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vation of sinners. It was wholly itual blessings in heavenly places from his infinite benevolence, that in Christ, according as he hath he formed the purpose of their chosen us in him before the found. salvation. But when did he form ation of the world.” And again this purpose ? This question has in the same epistle, “ Unto me is been variously answered by such this grace given, that I should persons, as have attempted to ex- preach among the gentiles the unplain the gospel. Many have sup- searchable riches of Christ ; and posed, that the plan of salvation was to make all men see what is the not an original design of God, but fellowship of the mystery, which was adopted upon the apostacy of from the beginning of the world mankind. They imagine, that hath been hid in God, who created God intended, when he formed our all things by Jesus Christ; to the first parents, that they and their intent that now unto principalities posterity should always be perfect- and powers in heavenly places ly holy and happy. And they might be known by the church suppose, that after God saw sin the manifold wisdom of God, achad entered the world, he formed cording to the eternal purpose, the scheme of salvation, that he which be purposed in Christ Jesmight overrule the existence of us our Lord.” Here the scheme evil to his own glory and the good of redemption is declared to be of his intelligent creatures. But the eternal purpose of God and this supposition is bighly deroga- his ultimate design in the work of tory to the infinite wisdom of the creation. It appears, therefore, creator and governor of the uni. from the divine character and de
For it implies a great de- clarations, that the gospel, in its fect, either in his natural or mor- origin, is from eternity. The al attributes, to form a scheme, plan was formed and fixed eternal which needed such an important ages before the work of creation and essential alteration and amend- was begun. It is the first and sument. It is, therefore, more ra- preme design of God, which intional to suppose that the scheme cludes all his other designs and of redemption was bis original and all the means of their accomplisheternal purpose. And if we ex- ment. The scheme of redemption amine the scriptures we shall find is so far from being only an apthe most explicit and positive de- pendage to the scheme of creation, clarations, that God formed the that the design of creation is wholplan of the gospel before the ex. ly subservient to the supreme and istence of any other being. To ultimate design of redemption. the saints at Ephesus the apostle 2. The gospel is everlasting in writes--66 Blessed be the God and its nature. The scheme of salvaFather of our Lord Jesus Christ, tion through the death of the Lord who hath blessed us with all spir- Jesus Christ was not only formed
in eternity, but it was formed up- after the counsel of his own will on immutable principles and upon according to the everlasting gosan eternal foundation. It resulted pel of his grace. Hence the from the united perfections of the psalmist says, “The counsel of Deity. His whole mind was em- the Lord standeth forever;-the ployed in forming this great design. thoughts of his heart to all genHe clearly perceived whatever erations." And God says by Isaiah, was possible, and in view of what “My counsel shall stand, and I infinite wisdom, infinite goodness will do all my pleasure.” As the and almigbty power could do, he gospel is founded upon the immu. saw the plan of the gospel to be table perfections of God, it is, in the best scheme, that he could de- its nature, as eternal as his exisvise and effect. When God form- tence, and as immutable as his pered this plan he had a perfect fections. It is, therefore, everlasknowledge of all things, that ever ting in its nature as well as in its can be known by his rational crea- origin. tures, or even by himself. It is 3. The gospel is everlasting in not, therefore, possible that any its effects.' It forever interested imperfection should ever be dis- and gratified the affections of Jecovered, or any amendment ever hovah. It was the great subject be devised, in respect to the pur- of his contemplation and felicity. pose of redemption. For this rea. He clearly perceived its great son the gospel must be immutable and happy effects, which, in prosand everlasting in its nature. If pect, afforded him perfect and inthe design of God in the gospel finite satisfaction. But it could were defective or imperfect, it not have any influence except upmight be revised and amended on his own mind, until he began to and consequently might not be create other beings. The work eternal. But since it was formed of creation was the first effect of in the council of infinite know- the purpose of redemption through ledge, wisdom and goodness, it is Jesus Christ. As it is written, the best of all schemes, that were 6 For by him were all things crepossible and is established upon ated, that are in heaven and that an immutable foundation. It can- are in earth, visible and invisible, not be amended in a single iota by whether they be thrones, or dothe united wisdom of all rational minions, or principalities, or powcreatures, that ever can exist; ers: all things were created by por by the manifold wisdom of the him and for him : and he is hefore only wise God. This perfect and all things and by him a!l things glorious scheme can never be, in consist.” From these words it is the least degree, varied through evident, that all things were crethe ages of eternity. God, there- ated in reference to the purpose fore, will forever work all things of redemption, which the Lord
Jesus Christ engaged to perform. cording to the gospel God forms As this purpose began to operate vessels of mercy and vessels of in the creation of all things, so it wrath and fits every human being has contioued to operate in their for his future and eternal condipreservation and government. It tion. Nor will there ever be in has operated upon the material the universe a rational creature, system and also upon the lower whose character will not be formspecies of living creatures. The ed by the influence of the gospel. whole creation groaneth under And the characters of rational the evils and pains, which are creatures, as they will be formed connected with the purpose of through the influence of the gosGod in the salvation of sinners.— pel,will continue forever; and their These effects are temporary.- condition will agree with their The world will be burnt and the character and be equally permabrutes will cease to exist. The nent. They, who are in their moral scheme of the gospel has also character formed into the image of operated upon rational creatures, God, will enjoy his favor forever; and its effects upon such creatures but they who are not formed into will be eternal.
his moral image, will fall under It involved the rebellion of the his everlasting displeasure. It is apostate angels in heaven and es. one of the plainest doctrines of the tablished the elect angels in ever- gospel, that the happiness of the lasting bliness and happiness.-- righteous will continue forever The scheme of the gospel has and that the misery of the wicked occasioned the universal rebellion will never end. In his descripof mankind. For the purpose of tioa of the final judgment the suGod in the redemption of sinners preme Judge has said, " Then could not have been effected, un- shall the king say unto them on less Adam had fallen from his ori- his right hand, Come ye blessed ginal rectitude and his posterity of my father, inherit the kingdom had become sinners. The state prepared for you from the foundaof the world from the fall of Adam tion of the world. Then shall he unto this day has been affected by say also unto them on the left hand, the influence of the gospel upon Depart from me, ye cursed, into the character and condition of hu- everlasting fire, prepared for the man beings. The gospel brought devil and his angels. And these the Lord Jesus Christ into the shall go away into everlasting punworld, nailed him to the cross, ishment ; but the righteous into raised him from the grave to heav. life eternal.” According to the en and placed him as head over all Savior's representation of the final things unto the church. The gos- judgment, the gospel operated pel opened the way for the effu. from the foundation of the world sions of the Holy Spirit. And ac- and by its influence formed the character of the righteous and the and established by the precedcharacter of the wicked and pro- ing observations, suggests a numduced the glorious and awful ef. ber of remarks, which deserve a fects of everlasting life and ever
candid and serious attention. Jasting death. But after the decis- 1. If the gospel be the eternal ions of the final judgment the influ- system of divine conduct, then, acence & effects of the gospel will con- cording to the gospel, God is, in tinue through the endless ages of e. all things, his own supreme object. ternity. As long as God shall pre- God could not devise, establish serve and govern the moral world and accomplish the purpose of rehe will work all things according demption through the death of the to bis eternal purpose, which he Lord Jesus Christ, without a supurposed in Christ Jesus. The preme object, which should be scheme of the gospel always has worthy of himself. But could God, been and always will be the meas
in the past ages of eternity, bave ure of the divine conduct. Though found any object, that should be this scheme will be brought to a worthy of his supreme affection, consummation at the judgment of except himself; when there was the great day; yet it will not then no other being in existence? Or, be so finished, that there will be in the future ages of eternity, can no occasion for God to govern his God find any being, except himintelligent creatures, wherever self, that shall be worthy of his they may be placed ; whether in supreme affection; when there can a state of perfect blessedness or of be no other being, to whom he endless perdition. And his gov. shall not give existence? And eroment of bis rational creatures when all other beings, that ever in eternity will continue and ex- shall exist, are before the mind of tend the influence and effects of God, can they, in his view, be his great purpose of redemption. inore worthy of his supreme afThe gospel, therefore, will be lit- fection than bimself? Thougb God erally and absolutely everlasting should create worlds upon worlds in its effects ; which will be seen without cessation and without limand felt, with increasing attention itation forever; yet he could not and sensibility, by every rational cause such a system of created being forever and ever. The or- existence, as should possess more igin, the nature and the effects of knowledge, wisdom, power, goodthe great purpose of redemption, ness and happiness than do forever through the death of the Lord Je- exist in himself. Whatever might sus Christ, illustrate and establish be the multitude and magnitude of the sentiment, that the gospel is, the creatures, that God could crewith the highest propriety, called ate, yet these created beings canthe everlasting gospel. This sen- not be more worthy of their own timent, which bas been illustrated supreme affection, or of his supreme affection than their crea- redemption, which he purposed tor. The creator must, in the in Christ Jesus, and which he pernature of things, possess knowl- forms through the blood of the edge and wisdom, power and good- everlasting covenant, by the powness, beauty and happiness incom- er and grace of the Holy Spirit. parably superior to what he can 2. If the gospel be the eternal communicate to created beings, system of divine conduct, then whatever might be their multitude God has, according to the gospel, or their magnitude. No created decreed all things. The scheme being can be eternal, or self-ex. of the gospel includes the exististent, or omnipotent. No created ence, the powers, the actions and being can be holy as God is holy, state of the holy and unholy anor just as God is just, or good as gels. It includes the existence, God is good, or gracious as God is the properties, and operations of gracious, or true as God is true. the material system. It includes Though created beings may be the existence, the character, the like God in the nature of his ra- conduct and state of the common tional powers and in the nature of parents of the human family, and his moral perfections; yet they of their innumerable descendants. cannot be like him in the duration The scheme of the gospel inand extent of bis natural and moral cludes the mediation, the incarnaperfections. God must forever be tion, the crucifixion and exaltation the only supreme, eternal, inde- of the Lord Jesus Christ; his appendent and self-existent being ; pearance at the final judgment, and the only being, who can ever his resignation of his mediatorial possess infinite perfection. He authority, the approbation and must, therefore, be unto himself complacency of his Father and and to all other beings the only his God and his everlasting eomworthy object of supreme atten- munion and blessedness with his tion, affection and enjoyment.-- redeemed people in Heaven. It And before God, created beings also includes the office and agenmust forever be as nothing. Ac- cy of the Holy Spirit in the incording to the plainest and strong- struction and sanctification of the est dictates of reason, God must spiritual body of the Lord Jesus be, because he ought to be, the Christ. And it includes the great only worthy object of his supreme and bappy effects, which the Hoaffection in all his designs, and in ly Spirit produces, through his all his conduct. If the gospel be special influence, by all the means a rational system, it must agree that have been used since the with the perfections of Jehovah. world began, or shall be used unAnd if it agrees with his perfec- til the world shall end, in order to tions, he must be his own supreme accomplish the purpose of reobject in the eternal purpose of demption. The everlasting gos