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When we consider the greatness of God, we must remember, that goodness belongs to greatness. In the contemplation of human greatness, we often leave out the idea of goodness, because we see that the thing itself is often wanting. Men of great wealth and power despise those who are placed below them. If we see much condescension joined with earthly dignity, we admire it as something But these partial conceptions of greatness we must not apply to the Deity. Goodness is his glory, and the exercise of it is his delight.
That man is unworthy of such a work as has been done for him, is undeniable; yea, he is unworthy of the daily bounties of Providence. But if the goodness of God is equal to the work, then we may believe, that it has been done. As God is an infinite and allperfect being, his goodness must exceed all our thoughts, However our guilt may abound, his grace much more abounds.
We see and know that God has made kind vision for our present support :-May we not from hence reasonably hope, that he has done more for our future happiness? We feel that we are weak, and need the care of his Providence, and we perceive that we enjoy it. We are conscious too, that we are guilty, and dependent on his grace :-May we not hope for this? The gospel tells us, that he has sent his Son to redeem and save us, and given his spirit to sanctify and preserve us :-Is it not a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation? We are sinners, but still God loads us with his benefits:-May not his daily bounty encourage our hope in his everlasting mercy? We cannot have too humble thoughts of ourselves, nor can we have too exalted thoughts of God.
If he had never revealed his mercy to save us, we could never have been assured how he would deal with us. Mercy is free; it may do for sinners more or less, as wisdom shall direct. The hopes
of nature are doubtful hopes. At most they can only say, Who can tell, if God will be gracious? If human reason without revelation, could not gain assurance of pardon, much less could it conceive such a method of dispensing pardon, as the gospel discovers. But since the discovery is made, and fully attested by signs and miracles, we have good reason to receive it; and we ought to receive it with gratitude and joy. It is the Lord's doing; let it be marvellous in our eyes.
How great soever the work of redemption is, it is not too great for perfect wisdom to contrive, boundless mercy to adopt, and infinite power to execute. Man, however small, is the creature of God, a rátional and immortal creature; and his race is an innumerable multitude. God, whose goodness extends to the brutal tribes, which exist but a few days, may well be supposed to regard such a race as the human, created to exist forever. We see the race to be important; and, in its connexion with other beings, it may be vastly more important than we can conceive; and the work of redemption, though it immediately relates to man, may answer other grand purposes in God's moral government. The works of grace then, though marvellous beyond conception, are rational and credible— rational, as suited to the wants of man, and agreeable to the goodness of God-credible, as revealed in his word, and attested by signs and wonders, and gifts of the Holy Ghost.
It becomes us then seriously to contemplate, and devoutly to admire these works of God; and with thankfulness and joy to take the benefit of them. For our salvation God has marvellously interposed.Shall we despise his grace, and neglect our salvation? How then shall we escape? Jesus has offered himself a sacrifice. If we reject this, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.
MATTHEW xxi. 43.
This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes,
AMONG all the works of God which
have come to our knowledge, the redemption of fallen men by Jesus Christ, is by far the most marvellous. Into this the angels desire to look, and from this they learn the manifold wisdom of God.
When we behold the glorious Creator and Goyernour of the universe, giving his own Son to death, that through him we might live-when we behold this divine Saviour compassed with our infirmities, bearing our sorrows, and dying in our cause when we behold him, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory, and bringing many to glory with him-we cannot but say, This is marvellous in our eyes.
In the contemplation of this work, some have thought it too marvellous to be believed, and have made the greatness of it an objection against its credibility.
This objection we have examined; and our examination, while it removes the objection, and confirms our faith in the great and admirable plan of the gospel, suggests to our minds various useful and important reflections.
1. The scheme of our redemption is a subject worthy of our frequent contemplation.
The scheme is wonderful; the more we view it, the more wonderful it appears; and the more wonderful, the more evidently divine; and if it is divine, it demands our attention and regard.
A design so grand in itself, so graciously adapted to human weaknesses and wants, and so clearly manifesting the glories of the Divine Character, will acknowledge no author less than God. All the works of the Lord are great, sought out by them who have pleasure in them. This work is peculiarly honourable and glorious. In this he appears gracious and full of compassion. In this he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. Let this be forever remembered,
Meditation is a rational exercise, and the proper employment of an intelligent being. We have intellectual, as well as animal faculties, and the former as well as the latter ought to be applied to their proper objects. The contemplation of grand and noble subjects swells the soul, enlarges its capacity, exalts its powers, and purifies its affections. No subject can so usefully or agreeably employ our thoughts, as the work of our redemption; for there is none so great and wonderful, so solemn and awful; none in which we are so deeply interested, and in which the glories and perfections of the Deity are so clearly displayed. If the angels, who need no redemption, desire to look into the plan of ours, how much should it engage our attention, for whose benefit it was immediately designed;
That we may have more admiring apprehension s of this great work, we must become acquainted
with ourselves. The reason why many think of it so seldom, or so indifferently, and discern in it so little wisdom and grace, is their ignorance of their own character, and their insensibility of their own condition. Christ came to seek and to save them who are lost. Had not men been lost, they would have needed no redemption. Until they feel themselves lost they will not value nor accept redemption. To them, who realize their ruined and helpless state, a Saviour will be precious.
Humility is a necessary preparative for the kingdom of God. The knowledge of ourselves is the ground work of humility. Convinced that we are guilty before God, and condemned by his justice; that we can make no satisfaction to his justice, nor resistance to his power, we shall adore his wisdom and grace in giving a Saviour for us, and laying our help on one, who is mighty to save; we shall admire the compassion of the Saviour in bearing our sins on the cross, that we might live through him; we shall rejoice, that he was delivered for our offen. ces and raised for our justification; that he is gone into heaven to prepare a place for us, and has sent down his spirit to prepare us for a place with himself.
Men's different apprehensions of the gospel scheme, are chiefly owing to their different views of themselves. The self confident and careless sinner will not submit to it, for he feels no need of it, and sees no excellency in it. The convinced and humbled sinner, realizing his own impotence and unworthiness, admires the salvation of the gospel, and earnestly desires to become a sharer in it. To him the invitations, calls and promises of the gospel, come with peculiar acceptableness.
That we may be better prepared for meditation on this marvellous work of God, we must be conversant with ourselves, search our hearts, try our