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stance of the gospel mystery, that as all things were made by Christ, so the government of them is put into his hands—that he has opened a way in which God's rebellious subjects, in this part of the creation, may be restored to favor--that he is ordained head over all things for the church—that he gives laws and annexes their sanctions—that he will finally dispense rewards and punishments to different characters, and then will give up the kingdom to the Father.
As the riches of Christ were unscarchable to reason, so they were but imperfectly made known in the prophetic revelation. Alluding to the words of Isaiah, the Apostlc says, “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nei. ther have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him ; but God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit ; for the Spirit searcheth all things ; yea, the deep things of God."
One part of the mystery of Godliness was, “ that Christ should be preached to the Gentiles.” Of this the Jews had no apprehension. To the Apostles themselves it was matter of admiration, that “ God had granted to the Gentiles, repentance unto life.” It was “ by revelation” that “God made known to Paul the mystery, which in other ages had not been made known to the sons of men, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body” with the Jews, “ and partakers” with them “ of his promise in Christ by the gospel."
The riches of Christ are of inestimable value. They are such as could not be purchased by silver and gold. His own precious blood was the only adequate price for them. He has taught us, that worlds could not redeem one soul that is lost. Who then can conceive the worth of that redemption, which is sufficient for all sinners, and will be applied to all who penitently and thankfully accept it?
In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge-all the riches of grace and mercy. “God
grant us, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that we may “ discern something of his manifold wisdom, and may, according to the measure of saints, “ be able to comprehend what is the length, and breadth, and height, and depth, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.”
What abundant cause of joy and gratitude have we, who by nature are sinners of the Gentiles, that we have been called to partake of these unsearchable riches? With what pleasure should we read—with what transport should we hear the gospel of our salvation ? This discovers to us wonders which human reason could not have searched out, and proclaims to us blessings which human virtue could never have secured.
Ye sons of poverty and want ; go take a share in these unsearchable riches. Vain are worldly treasures, and worldly pursuits. No longer spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which cannot satisfy ; but eat that which is good, and let your souls delight in fatness. Seek durable and substantial richesseek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. “ The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hid in a field, which, when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof, goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” Go, make this purchase, and you will at once possess unsearchable riches.
Let us now,
IV. Consider what grand and enlarged conceptions the Apostle entertained of the design and importance of his ministry.
The primary and immediate object of it, he tells us, was to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which was hidden from ages.” It was to open to mankind that mighty scheme, which the wis: dom of God had formed, and which his goodness had, for ages, been carrying into execution for the redemp. tion of our fallen race. When Jesus first appeared un. to Paul, he said to him, “ I will make thee a minister, and a witness of the things which thou hast seen, and in which I shall appear to thee ; and I will send thee to the people and to the Gentiles, to open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.” To this heavenly vision Paul was not disobedient, but shewed to all men among whom he preached, “that they must repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” The great theme of his preaching was the salvation of sinners throug! Christ, in a way of repentance. He preached Christ the Saviour, not of Jews only but of Gentiles also-of all who believe, whatever might be their character, condition or nation.
The manner of his preaching was plain and famil. iar. He preached the unsearchable riches of Christ, with an intent that all men might see and know them.
His preaching tended to peace and union. It was not his object to form parties here and there, under different names, but to bring all, whether Jews or Gentiles, into one body, and into fellowship one with another. He taught all Christians, in every place, to consider themselves as citizens of one great communi. ty, subjects of one common Lord, partakers of the same privileges, heirs of the same inheritance, and to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. How different was our Apostle from those misguided zealots, who interrupt the fellowship of Christians, and sow discord among brethren by teaching their partizans to say to others, “Stand by yourselves, come not near to us, for we are holier than you !"_" Mark them who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have received, and avoid them ; For they who are such serve not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly.”
Paul's ministry was designed for the benefit, not of men only, but of angels too. He
He preached the un.
searchable riches of Christ, “ That now unto principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.”
The angels learn much of the wisdom of God from his works. When he laid the foundations of the earth, • “they sang together and shouted for joy." And still
they praise him, ascribing to him glory, honor and power, because he has created all things, and for his pleasure they are, and were created.” If from these works they learn God's character, they doubtless understand it more perfectly from the dispensation of his grace to fallen men. Into this they desire to look ; for in this his wisdom, holiness, mercy and truth are most gloriously displayed. They were sent to foretel the birth of the Saviour, and of John, his forerunner. When the Redeemer was born, they came to notify the happy event to the shepherds in the field ; and on this occasion they glorified God in anthems of praise. They attended Jesus in his temptations, and strength. ened him in his sufferings. They watched his sepul. chre while he slept, opened it when he arose, and conveyed the tidings of his resurrection to his anxious friends. They were present at his ascension, and testified to his disciples his entrance into his glory. They are all ministering Spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation. They aided the primitive preachers in their labors and protected them in their dangers. They visited, and still they visit the worshipping assemblies of Christians to observe what passes there. Hence Paul enjoins on Christians a de. cent deportment in the house of prayer, “because of the angels.” And hence he charges ministers, " in the presence of the elect angels,” to be faithful in their office.
Now if angels were present in the churches when first the gospel was preached, they learnt more of God's manifold wisdom, than ever they had known before. The mystery of divine grace to guilty men was unsearchable to angels, till it was revealed by the Spirit to the Apostles, and by them opened and proclaimed to the world. They had before seen the wis, dom, power and goodness of God in creation and providence ; but the display of his manifold wisdom, and of his abundant grace in the redemption of men by the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of his Son, opened a new scene of wonders, and afforded new themes of praise. Now they beheld that, which before they had never seen, and but imperfectly conceived, the Son of God assuming humanity, dying for the guilty, rising from the grave, ascending to glory, shedding down the Spirit, commissioning Apostles, and sending them forth to proclaim pardon and life to the chief of sinners. Accordingly in the revelation, they are said to sing a new song ; not only the song of Moses, which they had beer used to sing ; Thou art worthy to receive glory, for thou hast created all things ; but also the song of the Lamb: Thou art worthy to receive blessing and praise, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.—
Though they are not the immediate subjects of this redemption, having kept their first state, yet they join in the song of Saints, who have been redeemed from the earth. Such is their benevolence—such their joy for the redemption of fallen men—such their admiration of God's new discovered grace to sinners, that they take into their own mouths the song of saints ; " Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us by thy blood." The Apostle adds, “ I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and honor, and glory, and blessing." And every creature joined in the anthem, saying, “ Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever."