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impending danger, or to be made partaker of extraordina ry bleffings, the lofs or fuffering of the one, feems to fet off the fuperior happiness of, or the favor beftowed upon the other. To apply this to the fubject we are now upon, there is a double diftinction pointed out in fcripture; one of our nature, in oppofition to the fallen angels; and the other, of particular perfons, as the vessels of mercy.
(1.) There is an evident distinction between our nature and that of the fallen angels: Heb. ii. 16. "For ve"rily he took not on him the nature of angels; he took " on him the feed of Abraham." 2 Pet. ii. 4. "God fpared not the angels that finned, but caft them down to "hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be "referved unto judgment." I am fenfible, that upon this fubject we may be fometimes in danger of speaking with impropriety, especially if we pretend to affign the reafous of God's procedure any further than he hath been pleafed himself explicitly to reveal them. There can be no doubt that the Lord of all, God infinitely wife, had the beft reasons for his conduct, the most noble and excellent purposes in view in every thing that he ordained; but they are not discovered to us, and perhaps they are above our comprehenfion. The fingle point we are called to attend to, is the diftinction infinitely gracious which is made in our favor. A Saviour is provided for us, a mercy infinite in itself, and the more highly to be prized, that (Jude, verse 6) the angels, our fellow-creatures, "who kept "not their first eftate, but left their own habitation, he "hath referved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto "the judgment of the great day." If we fhould attempt a comparison between ourfelves and these fpirits of higher order, we could find no ground of preference in our own favor; perhaps we fhould find many things that might feem to operate a contrary way; but it is fafeft, in humility and gratitude to fay with the Pfalmift, Pfal. cxv. 3, "Our God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he
(2.) But this is not all; there is alfo a diftinction of particular perfons as the veffels of mercy. Since I am introducing this fubject, to prevent mistakes, I muft obferve,
that every finner of the race of Adam who fhall perish eternally, fhall also perish most juftly; his blood fhall lie at his own door, and he fhall be found guilty of rejecting the counfel of God against himself. At the fame time, all who are effectually brought to the faving knowledge of God through Christ, shall be obliged to confess, that they were brought in by almighty power, or, in the language of the Holy Ghoft, 1 Pet. i. 2. that they are "elect accor ding to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through "fanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling "of the blood of Jefus Chrift."
On this, as on the former branch of this head, it may be obferved, that we must not prefume to penetrate into the unfearchable depth of the divine counfels; but at the fame time it must be remembered, that we are not permitted, and cannot pretend, to find the reafons of preference in ourselves; for no flesh may glory in his prefence. God in many paffages afferts his own fovereignty and perfect liberty in the distribution of his grace: Rom. ix. 15, 16.
For he faith to Mofes, I will have mercy on whom I "will have mercy, and I will have compaffion on whom I "will have compaffion. So then it is not of him that "willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that fhew"eth mercy." And again, in the 18th verfe, "There"fore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and "whom he will he hardeneth." Nothing can be harder, indeed, than for the proud and carnal mind to bow before the fovereignty of God; yet nothing is more evident, than that the destination of the veffels of mercy doth not proceed. upon the ordinary grounds of human eftimation. Nay, there feems to be an exprefs defign to flain the pride of all human glory: 1 Cor. i. 26, 27. "For you fee your calling, brethren, how that not many wife men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God "hath chofen the foolish things of the world, to confound "the wife; and God hath chofen the weak things of the "world, to confound the things which are mighty." Experience daily illuftrates this; for while we fee fome brought to an entire fubmiffion to the gospel, and an obedient conformity to the will of God, we fee many of equal
of greater rank, of equal or of greater ability and endowments of mind, and favored with equal or fuperior advantages and opportunities of inftruction, who yet continue to bear the marks of reprobation. The fame mercies difpofe one to thankfulness, and inspire another with pride. The fame trials will foften one heart, and harden another. All this our Redeemer makes the fubject of a folemn thanksgiving to God, Luke x. 21. "In that hour Jefus rejoiced in fpirit, and faid, I thank thee, O Father, Lord "of heaven and earth, that thou haft hid these things from "the wife and prudent, and haft revealed them unto babes: "even fo, Father, for fo it feemed good in thy fight." Who that believes, in this affembly, will presume to take the least part of the honor of it to himself, or will refuse to adore the diftinguishing love of God? And how often muft those who bare the message of peace be obliged to feek the caufe of an unsuccessful gospel in the counfels of the Moft High? 2 Cor. iv. 3. "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid "to them that are loft; in whom the god of this world "hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, left "the light of the glorious gospel of Chrift, who is the im66 age of God, fhould fhine unto them."
5. The love of Chrift was an expensive love. So great a deliverance would have called for the most humble and thankful acknowledgment, though it had been as much without price to the Saviour as to the finner. But oh! my brethren, how far was it otherwife! and what fhall we think or fay of the love of Chrift, when we confider how much it coft him to procure falvation for us! when we confider the depth of his humiliation, the variety, the continuance, and the greatness of his fufferings! You cannot but be fenfible how frequent mention is made of this in fcripture, or rather how feldom it is omitted when the love of Chrift is introduced at all. It is the circumftance particularly pointed at in the text, Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. The fame thing appears from the other doxologies, or acts of worship to the Saviour, which are contained in this book, as Rev. v. 9. "And they fung a new fong, faying, Thou "art worthy to take the book, and to open the feals there- VOL. I. 3 R
"of; for thou waft flain, and haft redeemed us to God "by thy blood." It appears alfo, from the frequent mention of the crofs of Chrift, on which his fufferings were completed. Nay, of fo much moment was this, that it feenis to have made the fum of the gofpel, as preached by the pofles; 1 Cor. ii. 2. "For I determined not to "kr any thing among you, fave Jefus Chrift, and him 《《,༦། ed."
The Terits of Chrift, then, ought to be ever prefent to the mod of the believer. The neceffity and importance of this is plain from both the feals of the covenant of grace. The water in baptifm reprefents the blood of Chrift; and we are told, Rom. vi. 3. "Know ye not, "that fo many of us as were baptized into Jefus Chrift, "were baptized into his death." The inftitution of the Lord's fupper alfo had the remembrance of Chrift's fufferings as its direct and immediate intention; 1 Cor. xi. 24, 25, 26. “And when he had given thanks, he brake
it, anaid, Take, eat; this is my body, which is bro"ken or you: this do in remembrance of me. After the "fame manner alfo he took the cup, when he had fupped, "faying, This cup is the new teftament in my blood: "this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, "ye do fhew the Lord's death till he come." Remember, then, Christians, how he left the throne of his glory, and took upon him the form of a fervant. Remember him despised and rejected of men, a man of forrows, and acquainted with grief. His life indeed was one continued fcene of forrow, from the cradle to the grave.
I hope the particulars of his fufferings are not strangers to your meditations: may the Lord enable you to contemplate them with faith and love. Remember his agony in the garden, when he fuffered from his Father's hand: For" it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to "grief." Think, O Christian, what it was to redeem a loft world, when you hear him faying, as in John xii. 27. "Now is my foul troubled; and what fhall I fay? Fa"ther, fave me from this hour; but for this cause came "I unto this hour." Remember him feized by the treach
ery of one of his own difciples; accused and arraigned as a felon; dragged to the tribunal of an unrighteous judge; clothed with a purple robe, and crowned with thorns in derifion of his kingly office; feverely fcourged; blindfolded, buffeted, and fpit upon; and the whole indeed fo conducted by the righteous permiffion and unfeen direction of divine providence, that hardly any expreflion, either of cruelty or contumely, was omited. Ceafe to wonder, my dear friends, that profane wretches deride the figns of his fufferings, when you remember, that the blinded ramble attending the important trial were permitted to infult him, faying, "Prophefy unto us, thou "Chrift, who is he that finote thee."
Remember him going forth without the camp, bearing his reproach. Remember that fpotlefs victim, the Lamb of God, ftretched upon a crofs, and nailed to the accurfed tree, while he fuffered all that the extremity of bodily pain, and the most unutterable anguifa of spirit, could poffibly inflict upon an innocent creature. No wonder that the earth did fhake, that the rocks were rent, and the natural fun refused to give his light, when the Sun of Righteoufnefs was under fo great an eclipfe. Did the Saviour then willingly fubmit to all this pain and ignominy for our fakes? Was not this the most expenfive love; and can we refufe to fay with the multitude of the heavenly hoft, Rev. v. 12. "Worthy is the Lamb that was flain, to re"ceive power, and riches, and wifdom, and ftrength, and “honor, and glory, and bleffing ?"
6. The love of Chrift was the most generous and disinterested love. The fuppofition or fufpicion of any interested views in what one perfon does for another, nay, even the poffibility of his ferving any purpose of his own at the fame time, greatly abates the value of any favor, and leffens the fenfe of obligation. But nothing of this kind can be fo much as imagined here. It was giving to those from whom he could receive nothing, and emptying himself of that glory to which the whole creation could not make any addition. The truth is, we ought to confider in the fame light every other mercy of God, as well, as the love of Chrift his Son, which was the fource of