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“ whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to
every man? I have planted, Apollos watered ; “ but God gave the increase. So then, neither is " he that planteth any thing, neither he that wa“ tereth; but God that giveth the increase u.”
20. God often displays his justice in giving up men to obduracy of heart. But this is also represented as the effect of his sovereignty. While he “ hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, “ whom he will he hardeneth v." I do not immediately speak of that hardening which respects the eternal state, but of that only which has a reference to temporal calamities. This, as we have formerly seen, is the ultimate reason given for the conduct of the Canaanites, in not making peace with Israel. With respect to the two sons of Eli, we are informed that “they hearkened not unto “the voice of their father, because the LORD “ would slay them w." When the Israelites applied to Rehoboam for a redress of grievances, he refused it ; and the matter is thus accounted for, in the language of inspiration ; « Wherefore the
king hearkened not unto the people ; for the “ cause was from the LORD, that he might per“ form his saying, which he spake by Ahijah the “ Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat x." In our meditations on the divine influence on the hearts of men, we must still remember that the moral evil of their actions proceeds solely from themselves. But it is evident that the passages
v Rom, is. 19.
wi Sam. ii. 25.
ur Cor. ii. 5.-7. 31 Kings xii. 15.
quoted, if they have any meaning at all, express such an operation, on the part of God, as renders the event absolutely certain. Although the manner of this operation, in its whole compass, be inconceivable to us, we cannot deny the truth of it, without denying that divine revelation is to be understood according to the ordinary sense of language.
It may be observed, lastly, that some of the most severe judgments that have ever been inflicted on men, have been expressly inflicted for their denial of divine sovereignty. This, as we have seen, was the cause of the unexampled punishment of Nebuchadnezzar. But he is by no means a fingular instance. What was it that fo greatly provoked the Lord in the conduct of Korah, Dathan and Abiram? Wherefore did he “ make a new thing,” by causing “ the earth to
open her mouth, and swallow them up,” that they should “ go down quick into the pity ?" Was it because they merely found fault with Mo. ses and Aaron ? No. It was because they dared to dispute the divine sovereignty, in choosing these persons to the offices assigned them. They said to Moses and Aaron, “ Ye take too much upon “ you, seeing all the congregation are holy every “ one of them.” What did Moses reply? To" morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and “ who is holy; and will cause him to come “ near unto him: even him whom he batb chofen $will he cause to come near unto him." The
LORR Numb. xvi. 39.
Ver. 3. S.
Lord knew that the murmurings of these rebels, although immediately directed against Moses and Aaron, were ultimately levelled against his own sovereign ordination. Therefore he says; “ It “ shall come to pass, that the man's rod whom I “ shall choose shall blossom: and I will make to “ cease from me the murmurings of the children " of Israel, whereby they murmur against you a.” Sennacherib was only the ax, the faw, the rod and the staff in God's hand. This instrument, however, presumed to deny the Supreme Agent. The king of Assyria claimed the work as his own. He said, “ By the strength of my hand I have “ done it, and by my wisdom : for I am prudent." But observe how his conduct is described by JeHOVAH, and how he determines to punish it. “ Shall the ax boaft itself against him that hew“eth therewith ? or shall the faw magnify itself “ against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should “ fhake itself against them that lift it up, or as if “ the staff should lift up itfelf, as if it were no “ wood. Therefore shall the LORD, the Lord of “ hosts, send among his fat ones leanness, and un“ der his glory he shall kindle a burning like the
burning of a fire. And the light of Israel shall “ be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame : and “ it shall burn and devour his thorns and his “ briers in one day b.” He trusted in the strength of his army, and this prophecy refers to its sudden and miraculous destruction. But this was not all his punishment. It is farther expressed in
this a Numb. xvii. 5. b Isa. X. 15.-17.
e Isa. xxxvii. 36.
this emphatic language; “Because thy rage against “ me, and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, “ therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and
my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back " by the way that thou camest d.” Formerly he was represented as a mean instrument in the hand of the Almighty. Now, because of his refractoriness, he appears as a wild beast, bridled and muzzled by his owner, and driven whithersoever he will.
In a word, the punishment of those who have enjoyed the gospel, seems, in a peculiar manner, to turn on this hinge. The enemies of the King are those “ who would not that he should reign
over them e." All, indeed, who refuse to obey the law, or to submit to the gospel, in whatever way, are the enemies of Christ. But those elpecially deferve this character, who deny the lovereignty of his will. For the right of dispensing his gifts to whom, and in what manner he pleases, of doing according to his will in heaven and in earth, is that branch of his prerogative which eminently entitles him to the designation of “ King
of kings, and Lord of lords.”
From what has been observed on this subject, we are taught the reasonableness of submitting to the divine will. God is the Supreme Potter, and has an undoubted right to do with the clay as he pleases. Whatever he does, he does it with his
a Ifa, xxxvii. 29.
e Luke xix. 270
We may also perceive the wisdom of this sub. mission. For “ who hath refifted his will." He
worketh, and no one can let him.” A finner may spurn and toss at divine sovereignty ; but it is only as “ a wild bull in a net." It is impoffible that he can “ flee out of his hand." The preceding illustrations assure us, that the impotent creature must eventually submit. Like the king of Babylon, he may find it necessary to confess this attribute, from that conviction which is the fruit of better experience. For God“ will do all “his pleasure."
A due attention to divine sovereignty affords confolation under the greatest adversities. The Christian has still reason to rejoice, that nothing happens to him by chance, or merely by the will of man.
He may have reason to blame himself, or to blame others, as secondary causes. But he knows that he must not reft here, left he should seem to reflect on the First Cause. How much soever he may regret any adverse event, he discerns the propriety of submission. For he knows that he miglit as well think of plucking the sun out of the firmament, as of counteracting any of the determinations of that God whose “ coun“ sel shall stand.” The tidings delivered by Samuel to Eli must have been afflicting beyond conception. Yet this is all his answer; “ It is the “ Lord, let him do what seemeth him good ?." When Paul declared his intention of going up to Jerusalem, Agabus, by the spirit of prophecy, al
fi Sam. iii. 18.