Imagens da página

ery. He did these things for Pharaoh, for the Israelites, who perished in the wilderness, for Judas and for thousands, who probably have been lost. And he will do all he can do consistently to save singers, who are now in their probationary state. And this is all that any of them can reasonably desire hiin to do for them. If he should do less for one than for another, it will not be owing to his want of benevolence, but to the nature of his benevolence, which regards the good of the whole, more than the good of a part. God perfectly knows whom the good of the universe requires to be saved ; and for them he will do all it is necessary for bun to do, in order to raise them from spiritual death to spiritual life and bring them home to the kingdom of glory. And with respect to those, whose future and eternal happiness, the good of the universe does not require, but forbids, they themselves will be fully convinced, that God did as much for them as he could consistently do ; and that their own negligence and obstinacy were the only faulty causes of their own ruin. They will have to blame themselves, that when God put a price into their hands to get wisdom and obtain life, they had no heart to do it, but chose death rather than life. Sinners are extremely apt to complain, that God does not do enough for them and requires them to do too much for themselves. But there is no just ground for this complaint ; for it arises entirely from the selfishness of their hearts. If they were not selfish, they would see that God does as much for them as benevolence requires him to do. If they were not selfish they would see that he requires nothing of them, but what they would be willing to do, if they were benevolent. And if they were not selfish, they would see, that he treats them in all respects, just as he ought to treat them and just as they would desire to be treated, if they were benevolent. If they would only exercise that benevolence, which God has always exercised towards them, they would find all their objections against his character and conduct cease and feel bound to praise him for every thing, of which they now complain. They would freely acknowledge that all his ways are equal, but their own have been very unequal.

5. If God acts from the same benevolent motives in loving and in punishing finally impenitent sinners ; then saints will forever love and praise him for all his conduct towards those guilty and miserable objects. They will love and praise him for mercifully providing a Savior for them, who suffered and died to atone for their sins and to open a way for their pardon and salvation. They will love and praise him for freely offering salvation to them upon the most gracious and condescending terms. They will love and praise him for giving them a day of grace and space of repentance and using so many means for so many days and months and years to bring them to repentance ; and all the while giving them a rich and ample supply of all temporal blessings. They will love and praise him for all his acts of kindness and benevolence towards the evil and unthankful in this world, during their whole probationary state. Nor will they be less disposed to love and praise him, for giving them a just recompense of reward for all their ingratitude, enmity and opposition to him and to all the holiness and happiness of the universe. They will see that his mercy towards them in time and his justice towards them in eternity are equally expressions of his pure, disinterested and universal benevolence. Being holy as God is holy and benevolent as God is benevolent, they will feel as God feels towards those guilty and miserable objects; and love and praise him for treating them as he had treated them in time and does treat them in eternity. And they will say "Amen, alleluia,” while they see the smoke of their torments ascending forever and ever. They will see, that the whole of God's conduct towards them taken together, both in time and eternity, has flowed from his perfect benevolence, for which they ought to love and praise him forever. Moses will feel that he ought to love and praise him for his whole conduct towards Pharaoh ; and the eleven apostles will feel that they ought to love and praise him for his whole

conduct towards Judas ; and all the heavenly hosts will feel, that they ought to love and praise him for all his conduct towards the spirits in prison ; which has displayed the beauties of his benevolence before the eyes of the whole intelligent creation.

6. It appears from what has been said about God's willingness and desire, that sinners might be saved, that they are extremely unwilling to be saved. They generally think and say, that they are willing to be saved and more willing to be saved than God is willing to save them. .

But what says their conduct ? does it not prove their insincerity? If they sincerely desired to be saved, would they not accept of salvation, when God has provided salvation for them, offered salvation to them, urged them to accept of it, by the most endearing and powerful motives and removed every obstacle out of their way of obtaining eternal life, but merely their unwillingness to enjoy it? Nothing but their unwillingness to be sayed has hitherto prevented their accepting of salvation, or even can prevent their accepting it, this side of eternity. They are not merely unwilling to be saved, but extremely unwilling to be saved. They are so unwilling, that no temporal good, that God can bestow upon them, can make them willing, that no eternal good, he can offer to them, can make them willing, and that no eternal evil, he can threaten to them, can make them willing. They had rather die than live; they choose eternal death rather than eternal life. God has been so willing to save them and done so much for them, to demonstrate his sincere and ardent desire to save them, that he has set their unwilling: ness to be saved, in the most visible and striking light. He has a right to ask then and to ask the whole universe, what more could I have done to save my incorrigible enemies, that I have not done ?

What more could he have done for Pharaoh ? What more could he have done for those, whom he miraculously led through the Red Sea and fed and clothed and preserved in the dreary wilderness, where they fell ? What

more could he have done for Judas, whom he allowed to live with Christ and his aposi les ? 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. 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

His grace 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 saved 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 grace 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 ?

« AnteriorContinuar »