« EdellinenJatka »
reverence, we might pursue it to the very close of life, making it our constant meditation, by day and by night, and, when eternity shall take the place of time, proceed with vastly increased vigour and satisfaction, and never find an end to so glorious and happy an exercise !
The practical atheist only will deny, that the Judge of all the earth will do right. But is it enough, that we give an unfeeling and an uninterested assent to this truth, taking no pains to look into the counsels and works of God to find the actual proofs of his boundless unimpeachable rectitude, and to see how his wisdom and goodness are carried into effect ? Surely it is most pleasant and edifying to the holy soul to make observation upon the conduct of providence, to trace the methods, in which an infinite God brings out to view the essential benignity of his nature. In doing this we are not left to guess at the end from the complexion of the means. The end is certain, and our minds need only to be exercised in observing by what modes of procedure it is to be accomplished.
As an agent looking forward to an object, and exerting himself to attain it, God, it is manifest, must be furnished to what he has undertaken, or else there can be no hope of his success. And one essential principle, in addition to others before brought into view, is this, viz. that God must be absolutely and eternally free from all influence, except what is in himself. If this be not essential to the
Deity, it is not infallibly certain, that he will inflexibly adhere to the best plan of government; that he will exhibit such integrity and uprightness, as will sufficiently author. ize and encourage all creatures to place confidence in him. Accordingly the apostle de. clares to the Ephesians, in four separate in. stances, within the compass of a few verses in the beginning of his epistle, that what God has done and is doing from before the foundation of the world, is according to the dictates of his own will and good pleasure. He declares himself to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God," that God hath .predestinated us to the adoption of childrení by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself ;" and, finally, that he “ worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." These expresa sions of the apostle directly prove the independence of the divine will, in respect to influence; that God performs his works of providence and grace out of regard to himself, and not out of regard to any other. The motive of his actions is not from abroad; but entirely within himself. Being under foreign or exterior influence means this, viz. that one acts thus or so, not simply because it is agreeable to his own will, but because it is agreeable to the will of another. Thus, if a master has a servant he is fond of gratify.' ing, and receives from him a request for some
indulgence ; in bestowing the favour, he acts under the influence of his servant ; not that he acts unwillingly, or by constraint ; but having, originally, no motive of his own to the action, he is supplied by the servant. The case supposes he did not design what he did until moved by request. He cannot, therefore, be said to act without the influ. ence of another. It is not possible, that the will of God should be influenced by any other being whatever. This would imply' a loss of independence. For in proportion as one is directed by influence from another person, he becomes dependent, at least, in respect to that, to which the influence extends. That nothing of this kind can be attributed to God, we shall argue
First. From the express representations of scripture: And
Secondly. From the consideration, that it would render him unworthy of confidence.
The scriptures, which directly establish the point, that God is under no influence, in any of his works, from other beings, are very numerous. We shall select a few, which appear to be unequivocally to the purpose, and leave it to the hearer to advert to others, as his recollection, or reading, may serve him. And in the work of creation God is expressly said to be uninfluenced, to perform the work, out of regard to no will but his own. “ The Lord hath made all things for himself.” It is said in the Revelation, « Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and hon.
or, and power :' for thou hast created all things; and for thy pleasure they are, and were created.” The same is expressed in terms equally definite by the apostle to the Colossians. “For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by him and for him.' If the making of the world and all things in it was for God, or to subserve his pleasure, as well as by the strength of his hand, it ́undeniably follows, that all influence from without himself was excluded. If any created thing was made for angels, or men, whether in whole, or only in part, it could not be properly said to be for God, at least, not without some qualification, or restriction. If two men in partnership, as A and B, employ a workman to construct and rear up a building for them ; would it be proper for the workman, if asked for whom he had built it,' to answer, that it was for A, or that it was for B? It is a plain case, that neither of them could claim the property singly. The builder was under the influence of the one, as much as of the other, when performing the work ; because his reward was to be receive ed from them conjointly. So in like manner, had God, in the work of creation, regarded any will but his own, it could not be properly and truly said, that all things were made for him. If he made the world for himself, no end was to be answered by it but his own ;
and consequently, all the motive, or influ. ence, under which he acted, must be within himself.--Again. In the work of salvation, God is represented as under no outward, or borrowed, influence ; but as acting for himself merely, or in sole conformity to his own will. The passages, which have already been recited from the context, are to this effect, Others of similar import may be adduced. When God advertised his people, in ancient times, of a gracious work he was about to perform upon them, such as cleansing them from all their filthiness and their idols, and giving them a new heart &c. he proceeds to caution them against imputing it to any influence from themselves.
Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.” Moses speaks similar language to the people, when about to pass over Jordan into the land of the Canaanites. “Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land ; but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord şware unto they fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” It was to answer his own purposes, to establish and support his own character as a faithful,covenantkeeping God, that the Lord made a way for his people into a land, which he had given