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admonitions and declarations of the eternal God; and be assured, that in one sense or another, his word shall take hold on you, as it has done on sinners of former generations, either for conviction, or condemnation.
That I may not be confounded in the multiplicity of my proofs, I shall range them under these three distinct heads.The prophets of the Old Testament were commissioned to make this declaration :-It was renewed by the preaching of Christ;and was supported by the testimony of the apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: 1. The prophets of the Old Testament were commissioned in
effect to make this declaration, that no unregenerate sinners should enter into the kingdom of God.
Well might our Lord say to Nicodemus, Art thou a teacher in Israel, and knowest not these things*? For to this in effect all the prophets bear witness, and it might be learned from almost every page of their writings. It is true, the particular phrase of being born again, or regenerated, does not occur there; nor is it expressly said, that an unregenerate man shall not be admitted into God's kingdom. But then the prophets every where assert, what is in effect the same, that no wicked man, who does not heartily repent of his sins and turn from them to God, must expect the divine favour. Now if you consider what we mean by an unregenerate man, according to the description I bave given before, you will find it is just the same as an impenitent sinner: And if it be declared, that such are not to expect the divine favour, nay, that they must certainly prove the objects of his displeasure, this must certainly imply an exclusion from his kingdom, and must intend a great deal more than being deprived of everlasting happiness. And thus you see, that all those scriptures, which speak of the irreconcileable hatred of God against sin, and against all impenitent sinners, come in to do service here, and are equivalent to the declaration in the text. And I may hereafter shew you, that there are many scriptures in the Old Testament, which lead men to consider that change, said to be so necessary, as what must be effected by a divine operation on their souls. But, as that will more properly come in under a following head, I shall at present content myself with selecting a few scriptures, as a specimen of many hundreds more, in proof of the main point before us; and I beseech you, that you would endeavour to enter, not only into the sense, but into the spirit of them.
* John iii. 10.
You well know, that unregenerate sinners are wicked men; and of such it is said, God is angry with the wicked every day*; or all the day long, as the original imports. The sinner lies down and rises up, goes out and comes in, under the divine displeasure; and though with great patience God bears with him for a while, he is described as preparing his dreadful artillery against him, to smite him even with a mortal wound: So far will he be from admitting him into his kingdom, that as it is there added, If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he has bent his bow, and made it ready. He has also prepared for him the instruments of deatht. And in another place, he describes the dreadful consequence of that preparation in most lively terms: If I whet my glittering sword, and my hand take hold on judgment; I will render dengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me: I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh, from the beginning of revenges on the enemy; i. e. as soon as I begin this awful works. And elsewhere he compares the destruction, which he will bring upon sinners at last, to that which he executed on Sodom and Gomorrah, when he scattered fire and brimstone on their habitations, and reduced their pleasant country to a burning lake: Upon the wicked he will rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this will be the portion of their cups; and oh, how unlike the state and abode of those who are the happy subjects of his kingdom !
None of the prophets speak in milder and more gentle language to returning penitents, than Isaiah; yet he declares, There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked|l. Yea, he does, as it were, call in the concurrence of all who feared God, and who loved their country, to echo back and enforce the admonition: Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him; but, on the other hand, Woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him; for the reward of his hands shall be given himq.
The enumeration would be endless; and it would require more than the time of a whole discourse only to read over, without any comment or remark, one half of the passages which might properly be introduced on this occasion. I will therefore only mention two more, which, though some of you may hear with indifference, I confess I cannot read without a very sensible inward commotion.
* Psal. vii, 11. || Isa. Irii. 21.
+ Ver. 12, 13.
Isa. iii. 10, 11.
Deut. xxxii. 41, 42.
$ Psal. xi. 6
The one is that passage in the Mosaic law, where God directs his servant to say, if there be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood, or any unregenerate soul, who rohen he hears the words of this curse, shall bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst, and run into one debauchery and sin after another : The Lord will not spare him, but the anger of the Lord, and his jealousy, shall smoke and be inflamed against that man; and the Lord shall separate him unto evil, out of ull the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant, that are written in the book of the law*. There is a terrible emphasis, of which we cannot but take notice here : God declares, that if, among all the thousands of Israel, there was but one such presumptuous sinner, that thus flattered himself in the way of his own heart, he would make a terrible example of him, and separate that one man to evil, out of thousands and ten thousands of his faithful and obedient servants.
This therefore is a passage full of apparent terror : The other is indeed a language of mercy ; but it contains a most awful insinuation, which appears, as good Archbishop Tillotson expresses it, “ like a razor set in oil, which wounds with so much the keener edge.” Is I live, saith the Lord God, 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, 0 house of Israeli ? thereby plainly intimating, that, notwithstanding all that gentleness of the divine nature, which he expresses in a most tender invitation, which he confirms even with the solemnity of an oath; yet, if sinners did not turn from their evil ways, there was no remedy, but they must die for it.
And how, Sirs, will any of you that continue in an unregenerate state arm yourselves against these terrors? Is it by saying, “ that these are the thunders of Mount Sinai ; that these are denunciations of the Old Testament; whereas the New speaks in milder language?” You may easily know the contrary; and to this purpose I am farther to shew you, 2. That this declaration was renewed by the preaching of Christ.
It is true indeed that Grace and truth came by Jesus Christt : Yet all the grace and gentleness of that administration he brought, did not contradict those awful threatenings; nay, it obliged him to set them in a stronger light.--He pre
Deut. xxix. 18--21,
John i. 17.
+ Ezek. xxxii. 11.
it? Thus you would undoubtedly judge of any man, who should strike a dagger into his breast, or discharge a pistol at his head, on this presumption, that the almighty power of God could prevent his death, though the heart or the brain were pierced. But it is much greater folly, for a man, while he continues in an unregenerate state, to promise himself a part in the kingdom of heaven. For though there would be no reason in the world to expect a miraculous interposition, to save a life which a man was so resolutely bent to destroy: yet none can say, that such an interposition would contradict any of the express engagements of God's word ; whereas to admit an unregenerate sinner into the regions of glory, would be violating, not this or that single declaration, but the whole series and tenor of it: And we shall farther shew, in the next discourse, that it would also be, in effect, altering the very nature of the heavenly kingdom itself, as well as its constitution. Now what hope can be more desperate, than that which can have no support but in the subversion of the Redeemer's kingdom, and even of the eternal throne of God, the foundations of which are righteousness and truth!
that every unregenerate sinner, and you among the rest, must not only be excluded from his presence, but be condemned to suffer all the fury of his wrath, in company with devils and damned spirits, in final darkness, and everlasting burnings. It only remains, that I shew you, 3. That the same testimony was renewed by the apostles, under
the influences of the Holy Spirit.
You know, that they were authorized by their great master, to declare, in an authentic manner, the constitution of his kingdom ; and that he who Despises them, despises Christ*. Now I would fain persuade you all to consider this argument as it lies in scripture ; to read over the epistolary parts of the New Testament, in this view, to observe what encouragement they any of them give to an unregenerate sinner, to expect any part of the kingdom of heaven. In the mean time, permit me to present you with a few texts as a specimen of the rest.
The apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, does indeed speak of God's Justifying the ungodlyt ; but lest any should vainly imagine that he encourages the hope of those that continue so, he expressly tells us in the very same epistle, that The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrightcousness of ment; and that ere long this wrath shall be executed, even in the day of the more ample Revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds :-To them that do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, which is the character of every unregenerate sinner; Indignation and wrath; Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doth evil, of the Jew first, as having had the most signal advantages, though advantages inferior to yours, and also of the Gentiles. And farther he assures us, that to be carnally minded, is death ; and that the carnal mind, which universally prevails in men, till by regenerating grace they are made spiritual, is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can bell. In another epistle, he mentions it as a first principle, in which it might rationally be supposed, no christian was uninstructed; Know ye not, says he, that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?And elsewhere he declares, that all external modes of religion, separate from that entire change of soul which I have described, are worthless and vain : In Christ Jesus, says he, or to those
* Luke x. 16.
+ Rom. iv. 5.
Rom. i. 18.
Rom. ii. 5, 6, 8, 9,