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pendent on his mere will and pleasure in the affair. We depend on the sovereign will of God for every thing belonging to it, from the foundation to the top stone. It was of the sovereign pleasure of God, that he contrived a way to save any of mankind, and gave us Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, to be our Redeemer. Why did he look on us, and send us a Saviour, and not the fallen angels? It was from the sovereign pleasure of God. It was of his sovereign pleasure what means to appoint. His giving us the bible, and the ordinances of religion, is of his sovereign grace. His giving those means to us rather than to others; his giving the awakening influences of his Spirit; and his bestowing his saving grace, are all of his sovereign pleasure. When he says, “ Let there be light in the soul of such an one,” it is a word of infinite power and sovereign grace.
2. Let us with the greatest humility adore the awful and absoJute sovereignty of God. As we have just shown, it is an eminent attribute of the divine Being, that he is sovereign over such excellent beings as the souls of men, and that in every respect, even in that of their eternal salvation. The infinite greatness of God, and his exaltation above us, appears in nothing more, than in his sovereignty. It is spoken of in scripture as a great part of his glory. Deuteronomy xxxii. 39. “ See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no God with me. I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” Psalms cxv. 3. “Our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever he pleased.” Daniel iv. 34, 35. “ Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay bis hand, or say unto him, what doest thou ?" Our Lord Jesus Christ praised and glorified the Father for the exercise of his sovereignty in the salvation of men. Matthew xi. 25, 26. “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast bid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Let us therefore give God the glory of his sovereignty, as adoring him, whose sovereign will orders all things, beholding ourselves as nothing in comparison with him. Dominion and sovereignty require humble reverence and honour in the subject. The absolute, universal, and unlimited sovereignty of God requires, that we should adore him with all possible humility and reverence. It is impossible that we should go to excess in lowliness and reverence of that Being who may dispose of us to all eternity, as he pleases.
3. Those who are in a state of salvation are to attribute it to sovereig'ı grace alone, and to give all the praise to him, who maketh them to differ from others. Godliness is no cause for glorying, except it be in God. 1 Corinthians i. 29, 30, 31. " That no flesh should glory in his presence.
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. That, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Such are not, by any means, in any degree to attribute their godliness, their safe and happy state and condition, to any natural difference between them and other men, or to any strength or righteousness of their own. They have no reason to exalt themselves in the least degree; but God is the being whom they should exalt. They should exalt God the Father, who chose them in Christ, who set his love upon them, and gave them salvation, before they were born, and even before the world was. If they inquire, why God set his love on them, and chose them rather than others, if they think they can see any cause out of God, they are greatly mistaken. They should exalt God the Son, who bore their names on bis heart, when he came into the world, and hung on the cross, and in whom alone they have righteousness and strength. They should exalt God the Holy Ghost, who of sovereign grace has called them out of darkness into marvellous light; who has by his own immediate and free operation, led them into an understanding of the evil and danger of sin, and brought them off from their own righteousness, and opened their eyes to discover the glory of God, and the wonderful riches of God in Jesus Christ, and has sanctified them, and made them new creatures. When they hear of the wickedness of others, or look upon vicious persons, they should think how wicked they once were, and how much they provoked God, and how they deserved for over to be left by him to perish in sin, and that it is only sove. reign grace which has made the difference. 1 Corinthians vi. 10. Many sorts of sinners are there enumerated; fornicators, idolators, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind. And then in the eleventh verse, the apostle tells them, “ Such were some of you ; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” The people of God have the greater cause of thankfulness, more reason to love God, who hath bestowed such great and unspeakable mercy upon them of his mere sovereign pleasure.
4. Hence we learn what cause we have to adınire the grace of God, that he should condescend to become bound to us by
covenant; that he, who is naturally supreme in his dominion over
Let us, therefore, labour to submit to the sovereignty of God. God insists, that his sovereignty be acknowledged by us, and that even in this great matter, a matter which so nearly and infinitely concerns us, as our own eternal salvation. This is the stumbling block on which thousands fall and perish; and if we go on contending with God about his sovereignty, it will be our eternal ruin. It is absolutely necessary that we should submit to God, as our absolute sovereign, and the sovereign over our souls; as one who may have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and harden whom he will.
5. And lastly. We may make use of this doctrine to guard those who seek salvation from two opposite extremes—presumption and discouragement. Do not presume upon the mercy of God, and so encourage yourself in sin. Many hear that God's mercy is infinite, and therefore think, that if they delay seeking salvation for the present, and seek it hereafter, that God will bestow his grace upon them. But consider, that though God's grace
is sufficient, yet he is sovereign, and will use his own pleasure whether he will save you or not. If you put off salvation till hereafter, salvation will not be in your power. It will be as a sovereign God pleases, whether you shall obtain it or not. Seeing, therefore, that in this affair you are so absolutely dependent on God, it is best to follow his direction in seeking it, which is to hear his voice to-day : “ To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.” Beware also of discouragement. Take heed of despairing thoughts, because you are a great sinner, because you have persevered so long in sin, have backslidden, and resisted the Holy Ghost. Remember that, let your case be what it may, and you ever so great a sinner, if you have not committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, God can bestow mercy upon you without the least prejudice to the honour of his holiness, which you have offended, or to the honour of his majesty, which you have insulted, or of his justice, which you have made your enemy, or of his truth, or of any of his attributes. Let you be what sinner you may, God can, if he pleases, greatly glorify himself in your salvation .
PHILIPPIANS iii. 17.
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk
so, as ye have us for an ensample. The apostle in the foregoing part of the chapter, had been telling how he counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, and in the text he urges that his example should be followed.
He does this in two ways.
1. He exhorts the Philippian Christians to follow his example. “Brethren, be followers together of me." He exhorts them to be followers of him together; that is, that they should all follow his example with one heart and soul, all agreeing in it and that all, as much as in them lay, should help and assist each other in it.
2. That they should take particular notice of others, that did so, and put peculiar honour on them ; which is implied in the expression in the latter part of the verse, “niark them, which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
Doctrine. We ought to follow the good examples of the apostle Paul. We are to consider, that the apostle did not say this of himself from an ambitious spirit, from a desire of being set up as a pattern, and eyed and imitated as an example to other Christians. His writings are not of any private interpretation, but he spake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost directed that the good examples of the apostle Paul should be noticed by other Christians, and imitated. And we are also to consider, that this is not a command to the Philippians only, to whom the epistle was more immediately directed, but to all those, for whose use this epistle was written, for all Christians to the end of the world. For though God so ordered it, that the epistles of the apostles were mostly written on particular occasions and directed to particular churches, yet they were written to be of universal use. And those occasions were so ordered in the wisdom of divine providence that they are a part of that infallible rule of faith and manners,