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6 Now I say's
communion and favour of that God, from whom they had apostatized. that Jesus Christ was a minister of the cir: cumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers; And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.” The character of Jehovah, as a God of mercy, appeared to singular advantage, when he redeemed his people of old, after their many chidings and provoca rions ; after they had seen and acknowledged his goodness, and still dared to rebel against him. His mércy triumphs and appears great to astonishment, when he delivers souls from ruin, over whom sin and Satan had established a baleful empire. To cause this bright gem
in his own most adorable character to shine with its own proper luster, he is pleas. ed to appoint unto himself vessels of mercy, and to prepare them for glory, by purifying them, until they are fit for his palace in the heavens.
2. God glorifies himself, in the redemption of the church, by exhibiting an example of his infinite patience:
It is spoken of as a pattern of patience worthy to be imitated, that “ Christ once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God ; being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit : By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which some time were disobedient, when
once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water." It is after much waiting, and enduring a great deal of ingratitude and evil requital from men, that God is pleased to crown them with his grace. as The Lord is not slack concerning his promises, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to
; us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation, We esteem that man a most examplary character, who is patient, even to long-suffering: If so, how great an honour
, must it be to God, to endure the contradiction of sinners against himself, to be designing good for creatures, at the same time that they are meditating and practising evil against him? But such is God's wonderful forbear. ance towards the heirs of salvation ; by which he designs a glorious exhibition of himself, such as is suited to draw many hearts to him, and fill them with confidence in his goodness. “ Howbeit,” says Paul, “ for this cause I I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting."
3. In the salvation of the church, God will glorify himself by manifesting his wisdom. It is by the church that the manifold wisdom of God is made known to principalities and powers in heavenly places. By surveying the mercies of God to his church, the apostle is struck with astonishment and wonder at the mysteries of providence, and exclaims, as in a transport of mingled joy and surprise, “O the depth of the riches, both of the wis
. dom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Salvation by the cross, the apostle denominates “the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” To them, who believe, Christ is preached the wisdom of God. By admitting evil into the universe, and a heavy curse to fall upon the souls of men, and then apply. ing such a remedy to this disease, as will place the universe in a much happier state, than it otherwise would have known, God presents to the view of intelligences such a display of his own wisdom, as must be infinitely and eternally to the honour of his own
4. God will glorify himself, in the salvation of the church, by producing an illustri. ous proof of his own faithfulness. Notwith. standing all the errors and crimes that men greedily run into, the thoughts of his heart, which are thoughts of mercy, endure to all generations.
How much profligacy, rebellion, and backsliding are there in the church of God, from one age to another, tending to the ruin of that glorious spiritual building, which has its basis, its corner-stone, in the blood of Christ ? And yet against all these
provocations Jehovah maintains his character for integrity, truth, and faithfulness, unimpeachable. The mercies he has promised he does not withhold. His loving-kindness does not depart from his chosen people, however numerous, great, and aggravated, their offen
The impieties of men are great indeed but this does not hinder his execut. ing all the gracious purposes he has formed respecting them, and fulfilling every word of comfort he has spoken concerning their state. “ The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” The salvation of the church is an affecting illustration of this, and as such is greatly to the praise and glory of God. Hence we see how true it is, that believers are instruments in the hand of God, by which he undermines and undoes the kingdom of Satan, and rears up an eternal monument to. his own praise.
But, possibly, some may object to this doctrine, as exhibiting the best part of God's intelligent creatures in the light of mere machines, as cutting them off from any just tittle to a reward of their works, and placing all agency, that is truly commendable and praise worthy, in the hand of God, or making him the only virtuous agent in the uni.
To this it may be answered, that if none can be subjects of moral rectitude or wrong, and, consequently, of praise or blame, except those, whose actions are from themselves, and not immediately dependent on a superi
or and divine agency, then, indeed, men are such machines as to imply, that there can be no moral fitness, or unfitness in their actions. But if creatures may perform right actions, such as may properly be required and rewarded with divine favour, at the same time that all their sufficiency is of God, and every motion is excited and directed by the supreme ruler ; then, however much they may resemble a machine in the hand of God, actuated and used by his power, this is no hindrance to the moral excellency of their affections, nor any reason why they should not be considered and treated, as common sense teaches us moral beings should be. A machine is valuable to its owner, as an instrument for his occasions, a means, by which he accomplishes some end, which he desires. If by a man's being a mere machine, nothing more is meant, than that by him, as an instrument, God fulfils his own pleasure, and advances his own glory ; in this sense, it is acknowledged, that saints and angels are but mere machines : but this no more supposes, that they are not moral beings, in the fullest sense, than a man's using his bible for the purpose of furnishing himself with knowledge, supposes, that it is not a bible, but a profane history, or a treatise upon grammar. When our Saviour sent after a beast, that he might ride upon him into Jerusalem, he sent to the owner this reason for the demand, "The Lord hath need of him.” If the Lord needed a brute, a creature without moral a