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he ordained. His law exhibits what he demands. The allotments of his providence illustrate the necessity of submission to him; and the pre-determinations of his will secure the services which he accepts. His laws are perfect.
With the arrangements of his providence they harmonize. On the absolute perfection of his nature they are founded. All who obey them declare their approval of his purpose. To encourage such, his purposes are revealed. Because his covenant was commanded, it was made known. Its revelation, with its other provisions, leads to the attainment of its end. And it shall continue. Its benefits will be confessed, and its obligations respected and fulfilled. Contemplating its demands as promulgated by the authority of God, these they will endeavour to satisfy in accordance with his sovereign decrees. The wicked disobey his commandments, but cannot alter the determination of his will. The others make not the purposes of God the rule of duty, but endeavouring to fulfil his revealed will, they are employed with honour to execute his counsel. “Let all the earth fear the Lord ; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done ; he commanded, and it stood fast.” 66 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” 19
And the covenant of God stands according to a sovereign decree. In virtue of his high authority the Lord imposed the regulations of his material and intelligent kingdoms, and the laws by which his moral creatures are governed. Hence, terms strictly applicable only to the government of the one, are metaphorically applied to the control of the other. And his dispensations to some
19 Ps. xxxiïi 8, 9, 11, 12.
are employed as symbols of his operations towards the rest. Thus, in language primarily used in reference to the firmness or security of a building, his word, and, consequently, his covenant, the arrangements of which it embodies, are represented as decreed. “Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them forever.”20 As ordained or decreed, to the appointments of the material universe it is compared. * Thus saith the Lord, If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season ; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.”—“ 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.” And especially is that true religion through which covenant engagements are made and kept, according to God's decree. 66 Where shall wisdom be found ? and where is the place of understanding ?”—“God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.” 6. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder; then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out. And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom ; and to depart from evil is understanding."22 Were the rain, and the lightning, and the thunder decreed ? Then no less was decreed - the fear of the Lord.” To vow unto the Lord was to manifest that fear. “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name." And hence, also, not less than every other effect of that true 20 Ps. cxix. 152. 21 Jer. xxxiii. 20, 21, 25, 26.
22 Job xxviii. 12, 23, 26-28. 23 Deut. vi. 13.
wisdom which consists in the fear of the Lord, and of that understanding which is to depart from evil, was ordained the service of vowing and swearing to him.
Thirdly. A people were foreordained to make solemn vows unto God. Representations are given of his people as formed for his service. According to some of these, the expression, to form, means to fashion, or to bring into existence. “I will say to the north, give up; and to the south, keep not back : bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth ; even every one that is called by my name : for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him ; yea, I have made him."
- This people have I formed for myself ; they shall shew forth my praise."24 “ Remember these, O Jacob and Israel ; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant.” 25 And hence, because whatever is formed, is formed according to God's purpose, his servants, to his service in all its parts, were foreordained by him. But besides, the meaning of the said expression, cannot, even in the foregoing passages, nor in others, be limited to its literal import. It is employed to intimate that God pre-determined what his enemies should accomplish.
66 Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps.”26 In reference to a Covenant people to be continued to discharge their peculiar duties, and to provisions of grace, described in terms most beauteous, it applied. 27 “ Thus saith the Lord, the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name.
"28 And since the purposes of God secure their fulfilment, and so his arrangements con24 Is. xliii. 6, 7, 21.
25 Is. xliv. 21. 26 Is. xxxvii. 26. 27 Jer. xxxiii. 28 Jer. xxxiii. 2.
cerning his people secure their creation, regeneration, and continued support, does not the expression, kindred to others, “ Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; fear not, O Jacob, my servant,” explicitly advert to them as predestinated to obedience, and especially the obedience thus described, “ One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel”? 29 Reasonings on the sovereignty of God exercised in setting apart a limited number to the benefits of salvation, illustrate and assert the truth. “ Nay but, О man, who art thou that repliest against God ? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus ? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour ? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction : and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles."36 In such terms is God described as not merely having created all things, but as having predestinated some to eternal life, and decreed that others should be left to perish. The mode of expression embodying the image of the potter agrees with the words of the Old Testament Scriptures,—“ Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not ? or shall the thing framed (formed) say of him that framed (formed) it, he had no understanding ?”31 What is taught by the use of such language must therefore be implied
29 Is. xliv, 2, 5. 3) Rom. ix. 20-24. 31 Is. xxix. 16.
in those declarations of the prophets, where corresponding terms are employed. In the language of the Old Testament, the potter is literally, he who forms. According to the Apostle, the potter symbolizes him who predestinates. Hence, since, as in the words,-“ Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth (formeth) it, what makest thou ? or thy work, he hath no hands," 32 he is compared to the potter, He is to be recognised as the sovereign Disposer of the final conditions of all. And forasmuch as, at a given period, concerning the existing house of Jacob, framed by him, he says in regard to their descendants, also formed by him, “ But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel,” 33 depicting all of them in the character of those who avouch him to be their God, the true Israel he acknowledges as formed for, or set apart to, that high distinction by himself; and that the Apostle had this in view, his quotations from the prophets here given declare. It was of a people who should be objects of this promise, “ And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi, and shalt call me no more Baali,” 34 and on whom the privileges thereafter described should be conferred, that was predicted the blessedness, “I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not-my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.”35 It is of those, to whom Covenanting 36 with God, refers the promise, “ The remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the 32 Is. xlv. 9. 33 Is, xxix, 23.
34 Hos. ii. 16. 35 Rom. ix. 25, 26.
36 Jer. I, 4, 5.