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as fitting him for it: and had he been guilty of adultery, of drunkenness, and of perjury, he could, and no doubt would have said, I Paul, the adulterer—the drunkard—the perjured wretch—obtained mercy.
What moral qualifications did the Saviour of sinners find in the unchaste Samaritan with whom he graciously entered into familiar conversation at Jacob's well; to whom he revealed himself as the Messias, who asked, and received of him that living water which she found to be as a well springing up into everlasting life? t . ,i .
What evidence, either of compassion or compunction, did the jailor at Philippi manifest to Paul and Silas, previous to the earthquake that shook both his prison and his conscience; and to whom, in the distraction of inquiry, they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved?
What previous qualifications had those Ephesian converts who were quickened when dead in trespasses and sins ?—or those highly favoured Romans, who, when enemies, were reconciled to God by the death of his Son? What moral worth was beheld in Zaccheus—in Matthew— But why do I select Saul of Tarsus, Zaccheus, or Matthew, the woman of Samaria, the jailor at Philippi, Ephesian or Roman converts, as instances of unparalleled unworthiness? All the world is become guilty before God—"there is none righteous—there is none that doeth good, no not one.
Is it not a lamentable fact evinced by the testimony of scripture, and the sad experience of the saints, 'that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing ?—That when we would do good, evil is present with us, so that we cannot do the things that we would?—We are carnal, sold under sin—we are not sufficient to do any thing as of ourselves, but are absolutely without strength.' So far are we from having naturally any real love to God, that the * carnal mind is enmity against him:' we do not love to retain him in our thonghts.
Now this is not the case with a part of mankind only: nor are these things said of a few individuals notorious for acts of atrocity, but of every man without exception. , The defection is • universal. The saints themselves are involved in the guilt, and are by nature children of wrath, even as others. 'The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God: and what was the result of this survey? they are, it is said, all gone aside; they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one—every mouth, therefore, must be stopped—for by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.'
The sovereignty of divine love, and the riches of divine grace, are eminently conspicuous, not in Christ's dying for persons comparatively righteous, but in this-—'that when we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, then, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.'
Besides, the very term Saviour, as it respects man, implies his lost condition. For if, by any means of his own devising he could have delivered his soul, or have given to God a ransom for it, the angelick heralds would not have been commissioned to proclaim, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. The song of praise is an implicit declaration that salvation is of the Lord; that the glory of its contrivance, as well as of its completion, wholly belongs to him; and that the promulgation of this salvation is the only way in which the peace with God is made known to man; by which it is enjoyed in the conscience on earth, or experienced in all its plenitude in heaven.
Permit me, therefore, to repeat, that divine love, as exercised toward sinners, did not originate in any real or supposed comparative excellence in any of its objects, but in the good pleasure and sovereignty of God. Men were viewed as depraved and guilty; as altogether unworthy; and so circumstanced that all, if such had been the divine will, might have been justly left to perish in their sins,. Grace, therefore, as a sovereign, had an undoubted right to communicate its blessings to this notorious transgressor or to that: to the completely vicious, or the comparatively virtuous: to the infant of a day, or to the hoary head bending to the grave. It looks for no moral qualifications on which to bestow its favours; but confers them on the guilty, the wretched, and the damnable. It delights in extending relief to the miserable—in supplying the wants of the unworthy. It triumphs in delivering its favourites from the depths of calamity; knowing that where much is forgiven, much will also be gratefully returned. It seems, indeed, from many examples left on record in the Bible, that divine goodness pur