« PreviousContinue »
truths, both from the scriptures and from reason, which 'demands our careful attention.
The scriptures will appear, beyond a pollible doubt, to an attentive, honeit mind, to be on the same plan, and to exhibit these fame truths, from the beginning to the end. This is manifest in so many ways and inftances that they cannot be all mentioned here. It will be fufficient to suggest the following : “ The scripture faith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might fhew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” The wrath of Pharaoh was ordered and brought about by God in his providence on purpose that he might be praised and glorified ; that his name, his character and perfections might hereby be declared thoughout all the earth.
“What if God, willing to · thew his wrath, and make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ? Here the fin and destruction of those who perilh is represented as ordered by God for his praife, to manifest his hatred of sin, and his dreadful power in punishing finners who are finally impenitent.
The innumerable predictions in the scripture of events to be brought about, and which have been fulfilled by millions of millions of sinful exercises and actions of wicked men, and predictions of many particular fins which men thould commit, are an inconteftible evidence that God has the direction of all the sins of men, and that none can take place unless by his difpofal, so as to answer his ends, and promote his glory. Two or three instances may be mentioned to illustrate this remark.
The fin of the brethren of Joseph in selling him into Egypt, and all their anger and wrath which led to this, was determined and ordered by God for good, for his own praise and glory, and the good of his church. Therefore, God is said to have done it, and to fend Joseph into Egypt, meaning it all for good. And in this way the wrath of Joseph's mistress in Egypt, and of her husband, did praise God, and could not have
taken place, had it not been necessary to accomplish the benevolent purpose of God; and they and the brethren of Joseph were restrained from all that wrath and fin, which would defeat the prediction by the two dreams of Jofeph, and not answer the purpose of God, and praise him. The former were restrained from putting Jofeph to death, as they once proposed. And though Potiphar's "wrath was kindled,” when he heard the false accusation against Joseph by his wicked wife, yet his wrath was so restrained that he did not take away his life, which had either of them done, the divine plan could not have been executed.
But the most remarkable instance of this is the fin and wrath exercifed by men in the treatment of the Saviour of the world, and putting him to death in the most cruel manner. This was all particularly determined and appointed long before by God, and foretold by the prophets. Hear what they who were inspired say of this in their folemn address to God: “Lord, thou art God, who haft made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them; who by the mouth of thy fervant David haft said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth îtood up, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Christ. For of a truth, against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."
All this scene of fin and wrath against Jesus Christ was determined and directed by the hand and counsel, the power and wisdom, of God, which was necessary for the greatest display of the divine perfections in the redemption of finful man, which has ever been made, and could not have been made in any other way, and will be to his praise and glory forever, and the means of the unspeakably greater happiness and glory of all his friends, the members of his cternal kingdom.
And all this fin was ordered, to praise and glorify God, that he might hereby accomplish his wife and infinitely important designs. These finners were reftrained, and prevented committing all those finful acts which would not praise God, but, contrary to this, would counteract his wife purposes. Thus Herod was not able to put Christ to death in his infancy, when he attempted to do it. And the Jews were not allowed to lay their hands upon him and kill him, though they desired and often attempted to do it, as this would not have been to the praise of God, but the contrary, They were restrained from effecting their purpose, till the proper time came, when this horrid deed would praise God, and was necefsary to his accomplishing the infinitely wise and important ends he had in view.
And indeed there is the greatest certainty that the fins of men, in general, and the universal depravity, rebellion and guilt of mankind, were necessary in order to there being such a character as that of Jesus Christ the Redeemer, and the wonderful, glorious events which do and will take place in consequence of what he has done and suffered. For had there been no fin, by which the human race are fallen into a state of total ruin, there could not have been any Redeemer or redemption, by which God will be more praised and glorified than by all his other works. And indeed all his other works have reference to, and centre in, the glorious work of Redemption, and derive their chief glory from this, of which the sin of man laid the foun. dation, which therefore is necessary for the greatest and most bright display of the perfections of God, and the confequent praises from all his friends, and their happiness in the enjoyment of him forever.
And as sin in general, and the most remarkable instances of it recorded in fcripture, some of which have been mentioned, are made to praise God, there is hence ground of assurance that it does so in every instance, and that this is true of every sin that ever has been or will, be committed by man, and that not one fin which would
not praise God will ever take place, had not this been expressly asserted in our text. And it is important to be observed, that all the natural evil which is the consequence of fin, which does or ever will exist, will answer this end, and is necessary for the brightest manifestation and display of the divine perfections, and consequently for the greatest happiness of all the friends of God. This is implied in the words of the apostle Paul, when he says, “We are unto God a fweet favour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perifh." ACcording to this, the gospel produces that which is pleafing to God in the effect it has, not only in them who are saved, but also that which it has on those who pes rish. It is the occasion of discovering the total depravity, and exceeding hardness, and strength of the obstinacy, of the human heart, in the universal, ftrong and fixed disposition to reject the offers of mercy, which no means will overcome and subdue; which discovery could · not be made fo fully in any other conceivable way. The clear and striking manifestation of this will serve to display the righteousness and holy displeasure of God in punishing sinners with everlasting destruction, and inflicting a greatly aggravated punilhment on those who perish under the gospel, as neglecters and despisers of Christ and the great salvation.
The same sentiment is exprefled by this Apostle in the following words : “What if God willing [determining] to fhew his wrath, and make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vefsels of wrath, fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory?" Here God is represented, not only as designing to fhew his power, and his difpleasure with sinners by fitting them for destruction but also by this to make known the riches of his grace, in the salvation of the redeemed.
Thus it appears that there is the most clear and certain evidence from the holy scripture, that all the fins of men that have or ever will take place, with all their cire
cumstances, attendants and consequences, fhall praise God, thall serve to manifest and display his perfections, as otherwise could not have been done, and shall be the occasion of all that good, that glory and happiness of his eternal kingdom, which is implied in this; that it is the will of God that all this fin should exist just as it does and will do, to answer this end, and no more; there. fore all that fin which would not praise him, he wills fhall not exist, aud effectually reitrains.
And all this appears most reasonable, and may be ar. gued from the being and perfections of God revealed in the scriptures, in fo short and plain a way as to amount to a clear demonstration, to the reason of
every honest, unprejudiced person who will carefully attend to the subject.
Čod is omnipotent, and can do what he pleases. He is omniscient ; his knowledge extends to every thing. He is infinitely wise and good. He fees what is the greatest good on the whole, what is the wisest and best end, and what are the most wise and best way and means to accomplish it, and is difpofed, yea, has an infinite propensity, to do it. It is therefore certain that all things and events absolutely depended on his will from eterni. ty, for their existence, and the manner of it; therefore the plan of all future existence, of all creatures and events, and the particular manner and circumstances in which they should exist, was in the Divine Mind from eternity. And as it must be the wiseft and best pofsible plan, containing all the possible good that Infinite Wildom and Goodness could devise and desire, and Omni. potence execute, it cannot be altered in the most minute particular or circumstance, to eternity, And if this were poffible, it would be infinitely undesirable and calamitous, yea, an infinite evil. It is matter of the greatest joy that “the work of God is perfect," being decreed by him from eternity; that " whatsoever God doth, it shall be forever ; nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it;" that the counsel of the Lord standeth forever, and the thoughts of his hcart to