The Power of God in Governing the World

Stephen Charnock: Existence and Attributes of God, p 44 ff.





All government is an act of the understanding, will, and power:  Prudence to design; Election of the means; Accomplishment.  But God is One: His wisdom is not feeble, nor his power foolish: a feeble wisdom could not act what it would, and a foolish power would act more than it should.

Natural Government: Preservation

Psalm 36:6   Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast. 

Heb. 1:3 Upholding all things by the word of his power….  Ps. 104:27   These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.  Is. 40:12: Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? 

Acts 17:28    For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.  Psalm 104:29  Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

All things are created by Him and are upheld by Him.



He gives being to things and continuance and duration.





No one can preserve his own being; but all are preserved by the creative power by which they were made to begin with.   God raised everything up from nothing, and all things stand in the power of that mighty word.

Natural Government: Propagation

Genesis 1:22   And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

How astonishing is it, that a small seed, whereof many will not amount to the weight of a grain, should spread itself into leaves, bark, fruit of a vast weight, and multiply itself into millions of seeds!

Psalm 139:14  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 

None but the Almighty God, who made all things according to his pleasure;  it is He who propagates this noble piece from a pile of dust.

Natural Government: Motions of All Creatures

Acts 17:28 In him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.   Is. 26:12  LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

Nothing can act without the almighty influx of God, no more than it can exist without the creative word of God.  All creatures are His instruments, His engines, and have no spirit, but what He gives, and what He assists.

Moral Government:  Restraint of the Devil.

Luke 22:31   And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.  (Book of Job)     Matt. 8:31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.   Luke 11:22  But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.   Mark 1:24   Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us?   I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

This restrain is wrought partly by blinding the devil in his designs, partly by denying him concourse to his motion; as he hindered the active quality of the fire upon the three children, by withdrawing his power, which was necessary to the motion of it; and his power is as necessary for the motion of the devil, as for that of any other creature:  sometimes he makes him to confess him against his own interest….

Moral Government:  Restraint of the Corruptions of Men.

Psalm 93:3,4   The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. 4 The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.


Psalm 76:10  Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.

If God did not hold back the fury of man, His garden would be overrun, his vine rooted up; the inclinations of men would hurry them to the worst of wickedness.  This corruption is equal in all, natural in all  The root of all men is the same; all the branches therefore do equally possess the villainous nature of the root.

Moral Government: Framing men’s hearts to His Own ends.

Acts 2:43  And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. Ex. 3:21,22  And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: 22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbor,

and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians. 1 Sam. 10:9   And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. Psalm 144:2  My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.

Only an Omnipotent hand could grasp and contain the hearts of all men; the heart of the meanest person, as well as of the most towering angel, and turns them as he pleases, and makes them sometime ignorantly, sometimes knowingly, concur to the accomplishment of His own purposes.  Isaiah 10:15  Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.

Gracious Government

1 Samuel 15:29  And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent. 2 Kings 19:35   And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.   Deut. 4:34  Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Ex. 9:16  And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.  

God is the “strength of Israel,” and hath protected his little flock in the midst of wolves; and maintained their standing, when the strongest kingdoms have sunk, and the best jointed states have been broken in pieces.    ….  The deliverance of the church hath not been in one age, or in one part of the world, but God hath signalized his power in all kingdoms where she hath had a footing: as he hath guided her in all places by one rule, animated her by one spirit, so he hath protected her by the same arm of power….  She hath sometimes been beaten down, and, like Lazarus, hath seemed to be in the grave for some days, that the power of God might be more visible in her sudden resurrection, and lifting up her head above the throne of her persecution.

Judicial Proceedings

Amos 9:6  It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name. Gen. 7:17.  And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. Job 12:13,14   With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.  14 Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening. Isaiah 40:23  That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. Luke 1:52  He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

Great monarchs have, by his power, been hurled from their thrones and their scepters, like Venice-glasses, broken before their faces, and they have been advanced that have had the least hopes of grandeur.  He hath plucked up cedars by the roots, lopped off the branches, and set a shrub to grow up in the place; dissolved rocks, and established bubbles.

Changing Natures and Effecting His Purposes by Small Means.

Psalm 106:9  He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. Isaiah 45:8   Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. Heb. 1:12  And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. Joel 1:6,7   For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. 7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white. 

He that spread the heavens and the earth by a word, and can by a word fold them up more easily than a man can a garment, can order the streams of nature; cannot he work without nature as well as with it, beyond nature, contrary to nature, that can, as it were, fillip nature with his finger into that nothing whence he drew it; who can cast down the sun from his throne, clap the distinguished parts of the world together, and make them mark in the same order to their confusion, as they did in their creation: who can jumble the whole frame together, and, by a word, dissolve the pillars of the world, and make the fabric lie in a ruinous heap?

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