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misery, and to enjoy future happiness. You also say that no one, who is willing to be saved, can be displeased with the conditions of salvation. And yet you say that sinners are unwilling to be saved. Now I would ask, wheth. er sinners can escape endless misery and enjoy future happiness, without accepting the salvation of the gospel ? And if they cannot, then are they not as willing to be saved, as they are desirous of escaping future punishment, and of enjoying eternal happiness? To such an enquirer it may be replied, that there is no way to escape endless misery, and to enjoy future happiness, without accepting the salvation of the gospel. Yet there is a kind of happiness which sinners may desire, and which they may enjoy in the present life. They do desire, and they may enjoy the pleasures of sin, for a season. But though they desire, and though they may enjoy the sinful and hateful pleasures of sin, for a season ; and though they desire with all their hearts to escape future misery, and to enjoy eternal happiness; yet they may be wholly unwilling to accept the holy salvation of the gospel. And it is now, in the second place, to be proved, that sinners are unwilling to be saved.
For this purpose it may be observed,
1. That sinners hate the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Saviour. In the second Psalm, it is written, " The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, let us break their bands asunder and cast
away their cords from us." In these words, the wicked express the highest enmity against Christ, the anointed king and Saviour. The prophet Isaiah says of Christ, “He is despised and rejected of men.” Christ said to his brethren,
The world cannot hate you, but me it hateth.” And to his disciples, “ If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me, before it hated you.” The apostle represents himself and his Christian brethren, as having been the enemies of God. " For if when we were enemies, ' we were reconciled to God.” To the saints at Philippi he says, “ Many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ."
To the saints at Colosse he says, “ You that were sometime alienated and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled." He describes the Gentiles as being universally “ filled with all unrighteousness and wickedness,” and as“ haters of God.” It is also written, “ The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh, cannot please God.” From the testimony of the living and true God, it is certain, that all mankind naturally hate the Lord Jesus Christ. And from this consideration, it is equally certain, that they are unwilling to receive the salvation, which is offered in the gospel, through his hated and despised name.
2. Sinners hate the knowledge of the truth
as it is in Jesus. Though all mankind ħave been favored with means for knowing the living and true God, yet as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, all who were not divinely and specially taught, have been involved in the grossest ignorance of divine things. They have changed the glory of the incorruptible God, into an image made like to corruptible inan, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” The children of Israel, though they were so highly favored, preferred error to truth. They said “ to the seers, see not, and to the prophets, prophecy not unto us right things ; speak unto us smooth things ; prophecy deceits.” Job describes sinners as saying unto God,“ Depart from us ; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. Solomon says to the wicked, “ How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity, and scorn. ers delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge ?” The Psalmist says, “ The wicked are estranged from the womb, going astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. They are like the deaf adder, that stoppeth her ear, which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely." To the conduct of serpents the Psalmist compares the conduct of sinners, who use every artifice to prevent their being charmed and taken, by the kind and pleasant voice of truth and love. John the baptizer, and Jesus Christ, called the sinners to whom they preached, serpents, and a generation of vipers. Sinners have all the shyness and subtlety of serpents and vipers, in guarding themselves against divine truth. They shut their eyes, and close their ears, and
, make their hearts as “firm as a stone; yea hard as a piece of the nether millstone." ' Christ represents mankind, generally, as hating the light. He says,
“ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. For every one, that doeth evil, hateth the light.” Since sinners hate the knowledge of divine things, it is very evident, that they are unwilling to accept that salvation, which consists essentially in knowing the living and true God, and Jesus Christ whom the Father hath sent.
3. It is evident that sinners are unwilling to be saved, from their treatment of such persons, as have been the most concerned for their salvation. The ancient saints, and teachers, and prophets of God, “had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings; yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonments. They were stoned ; they were sawn asunder ; were tempted, were slain with the sword.” When the Lord Jesus Christ came unto his own people, they did not receive him. Instead of receiving him, and his offers of salvation ; they were angry at his words and sought to kill him. He said, “ Ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.” Though the Pharisees, and Sadducees, and the Herodians, contended among themselves, their contentions were forgotten in
their common enmity against Christ. They showed the strength of their hatred and malice against Christ, by desiring and sceking to kill him. Nor could they rest, until they had
put him to death on the cross. Christ forewarned his disciples, of the treatment which they should receive from the world, for his name's sake. And they received such treatment as their Lord foretold. They were hated. They were persecuted. They were stoned. They were imprisoned. And they were put to death. Now can any person suppose that they, who so treate the prophets, and the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles, when they were constantly and earnestly engaged for the salvation of immortal souls, were willing to be saved ? Nor is there any reason to believe, that the present generation of sinners differs essentially from those who lived in former times. The difference in their conduct arises from the difference in their circumstances, and not from any essential difference in their characters. Whatever sinners may now think of them. selves, they are no better than those sinners who hated and killed the prophets. They are no better than those sinners, who disbelieved and crucified the Lord Jesus Christ. They are no better than those sinners, who opposed and persecuted the apostles. If the present generation of sinners differ from those who have lived in former ages, they differ in their greater subtlety in opposing divine truth, and in their more stubborn and settled enmity