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before to be done, Acts iv. 27, 28. These truths should be always in our minds, for there never was a time when we had more need to meditate on them. The distresses of our brechren seem to be past remedy. To incorporate our felicity with that of a church, a considerable part of which hatlı been so long bathed in tcars, seems as irrational as the conduct of Jeremiah, who just before the desolation of judea, purchased an estate in that country, with the money which he wanted to alleviate his captivity in Babylon. Yet, O Lord God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, is there any thing too hard for thee? Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power, and by thy siretched out arm. Thou art the great, the mighty God, the Lord of hosts is thy name.; great in counsel, and mighty in work.
3. Finally, God turneth the victories of Saran to tie ruin of his empire. Here fix your attention upon the work of redemption, for the perfections of God, which we.celebrate to-day, are more illustriously displayed in it than in any other of the Creator's wonders. Is it, if I may be allowed to express myself so, the utmost effort of the concurrence of the greatness of his counsels with the abundance of his power. I resume this subject, not for the sake of filling up my plan, but because my text cannot be well explained with, out it. Those inspired, writers, who lived under the old testament dispensation, always mixed something of the gospel redemption with the temporal deliverances which they foretold. • One of the strongest reasons, that thev urged to convince the Jewish exiles that God would restore their country to them, was that their return was essential to the accomplishment of the promises relating to the Messiah. Jeremiah particularly uses this method in the verses connected with the text. Why doth he exalt the greatness of God's counsel, and the abundance of his power? It is only because, as he expresseth ir, God would gather the Jews out of all countries whither he had driven them in his fury: so that men should buy fields in the places about Jerusalem ? ver. 37. No, but it is because he would make an ever.lasting covenant with them, ver. 40. . It is because at ihat
time he would cause the branch of righteousness to grow up -unto David, ch. xxxiii. 15. Who is this branch? It is he of whom our prophet had before spoken in the twentythird chapter of his prophecy : Behold the days come that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, ver. 5. It is VOL. I.
he he of whom Isaiah said, The branch of the Lord shall bo beautiful and glorious, ch. iv. 2. It is he wliom God promised by Zechariah after the captivity, in order to convince the Jews that the promises concerning the branch had not been accomplished by their release: Behold the man whose name is The Branch, he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord, ch. vi. 12. It is he whom the Jews themselves have acknowledged for the Messiah. It is the holy seed, who was promised to man after the fall, and who hath been the object of the church's hope in all ages.
It is eminently in behalf of this branch that God hath disa played, as I said before, in all their grandeur, the abundance of his power, and the greatness of his counsel. I do not speak here of that counsel, which hath been from all eternity, in the intelligence of God, touching the redemption of mankind. My capacity is absorbed, I own,' in contemplating so grand an object, and to admire and to exclaim seem more suitable to our finite minds than to attempt to fathom such a prodigious depth : for where is the genius that can form adequate ideas of a subject so profound ? A God, who from all eternity formed the plan of this universe: a God, who from all eternity foresaw whatever would result from its arrangement : a God, who, from all eternity, resolved to create mankind, although he knew from all eternity that they would fall into sin, and plunge themselves into everlasting miseries : but a God, who, foreseeing from all eternity the malady, from all eternity provided the remedy: a God, who from everlasting determined to clothe his Son in mortal flesh, and to send him into the world: a God, who, according to the language of scripture, slew, in his design from all eternity, the Lamb . . . . . Rev. xiii. 8. But, I repeat it again, my brethren, it better becomes such feeble minds as ours to admire and exclaim, than to attempt to fathom. Let us content ourselves with beholding, in the execution of this divine plan, how the victories of Satan have subverted his empire.
What a victory for Satan, when that Redeemer, that king Messiah, whose advent had been announced with so much pomp and magnificence, appeared in a form so mean, and so inferior to the expectations which the prophecies had occasioned, and to the extraordinary work for which he came into the world, when he loulged in a stable, and lay in a
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Whar What a triumph for Satan, when Jesus had no attendants but a few miserable fishermen, and a few publicans as 001temptible as their master!
What a victory for Satar, when Jesus was apprehended ás a malefactor, dragged from one tribunal to another, and in fine, condemned by his judges to die !
What a victory had Satan obtained, when the object of Israel's hopes was nailed to an accursed tree, and there ended a life; upon which seemed to depend the salvation of mankind ! · What a triumphant victory for Satan, when he had inspired the nation of the risen Redeemer to treat the report of his resurrection as an imposture, and to declare an everlasting war against him in the persons of all who durst declare in his favour! . But however, the more impracticable the redemption of mankind seemed, the more did God display the greatness of his counsel and the abundance of his power in effecting it ; 'for he turned all the triumphs of Satan to the destruction of his dominion.
The Branch was lodged in a stable; the King of the uni. verse did lle in a manger ; but a star in the heavens announced his birth, angels conducted worshippers to him from the most distant eastern countries, and joined their own adorations to those of the wise men, who offered to him their gold, their frankincense and their myrrh. - His attendants were only a few fishermen and publicans ; but this served the more effectually to secure his doctrine from the most odious objections that could be opposed against it. The meaner the vessel appears, the more excellent seeins the treasure contained in it: the weaker the instruments employed in building the church appear, the more evident will the ability of the builder be. These fishermen confounded philosophers; these publicans struck the Rabbies dumb; the winds and the waves were subject to their authority; and to their commands all the powers of dature were seen to bow. . . .
He was apprehended like a malefactor, and crucified ; but upon the cross he bruised the serpent's head while Satan vaunted of bruising his heel, Gen. iii. 15. Upon the cross he spoiled principalities and powers, and made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it, Col. ii. 15.
He was wrapped in burying clothes, laid on a bier, and, with all the mournful furniture of death, deposited in a 62
tomb: but by this he conquered death, and disarmed him of his sting, 1 Cor. xv. 56. By this he furnished thee, chris-'. tian, with armour of proof against the attacks of the tyrant, who would enslave thee, and whose formidable approaches hare caused thee so many fears.
He was rejected by his own countrymen, even after he had risen victorious froin the tomb, laden with the spoils of the king of terrors, Job xvii. 14. but their rejection of him animated his apostles to shake off the dust from their feet against those execrable men, who, after they had murdered the master, endeavoured to destroy the disciples, and put them upon lifting up the standard of the cross in every other' part of the universe, and thus the heathen world was bound to his triumphal chariot, and the whole earth saw the accomplishment of those prophecies, which had foretold that, he should reign from sea to sed, and from the river to the ends of the earth. How great the counsel ! my dear; brethren, how mighty the work! Ah, Lord God, there is nothing too hard for thee. Thou art the great, the mighty God, the Lord of hosts is thy name, great in counsel, and mighty in work.
Here we may pause, and very properly come to a conclu-. sion of this discourse ; for, though we proposed at first to consider the greatness of God's counsel, and the omnipotence of his working, in a practical light, after having exa-, mined them speculatively, yet, methinks, the examination of the subject in one point of light, is the explication of it in both. When we have proved that God is great in counsel, and mighty in work, in my opinion, we have sufficiently shown, on the one hand, the extravagance of those madmen, who, in the language of the wise man, pretend to exercise, wisdom and understanding and counsel against the Lord, Prov. xxi. 30. and, on the other, the wisdom of those, who, taking his laws for the only rules of their conversation, coinmit their peace, their lives, and their salvations to the disposal . of his providence. Only let us take care, my dear brethren, (and with this single exhortation we conclude) let us take care, we do not flatter ourselves into an opinion that we pase sess this wisdom while we are destitute of it: and let us take: care, while, we exclaim against the extravagance of those , madmen, of whom I just now spoke, that we do not imitate their dangerous examples.
But what! Is it possible to find, among beings who have the least spark of reason, an individual mad enough to supus
. . ' pose.
pose himself wiser than that God, who is great in counsel, or, is there one who dare resist a God mighty in working ? My brethren, one of the most difficult questions, that we meet with in the study of human nature, is, whether some actions in men's lives proceed from intentions in their minds. To affirm, or to deny, is equally difficult. On the one hand, we can hardly believe that an intelligent creature can revolve intentions in his mind directly opposite to intelligence, and the extravagance of which the least ray of intelligence seems sufficient to discover. On the other, we can hardly think it possible, that this creature should follow a course of life altogether founded on such an intention, if indeed he have it not in his mind. The truth is, a question of this kind may be either affirmed or denied according to the different lights in which it is considered. · Put these questions to the most irregular of mankind : Dost thou pretend to oppose i God? Hast thou the presumption to attempt to prevail over him by the superiority of knowledge and power? Put these. questions simply, apart from the conduct, and you will hardly meet. with one, who will not answer No. . But examine the conduct, not only of the most irregular men, . but even of those, who imagine their behaviour is the most prudent? penetrate those secret thoughts, which they in. volve in darkness in order to conceal the horror of them ! from themselves ; and you will soon discover that they,.. who answered so pertinently to your questions when you proposed thein simply, will actually take the opposite side, when you propose the same questions relatively. But who . then, you will ask me, who are those men, who presumptuously think of overcoming God by their superior knowledge and power? ...
Who? It is that soldier, who, with a brutal courage, . defies danger, dares death, resolutely marches amidst... fires and flames, even though he hath taken no care to have an interest in the Lord of hosts, or to commit his soul to his
Who? It is that statesman, who, despising the suge: gestions of evangelical prudence, pursues stratagems als together worldly; who makes no scruple of committing. what are called state-crimes ; who, with a disdainful air, affects to pity us, when we affirm, that the most advané tageous service a wise legislator can perform for society is to render the Deity propitious to it; that the happiest nations: are those whose God is the Lord, Psal. xxxiii. 12.