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times past appeared barren and uninteresting, is now the subject of his daily and delightful meditations ; and those ordinances which were once insupportably tedious, are now the joy and rejoicing of his heart. All this change is wrought upon the sinner by an agent which he cannot see, in a manner which he cannot understand,and by the instrumentality of that word which thousands read and hear without any saving effect.—“The wind bloweth where it listeth, we hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” But this doctrine, however mysterious, must be taught. As we ought to vindicate the glory of Jesus, by avowing the necessity and all-sufficiency of his righteousness for reconciliation, we ought to vindicate the glory of the Spirit, by avowing the necessity and the efficacy of his grace for our sanctification. “ Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saves by the washing of regeneration, even the renewing of the Holy Ghost." There is an intimate cooperation of all the divine Persons in effecting the recovery of man. The Father devises the plan, the Son lays down the price, and the Spirit inequalsovereignty and grace engages to consummate this salvation, by giving to all the chosen an interest in Jesus and his covenant mercies. Now, to confound the offices of these ever-blessedAgents is like throwing up a building without arranging
the materials, which must leave it a confused, unsightly pile; to exhibit the office of either divine Person, and omit the others is like attempting to erect an arch without carrying on the various parts, which necessarily defaces the beauty, and destroys the strength of the whole. God the Spirit ought therefore to be preached in his sanctifying, saving operations ; he should be held forth to view as an independent, infinite Being, working in his people both to will and to do of his good pleasure. One apostle therefore represents believers as elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Another apostle prays in behalf of his hearers, that “ their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all richés of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment* of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ."
With our sanctification by the power of divine grace, may also be connected the
* The original word, which we translate acknowledgment, literally signifies a thorough, perfect, heart-felt knowledge or ac. quaintance. Such is the translation which is given to the same word in Rom. i. 28. iii. 20. x. 2. 1 Tim. ië. 4. Eph. i. 17. and the same translation would, I humbly believe, more fully express the apostle's meaning in the present instance. Why does he thus ardently pray that these Colossians might obtain a profound acquaintance with this unsearchable mystery? Probably he intend. ed convincing them, that as there is no salvation without an interest in the love of these adarable Persons, so a suitable knowledge of the mode of their subsistence, of their offices in our redempa tion, would much conduce to their spiritual establishment and consolation.
christian's progress to perfection as another part of this wisdom.
“The righteous shall hold on his way ; and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger. That grace of Jehovah which was exercised in their election from eternity, and in calling them effectually in time, secures them infallibly to future glory: His love, of which they are partakers, is unchangeable ; the covenant in which they are interested is inviolable, and their union to Jesus the Mediator is indissoluble and everlasting. “I have betrothed thee unto me forever: I give to them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither is any man able to pluck them out of my band.” This part of the divine wisdom is also mysterious. The manner in which the soul, once brought into the covenant, is kept infallibly in the covenant, is cleansed from ten thousand pollutions, is supported amidst ten thousand discouragements, and is enabled finally to rise triumphant over ten thousand oppositions, is altogether unaccountable. To see a single spark of fire living in the ocean, would be mysterious ; to see a single soldier maintaining a warfare with a host of adversaries, each incomparably more artful and powerful than bimself, is mysterious ; to see a small, in significant insect attempting to thresh the mountains, and marching victorious over them, would be mysterious; but the believer's progress to his father's kingdom is inconceivably more mysterious. He is weak
in himself, he is opposed by innumerable enemies, both within and without: “He wrestles not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world ; with spiritual wickedness in high places; and notwithstanding this fiery conflict, he rises more than a conqueror. This part of the divine wisdom, however mysterious, ought freely to be avowed. It is intimately connected with the peace and joy of the spiritual pilgrim; with the glory of the grace, and faithfulness, and power of a promising God. The apostle ihus addresses the believing Philippians
Being confident of this very thing that he which hath begun a good work in you will perforin it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
This passage suggests practical instruction, equally interesting to those who minister, and to those who receive the word of salvation,
1. It may be inferred, that în divine revelation there are many doctrines mysterious in their nature. Jehovah is a being infinitely above us: his way is in the sea, his path in the great waters, and his footsteps are not known: it is therefore reasonably to be expected, that when he communicates his will to man there must be some things hard to be understood: truths which our finite capacities are unable to comprehend in their full extent and connexion. “ Who hath known the mind of the Lord? Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find
out the Almighty unto perfection ?-For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?”—The child does not always see the propriety of the conduct of its parents ; all the arrangements of the sovereign may not be satisfactorily obvious to the subject : Even so the things of God knoweth none but the Spirit of God. Must vain mortals presumptuously expect to trace all the movements of him who is WONDERFUL IN COUNSEL; WHO MAKETH DARKNESS HIS PAVILION, and scarcely discovers the skirts of his glory? It is especially to be expected, that in the redemption of man, which is the most important, the most sublime of all the divine operations, there will be particular transactions utterly above our conceptions. If man was to be restored, he must be restored in a manner worthy of God; in a manner which would reflect glory on all his perfections, and shew to every spectator, whether visible or invisible, the purity of his law, and the righteousness of his government. It is even presumption in mortals to expect comprehending fully a scheme so immense and elevated, which is designed to appear the chief of the ways of God, and beyond all his other works to display the exceeding riches of his wisdom, and sovereignty, and love. There are therefore various doctrines which the holy men who uttered them have represented as unsearchable by us: The Trinity of Persons in the divine essence, the manifestation of