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his character. But this objection does not lie against the divine decrees, but the divine conduct. God did choose Paul, and reprobate Judas. And if God's doing this was not partiality, neither was his decreeing to do it. Partiality does not consist in God's treating one man differently from another, but in his treating one man differently from another without any reason for it. Hence God's choosing some to life, and appointing others to death, for wise and holy reasons, implies no partiality in the divine affections or conduct.
It is said, The doctrine of decrees, in its full extent, implies that God brings some men into a state that is worse than nonexistence, which is inconsistent with his goodness. It is readily granted that God does bring some men into existence in a state worse than non-existence. He did so in respect to Judas. It had been good for that man if he had not been born. But how this should be considered an objection against divine goodness, when God does it, as in the case of Judas, with a view to his own glory and the greatest good of the universe, it is hard to conceive ; since it is a clear demonstration of the contrary. Thus the doctrines of election and reprobation stand confirmed against all objections, beyond a doubt. For there is no reasoning against facts. And it is a plain fact that God has elected and appointed a part of mankind to salvation, and reprobated the other part of mankind to destruction. So long as the case of Judas stands recorded in the word of God, the Bible must be renounced, or the doctrines of election and reprobation must be believed.
3. It appears, from the instance of Judas, that sin may be the occasion of good. It has been so in one case, and it may be so in other cases. It is certain that the sin of Judas was the occasion of good. His betraying his Lord and Master was a sin of the first magnitude, and perhaps, all circumstances considered, the greatest sin that ever was committed by men or devils. Yet it proved the occasion of the greatest blessings that ever came to our fallen race. It was the occasion of all the benefits of Christ's redemption. If it be asked, What is intended by sin's being the occasion of good; I answer, The same that is meant by a murder's being the occasion of an excellent sermon. Not that the murder makes the sermon, but that the murder is that, without which the preacher would not and could not make the sermon, adapted to that particular occurrence of divine providence. So sin, in itself, does not make good, but is that without which some good cannot take place. Now if the sin of Judas may, in this sense, be the occasion of good, then the sin of any other man, or of all mankind, may be the occasion of good in the same sense.
There is no absurdity in the supposition. And if it be possible in the nature of things for sin to be the occasion of good, then it is certain, from the rectitude of the divine character, that it will be so. God would neither introduce sin into the world, nor suffer it to exist, but for the wisest and best ends. So that we may, with the Psalmist, be assured that the wrath of man shall praise the Lord, and the remainder of wrath he will restrain. God will so order and govern the conduct of men, that no more sin shall exist than shall be the occasion of good.
4. The case of Judas shows that sin's being the occasion of good is no excuse for the sinner. It was none to Judas. He felt as guilty as if no benefit had ever come to the world by his sin. And whilst he beholds the whole number of the redeemed, through the blood of Christ, in the mansions of eternal blessedness, it will never afford him the least excuse for betraying innocent blood. He will be conscious to himself that he never desired nor intended that good by betraying Christ; and therefore that his guilt is the same as if no good had flowed from his crime. And it is true of every sinner, that his guilt is not the least extenuated by the good that may arise from his sins. God's end in the taking place of sin is directly opposite to the sinner's. God aims at good, but the sinner aims at evil. So it was with the king of Assyria. To him God said, “ O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation; against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down, like the mire of the streets. Howbeit, he
, meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few." On account of his intention and design, the Assyrian monarch was inexcusably guilty, and deserved the divine indignation. Accordingly God threatens to punish him for his ambition and cruelty. " Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.” The conduct of sinners is as evil, guilty and hateful in its own nature, as it would be, if no good were ever occasioned by its existence. And therefore the wise and holy conduct of God, in causing good to arise from the existence of evil, can never afford sinners any excuse for their sinful conduct. Hence,
5. Sin's being the occasion of good affords no encouragement to commit sin. Sin brings both guilt and punishment upon the sinner. It did upon Judas. Behold the guilty, miserable man! He betrays innocent blood. His conscience awakes and condemns him. He comes trembling and throws down the thirty pieces of silver, the reward of iniquity. He confesses his guilt, and sinks down into horror and despair, under the stings of a guilty conscience. " A wounded spirit who can bear ?" He feels the worm that never dies, and tastes the beginning of eternal sorrows. His punishment is greater than he can bear. He can conceive of nothing more terrible in the bottomless pit, than his present anguish and torment. And, therefore, by the violence of his own hands, he plunges himself into the regions of darkness and despair. There he lies, bound in chains unto the judgment of the great day, when he shall appear with shame and contempt, hear his fearsul doom, and sink again into the fire that never shall be quenched. Endless punishment, torment and despair in hell, are all the encouragement there is to sin. God will render "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” Hence,
6. Sinners will have no excuse, if they abuse the means of grace, reject the offers of life, and expose themselves to eternal ruin. One of their number has made the awsul experiment, and found himself without hope and without excuse. And those who tread in his steps, will come to the same end. They will have no excuse for their wickedness and misery, from the patience of God, from the native corruption of their hearts, nor from the divine decrees. Their mouths will be shut; and they
; will stand guilty and confounded before God. Into such a state Judas brought himself by his own voluntary and des. perate wickedness. And every sinner will find that his guilt is all his own, and that he alone must bear it, though it sinks him into endless torment and despair. Therefore,
To conclude, Let every sinner be entreated to flee from the wrath to come. Be assured there is wrath to come, and that your damnation slumbereth not. Notwithstanding the mercy of God in the gist of Christ, the common smiles of divine prov. idence upon you, and the patience and forbearance of God towards
you, yet it is in the heart of God to send you down to the pit of wo and despair, if you do not repent, and believe, and obey the gospel. He treated Judas as kindly in this life as he has treated you.
And yet he has turned him into hell for his sins. And he will treat you in the same awful manner. Be entreated, then, by the terrors of the Lord, by the mercy of Christ, by the joys of heaven, and by the torments of hell, to fall down immediately before the righteous God, and not only confess your sins, as Judas did, but heartily repent, and truly believe the gospel, and give up yourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” He that repents and believes, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.
John, the last of the apostles, wrote this book while in banishment in the Isle of Patmos. He was favored with extraordinary visions of the heavenly world, and inspired to foretell the most important changes which were to pass over the world, from his day to the end of time. From the fourteenth chapter to the close of the book, he gives a very striking representation of the increase and prosperity of the church, and the final overthrow of Babylon, which mystically represents antichrist, the great head of all opposition to it. He says, “I looked and lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.” This Larnb was an emblem of Christ, surrounded by those whom he had redeemed from the earth. After the safe arrival of the church in heaven, he says there followed another angel, saying, “ Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." And after these things he says, “ I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying Alleluia: Salvation and glory and honor and power unto the Lord our God. For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever." Alleluia signifies, Praise ye the Lord. This is the truth which lies on the face of the text :
The heavenly host will praise God for punishing the finally impenitent for ever. VOL. VI.
It is proposed to show, in the first place, that they will praise God for punishing the finally impenitent for ever; and then to inquire, why they will do it.
Î. I am to show that the heavenly hosts will praise God for punishing the finally impenitent for ever.
1. This appears from the representations of scripture. The church of God on earth sang praises to God for the display of his justice in the destruction of Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. When the people of God had passed through it on dry ground, and saw the Egyptians overwhelmed in the merciless waves,
“ Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” And the apostle John heard the inhabitants of heaven sing this same song in praise of God, for destroying his impenitent and incorrigible enemies. When the seven angels, who had the seven last plagues to inflict upon the wicked world as marks of God's just and awful displeasure, were prepared to pour out the vials of divine wrath, then John heard them “sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty ; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." When Isaiah had a vision of heaven, and of the desolating judgments which God had sent upon the wicked upon earth, he heard the heavenly hosts cry one unto another," Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." Isaiah and John were eye and ear witnesses of the feelings and language of the heavenly world, in the view of God's vindictive justice in punishing the wicked. They assure us that the heavenly hosts do actually praise God for displaying his righteous and holy displeasure against the enemies of all righteousness. They cry Alleluia, when they behold the smoke of their torments rising up for ever and ever. This leads me to observe,
2. These representations are perfectly agreeable to the character of perfectly holy beings. The pure spirits in heaven are holy as God is holy, and just as God is just; they feel as God feels towards himself and all his holy and unholy creatures. As God loves holiness and hates sin, so they love holiness and hate sin; and as he is disposed to punish sin, so they are pleased to see him punish sin. It is altogether reasonable, therefore, to suppose that they are disposed to love him and praise him for giving sinners a just recompense of reward. They see him cast the wicked down to hell. For John heard the third angel, who was the executioner of divine vengeance, say, “ If any man worship the beast and his image, the same