Page images

dom; those also which relate to the divine will; viz. S ER M. GOD's justice, truth, holiness, and goodness: I come CLII. now to confider his power of acting, which is his omnipotency; this I fhall speak to from these words.

In the beginning of this Pfalm, David declares that GOD was the great object of his trust and confidence, and that all his hopes and expectation of fafety and deliverance were from him, v. 1, 2. And this makes him challenge his enemies for all their mischievous qualities and devices against him, as vain attempts, v. 3, 4. Hereupon he chargeth himself to continue his truft and confidence in Gon, from whom was all his expectation, and who was able to fave and deliver him; v. 5, 6, 7. And from his example and experience, he encourageth and exhorts all others to trust in GoD, v. 8. and that from two arguments.

1. Because all other objects of our trust and confidence are vain and infufficient, and will fail those that rely upon them. If we will rely upon any thing in this world, it must either be persons or things; but we cannot fafely repose our truft in either of these. Not in perfons: they may be reduced to one of these two heads, either high or low: Those that are of a mean condition, it would be in vain to truft them; they that cannot fecure themselves from meanness, cannot secure others from mischief, "men of low degree "are vanity:" But the great ones of the world, they would feem to promife fomething of affiftance and fecurity to us; but if we depend upon them, they will fruftrate us, "men of high degree are a lie." As for the things of the world, that which men usually place their confidence in, is riches; these are either got by unlawful, or lawful means; if they be ill gotten, by oppreffion or robbery, they will be fo far from fecuring us from evil, that they will bring it upon us; if they be well gotten, they are of an uncertain nature,



SER M. that we have little reason to place our hopes in them; "if riches increase, fet not your heart upon them;' that is, your hope; for heart in fcripture fignifies any of the affections.

2. Because GOD is the proper object of our trust and confidence. We may fafely rely upon any one, in whom these two things concur, a power to help us, and goodness to incline him fo to do. Now David tells us, that both these are eminently in GOD, and do in a peculiar manner belong to him; power, V. 11. and goodness, v. 12.

I fhall speak to that which David makes the firft ground of our confidence, the power of God; power belongs to GoD: For which he brings the teftimony of GOD himself, "once hath God spoken, 66 twice have I heard this." Some interpreyea ters trouble themselves about the meaning of this expreffion, as if it did refer to some particular revelation of GOD; and then again they are troubled how to reconcile GOD's fpeaking this but once, with David's hearing it twice: but I do not love to spy mysteries in those expressions which are capable of a plain sense; for I understand no more by it but this, that God hath several times revealed this; he frequently declared himself by this attribute, " once,


yea twice," that is, he hath spoken it often, and David had heard it often. This is anfwerable to that phrase of the Latins, Semel atque iterum; and it is ufual in all writers to ule a certain number for an uncertain, and particularly among poets, Felices ter & amplius, Hor. And fo in the poetical writers of fcripture, Job v. 19. he hath " delivered thee in "fix troubles, yea, in feven there fhall no evil "touch thee;" that is, in feveral and various troubles. Ecclef. xi. 2. " Give a portion to feven, and "alfo to eight;" that is, diftribute thy charity to




many; and which is nearest to this, Job xl. 5. SER M. "Once have I spoken, but I will not anfwer; yea "twice, but I will proceed no farther:" that is, I have had several discourses with my friends; and xxxiii. 14. "GOD fpeaketh once, yea twice, in a dream, in "a vifion of the night," that is, God reveals himfelf in several ways and manners to men; fo here "God hath spoken once, yea twice;" that is, GoD hath often declared this. And if I would be fo cu

rious to refer to a particular declaration of GOD, I fhould think, that it related either to the preface to the law, "I am the LORD thy God," that is, the great and powerful God, "that brought thee out of "the land of Egypt;" or rather to the declaration. which God made of himself to Abraham, Ifaac, and Jacob, by the name of the Almighty GoD, Gen. xvii. 1. Concerning which revelation of GOD, it is faid exprefly, Exod. vi. 3. "I appeared unto Abraham, " and Ifaac, and Jacob, by the name of God Al"mighty, but by my name Jehovah, was I not "known to them."

But that which I defign to speak to, is the proposition itself, that "power belongs to God;" that is, that the excellency of power, power in it's highest degree and perfection; "all power belongs to God," that is, that omnipotence is a property or perfection. of the divine nature.

In the handling of this, I fhall fhew,

First, What we are to understand by the omnipotence of God.

Secondly, That this perfection belongs to GOD. First, What we are to understand by the omnipotence of God. And this I fhall confider,

I. As to the principle. And,

II. As to the exercise of it.

I. As to the principle, it is an ability to do all



SERM. things, the doing of which speaks power and perfection; that is, whatever is not repugnant either to the nature of things, or of GOD; whatever does not imply a contradiction in the thing, or an imperfection in the doer; an ability to do all things which are confiftent with itself, and with the divine nature and perfection; by which we must mean an executive power, the effect whereof is without himself; for what he is faid to do within himself, the acts of his understanding and will, as we conceive his will to be diftinct from his power, are not to be referred to his omnipotence. To have a right conception of omnipotence we must imagine the most perfect active principle that we can, and it is still something more perfect than that, or any thing we can imagine. To help our conception,

1. Let us imagine a principle from which all other power is derived, and upon which it depends, and to which it is perfectly subject and fubordinate.

2. A perfect active principle, which can do, not only what any finite being or creature can do, but what all beings joined together can do; nay, more and greater things than they all can do.

3. A perfect active principle, to which nothing can make any confiderable, much lefs effectual refiftance, which can check and countermand at pleafure, and carry down before it, and annihilate at other powers that we can imagine befides this; because we cannot imagine any other power, that is not derived from this, and does not depend upon it.

4. A perfect active principle, which can do all things in a moft perfect manner, and can do all things at once and in an inftant, and that with eafe. We can but do one thing at once; and the greater and more confiderable it is, the more time it will take us to do it, and we find it the harder and more difficult to be done :


done, but God, to whofe knowledge all things are S ERM. present at once, and together, and the acts of whofe will are as quick and perfect as of his understanding, hath a power anfwerable to the perfection of both; and therefore it is as eafy to him to do all things, as one thing; at once, as fucceftively, and in time. For this is the privilege of an infinite fpirit, that it does not only act without hands and material engines or inftruments, as every spirit doth, but without motion from one place to another, because he is every where, and fills all places; he acts per modum voluntatis, as if his actings were nothing elfe but a willing that fuch a thing be done, and ipfo facto every thing is fo, as he wills it fhould be, and when he wills it fhould be; as if things did ftart up into being, or vanifh out of being, as if they did break forth into being, and fculk again into nothing, and undergo fuch and fuch changes, ad nutum voluntatis, “at "the beck of his will." And this is the most perfect way of acting that can be imagined, which the scripture seems to exprefs to us when it reprefents GOD as "making things by his word, upholding all things


by the word of his power," as if he did but “speak "the word," and fay, "Let fuch a thing be, and "it was fo;" as if there were nothing more required to the doing of any thing, but an exprefs act of the divine will, which is all we can understand by GOD's fpeaking, by his word, and voice, and faying, "Let things be;" but the leaft that it can fignify, is the quick and speedy manner of working, whereby GoD is able to do things in an inftant, as foon as a word can be spoken.

And as he can do all things at once, and in an inftant; fo with ease, without any pain or laborious endeavour; for what is it that can object any difficulty to him? At the first creation of things there was VOL. VIIL nothing

C c

« PreviousContinue »