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punish him, certainly he must be a being of very great importance indeed ; and sin against God must be a very small evil. To save a sinner in a way that would give any room for such insinuations as these, would be inconsistent with the honour of God and his government ; and therefore the plan he has constituted is a method of grace, of pure rich grace, in all and every part. Now, while sinners are not willing to be saved in this way, they are not willing to be saved at all. Here lies their grand mistake : Be. cause they have a general willingness that Christ should save them from hell, they, therefore, conclude they are really willing to come to him according to the gospel-constitution, whereas there is nothing in the world to which they are more averse. There are many that think, and perhaps declare, they would give ten thousand worlds for Christ, when, in reality, they are not willing to receive him as a free gift : they are not yet brought to that extremity as to fly to him. No, the sinner is brought low indeed before he is brought to this. He is entirely cut off from all hope from every other quarter; particularly, he sees that he cannot shelter himself any longer under the covert of his own righteousness, but that he will be overwhelmed with a deluge of divine vengeance, unless he hides himself under the wings of Jesus.
I beg you would examine yourselves impartially on this point, 'my brethren, for here lies the grand delusion that ruins thousands. If you are really willing to fly to Jesus, and be saved by him in his own way, you may be sure he is infinitely more willing than you are ; nay, your willingness is the effect of bis, for he first made you so. But, if, when you examine the matter to the bottom, you find, that notwithstanding all your pretensions, you are really unwilling to fly to him, consider your dangerous situation ; for,
6. The text implies, that this unwillingness of sinners is the l'eal cause of their destruction.
Sinners complain of the want of ability : but what is their inability but their unwillingness? Coming to Christ is an act of the will, and, therefore, to will it heartily, is to perform the act. To be unable to come to him is to be so perverse, so disaffected to Jesus Christ, as not to have power to will to come to bim. This, by the way, shews the vanity of that popular excuse, “I am not able to fly to Christ, and therefore it is not my fault if I do not.” That is, you are so wicked that you can do no good thing ; you are so disaffected to Jesus Christ that you have no
will, no inclination, to choose him for your Saviour ; you are such an obstinate enemy to him, that you would rather perish than take him for your Friend ; therefore your not coming to him is no crime. Is this consistent reasoning ? Is it not all one, as if a rebel should think to excuse himself by pleading, "I have such an inveterate hatred to my sovereign, that I cannot love him :" Or a robber, “ I have such an aversion to honesty, that I cannot possibly help stealing ?” Would not this be an aggravation of the crime rather than an excuse? Is the invincible strength of your disaffection to Christ, a vindication of it? Are you the more excuseable, by how much the more you hate him ? Sinners, give up his foolish reasoning, for the matter is too important to be trifled with. Your inability in this case is nothing else but your unwillingness ; and your unwillingness is the effect of nothing else but your disaffection to Jesus Christ; therefore own that this is the true cause of your destruction.
In short, whatever pleas and excuses you make, you will find at last that your destruction is entirely the effect of your own perverse choice.
Ye will not come unto Christ that ye might have life, John v. 40, and therefore you must perish without it. This reflection will forever torment you, that you wilfully destroyed yourselves, and were guilty of the most unnatural selfmurder. Jesus was willing but you would not.
God has even sworn that he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he turn and live. To you therefore I may properly address that expostulation, Why will ye die ? Why will ye? why do ye most wilfully destroy yourselves ? why do ye ruin yourselves by your own free choice ? why will you die ? you, whom Jesus is willing to save, whom he has so often invited, why will you, above all men in the world, causelessly die by your own act? Are you capable of so much stupidity ? It is a stupidity that is a dreadful peculiarity of your own, for,
7. Unwillingness to fly to Jesus is the most irrational, and worse than brutal stupidity.
This is implied in my text. No sooner does the hen give the signal of danger, than her little family, taught by instinct to understand the alarm, immediately fly under her wings. “So, says Christ, I gave you the alarm, but you would not regard it ; so I spread out the wing of my guardian care to defend you, but you would not shelter under it.” What more than brutal stupidity is
In this light, the conduct of sinners is frequently exposed in the sacred writings. The ox knoweth his owner, says Isaiah, and the ass his master's crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Isaiah i. 3. Every one turneth to his course, says Jeremiah, as the horse rusheth into the battle ; yea, the stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times ; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming ; but my people, more stupid than they, know not the judgment of the Lord. Jer. viii. 6, 7. To resuse the offer of eternal salvation, wben proposed upon the most reasonable termsmto rush into hell, rather than be saved by the friendly hands of Jesus Christ-to suffer the most terrible execution, rather than accept a free pardon-o reject all the bliss of heaven when freely proposed—10 choose the pleasures of sin for a season, rather than an eternity of the most exalted happiness-o resist the calls of redeeming love, and all the friendly efforts of divine grace, to save a sinking soul-is this the conduct of a reasonable creature? No ; shew me the brute, if you can, that would act so stupid a part in things that come within the sphere of his capacity. Would it not be better for you to be a cat or dog (to use the language of the Earl of Rochester) than that animal Man, who is so proud of being rational, if you make so irrational a choice? Let me endeavour to make you sensible,
8. And lastly, that this conduct is extremely affecting and lamentable.
It is on this account, that Jesus laments over Jerusalem in such pathetic strains in my text. He knew the truth of the case ; his all-seeing eye took it in all its extent, and viewed it in all its circumstances and consequences. And since he, who knew it best, deeply laments it, we may be sure it is lamentable indeed, and it cannot but appear so even to us who know so little of it. An immortal soul lost! lost forever! lost by its own obstinacy! lost amidst the means of salvation! how tragical a case is this? -God dishonoured ! Jesus rejected ! his love defeated ! his blood trampled upon ! his spirits grieved ! how lamentable is this ? -- And yet are there not some of you in this lamentable condition in this assembly? It was over such as you that Jesus wept and mourned. And shall he weep alone ? Shall not our tears keep time with his, since we are so much more nearly concerned ? O that our heads were waters, and our eyes fountains of tears, that we might weep along with the Saviour of men ! But, alas ! our tears are too much reserved for dying friends, or some less affecting object, while immortal souls perish around us, unpitied, unlamented !
THE NATURE OF LOVE TO GOD AND
CHRIST OPENED AND EN
JOHN xxi. 17. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jo
nas, lovest thou me ? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovert thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things ; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
THERE is nothing more essential to religion, or of more importance in it, than divine love. Divine love is the sole spring of all acceptable obedience in this life, and the grand pre-requisite for complete happiness in the enjoyment of God in the world to come.; and without it, all our religion, all our gifts and improvements, however high and miraculous, are vain.
And as it is of the utmost importance in reality, it is confessed to be so by all mankind, who acknowledge the existence of a Deity. Whatever be the religion, or whatever be the object, still it is universally acknowledged, that love is an essential part of it. And indeed the evidence for this is so very glaring, that it is no wonder mankind have not been able to shut their eyes against it. Religion without love, is as great a contradiction as friendship without love. To worship a God whom we do not love, to adore excellencies which we disaffect, to profess a religion founded by an enemy, this is the greatest absurdity imaginable. Such a religion must appear abominable to God and man.
Now divine love is the subject of my text, which I have chosen for your present meditation ; and you see I bave not chosen a subject that is trifling in itself, or the disputed peculiarity of a party. You need not, therefore, be under apprehensions, that I would proselyte you to any thing but the sincere love of God and Jesus, Christ. However, I would not have you judge of my design by my verbal declarations, but by the apparent tendency of my discourse, of which you will be able to form a judgment when I have done. Therefore entertain no prejudices or suspicions till you see reason, lest you deprive yourselves of that benefit you might otherwise receive from your present attendance. VOL. II.
There is so little solicitous inquiry among men concerning the sincerity of their love to God, that it would seem self-evident, and beyond all dispute.- Whatever sins they indulge themselves in, however much they practically neglect God and religion, yet still they insist upon it, they love him sincerely. This piece of merit they all claim, as belonging to them beyond dispute. But is divine love indeed a thing so common, so universal? We read that the carnal mind is enmity against God. Rom. viji. 7. And is there no such thing as a carnal mind now to be found upon earth ? We are told of some that were haters of God. Rom. i. 30.-enemies in their minds by wicked works. Col. i. 21. And are there none such to be found among us? The heart-searching Jesus, while conversant among mortals, told the Jews, who made so great a profession of their love to God, and suspected their own sincer. ity as little as any of us, I know you, that you have not the love of God in you. John v. 42. And were he now to pass sentence upon us, would he not make the same declaration with regard to sundry of us, who, perhaps, are least apprehensive of it? Is it a needless thing for us to enter into a serious conference with our own hearts, and ask them," Do I indeed love the ever blessed God, and the only Saviour? Will my love stand the test? What are its properties and effects ?” Is this, my brethren, a superfluous or impertinent inquiry? I am sure it did not seem so to Christ who put Peter to the trial upon this point no less than thrice.
Our Lord made a meal with his disciples, to convince them of the reality of his body after his resurrection. When it was finished, he turns to Peter, and asks him a very serious question, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? The very proposal of the question seems to suppose that Peter had given some reason to suspect his love to him, as he had really done, a few days before, by denying him thrice, with shocking aggravations; and with this reference the inquiry was very cutting to Peter, and no doubt made him think thus with himself: " Ah ! it is no wonder my Lord should call my love in question, who so lately most ungratefully denied him.” The question is put to him openly, before the whole company, which might perhaps increase his confusion ; but it was prudently ordered, that he might declare his love to Jesus as openly as he had denied him, and that his brethren might be satisfied of his sincerity, and recovery from his late fall.
The first form of the question implies a comparison : Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these that is, more than