« ZurückWeiter »
as giving joy to the angels in heaven. He SERMON who maketh the wrath of man to praise him, is not deficient in wisdom and power, to make even the failings of his servants, in this imperfect state of human nature, redound at last to his own glory, and to their good.
It must not escape observation, that the text suggests, not merely that all things prove good in the issue, or eventually turn out to the benefit of the righteous, but that they work for it. This expression carries particular energy. It imports that all things are so formed by God, as to become active causes of happiness to those who love him. His infinite wisdom gives to things in themselves most unapt, an aptitude and fitness to fulfil his own great ends; disposes and prepares them for their proper effects; and makes dangers and evils his instruments for accomplishing the felicity of his servants. There is a certain operation and process always going on, by which, though we are insensible of it, all things are constantly advancing towards a happy issue. In the same manner as the operation of natural causes, though slow ...VOL. V.
SERMON and unperceived, is sure; as the seed which is sown in the ground is every moment unfolding itself; and though no eye can trace the steps of its progress, yet with a silent growth, is ripening and shooting forth its stalks; so in the moral world, throughout all the dispensations of Providence, there is the same latent, but certain progress of the seeds of virtue and holiness, tending towards perfection in the end. Light is sown for the righteous, as the Psalmist beautifully employs this metaphor, and gladness for the upright in heart *.
It is said in the text, not only that all things thus work, but that they work together for good; intimating that they are made to conspire and concur with one another, for bringing about what is best on the whole. Taken singly and individually, it might be difficult to conceive how each event wrought for good. They must be viewed in their consequences and fects; considered in all their dependencies and connections, as links hanging together to form one extensive chain. It is by adjusting into one consistent whole, the
*Psalm xcvii. 11.
various events that fill up human life; SERMON arranging in the happiest succession all the occurrences of that complicated scene; and bending to his own purpose things which appear most opposite and contrary, that the Almighty accomplishes his great plan in behalf of those who love him, and are the called according to his purpose.
SUCH is that great edifice of encouragement and hope, which the gospel of Christ hath reared for the consolation of those It re
who sincerely love and serve God.
In the first place, the evidence in sup port of this doctrine, which arises from the perfections of the Divine nature. In general, that God is good to all, and that his goodness is especially exerted in behalf of the righteous, is a principle of religion which
SERMON which none will dispute. The only question is, how far that goodness extends, and whether we can conceive it as extending to all that is implied in the text? Something, it must be confessed, there is astonishing, and on first view almost incredible in the assertion, that amidst that infinite combination of events which carry on the general order of the universe, nothing shall ever happen but what advances the happiness of each good man; and which shall tend to his private interest, as much as if his existence had formed a system by itself. But how astonishing soever this may seem to us, let us first reflect, that this supposes no effort beyond the power of Him who is Almighty, or beyond the skill of Him who is infinite in wisdom. We must not measure divine operations by the feeble energies of man. God is the first cause of all that exists and acts. All events are, at every moment, in his hand. Nothing can make any resistance to his purpose, or fall out in any way beside, or beyond his plan. At one glance he perceives how all things are going on throughout his universe. Not the minutest object is over
looked by Him. No multiplicity of affairs SERMON distracts Him; for, to the supreme intelligence, all things are present at once; and to the concerns of every good man, his observation and attention reach as fully as if there were no other object under his go
As there is nothing, therefore, in the promise of the text, which Divine power and wisdom cannot effect, so neither is there any thing in it but what Divine goodness gives us reason to believe shall be fulfilled. The goodness of the Supreme Being is very different from that of men. Among them, it is a principle occasionally operating, but always limited, and always subject to alteration and change. Their benefits, though liberally bestowed at one time, will at another time be stopped by the intervention of contrary passions. Their benevolence decays; selfishness and indifference succeed. But, in the nature of the Deity, there is no principle which can produce alteration or change in his benevolent purpose once formed. Without variableness or shadow of turning, whom he hath once loved he loveth to the end.
The gifts and