Page images

confidence, and the greatest satisfaction and pleasure. “ He beholds the hand of God conducting all the hidden Springs and movements of the universe, and, with a secret but unerring operation, directing every event," * so as to promote and effect the greatest possible good, his own glory and the greatest happiness of his kingdom, and of all who truft'in him; and with pleasure places the greatest and most unreserved confidence in him, and casts all his care upon him. “He rests in the Lord, and waits patiently for him."

Thus the pious, benevolent man trusts in God to glorify himself by all things, and all events, that take place, however dark, and of a contrary tendency, they may appear to him to be: ' And he implicitly, without feeing how it may be done, relies upon Him to bring good, unspeakable good, out of all evil ; so that no event shall take place that shall not be best, on the whole, and all shall issue to the greatest advantage to his fervants, and his eternal kingdom. And he places his hope and trust wholly in this God, for all he desires and wants for himself personally, and for his fellow creatures, for body or soul, in time and to eternity: and the language of his heart is that of David, [Psal. Ixii. 5, &c.] “My foul, wait thou only upon God : for my expectation is from him. He only is my Rock and my falvation ; he is my defence : I fhall not be moved. In God is my falvation and my glory : 'the Rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times, ye people ; pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us.'

In short, this doctrine, inculcated in our text, and taught through the whole Bible, being understandingly and cordially received, will pull down and destroy that felf-confidence and self-dependence, which is natural to man, and with which felf love inspires himn'; it is levelled directly against the selfishnefs and pride of man, and suited to cast down every high thing in his heart, which


* Dr. Blair's Sermons, vol. i. p. 46.

exalts itself against the knowledge of God'; to exalt God, and humble man, and form him to cleave to God and the Redeemer, in a humble trust and dependence on Him alone. No wonder then that this doctrine is fo disagreeable to those whose selfishness and pride have never been subdued, and has been so much opposed in this finful world.

4. An entire, unconditional resignation to the will of God, and pleasing acquiescence in it, is an essential part of true piety. In order to this, the will of God must be considered as unchangeably wise and good, and as wisely ordering and guiding all events to answer a good end; and ordering all evil as the necessary occasion and means of the greatest good. God cannot be omnipotent, infinitely wife and good, unless he has forea ordained whatsoever comes to pass; and therefore on any other supposition there would be no foundation or reason for an implicit, unreserved resignation to his will. The pious, benevolent mind cannot acquiesce in any thing or event which is not wife and good; it cannot be reconciled to evil, considered in itself, only as evil ; but in order to be pleased with its taking place, it must be considered in its connection with the good of which it is the occasion. Therefore true resignation to the will of God does suppose him to guide all the movements in the universe, and order all events in infinite wisdom and goodness. In this view, and certain of this, the language of the pious, benevolent heart is, “ Thy will be done ;” without making any exception or condition. Whatever evil takes place respecting himself or others, he is ready to espouse the language of pious Eli : " It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth good unto him.” He with pleasure exerciseth an unreserved submission and refignation to the all-wise and infinitely good Being:

5. Repentance towards God, and humbling ourselves in his fight for our sins, is included in the exercise of Christian piety. This consists in a sense and acknow, ledgment of the evil of 'lin, of its ill desert, feeling 'ourfelves wholly blameable and answerable for it, abhorring it, and condemning ourselves for it, renouncing it, and turning from it; in which the finner justifies God, and approves of his law, and condemns and takes shame to himself. This always takes place and is exercised in the view of those truths, which are at least implied in the doctrine which we are considering. And it is impossible the heart should repent while it opposes this doctrine, and those truths which are contained in it. This can be done only by an impenitent, selfish, proud heart, which does always oppose and hate this doctrine, though the underftanding and judgment may be convinced that it is true.

The doctrine of the decrees of God, foreordaining what'oever comes to pass, for his own glory and the greatelt general good, necessarily includes his hatred of lin, and ihe evil and criminal nature of it, as it oppofes the glory of God, and the general good; and the sinner,

who is guilty of it, does herein express his enmity against God, and the good which is the object of his decrees : and were the natural tendency and consequence of fin to take place, without being counteracted, and overruled to answer an end which fin and the finner oppose, God's, 'end in his decrees would be frustrated, he would be difhonoured, and good be destroyed by una limited evi).

The finner is as blameable and criminal, as if his fin was not overruled for good ; for the nature of it is juft as bad and unreasonable as if no good came of it; and fin is as great a crime as it would be, were there no divine decrees; and in fome respects greater : for the finner acts as freely as he could were there no decrees ; he has all the freedom that is in the nature of things possible; he acts voluntarily, and he opposes the wise, holy and benevolent decrees of God, and that infinitely wife, beautiful and benevolent plan which he has laid, and is executing, even in that very.fin and rebellion by which he is accomplifhing it. When the finner's eyes are opened to see all this, he fees the evil of fin, as it is


opposed to this infinitely great and glorious God, to all his wife and benevolent purposes and decrees, and to that wise, glorious and all-comprehending plan of his operations. He sees this, and adores, and his heart breaks and melts in contrition, and self-condemnation, humbling himself in the fight of this God. But the impenitent sinner is irreconcilable, and at enmity with such a God, and, in the pride and impiety of his heart,

replies against God," and says, “ Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will ?”

6. Religious joy in God, and his government and kingdom, is a branch of true piety. This is inculcated abundantly in the holy scripture; and Christians are commanded to “ rejoice always in the Lord.”. And we have many examples of the religious joy of pious persons. The fruit of the Spirit is joy. Believers rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; and this joy no man can take from them. This is the joy of the benevolent heart, in the exercise of that love to God, which has been described above, beholding him infinitely great and most blessed forever, having an uncontroulable dominion over all, decreeing and fixing from eternity every thing, and all events, in the wiselt and best manner, to promote and effect the most desirable and important end, and the greatest possible good of the whole. With this the benevolent mind is supported and pleased, in all the darkness, fin and evil which take place in this world, and in the view of what will exist forever in the world to come, knowing that God has ordered it all, for the sake of the good which he will bring out of it; that the wrath of man shall praise him ; and the remainder of wrath, which would not answer this, or any good end, he will effectually restrain and prevent. In this view he has solid, lasting support, comfort and joy, and says, “ The LORD REIGNETH, LET THE EARTH REJOICE. REJOICE IN THE LORD, YE RIGHTEOUS."

And as this truth, taken in the full latitude of it, is suited to support, comfort and rejoice the heart of the

pious friends of God, in whatever fituation they may be, and whatever may be the appearance of things around them; fo it is the only truth which can support them. If they give up or let goʻtheir hold of this strong foundation and prop, they must sink into gloom, forrow and despair. If they have no certainty that God cannot be disappointed in his counsel and designs, and thàt he has' fixed the best plan, including all events, which cannot be altered for the better; if they know not but things may take place, which are not on the whole best, but God might have been more glorified, and his people more happy, had' they not come to pass; and did they believe this to be the case; they must fink into darkness, grief and forrow, wliich no consideration could remove, but must abide on their minds forever.

· And when they behold the sin and universal apostacy of mankind, and the iníinitely dreadful evils that are the attendants and consequence of this, and know that this was not accidental, or aside from the divine plan; but has been ordered and determined by, God, that' the way, might be opened for Redemption by the Son of God, the most glorious work of God, by which he is glorified; the Redeemer exalted and honoured forever ; and the redeemed made most happy in the eternal kingdom of God, in which they hope also to Thare, and behold and love and serve and praise this God without end; their benevolent' joy rises still higher. And the more they contemplate this divine contrivance and plan, with all its appendages, and discern the manifold wifdom, and boundless goodness of it, the”more does their joy increase, and they are ready to exclaim, with St. Paul, 60, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways paft finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counfellør? Or who hath first given to him? and it shall be recompensed unto him again. For of him, and through him; and to him, are all things'; to whom be glory forever, Amen."


« PreviousContinue »