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hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up.” "I am so troubled that I cannot speak." "Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be towards this people." "Can two walk together except they be agreed? The Lord hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" "How can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." "Ye can discern the face of the sky, but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" "Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin." "Can the children of the bride-chamber fast while the bridegroom is with them?" "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" In none of these passages does the word denote any thing more than a strong disinclination. So when it is said, "No man can come to me except the Father -draw him," the meaning, as it is explained by the same lips, is only this, "Ye will not come to me that ye might have life."*
Accordingly the Bible from first to last treats men as possessed of ample power. It invites them: "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." "The spirit and the bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." It expostulates with them: "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" It laments over them: "O that they were wise! that they understood this! that they would consider their latter end!" "He beheld the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in
* Gen. xix. 22. and xxxvii. 4. 1 Chron. xxi. 29, 30. 12. and lxxvii. 4. Jer. xv. 1. Amos iii. 3, 8. Mat. Mark ii. 19. John v. 40. and vi. 44, 60. 2 Pet. i. 14.
Job vi. 6. Ps. xl. xii. 34. and xvi. 3.
this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes."* And after all have men no more power to turn to God than to make a world? Do these heavenly entreaties only mock their miseries? Do they only tantalize unhappy prisoners bound with fetters of iron?
But this is not the worst. God absolutely commands sinners to love and submit to him, to repent and believe the Gospel. The law, which was "not made for a righteous man but for the lawless and disobedient," which "was added because of transgressions," says to every sinner, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might." And what says the Gospel? God "now commandeth all men every where to repent." "Repent ye and believe." Sinners are even commanded to change their own hearts; that is, to cease to hate and begin to love. "Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will ye die?" "Circumcise-the foreskin of your heart." "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts." "Rend your heart and not your garments. "Purify your hearts, ye double-minded."+ These things God commands; and does he require impossibilities? Then sinners have got their case in the long dispute which they have been carrying on with their Maker.
Nor is this all. God not only commands, he solemnly threatens eternal death in case of disobedience. "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha." "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish." "He that believeth not shall be damned." He not only threatens but he executes. He actually sends sinners to eternal perdi
* Deut. xxxii. 29. Isai. xlv. 22. Rev. xxii. 17.
+ Deut. vi. 5. and x. 16. Isai. lv. 7. ii. 13. Mark. i. 15. Acts xvii. 30.
Ezek. xxxiii. 11. Luke xix. 41. 42.
Jer. iv. 4.
Ezek. xviii. 31. Joel 1 Tim. i. 9. James iv. 8.
tion for no other reason than because they do not obey these commands. And still are they unable? Are they eternally punished for not doing impossibilities? What then do you make of God? Were you to see a master beating his servant a whole day together for not lifting a mountain, you would say the man was mad. And does God lay upon his creatures eternal punishment for not doing what is utterly impossible? Is this the God whom angels love and adore? Nero was a lamb to this.
Some have attempted to justify this supposed conduct of the Most High, by alleging that sinners have destroyed their own power, and may therefore be justly held bound to do all that they originally could. "If a servant," say they, "has cut off his hands to avoid labour, may not his master still require his task, and daily punish him for neglecting it?" I firmly answer, no. He may punish him for disabling himself; (that is the whole of his crime;) but if he daily abuses the cripple for not performing his task after it has become impossible, he is a tyrant and a monster. But the case is still stronger when you take into account the entailment of depravity. The servant did not cut off his own hands: his mother in a sinful enterprise fell with him before he was born, and he was brought into the world a cripple: and now he must be unmercifully punished every day of his life for not employing limbs which he never had. Is this a picture of the moral government of God! Read any page in the Bible, and then say, is this the government which that book describes?
I hear some one say, you may reason me down, but after all it is a matter of fact that I cannot. How do you know this? Did you ever try? Did you ever try with all your heart? Have you ever done as well as you could for a single hour? For a single hour did you ever keep your thoughts as much on God and
exert as much earnestness in prayer, and feel as kindly towards God and man, as you were able? Have you done this for a whole month together? Have you done it through life? If not, it is not for you to complain that you have no power. No power! Alas, as you use power you have too much. You have power to resist,-to resist so vigorously that nothing but the arm of God can conquer you. This is the only thing that prevents you from loving and submitting to him. Do you not resist? Why it is as plain as light that you will not even be convicted. What is conviction? It is a deep sense of being without excuse. And when we attempt to penetrate you with this sense, here you are defending yourself against it with all your might,-and then turn and complain that you have no power. The truth itself would have convicted you long ago if you had not resisted. Like the ever-flowing light of heaven, it would freely have come in at your window if you had not barred the passage. "This is the condemnation, [not that you cannot obtain light, but] that light is come into the world," and you have "loved darkness rather than light because [your] deeds were evil. For every one that doth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light lest his deeds should be reproved." So the nightly thief, for whom you are searching in your apartments, will endeavour to strike the lamp from your hand lest the light should detect him. The truth is you cannot bear to take the blame upon yourself. You will cast it upon Adam, upon God, any where but where it ought to lie. And after all these exertions to resist conviction, you will make a long list of excuses for not being convicted, and lament over it as your misfortune and not your fault. But, (to turn the subject over for another view,) pray what
* John iii. 19, 20.
prevents that deep sense of divine things which is the conviction itself, but your unbelief? And is unbelief to be admitted as an excuse for stupidity? Does God regard it in the light of an excuse? No, he charges it upon you as your own proper crime, a crime of the deepest die. He pronounces it worthy of eternal rebuke, and solemnly declares, "He that believeth not shall be damned." Such is the enemy which bars your heart against conviction; and when an attempt is made to dislodge the foe, you stand forward to protect it by your thousand excuses; and then say, you would give the world to be convicted but have no power.
(2.) This plea is impious. It casts all the infamy of the sinner's rebellion on God, and imputes to him a character which the veriest tyrant on earth would blush to own, a character, I may say, as black as Satan himself. The language is, "I knew thee that thou art a hard master, requiring more than thy creatures can perform, and punishing them with eternal torment for not doing impossibilities. By offering life on such conditions, thou hast only mocked my misery; and though I must suffer forever, I still affirm that for missing salvation I am not to blame." The great point in dispute between you and your Maker is, who shall bear the blame. He lays it upon you, you cast it upon him. On this question the parties are fairly at issue. Blame, absolutely infinite, must attach to one or the other; because endless misery is actually threatened and inflicted. If that misery is not deserved, infinite blame attaches to him who inflicts it; if it is deserved, infinite guilt rests on the sufferer. God declares that he will lay all this evil upon you for not making to yourself a new heart, not loving and submitting to him, not repenting and believing the Gospel. In this he charges infinite guilt on you. You affirm that you cannot perform these