician plays upon a violin which is out of tune; the musician is the cause
of the sound—but the jarring and discord is from the violin itself. Just so,
men's natural motion is from God—but their sinful motion is
from themselves. When a man rides on a lame horse, his riding is the cause
why the horse goes—but the lameness is from the horse itself. Herein is
God's wisdom—that the sins of men carry on his work—yet he has no hand in
(5.) The wisdom of God is seen in helping in desperate
cases. God loves to show his wisdom—when human help and wisdom
fail. Exquisite lawyers love to wrestle with difficult law cases, as this
more shows their skill. God's wisdom is never at a loss; but when
providences are darkest, then the morning star of deliverance
appears. "He remembered us in our low estate." Sometimes God melts
away the spirits of his enemies. "The Lord has surely given the whole land
into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us." Joshua
2:24. Sometimes he finds them other work to do, and sounds a retreat to
them, as he did to Saul when he was pursuing David. "The Philistines are in
the land." When the church seems to be upon destruction, and her peace and
liberty ready to be sacrificed, then the deliverance comes.
(6.) God's wisdom is seen in befooling wise men, and in
making their wisdom the means of their overthrow. Ahithophel had
deep understanding. "The counsel Ahithophel gave was like that of one who
inquires of God;" but he consulted his own shame. "The Lord turned his
counsel into foolishness." "God takes the wise in their own craftiness;"
that is, when they think to deal wisely, he not only disappoints
them—but ensnares them. The snares they lay for others, catch
themselves! "They have fallen into the pit they dug for others. They have
been caught in their own trap." God loves to counterplot politicians; he
makes use of their own wit to undo them. He hangs Haman up on his own
Use one: Adore the wisdom of God. It is an
infinite deep; the angels cannot search into it. "Oh, the depth of the
riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His
judgments and untraceable His ways!" Romans 11:33. As we should adore
the wisdom of God—so we should rest in the wisdom of God. God sees
what condition is best for us. Did we believe the wisdom of God, it would
keep us from murmuring. Rest in God's wisdom.
(1.) Rest in God's wisdom—in lack of spiritual comfort.
God is wise; he sometimes sees it good, that we should be without
comfort. Perhaps we would be lifted up in pride if we had spiritual
enlargements; as Paul, with his revelations. "Especially because of the
extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a
thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I
would not exalt myself." 2 Corinthians 12:7. It is hard to have the heart
low—when comfort is high. God sees humility to be better for us than
joy. It is better to lack comfort, and be humble—than to have it, and
(2.) Rest in God's wisdom—in lack of bodily strength,
rest in God's wisdom. He sees what is best. Perhaps the less health—the more
grace. Perhaps the weaker in body—the stronger in faith. "Though our outward
man is perishing—yet the inward man is renewed day by day." At Rome there
were two laurel trees; when the one withered, the other flourished. When God
shakes the tree of the body, he is gathering the fruits of
righteousness. "No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but
painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness
to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11. Sickness is God's
lance—to let out the poison of sin. "The Lord did this to purge away
Israels' sin." Isaiah 27:9.
(3.) Rest in God's wisdom—in case of God's providences to
his church. When we wonder what God is doing with us, and are
ready to kill ourselves with worry—let us rest in God's wisdom. He knows
best what he has to do. "Your way went through the sea, and Your path
through the great waters, but Your footprints were unseen." Psalms
77:19. Trust his heart—where you cannot trace his hand. God is most
in his way, when we think he is most out of the way. When we think God's
church is, as it were, in the grave, and there is a tombstone laid upon her,
his wisdom can roll away the stone from the sepulcher. "Christ comes leaping
over mountains." Either his power can remove the mountain, or
his wisdom knows how to leap over it!
(4.) Rest in God's wisdom—in case we are low in the
world, or have but little oil in our cruse—let us rest in God's
wisdom. He sees that this condition is best for us. Perhaps it is to cure
us from pride or worldliness. God knew if your estate had not
been lost—your soul would have been lost. God saw that riches
would be a snare unto you. "But those who want to be rich fall into
temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge
people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all
kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and
pierced themselves with many pains." 1 Timothy 6:9-10. Are you troubled that
God has prevented a snare? God will make you rich in faith. What you lack in
temporals, shall be made up in spirituals. God will give you more of his
love. You are weak in estate—but God will make you strong in assurance. Oh
rest in God's wisdom! He will carve the choicest piece for you!
(5.) Rest in God's wisdom—in case of the loss of dear
friends, a wife, or child, or husband, let us rest satisfied in
God's wisdom. God takes away these, because he would have more of our love;
he breaks these crutches, that we may live more upon him by faith.
God would have us learn to go without crutches.
Use two: If God is infinitely wise—let us go to him for
wisdom. Solomon prayed, "So give your servant a discerning
heart . . . The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this." 1
Kings 3:9-10. Here is encouragement for us; "If any one lacks wisdom, let
him ask of God, who gives liberally, and upbraids not." Wisdom is in
God—as water is in the fountain. That is, his wisdom is imparted, but
not impaired—his stock is not spent by giving it. Go then to God.
"Lord, give me wisdom, to know the fallacy of my heart; the subtleties of
the old serpent; to walk carefully towards myself; piously towards you,
prudently towards others; guide me by your counsel, and afterwards receive
me to glory."
6. The OMNIPOTENCE of God.
The next attribute is God's power. "If I speak of
strength, lo, he is strong." In this chapter is a magnificent description of
God's power. "Lo, he is strong." The Hebrew word for strong signifies
a conquering, prevailing strength. "He is strong." The
superlative degree is intended here; namely, He is most strong. He is
called El-shaddai, 'God Almighty'. His almightiness lies in this—that
he can do whatever is feasible. Divines distinguish between authority and
power. God has both.
I. He has a sovereign right and AUTHORITY over man.
He can do with his creatures as he pleases. Who shall dispute with God? who
shall ask him a reason of his doings? "All the people of the earth are
nothing compared to him. He has the power to do as he pleases among the
angels of heaven and with those who live on earth. No one can stop him or
challenge him, saying—What do you mean by doing these things?" Daniel 4:35.
God sits as judge in the highest court; he calls the monarchs of the earth
to the bar, and is not bound to give a reason of his proceedings. "He puts
down one, and raises up another." He has salvation and damnation
in his power. He has the key of justice in his hand, to lock up
whomever he will, in the fiery prison of hell! And he has the key of
mercy in his hand, to open heaven's gate to whomever he pleases! The
name engraved upon his vesture is, "King of kings, and Lord of lords!" He
sits Lord paramount, and who can call him to account? The world is God's
house, and shall not he do what desires will in his own house? "I will
have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have
compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on
God's mercy." Romans 9:15-16. "My purpose will stand, and I will do all that
I please!" Isaiah 46:10. "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty,
reigns!" Revelation 19:6. "Our God is in heaven and does whatever He
pleases." Psalm 115:3. "The Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and on
earth, in the seas and all the depths." Psalm 135:6.
It was God who made King Nebuchadnezzar to eat grass; and
who threw the angels to hell when they sinned. "How you are fallen from
heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the
earth." Isa 14:12. "He sets bounds to the sea, and bridles the proud waves."
God is the supreme monarch, all power is seated originally in him. "The
powers that be, are ordained of God." Kings hold their crowns of him. "By me
II. As God has authority, so he has infinite POWER.
What is authority without power? "He is mighty in strength." This power of
God is seen.
 In the CREATION. To create requires
infinite power. All the world cannot make a fly. God's power in creating is
evident; because he needs no instruments to work with; he can work
without tools; because he needs no matter to work upon; he creates
matter, and then works upon it; and because he works without labor;
"He spoke, and it was done."
 The power of God is seen in the CONVERSION of souls.
The same power draws a sinner to God, which drew Christ out of the grave to
heaven. Eph 1:19. Greater power is put forth in conversion, than in
creation. When God made the world, he met with no opposition; as he
had nothing to help him, so he had nothing to hinder him. But
when he converts a sinner, he meets with opposition. Satan
opposes him, and the sinner's heart opposes him; a sinner is angry
with converting grace. The world was the "work of God's fingers."
Conversion is the "work of God's arm." In the creation, God wrought
but one miracle, he only spoke the word. But, in conversion, he works
many miracles; the blind man is made to see, the dead man is
raised, the deaf man hears the voice of the Son of God. Oh, the
infinite power of Jehovah! Before his scepter, angels veil and prostrate
themselves, and kings cast their crowns at his feet!
"He touches the land, and it shall melt." "He removes the
earth out of her place." An earthquake makes the earth tremble upon her
pillars—but God shakes it out of its place; he can remove the earth from its
center. He can do what he will; his power is as large as his will.
Were men's power as large as their will, what work would they make in the
world! God's power is of equal extent with his will. He with a word can
unpin the wheels, and break the axle of the creation. He can do "more than
we can think." He can suspend natural agents. He sealed up the lions'
mouths; he made the fire not to burn; he made the waters to stand up on a
heap; he caused the sun to go ten degrees backward in the dial of Ahaz. What
can overcome Omnipotence? "He humbles the spirit of leaders; He is feared by
the kings of the earth." Psalm 76:12.
He counter-works his enemies; he pulls down their flags
and banners of pride, frustrates their counsels, breaks their forces; and he
does it with ease, with the turning of his hand; "with his breath," a look,
a glance of his eye is all it needs cost God to destroy his enemies. "The
Lord looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and
cloud, and he threw them into confusion." Exod 14:24. Who shall stop him in
his march? God commands, and all creatures in heaven and earth obey him.
Xerxes, the Persian monarch, threw fetters into the sea,
when its waves swelled, as if he would have chained the waters; but when God
speaks, the wind and sea obey him. If he says but the word, the stars
fight in their courses against Sisera; if he stamps with his foot, an army
of angels shall presently be in battalia. What can omnipotent power not do?
"The Lord is a man of war." "He has a mighty arm." "God's power is a
It is an irresistible power. "Who has resisted his
will?" To contest with him, is as if the thorns should set themselves in
battle array against the fire; or, as if an infirm child should fight with
an archangel. If the sinner is once taken in God's iron net, there is no
escape. "There is none who can deliver out of my hand."
God's power is inexhaustible; it is never spent or
wasted. Men, while they exercise their strength, weaken it; but God has an
everlasting spring of strength in himself. Though he spends his arrows upon
his enemies—yet he does not spend his strength. "I will heap calamities upon
them and spend my arrows against them." Deut 32:23. "Have you never heard or
understood? Don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator
of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary." Isaiah 40:28.
God cannot do all things, because he cannot deny himself.
Though God can do all things, he cannot do that which
stains the glory of his Godhead. He cannot sin; he cannot do that which
implies a contradiction. To be a God of truth, and yet deny himself, is a
Use one: If God is infinite in power, let us FEAR him.
We fear such as are in power. "Do you not fear Me? Do you not tremble before
Me?" Jer 5:52. He has power to cast our souls and bodies into hell. "Who
knows the power of his wrath?" The same breath that made us—can dissolve us!
"His fury is poured out like fire; the rocks are thrown down by him."
Solomon says, "The king's command is backed by great power. No one
can resist or question it;" how much more is the command of God! Oh let us
fear this mighty God! The fear of God will drive out all other base fear.
Use two: See the deplorable condition of WICKED men.
(1.) This power of God is not for them. (2.) This power of God is against
(1.) This power of God is not for them. They have no
union with God, therefore they have no warrant to lay claim to his power.
His power is no relief to them. He has power to forgive sins—but he will not
put forth his power towards an impenitent sinner. God's power is an eagle's
wing, to carry the saints to heaven; but what privilege is that to the
wicked? Though a man will carry his child in his arms over a
dangerous stream—yet he will not carry an enemy. God's power is not
engaged to help those who fight against him. Let miseries come upon the
wicked, they have none to help them; they are like a ship in a storm without
a pilot, and driven upon the rocks.
(2.) This power of God is against the wicked. God's
power will not be the sinner's shield to defend him—but a sword
to wound him! God's power will bind the sinner in chains. His power
serves to revenge the wrong done to his mercy. He will be Almighty to damn
the sinner. Now, in what a dreadful condition is every unbeliever? God's
power is engaged against him! "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands
of the living God!"
Use three: It reproves such as do not BELIEVE the power
of God. We say we do not doubt of God's power—but his will. But
indeed it is his power that we question. "Is anything too hard for God?" We
stagger through unbelief, as if the arm of God's power were shrunk, and he
could not help in desperate cases. Take away a king's power, and we unking
him; take away the Lord's power, and we ungod him. Yet how guilty of this
are we! Did not Israel question God's power? "Can he prepare a table
in the wilderness?" They thought the wilderness was a fitter place for
making graves, than spreading a table. Did not Martha doubt Christ's
power? "He has been dead four days." If Christ had been there while
Lazarus was sick, or when he had just died, Martha did not question but he
could have raised him; but he had lain in the grave four days, and
now she seemed to question his power. Christ had as much to do, to raise her
faith as to raise her dead brother.
Moses, though a holy man, limited God's power through
unbelief. "But Moses said, "There are 600,000 foot soldiers here with me,
and yet you promise them meat for a whole month! Even if we butchered all
our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the
fish in the sea, would that be enough?" Then the Lord said to Moses, "Is
there any limit to my power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes
true!" Numbers 11:21-23. This is a great affront to God, to deny his power.
That men doubt of God's power, appears by their taking indirect courses; for
they would not defraud in their dealings, and use false weights, if they
believed the power of God could provide for them; and by depending more upon
second causes than upon God. "Even when the disease became life threatening,
he did not seek the Lord's help but sought help only from his physicians." 2
Use four: If God is infinite in power, let us take heed
of hardening our hearts against him. "Who has hardened himself
against him and prospered?" Job sends a challenge to all creatures in heaven
and earth. Who ever took up the sword against God, and came off conqueror?
For a person to go on daringly in any sin, is to harden his heart against
God, and to raise a war against heaven. Let him remember God is El-Shaddai,
almighty; he will be too hard for those who oppose him. "Have you an arm
like God?" Such as will not bow to his golden scepter, shall be
broken with his iron rod.
Julian hardened his heart against God, he opposed him to
his face; but what did he get at last? Did he prosper? Being wounded in
battle, he threw up his blood into the air, and said to Christ, "O Galilean,
you have overcome! I acknowledge your power, whose name and truth I have
opposed." Will folly contend with wisdom; weakness with power;
the finite with the infinite? Oh take heed of hardening your heart
against God! He can send legions of angels to avenge his quarrel. It is
better to meet God with tears in your eyes—than weapons in your hand. You
may overcome him sooner by repentance—than by resistance.
Use five: Get a saving interest in God, and then this
glorious power is engaged for you. He promises under oath, that
he will put forth the whole power of his Godhead for the good of his people.
"The Lord Almighty is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel." This
almightiness of God's power is a wonderful support and comfort to the
believer. It was Samson's riddle. "Out of the strong came forth sweetness;"
so out of the attribute of God's power, out of this strong, comes forth
sweetness. It is COMFORT in several cases.
(1.) In case of strong corruption. "My sins," says a
child of God, "are potent. I have no power against this army that comes
against me. I pray, and humble my soul by fasting; but my sins return upon
me!" Ay, but do you believe the power of God? The strong God can conquer
your strong corruption; though sin is too hard for you—yet not for
him! He can soften hard hearts, and quicken the dead. "Is anything too
hard for the Lord?" Set his power to work, by faith and prayer. Say, "Lord!
it is not for your honor that the devil should be so prevalent within me;
oh, break the head of this leviathan! Abba, Father, all things are possible
(2.) In case of strong temptation. Satan is called
the strong man; but remember the power of God. Christ is called, "The
Lion of the tribe of Judah," he has broken the serpent's head upon the
cross. Satan is a chained enemy, and a conquered enemy. Our
Michael is stronger than the dragon.
(3.) Comfort in case of weakness of grace, and fear of
falling away. "I pray—but I cannot send out strong cries. I believe—but
the hand of my faith shakes and trembles." Cannot God strengthen weak
grace?" "My strength is made perfect in weakness: most gladly therefore will
I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon
me." "I fear I shall not hold out!" Christian, do you believe the power of
God? Has not God preserved your grace thus far? May you not set up your
Ebenezer? God has kept your grace hitherto—as a spark in the midst of the
ocean; and is not he able still to keep it? "God, in his mighty power, will
protect you until you receive this salvation." 1 Peter 1:5. God's mercy
pardons us—but his power preserves us. He who by his power keeps
the stars, that they do not fall from their orbs—keeps our grace that it
does not fail.
(4.) Comfort in case of deficiency in your estate.
God can multiply the oil in the cruse; miraculously he can raise up
supplies. Cannot he who provides for the birds of the air, provide
for his children? Cannot he who clothes the lilies clothe his
(5.) Comfort in regard of the resurrection. It seems
difficult to believe, that the bodies of men, after being eaten up by worms,
devoured by beasts and fish, or burned to ashes, should be raised the same
bodies; but if we believe the power of God, it is no great wonder. Which is
harder—to create, or raise the dead? He who can make a body of
nothing, can restore it to its parts when mingled and blended with
other substances. "With God all things are possible." If we believe the
first article of the creed—that God is almighty; we may quickly believe the
other article—the resurrection of the body. God can raise the dead because
of his power, and he cannot but raise them because of his truth.
(6.) It is comfort in reference to the church of God.
He can save and deliver it when it is brought low. The enemies have power in
their hand—but God will restrain them. He can either confine the
enemy's power, or confound it. "If God is for us, who can be against
us?" God can create rejoicing in Jerusalem. The church in Ezekiel is
compared to dry bones—but God made breath to enter into them, and they
lived. The ship of the church may be tossed, because sin is in it—but
it shall not be overwhelmed, because Christ is in it. All the church's pangs
shall help forward her deliverance. "God is our refuge and strength, always
ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes
come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!" Psalm 46:1-3.