Summary: This Sermon (#6) is from the Rev. Andrew Lee’s SERMONS published in 1803 by Isaiah Thomas,Jr. at Lisbon, Connecticut.
The entire book Andrew’s Lee’s Sermons is available free at Project Gutenberg as e-Text #15031.
Divine Impartiality Considered.
"For there is no respect of persons with God."
THE divine impartiality is often asserted in the holy scriptures; and the assertion coincides with our natural ideas of deity. The pagans indeed attributed to their Gods, the vices, follies and weaknesses of men! But the beings whom they adored were mostly taken from among men, and might be considered as retaining human imperfections,--Had unbiased reason been consulted to find out a supreme being, a different object would have been exhibited to view. But it is natural to mankind to fancy the deity such an one as themselves.
THE origin of many erroneous conceptions of the divinity may be found in the persons who entertain them. To the jaundiced eye, objects appear discolored. To a mind thoroughly depraved, the source of truth may seem distorted. Therefore the hope of the Epicure--therefore the portrait which some have drawn of the divine sovereign, rather resembling an earthly despot, than the Jehovah of the bible!
YET God is visible in his works and ways. "They are fools and without excuse, who say, there is no God." And as far as God appears in the works of creation and providence, he appears as he is. Passion, prejudice, or depravity may disfigure or hide him; but as far as the discoveries which God hath made of himself are received, his true character is discerned.
OF this character impartiality constitutes an essential part. "God is a rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity; just and right is he."
THIS representation agrees with reason. According to his sense of it, every man will subscribe it. Yet different apprehensions are entertained respecting the divine impartiality, as respecting every thing else. The ideas which some receive others reject as unreasonable. This is not strange. Minds differ, no less than bodies.
WE propose, with deference, now to _exhibit our views of this interesting subject, the divine impartiality_, especially as it respects man.
THIS is the branch of divine impartiality referred to in the text, and commonly in the scriptures--_There is no respect of PERSONS with God_.
IT is important that we form just apprehends on this subject. Mistakes might inspire groundless expectations, and occasion practical errors, dishonorable to God, and mischievous to man. But those which are just, have a tendency to produce sentiments of rational respect and reverence for the supreme Governor and to point to the way of peace and blessedness.
IMPARTIALITY doth not require an equality of powers or advantages --that creatures should in this view be treated alike, or made equal. Infinite wisdom and power are not restricted to a sameness in their plastic operations, or providential apportionments. Neither is this sameness the order of heaven.
THE number of creatures is great. We cannot reckon them up in order; nor the different species. Among the myriads of the same species, are discriminations, sufficient to distinguish them from one another. We observe this in our race. And in the creatures beneath us. Among mankind these differences are most noticeable and most interesting. They relate to every thing which belongs to man--to the mind, and to the body, and to the powers of each--to the temper--appetites-- passions--talents--trials--opportunities, and means of information. There is in every respect an almost infinite variety--differences which run into innumerable particulars. Variety may be considered as a distinguishing trait in the works, and ways of God. And all is right. When we consider the hand of God and his providential influence in them, we seem constrained to adopt the language of the psalmist, "O Lord how many are thy works? In wisdom hast thou made them all: The earth is full of thy riches."
THESE are displays of divine sovereignty. They are beyond our comprehension. "We see, but we understand not." Of many things brought into being by divine efficiency, we know neither the design nor use-- can only say, "Thou Lord hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
THE same observation is applicable to the different situations in which God hath placed creatures of the same class, and the different talents committed to them--God hath doubtless his reasons for these discriminations, but hath not revealed them.
BY nothing of this kind is the divine impartiality affected; with none of them is it concerned. God is pleased to try some with ten talents, others with five, others with only one. That "so it seems good in his sight," is all we know about it; and all we need to know. Should we attempt to pry into it, the answer given by our Lord to an officious enquirer respecting another, might be applied--"What is that to thee?"