« 上一頁繼續 »
gency, to be one kind of instrument in fulfilling the designs of his providence ; may he not need moral agents, even devout and holy men, to be another kind of instrument, in carrying on the same great and infinitely important work? If this be admitted, it must appear very absurd, to argue against the moral nature and accountability of man, from the consideration of his being used as an instrument of glory to God. And to say that the Almighty cannot communicate moral agency to creatures, and use it for his own glory, even as it seemeth him best, methinks would appear so great an instance of arrogancy and impiety, that none would dare venturé upon it. The meek and humble believer, instead of questioning the right of Deity to use any of his creatures for himself, or hence inferring that such creatures must be without moral agency and accountability, rejoices to find himself a vessel in the house of God, subservient to the divine purposes, and that all his affections and deportment will be made a means of praise to him, whose is the kingdom, majesty and glory.
Wicked men the instruments of God's providence.
JEREMIAH li. 20, 21, 22, 23.
Thou art my battle-axse and weapons of war : for with thee will I break in pieces the nations ; and with thee will I destroy kingdoms ;
And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider ;
With thee also will I break in pieces man and woman ; and with thee will I break in pieces old and young; and with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid ;
I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen ; and with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers.
N pursuing the contemplation of providence, as the work of God, and marking the divers operations of the divine hand, in varying the face of the world and the state of mankind, we should keep in mind, that the Judge of all the earth will do right.
Whatever wrongs may be found in the hands of others; yet righteousness is with the Lord. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; neither shall evil dwell with thee.” That mischiefs, of all descriptions, do abound in the world, which God governs, is a fact so well known as to be doubted by none. This implies no imperfection in God, as supreme ruler ; it neither implies that his counsels are infected with moral impurity, nor that his government is limited. It does not imply that he lacks either wisdom or ho. liness, or that any thing takes place without, much less contrary to, the purpose and influ. ence of his own providence. Heretofore we have considered it a plain scriptural idea, that God, in governing the world, or carrying into execution his eternal counsels of love and faithfulness, makes use of creatures as instruments, and particularly the church : that he redeems Jacob, in order that he may be glorified in Israel. He saves men from sin and condemnation, that he may magnify and honour his grace ; that he may fulfil his eternal purpose of glorifying his own name, and proving how much he is entitled to confidence from the whole rational world. That the redemption of sinners, being a work of God, should have this for its ultimate object; that sinners should be made holy, and saved froin the curse of the law, merely that the name of God might receive praise, is a doctrine, the reasonableness and propriety of which I would fain conclude none will be
very apt to question, especially of those, who accustom themselves to believe, that God is. the author and the finisher of the christian's faith. It is hoped, that none will be dispos. ed to deny God's making use of the church, of all the subjects of saving grace, as instruments of his own glory ; and that for this purpose he has called them to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ. So marvellous and astonishing a work of grace could not have been devised from eternity for an end less interesting and important. But redeeming guilty men, is but one branch of the general work of providence. This is not the only channel, in which divine operations are manjfest. If God can make instruments of his saints for the fulfilling of his counsels of wisdom and goodness, will it be absurd to conceive he may do the same with others, with persons of an opposite description? You will all perceive, no doubt, from the spirit and tenour of my text, that as I have before at tempted to show the divine influence upon the saints, in making them instruments of glory to God; so my object now is to bring sinners into a similar relation to God, or to show, that they are instruments, by which he works, and brings to pass what he has purposed from eternity for the everlasting honour of his own great name. I am not wholly insensible of the difficulties attending this subject ; nor unaware, considering how much diversity of sentiment, and how many discordant feelings have been expressed rela.
tive to it, that, in discoursing upon it, I shall be likely to suggest and lay down things, which, to some, will appear exceptionable, and highly erroneous. Shall I, therefore, wave the discussion, and resort to some easier theme, where there will be no occasion to say any thing, which all will not instantly see through and adopt without a moment's hesitancy? I think I can declare, with as much sincerity as any man living, that I have no desire to wound the feelings of any one with unwelcome and distasteful sentiments ; especially of one, who has a tenderness for the cause of religion and the honour of God. And such I presume will see the magnitude and importance of the present subject as clearly as I can be supposed to do ; and will desire to examine it with all the assiduity, candour, and caution, that an ingenuous mind is capable of. If it has any thing mysterious or perplexing in it, some I know would advise to pass it over in silence, and confine one's thoughts and words to what is inore obvious and simple. But how much soever of paradox there may be in the present subject, it is, I think, of the same importance, that we should receive correct instruction uponit,and that we should imbibe just views concerning it, as that we should believe in the existence of one God, and hold his character in proper estimation. . We cannot be said to have faith in God, that God, who is the object of the good man's pious affections and adoration, unless we have