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expression of his love, and gathers in the people that lay in his bosom from everlasting. The one great fold is perpetually in his eye; the sheep that are lost (not from his eye, nor his heart,) in the grasp of justice, he is now seeking at the cost of his life; and he ever lives to gather them into his fold on the shoulders of his power. Now surrounded by a few of his sheep of Jewish extraction, he looks forward to the countless host of Gentiles that are to come bleeting to the fold, when they should hear his life-giving voice of omnipotent energy, and enter into the possession of life given them of old.
In looking at this sacred clause, every word is replete with importance, consolation, and certainty. It is the declaration of eternal independance, with majesty, and foreknowledge all divine. It is expressive of the sublimity of his character, and is the opening of an eternal design : “ them also I must bring,” said the ever-loving tender shepherd. We may here mark, the sheep now straying in the wilderness are as certain of heaven as those that are enclosed there. The salvation and glorification of the church is founded in God's acts : all that will finally rise to bliss were embraced in the arms of infinite love before time: every act of returning is the effect of eternal purpose, and the fruit of the ransoming death of the great Shepherd. " Them also I must bring,” for I receive them by deed of gift from my Father's hand; them, whom he gave me in the counsels of eternity; them, that I took up in my love-thoughts from of old; them, that have a grace union to my person ; them, that I entered into covenant for, and pledged the honours of my name; them, for whom I have laid aside my glory, left my Father's bosom, and am now shrouded in flesh; them, for whom I now lay down my life to redeem, and take possession of heaven; them, upon whom my eye is fixed, and my heart ever dwells.
" Them also I must bring '' for all the honour of my attributes are at stake-I must bring, or my oath will be violated, my promise broken, and my engagements unfulfilled—I must bring, or my glory will be lost, my character for ever sullied, and my name covered with endless disgrace-I must bring, to shine in my mediatorial crown, for one jewel missing would mar its lustre for ever-I must bring, from the territories of sin and darkness, or devils would shout in everlasting triumph-I must bring, or angels would be filled with everlasting disappointment-I must bring, for they are entrusted to my care-I must bring, or justice would be tarnished for ever (as they are honorably redeemed) my faithfulness impeached, and all my designs frustrated-I must bring, or my characters and relations would be incomplete for ever-I must bring, or my mystic body would be imperfect, the cabinet would be wanting, some of the family missing, the building for ever unfinished, the sheep told out would come short, the book of life not filled up, the treasure would be lost, and some of the heavenly mansions vacant, my Father disappointed, and my head uncrowned for ever. But “ them I must bring," for my arm is all-sufficient, my knowledge all-comprehending, my wisdom infinite, my goodness unbounded, my love unceasing, and my grace all-conquering and triumphant. “ Them I must bring," for I am to be glorified in, by, and through them for ever.
He has been bringing them in through all the dispensations of time, by his Spirit, through the gospel, awful providences, reading the word, and various other means he brings them to see their ruin, brings them to his cross for salvation, to his feet for instruction, to his ordinances for refreshment; he brings them to rest in his character, confide in his care, and trust their final salvation with him ; he brings them through all their troubles, temptations, afflictions, and all the wilderness trials; he brings them through life, through death, into his kingdom and glory; and will finally bring them up from the grave, and present the whole flock to his father without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing.
Then all the sheep the Father loved,
Shall stand before the throne;
In folding every one.
(For the Spiritual Magazine.) FURTHER REPLY TO J. H. ON “CHRIST'S LOOK UPON
PETER,” OR GOD'S DISPLEASURE WITH THE SINS OF
HIS ELECT. Mr. Editor,
I was not long since forcibly struck with the following remark of the illustrious Toplady, that “ controversy when conducted in a christian spirit is a friend to truth;" encouraged by this, and called upon as I am by the sophistical reasoning, and unfounded charges of J. H. in his communication of the present month, and I trust at the same time impelled by the love of my exalted Lord, I dare not do otherwise, than (I hope for the last time upon this subject) again vindicate the insulted honours, and maintain the unsullied glories of the God of Jacob, and to enforce the sovereign authority of Him who reigneth King in Zion.
I cannot but think, Sir, that J. H. charges me very unjustly, when he insinuates that I have made an attempt to sap the very foundation of vital godliness, because I positively assert, upon the authority of a 6 Thus saith the Lord,” that if his children forsake his law, and continue not in his statutes, he will visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes, although his loving-kindness he will not utterly take from them, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail. Although I contend for this as an absolute fact, and am at any time prepared to prove the same upon scriptural ground, yet, permit me to add, that I believe in the faithfulness and immutability of Jehovah, and in the perpetuity of his love, and the everlasting security of the objects thereof, as firmly as J. H. himself; nay, those mountains of brass are the joy and rejoicing of my soul, and the burthen of my song, as I travel through this dreary desert to my everlasting home. But those people who will be wise above what is written, are generally found to be ignorant of that which is written; hence arise the heresies which from time to time creep into the church, and perplex the minds of the weak ones of the Lord's household. This I am sorry to say seems to be the case with J. H. who appears to manifest a degree of ignorance in his conceptions of Him who loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity; hence he has involved himself in difficulties which I think he will have some trouble to surmount.
I adduce the following instance: on page 109, he says (what I never denied) that “the past, the present, and the future with our God is one eternal Now;"and on the page preceding, that I bind myself to believe in the mutability of God, when I assert, that he does see sin in his people, " which," he says, “ makes him see at one time what he does not see at another." Now, Sir, I leave you, and the impartial reader to judge the consistency of the foregoing with thé following remark on page 112, where he says, “Where would be the justice of God, if it were possible for him to be angry with those on whose account he poured out all that anger upon Christ, as the church's daysman.” Now, if God visited his dear Son in anger, and poured upon his devoted head the vials of his wrath, what, I ask, was the cause of this sore visitation but the sins of his people therefore, if he had not viewed those sins with infinite abhorrence, he would never have punished his Son for them, that he might have an infinite satisfaction by which his perfections and attributes might sweetly harmonize in the salvation of his church. O Sir, what an instance was this of Jehovah's displeasure with sin, although in those who were then as much the objects of his sovereign love and free favour as they are now, or will be to all eternity! This of course J. H. will readily allow; then, I argue, that if at any one time the sins of the people of God were odious in his sight, while their persons were dear to his heart, it certainly must be the case now; otherwise, to use J. H.'s own words, “ He sees at one time what he does not see at another," which is a gross insult to his very nature and perfections.
But I think it is a fact borne out by the scriptures, and confirmed by the daily experience of the children of the Most High, that God necessarily hates the sins while he sovereignly loves the persons of his elect; this position I hope to prove from the plain declarations of God himself. By the way, I observe, that I consider the error which J. H. and others have fallen into, concerning the immutability of Jehovah, and his unchanging love to his children, consist principally in having wrong views of the nature and perfections of his sacred Majesty; and here it will be necessary to consider the love of God in a two-fold point of view—1st. in that which is natural, and 2ndly, in that which is sovereign and free. By the natural love of God I mean that which is essential and necessary to his nature, for “God is love." Therefore we must consider Jehovah in his nature as the fountain of
purity and the source of all holiness, nay, he is holiness and perfection in their essence; hence it is evident that he could not make creatures morally defective, or disagreeable to himself; they were what he willed them to be, and when he had finished the work of creation he looked upon the things he had made and pronounced them good, nay, not only so, but very good. So he says again that he made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions ; but while man continued in his original state he was the object of his approbation, but when he by transgression fell from that state of holiness in which he was created, the wrath and indignation of the Lord kindled against him, and he which was before the object of his approbation, by sin became the object of his disapprobation; nevertheless, this change arose not in the mind of God, but in the creature that sinned; as we read, “the righteous Lord loveth righteousness, and holiness is his perpetual delight :” while sin ever was and ever will remain the thing which his soul abhors; this arises from the infinite purity of his nature, which has for its object his own holy image in which man was created, viz. righteousness and true holiness.
This holy nature is too pure to behold iniquity but with infinite disgust; that love, which is the cause of salvation, is absolutely sovereign, rich, and free; but his hatred to sin and love of holiness does not arise merely from his will, (though it is not against it) but from the infinite purity of his nature; therefore, while he necessarily hates, he sovereignly loves. The natural or essential love of God is manifested by his love of holiness, and hatred to sin, while his sovereign love has for its object the persons of his elect, without a regard to disposition, or any thing they may or may not possess, and is manifested through atoning blood, and sanctifying grace, that by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, they may be made new creatures in Christ Jesus; and being conformed to his lovely image (which they had lost) they serve God in newness of life, and live to the praise of the glory of his grace. Thus by a new-creation work they become the objects of the Lord's natural love; hence it is said, “I will call her beloved which was not beloved,” Rom. ix. 25. which can never be said of the church, for she is said to be (sovereignly) loved from everlasting; therefore, in a primary sense, there never was a time when the church was not beloved. I believe it to be a truth, however harsh it may sound in the ears of some, that those who thus become the objects of his natural love, may through their sips subject themselves to his displeasure, without at all affecting their standing as the covenant family of God, or him as their covenant Father and unchanging friend, and for this reason, Jehovah's sovereign good will is fixed only on the persons of his family, without any thing in them, and remains the same through the changing scenes of this time state, notwithstanding their provocations and their sins; on the other hand, there can be no change in his natural love, because holiness is his invariable delight, and he can delight in nothing short of it. In proof of this I will bring a few passages from the word of God; if we turn to Psalm lxxviii. 59 and 62. we find that though God loved, yet he greatly abhorred Israel, and was wroth with his inheritance. See also Psalm cvi. 4, 44. Jer. xii. 7, 8. Isaiah xliii. 24, 25.
Thus we see how sovereign love triumphs in the sinner's salvation, through the blood-shedding of our dear Immanuel, in a way which at once displays the infinite purity of Jehovah's nature, and free, rich, unmerited favour. Let not J. H. think this reflects upon the finished work of Christ, as though it was incompleto; but let him bear in mind, that the death of Christ was designed to make an atonement for sin, and not to alter the nature and perfections. of Jehovah, nor veil his purity. Sinners are translated from darkness to light, but he ever was, and ever will be, “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither the shadow of turning."
I must observe that J. H. will do well to bear in mind, that the Lord Jesus is a King as well as a Saviour, as the church says by Isaiah xxxiii. 22. - The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King, he will save us." As a Lawgiver and a King, he will not suffer his laws to be broken, without manifesting his displeasure; indeed, I think his own declaration of his kingly authority should for ever silence all gainsayers; “ if they forsake my law, and continue not in my statutes, then will I visit their iniquities with a rod,” &c. But how, I seriously ask, can he visit them for their iniquities, if he sees none in them. this I leave to J. H.'s superior judgment to solve. If he should again take up his pen, I hope he will know better than to charge me with what I defy him to prove, viz. making the God of truth and holiness both unjust and a liar; indeed he makes me utter what he considers very little short of blasphemy! My dear Sir, I tremble at such a dogmatical, arrogant, and condemnatory method of arriving at the truth; and I do here, in the most solemn manner, call upon him to come forward and give a fair and scriptural exposition of the various passages of holy writ, but not explain away their obvious meaning, as he has attempted to do by some of those I brought forward in my last. I challenge him to adduce one passage of scripture to favour his hypothesis. You may think me bold, Mr. Editor, but I assure you it is not with any desire of being high-minded, for I feel jealous of my Lord's honour, and when that is at stake, I claim a right to be bold. Having said thus much I bid you farewell, as I do not intend writing again upon this subject, but I may occasionally cast a mite into the treasury concerning the things of the kingdom. "To J. H. I would say, in the language of Hannah, in reference to the rash judgment of Eli, “talk no more so exceeding proudly, let not arrogancy come out of your mouth, for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” 1 Sam. ii. 3.
May the Lord be pleased to bless this humble attempt to vindicate his holiness, and shew the perfections of his character, and how he can be just and holy, yet the justifier of the unholy. Amen.
I subscribe myself, Mr. Editor, a friend to all who bear the name and image of our precious Lord. September 8, 1827.
T. W. H.