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SERM. 1° the midst of those vicissitudes, .J^-, which are so obviously conducive to improvement, both wisdom and goodness required, that the supreme Governor of the world should be seen to protect the interests, and favour the side of virtue. But in the degree of evidence, with which this was to be shown, it was no less requisite, that a proper temperament should be observed. Had virtue been always completely rewarded, and made happy on earth, men would no longer have had a motive for aspiring to a more blessed state. In the case of every crime, had divine justice interposed to bring complete punifliment on the head of the criminal j or had all the felicity which is prepared for the just in a future world, and all the misery which there awaits the wicked, been already displayed to the yiew, and rendered sensible to the feelings of men, there would have been an end of that state of trial, for which, our whole condition on earth was intended. 1^ was necessary, therefore, that, at
present, we mould see through a gldsss£J.B£ darkly. A certain degree of mystery and ^^ obscurity was, with perfect wisdom, left on the conduct of the Almighty*.-But, amidst that obscurity, sufficient encouragement and support is in the mean time given to virtue; sufficient ground is afforded for the full belief, that it is what the Deity loves, and will finally reward. His approbation of it is signified to every man by the voice of conscience. Inward satisfaction and peace are made always to belong to it; and general esteem and honour, for the most part, to attend it. On the other hand, the wicked, in no situation of life, are allowed to be truly happy. Their vices and their passions are made to trouble their prosperity; and their punishment to grow out of their crimes, Let any one attentively recollect the material incidents of his life ., and he will, for the most part, be able to trace the chief misfortunes which have befallen
SE RM.fallen him, to some guilt he has con(__V_^J tracted, of some folly he has committed.* Such is the profound wisdom with which Providence conducts its counsels, that, although it does not appear to interpose, men are made to reap from their actions, the fruits which they had deserved; their iniquities to correct them, and their backflidings to reprove them; and while they suffer, they are forced to acknowledge the justice of their puniihment.-r—These are not matters of rare or occasional observation j but deeply interwoven with the texture of human affairs. They discover a regular plan, a formed system, according to which the whole train of Providence proceedsand which ma-v nifests to every serious observer the con-r summate wisdom of its Author.-r-As thus, in the constitution of human nature, and in the moral government of the world, divine wisdom so remarka^ably appears, I must observe, .
In the third place, That in the re- I demption of the world, and in the ceconomy os grace, it shines no less conspicuously. The subject which opens to us here is too extensive to be fully illustrated at present but the great lines of it are obvious*..—In carrying on a plan, by which forgiveness was to be dispensed to an offending race, wisdom required that the authority of the legislator should be fully preserved, and no such relaxation be introduced into government, as might give licence or encouragement to offenders. Accordingly, the most admirable provision was made for these important purposes, by the interposition of the Son of God suffering and dying for sinners. The sovereign awe of justice is maintained, while justice is tempered with mercy. Men are bound to righteousness, under the highest sanctions; and ample security and consolation are,
* See Serm. V. Vol. i Serm. V. Vol. ii.—Serm.
JCV. Vol. iii Serm. y. Vol. iy.
S E R M. at the fame time, afforded to the peniyj!?^ tent. By the instructions, and example, of their Saviour, they are instructed in their duty; and through a Mediator and Intercessor, they are encouraged to , offer their Worship and prayers to the Almighty. They are assured that, in whatever is too arduous for human nature to perform, they shall be assisted by a divine Spirit; and under all trials and difficulties, they are supported by the express promise of that eternal life, which is brought to light by the gospel.—It is not possible for the understanding to conceive any method of salvation, planned with more goodness, and executed with more wisdom, than what is mown in the gospel of Christ. The consideration of this constitution alone, gives us full reason to join in that exclamation of the Apostle: O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways paji finding out !*
* Roia. ii. 33.