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ed otherwise. We shall appeal to your practice for proof of this. Do you conscientiously attend to those means by which this scheme is executed? Do your hearts approve of that grace which levels your pride, hides your
glory, and claims, as its own,
all the honour? Or do
Do you wish to be ho
you not rather grudge at this? ly, to have your lusts mortified, and the love of sin destroyed? Do you desire the Spirit of Christ to dwell in you, and would you wish to follow his motions? Do the motions of corruption distress your minds, so that you carry on a constant conflict with them? you watch over them, search your hearts for them, and bring them to the cross of Christ to have them crucified? are you anxious for pardon; and for that end do you search out your sins, confess and forsake them? Is it your great study to be assimilated to Christ, to love him supremely, and to enjoy communion with him? Do you anxiously improve the present season of grace, for your salvation; or do you not rather put it off to some future time, which you think may be more convenient? Your consciences are now telling you how extensively guilty you are in respect of these things; and that, in place of due attention to them, you live in a criminal neglect of them. Now this proves irrefragably that you pour contempt upon the sufferings of Christ, and treat the wisdom of God displayed in them, as arrant folly, and undeserving of your serious attention. This scheme professes to embrace and promote your eternal interest; it assures you there is no other method, and that by neglecting it you must inevitably perish. Is it possible that you believe this while you act such'a part, in disregarding it? foolish gospel hearers, ye gospel despisers, what hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, be* F
fore whom Jesus hath been evidently set forth crucified? Behold! ye despisers, wonder and perish.
6. We may also infer that believers may firmly rely on God that he will wisely manage all things that relate to their salvation. The scheme was wisely formed; especially in assigning the sufferings of Christ a place of such importance in it. To insinuate that the same wisdom will not direct the execution of the plan, would be an impeachment of that wisdom. In every age, and in every place, where the church has existed, has this wisdom been displayed, and, whether in prosperity or adversity, every thing has been wisely conducted. Deep designs have been formed by hell and earth, against the church; but on all of them abortion has been written. Egypt meditated the destruction of Israel, and Haman the ruin of the Jews in Babylon. On their return to Jerusalem, Tobias, Sanballat and others. thought to make them desist from the work. Saul and Absalom thought to ruin David. Designs were frequently laid to destroy Paul. Divine wisdom interposed, and discovered the folly of such designs. Believers cannot sound the depths of Satan, nor secure themselves against his assaults; but wisdom interposes and keeps them in safety. Even these things are made subservient to their interest.
You see then, Christians, your safety in the hand of He taketh the wise in their own craftiyour God. ness, and gives them to know that he is above them; that his counsel shall stand; and that they, contrary to their designs, shall contribute to the execution of it. But it is not enough that God wisely executes his part, you also have a part to act, peculiar to yourselves, which requires wisdom. While you confide in him, to act his part; ask counsel from him, to enable you
to act yours. He designed, by the sufferings of his Son, to make him unto you, "Wisdom," by giving you the Spirit "of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him." Attend to your work, your circumstances, and your enemies; to your own blindness and folly; and you will see that you must have wisdom superior to your own: and, as divine wisdom is yours to direct and counsel you, see that you apply for it. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Prov. iii. 5. 6. Dark clouds may encircle his throne, and his ways appear intricate and mysterious; and you may be at a loss to know what course to steer, or what measures to adopt; your first work must be to ask counsel at the Lord, and to rely on him for the Spirit of wisdom, to lead you in the way of righteousness. "Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he will bring it to pass." Psal. xxxvii. 5. As you have his promise for counsel, you have no cause of fear, in any case. "I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them." Isaiah xlii. 16. Believe with the Psalmist, "That God will guide you by his counsel, and afterwards receive you to glory."
Though you sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto you." Negligence here will greatly hurt your interest, and mar your peace. Walk in God's counsel: he will direct you in the path of duty, and in the field of battle; he will teach you how to improve your privileges, to hold fast your attainments, and obtain communion with himself; how to escape dangers, and resist temp
tations. "Set the Lord always before you: he will be on your right hand, and you shall not be moved: and you will bless him for giving you counsel."
7. We may again infer that love will influence the mutual intercourse of all the parties concerned in the sufferings of Christ. In appointing these sufferings God was actuated by love, to himself, to his Son, and to his people. The ordinances of the gospel, are given to manifest the love of God to his people, and to afford them the means of enjoying it. If he has given his Son to suffer, that his love might reach his people; they may certainly believe, that they shall enjoy it." He that spared not his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Rom. viii. 32. Love, you know, naturally desires the presence of its object, to dwell with it, and to maintain intercourse with it. It is so with God. "The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.". Psalm cxxxii. 13, 14. He comes to these ordinances to meet with his people, and to favour them with a sense of his love. "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love." Zeph. iii. 17. The promise of Jesus to his disciples contains the manifestation of his own love, as well as his Father's. "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him." John xiv. 23.
You see, believers, who are seeking God in his ordinances, what he offers you, and what you may expect, fellowship with himself in his love. The Son of God
suffered that you might enjoy this privilege; and you may enjoy it, unless you treat it with indifference. God is ready to admit you to the nearest intimacy with himself, and to display the banner of love over you: but are you ready to receive it? Are your hearts under the influence of supreme love to him? Is your love strong as death, are its coals as coals of fire? If so you may expect a sense of his love. "God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." If indifference prevail in your hearts, you are wholly unfit for enjoying such a privilege, and need not expect it." Because thou art lukewarm, I will spue thee out of my mouth." If your love languishes, you must have it revived; and as he only can do it, you must apply, to him. If you would enjoy the privilege of the spouse, in the house of wine, the king must introduce you. "Draw me: we will run after thee," was her prayer: let it also be yours, and you may expect to see the banner of love displayed. Are you sick of love to obtain Christ's presence? You may expect to be sick also in the enjoyment of it.
BUT he is sovereign in manifesting his love. You may have ardent desires, and lively hopes of enjoying the tokens of it, at his own love-feast; and your minds may be full of the anticipated favour. You may enjoy all you wish, all you expect, yea, much more; but it is possible it may be otherwise; and if so, there must be a cause. If it should be so, beware of questioning the truth of his love, or the propriety of his condu&t: bring a charge against yourselves, investigate the cause, and employ him to discover it. He wishes your company much; he wishes you to enjoy his love; but he will have you to value it highly, and to be prepared for it. Beware lest any idol occupy his place in your heart,