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nature as devils were never capable of comm tting. For one sin they were cast out of heaven, and reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, to the judgment of the great day. Never did they reject a Saviour, and insult the grace of God calling them to repentance, as we have done a thousand times. Are we not exceedingly ungrateful, if we are displeased with that sovereignty which has made such a blessed difference between us, and the angels that kept not their primitive integrity? Let none but devils blaspheme that just power which God claims and exercises, of doing what he will with his own.
We enjoy many blessings of a distinguishing nature. What is the reason why God gives us these revelations of his mercy, with
which so few other nations are favored ? Is it because we deserve better at God's hand than the people of China or Japan? They may be chargeable with vices that appear to human judgment more atrocious than ours; but in the estimation of God, unbelief and impenitence under the dispensation of the gospel, are more criminal than the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. To what then, but to sovereign mercy, are we to ascribe our happy privileges?
Why are we preserved from those vices which disgrace many in our own land? Is it the superior goodness of our natures, or
our wise improvement of our advantages, that has hitherto kept us from those crying iniquities, by which the condition of many of our fellow sinners is rendered almost desperate? Is it not the same God who kept Abimelech from adultery, that has preserved us from the worst of crimes?
Are we not convinced that we have been left to commit sins in a far greater number, and attended with far blacker aggravations, than thousands and millions of persons already consigned to the burning lake. If God is not to dispense his mercy according to his own sovereign rule, but according to regulations prescribed to him by his guilty creatures, no rule will appear more reasonable to us than this, that sinners whose crimes are fewest, or least inexcusable, should partake of his mercy, and that none of the chief of sinners should be suffered to escape. According to this rule, Paul, the blasphemer and persecutor, would have been shut out of heaven, and his place would have been occupied by some of those miserable creatures, who must groan forever under the intolerable wrath of the Almighty. Salvation, according to .this principle, ought to be bestowed upon none of those hearers of the gospel who have long continued impenitent; but, by some of those methods which Divine wisdom and power can easily devise and execute, those Gentiles that have
never poured any contempt upon the Redeemer, ought to be put in possession of those blessings of which many of us have rendered ourselves so unworthy.
Another rule which some would prescribe to the great Sovereign, is, that those who do what they can in a natural state, ought to be made partakers of his grace, and careless or profane sinners rejected. But what will any man do, in a natural state, to please God? They may do much from the principle of self love, but they do nothing from a principle of love to God. And whence is it that they do any thing, even from a regard to their own interest, that indicates a regard to the law or gospel of God? What is it that makes some persons serious, while others are profane; that disposes some to think with deep concern about their own salvation, while others walk on inconsiderately in the way of their own hearts? Is it not the Providence of God, and the operation of his Spirit accompanying his word, that makes the difference between one unregenerate man and another? God owes nothing to the best of them; for whatever they do, do they it not for themselves? Do they fast, and pray, and think of their ways for God, even for God? Is it true they give that attention which others do not, to the word of God, and the word of God may take hold of their hearts while they are hearing it, or thinking of it. But it
was sovereign mercy that disposed them to attend to the means of grace, and it is the same sovereign mercy that gives them efficacy upon their hearts.
Men may raise a thousand objections against God's prerogative of dispensing his mercy according to his own will. For my part, I am firmly persuaded that all my hope must rest on the richness and sovereignty of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, I am persuaded that millions already in hell were far less criminal, when they left the world, than I have been. I am sensible, that I can never make myself a fitter subject of mercy than I am at this moment,and that I must therefore follow to the pit those miserable wretches that are groaning under the wrath of God, in the place of damnation, unless I am plucked as a brand out of the burning. A doctrine so necessary to my hope and peace, as the sovereignty of divine mercy, I hope ne
ver to renounce.
5. The sovereignty of divine mercy in our salvation, is a doctrine taught through every part ofthe Scripture. Paul refers, in our text, to the words of Moses, quoted in the foregoing verse, as a proof of what he says on this subject. He quotes other texts from Moses, from Isaiah, from David, from Hosea, from Joel, to shew that God would not confine his mercy to the Jews, but make the Gen, tiles sharers in his salvation, while the body of the Israelitish nation was rejected.
Doctrines clearly taught in any one part of the Bible are firmly to be believed. Doctrines spread through every part of the Old and New Testament are capital articles of our religion, which ought to be the subject of our frequent consideration. When God speaks, not only once or twice, but many times, his repetitions of his own truths are not vain. What he causes frequently to come under our view, must merit a proportional share of our regard.
On the whole, we learn where our hope of salvation must be placed. It must not be placed, in any degree, or in any manner, upon ourselves, but upon that mercy which finds its reasons for its benefactions in itself. "Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord, be it known unto you." We endeavor to defraud the Lord of his glory which he seeks in our salvation, if we pretend to claim it as a debt due to ourselves.
That you may not be left without a sure ground of hope in that mercy which God exercises according to his own will, he discovers to you the abundance of his grace in his word, and in that gracious covenant established in Christ Jesus, of which the gospel is the revelation. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but have everlasting life." When Naomi reflected that Boaz was her near kinsman, she ad