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was unsearchable to angels, till it was revealed by the Spirit to the Apostles, and by them opened and proclaimed to the world. They had before seen the wisdom, power and goodness of God in creation and providence ; but the display of his manifold wisdom, and of his abundant grace in the redemption of men by the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of his Son, opened a new scene of wonders, and afforded new themes of praise. Now they beheld that, which before they had never seen, and but imperfectly conceived, the Son of God assuming humanity, dying for the guilty, rising from the grave, ascending to glory, shedding down the Spirit, commissioning Apostles, and sending them forth to proclaim pardon and life to the chief of sinners. Accordingly in the revelation, they are said to sing a new song ; not only the song of 1 Moses, which they had been used to sing ; Thou art worthy to receive glory, for thou hast created all things ; but also the song of the Lamb: Thou art worthy ta receive blessing and praise, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.-Though they are not the immediate subjects of this redemption, having kept their first state, yet they join in the song of Saints, who have been redeemed from the earth. Such is their benevolence—such their joy for the redemption of fallen men-such their admiration of God's new discovered grace to sinners, that they take into their own mouths the song of saints ; “ Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us by thy blood." The Apostle adds, “I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” And every creature joined in the anthem, saying, “ Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever."
1. This subject may serve to enlarge our views of the divine government.
The gospel dispensation, which immediately concerns the human race, answers some important purposes to other intelligences. All the ways, in which angels might be benefited by it, we are unable to conceive. But that hereby their knowledge and admiration of God's wisdom, grace and holiness are increased, and consequently their devotion, love and felicity are exalted, we are expressly taught.
2. This subject suggests to us, that heaven is a place of improvement. The angels still are learners. They learned much by the publication of the gospel ; and new wonders in the course of providence are open. ing to their view. In the prophetic book of the Reve. lation we find them, from time to time, breaking forth into fresh admiration and praise on every new dispensation of mercy toward the church.
The saints here below are exhorted to grow in knowledge and grace. Whatever advances they make, they are still imperfect. When they arrive at heaven, they are said to be made perfect, as being wholly freed from sin. But they are not so perfect in holiness, but that there is room for improvement. If angels grow in knowledge, so may saints. They will receive farther advancement at the resurrection. But even then they will not have reached the summit of created perfection. They may, like angels, be ever learning, ever meeting new objects of wonder, and new occasions of praise, as they trace the ways, and converse with the works
3. We see the humility of angels. They are supe. rior beings, exalted to heavenly places, and called principalities and powers ; yet they disdain not to learn from the church on earth the manifold wisdom of God. Yea, they are willingly employed as ministering spira
its to men. From their example let us learn humility and charity. If we hope to dwell with angels above, let us cultivate that temper which is their hap. piness and glory. Let us learn more of the wisdom of God, nor think it dishonorable to learn wisdom from inferiors. Let us condescend to men of low estate, and bear the infirmities of the weak. For this we have a more engaging example than that of angels, even the example of the Son of God, who came not to be ministered unto,” but to minister. among his disciples, as one who served. He gave them a pattern of meekness, humility and love, that they should do to one another, as he had done to them.
He was SERMON XVIII.
Freedom of Access to God by Faith in Christ.
EPHESIANS iii. 11, 18, 19.
According to his eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
THE Apostle here resumes a thought, which he had mentioned several times before, that the admission of the Gentiles to a participation in the privileges of the gospel was according to the eternal purpose, which God had made in Christ Jesus. The extension of the church of God to comprehend all nations, was not a new design ; it was a plan which divine wisdom had formed before the world was made. Though it was a mystery once unknown, and still hardly credible to the Jews, yet intimations had been given of it in prophecy, and dispositions had been made toward it Provi. dence, through all preceding ages of the world. The promise of a Saviour to fallen Adam respected his posterity, as well as himself; and as he was the head of the human race, it extended alike to all men. The promise to the patriarchs was more explicit ; that “ in their seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed.” Under the Jewish dispensation, the Saviour
was typified in 'sacred persons and religious ceremonies, and foretold in the preaching and writings of the prophets, who sometimes expressly described him, as coming to bring salvation to the ends of the earth." The frequent dispersions and captivities of the Jews conveyed to other nations a knowledge of their religion, of their prophetic writings, and of their promised Messiah, and raised in the minds of inquisitive Heathens an expectation of this wonderful person. But the full discovery of this divine scheme was not made, until after Christ's resurrection, when he commanded his Apostles to go into all the world, and preach his gospel to all nations. Nor does it seem to have been perfectly understood, even by the Apostles themselves, until Peter, by a heavenly vision, was directed to go and preach the gospel to the family of the Roman centurion, Cornelius. After Peter had executed this mission, finding some of his brethren dissatisfied with his conduct, he explained to them the reasons of it, and informed them of the success which had attended it; And, on hearing of these things, " they glorified God, saying, Then hath God granted to the Gentiles also repentance unto life.”
To impress the minds of the Ephesians with a deeper sense of their indebtedness to the sovereign grace of God, the Apostle often repeats this thought, that the offer of salvation, now brought to them by the gospel of Christ, was not the fruit of their works, intentions or desires, but the result of God's eternal purpose in his Son, and the effect of those disposals which he had been making from the beginning of the world. “God was found of them who sought him not, and made manifest to them who inquired not after him.”
There was nothing which more filled the mind of this Apostle, and which he more frequently inculcated on Christians, ihan the freeness, extent, sovereignty and glory of Gud's grace in the salvation of sinners.