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kingdom of God is an everlasting kingdom, and of his domin. ion and glory there will be no end, which is abundantly asserted in Scripture, we all know; and this kingdom, glory, and dominion is the end of all God's works. Therefore, every thing he doth shall be forever; it hath no end in his design, and in the effect and consequence. Nothing can be more certain than this.

2. It is asserted in these words that God has fixed a plan of operation, including all his works, all he doth or will do in time and to eternity, and that he is executing this plan or design in all he doth; all his works having reference to this, and being included in it. This is implied in the former particular. For if in all God doth he hath respect to that which is endless, he must have formed a design and fixed a plan of operation which is endless, including all he will do, and all events, to eternity. This the Scripture abundantly asserts. “ He worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will. The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” (Ps. xxxiii. 11.) " He is in one mind, and who can turn him ? And what his soul desireth, even that he doth.” (Job xxiii. 13.) “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” (Acts xv. 18.) And, if we attend to the point, we cannot but know that it must be so, it being impossible that it should be otherwise; for, to suppose the contrary, is to suppose God is changeable, which is inconsistent with infinite perfection, and with his being infallible, and to be trusted in all cases. Indeed, if there were not a Being who is unchangeable, there would be no God. Besides, if God be infinite in power, knowledge, wisdom, and goodness, which he certainly is, then he is able, and could not but fix upon a plan of operation, including all he would do, all his works of creation and providence, without end, or forever. He could not but propose an end of all his works, and lay the wisest plan to accomplish that end. Not to do this must manifest want of wisdom or of ability, and, therefore, would be inconsistent with infinite power and wisdom. It is impossible he should not know what is wisest and best to be done in every instance to eternity; he is able to do it, for nothing can be in the way to prevent his doing it; and it is equally impossible he should be infinitely wise and good, and not fix upon, and execute, the wisest and best plan of operation. Nothing can be more evident and certain than this. Well may we join with Solomon, and say, “ We know that, whatsoever God doth, it shall be forever." He has proposed infinitely the best possible end, which cannot be accomplished in time, but by an everlasting series of works; he has fixed upon the wisest plan to answer this end, and all he doth has reference to this end; and the effect and consequence of all his works, for the sake of which they are done, will remain forever.

Let us now proceed to consider the following words: “ Nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it." These are part of the same sentence, and have respect to the foregoing, and assert that nothing can be put or added to what God doth, or taken from it. In these words, the following particulars are expressed or implied, which also imply each other :

1. These words contain a more strong and express declaration than the foregoing: that the divine plan of his endles operations, including every thing which he doth, and will do, to eternity, is unalterably fixed, so that it is impossible that any change or alteration should be made in any respect, or in the least degree. His designs are fixed from eternity. He has determined what he will do, and what he will not do, in every instance, greater or less. And his plan admits of no alteration; nothing can be added to it, or taken from it. It has been observed that this is abundantly asserted in Scripture, and that reason teaches it must be so; and that to deny this, or even doubt it, is to deny or doubt of the existence of a God, supreme, omnipotent, infinitely intelligent, wise, and good.

2. These words imply that all things, and every event, from the greatest to the least, from the first to the last, are included in the divine plan, and are unalterably fixed by the counsel and decree of God. This must be so, unless creatures and things may exist, and events may take place, independent of God, and with which his power and operation has no concern, without the least dependence on his determination and will, and, it may be, contrary to it, which no rational man can admit, as it is absolutely impossible.

If all the works of God are known to him, — which they could not be, unless he had determined and fixed what he will do, - then every thing, every event which shall take place or exist, must be known, and consequently certain, and made so by the divine decree determining what he would do. If any one event, even the least that can take place, were not fixed, but uncertain whether it will take place or not, then what God will do, so far as his works respect that event, must be uncertain, and cannot be known or fixed. Therefore, God, by determining his own works, equally determined and fixed what every creature should be and do, as the latter is necessarily included in the former. The divine will and operation has respect to,

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and concern with, every thing, every event, even the least that takes place; and it comes to pass and actually exists by some act of his, without which it could not take place, whether it be in the natural or moral world. The existence, the time and circumstances of the existence, of every bird, even the least, and the time and means of its beginning and ceasing to exist, are all fixed by what God does. Every hair of our heads, and of every head and creature that ever did or shall exist, is made by God. He numbers them all, and orders every circumstance, the growth, length, bigness, use, decay, and loss or disposal of each one. Every tree on the earth, every plant, leaf, and spire of grass he produces by his power, energy, and

He causes every drop of rain or hail, and every flake of snow that falls, and determines the bigness, the shape, and time of the falling of each one. All these are the work of God, as are innumerable others, whether greater or less. These, therefore, must be all fixed from eternity by him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.

And it is equally certain that every event, and all that comes to pass in the moral world, depend upon the will and determination of God, and could not exist if he determined and did nothing concerning it. Every action of moral agents, and every perception, motion, and every thought which takes place in their hearts or minds, is comprehended in what God doth, and is effected by his power and operation. “The heart of the king,” and consequently of all men, “ is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will." Every thing in the moral world, even the least motion and thought of the heart, is of unspeakably more importance than the events in the natural world, and are as much dependent on the will and operation of God, and, therefore, must be as much fixed and certain. And this is necessarily implied in God's determining and fixing what he will do, so that there can be no alteration of his plan of operation; nothing put to it, or taken from it, for it comprehends all things, and all events, great and small, which shall take place and exist from the beginning of time to eternity.

Thus certain is it from this text, as well as from innumerable other passages of Scripture, and from the reason and nature of things, that God has, by determining what he would do, necessarily " foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.”

3. These words assert that the divine plan of operation, which is endless, and includes all things and every event that ever did or shall take place, is the wisest and best that can be; so that to make any alteration in it in any respect or the least degree, to take any thing from it, or add any thing to it, which

is not included in it, would render it less perfect, wise, and good. In this respect, "nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it,” without hurting or marring it, and rendering it less perfect, wise, and good; therefore, it is impossible there should be the least alteration, in any thing or circumstance, so long as God is omnipotent, infinitely wise and good. “ His work is perfect;" which includes the whole created universe, with every thing, from the greatest to the least, and all events, and circumstances of events, even the most minute and inconsiderable, which take place in time and eternity. It is impossible it should be otherwise, if God be omnipotent, infinitely wise and good. The work of such a Being must be, like himself, absolutely perfect. He must know what was the most wise and best plan, and, therefore, the most desirable. He was able to form and execute such a plan, and his wisdom and goodness must be pleased with it; which will answer the best end, and includes all possible good, and excludes every thing which would render it less perfect, and is, on the whole, undesirable. Of this we may be as certain as we can be that there is a God, who is supreme, omnipotent, infinitely wise and good, who hath done, and will do, what he pleases, in heaven and on earth, and in all the created universe, and that forever.

Thus we find Solomon asserting, in the words under consideration, what he knew to be an important and most evident and certain truth, viz., that God's plan of operation is endless, is unalterably fixed, and comprehends all things and all events which ever exist or take place, and that this divine plan, including all the created universe, and every event and circumstance which will take place to eternity, is most wise and good, being absolutely perfect; so that nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it, without making it less perfect and good. This truth is abundantly asserted in divine revelation, and is evident to a demonstration, from the reason and nature of things. And to deny or doubt of it is, in effect, to deny or doubt of the being of a God, who is supreme, infinitely wise and good. This truth is concisely, though fully, expressed by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, in their Shorter Catechism, in the following words: “The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his own will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. And he executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence. His works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions." This is a doctrine of divine revelation, and most agreeable VOL. II.


to reason, to wisdom, and benevolence; and they who exercise these in any good degree must be pleased with it. For, according to this, nothing does or can take place but that which is wisest and best, and necessary for the greatest general good; every thing and every event, the greatest and the least, being under the direction of infinite wisdom, rectitude and benevolence, and ordained and fixed by these. To have such a plan, which includes all the works of God, and every event, motion, and action in the creation, in time and to eternity, formed by infinite wisdom and goodness, exactly suited to accomplish the best end, including all possible good, and excluding every thing which, on the whole, is undesirable, to have such a plan, unalterably fixed forever, so that nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it, must be most agreeable to the upright, wise, and good; and that person who understandingly opposes it, and whose heart is displeased with it, must be wholly destitute of all these.

This is suited to please the truly pious mind, to support and comfort such a one, and to excite all those affections and exercises in which true, genuine piety consists. And all the truths and facts included in this divine, unalterable plan are adapted to promote and effect the most perfect virtue, piety, and holiness; and were not this a truth, there could not be any such thing as piety or true religion among creatures.

This leads to consider and explain the concluding words in the text, in which this is asserted : “ And God doth it, that men should fear before him."

By the fear of God, fearing him, or fearing before him, which is the same, is meant the exercise of that true piety and religion which is peculiar to good men, and distinguishes them from the wicked. In this sense the phrase is used in

rous places both in the Old Testament and the New, of which every one must be sensible who reads the Bible with attention and care. It is needless, therefore, to mention pas. sages to prove it; I shall, however, cite one, which is in this book : “ Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him ; but it shall not be well with the wicked, because he feareth not before God.(Ec. viii. 12, 13.)

God doth it, that men may fear before him;" that is, he has formed this wise and perfect plan of operation, which is unalterable, as the proper and only foundation of the exercise of piety and holiness by creatures, and every thing God does in executing this plan is suited to excite and promote this, and bring it to the greater perfection, which is included in his endless design; and holiness shall be exercised in the most

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