« السابقةمتابعة »
would neither have called creatures into being, nor have had occasion to set his love upon them, if in existence. What is done for the sake of creatures, is not for their sake merely, or primarily; but for a still higher end; for the sake of him, "who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." The will of God is first, and has the pre-eminence.
But, possibly, it will be further objected to the positions taken in this discourse, that God has promised not to be inattentive to the desires of his people, when they come to him for a blessing. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. They that seek me early shall find me. Draw near unto me, and I will draw near unto you. If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me; and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily." Add to these the instances recorded of God's interposing in answer to prayer. "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth. her fruit." From these scripture hints it
will, perhaps, be inferred, that God may be influenced by men, especially by such eminently devout and holy men, as Noah, Daniel, and Job; and as Jacob, who prevailed with the angel, and the prophet Elijah, whose prayer shut up heaven and then opened it again, and many others like them.
In answer to this, it may be said of the prayers of all good men, agreeably to what St. Paul says of his apostlic labours. "But by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." It is not the man, who prays and finds an answer of peace, that influences in the case. "But the Spirit itself," as the apostle says, "maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." No prayer ever yet availed with God, which was not the immediate offspring of his Spirit. "For we know not," says the apostle, " what we should pray for as we ought." For this reason the Spirit is given to help our infirmities. All acceptable prayer is from God, and made according to his will. The influence of it is, therefore, not from man, but from God; which goes to confirm the doctrine of the text, that he worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
This view of our subject yields absolute supremacy and dominion to God, and leaves us in the humble condition of servants : "And the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth." The servant, who knows his place, and is truly reconciled to it, does not aspire to such equality with his master, as to be called in to advise with and assist him in regulating his concerns, and making such arrangements as his interest requires. He is content with being a humble instrument, under his master's control, in carrying forward to perfection what it has been the pleasure of his master to contrive and ordain. If we are truly the servants of Christ, it will be no matter of envy, jealousy, or regret, to us,, that he worketh all things after the counsel of his own will," that we have no concern in planning for the universe, and are unable, of ourselves, to do that thing which is least. It will be our choice, that God ⚫ should be all in all; that he should be above all influence, either from the best, or the poorest, part of his kingdom; that he should solely pervade and order the whole system of things, and that our place should be, with that of all other creatures, where our presence and activity will give the most beauty and ornament to the great whole. If we have gospel meekness and humility, it will be the least part of our uneasiness or grief, that we are not admitted to sit, either on the right hand or left, of the ft, of the supreme Ruler, that we might have some influence in direct
ing the general movements. It will rather be our happiness to bow and own that the Lord is God, and listen to him when he says, "Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand I will work, and who shall let it ?”
All God's creatures the instruments of his glory.
EPHESIANS, iii. 9, 10, 11.
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
To the intent that now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
HE scriptures abound in exhortations to men to put their trust in God. But what can be alledged in favour of such a divine recommendation to, or injunction upon, men, to give it force? To this it must be answered, that creatures should trust in God, because he is the Judge of all the earth, and will do right. We feel ourselves invited, and even constrained, to leave ourselves and our affairs in the power of one, concerning whom we have the utmost reason to believe,