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whole universe shall know that he is the LORD, and the whole system be filled with his glory..
And the omniscient almighty God, perfectly conscious of all this, enjoys bimself, absolutely superior to so much as one uncomfortable idea ; and without the least uneasiness, in perfect tranquillity, is possessed of an infinite degree of happiness. Or to express all in one' word, he is over all God blessed for ever. Of whom, and by whom, and to whom, are all things ; to whom be glory for ever. "Amen.
And what if we cannot see fully into the reasons of the divine conduct in the permission of sin, shall we think he has acted unwisely? Shall we think he does not mean to do what is best? Shall we give up the absolute perfection of the divine nature? Shall we ungod our Maker? rather than suspect our own judgment! Or shall we give up our belief of the perfect happiness of the infinitely glorious and blessed God, and believe him to be a very miserable being, rather than to think, that he can be pleased with that very plan, which he has in fact chosen, before all possible plans ? Or if he is perfectly pleased with his own plan, shall we fly in his face? Charge him with being the author of sin ? and represent the devil, as the greatest saint, and God as the greatest sinner? as you seem to have, dear sir, witli dreadful boldness, ventured to do. (p. 16, 17*.) Wherefore,
Were it natural to all mankind, heartily to acquiesce in all the dispensations of divine providence, as being perfectly wise, holy, just, and good, excepting only the permission of sin, it would not seem so likely, at first glance, that the fault was wholly in us in this case. It would be a strange case. And we might be more at a loss to account for it. But it is not at all uncommon or strange for mankind to dislike the divine conduct in other instances, as well as this. Thus, it is a common thing for the crosses and troubles of life to sit heavy on the spirits of mankind. And a general murmuring goes round the world. And thousands think that none meet with so much trouble as themselves; and that they have good reason to be discontented. Yet if they have good reason to be discontented, they are not to blame ; but the fault is in God, in whose band the rod is, and from whom all our afflictions come. O, how hard is it for many a one under great afflictions to bring their hearts sweetly to approve of the divine conduct, ayd love and bless the God that chastises them! O how difficult to get and maintain that frame of spirit, which holy Job expressed in these words, The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away : blessed be the name of the Lord! But whence arises all this difficulty? Not from any fault in God, all whore ways are wise, holy, just, and good. It is really best, most for
5. I pray you lay it down for a maxim, that sin ‘is, in its own nature, just exactly the same abominable odious thing,
the honour of God and good of mankind, that this apostate race, who have rebelled against the great King of the universe, turned their backs upon the God that made them, and are idolizing the good things of this world, should be thus chas. tised, that they may know, that it is an evil and bitter thing to despise the Lord, to forsake the fountain of all good, and be experimentally convinced that all cisterns are broken cisterns ; and driven to an absolute necessity to confess their sin, humble themselves, forsake their idols, and return to the only true and living God. But naturally we do not love to have our hearts humbled, weaned from the world, and to have God for the alone portion of our souls. And as we do not like the ends, so we cannot be pleased with the means. Did we like the one, the other might appear full of wisdom and beauty. If all the dispensations of providence were calculated to render us rich, honourable, and happy, in the fulness of all earthly good things, no reproach, no sickness, no losses, no troubles of any kind, that this world might be our heaven and our home, this would suit such ungodly, proud, worldly hearts as ours naturally are ; and we could love such a God, and think well of all his ways. But, alas! besides all our present troubles, we are soon to die, leave this world we are so fond of, and to go and appear before our Judge, and receive according to our deeds. This is still more shocking. O how glad would many be, if there was no such thing as death, and no such day as the day of judgment! But above all, nothing is so dreadful as the eternal torments of hell. This shocks thousands and millions, and tempts them to call in question all the divine perfections. Especially, when all this is threatened in God's law, for the first transgression, for the least sin. (Gal. ii. 10.)
Now, if it is as difficult to bring our hearts to be reconciled to all this, as to God's permitting sin ; although in all these particulars we must own God's conduct is wise, holy, just, and good, or give up the whole of divine revelation at once ; have we not great reason to think that there is something amiss on our own hearts ? some general cause which produces all these effects ? And if we are in. deed natively enemies to God in the temper of our minds, as the Scriptures teach, it is not strange that we should feel a general dislike to all his ways. If we are blind to his glory, and regardless of his honour, and unconcerned about the spiri. tual good of the system, the best good of God's holy and eternal kingdom ; and attached only to our own particular, unholy, and merely carnal interests, it is not strange that we should dislike the divine conduct towards the intellectual system, as much as the Israelites in the wilderness did God's conduct towards them. (Rom. viji. 5--11.) For, although on the whole, greater glory may be brought to God, and greater spiritual good to the system; yet if our hearts naturally are not suit. ed with God's ends, neither will they be with his means : and so his whole plan, instead of appearing perfect in wisdom, glory, and beauty, may look as dark and gloomy to us, as did the divine dispensations to Israel of old. On the whole, I think we have infinitely more reason to believe, that the fault is in us, than in God: and that it much better becomes us to suspect our own hearts, than to "doubt whether God does what is most for his own glory.” See these senti. ments more enlarged upon in my sermons. (p. 43—49. 103.) VOL. 11.
and not one whit the better, because God permits it to be, and because he intended, and because he will over-rule it to good. And believe it firmly, and act upon it steadily, that there is not the least imaginable reason to suspect the wisdom of the whole, or of any part of the divine conduct; because we cannot see what good ends he can have in view. The truth of both which observations bas been at large illustrated already.
Is it pot pride, my brother, unsufferable pride, in us, poor contemptible worms, to get up into the judgment-seat, call Almighty God to our bar, examine his conduct, and then boldly pronounce it bad ? And publicly tell the world, that he has not done that " which is most for his own glory?" And all, because we cannot see the reasons of his conduct, although we know at the same time, that our views are so contracted, that we are no proper judges ; and that it is impossible we should prove his present plan not to be the best? Yea, to be so engaged to slur our Maker's conduct, as to be vexed with a fellow-worm, who thinks it impossible God should act unwisely, and would therefore speak in behalf of the injured Majesty of heaven, and plead his cause, and endeavour to justify his ways to men ? And with indignation to cry out, “ You have no right to be so violently confident, that the present scheme is most for God's glory and the good of the moral system ;” “I can offer reasons sufficient to balance your's, and make the contrary appear higly probable !” (p. 5, 6.) For I think, I can prove that in fact, God does not do what is most for his own glory :” and it is a mere fallacy” to pretend that he “is obliged to do it!" (p. 12, 13.)
I Pray you, sir, give up this impious, blasphemous, principle, that “God does not do what is most for his glory.” And if you think it condescension, pray condescend, at least so far as to believe that God knows better than you do; and is infinitely more concerned, than you ever was, to do as well as he knows how. You would think it an intolerable reflection, if all your acquaintance should join to give you this character, viz. that in your daily conduct, and even in the most important affairs, you do not make conscience of acting according to your best judgment. O, blush, be ashamed, and be confounded, and never open your mouth to justify the impious reflection, you have, in the sight of all the country, cast upon the character of the Holy One of Israel. Lest, if you allow yourself, Pharaoh-like, to oppose your Maker, you, in the end, meet the same dreadful fate.
Rather, let us seek divine grace, from the God of all grace, that our hearts may be prepared to approve and love the works and ways of God, that when they shall in the next world more fully open to our view, we may be ready to join the general assembly of heaven, and cry," AMEN, HALLELUJAH!" O, let us get an heart to love his law, and to love the gospel of his Son, and heartily approve the daily dispensations of his providence ; all which, analogous to the whole of his universal plan, are calcutated to exalt God, and humble the creature. And if we can be but heartily reconciled to those parts of the divine government, which are more near to our view; we shall be prepared heartily to approve of those parts, which are more remote ; yea, and of the whole. For it is all of a piece.
When a sinner is at first savingly converted, he sees but a very small part of God's universal plan of government; but what he sees, he heartily approves and loves. And so he begins to be habitually prepared to approve and love the whole. He grows up into this divine temper. At the day of judgment this divine temper will be perfect. And so then he will be perfectly prepared to approve, admire, and with all his heart love and delight in God's universal plan ; which then will be opened to the view of the intellectual system. But those who, when on earth, had not the least disposition to approve and love any part of God's moral government, rightly understood, but were enemies to God, to his law, and gospel, and common dispensations of his providence towards mankind in this world, will, when the whole of God's universal plan is opened to view, feel no approbation ; but rather their enmity against God and all his ways, will break out and rage to perfection to eternal ages.
Wherefore, 6. And lastly, instead of indulging a quarrelling, cavilling, disputatious temper, and spending our precious time in finding fault with God's ways; let us rather spend our leisure hours,
in reading God's holy word, and in fervent prayer for divine instruction,
It had been infinitely wiser for the Israelites in the wilderness to have spent their time in prayer to God, than in murmuring against him. Their corruptions made them so blind that they could not see: and then they laid all the blame upon God. For which God doomed them 10 wander and fall in the wilderness, and never reach the holy land. And they were our ensamples; and these things were written for our instruction. O, therefore my brother, let us in this benighted world, how dark soever things appear, not cavil against any of the ways of God; but rather humbly cry to him for divine grace, to enable us to believe, thoroughly to believe, that "supreme wisdom cannot err." And accordingly," heartily to acquiesce in the dispensations of supreme wisdom ; and humbly admire and adore, where we cannot fully comprehend ;' in a firm belief that all the affairs of the universe are by him conducted in such an infinitely perfect manner, as that when “ full day shall be poured on all the ways and works of God," they will appear in such a light as to bring the greatest glory to God, and good to the system; and so fill all holy beings with“ unspeakable joy," and the most exalted thoughts of God. And even be a source of eternal instruction, and means of the swiftest progress in humility, holiness and happiness, in the intellectual system for ever and ever. While all join in eternal praises to the infinitely wise God, of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things : to whom be glory for ever. Amen.