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(1.) What God can do to his enemies. Or rather, what can he not do? How miserable can he who is almighty make his enemies ? Consider, you that are enemies to God, whether or no you shall be able to make your part good with him. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy ? Are we stronger than he ? 1 Cor. X.22. Have you such a conceit of your own strength, as that you think to try it out with God? Do you intend to run the risk of an encounter with him? Do you imagine that your hands can be strong, or your heart can endure ? Do you think you shall be well able to defend yourself, or to escape out of his hand ? Do you think that you shall be able to uphold your spirits, when God acts as an enemy towards you ? If so, then gird up your loins, and see what the event will be. Therefore thus will I do unto thee-and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God.—Amos iv. 12. Is it not in vain to set the briers and thorns in battle array against devouring flames; which though they seem to be armed with natural weapons, yet the fire will pass through them, and burn them together? See Isa. xxvii. 4.
And if you endeavour to support yourself under God's wrath, cannot God lay you under such misery, as to cause your spirit quite to fail ; so that you shall find no strength to resist him, or to uphold yourself? Why should a worm think of supporting himself against an omnipotent adversary ? Consider, God has made your soul: and he can fill it with misery; he made your body, and can bring what torments he will upon it. God who made you, has given you a capacity to bear torment; and he has that capacity in his hands. How dreadful must it be to fall into the hands of such an enemy! Surely, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Heb. x. 31.
(2.) If God be your enemy, you may rationally conclude that he will act as such in his dealings with you. We have already observed that you have enmity without any love or true respect. So if you continue to be so, God will appear to be your mere enemy; and will be so for ever, without being reconciled. But if it be so, he will doubtless act as such. If he eternally hates you, he will act in his dealings with you, as one that hates you without any love or pity. The proper tendency and aim of hatred, is the misery of the object hated; so that you may expect God will make you miserable, and that you will not be spared.--Now, God does not act as your mere enemy: if he corrects you, it is in measure. He now exercises abundance of mercy to you. He threatens you now: but it is in a way of warning, and so in a merciful way. He now calls, invites, and strives with you, and waits to be gracious to you. But hereafter there will be an end to all these things : in another world God will cease to show you mercy.
(3.) If you will continue God's enemy, you may rationally conclude that God will deal with you so as to make it appear how dreadful it is to have God for an enemy. It is very dreadful to have a mighty prince for an enemy. The wrath of a king is as the roaring of a lion, Prov. xix. 12. But if the wrath of a man, a fellow-worm, be so terrible, what is the wrath of God! And God will doubtless show it to be immensely more dreadful. If you will be an enemy, God will act so as to glorify those attributes which he exercises as an enemy ; which are, bis majesty, his power, and justice. His great majesty, his awful justice, and mighty power, shall be showed upon you. What if God, willing to show wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Rom. ix. 22.
(4.) Consider, What God has said he will do to his enemies. He has declared that they shall not escape ; but that he will surely punish them. Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies, thy right hand shall find out all those that hate thee. Psalm xxi. 8. And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them : he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Deut. vii.10. The Lord shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses. Psalm lxviii. 21. Yea, God hath sworn that he will be avenged on them; and
; that in a most awful and dreadful manner.
For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and I will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, (and my sword shall devour flesh,) and that with the blood of the slain--from the
beginning of revenges on the enemy. Deut. xxxii. 40, 41,42. The terribleness of the threatened destruction is here variously set forth. God "whets his glittering sword," as one that prepares himself to do some great execution.
"His hands take hold on judgment,"' to signify that he will surely reward them as they deserve. “ He will render vengeance to his enemies, and reward them that hate him." 7. e. He will render their full reward. “I will make mine arrows drunk with blood.” This signifies the greatness of the destruction. It shall not be a little of their blood that shall satisfy ; but his arrows shall be glutted with their blood. " And his sword shall devour flesh." That is, it shall make dreadful waste of it. This is the terrible manner in which God will one day rise up and execute vengeance on his enemies !
Again, the completeness of their destruction is represented in the following words : The wicked shall perish, the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs, they shall consume : into smoke shall they consume away. Psalm xxxvii. 20. The fat of lambs, when it is burnt in the fire, burns all up; there is not so much as a cinder left; it all consumes into smoke. This represents
the perfect destruction of God's enemies in his wrath. So God hath promised Christ; that he would make his enemies his footstool, Psalm cx. 1. i. e. 'He would pour the greatest contempt upon them, and as it were tread them under foot. Consider, that all these things will be executed on you, if you continue God's enemies.
may justly withhold Mercy.
If natural men are God's enemies, hence we may learn, how justly God may refuse to show you mercy. For is God obliged to show mercy to his enemies ? Is God bound to set his love on them that have no love to him; but hate him with perfect hatred? Is he bound to come and dwell with them that have an aversion to him, and choose to keep at a distance from him, and fly from him as one that is hateful to them? Even should you desire the salvation of your soul, is God bound to comply with your desires, when you always resist and oppose his will? Is God bound to put honour upon you, and to advance you to such dignity as to be a child of the King of kings, and the heir of glory, while at the same time you set him too low to have even the lowest place in your heart?
This doctrine affords a strong argument for the absolute sove. reignty of God, with respect to the salvation of sinners. If God is pleased to show mercy to his haters, it is certainly fit that he should do it in a sovereign way, without acting as any way obliged. God will show mercy to his mortal enemies ; but then he will not be bound, he will have his liberty to choose the objects of his mercy; to show mercy to what enemy be pleases, and to punish and destroy which of his haters he pleases. And certainly this is a fit and reasonable thing. It is fit that God should distribute saving blessings in this way, and in no other, viz. in a sovereign and arbitrary way. And ihat ever any body thought of or devised any other way for God to show mercy, than to have mercy on whom he would have mercy, must arise from ignorance of their own hearts, whereby they were insensible what enemies they naturally are to God. But consider here the following things :
1. How causelessly you are enemies to God. You have no manner of reason for it, either from what God is, or from what he has done. You have no reason for this from what he is. For he is an infinitely lovely and glorious Being; the fountain of all excellency, all that is amiable and lovely in the universe, is originally and eminently in him. Nothing can possibly be con
ceived of that could be lovely in God, that is not in him, and that in the greatest possible degree.
no reason for this from what God has done. For he has been a good and bountiful God to you. He has exercised abundance of kindness to you; has carried you from the womb, preserved your life, taken care of you, and provided for you, all your life long. He has exercised great patience and long suffering towards you. If it had not been for the kindness of God to you, what would have become of you? What would have become of your body? And what, before this time, would have become of your soul? And you are now, every day, and hour, maintained by the goodness and bounty of God. Every new breath you draw, is a new gist of his to you. How causelessly then are you such dreadful enemies to God! And how justly might he for it eternally deprive you of all mercy, seeing you do thus requite God for his mercy and kindness to you!
2. Consider, how you would resent it, if others were such enemies to you, as you are to God. If they had their hearts so full of enmity to you; if they treated you with such contempt, and opposed you, as you do God; how would you resent it? Do you not find that you are apt greatly to resent it, when any oppose you, and show an ill spirit towards you? And though you excuse your own enmity against God from your corrupt nature that you brought into the world with you, which you could not help; yet you do not excuse others for being enemies to you from their corrupt nature that they brought into the world, which they could not help; but are ready bitterly to resent it notwithstanding.
Consider therefore, if you, a poor unworthy, unlovely creature, do so resent it, when you are hated, how may God justly resent it when you are enemies to him, an infinitely glorious Being; and a Being from whom you have received so much kindness!
3. How unreasonable is it for you to imagine that you can oblige God to have respect to you by any thing that you can do, continuing still to be his enemy. If you think you have prayed and read, and done something considerable for God; yet who cares for the seeming kindness of an enemy? What value would you yourself set upon a man making a show of friendship, when you knew at the same time, that he was inwardly your mor. tal enemy? Would you look upon yourself obliged for such respect and kindness?' Would you not rather abhor it? Would you count such respect to be valued, as Joab's towards Amasa, who took him by the beard, and kissed him, and said, Art thou in health, my brother?-and smote him at the same time under the fifth rib, and killed him! What if you do pray to God? Is he obliged to hear the prayers of an enemy? What if you have taken a great deal of pains, is God obliged to give heaven for the prayers of an enemy: He may justly abhor your prayers, and all that you do in religion, as the flattery of a mortal enemy.
Hence we may learn,
1. How wonderful is the love that is manifested in giving Christ to die for us. For this is love to enemies.
6 While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." How wonderful was the love of God the Father, in giving such a gift to those who not only could not be profitable to him, but were his enemies, and to so great a degree! They had great enmity against him; yet so did he love them, that he gave his own Son to lay down his life, in order to save their lives. Though they had enmity that sought to pull God down from his throne; yet he so loved them, that he sent down Christ from heaven, from his throne there, to be in form of a servant; and
' instead of a throne of glory, gave him to be nailed to the cross, and to be laid in the grave, that so we might be brought to a throne of glory.
How wonderful was the love of Christ, in thus exercising dying love towards his enemies! He loved those that hated him, with hatred that sought to take away his life, so as voluntarily to lay down his life, that they might have life through him. Herein is love; not that we loved him, but that he loved us, and laid down his life for us.
1. If we are all naturally God's enemies, hence we may learn what a spirit it becomes us as Christians to possess towards our enemies. Though we are enemies to God, yet we hope that God has loved us, that Christ has died for us, that God has forgiven or will forgive us; and will do us good, and bestow infinite mercies and blessings upon us, so as to make us happy for ever. All this mercy, we hope has been, or will be exercised towards us.
Certainly then, it will not become us to be bitter in our spirits against those that are enemies to us, and have injured and ill treated us; and though they have yet an ill spirit towards us. Seeing we depend so much on God's forgiving us, though enemies, we should exercise a spirit of forgiveness towards our enemies. And therefore our Saviour inserted it in that prayer, which he dictated as a general directory to all; “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” to enforce the duty upon us, and to show us how reasonable it is. And we ought to love them even while enemies; for so we hope God hath done to us. We should be the children of our Father, who is kind to the unthankful and nyil. Luke vi. 35.