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impulse from God in the case, but merely to express the pious good dispositions and worthiness of the persons so spoken of.
Thus (Matt. xvi. 17.) after Peter had with all frankness and boldness declared his belief of his divine Master, " that he was the Christ, the son of the living God,” we read, “ Jesus answered, and said unto him Happy art thou, Simon Barjona! for flesh and blood hath not · revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Not that he had received
divine revelation concerning this point: but his ready confession of it was owing to his not listening to flesh and blood; that is, not being influenced and governed by worldly prejudices which kept back many of his countrymen from believing in Christ: as though our Lord had said to him, in other words, Happy art thou, Simon, who hast shown such a pious and honest mind.
Thus also, in the example before us, the drawing of the Father, which our Lord makes to be a thing necessary to becoming his disci. ples, does not indicate any immediate act or impulse of God upon his so drawing them; but their pious and dutiful affection to him and his holy laws, which would have led them,
and, wherever it is found, will lead those who are within the sound of the Gospel to embrace it.
This interpretation will be further illustrated by considering one or two instances of the contrary kind of language in the sacred writings. For when they would express the utmost abhorrence of any particular character or action, and condemn it in the strongest terms, they ascribe it to the suggestions of an evil spirit, when there is plainly no design to declare that it really was so, but only to point out thereby the
great wickedness, or the bad dispositions
of the person.
Thus we read (1 Chron. xxi. 1.) “ And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” It is not meant, nor is it to be understood, that an evil spirit put it into his head to take an account of the number of his people; when it was nothing but David's own evil spirit at that time of pride and vanity and forgetfulness of God, that prompted him to such an act, and hindered his considering that his strength was in God alone, and not in the number or valour of his troops.
Thus also (1 Kings xxii.) the Lord is said to have ordered a spirit to go forth, and
be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets of Ahab.” Not that there was any scenery such as is there represented, or any immediate
of God to prompt those men to commit such wickedness : but the whole is an exquisite piece of imagery, in the prophetic eastern style, descriptive of the base flattery and impiety of the prophets, and the infatuated blindness and wickedness of the man who was pleased to be deceived by them to his ruin.
It is said, likewise, of that wretched man Judas (Luke xxii. 3, 4); “Then entered Satan into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way,
and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.” Yet there was no evil spirit concerned; for that would have mitigated his crime:-his own dark, covetous, revengeful spirit was what alone took hold of him, and drove him to so desperate a crime.
We have expatiated largely on the illustration of the passage before us. Our time and pains will not have been ill employed, if any of us are thereby led to value and love the more the Holy Scriptures, which are the only
firm foundation of present comfort and all our future hopes.
The sentiment here uttered by our Lord is worthy of that divine wisdom by which he spoke, and does honour to that Gospel which he delivered ; that no one can truly receive it and become his disciple, who is not pious and good. “ No man can come unto me, unless the Father who has sent me draw him.”
I shall propose a few reflections upon it to your consideration. And,
I. Although we have shown that this and other passages are wrongly applied to the particular agency and interposition of Almighty God in bringing persons to be the disciples of Christ, it is not to exclude him from being present with and governing his creatures.
It is lite rally true, as the apostle speaks (Acts xvii.), that “he is not far from us. For in him we live and move, and have our being.” Neither in our spiritual concernments, nor in common life, do we think or do any thing but by faculties given by him, and momentarily depending upon him for their exercise as well as the continuance of them. Nevertheless, although he is the supreme all-ruling ever
present Governor and Director, we have also a part given us to act, a work to do, which if we leave unfinished, we shall suffer loss, and inevitable misery be our lot in proportion to our neglect of it. For as our Maker has given us food in plenty to eat, and raiment for covering; yet neither the one nor the other is to be attained without labour to prepare them ; so has he plentifully provided us with the means of piety and all virtue, which are the health of our minds; but which will be of no service to us without our own exertions to resist and root out evil principles and wrong opinions, and plant those that are good. The motives of the Gospel, the precepts
of Christ, are sufficient to prepare and fit us for the business designed for us. We are not to expect the extraordinary direction of Heaven, where the ordinary and standing means are sufficient. This might make us to value ourselves upon supposed favours and communications from him, and to attend less to a cheerful uniform active obedience to his commands; and might thus become a snare to us, and
lead to spiritual pride and conceit, which is ; an evil disease; or else, by a growing remiss