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ter. He who entered on this reckoning could not have made light of the sufferings of this present time, for want of an experimental acquaintance with them. In answer to those who depreciated his ministry, he could say, Are they ministers of Christ ? (I speak as a fool;) I more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not ? Yet the same person assures us, that he reckons the sufferings of this present time noi worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. They may be heavy and tedious, when viewed by themselves; but, weighed against a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, they are light and momentary.
It is thus that, in the subject before us, he considers our sufferings as confined to this present time. The short duration of suffering ordinarily renders it tolerable, even though, for a time, it may be acute; and, if succeeded by lasting enjoyment, we consider it unmanly to make much of it; and if it be in the service of a beloved sovereign, and in support of a cause of great importance, and which lies near the heart, it is usually treated as a matter of still less account. Thus it was that the Apostle reckoned his sufferings not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed in us. To say
of two things, that one of them is not to be compared with the other, is a strong mode of expression. It is in this way that the great God expresses his intinite superiority to the most exalted creatures : Who in me heavens can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto Je. hovah? So, when two things of an opposite pature come in suc
cession, and the latter so entirely prevails over the former as to obliterate it, or in a manner to efface the remembrance of it, it may be said of the one that it is not to be compared with the other. Thus the joy that followed the resurrection of Christ was to the sorrow that preceded it : Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice : and ye shall be sorrowfnl, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. Such also will be the joy of the heavenly inheritance, that it will efface from our remembrance the few years of sorrow which have preceded it; so efface them, however, that we shall never think of them with regret, but as a foil to heighten our bliss.
II. SUCH IS THE MAGNITUDE OF THE GLORY TO BE REVEALED IN US AT THE RESURRECTION, THAT ITS INFLUENCE EXTENDS TO THE WHOLE CREATION. This I take to be generally expressed in the 19th verse: For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. That which follows in ver. ses 20-22, explains and accounts for it, by showing how the creatures were brought into a state of bondage by the sin of man, and how they shall be liberated from it when he is liberated : For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope; because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until
The creature-lhe whole creation-or every creature, are the same thing, and denote, I apprehend, not man, but every creature around bim which has been brought under the influence of his revolt. As when Achan signed, all that pertained to him suffered ; so, when our first parents slaped, the whole creation, in so far as it was connected with man, partook of the effects. This
appears to be meant by the creature's being made subject to oan. ity, and coming under the bondage of corruption.
The creation was brought into this state of bondage, not willingly, as was the case with man, but by the sovereign will of the Creator. He could have stopped the machinery of the material world, and at once have put an end to the rebellion ; but he thought fit to order the laws of nature to keep their course ; and, as to the abuse that man would make of them, he should be called to account for that another day.
The bondage of the creatures, however, was not to be perpetual: he who subjected them to it, subjected them in hope, because the creature itself also, as well as the sons of God, shall be delivered from its thraldom, and, as it were, participate with them in their glorious liberty. The redemption of our bodies will be the signal of its emancipation from under the effects of sin, and the birth-day, as it were, of a new creation. As by man's apostasy every thing connected with him became, in some way, ,subservi. ent to evil; so, by the deliverance of the sons of God at the res. urrection, they shall be delivered from this servitude, and the whole creation, according to the natural order of things, shall serve and praise the Lord.
But we must inquire more particularly into this bondage of the creatures, and into their deliverance from it.
It is true, that the ground was literally cursed for man's sake, so as spontaneously to bring forth briars and thorns, rather than fruits; the animals also have literally been subjected to great misery and cruelty; but it is not of a literal bondage, I conceive, that the Apostle speaks ; nor of a literal deliverance, as some have imagined, by the resurrection of animals; nor of a literal groaning after it. The whole appears to be what rhetoricians call a prosopopoeia, or a figure of speech in which sentiments and language are given to things as though they were persons. Thus, on the invasion of Sennacherib, the earth is said to mourn, and Lebanon to be ashamed ; and thus, at the coming of the Messiah, the heavens are called upon to rejoice, and the earth to be glad, the sea to roar, the floods to clap their hands, and the trees of the wood to rejoice.
When God created the heavens and the earth, every thing was made, according to its nature and capacity, to show forth his glory. Thus the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech, nor language where their voice is not heard. Thus also heaven and earth are called upon to praise their Maker : Praise ye him sun and moon : praise him all ye stars of light. Praise him ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.-Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons and all deeps: fire and hail : snow and vapour ; stormy wind fulfilling his word: mountains and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: beasts, and all cattle ; creeping things and flying fowl. Such was the natural order of things established by the Creator: every thing, consciously or unconsciously, furnished its tribute of praise to Him who is over all blessed forever!
But, by the entrance of sin into the world, the creatures became subservient to it; as, when a rebellion breaks out in an empire, the resources of the country, being seized by the rebels, are turned to the support of their cause, and against their rightful owner , so every thing which God had created for the accommodation of man, or in any way rendered subservient to his comfort, was turned aside from its original design, and perverted to the purposes of corruption. The Lord complains of the corn, and wine, and oil, and flax, and wool, which he had given to Israel, being prostituted to Baal ; and threatens to recover them. Who can count the sacrifices and offerings which have been made of God's creatures to Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Bacchus, and other abominations of the West ; or to Brama, Veeshnoo, Seeb, Dhoorga, Juggernaut, and other abominations of the East ? And though gross idolatry bas in many nations, been dispelled by the light of the gospel, yet still the bounties of providence, furnished for the accommodation of man, are made to serve his lusts. The sun not emit his illuminating and fructifying beams but to furnish food for the corrupt propensities of man. The clouds cannot pour down their showers, but the effects of them are made subservient to sin. Rich soils and fruitful seasons become the hot-beds of
viće, on which, as in Sodom, men become ripe for destruction at an earlier period than ordinary.
The creatures have not only been subjected to the vanity of serving the idols and lusts of men; but have themselves been turned into gods, and worshipped to the exclusion of the Creator, who is blessed forever! There is scarcely a creature in heaven or on earth, but what has been thus drawn into the service of corruption. Not only the sun, and moon, and stars; but gold and silver, and brass, and wood, and stone, and birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things ! And though the light of the gospel has driven this species of stupidity out of Europe, (which the science of Greece and Rome did not so much as diminish,) yet it is in no want of advocates among her degenerate sons. And they that would be ashamed to plead the cause of gross idolatry, yet, in a manner, idolize the works of God, by opposing them to his word. The sweet singer of Israel, after celebrating the former, held up the latter as greatly exceeding them. With him, the light of nature and that of revelation were in harmony; but unbelievers place them at variance. Nature, with them occupies the place of God, and the light imparted by it is admired at the expense of bis word. They have no objection to acknowledge a Supreme Being as the author of the machinery of nature, provided he would give up his moral government over them; but the scriptures are full of hard sayings which they cannot hear! The works of God are silent preachers : in their mouth, there is no reproof but what a hard beart can misconstrue into the approbation of the Creator, understanding his bounties as rewards conferred on his virtuous creatures : this, therefore is the only preaching which many will hear.
In these, and a thousand other ways, the creatures of God have been subjected to vanity. Had they been possessed of intelligence, they would, from the first, have risen up against us, rather than have submitted to such bondage. Yes : rather than have been thus forced into the service of sin by the rebel man, they would have conspired together to destroy bim from the face of the earth. The sun would have scorched him ; the moon with her sickly rays would have smitten him ; the stars in their course