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O, house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this Potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the Potter's hand, so are ye in mine, O house of Israel."
The whole house of Israel being compared to a potter's vessel, which vessel was marred in the hands of the potter, is like other scripture figures, apposite and most expressive. It does not appear, that the potter cast away the clay, assuredly not; but he made it again, a nobler vessèl, or another vessel, as seemed good to the potter. Compare this passage with Ephesians ii. 10, "For we are his workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them."
We hear of the old Man and the new Man. Ephesians iv. 22, 23, 24, "The old Man, the first Adam, the new Man, the second Adam. The old Man is corrupt, the new Man is after God, or in his likeness, created in righteousness or true holiness.” Concerning the former conversation, we are exhorted to put off the former, and put on the latter, according to the spirit's teaching. Romans xiii. 14, "Put ye on the LORD Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof." It is plain that this is an exhortation to receive the truth in the love of it, to live by faith in it, and walking therein to add to our faith virtue,
Agreeably to this renewal of the Holy Ghost, we hear him, that sat upon the throne, say, Behold I make all things new; and to shew that this declaration hath reference to the past, as well as the future, the Creator adds, It is done, I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Write, said he that sat on the throne, for these words are true and faithful— yea, verily, and they are precious words, faithful sayings uttered by the faithful and true. And if there be any thing on which we may rest our eternal hope, it is the good words of our God, The washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; he hath shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ. Abundantly is more than our wants demand. Psalm cxxxii. 15, "I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread." John x. 10, "The thief, said our Saviour, cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." To kill and to destroy, is the character of the adversary; but the friend, the Redeemer of the human family, descendeth to the carth,
that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly. Not only the life forfeited, and lost in the first Adam, but as far superior as the heavens are to the earth, abundantly superior. Thus the Apostle, Romans v. 20, " Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound: but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."
But again, It is observable, that the Holy Ghost informs us, that this renewal is shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our LORD. This corroborates the doctrine, which bears testimony to the perfection of the work achieved by the Redeemer. God having so loved the world, as to give them his Son, has given with him all spiritual blessings. He hath blessed us abundantly with regeneration, and the renewal of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed these blessings upon us through Christ Jesus; this is the finished work of redemption, which is preached unto us, and which, believing with our hearts, we enter into rest, for we can no more come into condemnation.
But the question will be again and again repeated. Who are we to understand by the us? What us is intended? This question receives an answer from the spirit of truth, in Isaiah ix. 6, “ unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” God so loved the world, he gave them his son. The us then to whom the child is born, to whom the son is given, is the world of mankind,
Again, Matthew i. 23, "Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is God with us." And this was glad tidings of good things unto all people. The prophet Hosea, vi. 10, clearly points out who the us are, that are saved by grace in our text. "After two days he will revive us in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight." Compare this text with Colossians ii. 12, "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." As from the concurring testimonies of sacred writers, it is abundantly evident, that both Jew and Gentile constituted the fulness of the body of the second Adam: so it is as evident, and from the same authority, that Jew and Gentile died in his death. When I, said our blessed LORD, am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me. This spake he signifying what death
he should die; and it was this love of Christ, which constrained the Apostles to declare, that if one died for all then were all dead, but in the third day he raised the lost nature again, and it lived in the sight of the Creator.
Every arrangement for time and for eternity, results from the abundant mercy of God. The Holy Spirit informs us, by the Apostle James, ix. 17, "That the wisdom that cometh from above is full of mercy." This wisdom of God is exemplified in the plan of redemption. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm xxv. 10, "Thou, LORD, art good and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee."
Solomon assures us, Proverbs xvi. 16, "That by mercy and truth iniquity is purged; and that by the fear of the LORD, men depart from evil." And Isaiah beautifully says, "They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD, that hath mercy on thee." he prophet Hosea, unites his suffrage, xiv. 3, "Ashur shall not je us; we will not ride upon horses, neither will we say ar, more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for, in thee, the fatherless findeth mercy." The prophet Micah is on this list, vii. 18, "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy." And in the verse immediately succeeding, "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." I cannot forbear indulging myself, by passing on to the last verse in this prophecy: "Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old." In the thirty-second verse of the eleventh chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul seems to sum up the whole business: "For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all."
To conclude, it is observable, that God's salvation consists not in our conversion to God; nor is any change in us, according to
the teaching of the Spirit of God, to be considered as the work of regeneration. The work of regeneration is a spiritual blessing, which we can have only in the seed of Abraham. But when the Spirit takes of the things of Jesus, and shows them unto us; when passing from darkness unto light, we come to the knowledge of him, in whom we have redemption and regeneration, and in whom we are accepted, and complete, perfect, and entire, lacking nothing; when the spirit of Jesus Christ witnesseth with our spirits, to these glorious truths, it is then we obtain peace and joy in believing; it is then we seek no longer for the living among the dead, for the new wine in the old bottles, nor for the new piece in the old garment. We then no longer stagger at the promises, through unbelief. We know, that in us, that is, in our flesh, dwelleth no good thing. We are no longer perplexed by the inconsistency of divine revelation. We behold in Jesus, in the new Man, in the second Adam, all things consist. The believer in Jesus Christ will acknowledge, that this change taking place in himself, is not the truth, but a work of the spirit upon his heart, in consequence of the truth; and this work of the Spirit, is to take of the things wrought out by Jesus, and show them to the soul. The change in his heart then, is in consequence of his seeing and believing the truth as it is in Jesus; it is not the redemption, the righteousness, nor the sanctification, but it is his embracing those glorious truths, which saves him from that indescribable anguish, to which he is heir, consequent upon his being a sinner, and from which he cannot be legitimately exempt, until he enters into rest, by believing the truth as it is in Jesus.
The genuine believer ceaseth from himself, he denieth himself, he no longer lives by sense, he doth not calculate according to the things which are seen, but he lives by faith, seeing what, to the eye of sense, is invisible. Viewing himself as a member in the body of the second Adam, he knows himself a subject of the new birth; he believes, that all old things are done away, and that all things are become new; and still living by faith, believing the word of the LORD, and viewing himself according to the unerring word of his God, a member of the body of Emmanuel, in life, in death, and in the resurrection, he understands the language of the spirit of truth, when he says, Reckon ye yourselves dead, indeed, unto sin, and alive unto God by Jesus Christ.
holding himself thus blest, with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, he enters into rest, ceasing from his own works as God did from his. God, as a Creator, when he saw the old creation finished, and very good, ceased from his work; and the genuine believer, beholding the completion of the new creation, and all perfectly good, enters into rest, and then, for the first time, understands what is intended by the Sabbath. Until this blessed period, he considered himself a partner with God, in the work of regeneration and the new creation, and that to complete both, he must do his part. But, at length, convinced of his extreme arrogance and presumption, he sitteth under the shadow of the good tree with inexpressible delight, and he keeps that Sabbath, in which he doth no manner of work. But, looking unto Jesus with grateful affection, he saith, Thou, LORD, hast wrought all our works in us. Believers, with devout gratitude, repeat after the Apostle, "It is not by works of righteousness done by us, that we are saved; but beholding that salvation, which was finished by those works of righteousness, that were wrought by him in our nature, in the us, to whom the child was born, and the Son given, they find joy unspeakable and full of glory." It is then impossible they can avoid loving God; for they know that God is love, not in word only, but in deed; and believing him to be in this character unchangeable, they trust in him at all times, not being afraid and knowing, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, they cannot discern any just ground for their continuing in a state of enmity against God, nor do they believe God is in a state of enmity with them. Why should God impute to them their trespasses, since Jesus has taken them upon himself? God will consider who was the doer of the deed, and he will consider who it was, that reconciled all things unto himself.
Believers, therefore, measure to every human being the same measure they measure to themselves. Whatever they may discover in themselves or in their fellow members in opposition to God, they consider as the seed sown by the enemy, and they hold it in utter abhorrence. They endeavour patiently to wait for the period, when the LORD of the harvest will give his angels charge to gather out of his kingdom, whatsoever gives offence; with those who do iniquity, they anticipate the era when these shall be utterly destroyed, and every individual seed sown by the