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me in a free and friendly address to them, on this solemn occasion. Brethren and Friends, Behold the man, whom you

have so unanimously chosen to take the pastoral care of your souls. Receive him as a messenger of the Lord of hosts, and seek the law at his mouth. Esteem him highly in love for his work's sake. Consider him as a minister as well as a man, and pay respect to the minister in the man. Cease not to pray for him, and to join with him in building up the Redeemer's kingdom. In this, and in this alone, you may reasonably desire him to be one with you; and in this, and in this alone, will he be willing to join with you, if he is a faithful servant of God. Never desire him to regard you more than God; and never become his enemies because he tells you the truth. This will be distressing to him, and destructive to yourselves. He cannot serve you any longer than he serves God. If you should be so unwise as to desire him to conform to your unreasonable wishes, and so successful as to bring him to a conformity, you will injure both him and yourselves. It appears from what has been said, however, that the people are extremely prone to corrupt their ministers ; and this affords ground to fear, that this people, who have been so remarkably unanimous in the choice of him who is now to be set over them in the Lord, may nevertheless become disposed to weaken his hands and discourage his heart in the service of their souls. Should you endeavor to do this, and succeed in it, how dreadful will be your situation when you come to see, at the last day, that you have grieved the heart and destroyed the influence of one, who desired, and endeavored to promote, your eternal good! But, on the other hand, what can afford you greater joy, than to be presented before the universe, as friends to God, and to them who were workers together with him in building up his kingdom? You and your pastor are both in danger. He is in danger from you, and you are in danger from him. The connection which may be this day formed between you, will be infinitely interesting to you all. We beseech you, brethren and friends, to take heed how you hear your minister, how you feel towards him, and how you treat him. He can do but very little without you. He needs your love, your prayers, and your assistance. He is called, like young Samuel, to bear the messages of God to you, in a day of great declension. And if it be his heart's desire and prayer to God, that you may be saved, let it be your heart's desire and prayer to God, that he may be both faithful and successful. And if you receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, you shall receive a prophet's reward. Amen.

SERMON IX.

PURPOSE OF REDEMPTION.

ORDINATION OF REV. JOSEPH EMERSON, TO THE PASTORAL CARE OF THE

THIRD CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN BEVERLY, SEPT. 21, 1803.

TO The intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ

Jesus our Lord. — Eps, iii, 10, 11.

The Jews were the seed of Abraham, to whom the promises of the Messiah were made; and from this circumstance they were led to imagine that salvation was confined to them, in distinction from all other nations. This was their prevailing opinion, both before and after the crucifixion of Christ. Nor were the apostles themselves, at first, altogether divested of this national prejudice. But Paul, the great apostle of the Gentiles, was early favored with more enlightened and enlarged views of the gospel. He knew that it comprised the whole counsel of God; that it was intended for the benefit of all nations, and that it would, in its final operation, give the brightest display of the divine attributes to all intelligent beings. This sublime idea of the gospel inspired him with gratitude to Christ, for giving him the peculiar privilege of unfolding the great scheme of salvation to all men, whether Jews or Gentiles : “ Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by VOL. I.

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Jesus Christ, to the intent, that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

These last words, in this connection, naturally lead us to inquire who are meant by the church; when God formed his purpose of redeeming the church ; and why he formed this gracious design.

I. Let us consider who are meant by the church.

Paul sometimes uses this appellation to denote a single society of christians; but he more commonly uses the term to denote the whole number of the elect, or all who shall finally be sanctified and saved. This portion of mankind he consid. ers as composing the church universal, which is a spiritual body, of which 'Christ is the spiritual head. To this purpose he speaks in the first chapter of this epistle. He says, God hath set Christ " at his own right hand in the heavenly places far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body.” In this comprehensive sense the apostle uses the term church in the text. He means to signify by it the whole church of the first born in heaven, or all who shall be set up, as monuments to display the riches of divine grace to the whole intelligent creation.

Let us next inquire,

II. When the Deity formed his purpose of redeeming the church from among men.

God was under no natural necessity of forming this or any other

purpose. His nature did not irresistibly constrain him either to create or to redeem the world. It depended solely upon his will, whether he should bring angels and men into existence; whether he should make them in his own moral image ; whether he should suffer any of them to fall into sin ; and whether, if any of them should fall into sin, he would save the whole or only a part of the guilty, through the sufferings and death of a Mediator. In a word, God was perfectly free and voluntary in forming the whole scheme of redemption. Hence it is called “his purpose," " his counsel," and "the good pleasure of his will." But still it is a question, when he formed this benevolent purpose, whether in time or eternity. The text tells us it was in eternity : “ According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All the elect are said to have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world." Christ is called “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” And St. John tells us, he “saw an angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth.” These are plain declarations that the gospel scheme of salvation was formed in eternity; which perfectly accords with every just idea of the divine character. God was self existent, independent, and absolutely perfect from eternity. He was infinitely able to form his whole plan of operation before he began to operate; and no good reason could possibly exist for his neglecting, a single moment, to fix all future events. Indeed, his own moral rectitude laid bim under moral obligation to form the glorious scheme of redemption from the early days of eternity. But here, perhaps, some may doubt whether it be proper to distinguish the divine purpose from the divine nature; or whether actual willing, choosing and determining may be ascribed to the Deity, because these exercises seem to imply some degree of deliberation and suspense. The answer is, though imperfect creatures often deliberate and suspend their judgment, before they choose or determine, yet God, who is absolutely perfect, could never have occasion for deliberation or suspense. As he possessed, from eternity, every divine perfection, so he had, from eternity, an intuitive view of all possible beings, objects and events; which enabled him to form the best possible scheme of things, as early as his own existence. We can as easily conceive of an eternal purpose, as of an eternal power, wisdom or goodness. We can as easily conceive of eternal motion as eternal rest. We can as easily conceive of God's determining from eternity, as of his existing from eternity. And if we only admit the truth of his existing from eternity, we must necessarily admit the truth of his decreeing from eternity to redeem the church through the atonement of Christ. Any oiher supposition must carry the idea of imperfection and mutability in Him who is without variableness or shadow of turning. The way is now prepared to inquire,

III. Why God was graciously pleased to devise and adopt, from eternity, the great scheme of man's redemption. To this inquiry the apostle gives a general answer in the text. He says, it was “to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God." Moved by infinite benevolence, the Deity determined to make himself known through the medium of his works; and, among all possible works, he saw the work of redemption to be the best adapted to answer this glorious and important purpose. He knew that his creatures could not see the natural and moral excellency of his nature, unless he actually displayed himself in his works. It was their imperfection, therefore, which rendered any exbibitions of his glory necessary. Could they have looked directly into his mind, as he can into theirs, there would have been no occasion for the creation of the heavens and the earth, or for the existence of natural or moral evil, or for the incarnation and sufferings of Christ, or for any of the visible scenes and retributions of eternity. All the ends of creation might have been completely answered, by the bare existence of rational, holy and immortal creatures, had such creatures been capable of seeing all the perfections of God, without the medium of his works. But though the imperfection of created beings was the general reason why God chose to act himself out before their eyes, yet it may be still farther inquired, why he chose to act himself out in the work of redemption. In answer to this, the following observations may perhaps afford some light and satisfaction.

1. God chose the work of redemption, because it was the only one in which he could display all his perfections before the minds of bis intelligent creaiures. He might have created different objects, and fixed different orders and series of events; but none of these could have unfolded his whole character. This will be evident, if we only consider the various modes of operation which he might have chosen and pursued.

He might have formed just such a material system as now exists. He might have formed angels and men holy and happy, and preserved them from sin and misery for ever. This is certainly a supposable case; because the same divine influence which first formed them in the divine image, could have preserved that image through every period of their existence. And had God treated angels and men in this manner, he would have displayed great goodness to the inhabitants of heaven and earth, and established a state of things almost infinitely different from what has actually taken place. But such a mode of divine operation would not have discovered either the justice, or grace of God; because perfectly innocent creatures could not have been proper objects of either vindictive justice, or pardoning mercy.

Again: God might have preserved both angels and men in a state of holiness and happiness for a certain season, and then subjected only a few individuals to endless sin and misery. This mode of conduct would have displayed divine benevolence to the holy and happy part of the moral system, and divine sovereignty and justice to the sinful and miserable part. But still, this order of ihings would have left forgiving grace entirely undiscovered.

Once more: We may suppose that God might have preserved angels and men in a holy and happy state, for ages and ages,

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