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Omnipotence essential to Deity.
GENESIS xvii. 1.
I am the almighty God.
HESE words, with others in their connection, are a sort of preface to one of the grand provisions of that gracious covenant, which God was pleased to establish be tween himself and Abraham his friend, who is called the father of the faithful. “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the almighty God; walk before me and be thou perfect." This is introductory to the institution of circumcision for himself and his seed, as a token of that covenant, which includes all the promises that are in and by Christ. To solemnize the mind of the patriarch, to impress him with the imporţance and validity of the covenant transac
tion, which brought him near to God, and to prepare him for an implicit and full reliance. on the power, that had condescended to be come obligated to him, Jehovah calls his attention to the dignity and rank of the being, from whom he was receiving such favoura ble notices and expressions of regard: As if he had said, you have been brought near, in covenant, to one, from whom you have received promises of the highest import, which are meant to entail the richest blessings upon yourself individually, upon your posterity, or seed, and, in you, upon all the nations of the earth. Have you considered who it is, that pledges himself for the accomplishment of all the good, which is treasured up in the above promises? and by how great authority you are required, on your part, to be obedient? Is it a frail man, or one of the impotent gods of Chaldea, that has bound himself to you, to pour choice blessings upon your head,and to cause you to be a blessing? No it is one infinitely greater than any of these; it is the almighty God. "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save." It was of no small importance to Abraham, to have some just idea of the perfections and character of that being, on whom he was to depend for the fulfilment of the terms of the covenant, which was to be his final inheritance, and to whom, on his part, he consented to yield unreserved subjection. With him it must have been a most significant and interesting question. Is
the God whom I serve, and in whom all my hopes centre, able to execute all that he has promised, to make me as great and happy as his own voluntary assurances imply? Is he able to give me security and quiet in the land of my pilgrimage, and to protect me from the insults of those, on whose territory I am called to abide, and among whom I sojourn, not as a citizen, but as a stranger? And, moreover, will he be able to put me, and all comprised within the provisions of his cove nant, into possession of all the beatitude and glory, which is promised, whether of the life that now is, or of that which is to come? Without some solid satisfaction upon the subject of such queries, Abraham could not have settled down upon the promises of God, however gracious and condescending the terms, in which they were expressed, and calmly waited for the result of his faith. He must have had such a persuasion as the apostle to the Romans says he had, that what God had promised he was able also to perform. That he might have this ground of confidence, and might have a sufficient induce ment to embark with animation and vigour in the cause of godliness, the Deity, when proposing to him subject matter of faith and hope, promises something to authorize and support it. "I am the almighty God." In your relation to me you ought, therefore, to be perfect; to be free from every possible blemish in your temper and carriage; and may, furthermore, safely confide in the cer
tain fulfilment of all my promises. not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Since I, who have all power, am your friend, you need no other defence, or safeguard from evil. Confide in me, and nothing shall harm you. Hence we see what abundant use of his own attribute of power Jehovah makes for an inducement to creatures to put confidence in him. If he were wanting in power, his being never so perfect in all his other attributes would not entitle him to be trusted, so entirely and unreservedly, as is necessary to the uninterrupted peace and tranquility of the mind. A man may boast of superior ingenuity in planning for himself, or others; yet if he wants abilities to execute, his talent at conceiving plans, however brilliant or distinguished it may appear, will be of no account. If a plan cannot go into practice, the least we can say of it is, that it might as well not have been projected. To what purpose would it be, that God has benevolent counsels in his heart; that he prefers good to evil that he is not satisfied with any thing short of the best interest and most perfect glory of the great system of being, taken together; if it could be supposed, that his power was less than his benevolence, or that he could not do the good that he would? True it is, we admire a person of an excellent spirit, whether he be in circumstances to do much good or little. We esteem the goodness of his heart, independently of the idea of his
being able to act it out in outward good deeds, or his having it in his power to make others happy. The disposition itself is lovely, whether or not it has a chance to shed its benign influence upon others. In like manner, had we evidence of the goodness of God, and not of his power, we should have ground of complacency, but not of confidence, in him. We should have reason to love and honour him for his benignity; but could not lean upon him as a benefactor and helpSuch a God could not be consistently sought to for the favours, which creatures need at the hand of the great Supreme. To be thoroughly furnished to the works of universal government; or to be able, in every thing, and upon all occasions, to do right; the being, who has supreme authority, and holds the jurisdiction of all worlds, must be "the almighty God." His power must be sufficient to cause any effect whatever, which is needed to render the system perfect, or, in other words, to bring glory to God, in the highest possible degree. Upon supposi tion of the contrary, it is easy to see, that universal and unbounded confidence would not be due to God; and consequently, as moral governor, he would be justly exposed to contempt.
I suppose we shall not find any, professing to believe in the existence of one God, and at the same time denying his power to be infinite. His omnipotence is so often attested, in word and deed, that all will unite in