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And his will is infinitely wise, right and good. It is not bett that all mankind should be saved, moft for the glory of God, and the greatest good of the whole ; but, that the design of Christ in dying to redeem finners inay in the best inanner and highest degree be answered, some must be given up to the destruction which they deserve ; and who is better able to determine this, and how many and what individuals fhall be saved, than He who is infinite in wisdom, rectitude and goodness, who cannot make any mistake, or do the least wrong to any creature? Yea, who can do it but He? Every one who has a spark of true wisdom and goodnefs will earnestly desire that He may fix this matter with respect to cvery individuai; and rejoice that it is, and will be, done by Him. And who has a better, or any right to do this, than He who has made and is the absolute and only proprietor of all creatures ? “ Hath not the potter power over the clay of the fame lump, to make one vefn fel unto honour and another unto difhondur?"
To every benevolent friend of Christ the Saviour, it is most desirable and pleasing that he should have ail things in his hand, and save as many and whom he will, and leave whom he will to destruction. He has a peculiar right to this, since he has been at such infinite expense to redeem finners, that he should accomplish the end of his sufferings and death in the best manner, and fve of the travail of his foul and be fatisfied, to have every thing effected with regard to the redemption of man fo as in the highest degree to please his wisdom and goodness. To this end he has every creature and thing in the universe put into his hands, and he directs every motion and event among creatures to answer the purpose for which he died, which he will accomplish in the beit manner, perfectly agreeable to infinite wisdom and goodness. He will save all of the human race who can be favcd consistent with wisdom and infinite goodness. And to all who trust in him he is an almighty friend and protector, and will secure them from all evil, and cause all things to work together for their good, and
will make them perfectly holy, and carry them through death to heaven in the best manner and time, and they shall inherit all things forever.
In sum, all things and every event are constantly under the direction and controul of infinite wisdom, rectitude and goodness, and are conducted and going on in the best manner, as fast as can be, to the most agreeable and happy iffue possible, the greateit, most bright and happifying exhibition of the divine character, and the highest glory and felicity of the everlasting kingdom of God, from which no crcature will be excluded, but those whose presence there is inconsistent with the glory of God, and the greatest good of his kingdom, and therefore contrary to wisdom and goodness, and who do at the fame time exclude themselves. Every thing, circumstance and event is right; and all conspire to promote the greatest good, and, all things considered, it is on the whole best that they should be just what they are, and take place exactly as they do. No alteration can poslibly be made, without injuring and spoiling the divine plan, formed by infinite understanding, wisdom and goodness. All this is to be seen with the greatest certainty in the infinitely important and excellent character, works, and revealed designs, of the glorious Saviour of the world.
Surely no intelligent and truly benevolent person can believe and realize all this without feeling a peculiar pleasure and joy, which will more than support him under, and counterbalance, all the evil which he may feel, or that is in his view. He can, with peculiar fatiffaction and joy, say, “ Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath thou shalt reIrain. The Lord Jesus Christ reigns, let the earth rejoice. Rejoice always in the Lord, and again I say, rejoice evermore; for He brings the greatest good out of all evil, and this shall certainly be the happy issue of
He is the rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is He.”
Here it may be useful to attend to and answer several questions which may arise in the minds of some.
Question. How can we have any joy or comfort in any or all of this, while we do not know, and have lit. tle or no evidence or hope, that we are interested in all this good, but fear that Christ does not intend to fave us, and that we shall perish forever? If we knew we were Chriftians, and real friends to Christ, and should be faved, this would give us comfort and joy ; but as we know not that this is true, and do often much doubt of it, what is all the good, which has been represented as the issue of all evil, to us, while we know not that we shall have any part in it; but may be caft off, and miserable forever?
ANSWER. If you are wholly felfish, and have no desire that God may be glorified, and the greatest good of his kingdom promoted, and can take no pleasure in the prospect and assurance of this, unless you are certain your own personal happiness will be secured and promoted hereby, then this discovers and decides your state and character, that you are not a real friend to Christ and his church, and no true Chriftian. All your hope and thoughts of this are a mere delusion, and ought to be immediately dismissed. You must be born again of the Holy Spirit, and become new creatures, before you can be Christians. But if you have any true benevolence, and are friends to Christ and his cause and in. terest, and the greatest happiness of his church and kingdom, you cannot but have comfort, pleasure and joy in the view and afsurance that all things and every event, however evil and of a bad tendency in itfelf, will be overruled by him for his honour and the greatest good of his kingdom; that his interest is secure, and will be promoted by every thing that takes place, without considering your own personal interest, whether this is secure or not. And indeed you cannot know or have any ground to think or hope that you have an interest in Christ, and shall be saved, until you have this ber.evolent affection towards Christ and his people, and are
conscious that it does take place in your hearts iñi fome degree, or those exercises which imply this, or are implied in it. But when these exercises and benevolent affections take place in your hearts, and arise to such Itrength and constancy, that, when you reflect upon your own views and feelings, you are conscious that you have them, that you are pleased and have enjoyment and comfort in the thought and assurance that Chrift will get honour by all the fins of men, and opposition made to him by men and devils, and the con. sequent ruin of those who perish, and that all will issue in the greatest possible good, on the whole, you will have reason to hope and conclude that you are friends to Chrift, and shall partake in all the happiness and glory of his eternal kingdom, and may, in this way arrive to a degree of assurance of it. And this is the only proper and safe way of obtaining a true and weil grounded hope and confidence that you are real Chriftians, and shall be saved. And as this hope increases and continues, your comfort and joy will be increased. But your comfort and joy does not so depend upon or consist in this, that, if this confidence and hope should give way to doubt and fear, all your comfort and joy would cease ; you could and would even then rejoice in the character, glory and happiness of the Saviour, and that all things were conducted by him so as to answer the beft end ; that he would save all that can be saved confiftent with wisdom and goodness, with his glory and the greatest good of his church, whether you are included in that number or not: and if you find you can and do rejoice in this view, it is a good, perhaps the best evidence, that you belong to that number.
There are too many profelling Christians whose reli: gious comfort and joy appear to consist wholly in a hope or confidence that they shall be faved; their comfort rises in proportion to the degree and strength of their hope, and when that sinks and fails, and is even given up, their comfort is all gone, and all is darkitess and gloom ; so that all light and comfort with them in
their religion consists in thinking, or a hope, that their own personal interest is fêcure, and all their religious darkness and trouble arise from doubts of this. Their comfort first began in a hope and belief that they should be faved, and fill depends wholly upon this. This does not look like the experience of true Christians, but to be a wholly fellifh religion, as different from real Christian exercises, as darkness is froin light,
Question II. But must Christians pay no regard to their own interest? May they not feel and dread personal pain and inisery? And may not their own fins and sufferings occafion grief and sorrow? And ought they not to feel for the fins and calamities of others, and the sinful, wretched state of mankind in general, and mourn and lament, in the view of these evils? Muft they always be all joy and gladness, and feel no mental pain and forrow?
ANSWER. A Christian ought to regard his personal interest according to its comparative greatness and real worth ; but must have no interest of his own, distinct and separate from the general interest, or the highest and belt interest of the whole universe. This is the interest to be regarded and fought supremely, and the in. terest of every individual of this whole, according to the importance and worth of it ; and as this must be small and inconsiderable in comparison with the grand interest of the whole, it must be difregarded and given up,
if it be inconsistent with the greatest good of the whole. And he must and will have an averfion from and dread of personal pain and suffering, as it is in itself an evil ; but this is consistent with rejoicing at the same time in the happiness of others, and in the greatest general good, and he will have a peculiar fatisfaction and joy when he believes and realizes that his pain and suffering will promote the gaod of the whole, which is in all instances true by the superintending care of the Re. deemer. Thus the apostles, when they were beaten and put to thamé by the council of the Jews, “ departed