« הקודםהמשך »
enough for him that God has said it, and is able to make it good. This is a happy temper. In this way innumerable difficulties that arise from appearances and sophisms are avoided; and the mind, by faith, steers in safety across the immense ocean of conjectures and opinions, which disputants and reasoners essaying to do, áre sunk and overpowered. It is true, there are various degrees of this simplicity; and in those who possess it in a larger measure, there is a remaining principle of pride and unbelief, which costs them much prayer and many conflicts to subdue. But this, in some degree, is essential to the character of those who are taught of God; they desire and endeavour to submit wholly to his guidance and will in all things.
Here then is a proper topic for self-examination. Let each one ask his heart, Have I this simple childlike disposition ?
If you have, if it is the desire of your soul to be taught of God, if his word is your rule, if you depend on his Spirit to teach you all things, and to lead you as it were by the hand, sensible that, unless you are thus led and guided, you shall certainly go astray; be thankful for this, accept it as a token for good. You were not always so: there was a time when you were wise in your own eyes, and prudent in your own sight. You have good warrant to hope, that the Lord, who has already taught you to depend on himself, will show you all that is necessary for you to know.
But if this is not the case, if you lean to your own understanding, what wonder is it that you are still walking in darkness and uncertainty? Will you say, I have read the Bible diligently; I have taken no small pains to examine things, to see which of the many divisions
that obtain among Christians is possessed of the truth; but I am still at a loss: surely, if the tenets some plead for had been in the Scripture, I should have found them there! I answer, without detracting from your sagacity or your sincerity, your case is easily accounted for from the verse we are upon,
your inquiries are not conducted in a humble dependence upon the Spirit of God. Too many instances we could produce of men, who having laboured for years in what seems one of the most laudable undertakings, the explaining the Scriptures for the use of others, have at last been in a remarkable degree unsettled themselves; and the only visible fruits their reading and industry has afforded, have been error, invective, and dissatisfaction: so that their labours have been an exemplification of the former part of our text, a proof in point, how entirely the things of God are often hid from the wise and prudent.
You that are seeking the Lord, and are little in your own eyes, rejoice that the dispensation of grace is in his hands. If men had the disposal of it, you might perhaps have been overlooked. We should have been ready to have accepted the fair-spoken young man, who accosted our Lord with so much outward respect, and had so much to say in his own behalf* : and probably we should have left the thief upon the cross to perish like a wretch, as he deserved. " But the Lord seeth “ behold now is the day of salvation. Let the wicked “ forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his si thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, for he " will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he " will abundantly pardon.”
not as man seeth f.” “ His ways are higher than
our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts I.” Therefore there is encouragement for the meanest and the vilest. He has excluded none but those who exclude themselves. « Behold now is the accepted time,
* Mark, x. 20.
+ 1 Sam. xvi. 7.
Isa. lv. 7.-9.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF DIVINE GRACE . ASSERTED
MATTH. xi. 26.
Even so, Father, för so it seemed good in thy sight. THAT the doctrine in the preceding verse is true in fact, is sufficiently evident from common observation. The greatest part of those whom the world esteems
wise and prudent, and all to a man who think them'selves so, pay but small regard to the truths of the
Gospel. They are hid from their eyes, and revealed to babes, to those whom they despise on account of their ignorance and insignificance. And if a few who are favoured with considerable advantages in point of genius, education, or rank, do receive the truth in the love of it, they have been at least taught that they are no better than babes, and are glad to count all outward things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord.
If we could give no other reason for this dispensation of grace,
than that which is assigned in our text, it ought to be satisfactory; and would be so, if it was not for the pride of our hearts. Surely that which
seems good in the sight of God, must be holy, and wise, and good in itself. How vam and presumptuous is blinded man, that would dare to reply against his Maker, to charge his holiness with injustice, his wisdom with mistake, his goodness with partiality? All their vain cavils will be silenced at the great day, when the secrets of all hearts are opened, and God will be justified when he condemns. However, though we dare not venture too far into the depths of the divine counsels, yet, from the light he has afforded us in his word, we may, in our feeble manner, assert and prove, that his ways are just and equal : and, besides the argument of his sovereignty, “that so it has pleased him," he has been pleased to favour us. with some of the reasons, “why it has so pleased him.” And this is the sub
I propose to lead your meditations to from these words. May his Spirit assist me, that I may not darken counsel by words without knowledge.
Let us begin with' inquiring, What might be his principal ends in sending his Son into the world, that we might have life through him? These I apprehend were chiefly two.
1. The redemption and complete salvation of all that believe. All mankind are by nature in the same state of sin and misery. But we are told, that at the great day there will be an unspeakable difference in the circumstances between some and others. Many will then stand trembling at his left hand, to whom the King shall say, “Depart.” But those on the right hand will hear those joyful words, “ Come, ye blessed " of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you 66 from the foundation of the world.” If you ask, To what is this difference primarily owing? The answer
is provided : “ Jesus loved them, and washed them “ from their sins in his own blood; he redeemed them
every nation, and people, and language; they came out of great tribulation, and washed their
robes, and made them white in the blood of the “ Lamb; therefore are they before the throne.” It was then for their sakes, who should be hereafter found at the right hand of God, that “God sent forth his “Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to re-- deem them that were under the law, that we might 6 receive the adoption of sons."
2. But, besides this, God had another and a still higher end in the work of redemption, namely, the manifestation of his own glory. It was unspeakable love to us that he provided the means of salvation at all : and we cannot wonder, much less ought we to complain, that, in justice to himself, he appointed such means, and such a way, as that all the praise and glory of the contrivance should in the end redound to himself alone. In order to this, it was necessary that the following things should be manifested with the fullest evidence.
1st, The greatness of man's depravity, guilt, and misery: that it was not a small thing, but a case worthy the interposition of almighty power and infinite grace.
2dly, The utter insufficiency of man to relieve himself; that so God might have the whole honour of his recovery, and we might be for ever debtors to his free undeserved mercy.
3dly, That whereas there are, to outward appearance, a great variety of characters among mankind, it was necessary the dispensation of his grace should be so