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parent in the day that it was born, and left to perish. He sees its helpless condition, and resolves to save it. Under his kind patronage the child grows up to maturity. He now resolves to make her his wife: casts his skirt over her, and she becomes his. She is now, according to the public statutes of the realm, interested in all his possessions. Great is the transition! Ask her in the height of her glory, how she became possessed of all this wealth; and if she retain a proper spirit, she will answer in some such manner as this-' It was not mine, but my deliverer's; his who rescued me from death. It is no reward of any good deeds on my part: It is by marriage........It is of grace.'
It is easy to perceive in this case, that it was necessary she should be voluntarily married to her husband, before she could, according to the public statutes of the realm, be interested in his possessions; and that she now enjoys those possessions by marriage: yet who would think of asserting that her consenting to be his wife was a meritorious act, and that all his possessions were given as the reward of it?
Thirdly, From the foregoing view of things, we may perceive the alarming situation of unbelievers. By unbelievers-I mean not only avowed infidels, but all persons who hear or have an opportunity to hear the gospel, or to come at the knowledge of what is taught in the holy scriptures, and do not cordially embrace it. It is an alarming
thought to be a sinner against the greatest and best of Beings; but to be an unbelieving sinner, is much There is deliverance from the curse of the law, through him who was made a curse for us. But if, like the barren fig-tree, we stand from year to year, under gospel culture, and bear no fruit, we may expect to fall under the curse of the Saviour; and who is to deliver us from this? If the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression, and disobedience, received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape if we neglect so GREAT salvation!
We are in the habit of pitying heathens who are enthralled by abominable superstition, and immersed in the immoralities which accompany it : but to live in the midst of gospel light, and reject it, or even disregard it, is abundantly more criminal, and will be followed with a heavier punishment. We feel for the condition of profligate characters; for swearers, and drunkards, and fornicators, and liars, and thieves, and murderers; but these crimes become ten-fold more heinous in being committed under the light of revelation, and in contempt of all the warnings and gracious invitations of the gospel. The most profligate character who never possessed these advantages, may be far less criminal in the sight of God, than the most sober and decent who possesses and disregards them. It was on this principle that such a heavy woe was denounced against Chorazin and Bethsaida, and that their sin was represented as exceeding that of Sodom.
The gospel wears an aspect of mercy towards sinners; but towards unbelieving sinners the scriptures deal wholly in the language of threatening. I am come saith our Saviour, a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. IF ANY MAN HEAR MY WORDS, AND BELIEVE NOT, I judge him not: (that is, at present) for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.* It will be of but small account in that day that we have escaped a few of the lusts of the flesh, if we have been led captive by those of the mind. If the greatest gift of heaven be set at nought by us, through the pride of science, or a vain conceit of our own righteousness, How shall we stand when he appeareth?
It will then be found that a price was in our hands to get wisdom, but that we had no heart to it; and that herein consists our sin, and from hence proceeds our ruin. God called, and we would not hearken; he stretched out his hand, and no man regarded therefore he will laugh at our calamity, and mock when our fear cometh. It is intimated both in the old and new testament, that the recollection of the means of salvation being within our reach, will be a bitter aggravation to our punishment. They come unto thee, saith the Lord to
* John xii. 46–48.
Ezekiel, as my people come, and sit as my people sit, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them. And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come!) THEN SHALL THEY KNOW THAT A PROPHET HATH BEEN AMONG THEM.* To the same purpose our Saviour speaks of them who should reject the doctrine of his apostles-Into whatsoever city ye shall enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same; and say, Even the very dust of your city which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: NOTWITHSTANDING, BE YE SURE OF THIS, THAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS COME NIGH UNTO YOU.t
Great as is the sin of unbelief, however, it is not unpardonable: it becomes such only by persisting in it till death. Saul of Tarsus was an unbeliever, yet he obtained mercy; and his being an unbeliever, rather than a presumptuous opposer of Christ against conviction, placed him within the pale of forgiveness, and is therefore assigned as a reason of it.‡
This consideration affords a hope even to unbelievers. O ye self-righteous despisers of a free salvation, through a Mediator; be it known to you, that there is no other name given under heaven, or among men, by which you can be saved. To him whom you have disregarded and despised, you
must either voluntarily or involuntarily submit. To him every knee shall bow. You cannot go back into a state of non-existence, however desirable it might be to many of you: for God hath stamped immortality upon your natures. You cannot turn to the right hand, nor to the left, with any advantage: whether you give a loose to your inclination, or put a force upon it by an assumed devotion, each will lead to the same issue. Neither can you stand still. Like a vessel in a tempestuous ocean, you must go this way or that; and go which way you will, if it be not to Jesus as utterly unworthy, you are only heaping up wrath against the day of wrath. Whether you sing, or pray, or hear or preach, or feed the poor, or till the soil: if self be your object, and Christ be disregarded, all is sin,* and all will issue in disappointment: the root is rottenness, and the blossom shall go up as the dust. Whither will you go? Jesus invites you to come to him. His servants beseech you in his name to be reconciled to God. The Spirit saith, Come, and the bride saith Come; and, Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely. An eternal heaven is before you in one direction, and an eternal hell in the other. Your answer is required. Be one thing, or another. Chuse you, this day, whom ye will serve! For our parts, we will abide by our Lord and Saviour. If you continue to reject him, so it must be; nevertheless, be ye sure of
* Prov. xv. 8, 9. xxviii. 9. xxi. 4.