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passionate judge may greatly desire the life of a criminal, simply considered ; and yet condemn the criminal to death, and rejoice in the execution of the sentence. The death of the Lord Jesus Christ, in itself, was to the Father, a very great evil, and exceedingly disagreeable. Yet, all things considered, the Father was pleased to bruise him, and put him to grief. Christ desired, and earnestly prayed to be delivered from his sufferings; yet he was willing and determined to suffer the accursed death of the cross. Though he did not, on the whole, de. sire to be delivered from crucifixion ; yet, in itself, he greatly desired it. Though God may not, all things being considered, desire the sal. vation of all mankind ; yet, simply considered, he may greatly desire that every one of the hu. man race should be saved.
Having explained the doctrine, it is now, in the second place, to be proved that God desires, in itself considered, the salvation of every human being
1. This is evident from the divine character. « God is love. He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." As God is a being of perfect and infinite benevolence, from his own nature he hates whatever is evil, and desires the greatest good that can exist. He will, therefore, in itself considered, desire the greatest good of every cne of his creatures. If the righteous man regard
the life of his beast, how much more does God regard the eternal happiness of every immortat soul. If there were one soul, whose salvation God did not desire, in itself, there would be reason to believe that he is destitute of goodness. If God desired the endless perdition of one soul, or an hour's pain of any rational creature, or the least distress of the least insect, in itself; he would be malevolent. For malevolence consists in desiring what is evil, in itself, without regarding the good which may arise from its existence. As God is perfectly benevolent, he can never delight in sin, nor in misery; nor can he delight in their existence, simply considered. He hates every degree of sin and of misery. And as much as he hates what is evil, so much does he desire in itself, the eternal salvation of every one of the human
2. That God desires the salvation of every human being, in itself, is evident from what he has said. When the children of Israel said to Moses that they would hear and do all the Lord should command, God said, “Oh, that there
, were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them and their children for ever.” God here expresses an ardent desire for the everlasting happiness of all the generations of the children of Israel. Notwithstanding the numerous transgressions and provocations of his ancient people, God expressed, by his prophets, the most vehement
desire for their holiness and happiness. He said by Hosea, “ My people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee Israel ? How shall I make thee as Admah ? How shall I set thee as Zeboim ? Mine heart is turned within me ; my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger ; I will not return to destroy Ephraim ; for I am God and not man.” Admah and Zeboim were cities, which were consumed with Sodom and Gomorrah by fire and brimstone from heaven. Though God saw that his own people deserved a destruction as terrible as those cities suffer. ed; yet such was his tender mercy and compassion, that he knew not how to execute the fierceness of his anger, while it could possibly be suspended. But he finally caused his wrath to fall upon that people to the uttermost.
. God says by Ezekiel-" Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked die ; and not that he should return from his ways and live ?” And again, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live : turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways; for why will ye die, Ó' house of Israel? Í have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God.” By death, here is meant, the endless perdition of the soul in hell. Though it is evident, from what God said by Ezekiel, that
some die this death ; it is equally evident that in their death 'God hath no pleasure. In Christ's lamentation over Jerusalem, he declared his intense desire for the salvation of those persons, who were doomed to remediless destruction, “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets and stonest them who are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !” By Peter it is written, “ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suficring towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” If God were
. not willing, all things considered, that any person should perish, he would condemn no one to final perdition. But though many persons will finally and eternally be punished ; yet it is certain from what God has said, that he greatly desires, in itself, the salvation of all mankind.
3. That God desires the salvation of every man, in itself considered, is evident from the divine conduct towards sinncrs.
By the atonement through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, God has made provision sufficient for the salvation of all mankind. He has commanded the word of this salvation to be preached unto every creature. Wherever the gospel is preached, salvation is offered unto every person without exception or distinction. This salvation is offered on the best conditions. With great patience and forbearance, God waits upon sinners that they may accept this gracious offer. He uses the best means to induce sinners to repent. He most cheerfully forgives every person, who repents of his sins and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. And he threatens to punish every one, who refuses to accept the salvation of the gospel, with peculiar and tremendous severity.
From the conduct of God towards sinners, as well as from what he has said, and from the divine character, it appears, that God desires the salvation of every one of mankind. ·
1. From what lias been said in the present discourse, we may be assured that God never created any one of the human race merely for destruction. If God created any person inere. ly for destruction, the destruction of that person must have been the chief end, which God designed to accomplish by bringing him into existence. The chief end which God designs to accomplish, by any of his works, must, in. itself, be pleasing to him. If then God created any human soul merely for damnation, the eternal sin and misery of that soul_must, in themselves, be pleasing to God. But it has been proved, in the present discourse, that God greatly desires, in itself, the salvation of every human being. It is certain then that he never created any person merely for destruction. If God were to bring creatures into existence solely for the purpose of causing them to be