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pose, in his Epistle to the Ephesians. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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: having predestinated us to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,--Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one als things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him, who worketh all things accor- . ding to the counsel of his own will.” The apostle here
represents the gospel of God, as the mystery of his will, as the good pleasure of his will, as the choice, the counsel, and purpose of his will, which he purposed in himself, before the foundation of the world. He is so far from aiming to conceal the original and eternal source of the gospel, that he uses a great variety of similar terms to make it glain and intelligible to every capacity, that the gospel took its origin from the voluntary purpose and design of God, which he completely formed and established in his own mind in the early ages of eternity. And every faithful minister
, means, in the same manner, to trace the gospel up to its fountain-head, and so declare the whole counsel of Cod.
2. Faithful ministers mean to preach the gospel in its full latitude and extent.
The gospel is very extensive. It comprehends all the designs of the Creator. It is, strictly speaking, the sum and comprehension of all the divine purposes. Though the designs of God in creation and providence are very numerous and complicated; yet numerous and complicated as they are, the gospel contains them all. They are all but so many constituent and necessary parts of the one great design of redeeming love. When God concerted the scheme of redemption through the mediation of Christ, he fixed on the works of creation and providence, as the means to carry into effect this supreme and ultimate object. Le this extensive view, the apostle frequently considers and represents the gospel. Speaking of the purpose of God in the work of redemption, he says (Ephes.i, 10 ) “That in the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.” This intimates that Christ, in his mediatorial character, is the grand centre of union and of blessedness among both men and angels
. In the third chapter of this same Episile, he says again, "unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see, what is the fellowship of the mys
. Sery, which from the beginning of the world hath been lid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent, that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places miglit be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according 10 his eternal parpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This passage exhibits the gospel scheme of redemption, as that which lay a mystery or secrot in the divine mind from eternity; as that which constituted the Lord Jesus Christ the Savior of sinners; and in a word, as that which comprehends all the manifold wisdom of God, which ever has been, and ever will be displayed in the works of creation, providence, and grace.
This same apostle, in another place, gives us a still more full and particular representation of the universal extent of the gospel scheme. The text I advert to is in the first chapter of Colossians. These are the words: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption, through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature. For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell; and (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things unto himself, by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Here we are expressly told, that all things visible and invisible, from the highest seraph to the lowest insect; from the largest globe to the smallest atom, were created not only by Christ, but for him; that is to promote and accomplish the great work of redemption, which shall finally terminate in the complete union and blessedness of all holy beings. Such is the length, and breadth, and magnitude of the gospel scheme. It involves all the divine counsels, and all created natures Occa.
and objects. And in order to declare the whole counsel of God, it is necessary to exhibit the gospel in this wide and comprehensive latitude and extent. This leads me to observe once more,
3. That faithful ministers mean to preach the gospel in its full and final effects.
We have just now observed, that the gospel is a great and extensive scheme, which takes in all intelligent natures, and comprises all the counsels and operations of God towards them, through every period of their existence. It must therefore most essentially and universally affect all their views and feelings forever. It has indeed, already deeply affected them. All the events which have hitherto taken place, in carrying forward this gracious design, have produced great and lasting effects in the minds of both good and evil spirits in this and other worlds. The solemn scenes, which are this day passing before us, may perhaps as much engage the attention, and as sensibly impress the minds of invisible as of visible beings. But however inattentive and unaffected we or they may be on this occasion, yet we should do well to remember, that all these steps which are now taking, as well as all those which have been taken, to promote the work of redemption will eventually and eternally affect every intelligent creature. And this great and extensive scheme will have a growing influence upon the whole intellectual system, from age to age, to its final accomplishment. Heaven, earth, and hell, will be deeply affected by the general conversion of Jews and Gentiles; by the destruction of the power and authority of the man of sin; by the restraints which shall be laid upon
the malice and influence of satan; and by the universal dominion which shall be given to the people of God for a thousand years together. But when God shall judge
the secrets of men, as the apostle says, according to my gospel, then, and not till then, its full effects will be universally seen, and universally felt. Then it will appear that the gospel, in its rise, progress, and final issue, fixed the states, and formed the characters of all the inhabitants of heaven and of hell; and that these amazing effects of it, will not be transient and momentary, but permanent as the throne of God, and interminable as the ages of eternity.
Thus all faithful ministers, after the example of the great apostle, mean to lay open the gospel scheme in its original source, universal extent, and final influence and effect upon the whole intelligent creation. And by this mode of preaching they do in the highest and best sense of our text, declare the whole counsel of God.
I now proceed to make a few reflections upon the subject we have been considering.
1. Faithful ministers never lose sight of the gospel in their preaching. All their discourses breathe an evangelical spirit. They treat every subject, which they have occasion to consider, in a gospel strain. Not that they confine their attention to one, nor even to a few subjects; for they studiously aim at a rich variety in the course of their preaching But whatever subject they undertake to handle, they explain it upon gospel principles, and enforce it by gospel motives. For they consider the gospel as including all the doctrines and duties of religion. Accordingly, they never treat any subject, as totally detached from the general system of Christianity. They never preach mere philosophy, nor mere metaphysics, nor mere morality. If they treat of the being and perfections of God; if they treat of the works of creation and providence; if they treat of the powers and faculties of the