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Cannot be acted out to the life. Uncover the cope of hell, where no restraining grace is, and behold that world all in tumultuous foam, and rage, and their utmost fury cannot bring on the destruction, much less the annihilation that they wish. This confinement lo the indiscribable scourges of vengeance, will be their tormenting abodes forever. O my brethren, let us beware of going to hell.
However much one man may have in his heart a bitter enmity to another, yet their wickedness is against none so deadly as God bimself. The wicked liate all beings, but they hate God above all. They hate his sovereignty, dominion, and government with a perfect hatred. They would unsettle and demolish the throne of God, were it in their power. They would reduce him lower than the Philistines did Sampson ; they would not only shave off the locks of his almightiness, put out the eyes of his omniscience, and make him grind in a prison house for the subserviency of their lusts, but their deadly wickedness would be the death of the high and lofty one of Israel; they would extinguish the existence of God. Natural men are doing all they can in this way, blaspheming God, reproaching his character, traducing his name, trampa ling upon his laws, and depreciating and contemning his authority, committing every act of rebellion against him they can devise, thus doing all in their power for the demolition of Godhead; crying out in the language of the Psalmist, “ ( that there was “ no God.” If the bent of their hearts could be gratified, there should be none. His existence should be demolished, “ For the “poison of asps,” that is, instant destruction, “is under their W lips.”
If the Supreme Jehovah were to put himself in the power of men, and allow them to act out their souls, and shew forth their whole enmity against him, would not this be a fair trial of our argument, to see whether men had it in their heart to kill and destroy God? If the experiment were made, and men proceeded to
the dreadful length, that they murdered God in reality, could there then remain any hesitation about the truth of our doce trine.
The experiment has been made, and a fair trial taken of man on this very point. God was manifested in the flesh, assumed a mortal body, and put himself in the power of man ; delivered himself into their hands, took off restraining grace, and permita ted them to treat him according to the disposition of their hearts. One view in this, was to show to all intelligences, how man stood affected to the divine existence ; whether they had deadly wickedness in their heart toward God or not; and whether they were disposed to treat the divine Being with kindness, respect, and honor. You all know the event. Was there any lenity or mere cy showed to the God-man, Christ Jesus? The more they knew of him as God, the more they were imbittered against him? Was he dealt with upon the common footing of justice and equity ? The reverse of every thing rational took place. “ This is the a heir," the Son of God, yea God himself, “ come let us kill « him." Hear how the crouding multitudes unite in the malicious cry, “ Away with this fellow from the earth ; he is not fit to
live ; crucify him, crucify him." This was the result of the experiment of divine condescention. There is no disputing against fact. Thus our doctrine is not only proved by reason, scripture and observation, but it is demonstrated by a clear and open experiment. Thus we see the heart of man is full of the most dead. ly and incurable wickedness. So that what the Prophet affirms, remains an unshaken truth, “ That the heart is deceitful above « all things and desperately wicked.”
A few deductions must close this subject.
Tirst, It is clearly deducible, in what respects natural men are equally distant from the kingdom of heaven, and in what respects, soine are nearer to it than others. All unregenerate sinners are equally far from it, as far as it consists in gracious or boly habits
and exercises of heart. Yet as far as the kingdom of God can be understood to consist in right speculative notions of the doctrines of religion, legal convictions and just apprehensions of the divine government one unconverted sinner may be much nearer to it than another. Thus our Saviour says to the Scribe, who appeared to have a good speculative understanding of divine things, and some concern about them, “ Thou art not far from the king“ dom of God.” He was in this sense nearer to the kingdom of salvation than others. Although he was as destitute of real holiness as any other sinner, and must be as much beholden to unmerited mercy ; yet his knowledge, attention, anxiety, and convictions, cast him more into that way, if I may so speak, in which God displays his sovereign grace.
Secondly, It is deducible from this doctrine, that natural men, by all their strivings, endeavours, and duties, will never of them. selves work up their hearts to true goodness or holiness. Were there any thing spiritually good in the human heart, any right foundation or holy principle, tlien, by endeavors and common gracious assistance, it might be encreased and improved to something of liigh moment. But this is not the case. And if ever there shall be any saving good in them, it must be produced by the immediate and almighty power of God. Hence the Apostolic doctrine will forever be held by the saints, “ It is not of * him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that " sheweth mercy.”
Thirdly, We here learn, what end endeavors and legal convictions serve, and what end they do not serve. They do not serve to give them any holy meetness for heaven. “For that which is “ born of the flesh is flesh.” It is carnal, and under every modification, unfit for heaven. All the exercises, strivings, convictions and concern of unregenerated sinners are carnal and unholy. Notwithstanding these things, the awakenings and distress of sinners serve various ends of great importance. Such as to show them how bad they are ; how desperately ruined and undonc their condition is ; how they are altogether to blame; that they are in a compleatly wicked and helpless state ; that nothing can help them but the almighty arm of divine grace ; that they are so perfectly hell-deserving, that the justice of God would be conspicu. ously displayed in casting them off ; and that if ever they are saved, it must be by the most free and wonderful mercy.
Fourthly, An evident deduction from the preceding is, the absolute necessity of regeneration to peace and favor with God; and the propriety and reasonableness of the scriptural descriptions of this matter. If the heart of inan be so wicked as described, can any thing be more plain than it must be renovated, and have new and holy principles implanted in it, to form it for the enjoyment of God.
Fifthly, The last inference is, the marvelousness and astonishment, that God should have any thing to do in a way of merey and salvation, with creatures so awfully wicked as we are. All heaven must be in amazement, that he should turn his heart to any. of the human race. How beautiful the observation of St. Paul : « God commended his love towards us, that while we were yet 6 sinners, Christ died for us.” What constellations of wisdom and inercy burst forth here, that God was effectually devising man's salvation, when the temper of man was devising the demolition of Godhead. Divine love and the wickedness of man, ex. hibit a conspicuous contrast on the cross of Christ. Does it not appear upon the whole, in the most demonstrative manner, that the salvation of sinners must be of the most self-moving, free, and sovereign grace? And will not the compassion, mercy, and goodness of God touch our hearts? Will it not prevail with you, O sinners, at least to think of forsaking your wickedress, and returning to God? Will it not be aggravatedly dreadful to be found in the ways of sin, after all the displays of divine love in the gospel ; after all the sweet and amiable manifestations of God by his dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ? O never be easy or con