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unto me, why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will ? Nay, but, О man, who art thou, that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 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 show his wrath and to make his power known, endured 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?" The apostle here puts it to the objector to answer his own objection. He implicitly says to him, “ You grant that God does have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. You grant that no man can resist his hardening influence. And you grant that God does find fault with those who disobey his will. Now if there be any difficulty in this case, it belongs to you rather than to me to remove it. I have only taught facts which you do not pretend to deny. But you draw an inference froin the facts I have stated, which you insinuate is an insuperable difficulty. You ask why God should find fault with men for any thing they do under his irresistible influence; insinuating that they cannot act freely and voluntarily under a divine irresistible influence. But this inference does not follow from the premises granted, but is contrary to two plain well-known facts. One fact is, that God has made mnen. The other fact is, that he has made them capable of acting freely and voluntarily under his irresistible influence. Their accountability, therefore, arises not from their being made, but from their being made what they are, and what they know they are, free, rational, voluntary, moral agents. They intuitively know that they are worthy of praise or blame, for all their free voluntary actions, though God works in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure. To deny, therefore, that they are not worthy of praise or blame, for their free, voluntary actions under a divine influence or moral necessity, is implicitly to deny that God has made them, and made them what they know they are, and what they know he had a power and right to make them; that is, free, voluntary, moral, accountable agents. This is extremely unreasonable, unscriptural and criminal.
3. If men have no right nor reason to complain of God for making them what they are, and what he was pleased to make them, then they have no reason to complain that he determined from eternity to make them what he has made them, and what he will make them through every period of their existence. He has certainly a right to determine beforehand to do that which he has a right to do afterwards. As he had a right to make
men just what he pleased, at first, so he had a right to determine to make them what he pleased at first. And as he had a right to make them what he pleased as long as they should exist, so he had a right to determine what he would make them for ever. As he had a right to make Adam what he was before he sinned and when he sinned, so he had a right to determine from eternity to make him what he was before he sinned and when he sinned. And he had the same right to determine from eternity what he would make his posterity when they come into the world, while they live in the world, and as long as they exist As he had a right to make men different from one another in respect to their intellectual faculties and moral qualities, so he had a right to determine to make them different from one another through the whole period of their existence. Every objection that can be made against the eternal purposes of God, lies with equal weight against the conduct of God in making men what he does make them, and what he has an original and sovereign right to make them. And for any one to object against God's doing what he has an independent right to do, is extremely presumptuous and inexcusable.
4. If men have no reason to complain of God for making them what they know they are, then they are all by nature totally depraved. For they are all naturally disposed to com. plain that God has made them thus. They complain of this, more than of any thing that God does in his providence, or says in his word. Indeed, all their objections against God may be traced to the doctrine of man's absolute dependence and free agency. Mankind almost universally unite in calling this an unreasonable and absurd doctrine, though it is plainly revealed in the Bible from beginning to end. This objection arises not from reason or experience, but from a total aversion to being absolutely in the hands of God as the clay is in the hands of the poiter. They would all fain flee out of his hand. This is not the natural disposition of one, or two, or a few of mankind, but the natural disposition of all. They are all there. fore naturally enemies to God. They either say that there is no such God as the Bible represents, or if there is, they inwardly say that he shall not reign over them. They are displeased that he has made them as he has, and that he has made them the offspring of Adam, and caused them to share in the natural and moral evils of the fall. They say often that they had rather never existed than to exist the depraved offspring of Adam who ruined them. This language and feeling demon. strate that they have naturally a carnal mind which is enmity against God, not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. It is the spirit of the first transgressor, and the greatest enemy to God.
5. If men have no reason to complain of God for making them what they are; then whenever they seriously contend with him on this account, they will be constrained to justify God and condemn themselves. Whenever God thoroughly awakens sinners to attend to their absolute dependence upon him, their hearts never fail to rise, to object, to murmur and complain. But thousands have been convinced of the absurdity and criminality of their complaints. And God can always convince them, if he pleases. For they are rational, as well as moral agents, and capable of feeling the weight and authority of divine truth. When any truth is clearly and fully set before the reason and conscience of any person, it is impossible for him to disbelieve it, whether he loves or hates it. His conviction of truth does not depend merely upon his heart. His reason and conscience may be convinced, while his heart hates the conviction. All sinners are constantly liable to be convinced that all their complaints against God, for making and governing them as he does, are groundless and criminal. They may be convinced to-day or to-morrow; and they certainly will be sooner or later.
6. If it be true that men have no reason to complain of God for making them just such as he pleases, then it is their indispensable duty to be willing to be in the forming hand of God to all eternity. And they ought never to feel or express a desire to get out of his hand. God's absolute sovereignty calls for their immediate and unconditional submission. And let them say or do what they will, they will remain his enemies until they do actually and cordially submit themselves entirely and for ever into his holy and sovereign hands.
SERMON X X X.
WHEREFORE if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-marzo is cast into the oven, shall be not much more clothe you,
Oye of little faith? - MATT. vi. 30.
Our Saviour as often addressed his disciples as others, in his public as well as his private discourses.
He lost no opportunities of instructing and preparing them for the great and difficult, and dangerous work in which he was about to employ them. He meant to send them forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, without arms, without purse, without scrip, to preach the gospel in the face of a frowning world. And to prepare them for such a dependent and defenceless state, he taught them to place an unshaken dependence upon the care and protection of divine providence. “Seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain; and when he was set, his disciples came unto him. And he opened his mouth, and taught them," as well as the multitudes. And among other duties, he clearly and beautifully illustrated the duty and safety of trusting not only in the universal, but in the particular providence of God, for the peculiar comfort and consolation of his disciples, when they should be thrown poor and defenceless on the world. “I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air ; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?". “ And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies
of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin ; and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of
little faith?” Here the argument is from the less to the greater. | If God takes care of the lilies, and all the inanimate creation,
will he not take care of the fowls and all the animal creation ? And if he takes care of all the animate and inanimate creation, will be not take care of all the intelligent creation? If God exercises a general providence over the natural world, will he not exercise a particular providence over the natural world ? And if he exercises a general and particular providence over the natural world, will he not exercise a general and particular providence over the moral world ? Christ appeals to the common sense of all mankind, whether they have not reason to believe that God, who made the world and all that is in it, does exercise a particular, as well as a general providence over it; and whether they have not good ground to confide in his constant and particular care over them, and disposal of them.
The spirit of the text may be expressed in this general observation :
That God exercises a particular providence over every thing in this world. I shall,
1. Explain a particular providence; and,
I. I am to explain what we are to understand by a particular providence.
Many infidels, and some who do not choose to call themselves infidels, deny that God exercises a particular providence over the world. They acknowledge that he exercises a general providence over all the natural and moral creation, but deny that he governs individual creatures, persons, or events. They suppose that he governs the world by general laws, which he impressed upon it when he willed it into existence; which laws he will continue in force as long as it exists. These general laws, they suppose, leave room for what we call contingencies. They suppose all things roll on through a vast variety of contingent events, according to the first impressions of motion that were given to them by the first Mover, and under the direction of a universal providence. As to the tribes of lower animals, they are left under the direction of instinct; and as to men, God has given them the materials of natural and moral happiness in the natural and moral constitution of things. He has given them also faculties and powers necessary to collect and apply these materials, and carry on the work of their