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that he may not be expected to operate afresh on their hearts, till they yield as he presses upon them the peril of delay.
It is not, in these and similar cases, that the Spirit passes by an individual, and is not ready to perform his office, in applying the word, and making it effectual to salvation: it is only that the individual is in some way opposing the Spirit, refusing to be the subject of influences by which he might be led, though God will not suffer him to be forced, into acquaintance with the things that belong to his peace. And therefore it is that we are assured of the Gospel, even as it is preached by the weakest of Christ's ministers, that it will suffice to condemn all by whom it is rejected. The Spirit is present to apply that Gospel wheresoever there is not the indifference which makes the appearing in the church an absolute mockery of God, or the hard-heartedness which is the consequence of resisting convictions. The Gospel, as applied by the Spirit, is the power of God to salvation; so that there is not one of you of whom it may not be demonstrated, that the preached word would have been effectual in turning you to righteousness, had he not himself deprived it of renovating energy.
What, then, will be needed, for the condemning in the judgment such as have heard, but have not believed, the Gospel? What will be required, in order to the proving that the whole blame of their infidelity must rest upon themselves, that they perish through their own fault, because they perish notwithstanding the possession of full means of deliverance? We reply that these, our solemn assemblages, will suffice. Yes, it shall not be necessary for the convicting at the judgment, as regards those who have remained unconverted under the preaching of the Gospel, that a laboured reckoning be entered into of privileges, and powers, and oppor tunities; and that it be shewn, from the review of a long life, that enough was done, enough granted, to enable the impenitent to turn unto the Lord. A sermon will be sufficient, a sermon which set forth faithfully the truth as it is in Jesus. Let this be referred to; let this be repeated, and all orders of intelligences will allow that the condemned have been their own destroyers: for the sermon, though it fell from human lips, was more than human reasoning or human declamation; the sermon, though it may have been spoken in weakness, and though it may have seemed deficient in power and persuasiveness, has been delivered in conformity with an ordinance of God-the ordinance that men should be saved through "the foolishness of preaching." God's Spirit has been present, and
therefore must the sermon have been effectual; effectual to salvation, had not the hearers steeled themselves against impression, and either by a carelessness which they might have corrected, or an obduracy which resulted only from their persisting in sinfulness, prevented the Gospel from being carried home to them, with energy from above. What, then, but the sermon will be necessary, to procure and justify condemnation? And will you not admit, when you thus consider the Holy Ghost as continually at hand in the preached word, if not thwarted by obstacles which may be ascribed solely to the wilfulness of the hearers-will you not admit, that the minister of Christ might say, of any of those to whom he preaches in vain, "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day?"
Now the truths on which we have thus insisted, must be combined with every other, which has yet to be advanced. There is very little use, in setting forth the adaptation of the Gospel system to human necessities, and inferring from their adaptation the criminality of those by whom it is rejected, unless it be first shewn, that man has full power of receiving what he is condemned for neglecting. Every thing hangs upon this. There is no dispute that its gaining such a lodgment in the heart as shall render it effectual to salvation is dependent on its being handled by the Spirit of God; and therefore, before we can fasten all the blame upon man, if he be not converted under the preaching of the Gospel, we are clearly bound to shew, that it is man alone who prevents the Holy Ghost from applying to him the word. But this having been done, we may safely go on to speak of the nature of the Gospel, and to argue from this the condemning power of the Gospel. We wish you to consider a little what the truth is which Christ hath arrayed with the authority of a judge. We hardly know whether sufficient attention is given to the fact, that no message could be devised so likely as that of the Gospel, to act equally on the fears and on the hopes of human kind. We are so accustomed to the rejection of this Gospel, to its being listened to with coldness, or turned from with disdain, that we come almost to forget that it is marvellously adapted to the gaining of an audience, and that the probability would have seemed, before the trial had been made, that all by whom it had been heard would have closed thankfully with its proffers. It must be matter of wonder to higher orders of beings, that men can be indifferent or opposed to the Gospel; for whatever the alienation of the heart from God, the messages of Christianity
so address themselves to the feelings, that it seems almost inexcusable that they should be ordinarily despised. And we suppose that it will be this adaptation or suitableness of the preached word to the condition and constitution of man, which shall render that word so righteous but inexorable a judge at the last. Let us observe, for example, how, according to the statement just made, the fears and the hopes of human kind are equally appealed to by the Gospel of Christ. We challenge any of those who are accustomed to give the rein to their imagination, in order that it may conjure up forms and phantoms of terror, to array before themselves sterner pictures of the future than are necessarily drawn by the preachers of the We are not speaking of high-wrought descriptions, when a man may be pouring all the powers of his oratory on that fearful abode, where there is "weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth." We speak only of the simple, yet thrilling representation which is necessarily presented when the speaker leads his hearers to the scene of Christ's agony, and makes them spectators of the unutterable agony of Him who died the just for the unjust, that he might bring sinners to God. It is here that imagination is distanced; for the passion and death of God's own Son furnish forth such a representation of the divine hatred of sin, and the fearfulness of that wrath that shall overtake the disobedient, as we are unable to compass, far more to exceed. We might almost say that, if we are not capable of feeling, our fears must be stirred by the tidings of redemption; at least we may confidently declare, that if men can be easy in the continuing in sin, when they have heard how imputed transgression caused the sword to "awake against God's fellow," the preached word will bear such testimony to their having been attacked with what was fitted to alarm or to arouse, as must prove them inexcusable if they slumber on in indifference.
And then, if you regard men as beings capable of being acted on through their hopes as well as through their fears, what engine can you imagine of equal power with the Gospel? If the word were one of unmingled terror, setting forth nothing but the sternness of God's wrath against sin, it might be expected to paralyze rather than stir to energy; but when we bring you the offer of free pardon, when we tell you of the love of your Creator, a love which even rebellion was not able to alienate, but which, rather than sinners should be left to perish in their sins, moved God to the giving up his own Son to shame and death; when we speak to you of the "Inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not
away," and assure you that it is reserved for you in heaven, a free gift to all "who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality;" surely we have stated what, on every calculation, is adapted to the exciting the hopes, and therefore engaging the activities, of a being so constituted as man.
We are not now to enter on the inquiry, how it comes to pass that what is thus selected for the acting, whether upon fear, or upon hope, should fail, for the most part, either to animate or alarm. We are only concerned with showing you, that it cannot be traced to any defect in the Gospel itself, to any want of suitability to the human constitution, that the preached word is not effectual to the turning men to God. And this we reckon sufficiently done, when we have proved to you, that there is every thing in the Gospel to make the impenitent tremble, every thing to fill the contrite with joy. This having been done, we can pass at once to the last judgment, and view preacher and hearer confronted at God's bar. The grand inquiry will be as to the sufficiency of the means which have been enjoyed. If it can be proved of any individual that he had salvation within reach, his blood must rest upon his own head, when there goes forth against him the sentence of condemnation. And will it not make indifference inexcusable, when it shall appear, that there had been delivered, in the name of the living God, a message calculated to fill with tremendous apprehension all those who are living without concern for the future? And shall there, think you, be any appeal, any question as to the justice of the dealing, when the worldly-minded are condemned to everlasting shame, when it has been shown of them that they had been offered glorious and enduring possessions, which threw into shade the brightest things which earth could allure? That the Gospel has been preached to a man-O this must be enough to leave that man without excuse. He cannot plead, that he knew not that sin was hateful to God; for he knew of Christ's death. He cannot plead that there was nothing to oppose the objects of sin in the claiming of his affections; for he knew that Christ had purchased a kingdom for his followers. He cannot plead, that he was left without encouragement to repentance; for he knew that Christ had reconciled the world unto God. And therefore he must be speechless. The remembrance of what he heard on earth will suffice to confound him. The preacher, on whose ministrations he attended, but to whose ministration he had given no heed, will bear such witness against him, that other testimony shall not be needed
to insure his condemnation. Yes, men and brethren, it may be painful to think, that the very being, who came to us with the offer of mercy, whose very business it was to intreat you in God's name to abandon the paths of iniquity, to dissuade you from earning to yourselves a heritage of wrath, and to urge you to the accepting the fulness of joy for evermore, that he must appear against you at the last, if you die in your sins, and call for the vengeance which he here laboured to avert. But this it will undoubtedly be; for so marvellously fitted is the Gospel which he preached to alarm and to animate, to make you spurn the earthly and seek the heavenly, so powerfully does it address itself to the sensibilities, so exquisitely does it solicit the charities of your nature, that the treating it with neglect is the proving yourselves bent on the choosing death, and not life; and the preacher must feel, of every one that turns a deaf ear to his message, "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
Now these remarks render it necessary to enter more into detail, to show, by closer examination of the several parts of the Gospel, that, where it has been faithfully published, it must leave its hearers without excuse, if they continue in unbelief. There is not a plea which a man can invent, not an apology which he can offer for remaining in the alienation of nature, in place of being numbered amongst the true disciples of Christ, whose worthlessness is not exposed by some sentence in the Bible. The word which we are commissioned to preach, sets itself as an antagonist against all those delusions by which men are beguiled, and which promise security without demanding instant change of conduct. If you take one of the delusions, and try it by the Bible, its falsehood is immediately made apparent; so that we may be sure that any man who has heard the Gospel, and treated it with disdain, may be judged at last by that word, and prove his own destroyer. A man will often plead the corruption and frailty of nature: he did not make himself, and is he to be punished for yielding to passions with which he is created, and which are too strong now to be resisted? "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" for the word is, "My grace is sufficient for thee," and, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able to bear." It is vain to plead the strength of temptation in excuse for being overcome, while superhuman help was offered, through which victory might have been secured. Another man will acknowledge that attention should be given to the