« السابقةمتابعة »
them for an inheritance. The influence, then, instead of proceeding from them, was within himself. The same sentiment is recognized and embraced by the prophet Daniel, in the posture and language of humble prayer. "Now, therefore, O our God, hear the pray er of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mer cies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.' Daniel's
piety and reverence of God do not allow him to imagine, that Deity can consistently shew favour out of regard to the importunity of his prayer, or to the circumstances and wants of his people; and therefore, he recurs to a higher and better motive, and pleads, that God would shew mercy in regard to himself. This is admitting, that to be influenced by creatures would be dishonourable to God. In view of this truth, viz. that in all things God is self-moved, and is under no influence from any other being in the universe, our Saviour once" rejoiced in Spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them
unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." There is sufficient reason for that, which seems good in the sight of God, without having to trace it to any other influence, or supposing it either prescribed, or desired, by any other being. It is, properly, matter of rejoicing, that whatever God does, he does for the sake of his own will, or because it is a pleasure to himself. As God has a right to be supreme, so his receding, in any measure from it, and giving up to others, that they might have a voice, and take an influential part, in ordering things, would be a real injury to the system. But if his counsels were at all influenced by creatures, he would cease from absolute sovereignty, and no longer be Lord of heaven and earth. The government would not be his, absolutely and entirely; for all who have influence in devising, or directing, measures, must be considered as partakers in the government, either directly, or indirectly. Nothing is, in this manner, wrested out of the hands of God; for his own thoughts and purposes are first and last, in every mat. ter, which engrosses his attention. He is not persuaded to one thing, nor dissuaded from another, by any thing that the creation does, or can, disclose to his view. If objects of mercy appear before him, he does not wait for advances, on their part, or something in them to stir him up to deeds of compassion. There is enough in himself to draw forth the most liberal and affecting expressions of kind.
Consequently, all that takes place, in our world, of an evangelical and ŝaving nature, is said to be "not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; but of God that showeth mercy." "Ye have not chosen me, says our Saviour, "but I have chosen you. Not that we loved God; but that he loved us, and gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." If, in any thing we should expect to find the Deity under creature influence, it is in the difference he puts between individuals of the human race, as to matters, which respect their eternal well being. But even here it is peremptorily asserted to be "not of works, but of him that calleth." His will is spoken of as the great moving and determining principle, in all those operations, which redound to the salvation of sinners. "So then hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.' If God, in acts of mercy, were under influence from any of his creatures, there would be gross deception and imposture in such positions as the foregoing. For the phraseology of the above passages of scripture clearly carries the idea, that the whole matter of salvation originates in the will of God; which cannot be true, if the creature does any thing, or any thing appears in him, first to excite the divine pity and good will towards him. There are other texts also, which, by a similar representation, wholly forbid the supposition of an influence, going forth from the creature and lighting upon
God, to bring about the salvation of the soul. Such are the following in Paul's addresses to Timothy and Titus. "But be thou partaka er of the afflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God, who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." Further. "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renew. ing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That, being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life." These passages explicitly yield to God the honour of bestowing mercies upon guilty creatures, independently of any influence on the part of the creature. If a sinner moves God to compassionate him, that must be considered as a work, by which he produces, or enhances, the favourable inclination, which the Deity exercises towards him; and, accordingly, his salvation is according to works, in contradiction to the apostle's assertion. Let it rather be said, that the mercies of God are uninfluenced and. independent.
Once more. Let it be observed, that God, in all the works of his providence, is free from every possible degree of exterior influ
ence. The words of our text contain this: sentiment in full. How can God's working all things after the counsel of his own will be explained, so as to consist with his acting under an influence, which is distinct from the dictates of his own will? What are we to understand by the counsel of his own will? It must certainly be that, which his own will counsels, contrives, or advises; and not any thing, which is set on foot, or furthered, by the will of another. My will cannot be said to counsel that, for which I am, in any measure, beholden to the will or interference of another person. The text must, therefore, be reckoned conclusive a gainst the idea of any influence upon God from creatures, by which the course of his: providence is varied from what it otherwise would be. But other texts there are, which demand the same construction. "But our
God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. And all the inhab itants of the earth are reputed as nothing:. and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou ?" So much is God above all creatures, that he needeth not, that any should counsel, instruct, or advise him. His work is his own; and he alone is able to comprehend it, or place the parts of it in due order.. To be influenced by others, would be to disparage his own infinite understanding, and to confer that hon