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the gospel plan, is the express condition of pardon. True repentance extends to all sins. And if there must be a repentance of all sins, there must surely be a repentance of that unbelief, which is the greatest of all, and radically includes every other. Our Savior has expressly declared, concerning those to whom he had spoken his word and manifested his works, "He who believeth not on the Son of God, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotton Son of God." "This is the condemnation, that light hath come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." This brings us to our 2d Observation, That the true cause of infidelity is a hatred of the gospel. Our Savior says of the unbelieving Jews, "They have seen and hated me."
If the gospel is important in its nature, and credible in its evidence, the only reason of men's opposition to it, where it comes, must be the contrariety of their hearts to it. They reject it, because they dislike it. They oppose it, because it condemns them. "Every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh he to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." It is through an evil heart of unbelief, that men depart from the living God. They who make shipwreck of the faith, have first put away a good conscience.
1. Infidels feel an enmity to the gospel, because it requires a strict purity of heart and life. While their hearts are fully set in them to do evil, they cannot be pleased with those holy precepts, which forbid and condemn the evil; they cannot love those plain spiritual doctrines which urge the neces
sity of repentance and newness of life. They desire happiness; but it is a happiness devised by their own imagination, rather than that described in the gospel. And they wish to obtain it on easier terms than the denial of ungodliness and worldly lusts. If Christ were the minister of sin, and would save them in a way which accorded with the corruptions of their hearts, they would receive him. But when they are taught, as the truth is in Jesus, that they must be born again, become new creatures, be renewed in the spirit of their minds, put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man which is created after the image of God, they pronounce these to be hard sayings, and they will not receive them.
2. In the religion of the gospel there is too much selfdenial for unbelievers. To renounce some of their iniquities perhaps they would consent. But to lay aside every weight, and the sin which most easily besets them-to keep themselves from their favorite iniquity-to take up the cross and follow Christ whither soever he goes-to forsake the interests and honors of the world, when these come in competition with heaven-to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts-to make their secular business give place to the duties of piety, and their temporal concerns yield to the happiness of eternity, these, they think, are too severe and mortifying terms; and they endeavor to persuade themselves, that a scheme of religion so opposite to their natural desires and propensities, is not divine. They hope to pass in a smoother road to happiness.
3. The gospel is too humbling a dispensation for some to receive. It teaches us, that we are all sinners, guilty before God, condemned by his law, and worthy of death, and that we can be saved only by sovereign grace through the righteousness of a Sav
jor that we must be convinced of our guilty and lost state, and of our desert of the wrath to comethat we must renounce all selfconfidence, lay ourselves at the foot of divine mercy, and seek salvation as a free gift from God, to which we can make no claim on the foot of any thing which we have done. The natural pride of the human heart objects against this humiliation and selfabasement. It would make out some merit of its own. It would set up some kind of demand on God's justice. It would indulge the persuasion, that God has not been so much offended and dishonored as to justify him in any great severity. It is only through the power of God, that the word becomes mighty to cast down these proud imaginations, and to captivate every thought to the obedience of Christ.
4. Some reject the gospel, because they hate the threatenings which are there uttered against the finally impenitent.
These threatenings are indeed awful. They plainly import, that there is a punishment for the workers of iniquity, and that this punishment will be terrible in degree, and interminable in duration. Such threatenings as these, sinners resolved to continue in a wicked course, choose not to believe. They contrive various artifices to mollify their harshness, or shorten their duration, or to cavil them out of the Bible. But after all that can be done, here they are; the language of them is plain; it will not yield. to human sophistry. They are so deeply engraved, that they cannot be effaced-so inwrought with the doctrines and precepts of revelation, that they cannot be separated. While this remains, they will remain in it. Some, therefore, to get rid of these threatenings, renounce the gospel which contains them. They had rather believe, that the gospel is not true, than believe, that such a punishment awaits
them, as these threatenings import. And in this, they are more consistent with themselves, than those who pretend to believe the gospel, and yet disbelieve all future punishment. For, if there is any thing in scripture which can be understood, it certainly denounces destruction against the finally impenitent. The man who pretends that all the threatenings, which he reads, must mean something else, may as well pretend, that the precepts, which literally forbid murder, theft, drunkenness, lying and swearing mean something else; and that the promises which seem to import a state of future happiness for the righteous, mean something else; and that there is no intelligible meaning in any thing which we read there. But whatever artifice men may use with themselves to suppress the fears, or with the Bible to expunge the threatenings of future punishment, still the danger awaits them; and they can obtain no security, till they comply with the terms which the gospel has stated, and by repentance flee from the wrath to come and by faith lay hold on the hope set before them.
5. Some dislike and reject the gospel, because it contains doctrines which are not within the reach of human discovery, and affirms certain facts which are now out of the course of common observation. In their exalted opinion of their own wisdom, they despise a scheme of religion, which is too deep for their penetration, too wonderful for their investigation, and too grand for their comprehension. They make their own pride and prejudice the standard by which to judge what the wisdom of God ought to do, what his justice has a right to do, and what his goodhess will be inclined to do. Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools, and change the glory of God into the likeness of men, and degrade his sov ereignty to the dictates of men. The Apostle says,
"We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which none of the princes of this world knew." And how should they know it, without a revelation from God? "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." If we cannot know the intentions of a man without information from the man himself, much less can we know the will of God without a revelation from God. "The Spirit searcheth," or perfectly knoweth" all things, even the deep things of God; and God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit. We have received the the Spirit, that we might know the things, which are freely given us of God; and these things we speak. The natural man," vainly relying on his own powers, "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things; and to him the gospel of Christ is the wisdom of God."
The gospel is a glorious scheme for the salvation of sinners. As such it is worthy of immediate attention, full belief and thankful acceptance. It is to be lamented, that among those, to whom it comes, so many either deny the truth of it, or hold the truth in unrighteousness. The cause of their infidelity is the wickedness of their hearts. The wickedness which prompts their opposition to the gospel, disqualifies them for the blessings of it. They cannot be saved by the gospel, while their enmity to it remains. They must embrace it with faith, love and submission; else, instead of being to them a Savior of life unto life, it will be a Savior of death unto death.And awful will be the condemnation of those, who, when light has come into the world, still love darkness rather than light.