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secret pleasure · when ill things have been spoken of him.
The spring of this bitter enmity in the Jews was their spiritual pride and worldly affection. They imagined, that they were God's favorites, and that for them were designed the honors of this world, and the glories of the world to come. The Gentiles they viewed as reprobates, and they esteemed it a virtue to hate those whom God had rejected. They considered Paul, in his labors for the conversion of Heathens, as opposing their darling system of universal dominion under the Messiah's reign : Hence they condemned him as an enemy to their religion and government.
Wherever the same spirit of pride and selfishness reigns, it still produces similar effects. How common is it, that particular sects of Christiaus confine salvation to themselves, and not only reprobate all others, but even condemn the charity of the man who dares to hope favorably of them ? How common is it, that men excuse, in their own party, the same things which they severely censure in another ; and consider those actions as vices in a rival sect, which they magnify as virtues in themselves and their proselytes? How common is it, that Christians, so called ; yea, even Preachers, under the solemn pretence of promoting the religion of Christ, and saving the souls of sinners, sow discord among brethren, cause divisions in Churches, and disturb that peace which is an essential virtue of the gospel, and without which religion cannot exist ? How common is it, that we envy those in superior worldly circumstances--that we wish to depress them that we eagerly receive and diligently propagate ill reports concerning them ? Whence proceeds this uns friendly, unsocial conduct, but from pride and a love of the world ? Is not this the same temper which appeared in the Jews, when they made Paul a prisoner for teaching, that the Gentiles were entitled to equal privileges with them?
We see, then, that liberality of sentiment essentially belongs to true religion ; and that bigotry, hatred and envy among Christians debase their character, and scandalize their profession. We should entertain exalted thoughts of the divine goodness : Such thoughts enlarge the mind and liberalize the feelings. We should consider the whole human race as the care of God's Providence ; and remember, that, while they partake of his kindness, they deserve not our hatred. We should look on our fellow men as sharers in the same nature, subject to the same sensations, and capable of the same happiness with ourselves ; and ever be disposed to do to them, as we desire they should do to
We should ever entertain favorable sentiments, where nothing appears to forbid them. While we are industrious to promote piety, correct error, and convert sinners, we should be careful that our zeal urge us not to measures inconsistent with peace and charity, and subversive of order and religion. While we are concerned to rectify mistaken sentiments, and reform irregular manners in others, we must ourselves be open to conviction and patient of reproof. While we attempt to wipe the mote out of a brother's eye, we must consider that the eye is tender and sensible; we must touch it with a gentle hand, lest we irritate and entlame the part, which we pretend to relieve. We should suffer no worldly motives to control us in our religious conduct; but act under a solemn sense of that amazing futurity which awaits us and all the hu.
If we are governed in our religion by worldly ends, we shall hate and malign those who dif. fer from us, just for the same reason, that a man of avarice or ambition, hates his competitors in trade, or his rivals for preferment. But if our minds are deeply impressed with a sense of God's supreme government and impartial judgment, we shall be chiefly solicitous to approve ourselves to him; we shall rejoice when we see religion prevail among our fellow sinners, whoever
they are ; we shall be pleased with the appearance of
of God.” So the Apostle here calls it.
It is a discovery of that method, which the wisdom of God has chosen for dispensing his grace and mercy toward fallen men, in order to their recovery from sin and death, and their final salvation in heaven. It is called the gospel of God, as it originated in his good pleasure ; and the gospel of Christ, as he is the imme. diate author of it, and as his doctrines and works, his life and death, his resurrection and ascension, and the blessings procured by him, are the subjects on which it principally treats. It is called the word of salvation, as it proclaims the offers, and states the terms of salvation; and the gospel of peace, as it discovers the way in which sinners may be reconciled to God, and obtain peace with him. It is said to be the power of God to salvation, because, while it brings salvation, it proposes the most powerful motives to persuade, and assis. tances to encourage sinners to accept it. It is called the gospel of the grace of God, because it proceeds from his self moving goodness, and manifests his abundant mercy to sinful creatures ; and the dispensa
tion of his grace, because it opens the way in which sinners may become partakers of his grace.
The grace which the gospel offers is pardon and glo. ry. This grace is offered without distinction, to one as well as another, in the same way, and on the same terms. It is dispensed through the Redeemer, who gave himself a ransom for sinners. The terms of pardon are repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Sinners are brought to a compliance with these terms by means of the gospel, which is rendered effectual by the attendant operations of the Spirit. The Apostle says, “ The gospel is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth, for therein the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, and the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” He speaks of his preaching, as mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, to the humbling of every high thing which exalts itself against the knowl. edge of God, and to the reducing of every thought to the obedience of Christ. He taught that men must repent and turn to God and do works meet for repentance, assuring them, that thus they should obtain the forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them who are sanctified, by faith in Christ. As the gospel is the word of salvation sent to a sinful race, so herein is proclaimed the forgiveness of sins, in such full and universal terms, that all who believe may be assured, that they shall be justified from all their sins, and be made heirs of eternal life.
Now if we are under such a dispensation of grace, How inexcusable are the impenitent, and how amaz. ing will be the punishment of those who finally perish in their guilt ?
The gospel supposes us to be lost and helpless; and such we certainly are. If we were not such, we should need no salvation. If we are such, how joy. fully should we hear, and how thankfully embrace the
dispensation of the grace of God? Are we unworthy creatures ? How happy it is that God deals with us in a way of grace! Have we no righteousness on which to ground a claim for the remission of past sins ? How happy it is, that Jesus the Son of God has made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting rightcousness! Are our sins great and numerous ? How happy it is, that the righteousness of God, through the faith of Christ, is unto all, and upon all them that be. lieve, and there is no difference ! Do we feel the power of corruption, and the weakness of nature ? How happy it is, that God's grace is sufficient for us, and that we may come boldly to his throne for grace to help in time of need? Do we find that the serious senti. ments, and virtuous resolutions awakened in us, too easily slumber and die away? How happy it is, that God gives us line upon line, and precept upon precept And what-Shall we treat with cold indifference and neglect all this kind and wonderful provision? Can we suppose, there is no danger in trampling on the gifts of divine love, and spurning the offers of eternal salvation ? The Apostle has given, and let us take the warning, that “despisers of the gospel will wonder and perish.”
III. The Apostle says, This dispensation was committed to him for the benefit of mankind. " The dispensation of the grace of God is given to you ward."
He was allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel. This was a trust committed to him by the will of God-not a power arrogated by his own presumptioni. “He was an Apostle not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father.” And “ the gospel which he preached was not after man, neither received he it of man ; but was taught it by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Few men ever possessed higher accomplishments than Paul. His natural abilities were great ; his edueation was superior ; the manner of his conversion