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When I say, this work is CARRIED ON FROM THE FALL OF MAN TO THE END OF THE WORLD, I do not mean, that nothing was done in order to it before the fall of man. Some things were done before the world was created; yea, from eternity. The persons of the Trinity were, as it were, confederated in a design, and a covenant of redemption. In this covenant the Father had appointed the Son, and the Son had undertaken the work; and all things to be accomplished in the work were stipulated and agreed. There were things done at the creation of the world, bearing on this work; for the world itself seems to have been created in order to it. The work of creation was in order to God's work of providence. So that if it be inquired, which are greatest, the works of creation or those of providence; I answer, the works of providence; because those of providence are the end of the works of creation; as the building of a house, or the forming of a machine, is for its use. But God's main work of providence is this of redemption, as will more fully appear. The creation of heaven was in order to this work; as a habitation for the redeemed; Matt. 25:34. 6. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world." Even the angels were created to be employed in this work. And therefore the apostle calls them " ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation :" Heb. 1: 14. As to this lower world, it was doubtless created to be a stage upon which this great and wonderful work of redemption should be transacted: and therefore, as might be shown in many respects, this world is wisely fitted,
in its formation, for such a state of man as he is in since the fall, under a possibility of redemption.
Nor is it meant that there will be no remaining fruits of this work after the end of the world. That glory and blessedness that will be the sum of all the fruits, will remain to all the saints for ever. The work of redemption is not a work always doing and never accomplished. The fruits of it are eternal, but the work has an issue. In the issue the end will be obtained ; which end will last for ever. As those things which were in order to this work-God's electing love, and the covenant of redemptionnever had a beginning; so the fruits of this work will never have an end. And therefore,
When I say that this is a work that God is carrying on from the fall of man to the end of the world, I mean that those things which belong to this work itself, and are parts of the scheme, are all this while accomplishing. There were some things done preparatory to its beginning, and the fruits of it will remain after it is finished. But the work itself was begun immediately upon the fall, and will continue to the end of the world. The various dispensations of God during this space belong to the same work, and to the same design, and have all one issue; and therefore are all to be reckoned but as several successive motions of one machine to bring about in the conclusion one great event.
And here also we must distinguish between the parts of redemption itself, and the parts of the work by which that redemption is wrought out. There is a difference between the benefits, and the work of God by which those benefits were procured and bestowed. For example, the redemption of Israel out
of Egypt, considered as the benefit .which they enjoyed, consisted of their deliverance from bondage and misery; and their being brought into a more happy state, as the servants of God and heirs of Canaan, But there are many more things which are parts of that work, To this belong his calling of Moses, his sending him to Pharaoh, the signs and wonders he wrought in Egypt, his bringing such terrible judgments on the Egyptians, and many other things.
Such is this work by which God effects redemption, and it is carried on from the fall of man to the end of the world, in two respects.
1. With respect to the effect wrought on the souls of the redeemed; which is common to all ages. This effect is the application of redemption with respect to the souls of particular persons, in converting, justifying, sanctifying, and glorifying them. By these things they are actually redeemed, and receive the benefit of the work in its effects. And in this sense the work of redemption is carried on in all ages, from the fall of man to the end of the world. The work of God in converting souls, opening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, raising the spiritually dead to life, and rescuing miserable captives out of the hands of Satan, was begun soon after the fall, has been carried on ever since, and will be to the end of the world. God has always had such a church in the world. Though oftentimes it has been reduced to a very narrow com. pass, and to low circumstances; yet it has never wholly failed.
And as God carries on the work of converting the souls of fallen men through all ages, so he goes
on to justify them, to blot out all their sins, and to accept them as righteous in his sight, through the righteousness of Christ. He goes on to adopt and receive them from being the children of Satan, to be his own children, to carry on the work of his grace which he has begun in them, to comfort them with the consolations of his Spirit, and to bestow upon them, when their bodies die, that eternal glory which is the fruit of Christ's purchase. What is said, Rom. 8:30, " Whom he did predestinate, them he also called ; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified;"—is applicable to all ages, from the fall to the
: end of the world. And the way of effecting this, is by repeating continually the same work over again, though in different persons, from age to age. But,
2. The work of redemption with respect to the grand design in general, as it respects the universal subject and end, is carried on-not merely by repeating or renewing the same effect in the different subjects of it, but—by many successive works and dispensations of God, all tending to one great effect, united as the several parts of a scheme, and altogether making up one great work. Like a temple that is building; first the workmen are sent forth, then the materials are gathered, the ground is fitted, and the foundation laid; then the superstructure is erected, one part after another, till at length the topstone is laid, and all is finished. The work of redemption, in this large sense, may be compared to such a building. God began it immediately after the fall, and will proceed to the end of the world.
Then shall the top-stone be brought forth, and all will appear complete and glorious.
This work is carried on in the former respect as being an effect common to all ages; and in the latter respect, the grand design in general, not only by that which is common to all ages, but by successive works wrought in different ages, all parts of one great scheme. It is this last that I shall chiefly insist upon, though not excluding the former; for one necessarily supposes the other.
I proceed to show what is the design of this great work, or what is to be accomplished by it. In order to see how any design is carried on, we must first know what it is. To know how a workman proceeds, and to understand the various steps he takes in order to accomplish a piece of work, we need to be informed what he intends to accomplish; otherwise we may stand by, seeing him do one thing after another, and be quite puzzled, because we see nothing of his scheme. Suppose an architect, with a great number of hands, were building a palace ; and a stranger to such things should stand by, and see some men digging in the earth, others bringing timber, others hewing stones, and the like; he might see that there was a great deal done, but if he knew not the design, it would all appear to him confusion. And therefore, that the great works and dispensations of God which belong to this great work of redemption may not appear like confusion to you, I would notice briefly the main things designed to be accomplished.
1. It is to put all God's enemies under his feet, and that his goodness may finally appear triumphant