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The same subject is treated by St. Peter in his first epistle, where he speaks of that full “salvation," which is to be considered as the “end” or recompence of “faith.” 1 Peter i. 9. “Of which salvation,” saith he, “the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven ; which things the angels desire to look into.” 1 Peter i. 10–12. “Happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.” 1 Peter iv. 14. “ Ye are a chosen generation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his mar vellous light.” 1 Peter ii. 9.

Without an experimental knowledge of these several states, a minister can no more lead sinners to evangelical perfection, than an illiterate peasant can communicate sufficient intelligence to his rustic companions to pass an examination for the highest degree in a university. It

may here be necessary to mark out the grand truths by which these dispensations are severally characterized.

The common language under the dispensation of the Father is as follows —“God hath made of one blood all nations of men, and hath appointed the bounds of their habitation, that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” Acts xvii. 26, 27. God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared," in different degrees, “ to all men.” Titus ii. 11. “For the living God is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe.” 1 Tim. iv. 10. “ God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." Acts x. 34, 35. “Without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh

“The grace of

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unto God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb. xi. 6. “ He hath showed thee, O man, what is good ; and what

; doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ?” Micah vi. 8. Observe the language of the Son's dispensation. “Glory

" to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.

I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people ; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke ii. 10,11,14. “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," John i. 17, “who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." 2 Tim. i. 10. “ The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” John iv. 23. “ Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” John xiv. 1. “ If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John viii. 36. 6. This is the work of God, that

ye believe on him whom he hath sent. No man can come unto me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw

and every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” John vi. 29, 44, 45. that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life : and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John ii. 36.

The dispensation of the Spirit is again distinguished by the following peculiar language :-“This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel : In the last days," or under the last dispensations of my grace, “ saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, upon my servants, and upon my handmaidens; and they shall prophesy. Jesus, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, hath shed forth this” plenitude of grace, the effects of “which ye now see and hear. Repent,” therefore, “and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off,


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even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts üi. 16, 39.

If at any time it is to be apprehended, that believers are still carnal, and unrenewed by the Spirit of God, the pastor who is conversant with these different economies of grace inquires with St. Paul, “ Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed ?" Acts xix. 2. When others among his flock demonstrate, both by their conversation and conduct, that they are influenced by the Spirit of Christ, he exhorts them in a manner suitable to the glorious dispensation under which they live.

6 Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost ; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” 1 Cor. vi. 11, 19, 20. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Eph. iv. 30. “ Be filled with the Spirit ; speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody in your hearts unto the Lord.” Eph. v. 18, 19. “ Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.” 1 Thess. v. 16—18.

This language is too elevated for natural men, who understand it no more than illiterate persons comprehend the most abstruse parts of science. Hence, it is necessary, that the faithful minister should acquaint himself with the different conditions and capacities of all his hearers, if he would happily accommodate spiritual things to spiritual

Without this knowledge, he will, under every dispensation, run the hazard of refusing to advanced Christians the solid nourishment they need, and of presenting to the natural man that celestial manna which his very soul abhors.


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If the light of the gospel had been due from God to every individual sinner; if he had not been left entirely free, in every sense of the word, to impart it to whom, at

what time, and in what degree soever was most pleasing to himself; his impartial justice would then have engaged him equally to illuminate all mankind, and he must have caused the sun of righteousness, immediately after the fall, to have shone out in its meridian brightness. In such case, there would have been but one dispensation of grace; and the light of the gospel would not have

proceeded to its highest glory by such just gradations as are observable in all the productions of nature.

But the Almighty has proceeded in the work of our redemption according to the dictates of his own unerring wisdom, and not upon the plans of our pretended sages. The day of the Gospel, whether it be considered as enlightening the world in general, or the heart in particular, rises, like the natural day, from one degree of brightness to another, till all its glories are fully manifested.

The confusion which many divines have spread over this part of theology, makes it necessary to go into particulars, that we may place in a just point of view both the gradations and the harmony of those three dispensations which collectively form the glorious gospel of God.

If some naturalists were determined to confine their observations


the rainbow to those lines in it that are manifestly red; if naturalists of another class obstinate in contemplating those of an orange hue; and if others were as resolutely bent in singling out those of a blue colour ; they would contradict and dispute with each in as ridiculous a manner as many ignorant worshippers of the triune God are observed to do at this day. Thus deists dispute for the honour of God the Creator; and while some Christians pay

all their homage to God the Redeemer, others are as wholly taken up with God the Sanctifier. Amid all the confusion of these jarring sentiments, the prudent pastor admits, in their proper place, the various dispensations of evangelical light, conducting his followers from faith to faith, till he beholds them illuminated with all the truths and experiencing all the power of the Christian religion.

We acknowledge that God is just, though the light of the natural sun approaches us only in a gradual manner,

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producing a constant variety both in our days and seasons. We do not accuse the supreme Being of injustice because he is not pleased to bring the fruits of the earth in an instant to their highest maturity, or because the same species of fruit which is esteemed for its delicious flavour in one climate is found worthless and insipid in another. And if the Sovereign of the world is not expected to ripen on a sudden, either the reason of individuals, or the knowledge of nations, it should not be matter of surprise to observe him acting in his usual manner with respect to things of a spiritual nature. His plans are all equally wise; but it is impossible for man to form a perfect judgment of them, unless the creature could stand for a moment in the place of the Creator, and take one comprehensive view of earth and heaven, time and eternity. If “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years," when he is pleased, in an unexpected manner, to fulfil his grand designs, and a “thousand years as one day," 2 Peter iii. 8, when he sees good to accomplish his purposes in a more gradual way, why should it so strangely afflict and amaze us, that he has left the human race in a state of suspense, with regard to his unsearchable counsels, for near six thousand years ? The time is coming when he will discover to us that stupendous plan which, in our present circumstances, we contemplate with every disadvantage; and just as an animalcule, whose life is limited to six hours, would contemplate the plan of an immense palace, which a skilful architect had promised to complete in as many years. Supposing such an insect endued with reason, and coming into existence during the night, should blindly crawl among the loose materials of which the intended edifice was to be constructed, what opinion could it form either of the architect, or his plan? Would not this insignificant creature be led to judge of these matters as the pretended philosopher inconsiderately judges of that mysterious plan upon which the Almighty is erecting the temple of truth, and creating an incorruptible world ? If the Creator thought it necessary to employ six days in completing the beauties of the material world; and if the Redeemer judges it expedient progress


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