in another world, let us not rank ourselves among them in this but let us say with holy Job, "I "have uttered things which I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. "I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once "have I spoken, but I will not answer; yea, twice, "but I will proceed no further." Yea, truly,


every mouth shall be stopped. and all the world "shall appear guilty before God;" nay, they shall be "speechless" when ordered to be cast into outward darkness, "where is weeping, wailing, “and gnashing of teeth." What cause, then, have all to repent, who have justly merited so dreadful a punishment!

[ocr errors]

V. All have cause of, and need for, repentance; because God will most certainly inflict this punishment upon all the impenitent, with unabating severity. Except ye repent ye shall all likewise "perish." Let no man deceive you with vain words: the impenitent sinner shall certainly spend eternity" in the lake that burneth with fire and "brimstone." An awakening truth, which Satan and his instruments have in all ages been opposing; but in none more zealously, ingeniously, and, alas! successfully, than in this: for that great deceiver knows that nothing so effectually increases the number of the damned, as the disbelief of eternal damnation. "Ye shall not surely die," was the first temptation of this murderer of souls and still his kingdom is supported by the same insinuation. But, if there be any meaning in words, if the idea of eternal misery can be conveyed in human language, and if the Bible be the word of God, then the wicked" shall go into EVERLASTING


"PUNISHMENT." Though God is rich in mercy; though there is plenteous redemption in the blood of Christ; yet neither the mercy of God, nor the blood of Christ, avail for any but the penitent: to others, all the threatenings of the law alone belong: nor have they any part or lot in the gospel, except the deeper condemnation of " "lecting such great salvation," and abusing the mercy of God, and the redemption of Christ, into an encouragement to continue in sin. Such sinners" are a people who have no understanding, "therefore he that made them will have no mercy "on' them." "Oh consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be 66 none to deliver."*

[ocr errors]

VI. The necessity of repentance is further evinced by considering the reasonableness of this awful determination.-There is a controversy betwixt God and sinners, and blame must rest somewhere. Either God is indeed chargeable with blame for enacting so strict a law, and annexing so dreadful a penalty on transgressors; or the sinner is as much to blame as this penalty implies, for breaking the law. To harbour one moment the supposition, that any part of the blame belongs to God, is blasphemous: doubtless the whole fault belongs to the sinner. Yet every impenitent sinner, in excusing himself, condemns God. "Wilt thou," saith he to Job, "disannul my judgment? Wilt "thou condemn me, that thou mayest be right"eous?" Why did the sinner break the law, if he did not think it too strict? Doth he pretend

* Psalm 1. 22.

† Job xl. 8.

it was by surprise, or sudden temptation, through inadvertency, and not deliberate rebellion? Then why does he not repent? His impenitence for the past, and his present continuance in transgression, strongly imply a most injurious censure of the law, as inconsistent with his happiness; and his vindication of himself and his conduct implies a censure on the justice of God, in condemning sinners, equally injurious.

Now, should God pardon a sinner who thus excuses himself, and tacitly condemns him, he would seem to allow the excuse, and plead guilty to the charge: so that the honour of God, and the salvation of an impenitent sinner, are irreconcilable contradictions. But God, conscious of his own most perfect justice, and jealous for his own glory, would sooner leave all the world to perish for ever, than thus consent to his own dishonour. Every hope, which any man entertains of pardon in impenitency, involves the absurd supposition, when carefully investigated, that God will dishonour himself, to humour and favour a proud obstinate rebel. Every such hope is pregnant with the presumption spoken of by Moses: "Lest there be among you a root, that beareth gall and wormwood; and it come to pass, when "he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless

[ocr errors]

* This is often the case of the true believer, who delights in the law of God, and hates evil, yet is surprised into the commission of that which he abhors, and breakes the law that he loves; but, recovering from the surprise, he directly and deeply repents. But this excuse is merely a pretence in others, by which they cover a rooted enmity to the law, an habitual love of sin; and their impenitence discovers their hypocrisy.

"himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace,

[ocr errors]

though I walk after the imagination of mine "heart, to add drunkenness to thirst. The Lord "will not spare him; but then the anger of the

Lord, and his jealousy shall smoke against "that man; and all the curses that are written in "this book shall lie upon him; and the Lord shall "blot out his name from under heaven."* Let us, beloved, attend carefully to such plain warnings of the word of God, that we may be armed against the temptations of Satan, and the rising presumption of our own hearts.

VII. The necessity of repentance is further manifested by reflecting, that no impenitent sinner can cordially approve of the salvation revealed in the word of God. Indeed, did the gospel require men confidently to believe that their sins are already pardoned, and that all the blessings of salvation are already theirs, though they are destitute of every gracious disposition, as some have incautiously advanced; no scheme could better suit the pride and carnality of an impenitent heart. This, however, is not the true gospel of Christ, but "another gospel," which must be opposed, even though "preached by an angel from heaven." All are bound to believe that God will forgive the vilest of sinners, who repent and believe in Christ: otherwise they make God a liar; for he hath attested it. When by scriptural evidence (even by holy dispositions produced, and holy actions performed,) I am sure that my faith is living, and my

* Deut. xxix. 18-20.

repentance genuine, I may be humbly sure that my sins are forgiven, and that I am a child of God, and an heir of glory; but not before. That I shall be welcome, if I come aright, I may be sure before I come that I have come aright, and am accepted, I can only be assured, by the effects I am conscious of, and the fruits of righteousness produced.

The way in which forgiveness and salvation are actually conferred upon sinners, may be thus illustrated. A state-criminal under sentence of death, is thus addressed by his prince: You deserve to suffer the rigour of your sentence; no excuse can be made for your rebellion, nor one alleviating circumstance found in your case: yet by my own clemency I am disposed to shew mercy, so that I may but do it honourably; and so as effectually to express my disapprobation of your crime for an example to others. I will therefore seat myself upon my royal throne, surrounded by my nobles, and multitudes of my subjects, as witnesses of your submission and my clemency. Do you then approach and prostrate yourself in my presence publicly, and humbly confess your guilt; acknowledge you justly merit to be immediately led to execution; then throw yourself upon my royal mercy, and crave your life at my hands. In this humbling method, and in no other, will I forgive your crimes, and become your friend.'-I speak not here of that redemption-price which Immanuel paid, "that God "might be just and the justifier of him who believeth;" but merely of the glory of God's justice in our condemnation, and of his mercy in our sal

« VorigeDoorgaan »