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the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” And you will be pleased to observe,
I. It is God's own purpose. The contrivance, the discovery, the progress, the accomplishment, all, all is from heaven. In what relates to this world, in what contributes to the fuftentation and comfort of a tranfient life, human fagacity, ingenuity and industry may challenge a little praise. Men foon invented and im. proved the neceffary, useful, and ornamental arts. They soon learned to build cities, to work in brass and iron, to “ handle the harp and organ.” But their dexterity, address, perseverance and success in the pursuit of perishable interests, form an humiliating contrast with their aukwardness, indolence, inattention and incapacity in their higher, their spiritual and ererlasting concerns. Wife in trifles, or to do evil, how to do good they find not. The experiment was permitted to be fully made. It was proved how far the powers of nature could go. Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome, improved one upon another; and what was the result? “ The world by wisdom knew not God.”' They became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools; and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.”*
To increase our wonder and mortification, when God's purpose of mercy was declared, when his method of salvation was revealed, men were “flow of heart to believe.”. They “refifted the Holy Spirit ;" Chrift
came to his own and his own received him not." The disciples themselves understood not, believed not “ what the prophets had spoken.” No wonder then that the doctrine of the cross was “ to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness." Here then is a purpose, which not only is not of man's forming, but which man uniformly and violently opposed.
* Rom. i. 22, 23.
In other cases, we behold the wisdom of God blending itself with human counsels, directing, subduing them to its determination, and the great God graciously condescending to divide his glory with the creature.
But if there be a design more peculiarly his, from which he claims undivided praise, which was not, which could not be of man, nor“ according to our works,” it is this, the gracious design of “ faving them that believe," by Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
II. This leads us forward to observe, that, as the work of redemption is JEHOVAH's own peculiar pur, pose, so it is a purpose of grace. The thoughts of the Father of spirits” are unfolded, and they are “ thoughts of peace.” Transporting view! Behold the greatest and most glorious of all beings employing himself in devising the means of doing good, of communicating happiness, of relieving the miserable ; and forming a scheme of benevolence which extends from eternity to eternity, and comprehends innumerable myriads of rational beings restored, recovered from ignorance, from guilt, from misery, to wisdom, to holiness, to perfect and exalted felicity. Blessed purpose ! The formation of man, the creation of an universe are only parts of it. Man was formed that he might be redeemed; was sent into this world to be prepared for “ heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The firmament was expanded, adorned, lighted up, to witness the display of “the exceeding riches of the grace of God, in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus ;' and every succeslive opening of the plan of Providence is only a new discovery, a more endearing expression of the love of Christ " which passeth knowledge,” of “ the peace of God which pafleth all understanding." Think, () guilty man, think, O my soul, what a purpose of justice, think what a purpose of wrath would have been, had “God sent his Son into the world to condemn the world !”—The spirit fails at the dreadful thought. Behold an insulted God descending to con
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found the pride and presumption of the builders of Babel; and mark their speedy dispersion. Behold a righteous God descended on a purpose of fiery indignation against polluted Sodom; and confider, in trembling filence, the smoke of her torment afcending up to heaven. Behold a whole world of ungodly men overwhelmed with the waters of a deluge; and learn how dreadful, how inconceivably dreadful a deliberate purpose of vengeance is. And, when
pondered it well, reflect with wonder, gratitude and delight, that “God fo loved the world that he gave
his only begotten Son, that whofoever believeth in him fhould not perish, but have everlasting life ;"* that Christ came to feek and to fave that which was loft. Again,
111. This purpose of God, this purpose of grace was formed, before the world began. Human purposes are feeble, fluctuating, unenlightened ; obstructed by unforeseen events, they are constrained to change their direction, and to assume a new form. The imperfect work which through many difficulties is at length executed, bears no manner of resemblance to the original design. Man performs what he may, because he cannot effect what he would. He is governed by circumstances over which he has no power. But the distinctions of paft and future vanish away from before the eye of God. There can be no difficulty in the way of almighty power, nothing concealed from the view of omniscience. The duration of a world shrinks into a fingle moment before Him who is " from everlating to everlasting.” Contingency and chance can have no effect on the counsels of Him “who seeth the end from the beginning,” and faith, “ My counsel shall stand, and I will fulfil all my pleasure.
Christianity as old as the creation. It boasts a much more ancient date. The creation is of yesterday, the world is not yet fix thousand years old, but christianity is of the effence of God himself. It bears date “ of old, even from everlasting.” “ This pure river of water of life” proceeds out of the throne of God, who dwells in inaccessible light. Imagination wearies. itself, thought is loft, in tracing it up to its source, Bless the Lord, O my soul, who from eternity, in the greatness of his might, in the plenitude of his goodness, in the incomprehensibility of his wisdom, condescended to fix the bounds of thy habitation, to arrange the events of thy mortal existence, to prepare thy place in the heavenly manfions; who before the world began” surveyed with complacency and delight his own benevolent design, his own glorious work, the universe which he was about to speak into being, the bit of clay he was to fashion into a man, the im, mortal spirit which his breath was to inspire, the. needy perishing wretch whom his mercy was to redeem. But
* John iii. 16.
IV. The blessed Author of this gracious, everlasting purpose, has revealed and bestowed it in his own way, He s hath saved us,” “not according to our works, nor in the
way of our own wisdom-it is given us in Christ Jesus. From the formation of the merciful plan of salvation to its consummation in glory, the necesity of a Mediator is never for a single moment left out of view. His name, like a sweet perfume, is wafted on the wings of every wind. Survey the world of nature through all its vast extent, and in its minutest particle, and we behold the omnific “ Word by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made that is made.” He also “upholdeth all by the word of his power;" “ all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth.” Open the history of redemption at whatever page, and it still unfolds the mercy of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Con. ducted of the Spirit back to the eternal days of uncre, ated light, admitted to the deliberations of the couns cils of peace, we hear the Son of God proclaim, I an Alpha,” “the beginning.” Carried forward in joyful hope to the day when he fall “ make all things
new," the fame voice still proclaims, “ I am Omega,' " the ending,” “who was, and is, and is to come.” Search the scriptures; consult the prophets ;. to him they “all give witness." Meditate the promises ; “ all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God.” Examine the record; “this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath
Consider the ministration of angels; the covenant of promise “ was ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator.” Hearken to a voice from the most excellent glory: “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear him.” All is light and glory; but not a single ray of light is transmitted through any medium but this. All is grace-free, sovereign grace; but there is not one intimation given, not one act of favour conferred, but through the “ one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.” To him let every knee bow, to him every tongue confess, of things in earth and things in heaven. What faith the scripture? “He putteth no trust in his faints, and his angels he chargeth with folły.” Is not this a plain declaration, that the highest and holiest of created beings are imperfect and dependent; that they stand in need of a Mediator and Advocate in order to their acceptance with a holy God? And is it not for this reason, that, “when he bringeth in the First-begotten into the world, he faith, And let all the angels of God worship him ?”—It being the fundamental law of God's everlasting kingdom before the world was, and after it shall be burnt up and pass away, with all that it contains, under patriarchs, prophets and apostles, under the legal and under the evangelical dispensation, under the dominion of grace and in glory, on earth and in heaven, that there should be access to, hope in, and acceptance with God, for men and for angels, only through the Son of his
love, Jobn v. 11, 12.