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shaking of the corn, and wind in sufficient nations, as he is of the elements. He reigns quantity to winnow it, and make a prospe- in the mind of man, and can turn its purrous ingathering. Should it be the purpose poses in any way that suits his purposes. of God to give a plentiful harvest to us next He made Paul speak. He made the centuyear, it will certainly happen, and yet it rion listen and be impressed by it. He may be no less true, that unless such wea- made the soldiers obey. He made the saither come, we shall have no such plentiful lors exert themselves. The conditional asharvest. God who appoints the end, orders sertion of the 31st verse was true; but he and presides over the whole series of means made the assertion serve the purpose for which lead to it. These visible causes are which it was uttered. He overruled the all in his hand. They are the instruments condition, and brought about the fulfilment of his power. The elements are his, and he of the absolute prophecy in the 22d verse. can either restrain their violence, or let The whole of this process was as comthem loose in fury upon the world.
pletely overruled by him as any other proNow, look upon human beings as the in- cess in nature-and in virtue too of the very struments of his pleasure, and you have an samne power by which he can cause the equally complete explanation of the passage wind of heaven to fly loose upon the world, before us. You will be made to understand make the rain descend, the corn ripen intó how it is true, that it was God's absolute harvest, and all the blessings of plenty sit in purpose that the men of the vessel should profusion over a happy and a favoured land.
saved, and how it is equally true, that There is no inconsistency, then, between ress the sailors abode in the ship, they these verses, God says in one of them, by the could not be saved. Why the same God mouth of Paul, that these men were certainly who determined the end. ve certain effi- to be saved. And Panl says in the other cacy to the means which he himself had of these verses, that unless the centurion instituted and set agoing for the accomplish- and soldiers were to do so and so, they ment of the end. It does not at all affect should not be saved. In one of the verses, the certainty of God's influence over these it is made to be the certain and unfailing means, that in addition to wind, and water, | appointment of God. In the other, it is and material elements, there were also hu- made to depend on the centurion. There man beings employed as ir struments for is no difficulty in all this, if you would just carrying his purpose into execution.* It is consider, that God, who made the end cer- . expressly said of God, not only that he still- tain, made the means certain also. It is eth the waves of the sea, but that he also true, that the end was certainly to happen, stilleth the tumults of the people, and that and it is as true that the end would not he can turn the heart of man as the rivers happen without the means—but God seof water, turning it whithersoever he will. I cured the happening of both, and so gives He appoints the end, and it does not at all sureness and consistency to the passage belessen the sure and absolute nature of the fore us. . appointment, that he brings it about by a} Now, it is worth while to attend here long succession of means, provided that it both to the conduct of Paul who gave the is his power which gives effect to every directions, and to the conduct of the centustep in the progress and operation of these rion who obeyed them. Paul, who gave ineans. Now, in the case before us, there the directions, knew, in virtue of the revewas just such a progress as we pointed out lation that was made to him some time bein the case of a favourable harvest. He had fore, that the men were certainly to be determined, that all the men of the vessel saved, and yet this does not prevent him should be saved; but agreeably to the me- from urging them to the practical adoption thod of his administration in other cases, of means for saving themselves. He knew he brought it about by the operation of in- that their being saved was a thing predestistruments. He did not save them against nated, and as sure as the decree of heaven the use of instruments, but he did it by the could make it; but he must likewise have use of instruments. The instruments he known, that while it was God's counsel employed were men. Paul speaking to the they should be saved, it was also God's centurion--the centurion ordering the sol- will that they should be saved by the exerdiers to cut the ropes, and let the boat away tions of the sailors--that they were the infrom the vessel-the sailors obliged to work struments he made choice of that this was for their own safety-these were the instru- the way in which he wished it to be brought ments of God, and he had as much com- about; and Paul had too high a reverence mand over them as of any others he has for the will of God, to decline the use of created. He brought about the saving of those practical expedients, which formed the men by means of those instruments, as the likeliest way of carrying this will into certainly as he brings about a good harvest effect. It is a very striking circumstance, by the instrument of favourable weather, that the same Paul who knew absolutely and congenial scasons. He is as much and unequivocally that the men were to be master of the human heart, and its determi- saved, could also say, and say with truth,
that unless the sailors were detained in the fluence over the concerns of practical godship, they should not be saved. Both were liness. true, and both were actually brought about. We shall rejoice in the first instance, if The thing was done by the appointment of the explanation we have now given, have God, and it was also done by a voluntary the effect of clearing away any of those act on the part of the centurion and his sol- perplexities which throw a darkening cloud diers. Paul knew of the appointment, but over the absolute and universal sovereignty he did not feel himself exempted by this of God. We are ready enough to concede knowledge, from the work of practically to the Supreme Being the administration of influencing the will of the people who were the material world, and to put into his hand around him; and the way in which he got all the force of its mighty elements. But them to act, was by bringing the urgency let us carry the commanding influence of of a prevailing argument to bear upon them. Deity into the higher world of moral and He told them that their lives depended upon intelligent beings. Let us not erect the it. God put it into Paul's heart to make use will of the creature into an independent of the argument, and he gave it that in- principle. Let us not conceive that the
fluence over the hearts of those to whom it agency of man can bring about one single - was addressed, that by the instrumentality iota of deviation from the plans and the
of men, his purpose, conceived from eter- purposes of God; or that he can be thwartnity, and revealed beforehand to the Apos- ed and compelled to vary in a single case tle, was carried forward to its accomplish- by the movement of any of those subordiment.
nate beings whom he himself has created. And again, as the knowledge that they There may be a diversity of operations, but were to be saved, did not prevent Paul from it is God who worketh all in all. Look at giving directions to the centurion and sol- the resolute and independent man, and you diers for saving themselves, neither did it there see the purposes of the human mind prevent them from a practical obedience to entered upon with decision, and followed these directions. It does not appear whether up by vigorous and successful exertion. they actually, at this time, believed Paul to But these only make up one diversity of be a messenger of God--though it is likely, God's operations. The will of man, active, from the previous history of the voyage, and spontaneous, and fluctuating as it apthat they did. If they did not, then they pears to be, is an instrument in his handacted as the great majority of men do, they and he turns it at his pleasure--and he acted as unconscious instruments for the brings other instruments to act upon it. execution of the divine purposes. But if I and he plies it with all its excitements and they did believe Paul to be a prophet, it is he measures the force and proportion of highly striking to observe, that the know- each of them and every step of every inledge they had gotten from his mouth of dividual receives as determinate a character their really and absolutely escaping with from the hand of God, as every mile of a their lives, did not slacken their utmost de- planet's orbit, or every gust of wind, of gree of activity in the business of working every wave of the sea, or every particle of for the preservation of their lives, at a bid flying dust, or every rivulet of flowing ding from the mouth of the same prophet. water. This power of God knows 10 ex. He is a prophet from God-and whatever ceptions. It is absolute and unlimited, and he says must be true. He tells us that we while it embraces the vast, it carries its reare to escape with our lives-let us believe sistless influence to all the minute and unthis and rejoice in it. But he also tells us, noticed diversities of existence. It reigns that unless we do certain things, we shall and operates through all the secrecies of not escape with our lives-let us believe the inner man. It gives birth to every purthis also, and do these things. A fine ex-pose. It gives impulse to every desire. I ample, on the one hand, of their faithful gives shape and colour to every conception, dependence on his declarations, and, on the It wields an entire ascendency over every other, of their practical obedience to his re, attribute of the mind; and the will, and the quirements. If one were to judge by the fancy, and the understanding, with all the prosperous result of the whole business, countless variety of their hidden and fuglthe way in which the centurion and sol- | tive operations are submitted to it. It diers were affected by the different revela- gives movement and direction throughevery tions of Paul, was the very way which one point in the line of our pilgrimage. satisfied God-for it was rewarded with At no one moment of time does it abandon success, and issued both in the fulfilment of us. It follows us to the hour of death, and his decree, and the completion of their de- it carries us to our place and our everlasting liverance.
destiny in the region beyond it. It is true, II. We now come to the second thing that no one gets to heaven, but he, who by proposed, which was to evince the appli- | holiness, is meet for it. But the same power cation of the passage to us of the present which carries us there, works in us the day-and how far it should carry an in- I meetness. And if we are conformed to the
image of the Saviour, it is by the energy of Paul urging upon the people of the ship of the same predestinating God, whose good the immediate adoption of the only way by pleasure it is to give unto us the kingdom which their lives could be saved, and the prepared for us before the foundation of situation of an ordinary minister urging it the world.
upon the people of his church, to take to Thus it is that some are elected to ever-that way of faith and repentance, by which lasting life. This is an obvious doctrine alone they can save their souls from the of Scripture. The Bible brings it forward, wrath that is now abiding on them. Paul and it is not for us, the interpreters of the did know that the people were certain]y to Bible, to keep it back from you. God escape with their lives, and that did not could, if it pleased him, read out, at this prevent him from pressing upon them the moment, the names of those in this congre- measures which they ought to adopt for gation, who are ordained to eternal life, and their preservation. Even, then, though a are written in his book. In reference to minister did know those of his people their deliverance from shipwreck, he en- whose names are written in the book of abled Paul to say of the whole ship's com- life, that ought not to hinder him from pany, that they were to be saved. In refer- pressing it upon them to lay hold of eterence to your deliverance from wrath and nal life-to lay up their treasure in heaven from punishment, he could reveal to us the-to labour for the meat that endureth-to names of the elect among you, and enable follow after that holiness, without which us to say of them that they are certainly to no man shall see the Lord--to be strong in be saved.
the faith, and such a faith too as availeth, But again, the same God who ordains the even faith which worketh by love, and of end, ordains also the means which go be- which we may say, even those whom we . fore it. In virtue of the end being ordained assuredly know to be the chosen heirs of and made known to him, Paul could say immortality, that unless this faith abideth that all the men's lives were to be saved. in them, they shall not be saved. But it so And in virtue of the means being ordained happens, that we do not know who are, and made known to him, he could also say, and who are not, the children of election. that unless the sailors abode in the ship, | This is a secret thing belonging to God, they should not be saved. In the same and which is not imparted to us; still it manner, if the ordained end were made would be our part to say to those of whose known to us, we could, perhaps, say of final salvation we were assured, believe the some individual among you, that you are Gospel, or you shall not be saved-repent, certainly to be saved. And if the ordained or you shall not be saved-purify yourselves, means were made known to us, we could even as God is pure, or you shall not be say, that unless you are rendered meet for saved. But we are not in possession of the the inheritance of the saints in light, you secret-and how much more then does it shall not be saved. Now, the ordination of lie upon us to ply with earnestness the fears the end, God has not been pleased to reveal and the consciences of our hearers, by those to us. He has not told us who among you revealed things which God hath becn pleasare to be saved, as he told Paul of the de- ed to make known to us? What! if Paul, liverance of his ship's company. This is though assured by an angel from heaven one of the secret things which belong to of the final deliverance of this ship's comhim, and we dare not meddle with it. But pany, still persists in telling them, that if he has told us about the ordained means, they leave certain things undone, their deand we know, through the medium of the liverance will be impossible-shall we, utBible, that unless you do such and such terly in the dark about the final state of a things, you shall not be saved. This is one single hearer we are addressing, let down of the revealed things which belong to us, for a single instant the practical urgency and with as great truth and practical ur- of the New Testament? gency as Paul made use of, when he said. The predestination of God respecting the to the centurion and soldiers, that unless final escape of Paul and his fellow-travelthese men abide in the ship ye shall not be lers from shipwreck, though made known saved, do we say to one and to all of you, to the Apostle, did not betray him into the unless ye repent ye shall not be saved-un- indolence which is ascribed, and falsely less ye do works meet for repentance, ye ascribed, to the belief of this doctrine ;'nor shall not be saved-unless ye believe the did it restrain him from spiriting on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, ye shall people to the most strenuous and fatiguing not be saved--unless ye are born again, ye exertions. And shall we, who only know shall not be saved-unless the deeds done in general that God does predestinate, but in your body be good deeds, and ye bring cannot carry it home with assurance to a forth those fruits of righteousness which single individual, convert this doctrine into are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory a plea of indolence and security ? Even of God, ye shall not be saved.
should we see the mark of God upon their Mark the difference between the situation foreheads, it would be our duty to labour
them with the necessity of doing those ness upon the business of doing. We can things which, if left undone, will exclude give you no assurance of its being the defrom the kingdom of God. But, we make cree of God, that any of you shall be saved. no such pretensions. We see no mark upon But we can give you the assurance, that any of your foreheads. We possess no you will be saved, if you do such and such more than the Bible, and access through things. Surely, if the people whom Paul the Mediator to him, who, by his Spirit, can addressed, did not feel themselves exemptopen our understandings to understand it.ed by their knowledge of God's decree, The revealed things which we find there from practically entering upon those meabelong to us, and we press them upon you sures which carried forward its accom
"Unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise plishment, you, who have no such knowperish." "If ye believe not in the Son of ledge, must feel doubly impelled by the unGod, the wrath of God abideth on you." certainty which hangs over you, to the work "Be not deceived, neither covetous, nor of making your calling and your election thieves, nor extortioners, nor drunkards, sure. You know in general, that predesshall inherit the kingdom of God.” “ He tination is a doctrine of the Bible, but there who forsaketh not all, shall not be a disci- is not one of you who can say of himself, ple of Christ.” “The fearful, and the un- that God has made known his decrees to believing, and the abominable, and all liars me, and given me directly to understand, shall have their part in the lake which burn- that I am the object of a blessed predestieth with fire and brimstone." These are nation. This is one point of which you plain declarations, and apart from the doc- know nothing; but there is another point trine of predestination altogether, they of which you know something—and that is, ought, and if they are believed and listened if I believe, if I repent, if I be made like to, they will have a practical influence upon unto Christ, if I obtain the Holy Spirit to you. We call upon you not to resist this work in me a conformity to his image--and influence, but to cherish it. If any of you I am told, that I shall obtain it if I ask itare the children of election, it is by the then by this I become an heir of life, and right influence of revealed things upon your the decree of which I know nothing at the understandings and your consciences, that outset of my concern about salvation, will this secret thing will be brought to pass. become more and more apparent to me as Paul said as much to the centurion and the I advance in a meetness for heaven, and soldiers, as that if you do the things, I call will, at length, become fully, and finally, upon you to do, you will certainly be saved. I and conclusively made known by its acThey did what he bade them, and the de- complishment. "I may suffer my curiosity cree of God respecting their deliverance to expatiate on the question, “ Am I, or am from shipwreck, a decree which Paul had I not, of the election of God ?" But my the previous knowledge of, was accom- wisdom tells me that this is not the busiplished. We also feel ourselves warranted ness on hand. It is not the matter which to say to one and to all of you, "Believe I am called on to do with at present. After in the Lord Jesus Christ, and ye shall be Paul said to his companions, that it was saved.” . “Repent and be converted, and quite indispensable to their safety that the your sins shall be forgiven you.” Return sailors should be kept in the vessel, what unto God, and he will be reconciled. If did the centurion and his men do? Did you do as we bid you, God's decree re- they fall a speculating about the decrees? specting your deliverance from hell, a de- Did they hug themselves in the confidence, cree which we have not the previous know-Ithat as their safety was a point sure and ledge of, will be made known by its accom- determined upon, they need to take no plishment.
trouble at all in the concern? 0 no! No Again, we call upon you, our hearers, to sooner did Paul give the word, than they compare your situation with that of the acted upon it. They gave themselves up centurion and the soldiers. They were with all the promptitude of men whose told by a prophet that they were to be lives were at stake, to the business on hand. saved, and when that prophet told them They cut the ropes—they let go the boatwhat they were to do for the purpose of they kept in the sailors--and from the very saving themselves, they obeyed him. They first moment of Paul's address to them on did not say, “O it is all predestinated, and the subject, all was bustling, and strenuous, we may give up our anxieties and do no- and unremitting activity; till, by the unthing." They were just as strenuous and wearied perseverance of those living and active, as if there had been no predestina- operative instruments, the decree of God tion in the matter. Paul's previous assur- was accomplished. Now, they were much rance, that all was to end well, had no effect better acquainted with the decree which in lulling them to indolence. It did end respected them, than you are with the well. not however without their exertions, decree respecting you. They had the ben but by their exertions. How much more forehand knowledge of it, and will you be does it lie upon you to enter with earnest- less active, or less strenuous, than they?
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Some will spend their time in inquiries any addition. It is not in the power of the about the number of the saved, when they eléct to make it surer to God- for all futurity ought to be striving for themselves, that is submitted to his all-seeing eye, and his they might obtain an entrance into the strait absolute knowledge stands in need of no gate; and some will waste those precious confirmation. But there is such a thing as moments in speculating about the secrets of the elect being ignorant for a time of their the book of life, which they should fill up own election, and their being made sure of by supporting themselves, and making pro- it in the progress of evidence and discovery. gress through the narrowness of the way And therefore it is that they are called to that leads to it. The plain business we lay make their election sure to themselves, or upon you, is to put away from you the evil to make themselves sure of their election. of your doings—to submit yourselves to And how is this to be done? Not by readChrist as he is offered to you—to fly to hising it in the book of God's decrees--not by atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of your obtaining from him any direct information offences--to place yourselves under the about his counsels-not by conferring with guidance of his word, and a dependence on prophet or angel, gifted with the revelation the influences of his Spirit- to live no longer of hidden things. But the same God who to yourselves, but to him-and to fill up elects some unto everlasting life, and keeps your weeks and your days with those fruits back from them all direct information about of righteousness, by which God is glorified. it, tells them that he who believeth, and he We stand here by the decree of heaven, and who repenteth, and he who obeyeth the it is by the same decree that you are now Gospel, shall obtain everlasting life. We sitting round and listening to us. We feel shall never in this world have an immediate the importance of the situation we occupy; communication from him, whether we are and though we believe in the sovereignty of the elect or not-but let us believe-let us of God, and the unfailingness of all his ap-repent-let us obey the Saviour, and from pointments, this, instead of restraining, im- the first moment of our setting ourselves to pels us to bring the message of the Gospel, these things in good earnest, we may conwith all the practical urgency of its invita-ceive the hope of a place among the heirs tions, and its warnings, to bear upon you. of immortality. In the progress and success We feel, with all our belief in predestina-l of our endeavours, this hope may advance tion, that our business is not to forbear this and grow brighter within us. As we grow urgency, but to ply you with it most anxi- in the exercises of faith and obedience, the ously, and earnestly, and unceasingly; and light of a cheering manifestation is more you should feel, with the same belief in your sensibly felt, and our hope ripens into asmind, that your business is not to resist this surance. “Hereby do we know that we urgency, but to be guided by its impulse. know him, by our keeping his commandWho knows but we may be the humble in- ments," is an evidence which every year strument, and you the undeserved subjects becomes clearer and more encouraging; and of some high and heavenly ordination? The thus, by a well-sustained perseverance in cutting of the ropes was the turning point the exercises of the Christian life, do we
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