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adapted to this end, his own unbounded rectitude will point out to him. Another point demanding inquiry here is, whether the Dei. ty has all the attributes, needful to furnish him to the work of effectually establishing his own kingdom, and promoting his own glory to the greatest perfection. In order to this he must have infinite knowledge, infinite power, be unchangeable, and subject to no influence out of himself. That these are necessary attributes of the Deity, has, I think, appeared undeniably evident, in some former discourses. Finding the great Sovereign of the world able to do his will to the greatest possible extent, or to effect whatever can be to his own glory, we are next to attend to the practical part of his government,
and see how this great affair is conducted. Is God, and, has he been from eternity, regulating things in a happy subserviency to that good end, to which the government of an infinitely wise and beneficient being must be suited ? It is not for any creature, nor for the collective wisdom of all creatures, to pretend to strike out a path for God to pursue, so as to display the best character possible. If we had nothing, but what we ourselves can see, of wisdom in the whole chain of divine provi. dence, by which to determine whether the great governor of the world is, in all things, doing right, we should inevitably be at a loss for a conclusion. Is our wisdom competent to decide, whether, in a scheme of moral government, which is absolutely perfect, there
appears to be fact.
can be any evil mixed with the good, or any
, misery to stand over against the happiness, which is produced by the sovereign hand of him who reigns ? So partial are our feelings, and narrow our views, that if we were call. ed upon to say what plan of things is wisest and best, we should, most surely, declare in favour of that, which knows of neither sin, nor misery. We should be apt to say, God would display his wisdom and goodness to the best advantage, if he were so to govern, as effectually to exclude from the systein all possible kinds and degrees of evil. But such a decision would be directly against what
We know that evil ex. ists ; and yet that God governs, doing whatsoever pleaseth him ; and hence we infer, that the wisdom of God is unspeakably greater than ours; that he can devise a method for glorifying himself, which infinitely surpasses and baffles our acutest discernment. Whatever God does we are convinced must be for the best ; because he is the Judge of' all the earth, and will do right. We are not, therefore, to inquire, whether the course of divine providence is agreeable to infinite and eternal rectitude, as if Deity might possibly be found to have erred ; but we have only to attend to his ways and dealings, and in them to observe the refulgence of his Godhead. Our inability to run the whole length of God's counsels, and span the whole body of his works, is no argument against the symmetry and perfection of his government,
If we are perplexed, and even confounded, this does not imply, that Deity is in a mistake, or that he does not adjust his matters in the best manner possible. One thing we must admit, as a certain fact, viz. that he is over all God blessed for ever. And that he is over all, implies the complete subjection of all things to his will ; not, indeed, that one thing, and another, and another, and so on to the greatest proportion of the whole, is under his absolute control and direction ; but that every being and incident is his, to answer some valuable purpose in his kingdom. If the glory of God is the great ultimate end to be obtained, in order that ex. istence itself may be rendered valuable ; there is occasion for Deity to be, continually, exerting himself to bring about this good. He cannot hold the place of an idle and indifferent spectator ; or stand by, merely to give directions to subordinate agents, as if he were only to lay out the work, and they to execute it. Whenever any thing is done to purpose, in the advancement of God's kingdom, we have scripture warrant for saying, “ This is the Lord's doing ;” and, as such, “it is marvellous in our eyes.” There is no agency concerned in the great work of bringing glory to God, in any such sense, as to take from God the sole honour of effecting the end by his own wisdom and power. And as this very important business rests upon the most High, and the good fruits of it are to resalt solely from the labour of his owin
hand, it becomes a seasonable and pertinent inquiry with us; How is this interesting af fair conducted ? "Is it by the use of means and instruments, known to us ? Or is the work, in every respect, mysterious and unseen? We can have no doubt, that God is able to produce very wonderful effects, without having recourse to means, such as are observable to creatures. There is an instance of this in every miracle, that was ever wrought by the finger of God. But in many things, considered as the work of God, there is an evident use of what we term means, or instruments ; as when, in the days of the judges, God subdued and overcome the Midianites before Israel, he did it by means of Gideon's army, consisting of three hun. dred men, armed with trumpets and lamps. Does God, in working out his own glory, make use of any kind of means, that in them we may see his wisdom displayed, in making one creature subservient to another, and one event useful to usher in another, until the whole order of things issues in the fulfilment of his eternal counsels of goodness and grace ? Our text furnishes a doctrine, which will yield an answer to this inquiry.
It states, that God created all things by Jesus Christ : to the intent that now, unto the principalities, and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." This is laying down, in plain terms, that all things which have been created, were made to be instrumental in making known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God. . Several very important ideas are brought into view in the text, which are,
1. The manifold wisdom of God, appeara ing to the glorified inhabitants of heaven.
2. This discovery was eternally purposed in Jesus Christ.
3. It is to be communicated through the church, or that dispensation of mercy, by which are gathered together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.
4. The whole creation subsists in relation to this design, as the end of its existence.
5. This mystery was hid in God, until it was made known by the gospel.
6. To make it known and impress it, as a matter equally applicable to Jews and Gentiles, and as constituting a great bond of fellowship between them, the apostolic ministry was instituted.
The whole matter will appear by attending to what begins with the second, and ends with the twelfth verse, of the context. ye
have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is gir. en me to you.ward ; How that by revela. tion be made known unto me the mystery; as I wrote afore in few words ; Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit ; That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and