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his dominion, and the objects of his care. His powerful arm protects us, and his bountiful hand supplies us; he heals our diseases, restrains our enemies, spreads our tables, and preserves us from numberless accidents at home and abroad; so that all may say, “ Who is a God like unto thee?” “ He is good to all,” says the Psalmist, “and his tender mercies are over all his works.” He gives us " rain and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." I proceed,
II. To show in what more special sense God in Christ is the Saviour of true believers; and this may refer either to the conduct of his providence, or the displays of his grace.
1. To the conduct of his providence. Many good things do others receive from the hand of God; but with these good things the saints have also his good will, which good will sweetens all their comforts, and sanctifies all their afflictions; turns their afflictions into blessings, and makes their blessings, blessings indeed! There is a general providence which attends all mankind, denoted in those words, “ The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Prov. xv. 3): but there is a particular providence that watches over God's people; and therefore it is said, “ He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous.” (Job xxxvi. 7.) And to this David seems to allude, when he puts up those requests,—“ Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people, that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice with the gladness of
nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance" (Psalm cvi. 4, 5); and in another place says, “ God, even our own God, shall bless us.” (Psalm lxvii. 6.) Common comforts come to the saints as a fruit of covenant-love, and God's severest chastisements are the effects of his paternal affection. Those things that are not good in themselves work for their good; and dispensations, grievous at the time, are salutary in their issue, for they produce, as the apostle tells 2. To the display of his grace. Others may meet with temporal deliverances, but believers shall be saved with an everlasting salvation, not only from the common calamities of life, but from the curse of the law, the reigning and condemning power of sin, the wrath of God, the tyranny of Satan, and the torments of hell. Christ is to his people a powerful and complete Saviour: He is able to save to the utmost, and he will save to the utmost,-to the utmost of their wants and desires, to the utmost extent of time, nay, through an endless eternity,-all those who put their trust in him. The greatness of his power is not diminished by its most glorious displays, nor the treasures of his grace exhausted by the most liberal distributions of it. He will accomplish the purposes of his heart, notwithstanding the most violent opposition; and carry on the good work that he has begun; through ten thousand difficulties and obstructions. He rescues his spiritual Israel out of Egypt, conducts them through the wilderness, and will bring them safe at last to the heavenly Canaan. None shall perish for whom he shed his precious blood; none be lost who have committed themselves to his care. Of all that the Father hath given him he will lose none, but raise them to a life of holiness here, and to a life of happiness at the last day. He will bring forth the headstone, as well as lay the foundation. He gives a right to salvation, and works a meetness for it; so that the whole church shall at length be presented to himself “ a glorious church, not having a spot or wrinkle, or any such thing."
III. I am to take notice of the superior excellency of this manifestation of the divine character to the former; and the three following things appear to be intimated by the manner in which the Apostle here expresses himself.
1. That the salvation of believers is more extensive. Other deliverances extend only to the body or outward estate, but this extends to the whole man, and involves both body and soul, but especially the latter. Hence, Christ is said to be the Shepherd and Bishop of souls; he purchased
salvation for them, and by his Spirit applies it to them. He teaches them clearly and powerfully, so that he is, in the most emphatical and delightful sense of the word, that
true witness who delivereth souls,” (Prov.xiv. 25.) As a Priest, he has purchased salvation; as a Prophet, he reveals it; and as a King, he constrains men to seek after and accept it. His concern about souls is variously expressed in the Book of Psalms: “ He saves the souls of the needy” (Psalm lxxii. 13); “preserveth the souls of his saints" (Psalm xcvii. 17) from sin and apostasy, despair in this world, and destruction in the next. Hence, David himself offers that earnest request, -"Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,” (Psalm xxxv. 3.) Every good man commits his soul to Christ, and he will faithfully keep the trust reposed in him.
2. As it is more extensive, so it is more important. What are all temporal deliverances compared with the salvation of an immortal soul? Hence it is called," so great salvation" (Heb. ii. 3.); brought about at a great expense, carried on through great difficulties, and making the persons interested in it truly great; assimilating them to the greatest of beings, and conducting them to a state of the greatest peace, joy, and happiness. It is of little moment whether we are rich or poor, honoured or despised; but to participate in this salvation is of the greatest consequence; for it includes in it a deliverance from the greatest sin and misery, and an advancement to the highest felicity. This will make us happy in any condition, and in no condition can we be truly happy without it.
3. It is not only more extensive and important, but also more durable. “My salvation,” says God, “shall be for ever," (Isa. li. 6.) It shall outlast heaven and earth; it is the fruit of an everlasting decree, founded upon an everlasting righteousness, and wrought out by one who is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” Again, “Israel shall be saved with an everlasting salvation.” “Ye shall not be As this salvation will infinitely exceed all our hopes, so it will be as permanent as our beings. There will be no end of the misery of the wicked, no end of the happiness of the saints. Their present possessions may be ravished from them by fraud or violence, but their future inheritance is secured from all hostile attempts; it is a city with foundations, a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Now, as Dr. Young observes,
“ A perpetuity of bliss is bliss ;"
eternity crowns and consummates felicity. Earthly pleasures are short, but the pleasures of God's right hand are for evermore; the joys of heaven, and torments of hell, are both everlasting.
This should lead us to inquire, Are we believers ? That question which Christ put to the man who had been born blind, I would put to each of you: “Dost thou believe on the Son of God ?" Your eternal salvation is involved in the decision of this question; for, “He that believeth, hath everlasting life;" hath the first-fruits and earnest of it: “he that believeth not, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” This is the great thing that will be inquired about at the last day; and, therefore, it is the great thing we should inquire about now. Finally, what reason have believers to admire and adore the discriminating grace of God! for He who is the Saviour of all men, is specially so of them that believe.
ON THE FAITHFULNESS OF THE DIVINE
1 THESSALONIANS V. 24.
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. “ Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” Under all our despondencies it is good to be looking unto God. We should not say, This enemy is too mighty, I cannot resist him; this duty is too difficult, I cannot perform it; this trial or affliction is too heavy, I cannot sustain it. We should not so much think what we cannot do, as what God can and will do. " Trust in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” This holy confidence the apostle would inspire in the Thessalonian believers, when he says, “ Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” Here we may notice, first, that concerning which the apostle expresses his assurance; and, second, the grounds of that assurance.
First, that concerning which the apostle expresses his assurance :-" Who also will do it.”
My Father worketh hitherto,” says Christ.' God is ever doing; and if he were not, we should be for ever undone. Now this
refer, I. To the blessings just before prayed for, which are two:(1.) Sanctification.
.66 The God of Peace,” says the apostle,“ sanctify you wholly.” " This God claims as