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it is said, that his people shall be willing, in the day of
his power. In the conversion of sinners, we notice the
exceeding greatness of the power and sovereignty of
Jehovah. In nothing does the holy sovereignty of God,
appear more conspicuously, than in the great plan and
1. In attending to this subject, we should be cautious of all prejudice against names and titles. We are liable to attach to the word sovereignty, an idea of something odious and detestable, and on this account, to harbor a prejudice against the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. Could another term be substituted, more expressive of God’s kingly office, we should have no objection. ... But why should this term be more offensive, when applied to God, who is the King of Kings, than when applied to the best of earthly kings P “I am a great king, saith the Lord of hosts.” Wherein does this differ from his saying, “I am a great Sovereign, saith the Lord of hosts P” In both terms, the infinite holiness of God is equally understood. And it is to be feared, that those who object to this term, which is in so common use, and is so well understood; have a secret, if not an open abhorrence of the true doctrine of divine sovereignty.
2. Assured as we are, of all the divine perfections, and especially, of the infinite holiness of . which, as we have found, comprises all his moral perfections; who can avoid rejoicing in his government. Who can cherish a
wish to escape from the absolute dominion of Jehovah P Is not the greatest welfare and happiness of the universe suspended on his wise and holy sovereignty P is not this the ground of every christian's consolation P. If this foundation were destroyed, what could the righteous do 2 Dethrone, in your hearts, the Holy One of Israel, and your case is hopeless. Without the sovereignty of God, the universe also must go to ruin and destruction. And what is of infinitely more consequence is, God must o: o and the great plan of redemption, must be efeated.
HAVING in some preceding essays, considered the marvellous works of God, his works of creation and providence, and the holy sovereignty which he exercises in all his works, especially in his government of the moral system; We may, in the next place, attend to the doctrine of his Decrees. For it is absurd to suppose, that his great and wonderful works, which have been brought into view, could have been performed, without any previous purpose or decree. The Psalmist, when he was about to relate, in a way of prophecy, the glorious things to be accomplished by the Messiah, says, “I will declare the decree.” These things, were the execution of a divine decree. Had there been no decree respecting the coming of Christ, and the great work of redemption, who can suppose it possible, that these works should ever have been accomplished P o
In the discussion of this weighty and important subject, an attempt will be made to prove, that every event in the universe, without exception, goes to the accomplishment of the decrees of God. Of him it is said, as we have no
ticed already, that he “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” His working all things, is the work of divine providence; and the counsel of his own will is his decree. His decree, therefore, as well as his works of providence, extends to all things. It is indeed very evident from reason, as well as scripture, that no rational being can be supposed to act without an established plan and purpose. But the plan and purpose of God constitute his decrees. Admit that he is a rational being, who acts in view of the highest motives, and the doctrine of his decrees is established. It is, at least, evident, that whatever God, or any other rational being does, by his own free and immediate agency, is done in consequence of a decree. And since we have found evidence, that God is an eternal and immutable being; it clearly follows, that all his purposes are eternal and immutable. If we consult the scriptures of truth, on this important subject, we shall find, that God has a purpose, or decree, as well as a providential agency, in the production of all events. All depend on his will and pleasure. Surely, God, who created the heavens and the earth, and the fulness thereof, so that all were pronounced very good, must have had a definite plan of operation. If not, how could he make all things for himself? How could he secure to himself the highest possible glory P. How_could he declare, with the least appearance of truth, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” That the decrees of God extend to all events, is evident from the universality of his providence. If the works of divine providence, or the works of creation, or any other works, extend beyond the divine decrees; then these extra works are altogether undesigned, uncontrolled, and useless. Indeed voluntary, actions are impossible, if they are supposed to be destitute of a purpose or decree. What is there, in the nature of things, which can prompt the divine Being to action, beyond the extent of his purpose or decree F Certainly nothing. Corresponding with the view which we have taken of the decrees of God, we have a very lucid and scriptural definition in the shorter catechism. “The decrees of
God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of
tecedent to his foreknowledge, and must be the only ground of it. God is the cause, the designing and efficient cause of all the objects and events which he foreknows. The order of expression in the scriptures, sometimes implies, that the decree of God precedes his foreknowledge. Particularly, in what is said concerning the delivering of Christ to be crucified. “Him being delivered, by the determinate counsel, and foreknowledge of God, ye }. taken, and by wicked hands, have crucified and slain.” To show, that there is strictly speaking no succession, no fore nor after, in the divine mind; the decree and foreknowledge of God are expressed as being equally eternal. For instance, it is said, “Whon he did foreknow, them he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” The decrees of God evidently extend to all events; because such is the extent of his knowledge. Omniscience evidently rests, on the divine decrees. Eternal foreknowledge, which most people allow and admit to be an essential attribute of God ; presupposes an eternal decree. So that if one is denied, the other must be denied. In scripture it is affirmed, that “ All things are naked and open unto the eyes of him, with whom we have to do.” Of course, all things are unalterably fixed in the divine mind. For if
this were not the case, nothing that is future could be .
known, even by the Deity himself. For nothing but certainties and realities can possibly be the objects of knowledge. Still further to confirm the doctrine of God’s decrees, let it be carefully observed, that all those views and motives which have operated in the divine mind to produce any p". or decrees, are eternally and immutably the same. But if the motives are the same, even from eterni§ why not the decrees P Can it be supposed, that the ivine Being foresaw from eternity, that a certain, definite system of events would make the richest display of his own glory, and in the highest possible degree, promote the ;. good; and yet, that he neglected to ratify and establish that system, by his decree ? If so, where is the evidence of his goodness? If all the benevolent motives