Wherein he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Take the smallest, most insignificant, most unnoticed object in nature — the particle of sand, the blade of grass, the drop of water — the worm, the insect — whatever hides in the crevice of the rock or wheels imperceptible in the eddy of the air — add to these whatever is most vast and stupendous, the mountain, the ocean, the glorious handiwork of the firmament, moons, planets, suns, vibrating in boundless space through their range of sweep and with their precision of revolution, inlaid as in a texture, marshalled as a host; all, when presented to our eye and explained to our reason, exhibit such traces of design, such accuracies of contrivance, such wonders of adaptation. "O Lord! how manifold are Thy works; in wisdom hast Thou made them all." The text speaks of an abounding, a lavish munificence. It is of the exceeding riches of God's grace. With these He is thus infinitely profuse. But there is nothing of an ill-considered waste Wisdom and prudence are seen in the supply of adequate means, in providing for probable difficulties, in guarding against probable abuses. Glorious are the gifts; but their right application is jealously secured. This wisdom and prudence are manifested —
I. BY SHOWING WITH EQUAL DISTINCTNESS THE DIVINE JUSTICE AND MERCY. These are not rival attributes, nor can they have needed reconciliation. Justice does not arrest the hand of mercy; mercy does not restrain the hand of Justice. Neither is the more prompt or slow; neither is the more earnest or jealous. An infinite placability is anterior to the exercises of both. God is not merciful because Christ has died, but Christ has died because God is merciful. Is justice the first care of His government? Mercy is earlier in its purpose than any government. In Redemption they are mutually administrative. "To declare His righteousness in the remission of sin." They act with no partiality; they come into no collision. The impression on the believing sinner's mind must correspond. It might be that in another proportion of these attributes our mental balance would have been endangered. This Wisdom and Prudence promote the state of mind we describe.
II. BY EXHIBITING THE INCARNATE SON OF GOD AS ALIKE THE OBJECT OF LOVE AND ADORATION. That Christ should be made flesh was necessary to His becoming an atonement, scarcely less that He might be the way by which we understand and approach the Divinity. He was thus made like unto us. Blessed admixture of emotions! It is tenderness, it is gratitude, it is complacency, without a lowering thought; it is humiliation, it is subjection, it is homage, without a disconcerting fear! The gospel in its wisdom and prudence produces this moral adjustment of our principles and feelings.
III. BY INSISTING MOST UNIFORMLY ON DIVINE GRACE AND HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY. In its treatment of man the doctrine it preaches is most abasing to him, but only because it represents the true facts of his case. It does not lay him low, but shows how low he lies. This state of mind is secured —
IV. BY THE PROPOSAL OF THE FREEST TERMS OF ACCEPTANCE, AND THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE MOST UNIVERSAL PRACTICE OF OBEDIENCE. The reign of grace, though its very name supposes that it acts in consistency with moral government, necessarily must be brought to the simplest idea of gift and its acceptance. It is "the gift by grace." This medium, so true to the wisdom and prudence of the Christian system, is maintained —
V. BY INSPIRING THE MOST ELEVATED JOY IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEEPEST SELF-ABHORRENCE. There is the joy of faith. Do we not sit with Christ in heavenly places? Have we not come to the heavenly Jerusalem? These are gratulations and hopes which fall little short of ecstasy. But lest we should be exalted above measure, there is ever present to us our fallen nature, our long unconversion, our indwelling corruption, our strange perverseness, our slow proficiency; our ungrateful, deceitful, unbelieving heart. God has forgiven, but we cannot forgive ourselves. We will go softly all our years in the bitterness of our soul. We remember our ways and are ashamed. We are confounded, sad will not open our mouth when He is pacified toward us. It is not fear. It is not abject sorrow. It is the struggle of alternate dispositions. That mean of feeling, which is equidistant from extremes, is preserved —
VI. BY DISPLAYING THE DIFFERENT CONDUCT PURSUED BY THE DEITY TOWARDS SIN AND THE SINNER. This congruity of conflicting sentiments is upheld —
VII. BY COMBINING THE GENUINE HUMILITY OF THE GOSPEL WITH OUR DIGNITY AS CREATURES AND OUR CONSCIENTIOUSNESS AS SAINTS. This mellowed habit of mind is supported —
VIII. BY CAUSING ALL SUPERNATURAL INFLUENCE TO OPERATE THROUGH OUR RATIONAL POWERS AND BY INTELLIGENT MEANS. The principle of life is subtle and unscanned. But after its kind, it is always developed in the same succession of fixed, classified, manifestations. The intellectual, the highest, life follows the same law. It is known by its respective conditions. It is always and in every place, without forgetting the degrees of its expansion, the same. Having found one such creature, you have a general knowledge of all. But it is a very primary doctrine of revelation, that the work of a sinner's salvation involves the necessity that he be enlightened and puff. fled by a power from on high. The wisdom and prudence of the gospel discover themselves in this respect.
IX. BY RESTING OUR EVIDENCE OF SAFETY AND SPIRITUAL WELFARE UPON PERSONAL VIRTUES. Moreover, to save the mind from those violent alternations to which it tends, the religion of Christ asserts its wisdom and prudence.
X. BY SUPPLYING THE ABSENCE OF ENSLAVING FEAR WITH SALUTARY CAUTION.
XI. THE ACTUAL EXISTENCE OF OUR DEPRAVED NATURE, AND THE WORK OF SANCTIFICATION IN US PRESSING FORWARD TO ITS MATURITY, TEND TO THAT REGULATED TEMPERAMENT OF MIND WHICH WE URGE.
XII. AND CERTAIN VIEWS OF PERSONAL CONDUCT ARE SO COUPLED IN THE GOSPEL WITH THE NOBLEST VIEWS OF GRACE, THAT ANY IMPROPER WARPING OF OUR MINDS IS COUNTERACTED. The works of believers are rewardable. God accepteth them and is pleased with them. He is glorified in themselves. Promise of a return or recompense is made to their acts, partly growing out of the quality of those acts, but chiefly as actual additions of happiness. He is not unrighteous to forget the work of faith and the labour of love. He covenants with us. We, knowing His word and trusting His assurance, may always have respect unto this recompense of reward. But do we boast? Is it not a constitution of grace which alone could render our deeds praiseworthy and remunerable? which can speak to us, Well done? Is it not a new, independent, and most merciful consideration and treatment of our moral agency? It is the work of God by which we exclusively can work the works of God.
XIII. WHILE THE DISTINCTIVE BLESSINGS AND HONOURS OF THE CHRISTIAN MIGHT TEND TO ELATE HIM, HE IS AFFECTED BY THE MOST OPPOSITE MOTIVES. The people of God! The sons of God! Kings and priests unto God! This can only awaken the more ardent gratitude and more profound humility. The cause of choice is not in themselves. If intimation is ever given of the cause, it is the greater sinfulness of the object. It is some design to illustrate the freeness and power of grace in restoring the most wretched outcast. And who is this restored one, that he should glory in himself? He is the undeserving subject of all. He is a brand plucked out of the fire. He is the chief of sinners. This is his utmost praise and claim, "Howbeit I obtained mercy." He owes, he must still owe, he must owe forever! God abounds in this wisdom and prudence towards us, and thus unites our hearts.
XIV. BY MOST STRONGLY ABSTRACTING US FROM THE THINGS OF EARTH, AND YET GIVING US THE DEEPEST INTEREST IN ITS RELATIONS AND ENGAGEMENTS.
(R. W. Hamilton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;