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ceived of that could be lovely in God, that is not in him, and that in the greatest possible degree.
And you have no reason for this from what God has done. For he has been a good and bountiful God to you. He has exercised abundance of kindness to you; has carried you from the womb, preserved your life, taken care of you, and provided for you, all your life long. He has exercised great patience and long suffering towards you. If it had not been for the kindness of God to you, what would have become of you? What would have become of your body? And what, before this time, would have become of your soul? And you are now, every day, and hour, maintained by the goodness and bounty of God. Every new breath you draw, is a new gift of his to you. How causelessly then are you such dreadful enemies to God! And how justly might he for it eternally deprive you of all mercy, seeing you do thus requite God for his mercy and kindness to you!
2. Consider, how you would resent it, if others were such enemies to you, as you are to God. If they had their hearts so full of enmity to you; if they treated you with such contempt, and opposed you, as you do God; how would you resent it? Do you not find that you are apt greatly to resent it, when any oppose you, and show an ill spirit towards you! And though you excuse your own enmity against God from your corrupt nature that you brought into the world with you, which you could not help; yet you do not excuse others for being enemies to you from their corrupt nature that they brought into the world, which they could not help; but are ready bitterly to resent it notwithstanding.
Consider therefore, if you, a poor unworthy, unlovely creature, do so resent it, when you are hated, how may God justly resent it when you are enemies to him, an infinitely glorious Being; and a Being from whom you have received so much kindness!
3. How unreasonable is it for you to imagine that you can oblige God to have respect to you by any thing that you can do, continuing still to be his enemy. If you think you have prayed and read, and done something considerable for God; yet who cares for the seeming kindness of an enemy? What value would you yourself set upon a man making a show of friendship, when you knew at the same time, that he was inwardly your mortal enemy? Would you look upon yourself obliged for such respect and kindness? Would you not rather abhor it? Would you count such respect to be valued, as Joab's towards Amasa, who took him by the beard, and kissed him, and said, Art thou in health, my brother?-and smote him at the same time under the fifth rib, and killed him! What if you do pray to God? Is he obliged to hear the prayers of an enemy? What if you have taken a great deal of pains, is God obliged to give heaven for the prayers of an enemy: He may justly abhor your prayers, and all that you do in religion, as the flattery of a mortal enemy.
Hence we may learn,
1. How wonderful is the love that is manifested in giving Christ to die for us. For this is love to enemies.
“ While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” How wonderful was the love of God the Father, in giving such a gift to those who not only could not be profitable to bim, but were his enemies, and to so great a degree! They had great enmity against him; yet so did he love them, that he gave his own Son to lay down his life, in order to save their lives. Though they had enmity that sought to pull God down from his throne; yet he so loved them, that he sent down Christ from heaven, from his throne there, to be in form of a servant; and instead of a throne of glory, gave him to be nailed to the cross, and to be laid in the grave, that so we might be brought to a throne of glory.
How wonderful was the love of Christ, in thus exercising dying love towards his enemies! He loved those that hated bim, with hatred that sought to take away his life, so as voluntarily to lay down his life, that they might have life through him. Herein is love; not that we loved him, but that he loved us, and laid down his life for us.
1. If we are all naturally God's enemies, hence we may learn what a spirit it becomes us as Christians to possess towards our enemies. Though we are enemies to God, yet we hope that God has loved us, that Christ has died for us, that God has forgiven or will forgive us; and will do us good, and bestow infinite mercies and blessings upon us, so as to make us bappy for ever. All this mercy, we hope has been, or will be exercised towards
Certainly then, it will not become us to be bitter in our spirits against those that are enemies to us, and have injured and ill treated us; and though they have yet an ill spirit towards us. Seeing we depend so much on God's forgiving us, though enemies, we should exercise a spirit of forgiveness towards our enemies. And therefore our Saviour inserted it in that prayer, which he dictated as a general directory to all; “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” to enforce the duty upon us, and to show us how reasonable it is. And we ought to love them even while enemies; for so we hope God hath done to us. We should be the children of our Father, who is kind to the unthankful and evi). Luke vi. 35.
If we refuse thus to do, and are of another spirit, we may justly expect that God will deny us his mercy, as he has threatened! If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you : but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your irespasses. Matt. vi. 14, 15. The same we have in the parable of the man who owed his lord ten thousand talents. Matt. xviii, 23-35,
WISDOM DISPLAYED IN SALVATION.
EPHESIANS iii. 10.
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in
heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
The apostle is speaking in the context of the glorious doctrine of the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ, and how it was in a great measure kept hid in the past ages of the world. It was a mystery, that before they did not understand, but now it was in a glorious manner brought to light, (ver. 3—5.) “By revelation he made known unto me the mystery, (as I wrote afore in few words; whereby when ye read ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets, by the Spirit :" And ver. 8, 9. “Unto me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world, hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ."
And the apostle in the text informs us, that what Christ had accomplished towards his church, in the work of redemption, had not only in a great measure unveiled the mystery to the church in this world; but God had more clearly and fully opened it to the understanding even of the angels themselves; and that this was one end of God in it, to discover the glory of his wisdom to the angels. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
One end of revealing God's counsels concerning the work of redemption, is making known God's wisdom. It is called manifold wisdom: because of the manifold glorious ends that are at
tained by it. The excellent designs, hereby accomplished, are very manifold. The wisdom of God in this is of vast extent. The contrivance is so manifold, that one may spend an eternity in discovering more of the excellent ends and designs accomplished by it; and the multitude and vast variety of things that are, by divine contrivance, brought to conspire to the bringing about those ends.
We may observe, to whom it is that God would manifest this his wisdom, by revealing the mystery of our redemption ;-and they are not only men, but the angels. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known-the manifold wisdom of God.” The angels are often called principalities and powers, because of the exalted dignity of their nature. The angels excel in strength and wisdom. Those who are the wise men of the earth are called princes in the style of the apostle, 1 Cor. ii. 6. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect, yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world. Ver. 8. Which none of the princes of this world knew ; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. So the angels are called principalities for their great wisdom. They may also be so called for the honour God has put upon them, in employing them as his ministers and instruments, wherewith he governs the world : and therefore are called thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, Col. i. 16.
They are called principalities and powers in heavenly places, as distinguishing them from those that are in places of earthly power and dignity. The offices, or places of dignity and power that the angels sustain, are not earthly but heavenly. They are in places of honour and power in the heavenly city and the heavenly kingdom.
One end of God in revealing his design of contrivance for redemption, as he hath so fully and gloriously done by Jesus Christ, is that the angels in heaven may behold the glory of his wisdom by it. Though they are such bright intelligences, and do always behold the face of God the Father; and know so much; yet here is matter of instruction for them. Here they may see more of the divine wisdom than ever they had seen before. It was a new discovery of the wisdom of God to them.
The time when this display of the wisdom of God was especially made to the angels is, when Christ introduced the gospel dispensation implied in these words, “To the intent that now unto the principalities,” &c. When Christ came into the world and died, and actually performed the work of redemptionwhen he had fully and plainly revealed the counsels of God concerning it; and accordingly introduced the evangelical dispensation, and erected the gospel church,--then the angels understood more of the mystery of man's redemption, and the mani