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an absolute authority over them, to govern them and dispose of them, and deal with them in any way he pleaseth, that is not contrary to his essential dignity and perfection, or repugnant to the natural state and condition of the creature.
And for our better understanding of this, and the preventing of mistakes which men are apt to fall in to about the sovereignty of God, I will shew,
1. Wherein it doth not confift.. And,
1. Not in a right to gratify and delight himself in the extreme milery of innocent and undeserving creatures : I say, not in a right; for the right that God hath in his creatures, is founded in the benefits he hath conferred upon them, and the obligatia ons they have to him upon that account. Now there is none, who because he hath done a benefit, can have, by virtue of that, a right to do a greater evil than the good which he hath done amounts to ;. and I think it next to madness, to doubt whether extreme and eternal: misery. be not a greater evil than simple being is a good. I know they call it, physical goodness; but I do not understand how any thing is the better for being called by a hard name. For what can there be that is good or defirable in being, when it only serves to be a foundation of the greatest and most lafing, misery.? and we may safely. fay, that the just God will never challenge more than an equitable right. God doth not claim any such fovereigny, to himself, as to crush and opprefs innocent creatures without a cause, and to make them miserable, without a provocation. And because it seems some have been very apt to entertain such groundlefs jealousies and unworthy thoughts of God, he hath given us his oath to allure us of the contrary. As, Llive, faith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of a finner, but rather that he should turn and live. So far is he from taking pleasure in the. misery and ruin, of innocent creatures, that in case of fin and provocation, he would be much rather pleased; if finners would, by repentance, avoid and
escape his justice, than that they should fall under it. The good God cannot be glorified or pleased in doo ing evil to any, where justice doth not require it ; nothing is further from infinite goodness, than to rea joice in evil. We account him a tyrant and a monfter of men, and of a devilish temper, that can do fo; and we cannot do a greater injury to the good God, than to paint him out after such a horrid and deformed manner.
2. The fovereignty of God doth not confift in ima posing laws
upon his creatures, which are impossible either to be understood or observed by them. For this would not only be contrary to the dignity of the divine nature, but contradict the nature of a reasonable creature, which, in reason, cannot be obliged by any power to impossibilities.
3. The sovereignty of God doth not consist in a liberty to tempt men to evil, or by any inevitable decree to necessitate them to sin, or effectually to: procure the fins of men, and to punish them for them. For as this would be contrary to the holi. nefs, and justice, and goodness of God, fo to the nature of a reasonable creature, who cannot be guile, ty or deserye punishment for what it cannot help. And men cannot easily have a blacker thought of God, than to imagine that he hath, from all eternity, carried on a secret design to circumvent the greatest part men into destruction, and underhand to draw men into a plot against heaven, that by this unworthy practice he may raise a revenue of glory to his justice. There is no generous and good man, but would spit in that man's face, that would charge him. with such a design; and if they who are but very drops of goodness in comparison of God, the infinite ocean of goodness, would take it for such a reproach, shall we attribute that to the best Being in the world, which we would detest and abominate in: Qurselves?
II. Wherein the fovereignty of God doth consist.
1. In a right to dispose of, and deal with his crea. tures, in any way that doth not contradict the effen. , tial perfections of God, and 'the natural condition of the creature.
2. In a right to impose what laws he pleaseth upon his creatures, whether natural and reasonable; or positive, of trial of obedience; provided they contradict not the nature of God, or of the creature.
3. In a right to inflict due and deserved punishment in a case of provocation.
4. In a right to afflict any of his creatures, so the evil he inflicts be short of the benefits he hath con. ferred on them; yea, and farther in a right when he pleaseth to annihilate the creature, and turn it out of being, if it should so seem good to him, thoughi that creature have not offended himn ; because what he gave was his own, and he may without injury take it away again when he pleaseth. In these the sovereignty of God consists; and if there be any, thing else that can be reconciled with the essential perfections of God.
Secondly, For the proof and confirmation of this. This is universally acknowledged by the Heathen, that God is the Lord and Sovereign of the world, and of all creatures, Hence Plato calls him, Tūv odve 7w yeuóz; and Tully, omnium rerum dominum, Lord of all; and this the scripture doth every where attribute to him, calling him Lord of all, king of kings, and Lord of lords ; to which we may refer all thofe doxologies, in which power, and dominion and authority are ascribed to God. I will only mention that eminent confession of Nebuchadnezzar, a great king, who, when his understanding came to him, was forced to acknowledge that God was the most high, Dan. iv. 34, 35. I infer,
First, Negatively, we cannot, from the sovereignty of God, inter a right, to do any thing that is unsuitable to the perfection of his nature; and consequently that we are to rest satisfied with such a notion of dominion and fovereignty in God, as doth not plainly and directly contradict all the notions that we have of justice and goodness; nay, it would be little less than a horrid and dreadful blasphemy, to say that God can, out of his sovereign will and
pleasure, do any thing that contradicts the nature of God, and the essential perfections of the Deity; or to imagine that the pleasure and will of the ho. ly, and juft, and good God, is not always regulated and determined by the essential and indispensable laws of goodness, and holiness, and righteousness.
Secondly, Positively; we may infer from the sovereignty and dominion of God,
1. That we ought to own and acknowlege God for our Lord and Sovereign, who by creating us, and giving us all that we have, did create to himself a right
2. That we owe to him the utmost possibility of our love, to love him with all our hearts, and souls, and strength; because the souls that we have, he gave us; and that we are in a capacity to love him, is his gift; and when we render these to him, we do but give him of his own.
3. We owe to him all imaginable subjection, and observance, and obedience; and are with all diligence, to the utmost of our endeavours, to conform our felves to his will, and to those laws which he hath imposed upon us.
4. In case of offence and disobedience, we are," without murmuring, to submit to what he shall inflict upon us, to accept of the punishment of our iniquity, and patiently to bear the indignation of the Lord, because we have finned against him, who is enr Lord and Sovereigna
SE R M O N CXXXVII.
The wisdom of God in the creation of the
PSAL. civ. 24.1 O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom
haft thou made them all.
Am treating of the attributes and properties of
understanding, which I told you are his know-, ledge and wisdom. I have finished the first, the knowledge of God. The last day I spake concerning the wisdom of God in general ; but there are three eminent arguments and famous instances of God's wisdom, which I have reserved for a more large and particular handling. The wisdom of God shines forth in the creation of the world, in the government of it, and in the redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ. Of these three I shall speak feve. rally.
I begin with the first, the argument of God's wifdom, which the creation d'oth furnish us withal. In this visible frame of the world, which we behold with our eyes, which way soever we look, we are encountered with ocular demonstrations of the wil. dom of God. What the Apostle faith of the power of God is likewise true of his wisdom, Rom. i. 20. The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power,
and godhead: So the eternal wisdom of God is understood by the things which are made. Now the creation is an argument of the wisdom of God, as it is an effect of