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est thou?” Such a realizing sense of divine sovereignty, always has a natural tendency to bring good men to unreserved submission, under the correcting hand of God. For,
1. While they realize the nature of his sovereignty, they cannot help seeing the true ground or reason of submission. His sovereignty results from his SUPRE
He is supreme in every natural and moral excellence, which gives him an absolute right and power to act independently of all other beings in the uni
When he acts as a sovereign, he neither solicits their assistance, nor asks their advice, nor consults their views, their desires, or their feelings. Hence his sovereignty is omnipotent and irresistible.
In the exercise of it, he overturneth and removeth mountains; he shaketh the earth out of its place; he stoppeth the sun in its course, and sealeth up the stars. “He is in one . mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.” “When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him.” “Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him?" It must be reasonable to submit to such omnipotent sovereignty, because it is presumption to resist, or to say to him who is mighty in power, “What doest thou?” “Whoever hardened himself against him, and prospered?” God is wise in heart, and his sovereignty is always exercised agreeably to his unerring wisdom. Though he does not give to any of his creatures the reasons of his conduct; yet he always has good, yea, the best reasons for his most mysterious and sovereign dispensations of providence. He acts in the clear and comprehensive view of all things past, present, and to come. It is morally impossible, that he should ever make a designed or undesigned mistake, in any of his dealings
towards his intelligent creatures. His sovereignty consists in acting from wiser reasons, than the united wis. dom of angels and men could suggest. And surely it becomes them to submit their finite to his infinite understanding, and their erring to his unerring wisdom. Besides, the sovereignty of God is not only omnipotent and omniscient, but perfectly benevolent. God is love, and his love dictates every sovereign act of his providence. He is good unto all, and his tender mercies are over all his works; and as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. He displays paternal tenderness, when he taketh away, as well as when he giveth. In a word, his sovereignty displays the bright assemblage of all his natural and moral perfections. It has a natural tendency, therefore, to bow the hearts of all his friends to unreserved submission. It is, indeed, the only thing, which lays them under moral obligation to submit to his disposing will. If he did not act as a wise, benevolent, and omnipotent sovereign; or if he were under the least influence of any other being, in the dispensations of providence, he would not be worthy of their cordial and unreserved submission. But when they realize the nature and perfection of his sovereignty, they are sweetly constrained to feel and say as Job did, "Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord? and shall we not receive evil?"
2. God designs to bring his children to submission, when he gives them a realizing sense of his holy and righteous sovereignty. He can excite other gracious affections in their hearts, by other means. He can awaken their love, their gratitude, and praise, by his word, or by his ordinances, or by the smiles of his providence. But nothing short of a realizing sense of his sovereignty under his correcting hand, is sufficient
to bring them to submission. Whenever he throws them in the dust, sinks them in sorrow, and tears from their hearts the dear objects of their affections, he means to bring them to a cordial resignation to his sovereignty. It is only, if need be, that he ever afflicts and bereaves them. But there would be no occasion for his throwing them into the furnace of affliction, if any thing besides a realizing sense of his sovereignty would soften their hearts to submission. And since he makes use of this severe method to reduce them to a humble, submissive spirit, we may well suppose, that this is the method, which has the most natural tendency to produce this effect in their hearts. God always employs the most proper means to accomplish his own designs. It is certain, however, that we cannot conceive of any thing better adapted to lead saints to submission, than a realizing sense of divine sovereignty. And it seems that God himself knew of no better method to bring his people of old to proper views and feelings. “Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will melt them and try them: for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?” But it will more fully appear, that a realizing sense of the sovereignty of God naturally tends to lead his friends to unreserved submission, if we consider,
3. That it has so often produced this desirable effect in their hearts. Though they have sometimes murmured and repined under afflictions, yet a realizing Sense of God's sovereign right to dispose of them, has eventually brought them to a cheerful resignation to his will. Job no sooner heard of the complicated evils brought upon him, than he saw the sovereign hand of God iu them which instantaneously reduced him to perfect resignation. “Then Job answered and said, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: bles
sed be the name of the Lord” Though after this, he frequently felt and expressed hard and murmuring thoughts of God; yet a realizing view of divine sovereignty as frequently tranquilized his mind, and softened it into submission. When God demanded, “Shall be that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the Lord and said, Behold I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will proceed no further.” God continues, however, to proclaim his sovereignty by a series of pointed and awful interrogations. “Then Jub answered the Lord and said again, I know that thou canst do every thing. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye
seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Such was the effect of a realizing sense of God's sovereignty upon the heart of Job; it silenced all his objections, restrained all his opposition, and prostrated him in silent submission at the foot of his Maker.
When Samuel denounced the displeasure of God against Eli, and foretold the dire calamities coming upon him, his pious mind instantly turned upon the sovereignty of God, which bowed his will to the divine will. Having heard the dreadful message, which was designed to make his ears, and the ears of all Israel to tingle, he solemnly paused, and then uttered these memorable words: “It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good.” His submission was unreserved; he was willing to bear whatever a holy and sovereign God should please to lay upon him.
God bereaved Aaron of two sons in one day, on a solemn occasion, and in an awful manner. Though his case was distressing beyond description, yet Moses
admonished him to suppress every token of sorrow, and conduct with that calmness and submission, which became the dignity of his sacred office. Aaron conducted accordingly. The account is this. “Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” His silence spoke louder than words, and emphatically said, “Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
God's dealings with the Shunamite were designed to display his sovereignty and her submission. He gave her a son in sovereignty, and in sovereignty took him away. When she was suddenly and unexpectedly bereaved of her darling child, she went to the man of God for direction and relief. But he declined to see her or hear her speak, and sent his servant to ask her, “Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well.” She realized, she loved, and she submitted to the sovereignty of God.
A realizing sense of the sovereignty of God in afflicting and bereaving David, led him to feel and to express the genuine spirit of submission. He was able to say unto God in the sincerity of his heart, after he had gone through the fiery trial, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.”
While Paul was returning from a long journey to Jerusalem, a certain prophet named Agabus forewarned him of the danger of returning to that city. Whereupon all his friends unitedly entreated him to desist from his purpose. But he was so entirely reconciled to the sovereignty of God in the dispensations of providence, that he reproved and rejected their unsubmis