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4. If Moses acted virtuously and acceptably to God in the view of future and eternal reward ; then it is no just objection against the gospel, that it proposes future. rewards and punishments to men, to induce them to shun the broad road to destruction and walk in the straight and narrow way to eternal life. The Earl of Shaftsbury, one of the inost celebrated Deists in Britain, objects against the divinity of the gospel, because it promises eternal life to the obedient and threatens eternal death to the disobedient. It cannot be denied that the gospel does promise eternal life and threaten eternal death, as motives to induce men to embrace it. Christ sent forth his ministers to preach the gospel to all the world, clothed with these solemn sanctions.--“ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” These are the most weighty and powerful motives, that could be proposed to mankind in their present guilty and perishing state, to accept the offers of the gospel. And they are as well adapted to excite benevolence, as selfish exercises in the hearts of all men. comply with these motives, only in the exercise of true benevolence. Moses and the patriarchs and the proph. ets and the primitive Christians complied with the terms of the gospel, from pure, disinterested love to God and man and themselves. Christ often and plainly declared, that no man could follow him and become bis disciple, without exercising true disinterested love; when the amiable young man in the gospel desired him to point out the way to eternal lise, he directed him to renounce selfishness and exercise and express disinterested benevolence. But he refused to do it and went away sorrowful.
Holiness and happiness are the only things, which are good in their own nature; and sin and misery are the only things, which are evil in their own nature. If men act at all, they must act in the view of these motives. But they can act as benevolently, as selfishly, in the view of these motives, Though the gospel, therefore, exhibits these motives before the minds of men ; yet it does not require them
Nor can any
to act selfishly in the view of them, but absolutely commands them to act benevolently in the view of them. There would be weight in Shaftsbury's objection, if the gospel required men to act selfishly in the view of future rewards and punishments. The rewards of the gospel are such, that none but those, who possess disinterested benevolence, can desire them, or obtain them, or enjoy them. Those, who proposed to follow Christ and embrace the gospel upon selfish motives, he immediately condemned and rejected. It is only in the exercise of pure disinterested love, that any can have a due respect to the recompense of reward and finally obtain it.
5. If Moses, in the exercise of disinterested love obtained the recompense of reward to which he had respect; then all real saints have great encouragement to persevere in their religious course. They are in the way, in the very way that thousands have walked and received a crown of glory which fadeth not away. All the promises of the gospel apply to them, and assure them a future and eternal reward. They have not greater trials, difficulties and obstacles to surmount, than Moses and Joshua and Caleb and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob surmounted. They have no more reason to be discouraged, than all the patriarchs and prophets and apostles had. But they cndured to the end and obtained the promised reward, to which their eyes and hearts had respect. The reason was, they lived in the exercise of that disinterested love, which many waters cannot quench and which the floods cannot drown. Disinterested love will have the same powerful effect now, that it ever bas had. While Christians keep themselves in the love of God, it will dispose them cheerfully to give up what God calls them to give up ; to endure what God calls them to endure and to do what God calls them to do. God has connected duty and happiness together in the gospel.-And Christians cannot promote their own happiness more effectually and infallibly, than by seeking the glory of God and the interests of his kingdom : for
all his interests are theirs ; and they shall enjoy them as far as their capacities and desires will permit.
6. If Moses and other good men were governed by disinterested love, in seeking and obtaining a future and eternal reward ; then none have any reason to expect to obtain a crown of righteousness, without exercising true disinterested love. You may now call the distinction between selfishness and disinterested benevolence a mere metaphysical and trifling distinction. But you will find it is a scriptural distinction, wbich will determine your eternal destiny. And unless you turn from selfishness to benevolence, you will be rejected at the last day and be separated from the benevolent, denied their reward and doomed to suffer the due reward of your selfish and sinful conduct to all eternity
7. This subject now asks all, whether they are walk ing in the straight and narrow way to heaven. Have you that respect to recompense, that Moses had ? His life, his death, and his present state are recorded. He has arrived to heaven safe. Look at his character and conduct and compare your own with his. If you find a resemblance, take the comfort of it.
But if not, you have reason to fear, that you will lose the promise of rest and never sit down with the blessed in the kingdom of glory.
THE DEATH OF SINNERS NOT PLEASING TO GOD.
Ezekiel, xviii, 32.- For I have no pleasure in him that dieth, saith the Lord God.
There has long been a controversy between God and sinners. They have complained of him for his conduct towards them ; and he has complained of them for their conduct towards him. In this chapter be condescends to state the controversy between him and them and to show them plainly, that they have no rea. son to complain of him, but that he has good reason to complain of them. He demands, “What mean ye,
, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge ? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine, as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine : the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” After this declaration, he goes on to say, that he always has treated and always would treat every man according to his real character. If a man were righteous, he would treat him as righteous, whether his father were righteous, or not ; and if a man were wicked, he would treat him as wicked, whether his father were wicked, or not.
So that “the son should not bear the iniquity of the father, neither the father the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” But this would not silence the complaints of the wicked. They would yet say, "The way of the Lord
is not equal.” God therefore appeals from their reason to their conscience. "O house of Israel, are not my ways equal ? are not your ways unequal ?" He then solemnly assures them, that, notwithstanding their guilt and obstinacy, he bad rather they should be forever happy, than forever miserable For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God.” The plain import of these words is this :
That God is so far from being willing that any of mankind should die, that he sincerely desires that all should live. I shall,
I. Consider what is here to be understood by men's dying ;
II. Show that God is unwilling that any should die ; And,
III. Show that he sincerely desires that all should live.
I. We are to consider, what is to be understood, in the text and this discourse, by men's dying.
The scripture mentions three kinds of death ; temporal death, spiritual death and eternal death. Temporal death is the dissolution of the connection between the soul and body. Spiritual death is the total corruption or depravity of the heart. Eternal death is complete and endless misery in a future state. Temporal death is a common calamity, which none can escape. It is appointed to all men once to die ; dust they are and unto dust they must return. By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned.---Spiritual death is as universal as temporal. By nature, all men are dead in trespasses and sins and under the entire dominion of an evil heart. But eternal death is peculiar to the finally impenitent. Though all men deserve eternal death, yet none but the finally impenitent shall suffer eternal misery. These reject the counsel of God against themselves, practically judge themselves unworthy of eternal life and must suffer the second death, which is the full and proper wages of sin. As soon as they leave this world, they will go