THE VALUE OF THIS DOCTRINE
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, And is profitable for doctrine, For reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, Throughly furnished unto all good works"
2 Timothy 3:16, 17
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). "Doctrine" means "teaching," and it is by doctrine or teaching that the great realities of God and of our relation to Him—of Christ, the Spirit, salvation, grace, glory, are made known to us. It is by doctrine (through the power of the Spirit) that believers are nourished and edified, and where doctrine is neglected, growth in grace and effective witnessing for Christ necessarily cease. How sad then that doctrine is now decried as "unpractical" when, in fact, doctrine is the very base of the practical life. There is an inseparable connection between belief and practice—"As he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Pro. 23:7). The relation between Divine truth and Christian character is that of cause to effect—"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32)—free from ignorance, free from prejudice, free from error, free from the wiles of Satan, free from the power of evil; and if the truth is not "known" then such freedom will not be enjoyed. Observe the order of mention in the passage with which we have opened. All Scripture is profitable first for "doctrine"! The same order is observed throughout the Epistles, particularly in the great doctrinal treatises of the apostle Paul. Read the Epistle of "Romans" and it will be found that there is not a single admonition in the first five chapters. In the Epistle of "Ephesians" there are no exhortations till the fourth chapter is reached. The order is first doctrinal exposition and then admonition or exhortation for the regulation of the daily walk.
The substitution of so-called "practical" preaching for the doctrinal exposition which it has supplanted is the root cause of many of the evil maladies which now afflict the church of God. The reason why there is so little depth, so little intelligence, so little grasp of the fundamental verities of Christianity, is because so few believers have been established in the faith, through hearing expounded and through their own personal study of the doctrines of grace. While the soul is unestablished in the doctrine of the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures—their full and verbal inspiration— there can be no firm foundation for faith to rest upon. While the soul is ignorant of the doctrine of Justification there can be no real and intelligent assurance of its acceptance in the Beloved. While the soul is unacquainted with the teaching of the Word upon Sanctification it is open to receive all the crudities and errors of the Perfectionists or "Holiness" people. While the soul knows not what Scripture has to say upon the doctrine of the New Birth there can be no proper grasp of the two natures in the believer, and ignorance here inevitably results in loss of peace and joy. And so we might go on right through the list of Christian doctrine. It is ignorance of doctrine that has rendered the professing church helpless to cope with the rising tide of infidelity. It is ignorance of doctrine which is mainly responsible for thousands of professing Christians being captivated by the numerous fallacies of the day. It is because the time has now arrived when the bulk of our churches "will not endure sound doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:3) that they so readily receive false doctrines. Of course it is true that doctrine, like anything else in Scripture, may be studied from a merely cold intellectual viewpoint, and thus approached, doctrinal teaching and doctrinal study will leave the heart untouched, and will naturally be "dry" and profitless. But, doctrine properly received, doctrine studied with an exercised heart, will ever lead into a deeper knowledge of God and of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty then is no mere metaphysical dogma which is devoid of practical value, but is one that is calculated to produce a powerful effect upon Christian character and the daily walk. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty lies at the foundation of Christian theology, and in importance is perhaps second only to the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures. It is the center of gravity in the system of Christian truth—the sun around which all the lesser orbs are grouped. It is the golden milestone to which every highway of knowledge leads and from which they all radiate. It is the cord upon which all other doctrines are strung like so many pearls, holding them in place and giving them unity. It is the plumb-line by which every creed needs to be measured, the balance in which every human dogma must be weighed. It is designed as the sheet-anchor for our souls amid the storms of life. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is a Divine cordial to refresh our spirits. It is designed and adapted to mould the affections of the heart and to give a right direction to conduct. It produces gratitude in prosperity and patience in adversity. It affords comfort for the present and a sense of security respecting the unknown future. It is, and it does all, and much more than we have just said, because it ascribes to God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the glory which is His due, and places the creature in his proper place before Him—in the dust.
1. It deepens our veneration of the Divine Character.
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty as it is unfolded in the Scriptures affords an exalted view of the Divine perfections. It maintains His creatorial rights. It insists that "to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him" (1 Cor. 8:6). It declares that His rights are those of the "potter" who forms and fashions the clay into vessels of whatever type and for whatever use He may please. Its testimony is, "Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11). It argues that none has any right to "reply" against God, and that the only becoming attitude for the creature to take is one of reverent submission before Him. Thus the apprehension of the absolute supremacy of God is of great practical importance, for unless we have a proper regard to His high sovereignty He will never be honored in our thoughts of Him, nor will He have His proper place in our hearts and lives.
It exhibits the inscrutableness of His wisdom. It shows that while God is immaculate in His holiness, He has permitted evil to enter His fair creation; that while He is the Possessor of all power, He has allowed the Devil to wage war against Him for six thousand years at least; that while He is the perfect embodiment of love, He spared not His own Son; that while He is the God of all grace, multitudes will be tormented for ever and ever in the Lake of Fire. High mysteries are these. Scripture does not deny them, but acknowledge their existence—"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Rom. 11:33).
It makes known the irreversibleness of His will. "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). From the beginning God purposed to glorify Himself "in the Church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end" (Eph. 3:21). To this end, He created the world, and formed man. His all-wise plan was not defeated when man fell, for in the Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8) we behold the Fall anticipated. Nor will God’s purpose be thwarted by the wickedness of men since the Fall, as is clear from the words of the Psalmist, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain" (Ps. 76:10). Because God is the Almighty His will cannot be withstood. "His purposes originated in eternity, and are carried forward without change to eternity. They extend to all His works, and control all events. He ‘worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.’" (Dr. Rice). Neither man nor devil can successfully resist Him, therefore is it written, "The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble." (Ps. 99:1).
It magnifies His grace. Grace is unmerited favor, and because grace is shown to the undeserving and Hell-deserving, to those who have no claim upon God, therefore is grace free and can be manifested toward the chief of sinners. But because grace is exercised toward those who are destitute of worthiness or merit, grace is sovereign; that is to say, God bestows grace upon whom He pleases. Divine sovereignty has ordained that some shall be cast into the Lake of Fire to show that all deserved such a doom. But grace comes in like a drag-net and draws out from a lost humanity a people for God’s name, to be throughout all eternity the monuments of His inscrutable favor. Sovereign grace reveals God breaking down the opposition of the human heart, subduing the enmity of the carnal mind, and bringing us to love Him because He first loved us.
This naturally follows from. what we have said above under the first head. If the doctrine of Divine sovereignty alone gives God His rightful place, then it is also true that it alone can supply a firm base for practical religion to build upon. There can be no progress in Divine things until there is the personal recognition that God is Supreme, that He is to be feared and revered, that He is to be owned and served as Lord. We read the Scriptures in vain unless we come to them earnestly desiring a better knowledge of God’s will for us—any other motive is selfish and utterly inadequate and unworthy. Every prayer we send up to God is but carnal presumption unless it be offered "according to His will"— anything short of this is to ask ‘amiss,’ that we might consume upon our own lusts the thing requested. Every service we engage in is but a "dead work" unless it be done for the glory of God. Experimental religion consists mainly in the perception and performance of the Divine will—performance both active and passive. We are predestinated to be "conformed to the image of God’s Son", whose meat it ever was to do the will of the One that sent Him, and the measure in which each saint is becoming "conformed" practically, in his daily life, is largely determined by his response to our Lord’s word—"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart."
3. It repudiates the heresy of salvation by works.
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12). The way which "seemeth right" and which ends in "death," death eternal, is salvation by human effort and merit. The belief in salvation by works is one that is common to human nature. It may not always assume the grosser form of Popish penances, or even of Protestant "repentance"—i.e., sorrowing for sin, which is never the meaning of repentance in Scripture—anything which gives man a place at all is but a variety of the same evil genus. To say, as alas! many preachers are saying, God is willing to do His part if you will do yours, is a wretched and excuseless denial of the Gospel of His grace. To declare that God helps those who help themselves, is to repudiate one of the most precious truths taught in the Bible, and in the Bible alone; namely, that God helps those who are unable to help themselves, who have tried again and again only to fail. To say that the sinner’s salvation turns upon the action of his own. will, is another form of the God-dishonoring dogma of salvation by human efforts. In the final analysis, any movement of the will is a work: it is something from me, something which I do. But the doctrine of God’s sovereignty lays the axe at the root of this evil tree by declaring, "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Rom. 9:16). Does some one say, Such a doctrine will drive sinners to despair. The reply is, Be it so; it is just such despair the writer longs to see prevail. It is not until the sinner despairs of any help from himself, that he will ever fall into the arms of sovereign mercy; but if once the Holy Spirit convicts him that there is no help in himself, then he will recognize that he is lost, and will cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner," and such a cry will be heard. If the author may be allowed to bear personal witness, he has found during the course of his ministry that, the sermons he has preached on human depravity, the sinner’s helplessness to do anything himself, and the salvation of the soul turning upon the sovereign mercy of God, have been those most owned and blessed in the salvation of the lost. We repeat, then, a sense of utter helplessness is the first prerequisite to any sound conversion. There is no salvation for any soul until it looks away from itself, looks to something, yea, to Someone, outside of itself.
4. It is deeply humbling to the creature.
This doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God is a great battering-ram against human pride, and in this it is in sharp contrast from "the doctrines of men." The spirit of our age is essentially that of boasting and glorying in the flesh. The achievements of man, his development and progress, his greatness and self-sufficiency, are the shrine at which the world worships today. But the truth of God’s sovereignty, with all its corollaries, removes every ground for human boasting and instills the spirit of humility in its stead. It declares that salvation is of the Lord—of the Lord in its origination, in its operation, and in its consummation. It insists that the Lord has to apply as well as supply, that He has to complete as well as begin His saving work in our souls, that He has not only to reclaim but to maintain and sustain us to the end. It teaches that salvation is by grace through faith, and that all our works (before conversion), good as well as evil, count for nothing toward salvation. It tells us we are "born, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). And all this is most humbling to the heart of man, who wants to contribute something to the price of his redemption and do that which will afford ground for boasting and self-satisfaction.
But if this doctrine humbles us, it results in praise to God. If, in the light of God’s sovereignty, we have seen our own worthlessness and helplessness, we shall indeed cry with the Psalmist, "All my springs are in Thee" (Ps. 87:7). If by nature we were "children of wrath," and by practice rebels against the Divine government and justly exposed to the "curse" of the Law, and if God was under no obligation to rescue us from the fiery indignation and yet, notwithstanding, He delivered up His well-beloved Son for us all; then how such grace and love will melt our hearts, how the apprehension of it will cause us to say in adoring gratitude, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake" (Ps. 115:1)! How readily shall each of us acknowledge, "By the grace of God I am what I am"! With what wondering praise shall we exclaim—
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
‘Twas the same love that spread the feast,
Else we had still refused to taste
And perished in our sin."
5. It affords a sense of absolute security.
God is infinite in power, and therefore it is impossible to withstand His will or resist the outworking of His decrees. Such a statement as that is well calculated to fill the sinner with alarm, but from the saint it evokes naught but praise. Let us add a word and see what a difference it makes:—My God is infinite in power! then "I will not fear what man can do unto me." My God is infinite in power, then "what time I am afraid I will trust in Him." My God is infinite in power, then "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety" (Ps. 4:8). Right down the ages this has been the source of the saints’ confidence. Was not this the assurance of Moses when, in his parting words to Israel, he said—"There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun (Israel), who rideth upon the heaven in Thy help, and in His excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut. 33:26, 27)? Was it not this sense of security that caused the Psalmist, moved by the Holy Spirit, to write—"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God: in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler: Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High thy Habitation; There shall no evil befall thee (instead, all things will work together for good), neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling" (Ps. 91)?
"Death and plagues around me fly,
Till He hid, I cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit."
O the preciousness of this truth! Here am I, a poor, helpless, senseless "sheep," yet am I secure in the hand of Christ. And why am I secure there? None can pluck me thence because the hand that holds me is that of the Son of God, and all power in heaven and earth is His! Again; I have no strength of my own: the world, the flesh, and the Devil, are arrayed against me, so I commit myself into the care and keeping of the Lord and say with the apostle, "I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (2 Tim. 1:12). And what is the ground of my confidence? How do I know that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him? I know it because God is almighty, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
6. It supplies comfort in sorrow.
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is one that is full of consolation and imparts great peace to the Christian. The sovereignty of God is a foundation that nothing can shake and is more firm than the heavens and earth. How blessed to know there is no corner of the universe that is out of His reach! as said the Psalmist, "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. If I say surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee: but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee" (Ps. 139:7-12). How blessed it is to know that God’s strong hand is upon every one and every thing! How blessed to know that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without His notice! How blessed to know that our very afflictions come not by chance, nor from the Devil, but are ordained and ordered by God:— "That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto" (1 Thess. 3:3)!
But our God is not only infinite in power, He is infinite in wisdom and goodness too. And herein is the preciousness of this truth. God wills only that which is good and His will is irreversible and irresistible! God is too wise to err and too loving to cause His child a needless tear. Therefore if God be perfect wisdom and perfect goodness how blessed is the assurance that everything is in His hand, and moulded by His will according to His eternal purpose! "Behold, He taketh away, who can hinder Him? who will say unto Him what doest Thou?" (Job 9:12). Yet, how comforting to learn that it is "He", and not the Devil, who "taketh away" our loved ones! Ah! what peace for our poor frail hearts to be told that the number of our days is with Him (Job 7:1; 14:5); that disease and death are His messengers, and always march under His orders; that it is the Lord who gives and the Lord who takes away!
7. It begets a spirit of sweet resignation.
To bow before the sovereign will of God is one of the great secrets of peace and happiness. There can be no real submission with contentment until we are broken in spirit, that is, until we are willing and glad for the Lord to have His way with us. Not that we are insisting upon a spirit of fatalistic acquiescence; far from it. The saints are exhorted to "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2).
We touched upon this subject of resignation to God’s will in the chapter upon our Attitude towards God’s Sovereignty, and there, in addition to the supreme Pattern, we cited the examples of Eli and Job: we would now supplement their cases with further examples. What a word is that in Leviticus 10:3—"And Aaron held his peace." Look at the circumstances: "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. . . . . And Aaron held his peace." Two of the high priests’ sons were slain, slain by a visitation of Divine judgment, and they were probably intoxicated at the time; moreover, this trial came upon Aaron suddenly, without anything to prepare him for it; yet, he "held his peace." Precious exemplification of the power of God’s all-sufficient grace!
Consider now an utterance which fell from the lips of David: "And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me again, and shew me both it, and His habitation. But if He thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him" (2 Sam. 15:25, 26). Here, too, the circumstances which confronted the speaker were exceedingly trying to the human heart. David was sore pressed with sorrow. His own son was driving him from the throne, and seeking his very life. Whether he would ever see Jerusalem and the Tabernacle again he knew not. But he was so yielded up to God, he was so fully assured that His will was best, that even though it meant the loss of the throne and the loss of his life he was content for Him to have His way—"let Him do to me as seemeth Him good."
There is no need to multiply examples, but a reflection upon the last case will be in place. If amid the shadows of the Old Testament dispensation, David was content for the Lord to have His way, now that the heart of God has been fully revealed at the Cross, how much more ought we to delight in the execution of His will! Surely we shall have no hesitation in saying—
"Ill that He blesses is our good,
And all is right that seems most wrong,
If it he His sweet will."
8. It evokes a song of praise.
It could not be otherwise. Why should I, who am by nature no different from the careless and godless throngs all around, have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and now blest with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Him! Why was I, that once was an alien and a rebel, singled out for such wondrous favors! Ah, that is something I cannot fathom. Such grace, such love, "passeth knowledge." But if my mind is unable to discern a reason, my heart can express its gratitude in praise and adoration. But not only should I be grateful to God for His grace toward me in the past, His present dealings will fill me with thanksgivings. What is the force of that word "Rejoice in the Lord alway" (Phil. 4:4)? Mark it is not "Rejoice in the Saviour," but we are to "Rejoice in the Lord," as "Lord," as the Master of every circumstance. Need we remind the reader that when the apostle penned these words he was himself a prisoner in the hands of the Roman government. A long course of affliction and suffering lay behind him. Perils on land and perils on sea, hunger and thirst, scourging and stoning, had all been experienced. He had been persecuted by those within the church as well as by those without: the very ones who ought to have stood by him had forsaken him. And still he writes, "Rejoice in the Lord alway"! What was the secret of his peace and happiness? Ah! had not this same apostle written, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28). But how did he, and how do we, "know," that all things work together for good? The answer is, Because all things are under the control of and are being regulated by the Supreme Sovereign, and because He has naught but thoughts of love toward His own, then "all things" are so ordered by Him that they are made to minister to our ultimate good. It is for this cause we are to give "thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20). Yes, give thanks for "all things" for, as it has been well said "Our disappointments are but His appointments." To the one who delights in the sovereignty of God the clouds not only have a ‘silver lining’ but they are silvern all through, the darkness only serving to offset the light—
"Ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds ye so much dread,
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings o’er your head."
9. It guarantees the final triumph of good over evil.
Ever since the day that Cain slew Abel, the conflict on earth between good and evil, has been a sore problem to the saints. In every age the righteous have been hated and persecuted, whilst the unrighteous have appeared to defy God with impugnity. The Lord’s people, for the most part, have been poor in this world’s goods, whereas the wicked in their temporal prosperity have flourished like the green bay tree. As one looks around and beholds the oppression of believers and the earthly success of unbelievers, and notes how few are the former and how numerous the latter; as he sees the apparent defeat of the right, and the triumphing of might and the wrong; as he hears the roar of battle, the cries of the wounded, and the lamentations of the bereaved; as he discovers that almost everything down here is in confusion, chaos, and ruins, it seems as though Satan were getting the better of the conflict. But as one looks above, instead of around, there is plainly visible to the eye of faith a Throne, a Throne unaffected by the storms of earth, a Throne that is "set," stable and secure; and upon it is seated One whose name is the Almighty, and who "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11). This then is our confidence—God is on the Throne. The helm is in His hand, and being Almighty His purpose cannot fail, for "He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth" (Job 23:13). Though God’s governing hand is invisible to the eye of sense, it is real to faith, that faith which rests with sure confidence upon His Word, and therefore is assured He cannot fail. What follows below is from the pen of our brother Mr. Gaebelein.
"There can be no failure with God. ‘God is not a man, that He should lie, neither the Son of man, that He should repent; bath He said and shall He not do it? or bath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?’ (Num. 23:19). All will be accomplished. The promise made to His own beloved people to come for them and take them from hence to glory will not fail. He will surely come and gather them in His own presence. The solemn words spoken to the nations of the earth by the different prophets will also not fail. ‘Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken ye people; let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and His fury upon all armies; He bath utterly destroyed them, He hath delivered them to the slaughter’ (Isa. 34:1, 2). Nor will that day fail in which ‘the lofty looks of man shall be humbled and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down and the Lord alone shall be exalted’ (Isa. 2:11). The day in which He is manifested, when His glory shall cover the heavens and His feet will stand again upon this earth, will surely come. His kingdom will not fail, nor all the promised events connected with the end of the age and the consummation.
"In these dark and trying times bow well it is to remember that He is on the throne, the throne which cannot be shaken, and that He will not fail in doing all He has spoken and promised. ‘Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read: Not one of these shall fail’ (Isa. 34:16). In believing, blessed anticipation, we can look on to the glory-time when His Word and His Will is accomplished, when through the coming of the Prince of Peace, righteousness and peace comes at last. And while we wait for the supreme and blessed moment when His promise to us is accomplished, we trust Him, walking in His fellowship and daily find afresh, that He does not fail to sustain and keep us in all our ways.
10. It provides a resting place for the heart.
Much that might have been said here has already been anticipated under previous heads. The One seated upon the Throne of Heaven, the One who is Governor over the nations and who has ordained and now regulates all events, is infinite not only in power but in wisdom and goodness as well. He who is Lord over all creation is the One that was "manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16). Ah! here is a theme no human pen can do justice to. The glory of God consists not merely in that He is Highest, but in that being high He stooped in lowly love to bear the burden of His own sinful creatures, for it is written "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). The Church of God was purchased "with His own Blood" (Acts 20:28). It is upon the gracious self-humiliation of the King Himself that His kingdom is established. O wondrous Cross! By it He who suffered upon it has become not the Lord of our destinies (He was that before), but the Lord of our hearts. Therefore, it is not in abject terror that we bow before the Supreme Sovereign, but in adoring worship we cry, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing" (Rev. 5:12).
Here then is the refutation of the wicked charge that this doctrine is a horrible calumny upon God and dangerous to expound to His people. Can a doctrine be "horrible" and "dangerous" that gives God His true place, that maintains His rights, that magnifies His grace, that ascribes all glory to Him and removes every ground of boasting from the creature? Can a doctrine be "horrible" and "dangerous" which affords the saints a sense of security in danger, that supplies them comfort in sorrow, that begets patience within them in adversity, that evokes from them praise at all times? Can a doctrine be "horrible" and "dangerous" which assures us of the certain triumph of good over evil, and which provides a sure resting-place for our hearts, and that place, the perfections of the Sovereign Himself? No; a thousand times, no. Instead of being "horrible and dangerous" this doctrine of the Sovereignty of God is glorious and edifying, and a due apprehension of it will but serve to make us exclaim with Moses, "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Ex. 15:11).