« السابقةمتابعة »
er good or bad, he must be glorified by the conduct of the whole human race. All the wrath, all the malice, all the revenge, all the injustice, and all the selfishness, as well as all the benevolence of mankind, must finally praise him, or serve to display the beauty and glory of his character. His intention and his agency, which always goes before theirs, and which is always wise and benevolent, turns all their conduct to his own glory. At the great and last day, when all human hearts shall be unfolded and all human conduct displayed, the hand and counsel of God will appear in all, and shine the brighter by every act of disobedience and rebellion in his creatures. Their bad intentions will be a foil,
. to display the glory of God to the best advantage.
6. If the actions of men may be ascribed both to God and to themselves; then we may see the duty and nature of true repentance. When men freely and voluntarily do evil, their conduct is their own, and they are the criminal agents. They freely and actively violate their obligations to obedience, which is in its own nature sinful, and for which they ought to repent. Their. criminality does not consist in the cause of their evil desires, affections, designs, and volitions, but in their evil desires, affections, designs, and volitions themselves, These are all as much their own, and as really criminal, as if God had had no concern, influence, or agency in their production; and they are under as real and strong obligation to repent, as if they had acted independently of every being in the universe. But since all their sinful conduct may be ascribed to God, who ordained it for his own glory, and whose agency was concerned in it, they have no reason to be sorry, that any evil action or event took place. This is so far from being implied in true repentance, that it is altogether inconsistent with it. So Joseph supposed in the case of his brethren. “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: For God did send me before you to preserve life.” God had a good design in governing the sinful conduct of Joseph's brethren; and when they saw this good design happily accomplished, they could have no ground to regret the taking place of that series of actions and events, by which it was brought about. They could not have been sorry for this, without being sorry for God's conduct, and for the accomplishment of his holy and benevolent design; which would haye been totally inconsistent with godly sorrow for their own sins. God was not sorry, that their sinful conduct had taken place,
, and they had no more reason to be sorry, on that account. When they really repented (as we know they did) they loathed and abhorred themselves for sin itself, and not for its taking place, under the divine government. This is the very language of their hearts, when they were brought to repentance. “And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us; and we would not hear: therefore is this distress come upon us.” They saw the intrinsic
" turpitude, malignity, and criminality of their intentions and designs, and with self-reproach, self-loathing, and self-condemnation, acknowledged their just desert of punishment from the hand of God. This was genuine repentance and godly sorrow, and essentially different from a sorrow, that their sins had taken place, and that God's design had been accomplished. The apostle Paul makes this distinction between godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world, in his description of true repentance. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” The sorrow of
the world, is the sorrow that arises from an event's taking place; and this worketh death, because there is no remedy for it. If we ought to be sorry, all things considered, that any event has taken place, then it is utterly impossible, that either God, or his holy creatures, can be completely blessed. But if there be no cause to be sorry, all things considered, that any action or event has taken place; then sinners may loath and abhor their sins, as God loaths and abhors them, and yet be completely happy. Godly sorrow, or true repentance, is not only consistent with, but absolutely necessary to, the highest happiness of sinners. While they condemn and loath their own conduct, they may rejoice forever in the conduct of God towards themselves, and all other dependent beings.
Finally, if it be true, that the actions of men may be properly ascribed both to God and to themselves; then it is of great importance for mankind to believe and acknowledge this truth. It runs through the whole Bible, and stands inseparably connected with all God's conduct towards his creatures, and with all their conduct towards him and one another. It is so far from casting any darkness or obscurity over the Scriptures, that it throws peculiar light upon all the doctrines and duties of the gospel, and upon all the works of God and man, in the dispensations of providence and grace. While we see the consistency of human and divine agency in all the actions of men, we can read the sacred volume with great edification and delight, and clearly discern the heart and hand of both God and man in all the small as well as great events, which take place in the world. But without seeing and believing this truth, not only the world, but the Bible, must appear to us full of darkness and mystery, which it will be out of our power to penetrate or remove.
It is, therefore, of as much importance to see and believe the connexion and consistency of divine agency in human actions, as it is, to see God, ourselves, and all intelligent beings, in a clear and true light; and to know how we ought to feel and conduct towards them. It is only in the view of this truth, that all holy creatures will be the most completely happy, and all unholy ones the most completely miserable, through the boundless ages of eternity. It highly behoves every person to look into and understand this most interesting subject. It will be no excuse to say, that he cannot understand it, while he neglects to examine it with a fixt, deliberate, and impartial attention. Those who do not know and love it in this world, must know and hate it forever, which will be the consummation of their future misery.
MEN HAVE A NATURAL, BUT NOT A MORAL POW:
ER, TO PREVENT WHAT GOD HAS DECREED.
Acts xxvii, 31. Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except
these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
THE history of Paul's voyage to Italy, is one of the most affecting and instructive narratives in the word of God. It displays his power, wisdom, and goodness, in governing the winds and waves, and the hearts and hands of men, in the most trying and distressing circumstances. Paul set sail in company with nearly three hundred persons, for a dangerous voyage in a dangerous season of the year, and in direct opposition to his own opinion and advice. These ominous circumstances undoubtedly spread a gloom over the minds of the whole company, and made them leave the last sight of land, with heavy hearts. Though the weather was in their favour at first; yet there soon arose a tempestuous wind, which obliged them to lighten the ship, and commit themselves to the mercy of the waves. While they were in this situation, neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and the storm continued and increased, until all hope of safety was lost.
At length, Paul stood up and addressed their desponding minds, in this pathetick and consoling language: “Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of
I good cheer; for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me