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having sinned, it remains with God to punish or to pardon him. If he punish he is just.. He may leave the whole to perish, or only a part, and still will be just. If it be just to punish all, it is just to punish every one; and though some be redeemed, it will not take away the equity of punishment on others. Pardon to one sinner can never render the punishment of another unjust. To suppose that all men may be justly punished, and yet God must not punish some one of them, is inconsistent; because it supposes that such a person has a just claim to be exempted from punishment.
THE Corrupt heart is forward to charge partiality on the divine procedure, because all are not either punished or pardoned. Partiality is chargeable only when a person shows much more favour to one than to another, while he is under the same obligations of justice to both. God is obliged to none, he owes no man any thing, and therefore violates no obligation when he pardons one and reserves another to punishment. If there are any such here as thus charge God wickedly, Christ says to them, "Is thine eye evil because I am good? Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?" Paul also accosts such in these words, "But what art thou, O man (O sinner) who repliest against God?" Canst thou plead not guilty? Art not thou a vessel of wrath, fitted for destruction? Hast thou not made thyself vile? Hast thou not pursued the pleasures of sin? Hast thou not sinned presumptuously against God, in the face of admonitions, and in contempt of mercies? And hast thou the effrontery to think that, because thou hast done all this, thou hast a claim upon divine mercy? But thou art miserable. Yes; thou canst not, however, impute this to God; it is
the fruit of thy sin; and it can give thee no claim to mer cy. But perhaps thou wouldst be silent if others were not pardoned. Is thy just condemnation too little? Would thy satisfaction increase in proportion as misery became more extended? Dost thou regret that any sinner escapes condemnation? If so, the features of thy father the devil characterise thee; and the same infernal lusts reign in thy heart. The reprobate thief on the cross did not upbraid Christ for reaching mercy to his fellow, and Dives, in the parable, did not wish others to come to the same place of torment. But thou must exceed these in the wickedness of thy heart. Dost thou still reply that, "God shews mercy to others?" He does So. "He shows mercy, to whom he will show mercy." Does he owe mércy, as a debt, to any? Can they
He might have withheld
claim it as their right? No: it, as he yet does from thee. and if he extend mercy to any, it lays him under no obligation to others-nor to thee. His shewing mercy to Peter did not oblige him to pardon Judas. mercy is his own; he may dispose of it as he pleases; but you deny him this right when you fault him for pardoning others, and overlooking you. Such thoughts of God are not uncommon. They are naturally in the hearts of all men; who from the abundance of their hearts, often pronounce the ways of the Lord unequal. You bewray the grossest ignorance of God, of sin, and of yourselves. While you remain so, you will become more obdurate in your wickedness; the enmity of your hearts against God will become more intense; you will persevere in despising that mercy, which you think is so partially and unjustly distributed; and you will thereby render your final condemnation more inexcusable, and more dreadful. God offers
you his mercy, but you despise it, and condemn him. Labour to acquire just notions of him and of his law; of yourselves and of sin; and you will see good reason to justify him, even in your own condemnation. Take a view of that mercy, which you now so much vilify, as rich mercy, freely offered, and approach the throne of grace with the prayer of the poor publican, "God be merciful to me a sinner."
3. THE Condition of those who reject the mercy of God in Christ, must be very alarming and terrible. Jehovah is holy and righteous, as well as merciful and gracious. There is no display of mercy but in Christ, and he alone is the medium through which it can reach the sinner. The righteous judge of all the earth can justify him that believes in Jesus; but if Jesus is rejected, and divine mercy, exhibited in him, refused; the claim of justice to satisfaction is denied, and the sufferings of Jesus, for reconciling the guilty to God, are de preciated. This leaves the sinner in the hands of justice, defenceless and hopeless. There is only one name revealed by which salvation can be obtained; and when this name is rejected, endless ruin is inevitable. "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." John viii. 24.
You would do well, gospel hearers, to consider,not only the nature and tendency of sin, in general, but of unbelief in particular. It is by it that you reject the mercy of God in Christ. No sin you can commit will finally ruin your souls, unless you add that of unbelief, in rejecting the Saviour. It is his work to save from sin;. and by believing in him, you shall have that salvation; but if you reject him by unbelief, your condemnation is for ever sealed; and you are for ever excluded from divine mercy, with your sin fearfully aggravated. In vain * E
do you presume on the mercy of God without the Saviour. Mercy is indeed essential to God, but it is through the Redeemer alone that it can reach you. It runs only in this channel; and if forsake this you can never meet with it any where else. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me; I am the way, and the truth, and the life." John xiv. "How then shall you escape if you neglect so great salvation?" Consider what the law is, what its language to you is, what its terms are; for while you reject the gospel, you have no other terms of dealing with God, but those of the law. You are extensively guilty; and by rejecting mercy, you have justified all your sins, and declared that you are ready to meet divine justice, and answer for yourselves. Your doom is already known. "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them." Take a view of the sufferings of Christ, and you will be able to form some idea of the greatness of your punishment. These were exceeding great, yet were no more than justice demanded, in order to the pardon of sin. Do you flatter yourselves that you shall escape with impunity, or an alleviation of punishment, when no such indulgence could be granted to the Son of God? On what footing do you rest your claim? Are you highly in favour with God? Are you innocent? No indeed. You are the implacable enemies of God, and are exceedingly guilty. You live under the gospel of divine grace; and instead of improving it, you despise it; you continue still to love your lusts, and seek their gratification; the world employs all your thoughts, and you have no concern about your immortal souls; you associate with the profane, and live in the commission of many sins; you neglect the word of God; you resist the stirrings of the Spirit, and suppress
the convictions of your consciences; you neglect the ordinances and duties of religion, or perform them in an unprepared, formal and listless manner. Is it on such grounds as these that you expect the divine favour? In these practices you are pouring the highest contempt on the rich mercy of God, which offers you salvation in Jesus; and certainly you can never account God unjust, if he shall refuse your claim, and leave you among those who" are rejected, nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned." In this way you are treasuring up unto yourselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Divine wrath awaits you. It is like a torrent obstructed, whose waters collect, rise higher, and become heavier, and at last burst forth with irresistible impetuosity, and sweep all before them. In the mean time it is restrained, yet as you are filling up the measure of your sin, it is collecting, and will, when God opens the flood-gates, break forth upon you and sweep you off for ever. These waters will overflow your hiding place, whatever it is, if it be not Christ: They will never be assuaged, nor will you ever be able to get out of them; but they shall for ever go over, and even come into your souls.
4. IN the divine procedure towards us, we may expect a display of much sovereignty. The plan of salvation was laid in sovereignty, and it will certainly be executed in the same manner; because the whole of it is the execution of the divine will. Let us not presume to think that Jehovah will consult us, ask our counsel,
or communicate his will to us, in any part of his procedure. The Bible contains every information we need, in any case; whatever is beyond this belongs not to us, but to the secret will of God. The divine procedure may, in many instances, be inexplicable to us, and per