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dares to rise in rebellion!
"Against thee have
When Job, in the heat of controversy, had spoken irreverently concerning God; his friends accused him of hypocrisy, and of crimes of which he was consciously innocent; and even Elihu bore too hard upon him: so that he was not convinced or humbled on that account. But, when "Je"hovah spoke to him from the whirlwind," though he did not deign to argue on the justice of his dispensation, but merely exhibited before him some displays and illustrations of his greatness, power, and majesty; he soon brought Job to submit, to plead guilty, and to say, "I am vile," "I abhor "myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
St. Paul also seems to have taken up this subject in the same manner, when he answers an irreverent caviller against the dealings of God with his creatures; "Nay, but, O man, who art thou "that repliest against God?" Consider what a frail, short sighted, and erring creature thou art, ' even in common things; and darest thou pre'sume to dispute against God on such deep sub'jects as are evidently beyond thy comprehension, or even thy investigation?' "Canst thou by "searching find out God? Canst thou find out "the Almighty to perfection? It is higher than "heaven, what canst thou do? It is deeper than 66 hell, what canst thou know ?” "Oh the depth "of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge "of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, " and his ways past finding out!"
Many objections often raised, not without a
great mixture of presumption, against the doc-
It may, however, be observed, that many of these objections press equally upon every religious system, and not on any one in particular. It is evident that sin and misery do exist and abound. It is undeniable that the Almighty could have prevented the existence of these evils, or limited their progress. To argue then against what he hath done or permitted, because we, blind and ignorant sinners, fancy he might have done better, is nothing less than blasphemy; and, carried to its consequences, directly opposes every kind of religion.
Again, it is evident in fact that man is depraved : and we need only to judge the conduct of the world, as recorded in history, by the simple rules of loving God supremely, and loving our neighbour as ourselves; and the inference is undeniable. Now, if depravity proportionably excuses criminal conduct, then, the more any creature is depraved, the fuller justification of his actual wickedness he posThis excuses all the rebellion and malignity of fallen men and fallen angels, throws all the blame of sin on the Almighty himself, who did not see good to prevent its existence; and of course
renders it impossible that " God should judge the "world." But, whatever proves too much, by all the rules of fair argument is allowed to prove nothing,
"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I "cannot attain unto it." The dictates of conscience and of common sense are in this case far preferable to presumptuous reasonings on things evidently beyond our capacity. "To man he saith, The fear "of the Lord, that is wisdom and to depart from "evil that is understanding." "Secret things be"long unto the Lord our God: but the things "that are revealed belong to us."
The Psalmist in the context speaks on this subject. "I have done this evil in thy sight, that "thou mightest be justified in thy saying, and "clear when thou art judged. Behold I was
shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother con"ceive me!" Did the royal penitent mean to urge this as an extenuation of his crimes? Certainly not, but to shew that they were not occasional slips, but the effect of a depraved nature. "As "saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness "proceedeth from the wicked." And therefore he prays, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and "renew a right spirit within me."
When we consider the majesty and greatness of God, we may well be abashed at the consideration of our rebellions against him: but the discovery of his glorious excellency, of the perfection of his loveliness and beauty, is calculated to give us still deeper views of the criminality of our conduct. His omnipotence and omniscience, and omnipresence, and all his natural attributes, constitute his
greatness: but his infinite wisdom, justice, truth and love, constitute his holiness and goodness. The display of his greatness should awe us into reverential submission: but that of his goodness should win us to admiring, adoring love. "Thy name only "is excellent, and thy praise is above heaven and "earth." And what can be more irrational and perverse, than to neglect, despise, or dislike infinite loveliness and excellence? What more reasonable than the command, "Thou shalt love the "Lord thy God with all thy heart?"
But we should also recollect, that this great and glorious God, is the Creator, and consequently the Proprietor, Governor, and Judge of the Universe. Observe the language of scripture on this subject, "The Lord made all things for himself." "For
thy pleasure they are, and were created." Indeed this is no mean proof of our Saviour's deity, that it is not only said, " All things were made by "him," but likewise "All things were made for "him." "Thine is the kingdom, and the power, " and the glory, for ever and ever: Amen." This was David's view of that God against whom he had sinned. "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and "the power, and the majesty: for all that is in the "heaven and in the earth is thine. Thine is the 'kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head "above all." 1
Against this great Creator, and universal Proprietor and Lord of all, every one of our sins is committed: and not merely against our fellowcreatures against one infinitely above us, and not
1 Chron. xxix. 11.
one who is on an equality with us, as partaker of
our common nature.
This great Creator of all worlds is also the author of our existence; the Father of our spirits; the giver of all our powers and abilities; the God" in "whom we live, and move, and are." "Hear, O "heavens, and give ear, O earth, I have nourished " and brought up children, and they have rebelled "against me!" The God, against whom every sin is committed, stands at once related to us, as our Creator, Benefactor, Governor, and Judge. The authority of a sovereign, the kindness of a parent, and the liberality of a benefactor, are all here united; yea, far, far exceeded: and can we but feel the emphasis of the language used in the text, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned?”
It is possible in human affairs for these different obligations to unite in one case. Thus Absalom, the son, the indulged son, as well as the subject, of David, after manifold favours confered on him by his affectionate parent, proved a traitor to his prince, and a monster of ingratitude to his benefactor, and intentionally a murderer of his father! While David felt himself deeply shocked at his son's atrocious violation of such accumulated obligations, what must have been his reflection on his own past conduct against God, in the instance before us? Could he help saying to himself, Men justly exclaim against the behaviour of Absalom towards his kind father and sovereign: but my 'heart reproaches me with the violation of far 'higher and greater obligations to God, my Creator, Benefactor, and Judge?'
In this part of our subject, it may be proper to