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vereignty, that you are not sensible how dangerous your con
and what an audacious thing it is for such a creature as man to strive with his Maker. What poor creatures are you,
should set up yourselves for judges over the Most High; that you should take it upon you to call God to an account; that
to the great Jehovah, what dost thou ? and that you should pass sentence against him! If you knew that he is God, you would not act in this manner; but this knowledge would be sufficient to still and calm you concerning all God's dispensations, and you would say with Eli, in 1 Sam. ii. 18—"It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth good in his sight."-But here I shall be more particular in several things.
1. It is froni mean thoughts of God, that you are not convinced that you have, by your sins, deserved his eternal wrath and curse.
any proper sense of the infinite majesty, greatness, and holiness of God, you would see, that to be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and there to have no rest, day nor night, is not a punishment more than equal to the demerit of sin.--You would not have so good a thought of yourselves ; you would not be so clean and pure in your own eyes; you would see what vile, unworthy, hell-deserving creatures you are. If you had not little thoughts of God, and were to consider how you have set yourselves against him—how you have slighted him, his commandments, and threatenings, and despised his goodness and mercy; how often you have disobeyed; how obstinate you have been; how your whole lives have been filled up with sin against God-you would not wonder that God threatens to destroy you for ever, but would wonder that he hath not actually done it before now.
If you had not mean thoughts of God, you would not find fault with him for not setting his love on you who never exercised any love to him. You would not think it unjust in God not to seek your interest and eternal welfare, who never would be persuaded at all to seek his glory; you would not think it unjust in him to slight and disregard you, who have so often and so long made light of God. If you had not mean thoughts of God, you never would think him obliged to bestow eternal salvation upon you, who have never been truly thankful for one mercy which you have already received of him.-What do you think of yourselves ? what great ideas have you of yourselves ? and what thoughts have you of God, that you think he is obliged to do so much for you, though you treat him ever so ungratefully for the kindness which he hath already bestowed upon you all the days of your lives? It must be from little thoughts of God, that you think it unjust in him not to regard you when you call upon him; when he hath earnestly called to you, so long and so often, and you would not be persuaded to hearken to him. What thoughts have you of God, that you think he is more obliged to hear what you say to him, than you are to regard what he says to you?
It is from diminutive thoughts of God, that you think he is obliged to show mercy to you when you seek it, though you have been for a long time wilfully sinning against him, provoking him to anger, and presuming that he would show you mercy when you should seek it. What kind of thoughts have you of God, that you think he is obliged, as it were, to yield himself up to be abused by men, so that when they have done, his mercy and pardoning grace shall not be in his own power, but he must be obliged to dispense them at their call !
2. It is from little thoughts of God, that you quarrel against his justice in the condemnation of sinners, from the doctrine of original sin. It must be because you do not know him to be God, and will not allow him to be sovereign. It is for want of a sense how much God is above you, that those things in him which are above your comprehension, are such difficulties and stumbling-blocks to you; it is for want of a sense how much the wisdom and understanding of God are above yours, and what poor short-sighted, blind creatures you are in comparison with him. If you were sensible what God is, you would see it most reasonable to expect that his ways should be far above the reason of man, and that he dwells in light which no man can approach unto, which no man hath seen, nor can see.--If men were sensible how excellent and perfect a Being he is, they would not be so apt to be jealous of him, and to suspect him in things which lie beyond their understandings. It would be no difficulty with them to trust God out of sight. What horrid arrogance in worms of the dust, that they should think they have wisdom enough to examine and determine concerning what God doth, and to pass sentence on it as unjust ? If you were sensible how great and glorious a being God is, it would not be such a difficulty with you to allow him the dignity of such absolute sovereignty, as that he should order as he pleases, whether every single man should stand for himself, or whether a common Father should stand for all.
3. It is from mean thoughts of God, that you trust in your own righteousness, and think that God ought to respect you for it. If you knew how great a Being he is, if you saw that he is God indeed, you would see how unworthy, how miserable a present it is to be offered to such a Being. It is because you are blind, and know not what a being he is with whom you have to do, that you make so much of your own righteousness. If you had your eyes open to see that he is God indeed, you would wonder how you could think to commend
yourselves to so great a Being by your gifts, by such poor affections, such broken prayers, wherein is so much hypocrisy, and so much selfishness.- If you had not very mean thoughts of God, you would wonder that ever you could think of purchasing the favour and love of so great a God by your services. You would see that it would be unworthy of God to bestow such a mercy upon you, as peace with him, and his everlasting love, and the enjoyment of himself, for such a price as you have to offer : and that he would exceedingly dishonour himself in so doing. If you saw what God is, you would exclaim, as Job did, Joblij. 5, 6. “ Now mine-eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” And as Isaiah did, chap. vi. 5. "Wo is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."
4. It is from mean thoughts of God, that you contend with him, because he bestows grace on some, and not on others. Thus God doth : he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy ; he takes one, and leaves another, of those who are in like circumstances; as it is said of Jacob and Esau, while they were not yet born, and had done neither good nor evil, Rom. ix. 10–13. With this sinners often quarrel; but they who upon this ground quarrel with God, suppose him to be bound to bestow his grace on sinners. For if he be bound to none, then he may take his choice, and bestow it on whom he pleases; and his bestowing it on some, brings no obligation on him to bestow it on others. Has God no right to his own grace? is it not at his own disposal ? and is God incapable of making a gift or present of it to any man? for a person cannot make a present of that which is not his own, or in his own right. It is impossible to give a debt.
But what a low thought of God does this argue! Consider what it is you would make of God. Must he be so tied up, that he cannot use his own pleasure in bestowing his own gifts? Is he obliged to bestow them on one, because it is his pleasure to bestow them on another? Is not God worthy to have the same right to dispose of his gifts, as a man has of his money? or is it because God is not so great, and therefore should be more subject, more under bounds, than men? Is not God worthy to have as absolute a propriety in his goods as man has in his ? At this rate, God cannot make a present of any thing; he has nothing of his own to bestow. If he have a mind to show a peculiar favour to some, to lay some under special obligations, he cannot do it, on the supposition, because his favour is not at his own disposal! The truth is, men have low thoughts of God, or else they would willingly ascribe sovereignty to him in this matter. Matt. xx. 15. "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eve evil, because I am good ??'
God is pleased to show mercy to his enemies, according to his own sovereign pleasure. And surely it is fit he should. How unreasonable is it to think that God stands bound to his enemies ! Therefore consider what you do in quarrelling with God, and opposing his sovereignty. Consider with whom it is you contend. Let all who are sensible of their misery, and afraid of the wrath of God, consider these things. Those of you who have been long seeking salvation, but are in great terrors through fear that God will destroy you, consider what you have heard, be still, and know that he is God. When God seems to turn a deaf ear to your cries ; when he seems to frown upon you ; when he shows mercy to others, your equals, or those who are worse, and who have been seeking a less time than you ; be still. Consider who he is that disposes and orders these things. You shall consider it; you shall know it: he will make all men to know that he is God. You shall either know it for your good here, by submission, or to your cost hereafter.
GREAT GUILT NO OBSTACLE TO THE PARDON
OF THE RETURNING SINNER.
PSALM XXV. 11.
For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
It is evident by some passages in this psalm, that when it was penned, it was a time of affliction and danger with David. This appears particularly by the 15th and following verses : “ Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net,” &c. His distress makes him think of his sins, and leads him to confess them, and to cry to God for pardon, as is suitable in a time of affliction. See verse 7. "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions ;' and verse 18. “ Look upon mine affliction, and my pain, and forgive all my sins."
It is observable in the text, what arguments the psalmist makes use of in pleading for pardon.
1. He pleads for pardon for God's name's sake. He has no expectation of pardon for the sake of any righteousness or worthiness of his for any good deeds he had done, or any compensation he had made for his sins; though if man's righteousness could be a just plea, David would have bad as much to plead as most. But he begs that God would do it for his own name's sake, for his own glory, for the glory of his own free grace, and for the honour of his own covenant-faithfulness.
* Not dated. All the Sermons in this collection which are not dated, are supposed to have been written before the year 1733, as from that period our author dated his Sermons.