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FOR JANUARY, 1825.
THE TRUTH, BY WHICH GOD SHOWS HIS WILLINGNESS THAT ALL
MEN SHOULD BE SAVED:
coln's Inn-fields, London, May 2, 1824.
1 TIMOTHY ii. 3-6. Τούτο γας καλόν και απόδεκτον ενώπιον του Σωτήρος ημών Θεού. "Ος πάντας
ανθρώπους θέλει σωθήναι, και εις επίγνωσιν 'Αληθείας ελθείν. “Εις γάρ Θεός, εις και Μεσίτης Θεού και Ανθρώπων, "Ανθρωπος Χριςός Ιησούς. Ο δους εαυτόν
αντίλυσρον υπέρ πάντων, το Μαρτύριον καιρούς ιδίοις.* “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all
men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
In these and the preceding verses, the apostle enjoins a most important duty, Prayer for all sorts, states, and conditions of men ; and this he recommends by motives and arguments the strongest that can be conceived. "I will, therefore, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth."
Prayer for the pardon of sin, and for the obtaining of necessary supplies of grace, and continual protection from God, with gratitude and thanksgiving for mercies already received, are duties which our sinful and dependant state renders absolutely necessary. That intercourse between God and the soul, which constitutes acquaintance with him, is essential to religion and piety. It is a good thing in itself; it argues a heart dependant on God, and conscious of its dependance; and it is acceptable to God, because, as it springs from, so it leads to him; and when it is exercised in behalf of others, it is the means of begetting and extending charity, humanity, and benevolence : and God crowns it with the blessings for which it is exercised. For these reasons it must be good; and all good in principle and practice is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.
I give the Text in the original, because this is frequently referred to in the course of the Sermon.
But the words which I have particularly selected lead to subjects which constitute the basis of all true religion, and I shall beg leave to introduce them with some general remarks.
1. Every institution, whether human or divine, is founded on certain principles which give direction and efficiency to such institutions.
2. These principles spring from the reason, propriety, or necessity that such institutions should be formed ; that such principles should not only be their basis, but ramify themselves through all the rules and regulations formed for the proper conducting of such institutions.
3. These institutions are formed to promote or accomplish a particular end; and such an end as justifies the motives, and sanctions the means and energies which are required to be brought into action for their accomplishment.
If the institution be divine, it is founded on the perfections of God; and must necessarily partake of his wisdom, his goodness, holiness, and truth. He wills it, because he sees it to be right and proper. His will revealed, is the expression of his ineffable wisdom, holiness, goodness, and truth. Whatever he wills, must be right and just in itself, and consequently acceptable to all the attributes and perfections of his nature.
Religion is the institution of God; it expresses his will, it manifests his perfections; and as it concerns man, for whose sake alone the institution itself was formed, and exists, it strongly points out the benevolence of its Author, because it is framed for the present and eternal good of the human race.
In the verses before us, the apostle lays down the principles of this institution; the end which it proposes; and the means to be employed for the accomplishment of this end.
The DIVINE PURPOSE is first summarily declared :1. God wills that all men should be saved ;
2. And, in order to this, that they should come to the knowledge of the truth.
The TRUTH which is to be known and acknowledged, is next produced in its essential principles.
1. There is one God.
6 The man Christ Jesus."
4. What he did as Mediator, is next declared, “ He gave himself a Ransom for all.” And,
5. This system of truth is to be testified to men in due and per times, that they may acknowledge it, and be finally saved. Of these in order.
I. The purpose of God is declared: He wills that all men should be saved : this will or desire, is founded on the folloir
ing principles. 1. He is the Creator of all. 2. He made of one flesh and blood all the nations of men, to dwell on the face of the whole earth. 3. He made man in his own image and likeness, that he might be happy. 4. In this original purpose and creating act, he had in view all the posterities of that one human pair which he created. None were created but Adam and Eve : all the rest came by natural generation from those two. There was no distinction of original families, created at different times, or for different purposes : two persons only were created, and whatever was designed for them, was necessarily designed for the whole of their posterity, all of whom were seminal
ly included in this first and only created pair ; being properly and physically a part of themselves, and continued partakers of their being. And as God intended that man should spring from man after this creation, so he considered them as one stock, one family, of which himself was the father and the head : and however he might, in his providence, scatter them over the earth, assign them different habitations, and different bounds to those habitations; yet, in reference to their immortal spirits, and their eternal states, he made no distinction; but, as declared here, willed the salvation of all : for "all men” necessarily takes in the whole posterity of the first pair ; and that posterity is a continuation and extension of the being of the human stock. It cannot appear strange, therefore, that God should will all men to be saved ; because this necessarily follows from his willing the salvation of any: for human nature has not been divided, and every portion of it falls equally under the merciful regards of the Father of the spirits of all flesh.
When God purposed the creation of man, he willed his happiness; and therefore gave him such a kind of being, endued with such capacities and perfections, as could be brought into intimate communion with himself, and were capable of receiving such influences or emanations from the divine perfections as to constitute an incredible sum of intellectual happiness. When man sinned, and lost by transgression that righteousness and true holiness which constituted the image of God," in which he was created, and so lost his happiness, and became sinful and miserable; God, who is an invariable source of be.. nevolence toward his intelligent offspring, willed his salvation ; which implies his deliverance from that state of darkness, sinfulness, and misery into which he had fallen, his restoration to the divine favour, by being again made partaker of the divine image, and consequently his restoration to that state of happiness which he had lost by sin. Therefore, his “willing the salvation of all men" is only a consequence and revealed expression of that will or divine determination, that the human creature, which he had designed to make should be a happy being. And as he
was originally happy, because he was holy, so God designed to restore him to holiness that he might repossess that happiness which was his portion in the beginning of the creation of God. Whatsoever new forms this design might assume, or through whatever new circumstances it was necessary to be manifested, it was still essentially the same in itself; and invariable in respect of its object.
II. But, in order that this design might be accomplished, it was necessary that it should be revealed : and that God, its author, should be glorified, it was necessary that he should be made known: and that man, its object, should be duly affected by it, it was requisite that his state, danger, and obligation should be fully declared. And this has been done by the Spirit of God in Moses, in the prophets, and in the writers of the New Testament. In these the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith ; God is made known to man; and man is brought to an acquaintance with himself. This revelation contains the only system of pure theology; the only rational account of the being and perfections of God,-of good and evil, -of justice and injustice,-of the immortality of the soul,-of a future state, -of the general resurrection-of that worship which God requires,--and of the way in which man may be restored to the favour and image of God. The outlines of these important doctrines were revealed in the Old Testament: the particulars and fulness are brought to light by the Ner. This revelation is termed the TRUTH ; and the New Testament particularly, the Truth of God, and the truth of the gospel. Truth is the contrary to FALSITY.
Truth has been defined the conformity of notions to things,-of words to thoughts ;-it declares the thing that is, and as it is. Whereas falsity, in all its acceptations, is that which is not ;-what is pretended to be a fact, but either is no fact, or is not represented as it really is.
The revelation of God to man, in reference to his salvation, is the TRUTH, the WHOLE truth, and NOTHING but the truth. It bears a strict conformity to the perfections of the divine nature. It inspires such notions as are conformable to the things of which they are the mental ectypes; and describes its subjects by such words as are conformable to the thoughts they represent.
The revelation of God is the mind of God made known to men, and the mind is not truer to itself, than the inspired writings are to the mind and purpose of God.
Truth is sometimes put in opposition to what is imperfect, emblematical, and representative : so, in these words of the evangelist,—“The Law was given by Moses ; but grace and TRUTH came by Jesus Christ.” (John i. 17.) The Mosaic law was a representative system ; it was “the shadow of good things to come, and not the very image.” (Heh. x. 1.) The gospel is the