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him with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength? Who can understand the command which requires those who have no repentance, to repent, and those who have no faith, to believe the gospel ? Who can understand the precept that requires those who are totally selfish, not to seek their own things, but the things of others; and to do to others, as they would that others should do to them? Who can understand the express command to sinners, “ Make you a new heart and a new spirit;" or, Rise from spiritual death to spiritual life? Who can understand the consistency between the doctrine of regeneration and the command to put off the old man and put on the new; or the consistency between the doctrine of the saints' perseverance, and the numerous cautions and warnings against their falling away? Who can understand the consistency between God's secret and revealed will, or the universal invitations given to-sinners to embrace the gospel, and the doctrine of personal election to eternal life? Who can understand that divine threatening, “ The servant who knoweth his master's will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes," or punished according to the light and knowledge he resists? These are all perplexing points to those who do not understand the distinction between natural and moral inability. And no expositor of the Bible that I ever read, who did not understand, or who denied this distinction, could reconcile these apparent difficulties and inconsistences, every where to be found in the scriptures. It is because Arminians, Antinomians, and Universalists, do not understand, or will not acknowledge, the distinction between natural and moral inability, or between talents and a heart to improve them, that they run into their different and dangerous errors. And no one can refute them, without understanding this distinction. It is, indeed, impossible for any person to understand the truth and consistency of many of the most important doctrines and duties of the gospel, without understanding the wide difference between men's having natural abilities, and a heart to improve them.
3. It appears from what has been said in this discourse, why God is so much displeased with sinners for pleading the want of a good heart, as an excuse for not improving the talents he has given them to his glory. They not only justify themselves in that for which they ought to condemn themselves, but, by justifying themselves, they condemn God as the most unjust and cruel being in the universe. They charge him with reaping where he has not sown, of requiring that which he has not given, and of threatening them with eternal destruction for not doing that which he has not given them power to do. This is a higher charge than can be brought against the greatest tyrant
on earth, or even against the great adversary of God and man. But sinners cannot plead the want of a heart to love and obey God, without virtually bringing this charge of injustice and cruelty against him. Every self justifying and sin extenuating plea that they make, is a God-condemning plea. Just so far as they justify themselves, they condemn him. What can be more criminal and displeasing to God than this ? He has given them great and distinguishing talents, and made them capable of loving and serving him; but they deny that he has made them capable of loving and serving him, because he has not given them another talent, that is, a good heart; and, upon this ground, they justify themselves and condemn him. But how dare they "provoke the Lord to jealousy? are they stronger than he ?” Though sinners do not always see that, just so far as they justify themselves in their slothfulness, impenitency and unbelief, they condemn God, yet he sees it, and highly resents it. The master of the slothful servant clearly saw the nature and implication of his self justifying plea, and would not endure such an impeachment from such an ungrateful and wicked servant, but condemned him to the severest punishment. And can the idle and unfaithful servants of God, who, to justify themselves condemn him, hope to escape with impunity? They are guilty, but God is righteous. They have injured God, but he has not injured them. And he never will forgive them, until they first condemn themselves, as he condemns them, and accept the punishment of their iniquity, and ascribe righteousness to him, in respect to the precept and penalty of his law.
4. We learn from what has been said, on what account sinners grow worse and worse under the strivings of the Spirit. When they are first awakened, they commonly feel condemned for their past stupidity, and negligence, and slothfulness, and resolve to be more earnest and diligent in seeking the Lord. But as the Spirit strives more powerfully, their wicked heart leads them to resist a sense of guilt, which is so painful to them, and to find some excuse for their conduct. And what the Bible says about the moral inability of sinners to love God and embrace the gospel, they zealously lay hold of as a most plausible excuse; and they begin to plead that they cannot do what God commands them to do, because he requires them to have a good heart, which he has not given them. And now the tables are turned. Instead of blaming themselves for their moral impotency, they blame God. Instead of acknowledging that they have been idle servants, they charge God with being a hard master. They cast off blame from themselves, and fix it upon God. And instead of contending with themselves, they contend with him; which is in the highest degree criminal. Their carnal mind rises directly against God, and condemns him as the most unjust and cruel being in the universe; which is immediately șinning against God himself, with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their mind, and with all their strength. And can we conceive it possible that they should rise in criminality and guilt so fast in any other way as in this ? “ If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him ? '
This is not only the most criminal, but the most dangerous way of sinning. It directly tends, not only to stifle conviction, but to produce despondency. For, so far as sinners can make themselves believe that the want of a good heart is the want of a talent, and a valid excuse, they will pity themselves as in a deplorable condition, and blame God for not giving them a good heart, and threatening to cast them off for ever for the want of it.
A great many guilty sinners have thrown themselves into this wretched situation, by justifying themselves, and charging God foolishly. All awakened sinners are in a critical situation; and it is extremely difficult to guard them against the guilt and danger of justifying themselves and condemning God. The best way to guard them against this delusion, is to make them see, if possible, the distinction between natural and moral inability.
5. It appears from what has been said, that no awakened sinners are under genuine convictions, until they are constrained to give up all their excuses for their negligence, impenitency and unbelief
. All their excuses are founded upon their false notion of being unable to do what God has required of them, because he has not given them a heart to do it. This excuse they ought to give up, and must give up, when the commandment comes home to their conscience. - For whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may become guilty before God." The sinner, under genuine conviction, has no self justifying and God condemning plea to make. His mouth is stopped, though his heart rebels. Paul owns that he was subject to such genuine convictions. “I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” And the publican had no excuse to make, when he cried, “ God be merciful to me a sinner.” The law, which requires a holy heart, allows of no excuse for the want of it. It is extremely dangerous for sinners to take awakenings for convictions, and a mere sense of danger for a sense of guilt. They must renounce all self righteousness and self justification, in order to accept the unpromised mercy of God.
6. It appears from what has been said, that all sinners are equally liable to conviction. The same talents which God has
given them, and required them to improve, he can turn against them, and employ as means of conviction and self condemnation. All their intellectual powers, all their acquired knowledge, all their religious advantages, and all their easy and agreeable circumstances in life, he can turn against them; and make them feel that these things have increased their obligations to improve them, and consequently their guilt in misimproving them. Though all secure sinners employ all their talents to invent plausible excuses, yet God can make them employ all their talents to discover and condemn their past stupidity, negligence and slothfulness. Though the careless and thoughtless imagine that they can successfully plead their cause before God, yet when they come in sober earnest to justify themselves, they will find that God can condemn them out of their own mouths. How many great and learned men has God laid prostrate at his footstool! It is only to take away their groundless excuses, and they fall before him.
7. This subject now calls upon all sinners, without exception, to improve their talents which God has given them. Of these talents they cannot divest themselves. They are a part of their rational and immortal existence. And they bind them to love and serve God with a pure heart. And if they are slothful and bury them, or pervert them, they will sink them, like talents of gold, in endless perdition. How many sinners have wished in vain to be deprived of their noble, rational and immortal talents, or to be completely annihilated, rather than to feel their insupportable, condemning power! You cannot turn to the right or left, with security or impunity. There is only one strait and narrow path before you to obey God from the heart, or to be condemned, and destroyed for ever.
And can you hesitate a moment, as to what is your duty and interest? Are you secure? Awake! Are you alarmed ? Condemn yourselves, and justify God, and accept of mercy! Stand no longer idle. You must soon give to God an account of what you
have done with your talents. And if
And if you do not make yourselves a heart to use the talents he has given you to his glory, he will say in respect to every one of you, “ Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
GOD MOST FULLY DISPLAYS HIS GLORY ON EARTH.
AND one cried unto another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the
whole earth is full of his glory. -- ISAIAH, vi. 3.
The death of a great and good ruler is often ominous, and forebodes great public calamities. The death of Uzziah, king of Judah, seems to be represented in this light. He had reigned fifty and two years, and had done much to promote the glory of God and the good of his subjects. But they were unthankful for this rich and extensive blessing; and God determined to punish them for their ingratitude under the smiles of his providence. Just before, or just after the king died, he sent his prophet Isaiah to admonish them of the danger to which they were exposed. And to prepare him to deliver this solemn message to his people, he favored him with a clear and lively vision of heaven and of its holy inhabitants. This vision he relates, before he predicts the tokens of the divine displeasure. The representation of what he saw is extremely solemn. " In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims; each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Some have supposed, and perhaps justly, that the heavenly host meant, by thrice saying holy, holy, holy, to pay distinct homage to each of the divine Persons in the sacred Trinity, who are all concerned in the dispensations of providence. But, however this may be, it is certain from the language of these holy beings, that they delightfully contem