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through your mercy they may obtain mercy.-O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or, Who hath been his counsellor ? Of him, and through him, and to him are all things. To him be glory, for ever."
4. The worth of the blessings, which we ask and God bestows, infinitely exceeds all our thoughts.
The blessings of the gospel are "unsearchable rich. es." They are purchased with an infinite price-not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. Blessings pur. chased at such a price must be of immense value. We can form no perfect estimation of their worth in them. selves or of their importance to us.
The sinner, awakened to a sense of his guilt, knows pardon and heaven to be vastly more desirable than all the treasures of the earth. He views them as pearls of great price, to purchase which he would sell all that he has. In comparison with them he counts his worldly wealth as dross; and to win them he would cheerfully suffer the loss of all things. While he meditates on the evil of sin and its dreadful demerit, he feels ardent and increasing desires of God's forgiving and saving mer cy. But all his desires-all his thoughts sink far be low the worth of the object.
As we have no adequate conception of the purity and dignity of the Supreme Jehovah, so we can have no full apprehension of the exceeding sinfulness and demerit of our numerous offences committed against this glorious Being; and, consequently, but a very imperfect sense of the immensity of that mercy which they receive, whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. When we ask pardon, we ask that which abundantly exceeds all our thoughts.
The happiness of heaven as much surpasses our ideas, as does the demerit of sin. We know it to be
something great and good. We raise our apprehensions of it by contemplating the sublime descriptions which we find in the sacred pages. We think how desirable it is to dwell in the glorious presence of God -to enjoy his favor continually-to serve him without interruption-to be free from sin, temptation, fear and pain-to mingle with pure and happy spirits in social devotion and reciprocal love to be released from all our present perplexities and doubts-to be constantly improving in knowledge and virtue-to have our minds more and more enlarged, our holy desires exalted, and all our wants supplied. We aid our conceptions of the heavenly world by attending to the images and metaphors of scripture. We think of thrones, crowns, kingdoms, glories, honors, riches, joys complete, and pleasures everlasting. But after all," eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
The blessings which the gospel offers are eternal: And eternity is an idea much too big for mortals to receive. We can only view it by parts; and yet parts it hath none. We add years to years, and ages to ages, till imagination is overwhelmed; but after the utmost stretch of thought, the object is still ungrasped. Since boundless duration belongs to the blessings which we ask, we ask more than we can think. When we pray for the pardon of sin-peace with God-sanctifying grace-admission into heaven, we ask things which God can give; but which we cannot comprehend.
Now if God is able to do thus abundantly for us, how confidently may we rely on him in all our straits— how cheerfully may we apply to him in all our wants? Filled with a sense of the divine power and goodness, the prophet says, "Although the figtree shall not blos
som, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall
be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation." St. Paul's consolation in all his dangers, and in the view of death was this; "I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him." This was the ground of that noble fortitude with which the youths in Babylon despised the terrors of the furnace: "The God whom we serve is able to deliver us, and he will deliver us."
If we believe that a Being of perfect wisdom, power and goodness governs the world, we have no occasion for anxiety; we may cast our cares on him. If he is for us, Who can be against us? If he defends us, Who can harm us? If he sustains us, What can depress us? If he disposes our condition, What can happen amiss? Our only concern should be to secure his favor, and stand approved in his sight. Conscious of the integrity of our hearts, we may be joyful in all circumstances, and preserve a serenity of spirit amidst all changes.
When we meet with adversities, let us contemplate the wisdom, power and goodness of that Being, who marvellously turns to good the things which look like. evil, and overrules for the benefit of the godly the events which wear the deadliest aspect.
While we view ourselves as in the hands and under the care of such a Being, we may despise the terrors of the world, and rise superior to temptation, adversity and death. "I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." -"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for God is with me.""God is our strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed out of its place, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea."
With what delightful confidence may we approach to God in prayer? We feel a thousand wants, which VOL. III.
we are unable to supply. We look around, and soon perceive the vanity of human help. But despairing here, we can with courage go and tell our wants to God, who is able to do more than we ask. We are conscious of great unworthiness; but his grace can abound more than even our sins have abounded. It is impossible we should ask as much as his goodness, wisdom and power can do. How inexcusable are they, who live prayerless in the presence of such a Being?
What glorious hopes may Christians entertain ? Of the happiness which awaits the godly, the gospel gives us most exalted descriptions. But after the highest conceptions, which, by the help of these de. scriptions, we form of future happiness, still it is something, which abundantly exceeds all that we think. Let us then be patient in tribulation, joyful in hope, instant in prayer, and zealous of good works; for our labor and patience will not be vain-our prayers and Greater and more hopes will not be disappointed. glorious things await us, than we ever have asked, or now can think.
But, on the other hand, let us remember, that God is able to destroy, as well as to save. And as the hap piness which awaits the just, so the misery which threatens the impenitent, will vastly exceed all previous apprehensions. Sinners will perish with a wonderful destruction-a destruction which they would not be lieve, though one should declare it to them. They will be punished by that God, whose power is infinite -yea, punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of his power.-And who knows the power of his anger ? Who can conceive the severity of that punishment, which anger, armed with omnipotence, will exe. cute on those who have despised the riches of divine grace? If to offend against God's purity and justice is dangerous, How dreadful to offend against his mercy and love? If sin by the commandment becomes exceedingly sinful, How sinful does it become by its op.
position to the grace of the gospel? They, who treat this with contempt, treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath. And wrath will come on them to the uttermost. We proceed,
II. To consider the ascription of glory which the Apostle makes to this Allsufficient God. "To him be glory in the church throughout all ages."
As God is in himself a most glorious Being, we are bound to glorify him in our hearts, by just thoughts of him and suitable regards to him-to glorify him in our actions by an imitation of his goodness, and a steady obedience to his commands-to glorify him in our language by speaking of him with reverence, and praising him for his benefits.
But what the Apostle here more especially desires is, that glory may be given to God in the church, God has predestinated us to the adoption of children, that we might be to the praise of the glory of his grace, 1. God is glorified by the increase of the church. As a king is honored in the multitude of his obedient subjects, and in the voluntary emigrations of many people into his dominions; so the glory of God's name is advanced on earth, when to his kingdom are made additions of such as serve him in holiness and righteousness, and walk in his commandments and ordinances blameless. The prophet, speaking of the happy increase of the church, says, "They shall come with acceptance on God's altar, and shall glorify the house of his glory." If, then, we would give glory to God in the church, let us invite and encourage many to come and join themselves to him in a perpetual covenant. This is the Lord's direction to his disciples, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
2. God is glorified in the church, when a devout regard is generally paid to the ordinances which he has instituted.