« PreviousContinue »
The Sovereignty of God.
The universal agency of God, in his providential government, implies his holy and wise sovereignty. The sovereignty of God, as the idea is expressed in the holy scriptures, consists in his “ working all things after the counsel of his own will.” It relates most particularly to his governing providence over mankind. God expresses his sovereignty in these words, “I am a great king, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen." He is also celebrated as a sovereign in these words; “ clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph; for the Lord most high is terrible; he is a great king over all the earth. He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet." As a mighty conqueror, he subdues all the enemies of his church. As a king, he reigns especially in Zion; but his holy sovereignty is bounded only by the utmost limits of the created universe. A more distinct idea of the sovereignty of Jehovah, may be conceived, by a view of the sovereignty of human governments.
Nations which are subject to an unlimited monarchy, have their sovereigns, denominated kings or emperors, who give law to the people, and control all authority in the nation, or empire. And this is not the worst form of government, provided the sovereign be'a man possessed of great wisdom, and integrity of heart
. No nation ever enjoyed a better government than that of Solomon, who was an absolute sovereign. Such was the form of government in Israel, from and after the reign of king Saul. And never was a nation more happy in its goyernment, when their kings did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. This form of government, how
did not, in that case, meet the divine approbation, because it was needless; and was a rejection of that form of government which the Lord had assigned them;
and because God foresaw the great oppressions and cruelties which, through the pride and ambition of their kings, would grow out of it. Accordingly it is said, " He gave them a king in his anger." Their king becarne a scourge of their pride and ambition. These were the consequences of haviug wicked, oppressive, and idolatrous tyrants on the throne. The objection therefore, as respects human government, is not so much against sovereignty in itself considered, as a form of government; as it is against the wicked abuse of sovereignty. But against the sovereignty of God, no such objection can be supported; for it is an infinitely wise and holy sovereignty. It is calculated to promote the peace and welfare of all his peaceable subjects; and to suppress the wicked and rebellious.
To bring out more fully, the idea of God's sovereign, y, we observe further; it consists in his doing his pleasure, in the government and disposal of all his intelligent creatures, in heaven and in earth; or throughout his vast universe. “ And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou ?" Not only is his kingdom univer: sal; but it is also everlasting.“ And I praised and honored him that liveth forever and ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. In all the operations of his government, he is perfectly independent. In him are counsel and might. He needs none to give him advice. He is said to be s in one mind, and none can turn him ; and what his soul desireth, even that he doth.” The holy sovereignty of God is, not only illustrated, but celebrated, as a most joyful theme, in many of the Psalms of David. The following selections are a speci
66 Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the inhabitants of the earth stand in awe of bim; for he spake, and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought; he maketh the devices of the people of none
effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the
66 What shall we say then ? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.”, This sovereign right to dispose of nations, and of individuals, for a diplay of his glory, was what was always claimed by him, in ancient ages. 66 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy ; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him
that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” And here is added the particular idea, that God is the King of Kings. “ For he saith unto Pharaoh,” the haughty king of Egypt, “ Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up,” exalted thee to the throne of Egypt, " that I might shew my power in thee; and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” Here the Apostle listens to the only conceivable objection. “ Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? for who hath resisted bis will p” As if there could have been no fault, on the part of Pharaoh, unless he actually resisted, and defeated, the sovereign and holy will of the Almighty ! “ Nay but, О man! who art thou that repliest against God shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus p» Does your sin (if you acknowledge any sin) consist in your being made thús ? or in your voluntary exercises and conduct, after
you commenced your existence? Let reason, as well as scripture, decide the controversy. But, with regard to the power and right of the great Sovereign of the universe, in the act of creation, “ Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to shew'his wrath, and make his pover known, endureth, with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory?" If God, by his universal sovereignty, makes the most ample display of bis glory, in perfect consistency with the free agency and moral liberty of mankind; what shall we say to these things ? What is our objection? Can we hope to dethrone the Almighty ? Who then shall hold the throne ? Thus the ninth of Romans expresses without reserve, the absolute sovereignty of God, as respects his discriminating grace, which is manifested in the salvation of one people, or one sinner, rather than another. This holy and wise sove
reignty he claims as his own right and prerogative; a right which he can never relinquish, unless he relinquish his Godhead.
Keeping in view the general explanation of God's sovereignty, that it consists in doing his pleasure, directing and controlling all events in the vast universe; we may proceed to notice some particulars, in which his sovereignty is strikingly manifested. In the creation of the world, and in arranging the order of the heavens and the earth, 56 With whoin took he counsel ? or who instructed and taught him in the path of judgment?” Did he not make all things for himself? even for the display of his own glory ? Also in his providential government of the world, has it not appeared clearly, from the view we have taken of the works of divine providence, that, in all his works, God acts the part of an absolute sovereign ? Whoever dictated, or in any measure influenced the divine administration ? God does not even give account of
any of his matters; nor does it become us, in
any case, to say unto him, " What dost thou ?” Alsó in the great and astonishing plan and work of salvation by the Mediator, the sovereignty of God is wonderfully displayed. Mankind were so far from dictating this glorious plan, that when it was revealed, it met with opposition. Without a revelation from God, who could have devised the plan of salvation by an infinite atonement? It was most surely, an act of self-moved, sovereign, infinite wisdom, goodness and grace, which was displayed by the revelation of Jesus Christ, and of the plan of salvation by his cross. Equally, if not more abundantly, is the sovereign grace of God displayed in the application of the atonement, by the actual conviction and conversion of sinners. When we witness the special revival of religion, by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
, and see one and another hopefully brought into the kingdom of Jesus Christ; we are witnesses of divine sovereignty. In no other way can we account for the conviction and conversion of sinners. For it is a known fact, as well as a testimony of Christ, that sinners will not come unto him, that they may have life; and of Christ