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tation to the end in view. If the means adopted be the sole means to the end, then is the wisdom of that means perfect, in the fullest sense of that word.

We see in the excuses and subtleties by which so vast a majority of men evade the Gospel call, what would have been the excuses and subtleties of all. Every man is by nature a lover of darkness rather than light. Left his own choice no man would ever have been saved. But God has a purpose to save some for his own mercy's sake, and he has found in election the sole means of attaining that end. Election is an act of sovereign grace, showing mercy to some of the guilty. That the like escape was freely proffered to all, must and will close the lips of those who neglect so great salvation. And shall they complain that those who are saved were not left to perish as well as themselves? That will be the true nature of their complaint; unreasonable and unjust, for God, in the great day when he will judge the secrets of all hearts, will be found to have equally offered the same salvation to all who have so much as heard of it, and that they themselves have, by neglecting, put it from them.

III.

PURPOSE OF GOD IN THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST,

IN THEIR ESPECIAL VINDICATION OF THE GLORY OF GOD, AND IN THEIR

LEAVING ALL MEN WITHOUT EXCUSE BEFORE HIM.

No one who reads the Gospels with any degree of attention, can fail to be struck with the fact, that Christ is therein represented to have encountered continual obstruction, while in the course of his mission upon earth ; that is, while engaged in proclaiming that Gospel, which he was annointed to preach to the poor. One cannot fail to observe that it is stated as a fact, that Christ did meet with much personal opposition ; personal insult; many attempts to take his life ; in short, that he did encounter circumstances which, in the case of any other person, would be unhesitatingly called sufferings, in the course of an appointed or self-imposed work, (as the case might be.)

To one who knows any thing of the attributes of the Almighty God; who is able to understand that it is plainly impossible that anything can happen without him; and that if this be true of every man's sufferings, it must, in an especial manner, be true of those of one occupying so exceedingly exalted a relation to God as Christ held, the inference would be irresistible, that the sufferings of Christ, of what kind soever, must needs have been by the permission of God.

But when such an one read, in a part of the Word of God, written after those sufferings had been brought to a termination, but with distinct reference to them, that "it became God, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings,” he would no longer hesitate to ascribe, not merely the permission, but the appointment of those sufferings, to the express will of God, -such an one would argue that, since the Word of God declares that it “ became” him to do so, there was doubtless some purpose of his to be answered in the sufferings of Christ, which, in God's wisdom, could not be attained without them; that doubtless, those sufferings were deemed by God, necessary, in some way, to his glory ; that those sufferings would, in some way, more, redound to the glory of God, than, in his judgment, would have been attained by the absence of those sufferings.

When the enquirer whom I have supposed, saw it written, in a third place, of Christ, “ though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered," he would at once conceive that God designed that Christ should present an example of obedience to him, through sufferings : that God purposed to evince by Christ, that it was possible to continue in unshaken obedience, in despite of sufferings, and he would conclude that the obedience of Christ, through sufferings unto death, did in some way, in God's judgment, conduce to his glory.

It would not require any very high order of intellect, to come to such a conclusion as that ; and there would remain only that the enquirer should endeavour to learn in what way the sufferings of Christ, as man,

could conduce to the glory of God. Let us attempt to do this.

The glory of God, being infinite and essential, it is evident it cannot really be added to, or diminished by any possible circumstances. In itself infinite, what can add to it ? Essential, what can tarnish it? When, therefore, we speak of any thing as conducing to the glory of God, it is plain that we must ascribe to it, that it vindicates that glory ; that it makes that which is indeed essential to appear in all its essential beauty. And the very words of God that it became him to do so and so, imply that he has seen necessity to vindicate his glory. They imply that some circumstances do exist, which seem to call that glory into question ; which existing circumstances have appeared to God, in his infinite wisdom, to necessitate him to place his glory in its essential point of view. It follows, from this, that God is acting with reference to some, who either have already, or may at some future period, set up a question of his glory; and that the sufierings, the obedience of Christ through sufferings does now, or will at that future period, vindicate the glory of God in some way.

This idea supposes that there is some period or time, in which the glory of God is to be vindicated ; or rather, in which the manifestation of its vindication shall be made. For if God has been acting in the sufferings of Christ, with reference to his own glory, it follows that there is some period or time when this will be seen to have been the object aimed at by him ; when that is, the sufferings of Christ will be felt to have vindicated the glory of God.

What, then, is that period ? The Scriptures tell us of it. They declare that the years which now run so rapidly on, do but progress towards an appointed period, when time itself shall be no more. (Rev. x. 5, 6.) They declare that God has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by the man whom he hath ordained. (Acts xvii. 30, 31.)

What being can imagine the terrific interest --what heart can weigh the awful importance of that day? It is a day which will consign unnumbered millions of human beings, and riads of fallen angels, FOR EVER, to insupportable torments !

Men may avoid the consideration of it now, but it will not cease to be true,

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for that; nor will it cease to be of awful importance because their ears are now closed, or their eyes averted from its terrors. On the contrary, it does but add to the fearfulness of that day, that now, those who must meet it,who cannot, by possibility avoid its coming, will, notwithstanding, turn away from its consideration; preferring to go blindly on to utter and irremediable destruction, rather than endure the present pain of reflecting that God has said it shall come, and so laying hold of the escape he has set before them.

That day is an " appointedday, it is already fixed. How plain, then, that every hour brings it nearer ! That day is the end which God has always had in view, even from the creation of man; an end which progresses continually to its fulfilment, as the slow march of the hand does over the face of the dial. Unheeded, it may be, but striking with all the more startling precision, that its progress was unheeded.

The great day of judgment is that time in which the glory of God is to be fully and finally (the mystery of God will be finished, Rev. x. 7.) vindicated, in the face and in the persons of all the beings whom he has created. It is that day which will for ever solve and set at rest the problem which has exercised the ingenuity of men, perversely seeking their own, and rejecting God's explanation of it, -"the existence of evil." Why it has been permitted. In what way its existence consists with the goodness of God. How with his wisdom : how with his justice. That day will solve and set at rest for ever.

One who knows anything of the revealed character of God needs no assurance that that day will indeed present a vindication of his glory, in all his attributes, which will leave all who have questioned it, in speechless confusion. Opposers will be so utterly overwhelmed by their own perfect conviction of the righteousness of God, that it will not need a word from him. Their own souls will do for them, in that day, that which they would not fail to do for them now, if they would but consider what God is saying to them by his Scriptures. Now he is saying to every soul of man, Turn

my reproof; behold I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” But then he will say, “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have set at nought my counsel, and would none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.” (Prov. i. 23—26.) How terrible do these words make the present state of man seem !

Who is there, even among those to whom the goodness of God has assigned an even more than competent share of this world's bliss, who, at one time or other does not find occasion to agree, in his very heart, with the wise man of old, “All is vanity and vexation of spirit?”

Who can look abroad upon the general circunstances in which men are found, without coming to the conclusion, that evil --whether in the shape of poverty, disease, or of sorrow,--so far predominates over good, that it may

be truly said that, upon the whole, man is an object of infinite compassion.

But one who knows, by the light of revelation, that such as man is, he has, nevertheless, in him the principle of never-ending life; a principle which will, by-and-bye, fix him FOR EVER in circumstances of inconceivable bliss or of unutterable woe; yet that he has also co-existing in him a principle of evil, a fretting leprosy, which ever breaks out in works of sin, even as a troubled

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sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt, (Isaiah lvii, 20) can scarcely fail to own that man's present state is, indeed, most deplorable! the more so, that both experience and the word of God conspire to shew, that the very circumstances of that present state-even the opposite ones of worldly ease and of worldly suffering, are used by men so as to bar their own pursuit of eternal things! (Jer. v. 4, 5.)

But the ever blessed and most merciful God—whose name is Love-does he not know, has he not compassionated the state in which his creatures are found? Let the words of his own Son answer that. “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

But while men have come to a perception of their own deplorable state, while we find it deeply rooted in the secret heart of every one, when he turns towards God and gets, as it were, but a glimpse of him, that man is indeed, before God, an object of exceeding compassion,—while this is so, how do we find it work? Does it induce man to seek God in his way?-_Or does it not rather serve to gender and foster in him the hope that God will after all deal leniently with him because of that state? It is even so ! There is in the secret heart of every man who will not seek God in his way, a hope that God will not deal so hardly with him as the Scriptures seem to threaten,—and it is this thought which renders so acceptable the doctrine of the non-eternity of future punishment.

But men do not stop there—that is indeed a stay—a comfort—that after all, at the worst, a merciful God will not punish eternally. But in very many minds there is found to exist a hope far higher than that. It cannot have escaped the observation of those much acquainted with men, that they do indulge in a sort of reasoning ; that they cling to it as an encouraging hope, that God has permitted the various distinctions of the present life to exist, only because he does intend, in another, to ameliorate the condition of those whose lot, here below, has been indeed but one of misery and privation. This position has been distinctly taken by writers of ability. They have said that the permitting of such inequalities as are seen among men in the present life, can be scarce reconciled with the idea of the goodness of God, but by the supposition that he does intend to deal differently with them in the future state. This thought has, for its basis, an inference that man has some sort of claim upon God, as his Creator, which if not satisfied now, will certainly be so in the next world. If this has been thought and written, by men of education and reflection, is not cherished by the uneducated and ignorant ? By those whose actual state of misery almost naturally inclines them to hope for better things in the world to come? It is even so. It is scarcely possible to converse with the unconverted in the lower walks of life, without perceiving that there does (where the subject has been thought upon at all) exist a hope that God will then make amends to the man for his sufferings in this life; that privations and poverty here below, are relied upon as giving a sort of rightful expectation, or claim, upon the consideration of God. This thought lies at the root of the doctrine of universalism ; that is, that all men will be finally

• Note.—The hopes of Universalism are thus expressed by Mr. Tennyson :

“Oh yet we trust that somehow good,
Will be the final goal of ill,

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saved, whether they believe in Christ or not. But while the man does this, he leaves God out of question. He is looked to, indeed as one upon whom man has a claim ;-but what of the question whether God may have a claim upon the man ! This will be found always left out of the account. And it cannot be otherwise ; for who, that considers present suffering in the light of “claim upon God,” can be expected to consider for a moment, whether there can be such a question as the doing of the will of God, in despite of sufferings ? Whether God, that is, may or may not have an entire claim to the full and perfect obedience of those whom he has created ; a claim which no state of suffering can set aside ? It will be invariably found, that, where a supposed claim to the consideration of God, exists, the state of suffering which constitutes that claim, will also be found to exonerate the sufferer (in his own mind) from all thoughts of owing anything to God.

But in the case of mankind, those very circumstances of privation and suffering, of what kind soever, under which men labour, were by the appointment of God himself! It was he who laid upon Adam the sentence of sorrow, labour and death ; and all the varied miseries under which men labour, are but modified forms of that sentence; they all spring out of it. Can there be any doubt then, that hopes which are cherished here, that these extenuate disobedience ; that even some claim to mercy may be hoped for, from the sufferings under which the disobedient do notoriously labour now, would not then be urged, when the great day comes which will agonize all hearts of the disobedient? Would it not be said in that day, even to God himself,

- Thou didst lay upon us those things. We had not offended, but through the fault of another, in which we had no part; to which we gave no consent, all those evils came upon us, and they were more than it was possible for us to contend against! We had enough to do to care for ourselves; to walk under the pressure of those distresses which thou didst lay upon us; it was not possible for us to give our thoughts to thee."

If we could but picture to ourselves a little of the horror of that great and dreadful day, we should feel that what is written above, so far from being overcharged, falls infinitely short of what the hearts of the desperate can devise, and would have devised against God. But, has not an all-wise God foreseen that? Will that which he has declared to be true now, cease to be true then ? Has he not said of the world now, that every mouth is stopped, and all the world guilty before God? (Rom. iii. 19.) And will that cease to be a fact then ? Those words convey the idea of a state of entire self-condemnation ; that none will have one word to offer. But how could that be, if no man had ever evinced that obedience was possible, and had been effected, even through suffering?

It is thus we may see, that but for the obedience through sufferings, of Christ, the glory of God would have been in question, on that day; and this

To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood ;
That nothing walks with aimless feet,
That not one life shall be destroyed,
Or cast as rubish to the void,

When God has made the pile complete." That is “a trust” without one shadow of foundation in Scripture—it supposes that all the declarations of God, respecting sin and sinners, shall prove void and of none effect whatever!

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