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ness, when directed to the Almighty Parent himself? Of what account is the clay to the potter? If " the vessel, that he made of it, be marred in “ his hand, he makes it again another veffel, as
feens good to the potter to make it.” Thus doth the Lord address us ; “ O house of Israel, “ cannot I do with you as this potter ? Behold, “ as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in - mine hand, O house of Israel'i.” Man is a very important being in his own eye. But doth this increase his consequence with his Maker? On the contrary, “ all the inhabitants of the earth are “reputed as nothing k.” “Behold, the nations are
as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the “ finall dust of the balance: behold, he taketh
up the illes as a very little thing.--All nations “ before him are as nothing, and they are counted “ to him less than nothing, and vanity!.”
2. This perfection is very apparent in the whole management of the world of nature. Often indeed does God employ the elements as the instruments of his justice. But in his ordinary administration, they are to be viewed as the monitors of his sovereignty. “ Fire, hail, snow, va“ pour, stormy wind, fulfil his word m.” He not only, for judgment, “ causeth it to rain on one “ city, and not on another ;" but, because it is his pleasure, he causeth “ it to rain on the earth “ where no man is, on the wilderness wherein “ there is no man." "He sendeth forth his com"mandment upon earth; his word runneth very
“ inandment i Jer. xviii. 4.-6.
k Dan. iv. 35.
i lia. xl. 15.-17. m Plal. cxlvii. s.
n Amos ir. 7.
o Job xxxvüi. 26.
swiftly. He giveth snow like wool; he scat“ tereth the hoar-frost like ashes. He casteth “ forth his ice like morsels; who can stand be“ fore his cold ? He sendeth out his word, and “ melteth them : he causeth his wind to blow, “ and the waters flow." All these are effects of his sovereignty in the natural kingdom; and his conduct in the world of grace is strictly analogous. For it immediately follows; “ He shew“eth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his “ judgments unto Ifrael. He hath not dealt fo “ with any nation : and as for his judgments,
they have not known them P.”
3. God hath displayed his sovereignty in consecrating the seventh part of our time to his service. The worship of rational creatures is founded on the nature of God. But the limitation of the time, to be devoted to his service, depends upon his will. He might have restricted the labour of man to five days, or extended it to seven. He might have claimed fix parts of our time, and allowed us only the seventh to ourselves. In this case, we could have had no right to complain ; for he would have ordered matters so, that, what part of our time foever was devoted to work, would have been sufficient for our sustenance. The reason assigned for the consecration of a seventh portion of our time, is God's working fix days, and resting on the seventh%. But this is only to be viewed as the immediate reason. As
p Pfal. cxlvii. 13.-20.
a Gen, ii. 2, 3.
his working exactly fix days depended on his som vereign pleasure ; to the fame source must the sanctification of a seventh part of our time be ultimately traced. For he previously determined, in the immutable counsel of his will, to work only six days, to rest on the seventh, and therefore to appropriate this portion of time to his worship.
4. God hath signally displayed his sovereignty in permitting the entrance of pin. It would be every way unworthy of God, to suppose that he could not have prevented this. He, who formed intelligent creatures after his own image, could as easily have secured them in the possession of this state of integrity, without a possibility of falling. Had he pleased, fin would have been unknown both to angels and to men. We may be assured, therefore, that he had a proper end in view in determining the permission of this greatest of evils. Reason itself teaches us, that whatever . is permitted by the moral Governor of the world must be for the best. Scripture confirms its voice, by informing us that God maketh “ the very wrath " of man to praise him.” We may therefore rest satisfied, that, in his infinite wisdom, he saw that he could bring greater glory to himself even by means of fin, than if it had never been permitted. He knew that there would be an opportunity for the display of perfections, which otherwise, although revealed, could never have been exercised ;-for the display of justice in the punishment of fin, or of mercy in the pardon of it, or of both
with respect to different objects. But his knowledge of the possibility of this, laid him under no necessity as to the event. Was it an act of his sovereign will to manifeft his perfections at all ? It was no less a fovereign act to determine that they should be displayed in this particular way, as the confequence of the entrance of fin. Had he seen meet to restrict himself to that display of his perfections which was confiftent with a state of universal innocency, no one could have had a right to find fault. Although millions of intelligent creatures suffer, in consequence of his permitting the entrance of fin, no one may dare to complain. For, “ who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou haft wrought iniquity.”
Again, the measure of this evil is entirely the result of his sovereign pleasure. He might have suffered fin to enter among angels, and prevented its introduction into our lower world. Or he might have permitted this rebellion on his footftool, and prevented the possibility of its raising its head around his throne. It might have been so ordered, that only a part of the human race should have been involved in rebellion; while the integrity of others might have been secured, like that of holy angels. Nay, he might have suffered the evil to extend as far in heaven as it hath done on earth, and given it that restraint on earth which it hath had in heaven. Various conjectures may be offered as to the reasons of the divine conduct in these respects; and various reflections may be made, illuftrating its infinite propriety. But all these things must be ultimately resolved into the pleasure of Him who “ worketh all things “ after the counsel of his own wille."
may Job xxxvi. 23.
We may add, that one great end for which God hath permitted the entrance of this greatest of evils, is deeply to impress rational creatures with a sense of this adorable perfection. It might have been manifested in a variety of instances, although fin had never entered. It was, as has been seen, actually manifested before the entrance of sin. But, had not the eternal interests of intelligent creatures immediately depended on the exercise of this perfection, it could never have appeared with such glory and majesty.
5. The fovereignty of God eminently appears in fufpending the whole happiness of mankind on the conduct of one person. This perfection, indeed, is not the only one that may be traced in the federal character given to our common parent. If we take a just view of it, we shall perceive a striking display of divine grace. The carnal heart, which still reflects on the ways of God, may be apt to accuse his justice, and to insinuate, that matters had been set on a better footing for the human race, if the happiness or misery of every individual had depended on his own conduct ; that, in this case, although many,“ like Adam," might “ have transgressed the covenant,” it is improbable that all would have done fo; that, at any rate, the fall, and the consequent misery of
some, s Eph. i. 11.