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4. God subjects mankind to greater, more numerous and more surprizing changes, than he does any other of his intelligent creatures, The angels of light hare never been subjected to any great or peculiar changes, since their creation ; and evil angels have experienced but one great and dreadful change. But all mankind, from their birth to their death, are perpetually subject to great, sudden and unexpected changes. Their bodies, their
their minds and all their exter.. nal circumstances are perpetually changing.-What great changes take place in their bodies from infancy to
manhood ? and what great changes take place in their minds from infancy to childhood, from childhood to youth, from youth to man-hood, from manhood to the meridian of life, from that period to the decline of life, and from that period to old age? How differently did a Newton, or a Locke appear in these different stages of life ? Similar changes pass over all the children of men, in all the various stages of their existence on earth. They appear like very different beings, according to the laws of their nature, in a very few years. But besides these regular and natural changes in their bodies and minds, they are subject to ten thousand unforeseon and unexpected changes. Tney are born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward. Their hopes and expectations are sometimes raised and sometimes suddenly and entirely blasted. The rich become poor and the poor become rich. The low are exalted and the exalted abased. they are joyful and another sorrowful. One day they lead and another they are led. One day they are in health, and another they are in pain, sickness and distress. One day they are rejoicing with their friends around them and another they are bereaved and drowned in tears. Such are the changes constantly passing over individuals ; but still greater changes and revolutions are frequently passing over whole nations and kingdoms. So that this whole world is a constant scene of changes and revolutions in the 'state and circumstances of mankind. And as all these are ordered
and brought about by God, so he here gives peculiar displays of his glory, which are not to be seen in any other part of the universe.
5. Here the angels of God behold him forming the moral characters of men for eternity. This is the peculiar work of God, who operates in the hearts of all the children of Adam. And the changes, which he produces in the hearts of men by the special operations of his Spirit, afford great satisfaction and joy to all the benevolent spirits above. We read there is more joy in heaven over one sinner, that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons, that need no repentance. The angels of God probably know the very time, when any sinner is called out of darkness into marvellous light and translated out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of Christ. And this glorious act of divine sovereignty is no where to be seen, but in this world, where God is carrying on his work of special and astonishing grace among his most guilty and ill-deserving creatures. Though the angels of God have seen their fellow-angels changed from holiness to sin in heaven ; yet they have never seen any of their fellow-creatures changed from sin to holiness any where, but in this world, which is a distinction among equally guilty creatures, that eminently displays the awful and glorious sovereignty of God. I may add,
6. The angels of God see him in this world continually calling off mankind from the stage of life and from the state of probation into their future and eternal states. Some he calls fron; temporal life to eternal death ; and some he calls from temporal life to eternal life.
Here the angels of God see him act a part, that they never saw him act in heaven. And this is a most solemn and interesting part, in respect both to themselves and to their fellow creatures, whom they love as themselves. It is undoubtedly a very joyful thing to the guardian angels to give up those, whom they have attended through life, into the hands of God and accompany them to heaven. And it must be no less grievous to the angels, who have the care of impenitent sinners, to quit their charge and see them doomed to everlasting darkness and despair. The distinction, which they see God make in this world, between the vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath, must give them the most clear and impressive sense of the sovereignty, of the mercy, of the faithfulness and of the justice of God. Such a distinction they never did see and never will see him make, in any other parts of the universe. They, therefore, have seen and will see more of the glory of God in this, than in any other world. Here God has done, is doing and will do the greatest things, which display his greatest glory before the eyes of angels and men forever.
1. If angels discover more of the glory of God in this world, than in any other part of the universe ; then we may justly suppose, that this world is, on the whole, better than it would have been, if neither natural nor moral evil had ever entered into it. It is evident, that the angels of heaven view it in this light. They were pleased with it, when it was first created and entirely free from sin and misery ; but they have been better pleased with it since the introduction of natural and moral evil and seen the steps God has taken to bring good out of evil. It is better fitted to display the glory of God now, than it was before the fall of man. It is more eligible to belong to the race of Adam since his apostacy, than it was before he apostatized. It is more eligible to live in this world, bad as it is, than to have lived in it, while it was perfectly holy. Mankind now enjoy better opportunities and means of getting good and of doing good, than they would have had, if they had remained free from sin and misery. God intended, when he made the world, that it should be just such a world as it is. When he created Adam, he meant that he should sin and spread sin and misery among all his posterity and
that his Son should suffer and die to save some of them from both sin and misery. God's original design in making this world has never been defeated by the apostacy of Adam and the sins of his posterity. He sent Christ not to mend the world, but to carry into effect his perfectly wise and holy and benevolent design of creating and redeeming love. He raised up this world to be a staging, upon which the most important transactions were to be done ; and when they are done, he will take it down. The scenes which take place upon earth are vastly greater, more solemn and more instructive, than they could have been, if sin and misery had not existed, the Son of God had not died and sinners had not here been formed into vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath. God has always held a school here, in which he has been training up rational and immortal creatures for their future and eternal destination. God will reap a larger revenue of glory from this, than from any other world ; and mankind will reap a larger portion of holiness and happiness, than if they had lived in any other part of God's wide dominions. For by living in this world, they have done more for God and seen and learnt more of God, than they would any where else. The patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles and all, who will be redeemed from among men, will always have reason to be thankful, that they were the offspring of Adam and lived in the world, where he sinned and fell, where Christ was crucified, where the gospel was preached, where sanctifying grace was given and where, through much tribulation, they were prepared for and translated to heaven, where they will be able to sing a song of gratitude, which the highest angels in heaven cannot learn. This is the best world angels ever saw and the best in which mankind can live, if they only improve it; as they may and ought to improve it.
2. If angels discover the brightest displays of the glory of God in this world ; then it is certain that he treats all mankind perfectly right in all his conduct towards them, in the dispensations of providence and
grace. T'he guardian angels have always been acquainted with his conduct towards every individual of mankind and have always been the most impartial, benevolent and competent judges of the divine conduct towards those, who were committed to their care. And if they had seen a single instance of malevolence, injustice, negligence, or want of benevolence, in the dispensations of divine providence and grace towards any of the children of men, they would not unanimously cry“ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Any misconduct in God, towards any of the human race, would appear a blemish and not a beauty in the view of the holy angels.-Though mankind have always been disposed to call God a hard master, an unjust lawgiver and an unwise governor, yet they have always complained without a
But he has always had reason to complain of them for their complaining of him. He has never ordered any thing unwisely, nor required any thing unreasonably, nor afflicted any one unjustly. Though sin has abounded in this world, yet grace has much more abounded. Though God's judgments have often been in the earth, yet has he filled the earth with his goodness. He has been good to all and his tender mercies have been over all in his works. God has treated all men far better than they deserved, even those, whose hearts he has most deeply wounded. Why should a living man complain ? God has never suffered any more sin and misery to abound in this rebellious world, than his own glory and the good of the universe required. And who can complain of his doing that, which will display his glory in the eyes of all his holy and dutiful subjects ?
3. If angels view this world, as the most important and interesting part of the creation ; then secure sinners are extremely stupid. They see the same world, the same objects, the same persons, the same scenes and the same changes, which angels see and admire ; but they take no notice of the heart and hand and glory of God manifested by them, though they are far