Suggested Reading: Romans 11:25–36
Has it never struck you that the scheme of doctrine which is called Calvinism has much to say concerning God? It commences and ends with the Divine One. It dwells with God; he begins, he carries on, he perfects; it is for his glory and for his honour. Father, Son, and Spirit co-working, the whole gospel scheme is carried out. Perhaps there may be a defect in our theology; we may perhaps too much forget man. I think that is a very small fault, compared with the fault of the opposite system, which begins with man, and all but ends with him. Man is a creature; how ought God to deal with him? That is the question some theologians seem to answer. The way we put it is—God is the Creator, he has a right to do as he wills; he is Sovereign, there is no law above him, he has a right to make and to unmake, and when man has sinned, he has a right to save or to destroy. If he can save, and yet not impair his justice, heaven shall ring with songs; if he destroy, and yet his goodness be not marred, then hell itself with its deep bass of misery, shall swell the mighty rollings of his glorious praise. We hold that God should be most prominent in all our teaching; and we hold this to be a gauge by which to test the soundness of ministers. If they exalt God and sink the sinner to the very dust, it is all well; but if they lower the prerogatives of deity, if he be less sovereign, less just, or less loving than the Scripture reveals him to be, and if man be puffed up with that fond notion that he is anything better than an unclean thing, then such theology is utterly unsound. Salvation is of the Lord, and let the Lord alone be glorified.
For meditation: We are to boast in the Lord and exalt his name (Psalm 34:2–3). Does your theology in every way exalt him and humble yourself or in any way do the opposite? We should always glory in him, never in ourselves (1 Corinthians 1:29,31; 2 Corinthians 10:17).
Part of nos. 385–8
25 April (Spoken on 11 April 1861)