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sinners to embrace the gospel. He sees it to be consistent to use a vast variety of means and motives to persuade sinners to comply with the offers of mercy. These things he has always been disposed to do, to save all from future and eternal misery. 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 sinners who are now in their probationary state. And this is all that any of them can reasonably desire him 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 him 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 thern 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 for ever love and praise him for all his conduct towards those guilty and miserable objects. They will love and praise him for mercifully providing a Saviour 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 for 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 for ever and
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 for ever.
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 saved has hitherto prevented their accepting of salvation, or ever 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 unwillingness to be saved in the most visible and striking light. He has a right to ask them, 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 apostles? 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 pretensions, of being 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, ap
, pears in every step he takes in actually saving sinners; but it appears more visible and illustrious in some steps than in oth
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 repentance. But he gives a brighter and more glorious display of his sovereign 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 unwil. ling 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 Saviour for
tendered salvation to you, and gives you a day of grace and space for repentance; and perhaps, made you to see your danger and guilt
. But has he made you willing to be saved?
THE NATURE AND EFFECT OF DIVINE TEACHING.
It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God Every man, therefore, that hath beard and hath learned of the Father,
cometh unto me. - Joun, vi. 45.
The mere outward means of religious instruction have never had a saving effect upon the minds of men. This has been verified in all ages, and in all nations of the world. The works and providence of God are proper means of religious instruction, which have been afforded to all mankind; but they have not received much knowledge of divine things from them. In addition to these means of divine instruction, God gave the Jews his word, his ordinances, his priests, and his extraordinary prophets; and yet, notwithstanding all these means of light, when our Saviour appeared among them, he found them enveloped in gross darkness. Though he referred them to plain prophecies respecting himself, yet they could not discover his character, nor perceive his divine mission. And though he plainly told them that he came into the world to save sinners, yet they could not be persuaded to come to him, and rely upon him for salvation. This, he knew, was owing to their moral impotency, which flowed from their moral depravity, and therefore he said unto them, “ No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him." But, at the same time, he informed them in the words of the text, that God could make them able and willing to come to him for life. “ It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” These words lead us to consider two things. VOL. VI.