« السابقةمتابعة »
vation of sinners. It was wholly itual blessings in heavenly places
from his infinite benevolence, that he formed the purpose of their salvation. But when did he form this purpose? This question has been variously answered by such persons, as have attempted to explain the gospel. Many have supposed, that the plan of salvation was not an original design of God, but was adopted upon the apostacy of mankind. They imagine, that God intended, when he formed our first parents, that they and their posterity should always be perfectly holy and happy. And they suppose, that after God saw sin had entered the world, he formed the scheme of salvation, that he might overrule the existence of evil to his own glory and the good of his intelligent creatures. But this supposition is highly derogatory to the infinite wisdom of the creator and governor of the uniFor it implies a great defect, either in his natural or moral attributes, to form a scheme, which needed such an important and essential alteration and amendment. It is, therefore, more rational to suppose that the scheme of redemption was his original and eternal purpose. And if we examine the scriptures we shall find the most explicit and positive declarations, that God formed the plan of the gospel before the existence of any other being. To the saints at Ephesus the apostle writes--Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spir
in Christ, according as he hath
2. The gospel is everlasting in its nature. The scheme of salvation through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ was not only formed
in eternity, but it was formed up on immutable principles and upon an eternal foundation. It resulted from the united perfections of the Deity. His whole mind was employed in forming this great design. He clearly perceived whatever was possible, and in view of what infinite wisdom, infinite goodness and almighty power could do, he saw the plan of the gospel to be the best scheme, that he could devise and effect. When God formed this plan he had a perfect knowledge of all things, that ever can be known by his rational creatures, or even by himself. It is not, therefore, possible that any imperfection should ever be discovered, or any amendment ever be devised, in respect to the purpose of redemption. For this reason the gospel must be immutable and everlasting in its nature. If the design of God in the gospel were defective or imperfect, it might be revised and amended and consequently might not be eternal. But since it was formed in the council of infinite knowledge, wisdom and goodness, it is the best of all schemes, that were possible and is established upon an immutable foundation. not be amended in a single iota by the united wisdom of all rational creatures, that ever can exist; nor by the manifold wisdom of the only wise God. This perfect and glorious scheme can never be, in the least degree, varied through the ages of eternity. God, therefore, will forever work all things
after the counsel of his own will according to the everlasting gospel of his grace. Hence the psalmist says, "The counsel of the Lord standeth forever;-the thoughts of his heart to all generations." And God says by Isaiah, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." As the gospel is founded upon the immutable perfections of God, it is, in its nature, as eternal as his existence, and as immutable as his perfections. It is, therefore, everlasting in its nature as well as in its origin.
3. The gospel is everlasting in its effects. It forever interested and gratified the affections of Jehovah. It was the great subject of his contemplation and felicity. He clearly perceived its great and happy effects, which, in prospect, afforded him perfect and infinite satisfaction. But it could not have any influence except upon his own mind, until he began to create other beings. The work of creation was the first effect of the purpose of redemption through Jesus Christ. As it is written, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things and by him all things consist." From these words it is evident, that all things were created in reference to the purpose of redemption, which the Lord
Jesus Christ engaged to perform. As this purpose began to operate in the creation of all things, so it has continued to operate in their preservation and government. It has operated upon the material system and also upon the lower species of living creatures. The whole creation groaneth under the evils and pains, which are connected with the purpose of God in the salvation of sinners. These effects are temporary.The world will be burnt and the brutes will cease to exist. The scheme of the gospel has also operated upon rational creatures, and its effects upon such creatures will be eternal.
It involved the rebellion of the apostate angels in heaven and established the elect angels in everlasting holiness and happiness.-The scheme of the gospel has occasioned the universal rebellion of mankind. For the purpose of God in the redemption of sinners could not have been effected, unless Adam had fallen from his original rectitude and his posterity had become sinners. The state of the world from the fall of Adam unto this day has been affected by the influence of the gospel upon the character and condition of human beings. The gospel brought the Lord Jesus Christ into the world, nailed him to the cross, raised him from the grave to heaven and placed him as head over all things unto the church. The gospel opened the way for the effusions of the Holy Spirit. And ac
cording to the gospel God forms vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath and fits every human being for his future and eternal condition. Nor will there ever be in the universe a rational creature, whose character will not be formed by the influence of the gospel. And the characters of rational creatures, as they will be formed through the influence of the gospel, will continue forever; and their condition will agree with their character and be equally permanent. They, who are in their moral character formed into the image of God, will enjoy his favor forever; but they who are not formed into his moral image, will fall under his everlasting displeasure. It is one of the plainest doctrines of the gospel, that the happiness of the righteous will continue forever and that the misery of the wicked will never end. In his description of the final judgment the supreme Judge has said, "Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal." According to the Savior's representation of the final judgment, the gospel operated from the foundation of the world and by its influence formed the
character of the righteous and the character of the wicked and produced the glorious and awful effects of everlasting life and everlasting death. But after the decisions of the final judgment the influence & effects of the gospel will continue through the endless ages of eternity. As long as God shall preserve and govern the moral world he will work all things according to his eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus. The scheme of the gospel always has been and always will be the measure of the divine conduct. Though this scheme will be brought to a consummation at the judgment of the great day; yet it will not then be so finished, that there will be no occasion for God to govern his intelligent creatures, wherever they may be placed; whether in a state of perfect blessedness or of endless perdition. And his government of his rational creatures in eternity will continue and extend the influence and effects of his great purpose of redemption. The gospel, therefore, will be literally and absolutely everlasting in its effects; which will be seen and felt, with increasing attention and sensibility, by every rational being forever and ever. The origin, the nature and the effects of the great purpose of redemption, through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, illustrate and establish the sentiment, that the gospel is, with the highest propriety, called the everlasting gospel. This sentiment, which has been illustrated
and established by the preceding observations, suggests a number of remarks, which deserve a candid and serious attention.
1. If the gospel be the eternal system of divine conduct, then, according to the gospel, God is, in all things, his own supreme object. God could not devise, establish and accomplish the purpose of redemption through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, without a supreme object, which should be worthy of himself. But could God, in the past ages of eternity, have found any object, that should be worthy of his supreme affection, except himself; when there was no other being in existence? Or, in the future ages of eternity, can God find any being, except himself, that shall be worthy of his supreme affection; when there can be no other being, to whom he shall not give existence? And when all other beings, that ever shall exist, are before the mind of God, can they, in his view, be more worthy of his supreme atfection than himself? Though God should create worlds upon worlds without cessation and without limitation forever; yet he could not cause such a system of created existence, as should possess more knowledge, wisdom, power, goodness and happiness than do forever exist in himself. Whatever might be the multitude and magnitude of the creatures, that God could create, yet these created beings cannot be more worthy of their own supreme affection, or of his su
preme affection than their crea- redemption, which he purposed
tor. The creator must, in the nature of things, possess knowledge and wisdom, power and goodness, beauty and happiness incomparably superior to what he can communicate to created beings, whatever might be their multitude or their magnitude. No created being can be eternal, or self-existent, or omnipotent. No created being can be holy as God is holy, or just as God is just, or good as God is good, or gracious as God is gracious, or true as God is true. Though created beings may be like God in the nature of his rational powers and in the nature of his moral perfections; yet they cannot be like him in the duration and extent of his natural and moral perfections. God must forever be the only supreme, eternal, independent and self-existent being; and the only being, who can ever possess infinite perfection. perfection. He must, therefore, be unto himself and to all other beings the only worthy object of supreme attention, affection and enjoyment.
in Christ Jesus, and which he performs through the blood of the everlasting covenant, by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.
2. If the gospel be the eternal system of divine conduct, then God has, according to the gospel, decreed all things. The scheme of the gospel includes the existence, the powers, the actions and state of the holy and unholy angels. It includes the existence, the properties, and operations of the material system. It includes the existence, the character, the conduct and state of the common parents of the human family, and of their innumerable descendants. The scheme of the gospel includes the mediation, the incarnation, the crucifixion and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ; his appearance at the final judgment, his resignation of his mediatorial authority, the approbation and complacency of his Father and his God and his everlasting communion and blessedness with his redeemed people in Heaven. It also includes the office and agency of the Holy Spirit in the instruction and sanctification of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. And it includes the great and happy effects, which the Holy Spirit produces, through his special influence, by all the means that have been used since the world began, or shall be used until the world shall end, in order to accomplish the purpose of re
And before God, created beings must forever be as nothing. According to the plainest and strongest dictates of reason, God must be, because he ought to be, the only worthy object of his supreme affection in all his designs, and in all his conduct. If the gospel be a rational system, it must agree with the perfections of Jehovah. And if it agrees with his perfections, he must be his own supreme object in the eternal purpose of demption. The everlasting gos