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which we cannot fathom, but which we ought to adore with profound and silent reverence.
'It seems impossible to say, that he loved those to whom he would afford no assistance, and who he knew, from want of that assistance, must inevitably suffer all the horrors of guilt and the pain of eternal punishment. "Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" Can we then suppose that God sees his rational creatures not only in need, but obnoxious to death and misery, and yet refuses his aid to rescue them from impending ruin? The gospel instead of being a proof of God's " goodwill towards men," would rather shew his determination that they should add to their guilt, and increase their condemnation. Instead of raising us from a death in sin to a life of righteousness, it woidd be the inevitable cause of more heinous wickedness, and of sorer punishment, to the greater part of mankind. It was considered as an act of the greatest injustice to require the Israelites to make bricks, when no straw was given to them; and how then can we imagine that God calls upon men to believe and obey the gospel, under the penalty of eternal misery, when he denies them the possibility of belief and obedience 't Does an earthly master punish his servant for not doing that which it was impossible for him to do? and shall we ascribe to God a conduct which would be esteemed the height of cruelty in man ?" Go ye," says Christ to his apostles, "into all the 'world, and preach the gospel to every creature: 'here the precept is universal, without any limi'tation, any exception: but is it to be supposed, 'that the blessings of that gospel, which was to 'be preached " to every creature in all the world," 'were necessarily confined to a few? that the 'apostles should be commanded to promise to all, 'what God had irreversibly decreed should be en'joyed only by a small number ?'i
This whole passage goes upon the supposition, that God is in some way bound to shew mercy to his rebellious creatures, and to do certain things, if not all that he is able, for their salvation: so that, if he do-not this, it is inconsistent with his love, if not with his justice. Now it is certain, that God for ages "suffered all nations to walk in "their own ways." 2 "He sheweth his word unto "Jacob, his statutes and judgments unto Israel: "He hath not dealt so with any nation, and as for "his judgments they have not known them."3 Even to this very day an immense majority of the human race are destitute of those ' means of 'grace,' for which we particularly thank God, as for a special and inestimable benefit, every time we meet for public worship. But " they that have "sinned without law shall also perish without "law."4 "We have before proved both Jews "and gentiles, that they are all under sin." "For "all have sinned and come short of the glory of "God." 5 Unless, therefore, any one will openly avow the sentiment, against which, or against those who hold it, our Articles pronounce an anathema, all these persons must be destitute of the 'means of salvation.'l Some may choose to speak of this as inconsistent with the divine perfections; but I must be silent, and adore those depths which I cannot fathom: or at most say, " Shall not the "Judge of all the earth do right?" If the nations, to whom the gospel has not been preached, be indeed " without Christ, without hope, and without "God in the world;" do not the words quoted apply to the divine dispensations towards them, as much as to election, and the doctrines connected with it?' It is impossible to say that he loved 'those to whom he would afford no assistance, and 'who he knew, for want of that assistance, must 'infallibly suffer all the horrors of guilt, and the 'pain of eternal punishment.' The decree is not, in this passage, at all mentioned; but merely the actual conduct of the glorious God. On the other hand, how can wc be truly thankful for our religious advantages, and means of salvation, if we do indeed believe, that they who have not " the "oracles of God" sent to them, nor the gospel preached to them, are in no very deplorable condition? How shall we be stimulated to communicate our blessings to " those who sit in darkness "and in the shadow of death?" Why did our Lord command his disciples to "go into all the "world, and preach the gospel to every crea"ture?" or why did apostles, and evangelists, and martyrs, not " count their lives dear to them"selves," in executing this commission ?—Certainly the argument of this passage proves, if it prove any thing, that God, in order to act consistently with his love and mercy, if not with his justice, must actually send the means of salvation to all men in every part of the world. This in fact he has not done: and shall we venture to arraign our Creator at the tribunal of our purblind reason ?—If God cannot be said to love those to whom he does not send the means of salvation, though he knows they are perishing for the want of them; can he be said to love those to whom he has sent the means of salvation, but whom he yet leaves to perish in unbelief? He knows that they are perishing for want of faith; he is able to give them faith, and to new create them to holiness; yet he does not put forth his power to save them. Apart from all decrees, this is fact. Is it from the want of love? or is it that love and grace must "abound in all wisdom" and understanding r—It may be said, that they wilfully reject the gospel, and deserve their doom: but will it also be said, that they, who have not the gospel, do not sin against the light which they have, and do not deserve their doom ?—a lighter doom, it is true; but yet deserved, whether decreed, or inflicted without a decree. If God do not accompany the gospel with his special grace to render it successful, it is plain, whether he decreed it before, or purposed it at the moment, it would ' shew his 'determination that they should add to their guilt, 'and increase their condemnation.' The gospel alone does not raise us ' from a death in sin to a 'life of righteousness ;' else all who hear it would be thus raised: but, if men be not thus made alive to God by his life-giving spirit, the gospel will be the inevitable occasion of their more heinous wickedness, and sorer punishment.—" We are
'Ref. 196, 197. :Acts xiv. 16. 'Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20. 'Rom. ii. 12. • Rom. iii. 9—23.
If we were present during the horrors of a tremendous earthquake, or when a large ship, full of men, was on fire, or dashed upon a rock; should we not be bound, even at the hazard of our lives, to do all in our power to rescue the wretched sufferers? But is not God present r Is he not omnipotent? Could he not rescue, them? Yet he leaves them to perish! Let us then not imagine, that the infinitely wise God is bound to do all, which he has made it our duty to do in similar circumstances. He requires from us what it is proper that we should do; and he decrees and acts in a manner worthy of himself: but " he giveth not "account of any of his matters." l He declares that he " visits the iniquities of the fathers upon "the children:" yet he forbade the judges of Israel to do this.2 It was proper for God to do it, but not for man. He commanded Joshua and Israel to slaughter the Canaanites indiscriminately; and many have been the blasphemies uttered on that subject: yet it was proper for the Judge of all the earth to give this command, and for them to execute it: but, if any person, without such a command, should presume to copy the example, he would be exposed to most severe punishment for so doing.
If the salvation of -sinful men be altogether a dispensation of unmerited mercy, every part of it must be the same. Had not " God sent his only "begotten Son to be the Saviour of the world," which he, surely, was not bound to do, we must all, according to the oracles of God, have perished; and he would have been glorious injustice, though
'Job xxxiii. 13. 2 Deut. xxiv. 16.