To God, who rules in heaven and earth—belongs a supreme
power, and undisputed sovereignty over men and angels. He who is the Creator
and Preserver of all, may certainly dispose of all as he pleases. And
because we have a near and dear interest in some things, it can never
supersede God's better right both to them and us. He bestows blessings on
us, at that we do not quarrel; but he removes them, and at this we murmur;
yet his right to take is the same as to give. We may be afflicted—but we can
never suffer injustice under his hand.
Much of our pain, and most of our disappointments in the
world—rise from our circumscribed views of heavenly sovereignty. We think
that God should follow that plan of government that pleases us best. Yet he
gives not account of any of his matters, and still he does all things well.
Moses begins to deliver his brethren, and smites an
Egyptian; yet sovereignty sends him forty years to a strange country, and
adds forty years heavy bondage to the Israelites. The kindness of God sends
Joseph into Egypt, to preserve his father's family alive; yet
sovereignty sends him in such a way, that old Jacob seems to go mourning to
the grave, and he who had been favored with the most heavenly dreams, dreams
not a word all this time of his beloved son. Jephthah conquers his
foes—but Providence meets him with a sharp trial in his only daughter, who,
at best, must never be married. The favor of Heaven enriches Job—but
sovereignty permits Satan to spoil him of all. David is anointed
king—but before he comes to the throne, he is sometimes driven almost to
despair of his life. The Jews have liberty to rebuild their temple,
and yet, through the malice of their foes, it is retarded a long time.
John, our Savior's forerunner, after baptizing thousands, loses his head
through the malice of a lecherous woman. Josiah, one of the best
kings, is slain in battle in the prime of his life. Zechariah is
stoned to death for reproving, in God's name, the transgression of his law.
And the apostles, who were the salt of the world, were hungry,
thirsty, naked, buffeted, without habitation, made as the filth of the
world, and the offscouring of all things! And all these things were
ordered by divine sovereignty!
We allow that death must separate friends some
time—but sovereignty will take from one parent the child of a span long;
from another the weaned child; from a third a pretty boy; from another the
promising youth; and from another the comfort of his hoary hairs. Into one
family death never enters—but it flourishes up to manhood, and wholly
survives the aged parents; into another family, death thrusts his iron hand,
and carries one away; from a third family, he snatches a complete half of
the dear little ones; and from a fourth family, he takes all but one; while
from another family he takes one and all.
To give and take health and wealth, friends and
relations, blessings and mercies—at his own time, and in his own way—is a
part of the plan of God's government of the world. Therefore, we should
always expect to be deprived of what we possess, in a moment; or to be
showered with blessings suddenly. Could we commit all we have, all we are,
and all we wish, into his sovereign hand, to do with them as he pleases, our
concerns would be as secure, and our souls much more tranquil.
If in sovereignty God has passed by some—and chosen me to
inherit a crown and kingdom, which in a few years I shall be possessed of
forever. So what does it matter if he passes by me, and bestows the comforts
of this present life on others—who in a few years must suffer eternal
Though your providence should both perplex and pain me, I
will never complain. I may sin in my desires—but you will not injure me in
your wise determinations. It shall please me that you do all your good
pleasure—and my will shall be swallowed up of yours.
I have forfeited every felicity; how then, can I expect
to begin heaven on earth? The prospect of heaven may make me triumph over
every trouble, every trial, every disappointment in time. In a little while,
I shall be so happy that I shall almost forget that ever I had less
felicity. Such is my confidence in your wisdom, such my dependence on
your powerful arm, such my expectation from your fatherly kindness—that I
acquiesce in all you do, and desire to be wholly at your disposal in all I
am, in all I have, and in all I desire. What I know not now—why at such
and such a time I lose a friend—why I meet with such and such a
disappointment—why such and such a cross is laid on me—I shall know
hereafter—that it was good for me that I have been afflicted. And when time
is no more, I shall know that he has done all things well.