« ZurückWeiter »
divine character. Our Saviour frequently offended the Pharisees by calling them blind. Paul says, “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The apostle John says, “ He that lov- . eth not, knoweth not God, for God is love." Those who are entirely under the influence of a selfish heart, cannot know how an infinitely benevolent being feels. Though they may have a speculative knowledge of disinterested love, and discern an essential difference between selfishness and benevolence, yet ihey have no experimental knowledge of the supreme beauty and glory of the Deity. T'hey must feel as he does, in order to have a moral view of his moral excellence.
10. If God's glory essentially consists in his goodness, then those who have seen his real glory in the least degree, will desire to see more and more of it. This appears from the nature of spiritual discoveries, which afford peculiar satisfaction to those to whom they are made. Moses had seen the moral beauty of the divine character, and this led him to desire a more full and perfect discovery of it. “I beseech thee show me thy glory." David had seen the glory of God, and his partial views of it led him to desire larger and clearer views of his moral beauty. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord.” Those who possess the least degree of grace, and have had the least view of the moral excellence of the Deity, heartily desire to see all the glory of God displayed in all the manifestations of his goodness. They are not afraid of seeing his power, or his wisdom, or his sovereignty, or his justice, or his grace, too fully discovered; because they know that all his perfections are under the influence of that perfect benevolence which they love. They are not afraid of looking into futurity, and sending their thoughts into the regions of light and the regions of darkness; for they know that wherever they shall see the hand, they shall see the heart of God, and it will be impossible to discover any part of his character, or any instance of his conduct, which will not display his goodness. Blessed are the pure in heart, who love to see God. Their desires shall be completely satisfied when they arrive at the kingdom of glory; and with this hopeful prospect they may possess their souls in patience, as David did. “As for ine, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness."
Let all take occasion from what has been said, to inquire whether they sincerely love the glory of God. This is some. thing very different from loving their own happiness, and loving God for promoting it. To love the glory of God is to love all his goodness, and all the perfections of his nature which are under the influence of it. It is to be pleased with every part of the divine character, and every instance of the divine conduct. God has displayed his goodness towards angels and men, both in a state of holiness and in a state of sin. He has discovered his feelings towards holy and unholy creatures. He has manifested the highest complacency and delight in those who love him, and the highest displeasure against his enemies. He has provided a beaven of holiness and happiness for the righteous, and a place of everlasting torment for the wicked. He is now forming vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath, upon whom to display all his goodness in all its branches to all eternity. Now do you desire to see the glory of God displayed in all these ways and upon all these objects ? Are you wishing for the accomplishment of all God's designs for the display of his glory? Can you enter into his views and feelings in the plan of redemption, which is to unfold all his goodness! Can you desire that this scheme of perfect benevolence should be carried into execution, whether it shall raise or sink, save or destroy you for ever? If these be your feelings, you are really friendly to God. And that goodness which you love, will have a most friendly aspect upon your happiness. It will engage all the attributes of the Deity in your favor, and conduct you finally to that kingdom which was prepared for you before the foundation of the world. But, on the other hand, if you cannot enter into the benevolent views and feelings of the Deity, nor heartily acquiesce in all the displays of his goodness, you are real enemies to God and to all righteousness. And that goodness which you hate and oppose will engage all his perfections against you. He cannot display all his goodness, unless he makes his wrath and power known in your everlasting destruction. The same goodness of God which requires him to save penitent believing sinners, equally requires him to destroy the impenitent and unbelieving. The same goodness of God which prompts him to raise saints to the third heaven, will equally prompt him to sink sinners to the lowest hell. Let the goodness of God, therefore, both alarm and allure sinners to exercise that godly sorrow, which worketh repentance unto salvation. Amen.
FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
KNOwn unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.-ACTs, xv. 18.
Soon after a church was formed at Antioch, certain men came from Judea, and taught the brethren that they could not be saved,' unless they were circumcised after the manner of Moses. This caused much dispute, which Paul and Barnabas
. endeavored to settle ; but they could by no means reconcile the contending parties. At length, it was proposed to refer the question to an ecclesiastical council at Jerusalem. Accordingly, the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. After much had been said upon the subject, Peter rose up and told the council that he had been divinely directed to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, and had been very successful in his preaching, which led him to conclude that it was an unnecessary and unreasonable burden to require the Gentiles to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses. Next Barnabas and Paul declared what miracles and wonders God had wrought by their ministry among the Gentiles. Last of all, James rose up and said, “ Men and brethren, hearken unto me; Simeon haih declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” Here James alludes to what God had predicted concerning the conversion of