« PreviousContinue »
duty, and a disgrace to the ministry that we have received: what a dreadful damnation must ours be! But, notwithstanding, what reason there is to fear, that thousands in Europe who are considered as pastors of christian churches, pay very little regard to fidelity and justice, with reference to the per, formance of pastoral engagements.
Were the awful responsibility of Christian ministers more generally understood and regarded, not only numbers of lazy, covetous, and affluent ecclesiastical hirelings would renounce their pluralities, and either abandon the character of ministers, or conscientiously perform in person, what they used to do, not caring how it was done, by proxy; but some, perhaps, among the real ministers of Christ, would not inadvertently violate their pastoral obligations, by voluntary absence from their flocks to so great a degree, without any special or cogent reason. Nay, had that responsibility of which I speak, been maturely considered by some persons of respectable characters for piety in private life, they might not have been so forward as they were, though under the influence of laudable motives, to assume the character of public teachers; when, in the eyes of judicious friends, they were not fitted for the office. I may venture to add, however, that he who, being duly qualified, by real piety and spiritual gifts, declines a call to the ministerial work, or the pastoral office, principally out of regard to his own ease, or under the influence of secular motives, declines it at his peril. Woe is me if I preach not the gospel !
Once more: The doctrine of divine justice loudly addresses the consciences of those that are asleep
in their sins; and cries in their ears, as the shipmaster to Jonah, What meanest thou, O sleeper ! arise, call upon thy God.* Yes, ye careless creatures! it addresses you, as with a voice in thunder, maintaining the reasonableness of that obedience which the law requires; the equity of that sanction by which its precepts are enforced; and the inflexibility of the Legislator's determination to execute his threatened curse upon transgression. So that whoever is not relieved by the gospel of divine grace, may well exclaim with the men of Bethshemesh; Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?
That some of you are unawakened sinners, there is little reason to doubt; and that such are more disposed to consider God as merciful, than as just -as readily pardoning the transgressions of multitudes, and rarely punishing the crimes of any with everlasting fire; is too apparent from the avowed sentiments of many, and from the general conduct of mankind. On this presumption, it is highly probable, you have stifled the occasional convictions of conscience, and hardened your hearts against apprehensions of danger, by encouraging a persuasion that the Supreme Lord will not be so rigidly just as the Scripture seems to represent. But, oh! beware of questioning the sincerity of God in his threatenings; lest, like our original mother, you meet with an awful disappointment, I and plunge into endless perdition. If you sow the wind, you must reap the whirlwind . In other words, if you sow vanity, you must reap vene * Jonah i. 6
+ 1 Sam. vi. 20. Gen. iii, 1--6. $ Hosea viii, 7.
geance. A realizing conviction of the dreadful evil which there is in sin; of its deserving the punishment annexed to it, by divine law; and of our lying entirely at sovereign mercy; are far from being common among mankind. Hence Christ and his gospel, the worship of God and the care of the soul, are all neglected. Nay, the solicitude of any one about his final interests, and earnest enquiries how he may escape the wrath to come; are treated with derision, as marks of Methodism, or as tokens of insanity.
Thus multitudes go on, there is reason to fear, presuming on divine mercy, but thoughtless of eternal justice, until death overtake them, and they are damned, e’re apprehensive of danger. Remember, ye unconverted sinners, that you must be born again; that your hearts must be turned to Christ ---to holiness—to heavenly things; or else, in a little while, you must experience the truth of that saying, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. For how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; persevere in our sins, and leave the world in a state of enmity to God?
Relative to the Doctrine of Atonement by Jesus
In the conclusion of the preceding Discourse, when delivered from the pulpit, I just mentioned an hypothesis respecting the limitation of our Lord's atonement; which I will now take the liberty, bý way of APPENDIX, to examine.
Extremely adverse and irreconcilable as the necessary consequences of maintaining, on the one part, That Christ, by his death, made an atonement for all mankind; and, on the other, That he made an atonement for the elect only, are usually thought; a reconciling expedient or compromise between them, has been invented. This expedient, if I mistake not, may be justly represented in the following position: The PARTICULARITY of the atonement consists in the sovereign pleasure of God, with regard to ITS APPLICATION. By viewing the subject in this light, it is imagined, that provision is made for the satisfaction of all reasonable demands on each side of the question.
It is necessary to be observed, before we enter into the merits of this position, that the application of the atonement is here to be understood, as including, not only what the New Testament denominates, RECEIVING the atonement—the SPRINKLING
of the blood of Jesus Christ-and, FAITH in his blood ;* but also the absolute intention of Christ in his death, to save all those who shall be finally happy. But, notwithstanding the unauthorized latitude of meaning which is here claimed for a particular term, to render the position more plausible; various and cogent reasons may be urged against it: among which the following solicit my reader's candid consideration.
This reconciling expedient confounds the atonement itself, with its application to the sinner. Whereas, though the former completely ascertain the latter; yet, not being the same fruit of divine favour, they must not be identified. This will
appear by considering, that the term application always supposes the existence of whatever is applied. The atonement, therefore, must be considered as existing, either actually or in the divine decree; the expiation must be viewed as made for sin; before it can be applied to the sinner. Nor ought the application of a thing to any person, or for any purpose, to be confounded with the thing itself. Hence, in former times, hardly any distinction was more common among theological writers, than that between, what they denominated, the impetration and the application of redemption by Jesus Christ.
To represent the intention of Christ in his death, to save Paul, for instance, and not Judas, under the notion of APPLYING the atonement to Gamaliel's pupil, and not to the traitor; is, to me at least, a perfectly novel sense of the word application, respecting the death of our Lord: and was, I presume, adopted to meet the necessities of this hy
* Rom. v. 11. 1 Pet. i. 2. Rom. ii. 25,