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SERMON I.

EPHESIANS i. 11.

---Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,

THERE are two ideas contained in this pas. sage. The first is, That God brings to pass, every thing which is brought to pass. The other is, That he brings all this to pass according to a plan, or scheme, devised by his own mird. This plan, after which every thing is made árid done, is called “the counsel of his own will.” This imports that it is not a plan without wisdom, Infuite perfections were called into council, when the plan was adopted. Had there been any being in the universe, who could by his counsel have improved the plan, the Most High would willingly have consulted him ; but because there was no such being ---because the divine mind was it. self infinitely competent to fix upon the best plan, therefore the counsel of his own will was adopted, and all things are brought to pass agree. ably to it,

The text is an answer to the question, Has God from eternity foreordained every event which comes to pass? The text answers, He has; for he worketh all things after the counsel of his own zuill. It is granted by those who oppose this doctrine, that God has a plan, but they do not

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believe that all the events which take place, are parts of that plan. They believe that events take place, which the Divine Being never intended should take place. This scheme you have heard publicly advocated. The contrary scheme, which is, That all events were included in the divine plan, I shall now attempt, depending on di. vine aid, to establish. The method in which it is proposed to do this, is the same which was pursued in the public Debate ; viz.

1. From the perfection of God;

II. From the manifest design and harmony which are seen in all his works ;

III. From the positive declarations of his word.

I. I shall attempt to prove from the perfection of God, that all the events which take place were included in his eternal plan.

It is a point which will be conceded, that God is a Being of absolute and unlimited perfection : that he is not only the most perfect Being which exists, but the most perfect Being which possibly could exist : that he possesses every desirable attribute to an infinite degree. The Scriptures speak of him as existing without beginning or end, or any change ; as eternally possessed of all possible knowledge and power. They also speak of him as a Being whose goodness is equal to his greatness----as possessed of a nature altogethor benevolent, disposing him invariably to do good. “The goodness of God endureth conuinually.”

It is so entirely clear, that God is absolutely and ur.changeably perfect, that it is safe reasoning from his perfection, provided our inferences

from it be correctly drawn. The perfection of his nature makes it necessary that his work should be perfect. There may be in his system, darkness as well as light; barrenness as well as fruitfulness; and sin as well as holiness; but his work is perfect, if all things conspire together to promote the best good of the universe. It would be totally inconsistent with the perfection of Jehovah, to suppose him to set about the work of creation and providence, without any object in view. This, instead of being wiscon, would be the most consummate folly. To have no object in view, is the same as to have no plan. To have no plan about any thing, is perfect folly ;---and just as many things as are done without a plan, are foolishly done. There is no way to save the divine character from being chargeable with fola ly, short of acknowledging the truth, that God worketh all things after the purpose or counsel of his own will. It certainly must have appeared desirable to his benevolcnt mind, that every thing made, and every event brought to pass, shouli answer some good end. It is also clear, that his wisdom being unlimited, was capable of discova cring what things and events would answer the best end; and such things and events he, by his great power, was fully able to bring into exist. ence. He must therefore have a perfect plan, concerning all things, or we must acknowledge, that we have no evidence that he is himself perfect. To make these ideas more familiar, let us descend to particular things in the works of God. The earth is a globe of a particular magnitude. The Creator made it just so large, and of sucha

particular shape ; having just such a proportion of water and dry land ; having just so many kinds of vegetables and animals upon it. Did he make it so, rather than otherwise, of design? If not, what evidence have we that he is infinitely wise and good ? Would it have been better on the whole, to have had the earth one mile, or one inch larger in circumference than it is,---then why did not a Being of infinite power and goodness make it so ? This question appears to be utterly incapable of an answer. It is utterly inconsistent with the infinite perfection of the Creator, to suppose that he has created a single insect, or blade of grass, without having some good design to answer by it; or that he has left uncreated, a single ihing, which it would have been more for the gool of the universe should have been produced into existence. I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever : nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it.” When the six days work of creation were ended, there was just such a world brought into actual existence, as Existed in the mind of God from eternity. He nade all things after the counsel of his own will. He made no more, and he made no less, than he intended. He did not find it necessary, or at all desirable, to depart, in a single instance, from the eternal counsel of his will.

It is the same with the work of providence, as with the work of creation. The perfection of the supreme Governor, makes it certain, that every event which occurs, is a part of his perfect plan. There is no event takes place but that, in its immcdiate effects, it may do some good, or

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