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sequence, blend love, repentance and faith all together; but neither reason, nor scripture allows them to do it; and plain fact condemns it. The penitent malefactor did exercise love and repentance towards God, before he exercised faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. It appears from the views and feelings of the penitent malefactor, that the doctrine of instantaneous regeneration is founded in fact. All who are not Calvinistic in their sentiments, deny this doctrine. They suppose that regeneration is a progressive work of the Spirit, and never effected instantaneously, nor in any short space of time. And they endeavor to explain all that the scripture says upon this subject, agreeably to their opinion. But this instance of the penitent malefactor has given them much trouble, and ingenious and learned labor, to explain away. Bishop Hoadly has, in his discourse concerning the two malefactors, displayed the most ingenuity and plausibility on bis side of the question. He supposes that the penitent malefactor had been generally a regular man, except in one instance of theft; that he had been familiarly acquainted with Christ; that he had often heard him preach, and seen him work miracles; and that he was almost a christian before he came to the cross. And he considered his situation there as very singular and extraordinary. He had just come from a human tribunal, where he had been tried and condemned. He was placed by the side of Christ on the cross, while actually suffering for the sins of the world, and involved in that supernatural and awful darkness which overspread the land. But all these plausible things stand completely refuted by the plain facts related concerning the penitent malefactor. He proved himself to have been a stupid, hardened and malignant sinner before he was tried and condemned, and also after he was nailed to the cross, by actually joining with his wicked associate in reviling Jesus whom he knew to be innocent, and who, he knew, called himself the Son of God. But he was in a few hours, or in a few moments after this, instantaneously and savingly changed, and turned from sin to holiness, from the power of Satan unto God, and became a new creature, with new views and new feelings towards God and his stupid associate. And what God did in renewing his heart, he can do in renewing any other sinner's heart. He always acts as instantaneously in taking away the old, and in giving a new heart. For regeneration is a new creation, which is always effected instantaneously.

4. It appears from the conduct of God towards the two malefactors, that he acts as a sovereign in renewing the hearts of men. The doctrine of divine sovereignty, in making one, and not another, the subject of his special grace, is founded in fact. This doctrine, indeed, is very plainly taught in scripture. God declares that “he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy; and whom he will he hardeneth.” He takes one and leaves another, without any apparent reason why one of the persons should be taken rather than the other, or why one of them should be left rather than the other. The two malefactors were as much alike as almost any two persons ever were; and we can discover no reason in their characters, conduct, or situation, why one should be made a subject of special grace, and the other left to pine away in his iniquity. They were both sinners, and great sinners, and obstinate sinners. They were both stout hearted before a human tribunal. They were both stout hearted while hanging on the cross, and upon the very brink of hell. They both deserved to perish in their sins for ever. They were both by the side of the divine Redeemer. It was as easy for him to give repentance and salvation to one as to the other, and to both as to one. But he saw fit to awaken, convince and convert one, and raise him to heaven, while he let the other sink by his side into the bottomless pit. He knew the amazing distinction he made between these two equally ill deserving sinners, and the glorious and awful consequences which would eternally flow from it. And in the view of all these consequences, he saw just and weighty reasons for saving one, and destroying the other. We may well conclude, therefore, that there are good reasons in the divine mind, for every act of divine sovereignty in saving those whom he does save, and destroying those whom he does destroy. And these reasons will one day appear, and completely justify the divine conduct in respect to those who are saved and taken to heaven, and those who are driven away in their sins to the regions of everlasting darkness and despair.

5. The conduct of the impenitent malefactor shows that no external means or motives are sufficient to awaken, convince, or convert any stupid sinners. He enjoyed great religious advantages. He was born in Zion; he was circumcised the eighth day; he had opportunity, at seven years old, to attend the.passover; he had opportunity to hear the divine law read every Sabbath; and it is very likely that he had heard Christ preach, and seen him work miracles; for he knew that he called himself the Son of God. But none of these means of religion had any good effect upon his mind. His own iniquities corrected him, brought him before a human tribunal, where he was tried, and condemned to die a most painful and reproachful death. After this dreadful sentence was passed upon him, he was led back to the place of confinement, where he had time to meditate and reflect upon death, the dread formalities of a public execution, and the still more awful realities of the eternal world. And if he had any friends, especially pious friends, they undoubtedly came and conversed with him about the state of his mind, and a preparation for eternity. But all these means and motives left him still stupid and hardened. Soon the solemn day arrived when he was led to Calvary, the place of execution, and fastened to the cross, by the side of the Son of God and Saviour of the world, and there hung from the sixth to the ninth hour in agonies, and heard the melting reproof of his penitent companion in guilt and suffering, and the assurance of the divine Redeemer that he should that day be with him in paradise. But no instructions, no warnings, no reproofs, and no views of eternity, could awaken, or convince, or convert him. He obstinately persisted in stupidity, impenitence and unbelief, till he closed his eyes upon this world, and lifted them up in eternal torments. Here we see it demonstrated that no moral suasion, no human means or exertions, can subdue and soften any hard, impenitent heart. Every impenitent sinner had rather die eternally, than submit unconditionally to God, and embrace the humiliating terms of the gospel.

6. It appears from the fate of the impenitent malefactor, that impenitent sinners have no ground to rely upon the mere mercy of Christ in a dying hour. Many sinners, in a state of health and prosperity, place all their hopes of salvation upon what they shall see, and feel, and experience upon a sick and dying bed. They hope that such a scene will awaken them out of their stupidity, and give them a realizing sense of their danger and guilt. And they hope that when they do realize their lost and perishing condition, they shall cry for mercy. And when they do, in anguish and distress, cry for mercy, they hope that Christ will pity and save them from both sin and destruction. But such views, and feelings, and expectations of careless, delaying sinners are expressive of extreme ignorance, deception, and presumption. It is owing to their ignorance and self deception, that they expect that any external means, or motives, or circumstances will overcome their habits of sin and stupidity. They have no more reason to hope that any thing attending a sick and dying bed, will have more tendency to awaken and convince them of their perishing condition, than the tremendous scene through which the impenitent malefactor passed had to awaken him, from his habitual and obstinate stupidity, and lead him to cry to Christ for mercy, while actually suffering the pains and agonies of a dying hour. He appears to have had no bands in his death, no apprehension of his aggravated guilt, or of the aggravated punishment which awaited him after his day of grace and space of repentance expired. How many impenitent, hardened sinners have since exhibited the same melancholy evidence of the same stupidity in a dying hour! It is daring presumption for any careless, delaying sinners to expect that either sickness, or even the pains of death, will awaken them from their stupidity, till they open their eyes in torment. But supposing that sickness or the near approach of death should alarm their fears, and throw them into the most distressing sense of their guilty and perishing state; what ground have they to expect that Christ will then hear their cries, and pity, and pardon, and save them? He perfectly knew the guilt and danger of the impenitent malefactor, but he manifested no pity or compassion towards him, but suffered him to drop into destruction, under his eye, and by his bleeding side. Christ knew what would be the dreadful condition of the impenitent malefactor, before he was condemned and nailed to the cross, as well as asterwards; and therefore could see no new reasons for saving him then, which he had not seen before. And he saw no sufficient reason for saving him either before or at his death, and of consequence let him die the death he deserved. This instance of Christ's conduct forbids all impenitent sinners to rely upon Christ's mercy, to give them repentance and salvation in a dying hour. It is as consistent with the mercy of Christ to suffer them to die in distress, as in stupidity. And it is very likely that he does suffer many more to die in terror, than in carnal ease and stupidity. It is, therefore, presumption in any sinners to live in ihe liope of a death-bed repentance.

7. It appears from the conduct and condition of the penitent malefactor, that sinners may be saved at the eleventh or last hour of life, if they really repent and believe in Christ. When sinners are awakened to see their own hearts, and desert of future and endless destruction, they are very apt to despond under a painful apprehension that their day of grace and space of repentance are over, and that it is utterly vain and useless for them to strive to enter the strait gate; the door of mercy being for ever shut. This they gather from what they read concerning sinners' being given up; and from what Christ said in the parable of the ten virgins respecting those who came too late; and from what they read and hear in sermons. But their fears arising from these, or any other considerations, are groundless. There is but one unpardonable sin, and that is not the sin of delay or neglect, but the sin against the Holy Ghost. That sin excepted, all others are pardonable at the latest hour of life, upon the condition of repentance and faith. There is a sense, in which all the non elect are given up; but such a giving up is consistent with their being in a state of probation; and it is as true of them, as it is of any other sinners, that they may be saved, if they repent and believe the gospel, at any moment before they die. The impenitent malefactor was one of the non elect, but his day of grace and space of repentance lasted as long as the day of grace and space of repentance lasted in respect to the penitent malefactor. And we know that his day of grace and of repentance lasted to the eleventh hour. Had his fellow sinner hearkened to his reproof and admonition, and exercised a filial fear of God, and repented, and made the same sincere request to Christ, he would have met with the assurance of pardon and salvation. And there is reason to believe that there have been many individual instances of genuine conversion, at the latest hour of life. We may be assured, however, that it is never too late to repent and believe the gospel, before men breathe their last breath.

8. It appears from the instance of the penitent malefactor, that as soon as the souls of men leave their bodies, they do immediately pass into a state of endless happiness, or a state of endless rnisery. Christ assured that late penitent that he should that day be with him in paradise; that is, the kingdom of heaven. It is, therefore, an unscriptural, as well as absurd opinion that greatly prevails at this day, that the soul either dies with the body and becomes extinct, or else falls into a state of sleep or total insensibility. Notwithstanding all the figurative representations of death in scripture, which seem to imply either the extinction or insensibility of the soul after it leaves the world; it appears to be true in fact, that it does exist in a state of sensibility and activity. It is a fact that Enoch, Moses and Elias are gone to heaven. It is a fact that the penitent malefactor has gone to heaven. It is a fact that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are gone to heaven. And it is a fact that Paul desired to die an early death, that he might go the sooner to heaven; which desire would have been absurd, if he expected that death would put an end to the existence of his soul, or throw it into a state of sleep or total insensibility. Now if it be true in fact that the souls of the righteous survive the body, and go to heaven immediately after death, then there is no doubt but that the souls of the wicked when they die, do still exist, and go into a state of endless perdition. And what our Saviour said respecting Dives and Lazarus, affords a strong argument in favor of this conclusion. If he did not mean to represent the state of good and bad men after death, it is impossible to know what he did mean by that most striking parable he ever spake. And if he did mean to represent the state of good and bad men after death, then there is full evidence that they exist in a state of sensibility, and either enjoy the happiness of heaven, or suffer the miseries of the damned.

Finally: It appears from what has been said, that the day of VOL. VI.


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