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the assistance of careful attention the whole argu- the ment will appear as clear as light in a moment. This simple fact proves the whole, viz THE TRUTH IS WHAT WE OUGHT TO LOVE. Whocver loves a doctrine, which is contrary to universal, impartial goodness, has pleasure in unrighteousness. But in universal, impartial goodness there is no un
Bet righteousness. These statements are self-evident facts, and prove to a moral certainty the ground we have taken.
Among all the opposers of impartial grace, and universal salvation by Jesus Christ, we find none who are hardy enough to state in so many words, that they do not desire to have the doctrine true. They will say they do not believe it, they will say that the whole bible is opposed to it, they will call it heresy, the doctrine of devils; they will say it is this strong delusion named in our text, which God has designed shall eventuate in the endless misery of those who believe it; but after all you ask them to pause a moment, ask them to exercise candour, to call into action their best, their most benevolent, and most god-like feelings, and then say whether they cordially love their own doctrine, which dooms millions of the human family to endless woe? and they will answer in the negative; and with surprise will ask you if you think them so ungodly as to desire the everlasting misery of a single soul ?
But, my friends, we must look on the dark side of human nature, we must examine the awful gulf of human depravity; and however repugnant to all goodness it may appear, it is a fact, that low down in the dark, the bottomless pit of wickedness, in the sulphurious fire of jealousy, pride and hate, lies the salamander of partiality. If there never had been hearts in the world that were in love with partiality, the doctrine of universal, impartial goodness, would never have been hated and called a heresy: This partiality is the essence of unrighteousness, and whoever loves it cannot love the truth. This partiality, therefore, is that want
of the love of truth, and that pleasure in unrighteousness, which are the occasion of the strong delusion mentioned in the passage before us.
Let us now endeavour to understand the nature of this strong delusion, which God has sent to those who love the unrighteousness of partiality. Here we find that this delusion is the natural offspring of the partial, carnal heart; it is à partial doctrine. This delusion is rendered strong by the wickedness of the heart. In the parable of the labourers, we have the nature of our subject represented to the life; and as we have already improve ed this portion of scripture to illustrate one branch of our inquiries, we may now call it to our assistance in this. First then observe, that those who bore the burden and heat of the day received not the love of the truth, they had.pleasure in unrighteousness. The truth was, the householder was impartially good to all, this truth these first labourers did not love, but had a pleasure in the expectation that their fellow-labourers would be worse off than themselves at the close of day. Now what was this delusion? Answer, just such as would naturally grow from such wicked hearts. They believed that the householder was altogether like themselves, they believed that they were peculiar favourites, and that there would be a wide difference 'made between them and their fellow
labourers. And this delusion was rendered strong full ep by the selfishness of their ungracious hearts.
Another lively representation of this delusion, of the nature and strength of it, is given by the Saviour in the character of the elder son of the father of the prodigal. This son did not receive the love of the truth... The truth was, the father loved both his sons equally, and his designs were impartially benevolent towards them. But this truth the elder son did not love; but had pleasure in the unrighteous expectation that his brother
would never more share of their father's love and at the bounty. Now this delusion, as to opinion, was
the natural offspring of his partial, wicked heart
. He believed that his father was like himself, full of hatred and indignation towards the miserable, the wretched prodigal; and this delusion was rendered strong as the bars of a castle, by the wicked pleasure of his partial heart. Had this brother entertained a love for the truth, had he loved his brother as he did himself, had he been exercised with kind fraternal affections, he would have longed to see his brother return, he would have made himself acquainted with the heart and will of his father concerning his brother, and would have believed in his goodness, his impartial goodness to his children, and believing would have rejoiced. But his heart was different from this and his mind was deluded into the opinion that there was no mercy for the prodigal.
If it be asked why it is said that God shall send them strong delusion, and how it is consistent for the very fountain of truth to delude his creatures, it may be replied, that he no otherwise does this than by an established law in nature, by which every cause must be followed with its natural consequences. If men are possessed of partial and corrupt hearts, if they are governed by an uncharitable spirit, if, in one word, they feel that their happiness depends on the misery of their fellow-creatures, the natural consequence is a religious belief which is as partial as their corrupt hearts. By the prophet Isaiah God says, of the house of Israel, " They have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them.”
But our text says, “that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." What occasions this damnation? Answer, their believing a lie. “For this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they might believe a lie, that they all might
damned, who believed, not the truth, but had
pleasure in unrighteousness.” Had they not beSell
lieved a lie they would not have been damned. Now christian hearers, when and where can this damnation exist? The answer is plain; it being the consequence of believing a lie, of being delud ed, it exists in this time and state of unbelief and delusion. If this delusion, if this lie shall exist in the mind of the deluded to all eternity, then might this condemnation exist as long. But if the cause be ever removed, then must the consequence
come to an end. It may be asked whether this hgredes damnation can be endured in this mortal state?
It must exist where and when the delusion exists, rejted for it depends on it.
We have noticed that the words damned, con28 demned, &c., have been traditionally made to ap
ply to a future, eternal state, but Jesus himself
speaks as follows: "For God sent not his son into stent i the world to condemn the world, but that the
world through him might be saved. He that bele lieveth on him is not condemned; but he that beThe lieveth not is condemned already; because he hath Erle not believed in the name of the only begotten son
of God. And this is the condemnatïon, that light is 21 come into the world, and men loved darkness rather
than light, because their deeds are evil.” St. Paul speaks to Timothy of some as “having damnation," in the present tense.
To the Romans he says: "He that doubteth is damned if he eat." St. Peter speaks of some “whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not and their damnation slumbereth not." All this reads in this world where unbelief and sin are, and where their consequences are, i
Let us notice the condemnation which the labourers suffered, who were told by the householder that he would give unto the last even as unto them.
This was a plain declaration of impartial truth and Frequal goodness. And this testimony was that which
condemned them. Hear the condemnation of the brother of the prodigal, which was indicated by the following reply of the father, “Son, thou art ever
with me, and all that I have is thine. It was mee, that we should make merry and be glad; for thi thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost and is found." Here we see that impartia and equal goodness of the father, the love of which this elder brother did not receive, but had pleasure in the unrighteous expectation of the final exclu. sion of his brother from the favour and bounty of the father. It was this impartial goodness which condemned him who loved not his brother.
Let us here inquire if it were possible for the benevolent and bountiful father of these two sons to be equally and impartially good to them, without condemning the son who did not love his brother? No, this you all know was impossible. Then let us ask for the nature and utility of this condemnation. At once it is seen, that this condemnation was designed to bring the condemned to a sense of truth and to the love of the same, that he might be delivered from the partiality and cruelty hearin of his wicked heart, love his brother and rejoice, in the father's impartial favour. But if the condemnation is extended beyond this object, and a raise executed on the transgressor in a way to prevent this return to filial duty and brotherly love, it there. all by sets up this very wieked principle which it condemned. Therefore it is.clear that the damnationem mentioned in our text is designed to aid the cause of universal; impartial goodness..
To conclude : -How divinely amiable does our Father in heaven appear, when seen through the medium of these self-evident arguments. On the one hand he is inviting the profligate and profanepie from their prodigality and wretchedness, to his special bounty and love; while on the other, he speaks to the superstitious and partial, who are the subjects of this strong delusion, in the melting language of Maced parental affection, “Son, thou art ever with me, lige and all I have is thine; it was meet that we should make merry and be glad; for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found."