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us rather, with great humility and adoration, to cry out with the apostle, Rom. ix. 33, &c. "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things to whom be glory for ever." If little children should rise up and find fault with the supreme legislature of a nation, or quarrel with the mysterious administrations of the sovereign, would it not be looked upon that they meddled with things too high for them? And what are we but babes? Our understandings are infinitely less than those of babes, in comparison with the wisdom of God. It becomes us therefore to be sensible of it, and to behave ourselves accordingly. Psalm cxxxi. 1, 2. "Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child." This consideration alone of the infinite distance between God and us, and between God's understanding and ours, should be enough to still and quiet us concerning all that God does, however mysterious and unintelligible to us.-Nor have we any right to expect, that God should particularly explain to us the reason of his dispensations. It is fit that God should not give any account of his matters to us, worms of the dust, that we may be sensible of our distance from him, and adore and submit to him in humble reverence.
Therefore we find, that when Job was so full of difficulty about the divine dispensations, God did not answer him by particularly explaining the reasons of his mysterious providence; but by showing him what a poor worm, what a nothing he was, and how much he himself was above him. This more became God than it would have done to enter into a particular debate with him, or to unfold the mysterious difficulties: it became Job to submit to God in those things that he could not understand, and to this the reply tended to bring him. It is fit that God should dwell in thick darkness, or in light to which no man can approach, which no man hath seen or can see. No wonder that a God of infinite glory shines with a brightness too strong for mortal eyes. For the angels themselves, those mighty spirits, are represented as covering their faces in this light; Isa. vi.
3. As he is God, all things are his own, and he hath a right to dispose of them according to his own pleasure. All things in this lower world are his; Job xli. 11. "Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine. Yea, the whole universe is God's; Deut. x. 14. "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's; the earth also, with all that is therein." All things are his, because all things are from him; they are
wholly from him, and from him alone. Those things which are made by men are not wholly from them. When a man builds a house, it is not wholly from him; nothing of which the house is made has its being from him. But all creatures are wholly and entirely the fruits of God's power, and therefore it is fit that they should be subject to, and for his pleasure, Prov. xvi. 4. And as all things are from God, so they are upheld in being by him, and would sink into nothing in a moment, if he did not uphold them. And all things are to him. Rom. xi. 36. "For by him, and through him, and to him, are all things.' Col. i. 16, 17. "For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, principalities or powers, all things were created by him and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist." All mankind are his; their lives, and breath, and being; "for in him we live, and move, and have our being." Our souls and capacities are from him. Ezek. xviii. 4. "All souls are mine: as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine."
4. In that he is God, he is worthy to be sovereign over all things. Sometimes men are the owners of more than they are worthy of. But God is not only the owner of the whole world, as all is from and dependent on him; but such is his perfection, the excellency and dignity of his nature, that he is worthy of sovereignty over all. No man ought in the temper of his mind to be opposite to God's exercising the sovereignty of the universe, as if he were not worthy of it; for to be the absolute sovereign of the universe is not a glory or dignity too great for him. All things in heaven and earth, angels and men, are nothing in comparison with him; all are as the drop of the bucket, and as the light dust of the balance. It is therefore fit that every thing should be in his hands, to be disposed of according to his pleasure.-His will and pleasure are of infinitely greater importance than the will of creatures. It is fit that his will should take place, though contrary to the will of all other beings; that he should make himself his own end; and order all things for himself.-God is possessed of such perfections and excellencies as to qualify him to be the absolute sovereign of the world. Certainly it is more fit that all things be under the guidance of a perfect unerring wisdom, than that they should be left to themselves to fall in confusion, or be brought to pass by blind causes. Yea, it is not fit that any affairs within the government of God should be left without the direction of his wise providence; least of all, things of the greatest importance.
It is absurd to suppose that God is obliged to keep every creature from sinning and exposing himself to an adequate punishment. For if so, then it will follow that there can be no such thing as a moral government of God over reasonable crea
tures; and it would be an absurdity for God to give commands; for he himself would be the party bound to see to the performance, and there could be no use of promises or threatenings. But if God may leave a creature to sin, and to expose himself to punishment, then it is much fitter and better that the matter should be ordered by wisdom, who should justly lie exposed by sin to punishment, and who not; than that it be left to come to pass by confused chance. It is unworthy of the governor of the world to leave things to chance; it belongs to him to govern all things by wisdom. And as God has wisdom to qualify him to be sovereign, so he has power also to enable him to execute the determinations of wisdom. And he is essentially and invariably holy and righteous, and infinitely good: whereby he is qualified to govern the world in the best manner.-Therefore, when he acts as sovereign of the world, it is fit that we should be still, and willingly submit, and in nowise oppose his having the glory of his sovereignty; but should in a sense of his worthiness, cheerfully ascribe it to him, and say, "Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, for ever;" and say with those in Rev. v. 13. "Blessing and honour, and glory, and power, be to him that sitteth upon the throne."
5. In that he is God, he will be sovereign, and will act as such. He sits on the throne of his sovereignty, and his kingdom ruleth over all. He will be exalted in his sovereign power and dominion, as he himself declares; "I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." He will have all men to know, that he is most high over all the earth. He doth according to his will in the armies of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand. There is no such thing as frustrating, or baffling, or undermining his designs; for he is great in counsel, and wonderful in working. His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord; whatsoever God doth, it shall be for ever; nothing shall be put to it, nor any thing taken from it. He will work, and who shall let it? He is able to dash in pieces the enemy. If men join hand in hand against him, to hinder or oppose his designs, he breaks the bow, he cuts the spear in sunder, he burneth the chariot in the fire. He kills, and he makes alive, he brings down and raises up just as he pleases. Isa. xlv. 6, 7. "That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is none else; I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things.'
Great men, and rich men, and wise men cannot hinder God from doing his pleasure. He leadeth counsellors away spoiled; he accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor. There are many devices in a
man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord that shall stand, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations.-When he gives quietness, who can make trouble? When he hides his face, who can behold him? He breaketh down, and it cannot be built up again he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening; when he purposeth, who shall disannul it? And when his hand is stretched out, who shall turn it back?-So there is no hindering God from being sovereign, and acting as such."He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." He hath the keys of hell and of death; he openeth, and no man shutteth: he shutteth, and no man openeth. This may show us the folly of opposing ourselves against the sovereign dispensations of God; and how much more wisely they act who quietly and sweetly submit to his sovereign will.
6. In that he is God, he is able to avenge himself on those, who oppose his sovereignty. He is wise of heart, and mighty in strength; who hath hardened himself against God and prospered! He that will contend with God, must answer it. And what a poor creature is man to fight against God! Is he able to make his part good with him? Whoever of God's enemies deal proudly, he will show that he is above them. They will be but as the chaff before the whirlwind, and shall be as the fat of lambs; they shall consume into smoke, they shall consume away. "Who would set the briers and thorns against him in battle? He would go through them, he would burn them together." Isa. xxvii. 4.
A manifold improvement might be made of this doctrine, which a little reflection may suggest to each of us. But the improvement which I shall at this time make of it, shall be only in an use of reproof to such under convictions of sin, and fears of hell, as are not still, but oppose the sovereignty of God in the disposals of his grace. This doctrine shows the unreasonableness, and dreadful wickedness, of your refusing heartily to own the sovereignty of God in this matter. It shows that you know not that God is God. If you knew this, you would be inwardly still and quiet; you would humbly and calmly lie in the dust before a sovereign God, and would see sufficient reason for it.
In objecting and quarrelling about the righteousness of God's laws and threatenings, and his sovereign dispensations towards you and others, you oppose his divinity, you show your ignorance of his divine greatness and excellency, and that you cannot bear that he should have divine honour. It is from low mean thoughts of God. that you do in your minds oppose his so
vereignty, that you are not sensible how dangerous your conduct is, and what an audacious thing it is for such a creature as man to strive with his Maker.
What poor creatures are you, that you should set up yourselves for judges over the Most High; that you should take it upon you to call God to an account; that you should say to the great Jehovah, what dost thou? and that you should pass sentence against him! If you knew that he is God, you would not act in this manner; but this knowledge would be sufficient to still and calm you concerning all God's dispensations, and you would say with Eli, in 1 Sam. iii. 18-"It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth good in his sight."-But here I shall be more particular in several things.
1. It is from mean thoughts of God, that you are not convinced that you have, by your sins, deserved his eternal wrath and curse. If you had any proper sense of the infinite majesty, greatness, and holiness of God, you would see, that to be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and there to have no rest, day nor night, is not a punishment more than equal to the demerit of sin.-You would not have so good a thought of yourselves; you would not be so clean and pure in your own eyes; you would see what vile, unworthy, hell-deserving creatures you are. If you had not little thoughts of God, and were to consider how you have set yourselves against him-how you have slighted him, his commandments, and threatenings, and despised his goodness and mercy; how often you have disobeyed; how obstinate you have been; how your whole lives have been filled up with sin against God-you would not wonder that God threatens to destroy you for ever, but would wonder that he hath not actually done it before now.
If you had not mean thoughts of God, you would not find fault with him for not setting his love on you who never exercised any love to him. You would not think it unjust in God not to seek your interest and eternal welfare, who never would be persuaded at all to seek his glory; you would not think it unjust in him to slight and disregard you, who have so often and so long made light of God. If you had not mean thoughts of God, you never would think him obliged to bestow eternal salvation upon you, who have never been truly thankful for one mercy which you have already received of him.-What do you think of yourselves? what great ideas have you of yourselves? and what thoughts have you of God, that you think he is obliged to do so much for you, though you treat him ever so ungratefully for the kindness which he hath already bestowed upon you all the days of your lives? It must be from little thoughts of God, that you think it unjust in him not to regard you when you call upon him; when he hath earnestly called to you, so long and so often, and you would not be persuaded to hearken to him.