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First Published 1659
[see original text for extensive footnotes]


And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

1. The second part of the article [Note: for the first part, He ascended into heaven, click here] containeth two particulars: the session of the Son, and the description of the Father; the first showeth that Christ upon his ascension is set down at the right hand of God; the second assureth us that the God, at whose right hand Christ is set down is the Father Almighty. 

2. For the explication of Christ’s session three things will be necessary: first, to prove that the promised Messias was to sit at the right hand of God; secondly, to show that our Jesus, whom we believe to be the true Messias, is set down at the right hand of God; thirdly, to find what is the importance of that phrase, and in what propriety of expression it belongs to Christ. 

3. That the promised Messias was to sit at the right hand of God, was both pretypified and foretold.  Joseph, who was betrayed and sold by his brethren, was an express type of Christ, and though in many things he represented the Messias, yet in none more than in this, that being taken out of the prison he was exalted to the supreme power of Egypt.  For thus Pharaoh spake to Joseph, “Thou shalt be over my house, and according to thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.  And Pharaoh took off the ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had, and they cried before him, bow the knee; and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt” [Gen. 12:40, 42, 43].  Thus Joseph had the execution of all the regal power committed unto him, all edicts and commands were given out by him, the managing of all affairs was through his hands, only the authority by which he moved remained in Pharaoh still.  This was a clear representation of the Son of man, who by his sitting on the right hand of God obtained power to rule and govern all things both in heaven and earth (especially as the ruler of his house, that is, the church), with express command that all things, both in heaven and earth, and under the earth, should bow down before him; but all this in the name of the Father, to whom the throne is still reserved, in whom the original authority still remains.  And thus the session of the Messias was pretypified. 

4. The same was also expressly foretold not only in the sense, but in the phrase.  “The Lord said unto my Lord,” saith the prophet David, “Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”  The Jews have endeavoured to avoid this prophecy, but with no success: some make the person to whom God speaks to be Ezechias, some Abraham, some Zorobabel, others David, others the people of Israel; and because the prophecy cannot belong to him who made the Psalm, therefore they which attribute the prediction to Abraham, tell us the Psalm was penned by his steward Eliezer: they which expound it David, say that one of his musicians was author of it. 

But first it is most certain that David was the penman of this Psalm; the title speaks as much, which is, “A Psalm of David”: from whence it followeth that the prediction did not belong to him, because it was spoken to his Lord.  Nor could it indeed belong to any of the rest which the Jews imagine, because neither Abraham, nor Ezechias, nor Zorobabel, could be the Lord of David, much less the people of Israel (to whom some of the Jews referred it), who were not the lords, but the subjects of that David.  Beside, he which is said to sit at the right hand of God is also said to be a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek; but neither Abraham, nor Ezechias, nor any which the Jews have mentioned, was ever any priest of God.  Again, our Saviour urged this scripture against the Pharisees, “Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? they say unto him, The Son of David.  He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, the Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool?  If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?  And no man was able to answer him a word” [Matt. 22:42-46].  From whence it is evident that the Jews of old, even the Pharisees, the most accurate and skilful amongst them, did interpret the Psalm of the Messias; for if they had conceived the prophecy belonged either to Abraham, or David, or any of the rest since mentioned by the Jews, they might very well, and questionless would have answered our Saviour, and of divers rabbis since his death, that this prediction did concern the kingdom of Christ.  And thus the session of the Messias at the right hand of God was not only represented typically, but foretold prophetically; which is our first consideration. 

5.  Secondly, we affirm that our Jesus, whom we worship as the true Messias, according unto that particular prediction, when he ascended up on high, did sit down at the right hand of God.  His ascension was the way to his session, and his session the end of his ascension; as the evangelist expresseth it, “He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God;” [Mark 16:19] or as the apostle, God “raised Christ from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” [Eph. 1:20].  There could be no such session without an ascension; and “David is not ascended into the heavens, but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.”  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, let all the blind and willful Jews be convinced of this truth, that God hath not set at his own right hand neither Abraham nor David, neither Ezechias nor Zorobabel, but hath “made that same Jesus whom they have crucified both Lord and Christ” [Acts 2:34-36]. 

6. This was an honour never given, never promised to any man but the Messias: the glorious spirits stand about the throne of God, but never any of them set down at the right hand of God. For “to which of his angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” [Heb. 1:13]  But Christ was so assured of this honour, that before the council of the chief priests and the elders of the people, when he foresaw his death contrived and his cross prepared, even then he expressed the confidence of his expectation, saying, “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God” [Luke 22:69]  And thus our Jesus, whom we worship as the true promised “Messias, is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God” [1 Peter 3:22].  Which was our second consideration. 

7.  Our next inquiry is, what may be the utmost importance of that phrase, and how it is applicable to Christ.  The phrase consists of two parts, and both to be taken metaphorically.  First, therefore, we consider what is the right hand of God, in the language of scriptures; secondly, what it is to sit down at that right hand.  God being a Spirit, can have no material or corporeal parts; and consequently as he hath no body, so in a proper sense can he have no hands at all [Augustine De Fide et Symb. cap. 7.]:  but because God is pleased to descend to our capacity, and not only to speak by the mouths of men, but also, after the manner of men, he expresseth that which is in him by some analogy with that which belongs to us.  The hands of man are those organical parts which are most active, and executive of our power [Ambrose Hexaem. lib. vi. cap. 9]; by those the strength of our body is expressed, and most of our natural and artificial actions are performed by them.  From whence the power of God, and the exertion or execution of that power, is signified by the hand of God.  Moreover being by a general custom of the world the right hand is more used than the left, and by that general use acquireth a greater firmitude and strength, therefore the right hand of God signifieth the exceeding great and infinite power of God. 

Again, because the most honourable place amongst men is the right hand (as when Bathsheba went unto King Solomon, he sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king’s mother and she sat on his right hand [1Kings 2:19]), therefore the right hand of God signifies the glorious majesty of God. 

Thirdly, because the gifts of men are given and received by the hands of men, and every perfect gift comes from the Father of lights [James 1:17], therefore the right hand of God is the place of celestial happiness and perfect felicity; according to that of the psalmist, “In thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand pleasures for evermore” [Psalm 16:11]. 

8.  Now as to the first acception of the right hand of God, Christ is said to sit down at the right hand of the Father in regard of that absolute power and dominion which he hath obtained in heaven; from whence it is expressly said, “Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power” [Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69]. 

As to the second acception, Christ is said to sit on the right hand of God in regard of that honour, glory, and majesty which he hath obtained there [Max. Taurin. Homil. i. De Pentecoste]; wherefore it is said, “When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high [Heb. 1:3]: and again, “We have an High-priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens” [Heb. 8:1]. 

In reference to the third acception Christ is said to sit on the right hand of God, because now after all the labours and sorrows of this world, after his stripes and buffetings, after a painful and shameful death, he resteth above in unspeakable joy and everlasting felicity [Augustine In Psalmum 137]. 

9.  As for the other part of the phrase, that is, his session, we must not look upon it as determining any posture of his body in the heavens, correspondent to the inclination and curvation of our limbs.  For we read in the scriptures a more general term which signifies only his being in heaven, without any expression of the particular manner of his presence.  So St. Paul, “Who is even at the right hand of God” [Rom 8:34]; and St. Peter, “Who is gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God” [1Peter 3:22].  Beside, we find him expressed in another position than that of session: for “Stephen looking stedfastly into heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God; and said, Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” [Acts 7:55, 56].  He appeared standing unto Stephen, whom we express sitting in our CREED; but this is rather a difference of the occasion than a diversity of position.  He appeared standing to Stephen, as ready to assist him, as ready to plead for him, as ready to receive him [Chrysos. Homil. 18 in Act. Apost.; August. Quaest. in Nov. Test. 88; Greg. Magn. Homil. 29 in Evang.; Maximus. Taurinensis Hom. i. de pentecoste]; and he is oftener expressed sitting, not for any positional variation, but for the variety of his effect and operation. 

10.  This phrase then to sit, prescinding from the corporal posture of session, may signify no more than habitation, possession, permansion, and continuance; as the same word in the Hebrew and Greek languages often signifies.  And thus our Saviour is set down at the right hand of God in heaven, because he which dwelt with us before on earth is now ascended up into heaven, and hath taken his mansion or habitation there; and so hath he seated himself, and dwelleth in the highest  heavens [Augst. De. Symb. ad Catechum. lib. i. cap. 4]. 

Again, the notion of sitting implieth rest, quietness, and indisturbance; according to that promise in the prophet, “They shall sit every man under his fig-tree, and none shall make them afraid” [Micah 4:4].  So Christ is ascended into heaven, where resting from all pains and sorrows, he is seated free from all disturbance and opposition; God having placed him at his right hand, until he hath made his enemies his footstool. 

Thirdly, this sitting implieth yet more than quietness or continuance, even dominion, sovereignty, and majesty [Hieron. Com. ad Eph. i. 20]; as when Solomon sat in the throne of his father, he reigned over Israel after the death of his father.  And thus “Christ is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” [Heb. 12:2].  And St. Paul did well interpret those words of the prophet, “Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” [Psalm 110:1], saying, “He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet” [1 Cor. 15:25]. 

11.  Fourthly, this sitting doth yet more properly and particularly imply the right of judicature, and so especially expresseth, “a king that sitteth in the throne of judgement” [Prov. 20:8]; as it is written, “In mercy shall the throne be established, and he shall sit upon it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking judgement, and hasting righteousness” [Isa. 16:5].  And so Christ sitting at the right hand of God is manifested and declared to be the great Judge of the quick and the dead [August De Fide et Symb. cap. 7; De Fide ad Catehum liv. iii. cap. 7].  Thus to sit doth not signify any peculiar inclination or flexion, any determinate location or position of the body, but to be in heaven with permanence of habitation, happiness of condition, regular and judiciary power; as in other authors such significations are usual [e.g. Virgil Aeneid. ix. 3; vii. 187]. 

12.  The importance of the language being thus far improved, at last we find the substance of the doctrine, which is, that sitting at the right hand of God was our Mediator’s solemn entry upon his regal office, as to the execution of that full dominion which was due unto him. For “worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory and blessing” [Rev. 5:12].  Wherefore Christ after his death and resurrection saith, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” [Matt. 28:18].  For “because he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, therefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth” {Phil. 2:8-10].  And this obedience and submission was and is due unto him, because God “raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principalities and powers, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” [Eph. 1:20-22]. 

13.  There was an express promise made by God to David, “Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee, thy throne shall be established for ever” [Sam. 7:16].  This promise strictly and literally taken was but conditional; and the condition of the promise is elsewhere expressed, “Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.  If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children also shall sit upon thy throne for evermore” [Ps. 132:11, 12].  Notwithstanding this promise this kingdom of David was intercepted, nor was his family continued in the throne: part of the kingdom was first rent from his posterity, next the regality itself; and when it was restored, translated to another family: and yet we cannot say the promise was not made good, but only ceased in the obligation of a promise, because the condition was not performed.  The posterity of David did not keep the covenant and testimony of their God, and therefore the throne of David was not by an uninterrupted lineal succession established to perpetuity. 

But yet in a larger and better sense, after these intercisions, the throne of David was continued.  When they had sinned and lost their right unto the crown, the kingdom was to be given unto him who never sinned, and consequently could never lose it; and he being of the seed of David, in him the throne of David was without interception or succession continued.  Of him did the angel Gabriel speak at his conception, “The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end” [Luke 1:32, 33].  Thus the throne of Christ is called the throne of David, because it was promised unto David, and because the kingdom of David was a type, resemblance, and representation of it; insomuch that Christ himself in respect of this kingdom is often called David [Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 37:24, 25; Hosea 3:5], as particularly in that promise, “I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them” Ezek. 34:23, 24]. 

Now as David was not only first designed, but also anointed king over Israel, and yet had no possession of the crown [1 Sam. 16:13]; seven years he continued anointed by Samuel, and had no share in the dominion; seven years after he continued anointed in Hebron only king over the tribe of Judah [2 Sam. 2:4]; at last he was received by all the tribes, and so obtained full and absolute regal power over all Israel, and seated himself in the royal city of Jerusalem: so Christ was born King of the Jews, and the conjunction of his human nature with his divine in the union of his person was a sufficient unction to his regal office, yet as the Son of man he exercised no such dominion, professing that his “kingdom was not of this world” [John 18:36]; but after he rose from the dead, then as it were in Hebron with his own tribe he tells the apostles, “All power is given unto him” [Matt. 28:18], and by virtue thereof gives them injunctions; and at his ascension he enters into the Jerusalem above, and there sits down at the right hand of the throne of God, and so makes a solemn entry upon the full and entire dominion over all things; then could St. Peter say, “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ” [Acts 2:36]. 

14.  The Immediate effect of his regal power, the proper execution of this office, is the subduing of all his enemies; for he is “set down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” [Heb. 10:12, 13].  This was the ancient custom of the Oriental conquerors, to tread upon the necks of their subdued enemies; as when Joshua had the five kings as his prisoners, he “said unto the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of them” [Josh 10:24].  Thus to signify the absolute and total conquest of Christ, and the dreadful majesty of his throne, all his enemies are supposed to lie down before him, and he to set his feet upon them. 

The enemies of Christ are of two kinds, either temporal or spiritual; the temporal enemies I call such as visibly and actually oppose him, and his apostles, and all those which profess to believe in his name.  Such especially and principally were the Jews, who rejected, persecuted, and crucified him; who after his resurrection scourged, stoned, and despitefully used his disciples; who tried all ways and means imaginable to hinder the propagation and dishonour the profession of Christianity.  A part of his regal office was to subdue these enemies, and he sat down on the right hand of God that they might be made his footstool; which they suddenly were according to his prediction, “There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” [Matt. 16:28].  For within a few years the temple, the city, and the whole polity of the Jews, were destroyed for ever in a revenging manner by the hands of the Romans, which they made use of to crucify the Lord of life.  The Romans themselves were the next enemies, who first complied with the Jews in Christ’s crucifixion, and after in defence of their heathen deities endeavoured the extirpation of Christianity by successive persecutions.  These were next to be made the footstool of the King of Kings, and so they were when Rome, the regnant city, the head of that vast empire, was taken and sacked; when the Christians were preserved and the heathens perished; when the worship of all their idols ceased, and the whole Roman Empire marched under the banner of Christianity.  In the same manner all those persons and nations whatsoever which openly oppose and persecute the name of Christ, are enemies unto this King, to be in due time subdued under him, and when he calleth to be slain. 

The spiritual enemies of this King are of another nature; such as by an invisible way make opposition to Christ’s dominion, as sin, Satan, death.  Every one of these hath a kingdom of its own, set up and opposed to the kingdom of Christ.  The apostle hath taught us that “sin hath reigned unto death” [Rom. 5:21]; and hath commanded us not to “let it reign in our mortal bodies, that we should obey it in the lusts thereof” [Rom. 6:12].  There is, therefore, a dominion and kingdom of sin set up against the throne of the immaculate Lamb.  Satan would have been like the most high, and being cast down from heaven, hath erected his throne below; he is “the prince of this world” [John 12:31]; “the spirit which now worketh in the children of disobedience is the prince of the power of the air” [Eph 2:2]; and thus “the rulers of the darkness of this world” [Eph. 6:12] oppose themselves to the true light of the world [John 1:9].  Death also hath its dominion, and as the apostle speaks, “reigneth from Adam to Moses”; even “by one offence death reigneth by one” [Rom. 5:14, 17], and so set up a ruling and a regal power against the “Prince of life” [Acts 3:15]. 

15. For the destruction of these powers was Christ exalted to the right hand of God, and by his regal office doth he subdue and destroy them all. And yet this destruction is not so universal, but that sin, Satan, and death shall still continue.  It is true he shall “put down all rule and authority and power” [1 Cor. 15:24]; but this amounts not so much to a total destruction as to an absolute subjection: for as he is able, so will he “subdue all things to himself” [Phil. 3:21].  The principal end of the regal office of the Mediator is the effectual redemption and actual salvation of all those whom God hath given him, and whosoever or whatsoever opposeth the salvation of these is by that opposition constituted and become and enemy of Christ.  And because this enmity is grounded upon that opposition, therefore so far as anything opposeth the salvation of the sons of God, so far it is an enemy, and no farther; and consequently Christ, by sitting at the right hand of God, hath obtained full and absolute power utterly to destroy those three spiritual enemies so far as they make this opposition; and farther than they do oppose they are not destroyed by him, but subdued by him: whatsoever hindereth and obstructeth the bringing of his own into his kingdom, for the demonstration of God’s mercy, is abolished; but whatsoever may be yet subservient to the demonstration of his justice is continued. 

Christ then, as king, destroyeth the power of sin in all those which belong unto his kingdom, annihilating the guilt thereof by the virtue of his death, destroying the dominion thereof by his actual grace, and taking away the spot thereof by grace habitual.  But in the reprobate and damned souls the spot of sin remaineth in its perfect dye, the dominion of sin continueth in its absolute power, the guilt of sin abideth in a perpetual obligation to eternal pains; but all this in subjection to his throne, the glory of which consisteth as well in punishing rebellion as rewarding loyalty. 

16.  Again, Christ sitting on the right hand of God destroyeth all the strength of Satan and the powers of hell: by virtue of his death, perpetually represented to his Father, “he destroyeth him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil" [Heb. 2:14].  But the actual destruction of these powers of darkness hath reference only to the elect of God.  In them he preventeth the wiles, those he taketh out of the snare; in them he destroyeth the works, those he preserveth from “the condemnation of the devil” [Eph. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:26; 1 John 3:8; 1 Tim. 3:6].  He freeth them here from the prevailing power of Satan by his grace, he freeth them hereafter from all possibility of any infernal opposition by his glory.  But still the reprobate and damned souls are continued slaves unto the powers of hell, and he which sitteth upon the throne delivereth them to the devil and his angels, to be tormented with and by them for ever; and this power of Satan still is left as subservient to the demonstration of the divine justice. 

17.  Thirdly, Christ sitting on the throne of God at last destroyeth death itself; for “the last enemy which shall be destroyed is death” [1 Cor. 15:26].  But this destruction reacheth no farther than removing of all power to hinder the bringing of all such persons as are redeemed actually by Christ into the full possession of his heavenly kingdom.  He “will ransom them from the power of the grave, [he] will redeem them from death.  O death, [he] will by thy plague; O grave, [he] will by thy destruction” [Hos. 13:14].  The trump shall sound, the graves shall be open, the dead shall live, the bodies shall be framed again out of the dust, and the souls which left them shall be reunited to them, and all the sons of men shall return to life, and death shall be swallowed up in victory [1 Cor. 15:54].  The sons of God shall then be made completely happy both in soul and body, never again to be separated, but to inherit eternal life.  Thus he who sitteth at the right hand of God “hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light” [2 Tim. 1:10].  But to the reprobate and damned persons death is not destroyed but improved.  They rise again indeed to life, and so the first death is evacuated; but that life to which they rise is a second, and a far worse death.  And thus Christ is set down at the right hand of God that he might subdue all things to himself. 

19.  When all the enemies of Christ shall be subdued, when all the chosen of God shall be actually brought into his kingdom, when those which refused him to rule over them shall be slain, that is, when the whole office of the mediator shall be completed and fulfilled, then every branch of the execution shall cease.  As, therefore, there shall no longer continue any act of the prophetical part to instruct us, nor any act of the priestly part to intercede for us, so there shall be no further act of this regal power of the mediator necessary to defend and preserve us.  The beatifical vision shall succeed our information and instruction, a present fruition will prevent oblation and intercession, and perfect security will need no actual defence and protection.  As, therefore, the general notion of a mediator ceaseth when all are made one, because “a mediator is not a mediator of one” [Gal. 3:20]; so every part or branch of that mediatorship, as such, must also cease, because that unity is in all parts complete. “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  For when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that hath put all things under him, that God may be all in all” [1 Cor. 15:24, 28]. 

20.  Now though the mediatorship of Christ be then resigned because the end thereof will then be performed; though the regal office as part of that mediatorship be also resigned with the whole; yet we must not think that Christ shall cease to be a king, or lose any of the power and honour which before he had [Hilar. De Trin. lib. xi. cap. 29].  The dominion which he hath was given him as a reward for what he suffered; and certainly the reward shall not cease when the work is done.  He hath promised to make us kings and priests, which honour we expect in  heaven, believing we shall reign with him for ever [2 Tin. 2:12], and therefore for ever must believe him king.  “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever” [Rev. 11:15], not only to the modificated eternity of his mediatorship, so long as there shall be need of regal power to subdue the enemies of God’s elect, but also to the complete eternity of the duration of his humanity, which for the future is coeternal to his divinity. 

Lest we should imagine that Christ should ever cease to be king, or so interpret this article as if he were after the day of judgment to be removed from the right hand of God, the ancient fathers added those words to the Nicene Creed, “whose kingdom shall have no end” [Cyril contra Marcellus and Photinus], against the heresy which then arose denying the eternity of the kingdom of Christ. 

21.  The profession of faith in Christ as sitting on the right hand of God is necessary: first, to mind us of our duty, which must needs consist in subjection and obedience.  The majesty of a king claimeth the loyalty of a subject; and if we acknowledge his authority, we must submit unto his power.  Nor can there be a greater incitation to obedience than the consideration of the nature of his government.  Subject we must be whether we will or no; but if willingly, then is our service perfect freedom: if unwillingly, then is our averseness everlasting misery.  Enemies we all have been; under his feet we shall be either adopted or subdued [August. In Psalmus 109].  A double kingdom there is of Christ [Chrysos. Homil. 39 in 1 Ep. ad Corinth.]: one of power, in which all are under him; another of propriety, in those which belong unto him: none of us can be excepted from the first, and happy are we if by our obedience we show ourselves to have an interest in the second, for then that kingdom is not only Christ’s, but ours. 

22.  Secondly, it is necessary to believe in Christ sitting on the right hand of God, that we might be assured of an auspicious protection under his gracious dominion.  For God by this exaltation hath given our Saviour “to be the head over all things to the church” [Eph. 1:22]; and therefore from him we may expect direction and preservation.  There can be no illegality where Christ is the law-giver; there can be no danger from hostility where the Son of God is the defender.  The very name of head hath the signification not only of dominion but of union [Chrysos. on those words of Basil Homil. 3, in Epist. ad Ephes.], and therefore while we look upon him at the right hand of God we see ourselves in heaven.  This is the special promise which he hath made us since we sat down there, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne” [Rev. 3:21].  How should we rejoice, yea rather how should we fear and tremble at so great an honour! [Chrysos, ibid]. 

23.  Thirdly, the belief of Christ’s glorious session is most necessary in respect of the immediate consequence, which is his most gracious intercession.  Our Saviour is ascended as the true Mechisedek, not only as the King of Salem the Prince of peace but also as the Priest of the most high God [Heb. 7:1]; and whereas every priest, according to the law of “Moses, stood daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices which could never take away sins, this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” [Heb. 10:11, 12].  And now Christ being set down in that power and majesty though the sacrifice be but once offered, yet the virtue of it is perpetually advanced by his session, which was founded on his passion; for he is “entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” [Heb. 9:24].  Thus, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” [1 John 2:1].  And “he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he liveth to make intercession for them” [Heb. 7:25].  What then remaineth to all true believers but that triumphant exclamation of the apostle, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?  It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” [Rom. 8:33, 34].  For he which was accepted in his oblation, and therefore sat down on God’s right hand, to improve this acceptation continues his intercession; and having obtained all power by virtue of his humiliation, representeth them both in a most sweet commixtion; by an humble omnipotency, or omnipotent humility, appearing in the presence, and presenting his postulations at the throne, of God [August. on 1 Tim. 2:1:  Epistl. lix. ad Paulinum, quaest. v. cap. 2]. 

24.  Having thus explicated the session of our Saviour, we are next to consider the description of him at whose right hand he is set down; which seems to be delivered in the same terms with which the CREED did first begin, “I believe in God the Father Almighty,” and indeed, as to the expression of his essence, it is the same name of God; as to the setting forth his relation, it is the same name of Father; but as to the adjoining attribute, though it be the same word, it is not the same notion of Almighty.  What therefore, we have spoken of the nature of God and the person of the Father, is not here to be repeated but supposed; for Christ is set down at the right hand of that God and of that Father, which we understand when we say, “I believe in God the Father”. 

25.  but because there is a difference in the language of the Greeks between that word which is rendered “Almighty” in the first article [in the first it is Pantokratwr , in the sixth it is Pantodunamov] [see Dionysius Areopagita in De Divinis Nominibus chapters 8 and 10], and that which is so rendered in the sixth, because that peculiarly signifieth authority of dominion, this more properly power in operation, therefore we have reserved this notion of omnipotency now to be explained. 

26.  In which two things are observable: the propriety, and the universality; the propriety in the potency, the universality in the omnipotency: first, that he is God of power; secondly, that he is a God of infinite power.  The potency consisteth in a proper, innate, and natural force or activity, by which we are assured that God is able to act, work, and produce true and real effects, which do require a true and real power to their production; and in respect of this he is often described unto us under the notion of a mighty God.  The omnipotency or infinity of this power consisteth in an ability to act, perform, and produce whatsoever can be acted or produced, without any possibility of impediment, or resistance; and in this respect he is represented to us as an “Almighty” God.  And therefore such an omnipotency we ascribe unto him; which is sufficiently delivered in the scriptures: first, by the testimony of an angel, “For with God nothing shall be impossible” [Luke 1:37]; secondly, by the testimony of Christ himself, who said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” [Mark 10:27].  Now he, to whom all things are possible, and to whom nothing is impossible, is truly and properly omnipotent.  Thus whatsoever doth not in itself imply a repugnancy of being or subsisting, hath in reference to the power of God a possibility of production; and whatsoever in respect of the power of God hath an impossibility of production, must involve in itself a repugnancy or contradiction. 

This truth, though confessed by the heathens, hath yet been denied by some of them; but with poor and insufficient arguments [Plutarchus De Plac. Philosoph. lib. i. cap. 7;  Plinius, Nat. Hist. liv. ii. cap. 7; and Elymas the sorcerer recorded by Dionysius – De Divin. Nom. cap. 8], that we shall need no more than an explication of the doctrine to refute their objections. 

27.  First, then, we must say God is omnipotent, because all power whatsoever is in any creature is derived from him; and well may he be termed “Almighty”, who is the fountain of all might.  There is no activity in any agent, no influence of any cause, but what dependeth and proceedeth from the principal agent, or the first of causes.  There is nothing in the whole circumference of the universe but hath some kind of activity, and consequently some power to act [Dionys. Areopag. De Divin. Nom. cap. 8] (for nothing can be done without a power to do it); and as all their entities flow from the first of beings, so all their several and various powers flow from the first of powers; and as all their beings cannot be conceived to depend of any but an infinite essence, so all those powers cannot proceed from any but an infinite power. 

28.  Secondly, God may be called omnipotent, because there can be no resistance made to his power, no opposition to his will, no rescue from his hands [August. Enchir. ad Laur. de Fide, etc., cap. 96].  “The Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?  his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” [Isa 14:27]  “He doth according to his will, in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou? [Dan. iv. 35]  According to the degrees of power in the agent and the resistant is an action performed or hindered; if there be more degrees of power in the resistant than the agent, the action is prevented; if fewer, it may be retarded or debilitated, not wholly hindered or suppressed.  But if there be no degree of power in the resistant in reference to the agent, then is the action totally vigorous; and if in all the powers beside that of God there be not the least degree of any resistance, we must acknowledge that power of his being above all opposition, to be infinite.  As Jehosaphat said, “In thine hand, O God, is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? [2 Chron. 20:6]  From hence there is no difficulty with God to perform anything, no greater endeavour or activity to produce the greatest than the least of creatures; but an equal facility in reference unto all things; which cannot be imagined but by an infinite excess of power above and beyond all resistance [Fulgent. De Fide ad Petrum, cap. 3]. 

29.  Thirdly, God is yet more properly called omnipotent, because his own active power extendeth itself to all things [August. De. Trin. lib. iv. cap. 20]; neither is there anything imaginably possible which he cannot do.  Thus when God several ways had declared his power unto Job, “Job answered the Lord and said, I know that thou canst do everything” [Job 42:1, 2].  Now that must needs be infinite activity which answereth to all kinds of possibility.  Thus the power of God is infinite extensively, in respect of its object, which is all things; for whatsoever effects there be of his power, yet still there can be more produced; for whatsoever addition of perfection is possible is within the sphere of God’s omnipotency.  The object then of the power of God is whatsoever is simply and absolutely possible, whatsoever is in itself such as that it may be; and so possible everything is which doth not imply a contradiction.  Again, whatsoever implieth a contradiction is impossible, and therefore is not within the object of the power of God, because impossibility is the contradiction of all power.  For that is said to imply a contradiction, which if it were, it would necessarily follow that the same thing would be and not be.  But it is impossible for the same thing both to be and not to be at the same time and in the same respect, and therefore whatsoever implieth a contradiction is impossible.  From whence it followeth that it may be truly said, God can effect whatsoever involveth not a contradiction, which is the expression of an infinite power. 

30.  Now an action may imply a contradiction two ways, either in respect of the object, or in respect of the agent.  In respect of the object it may imply a contradiction immediately, which plainly and in terms doth signify a repugnancy and so destroys itself, as for the same thing to be and not to be, to have been and not to have been.  And therefore it must be acknowledged that it is not in the power of God to make that not to have been, which hath already been [Aristot. Ethic. Eudum. lib. v. cap. 2]; but that is no derogation to God’s power, because not within the object of any power.  And he may certainly have all power, who hath not that which belongeth to no power.  Again, that doth imply a contradiction consequentially, which in appearance seemeth not to be impossible, but by necessary consequence if admitted, leadeth infallibly to a contradiction.  As that one body should be at the same time in two distinct places, speaks no repugnancy in terms; but yet by consequence it leads to that which is repugnant to itself, which is that the same body is but one body, and not but one.  Being then a covert and consequential contradiction is as much and as truly a contradiction as that which is open and immediate, it followeth that it is as impossible to be effected, and therefore comes not under the power of God. 

That doth imply a contradiction in respect of the agent which is repugnant to his essential perfection; for being every action floweth from the essence of the agent, whatsoever is totally repugnant to that essence must involve a contradiction as to the agent.  Thus we may say God cannot sleep, God cannot want, God cannot die [August. De Civitate Dei, lib. v. cap. 10;  Author Sermon. De temp. cxix. cap. 1.]; he cannot sleep whose being is spiritual, he cannot want whose nature is all-sufficient, he cannot die who is essentially and necessarily existent.  Nor can that be a diminution of his omnipotency, the contrary whereof would be a proof of his impotency, a demonstration of his infirmity.  Thus it is impossible for God to lie [August. De Civit. Dei, lib. 22. cap. 25.  Heb. 6:18], to whom we say nothing is impossible; and he, who can do all things, “cannot deny himself” [Dionysius De Divin. Nom. cap. 8;  Oric. Contra Cles. lib. v.;  Jobius De Verb. Incarn. lib. iii. cap. 13, apud Phot. in Biblioth.;  Isidorus Pelusiota, Epist. 335, lib. iii.; Theodoret, Dial. 3.;  2 Tim. 2:13].  Because a lie is repugnant to the perfection of veracity, which is essential unto God as necessarily following from his infinite knowledge and infinite sanctity.  We who are ignorant may be deceived, we who are sinful may deceive; but it is repugnant to that nature to be deceived which is no way subject unto ignorance; it is contradictory to that essence to deceive which is no way capable of sin.  For as it is a plain contradiction to know all things and to be ignorant of anything; so it is to know all things and to be deceived; as it is an evident contradiction to be infinitely holy, and to be sinful, so is it to be infinitely holy and deceive.  But it is impossible for any one to lie who can neither deceive nor be deceived.  Therefore it is a manifest contradiction to say that God can lie, and consequently it is no derogation from his omnipotency that he cannot.  Whatsoever then God cannot do, whatsoever is impossible to him, doth not any way prove that he is not almighty, but only show that the rest of his attributes and perfections are as essential to him as his power; and as his power suffereth no resistance, so the rest of his perfections admit no repugnance.  Well therefore may we conclude him absolutely omnipotent [Theodoret, Dial. 3; Origen, Contra Cels. lib. iii., v.], who by being able to effect all things consistent with his perfections showeth infinite ability; and by not being able to do anything repugnant to the same perfections, demonstrateth himself subject to no infirmity or imbecility.  And in this manner we maintain God’s omnipotency, with the best and eldest, against the worst and latest of the heathen authors [Plutarch, Pliny, Galen]. 

Thus God is omnipotent, and God only.  For if the power of all things beside God be the power of God, as derived from him and subordinate unto him, and his own power from whence that is derived can be subordinate to none, then none can be omnipotent but God. 

31.  Again, we say that God the Father is almighty: but then we cannot say that the Father only is almighty.  For the reason why we say the Father is almighty, is because he is God; and therefore we cannot say that he only is almighty [Author. Lib. ii. de Symb. ad Catechum. cap. 3] because it is not true that he only is God.  Whosoever then is God, hath the same reason and foundation of omnipotency which the Father hath, and consequently is to be acknowledged properly and truly omnipotent as the Father is.  But we have already showed that the Son of God is truly God, and shall hereafter show that the Holy Ghost is also God, and that by the same nature by which the Father is God.  The Father therefore is almighty, because the Father is God; the Son almighty, because the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost almighty, because the Holy Ghost is God.  The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are God by the same divinity; therefore the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are omnipotent by the same omnipotency.  The Father then is not called almighty be way of exclusion, but is here mentioned with that attribute peculiarly, because the power of God answereth particularly to the right hand of God, as being “the right hand of power”.  The Father therefore is here described by the notion of almighty, to show that Christ, having ascended into heaven, and being set down at the right hand of God, is invested with a greater power than he exercised before; and that power which was then actually conferred upon him acknowledgeth no bound or limits; but all power in the ultimate extent of its infinity is given unto him [Matt. 28:18], who is set down on the right hand of him who is God the Father: and, being so, is therefore truly and properly almighty. 

32.  It is necessary to profess belief in God almighty: First, because the acknowledgement of his omnipotency begetteth that fear and reverence, submission and obedience, which is due unto his infinite majesty.  Our God is a “great God, a mighty, and a terrible” [Deut. 10:17]; therefore terrible because mighty.  “I will forewarn you,” saith our Saviour, “whom ye shall fear:  Fear him which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; I say unto you, fear him” [Luke 12:5].  Three times we are commanded to fear, and one only reason rendered, but sufficient for a thousand fears, the power of him who is able eternally to punish us.  God gave a general command to Abraham, and with it a powerful persuasion to obedience, when he said unto him, “I am the almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect” [Gen. 17:1].  It was a rational advice which the apostle giveth us, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” [1 Peter 5:6].  And it is a proper incentive to the observation of the law of God to consider that he is the “one law-giver who is able to save and to destroy” [James 4:12]. 

33.  Secondly, the belief of God’s omnipotency is absolutely necessary as the foundation of our faith.  All the miracles which have been seen were therefore wrought, that we may believe; and never miracle had been seen if God were not omnipotent.  The objects of our faith are beyond all natural and infinite power, and did they not require an infinite activity, an assent unto them would not deserve the name of faith.  If God were not almighty, we should believe nothing; but being he is so, why should we disbelieve anything?  [Iamblichus De Vita Pythagoroe, cap. 29]  What can God propound unto us, which we cannot assent unto, if we can believe that he is omnipotent? 

34.  Thirdly, it is not only necessary in matters of bare faith and notions of belief, but in respect of the active and operative reliance upon the promises of God.  This was the particular confidence of Abraham the Father of the faithful, “who staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform” [Rom. 4:20, 21].  The promises of God are therefore firm and sure, because he is both willing and able to perform them [Fulgent. Ad Monim. lib. i. cap. 12].  We doubt or distrust the promises of men, either because we may fear they intend not to do what they have promised, or cannot do what they intend; in the first we may suspect them, because they are subject to iniquity; in the second, because they are liable to infirmity.  But being God is of infinite sanctity, he cannot intend by breaking his promises to deceive us; therefore if he be also of infinite power, he must be able to perform what he intended, and consequently we can have no reason to distrust his promises.  From whence every good Christian may say with the apostle, “I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” [2 Tim. 1:12].  I am assured that if I be a sheep and hear my Saviour’s voice, the powers of darkness and the gates of hell can never prevail against me for it was the voice of the Son of God, “My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” [John 10:29]. 

35.  Lastly, the belief of God’s omnipotency is necessary to give life to our devotions.  We ask those things from heaven which none but God can give, and many of them such, as if God himself were not almighty, he could not effect.  And therefore in that form of prayer which Christ hath taught us, we conclude all our petitions unto the Father with that acknowledgement, “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory” [Matt. 6:13].  Nor can there be a greater encouragement in the midst of all our temptations than that we are invited to call upon him in the day of trouble, “who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us” [Eph. 3:20]. 

36.  After this explication of our Saviour’s session, we may conclude what every Christian ought, and may be supposed to intend, when he maketh profession to believe that “Christ is set on the right hand of God the Father almighty”.  For thereby he is conceived to declare thus much, I assent unto this as a most infallible and necessary truth, that Jesus Christ ascending into the highest heavens, after all the troubles and sufferings endured here for our redemption, did rest in everlasting happiness; he which upon earth had not a place to lay his head, did take up a perpetual habitation there, and sit down upon the throne of God, as a judge and as a king, according to his office of mediator, unto the end of the world, according to that which he merited by his mediatorship, to all eternity; which hand of God the Father almighty signifieth an omnipotent power, able to do all things without any limitation, so they involve not a contradiction, either in themselves or in relation to his perfections.  And thus I believe in Jesus Christ who sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty.