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  • DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY - B,
    CHARLES FINNEY SYS. THEOLOGY

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    Some persons represent God as a sovereign, in the sense, that His arbitrary will is the foundation of obligation. But if this is so, He could in every instance render the directly opposite course from what He now requires, obligatory. But this is absurd. The persons just mentioned seem to think, that unless it be admitted that God's will is the foundation of obligation, it will follow that it does not impose obligation, unless He discloses the reasons for His requirements. But this is a great mistake. Our own reason affirms that God's expressed will is always law, in the sense that it invariably declares the law of nature, or discloses the decisions of His own reason.

    God must and ought to be an absolute sovereign in the sense just defined. This will appear if we consider:

    1. That His end was chosen and means decided upon, when no being but Himself existed, and of course, there was no one to consult but Himself.

    2. Creation and providence are only the results, and the carrying out of His plans settled from eternity.

    3. The law of benevolence, as it existed in the divine reason, must have eternally demanded of Him the very course He has taken.

    4. His highest glory and the highest good of universal being demand that He should consult His own discretion, and exercise an absolute and a universal sovereignty, in the sense explained. Infinite wisdom and goodness ought of course to act independently in the promotion of their end. If infinite wisdom or knowledge is not to give law, what or who shall? If infinite benevolence shall not declare and enforce law, what or who shall? God's attributes and relations render it obligatory upon Him to exercise just that holy sovereignty we have ascribed to Him.

    (1.) This sovereignty, and no other, He claims for Himself.

    "But our God is in the heavens; He hath done whatever He hath pleased" (Psalms 115:3).

    "Whatever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places" (Psalms 135:6).

    "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10-11).

    "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because 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" (Matt. 11:25-26).

    "For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth" (Romans 9:15-18).

    "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11).

    (2.) Again: God claims for Himself all the prerogatives of an absolute and a universal sovereign, in the sense already explained. For example, He claims to be the rightful and sole proprietor of the universe.

    "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all" (1 Chron. 29:11).

    "For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills; I know all the fowls of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell Thee, for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof" (Psalms 1:10-12).

    "The sea is His, and He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship, and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand" (Psalms 95:5-7).

    "Know ye that the Lord He is God, it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture" (Psalms 100:3).

    "Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine; the soul that sinneth it shall die" (Ezek. 18:4).

    "For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:8).

    (3.) Again: God claims to have established the natural or physical laws of the universe.

    "Thy faithfulness is unto all generations, Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to Thine ordinances, for all are Thy servants" (Psalms 119:90-91).

    "The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth, by understanding hath He established the heavens. By His knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew" (Prov. 3:19-20).

    "Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is His name" (Jerem. 31:35).

    "Thus saith the Lord, if My covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them" (Jerem. 33:25-26).

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