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we refer again to the preparations of falsehood of such a conclusion. The David for building the temple. It is method in which we may look to be evident that the words are of most saved will greatly vary, according as general applicability, and that we need we admit, or deny, the possibility of not take account of the circumstances merit. It is quite clear that our moral of the individual who first uttered them, position, if we cannot merit, must be when we would interpret their mean- vastly diflerent from what it is, if we ing, or extract their lessons. We shall, can merit, and that, consequently, the therefore, proceed to consider the pas- apparatus of deliverance cannot, in the sage as detached from the context, two cases, be the same. So that it is and as thus presenting us with truths no point of curious and metaphysical which concern equally every age and speculation, whether merit be consistevery individual.
ent with creatureship. On the contrary, We regard the words before us as there cannot be a question whose deresisting, with singular power, the no- cision involves inferences of greater tion that a creature can merit. We practical moment. If I can merit, salknow not the point in theology which vation may be partly of debt, and I requires to be oftener stated, or more may earn it as wages.. If I cannot mecarefully established, than the impossi- rit, salvation must be wholly of grace, bility that a creature should merit at and I must receive it as a gift. And the hands of the Creator. It is not to thus every dispute upon justification be controverted that men are disposed by faith, every debate in reference to to entertain the opinion that creature- works as a procuring cause of acceptmerit is possible, so that they have it ance, would virtually be settled by the in their power to effect something de- settlement of the impossibility of creaserving recompense from God. They ture-merit. Questions such as these will not indeed always set the point of are best determined by reference to merit very high. They will rather imi- first principles. And if you had once tate the Pharisee in the parable, who demonstrated that merit is inconsistevidently thought himself meritorious ent with creatureship, you would have for stopping a degree or two short of equally demonstrated that neither faith, being scandalous. God, I thank thee nor works, can procure man's salvation that I am not as other men are, extortion in the way of desert; but that, whatev. ers, unjust, adulterers.” Luke, 18:11. er the instrumentality through which But whether it be at a low point, or a justification is effected, justification itlofty, that merit is supposed to com- self must be wholly of grace. mence, every man must own as his natu- Now we think, that, in examining ral sentiment that it commences at some the words of our text, we shall find point; and each one of us, if he have powerful reasons from which to conever probed his own heart, will confess clude the impossibility of merit. The himself prone to the persuasion, that text may be said to state a fact, and the creature can lay the Creator under then an inference from that fact. The obligation. We find ourselves able to fact is, that "All things come of God :" deserve well of one another, to confer the inference is, that a creature can favors, and to contract debts. And give God nothing which is not already when we carry up our thoughts from his own. We will examine successively the finite to the infinite, we quite for- the fact, and the inference; and then get the total change in the relation- apply the passage to the doctrine which ship; and we perceive not that the po- we desire to establish. sition in which we stand to our Maker We are, in the first place, to speak excludes those deservings which, un- on the stated fact, that all things come questionably, have place between man of God. and man. Men simply view God as the Now there is nothing more wondermightiest of sovereigns, and, knowing ful in respect to Deity than that uniit possible to do a favor to their king, versality of operation which is always conclude it possible to do a favor to ascribed to him. One grand distinction their God.
between the infinite being, and all finite Now it must be of first-rate impor. beings, appears to us to be, that the tance that we ascertain the truth or the one can be working a thousand things
at once, whilst the energies of the no more elsewhere than he is here ; and others must confine themselves to one that with as actual a concentration of work at one time. If you figure to your energy as though he had no other ocselves the highest of created intelligen- cupation, he should be supplying our ces, you endow him with a might which fast-recurring necessities; and yet that, leaves immeasurably behind the noblest with such a diffusion of presence as buman powers; but you never think of causes him to be equally every where, investing him with the ability of act- he should superintend each district of ing, at the same time, on this globe, creation, and give out vitality to each and on one of those far-off planets order of beings. "All things come of which we see travelling around us. You God.” It is not merely that all things make, in short, the strength of an arch- come of God by original production; angel by multiplying the strength of a all things come of God by after-susman. But, whatever the degree up to tainment. And whether you consider which you think it needful to multiply, the visible world, or the invisible; wheyou never add to the strength the in- ther you extend your thoughts over the comprehensible property, that it may unmeasured fields of materialism, or be exerting itself, at the same moment, send them to the survey of those countin places between which there is an less ranks of intelligence which stretch untravelled separation, and causing its upwards between yourselves and your mightiness to be simultaneously felt in Maker-you are bound to the belief the various districts of a crowded im- that every spot in the unlimited space, mensity. If you even multiplied finite and every member of the teeming aspower till you supposed it to become semblage, requires and receives the infinite, you would only keep adding operations of Deity; and that if, for a to its intenseness, and would in no de- lonely instant, those operations were gree attribute to it ubiquity. And, how- suspended, worlds would jostle and ever you might suppose this multiplied make a new chaos, while a disastrous power capable of wonders which seem bankruptcy of life would succeed to to demand the interpositions of Deity, the present exuberance of animation. you would still consider, that these So that it is as true of the angelic wonders must be performed in succes. hosts, moving in their power and their sion; and you would never imagine of purity, as of ourselves, fallen from imthe power, that, in the depths of every mortality, and beggared, and weakenocean, and on the surface of every ed, that " all things come of God.” star, it could, at the same instant, be There can be but one independent beputting forth its magnificent workings. ing, and on that one all others must
And thus it is that the Omnipresence depend. An independent being must, of Godhead is that property, which, necessarily, be self-existent, possessmore than any other, outruns our con- ing in himself all the well-springs of ceptions. In multiplying power, so to life, and all the sources of happiness. speak, you never multiply presence. A being whose existence is derived But when you had even wrought up must, as necessarily, be dependent on the idea of a power which can create, the first author for the after-continuand annibilate, you would give it one ance. A being who could do without thing to create at once, and one thing God would himself be God; and there to annihilate at once; and you would needs no argument to prove to you, never suppose it busy equally, in all its that, whatever else God could make, glory and all its resistlessness, in every he could not make himself. And you department of an universe, and with must take it, therefore, as a truth which every fraction of infinity.
admits not limitation, that "all things So that the topmost marvel is that come of God;" so that there is not the * All things come of God." The un- order of creatures, whether material or approachable mystery-it is not that immaterial, which stands not, every God should be in the midst of this moment, indebted for every thing to sanctuary, and that he should be minis- God, or which, however rare its entering life to those gathered within dowments, and however majestic its its walls—it is, that he should be no possessions, could dispense, for one more here than he is elsewhere, and instant, with communications from the fulness of the Almighty, or be thrown ther of distance or time. Inhabiting saon its own energies, without being blimely both infinity and eternity, there thrown to darkness and destruction. cannot be the spot in space, nor the in
And though it suit not our purpose stant in duration, when and where he that we should dwell long on the fact is not equally present. And seeing that that "all things come of God,” yet, he thus occupies the universe, not as associated as this fact is with whatso- being diffused over it, but as existing, ever is most wonderful in Deity, we in all his integrity, in its every division may
call upon you to admire it, before and subdivision; and, seeing, moreover, we proceed to the inference which it that he waits not the passage of cenfurnishes. It is an august and an over-turies, but is at "the end from the bepowering thought, that our God should ginning;" Isaiah, 46 : 10; it can be libe alike present on every star, and in terally true, without exaggeration, and each of its minutest recesses; and that, without figure, that "all things come though there be a vast employment of him;" whatsoever there is of good of the mechanism of second causes, being wrought by him, whatsoever of there is not wrought a beneficial effect evil, permitted; the present being of throughout the boundless expansions his performance, and the future of his of creation, whose actual authorship appointment. can be referred to any thing short of And it is worth observing, that, if it the great first cause. It is a noble con- must be the confession of every order templation, though one by which our of being that "all things," whatsoever faculties are presently confounded, that they possess, come of God," such of the whole universe hanging upon confession must be binding, with a douDeity; archangel, and angel, and man, ble force, upon man. It must be true and beast, and worm, receiving momen- of us, on the principles which prove it tary supplies from the same inexhausti- true generally of creatures, that we ble fountain ; and every tenant of every have nothing which we have not resystem appealing to the common pa-ceived, and for which, therefore, we rent to preserve it, each instant, from stand not indebted to Deity. But then, extinction. Oh, we take it for a cold, by our rebellion and apostacy, there and a withered heart, which is con- was a forfeiture, we say not of rightsscious of no unusual and overcoming for we deny that the creature can have emotions, when there is told forth the right to any thing from the Creator amazing fact, that the God, who heark- but of those privileges which God, in ens to the prayer of the meanest and his mercy, conferred on the work of most despised, and who is verily pre- his hands. As a benevolent being, we sent, in all his omnipotence, when in- may be sure that God would not call voked by the very poorest of the chil- creatures into existence, and then disdren of calamity, should be actuating, miss them from his care and his guarat the same moment, all the machinery dianship. And though we pretend not of the universe, and inspiring all its to say that creatureship gave a positive animation; guiding the rollings of every claim on the Creator, it rendered it a planet, and the leap of every cataract, thing on which we might venture to and dealing out existence to every thing calculate, that, so long as the creature that breatheth. We say again that it is obeyed, the Creator would minister to this property of God, the property of his every necessity. But, as soon as acting every where at once, so that all there was a failure in obedience, it was things come of him, which removes no longer to be expected that creaturehim furthest from companionship with ship would insure blessings. The inthe finite, and makes him inaccessible stant that a race of beings declined from to all the soarings of the creature. It loyalty to God, there was nothing to is the property to which we have no-be looked for but the suspension of all thing analogous amongst ourselves, the outgoings of the Creator's benefieven on the most reduced and minia- cence; seeing that the law, entailed by ture scale. A creature must be local. creatureship, having been violated, the He must cease to act in one place be- privileges to which it admitted were of fore he can begin to act in another. necessity forfeited. But the Creator knows nothing whe- And this was the position in which
the human race stood, when, by the brought against our statements. If one frst transgression, God's service was creature give a thing to another, he renounced. Whatever the fairness with ceases to have property in the gift, and which Adam might have calculated, cannot again claim it as his own. If a that, if he continued obedient, his every man make me a present, he virtually Fant would be supplied, he could not cedes all title to the thing given; and Teckon, when he had broken the com- if I were afterwards to restore him the mand, on a breath of air, or a ray of sun-whole, or a part, it would be of mine shine, or a particle of food. It was no own, and not of his own, that I gave longer, if we may use the expression, him. But if-for even amongst ourpataral, that he should be upheld in be- selves we may find a case somewhat ing and sufficiency. On the contrary, analogous to that of the Creator in his the probability must have been that he dealings with creatures—if I were rewould be immediately annihilated, or duced to utter poverty, with no means left to consume away piece-meal. And whatsoever of earning a livelihood; and since, in spite of this forfeiture, we are if a generous individual came forward, still in the enjoyment of all the means and gave me capital, and set me up in and mercies of existence, we must be trade; and if, in mine after-prosperity, bound, even far more than angels who I should bring my benefactor some of never transgressed, to acknowledge fering expressive of gratitude; it is that " all things come of God.” Angels clear that I might, with the strictest teeive all things by the charter of crea- truth, say, "of thine own do I give tion. But man tore up that charter; thee.” I should be indebted to my beand we should therefore receive no- nefactor for what I was able to give; thing, had there not been given us a and, of course, that for which I stood new charter, even the charter of re- indebted to him might be declared to demption. So that God hath made a be his. But even this case comes far fresh and special arrangement on be- short of that of the Creator and the half of the fallen. And now, whatso- creature. The creature belongs to God: ever we possess, whether it have to do and God, therefore, cannot give to the with our intellectual part, or our ani- creature in that sense in which one mal, with the present life or the future, creature may give to another. All that is delivered into our hands stamped, so the creature is, and all that the creato speak, with the sign of the cross; ture has, appertains to God; so that, in and we learn that "all things come of giving, God alienates not his property God," because all things, even the most in that which he bestows. If he own, common and insignificant, flow through so to speak, the angel, or the man, then the channel of a superhuman mediation, whatever the angel or the man possesses and are sprinkled with the blood to belongs still to his proprietor; and which Divinity gave preciousness. though that proprietor may give things
But we may consider that we have to be used, they must continue his own, sufficiently examined the fact asserted in themselves, and in their produce. If in our text, and may pass on, secondly, indeed it were possible that a creature to the inference which it furnishes. could become the property of any other
This inference is—and you can re than the Creator, it might be also pos. quire no argument to prove to you its sible that a creature could possess what justice--that we can give God nothing was not the Creator's. But as long as which is not already his. "All things it is certain that no creature can have come of thee, and of thine own have right to call himself his own-the fact we given thee.” You must perceive at of creation making him God's by an once, that, if it be true of the creatures invulnerable title-it ought to be reof every rank of intelligence, that they ceived as a self-evident truth, that no possess nothing which they have not creature can possess a good thing which received from God, they can offer no- is his own. All which he receives from thing which is purely and strictly their the bounty of God still belongs to God. own. But it is necessary that we ex- So that if whatsoever is brilliant and amine, with something of attention, in holy in the universe combined to fashion to the nature of God's gifts, in order to an offering; if the depths of the mines remove an objection which might be were fathomed for the richest of me. tals, and the starry pavilions swept of would have been infinite, had he chosen their jewellery, and the ranks of the to dwell for ever in his sublime loneliloftiest intelligence laid under contribu- ness, and suffered not the stillness of tion; there could be poured no gift into the unmeasured expanse, full only of the coffers of heaven; but the splendid himself, to be broken by the hum of a oblation, thus brought to the Almighty, swarming population. would be his before, as much as after But we wave this consideration. We presentation.
fasten you to the fact, that a meritoAnd this truth it is by which we look rious action must be an action of which to demonstrate the impossibility of duty demands not the performance. If creature-merit. We will begin with the the angel have spare time which behighest order of created intelligence, longs not to God; if the angel have and we will ask you whether the angel, material which belongs not to God; let or the archangel, can merit of God ? the angel bestow that time upon that If one being merit of another, it must material, and let him bring the result perform some action which it was not as an oblation to his Maker; and there obliged to perform, and by which that shall be merit in that oblation; and he other is advantaged. Nothing else, as shall gain a recompense on the plea of you must perceive if you will be at the desert ; according to the rule which an pains of thinking, can constitute merit. apostle hath laid down," who hath first I do another a favor, and, therefore, de- given to the Lord, and it shall be reserve at his hands, if I do something by compensed unto him again ?" Romans, which he is profited, and which I was 11:35. If the angel have powers which not obliged, by mere duty, to do. If he is under no obligation of consecraeither of these conditions fail, merit ting to God; if they are mightier than must vanish. If the other party gain suffice for duty; and if there be, therenothing, he can owe me nothing; and fore, an overplus which he is at liberty if I have only done what duty prescri- to bestow on some work of supererobed, he had a right to the action, and gation ; let him employ these uncalled. cannot, therefore, have been laid under for energies in extra and unprescribed obligation.
service, and, doubtless, his claim shall Now if this be a just description of not be unheeded when he gives in the merit, can the angel or the archangel additional and voluntary performance. deserve any thing of God? We wave But if the angel have time which bethe consideration, that, if there be merit, longs not to God; and if the angel God must be advantaged-though there have power which he is not required lies in it the material of an overpower- to dedicate to God; there is an end of ing proof that the notion of creature- the proved truth, of thine own have merit is little short of blasphemous. we given thee." In determining the Who can think of being profitable unto question, whether a creature can merit, God, when he remembers the independ- we have nothing to do, abstractedly, ence of Deity, and calls to mind that with the magnificence of the energies there was a time when the Creator had of that creature, nor with the stupennot surrounded himself with worlds and dousness of the achievements which he tribes, and when, occupied with glori- is capable of effecting. There is not, ous and ineffable communings, the Fa- of necessity, any greater reason why ther, Son, and Spirit, reaped in from the an angel should merit, because able to deep solitudes of immensity as full a move a world, than why a worm should revenue of happiness as they now ga- merit, because just able to crawl upon ther from its thickly-peopled circles ? its surface. The whole question of the No creature can do without God. But possibility of merit is a question of the God could have done without creatures. possibility of outrunning duty. Unless They were not necessary to God. duty be exceeded, every creature must There was no void in his blessedness receive, as applicable to himself, the which required the contributions of words of the Savior, "When ye shall creatures before it could be filled up. have done all those things which are And it must be absurd to talk of ad- commanded you, say, we are unprofitavantaging God, which we know that ble servants,” (and, if unprofitable, cerhis magnificence and his happiness tainly not meritorious ;) we have done