Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

“ please not God, and are contrary to all men.” It well becomes us, while we admire distinguishing grace to ourselves, to mourn over others : and, inasmuch as secret things belong to the Lord, and we know not but some of whom we have at present but little hopes, may at last be brought to the knowledge of the truth, we should be patient and forbearing, after the pattern of our heavenly Father, and endeavour, by every probable and prudent means, to stir them up to repentance, remembering that they cannot be more distant from God, than by nature we were ourselves.

II. The best relief against those discouragements we meet with from men, is to raise our thoughts to God and heaven. For this the Lord Jesus is our precedent here. He said, “ I thank thee, O Father.” The word * signifies, to confess, to promise or consent, and to praise. As if it had been said, “ I glorify thy wisdom “ in this respect, I acknowledge and declare it is thy

will, and I express my own consent and approba66 tion.” Our Lord's views of the divine counsels were perfect, and therefore his satisfaction was complete. It is said, -" He rejoiced in spirit t,” when he uttered these words. And the more we increase in faith and in the knowledge of God, the more we shall be satisfied in his appointments, and shall see and say, He hath done “ all things well.” It is needful for our comfort, to be well established in the truth suggested in my text, that the Lord hath provided for the accomplishment of his own purposes, and that his counsels shall surely stand. From this doctrine we may infer,

* The original word occurs Matth. iii, 6. Luke, xxii. 6. and Rom. xv. 9.

+ Luke, x. 21.

a son

of

1. That where the faithful labours and endeavours of ministers, and others, to promote the knowledge of grace and the practice of holiness, fail of success, yet they shall be accepted. The servants of Christ

may

in their humble measure adopt the words of their Lord and Master, in the prophet, “ Though Israel be not

gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the " Lord, and my God shall be my strength *.” When he sent forth his first disciples, he directed them wherever they entered to say, “ Peace be to this house! and if

peace be there,” if there be any who thankfully accept your salutation and message, your peace “ shall rest upon it; if not, it shall return to you againt:' that is, your good wishes and endeavours shall not be lost for want of proper objects; but when they seem without effect on others, shall be productive of the happiest consequenees to yourselves. You shall receive all you were desirous to communicate. Thus his ministers are to declare his whole will, whether men will hear, or whether they shall forbear. And if they do thus with a single eye to his glory, and in humble dependence upon his blessing, they are not answerable for . the event, they shall in nowise lose their reward.

2. Faithful endeavours in the service of the Gospel shall not wholly fail. Though all will not hear, some certainly shall both hear and obey. Though all are by nature equally averse and incapable, yet there shall be " a willing people in the day of God's power ." If the wise and prudent turn away from the truth, there are babes to whom it shall be revealed. The Lord renews unto us a pledge of his faithfulness in this concern every time the rain descends. For thus he has promised,

* Isa. xlix. 5.

+ Luke, x. 6.

| Psal. cx. 3

“ As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven,

and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and “and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give “ seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my

word be that goeth forth out of my mouth : it shall

not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that “ which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing “ whereto I sent it*."

3. The divine sovereignty is the best thought we can retreat to for composing and strengthening our minds under the difficulties, discouragements, and disappointments, which attend the publication of the Gospel. The more we give way to reasonings and curious inquiries, the more we shall be perplexed and baffled. When Jeremiah † had been complaining of some things which were too hard for him, the Lord sent him to the potter's house, and taught him to infer, from the potter's power over the clay, the just right which the Lord of all hath to do what he will with his own. the pride of our own hearts that prevents this consideration from being perfectly conclusive and satisfactory. How many

schemes derogatory from the free grace of God, tending to darken the glory of the Gospel, and to depreciate the righteousness of the Redeemer, have taken their rise from vain unnecessary attempts to vindicate the ways of God; or rather to limit the actings of infinite wisdom to the bounds of our narrow understandings, to sound the depths of the divine counsels with our feeble plummets, and to say to Omnipotence, “ Hitherto shalt thou go, and no farther.” But upon the ground of the divine sovereignty we may rest satisfied and stable: for if God appoints and over-rules all,

It is only

[blocks in formation]

" God

according to the purpose of his own will, we have sufficient security, both for the present and the future,

First, For the present. We may firmly expect, what Scripture and reason concur to assure us, that “the

Judge of all the earth will do right.” Whatever to us appears otherwise in his proceedings, should be charged to the darkness and weakness of our minds. We know, that in every point of science difficulties and objections occur to young beginners, which at first view may seem almost unanswerable ; but as knowledge increases, the difficulties gradually subside, and at last we perceive they were chiefly owing to the defects of our apprehension. In divinity it is wholly so: “is light, and in him is no darkness at all :” his revealed will is, like himself, just, holy, pure in the whole, and perfectly consistent in every part. We may safely rest upon this general maxim, that “the Judge of all “ the earth shall do right.” Though he does not give us a particular account of his dealings, and we are not fully able to comprehend them; yet we ought, against all appearances and proud reasonings, to settle it firmly in our minds, that every thing is conducted worthy the views which God has given us of himself in his holy word, as a being of infinite justice, wisdom, goodness, and truth. And farther,

Secondly, For the future. He has appointed a day when he will make it appear that he has done right. Though clouds and darkness are now upon his proceedings, they shall ere long be removed. When all his designs in providence and grace are completed; when the present imperfect state of things shall be finished; when the dead, small and great, are summoned to stand before him; then the great Judge will condescend to unfold the whole train of his dispensations, and will justify his proceedings before angels and men; then every presumptuous cavil shall be silenced, every difficulty solved. His people shall admire his wisdom, his enemies shall confess his justice. The destruction of those who perish shall be acknowledged deserved, and of themselves; and the redeemed of the Lord shall ascribe all the glory of their salvation to him alone. What we shall then see, it is now our duty and our comfort assuredly to believe.

The great subject of our Saviour's joy, and which, so far as it is apprehended, will bear up his servants above all their difficulties and disappointments, I mean, the consideration of the sovereign hand of God directing the success of his word when and where he pleases, we must defer speaking of till the next opportunity. And we shall close at present with a few inferences from what has been said thus far by way of introduction.

1. Take heed how you hear. The Gospel of salvation, which is sent to you, will be either a

savour of “ life unto life, or of death unto death,” to every soul of you.

There is no medium. Though, in a common and familiar way of speaking, we sometimes complain, that the Gospel is preached without effect, there is in reality no possibility that it can be without effect. An effect it must and will have upon all who hear it. Happy they who receive and embrace it as a joyful sound, the unspeakable gift of God's love. To these it will be a

savour of life unto life.” It will communicate life to the soul at first, and maintain that life, in defiance of all opposition, till it terminates in glory. But wo, wo to those who receive it not. It will be to them “a “ savour of death unto death." It will leave them under the sentence of death, already denounced against them by the law which they have transgressed; and it will

66

« VorigeDoorgaan »