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tisfaction, he could, had he so chosen, have pardoned all sin without any satisfaction at all. Such a view of sovereignty is indefensible, exceedingly unworthy of God, and bears too, much resemblance to the arbitrary procedure of earthly despots; who, at the expence of justice and righteousness, make their caprice the rule of their procedure. It sets the divine perfections at variance, and makes God inconsistent with himself. We need not hesitate a moment to pronounce, as false and improper, that view of God, which does not equally accord with every part of his character, assign to every perfection an equal share of glory; and which makes him act, in any instance, without some moral ground or reason.
Divine sovereignty is that independent right which God has to determine, and execute, every thing relating to his creatures, agreeably to the perfections of his nature, without consulting others, or being obliged to assign any reason for his procedure. Any scheme formed without wisdom and justice, will be foolish and wicked: if otherwise, it must be merely accidental. Every scheme formed by God is wise and just, because he acts from wisdom and justice in forming it. He acts independently of the will and power of his creatures. To do other. wise would be to put them upon a level with himself; if not superior to him. " With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed him the way of understanding? Isaiah xl. 14. “ He giveth not account of any of his matters." Job xxxiii. 13. In respect of himself he acts as God, possessing every divine perfection.
divine perfection. These are all equally essential to him; he consults the honour of each of them, and will have them all equally displayed. His will
is the display or expression of these perfections. In this view only, can God, in his designs and operations, be denominated wise, holy, just, and good; because he acts from wisdom, holiness, justice and goodness. Sovereignty, in this view, implies no infringement of the divine liberty-rather the perfection of it lies here. Does it destroy the freedom of the will of God to affirm, That he cannot act inconsistently with the infinite moral excellence of his own nature? He acts freely in loving himself, hating sin, and approving holiness; yet he cannot do otherwise.
This divine excellence is strikingly manifested, in the sufferings of Christ. In these the will of the creature has no place. This sovereignty fixed on the Son, rather than the Father or Spirit, to become incarnate, and to suffer for sinners, under the imputation of their sins. Men have presumed to be wise above what is written, by attempting to assign reasons for this choice; while the reasons, by which they account for it, destroy the equality of the divine persons, which could be easily proved, were this the proper place to discuss them. That God, in this, acted from some wise reason, worthy of himself, is undeniable ; but he has retained it with himself, and we must resolve it into his sovereignty. In this es. tablishment, the sinner had no claim to be heard: besides, God has an exclusive right to determine in what manner he shall vindicate his honour, and manage his operations. The same sovereignty fixed upon the election of
grace, for whom Christ was to suffer; “ Jacob have I loved; Esau have I hated." The reasons of this discrimination were not in them, but in God. It was so in the case before us. The time, manner, and durations of these sufferings; the instruments, kind of death, and the period of life at which Christ should die, were all sovereignly fixed by
Such a pro
God. Jesus himself resolved his sufferings into this cause, “ Not my will, but thine, be done." Nothing indeed could be more worthy of God, than to determine sovereignly in a matter of so great importance, in. volving his own glory, and the eternal condition of his creatures.
5. Divine wisdom is displayed in this way of saving sinners. No time is necessary for God to deliberate, or investigate, in order to judge the propriety of any measure, or the means of its execution. cess indicates imperfect and limited powers. All things actually existing, that are to exist, or that are possible, are always in his mind in the fullest manner possible, and perfectly comprehended by him. " He declares the end from the beginning, because all his works are known to him from the beginning.' Isaiah xlvi. 10. Acts. xv. 18. In all his works his wisdom is manifest, though the display of it strikes us more forcibly in some of these, than in others; especially in our redemption and salvation by Christ.
CONSUMMATE wisdom consists in projecting great designs, complex in their nature; involving extensive interests; and difficult in their execution. By sin an attempt was made to unhinge God's moral government, and to introduce disorder into the moral world. God was highly dishonoured. Man was expelled from his family; became the slave of sin; the vassal of Satan; and the heir of hell. In this state he could neither serve nor enjoy God. The terrible sentence was now ready to be executed. The sinner could not plead an arrest of judgment; nor had he any means of securing himself. To have devised a scheme adequate to ameliorate such a state of matters; to restore the dislocated parts of the moral world to beauty and order; and to repair the divine honour, must have for ever non-plussed every attempt of created wisdom. As all these evils originated in sin, it became necessary to remove the cause, that they might be abolished.
While sin remained, the evils were confirmed; but could it be abulished, they would natively cease. To accomplish this, divine wisdom projected the sufferings of the Son of God, as a surety for sinners. By him justice was to be satisfied, and atonement made for sin; the law was to be fulfilled, and the honour of the Law-giver vindicated; pardon, a restoration to the divine favour, and the enjoyment of every saving blessing, were to be procured for the sinner. Such a scheme could never have occurred to any finite mind; nor, if it had, could it ever have appeared worthy of God. The wisdom of this scheme, even when revealed, is incomprehensible. “ It is the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory." 1 Cor. ii. 6, 7. Such mystery evinces the consummate wisdom of the plan; while the important designs of it are effectually gained. In complex cases, where differences are to be adjusted; where opposite interests are to be attended to ; and where a great variety of circumstances are to be considered, men often act contrary to their interest from a defect of wisdom. It is not so with God. Though his interest, and that of the sinner were at stake, and appeared so opposite as to render it very difficult to secure both; the matter was easy to him; and the plan he has laid embraces every thing necessary to remedy the condition of the sinner, and secure the highest honour to himself.
6. This way of saving sinners occupies a distinguished place in the divine counsels. These are the result of that wisdom of which we were just now treating,
Men are often inconsiderate and precipitate, in schem, ing and in executing. When a plan has been formed and every provision and arrangement made, unforeseen circumstances have appeared, different views have occurred, and unexpected obstructions have fallen in; these have led them to retrench their plans, and newmodel them; sometimes at the expence of justice and integrity. Such changes indicate imperfection and mutability in men. The counsels of God, the fixed determinations of his will, are founded in consummate wisdom, and embrace every occurrence, and
circumstance, in his works. They are free of any im. perfection, and leave no room for alteration. To suppose him capable of departing from them, or altering them, is to charge him with a defect of wisdom, power and goodness. But, “ He is of one mind-his counsels -stand-and he does all his pleasure."
The sufferings of Christ are laid at the foundation of the scheme of grace, and hold a special relation to the whole plan of Providence, in subserviency to the execution of that scheme. It is inconceivable that a matter of such magnitude, as the sufferings of Christ, should have no place in the fixed counsels of heaven. The vast superstructure to be raised on these suffer. ings, required the foundation to be immovably fixed. To have been indeterminate here, would have intro. duced uncertainty into the divine counsels, and their execution. Nothing concerning them was left undetermined. “ Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Acts ii. 23. “For of a truth, against thy holy child Jesus,whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and people of Israel, were gathered toge