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The malignity of devils is no more sinful than the fury of lions, and the love of seraphs no more praiseworthy than the mildness of lambs. The moral Governour has lost his throne, and is no more than a shepherd among a flock of sheep and goats. To all this horrid length you are pushed the moment you attempt to hold up the opposition of the heart to God as an excuse instead of a crime,—the moment you deny it to be the very essence of all sin.
And consider, I pray you, how it must appear to the majesty of heaven and earth for you to stand forth and plead that you cannot discover any "form" or "comeliness" in him why you "should desire him."-Is he then so unlovely that a rational mind cannot love him? What, cannot love the infinitely glorious God, your Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer! Have you such a heart as this? And your heart is you yourself. Are you then such a wretch, that all the motives which three worlds present cannot prevail on you to love the blessed God? It is an everlasting blot on creation that a second word need be uttered to induce men to love that Being whom all heaven adore. And are you such a wretch that all the motives in the universe cannot persuade you, and you must be compelled? What an eternal reproach to the name of man! And do you offer this horrid temper as your excuse? Is this your plea? I call heaven and earth to witness that this is pleading GUILTY. "How can I love God?" How can you help it? How is it possible to avoid loving such a Being? Cannot! You can love every thing else. You can love sin, the most loathsome of objects. And is it harder to love infinite loveliness? How think you this plea will appear at the judgment of the great day? When God shall arraign you, and charge you with being his enemy, and you shall plead that you were his enemy, and so much his enemy that you could not love him, what
will he say? Our text tells you what he will say: "Thou wicked and slothful servant!" and will then command you to outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you risen up against God and the universe, and committed sins deserving of eternal "shame and contempt?" and do you now ask, how can I repent? How can you help dying with shame and self-loathing? What should you think of a man who had murdered his father and mother, and could not be sorry? Has the Son of God died to redeem you, and then spread before you the most incontestable proofs of his mission and death? and can you not believe? Can you not make one thank-offering to dying love? Can you not help being his enemy, and trampling his blood in the dust? Are you such a monster of ingratitude and wickedness? And do you still ask, how can I repent?
You admit in general that you are to blame for your opposition to God; but it has risen to such a pitch that you cannot subdue it, and from this task you think you ought to be excused. And has it come to this, that a man is to blame for committing murder once, but if he commits it ten times and forms the habit, he may murder with impunity? Or to confine the view to operations of the mind, will you say that a man is to blame for hating his neighbour a little, but if he hates him much he is excused? Is it not manifest to common sense that the more he hates the more blamable he is? And on the same principle, if the sinner's opposition to God rises so high as to be unconquerable but by divine power, he is on that account the more abominable and hell-deserving. And does he think to plead in extenuation the very thing that aggravates his guilt? But there are no bounds to this plea. If you accept it as an excuse for not loving and submitting to God, and only exhort the sinner to be convicted,
Not one of you would admit the
wrathful, hard-hearted, impenitent, unbelieving, without love to God. If men are not to blame for these evils of the heart, we want a new Bible, a new moral government, a new God.
Only grant me that it is inexcusable to disobey the positive commands of God,-commands addressed to you, and issued in full view of all your embarrassments, and it is settled that you are without excuse for not instantly loving and submitting to him. That such an immediate submission is required, I shall presently show, and shall now assume. Here then is a state of things which must bring blame on the Lawgiver or on you. If you have a good excuse for not obeying these commands, they ought not to have been issued, and then the blame falls on him; if you have no excuse, the blame rests on you. I know you are striving by all these self-justifying pleas to fasten it on God; but I shall deem it no assumption, after all that has been said, if I clear my Maker and lay the blame on you.
This brings me to the end of my argument, and shows that there is no difficulty in the way but what you are to blame for,-none therefore but of a moral nature, therefore no natural inability, of course you must have natural power.
Having arrived at this conclusion, I shall proceed to confirm it by other considerations. The Bible, (if you will allow me to quote that authority in a controversy between you and its Author,) represents men as possessed of natural power, and ascribes all their embarrassment to the depravity of their hearts or wills. "O foolish people and without understanding, which have eyes and see not, which have ears and hear not." "Thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see and see not, they have ears to hear and hear not, FOR THEY ARE A REBELLIOUS HOUSE."
forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.” "They are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ears; which will not hearken to the voice of the charmers, charming never so wisely." "Thus saith the Lord,-In returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength, and ye would not." "Ye will not come to me that ye might have life." "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” "Those my enemies which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me." "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For every one that doth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light lest his deeds should be reproved." The moral Governor every where disclaims the principle of requiring men to go beyond their power. "If there be first a willing mind it is accepted, according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not."*
But is it not said, "No man can come to me except the Father-draw him?" I answer, the Scriptures often use the word cannot to express nothing more than a strong disinclination. "Haste thee, escape thither," said the angel to Lot, "for I cannot do any thing till thou become thither." Joseph's brethren "hated him and could not speak peaceably unto him." "The tabernacle of the Lord,-and the altar of the burnt offering were-at Gibeon; but David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord." "Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt?" "My iniquities have taken
Ps. lviii. 4, 5. Isai. xxx. 15. and xliii. 8. Jer. v. 21. Mat. xxiii. 37. Luke xix. 27. John iii. 19. 20. and v. 40.
Ezek. xii. 2. 2 Cor. viii. 12.