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“ He predestinates us into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” He acts in this case according to his own sovereign pleasure, as a “potter that hath power over his clay, to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour;” and we have no liberty to reply against God: it is insufferable arrogance, for “ the thing formed to say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus ?" Sir, as you yourself claim a sovereignty in the dispensation of your favours, surely you will not dare to deny a like sovereignty in the eternal God. Believe it, the glorious God is a sovereign benefactor, and he will be acknowledged as such by all that ever partake of his saving mercy.
And now I am prepared to show you, that the consequence which you draw from this doctrine is unjust, and even directly contrary.to the improvement you ought to make of it.
And the reason I offer for this is, that a realizing belief of the truth before us directly tends to bring most glory to God; and most safety, comfort, and happiness to yourself. It is easy to conceive how it conduceth most to God's glory, for us to consider him as the fountain and foundation of all grace and mercy; and to consider all the favours we enjoy or hope for, as flowing from the mere goodness of his nature, and not from any motive or inducement which we can possibly lay before him. In this view of the case, we do that honour to an infinite and eternal Being, as to suppose him a self-existent, independent, and immutable Sovereign; while, on the
contrary, to imagine ourselves capable, by any thing we can do, to change his purposes, engage his affections, or excite and move his compassions towards us, is to conceive him to be “ altogether such an one as ourselves,” liable to new impressions from our complaints or persuasions, mutable in his affections, and dependent upon our duties for the exercise of
And I leave it to you to judge, which of these apprehensions are most worthy of that God, who is infinitely exalted above us, and is “ without any variation or shadow of turning." I leave it likewise to you to judge, which principle is most likely to subserve our best interests, that which does most honour, or that which does the most dishon
our, to God.
If we apply this to the present case, I ask, In which way can we find most encouragement to seek or strive for mercy ? in which way have we the best prospect of success? by entertaining false and dishonourable conceptions of the divine Being, and denying to God the glory which is due to his name? or else, by lying at the foot of a sovereign, and thereby ascribing to him the infinite perfections of his excellent nature? Though in this latter way you can make no change in God, you will, nevertheless, have the evidence that he has made a change in you; and a comfortable prospect that, by bringing you to a submission to his sovereignty, he has a design of special favour to your soul.
further continue our view of this case, it will appear, that a submission to the mere sovereign mercy of God is most conducive to your own comfort, safety, and happiness. This considera
tion is a just foundation of comfort and hope, in that it obviates the darkness and discouragements that would otherwise arise from a sense of your guilt and unworthiness, and from your unavoidable infirmity and imperfection in the service of God. What hope could
you find from your duties, when, after your best endeavours, you would see so much deadness, formality, and hypocrisy in your highest attainments? What hope from your reformations, when so much sin and corruption gaiving ground against all your good purposes and resolutions ? What hope from your affections, when so much hardness of heart, worldly-mindedness, sensuality, and carnal dispositions, are separating between God and you ? Can you quiet your soul by imposing upon an omniscient God, with your vain shows and flattering pretences ? No, Sir; if you have any true discovery of your own heart, these considerations must continually perplex and distress your soul, with distracting fears and despondencies, as long as you are thus compassing yourself about with sparks of your own kindling. For these defects and imperfections will certainly accompany your best resolutions, endeavours, and attainments. But then, on the other hand, if you lie at mercy, and submit to God as the sovereign disposer of his own favours, you have good grounds of encouragement and hope. Are your sins great, and greatly aggravated? The mercy of God exceeds them all. Have you no agreeable qualifications, to recommend you to the favour of God ? Multitudes of others have found mercy, who had no better qualifications than you have. Have you no special promise to depend upon as belonging to you, while in
an unconverted state? Yet is it not sufficient, that you have gracious encouragement to leave all in the hands of that mercy, which infinitely exceeds your highest apprehensions or imaginations ? Are you incapable to come up to the terms of grace proposed in the Gospel ? There is yet hope in God's omnipotent mercy,' that he will “ work in you both to will and to do, of his own good pleasure.” He has done it for thousands of sinners no better than you.
Now, Sir, look around you, and see what refuge you can possibly betake yourself to.
You are in the hands of justice, and which way can you make your escape? If you attempt to fly from God, you perish; but if you fly to him, there is hope. He is sovereign in the donation of his favours; you have therefore as good a prospect of obtaining salvation (in the use of appointed means) as any unregenerate person in the world.
Your defects and demerits need not be any discouragement; for his mercy triumphs over the guilt and unworthiness of the greatest sinners. Is it, therefore, not your greatest safety to lie at his foot, in the way of his appointmeuts, where there is a blessed “hope set before you ?” In this way you have the infinite mercy of God, the gracious encouragements of the Gospel, the glorious success of so many thousands who have tried this method, to animate your diligence and hope; and there is no other
any encouragement to expect renewing grace, and pardoning, saving mercy.
Since you wholly depend upon God's free sovereign mercy, you should use the more diligent and earnest application, in all the ways of his appoint
ment, that you may obtain it. Since you must obtain mercy of God, or perish, O with what diligence and importunity, with what ardour of soul, should you address the throne of grace, for deliverance from your guilt and danger! Since, in a way of sovereignty, God is pleased to bestow his special grace, with an interest in his Son and his great salvation, at what time and by what means it shall seem best in his sight; you should therefore, at all times, and in the use of all the means of grace, be “ seeking the Lord while he may be found, and calling upon him while he is near.”
Can it be thought just reasoning, that because you cannot help yourself, and there is none but God can help you, it is therefore in vain to apply to him for help? That because you have no claiın to his favour, but lie at his mercy, you will not therefore seek mercy at his hands? Does not this, at the first view, appear contrary to all the methods of reasoning we should use in any other case ? promise yourself comfort from such reasonings, and such conclusions as these, in your last expiring moments, when your soul is entering upon its eternal and unchangeable state?
But you object, “ If God in sovereignty designs mercy for us, we shall obtain it, whether we seek or
and if not, it is in vain to strive.” To this, it is sufficient answer, that God never does in sovereignty appoint salvation for any, in the final wilful neglect of Gospel-means. He is sovereign in the appointment of the means, as well as of the end. The same glorious Sovereign, who assures us it is “not for our sakes” that he bestows his speciał grace