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He directed the Scribe, in the parable of the good Samaritan, to go and shew kindness to his enemies. Yet this scribe appears to have been an unbeliever. He directed Paul, also, after he had fallen to the earth, and enquired what he would have him to do, to arise, and go into Damascus, where it should be told him what he would have him to do. Peter, also, directed Simon Magus to repent, and pray that the thoughts of his heart might be forgiven. It has been thought, that Peter directed him to repent first, and then to pray for forgiveness. This certainly is an unnatural construction of the passage. The obvious meaning is, that St. Peter directed both of these things to be done immediately; and without indicating any intention that Simon should wait until after he repented, before he began to pray. Many more examples of a similar nature might be added. It will not be supposed, that in any one of these directions, the objects of them were commanded or advised to commit sin. As rational beings they were directed to do such things, as, in the character of actions, were proper to be done in their circumstances: while a general indication of their duty, as to the disposition with which they were to be done, is unquestionably implied in all these passages. These passages, however, show that, in his preaching and advice, a minister is not to confine himself to the mere enjoining of Faith and Repentance; but is to extend them to any other conduct in itself proper to be pursued: while he universally teaches these great Christian duties, as the immediate end of all his preaching. Antecedently to every effort, which the sinner makes, he is wholly ignorant whether God will not enable him to obey with the heart. It is also his indispensable duty thus to obey. Whenever advice or exhortation is given to sinners, by any minister, he is equally ignorant whether they will, or will not, obey with the heart, as well as with the outward conduct. He knows, also, that it is their duty to obey in this manner. The effort therefore ought to be made; and the advice given. In this manner I understand all those general commands, and exhortations which respect the affairs of sinners. Our Saviour, preaching, obviously, to a collection of sinners, says, Luke xiii. 24, Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; and again, Matth. vii. 14, Enter ye in at the strait gate : because strait is the gate, and nar. row is the way, that leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it. The gate is at the head of the way, leading to the house, into which those, who enter at the gate, are finally to be admitted. Christ never speaks of Heaven as a city, but several times as a house. Those who have not entered are obviously sinners: and to sinners he was obviously preaching in this kindred passage of St. Luke. Of the same nature is the memorable passage in Isaiah ly. 6, 7, Seek ye the Lord while he may be found: call ye wpon him while he is near. The persons, here addressed, are in the second verse, mentioned as those, who spend money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not. Such persons are obviously sinners. Still they are directed to seek, and call upon, the Lord. If, then, it is still objected, that directing sinners to such acts is directing them to commit sin: the answer is short. God gave these very directions to the Israelites by Moses. Christ also gave the same directions to the Jews. It will not be supposed that he directed them to commit sin. It may be further said, that sinners will commit sin in their prayers. If they continue sinners they undoubtedly will. So will Christians. If this be a reason, why sinners should not be advised to pray; it is also a reason, why Christians should not be advised to pray. But it will be replied, that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord; while the prayer of the upright is his delight. That the prayer of the wicked is in some respects an abomination; of hypocrites universally; of other sinners generally; is not to be questioned. There is plainly nothing holy in the conduct of impenitent men. But it will not follow, that the prayer of every impenitent man is in such a sense abominable to God, as to ensure rejection from him. Christ did not tell the young Ruler that his enquiry concerning eternal life was abominable ; nor refuse to hear, and answer him. On the contrary, the Scriptures inform us that Jesus, beholding him, loved him. This love was plainly distinct from the general benevolence of Christ to sinners: for with this benevolence he loves all sinners. The young Ruler he loved peculiarly; and in a manner, in which he did not love the Pharisees, and the Jews generally. Otherwise, the fact would not have been specified. He did not, I acknowledge, love him with complacency: for he was not a Christian. But he loved him, peculiarly, with what is called natural affection. In the character of this youth there was a peculiar natural amiableness; such as all men see, love, and acknowledge; and acknowledge, often, against their own doctrines. The foundation of this love is a train of attributes, belonging to Man, not as a sinner, nor as a saint, but as an Intelligent being. Of this number are native sweetness of temper; frankness; sincerity; simplicity, strongly seen in little children; gentleness; kindness; generosity; and compassion. All these are in themselves amiable in a certain degree ; and in this degree they were loved by Christ. Hence I argue, that, as all Christ's affections were exactly accordant with truth and propriety, so this exercise of affection to the young man was of the same nature, and was perfectly approved by God. Of course, there is at times something in sinners, which, in itself, is not abominable to God; although their moral or sinful character is altogether abominable. It is not wrong in itself, that sinners should desire food, or raiment, or happiness, or safety from evil. It is impossible that percipient beings should exist, without desiring the two last of these objects : and equally impossible that men should not desire the two first. The best men, and the worst, desire them alike: and no man is for this conduct ever reproved in the Scriptures. To ask of God for happiness, and final safety, is not necessarily insincere, mor guilty, even in sinners. When sinners ask for mere mercy, or mere happiness, or mere safety, they may desire either as truly, as saints; although their desires are not virtuous. So far as their desires are merely natural, inseparable from their nature, and sincere, they are not morally wrong: nor are they exhibited in the Scriptures as objects of the Divine anger. Accordingly, the prayer of the Publican, who was, I think, plainly a sinner, was not regarded with mere anger by God; and was exactly such a prayer, as I have mentioned: a prayer for mere mercy and safety. He went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee, because he had, in some important respects, a just sense of his character, and a sincere desire to be delivered from the dangers of it: while the Pharisee had neither. It is in the nature of things proper, that God, who saves no man for his merit, but communicates salvation merely from compassion, should save those, who are sensible of their guilt, danger, and distress, rather than those, who are utterly insensible, stupid, and careless. The former, in the natural sense, are qualified, and the latter are unqualified, to understand his Mercy, the greatness of the Love of Christ, and the wonderful work of Sanctification; and to feel the evils, from which they are deliver. ed, and the blessings, to which they are introduced, beyond the grave. Accordingly, Sanctification, as I have heretofore particularly observed, is communicated by God to sinners, only when they are convinced of their guilt and danger, and laboriously employed in asking for forgiveness; and not to those, who neither feel, nor strive, nor pray. If the prayers of convinced sinners were abominable, in the sense of the objector; could this fact exist? Is not the steady course of Providence a complete refutation of the scheme * Finally. It will be asked, Do not sinners grow worse under convictions of Conscience, and in the use of Means ? To this question I answer, that I do not know. Neither do my objectors. I do not believe the Publican was justified rather than the Pharisee, because he grew worse under his conviction. Individuals may grow worse; and in one respect all certainly do. For they continue to sin so long as they are sinners; and that, whether they are convinced, or unconvinced. Whether their characters, and conduct, are more guilty in any given instance, and during the periods immediately preceding, I am ignorant; and shall remain so, until I can search the heart, and measure the degrees of depravity. As this is beyond the power of man; the whole inquiry is idle and vain. Whenever sinners commit the same sins against greater light, they are more guilty, than when they are committed against less light. But no man can determine whether this, or any thing like

this, is the case with a sinner under conviction in a given instance; unless, perhaps, sometimes, the convinced person himself. I see no good reason, why this question should ever be introduced into Theological discourses. The only tendency of such introduction is to perplex, and distress. I have now, unless I am deceived, considered this Objection, in all its parts; and in all the forms, in which it is customarily alleged. I shall now examine how far the Objectors are consistent with themselves in their other conduct towards sinners. Many of these Objectors have children; and educate them religiously, as well as prudently. These children, in many instances, they know to be sinners, so far as this character can be known in any case. Now all these parents advise, and exhort, and command, their children to obey them; that is, in their external conduct; to attend their family prayers; to be present at public worship; to learn, and repeat, prayers to God; and to be earnestly and solemnly attentive to these religious duties. They teach them, in the same manner, to speak truth, to do justice, and to show kindness, to all, with whom they are concerned. They require them, also, to labour; to preserve their property; to go regularly to school; to perform errands; and to do many other services. In a word, by the whole weight of their own authority, and that of the Scriptures, they require them to do every useful and desirable act, and to imbibe every useful and desirable habit. Now it is to be remembered, that these children are sinners; and are known to be sinners. Of course, whatever conduct they adopt, they will commit sin. Of course also, whatever conduct they are advised to adopt, they will, according to the general principle, on which the objection is founded, be advised to commit sin. They will as probably, or as certainly, commit sin in executing the commands of their parents, attending public or family worship, going to school, or performing an errand, as other sinners do in praying, or performing any other act, not in itself sinful. How, then, can these parents, particularly such of them as are skilled in this controversy; advise their sinful children to Vol. IV. 67

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