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glory to God. If God actually brings to pass the salvation of men, whether the number be greater or less, he does it to accomplish some good end, just as it is with all the works of his hand. His own glory is the only end, for which he can be considered as operating, in any manner, or upon any occasion. He effects the salvation of sinners, on account of the glory, that will redound to his name from the exercise of that sovereign mercy, which is effectual to their redemption. He has no other inducement for taking measures to bring guilty creatures to renounce the cause of Satan and to enlist in the service of Christ, and to put them into possession of that in heritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away. Were no glory to accrue to God from redeeming mercy, an instance of it would not take place in the world. Sinners, if there were any such characters, would continue such, and abide all the con. sequences of their sin. But as the fact appears incontestible, that God is reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their tresspasses unto them, we are invited to look into the scheme of his mercy, his gracious dealings with the children of men, especially the church, to see how his glory is promoted in the great work of salvation. And if the honour of God is advanced in the repentance of sinners, and their attainment of everlasting life, the work is not of man, but of God. Though the well doing of men, in this great concernment, is, not unnecessary, and cannot
be dispensed with; yet it is as absurd to im pute it to man, that God is finally honoured and exalted, as it would be to ascribe it to saws, axes, and hammers, that houses and other buildings are raised up. It is not their work, though done by their means. Though man honours God by loving, fearing, and. obeying him, and by bringing forth much fruit; yet is it true, after all, that, in these. devout and holy exercises of the creature, God honours himself, and accomplishes his own glory. It is the Lord's work, however many dependent exertions. may be put forth in bringing it to perfection. "Without me," says Christ to his disciples, "ye can do nothing." Whatever they do, therefore, in the christian calling, to help on and build up the Redeemer's kingdom, is done by virtue of their being in Christ, and the subjects of his gracious influences; and cannot be ascribed to them, as original and primitive agents; but only as acting under the energies of him, who worketh in them mightily. One thing, which the apostle makes a subject of prayer. in behalf of the Ephesian brethren is, that they might know "what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who be lieve, according to the working of his mighty power." A similar petition of his is recorded in 2 Thes. "Wherefore also we pray. always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power. That the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God, and the Lord Jesus Christ." It is easy to conceive, that beings, who do not exist of themselves, and are, therefore, dependent, may work, so far as they are under the operation of a power, capable of moving them, and, consequently, be the means of great good. But whatever is brought to pass, in this way, none will ascribe to the dependent agent; but to that power, by which he was actuated. God can be, and is, glorified by the faithful subjects of his kingdom, in that he gives them grace to serve him acceptably with reverence and Godly fear. But this is glorifying himself through the instrumentality of man. And what higher honour, in the scale of being, can any man claim, than this, to act for the glory of God, as he is enabled, by divine power working in him? which implies that he is an instrument, by which God glorifies himself. That this is the actual situation of all the holy branches, which grow out of Christ, is evident from this, that they must continue in him, in order to escape the excision, which is the lot of all dry and withered branches. If the Spirit of the Almighty does not animate, inspire, and direct them, they are nothing. They can have no agency at all, and can be of no use to the kingdom of God, to build it up, and advance its interests. The apostle has well expressed the dependent state of every believer, in regard to his ability and success,
in performing the duties of the christian life. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. The prophet gives God the praise of being all in all, and working for his own name's sake, by means of dependent creatures, where he says, hast wrought all our works in us." do not work in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure, whence shall we be furn. ished to the business of working out our salvation with fear and trembling? If we do the will of God only by virtue of a divine work upon our souls, why should the effect produced be attributed to ourselves, rather than to God, whose we are and whose are all our ways? However we may be workers together with God, our works are only the fruit of his gracious influences; so that all is from him, as it returns to him again. The apostle, accordingly, frames a prayer of the following tenour. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith: that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." And if
Christ, by dwelling in his people and enrich ing them with all knowledge and all might, causes them to be fruitful in all the christian graces and virtues; shall he not be reckoned the author and finisher of their faith, and be entitled to the honour of bringing to pass all the good consequences, which come in the way of their obedience? Paul speaks of himself, as being made a minister of the gospel, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto him, by the effectual working of his power. Accordingly, he addresses the Corin thians thus, "If I come again I will not spare: Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.' This apostle, so eminent in his zeal and exertions for the spread of the gospel, and the propagation of christian doctrines, who spared no pains, and shrunk from no task, however arduous, that he might bring honour to Christ in the salvation of sinners; gloried in nothing save the things which concerned his infirmity.Though his labours were very abundant, pursued with great ardor, and often with much hazard, he did not place them to his own account, as furnishing matter of boasting. Though not behind the very chiefest apostles, he acknowledged himself to be nothing. It was in this point of view, viz. that none of his fervent affections, or successful endeavours, originated from himself but were all ministered, or begotten, by the effectual workings of the divine Spirit.