Jude 1:24


I. THE PERSON TO WHOM PRAISE IS ASCRIBED. "Now unto him that is able to guard you from stumbling, and to set you before the presence of his glory without blemish in exceeding joy, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

1. It is God our Saviour presented under a double aspect.

(1) As he who alone can keep us from stumbling or falling. The allusion is appropriate to an Epistle so full of warnings and denunciations and exhortations, and which began with an address to saints as those "preserved for Christ Jesus." We stand by faith, and we can only stand strong "in the Lord, and in the power of his might." "He that hath begun a good work in us will perform it till the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

(2) As he who will present us in final glory.

(a) "Without blemish;" for the Church will then be "without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing."

(b) "In exceeding joy," where there is fullness of joy; for he "who is self-sufficient, all-sufficient, must needs be soul-sufficient."

2. The final glory comes through Jesus Christ. The salvation, in its beginning, progress, and end, is the Lord's.

II. THE PRAISE ASCRIBED TO GOD. "Be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, before all time, and now, and for evermore. Amen." These men who despised dominion, and spoke evil of dignities, are told that all dominion and glory belonged to God ages before they were born, as they do still in the ages of time, and will do for ever through eternity, Mark the threefold phrase for "eternity," as if to carry the threefold idea of everything out to the very end. - T.C.









Now unto Him that is able to keep you.
It is well to be called full often to adoring praise, and the specific statement of the reason for praise is helpful to fervour of gratitude. Our great danger is falling and faultiness. Our great safety is Divine ability and faithfulness, by which we are kept from stumbling so as to dishonour our Lord.

I. LET US ADORE HIM WHO CAN KEEP US FROM FALLING.

1. We need keeping from falling, in the sense of preservation from —

(1)Error of doctrine.

(2)Error of spirit: such as want of love, or want of discernment, or unbelief, or credulity, or fanaticism, or conceit.

(3)Outward sin. Alas, how low may the best fall!

(4)Neglect of duty: ignorance, idleness, want of thought.

(5)Backsliding.

2. None but the Lord can keep us from falling.

(1)No place guarantees security: the church, the closet, the communion-table — all are invaded by temptation.

(2)No rules and regulations will secure us from stumbling. Stereotyped habits may only conceal deadly sins.

(3)No experience can eradicate evil, or protect us from it.

3. The Lord can do it. He is "able to keep," and He is "the only wise God, our Saviour." His wisdom is part of His ability.

(1)By teaching us so that we fall not into sins by ignorance.

(2)By warning us: this may be done by our noting the falls of others, or by inward monitions, or by the Word.

(3)By providence, affliction, etc., which remove occasions of sinning.

(4)By a bitter sense of sin, which makes us dread it as a burnt child dreads the fire.

(5)By His Holy Spirit, renewing in us desires after holiness.

4. The Lord will do it. "The only God our Saviour." From final falls, and even from stumblings, His Divine power can and will keep us.

II. LET US ADORE HIM WHO WILL PRESENT US IN HIS COURTS FAULTLESS.

1. None can stand in those courts who are covered with fault.

2. None can deliver us from former guilt, or keep us from daily faultiness in the future, but the Saviour Himself.

3. He can do it as our Saviour.

4. He will do it.

III. LET US ADORE HIM WITH HIGHEST ASCRIPTIONS OF PRAISE.

1. Presenting our praise through Jesus, who is Himself our Lord.

2. Wishing Him glory, majesty, dominion and power.

3. Ascribing these to Him as to the past, for He is "before all time."

4. Ascribing them to Him "now."

5. Ascribing them to Him "for ever."

6. Adding to this adoration, and to the adoration of all His saints, our own fervent "Amen."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

That we may persevere, diligently and yet humbly, in the path of religious obedience, it is requisite that we look, with the feelings of dependence and trust, to Him from whose power and wisdom alone we can derive ability to persevere.

I. Then, RELIGIOUS PERSEVERANCE MAY BE SET FORTH UNDER A TWOFOLD VIEW, AS THE CONTINUING FREE FROM ALL SIN, AND ADVANCING TO THE PERFECTION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. "TO be kept from falling" denotes the one, and "to be presented faultless in the presence of the Divine glory with exceeding joy" intimates the other. "Falling," when used with reference to the Christian course, expresses in the most alarming sense of which it is susceptible, the sin of apostasy. It then describes the rejection of all the evidences which have been provided, both in the history of the gospel and in the experience of its efficacy, to satisfy us of its Divine origin. Apart from this extreme instance, however, there are degrees to be marked on the general subject, all of which are exceedingly dangerous. There may not be the bold and unqualified rejection of Christianity. There may, on the other hand, be the retaining of its name, as the religion which we profess, and in which we believe. And yet we have "fallen" from its principles, if we indulge in any sinful affection, or persist in any vicious habit. Religion is abandoned whenever vice begins. Now to be preserved from these — from the sins of the unbeliever, of the insincere, of the worldly-minded, and of the careless or lukewarm — to be preserved from all these is implied in our being "kept from falling." Separation from sin, however, is the prelude to advancement in the excellences of righteousness. Beginning at that point, the course of Christian perseverance is turned to the heavenly perfection. But it is not on earth that righteousness shall attain the destined height of its excellence. That world where no iniquity has entered, is in all these respects alone the scene of perfection. Not only is every corruption removed, but the inclination, yea, the remotest tendency to evil is taken away. This perfection of purity leads to the perfection of honour. The soul is introduced to the "presence of the Divine glory." From these views, how naturally does there follow the conception of perfect happiness! The purity which the "being presented faultless" describes, and the honour which an admission to the "presence of the Divine glory" implies, must be the forerunners and the accompaniments of "joy," yea, of "an exceeding joy." This is the end of the Christian course. This is the perfection in righteousness to which the earliest separation from sin was pointing.

II. Let us ask the question, ARE WE SUFFICIENT OF OURSELVES TO ACCOMPLISH THIS HIGH END? Have we the wisdom or the ability to "keep ourselves from falling," and to attain to the blamelessness of celestial purity? Does our experience give us any ground to trust in the ampleness of our natural resources for accomplishing such duties? What opportunity of improvement have we ever employed, or what power have we ever exercised, in such a manner as may encourage self-confidence? On the contrary, how many and how flagrant the instances which show us, that in the course prescribed we are irresolute, ready to falter, and prone, under the direction of corrupted guides, to forsake it!

III. Hence, feeling that we have not ability sufficient to secure our own perseverance, WE ARE PREPARED, HUMBLY AND GRATEFULLY TO RECEIVE THAT AID WHICH THE GOSPEL UNFOLDS TO US. God "is able." He made us. He knows therefore our frame. Every principle of our constitution he is ultimately acquainted with. He has all channels laid open, for gaining access to the most secret spring of action that is within us. He see the motives that will best affect us, and how and when these ought to be touched. He is prepared to act in all circumstances, and to suit his dispensations to every variety of state, and peculiarity of want. God "is able"; yea, in the strict and full meaning of the word, He "alone is able." But as power were unavailing for any good purpose without wisdom, the apostle reminds us that "God is" also "wise." Those arrangements which Divine power carries into effect, are the results of perfect wisdom. The best means are turned to the production of the best end. When we reflect on our condition in this world of guilt and suffering, when we think how every day, every new incident, every connection we form, introduces us into untried circumstances, the full effects of which upon our welfare we have no means of anticipating; shall we not see how great the privilege, amid this state of darkness and imbecility, to be allowed to lean for direction and assistance on Him with whom is the foresight of every evil! There are circumstances of trial, however, from which it is not expedient to deliver us. A new privilege therefore is suited to this new situation. The hour of trial comes; and with it the superintendence and the aid corresponding to the emergency. Therefore the hour of trial improves, in place of injuring us; — forms us to the exercise of greater power, rather than enfeebles us; — prepares us for new conquests instead of overcoming us. We axe "kept from falling"; and in being thus preserved, we receive the earnest pledge of "being at last presented faultless in the presence of the Divine glory with exceeding joy." Are we now kept from falling? Are we hereafter to be presented faultless? Unto Him who alone is able — unto Him who only is wise — belongs the praise of our present steadfastness, and shall belong the praise of our after perfection.

(W. Muir, D. D.)

I. ALL THE SAINTS ARE "KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD, THROUGH FAITH UNTO SALVATION."

II. THE SAINTS ARE, AT DEATH, PRESENTED BEFORE THE LORD IN NEVER-ENDING GLORY.

II. ALL THE SAINTS SHALL BE INTRODUCED TO THEIR GOD IN HEAVEN, IN A GLORIOUS STATE, HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH. They shall be presented "faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy."

1. The place, in which the saints find final repose, is heaven.

2. The character of the saints in heaven is faultless. We shall never fully understand the extent of the evil consequent upon the transgression of the first covenant, until we are completely delivered from its effects.

3. The enjoyment of the saints in heaven, is complete. They enter into the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

(A. McLeod, D. D.)

WE ARE IN DANGER OF FALLING. By "falling" he means sinning. The original word signifies stumbling, and may be applied to any false step we make in our Christian course, whatever its nature and termination. We are prone of ourselves to fall. What God said of His people of old, "they love to wander," He might say of us. And we are assailed continually from without. As though to make His old servants feel their danger, almost all the falls which God tells us of in His Word are those of long tried men. Noah falls after six hundred years' experience. Lot falls when an old man. And David, who passed so safely through the snares of youth, falls in mature age.

II. THE GREAT GOD OUR SAVIOUR IS ABLE TO KEEP US. Conceive of a vessel with its planks loose, its sails rent, and its pilot ignorant and half blind; and then place it among shoals and rocks, with a storm raging — there is a picture of the Christian's condition in the world. That wretched vessel, you would say, is a doomed one; it will inevitably be lost. But suppose you are told that there is an invisible Being watching over it and determined to preserve it; one who can turn it about just as He will, and do what He will with those stormy winds and foaming billows, make those waves roll as He pleases, or, if He pleases, not roll at all — what should you say then? "That vessel is safe." And what would you do? You would delight in looking at it amidst its perils, for you would delight in contemplating the power which is so wonderfully preserving it. So with the believer. "He shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand." God is magnifying His power through that man's weakness, and that man's dangers and temptations. Again let me say, we need high thoughts of God; high thoughts of His mercy to lead us at first into His ways — our sinfulness makes that necessary; and then high thoughts of His power to lead us cheerfully on in His ways — our many dangers render this needful.

III. THE LORD JESUS HAS HIGH DESIGNS CONCERNING US, WHICH HE IS ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH. We should have thought it a great thing to have been presented to Christ in the day of His humiliation; to have sat by His side with John, or at His feet with Mary; but He says here, "I will present you to Myself in the day of My glory. To do you honour, I will welcome you in all My splendour." And we are to be faultless before His glorious presence. A thing sometimes appears pure and white, but bring it into the daylight or put it down on the new-fallen snow, it appears so no longer. Not so here. We shall bear the daylight; our whiteness shall bear the snow. Think of that, when sin is tormenting you. How complete in the end will be your deliverance from it! Every fragment and trace of it will be gone. And yet further — Christ will do this "with exceeding joy." "He will give us joy," you will say, "as He does it. We shall shout for joy as He calls us to Himself." But this, I conceive, is not the apostle's meaning. He is not thinking of our joy, but of Christ's. Ours will be nothing to His.

IV. IN KEEPING HIS PEOPLE AND ACCOMPLISHING HIS GLORIOUS DESIGNS CONCERNING THEM, GOD MANIFESTS HIS WISDOM. "The only wise God." Some of us rarely think of God's wisdom as doing anything now to keep or save us. It planned the glorious scheme of our salvation, we think, and then retired, leaving mercy and grace to execute it. Or if we do carry our thoughts farther than God's mercy and grace, we take in perhaps only His faithfulness. But all the perfections of Jehovah are at work for us. Not one of them does He suffer to be unemployed. Our hope therefore ought to rest on all His attributes. It would be a stronger hope if it did so. Mercy must ever be its mainstay, but here are two supports placed under it quite unconnected with mercy — power and wisdom. And observe how beautifully they are coupled together. Power to keep us would be nothing without wisdom to direct it — it would not know how to help us; and wisdom would be nothing without power — it might see what was needed for us, but there it must stop, it could not accomplish it.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding Joy
I. PRESERVATION IMPLIES DANGER. We have no need to be reminded that God is able to keep us from falling, if we are surrounded by no peril. Although we have been called from on high, although we have received spiritual gifts, a new heart and a new motive to action, we must not expect that the work is accomplished, and that we may resign ourselves to the indolent and selfish enjoyment of privilege. We are in a state of probation, and are, therefore, of necessity, exposed to adverse influences, and to numberless enemies which war against the soul. Watchfulness must be exercised, and strength must be imparted, in order to keep us in the right way. Danger to the believer may arise from three sources: from the unfriendly interposition of evil spirits; from the traitorous suggestions of his own heart; and from the allurement, or the intimidation of the outside world. To whom, then, in our peril shall we look for help? Where dwells the mind which will succour us, and the generosity which will wield the weapons of our defence? Shall we ask among the ministering hosts who watch and adore before the throne, if haply some strong angel, kind in his heavenly strength, might undertake our cause? Nay, for he never fell; he knows nothing of the plague of a nature shrunken foully from its fair original; he knows nothing of the bitterness of sin. Our deliverer must have sympathy of condition, and, in some sort, of experience. Then shall we look among our fellows for a companion? Shall we go seeking among the ages for a hero who shall combine all qualifications of fitness — strength mightier than of Hercules, beauty more winsome than of Apollo, all the eloquence of the golden mouthed, all the honeyed philosophy of the Bee of Attica, all the research that is most scholarly, and all the piety that is devoutest, and shall we bid him do battle for us, and guard us through our every life-path with his tutelary ministry? Ah! the champion comes not at our call. The ages have not found him. Our champion must have power as well as sympathy, invisible and exhaustless resources of power. We have a triple enemy — the world, and the flesh, and the devil; and Christ is able to keep us from falling, because, in the mystery of His incarnate life, He met and overcame the fiercest opposition of them all. Then comes another question, a question which it is important for us to ask ourselves, because, perhaps, some of our hearts may be doubting. He is able to keep us from falling; but will He take the trouble? Well, a comforting expectation of this willingness to keep us from falling may be gathered from His general character, and from the dealings with which He has heretofore dealt with the "hapless sons of clay." That kind Master who was very tender to all His disciples, but who sent a special messenger to Peter about His resurrection, lest the poor bruised heart should be broken by the very semblance of unkindness — He is not likely to withhold His help or to give it upbraidingly. Thou mayest trust Him, timid one; He will not always chide! He knows thy flame, and remembers that thou art dust.

II. BUT THE TEXT GIVES US YET A STRONGER REASON OF ENCOURAGEMENT, BECAUSE IT PRESENTS A REASON: it satisfies our intellect as well as warms our heart. It presents a reason why Christ will thus keep us from falling. Think of it in your moments of bitterness; Christ's glory is involved in your preservation from destruction. Cleave to Him; He will not let you perish; He wants you; you are necessary to Him to swell His retinue in the great court-day of the universe, when He shall lay down the sceptre. He would like to have a grand pageant then. What! do you think the Captain of our salvation will be content with a drawn battle? Do you think that the numbers on either side shall be so nearly equal, that it will be a matter of doubt which has really gotten the victory? Not so: He shall conquer, and the universe shall see that He has conquered; for, at His side there shall be a multitude which no man can number. Nor do I imagine that this victory is to be gained by doubtful means. Some people tell us that as nearly half the human race die in infancy, the scale will be turned by these. Not so; not by stratagem, but by valour; in fair and open fight shall He save, and conquer His enemies. Christ has died, and He shall not die in vain, and an innumerable company risen to man's estate, tainted not only with hereditary but with personal transgression, and snatched in their manliness from the spoiler, shall stand with robes of purity and palms of triumph, and by Christ be presented spotless unto God, "Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory." I want you to anticipate this for yourselves. But even then many faults may cleave to you, the clouded brain, the erroneous judgment, the mourned infirmity, the faith overcast, the thousand ways in which the dull material cramps the nobler soul. But you are to be faultless then; not sinless only, but faultless; nay, get the great thought out in all its length, and breadth, and depth, and height — "Faultless before the presence of His glory." The light shines upon the holiest upon earth only as a revelation of impurity; the light shines upon the meanest in heaven only to enhance his perfection of beauty.

(W. M. Punshon, D. D.)

When Christ presenteth the elect He will present them "faultless," that is, both in respect of justification and sanctification. This was intended before the world was (Ephesians 1:4), but is not accomplished till then. Now we are humbled with many infirmities and sins (Colossians 1:22). The work is undertaken by Christ, and He will carry it on till it be complete.

1. The work must be begun here; the foundation is laid as soon as we are converted unto God (1 Corinthians 6:11).

2. This work increaseth daily more and more (1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24). We are not faultless; but Christ will not rest till we be faultless, He is sanctifying further and further; He will pursue the work close till it be done.

3. It is so carried on for the present that our justification and sanctification may help one another; the benefit of justification would be much lessened if our sanctification were complete, and our sanctification is carried on the more kindly because the benefit of justification needeth so often to be renewed and applied to us; if our inherent righteousness were more perfect, imputed righteousness would be less set by.

4. At the last day all is fully accomplished (Colossians 1:22). Well, then, let us wait upon God with encouragement, and press on to perfection upon these hopes.

(T. Manton.)

I. THE STRONG GRASP THAT IS ABLE TO HOLD US UP. "The only God." There is one in whom is strength, to whom is to be the praise, and on whom ought to be fastened all our confidence. And here is the blessing of a true religious trust, that it does not need to go wandering and seeking for many supports and stays, but can concentrate all confidence on the single arm which is able to sustain. Then, further, note that in this doxology the designation "Saviour" is applied to God Himself, teaching us that, though Christ be indeed eminently the Saviour, He is so in full harmony with the Father's will, and that in all the process of our redemption we are not to think of Him as more gracious, or tender, or full of saving love and power than the Father, whose will He executes, whose image He is. Then note, still further, that the words "from falling" might be more accurately rendered "from stumbling." It is much to keep us from falling; it is more to keep us from stumbling. Mark the emphasis of the language of my text. "He is able to keep you from falling." There is no absolute promise or assurance that He will, but there is the broad declaration of the ability. That is to say, something else is needed than the Divine power if I am to be kept from falling. And what is that else except my grasp of the power, my opening of my heart to its entrance, my clutching His hand with my hand? God is able, but that the possibility shall become an actuality with us, there is needed our faith.

II. THE GREAT END TO WHICH THIS UPHOLDING LEADS. "Faultless — before His presence — with exceeding joy." As to the first, it indicates moral purity. Here the nature may be one field of black, broken only by narrow and short streaks of contradictory light; but yonder all the foulness may be discharged from it, and sin lie behind us, an alien power that has nothing in us. And then, as the purity makes the enjoyment of His presence possible, so the purity and the presence make the third thing possible. "With exceeding joy." The joy comes from cleansing, from communion, from the leaving behind of weariness and struggles. Change and monotony, danger and fear, sin and fightings, partings and death, are all done with.

III. THE ETERNITY OF THE PRAISE THAT COMES FROM SUCH AN ISSUE. All His work is the making visible and the enshrining in act of that four-sided glory of His character. Glory and majesty, dominion and power, are shown in all that He has done. But this ascription of these to God in the present connection teaches us that, upon all the rest of the manifestations of these perfections, God sets the shining summit and topstone in this — that He takes men, being such as we are, and by slow education and patient inspiration, and wise providences and merciful forbearance, moulds and cleanses and quickens, and lifts at last to perfect purity, communion, and gladness. That is the greatest thing that God has ever done. And, says my text, if in the process of redemption God has especially magnified His own majestic nature, and done a mightier thing than when He flung flaming worlds like sparks off an anvil to revolve with music in the heavens, then the first duty of all Christian men is to offer to Him in the depths of their grateful hearts, and in words and deeds of self-surrendered and God-blessed lives, the praise which such a manifestation demands.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THAT NOTHING LOWER THAN THE INFINITE AND EXHAUSTLESS POWER OF THE REDEEMER, IS EQUAL TO OUR PRESERVATION IN THIS WORLD OF TEMPTATION AND SIN.

II. THAT THERE IS A CERTAIN ATTITUDE AND EXERCISE OF MIND WHICH MAY BE SAID TO BE INDISPENSABLE TO OUR INSURING THIS SUSTAINING AND PERSEVERING POWER.

III. THAT THE SAVIOUR HAVING PRESERVED US HERE BY THE EXERCISE OF HIS DIVINE POWER, WILL WITH PECULIAR JOY PRESENT US HEREAFTER TO HIS FATHER IN THE POSSESSION OF A SPOTLESS AND PERFECT NATURE.

IV. THAT OUR PRESERVATION HERE, AND OUR PRESENTATION HEREAFTER, BRINGING INTO VIEW THE HIGHEST MANIFESTATIONS OF THE DIVINE PERFECTIONS AND CONDUCT, WILL THUS LAY THE BASIS FOR THE MOST SUBLIME AND SERAPHIC ASCRIPTIONS OF PRAISE.

(R. Ferguson, LL. D.)

I. THE DANGER IMPLIED. When we consider the number, power, malice, and subtlety of his foes, it is wonderful that a Christian can expect a complete victory.

1. He has to wrestle.

2. He often has to walk in slippery places.

3. He is the subject of great weakness.

4. There are many obstacles in his path.

II. THE PRESERVATION OF WHICH THE BELIEVER IS THE SUBJECT.

1. The power of God is engaged to keep His saints.

2. The promises of God abound with sacred engagements to this end.

3. The merit of the Redeemer's work and the virtue of His intercession avail on this behalf.

4. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is an earnest of the inheritance.

5. Means of grace and dealings of Providence are subservient.

III. THE FINAL PRESENTATION.

1. The solemnity and grandeur of the occasion.

2. The glorious condition of each of its objects.

3. The sublime felicity of which they shall be the subjects.

4. The individual interest they shall have in these grand proceedings.

(Preacher's Portfolio.)

I can only counsel you, it is God must keep you.

(J. Trapp.)

Learn a parable of the draught-horse on a broken road; it is a parable my father taught me when I was little more than the height of his knee, and one that has served me in good stead since, as I warrant it will serve you. As the horse draws its load along the broken path, the driver walks by its side. When there is an ugly deep rut in the path, he gently turns the horse aside from it. When a large stone has fallen on the road, he removes it out of the way of the wheels. When there is a stiff bit of ascent to meet, he pats the horse and puts it to its mettle, but when the way is level and clear, he leaves the horse pretty much to its own devices. All that is useful — all that is kind — all that is helpful; but please to remember, it is the horse itself that has always got to draw the load! And it will never be any otherwise with you, as you go through this world. Parents, teachers, friends, wise counsellers may do much to guide you, may do much to help you over difficulties, or remove them out of your way, but you yourself will always have to draw the load; and if you do not qualify yourself to do that aright, then there is nothing outside yourself can help you.

(J. Reid Howett.)

Out of a sinful man to make a saint is more than to make a world out of nothing; and to keep sinful men from stumbling is more than to keep the stars in their courses. There is a free and rebellious will to be won and retained in the one case, whereas there is nothing but absolute and unresisting obedience in the other.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

A criminal, condemned by our law to die, can only be spared by the Queen empowering the Home Secretary to reprieve or pardon. Even then to remove the stain that must always rest upon that person's character is utterly beyond the power of them both. How different with Jesus. His power is unlimited. He not only is able to forgive sins, but He can cleanse away every trace of guilt, and present us faultless unto God.

(Hy. Thompson.)

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty
1. Praising God is a work very suitable to all saints.

2. After all exertions for obtaining any good, God must be acknowledged the Author of that good.

3. It is our duty to praise God for future blessings, for what we have in hope as well as for what we have in hand.

4. Spiritual blessings principally deserve our praises.

5. In our addresses to God we should have such apprehensions and use such expressions concerning Him as may most strengthen our faith.

6. Our speeches concerning Christ must be with highest honour and reverence.

7. Praise should conclude that work which prayer began.

8. The concluding thanksgivings which are affixed to writings are only to be given to God (Romans 16:27; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:21)

(W. Jenkyn, M. A.)

I. In what sense God may be said to be "the only wise God." For answer to this, we may take notice, that there are some perfections of God that are incommunicable to the creature, as His independency and eternity — these God only possesseth; but there are other perfections which are communicable — as knowledge, and wisdom, and goodness, and justice, and power, and the like; yet these the Scriptures do peculiarly attribute to God, that they belong to God in such a peculiar and Divine manner as doth shut out the creature from any claim to them, in that degree and perfection wherein God possesseth them. This being premised in general, God may be said to be only wise in two respects:

1. God only is originally and independently wise. He derives it from none, and all derive it from Him (Romans 11:33, 34).

2. He is eminently and transcendently so: and this follows from the former, because God is the fountain of wisdom, therefore it is most eminently in Him (Psalm 94:9, 10).

II. I shall prove that this perfection belongs to God.

1. From the dictates of natural reason. The contrary is an imperfection; therefore wisdom belongs to God. And the denial of this perfection to God would argue many other imperfections; it would be a universal blemish to the Divine nature, and would darken all His other perfections.

2. From Scripture, "He is wise in heart" (Job 9:4); "He is mighty in strength and wisdom" (Job 36:5); "Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever, for wisdom and might are His" (Daniel 2:20). Hither we may refer those texts which attribute wisdom to God in a singular and peculiar manner (Romans 16:27); and those which speak of God as the fountain of it, who communicates and bestows it upon His creatures (Daniel 2:21; James 1:5); and those texts which speak of the wisdom of God in the creation of the world (Psalm 104:24; Jeremiah 10:12); in the providence and government of the world (Daniel 2:30); and in many other places in the redemption of mankind. Therefore Christ is called "the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24), and the dispensation of the gospel, "the hidden wisdom of God, and the manifold wisdom of God" (Ephesians 3:10).If then God be only wise, the original and only fountain of it, from thence we learn —

1. To go to Him for it (James 1:2).

2. If God be only wise in such an eminent and transcendent degree, then let us be humble. There is no cause of boasting, seeing "we have nothing but what we have received." To pride ourselves in our own wisdom, is the way to have our folly made manifest.

3. We should labour to partake of the wisdom of God, so far as it is communicable. The greatest wisdom that we are capable of is to distinguish between good and evil; "to be wise to that which is good," as the apostle speaks (Romans 16:19); that is, to provide for the future in time, to make provision for eternity, to think of our latter end, to fear God and obey Him, to be pure and peaceable, to receive instruction, and to win souls.

4. If God be only wise, then put your trust and confidence in Him.

5. Let us adore the wisdom of God, and say with St. Paul (1 Timothy 1:17), "To the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen"; and with Daniel, "Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever, for wisdom and might are His." Having premised thus much for the clearing of these words, I shall briefly consider, first, God's glory and majesty, and then His dominion and sovereignty. First, God's glory and majesty. By majesty, we may understand the greatness, or eminent excellency of the Divine nature, which results from His perfections, and whereby the Divine nature is set and placed infinitely above all other beings; I say, the eminent excellency of the Divine nature, which results from His perfections, more especially from those great perfections, His goodness, and wisdom, and power, and holiness. And His glory is a manifestation of this excellency, and a just acknowledgment and due opinion of it. Hence it is, that in Scripture, God is said to be "glorious in power," and "glorious in holiness," and His goodness is called His glory; and here, in the text, glory and majesty are ascribed to Him upon the account of His wisdom and goodness.That these belong to God, I shall prove —

1. From the acknowledgment of natural light. The heathens did constantly ascribe greatness to God, and that as resulting chiefly from His goodness, as appears by their frequent conjunction of these two attributes, goodness and greatness.

2. From Scripture. It were endless to produce all those texts wherein greatness and glory are ascribed to God. I shall mention two or three: "The Lord is a great God" (Deuteronomy 10:17); He is called "the King of glory" (Psalm 24:10); He is said to be "clothed with majesty and honour" (Psalm 104:1). "The whole earth is full of His glory." Hither belong all those doxologies in the Old and New Testament wherein greatness, and glory, and majesty are ascribed to God.From all which we may learn —

1. What it is that makes a person great and glorious, and what is the way to majesty, viz., real worth and excellency, and particularly that kind of excellency which creatures are capable of in a very eminent degree, and that is goodness; this is that which advanceth a person, and gives him a pre-eminence above all others; this casts a lustre upon him, and makes his face to shine.

2. Let us give God the glory which is due to His name: "Ascribe ye greatness to our God" (Deuteronomy 32:3). "Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and power" (Psalm 29:1). The glory and "majesty of God call for our esteem and honour, our fear and reverence of Him. Thus we should glorify God in our spirits, by an inward esteem and reverence of His majesty.

3. We should take heed of robbing God of His glory, by giving it to any creature, by ascribing those titles, or that worship, to any creature, which is due to God alone. I come now to speak of the sovereignty and dominion of God: in which I shall show what we are to understand by the sovereignty and dominion of God. By these we mean the full and absolute right, and title, and authority which God hath to and over all His creatures, as His creatures, and made by Him. And this right results from the effects of that goodness, and power, and wisdom, whereby all things are and were made; from whence there doth accrue to God a sovereign right and title to all His creatures, and a full and absolute authority over them; that is, such a right and authority which doth not depend upon any superior, nor is subject and accountable to any, for anything that He does to any of His creatures.

I. Wherein it doth not consist.

1. Not in a right to gratify and delight Himself in the extreme misery of innocent and undeserving creatures: I say, not in a right; for the right that God hath in His creatures is founded in the benefits He hath conferred upon them, and the obligations they have to Him upon that account.

2. The sovereignty of God doth not consist in imposing laws upon His creatures which are impossible either to be understood or observed by them. For this would not only be contrary to the dignity of the Divine nature, but contradict the nature of a reasonable creature, which, in reason, cannot be obliged by any power to impossibilities.

3. The sovereignty of God doth not consist in a liberty to tempt men to evil, or by any inevitable decree to necessitate them to sin, or effectually to procure the sins of men, and to punish them for them. For as this would be contrary to the holiness, and justice, and goodness of God, so to the nature of a reasonable creature, who cannot be guilty or deserve punishment for what it cannot help.

II. Wherein the sovereignty of God doth consist.

1. In a right to dispose of, and deal with, His creatures in any way that doth not contradict the essential perfections of God, and the natural conditions of the creature.

2. In a right to impose what laws He pleaseth upon His creatures, whether natural and reasonable; or positive, of trial of obedience, provided they contradict not the nature of God, or of the creature.

3. In a right to inflict due and deserved punishment in a case of provocation.

4. In a right to afflict any of His creatures, so the evil He inflicts be short of the benefits He hath conferred on them. This is universally acknowledged by the heathens, that God is "the Lord and Sovereign of the world, and of all creatures," and this the Scripture doth everywhere attribute to Him, calling Him "Lord of all, King of kings, and Lord of lords"; to which we may refer all those doxologies in which power, and dominion, and authority are ascribed to God. I infer, first, negatively: We cannot, from the sovereignty of God, infer a right to do anything that is unsuitable to the perfection of His nature; and consequently, that we are to rest satisfied with such a notion of dominion and sovereignty in God as doth not plainly and directly contradict all the notions that we have of justice and goodness.Secondly, positively: We may infer from the sovereignty and dominion of God —

1. That we ought to own and acknowledge God for our lord and sovereign, who, by creating us, and giving us all that we have, did create to Himself a right in us.

2. That we owe to Him the utmost possibility of our love, to "love Him with all our heart, and soul, and strength"; because the souls that we have He gave us; and when we render these to Him, we do but give Him of His own.

3. We owe to Him all imaginable subjection, and observance, and obedience; and are with all diligence, to the utmost of our endeavours, to conform ourselves to His will, and to those laws which He hath imposed upon us.

4. In case of offence and disobedience, we are, without murmuring, to submit to what He shall inflict upon us, "to accept of the punishment of our iniquity," and "patiently to bear the indignation of the Lord," because we have sinned against Him, who is our Lord and Sovereign.

(Abp. Tillotson.)

1. Wisdom is ascribed to God. God's wisdom is a distinct notion from His knowledge. He doth not only know all things, but hath ordered and disposed them with much counsel.(1) Much of His wisdom is seen in creation. There His wisdom is discovered in the excellent order of all His works (Psalm 104:24; 1 Corinthians 1:21). Their mutual correspondence and fitness for the several ends and services for which they were appointed.(2) God's wisdom is much seen in the sustentation and governing of all things (Ephesians 1:11). There is nothing so confused but if you look upon it in its results and final tendency, there is beauty and order in it; the tumults of the world, the prosperity of the wicked, carnal men think them the disgrace and blemish of providence, whereas they are the ornament of it (Psalm 92:5).(3) In the methods of His grace; so I call all the transactions of God about the salvation of sinners from first to last; the rejection of the Jews, and calling of the Gentiles (Romans 11:33). The various dispensations used in the Church, before the law, under the law, and time of the gospel, these are called the "manifold wisdom of God" (Ephesians 3:10), the "hidden wisdom of God in a mystery," and "without controversy a great mystery" (1 Timothy 3:16). Again, the various acts of love whereby God subdueth sinners to Himself. Once more, the overruling of all events to further the eternal blessedness of the saints (Romans 8:28).

2. God is "only" wise (1 Timothy 1:17; Romans 16:27).(1) Originally and independently wise, not by communication from another, but of Himself.(2) God is essentially wise, and so only wise. The perfections of the creature are like the gilding which may be laid on upon vessels of wood or stone, the matter is one thing and the varnish or ornament is another; but the perfections of God are like a vessel made of pure beaten gold, where the matter and the splendour or adorning is the same.(3) God is infinitely wise, and so only wise. As the candle giveth no light when the sun shineth, our wisdom is bounded within narrow limits, and extendeth but to a few things, but God's to all things.

3. Christ Jesus our Saviour is worthy to be accounted the only wise God. Christ is wise as He is God, and as He is man.(1) As He is God, so is He called "the wisdom of the Father" (1 Corinthians 1:24), and represented to the ancient Church under this title; as Proverbs 1:20. Wisdom is there spoken of as a person, and the descriptions there used are proper to Jesus Christ.(2) As He is man, He received the habits of all created knowledge and wisdom, as all other graces, without measure (John 3.); and so it is said (Colossians 2:3), "In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Well, then, since Christ hath brought down wisdom to us in our own nature, let us be more studious to get it into our hearts. As Mediator, He is fitted to make us wise to salvation, and appointed by God to be wisdom to us (1 Corinthians 1:30).

4. Once more note, from the other title that is here given to Christ, "our Saviour." Those that have had any benefit by Christ will be very much affected with His praise. There is a double ground of exalting Christ — a sight of His excellency, and a sense of His benefits; and there is a double notion by which our honouring of Christ is set forth — praise and blessing. Praise hath respect to His excellency, and blessing to His benefits (Ephesians 1:3).

(T. Manton.)

1. Can we bestow anything upon God? or wish any real worth and excellency to be superadded to Him? I answer — No. The meaning is, that those which are in God already may be —(1) More sensibly manifested (Isaiah 64:2). It is a great satisfaction to God's people when anything of God is discovered; they value it above their own benefit and safety (Psalm 115:1.). They prefer the glory of mercy and truth before their deliverance.(2) More seriously and frequently acknowledged. It is a great pleasure to the saints to see others praise God (Psalm 107:8).(3) More deeply esteemed, that God may be more in request, more in the hearts of men and angels. Good men are loath to go to heaven alone, they would travel thither by troops and in company.

2. But let us more particularly take a view of this ascription; and so first what is ascribed, "glory, majesty, dominion, and power." "Glory" is excellency discovered with praise and approbation, and noteth that high honour and esteem that is due to Christ. "Majesty" implieth such greatness and excellency as maketh one honoured and preferred above all, therefore a style usually given to kings; but to none so due as unto Christ, who is "King of kings, and Lord of lords." "Dominion" implieth the sovereignty of Christ over all things, especially over the people whom He hath purchased with His blood. "Power" signifieth that all-sufficiency in God whereby He is able to do all things according to the good pleasure of His will.(1) A gracious heart hath such a sense of God's worth and perfection, that it would have all things that are honourable and glorious ascribed to Him; therefore are divers words here used. When we have done our utmost we come short; for God's name is "exalted above all blessing, and above all praise" (Nehemiah 9:5). Yet it is good to do as much as we can.(2) When we think of God, it is a relief to the soul to consider of His glory, majesty, dominion, and power; for this is that which the apostle would have to be manifested, acknowledged, and esteemed in God, as the ground of our respect to Him. It encourageth us in our service. We need not think shame of His service, to whom glory, and power, and majesty, and dominion belongeth. It hearteneth us against dangers. Surely the great and glorious God will bear us out in His work. It increaseth our awe and reverence. Shall we serve God in such slight fashion as we would not serve the governor? (Malachi 1:8). It inviteth our prayers. To whom should we go in our necessities but to Him that hath dominion over all things, and power to dispose of them for the glory of His majesty? It increaseth our dependence. God is glorious, and will maintain the honour of His name, and truth of His promises.

3. The next consideration in this ascription is the duration, "now and ever." Thence note: The saints have such large desires for God's glory, that they would have Him glorified everlastingly, and without ceasing. They desire the present age may not only glorify God, but the future. When they are dead and gone the Lord remaineth; and they would not have Him remain without honour. They do not take death so bitterly, if there be any hopes that God will have a people to praise Him. And their great comfort now is the expectation of a "great congregation," gathered from the four winds, united to Christ, presented to God, that they may remain with Him, and glorify Him for evermore. They prize their own salvation upon this ground, that they shall live for ever to glorify God for ever (Ephesians 3:21; Psalm 41:13, and Psalms 106:48). Now this they do, partly from their love to God's glory, which they prize above their own salvation (Romans 9:3); partly in thankfulness to God for His everlasting love to them.

4. The last thing in this inscription is the particle, "amen," which signifieth a hearty consent to God's promise, and a steady belief that it will continue to all generations. This word is often put at the end of prayers and doxologies in Scripture (Revelation 5:13, 14; Romans 16:1. 27; Philippians 4:20, etc.); and sometimes it is doubled for the greater vehemency (Psalm 51:13; Psalm 72:19; Psalm 89:52); and anciently it was audibly pronounced by the people in public assemblies at the conclusion of prayers (1 Corinthians 14:16), and since that telleth us that the amen was so heartily sounded out by the church, that it seemed like a crack of thunder.(1) Certainly it is good to conclude holy exercises with some vigour and warmth. Natural motion is swifter in the end and close; so should our spiritual affections be more vehement as we draw to a conclusion, and when the prayer is done, put out the efficacy of our faith and holy desires in a strong "Amen," that it may be to you according to the requests of your hearts, and you may come away from the throne of grace as those that have had some feeling of God's love in your consciences, and are persuaded that He will accept you, and do you good in Jesus Christ.(2) There should be an "amen" to our praises as well as to our prayers, that we may express our zeal and affection to God's glory as well as to our own profit. Our hallelujahs should sound as loud as our supplications, and we should as heartily consent to God's praises as to our own requests.(3) In desiring the glory of God to all ages, we should express both our faith and love — faith in determining that it shall be, and love in desiring that it may be so with all our hearts. Both are implied in the word "amen"; it will be so whatever changes happen in the world. God will be glorious. The scene is often shifted, and furnished with new actors, but still God hath those that praise Him, and will have to all eternity. Well, then, let your faith subscribe, and put to its seal, "To the glory of God in Christ"; and let earnest love interpose, "Lord, let it be so; yea, Lord, let it be so." Heartily desire it, and with the whole strength of your souls; set to your seals without fear, it is a request that cannot miscarry, and follow it with your hearty acclamations.

(T. Manton.).

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