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body of men on earth, that are perfectly safe in this evil and dangerous world. And none are safe but those who heartily unite with them. Why then are there so many, who think and say, that they are friendly to the Church, but yet fear to have their names enrolled with them? Is it not because they are slow of heart to believe, that the Church are so strong and so terrible to the world as the Bible represents? This is wrong and inexcusable.
Finally, let all inquire whether they are friends, or foes, to God and to all good. It is a serious inquiry, but now is a proper time to make it. 19A YHT
SAINTS, AS THEY APPEAR TO GOD.
"HE hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel."-Numbers, xxiii. 21.
BALAK, the king of Moab, being alarmed at the approach of Israel, sent for Balaam, the son of Beor, to come and curse his invading enemy. But though Balaam was hostile to Israel, and to the God of Israel, and wished to comply with Balak's request, yet God, by a controlling influence over his heart, disposed him to bless, instead of cursing Israel. This Balaam expressly declares in the verse before the text. "Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it." The next words are, "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel." Jacob and Israel are here synonymous appellations, and both denote Israelites indeed, or the peculiar friends and favorites of God. This warrants us to say,
That God sees no moral deformity or imperfections in saints. Though this proposition seems to be paradoxical, yet I shall endeavor to illustrate the truth and propriety of it, by various representations of scripture. I shall begin with observing,
That the scripture represents particular saints as perfect. God says that "Noah was a just man, and perfect in his erations." He gives the same character to Job. "And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" David says, "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace." And speaking of the wicked, he says, "They shoot in secret at the perfect." Solomon likewise uses the same phraseology. "For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it." Paul says of
himself and other apostles, "We speak wisdom among them
But how can this be true? Does not the all-seeing and heart-searching God view saints just as they are? And are they really free from all deformity and imperfections? Or do they view themselves in this light? The Church seems to acknowledge her uncomeliness, by saying, "Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept." Does not Paul speak the language of all true saints,
when he cries, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" How then can God be said to view saints as perfectly amiable, without the least spot or moral deformity? He must have some peculiar views of them, to justify and explain such representations as have been mentioned. And it is true, that he actually does view them in a peculiar light. He sees their whole character at one clear and comprehensive view. He sees them as they have been, as they are, and as they will be, all at once. He has one entire and intuitive view of them from eternity unto eternity. He loved them before the foundation of the world; he loves them now; and always will love them. They have always been the obJects of his complacency and delight. For in his view they have always been possessed of all the amiable qualities that will adorn and beautify them, through every period of their existence. And in scripture God speaks of them as they appear to him, perfectly amiable and excellent. Nor is this either strange or absurd, since, as far as we are able, we view things in such a complex and extensive light. The parent does not view the want of strength, the want of knowledge, or the want of speech, in his infant child, as a blemish or imperfection. But why not? The reason is, he views the infant as a man in miniature. He sees him not only as he is, but as he will be, when age shall have given him strength, intelligence, vivacity, speech, and sprightliness. And when he arrives at years of manhood, the parent no longer sees in him the follies and foibles of childhood and youth, but views him as he is, and probably will be in the future scenes of life. We are continually viewing objects in this complex and comprehensive light. All our valuable possessions derive their greatest worth and importance from viewing them, not merely as what they are at present, but as what they will be in their future connections and consequences. And since God has one intuitive, comprehensive view of saints, there is a propriety in his representing them as they now appear to him, after their present deformity and imperfection shall have been swallowed up, and they shall have arrived at the perfection of moral beauty and excellence.
1. Viewing them in this light, he sees them all as completely forgiven. And complete forgiveness is complete reconciliation. When we completely forgive any of our fellow men who have injured us, we become completely reconciled to them, and view them as amiable as we did before they had offended, and indeed more amiable. It is true, there is a partial forgiveness, which implies only a partial reconciliation; but perfect forgiveness always implies perfect reconciliation. So, having perfectly
forgiven saints, God is perfectly resigned to them, and sees no iniquity or perverseness in them. This is plainly the scripture representation of divine forgiveness. It is represented under a variety of metaphors, which convey the same idea. God is said to forget the sins of saints. Jer. xxxi. 34. "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more." God is said to cast their sins into the bottom of the sea. Mic. vii.
18. "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.' God is said to cover
their sins. "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." And God is said to blot out their sins. "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud, thy sins." All these metaphors imply, that in forgiving the sins of saints, God becomes completely reconciled to them. What iniquity or perverseness can he see in them, after he has forgotten, covered, blotted out, and cast all their sins into the depths of the sea? When therefore he views them in this light of forgiveness, he must view them as without spot, or wrinkle, or view them as perfectly beautiful and amiable.
2. Seeing them in one complex and comprehensive view, God looks upon them as not only pardoned, but completely purified from all their dross and tin, or moral imperfections. He has begun a good work in them, which he has determined to carry on until the day of Jesus Christ, when they will become perfect in holiness, and without blame before him in love. They are constantly approaching nearer and nearer towards perfection, and will soon arrive at the full stature of perfect men in Christ Jesus. The moment they enter the gates of heaven, they will throw off all their moral deformities, and put on the white and clean robes of unsullied righteousness. The apostle, speaking on this subject, says, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." And as saints will be completely