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will say, is needless. Who does not need pardon? Who does not confess that he needs it? But if you must be glad to receive the pardon of
your sins from God, you must receive it as the gift of free mercy. This Paul plainly considers as an incontrovertible truth, when he produces a text that speaks of the blessedness of the pardoned sinner, as a proof of his doctrine of righteousness without works: “Even as David describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works." Where does David describe the blessedness of such a man? Where, in any of his psalms, or of his speeches recorded in the history of his life, do we find a righteousness without works spoken of? We no where find these express words; but we find words of the same meaning, Psal. xxxii, 1, 2. “Blessed is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, and whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not im
If any of our works or attainments could procure Divine mercy to blot out any of our trespasses, the apostle's argument would be inconclusive. Our sins would be pardoned, and we would partake of the blessedness that accompanies, is involved in pardon, or follows it, without that kind of righteousness of which the apostle speaks.
" When I passed by thee, and looked upon thee,” said God to his ancient people, "behold thy time was the time of love, and I
spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness.” In what situation had he found this object of his love? Was there any thing amiable and attractive to engage him to take her into such a near relation to himself ? Far from it. Every thing in her appearance was forbidding and repulsive. He saw her lying polluted in her blood, and he said unto her, when she was in her blood, Live. Then washed he her with water, and anointed her with oil, and made her comely with his comeliness put upon her.
Was not this free and undeserved love? Such is the love of God to all whom he saves. "His loving kindness and his pity are not more merited by sinners of the Gentiles, than by the nation of the Jews. Jews and Gentiles were all equally unuer sin before God. He hath concluded all under sin, that the salvation of all might clearly appear to be the fruit of that love, which finds no cause for itself in its objects. We love, because we find something lovely in the persons whom we love. God loves because he loves, and because he is love.
4. Sovereignty is one of the glories of that grace by which we are converted and saved. If it is free, it must be sovereign. If there is no cause in men why they should partake of such precious blessings, they must be dispensed by ihe Most High, according to his own will. He gives to some what he does not give to others, not for any reason to be found
in those from whom it is withheld, or to whom it is given, but according to the good pleasure of his will
When we say that the reasons are not to be found any more in those from whom grace is withheld than in those to whom it is given, do not mistake our meaning, as if we had said that God does not find sufficient reason in sinfulmen to deny them his grace. We have only said, that the reason of the distinction made by the divine sovereignty is to be found only in God himself. He certainly finds sufficient reason in themselves to withhold his grace from those on whom it is not bestowed. They are all sinners, and deserve no favor. Some of them are stubborn and outrageous offenders, who have, by their presumptuous rebellions, provoked God to harden and blind them by his awful judgments. But let it be remembered, that these causes of condemnation are to be found with those on whom God confers his grace, no less than on those from whom it is withheld; or if they have not proceeded to the same lengths of wickedness with some others, they were, at least, guilty of those rebellions which might have justly provoked God to inflict the same spiritual judgments upon them, which render the condition of their fellow sinners hopeless. This appears plain from what Paul says of the condition of the Gentiles, in the first chapter of his epistle to the Romans. There he tells us, that because they worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, they were given up to vile affections and to a reprobate mind. Was it not just that all these men should be left to perish forever, who had brought upon themselves such awful tokens of the divine displeasure? Yeťmillions of them were saved by the grace of God, while others were left to eat of the fruit of their own doings.
The sovereignty of the grace of God in sav. ing men, is by many denied, and even those who will not venture to deny what appears so plain from Scripture and experience, can scarcely be reconciled to the thoughts of it. That God should save some great sinners, and leave others in a state of perdition, who have been less guilty, appears to them strange and unaccountable. I would ask such persons, as the apostle does, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord ? or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given unto the Lord, and it shall be recompensed to him again ?” Elihu's question is no less pertinent, and no less unanswerable : “Who hath given him a charge over the earth, or who hath disposed the whole world? He that pretends to instruct God, let him answer it.”
God certainly knows better than we can direct him, how to manage the affairs both of the present world and the next; when, how, and to whom to dispense the blessings of time and eternity. His understanding is infinite,
his righteousness is invariable, and his mercy is above the heavens.
You will not deny that God gives riches, and honors, and long life to whom he pleases, and that he often withholds these blessings from better men than those on whom he confers thein. Will you therefore quarrel with him? “Woe to him that striveth with his Maker. Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth.
Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? or thy work, He hath no hands?
Do you think that God ought to have converted and saved all men ? But do not all men deserve condemnation? The Scripture, which cannot be broken, says, that judgmerit is come upon all men to condemnation. Is this condemnation unrighteousness? Then it is not judgment, but the hand of unrelenting tyranny that is come upon us to condemnation. But if the condemnation is just, what are we to think of those who say that it would not be right to execute the awful sentence upon any one of the criminals, or upon all of them without exception ? If so, then it is by pure grace that any of them are exempted, and if it is pure grace that exempts them, it must have a good right to select its objects.
Those who dislike the doctrine of the sov. ereignty of divine grace, are no less enemies to the law than to the gospel. If they were