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over them into whose hands he was resolved to yield himself, by restraining them till his hour was come, and by making them all fall to the ground at his name. And his power over sun, and heaven, and earth by the darkening of the sun, and the trembling of the earth, and the rending of the rocks, and of the veil of the temple; Matt. xxvii. 45. 51. And his power over the dead, by the rising of the bodies of many; Matt. xxvii. 52. And his power over the saints in heaven, by the attendance of Moses and Elias; and his power to forgive sins, by taking away the penal maladies ; and his power to change hearts, and save souls, by causing his disciples to leave all and follow him at a word ; and Zaccheus to receive him, and believe; and the thief on the cross to be converted, and to enter that day into paradise.
8. And his own resurrection is an undoubted attestation of Divine omnipotency. If God gave him such a victory over death, and raised him to life when men had killed him, and rolled a stone upon his sepulchre, and sealed and guarded it, there needeth no further evidence of the of God impressing and attesting the Christian religion, than that which ascertaineth to us the truth of Christ's resurrection. For he was declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead; Rom. i. 4.
9. And his bodily appearance to his congregated disciples when the doors were shut; his miracle at their fishing, his walking on the sea, his vanishing out of their sight (Luke xxiv.) when he had discoursed with the two disciples, his opening their hearts to understand his word, &c. do all shew this part of God's image on our religion, even his power.
10. And so doth his bodily ascending into heaven before the face of his disciples ; Acts i. 11. But especially the sending down the Holy Ghost
upon bis disciples according as he promised : to cause them that were before so low in knowledge, to be suddenly inspired with languages, and with the full understanding of his own will, and with unanimity and concord herein; this made his disciples the living monuments and effects of his own omnipotency; Acts ii.
12. And accordingly all the miracles which they did by this power, recorded partly in the Acts of the Apostles (or
rather, the Acts of Paul, by Luke who was his companion ;) which you may there read (and no doubt but other apostles in their measures did the like as Paul, though they are not recorded; for they had all the same promise and spirit). This is another impression of power.
13. Whereto must be added the great and wonderful gifts of communicating the same spirit (or doing that upon which God would give it) to those converted believers on whom they laid their hands (which Simon Magus would fain have bought with money; Acts viii.). To enable them to speak with tongues, to heal diseases, to prophesy, &c. as they themselves had done, which is a great attestation of omnipotency.
14. And the lamentable destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, foretold by Christ, was an attestation of God's power in the revenge or punishment of their unbelief, and putting Christ to death.
15. And so was the great fortitude and constancy of believers, who underwent all persecutions so joyfully as they did for the sake of Christ; which was the effect of the corroborating power of the Almighty.
16. And so was the power which the apostles had to execute present judgments upon the enemies of the Gospel, (as Elimas and Simon Magus), and on the abusers of religion (as Ananias and Saphira), and on many whom they excommunicated and delivered up to satan.
17. The same evidence is found in Christ's legislation, as an universal sovereign making laws for heart and life, for all the world : taking down the laws of the Jewish polity and ceremonies, which God by Moses had for a time set up; commanding his ministers to proclaim bis laws to all the world, and princes and people to obey them; and by these laws, conferring on believers no less than forgiveness and salvation, and binding over the impenitent to everlasting punishment.
18. But the great and continued impress of God's power, is that which together with his wisdom and love, is made and shewed in the conversion of men's souls to God by Christ. You may here first consider the numbers which were suddenly converted by the preaching of the apostles at the first. And in how little time there were churches planted abroad the world : and then, how the Roman empire was brought
in, and subdued to Christ, and crowns and sceptres resigned to him; and all this according to his own prediction, that when he was lifted up, he would draw all men to him; and according to the predictions of his prophets. But that which I would especially open is, the power which is manifested in the work of the Spirit on the souls of men, both then and to this day.
Hitherto what I have mentioned belonging to the Scripture itself, is to be taken as part of our religion objectively considered. But that which followeth is the effect of that, even our religion subjectively considered. To observe how God maketh men believers, and by believing sanctifieth their hearts and lives, is a great motive to further our own believing. Consider the work, 1. As it is in itself. 2. As it is opposed by all its enemies, and you may see that it is the work of God.
1. As the goodness, so also the greatness of it, is God's own image. It is the raising up of our stupid faculties to be lively and active to those holy uses, to which they were become as dead by sin. To cause in an unlearned person, a firmer and more distinct belief of the unseen world, than the most learned philosophers can attain to by all their natural contemplations : to bring up a soul to place its happiness on things so high and far from sense! To cause him who naturally is imprisoned in selfishness, to deny himself, and devote himself entirely to God; to love him, to trust him, and to live to him! To raise an earthly mind to heaven, that our business and hope may be daily there! To overcome our pride and sensuality, and bring our senses in subjection unto reason, and to keep a holy government in our thoughts, and over our passions, words and deeds: and to live in continual preparation for death, as the only time of our true felicity : and to suffer any loss or pain for the safe accomplishment of this! All this is the work of the power of God.
2. Which will the more appear when we consider, what is done against it within us and without us; what privative and positive averseness we have to it, till God do send down that life, and light, and love into our souls, which is indeed his image! How violently our fleshly sense and appetite strive against the restraints of God, and would hurry us contrary to the motions of grace! How importunately Satan
joineth with his suggestions! What baits the world doth still set before us, to divert us, and pervert us! And how many instruments of its flattery, or its cruelty are still at work, to stop us, or to turn us back; to invite our affections down to earth, and ensnare them to some deluding vanity, or to distract us in our heavenly design, and to affright or discourage us from the holy way.
And if we think this an easy work, because it is likewise reasonable, do but observe how hardly it goeth on, till the power of God by grace accomplish it! What a deal of pains may the best and wisest parents take with a graceless child, and all in vain! What labours the worthiest ministers lose on graceless people; and how blind, and dead, and senseless a thing the graceless heart is to any thing that is holy, even when reason itself cannot gainsay it! And God is pleased oftimes to weary out parents, and masters, and ministers, with such unteachable and stony hearts, to make them know what naturally they are themselves, to bring them to the more lively acknowledgment of the power which is necessary to renew and save a soul. But having spoken at large of this in the forementioned Treatise, I shall take up with these brief intimations.
19. And the preservation of that grace in the soul which is once given us, is also an effect of the power of God. Our strength is in the Lord, and in the power of his might; Ephes. vi. 10. It is our Lord himself who is the Lord of Life, and whose priesthood was made after the power of an endless life (Heb. vii. 16.); who giveth us the Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind; 2 Tim. i. 7. (or of received wisdom, for 'owopoviouos' is sound understanding received by instruction). And this text expresseth the three parts of God's image in the new creature, ' tveŪua dwvánews, και αγάπης και σωφρονισμο.' And as power is given us with love and wisdom; so power with love and wisdom do give it us; and power also must preserve it. ;
We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation;" 1 Pet. i. 5. “ Acccording to the power of God; who hath saved us ;" 2 Tim. i. 8. The Gospel is the power of God (that is, the
, instrument of his power) to our salvation; Rom. i. 16. So 1 Cor. i. 18. “To us that are saved it is the power of God;" because Christ whom it revealeth, is the “power and wisdom of God;" ver. 24. And thus our faith standeth in the
power of God; 1 Cor. ii. 5. 2 Cor. vi. 7. And the king
5 dom of God in us doth consist in power ; 1 Cor. iv 20. The mind of man is very mutable; and he that is possessed once with the desires of the things spiritual and eternal, would quickly lose those desires, and turn to present things again, (which are still before him, while higher things are beyond our sense) if the power and activity of the divine life did not preserve the spark which is kindled in us. Though the doctrine of perseverance be controverted in the Christian church, yet experience assureth us of that which all parties are agreed in. Some hold that all true Christians persevere; and some hold that all confirmed Christians persevere (that is, those who come to a strong degree of grace); but those that think otherwise do yet all grant, that if any fall away, it is comparatively but a very few of those that are sincere. When none would persevere. if Omnipotency did not preserve them.
20. Lastly, the power of God also doth consequently own the Christian religion, by the preservation of the church, in this malicious and opposing world (as well as by the preservation of grace in the soul), which will be the more apparent if you observe, 1. That the number of true Christians is still very small in comparison of the wicked. 2. That all wicked men are naturally (by the corruption of nature) their enemies; because the precepts and practice of Christianity are utterly against their carnal minds and interests. 3. That the doctrine and practice of Christianity is still galling them, and exciting and sublimating this enmity into rage: and God doth by persecutions ordinarily tell us to our smart, that all this is true. 4. That all carnal men are exceeding hardly moved from their own way. 5. That the government of the earth is commonly in their hand, because of their numbers, and their wealth. For it is commonly the rich that rule ; and the rich are usually bad ; so that the godly Christians are in their power. 6. That all the hypocrites that are among ourselves, have the same sinful nature and enmity against holiness, and are usually as bitter against the power and practice of their own profession, as open infidels are. 7. That Christianity is not a fruit of nature; Non nati sed facti sumus Christiani ;' said Tertullian. And therefore if God's power preserved not religion, the degenerating of the Christian's children from their