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exercise the same spirit and disposition which we believe our Father in heaven possesses; and we shall justify ourselves in so doing by the divine authority. Those who have and maintain this erroneous belief, are seldom if ever at a loss to know who the friends of God are, and who are his enemies. They are persuaded that they have the true faith, that they are the friends of God, and of course God is their friend ; loves them, and will do good to them ; but those who subscribe not to the same particular creed, are enemies to God, are the objects of his wrath and of their most bitter enmity. Such people will effect great concern for those whom they esteem as the enemies of the true faith, and will frequently exhort them to make God their friend, to delay no time in bringing themselves to those terms and to that condition which will secure the good will of our Father who is in heaven. But the only way that this can be done, is to become conformed to the particular creed and formalities of those who stile themselves the friends of God. Why did not our blessed Redeemer in the room of teaching men that their Father in heaven loves his enemies, and that they must love their enemies in order to be like him, exhort them, as we are frequently exhorted, to make our Father in heaven our friend? Answer, because such an exhortation implies that God is no better than the publicans, who love those that love them, and is calculated to maintain all the partiality in faith and practice from which Jesus came to save the world.
To conclude ; Let us, my brethren, endeavor to seek to the foundation of our religion, learn the true character of our Father in heaven, and be cautious that we never consent to any beliet, which in any way involves the notion that God ever was or ever can be an enemy to any of the works of his hands. And on the immoveable rock of God's impartial love to all men, let our faith and our hope rest; but not forgetting that the benefits of this heavenly doctrine of love divine can never be realised until it works in us a conformity to its requirements, and brings us into that heavenly tem
per and spirit by which we shall love our enemier, do good to them that hate us, and pray in faith, nothing doubting, for those who despitefully use us and persecute us. Let us open our eyes to the visible signs of the love and goodness of God, and read the instructive lectures, which are delivered by a beneficent providence every day and every hour, and by them learn that wisdom which is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
THE LAW CONSISTENT WITH THE PROMISES.
GALATIANS, jii. 21.
Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid."
By the manner of the Apostle's writing in this epistle, it appears evident that christians, even as early as the time of the Apostles, were strongly inclined to the opinion, that the works of the law were necessary to give validity and efficacy to the gospel of Jesus Christ. To this agrees the account we have in the 15th of Acts, where we are informed that “ certain men, which came down from Judea” to Antioch,
taught the brethren and said, except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” From such sentiments it appears the Apostle labored with great earnestness to dissuade his brethren. The chapter from which our text is chosen begins as follows; “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that
ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you; received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh ?” A little attention to this subject will discover that by law and flesh the author means the same thing. He endeavored to explain to his christian brethren the design and utility of the law, and to show that it had neither power to give the life of faith, or to render the promises of the gospel covenant without effect. He stated the important question on which his whole argument rested, and answered it in our text; "Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid.” Whatever is contained in the promises of God, be it ever so much or ever so good, it is not in the least subject to be rendered null or even diminished in the least degree by the law; and on the other hand the promises of God do in no wise frustrate the law, but the doctrine of the divine promises does in fact establish the law. To this effect are the words of the Apostles to the Romans ; “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid ! yea, we establish the law.” Moreover Jesus himself said ; “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
Our first inquiry may be directed to ascertain what is contained in the promises of God. This subject is of the utmost importance, and if duly considered cannot fail to engage the attention of hearer, and draw the mind of each individual present to an entire devotion to the inquiry proposed. The audience will not feel, on this subject, an idle indifference scarcely to be avoided while listening to declamations, authorised only by human imaginations. Nor can any part of the congregation feel a less interest in the subject than the rest, for the promises about to be examined are expressive of the will of our Father in heaven of whose divine bounty we are all equal heirs.
It is natural for children to listen with attention and solicitude to the reading of the will of an earthly parent, even where there is but little left for the heirs, for they greatly desire to know if the same good will and impartial favor be discoverable in the last expressions and latest testimony of parental love, as had evidently marked the parent's conduct through life. But where a vast fortune is left in legacies, self interest, that ruling passion of the soul, renders attention active, and every one is wide awake; and anxious to know the contents of this final testament. How much more then shall we be desirous to acquaint ourselves with the promises of our heavenly Father which ex
press what he hath laid up for us in the covenant of his grace? With what impressions of mind ought we to commence this research? Is it proper that we begin this examination with prepossessions of mind most favorable to limited and ungenerous principles, or such as better correspond with the divine goodness continually manifested in a boundless, rich, and munificent providence? If simple nature alone had been our instructor, if we had not been educated in a belief which limits the holy One, if we were left to judge of the goodness of the divine Being, respecting the moral and spiritual interests of his creatures from his impartial goodness in his temporal providence, have we the least reason to believe that we should be in possession of notions opposed to the universality of divine mercy? But unhappily for us, we have early imbibed illiberal views of God and his goodness, and under this embarrassment we stand opposed to rational views of universal goodness; hence in treating the subject proposed, arguments are needed which may tend to do away our prejudices, and to establish in our minds a doctrine which will be seen to harmonize with the wonderful works and universal goodness of God.
The promises of God of which the Apostle spake in the text are those made to Abraham, which we may learn from the following in the context; “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not and to seeds, as of many; but as of one,
and to thy seed, which is Christ.” These promises made to Abraham in Christ, the apostle calls a covenant, a he expresses in his next words; " And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance of the the law, it is no more of promise ; but God gave Abraham by promise." By this scripture we learn that the promises made to Abraham are called a covenant which was confirmed in Christ; and that which the promises contain, is called an inheritance. The promises to Abraham are recorded, Genesis xii