« EelmineJätka »
which is the just reward of your multiplied tranf: gressions ? Must it always be the lot of poor ministers to labour in vain, and to say, with the lament. ing prophet, “ Who hath believed our report?” If you die in a state of impenitence, you will mort certainly feel, ere long, what you will not now believe. The threatenings of God's holy word will not fall to the ground. In the latter day, when all hope is paft, you will consider them, and feel to your cost, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. You say, “ I shall have peace though I walk in the way of my own heart," but it will be seen by and by, whose word shall stand, yours, or that of the God of truth. Death and judgment will decide the controversy.
Perhaps some will say, “ You are very harsh and severe; why do you dwell so much upon God's favour? Will he disown his creatures ? We hope he is more merciful than you would represent him."
To this I answer, by asking such persons, “ Do you imagine that all men are in a state of acceptance with their Maker? Do you think that none shall be hereafter punished for their crimes ? If you will not believe the awful declarations of his own mouth, but make the God of truth a liar, you will be convinced of your miltake, when conviâion will come too late, and cost you dear. Hath he not said, that
he will not be merciful to any wicked and impeni. tent transgressor ? Hath he not said of some, “ They are a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them will have no mercy on them, he that formed them will shew them no favour ?"
How dreadful is the state of that man who cannot be happy unless God falsify his word, but who must perish if his word be true! He hath said most positively, for substance, that impenitent persons are not in his favour, that unconverted, unholy men cannot be saved, yet you hope it may be otherwise: that is to say, you hope that he who speaks to you in his sacred word, is not God.; for, if he be God, he must be holy, righteous, just and true, and not altogether such a one as yourselves. But know, O finners, that justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne. He will by no means clear the guilty, the persevering finner. He will reprove you, and set your sins in order before you. Confider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you.
There are some persons who may be called pre. * sumers on God's favour. They imagine themselves in a state of acceptance with their Maker, yet have no scriptural evidence of their being so. But that confidence, which is not supported by the divine word, is no better than presumption. A poor man
may imagine that a distant relation, who is very rich, will bequeath to him a considerable part of his inheritance; but if he has no promise, nor any kind of intimation from the proprietor of the estate, that he will do so, the poor man's expectation is ill founded; in fact it is presumption. It is like the wild conceit of the infatuated Athenian, who imagined that every Ship which entered the harbour was his own. In matters of religion, we often find those persons the most confident, who have the least ground or reason to be so.
There is a manifest difference between a prefumptuous finner, and a man of real piety. The one is bold and confident, without any regard to the declarations of God in his facred word; the other is jealous over himself, lest he should be de. ceived, and often distressed with fears and misgivings of mind. The one talks of nothing but the inercy of God, without any regard to his holiness, bis justice and his truth. The other is affected with that view of the divine character which is given us in the bible. He treibles before the Majesty of a fin-avenging God; and can take no encourage. ment from any proposed system, which does not discover how divine justice can be satisfied for the offences he has committed, as well as mercy displayed in pardoning them. Nothing can give his
pour 44. wounded confcience relief, but that which secures due honour to God, in all his attributes.
The presuming finner regards nothing so much as his own security from destruction; the gracious man is concerned, not only about the pardon of his fins, and the justification of his person, but about the purification of his heart, and the conformity of his life to the will of God. He hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and cries with the Pfalmift, “ O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes ! Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect to all thy commandments.” He knows, that though the salvation of the soul is entirely of the free grace of God, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, yet where that salvation is expe. rienced in reality, the fruits of it will be apparent. This consideration prevents him from being too bold and confident in concluding upon his interest in the divine favour. It is far from being my intention to encourage a state of suspence, of doubting, and of distrust, in the minds of sincere chris.. tians. Let not such cast away their confidence, but rather let them give diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end. The reader should remember, that I am now addressing myself to such as presume that they are in God's favour, on improper and uncertain grounds. For instance,
*** One man thinks himself in God's favour, because he is indulged with worldly prosperity. But this we have seen is an improper conclusion. Another thinks well of his state because he is attended with many troubles and calamities. But afflictions are no signs of favour, unless they are sanctified, and produce the peaceable fruits of righteousness in those who are exercised thereby. One thinks his state good because he hears the word preached regularly, and enjoys the ordinances of God in their appointed seasons. But many will say at last, “ We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast - taught in our streets ;” to whom the great Judge will
reply, “ I never knew you.” Another concludes he is one of God's children, because he has acquired a good degree of religious knowledge, can talk fluently on divine subjects, and express himself in prayer with great rea liness and propriety. But let him remember, that Judas had gifts as well as the rest of the apostles; and though a person could speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, he is nothing.
One man thinks himself in the favour of God, because his life is very different to what it was at a former period. But reformation is not regeneration.' An ther concludes he is the object of God's love, because he is bountiful and liberal to the ne