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gine and fear this ; but then it must be when that mind loses sight altogether of the revelation of mercy in the gospel, by Christ Jesus. If that be examined, and if its authority be regarded, instead of its being possible for any sinner to discover in it a single trace of unwillingness in God to save him, the very reverse appears in almost every page; and, indeed, the whole scheme of the gospel is the most clear, unequivocal, and emphatic declaration of God's willingness to pardon sin, and receive repenting rebels again into his favour. Let me set before you here a few passages as specimens of the general tenor of the divine tesimony upon this point—the willingness of God to forgive. “ 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
ways; for why will ye die ?"'* Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."'t “Ready to forgive.”“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”'S “ The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."|| “ Your heart shall live that seek God.”I “Seek ye me, and ye shall live."** - Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”tt Now, against these general and comprehensive expressions of God's mercy and grace, no exception ought to be taken, unless there can be shown to be equally explicit ground for it, and unless an authority equally valid and clear can be pleaded. But we are quite sure no sinner, of any
Ezek. xxxii. 11. John vi. 37. #Ps. lxxxvi. 5. $ lsa. xliii. 25. i Luke xix. 10. q Ps. lxix. 32.
tt Jer. xxix. 13.
** Amos v. 4.
description or class, can produce any exception to these testimonies from the book of God; but, on the contrary, we could show that they have been applied to individual cases of all kinds of sinners, who have found in this a sufficient warrant for repentance, and sufficient comfort in repentance. They have believed, and found forgiveness and acceptance through the appointed medium of a Saviour's blood.
6. It is still further incumbent upon me to observe, that all the grace expressed in and by the gospel presents the same aspect towards you as towards all other sinners. We find no exceptions in the divine word, which could be possibly construed into any exclusion of particular persons. The apostles of Christ do not present the general and comprehensive offer of mercy in the gospel, and then qualify or restrict it by mentioning that any particular class, or even any individuals, are excepted; but they represent it as looking towards all, and presenting a divine pledge or engagement to every one who truly repents and unfeignedly believes the holy gospel. It is perfectly vain and futile, then, for any man to make exceptions which are not in the word; or to plead that such can exist, when he has no intimation of them, and can by no fair means infer any from Scripture language, so as to include himself. The only exceptions that can exist are such as involve neglect or rejection of the very matters commanded, without a compliance with which there can, of course, be no salvation ; but then these things are repentance and faith, and nothing in the sinner's natural condition. Hence, it is clear, that the gospel has the same external aspect towards you as towards all, without any exception or qualifica
tion. It views all as lost and corrupt, and it impartially requires of all repentance of sin, and belief in the grace of Christ for pardon and acceptance. It represents the blood of Christ as equally efficient towards one as towards another. • The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."'* It is represented under the figure of
a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness." It is nowhere said that sinners only of a certain class shall enjoy the benefit of his atoning blood, or that sinners of another class will be excluded; but, on the contrary, it is said, “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”I His intercession is represented as continued in heaven, and as exercised on behalf of all that come unto God by him: “Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”'S
7. I may complete this part of the subject by observing that you are not cut off from any means of grace which are essential to your salvation, or which others enjoy. You may observe, that the principal means which others have enjoyed and used, and through which they have attained to conversion, are, the word of God read and preached, with access by prayer to the throne of God in the name of the divine Mediator. If you could inquire minutely of these what means they found
lessed to their salvation, you would find that the same are enjoyed by yourself. You can read the Bible as well as any other book; you can hear the gospel explained as well as any other subject : you can as readily devote an hour to prayer and medi
* 1 John i.7. flech. xiii. 1. $ 1 John ii, 2. $ Heb. vii, 25.
tation as to any other engagement.
It is of no avail for any one to say, “ But there is something beyond all these which cannot be commanded, and which I have not in my own power.” Of course, for what is not in his power he is not to be held accountable, any further than as it may be necessary for him to depend upon the bestowment of it, to implore it fervently, and to rely upon the faithful promises which are made relative to its bestowment. But as to those matters for which he is held responsible, and which are fully within his reach, he may be sure that he has not yet faithfully employed these. Till he has done so, and done it in dependence upon the divine blessing, he cannot, even to his own conscience, release himself from his responsibility. Only let the unconverted sinner search the Scripture for salvation, and pray in earnest, with perseverance, and in dependence upon the promised and all-sufficient grace of God; and if he is disappointed of the blessing, he will be the first sinner so left to perish without grace and without hope. "Try, sinner! Let me urge you to put God to the test of his fdelity to his own promise, and you shall soon and Him both a prayer-hearing and answering God. You can have no right to complain, or demur, till you have fully complied with the commands of Scripture. Be entreated, then, not to deceive yourself with the fatal mistake, that you have any vindication for your unbelief and impenitency in the fact that grace is God's gift, since your destitution of that is clearly traceable to your own indisposition to seek it. • Ye have not, because ye ask not;"? or, you
have asked amiss
* James iv. 20
coldly, without sincerity, without faith, and without perseverance. Would
but resolve never to cease asking till you had received, or never to leave the cross of Christ till you either perished or were saved, you would soon enjoy “the blessing, even life for evermore.
REASONS WHY YOU HAVE NEVER YET BEEN CON
My intention in this chapter is, to examine the principal reasons which may be assigned for your continuance in a state of unconversion, with the view of impressing your mind more deeply and thoroughly with the conviction of the sinfulness of that state. It is, and it ever will be, quite impossible for any unconverted sinner to shift from himself the responsibility of being still, by his own free choice, an unconverted man, as long as Christ can say to all such, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”+ He must know and feel that he has never yet been willing to be
a new creature; has never set himself heartily to pray for it; has never used the means of coming to a full knowledge of the guilt of sin; and has never anxiously and steadily pursued the inquiry into God's method of salvation. He has not, therefore, acquitted himself of his responsibility, and he can in no way escape from the guilt of remaining to the present hour in an unconverted state. While it is clear he has not * Ps. cxxxiii. 3.
† John v. 40.