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the manifold wisdom and goodness of God to such as
Not only does the impartial grace which we have seen in the doctrine of election lead us to love all men, and to do good to all men, but it shows us that we are no better than those who are blind respecting this divine and glorious system of truth. This doctrine naturally leads the believer to pity the blindness of those who do not see; but it gives the consoling anticipation of the final reconciliation of all things through Jesus Christ our Lord. It fills the heart with gratitude to God, who so wisely planned and so graciously designed the blindness of the house of Israel, that thereby salvation might come unto the Gentiles; and bas so crdained in his impartial goodness, that the blinded Jews shall eventually obtain the mercy now enjoyed by the Gentiles. Thus of the twain, the wisdom of God makes one new man, so making peace. Therefore we read ; “Rejoice ye Gentiles with his people. And again, praise the Lord, all
Gentiles; and laud him all ye people.”
GOD RECONCILING THE WORLD UNTO HIMSELF, THROUGH
II. CORINTHIANS, v. 18, 19, 20.
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Chr st, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their tres. passes unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Chi as though God did beseech you hy us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
It is a peculiar and distinguishing characteristic of the gospel dispensation, that it exhibits a new order of things, brings the glad tidings of better things than were before understood, sheds a clearer light on mental vision than was before enjoyed, makes a brighter manifestation of the gracious designs of the wisdom of God than was made by the legal dispensation, and creates new views, new desires, and new affections of heart. The gospel of God our Saviour, contemplates the world of mankind as being in a state of death, from which state its divine efficacies were designed to quicken man into newness of life by the spirit of truth. These suggestions seem to be embraced by the Apostle in our context where he says ; “ The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead : and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we
Therefore, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new.
him no more.
Applied to the Jewish converts, these words of the Apostle are designed to notice the passing away of the legal dispensation with all its rites, and the introduction of the better covenant and more excellent ministry of the gospel; and as they apply to Gentile believers they reregard the total overthrow of all the idols and idol worship among the heathen, and their reformation to the knowledge, laws and ordinances of the gospel of Christ.
To these new things the Apostle alludes in our text, and says; "all things are of God, who hath reconciled us unto himself,” &c.
The first particular subject of our text is what is embraced in the reconciliation of the ambassadors of Christ to God. Concerning this subject the Apostle's testimony makes the following things evident. Ist. That they had been in a state of unreconciliation. 2. That the whole process, from the beginning to the end of the work of their reconciliation was of God. 3d. That this work was effected by Jesus Christ. Perhaps no man was ever more unreconciled to God, to Christ, or to the gospel than the author of our text had been; and it was well known to him that he was not the author of those means by which he became reconciled. He well knew that the knowledge of Jesus, in the excellency of which he afterward so much rejoiced was by no means the object of his enquiry or pursuit at the time and on the occasion to which he refers when giving an account of his miraculous conversion to christianity. He often adverted to his views, his designs, and to his conduct while opposed to the gospel, but in no instance did he give any intimation that he obtained the grace of the Saviour in consequence
of his own faithful exertions. Similar remarks may justly be made respecting the Apostles who were chosen by our divine Redeemer during his personal ministry. Some he called from a lucrative office under the Roman government, others from the laborious employment of fishermen; but it is evident that the Saviour made his own selections without regard to the wisdom
will of his chosen, for he informed them as follows ;
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, that you should go and bring forth fruit." Indeed there is an evident absurdity in the supposition that God reconciles any to himself on account of their good works, for those who are obedient unto righteousness are not unreconciled to God. For want of making proper distinctions between causes and effects, many well meaning and pious people have maintained that the divine favor is to be obtained by the penitence, faith, and good works of men not discerning clearly, that repentance, faith and good works are the effects and not the causes of the favor of God. Let us here indulge a simile. A number of children, at that age when passions and fancy are vastly more powerful than reason and solid judgment, leave the paternal mansion, disgusted at the rules of prudence, industry and economy established in the domestic circle, in quest of fancied pleasures in the indulgence of those passions which grow restless under restraint. The race is short; they soon fall into wretchedness and want, but do not yet understand their errors. To save them from this sad condition the still affectionate father undertakes to make such communications to them as may convince them of the propriety of his laws, the indispensable necessity of his prudence and economy for the good of his family, and to reconcile them to himself. The means which the father uses for the purpose mentioned are so wisely planned, and so well executed that they eventuate in effecting the deserved object. The children become convinced of the excellency of those laws and regulations at which they were so much offended, they see the madness and folly of their wicked indulgences, sorrow of heart and sincere repentance are effectually wrought in them, and they finally return to their gracious parent and devote themselves to his service, which is now no longer grievous, but joyous. Would it be at all reasonable for these reformed children to believe that their repentance and return to their parent were means which obtained the love and good will of their father? Surely it would be most unreasonable, for it is evident
that the children's repentance and return were the effects and not the causes of the parental kindness. In the enjoyment of all the blessings of their father's house, and with a clear understanding concerning all these circumstances, inight they not say with great propriety, All things are of our wise and most merciful Father, who hath reconciled us unto himself.
Let us, in the next place, lend our attention to the consideration of these words in our text; “ and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation." By these words we learn that the same ministry, by which the ambassadors of Christ were reconciled to God, was given to them for the purpose of reconciling others; by which the following facts are clearly suggested. 1st. That mankind at large, to whom the Apostles were directed to preach the gospel, were in the same state of unreconciliation in which these ambassadors of Christ had been, and from which the ministry of divine grace
had reclaimed them. 2. That the same divine favor, by which these ambassadors were reconciled to God, is treasured up in the gospel ministry for those who remain unreconciled ; and 3d. That the ambassadors of Christ have nothing to administer to the unbelieving and unreconciled but such as has been administered to them, by which they became reconciled to God. These facts are evidently embraced in this part of our subject and deserve a careful attention. By losing sight of these things, the minister of the word is exposed to corrupt it, and in room of administering the pure gospel of reconciliation, as it has been communicated to himself, he may imagine himself authorised to deal with others in a very different manner from that in which the divine favor was administered
Without any design to trouble the feelings of those who entertain sentiments differing from our own, but with a humble desire to reflect light on our subject, let us ask if we have any information which authorizes us to believe that St. Paul was threatened with the everlasting vengeance of an incensed, vindictive wrath unless he repented of his sins and believed in the Lord