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"sit in the gate, and deal forth your reflections and "your promises. Are you not a subject? Are you "not a son? Are you not in experience, and every "other qualification, inferior to your father, and your " sovereign?
I go further; if a person were to rise up in this assembly, and endeavour to draw away disciples after him; if holding the same language with regard to God, which Absalom used with regard to David, he should say, "Oh! that I were made governor in the world; "things should not be as they now are: the ways o "the Lord are not equal: the Almighty perverts judg. "ment;" I am persuaded you would be ready to drive him from the sanctuary, and to stone him with stones, saying, "thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all "righteousness, when wilt thou cease to pervert the 66 right ways of God?" But what, my hearers, if there should be found here of such a description, not one character only, but many; what, if in condemning this supposed blasphemer, you have pronounced judgment on yourselves? Why, the sentiment in various degrees prevails in all mankind. If they do not avow it, they indulge it; if they do not express it in words, it is to be derived by fair inference from their actions. For are they not displeased with the divine proceedings? Do they not murmur at those events, which under his administration are perpetually occurring? Are they not always suggesting arrangements which they deem preferable to those which the Governor of the world has planned? This is the subject which is to engage your attention this morning; and it is a subject of superior importance, and will be found to possess a
commanding influence over your duty and your hap piness. Observe the words which we have read as the foundation of the exercise. "Should it be accord"ing to thy mind?" The speaker is Elihu; a per sonage which the sacred historian introduces in a manner so extraordinary, that commentators know not what to make of him. Some have taken him for the Son of God; others for a prophet; all for a wise and good man. The meaning of the question is obvious; "Shall the Supreme Being do nothing without thy "consent? Should He ask counsel of thee? Ought "He to regulate his dispensations according to thy ❝views and desires? Should it be according to thy "mind?" He does not specify any particular case, which makes the inquiry the more striking and useful, and justifies an application of it, the most general and comprehensive. Elihu, like the other friends of Job, said somethings harsh and improper; but when he asked, "should it be according to thy mind?" Job should instantly have answered, No. And were your preacher to address the same question individually to this assembly, you should all immediately answer, No. To bring you to this temper, we shall enlarge on the desire of having things "according to our mind." L AS COMMON. II. AS UNREASONABLE. III. AS CRIMINAL. IV. As DANGEROUS. V. AS IMPRACTICABLE. Consider what I say, and the Lord give you un ❝derstanding in all things."
I. To have things "according to our mind" is a very COMMON wish. Man is naturally self-willed. The disposition appears very early in our children.
All sin is a contention against the will of God; it began in paradise... Adam disobeyed the prohibition to "touch of the tree of knowledge of good and evil," and all his posterity have unhappily followed his example. What God forbids, we desire and pursue; what He enjoins, we dislike and oppose. Yea, "the "carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject"to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
Enter the world of grace. Behold the revelation which God has given us. One deems it unnecessary; for a second it is too simple; for a third it is too mysterious. See Jesus Christ crucified. He is "to "the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks "foolishness." God has "set" his "6 King upon his holy hill of Zion," and has sworn "that to him
every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess the language of those who hear this determination is, "we will not have this man to reign over us." When we begin to think of returning to God, it is not by the way which "He has consecrated for us," but by a way of our own devising. We labour, not despairing of our own strength, while prophets and apostles teach us to implore help, and to place all our dependence on Him, whose grace" alone "is "sufficient for" us. We seek to be justified by our own works, while the gospel assures us we must be justified by "the faith of Christ ;" and many a surly Naaman exclaims, "Are not Abana and Pharpar, "rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of "Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So "he turned, and went away in a rage." And the same is to be seen in the world of Providence. Who
is "content with such things as" he has? Who does not covet what is denied him? Who does not envy the superior condition of his neighbour? Who does not long to be at his own disposal? If he draw off his eyes from others, and look inwardly, every man will find "a pope in his own bosom;" he would have every thing according to his own mind; he would have his own mind the measure, both of all he does towards God, and of all God does towards him.
Acknowledged-But is not this disposition crushed in conversion, and are not the Lord's "people made "willing in the day of his power?" See Saul of Tarsus on his knees; "behold he prayeth"-"Lord, "what wilt thou have me to do?" David wraps himself up in the stillness of patience and submission: "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou "didst it." There stands old Eli; he has received the most distressing intelligence, and piously exclaims "it "is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth him good." A gracious woman in deep affliction was once heard to say, "I mourn, but I do not murmur." We have read of one, who, when informed that her two sons, her only children, were drowned, said in all the majesty of grief, and with an heavenly composure, "I see God "is resolved to have all my heart, and I am resolved "He SHALL have it." Ah! here you behold the saints in their choicest moments, and in their best frames; for their sanctification is imperfect in all its parts; too much of this self-will remains even in them; they are most gratified when they find the divine proceedings falling into the direction which they had prescribed; they are too much elated when their schemes
succeed, and too much depressed when their hopes are frustrated. They do indeed love the will of God; and we are far from saying, that they would have nothing done according to HIS mind; but they are often solicitious to have too many things done according to their own.
II. This desire is UNREASONABLE. And it will easily appear; for we are wholly unqualified to govern, while God is every way adequate to the work in which He is engaged; and therefore nothing can be more absurd than to labour to displease Him, and substitute ourselves as the creators of destiny, the regulators of events. For, to throw open this thought-His power is almighty; his resources are boundless; "his under"standing is infinite." He sees all things in their origin, in their connections, in their dependencies, in their re mote effects; He is "wonderful in counsel, and ex"cellent in working." This is the Being you wish to set aside; and who is to be his successor in empire? You, a worm of the earth; you, whose "foundation "is in the dust ;" you, who are "crushed before the "moth;" you, who are of "yesterday, and know "nothing;" you, who know not what a day may "bring forth."
Placed in an obscure corner of the universe, where only a small proportion of God's works passes under his review; fixed in a valley, whose surrounding hills intercept his prospects; a prisoner even there, looking only through grates and bars; his very dungeon enveloped in mists and fogs; his eyes also dim by reason of weakness; such is man! and this "vain man would