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more could he have done for Judas, whom he allowed to live with Christ and his aposiles ? What more can he do for sinners at this day, than to preserve their lives, pour continual instructions into their minds, wait to be gracious to them and fill their hearts and their houses with the bounties of providence ?
Let the conduct of sinners speak. Let the conduct of God speak ; and the voice of conduct will finally be heard. The conduct of God will confirm the sincerity of his solemn declaration, “As I live, saith the
" Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." But the conduct of impenitent and incorrigible sinners will proclaim the insincerity of their pretentions to be more willing to be saved, than God was willing to save them. Hence,
7. We learn the astonishing grace of God in making any sinners willing to be saved. The grace of God, indeed, appears in every step he takes in actually saving sinners ; but it appears more visible and illustrious in some steps than in others. His grace appears in giving his son to die for sinners. His grace appears in his free and universal offers of salvation to sinners. His grace appears, in the peculiar and powerful means, which he uses to bring sinners to repent
But he gives a brighter and more glorious display of his soverign grace, in changing the hearts of sinners, after they have abused all previous acts of his grace, in providing salvation for them, in offering salvation to them, in calling upon them by his word and providence to accept of salvation. It is conquering
. grace, which overcomes not only their unworthiness, but their unwillingness and obstinacy, at the very time they were resolved to destroy themselves. Renewing grace is, in the strictest sense, special, irresistible grace. It demonstrates, that God is infinitely more willing to save sinners, than they are to be saved. It is subduing, their unwillingness and making them willing in the day of his power to be saved. It is softening the heart of one, while he is hardening the heart of another. It is forming one a vessel of honor, while he is forming
another a vessel of dishonor. It is displaying the riches of his grace upon one, while he is fitting another for destruction. God's making the unwilling to be willing to be saveu is the most special, sovereign, discriminating act of grace that he ever displays in the salvation of sinners. And it ought to fill the subjects of it, with the sincerest and warmest gratitude to the God of all grace.
The subject now calls upon every one to inquire, whether he has been made to experience the renewing
of God. He has, you know, graciously provided a Savior for you, tendered salvation to you and given you a day of grace and space of repentance ; and, perhaps, made you to see your danger and guilt. But has he made you willing to be saved ?
grace of God.
SAINTS DESIRE GOD TO PUNISHT SIANERS.
Psalm, xxvIII, 4-- Give them according to their deeds and according to the wickedness of their endeavours : give them after the work of their hands, render to them their desert.
These are the words of the man after God's own heart, who possessed pure benevolence and who expressed the genuine feelings of his heart, in his address to the throne of divine grace.
It appears from the preceding petitions, that he presented this with peculiar solemnity and tenderness. "Unto thee will I cry, O
I Lord my rock ; be not silent to me, lest if thou be
; silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands towards thy holy oracle. Draw me not away with the wicked and with the workers of iniquity.” And to manifest the sincerity of his request, he continues to cry, “Give them according to their deeds and according to the wickedness of their endeavours : give them after the work of their hands ; render to them their desert.” He had prayed, that God would not draw him away with the wicked, nor cast his future and final lot among them. For they appeared so odious in bis sight and so deserving of the marks of the divine displeasure, that he could not only approve of their being punished, but could sincerely desire God would punish them for his own glory and the good of all holy beings. His petition is an expression of that love to holiness and hatred ef sin, which reigns in every pious, benevolent heart. Hence we may justly draw this general conclusion.
Good men do desire God to punish finally impenitent sinners according to their deserts. I shall,
1. Show why impenitent sinners deserve to be pun. ished;
II. Show that some impenitent sinners more deserve to be punished than others ;
III. Show what is in plied in God's punishing them according to their deserts ; And,
IV. Show why good men desire God to punish them according to their deserts.
1. Let us consider why impenitent sinners deserve to be punished.
It seems to be supposed in the text, that there are three things, for which they deserve to be punished, their deeds, their works and their endeavours. But every one knows, there is no criminality or ill desert in mere external actions. Deeds and works are external actions, and simply considered, have no criminality. The ill desert of sinners, therefore, consists in something different from their works, or deeds, or external actions; and the text suggests the only ground of their ill desert. “Give them according to their deeds & according to the wickedness of their endeavours.” Their wickedness lies in their endeavours, or their intentions to do evil. All sin consists in selfishness; and all selfishness lies in the heart. The heart is the seat of sin ; and a sinful heart consists in sinful desires, intentions, or affections. When men desire or intend, or endeavor to do evil, they are really guilty and deserve to be punished. It is the dictate of common sense, that no man deserves to be punished for his conduct, when he had no evil design in it, and it is equally the dictate of common sense, that every man deserves to be punished, when he has intended, or endeavoured to do evil. It is the character of all sinners, that every imagination of the thoughts of their heart is evil, only evil continually. All their free, voluntary exercises are entirely selfish and criminal, for which they deserve to be punished. Sin and guilt are naturally and inseparably connected. Of this all sinners are conscious. They know that when they commit sin, they are guilty and deserve to be punished. Joseph's brethren acknowledged that they were verily guilty and deserved to be punished for selling him into Egypt ; and Judas condemned and punished himself, for betraying his Lord and Master. The hearts of impenitent sinners are fully set in them to do evil, for which they are conscious that they deserve to be punished, whether they are punished, or not punished. They know the reason why God threatens to punish them both in this life and the life to come. They know it is because they are continually committing sin, which is the abominable thing that God hates and that he ought to punish them for. They know that sin creates guilt and guilt creates desert of punishment. This leads us to consider,
II. That some sinners more deserve to be punished, than others. So David thought when he said to God,
give them according to the wickedness of their endeavors, render to them their desert.” These phrases convey the idea, that some sinners may be more ill deserving than others. This must be true, if ill-desert is founded in the ill intention, or design of sinners. It is evident that one sinner may have a more selfish & malevolent design, than anuther ; and of course may be more deserving of punishment. Though all sinners act from selfish and sinister motives, yet they may act from different motives and contract different degrees of guilt. One may design to take away a man's property ; another may design to take away a man's life and another may design to destroy a nation.. These are all bad designs ; but the second is worse than the first and the third is worse than the second. Cain was more criminal than Achan, and Pharaoh was more criminal than Cain.
It does not appear, that Achan intended to destroy any man's life, but Cain meant to destroy his brother's life, and Pharaoh meant to destroy a whole nation. Ill desert is always in