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found, even in his Son, and he bids us look unto him, and be saved; and he says, that he who hath the Son hath life, and that he who believeth not the Son, the wrath of God abideth on him. To restrain, as it were, our immediate approaches to him. self, he reveals an agent, a Mediator between God and man,and he lets us know, that no one cometh unto the Father, but by him. He makes a free offer of salvation,—but it is in and through Jesus Christ, to whom the whole revealed word of God directs our eye, as the prime agent in the recovery of a guilty world. To say that we have our infirmities, but God is merciful, is like drawing direct upon God himself. But God tells us that he will not be so drawn upon. He chooses, and has he not the right of choosing, to bestow all his favours upon a guilty world, in and through his Son Christ Jesus? If you choose to object to this way, you must just abide by the consequences. The offer is made. God sets himself forward as merciful. But he lets you know, at the same time, the particular way in which he chooses to be so. This way may be an offence to you. You would perhaps have liked better, had there been no Christ, no preaching of his cross, nothing said about his cleansing, and peace-speaking blood,-in a word, nothing of all that which forms the burden of methodistical sermons, and which, if met with in the New Testament at all, is only to be found in what you may think its dark and mystical passages. It would have been more congenial to your taste, perhaps, had you been left to the undisturbed enjoyment of your own soothing and elegant conceptions,-could you just have gone direct to God himself, whom the eye of your imagination had stripped of all tremendous severity against sin, of all the pure and holy jealousies of his nature, of all that is majestic in the high attributes of truth and righteousness. A God singly possessed of tenderness, in virtue of which, he would smile connivance at all our infirmities, and bend an indulgent eye over the waywardness of a heart devoted with all its affections to the vanities and pleasures of time, this would be a God highly suited to the taste and convenience of a guilty world. But, alas! there is no such God. To trust in the mercy of such a Being as this, is to lean on a nonentity of your own imagination. It is to be led astray, by VOL. IV.-10
a fancy picture of your own forming. There is no other God to whom you can repair for mercy, but God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, and not imputing unto them their trespasses. And if you resist the preaching of Christ as foolishness, if you will not recognize him, but persist in your hop ing, and your trusting, on the general ground that God is merciful, you are just wrapping yourselves up in a delusive confidence, and pleasing yourselves with your own imagination; and the only real offer that ever was, or will be made to sinful man, you are putting away from you. The mercy upon which you rest, is in disunion with truth. It is a spark of your own kindling, and if you continue to walk in it, it will lead you into a path of darkness, and bewilder you to your final undoing.
II. The evils of such a confidence as we have been attempting to expose, are mainly reducible to two, which we shall consider in order.
First, this delusive confidence casts an aspersion on the cha `racter of God. It would inflict a mutilation upon that character. It is confidence in such a mercy as would dethrone the lawgiver, and establish the anarchy of a wild misrule, over his fallen and dishonoured attributes. We e may lightly take up with the conception that God is all tenderness, and nothing else, and thus try to accommodate the character of the Eternal, to the standard of our own convenience, and our own wishes. We, instead of looking to the immutability of the Godhead, and taking our fixed and permanent lesson from such a contempla. tion, may fancy of the Godhead, that he is ever assuming a new shape, and a new character, according to the frail and fluctuating caprices of human opinion. Instead of God making man according to his pleasure, man would form God in the mould of his own imagination. He forgets that, in the whole range of existence, he can only meet with one object who is inflexibly and everlastingly the same, and that is God,-that he may sooner think of causing the everlasting hills to recede from their basis, than of causing an infringement on the nature of the unalterable Deity, or on the designs and maxims which support the method of his administration,-that to assume a character for him in our own mind, instead of learning what the character is
from himself, is in fact to make the foolish thought of the creature, paramount to the eternal and immutable constitution of the Creator.
Let us therefore give up our own conceptions, and look steadily to that light in which God hath actually put himself forth to us. He has dealt out a variety of communications respecting his own ever-during character and attributes, to the children of men; and he tells us, that he is a God of truth, and that he is jealous of his honour, and that he will not be mocked, and that heaven and earth shall pass away, ere any of his words pass away. Let us just attend to some of these words. He who continues not in the whole book of this law, is accursed. The whole world is guilty before God. He will by no means clear the guilty. Without shedding of blood, there is no remis. sion. These are the words of God. He has put them into a record. Every one of us may read them, and compare the say ings of God, with the doings of God, and if they do not correspond, the one with the other, we may charge him with falsehood in the face of his insulting enemies, and lift the voice of mock. ery against him, and feel the triumph which rebels feel, when they witness the timidity of a feeble monarch, who does not, or dares not, carry his threats into accomplishment. And is it possible, that the throne of the eternal God can rest on a basis so tottering, or that, if ever he shall descend to the manifestation of mercy, he will not give the manifestation of his truth and his righteousness along with it?
Now, those who, without any reference to Christ, find their way to comfort on the strength of their own general confidence in God's mercy, make no account whatever of his truth, or his righteousness. What becomes of the threatenings of God? What becomes of the immutability of his purposes? What becomes of the unfailing truth of all his communications? What becomes of the solemnity of his warnings? and how is it possi ble to be at all impressed by them,-if they are ever and anon done away by a weak and capricious system of connivance? What becomes of the wide and everlasting distinctions, between obedience and sin? What becomes of the holiness of the Deity? What becomes of reverence for his name, among the wide
circle of angels, and archangels, and seraphim, and cherubim, who have all heard his awful proclamations against the children of iniquity,—if they see that any one of them may, by a mere act of confidence in his mercy, turn all that has been uttered against them into an unmeaning parade? Where, in a word, are all those sanctions and securities which can alone make the government of the Deity, to be a government at all ? These are all questions which the people to whom we allude, never think of entertaining; nor do they feel the slightest concern about them; and they count it quite enough, if they can just work themselves up into such a tolerable feeling of security, as that they shall not be disturbed in the quiet enjoyment of the good things of this life, which form all in fact that their hearts long after, and which if only permitted to retain in peace, they positively care not for the glory of God, or how shall it be kept inviolate. This is not their affair. The engrossing desire of their bosoms, is just a selfish desire after their own ease; and the strange preparation for that heaven, the unceasing song of which is, Holy and righteous are thy judgments, O thou King of Saints, is such a habit of confidence, as lays prostrate all the. majesty of these high and unchangeable perfections.
And yet if you examine these people closely, you will obtain their consent to the position, that there is a law, and that the human race are bound to obedience, and that the authority of the law is supported by sanctions, and that the truth, and justice, and dignity of the Supreme Being, are involved in these sanctions being enforced and executed. They do not refuse the tenet, that man is an accountable, subject, and that God is a judge and a lawgiver. All that we ask of them, then, is, to examine the account which this subject has to render, and they will find, in characters too glaring to be resisted, that, with the purest and most perfect individual amongst us, it is a wretched account of guilt and of deficiency. That law, which is held to be in full authority and operation over us, has been most unquestionably violated. Now, what is to be made of this? Is the subject to rebel, and disobey every hour, and the king, by a perpetual act of indulgence, to efface every character of truth and dignity from his government? Do this and you depose the
legislator from his throne. You reduce the sanctions of his law to a name, and a mockery. You bring down the high economy of heaven, to the standard of human convenience. You pull the fabric of God's moral government to pieces; and unsubstantiate all the solemnity of his proclaimed sayings,-all the lofty annunciations of the law, and of the prophets,—all that is told of the mighty apparatus of the day of judgment, all that revelation points to, or conscience can suggest, of a living and reigning God, who will not let himself down to be affronted, or trampled upon by the creatures whom he has formed.
They who, in profession, admit the truth of God, and yet take comfort from his mercy, without looking to him who bare in his own person, the accomplishment of all the threatenings, do in fact turn that truth into a lie. They who, in profession, admit the justice of God, and yet trust in the remission of their sins, without any distinct acknowledgment of him on whom God has laid the burden of their condemnation, do in fact prove, that in their mouths justice is nothing but an unmeaning articu. lation. They who in profession, admit the authority of those great and unchanging principles, which preside over the whole of God's moral administration, and yet assign to him such a loose and easy connivance at iniquity, as by a mere act of tenderness, to recal the every denunciation that he had uttered against it, do in fact put forth a sacrilegious hand to the pillars of that immutability, by which the government of creation is upheld and perpetuated. Let them rest assured, that there is no way of reconciliation, but such a way as shields all the holy, and pure, and inflexible attributes of the Divinity, from degradation and contempt.
Out of that hiding-place which is made known in the gospel, all that is just, and severe, and inflexible in the perfections of God, stands in threatening array against every son and daughter of the species. And if they will not look to God as he sets himself forth to us in the New Testament,-if they refuse to look unto him as God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, and not imputing unto them their trespasses,-if they set aside all that is said about the blood of the everlasting covenant, and the new and living way of access, and the manner in which