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world, when it is so necessary to acter of his creatures, He displays display the Divine glory?
* neither justice nor injustice, but II. The Providence of God is sovereignty.”—It is also soineuniversal and particular, All per- times allirmed, that if God makes sons, who believe in a God, admit us to err from his ways, then we that He governs the natural world. cannot be free agents and accountThe revolutions and convulsions able for our conduct. This obof nature, have usually been as-jection has often been made, and cribed to his agency. It is, also, as often answered. It was commonly admitted, that God ex- common in the days of the apostles, ercises what is called a general that they had occasion to take noprovidence over the moral world. tice of it. After Paul had assertBut, many deny, that God's prov- | ed the Divine agency in forming idential agency extends to all the characters of the vessels of events. They say, if it does, then mercy and the vessels of wrath, it will follow, that God is the in these words, “ Therefore hath cause of moral evil. But, what if He mercy on whom He will have this does follow? It is sometimes
mercy, and whom He will, He said, that if God causes some to hardeneth;" he anticipated this walk in his statutes and others to very objection, “ Thou wilt say err from his ways, he must neces- then unto me, Why doth he yet sarily be partial and unjust. But find fault, for who hath resisted how does this appear? “Partiality his will?” And he gave such an does not consist merely in treat- answer to it, as the Holy Spirit ing persons differently; but in directed. We find it answered,
; . treating them differently, without by an appeal to the objector's any good reason.” But, we have conscience: “ Nay, but O man, seen, that God has important rea- who art thou that repliest against sons for making some to err from God? Shall the thing formed, say his ways. The full display of his unto him that formed it, Why hast own infinite perfections, requires, thou made me thus?” In this anthat a difference should be made swer, it is worthy of observation, in moral characters. This was that the apostle did not give up, or true, in the case of Pharaoh. God explain away the doctrine, that it told bim to his face, “ And in very is God, who makes men into such deed for this cause have I raised vessels as He pleases; but boldly thee up, that I might show my
maintained it, and by his appeal power in thee, and that my name to the conscience of the objector, might be declared throughout all asserted also his activity and guilt. the earth." And no reason can This answer ought to satisfy all be given, why He may not have as those, who have any regard to the good reasons for raising up others Divine declarations, and forever for the same purpose, that He did silence the objection. But, if any Pharaoh. Neither does injustice are disposed still to enquire, How consist in “ treating persons better can it be possible for men to be than they deserve; but in treating free and accountable when they them worse." But God never has are made to err from the right way? treated, and never will treat any the question may be answered on of his creatures worse than they philosophical principles. Though deserve. He never has destroyed, it was not the design of these oband never will destroy any persons
servations, yet, in ascertaining the before they are first fitted for des- extent of the Divine Providence, truction. And in forming the char- we have also ascertained the mode.
God governs the moral world, by be to blame. If God inakes the direeting and moving the will of earth into a globe, and not into a his creatures. In order to display square; then, doubtless, it is a bis power and sovereignty in E globe and not a square: and if He gypt, He turned the heart of the makes men to err from his ways; Egyptians to hate his people, to then, doubtless, they do err from deal subtilly with his servants.'- his ways. And if God does his But, who ever read the history of pleasure in the armies of heaven Pharaoh and the Egyptians, with and among the inhabitants of the any doubts respecting their free- earth, by making his creatures dom and guilt, in their oppressive freely and voluntarily fulfil his and subtile treatment of the Chil- decrees; then, doubtless, they are dren of Israel: “ The king's heart free and voluntary in all they do. is in the hand of the Lord; as the 'It is, indeed, sometimes said, that rivers of water, He turneth it if we are dependant for our acwhithersoever He will." But, tions; then we cannot help doing who ever doubted the freedom or
as we do.
But, is it meant, that accountability of kings? If we do
we are, in some instances, disposany thing voluntarily and heartily, ed to do differently, and cannot? we are conscious of being free and This is, probably, always insinuataccountable: and the fact, that it ed, in this objection. But nothing is God, who works in us, both to is more false. God never causes will and to do, has no tendency to any of his creatures to act against destroy, but to secure our freedom their will; but causes them to and accountability. In order to choose to act according to his will. destroy our freedom and accounta- Will the objector go still further, bility, it would be necessary for and say, that we cannot help actGod to make us act contrary to our ing voluntarily, when we are made will. But this is not only contra- to act voluntarily? And what if we ry to fact, but impossible in the cannot? It is impossible to connature of things. It is a gross ab-ceive of more freedom, or a better surdity to suppose, that a person reason for accountability, than to
a can be made to perform a moral act from choice. Holiness, or sin, action, against his will. It is true, does not lie in the cause of moral we may be compelled, by physical actions, but in the nature of the force, to do an overt action against actions themselves. our will; but it would not be a III. The same events are, fremoral action. It is not by apply. quently and properly, ascribed, in ing physical force, but by turning sacred scripture, to different causthe heart, that God “ works in us God is said to have hardened both to will and to do, of his good Pharaoh's heart; and he is said to pleasure.” Hence the arguments, have hardened his own heart. In drawn from the analogy of physi- the history of Job, it is said, the cal causes, to prove that absolute Sabeans and Chaldeans plundered dependence destroys freedom or him of his property and slew his. accountability, are perfectly idle servants ; but Job ascribed the and sophistical. A person might, same events to God; “ The Lord with as much consistency, and gave, and the Lord hath taken with as good logick, affirm, that if away; blessed be the name of the God, at first, made the earth round, Lord.” It is said, respecting the
, ” then it was, necessarily a square; crucifixion of Christ, " It pleased as to say, that if God makes us to the Lord to bruise him; He hath err from his ways, then we cannot put him to grief.” But Peter told
the Jews, that they had taken and by those, who are willing to be in with wicked hands crucified and the hands and at the disposal of slain him. There is no necessity an impartial and sovereign God. of explaining away any part of IV. If it is God, who makes these passages, to avoid inconsis- men to err from his ways ; then tency. Though it would be un- the doctrine of reprobation is true philosophical and absurd, to sup- in fact. Nothing more is meant pose, that two different causes both by this doctrine, than God's eterdid the same thing, in relation to nal determination to make some the production of the same effect; vessels of dishonour. But we have yet it is by no means unreasonable seen, that He actually does this. to believe, that two different causes And if he actually does make some may be active and perform differ for the day of evil; certainly there ent parts in relation to the pro- can be no objection against his duction of the same effect. Ac-, having determined to do it, from cording to scripture and the com- the beginning; for all admit, mon sense of mankind, God is the that God has determined all his first, efficient cause of all things. own actions, from eternity: This He is said to work all in all, to doctrine does not depend for its work all things after the counsel support, on vain philosophy, or of his own will, and to work in subiile metaphysics : though these creatures both to will and to do have often been employed to overof his good pleasure. But crea- turn it. It rests on the broad tures also work out their own sal- foundation of unequivocal, Divine vation and their own destruction. declarations. “ And a stone of Human agency, however, is not stumbling and a rock of offence, the efficient, independent cause of even to them, which stumble at any thing ; but a second, depend the word, being disobedient whereant cause. Human agency bears unto also they were appointed.the relation of effect to Divine Israel hath not attained that, which agency. In the instance of Pha- he seeketh for ; but the election raoh and the Egyptians, and in all hath obtained it, and the rest were other instances of the kind, it was blinded.-But these, as natural God, who turned their heart to brute beasts, made to be taken and hate his people ; but it was the destroyed, speak evil of the things Egyptians and not God, who hated which they understand not, and his people and dealt subtilly with shall utterly perish in their own his servants. The act of turning corruption. These passages canthe heart, was one act, and the not be evaded, except by those act of hating was another ; which who manifestly wrest' the scripacts were consistent with each tures to their own destruction. other, and both necessary to the
V. In view of this subject, those, production of the same course of who are disinterested, may conevents. The same analogy ob- fide in God, in the darkest time, tains, in regard to the production and go on their way rejoicing. of good actions. It is God, who The Lord God, omnipotent, reigncauses his people to walk in his eth, and He will reign forever. statutes ; but it is his people, and He holds, in his hand, the hearts not God, who walk in his statutes. of all his friends and of all his eneNo difficulty, in seeing the reason- mies; and He can and does turn ableness and consistency of human them whithersoever He will. All dependence and activity, is felt creatures, and all their conflicting
interests, are perfectly under his and zeal and faithfulness and pacontrol. The highest interest of tience of the true friends of God, the universe, on which the heart of may have a fair trial, that the eneevery Christian is fixed, is secure. mies of the gospel may be convincThere will be no more sin, and no ed, that there is an essential and more miserv in the universe, than fundamental difference of characis chosen by infinite wisdom and ter, between the godly and the goodness. The wickedness, and ungodly. And even when the even the wrath of man, shall praise wicked grow bold in sin and proGod ; and the remainder, which fane the name of God, despise his is not necessary to promote the laws, and cast insults on those, general good, will be restrained. who are disposed to maintain his In time of darkness, deep declen- truth; let us bear their curses with sion, and persecution, let us not cheerfulness and patience, because forget the practical use of this pre- 66 the Lord hath bidden them.” cious truth. In time of general Let us see the hand of God, workand alarming declension in reli- ing all things after the counsel of gion, when sinners are unaffected his own will, amidst all the surwith the exhibition of the funda- rounding darkness, and confide in mental and everlasting truths of his universal and particular provithe gospel, and appear to be sleep-dence, which will soon be cleared ing on to eternal death, Christians from all darkness, and shine have no reason to despond. They through eternity, with increasing should remember, that God has transparency. wise reasons for thus blinding their Finally. In view of this subject, eyes and hardening their hearts; impenitent sinners have reason to so that they are insensible to the tremble. They are the lawful objects, which are leading them to servants of the great King, who destruction. When false teachers has the best of reasons for making and deceivers come along, trans- all things for himself, yea even the formed into angels of light, and wicked for the day of evil. Some draw multitudes of eager follow- He has determined to raise from ers, into their fatal snare ; let us the dead, at the last day, “ to remember, that they are but in- shame and everlasting contempt,” struments and second causes in in order to display the brightness the hand of God, who has an agen- of his glory, forever. What reacy, as well as an important purpose son have impenitent sinners to to answer, in sending people strong think, that they are not of that delusion, that they should believe unhappy number? For some reaa lie that they all might be damned, son or other, they have, thus far, who reject and been formed into 6 vessels of pleasure in unrighteousness.-wrath fitted to destruction.” ProWhen professing Christians, who bably they have often resolved to have had the confidence and friend. repent and make their peace with ship of the faithful, depart from the God, in future; but, as yet, they faith of the gospel, become corrupt have found no heart to do it. Their in their sentiments and practice, hope, derived from such resoluand oppose the cause which they tions, is without foundation; for once professed to em'orace; let us the broad road, which has carried remember, that " there must be 90 many millions down to the also heresies amorig you, that they, chambers of death, is paved with who are approved, may be made such resolutions. Do not their
, manifest;" in order that the faith own consciences testify, that the
pleasure in 'yunrighteousnessive back
more they have become acquaint-hearts; nor will the wisdom, imed with God, the less disposition partial goodness and sovereignty they have felt to love Him? Some of God, ever be hid from their of them perhaps, may have deter- eyes. God has determined to dismined to resist the influences of play those perfections, with inthe Spirit of God, and reject the creasing brightness forever. With humbling conditions of salvation, a heart full of hatred and enmity and indulge themselves in all the to his character and requirements, gratifications, which this world sinners are in the hands and at the affords. If there are such, they disposal of a sovereign God: and would do wisely to reflect, that it they can never get out of his hands. may be, God has determined the There is but one way for them to same thing too. No determination escape his wrath, or even the conof theirs, will ever disappoint His demnation of their own
conpurposes, or defeat His designs. sciences; and that is, to submit to There
may be others, who have his sovereignty and embrace his some remaining fears of the great universal and benevolent design, and solemn day, which is ap- which He is pursuing. God has proaching, and are anxious to made them to promote the general make their peace with God; but good. Let them be persuaded to find no heart to love Him and renounce their selfish interests comply with the conditions of sal- and embrace this object, and thus vation. With an increasing aver- commence a new life of holy sion to duty, how dangerous is obedience, which, through Jesus their situation! The conditions of Christ, will be attended with the heaven will not, cannot, be made Divine favour and presence, ages any more pleasing to their selfish without end.
FOR TRE LOPKINSIAN MAGAZIXE,
than this, it may be presumed, is ON THE SABBATE.
implied in the precept. And here
I would observe,
1. That, in remembering the What is implied in remembering Sabbath-day, we may suppose, is
the Sabbath-Day? implied an affectionate anticipation If we may judge of the princi- of it, through the week.
We are ples of men by their practice, to esteem the Sabbath a delight. some seem to imagine, that if they It should be to us the most pleasant duly reckon the days of the week, of all days, on account of its saso as not to be at a loss to know cred duties and religious services. which is the Sabbath, they have It will be so, if we love God more done all that is implied in remem- than ourselves, and esteem his bering the Sabbath-day. But, word and worship more than our heedless as mankind are, respect private, secular employments. The ing this holy day, it is hardly to be moral state of that person must be supposed, that God would have in- very deplorable, to whom the Sabtroduced the fourth commandment bath is a burden, and who takes no with such a solemn injunction, delight in those several duties, “ Remember the Sabbath day”which, when rightly performed, merely to guard men against for- are a commencement of the work getting which day of the week is of heaven. Certainly, the affecthe day of sacred rest. More I tions of such a person are set on