For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Romans 9:15
THERE is a sovereignty in all the works and dealings of God. If it be asked, what God’s own definition of His sovereignty is, we refer the inquirer to His words, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” Here is the Sovereign! How like Himself He speaks! He carries forward His gracious purposes of infinite wisdom and love-chooses or rejects-reveals or withholds, “working all things after the counsel of His own will,” and “giving no account,” either to angels or to men, “of any of His matters.” We will not expand this part of the subject, by citing the numerous examples of this truth which abound in the Scriptures. We would urge the reader to examine the cases of Jacob and Esau-the Publican and Pharisee-Saul of Tarsus and the men who journeyed with him-the two thieves upon the cross-and mark, if the sovereignty of the Divine choice, and the operation of the Eternal Spirit, are not written out in their histories as with a sunbeam.
Is the reader a child of God? Then we will not confine him to the word of Divine truth. We summon him as a witness to the sovereignty of the blessed Spirit’s operation. “You are my witnesses,” says God. Who and what made you to differ? You have been taken out of your family, your kindred, your friends, your companions. From this circle you alone have been selected, called, and made a child of grace, an heir of glory. The others, where are they? Still dead in trespasses and sin. Where are they? Living in the world, and to the world-lovers of pleasure, lovers of self, lovers of sin, hating God, rejecting Christ, and warring against the Spirit speaking to them in the word, through providences, and by the conscience. Where are they? Bursting through every restraint, and bending their footsteps down to the doom of the lost. Where are they? Gone, many of them, into eternity-past the confines of mercy, “in hell lifting up their eyes, being in torments.” And what are you? A sinner saved by grace-a sinner chosen and called, pardoned and justified, washed and clothed, adopted and sanctified-brought to the foot of the cross, constrained to welcome Jesus, to take up His cross, and to follow Him. Oh the electing love of God! Oh the distinguishing grace of Jesus! Oh the sovereign operation of the Eternal Spirit! “Who are you, O man, that replies against God?” Bow down to the sovereignty of His will-silently wonder, and adore Him who says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Has my reader hitherto found this doctrine a “hard saying”? Has he been prone to cavil at it, or passed it by? I would with all meekness and affection urge him seriously, candidly, and prayerfully to examine it by the light of the Divine word-to cavil not at it, lest he be found to “fight against God;”-to pass it not by, lest he “grieve the Spirit,” and rob his own soul of an inestimable blessing. Oh precious truth! It stains the pride of human merit-it lays the axe at the root of self-it humbles and abases-it empties and lays “low in a low place,” and ascribes all the praise, honor, and glory, might, majesty, and dominion of the new creation in the soul to the Triune God.
Octavius Winslow – Evening Thoughts, March 1