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proclamation of eternal mercy, through the blood of the cross--and despising it:—and he presents a spectacle of folly, guilt and wickedness, from which angels must turn away with disgust and amazement; and which is enough to astound the very inhabitants of hell.
There is noinconsistency,then, between maintaining the perfection of the great provisions of the plan of redemption, and of its administraern, and contending for the indispensable necessity of the Spirit's agency to render them successful. They belong to different parts of the sacred economy, and are both necessary to accomplish one result, * the restoration of the sinner to the image, the favour, and the enjoyment of God. The waters of Jordan were adapted to cleanse, the injunction of the prophet to go and wash, was most explicit; and the promise was certain, that there should be a cure. But it was God only who could cleanse the leprosy of Naaman the Syrian, and dispose him to use the appointed means; for while he preferred Abana and Pharphar there was no cure for him. The prophet preached to the dry bones, and said with power, “0 ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” It was the Spirit of God that bade them live. Yea it was while he prophesied, that the wondrous and quickening influence went forth :-“ So I prophesied as I was commanded : and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together,
* See Note [T].
bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army:"* Thus it is with the preaching and the success of the Gospel. It is while Paul preaches to Lydia that the Lord touches her heart that she attends to the things that are spoken.”+
The atonement was designed to open the channel of mercy, that grace might flow in harmony with justice; and to secure the Spirit's agency to apply its healing power. The object of the Spirit's work is to influence the sinner's mind, that there may be access to the remedy which is to be found in the great sacrifice. The design of the written record which God has given us, is to furnish the suitable means of dealing with reasonable creatures, to supply information on all the great subjects which involve their eternal destiny, to point out the way to Him who is the fountain of all good, and to supply tests for the detection of error, and rules for the obedience of faith. The office of the Spirit is not to improve upon this communication, but to dispose the understanding, the affections, and the conscience to love, and to obey it in all things. The office of the ministry of the Gospel, is to publish, explain, defend, and enforce the will of God. It is the business of the Divine Spirit to qualify' men for this work, and to give them acceptance and success in prosecuting it. It is our's to desire the office of the ministry, it is his fully to instruct the man of God, that he may be thoroughly furnished to every good work. It is our's to make the attempt to preach the Gospel to every creature ; it is God's to give a door of entrance, and a door of utterance in making it known. It is our's to draw the bow at a venture ; it is God's to direct the arrow into the heart of the enemies of the king. It is our's to plant and to water, it is God's to give the increase.
* Ezek, xxxvii. 7-10.
+ Acts xvi. 14.
While the state of human nature is such as renders the influence of the Divine Spirit, in connexion with the atonement of Christ, indispensably necessary, the provision of this influence is in harmony with other parts of the great plan of redemption, and secures its successful exhibition. The leading and prominent feature of that plan is the principle of grace or favour. It appears in the origin of the scheme, in its progressive development, in its wonderful apparatus, in the selection of its objects, in all the treatment of them in this world, and in their final glorification in the kingdom of God. From first to last it
is all of grace.
Had any thing been left entirely to the good disposition of the creature in the reception or advancement of this plan, there would have been a want of consistency. Something of counterworking would have been found. There would have been the influence of opposing forces or principles; producing jarring, and disorder and conflict. But to prevent this, he who has provided the Saviour, and the testimony, and the inheritance, has also provided the agency by which the disposition to believe, and the will to do, and the power to persevere, are induced. The pride of human glorying is entirely stained—no room for boasting is left in the Divine presence, and we are effectually taught, that “ of him, and through him, and to him, are all things."
By this influence, the certainty of success is provided for. Without it every thing would be loose, uncertain, and contingent. The Redeemer would have no security that he should “see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied;" the faithful labourer would have no encouragement amidst his toils and his self-denial; there would be no certain issue of the mighty contrivances of divine wisdom, or of all the efforts of sovereign benevolence. Such a state of matters could not be looked at without extreme dissatisfaction and dismay.
On the other hand, when in connexion with the glorious remedy provided by God, we know that there is a power engaged, by which that remedy shall not return void; which effectually secures a final result, worthy of God, and of the vast expenditure which has been employed upon it; by which the Redeemer is secured in the reward of many crowns, and in the honour of the deliverance of countless multitudes; by which every under-worker in the vineyard of God, whether as a planter or a waterer, shall receive “his own reward according to his own labour;” and by which revenues of the purest gratitude, and the holiest devotion, are secured to the Eternal Father and Lord of all, from “ the numbers without number,” who shall crowd the celestial temple, filling it with the odours of their sanctity, and the melody of their praise for ever and ever.-What a delightful contemplation !-What an encouraging prospect !—What cousistency, grandeur, and perfection are thus diffused over the whole economy of our redemption! Here are no jarring elements. No contention for the mastery among the principles or operations of the system.-No rivalry between the creature and the Creator, who shall have the praise.- No division of interest, or conflict of feeling, or opposition of purpose and pursuit, on the part of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the framing, prosecution, and result of this plan :the fruit of their highest wisdom, and their purest benevolence. No!- In this mighty and glorious scheme, THEY are one. Its object is to unite man to man, and men on earth to angels principalities and powers in heaven ; and the whole to God, that through eternity “ He may be all in all.”