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the most perfect models of government among men ? Nay, if it would not seem another paradox, I could almost venture to affirm, that the more perfect any constitution of human government is, the less it is adapted to be a standard in this matter. We reckon that system the most excellent, because most agreeable to the soundeft principles of reason, by which the original equality of all men by nature is most effectually preserved ; where established law, to which the highest are subject, restrains the hand of violence, and supports the meanest individual in the possession of those privileges, which, without such protection, he might be unable to defend. But here no parallel can be drawn with regard to the divine government; nor is there room to reason from the one to the other, even by.. the remoteft analogy. The frame of human policy, the whole fystem of legislation, is built upon the basis of private right and property: Whereas, in the kingdom of God, there is, there can be, no such thing as property on the side of the governed: All the subjects are the creatures of the Supreme
the most per
Ruler; and whatever they possess, they des rive from him. The more they receive, the greater d biors they are to his bounty: and when they improve their trust to the utmost extent of their capacity, they have no merit to plead ; their fidelity can amount to nothing higher than innocence; while the least failure renders them criminal, and liable to punishment.
So that, in the very nature of things, whatsoever God bestows
upon fect of his creatures, must be the effect of pure grace and favour. And if all be favour to the innocent, who have never left the station in which he placed them ; surely what is bestowed upon the guilty, must flow from the purest grace, the most condescending exercise of fivereign mercy. i And this is the light in which my text presents to our view the record of God with regard to fallen man; where the whole contents of the gospel-constitution are comprehended in this short but emphatical fentence,
God hath given to us eternal life : and this life is in his Son.
It consists, you fee, of two parts. 1. God bath given to us eternal life: 2. This life is in bis Son.
I. The first part of the record represents the great Lord of all, in the endearing character of a munificent benefactor and tenderhearted father, regarding his guilty creatures with an eye of pity, and graciously interposing for their relief, after they had wilfully destroyed themselves.
I need not detain you with a tragical defcription of the fatal effects of our apostasy from God. It may fuffice to remind you of what is written, Rom. v. 12. By one
man sin entered into the world, and death " by fin.” This is the view which my text leads us to take of the present state of fallen man.
He is not only become mortal, or liable to death, in the common acceptation of that term; but he is already dead, in the most important and awful sense of the word. He is separated, or cut off, from the only source of life: and though he is still alive in this material world, from which too he must foon remove; yet his connec
tion is broken with the spiritual world ; fo that the diffolution of the body terminates
once his enjoyments and his hopes. Every thing beyond the grave must wear an aspect of horror: nothing remains for him after that fatal period, but “a fearful
looking for of judgement and fiery indig66 nation.
This may help us to a proper conception both of the nature and worth of the blessing here mentioned.
The foundation of this eternal life is laid in reconciliation with God; for by that we pass from death to life; --the essence of it confifteth in likeness to
and it is perfected in the beatific vision, and full enjoyment of God in heaven.
The epithet eternal, fufficiently diftinguisheth it from that precarious kind of life we at present find ourselves possessed of. It is a life that is not subject to death ; neither is it interrupted for one moment by the dissolution of the earthly tabernacle : on the contrary, it acquires new vigour, by that stroke which feparates the soul from the body; and then only arrives at full
6. The wages
maturity, when the man ceaseth to be any more an inhabitant of this world.
But instead of enlarging upon the nature and excellence of this inestimable blessing, I would rather direct your attention to the manner in which it is bestowed. And here the record is abundantly plain, God hath GIVEN to us eternal life. The true import of the word given, is clearly decided by the Apostle Paul, when he says, « of fin is death ; but the gift of God is “ eternal life;" where wages and gift are placed in direct opposition to one another; the first being an exercise of justice, the last an act of free and unmerited favour. And in this light the salvation of finners is uniformly represented in the facred writings.
It is your Father's good pleasure," said Christ to his disciples, “ to give you the
kingdom."- -“ By grace. are ye saved " through faith,” said St Paul; “ and that “ not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." And again, “ Not by works of righteousness “ which we have done, but according to mercy
he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the