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"The mystery of God should be finished." Revelation x. 7. THE epithet which the apostle so aptly applies to the series of dispensations which it was his prerogative to sketch in dim prophetic shadows, may with scarcely less fitness be applied also to the entire course of the divine administration. It is emphatically " the mystery of God : " a development of
GOD I CO SUMMATIO . 137 his thoughts, indeed, but only a partial development of them; such a development of them as awakens at once a sense of beauty and confusion, a feeling of admiration and perplexity. The divine administration, however, is not a scene of absolute and hopeless confusion. It is a development which has in it both germs of order and signs of progress; it is a course of events which has a design, and is tending to its issue* If it is a mystery, it is a mystery which " hath an end," and shall be finished." But who shall speak of that consummation 1 ? Who can tell the limits of the administration involved in it 7 The human race is assuredly not the only intelligent occupant of the universe, since it indubitably links itself with at least one other family, namely, the angelic; but the question may fairly be asked, Amidst so many worlds are there no intel ligent beings besides? And, if there are, will they have a combined development and a common issue? These questions point to large speculations, not without interest, indeed, but incapable of a positive solution; and whither can conjecture lead us? From one point of view, however, a gleam
of reasonable probability may be derived. There is no ground to suppose that the consummation of human destiny will be accompanied by the destruction of the globe on which we dwell. The Scriptures, on the contrary, expressly inform us that " the heavens and the earth which are now are reserved unto fire" (2 Peter iii. 7). Fire, however, is a cause of change rather than of destruction, and is often a cause of purifying and renovating change. After the last conflagration, therefore, and the final abandonment of this world by mankind, the globe itself, as fire may modify it, must be conceived to remain. For what end 1 An everlasting heap of ashes? A perpetual chaos, whirling in the useless sunbeams] This is scarcely probable; and assuredly there is nothing in its present condition to warrant such an anticipation. May we not rather regard it as a theatre for succeeding, as it may have been a theatre for antecedent, dispensations of the Creator's wisdom 1 What secret links may connect such successive dispensations, or even bind together the distant and solitary worlds, we are not to know; but yet, perhaps, the administration, however varied, of the One God may be found to have in it a unity characteristic of himself. To restrain our thoughts, however, from so wide and
138 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. speculative a scope, let us now endeavour to contemplate as distinctly as we may the consummation of God's ways in relation to mankind; this is the most practically important part of the subject to us, and in relation to it we have to a certain extent a guide in his written Word. May light be given us to interpret it aright ! The aspect of God's ways towards man is complex. It presents to us, in the first place, a system of moral government made the basis of an artificial experiment of a benign tendency I refer, of course, to the dispensation instituted in Eden but interfered with, and frustrated as to its felici-
tous issue, by a malign and artful enemy. It presents to us, in the second place, a state of universal equitable probation under the precepts and sanctions of the moral law; this also being made productive through sin, and under the influence of the same adversary, of universal condemnation. And it presents to us, in the third place, a glorious intervention of redeeming mercy, extending conditionally to all, and to a portion of mankind made effectual to salvation. The first of these three aspects of the divine administration towards man it should seem will not re-appear. It had its consummation in the paradise in which it was instituted, and in the sentences which so quickly followed the transgression. Provision being made, indeed, by the supervening system of mercy, for the continued existence of the race, some of the consequences of the first sin were incorporated with it as congruous with its probationary character, such as the necessity of labour and the liability to death; but these will obviously cease with the probationary state to which they attach. The corruption of man's nature, also dating from the fall, does not come into judgment, since it is without demerit of its own. According to the Scripture, no man will be condemned hereafter either for the corruption of his nature or for Adam's sin, for God "will render to every man according to his tvorks " (Romans ii. 6). Of the remaining aspects of God's administration I must speak in different terms. Of his moral government and his redeeming system the consummation has yet to be effected, and to this I must now direct your attention. Whatever may occiir to individuals of human kind at death, the winding up of this combined administration waits for the end of the world, in order that it may exhibit the
GOD I CO SUMMATIO . 139 destiny of all who have been comprehended in it; and then,
when the last man shall have accomplished his deeds, comes the day of doom. For God " hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts xvii. 31). And " we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad " (2 Cor. v. 10). I shall not attempt to enter into any description of the transactions of that solemn day, which will no doubt be one of grandeur befitting the Being in whose dispensation it holds a place; it is more to my present purpose to remark the issues to which it immediately leads. They are thus announced by the Judge himself: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from anothei-, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. . . . Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. . . . And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew xxv. 31-34, 41, 46). Such, then, upon unquestionable authority, are the issues of God's administration towards mankind; the things which are to remain when the theatre in which the human passions and Imman character have been developed shall have been burnt up, and all its turmoil hushed in the silence of a common and everlasting grave. Heaven and hell a realm of misery and a realm of joy these are the residue of God's ways, the consummation of his administration. These realms, however opposite, will have some features in common. There will be in both, it must be assumed, a development of the human nature into the fulness of its physical powers. " Flesh and blood" will not be appropriate to either, since the world with which they constituted the
necessary medium of communication will no longer exist. As both the just and the unjust will rise again, so will the bodies of both possess a congruity with the spiritual world to
140 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. which the resurrection will introduce them, however different in it their respective conditions may be. Whatever directness of knowledge, whatever vividness of perception, whatever intensity of feeling, whatever ardour of passion, may characterize the one, will no less characterize the other. In another respect these opposite realms will be alike. They will be final. either the happiness of the one nor the suffering of the other will be susceptible of further change. The blest will remain so, without further temptation, or hazard ; the wretched will remain so, without further probation, or hope. Eternity sets its seal upon them for evermore. Thus similar in some respects, the realms we are thinking of are totally dissimilar in others. They are heaven and hell. I have already called the one a realm of joy, and the other a realm of sorrow. How shall I amplify these simple expressions, or give intensity to the ideas they are intended to convey? "Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, nor hath the heart of man conceived" the grand realities. Heaven and hell ! Think of these as the Scripture guides you. These are the end of all things. I am aware that in thus sketching in a few sentences this ultimate result, as I regard it, of the divine administration, I am enunciating sentiments which all do not hold, and which some strenuously resist; but the scope of my discourse will not allow me to go into argument, and I must therefore content myself with stating the matter as the Scripture appears to me to put it. The question I now proceed to ask is, assuming the consummation of all things to be as I have
represented it-, whether God is thereby glorified. I. In attempting to answer this question, I will take up, in the first place, the more painful of the two elements, and the more difficult of treatment. I speak of the realm of misery, and I am far from speaking of it lightly. i. The first difficulty in the way of conceiving such an issue to be to the glory of God arises from human sympathy. Impossible as it is to a well-constituted mind to contemplate suffering of any kind without pain, it is beyond all things affecting to contemplate, though only in imagination, a portion of our race in endless suffering, and this of the severest kind. Our sympathies recoil from such a scene as a mere exhibition of pain, and still more as one of pain inflicted by a God infinitely kind and merciful.
GOD IK CO SUMMATIO . 141 It may be observed, however, that the question which now comes before us is not one of which our sympathies are fitted to be the judge. Future punishment is not the only question of this kind; similar questions arise in the present life. Sympathy alone would interfere with the use of animal food, still more would it supersede many modes of punishment, and it would in all cases stay the hand of the executioner. Amiable and useful as it is, it is requisite sometimes to put it out of court (to use a technical expression), in order that sterner, but not less honourable, principles may have due operation. And, if sympathy requires to be piit under restraint for some necessary purposes of human life, how much more may a similar restraint be thought necessary in relation to divine proceedings ! God, indeed, is infinitely more tender than we are; but, to complete his character, it must be added that he is also infinitely more superior to his tenderness. That in this respect he is differently constituted from ourselves, is manifest from the things which he does. Which of us could endure to administer his providence?
Which of us could scatter disease and death about the world as our Maker scatters them, lacerating so many hearts, and drawing forth such bitter tears ? We know that in this dispensation he is not unkind, and we do not charge him with being so; but it is manifest that he is guided by some higher rule than human sympathy. And so, doubtless, he will be found to be in other matters. In truth, in human beings sympathy has a place not absolute, but relative; and it appears not so much as an essential virtue, as an element adapted to man's condition. Here we want it, though even here we have to guard against its excess; but in another state its force and relation to other sentiments will doubtless be greatly modified. For that modification, of course, we must wait; but we should wait with the understanding that, as our present sympathies will not interfere with our judgment then, so they should not be permitted to embarrass our faith now. 2. What, then, apari from the disturbing influence of sympathy, is the case before us 1 ? The case is this. There are creatures whom God has made susceptible of moral government. Such a government he has established over them, at once righteous in its foundation, and equitable in its arrangements. They have violated
142 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. his law, and they are suffering the penalty. What we ask is, Is God herein glorified ? The obvious reply to this question is, that God herein appears in the light of a just judge, administering a righteous law, and vindicating its honour by the punishment of transgressors. This is a position of which no judge in this world is ashamed, nor is it easy to see why the Judge of all the earth should be ashamed of it. It is to his glory as the moral Governor, and, under the circumstances, it is the only
position of glory he can assume. If, however, there be those who would represent the attitude in which God thus appears as one dishonourable to him, it is at least fair that the ground of such an imputation should be specified. I can imagine, indeed, various combinations of circumstances in which it would be dishonourable to him. If the infliction of future suffering were a mere exercise of power, arbitrary and without demerit, it would be dishonourable to him; but it is not so. If the infliction of future suffering were a thing malign, and arose from a pleasure taken by God in the pain of others, it would be dishonourable to him; but it is not so. If the infliction of future punishment were an indulgence of personal resentment, and intended to gratify the passion of revenge, it would be dishonourable to him; but it is not so. If, as Governor, God had assumed an unrighteous rule, and claimed obedience where none was due, it would be dishonourable to him; but it is not so. If the law of his government were inequitable in its demands, or excessive in its penalties, it would be dishonourable to him; but it is not so. If his judgment had been uncandid, and fault had been imputed, either without reason, or without fair allowance, it would be dishonourable to him; but this is not so. I am prepared to maintain as facts the reverse of all these suppositions. A punishment more purely judicial, more exactly proportionate in itself, or more truly carrying out the terms of a righteous government, and fulfilling the obligations of a just judge, has never been put on record. If this do the Judge of all the earth dishonour, wherein can any judge do himself honour ? Must every judge who has to pronounce a sentence of condemnation come down from the bench with shame 1 There are ways, it is true, by which a judge may do him-
GOD I CO SUMMATIO . 143
self dishonour. A judge may do himself dishonour if he permits justice in his hands to be tampered with ; if he allows his feelings to make him swerve from his duty; if he accepts a bribe to the blinding of his eyes, or suffers the guilty to escape by perverting judgment. Is it in this method that those who are so zealous for the honour of God would wish him to be glorified ? 3. But God, it may be alleged, is infinitely benevolent, and the infliction of so much suffering cannot be consistent with this fact. In order to answer this allegation, I may be permitted to restate a general principle which in a former discourse I have laid down. In considering the emotional nature of God, I showed it to consist of holiness, complacency, and benevolence, or the love of the right, the beautiful, and the happy; and I added that these affections stand in such an order that, in any possible collision, the happy will be subordinated to the right, or benevolence to holiness. ow here is a case for the application of this principle. In the moral government of God justice is the presiding attribute, harmonizing with benevolence, indeed, in the general scope of the system, but not liable to be controlled by it in its administration; in other words, the government is designed for the happiness of mankind, both as a whole and individually, but it provides for this happiness in a way of righteousness only, which consequently must be maintained whether the happiness contemplated be secured or not. This principle is embodied in earthly governments. Their aim is, no doubt, the welfare of the community, collectively and individually ; but the highest possible praise is given to them, if it can be said that they will promote the welfare of all well-conducted subjects ; nothing beyond this is ever anticipated from them. o one imagines that a government is intended to advance the prosperity of the thief and the highwayman; on the contrary, the punishment of these is at once its proper duty, and its genuine praise. o reproach attaches to it even for taking the life of him who has taken the life of another; an act not in itself benevolent, certainly, but justified and made honourable by considerations which, under the circumstances, over-ride even benevolence.
I may, indeed, go further than this, and say that benevolence, properly estimated, not only acquiesces in the punishment of offenders, but requires it. For it is not only to the
144 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. criminal that benevolence is due; it is due to the community also, whose welfare he has invaded, and it is due to the community by a much stronger title than to the individual. ot to punish robbers and murderers, however kind it may be to them, is assuredly not kind to the public at large, but the reverse, since it deprives them of their natural defence against plunder and bloodshed. The question lies, therefore, between benevolence on a small scale and benevolence on a large one or, rather, between benevolence in violation of righteousness and benevolence in accordance with it; and the answer cannot be doubtful The principles thus incorporated into human governments are of safe and easy application to the divine. The government of God tends to the happiness of all, and it provides for the happiness of all who are obedient. It cannot honourably do more. To procure happiness to the disobedient, would be to inflict upon itself a deep and insufferable disgrace, and upon the human race at large a lasting and irreparable injury. either of these can divine benevolence require. The unsullied maintenance of God's righteous government is, on the whole, even more kind than suffering sinners to go unpunished ; and, if an occasion for the punishment of sinners arises, it is a measure, however painful, in which benevolence itself can without dishonour acquiesce. 4. The benevolence of God being thus shielded, we are now at liberty to attend to the attitude assumed by his justice. This, assuredly, is awful; but it is also satisfactory. Let me restate the fact. Here is a realm of sorrow, where those of the human race are who were disobedient to the will
of God, and where they suffer a punishment proportionate to their culpability. This, in the first place, is tJie natural result and issue of God's government. It is precisely that for which he framed it, and which from the first he said it would produce. It is not a thing, consequently, which should take any one by surprise, or give occasion to any complaint. If there be really anything to complain of in the punishment, it must be because there is something blamable in the law of which it is the practical expression, and to that antecedent question the investigation should be carried. It is scarcely less than absurd, first to admit that " the law is holy, and just, and good," and then to complain of the punitive part of its
GOD I CO SUMMATIO . 145 administration. Did we then really think that the Judge of all the earth would hesitate in taking vengeance 1 This, in the second place, is a fitting and ample vindication of God's government. Every system of government by law is liable in the first instance to dishonour, since the law may be broken, and so authority be trampled underfoot. It is, of course, necessary that there should be some way in which the honour of the law may be vindicated, and the government, else enfeebled, maintain its title to respect. The punishment of transgression constitutes this method, and it is universally held to be as satisfactory as it is necessary. Either by obedience or by penalty, the law has its due. Such is the manner in which the government of God is vindicated in the realm of sorrow we are contemplating. These sufferers are rebels, and what they suffer is the just reward of their deeds. By their rebellion they trampled the authority of God under their feet, and now the honour of that authority is vindicated by the vengeance taken on their crimes. And how amply is it vindicated ! Here is punished every sinner, not one has been permitted to escape. Here is punished
every sin, not one has been overlooked or forgotten. Here is fulfilled every threatening, not a word that the Great Ruler has spoken has fallen to the ground. Yes, guilty men ! For a time you triumphed, and in the space which his longsuffering gave you you grew wanton in iniquity, as though you had been gods, and not men; but an almighty hand has at length arrested you, and you are now paying the just penalty of your crimes. Believe it for evermore ! And hear it, assembled worlds ! The Lord taketh vengeance, and iniquity shall not go unpunished. Eternal justice, faithfulness, and truth, have erected to themselves an imperishable monument here. I trust I have treated this part of my subject with due seriousness and caution. My own judgment does not falter in the view which I have taken of it. I believe that the realm of sorrow, with all its terrors, will afford a spectacle not inconsistent with the benevolence of God, and sublimely glorious to his justice and liis truth; a spectacle in the contemplation of which a holy universe may sa*y, So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord ! II. I turn, however, with unspeakable delight, from a scene so awful to the brighter and more joyous one which L
146 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. awaits our notice. If one of the twofold issues of God's administration exhibits itself in a realm of sorrow, the other appears in a realm of bliss. If there be a hell, there is also, blessed be God ! a heaven. But what is heaven ? Again we ask the question as fruitlessly as before. Eye hath not seen it; ear hath not heard it; the heart of man hath not conceived it. Set it before yourselves in imagination, however, as best you may. See
the ransomed multitudes before the throne of God. " In his presence is fulness of joy, at his right hand are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm xvi. n). They are come to the celestial Zion "with songs, and everlasting joy; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isaiah xxxv. 10). And whence came they? "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple ; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and lead them to living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (Revelation vii. 14-17). This is heaven ; and this realm of bliss, with its perpetual and exquisite joys, remains as the issue and everlasting memorial of the work of redeeming mercy. If divine justice be honoured, verily grace hath its triumphs too. i. Grace has triumphed over extraordinary difficulties of position. These ransomed ones are brought from a state of corruption which might have seemed for ever to separate them from a holy God, and from a state of condemnation which might have seemed to shut them up in everlasting despair. Infinitely pure was the bosom into which they have been brought, and infinitely righteous the sentence which has been cancelled in their favour; "and mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (James ii. 13). But how is this? Have holiness and justice, then, been disregarded in their claims, and 'tarnished in their glory ? They have not. Eternal wisdom hath made search in the secret places, and hath returned with the tidings, " I have found a ransom" (Job xxxiii. 24). " Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh
GOD I CO SUMMATIO . 147
away the sin of the world" (John i. 29). One chosen o\it of the people has been authorized to interpose, and to become a Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. By him every claim is fulfilled, and the honour of every attribute secured. "Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other;" and all that everlasting love desired is effected to the satisfaction of all. 2. Grace has triumphed over unparalleled force of opposition. For the ruin of man was the work of an enemy, not only to man himself, but to his Maker. It was wrought, with combined malice and fraud, by a spirit outcast from heaven, and permitted to fill up his iniquities upon earth; a spirit whom the Scriptures designate "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians iv. 4), " the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. ii. 2). Having succeeded in leading mankind captive at his will, the great adversary had at length to encounter man's Deliverer, even the Son of God, who "was manifested to destroy the works of the devil" (i John iii. 8). And by him the adversary has been defeated. See how gloriously ! These ransomed spirits were once his slaves, held in bonds of corruption and of shame; but the Spirit of the Lord hath broken their bonds, and introduced them iiito the glorious liberty of the children of God. The Captain of salvation has brought these many sons unto glory, in defiance of the sagacious hostility employed to prevent their progress. In vain has the enemy watched and toiled; in vain has he spread his wiles, or thrown in his fiery darts; in vain has he endeavoured to exhaust their patience, or to assail their faith. More was he tliat was for them than all those that were against them. In their weakness they were made strong, and at last they were made more than conquerors, through him that loved them. They have entered heaven as unquestionable victors. They have palms in their hands, and crowns on their heads; and they exclaim, " Salvation to our God that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb" (Revelation vii. 10). In this view, also, grace hath " triumphed gloriously," and the enemy has been taken in his own snare. These conquerors were the feeblest
of creatures, the veriest of slaves; yet what noble deeds they have been enabled to accomplish ! In their persons the grace of God achieves a sublime victory, and the common adversary suffers a more ignominious defeat.
148 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. 3. Grace lias triumplied in effecting new developments of divine glory. ew circumstances were, of course, adapted to new developments, and it was to be seen to what measures the divine Being would have recourse on the entrance of sin into the world. It might have been thought that, under such a condition, some aspect of the character of God might have suffered obscuration; but, marvellous to say, every one of them in its turn acquires new glory. Mercy and justice, holiness and truth, have found a scope here which could not otherwise have been given to them, and magnificently have they acquitted themselves. Mercy has not merely recovered man from his lost estate, but has raised him to a dignity and blessedness far surpassing the original scope of his being; holiness and justice have given an expression to the purity of the divine nature, and the excellency of his law, unspeakably more convincing than could else have been attained; wisdom has entered into counsels more profound and unfathomable than any other position of affairs could have originated, and has come forth with arrangements of unparalleled excellency and beauty; while faithfulness has had to affix its seal to " exceeding great and precious promises," which, but for the conveyance of such benefits, had never proceeded from the lips of the Eternal. "We have thus contemplated separately the issues of the divine administration; let us now combine the views which we have taken. God has made this world a theatre for the display of his justice as a moral Governor, and of his grace as a Redeemer; it is consequently fit that, in the issue, both his justice and his grace should be magnified. As we have seen, his justice and his grace are magnified; and, tliis being
the case, he is content to let the heavens and the earth pass away, and the issues he has arrived at remain as the monuments of his finished administration. On the view thus presented one cloud still seems to rest, and to cast a shadow over its solemn beauty. A part at least it may be said a great part of this glory the Author of all things seems to derive from the introduction of sin. Is this to his glory ? This question is not merely a speculative one, it is of great importance as affecting our estimate of the divine character. It is practically this : Does God owe anything to his enemy] And has he to thank the spoiler of his works for an opportunity of higher exaltation 1
GOD I CO SUMMATIO . 149 Some persons have gone, with a warmth of feeling much to be envied, to the immediate conclusion that God has derived a greater glory by the introduction of sin than would have been otherwise possible; but I question the soundness of their judgment, and the justice of their conclusion. It leads to an inference quite inadmissible. If this be so, it will follow that God has no real reason for being angry, either with sin or with sinners, either with devils or with men. For God's object is his own glory. Why, then, should he be angry with those who have lent themselves to his object, and whose conduct, however it may be called wrong, was necessaiy to its attainment? It is evident that he should rather approve than blame. He might have more reason for complaint, indeed, if, by a better course of action, they had deprived him of opportunities which he has turned to such remarkable account. For my own part, I cannot face this inference. I cannot make the God of heaven a debtor to the god of this world. I do not believe that he is so, and I am constrained, there-
fore, to seek some other mode of viewing the facts. The case before us is this. By his successful stratagem in Eden, and the seduction of our first parents into sin, the great enemy prevented a felicitous issue of the first dispensation, and caused it to result in the suffering of its penalty; he thus effected a great amount of mischief in God's works, and led man to do much dishonour to God himself. With respect to the sin of man, the honour of God would have been sufficiently vindicated by the infliction of the penalty; but with respect to the mischief caused by the tempter, God saw fit to adopt a compensatory system, by providing for a multiplication of the human race under a scheme, not of federal, but of individual probation. Again, however, Satanic malice prevails, and, through unceasing temptation, he leads mankind individually to sin and to perdition. Here, also, as far as mankind are concerned, the honour of God would have been sufficiently vindicated by executing the penalty of the moral law; but a triumph remains to the enemy, who has a second time occasioned great mischief, and rendered two dispensations of divine benignity and wisdom productive of none but deplorable results. ow, " for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, to destroy the works of the devil" (i John iii. 8); and a third dispensation is introduced,
150 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. based on the expiatory sacrifice of Christ, and at once presenting a hope of salvation on repentance to all, and by effectual grace seciiring the salvation of a chosen people. Under this third dispensation, as to the purely probationary part of it, the enemy again triumphs ; but grace triumphs in the elect ; and the glory resulting to God from their salvation, in the height of blessedness to which it is carried, and in the new developments of his character by which it is effected, is the element by which he obtains compensation to himself for the disastrous inroads which have been made by his adversary. Satan is not to have the proud gratification of saying
to God, " Thou hast gotten thyself glory by me;" but he is to retire from the field of conflict on which he has been so wonderfully permitted to contend with his Maker, defeated and chagrined, and only murmuring as he retires, " I have taken nothing by all my toils. As a tempter, indeed, I have been successful beyond all example, but I care not for the rabble whom I have led to destruction ; my aim was to dim the glory of the Eternal, which still shines as brightly as if I had never conspired against him." But one word only I will add to these remarks. While God is pursuing his works to a consummation which will glorify himself, what a felicity it is that he places us in a position in which we may secure our own welfare ! His chariot moves on, but its wheels crush no one in their path. In which of those two ultimate realms, dear hearer, you will be, depends not upon God, but upon yourself. Which is your choice? Heaven, or hell 1 ? And to which are you tending? Is your face Zionward ? Have you been to Jesus ? Are you cleansed from sin by his blood? Are you living to his praise? Of what awful moment these questions are your conscience testifies now; may God enable you so to ponder them, that you may be prepared to take a happy position when the consummation of all things arrives ! HYM . ERE while completed gloriously The mystery of God shall be, His path of hidden wisdom run, And his last victory be won. Enthroned when grace and vengeance sit, With hell and heaven beneath their feet, Th' acclaim from every tongue shall burst, " How rich the grace ! The wrath how just !
" Evil its guilty course hath run, And deeds of fearful mischief done ; But thou art just and holy still, And good hast brought from deadliest ill. " o triumph to thy hateful foe, As from uncompensated woe ; While to thy praise a ransomed throng Shall pour an everlasting song."
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