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the glorious work of redeeming grace.
“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” Thus God has set apart the godly for his use here and his glory hereafter. And this, it remains to be shown,
III. Is of importance to be known. It is a great and glorious distinction in favor of the godly, and highly interesting to all intelligent beings, and therefore ought to be universally known. For,
1. It is important that the godly themselves should know their high and holy destination. They cannot feel or act properly without knowing it. It lays them under the strongest and most endearing obligations of gratitude, obedience, and activity in the service of God. An habitual sense of God's goodness in setting them apart for himself, must have a great and happy influence on their grateful hearts, to live and act for him. And,
2. It is important that the world should know, that God has set apart the godly for himself. It tends to give them just views of God, of the godly, and of themselves. There is nothing which generally makes a deeper impression on the minds of sinners, than a realizing sense of the great and awful distinction between them and the godly. It has often fastened a conviction on their conscience, which terminated in their conversion. Let the godly strike you with awe, when you reflect, that the Lord has set them apart for himself.
I shall conclude with one or two reflections.
1. The godly whom the Lord has set apart for himself, ought to set themselves apart for him, by a public profession of supreme love to him and his service.
2. Those who are truly godly, may expect that God will commune with them from off the mercy-seat.
1. If it be a truth of importance to be known, that the Lord hath set apart the godly for himself, then it is an important duty of ministers in their preaching to keep this truth constantly in their own view, and in the view of their hearers. Of all the distinctions which God has ever made among his creatures, the distinction between the godly and the ungodly is the greatest. He has made a great distinction among the angels, in setting apart the holy from the unholy, for himself; but he has made a much greater distinction among the equally
and totally depraved children of Adam, in setting apart the godly from the ungodly, for his own use. This distinction he
. has revealed in his word, from Genesis to the Revelations; and according to this distinction he has been governing the whole world, from the first apostasy to the present day. “ Know then,” says the Psalmist, “ that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself.” God himself enjoined it upon the priests, who were preachers under the law, to make this great truth known to the people. “And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean." Thus saith the Lord to Jeremiah, “If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced, brazen wall : and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, to save thee, and to deliver thee, saith the Lord.” As the distinction between the godly and ungodly is the greatest and most interesting distinction God has ever made, or will make ; so it is of all distinctions the most displeasing to the ungodly. Accordingly, the preachers of the word of God, from age to age, have more generally denied this distinction, or neglected to make it known, than any other distinction in the Bible. Many openly and boldly deny that God ever had a right to set apart the godly for himself, in distinction from the ungodly; and consequently that he never did it. And many, who partly or fully believe that God did from eternity set apart the godly for himself, either neglect to exhibit and support this great distinction, or very rarely and obscurely bring it into view. Indeed they are hardly willing that their people should know that they do believe it, and utterly unwilling to cause their people to know and believe it, by the most plain and forcible arguments they are able to use. Their excuse is, that it is an unprofitable truth to be known, and very unpleasing to the ungodly. That it is displeasing to the ungodly cannot be denied; but that it is unprofitable, none have a right to believe ; for God has revealed it, and commanded his ministers to preach it, as lying at the foundation of the whole gospel. There is, perhaps, no one truth in the Bible which is of more importance to be preached, and to be made clearly known, than the plain, simple truth, that the Lord hath set apart the godly for himself; nor is there any other truth which has fastened a stronger conviction of danger and guilt on the consciences of sinners, and done them more good than this.
2. If God has set apart the godly for himself; then we may conclude, that he has a peculiar regard for them. They are godly. They are like himself. They are holy as he is holy. They love what he loves, and hate what he hates. They love his character, his perfections, his purposes, and all his operations in the works of creation, of providence, and of grace. They bear his image, espouse his cause, and do the things that he has required. They are his cordial friends and faithful servants. They are, therefore, objects of his peculiar complacency and delight. Though he loves all mankind with benevolence, yet he loves none but the godly with complacence. So long as men continue in a state of disaffection and disobedience to him, he views them with disapprobation and displeasure ; but as soon as any renounce their disaffection, and become reconciled to him, he views them as godly, and worthy of his peculiar complacency and regard. He calls them by the most endearing names, and speaks of them in language the most tender and affectionate. He calls them his friends his beloved—his jewels his treasure-his temple—&c. These appellations are expressive of his peculiar affection towards them. And in speaking of them, he uses still stronger expressions of complacency and delight. By the prophet Zephaniah he says to the daughter of Zion, “ The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." God has as clearly manifested his peculiar regard for those whom he has set apart for himself, by his conduct, as by his word. He has always watched over, guarded, and defended them, amidst the combined opposition of the whole ungodly world. This he declares he has done for them. “But now, thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee : therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life." This God declares he has done for those whom he has set apart for himself, and more than this, he promises to do for them in time to come. Speaking of the godly under the similitude of a vineyard, he says, “I the Lord do keep it; I will water it
; every moment, lest any hurt it; I will keep it night and day." Though mankind in general have been so blind and stupid as to disbelieve, that God hath set apart the godly for himself; yet he has given most striking evidence in his word and provi
dence, that he has chosen, formed, and set apart the godly for himself, and employed them as the most efficient and useful instruments in setting up and pulling down kingdoms and nations, and in bringing about the greatest revolutions, that have ever been in the world. All history, whether sacred or profane, gives indubitable evidence, that God continually governs the whole world in subordination to his own glory, and the preservation, protection, and edification of the godly, whom he has set apart for himself, and regards with complacency and delight. When they were few in number, “he suffered no man to do them wrong; yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm."
3. If God has set apart the godly for himself, as instruments of promoting his own glory and the good of the whole universe; then they are worthy of the esteem and regard of the world. Their hearts are enlarged, to desire and promote the good of all mankind. They are not mere lovers of themselves, but lovers of all the children of men, in every part and nation of the world. They seek not their own things, but the things of others. They have actually done more for the temporal and spiritual benefit of mankind, than all the other men in the world. Who ever did more good in the days that they lived, than Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Mosos, David, Samuel, and the prophets ; "who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens ?" Since their day, there have been many godly and eminently useful men, who have been the greatest benefactors to the world. All the godly are the excellent of the earth, and worthy of the esteem and regard of the men of the world, who have always been disposed to despise, to reproach, and oppose them. But God has given them great and precious promises, which may well support and encourage them to go on in doing good to the evil and unthankful.
4. If God has set apart the godly for his own use; then they hold a high and important station in the world. He has entrusted the infinitely important interests of religion to their care and fidelity. It has been owing to the godly, that religion has not been banished from the world ages and ages ago. The godly preserved religion from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Christ, and from Christ to this day. We are indebted to the godly for all the religious privileges and advantages we enjoy. The godly
brought the Bible, the Sabbath, public worship, and family worship, from their native country to this. The godly planted, preserved, and multiplied our churches. The godly set up and maintained public worship, and set the example of religious worship in families. And notwithstanding all the men of the world say and do, to maintain divine ordinances and divine worship, they would everywhere become extinct, were it not for the faith, the zeal, example, and exertions of the godly. In any place, where the godly fail in numbers and zeal, religion and all divine ordinances languish and die. There are not a few such melancholy cases to be found at this enlightened day, and enlightened part of the world. If the godly should neglect to keep the Sabbath, would not the ungodly neglect it? If the godly should neglect public worship, would not the ungodly neglect it? If the godly should neglect the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper, would not the ungodly totally disregard them? If the godly should entirely neglect family prayer, would not the ungodly disregard and despise it? Would not every form of religion disappear, if the godly did not keep it up? God has set apart the godly for himself and lodged the great interests of religion in their hands, and it will everywhere flourish, or decay, according as they are faithful or unfaithful in discharging the solemn trust reposed in them. The godly in every town or parish are the pillars and ground of the truth, and if these fall anywhere, the truth will fail with them; and they must answer for the unhappy consequences of their unfaithfulness.
5. Since the Lord hath set apart the godly to be his servants in promoting his cause in the world, it is their indispensable duty to be united in affection, in sentiment, and in practice. They ought to love as brethren, be joined together in the same mind, speak the same things, and set the same example before one another, and before the ungodly world. Let them be united in these respects, and they will encourage each other's hearts, strengthen each other's hands, and inspire each other with fortitude, resolution, and zeal, in the work of the Lord. But if they cherish mutual discord, imbibe different religious sentiments, and set different examples, they will counteract and defeat each other's exertions, and lose all their strength. These are the unhappy causes which weaken the strength of many churches at the present day, and expose them to the reproach of the world. If one member neglects to keep the Sabbath; if another neglects to attend public worship; if another does not punctually come to the table of Christ; if another does not avoid all appearance of evil; if another does not maintain the