« FöregåendeFortsätt »
doctrine teaches ụs, if we see a sparrow fall on the ground, to consider it as a part of an infinite system of providence. We are filled with sol. emn awe, while we contemplate an invisible and infinitely glorious God bringing to pass this event according to his eternal purpose, making use of it in connexion with innumerable other events, to unfold his ineffable. glory to the view of his rational creatures. With these, views we cannot see a leaf move in the forest, without being led up to God who moves it; and moves it for some wise and holy purpose. The doctrine of de. crees, when cordially embraced, leads to the exercise of submission under all the calamities of this life. But it does not lead to a dead and in active submission, as some have supposed. It leads us in every thing to go to God for direction: for we believe it is his prerogative to direct all things. It leads us in every thing to give thanks ; for it teaches us, that every blessing, even the smallest, comes from above, and is de. signedly given us by him, who brings every thing to pass according to his purpose. It is dif. ficult to see how pious affections can be excited, and supported in the minds of men or angels, without some belief of this doctrine. But on the other hand, we do not pretend, that the mere be. lief of this doctrine will produce piety ; nor that every believer in it is truly pious. Many hold the truth in unrighteousness. And this doctrine, as well as all other christian doctrines, has been greatly abused by those who pretend to embrace it. But let us not renounce the truth, because it is perverted. Let truth have its perfect work on
our hearts and lives, and it will make us live god. ly in Christ Jesus, in this world, and will pre. pare us to see the glory of God in the world to come.
IV. If the decrees of God respect all events, and are eternal and immutable, then all his enemies may despair of accomplishing their purpo. ses. How gratifying would it be to Satan and his followers, whether in hell or on earth, to be able to disappoint the Most High, if but in a single instance. Could they once effect that, which He, on the whole, wished had never taken place, how would their hearts of enmity exult in it. They would view themselves, as having done so much towards accomplishing their grand object, in waging war against the throne of heaven. But what a different view of the matter cloes the subject before us exhibit. It exhibits Satan and wicked man, for thousands of years, devising evil devices, to oppose the benevolent reign of Jehovah ; yet doing nothing, all this while, but what his hand and his counsel deter. mined before to be done. His purposes are none of them broken off, by all their most dreadful op. position to the kingdom of holiness.
Some have insinuated, that the doctrine advo. cated in this discourse must be pleasing to devils and wicked men ; but it will, no doubt, fill them with confusion forever, Wicked men, while they are stupid, often pretend they would be glad to believe the doctrine of absolute decrees, because they should then feel themselves free from blame. They seem to think it would be an easy pillow on which to sleep. But let the unconvert, ed be feelingly convinced of the truth of the doctrine, and they find it to be no easy pillow on which to sleep. On the contrary, it proves to be a barbed arrow, which wounds them sorely, and there is no rest. That truth which comforts the friends of God gives pain to his enemies. "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice!”. “ The Lord reigneth, let the people tremble !"
Romans vii. 18. For I know, that in me (that is, in my flesh) atwelleth no good thing.
THAT men are, in some degree, sinful is. acknowledged by all; but there are quite different opinions entertained concerning the extent and dominion of sin in the human hcart, Sin has a blinding effect on the heart. It makes it deceitful above all things, as well as desperately wicked; Who can know it ? Sin is unwilling to aliscover its own deformity. It would fäin be. sjeve itself to be holiness. Those, with whom God has taken no uncommon pains, to show them their hearts, have generally very mistaken notions concerning their own character. If these are ever made thorough converts, they entirely change their sentiments concerning themselves. This was the case with the apostle Paul. He was once a very good man in his own view, having good works enough to over-balance all the imperfections which he discovered in himself. He was alive, while he was yet 6 dead in trespasses and sins.” He had a great stock of good works, which he counted gain. Thus he was, according to his own view of things, most assuredly in the road to heaven. Had any one then told him, that he might after this entirely change his senti.
ments about himself, and that instead of think. ing himself one of the best of men, he might be. come convinced, that he was one of the vilest wretches in the universe, he would probably have answered, “ It is impossible.--I know my own heart better than any other man can know it; besides, I have had great opportunity to become acquainted with divine truth, having been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, a doctor of the law.” But this same self-righteous Paul was, after all this, taught at the feet of Jesus, not only that he was a sinner, but that he was the chief of sinners. It was the 2nd question in the Debate, Whether men, in their natural state, previous to regeneration, are totally sinful, or depraved ?
The apostle in the text appears unequivocally to answer the question in the affirmative.-- For I know, that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing. Observe, 1. The confidence with which he speaks..." For I know." He does not speak like a man at a loss on the subject of which he speaks. He had an experimental knowledge of what he uttered, and no more doubted of it than he did of his existence. Let it also be remembered, that he did not, in this place, speak merely as a common christian, but also as an inspired apostle. The sentiment which he advances on this subject is, therefore, as assuredly true, as the word of God is true.
Observe 2. What it is he declares that he linows---- In me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing." It is important here to understand what the apostle means by his " flesh,?? and what he means by “ good thing.” He apparently be.