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"were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible; whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him." If the Creator of thrones and dominions, of principalities and powers, thought it proper for himself to become the supreme Agent in this system; it must cease to excite admiration, that those of his creatures, the energy of whose minds is formed of unmingled virtue, should delight to sustain a subordinate agency in its dispensations, and to study the mysteries, involved in a work so wonderful, and sublime.

To him, who assents to the truth of Revelation, this passage amply proves the dignity, and excellency, of the Gospel. To prove the truth of a Scriptural doctrine is, however, but one, and that, often, the least necessary, and the least laborious, object of preaching. To illustrate the nature of the doctrine, and the manner in which it is true, and to impress its importance on the minds of those who hear, are always objects of high moment; and often demand the chief attention of the preacher. Where a doctrine is merely proved, it is loosely regarded, and rarely remembered; but, when it is clearly illustrated, and forcibly appli ed, a hope may justly be entertained, that the impressions, which are made on the minds of an audience, will be permanent, and useful. With this hope, I will now attempt to illustrate THE IMPORTANCE, DIGNITY, AND EXCELLENCE, OF THE GOSPEL, by several considerations, which if I mistake not, are suited to such a design. In the mean time, those, who hear me, will remember, as they cannot fail distinctly to perceive, that to do justice to the subject is beyond the power of a human preacher; and demands at least the abilities, possessed by the beings, who have thought it deserving of their own most laborious investigation. Even angels could not do it justice. In itself, and in its consequences, it will engage their study, and admiration, for ever; and they will perpetually find their former views of its extent, and value, inadequate, and, in many ways, imperfect. What then must be the views of a man? St. Paul, when this treasure was committed to him and his inspired companions, informs us, that it was

placed in earthen vessels; coarse, frail, and perishable. Succeeding ministers will certainly station themselves below the level of the Apostles.

The Gospel, by which I intend, in this discourse, the Scriptures at large, is a History of the Mediatorial kingdom of the Deity; of that kingdom, which involves all the concerns of the children of Adam. From every other history it is infinitely different in the nobleness of its subject. Kings and heroes, nations and empires, the highest subjects of other histories, have here little significance. Jehovah is the Potentate, the Messiah the Hero, his children the nation, his actions the events, and his kingdom the empire, which engross the labours of the sacred historians.

The Design of this kingdom, is the salvation of an endless multitude of immortal beings. In this design are equally included their deliverance from sin and misery, and their exaltation to virtue and happiness, which will know no end.

The Theatre, in which this design, and all the events, connected with its accomplishment, are completed, is proportionally majestic; and is formed of heaven, earth, and hell; the stage of probation, and the seats of retribution, for the righteous and the wicked.

Proportionally dignified also, are the Actors in this magnificent plot. Kings and nations are, here, forgotten. Moral dignity is alone regarded, where the design is salvation; and the actors, employed in accomplishing it, are prophets and apostles, the the general Assembly of the first born, principalities, and powers, in heavenly places, and the infinitely glorious persons of the Godhead.

The Duration of this kingdom is eternal.

The Laws, by which it is governed, are like the Author of them, holy, just, and good. They are so simple, as to be comprised in two commands; yet so extensive, as to reach all the possible actions of intelligent creatures; so short, and so plain, as to be sufficiently understood, easily remembered, and obviously applied by every moral agent; so honourable to the law-giver, as if nothing beside his honour had been consulted in their forma

tion; so beneficent to his subjects, as if devised only for their happiness.

The Ultimate End of this kingdom is the manifestation of the glory, or excellency of GOD. For the accomplishment of this end “He, who was in the form of GoD, and thought it no robbery to be equal with GoD, made himself of no reputation; took upon him the form of a servant; and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, which is above every name, that is named in this world, and that which is to come that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth; and every tongue confess, that he is Lord to the glory of GOD, the Father."

The benevolence of God is the glory of his character. “GOD," saith the apostle John, "is love." This peculiarly divine attribute was illustriously displayed to the angels in heaven, in the communication of their exalted powers, in quickening their minds with unmingled virtue, and in replenishing them with pure and immortal enjoyment. But these just beings "need no repentance." They have ever been obedient, and, therefore, have ever been happy. They could not be forgiven; for they had never sinned. They could not be redeemed; for they had never been cast off.

But in fallen man the benevolence of GOD found a new object; an object, on which its finished beauty might be exhibited in a manner, unknown even to angels. "God commendeth his love to us," to angels, and to all beings, who are witnesses of it, "in that, while we were yet sinners, he gave his Son to die for us." This is the consideration, on which the apostles dwell with such transport, when they descant upon "the height and the depth, the length and the breadth, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." This was the theme, which warmed the tongue of the angel, when he said to the shepherds of Bethlehem, “Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all peo

ple!" This was the enrapturing subject, which tuned the voices of his heavenly companions when they sung, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace; good-will towards men!"

Mankind were the lowest order of rational beings; were born of the dust; and were allied to worms. Still they had revolted from God; and with the impudence, as well as the hostility, of rebellion, had said unto him, " Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him; and what profit shall we have, if we pray unto him?" Although His eternal power and Godhead were from the beginning, clearly seen throughout the world, being every where understood by any mind willing to understand them; they denied his perfections; impeached his government; questioned his existence; and "said in their hearts, There is no God." Creatures, and those the vilest, and most insignificant, they worshipped, rather than the Creator. From the east to the west, from the north to the south, temples innumerable, raised for the worship of stocks, and men, and devils, insulted the Skies: and altars, "from the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same,” smoked, not with incense and oblations only; not with victims, selected from the fold and the stall; but with human blood. Nations immolated the best, and brightest youths of their age and country. Parents "caused their own children to pass through the fire unto Moloch."

Equally gross, vile, and dreadful, was their conduct to each other. Rulers wielded a sceptre of iron; and every where set up the gaol and the gibbet, the stake and the cross, as the instruments of their sway, and the symbols of their character. The hero waded through the blood, and planted his laurels amid the bones, of men. Fields were sown with salt; and cities rose in flames to heaven. The robber haunted the high-way; the thief prowled around the cottage; and the assassin lurked behind the curtain of night. The soul was infected with a plague; and without a physician, without a remedy, to check the malignant poison, it decayed, died, and became a loathsome mass of corruption.

Thus the world was one great scene of desolation. Nor were its miseries allayed even by hope, that balm of Gilead to a wounded spirit. Its situation was dreadful; its prospects were replete with horror. With heaven its communication was cut off. GOD was unknown, and forgotten. The path of life was unoccupied, and unsought. Year after year, and age after age, rolled over its melancholy regions; and saw no messenger arrive from distant, happier climes, with tidings of restoration, or deliverance. It was a world in ruins; a vast sepulchre, hung round with darkness, and replenished with decay and death; where no sound of consolation pierced the slumbering ear, and no beam of hope reillumined the eye, closed in eternal night.

On such a world it was impossible for God to look without abhorrence. That righteous law, by which he governs the universe, had declared, "The soul, which sinneth, shall die." But every child of Adam had sinned: all, therefore, were irreversibly condemned to death. Nor could the "law pass," without the fulfilment of every "jot, and tittle," included in it; although the fulfilment should require the destruction of "the heavens and the earth." In this state of absolute despair, "the Father of all mercies" was pleased to say, "Deliver the soul of man from going down to the pit; for I have found a ransom." Heaven was startled at the declaration; and the bosoms of all its inhabitants trembled with astonishment and rapture. They had seen their own apostate companions cast out of the regions of happiness, and "reserved in chains, under darkness, to the judgment of the great day." No more favourable destiny could be expected for


The ransom found, was the life of the Son of God; "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person." The gift, on the part of the Father, was the greatest of all gifts. The self-denial, on the part of the Son, was the highest possible self-denial. The sacrifice was infinite; and could not be demanded, even by a suffering universe. It was conceived only by boundless wisdom; it could be executed only by boundless love.

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