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Howbeit, he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so."

THE sacred history is superior insisted wholly upon second causto other histories, in the following es; but the sacred historian and very important respect; while oth- prophet give us a very different ers detail the operation of mere view of it. It appears from their second causes, this exhibits, in testimony, that this invasion proprominent view, the great First ceeded originally from God. He Cause of all. For instance, a pro- purposed it long before it took fane historian, in recording the place; and at the appointed periconquest of Canaan, would have öd, he moved Sennacherib to exeexpatiated on the valour of Joshua, cute his purpose. He moved this and the bravery of his troops; and haughty monarch to invade the would have attributed the event to Jews, that through him he might the operation of these causes. But punish and reform that hypocritthe sacred historian is careful to ical people. It is erident, howinform us, that it was the Lord ever, from the text, that Sennawho drove out the guilty Canaan- cherib did notmean so, neither ites, and established Israel in the did his heart think so." His views promised land. A profane histo- in this matter were totally differrian, in recording the revolt of the ent from those of the God by whose ten tribes, would have dwelt upon agency he acted. He had noththe folly of Rehoboam's counseling better “in his heart than to lors, and the artifices of Jeroboam; destroy and cut off nations not a and would not have thought of few.” The text, therefore, taken looking farther for the causes of in its connexion, plainly teaches this calamity. But the sacred his- the following sentiment: The motorian assures us, it was because tives of sinners, in accomplishing of God's displeasure with Solo-God's purposes, are totally differmon, that he rent so large a pro- ent from his in disposing them to portion of the kingdom out of the do this. hands of his son, and gave it to In discussing this sentiment, I his servant. And the same kind of propose to shew, remark may be extended to the in- 1. That God disposes sinners to vasion of 'Judea by the king of accomplish his purposes. Assyria. The profane historian, II. What his motives are in doin noticing this event, would have ling this, and,

He pur


III. That their motives in ac- fore cannot be avoided; God does complishing his purposes, are to actuate sinners to accomplish his tally different from these.

purposes. He governs them with I. God moves or disposes sin- a sovereign hand, and disposes ners to accomplish his purposes. them, at pleasure, to execute his This certainly was the case in re- designs. He moves them round spect to Sennacherib; neither is by his resistless agency, and causthis a singular instance.

es them freely to carry into effect posed the descent of Joseph into his infinite and perfect plan. NeiEgypt; and he moved his wicked ther part of these propositions can brethren to accomplish this pur- be denied, without either den ying pose

He purposed the restora- the universality of God's purpostion of his people from Egypt; es, or taking from him the governand he actuated wicked Pharaoh in ment of the moral world. all the circumstances, which pre- II. I proceed to notice, secondceded and accompanied their de ly, the motives of the Deity, in liverance. He hardened the heart causing sinners to accomplish his of that tyrannical despot, and purposes. And it may be obseryinclined him to conduct toed, generally, that his motives in wards the Israelites, as He had this, as in every other part of his previously told Moses he would administration, are purely and disconduct. He purposed the cap- interestedly benevolent. " God tivity of the Jews at Babylon; is love." Benevolence comprises and he disposed Nebuchadnezzar the whole of his moral character. and his army to carry this purpose It is this which moves him in all into effect. 'He purposed also the his dispensations. It is this, and death and sufferings of his own this only, which moves him in his Son; and he moved by his agency agency upon the hearts of sidners. all those wicked hands by which He is not, in respect to this, a sinhe was crucified and slain. In- ner himself, nor does he deviate at

deed, the purposes of God are all from his unchangeable purity. .. strictly universal. They extend

They extend His motives in this, as "in every to all events, both in the natural other part of his administration, and moral world. He hath lite are perfectly benevolent and holy. rally "fore-ordained whatsoever He disposed Sennacherib to accomes to pass.". And the agency complish his purpose, relative to of God is as universal as his pur- an invasion of Judea; and with poses.

“ He worketh all things, his motives in doing this, we are according to the counsel of his own sufficiently acquainted. It was to will." He moves, not only the glorify himself, in the punishment wheels of nature, but the hearts, and reformation of the degenerate the free exercises and actions of and guilty Jews. He disposed the his creatures. Their "hearts are ten sons of Jacob to accomplish in his hand, as the rivers of wa- his purpose, by selling their innoter, and he turneth them whither cent brother for a slave in Egypt; soever he will."

and his motives, in this, were manBut if the purposes of God are ifestly benevolent. He did it that universal, then let sinners turn he might prevent the impending which way they will, they accom- ruin of his church, and save many plish his purposes. Anil if his people alive in a season of famine. agency is universal, then let them He moved Pharaoh to accomplish do what they may, they are actu- his purposes, in all those wicked ated by him. The inference there- | transactions, in which this monarch

was engaged ; and his motives | They meant not so, neither did their herein were benevolent and holy. hearts think so. Their motives He did it, that be might shew forth were perfectly envious, malicious, his glory, and that his name might and selfish. They wished to be debe declared throughout the earth. livered froin one whom they so He actuated the wicked Jews to much hated and feared. Indeed, accomplish his purpose, in perse the motives of sinners in all their cuting and crucifying his beloved conduct, are totally different from Son; and his motives in this were those of the Deity, under whose no less benevolent, than to lay

agency they act.

He means one foundation, in the blood of his thing, and they another. He is Son, for the pardon and salvation perfectly benevolent, and they of a ruined world. And, in short, perfectly selfish. Iu disposing could we follow the Deity in all his sinners to accomplish his purposdispensations—could we ascertain es, his design is to advance' his his motives in all that agency, own glory, and the greatest good; which he has exerted on the hearts and their design, in accomplishing of sinners, in causing them to ex- his purposes, is to promote their ecute his glorious designs; we private individual interests. It should find them in every instance will hold true, therefore, in every possessing the same character-in instance, that the motives of sinevery instance benevolent and ho- ners, in accomplishing the purposly. He has aimed in this, as in es of God, are totally different every part of his administration, froin his, in disposing them to do to glorify bimself, and to accom- this. plish the greatest possible good. The subject gives rise to a num

III. I shall now endeavour to ber of inferences and reflections. shew, that the motives of sinners, 1. We see why God has, in in executing his purposes, are to- some instances, punished sinners tally different from these. When in the present life, for their conSennacherib invaded Judea, it was duct; notwithstanding they have not his benevolent aim to glorify, fully accomplished his purposes, his Maker, in punishing and re- aud acted under his immediate forming a rebellious people. He agency: A moment's attention to meant not so, neither did his heart the Scriptures will satisfy us that think so.

His motives were those he has done this. Sennacherib acof ambition, selfishness and cruel complished the Divine purpose, by ty. It was in his heart to destroy, invading Judea; and he was movand to cut off nations not a few. ed to accomplish this purpose by When the ten sons of Jacob sold God himself. He is represented their brother into Egypt, it was in the context as being, in all this not their intention, by this means, transaction, as completely in the to preserve the church, and to save hand of his Maker, as the axe is themselves and their families alive, in the hand of the hewer; or the in a time of approaching famine. saw in the hand of him who shakTheir motive was, to gratify their eth it; or as the rod and staff are envy, and deliver themselves from in the hands of those who lift them a dangerous rival in the affections up. Yet, when he had fully acof their father. When the Jews complished that for which he was crucified and slew the Lord of sent-and the Lord had carried glory, they had no design in this him by his ageney as far as he to lay a foundation for the pardon pleased; he up his mighty and recovery of a guilty world! I hand, and punished him for going. He sent forth his angel, and smote, God, and are moved round by his of the Assyrians, in one night, an agency; how can he consistently hundred and eighty-five thousand punish them for their conduct? men. Instances similar to this And in view of what has been said, are scattered throughout the Bible. the grounds on which he may do God purposed the destruction of this, and in numerous instances the house of Ahab by the hand of has done it, are not difficult to be Jehu; and he anointed, strength- discovered. The motives of sinened and actuated Jehu to accom- ners in accomplishing his purposplish this purpose. He moved him es, and his motives in actuating to slay, all that remained of them, we have seen, are totally Ahab,' his wife, his children, his different. His motives are purely great men, his kinsfolk, and his benevolent and holy. He is aimpriests, in Jezreel.” But presenting at the promotion of his own ly this same God declares, by the glory, and the greatest possible mouth of his servant Hosea, “I good. But they mean not so, neiwill avenge the blood of Jezreel ther do their hearts think so.upon the house of Jehu, and I will | Their motives, while acting under cause to cease the kingdom of the his agency, and accomplishing bis house of Israel.” God purposed purposes, are wholly selfish, and and predicted the captivity of the wholly sinful. Consequently they Jews in Babylon; and he moved are the proper subjects of his disNebuchadnezzar to accomplish this pleasure and punishment. Senpurpose.

But what is the result? | nacherib and Jehu, and the king * Because, saith the Lord of hosts, of Babylon, and the murderers of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Baby- our Lord, were as deeply guilty, lon, hath broken the bones of my and as proper subjects of Divine people, therefore will I punish the judgmnents in this life, as any perking of Babylon, and his land, as sons, perhaps, that ever existed. I have punished the king of Assy- 2. It follows from the truth esria.”

God purposed the death tablished in this discourse, that and sufferings of his own Son; and God may consistently punish sinhe actuated the wicked Jews to ac- ners with everlasting destruction complish this purpose. So close- for their sins, notwithstanding they ly was his agency concerned in have always been moved by his this transaction, that Christ is said agency, and have been made in all to have been stricken and smit- things to accomplish his purposes. ten of God.Still the Jews, by It is a common argument in favour putting him to death, contracted a of universal salvation, that every degree of guilt which could not be person answers the end for which washed away-which drew down he was made. And not only so, upon them, and on their devoted every one is directed, in all his city, the desolating judgments of conduct, by the irresistible agenthe Most High.

cy of the Supreme Being. We In these several instances, we act, in every instance, as God bave, my friends, not any human moves us to act. How then can theory, but a class of facts, plain- we consistently be punished forly stated in the word of God. ever, for our present conduct? I anThe question is, and it is one in swer; notwithstanding the purposwhich all who believe the Script- es and agency of God, sinners are ures are interested; How shall left in the possession of all possiwe account for them? When sin- ble freedom. They choose as they pers accomplish the purposes of please, and do as they choose, and

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in the exercise of this freedom, a thing; 1, the Lord, have deceived they entertain motives, in accom- that prophet; and I will destroy plishing God's purposes, directly him from the midst of my people the opposite of his, in his agency Israel.” And the prophet Isaiah upon them. While his motives enquires, in the name of the whole are perfectly benevolent and ho- church, “Why hast thou made us ly, theirs are perfectly selfish and to err from thy ways, and hardensinful. Hence it is no excuse for ed our hearts from thy fear?” But them, that they answer the pur- although the agency of God is conpose for which they were made; or cerned in the existence of sin; that they are directed by the irre- our subject teaches us that he is sistible agency of God. The by no means chargeable with sin. question still is, Do they not act He has totally different motives in freely? And do they not act free- causing sin, from those of the sinly, from selfish and wicked mo- ner in practising it. The motives tives? In view of these queries, of those, who live in the practice the sinner's own conscience will of sin, are uniformly selfish. They condemn him. And in view of aim at nothing better than the acthem, hereafter, his mouth will be complishment of their own sinister stopped, when sentenced to de- | designs. But the motives of Deipart into everlasting punishment. ty, in the agency which he exerts

3. It may be inferred from what upon them, are perfectly benevohas been said, that though the lent and holy. He aims at the agency of God is concerned in the promotion of his highest glory, existence of sin, still he is not him and the greatest good. And he self a sinner. It has been consid- aims to accomplish these, through ered difficult to reconcile the ex- the intervention of sin, because istence of sin, with the acknowl- they could be accomplished in no edged purity and perfection of the other way. His motives therefore Supreme Being. Infinite in holi- are perfectly pure; and he is as ness, it has been thought he could benevolent and holy, in the pronot prefer its existence; and as he duction of evil, as in any part of possesses almighty power, he cer- his moral administration. tainly might have prevented it, if In conclusion, I recommend he chose. Hence the question, this subject to the candid and which has been so long and so of prayerful consideration of all who ten agitated, presents itself again hear me. I do this, not only bein all its force, “Whence, and why cause I think it true, but because is evil?Passing over the various the principles, which have been absurd and insufficient hypothesis, established, are, in my estimation, which have been framed for the so- exceedingly important. Without lution of the supposed difficulty; it understanding and admitting them, is certain that sin, like everything much of the inspired volume will else, has come into existence be wholly inexplicable; and many through the agency of the Supreme parts of that system of religion, Being. It has been shewn, that which has been revealed to us from he moves sinners to accomplish his heaven, will be shrouded in needpurposes. Moreover, he says ex-less mystery and darkness. Bepressly, “I form the light, and cre- sides; it is possible the subject ate darkness; I make peace, and may help to strip those of you, create evil; I, the Lord, do all who have hitherto lived in sin, of these things." "If the prophet some of your vain excuses and obbe deceived, when he hath 'spoken Ijections. Have such never been

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