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guish that grace, when the Lord calls his people his. Moreover, let the child of God observe what a sweet familiar manner of speaking the Lord of heaven and earth adopts to endear himself to the affections of his people : he calls them, his dwelling-place, his portion, his inheritance, and his rest; in which he delights, and in which he will “ dwell for ever!” But in what sense may Jehovah be said to make his people his portion ? Simply the same as a man doth his. For as the glory of God is the first cause, and the final end of all things; the blessedness given by the Lord to his people, is reflected back upon the Lord himself in love and praise. So that in the multitude of beings made unspeakably happy, and holy, and blessed in Christ, Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons hath his portion “ to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved," Eph. i. 6.
Let us pass on to another view of the subject, namely, that this pleasure which Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons taketh in his people, is solely the persons of his people as chosen in Christ, and distinguished from the world. The word of God is express in declarations to shew that the election of grace is wholly grace, having neither goodness in the objects of that pleasure to constrain Jehovah to love them, nor unworthiness to restrain his affection from them. The Lord loveth because he will love. His language is, “ I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious; and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy,” Exod. xxxiii. 19. And that all this is special and peculiar to the persons of the Lord's people, distinguished from the world, is evident from what is said on the subject. For while we read, that “ the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein,” Ps. xxiv. 1.-the same divine authority declares, that the Lord “hath chosen Jacob for himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure,” Ps. cxxxv. 4. “ This people have I
formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise,” Isa. xliii. 21. And Moses, the man of God, was commanded to instruct the church in this leading doctrine of special personal love. “Behold, (said he) the heaven, and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God; the earth also with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day,” Deut. x. 14, 15.
No view of grace tends to humble the soul more than personal distinguishing grace; neither any other, to raise the depressed spirits of the Lord's people under soul exercises. And the consciousness, that no motive but what is in himself moved Jehovah to the manifestation of such sovereignty, brings up the poor distressed heart in an hour of sorrow, like an anchor to a ship in a dark tempestuous night, to take confidence and ride out the storm. It is indeed blessed, yea, very blessed, to be enabled to have always in view such apprehensions of the Lord's delight in the persons of his people as chosen in Christ: for this connects in one view, all the events of the time-state we are the subjects and objects of in exercise, with the everlasting love of Jehovah towards our persons in Christ before the world began. And hence the conclusion which follows; if the Lord delighteth in his people then, he cannot cease to love them now; so that his pleasure and not our happiness was the first predisposing cause; and therefore the Lord is more concerned for our welfare than we are for our own.
I will detain the reader but with one observation more in confirmation of this doctrine, of " the Lord's taking pleasure in his people;" namely, that he who chose the church in Christ for his own pleasure before the world began, hath engaged " to confirm them unto the end, that they may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Cor. i. 8.
It is highly to be observed and exceedingly to be prized by the Lord's people, that God the Holy Ghost when leading out the mind of his servant the apostle Paul to pray for the church, directed him to use this very argument of the “ good pleasure of the Lord,” as the security for their perseverance to the end. “ Wherefore also, (said he) we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power; that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Thess. i. 11, 12.
Let the scope and tendency of this blessed prayer be regarded in all its bearings, and the sum and substance of it will be found to form the leading points of doctrine which this discourse is meant to prove, namely, that Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons are alike engaged in acts of grace to his people; that it is with him “ to fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness;” it is his “ to confirm the work of faith with power;" his “ to count his people worthy of this calling;” and as the whole originated in his pleasure, so the termination is to his praise. Let the reader observe in this short but comprehensive prayer how much the apostle dwells on that grand fundamental doctrine of the whole gospel, namely, the covenant of God in this momentous concern. Twice Jehovah is called in it" our God;" as if to shew, that the whole persons in the Trinity are alike engaged and have guaranteed to each other for the accomplishment. And not content with saying that it is the Lord's pleasure to do so; but that he will in doing it, “ fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness ;” not only his goodness, but “ all the good pleasure of his goodness ;” yea, and himself fulfil the whole. And that this “ our God would count his church worthy of this calling,” refers not to their worthiness, but their worthiness in him; “his
worthy name (as James speaks) by the which they are called," James ii. 7. So that it is not from what they are in themselves, but what they are counted in him; not what they merit, but what his pleasure is to do for them ; not their calling, but his. 2 Tim. i. 9. And “ the work of faith with power,” is the Lord's power working faith in them; not their power working faith in themselves. “ Unto you it is given to believe in his name,” Philip. i. 29. And the result of the whole proves, that as the Lord's pleasure is the first cause, so his glory is the final end ; " that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
And now, reader, pause once more over the whole subject. And under the teachings of the Lord ask yourself whether any doctrine can be more clear than the one here brought before you, namely, that the Lord's pleasure in his people is the source of all his purposes in Christ Jesus towards them; and consequently, that this must be the culminating point of blessedness to the church, both during the time-state of grace here, and in the eternal state of glory hereafter.
And under such views, what a mystery is the doctrine of grace! What a mystery is the church of the Most High God! Yea, what a mystery is every individual of the church to himself, when by regeneration he is made a partaker of the divine nature, having “ escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust,” 2 Pet. i. 4. That Jehovah, in his Trinity of Persons, who was, and is, and to all eternity must necessarily be so unspeakably blessed and glorious in himself, and to whom nothing in a way of blessedness can be added, and from whom nothing can be taken, should condescend to raise up a church from his creatures for communion with himself, and to call that church his portion!
All which can resolve itself into
no other cause, but the sovereignty of his will and pleasure : “ The Lord taketh pleasure in his people!”
Go on one step further, and ponder what is said of the ordination of Jehovah in the accomplishment of it; namely, that it is to magnify and exalt the free grace of God. God the Holy Ghost, in a single verse of his sacred word, hath declared this to be the cause, namely, that " in the ages to come, he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus,” Ephes. ii. 7. Hence, it follows, that if this be (as the word of God declares it is) the sovereign, free, and unmerited grace of God; and that this is the motive in the divine mind, for which God hath gone forth in such rich maifestations of it towards his creatures; to derogate from this grace, and to ascribe a single act of merit in any who are the objects of such love as a predisposing or a corresponding cause, can be no other than high treason to the majesty of heaven. Various may be, and various will be, the views and apprehensions of the human mind respecting secondary and subordinate things in religion. We are at the best but in the minority of our being in this life; and as children under education, we know all that we do know but in part; we see but as through a glass darkly; and the medium through which the great objects are seen, very frequently give a tinge of colouring in which they appear. But in respect to grace, this admits but of one and the same complexion to every beholder. All is of grace; all the events of the church from beginning to end can be but of grace! The positive and unalterable language of the gospel is, “ ye are saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,” Eph. ii. 8. And hence, in allusion to the spiritual temple, it was said in the old testament dispensation, and the new testament doctrine confirms the same) that the head-stone of the building should be