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than the fitness of an immediate, absolute, unquestioning obedience to the command of God, he had certainly been overset, and come short of that conduct which was so eminently pleasing to him. But one and another may be ready to say, What can we think of such a command ? Could it be right or fit for a father to sacrifice his son ? Is it not contrary to all the notions we have of duty ? If the obligations of duty be the fitness of things, according to our judgment of them it is. But if these obligations arise from the mere authority of God, it is just the contrary, and Abraham would certainly have sinned had he withholden his only son from God. And therefore this instance, with some others in Scripture, stands eminently forth in proof that it is the authority and command of God which is our only rule of judging anything to be good or evil, and which alone begets obligation of duty. If therefore you shall at any time hear cavils raised against this case of Abraham or others, be upon your guard, and be sensible that they who dispute in this manner are acting over again the conduct of Satan when he tempted Eve, by endeavouring to take you off from the obligations of duty as simply arising from the will and command of God, and to bring you to such subtle inquiries into the fitness and unfitness of God's commands as tend to cast his sovereign authority out of your mind, to make you lose all sense of his dominion, to leave you in all uncertainty and doubt, effectually to weaken all the bands of conscience, and set you at liberty to do as you list, as your corrupted inclinations dispose you.
Thirdly.-It belongs to God's sovereignty to restrain from disobedience by punishment, and to encourage unto submission by promises. The former of these was expressed and the latter implied in the covenant made with Adam, when God said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” To ascertain the measure of these is the prerogative of God, who unquestionably has a right to encourage obedience by rewards infinitely surpassing any excellence there is therein, and who cannot be suspected of punishing sin beyond its desert. You must take heed respecting the one and the other to have your cye on the sovereignty of God, both that you may not question the title he has given you to glory because of the vast disproportion there is between it and your worthless services, if you are in a state of obedience ; and also may not dispute the equitableness of his declared punishments against you, if you are disobedient, and so, screening yourself under the vain hope that he will not punish you at all, remain a rebel. There is, indeed, no proportion between the service we pay God and the reward prepared for us : but there is doubtless an exact proportion between sin and the punishment threatened against it. If you cannot deny that the great Sovereign of the universe may dispense the reward because it is great, so do not set about to persuade yourself he will not inflict the punishment because it is terrible. Beware again here also of making your judgment of what is fit and right the measure of God's sanctions, lest, as in the former case, you would be reasoned out of all religion, so in this latter you should reason yourself into hell. God knows better than you what sin deserves. Debate not against his determinations. As the august Governor of the world, he hath decreed that the wicked shall go away into hell, and all the people that forget God. And can you stop his hand ? Will you say to him, What dost thou ? When you are perished for ever, will you be able to contend, thou art unrighteous in this which thou hast brought upon me? Let God have his place, and know you yours, which is to obey; but if you will not, to suffer that punishment which he, as your rightful and almighty Sovereign, hath decreed against you. Strange that any should contend against the truth of an eternity of torment, when fallen angels are reserved to it; not annihilated (which is the sinner's greatest hope hereafter), but reserved unto the judgment of the great day, to be cast into that fire of divine everlasting wrath which is prepared for them. And if eternal torments are certain, can they be unjust ? Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Yes, my brethren, the Lord will be God, he will govern the world, let the sinners of hell or earth contend as they please; he will make the one and the other know that he judgeth righteously. Lay it to heart, you unwise. You are subject to God's dominion, you know you are.
You are rebelling against him ; you dare not say the contrary. And will he yield up his government ? Shall not he punish ? hold, he cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.” O how will you be able to abide the day of his coming ? The Lord have mercy upon us, and bring us all to repentance, that we experience not what the power and duration of his wrath shall be! But,
Fourthly.—God's dominion also takes in his providence. He is not an indolent and unconcerned, but an observant and active governor. He ordereth all things. Hear what the Scripture saith of the kingdom of Providence ; • the counsel of the Lord shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure.' See this in his government of the inanimate world.
· He commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, and he sealeth up all the stars. God thundereth marvellously with his voice, he directeth his lightnings unto the ends of the earth. He causeth the vapours to ascend, he bringeth forth the winds out of his treasures. He saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth.
Fire and hail, snow and vapour, wind and storm, fulfil his word : he turneth them round about with his counsel, that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them : he causeth them to come, whether for correction or mercy. The Lord giveth rain, the former and latter in his season, that men may gather in their corn, their wine, and their oil : he shutteth up the heavens, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit. He turneth a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. Well, all this God doth. How say then the wise men of the world that there is no such thing as a particular Providence, searching into second causes for the springs of all things ? But see it also in the animal world. Things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts, wait upon him, and he giveth them their meat in due season : he giveth it them, and they gather it: he openeth his hand, and they are filled with good : he hideth his face, and they are troubled : when he taketh away their breath, they die and return to their dust. He feedeth the fowls of the air, and not a sparrow falleth to the ground without him.' What! is there all this too, and yet no such thing as a particular Providence? But see it in the government of kingdoms. · The Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The Lord increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them : he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again, and at what instant he speaketh concerning a nation or a kingdom, to build and to plant it , or to pluck up, and pull down and to destroy it, it shall be and lifteth up.
done.' See it also in particular persons.
• From him cometh every good and perfect gift, neither is there any evil in the world, and the Lord hath not done it. He killeth, and he maketh alive. He numbereth the hairs of our head. Unto God the Lord belong the issues from death : if he gather unto himself the spirit of man, and his breath, all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, are from the Lord. He hideth from the wise and prudent what he revealeth unto babes. He maketh poor, and maketh rich : he bringeth low,
Riches and honour come of him. He maketh the barren woman to be a joyful mother of children. In his hand our breath is, and his are all our ways.' Thus you see how in the kingdom of Providence all things are under God's direction. He ruleth over all, and guideth all things as he pleases. Things great and little are under his care. Nothing comes by chance; and all things, even the most free and voluntary actions, even the deeds of evil men, serve him, and he presides over all to make everything issue to his glory. We are always for reasonings, always full of presumptuous murmurings, and care not that God should rule over us. We are ready to disavow God's dominion, we are ready to debate his commands, we like not his distributive justice, we would be disengaged from his interfering with the things of the world. This is the way of proud sinful man. But it is not the way of our believer ; Jesus has taught him a better lesson. And he says, in correspondence with the whole of God's government, “ I believe in God the Father Almighty.” And his full meaning is this :
• I believe that God the Father holds an absolute, uncontrollable, rightful, and eternal dominion over all creatures, both in heaven and earth ; and, as one of his subjects, however rebellious I have been, yet now, brought back again unto him by Jesus Christ, and emboldened to call him my Father, I do humbly and reverently own his dominion over me; and I do sincerely desire to regard and respect him as my King, Lord, and Master, while I have any being in this world and that which is to come; sincerely purposing, by his grace, that no other Lord shall ever any more have dominion over me, and yielding myself with the full and free choice of my heart, and with all readiness, gladness,
and joyfulness, to be his subject, to serve him only, from this moment unto all ages of eternity.-I do heartily consent to his authority over me, to command me in whatever way he chooses, and I am determined to do whatever he bids me, and to forbear whatever he shall forbid me to do ; respecting, as I do, his command, as the only measure of my duty, and as the grand obligation to my obedience. And I am steadfastly purposed never to dispute his injunctions, be they what they will, but always in a dutiful manner to be satisfied with them, and according to my power to put them into practice, without gainsaying, and however contrary they may be to my carnal interest or inclinations ; being certainly assured that God has an unlimited title to enjoin me whatever he pleases, nor less persuaded that he cannot command ine anything but what is exactly fittest for his glory and my happiness.—And I do further declare, that, as I am perfectly satisfied our Almighty Father has a right to deal with his rebellious subjects in such a manner as he pleases, and as shall best correspond with the honour of his sovereignty and the ends of his government, so he both has dealt and will deal with us all in such manner, 'as that both they who serve him have and shall have infinite reason to adore his mercy and goodness, and they who perish in their disobedience shall not have the least cause of accusing him of cruelty or injustice. I acknowledge him to be righteous in all that he has brought upon me, and it is of his mercies that I am not consumed. And I am so far from thinking his present or future judgments severe, that I cannot complain, whatever he should do with me, having forfeited all right to his favour by my sins, and doing so every day. For which reason I hold it my bounden duty, and what is a debt to his justice and mercy, that I should never murmur under any of his dispensations, that I should receive all his favours as undeserved acts of bounty, and eternal life as his free gift to me in Jesus Christ my Lord.—And, finally, seeing I am assured this eternal King my Father actually ordereth, disposeth, and ruleth all things great and little, not only in heaven, but also here upon earth, according to his pleasure, and in such a wise and sovereign way as his government over us demands, I do therefore heartily desire to submit quietly, thankfully, and observantly, to all -his disposals of me in all things and all circumstances; wishing never