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termined by the purpose of God. In the morning of the
creation heaven shined with innumerable glittering stars, the angels of light, of whom a vast number are, by their rebel
lion against God, become wandering stars, to whom is
reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. Now, the good angels are in a supernatural state, without the least danger of change, or any separation from the blessed presence of God in glory, flowing from the continual irradiations of di. vine grace, which preserves their minds from errors, and their wills from irregular desires; and consequently they cannot sin, nor forfeit their felicity. It was by an eternal decree of God, that he passed by the angels that fell, and doomed them to everlasting misery. The apostle tells us, 2 Pet. ii. 4. that “ God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved into judgment.’ And saith Jude, ver. 6. “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” Mercy did not interpose to avert or suspend their judgment; but immediately they were expelled from the Divine Presence. Their present misery is insupportable, and worse awaits them. Their judgment is irreversible; they are under the blackness of darkness for ever. They have not the least glimpse of hope to allay their sorrows, and no star-light to sweeten the horrors of their eternal night. It were a kind of mercy to them to be capable of death; but God will never be so far reconciled to them as to annihilate them. Immortality, which is the privilege of their nature, infinitely increases their torment. 2. God hath likewise appointed the final and eternal state of men and women. It is said, Rom. ix. 21, 22, 23. ‘Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction : and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory? (1.) He hath elected some to everlasting life by an irreversible decree, Rom. viii. 29, 30. ‘For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.
Moreover, whom he did predestinate, then he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Eph. i. 4. ‘According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before him in
love.’ 2 Thess. ii. 13. ‘God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” From eternity God elected some from
among the lostposterity of Adam to everlasting life and glory,
according to the good pleasure of his own will. Therefore allis referred by our Saviour to the good pleasure of God, Matth. xi. 25, 26. And all the means for accomplishing the ends of election are likewise of divine appointment; particularly the redemption of ruined sinners by the death and sufferings of Christ: “He hath chosen us in Christ, Eph. i. 4. The Father did first, in order of nature, chuse Christ to the Mediatory office, and as the chief corner-stone to bear up the whole building; whence he is called God's elect, Isa. xlii. 1. And then he chose a company of lost sinners to be saved by and through Christ; and therefore he is said to predestinate them to be conformed to the image of his Son.
2. God hath passed by the rest of mankind, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or with-holdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, and hath ordained them to dishonour and wrath for their sins, to the praise of his glorious justice. Hence Christ is said to be “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence to them that stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed, 1 Pet. ii. 8. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold, and of silver, but also of wood, and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour,’ 2 Tim. ii. 19, 20. In Jude, ver. 4. we read of “ungodly men, who were before of old ordained to condemnation.’ And in Rom. ix. 22, 23. we read of ‘ vessels of mercy, which God had afore prepared unto glory; and of vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.”
III. I come to consider the end of God’s decrees. And this is no other than his own glory. Every rational agent
acts for an end; and God being the most perfect agent, and Vol. I. Y
his glory the highest end, there can be no doubt but all his decrees are directed to that end. ‘For—to him are all things, Rom. xi. 36. “That we should be to the praise of his glory, Eph. i. 12. In all, he aims at his glory; and seeing he aims at it, he gets it even from the most sinful actions he has decreed to permit. Either the glory of his mer. cy or of his justice he draws therefrom. Infinite wisdom directs all to the end intended. More particularly, 1. This was God's end in the creation of the world. The divine perfections are admirably glorified here, not only in regard of the greatness of the effect, which comprehends the heavens and the earth, and all things therein; but in regard of the marvellous way of its production. For he made the vast universe without the concurrence of any material cause; he brought it forth from the womb of nothing by an act of his efficacious will. And as he began the creation by proceedinÉ from nothingto real existence, so informing the other #. e drew them from infirm and indisposed matter, as om a second nothing, that all his creatures might bear the signatures of infinite power. Thus he commanded light to arise out of darkness, and sensible creatures from an insensi. ble element. The lustre of the divine glory appears eminently here. Hence says David, Psal. xix. 1. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God.” They declare and manifest to the world the attributes and perfections of their great Crea. tor, even in his infinite wisdom, goodness, and power. All the creatures have some prints of God stamped upon them, whereby they loudly proclaim and shew to the world his wisdom and goodness in framing them. Hence says Paul, Rom. i. 20. “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” . . 2. The glory of God was his chief end and design in mak, ing men and angels. The rest of the creatures glorified God in an objective way, as they are evidences and manifestation: of his infinite wisdom, goodness, and power. But this higher rank of beings are endued with rational faculties, and so are capable to glorify God actively. Hence it is said, Prov. xvi. 4. ‘The Lord hath made all things for himself.” If all things were made for him, then man and angels especially, who are the master-pieces of the whole creation. We have our rise and being from the pure fountain of God's infinite
power and goodness; and therefore we ought to run towards that again, till we empty all our faculties and excellencies into that same ocean of divine goodness. 3. This is likewise the end of election and predestination. For “he hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children,
to the praise of the glory of his grace.” That some are ordained to eternal life, and others passed by, and suffered to
perish eternally in their sin, is for the manifestation of the infinite perfections and excellencies of God. The glory and beautyof the divine attributes is displayed here with ashining lustre; as his sovereign authority and dominion over all his creatures to dispose of them to what ends and purposes he pleaseth; his knowledge and omniscience, in beholding all
... things past, present, and to come; his vindictive justice, in # ordaining punishments to men, as a just retribution for sin;
and his omnipotence, in making good his word, and putting all his threatenings in execution. The glory of his goodness shines likewise here, in making choice of any, when all most justly deserved to be rejected. And his mercy shines here with an amiable lustre, in receiving and admitting all who
; believe in Jesus into his favour.
4. This was the end that God proposed in that great and astonishing work of redemption. In our redemption by Christ we have the fullest, clearest, and most delightful manifestation of the glory of God that ever was or shall be in this life. All the declarations and manifestations that we have of his glory in the works of creation and commonprovidence, are but dim and obscure in comparison with what is here, Indeed the glory of his wisdom, power, and goodness, is clearly manifested in the works of creation, But the glo of his mercy and love had lain under an eternal eclipse without a Redeemer, God had in several ages of the world pitched upon particular seasons to manifest and discover one or other particular property of his nature. Thus his justice was declared in his drowning the old world with a deluge of water, and burning Sodom with fire from heaven. His truth and power were clearly manifested in freeing the lsraelites from the Egyptian chains, and bringing them out from that miserable bondage. His truth was there illustriously displayedin performing a promise which had lain dormant for the Space of 430 years, and his power in quelling his implacable . enemies by the meanest of his creatures. Again, the glory
of one attribute is more seen in one work than in another: in some things there is more of his goodness, in other things more of his wisdom is seen, and in others more of his power. But in the work of redemption all his perfections and excellencies shine forth in their greatest glory. And this is the end that God proposed in their conversion and regeneration. Hence it is said, Isa. xliii. 21. ‘This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise. Sinners are adopted into God’s family, and made a royal priesthood on this very design, 1 Pet. ii. 9. IV. I come now to consider the properties of God's decrees. 1. They are eternal. God makes no decrees in time, but they were all from eternity. So the decree of election is said to have been ‘before the foundation of the world,' Eph. i. 4. Yea whatever he doth in time, was decreed by him, seeing it was known to him before time, Acts xv. 18. * Known unto God are all his works from the beginning.’ And this foreknowledge is founded on the decree. If the divine decrees were not eternal, God would not be most perfect and unchangeable, but, like weak man, should take new counsels, and would be unable to tell every thing that were to come to pass. 2. They are most wise, “according to the counsel of his will.” God cannot properly deliberate or take counsel, as men do; for he sees all things together and at once. And thus his decrees are made with perfect judgment, and laid in the depth of wisdom, Rom. xi. 33. ‘ O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !” So that nothing is determined that could have been better determined. 3. They are most free, according to the counsel of his own will ; depending on no other, but all flowing from the mere pleasure of his own will, Rom. xi. 34. ‘For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? Whatsoever he decreeth to work without himself, is from his free choice. So his decrees are all absolute, and there are none of them conditional. He has made no decrees suspended on any condition without himself. Neither has he decreed any thing because he saw it would come to pass, or as that which would come to pass on such of such conditions; for then they should be no more accord.