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Adam, Abel, Cain, Enoch, Lamech and Noah, be. fore the flood ; and with Abraham and his family, with Lot, Melchisedec, Abimelec, Job and his friends, and many others, in the ages soon after the flood. The revelations made to particular persons were by them communicated to their contemporaries, and transmitted to their descendants. After the term of human life was so contracted, that reve. lation could not safely be trusted to a traditionary conveyance, God ordered, that it should be committed to writing. The written revelation, from age to age, received enlargements, until it was completed by the gospel. And it is owing to the increduli. ty and stupidity of mankind, that revelation has not, in every age, more generally prevailed.
The holy scriptures, which have come to us, are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; and are able to make us wise to salvation, and to furnish us unto every good work. They contain the substance of all the special and particular revelations, which God has ever made to any of the human race. From them we learn what is most useful and important to us, and what most nearly and immediately concerns us. That which God has been most careful to teach us, we should be most solicitous to understand, and zeal. ous to practice. We do not find, that God has ever given men a revelation to instruct them in husbandry, manufactures, mechanics, navigation, astronomy, and the arts of life. The knowledge of things relating to this world he has left them to acquire by their own sagacity, by repeated experiments and by mutual communication. Hence the progress of arts has been very slow.
Many ages past away before the use of letters was known; and many more before the art of printing tras introduced. Eyen agriculture, which is the
most necessary of all occupations, and one on which human life most immediately depends has advanced by moderate steps, and is still in a state of imperfection.
Things which relate merely to this life, have never been the subjects of divine revelation ; but have been left wholly to human invention and experience. Revelation embraces greater objects—things which pertain to life and godliness; to glory and virtue ; to our preparation for, and enjoyment of a state of eter. nal happiness in a world at present unseen. this an evidence of God's merciful regard to our highest interest ?-He has not left the concerns of the future, as he has those of the present life, to be discovered by our sagacity and industry ; but has instructed us in them by a special revelation made solely for that purpose.
Ve see which of these God has judged to be our more weighty concerns. His judgment is according to truth.
It appears, then, that while we attend to the things of this world in preference to those of the future, we oppose the designs of God's goodness, and invert the order which he has settled. " Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and the things of the present life will be added.”
2. God's care for our eternal happiness may be concluded from his giving his own Son a sacrifice for us, that we might live through him.
The sufferings of Jesus Christ for our redemption, are often adduced in scripture, as a proof, not only of God's general goodness, but also of his compassionate concern for the salvation of our fallen
“ In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love ; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation
for our sins.” Hence the sacred writers draw the strongest arguments to relieve the anxiety, and support the hopes of sinners, awakened to sensible convictions of their awful guilt. To sinners pricked in their heart, and inquiring what they must do, Peter says, “Repent and be baptized, in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins, for the promise is to you.” “When ye were without strength,” says Saint Paul to the Romans, " in due time Christ died for the ungodly. God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, then, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son ; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And we joy in God through Jesus Christ by whom we have received the reconcilement."
Can any thing more clearly demonstrate, and more gloriously display God's abundant mercy to sinners, and the forward motions of his grace to pardon and save them, than such a dispensation as we are under ? Would he have ransomed a fallen race at so great a price, as the blood of Jesus? Would he have adopted so unusual-so singular a measure, as to send his holy and divine Son into the world, in the likeness of our sinful flesh, and subject him to all the indignities of a death on the cross--would he have made this unoffending person a sin offering for us, and appointed him to bear our guilt in his own body, if he had not regarded human happiness, and been mercifully inclined to pardon the penitent.
We know of no other cause, in which so high a character has been employed for mankind. Moses was sent to bring the Hebrews out of Egypt; and mighty works was he enabled, on that occasion, to perform. Angels were sent to rescue Lot from the Vol. IV.
flames of Sodom ; and they not only warned him of the impending danger, but, lest he should too long delay, they laid hold on him and his family, conducted them out of the city, and bade them escape for their lives. But for the salvation of sinners he has sent one greater than Moses-greater than angels—one whom all the angels of God worship. Surely, then, he would not that they should perish, but that they should come to repentance.
His sending Moses into Egypt, and enduing him with such extraordinary powers, was an evidence of his merciful design to deliver the Jews from their bondage. His sending his angels to Sodom was an evidence of his favorable regard to Lot and his family. But we have higher and stronger evidence of his merciful concern for our guilty race.
“ He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him
for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?”
In the case of the Jews in Egypt, their own consent and concurrence were necessary to their deliv.
Moses wrought miracles to convince them, that his mission was divine, and that its immediate object was their emancipation. He, at the same time, demanded their acceptance of, and compliance with the purpose on which he came to them. They could not be saved from slavery, unless they would themselves renounce it.
So it was in the case of Lot's family. The angels gave them warning of the destruction which was coming on their city ; but those only could be sav. ed, who, regarding the admonition, left the city and fled to the appointed mountain. And so it is also in the case of sinners. Salvation is purchased by the Redeemer's blood, and offered in a gracious manner, and without distinction. But those only will be benefited by it, who penitently and thank
fully accept it. Their guilt exposes them to the wrath to come ; there is a hope set before them ; they must flee for refuge, and lay hold on this hope.
The common blessings of providence are not be. stowed without our industry. The miracles which Jesus wrought for the relief of the distressed, were usually in consequence of their earnest application, or of their compliance with some required condition. The plan of God's moral government demands, that his rational creatures own their dependence, submit to his authority and seek his favor. It is presumption then to imagine, that, because God is merciful to us, and Jesus has died for us, salvation is ours absolutely and unconditionally. This is to make the plan of the gospel inconsistent with every other known part of God's government.
3. The various means which God uses to bring sinners to repentance, and prepare them for happiness, farther demonstrate his goodness and mercy toward them.
When we see one use means with reference to a particular end, we conclude, that he has the accom. plishment of the end at heart; and the more various and expensive the means, the stronger is the conclusion. If we may thus reason with respect to men, the reasoning is of greater force, as it respects the Deity, all whose works are done in perfect wisdom. Consider now the measures which God has
applied to bring guilty creatures to a compliance with the terms of their own happiness. He has placed before them every motive adapted to operate on the human mind. The awful consequences of a sinful and impenitent life, on the one hand ; and, on the other, the glorious rewards designed for the penitent and believing, are exhibited to their view. Their hopes and fears, their desire of happiness, and relue