Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

od conceptions of that Being, whom the patriarchs worshipped ? By no means. But God made Joseph, in this situation, a distinguished instrument of extensive good to mankind. Thus God honored himself. He manifested his own wisdom, power and goodness. The Jews rejected and crucified the Savior, whom God sent into the world ; thus they dishonored God. Through them God's name was blasphemed among the Gentiles, and the way of truth was evil spoken of. But God made the cruci. fixion of Christ the means of displaying his mercy and bringing salvation to a guilty world. Thus hc brought glory to his own name. We are to distinguish between what God does, and what men do.He often overrules for good what they mean for evil. “ But what if the Jews had all believed in Christ, and had not crucified him ?-How would he have been made a sacrifice for sin ? And how would sin. ners have been redeemed ?" This is a needless question. God foresaw how the Jews would treat the Savior ; and their unbelief and enmity were suffered to be the means, by which he should become a sacrifice ; and there was no occasion for any other. But have we knowledge and wisdom enough to determine, that this was the only way, in which Christ would be made an offering for sin ? Can we say, that if the Jews had generally received him, divine wisdom could have found no way in which his blood might be shed for the redemption of men ? This would be taking too much upon us. · God is not dependent on men—he is not dependent on the sins of men for means to accomplish his purposes.

" These are not his doings. The Spirit of the Lord is not straitened.”

2. If it is the will of God, that we should glorify him in all things, and if he is glorified by the holiness, and dishonored by the wickedness of men,

then we may be assured, that wickedness proceeds from the wicked, and not from the energy and influ. ence of this holy Being ; for we cannot admit the supposition, that he should excite and dispose men to dishonor and reproach him.

" Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man ; but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed.”

3. It appears farther from our subject, that an aim to glorify God will not justify us in doing evil; for by doing evil we dishonor him, and contradict our pretended aim. Though God sometimes makes the sins of men ultimately subservient to the purposes of his wisdom, yet this effect is not their natural and direct tendency ; it does not make them cease to be sinners, nor render them less offensive and dishonorable to God. They are still, what they were in their nature. And it is not by them, but by the effects to which they are overruled, that God is glorified. “God hates robbery for a burnt offering.” In the Apostles' days there were some who argued“ If our unrighteousness commend the rightcousness of God, then God is unjust in taking vengeance; and if the truth of God hath more abound. ed through our lie to his glory, why should we be judged as sinners ? Rather let us do evil that good may come.” This, they slanderously affirmed, was the doctrine, or a consequence of the doctrine of the Apostles. But St. Paul discards the imputation ; and of those who thus plead, and thus practise, he says, “ their damnation is just.”'

We are never to imagine, that, because God can make our unrighteousness subservient to his own glory, we therefore glorify him by our unrighteous

We glorify him by doing his will. And to aim at his glory is to aim at doing his will.

ness.

4. We see the great mistake of those, who im. agine, that true repentance implies a willingness to suffer the misery of the future world, in case this would be most for God's glory. For such a state of mind, if it were possible, would be nothing less, than a willingness to retain an eternal enmity to God, for his greater glory; and the scripture instructs us, that God is glorified by our love and obedience, not by our enmity and rebellion. It cannot be for God's glory to consign a penitent soul to misery, for this would be a violation of his promise ; nor for his glory that the sinner should remain impenitent, for it is by repentance that he gives glory to God. The supposition therefore is an absurdity.-It is what the scripture never makes, and what man never ought to make. The justice of God in the punishment of sinners the penitent sees; but a willingness to suffer what justice might inflict is what he cannot feel. The language of the penitent is this ; Against thee, O Lord, have I sinned.—Thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest. Have mercy on me according to thy loving kindness; in the multitude of thy tender mer. cies blot out my transgressions. Deliver me from my guilt, thou God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness : Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with burnt offerings on thine altar.” The penitent resorts to the mercy, not to the justice of God, for pardon. An awakened sinner, if he imagines a particular sensation is essential to repentance, will give himself no rest, till he is, or till he thinks he is wrought into that sensation ; and then he will hope he has exercised repentance. But if any imagine, they feel a willingness to be made eternally miserable on any consideration, it is probable, they misjudge. If they really feel this willingness, it is cer,

tain they are in a wrong state of mind ; for this willingness to be at enmity with God, is inconsistcnt with repentance.

It is worthy to be observed, that the scripture never represents the future misery of sinners as being positively for God's glory ; but rather as a necessary mean of removing the dishonor, which they have done him by their wickedness and impenitence. In civil society, it is for the honor of government, that the people be virtuous, peaceable, and obedient to law, and that there be no occasion for punishment. But if crimes exist, the government is dishonored, and law must be executed. The general impunity of crimes would dishonor the government, by shewing that it was corrupt or impotent ; either not disposed, or not sufficient to secure the order and happiness of society. Punishment, however, is not absolutely for the honor of government : It is so only in a relative view, as a mean of removing the dishonor done, or preventing that which may be done by the lawless and unrighteous. Government may, in a comparative sense, be honored by the execution of criminals ; but it does not stand in a more honorable light, than if there were no criminals to be executed. So it is in the divine government. This is honored by our obedience : But if some will rebel against its authority, and trample on its clemency, its honor requires, that they be pun. ished. “It would be primarily for its honor, that all should obey it ; but if some will insult it, it is then honored by their punishment, rather than by an indiscriminate indulgence.

The correctness of the language of scripture on this subject is remarkable. When it speaks of the salvation of the saints, then it says, “ God is glorified.When it speaks of the punishment of the wicked, it adopts a different style. It says, He

is just; he is righteous. Impenitent sinners are said to “ treasure up to themselves wrath against the day of the revelation of God's righteous judgment."

“ In that day every mouth will be stopped, and all the sinful unbelieving world will be found guilty before God.” “ Their damnation will be just."

« God will shew his wrath, and make his power known on the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.” But he will make known the rich. es of his glory on the vessels of mercy, whom he hath prepared unto glory.“ It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them who trouble you—when Christ shall come to be glorified in the saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." “ The name of the Lord Jesus shall be glorified in them, and they in him according to the grace of God.” In contemplating the redemption of men by Jesus Christ, and the happiness of the redeemed, saints and angels in heaven ascribeblessing and glory to him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb.” In celebrating the success of the gospel, and the conversion of multitudes to the faith of Christ out of all nations, these happy spirits, sing, Blessing and honor and glory unto God forever and ever.” But when the judgments of God on the enemies of the church are their theme, they speak in a different strain. They, indeed, glorify God for the salvation vouchsafed, and for the protection granted to the saints, in cor.sequence of his judgments on the wicked ; but when they speak of these judgments, as inflicted on the wicked, they call them just.

“ Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are thy ways, thou king of saints.” God preserves his saints from their enemies in ways that are righteous. “ By terrible things in righteousness he answers the faithful as the God of their salvation.” In viewing the

« ForrigeFortsæt »