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fame epithet, in order to cut off all occasion of doubt respecting the continuance of either : “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” We are constrained, therefore, to acknowledge, that the threatening in the text includes nothing less than the everlafting misery of the foul, under the wrath and indignation of God.

This, tremendous as it is, will be the fruit of unbelief; “ He that believeth not shall be damned." We muft not suppose that the unbelief here fpoken of characterizes only proteffed infidels, who openly avow their contempt of Christianity; for then it would by no means afford a fufficient line of distinction between those that shall be saved, and those that shall perilh ; seeing that there are many who profess to reverence the Christian revelation, while they live in a constant violation of every duty it enjoins. If the receiving of Christ, as he is offered in the Gospel, be the faith that faves, then the not receiving of Christ in that manner must be the unbelief that condemns. This observation is of great importance : for the generality seem to have no idea that they can be unbelievers, unless they have formally renounced the Chriftian faith : their consciences are quite clear on this subject: the guilt of unbelief never caused them one moment's uneasiness. But can any thing be more plain, than that the fame faith, which is necessary to bring us to falvation, must be also necessary to keep us from condemnation? Indeed it is fo self-evident a trụth, that the very mention of it appears almost absurd ; and yet it will be well if we admit its full force in the point before us : for, however zealous many are to comprehend holy actions and affe&tions in their definitions of saving faith, they are backward enough to acknowledge that a want of those qualities must evidence them to be in a ftate of unbelief: yet, till this truth be felt and acknowledged, there is little hope that the Gospel will ever profit them at all.

There is a qualifying clause in the text which we must not leave unnoticed; and the rather, because it is added in the former, hut omitted in the latter part; “. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be faved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Our Lord had appointed baptism as that rite whereby his disciples should be introduced into the Christian covenant, as the Jews had



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been by circumcifion into the Mofaic covenant: and men's fubmission to this rite ferved as a teft of their fincerity, and a public badge of their profession. If any were inwardly convinced that the religion of Christ was indeed of divine authority, and were not prevented by insurmountable obstacles from conforming to this rite, they must cheerfully enlist themselves under his banners, and honour him in his appointed way; they must “ follow the Lord fully,” if they would be partakers of his benefits. But, on the other hand, if they thould submit to this ordinance, and yet be deftitute of true faith, their baptism should not save them; they should perish for their unbelief: baptized or unbaptized, they should lurely perish.

The parts of the text being thus explained, there remains no difficulty in the meaning of the whole as it stands connected together. No words can be found that can more forcibly express the folemn truth, which our Lord intended to convey: the import of his declaration is so obvious, that we fhall not attempt to elucidate it any farther, but will proceed

II. To vindicate its reasonableness.

That men should be saved for their good works, or condemned for their gross iniquities, would be thought reasonable enough; but that they should be saved by faith, or condemned for unbelief, feems to many to be utterly unreasonable and absurd. But, to a candid inquirer, the equity and reasonableness of both these points may be easily and plainly evinced.

If faith were, as some imagine it to be, a mere affent to certain propofitions, it must be confessed, that, to expect falvation by it were preposterous in the extreme: but it has already been shown that this is not saving faith. The man who truly believes, invariably comes to Christ in this way; he confesses with humility and contrition his past offences-he acknowledges, from his inmost foul, that he deserves the everlasting displeasure of God-he renounces every hope that might arise from his comparative goodness, his penitential forrows, his future, purposes, his actual amendment-he embraces Christ as a suitable and all-fufficient Saviour-and relies fimply and entirely upon the promises which God has made to us in the Son of his love. This, I say, is the believer's experience at the first moment he truly believes in Chrift. To this we might add, that, from that moment, he liçes in a ftate of communion with his Saviour, and exerts himself to the utmost to adorn his profession by a holy life and conversation : but we intentionally omit all the fruits of faith which he afterwards produces, left any one thould be led to confound faith with its fruits, or to ascribe that to faith and works conjointly, which properly belongs to faith alone. Consider then a person coming in this penitent manner to Christ, and truiting in the promises of his God; is it unreasonable that such a person should be - saved? Who in all the world should be saved fo foon as he, who iinplores deliverance from his loft estate ? Who should reap the benefits of Christ's death, but he, who makes that his only plea and dependence? Who may fo justly hope to experience God's fidelity, as he who relts upon his proinites? Who, in short, should enjoy all the bleilings of redemption, but he who seeks redemption in God's appointed way? Surely, if it be reasonable that Christ should " fee of the travail of his soul," and that God 1hould fulfi his own word, then is it most reatonable that he who believes in Christ should be saved.

With respect to the condemnation of unbelievers, we readily acknowledge that that allo would be unrcasonable, on a supposition that unbelief were nothing more than a diisent from certain propofitions, through a want of fufficient evidence to eitablish their divine authority. But unbelief is a fin of the deepest dye; and the perion who is under its dominion is in a state as offenfive to God as can well be conceived. For, in the first place, he rejects that which has been establithed by every kind of evidence which a revelation from heaven can admit of: and, in rejecting it, bie ilews that he is lifted up with pride and pre{umption: for he not only takes upon him to fit in judgment upon God, but denies his own ftate to be fo dangerous and depraved as God has represented it. If he acknowledges himself to be a finner, he still fecis neither his guilt nor his helplessness as he ought, but “ goes about to establish a righteoufieis of his own, instead of submitting to the righteousness of God.” That wonderful method which the infinite wisdom of God has contrived for the restoration of our fallen race, he accounts“ foolishnets;" and substitutes what he esteems a fafer and better incthod of The most stupendous display of divine love and





his own,



mercy that ever was.or can be exhibited, he disregards; and thus, both “ tramples under foot the Son of God,

, and does despite unto the Spirit of Grace:” yea, to use the language of an intpired Apofile, he“ makes the only true God a liar;" for whereas God has said, that “there is no other name whereby we can be saved, but the name of Jesus, or any other foundation than that which he himself lias laid,” the unbeliever directly contradicts him, and unequivocally declares his expectation, that there is and thail be some other


of acceptance with him. Now is it unreatonable that such a person thould be punished ? that iuch a deipiler of God should be left without any part in the believer's portion? Let us only apply the case to oarelves--- If a child thould pour contempt upon the wifett counsels of his parents, and question the truth of their nott folemn protettations, should we not think him worthy of his parents' displeasure? would not we ourselves, in such a cate, manifest our disapprobation of his conduct? Who then are ne, that we should insult GOD thus, and do it with impunity? Who are we, I say, that, when we are at liberty to withhold a bleffing from an ungrateful fellow-crcature, or to infliet a punishment on him adequate to his offence, we should not be in like manner amenable to God? If any fay, “We acknowledge the finfulness of unbelief, but think the punishment of it too fevere;" I answer, . God himself is the best judge of the malignity of lin; and he has denounced death, eternal death, as the wages due to every tin: much more therefore may it be inflicted for unbelief; fince there is no fin to complicated, nor any that fo effeétually precludes even a poffibility of falvation: we may purge away any other fin by a believing application to the blood of Christ; but by unbelief we reject the only remedy provided for us.'

Hoping that the reasonableness of our Saviour's declaration has been fatisfactorily proved, we come

III. To display its excellency.

While the Goipel of Christ is misrepresented and opposed by man, the angels, who are incomparably less interested in its provisions, are ever contemplating it with adıniration and joy. And, if it were better understood amongst us, it could not but meet with a more favourable reception; for it has innumerable excellencies, which



render it worthy of universal acceptation. Let us examine a few of its leading features. In the first place, it clearly defines the way of salvation. Take any


of fal. yation that ever was devised, by repentance for instance, or by fincere obedience; what inexplicable difficulties occur to our view! for, who can tell what degree of repentance will fatisfy God for our breaches of his law, and be a sufficient price for heaven? Who can mark out the line which shall be drawn between those that shall be saved and those that shall perish? Who can tell what sincere obedience means? It cannot mean the doing what we will, for that would put a murderer on the same footing with an Apostle : and if it mean the doing what we can, where is the man that can be saved by it? Where is the man who has not violated it in ten thousand instances, or who does not violate it every day of his life? Who can truly say that for any one day he has mortified every

sinful habit as much as he could, exercised every holy affection as much as he could, and practifed every species of duty as much as he could? And if we cannot but acknowledge that we might have done more, who shall say what degree of insincerity may be indulged without violating the law of fincere obedience ? On all such plans as these we are utterly at a loss; we are at sea without a compass. But take the doctrine laid down in the text, and the way of falvation is fo plain, that “he who runs may read it.” Let any man ask himself this question, Do I believe in Chrift? Let himn pursue the enquiry fomewhat farther, Do I feel myself a guilty, helpless, condemned finner? Do I renounce all dependence on my own wisdom, strength, and righteousness? Do I see that there is in Christ a fulness suited to my necessities? And do I daily, with humility and earneftness, beg of God that “ Christ may be made unto me wisdom, and righteousness, and fanctification, and redemption?" These questions are easy enough to be resolved; and by the answer which conscience gives to them we may know assuredly whether we be in the way to heaven or to hell. And who does not see how great an excellency this is in the Gospel-falvation? Who does not see how strongly this circumstance recommends the doctrine in our text?

Another excellency in the Gospel is, that it is equally suited to all persons in all conditions. Had

any felf-righteous


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