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that whatever any persons may do, while they are impenitent, is wholly sinful. But if the religious performances of the impenitent were as good as they suppose ; if they were not an abomination in the sight of God; yet they would avail nothing towards obtaining the bles
sings of the gospel. For as these blessings - are freely bestowed, they are never given on
account of the religious performances of sinners. Whatever the impenitent may do, they must perish, unless they wholly renounce their reli. gious performances. Their utmost strivings and exertions avail nothing towards inducing God to bestow those blessings, which are freely given through his own mercy in Jesus Christ.
3. As the blessings of the gospel are given freely, it is very criminal for the impenitent to attempt to obtain these blessings by their reli. gious performances. When sinners are in some degree awakened, they place great dependence upon their own exertions and amend. ments. If ihey do not expect to merit salvation by their religious performances, yet they imagine that in this way they shall induce God to show mercy. They think God ought to regard their tears,
and distresses. They have hard thoughts of God, because he does not re. lieve their burdened souls. But while
persons endeavor to obtain the favor of God, by their tears, and prayers, and exertions, they: reject the blessings of his grace. Being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they refuse
to submit themselves unto the righteousness of God. While sinners despise and reject the Lord Jesus Christ, and endeavor to obtain the favor of God by their sinful performances, their conduct in his sight is very criminal, and very displeasing. He abhors and rejects all their performances. He says, “When you stretch forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you ; yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear.” Impenitent sinners prefer the filthy rags of their own righteousness, to the pure and precious robes of Christ's righteousness. They endeavor to purchase, by their sinful performances, what God freely gives through the blood of his well-beloved Soil. The conduct of sinners, who attempt to obtain the favor of God, by what they can do, resembles the conduct of Simon, the Sorcerer. " When Simon saw that through laying-on of the hands of the apostles, the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, thy money perish with thee ; be. cause thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter ; for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. • I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.
The conduct of Simon was highly sinful and provoking, and his state was very dangerous and alarming. And very sinful and provoking is the conduct, and
very dangerous and alarming, the state of im. penitent sinners, however they may be awakened, and convicted, and engaged, in their unholy performances. While they rely upon their own services and reject the Lord Jesus Christ, they think to purchase eternal life, which is the gift of God, if not with money, yet with their impenitent performances, which are wholly sinful and very hateful in the sight of God. An attempt to obtain from God the greatest bles. sings which he freely bestows, by such conduct, is highly criminal.
And of this highly criminal conduct, every sinner is guilty, while he endeavors, by his religious performances, to obtain the blessings of the gospel.
4. Since God freely bestows upon sinners the blessings of the gospel, it is easy to see what they must do to be saved. They must freely accept the blessings of the gospel. Their duty is plainly taught in the text.“ Whosoever will, let him take the water of life frecly.” Sinners are not required to depend on their moral conduct. They are not requi. red to endeavor, by their religious performances, to obtain the favor of God. Nor are they required to make themselves better before they can obtain mercy. But they are required, and they are commanded to receive the Lord Jesus Christ and his great salvation, as they are freely offered in the gospel. How plain then, and how easy is the duty of sinners ! How wicked and how unwise are they, who on account of their morality and religious perform
ances, reject the counsel of God against them. selves! If morality will avail any thing towards salvation ; how moral must a person be, that by his morality he may obtain the salvation of the gospel ? If the performances and exertions of the impenitent, will induce God to shew mercy ; how long, and how much, must they strive and exert themselves, before they obtain mercy ? Every one, who understands the bible, knows that whatever sinners may do while they are impenitent, they are nothing bettered, but rather grow worse. Every one, who has a right knowledge of divine truth, knows that notwithstanding all the morality and religious performances of the impenitent, they must perish unless they accept the blessings of the gospel as freely given. We ought to be very thankful that the duty of sinners is plainly taught in the holy scriptures. Christ says unto all the ends of the earth, “Look unto me and be ye saved !” Again he says, “ Ho, every one that thirsteth. Come ye to the waters.
And he that hath no money ; come ye, buy and eat. Yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price !” Again, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." And again, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” When the great multitude on the day of Pentecost, said unto Peter and unto the rest of the apostles, “ Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins ; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” When the jailor said unto Paul and Silas, “ Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?” They said, « Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” In the verse from which the text is selected, the duty of sinners is plainly and repeatedly declared. From what God requires and commands, it is evident, that it is the duty of every sinner immediately to receive the blessings of the gospel as they are freely offered. And whatever a sinner may do, he must suffer the pains of eternal damnation, unless he freely accept the blessings of the gospel.
5. As the blessings of the gospel are freely given, we may see why Christians experience so small a degree of spiritual enjoyment. When persons first believe the glad tidings of the gospel, they usually experience an high degree of holy delight. Religion then affords more happiness in a few hours, than the world with all its possessions and enjoyments can ever afford.
Yet many Christians pass the most of their days without any high degree of religious enjoyment. And why is it so ? It is not because the delights of religion are exhausted. Nor because God is unwilling to bestow upon his children the joys of his salvation. Nor because the blessings of his grace are offered on difficult conditions. Nor because Christians are happy, while they have no enjoyment in religion. The pleasures of the world are poi.