On the Power of God

“On the Power of God” is taken from the April 1810 issue of the Baptist Magazine, page 249. Though the language is somewhat antique, this wonderful statement of orthodox theology from an early Baptist magazine is a great encouragement. Please take the time to read and consider it.

He had horns coming out of his hand, and there was the hiding of his power.

Hab. iii, 4.

The Prophets wrote in a highly figurative style; the intention, however, of all the figures that related to the divine Being, is manifestly to set forth the incomprehensible nature of his Attributes. His power is represented concealed in the horns coming out of his hand, or rays proceeding from every side. The great source of it has never been discovered, notwithstanding the many awful revelations of its extent.

1. Let us cultivate a proper idea of the Power of God. (1.) It agrees with the grandeur of his Essence. The Scriptures afford a mortifying view of the weakness of man. Any comparison between God and his creatures is impious and absurd, Hast thou an arm like God? Or canst thou thunder with a voice like his? The Essence of God was never a mere existence, he never possessed a mind destitute of thought, which afterwards expanded itself and compassed by succession a number of ideas; he never knew the moment in which his power began to rise from weakness to something stronger; He always was ᴀʟᴍɪɢʜᴛʏ. The self-existence of God places him in the most perfect independence. He fills the heavens and the earth, but has no dependence on them; for if the heavens and the earth were demolished and creation made a blank, he would retain all his native grandeur. His throne is encircled with millions of glorious spirits, who with 10,000 times 10,000 songs adore his majesty; but were they all annihilated, and no tongue found to utter his praise, he would retain all his native excellence. If such is the dignity of the divine Essence, what must be its power? Its activity or its repose are independent of all creatures. He protects his people, punishes the guilty, vindicates his government, and asserts his dignity. Lo, these are a part of his ways, but how little a portion is heard of him, and the thunder of his power who can understand?

(2.) The divine Power comports with the Sovereignty of his Will. Let us contemplate the wisest politicians, however artful their plans–the greatest heroes, whatever their military skill, the extent of their resources, or the valour of their troops–or even Satan, the chief rebel against Omnipotence, though long practiced in deceit, and fruitful in artifice,–None of these can perform the things they wish. But of God it is written, His counsel shall stand, he will do all his pleasure. Whatsoever he desireth, it is done by an act of his will. Does he command Light to shine out of Darkness? No materials are brought before him that he may kindle up its lustre, He said, Let there be light and there was light! Does he create the heavenly bodies? He saith, Let there be lights in the firmament, and sun, moon, and stars blaze forth in all their varied splendour! Does he create animated beings? He saith, Let the earth bring forth living creatures, etc. In the same instant bones are formed, muscles play, blood flows, instinct operates! Does he say, Let man become a living soul? Immediately the soul thinks, imagines, enquires, reasons, and adores! But the revelation of his Power in the magnificence and beauty of creation, is as nothing when compared to its real energy. All these wonders, above, below, around us, are as a drop to the ocean–as a spark emanated from the fountain of light. O Lord how great are thy works, and thy thoughts are very deep.

(3.) The divine Power exists in harmony with all other divine perfections. Is he spiritual? Such are his operations. He spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast. The deed is imperceptibly connected with the fiat, as the sound of a voice is with utterance, which though two distinct things, are inseparable. Is his duration eternal? Such is his power; he fainteth not neither is weary. Is he omnipresent? He upholdeth all things by the word of his power. Has he all knowledge? His power is commensurate, to cherish the good, to punish the evil, to put away sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness by a new and living way. Is he holy, in all his works, and in all places of his dominion? His power is a holy power. He cannot lie; he cannot deny himself; but this is no imperfection of power, rather it is its glory. The divine power is always in perfect harmony with spotless purity.

2. The Display of the Power of God calls for our attention. It was in the magnificence of Creation that ancient believers beheld the glory of God. The earth, the air, the sea, and all the myriads of living creatures therein are all his Workmanship; and he has made their several habitations fruitful to supply their various wants. He openeth his hand and filleth all things living with plenty! But what is earth, with all that inhabit it to the amazing worlds around us? The Sun, a vast globe of fire, 763,000 miles in diameter, a million times larger than our earth, shedding a glorious light and diffusing a prolific warmth on other worlds like ours: whose beneficial influence we feel at the distance of 90,000,000 miles, and other planets in our system at the distance of 426,000,000 miles, and others at incalculable distances. Yet even all the solar System is but as a point in the works of God! Other stars are other centres of other Systems; some of them so remote that their light, though travelling 1,000,000 times swifter than a ball from a cannon’s mouth, has not reached the earth in 5000 years. When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the stars which thou hast made, Lord what is man?

But Christians more especially delight to contemplate the Power of God manifested in the triumphs of the Cross. Had the Gospel been adapted to Jewish prejudices or gentile philosophy, enforced by royalty, prevailed through eloquence, or been supported by the sword; we should cease to regard it as under the protection of Omnipotence. But from the manger to the cross, from the time of Pilate to this day, it has prevailed, not by the will of man, nor by the power of the flesh, but by the will of God. This baffled the first adversary of the new-born Saviour, defeated the powers of darkness, and made use of the malice of [his religious opponents], and the treachery of Judas to aid the divine purposes of grace and salvation! This gave knowledge and the command of all language to the illiterate, made the heathen oracles dumb, and to this hour, He that measures the earth and drives asunder the nations, declares, I will overturn, overturn, till he shall reign whose right it is to reign.

In the history of the Church it is especially gratifying to contemplate the Power of God in reducing all events into a concurrence to promote his own glory. There we see men acting only for their own interest, obeying only their own passions, some prompted by ambition, some moved by fear; yet, whatever their aims, God ever rules their conduct for his own purposes, and makes all things work together to forward his designs. Apostles are put in prison, but this issues in the conversion of the Jailor and his family. Disciples are persecuted at Jerusalem, and scattered abroad, but in every direction they carried with them the Gospel of our Lord. Believers in Jesus are made public spectacles, racks, gibbets, tortures and flames are everywhere prepared for those of whom the world is not worthy; but the piety, calmness and zeal with which they submit to every indignity, convinces the Spectators, and they also become Christians. A licentious prince, in subservience to a brutal passion, opposes the authority of the Mother of harlots, and by his very crimes, though the last thing he intended, he laid a foundation for a Reformation, under which the first blessings have been these many years poured out upon our Island. Thus he taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and carrieth the counsel of the froward headlong. The great Adversary of Mankind goeth about daily, seeking to injure the people of God; ever varying his temptations, exciting to presumption, to pride, to murmuring, to fear, to despair,–but the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth, all these trials tend daily to convince them of their weakness and their dependence, the excellence of the promises and the faithfulness of God.

3. From the Power of God we may derive motives to exertion, and reasons of consolation. It is true that the divine Omnipotence is one of the most awful subjects that can meet a sinner’s ear. Who is this that thou art opposing, frail worm of the earth? He hath power to call thee to his bar in a moment, and to cast thee body and soul into hell! But the almighty power of God encourages the believer to trust in his grace for himself, and to pray and watch for its blessings upon the unconverted. Whatever obstacles stand in the way in either respect, nothing is too hard for the Lord. This impression dwelt on the apostles’ minds; Lo, I am with you always, inspired their souls with zeal. In the same spirit we may still aim to convert sinners to God, for he is able to cause the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. To this object we may ever look up and be encouraged. The keeping of our souls is in almighty hands, favoured with his protection, sin shall not have dominion over us, Satan shall not prevail against us, though we are as bruised reeds, God shall bring forth our judgment unto Victory.