« AnteriorContinuar »
ty and perverseness of his rider, was, nevertheless, a fit instrument for reproving the madness of the prophet. At the same time that he was Balaam's instrument in yielding compliance with Balack's requisitions against the most High, he was an instrument, in the divine hand, of promoting a good, greater than the evil which had been intended. But it is not by being enabled to go beyond the faculties and powers of their nature, only, that creatures become instrumental in the execution of God's purposes, whether of justice or mercy. There was nothing extraordinary in the use of Ahab's chariot, by which he was exposed to the arrows of the enemy; nor in the use of those weapons of war, by which his death was executed ; and yet a great event was accomplished by them , to the glory of God, in the fulfilment of his word against that ungodly king. There was nothing very unusual in such use of money, as that, by which the thirty pieces of silver from the chief priests procured the death of the Son of God ; and yet what vast consequences, to the glory of God, are the result? How simple are the means, by which the most signal and astonishing events are continually taking place in our world ? an evidence that God governs by the instrumentality of creatures, even those without understanding and without life ; and that noth. ing is too insignificant, or trivial, to be useful in carrying into effect the sovereign counsels of his will. "What part is borne, in this great work, by creatures of an intelligent nature, will be a subject of future considerat ion. At present we shall only subjoin one or two brief remarks.
1. It may be reckoned irrational and criminal in us to desire the annihilation of any thing, which God has made, or to wish that it had never come into being. This instead of submitting to the government of God, and heartily cooperating with him, would be virtually rising up in opposition to his wisdom and authority, to turn him aside from the channel, in which he chooses to work. There is no just reason why we should be sorry, that such and such things should have a place in the world, though they may be productive of vast evils; because a wise and holy God has chosen them to be his instruments in the affairs of government, and without them he could not do right. Every evil, in the plan of his providence, is an eventual good. Upon this consideration every reasonable and consistent being will be reconciled to it.
2. If God has made all things to be instrumental of his glory, his example should admonish us against using any of his creatures as instruments of gratifying our lusts and corrupt inclinations. The wisdom of God appears in making all things operate to good; and if so, our wisdom cannot be consistent with our doing any thing with an evil intention, and with subordinating any thing to our sinful propensities. Accordingly the apostle says, "Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof: Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God."
God glorifies himself by means of the church.
ISAIAH xliy. 23.
Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth : break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein : for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.
^T is of infinite importance rightly to understand the dispensations and ways of the most High. And when they are viewed in a true light, they will excite an universal transport of joy in the intelligent observers of them. God's dealings with the church are worthy of very particular attention and inquiry. To know how, and for what purpose, he manages her concerns, is of use to direct us in placing such confidence in his providence, as it justly deserves. In a former discourse, we have contemplated the whole system of creatures, as in a state of complete subordination to the will of God; *s having been created for the sole purpose ef administering, in the hands of his power, to the glory of his own name, and, in this sense, as being instrumental of accomplishing the great end of divine government, Which is the honour and praise of the supreme Governor. As in the creation of things, the least equally with the greatest, God had no other end in view; so this must be his object in the whole course of his providence. As one of the particulars under this general statement, I am now proposing to consider the church, or God's redeemed people, as answering the same final end in the general scale, that all other things do, though not in the same way. If God created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent that his wisdom and grace might appear; then no creature, of whatever rank or description, can be considered as existing for another purpose. This reduces the whole body of creatures to the condition of mere instruments. It divests them of all originality, and places them in the hands of their Maker, as the axe is in the hand of him, who heweth with it. If any thing is produced by the agency of creatures, the proper way of representing the matter, is to say; that God wrought, and so brought about the effect, by their means. But though creatures are useful, only as they are instrumental of the good, which God has purposed in his eternal counsel, and brings to pass in his right-aous providence; yet their instrumentality