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put confidence in the promise of Jesus Christ to him in the following passage.
« Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vis. ion, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace : For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city." This divine promise supposes it to be a prerogative of God to cause the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder of the wrath to restrain ; to do with men, as men do with the instruments, by which they attain the end of their vocation,
Our next attempt will be to show, how God gets glory to himself in the disposal he makes of sinners, agreeably to his eternal plan of government, and in fulfilment of his most holy counsels. Upon this head I must study great brevity. Why, it will be asked, need an oinnipotent and infinitely wise God resort to such instruments of government as wicked men, rather than confine himself to various orders of pure and upright beings, for the means of displaying his Godhead ? Taking a hint from the apostle Paul, I might, with as much propriety, ask why there should be, in a great house, any vessels except of gold and silver ; and why those that are of wood and earth might not be dispensed with entirely. Will any one question, whether it is at all to the advantage of household concerns to have some, that may be termed vesa sels unto dishonour, that is, too course and homely for the same department with the
more sumptuous and beautiful ? You will not consider this similitude as my own.
I am indebted for it to inspiration. It is to Mlustrate an important truth, viz. the following, that God glorifies himself in the wicked, as really as he does in the righteous. “ For we are unto God,” says the apostle, “a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.” Though God is said to have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth ; yet in such, the apostle says, there is a sweet savour unto God, which implies, that he is glorified in them. And in the ninth of Rom. he tells us in what point of view God gets glory to himself from the vessels which are unto dishonour, even impenitent sinners among men. " What if God, willing to shew his wrath and make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ; And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles ?” The apostle is here professedly showing,why there should be not only vessels unto honour,but also unto dishonour; and he says, that God endures with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, that he may have occasion to shew his wrath, and make his power known, and also to make known the riches
of his glory on the vessels of mercy,
This is the good end, for which wicked characters exist. This is the end, for which the scripture saith that Pharaoh was raised up. “For this same cause have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” Had there been no monument of divine power and justice, as Pharaoh was, to be exhibited in contrast with Israel, going forth triumphantly out of Egypt, the glory of God, as an avenging sovereign, would not have been seen ; nor his glory, as a merciful Saviour, discovered in its proper lustre. By pouring his vengeance upon the wicked, God gives an illustrious example of his justice in their doom ; and also brings into affecting view the exceeding greatness of his mercy in them that are saved. The Chaldean em. pire was raised up, not only to be a besom of destruction to other nations, who had become ripe for ruin ; but also to become it. self an example of the same overthrow, and thereby to exhibit an instance of God's righteous judgments. “ And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come ; and. then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him." This same course of events takes place in innumerable instances. While one, in the career of his wickedness,
is helping on the plan of providence, as an • instrument of divine indignation upon other
sinners, he is preparing bitter ingredients for
his own cup. Thus God glorifies himself in the wicked by making them, sometimes the instruments, and sometimes the subjects, of his wrath. In this way he brings to light his power and justice on the vessels of wrath, and the greatness of his mercy on the subjects of redeeming grace.
Man's will the only ground of praise or blame.
2 CORINTHIANS, viii. 12.
For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted as cording to that a man hath, and not according to that he
As the following discourse is design
ed to be in connection with such preceding ones as have invited your particular attention to the subject of the divine character and
government, a short review of what has been exhibited, upon this point, may be
proper and useful to prepare the way for what is now before us. From the scripture princi. ple, that the Judge of all the earth will do right, we have been led to inquire what it is for God to do right, concluding that this, whatever it be, furnishes the only ground for the confidence of creatures in their su. preme moral governor : that rectitude, and that only, inspires confidence, which makes