Asahel Nettleton, Asahel Nettleton: Life and Labors (1996), 199-200.
My present object is to shew, that it is a matter of rejoicing that the Lord thus reigns.
I am aware that it is not thus regraded by wicked men. There is no doctrine to which the natural heart is more bitterly opposed than that of the absolute sovereignty of Jehovah.
Wicked men are willing that God should govern the natural world—that he should regulate the motions of the planets, order the vicissitudes of day and night—of summer and winter—of seed time and harvest, and perform His pleasure in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. They do not object to the doctrine of God’s decrees so far as it relates to the natural world merely. But when we speak of the government of God over the moral world, the enmity of the heart is roused. ‘What! does God reign over moral agents?’
All the objections which I have ever heard against the doctrine of decrees or election, may be reduced to this one: If God operates on the hearts of men, and determines their actions, how can they be free? … Does God operate on the hearts of men, or does He not? If not, then we must not pray that He would do it.
No person can pray for himself without admitting that God can operate on his heart, and yet he be free. ‘Turn thou me, and I shall be turned’ (Jeremiah 31:18)—’Turn us, O God of our salvation’ (Psalm 85:4)—’Draw us and we will run after thee’ (Song of Solomon 1:4)—’Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10). These prayers are found in the Bible. But persons ought not to have prayed in this manner if God could not answer their prayers without destroying their free agency.