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the world into a scene of rebellion and misery. We can now indeed see that results spring from this procedure that are of the utmost importance to the understanding and vindication of the work of redemption itself, and serve to prepare the way for the measures of grace that are to follow through interminable ages. That man is truly such a being as the work of salvation assumes, is shown on a boundless scale; his greater readiness to reject and pervert the grace of God than to accept it; the inadequacy of secondary means to convert or restrain him; the facility with which he yields to temptation; the incorrigibleness with which he perseveres in sin; and the inextinguishable malice of Satan, whose obduracy no punishment can soften, whose thirst of evil no success in ruining immortal beings can satiate. But who, anterior to the commencement of this administration, could have deemed it would be chosen by the Son of God in preference to all others; that after having, by his sacrifice, rendered it compatible with justice to save the race, he should continue generation after generation to leave a vast proportion to perish; that instead of displaying his infinite power and delight to subdue his enemies to obedience, he should allow them to triumph over him; that he should leave his faithful people to be trampled down and slaughtered by apostate powers arrogating his rights and usurping his throne; and finally, that after having conquered the earth and converted it into a paradise of beauty, virtue, and bliss, and reigned over it in majesty through a vast circle of ages, he should again allow Satan to deface it with rebellion and death, and drag new millions down the abyss of hopeless ruin. These are measures which no human being, however exalted in intellect, could have deemed the most eligible. They are measures which no one, unless taught by the Spirit of inspiration, could have thought were even compatible with wisdom and benignity. They contradict the expectations of the church at the period when they were written, in place of according with them; and reason in every age, instead of being able to discover their necessity, has been baffled by them and confounded. The prediction of a procedure so opposite to all that we should naturally expect, and to the faith and hope of the church at the time of its promulgation, could have emanated from no one but the Omniscient himself, who formed and executes the purposes which are here made known.
VII. The thoughts and sentiments ascribed to the redeemed and angelic hosts, are marked by a truth, a wisdom, and grandeur, immeasurably distant from the imperfect conceptions of men.
Thus they are exhibited as aware of the right of God to the homage of his creatures, from his self-existence, eternity, omnipotence, and work as creator; and as worshipping him on that ground. “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come. Thou the Lord our God art worthy to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things. For thy will they were, and were created.” This recognition and acknowledgment of that foundation of his rights is highly beautiful, as it is a response to the proclamation of his attributes and agency, addressed by him to the apostle and the churches, in which he exhibited them as the ground of his title and claim to their homage. It is eminently becoming those glorious beings, as it denotes an elevation immeasurably above the narrow and erroneous views of men, who have displayed in every age a singular inadvertence of these rights, and in vast multitudes, even amidst the light of revelation, entertained and taught the most adverse and unworthy theories; some openly denying that he has any merit of homage because of his deity and work as creator, and maintaining that the only worship to which he is entitled, is that of gratitude ; and that his claim therefore has its foundation and its measure in the happiness which he bestows; and others asserting that his deity and agency as creator, so far from investing him with rights over his creatures, place him under obligation to them, and give them a title to claim from him the gift of the utmost happiness of which their natures render them capable ;-a scheme which, degrading God to the condition of a subject, and exalting creatures to the throne, exhibits a government over them as impossible. And errors scarcely less absurd and portentous lie couched in all the great theories of obligation ;-self-love, utility, benevolence, will, custom, -which have enjoyed through ages, and still enjoy a principal currency. But those august intelligences, many of whom have lived in his presence through innumerable years, whose thoughts are intermixed with no errors, and overclouded by no uncertainty, and who have risen to lofty views of his infinite greatness, and the significance of his relations, see in the clearest light, and feel with the profoundest sensibility, his title to reign because of his deity and work as creator and upholder, and yield him their homage for the reasons for which he claims it.
They appear in majestic beauty also in their celebration of the rectitude, wisdom, and benevolence of his government. The raptured sense which they display of the grandeur of those perfections, bespeaks a truth and largeness of understanding and sanctity of affection eminently befitting beings exalted to stations
in his presence, given to survey the vast spectacle of his sway over the worlds, and formed to find a happiness great in proportion to the strength of their nature in the contemplation and exercise of wisdom and virtue.
But they ascend to a still sublimer height in their ascriptions of rectitude and wisdom to him in the infliction of his wrath, and summons of the universe to joy and thanksgiving at the destruction of his enemies. What a strength of understanding such a chant of acquiescence in the eternal overthrow of innumerable myriads bespeaks! What an energy of rectitude; what a sense of the rights of God; what a comprehension of his ways; what views of the guilt of incorrigible sinners, and the necessity that they should be treated according to their deserts ! What a foresight of the influence of that great measure on the obedient universe! The ascription to them of views and affections thus suiting their exalted stations, is the work manifestly of a higher intelligence than that of man, and can have proceeded from none but the all-comprehensive wisdom of the revealing Spirit.
VIII. There is a vastness and beauty in the designs foreshown in the Apocalypse, that not only transcends human contrivance, but which none of its numerous students, with all the aids which a large accomplishment furnishes, seem to have comprehended.
There is a greatness and wisdom of which none but the Infinite is capable, in the purpose of such an administration as that which has already been exercised through eighteen hundred years, in which men are still allowed to sin and perish on a vast scale, and a foundation thereby laid by the verification it presents of the grounds on which the work of redemption proceeds, for a safe and boundless exercise of power and grace towards the race through the innumerable ages that are to follow. Who but he whose intelligence is all-comprehensive, whose rectitude and benignity are equal to his omnipotence, and who builds to meet for eternity the necessities of a boundless kingdom, could have discerned the expediency, and had strength of wisdom to choose such a procedure. Men so far from having risen by their unassisted faculties to the perception of such a reason for that great measure, or learned it from the Scriptures, have resorted for solutions to the most distant and preposterous conjectures to a denial on the one hand of power to God to exert an effectual influence on the minds of creatures; to an ascription to him on the other, of a preference that they should sin and perish rather than obey.
How majestic is the purpose to raise the redeemed from the
imperfection of our present nature, to a splendor of form, and strength and elevation of faculties, resembling the glorified humanity of the Redeemer, and fitting them to dwell in his
presence and fulfil illustrious offices in his empire! How suitable to his perfections, and adapted to glorify him, the design to put an end at length to the reign of sin and misery on earth; to banish from it the disorders to which revolt has given birth, and convert it again into a paradise of beauty, rectitude, and bliss, that its adaptation to the wants of such a race as are made its tenants may be seen, and man's capability be shown, of the exalted wisdom, virtue, and happiness to which he was originally called !
What effulgent characters of wisdom mark the purpose of the Redeemer, by descending in visible majesty to the earth, and reigning over it through immeasurable periods, to exalt it into an intimacy and grandeur of relation to himself, proportional to the greatness of the measure by which he opened the way for its salvation! How consonant to the boundlessness of his understanding and benevolence, the design to continue the redemption of generation after generation without end, and thus furnish through eternal years a perpetually accumulating demonstration, how adequate to justify his interposition, the great objects are for which he stooped to incarnation and death! And how beautiful the grace, how sublime the wisdom of the purpose, to give his redeemed, raised in glory from the grave, to reside with him on the earth, fulfil majestic offices of love toward the unglorified church, and display in that manner the contrast of their rectitude, wisdom, and benevolence, to the fraud and malignity of Satan and his hosts! How immeasurably this vastness transcends the nothingness of men! How suitable to the boundless strength of his intellect, and infinite fervor of his benignity! How adapted to the instruction of the countless multitudes of moral creatures, whom he is to supply with materials of thought, and lead on from height to height in wisdom, virtue, and bliss, throughout the round of everlasting years!
IX. The agents and events foreshown in those predictions of the Apocalypse which have already been fulfilled, are such as none but the Omniscient could have foreseen.
To the foresight indeed of a single event, and especially a distant one in the agency of creatures, no being is adequate but the All-seeing. The foreknowledge of such an event, includes a knowledge also of the nature of the agent who is to exert it, the certainty of his existence, the conditions in which he is to act, the influences that are to prompt him, the object of the action,
its effects, and thence necessarily of the whole train of causes and effects, of agents and influences, that are to intervene from the period of the foreknowledge, to the occurrence of the event foreseen; and especially of the purpose of God to give existence to the physical causes and voluntary agents, and to allow the influences that belong to that train. But such a knowledge none manifestly but God himself can enjoy. The number of agents, causes, acts and effects that enter into such a succession, when the event is distant, must be such in multitude and complexity, as no created intellect, were the series revealed, could possibly grasp. How much more must the infinite complexity transcend the narrow limits of the human intellect, when the agents, actions and events foreshown are innumerable ; and not only of our race, but of other orders of beings ;—disembodied spirits, myriads of holy angels, the legions of the fallen ; and through a vast succession of ages; and finally when the agencies and events foretold are such as had never been beheld, and as no experience or observation could render probable; as are many of the actors and events exhibited in the Apocalypse, that have beyond all rational disputation appeared on the theatre of the world, and are still accomplishing the agency and exerting the influences foreshown of them.
Such pre-eminently is the disruption of the western Roman empire into ten kingdoms, the subsequent rise among them of an eleventh, their cotemporaneous subsistence thence through a long tract of ages, and union and resemblance in such a degree, that notwithstanding their individuality and difference of language, manners, and policy, they are justly considered as still one empire, and their rulers represented by a single symbol. To one reasoning from the history of preceding empires, it might indeed have seemed probable that the Roman would at no distant period undergo a division into different kingdoms; but nothing in the nature of its territory or population could suggest ten, any more than
any other as the number into which it was to be divided ; nor could any thing in the history of earlier nations, suggest the possibility that such a number of cotemporaneous states, differing in language, laws, pursuits, and policy, and almost perpetually warring on each other, could yet so resemble each other in religion especially, and so unite in a common relation to an eleventh, as in an emphatic sense to constitute them one, and render it requisite to represent those who rule them by a single symbol. No such union or resemblance was ever seen in the ancient cotemporary governments.