The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.
I. ITS CHARACTERISTICS.
1. Its basis and foundation. These are immutably right. His is not the mere right of might, but a far higher thing, the might of right. Not δυνάμις alone, but ἐξουσί.
2. Its extent. This is so vast, that not alone is our eyesight aided with all conceivable telescopic power far outstripped, but even our thought fails to grasp in its comprehension, or even in its imagination, the wide range either of the material or moral universe over which God reigns.
3. Its regulating law. That law is holy, just, and good, and clothed with power to enforce its sacred sanctions. Its moral perfection is seen supremely in the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Its purpose and aim. These are the highest possible. The glory of God is to be secured, that glory on which the well being of the whole universe depends. Let God be banished from his throne, and straightway chaos comes again. And the highest well being of his creatures. The two are never antagonistic, but joined in inseparable union. Where one is, there is the other.
5. Its duration. Forever and ever. Such are the characteristics of this blessed and glorious kingdom, whose subjects consist only of regenerated souls - souls that can say, "Oh how I love thy Law! it is my meditation all the day."
II. THE EFFECT WHICH OUR FAITH IN THIS DIVINE KINGDOM SHOULD HAVE UPON US.
1. Obedience. To know God's will should be to obey. "Blessed are they that keep his commandments."
2. Praise. What truer gospel can there be that such a rule is that under which we live?
3. Trust. We cannot always understand the ways of God; they are high above our thought; but we can ever trust, and that is ever good.
4. Confident hope. "He must reign till he hath put all enemies," etc. And he will do this. S.C.
I. THE PROPER CHARACTERISTICS BY WHICH THE DIVINE DOMINION IS DISTINGUISHED.
The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens.
Homilist.I. It recognizes God as the SUPREME GOVERNOR OF THE UNIVERSE (ver. 19).
1. His government is absolute. His authority is not delegated, it is absolute.
2. His government is universal. "It is in the heavens," over all. As the heavens encompass the earth, His government embraces the universe, over all matter and over all mind, over all loyal citizens and all rebels, all heavens and all hells.
II. It is ENTHUSIASTICALLY INTERESTED IN THE UNIVERSE AND ITS GOD.
1. It is enthusiastically interested in the universe. "Bless the Lord, ye His angels," etc. "All His hosts," etc. "His ministers," etc. "All His works," etc. " In all places."
2. It is enthusiastically interested in the universe because of its God. Piety is supreme love to God; and hence its supreme desire is that all should love and praise Him. If I love an artist, I am interested in his painting. If I love a father, I am interested in his children. If I love God, I have a deep interest in His universe.
III. Although it gives an enthusiastic interest in the universe, it DOES NOT DEADEN THE SENSE OF INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY. "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Though I may wish the whole creation to praise Him, let me not forget that I am bound to do so for myself.
I. SOME GENERAL PROPOSITIONS FOR THE CLEARING AND CONFIRMING THIS GLORIOUS FACT.
1. We must know the difference between the power of God and His authority. As God is Lord, He hath a right to enact: as He is Almighty, He hath a power to execute. His strength is the executive power belonging to His dominion.
2. All the other attributes of God refer to this perfection of dominion. His goodness fits Him for it, because He can never use His authority but for the good of the creatures. His wisdom can never be mistaken in the exercise of it; His power can accomplish the decrees that flow from His absolute authority.
3. This of dominion, as well as that of power, hath been acknowledged by all. It is stamped upon the conscience of man, and flashes in his face in every act of self-judgment.
4. This notion of sovereignty is inseparable from the notion of God (Hebrews 11:6).
II. WHEREIN THE DOMINION OF GOD IS FOUNDED.
1. On the excellency of His nature. God being an incomprehensible ocean of all perfection, and possessing infinitely all those virtues that may lay a claim to dominion, hath the first foundation of it in His own nature. On this account God claims our obedience (Isaiah 46:9; Jeremiah 10:6, 7).
2. In His act of creation. He is the sovereign Lord, as He is the almighty Creator.
4. The dominion of God is founded upon His preservation of things (Psalm 95:8, 4).
III. THE NATURE OF THIS DOMINION.
2. Absolute.(1) In regard of freedom and liberty. Thus creation is a work of mere sovereignty; He created, because it was His pleasure to create. Preservation is the fruit of His sovereignty. Redemption is the fruit of His sovereignty.(2) In regard of unlimitedness by any law without Him. He is an absolute monarch, that makes laws for His subjects, but receives no rules nor laws from His subjects for the management of His government.(3) In regard of supremacy and uncontrollableness. None can implead Him, and cause Him to render a reason for His actions (Ecclesiastes 8:4). It is an absurd thing for any to dispute with God (Romans 9:20). In all the desolations He works, He asserts His own supremacy to silence men (Psalm 46:10.(4) In regard of irresistibleness. His word is a law; He commands things to stand out of nothing (2 Corinthians 4:6).
3. Yet this dominion, though it be absolute, is not tyrannical. If His throne be in the heavens, it is pure and good. This dominion is managed by the rule of wisdom, righteousness, goodness. His throne is a throne of holiness and of grace (Hebrews 4:16).
4. This sovereignty is extensive. God is King of all the earth, and rules to the ends of it.
IV. WHEREIN THIS DOMINION AND SOVEREIGNTY CONSISTS, AND HOW IT IS MANIFESTED.
1. The first act of sovereignty is the making laws. This is essential to God; no creature's will can be the first to rule the creature. Hence the law is called the royal law (James 2:8; Isaiah 33:22). The Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king.
2. His sovereignty appears in a power of dispensing with His own laws. Positive laws He hath reversed; as the ceremonial law given to the Jews; the very nature of that law required a repeal, and fell of course (Ephesians 2:14).
3. His sovereignty appears in punishing the transgression of the law.
4. His dominion is manifested as a governor as well as a lawgiver.and proprietor.(1) In disposing of states and kingdoms (Psalm 75:7).(2) In raising up and ordering the spirits of men according to His pleasure (Exodus 2:3-6; Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:5).(3) In restraining the furious passions of men, and putting a block in their way.(4) In defeating the purposes and devices of men (Job 5:12, 14).(5) In the means and occasions of men's conversion.(6) In disposing of the lives of men.CONCLUSION.
1. How great is the contempt of this sovereignty of God.
2. How dreadful is the consideration of this doctrine to all rebels against God.
3. What matter of comfort and strong encouragement for prayer.
1. It is founded upon unimpeachable right.
2. It occupies a vast extent.
3. It is regulated by infinite moral perfection.
4. It is destined to accomplish the noblest purposes.
(1) (2) 5. It is established for perpetual duration. II. THE VARIOUS OBLIGATIONS WHICH THE CHARACTER OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT IMPRESSES UNIVERSALLY ON MANKIND. 1. Men are under obligation to render praise to God, by whom this dominion is exercised. 2. Men are under obligation to render obedience to the laws by which the Divine government is sustained. 3. We are under obligation to exercise confidence that all the events which transpire within the sphere of the Divine dominion must be managed wisely and for the best. 4. We are under obligation habitually and daily to anticipate those great purposes in connection with the government of our own world which yet remain to be fulfilled. (James Parsons.)
(2) 5. It is established for perpetual duration. II. THE VARIOUS OBLIGATIONS WHICH THE CHARACTER OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT IMPRESSES UNIVERSALLY ON MANKIND. 1. Men are under obligation to render praise to God, by whom this dominion is exercised. 2. Men are under obligation to render obedience to the laws by which the Divine government is sustained. 3. We are under obligation to exercise confidence that all the events which transpire within the sphere of the Divine dominion must be managed wisely and for the best. 4. We are under obligation habitually and daily to anticipate those great purposes in connection with the government of our own world which yet remain to be fulfilled. (James Parsons.)
5. It is established for perpetual duration.
II. THE VARIOUS OBLIGATIONS WHICH THE CHARACTER OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT IMPRESSES UNIVERSALLY ON MANKIND.
1. Men are under obligation to render praise to God, by whom this dominion is exercised.
2. Men are under obligation to render obedience to the laws by which the Divine government is sustained.
3. We are under obligation to exercise confidence that all the events which transpire within the sphere of the Divine dominion must be managed wisely and for the best.
4. We are under obligation habitually and daily to anticipate those great purposes in connection with the government of our own world which yet remain to be fulfilled.
I. THE ACT. To rule includes —
3. The actual ordering and disposing of what is under Him, for the ends of government — the actual exercise of power and authority for this purpose. God is not like an artificer, who, when he has made a clock, and set it in order, and hanged weights upon it, leaves it to go of itself; but more like a musician, who, knowing his instrument will make no music of itself, does not only tune it, but actually touch the strings, for the making of that harmony which pleases him.
II. THE OBJECT OF SUBJECT OF HIS GOVERNMENT.
1. He rules both heaven and earth (Isaiah 66:1). The glory of His kingdom appears most in heaven, but the power of it reaches the earth, yea, and hell too. That is the proper place of rebels indeed; but He has them in chains, and shows that He is their ruler by executing justice upon them. They would not obey the laws of His government, and therefore the penalty is inflicted on them; and this is an act of government, as well as enacting laws and propounding or giving rewards.
3. He rules not only great things, but small (Genesis 31:11, 12). Things so mean and inconsiderable as we mind them not, judge them not worthy of our thoughts, care, or regard, they are all under the government of God, and He actually orders and disposes of them.
4. He rules not only all beings, but all motions (Acts 17:28).
3. He rules and disposes not only things orderly, but such as seem most confused (Genesis 45:4-8 .50). The Lord once, out of chaos, brought a well-ordered world. He rules still; and can, when He pleases, out of mere confusion and darkness, bring forth a new heaven and a new earth, wherein righteousness may dwell.
9. He rules and orders things, both necessary and contingent or casual. Things necessary, such as proceed from necessary causes, which act in one certain uniform way, and cannot of themselves vary nor proceed otherwise; such are the course of the heavens, the eclipses of the luminaries, the seasons of the year, the ebbings and flowings of the sea. The Lord gave law to all these, and keeps them to the observance of it, yet overrules them, and gives them other orders when He pleases. The Red Sea and Jordan are evidences that He who rules all can overrule anything. So things contingent and casual, which fall out uncertainly or accidentally, which those who know not God ascribe to chance and fortune, the Lord orders them, they fall out as He pleases.
10. He rules and orders not only that which is good, but that which is evil and sinful (Psalm118:12; Acts 14:19).(1) He limits and bounds it, so that it proceeds not so far as Satan and the depraved will of man would have if.(2) He overrules it to good ends, and disposes it to excellent purposes (Acts 4:27, 28; Acts 2:23).
11. He rules things natural and voluntary.(1) Natural, such as have their next causes in nature, the hand of God rules them, as in thunder and lightning (Job 37:2, 3); wind and rain (Jeremiah 10:13; Psalm 148:7).(2) But more particularly He rules things voluntary; such are intelligent and rational beings. Man in special is the subject of His government. He takes order about His conception, formation, and birth (Job 10:9-11; Psalm 139:14-16). He fixeth the period of his life, and determines how many his days shall be upon earth (Job 14:5). He orders what his state and condition shall be while he lives (Psalm 75:6, 7; 1 Samuel 2:7, 8; Psalm 113:7, 8). He rules the mind and heart (Proverbs 21:2; Psalm 119:36; and 105:25). No heart so obstinate but He can bend it; none so fast closed but He can open it (Acts 16:4).
III. THE MODE OF GOD'S GOVERNMENT.
1. It is a supreme sovereignty. He that rules over all has none above Him, none co-ordinate with Him, none but such as are below Him, indefinitely below Him, none but what are subjected to Him, and under Him at an infinite distance.
2. He rules absolutely; His government is unlimited, for who can bound Him who rules over all?
4. He rules perfectly. There is not the least weakness or imperfection in His government, as there is in that of other rulers; nothing of error or mistake; nothing that the most excellent prudence would order otherwise; nothing defective for want of judgment as to things present, or want of experience as to things past, or want of foresight as to things to come; for He has all things, past, present, and to come, clearly before His eyes, in every act of government, and in His ordering of every particular (Psalm 147:5).
5. He rules all at once. The multiplicity of them is no more distraction to Him then if He had but one thing in hand.
6. He rules easily. He takes care of all without any solicitousness; He orders all, without any toil; He acts all, without any labour; he does it continually, without any weariness.
7. He rules continually. If He were but to withdraw His governing hand a moment, all the wheels of the great fabric of the world would stand still or fall to pieces.
I. THAT THERE IS A PROVIDENCE, which presides over the whole course of nature, and all the world of creatures, may be argued —
1. From the perfections of God: and of those we need only single out His knowledge and His wisdom, His goodness and His power; for if we believe that God is infinitely possessed of such perfections as these, it will hardly be possible for us to stop short of believing His providence. For will not His wisdom and goodness incline Him to take care of His creatures, and govern them in the best manner?
2. Express testimonies of Scripture, for the proof of a Providence. It is said that God upholdeth all things; and that they continue according to His ordinance. "He appointeth the moon for seasons" (Psalm 104:19). He bringeth the winds out of His treasure (Psalm 104:24, 25, 27). God is the supreme governor among the nations. This providence of God presides not only over great and important affairs, but it reaches to the minutest creatures (Matthew 10:29, 30). I will only further hint to you one article of the doctrine of Providence, which we learn from Scripture, viz. that the kingdom of Providence is administered by Christ our Saviour. It is by Him that all things consist (Colossians 1:17). And to Him is all power given (Matthew 28:18). The whole administration of Providence, over all creatures, and all worlds, is committed into the hands of the Mediator, Jesus Christ; which speaks both the dignity of His person, and the safety and happiness of His friends and people.
3. Appeal to the appearance of things: to the frame of nature, and the continued order and harmony of the whole creation; where we have as good testimonies to a Providence, as to the very being of a God. Can it be only by chance, that day and night, and summer and winter so regularly succeed to one another? (Genesis 8:22).
II. Explain and illustrate the PROVIDENCE OF GOD IN THE NATURAL WORLD, by some of the principal acts of it.
1. The providence of God is exercised in preserving His creatures.(1) In the preservation of the several species or kinds of animal creatures; so that though all the individuals die, one after another, yet no species is lost out of the creation. And this is truly wonderful, if we consider what a natural enmity there is betwixt some animals and others, and with what diligence men have endeavoured, in all ages, to destroy some whole kinds of them. The due proportion of the various inhabitants of the world to one another, and especially of the males to the females, which is so constantly preserved throughout the animal creation, is a very sensible instance of providential care.(2) God preserves them by His providence in their individual beings, until the end has been answered for which He made them. It is God that holdeth our soul in life. In Him we live. We are the living instances of Divine preservation: hitherto God has helped us. Nor is God's providential care confined to man. "He heareth the young raven cry. Not a sparrow falls to the ground," etc.
2. As God preserves, so He also disposes of, and governs His creatures and their actions by His providence.(1) The inanimate creatures. He who fixed the laws of nature in the first creation, does still by His providence continue their force and power. Thus does God keep the springs of universal nature in His own hand, and turns them which way soever He pleaseth.
2. The whole animal creation. "The beasts of the forest are His, and the cattle upon a thousand hills;" they are all His creatures, and the subjects of His providence. What but a Providence could direct every beast, bird and insect where to seek its food and its habitation? Or teach every parent-animal how to take the properest care of its young? Or, what is it that conducts those birds, who shift their country and climate at certain seasons of the year, in their passage to some distant land, where multitudes of them never were before?
III. Some of the most REMARKABLE PROPERTIES OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE, as it appears in the natural world.
1. The wisdom of Providence. A property so remarkable, that one may apply those words of the apostle to the mysteries of Providence, as well as those of grace: "O the depth of the riches!" How is the wisdom of God displayed in His preserving and governing the whole frame of nature! It is by this the "sparrow is directed to find a house, and the swallow a nest for herself." How admirably is the wisdom of Providence displayed in the different instinct of the various tribes of animals! Or, if we hearken to the voice even of storms and tempests, they will further declare to us the admirable wisdom of that God whose word they obey, and whose designs they execute.
2. The goodness and kindness of it (Psalm 33:5). "These all wait upon God, and He giveth them their meat in due season" (Psalm 104:27, 28). God extends His kind regard to many thousands of creatures, who have no capacity of knowing and praising their Benefactor (Jonah 4:11). "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle" (Psalm 104:14, 15). And as God has plentifully stored the earth with the blessings of His goodness, so His providence kindly directs us to find out the various uses, whether for food or physic, for necessary support, or for convenience and delight.
3. It is very powerful. God upholdeth all things by the word of His power. The continued harmony of nature, and the constant and regular revolutions of seasons, are sensible demonstrations of the power of God (Psalm 119:90, 91).IMPROVEMENT.
1. To raise our admiring thoughts to the great God. What a great and mighty Being must He be, who is able thus to wield and manage the whole frame of nature!
2. We may infer, how terrible the wrath of this great and mighty God must be, and of what importance it is to secure His favour. So Pharaoh and the Egyptians found it.
3. Let the reconciled friends and people of God learn from hence to trust and acquiesce in Providence (Romans 8:32).
4. Let us learn to observe and adore the providence of God in all that befalls us, and to bless Him for all our enjoyments and comforts.
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