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God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." The word of reconciliation, which the ambassadors of Christ deliver, is the word of God and not the word of men, and is to be received as his word, and not as theirs. But they are not to be despised because they are men; and they cannot be despised, without despising God. “ He that despiseth," says the apostle, “ despiseth not man but God." An earthly prince always resents any disrespect shown to his ambassador, as shown to himself; and Christ has told the world, that he will resent disrespect shown to his ambassadors, as shown to himself. He said to his apostles for their encouragement, when he sent them forth to preach the gospel, “ He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that depiseth me, despiseth him that sent me."
SERMON X VIII.
THE ESSENTIAL DISTINCTION BETWEEN SAINTS AND
INSTALLATION OF REV. THOMAS WILLIAMS, ATTLEBORO', SEPTEMBER 9, 1824.
And if thou shalt take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my
mouth. - JEREMIAH, XV. 19.
Though God formed, sanctified, and ordained Jeremiah to be a prophet unto the nations, yet he met with so much opposition, reproach and strife, that he lamented his hard and unhap
“ Wo is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife, and a man of contention to the whole earth." Notwithstanding this bitter lamentation, God would not release him from his high and sacred office; but told him he had much more for him to do and suffer in delivering his messages to his degenerate people, whom he was about to send into a strange land, where he must share with them in their national calamities. This led him to cry pathetically for divine compassion. “O Lord, remember me, and visit me,- take me not away in thy long suffering; know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart - I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced. I sat alone, because of thy hand.” To this pertinent and pious petition God gives a gracious answer.
" Therefore thus saith the Lord, If thou return,” (that is to me) “ then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me; and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brazen wall; and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee to save thee, and to deliver thee, saith the Lord.” These gracious promises were made to Jeremiah on the condition that he would take forth the precious from the vile, in delivering the messages of God to his people; that is, if he would, in delivering divine messages, distinguish the righteous from the wicked. From this we may justly conclude,
That ministers should, in their preaching, keep up the essential distinction between saints and sinners.
I shall first show that there is an essential distinction between them; and then show why ministers should, in their preaching, keep up this distinction.
I. I am to show that there is an essential distinction between saints and sinners. They do, indeed, in some respects resemble one another. They are alike in their natural powers and faculties. They are alike in their speculative knowledge and mental improvements. They are alike in their civil concerns and pursuits. And they are often alike in their religious tenets and denominations. In these and various other respects, saints differ no more from sinners, than sinners differ from one another, or than saints themselves differ from each other. But notwithstanding all these points of similarity between saints and sinners, they essentially differ in one important respect, and that is, in respect to their hearts. The hearts of saints are benevolent, but the hearts of sinners are selfish. There is therefore a mutual contrariety between the hearts of saints and the hearts of sinners, which forms an essential distinction between them. Now to make it appear that there is really such an essential distinction between saints and sinners, I would observe,
1. That the inspired writers divide all mankind into two, and but two classes, and distinguish them by very different and opposite appellations.
They call the saints the precious, but sinners the vile. They call saints the godly, but sinners the ungodly. They call saints the children of God, but sinners the children of the wicked
They call saints the elect, but sinners the reprobate. They call saints vessels of mercy, but sinners vessels of wrath. These and many other names of distinction run through both the Old and New Testament. They are used a vast many times in the Psalms and in the Proverbs, in the Gospels and in the Epistles, and in almost every page of the Bible. They are used not to distinguish one saint from another, nor to distinguish one sinner from another, but to distinguish all saints from all sinners. If they had been used to mark the mere shades of difference between saints, or the mere shades of difference between sinners, they would have but little force to prove any essential difference between saints and sinners. But since all the inspired writers use these diametrically opposite epithets, to mark the only one universal difference between the two classes of mankind, they afford a conclusive evidence that the distinction between them is not merely circumstantial but essential. It is a distinction between benevolence and selfishness, or between sin and holiness; which is as great a moral and essential distinction as can exist between one man and another. It is the same kind of moral and essential distinction as that which exists between Gabriel and Lucifer. The appellations, therefore, which the sacred writers employ in speaking of the two different classes of mankind, give us infallible evidence that there is an essential moral distinction between those whom they call saints and those whom they call sinners.
2. God does that for saints which he does not do for sinners ; which proves that they essentially differ.
God said to his captive people in Babylon by the prophet Ezekiel, " A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” But he determined to do this for some and not for all. So he told them by the prophet Jeremiah. “ Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord — and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion." Christ we are told, " came unto his own and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the Aesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." - This act of sovereignty in chang. ing the hearts of men Christ saw, approved and admired. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." The apostle also asserts that God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneih.” And he says God did actually display such sovereignty towards the Jews in his day. “Even so then, at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace." 66 What then? Israel bath not obtained that which he seeketh for: But the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Now, it is easy to see, that as God regenerates saints, but not sinners; gives a new heart to saints, but not to sinners; softens the hearts of saints, but hardens the hearts of sinners; and gives a spiritual discerning of spiritual things to saints, but not to sin
ners; there must be an essential distinction between them.
The hearts of saints must be essentially different from the hearts of sinners.
3. God has made promises of good to saints, but none to sinners; which proves they are essentially different in their moral characters.
He promises to hear the prayers of saints, but not the prayers of sinners. He promises to give the holy, sanctifying and comforting influences of his Spirit to saints, but not to sinners. He promises to hold communion with saints, but not with sin
He promises saints that he will guard and support them under all the evils of the present life, and cause all things to work together for their good; but he makes no such promises to sinners. He promises to give unto saints eternal life; to prepare mansions for them in heaven; to come again and receive ihem unto himself, that where he is, there they may be also; but he has made no such promises to sinners. These promises, and such as these, the apostle Peter assures all saints, belong to them exclusively. "Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that sadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation - Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ; whom having not seen, ye love; in whom though now ye see bim not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory; receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." Can we suppose that God would make such great and precious promises 10 saints and not to sinners, if saints were not essentially different from, and far more excellent than sinners? Besides,
4. God has threatened that evil to sinners, which he has not threatened to saints.
He says to siuners, that their prosperity shall destroy them, and that he will curse their blessings. — Christ says, “ He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God