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Rights of Ownership


Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.

—1 Chronicles 29:11


This may inform us that the Lord hath right to deal with us, or any creature, as he will. However he use us, he can do us no wrong. This is manifest, in that we are his own. This is enough to answer whatever may be objected against his disposing of us or anything at his pleasure. Shall I not do with my own as I will? Mat. xx. 10, 15. If our diminutive, limited, dependent interest gave us right to do what we will with what we call our own, we think it our due to exercise it as we please upon the inferior creatures, what right and power has he, who is Lord of all, to use us or anything as he will, when he is so fully, so absolutely, so transcendently the owner of us and all things? It is true, and should be observed and remembered, that in reference to rational creatures, the Lord has restrained the exercise of his plenary right by his laws and promises; he has declared hereby, that though he has undoubted right to use us any way as he will, yet he will not use us but so and so, according to the import of those laws and promises. Yet though he will not exercise all that right and power over us, as he is our ruler, yet otherwise, as he is our owner, it fully belongs to him. And thus, if we consider him as a lord and proprietor antecedently to his determination of forbearing such exercises of his right, so he might use us however we would; nor could whatever he did be any wrong to us. No usage of us whatsoever, no, not that which seems most grievous to nature, or most harsh at first sight unto reason, could possibly be unjust in him or an injury to ns; for justice or righteousness . . . consists in abstaining from what is not our own; or, as others commonly place it, in giving . . . every one his own; so that which is unjust or a wrong to us, must be a withholding or taking from us that which is our own. Therefore nothing that he can take or withhold from us can possibly be injurious to us, because in respect of him nothing is our own; he is the true owner of us, and all we have or can have.

Yea, if we were innocent, and without sin, yet the Lord, as our proprietor, might deny or take from us anything whatsoever, our estates, lives, being, or well-being, righteously, and without doing us the least wrong; for what injury could it be to take that from us which is his own and not ours?

If he should take from us what estate we have, as he did from Job, and as is generally conceived, without respect to his sin, he would not thereby wrong us, he takes but his own.

If he should take away life, or give others a special command to do it, as he did to Abraham in reference to his son Isaac, Gen. xxii., the taking away his life in that case had been no murder in Abraham, no wrong to Isaac, because the Lord and owner of his life gave order for it, who had right to call for his own, and take it in what way he pleased.

If he should take away our being, and quite annihilate us, he would but take his own, and that which we wholly owe to him. Thus, as our Lord and proprietor, he has right to do, but only that he has declared he will not do it. If we have so much power over the being of other creatures, as to destroy them, so as they are never restored again, though they be not reduced to nothing; if we may kill them for our use, food, or physic; if we may burn wood and other things, turn them to ashes for our service, and yet do them no wrong, what right and power hath he over our being who is full and absolute Lord and owner thereof!

If he should take away our well-being, if he should inflict pain on us in any degree or for any continuance, so as to deprive us of a comfortable, a well-being, this would be to take his own, and that which he owes us not; this he might take, considered as our proprietor, and without respect to his promise; that indeed declares that he will not so use us, but otherwise, setting that aside, he hath right to do it, and might inflict what pain he would, and continue it as long as he pleased, as a mere affliction, without respect to sin, though not as a punishment. If freedom from pain, any degree of it, be not due to us, then it would be no wrong to inflict it on us in any degree, and if freedom from it for a moment is not our due, then it would be no injury to inflict it for any continuance; for it is no wrong to deny us that which is not due to us, and that is not due to us which we cannot challenge as our own. And what can we count our own, if being, well-being, and all, be wholly and absolutely his, who is Lord and owner of all? In that which is not due to us, we can have no right; and in that where we have no right, we can have no wrong; and so the Lord, as owner of us and all things, may deal with us, or any, as he will, without doing us any wrong.

—David Clarkson, The Lord the Owner of All Things, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:380–381

Posted 2017·12·06 by David Kjos
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