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with the righteousness of Christ, which alone is all perfect, and all-sufficient. As we are daily conscious of numberless failures and of fences, for which conscience needs must reprove us, let it be our daily request at the throne of grace, that the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit may purify our hearts by faith in the Redeemer, and may enlighten our minds in the knowledge of God, and of Christ. Amen

103

SERMON XXIII.

EPHESIANS ii. 7.

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.

THE EXCEEDING RICHES OF GOD'S GRACE.

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THE angels which left their first estate are "reserved in chains under darkness to the judgment of the great day;" but the language of God concerning the guilty race of Adam, who fell from his happy state, and thereby involved himself and his posterity in guilt and misery, was " deli"ver from going down to the pit, I have found "out a ransom for thee." Astonishing! angels passed by without so much as the offer of mercy; men recovered by an act of grace the most undeserved, the most amazing-here it would seem that the order of things was quite inverted, that this dispensation of God was quite the contrary of what might have been expected, and that for the interests of his glory, the angels

should have been saved, and men condemned to hopeless misery-for man is a weak insignificant creature in comparison of the other, a creature of yesterday; "whose habitation is in the "dust, whose foundation is of clay, who is "crushed before the moth," at the best a worm, the child of corruption; and after he became the child of sin, a serpent full of deadly poison, grovelling in the dust, and deserving to be crushed under the foot of the divine indignation and displeasure. What then was this sinful, mortal crea ture that he should be preferred of his Maker? Angels, on the other hand, were pure spirits, immortal natures, heavenly substances; the lively, the bright, the glorious images of the great. God, Why then give up and destroy so excellent a piece of workmanship, which would have so gloriously magnified the praises of its deliverer? Does not reason pronounce, that angels should have been recovered, and men left to perish in their sins?-perhaps human reason may conclude in this manner, but God, "whose ways are not "as our ways, and whose thoughts are infinitely "above ours," judges in a manner widely different, and unquestionably he has by this means more highly magnified both his justice and his mercy-his justice in detroying the rebellious angels, his mercy in the salvation of guilty man

105 for the more noble and exalted the angelic nature, the more did the divine justice manifest itself, by punishing them with inflexible severity; and, on the contrary, the more abject and mean the human race, the more unworthy of the divine care, so much the more glorious is the mercy of God, in making such creatures the objects of his love. Besides, the divine attribute of mercy is farther displayed, if we consider that the salvation of fallen angels would have been only reinstating them in their primitive glory, replacing them in those heavenly regions of which they were originally the inhabitants; and their happiness would have remained the same in kind, though different in degree; but in saving men, God raises them to a state very different from that in which they were at first placed, from a terrestrial to a celestial paradise; from a state which was liable to change, to one which is immoveable, permanent, eternal; from being men to become as gods, by making them partakers of a divine nature, transforming them into the image of his own son, his great design in the stupendous work of man's redemption being, as the apostle expresses in the words of the text, to shew "the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us, through Christ "Jesus," Let us then, my friends, enter upon

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the contemplation of this glorious scheme with gratitude and delight, following our great apostle, the messenger and herald of divine grace; let us mark the holy rapture with which he expresses himself upon this exalted subject, as if just descending from the third heaven, where he had beheld the wondrous treasures of grace and mercy displayed in all their splendor, and that we may, in some degree, enter into his meaning, let us consider the two great objects here presented to us: first, "the exceeding riches of "God's grace," and second, the end of God in this manifestation, namely, that he may shew them" in his kindness towards us, through Christ "Jesus."

First, let us consider the import of the apostle's expression, "the exceeding riches of his grace." Here, my brethren, we have access to treasures which we are permitted not only to look at, but to take from, a sufficiency to supply all our wants-treasures, not such as those of earthly princes; rarities, not such as those which are to be found in the cabinets of the curious, which we are with difficulty suffered to look at, much less to put forth our hand to abstract from; but treasures which God opens on purpose for our use, which he requires us to contemplate, dispenses

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