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SERMON XLL-THE GRATITUDE OF FAITHFUL MINISTERS AT
SAINTS SET APART FOR GOD.
"BUT know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself."Psalm iv. 3.
GOOD men are deeply impressed with a sense of the wide distinction between saints and sinners. They look upon it as the greatest of all distinctions among men. And though the sacred writers mention worldly distinctions, yet they say much more about that essential distinction which God makes between the godly and ungodly. If you should read all the books in the world, you would not find this distinction so clearly and constantly mentioned, and so emphatically marked, by any uninspired writers. Nor do we find, in reading all the sacred books from Genesis to Job, so much said about this distinction, as in this book of Psalms. Here we find one continued contrast between the spirit and character of saints and sinners. David begins his book of devotion, with a description of the godly and the ungodly, and of their diverse views, feelings, and conduct through life, and of their final separation at the day of decision; and he never loses sight of these two characters through the whole of his writings. This indicates, that the distinction is very important and interesting. But he does not leave us to draw this conclusion merely from his mode of writing, but expressly calls upon us to attend to this essential distinction, which God has been pleased to make among the fallen race of Adam. "But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself." This is not a mere declaration; but a command-know that the Lord hath made this distinction, however unwilling you may be to know and believe it. The plain and obvious meaning of the text may be comprised in this general observation:
It is important to be known, that God has set apart the godly from the rest of the world, for his own use.
I shall show,
I. What is implied in God's setting apart the godly from the rest of the world.
II. That he has set them apart for his own use.
III. That this is of importance to be known.
I. Let us consider what is implied in the Lord's setting apart the godly from the rest of the world. Here it may be observed, 1. That this implies that God always intended to set them apart from the world. He never does anything but what he always intended to do. "He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will;" and this counsel was formed from eternity. He must, therefore, have designed to set apart all the godly, whom he will finally set apart from the world, before the world began. Accordingly, the Bible represents all the godly as chosen to their character and condition from eternity. The doctrine of eternal election is clearly and abundantly taught by the sacred writers. It may be sufficient, however, to mention one passage in Paul's epistle to the Ephesians. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." The apostle here means to include all the godly from the beginning to the end of time. God knew exactly how many of the human race he should have occasion to employ in his service, and just so many he predestinated to bear his image, or to become godly, before he laid the foundation of the world. All these were set apart from the rest of mankind, in the divine purpose, from eternity. They were then chosen out of the world, or from the general mass of mankind, to be holy, useful, and happy forever.
2. God's setting apart the godly from the rest of the world implies that they were, before they were set apart, just like other men, ungodly. All men are by nature children of wrath, and dead in trespasses and sins. There is no moral difference between the elect and non-elect, before the elect become godly. If they were all by nature godly, there could be no occasion of God's setting apart one rather than another for himself. But since they are all by nature unholy and unfit for his service, he may see good reason to set apart some to be godly and fitted for his service. This leads me to observe,
3. That God's setting apart the godly from the rest of the world, implies that he gives them a heart after his own heart, or makes them godly. This is the general representation of scripture. The godly are the workmanship of God. He takes away their stony hearts, and gives them hearts of flesh. translates them out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom