Sidor som bilder

in performing the duties of the christian life. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." The prophet gives God the praise of being all in all, and working for his own name's sake, by means of dependent creatures, where he says, "Thou hast wrought all our works in us.' If he do not work in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure, whence shall we be furnished to the business of working out our salvation with fear and trembling? If we do the will of God only by virtue of a divine work upon our souls, why should the effect produced be attributed to ourselves, rather than to God, whose we are and whose are all our ways? However we may be workers together with God, our works are only the fruit of his gracious influences; so that all is from him, as it returns to him again. The apostle, accordingly, frames a prayer of the following tenour. For this cause I

bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." And if

Christ, by dwelling in his people and enriching them with all knowledge and all might, causes them to be fruitful in all the christian graces and virtues; shall he not be reckoned the author and finisher of their faith, and be entitled to the honour of bringing to pass all the good consequences, which come in the way of their obedience? Paul speaks of himself, as being made a minister of the gospel, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto him, by the effectual working of his power. Accordingly, he addresses the Corinthians thus," If I come again I will not spare: Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you." This apostle, so eminent in his zeal and exertions for the spread of the gospel, and the propagation of christian doctrines, who spared no pains, and shrunk from no task, however arduous, that he might bring honour to Christ in the salvation of sinners; gloried in nothing save the things which concerned his infirmity.Though his labours were very abundant, pursued with great ardor, and often with much hazard, he did not place them to his own account, as furnishing matter of boasting. Though not behind the very chiefest apostles, he acknowledged himself to be nothing. It was in this point of view, viz. that none of his fervent affections, or successful endeavours, originated from himself; but were all ministered, or begotten, by the effectual workings of the divine Spirit.

"But by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all yet not I but the grace of God which was with me." In agreement with the sentiment, conveyed in this passage, is the idea, that all the graces of the true christian, his pious evangelical exercises, are the fruit of the Spirit. And if all which christians do, in obeying and honouring Christ, is caused by the Spirit of grace; if God is the great agent, by whom these works are produced, it is perfectly natural, as it is obviously consistent and just, to allow, that believers are only the instruments of that glory, with which he beautifies and adorns his own name. It is said concerning Joseph, when imprisoned in Egypt, that the keeper of the prison committed to his hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. In some proper sense, also, it may be said, that whatever the children of God do, to promote the honour of their heavenly Father, he is the doer of it. It so takes its rise from the influences of his Spirit, that the effect produced may be attributed to him, as done by his agency, or brought about by the interposition of his hand. It is upon this principle, that the prayers of the saints are acceptable to God. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us

I t

with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints, according to the will of God." The prayer, which is offered in faith, comes from the Spirit of God, as the dictator and mover of it; and, being the offspring of the Spirit, it must be acceptable and prevalent with God, and, upon any other supposition, it could not avail. Whatever is from him is also to him, and on this account will be regarded with approbation. If God will bring glory to himself, he, has the fittest instruments to be employed in this most interesting department. He raises up persons, in whom he puts his Spirit to fashion and guide them according to the gospel; and they are led by the Spirit, who sanctifies them, purges them from sin, and conducts them in the way of well-doing. If this work were not of God, would it prosper and go on to perfection? But since it is begua and finished under the conduct of his Spirit, it must be effectual to his, glory, to accom plish the whole purpose of his will. God will get glory to himself by means of the church.

1. By giving a noble and transcendent dis play of his mercy. only to give scope feelings of his heart. telligent being in the

The works of God are and expression to the There is no active inuniverse, but wishes.

to have an opportunity to bring out into ac tion the propensities of his nature. The be-.

nevolent being desires that his benevolence may not be impeded; but be allowed to operate, uncontrolably, to the utmost of its extent. The same is true of the malevolent or sinful being. He will not willingly submit to restraint, to be deprived of opportunity, or power, to carry his inclinations into prac tice. Moral character always supposes a bent of the mind towards some object, either good. or evil. Goodness aims at something beautiful, or amiable. A wicked spirit aspires to something exactly the reverse. As the greatest of moral excellencies are in God, and as. mercy is a prominent feature in that character, which is perfectly good, and infinitely deserving; so the Deity desires to make a glorious discovery of the attribute of his mercy; to act such a part, in the character of moral governor, as will best secure the end, which mercy chooses and delights in.. In the redemption of the church, there is an illustrious proof of the mercy of God; of the ⚫ love he has to sinners, even them who are dead in trespasses and sins; how greatly he is pleased to condescend to effect the salvation of such, though their sins are as scarlet, and their hearts the seat of the foulest abominations. "O-Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help !" The whole series of divine dispensations, from the be-. ginning of the world, has been so contrived and ordered, as to magnify and enhance the mercy of God; to make it appear most resplendent, in the restoration of sinners to the

« FöregåendeFortsätt »