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and in reference to Christ and his kingdom ; that their multiplied transgressions would not hinder the bestowment of his mercy, nor were they so incompatible with the nature of his mission, nor so likely to operate to his prejudice, as the abominable pride and selfrighteousness which the scribes and pharisees constantly manifested by their conduct. , .
. Now, it must have been extremely mortifying to these restless persecutors of Christ, to find that their vacant seats were to be occupied by the refuse of mankind-by harlots, publicans, and profligates. They were too proud and too carnal to view themselves' as sinners standing in need of such a saviour as Christ professedly was. They expected a Messiah that would set up a temporal kingdom ; that would emancipate them from the bondage of Rome, and exalt the nation to inde. pendence, opulence, and splendour. But when they found that our Lord's kingdom was not of this world, they opposed all his claims as the true Messiah; stigmatized his character with the most reproachful epithets ; and perse
cuted him with unrelenting malice. “They · saw that his humility favoured not their pride, and that his meekness was not likely to raise him from the footstool of the Roman empire to the throne of the world.
But what gave, perhaps, the greatest offence, and for which the Saviour of men was most despised and calumniated, was his unwearied attention and kindness to those whom the pha. risees emphatically denominated sinners. These blind guides, leaders of the blind, were too haughty to acknowledge his divine mission: it did not quadrate with their erroneous sentiments and ambitious views. They were punctual in the discharge of various religious and moral duties that were to be seen of men-in paying · tithe of mint and anise and cummin, but omitted the weightier matters of the law, such as judgment, merey, and faith. It was, therefore, imagined that they were entitled to distinguishing marks of respectful attachmentthat, if Jesus were really the Messiah, he would certainly have testified in the most publick manner his approbation of their sanctimonious
appearance, and have recommended them as perfect models of piety and virtue. They were ready to obtrude on his silence the query of their ungrateful progenitors. “What profit is it that we have kept his ordinances ?-Wherefore have we fasted and thou takest no knowledge?' But when they found that neither their religious nor their political notions met with his concurrence, they were exceedingly enraged ; they aspersed the Holy One of Israel, and called the Messenger of peace, a deceiver a fomenter of sedition-a blasphemer of his God --and an enemy to Cæsar.
These, and similar remarks will, I trust, demonstrate that the love of God to man is absolutely sovereign and free; and that no worthiness is sought for in the object on whom its blessings are conferred. "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to pought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.' Were the glorious gospel revealed only, or principally, to the wise and the prudent, it would, as the excellent Charnock expresses it, be viewed as a discovery made to reason rather than to faith: and were divine grace communicated to the comparatively pure, it would be considered as a debt which the Almighty lay under some sort of obligation to discharge : but when both are bestowed on objects that are uncommonly depraved—that have nothing to plead in extenuation of their guilt--there is no room for glorying, but he that glorieth must glory in the Lord.
Let it, however, be remembered, that the love of God, freely exercised towards his elect, is never to be viewed as detached from their head and surety, the Lord Jesus Christ. In him they were chosen ; in his comeliness they are comely ; in his righteousness they are righteous ; in him shall they be blessed ; and in him shall they glory. In them personally considered dwelleth no good thing. But they were chosen in him to grace and holiness
here, and to glory hereafter. He, as the head, they as the members : they are one with him, and where he is, there shall they be also. As mediator of the covenant, he is the Father's elect, in whom he is well pleased: and the love of the divine Father to sinners, is abundantly manifest in his choosing them in him as their head-in making a covenant - with him on their behalf—in afterwards quickening them by his Spirit in the bestowment of grace, and in causir.g all things to work together for their good till he bring them to glory. • Herein is love ; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins-What shall we then say to these things ? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ! — Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? it is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us Who shall separate