to them his pardoning mercy, and thereby overcomes them with his free and royal mercy! Such an one shall have such clear and intuitive knowledge of the same, as shall tend to his own spiritual edification. The text seems to contain

The word shall

a promise that thus it shall be. is to me an evidence of this: Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? so as to make a spiritual improvement upon them; and thereby become better acquainted with the Lord in the dispensations of his will; in his providential dispensations, and gracious manifestations, and in the communications of his presence, and the good pleasure of his will towards his children, which is of great use and advantage in the church of Christ. He who is prudent, making still a progressive improvement in the same, shall know these important subjects, with more mature judgment. As we consider the words as containing a promise, and in connexion therewith, the Lord as the Promiser, then they hold forth the following truth unto us: that such as succeed us, and live to see and perceive the glorious accomplishment of what is spoken of in the Scripture before us, will be admitted into a most glorious and complete understanding of the same; so as to be witnesses of the Lord's mindfulness of his people; of his goodness to them; of his faithfulness, and punctual fulfilment of his promise unto them; so that they will say, The Lord hath been mindful

of us: he will bless us : he will bless the house of Israel: he will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great. Psalm cxv. 12, 13. To close this first particular of our present discourse: it is a part of the Lord's gracious will respecting his people, that such as are made wise in Christ, through the teachings of his word and spirit, shall have an understanding of the methods of the Lord's grace and providence respecting his church; and this shall have its practical influence on their minds. It is hereby these words will be accomplished, And they shall no more teach every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord. Jer. xxxi. 34. I now proceed to my next particular, which is to shew, that

II. The ways, the acts, and the exercise of the Lord's will, throughout all his dispensations in his people, towards them, and upon them, are all good, and worthy of his glorious Majesty. This is implied in these words: For the ways of the Lord are right. The whole of his will in nature, providence, grace, works, judgments, word, and doctrine, are most holy in themselves, and good for his church: Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right.

The nature of God is incomprehensible, essential, immutable: a fountain of immortality, bles

sedness, and glory. The will of God is the rule by which he goes forth in his acts, thoughts, counsel, covenant, decrees, and designs, towards all the works of his hands. He cannot will any thing contrary to his own nature; so that as all his perfections are equally one and the same, the display thereof, be it what it may, must be equally good and holy, it being but the exercise of his will towards the creature; and it must be also equally holy, let the effect thereof towards the creature be as it may. This is the doctrine of the Scriptures throughout the whole of them: He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. Deut. xxxii. 4. There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. 1 Sam. ii. 2. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. Psalm cxlv. 17. The acts of God must of necessity be holy: such must be the ways of God; so also must be the acts of his own immutable will. No mutation can occur in the will of God. He is always one and the same in his Godhead; in his personalities, as Father, Son, and Spirit: in his love, and everlasting good will, and delight in the persons of his people in Christ: and in his vast purposes of grace towards them. Every act of his, from eternity, in time, and throughout the ages of eternity, must be only a continuation of one

act of his vast mind, conceived within himself before the world was. He says, I am the Lord, I change not. Malachi, iii. 6. All the acts of God are good; yet they are beyond our full knowledge and investigation: we can only learn the same from the divine light and teaching of the Holy Ghost. The ways of the Lord, his acts, and the dispensations of the counsel of his will towards his church, are all good; yea, they are worthy of his glorious Majesty; yet it does not follow, that we see and apprehend them fully to be so: no, we do not, at least not at all times and in all the cases and circumstances in which we are placed. Hence arises our discontent; so that in many of us the words of Solomon are realized. The foolishness of man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord. Prov. xix. 3. The words in our text, For the ways of the Lord are right, most immediately concern the subject which went before it, so that the dealings of the Lord with his backsliding Israel, with the open display of his everlasting mercy, free favour, delight, and gracious acceptance of them, is that which is most distinctly hinted at, and spoken of here: Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right. There is the utmost equity in all the acts of Jehovah's grace; in election, predesti


nation, covenant purposes, and promises; and in the outgoings of the divine mind to the objects of his delight. As they never cease to be before him, what they are in Christ, and as saved in him, with an everlasting salvation, let their cases and circumstances be what they may; so he, in the immensity of his love to their persons, whom he accepted in the person of his beloved, before all time, will never cease the continuance of the same, during their existence in a time state; and this shall be just exactly in proportion as they are found to need it. We have an amazing evidence of this in viewing the outgoings of God's heart, in what is recorded of his bearing down all the backslidings of Israel. Whilst it is surprising mercy; yet, it is the Lord's, and it is worthy of him. His word in which it is revealed, his ordinances in which he shines forth, are all right; he hath established them. We may well say, Thy word is true from the beginning, and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. Psalm cxix. 160. The methods of God's grace, the displays of the same, the overpowering influence of divine grace; the overcoming sin and sinners, in the bringing home the same to a guilty mind, is right in the sight of the Lord. These ways of grace and pardoning mercy are right in the view of a believer. As the Lord will most gloriously shine forth in the display and manifestation of

« VorigeDoorgaan »