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and unlimited. Abraham, in the exercise of submission, was as really willing that God should take away Isaac, as any other child he had. Eli, in the exercise of submission, was as really willing that God should destroy the whole, as a part of his family. David, when he fled from his son, and relinquished * his throne and his kingdom, was as really willing that God should deprive him of all, as of a part of these earthly enjoyments. And our Lord himself, in the exercise of submission, was as really willing to die a cruel and ignominious, as any other death. All the friends of God are as really willing that he should afflict them at one time as another, in one way as another, and in the highest as well as in the lowest degree. Their submission is as unreserved, as his sovereignty is unlimited.
2. If a realizing sense of the sovereignty of God leads his friends to submit to it in this world, then we must suppose that it will lead them to submit to it in the world to come.
Divine sovereignty is as unlimited in duration, as in extent. It will be displayed in time to come, as it has been in time past; and it will be far more clearly displayed, when time shall be no more. In a future state it will be seen, not only in afflicting good and bad men while passing through life, but in forming their diametrically opposite characters, and fitting them for their diametrically different conditions through eternity. There all the objects of divine election, and of divine reprobation, will appear together, and in the most striking contrast. There it will be seen that one parent was taken and another left, one child taken and another left, one friend taken and another left. There God will confer everlasting good upon one person, and inflict everlasting evil upon another. There it will appear that all the dispensations of providence in this world were designed to lay, and did actually lay, a foundation for endless joy and endless sorrow. And who can doubt whether it will not be as trying to a parent, to see a child die an eternal as a temporal death; or as trying to a child to see a parent die an eternal as a temporal death; or as trying to a husband, to see a wise die an eternal as a temporal death; or as trying to a wife, to see a husband die an eternal as a temporal death ; or as trying to a friend, to see a friend die an eternal as a temporal death? The final separation of the wicked from the righteous will excite unspeakably higher sensibility in their pious hearts, than any separation, bereavement, or affliction ever did, while they were passing through the fiery trials of their probationary state. And in this case it is certain, that their sensibility must be either submissive or unsubmissive. It must not and it cannot be unsubmissive; but it must be, and it will be, perfectly submissive. The bright and brightening displays of divine sovereignty will perpetually awaken and increase their love to it, and sweetly constrain them to sing, “ Amen, Alleluia,” while they are continually beholding the smoke of the torments of the damned ascending for ever and ever. The friends of God will be cordially and unreservedly submissive to his sovereignty, as long as they and he shall exist.
3. If a realizing sense of divine sovereignty naturally tends to lead men to an unconditional submission to God, then this doctrine ought to be plainly taught and inculcated. Many wish that preachers would keep this divine attribute out of their sight as much as possible, because it is, of all others, the most offensive to their selfish hearts. They are willing to have all the natural and moral perfections of the Deity exhibited before them, so far as it can be done without bringing his sovereignty into view. They are willing that God should be almighty, if they might direct the exercise of his omnipotence. They are willing that God should be infinitely wise, if they might direct the exercise of his wisdom. They are willing that God should be perfectly holy, just and good, if they might direct the exercise of his holiness, justice and goodness. They are willing that God should govern the whole universe, if they might direct him how to govern it for their own benefit. In a word, they are willing that God should exist, and exercise all the perfections of his nature, if he would cease to be sovereign, and suffer himself to be under their controlling influence. But this is naturally and morally impossible, because he can no more cease to be or to act as a sovereign, than he can cease to be God. If ministers, therefore, would preach in the most instruc-' tive and profitable manner to saints and sinners, they must exhibit the sovereignty of God, in the fullest, clearest and strongest light. This is necessary in order to give their people just views of the true character of God, and to bring them to an unreserved submission to all the dispensations of providence and grace, which is the great end to be answered by preaching. How often does God himself say in his word, that he visits mankind with signal mercies and wasting judgments, that they may know that he is the Lord ? And surely, if he means to make his sovereignty appear in all his conduct, ministers ought not to shun to declare it in all their preaching. They cannot preach any doctrine which is more perfectly adapted to reach the hearts and consciences of their hearers, and to prepare them to glorify and enjoy God for ever.
4. If afflictions are designed and suited to make men realize divine sovereignty, then they always try their hearts, whether they are friendly or unfriendly to God. While he pours the blessings of providence into their bosoms, and gives them
uninterrupted prosperity, they are all apt to think that they love him in sincerity. But when he treats them as a sovereign, and visits them with the rod of affliction, then he tries their sincer. ity. If they are sincere, they will submit to his sovereignty; but if they are insincere, they will hate and oppose it. As God never lets men know whether he is afflicting them for their own good, or for their neighbors' good, or for their enemies' good, or for the general good, so he always means to try their hearts, and draw forth their benevolent or selfish feelings. He led his people of old through the wilderness, to try them, and see what was in their hearts. And the means he used answered the end he proposed. His friends submitted, but his enemies rebelled. Afflictions always produce these different effects in the hearts of saints and sinners. Those who since
Those who sincerely love God are wil. ling that he should answer his own purposes, in casting them into the furnace of affliction. They feel as he feels. He desires to answer the best ends by their afllictions, and they desire the same.
They feel that unreserved submission to God that Job felt when he said, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." But when those who are destitute of grace are afflicted, and realize that God designs to give them all the pain and anguish they endure, they find that they have a carnal mind, which will not submit to divine sovereignty. They inwardly say that he who made them shall not reign over them. They would fain flee out of his hand. Afflictions equally try the hearts of both the friends and enemies of God, and give them the best opportunity to know what manner of persons they are.
5. If afllictions are designed and calculated to bring the friends of God to a cordial submission to his sovereignty, then they will eventually do them good. God always makes the means he uses answer the ends which he intends they shall answer. And he tells us that he means to teach his people to profit by all his fatherly chastisements. He says that all things shall work together for good to them that love him. He says that their light afflictions shall work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. He assures them that whom he loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Though real saints sometimes murmur, and complain of God under his chastising hand, yet they finally fall at his feet, submit to his sovereignty, and become partakers of his holiness. Job alternately submitted and murmured, but at last he cheerfully and unreservedly submitted to the rectitude and wisdom of the divine conduct towards him, which answered the very end that he had desired and expected in the days of his adversity. In that dark and gloomy season he said, “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I
cannot perceive him; on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him; he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him. But he knoweth the way that I take : when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” David gratefully acknowledges that he had found peculiar benefit from the afflictive hand of God. “ It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes. Before I was afflicted, I went astray ; but now I have kept thy word.” God has often reclaimed, purified and comforted his children, by means of sore and heavy afflictions. And it is always to be expected that they will all eventually find great spiritual advantage from his fatherly chastisements. This the apostle suggests to christians for their consolation under their fiery trials. “ Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering aflliction, and of patience.” “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.”
Finally, this discourse applies, with peculiar propriety, to the family and friends of the late Deacon GILLMORE. We presume that it was the prayer of every christian, and the desire of every person, in this place, that his languishing health might be restored, and his valuable life might be continued for many years. He was universally and justly beloved. His peaceable disposition, his native modesty, his uniform piety, and his prudent, inoffensive deportment, gained the hearts of this people. Though he was called to act in a variety of civil, military and religious offices, yet he so manifestly endeavored to serve God and his generation, that he not only escaped the censure, but secured the esteem and approbation of the public. But notwithstanding the prayers and desires of his friends and family, God has put a period to his life and usefulness, in the midst of his days. It becomes us to be dumb, and not open our mouths, because he has done it. He has seen better reasons for shortening his life, 'than we could see for lengthening it out. And perhaps his principal design in this instance of mortality was, to bring us to a cordial and unreserved submission to his amiable and absolute sovereignty.
It certainly becomes this church to be humble and submissive under the sovereign hand of God, who has diminished their number and weakened their strength, by taking away a member and officer, whose service they not only desired, but peculiarly needed. As this circumstance displays the sovereignty of God, so it lays them under peculiar obligations to look to him for his special direction in the path of duty. Let it be their heart's desire and prayer to God, that he would completely repair the breach he has made among them.
Not only the church, but the people, and especially those in the meridian of life, ought to be deeply affected with the death of a man, whose face they beheld, whose voice they heard, and whose company they enjoyed, with a great deal of pleasure. He has taught them how to live, and how to die. He has left them an example which they may follow with safety and advantage, by which, though dead, he now speaketh. And whoever will live as he lived, may hope to die as he died, in favor with God and man.
The bereaved widow has much occasion to mourn, but not to mourn as those who have no hope. She has ground to believe that her dear departed husband has met with the approbation of God, which is infinitely better than the approbation of man. This is a consolation which ought to melt her heart in gratitude as well as submission. God is giving her an opportunity to realize his sovereignty, and to exercise that supreme affection to him which she has publicly professed to have. If she will now keep covenant with God, he will keep covenant with her, and grant her covenant mercies. As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. If she will only cast her burdens
may possess her soul in peace, and humbly hope that this sore bereavement and fiery trial will work for her a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
The fatherless children are capable of feeling and duly estimating the great loss they have sustained, by the death of a dear and indulgent parent. After holding them long in doubtful expectation, God has brought upon them the evil they feared. He has taken away, and they could not hinder him; and will they now presume to say unto him, “ What doest thou?” It becomes them to bow in silent and cordial submission to his holy and righteous sovereignty. They ought to be thankful that God graciously preserved the life of their father, until they have come to years of discretion and selfdirection. It is now their indispensable duty to remember his instructions and counsels, and to imitate every thing amiable in his character and conduct. God has of late been striving with them by his Spirit, and he is now striving with them by his providence. If they will now hear his voice, let them not harden their hearts, but acquaint themselves with him, and be at peace, and thereby good shall come unto them. Amen.