« ПредишнаНапред »
as really as another, and one part of his character as really as another. They hate his holy power, his holy wisdom, his holy knowledge, his holy love, his holy mercy, his holy grace, his holy purposes, and all the holy dispensations of his providence. When they realize that God has made all things for himself, and intends to dispose of all things to promote his own glory and the highest holy happiness of the universe, they hate his whole character and his whole conduct, without a single exception. When they discover the perfect and universal holiness of God, they can discern no form or comeliness in his character or conduct wherefore they should love him; but they hate every thing he has done, and every thing he has designed to do. There is not a single trait in his charaeter, but what they perfectly hate. If sinners did but see and realize that one perfection of God is as holy as another, and one instance of his conduct is as holy as another, and that his whole character and conduct are perfectly benevolent and harmonious, they would no more doubt of their total enmity and opposition to God than of their own existence. The more clearly the whole character and the whole counsel of God are exhibited before them, the more the selfishness and sinfulness of their hearts will be awakened and realized. Paul once thought that he was blameless; but when the commandment came, sin revived and he died.
3. If God be perfectly holy, then every scheme of religion which is founded in selfishness is hateful to God and fatal to man. The gospel scheme of religion is founded in holiness, and all its essential doctrines are according to godliness; but every false scheme of religion is founded in selfishness, and all its essential doctrines are subversive of godliness. Arminianism is a false scheme of religion, and founded in selfishness. It teaches that all mankind come into the world entirely free from sin, and no more inclined to evil than to good. And though they afterwards become morally depraved, yet their depravity lies in their understanding, and not in the heart. It teaches that all men would love God supremely, if they only had a true speculative knowledge of his true character. They have no need of a renovation of heart, but only an enlightening of their understanding, to prepare them for heaven. They may love, obey and enjoy God without having the least disinterested benevolence, or holiness of heart. This selfish scheme of religion is subversive of all godliness, or vital piety. Antinomianism is a false scheme of religion, and founded in selfishness. It teaches that it is impossible for men to act from any other motive than self love; and that they are under no obligation to love God, unless they know that he loves them, and intends to make them for ever happy. This scheme of religion is entirely subversive
of holiness, and diametrically repugnant to the law of God and to the spirit of the gospel. Universalism is a false scheme of religion, and founded in selfishness. It teaches that men may live and die totally selfish, and yet inherit and enjoy the kingdom of heaven. This scheme of religion is totally subversive of holiness, and perfectly contrary to what nine hundred and ninety-nine in a thousand of mankind have always supposed to be either virtuous or pious. I might mention Sabellianism, Arianism, Socinianism and Unitarianism, which are all so many branches of selfishness, which are directly opposed to the pure spirit and holy doctrines of the gospel. It seems strange that any, with the Bible in their hands, should devise or embrace any selfish_scheme of religion, and build their eternal hopes upon it. For if God be perfectly holy, it is morally impossible that he should be pleased with an unholy religion, or approve of those who embrace it. It is safe to say
scheme of religion which is founded in selfishness' must be hateful to a perfectly holy God, and totally disqualify men for the enjoyment of him both here and hereafter. It is immaterial by what name a selfish religion is called, or how generally it be circulated and approved; for it will certainly destroy its votaries unless they renounce it, and become holy as God is holy.
4. If God be perfectly holy, then he must disapprove and reject all the religious services of all the unholy, impenitent, and unrenewed. Though there be a great diversity in the outward appearance and conduct of sinners, yet they are all by nature totally selfish and sinful, and equally destitute of supreme love to God, or true holiness. There is no essential difference between the heart of one sinner, and the heart of another. As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of one sinner answereth to another. They all act from the same selfish motives, whether they plow or sow, or whether they read or pray; and this, he who looketh on the heart and not on the outward appearance, sees and condemns. This he tells them plainly. He says, that the plowing of the wicked is sin, and the prayers
, of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord. Our Saviour said a great deal in his private and public discourses, to convince the best as well as the worst of sinners of the depravity of their hearts, which contaminated all their external services, however apparently regular, amiable and sincere. He knew how generally sinners trusted in themselves that they were righteous and acceptable in the sight of God, on account of their exterior conformity to the divine commands, while they retained and cherished every selfish and sinful affection. His sermon on the mount, which delineated the nature and effects of pure, disinterested benevolence, was directly suited to expose
and condemn all the selfish feelings, desires, and pursuits of the most serious, devout, self righteous sinners. But bis private discourses were often much more pointed. He stripped the amiable young man of all his boasted goodness and confident hopes, and sent him away sorrowful. He expressly said to some of the best of sinners, “I know you,
have not the love of God in you.” Yea, he called them serpents, and a generation of vipers, and asked them how they could escape the damnation of hell. Human nature is still the same, and the character and conduct and condition of the most amiable sinners is still the same, in the sight of a holy God. The apostle, therefore, asks those who had too favorable an opinion of unbelievers, “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial ?" He then addresses himself to such as had a disposition to overlook the total selfishness and depravity of sinners, and says, “ Wherefore
, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord; and I will receive you and be a father unto you; and
shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” This representation is perfectly agreeable to Christ's declaration to his disciples: “I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Paul says that while he was a Pharisee, he was in his own opinion, in respect to the righteousness of the law, blameless. There are multitudes at this day, who entertain the same views and hopes that Paul did, who are under the reigning power of a totally selfish and depraved heart. Such a heart renders their religious performances altogether vile and odious in the view of a holy God, who will condemn and destroy them, unless they make them a new heart and a new spirit, and turn from selfishness to holiness.
5. If God be perfectly holy, then sinners have no reason to desire preachers to lower down the terms of salvation which he has proposed in the gospel. The terms which he has proposed require holiness of heart. The love he requires is holy love, the repentance he requires is holy repentance, the faith he requires is holy faith, the submission he requires is holy submission, and the obedience he requires is holy obedience. And he allows no substitute for holiness. Paul, who once thought that he could obey and please God without holy love, was thoroughly convinced of his fatal error and guilt, and has stated it in the strongest terms. " Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the
gift of prophecy, and understanding all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. By charity here the apostle means pure holiness, or pure disinterested benevolence, which seeketh not its own. Without this, he says, men can do nothing pleasing to God, or that will secure the salvation of their souls. But they all desire to be excused from exercising such holiness of heart, and to substitute some external services in the room of it. And some preachers are willing to gratify them, and lower down the essential conditions of the gospel. They tell them that if they will only pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, they may safely omit the weightier matters of the law, justice, judgment and the love of God. But though this mode of preaching may please men for a while, yet it directly tends to destroy them for
For God is a holy God; and without holiness no man can please him, nor be admitted into his holy kingdom, nor enjoy the blessedness of it. The deceiver and the deceived must become holy, or eternally perish.
6. If God be perfectly holy, then all sinners may see in what consists their inability to embrace the gospel. They often lament their impotence to comply with the terms of salvation, and consider it as a great calamity. But if they would only look into their own hearts, they would see that their impotence lies within themselves, and arises solely from the selfish and sinful exercises of their own hearts; and that the terms of salvation are
as low and easy as God could make them. He requires nothing but what they must have, in order to be happy in this world and in the world to come. It is morally impossible to save them without that holiness which consists in the free and voluntary exercise of holy love, which is impartial, universal and disinterested benevolence.
7. It appears from what has been said, that there can be no neuters in religion. Every person must either love holiness or hate it; and either love God, or hate him for his holiness; and either desire to go to heaven, or refuse to go. Life and death are set before all; and they are commanded to choose life, and condemned if they choose death. Sinners are in a critical and dangerous situation. They are in the hand of a holy God, who has a power and right to save, or destroy; and none can take them out of his hand. Be not deceived; for God will not be mocked with any thing in the place of a holy heart. To all sinners he says, “ Be ye holy; for I am holy."
SINNERS VAINLY ATTEMPT TO DISSOLVE THEIR
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.-- Psalu ii. 3.
This psalm contains a prediction of Christ's coming to set up his spiritual kingdom in this world; and of the opposition that should be made to his holy and gracious design by all characters and classes of men. “ Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth
а set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." By the Lord's anointed, David here means Christ, which name properly sig. nifies anointed. Accordingly, he again calls him anointed in the forty-fifth psalm. “ Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness and hatest iniquity ; therefore God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." The Father, Son and Holy Ghost were equally united and concerned in setting up the kingdom of Christ upon the earth. And therefore all the opposition of Jews and Gentiles, of rulers and subjects, of high and low, was pointed against the one God in three persons. The reason why sinners of all descriptions were united in opposing this holy spiritual kingdom, was, because it came clothed with divine power and authority, which laid them under infinite bonds to return to God from whom they had revolted, and to become reconciled to those bonds for ever. The idea of being bound they could