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bearance of us than others? It may be (o that it may !) that God designs to melt our stubborn hearts by his kindness. Delay then no longer. Lift up your heart with me and say, God be merciful to me a sinner! I yield, O Lord, at length. I admire thy long-suffering. I will tempt it no longer. O pardon my iniquity, for it is great. Wash me in the blood of the Lamb, and let thy good Spirit cleanse this foul heart, and make it new!
With what grateful admiration should believers reflect on the days that are past! The weeks, the months, the years when God” waited to be gra. cious." Long did he stand at the door and knock, before it was opened ; and in the mean time, how many a neighbour, a friend, a companion perhaps of iniquity,
was snatched away they were taken, but you were left; left till you heard the voice of the Son of God, and lived. O'tis a heart-melting consideration, that God should spare you, as a man spareth his son, till he brought you up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, set your a rock, and established your goings. O to grace what a debtor are you! Will you not henceforth sing his praise, admire his patience, and devote yourself to his service? How reasonable is it also that you should, 3. Resemble the God of Patience.
We cannot have the same occasion for patience as he has, for we are not the rulers of the world ; yet some occasion for it we shall certainly find. Some injuries from our fellow-creatures we must expect ; some degree of opposition even for Christ's sake. But the patience of God must make us patient. Good men have sometimes failed here. Even Moses, meek as he was, was so offended by the stubborn Israelites, that he angrily called them Rebels. How unlike to God are those persons who are all in a flame at the slightest provocation, and meditate revenge under the pretence of a regard to honour. Even Christians themselves, in their families and in
feet upon their churches, discover too little of this amiable and God-like grace: but true Christian love “suffereth long and is kind; beareth all things, and is not easily provoked.” O let the patience of God engage you to possess your souls in patience ! Remember the instructive parable, in which our Lord reproves the cruel creditor, whose immense debt of ten thousand talents had been freely forgiven, but who went out and seized by the throat his fellow-servant, who owed him only a hundred pence. How ungrateful, how inconsistent, how provoking was his conduct! Let us, however, “forbear one another in love, and forgive one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven us."
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.
Psalm exv. 3. But our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever
he hath pleased.
HE sovereignty of God is a sublime and difficult
subject, yet very important and useful. Some of the divine perfections may, perhaps, appear to our selfish minds more amiable and attractive ; but there is none in which our obedience and submission to him are more deeply concerned. Some of his át. tributes may seem more clearly to invite our confidence, and engage our affection ; but as creatures in a state of subjection and trial, we are peculiarly interested in the divine sovereignty. It is necessary that we should be well established in this doctrine, that we may with sincerity pray, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven;" and that in the hour of adversity we may be able to say—“ It is the Lord, let him do as seemeth him good.”
Sovereignty signifies in general, Supremacythe possession of supreme power-a right to govern without the control of another; or, as in our text, a power to act as one pleases. This right is here ascribed to God, and can belong to no other in the same sense or degree. Puny mortals, conquerors, and tyrants, have
frequently assumed this right, and have exercised it over a small portion of this little globe, and over a few millions of their fellow-mortals; and history has awfully shewn how unfit man is to be VOL. III.
entrusted with sovereignty unrestrained; for great men are too often the subjects of an infernal sovereign, and slaves of their own bad passions; they are proud, ambitious, cruel, selfish, and misinformed: therefore, the common sense and common interest of mankind have led them to prefer limited monarchies, and to restrain human sovereignty within reasonable bounds; but the great, holy, and blessed God is incapable of any of these evils, and is perfectly qualified to exercise unlimited sovereignty over the whole universe, whatever worlds and beings it may contain, known or unknown to us.
Our present business shall be to establish and improve this great scriptural doctrine, that the glorious God has a right to exercise dominion over all his creatures, and to do, in all respects, as he pleases.
This right naturally results from his being the Former and the Possessor of heaven and earth. Who can dispute his right? He made all things; he supports all things ; and is it not fii that he should govern all things ? “ For his pleasure they are, and were created;"-may he then not do with them as he pleases? especially when we consider that
He is infinitely wise. He perfectly knows all his creatures, all their actions, and all their tendencies. He is acquainted with the great plan which his own infinite mind projected before the beginning of time, and of which the wisest men know nothing, but that " he hath made all things for himself, to shew forth his own glory.” As little children, however acute, cannot comprehend the movements of a large machine, or the operations of a manufactory, or the affairs of government, so we short-sighted mortals, whatever be our attainments, are unqualified to judge of the management of the universe ; but we know that he is wise, and should rejoice to think that “the Lord reigneth."
He is also infinitely righteous. His sovereign rule is not that of a haughty tyrant; but of a most righteous and holy Governor. * Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” Yes ; he cannot do wrong. His ways may be, to our apprehension, mysterious : his paths may be " in the sea, and his footsteps in the mighty waters," so that we may not be able to trace him : “clouds and darkness may be round about him,” so that we may not clearly discern him; but justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” It is the pride of man that arraigns the divine procedure at the bar of his reason, and concludes that this is right, and that is wrong, according as it agrees or disagrees with human notions and practices. God's ways and thoughts may differ widely from ours, but they are all right. “ Just and true are all thy ways, O King of Saints.”
He is also infinitely good. We may not always be able to discern the goodness of God. In particular instances, his dealings with men may seem severe ; but we are bound to believe, from the essential goodness of his nature, that none of his actions are inconsistent with it. In human affairs, the imprisonment or execution of a criminal, may appear to an ignorant spectator a cruel action ; but the intelligent onserver knows that the general good of society is promoted by the punishment of evil doers. A child can hardly be prevailed upon to swallow a nauseous medicine, however necessary ; but an adult person receives it as a benefit, calculated to restore his health and preserve his life ; he will even submit to the amputation of a limb for the same purpose. Probably, those things in the course of Provi. dence which seem the most severe, are equally necessary; and the destruction of whole cities or na. tions
may be so, for aught we can tell : at least we may, with great propriety, say of God
“ Good when he gives, supremely good,
Nor less when he denies ;
Are blessings in disguise."