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but by our good works, which they behold, may glori fy God in the day of visitation.
Let us admire and adore that ail wise and almighty Being, who works all things after the counsel of his will, and makes them all subservient to the praise of his glory.
God brings forth good out of evil, and overrules to the honor of his great name those things which in themselves have a contrary aspect. The apostasy of man, though in its nature it tended to God's dishonor, has been the occasion of displaying his glory in the brightest lustre. The grace and mercy of God in the salvation of penitent believing souls, appear more glorious, than they would have appeared, in any way at present known to us, if there had been no such worthless objects in his creation. The holiness and justice of God are more strongly represented in Christ's sufferings for our sins, than in any other way with which we are acquainted. The angels, who dwell in God's presence, know more of his manifold wisdom and unbounded love, by means of the redemption, than they had ever before learned from his other works. The evil of sin is in this dispensation more awfully manifested, than in all the prohibitions and threatenings of the law. Though the sins of men tend to disturb the harmony of God's government, and mar the beauty of his creation, yet he can overrule them to a different purpose, and make them subservient to his glory, and to the eventual happiness of his obedient subjects.
Shall we then say, Sin is not an evil; or the evil of it is small? No: But we will say, God's wisdom is great and his ways unsearchable. Shall we make light of sin, because God can turn it to his own praise? No : But we will admire his goodness, wisdom and power, who does great things, which we know not and cannot comprehend. Shall we say, that sin is a necessary part of God's plan, because some happy events have followed from particular transgressions? No: But we will reVOL. III.
member, that the same infinite wisdom, which could make good to follow from such unpromising and untoward means, can never be at a loss for means to accomplish the purposes of unbounded benevolence. When we see the mischief and confusion, which wicked men make in the world, we will rejoice, that God reigns, and that he turns to good the things, which they intend for evil. We will not be anxious and distrustful in any circumstances, for he who has done so great things for the redemption of fallen men, will never forsake the souls, who love and serve him, but will cause all things to work together for their good.
The Sealing and Earnest of the Spirit.
EPHESIANS i. 13. 14.
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
IN the days of the Apostles, there were Jews scattered through most of the provinces of the Roman Empire. Numbers of them were in Ephesus, where they had a synagogue. When Paul preached the gospel in this city, many of the Jews, as well as Greeks, received it, and both united in one church. One design of this epistle is, to guard them against any disunion, which might arise between them, on account of former differences of nation and religion. The Apostle tells them, that one purpose for which God had made known the mystery of his will was, that, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather all things together in one body in Christ. In the 11th verse, speaking to the Jews, he says, We have obtain ed an inheritance in Christ, that we should be to the praise of God's glory who first trusted in Christ. In our text, speaking to the Gentile believers, he says, In him ye also trusted after ye heard the word of truth
The Jews first trusted in Christ, for to them the gos. pel was first sent. But the Greeks in Ephesus discovered a disposition no less honest and commendable; for, when they heard the word of salvation, they also believed; and, having believed, they were sealed with the holy spirit of promise.
There are three things abservable in these words. I. The object of the faith of these Ephesians. The word of truth and the gospel of salvation.
II. The forwardness, and yet the reasonableness of their faith. They trusted in Christ after they heard the word.
III. The happy consequence of their faith. they believed, they were sealed with the holy Spirit, &c. I. The gospel, which the Ephesians believed, is called the word of truth, and the gospel of salvation.
It is the word of truth. It contains all that truth which concerns our present duty and our future glory, It declares the whole counsel of God, relating to the recovery of our fallen race, Christ himself came to bear witness to the truth, that all men by him might believe; and the Apostles were sent forth to make a more full discovery of all things, which Jesus began to do and to teach.
The gospel comes attended with demonstrations of its own divinity: In this sense it is the word of truth. When Paul taught in Ephesus, "he persuaded the things concerning the kingdom of God." And "by his hands God wrought special miracles" for the confirmation of the doctrine which he preached. The spiritual nature, benevolent design and holy tendency of the gospel; the miracles which attended its first publication; its support and propagation in the world against all the attempts made to destroy it; the accomplishment, which in every age has been made, and still is making, of the prophecies contained in it, are unde niable evidences of its heavenly original.
It is called the gospel of our salvation. The design of it is to bring salvation to our guilty race. It discovers to us our ruined, helpless condition; the mercy of God to give us salvation; the way in which it is procured for us; the terms on which we may become interested in it; the evidences by which our title to it must be ascertained; and the glory and happiness which it comprehends.
II. The second thing observable in the text is the commendable disposition, which these Ephesians discovered when the gospel was preached to them. They trusted in Christ, after they heard the word of truth. They acted as honest and rational men: They did not trust before they heard it, nor refuse to trust after they heard it. They did not take the gospel upon the credit of other men, without examination; nor did they reject it, when they had an opportunity to examine it for themselves.
While Paul preached in the city, Jews and Greeks came and heard the word. The miracles which he wrought in healing diseases and casting out evil spirits, gave such full demonstration of a divine power attending him, that, though divers were hardened, many be. lieved, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. The example of the believers at Ephesus teaches us, in what manner we should hear the word. While we guard against a blind credulity, which receives for truth whatever is agreeable to our humor, or is recommended by popular opinion; we must be careful not to fall into an obstinacy and perverseness, which believes nothing, unless it agrees with our preconceived notions, or favors our worldly interest. The Ephesians did not believe the gospel, because some others believed it, nor did they reject it, because divers were hardened and spake against it; but they judged for themselves. They heard as they had opportunity, attended to the evidence set before them, and, after they had heard, they believed. Their faith stood not