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overrun with rotten ulcers; if your features were all convulsed and distorted into the most hideous forms; if your limbs were all shattered and dislocated; if your taste were so vitiated that you loathed all healthful food, and you should crawl upon the earth, feeding on its mire and dirt; all this would not render you half so odious and horrible a monster as a soul disaffected towards God. Again, what an aggravated wickedness must this be? Your obligations to love him are just in proportion to his loveliness and excellency; and the wickedness of breaking these obligations is in exact proportion to their strength. And as his excellency and your obligations are infinite, your wickedness in not loving him must be so too. What illustration shall I use to represent this crime in its proper infernal colours? If you should commence an enemy to the whole creation; prosecute men and angels with implacable abhorrence; detest the father that begat you, and the breasts that gave you suck; nay, if you should commence a direct enemy to yourself, be perpetually plotting against your own life, all this would not equal the crime of hating the ever-blessed God; for all these beings together have no excellency compared to him, and your obligation to love him is prior and fundamental to all others. Here your love should begin, here it should centre, and then extend its lines to all parts of the circle of creation; therefore, no more plead your innocence. If had you never committed one sin beside in all your life, this one of not loving God is sufficient to condemn you for ever to the lowest hell. Further, this sin will appear more aggravated, if you consider, that, by not loving God, you do in the strongest manner declare, that he has not these excellences, but is a worthless being, undeserving of your love. When you do not love him, after all the discoveries he has made of himself to you, it is plain that this is the habitual
sense of your hearts, that he has no excellency worthy of your love. This is the language of your hearts; and this language is much more strong and expressive than that of your lips. You may speak things inadvertently, which your second thoughts would retract; but by being all your life destitute of the love of God, you have all your life been declaring that you look upon him as a worthless being, far inferior to a thousand things upon earth, to which you have given your love. Now you would not dare to utter such blasphemy as this, and how can you dare to declare it, much more strongly, by the temper of your hearts, and stand to it as a truth? Oh! will you never retract it by becoming a lover of God? My brethren, can you imagine a more shocking, insolent wickedness than this? And what a hateful soul must that be that has been guilty of it all its days! What is this but to say, with the atheistic fool, No God? for he is not God, if he be not supremely excellent and amiable. And if you wish there were no God, what do you do but wish universal desolation, and imprecate destruction to yourself and every other being? For were there no God, there could be nothing else; there would not have been one spark of being through infinite space in any point of duration.
2. Your not loving God is a most unnatural wickedness. He is your Father; and that in a higher sense than your earthly parents can be. He is the author of your bodies, because it was he that first established, and still continues in force, those laws of generation, by which they were produced: and had it not been for this, men could no more produce one another than a stone or a clod of earth. As to your souls, the nobler part of your persons, they are his immediate offspring, produced by him without the instrumentality of secondary causes, of any
pre-existent materials. Thus he is your Father in the highest sense; and yet you have not loved him. You have not loved him who gave you the power of love. You have not loved him from whose creative hands you came a few years ago. What an unnatural wickedness is this! What were you a hundred years ago? You were nothing; and you would have continued so to all eternity, had he not spoke you into being. And yet you have not sincerely loved him to this moment. Most astonishing! Must you not tremble at and abominate yourselves as the vilest and most unnatural monsters? Should the child that received his being from you in a subordinate sense, the child you dandled upon your knees, and for whom you are now laboriously making provision, should he hate the sight of you, shun your company, and do nothing to please you, how would you take it? Would you not think the unnatural miscreant unworthy of life? And yet thus you have treated your heavenly Father, to whom you were under much higher and more endearing obligations. You have treated him as only a despised broken idol, in whom you could take no pleasure. And are you pleased with yourselves notwithstanding? Shall not such a shocking prodigy, at which angels gaze with horror, be struck with horror at itself? Should all the world treat God as you have done, what would be the consequence? Why, there would not be one lover of God to be found among all the numerous race of man. And yet, if you have a right to hate him, they have too. Have you any peculiar indulgence in this case? Can you produce an exemption from that universal law, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c.? You see, then, whither your conduct leads, and do you not shudder to think of it? And can you imagine yourselves innocent still? Do you think you have tolerably good hearts for all? I am sure your
reason, if it be not entirely lost, will not allow you to think so.
3. This is a most ungrateful wickedness. Think what God has done for you; how many mercies he has given you, as many mercies as moments; think how many deliverances he has wrought for you: see what a well-furnished world he has formed for your accommodation. Think, oh think, of the love and sufferings of Jesus; see the abasement, the labours, the hardships of his life; see the agonies of his crucifixion; see the crown of thorns, the mangled visage, the disjointed limbs, the flowing blood, the bursting heart, the dying pangs of your blessed Redeemer. Oh! think upon and view these things, and then say, what do you think of your enmity against him after all this? Can ingratitude rise to a higher pitch? Oh! is this your return for all the kindness of God? for all the love of Jesus? There was something very cutting in his question to the Jews, "Many good works have I done among you." I have never provoked you by anything but good works; "and for which of these do you stone me?" John x. 32. This may be easily accommodated to you. Many kind actions has he done to you, many grievous sufferings has he undergone for you; and for which of these do you hate him? Oh! must not such an expostulation wound you to the heart, and melt you down at his feet in the deepest repentance? Oh! can you continue enemies to the very cross of Christ? Must not that disarm your resentment, and dissolve your hearts, hard as they are, into the most tender love?
4. This is a most comprehensive wickedness. You are repeatedly told, that love is the fulfilling of the law. Rom. xiii. 8, 10; James ii. 8. The first and great commandment upon which (with a like precept with regard to our neighbour) the whole law and the prophets depend,
is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," &c., that is, love is the root, the principle, the substance of all obedience, because it constrains a man to a cheerful observance of every divine precept, and naturally disposes him to a dutiful conduct. Now, if love be the fulfilling of the whole law, it follows, that the want of love is the breach of the whole law: it is dashing the two tables of the law in pieces at once. As love is the principle of all obedience, so enmity is the principle of all disobedience; and while this reigns in your hearts, it diffuses a deadly poison through every thing you do; and you cannot perform one action acceptable to God. All your endeavours are but the treacherous flattery of an enemy, or the forced homage of a rebel obliged to feign submission. In short, the want of love to God is the want of every thing that is morally good: it is the root of all evil; it is a complication of all wickedness; a summary, nay, I may say, the sum total of all disobedience and rebellion. And can you any longer build your hopes on the fewness or smallness of your sins? Alas! while you are possessed of this temper, your hearts are full of every evil. This renders not only your actions, your words, and thoughts of every kind, guilty and vile, but the stated, settled bent and disposition of your minds, most wicked and abominable.* And must you not fall on your faces before your injured Sovereign, and cry, Guilty, guilty? But,
5. This is a most inexcusable wickedness. Your mouth must be stopped, and you have no plea left to excuse or extenuate it. You cannot plead here, as you do in some other things, "There are so many different denominations in the world, so many different opinions about religion,
When the omniscient God views you asleep, when all the powers of 'action are suspended, what can he say of you but this, "Here lies an enemy of God !"