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which labour we are sure to wound ourselves, but never to move or hurt the rock. But you will say, Is it not strange that people should oppose the glorious truths of God, that shine like a sun throughout the sacred scriptures? Not at all: they fight against sovereign love, because they know it never was shed abroad in their hearts by the IIoly Ghost; therefore they preach up an universal love; that, as they have no assurance of an interest in the former, they may include themselves in the latter, being a doctrine of their own. So, if imputed righteousness had ever been applied to them, they would have boasted of it, as all poor saved sinners have done who were found in it; but, as they are strangers to the enjoyment of this robe, they hold fast their own web: so, if the atonement of Christ had ever been applied to their consciences, they would contend for the redemption of Christ's sheep only, as all the faithful ministers of Christ have done; but, as conscience tells them this never was their happy case, they preach up universal redemption, or else they would exclude themselves. Hence it is that they strengthen one another's hands with their lies, and so keep matters together as well as they can: for, if they give up their untempered mortar, and conscience stands to it that they never have mixed real faith with the truth, Heb. iv. 2, they would throw down their own wall. However, God has promised to throw it down for them. "Thus will I accomplish my
wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered mortar: and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it," Ezek. xiii. 15.
Let them turn which way they will, they fulfil those very decrees that they fight against. Are some offended at the sovereignty of Christ, and at his elect? and do they teach others to be offended at them? They fulfil the decree; "It must needs be that offences come; but wo be to that man by whom the offence cometh," Matt. xviii. 7. Do they stumble and fall? They fulfil the decree; " And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken," Isaiah viii. 15. Do they make sport of the truth, and wanton with the grace of God to their own condemnation? They fulfil the decree; "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation," Jude, ver. 4. Do they rage and storm as soon as they hear a preacher advance the truth? They fulfil the decree; "From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you; for morning by morning shall it pass over; by day and by night; and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report," Isaiah xxviii. 19. Do they plunge farther and farther into errors, notwithstanding all that is said to reclaim them? They fulfil the decree; "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived," 2 Tim. iii. 13. And, when they cry out,
'I will never believe such doctrines,' they fulfil the decree; 66 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe though a man declare it unto you," Acts xiii. 41.
In short, God's word shall be fulfilled even by the wicked as well as by the just. Israel must abide in Egypt till the iniquity of the Amorites was full, Gen. xv. 16. Christ sent apostles and wise men to be persecuted by the wicked, that they might fill up the measure of their fathers, Matt. xxiii. 32-35. And, if men receive not the truth in the love of it, God has promised to send strong delusions, that they shall believe a lie. If men turn to wicked ways, "the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity." And, if a man fall by his lies a victim to wrath, it " is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God," Job xx. 29. And, if hell is the eternal habitation of the deceiver, it was anciently built for him; "for Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared," as well as for the subject, Isaiah xxx. 33.
Men may contradict the decrees of God, and fight against them; but they shall never overthrow them, nor run from them. The destiny of the sinner as well as the saint is fixed; Tophet is ordained of old, as well as Mount Zion. God made all things for his own glory, and God's end will be answered whether men are saved or lost. "The
Lord hath all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." There is therefore a decreed vengeance for the wicked, as well as a decreed glory for the righteous; and I believe God's fixed gulfs and firm decrees will never be moved, neither by men nor devils. He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will; therefore his wills and shalls must abide for ever.
I add no more.