Page images
PDF
EPUB

hope of their salvation. Though sinners be able

to repent and believe the gospel, yet as they always refuse to comply with the conditions of life, their natural ability to do their duty affords no reason to hope that they will be saved. No means, nor motives, which can be used with sinners, nor any conviction of truth and duty, which can be produced in their minds, will ever cause sinners to love what they hate, or to choose what they refuse. The moral character of sinners must be essentially and totally changed, so that they become new creatures; or they will for ever remain unwilling to be sayed. If, then, God cannot, by his sovereign and almighty power, create in sinners a new heart, they will always hate the Lord Jesus Christ, and refuse to come to him for life. Some persons flatter sinners, that they are not in the hands of God. They pretend that men have a self-determining power, and that they act independently of divine influence. But if sinners act independently of divine influence, they will certainly perish. For they are unwilling to be saved, and God cannot change their wills, unless their hearts are in his hands, as the clay in the hands of the potter. Sinners are loath to believe that God has the constant and entire control of their hearts. They are loath to believe that God always produces in their hearts such moral exercises and volitions, as he pleases. They are loath to believe that he can enlighten, or darken their understandings ; that he can awaken, or stupify their consciences,

that he can soften, or harden their hearts; and that he can save, or destroy their souls. But unless God can change the hearts of sinners, govern all their moral exercises, and form their moral characters as he pleases, it is as certain that every sinner will be lost, as it is that sin: ners are unwilling to be saved.

5. As sinners are unwilling to be saved, every sinner will perish, unless the doctrine of election be true. According to this doctrine, God has determined, in the counsels of eternity, to change the hearts of a certain number of mankind, and to make this certain number willing to accept the holy salvation of the gospel. If this doctrine be not true, there is no reason to hope that one sinner will be saved. For though God be able to change the hearts of sinners, he will not do it, unless he has determined to change their hearts. For God“ work. eth all things after the counsel of his own will." Ile declares “ the end from the beginning ; saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all niy pleasure.” No sinner will ever accept salvation, unless he be made willing to accept it by the power of God. And God by his power will make no one willing to be saved, except those very persons whom he gave to Christ in the covenant of redemption. Now if a part of the human race are not ordained to eternal life, if God has not chosen certain persons in the Lord Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love, being predestinated

unto the adoption of children ; then there is no reason to hope for the salvation of immortal souls. The doctrine of election lays the only foundation of hope respecting the salvation of sinners. . For though God desires the salvation of every human being, though he has made the best provision for the salvation of sinners, though salvation be offered to sinners on the easiest and best conditions ; yet as every sinner is unwilling to be saved, we must whol. ly despair of their salvation, unless the doctrine of election be a true doctrine.

6. If it be through the wickedness of their hearts, that sinners reject the blessings of the gospel; then they are justly condemned for not doing what is necessary to their salvation.Every sinner to whom the gospel is preached, is required to repent of his sins, and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. God now condemns sinners, and he will for ever punish sinners for their impenitence and unbelief.

And why should they not be condemned and punished for their enmity against God, and for their hatred of his wellbeloved Son ? When God requires sinners to repent and believe, he requires nothing but what is right, and nothing but what every sinner ought to do. Nothing but the obstinate and malignant depravity of the sin1 ner's heart, prevents a compliance with the requirements of the gospel. If God may justly require any thing of his rational creatures, he may justly require sinners to repent and believe the gospel of his grace. Yet many, who

profess to preach the gospel, never require sin ners to exercise repentance towards God, and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor do they blame sinners for their impenitence and unbelief. And sinners often imagine that if God does not change their hearts, they ought not to be blamed for refusing to come to Christ, They feel very confident that if God does not intend to change their hearts, but has determin: ed that they shall be vessels of wrath, and be fitted for destruction ; then God is to be blam ed rather than themselves, for their rejection of the offer of life. But God did not intend to change the heart of Cain, or of Pharaoh, or of Judas. But he determined that they should be vessels of wrath, and be fitted for destruction. Yet were not Cain, and Pharaoh, and Judas, justly required to do right, and forbidden to do wrong, and condemned, and punished for their wickedness ? Is God to be blamed for his de crees, and his conduct respecting Cain, and Pharaoh, and Judas? God does not intend to change the hearts of any of the non-elect. But he intends, and has decreed, that they shall be vessels of wrath, and be fitted for that endless perdition, by which he designs to show his wrath, and make his power known. Yet are not the non-elect to be blamed and punished for their enmity against God, and for their endless blasphemies of his great and holy name? God does not intend to change the heart of Satan. But he intends, and has decreed that Satan shall be for ever filled with enmity and

wrath against the holy and blessed Redeemer, and against his chosen, his holy and happy people. But is not Satan to be blamed, and to be punished for his enmity and wrath against what is most excellent, beautiful and glorious? If Satan cannot be truly and justly excused for his wickedness, no sinner can be truly and just. ly excused for hating the Lord Jesus Christ, and for rejecting his holy salvation. Whether sinners be elected to salvation, or ordained to destruction ;. whether God designs to soften, or to harden the hearts of sinners; whether God has decreed that sinners should be vessels of wrath, or vessels of mercy they are required, and they are bound to do right. Every sinner is required, and every sinner is bound to repent of his sins, and to believe the glorious gospel of the blessed God. This is the present, and the immediate duty of every sinner.

And it will be the duty of every sinner during his whole existence, whether he be saved, or lost ; whether he be elected, or reprobated; whether he be a vessel' of wrath, or a vessel of mercy. It was for refusing to come to him for life, that the Lord Jesus Christ charged against the sinners to whom he was speaking, such desperate and malignant wickedness. For when, in the text, he said to sinners, “ Ye will not come to mę, that ye might have life," he intended, not merely to state a fact, but to charge against his hearers, the greatest and worst crime that they could commit. And it is for refusing to come to the Lord Jesus Christ for life, that sinners,

« PreviousContinue »