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duties and are not to blame for the neglect. In this you accuse him of being the greatest tyrant that ever alarmed a distempered imagination. Here then is perfect war. No two men were ever more earnestly at strife. And yet you say you are not his enemy. I appeal to the universe if this is not enmity and war, if this is not high treason against God in its most horrid form.
(3.) This plea is ruinous. It is only an exertion to steel your conscience against a sense of blame; and while you succeed you never can be convicted. While you say you cannot you never can. The main difficulty in the way of conviction, and of course one grand impediment in the way of conversion, is this very plea. The removal of it is the conviction itself. The removal of it is therefore clearing away one of the greatest obstructions to your salvation. This obstruction must be removed. You must take the shame and blame to yourself and clear your Maker, or nothing can ever be done for you. While you are striving to cover yourself with this excuse, you know not what you do; you are taking the readiest way to ruin yourself forever. If you would not perpetrate the highest act of suicide, court this conviction, lie down under a sense that you are without excuse and draw it upon you with all your might. This is the first step that you can take. If you will not take this but will stand justifying yourself till you die, you must inevitably perish.
(4.) The plea is insincere. The worst of it all is, that after so long abusing your Maker with these horrid charges, you do not believe a word of them yourself. If you did, you would not remain so unmoved; you would be overwhelmed with terrour and dismay. Were a man locked up in a burning house, and knew the key to be in the hands of a merciless tyrant, you would not see him folding his arms and walking at his ease about the apartments.
When we see your knees smite like Belshazzar's, we shall begin to believe you sincere. But while you continue sporting along the road of life without one anxious thought of God or eternity, we know that your plea is nothing but a pretence to protect your stupidity. You do not even believe that you are dependant. Would to God you did. You would not then treat the Sovereign of the universe with all this abuse. You would not thus boldly cast off fear and restrain prayer. We should hear you crying for mercy with the earnestness of a dying man.But the insincerity of this plea will be still more evident when we consider,
(5.) How much at variance it is with other things uttered by the same lips. At the moment you urge this excuse, you deny the doctrine of election. Now if what you say is true, that you are as unable to obey the Gospel as a dead man is to rise, certainly your salvation depends on God; and if he is unchangeable, it depends on his eternal will or decree: and this is election. The doctrine of election follows from your plea in a far more terrific form than that in which I have presented it. And yet you urge the plea and reject the doctrine. You will neither consent to have power yourself, nor leave your fate with God. If we say you have power, and urge you to act, you deny, and plead your inability as an excuse for doing nothing. If we say you are dependant, (though in a far inferior sense,) and speak of election, (which is an inevitable consequence of your dependance,) you again deny and complain. My dear hearer, what do you want? "We have piped unto you and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented." You will neither have it that you can turn yourself, nor that it depends on the eternal, unchangeable God to turn you. How then would you have it? You plainly know not your own mind, and seem settled in noth
ing but to resist every truth that happens to displease you. To engage in the divine service, is loathsome, and that you will not do; to bear the blame of refusing, you cannot consent; and therefore you take shelter in the plea of inability: to be dependant on God's eternal choice, is insufferable to your feelings, (though this unavoidably follows from your own plea;) and therefore you oppose election. The three things which you desire are these; to be excused from the divine service, to be exonerated from the blame of neglecting it, and to hold your fate in your own hands. When you would avoid the imputation of blame, you are willing to have no power; but as little power as you have, you insist on deciding your own fate. We may explain election till we die, and so long as we leave your destiny in the hands of a sovereign God, you are not satisfied. We may heap proof upon proof to establish the point of your ability, and so long as the argument attaches blame to you, you are not convinced. Whenever you are brought to a serious concern about religion, then indeed the case is somewhat altered. Then your sole desire is to be suffered to do something short of love and faith, and to induce God by that means to change your heart and save your soul. To be told that you cannot induce him by such a withered offering, gives you distress; to be urged to do more, you will not consent. But let me tell you that this hope of moving God by any act that does not rest on Christ, is the very definition of self-righteousness. Yet here you linger, and here you wish ministers to leave you. But if we leave you there, you are undone. If that selfrighteousness is not torn from you, it will forever keep you from Christ. We must still follow you with loud and repeated warnings not to stop short of a full reliance on the Mediator; and when you refuse, we must show you that your obstinacy casts
you dependant on sovereign grace. And when we do this, you will probably say that we contradict ourselves, and preach that you can and that you cannot.
(6.) This plea, if it were true, would only condemn you. It was a miserable excuse for the slothful servant, that because he expected his lord would require exorbitant interest, he had taken care that he should have none. Was this the way to deal with a hard master who had him in his power? The plea condemned himself. If it were true, he ought to have put his money to the exchangers, and swelled the amount to the last limit of his power. Sinner, this retort was intended for you. If you have a master in heaven who requires more than you can perform, is this a good reason why you should do nothing? why you should do so much against him? Is it a good reason why you should never pray in your family, and seldom in your closet? why you should not look into your Bible once a week? why you should never attend a religious meeting except on the Sabbath, and then perhaps but once a day? If you cannot change your heart are you therefore obliged to push God out of all your thoughts? to feel so little reverence for him and his institutions? to profane his holy day? to utter so many cavils against his word? to violate so often, in your dealings and conversation, the rule of doing to others as you would have others do to you? to utter so much slander and profanity? and to commit in various ways so many positive sins? To live altogether to yourself, and never regard his glory at all,-is this the way to treat a hard master who has you in his power? Out of thine own mouth shalt thou be judged, thou wicked and slothful servant. If your plea is true, your conduct is mad.
Thus I have finished what was proposed. I have shown that this allegation against God is false, is
impious, is ruinous, is insincere, is at variance with other things uttered by the same lips, and is selfcondemning if true. And now suffer me to beseech those of you who remain in sin, to renounce this God-provoking plea and acknowledge yourself infinitely to blame for not being convicted, for not instantly performing the duties of repentance and faith. Between the full charge contained in this horrid plea, and this frank acknowledgment, there is no middle ground. It is undeniable that for only remaining unconverted, I may say unconvicted, this one hour in the house of God, you deserve eternal death. And will you still attempt to justify yourselves and cast the blame on him? After he has given you full power to serve him, and redeemed you from death, and offered you life, and pressed it upon you, and granted you abundant light, and you have resisted all, shall he bear the blame, and you be excused? Do you insist on this? Then you and your Maker are at open war. And the contest must last forever, or one of the parties must yield. Shall God submit to you, or will you submit to him? If this controversy goes to trial at the last day, I forewarn you now that the case will go against you. The sentence of every holy being in the universe will be against you. The conscience of every reprobate, your own conscience, will be against you. O agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with him. "As though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
I have told you your duty; and for neglecting it you have no excuse. But well I know that till the grace of God subdues you your obstinacy will resist all entreaties. This casts you at last, ruined, utterly ruined, self-ruined, on the sovereign will of God,a will which all creation cannot change. At the moment you are supporting this impious warfare