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stand, he cannot save thee: For he cannot deny himself ; he cannot overthrow the whole tenor of his gospel, and make himself The minister of sin*. You know, he has expressly said, If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins ti nay, He that believeth not shall be damnedf. You know he has foretold, that he will another day publicly say, As for those mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither, and slay them before meş: And that so much more dreadful condemnation awaits them, than fell on the transgressors of Moses's law, though they Died without mercyll, that It shall be more tolerable for Sodom und Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for such. And will your hopes still stand, while all this dreadful artillery is planted directly against them? Shall the earth be forsaken for thee, and the rock be removed out of its place**? Rocks should much sooner be removed, and all the earth left desolate, than the whole constitution of the gospel shall be overthrown, lest thou shouldst perish. You would not take poison, in hope that God should work a miracle to preserve your life. Yet you might more reasonably expect this, than the other ; because it would not so directly contradict any of the perfections of God, or any of his declarations. The inatter is brought to a very short issue ; and it requires no penetration, or labour of thought, to see it. If the gospel be not true, there is no foundation for expecting this salvation at all; but if it be, you are cut off from any hope of it, while you continue thus ; and you are, even whilst I speak, on the very borders of hell.
And now, disarmed as you are of all these unavailing hopes, sit down and enter deeply into your present circumstances. “ The Son of God became incarnate, and lived and died to procure salvation for such guilty creatures as I: And I have heard of this salvation ; but I have no share in it. To this very hour The wrath of God abideth on mett. A storm of vengeance is arising around me, and I am excluded from the only ark in which I could be safe. Excluded by what? Why, to make it so much the more grievous, by my own folly.” If we were to take upon us absolutely to pronounce concerning any of you, that you were excluded from the offers of gospel grace, you would no doubt resent it highly; as you reasonably might. Much more, were it in the power of a fellow mortal to deprive you of all share in this great salvation, might you cry out of it
* Gal. ii. 17.
+ John viii. 24.
| Mark xv. 18.
& Luke xix. 27.
as a most hellish cruelty. You would not for the world do this
be invited and persuaded, in the strength of divine grace,
All the awful and terrifying things tre say, are dictated by the sincerest and tenderest love to your souls; and nothing can be farther from our intention, than to Come to torment you before the timet. Did we know, that your day of grace was past we would spare these unwelcome pains; and would rather permit you to sleep on and take your rest. But these are moments of hope, sinners, though you make them moments of extreme danger: And though there be no hope for you, while you continue to reject Christ, yet if you accept him, you have nothing to fear; but This very day, if you this day entertain him, shall salvation come to your housef. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation şi and after so long a time, it is yet called to-dlayil
. Once more, and as to some of you, it may be for the last time, is the proclamation again made amongst you, Christ Is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him; and those that come, he will in no rvise cast out! And do you not hear the proclamation with pleasure ? And will you not obey it, as Worthy of all acceptation**.
What if the scene were changed, and the proposals were addressed to those wretched creatures who are now in hell ?
* Luke xvi. 23.
+ Mat. vili. 29.
Luke xix. 9.
§ 2 Cor. Fin
What if God should send an ambassador to them, and give him authority to address them to some such purpose as this? “ Desparing creatures, I am now come amongst you, not as a messenger of vengeance, but of peace. God has at length looked on your miseries with a compassionate eye; and there is a ray of mercy, darting through this gloom from the throne of grace, and from the Sun of Righteousness. The proposals you so long beard with indifference, and which you have so much longer remembered in the bitterness of your souls, are once more renewed. If you Cry unto him, even out of these depths, he will bear
you ; if you will submit your souls to his government and his
grace, he will save you, and I am commissioned in his name to assure you, that not only shall these gates of hell be thrown open for your release, but those of heaven shall be opened too for your admittance.”
Sinners, let your own consciences say, how you imagine at least, that such a proposal would be received by condemned spirits. Do you not think, that, as one forcibly expresses it, they would even leap in their chains ? Do you not think, the marks of long horror and despair would immediately vanish from their faces; that their eyes would sparkle with hope and joy; and that they would begin the work of praise even with their flaming tongues? But are not you yourselves in the same condemnation, though the sentence be not yet executed ? Why then do you now despise those rivers of mercy, the smallest drop of which you will hereafter desire in vain ? Alas! what we have here described, is merely an imaginary
Millions of ages shall roll away in sad succession, and no such proposals be made to the inhabitants of hell ; nor to you sinners, if you come into that place of torment. But they are now made good in earnest ; and therefore, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts*. Oh force us not another day, for the deliverance of our own souls, to bear a dreadfal testimony to the condemnation of yours; but hearken to these embassies of peace, and let us intreat and persuade you to be reconciledt. This is still the message, the invitation, the charge, even the same that you heard from the beginning : Come unto God by Christ. Behold a gracious God, stretching out his arms to receive you : Behold a compassionate Redeemer, yet waiting to introduce you to his favourable presence : And all the faithful subjects of his kingdom, here and above, are longing to see it erected in your souls. The thought even of
# Heb. iij. 15.
+ 2 Cor. Y. 20.
our own salvation, would be still sweeter to us, if we had a probable hope of sharing it with you. And shall earth and heaven expect and desire it in vain ? and will you, as it were, grieve both; that hell may rejoice in your ruin, and that devils may insult over you, and upbraid you, as having with your own hands thrust away that salvation, of which all their malice and their rage might in vain have attempted to deprive you? You will then, alas, Find no place for repentance, though, like Esau, you seek it carefully with tears*.
Alas, my friends, what more shall I say ? Could I find out any more weighty arguments, any more plain, serious, and affecting, forms of address, I would go on, though the discourse should swell beyond its due bounds; though my own strength were impaired by the earnestness of it, and though a vain, wretched, unbelieving world should deride at that earnestness as enthusiasm and madness. Nay, who that knows the importance of immortal souls, would not go on to plead in such a cause, though minutes and hours were to be struck off from his life for every word that he utters in it, could even such an expensive service be sure of success ? But that depends upon God, and to him we would look for it. In the mean time, I dismiss you with this one word: Whether you will hear, or whether you will forbear, he in whose name I speak, is witness, that the embassy is delivered ; and such words as these remain recorded in the book of his remembrance, and will sooner or later be brought to yours. 5. " Let such as are desirous of coming to God by Christ, take
encouragement from the declaration of the text."
We are not altogether Ignorant of satan's devicest : We know, by frequent observation and experience, how soon he can turn the syren's song, into the roaring of a lion ; what etforts lie makes, to drive the awakened soul into the agonies of despair, and to persuade him that he has thrown himself beyond the reach of mercy. But, if he be practising such cruel artifices on any soul in this assembly, I do, in the name of our Lord and Master, charge the lie on the father of falsehoods. You have perhaps a great many things to plead against yourselves; such as, the number, the enormity, and aggravation of your sins: You will say, they have been committed against the clearest light, against the tenderest love, against admonitions, more serious resolutions, most solemn covenant engagements : But all these pleas, and a
thousand more, are answered in this one word, He is able to save to the uttermost, them that come unto God by him. Is it still matter of doubt? Turn aside then, and more attentively view the trophies of his grace and power, erected in his word, erected on purpose for our encouragement, on whom the ends of the world are come
Behold Paul in his unconverted state, A blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious*. He appears to have divested himself, not only of that gentleness of manners, which might reasonably have been expected from a man of so liberal an education, but even of the sentiments of common humanity; furiously breathing out threatnings and slaughters against the saintst, without the least regard to innocence of life, or to tenderness of age or sex. Yet at the appearance of an Almighty Saviour, this furious barbarian was melted and subdued: In the full career of his blind and cruel rage, he falls down at the feet of that Jesus whom he persecuted, and cries out the very next moment, with the lowest submission, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do I? By the power of Christ, the fiend was transformed into an angel; He preached the faith, which just before he endeavoured to de-. stroys; and quickly learnt such language as this, Neither bonds nor imprisonments move me; nor do I count my life dear unto me, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God |I.
The Corinthians were debauched and abandoned to a proverb, the scandal of their country, and the reproach of their nature. For when the apostle had been reckoning up a catalogue of the most infainous sinners; such, as fornicators, and idolaters, and adulterers, and effeminate, and abusers of themselves with mankind, and thieves, and covetous, and drunkards, and revilers, and extortioners; he adds surprising words, and oh what surprising grace do they imply! Such were some of youl; such, that one would almost have expected, that lightning from heaven should have blasted them, or that the earth should have opened a passage into hell: But instead of this, says the apostle to these very men, ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. The blessed Jesus did not upbraid them with their former crimes, but poured forth his Spirit upon them in
• 1 Tim. i. 13.
+ Acts ix. 1.
| Acts ix. 5, 6.