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the words before us that we would now draw your at tention: and we will take occasion from them to shew I. What a deep-rooted enmity subsists between God and sinners
View it, where it first commenced
1. On man's part
[Ungodly men neither seck to please God, nor are at all grieved at having displeased him-They like not to speak, hear, or even think of him"-They cannot endure (a melancholy proof of their aversion to him!) to be with him alone -They hate every thing in proportion as it exhibits God to them, or would lead them to God-They even wish there were no God-Yea, when God actually put himself into their power, they sold him at the price of a slave, and crucified and slew him
What abundant proof is here, that "the carnal mind is enmity with God!" And what an evidence-of-that abhorrence in which, according to the scriptures, our adorable Sa viour was to be held!]
2. On God's part
[Towards penitent sinners (as we shall have occasion to shew) God is reconciled: but, while they continue obstinate in their sins, he "loathes them," nor can even look upon them without the utmost abhorrence. He will not vouchsafe them the smallest taste of those blessings which he imparts to others in the richest abundance-He gives them up into the hands of their greatest enemies, to Satan and their own hearts lusts" He prepares his instruments of vengeance against the time when they shall have filled up the measure of their iniquities-He even comforts himself with the pro
b Job xxxv. 10.
c Jer. viii. 6.
d Ps. x. 4.
e As men can meet their bitterest enemy in a crowd, but would be uncasy to be left alone with him; so the ungodly can meet God in his house, but cannot bear to commune with him in their secret chamber.
f Hence faithful ministers, and godly people, and searching discourses, yea, and the Bible itself, are neglected and despised.
g Ps. xiv. 1. This is a wish. The words, "there is," are not in the original.
b See note a.
i Rom. viii. 7. k Isai. xlix. 7. Hab. i. 13. Compare Ps. cxix. 165. with Isai. lvii. 21.and 1 Pet. i. 8. with Prov. xiv. 10.
n 2 Tim. ii. 26. Ps. lxxxi. 12. Rom. i. 24, 26, 28.
Ps. vii. 12, 13. Deut. xxxii. 19, 20, 35, 41, 42. He even kindles with his own breath the fire that is to consume them, Isai. xxx. ult.
spect of pouring out his wrath upon them to the utter
What awful evidences are these of the truth in question! what proofs that he even lothes and abhors all the workers of iniquity-]
But, notwithstanding this mutual enmity, the gospel shews us
II. How it may be turned into mutual love
There is, in truth, but one way in which reconciliation can be effected between God and sinners. Yet we may not unprofitably divide it into two heads
1. Repentance towards God
[This can never purchase our peace with God; yet is it absolutely necessary to prepare our minds for the reception of his favour. And wherever it manifests itself in deed and in truth, God will instantly put away his anger, and embrace the sinner in the arms of his mercy"
2. Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ
[It is this which unites us unto Christ, and gives us an interest in all that he has done and suffered on our behalf. If his hand were stretched forth, to plunge his sword into our very bosom, the very first act of faith should make it fall from his hands, and induce him to return it instantly to its scabbards-- -Nor would he from that moment account any expression of his love too great for us---]
Nor is God only reconciled to us by these means, but we also are reconciled to him.
[It is in this view that the scriptures most generally represent our return to God." And it is certain that from the very instant we repent and believe in Christ, our enmity against God is slain, and we delight in him as much as ever we once abhorred him. We love to hear and think and speak of him, and to maintain the closest fellowship with him: we love all who love him, and that too in proportion as they resemble him: and every thing that can discover him to us, or draw us nearer unto him, is on that very account unspeakably precious to our souls-As for the Saviour, who was sold for the price of the meanest slave, and who was once altogether despised by us, his name is music in our ears; and the whole world is as dung in comparison of him—]
q Ps. v. 5. and x. 3.
p Isai. i. 24. Ezek. xxi. 15. and v. 13. Jer. iii. 13. Isaiah lv. 7. Ps. li. 17. Luke xv. 20. Jer. xxxi. 20. John iii. 16. and vi. 37. Acts iii. 39. Isaiah i. 18. Acts xvi. 30. Jer. xxxii. 41. Zeph. iii. 17. u 2 Cor. v. 18, 20. Col. i. 21. * Phil. iii. 8.
We SUBJOIN a word
1. Of caution
[We may suppose that, because our enmity against God is the ground and reason of his aversion to us, our love to him is the ground and reason of his love to us. No: if we love him, it is because he first loved us. Were it not that he of his own mere mercy vouchsafed to send us his grace, we never should have our eqmity to him in the smallest degree abated. We must therefore take nothing but shame to ourselves; and give nothing but glory unto him. We must confess that our hatred of him was altogether without a cause; whereas his aversion to us was just and merited. On the other hand, his love to us is free and sovereign; whereas ours is the tardy, forced, and disproportioned fruit of his victorious grace.]
2. Of encouragement
["The wicked man is loathsome:"a but how loathsome soever he be, he need not fear but that God is ready to receive him in the arms of mercy--Let this be contemplated by all, till a lively hope is begotten in their hearts, and they are constrained to say, I will no more "abhor the Holy One, and the Just," but will turn to him with my whole heart.]
z John xv. 25.
y 1 John iv. 19. a Prov. xiii. 5. b If instead of continuing the contest we apply to God through Christ, our peace with him shall soon be made. Isaiah xxvii. 4, 5. c Acts iii. 14.
CCCLI. THE DANGER OF DISREGARDING THE
Exod. ix. 20, 21. He that feared the word of the Lord amongst the servants of Pharaoh, made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: and he that regarded not the word of the Lord, left his servants and his cattle in the field.
THE word of God in every age has met with a very different reception from different people; from the antediluvian scoffers to the present moment, the generality have deemed it unworthy of their attention, while a few have regarded it with reverence and godly fear-Never had any declaration a better title to belief than that to which the text alludes: Moses had already, in the space of a few days, foretold many judgments, which were in
stantly inflicted or removed according to his predictions; and since they had not been effectual to subdue the stubborn heart of Pharaoh, he announced the determination of God to send another judgment on the land of Egypt, even a storm of hail and lightning which should destroy every man and beast that should e exposed to its furyThere were many however who despised the threatening, and disdained to send their servants and cattle to a place of shelter; but others, who had profited by past experience, used with eagerness the precaution suggested
From this circumstance we are led to observe that I. It will appear from men's conduct what regard they pay to the word of God
In all temporal coneerns men are affected by any report in proportion to its credibility and importance
[If they hear of any great good that is placed within their reach, they feel a desire after it springing up in their minds: if there be some considerable probability of their attaining it, their hopes are excited, and their endeavours multiplied in order to secure it-If the possession of it appear near and certain; they already congratulate themselves on the expected acquisition, though not without a mixture of anxious suspense-On the other hand, do they hear of any great evil that may come upon them? they begin to be disquieted: does it approach nearer and nearer? they think how they may avoid it, and use every precaution that prudence can suggest: does it appear imminent and almost unavoidable? their fears and anxieties are proportionably increased-Nor are these effects peculiar to any times, places, or persons: they will be found on examination to be invariable and universal-]
Thus it must also of necessity be with respect to spiritual concerns in proportion as they are believed and felt
[Suppose a person to be thoroughly persuaded that, "except he repent he must perish;" that, "except he be born again of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven;" and that, "he that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life;" what effect must such momentous truths produce upon his mind? Must he not of necessity begin to enquire into the meaning of these expressions, and feel a solicitude to determine these questions, Am I a real penitent? Am I born again? Have I the Son of God? If other things appear to him of superior importance,
he will attend to other things in preference: or if he doubt the truth of these things, and think they may be taken in a lower sense, he will of course be less concerned to attain the experience of them-But let him have that faith which gives a present subsistence to things future, and a demonstrable reality to things invisible, and it will be impossible for him to trifle with such solemn declarations-It is true, he may sin against the convictions of conscience; but if he continue so to do, it is evident that his convictions are not proportioned in any degree to the importance of eternal things, and that he cherishes a secret hope of escaping by some means or other the judgments denounced against him. Let him but feel the worth of his soul in a degree proportioned to its value, as much as men estimate the worth of their cattle or their natural life according to their value, and he could no more resist habitually the convictions of his mind, than he could sit composed, while his house and family were ready to be destroyed by fire: he would surely resemble those Egyptians who sought shelter for their servants and cattle; he would "flee from the wrath to come, and lay hold on eternal life”—]
Such a practical attention will be given to the word of God by all who truly believe it, because they know that II. According as they regard it now, will be their state
in the world to come
The distinction put between the believing and unbelieving Egyptians related merely to this present life: but the scriptures authorize us to declare that a similar distinction will be made between believers and unbelievers in the day of judgment
1. They who have sought the appointed refuge shall be saved
[Christ is that hiding-place to which all are enjoined to flee: every other covert will be found "a refuge of lies, which the hail shall sweep away:" but Christ is a sure refuge, "to which whosoever runneth shall be safe"-Whatever we may have been, and whatever we may have done, in past times, we have nothing to apprehend from the wrath of God, provided we be "found in Christ"-" Believing in him, we are justified from all things," and shall unite for ever with the murderous Manasseh, the adulterous David, the filthy Magdalen, and the persecuting Saul, in singing "salvation to God and the Lamb" -We must not however be understood to say, that the attention to the faith of the gospel will save us, while we neglect
a Heb. xi. 1. in the Greek.
Isaiah xxviii. 17.