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Samuel 7\ Armstrons^^ 

Theological Bookseller and Printer, No. 50, Cornhill, 

Intends to reprint a Volume of SERMONS by Dr. 
EMMONS, which was published some years ago, 
and is now entirely out of print. Those who are 
disposed to aid this undertaking, by subscription, 
will please to send their orders, free of expense, by 
the first of January 1813; should the patronage at 
that time warrant the publication, the volume will 
be ready for delivery in one month afterwards. 

A great assortment of the BEST B(^CKS kept for 
sale at his Sti)re. No. 50, Cornhill — an ailowance to 
|y those who buy to sell again. 

Every article sold at his Store warranted as cheap, as 
at any store in Boston. — |J"A iaige assorti; ent of 
BliiLES, for the pocket, fur schools, or the faultily. 

IjT Printing of all kinds, done at shoit notice, and 
evei'y favour respectfully noticed. 

Boston, Sept. 25, 1812. 









printed by samuel t. armstrong, and sold at 
his theological bookstore, no. 50, cornhill. 



Be it remembered, that on the nv^ -first dav of September, in the 

thirty-seventh y CHI- of the independence of the U States of America, Samuel 

1 V iMSTRONG, ot the said District, Jias deposited in this office (he title of a 

book, tha nu;ht whereof he claims as Proprietor, in the words fol^owiDg. lo -wit: 

"SERMONS, on various important subjects of Christian Doctrine and Prac- 
tice. By Natha>jael Emmons, D.D." 

In conformity to the act ot the Congress of the United States, intitled "An act 
for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and 
Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies, during the times therein 
mentioned;' and also to an act intitled, "An act supplementary to an act, intitled 
an act tor the Encouragement of Learning by securing the Copies of Maps, 
Chans, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies during the 
tim •. therein mentioned; ami extending the benefits thereof to the Arts of De- 
signing, Engraving, and Etching Historical and other Prints.'' 

Clerk of the District of Massachusetts. 



The true God is to be worshipped, as existing in three Persons. 

Eph. ii, 18. For through him ive both have access by one 

Sjiirit unto the Father. . , , 9 


Human and divine agency inseparably connected. 

Gen. xIv, 5. .A'bw therefore be not grieved, nor angry with 
yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me 
before you to preserve life 37 


Men have a natural, but not a moral power, to prevent what 
God has decreed. 

Acts xxvii, 31. Paul said to the centurion and to the sol- 
diers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be served. 48 


The Scripture account of the Devil ought to be believed. 

1 Pet. v, 8. Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary 
the devil, at a roaring lion, tvalketh about seeking ivhom 
he may devour , . 62 


The exhibition of Christ tries the human heart. 

Luke ii, 34, 35. ylnd Simeon blessed them, and said unto 
Mary his mother Behold, this child is set for. the fall and 
rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall 
be sfiokcn against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy 
own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be 
revealed 83 



God loves those who love him. 

Prov. viii, i7. I love them that lt)ve me lOO 


Christ will reject mercenaiy followers. 

John vi, 26. Jesus answered theni^ and said, Ye seek mcy 
not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat 
of the loaves, and were filled 117 


Men have no right to mistake the nature of their moral 

Luke ix, 55. But he turned, and rebuked them, and said. 
Ye know not what manner of sfiirit ye are of. . . . . 133 


The nature of regeneration."^ 
Gal. v, 22. But the fruit of the Sjiirit is love. . . , 153 


It is the duty of sinners to make them a new heart. 

EzEKiEL xviii, 31. And make you a neit) heart and anew 
sfdrit 170 


The treasures of a good and evil heart. 

Matt, xii, 35. A good man out of the good treasure of the 
heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of 
the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things 185 


Tiic keeping of the heart a practicable and important duty. 

Piiov. iv, 23. Kee/i thy heart with all diligence: for out of 
it arc the issues of life 201 

• ' CONTENTS* rif 


The forgiveness of sins only for Christ's sake. 

Acts xiii, 38. Be it known unto you therefore^ men and 
br^thren^ that through this man is preached unto you the 
forgiveness of sins. ...*., 216 


The necessity of zeal in maintaining divine institutions. 

John ii, 17 ^nd his disciples remembered that it was 
written, The zeal cf thine house hath eaten me up. . . 236 


Selfishness the essence of depravity. 

Luke vi, 32. For if ye love them ivhich love you., what 
thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 258 


The order of gracious exercises in the renewed heart. 

■Gal. v, 6. But faith which worketh by love 275 


On the growth of grace. 

2 Peter, iii, 18. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge 
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ 292 


On the nature and necessity of humility. 

Luke xviii, 14. And he that humbleth himself shall be ex- 
alted 312 


Great men the servants of God. 
Preached on the occasion of the dcafh of General Washington, Jan. SO, 1800. 

Isaiah xlv, 4, 5. For Jacob my servant's sake, and' Israel 
mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have 
surnamcd thee, though thou hast not known me. . 

I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no god 
beside vie. I girded thee, though thou hast not known me. 328 



On. true submission to God. 
Occasioned by the death of Deacon Robert Gilmore. 
Job ix, 12. Beholdy he takcth away, nvho can hinder him?, 
who will say unto him, nvhat doest thou? . . . , . S43 


Constant preparations making for the day of judgment. 

2 Peter, iii, 9. The Lord is not slack concerning his 
firomiscy as some men count slackness S69 

SERMON I.V^Wm tv -^• 


Ephesians ii, 18. 

For through him we both have access by one Spirit 

unto the Father, 

CxoD has revealed his will to mankind gradually, by 
one inspired teacher after another. And these teach- 
ers never represent any thing as new, which had been 
reveled before. Thus Moses takes it for a revealed 
and well known-truth, that the sabbath is to be sanc- 
tified, the first time he mentions that day. AH the 
prophets after him speak of temporal death, human 
depravity, and a future state of happiness and misery, 
as things already revealed and universally believed. 
Our Saviour never pretends to teach any thing as 
new, which had been taught before, by any of the 
teachers sent from God. And it is very remarkable, 
that neither Christ nor the Apostles ever speak of the 
sacred Trinity as a new, but only as an old doctrine, 
which had been taught and believed, under all the 
previous dispensations of the gospel. When Christ 
instituted the ordinance of Baptism, to be administer- 
ed in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the 
Holy Ghost, he gives no intimation, that he meant to 
reveal any thing new, respecting these adorable per- 
sons in the Godhead. So the Apostles, in their fa- 
miliar letters to the cliurches, occasionally speak of 
the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as though it were a 
doctrine well known and universally believed, by 
common christians, that the one true God exists in 

10 SERMON I. Eph. ii, 18. 

three equally divine Persons. This remark is sup- 
ported by the phraseology in the text. Speaking of 
the partition wall between Jews and Gentiles as being 
taken away by the gospel, the Apostle says in the 
most familiar manner, "Through him (Christ) we 
both (Jews and Gentiles) have access by one Spirit 
unto the Father." Here the Apostle plainly supposes, 
that the christians to whom he wrote, were well ac- 
quainted with the great and practical doctrine of the 
Trinity, and in their most solemn devotions, exercised 
distinct and peculiar affections towards each distinct 
person in the Godhead. Now this familiar manner 
in which Christ and the Apostles speak of the doctrine 
of the Trinity, is a strong presumptive evidence, that 
it was not a new doctrine in their day; but a doctrine, 
which had been revealed and believed ever since the 
ftrst promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise 
the serpent's head. If it were ever proper for guilty 
creatures in this world, to present their prayers and 
praises to the Father, through the Son, and by the 
Spirit, it was proper before the law, under the law, 
and under the gospel. Hence we may justly con- 

That we ought to address and worship the one true 
God, as existing in three Persons. 

As it is the only design of the present discouse, to 
set this subject in a plain, and practical light, I shall 
proceed to illustrate it, in the following method: 

I. Show that there is but one true God. 

H. Show that the one true God exists in three 

III. Show w^hy we ought to address and. worship 
the one true God, according to this personal distinc- 
tion in the divine nature. 

I. We are to consider the unity of the Deity. 

SERMON I. Eph. ii, 18. 11 

It is much easier to prove from the light of nature, 
that there is one God, than to prove the impossibility 
of there being any more than one. Though some 
plausible arguments in favour of the unity of the Dei- 
ty, may be drawn from the beauty, order, and har- 
mony apparent in the creatures and objects around us, 
and from the Nature of a self-existent, independent, 
and perfect Being; yet these arguments fall far short 
of full proof or strict demonstration. To obtain com- 
plete and satisfactory evidence, that there is but one 
living and true God, we must have resort to the Scrip- 
tures of truth, in which the divine Unity is cleary and 
fully revealed. God has always been extremely jeal- 
ous of his unity, which has been so often disbelieved 
and denied in this rebellious and idolatrous world. 
He has never condescended to give his glory to anoth- 
er, nor his praise to false and inferior deities. He said, 
in the first of his commands to his own people, "Thou 
shalt have no other gods before me." After this, he 
directed Moses to go and say, "Hear, O Israel, the 
Lord our God is one Lord." These precepts and 
prohibitions soon lost their restraining influence upon 
a people bent to backsliding; which gave occasion for 
more frequent and solemn declarations of the divine 
unity and supremacy, by succeeding prophets. Isaiah 
is directed to say, "Thus saith the Lord the King of 
Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts; I am the 
first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no god. 
Is there any god beside me? yea, there is no god: I 
know not any. I am God, and there is none else; 
I am God, and there is none like me: Declaring the 
end from the beginning, and from ancient times the 
things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall 
stand, and 1 will do all my pleasure. 1 am the Lord, 
and there is none else. I form the liaht, and create 

12 SERMON I. Eph. ii, 18. 

darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord 
do all these things." In these passages, the God of 
Israel asserts his unity, not only in opposition to the 
heathens in general, who supposed there were many 
gods, but more especially against the Manicheans, 
who supposed there were two eternal, self-existent 
beings, the one the author of all good, and the other 
the author of all evil. And taking these texts in this 
sense, they prove not only, that the God of Israel is 
the greatest of all that have been supposed to be gods; 
but that he is the only true God, exclusively of all 
other beings in the universe. Our Saviour taught the 
unity of God, as plainly and expressly as the proph- 
ets. When a certain man came and said unto him, 
Good master, what good thing shall I do that I may 
have eternal life? he demanded, "Why callest thou 
me good? there is none good but one, that is God." 
At another time he said, "This is life eternal, that they 
might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ 
whom thou has sent." And when the unity of the 
Deity was implicitly called in question by Satan, who 
tempted him to worship him, he repelled and silenced 
him by saying, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy 
God, and him only shalt thou serve." The Apostle 
Paul also asserts the unity of God in the most plain 
and unequivocal terms. "We know that an idol is 
nothing in the world, and that there is none other 
God but one. Now a mediator is not a mediator of 
one; but God is one. There is one God and Father 
of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you 
all. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, 
the only wise God, be honour and glory forever and 
ever. Amen." Thus the inspired writers unitedly 
and expressly assert, that there is but one living and 
true God, who possesses self-existence, independence, 
and every other divine perfection. But yet, 

SERMON 1. Eph. ii, 18, 13 

II. The one living and true God exists in three 
distinct Persons. 

It is generally supposed, that the inspired writers 
of the Old Testament, give some plain intimations of 
a plurality of persons in the Godhead. Moses, in 
speaking of God, very often used the plural number, 
when the idiom of the language allowed him to use 
the same word, or some other, in the singular num- 
ber; which is a presumptive evidence, tliat he meant 
to intimate a personal distinction in the divine nature. 
And this supposition is strengthened, by his represent- 
ing God himself as speaking in the same manner, on 
different occasions. He tells us, that when God was 
about to create man, he said, "Let iis make man in 
our image, after our likeness." And again, that when 
he was about to confound the language of the builders 
of Babel, he said, "Go to, let us go down, and there 
confound their language, that they may not under- 
stand one another's speech." Moses often mentions 
"the Angel of the Lord," who appeared to the ancient 
patriarchs in the figure?* of a man, but spake the lan- 
guage of God. This was undoubtedly Christ, the sec- 
ond person in the Trinity, whom the Apostle says 
"had been in the form of God, and thought it not 
robbery to be equal with God." Job seems to have 
been acquainted with the plurality of persons in the 
Deity, and to have built his hopes of salvation upon 
the atonement of the second. "1 know that my Re- 
deemer liveth; and that he shall stand at the latter 
day upon the earth." David clearly understood the 
doctrine of the Trinity, and frequently refers to each 
Person, in the book of Psalms. He says to God, 
"Cast mc not away from thy presence, and take not 
thy Holy Spirit from me." And again he says, 
''Whither shall I go from thy Spirit; or whither shall 

14 SERMON I. Epii. ii, IS. 

I flee from thy presence?" He once and again men- 
tions both the Father and Son together. "The Lord 
said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until 
I make thine enemies thy footstool." This refers to 
the pi'omise of the Father to the Son, in the second 
Psalm. "The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my 
Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and 
I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and 
the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." 
These predictions respected each person in the Trinity, 
as the Apostle Peter tells us in the second chapter of 
Acts. "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto 
you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and 
buried, and his sepulchre is with us Unto this day. 
Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God 
had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of 
his loins according to the flesh he would raise up 
Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before, spake 
of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not 
left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This 
Jesus hath God raised up,Avher^f weare all witnesses. 
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, 
and having received of the Father the promise of the 
Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now 
see and hear. For David is not ascended into the 
heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto 
my Lord, set thou on my right hand, until I make 
thy foes thy footstool." After this, Peter further says, 
"Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel, and those 
that follow after, as mapv as have spoken, have like- 
wise foretold these days." It plainly appears from 
this passage, that all the prophets, who foretold the 
coming of Christ, understood the doctrine, of the Trini- 
ty, and the different paits, \vl:ich the Father, Son, and 
Holy Spirit, were to act in carrying into execution 

SERMON I. Eni. ii, 18. l^ 

the gracious scheme of redemption. And just so far 
as the people of God understood the predictions of 
their prophets, respecting the Messiah, they too must 
have known and believed the plurality of Persons in 
the Deity. 

But we find this, like many other great and impor- 
tant doctrines, more clearly revealed, by Christ and 
the Apostles, than it had been before, by the Prophets. 
Christ said a great deal about the Father, Son, and 
Holy Ghost. He commended his apostles and their 
successors in the ministry, to baptize visible believers, 
in the name of this sacred Trinity. Pie promised to 
send the Holy Ghost, to comfort his disciples, and to 
convince and convert sinners. And he neglected no 
proper opportunity of teaching his heaiers, that He, 
his Father, and the Holy Spirit, were three equally 
divine Persons, united in one God. After his death, 
his apostles strenuously maintained and propagated 
the same doctrine. The apostle John wrote his gos- 
pel with a principal view, to maintain the divinity and 
equality of each person in the Trinity. And in his 
second Epistle he expressly says, '-There are three 
that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, 
and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." The 
apostle Paul begins and ends all his Epistles, in the 
very spirit and language of the Trinity. It may 
suffice to mention one instance, in the close of his 
second epistle to the Corinthians. ''The grace of the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the com- 
munion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen." 
These few passages of Scripture plainly show, that 
God has revealed himself to his people, in every age 
of the church, as existing in three Persons. 

III. This leads us to inquire why we ought to ad- 
dress and worship the one true God, according to 
this personal distinction in the divine nature. 

16 SERMON I. Eph. ii, 18. 

1. Here the first reason which occurs is, because 
we ought, in our religious devotions, to acknowledge 
every thing in God, which belongs to his essential 
glory. Much of his essential glory consists in his 
existing a Trinity in Unity; which is a mode of exist- 
ence infinitely superior to that of any other beings in 
the universe. Though there is a wide difference in 
the powers and capacities; as well as moral charac- 
ters, of intelligent creatures, yet we know of no differ- 
ence in their mode of existence. Among the vast va- 
riety of created natures, no individual has ever been 
known, who existed in a plurality of persons. This 
mode of existence is peculiar to the one only living 
and true God, and constitutes one of the essential per- 
fections of his nature. We ought, therefore, to ac- 
knowledge this as well as any other divine attribute, 
in our addresses to the Deity. It is the great design 
of religious worship, to give unto God all the honour 
and glory, which are due unto his name. There is 
precisely the same reason why we should address our 
Maker, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God in 
three Persons; as why we should address him, as the 
first, the greatest, the wisest, and the best of Beings. 

2. We ought to address and worship God, accord- 
ing to the personal distinction in the divine nature, be- 
cause we are deeply indebted to each person in the 
Godhead, for the office he sustains and the part he 
performs, in the great work of redemption. 

The Father is by nature God, and by office, the 
Creator, Lawgiver, Governor, and Judge of the world. 
It is the Father in his official character, who formed 
the gospel scheme of salvation; who appointed Christ 
to be the Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost the sancti- 
fier, of mankind; who created all things according to 
his eternal purpose in Christ Jesus; who gave the pro- 

SERMON I. Eph. ii, 13. it 

hibition to Adam, and the law to Israel, who govern- 
ed the world from Adam to Christ; and who will 
judge the world at the last day. Though any or all 
these works, may be ascribed to the Son and Spirit; 
yet they cannot be properly ascribed to either, in the 
same sense in which they are to be ascribed to the 
Father. Neither the Son, nor the Spirit, ever work 
officially with the Father; nor the Father officially 
with the Son, or Spirit. It is the peculiar and exclu- 
sive office of the Father, to foreordain all things, to 
create all things, to govern all things, and to give law 
and judgment to the whole intelligent creation. 

The Son is by nature God, and by office, the Re- 
deemer, Mediator, or Savior of the world. In this office, 
he has acted, and still acts, in subordination to the 
Father. According to his eternal appointment, he 
became personally united with human nature, took 
upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient 
unto death, even tlie death of the cross, to make com- 
plete atonement for all mankind: and he now lives to 
intercede for the elect, and to overrule all things for 
their benefit. 

The Holy Ghost is by nature God, and by office, 
the Sanctifier and Comforter of the heirs of salvation. 
In this office, he acts in subordination to tr.e Son, as 
well as to the Father, and applies the atonement of 
Christ to those who were ordained to eternal life. 
He awakens their consciences, renews their hearts, 
and carries on a work of grace within them until he 
has made them meet for the kingdom of glory. 

Thus each Person in the Godhead has laid us under 
distinct and peculiar obligations to himself, for what 
he has done to promote our salvation. We are indebt- 
ed to the Father for bringing us into existence, and 
sending his Son to die for us. We are indebted to 

18 SERMON I. Epii. ii, 18. 

the Son for his condescension and grace, in redeeming 
us to God by his blood. And we are indebted to the 
Holy Ghost for all he has done to form us vessels of 
mercy. This is a good reason why we should ac- 
knowled[:;e and worship God as Father, Son, and 
Holy Ghost, and exercise those affections, which are 
correspondent to tlie obligations we are under to each 
of these divine Persons. Though we cannot form a 
clear and comprehensive idea of their Unity; yet we 
can form a clear and destinct idea of their Personality 
and Agency, which is all we need to know, in order 
to give each the glory which is due to his name. 

3. We ought to address and worship the true God, 
according to the personal distinction in the divine na- 
ture, because this is necessarily implied in holding com- 
munion with him. It is owing to God's existing a 
Trinity in Unity, that he can hold the most perfect 
and blessed communion with himself. And it is 
owing to the same personal distinction, in the divine 
nature, that christians can hold communion with each 
and all the Persons in the Godhead. The inspired 
writers represent true believers as holding communion 
sometimes with the Father, sometimes with the Son, 
and sometimes with the Holy Ghost. Christ prayed, 
that all his followers might enjoy the same union and 
communion with him, which he enjoyed with the 
Father. The apostle John says, "Truly our fellowship 
is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.'^ 
The apostle Paul tells christians, that "God is faithful, 
by whom they were called unto the fellowship of his 
Son Jesus Christ." And again he says, "The grace 
of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the 
communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all." 
Christians may hold communion with the love of the 
Father in sending his Son; with the love of the gon in 

SERMON I. Eph. ii, 18. 19. 

suffering on the cross; and with the love of the Holy 
Ghost, in sanctifying their hearts. But they cannot 
hold communion with the Holy Ghost in sending 
the Son, for he did not send him; nor with the Father 
in suffering on the cmss, for he never did suffer on the 
cross. This shows, that when Christians hold com- 
munion with God, they hold communion with each 
person in the Godhead distinctly. Tlieir communion 
with the Father is not their communion with the Son, 
and their communion with the Son is not their com- 
munion with the Father, and their communion with 
the Spirit is not their communion with either 
Father or Son* They hold distinct communion 
with each Person in the sacred Trinity. It is, there- 
fore, the belief and love of this doctrine, which lays 
the foundation for that holy and intimate communion 
with God, which will be the source of their highest 
enjoyment, both in time and eternity. 

4. We are not only allowed, but constrained, to ad- 
dress and worship the true God, according to the per- 
sonal distinction in the divine nature, because there is 
no other way, in which we can find access to the 
throne of divine grace. This important idea is plain- 
ly contained in the text. "For through him, that is, 
Christ, we both have access by one Spirit unto tlie 
Father." Our Savior expresses the same sentiment in 
stronger terms. "Jesus saith, I am the way, and the 
truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but 
by me." The Apostle represents believers as enjoying 
pardon, peace, and access to God, through Christ alone. 
"Therefore, being justified by faith we have joeace with 
God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom we 
have access by faith into this gi-ace wherein we stand, 
and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." As it 
was Christ who made atonement for sin, so it is only 

20 SERMON I. Eph. ii, 18. 

"through him that we can have access by one Spirit 
unto the Father," Sinful creatures cannot approach 
to the Father in the same way that innocent creatures 
can. The holy angels can approach to the Father 
directly without the mediation or intercession of 
Christ. But we must approach to the Father, in that 
new and living way which Christ has consecrated for 
us, through his atoning blood. Indeed, according to 
the economy of redemption, we can have nothing to 
do w^ith God, our offended Sovereign, only as existing 
in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is 
pnly through Christ, that we have liberty of access un- 
to the Father, and may come boldly unto the throne 
of grace for pardoning mercy. This renders it not 
only proper, but indispensable, that we should address 
and worship God, according to the personal distinction 
in the divine nature. For, it is only in the name of 
the Lord Jesus Christ, our mediator and intercessor' 
that the Father can consistently hear our prayers, 
accept our persons, and make us forever happy in the 
enjoyment of heaven. 


1. This discourse teaches us, that the doctrine of the 
Trinity is one of the essential and most important arti- 
cle s ol Christ anity. 

It is Ui'iversally allowed, that some doctrines of the 
gospel arc more important, than others; but it is not 
so universally allowed, that the doctrine of the Trinity 
is a primary article of faith. Some deny the import- 
ance of this doctrine from one motive, and some 
from another. Some who really disbelieve the doc- 
trine, choose to conceal their disbelief, by only calling 
its importance in question. Some who doubt whether 
^he doctrine be true are very willing to speak of it as 

SERMON I. Eph. ii, 18. 21 

a dark and unimportant point. And among those 
who process to believe the truth of the doctrine, there 
aie some who, for the sake of holding communion 
with the doubting and disbelieving, are disposed to 
discard it fiom the catalogue of the essentials and fun- 
damentals of Christianity. But it is extremely absurd 
for any who admit the truth, to deny the importance,, 
of the doctrine of the sacred Trinity. A more plain, 
or a more important, or a more practical doctrine, 
cannot be found in the whole volume of inspiration. 
It is as easy to conceive of three divine Persons, as to 
conceive of one divine Person, the only difficulty is to 
conceive how three divine Persons, should be but one 
divine Being. But this is the mystery of the doctrine, 
which it is neither possible nor necessary for us to un- 
derstand. It is enough for us to believe, that there are 
three equally divine persons in the Godhead, and to 
feel and conduct towards each person according to 
his divine nature and peculiar office. This the man 
of the meanest capacity, as well as the most learned 
and acute d.vine, may and ought to do, because the 
doctrine of the Trinity is as plainly revealed in Scrip. 
tare, as any other divine mystery. No man can seri- 
ously and impartially read the Bible, whether he be- 
lieves it to be of divine inspiration or not, w ithout 
finding the doctrine of the Trinity there. It is true, 
this, like several other important doctrines, is more 
clearly revealed in the New Testament, than in the 
Old; but it is so clearly revealed in both, that it cannot 
be denied, or explained away, witLx)ut shaking the 
foundation of the gospel. For the whole scheme of 
redemption was not only devised and adopted by the 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; but each person engag- 
ed to bear a distinct part, in carrying it into execution. 
If there be, therefore, any one doctrine of the gospel. 

22 SERMON I. Epii. ii, 18. 

which may be pi'operly called fundamental, the doc- 
trine of the Trinity may be properly called so, because 
the whole gospel is built upon it. Accordingly we 
iind that those who deny the doctnne of the Trinity, 
do equally deny the doctrine of the atonement, and 
every other peculiar and important doctrine of Chris- 
tianity, and bring it down to a level with mere nat- 
ural religion. The doctrine of the Trinity is so funda- 
mental to the gospel, that it cannot be denied or sub- 
verted, without denying or subverting the whole gos- 
pel. Nor is it less necessary and important in a jwac- 
iical, than in a speculative view. All religious wor- 
ship, true devotion, or vital piety depends upon it. 
No prayers, nor praises of ours can find acceptance 
with the Father unless they flow from the influence of 
the Spirit, and are offered in the name of the Son. 
We may as well hope to worship God in a right and 
acceptable manner, without believing and loving the 
tlie gospel; as without believing and loving the doctrine 
of the ever blessed Trinity. It is only in the belief and 
love of this great and fundamental truth, that we can 
so worship and glorify God, as to enjoy him forever. 
We ought, therefore, to hold the doctrine of the adora-^ 
able Trinity, in high estimation, and endeavor to trans- 
mit it pure and uncorrupt to the latest generations, 
in this light, orthodox christians in eveiy age of the 
church have considered it, and never failed to give it a 
place in all their public Cteeds or Confessions of faith. 
And though there have been divers Sects, who have 
partially or totally denied the doctrine; yet the great 
body of the most pure and pious christians have from 
the Apostles' days to tiie present time, treated and de- 
fended it, as one of the ^irst principles of the Oracles of 
God; and generally denied christian communion and 
fellowship to those, who have openly embraced either 
theArian, Sociaian, Sabellian, or Unitarian error. 

SERMON I. Epii. ii, 18. 23 

2. It appears from what has been said, that we 
ought to regard and acknowledge the father, as the 
head of the sacred Trinity, and the primary object of 
religious homage. Though all the three Persons in 
the Godhead are equal in every divine perfection, 
yet they are not equal in respect to the order and the 
office, which they severally sustain, in the work of re- 
demption. The Father is the first in order, and the 
supreme in office; and for this cause, we ought to pre- 
sent our prayers and praises more immediately and 
directly to him. than to either of the other persons in 
the Godhead. This is plainly intimated in the text. 
"Through him we both have access by one Spirit unto 
the FATHER." We often read of Christ's praying un- 
to the Father, but never read of tlie Father's pray- 
ing unto Christ. He taught his disciples to pray in the 
same form in which he prayed, and to sa}-, "Our Fath- 
er which art in heaven;" and to "ask the Father in 
his name," for every thing they w^anted. And how 
often did the Apostles offer up their devout and fer- 
vent prayers for others, to "the God and Father of our 
Lord Jesus Christ?" This common mode of expres- 
sion, in their addresses to the throne of grace, plainly 
implies, that they meant to acknowledge the Father, 
as the primary or supreme object of adoration. 
Though the heavenly hosts pay divine homage to the 
Son of God, yet they more immediately and directly 
address the Father in their most solemn and grateful 
devotions. "They say, blessing and honor and glory 
and power be unto Him that sitteth on the throne, 
and unto the Lamb forever and ever." These exam- 
pies of Christ, of the Apostles, and of the heavenly 
Hosts, not only warrant, but require christians to ad- 
dress their prayers and praises to the God and Father 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the primary object of di- 
vine homage and adoration. But, 

24 SERMON I. Eph. ii, 18. 

3. Since God exists in three equally divine persons, 
there appears to be good ground to pay divine hom- 
age to each person distinctly. Though the Father is 
most generally to be distinctly and directly addressed; 
yet sometimes there may be a great propriety in ad- 
dressing the Son and Spirit, according to their distinct 
ranks and offices. Christ said, "the Father would that 
all men should honour the Son, even as they honour 
the Father." Accordingly, Christ never rejected nor 
condemned the divine homage, which was repeatedly 
paid to him both before and after his resurrection. 
Stephen, we know, with his dying breath prayed and 
said, "Lord Jesus receive my spirit." This, if there 
were no other instance of the kind recorded in scrip- 
ture, would warrant us to pray distinctly and directly 
to Christ, as well as to the Father. It is true, we have 
no precept nor example for paying distinct and direct 
homage to the Holy Ghost; but his divine nature and 
office evidently render him a proper object of religious 
'worship, and both justify and encourage us, to pray 
immediately and distinctly to him for his sanctifying 
guiding, and comforting influences. There appears 
to be the same reason for praying to our Sanctifier for 
grace, as to our Redeemer for pardon. And this has 
been the general opinion of orthodox christians, who 
have, from age to age, had their doxologies, in which 
they have paid distinct and equal adoration and 
praise to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy 

4. If we ought to acknowledge and worship the true 
God, according to the personal distinction in the divine 
nature; then we ought to obey him, according to the 
same distinction. We fmd somecommandsgivenby the 
Father, some by the Son. and some by the Holy Ghost. 
Though we are equally bound to obey each of these 
divine Persons, in point of authority, yet we ought to 

SERMON I. EpH.ii, 18. 25 

obey each from distinct motives, arising from the distinct 
relations they bear to us, and the distinct things they have 
done for us. We ought to obey the Father, as our Cre- 
ator; the Son as our Redeemer; and the Holy Ghost, 
as our Sanctifier. This distinction is as easy to be per- 
ceived and felt, as the distinction between creating good- 
ness, redeeming mercy, and sanctifying grace. Every 
true believer will feel constrained from a sense of grati- 
tude, to distinguish the commands of the Father, Son, 
and Spirit, and to pay a cheerful obedience to the com- 
mands of each Person, from the most endearing motives. 
Christ expected his friends should obey his commands 
from a sense of his kindness, as vt^ell as of his authority. 
*^'If ye love me keep my commandments. Ye are my 
friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. If a man 
love me, he will keep my words." The apostle and 
the primitive christians felt the constraining influence of 
gratitude, to live a life of obedience to him, who suf- 
fered and died for them. "For the love of Christ con- 
straineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died 
for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, 
that they which live, should not henceforth live unto 
themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose 
again." If the love of Christ be a distinct reason for 
obeying his commands, then the love of the Father 
is a distinct reason for obeying his commands; and 
the love of the Spirit is a distinct reason for obeying 
his precepts and prohibitions. Thus a cordial belief of 
the glorious doctrine of the Trinity, cannot fail of 
having a powerful and happy influence upon every 
branch of the christian life, as well as every act of 
christian piety and devotion. 

It now concerns the professors.of religion to inquire 
whether they are real, or only nominal christians. 
The doctrine wc have been considering is a proper 

26 SERMON I. Eph. ii, 18. 

criterion, to determine this serious and interesting ques- 
tion. If those who bear the christian name, will bring 
themselves to this standard, it is more than possible, 
that many at this day, may find that they have no 
good ground to hope that they are real christians. 
Have any a right to entertain this hope, who do not 
acknowledge and worship the only tiue God, as he 
lias revealed himself in the gospel? Has he not there 
revealed himself, as the only living and true God. ex- 
ifting in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? 
Do either the Arians, or Saciiiians, or Sabellians, or 
Unitarians, acknowledge and worship God, as ex- 
isting a Trinity of Persons in a unity of essence? Da 
they honour the Son, or the Spirit, as they hon iUr 
the Father? Is there any essential difference between 
their religious homage, and the religious homage of 
Deibts or Pagans? They all periectiy agiee in the 
sole object of their supreme worship; and may they 
not all be equally sincere in their religious devotions? 
But do any of them acknowledge and worship the 
only true God, according to the personal distinction in 
the divine nature? Do any of them approach the Fath- 
er, through the Son, and by the Spirit? Is there the 
least trait of Christianity in their religiuus worship? 
And can such infidel and pagan services meet the di- 
vine approbation? If the doctrine of the adorable Trin- 
ity be must lie A the foundation of Christianity, 
both in theory and p;:u'tice, and brand all those as 
antichrisiiaii. who refuse t.. worship God, in the be- 
lief and love of the Fa her. Son, and Holy Ghost. It 
is hard to conceive how any man can persuade him- 
self, that he is a real christian, who has never had any 
communion with the sacred Trinity, and who has al- 
w^ays in his religious devotions, symbolized with Pa- 
gans and Infidels. 



Genesis xlv. 5. 
Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with your- 
selves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me 
before you to preserve life. 

IT is the peculiar excellence of sacred history, to dis- 
play the hand and counsel of God, in the government 
of the moral world. The inspired writers relate not 
only the fr^e and voluntary actions of men, but repre- 
sent them as inseparably connected with the free and 
voluntary agency of the Deity. This circumstance 
renders sacred history much more interesting and 
instructive than profane, which contains little more 
than the bare recital of past actions and events. The 
agency and design of God in all the concerns of men, 
give them their greatest importance. Though the his- 
tory of Joseph contains a great variety of singular and 
surprising events; yet these would appear comparative- 
ly trifling, were they not related in connexion with 
tlie ultimate design and superintendency of God, in 
bringing them to pass. In this view, there is some- 
thing extremely interesting in the account of Joseph's 
making himself known to his brethren. "Then Jo- 
seph could not refrain himself before all them that 
stood by him; and he said, Cause every man to go 
out from me: and there stood no man with him 
while Joseph made himself known to his brethren. 
And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house 
of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his breth- 

28 SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 

ren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his 
brethren could not answer hhn: for they were troub- 
led at his presence. And Joseph said unto his breth- 
ren, Come near to me, I pray you; and they 
came near: and he said I am Joseph your brother, 
whom tje sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not 
grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me 
hithei^: for God did send me before you to preserve 
life." This was as much as to say, "Though you 
meant to destroy a brother's life, and break a father's 
heart; yet I freely and heartily forgive you. And 
though you meant to defeat the design and control 
the hand of God, for which you ought to repent in 
dust and ashes; yet be not grieved that the event took 
place, for God was the supreme agent in it, and made 
use of you as instruments, to accomplish the wise and 
benevolent purpose of preserving your lives, and the 
lives of millions in the midst of the present extensive 
and destructive famine." In this address to his breth- 
ren, Joseph represents God as doing what they had 
done. I'hough they sent him into Egypt, yet he re- 
pi'esents God as sending him thither. He more fully 
expresses this idea in the words immediately succeed- 
ing the text. "These two years hath the famine been 
in the land: and yet there are five years, in which 
there shall be neither earing or harvest. And God 
sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the 
earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 
So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God." 
That is, God was the primary and supreme agent, m 
bringing about this great and most happy event. This 
is the truth which now naturally falls under our coiv 

Sermon ii. gen. xiv, 5. t9 

That the Scripture ascribes the actions of men both 
to themselves and to God. 

I shall endeavour to illustrate the truth, the propriety, 
and the importance of this doctrine. 

1. We are to consider, that the Scripture does as- 
cribe the actions of men both to themselves and to 
God. It will be universally allowed, that the Scrip- 
ture ascribes the actions of men to themselves. It as- 
cribes to Abel his faith, to Cain his unbelief, to Job 
his patience, and to Moses his meekness. Having just 
premised this, I proceed to adduce instances, in which 
the Scripture ascribes the actions of men to God as 
well as to themselves. The first instance that occurs 
is in the history of Joseph. It is said his brethren sold 
him into Egypt, and at the same time God is said to 
send him thither. It is said God hardened the heart 
of Pharaoh, and Pharaoh is said to harden his own 
heart. The same mode of expression is used in refer- 
ence to the Egyptians. They hardened their own 
hearts, when they presumed to follow the Israelites 
into the midst of the sea, with a fixed design to over- 
take and destroy them. But God himself says he 
would harden their hearts on that occasion. "And I, 
behold I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and 
they shall follow them, and I will get me honour up- 
on Pharaoh, and upon all his hosts, upon his chariots, 
and upon his horsemen." Saul went of his own ac- 
cord to Samuel, yet God says he sent him. Shimel 
cursed David of his own accord, yet David ascribed 
his conduct to the divine agency. The Sabeans and 
Chaldeans stripped Job of his servants and substance; 
yet he says, "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken 
away." God is said to do what the king of Assyria 
did. '-O Assyria, the rod of mine anger, and the staff 

30 SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5, 

in their hand is mine indignation. I will send hirii 
against an hypocritical nation, and against the people 
of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, 
and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the 
mire of the streets. Howbeit, he meaneth not so, nei- 
ther doth his heart ihink so; but it is in his heart to 
destroy, and cut off nations not a few. Wherefore it 
shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath accom- 
plished his whole work upon Mount Zion, and on Jeru- 
salem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the 
king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks." God is 
said to blind the minds and harden the hearts of those, 
who blinded their own minds and hardened their own 
hearts, in the days of Christ and the apostles. The 
prophet Isaiah speaking of the sufferings of Christ, 
says, "It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put 
him to grief," But we know, that it was Herod, Pon- 
tius Pilate, and the Jews, who insulted, buffetted, and 
crucified the Lord of glory. I might mention God's 
giving love to those that love; repentance to those 
that repent; faith to those that believe; and purification 
to those who purify themselves. But enough has been 
said to show, that the Scripture ascribes the actions of 
men both to themselves and to God. I proceed to 

II. The propriety of ascribing human actions to 
both human and divine agency. This, indeed, looks 
like a paradox, and is considered by many as a palpa- 
ble absurdity, or a profound mystery. Accordingly, 
much ingenuity and learned labour have been employ- 
ed to explain away those passages of Scripture, which 
ascribe the actions of men to God as well «s to them- 
selves. No pains have been spare.j to make it ap- 
pear, that all human actions arc absolutely independ- 

SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 31 

ent of, and unconnected with any divine operation 
upon the human heart. And could this be establish- 
ed, it would be difficult to show the propriety of as- 
cribing the actions of men both to God and them- 
selves. But the truth is, reason and Sciipture unitedly 
afford a solid foundation for this mode of speaking. 

Mankind are creatures, and by the law of nature 
absolutely dependent upon God. We cannot con- 
ceive, that even Omnipotence is able to form indepen- 
dent agents, because this would be to endow them 
with divinity. And since all men are dependent agents, 
all their motions, exercises, or actions must originate 
from a divine efficiency. We can no more act, than 
we can exist, without the constant aid and influence 
of the Deity. This is the dictate of reason, whiqh is 
confirmed by the declaratiouL of Scripture. We read 
that "in God we live, and move, and have our being." 
The wise man tells us, ''The preparations of the heart 
in man, and the answer of the tongue are from the 
Lord" The apostle acknowledges, "that we are not 
sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of our- 
selves; but our sufficiency is of God." This all good 
men believe to be true, when they ask God to give 
them grace, and assist them in the performance of ev- 
ery duty. The apostle exhorts christians to live un- 
der an habitual sense of their dependence upon God 
in all their gracious exercises. He addresses them in 
this form: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have al- 
ways obeyed, not in my presence only, but now much 
more in my absence, work out your own salvation 
with fear and trnibiing. For it is God who worketh 
in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." 
And he prays for believers in the same strain, in \\ hich 
he exhorts them to duty. "Now the God of peace, 

33 SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 

that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus 
Christ that great shepherd of the sheep, through the 
blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect 
in every good work to do his will, 'working in you 
that which is well pleasing in his sight through Jesus 

Now, if men always act under a divine influence, 
then there is a great propriety in ascribing their actions 
to God as well as to themselves. If they do any thing 
whatever, it may be truly said, it was done by the fin- 
ger of God. If Joseph's brethren sold him into Egypt, 
God may be said to send him thither. If the Jews 
crucified Christ, and put him to grief, it may be said 
he was smitten of God and afflicted. If one natior^ 
destroys another, it may be said God destroyed that 
nation. If one man makes himself rich, God may be 
said to make him rich. If one man make himself 
poor, God may be said to make him poor. If one 
man turn from sin, God may be said to turn him. If 
one man foflow hard after God, God may be said to 
draw him. If one man grow in grace, God may be 
said to carry on the good work he had begun in his 
heart. There is no occasion^ therefore, of rectifying 
that mode of speaking on this subject, which runs 
through the Bible. It is strictly just and agreeable to 
truth. Human agency is always inseparably connect- 
ed with divine agency. And though it may be 
proper, in some cases, to speak of man's agency alone, 
and of God's agency alone; yet it is always proper 
to ascribe the actions of men not only to themselves, 
but to God. The propriety of the Scripture phrase- 
ology on this subject is so plain and obvious, that 
it is strange so many have objected against it, and 

SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 3$ 

endeavoured to explain it away. But since this jg 
the case, it seems very necessary to show, 

III. The importance ot ascribin^^ the actions of 
men to God as well as to themselves. We have no 
reason to suppose, that the sacred writers Would have 
used such a mode of speaking, unless it were neces- 
sary and important. They wrote with a view to in- 
struct, and not to perplex mankind. And if we 
properly consider the natural tendency of this mode 
of speaking, we shall be convinced, that it is of great 
importance, and answers very valuable purposes. It 
is the design of God in all his works, to set his 
ov^^n character and the character of all his reasona- 
ble and accountable creatures, in the truest and strong' 
est light. This leads me to observe, 

1. It is a matter of importance, that the actions of 
men should be ascribed to themselves. They are real 
and proper agents in all their voluntary exercises and 
exertions. Their actions are all their own, and as 
much their own as if they acted without any depend- 
ence upon God, or any other being in the universe. 
If a man loves God, his love is his own exercise, 
and a real virtue and beauty in his character. If a 
man hates God, his hatred is his own exercise, and 
a real sin and blemish in his character. All the 
actions of Adam, both before and after his flill, 
were the fruit of his own choice, and formed his 
character, both as a good and a bad man. And 
this is true of all his descendants, whether saints or 
sinners. Their actions are all their own, and consti- 
tute them either holy or unholy, virtuous or vicious, 
and worthy of praise or blame, reward or punishment. 
Hence it is a matter of importance, that the Scripture 
should ascribe the actions of men to themselves. Un- 

^4 SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 

Isss God represented men as authors of their own ac^ 
tions, he would not represent them in their true lights 
This clearly appears in the case of Joseph and his 
brethren. Though God foreordained and foretold 
their conduct, though he sent Joseph into Egypt, and 
made use of his brethren as means to convey him 
thither; yet he could not have set their amazing inhu- 
manity, malice, and criminality in a true light, unless 
he had ascribed these actions to themselves, and ex- 
pressly said, that they sold him into Egypt. This was 
their act and deed, which rendered them extremely 
criminal, not only in the sight of God and of their 
brother, but in the view of their own consciences. On 
the other side, God could not have placed the amiable 
character of Joseph in a true light, if he had not as- 
cribed his virtuous, mild, and benevolent conduct to 
himself. It was important, that the character of Jo- 
seph should be set in contrast with the character of 
his brethren; and for this reason, it was no less import- 
ant, that both he and they should be represented as 
the authors of their own actions. The same is true, 
in respect to all mankind. Though God is as really 
concerned in all their conduct, as he was in the con- 
duct of Joseph and his brethren; yet their actions ought 
to be ascribed to themselves, in order, that their char- 
acters may be exhibited in a true light. This is im- 
portant now, and will be still more important, at the 
great and last day. Accordingly, it is represented, 
that God will ascribe the actions of the righteous to 
the righteous, and the actions of the wicked to the 
wicked, and reward the former and punish the latter 
according to their own works. God's government of 
moral agents never will destroy their agency, and 
therefore he will not only ascribe their own actions to. 

SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 35 

themselves, but treat them according to their own free, 
voluntary conduct. It is just as important, that God 
should ascribe the actions of men to themselves, as 
that he should fmally judge the world in righteousness. 
And now it is easy to see, 

2. The importance of ascribing men's actions to 
God as well as to themselves. He is really concerned 
in all their actions, and it is as important, that his 
agency should be brought into view, as that theirs 
should. For his character can no more be known, 
without ascribing his agency to himself, than their 
characters can be known, without ascribing their 
agency to themselves. God was as really concerned 
in the whole affair of selling Joseph into Egypt, as his 
brethren were. And his agency was of as much im- 
portance as theirs, nay, it was of much greater im- 
portance; for he proposed the end, appointed the agents, 
and guided ^very step they took to bring it to pass. 
Joseph's brethren had a cruel and malignant design in 
their conduct; but God had a most wise and benevo- 
lent design in it. This Joseph believed and told his 
brethi*en so. "As for you, ye thought evil against me; 
but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is 
this day, to save much people aliv^e." Had the whole 
story of this important event been related, without 
once mentioning the agency of God in it, his astonish- 
ing wisdom and goodness, in preserving Joseph, his 
father's family, and the whole nation of Egypt, would 
have been kept out of sight, and, of consequence, he 
would have been robbed of the glory which was due 
to his name. In this view, it was highly important, 
that the actions of Joseph's brethren should be ascrib- 
ed to the agency and overruling providence of God. 
And it is equally important, that all the actions of 

S6 SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 

both saints and sinners should be ascribed to the divine 
agency. Hence we find, that the inspired writers ev- 
ery where represent all those graces and virtues, by 
which saints are formed for heaven, to the power and 
operation of the Deity upon their hearts. The apos- 
tle speaking of himself and other christians, who were 
desirous of, and prepared for heaven, says, "Now he 
that wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who 
hath also given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." On 
the other hand, we find the exercises and conduct of 
sinners, by which they are formed for destruction, as- 
cribed to the operation of God upon their hearts, 
"Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have 
mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Hath not 
the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to 
make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dis- 
honour? What if God willing to show his wrath, and 
to make his power known, endured with much long- 
suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and 
that he might make known the riches of his glory on 
the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto 
calory?" As the glory of God could not have been 
displayed, in sending Joseph into Egypt to save mil- 
lions from impending destruction, unless the conduct 
of Joseph's brethren had been ascribed to God; so the 
glory of God in saving the elect, and destroying the 
non-elect, can never be displayed, without ascribing 
the actions of all mankind to Him, who works in men 
both to will and to do of his good pleasure. In a 
word, it is of as much importance, that the actions of 
men should be ascribed both to God and to them- 
I selves, as it is that the greatest good of the universe 
I should be promoted. For this ultimately depends 
upon a clear and full display of the divine aenvell as 

SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 37 

human agency, in the conduct of mankind, from the 
beginning to the end of time. 


] . In the view of this subject, we learn when it is 
proper to ascribe the actions of men to themselves, and 
when it is proper to ascribe them to God. It appears 
from what has been said in this discourse, that the in- 
spired writers sometimes ascribe the actions of men to 
themselves, without bringing the divine agency into 
view; and sometimes they ascribe them to God, with- 
out bringing human agency into view; and there is a 
perfect propriety in these two different modes of repre- 
senting human actions. Whenever men are required 
or forbidden to act, and whenever they are approved 
or condemned for acting, there is a propriety in ascrib- 
ing their actions to themselves, without any reference 
to the divine efficiency. It is their own free, volun- 
tary agency, which alone constitutes their virtue or 
vice, and which renders them worthy of either praise 
or blame. Though they always act under a divine in- 
fluence; yet that influence neither increases their vir- 
tue, nor diminishes their guilt, and of consequence 
ought never to be brought into view, when they are 
to be praised or blamed for their conduct. But when 
the power, wisdom, goodness, or sovereignty of God 
in governing their views and actions, are to be display- 
ed, then it is proper to mention his, and only his 
agency in the case. Accordingly we fmd the sacred 
writers always observe strict propriety in ascribing the 
actions of men, either to themselves, or to the Deity. 
This is exemplified in the history of Joseph's brethren. 
When their guilt is to be brought into view and con- 
demed they are said to sell Joseph into Egypt: but 

S§ SERMON II. Gen. xlv,5. 

wheivthe wisdom and goodness of God are to be dis-* 
played, he, and not they, is said to send him thithei\ 
So when Pharaoh is to be blamed, he is said to harden 
his own heart; but when the divine sovereignty is to 
be acknowledged, God is said to harden his heart. 
And so again, when the guilt of the crucifiers of 
Christ is mentioned, they are said to perpetrate the 
horrid deed, with wicked hands; but when the benev- 
olent design of the Deity is exhibited, the hand, as well 
as the counsel of God, is said to be concerned in 
bringing about the event. If we carry this idea in 
our minds, we can easily expound some passages of 
Scripture, which have been often misunderstood and 
misapplied. Among others, the following texts have 
given great trouble to expositors. Psalm cxix, 36, 
"Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to 
covetousness." Psalm cxli, 4, "Incline not my heart 
to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men 
that work iniquity." Isaiah Ixiii, 17, "O Lord, why 
hast thou made us to err from thy ways? and harden- 
ed our heart from thy fear?" Romans vi, 17, "But 
God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin." 
James i, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, "Let no man say when 
he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot 
be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. 
But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of 
his own lust, and enticed. Then, when lust hath 
conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is fin- 
ished, bringeth forth death. Do" not err, my beloved 
brethren. Every good gift and'every perfect gift is from 
above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, 
with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow 
of turning." And chapter iii, 14, 15; 16, 17, "But if 
ye have bitter envying and stiife in your hearts, glory 

SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 39 

not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom de- 
scendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devil- 
ish. For where envying and strife is, there is confu- 
sion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is 
from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and 
easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, 
without partiality, and without hypocrisy." In these 
passages it is denied, that the bad actions of men may 
be ascribed to God, and equally denied on the other 
side, that the good actions of men may be ascribed to 
themselves: but yet it is asserted in these same passages, 
that the agency of God is concerned in disposing men 
both to good and evil, or in their good and bad ac- 
tions. Here is no difficulty, if we only allow, that 
there is a propriety sometimes, in ascribing the actions 
of men wholly to themselves, and sometimes in as- 
cribing their actions wholly to God. It is proper 
sometimes to ascribe men's good actions wholly to 
themselves, and sometimes equally proper to ascribe 
their bad actions wholly to themselves. While on the 
other hand, it is sometimes proper to ascribe men's 
good actions wholly to God, and sometimes equally 
proper to ascribe tlieir bad actions wholly to him. 
This single idea will solve a seeming difficulty, which 
runs through the Bible. 

2. Since the Scripture ascribes all the actions of 
men to God as well as to themselves, we may justly 
conclude, that the divine agency is as much concerned 
in their bad, as in their good actions. Many are dis- 
posed to make a distinction here, and to ascribe only 
the good actions of men to the divine agency, 
wiiile they ascribe their bad ones to the divine per- 
mission. But there appears no ground for this dis^ 
"^inction in Scripture or reason. Men are no more 


40 SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5, 

capable of acting independently of God, in one in- 
stance than another. If they need any kind or de- 
gree of divine agency in doing good, they need pre- 
cisely the same kind and degree of divine agency in 
doing evil. This is the dictate of reason, and the Scrip- 
ture says the same. It is God, who vvorketh in men 
both to will and to do, in all cases without exception. 
He wrought equally in the minds of those, who sold, 
and in the minds of those, who bought Joseph. He 
WTOught as effectually in the minds of Joseph's breth- 
ren, when they sold him, as when they repented and 
bpsought his mercy. He not only prepared these 
persons to act, but inade them act. He not only ex- 
hibited motives of action before their minds, but dis- 
posed their minds to comply with the motives exhibit- 
ed. But there was no possible way in which he 
could dispose them to act right or wrong, but only by 
producing right or wrong volitions in their hearts. 
And if he produced their bad as well as good volitions, 
then his agency was concerned, in precisely the same 
oiianner, in their wrong as in their right actions. It is 
upon this ground, and only upon this gTound,that all the 
actions of men, whether good or evil, may properly be 
ascribed to God. His agency in making them act, 
necessarily connects his agency and theirs together, and 
lays a solid foundation to ascribe their actions either to 
him, or to them, or to both, as the design of the speaker 
or writer may require. 

3. If the actions of men may be ascribed to God as 
well as to themselves, then it is easy to form a just and 
full view of divine Providence. If God is actually 
concerned in all human actions, it necessarily follows, 
that he constantly and absolutely governs the moral 
as well as the natural world. All denomination? pf 

SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 41 

Christians are agreed in the belief, that God governs 
the sun and moon, the earth, and all material objects, 
in all their motions, revolutions, and effects, by his 
constant and powerful agency. But with respect to 
the moral world many imagine, that God only upholds 
moral agents in existence, and preserves their active 
powers without exerting any influence upon their 
wills, which move them to act, in every instance, ac- 
cording to his own pleasure. If it were possible, how- 
ever, for moral agents to act, without any divine influ- 
ence upon their wills, as some suppose, it is easy to ^ 
perceive, that their actions would be solely their own, 
and could not in any sense be ascribed to God, nor 
considered as under his providential control. But 
since mind cannot ad, any more than matter can §^ 
move, without a divine agency, it is absurd to suppose, . ^ 
that men can be left to the freedom of their own will, I (v 
to act or not to act, independently of divine influence. [ 
There must be therefore, the exercise of divine agency 
in every human action, without which it is impossible 
to conceive, that God should govern moral agents, and 
make mankind act in perfect conformity to his own 
designs. This is the only Scriptural representation of 
divine providence; and according to this representation^ 
it is easy to see, that all actions, as well as all events, 
may be traced up to the overruling hand of fitod. 
Pious men of old had this just and full view of divine 
providence. Joseph ascribed the whole series of ac- 
tions and events, from the time he had his extraordi- 
nary dreams, to the time he made himself known to 
his brethren, to the hand of God. Job ascribed all 
the evil as well as all the good he experienced to di- 
vine providence, though he knew that Satan and his 

agents were concerned in his afflictions. All the good 

42! SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 

and all the evil which takes place in this world, takes 
place under the providence of God, and therefore his 
hand is to be seen and acknowledged in every event, 
without a single exception. None can have a full 
and just idea of the universality and perfection of di- 
vine providence, without considering God as governing 
all moral agents in all their moral conduct, by a pow- 
erful and irresistible influence. It is a gross absurdity 
to suppose, that the providence of God is more exten- 
sive than his agency, or that he ever governs men, 
without exerting a positive influence over them. 

4. If it be true, that all the actions of men may be 
ascribed to God as well as tothemselves; then it is prop- 
er to submit to God under all the evils which he brings 
upon us, by the agency of created beings. Whenever 
they act, they act under his influence, and according to his 
providential will. If they do us evil, he is the prima- 
ry cause of the evil, and his hand, and his heart, and 
his counsel, are to be seen and submissively acknowl- 
edged. "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord 
hath not done it? No evil can come to a city, a fam- 
ily, or person, without the divine agency. God some- 
times brings natural evils upon mankind by his own 
hand alone, and sometimes by the hands of his crea- 
tures. All will allow, that we ought to submit to God 
und^ the afflictions, which come immediately from 
his holy and righteous hand. But it is no less evident, 
that we ought to submit, when he makes use of the 
most malignant agents to punish or purify us. Agree- 
ably to this the apostle Peter observes, "Servants, be 
subject to your masters, with all fear; not only to the 
good and gentle, but also to the fi oward. For this is 
thank-worthy if a man/orco?i5ae«ce toivard Godendure 
grief, sufferiiig wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when 
y& be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? 

SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 4i5 

but if ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, 
this is acceptable to God." Whether we are afflicted 
by Satan, or by the instrumentality of wicked men, 
we have the same reason for submission, as when we 
iape more immediately corrected by God himself; be- 
cause neither Satan, nor wicked men, can do us any 
harm, but under the agency of Him, who governs their 
hearts and hands. When Job was so severely afflict- 
ed by Satin and the servants of Satan, he ascribed his 
afflictions to God, and cordially submitted to his will, 
who had made use of those instruments to chastise 
him. When David was insulted and abused by Shim- 
ei, he said the Lord had bidden him; and therefore 
submitted to God, without the least murmur or com- 
plaint. If we always thus viewed the hand of God in 
all the evils, which we receive from our fellow crea- 
tures, we should feel the propriety of silence and gub- 
mission under all the natural evils and calamities 
which fall upon us. 

5. If the actions of men may be ascribed to God as 
well as to themselves; then God will be glorified by all 
their conduct. Whether they have a good or bad in- 
tention in acting, God has always a good design, in 
causing them to act in the manner they do. Joseph 
had a good design in visiting his brethren, and in con- 
ducting with propriety, under both the smiles and 
frowns of providence; and God had a good design in 
guiding the motions of his heart and the actions of 
his life. So that God will be forever glorified by the 
life and conduct of Joseph. Joseph's brethren had a 
malevolent intention in abusing him, and finally selling 
him into Egypt; but God had a good design in both 
foretelling and guiding their wicked actions. So that 
God will be glorified by all their conduct. And since 
pod equally governs all the actions of all men, whetli^ 


44 SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 

cr good or bad, he must be glorified by the conduct ot' 
the whole human race. Ail the wrath, all the malice, 
all the revenge, all the injustice, and all the selfishness, 
»s well as all the benevolence of mankind, must finally 
praise him, or serve to display the beauty and glory of 
his character. His intention and his agency, which al- 
ways goes before theirs, and which is always wise and 
benevolent, turns all their conduct to his own glory. 
At the great and last day, when all human hearts shall 
be unfolded and all human conduct displayed, the 
hand and counsel of God will appear in all, and shine 
the brighter by every act of disobedience and rebellion 
in his creatures. Their bad intentions will be a foil, 
to display the glory of God to the best advantage. 

6. If the actions of men may be ascribed both to 
God and to themselves; then we may see the duty and 
nature of true repentance. When men freely and vol- 
untarily do evil, their conduct is their own, and they are 
the criminal agents. They freely and actively violate; 
their obligations to obedience, which is in its own na- 
ture sinful, and for which they ought to repent. Their 
criminality does not consist in the cause of their evil 
desires, affections, designs, and volitions, but in their evil 
desires, affections, designs, and volitions themselves. 
These are all as much their own, and as really crimin- 
al, as if God had had no concern, influence, or agency 
in their production; and they are under as real and 
strong obligation to repent, as if they had acted inde- 
pendently of every being in the universe. But since 
all their sinful conduct may be ascribed to God, who 
ordained it for his own glory, and whose agency was 
concerned in it, they have no reason to be sorry, that 
any evil action or event took place. This is so far from 
being implied in true repentance, that it is altogeth- 
er inconsistent with it. So Joseph supposed in the case 

SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5. 45 

of his brethren. "Now therefore be not grieved, nor 
angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: For God 
did send me before you to preserve life." God had a 
good design in governing the sinful conduct of Joseph's 
Jjrethren; and when they saw this good design happily 
accomplished, they could have no ground to regret the 
taking place of that series of actions and events, by 
which it was brought about. They could not have 
been sorry for this, without being sorry for God's con- 
duct, and for the accomplishment of his holy and be- 
nevolent design; which would have been totally incon- 
sistent with godly sorrow for their own sins. God 
was not sorry, that their sinful conduct had taken place, 
and they had no more reason to be sorry, on that ac- 
count. When they really repented (as we know they 
did) they loathed and abhorred themselves for sin it- 
self, and not for its taking place, under the divine 
government. This is the very language of their hearts, 
when they were brought to repentance. "And they 
said one to another. We are verily guilty concerning 
our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, 
when he besought us; and we would not hear: therefore 
is this distress come upon us." They saw the intrinsic 
turpitude, malignity, and criminality of their inten- 
tions and designs, and with self-reproach, self-loath- 
ing, and self-condemnation, acknowledged their just 
desert of punishment from the hand of God. This was 
genuine repentance and godly sorrow, and essentially 
different from a sorrow, that their sins had taken place, 
and that God's design had been accomplished. The 
apostle Paul makes this distinction between godly sor- 
row and the sorrow of the world, in his description of 
true repentance. "For godly sorroM^ worketh repent- 
^mce to salvation not to be repented of: but the sor- 
row of the world worketh death." The sorrow of 

46 SERMON II. Gen. xlv, 5, 

the world, is the sorrow that arises from an event's tak- 
ing place; and this worketh death, because there is no 
remedy for it. If we ought to be sorry, all things con^ 
!f sidered, that any event has taken place, then it is utter- 
\ ly impossible, that either God, or his holy creatures, 
can be completely blessed. But if there be no cause 
to be sorry, all things considered, that any action or 
event has taken place; then sinners may loath and ab- 
hor their sins, as God loaths and abhors them, and 
yet be completely happy. Godly sorrow, or true re- 
pentance, is not only consistent with, but absolutely 
necessary to, the highest happiness of sinners. While 
they condemn and loath their own conduct, they may 
rejoice forever in the conduct of God towards them- 
selves, and all other dependent beings. 

Finally, if it be true, that the actions of men may 
be properly ascribed both to God and to themselves; 
then it is of great importance for mankind to believe 
and acknowledge this truth. It runs through the 
whole Bible, and stands inseparably connected with all 
God's conduct towards his creatures, and with all their 
conduct towards him and one another. It is so far from 
casting any darkness or obscurity over the Scriptures, 
that it throws peculiar light upon all the doctrines and 
duties of the gospel, and upon all the works of God 
and man, in the dispensations of providence and 
grace. While we see the consistency of human and 
divine agency in all the actions of men, we can read 
the sacred volume with great edification and delight, 
and clearly discern the heart and hand of both God and 
man in all the small as well as great events, which 
take place in the world. But without seeing and be- 
lieving this truth, not only the world, but the Bible, 
must appear to us full of darkness and mystery, which 
it will be out of our power to penetrate or remove. 

SERMON il. Gen. xlv, 5. 47 

It is, therefore, of as much importance to see and be- 
lieve the connexion and consistency of divine agency 
in human actions, as it is, to see God, ourselves, and 
all intelligent beings, in a clear and true light; and to 
know how we ought to feel and conduct towards 
them. It is only in the view of this truth, that all ho- 
ly creatures will be the most completely happy, and all 
unholy ones the most completely miserable, through 
the boundless ages of eternity. It highly behoves 
every person to look into and understand this most 
interesting subject. It will be no excuse to say, that 
he cannot understand it, while he neglects to examine 
it with a fixt, deliberate, and impartial attention. 
Those who do not know and love it in this world, 
must know and hate it forever, which will be the con- 
summation of their future misery. 



Acts xxvii, 31. 

Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except 
these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. 

THE history of Paul's voyage to Italy, is one of the 
most affecting and instructive narratives in the word 
of God. It displays his power-, wisdom, and goodness, 
in governing the winds and waves, and the hearts and 
hands of men, in the most trying and distressing cir- 
cumstances. Paul set sail in company with nearly 
three hundred persons, for a dangerous voyage in a 
dangerous season of the year, and in direct opposition 
to his own opinion and advice. These ominous cir- 
cumstances undoubtedly spread a gloom over the 
minds of the whole company, and made them leave 
the last sight of land, with heavy hearts. Though the 
weather was in their favour at first; yet there soon 
arose a tempestuous wind, which obliged them to 
lighten the ship, and commit themselves to the mercy 
of the waves. While they were in this situation, 
neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and the 
storm continued and increased, until all hope of safety 
Was lost. At length, Paul stood up and addressed 
their desponding minds, in this pathetick and consoling 
language: "Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, 
and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained 
this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of 
good cheer; for there shall be no loss of any man's life 
among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me 

SERMON lit Acts xxvii,3l. 49 

this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whohi 
I serve; saying, Fear not Paul; thou must be brought 
before Cgesar: and lo, God hath given thee all them 
that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: 
for I believe God that it will be even as it was told me^ 
Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island/* 
"But, when the fourteenth night was come, as we wer6 
driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the 
shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; 
and sounded, and found it twenty fathoms. Then 
fearing lest they should have fallen upon rocks, they 
cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for day. 
And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, 
when they had let down the boat into the sea, under 
colour, as though they would have cast anchors out of 
tlie foreship, Paul said to the centurion and to the sol- 
diers, Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be sav- 
ed.'^ This seasonable and solemn address had the de- 
sired effect, and proved the occasion of saving the 
lives of the whole company. For they complied with 
his advice, and took every precaution which their dan- 
gerous situation required. "And so it came to pass!, 
that they escaped all safe to the land." This is the 
connexion of the words of the text; and in this con- 
nexion they plainly imply, that those who sailed with 
Paul, had natural power to frustrate the decrees of 
God. For he had decreed that Paul should stand 
before Caesar; and that those who were w ith him iri 
. the shipwreck, should get safe to land. But yet, if thd 
sailors had left the ship, as they once intended, they 
would have frustrated tliese divine purposes. For not- 
withstanding God had revealed these purposes to Paul, 
and he firmly believed they should be fulfilled; yet he 
expressly said to the centurion and to the soldiers, 
^'Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved." 

50 SFRMON III. AcTsxxvJ), SI. 

These words, in this connexion, plainly convey this 
general idea, that whatever God decrees shall take 
place, by the instrumentality of men, they have natur- 
al power to prevent. If this point can be clearly illus- 
trated and established, it will serve to throw light upon 
some important and interesting subjects. Accordingly, 
I shall endeavour to make it appear, 

I. That God does decree, that some things shall take 
place, by the instrumentality of men. 

II. That such things shall certainly take place. 
And yet, 

III. That men have natural power to prevent their 
taking place. 

I. It is too plain to be denied, that God does decree, 
that some things shall take place, by the instrumental- 
ity of men. We know, that he determined to preserve 
Noah and his family in the general deluge; and he 
employed not only their agency, but the agency of 
many others, to effect his purpose. He predicted the 
preservation of Jacob and his family in a time of fam- 
ine; and he employed Joseph to bring about the event. 
He determined to lead this children of Israel from the 
house of bondage to the land of promise; and he em- 
ployed Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua, as the princi- 
pal agents, to accomplish his design. He decreed to 
overthrow the Babylonian, Persian, and Grecian em- 
pires in succession; and he carried into execution his pur- 
poses, by the instrumentality of Cyrus, Alexander, and 
Augustus Caesar. He determined, that Christ should 
be crucified; and he brought about the great and im- 
portant event, by means of many wicked heaits and 
wicked hands. He determined, that the gospel of Christ 
should be speedily spread; and he qualified and dis- 
posed Peter, and his fellow apostles, to propagate it 
through all Judea. He determined, that it should 

SERMON III. AcTsxxvil, 31. 51 

have a wider spread; and he raised up Paul to preach 
the o^lad tidings of salvation to the heathen world. 
And in connexion with this, he deternnined, that he 
should be carried to Rome, by means of a certain ship, 
and the instrumentality of certain sailors. These in- 
stances, and many more which the sacred writers have 
recorded, clearly prove, that God does decree to bring 
about the common events of providence, by the in- 
strumentality of men. I proceed to show, 

II. That whatever God has decreed to bring to pass, 
by the instrumentality of men, shall certainly take 
place. There is no room to doubt, whether that will 
take place, which God has determined to bring to pass 
by his own hand. This is so plain, that those who 
deny the doctrine of divine decrees in general, profess 
to believe, that God has decreed his own actions, and 
will most certainly act as he has determined to act. 
But many pretend to doubt, whether every thing, 
which God has decreed to be done, by human agen- 
cy, will eventually come to pass. They suppose, 
therefore, there must be some uncertainty, with re- 
spect to such events as God determines to bring to pass, 
by human agency. But if God has decreed to bring 
about some events, by human agency, it is absolutely 
certain, that such agency will be exerted, and such 
events will exist. For, the divine decree always fixes 
the certainty of whatever is decreed, byestablishmg an 
infallible connexion between the me%ns and the end. 
This is the difference between divine foreknowledge 
and decree. Foreknowledge does not make any fu- 
ture event, certain, but only proves that it is certain; 
whereas a decree makes a future event certain, by con- 
stituting an infallible connexion between the event de- 
creed, and the cause or means of its coming to pass. 
When God decreed, that Paul and his company 

52 SERMON III. Act^ xxvii,3l. 

should get safe to land, he fixed an infallible connex"^ 
ion between their safety, and the exertion of the sail- 
ors who managed the ship, ^nd it was this infallible 
connexion between the means and the end, which 
rendered this deliverance absolutely certain before it 
took place. Paul believed what the angel of God told 
him, and entertained no doubt of arriving safe to land, 
while danger stared him in the face on every side. 
His faith w as founded upon the divine decree, which 
formed an infallible connexion between his safety and 
the means to bring it to pass. And upon the ground 
of this infallible connexion between the means and 
end, God represents the accomplishment of all his de- 
crees as absolutely certain. "I am God, and there is 
none like me: declaring the end from the beginning, 
q,nd from ancient times the things that are not yet done, 
saying. My counsel shall stand, and I will do a.11 vciy 
pleasure." David declares, '"The counsel of the Lord 
standeth forever. The thoughts of his heart to all gen- 
erations." And Solomon asserts, "There is no wisdom, 
nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord." 
And again he says, "There are many devises in man's 
heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall 
stand." Men have often attempted to frustrate the di- 
vine decrees, but have never succeeded. Joseph's 
brethren endeavoured to defeat the divine purposes, but 
all their etforts served to bring them to pass. Pharaoh 
attempted to defeat the divine designs, but was 
^lade the active instrument of carrying them into 
execution. Ahab vainly imagined, that he could 
elude the divine decree, but met the arrow decreed to 
destroy him. No instance c^n be found of men's frus- 
trating the decrees of God. Indeed, he challenges theni 
to do this, if they can. "The Lord of hosts hath sw^orn, 
s^jing, surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass, 

SERMON lil. Acts xxvii,31. 53 

and as I have purposed, so shall it stand." And he said 
to his disobedient people, who went into Egypt with a 
design to frustrate his prediction, "Ye shall know 
w^iose words shall stand, mine, or yoiirs.^^ It is abso- 
lutely certain, that whatever God has decreed shall take 
place, whether with, or without, human agency, shall in- 
fallibly come to pass; because in all cases, his decree has 
established an inseparable connexion between the 
means and the end. If men are the means decreed, they 
shall as certainly as any other means decreed, contri- 
bute to the end, and eventually bring it to pass. But yet, 
III. Those events which God has decieed to bring 
about, by the instrumentality of men, they have natur- 
al power to prevent. Though God had decreed and 
predicted, that Paul should stand before Csesar, and 
that all who sailed with him should arrive eafe to land; 
yet these very men had natural power to prevent the 
fulfilment of the divine decree and prediction. If the 
centurion and soldiers had suffered the sailors to leave 
the ship, which they had natural power to do, it would 
have proved the destruction of the whole company. 
Or if the soldiers had killed all the prisoners, as they 
proposed, and as they might have have done, Paul 
would not have stood before Caesar, as God had de- 
creed. And though it was decreed, that Ihe ship and 
loading should be lost in the storm; yet this damage 
might have been prevented, if the master and owner 
of the ship would have hearkened to f^aul. So he ex- 
pressly told them, when it was too late to rectify their 
error. Though God decreed, that Noah should build 
the ark, and save his family, yet he had natural power 
to neglect that work, and so to frustrate that divine 
purpose. Though God decreed, that Joseph should 
preserve his father's family in Egypt during the famine, 
yet he had natural power and opportunity to destroy, 

54 SERxMON III. Acts xxvii, 31. 

instead of preserving them, and so to prevent the event 
decreed and predicted. Though God decreed, that 
Hazael should kill the king his master; yet he had 
natural power to refrain from that traitorous deed, and 
60 to prevent the evil, which God had determined and 
declared should exist. Though God decreed, that Ju- 
das should betray Christ; yet he had natural power 
to refrain from that action, to which he was bribed by 
the Jews and tempted by Satan, and so to counteract 
the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. 
In these instances, there can be no doubt but that those, 
who fulfilled, had natural power to frustrate the divine 
purposes, which depended upon their agency. And 
now to make it appear, that this is true in all cases, I 
would observe, 

1. That when God decrees, that any event shall be 
brought about, by the instrumentality of men, he al- 
ways decrees, that they shall have natural power to 
fulfil his decree. This must be extremely plain to every 
one; for we cannot suppose, that God should decree, 
that any event should be brought about, by human 
agents incapable of bringing it about. But no man is 
capable of doing that which he has not natural power 
to do. When God decreed, that Hazael should de- 
stroy iiis royal master, he decreed, that Hazael should 
have both health and strength, to perform the traitor- 
ous deed, for had he been deprived of these, he could 
not have fulfilled the divine decree. This holds in all 
eases, in which a decreed event depends upon the in- 
strumentality of men. The decree of God is so far from 
taking away the natural power of those, who are ap- 
pointed to execute it, that it always secures that power. 
The decree which made it certain, that Judas should be- 
tray Christ, made it equally certain, that he should have 
natural power to perpetrate that crime; so that it was 

SERMON III. AcTS>ixvii,31. 55 

certain, that he should neither take away his own life, 
nor have it taken away, before he had actually betrayed 
his Master. For God to decree, that men should be in- 
strumental in bringing some particular event to pass; and 
yet not decree to give them natural power to do what 
was necessary on their part to do, would be the same, 
as to decree that that event should not take place. It 
must, therefore, be admitted, that men always have 
natural power to do whatever God has dea'eed they 
shall do. But, 

2. When men have natural power to do any thing, 
they always have natural power to neglect it. Noth- 
ing can be plainer, than that those who have a natu- 
ral power to act, have the same natural power to re- 
frain from acting. The seamen and master of the 
ship, who had natural power to set sail, had the same 
natural power to desist from that rash conduct, ac- 
cording to the good advice of Paul. The soldiers, who 
had natural power to guard the prisoners, had the 
same natural power to neglect their duty, and let them 
escape. So that it always holds true, that when God 
gives men natural power to fulfil his decrees, they 
have the same natural power to neglect to fulfil them. 

3. Men always have natural power to frustrate 
those divine decrees, which they are appointed to ful- 
fil. God decreed, that Paul and his company should 
get safe to land, by the instrumentality of the sailors; 
but they had natural power to frustrate that decree. 
So Paul told the centurion and the soldiers, "Except 
these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved." The 
sailors were about to leave the ship, and to neglect 
alfording the company that assistance which was de- 
creed, and which was absolutely necessary to preserve 
tlif» livfs of the passengers. This they had natuial 

56 SERMON III. Acts xxvil, 31. 

power to neglect, and had they neglected it, they 
would have frustrated the divine decree. As it is al- 
ways true, that men have natural power to fulfil any 
decree, which they are appointed to fulfil; so it is 
equally true, that they always have the same natural 
power to prevent the fulfilment of it. Their not act- 
ing, in every such case, would as effectually frustrate 
the purpose of God, as their acting would fulfil his 
purpose. And since he always gives men natural 
power to fulfil his decrees, they always have the same 
natural power to defeat them. This all those are 
conscious of, who attempt to frustrate his designs. 
Joseph's brethren thought they had natural power to 
defeat the divine purpose. Ahab, when he w^nt to 
Ramoth-Gilead, had the same opinion. The soldiers 
supposed they had natural power to kill Paul, as they 
proposed, to prevent his escape. And all men are 
conscious that they have natural power to neglect 
whatever they have natural power to do. It hence 
follows, that men have, and know they have natural 
power to frustrate those decrees of God, whose ac- 
complishment depends upon their agency. 


1. Since men always fulfil those decrees of God, 
which they have natural power to frustrate, we must 
suppose, that he always makes them willing to act 
agreeably to his decrees. Two things are absolutely 
necessary in order to men's acting; one is to be able, 
and the other is to be willing. By being able is meant 
a natural power to act, and b^ being willing a moral 
j)Ovvcr to act. Whatever God determines men shall 
do, he not only gives them a natural, but moral power 
to do: and when he gives them both a natural and 
moral power to do any thing, they are under a moral 

SERMON III. AcTsxxvii, 31. 57 

aecessity of doing it. Hence there is always both a 
natural possibility, and a moral impossibility, of their 
defeating the divine purposes. In one sense it is always 
true, that men can defeat the designs of God; and in 
another sense it is always equally true, that they can- 
not defeat his designs. This distinction between nat- 
ural and moral power, natural and moral necessity, 
and natural and moral impossibility, is agreeable to 
common sense, and to the whole tenor of Scripture; 
and fully accounts for men's always fulfilling those pur- 
poses of God, which they have natural power to frus- 
trate. Though God knows, that mankind have natu- 
m\ power to act contrary to his designs; yet he knows, 
that he is able to make them willing to fulfil his purposes, 
and that he has determined to make them willing; and 
hence he knows, that they always will fulfil his purposes, 
by voluntarily performing those actions, which he has 
determined they shall perform. God has the hearts 
of all men in his hand, and can turn them whitherso- 
ever he pleases, as the rivers of water are turned. And 
it is by operating upon their hearts, that he makes 
them the voluntary instruments of fulfilling those pur- 
poses of his, which they have natural power to coun- 
teract and defeat. 

2. If men always have natural power to frustrate 
as well as fulfil the decrees of God; then they always 
act freely in fulfilling his decrees. If they were will- 
ing as well as able to defeat his purposes, they certain- 
ly would defeat them. Was there ever an instance 
known of a man's beino; both able and willing: to do 
an action, and neglecting to do it? Or can we even 
conceive of a man's being both able and willing to do 
an action, and yet neglecting to do it? It is just as im- 
possible to conceive of such a case of neglect, as to 
conceive of an effect without a cause. When a man 

58 SERMON III. Acts xxvii, 31. 

is both able and willing to act, there is a sufficient 
cause for his acting; but no cause at all for his neg- 
lecting to act. Hence it is absolutely certain, that 
men always act freely, while they act agreeably to the 
divine purposes, which they are able to frustrate, be^ 
cause no reason can be given, why they act agreeably 
to those divine purposes, jDut that they choose to act 
agi'eeably to them. If the decrees of God prevented 
men from acting voluntarily, they would indeed des- 
troy their free agency; but since they are consistent 
with their acting voluntarily, they are entirely consist- 
ent with their moral freedom. Paul and all those 
who sailed with him in their voyage to Italy, acted 
agreeably to the decrees of God, yet they acted freely, 
because they acted voluntarily, in every instance of 
their conduct. Accordingly, when they arrived to 
land, Paul told them, that they ought to have heark- 
ened to him, and that if they had hearkened to him, 
as they might have done notwithstanding the divine 
decree, they would have escaped the harm and loss, 
which they had unhappily sustained. This instance 
demonstrates, that the decrees of God respecting the 
conduct of men, are perfectly consistent with their free 
agency in fulfilling his decrees. 

3. If men have natural power to frustrate as well 
as to fulfil the decrees of God; then the non-elect have 
as fair an opportunity of being saved as the elect. 
The decree of reprobation leaves them in the full pos- 
session of all their natural power to choose or refuse 
the offers of mercy. They have as much strength, 
and as fair an opportunity to embrace the gospel, as 
the elect have, before they embrace it. This may be 
clearly exemplified in the case of Judas, who w as rep- 
robated; and of Paul, who was elected. They were 
both, for a long time, in a state of impenitence and 
unbelief. Judas in that state was as able to embrace 

SERMON III. Acts xxvii, 31. 59 

the gospel, as Paul was in the same state. Paul acted 
freely in rejecting the gospel, and as freely in embrac- 
ing it; and Judas, if he had pleased, might have done 
the same. Though he refused the overtures of mercy 
and betrayed his Master; yet after all, instead of des- 
troying his own life, he might have repented and ob- 
tained forgiveness, notwithstanding the divine decree 
to the contrary. And this is true, in regard to all the 
non-elect. God has provided an atonement for them, 
as well as for the elect. He offers salvation to them 
as well as to the elect. He commands them to ac- 
cept of salvation, as well as the elect. He promises 
salvation to them, if they will accept it, as well as to 
the elect. Why then do they not enjoy as fair an 
opportunity to obtain eternal life, as the elect? If they 
perish, they must necessarily perish, by their own 
choice. God places all under the gospel, in such a 
situation,, that the gospel must necessarily save them, 
if they only choose to be saved. The serv^ant who re- 
ceived one talent, was as able to improve it, and 
to obtain a reward from his master, as those who 
received and improved more talents. Those who 
were first invited to the gospel feast, and refused to go, 
were as able to go, as those were who went, and en- 
joyed the entertainment. The non-elect will forever 
feel, that they might have gone to heaven, if they had 
chosen to go to that holy and happy place; and that 
their own choice, and not the decree of reprobation 
shut them out of the kingdom of glory. And this 
will constrain them to justify God in freely offering 
salvation to them, and in condemning them for reject-' 
ing his gracious invitations. 

4. If men have natural power to fiustrate as well 
as to fulfil the decrees of God; then there is a propriety 
in the warnings, cautions, and admonitions given to 
saints against falling away. Many imagine that such 
exhortations arc inconsistent with the certainty of their 

60 SERMON III. Acts xxvii, 81. 

final perseverance. We firmly believe, that all those 
whom God has given to Christ in the covenant of re- 
demption, shall certainly be renewed, sanctified, and 
saved. But if this be true, many are ready to ask> 
Why should real saints be cautioned against falling 
away, and threatened with final ruin, if they should 
fall away? This subject furnishes at complete answer 
to this question. It is because they have natural power 
to frustrate the divine decrees. They have natural 
power to apostatize from the faith, as well as to per- 
severe in it. There is, therefore, a natural possibility 
of their falling away; and this natural possibility of 
falling away creates danger; and where there is danger, 
cautions and warnings against it, are altogether proper 
and necessary. Men may be in danger of an evil, 
which it is certain they shall eventually escape. It was 
after Paul had been divinely assured, that he and his 
company should get safe to land, that he said to the 
centurion and to the soldiers, "Except these abide in 
the ship, ye cannot be saved." This implies, that the 
certainty of their safety was consistent with the danger 
of their being lost. Paul was chosen from eternity to 
be a believer and a preacher of the gospel; but while 
he remained an enemy to Christ and to his followers, 
there was danger of his never becoming either a be- 
liever or preacher. And after he became a believer 
and a preacher, he tells us, that he still considered 
himself in danger of being finally cast away. Believers 
live in the same world, in which they lived, before they 
believed; they are surrounded by the same spiritual 
enemies, by which they were surrounded, before they 
believed; and they have the same natural power to re- 
nounce thegospel,which they had to reject it,before they 
believed; hence they stand in peculiar need of cautions 
and warnings, to resist the devil, to overcome the 
world, to keep themselves in the love of God, to watch 

SERMON III. Acts xxvii, 31. 61 

and pray against temptations, and at all times, and 
under all circumstances, to take heed lest they fall. 
Such warnings and cautions are not only proper, but 
necessary means, to keep saints from falling, and to 
conduct them safely to the kingdom of heaven. 

Finally, since God has determined to bring about 
great and important events by the instrumentality of 
men, it is of great importance, that they should be ac- 
tive and diligent in carrying into execution his wise 
and holy designs. The means to promote any end, 
are as necessary as the end to be promoted. It was 
as necessary, that the shipmen should be restrained 
from leaving the ship, as that the lives of all on board 
ishould be saved. By employing men as means, in 
carrying on his designs, God has made human agency 
extremely necessary and important. He has put it 
into the power of men to do unspeakable good, while 
they are acting their parts in this probationary state. 
How eminently useful were the patriarchs, the proph- 
ets, and other good men, before the gospel day; and 
how much more good have the apostles, the ministers, 
and the followers of Christ done since! The field of 
usefulness is continually opening wider and wider. 
God has let us know, that he has determined to extend 
his kingdom through the world, by the instrumentality 
of human agents. A door is open for all men of every 
age, character, and condition, to employ all their abil- 
ities, to bring about the most desirable and important 
events. All who cordially co-operate with God in 
fulfilling his purposes, shall meet with final success 
and an ample reward. These are the strongest mo- 
tives to exertion, that can be presented to the minds of 
men. And in the view of these, let all be steadfast and 
immoveable, always abounding in the work of the 
Lord, forasmuch as their labour shall not bo in vain in 
the Lord. Amen. 



1 Pet. V, 8. 
Be sober, he vigilant: because your adversary i1i6 
devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking 
whom he may devour. 

IT is generally unwise to despise our enemies, because 
it prevents that vigilance, which is necessary to defeat 
their evil designs. We often suffer more from those 
whom we contemn, than from those whom we fear. 
And, perhaps, mankind in general receive much great- 
er injuries from their common enemy, whose power 
and malice they vainly deride, than from all their oth- 
er enemies put together. Some are ready to doubt 
the existence of their adversary the Devil, and consid- 
er him merely as a creature of the imagination; while 
others who believe his existence commonly speak of 
him in the most familiar terms of reproach and con- 
tempt. But if he does really exist, and possess all that 
malevolence, which is ascribed to him in the text; then 
he is certainly much more to be feared than despised. 
And since all men are more or less exposed to his de- 
structive influence, it concerns them to form just ap- 
prehensions of his power and disposition to deceive and 
destroy them. It is proposed, therefore, in the follow- 
ing discourse, to give the scriptural account of the 
Devil, and make it appear, that we ought to believe 
that account. 

1. Let us consider the scriptural account of the Dev- 
il. This common enemy of mankind is more fre- 

SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 63 

quently mentioned in the Bible, than any other par- 
ticular person or agent, except the man Christ Jesus. 
He is called by a great variety of appellations. More 
than fifty times he is called the Devil. More than 
forty times he is called Satan. And he is very often 
designated by several other names: such as the Accuser 
of the brethren, Apollyon, Angel of the bottomless pit, 
Prince of darkness, Prince of devils, and the God of 
this world. Nor do the sacred writers merely men- 
tion his names, but fully describe his origin, his charac- 
ter, and his conduct. 

1 . They represent him as an apostate angel. The 
scripture clearly reveals the apostasy of angels. The 
apostle Peter says, "God spared not the angels that 
sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them 
into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." 
And the apostle Jude gives a similar representation. 
^'The angels which kept not their fust estate, but left 
their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting 
chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great 
day." Satan, the head and leader of these apostates, 
originally belonged to a high and holy order of beings. 
But what his first offence was, we are not expressly 
told in his history. Some, however, have conjectured, 
that his first sin consisted in refusing to obey Christ as 
Mediator, and to minister to those who were to be 
heirs of salvation. And this idea seems to be suggest- 
ed by several texts of Scripture. Christ speaking of 
the Devil in the eighth chapter of John says, "He abode 
not in the truth," that is, he was not steadfast in obe- 
dience to Him, who was the way, the truth, and the 
life. And this disobedient temper he might manifest, 
when the Father said concerning the Son, "T^et all the 
angels of God worship him." If, on that occasion, Sa- 
tan aid refuse to bow to the Mediator, it seems his fust 

64 SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 

sin must have been pride; which appears to be intimat- 
ed in the apostle's words to Timothy. "Not a novice, 
lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the con- 
demnation of the devil." It is certain, however, that 
Satan once belonged to the highest order of created 
beings, and was, perhaps, the highest of that order. 
But by pride or some other offence, he apostatized 
from God, and led others to apostatize from him; for 
which he was doomed, with his followers, to a state of 
everlasting darkness and despair. But notwithstand- 
ing his loss of holiness and happiness, he still retains 
that superior power and intelligence with which he 
was originally created. 

2. The scripture represents the Devil, as an invisi- 
ble agent in this world. He is said to be a Spirit, 
which denotes his invisibility. He is likewise repre- 
sented as taking possession of the minds of men, and 
invisibly governing their thoughts and actions. But 
though he is naturally invisible to human eyes, yet he 
is capable, as well as the angels of light, of assuming 
a material vehicle, and of becoming visible to mankind. 
It seems, he appeared to Adam and Eve in a visible form. 
But we are not to suppose, that God ever permits 
him to assume a bodily shape, unless it be on some 
peculiar occasion, to answer some special purpose of 
providence. It is true, he is represented in the text as 
a roaring lion; but this is to be understood figuratively. 
As an angel he is a spirit, and as a spirit he is natural- 
ly invisible, and, in his common intercourse with man- 
kind, acts in an invisible manner; though he may oc- 
casionally put on a human or some other visible ap- 

3. The scripture represents the Devil, as the head 
of all the apostate angels. We are not informed how 
many of the heavenly hosts apostatized from God^ 

SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 65 

but there is reason to believe, that the number was 
great. When our Lord asked an unclean spirit his 
name, he replied, "My name is legion: for we are 
many." This account agrees with what the apostle 
says concerning the various ranks of fallen angels. "We 
wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against princi- 
palities, against powers, against the rulers of the dark- 
ness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in 
high places." Among these various orders of apos- 
tate spirits, he, who is emphatically called the devil, 
holds the highest. This is frequently intimated in 
scripture. Wiien our Saviour cast a devil out of a 
dumb man, the pharisees said, ''He casteth out devils 
through the prince of devils." And they said on 
another occasion, 'This fellow doth not cast out 
devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils." A 
similar remark was made by those, who saw Christ 
cast out a devil that was dumb. They said, "He cast- 
eth out devils through Beelzebub the chief o^ devils." 
But he kiiowing their thoughts said unto them, "Every 
kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. 
If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall 
his kingdom stand?" Here Christ seems to confirm the 
common opinion among the Jews, that the Devil is a 
chief or a prince, who reigns supreme in his own 

4,. The scripture represents the Devil, as being con- 
versant in this world, and exerting his power and influ- 
ence here. The author of the book of Job says, 
"When the sons of God came to present themselves 
before the Lord, Satan came also among them." And 
when the Lord asked him whence he came, he answer- 
ed, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from 
walking up and down in it." The apostle gives the 

same representation of him in the text. "Be sober, 

66 SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 

be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a 
roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may de- 
vour." When Christ saw him coming to tempt him, he 
said, "The prince of this twHd cometh, and hath noth- 
ing in me," He also predicted the descent of the Holy 
Ghost, who should restrain and condemn Satan. 
"When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, 
and of righteousness, and of judgment. Of judgment, 
because the prince of this world, is judged." The 
Devil has always been roaming through this world, 
and as the prince of the power of the air, produced 
winds, and storms, and other natural evils, to afflict 
mankind, and carry on his malignant opposition to 
Christ and the interests of his kingdom. He has al- 
ready spread misery and destruction far and wide; and 
he means, if possible, to ruin the human race. Nor 
does he act alone, but causes all his subjects to co-op- 
erate in all his malevolent purposes. Were all these 
apostate spirits only visible, they would appear more 
terrible, than so many ravening wolves. For, 

5. The scripture represents the Devil, and conse- 
quently his subjects, as perfectly malevolent. This is 
the character given of him in the text. "Your adver- 
sary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about seek- 
ing whom he may devour." He is called an evil 
spirit, a foul spirit, an unclean spirit, a liar, a murderer, 
a tormentor, a destroyer. Yea, he is represented as 
the perfection of malignity. When Christ would 
paint sinners in the blackest colour, he compares them 
with this impure spirit. "Ye are of your father the 
devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." And 
when the apostle would represent the bitterest passions 
of human nature in the most odious light, he calls 
them "earthly, sensual, devilish.''^ God's conduct to- 
wards Satan, and towards all other beings, has imbit- 

SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 67 

tered his mind, and filled his selfish heart with the 
highest degree of envy, malice, and revenge. 

6. The scripture represents this Enemy qf all right- 
eousness, as having access to the minds of men, and 
possessing a power of tempting their hearts, and 
leading them into all manner of moral evil. We 
are told that he tempted our first parents to eat 
of the forbidden fruit; that he led the posterity of 
Noah to forget and forsake God; that he provoked 
David to number Israel; that he seduced many of the 
people of God into idolatry; that he tempted Christ 
in the wilderness; that he put it into the heart of Ju- 
das to betray him; that he filled the heart of Ananias 
to lie unto the Holy Ghost. He is called the spirit, 
that worketh in the children of disobedience. He is 
said to blind the minds of them that believe not. 
And it is predicted, that he shall in time to come, 
go out to deceive the nations, which are in the four 
quarters of the earth. Hence God repeatedly and 
solemnly warns men to guard themselves against his 
wiles and temptations. Timothy is divinely directed 
to instruct such as oppose the gospel, "that they 
may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, 
who are taken captive by him at his will." Paul ex- 
horts himself and his christian brethren to exercise mu- 
tual forgiveness, '-Lest, says he, Satan should get an 
advantage against us: for we are not ignorant of his 
devices." To the Ephesians he says, "Put on the 
whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand 
against the wiles of the devil. Stand therefore having 
your loins girt about with truth, and having on the 
breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with 
the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, 
taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able 
to quench the fiery darts of the wicked, And take 
the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit* 

68 SERMON IV. I Pet. v, 8. 

which is the word of God." The apostle James also 
warns christians against the assaults of Satan. '^Sub- 
mit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will 
flee from you." The duty and importance of such 
caution and resistance, the apostle Peter solemnly 
urges in the text. "Be sober, be vigilant: because 
your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh 
about seeking whom he may devour." All these 
warnings and admonitions necessarily suppose that the 
Devil has access to the minds of men, and continually 
employs all his power and subtilty to seduce and de- 
stroy them. I proceed to show, 

II. That we ought to belic*ve this account of the 
Devil. It is a just and scriptural account. Nothing 
fabulous or fictitious has been mentioned. It appears 
from the whole currerit of Scripture that the Devil was 
originally an angel of light; that he retains his angel- 
ick nature and high rank among the apostate spirits; 
and that he is invisibly present in this world, where he 
has access to the minds of men, and employs every ar- 
tifice to destroy them. That this scriptural account 
of the devil is worthy of belief, will appear from the 
following considerations. 

1. It is God's account, whose knowledge and verac- 
ity are unquestionable. He was as able to give us the 
history of the Devil, as the history of Adam, or Noah, 
or Abraham, or any other person, whom he has re- 
corded in his word. He knew Satan from the begin- 
ning of his existence, and was able to give a true ac- 
count of his primitive state, of his first apostacy, and 
of his conduct towards Adam and all his posterity to 
the end of time. He has not, indeed, revealed all that 
he might have revealed concerning this first apostate; 
but what he has revealed must be infallibly true, and 
demand universal belief. 

SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 69 

3. There is the same oround to believe the scriptural 
account of the Devil, as there is to believe the scriptural 
account of the Angels, who kept their first estate. His 
history and theirs come ironi the same Author, and are 
extremely similar. Are they represented as spirits? 
so is he. Are they represented as superior to men? so 
is he. Are they represented as invisible? so is he. 
Are they represented as having intercourse with this 
world? so is he, Are they represented as promot- 
ing the cause of Christ? he is represented as opposing 
it. But here it is worthy of remark, that God lias giv- 
en a more full and particular history of the Devil 
and his angels, than he has of the principalities and 
powers above. In some respects, therefore, his history 
is worthy of more attention and regard than theirs. 
But many profess to believe their existence and 
agency, who doubt the existence and agency of Satan. 
This is highly absurd. If we ought to believe what 
God says concerning the Angels of light, we ought, by 
no means, to call in question what he says concerning 
our adversary the Devil. 

3. The history of this destroyer is altogether cred- 
ible, because it is completely interwoven with the his- 
tory of the Saviour. The first account of the Devil 
stands immediately connected with the first account of 
Christ. The sacred historian first relates the agency 
of the Devil in the seduction and ruin of man; and 
then introduces the Mediator, who should destroy the 
works of the Devil, by restoring man to the divine fa- 
vour. At the same time, it is foretold, that there should 
be a constant contest between Satan and Christ, until 
the latter should finish the work of redemption. And 
according to the history of the Devil, he has been con- 
tinually opposing Christ and his cause in the world; 
and he will persist in his opposition until the work of 

70 SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 

redemption is completed, and the final sentence is pas- 
sed upon the impenitent at the last day: "Depart ye 
cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and 
his angels." Thus the history of the Devil is inter- 
woven with the scriptural account of all the most im- 
portant events, which have taken place, from the begin- 
ning of time, and vvhich shall take place till time is np 
more. Indeed his history is inseparably connected with 
the whole history of the Bible, and cannot be rejected, 
without destroying the credibility of all sacred history. 
If we must believe any thing recorded in the Bible, we 
certainly must believe the history of the Devil, which 
stands upon the broad foundation of divine revelation 
in general: especially if we consider once more, 

4. That there is nothing absurd in the scriptural ac- 
count of the Devil. We can form clear and distinct 
ideas of such a being as the Devil is represented to be. 
We can conceive of God as an invisible spirit; we can 
conceive of angels as invisible spirits; and we can con- 
ceive of our own souls as invisible spirits; we can, 
therefore, as easily conceive of the spirituality and in- 
visibility of Satan. Nor is it less easy to conceive 
of his perfect malignity. This is the very disposition 
of our world, which lies in wickedness. But it is often 
said, that there is something absurd and incredible in 
the account of the Devil's tempting mankind to sin. 
This part of his history, however, coroborates and es- 
tablishes the whole. Why should the Devil be once 
mentioned in the Bible, if he were only an idle spectator 
of human affairs? Or why should so many warnings 
and admonitions be given to mankind to avoid and 
resist the influence, if he had no power to lead them 
into temptation? But if, on the other hand, he is their 
grand adversary, who is continually seeking to seduce 
and destroy them; then there is a great propriety iji 

SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 71 

their being so repeatedly and solemnly cautioned to 
resist his dangerous assaults. 

-But to come more directly to the point, I would 
observe, that we often experience something as diffi- 
cult to explain, as the temptations of Satan. While 
our external senses are completely locked up, in a 
dream, we can see persons, and converse with them, 
and distinguish their features and dress. This is 
something more than barely thinking of such persons 
at a distance, while we are awake, and something ex- 
tremely hard to account for. It is, perhaps, quite as 
easy to conceive how Satan should suggest thoughts 
to our minds, without the aid of our external senses, 
while we are awake; as to conceive how any agent 
should be able to make us see, and hear, and converse, 
in our sleep. Whoever can give a clear and rational 
account of dreaming, we doubt not, can give as clear 
and rational account of the power of Satan to suggest 
temptations to the human mind. But however mys- 
terious it may be, that Satan should have access to our 
minds, yet it seems to be confirmed by daily experi- 
ence. Why is the chain of our thoughts so often 
and so suddenly broken? Why do new, unconnect- 
ed, and unexpected thoughts so frequently rush into 
our minds? Why do thoughts, which the mind ab- 
hors and endeavours to banish forever, so repeatedly 
and repeatedly recur? These things favour the account, 
which the scripture gives of Satan's tempting power 
over us. And they afford all the evidence of it, that 
we could expect to have from actual experience. We 
cannot suppose that the operations of an invisible 
agent should be sensibly perceived, but only the effects 
of his operations; and these are, perhaps, very general- 
ly and sensibly perceived. But whether we perceive 
the effects of Satan's agency upon our minds or not, 

72 SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 

or whether we can account for his producing such ef- 
fects or not; there is nothing absurd or contrary to 
reason and experience, in the plain account, which 
God has given us, of his seducing influence. God is 
perfectly acquainted with all the powers of our mali- 
cious adversary, and all the avenues to our minds. If 
Satan can suggest thoughts to us, or paint objects on 
our imagination. God knows it; and we must believe, 
that he never would have warned us to resist the Dev- 
il, if he had no power to tempt us to evil. In a word, 
we have no reason to doubt, but every reason to be- 
lieve the account, which God has given us of the ex- 
istence, character, and conduct of Satan, who goes 
about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 


1. What has been said in this discourse, may serve 
to expose some false notions, which have been enter- 
tained and advanced, concerning the origin and opera- 
tions of the Devil. Some have supposed, that he is 
not a created but an uncreated and self-existent Spirit, 
who has always been opposing the designs and opera- 
tions of the Creator and Governour of the world. 
They cannot account for the numerous natural and 
moral evils, which so generally prevail, without the 
supposition of an eternal malevolent being, who is the 
first author of all the sin and misery in the universe. 
And they refer to several passages of scripture in sup- 
port of this opinion. It is true, we read in the eighth 
of John, ''He was a murderer from the beginning.^^ 
And in the first epistle of the same apostle, "He that 
committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth 
from the beginning" Again we are told, that the 
devil is the god of this world, and that he sotcecl icires 
among the wheat, by which are meant wicked men. 

SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 73 

None of these texts necessarily imply, that the devil 
has an underived existence, or omnipotent power. 
His being a murderer and sinning from the beginning 
implies nothing more, than his being the first sinner 
and the first tempter to sin. And his sowing tares 
among the wheat is to be understood figuratively, as 
denoting his agency in tempting men to wickedness in 
general, and to a false profession of religion in particu- 
lar. This appears to be the true construction of the 
passages of scripture under consideration; and accor- 
ding to this construction, they serve to illustrate and 
confirm the scriptural acrount of the devil, which 
has been given in this discourse. 

Some who acknovv^Iedge the existence of Satan, 
seem to think he has little or no concern in leading 
men into moral evil. They say the native corruption 
of the human heart will account for all, or nearly all 
the sins which are committed, without any tempta- 
tions of the devil. But it ought to be considered, that 
a general propensity to sin will not lead any person to 
any particular sin, without a particular motive or 
temptation to that particular sin. There must always 
be some objective motive presented to the view of the 
mind, in order to excite or draw forth the native de- 
pravity of the heart. The worst man on earth will 
neither curse nor swear, neither cheat nor lie, neither 
steal nor kill, without some particular motive or temp- 
tation to commit either of these gross immoralities. 
Satan knows, therefore, that he has no ground to ex- 
pect any man will commit any particular sin, which 
he desires he should commit, unless he suggests a par- 
ticular motive or temptation to that particular sin. 
He tempted David to number Israel, because he sup- 
posed he would not number them, unless he led him 

into that sin, by a suitable temptation. He acted in 

U SERMON iV. 1 Pet. v, ^. 

that case, upon the same ground that wicked men act/ 
when they tempt one another to sin. Though they 
know each other to be extremely corrupt, yet they 
think it is necessary to tempt, persuade, and seduce 
one another to particular acts of wickedness. There 
is, therefore, just as much occasion for Satan's tempt- 
ing men to sin, as for their tempting one another. It 
IS true, there may be much moral evil committed, 
without his agency, since there are so many other ob- 
jects and agents which may present temptation. But 
since he actually desires to destroy mankind, we may 
well suppose, that he emploj^s all his malice and subtilty 
to involve them in sin and ruin. Still some may say, 
the Devil is not omnipresent, he cannot be every 
where at once, nor tempt more than one person at one 
time; and, therefore, it must be very seldom that he 
tempts the same person, and never, perhaps, the larg- 
est part of mankind. There would be some plausi- 
bility in this objection, were there but one evil Spirit 
to tempt the children of disobedience. But it appears 
from what has been said, that Satan is at the head of 
myriads of impure spirits, who are united with him 
and act under him, in tempting and deceiving the 
world; and he may employ as many millions in his 
service, as there are millions of men in this state of 
probation. If every heir of salvation has a good angel 
to attend him, as the scripture seems to intimate; why 
should it be thought absurd to suppose, that there is 
an evil angel, who occasionally if not constantly at- 
tends every impenitent sinner on the face of the earth? 
There is a perfect consistency in all the scripture says 
concerning the apostacy of the Devil and his angels, 
feheir malignant nature, and destiuctive infiLience upon 
the minds of men: and whoever v/ill fairly and can- 
didly consider the subject, will fmd every shadow of 

SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 75 

objection entirely vanish. Tinose who indulge doubts 
and difiiculties upon this point, "give place to the Dev- 
il," who wishes to keep them in ignorance and unbe- 
lief of his devices, that he may lead them captive at 
his will. 

2. It appears from what has been said in this dis- 
course, that the denial of the existence and operations 
of the Devil directly tends to total infidelity. There 
are many truths contained in the Bible, which men 
may disbelieve, without entertaining the least doubt of 
the plenary Inspiration of that sacred volume. But to 
deny the truth of what is so plainly and abundantly 
revealed concerning the existence and agency of Satan, 
strikes at the root of divine revelation. The history 
of the Devil is so interwoven with the facts which the 
scripture records and with the doctrines which it 
teaches, that whoever denies the existence and agency 
of that great Adversary, who is said to involve the 
world in sin and misery, must naturally and necessa- 
rily consider the gospel, or the whole scheme of re- 
demption, as a cunningly devised fable. Accordingly 
we find that Deists, who are professed infidels, openly 
reject and ridicule the notion of the existence and 
temptations of Satan. And those who are leaning to- 
wards infidelity, such as Universalists and Socinians, 
call in question not only what the Bible teaches con- 
cerning the Devil's tempting the hearts and possessing 
the minds of men, but also declares concerning 
the existence of evil spirits in general. Reason, obser- 
vation, and experience unitedly testify, that those, who 
deny the scriptural account of the Devil, are taking 
large strides towards complete infidelity. It is, there- 
fore, very alarming, that such an anti-scriptural senti- 
ment is so openly avowed and propagated at the pres- 
ent day of error and delusion. There is just ground 

76 SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 

to feaFj that many unsanctified and unthinking per- 
sons will be entirely ruined, before they even suspect 
that they are in the path of the destroyer. 

3. If the Bible gives a true description of the Devil; 
then he undoubtedly does all in his power to make 
men infidels. He knows the gospel has a direct ten- 
dency to defeat all his malignant designs, and, unless 
he can prevent men from believing it, he must inevit- 
ably fall before its powerful influence. Our Saviour 
says he felt this effect, when he sent forth his seventy 
apostles to preach the gospel in his name. "And the 
seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the 
devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he 
eaid unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from 
heaven." The Devil has, from the beginning of the 
world to this day, endeavoured to prevent mankind 
from believing the word of God. By this artifice he 
ruined our first parents. By this artifice he destroyed 
Ahab. By this artifice he attempted to deceive Christ 
himself, and defeat the design of his mediatorial 
work. As he is an acute and subtile reasoner, so he 
is capable of suggesting the most sophistical arguments 
against divine Revelation. His enmity to the gospel 
naturally prompts him to employ this method to sub- 
vert it, whenever he sees any prospect of success. 
How often does he suggest doubts to the minds of 
both saints and sinners, respecting the Inspiration of 
the Scriptures? How often does he help the promo- 
ters of infidelity to the most plausible and delusive ar- 
guments, to pervert the doctrines and subvert the first 
principles of Christianity? His agency is often very 
visible in the writing's and reasoninos of Infidels. At 
the present day, the enemies of the gospel appear to 
be under a more than common influence of the great 
Deceiver. It seems to be his main object, to spread 

SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 7? 

infidelity through all the christian world, and his suc- 
cess is extremely great and alarming. 

4. h' the Devil has such power and inclination to 
tempt and deceive mankind, as the Scripture repre- 
sents; then we may learn why they so often go beyond 
their intentions and expectations in sinning. When 
they commit a sin once, they have no thought of 
committing it again; or when they indulge themselves 
in one sinful practice, they have no thought of going 
into another. They intend and expect to set bounds ' 
to their sinning. This is always the case with young 
sinners, and not uncommonly the case with declining 
and backsliding professors. But Satan knows the 
natural connexion between the beginning and the 
continuance in sin, and between one course of sinning 
and another. When he has tempted them to begin 
iniquity, he knows he has them on his own ground 
and in his own power, and neglects no opportunity 
of leading them, step by step into that path, which he 
imagines will most infallibly prove their ruin. Though 
they may be, at certain times, alarmed at the progress 
they have made in sins of omission and commission; 
yet he can easily allay their fears, and push them on 
in their usual course of negligence and disobedience. 
How many has he led from lying to cheating, from 
cheating to stealing, and from stealing to murder? 
How many has he led from Arminianism to Arian- 
ism, from Arianism to Socinianism, from Socinianisms 
to Deism, and from Deism to Atheism and total Skep- 
ticism? And how many has he led in a more insen- 
sible way to ruin, by first tempting them to neglect 
prayer, next reading the Bible, next hearing the gos- 
pel preached, and finally the whole concern of their 
souls? It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to 
account for the high-handed crimes, the absurd errorSj, 

fS SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 

and the general security and stupidity of mankind un- 
der the gospel, without the instrumentality of the Dev- 
il, who always lies in wait to destroy them. But it is 
easy to see how they are carried beyond their inten- 
tions, resolutions, and expectations in their sinful ways, 
through his subtile and powerful temptations. His 
seductive agency will account for the sins of Adam, 
Noah, and Lot, Moses, David, and Solomon, Ahito- 
phel, Jeroboam, and Judas, the idolatry of the Heath- 
ens, and the degeneracy, delusion, and infidelity of 
millions in the Christian world. 

Finally, this subject admonishes all persons of eve- 
ry age and character, to guard againt the fatal influ- 
ence of their common adversary the Devil. His in- 
visibility, subtilty, and malignity, render him a most 
dangerous enemy. He has slain his thousands and 
ten thousands, and still walks about seeking whom he 
may devour. None, while they remain in this im- 
perfect state, are beyond the reach of his fiery darts 
and evil suggestions. Though saints have been turn- 
ed from darkness to light and from the power of Sa- 
tan UDto God, and translated into the kingdom of his 
dear Son; yet they ars still exposed to the assaults of 
the Devil, who wishes to molest, disturb, and injure 
those, whom he knows he cannot finally destroy. It 
highly concerns them to use every proper method to 
resist the Devil, that he may flee from them. 

In the first place, let them live in the habitual exer- 
cise of sobriety. "Be sober," is the divine direction 
to christians. While they maintain sobriety, the ad- 
versary knows they are guarded v/ithin against any 
temptation he can suggest. But when he sees them 
in a light and airy humour, he knows they lie open 
to his malignant influence, and will by no means fail 
to improve such a favourable opportunity of trying 

SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 79 

the strength of their graces, by holding up a tempta- 
tion exactly suited to the present state of their minds. 
Whether the levity of christians arises from their nat- 
ural disposition, or from the company they are called 
to keep, or from a particular and occasional relaxa- 
tion of their minds, it always exposes them to the as- 
saults of Satan, who knows w"hen, and w^here, and to 
whom to present temptations. He is so w ell acquaint- 
ed with mankind in general, and with particular per- 
sons, that he can pretty certainly determine, when 
they are in a state of gravity or levity; and, of conse- 
quence, when he can attack them to the best advan- 
tage. This ought to excite the children of God, to 
maintain a constant and habitual sobriety or self-pos- 
session, that they may escape or repel the fiery darts 
of the wicked one. 

In the next place, it behoves them to live in the ex- 
ercise of vigilance as well as sobriety. Hence says 
the apostle, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your ad- 
versary the devil, walketh about seeking whom he 
may devour." A watchful enemy needs to be watch- 
ed. Christians should realize, at all times and in all 
places, that they are continually attended by a subtile 
and invisible foe, who is incessantly bent upon draw- 
ing them into his snares. Here they are extremely 
apt to fail, and give Satan an advantage of doing 
them a great deal of mischief. It is for want of cau- 
tion and vigilance agairist his influence, that they of- 
ten suffer so much from him, without knowing from 
whence the evil comes. They ascribe to other causes, 
what is the effect of his malignant suggestions. How 
many doubts, and fears, and anxieties, and follies, 
and sins, might they escape, by watching over their 
own hearts, and propeily avoiding every thing, which 

8d SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 

they have found Satan has employed to lead them 

But though sobriety and vigilance will have a great 
tendency to preserve them from the temptations of the 
Devil; yet they need something else to defend them- 
selves against his violent assaults. And the best 
weapon they can possess and employ is the word of 
God. By this weapon > our Saviour gained the victo- 
ry in the hour of temptation. Satan quoted Scrip- 
ture to seduce him from his duty; and Christ quoted 
Scripture, which at once condemned and defeated his 
design. Let christians follow this example of the great 
Captain of their salvation, and foil Satan with his own 
weapon. Let them diligently read and carefully treas- 
ure up the doctrines, the precepts, and the promises of 
the gospel, that they may always be prepared to dis- 
cover the devices of the Devil, and resist all his efforts 
to lead them into the belief of error, or the practice 
of sin. 

Though these are some of tlie best means they can 
use to overcome the tempter; yet, if they would ensure 
success, they must sincerely implore the aid and in- 
fluence of Him, who is stronger than the strong man 
armed. It ought to be daily their heart's desire and 
prayer to God, that he would not "lead them into 
temptation, but deliver them from evil." He is able 
to prevent their being tempted above what they are 
able to bear, and with every temptation to make a 
way for their escape. In a word, let them seriously 
ponder and cordially obey the solemn exhortation of 
the Apostle upon this subject. "Finally, my brethren, 
be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be 
able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we 
wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against prin- 

SERMON IV. 1 Pet. v, 8. 81 

cipalities, against powers, against the rulers of the 
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in 
high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole 
armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in 
the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand 
therefore having your loins girt about with truth, and 
having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your 
feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 
above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye 
shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wick- 
ed. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword 
of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying al- 
ways with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, 
and watching thereunto with all perseverance." 

But the case of sinners is more alarnung, and calls 
for a more solemn admonition to duty. They are 
dead in trespasses and sins, and wholly under the 
dominion of the god of this 'world, the spirit that now 
worketh in the children of disobedience. He is con- 
stantly endeavouring to blind their minds, harden 
their hearts, and stupi fy their consciences. Hence 
says the apostle, "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to 
them that are lost: in whom the god of this world 
hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest 
the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the 
image of God, should shine unto them." It is in vain 
to exhort sinners to resist the Devil, who is seeking, 
not only to injure them in time, but to destroy them 
in eternity, while they remain his cordial subjects, 
and unite with him in opposing God and the whole 
Scheme of redemption. Their first and indispensable 
duty is to renounce the spirit and kingdom of Satan, 
and cordially embrace the gospel. And as soon aa 
they turn from darkness to light, and from the power 

of Satan unto God, they will have the power and 

B2 SERMON IV. 1 P^T. V, 8. 

grace of the Almighty engaged to guard them from 
their mortal enemy. But if they will reject the coun- 
sel of God against themselves, and walk in the paths 
of the Destroyer, th^y must expect to hear that awful 
sentence denounced against them at the great and 
last day, "Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting 
fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'* 




Luke ii, 34, 35. 
And Simeon blessed iliem^ and said unto Mary his 
mother^ Behold, this child is set for the fall and 
rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign that 
shall he spoken agq>inst; (yea, a sword shall pierce 
through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of 
many hearts may be revealed. 

THOUGH Christ was born in a low and obscure 
condition; yet never, perhaps, did two parents in Is- 
rael perform the rite of dedication with such emotions 
of heart, as Joseph and Mary felt, when they appear- 
ed in the temple, and publicly consecrated to God 
their Child, their Saviour, and their Sovereign. At the 
same time, good old Simeon came in, and raised the 
tide of their affections. After praising God for the 
long expected Messiah, and for the opportunity of see- 
ing the young Redeemer, he addressed the mother of 
our Lord in the words \ have read. "Behold, this 
child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Is- 
rael, and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 
that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." 
It appears from this declaration, which was made un- 
der a divine impulse, th?*t it was the design of God, in 
exhibiting the Son of his love before his people Israel, 
to try their hearts and fix their final state. And we 
must suppose, that he means to answer the same im- 
portant purpose, from age to age, by exhibiting the 
character and conduct of the blessed Saviour before 
the minds of men, through the medium of the gospel 

84 SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 

This, therefore, is the truth to be illustrated in the 
present discourse, 

l^hat God exhibits Christ before the minds of men, 
in order to try their hearts and fix their future state. 

This subject naturally divides itself into two 
branches, which require a distinct consideration. 

I. Let us consider, that God exhibits Christ before 
the minds of men, in order to try their hearts. 

1. The truth of this observation appears from what 
the prophets foretold concernipg the feelings and con- 
duct of men towards the Messiah, when he should 
make his appearance in the flesh, and perform his 
mediatorial work among them. David predicted, that 
he would alarm the fears, and awaken the enmity and 
opposition of the world against him. "Why do the 
heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers 
take counsel together, against the Lord, and against 
his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asun- 
der, and cast away their cords from us." After this, 
he foretold the language and feelings of Christ under 
the cruel hands of his implacable enemies. In the 
name of the suffering Saviour he said, "Many bulls 
have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have be- 
set me round. They gaped upon me with their 
mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poure^ 
out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my 
heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bow- 
els. The assembly of tlie wicked have enclosed me: 
they pierced my hands and my feet. They part my 
garnients among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.'' 
This was a plain prediction of the feelings and conduct 
of the crucifiers of Christ, who were highly incensed 
against him, on account of the doctrines which he 
taught, and the claims which he maide to equality 

SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 85 

with the Father. Isaiah also foretold the contempt 
and cruelty with which Christ would be treated, in the 
days of his humanity. *'He shall grow up as a tender 
plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no 
form nor comeliness: and when we shall see him, 
there is no beauty that we should desire him. He 
is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, 
and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our 
face from him: he was despised, and we esteemed him 
not. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he 
opened not his mouth; he was brought as a lamb to 
the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is 
dumb, so he opened not his mouth." The prophets 
were inspired to foretel these effects of Christ's appear- 
ance in the flesh, because God intended, bv brinorinjr 
him into the world, to try the hearts of men, and 
draw forth those feelings which they really possessed, 
jjut were unwilling to acknowledge. 

2. It appears from the history of Christ, that he 
fulfilled the predictions which went before concerning 
him, and tried the hearts of all, who either heard him 
preach, or saw his miracles, or were any way ac- 
quainted with him. He was a sign universally spoken 
against. Herod and all Jerusalem were alarmed at 
the news of his birth, and began to speak and act 
against him, even before they saw him. When he 
appeared as a preacher, he tried the hearts of all who 
attended his public or private discourses. Some said, 
he spake as never man spake; but others said, he de- 
ceived the people. Some heard him gladly; but others 
heard him with disgust and indignation. Some ad- 
mired his miracles; but others despised and blasphem- 
ed them. Some said, God was with him; but others 
gaid, he was assisted by Satan. He tried multitudes 
by his crucifixion, as well as by his miracles and 

86 SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 

preaching. Then, like a sword, he pierced the heart 
of his mother, and of his peculiar friends and follow- 
ers. Then, he tried the hearts of the two malefactors, 
who suffered and died by his side. Then, he tried 
the hearts of his murderers, and made it appear, that 
they were more cruel than the savage beasts of prey. 
Then, he tried the hearts of all the spectators of that 
solemn scene, who were very differently affected by 
the awful spectacle of his death. He constrained them 
all to express their real feelings on that extraordinary 
occasion. While some railed and some mocked, the 
centurion glorified God, saying, certainly this was a 
righteous man. And all the people that came togeth- 
er to that sight, beholding the things that were done, 
smote their breasts, and returned. Christ was like a 
fuller's soap, and a refiner's fire. He tried the hearts 
of thousands, both while he lived and when he died. 
He was always saying, or doing something, which had 
a direct tendency to try the hearts of all his friends 
and foes. 

3. The exhibition of Christ after his death through 
the medium of the gospel, tried the hearts of the whole 
Jewish nation. When the day of Pentecost was fully 
come, and the apostles were properly prepared to ex- 
hibit a crucified Saviour, his character impressed the 
minds and tried the hearts of all who heard them 
preach. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were univer- 
sally affected. While thousands believed and rejoic- 
ed, fear came upon every soul, who despised and re- 
jected the offers of mercy in the name of Christ. 
While some rose and some fell; while some were en- 
lightened and some blinded; while some praised and 
some blasphemed the divine Redeemer, every heart 
in Jerusalem was tried. After this, the gospel was 
carried to Samaria, and to all parts of Judea, where i^ 

SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. &T 

produced the same different effects, which it had pro- 
duced in Jerusalem. It tried the hearts of believers 
and of unbelievers, and completely prepared the nation 
in general to be cut off and dispersed through the* 
world. The exhibition of Christ, by the gospel, dis- 
closed the secrets of their hearts, demonstrated their 
bl'mdness, stupidity, and unbelief, which justified God 
in taking the gospel from them, and sending it to oth- 
er nations, who would give it a better reception. And 
when the apostles carried the gospel to other nations, 
and exhibited the character of Christ before them, he 
was precious to those who believed; but to those who 
disbelieved, he was a stone of stumbling, and a rock 
of offence. So that he was for the falling and rising 
of many among the Gentiles, as well as among the 

4. Ever since the days of the Apostles, the charac- 
ter of Christ displayed in the gospel, has tried the 
hearts of the whole Christian world. Though many 
nations and kingdoms have been gospelized, yet only 
a few individuals have sincerely embraced the Saviour. 
Myriads and myriads of mankind, in the course of near 
two thousand years, have been invited to believe in 
Christ, but yet have despised him, and practically 
judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. The 
hearts of all these havo been tried, and proved to be 
totally corrupt, by exhibiting Christ crucified before 
their eyes. How many have risen by looking to 
Christ? and how many have fallen, by looking/rom 
him? But none have believed nor disbelieved, and 
none have risen nor fallen, differently from what God 
intended, by the exhibition of Christ through the 

5. It appears from the very character of Christ, 
that he cannot be exhibited to the minds of men, with- 

SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 

out trying their hearts. His character, above all oth- 
ers, is adapted to draw forth the feelings of the human 
heart. It is not only supremely excellent, but infi- 
nitely interesting to all intelligent beings, and especially 
to mankind. None of the human race can view it 
with indifference. The child that was born in Beth- 
lehem, that was consecrated to God in the temple, 
that came to manhood in Nazareth, that preached in 
Judea, that died without the gates of Jerusalem, that 
arose from the dead, and ascended up to heaven; that 
very same person was the mighty God, the Prince of 
peace, the Lord of glory, the Governour of the universe, 
and the supreme Judge of all intelligent and account- 
able creatures. Every human heart must be for, or 
against this great and illustrious Personage. Wherev- 
er he is exhibited in all his excellencies, offices, and 
designs, he must necessarily try the hearts of men in 
some very important respects. 

And, first, in regard to God. In Christ dwells all 
the fulness of the Godhead bodily. He is the bright- 
ness of his Father's glory, and the express image of 
his person. Though united with humanity, he neces- 
sarily possesses and displays all the perfections of his 
Father. This justified him in saying to his disciplesj 
"If ye had known me, ye should have known my 
Father also." Wherever Christ is exhibited, he re- 
veals the character and counsels of God. "The Son, 
who is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared him." ^ 
God, therefore, by exhibiting Christ in the gospel, 
tries the heiirts of men in respect to himself. He cer- 
tainly made it appear, that the Jews were his enemies, 
by the instrumentality of Christ. They had long 
professed to be the friends of God, and to desire the 
coming of the promised Messiah; but when he came 
and displayed his Father's character, they fully mani- 

SERMON V. Luke ii, 54, 65. 89 

fested the enmity of their hearts towards both him 
and his Father. When he preached at Nazareth, and 
taught the sovereignty of God in the dispensation of 
his favours, they were extremely exasperated And 
whenever he brought the divine character into view, 
whether in his public or private discourses, it never 
failed to excite their bitter reproach and resentment* 
Hence he plainly told them, "If God were your Fa- 
ther, ye w^ould love me: for I proceeded forth and 
came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent 
me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even 
because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your 
father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will 
do. And because I tell you the truth ye believe me 
not. He that is of God, heareth God's words: ye 
therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 
Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that 
thou hast a devil." Upon their saying this, our Sav- 
iour turned to his apostles, and forewarned them of 
the treatment which they should receive from those, 
to whom they should preach the gospel of God. 'But 
all these things will they do unto you for my name's 
sake, because they .know not him that sent me. If I 
had not come and spoken unto them, they had not 
had sin: but now they have no cloak for their 
sin: He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. 
If I had not done among them the works which none 
other man did, they had not had sin: but now have 
they both seen and hated both me and my Father." 
If God had never set up his son as a sign to be spoken 
against and opposed, it never would have appeared, 
in fact, that all men have, by nature, a mortal enmity 
against God, and would, if possible, actually destroy 
his existence. But by the crucifixion of the holy 

child Jesus, who was the Lord of glory, men's mortpil 

90 SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 

enmity to God has been clearly revealed, and will 
continue to be revealed, wherever the gospel is preach- 
ed and the character of Christ is exhibited. His char- 
acter will always display the character of God, and, of 
consequence, draw forth the native malignity of man- 
kind towards the supreme Sovereign of the universe. 

In the second place, the exhibition of Christ neces- 
sarily discovers the secrets of men's hearts towards 
themselves, as well as towards God. Christ in the 
course of his life, and more especially at his death, 
laid open the guilt and ill desert of sinners. He told 
them in plain terms, that they were serpents, and a 
generation of vipers, who deserved the damnation of 
hell; and be confirmed these declarations, by his suf- 
ferings and death on the cross. Before he appeared 
on earth, the false prophets and blind guides had 
daubed with untempercd mortar, and led sinners to 
entertain a high opinion of the purity of their hearts. 
But he exposed their inward turpitude, selfishness, and 
hypocrisy; which,in words,they denied and resented,but, 
in conduct clearly expressed. Tlie life of Christ con- 
demned the lives of sinners, the preaching of Christ 
condemned the hearts of sinners, and the death of 
Christ demonstrated, that they deserved the wrath of 
God both in this life and in that which is to come. 
And the gospel, which contains the history of the 
character, conduct, and sufferings of Christ for this re- 
bellious world, is a mirror in which all may discover 
their moral depravity and just desert of eternal des- 
truction. God means, by exhibiting Christ through 
the gospel, to undeceive men with respect to them- 
selves, and make them sensible of their guilty and 
wretched condition. 

Besides, thirdly, the exhibition of Christ as a me- 
diator, discovers men's feelings in regard to the 
terms of salvation. God has made love to the 

SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 91 

person and character of Christ an indispensable 
condition of granting pardon to sinners. He declares, 
wherever he sends the gospel, that "whosoever believ- 
eth shall be saved; but whosoever believeth not shall 
be damned." And he says, "if any man love not the 
Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maran-atha." 
By thus exhibiting Christ as the sole foundation of 
forgiveness, he tries the hearts of sinners respecting 
their willingness to be saved. They naturally imagine, 
that they are very willing to accept of salvation; but 
when the true character of Christ is displayed, and 
love to his character is proposed as the term of divine 
acceptance, then the secrets of their hearts are disclos- 
ed, and they find that they would rather die eternally, 
than submit to that condition. Our Lord told sinners 
in his day, that they would not come unto him, that 
they might have life. And he illustrated this, by sev- 
eral striking parables; especially by the parable of the 
marriage feast, in which he 'represented those that 
were invited, as refusing to attend; and by the parable 
of the vineyard, in which he represented the husband- 
men, as defrauding the owner, abusing his servants, 
and slaying his Son. The same spirit of opposition 
to the terms of the gospel still reigns in the hearts of 
sinners. So that God still tries, and will continue to 
try their hearts, by exhibiting Christ as the way, the 
truth, and the life, and the only name given under 
heaven through which they can find favour in his sight. 
The next thing proposed is' 

II. To show that God tries the hearts of men 
through the medium of Christ, in order to fix their 
future and final state. "Behold, this child is set for 
the fall and rising 'again of many." God intends to 
make men happy or miserable forever, according 
to the feelings of their hearts towards the Son of his 

92 SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 

love. This Christ expressly and abundantly taught in 
the course of his ministry. He said, "The Father lov- 
eth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: but 
he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the 
wrath of God abideth on him." Indeed, the whole 
New Testament represents God as determining to fix 
the eternal condition of all men under the gospel, ac- 
cording to their receiving or rejecting the Saviour 
whom he has provided. And we find this important 
truth confirmed by many plain and solemn facts. God 
fixed the final state of the inhabitants of Capernaum, 
Chorazin, and Bethsaida, according to their internal 
feelings and external conduct towards Christ. They 
finally fell, by opposing and rejecting his holy child 
Jesus. God fixed the final state of the Jewish nation 
according to their treatment of Christ. It was for 
their violent opposition to Jesus of Nazareth, and their 
avowed unbelief, that he cut them off, and cast them 
out of his vineyard. Christ was verily set for the fall of 
the Jews, and the rising of the Gentiles. And God is 
now exhibiting Christ before men, in order to fix their 
eternal state. He means to save, or destroy them, ac- 
cordingly as they receive, or reject him who died for 
them. Their views and feelings respecting Christ in 
time, are to determine what shall be their views and 
feelings to all eternity. 

And there appears to be a propriety in God's treat- 
ing men according to their love, or hatred of Christ, 
because their feelings towards Christ afford a proper 
criterion of their true characters. If they love Christ, 
they love God; but if they hate Christ, they hate God. 
If they love Christ, they love the good of the universe; 
but if they hate Chiist, they are enemies to all good. 
The character of Christ is the most infallible test of all 

SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 93 

human characters. And by fixing the final state of 
all who enjoy tlic gospel, according to their love, or 
hatred of Christ, God will justify his conduct before 
the eyes of all intelligent beings. Saints and angels 
will approve of his fnially rejecting those, who hated 
Christ without a cause; and the finally miserable them- 
selves will be constrained to approve of his saving 
those, who loved the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. 


I. Since it is God's design in exhibiting Christ be- 
fore men, to try their hearts and prepare them for their 
final state, it becomes the ministers of the gospel to 
make Christ the main subject of their preaching. His 
character, in all its branches, runs through the whole 
of divine revelation, and comprises the essence of the 
gospel. It is impossible to preach the gospel, in all 
its weight and importance, without bringing Christ in- 
to view, as the only name given under heaven among 
men, whereby they can be saved. This was the con- 
stant practice of the Apostles, who were able and faith- 
ful ministers of the New Testament. They ceased 
not to teach and preach Jesus Christ on every occa- 
sion. Yea, they determined to know nothing among 
their hearers, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. Ac- 
cordingly we find, that theii- preaching had a most 
powerful effect. By preaciiing Christ, Peter con- 
verted three thousand souls at one time. By 
preaching Christ, Stephen cut his hearers to the 
heart. And by preaching the unsearchable riches 
of Christ, Pviul approved himself to every man's 
conscience in the sight of God, and converted 
myriads among both Jews and Gentiles. If ministers 
mean to be faithful to God and to the souls of men, 
they must follow the example of the apostles, and 
make Christ the primary subject of their preach- 

SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35 

ing. This will make their discourses reach the hearts 
and consciences of their hearers, and cause the most 
stubboi'n sinners to tremble, and cry out, in anxiety 
and distiess. What must we do to be saved? And this 
will make them become unto God a sweet savour of 
Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish. 
2. If it be God's desio-n in exhibitins: Christ before 
men, to tiy their hearts and prepare them for their 
fmal state; then it is much to be desired, that the gos- 
pel should be preached to all nations. There is no 
ground to hope, that any of the Heathens will be sav- 
ed, while they remain totally ignorant of the only true 
God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. It does not 
appear from the past dispensations of grace, that God 
ever sends his Spirit where he does not send his gospel. 
Thougii the apostle declai'es, "There is no difference 
between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord 
over all is rich unto all that call upon him;" 3'et he de- 
mands, "How then shall theycall on him in whom they 
have not believed? and how shall they believe in him 
of Vv'hom they have not heard? and how shall they 
hear without a preacher?" I'he whole tenor of scripture 
plainly intimates, that all, who are living in Pagan 
darkness, are strangers to the covenants of promise, 
and without God, without Christ, and without hope 
in the world. It is, therefore, as much to be desired, 
that these guilty and miserable creatures should have 
the gospel preached to them, as that they should escape 
the wrath to come, and secure the salvation of their 
souls. If the character of Christ were exhibited to 
them, they would have an opportunity of exercising 
that faith, without which it is impossible to please 
God, and obtain eternal life. For faith cometh by 
hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Though 
God intends to give unto his Son the heathen for his 
inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for 

SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 95 

his possession; yet there is no g-round to expect this de- 
sirable event, until the \vay is prepared by the univer- 
sal spread of the gospel. If christians did but duly re- 
alize, that it is only in Christ, that God means to rec- 
oncile the world to himself, they would be more zeal- 
ously engaged to send the gospel of his grace into all 
the dark corners of the earth. Were there to be a 
general diffusion of gospel light through the heathen 
world, there is abundant reason to hope, that God 
would make the knowledge of Christ a savour of life 
unto life to those who are perishing for the lack of 
vision. It becomes all tiie friends of Zion to pray, that 
God would make known his way upon earth, and his 
saving health among all nations. For he has assured 
them, that their prayers and exertions are necessary to 
bring about this great and glorious event. 

3. If God means to try the hearts of men and pre- 
pare them fi)r their final ^tate, through the medium of 
the gospel; then he has an important purpose to answer, 
by sending it where he knows it will be rejected. 
Though he clearly foresaw and predicted, that the in- 
habitants of Judea would generally shut their e^'es, 
and stop their ears, and harden their hearts, under the 
preachijig of the gospel; yet he commanded the apos- 
tles to begin their ministry at Jerusalem, and make 
the first offer of salvation to the Jews. And when 
the gospel had tried their hearts and produced the ef- 
fect foretold, Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, 
"It was necessary that the word of God should Jirst 
be s[)oken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and 
judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn 
to the Gentiles." God meant to give his degenerate 
people a fair opportunity to see and hate both him and 
his Son, and in that way to ripen themselves for their 
final ruin. And he now puts the same { rice into the 

9d SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 

hands of those, who, he knows, will have no heart to 
improve it. I'he gospel is no less adapted to fit men 
for eternal misery, than for eternal happiness. This 
alarming truth the apostle Paul frequently exhibited 
in the most plain and striking light; and appealed to 
the consciences of men, whether God may not make 
the gospel a medium of destiuction to some, as well 
as a medium of salvation to others. '-Wiiat if God, 
willing to shew his wrath and make his power known, 
endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath 
fitted to destruction: and that he might make known 
the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which 
he had afore prepared unto glor^?" And again he 
asks, "What tlieif^ Israel hath not obtained that which 
he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and 
the rest were blinded." It seems to have given him 
great encouragement to preach the gospel, to be assur- 
ed, that it should be the mean of preparing both saints 
and sinners for their final state: "Now thanks be to 
God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ and 
maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in 
every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of 
Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish. 
To the one we are the savour of death unto death; 
and to the other; the savour of life unto life." The 
word of God never returns to him void, but always 
accomplishes his purpose of saving or destroying those, 
to whom he sends it. 

4. If the exhibition of Christ be designed to form 
men for their future and eternal state; then they are in 
a very solenm situation, while they are hearing the 
gospel. It is quick and powerful, and sharper than 
a two-edged sword. It will infallibly penetrate and 
try their hearts^^nd leave impressions there, which 
never can be eradicated. Though they may come to 

SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 97 

the house God for mere amusement, and hear the gos- 
pel with as much levity and indifference, as if they 
knew it were a cunningly devised fable, which could 
have no influence upon their future state; yet they will 
sooner or later feel the evil effects of their criminal stu- 
pidity and presumption. God told Ezekiel, that his 
vain and contemptuous hearers should reap the bitter 
fruits of their sm and folly, in despising his solemn 
messages. "Lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely 
song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play 
well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but 
they do them not. And when this cometh to pass, 
(lo, it will come) then shall they know that a prophet 
hath been among them^ And Christ forewarned 
his unbelieving hearers, that his word would not be 
lost upon them, but prove the ground of their final con- 
demnation. ''He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not 
my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that 
I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last 
day." Whenever sinners come within the walls of the 
sanctuary they are under a moral necessity of embrac- 
ing the gospel, or of rejecting the counsel of God 
against themselves, which is the most critical and in- 
teresting situation they can possibly be in, this side of 

5. If the gospel tries the hearts and forms the char- 
acters of those who hear it; then sinners may easily 
and insensibly fit themselves for destruction. Many 
seem to think, that the gospel will do them no harm 
unless they openly and violently oppose it. They 
flatter themselves, if they never say any thing against 
it, by way of complaint or contempt; but, on the other 
hand, treat it with respect, acknowledge it to be divine, 
and hear it with decency, they are in the fair way to 
salvation. They verily believe, that the Jews were 

9Q SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 

highly criminal for their violent opposition to Christy 
and the doctrines he taught; and they view all open 
infidels and scoffers as walking in the same broad road 
to destruction. But they mean to shun siich shocking 
examples, and pursue a more wise and prudent course 
as long as they live. They intend to sit and hear the 
gospel with as much patience as possible, and never 
suffer their hard thoughts and inward enmity to break 
out into open violence to Christ, or to those wha 
preach in his name. And so long as they constantly 
and seriously hear the gospel, they fondly hope it will 
prove a saving benefit to them. But this is a gross and 
dangerous delusion. Internal opposition to Christ is 
as fatal to the soul as external; and will as infallibly 
destroy it. How many serious, and apparently well dis- 
posed persons, sit under the gospel from sabbath to 
sabbath, with secret opposition to Christ, and to the 
way of salvation through his mediation and atonement? 
They see no form nor comeliness in him, wherefore 
they should desire him; but heartily hate his person, 
his doctrines, and his terms of mercy, which is a silent 
and insensible way to destruction. So long as sin- 
ners thus sit under gospel preaching, and hear and hate, 
hear and hate, hear and hate, they are constantly pre- 
paring, whether they realize it or not, to unite in the 
feelings, and share in the torments, of the incorrigible 
enemies of God, who shall lie down in everlasting 

6. We learn from what has been said in this dis- 
course, that ail who hear the go i^ pel may know, before 
they leave the world, what will be their future and final 
state. God has given them a glorious and iiifailible 
sigii. He has cleat ly exhibited the great and amiable 
character of the divine Redeemer, and told (hem, if 
they look at it and love it, they shall live; but if they 

SERMON V. Luke ii, 34, 35. 99 

look at it and hate it, they shall die? They have only 
to determine how they have felt or do feel in the view 
of the Saviour, and draw the inference justly in order 
to know with certainty, whether they are friends or 
enemies to God, and prepared to enjoy his favour, or 
feel his displeasure forever. If they love the Lord 
Jesus Christ in sincerity, they may assure themselves, 
that because he lives, they shall live: but if they re- 
main conscious of hating the Lord Jesus Christ, they 
may assure themselves, that because he lives, they 
must die. His character will be forever exhibited to 
the view of all intelligent creatures, and those who 
view it with complacency and delight, must be perfect- 
ly blessed; but those who view it with directly oppo- 
site feelings, must be conjpletely and forever miserablci 



Proverbs viii, 17. 
Hove them that love me. 

THIS is the language of divine wisdom, speaking 
throughout this chapter. It is not, however, very 
easy to determine whether divine wisdom is here to 
be taken in a figurative, or literal sense. Some sup- 
pose, that Solomon uses the term wisdom here, and 
in other parts of this Book, to denote true religion; 
or that wisdom, which is from above, which is first 
pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full 
of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and with- 
out hypocrisy. Some suppose, that the wisdom speak- 
ing in the text, is Jesus Christ, who is called the wis- 
dom of God. But some are more inclined to think, 
that wisdom is here personified and denotes God him- 
self, who is often represented by one of his essential 
attributes, as the Almighty, Holy one, &c. These 
several expositions of wisdom very nearly coincide, 
so that we cannot deviate from truth, by adopting 
either of them, though we may not exactly hit the 
precise meaning of the sacred writer. But I choose 
to consider God as speaking in the text, and saying, 
"I love them that love me." The plain and obvious 
import of this declaration is, 

That God loves none but such as first love him. 

To illustrate this subject, I shall, 

I. Show what kind of love God exercises towards 
them who love him. 

II. Consider what is implied in men's loving God. 

SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 101 

III. Inquire why God loves only such as first love 

I. I am to show what kind of love God bears to- 
wards them who love him. 

There is the love of benevolence, and the love of 
complacence. These two kinds of love are of the 
same nature, but distinguished by the objects upon 
which they terminate. The love of benevolence ter- 
minates upon percipient being, and extends to all sen- 
sitive natures, whether rational or irrational, whether 
they have a good, or bad, or no moral character. 
God desires and regards the good of all his creatures, 
from the highest angel to the lowest insect. His be- 
nevolence is bounded by nothing but an incapacity 
to enjoy happiness and suffer pain. He is good to the 
evil and to the unthankful; yea, he is good unto all, 
and his tender mercies are over all his works. Every 
creature has a share in his benevolent affections and 
his benevolent exertions, in exact proportion to his 
worth and importance in the scale of being. He so 
loved the whole wicked world as to give his only be- 
gotten Son, that whosoever belie veth in him should 
not perish, but have everlasting life. His love of be- 
nevolence extends to sinners, as well as to saints, to 
the worst, as well as to the best of mankind. But 
his love of complacence is wholly confined to moral 
beings, who are possessed of moral excellence. Noth- 
ing but virtue, or goodness, or real holiness is the ob- 
ject of his complacence. He loves holiness in himself, 
and wherever he finds it in any of his creatures. He 
sees it in all those who love him, and therefore he 
loves them, not only with benevolence, but with com- 
placence. When he says in the text, "I love them 
that love me," he means to declare, thut he feels that 
complacency towards those who love him, which he 

102 SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 

does not feel towards those who hate him. He loves 
those, who hate him, with the love of benevolence, 
but not with the love of complacence. It is, there- 
fore, the peculiar love of complacence, which God 
bears to them, and to them only, that love him. 

II, Let us consider what is implied in men's loving 

1. This implies some true knowledge of' his moral 
character. There is reason to fear, that many who 
live under the light of the gospel, and believe the ex- 
istence of God, yet have no just conceptions of his 
nature and moral attributes. Though they have some 
right apprehensions of his self-existence, independence, 
almighty power, and all his natural perfections; yet 
they are ready to imagine, that he is altogether such 
an one as themselves, in his views and feelings. But 
this is a great and dangerous mistake. God is love. 
He formed all his purposes from eternity, under the 
influence of pure, disinterested benevolence, and is 
imrautcibly determined to govern all events, and to 
dispose of all his creatures, so as to promote the high_ 
est holiness and happiness of them that love him. It 
is impossible to exercise true love to God, without 
some just conceptions of his perfect benevolence, 
[ which comprizes all his holiness, justice, mercy, and 
every «ther moral excellence. It is true, men may 
form and love a false character of God; but in that 
case, it is not the true God they love, but an object 
infinitely different. It is so far from being virtuous 
to love a false character of God, that it is highly 
criminal. Multitudes loved Christ, when he was here 
upon earth, while they were ignorant of his true char- 
acter; but he never approved of their love; nay, he 
absolutely condemned it, as selfish and sinful. If 
men love a false character of God, their love is as re- 

SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 103 

ally criminal as their hatred. The reason is, such 
love and hatred proceed from precisely the same 
source; that is. selfishness. The love of the Israelites 
at the Red sea, was as really criminal as their mur- 
murs and complaints in the wilderness. They loved 
God at first, because they thought he loved them; and 
afterwards they murmured and complained, because 
they thought he did not love them, but intended to 
destroy them. Hence it appears, that there can be 
no true love to God, but what is founded on the true 
knowledge of God, and exercised towards his true 
character. But though true love to God implies a true 
knowledge of his character, yet a true knowledge of 
his character does not imply a true love to him; be- 
cause men may hate his true, as well as his false char- 
acter. Christ says to the Jews, "Ye have both seen 
and hated both me and my Father." This leads me 
to observe, 

2. That true love to God implies esteem, as well 
as knowledge. True love cannot exist without es- 
teem. One person |iiay, indeed, love another without 
esteem; but that love can have no virtue in it. Es- 
teem always arises from a conviction of moral excel- 
lence in the person or being esteemed. All men have 
a moral discernment of moral objects. Sinners are 
capable of discerning moral excellence in holiness; and 
Avhen they discern it, they are constrained in spite of 
their hearts, to esteem it. Job was a perfect and up- 
right man, and accordingly we are told, that the eye 
that saw him, and the ear that heard him, blessed 
him, that is, he commanded the universal esteem of 
both saints and sinners. So, when men have a true 
knowledge of God, they are constrained to esteem 
him, as the greatest and best of beings. Sinners can- 
not contemplate the infinite greatness and goodness of 

104 SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 

God, without discerning his infinite worthiness to be 
loved. Such a sense of his infinite worthiness is nee- 
essarily implied in loving him supremely; for supreme 
love must be founded on supreme esteem. Moses 
loved God supremely, and his supreme affection was 
founded upon his supreme esteem of the divine char- 
acter. This he expresses in his song of praise, upon 
the overthrow of Pharaoh. "Who is like thee, O 
Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in 
holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders!" Men 
must have that esteem of God, which arises from a 
sensible conviction of his supreme worthiness, before 
they can love him with a sincere and supreme affec- 
tion. But since they may have a true knowledge and 
high esteem of God, without loving him sincerely, it 
is necessary to add, 

3. That their loving God truly, implies a supreme 
complacency in his moral character. True love to 
God essentially consists in being pleased, that he is 
what he is. In the exercise of true love to any ob- 
ject, there is a pleasure taken in the object itself. 
Men may have a true knowledge of the divine char- 
acter, and a real esteem of it, while they see nothing 
in it, which gives them pleasure, but perfect pain. 
This pain is owing to their hatred of that divine ex- 
cellence, which they feel they ought to love. But 
when they truly love God, they take pleasure in eve- 
ry part of his moral character. They love his holi- 
ness, justice, and sovereignty, as well as his goodness, 
mercy, and grace. David's love to God was a com- 
placency in his moral beauty and excellence. "One 
thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, 
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the 
days of my life, to behold the beauiy of the Lord." 
Jeremiah expressed the same satisfaction in God, 

SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 105 

when he said, "The Lord is my portion, saith my 
soul." The supreme moral excellence of the divine 
character is the primary object of the love of complar- 
cency. The mere natural perfections of the Deity, 
aside from his moral, cannot be the object of com- 
placcntial love; but the reverse, the object of terrot 
and aversion. It is the pure benevolence of God, 
which spreads a moral beauty over all his natural 
perfections, and renders them pleasing and lovely to 
every pious heart. Men's loving God with ail the 
heart, with all the mind, and with all the strength, 
always implies a complacency in his moral character, 
without regard to any personal interest in his favour. 
It is not a mercenary, or selfish affection, but pure 
and disinterested. It is feeling towards God, just as 
he feels towards them that love him. It is giving 
him the supreme affection of the heart, from a clear 
knowledge and full conviction of his infinite moral 
excellence and glory. 

We are no\v to inquire, 

III. Why God loves only such as first love him* 
He says, "I love them that love me," which plainly 
supposes, that he has not the same affection towards 
those of an opposite character. It appears from the 
whole current of scripture, that God takes no compla- 
cency in unrenewed sinners, who are entirely destitute 
of true love to his moral perfections. The apostle says, 
''The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all 
ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the 
truth in unrischteousness." Our Saviour declares, "He 
that believeth not is condemned already, and the tcraih 
of God abideth upon him." We read, "Cursed is every 
one that continueth not in all things written in the 
book of the law to do them." And God hims;^lf ex- 
presses his feelings towards his enemies, in the most 

106 SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 

pointed language, in the thirty second of Deuterono- 
my. *-If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand 
take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to 
mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.'' 
The Bible is full ofthreatenings agamst sinners, which 
clearly express divine displeasure, and not divine love. 
It is true, God feels and expresses benevolence towards 
all mankind; but this is consistent with the highest 
displeasure against those that hate him. Nor will his 
displeasure cease, until they cease to be his enemies, 
and become his friends. But here some may be ready 
to ask, Why does he not love them, before they first 
love him? 

The direct answer to this question is, that before 
they first love him, they are not lovely. Their hearts 
are full of evil, and entirely opposed to all that is good. 
They are wholly under the dominion of selfishness, 
which is total enmity to all holiness. In them, that is, 
in their hearts, there dwelleth no good thing. They 
have not one moral quality, which is truly virtuous and 
amiable. The corruption of their hearts defiles all their 
natural powers and faculties, and renders them really 
odious and detestable. Hence says the apostle, "Unto 
the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are de- 
filed and unbelieving, is nothing pure; but even their 
mind and conscience is defiled." As there is nothing 
amiable in the natural perfections of God, aside from 
his holiness; so there is nothing amiable in the intel- 
lectual powers of men, aside from their benevolent and 
holy affections. While they have not the love of God 
in them, all their natural faculties are governed and cor- 
rupted, by an evil heart of unbelief. Hence it is mor- 
ally impossible for God to love them, before they love 
him. As he clearly sees their corrupt hearts, he cannot 
feut abhor their moral deformity. He is of purer eyes 

SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 107 

than to behold sin with complacency. He must cease 
to be perfectly holy, before he can exercise the love of 
complacency towards tiiose, who heartily oppose his 
own infinite purity and moral excellence. There is 
nothing that men can say or do, before they love God, 
which can render them lovely in his sight. But there 
is something in God, which renders him lovely and 
glorious, before he loves sinners; and therefore they 
can love him, before he loves them. There is a previ- 
ous ground and reason for their loving him first; but 
there is no such previous ground and reason for his lov- 
ing them first. The love of complacency tow^ards sin- 
ners would be criminal; therefore it is as morally impos- 
sible for God to love them, before they love him, as it 
is for God to deny himself. But the love of compla- 
cency towards God is truly virtuous and holy; and as 
soon as sinners exercise this love, they become lovely, 
and must appear so in the sight of God. Were it pos- 
sible in the nature of things, God would exercise com- 
placency, as well as benevolence, towards sinners first, 
l^his appears from his exercising benevolence towards 
them, before they exercise benevolence towards him. 
He is infinitely good, and ready to do all that goodness 
can do for them; but perfect goodness forbids him to 
exercise the love of complacency towards them, while 
they remain dead in trespasses and sins. 


1 . If God does not love sinners before they first love 
him; then it is a point of more importance in preach- 
ing the gospel, to make them sensible, that he hates 
them, than that he loves them. It is true, that he loves 
them with the love of benevolence; but at the same 
time it is equally true, that he does not love them with 
the love of complacence. He loves them, just a§ hfe 

108 SERMON VI. Prov. viii, IT. 

loves the fallen angels and the spirits in prison, and no 
otherwise. But sinners are extremely apt to believe, 
that since God loves them with the love of benevo- 
lence, and treats thern kindly, he must also love them 
with the love of complacence. In this case, therefore, 
the most important point to be illustrated and inculca- 
ted is, that God hates sinners with perfect hatred, not- 
withstanding all his benevolence towards them. But 
here many, and I had almost said, the greater part of 
ministers insinuate, to sinners, that God loves them, 
while they have not the least spark of love to him. 
And some really advance this doctrine in plain terms, 
and assert that they cannot love God first. This is 
contrary to the whole tenor of scripture, and calcula- 
ted to lead sinners into a fatal delusion; and there is 
reason to fear, that many have been finally ruined by 
it. It is, tlierefore, the great business of ministers, to 
teach sinners how vile and hateful they appear in the 
eyes of a holy and sin-hating God. Our benevolent 
Saviour, w ho came to suffer and die for sinners, never 
gave the least intimation, that God loved them with 
the love of complacence; but, on the other hand, ad- 
dressed them as objects worthy of universal detestation 
and abhorrence. "Ye are of your father the devil, and 
the lusts of your father ye will do. Ye serpents, ye 
generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation 
of hell? He that beiieveth not the Son shall not see 
life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John the 
baptist preached to sinners in the same manner^ 
"When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees 
come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation 
of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath 
to come?" Tliis mode of preaching is directly suited 
to convince sinners of their guilty and deplorable con- 
dition, and to prepare them cordially to embrace the 

SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 109 

gospel. There is nothing so alarming to stupid sinners 
as to be told, that the great God is their enemy, that 
his wrath abides upon them, and will abide upon them, 
until they first love him. Accordingly the first and 
best preachers of the gospel, made it their main object 
to impress this awful truth upon the minds of sinners. 
The apostle Paul says, m the name of the rest, -'Know- 
ing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade m.en." 
It is not the love, b'lt wrath of God, that is best 
adapted to persuade sinners to flee from the wrath to 

2. If God does not love sinners before they love 
him; then their first exercise of love to him must be 
before they Joiow that he loves them. Many seem to 
think, that sinp.ers must have some evidence, that God 
loves them, before they can put forth any exercises of 
love to him. But how is it possible, that they should 
get any evidence that he loves them, before they love 
him? He does not love them, until they have first 
loved him. Their love to him must go before, and be 
the evidence ot his love to them; for the only evidence 
they can have, that he loves them, is a consciousness 
of their first loving him. His being worthy of their 
love does not depend upon his loving them; but their 
being worthy of his love depends upon their loving 
him. They may love him first, because he is really 
worthy to be loved, on account of his intrinsic excel- 
lence and gl )ry; but he cannot love them first, because 
they are totally destitute of every holy and amiable' 
quality. Whenever they begin to love God, they must 
necessarily know, that he docs not and cannot love 
them as they then are. It is certain, even to a demon- 
stration, that when renewed sinners first turn their eyes 
to God, their hearts rise in supreme affection to him, 
before they do or can know that he loves them. His 

no SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 

supreme excellence is the primary and sole ground of 
their supreme love to him, and not any supposed inter- 
est in his favour. For they are not in reality the ob- 
jects of his complacency, and have no special interest 
in his pardoning mercy, until they have actually given 
him the supreme afiection of their hearts. 

S. If God does not iove sinners before they love 
him; then they must love him, while they know that 
he hates them, and is disposed to punish them forever. 
He is a sin-hating, sin-condemning, and sin-punishing 
God, and ail sinners, under genuine convictions, always 
view him in this light; yea, they realize that his wrath 
abides upon them, and that nothing but his abused 
patience prevents the immediate execution of his jus- 
tice. It is in this situation, and while they vievv' God 
as looking upon them as perfectly odious and hell-de- 
serving creatures, that they fust love him for his own 
intrinsic excellence, while they are totally ignorant 
whether he will save or destroy them. This is always 
the case, when convinced sinners are converted. Their 
conversion consists in a reconciliation to a holy, sove- 
reign, sin revenging God. They love him for hating 
just such creatures as they are, and being disposed to 
give them a just recompense of reward for all their 
groundless enmity and opposition to him and his cause. 
The penitent malefactor, who was crucified with 
Christ, first loved God, and became reconciled to his 
vindictive justice towards himself, while he expected 
nothing but to sink down to hell^ in a very few mo- 
ments. "And one of the malefactors which were 
hanged railed on him, sayiiig, If thou be the Christ, 
save thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked 
him, saying, Dost theu feur God, seeing thou art 
in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; 
for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this 

SERMON VI. PRov.viii, 17. Ill 

man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto 
Jesus, Lord, remember me vvher. tiiou comest into thy 
kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say 
unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." 
This instance of a sound conversion demonstrates, that 
every sinner, in order to be saved, must love a holy, 
sin-hating, and sin-revenging God, while he has no 
evidence of any interest in his special favour; but even 
while he looks up to him as ready to cast him off for- 
ever. The awakened and convinced sinner hates God 
for his holiness, his justice, and his sovereignty; but 
before he can become an object of the divine compla- 
cency, he must love God for these very same perfec- 
tions, which for aught he knows, may be displayed in 
his everlasting destruction. And in the exercise of this 
true love to God, he must go to him for pardoning 
mercy, as the servants of Ben-hadad advised him to 
go to Ahab in his distress. "And his servants said 
unto hi in. Behold now, we have heard that the kings 
of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, I pray 
thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our 
heads, and go out to the king of Israel: per adventure 
he 'ivill save thy life.'''' When the sinner first l^ves 
God for what he is in himself, and asks for mercy, he 
cannot possibly know whether God will grant or de- 
ny his request; but without knowing this, he is willing 
that God should do his pleasure, and glorify himself by 
him, either as a vessel of mercy, or a vessel of wrath. 
4. If sinners must love God before he loves them, 
then they are naturally as unwilling to embrace the 
gospel, as to obey the law. Many, who hate the law, 
which requires true love to God and man, pretend to 
like the gospel, which they imagine speaks a milder 
language. But this can be owing to nothing but a 
misapprehension of the true spirit of the gospel, which 

112 SERMON VI. pRov. viii, 17. 

requires precisely the same pure and disinterested lovCj 
that the law requires. Both the law and the gospel 
require sinners to love a holy, just, sin-hating, and 
sin condemning God, and that upon pain of eternal 
destruction. The gospel is not a mere declaration of 
pardoning mercy to sinners, without any condition 
to be performed on their part. The condition of the 
gospel is that faith in Chiist, which immediately flows 
from love to God the Father, who insists upon sin- 
ners returning to him, and submitting to his absolute 
sovereignty, before they know whether he intends to 
save 01' de^tr^y thera. And can there be any thing 
more disagreeable to their carnal hearts, in either the 
precept or penalty of the law, than such unreserved 
submission? The same selfish heart which hates the 
law, equally hates the gospel, when rightly understood. 
Christ did not come to destroy the law or the prophets, 
but to fulfil. He did not come to save sinners in their 
native enmity and opposition to God; but to pardon 
them upon condition of their renouncing their ground- 
less disaffection, and becoming cordially reconciled to 
his whole law and his whole character. It is impos- 
siblaifor sinners to approve of the gospel before they 
approve of the law, or t > love t'ne g jSjiei before they 
love the law. It is a dangerous deception for any to 
think, that they love and embrace the gospel, while 
they inwardly hate and complain of the rigor of the 
law, either in its precept or penalty. None but those 
who delight in the law of the Lord after the inward 
man, really love the gospel, and stand entitled to the 
blessings of it. 

5. If God loves those who first love him; then he is 
willing to receive them into his favour upon the 
most gracious and condescending terms. This is the 
plain import of all his free and universal offers oCmer- 

SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 113 

cy in his word. "Return unto me, and I will return 
unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. Let the:wicked for- 
sake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; 
and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have 
mercy upon him;and to our God, for he will abundant- 
ly pardon. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the 
waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, 
and eat; yea, come, buy wine and miik without 
money, and without price." Can we conceive, that 
God could offer to pardon and save sinners, upon low- 
er or easier terms than these? They are the very same 
terms, upon which a kind and indulgent parent would 
offer to forgive and receive a child, who had disobey- 
ed his commands, abused his favours, and left hi^ 
house and family. So our Saviour more than intimates 
in the parable of the penitent publican, and in that of 
the returning prodigal. As soon as the publican 
cried, ''God be merciful to me a sinner," he went 
away pardoned and accepted; and as soon as the 
prodigal said in his heart, "I will arise, and go to my 
father, and will say unto him. Father, I have sinned 
against heaven and before thee, and am no more 
worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy 
hired servants;" his father met him, embraced him 
and forgave him all his faults. The father loved the 
prodigal as soon as the prodigal loved him; so God 
loves sinners, as soon as they love him. The father 
returned to the prodigal, as soon as the prodigal re- 
turned to him; so God will return to sinners, as soon 
as they return to him. This is loving, pardoning, and 
accepting sinners, upon the most gracious and conde- 
scending terms possible. It is impossible to conceive, 
that God should be willing to save sinners, or that 
they should be willing to be saved, before they first 
love him, and become cordially reconciled to his ami- 

1 14 SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 

able and glorious character. His offers of mercy to 
sinners, are as low, as easy, and as condescending, as 
infinite grace can propose. 

6. If God does not love sinners before they love him; 
then they have no right to desire or pray, that he 
would become reconciled to them, while they con- 
tinue to hate and oppose him. Though they always 
cast off fear and restrain prayer as long as they can; 
yet when they are awakened to realize their guilty and 
perishing state, they never fail to call upon God to be- 
come reconciled to them while their hearts rise in sen- 
sible opposition to him. But what right have they 
to pray in such an unholy and unreasonable 
manner? Who hath required this at their hands? 
Though God has required them to ask for his love 
and mercy; yet he has never required them to ask 
amiss. Nay, he has expressly told them, that if they 
turn away their ear from hearing the law, even their 
prayer tvill be an abomination in his sight. And the 
reason of this is plain. They pray that he would 
become reconciled to them, while they are unreconcil- 
ed to him, and that he would love them, while they 
are perfectly unholy and unlovely. God is of purer 
eyes than to behold sin. It is morally impossible, that 
he should love it in any of his creatures. What right, 
then, can unholy, unlovely, and impenitent sinners have 
to pray, that God would love them with complacency, 
while they are devoid of every amiably quality, and 
in the exercise of perfect malevolence? They have no 
more right to do this, than they have to pray, that 
God would change his nature, and become as unholy 
and sinful as themselves. 

7. If God loves sinners as soon as they love him; 
then if they properly seek him, they shall certainly 
find him. Ttiis God expressly promises to all sincere 

SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 115 

seekers. "I love them that love me; and those that 
seek me early shall find me. Ask, and it shall be giv- 
en you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be 
opened unto you. Seek ye the Lord while he may 
be found, call upon him while he is near. Let the 
wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his 
thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he 
will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he 
will abundantly pardon." If sinners will only follow 
these directions in seeking God, they not only may be, 
but must be saved. The benevolence of God disposes 
him, and the promise of God obliges him, to love 
those that love him, and to make them forever happy. 
This is the only proper way of seeking God, and the 
only certain way of finding him. And it is impossi- 
ble' to point out any other way of seeking God, which 
is either proper or safe. There is no propriety noilf^ 
safety in directing sinners to seek God in an unholy 
and impenitent manner; for if they follow this 
direction, they will certainly be lost. But if they 
will renounce their own righteousness, become recon- 
ciled to God, and penitently ask for mercy, he will 
hear their prayers, and grant them all the blessings 
which he has promised to them that love him. 

Finally, if God loves those who love him, then it is 
not so difficult as some imagine, for them to detemine 
whether they are personally the objects of the divine 
favour and stand entitled to eternal life. They have 
no occasion of prying into the secret counsels of God, 
in order to determine this most serious and important 
point. They have only to look into their own hearts, 
and see whether they themselves love God. If they 
are conscious of loving him sincerely and supremely, 
they have the witness within themselves, that he loves 
them; and will be their friend and portion forever, be- 

116 SERMON VI. Prov. viii, 17. 

cause he has expressly said, "I love them that love me."' 
Though we cannot know that our fellow men love 
us, merely by knowing that we love them; yet we can 
know that God loves us, merely by being conscious 
that we love him. If we love God as a Father, we 
may know that he loves us as Children. Hence says 
the apostle to christians, "Ye have not received the 
spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received 
the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. 
The spirit itself (that is, the spirit of adoption) beareth 
witness with our spirit that we are the children of 
God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and 
joint-heirs with Christ." Let every one, therefore, 
who entertains any doubt, whether God be his friend, 
examine his own heart, and see whether he is the friend 
of God. If he finds in his heart a sincere and 'su- 
preme affection to God, he may be assured, that God 
loves him as a child, will treat him as a child: anci 
make him an heir of eternal life. 



John vi, 26. 
Jesus answered them, and said, Ye seek me, not be- 
cfiuse ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of 
the loaves, and were Jilted. 

THESE words refer to Christ's feeding the five thou- 
sand, with only five barley loaves, and two small 
fishes. This miracle convinced the multitude, that he 
was the Messiah whom they had long expected to 
come, and deliver them from their national calamities. 
Under this impression, they formed a secret design to 
take him by force, and make him king. But he per- 
ceived their thoughts^ and defeated their purpose, by 
departing into a mountain alone. When the evening 
came on, the disciples also left the multitude, and 
attempted to cross the sea of Tiberias, which, by means 
of a mighty wind, threatened to overwhelm them. 
But in the midst of their distress, they saw Jesus walk- 
ing on the sea, and approaching the ship, which great- 
ly surprised them at first; but as soon as he made him- 
self known, they invited him on board, and were in- 
stantaneously conveyed to land. The next day, the 
multitude whom he had miraculously fed, crossed the 
same sea in order to find him, and when they had 
found him on the other side of the sea, they were sur- 
prised, and said, "Rabbi, when camest thou hither?" 
Christ took no notice of this appearance of respect, but 
pointedly reproved them for their mercenary motives 
in following him. 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, 

118 SERMON VII. John vi, 26. 

Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but be- 
cause ye did eat of tlie loaves, and were filled." These 
persons had no love to the character of Christ, but on- 
ly to his benefits. He said, "they loved him for the 
loaves,''^ by which he meant not merely the bread 
they had eaten, but all the favours, which they had re- 
ceived, and which they expected to receive,from his be- 
neficent hand. He saw the selfishness of all their friend- 
ly affections, and, for that reason alone, refused t(t ac- 
knowledge them as his sincere followers. The plain 
language of this instance of his conduct is, 

That he will reject sinners, while they love him 
merely for his favours. 

Here two things are to be illustrated. 

I. That sinners may love Christ merely for his fa- 

II. That he will reject them, while they love him 
from no higher motives. 

I. Let us consider, that sinners may love Christ 
merely for his favours. Though they are entirely 
destitute of grace, and see no beauty or comeliness 
in the character of the Redeemer, yet they may love 
him for seeking and promoting their own personal 

1. This appears from their conduct towards the 
Saviour, in the days of his humanity. They mani- 
fested a great regard to him, while he went about do- 
ing good, and dispensing his favours with peculiar lib- 
erality and compassion. They loved him for his mir- 
acles, for his public discourses, and for all the blessings 
which they expected he would bestow upon the nation 
in general. No man, perhaps, was ever more admir- 
ed and beloved by the Jews, for a time, than Jesus of 
Nazareth. It is said in the history of his life, 'The 
common people heard him gladly." It is said, "All 

SERMON VII. John vi, 26. 119 

the people came early in the morning to him in the 
temple for to hear him." It is said, "He taught daily 
in the temple. And all the people were attentive to 
him." It is said, ''Then drew near all the publicans 
and sinners for to hear him." It is said, "There iol- 
low^ed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, 
and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from 
Judea, and from beyond Jordan." These were really 
great multitudes, for they consisted sometimes of three, 
or four, or five thousand people. The followers of 
Christ were so numerous, that it was extremely diffi- 
cult to approach him. At one time Zaccheus, and at 
another time his mother and brethren, could not make 
their way to him by reason of the press. And all 
these multitudes followed him with peculiar ardour 
and zeal. "It came to pass, that the people pressed 
upon him to hear the word of God, as he stood by 
the lake of Gcnnessaret." This fond attachment to 
Christ continued and increased until his last entrance 
into Jerusalem, just before his crucifixion. Then their 
affections for their long-expected and long-desired 
Messiah kindled into a flame of enthusiasm, and brake 
forth into songs of joy and exultation. "A great mul- 
titude spread their garments in the way; others cut 
down branches from the trees, and strawed them in 
the way, and the multitudes that went before and that 
followed alter, cried, saying, Hosannah to the son of 
David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the 
Lord: Hosannah in the highest. And when he W£^s 
come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, 
Who is this? And the multitude said, this is Jesus 
the prophet ot Nazareth of Galilee." Such were the 
views and feelings of sinners in Zion in regard to the 
divine Redeemer. They loved, admired, and praised 

120 SERMON VII. John vi, 26. 

him for his favours. They felt and acted just as all 
other sinners would in a similar situation. For, 

2. It is altogether agreeable to their selfish hearts, 
to love their benefactors. Our Lord laid it down as 
a universal truth, that "sinners love those who love 
them." It is their nature, "to be lovers of their own 
selves, and to seek their own things." Hence, they as 
spontaneously love Christ for his benefits, as they love 
their own interest. They wish to be happy as long 
as they exist. And so far as they view Christ disposed 
to promote either their temporal or eternal happiness, 
their selfish feelings are pleased and gi^atified. While 
he actually lived among them, some loved him for 
giving them food, some for giving them health, hearing, 
and sight, and some forgiving them hopes of happiness 
in a future state. In these days, sinners as naturally love 
him for his death, for his gospel, for his gracious invita- 
tions, and for every thing he has said and done and 
suffered, which they imagine bears a favourable aspect 
upon their spiritual and eternal interests. They are 
indeed no less disposed to love Christ for his favours, 
than to love themselves supremely. But, 

II. Christ will reject them, so long as they love him 
from no higher motives. It was his uniform practice 
to frown upon those, who professed to love him, or 
proposed to follow him, from selfish views. We find 
several other instances besides that in the text, of his 
rejecting such as he knew were attached to him by 
mercenary motives. When one came and said, "Lord, 
I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," he gave 
him this forbidding reply: "The foxes have holes, and 
the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man 
hath not where to lay his head." Another accosted 
him with equal zeal and presumption: "1 will follow 

SERMON VII. John vi, 26, 121 

thee; but let me first go bid them farewell which are 
at home at my house." This Christ considered as an 
expression of a selfish heart; for which he excluded 
him from his service. He said unto him. No man 
having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, 
is fit for the kingdom of God.'' And when the amia- 
ble yoUng ruler came to him and discovered his totally 
seftish heart, he sent him away sorrowful. His con- 
duct in all these instances was exactly correspondent 
to his plain and repeated declarations upon this subject. 
He declared, '■'Except your righteousness shall exceed 
the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees ye shall 
not enter into the kingdom of heaven. For if ye love 
them that love you, what reward have ye? do not 
even the publicans the same? He that loveth father or 
mother more than me is not worthy of me: he that 
loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy 
of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and follow- 
eth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth 
his life, shall lose it: and he that lost-th his life for my 
sake, shall fmd it. Whosoever forsaketh not all that 
he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Yea, he solemn* 
ly declared, that he would as final Judge at the last 
day, condemn even those, who had done ever so many 
acts of kindness to their fellow men, without a sur 
preme and ultimate regard to himself Bath his 
preaching and conduct put it beyond a doubt, that he 
will finally reject all, who never love nor serve him, 
from any higher motives than his favours* 

But here some may be ready to ask. Why will tlie 
gracious and compassionate Saviour exclude from I. J. 
favour and kingdom all such as love him from no 
other than selfish considerations? The reasons are plain, 
and suificient to carry conviction to every cuiiscience.- 

122 SERMON VII. John vi, 26. 

1 . It is because those who love him merely for his 
favours, are mortal enemies to his person. He knew 
Judas was his enemy and would betray him, notwith- 
standing all his apparent expressions of love. And he 
saw the same disposition in others, who loved and 
followed him for his favours. The evangelist tells us, 
"When Christ was at Jerusalem at the passover in the 
feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw 
the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit 
himself unto them, because he knew all men, and 
needed not that any should testify of man: for he 
knew what was in man." It is related in the context, 
that Christ delivered a discourse, which offended his 
mercenary disciples, and it is said, "From that time 
many of his disciples went back, and walked no more 
with him." In the eighth chapter of this evangelist 
we read, "As Jesus was speaking certain words, many 
believed on him." But after he had more fully ex- 
plained ' himself, we are told, "Then took they up 
stones to cast at him, but Jesus hid himself." " When 
he was preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth, the 
people "admired the gracious words which proceeded 
out of his mouth." But as soon as they perceived, 
that lie had no partial affection for them in particular, 
they were filled with wrath, and attempted with vio- 
lence to destroy his life. Thus some who loved 
Christ merely for his favours, discovered their real 
disaffection to his true character on particular occa- 
sions. But finally they all threw off the mask, and 
exhibited their mortal enmity in the most open and 
astonishing manner. The same multitudes, who con- 
ducted him into Jerusalem with acclamations of joy 
and triumph, in a fr^w days after, cried w^ith equal 
zeal and ardour, Crucify him, crucify him! and at last, 
'Stood around his cross, exulting in his dying agonies. 

SERMON VII. John vi, 26. 123 

These facts demonstrate, that those who love Christ 
from merely selfish motives, are his mortal enemies. 
They perfectly hate all his human and divine excel- 
lencies, and would destroy him, if it were in the pow- 
er of their feeble hands. This Christ knows, and for 
this he may justly exclude them from his blissful pres- 
ence and consign them to a state of everlasting alien- 
ation and despair! 

2. Those who love Christ merely for his favours, 
are real enemies to all his sincere friends, who bear 
his image and imbibe his spirit. This is a necessary 
consequence of their hatred to Christ, which he fore- 
warned his true disciples to expect. "If we were of 
the world, the world would love his own: but because 
ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of 
the world, therefore the world hateth you. If they 
have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." 
The spirit here predicted, was acted out as soon as the 
christian church was formed in Jerusalem. The same 
men, who followed Christ for the loaves, who hated 
his doctrines, and who procured his death on the cross, 
afterwards embrued their hands in the blood of James 
and Stephen, and opposed all the true followers of the 
crucified Saviour. The same spirit still exists in its 
full strength in all who love Christ merely for his fa- 
vours. They are heartily opposed to those, who feel 
and act agreeably to his precepts and example. And 
though their present love to Christ for his supposed 
love to them, restrains their enmity to his friends', yet 
nothing is wanting but a proper view of their real 
condition, to draw forth the native malignity of their 
hearts. And since Christ knows they are real enemies 
to both himself and to those who love him in sincerity, 
he may righteously separate them from the society of 

lU SERMON VII. John vi, 26. 

the blessed, and appoint them their portion with the 
great accuser of tlie brethren. 

S. A. 1 other reason why Christ should finally reject 
such as love him merely for his favours is, because 
they are enemies to his whole work of redemption. 
He came into the world to save his people from their 
sins, and bring them into a perfectly holy and happy 
state. And in executing his gracious design, he will 
bring all the elect to a cordial reconciliation to God, 
to himself, to one another, and to all holy beings 
in the universe. But those who love him merely for 
his favours, can have no portion or lot in this matter. 
They love themselves solely and supremely, and can 
never enjoy the holiness and happiness of others. The 
whole scheme of redemption and all the steps taken to 
accomplish it, will cross tiieir views, wound their feel- 
ings, and destroy all their mercenary love tv Christ, 
and to every other holy being. If such persons were 
admitted to enter the gates of heaven, they would feel 
a perfect contrariety of heart to all its objects, employ- 
ments, and enjoyments. There the law of love will 
be completely fulfiiied. There purely disinterested af- 
fections will be universally and mutually displayed. 
*And there the most sensible opposition to seUishjiess 
and all selfish creatures will be fully, ireeiy, ai.u per- 
petually manifested. So that the last act oi Christ in 
completing the work of redemption, must be to fix all 
his real friends in those mansions he has prepared for 
them and to banish all his and their enemies from his 
^nd their presence forever. 

It now remains to insprove the subject, which is 
aflapted to throw light upon puie experimental re- 

1. If Chnst condemns all those religious affections, 
\jVhich flow trona a seiiish heartj tdien there appeals 

SERMON VII. John vi, 26. 125 

to be one essential error prevailing in the christian 
world. The number is large, among various denomi- 
nations of christians, who maintain that none can or 
ought to love Christ, until they know or believe that 
he loves them in particular, and intends to give them 
eternal life. They say in support of this sentiment, that 
the apostle tells us, '-we love him because he hath first 
loved us." They suppose faith is before love, repent- 
ance, or any other gracious exercise. To this purpose 
they apply another text, which says, *'faith works by 
love." That is. according to their construction, pro- 
duces love. They hold, that the first and great duty 
of a sinner is, to make himself believe, "without any 
evidence from scripture, sense, or reason," that Christ 
has died for him in particular, has pardoned his sins, 
and will finally conduct him to heaven. And this 
appropriating faith, they imagine, will produce true 
love, repentance, submission, joy, hope, and all the 
christian graces. Thus their whole scheme of experi- 
mental religion is built upon the supposition, that we 
ought to love Christ merely for his favours, and not 
fjr the intrinsic beauty and excellence of his moral 
and mediatorial character. This sentiment universally 
prevails among Antinomians. In some form or 
other, many Calvinists really believe it, Arminians 
equally deny disinterested benevolence, and suppose 
men never do nor can act from any higher principle 
than self love. And every scheme of Universalism is 
evidently founded in selfishness. But this and all other 
selfish schemes of religion are, according to the whole 
tenor of Christ's preaching, fundamentally false and 
fatal. He abund.intly taught, that no part of his re- 
ligion consists in selfishness, and that no love to him, 
which flows from that corrupt source, will ever meet 
his approbation. And the reason is plain to the mean- 

126 SERMON VII. John vi, 26. 

est Ccapacity. Selfishness is the essence of total de- 
pravity, and constitutes the carnal mind, which is en- 
mity to God, to Christ, to his friends, and to all true 
holiness. It is, therefore, an essential and fatal error, 
to maintain and believe, that we cannot and ought not 
to love God nor Christ, until we are persuaded we 
have a saving interest in their love. Those who build 
their hopes of salvation upon this sandy foundation, 
will be fatally disappointed, unless they seasonably re- 
nounce their error, become reconciled to the true char- 
acter of God, and esteem Christ, not merely for his 
favours, but for what he is in himself, as the chief among 
ten thousands and altogether lovely. 

2. If Christ will reject all those who love him mere- 
ly for his favours; then there is great danger of men's 
deceiving themselves in regard to their spiritual state. 
They are naturally disposed to think more highly of 
themselves, than they ought to think, and to mistake 
the ground of their religious affections. If they love 
Christ merely for his favours, they are apt to conclude 
they love him sincerely, and shall meet his approba- 
tion at the last day. This is a fatal mistake which 
thousands have made. The multitudes, who loved 
Christ for the loaves, and followed him with joyful 
hopes, thus mistook the motives of their love, and im- 
agined their selfisli feelings were holy affections. The 
Israelites made the same mistake, who sang God's 
praise, but soon forgot his works. In times of the 
out-pouring of the Spirit and a general revival of re- 
ligion, it is often the case, that the awakened and con- 
vinced, by some means or other, obtain a hope of par- 
don and acceptance, which fills their selfish hearts with 
raptures of joy. Some hope they are forgiven, because 
a text of scripture comes suddenly and unexpectedly 
into their mind; some, because they happen to open to 

SERMON VII. John vi, 26. 127 

a certain passage in the Bible; some, because they im- 
agine they hear a voice assuring them of their good 
estate; some, because they dream of seeing Christ in all 
his glory, and as manifesting peculiar love to them; 
some, because they hear the wonderful love of God 
and Christ towards sinners pathetically described; and 
some, because they apply to themselves the gracious 
promises made to true believers. In these and various 
other ways, men may deceive themselves with a false 
hope of a saving interest in Christ. The devil and a 
wicked heart concur to lead them into this fatal delu- 
sion, which is greatly strengthened and confirmed by 
those, who maintain and teach, that they ought to 
love Christ merely for his favours, and cartnot love 
him from any higher motives. Surrounded by such 
powerful temptations from within and without, to mis- 
take selfish love to Christ ior true love, there is awful 
danger of multitudes falling into this soul-ruining de- 
ception. Yea, there is reason to fear, that thousands 
and thousands of the professed followers of Christ, who 
appear zealous in his cause, are mistaking their selfish 
love and zeal for true religion, and deceiving them- 
selves with raised hopes and expectations of entering 
into the kingdom of glory, which will be finally and 
awfully blasted! 

3. Since Christ has so fully condemned all religious 
affections, which flow from selfish motives, there is no 
necessity of men's deceiving themselves in regard to 
their spiritual state. The distinction, which he has 
made between false religion and true, is plain and in- 
telligible to all, who are willing to know their own 
hearts. All menknow what it is to love or hate from 
selfish considerations, and are able to distinguish be- 
tween loving Christ for his favours, and loving him 
for his true character or divine beauty and excellence. 

m SERMON VII. John vi, 2^. 

Those who loved him here on earth for his favours, 
knew the motives of their love. Some knew they lov- 
ed him merely for affording them food. Some knew 
they loved him merely for restoring their sight. Some 
knew they loved him merely for enabling them to 
hear and speak. Some knew they loved him merely 
for raising them from sickness, weakness, and lameness, 
to health, strength, and activity. And some knew 
they loved him merely for coming, as they supposed, to 
save their nation from the calamities, which they 
had long endured from the power and oppression of 
their enemies. These were ail selfish motives for lov- 
ing Christ, -which those who felt them and acted from 
them, might have certainly known and distinguished 
from that pure disinterested love, which he so plainly 
taught and inculcated. It was entirely their own fault, 
if they mistook their selfish, mercenary love to Christ 
for a truly holy and pious affection. He gave them 
no occasion to deceive themselves upon this interesting 
point, but favoured them with abundant means of 
knowing their character and condition. The same is 
true of all who now enjoy the gospel which contains 
the marks he has given of true and false religion. 
Everyman may know, if he loves Christ merely for his 
favours, that he has no true religion. And, on the 
other hand, every man may know, if he loves Christ for 
his divine excellence and glory, that he is a real chris- 
tian. No man under the light of the gospel can en- 
teitdin a false hope of salvation, unless he chooses to 
deceive himself. Of this there is great danger, but no 
necessity. Men are however, extremely apt to hold 
themselves in doubt, and to plead in excuse, that ''the 
heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately 
wicked: who can know ii?'' This is a perversion of 
the words of the Prophet, who does not mean to say, 

SERMON VII. John vii, 26. 129 

that men cannot know their own hearts, but only the 
hearts of others. There is an essential difference be- 
tween selfishness, in every form and degree of it, and 
that disinterested charity which seeketh not her own, 
and is the bond of perfection. This difference every 
man is capable of distinguishing, by only attending 
to the real m(jtives of his love or hatred towards God, 
or towards Christ, or towards himself and fellow crea- 
tures. Peter knew how to distinguish his true love 
from every false affection towards his divine Master. 
When he forsook and denied him, he knew he felt 
and acted wrong; but when he repented and returned 
to him, he knew his love was pure and disinterested. 
This enabled him to answer promptly the trying ques- 
tion which Christ put to him. "Simon son of Jonas, 
lovest thou me more than these?" He replied, "Lord, 
thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love 
thee." He would not say, as he once did too pre- 
sumptuously, that he loved Christ more than the other 
disciples; but he would say what he knew to be true, 
that he loved him sincerely. If any who are the true 
friends of Christ are ignorant of their true character and 
happy state, it is because they deceive themselves. 
And if any imagine they are real christians, whilst 
they are under the entire dominion of a selfish heart, 
it is because they choose to live in quiet under a fatal 
delusion. Let all hearken to the solemn exhortation 
of the apostle upon this deeply and universally inter- 
esting subject. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be 
in the faith; prove your ownselves, how that Christ is 
in you, except ye be reprobates." 

4. If sinners love Christ merely for his favours, then 

nothingcan induce them to love him for any thing else. 

No motives of temporal or spiritual good have the least 

tendency to alter the nature of their love, but only 


130 SERMON Vli. JoHNvii,2e. 

to increase it. This was clearly manifested by theii? 
conduct towards Christ whilst he dwelt amongst them. 
When he fed them, or healed them, or relieved them 
from any natural evil, they loved him for doing them 
good, but not for his own divine excellence and glory. 
And when he offered them all the blessings of his 
kingdom, if they would give up their own interests for 
his and the gospel's, they would not accept the gra- 
cious proposal. He assured the rich young man, if 
he would sell all that he had, and come and follow 
him, he should have treasure in heaven; but he reject- 
ted the offer, and went away sorrowful. He promised 
sinners in general, if they would renounce their hous- 
es or lands, or friends, for his sake, they should have 
an hundred fold more good in the present time, and in 
the w^orld to come eternal life. But these great and 
alluring motives, which he exhibited before them, had 
no influence to change their hearts, or to induce them 
to love him and his cause supremely. Many preach- 
ers of the gospel seem to imagine, that the hard selfish 
hearts of sinners may be melted into true love and 
contrition, by displaying before them the beauties of 
holiness, the loveliness of Christ, and the joys of heaven; 
but though these motives may awaken their selfish 
love and gratitude and penitence, yet they will not ex- 
cite a spark of holy love, or joy, or godly sorrow. 
Tliere is nothing in God, nor Christ, nor heaven, that 
sinners will love more than themselves. They lie be- 
yond the reach of all objective light, or external mo- 
tives. Paul may plant, and Apollos water, without 
making any saving impressions upon their hearts. 
Though their love and joy may be raised ever so high 
by mercenary motives, still their hearts will remain to- 
tally selfish and impenitent. This is the very charac- 
ter which the prophet ascribes to the sinner. "Let 

SERMON VII. John vii, 26. 131 

favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn 

5. If sinners love Christ merely for his favours, then 
'}t is easy to discover the only thing, which lies in the 
way of their salvation. They often complain of their 
inability to embrace the offers of merc}'^, and think it 
Very hard to be required to accept the terms of life, up- 
on pain of eternal destruction. They say they wish, 
they desire, and earnestly strive to enter into the king* 
dom of God, but find themselves unable. This is true. 
But why are they unable? what difficulty lies in their 
way of accepting the terms of salvation? Are they 
not as low and condescending as possible? Christ says, 
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest. And whosoever cometh 
unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Again they are 
told, '-'all things are ready. And the Spirit and the 
bride say. Come. And let him that heareth say, 
Come. And let him that is athirst come: and whoso- 
ever will, let him take the water of life freely." What 
can hinder sinners from accepting these kind and gra- 
cious invitations? Can they not desire and love and 
choose other objects? Can they not even love Christ 
himself for his favours? What is the difficulty then? 
This subject clearly shows them what it is. It is 
nothing but their total selfishness, lliey love them- 
selves supremely, which, as long as it continues, utterly 
prevents their loving Christ, or the gospel, or any oth* 
er object, with a truly holy or benevolent affection. 
Self love can never rise above self; and so long as this 
love possesses the hearts of sinners, it is morally imposr 
sible for them to love Christ sincerely and come to him 
for a holy salvation. Hence Christ plainly tells them> 
«Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life," 
While sinners love selfishness, they cannot love benev* 

132 SERMON VII. JoHNvii,^6. 

olence. While they love sin, they cannot love holi- 
ness. While they love Christ for his favours, they 
cannot love him for his truly holy and amiable char- 
acter. But there is no difficulty in their turning about, 
and exercising benevolence instead of selfishness. They 
are altogether as capable of exercising supreme affec- 
tion to Christ, as to themselves. Their impotency is 
moral, and lies wholly in their free, voluntary exer- 
cises. Upon this ground, God commands them to love 
him with all the heart, and to make them a new heart 
and new spirit. Upon this ground, he notonly com- 
mands but expostulates with them. "Turn ye, turn 
ye; for why will ye die? Are not my ways equal? 
Are not your ways unequal?" And upon this ground, 
he threatens to destroy them. "Because I have called, 
and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no 
man regarded; but he have set at nought all my coun- 
sel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at 
your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 
when your fear cometh as desolation, and your de- 
struction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and 
anguish cometh upon you: then shall ye call upon 
me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, 
but they shall not find me: For that they hated 
knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord. 
Therefore they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, 
and be filled with their own devices." This sentence 
is so perfectly just, that when it is executed, evey im- 
penitent sinner's mouth must be stopped, and every 
holy being must say, "Let him be anathema, maran- 
atha." Let him perish forever. 



Luke ix, 55. 

But he turned, and rebuked them, and said. Ye know 

not what manner of spirit ye are of. 

ALL men are naturally disposed to think, that their 
hearts are better than they are, and to mistake the na- 
ture of their moral exercises. To rectify this danger- 
ous error, our Saviour took a great deal of pains, in 
his preaching and private discourses. In his sermon 
on the mount, he exposed the self-deception of the 
Scribes and Pharisees, who mistook their selfish feel- 
ings for true benevolence. Nor was he less plain 
and pointed upon this subject, in his more private dis- 
courses with his disciples. Whenever he perceived 
them to be blind to their own hearts and unacquaint^ 
ed with the real motives of their own conduct, he 
never failed to reprove them for their criminal igno- 
rance. Many instances of this kind might be men- 
tioned, but that to which our text refers is the most 
remarkable. "It came to pass when the time was 
come that Jesus should be received up, he steadfastly 
set his face to go to Jerusalem; and sent niessengers 
before his face: and they went and entered into a 
village of the Samaritans to make ready for him. 
And they did not receive him, because his face was 
as though he would go to Jerusalem, And when his 
disciples James and John saw this, they said. Lord, 
wilt thou that we command fire to come down from 
heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But 
he turned, and rebuked, and said. Ye know 

134 SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 

not what manner of spirit ye are of." Though the 
disciples sometimes loved Christ with a pure, disinter- 
ested affection, yet they sometimes exercised a false 
and selfish affection towards him. In this case, it 
was their false love, which kindled into vengeance, 
and they resented the conduct of the Samaritans, be- 
cause they thought it cast contempt upon them as well 
as upon their divine Master. They mistook, howev- 
er, their love to themselves, for their love to their 
Redeemer, and really thought they felt and expressed 
a zeal for his honour,while they really felt and expressed 
a spirit of revenge for personal abuse. Notwithstand- 
ing they had been so long and intimately acquainted 
with Christ, yet they still entertained some wrong ap- 
prehensions of his true design in coming into the 
world. They flattered themselves, that he would re- 
store the kingdom to Israel, and make them and their 
nation his peculiar favourites. They supposed what 
the Samaritans supposed, that he was partial to the 
Jews, and therefore they loved him for the same rea- 
son, for which the Samaritans hated him. Yet they 
were so unacquainted with their own hearts, that they 
mistook their selfish love for holy love to Christ, and 
their selfish hatred of the Samaritans, for holy hatred 
of sin. Bat Christ knew what was in their hearts 
better than they did themselves, and kindly reproved 
them for their criminal ignorance and self-deception. 
Hence we may justly conclude, that Christ meant to 
teach us this important truth, 

That men have no right, in any case, to mistake 
their selfish feelings for benevolent affections. I shall, 

I. Show that men are apt to do this in some cases: 

JI. Show that they have no right to do it, in any 

SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 135 

I. I am to show, that men are apt, in some cases, 
to mistake their selfish feelings for benevolent affec- 

Notwithstanding their strong propensity to mistake 
the nature of their moral exercises, they are often 
placed under such circumstances, and have such live- 
ly exercises of mind, that they cannot help knowing 
what manner of spirit they are of Sinners sometimes 
have such clear views of divine objects and such sen- 
sible opposition towards them, that they know their 
hearts are not right with God. And sometimes saints 
have such lively exercises of grace, that they can clear- 
ly and certainly distinguish tliem from all selfish and 
sinful affections. But yet there are many cases, in 
which both saints and sinners are extremely apt to de- 
ceive themselves in respect to the nature of their moral 
exercises. And the question now before us is, when 
they do really mistake sin for holiness, and selfishness 
for true benevolence. And here it is plain, 

1. That they often make this mistake, when their 
selfishness leads them to do the same things, which 
benevolence would lead them to do. Selfishness in a 
sinner will often make him act just like a saint; and 
selfishness in a saint will often make him act just as 
he would do under the influence of pure benevolence. 
There is no external action which can proceed from 
a good heart, but what may proceed from a heart 
totally destitute of goodness. Will benevolence lead 
men to observe the Sabbath, to read the Bible, to call 
upon God, to relieve the distressed, to speak the truth, 
and to pay an external obedience to the divine will? 
Selfishness, under certain circumstances, will lead men 
to do all these things, aiid to appear possessed of true 
benevolence. The Pharisees, who acted entirely from 
mercenary motives, performed the same external acts 

136 SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 

of morality and religion, which they would have per- 
formed, had they been possessed of true love to God. 
This propriety and beauty of their external conduct 
led them to imagine, that they were really pious, and 
to mistake their selfish, for benevolent feelings. The 
young ruler, who came to Christ to know his duty, 
verily thought he had perfectly done it, because he had 
externally obeyed every divine command. Paul, while 
a Pharisee, formed the same false opinion of the na- 
ture of his moral exercises, and supposed he had lived 
a perfectly holy and blameless life, because he had 
done that from selfishness, which he ought and would 
have done, if he had been truly benevolent. When- 
ever selfishness leads men to put on the appearance of 
benevolence, they are extremely apt to think they are 
governed by a right spirit, and have those affections 
which are required in the law of love. 

2. Men may mistake their selfish feelings for true 
benevolence, when they lead them to promote benevo- 
lent designs. Real benevolence is an active principle, 
which prompts men to do all the good in their power; 
and when their power fails, it leads them to form be- 
nevolent designs to promote the temporal and spiritu- 
al benefit of mankind. But selfishness, under certain 
circumstances, will carry men a great way in forming 
benevolent designs, and exerting themselves to promote 
the public good. We often^ see sinners unite with 
saints in promoting designs of great utility and im- 
portance, with apparently equal zeal and activity. 
And when selfishness operates in this manner, and 
leads men to promote the same useful and benevolent 
purposes, which true benevolence would lead them to 
promote, they are very apt to form a good opinion 
of themselves, and to mistake their selfish for be- 
nevolent feelings. Instead of judging of the nature of 

SERMON VIII. LuKEix,5^. 137 

their actions, by their motives, they judge of the na^ 
ture of their motives by their actions; which is a very 
false and dangerous mode of judging. This seems 
to have been the error of Jehu, while warmly engag- 
ed in destroying idolatry, and promoting the purity 
of divine worship. He undoubtedly thought he was 
pursuing a benevolent design from benevolent motives, 
for he invited Jehonadab to come with him, and to 
see his zeal for the Lord. But there is great reason 
to fear, that he knew not what manner of spirit h^ 
was of, and mistook a zeal for his own glory, for a 
zeal of the glory of God. There are innumerable ca- 
ses, in which selfishness will thus unite with benevo- 
lence; and in all such cases, men are extremely apt 
to mistake the motives of their conduct, and ascribe 
that to benevolence, which flows from selfishness. 

3. When the same species of affections flow from 

selfishness, which would flow from benevolence, theri 

there is room for men to mistake the nature of their 

moral exercises.' It was for making such a mistake. 

that the disciples wei'e reproved in the text. They 

had a selfish zeal for the honour of Christ, and a selfish 

indignation against those, who refused to give him a 

cordial reception. In sach a case, they ought to have 

had zeal and indignation, and had they thus possessed 

true benevolence,it would have kindled into a holy zeal 

and indignation. When Christ saw the temple of 

God abused and profaned, he expressed a zeal for thej 

honour of his Father, and an indignation against those,, 

who made his house a den of thieves. His zeal and 

indignation flowed from pure benevolence; but the 

zeal and indignation of his disciples flowed from a 

selfish heart. Their selfishnef^^s led them to exercise the 

same species of affections, which they w^ould and 

ought to have exercised, had tlicy been truly beneVe^ 

138 SERMON VIIl. Luke ix, 55. 

lent; and because their affections were of the right spe- 
cies, they thought they were of the right nature. When 
selfishness runs in a religious channel, and produces 
religious affections of the same species, with those 
which arise from a benevolent heart, they look so 
much like holiness, that men are extremely disposed 
to take them for real holiness, though they are in their 
nature diametrically opposite to it. There may be a 
selfish as well as a benevolent love; a selfish as well as 
a benevolent faith; a selfish as well as a benevolent 
zeal; a selfish as well as a benevolent joy; and all these 
selfish affections bear such a near resemblance to the 
same species of benevolent feelings, that both good 
and bad men very frequently imagi e, that they are 
truly holy and virtuous exercises. There were multi- 
tudes, who followed Christ for the sake of the loaves 
or from selfish motives, that were full of love, and 
joy, and admiration, and ready on every occasion to 
ciy, ''Hosannah, blessed is he that cometh in the name 
of tlie Lord." But though these persons verily thought, 
that their affections for Christ were sincere and benev- 
olent; yet when they saw others despise and reject 
him, and found that he opposed and condemned all 
selfish persons and selfish coi^duct, their mercenary 
love and joy turned into enmity, and prompted them 
to cry, "Crucify him, crucify him." Selfishness very 
often produces the same species of religious affections^ 
that benevolence produces; and when this is the case, 
men are prone to deceive themselves, and verily be- 
lieve, that they are under the influence of the divine 
Spirit, while they are actually indulging the most self- 
ish feelings. 

4. When selfish and holy affections follow each other 
in a thick succession, then men are apt to blend them 
to^ethw, and to view them all, as of the same pure 

SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 139 

and benevolent nature Thus, when good men rejoice 
in God, on account of some peculiar favours which he 
has bestowed upon them in particular, they at the same 
time, or as nearly at the same time as possible, rejoice in 
themselves; but yet they are ready to consider all their 
joyful and grateful affections as the fruit of true love 
to God. Their thoughts pass from God to themselves, 
from themselves to God, in such a rapid succession, 
that they hardly perceive that their affections change 
their objects, and of consequence do really change 
their nature. This is a very common case. Good 
men rarely have holy affections, without having some 
sinful ones creeping in among them. In almost all 
their love to God and man; and in all their religious 
duties and devotions, their good affections are mixed 
with some selfish feelings, which, in that connexion, 
appear to them as virtuous and pious. This seems to 
have been the case with the disciples, when Christ re- 
buked them for their self-deception. Their love to him 
was mixed with their love to themselves, so that they 
knew not what manner of spirit they were of. Selfish 
affections may be so intimately connected with benev- 
olent ones, that they cannot be distinguished without 
the most critical and impartial attention to the exer- 
cises and operations of the heart. And since all men 
are naturally disposed to view all their moral exercises 
in the most favourable light, they are very such 
cases as these, to put sin for holiness, and selfishness 
for true benevolence 

5. When holy and sinful affections are produced by 
the same means, men are apt to consider them all as of 
the same pure and benevolent nature. It seems to be 
a common opinion, that the effect must be of the same 
nature as the cause or means, by which it is produced. 
Men are generally disposed to look upon all their affcc- 

140 SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 

tioiis as good, which are excited by means that are 
good. When they are sensibly and seriously affected 
by reading the Bible, by religious conversation, by the 
preaching of the gospel, by the common influences of 
the Spirit, by publick calamities, or by personal afflic- 
tions and bereavements, they are very ready to con- 
sider their love, joy, sorrow, hope, fear, submission, or 
ardent desires, as right affections, merely because they 
arise from what are commonly called the means of 
grace, and are often productive of that effect. The 
Israelites at mount Sinai were deeply affected by what 
they saw and heard on that solemn occasion, and hence 
they supposed, that their religious awe, and fear, and 
reverence were truly holy affections; and this embold- 
ened them to promise, that all the Lord their God had 
said they would do and be obedient; though they were 
really destitute of every holy exercise. Christ deeply 
impressed the minus of multitudes by his preaching 
and miracles, who mistook their selfish joy and admir- 
ation, excited by such means, for gracious affections. 
And men are no less disposed now, than they were in 
Christ's day, to believe that all their tender feelings, 
which are excited by solemn scenes, solemn objects, 
and solemn motives, are truly virtuous. They think, 
if they love, or ft\ir, or submit, or rejoice, or hope, or 
resolve, while the means of grace are used with them, 
these exercises of the heart cannot be wrong, because 
they are produced by means which are good. And 
though Christ has told them, that a corrupt tree cannot 
bring forth good fruit, nor an evil heart bring forth 
gracious affections, yet they will believe, that their self- 
ish feelings, under religious means, are the essence of 
true religion, it is often said, and still oftener thought, 
that tlie preaching of the gospel, the providence of God, 
and the common influence of the Spirit, cannot be the 

SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 141 

means of producing selfish and sinful affections. It is 
true, indeed, sucli religious manurings and cultivations 
may produce gracious effects; but it is equally true, that 
they may produce the most selfish and criminal affec- 
tions. Hence men have no just ground to conclude, 
that their religious views and feelings are of the right 
kind, merely because they can tell what text, or what 
sermon, or what affliction deeply impressed their minds, 
and turned their attention to God and divine objects. 
But there is reason to fear, that both saints and sinners 
do, in this and in many other cases, mistake their self- 
ish feelings tor benevolent affections. 

And this leads me to show, 

II. That men have no right to make this mistake 
in any case whatsoever. For, 

1. There is a wide and essential difference between 
holy and unholy affections. Darkness is not more 
opposite to light, nor cold to heat, than selfishness is to 
tj'ue benevolence. The nature of the one is to promote 
private, and the nature of the other irj,to promote pub- 
lic good. All selfish affections are interested, and ter- 
minate in the good of the person who feels them; but 
benevolent affections are disinterested, and seek a more 
noble and disinterested object. This contrariety be- 
tween holy and unholy affections lays a foundation for 
every person, in all cases, to know what manner of 
spirit he is of. God has given all men a moral sense, 
which enables them to distinguish the nature of all their 
moral exercises, and to know whether they are of a 
selfish or benevolent kind. If they will only consult 
conscience and allow it to do its office, they may in all 
cases infallibly determine whether they are seeking a 
selfish or benevolent good. And they have no right to 
judge of the nature of any of their affections, without 
consulting conscience, nor to form an opinion in oppo- 

142 SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 

sition to its infallible dictates. There is no affection of 
the heart but what may be brought before this tribunal, 
and have its nature and tendency clearly and justly 
ascertained. It must be owing to some blameable 
negligence, inattention, or partiality, therefore, if either 
saints or sinners, in any case, mistake the nature of 
their moral exercises, and imagine that their affections 
are holy when they are really sinlul. As they are 
always capable of forming a true judgment of their 
own hearts, so they have no right, under any circum- 
stances, to think them better, or worse than they are 
in reality. 

2. God has given them all proper and necessary 
means to assist them in knowing their own hearts. He 
has laid down in his word a great variety of marks 
oF true and false love, by which they may compare 
and judge of their moral exercises. He has plainly 
told them how selfishness and benevolence will operate 
and oppose each other. And he has set before them 
a great many striking examples of holy and unholy 
men, which illustrate the nature of holiness and unho- 
liness, in the most plain and instructive manner. In 
the conduct of Abel and Cain, of Moses and Pharaoh, 
of Elijah and Ahab, of John and Judas, and of many 
more mentioned in Scripture, the opposite natures of 
holiness and sin, or benevolence and selfishness are 
visibly delineated. Indeed, it is next to impossible, 
that any should read the history which God has given 
of mankind, and not perceive the essential difference 
between right and wrong, holy and unholy affections. 
The Bible history is a glass, in which all men may 
clearly discover their own moral features, and easily 
determine what manner of persons they are. Under 
so many means of knowing himself, no man has a 

SERMON Vllf. Luke ix, 55. 143 

rlgiit to think himself something when he is nothings 
or to mistake his selfishncssfor b eiievolence. 

3. God has expressly toi bidden men to mistake the 
nature of their religious affections, and to deceive 
themselves in respect to their spiritual state. He says 
repeatedly, "Be not deceived." And again he says, 
"Let no man deceive himself." Christ demanded of 
sinners, ''Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye 
not what is right?" And when his disciples mistook 
the nature of their zeal, he condemned them for their 
self deception. ""Ye know not what manner of spirit 
ye are of." After God has given men the power and 
the means of distinguishing the essential difference be- 
tween nature and grace, he may very justly forbid 
them to mistake their natural affections for gracious 
exercises. The divine prohibitions in regard to self- 
deception are as just and binding as any other prohi- 
bitions against any other moral evil; and men have no 
more ji;;ht to deceive themselves concerninGi; their own 
hearts, than they have to practise any other deception 
or hypocrisy. Besides, 

4. They cannot mistake the nature of their moral 
exei\;ises, unless they are under the influence of some 
selfish and sinful motive, which they have no right to 
comply with. True benevolence will naturally lead 
persons to judge righteous judgment respf^cting the na- 
ture of all their religious exercises and external con- 
duct. It is only while men are under the reigning 
power of selfishness, that they desire to think too favour- 
ably of their own hearts, and mistake sinful for holy 
exercises. Were they to judge of their views and feel- 
ings, only while in the exercise of grace, they would 
judge impartially, and clearly distinguish their wrong 
from right exercises. It must, therefore, always be 
wrong for men to mistake their selfish feelings for 


144 SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 

benevolent affections, because they can never make this 
dangerous mistake, unless they are under the blinding 
influence of that selfishness, which they have no right 
in any case to indulge. 


1. If men may mistake their selfish feelings for 
benevolent affections; then they may likewise mistake 
their benevolent affections for selfish feelings. Though 
they are more liable to mistake nature for grace, than 
grace for nature; yet there are various ways in which 
they may run into this less common and less danger- 
ous error. The best of christians are often too inat- 
tentive to the exercises of their own minds, by which 
they are liable to mistake their holy for unholy affec- 
tions. They are so sensible of the corruption of their 
hearts, and so often discover wrong motives of con- 
duct, that they are ready to suspect the nature of their 
good exercises, which are mixed with so many that 
they know to be evil. Or they may become so dull 
and stupid, and have so little grace, that they cannot 
discover it, without mare than common attention, 
which they are indispos'ed to give. So that when they 
are awakened to realize their spiritual leanness and 
languishment, they are siiipiized, and ready to give up 
all their past hopes, and to sink down in deep despon- 
dency. This is the natural and painful consequence 
of their mistaking the few holy exercises they have for 
selfish feelings. And whenever they suffer themselves 
to depart from God and grow cold and formal in the 
duties of devotion, tliry may justly expect, that their 
sinful declension will be followed with darkness, 
doubts, and distressing fears. 

There is another way in which gloomy christians 
may mistake the nature of tlicir pious affections, and 

SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 145 

that is, by being too much afraid of deceiving them- 
selves. In their dark and gloomy frames, they have 
an awful apprehension of the danger of self-deception, 
which leads them to ponder on the dark side of things, 
and to search after all possible evidence against them- 
selves, in order to know the very worst of their case. 
And while they are doing this, they either overlook, 
or reject all evidence in their favour, because they feel 
bound in duty to give up their hope. Hence, like 
David, they refuse to be comforted, by calling in ques- 
tion not only the sincerity of their present feelings, but 
also the sincerity of all their past exercises of love, 
faith, repentance, submission, joy, and peace, which 
they once thought were of the right kind, and which 
afforded them great satisfaction and enjoyment. Un- 
der such gloomy circumstances, many real, and some 
eminent christians, have mistaken grace for nature, and 
ascribed all their pious affections to selfish motives, 
which has given them a great deal of needless, and 
worse than needless anxiety and distress. 

Besides these two, there is a third way in which 
some good men may mistake the nature of their reli- 
gious exercise, and conclude that they have never ex- 
perienced a saving change. It is, by con^ring tliera- 
sclves with themselves, or with other^hom they 
esteem better than themselves. Though they know 
by experience, that they have actually exercised love, 
faith, repentance, godly sorrow, humility, submission, 
and self-denial; yet they fmd that they have not been 
uniform, consistent, and pe; severing in these exercises, 
but have often had very diiltTi^i.t and contradictory 
views and feelings. And this want of uniformity and 
consistency in their religious exercises, they consider as 
a conclusive evidence of their insincerity and graceless 
state, though it is in reality only an evidence of that 

146 SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 

imperfection in holiness, which the Scripture represents 
as common to all christians in this life. They may 
likewise run into the same error respecting their spirit- 
ual state, by comparing themselves with others, whom 
they view as eminently pious. When they hear such 
persons relate what light they have had in reading the 
Scriptures, what peace and comfort and freedom they 
have enjoyed in secret devotions, and how little they 
have been troubled with darkness, doubts, or fears, 
they are ready to conclude, that they themselves are 
strangers to true religion, because they have never ex- 
perienced the same high and lively exercises of grace. 
But no real christians have a right, in this or any other 
way, to mistake their real character and condition. 
They ought to be very thankful for the least spark of 
saving grace. 

2. If men are apt to mistake the nature of their 
moral exercises; then good men are very liable to 
think they have more grace, than they really possess. 
This wasthe case of the disciples, whom Christ rebuked 
for esteeming themselves better than they were in his 
impartial eye. They supposed they felt a pure and 
holy zeal for his honour, while they were indulging a 
false and selfish zeal for their own reputation. All 
good menWe equally liable to the same species of self- 
deception. Their natural affections often run in the 
same channel, and towards the same objects, with 
their gracious exercises; and when this happens, they 
are apt to think, that they have more love, more faith, 
more self-denial, and more holy joy and gratitude, 
than they really feel or express. Their good exercises 
predominate, and give an amiable complexion to all 
the seifish feelings of their hearts. And though they 
might distinguish their wrong affections from their 
right ones; yet their self-love leads them to think more 

SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. HI 

highly of themselves, than they ought to think, which 
is the essence of spiritual pride. This is a secret sin, 
which most insensibly besets good men. How often 
did God reprove his ancient people for their high and 
unreasonable opinion of their goodness? How often 
did Christ rebuke the Scribes and Pharisees for their 
spiritual ,pride and self-conceit? Yea, how often 
did he rebuke his own disciples for the same sin? He 
reproved Peter for his pride and self-confidence. He 
reproved the sons of Zebedee for their ambitious views 
and claims. And he visited Paul with a thorn in the 
flesh, to make him think soberly and as he ought to 
think of himself. Were men perfectly good, they 
would never be proud of their goodness; but while 
they remain imperfect, they are as liable to overrate 
their goodness, as any other personal quality or excel- 
lence. There is reason to fear, that not only pious, 
but eminently pious men, do often entertain a too 
high opinion of their piety, by mistaking many of their 
selfish feelings for pure and disinterested benevolence. 
And if they would only scrutinize their religious ex- 
ercises with impartiality, and compare them with the 
law of love and the spirit of Christ, they would find 
abundant reason to humble themselves, like Hezekiah^ 
for the pride of their hearts. 

3. If men are prone to mistake their selfish feelings 
for benevolent affections; then we may easily see wliy 
they so generally disbelieve the doctrine of total de- 
pravity, which is plainly taught in the word of God. 
None pretend to deny, that mankind are sinners, and 
very far from being so good as they ought to be. But 
few, however, are disposed to believe, that any of the 
human race are totally depraved, and entirely desti- 
tute of every right exercise of heart. Most men im- 
agine, that the worst of sinners have some sparks of 

148 SERMON Vlir. Luke ix, 55. 

goodness, and, in their sober intervals, form some 
good resolutions, and perform some good actions. 
They form this favourable opinion of human 
nature, from their own experience. They are con- 
scious, that they were never so stupid, so hardened^ 
or so wholly inclined to evil, as to have no desires, nor 
endeavours to feel and act right; but, on the other hand, 
they have often pitied the afflicted, relieved the dis- 
tressed, and done a great many things on purpose to 
promote the good of their fellow creatures. A con- 
sciousness of such feelings and conduct, naturally leads 
them to conclude, that there is no such thing as total 
depravity in any human heart. But if selfishness 
mciy pi^t on the appearance of benevolence, it is easy 
to discover the fallacy of this mode of reasoning. 
Those who argue in this manner, mistake selfish feel- 
ings for benevolent affections. And they will continue 
to make this mistake, until the divine law is set home 
upon tiieir conscience. Paul had no apprehension of 
his total depravity, until the commandment came, and 
conviiici'd iiim that there was no good thing in his 
heart. He thought he was blameless, while he was 
under the entire dominion of sin; and he thought so 
from his own experience. And it is very difficult to 
make any sinners think otherwise of themselves, until 
their conscience is awakened to distinguish nature from 
gtace, or their selfish feelings from benevolent affec- 

4. If men have no right to mistake the nature of 
any of their moral exercises; then real christians have 
no right to doubt of their good estate. They have 
gracious affections, which are diametrically opposite 
to selfish feelings; and those gracious affections would 
afford them a satisfying evidence of a saving change, 
if they would only distinguish them from their unho- 
ly exercises. Their holy affections are an infallible 

SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 149 

evidence of their being born of God, and having passed 
from death unto life, notwithstanding any contrary 
feelings. Their remaining corruptions do, indeed, 
prove that they are imperfect in holiness, but do not 
prove that they are in a state of nature, and wholly 
destitute of grace. There is no man that liveth and 
sinneth not. The best of men in this world are more 
or less burdened with sin and guilt. The apostle Paul 
himself groaned under this burden. He said, "O 
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from 
the body of this death?" But notwithstanding this, 
he could say, "I delight in the law of God after the 
inward man." His unholy exercises were no counter 
evidence to his holy ones, and therefore were no just 
cause of doubting of his good estate. His conscious- 
ness of sincerely loving the divine law, was an infalli- 
ble evidence of the renovation of his heart, and of his 
reconciliation to God and title to pardoning mercy. 
All true christians do as really love God and his holy 
law, as the apostle did, and they may be as conscious 
of their holy affections as he was, and of course may 
know, as he did, that they are in a state of grace and 
favour with God. It is upon this ground, that real 
christians are required to make their calling and elec- 
tion sure. This they all are capable of doing, and if 
they neglect to do it, they are guilty of refusing to be 
comforted, and of withholding from God that gratitude 
and praise, which his distinguishing grace demands. 
As they have experienced the grace of God in truth; 
so they ought to renounce their unreasonable doubts 
and fears, and to rejoice in a well grounded hope of 
eternal life. 

Finally, this subject calls upon all to inquire what 
manner of spirit they are of. IMie prcpenbity of 
mankind to mistake the nature of their moral exercises, 

150 SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 

and to judge too favourably of themselves, renders self- 
examination not only proper, but highly necessary. 
If Christ's first disciples had occasion to examine what 
spirit they were of, there is reason to think, that all 
other persons have much more occasion to look into 
their hearts, and inquire whether they have not been 
guilty of much self-deception, which is both criminal 
and dangerous. And if they would discover the truth 
upon this serious and interesting subject, let them an- 
swer some such questions as the following. 

Have you an inquisitive spirit respecting the nature 
of your religious affections, and the true state of your 
minds? There are many who are very inquisitive 
about other things, but have no inclination to acquire 
self-knowledge. They think much and say much 
about others, who appear to be destitute of vital piety 
and even moral honesty, while they totally neglect to 
call themselves to an account, and examine Iheir inter- 
nal views and feelings. But it is characteristical of 
good men to make diligent search, and commune with 
their own hearts. Have you this habitual desire to 
search and try yourselves, by the infallible rules, which 
God has given you for this purpose? Or do you live 
in the total or habitual neglect of this salutary and 
necessary duty? A true answer to this query will tend 
to determine, whether you are in a state of nature or 
state of grace, and whether you are growing or declin- 
ing christians. 

Have you examined yourselves impartially? If you 
examine your hearts ever so frequently, without an 
impartial and sincere desire to know what they are, 
you may only increase your self-deception, and become 
more and more ignorant of your true state and char- 
acter. It is to be feared, that many first entertain, and 
afterward support, their hope of being the subjects of 

SERMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 151 

a saving change, by a partial and selfish opinion of 
their religious views and feelings. Their hope origi- 
nated from a self-righteous spirit, and the same spirit 
governs them in their self-examination. They have 
never been willing to know the truth, and never 
will know it, unless they examine themselves with 
more impartiality. It concerns you, therefore, to in- 
quire whether you have had a sincere desire to know 
your own hearts, and have examined them with a real 
willingness to discover the nature of your affections, and 
the true state of your souls. 

Have you been so much acquainted with the natur- 
al deceitful ness of your hearts, as to find the need of 
critical and frequent self examination? Many have 
such a good opinion of their own hearts, as never to 
call their goodness in question; which is an unhappy 
sign, that they have never known their native and to- 
tal depravity. Real christians know, by painful expe- 
rience, that their hearts, are by nature, deceitful above 
all things and desperately wicked. They have found 
the folly and danger of trusting in their good desires, 
intentions, and resolutions. They have known to 
their sorrow, that their hearts are like a deceitful bow, 
always bent to backsliding. This has led them to re- 
alize the necessity of watching and examining their 
hearts with-' great diligence and impartiality. Has your 
experience, then, of the deceitfulness of your hearts led 
you to the frequent and faithful performance of this 

Have you used all the proper means in your power 
to discover your spiritual state, and the nature of your 
religious experiences? Perhaps, you have been serious- 
ly affected by the word or providence of God. Per- 
haps, you have seen your exposedness to eternal de- 
struction, and felt great anxiety to escape the wrath 

152 SERxMON VIII. Luke ix, 55. 

to come. And perhaps, you have been convinced of 
your just desert of that everlasting punishment, which 
you feared. But, after all, have you become reconcil- 
ed to the justice of God in your condemnation? Have 
you cordially embraced the offers of life, and taken 
God for your supreme portion? If you have not exer- 
cised such love and submission to God, and such de- 
pendence upon sovereign grace, your fears and convic- 
tions can afford you no just foundation to think, that 
you have passed from death unto life, and become the 
heirs of salvation. Now have you compared your 
views and feelings with the marks of grace in the word 
of God? Have you read the best books you could get 
upon experimental religion? Have you conversed free- 
ly with judicious christians of your acquaintance? And 
have you earnestly prayed, that God would search 
your hearts, and not suffer you to deceive yourselves 
in the great concerns of your souU? 

Finally, have you ever come to a decision respecting 
your spiritual state? Many choose to live in doubt, 
rather than to come to a fair and satisfactory conclu- 
sion, whether they are, or are not the true friends of 
God. This is a dark mark. Real christians are wil- 
lino- to know the truth, whether it be in their favour or 
against them. They sincerely desire to knj)vv wheth- 
er they are in the path that leads to heavlft, or in that 
which leads to destruction. If they fmd evidence, that 
God has formed them vessels of mercy, they desire to 
give up themselves publickly to his service, and to walk 
worthy of their high and holy calling, and to lead 
others to glorify their heavenly Father. Have you 
then come to a decision, and found your path clear to 
do your whole duty? 



Galatians V, 22. 
Bid (he fruit of the Spirit is love. 

THOUGH christians generally believe, that men must 
be born of the Spirit in order to enter into the kingdcrn 
of God; yet they are not so well agreed in respect to 
the nature of this new birth. Some suppose, that 
the Spirit of God renews men, by merely reforming 
their external conduct. Some suppose, that he renews 
them, by merely implanting a new principle of holiness 
in their minds, without produciilg any holy exercises. 
And some suppose, that he renews them, by shedding 
abroad the love of God in their hearts, and making 
them actively holy. Now, this is the effect, and the on- 
ly Cilfect, which, the apostle tells us. the divine Spirit pro- 
duces in the hearts of men, in regeiicration '-The 
fruit of the Spirit is Love.''"' Love is the fulfilling of 
the law, the bond of perfectness. and the essence of all 
true holiness. As soon as the Spirit of God produces 
love or true benevolence in the hearts of sinners, he 
makes them holy as their Father who is in heaven is 
holy, and instamps upon them his moral image, of 
which they had been totally destitute before. The 
true meaning of the text may be properly expressed 
in this general observation; 

That the Spirit of God, in regeneration, produces 
nothing but love. 

I shall show, 

I. That the Spirit of God, in regeneration, produces 
nothing but love. 

II That he does produce love. 

III. That the love which he produces, is the essence 
and source of all holy or gracious atYections. 

154 SERMON IX. Gal. v, ^2. 

I. I am to show, that the Spirit of God, in regen- 
eration, produces nothing but love. 

He does, indeed, often strive with sinners, and some- 
times very powerfully, without softening or subduing 
their hearts in the least degree. He strove a long time 
with that ungodly and incorrigible generation, who 
were finally swept away by the flood. He strove with 
the rebellious Israelites, who perished in the wilder- 
ness. He awakened and convinced many under 
John's and Christ's, and the Apostles' preaching, whom 
he never renewed or converted. And he commonly 
alarms the fears and awakens the consciences of those 
sinners whom he int^ids to renew, some time before 
he effectually changes their hearts. This he does, to 
prepare them for regeneration, in which he forms 
them vessels of mercy. The only question now be- 
fore us is, whether, in the act of regeneration, he pro- 
duces any thing besides love. And here we may 
safely say, that he does not produce any thing besides 
love, in regeneration, because there is no need of his 
producing any other effect, in that saving change. 
Sinners possess all the natural powers and faculties, 
which belong to human nature, and which are neces- 
sary to constitute them moral agents, before they are 
made the subjects of grace. They are capable of 
knowing God, of understanding the gospel, and of 
performing every duty, which is enjoined upon them^ 
by divine authority. Our Saviour said of those, who 
had not the love of God in them, "they have both 
seen and hated both me and my Father. ' Those in 
the state of nature stand in no need of having any 
new power, or faculty, or principle of action, produc- 
ed in them, in order to their becoming holy. They are 
just as capable of loving, as of hating God; and it is 
for this reason, that he requires them to love him, and 

SERMON IX. Gal. v, 22. 155 

forbids them to hate him, in his law, which is holy, 
just, and good. Manasseh was as capable of doing 
good, as of doing evil, before he was renewed; and 
Paul was as capable of promoting, as of opposing the 
cause of Christ, before he was converted. This is true 
of all sinners, who are as much moral agents, and as 
proper subjects of moral government, before as after 
regeneration. Whenever, therefore, the divine Spirit 
renews, regenerates, or sanctifies them, he has no oc- 
casion of producing any thing in their minds, besides 
love. This, indeed, he has occasion to produce, be- 
cause their carnal mind is enmity against God, not 
subject to his law, neither indeed can be. In regard 
to the exercise of their minds, they need an essential 
change; but in regard to the powers and faculties of 
their minds, they need no change. All that the Spirit 
of God has to do, in regeneration, is to change the 
hearts of sinners from sin to holiness, or from hatred 
to love. And this, I now proceed to show, 

II. Is the effect, which he actually does produce, 
in regeneration. "The fruit of the Spirit is love," saj^s 
the apostle in the text. His words are very plain and 
emphatical. He does not say, that the fruit of the 
Spirit is a new taste, or relish, or disposition, or prin- 
ciple, but is love, and nothing which is previous to it, 
or the foundation of it. And this representation of 
regeneration is agreeable to many others, which we 
find in the New Testanient, where this saving change 
is more clearly described, than it is in the Old Testa- 
ment, though even there, the circumcision of the heart 
is represented as the production of love. Moses tells 
the people, that their hearts should be circumcised "to 
love the Lord their God." The description of the new 
birth, which Christ gave to Nicodcmus, deserves pe- 
culiar attention. ''Jesus said unto him, Verily, verily 

156 SERMON IX. Gal. v, 22. 

I say unto you, Except a man be born again, he can- 
not see the kingdom of God." He proceeds to say 
further, "Except a man be born of water and of the 
Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." 
And he immediately subjoins an explanation of this 
divine change. ''That which is born of the flesh is 
flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." 
He here sets sin and holiness in contrast; for by flesh, 
he means sin; and by spirit, he means holiness. When 
the Spirit of God renews a sinner, he instamps his 
own moral image upon him, which consists in holi- 
ness; and we know that all holiness consists in love. 
The holiness of God consists in love, and therefore the 
holy Spirit must produce love in those whom he re- 
news and makes holy. Hence says the apostle John, 
"Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of 
God." And he expresses the same idea, when he 
says again, ''God is love; and he thatdwelleth in love, 
dwelleth in God, and God i,n him." But the apostle 
Paul is still more explicit upon this point, in the fifth 
of Romans, where he asserts, that he and other chris- 
tians had a hope, which made them not ashamed, "be- 
cause the love of God was shed abroad in their hearts, 
by the Holy Ghost." The nature of regeneration 
clearly appears from the necessity of it. The only rea- 
son why regeneration is necessary, is because sinners 
are morally and totally depraved. And their total 
moral depravity altogether consists in selfishness. 
They are lovers of tiieir own selves, and seek their 
own private, separate interest, in opposition to the in- 
terests of all other beings. This makes them enemies 
to God and to all righteousness, and disposes them to 
injure, and as far as they can, to destroy all, who ap- 
pear to stand in the way of their selfish interests and 
designs. This total depravity renders them unfit for 

SERMON IX. Gal. v, 22. 157 

the kingdom of GoJ, and incapable of enjoying 
the blessings of it, and to remove this disquali- 
fication for heaven, tlicy must be regereiated or born 
again. Regeneration, therefore, must consist in the 
production of love or true benevolence. There is no 
other conceivable way, in which the Spirit of God can 
remove their selfishness, but by producing benevolence, 
or sheddins; abroad the love of God in their heaits. 
This will slay their enmity, reconcile them ,to God, 
unite them to Christ, and fit them for htaven. And 
we now appeal to all who have been born again, 
whether they ever experienced any other change, in 
regeneration, than a change from selfishness to be- 
nevolence, fi-om hatred to love, and fi*om opposition 
to reconciliation to God. Scripture, reason, and ex- 
psrience, all concur to prove, that the Spirit of God, 
in regeneration, produces love, and nothing but love, 
in the hearts of those, whom he raises from spiritual 
death to spiritual life. It now remains to show, 

III. That love, which the holy Spirit produces, in 
regeneration, is the essence and source of all holy or 
gracious affections. It is generally supposed, that re- 
generation lays the foundation of ail the exercises of 
grace. But many maintain, that this cannot be true, 
unless the divine Spirit produces a principle of grace, 
which is p/ior to love, and every other gracious exer- 
cise. But this opinion does not appear to be well 
founded. The love which the Spirit cf God produces, 
in regeneration, is the love of benevolence, and not 
the love of complacence. It is not, perhaps, possible, 
in the nature of things, that the love of benevolence 
should take place in the heart of any man, before the 
love of oom pkeewioe ; because he cannot see the divine 
beauty and excellence of benevolence, before he has 
felt it in his own b east. Hence benevolence will pro- 

158 SERMON IX. Gal. v, 22. 

duce complacence, but complacence will not produce 
benevolence. But as soon as a man feels benevolence, 
in himself, he will love benevolence and every holy 
affection, in God, and in the friends of God. Do not 
many christians well remember; that when they were 
first regenerated, they, instantaneously, felt benevo- 
lently and friendly to all around them, whether friends 
or foes; and in consequence of that, immediately ex- 
ercised peculiar love and complacency towards God. and 
towards all who appeared to bear his moral imagei* 
Such are the natural and genuine effects oj that love 
of benevolence, which the Spirit of God produces, in 
regeneration. It is the foundation, essence, and source, 
of all holy or gracious affections. So the apostle 
plainly represents it, in the text and context. "But 
the fruit of the Spirit is love," that is, the love of be- 
nevolence. And the fruits or effects of this love of 
benevolence are, "joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, 
goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." As the love 
of benevolence comprises all the moral perfections of 
the Deity, so the love of benevolence comprises all the 
virtuous and holy exercises which compose the chris- 
tian character, Accordingly, v.hcn the divine Spirit 
produces the love of benevolence in the human heart, 
he lays a foundation for joy, peace, and every other 
holy affection. Benevolent love is the root, from 
which all holy feelings and conduct naturally spring. 
It produces every thing which the law requires, and 
which is necessary to perfect obedience. This will 
more fully appear, if we trace the catalogue of graces, 
which the apostle mentions, to the source from which 
they ilow. 

From holy love proceeds holy joy. This is a 
branch of true benevolence. When a sinner, who has 
been hating and opposing God, and murmuring and 

SERMON IX. Gal. v, 22. . 159 

complaining under a painful sense of his holy and ir- 
resistible sovereignty, has holy love shed abroad in 
his heart, his mind is naturally filled with joy. lie 
rejoices in the being, perfections, and government of 
God. He sees the earth to be full of the goodness of 
the Lord, and wonders why he had never before re- 
joiced in the displays of his glory. He is ready to 
call upon all around him to praise the Lord, for all his 
astonishing goodness and grace to the children of men. 
Holy joy, is one of the first effects, which flow from 
that holy love, which is produced by the holy Spirit, 
in regeneration. 

From holy love proceeds, not only holy joy, but 
holy peace. In the exercise of divine love, the renew- 
ed sinner enjoys that peace of God, which passeth all 
understanding. He finds peace as well as joy, in be- 
lieving. He feels at peace with God, with the friends 
of God; and with all mankind. He enjoys that solid 
and permanent peace, which the world cannot give, 
and which the world cannot take away. I might 
now go on, and show how love will produce not only 
joy and peace, but faith, and goodness, and gentleness, 
and meekness, and long-suffering, and every other vir- 
tuous and amiable affection; but I will only iurther 
observe, that divine love will dispose men to pay uni- 
versal obedience to the divine commands. It will 
dispose them, to call upon God in secret, in private, 
and in publick. It will dispose them, to remember 
the Sabbath day, and to keep it holy. It will dispose 
them, to seek the glory of God in whatever they do. 
It will dispose them, to avoid every appearance of 
evil, and steadily pursue the path of duty. It will, in 
a word, make them new ci'eatures, and cause them to 
walk in newness of life. Hence says the apostle, "If 
an^ man be in Chrisi, he h a new creature: old things 

160 . SERMON IX. Gal. v, 22. 

^.re passed away, and all things are become new.- 
Thus it appears, that the holy Spirit, in regeneration, 
produces that pure, holy, disinterested love, which is 
the source of all holiness and obedience. Though 
there is no natural or necessary connexion between 
the first exercise of love, and ail future exercises of 
grace; yet there is a constituted connexion, which ren- 
ders future exercises of grace as certain, as if they 
flowed from a new nature, or holy principle, as many 
suppose. For those who maintain, that a new na- 
tui'e or principle of grace is given, in regeneration, 
still suppose, that the new nature or principle of grace 
is not always in exercise, and never produces any holy 
affections, without the special influence of the divine 
Spirit upon the heart. And if this w-ere true, the cer- 
tainty of a continuation of holy exercises, would be no 
greater, on the supposition of a new principle implant- 
ed in the mind, in regeneration, than on the supposi^ 
tion of the production of a new exercise of love. For 
love will no more flow from a principle of love, with- 
out a divine influence, than joy or peace, or any other 
gracious exercise, will flow from love, without a divine 
influence. So that upon any supposition whatever, 
the continuance of giace, after regeneration, must ab- 
solutely depend upon a continued operation of the 
Spirit of God upon the mind of every one who has 
been regenerated. And this being the case, the pro- 
duction of love, in regeneration, must lay as solid and 
permanent foundation for a holy life, as the implanta- 
tion of a new principle, disposition, or moral taste, 
could possibly lay. When the holy Spirit produces 
love in the soul, in which Jthere was nothing but self- 
ishness before, he effects an essential change in the 
heart, and forms the subject of grace after the moral 
image of God. and prepai'es him for the kingdom of 

SERMON IX. Gal. v, tt. 15i 

heaven. And this is as great and as good a change a*5. 
tan be produced in the human heart. 


1. If the Spirit of God produces nothing but love 
in regeneration; then there is no ground for the distinc- 
tion, which is often made between regeneration, con- 
version, and sanctification. They are, in nature and 
kind, precisefy the same fruits of the Spirit. In regen- 
eration, he produces holy exercises; in conversion, he 
produces holy exercises; and in sanctification, he pro- 
duces holy exercises. Accordingly, the inspired 
writers usie the terms regeneration, conversion, and 
sanctification, to denote the same holy and gracious 
affections. But systematick divines generally use 
them, to signify very different things. They use regen- 
eration, to denote the Spirit's operation, in producing a 
new heart, or a new nature, or a new principle, which 
is prior to and the foundation of, all holy exercises. 
They use conversion, to signify the Spirit's operation, 
in producing love, repentance, and faith; which are im- 
plied in embracing the gospel. And they use sanctifi- 
cation, to signify the Spirit's operation in producing all 
future exercises of grace. But the Scripture makes no 
such distinction, between regeneration, converf:!on, and 
sanctification. The sacred writers use these terms in- 
discriminately, to denote not only the first, but the fol- 
lowing effects, of the Spirit's operation upon the hearts 
of christians. They represent conversion and sanctifi- 
cation, as continued regeneration, and produced in the 
same manner, by a special, divine influence. Paul 
tells the Philippians, that he was confident, "that he 
who had begun a good work in them would 
perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Upon this 

ground, he exhorts tlie same persons to work out their 

162 SERiMON IX. Gal. v, 22. 

salvation with 'fear and trembling. "For, says he, it is 
God who worketh in you both to will and to do his 
good pleasure." He expresses the same sentiment in 
his prayer for the Hebrews. "Now the God of peace, 
that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus that 
great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the 
everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good 
work to do his will, working in you that which is well 
pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ.'*^ These pas- 
sages perfectly accord with the language of the text and 
context. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, 
long-sufferings gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, 
temperance." According to the whole tenor of Scrip- 
ture, the Spirit of God produces all holy exercises in 
the hearts of saints. He first produces love, then re- 
pentance, then faith, and every other holy affection 
through life, until he has carried sanctification to per- 
fection in the kingdom of glory. The terms regener- 
ation, conversion, and sanctification, may be used, to 
denote the distinction of Order in the operations of 
the Spirit, but not to denote a distinction of Nature, 
or of Manner, in his gracious operations. He produ- 
ces the same exercises of holiness, and in the same 
manner, in renewing, converting, and sanctifying the 
hearts of christians. So that there is not the least foun- 
dation in Scripture, reason, or experience, for the com- 
mon distinction between regeneration, conversion, and 

2. If the Spirit of God in regeneration produces 
liothing but love; then men are no more passive in re- 
generation, than in conversion, or sanctification. 
Those who hold, that the divine Spirit, in regenera- 
tion, produces something prior to love, and the foun- 
dation of it; that is, a new nature, or new principle of 
holiness, maiuUin that men are passive in regenera- 

SERMON IX. Gal. v, 22 16^ 

tion, but active in conversion and sanctification. And 
if the Spirit of God produces something beside love, in 
regeneration, and implants a new principle of action 
in the soul, it must be allowed, that men are really 
passive in regeneration, and active only in conversion 
and sanctification. But if what has been said, in this 
discourse, be true, there is no new nature, or principle 
of action, produced in regeneration, but only love, 
which is actively itself. The first fruit of the Spirit is 
love, and nothing besides, before, or different from 
love; and it is universally allowed, that men are active 
in exercising love to God or man. Accordingly, the 
Scripture requires men to be active in regeneration, con- 
version, and sanctification; for it requires them to be re- 
generated, to be converted, and to be sanctified, with- 
out suggesting the idea of passivity in respect to either 
of these duties. This will clearly appear from the ex- 
press commands of God. Hear his command in the 
tenth chapter of Deuteronomy. "Circumcise the fore- 
skin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked." 
Hear his command in the fourth chapter of Jeremiah. 
'•Thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jeru- 
salem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not 
among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, 
and takeaway the foreskins of your hearts, ye men 
of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury 
come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench 
it." Hear his command in the eighteenth chapter of 
Ezekiel. "Cast away from you all your transgres-. 
sions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a 
now heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O 
house of Israel?" In these commands, God requires 
men to be regenerated, upon pain of eternal death. 

God commands men to be converted, as well as re- 
generated, or to become cordially reconciled to bim. 

164 SERMON IX. Gal. v, %% 

3y Isaiah he says, 'Let the wicked forsake his way, 
and th<" unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him re- 
turn unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; 
and to our God, for lie will abundantly pardon." By 
Ezekiel he says, "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil 
ways: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" By 
John the Baptist he says, "Repent ye: for the king- 
dom of heaven is at hand." By Christ he says, "The 
time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; 
repent ye, and believe the gospel." By Peter he 
says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your 
sins may be blotted out." And Paul says, "Now 
then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God 
did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, 
Be yc reconciled to God." TJiese divine precepts ex- 
pressly require men to be converted. 

There are other commands of God, which as plain- 
ly and expressly require men to be sanctified, as to be 
regenerated and converted. Among many others, 
the following deserve particular attention. "Be ye 
holy; for I am holy." 'Keep yourselves in the love 
of God." "Graee in grace." "Add to your faith vir- 
tue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge tem- 
perance, and to temperance patience, and to patience 
godliness, and to godliness brotherly-kindness, and to 
brotherly-kindness charity." "Therefore, my beloved 
brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abound- 
ing in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as ye know 
that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 

LettheSv? tiiree classes of commands be critically ex- 
aminea and compared, and every one must see, that 
God as plainly and expressly requires men to be re- 
generated, as to be converted or sanctified. And if 
this be true, it necessarily follows, that men are no 
?iHO,re passive in regeneration, than in conversion or 

SERMON IX. Gal. v. 22. 165 

sanctification. The truth is, men are regenerated, con- 
verted, and sanctified, by the special operation of the 
divine Spirit, and are ahvays equally active under 
his gracious influence. For it is impossible, that he 
should produce love, or repentance, or faith, or any 
other gracious desire, affection, or volition, without 
their being active. The supposition that men are 
passive, under the regenerating, converting, or sanctify- 
ing influence of the Spirit of God, is not only unrea- 
sonable and unscriptural, but inconsistent with every 
command in the Bible. 

3. If the hcly Spirit, in regeneration, produces, 
nothing but love, or holy exercises; then the regener- 
ate are as dependent upon him for their future, as for 
their first, exercises of grace. Regeneration gives them 
no new principle, nor new power. They are no more 
able to act of themselves, or independently of a divine 
influence, than they were before they were renewed. 
The same divine influence is as necessary to produce 
the second, as the first exercise of love, the third, as 
the second exercise of love, and all future exercises of 
love, as tlie preceding ones. The preparation of their 
heart and the answer of their tongue, is continually 
from the Lord. He works in them both to will and 
to do in every duty. Tiiey are not sufficient of them- 
selves to think any thing as of themselves; but their 
sufficiency is of God. David freely acknowledged be- 
fore God h:s need of divine influence, in every act of 
obedience. "I will run the vvay of thy command- 
ments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart." Jeremiah 
humbly said, "O Lord, I know that the way of man 
is not in hims If: it is not in man that walketh to di- 
rect his steps." Solomon said to his son, "Trust in 
the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine 
o\vn understanding. In all thy ways acknowledg;e 

166 SERMON IX. Gal. v, 22. 

him, and he shall direct thy paths." Every true saint 
can sincerely adopt the language of David, in his ad- 
dresses to God from day to day. "Let the words of 
my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be accep - 
table in thy sight, O Loixl, my strength, and my re- 
deemer." The more christians grow in grace, and 
become acquainted with their own hearts, the less 
confidence they have in themselves, and the more they 
realize their continual need of the sanctifying and 
quickening influences of the divine Spirit. 

4. If the Spirit of God produces nothing but love in 
regeneration; then it is no more a supernatural work, 
on the part of God, than any other divine operation 
upon the minds of men. The Spirit of God has al- 
ways produced holy love in the hearts of the angels 
of light; but who can suppose, that this is a supernat- 
ural or miraculous operation? The Spirit of God 
produced holy love in the hearts of our first parents 
before they apostatized; but who can "suppose, that he 
operated supernaturally or miraculously upon their 
minds? There is nothing more supernatural or miracu- 
lous, in the divine Spirit's producing holy love in those, 
who have been once destitute of it, than in producing 
the same holy affection in those, who have never been 
sinful. In regenerating a sinner, the Spirit does not 
counteract any law of nature, nor produce any mirac- 
ulous effect. He did operate supernaturally, when he 
gave to one the word of wisdom; to another the word 
of knowledge; to another the gifts of healing; to anoth- 
er the working of miracles, to another prophecy; to 
another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of 
tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. All 
these were supernatural effects, produced in a super- 
natural manner. But the working; in men both to 
will and to do is right, is no supernatural effect, 

SERMON IX. Gal. V, 22. I6i 

and no other than what he has done for neaily six 
thousand years together. It is ti ue, indeed, that re- 
generation, conversion, and sanctification are all pro- 
duced by the special operations of the Spirit. They 
may be called special, because he renews, converts, 
and sanctifies some and not others; and because, in re- 
generation, conversion, and sanctification, he produces 
those gracious affections, which are not common to 
mankind. There is reason to believe, that the speak- 
ing of regeneration, conversion, or sanctification, as 
a supernatural woik, has led many to draw a very 
false and dangerous consequence from it. How many 
have hence inferred, that sinners are under a natural 
inability to love God, repent of sin, believe the gospel^ 
and obey, from the heart, any of the divine commands? 
It is difficult to see, why this inference is not just, if 
regeneration, conversion, or sanctification, is owing to 
a supernatural operation of the Spirit. For, who has 
a natural ability to work miracles? and who can be 
properly required to make him a new heart, repent of 
sin, believe thegospel, and obey every divine command, 
before he is the subject of the supernatural and mirac- 
ulous influences of the divine Spirit, if these are neces- 
sary to enable him to put foith such holy exercises? 
Those who preach, that regeneration, conversion, and 
sanctification, are produced by the supernatural power 
of the Holy Ghost, put an excuse into the mouths of 
sinners, which it is extremely difficult and even impos- 
sible to take away. This ought to teach teachers to 
use a more proper and scriptural language, in treating 
upon this solemn subject, 

.5. If the Spirit of God produces notliing but love, 
in regeneration; then sinners have no more excuse for 
not beginning to love God, than saii.ts have for not 
•Continuing to love Gtd. 1 luy can nO mc rr contiin- 

168 SERMON IX. Gal. v, 22. 

ue to love God, without a divine influence, than sin-* 
ners can begin to love God, without a divine influence. 
They are both equally and constantly dependent upon 
a divine influence, to do their duty. But who will 
say, that saints have any excuse, for not keeping them- 
selves in the love of God, and being steadfast and un- « 
moveable, in the performance of every duty, because 
God must work in them both to will and to do of his 
good pleasure? But if saints have no excuse, for the 
neglect of duty, then sinners have none. They cannot 
plead, that they are any more dependent upon divine 
influence, in order to love God, repent, believe the 
gospel, and obey the divine commands, than saints are. 
They need no other principle, power, or ability, to do 
all that God requires, than what they natuially pos- 
sess. It is true, they need a divine influence, and so 
do saints. Nothing but their hating God prevents 
their loving him; and they are just as able to love him, 
as they are to hate him. They must be, therefore, 
as totally inexcusable and self-condemned, for not 
loving and serving God, as the best saints on earth 
are, for neglecting any duty. The divine commands 
lie upon them in their full force, to make them a new 
heart, to repent of sin, and to believe the gospel, with* 
out delay. 

Finally, this subject teaches us, that the true, scrip- 
tural doctrine of regeneration, conversion, and sanctifi- 
cation, v;hich all mean the same thing, is perfectly con- 
sistent with all the commands, which God has given 
to saints and to sinners. If regeneration does not 
consist in any new principle of action, but only 
in the production of holy and benevolent exer- 
cises; tlien God niay consistently require saints to 
love him constantly and perfectly; and he may consist- 
ently require sinners to love him a^ constantly and per- 

SERMON IX. Gal. v, 22. 169 

fectly as saints. He may, with propriety, give the 
same commands to both. Though love be of God, 
and the fruit of the Spirit; yet both saints and sinners 
are bound to love God with all the heart, with all the 
soul, with all the mind, and with all the strength; and 
this obligation will lie upon them in its full weight to all 
eternity. It is an obligation which is founded in the 
nature of things, and which cannot be dissolved, as 
long as God remains supremely amiable, and they re- 
main capable of loving him with supreme affection. 




EzEKiEL xviii,31. 
And make you a new heart and a new spirit. 

THE Jews were now under the ccrrecting hand of 
God in Babylon; but instead of accepting the punish- 
ment of their iniquities and ascribing righteousness to 
their Maker, they bitterly complained of the severity 
and injustice of his conduct. They said, '-The fathers 
have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set 
on edge." God knew they meant to insinuate, that 
he was punishing them, not for their own sins, but for 
the sins of their fathers, which' he solemnly declares 
to be a false and absurd insinuation. "As I live, saith 
the Lord, ye shall not have occasion any more to use 
this proverb in Israel. Behold, ail souls are mine; as 
the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son, is 
mine; the soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall 
not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the fa- 
ther bear the iniquity of the son." But still they ob- 
jected, "the way of the Lord is not equal" God now 
appealed from their reason to their conscience, and 
demanded, "O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? 
Are not your ways unequal? Therefore I will judge 
you, O house of Israel, every one according to his 
w^ays, saith the Lord God: Repent and turn yourselves 
from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be 
your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgres- 
sions whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a 
new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O 
houge of Israel?" Here singers are expressly required 

SERMON X. EzEKiEL xviii, 31. 171 

to make them a new heart, as well as to repent and 
turn from all iniquity. The plain and important truth, 
therefore, which properly falls under our present con- 
sideration, is this: 

It is the duty of sinners to make them a new heart. 

I shall endeavour to show, 

I. What a new heart is. 

II. What it is to make a new heart. 

III. That this is the duty of sinners. 

The nature of this subject requires a careful and 
candid attention; especiallj^ the two fust branches of it, 
upon which a clear understanding of the whole de- 
pends. For if we can ascertain what a new heart is, 
and what it is to make a new heart, the proof of the 
doctrine will be easy, and the whole discourse plain 
and intelligible to every capacity. 

1. Let us consider what a new heart is. 

Though a new heart be a Scripture phrase and in 
common use, yet different men attach very different 
ideas to it; and for this reason I shall proceed gradual- 
ly in explaining it, and observe some things which it 
cannot mean. 

There is no ground to suppose, that it means any 
new natural power or faculty of the soul, which is 
necessary to render sinners capable of understanding 
and doing their duty. They are as completely moral 
agents as saints, and as completely capable, in point of 
natural ability, of understanding and obeying the will 
of God. He knew that those whom he addressed in 
the text, and required to make them a new heart, were 
possessed of reason, conscience, and every other natural 
faculty of the mind, and upon this ground alone, made 
that solemn appeal to them in a preceding verse, "Are 
not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?" 
Since God appeals to sinners as moral agents, we can- 

172 SERMON X. Ezekiel xviii, 31 

not suppose, that the new heart, which he requires 
them to make, is any natural power or faculty of 
mind, which they do not need, and which, if they did 
need, they could be under no obligation to obtain. 

Nor can a new heart mean any new natural appe- 
tite, instinct, or passion. Whatever belongs to our 
mere animal nature, belongs to sinners as well as to 
saints. And when sinners become saints, they expe- 
rience no change in their natural appetites, or animal 
propensities; but a new heart commonly serves to 
weaken and restrain, instead of increasing or strength- 
ening such sensibilities as are destitute of every moral 

Nor can a new heart mean any dormant, inactive 
principle in the mind, which is often supposed to be 
the foundation of all virtuous or holy exercises. Such 
a principle appears to be a mere creature*of the imagin- 
ation; but supposing it really exists, what valuable 
purpose can it serve? Can a dormant principle, which 
is destitute of all perception and sensibility, produce 
love, penitence, faith, hope, jo}^ and the whole train of 
christian graces? We may as easily conceive, that all 
holy affections should spring from that piece of flesh, 
which is literally called the heart; as to conceive, that 
they should spring from any principle devoid of activi- 
ty. A new heart, therefore, cannot mean a new prin- 
ciple, taste, relish, or disposition, which is prior to, or 
the foundation of, all holy affections or gracious exer- 

This leads me to say positively, that a new heart 
consists in gracious exercises themselves; which are 
called new, because they never existed in the sinner, 
before he became a new creature, or turned from sin 
to holiness. I'his will appear to be a just and scriptural 

SERMON X. EzEKiEL xviii, 31. 173 

explanation of a new heart, from various considera- 

In the first place, the new heart must be something 
which is morally good, and directly opposite to the old 
heart, which is morally evil. But there is nothing be- 
longing to the mind, which is either morally good, or 
morally evil, which does not consist in free, voluntary 
exercises. Supposing there is a dormant principle in 
the soul, which lies at the bottom of all voluntary ex- 
ercises, yet so long as it lies dormant and inactive, there 
can be no moral quality belonging to it. And, indeed, 
if it should really produce moral exercises, still all moral 
good or evil would lie in the exercises themselves, and 
not in the principle. There can be no moral good or 
moral evil in any thing belonging to the mind, which 
has no perception and activity. Accordingly, we never 
praise or blame any person for any property he posses- 
ses, or any motive he puts forth, or any thing in him 
or about him, in which he is totally inactive and invol- 
untary. The new heart, therefore, which must be al- 
lowed to be morally good, must consist in free, holy, 
voluntary exercises, and not in any thing whatever, 
which is supposed to be prior to them, or the founda- 
tion of them. 

This will further appear, if we consider, in the next 
place, that the divine law requires nothing but love, 
which is a free, voluntary exercise. The first and 
great com mandment requires us to love God with all 
our heart; and the second commandment requires us 
to love our neighbour as ourselves. On these two com- 
mandments hang all the law and the prophets. God 
requires love, and nothing but love, in eveiy precept 
or prohibition he has given us in his word. But we 
know, that love is a free, voluntai-y exercise, and not 
any taste, habit, or principle, which is totally inactive 

174 SERMON X. Ezekiel xviii, 31. 

and involuntary. It is absurd to suppose, that God 
should require any thing of us, in which we are alto- 
gether passive, because this would be to require us to 
do nothing. Hence the new heart required in the 
text, must consist in activity, or the free, voluntary ex- 
ercise of true benevolence, which comprises every holy 
and virtuous affection. 

And this, I would further observe, is agreeable to 
the experience of all who repent, and turn from their 
transgressions, and make them a new heart and a new 
spirit. The change which they experience is merely a 
moral change. They find no alteration in their intel- 
lectual powers or speculative knowledge, but only in 
their moral exercises. They are sensible, that old things 
are passed away, and all things become new in their 
affections. They exercise such love to God, such 
hatred of sin, such faith in Christ, and such delight in 
the duties of devotion, as they never exercised before. 
Thus it appears from the united evidence of reason, 
scripture, and experience, that a new heart consists in 
nothing but new, holy, voluntary exercises of the mind. 
Jf this be a just explanation of a new heart, it will be 
easy to see, 

II. What" it is to make a new heart. 

If a new heart consisted in a new principle or natural 
faculty, it would be difficult to see how a sinner could 
make him a new heart, without exerting almighty 
power, or performing an act of creation, which is ab- 
solutely impossible. But if, as we have seen, a new 
heart wholly consists in new holy affections, then all 
the sinner has to do to make him a new heart, is to 
exercise benevolence instead of selfishness, or to put 
forth holy instead of unholy exercises. The precept 
in the text which requires sinners to make them a new 
heart, means no more nor less, than their turning from 

SERMON X. EzEKfEL xviii, 31. 175 

sin to holiness, or exercising that pure and holy love 
which the divine law requires. To make a new heart 
in this sense, is agreeable to the common apprehension 
and the common language of mankind. It is very 
common for one person to say to another, make your- 
self easy, or make yourself contented; that is, alter 
your mind, change your heart, exercise totally differ- 
ent affections from what you have at present. And 
there are many other familiar expressions, which con- 
vey the same idea; such as these in particular, Be 
kind— Be careful — Be sober — Be honest — Be gener- 
ous — Be friendly. Every person knows when he is 
addressed in this form, that he is required to exercise 
proper, instead of improper affections, or to exercise 
benevolence instead of selfishness. And since the divine 
commands run in the same form, they are to be under- 
stood in the same sense. When God says. Be sober — 
Be vigilant — Be humble — Be obedient — Be holy — Be 
perfect — he means that men should put forth truly 
pious and holy affections. And so far as these and 
other divine precepts respect sinners, they require«the 
exercise of the same affections, only with this peculiar 
circumstance, that they are new, or such as they never 
exercised before. There is no command given to sin- 
ners more plain and intelligible, than the command to 
make them a new heart. It does not mean, that they 
should create any new powers or faculties, or lay any 
new foundation for holy exercises; but only that they 
should exercise love, faith, repentance, and all the gra- 
cious affections, to which the promise of pardon and 
salvation are made. As the new heart consists in 
nothing but new holy affections, so the making of a 
new heart consists in nothing but exercising such new 
holy affections. T]ie way is now sufficiently prepar- 
ed to show, 

176 SERMON X. Ezekiel xViii, 31. 

III. That it is the duty of sinners to make them ^ 
new heart. 

1. The bare light of nature teaches that every per- 
son ought to exercise universal benevolence. This du- 
ty results from the nature of things. Every intelligent 
creature is capable of knowing the difference be- 
tween moral good, and moral evil, and this knowl- 
edge lays him under moral obligation to exercise true 
benevolence towards all proper objects of it. God is 
supremely excellent, and sinners are capable of seeing 
his great and amiable character which they are bound 
to love supremely. All who know God are under 
indispensable obligations to glorify him as God. Sin- 
ners are as capable of knowing God as saints, and are 
under the same obligations to love him, notwithstand- 
ing the native depravity of their hearts. Their depravity 
wholly consists in selfish affections, which do not de- 
stroy either their capacity, or obligation to exercise 
holy and benevolent affections. Though sinners have 
hated God, rejected the gospel, and lived in the exer- 
cise of perfect selfishness, in time past; yet this is no rea- 
son why they should not immediately love God, em- 
brace the gospel, and live in the exercise of true benev- 
olence, in time to come. It is just as easy for them 
to put forth benevolent exercises, as if they never had 
a selfish one before; and their obligation to exercise 
benevolent affections is as great as if they never had 
been in the least degree selfish. The reason is, their 
obligation to exercise benevolence, arises from the na- 
ture of things, or their being free, moral agents. 
Though the Algerines are mere Pagans and destitute 
of the light of divine Revelation, yet they have no 
right to treat their prisoners of war with malevolence 
and cruelty. Neither their native depravity, nor their 
ijrnorance of the Bible, excuses them for their malevo- 

SERMON X. EzEKiEL xviii, 31. ITT 

lent and inhuman conduct towards those who fall into 
their hands. They ought to exercise benevolence in- 
stead of malevolence, or make them new hearts. 
The mere light of nature lays them under moral obli- 
gation, to put away their hard, cruel, malignant hearts, 
and become kind, tender, and benevolent towards all 
nations. And surely sinners under the gospel are no 
less obliged, by the nature of things, to put away all 
their selfish affections, and exercise universal benevo- 
lence, or HTimediately turn from sin to holiness. It is 
just as easy for a sinner to begin to love God, as to 
continue to love him after he has loved him once^ and 
it is just as easy both to begin and to continue to love 
God, as to continue to hate him. And for the same 
reason that he ought not to continue to hate God, he 
ought immediately to love him; or to put away his o/ci 
heart oi hatred, and make him ixnew heart of love. 

2. God, who perfectly knows the state and charac- 
ters of sinners, repeatedly commands them to make 
them a new heart. He commands them to change their 
hearts both explicitly and implicitly, in various forms, 
and in a multitude of places. In the verse which con- 
tains our text, he says in plain terms, "Cast away from 
you all your transgressions whereby ye have trans- 
gressed, and make you a new heart and a new spirit. ^^ 
We find a similar command in the tenth of Deuteron- 
omy. "Circumsise therefore the foreskin of your 
heart, and be no more stiff-necked." This same com- 
mand is repeated in nearly the same expressions in the 
fourth of Jeremiah. "Circumcise yourselves to the 
Lord, and take away the foreskin of your hearts. O 
Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou 
mayest be saved; how long shall thy vain thoughts 
lodge within thee?" Nothing less than the makino" * 
of a new heart is required in the fourth chapter of 

178 SERMON X. EzEKiELXviii, 31. 

James. "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify 
your hearts, ye double minded." In these passages, 
God explicitly commands sinners to make them a new 
heart; and he implicitly requires the same thing, in 
every other command he has given them in his word. 
When he commands them to love himself with all 
their hearts, and their neighbours as themselves; or when 
he commands them to repent, to believe, to submit, to 
pray, to rejoice, or to do any thing else, he implicitly 
commands them to make them a new heart, or to ex- 
ercise holy, instead of unholy affections. And for sin- 
ners to exercise holy affections, is to exercise the new 
affections, in which a new heart consists. Thus it ap- 
pears, that sinners, notwithstanding their total depravity, 
are capable of making a new heart, and are command- 
ed to make a new heart, and of consequence, that it is 
their first and indispensable duty, to make them a new 
heart. Every argument that can be adduced to 
prove, that they ought to do any duty, will equally 
prove that they ought to do this first duty of all. 


1. If the making of a new heart consists in the ex- 
ercising of holy, instead of unholy affections, then sin- 
ners are not passive, but active, in regeneration. It 
has been the common opinion of Calvimsts, thata new 
heart consists in a new taste, disposition, or principJe^ 
which is prior to and the foundation of all holy exer- 
cises. And this idea of a new heart has led them to 
suppose, that sinners are entirely passive in regenera- 
tion. But if a new heart consists in new holy exer- 
cises, then sinners may be as active in regeneration as 
conversion. Though it be true, that the divine agency 
is concerned in the renovation of the heart, yet this 
does by no means aestroy the activity of sinners. 

SERMON X. EzEKiEL xviii, 31. 179 

Their activity in all cases is owing to a divine operas 
tion upon their minds. In God they live, and move, 
and have their being. They are not sufficient of them- 
selves, to think any thing as of themselves, but their 
sufficiency is of God. He always works in them both 
to will and to do, in all their free and voluntary exer- 
cises. When the inspired writers mention only the 
divine agency in regeneration, and represent men as 
*born of the Spirit, created anew in Christ Jesus, and 
raised from the dead by the mighty power of God," 
they do not mean to exclude the activity of the sub- 
jects of this saving change. They may act, while 
they are acted upon, in regeneration, as well as in 
sanctification. It is generally allowed, that sanctifica- 
V. tion is the work of God's Spirit, and at the same time 
supposed, that saints are active in the growth of grace, 
or perseverance in holiness. Indeed, it is expressly 
said, that God, who begins, carries on the good work 
in the hearts of believers. But if saints can act freely 
under a divine influence in sanctification, why cannot 
sinners act freely under a divine influence in regenera- 
tion? The cases are perfectly similar, and so represent- 
ed in the word of truth. Sinners are required to make 
them a new heart, and saints are required to keep 
themselves in the love of God. But there could be 
no propriety in these commands to saints, nor to sin- 
ners, if they must be passive^ in becoming and con- 
tinuing holy. Every command given to either saints 
or sinners, requires them to be active, not passive, in 
obeying the command. And since God requires sin- 
ners to make them a new heart, as well as saints to 
grow in grace; it is just as certain, that sinners are 
active in regeneration, as that saints are active'in sanc- 
tification; and it is just as certain, that both saints and 
sinners are active under the sanctifying and renewing 

180 SERMON X. Ezekiel xviii, 31. 

influence of the divine Spirit, as that the divine com - 
niands are holy, just, and good. 

2. If sinners are free and voluntary in making 
them a new heart; then regeneration is not a miracu- 
lous or supernatural work. Were it even true, that 
on God's part, regeneration is the production of a new 
nature, disposition, or principle in the human mind; 
still it would not be a miraculous or supernatural oper- 
ation, according to the common acceptation of the 
phrase. But since in regeneration God does not create 
any new nature, disposition, or principle of action, but 
only works in men holy and benevolent exercises, in 
which they are completely free and active, there is a 
plain absurdity in calling the renovation of the heart a 
miraculous or supernatural change. This is carrying 
the passivifi/ of the creatiire in regeneration to an ex- 
travagant lieight, and so as to destroy all obligation of 
sinners to do the least duty, until a miracle has been 
wrought upon them. How this is consistent with that 
distinction between natural and moral inability, which 
has been so clearly stated and strongly supported, by 
a very acute and eminent Divine, I can by no means 
conceive. 1 believe, it was never said by them of old 
time, that regeneration is a miracle, though they did 
say it is the production of a new nature, disposition, or 
principle of action. And in saying this, they set the 
doctrine of regeneration in direct opposition to all the 
divine commands, invitations, and threatenings to sin- 
ners. It is certain, however, that sinners understand 
them in this light, and charge them with a palpable 
contradiction in their discourses upon passive regener- 
ation, in vvhichtliey exhort them to immediate repen- 
tance, faith, and new obedience. And. perhaps, it is 
beyond the power of man, to reconcile the passivity 
of sinners in regeneration with their immediate duty to 
repent, to believe, or to do any thing else, in a holy and 

SERMON X. EzEKiEL xviii,31. 181 

acceptable manner. But the doctrine of active regenera- 
tion is perfectly consistent with all the gospel requires, 
or promises, or threatens in respect to sinners, and ap- 
proves itself to their reason and conscience in the sight 
of God. It is, therefore, a matter of serious import- 
ance, that the true doctrine respecting the new heart 
should b3 exhibited in a plain scriptural light, and so 
as to convince sinners, that there is nothing but their 
free, voluntary, selfish affections, which prevents their 
immediately embracing the gospel and securing the 
salvation of their souls. 

3. If it be a duty, which God enjoins upon sinners, 
and which they are able to perform, to make them a 
new heart; then there is no more difliculty in preach- 
ing the gospel to sinners, than to saints. Those minis- 
ters, who hold to passive regeneration, and maintain 
that sinners neither can, nor ought to make them a 
new heart, always find great difficulties in appl^'ing 
their discourses to the unregenerate. They feel con- 
strained, either to omit exhorting sinners to any duty^ 
or to exhort them to wait for a new heart, or to ex- 
hort t'lem to seek for a new heart, or to exhort them 
to make them a neu' heart. They feel a difliculty in 
exhorting them to make them a new heart, because 
they expressly tell them, that they cannot do it. 
They find a diliiculty in exhorting them to seek for a 
new heart with their old heart of enmity and unbe- 
lief, because this is exhorting them to continue in sin, 
and actually joining with them in their rebellion against 
God. And they find a difficuUy in exhorting them to 
stand still and do nothing, because this is contrary to 
every dictate of reason and scripture. What then to 
say to sinners coiisistently with truth, and consistently 
with their own opinion, that they cannot and ought 
not to make them a new heart, they are totally at a, 

182 SERMON X. Ezekiel xviii/31. 

loss. Pressed with these evils on every side, they 
commonly of late, choose what they esteem the least; 
that is, to neglect preaching the gospel to sinners. 
The essence of preaching the gospel to sinners consists 
in urging and exhorting them to the duty of immedi- 
ate repentance and faith. So John the Baptist preach- 
ed. "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching 
in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for 
the kingdom of heaven is at hand." So Christ preached 
after his forerunner. "Now after John was put in 
prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel 
of the kingdom of God, and saying. The time is fulfil- 
led, and the kingdom of God is at hand; Repent ye, 
and believe the gospel." After Christ had finished his 
ministry, he commanded his Apostles and their suc- 
cessors to preach the gospel in the same manner as he 
did. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, 
and preach the gospel to every creature. He that be- 
lieveth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that be- 
lieveth not shall be damned." Paul and the other 
apostles obeyed his command, and said plainly to sin- 
ners, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as 
though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in 
Christ's stead. Be ye reconciled to God." Do not 
many ministers, at the present day neglect to follow 
the example of Chiist and the Apostles, and totally 
omit exhorting sinners to repent and believe the gos- 
pel? If we look into the late publications of some 
very eminent Divines,* shall we find a single exhorta- 
tion to sinners, <o becom.e reconciled to God, to give 
God their hearts, to repent, to submit, or to do any 
thing whatever in a holy and benevolent manner? 
Such a want of conformity to the divine standard of 
preaching, is undoubtedly owing, in all cases^ to a be-. 

• Pr Smalley and Dr. Strong. 

SERMON X. EzEKiEL xviii, 31. 183 

iief that sinners are passive in regeneration, and can- 
not make them a new heart. Let ministers, therefore, 
only renounce the false notion of passivity in regener- ,- 
ation, and they will find no more difficulty in exhort- 
ing sinners, than in exhorting saints, to do their duty. 
They will see the same propriety in exhorting sinners 
to make them a new heart, or to repent and believe 
immediately, as in exhorting saints to grow in grace, 
and perfect holiness in the fear of God. And such 
preaching will approve itself to the consciences of both 
saints and sinners. 

4. Since it is the duty of sinners to make them a 
new heart, they have no excuse for. the neglect of any 
other duty. When they are urged to love God, re- 
pent of sin, believe the gospel, make a publick profes- 
sion of religion, or to do any thing in a holy and ac- 
ceptable minner, they are always ready to excuse 
themselves for their negligence, by pleading their ina- 
bility to change their hearts. This they say is the 
work of God; and until he pleases to appear for them, 
and takes away their stony hearts and gives them 
hearts of flesh, they cannot internally obey any of his 
commands, and therefore must be excused for all their 
delays, neglects, and deficiences in duty. But if it be 
their duty, in the first instance, to make them a new 
heart, then, according to their own pica, they have no 
excuse for neglecting any other act of obedience to the 
divine commands. If it weie their duty to begin, they 
acknowledge, it would be their duty to 'persevere in 
obedience; and by acknowledging this, they virtually 
give up every excuse, and become self-condemned for 
all their internal as well as external transgressions of" 
the divine law. The moment, they feel the propriety 
and force of the precept in the text, '-to make them 
a new heait and a new spirit/' their mouths are stop- 



184 SERMON X. Ezekiel xviii, 31. 

ped, and they stand guilty and inexcusable before 
God. As soon as this commandment comes, sin re- 
vives, and they die. They find, that they cannot love 
God, merely because they hate him, and that they 
hate him without a cause, which is their criminality, 
not excuse. 

5. If sinners ought to make them a new heart, then 
it must be their own fault, if they finally perish. They 
will have no right to plead, that God did not do 
enough for them; but must forever own and feel, that 
they did not do enough for themselves. They can- 
not be lost, if they only do their duty, and make them 
a new heart. But if they finally neglect this duty, 
they will justly expose themselves to eternal death. 
Hence God solemnly reminds them, that their future 
happiness or misery depends upon their choice; and if 
they perish, it must be wholly owing to their own folly 
and guilt. "Cast away from you all your transgres- 
sions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a 
new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O 
house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death 
of him that dieth, saith the Lord God. Wherefore 
fcurn yourselves, and live ye." 



Matthew xii, 35. 
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart 
bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out 
of the evil treasure hringeth forth evil things. 

IT was never our Saviour's intention to preach against 
Moses and the prophets, but only to explain their 
writings, and take off the false glosses, which were put 
upon them by false teachers. Though these men 
adopted the language of the inspired writers, and ac- 
knowledged the distinction between saints and sinners; 
yet they had no idea of what constituted this distinc- 
tion. They ignorantly supposed, that the precepts and 
prohibitions of the divine law had no respect to the 
heart, but only to external actions. And hence they 
denominated men either good or bad, saints or sinners, 
according to their outward appearance, rather than 
according to their internal views and feelings. But 
our Saviour represented this notion as a great and es- 
sential error. He said to his hearers; "Except your 
righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the 
Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into 
the kingdom of God." And after this, he told the 
Scribes and Pharisees themselves, that their righteous- 
ness was no better than hypocrisy, because it wholly 
consisted in mere exteinal obedience. 'Wo unto you, 
Set ibes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of 
mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the 
weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and 
faith: these ought ye to have dot:ie, and not to leave 
the other undone." But as Christ meant to instruct 

186 SERMON XI. Matt, xii, 35. 

the ignorant, as well as refute the erroneous, he clearly 
described the essential distinction between a good man 
and a bad man, and expressly asserted, that this dis- 
tinction lies in the heart, which stamps the moral 
quality of all the actions that proceed from it. "A good 
man out of tiie good treasure of the heart bringeth 
forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil 
treasure bringeth forth evil things." This, like many 
other figurative expressions of Christ, has often been 
misunderstood and misapplied. It has frequently been 
employed in favour of a sentiment, which appears to- 
tally inconsistent with that very distinction between 
saints and sinners, which Christ plainly intended to 
assert. In order, therefore, to investigate and estab- 
lish the important truths, which our Lord meant tey 
convey in this passage, I shall endeavour, 

I. To describe the good treasure of the heart. 

II . To describe the evil treasure of the heart. 

III. To make it appear, that it is the treasure of the 
heart, which justly denominates men either good or 
or evil. 

I. I am to describe the good treasure of the heart. 

The whole of this good treasure summarily consists 
in general benevolence. Our Saviour comprises all 
true virtue, holiness, or moral goodness in love to God 
and man. When he was asked, which is the great 
commandment in the law? he said, "Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy 
soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and 
great commandment. And the second is like unto it, 
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these 
two commandments hang all the law and the proph- 
ets." According to this infallible exposition of the 
law, it requires nothing morally good but what par- 
takes of the nature of pure, disinterested benevolence. 

SERMON XT. Matt, xii, 35. 181? 

The question now is, Why does Christ call this be- 
nevolence, which comprises all moral goodness, a good 
treasure? Treasure is a general name for abundance; 
and Christ uses the term in this sense, in the verse im- 
mediately preceding the text, whefe he says, "Out of 
the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." But 
what abundance, or what treasure can there be in a 
good heart, which consists in love? Is not love per- 
fectly pure, simple, and uncompounded? How then 
can there be any propriety in calling it a treasurcj 
which generally comprises both a variety and a mul- 
tiplicity of things? It is easy, however, to discover the 
propriety of this expression. Though true love be of 
a simple, uncompounded nature; yet it is capable of 
spreading into a variety of branches, which taken all 
together, form a rich treasure of moral goodness. I 
will now lay open, as clearly and distinctly as I can, 
all the parts or parcels of the good treasure of the good 

1. A good heart contains good affections. 

It always is more or less affected, by every objecc 
presented to it. If a proper object of benevolence be pre- 
sentedjit feels benevolence. If a proper of object compla- 
cence be presented it feels complacence. Ifa proper object 
of gratitude be presented, it feels gratitude. If a vile 
and odious object be presented, it feels a proper dis- 
pleasure, hatred, or aversion. These inward motions 
or exercises of the good heart, which are excited by 
the bare perception of objects, and which do not pro- 
duce any external actions, are properly called affec- 
tions, in distinction from all other emotions and exer- 
cises, of the heartjwhich influence to action. And these 
immanent affections of the good heart are extremely 
numerous, because they are perpetually arising in the 
mind, whether the person be sitting, or walking, or 
speaking, or reading, or barely thinking. The good 

188 SERMON XI. Matt, xii, 35. 

heart is often as deeply and sensibly affected by invis- 
ible, as by visible objects. Some of the purest and 
best affections of the good heart are put forth in the 
view of the character, perfections, and designs of the 
Deity, and vvhiie the mind is intensely employed in 
contemplating things past, present, and to come. Such 
holy and virtuous affections compose the largest por- 
tion of the good treasure of the good heart. 

2. The good heart contains good desires. These 
natural iy flow from true benevolence, in the view of 
any absent and distant good. The man of a good 
heart extends his good desires as far as his knowledge 
extends. He desires that God may be glorified, and 
tluvt i-is creatures may be happy. He desires to do good 
to himself, and where his ability or opportunity of do- 
ing good fails, he desires that God would enable and 
dispone others to do good. Whenever he sees any 
attai liable good, he sincerely desires that it may be 
attained Were his views as extensive as the views 
of the Deity, his benevolent desires would be equally 
exter>s:ve. But though his desires are bounded by the 
scantiness of his knowledge; yet they are very numer- 
ous and perfectly virtuous, and comprise a good share 
of the good treasure of his heart, 

3. The good heart contains good intentions. It 
not only desires good to be done, but actually intends 
to do good. David had a good intention, when it was 
in his heart to build a house for the honour and wor- 
ship of God. The desires of doing good, are different 
from the intentions of doing good. Good men may 
desire to do many things, which they do not intend 
to do; and they may intend to do many things, which 
they never do. Some carry their intentions of doing 
good much further forward than others. They intend 
to do many things for the benefit of individuals and 

SERMON XI. Matt.xu, 35. 189 

the public, in days, and months, and years to come. 
But very often they never find an opportunity, or a 
disposition, to carry all their good intentions into exe- 
cution. Paul tells us, that he failed of fulfilling his 
good intentions. "To will is present with me; but how 
to perform that which is good, I find not." It is true, 
however, that the failure of good men in fulfilling their 
good intentions, only proves their great imperfection 
or inconstancy in goodness. For, their good inten- 
tions, whether they act agreeably to them or not, are 
good in their own nature, and belong to the good 
treasure of their hearts, 

4. The good heart contains good volitions. These 
are imperative acts of the will, and have immediate 
influence upon external conduct. Neither good affec- 
tions, nor good desires, nor good intentions, are in- 
separably connected with bodily exertions. But voli- 
tions are the next, immediate, and efficient cause of 
external action. When we put forth any bodily effort, 
we are conscious of a will or volition to move or 
speak. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth 
speaketh." A good heart will naturally produce good 
volitions, which are the immediate natural cause of 
good actions. It is in this sense, that "a good man 
out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth 
good things." Good volitions must ahvays go before 
good actions, because these derive all their moral 
quality from the volitions, from which they originate. 
If a man's hand or body moves without his own voli- 
tion, that motion is not his action, and has no moral 
quality attached to it. All actions are voluntary mo- 
tions, and take their moral quality from the nature of 
the volitions, which give' them existence. Holy and 
virtuous volitions render all the actions proceeding 
from them truly holy and virtuous. Such volitions;, 

190 SERMON XI. Matt.xH, 35. 

therefore, are to be numbered among the other good 
treasures of the heart. And lest it should be deemed 
an omission, I will add, 

5. That the good heart contains good passions. 
These are, however precisely the same as good affec- 
tions, only raised to a higher degree. When any good 
affections rise to such a pitch as to excite great sensi- 
bility of body or mind, they are then commonly de- 
nominated passions. Holy love may rise to admira- 
tion, hope, fear, joy, sorrow, grief, pity, compassion, 
indignation, anger, wrath, and even vengeance, 
Though God never admires, nor hopes, nor fears, yet 
he exercises joy, sorrow, grief, pity, compassion, indigo 
nation, wrath, anger, and holy vengeance. And all, 
or nearly all these holy passions Christ felt and ex- 
pressed while he tabernacled in flesh. He rejoiced, he 
grieved, he wept, and from time to time manifested 
pity, compassion, indignation, wrath, and anger. Holy 
passions flow from holy affections; or in other words, 
holy affections, under certain circumstances, will natu- 
rally rise to holy passions. 

I have now enumerated all the parts or parcels of 
the good heart. But you will observe, that I have 
not mentioned appetites as belonging to the good 
treasure. The reason is, they do not flow from the 
heart, nor stand connected with any class of moral 
exercises. There is nothing morally good or evil in 
hunger, thirst, or any natural taste. This does not 
depend upon a good or bad heart, but upon the con- 
stitution and state of the body. But good affections, 
good desires, good intentions, good volitions, and good 
passions, are all of a moral and virtuous nature, and 
belong to the good treasure 6f the heart. 

II. Let us inquire what is to be understood by the 
evil treasure of the evil heart. If the good treasure of 

SERMON XI. Matt, xii, 35. 191 

the good heart has been properly described, it will be 
easy to discover what is the evil treasure of the evil 
heart. It must be something directly opposite to the 
good treasure. As the good treasure consists in be- 
nevolence, 60 the evil treasure must consist in selfish- 
ness. And this selfishness naturally branches out into 
evil affections, evil desires, evil intentions, evil volitions, 
and evil passions. There is no moral evil but what 
may be found in one or other of these moral exercises, 
which contain all the treasures of wickedness in any 
wicked heart. The good heart and evil heart are both 
made up of exercises; but their exercises, whether af- 
fections, desires, intentions, volitions, or passions, are 
diametrically opposite in their moral quality. The 
good treasure of the good heart consists in the various 
modifications of benevolence, but the evil treasure of 
the evil heart consists in the various modifications of 

It only remains to show, 

III. That men are either good or evil, according to 
the good or evil treasure of the heart. This truth lies 
upon the very face of the text. "A good man out of 
the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good 
things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bring- 
eth forth evil things." The good treasure of the heart, 
which consists in good exercises, constitutes a good 
man; and tlie evil treasure of the heart, which consists 
in evil exercises, constitutes an evil man. The truth 
of this important point will clearly appear from vari- 
ous considerations. 

1. That every man forms his opinion of himself, by 
the exercises of his heart. If a man be conscious of 
having good affections, good desires, good intentions, 
and good vofitions and passions, he naturally forms a 
good opinion of himself, and believes, that all the 
world would form the same opinion of him, if they 

19% SERMON XI. Matt, xii, 35. 

could look into his heart, and see what passes ther^. 
But if, on the other hand, a man be conscious of hav- 
ing evil affections, desires, designs, and passions, he is 
constrained to condemn himself, and to believe, that- 
every body would condemn him, if they could only 
discover the real exercises of his heart. Men may, in- 
deed, judge amiss respecting the good or bad treasure 
of their hearts, but still they are constrained to form 
their opinion of themselves, by this, and no other cri- 
terion. They cannot believe themselves to be good, 
while they are conscious, that their hearts are bad; nor 
can they believe themselves to be bad, while they are 
conscious, that their hearts are good. No person pre- 
sumes to judge of his own moral character, by his abili- 
ties, or by his professions, or by his external conduct; 
but by the exercises of his heart. This must be a con- 
vincing evidence to every individual, that it is the heart 
alone, which forms and stamps every moral character'. 
2. It is the dictate of common sense, that nothing can 
properly denominate men either morally good or mor- 
ally evil, but that in which they are really active. 
They may be constrained to see, and hear, and feel, 
and taste, and even to remember and judge; and, in 
all such cases, they are neither active, nor accountable. 
But they are never compelled to love or hate, to 
choose or refuse, to rejoice or mourn, to hope or fear, 
to forgive or revenge. In all their affections, desires, 
intentions, volitions, and passions, they are altogether 
active, and justly deserve either praise or blanie. As 
all their agency lies in their hearts, so their hearts 
alone render them morally good or morally evil. This 
is agreeable to the common sense of mankind in all 
cases, in which they have an opportunity to judge. 
Let a man be accused for any of his conduct, if he 
can only make it appear, that he acted from a good 
intention, he will be justified and approved. Or let a 

SERMON XI. Matt, xii, 35. 103 

man be commended for any of his conduct, if after- 
wards it appears, that he acted from a bad intention 
or design, he will be universally condemned, rather 
than applauded. All mankind judge alike upon this 
subject, and either praise or blame each other for the 
goodness, or badness of their hearts, in which their 
moral agency entirely consists. 

3. The whole current of Scripture confirms tht 
point under consideration. Solomon says, "As a man 
thinketh in his heart, so is he." That is, his heart 
forms his moral charactier, and constitutes him a good 
or bad man. And our Saviour himself says, "the 
light of the body is the eye: if thine eye be single, thy 
whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be 
evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness." By 
a single eye he means a good heart, and by an evil 
eye an evil heart. In a word, he means to assert, in 
the most strong and striking language, that a good 
heart makes a good man, and a bad heart makes a 
bad man. This truth is too plain to need any further 
illustration or proof. It is not only agreeable to scrip- 
ture and common sense, but it is founded in the very 
nature of things. Even the Deity cannot constitute 
any other standard of moral character, than this of 
the good and bad treasure of the heart. The man of 
a holy heart must necessarily be a holy man, and the 
man of an unholy heart must necessarily be an unholy 
man. This is the only essential distinction, that can 
exist between a saint and a sinner. 

Now, the subject which we have been Considering, 
may serve to throw light upon some points of import- 
ance, which need to be better understood, than they 
commonly are. 

1 . What has been said may serve to give us a clear 
and just idea of the heart. Some suppose the heart i!? 

194 SERMON XI. Matt, xii, 35. 

sometliing distinct, not only from perception, reasoiJ_, 
and conscience, but also from all moral exercises. 
When they undertake to define the heart, which is 
very seldom, they sometimes call it a faculty, some- 
times a principle, and more frequently a taste; but 
whether they call it by one or other of these names, 
they agree in maintaining, that it is something wholly 
distinct from all moral exercises, and the source from 
which they all proceed. But it appears from what has 
been said in this discourse, that the heart is so far 
from being a moral faculty, principle, or taste, and the 
foundation of moral exercises, that it wholly consists 
of moral affections, desires, intentions, volitions, and 
passions. These are the good and evil treasure, which 
compose ihe good and evil heart, and produce every 
good and evil action. This is representing the heart 
in the same light, in vi^hich our Saviour represents it 
in the text. He represents the heart as the immediate 
source of external actions. But if the heart be a fac- 
ulty, principle, or taste, prior to and distinct from all 
affections, desires, volitions, and passions, then it 
cannot be the next, immediate cause or source of ex- 
ternal actions. These immediately proceed from 
moral exercises, and not from a dormant, inactive prin- 
ciple, taste, or faculty. The Scripture gives us no ac- 
count of any heart but what consists in the various 
exercises or modifications of benevolence, or selfish- 
ness. Nor is any other heart either necessary, or even 
conceivable. No other heart is necessary in order to 
men's doing good or evil. Perception, reason, and 
conscience, are all the natural faculties necessary to 
constitute a moral agent. These form a capacity for 
loving and hating, choosing and refusing, acting and 
neglecting to act. There is no occasion for a distinct 
faculty of will, as has been generally supposed, in or- 

SERMON XL Matt, xii, 35. 195 

der to put forth external actions, or internal exercises. 
Though the natural faculties of perception, reason, 
and conscience are necessary to form a capacity, and 
to lay men under moral obligation, to exercise right 
affections, desires, intentions, volitions, and passions, 
yet these moral exercises do not spring from or grow 
out of any or all those natural faculties. It is God, 
who worketh in men both to will and to do. Moral 
exercises flow from adivine operation upon the mind of' 
a moral agent, and not from any natural faculty, prin- 
ciple, or taste, enabling him to originate his own inter- 
nal exercises, or external actions. And as no other 
heart, than that which consists in moral exercises, is 
necessary, in order to men's doing good or evil; so no 
other heart is conceivable. Take away all affections, 
desires, intentions, volitions, and passions from the 
mind, and there will be no heart left, nor any thing, 
which can deserve either praise or blame. What we 
call the heart, what the divine law requires or forbids, 
and what we approve or condemn in ourselves or 
others, wholly consists in benevolent or selfis hexercis- 
es. If we search every corner of the human mind, 
we can find no heart, worthy of praise or blame, but 
what is composed of good or evil aff3ltions, desires, 
intentions, and volitions. A good heart is a good 
treasure of good exercises; and an evil heart is an evil 
treasure of evil exercises. And every man in the world 
is conscious of having such a good, or such an evil 
heart; which creates self-approbation, or self-condem- 

2. This subject teaches us, that neither a good, nor 
evil heart can be transmitted, or derived from one 
person to another. Adam could no more convey his 
good or evil heart to his posterity, than he could con- 
vey his good or evil actions to them. Nothing can 

196 SERMON XI. Matt, xii, 35. 

be more repugnant to scripture, reason, and experience, 
than the notion of our deriving a corrupt heart from 
our first parents. If we have a corrupt heart, as un- 
doubtedly vvc have; it is altogether our own, and con- 
sists in evil affections and other evil exercises, and not 
in any moral stain, pollution, or depravity derived 
from Adam. This clearly appears from the very es- 
sence of an evil heart, which consists in evil exercises, 
and not in any thing prior to; distinct from, or produc- 
tive of, evil emotions or affections. The absurd idea 
of imputed and derived depravity originated from the 
absurd idea of the human heart, as being a principle, 
propensity, or taste, distinct from all moral exercises. 
But since every man's corrupt heart is his own, and 
consists in his own free and voluntary exercises, he 
aught to repent, and look to God for pardoning mercy. 
And unless he does this, he must perish; for God has 
said, the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father ^^ 
but the soul that sinneth, it siiall die. 

3. This subject teaches us, that religion wholly con- 
sists in good affections. It is generally supposed, that 
religion paitly consists in a good heart, and partly in 
the good affections, or holy exercises, which flow from 
the heart, lljlls seems to have been President Ed- 
wards's opinion; who, in his Treatise on the affections, 
expressly says, that religion chiefly consists in affec- 
tions. It appears, that he was led into this opinion, by 
supposing that a good heart is a good taste, or good 
principle, which lays a foundation for good affections 
or holy exercises. But if the leading sentiment in this 
discourse be true, there is no ground to suppose, that 
a. good heart consists in a good taste, or a good princi- 
ple, or in any thing besides good affections. It is un- 
doubtedly true, that all virtue, piety, and moral good- 
i;\ess consists in a holy or benevolent heart. But ac- 

SERMON XI. Matt, xii, 35. 197' 

cording to scripture and experience, a holy or benevo- 
lent heart altogether consists in holy or benevolent af- 
fections. These comprize all good exercises, desires^ 
intentions, volitions, and passions, whfich are the sum 
and comprehension of all true religion and vital piety. 
4. This subject teaches us, that the passions belong 
to the heart, and consequently are all either morally 
good, or morally evil. Since they are only the affec- 
tions carried to a high degree of sensibility, they must 
partake of the nature of the affections from which they 
arise. Those which arise from benevolent affections 
are all virtuous and benevolent; and those which arise 
from selfish affections are all selfish and sinful. The 
benevolent passions are to be freely and perfectly ex- 
ercised, but the selfish passions are to be entirely mor- 
tified, and not merely restrained. Those who have 
treated of the passions, have generally, if not univer- 
sally, considered them as neither good nor evil, only 
as they are directed and employed to a good or evil 
purpose. Hence they strongly urge the duty of prop- 
erly regulating and employing the passions. They 
represent them as wings or sails to the soul, which, 
by a proper regulation, may greatly assist us in the 
practice of virtue, and more especially in the duties of 
devotion. But this is a very erroneous representation 
of the passions, which are all either benevolent or self- 
ish, and in their lowest as well as in their highest de- 
gree, either virtuous or sinful. The benevolent pas- 
sions are, in every degree, virtuous, and need no fegu^ 
lation; but the selfish passions are, in every degree, 
sinful, and ought to be entirely extinguished. Many 
seem to imagine, they may innocently indulge any of 
their passions, if they only restrain them from break- 
ing out into any improper words or actions. But the 
truth is, every selfish passion, whether outwardly ex- 

108 SERMON XI. Matt, xii, 35. 

pressed, or inwardly smotiT^red in the breast, is alto- 
gether criminal, and ought to be not merely restrained, 
but instantly and utterly destroyed. 

5. It appears from the general tenor of this discourse, 
that men are active, and not passive, when they expe- 
rience a change of heart. Under the renewing influ- 
ence of the divine Spirit, they exercise benevolent, in- 
stead of selfish affections. Their new heart consists in 
new affections, desires, and passions^ and not in any 
new faculty, principle, or taste. They put off the 
old man, and put on the new man, which alter God is 
created in righteousness and true holiness. They ex- 
perience no alteration, or obstruction, or enlargement, 
in their natural powers, by the transforming influen- 
ces of the Spirit. Regeneration is altogether a moral, 
and not a physical change, and wholly consists in new 
and holy affections, according to the plain declara- 
tion of the Apostle, who expressly says, "The fruit 
of the Spirit is love, not the principle of .love; joy, not 
the principle of joy; peace, long-suffering, gentleness, 
goodness, faith, meekness," not the principle of these 
holy and gracious affections. There is no intimation 
in Scripture, that men are more passive in regeneration, 
than in sanctificfttion; or that they are ever passive, 
under the special influence of the Spirit of God. 

6. We may justly infer from what has been said, 
the propriety of God's requiring sinners to change 
their own hearts. This he certainly does require them 
to do, either directly or indirectly, in every command 
he has given them. When he requires them to make 
them new hearts, to rend their hearts, to purify their 
hearts, and to give him their* hearts, he directly requires 
them to change their hearts. And he indirectly requires 
them to do this, when he callsupon them to repent, to 
believe, to turn from their transgressions, and cease to 

SERMON XI. MATT.xii,55. 199 

do evil, and learn to do well. All these commands re- 
quire them to put toi th new aftcctions, desires, and vo- 
litions, which is precisely the same thing as changing 
their hearts. And this appears to be perfectly reason- 
able. But we could see no propriety in any of these 
divine precepts, if they required any thing prior to 
the free and voluntary exercise of holy affections. If 
a new heart consisted in a new facuUy, principle, or 
taste, there could be no more propriety in God's re- 
quiring sinners to change their heart, than in requir- 
ins: them to add another cubit to their stature. But 
if a new and holy heart consists in new and holy af- 
fections; then there is the same propriety in God's re- 
quiring sinners to change their hearts, as in requiring, 
them to do any duty whatever. Indeed, it is only in 
the view of the heart as consisting in free and voluntary 
exercises, that we can see the consistency of the divine 
commands to sinners with the doctrine of regeneration. 
Willie they view the new heart as distinct from new 
affections, and as the principle from which they pro- 
ceed, they will plead the want of a new heart as an in- 
surmountable obstacle, or natural inability, in the 
way of tlieir loving God, repenting of sin, or doing 
any thir-g in a holy manner. They ^will plead, that 
they cannot give themselves a new and holy printfiple, 
or change their own hearts. But as soon as they are 
convinced that a new heart consists entirely in new 
and holy affections; and that they need no new facuUy 
or principle, in order to exercise such ne^v and holy 
affections, they necessarily feel their obligation to make 
them a new heart and a new spirit, and to obey every 
divine command. They find they have no excuse for 
continuing any longer in impenitence or unbelief. 

Finally, it appears from the whole tenor of this dis^ 
cTOunse, that it is the immediate duty of both saints 

1^00 SERMON XI. MATT.xii,35. 

and sinners to put liway all the evil treasure of their* 
hearts. Saints have no right to live any longer in sin, 
or to have another evil affection, desire, or passion. 
They ought to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of 
the flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of 
God. There is but one law for the saint and the sin- 
ner; and that is the law of love, which requires perfect 
purity of heart. It is, therefore, the immediate and 
important duty of sinners, to change their hearts, to 
change their course, to return to God, and to devote 
themselves entirely and forever to his service. 



Prov. iv, 23. 

Keep thy heart "xith all diligence: for out of it are the 

issues of life. 

SINCE this divine precept Enjoins a duty, which ought 
to be universally understood and universally practised, 
I shall endeavour to set it in a clear and instructive 
light, by showing what it is to keep the heart, how it 
is to be kept, and why it is to be kept with all diligence. 

1. We are to consider what the duty is which is re- 
quired in the text: "Keep thy heart." This mode of 
expression plainly irti mates, that the heart needs to be 
kept; anfl the necessity of keeping it as plainly sup- 
poses, that it is prone to go astray. To prevent it^, 
therefore, from going wrong, is to keep it in the sense 
of the text. There is no possibility of restraining the 
heart from all exercises or emotions. As no man who 
opens his eyes in a clear day, can help perceiving the 
light; so no man who perceives any visible or invisible 
object can help being pleased or displeased, or having 
some exercises of heart about it. The injunction in 
the text, therefore, does not require men to lay a total 
restraint upon their hearts and reduce themselves to 
stoick insensibility; but only to restrain all their free, 
voluntary affections from every thing improper and 
sinful. This implies two things. 

1. To keep the heart from all improper objects. 
Amidst the innumerable objects, which surround man- 
kind, some ought to engage their affections at one 

202 SERMON Xll. Prov. iv, -23. 

time, and some at another. They always ought to 
keep their hearts from all those objects, which are not 
connected with their present duty. But they are ex- 
tremely apt to let their hearts wander from proper to 
improper objects. How often does it happen on the 
gabbath, that they alknv the world and the tilings of 
the world to engage their affections, instead of fixing 
their whole hearts upon those religious and divine ob- 
jects, which are inseparably connected with the duties 
of the day? And wlien they are engaged in any duty, 
whether secular or spiritual, how often do their hearts 
insensibly wander with the fool's eyes to the ends of 
the earth, and dwell upon "things, with v^hich their 
presei^ duty has no coniicxion nor concern? Men have 
always some duty to perform, and their hearts ought 
to be engaged in that duty and in nothing else. One 
thing, therefore, implied in keeping the heart, is to guard 
it against every object, which has no proper connexion 
with present duty. And another thing is, « 

2. To guard it against all improper affections. While 
the heart is placed upon proper objects, it may have 
very improper affections towards them; and this not 
only may be the case, but is extremely apt to be the 
case. Men are called to attend to worldly objects; 
but forbidden to exercise improper affections towards 
them. Men are called to attend to spiritual and divine 
objects; but forbidden to exercise improper affections 
towards them. But how often do they feel improperly 
towards the world and the things of the world, and to- 
wards God and the things of God? They should 
always keep their hearts from loving hateful objects, 
and from hating lovely objects. Though it be more 
difficult, yet it is more important, to keep the heart 
from improper affections, than from improper objects; 
but the precept in the text requires men to keep their 

SERMON XII. Prov. iv, 23. 203 

hearts from both these evils. And so long as they do 
keep their hearts from both improper objects and im- 
proper affections, they completely fulfil their duty. 

I proceed as proposed, 

II. To show how the heart is to be kept. 

Since God requires men to keep their hearts at all 
times and under all circumstances, there must be some 
way in which they can perform this constant, necessary, 
and arduous duty. And what has been said in ex- 
plaining the duty, naturally suggests the proper man- 
ner of performing it. The duty consists in restraining 
the heart fiom improper objects and improper affec- 
tions. And to do this it is necessary, 

1 . That men should always attend to those objects 
only, Wj|h which they are properly concerned. While 
they are pursuing their secular affairs, they are properly 
concerned with secular objects. They cannot perform 
any worldly business without attending to it. The far- 
mer must attend to his farm, the mechanick must attend 
to his trade, the attorney must attend to the law, the 
preacher must attend to divinity, the statesman must 
attend to the aftairs of state, and all men must attend 
to their religious and eternal concerns. While their 
attention is employed upon these and other proper ob- 
jects, their hearts will be effectually restrained from 
wandering. The minds of men must be in perpetual 
exercise in the view of right or wrong objects. But so 
long as they attend to proper objects, they cannot at- 
tend to those which are impertinent or improper. 
Every man's mind would be j)erpetually fixt on one 
single object, were no other object presented to divert 
his attention. Were one object constantly impressed 
upon the mind, and but one, it would be as impossible 
for the mind to think of any other object, as to create 
a world. And the only reason, why any one object 

204 SERMON XII. I^rov. iv, 2S. 

which ever possessed our mind does not still possess 
it, is because other objects have crowded it out and 
taken its place. We know, that an object of surprize 
will sometimes occupy the whole mind, by excluding 
all other objects, and throw it into a momentary dis- 
traction. The mind cannot be diverted from any ob- 
ject which seizes it, only by the intervention of some 
other object, equally great, novel, or interesting. This 
we see daily verified in children. Let them be ever so 
much affected, by any particular object, they may be 
easily composed by almost any thing new or strange. 
Hence the common use of those trifles, in turning the 
attention and the tide of affection in children. In this 
respect, men and children are exactly alike. Let any 
man only attend to proper objects, and his heart will 
be completely restained from wandering. The heart 
cannot move towards any object, without being led by 
the eye, or the ear, or the understanding, or the imagin- 
ation, or some other natural faculty of the mind. The 
natural faculties, in this case, absolutely govern the 
heart, and it is for this reason, that men are properly 
required to keep their hearts. They have natural 
power to keep their hearts from all improper objects, 
because they have natural pjvyer to fix them upon 
proper objects or those with which their duty is con- 
nected. Tiis is plainly intimated by Solomon in the 
words succe»>iing the'text. ''Let thine eyes look right 
on, and let thine eye lids look straight before thee. 
Pjnd'ir the path of thv feet; turn not to the right hand 
nor to the left; reinove thy foot from evil." Let men 
direct thwir attention to proper objects, and their affec- 
tions will infallibly fjlljw their attention. The truth 
of this every one knows by his own experience. He 
nevei; foaad his heart wandering, while his whole at- 
tention was engaged in some secular employment; or 

SERMON XIl. Prov. iv, 23. 205 

religious duty. There is no clanger of the heart's going 
astray, while the attention is entirely fixt upon those 
objects which ought to engage it. Men may always 
keep their hearts from all improper objects, by fixing 
their aitention steadily upon pro})er ones. Though it 
does not always depend upon their choice, what ob- 
jects shall be presented and what ideas shall be suggest- 
ed, by causes from wiihout; yet it does always depend 
upon their choice, what objects or ideas they shall make 
the subjects of particular attention. And if they only 
avoid seeing, hearing, and thinking such things as they 
have no occasion to see, hear, and think, by fixing 
their whole attention upon those things which lie in 
the path of duty, they will effectually keep their hearts 
from all improper objects. This leads me to observe, 
2. That men must pursue the same method to keep 
their hearts from improper afi^ctions, as from improper 
objects. To keep their hearts from improper objects, 
they must attend to good ones, and to keep their hearts 
from improper affections, they must exercise good 
ones. To keep the heart from every wrong feeling is 
more difficult, as well as more important, than to keep 
it from wrong objects. The heart of the sons of men 
is naturally full of evil, and fully set in them to do evil. 
They are naturally disposed to exercise sinful affections 
towards all objects, which strike their minds or engage 
their attention. Let them be where they will; let 
them be engaged in what business they will; let them 
attempt what duties they will; their hearts are prone 
to go astray, and spoil all their exertions and perform- 
ances. This evil propensity they ought to restrain, at 
all times and under all circumstances. But how can 
they perform this duty? The answer is easy. Let 
them exercise good affections. As proper objects will 
always exclude improper ones from the mind; so 

206 SERMON XII. Prov. iv, 23. 

proper affections will always exclude improper ones 
from the heart. While men exercise such affections as 
God requires, they will not be troubled with such as 
he forbids; and while they keep their hearts in a holy 
frame, unholy affections cannot intrude, or interrupt 
their virtuous and benevolent feelings. Love will ex- 
clude hatred, as well as hatred exclude love. Faith 
will exclude unbelief, as well as unbelief faith. Repent- 
ance will exclude impenitence, as well as imp«Miitence 
repentance. Submission will exclude opposition, as 
well as opposition submission. Humility will exclude 
pride, as well as pride humility. In a word, any gra- 
cious exercise will exclude any sinful one; and it is on- 
ly by the exercise of holiness, that the heart can be 
kept from sin. Hence the propriety and importance 
of that command given to christians: '-Keep your- 
selves IN THE LOVE OF GoD." By observing this di- 
vine precept, and living ni the continual exercise of 
grace, they may keep their liearts from every sinful 
affection, in whatever situation they are placed, or with 
whatever objects they are surrounded. There is one 
and the same way for all nien to keep their hearts 
from improper affections and improper objects. Let 
them cniy attend to proper objects, and exercise right 
affections, and they will never see, nor hear, nor think, 
nor speak, nor act \\'rong, while they are passing 
through the varying scenes of this present eK'il world. 
It is now necessary to show, as proposed, 

III. The importance of men's keeping their hearts 
with the greatest care and cor^stancy. This Solomon 
forcibly enjoins in the text. "Keep thy heart with all 
uilia:encc: for out of it are. the issues of life." The heart 
lies at the bottom of all human actions, and is the pri- 
mary soui'ce of every thing that is worthy of praise or 
blame in mankind. All their goodiicss and all their 

SERMON XII. Prov. iv, 23. 207 

badness proceeds from the heart, which entirely forms 
their moral character. And if they will only consider 
this inseparable connexion between their hearts and 
lives, they must feel the gieat importance of keeping 
their hearts with all diligence. For, 

1. While they neglect to keep their hearts, all their 
moral exercises will be sinful. There is no medium 
between their feeling right or wrong; and, of conse- 
quence, they must always exercise either holy or un- 
holy affections. The moment they neglect to keep 
their hearts in the love of Gorl, or in the exercise of 
grace, some sinful affection will succeed, and continue, 
until they renew their watch, and revive their holy ex- 
ercises. Those who totally neglect to keep their 
hearts, live in the continual exercise of selfish and sin- 
ful affections. Whether they love or hate, whether 
they hope or fear, whether they are vain or serious, the 
whole train of their affections is.evil and only evil con- 
tinually. The same is true of those who habitually 
keep their hearts, but occasionally neglect them. While 
they neglect to keep their hearts, whether the term be 
shorter or longer, all their moral exercises are selfish, 
and diametrically opposite to the law of love. Since 
God looketh on the heart, and not on the outward ap- 
pearance, and requires truth in the inward parts, it is 
of great importance, that men should keep their hearts 
with all diligence, and suppress all internal motions and 
affections, which are unholy and siniul. 

2. While men neglect to keep their hearts, all their 
thoughts will be sinfuL ' Out of the heart proceed evil 
thoughts. As a man t^iinUcUi in his heart, so is he. 
The thought of foolishness is sin." All thoughts be- 
eome sinful, v/hcn tl\ey are improperly approved or dis- 
approved by the heart. Tlie heart always docs have 
some fcf^ling towards all the thoughts, which pass 

20^ SERMON XII. Prov. iv, 23. 

through the mind, whether they are suggested by the 
visible world, or by Satan, or by the Spirit of God. 
Though bare thoughts have no moral good or evil in 
themselves considered, yet in connexion with the heart 
they all acquire a good or bad moral quality. If the 
heart approve bad thoughts, or disapprove good 
thoughts, it turns them all into sin. No thought is in- 
different after the heart has been exercised about it. 
This shows the necessity of keeping the heart with all 
diligence, lest it should pollute the v^^hole train of 
thoughts, which are rapidly passing through the mind, 
and render them all vile and odious in the sight of 

3. While men neglect to keep their hearts, all their 
words, as well as their thoughts and affections, will be 
sinful. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth 
speakcth." All words are the fruit of the heart. They 
are first conceived and approved there, before they are 
uttered. Every idle, impure, false, profane, blasphem- 
ous expression comes from within, out of the heart. 
Men never speak but of choice; so that their hearts are 
concerned in all their vain or serious conversation: 
and unless they keep them with all diligence, their 
whole discourse will be corrupt in the sight of God, 
however pure, or pleasing, or even edifying it may ap- 
pear in the view of their fellow creatures. The best 
as well as the worst language is sinful, when it tlows 
from a corrupt heart. The heart, therefore, must be 
always kept with the greatest care and attention, lest 
some sinful word, som;" injurious expression, some cor- 
rupt discourse proceed out of the mouth. 

4. While men neglect to keep their hearts, all their 
intentions, purposes, or designs will be evil. They can- 
not be said to form any design, until the heart has ap- 
proved and adopted it. E\'ery evil design is first form- 

SERMON XII. Prov. iv, 23. 209 

cd in the heart of the projector. The design of build- 
ing Babel was first formed in, the heart of some Baby- 
lonian. The design of destroying the male children 
of the Hebrews was first formed in the heart of some 
Egyptian. The design of cutting off the captive Jews 
was first formed in the heart of Ham an. All the 
wars and calamities which have been brought upon 
the world, by ambitious and cruel tyrants, were first 
conceived, formed, and adopted in their hearts, which 
were totally selfish And all designs, which proceed from 
this corrupt source, will be sinful, whether they prove in- 
jurious or beneficial to the world. While men neglect 
to keep their hearts from selfishness, every purpose or 
design they form will be selfish and sinful. This ren- 
ders the diligent keeping of the heart a constant and 
important duty. 

5. I^t men pursue what employments they will, 
whether publick or private, high or low, civil or relig- 
ious, their daily business will become their daily sin, 
unless they keep their hearts with all diligence. "Out 
of the heart are the issues of life." As men's hearts 
are^ so are all their employments. While they^eglect 
their hearts, their ploughing and sowing, and reaping 
will be sin; their reading, and praying, and aims- 
giving will be sin; and every business which employs 
their hands, or heads, or tongues, or pens will be sin. 
Unless they keep their hearts right with God, and do 
every thing to his glory, he will condemn them as 
wicked and unfaithful servants. 

(3. Men must keep their hearts with all diligence, 
lest they abuse all the blessings of providence with 
which they are favoured. They may abuse their health 
and strength, tlieir intellectual powers and acquired 
knowledge, their wealth and influence, and all their 
civil and religious advantages, by placing their supreme 

210 SERMON Xn. Prov. iv, 22. 

affection upon these temporal and inferior objects. 
And unless they keep their hearts with constant and 
peculiar care, they will turn all their outward blessings 
into temptations to sin and aggravations of guilt. They 
can enjoy no earthly good, or common blessing of 
providence, with innocence and safety, any longer than 
they guard their hearts against every selfish affection. 
They will certainly abuse all their outward enjoyments, 
unless they keep their hearts under constant restraint. 

7. The same diligence in keeping the heart is neces- 
sary, to prevent their abusing the troubles and afflic- 
tions which they are called to suffer. If they indulge 
a murmuring or repining spirit under divine correc- 
tions, they will become moral, as well as natural evils. 
There is never more need of keeping the heart, than 
under severe and lasting trials. While these continue, 
the afflicted ought to keep themselves constantly in the 
love of God, and cheerfully submit to his chastizing 
hand. But if they neglect to guard their hearts, all 
their sighs, and groans, and complaints will increase 
their guilt, and prepare them for greater evils in this 
life, or in the life to come. 

Thus men will continually sin in all their affections, 
and thoughts, and words, and designs, and employ- 
ments, and enjoyments, and sufferings, while they ne- 
glect to keep their hearts; and, therefore, it is of serious 
importance, that they should keep them with all dili- 
gence. There is no time, nor place, nor situation, 
which does not require the constant performance of 
this necessary duty. The necessity and obligation of 
guarding the heart lies upon young and old, saints 
and sinners, without a single exception. 


1. it appears from what has been said, that men 

SERMON XII. Prov. iv, 23. gU 

arc never under a natural necessity of sinning. If 
they will only keep their hearts in the manner which 
God requires, they will always be secure against every 
nnioral evil. Though they m ay be tempted by the world, 
by wicked men, and by Satan, yet they may always 
resist and overcome ail these external temptations. 
Christ was tempted by the world, by Peter, and by the 
Devil, but they could not draw his guarded heart 
astray. Satan tempted Job. by stripping him of every 
thing which he held most dear and valuable in life; 
but he kept his heart from rising against God, and 
sinned not. All men, at all times, are equally able to re- 
sist all the snares and temptations with which they arc 
surrounded in this state of trial. Their eyes and ears 
and imaginations may be assaulted, but while they 
keep their hearts with due care, they may bid defiance 
to all their spiritual enemies. These can do them no 
harm, while they follow that which is good. So long 
as they set their affections on things above, things be- 
low cannot corrupt their hearts. They are just as able 
to resist all temptations, as they are to keep their hearts 
with all diligence. Let them only perform this duty, 
and it will give them the victory over the world and 
all the things of the world. 

2. Since men can guard their hearts against evil, it 
is easy to see that they can guard their hearts against 
good. They can no more be laid under a natural ne- 
cessity of becoming good, than of becoming evil. As 
they can resist all temptations to sin, so they can resist 
all motives to embrace the gospel and obey the divine 
commands. They can shut their eyes, stop their ears, 
and harden their hearts against every thing that can be 
said to them, or done for them, by those who seek to 
promote their spiritual welfare. They are entirely out 
of the reach of all the means of grace, which they can 

212 SERMON XII. Prov. iv, 22. 

abuse to their own ruin. And even the calls and ad- 
monitions of divine providence may be lost upon 
them, and only serve to increase their guilt and ripen 
them for future and aggravated destruction. This was 
exemplified by the conduct of those, who heard and 
rejected the preaching of Noah; by those who heard 
and despised the voice of Moses and the prophets; by 
those who heard and rejected the counsel of God> 
under the preaching of Christ and the apostles; and by 
those at this day, who wax worse and worse, under 
all the manurings and cultivations of the word, the 
providence and Spirit of God. Though divine 
truth may be conveyed to the ears, the understandings, 
and consciences of sinners, yet they can despise, or 
oppose it, and stifle convictions, and obstinately persist 
in the course to ruin. In a word, they can and will 
destroy themselves, unless God sees fit to change their 
hearts by his sovereign and irresistible grace. 

3. We learn from what has been said, the immi- 
nent danger those are in, who neglect the duty enjoin- 
ed in the text. This neglect all sinners are continually 
guilty of, in the whole course of their conduct. They 
never keep their hearts in the manner God requires. 
They suffer their hearts to rove from object to object, 
and to fix upon any object which gives them the most 
pleasure, or promises them the most profit. And 
though their curiosity, or interest, or peculiar circum- 
stances sometimes constrain them to fix their attention 
upon spiritual and divine objects, yet they take occa- 
sion from them to indulge their selfishness, malignity, 
or contempt. So that all objects with which they are 
surrounded, all persons with whom they converse, all 
favours with vi'hich they are indulged, all afflictions 
with wliiich they are visited, and all the instructions 
which are poured into their minds, have a natural and 

SERMON XII. Prov. iv, 22. 213 

powerful tendency to corrupt their hearts, and push 
them on in the path to destruction. Let them turn 
their eyes, or fix their attention where they will, they 
can see, and hear, and know nothing but what draws 
forth their corruptions, and increases both their guilt 
and danger. While they neglect to keep their hearts, 
they lie open to all the temptations of Satan, to all the 
seductions of wicked men, and to all the sin and guilt, 
which arises from the abuse of all their natural talents, 
temporal favours, and religious advantages. This 
awful truth all sinners under genuine conviction clearlj^ 
see and sensibly feel, which cuts off all hope of salva- 
tion, but that which arises from the mere sovereign 
mercy of God. 

4. We learn from what has been said, that none 
can be sincere in religion, who entirely neglect to keep 
their hearts. Their concern about their external con- 
duct has no religion in it, while they are totally un- 
concerned about their internal views and feelings. 
There are many very strict and moral persons, who 
pay no regard to the motives of their conduct, 
and lay no restraint upon the corruption of their 
hearts. They mean to maintain a sober and regular 
life, while they set their hearts wholly upon the world, 
and indulge every selfish affection. They mistake 
morality for religion, and build their hopes of heaven 
, upon a false and sandy foundation. But no external 
obedience or outward forms of worship, which flow 
not from a pure and holy heart, partake of the nature 
of true religion. This our Saviour abundantly taught, 
in the course of his preaching to those religious sects 
who flourished in his day, and were esteemed eminent- 
ly pious. He told his disciples in his sermon on the 
mount, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the 
righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall ia 

214 SERMON XIL Prov. iv, 22. 

no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." And he 
reproved the Scribes and Pharisees themselves in the 
most severe and solemn manner. "Wo unto you, 
Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of 
mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the 
weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and 
faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave 
the other undone. Wo unto you, Scribes and Phari- 
sees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the 
cup, and of the platter, but within they are full of ex- 
tortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse Jirs< 
that which is within the cup and platter, that the out- 
side of them may be clean also." Real saints keep 
their hearts with all diligence, but formalists and hypo- 
crites neglect this duty, and expose themselves to be shut 
out of the kingdom of heaven. 

5. We learn from what has been said, the nature 
of the christian warfare. It consists in watching, guard- 
ing, and keeping the heart. All true christians know, 
that they are naturally inclined to attend to improper 
objects, and to exercise improper affections. They 
view themselves in an enemy's land, where every per- 
son and object will lead them astray, unless they keep 
their eyes and hearts upon proper objects, and guard 
against every worldly or selfish affection. Their war- 
fare consists not in attacking their spiritual enemies, 
but in avoiding, or resisting them, by every holy and 
virtuous exercise. They know, that while they keep 
their hearts in a holy and heavenly frame, neither 
Satan, nor the whole world can lead them into sin; 
but if they once allow their eyes, or ears, or hearts to 
wander, the veriest trifles are sufficient to make them 
stumble and fall, and will never fail to produce this 
fatal effect. In this spiritual warfare, they will find 
no discharge, nor even respite, until they leave the 

SERMON XII. Prov. iv, 22. 215 

present evil world, and arrive at that state of rest and 
perfection, which remains for the people of God. 

•6. This subject teaches christians the importance of 
their constantly and sincerely attending to all the 
means of grace, which God has appointed for their 
spiritual benefit. The reading of the holy Scriptures, 
the hearing of the gospel preached, the commemorat- 
ing of the death of Christ at his table, the meditating 
much upon heavenly and divine objects, and especially 
the frequent and devout calling upon God in secret, 
private, and publick, will have a happy tendency to 
enliven and increase every religious affection, and keep 
them from all the paths of the destroyer. All the 
means of grace were appointed for the edifying and 
perfecting of the saints, who need such aids to carry 
them forward in the divine life, and to guard them 
against the dangers to which they are daily and con- 
stantly exposed. This is the only way in which they 
can have any ground to expect, they shall be always 
able to keep their hearts. By attending to good ob- 
jects, they will exclude bad ones, and by exercising 
good affections, they will banish bad ones from their 
hearts. If they will constantly and faithfully improve 
the means of grace, God has promised they shall ex- 
perience these happy effects. "The righteous shall 
flourish like the palm-tree; they shall grow like the 
eedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the 
house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our 
God. Tliey shall bring forth fruit in old age; they 
shall be fat and flourishing." 




Acts xiii, 38. 
Be it known unto you therefoj'e, men and hrethren^ 
that through this man is preached unto you the for- 
giveness of sins. 

THE apostle Paul determined to know nothing, in his 
preaching, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Wheth- 
er he preached to Jews or to Gentiles, he commonly 
and largely insisted upon the atonement of Christ, as 
the only foundation of pardon and acceptance in the 
sight of God. In the discourse which contains the 
text, he first speaks of the descent, the life, and death 
of Christ, and then represents what he did and suffer- 
ed, as the only ground of the pardon and justification 
of sinners. 

"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, 
that through this man is preached unto you the for- 
giveness of sins." These words plainly teach us, that 
forgiveness is the only favour, which God bestows up- 
on men, on Christ's account. In treating upon this 
subject, I shall, 

I. Consider what we are to understand by forgive- 

II. Consider what we are to understand by being 
forgiven, on Christ's account. 

III. Make it appear, that forgiveness is the only fa- 
vour, which God bestows upon men, on the account 
ftf Cliiist. 

SERMON Xlli. Acts xiii, 38, 217 

I. Let us consider what we are to understand by 

To remit, to pardon, to forgive, are terms of the same 
import. To forgive a debt, is to cancel the obligation 
of the debtor to pay the sum which he engaged to pay. 
And to forgive sins is to cancel the obligation of the 
transgj-essor to suffer the punishment, which his sins 
deserve. Some have justly made a distinction between 
the guijt^ of blame and the ^uilt of punishment. When 
a man has sinned, he deserves to be blamed, and when 
he deserves to be blamed, he deserves to be punished. 
Every sin carries in it a desert of both blame and pun- 
ishment, which never can be removed. The Deity 
himself cannot take awa/ the demerit of sin, which i^ 
inseparable from its nature. After a man has once 
transgressed, his transgression will forever remain, and 
justly deserve both blame and punishment. But though 
God cannot remove the demerit of sin, yet he can free 
men from the punishment of it. And in this, the eSr 
sence of forgiveness consists. So far as God frees men 
from the punishmentdue to them for sin, so far he ac- 
tually forgives them. Forgiveness may be partial, or 
total. Partial forgiveness is the remission of part of 
the penal evil which the sinner deserves. Thus rebels 
are sometimes partially pardoned. They are freed 
from the punishment of death; but not from certain 
civil disadvantages, such as the deprivation of former 
privileges, and an incapacity for future preferments. 
But total forgiveness removes all penal pains, evils, or 
inconveniences arising from transgiession. Eveiy sin 
deserves God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and 
in that which is to come. And though God forgives 
every believer the future punishment of all his sins; 
yet he reserves it in his own power to punish him in 
this life, as often and as severely as he sees best. So 

218 SERMOx\ XIII^ -.^CTs xiiv38. 

that the forgiveness of sin in this life is not total, but 
partial. It consists, however, as far as it extends, in 
the prevention or removal of punishment. God does, 
for Christ's sake, absolve true believers from all pun- 
ishment in a future state. He assures tliem,that they 
shall be saved from the wrath to come, and never suffer 
that eternal death, which is the proper and full wages 
of sin. Having shown what is to be understood by 
forgiveness, I proceed to consider, 

H. What we are to understand by being forgiven 
for Christ's sake, or on his account. 

Through Christ, for Christ's sake, on Christ's ac- 
count, are phrases of one and the same signification. 
"■Through this man is preached unto you the forgive- 
ness of sins," says the apostle. Forgiveness comes 
through the medium of Christ, His atonement is the 
sole ground of pardon. God forgives for Christ's sake, 
or on account of what Christ has done to render it 
consistent with his character, to absolve or release the 
transgressor , from bearing the punishment due to him 
for sin. Sometimes men forgive for the sake of their 
own honour or reputation; and sometimes they forgive 
for the sake of compassion towards the offender. But 
God never forgives for his own sake, nor for the sake 
of the sinner, but merely for Chiist's sake. Neither 
bis own honour, nor the siimer's misery, is the ground 
of his forgiveness, but simply the atonement of Chiist. 
God can consistently punish sinners without respect to 
Christ; but he cannot consistently pardon them, or free 
them from deserved punishment, without respect to the 
Mediator. Without sheddins; of blood there is no re- 
mission. There must be a peculiar reason for God's 
forgiving the guilty And the atonement of Christ is 
the only sufficient reason for his forgiving the guilty. 
This indeed is sufficient; and while he forgives sinners^ 

SERMON XIII. AcTSxni,38. 219 

entirely on Christ's account, he appears to be just as 
well as gracious. The way is now prepared to show, 
III. That forgiveness is the only favour, which God 
bestows upon men, on Christ's account. This will ap- 
pear, if we consider, 

1. There was no need of an atonement, in order to 
God's bestowing "any other favour, than forgiveness. 
He can shew favour to holy and innocent creatures, 
without any thing's being done to render the displays 
of his a'oodness consistent with his character. From 
mere benevolence, he has raised the holy angels to the 
higiiest degrees of holiness, and caused them to drink 
of those rivers of pleasure which perpetually flow at 
his right hand. And when man was formed in his 
own image, he treated him in the same manner in 
which he treated, and will forever treat, the angels of 
light. God placed him in the garden of Eden, and 
loaded him with benefits, as long as he continued holy 
and innocent. And even now, he bestows innumera- 
ble blessings upon his degenerate offspring, without 
respect to Christ, He causes his sun to rise and his 
Fain to fall, upon the evil as well as the good, and 
grants as large a portion of the good things of this life 
to his enemies, as to his friends. There is no temporal 
favour so great, but he can bestow it upon the vilest 
of men, as a mere act of sovereignty, without the least 
respect to Christ as Mediator. But it is only through 
the atonement of Christ, that he can and does forgive 
sinners. And from this, we may justly conclude, that 
forgiveness is the only favour, which he grants to man- 
kind merely for Christ's sake. 

2. The great design of Christ's coming into the world 
and making atonement for sin, was to open the way 
for forgiveness. This appears fi'om the whole current 
of scripture. The types of Christ, under the law, re- 

£20 SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 38. 

present his atonement as being designed to lay the 
foundation for forgiveness only. The paschal IXmb 
was a type of Christ's death. "Christ our passoVer, 
says the apostle, is slain for us." But the paschal lamb, 
which was slain to preseiTe the Israelites from that 
destruction, which fell upon the Egyptians, would not 
have been a proper type of the death of Christ, unless 
his death had been designed to lay the foundation of 
pardon or freedom from punishment. The bullock 
that was slain for the sins of Israel, was a type of Christ's 
laying down his life for the sins of the world. But 
this bullock is said to make atonement for the express 
purpose of forgiveness. So we repeatedly read in the 
fourtii chapter of Leviticus. If the whole congrega- 
tion sin, it is sard, the priest shall kill the bullock, and 
make atonement for them, and their sin shall be for- 
given, ver. 20. If a ruler sin, then the priest shall kill 
the bullock, and make atonement for him, concerning 
his sin, and it shall be forgiven, ver. 26. Or if one of 
the common people sin, the priest shall kill the bullock, 
and make atonement for him, and his sin shall be for- 
given. All the sacrifices for sin, under the Old Testa- 
ment, were designed to lay a foundation for forgive- 
ness. Hence says the apostle in his exposition of the 
types in his epistle to the Hebrews, '^without shedding 
of blood is no remission." This shows, that the death 
or atonement of Christ was wholly designed to open 
the way for the remission of sin, or the exercise of 
pardoning mercy to penitent sinners. 

The inspired writers represent the design of the suf- 
ferings and death of Christ in the same light. The 
evangelical Prophet says, "He was wounded for our 
transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the 
chastisement of our peace was laid upon him; and by 
\{is stripes we arc healed." When Christ appear^cj 

SERIVION XIII. Acts xiii, 38. 221 

and foretold his own death, he always represented it 
as being designed to lay a foundation for foigueness, 
or to of:>en the way for God to save sinners fj om the 
punishment of sin. "As Moses, says he, lifted up the 
serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man 
be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should 
not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved 
the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that 
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have 
everlasting life." Again he says, "The Son of man 
came to give his life a ransom for many." And when 
he instituted the memorials of his death, he clearly ex- 
plained the design of it to his disciples. Having taken 
the cup, and given thanks, he said to them, "Drink ye 
all of it: For this is my blood of the New Testament 
which is shed for many, for the remission of sins." 
The first time of his appearing to his disciples after his 
death, "He said unto them, these are the words which 
I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all 
things must be fulfilled which were written in the law 
of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, con- 
cerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that 
they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto 
them, Thus it is wintten, and thus it behoved Christ to 
suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and 
that repentance and remission of sins should be preach- 
ed in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusa- 
lem." In ill these passages, Christ plainly intimates 
that the great design of his death was to open the way 
for the pardon, remission, or forgiveness of sin. Agiee- 
ably to these declarations of Christ, his apostles repre- 
sented forgiveness, as the great and only favour grant- 
ed to sinners, on his account. Thus Peter preached 
to the awakened nuiititudes on the day of pentecost: 
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their 

222 SERMON XIll. Acts xiii, 38. 

heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, 
Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said 
unto them, Repent and be baptized every one* of you 
in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission qfsins.^^ 
In another discourse to persons in the same situation 
he says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that 
your sins may he blotted out;^^ that is, forgiven. And 
when he preached Christ to Cornelius and his family, 
he taught them, "that through his name whosoever 
believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.'^ 
This is precisely the same language which Paul holds 
in our text. "Be it known unto you therefore, that 
through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness 
ofsins.''^ And Paul not only preached, that tlie atone- 
ment of Christ was designed to procure forgiveness on- 
ly; but he also wrote in the same manner in his epis- 
tles, in which he professedly explains the design of 
Christ's dc ..^h. Treating upon this subject in the third 
chapter of Romans, he says, "Therefore by the deeds 
of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight. For 
all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. 
Being justiticd \'vedy by his grace through the redemp- 
tion that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth 
to be a [)ropitiation through faith in his blood, to de- 
clare his righteousness for the remission of sins.^^ He 
also says to the Galatians, "Christ hath redeemed us 
from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." 
The obvious meaning of these words is, thai pardon, 
forgiveness, or freedom from the curse of the law, is 
, the great and sole benefit we receive on Christ's ac- 
count. Thus the types of Christ, his own declarations, 
and the declarations of his apostles, unite to prove, 
that his atonement is the only ground of forgiveness, 
'and forgiveness is the only favour, which God ever- 

SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 33. 22S 

orants to men on account of it. And it will further 
confirm this truth, if we consider, 

3. That believers are expressly said to be forgiven 
for Christ's sake. The apostle uses this phraseology 
in his exhortation to the Ephesians, when he says, ''Be 
kind one to another, tender-hearted, foigiving one an- 
other, even as God for ChrisCs sake hath forgiven 
you." In another place, speaking of Jesus whom God 
raised from the dead, he says, "Who delivered us from 
the wrath to come;" that is, from future and eternal 
punishment. He says again, "God commendeth his 
love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners 
Christ died for us. Much more then, being jmiified 
by his blood, we shall be saved from ti)rath through 
him." By the blood of Christ here we are to under- 
stand his atonement, which the apostle says is the 
ground of justification, or freedom from eternal de- 
struction, v.hich is the proper expression of divine 
wrath. But there is one or two more expressions, 
which the apostle uses respecting forgiveness through 
Christ, that deserve particular notice. After telling the 
Ephesians, that they were chosen and accepted in 
Christ, he further observes, "In whom we have redemp- 
tion through his hloodj he forgiveness ofsins.''^ And 
he makes the same observation to the Colossiaiis. "In 
whom we have redemption through his blood, even 
the forgiveness oj sins.^^ The mode of expression, in 
these two passages, plainly implies, that forgiveness is 
the one peculiar favour, which God grants to believers, 
merely in respect to the redemption of Christ. And 
this was undoubtedly the apostle's meaning, otherwise 
he would not have selected forgiveness from all other 
divine favours, and represented it as the great and only 
blessing bestowed upon believers, -on Christ's account, 
or merely for his sake. 

224 SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 38. 

But here it may be objected, that the great design 
of Christ's atonement was, to lay a foundation for 
the sanctification, rather than the forgiveness of sin- 
ners. To this purpose may be alleged that passage 
in the first of Matthew, where we read, ''She shall 
bring forth a San, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: 
for he shall save his people from their sins.^' Also 
that passage in Titus, in which it is said of Christ, 
"Who gave himself fot' us, that he might redeem us 
from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar 
people, zealous of good works." 

To these and other passages of the same import, two 
things may be replied. 

First, to be saved from sin generally means in scrip- 
ture, to be saved from the punishment of it; which is 
precisely the same thing as forgiveness. There does 
not appear any need of atonement, in order to lay a 
foundation for the mere regeneration or sanctification 
of sinners. Though God could not have consistently 
forgiven Adam , the first moment after he had sinned, 
without an atonement; yet he might have renewed or 
sanctified him, as an act of mere sovereignty, without 
any atonement, and without forgiveness. Hence we 
may conclude,thatit was not the primary or principal 
design of Christ in coming and dying for his people, 
to redeem or save them from the power and do- 
minion of sin; but to save or redeem them from 
the punishment of it. Though God meant to raise 
the elect from a state of sin to a state of holiness; yet 
all that Christ had to do, as a Redeemer, for this pur- 
pose, was to open a way for a pardon, by making a 
full atonement for sin. This being done, it belonged 
to the office of the Holy Spirit, to sanctify and pre- 
pare them for the kingdom of glory. 

SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 38. 225 

But, secondly, as God means to sanctify none but 
those, whom he intends to pardon through the atone- 
ment of Christ; so his atonement is a remote, but not a 
next or immediate cause of their sanctification. It is on- 
ly the occasion, or cause without which, none would be 
sanctified, or prepared for heaven. There appears to 
be no propriety in God's renewing and sanctifying 
any whom he means to shut out of heaven and con- 
sign to everlasting destruction, though such a mode of 
treating sinners would not beinconsistent with justice; 
because they would deserve eternal misery after they 
were sanctified, as much as they did before. But there 
is no ground to think, that God ever has sanctified, or 
ever will sanctify any but those whom he means to 
pardon and save. Hence it appears, that the atone- 
ment of Christ is designed to render it consistent with 
justice for God to pardon sinners, and consistent with 
wisdom to sanctify them. So that men are not sanc- 
tified on Christ's account, in the same sense in which 
they are pardoned or forgiven on his account. In a 
word, the atonement of Christ is the occasion of the 
sinner's regeneration, and the sole ground of his par- 
don or justification; which is perfectly agreeable to the 
leadins: sentiment in this discourse. 

It may be further objected, that we are required to 
ask for other favours, besides forgiveness, in Christ's 
name, or for his sake; which seems to imply, that God 
bestows not only forgiveness, but every other favour, 
on Christ's account. Among other texts, the fol- 
lowing plainly convey this idea. "Whatsoever 
ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the 
Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask 
any thing in my name, I will do it. Ye have not 
chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, 
that he should go and bring forth fruit, and that your 

2^6 SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 38. 

fruit should lemain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of 
the Father in my name, he may give it yon. Hitherto 
ye have asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall 
receive, that your joy may be full. And whatsoever 
ye do in word or deed, do ail in the name of the Lord 
Jesus, giving thanks to God, and the Father by him." 

To ask, or to do a thing, in Christ's name, very often 
means nothing more nor less, than asking or doing a 
thing, for the honour and glory of Christ. And this 
is the only proper meaning of the last of the above cited 
passages. And to ask, or to do any thing for the hon- 
our and glory of Christ, is entirely consistent with our 
asking for, and God's granting us forgiveness, for 
Christ's sake, in distinction from all other favours. 

But we readily allow, there is a propriety in asking 
for every favour for Christ's sake, though God grants 
only forgiveness on his account. The propriety lies 
here. We always need forgiveness, v/heri we ask for 
any favour; and to ask for any favour for Chirst's sake, 
is to ask for forgiveness first, and then for the favour 
we request. This, we presume, is the real intention of 
every sincere christian, when he asks for any divine 
favour, for Christ's sake. He feels his guilt, which 
stands in the way of his receiving any token of God's 
gracious approbation. And in this view of himself, he 
asks for favour in Christ's name; or that God would 
both forgive and shew mercy. It is only because he 
feels the need of forgiveness, that he mentions the name 
of Christ in his petitions before the throne of grace. But 
whether we have, or have not given the true sense of 
those texts, which require us to ask for every favour, in 
Christ's name, or for his sake; yet it is firmly believed, 
that their true meaning does not militate against the 
doctrine, that it is only forgiveness, which God grants 
to men merely on Christ's account. 

SERMON XIII. Ac'rsxni,38. 227 


1. If forgiveness be the onl}' thing which God be* 
stows upon men, through the atonement of Christ; 
then we may justly conclude, that his atonement did 
not^jcqiisist in his obedience, but in his sufferings. 
Those who maintain, that his atonement wholly con- 
sisted in his obedience, suppose that it was designed 
only to open the way for God to renew and sanctify 
sinners. And if this were the only end to be answered 
by his atonement;, it is difficult to see, why his atone- 
ment might not consist in his preaching, or in his 
working miracles, or in his wearing a seamless coat, 
or in his washing his disciple's feet, or in any act of 
obedience to his earthly or heavenly Father. Upon 
the supposition of his atonement being designed to lay 
9, foundation for God's bestowing any other favour 
upon sinners, than pardoning mercy, we can see no 
reason why it should consist in sufferings rather than 
in obedience; or in obedience, rather than in sufferings; 
or in both, rather than in either. But if it were de- 
signed to lay a foundation for forgiveness only; the^i 
we can see a good reason why it should consist whol- 
ly in sufferings, rather than in obedience. His obey- 
ing for sinners could be no reason for God's forgiving 
them on his account; but his suffering for them could 
be a good reason for God's pardoning them on his ac- 
count. His dying the just for the unjust; his tasting 
death for every man; or his suffering for those, who 
deserved to suffer, was doing what properly constituted 
an atonement for sin, according to our common 
ideas of an atonement; or doing that for which sin 
may be forgiven. It is the common opinion of man- 
Icind, that suffering, or the shedding of blood is the on- 

ly thing that c^n mc^ke atonement, or lay a founda- 

228 SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 38 

Hon for the remission of sin. And since it appears 
from what has been said in this discourse, that pardon, 
forgiveness, or remission of sin, is the only thing which 
God docs actually bestow upon mankind, on account 
of Christ's atonement, we may safely conclude, that 
his atonement consisted wholly in his sufferings, and 
neither partly, nor vyholly in his obedience. It is the 
end, which the atonement of Christ was designed to 
answer and does answer, that enables us to determine 
wherein it consisted. And if this be true, all who be- 
lieve, that the only end which Christ's atonement was 
designed to answer and does answer, was to lay a 
foundation for forgiveness, will also believe tliat it 
consisted altogether in his suffering and dying in the 
room of sinners. 

2. If forgiveness be all that God bestows upon men^ 
through the atonement of Christ; then forgiveness is 
not only a part, but the whole of justification. Cal- 
vinists have found a great deal of difficulty in ex- 
plaining justification to their own satisfaction, or to 
the satisfaction of others. The reason is, that they 
have endeavoured to make it appear, that justification 
contains something more than pardon or forgiveness. 
The Assembly of divines say, ''That justification is an 
act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our 
sins, and acccpteth us as righteous in his sight, only 
for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and re- 
ceived by faith alone." Agreeably to this definition, 
our Calvinistick divines generally maintain, that justifi- 
cation consists of two parts, namely, pardon of sin, 
and a title to eternal life. Pardon, they suppose, is 
granted on account of Christ's death, or passive obe 
dience; and a title to eternal life is gi'anted on account 
of his righteousness or active obedience. But we find 
no warrant in Scripture for thus dividing justification 

SERMON XIII. Acts, xiii, 38. 229 

into two parts, and ascribing one part to the suffer- 
ings of Christ, and the other part to his obedience. 
The apostle in our text and context uses the terms 
forgiveness and justification, in the same sense, or as 
signifying precisely the same thing. "Be it known 
unto you, men and brethren, that through this man is 
preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by 
him all that believe are justified from all things iiom 
which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." 
When we look into the Old Testament, we there find 
forgiveness used to denote the same thing, thatjusii' 
f cation is used to denote in the New Testament. 
And it appears from the explanation, which we have 
given of forgiveness, that it means the removal of all 
the natural evil or punishment due to sin. Complete 
forgiveness, therefore, is complete justification. After 
a sinner is forgiven through the death, or blood, or 
sufferings of Christ, he can have no need of the obe- 
dience or righteousness of Christ, to recommend him 
to the favour of God, or entitle him to eternal life. 
When a rebel is fully forgiven, he is by that very act 
restored to the favour of his prince. So, vvhen a pen-, 
itent, believing sinner is fully forgiven, his very for- 
giveness restores him to the favour of God bothin this 
life and that which is to come. It is a dictate of rea- 
son and scripture, that after a sinner is renewed and 
forgiven, he stands as fair to enjoy eternal life, as if he 
had never sinned and offended God. There is not the 
least foundation in scripture, for the distinction be^ 
tween the active and passive obedience of Christ, nor 
for the distinction between forgiveness and justification. 
It was what Christ suffered, that made the atonement 
for sin; that atonement is the sole ground of forgive- 
ness; and forgiveness is the whole that God bestows 
upon men for Christ's sake. Hence forgiveness is not 

^30 SERMON Xlil. Acts xiii, 38;^ 

merely a part, but the whole of what can be conceived 
ito be contained in justification. And this representa- 
tion of justification is not only scriptural, but plain and 
intelligible toeve ry capacity. 

3. This subject shows, that there is no inconsisten- 
cy in maintaining, that believers are justified entirely 
on Christ's account; and yet that they shall be reward- 
ed for all their virtuous actions entirely on their own 

The most plausible objection ever raised against the 
doctrine of justification by faith alone, without the 
deeds of the law, has been founded upon what the 
scripture says concerning believers being finally re- 
warded for theii own works. It must be allowed, 
that the scripture does plainly teach us, that all good 
men shall be rewarded for all their good deeds. "Say 
ye, to the righteous that it shall be well with him: for 
they shall eat the fruit of their doings." "The wicked 
worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth 
righteousness shall be a sure reward." "Go thy way, 
cat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a 
merry heart: for God now accepteth thy works." "I 
am thy shield, and exceeding great reward," says God 
^0 Abraham. "In keeping thy commandments there 
is great reward," says David to God. Christ declares, 
"Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little 
ones, a cup of cold water only, shall in no vAse lose 
his reward." He taught the same doctrine in the par- 
able of the talents, in which he represents each ser- 
vant as receiving a reward in exact proportion to his 
virtue and fidelity. And in his account of the pro- 
cess of the last day, he represents the righteous as 
actually approved and rewarded solely on the account 
of their own virtuous and benevolent actions. It has 
been said, and may be said again, that these and ma- 

SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 38. 231 

fiy other passages of scripture plainly prove that all 
good men will be finally rewarded for all their good 
works; but how is this consistent with the notion of 
believers being justified by faith alone, without the 
deeds of the law? Can it be supposed, that God justi- 
fies believers in this life upon a ground, which is differ- 
ent from that upon which he will approve, accept, and 
reward them, in the great day of retribution? 

This objection has given much trouble to those, who 
hold to the scriptural doctrine of justification by faith 
alone, through the atonement of Christ. Their com- 
mon reply to it is, that believers will not be finally re- 
warded foi' their works, but only according to their 
works, for Christ's sake. But this answer does not seem 
to be satisfactory. The inspired writers assert, in aS 
plain terms as language affords, that believers shall be 
rewarded on their own account. They never once 
bring into view the atonement of Christ, when they 
speak of the final reward of the righteous. Besides, 
there appears to be an absurdity in supposing, that be- 
lievers shall be rewarded according to their works, for 
Christ's sake. For, if they were to be rewarded for 
Christ's sake, it sieems that they slwuld be rewarded 
equally, since they all have an equal interest in Christ. 
If they are to be rewarded for his, and not for iheir 
own sake, they should certainly be rewarded according 
to his, and not according to iheir own virtue. If his 
righteousness be the ground of their reward, it should 
be also the measure of it. There appears to be no 
other way, therefore, to reconcile the doctrine of the 
justification of believers by faith alone, with the doc- 
trine of their' being rewarded according to their works, 
but by admitting the leading sentiment in this discourse^ 
If we only admit, that all God bestows upon believers; 
for Christ's sake, is the forgiveness of their sins; then 

232 SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 38. 

we can easily see how he ca« reward them according 
to their works, for their own sake. After he has for- 
given them on Christ's account, there is nothing to 
prevent his rewarding them, on their own account. 
This may be easily illustrated by a put case. Suppose 
a king should offer a great reward to any one of his 
subjects, who should solve a certain problem in mathe- 
maticks. Suppose a mathematical professor in one of 
his universities, should be guilty of high treason, and 
condemned to die. Suppose the evening next before 
the day appointed for his execution, he should solve 
the king's problem; would he not, in that case, be en- 
titled to the king's reward? But how can he be reward- 
ed for his discovery, when he must die for his treason? 
There is but one way supposable, and that is, the 
king's granting him a full pardon. Let this be done, 
and he stands as fair to be rewarded, as if he had 
never offended. Just so, the holy and virtuous actions 
of believers are as amiable and worthy of the divine 
approbation, as if they had never sinned; yet they 
cannot be rewarded, unless they are forgiven. But 
after God justifies, or forgives them, on Christ's account, 
they stand as fair to be rewarded for all their good 
deeds, as if they had never sinned and forfeited the di- 
vine favour. Thus there appears to be a perfect con- 
sistency between God's justifying, that is, forgiving be- 
lievers for Christ's sake, and yet rewarding them, for 
their own sake, according to their works. 

4. If all that God bestows upon men, for Christ's 
■ sake, is forgiveness; then there is no propriety in di- 
recting sinners to go to Christ for a new heart or sanc- 
tifying grace. Christ did not die for sinners, to pro- 
jcure their regeneration; but to procure their pardon or 
justification, after they are regenerated. God grants 
regenerating grace to whom lie pleases, as an act of 

SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 38. 238 

mere sovereignty, without any particular respect to the 
death or atonement of Christ. Sinners must be re- 
newed, before they can believe in Christ, or partake of 
any benefit on his account. It is, therefore, contrary 
to the whole economy of redemption, to direct sinners 
to go to Christ for regenerating or sanctifying grace. 
Bit how often are tiiey (iiiected to go to Christ, and 
carry their unholy hearts to be sanctified, their hard 
hearts to be softened, their stony hearts to be taken 
away. This is a mode of preaching very different 
from that of the apostles. They preached through 
Christ the forgiveness of sins, not the renovation of the 
heart. They exhorted sinners to repent and believe, 
that their sins midit be blotted out. There is a oreat 
propriety in directing sinners to go penitently and be- 
lievingly to Christ for pardoning mercy, through whom 
alone they can obtain forgiveness in the sight of God. 
But there is a gross absurdity in directing them to go 
to Christ impenitently and unbelievingly, for faith and 
repentance. For tlie very meaning of going to Christ 
is loving, believing, or trusting in him; which cannot 
be done with an unholy and totally corrupt heart. 
This mode of preaching has a direct tendency to give 
sinners a wrong ideaorthen.selves,and of the atonement 
of Christ, and of consequence, to destroy their souls 

5. If the only thing which God bestows upon sin- 
ners for Christ's sake is forgiveness; then we may ea* 
sily determine what it is, that ministers have a right to 
offer to them in Christ's name. . S'ome say, that min- 
isters have no right to make any offer to sinners in 
Christ's name, because an offer made to them would 
imply a condition to be performed on their part, which 
would be inconsistent with the very spirit and grace of 

the gospel. Others say, that ministers have a right to 

1^54 SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 38. 

offer sinners a new lieart, or regenerating grace, upon 
the condition of their asking for it in the name of 
Christ. Neither of these opinions is agreeable to the 
leadino: sentiment in this discourse. The truth is, min- 
isters have a right to make an offer to all in Christ's 
name, of that, and only of that, which God is ready 
to bestow upon them for Christ's sake: and that we 
have seen is pardoning mercy. God is willing to 
pardon, forgive, or justify all penitent believing sinners, 
on Christ's account. It is, therefore, the indispensable 
duty of ministers to offer the pardoning mercy of God 
to all, who will believe in Christ, or cordially embrace 
the gospel. When Paul preached the gospel, he made 
this, and only this offer, to his hearers. "Be it known 
unto you, men and brethren, that through this man is 
preached unto you the forgiveness of sins." 

Finally, we may infer from the whole tenor of this 
discourse, that no sinners under the light of the gospel, 
have any ground to despair of finding pardon and ac- 
<ceptance in the sight Of God, on account of the great- 
ness of their ^uilt. When sinners become acquainted 
with their own hearts, and the nature, number, and 
aggravations of their sins, they are apt to think tljat 
tlieir'guilt is t?lo great to tfe^fti^lven. =But since Christ 
has made a completc^atonement for the sins of the 
whole world; and since God freely offers pardon to 
all without distinction, who repent and believe the gos- 
pel, there is nothing but impenitence and unbelief, that 
can shut them out of the kingdom of heaven. They 
are not to gxpect forgiveness for their own sake, but 
for Christ's sake; and for Christ's sake, God is as ready 
to forgive the gieatest, as the smallest sinner. Indeed, 
the greatness of guilt in the truly penitent and humble, 
is a ground of hope, rather than a reason of despair. 
So D>vid thought and said. '-For thy name's sake, 

SERMON XIII. Acts xiii, 38. 23^ 

Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great." Where 
sin abounds there grace can much more abound. It 
is in vain for sinners to go about to establish their own 
righteousness, and to depend upon their own worthi- 
ness to recommend tViem to the divine favour. They 
must become penitent and broken hearted for sin, be- 
fore they can be willing to be pardoned merely for 
Christ's sake. As soon as the publican sincerely cried, 
"God be merciful to me a sinner;" he went down to 
his house justified, pardoned, and accepted. As soon 
as the prcdigal son repented and asked his father's for- 
giveness, his Father freely forgave him all his offences. 
These instances were designed to convince all penitent i 

sinners of God's readiness to forgive them upon the 
terms of the gospel- Be it known, therefore, to all 
sinners, without exception, that through Christ is 
preached unto them the forgiveness of sins; and if they 
will only confess and forsake their transgressions, they 
Shall certainly fmd favour in the sight of God. Amen. 



John ii, 17. 

And his disciples remembered that it was written, The 

zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 

THE occasion, which led the disciples of Christ to re- 
collect and quote this passage from the sixty-ninth 
Psalm, was a bold and astonishing act of duty, which 
they saw him perform in the temple at Jerusalem. 
When he came to that city to attend the passover, 
which he never failed to attend at the proper time, 
*'He found in the temple those that sold oxen, and 
sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 
And. \vl]en he had made a scourge of small cords, he 
drove them^aill oul of the ternple. and the shtep ^nd * ' 
the oxen; and poured b\xl the changers'* money, and- ■^.*4 
overflirew the hibfeS; and sa^d Unto th^m* that sold -^j;i^| 
dove% Take these things hence; make not m^ father's 
house an house of merchandize." This was a sur- 
pnzing act of zeal for the glory of God and the sanc- 
tity of divine in|titMt^^ns. The temple had Tieen sol- 
emnly separated from a' common to a sacied u^e, and 
cohseci-ated to'the^peelifiai^servfce oFxlod. No com- 1 
mon or secular bJfeine^s ought to hav^ been done in 
this sacred house; but some of the professed^ people of 
God had become so> aiid.^presumptuous, as to 
buy and sell in it, even in the presence of the priests, 
whose sacred oflice required them to maintain the pu- 
rity of holy places and of holy things. But though 
they neglected their duty, yet Christ determined to 

SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 237 

maintain the honour of his Father's house and the 
piMity of his instituted worship. Having made a 
scourge of smiW cords, he bjldly went into the tem- 
ple, where he not only drove out the sheep and oxen, 
but the buyers and sellers, whom he reproved with so 
much authority and solemnity, that they lost all power 
to reply or to resist. ''It is written, said he, My house 
shall be called a house of prayer; but ye have made it 
a den of thieves." This extraordinary act -of purging 
the temple, demonstrated his holy and ardent zeal to 
maintain all the positive precepts and institutions of 
his Father's house; and at the sajiie time exhibited a 
bright example, which all his followers ought to imi- 
tate. They ought tcynaintain pure and entire all such 
religious worship a nR)rdi nances as God has appoint- 
ed in his word. Ta explain and enforce the duty of 
christians, to be zealous in maintaining the positive 
duties of religion, it will be necessary, 

I. To mention some of the positive duties of religion 
under the gospel. 

II. To paint out the distinction between positive and 
moral duties. 

III. To consider how christians may maintain posi- 
tive duties. And, 

IV. To show why they should be zealous in main- 
taining these duties. 

I. I am to mention some of the positive duties of 
religion under the gospel. 

The duties of this kind were much more numerous 
under the legal, than they are under the gospel dispen- 
sation. Under the law, the times and places of pub- 
lick worship, together with a multitude of sacrifices^ 
purifications, rites, and ceremonies, were positively ap- 
poiiit?d. B Jt ail these positive duties, which the laws 
Qf Moses enjoined, are now supei'seded and abolished. 

238 SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 

by the christian dispensation. It is not easy, however*, 
to determine how tar some positive duties, which were 
given before the law and under the law, are still bind- 
ing upon christians. But since there is no occasion, 
in this discouise. to consider any such doubtful cases, 
I will mention only some of the plain and principal 
positive duties, which are enjoined in the New Testa- 

Here the- first duty to be mentioned is the observa- 
tion of the Sabbath, or the keeping of one day in seven 
as holy time. Our Saviour not only observed the 
Sabbath himself, but declared, that "the Sabbath was 
made for man," plainly intimating its perpetual obliga- 
tion upon all men in the present life. With this duty 
the publick and social worshiplw God is intimately 
connected. Christ attended the duties of the sanctuary 
on the Sabbath, and undoubtedly commanded his 
apostles, and through them all his followers, to keep 
the first, instead of the seventh day of the week, as a 
day of sacred rest and publick worship. Accordingly 
we know his apostles, and his followers in general, 
have ever since his ascension, attended publick wor- 
ship on the first day of the week, which is emphatical- 
ly styled the Lord:'s day. Christ expressly required 
his friends to profess his religion before the world: 
v/hich is a duty binding upon all who love the Lord 
Jesus Christ in sincerity. Christ commanded, that 
those who professed his religion publickly, should be 
baptized with water in the name of the sacied Trinity. 
Christ enjoined it upon his professed and baptized 
friends, to partake of bread and wine in commemoi^a- 
tion of his death. And he moreover instituted a 
standing visible church, to be composed of such visible 
believers as can conveniently meet together in one 
place, to hear tiic gospel, observe its ordinances, and 

SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 239 

to exercise that mutual watch and discipline over one 
another, which tends to promote their purity, peace, 
and edification. To sum up the whole in a word: to 
keep the Sabbath, to worship God in publick. to make 
a publick profession of religion, to be baptized, to com- 
memorate the death of Chiist, to form into a church 
or religious society, and to exercise a proper watch and 
discipline over one another, are the principal positive 
duties enjoined upon christians under the gospel dis- 

II. The next thing proposed is, to point out the dif- 
ference between positive and moral duties. 

Though we may properly divide all duties into mor- 
al and positive; yet we ought not to magnify this dis- 
tin:tion beyond reasonable bounds. It is often said, 
that moral duties are founded in the nature of things, 
and that they differ from positive duties principally in 
this respect. That there is a reason in the nature of 
things for moral duties, prior to their being command- 
ed of God, is readily granted. But it is equally true, 
that there is a reason in the relation of things for all 
positive duties, prior to the divine precept which en- 
joins them. There is, indeed, some difference between 
the nature of things, and the relation of things. The 
relation of things is mutable, and the nature of things 
is immutable. But there may be as good a reason for 
a positive duty, urlsing from the relation of things, as 
for a moral duty, ar;sing fiom the nature of things. 
As God is a being perfectly wise and holy, so he can 
no more act without reason, than he can act contrary 
to reason. He always sees a reason for every thing 
he does, before he acts; and he always sees a reason 
for every thing he requires, before he commands. 

This holds equally tiiie in regard to both moral 
and positive precepts. He requires moral duties, be- 

24© SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 

cause he sees a good reason for them in the nature of 
things; and he requires positive duties, because he sees 
a good reason for them in the relation of things. He 
required his people of old to love him with all the 
heart, because he saw a good reason for it in the na- 
ture of things; and he required the same people to of- 
fer sacrifices, because he saw as good a reason for it 
in the then relation of things. God never acts capri- 
ciously or arbitrarily, from mere will or pleasure; but 
his will or pleasure in all his commands is founded in 
a solid reason, arising either from the nature of things, 
or from the relation of things, which renders his will 
or pleasure perfectly wise and good. 

The proper distinction, therefore, between moral and 
positive duties is this: moral duties are founded in rea- 
sons, which we are able to discover by the mere light 
of nature; but positive duties are founded in reasons, 
which we cannot discover without the aid of divine 
revelation. Tiiis may be illustrated by a contrast be- 
tween these two species of duties. The light of na- 
ture teaches us, that we ought to love God, but it does 
not teach us, th>xt we ought to rest one day in seven 
from all worldly employment. The light of nature 
teaches us, that we ought to worship God; but it does 
not teach us, that we ought to worship him in a pub- 
lick and social manner. I'he light of nature teaches 
us, that we ought to obey God; but it does not teach 
us, that we ougtit to bind ourselves to obey him, by 
publickly and solemnly engaging to obey him. The 
light of nature teaches us, that we ought to fulfil our 
engagements to God; but it does not teach us, that we 
ought to ratify our engagements by the rite of Bap- 
tism. The light of nature teaches us, that we ought to 
love One, who has died to. save us; but it does not 
teach us, that we ought to commemorate lys love, by 

SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 241 

partaking of bread and wine in remembrance of him. 
In a word, the light of nature may teach us every 
moral duty; but it cannot teach us any positive duty. 
This is the only distinction between moral duties and 
positive; and this distinction exists only in our minds, 
and not in the mind of God, who comprehends the 
relations as well as the nature of things, and who sees 
as good reasons for positive, as for moral duties. And 
could we as clearly see the relation and connexion of 
all things, as we see the nature of some things; we 
•should see as good reasons for positive duties, arising 
from the relations of things, as we do for moral duties, 
arising from the nature of things, and should have no 
more need of a divine revelation to discover positive, 
than to discover moral duties. It is true, that some 
moral duties are more important than some positive 
duties; but since positive duties are founded in as much 
reason, and enjoined by as much authority, as moral 
duties, we are under no le?s obligation to obey all the 
positive, than all the moral duties required in the gospel. 

This leads me to show, 

III. How christians may maintain the positive du* 
ties, which the gospel enjoins upon them. 

It properly belongs to professing christians to main- 
tain all the institutions of the gospel. The great de- 
sign of their being formed into distinct churches or re- 
ligious societies, is to make them the salt of the earth 
and the light of the world. As God formerly com- 
mitted his sacred oracles and positive institutions to 
the care and trust of the Jewish church; so he has 
since committed his word and ordinances to the care 
and trust of the Christian church. '-God hath set some 
in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, 
thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of heal- 
ings, helps, governments, and diversities of tongues." 

242 SERMON XIV. John ii, it. 

Again we read, "God gave some, apostles; soiiief, 
prophets; some, evajigelists; and some, pastors and 
teachers; for the pert'ect'uig of the saints, for the work 
of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ/' 
it appears from these passages, that all ecclesiasfjcai 
power, as well as the word and ordinances of the gos- 
pel, are given to the church, in the first place, and 
lodged in their hands for their edification and spiritual 
benefit. And upon this principle, the apostle calls the 
church, ''the church of tlie living God, the pillar and 
ground of the truth," The members of every chris- 
tian church are bound to use all their influence, to 
maintain the word and worship of God and all his sa- 
cred ordinances, in their primitive purity and simplici- 
ty. Here then I would observe, 

1. That one way, by which every member of the 
church may do something to maintain the positive 
duties of religion, is by his own exemplary conduct. 
Zacharias and Elisabeth w.ilked in all the command- 
ments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. They 
strictly and constantly attended upon every divine in- 
stitution, which had a direct tendency to maintain the 
honour and practice of all instituted duties. While 
our Saviour tabernacled in flesh, he paid a sacred re- 
gard to all divine institutions. When he went to John 
to be baptized, the reason he assigned was, that he 
must fulfil all righteousness. He considered baptism 
as a positive duty, which, as a Jew and a priest, he 
was bound to observe. Being made under the law, 
he meant by his practice to maintain all its positive 
institutions. Accordingly, he attended not only the 
passover, but the publick worship of God, and all the 
rites and ceremonies of divine appointment. This ex- 
ample all his professed friends ought to follow, and m 

SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 243 

this way maintain the publick worship of God and 
all his holy ordinances. 

The more strictly and constantly every member of 
the church observes the Sabbuth^ attends publick wor- 
ship, and practises all the positive duties of religion, 
the more he honours and maintains the special ordi- 
nances of the gospel. Every christian may have great 
influence, by his pious example, to render divine insti- 
tutions truly amiable and respectable in the eyes of the 
world. Though the neglect of moral duties is a gi^eater 
reproach to the pi-ofessors of religion, than the neglect 
of positive duties; yet the strict performance of positive 
duties is a greater honour to their religion, than the 
performance of moral duties. It is by the strict ob- 
servance of positive duties, that christians distinguish 
themselves from the rest of mankind, who generally, 
for their own reputation, pay regard to the common 
duties of morality. Men may be very moral and 
reputable, without paying any respect to divine insti- 
tutions; but men cannot be very religious, without pay- 
ing a sacred regard to all the positive duties of Chris- 
tianity. The very first step, therefore, which every 
member of the church should take, in order to main- 
tain the honour and purity of divine institutions, is to 
walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the 
Lord blameless, which will give weight to every thing 
else he may be called to say or do to promote the same 

2. The members of the church ought to cultivaie 
mutual love and watchiulness, in order to preserve di- 
vine ordinances in their purity^ They are mutually 
bound to love as brethren, and to promote each othv 
er's spiritual good. As members of the same body, 
they have engaged to meet together in the same place. 
to join in the game duties, and to unite in the saine 

244 SEHMON XIV. John ii, 17. 

christian communion and fellowship. This gives them 
peculiar opportunities of exercising all the offices of 
brotherly love and watchfulness. Brotherly love will 
produce that brotherly care and watchfulness, which 
the word of God requires. It is written, "Thou shalt 
not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any 
wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon 
him." The apostle also gives a similar admonition to 
christians. "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any 
of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the 
living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is 
called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the 
deceitfulness of sin." If errors and deviations from 
the path of duty were seasonably checked and reprov- 
ed, many great evils might be prevented from coming 
into and corrupting the church. Christian watchful- 
ness has a direct tendency to prevent the spread of re- 
ligious errors and corruptions among any church or 
religious society. This method Christ took to purge 
the temple. He sharply rebuked those, who presumed 
to profane his Father's house, and pour contempt up- 
on sacred things. His rebukes carried conviction 
and produced the desired effect. It becomes the mem- 
bers of every church to be equally watchful and faith- 
ful. If they observe any of their brethren going astray, 
in respect to sentiment or practice, they ought to take 
the first proper opportunity to converse with them in 
the spirit of love and tenderness, and faithfully warn 
them of their danger, and exhort them to reformation 
and repentance. The apostle suggests a most power- 
ful motive to induce* christians to exercise such faith- 
fulness towards each other. "Brethren, if any of you 
do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him 
know, that he which converteth a sinner from the 

SERMON XIV. John ii, ir. 245 

error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and 
shall hide a multitude of sins." I must add, 

3. The professors of religion ought to unite in the 
exercise ot that holy discipline, which Christ has ap- 
poiiited for the express purpose of reforming trans- 
gressors, or excluding them from the church. This 
mode of discipline #efmd enjoined upon christians in 
the eighteenth chapter of Matthew. Though differ- 
ent denominations of christians have adopted different 
modes of church discipline; yet they have all agreed, 
that some mode of discipline ought to be maintained 
and exercised. But as this is a duty, which requires 
peculiar tenderness, fidelity, and self-denial, churches 
in general have^ from age to age, been too negligent in 
keeping up a proper care and watchfulness and au- 
thority over their delinquent members, which has 
opened the door to innumerable errors in doctrine 
and practice. The apostles exhorted christians to be 
very faithful in maintaining a strict discipline over 
their brethren, who transgressed the laws of Christ, 
and violated their own covenant-obligations. And 
when they were faithful in this respect, their fidelity 
was crowned with success. This appears from the 
good effect of christian discipline in the church of Co- 
rinth in particular. Let any church properly exercise 
that discipline over their members, which Christ has 
appointed, and they will have great reason to hope, 
that they shall be able to prevent or purge out every 
essential error in doctrine and practice, and carry con- 
viction to all around them of their own sincerity, and 
of the beauty and importance of true religion. It now 
remains to show, 

IV. Why christians should be zealous in maintain- 
ing the purity and simplicity of divine institutions. 

246 SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 

Zeal always has respect to some external action, 
and not to any mere immanent exercise of the mind. 
We may properly say, that a man pursues an object 
zealously; but we cannot properly say, that he zeal- 
ously loves or hates that object. But no man ever 
pursues an object zealously, unless it appears to him 
to be an object not only very desirable, but very im- 
portant, or difficult, to obtain. One duty, therefore, 
may require the exercise of zeal and not another. 
Though Christ always paid perfect obedience to his 
Father's will, yet he did not exercise zeal in the per- 
formance of every duty. He often conversed and 
acted with great calmness and serenity, without the 
least appearance of zeal; but he never failed to exer- 
cise a holy and fervent zeal, whenever some difficult 
and important duty was to be performed. It is now 
natural to inquire, why christians should be more 
zealous in maintaining divine institutions, than in dis- 
charging many other religious duties. 

1. They ought to be zealous in performing this 
duty, because it is extremely difficult to perform. 
Those who abuse or profane divine ordinances are 
averse from being rebuked and restrained, and scarce- 
ly ever fail of resenting and opposing any thing that 
is said or done to rebuke and restrain them. Solomon 
observes, that ''he that reproveth a scorner, getteth to 
himself shame; and he that rebuketh a wicked man, 
getteth to himself a blot." Christ was hated, reproach- 
ed, and opposed, because he testified of the world, that 
their works were evil. The same spirit still reigns in 
the breasts of transgressors. They will manifest their 
resentment and opposition towards all, who attempt 
to rebuke or restrain them. To meet and overcome 
this great and formidable difficulty, requires peculiar 
zeal in the professors of religion. It WJ^s owing to a 

SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 247 

Want of zeal in the Jewish priests, that they were 
afraid to rebuke and restrain those who profaned the 
house of God. Nor can it be owing to any thing but 
the want of holy zeal in the followers of Christ, that 
so many corrupt doctrines and corrupt practices have 
been suffered to creep in and prevail among the once 
pure and floui'ishing churches in this land. But such 
a pure and fervent zeal as glowed in the breast of Christ, 
will embolden his true followers to stem the torrent of 
error and corruption, and maintain the purity of divine 
ordinances in the face of the boldest corrupters. True 
zeal takes away that fear of man, which bringeth a 
snare, and enables christians to triumph over all op- 
position in the path of duty. How extremely diffi- 
cult was it to purify the Jewish church, after it had 
been corrupted by idolatrous priests and princes? But 
how often did the zeal of pious priests and princes bear 
down all opposition, and bring back the deluded and 
corrupted to the true worship of the true God? Noth- 
ing but a pure and fervent zeal ever did, or ever will 
prompt the friends of God to surmount the great and 
formidable difficulties, which lie in the way of main- 
taining the w^orship and ordinances of God pure and 
entire. But, 

2. The importance as well as the difficulty of pre- 
serving the purity of divine institutions, ought to in- 
spire christians with peculiar zeal in faithfully discharg'. 
ing this duty. Though the instituted forms of religion 
may be maintained, without maintaining religion it- 
self; yet religion itself cannot be maintained, without 
maintaining its instituted forms. These are the bul- 
warks of religion, which its enemies never fail to at- 
tack, in order to bring it into neglect and contempt. 
The enemies of the Jewish church gained their great- 
est advantage against it, by attacking its sacred rites 

248 SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 

and ceremonies: and those who have corrupted chris- 
tian institutions, have done the greatest injury to the 
christian church. Christ has been most deeply wounded 
in the house of his friends, who have either neglected, 
perverted, or corrupted his holy ordinances. False 
professors of religion were the principal instruments of 
introducing those errors and corruptions in the seven 
churches of Asia, which finally destroyed them. By 
persons of the same character and disposition, were all 
the idolatry, errors, and superstition of the church of 
Rome introduced, which have defaced Christianity, and 
spread infidelity through the christian world. The 
whole history of the church of God teaches us, that 
if we suffer the Sabbath, the sacraments, and the posi- 
tive duties of religion to be neglected, perverted, or 
corrupted, we shall certainly find, that Christianity will 
die in our hands. This is a solemn consideration, 
which ought to awaken the warmest zeal in the breasts 
all sincere christians, to maintain the purity of all di- 
vine institutions, upon which the very existence of re- 
ligion depends. Zeal in pursuing any object, ought 
to rise in proportion to the importance of the object 
pursued. There is no duty, therefore, in which chris- 
tians ought to exercise a more enlightened and ardent 
zeal, than in maintaining those special ordinances of 
the gospel, which are absolutely necessary to promote 
the cause, and enlarge the kingdom of Christ, 


1. If positive duties, which cannot be discovered 
by the light of nature, are founded in as much reason 
as moral duties; then we may justly conclude, that a 
divine Revelation has always been necessary. This is 
denied by infidels, who maintain, that the light of na- 
ture is sufficient to teach moral agents all moral duties, 

SERMON XIV. JOHN ii, 17, 249 

which are founded in reason, and which they can be 
bound to peribim. They say, if God should com- 
mand his creatures to do any thing, which is not 
founded in reason, and which they could not discover 
by the proper use of their rational powers, his positive 
command would not lay them under moral obligation 
to obey; because his positive command could not 
make that right which was not right before, nor that 
duty which was not duty before. So that the very 
supposition of his givjng his creatures a revelation, 
which contains positive precepts, is palpably absurd, 
being altogether unnecessary and useless. The wiiole 
plausibility of this mode of reasoning arises from a 
great mistake, which is, that there can be no reasons 
for any divine command, which are not discoverable 
by the light of nature. But it appears from what has 
been said, that there always are as good reasons for 
positive, as for moral duties; and therefore God may, 
with equal propriety and authority, enjoin both upon 
any of his intelligent creatures, u ho stand ianeed of a 
divine revelation to teach them positive duties in par- 
ticular, which they cannot discover by their mere in- 
tellectual powers. Adam, in his primitive state of in- 
nocence, stood in need of a divine revelation, to teach 
him what fruits of the earth he might use for food: 
what business he might pursue; what day he might 
rest from labour, and how he might spend that day of 
rest. These were positive duties, which he could not 
discover by the light of nature, and which he needed 
a divine revelation to teach him. After he sinned and 
incurred the divine displeasure, he stood in greater 
need of a further revelation, to teach him how he 
might escape deserved punishment and obtain the for- 
feited favour of his offended Sovereign. His posterity 
likewise have stood in need of the same revelation* 

250 SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 

As the gospel was not founded in the nature, but in 
the relation of things, so it could not be discovered by 
the light of nature. God, indeed, saw good reasons in 
the relation of things to provide an atonement for the 
sins of the world, and to appoint those positive duties, 
which are necessary for men to perform in order to 
obtain salvation through the atonement provided. 
There are now just as good reasons for all the 
positive duties of the gospel as for the gospel 
itself; and just as good reasons for a divine reve- 
lation as for these positive duties. And since a new 
relation or oixler of things has arisen in consequence 
of the plan of redemption, God has revealed new posi- 
tive duties to the angels of light. He has commanded 
them to worship Christ as Mediator, to attend Christ 
in his mediatorial work, and to minister to those who 
shall be heirs of salvation. These are duties, which 
angels could no more discover by the light of nature 
than Adam could discover the duty of offering sacri- 
fices by the light of nature. But all such positive du- 
ties of angels and men are founded in as good reasons 
as any moral duties, whatever. Hence it appears, that 
all intelligent creatures stand in need of a divine reve- 
lation, to teach them those positive duties, which they 
could not possibly discover without it. 

2. If positive duties are founded in as good reasons 
as moral duties, then no universal rule can be given to 
determine which ought to give way to the other, when 
they come in competition. It seems to be a general 
opinion, that positive duties ought always to give way 
to moral, when the one or the other must be omitted. 
And those v^ho maintain this opinion, lay great weight 
upon what our Saviour said upon this point. It is 
true, he said some things, which seem to give the pref- 
erence to moral duties, and to intimate that they ought 
generally to be performed, when positive duties come 

SERINION XIV. John ii, 17. 251 

in competition. When the Pharisees blamed him for 
eating with publicans and sinners, he replied, '-Go ye 
and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and 
not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, 
but sinners to repentance." This seems to intimate, 
that he considered seeking the spiritual good of sinners 
as a moral duty, which ought to be performed in prefer- 
ence to a positive duty. He suggested the same idea in 
answer to the Pharisees on another occasion, when 
they complained of his disciples for plucking and eat- 
ino- ears of corn on the sabbath. He first mentioned 
the case of David in eating the shew bread, and then 
the conduct of the priests in labouring on the sabbath 
in performing their official duty, and finally justifies 
them all, by repeating the text, which he had once be- 
fore cited. "If ye had known what this meaneth, I 
will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have 
condemned the guiltless." He moreover blamed the 
Scribes and Phaiisees for paying tithe of mint, and 
anise, and cummin, and omitting the weightier matters 
of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. But why did 
Christ give this preference to moral duties? It could 
not be because they were founded in better reasons 
than positive duties, and on that account of higher ob- 
ligation. For we have shown, that positive duties are 
founded in as good reasons, and enjoined by as good 
authority, as moral duties. Christ knew, that the Jews 
paid more regard to positive rites and ceremonies and 
even human traditions, than to moral injunctions, and 
he meant to reprove them for their superstition and 
hypocrisy; but not to weaken their obligation to per- 
form positiv^e duties. Accordingly he adds, -'These 
(moral duties) ought ye to have done, and not to leave 
the other undone." Since then positive duties are as 
well founded and as expressly commanded as moral 
duties, they are absolutely equal in point of obligation 

252 SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 

and, therefore, the only proper way to determine which 
ought to give way to the other is, to determine which, 
at the present time, is of most necessity or importance 
to be done. When moral duties come in competition 
with each other, the more important must be done, 
and the less important deferred. Prayer is a moral 
duty; but a man ought to defer that duly, if his neigh- 
bour's house is on fire and requires his immediate at- 
tendance. The circumcising of a child on Iheeighth day 
was a positive duty under the law, and the necessity 
of the case required it to be done at that particular 
time, in preference to a moral duty. The truth is, 
sometimes one moral duty ought to give way to 
another moral duly; sometimes one positive duty 
ought to give way to another positive duty; sometimes 
one positive duty ought to give way to another moral 
duty; and sometimes one moral duty ought to give 
way to another positive duty. 1'his point cannot 
be determined by any universal rule, but must be left 
to the decision of every one's conscience, according to 
the circumstances of the present time. 

3. If christians ousiht to be zealous in maintaininsr 
the positive duties and institututions of the gospel; then 
all who have experienced a saving change are under 
indispensable obligations to profess religion and attend 
divine ordinances. There are many, in almost all our 
congregations, vi'ho think they have passed from death 
unto life and cordially embraced the Saviour, that live 
in the neglect of naming his name, and of attending 
the sacraments which he has appointed. Though they 
mean to perform every moral duty, and dare not neg- 
lect the reading and the licaiing of the word of God, 
nor the duty of calling upon his name; yet they im- 
agine they may safely and excusably live in neg- 
lect of baptism and the Lord's supper. But in this 

SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 253 

they are greatly deceived. Christ requires them not 
only to believe his gospel, but to profess his name be- 
fore the world. "Whosoever shall confess me before 
men, him will I confess also before my Father which 
is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before 
men, him will I also deny before my Father which is 
in heaven." Again he says, ''lie that believeth and is 
baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall 
be damned." It is extremely difficult to see how any, 
who allowedly live in the neglect of professing religion, 
and of observing the ordinances of baptism and the 
Lord's supper, can justly entertain a hope of salvation, 
any more than those, who live in the neglect of faith, 
repentance, or prayer. It is true, the mere professing 
of religion, and the attending upon the sacraments are 
mere positive duties; but they are founded in reason 
and commanded by divine authority, which gives them 
all the weight and obligation of moral duties. And it 
is presumed, that none have a right to think or say, that 
men are more excusable for neglecting positive duties, 
than those vvhich are strictly moral. No doubt riien 
may be saved, though they should neglect, for a while, 
some moral duties, and so they undoubtedly may, 
though they should neglect for a while, some positive 
duties; but still they would be highly criminal for their 
neglect in either, or both cases. And their criminality 
would certainly weaken, if not destroy their hopes of 
pardon and acceptance in the sight of God. This 
ought to alarm all those who are dreaming, that they 
are the friends of Clirist and walking in the path to 
heaven, while they are afraid or ashamed to do what- 
soever he has commanded them. 

4. If christians should be zealous to maintain the 
purity of divine institutions; then they should be very 
strict and faithful in admitting none into thei^: holy 

254 SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 

fellowship, but such as appear, in a judgment of char- 
ity, to be sincere friends to Christ. None but such are 
tru.y worthy to come to the table of the Lord, and 
commemorate his dying love. He does not allow any 
to come to his holy supper, who are not clothed with 
the wedding garmciit, or possessed of saving grace. 
And though christians cannot look into the hearts of 
proponents to communion; yet they can and ought to 
judge of their piety by their fruits. Christ has drawn 
the characters of his true disciples, and they should ad- 
mit none to unite with them in hia holy ordinances, 
who are destitute of those visible signs of saving grace. 
It is their indispensable duty to require a credible pro- 
fession of real holiness of those, whom they admit as 
members of their body. They have no right to lower 
the terms of communion, in condescension to any who 
may desire to come unprepared. And a proper zeal 
for the honour of Christ, and for the peace and purity 
of the church, will constrain them to be strict in ex- 
amining the characters and qualifications of those 
whom they receive to communion. This is the first 
and most effectual method they can take to promote 
the purity, and prevent the corruption of the church. 
It is much easier to keep corrupt persons out of the 
church, than to pi'event their doing mischief after they 
are once in it. "A little leaven, says the Apostle in 
this case, will leaven the whole lump." It is while 
men sleep, that the enemy sows tares. It is while 
christians gi'ow careless and unfaithful, that bad men 
creep into the church, and corrupt it. Every minister 
and private brother, therefore, ought to exercise a pecu- 
liar zeal. fiJelity, and vigilance, in admitting members 
into the church, in order to maintain, if possible, all the 
doctrines, duties, and institutions of the gospel pure 
anu uncorrupt. 

SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 255 

5. If christians ought to be zealous in maintaining 
the purity of divine institutions; then they are respon- 
sible for the errors and corruptions, which spring up 
and prevail in the churches to which they belong. It is 
generally owing to some fault in them, that unworthy 
members gain admission into the church; and it must 
always be their fault, if they do not either reclaim or 
exclude them, after they become visibly erroneous or 
corrupt. Christ has clearly pointed out their duty in 
respect to preserving the purity of his sacred institu- 
tions; and if they neglect to perform it, they stand just- 
ly responsible for the evil consequences of their neglect. 
How severely did the apostle repi'ove the church of 
Corinth for neglecting to discipline the incestuous per- 
son? And how much more sharply did Christ rebuke 
the seven churches of Asia for their unfaithfulness to- 
wards the erroneous and corrupt members, who w^re 
bringing reproach and ruin upon them? Christ still 
walks in the midst of his golden candlesticks, and ob- 
serves the conduct of his churches. They will have a 
solemn account to give, if they suffer religion to lan- 
guish in their hands, and the table of the Lord to be- 
come contemptible, by their negligence and unfaithful- 
ness. It highly concerns all the professors of religion 
at the present day of deep declension, to become more 
watchful, and to strengthen the things which remain 
that are ready to die. 

6. If christians ought to be zealous in maintaining 
the purity of divine institutions, then it is a mark oi 
real sincerity in those, who actually manifest such a 
zeal. It is found by observation and experience, that 
few, if any, who are strict and conscientious in the ex- 
ercise of church discipline, escape the displeasure and 
reproach of not only those whom they censure, but 
even of all who are inwardly enemies to the cause, of 

256 SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 

Christ. These persons are ready to put the worst con- 
struction upon the views and conduct of faithful chris- 
tians, who are active and zealous, in watching over, re- 
proving, and censuring the erroneous, corrupt, or disor- 
derly. They will, if they can, make themselves and 
others believe, that this is a false zeal, which ought to 
be hated and condemned. But the sincere friends of 
Chiist, who express their zeal for his glory and the 
purity of his sacred ordinances, deserve universal ap- 
probation and esteem, instead of reproach and con- 
tempt. A zeal according to knowledge in the exercise 
of church discipline is one of the most rare and amia- 
ble traits in the christian character. It is a signal ex- 
pression of true self-denial, to take up the cross, and 
suffer reproach for the cause of Christ, and for the 
saving benefit of those, who are wandering in the paths 
of fatal error and delusion. Christians never act more 
in character, and give better evidence of the sincerity 
of their hearts, than while they are displaying a fervent 
zeal to purge out errors and corruptions from the 
church of Christ. 

7. If christians should be zealous in maintaining 
gospel discipline; then those who are the subjects of 
it, ought to be unfeignedly thankful to their brethren 
for their labour of love. It is in them an expression 
of pure self-denial to pursue the steps which Christ has 
appointed to reclaim offenders, who are ijijuriiig them- 
selves, their best friends, and the cause \Vhich they 
have solemnly engaged to promote. And if they are 
true penitents, they will hear the friendly admonition 
of their brethren, confess their offences, and Heal, as far 
as possible, the wounds which they have given to 
Christ in the house of his friends. Instead of com- 
plaining of the zeal and fidelity of their fellow chris- 
tians, they will return them their grateful acknowledg- 

SERMON XIV. John ii, 17. 257 

iTients for their benevolent exertions to save them from 
the path of the destroyer. This will give the most sat- 
isfaction to their own minds, and be the best method 
they can take to regain the charity and confidence of 
the church, who will rejoice to see the happy issue of 
their fidelity and zeal. But if they are obstinate and 
incorrigible under the mild means of gospel discipline, 
they will throw themselves into the power of the great 
adversary of souls, and take the direct course to ruin 
themselves forever. 

To conclude; let the professors of religion be urged 
to fulfil the important trusts reposed in them. Christ 
has given them the charge of his word, of his or- 
dinances, and of the discipline of his liouse. He 
still walks in the midst of his golden candlesticks, and 
keeps his eye fixed upon his professed friends, to see 
whether they are faithiul to him, to themselves, and to 
one another. He has given them power and oppor- 
tunity of doing much for him, and bound them not 
only by his authority, but by his love, to be faithful 
and zealous in his cause. They have put their hand 
to the plough, and must never look back. It wall be 
highly displeasing to Christ, and extremely injurious to 
the souls of men, if they sulYer corruptions in doctrine, 
and practice to prevail, and let Christianity languish 
and die in their hands. But if they are constant, faith- 
ful, and zealous in promoting piety, and maintaining 
the purity of divine ordinances, they will meet the 
final approbation of Christ, and a glorious recompense 
of reward. Amen. 



Luke vi. 32, 

For if ye love them which love you, what thank have 
ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 

WHEN Christ first appeared in his publick character 
he displayed so much kindness, compassion, and be- 
nevolence m healing the sick, relieving the distressed, 
and preaching the gospel to the poor, that he was al- 
most universally beloved as vi'ell as admired. The 
high and low, the learned and unlearned, the teach- 
ers and those that were taught, flocked after him, to 
hear his doctrines, and to see and experience his mira- 
cles. He appeared to be what it was foretold that he 
should be, "the desire of all nations." At least, the 
Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees, though disunit- 
ed among themselves, agreed to admire and to follow 
the long expected Messiah. And to any one, less 
acquainted with the human heart than Christ was, they 
would have appeared to be his real friends. But he 
knew what was in man, and was never deceived by 
any false appearances of love and esteem. As he per- 
fectly knew the characters of all who followed him, so 
in his addresses to the mixed multitudes, he directed 
his discourses to the hearts and consciences of both 
the sincere and insincere. And as he had occasion, 
while his real enemies wore the mask of love, to point 
out the distinction bct^\een true love and false, so he 
dwelt much upon this subject in both his publick and 

SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 259 

private discourses. An instance of this we have in the 
context, where we find a description of his followers, 
and a summary of his discourse, which he delivered to 
them. ''He came down and stood in the plain; and 
the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of 
people out of all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the 
sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, 
and to be healed of their diseases; and that were vex- 
ed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And 
the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there 
went virtue out of him, and healed them all. And he 
lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed 
be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed 
are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed 
are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed 
are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall 
separate you from their company, and shall reproach 
you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of 
man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for 
joy: for behold your reward is great in heaven." he 
now turns from his disciples to the multitude, and says, 
"But wo unto you that are rich! for ye have received 
your consolation. Wo unto you that are full! for ye 
shall hunger. Wo unto you that laugh now! for ye 
shall mourn and weep. Wo unto you when all men 
shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the 
false prophets. But I say unto you that hear, Love 
your enemies, do good to them that hate you. Bless 
them that curse you, and pray for them that despiteful- 
ly use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the 
cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away 
thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to 
every one that asketh of thee, and of him that taketh 
away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye 
would that men should do to you, do ye to them like- 

aaO SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 

wise. For if ye love them tchich love you, tchat thank 
have ye? for shiners also love those that love themP 
What could have been more pertinent than this dis- 
course to the multitudes, who united with his disciples 
in following him, and who practically expressed so 
much regard for him? It was suited to make them all 
see and feel that essential distinction, which there is 
between true love and false, and between saints and 
sinners. He first describes that pure, disinterested 
love, which forms the character of saints, and then 
contrasts it with that selfishness, which forms the 
character of dinners; and finally appeals to sinners 
themselves, whether they deserve the character of 
saints, while they love only those that love them. 
There is now, perhaps, as much need as ever there 
was, to set this subject in a just and intelligible light. 
And in order to this, it is proposed to consider why 
sinners love themselves; why they love others; and 
why there is no moral goodness in their loving them- 
selves and others. 

1. Let us consider why sinners love themselves. It 
is plainly supposed in the text, that sinners love them- 
selves, for they are said to love those that love them , 
which could not be accounted for, if they were wholly 
destitute of love to themselves. In other passages of 
scripture, they are said to be lovers of their ownselves, 
and to seek their own things, and not the things of 
others. But this is too evident from experience and 
observation to need any proof. Sinners certainly 
love themselves. But why? Not for the same reason 
that saints love themselves: if they did, they would be 
saints. Nor do they love themselves from mere in- 
stinct, as the lower species of animals do. But they 
love themselves because they are themselves, which is 
neither true love, nor a mere animal affection, but 

SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 261 

proper selfishness. Pleasant and painful sensations are 
common to saints and sinners, and to all sensitive na- 
tures, and have no moral quality belonging to them. 
Every creature, perhaps whether rational or irrational, 
takes pleasure in receiving its proper food; but this 
love to its food is not love to itself, or selfishness. 
The saint and the sinner may equally love honey, be- 
cause it is agi'eeable to the taste; but this love to honey 
is neither interested, nor disinterested love, and of 
course is neither virtuous nor vicious. Men never 
love any particular food from a moral motive, but 
from the constitution of their nature, in which they 
are passive, and have no active concern. The case is 
different in loving themselves. In this they properly 
act, and act from a moral motive. Sinners love them- 
selves not because they are a part of the mtellectual 
system, nor because the general good requires them to 
regard their personal happiness, but because they are 
themselves. They love their own interest because it 
is their own, in distinction from the interest of all other 
created, or uncreated beings. This is a free, volunta- 
ry exercise, which is contrary to their reason and con- 
science, and which they know to be in its own nature 
wrong. Their interest is really no more valuable for 
being theirs, than if it belonged to others; and they 
themselves areno more valuable, than other creatures 
of the same character and capacity. To love them- 
selves, therefore, because they are themselves, is to 
love themselves from a motive peculiar to selfish crea- 

II. We are to consider why sinners love others. 
Our Saviour said to his disciples, that if they were of 
the world, the world would love them. And he said 
in the text, that sinners love those that love them. 
Though the loye of sinners alwaj^s centres in tlicm- 

262 SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 

selves, yet it may extend to others, and take in a large 
circle of mankind, and even God himself. Sinners 
loved Christ, and cried hosannah, blessed is he that 
Cometh in the name of the Lord. The whole people 
of Israel loved the God of Moses, when he carried 
them through the red sea, delivered them from the 
hand of Pharaoh, and gaV'C them manna from heav- 
en. But the question before us is, Why do such self- 
ish creatures love others? The answer is easy. It is 
because they have received, or expect to receive benefit 
from them. This is the reason our Lord assigns. "If 
ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? 
for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye 
do good to them which do good to you, what thank 
have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye 
lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank 
have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as 
much again." For the same reason that sinners love 
themselves, they naturally love those that love them, 
and are disposed to do them good. As they love 
their own interest, because it is their own, so they love 
every person or object, which serves to increase or pre- 
serve their own interest. They do not value and love 
others, because they are valuable and worthy to be 
loved; but merely because they view them as means 
or instruments of securing or advancing their own 
personal happiness. They value their fellow men, for 
the same reason that they value their own houses and 
lands, flocks and herds. They love these, not on their 
own account, but because they serve their selfish pur- 
poses. So they love their fellow men, not on their 
own account, but because they deem them some way 
or other subservient to their private, separate interest. 
III. It remains to inquire, why there is no moral 
goodness in the love, which sinners exercise towards 

SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 263 

themselves and others. Christ supposes, that they all 
know the nature of their love, and that there is noth- 
ing virtuous or praise-worthy in it. "If ye love them 
which love you, what thank have ye? If ye do good to 
them that do good to you, what thank have ye? And 
if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive as much 
again; what thank have ye?" Is there any thing truly 
virtuous and amiable, in men's loving themselves, or in 
loving others, from mere selfish, mercenary motives? All 
men in the world know, that there is no moral good- 
ness in such selfish allections; and they are always un- 
willing to acknowledge that they are actuated by mer- 
cenary motives. Who is willing to allow, that he 
loves himself merely because he is himself? Or that he 
loves others merely because they love him? Or that he 
never does good to others, only w^hen he thinks it will 
be for his private advantage? Who in publick life is 
willing to avow, that he is not seeking the publkk 
good, but only his private interest? Who is willing to 
own, that he has ever given or taken a bribe? Who is 
willing to be seen in doing any act of selfishness? Who 
ever thanked another for doing him a benefit, only for 
the sake of gaining a much greater benefit? We nev- 
er thank men for loving themselves, nor for loving us 
merely for their own sake. It is the unanimous sen- 
timent of mankind, that there is no virtue in that love, 
which flows entirely fr-om mercenary motives. But 
why? This is the point now to be illustrated. Here 
then I would observe, 

1. That there is no moral goodness in the love which 
»nners feel and express, because it is not a conformity 
to that love, which God feels and expresses. He is 
good unto all, and his tender mercies are over all his 
works. He seeks not only liis own glory, but the real 
good of others. Christ, therefore, sets him up as the 

26-i SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 

standard of perfection, and commands them to coil^ 
form to him, who loves those that hate him, and does 
good to his most inveterate enemies, "But love your 
enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing 
again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be 
the children of the highest: for he is kind unto the 
unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, 
as your Father also is merciful." There is ho conform- 
ity in the love of sinners to the love of God. His love 
is virtuous and excellent, because it terminates upon 
all proper objects; but there is no moral beauty or ex- 
cellence in their love, because it wholly terminates 
upon an improper object, that is, their own selfish in- 
terest. God does not love them exclusively, and mere- 
ly because they are themselves, but because he regards 
the good of every creature according to its worth. 
This is a holy and disinterested love; but when sin- 
ners love themselves, because they are themselves, and 
l<)ve others, because they are beneficial to them, there 
is no moral virtue or excellence in it. It bears no 
conformity to the-love of God, which is the standard 
of all moral perfection. 

2. The selfish love of sinners has no moral good- 
ness in it, because it is no obedience to the divine law. 
This law requires them to love God with ail the heart, 
and to love their fellow men as themselves. But 
when they love themselves because they are them- 
selves, and love others only because they have receiv- 
ed, or expect to receive benefit from them, do they 
obey the divine law? Do they feel towards God, as 
they would that he should feel towards them? Or do 
they feel towards others, as they would that others 
should feel towards them? Does their selfish aftection 
in the least degree anwer the demands of that law, 
which requires pure, disinterested love? It is morally 

SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 265 

impossible for sinners to love God supremely, and 
their fellow men impartially, from a selfish heart: Let 
their love to God or man rise ever so high, it can have 
no moral goodness in it, because it is no obedience to 
the divine law, which requires nothing but pure, holy, 
disinterested love. 

3. There is no moral goodness in the selfishness of 
sinners, beeause it is tlie very essence of all moral evil. 
All the wickedness of Satan consists in his selfishness. 
He loves himself because he is himself, and loves only 
those who love him, because their love serves to pro- 
mote what he considers as his cause and interest. He 
desires to bring God and all his intelligent creatures 
into subjection to himself, and of course hates, and op- 
poses, and endeavours to destroy ail who stand in his 
way, and obstruct his malignant designs. He knows 
by his own feelings, that selfishness will hate God and 
oppose all good. Accordingly, when he accused Job 
of selfishness, he said that he would rise in enmity 
against God, and blaspheme his name, if he should on- 
ly touch his selfish interest. "And Sataa jvnswered 
the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 
Hast thou not made an hedge about him, and about 
his house, and about all he hath on every side? thou 
hast blessed the works of his hands, and his substance 
is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand 
now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse 
thee to thy face." Had Job been totally selfish, Satan's 
prediction would have been fulfilled, and he would 
have hated, and if he dared, would have blasphemed 
God, when he stripped him of all that he had given 
him. Our Saviour represented selfishness in the same 
light. He told such as followed him from mercenary 
motives, "I know you, that ye have not the love of 

God in you." And he told certain persons who had 

^66 SERMON XV. Luke vi, 3^. 

professed to love him, and believe in him, "Ye arc 
of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father 
ye will do." And the apostle Paul in his epistle to 
Timothy represents selfishr.ess in the most odious light. 
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times 
shall come. For men shall be lovers of ilieir own- 
selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobe- 
dient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without nat- 
ural affection, truce-breakers, false-accusers, inconti- 
nent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, 
high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of 
God." There is no evil affection, and no evil conduct 
but what selfishness will, under certain circumstances, 
produce. It is the directly opposite affection to true 
benevolence, and theiet'ore the loot of all moral evil. 
It is the. carnal mmd. which is enmity against God, 
and not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. It 
seeks a personal interest, which is diametrically oppo- 
site to the glory of God, and the general interest of his 
kingdom. It opposes the good of sinners themselves, 
and makes them, as' the apostle says, "hateful, and 
hating one another." It tends to spread misery and 
destruction through the universe. It makes creatures 
as bad as they can be, and would destroy them all, 
were it not for the power and wisdom and goodness 
of God, which are employed in restraining, directing, 
and overruling its pernicious influence. Though 
sinners may love those which love them, and do good 
to those that do good to them, yet the nature of their 
feelings and conduct is stiil the same. Their apparent 
goodness is the essence of moral evil. Their partial 
iove is general malevolence, and their best deeds are 
an abomination to the Lord. All their affections and 
exertions terminate in themselves, whom they value 
and regard more than all other beings put together. 

SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 267 

and whose interest they would sacrifice to promote 
their own. And can there be any thing virtuous, or 
amiable, or praise worthy in such a totally selfish love, 
which is disconformity to God, disobedience to his law, 
and, in its nature and tendency, destructive of all the 
good of his holy kingdom? 


1. If sinners may love themselves and others from 
mere sellish motives; then it is easy to account for all 
their kind and friendly conduct towards their fellow 
creatures, consistently with their total depravity. Their 
selfishness naturally prompts them to do any thing, 
which they think will turn to their own personal ad- 
vantage. To gain friends, they will show themselves 
friendly. To gain the love, esteem, and confidence of 
others, they will do acts of kindness, compassion, and 
even liberality. And the most depraved and selfish 
creature in the universe would do the sauie thiny^s, to 
obtain the same selfish ends. Satan always acts from 
this motive, when he transforms himself into an an- 
gel of light, and appears to seek the good of others. 
When he tempted our first parents, he professed to be 
more concerned to promote their knowledge and hap- 
piness, than even their Creator. When he tempted 
Christ to turn stones into bread, and commit himself 
to the divine care and protection, he appeared like a 
kind and friendly angel. And we have reason to be- 
lieve, that he loves his infernal subjects who love him, 
and are heartily engaged to promote his cause and in- 
terest in this world; otherwise, as our Saviour says, 
his kingdom could not stand. But such things are no 
evidence against his total depravity, and therefore they 
are no evidence against the total depravity of sinners. 
Indeed, there is nothing can be said against their total 

268 SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 

depravity, but what may be said, with equal plausi- 
bility against his total depravity. If it be said, that 
they love themselves; so does he. If it be said, that 
they love those that love them; so does he. If it be 
said, that they are kind and friendly to those that pro- 
mote their interest; so is he. If it be said, that they 
do, in their conscience, approve of what is holy, just, 
and good in others; so does he. He approved of the 
holiness of Christ, when he called him, "the Holy One 
of God." If it be said, that they do, in their conscience, 
disapprove of what is selfish and sinful in others; so 
does he. He represented Job as selfish, and con- 
demned him as wicked. If Satan were placed in the 
same situation in which sinners are now placed, he 
would appear as good as they: Or if they were placed 
in the same situation in which he is now placed, they 
would appear as bad as he. There is no more diffi- 
culty, therefore, in accounting for the conduct of sin- 
ners, consistently with their total depravity, than in 
accountteg for the conduct of the devil, consistently 
with his total depravity. Total selfishness in Satan 
and in sinners will satisfactorily account for the good 
as well as bad appearances in both. 

2. If the moral depravity of sinners consists in self- 
ishness; then the moral depravity of Adam consisted in 
selfishness, and not in the mere want of holiness. Sup- 
posmg he had lost his holiness at the moment he was 
tetnpted to eat of the forbidden fruit, yet his loss of 
holiness could not have rendered him morally deprav- 
ed. Ail his natural powers,- instincts, and appetites 
must have remained as innocent, after he lost his ho- 
liness, as before he lost it. There was no possibility of 
his becoming morally depraved, without a free, volun- 
tary exercise of belfishness. And it appears from the 
account given of his first offence, that it essentially ccn- 

SERMON XV. Luke vi. 32. 269 

sisted in loving himself supremely. He voluntarily 
partook of the forbidden fruit, from the motive of in- 
creasing his own knowledge and happiness, in opposi- 
tion to the glory of God and the good of all his pos- 
terity. This was freely and voluntarily turning from 
benevolence to selfishness, which is the essence of 
moral depravity. He became morally depraved in 
the same manner, that Satan the first sinner in the 
universe became depraved. Satan had no corporeal 
instincts or appetites to tempt him to rebel against his 
Maker. He loved his own glory more than the glory 
of God, and aspired to become independent aiid su- 
preme, which was the essence of selfishness, or moral 
depravity. The prevailing notion, that Adam became 
morally depraved, by the mere want of holiness, is re- 
pugnant to the very nature of moral depravity, and to 
every dictate of reason and scripture. 

3. If sinners love themselves, because they are them- 
selves, and love others, only because they suppose them 
to be subservient to their interest; then their affections 
are always selfish and sinful, let them rise ever so high, 
or extend ever so far. They often do love those who 
love them very ardently. But they never love such 
persons so ardently as they love themselves. For all 
their love to others flows from love to themselves, and 
the streams cannot rise so high as the fountain. Hence 
their most ardent and raised affections to others are as 
really selfish and sinful, as if they were ever so low 
and languid. Their nature is precisely the same, 
whether they are stronger or weaker. It is morally 
impossible, that their love to their friends, or to their 
Creator should rise so high, as to become disinterested 
or virtuous love. And as their affections do not be- 
come any better, by rising ever so high; so they do not 
become any better by extending ever so far. The 

270 SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 

same mercenary motives, which induce them to love 
their intimate friends, may induce them to extend their 
regards to their country, and to their Saviour. Many 
sinners undoubtedly love their country, because the 
prosperity of their country tends to promote their 
prosperity; and some sinners love their Redeemer, be- 
cause they think he loves them. Multitudes followed 
Christ for the sake of the loaves and the fishes, and 
loved him because they thought he loved them, and 
would promote both their temporal and eternal good. 
But in all these cases, the love of sinners is perfectly 
selfish and sinful. It is exactly of the same nature as 
the love of the miser to his money. Could sinners 
have a clear and extensive view of all created and un- 
created objects, and did they love them all for the sake 
of their own pnvate, personal benefit, their selfish love, 
instead of becoming any better, would become un- 
speakably worse For the guilt of their selfishness 
would be in exact proportion to the extent of their 
knowledi>,c. If it be criminal for one person to prefer 
his interest ta a greater interest of another; it must be 
more criminal to prefer his interest to the greater in- 
terest of a nation, and for the same reason, it must be 
unspeakably more criminal still, to prefer his interest 
to the whole interest of the universe. The consequence 
irresistibly follows, that the higher the love of sinners 
rises, and the further it extends, the more criminal it 

4. If sinners are constantly under the governing in- 
fluence of selfishness; then they must experience an es- 
sential change in their affections in order to be saved. 
If they naturally possessed the least degree of disinter- 
ested love or true holiness, there would be no need of 
a radical and essential change in th^ir moral exercises. 
They might love God, and repent of sin, and believe 

SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. ^71 

in Christ, without becoming new creatures. Their 
carnal mind, which is perfect selfishness, cannot be 
new modified or moulded into benevolence, b^ any 
exterior means or motives. Though under some cir- 
cumstances, they may hate the world, which they once 
loved, and love God, whom they once hated, without 
a change of heart; yet their love and hatred will arise 
from the same mercenary motives, which are entirely 
sinful. Sinners are continually turnii^g their attention 
and their affections from one object to another; but 
their love and their hatred continue to be of the same 
selfish nature. The careless sinner fixes his whole at- 
tention and affection upon the world; but when he is 
awakened from his stupidity, he turns his whole atten- 
tion from the world to God, whom he hates for the 
same reason, that he before loved the world. What- 
ever sinners love and hate, they love and hate from 
selfish motives; and consequently no change of objects, 
motives, or circumstances, has the least tendency to 
change the nature of their affections. So that nothing 
short of a divine influence upon their hearts, can turn 
them from selfishness to benevolence, or from sin to 
holiness, without which they cannot see the kingdom 
of God. 

5. If sinners love themselves because they are them- 
selves, which is selfish and sinful; then after they ex- 
perience a saving change from selfishness to benevo- 
lence, they love themselves in a manner totally differ- 
ent from what they did before. They love themselves 
in the same manner that God loves them. He loves 
them impartially, according to their characters and 
capacities. And they love themselves impartially, ac- 
cording to tht^ir characters and capacities. He values 
their interest no more, nor less tlian it is worth. And 
they value their own interest no more, nor less than it 

372 SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 

is worth. Moses valued his interest less than the in- 
terest of all the Israelites. Paul valued his salvation 
less than the salvation of his whole nation Moses 
and Paul loved themselves as disinterestedly, as they 
loved their fellow men. Many have imagined, that it 
is impossible for men to love themselves from any 
other motives, than selfish motives; and of consequence, 
that it is impossible for them to love others better than 
themselves. But this is a false and dangerous opinion. 
Just so far as men become holy or benevolent, they 
cease to love themselves selfishly; and so far as 
they cease to love themselves selfishly, they love their 
fellow men impartially; and so far as they love them 
impartially, they will not fail to love some more, as 
well as less, than themselves. Good men have no right 
to be selfish in the least degree; but they have a right 
to value their own temporal and eternal interest, ac- 
cording to its worth, and no more. And their good- 
ness always leads them to form this just opinion, and 
to exercise this impartial affection, in respect to them- 
selves. It is true, indeed, that when sinners become 
saints, they do not become perfectly holy and free 
from selfishness; but as soon as they shall arrive at the 
state of moral perfection, there will not remain the 
least tincture of selfishness in their hearts. 

Finally, it appears from this discourse, that it is 
highly necessary to explain and inculcate the total 
selfishness of sinners. They never will believe, that 
they are totally depraved, until they see wherein total 
depravity consists. They are very apt to think, that 
their intellectual powers are as good as those of other 
men, and that they sometimes, at least, employ them 
in as amiable and virtuous a manner. This leads them 
to disbelieve and deny the doctrine of total depravit}'. 
But let them be taught, that total depravity consists in 

SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 

total selfishness, which is a free and Voluntary exercise, 
that belongs to the heart and not to the understanding, 
and they can no longer disbelieve, or deny that they 
are totally depraved. For they must know from their 
own exfx^rience, that selfishness has reigned in their 
hearts, and constantly led them to regard their own 
good, more than the good of others, or the glory of 
God. And as soon as they are convinced of the total 
selfishness of their hearts, they will be equally convinc' 
ed of their total depravity. This shows the importance 
of explaining and inculcating the entire selfishness of 
sinners. There is no other truth so directly calculated 
to fasten conviction on their conscience, and to throw 
them into the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. 
As soon as they come to realize, that they have al- 
ways acted from mean, mercenary motives, in all they 
have done for God, for themselves, and for others, 
their former goodness, and their former hopes built 
upon it, entirely vanish, and they see no ground of 
dependence, but only the undeserved and unpromised 
mercy of God. This was the case of Paul under a 
realizing sense of his total selfishness. When the di- 
vine law was brought home to his conscience, his siiis 
revived and the ground of his hope gave way. For he 
realized, that he had always been governed by mere 
selfish motives in all his conduct, which was expressly 
forbidden, by the precept, 'Thou shalt not covet;" that 
is, "thou shalt not feel, nor express the least deoree of 
selfishness." It is in vain to preach about total deprav* 
ity, without explaining it; for nothing will convince 
sinners, that they are totally depraved, until they are 
made to see and feel the total selfishness of theii hearts. 
This Christ knew, and therefore, not only taught total 
depravity, but made it appear to be total selfishness, 
It is not the name, but the thing signified by tota-l 

274 SERMON XV. Luke vi, 32. 

depravity, that will carry conviction to stupid, self- 
righteous, and self deceived sinners. Upon this subject, 
it is impossible to be too plain and explicit. It is ne- 
cessary, to teach sinnei's the nature and criminality of 
selfishness, not only to convince them of their guilt 
and danger, but also to convince them of their imme- 
diate and indispensable ohligniion to perform every 
duty, which God has required them to perform. As 
soon as they see and feel, that they are totally splfish, 
they cannot help seeing and feeling, that they have no 
excuse for the neglect of duty, but are under innne- 
diate and indispensable obligations, "to turn from all 
their transgressions; to make them a new heart and a 
new spirit; to repent and believe the gospel; and to 
walk in newness of life." When they clearly see and 
sensibly feel, that all their depravity and criminality 
consists in their free and voluntary exercises of selfish- 
ness, they can no longer plead it as an excuse for im- 
penitence and unbelief, because they know, that it de- 
pends upon their own choice, whether they shall love, 
or hate God; whether they shall continue in, or cease 
from sin; whether they shall accept, or reject the offers 
of mercy; and whether they shall be saved, or lost. 
They feel the whole authority of the law and of the 
gospel, binding them to turn and live, while they real- 
ize, that their depravity is not their calamity, but their 
ouilt. And when the preachers of the gospel have 
thus shown sinners the plague of their own hearts, they 
may with propriety and force address them in the 
language of the apostles, 'Now then we are ambassa- 
dors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: 
we pray you in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled te 



Galatians V, 6. 
But faith which worketh by love. 

Paul was surprized that the churches of Galatia, 
which he had been instrumental in planting, should 
so soon be led into great and dangerous errours, by 
false teachers. ''I marvel, says he, that ye are so soon 
removed from him that called you into the giace of 
Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but 
there be some that trouble you, and would pervert vhe 
gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from 
heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that 
which we have preached unto you, let him be accurs- 
ed." The apostle had taught these christians, that 
Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, and that his 
atonement is the only foundation of pardon and ac- 
ceptance in the sight of God. But the false teachers 
denied the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and 
taught the doctrine of justification by the deeds of the 
law. This he represents as a fatal errour. *'For, says 
he, if there had been a law given which could have 
given life, verily righteousness should have been by the 
law." And he goes on to say, "^I testify to every man 
that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole 
law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whoso- 
ever of you are justified by the law: ye are fallen from 
grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope 
of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither 
circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; 

3^6 SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 

hut faith which worketh by love.^^ The Judaizing 
teachers were ignorant of the nature and necessity ot" 
regeneration in order to those gracious exercises, which 
are connected with justification and eternal lite; and 
it was owing to their ignorance of this saving change, 
that they maintained the doctrine of justification by 
the deeds of the law. The apostle, therefoixj, strikes at 
the root of their fatal errours by saying, that sinners 
are justified by that faith in Christ, which works by 
love. But it has long been a question, whether the 
apostle means, by this mode of expression, to assert that 
faith flows from love, or that love flows from faith. 
This is a very important question, because a just solu- 
tion of it will directly tend to distinguish all true re- 
ligion from false. 

All evangelical writers and preachers maintain, that 
none can be real christians, without exercising faith, 
repentance, and love; but they differ widely in respect 
to the proper Order of these gracious affections. Some 
place faith before love and repentance; and some place 
love before repentance and faith. Though all true 
christians do actually experience these gracious exer- 
cises; yet very few are able to determine from their 
own experience, the Order in which they take place 
in a sound conversion. This we must learn chiefly 
from Scripture, and the nature of these holy affections. 
And that we may discover the truth upon this interest- 
ing subject, it is proposed in the present discourse, to 
consider two things. One is, the Order in which gra- 
cious exercises take place in a renewed sinner; and the 
other is, the importance of representing such gracious 
exercises in their proper Order. 

1. Let us consider the order in which holy exercises 

take place in a renewed sinner. The Spirit of God in 

Renewing, sanctifying, 0/ converting a sinner, does not 

SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 277 

give him any new natural power, faculty, or principle 
of action; but only gives him new affections or ex- 
ercises of heart It is true, indeed, the Holy Spirit 
commonly awakens and convinces a sinner, before he 
converts him. He makes him sec his danger, and feel 
his desert of eternal destruction, before he reconciles 
him to God, or turns him from sin to holiness. But 
as both sin and holiness consist in free, voluntary ex 
ercises; so the divine Spirit in converting a sinner only 
turns him from sinful to holy exercises. 

Having premised this, I proceed to consider the or- 
der, in which he produces the first gracious affections 
If love be distinct from repentance, and lepertarce 
distinct from faith, which cannot be reasonably denied; 
then one of these affections must be exercised before 
another in a certain order. They cannot all be exer- 
cised together. The question now is, which is the 
first, second, and third in order. And here it is easy 
to see, that love must be before either repentance, or 
faith. Pure, holy, disinterested love, which is diamet- 
rically opposite to all selfishness, is the essence of all 
true holiness; and, of consequence, there can be no 
holy affection prior to the love of God beirg shed 
abroad in the heart. 

A sinner must exercise love to God, before he can 
exercise repentance of sin, which is a tiansgrcssicr. cf 
his law. Though while he hates God, he may be 
sorry that he has provoked his displeasure; yet he can- 
not be sincerely sorry, that he has disobeyed and dis- 
honoured a B:Mng whom he hates. True repentance 
consists in that self-loathing and self-abasement for sin, 
which arises from a clear view of the glory and excel- 
lence of the divine character. Hence says Job to God, 
"1 have heard of thee, by the hearing of the ear: but 
now mine eye secth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, 

278 SERMON XV^. Gal. v, 6. 

and repent in dust and ashes." No sinner, while in a 
state of enmity and opposition to God, can exercise 
such genuine repentance. This can flow from no other 
source, thd-n supreme love to the supreme excellence of 
the Deity. Love, therefore,in the very nature of things, 
must be prior to repentance. The renewed sinner al- 
ways loves God, befot e he repents of sinning against 
him. The holy Spirit, in the first instance, turns the 
heart of the sinner from hatred to love. Love is al- 
ways the very first exercise of a renew^ed sinner We 
cannot conceive it to be possible, that he should exer- 
cise either repentance, or faith, before he loves God 
whom he had hated. The fruit of the Spirit, yea, the 
first fruit of the Spirit, is that pure, holy, disinterested 
love, which is the fulfilling of the law. 

The next fi-uit of the Spirit is repentance. As soon 
as the renewed sinner loves God supremely, he must 
loath and abhor himself for hating, opposing, and dis- 
honouring such a holy and amiable Being. True re- 
pentance naturally and almost indtantaneously follows 
true love to God. The renewed heart is tender and 
teachable, and leads the subject of it, to exercise godly 
sorrow and genuine repentance for all his past ingrati- 
tude, impenitence, and obstinacy. So God represents 
the true convert. ''I have surely heard Ephraim be- 
moaning himself thus: Thou hast chastised me, and I 
was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: 
turn thou me, and 1 shall be turned; for thou art the 
Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I re- 
pented; and after tliat I was instructed, I smote upon 
my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, be- 
cause 1 did bear the reproach of my youth." The 
sinner no sooner loves God, than he justifies him, and 
condemns himself. Like the penitent publican, he 
freely acknowledges himself to be a sinner, and accepts 

SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 279 

the punishment of his sins. The malefactor on the 
cross no sooner loved the suffering Saviour, than he 
repented of his sins, and accepted the punishment of 
them. Paul no sooner exercised true love to God, 
than he repented of his sins, and sincerely acknowl- 
edged the justice of the law. which condemned him to 
die. *'For, says he, I was alive once without the law; 
but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I 
died And the commandment, which was ordained 
to life. I found to be unto death. Wherefore the law 
is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and 
good." As soon as the holy Spirit reconciles the sin- 
ner to God, he naturally loaths and condemns himself, 
as God loaths and condemns him, for his sins. He 
does not stand to inquire, whether God loves him and 
intends to save him, before he repents; for he feels bvith 
bound and disposed to repent, though God should cast 
him off forever. As it is morally impossible for the 
sinner to repent before he loves God, so it is morally 
impossible for him to refrain from repenting after he 
loves him. True repentance always flows from love 
to God, and not merely from a hope of salvation. 

As repentance follows love, so faith follows both 
love and repentance. When the sinner loves, he will 
repent, and when he repents, he will exercise not mere- 
ly a speculative, but a saving faith. It is morally 
impossible for a sinner to love Christ for condemning 
sin in the flesh, until he hates sin, and sincerely repents 
of it. It is morally impossible, that he should love the 
grace of the gospel, until he loves the justice of the IdV. 
It is morally impossible, that he should feel his need 
of a Saviour, until he sees and feels, that God would 
be righteous and amiable in sending him to destruction. 
But as soon as he loves the divine character, and the 
divine law, and condemns himsdf as tlie law eondenwd 

280 SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 0. 

him, he is prepared to love Christ and to depend upoii 
him alone, for pardon and acceptance in the sight of 
God. He chooses to be saved through the atonement 
of Christ, because heseesno other way,in which Godcan 
be just,and yet justify and save him from deserved pun- 
ishment. Having exercised love and repentance towards 
God, he is prepared to exercise faith towards the Lord 
Jesus Christ. Agreeably to this order of gracious ex- 
ercises, John preached, saying, ''Repent ye: for the 
kingdom of heaven is at hand." And after John, 
^' Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the 
kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fuitilled, and 
the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye, and believe 
the gospel." Thus it appears, that love is the first ex- 
ercise of the renewed sinner; repentance the second; 
and faith the third. This is the order, in which these 
gracious exercises always take place, and it is morally 
impossible, that they should take place in any other 
order. There may be a false faith, and a false repent- 
ance, before a false love; but there cannot be a true 
repentance before a true love, nor a true faith before a 
true repentance. True, disinterested love, which is the 
fruit of a divine influence, is always the first exercise 
of the renewed sinner, and both his repentance and 
faith flow from such pure love. So that faith's work- 
ing by love does not mean, that love flows from faith; 
but that faith flows from love. I shall now endeav- 
our to show, 

H. The importance of representing these first exer^ 
cisis of the renewed heart in the Order I have men- 
tioned. Upon this point, there is a diversity of opin- 
ions among those, who believe the absolute necessity 
of a spiritual and saving change, in order to salvation. 
Some say, that faitli, repentance, and love are all pro- 
duced at once in regeneration, and that they cannot 

SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 281 

fee considered as properly distinct, because they involve 
©ach other. They suppose, that faith implies Iove> 
and love implies faith; that faith intplies repentance 
and repentance implies faith; or rather that faith im- 
plies all the christian graces. But this seems to be an 
absurd supposition. For, all holy exercises are really 
distinct; and though in a certain sense connected, can- 
not be exercised at one and the same moment. Some 
who allow, that faith, repentance, and love are really 
distinct exercises, and talce place in succession; yet say 
it is of no importance to determine in what order they 
follow one another; because they have no fixt order 
of succession, but take place sometimes in one order, 
and sometimes in another. Sometimes the renewed 
person may exercise love in the first instance; some- 
times faith in the first instance; and s.-metimes repent- 
ance in the first instance. The Spirit, they suppose, 
operates differently upon different persons. In one 
person, he may first produce faith; in another person, 
he may first produce repentance; and in another per- 
son, he may first produce love. He observes, they 
imagined, no certain order in his special operations, 
and consequently those who are the subjects of his 
special grace, are not conscious ot the same order in 
their first gracious affections. One person may say, 
that he was first conscious of love; another, that he 
was first conscious of faith; another, that he was first 
conscious of repentance; and another, that he was 
conscious of no distinct order in his new affections, but 
only that they were new, and different from any that 
he ever was conscious of before. It is readily grant- 
ed, that all these subj^ cfs of special grace, may speak 
the truth according to the best knowledge they have 
of their first gracious exercises; and yet it may be 
equally true, that the first gracious exercises in each of 

282 SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 

them, took place in a certain order, and in the same 
certain order that we have mentioned. For, no per- 
son, perhaps, af the very time of his spiritual change, 
ever attended to the particular order of his holy affec- 
tions, because his mind was first fixed upon the great 
objects of his love, his repentance, and his faith. Be- 
sides, though all true believers know that they have 
had different affections since they became believers 
from what they had before; yet very few know how 
to distinguish and describe their holy exercises accord- 
ing to their specifick difference, and proper names. 
Notwithstanding, therefore, this variety of opinions 
among real christians, respecting their first christian 
exercises, it must be certain, that the Spirit of God 
never acts inconsistently in converting sinners; or in 
other words, that he never produces repentance to- 
wards God, before he produces love to God; nor faith 
towards the Lord f esus Christ, before love to Christ. 
Tliex'e is no room to doubt but that he always pro- 
duces love before repentance, and repentance before 
faith. This is the only order, in which we can con- 
ceive it to be possible, for the holy Spirit to produce 
the first holy affections in the human heart, whether 
believers are, at the time of their conversion or after- 
wards, conscious of this order or not. Hence it is of 
greait importance in describing a saving change, that 
the first exercises of grace should be represented in 
that very order in which they always take place. For, 
1. Unless we place love before faith and repentance, 
we cannot reconcile regeneration w^ith the divine law, 
which requires all men to love God immediately and 
supremely. If we say, that faith is the first gracious 
exercise, then we virtually say, that men ought to be- 
lieve the gospel, before they love God; which is the 
same as to say, that it is not the duty of sinners to obey 

SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. «S3 

the first and great command, until they become true 
believers in Christ. And this consequence is allowed 
by those, who place faith before love. They main- 
tain, that no man can or ought to love God, until he 
believes, that he is freed from the condemning power 
of the law, and shall escape the everlasting displeasure 
of a damning God. 7'hey suppose, therefore, that 
faith produces both love and repentance. But this is 
totally mconsisteiit with the first precept of the divine 
law. and virtually dissolves the obligations of sinners 
to 1 >ve until he gives them faith in Christ. But, 
on the other hand, if we represent love as the first fruit 
olthe Spirit, then the doctrine of regeneration will ap- 
pa r entirely consistent with the divine law. For the 
1^ requires love as the first exercise of holy affection; 
ad this is the first affection, which every renewed 
wrson exercises. Such is the consistency between the 
/av of God and the special influences of his holy Spirit 
in regeneration. And in order to make this consist- 
e ncy appear, it is very important to represent love, as 
befo re repentance and faith, and not faith, as before 
ilove and repentance in the renewed heart. The ex- 
perience of christians must be represented according 
to the doctrines of the gospel, and not the doctrines of 
the gospel interpreted and" represented according to the 
various and inconsistent experiences of supposed chris- 

2. It is of importance to represent love, as before 
repentance and faith, in order to make it appear, that 
sanctification is before justification, and the only prop- 
er evidence of it. Those, who place faith before 
love and repentance, suppose that men are justified 
before they are renewed or sanctified. They suppose, 
that saving faith consists in a man's believing that he 
is justified and entitled to eternal life, without any evi- 

284 SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 

dence from scripture, sense, or reason. It is easy to 
see, that if faith could be before love and repentance, 
justification might be before sanctification, and conse- 
quently sanctification could be no evidence of justifi- 
cation. But this doctrine, though taught by many 
noted divines, is contrary to the whole current of scrip- 
ture, which represents love, as before faith and repent- 
ance, and as the best evidence of pardon and justifica- 
tion in the sight of God. Paul says, "If children, then 
heirs;" and not, "K heirs, then children." John s»ys. 
'Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of 
God, and knoweth God." The only proper evidence 
of justification is sanctification. "If any man ha^e 
not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." If re 
place love before faith and repentance, we make e- 
pentance and faith holy exercises, and holy exercies. 
the evidence of justification and a title to etenil 
life. The placing of the first exercises of the renewei 
heart in this order, is of the highest practical impoi 
tance. It lays the only solid foundation for all rea 
christians to know, that they are born again, and heir 
of everlasting life. I must add, 

3. It is absolutely necessary to place love before re- 
pentance and faith, in order to distinguish true religion 
from false. All true religion essentially consists in 
pure, holy, disinterested love; and all false religion es- 
sentially consists in interested, mercenary, selfish love. 
Now, those who place faith before love and repent- 
ance, make all religion selfish; because upon their sup- 
position, all religious affections flow from a belief of 
their being elected and entitled to eternal life. They 
maintain, that men must first believe, that God through 
Christ is reconciled to them, and intends to save them 
from the wrath to come. And who that believes this, 
in respect to himself, will not love God, and be very 

SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 285 

sorry that he has ever offended him, who has ahvays 
been ^o partial in his favour. The worst man in the 
world would be glad to escape endless misery; and if 
he can make hmiself believe, that God intends to save 
him in his sins, he will love and admire him for it. 
So that this faith, which is before love, and altogether 
selfish, will produce a false love, a false joy, a false 
repentance, a false hope, a false submission, a false 
obedience, and a whole life of false religion. But if 
we place supreme love to God, for what he is in him- 
self, before faith; then all the gracious exercises, which 
flow from it, will be holy and disinterested affections. 
The repentance, the faith, the joy, the hope, the sub- 
mission, the obedience, and the whole religious life;, 
which flows from such love, will be all holy and ac- 
ceptable in the sight of God. And such persons as 
thus love God, before they know that he loves them; 
that repent, before they know that they shall be for- 
given; and that love and believe in Christ, before they 
know that he died for them in particular, may have 
clear and satisfactory evidence, that they have experi- 
enced a saving change; that they are meet to be par- 
takers of the inheritance of the saints in light; and that 
they shall forever love and enjoy God, and be perfect- 
ly happy in his favour and service, 


1. If the first exercises of renewed sinners ahvays 
take place in the same order; then all real saints have 
always had precisely the same kind of religious ex- 
periences. They have always been the subjects of the 
special, renewing, sanctifying •influences of the holy 
Spirit. He has converted all sinners, who have ever 
been converted in all ages. And though he has not 
always made use of the same external means i{\ 

286 SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 

converting them; yet he has always produced in their 
hearts the same kind of effects, and in the same order. 
He has caused them first to exercise supreme love to 
God, then true repentance of sin, and then a saving 
faith in the divine Redeemer. He converted Abel, 
Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and all the Old Testament 
saints, in the same manner, in which he converted 
Jews and Gentiles in the Apostle's day. And we arc 
told, that 'they were all made to drink into one spirit;" 
that is, to exercise the same kind of holy affections. 
The psalms of David contain not only his own relig- 
ious experiences, but the religioub experiences of the 
church of God in general; and it appears, that the love, 
the repentance, the faith, the hopes, the fears, the joys, 
and the sorrows of all true believers had always been 
of the same nature. And it is upon this ground, that 
the apostle with great propriety, exhorts christians 
in all future ages, "to be followers of them who 
through faith and patience inherit the promises. 
Though real christians may have different opinions, in 
speculation, concerning some of the doctrines of grace, 
and concerning the mode and order of the Spirit's op- 
erations, in renewing or converting sinners; yet their | 
own spiritual experiences are all essentially alike; 
And could they agree to call the same things by the 
same proper names, they would no longer contend, 
whether love be before repentance, and repentance 
before faith; but would all allow, that their repentance 
and faith flowed from supreme love to God. This is 
the truth in respect to all who have experienced a sav- 
ing change, and this truth they will all sooner or later 
believe. Those chri^ians, who have been properly 
taught, do now speak, as well as experience the same 

SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 287 

2. If the holy Spirit, in converting sinners, always 
produces love to God before faith in Christ; then it is 
extremely erroneous, to represent faith as previous to 
love in the renewed heart. This is the greatest and 
most pievailingerrour among those, who believe in ex- 
perimental religion. For all who place faith before love, 
suppose that men cannot love God, before they believe 
that God loves them, and intends to save them. But 
the love, the repentance, and all the religious affections, 
which flow from such a faith, are totallyselfish, and 
diametrically repugnant to all the precepts of the di- 
vine law. And for this reason, the religion originating 
from such a source, is properly called Antinomianism, 
or a religion against the law of God. All Antino- 
mians suppose, that unregenerate men are not bound 
to love God as the law requires, until they believe the 
gospel; and that believing the gospel is the same as be- 
lieving that Christ died for them in particular, and 
that they are actually interested in the benefits of his 
atonement. It is easy to see at once, that such a faith 
will naturally produce love to God, love to Christ, 
love to the holy Spirit, love to the visible friends of 
Christ, love to prayer, praise, and the external per- 
formance of all religious duties. Such a faith may 
make the most devout, affectionate, and lively christians 
in appearance, while their hearts are full of nothing 
but spiritual pride, hypocrisy, and selfishness. What 
made the Scribes and Pharisees so devout, so praj^er- 
ful, and so strict in their external conformity to all the 
rites and ceremonies of their religion? w as it not be- 
cause they thought they stood high in the favour of 
God? What made the multitudes at first follow Christ, 
with their hosannahs? was it not a belief that he loved 
them, and came to save them in particular from tem- 
poral and eternal ruin? The doctrine, that faith is be- 

288 SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 

fore love in conversion, is calculated to lead men inter 
the most fatal delusion. It teaches them to believe, 
that Christ died for them in particular, and intends to 
save them; and to love him, and to love God, to re- 
pent, and to obey, from mere mercenary, selfish mo- 
tives, which is a fatal error, and if cordially embraced 
and acted upon, will destroy them forever. Christ 
always did, and always will reject those, who love 
him merely for his favours. 

3. If thei^e can be no true experimental religion, but 
what originates rom that supreme love to God, which 
is before faith in Christ; then there is ground to fear, 
that there is a great deal of false religion among all 
denominations of Christians. For many of their most 
devout Teachers inculcate the doctrine, that faith in 
Christ is always before love to God. And it is to be 
presumed, that a doctrine so agreeable to every natur- 
al man, has been cordially embraced by multitudes, 
who have been made acquainted with it, by books 
and by preaching. If we look into many grave 
Treatises published upon vital or experimental religion, 
we find faith placed before love and repentance. If 
we read Hervey's Dialogues, Marshall's Gospel Mys- 
tery of Sanctification, The Marrow of Modern Divin- 
ity, or many of the Writings of the Presbyterean Di- 
vines in Euiope or America, we find that those Authors 
inculcate the doctrine, that faith always precedes love, 
and lays the foundation for love, in the sinner's con- 
version. If we hear many of the most admired Preach- 
ers of the present day, we find them most frequently 
and most pathetically dwelling upon the love of Christ 
to sinners, and endeavouring to persuade them to be- 
lieve, that Christ is willing to receive them into his fa- 
vour just as they aie, before they exercise either love 
or repentance. They preach this false and dangerous 

SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 280 

doctrine, in direct opposition to the well known senti- 
ments of those Divines, who, by their writings and 
preaching, teach the true Order of gracious affections 
in the renewed heart. People generally are much 
more fond of hearing their crrour, than the opposite 
truth; and consequently their preaching is calculated to 
makemanyco, verts, and to make them rapidly They 
firstendeavour to alarm sinners with a deep sense of their 
perishing condition by nature; and then most affec- 
tionately urge them to believe, that Christ loves them, 
and is willing to save them just as they are, unholy and 
impenitent. And as soon as awakened, impenitent, self- 
ish sinnerscome to believe this, their faith fills their hearts 
with love, and gratitude, and the most ravishing joys. 
There are many ministers, and some who affect to be 
the most learned, the most eloquent, and tb.e most sin- 
cere friends of vital piety.who are usaig every method 
in their power, to propagate through the country, sen- 
timents whicluae directly suited to promote such un- 
holy, unsound, and dangerous c^yersions. / ; 

Finally, this subject teaches all, who have entertaia- 
ed a hope of having experienced a saving change, the 
great importance of examining themselves, whether 
they have ever exercised that precious faith, which flows 
from supreme love to God. There has been a great 
deal of false religion in the world, and many have been 
fatally deceived, in respect to the nature of their relig-^ 
ious experiences. The vast multitudes, who entered 
into covenant with God at mount Sinai, were deeply 
impressed with what they had heard and seen, and 
probably thought they were sincere friends to Jeho- 
vah; but they deceived and destroyed themselves; and 
are set up as awful monuments, to deter others from 
the same self-deception. Many who followed John 
and Christ, and heard them gladly, and thought they 

290 SERMON XVl. Gal. v, 6. 

were true converts; soon lost all their religious affec- 
tions, and turned bitter enemies to the gospel of Christ, 
This gave Christ occasion to warn his hearers against 
the danger of entertaining false hopes, which would 
not stand the test of the last day. "Many will say 
to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophe- 
sied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? 
and in thy name done many wonderful works? And 
then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: de- 
part from me, ye that work iniquit}^" Men are in as 
much danger of forming and living upon false hopes 
now, as ever they were. They are in danger of be- 
ing deceived, by the great enemy of souls, who often 
appears in the form of an angel of light, to deceive and 
destroy. They are in danger of being deceived by 
false teachers, who come to them under the garb of 
the ministers of Christ, and of the friends of truth. 
And they are in still greater danger of being deceived, 
by the deceitfulness of their own hearts. Surrounded 
by so many dangers of deceiving themselves, in re- 
spect to their religious hopes, they need to be very strict 
and impartial in examining the nature of theirreligious 
affections. Hence says the apostle, "Examine your- 
selves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves, 
know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christy 
isin you, except ye be reprobates." And again he says 
to the same professors of religion,"! am jealousover you 
with a godly jealously. I fear lest by any means, as the 
serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your 
minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is 
in Christ." This he said in direct reference to false 
teachers. It is commonly through the means of some 
false doctrines, that men deceive themselves, with false 
hopes of being the subjects of grace. They have no 
right to hope, that they have experienced a saving 

SERMON XVI. Gal. v, 6. 291 

change, merely because they have been in great anx- 
iety, and distress, and afterwards felt peculiar love, and 
joy, and peace For love, and joy, and peace, may 
flow from an appropriating faith, or a belief, which 
has no evidence from scripture, sense, or reason, that 
Christ died for them in particular, and intends to save 
them. Such religious affections, which flow from 
such a false faith, afford no evidence of the renovation 
of the heart. But on the other hand, those have a 
right to hope, that they have passed from death to 
life, if they are conscious of having loved God for 
what he is in himself, of having hated sin because of itg 
odious nature, and of having loved Christ for honour- 
ing God, and opening the door of mercy to perishing 
sinners. Such repentance and faith flowing from such 
supreme love to the divine character, afford good evi- 
dence of a sound conversion. For these are the love, 
the repentance, and the faith, which the holy Spirit 
always produces in those whom he renews and sanc- 
tifies. And such sanctification of heart is the only ev- 
idence of justification, and a title to eternal life. The 
Antinomian faith precludes all self examination. Those 
who place faith before love, hold that it is a sin for 
those who have once believed, that Christ die^l for 
them in particular, to doubt of their gracious state. 
The reason is obvious. If a faith before love, and 
without love, be a justifying faith; then assurance be- 
longs to the essence of faith, and consequently, there is 
no occasion for sanctification, to prove a believer's jus- 
tification. But let no man be deceived; for if he have 
not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 



2 Peter, iii, 18. 

Biitgrow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord 

and Saviour Jesus Christ. 

THE apostles were solicitous not only to convert men 
to the belief and profession Christianity, but to build 
them up in their most holy faith. They often visited 
the churches which they had planted, to look into 
their state, and to rectify whatever they found amiss 
in their sentiments, or practice. And when they could 
not consistently visit them, they frequently wrote them 
very friendly and occasional epistles, in which they 
meant to instruct them in some particular doctrines, 
or warn them against some particular err ours, or solve 
some particular eases of conscience, or exhort them to 
constancy and perseverance in their christian course* 
But Peter, in writing to cliristians in general, seems to 
have but one great object in view, and that is, to urge 
upon them the importance of their growing in grace, 
tvhic'i would afford them the best support under their 
trials, and the best security against all the snares and 
seductions of their spiritual enemies. The conclusion of 
this last epistle is agreeable to the whole tenor of both. 
"Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things 
before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the 
errour of the wicked, fall from your steadfastness. But 
grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ." Christians are still in a state of 
moral imperfection, and exposed to the subtile devices 
of the great adversary of their souls, and to the snares 
•^nd temptations of the present evil world. The in- 

SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. £93 

junction in the text applies, with all its force, to the 
feeble and humble followers of Christ, at this day. 
They need to make continual advances in grace, and 
in that knowledge, which is conducive to their spiritual 
strength and edification. There is the same connexion 
bet\A'een knowledge and grace, that there is between 
means and ends, It is not to be expected, that chris- 
tians will grow in grace, unless they grow in the knowl- 
edge of Christ, as he is revealed in the gospel. This, 
therefore, will be the leading sentiment in the present 

That christians must grow in knowledge, in order 
to grow in grace. I shall, 

I. Conader what is meant by their growing in 

II. Consider why they must grow in knowledge in 
order to grow in grace. 

III. Show the importance of their growing in both 
these respects. 

I. We are to consider what is meant by their grow- 
ing in grace. The word grace is used in various senses 
in Scripture. It sometimes signifies the love of God to 
all mankind in sending his Son to die for them. It 
sometimes signifies his peculiar love to those, whom he 
renews and sanctifies by the influences of his holy 
Spirit. And it signifies the love, the faith, 
the repentance, and all the holy affections of true be- 
lievers or real christians. In this sense, the apostle 
uses the word grace in the text. He supposes, that all 
who have cordially embraced the gospel, have begun 
to live in the exercise of holy affections, and he exhorts 
them to grow in grace and press forward in their chris- 
tian course. The question now is, How shall they per- 
form this duty? This leads me to say, 

294 SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iivl8 . 

1. They must exercise grace more constantly. It is 
generally and justly supposed, that the best of chris- 
tians in their present state of imperfection, are not 
always in the actual exercise of grace. Whether there 
can be any such thing as grace, without exercise, I 
shall not stand to consider; but supposing the common 
opinion to be true, that christians are not always in 
the exercise of grace, it must be allowed, that they 
ought to exercise grace more constantly, which is ac- 
tually growing in grace. For the more constantly and 
uninterruptedly they exercise purely holy affections, 
the more they conform to the divine will, and do real- 
ly advance in the divine life. They follow the exam- 
ple of the apostle Paul, while growing in grace and 
pressing forward towards the mark of sinless pe» fection. 
So far as they fail in the constancy of their gracious 
exercises; just so far they fall short of that moral per- 
fection, which IS their indispensable duty. If they let 
their thoughts wander with the fool's eyes to the ends 
of the earth, their gracious affections will certainly be 
interrupted, and vain thoughts and evil affections will 
creep into their hearts. Some christians, who are cir- 
cumspect and watchful, and keep their hearts with dil- 
igence, have many more right affections than others, 
who are in a low and declining state of religion. They 
carry about with them the spirit of the gospel, and pur- 
sue their secular concerns, as well as perform their re- 
ligious duties, with gracious sincerity. Whether they 
eat, or drink, or whatever they do, they mean to do 
all to the glory of God. They live as seeing Him who 
is invisible, and endeavour to keep theuiselves in the 
fear of the Lord all the day long. This is what all 
christians ought to do, to grow in grace, and mal^e 
progress in a holy and devout life. 

SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 295 

2. Uniformity, as well as constancy, is implied in 
growing in grace By uniformity is meant, the exer- 
cise of all the various christian graces. These are nu- 
merous, according to the vast variety of objects with 
which christians are surrounded, and the great variety 
of circumstances in which they are placed. Want of 
uniformity is a very great and common imperfection 
of christians. They are often like Ephraim, "a cake 
not turned." They are sound in some respects, but 
unsound in other respects. Their beauties are mixed 
with blemishes. They may be devout in their reli- 
gious performances; but not so serious and circumspect 
in their common intercourse with the world. They 
may be very conscientious in some points; but more 
lax and inconsiderate in matters of equal, or higher im- 
portance. Some seem to have more love to God, than 
to man; while others seem to have more love to man, 
than to God. Some shine in one grace, and some in 
another; while very few shine in all the beauties of 
holiness. But Ciirist was uniform as well as constant 
in the exercise of every species of holy affections. And 
his followers ought to have grace for grace, and be as 
uniform as he was, in exercising right affections on all 
occasions and under all circumstances. This the apos-- 
tie Peter plainly intimates is necessary in order to 
grow in grace. *'And beside this, giving all diligence, 
add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and 
to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, 
and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly- 
kindness, and to brotherly- kindness charity. For if 
these things be in you, and abound, th^y make you 
that ye shall neither be barren, nor in. fruitful in the 
knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." The more 
uniform christians become in their holy afiecticns, the 
more they grow in grace, and the nearer they approach 

296 SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 

to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. 
Proficiency in one j^race will not atone for deficiency 
in another; and therefore every christian ought to be- 
come more and more uniform, as well as constant, in 
every christian grace. While christians maintain con- 
stancy and uniformity in their gracious affections, they 
will increase in fervency and activity in every duty. 
Their coldness and backwardness and unfruitfulness 
always arise from the want of constancy and uniform- 
ity in their holy exercises. Let them only become 
constant and uniform in their love to God and man, 
and they will be pure as God is pure, and completely 
obey his command, "to grow in grace." 

II. We are next to inquire, why growth in knowl- 
edge is necessary in order to the growth in grace. This 
pecessary connexion between grace and knowledge 
is plainly intimated in the text. "Grow in grace, and 
in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ." God has always employed knowledge as 
the most proper mean to promote holiness in the hearts 
of his people. He has given them his written word^ 
and appointed men to feed them with knowledge and 
understanding. And he has done this for the very 
purpose of promoting their spiritual edification and 
growth in grace. Accordingly we read, "He gave 
some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evan- 
gelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfect- 
ing of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the 
edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the 
unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of 
God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the 
stature of the fulness of Christ-" Some, however, 
have thought and said, that knowledge is of, little, or 
no advantage to christians, and rather tends to ob- 
struct, than to promote vital piety. It is, therefore, a 

SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 297 

pertinent and important inquiry, why knowledge is 
necessary to the spiritual edification of christians. 
Here it may be observed, 

1. That knowledge tends to increase their obliga- 
tions to groiv in grace. The knowledge of duty always 
increases an obligation to do it. Christ said to those 
who heard his instructions, "If I had not come and 
spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they 
have no cloke for their sin." The apostle asserts, that 
"to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to 
him it is sin." The truth of these declarations is 
founded upon the tendency of knowledge, to oblige 
every person to act as well as he knows. The more 
christians know of their Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ, the greater is their obligation to be conformed 
to his character arid will. And could they have a clear, 
connected, and comprehensive view of all that he has 
done, and will do, for the glory of God, the salvation 
of sinners, and the good of the universe, their obliga- 
tions to grow in grace would be in exact proportion 
to their extensive knowledge. All christians know by 
their own experience, the tendency of knowledge to 
increase their moral obligation to duty. The more 
knowledge they receive from the word or the provi- 
dence of God, the more they feel morally bound to 
live in the constant exercise of o;race. Peter, Paul, and 

O 7 7 

the other apostles were under higher obligations to 
grow in grace, than common christians, because they 
had his/her decrees of knowledore. All the inhabitants 
of heaven are under higher obligations to make con- 
tinual advances in holiness, than any of the saints here 
on earth, because they dwell in superior light. As 
knowledge, therefore, has a direct tendency to increase 
the obligations of christians to perfect holiness in the 

SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 

fear of God, so it is necessary that they should grow 
in knowledge in order to grow in grace. 

2. Divine knowledge not only increases the obliga- 
tions of christians to grow in grace, but actually in- 
creases the holiness of all their holy affections. One 
exercise of love to God maybe more holy than another. 
I'he degree of holiness in every exercise of love to God, 
is always in proportion to the light or knowledge^ 
which the person has, at the time of exercising that 
particular grace. A christian has a much clearer and 
more extensive view of God, at one time, than at 
another, and his love is always virtuous in exact pro- 
portion to the degrees of his present know^ledge. One 
exercise of faith is more virtuous than another, because 
the believer may have much greater knowledge of the 
Lord Jesus Christ, at one time, than he has at another. 
The same holds trueof submission, joy gratitude, and 
every other christian grace. The virtue of every holy 
affection bears a due proportion to the magnitude of 
the object towards which it is exercised. It is more 
virtuous to love Christ, than to love a friend of Christ, 
because he is a far greater and nobler object, than any 
individual christian. It is more virtuous to love God, 
than to love any created being, because he is a far 
greater and nobler object, than any created intelligence. 
The celebrated Howard, who spent his property and 
his life, in relieving the objects of charity in Britain and 
in various other parts of Europe, was a man of benev- 
olence, and his benevolence was in proportion to his 
knowledge. As he had a far more extensive view of 
the miseries of mankind, than christians in general, so 
his exercises of kindness and compassion were much 
more virtuous, than theirs towards similar objects. God 
is good unto all, and his tender mercies are over all his 
works; and of consequence, there is more virtue in one 

SERMON XVII. t Pet. iii, 15. 

exercise of his benevolence towards mankind, than in 
all the benevolent exercises of all his benevolent crear 
tures. They never have had, and never will have, such 
a full and perfect view of the whole creation, as he has 
every moment; and their virtue can never exceed their 
knowledge, but only increase as that incieases. Sup- 
pose an American prisoner should be converted in Al- 
giers, and have no opportunity to read the Bible, to 
hear a sermon, or to converse with a single christian, 
after his conversion; he might, by meditation and 
prayer, grow in grace all his days till he died: but he 
could not grow in grace so fast, as if he enjoyed 
all the means of light and instruction, which he once 
enjoyed in his native land. He might, indeed, have 
as many holy exercises, as if he had been planted in the 
house ot the Lord, and lived in the circle of the most 
lively christians; but his holy exercises would terminate 
upon fewer and less important objects, than theirs, and 
consequently be much less virtuous. The more real 
christians become acquainted with their Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ, the better they understand the 
great and essential truths of the gospel, and the more 
they attend to the great things, which God has done, is 
doing, and has promised to do, to accomplish the glo- 
rious design of redeeming love, the more gracious ex- 
ercises they will probably have, and it is certain, that 
the virtue of all their gracious exercises will increase, 
as their knowledge increases. The virtue of their de- 
sires to promote the glory of God, will be in proportion 
to their knowledge of God. The virtue of their de- 
sires for the spread of the Gospel, will be in proportion 
to their knowledge of the truths and importance of the 
gospel. The virtue of their desires for the enlargement 
of the Redeemer's kingdom, will be in proportion to 
their knowledge of the present and promised extent of 

300 SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 

his kingdom, and all the good contained in it. In a 
word, the increase of knowledge will tend to increase 
both the number and the virtue of all their holy affec- 
tions; and for this reason, it is necessary, that they 
should grow in knowledge, in order to grow in grace, 

III It now remains to show the importance of their 
growing in both these respects. Christians do not 
generally realize the importance of growing in grace 
and making continual advances in holiness. Many 
imagine, that they may safely rest satisfied with the 
lowest degree of grace, because this will certainly se- 
cure their final salvation. But though the weakest 
christians shall eventually obtain eternal life; yet it is 
of very great importance, that true believers should 
become strong in faith and every other christian grace, 
by using the proper means to obtain this desirable end. 
Here, then, I would observe, 

1. That the honour of religion requires christians to 
grow in knowledge and grace. Though the men of 
the world are disposed to hate and despise religion, 
yet they are constrained to respect it in those professors, 
who appear to be both knowing and growing chris- 
tians. When they find professors, who are deficient 
in knowledge, they ascribe ail their apparent sanctity 
to ignorance, superstition, or enthusiasm. Or when 
they find professors, whose knowledge surpasses their 
apparent sanctity, they then ascribe ail their apparent 
religion to hypocrisy. But when they find christians, 
who understand the gospel, and are able to give a rea- 
son of the hope that is within them, they are constrain- 
ed to believe and to acknowledge, that their religion 
is a divine reality. Grace adorns knowledge, and 
knowledge adorns grace; and both united highly re- 
commend true religion to the world. No man can 
despise knowledge united with grace, nor despise grac-e 

SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 301 

united with knowledge. It was knowledge that re- 
commended the piety of Christ himself, and command- 
ed the respect and admiration of his enemies. They 
exclaimed, ''How knoweth this man letters!" I'hey 
saw his perfect holiness united with his profound 
knowledge of those scriptures, which they allowed to 
be of divine Inspiration; and this evidence of the truth 
and importance of his religion they could not despise, 
nor resist. While the followers of Christ increase in 
spiritual knowledge and gracious affections, their good 
cannot be evil spoken of. They shine as lights in the 
world, and lead others to glorify their Father who is 
in heaven. They adorn the doctrine of God their 
Saviour, which reflects great honour upon their re- 
ligion, and carries conviction to the consciences of sin- 
ners, that they are guilty of inexcusable folly as well 
as sin, in neglecting the one thing needful. Besides, 

2. It is of great importance, that christians should 
grow both in knowledge and in grace, not only on the 
account of others, but on their own account. For, in 
the first place, their growth in these respects, will be 
the most effectual security against the gross and dan- 
gerous errours to which they are continually exposed 
in their present imperfect state. It is a good thing, 
that the understanding be enlightened with knowledge, 
and the heart be established with grace. Those who 
have a clear and extensive knowledge of the gospel, 
can easily distinguish its great and fundamental doc- 
trines from every false sentiment and fatal errour. 
Scoffers and deceivers early appeared in the christian 
church, who wrested the Scriptures unto their own 
destruction. And it is in particular reference to such 
men, that the apostle Peter exhorts christians to grow 
in grace, and in the knowledge of tlieir Lord and Sa- 
viour Jesus Christ, ''lest they should be led away witl^ 

302 SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 

the errour of the wicked, and fall from their own stead- 
fastness." Knowledge and grace united, enable chris- 
tians to detect, expose, and reject the various errours 
which the enemies of the gospel are zealous and artful 
in propagating. While true believers clearly under- 
stand and faithfully practise their own religion, they 
are able to meet and refute every false doctrine, which 
may be proposed and recommended to their belief. 
This the apostle John suggests to those christians, who 
were exposed to fatal errours in his day. "Little chil- 
dren it is the last time: and as ye have heard that anti- 
christ shall come, even now are there many antichrists; 
whereby we know that it is the last time- They went 
out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had 
been of us, they would no doubt have continued with 
us, but they went out, that they might be made mani- 
fest that they were not all of us. But ye have an 
unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things, 
I have not written unto you because ye know not the 
truth: but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the 
truth." It is as important and necessary now, that 
christians should grow in knowledge as well as grace, 
to guard themselves and others against those, who lie 
in wait to deceive. Christians never had a louder call 
to grow in knowledge and grace, that they may be 
able to contend earnestly and successfully for the faith 
which was once delivered to the saints. They are 
surrounded by false teachers, who are zealously en- 
deavouring by art and subtilty, to bring in damnable 
heresies; and nothing but a zeal according to knowl- 
edge will prepare them to discover and refute such 
fatal errours, and to repel the attacks of all their spirit- 
ual enemies^ 

Growth in knowledge and grace will happily tend, 
in the second place, to remove darkness and doubts 

SERMON XVII. 3 Pet. hi, 18. 303 

from the minds of christians. They olten meet with 
these inward trials, which greatly depress their spirits 
and enfeeble their exertions, as well as disturb their 
peace and comfort. Grace is the evidence of grace, 
and knowledge discovers this evidence. It is always 
owing to some kind of ignorance, that real christians 
are involved in darkness and doubts, respecting their 
good estate. But by growing in knowledge and grace, 
they will take the proper and effectual method, to dis- 
sipate all the clouds which hang over their minds, and. 
io regain that peace, which the world cannot give, nor 
take away. Declining christians may expect to be 
troubled with darkness and perplexity of mind, and 
the fiery darts of the great accuser of the brethren, be- 
cause they lay themselves open to both external and 
internal temptations, and provoke God to withdraw 
his Spirit and the light of his countenance from them. 
This he threatens to every backslider. Thine own 
wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings 
shall reprove thee: know therefore and see, that it is 
an evil and bitter thing, that thou hast forsaken the 
Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith 
the Lord God of hosts." But repenting, returning, 
growing saints may confidently hope, that God will 
graciously return to them, and give them the joy of 
his salvation. 

Furthermore, growth in knowledge and grace will 
prepare christians for the delightful and acceptable 
performance of every duty. While they are declining 
in religion and their hearts are departing from God, 
they are apt to stand, and hesitate, and try to reason 
themselves into doubts about both the revealed and 
providential will of God. They endeavour to excuse 
themselves for the neglect of disagreeable and self- 
denying duties, because they do not see their way 

304 SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 

clear to perform them. But when they grow in knowl-^ 
edge and grace, they intuitively see what is that good, and 
acceptable, and perfect will of God, which they ought 
to follow. Hence says Solomon, "A wise man's heart is 
at his right hand." And again, "A wise man's heart dis- 
cernethboth time and judgment." And again, "The wis- 
dom of the prudent is to understand his way." This 
Solomon knew, by happy experience; for while he was 
growing in knowledge and grace, he prayed for a wise 
and understanding heart, and his request was abun- 
dantly answered. In consequence of having such a 
heart, he found less difficulty in knowing, and less re- 
luctance in doing his duty. Growing saints are ready 
to hear the voice of God in his word and providence, 
and to run in the way of his commandments, with 
peculiar pleasure and deliglit. And the more readily 
they discern, and the more cheerfully they perform the 
various duties devolved upon them, the more sincere 
and acceptable are all their services in the sight of God. 
It is, finally, of great importance that christians 
should make continual advances in knowledge and 
grace, to prepare them for the closing scene of life. 
They are every day drawing nearer and nearer to the 
time of their decease, when they must leave this world, 
and go the way of all the earth. If they neglect to 
improve their minds in knowledge and their hearts in 
holiness, they may expect to live in bondage, and die 
in darkness and distress; for christians commonly die 
very much as they live. But if they make it their 
business to perfect holiness in the fear of God, and to 
go from strength to strength in their journey towards 
heaven, they may humbly hope to triumph over death 
and the grave, and be able to say, "O death! where is 
sting? O grave! where is thy victory?" It appears from 
the sacred history of growing saints, that their hopes 

SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 305 

and prospects grew brighter and brighter, the nearer 
they approached to the confines of death and eternity. 
Hear the last words of David. "Although my house 
be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an 
everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: 
for this is all my salvation, and all my desire." Heat 
also the language of Paul, whose growth in grace en- 
abled him to say. -'I am now ready to be offered, and 
the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a 
good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the 
faith: Hencef rth there is laid up for me a crown of 
righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge 
shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but 
unto all them also that love his appearing." The more 
christians grow in knowledge and grace, the better 
they are prepared to perform their last great act on the 
stage of life, to the glory of God, to the honour of re- 
ligion, to their own joy, and to the benefit and conso- 
lation of those whom they leave behind. 


1 . If knowledge be necessary to promote the growth 
of grace; then the most instructive preaching must be 
the most profitable. Many are fond of making a dis- 
tinction between sentimental and practical preaching, 
and consider the latter as much more useful than the 
former. The}^ insinuate, that christians at this day, 
do not need to be instructed in the doctrines of the 
gospel, but only to be quickened and animated to the 
practice of the duties of religion and morality. But 
there is reason to believe, that saints as well as sinners, 
at this day, stand in great need of being instructed in 
the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 
This knowledge lies at the foundation of all true de- 
votion, and true devotion lies at the foundation of all 

306 SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 

practical piety and christian morality. The great and 
essential truths of the gospel leed and nourish a holy 
heart, and directly tend to promote every christian 
grace and moral virtue. And so far as divine truth 
tends to promote holiness of heart, just so far it 
equally tends to promote holiness of life. Christ was 
a sentimental preacher. In his sermon on the mount, 
he explained and enforced the great doctrine of disin- 
terested love, which distinguishes all true religion from 
false, and strikes at the root of some of the most dan- 
gerous errours, not only of the Scribes and Pharisees, 
but of professing christians at the present day. Paul, 
the first and great apostle of the Gentiles, tells them, 
that he determined to know nothing among them, save 
Jesus Christ, and him crucified. In his epistles to the 
Romans, to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, and to 
the Hebrews we find, tliat in order to promote the 
growth of grace in true believers, he dwells abundantly 
upon the great and fundamental doctrines of Christian- 
ity. And he rejoiced in the thought that he had not 
shunned to declare all the counsel of God, nor kept 
back any thing that v>'as profitable in his preaching. 
It is sentimental and instructive preaching, that is best 
suited to quicken, comfoit, and reprove real saints; and 
to undeceive sslf righteous and self-deceived hypocrites. 
One reason why so many prefer what they call prac- 
tical preaching to sentimental, is because they do not 
love the soul-humbling, and self-denying doctrines of 
the gospel. They hate to hear preachers explain and 
inculcate the doctrines of divine decrees, of divine sove- 
reignty, of divine agency, of special grace, and of the 
continued influence of the holy Spirit in the perform- 
ance of every duty. They are much better pleased to 
hear discourses upon cxtei'nal duties, than upon inter- 
jfial graces. But though sentimental preaching be not 

SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 307 

the most pleasing and popular, it is the most necessary 
and profitable. This appears to be true, by universal 
observation and experience. If ue search the history 
of the Church from Christ's day to the present time^ 
we shall find that devotional and practical piety has 
always flourished the most under the most sentimental 
and instructive preaching. 

2. If religious knowledge be conducive to the 
growth of religious affections; then that religious con- 
versation among christians is the most useful, which is 
the most instructive. They should often speak one to 
another upon religious subjecis, and endeavour to pro- 
mote their mutual edification M\d growth in grace* 
But they too often converse without much edification 
or benefit, because they do not aim at giving or re- 
ceiving instruction. If their conversation turn princi- 
pally upon the general stupidity of sinners, or the gen- 
eral coldness of professors, or the great corruption, ob- 
stinacy, and dcceitfulness of their own hearts, it rather 
tends to nourish spiritual pride and self complacency, 
than any truly gracious affections. But if they con- 
verse freely and familiarly upon the peculiar doctrines, 
duties, and promises of the gospel; or upon the pecul- 
iar nature of the christian graces; or upon the best 
means of promoting vital piety; or upon their own ob- 
ligations to walk worthy oi tiieir high and holy call- 
ing, they cannot fail of instructing each other, and of 
promoting their mutual love, zeal, and activity in their 
christian couise. Chiist always conversed instruc- 
tively with his disciples and others, aiid on one occa- 
sion he so clearly and fully opened the Scriptures/ 
that he made the hearts of those with whom he con- 
versed, to burn with a holy lov£ and joy. This ex- 
ample his friends ought to follow in their free and fa- 
miliar intercourse together. Indeed they are expressly 

.308 SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 

commanded to avoid all vain and evil speaking, and 
to converse instructively and profitably on all occa- 
sions. "Let no corrupt comniunication proceed out 
of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of 
edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers." 
There are a great many christians, who might be ex- 
tremely useful, if they would aim at edifying, rather 
than gratifying one another, in talking upon experi- 
mental religion. It is their duty freely and frequently 
to converse together upon those glorious truths and 
objects, which they will delightfully converse upon, 
when they shall meet and dwell together in the king- 
dom of glory. 

3. If divine knowledge has a tendency to promote 
all the christian graces and virtues; then growing chris- 
tians have an increasing evidence of their good estate. 
Our Saviour compares grace in the heart to seed sown 
in the earth, which springs up and grows very gradu- 
ally and insensibly. Though the best of christians 
grow very gradually, yet they carry about with them 
marks of their increasing holiness, which is an increas- 
ing evidence of their being the subjects of a saving 
change, and of their having gone forward, rather than 
backward, in their religious life. And if they criti- 
cally and impartially examine the exercises of their 
own hearts, they will fiiMi more or less of the follow- 
ing effects of the growth of grace. 

They will find that they have become more and 
more sensible of the essential difference between nature 
and grace. Natural and spiritual affections often put 
on a similar appearance, when they flow out towards 
the same objects; which renders it the more difficult to 
distinguish them from each other. Christians are very 
liable to put nature for grace, and selfishness lor be- 
nevolence. When their natural affections unite with 

SERMON XVIL 2 Pet. iii, 18. 30^ 

their spiritual affections, they are apt to imagine, that 
they are all pure and holy. Ail these affections, how- 
ever, are distinguishable, and growing christians learn 
by expeiience to distinguish them. The more they 
increase in knowledge and grace, the more clearly they 
discern the difference between holy affections, and all 
others which bear the nearest resemblance of gracious 

By growing in grace, they expeiience a growing 
sense of their constant and absolute dependence upon 
the divine Spirit for all right affections. They lean 
less to their own understanding; trust less to their own 
hearts; and depend less upon their own resolutions and 
strength. They find more sensibly, that they are not 
sufficient of themselves to think any thing as of them- 
selves; but that their sufficiency is of God. They are 
convinced by experience, that the preparation of their 
heart and the answer of their tongue is of the Lord. 
They feel more and more disposed to acknowledge 
God in all their ways, and to rely upon his gracious 
aid and influence in every duty. 

Their growth in grace gives them a growing sense 
of their vileness and unworthiness in the sight of God, 
The more holy they are, the more clearly they discern 
the beauty of holiness and the deformity and turpitude 
of sin. As Job grew in grace by passing through the 
furnace of affliction, he felt an increasing sense of his 
moral imperfection and vileness in the sight of God, to 
whom he said, "I have heard of thee by the hearing 
of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore 
1 abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." A 
clear view of the holiness and majesty of God, had a 
similar effect upon the holy heart of Isaiah, who said. 
"Wo is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of 
qnclean lips, and 1 dwell in the midst of a people of 

310 SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. in, 18. 

unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the king, the 
Lord of hosts." I'he apostle Paul, while pressing for- 
ward towards sinless perfection, had a deep and grow- 
ing sense of his remaining depravity, and moral turpi- 
tude. "O wretched man that I am, said he, who shall 
deliver me from the body of this death." David often 
sighed and groaned under a sense of his sin and guilt. 
Though growing saints really increase in holiness; yet 
the more grace they have, the more clearly they dis- 
cern their remaining corruptions, and tlie more they 
loath and abhor themselves for them. 

Hence growing christians have a growing sense of the 
grace of God in their salvation. The more they grow 
in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ, and the clearer views they have of the divine 
character, and of the divine law, and of the difference 
between nature and grace, the more they are astonish- 
ed at the great things which have been done for them. 
They are ready to adopt the grateful language of the 
apostle, "By the grace of God, we are what we are." 
They are astonished at the grace of God, in providing a 
Saviour; at the grace of Christ in dying for them; and 
at the grace of the holy Spirit in subduing their stubborn 
hearts, and continuing to carry on a work of sanctifi- 
cation in them. The whole scheme of redemption 
appears to be full of the riches of divine grace. 

Hence growing christians have a growing desire to 
bring forth fruits of righteousness. In whatever sta- 
tion they are fixed; in whatever business they are em- 
ployed; in whatever condition they are placed; they 
feel more and more disposed to lay out themselves, to 
promote the glory of God and the good of mankind. 
The growth of grace produced this effect in Abraham, 
who left his country and fiiends, and offered up his 
Son, for tlie glory c\' God; it produced this effect in 

SERMON XVII. 2 Pet. iii, 18. 311 

Moses, who gave up the most promising prospects, in 
obedience to God, and for the good of his people; and 
it produced the same effect in the apostles and primi- 
tive christians, who suffered the loss of all things, to 
promote the cause of Christ, and diffuse the blessings 
of the gospel through the world. Growing christians 
are not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serv- 
ing the Lord. They bring forth fi-uit, som.e thirty, 
some sixty, and some an hundred fold. 

These are some of the happy effects of the growth 
of grace, which all growing christians may discover in 
their own hearts, and which may give them satisfactory 
evidence, that they are born of God, and are ripening 
for heaven. But declining christians carry about with 
them the marks of their declension. Their own hearts 
test fy against them, that they have been cold and 
backward in duty; that they have abused the word 
and ordinances of the gospel; and that they have 
grieved the holy Spiiit, and provoked him to with-' 
'draw his gracious and comforting influence from them. 
Their unhappy and dangerous case calls upon them, 
to remember from whence they are fallen, to repent, 
and to do their first works. It is their immediate duty 
to make their calling and election sure, by growing in 
grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour 
Jesus Christ. As new-born babes, let them desire the 
sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby. 
God has promised lo give his holy Spirit to them that 
ask him. Let them wait upon the Lord, and they 
shall renew their strength; they shall run, and not be 
weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 



LuKExviii, 14. 
And he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. 

OUR Saviour spake this parable to certain who trust- 
ed in themselves that they were righteous, and despis- 
ed others. He meant to convince such self-righteous 
and self-deceived sinners of their guilty and dangerous 
situation. And nothing eOuld be better adapted to 
answer this benevolent and important puipose, than 
to represent their inward views and feelings, as dia- 
metrically opposite to the views and feeling of a 
true penitent. '-Two men, said he, went up into the 
temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a 
Publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with 
himself, God, I ihank thee that I am not as other men 
are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Pub- 
lican, I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that 
I possess. And the Publican, standing afar off, would 
not lift up so much as his e^^es to heaven, but smote 
on his breasf ; saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 
I tell you, This man went down to his house justified 
rather than the other: for every one that exalteth him- 
self shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself 
shall be exalted." This last clause in the parable nat- 
urally leads us, in the first place, to consider the na- 
ture of humility; and in the second place, the necessity 
of it, in order to obtain divine mercy. 

1. We are to consider the nature of humility. 
There is the more occasion of describing this gracious 
exercise of heart with peculiar accuracy and precisipn, 

SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 313 

l?ecause mankind arc naturally disposed to misunder- 
stand and misrepresent it. Mr. Hume scrupled not 
to say, "that humility ought to be struck off from the 
catalogue of Virtues, and placed on the catalogue of 
Vices.''^ This must have been owing to his gross ig- 
norance, or extreme malignity. The most charitable 
supposition is, that he really mistook a mere selfish 
and painful sense of natural inferiority for true humil- 

This leads me to observe, that a man's humbling 
himself is something very different from his having 
a mistaken and reluctant sense of his own inferiority 
in respect to his fellow-mortals. Though men gener- 
ally think too highly of themselves in regard to their 
inferiors, yet they as generally think too meanly of 
themselves in comparison with their superiors. The 
truth is, mankind are much more upon a level, in point 
of natural excellences and imperfections, than many 
are willing to acknowledge. The depressing sense, 
which some entertain of their natural inferiority, is 
greatly owing to their ignorance. But knowledge, 
and not ignorance is the mother of both humility 
and devotion. Those who know the most of God, of 
themselves, and of their fellow men, may be the most 
humble and devout persons in the world. There is 
a meanness and criminality in that voluntary humility ^ 
which the apostle mentions and condemns. 

Humility is likewise different from submission, 
which seems to resemble it. Submission is the respect, 
which an inferior justly owes to a suj)erior. The 
child owes submission to the parent, the subject to 
the prince, and the creature to the great Creator. But 
inferiors manifest no humility in submitting to their 
superiors. They only take their proper place, with- 

314 SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 

out sinking or degrading themselves in the least 

Furthermore, humility is something different from 
condescension which is the part of a superior, and con- 
sists in stooping to an inferior. Thus the Creator may 
condescend to a creature, the prince to a subject, the 
rich to the poor, and the aged to the young. But 
though condescension is stooping, yet it is by no means 
degrading. Real condescension always displays a no- 
ble and amiable spirit. I may now safely say, that 
humility essentially consists in self-abasement, which 
is self-degradation, or a voluntary sinking not only be- 
low others, but below ourselves. It is therefore, wholly 
founded in guilt. None but guilty creatures have any 
cause or reason for abasing themselves. But every 
guilty creature ought to abase himself, whether he is 
willing or unwilling to perform the mortifying duty. 
For sin is of a degrading nature, and always sinks the 
sinner below himself. Sin degraded Satan from the 
highest to the lowest creature in the universe. The 
moment he rebelled against his Maker, he lost his 
original rank in creation, and sunk below himself and 
all the holy angels. Sin degraded Adam, and his first 
offence sunk him below the lowest creature on earth. 
Sin has had the same effect upon all his posterity, and 
made them more vile and abominable than the beasts 
that perish. The higher and nobler any intelligent 
creatures are by nature, the lower and meaner they 
become by sin. 

Hence the humility, which sinners ought to exercise, 
consists altogether in self-abasement. They ought 
voluntarily to sink down to that place, which their 
sins deserve, or to be willing to lie as much below 
themselves and others, as their guilt can sink them. 
This is totally different from mere abas^ement. They 

SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 315 

may be abased, and abased as low as they deserve to 
be abased involuntarily, and while they are actually 
aspiring to rise above themselves and others; but there 
is no humility in such constrained and involuntary 
abasement. Satan is the subject of this kind of abase- 
ment while his heart is full of pride and self-exalta- 
tion. But when the guilty are heartily willing to lie 
as low as their sins deserve, then they really abase 
themselves and exercise true humility. T^is is the 
feeling which all sinners ought to have, and which ev- 
ery one must have, who is fmally raised to the king- 
dom of glory. And this is only feeling according to 
truth. Sin has degraded every sinner, and he must 
be willing to degrade himself, and voluntary take the 
place, which justly belongs to him. Such self-abase- 
ment is the very essence of that humility which all men 
ought to exercise. As there is nothing but sin, that 
can really degrade us, so there is nothing but sin, that 
calls for real humility. It belongs not to innocent, 
but only to guilty creatures, to humble themselves. 
Sinners have forfeited their natural rank among the 
creatures of God, and ought to abase themselves be- 
fore him. This always appears perfectly proper to 
true penitents, who are sensible of their ill desert, and 
have correspondent feelings towards themselves, and 
towards God, whom they have injured and offended. 
And nov/, if we look into Scripture, we shall tind 
humility there represented as founded in guilt, and 
consisting in self-abasement. In the twenty sixth 
chapter of Leviticus, God said concerning Israel in 
case they should prove disobedient and forfeit his fa- 
vour, "If then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled^ 
and they accept the punishment of their iniquity: 
then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and 
also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant 

316 SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 

with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember 
the land." It appears froDi this divine declaration, 
that humility is occasioned by guilt, and consists in 
self-abasement, or the voluntary accepting of the pun- 
ishment due to sin. To such a spirit God always 
brings sinners, when he renews their hearts and pre- 
pares them for mercy. The prophet speaking of a 
time of general reformation says, ''The lofty looks of 
man shqjl be humbled, and the haughtiness of men 
shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be ex- 
alted in that day." These representations of humility 
may be illustrated, by various examples recorded in the 
Old and New Testament. Jacob felt that humility, 
which consists in self-abasement, when he said unto 
God, "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, 
and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy 

David exercised that humility, which consists in 
self-abasement, under a sense of what he had deserved 
at the hand of God for numbering the people. When 
^ he saw the angel of the Lord brandishing his sword 
over Jerusalem, he inmibly said unto God, "Is it not 
I that commanded the people to be numbered? even 
I it is that have sinned; but as for these sheep what 
have they done? Let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord 
my God, be on me, and on my father's house." This 
was real and deep humiliation for sin. It was volun- 
tary sinking down as low as God should please to 
abase him. Job felt and expressed the same self-abas- 
ing spirit under the chastizing hand of God. In the 
depth of his complicated afflictions he said, "Naked 
came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I 
return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath 
taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord." And 
when he was reproached for such self-abasement, he 

SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 317 

pertinently replied, "Shall we receive good at the hand 
of God, and shall we not receive evil?" This shows, 
that his humiliation flowed from a sense of guilt and 
unwoithiness in the sight of God. Our Saviour him- 
self set up the pub!ica.n's prayer as a proper example 
of that humility, wiiich becomes a sinner, and which 
will always meet the divine approbation. While the 
Pharisee boasted of liis innocence and goodness, the 
Publican confessed his guilt, and humbly cried, '^God 
be merciful to me a sinner." This man was accepted, 
and the other rejected. This man was willingi to 
abase himself, but the other exalted himself. Tliis 
man was humble, but the other was proud and self- 
righteous. The prodigal son, when he came to him- 
self, felt the spirit and spoke the language of real 
humility. He said to himself, "I will arise, and go to 
my father, and will say unto him, I have sinned 
against heaven and before thee, and I am no more 
worthy to be called thy son, make me as one of thy 
hired servants." He freely confessed, that he had sin- 
ned, that he had sunk his character, that he had de- 
graded himself below the rank of a son, and therefore 
declared, that he was willing to take the low and igno- 
ble place of a servant. Paul was a very humble man, 
and his humility consisted in self-abasement for sin. 
Once he says, "He is less than the least of all saints;" 
by which he meant, that he was the most guilty and 
ill-deserving in the sight of God. So he explains this 
seeming paradox in another passage. "For I am the 
least of all the apostles, that am not meet to be cak 
led an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his 
grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; 
but I laboured more abundantly than they all." Here 
it is very evident, that Paul's humility did not arise 

318 SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14, 

from ignorance of his own superior talents and Services. 
He does not pretend, that he had less knowledge, or 
less grace, than the other apostles; but only that he 
had m»re guilt, because he persecuted the followers of 
Christ. And on this account, he was undoubtedly 
the most guilty and unworthy of all the apostles, and 
ought to lie the lowest before God, which he has done, 
and will do to all eternity. Having shown what it is 
for sinners to humble themselves before God, I proceed 
to show, 

II. That they must do this, in order to obtain par- 
doning mercy. 

Our Saviour declares, that "he that humbleth him- 
self shall be exalted," meaning that none but such as 
humble themselves shall obtain pardon and acceptance 
in the sight of God. For he says in the conclusion 
of the parable, '"This man," meaning the humble pub- 
lican, " went down to his house justified," pardoned 
and accepted, "rather than the other: for every one 
that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that 
humbleth himself shall be exalted." The whole cur- 
rent of Scripture teaches sinners, that they must hum- 
ble themselves before God, in order to find favour in 
his sight. The apostle says to them, "Humble your- 
selves under the mighty hand of God, that he may 
exalt you in due time." David declares, "The Lord is 
nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and such 
as be of a contrite spirit. The sacrifices of God are a 
broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, 
thou wilt not despise." And "thus saith the high and 
lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is 
holy; 1 dwell in the high and holy place, with 
him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, 
to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the 
heart of the contrite ones." There is a propriety, and 

SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 319 

even necessity of sinners exercising such humility or 
self-abasement, in order to obtain divine mercy. For, 
1. God cannot consistently receive them into his 
favour before they voluntarily humble themselves for 
their transgressions in his sight. They have hated, 
disobeyed, and opposed him, without a cause. They 
have despised and rejected the Son of his love. They 
have grieved and quenched his holy Spirit. They 
have abused his goodness and forbearance, and ren- 
dered themselves objects of his holy displeasure. He 
cannot, therefore, consistently with the purity of his 
nature and the dignity of his character, receive them 
into his special favour, until they freely and of their 
own accord abase themselves before him. Though 
Christ has made atonement for their sins, so that jus- 
tice may be displayed in their forgiveness; yet God 
cannot forgive them, consistently with his honour and 
dignitj^ until they freely and voluntarily take their 
proper places before their righteous and injured Sove- 
reign. This is agreeable to the common sentiment 
of mankind, in regard to the proper conduct of the 
offended towards offenders. The prince will not for- 
give the subject, the superior will not forgive the in- 
ferior, nor will any person forgive another, until the 
offender manifest humiliation and self-abasement. 
And it much less becomes the supreme Majesty of 
heaven, to forgive the transgressor, until he humble? 
himself before him, and sincerely cries like the publi- 
can, "God be merciful to me a sinner." If God should 
return to sinners before they return to him, he 
would humble himself before them, instead of theit 
humbling themselves before him. He cannot deny 
himself nor give his glory to another. He can no 
more act below his dignity, than he can act contrary 
to his wisdom, holiness, or justice. There is, there- 

.S20 SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 

fore, a moral necessity of sinners humbling themselvef< 
before him, in order to obtain his special ^nd everlast- 
ing favour. Besides, 

2. It is impossible for sinners to receive divine mer- 
cy, before they take their proper places, and are willing 
to sink as low as divine justice can sink them. If it 
were possible for God consistently to pardon and re- 
ceive them into his favour, before they humble them- 
selves for their sins, yet they could not receive pardon 
and acceptance from the hand of God, as an expres- 
sion of mere mercy. God cannot shew mercy in par- 
doning, where he cannot shew justice in punishing. 
If God cannot justly punish sinners forever for their 
sins, then he cannot display mercy in saving them from 
everlasting punishment. And if sinners^ do not see 
and approve of his justice in punishing them, they 
cannot see and cordially acknowledge his mercy in 
pardoning their transgressions, and saving them from 
future and eternal misery. It is true, they might be 
glad, if God would not inflict upon them an unjust 
and undeserved punishment, but they could not con- 
sider his withholding punishment as an act of mercy. 
It is, therefore, indispensably necessary, that they should 
humble themselves in his sight, before he lifts them up. 
They must voluntarily sink themselves, before they 
can submissively desire him to save them from sinking 
forever under his just displeasure. They must of their 
own accord lay their necks on the block, before they 
can sincerely plead to be saved from death. Though 
they can, while totally unhumbled, talk about the 
mercy of God, and in words plead for mercy; yet they 
cannot cordially accept of his mercy, until they see 
and love his justice, and freely resign themselves into 
his hands, to save or destroy, as shall be most for his 
glory. The humility, which God requires of sinners, 

SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 321 

as the condition of pardoning mercy, is not an arbitra- 
ry, but an indispensable condition. It is founded in 
the character of sinners, and cannot be separated from 
them. Their guilt calls for humility, and they cannot 
be released from exercising it, if they are eventually 
saved. Mercy cannot come to them in any other 
chaimel, than that of humility, because God cannot 
grant, and they cannot receive mercy, before their 
hearts are humbled. And there is no humility but 
that which consists in self-abasement; which can pre* 
pare them to receive mere mercy from the hand of 
God, who may in strict justice doom them to everlast- 
ing destruction. 


1. If humility essentially consists in self-abasemenfc 
for sin; then we may safely suppose, that neither God 
the Father, nor the Lord Jesus Christ ever exercised any 
affection, which may be strictly called humility. These 
divine persons never had tlic least occasion of humbling 
themselves for any unwise, or unholy, or improper 
conduct towards any created or uncreated object in 
the universe. David, indeed, under a lively and sol- 
emn sense of the divine Majesty, exclaims, "Who is 
like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high! 
Who humbJefh himself to behold the things that are 
in heaven, and in the ea! th!" These expressions natu- 
rally convey the idea of condescension^ which is stoop- 
ing; but not the idea of humility, which is degrading. 
It becomes the supreme Being to condescend or stoo{4 
to his creatures, but not to abase or degrade himself 
before them. And as it was the design ot the Psalmist 
to exalt, and not to degrade the Deity, we ought to 
interpret his expressions agreeably to hs plain and ob- 
vious meaning. These observation^ will equally apply 

322 SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14 

to and explain what the Apostle says concerning the 
humiliation of Christ. "Let this mind be in you which 
was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of 
God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; 
but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him 
the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness 
of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he 
humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, 
even the death of the cross " It was indeed a glori- 
ous act of condescension in Christ, who was equal 
with the Father, to obey his will, and suffer and die, 
not for his own sins, but for the sins of the world. 
Though divine condescension and human condescen- 
sion are the same species of holy affection; yet neither 
divine nor human condescension is the same species of 
affection, as self-abasement. Strict and proper humil- 
ity, therefore, may not be ascribed to God or Christ, 
but only to penitent and self-abased sinners. 

2. If humility consists in self abasement, we may 
clearly see how low sinners must lie before God, in 
order to obtain his pardoning mercy. It is generally 
believed, that they must humble themselves in some 
measure; but it is a serious and interesting question, 
how low they must fall before their injured and offend- 
ed Sovereign. Some evangelical and experimental 
writers have maintained, that they ought to lie as low 
as their sins deserve, and to be willing that God should 
treat them according to their demerit. But it seems 
to be the more common opinion of great and pious 
^divines, that sinners are not obliged to lie so deeply 
abased before God. These two opinions are not only 
diverse from, but directly opposite to each other, be- 
cause there is no medium between sinners being will- 
ing, or unwilling, to suffer the ^ue punishment of their 
sins. The plain and important quesiion now is, which 

SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 323 

#f these opposite opinions is agreeable to truth. It 
appears from what has been said in this discourse, that 
sinners ought to abase themselves befoie God for their 
sin, and that they ought to abase themselves as low as 
their sin deserves. And what sin deserves, let the As- 
sembly of divines say. '-Sin deserves God^s wrath 
and curse both in this life, and in that which is to 
come." This answer agrees with what the inspired 
writers say upon the subject. The apottle declares, 
^'The wages of sin is death." And our Saviour says^ 
that he will adjudge the finally impenitent to this pun- 
ishment at the last day. "Depart from me, ye accurs- 
ed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his 
angels." Such a punishment every sin deserves, and 
such a ptinishment every finally impenitent sinner must 
forever suffer. AH penitent and self-abased sinnere 
must, therefore, be willing to suffer the wrath andi'Airse 
of God forever. But still it may be inquired what is 
implied in this willingness. It does not imply love to 
pain or misery, but only a love to that benevolent jus- 
tice, which inflicts it. All the impenitent at the day 
of judgment, will see the justice of God in casting 
them off forever, while their hearts will rise in enmity 
against their holy andrighteous Judge, for giving them 
the due reward of their deeds. Bitt those who are 
abased for sin, loi'e that justice of God, which they 
see and feel would be displayed, if he should actually 
treat them according to their demerit. They are, there- 
fore, willing that God should glorify himself by them, 
either by making them happy, or making them mis- 
erable forever. Though they ardently desire to be 
saved; yet they are willing to give up their own per- 
sonal good, if the glory of God, which is an infinitely 
greater good, requires it. Such a willingness, that God 
siiould dispose of them for his own glory, is absoluteljjf 

S24 SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 

necessary, in order to accept of pardoning mercy, and, 
indeed, in order to enjoy the happiness of heaven. 
For how could they be happy in seeing God treat other 
sinners according to their deserts, if they were never 
willinsf that he should treat them in the same manner? 
Or how could they say, "Amen, Alleluia," while they 
&aw^ "the smoke of the torments of the damned ascend- 
ing forever and ever," if they were never willing to lie 
down in everlasting sorrow? 

Judas and Paul were once both sinners and deserv- 
ed to be destroyed; Judas for betraying Christ; and 
Paul for persecuting him in his foUoweis. But Paul 
was saved and Judas was rejected. Suppose, these 
two remarkable persons should meet, and Judas should 
ask Paul, whether he was ever willing that God should 
cast him off, and treat him according to his deserts? 
What answer can we suppose, that Paul would give 
to tills pertinent and solemn question? He must say, 
plther that he was, or that he was not, willing that 
God should cast him off forever. If he should say, 
that he r.ever was willing that God should cast him 
off forever; would not Judas reply, Paul, you and I 
are perfectly agreed in our sentiments and feelings up- 
on this solemn subject, for 1 was never willing, that 
God should cast me off forever. There is only a cir- 
cumstantial difference between us. Let God only put 
me in your place, and you in my place, and I shall 
love and praise him as you do, and you will hate and 
blaspheme him as I do. Could Paul deny these con- 
sequences of being unwilling to be cast off forever? 
But if Paul should say to Judas. I remember the time, 
when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 
I then said, the law is holy, and the commaiidment 
holy and just and good. And ever since that time, I 
have delighted in the law of God after the inward 

SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 325 

man; and I still delight in it, and would, with my pres- 
ent feelings, delight in it, if I were fixed in your place 
forever. My heart is essentially different from what 
it was once, and what yours always was and always 
will be. I know what it was to be m a condemned 
state, and to love God for condemning me, I can there- 
fore love God for condemning you as he condemned 
me, and for casting you off forever, as he might have 
justly cast me off forever. It is because I have thus 
cordially accepted the punishment of my iniquity, that 
I can say, that it is by the grace of God, that I am 
what I am, and where I am. So low Paul abased 
himself, and so low must every one abase himself, in 
order to be finally exalted. 

3. If humility consists in a fnee and voluntary self- 
abasement for sin, then it is the most amiable and shin- 
ing exercise of a holy heart. The truly humble per- 
son lies as low as he deserves to lie, and takes his 
proper place, as a sinner, freely and of his own ac- 
cord. This is exercising a more amiable and self- 
denying spirit, than any innocent creature ever did, 
or ever can exercise. It appears amiaWe and beauti- 
ful in the principalities and powers above to fall down 
in cheerful and unreserved submission before the su- 
preme Majesty of heaven and earth; but it appears 
much more beautiful and amiable in Adam, Abiaham, 
Moses, Samuel and the prophets, Paul and the Apos- 
tles, to fall down in cheerful self-abasement beibre the 
throne of divine grace, and ascribe their salvation 
wholly to Him who was slain, and redeemed them un- 
to God by his blood. The humility of all who finally 
reach the kingdom of glory, will be the most beautiful 
trait in their character, and render them the most amia- 
ble in the eyes of all the pure and innocent spirits, who 

320 SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 1 4. 

have always been joyfully employed in the service of 
their Maker. 

Finally, it appears from this whole discourse, that 
nothing short of real, cordial self abasement can quali- 
fy any of our sinful race, to obtain and enjoy the hap- 
piness of heaven. Many have desired and endeavour- 
ed to get to heaven, without performing the mortifying 
duty of self abasement. The Pharisee who went up 
to the temple to pray, trusted in himself that he was 
righteous, and should obtain salvation, by his mere 
external duties of religion and morality. Paul once 
built his hopes of heaven upon his blameless, beauti- 
ful, self-righteous conduct. But the Pharisee was 
rejected, and Paul was disappointed. 

It is utterly in vain for impenitent and unhumbled 
sinners to hope, that any of their desires, or prayers, 
or self-righteousness, v»'ill qualify them for the favour 
and enjoyment of God. Every thing they say, desire, 
or do, while destitute of humility, is nothing but self- 
exaltation, which is diametrically opposite to a holy 
and heavenly spirit. God knows the proud afar off, 
and will never admit them to dwell in his presence. 
Sinners must be clothed with humility, before God 
will exalt them to his heavenly kingdom, and before 
they can possibly be happy there. 

It IS therefore the present indispensable duty of all 
jself-righteous and self-confident sinners to humble 
themselves before God. Upon this necessary and con- 
descending condition, he will save them from ruin and 
exalt them to glory. And surely those who have in-* 
jured and offended him, by their groundless disaffec- 
tion to his character, and disobedience to his law, ought 
to humble themselves deeply before him, and plead for 
his pardoning mercy. And if they will only give up 
all their self-righteous and self-justifying pleas, ^nd 

SERMON XVIII. Luke xviii, 14. 327 

humbly cry with the poor Publican, "God be merciful 
to us sinrers," he \^ ill he ar, and answer, and save them. 
But if they continue to exalt themselves, he will effect- 
ually humble them. He has appointed a day, in which 
he will expose all their turpitude and guilt to the view 
of the whole universe. He has appointed a Judge to 
condemn them, and doom them to everlasting shame 
and contempt. And to complete their humiliation, he 
has appointed a song of triumph to be sung over them 
to all eternity. And can their hands be strong, or their 
hearts endure, in the day.tha God shall thus deal with 
them? No, they must sink down into everlasting des- 
pair. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the 
living God, who will render vengeance to his enemies, 
^nd reward them that hate him! 



Isaiah xlv, 4^ 5. 
For Jacob my servants sake, and Israel mine elect, I 

have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed 

thee, though thou hast not known me. 
I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no god 

beside me. I girded the^, though thou hast not 

known me. 

MANKIND have always been extremely prone to 
overlook the Imnd of God in those events, which he 
has brought to pass by the instrumentality of subordi- 
nate agents. This has often led them to feel and to 
conduct very improperly under the dispensations of 
divine providence. To rectify and prevent such a 
great practical errour, God has been pleased, time after 
time, to predict some of the most important revolu- 
tions in the civil and religious world, and to name or 
describe the principal agents, by whom they were to 
be effected. He foretold the descent of Jacob and his 
family into Egypt, and their preservation there, by the 
agency of Joseph. He foretold the suppression of 
idolatry among his degenerate people, by tile exertions 
of Josiah. And in a later period of the Jewish nation, 
he foretold their long and distressing captivity in Baby- 
lon, and their happy deliverance, by the instrumental- 
ity of a Pagan prince. To the character and conduct 
of this illustrious personage our text has immediate 
reference. The prediction is truly solemn and sublime, 

* Preached on the occasion of the death of General Wash* 
tKGTON. January 50, ISOO. 

SERMON XIX. ISA. xlv, 4, 5. 329 

becoming the majesty of the God of Israel and the 
Supreme Sovereign of the universe. "Thus saith the 
Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I 
have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will 
loose the loins of kings; to open before him the two- 
leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut. I will 
go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: 
I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sun- 
der the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures 
of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that 
thou mayest know that I the Lord, which will call thee 
by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my 
servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even call- 
ed thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though 
thou hast not known me. I am the Lord, and there 
is none else, there is no god beside me: I girded thee, 
though thou hast not known me." 

This Cyrus was the son of Cambyses, king of Persia, 
and of Mandana, the daughter of Astyages, king of 
Media. He early discovered something great and no- 
ble in his nature; and as he advanced in years, he more 
than answered the raised expectations, which his ex- 
traordinary virtues and talents had excited. He main- 
tained, through a vast variety of scenes, an entire uni- 
formity of character, and never differed from himself, 
only in that growing greatness, w hich finally placed 
him in the first rank of the first men in the world. 
This great man God was pleased to name, near two 
hundred years before he was born, as the piincipal 
agent, by whom he intended to deliyer his chosen peo- 
ple from their wretched state of captivity, and to pun- 
ish their powerful and cruel oppressors. Accordingly, 
in the course of his particular providence over the 
kingdoms of men, he raised up C^tus to the zenith of 
human power and greatness, and made him the free, 

SERMON XIX. IsA. xlv, 4, 5 

voluntary instrument of promoting the cause of religion^ 
and the happiness of the world. Hence it appears 
from this prediction, taken in connexion with its won- 
derful accomplishment. 

That God justly claims a sovereign right, to make 
great men the instruments of executing his wise and 
benevolent desions. 

To illustrate this sentiment, and to impress it upon 
your minds, my hearers, will be the business of the 
ensuino- discourse. 

God claims a supreme right to the services of great 
men, in almost every page of his word. How often 
do we hear him saying of this, of that, and of the oth- 
er great character, he is my servant^ How often do 
we meet with this sovereign language, my servant 
Moses? my servant Job? my servant Jacob? my 
servant Israel? my servant Isaiah? my servant Ne- 
buchadnezzar? By such a mode of speaking, God 
holds up his sovereign right to employ great men just 
a& he pleases, in executing the designs of his provi 
dence. But he more fully displays this prerogative, 
by publishing to the world what great men shall do, 
befoi'e they are brought into being. He claimed the 
services of Solomon, the vasest of men, and appointed 
the business of his life, before he was born. Thus he 
addressed his royal father. '*Behold a son shall be 
born unto thee, who shall be a man of rest, and I will 
give him rest from all his enemies round about: for 
his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and 
quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an 
house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I 
will be his father; and I will establish the throne of 
his kingdom over Israel forever." In the prediction 
concerning Nebuchadnezzar, God claimed a sovereign 
right to employ him as the minister of his vengeance^ 

SERMON XIX. IsA. xlv, 4, 5. g31 

in punishing the people of his wrath. He asserted hi^ 
absolute divinity and sovereignty, in his prophetic ad- 
dress to Cyrus. "I am the Lord, and there is none 
else, there is no god beside me. I girded thee, though 
thou hast not known me." And he displayed the 
same sovereign right to the powers and influence of 
great men, in his predictions of Alexander the great, 
of Augustus Caesar, of John the Baptist, the forerunner 
of Christ, of Constantine the great, of Mahomet, and 
of the man of sin. The Bible abounds in predictions 
of future events, to be brought about by the instru^- 
mentality of moral agents; and in all such predictions, 
God has made an absolute claim to the services of 
those, whom he has appointed to fulfil them. 

It now appears sufficiently plain, we trust, that Go4 
does claim a sovereign right, to make great men the in- 
struments of executing his wise and benevolent de- 
signs; but our doctrine further asserts, that this claiai 
is absolutely just. We are now come to the most im- 
portant branch of our subject. And in order to make 
it appear, that God justly claims the high prerogative 
of making great men the instruments of doing great 
good in the world, permit me to observe, 

1. That he gives them their superior natural ca- 
pacity of doing good. He inspires them with that 
bright and glowing genius, \^'hich is the essence of 
mental greatness, and which distinguishes them from 
the general mass of mankind. As one star differs 
from another star in glory, so one man difters froni 
another in the original frame and strength of his mind, 
There is convincing evidence, that this difference ii^ 
the intellectual powers of men is not the fruit of culti- 
vation and improvement, but the peculiar gift of 
Heaven. A great and capacious mind often makeg 
an early appearance, before secondary causes have 

33S SERMON XIX. Isa. xlv, 4, 5. 

time to operate upon it. This was observable in Cyrus. 
Even in his childhood, he discovered an uncommonly 
strong and elevated genius, which excited the atten- 
tion and admiration of the best judges of the human 
understanding. Hence we may justly conclude, the 
Father of spirits formed his mind, and endowed it with 
those great and astonishing talents, which he displayed 
in the course of his extensively useful and important 
life. In the same manner, God furnishes all great 
men, with all their natural powers and abilities to do 
great and noble actions. 

2. He presides over their education, and gives them 
the means of improving their superior talents, and 
forming themselves for eminent usefulness. There is 
reason to think, that a vast many minds of the first 
magnitude have been buried in obscurity, for the want 
of proper education and refinement. Had Solomon 
or Socrates been denied the means of refining and in- 
vigorating their original talents, it is altogether proba- 
ble, that they never would have arisen to that peculiar 
pre-eminence, which they will justly, and always hold 
in the great family of man. Hence, in forming great 
men, God takes particular care, that they shall receive 
such an education, as will best qualify them for their 
high stations in society. This appears from one or 
two memorable instances. Moses was the appointed 
instrument of delivering his nation from the depression 
and misery of bondage. And though in his infancy 
he discovered a lovely mind in a beautiful body; yet 
God saw it necessary that both should be refined in 
the court of Pharaoh. And God took particular care 
of the education of Cyrus. He placed and kept him 
under the instruction of his father Cambyses, who 
early instilled into his mind the principles of sobriety, 
temperance, and every other moral virtue. This vir- 

SERMON XIX. IsA. xlv, 4, 5. 333 

tuous education proved an effectual guard against that 
luxury, prodigality, and dissipation, to which he was 
exposed at twelve years old, in the court of Persia. 
Though his grandfather and his nobility united their 
efforts to eradicate his virtuous habits, and corrupt his 
morals; yet they could make no impression upon him. 
He despised their customs and manners, and resolved 
to escape their pernicious influence, by taking shelter 
under the authority and example of his virtuous father. 
Here he pursued his studies, and collected a large 
store of that general knowledge of human nature and 
the affairs of the world, which eminently qualified him 
for that exalted sphere, in which he was ordained to 
move. As God had anointed and set him apart for 
himself; so he presided over every part of his educa- 
tion, and adapted it to the designs of his providence. 
This is one step, which God always takes, in making 
great men the instruments of great good. 

3. God gives them the disposition, which they at 
any time have, to employ their superior abilities, in 
promoting the happiness of mankind. We read, "the 
king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers 
of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." And 
we are told, ''the preparations of the heart in man, and 
the answer of the tongue is from the Lord." God 
constantly superintends great men, and guides all the 
motions of their hearts. He gave Cyrus his amiable 
disposition, as well as his great abilities. He put it 
into his heart to devise, adopt, and prosecute the great 
designs of subduing and delivering nations. And he 
always exercises the same supreme control over the 
affections, views, and pursuits of those, whom he em- 
ploys in executing the wise and benevolent designs of 
providence. Without exercising this sovereign domin- 
ion over the secret springs of action in great men, he 

334 SERMON XIX. Isa. xlv, 4, 5. 

could not justly claim the prerogative of making them 
his sword, his rod, his staff, or his shepherds. Great 
men -'are not sufficient of themselves, to think any 
thing as of themselves; but their sufficiency is of God." 
He gives them that amiable disposition, which prompts 
them, to seek the general welfare ot a society, country, 
or nation; and which renders them the objects of gen- 
eral admiration, esteem, and affection. In order to do 
great good, great men must have the love and confi- 
dence of great numbers. Cyrus was the idol of his 
country, of his friends, and of his foes. By his amia- 
ble manners, and friendly conduct, he captivated the 
hearts of high and low, and drew whole armies over 
to his side. This was of the Lord's doing, and absor 
lutely necessary, to enable him to execute the designs 
of Heaven. 

4. God gives great men the opportunity of employ^ 
ing all their power and influence, in executing his wise 
and benevolent designs. Men may possess great tal- 
ents, and yet never fmd a proper opportunity of dis- 
playing them to the best advantage. There must be 
an extraordinary concurrence of circumstances, in or- 
der to give great men a proper sphere of action. It is 
only now and then, that a scene opens, to draw forth 
the latent energies of a great mind. In the history of 
the world, we find a few such scenes. There was a 
time, when God gave one man an opportunity of sav- 
ing not only his family, but his race. This was the 
time of the flood, when Noah was made the father 
and Saviour of the world. There was a time, when 
whole nations were to be destroyed, to pave the way 
for the deliverance and prosperity of the church. That 
was the time of Moses, and that was the opportunity, 
which God gave him to display all his greatness. God 
appointed a time to destroy the eflgcoies of Jbischog^fl 

SERMON XIX. IsA. xlv, 4, 5. 335 

people, and strike an awe upon surrounding kingdoms. 
That was the time of David's glory and triumph. 
There was a time when a single man had meditated 
and well nigh accomplished a design of destroying the 
whole body of the Jews. That was the time to dis- 
play the power and virtue of Meidecai. To add no 
more, there was a time, when a small nation, of about 
an hundred and twenty thousand men, were to gain 
the empire of the world. This amazing scene was 
reserved for Cyrus; and gave him an opportunity of 
displaying all his virtues and talents, and of transmit- 
ting the fame of both to the latest posterity. The 
hand of God is always concerned, not only in giving 
great men their talents, but also in giving them proper 
opportunities of exerting them in the service of their 
Maiier and of their fellow men. Nor is this all. For, 
.5. It is God who succeeds their exertions for the 
benefit of the world. In this respect, he claims a su- 
preme control over the conduct of the greatest kings^ 
statesmen, and warriors. He claims to be the Lord 
of lords and King of kings; and assumes the preroga- 
tive of giving the kingdoms of men to whomsoever he 
will. Abraham could not have founded a nation, 
unless God had been with him, and prospered him 
wherever he went. Joseph could not have preserved 
the Egyptians and his father's family from perishing 
by famine, had not God been with him, and succeeded 
his great and benevolent exertions. It was God who 
taught David's hands to war, and his fingers to fight; 
and who gave him his victories over the enemies of 
the church. But the divine agency appears the most 
conspicuous in the astonishing successes of Cyrus. To 
an eye of reason, it must appear next to impossible, 
that he should ever march an army to the walls of 
Babylon; and absolutely impossible that he should 

^S6 SERMON XIX. Isa. xlv, 4, 5. 

ever enter that city, which was the metropolis of the 
world, and which both nature and art had combined 
to render impregnable. But his enterprising spirit 
formed the great design, and God rendered his mighty 
efforts successful. This signal success God granted to 
Cyrus, on purpose to display his real divinity, and ab- 
solute sovereignty over the kingdoms and nations of 
the earth. Such an entire superintendency over the 
movements of Cyrus, God expressly claims in the 
prediction of his victorious arms. "Thus saith the 
Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I 
have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will 
loose the loins of kings, to open before him the 
two-leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut. 
I will go before thee, and make the crooked places 
straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and 
cut in sunder the bars of iron. I am the Lord, and 
there is none el^e, there is no god beside me: I girded 
thee, though thou hast not known me." It always 
equally depends upon God, whether great men, with 
all their shining talents, and superior abilities, shall 
succeed in any of their great and important enterprises. 
So that in all cases, God may justly claim the prerog- 
ative of making them the instruments of executing 
his own wise and benevolent designs. 

The thoughts, which have been suggested upon this 
subject, are not, we trust, altogether foreign to the 
great occasion, which has called us into the house of 
God, at tliis time. We are professedly convened to 
pay public respect to the memory of that Great Man, 
who has lately fallen in our Israel. And certainly we 
have just ground to lament the decease of fVashing- 
fon the Great. This character of right belongs to 
him. Great men have always been very rare in our 
world. Not one in a century, not one in a million 

SERMON XIX. IsA. xlv, 4, 5. 337 

of mankind, has ever appeared. Though there have been 
many shining characters, in the various learned profes- 
sions; yet none of these, however acute their genius, or 
however extensive their learning and information, have 
deserved to be called great. A profession always 
cramps the genius, circumsciibes the sphere of action, 
and stamps a littleness upon any human character. A 
great ma^^ above learning, and every learned profes- 
sion. H^iust be an independent Citizen, and have 
a full scope for the display of all his mental powers. 
He must be either a Statesman, or Warrior. In this 
capacity, he. may found, or rule, or save a nation; and 
thereby establish a character, more durable than mar- 
ble, and as lasting as the page of history. In our 
Washington both the Statesman and the Warrior were 
united, in the former character, he held an elevated 
rank; but in the latter, he shone without a rival, and 
even eclipsed the greatest captains of antiquity. God 
gave him a graceful figuie, and a noble, commanding 
aspect. He put him in possession of a large, independ- 
ent landed interest, whi--h placed him in the first rank 
of citizens, inspired him with the love of liberty, crea- 
ted an aversion to tyranny, and effectually guarded him 
against the corrupting influence of places and pensions. 
Entirely free from the subtilties of law, the intrigues of 
a court, and the schemes of ambition, he lived greatly 
independent. In this most eligible situation, he stood 
prepared to hear and to obey the calls of his country. 
Possessed of a strong and capacious mind, which was 
able to devise and keep its own counsels, he was fitted 
to stand at the head of an army and at the head of a 
nation, and to maintain a controlling influence in both 
the cabinet and the field. Such an inlluencc, it appears 
from the' papers that have been published, he actually 
did maintain, during the whole course of the Ameri- 

338 SERMON XIX. Isa. xlv, 4, 5: 

can war. He first formed his army, by diffusing a mil- 
itary spirit, and establishing military order and subor- 
dination through the whole. He next concerted his 
plans of operation, and provided the means of carrying 
them into effect. And in order to this, he found it 
necessary to superintend the grand council of the na- 
tion, and often to direct their most important measures. 
For a number of years, Washington wasjhe soul of 
America, and, by his superior wisdom aSi weight of 
character, he absolutely governed thirteen professedly 
united, but actually disunited States. In this momen- 
tous situation, while he carried in his hand the fate of 
in ore than three millions of people, he displayed the 
astonishing resources of his mighty mind. At one and 
the same time he attended to a multiplicity of great 
and interesting objects. While he directed the move- 
ments of all the American forces, stationed at very dif- 
ferent and very distant posts, he kept a watchful eye 
over the motions of the British army, and all the ma- 
noeuvres of their most skilful and famous generals. In 
the midst of all these weighty, and seemingly over- 
whelming cares and concerns, he stood alone, giving 
advice to all, and receiving assistance from none. 
There was not a man in the world, capable of looking 
further, or directing better, than himself. And here 
let us reflect with admiration and astonishment, that 
he never failed in a single instance, of executing his 
most complicated and important designs. He concert- 
ed the plan of dislodging the enemy from Boston, and 
he executed his purpose. He formed the scheme of 
surprizing and capturing the Hessians at Trenton, and 
he actually took them, by surprise. He conceived, 
concealed, and carried into execution the complicated 
and deep design, of conquering the who • British 
jirniy, at Yorktown. By such masterly strokes of gen- 

SERMON XIX. IsA. xlv. 4, 5. 339 

cralship, he stands the rival of a Cyrus and a Hanni- 
bal, in those very qualities, which they have rendered 
their names immortal. 

This great man, we are now to remember, God 
raised up in mercy to America. God gave him his 
great abilities, together with an opportunity and a dis- 
position, to display them in his country's service. It 
was God who gave him the universal love, the entire 
confidence, and unanimous suffrages of his fellow citi- 
zens. God placed him at the head of our armies, and 
at the helm of our government. God girded his loins, 
directed his counsels, and succeeded his mighty efforts, 
through the cares of the cabinet, and the dangers of the 
field. Let the man be absorbed in his Maker. Let 
fFashington the Great be loved, and admired, but 
never adored. Our first regards are due to Him, who 
made him the instrument of his own glory, and the 
founder of our national independence, and the princi- 
pal promoter of our national peace, prosperity, and 
risinoj greatness. 

As the goodness of God has been displayed, in the 
Life, so his awful and amiable Sovereignty has been 
displayed, in the Death of the Father of our country. 
His life was an host. His sword was the hope of 
America, atid the terrour of all her enemies. But the 
mighty man is fallen, in a day of darkness and of 
doubtful expectation. This great and afflictive event 
has spread a gloom over America, and penetrated every 
grateful patriotic heart in the nation. It has thrown the 
Court, the Camp, and the Navy into tears. It has pierced 
the bosom of our illustrious President, the surviving sup- 
port and glory of his country. It has, in a word, produc- 
ed a more general, a more deep, and a more sincere 
mourning, than was ever, perhaps, produced by the 
the death of any other man in the world. Jesus wept. 

540 SERMON XIX. Is a. xlv. 4, 5. 

Wc may weep. A nation may mourn, but never 
murmur nor despond. This national bereavement 
was designed to throw us into the hand of God, and 
make us feel our absolute dependence on the great first 
Cause. God is still able to raise up instruments to ful- 
fil his purposes towards a people., whom lie has always 
delighted to protect, to increase, and to prosper. If 
we eye his hand in the gift, and submit to his will, in 
the removal, of our late deliverer and benefactor, we 
may humbly hope, that God will never permit us to 
suffer for the want of future statesmen and warriors, 
to guide all our civil and military movements, in de- 
fence of our liberties and our lives. The death of 
Washino;ton is a national trial. If to honour him, we 
rob God of his glory, God will be displeased, and most 
probably our whole nation will be punished. In the 
midst of our national grief, let us conduct like a people, 
who believe the existence, and acknowledge the prov- 
idence, of an infinitely holy, wise, righteous, and benev- 
olent Being. And while we pay a supreme respect to 
him let us gratefully perpetuate the memory of him, 
whose memory ought to be embalmed, and transmit- 
ted to the latest a2;es of time. 

By this, we shall promote the honour of our nation. 
Though there may have been men in Amc. ica, whose 
talents were equal to Washington's, yet they never had 
an opportunity to display them. And though there 
may arise amonjv us men hereaftes", whose talents shall 
be equal to Wasb/iagton's, yet they will never have an 
opportunity to displciy them. Washington, therefore, 
must necessarily be the greatest man, that this quarter 
of the globe ever did, or ever will produce. It is the 
genius,. and not the soil of a country, that renders it 
illustrious. It is the agents in great revolutions, and 
not great revolutions in a nation, that render it famous. 

SERMON XIX. IsA. xlv, 4, 5. 341 

The mighty revolutions in Persia, in Greece, and in 
Rome had long since been lost in oblivion, had they 
not been attached to the immortal names of Cvrus, of 
Alexander and the Csesars. So the virtues, the talents, 
and the mighty deeds ol" Washington, will do more to 
render the Americans famous in the annals of history, 
than all the fruits of his mighty exertions. If we mean 
to stand high among the nations of the earth, we must 
perpetuate the memory of the Founder of our nation. 
By this, we shall also transmit a bright and amiable 
example, for the admiration and imitation of future 
Statesmen and Warriors. There is nothing equal to 
examples, to inspire the minds of young politicians 
and warriors. Alexander formed his character accord- 
ing to the standard of Homer's heroes. That Poem 
he always carried about with him. The life and char- 
acter of Washington may form thousands to shine in 
the cabinet and in the field. This ought to animate 
us to send down the current of time our illustrious 
Washington, with undiminished lustre and glory. And 
I must add, that by doing justice to Washington, we 
shall do honour to God. For our sakes he raised him 
up. For our sakes, he gave him all bis greatness and 
glory. Gratitude to God, wierefore, requires us to 
commemorate his death, admire his character, imitate 
his excellen.'ies, and be watchful of his fame. His 
fame and ours are inseparably united, and both deserve 
our gratitude to Him, who has made us a nation, de- 
fended our liberties, and placed us high above all other 
nations, in civil and religious advantages. Let us, 
therefore, sing aright of mercy as well as judgment, 
and exercise that o-ratitude and submission, v. hich the 
smiles and the frowns of heaven, now loudly demand. 



Job ix, 12. 

Beholdi he taketh away, who can hinder him? who 
will say unto Jiim, what doest thou? 

JOB was afflicted not more for his own benefit, 
than for the benefit of others. God intended his 
scenes of sorrow should draw forth the feelings of his 
heart, and display his true character before the eyes of 
the world. And agreeably to this purpose he directed, 
that both his afflictions and his conduct under them 
should be recorded and transmitted to future aoes 
that mankind might hear of the patience of Job, and 
see the end of the Lord, in his fatherly chastisements. 
His discourses with his friends gave him a good oppor- 
tunity of justifying the sovereignty of God, in the dis- 
pensations of his providence. This was the principal 
subject of dispute between them. They insisted, that 
God treated every man according to his real character, 
in his providential conduct towards him; but he main- 
tained, that God acted as a sovereign, without any 
design of distinguishing his friends from his enemies, 
by outward mercies and aftjictions. Accordingly, in 
the preceding verses, he gives a striking description 
of divine sovereignty, which he owns he had too often 
disregarded, but now most sensibly realized. And in 
the text he seems to admire, that any should not both 
vcalize and cordially submit to the sovereignty of God. 
'^Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who 

* Occasioned by the Death of Deacon Robert GiiLMoBal 

SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 34^ 

wUl say unto him, What doest thou?" These words 
present to our serious consideration this plain truth. 

It is the natural tendency of afflictions to make the 
friends of God realize and submit to his Sovereignty. 

I shall first consider the natural tendency of afflic- 
tions to give the friends of God a realizing sense of 
his sovereignty, and secondly consider the natural 
tendency of this realizing sense of divine sovereignty 
to brins: them to unreserved submission. 

1. Let us consider the natural tendency of afilio* 
lions to give the friends of God a realizing sense of 
his sovereignty. 

This is one of the essential and most amiable attrt- 
butes of the Deity, which he continually displays in 
dispensing both good and evil to mankind. But saints, 
as well as sinners, are very apt to suffer God to pass 
by them unheeded in the course of providence, and to 
forget that he holds them and all their temporal and 
eternal interests in his holy and sovereign hand.. This 
stupidity good men always lament, when they are 
awakened to realize his sovereignty. Job in his af- 
fliction could say, " God is wise in heart, and mighty 
in strength: who hath hardened himself against him^ 
and hath prospered? Who removeth the mountains, 
and they know not: who overturneth them in his 
anger. Who shaketh the earth out of her place, and 
the pillars thereof tremble. Who commandeth the 
sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. Who 
alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadcth upon 
the waves of the sea. Who doeth great things past 
finding out; yea, and wonders without number.-' 
These bright and glorious manifestations of divine 
sovereignty, he tells us in the next verse, he disregarded 
in the days of his prosperity. <'Lo, he goeth by me, 
and J see him not: he passeth on arlso, but / percvH^e 

344 SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 

him noty But when God laid his heavy hand upon 
him, he cries out with great sensibility, 'Behold, he 
taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto 
him, what doe-t thou?" 

Now, afflictions always display the sovereignty of 
God, and of course naturally tend to make his friends 
realize it. No afflictions for the present are joyous 
but grievous, and never in their own nature desirable. 
Whenever God afflicts his children, he displays his 
sovereignty over them, and gives a practical and sen- 
sible evidence, that he has a right to dispose of them 
contrary to their views, their desires, and most tender 
feelings. But, of all afflictions, those which are called 
bereavements, give the clearest display of divine sove* 
reignty, l^hese constrained Job to turn his atteiition 
to this awful and amiable attribute of the Deity. 
"Behold, hefukeih aicay, who can hinder him?" He 
had taken away Job's comforts one after another, un- 
til he had nearly stripped him of every earthly enjoy- 
ment. Though he had given him the bounties of his 
providence in sovereignty; yet he displayed his sove- 
reignty in a clearer and stronger . light, by taking them 
away in such a sudden and unexpected manner. The 
reason of this is obvious. Mankind naturally think 
that they have a right to all they possess. After bles- 
sings are put into their hands, they imagine they have 
'Aright to hold them. They do not make the same 
claim to unbestowed favouis. These they are more 
ready to allow, that God has a right to grant or to de- 
ny. But their children, and friends, and other out- 
ward comforts, w hich are in their possession; they are 
extremely apt to claim as their own. By bereave- 
ments, therefore, God practically declares, that he is 
greater than man; and has a supreme right to take 
away any thing, and even every thing, which he has, 

^SERMON XX. JoBix, 12. 345 

in mere mercy, given him. God means to display his 
sovereignty, in the most sensible manner, to those whom 
he bereaves of enjoyments, to which they were the most 
attached, and to which they laid the strongest claim. 
Hence it is the natural tendency of afflictions, in gen- 
eral, and of bereavements in particular, to make tlie 
friends of God realize his absolute sovereignty. Un- 
der bereavements, the sovereignty of God is the most 
prominent perfection of his nature, and appears to 
comprehend and absorb all his other perfections. It 
meets the afflicted and bereaved, at every corner and 
in every object. It appears to be displayed so plainly 
every where, that they are astonished that they could 
ever overlook it any where. 

Though the friends of God under the smiles of 
providence sometimes lose a sense of divine sovereign- 
ty; yet there is an aptitude in them to realize it, when 
it is clearly displayed by afflictions and bereavements. 
They have had such a lively sense of God's right to 
save, or to destroy their souls forever, that trials, afflic- 
tions, and bereavements naturally revive a realizing 
sense of his sovereignty in giving or taking away any 
inferior favours. I now proceed to show, 

II. That such a realizing sense of the sovereignty 
of God in afflictions, has a natural tendency to excite 
true submission in every pious heart. "Behold, he 
taketh away, who can hinder him?" This expresses a 
lively sense of divine sovereig: ty. -'Who will say 
unto him, What doest thou?" 'i'his equally expresses 
unreserved submission to divine sovereignty. While 
Job rcLilwicd the absjiute sovereignty of God in taking 
away his dearest enjoyments, it appeared so reasona- 
ble and so easy to submit to him, that he seemed to 
think it impossibie for him or any other person to re- 
fuse submission. "Who 'will say ui-to him, What do- 

346 SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 

est thou?" Such a realizing sense of divine sovereign-' 
ty, always has a natural tendency to bring good men 
to unreserved submission, under the correcting hand 
of God. For, 

1. While they realize the nature of his sovereignt}^, 
they cannot help seeing the true ground or reason of 
submission. His sovereignty results from his Supre- 
macy. He is supreme in every natural and moral ex- 
cellence, which gives him an absolute right and pow- 
er to act independently of all other beings in the uni- 
verse. When he acts as a sovereign, he neither solic- 
its their assistance, nor asks their advice, nor consults 
their views, their desires, or their feelings. Hence^his 
sovereignty is omnipotent and irresistible. In the ex- 
ercise of it, he overtuineth and removeth mountains; he 
shaketh the earth out of its place; he stoppeth the sun 
in its course, and sealeth up the stars. "He is in one 
mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul de- 
sireth, even that he doeth." "When he giveth quiet- 
ness, who then can make trouble? and when he hid- 
eth his face, who then can behold him." "Behold, he 
taketh away, who can hinder him?" It must be rea- 
sonable to submit to such omnipotent sovereignty, be- 
cause it is presumption to resist, or to say to him who 
3s mighty in power, "What doest thou?" "Whoever 
hardened himself against him, and prospered?" God 
is wise in heart, and his sovereignty is always exercis- 
ed agreeably to his unerring wisdom. Though he 
does not give to any of his creatures the reasons of 
his conduct; yet he always has good, yea, the best rea- 
sons for his most mysterious and sovereign dispensa- 
tions of providence. He acts in the clear and compre- 
hensive view of all things past, present, and to come. 
It is morally impossible, that he should ever make a 
designed or undesigned mistake, in any of his dealings 

SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 347 

towards his intelligent creatures. His sovereignty con- 
sists in a 'ting from wiser reasons, than the united wis- 
dom of angels and men couid suggest. And surely 
it becomes them to submit their fn.itc to his infinite 
understanding, and their erring to his unerring wis- 
dom. Besides, the sovereignty of God is not only om- 
nipotent and omniscient, but perfectly benevolent. 
God is love, and his love dictates every sovereign act 
of his providence. He is good unto all, and his ten- 
der mercies are over all his works; and as a father 
pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear 
him. He displays paternal tenderness, when he tak- 
eth away, as well as when he giveth. In a word, his 
sovereignty displays the bright assemblage of all his 
natural and moral perfections. It has a natural ten- 
dency, therefore, to bow the hearts of all his friends to 
unreserved submission. It is, indeed, the only thing, 
which lays them under moral obligation to submit to 
his disposing will. If he did not act as a wise, benevo- 
lent, and omnipotent sovereign; or if he were under 
the least influence of any other being, in the dispensa- 
tions of providence, he would not be worthy of their 
cordial and unreserved submission. But when they 
realize the nature and perfection of his sovereignty, 
they are sweetly constrained to feel and say as Job 
did, 'Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord? 
and shall we not receive evil?" 

2. God designs to bring his children to submission, 
when he gives them a realizing sense of his holy and 
righteous sovereignty. He can excite other gracious 
affections in their hearts, by other means. He can 
awaken their love, their gratitude, and praise, by his 
word, or by his ordinances, or by the smiles of his 
providence. But nothing short of a realizing sense of 
his sovereignty under his correcting hand, is suiiicient 

348 SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 

to bring them to submission. Whenever he throws 
them in the dust, sinks them in sorrow, and tears 
from their hearts the dear objects of their affections, 
he means to bring them to a cordial resignation to his 
sovereignty. It is only, if need be, that he ever afflicts 
and bereaves them. But there would be no occasion for 
his throwing them into the furnace of affliction, if any 
thing besides a realizing sense of his sovereignty would 
soften their hearts to submission. And since he makes 
use of this severe method to reduce them to a humble, 
submissive spirit, we may well suppose, that this is 
the method, which has the most natural tendency to 
produce this effect in their hearts. God always em- 
ploys the most proper means to accomplish his own 
designs. It is certain, however, that we cannot con- 
ceive of any thing better adapted to lead saints to sub- 
mission, than a realizing sense of divine sovereignty. 
And it seems that God himself knew of no better 
method to bring his people of old to proper views and 
feelings. "Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Be- 
hold, I will melt them and try them: for how shall I 
do for the daughter of my people?" But it will more 
fully appear, that a realizing sense of the sovereignty of 
God naturally tends to lead his friends to unreserved 
submission, if we consider, 

3. That it has so often produced this desirable effect 
in their hearts. Though they have sometimes murmur- 
ed and repined under afflictions, yet a realizing sense 
of God's sovereign right to dispose of them, has event- 
ually brought them to a cheerful resignation to his 
will. Job no sooner heard of the complicated evils 
brought upon him, than he saw the sovereign hand of 
God in them which instantaneously reduced him to 
perfect resignation. '^Then Job answered and said, 
The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: bles- 

SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 349 

sed be the name of the Lord " Though after this, he 
frequently feit and expressed hard and murmuring 
thoughts of God; yet a realizing view of divine sove- 
reignty as frequently tranquilizcd his mind, and soft- 
ened it into submission. When God demanded, 
"Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct 
him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then 
Job answered the Lord and said, Behold I am vile; 
w^hat shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon 
my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will proceed 
no further," God continues, however, to proclaim 
his sovereignty by a series of pointed and awful inter- 
rogations. "Then Job answered the Lord and said 
again, I know that thou canst do every thing. I have 
heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine 
eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent 
in dust and ashes.'"' Such was the effect of a realizina:: 
sense of God's sovereignty upon the heart of Job; it 
silenced all his objections, restrained all his opposition, 
and prostrated him in silent submission at the foot of 
his Maker. 

When Samuel denounced the displeasure of God 
against Eli, and foretold the dire calamities comina 
upon him, his pious mind instantly turned upon the 
sovereignty of God, which bowed his will to the di- 
vine will. Having heard the dreadful message, which 
was designed to make his ears, and the ears of all Is- 
rael to tingle, he solemnly paused, and then uttered 
these memorable words: "/f is the Lord; let him do 
what seemeth him good.'^ His submission was unre- 
served; he was willing to bear whatever a holy and 
sovereign God should please to lay upon him. 

God bereaved Aaron of two sons in one day, on a 
solemn occasion, and in an awful manner. Though 
his case was distressing beyond description, yet Moses 

350 SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 

admonished him to suppress every token of sorrow, 
and conduct with that calmness and submission, which 
became the dignity of his sacred office. Aaron con- 
ducted accordingly. The account is this. "Then 
Moses said unto Aaron, This is that the liord spake, 
saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, 
and before all the people I will be glorified. And 
Aaron held his peace. ^^ His silence spoke louder than 
words, and emphatically said, "B.-^hold, he taketh 
away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, 
What doest thou? 

God's dealings with the Shunamite wisre designed 
to display his soveieignty and her submission. He 
gave her a son in sovereignty, and in sovereignty took 
him away. When she was suddenly and unexpect- 
edly bereaved of her darling child, she went to the 
man of God for direction and relief. But he declined 
to see her or hear her speak, and sent his servant to 
ask her, "Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy hus- 
band? Is it well with the child? And she answered. It 
is well.^^ She realized, she loved, and she submitted 
to the sovereignty of God. 

A realizing sense of the sovereignty of God in afflict- 
ing and bereaving David, led him to feel and to ex- 
press the genuine spirit of submission. He was able 
to say unto God in the sincerity of his heart, after he 
had gone through the fiery trial, "I was dumb, I open- 
ed not my mouth; because thou didst it.^' 

While Paul was returning from a long journey to 
Jerusalem, a certain prophet named Agabus forewarn- 
ed him of the danger of returning to that city. Where- 
upon all his friends unitedly entreated him to desist 
from his purpose. But he was so entirely reconciled 
to the sovereignty of God in the dispensations of pro- 
vidence, that he reproved and rejected their unsubmis- 

SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 351 

sive advice. "Then Paul answered, What mean ye 
to weep, and to break my heart? for I am ready not 
to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the 
name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be 
persuaded, they ceased, saying, "TAe will of ihe Lord 
be doiie^ Thus the friends ol God, under his afflictive 
and chastising hand, realize his amiable sovereignty, 
which brings them to submit cheerfully and unreserv- 
edly to his disposing will. 

It now remains to improve and apply the subject. 

1 . If all afflictions are designed and adopted to bring 
men to a cordial submission to divine sovereignty; then 
all true submission must be in its own nature absolute 
and unreserved. It must be like the object upon which 
it terminates, or towards which it is exercised. The 
sovereignty of God, which results from his absolute 
Supremacy, can admit of no limitations. He can no 
more be limited in dispensing evil, than in dispensing 
good, to mankind. He has an equal and unlimited 
right to dispose of every one of the human race, and 
to order the outward circumstances of every person in 
the world, just as he pleases. He may send prosperity 
to one, and adversity to another. He may afflict the 
rich or the poor, the high or the low, the godly or un- 
godly, in what way, or in what measure, he sees best. 
Where he has given much, there he may take away 
much. Those whom he has distinguished by great 
favours, he may distinguish by as great afflictions. His 
right to afflict is entirely unlimited, and of conse- 
quence, all submission under his afflictive hand must 
be absolute and unreserved. The afflicted may never 
say unto him, "What doest thou? nor even desire to 
stay his correcting hand." There can be no reserve 
in submission, because reserve would be, in its own 
nature, an exercise of sovereignty, rather than an excr- 

$52 SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 

cise of resignation. While a person feels truly sub- 
missive to God, he is as really willing that he should 
take away one favour as another, and all that he has 
given him, as a part. For he loves and approves of 
that very sovereignty, which is altogether absolute and 
unlimited. Abraham, in the exercise of submission, 
was as really willing that God should take away Isaac, 
as any other child he had. Eli, in the exercise of sub- 
mission, was as really willing that God should destroy 
the whole, as a part of his family. David, when he 
fled from his son, and relinquished his throne and his 
kingdom, was as really willing that God should de- 
prive him of all, as of a part of these earthly enjoy- 
ments. And our Lord himself, in the exercise of sub- 
mission, was as really willing to die a cruel and igno- 
minious, as any other death. All the friends of God 
are ay really willing that he should afflict them, at one 
time as another, in one way as another, and in the 
highest as well as in the lowest degree. Their sub- 
mission is as unreserved, as his sovereignty is unlimited. 
2. If a realizing sense of the sovereignty of God 
leads his friends to submit to it in this world; then we 
must suppose, that it will lead them to submit to it in 
the world to confe. Divine sovereignty is as unlimit- 
ed in duration, as in extent. It will be displaced in 
time to come, as it has been in time past, and it will 
be far more clearly displayed, when time shall be no 
more. In a future state it will be seen, net only 
in afflicting good and bad men while passing through 
life; but in forming their diametrically opposite char- 
acters, and fitting them for their diametrically different 
conditions through eternity. There all the cbjects of 
divine election, and of divine reprobation, will appear 
together, and in the most striking contrast. Ihere it 
will be seen, that one parent was taken and another 

SERMOx^ XX. Job ix, 12. 356 

left, one child taken and another left, one friend taken 
and another left. There God will confer everlasting 
good upon one person, and inflict everlasting evil upon 
another. There it will appear, that^all the dispensa- 
tions of providence in this world were designed to lay, 
and did actually lay a foundation for endless joy, and 
endless sorrow. And who can doubt whether it will 
not be as trying to a parent, to see a child die an eter- 
nal as a temporal death: or as trying to a child, to see 
a parent die an eternal as a temporal death; or as try- 
ing to a husband, to see a wife die an eternal as a tem- 
poral death; or as trying to a wile, to see a husband 
die an eternal as a temporal death; or as trying to 
a friend, to see a friend die an eternal as a temporal 
death. The final separation of the wicked from the 
righteous, will excite unspeakably higher sensibility in 
their pious heaits, than any separation, bereavement, 
or affliction ever did, while they were passing through 
the fiery trials of their probationary state. And in 
this case it is certain, that their sensibility must be 
either submissive, or unsubmissive. It must not. and 
it cannot be unsubmissive; but it must be, and it will 
be, perfectly submissive. The bright and brightening 
displays of divine sovereignty, w ill perpetually awaken 
and increase their love to it, and sweetly constrain them 
to sing, "Amen, Alleluia," while they are continually 
beholding "the smoke of the torments of the damned 
ascending forever and ever." The friends of God will 
be cordially and unreservedly submissive to his sove- 
reignty, as long as they and he shall exist. 

3. If a realizing sense of divine sovereignty natural- 
ly tends to lead men to an unconditional submission 
to God; then this doctrine ought to be plainly taught 
and inculcated. Many wish, that preachers would 

keep this divine attiibute out of their sight as much a^ 

354 SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 

possible, because it is, of all others, the most offensive 
to their selfish hearts. They are willing to have all 
the natural and moral perfections of the Deity exhibit- 
ed before them, 9o far as it can be done, without bring- 
ing his sovereignty into view. They are willing, that 
God should be almighty, if they might direct the ex- 
ercise of his omnipotence. They are willing, that God 
should be infinitely wise; if they might direct the ex- 
ercise of his wisdom. They are willing, that God 
should be perfectly holy, just, and good, if they might 
direct the exercise of his holiness, justice, and good- 
ness. They are willing, that God should govern the 
whole universe; if they might direct him how to gov- 
ern it for their own benefit. In a word, they are 
willing, that God should exist, and exercise all the 
perfections of his nature, if he would cease to be Sove- 
reign, and suffer himself to be under their controlling"^ 
influence. But this is naturally and morally impossi- 
ble, because he can no more cease to be, or to act as a 
Sovereign, than he can cease to be God. If ministers, 
therefore, would preach in the most instructive and 
profitable manner to saints and sinners, they must ex- 
hibit the sovereignty of God. in the fullest, clearest, and 
strongest light. This is necessary in order to give their 
people just views of the true character of God; and to 
bring them to an unreserved submission to all the dis- 
pensations of providence and grace, which is the great 
end to be answered by preaching. How often does 
God himself say in his word, that he visits mankind 
with signal mercies, and wasting judgments, "that 
they may know that he is the L-ord?" And surely if 
he means to make his sovereignty appear in all his 
conduct; ministers ought not to shun to declare it, in 
all their preaching. They cannot preach any doc- 
trine, which is more perfectly adapted to reach the 

SEUMON XX. Job ix, \2. 355 

hearts and consciences of their hearers, and to prepare 
them to glorify and enjoy God forever. 

4. If afflictions are designed and suited to make men 
realize divine sovereignty; then they always try their 
hearts, whether they are friendly,or unfriendly to God. 
While he pours the blessings of providence into their 
bosoms, and gives them uninterrupted prosperity, they 
are all apt to think, that they love him in sincerity. 
But when he treats them as a Sovereign, and visits 
them with the rod of ai'fliction, then he tries their sin- 
cerity. If they are sincere, they will submit to his 
sovereignty; but if they are insincere, they will hate 
and oppose it. As God never lets men know, whether 
he is afflicting them for their own good, or for their 
neighbour's good, or for their enemies' good, or for the 
general good; so he always means to try their hearts, 
and draw forth their benevolent, or selfish feelings. He 
led his people of old through the wilderness, to try 
them and see what was in their hearts. And the 
means he used answered the end he proposed. His 
friends submitted, but his enemies rebelled. Afflictions 
always produce these different effects in the hearts of 
saints and sinners. Those who sincerely love God 
are willing, that he should answer his own purposes, 
in casting them into the furnace of affliction. They 
feel as he feels. He desires to answer the best ends 
by their afflictions, and they desire the same. They 
feel that unreserved submission to God, that Job felt 
when he said, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in 
him." But when those who are destitute of grace are 
afflicted, and realize, that God designs to give them 
all the pain and anguish they endure, they find that 
they have a carnal mind, which will not submit to 
divine sovereignty. They inwardly say, that he who 
made them shall not reign over them. They would 

d56 SERMON XX. Job ix, IS. 

fain flee out of his hand. Afflictions equally try tlie 
hearts of both the friends and enemies of God, and 
give them the best opportunity to know what mannei" 
of persons they are. 

5. If afflictions are designed and calculated to bring 
the friends of God to a cordial submission to his sove- 
reignty; then they will eventually do them good. 
God always makes the means he uses answer the ends, 
which he intends they shall answer. And he tells us, 
that he means to teach his people to profit by all his 
fatherly chastisements. He says, that all things shall 
work together for good to them that love him. He 
says, that their light afflictions shall work for them a 
far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. He 
assures them, that whom he loveth he chasteneth, and 
scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Though real 
saints sometimes murmur, and complain of God under 
his chastisipjg hand; yet they finally fall at his feet, 
submit to his sovereignty, and become partakers of his 
holiness. Job alternately submitted and murmured, 
but at last, he cheerfully and unreservedly submitted 
to the rectitude and wisdom of the divine conduct to- 
wards him, which answered the very end, that he had 
desired and expected in the days of his adversity. In 
that dark and gloomy season he said, "Behold, I go 
forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I can- 
not perceive him: on the left hand, where he doth 
work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on 
the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth 
the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall 
comefoiih as goldP David gratefully acknowledges, 
that he had found peculiar benefit from the afflictive 
hand of God. "It is good for me that I have been 
afflicted, that 1 might learn thy statutes. Before I was 
afflicted, 1 went astray; but no^v I have kept thy 

SERIMON XX. Job ix, 12. 357 

lA^ord." God luis often reclaimed, puiified, and com- 
forted his children, by means of sore and heavy afllic- 
tions. And it is always to be expected, that they w ill 
all eventually find great spiritual advantage from his 
fatherly cliastisements. This the apostle suggests to 
christians for their consolation under their fieiy ti>als. 
''Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken 
in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering 
affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them 
happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience 
of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the 
Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy " 

Finally, this discourse applies, with peculiar proprie- 
ty, to the Family and Friends of the late Deacon Gill- 
more. We presume, that it was the prayer of ev- 
ery christian, and the desire of every person, in this 
place, that his languishing health might be restored, 
a id his valuable life might be continued for many 
years. He was universally and justly beloved. His 
pea^^eable disposition, his native modesty, his uniform 
piety, and his prudent, inoffensive deportment, gained 
the hearts of this people. Though he was called to 
act in a variety of civil, military, and religious offices; 
yet he so manifestly endeavoured to serve God and 
his generation, that he not only escaped the censure, 
but secured the esteem and approbation of the publick. 
But notwithstanding the prayers and desires of his 
friends and family, God has put a peiiod to his life 
and usefulness, in the midst of his days. It becomes 
us to be dumb, and not open our mouths, because he 
has done it. He has seen better reasons for shortening, 
his life, than we could see for lengthening it out. And, 
perhaps, his principal design in this instance of mortal- 
ity was, to bring us to a cordial and unreserved sub* 
mission to his amiable and absolute sovereignty. 

358 SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. 

It certainly becomes this Church to be humble and 
submissive under the sovereign hand of God, who has 
diminished their number and weakened their strength, 
by taking away a member and officer, whose service 
they not only desired, bat peculiarly needed. As this 
circumstance displays the sovereignty of God, so it 
lays them under peculiar obligations to look to him 
for his special direction in the path of duty. Let it be 
their heart's desire and prayer to God, that he would 
completely repair the breach he has made among 

Not only the Church, but the People, and especial- 
ly those in the meridian of life, ought to be deeply 
affected vvith the death of a man, whose face they be- 
held, whose voice they heard, and whose company 
they enjoyed, with a great deal of pleasure. He has 
taught them how to live, and how to die. He has left 
them an example, which they may follow with safety 
and advantage, by which, though dead, he now speak- 
eth. And whoever will live, as he lived, may hope 
to die as he died, in favour with God and man. 

The bereaved Widow has much occasion to mourn, 
but not to mourn as those who have no hope. She 
has ground to believe, that her dear departed Husband 
has met with the approbation of God, which is infi- 
nitely better than the approbation of man. This is a 
consolation, which ought to melt her heart into grat- 
itude as well as submission, God is giving her an op- 
portunity to realize his sovereignty, and to exercise 
that supreme affection to him, which she has publickly 
professed to have. If she will now keep covenant 
with God, he will keep covenant with her, and grant 
her covenant mercies. As a father pitieth his children, 
so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. If she will 
only cast her burdens upon his arm, she may possess 

SERMON XX. Job ix, 12. S59 

her soul in peace, and humbly hope, that this sore be- 
reavement and fiery trial uill work for her a far more 
exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 

The fatherless Children are capable of feeling and 
duly estimating the great loss they have sustained, by 
the death of a dear and indulgent Parent. Alter 
holding them long in doubtful expectation, God 
has brought upon them the evil they feaied. "He 
has taken away, and they could not hinder him;" and 
will they now presume to say unto him, ''What doest 
thou?" It becomes thern to bow in silent and cordial 
submission to his holy and righteous sovereignty. 
They ought to be than!;ful, that God graciously pre- 
served the life of their Father, until they have come to 
years of discretion and self direction. It is now their 
indispensable duty to remember his instructions and 
counsels, and to imitate every thing amiable in his 
character and conduct: God has of late, been striving 
with them by his Spirit, and he is now striving with 
them by his Providence. If they will now hear his 
voice, let them not harden their hearts, but acquaint 
themselves with him, and be at peace, and thereby 
good shall come unto them. Amen. 



2 Peter, iii, 9. 

The Lord is not slack concerning his ^^^'omise^ as 

some men count slackness. 

WE should naturally suppose, that God would early 
reveal to mankind the day of judgment, in which they 
are all so deeply interested. Accordingly we find, that 
God inspired Enoch, the seventh from Adam, to foretel 
this great and solemn event, in a plain and striking 
manner. "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand 
of his saints, to execute j?Yf/o-»2e»^ upon all, and to con- 
vince all that are ungodly of all their ungodly deeds 
which they have ungodly committed, and of all their 
hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken 
against him." To this and other predictions of the 
last great day, the ap^jstle refers christians in the con- 
text, where he says, "This second epistle, heloved, I 
now write unto you; in both which I stir up your 
pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be 
mindful of the words which were spoken before by the 
holy prophets." After this intimation, that the day of 
judgment had been long foretold, he proceeds to pre- 
dict himself, how stupid and profane sinners in time to 
come would feel, and think, and speak in respect to 
this solemn subject. '-Knowing this lirst, that there 
shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their 
own lusts, and saying, xdiere is ihe promise of his 
coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things con- 
tinue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 

SERMON XXi. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 361 

For this they are willingly ignorant of, that by the 
word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth 
standing out of the water, and in the water: wheieby 
the world that then was, being overflowed with water, 
perished. But the heavens and the earth which are 
now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved un- 
to fire, against the day of judgment, and perdition of 
ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this 
one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand 
years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is 
not slack concerning his promise, as some men count 
slackness; but is long-suffering to us ward, not willing 
that any should perish, but that all should come to 
repentance." God is not slack in fulfilling his promise 
to judge the world, in the sense of these objectors. 
For, he neither alters his purpose, nor remits his oper- 
ations, but constantly employs the whole creation, in 
preparing thiii^a for the day of judgment. But his 
plan is so great and extensive, that a thousand years 
bears no more proportion to the time necessary to ac- 
complish it, than one day boars to the time necessary 
to accomplish any human design. Though he moves 
all the wheels of nature as fast as they can be moved; 
yet ages must roll away, before he can finish his great 
work, and prepare all intelligent creatures for the retri- 
butions of eternity. The whole course of providence, 
instead of weakening, serves to confirm the apos- 
tle's reasoning against the criminal and dangerous infi- 
delity of scoffers, and plainly teaches us this solemn 
and impoitanttruth: 

That God is preparing all things, as fast as possible^ 
for the day of judgment. 

We live in the last days, in which scoffers have actu- 
ally come, who not onl}^ call in question the inspira- 
tion of the Scriptures, but the ijiimortality of the soul 

362 SERMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 

and a future day of retribution. If there be indeed 
such a solemn day approaching, it is much to be de- 
sired, that this truth should be set in so clear and strong 
a light, as to carry irresistible conviction to every mind. 
And I cannot but hope the following considerations 
will convince the understanding and conscience of eV' 
cry person, that God is preparing all things, as fast as 
possible, for the day of judgment. 

1. God has but one supreme end in all his u^orks. 
This end he proposed before the foundation of the 
world. To this end he has had an eye in every step 
he has taken, in creation, providence, and redemption. 
And this end is to be completely unfolded and accom- 
plished at the day of judgment. All things tend to 
that day, as to their centre and final issue. Then all 
intelligent and accountable creatures will be prepared 
for, and fixed in that state, for which they were orig- 
inally and eternally intended. All the subordinate de- 
signs ot the Deity stand related to and connected with 
his supreme ultimate design, which he can never relin- 
quish, nor be slack to accomplish. The reason why 
men are ever slack in pursuing their ultimate design, 
is because they either give it up, or make it subordinate 
to some other ultimate design. They often alter their 
minds in respect to their ultimate end, and the means 
to accomplish it, which often retards, and sometimes 
prevents, their finally obtaining their supreme object. 
But God never altera his mind in respect to his ulti- 
mate purpose, and the means to attain it. There is no 
new or superior object in the universe to divert his 
attention, or excite his exertions. If he pursues any 
thing, he must pursue his original ultimate design, and 
carry it forward as fast as possible. He cannot be slack 
as men are, through weakness, despondency, or muta- 
bility of purpose. He cannot, for a moment, let his 

SERMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 368 

great work stand still, or go backward, but is morally 
obliged to carry it on, with as much cor sLancy and 
rapidity, as the nature of his supreme purpose will ad- 
mit. There is just as much reason to believe, that he 
will prepare all things as fast as possible for the day of 
judgment, as theie is to believe, that he had any 
supreme or ultimate end in creation. 

2. The heart of God is wholly set upon the great 
design to be accomplished at the great day. He form- 
ed this design from eternity, and in preference to all 
other possible designs. His heart, to speak with rever- 
ence, is bound up in it, and all his felicity flows from 
it. He has no other source of happiness, than the con- 
summation of his eternal purpose, which he purposed 
ifi Christ Jesus, and which will be consummated at the 
last day. The Lord of hosts is far more zealous to 
attain the object of his supreme affection, than any of 
mankind ever were to attain the objects of their high- 
est wishes. His supreme affection as far surpasses the 
supreme affection of his most exalted creatures, as his 
natural perfections surpass their natural abilities. He 
must, therefore, prepare all things, as fast as possible, for 
the attainment of the object of his supreme and infi- 
nitely ardent affection. He must cause the immensely 
numerous events of providence to follow one another, 
without the least intermission or inten^iption, until ^ 
they finally usher in the judgment of the great day. 

3. God is able to prepare all things for this most im* 
portant and desirable event, without the least delay. 
He is able to pursue his great design, with perfect ease 
and constancy. He can work, and none can let it. 
Men often me^t with difficulties and obstacles, which 
they cannot surmount, and which retard or prevent the 
accomplishment of their designs, as soon as they intend- 
ed and desired. Or if they meet with no external ob' 

364 SERMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 

structions, their exertions are laborious and wearisome, 
and require them to take time to recruit their exhaust- 
ed strength. But the Almighty is liable to no such 
impediments or relaxations. He can do every thing 
with perfect facility. His power consists altogether in 
his will. Whatever he wills should exist, exists instan- 
taneously He said, "Let there be light and there was 
light." He commanded, and all things existed and 
stood fast. And by the same word of his power, or 
exercise of his will, lie constantly presei^ves and gov- 
erns all his creatures and all his works. His omnipo- 
tent arm never becomes weak or weary, by the most 
incessant and powerful exertions in upholding the 
weight and controllinss; the affairs of the whole universe. 
"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the 
everlasting God, the liord, the creator of the ends of 
the earth fainteth not, neither is weary? We cannot 
conceive of any reason or cause, why the omnipotent 
Deity should not pursue his ultimate, design as fast as 
possible, and accomplish it as soon as possible. Hence 
we are constrained to believe, that he is operating in 
every part of the universe, as fast as possible, to prepare 
all his intelligent creatures for their great and last 

4. There is no more reason to think, that God will 
be slack in fulfilling his promise of coming to judg- 
ment, than to suppose, that he has been slack, in ful- 
filling other promises of far less importance. He 
promised to destroy the old world, but he was an hun- 
dred and twenty years in preparing things for that aw- 
ful catastrophe. He promised to give Abraham the 
land of Canaan, but he was four hundred years, in 
preparing his seed and the seven devoted nations for 
that interesting event. He promised, that the seed of 
the womin should bruise the serpent's head, but he 

SERMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 365 

was four thousand years, in preparing the way for the 
coming and death ofthe promised Messiah. Tliough 
God was so long, yet he was not slack, in fulfilling 
these promises. He undoubtedly prepared things, as 
fast as possible, for the accomplishment of them. And 
there is precisely the same ground to believe, that 
though God has employed several ages past, and may 
emj)loy several ages to come, in prepjiring the way for 
fushlliiig his promise concerning the great day; yet he 
will prepare all things for it, as fast as possible. The 
steady succession of day and night, and of summer 
and winter, and the rapid revolutions and changes in 
the natural and moral world, afford a constant and in- 
creasing evidence, that God is pursuing his ultimate 
end in creation, and preparing all thmgs as fast as 
possible, for the great concluding scene. To confirm 
this and all the preceding observations, I may add, 

5. That God has all means, instruments, and sec- 
ondary causes in his hand, to accomplish his purpose 
and promise of coming to judge the world in right- 
eousness. As he has made all things for himself, and 
fitted them for his use; so he cojistantly employs all 
things in his service. He makes use of every creature 
and of every object, which he has brought into exist- 
ence, as a voluntary or involuntary instiument of 
preparing the way for the final settlement of all the 
concerns of all moral beings. 

We know, that he directs all the motions and 
changes in the matirial creation, in reference to his su- 
preme and ultimate design. Inspiration tells us, that 
"while the earth remaincth, seed time and harvest, 
cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night 
shall not cease." The sun, the moon, the stars, the 
earth, the ocean, and all the elements, are so many in- 
struments, which he can and will continually employ 

366 SERMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 

in his service to the end of time. And it is easy to 
conceive, from the use he has made of those material 
objects heretofore, what important events he may 
bring about, and what important purposes he may an- 
swer, by their instrumentality in time to come. By 
his common providence, without any special or mi- 
raculous interpositions, he may cause fire and hail, 
snow and vapours, gentle showers, stormy winds, and 
rolling billows, to fulfd his word, and prepare the way 
for the closinsj scene of time. 

All the animal species, as well as material objects, 
are under his constant and supreme direction; and wc 
may be assured, that he will employ them, as instru- 
ments of carrying forward his ultimate design to the 
end of the world. He made them, to serve his purposes 
in this world only, and when the present material sys- 
tem is dissolved, they will cease to exist. But till that 
period arrives, he will use them as the rod of his wrath, 
or the ministers of his love. He employed frogs, and 
flies, and serpents and the meanest insects, to prepare 
the king and kingdom of Egypt for ruin. He em- 
ployed the ravens to feed Elijah, and the fish to supply 
Peter, and the colt to serve Christ. God is still the 
owner of all the fowls of the mountains, of all the 
wild beasts of the field, and of all the cattle upon a 
thousand hills, and has an absolute right to dispose of 
them to serve the purposes of his providence. Nor 
can there be the least ground to doubt, whether he will 
employ the whole animal creation to prepare the way 
for the accomplishment of his supreme and ultimate 
end in all his works. 

And we oudit to consider furthermore, that God 
continually employs all intelligent creatures, as the free 
and voluntary instruments of carrying into execution 
his original and supreme purpose in the creation of 

SERMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 367 

the universe. He made use of Satan to bring about 
the fall of man and the death of Christ. He employs 
evil spirits to prepare the wicked for the day of evil. 
And he employs the holy angels to minister to those 
who are the heirs of salvation. He also employs rulers 
and subjects, ministers and people, parents and chil- 
dren, masters and servants, and every son and daughter 
of Adam, to prepare one another for their future and 
final state. Such numerous and various means, in- 
struments, and secondary causes God is continually 
employing to prepare things for the day of judgment. 
And now can there be any just ground to imagine, 
that he is slack concerning his promise, or that he will 
never fulfil it? Did not Noah give sufficient evidence 
to the ungodly world of their approaching destruction, 
by the men and means which he employed, for an 
hundred and twenty years, in preparing the ark for the 
safety of himself and family? Did not Solomon give 
abundant evidence, that he w ould finish the temple, 
while he employed so many thousand hands, year 
after year, in preparing materials for that large, ele- 
gant, and superb structure? But do not the vastly 
greater preparations which God is constantly making 
for the day of judgment, give us far more clear, strik- 
ing, and infallible evidence, that he will bring about 
that unspeakably awful and joyful event, as soon as 

This subject now suggests some important things, 
which call for our most serious attention. 

1. The great preparations, which God is making 
for the last day, give us just ground to expect, that 
when it comes, it will be a most solemn and important 
event. If it should bear a proper proportion, in point 
of solemnity and importance, to the time and means 
employed in preparing for it, it will unspeakably sur 

36S SERMON XXl. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 

pass, in solemnity and importance, all other scenes 
which ever have taken place, or ever will take place, 
in time or eternity. Accordingly the apostle, with 
peculiar propriety and emphasis, calls it the Great 
Day. The circumstances, the business, and the con- 
sequences of it, will all unite to render it solemn and 
interesting beyond the present conception of men and 
angels. The day of the Lord will come as a thief in 
the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away 
with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with 
fervent heat; and the earth shall be burned up. The 
Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, 
with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of 
God. All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 
and shall come forth. Then shall the Son of man sit 
upon the throne of his glory, with all the holy angels 
with him, and before him shall be gathered all nations, 
iind he shall separate them one from another, as a 
shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats, and he 
shall set the sheep on his i ight-hand, but the goats up- 
on the left. Then the books, which contain the records 
of time and eternity will be opened. Then every se- 
cret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil, 
will be brought into judgment. Then whatever had 
been covered, shall be revealed; and whatever had 
been hidden shall be made known. Tiien the hidden 
things of darkness, and the secrets of all hearts shall 
be disclosed. The sins of tlie righteous, as well as 
the sins of the wicked, shall be made manifest; and 
whatever had been done in heaven, in earth, and in 
hell, shull be exhibited and published before the whole 
universe. This solemn proee?s will be closed by the 
ricntence of the su[)reme Judge, who will say un- 
to them on his right-hand,, -Come, ye blessed of 
my Fathci-, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from 

SERMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 36^ 

the foundation of the world." But he will say unto 
them on the left-hand, "Depart from me, ye cursed, 
into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his an- 
gels." While these shall go away into everlasting 
punishment, the righ:;eous shall enter into life eternal. 
Such will be the final separation between holy and 
unholy angels; between holy and unholy men; be- 
tween holy and unholy parents; betv/een holy and 
unholy children; between holy and unholy friends, 
which must excite the highest joys and sorrows, and 
the keenest sensibilities in the hearts of the happy and 
the miserable that can be conceived! 

2. The great preparations which God is making 
for the day of judgment plainly intimate, that the de- 
cisions of that day will be conclusive and irreversible. 
Origen supposed, that there will be an everlasting se- 
ries of changes and revolutions in the characters and 
conditions of moral beings. And some ingenious and 
learned divines have since supposed, that notwithstand- 
ing the sentence of condemnation that sliall be passed 
on the devil and all impenitent sinners at the great day, 
they will titill be in a probationary state, and after they 
have suffered severely, for a longer or shorter period, 
they will be purified, and prepared for a restoration to 
the lavour and enjoyment of God forever. But the 
preparations, which God is making for the day of 
judgment, are a plain and visible refutation of this 
unreasonable and unscriptural sentiment. Why 
should God employ such a long space of time, and 
such a vast variety of means and instruments, to pre- 
pare all moral and accountable creatures for the ac- 
count they are to give at the great day, if tlicy are af- 
terwai'ds to have a more decisive and final trial? Tlie 
reason, which the apostle gives for God's being so long 
before he brings on the day of judgment, is, that he 

^70 SEEiMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, g. 

may give sinful creatures a sufficient space of repent- 
ance, so that they may all be prepared for that great 
day of decision. "The Lord is not slack concerning 
his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long- 
suffering to us ward, not willing that any should 'per- 
ish, but that all should come to repentance^ This 
passage plainly implies, that God will bring all those 
sinners of mankind to repentance, whom he intends ta 
save, before the day of judgment. And hence we may 
justly conclude, that if he intended to save any or all of 
the fallen angels, he would also bring them to repent- 
ance, before the general judgment comes. But we 
are expressly told, that they will be reserved in chains 
of darkness till that day arrives, and then will be 
doomed, with the finally impenitent of mankind, to 
everlasting punishment. Besides, God cannot prepare 
all things for the general judgment, until he has ac- 
tually obtained bis ultimate end in creation. Then, 
and not till then, he can vindicate his own character 
and conduct in the view of all intelligent beings, which 
is the principal reason, why a general judgment is 
proper and necessary. Without calling the whole in- 
telligent creation together, he could not convince every 
individual, that he had treated not only him, but 
every other creature, perfectly right. But the process 
of the last day will fasten a conviction upon the minds 
of both the friends and enemies of God, of the perfect 
rectitude of all his purposes and operations from the 
beginning to the end of time. Hence the design of 
the general judgment, as well as the long and vast 
preparations making for it, leave no ground to expect, 
that there ever will be a review or rehearino; of the 
case of those, who shall then be condemned to suffer 
the due reward of their deeds. If any one indulges 
this absurd and fallacious hope, let him hear the sol- 

SERMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 371 

<mn admonition of Him, who holds the keys of death 
and of hell in his hands, and who openelh, and no 
man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth. 
"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art 
in the way with him: lest at any time the advcisary 
deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to 
tlie officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily 1 say 
unto thee, 1'hou shalt by no means come out thence, 
till thou hast paid the uttermost fiirtiiing.'" 

3. Since God is making use of us, as free, volun- 
tary agents to prepare things for the day of judgment, 
we ougiit to esteem every duty, which he has enjoin- 
ed upon us, as a real privilege. It is certainly our 
duty, when we know his ultimate design, to fall in 
with it, and sincerely endeavour to promote it. And 
it is certainly a privilege to be employed in promot- 
ing any great and good design. Any benevolent per- 
son would esteem it a duty and a privilege, to assist in 
carrying on any important work or business, which 
was designed to promote the publick good. The pre- 
parations which God is making for the great and last 
day, are designed to promote the most desirable and 
the most important end. And every duty which men 
can perform, will serve to carry forward that great 
and most desirable purpose. It was the duty of Noah 
to build an ark to preserve himself and family, and to 
preventthe extinction of the wholehuman race; and that 
duty was a privilege. It was the duty of Moses to lead 
the people of God out of the house of bondage to the 
land of promise; and that duty was a privilege. It was 
the duty of Solomon to build the temple for the honour 
of God and the good of his people; and that duty was a 
privilege. It is no less a duty and privilege, to be aiding 
and assisting, or as the scri[)ture more projierly terms it, 
to be workers together with God,in his preparations for 

3rsJ SERMON XXI. t Pet. iii, g. 

the day, which shall bring to a happy close his eternal 
purpose in all his works. It is a privilege to ministers 
of the gospel, to have the care and instruction of im- 
mortal souls, and to be employed as instruments of 
preparing them for their appearance before their su- 
preme Judge. It is a privilege to rulers, to rule for 
God and to promote the interests of his spiritual king- 
dom. It is a privilege to parents, to be employed in 
training up their children for the parts they are to act 
on the stage of life, and for the account they are to 
give before the supreme tribunal. And it is a privilege 
to every one of us, to have the care our own souls, 
and to be allowed to prepare ourseh'es to appear with 
safetj^andjoy before tliejudgment-seat of Christ. Every 
duty we perform, has some influence in preparing our- 
selves or others for the great day of retribution; and 
for this reason, we ought to esteem every duty assign- 
ed us, as a real privilege. It is an opportunity of pro- 
moting an infinitely important design, which will be a 
source of felicity to God and to all the inhabitants of 

4 Theconstani and great preparations, which God 
is making for the day of judgment, loudly admonish 
all persons oi" all rges and conditions, to live a holy 
and devout life. This is the plain and practical infer- 
ence which the apostle draws from this solemn subject, 
"Seeing then that all the^e things shall be dissolved, 
what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy 
conversation and godliness, looking for and hastening 
unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heav- 
ens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements 
shall melt with fervent heat? Wherefore, beloved 
brethren, seeing that ye look for such things, be dili- 
gent that ye may be found of him in peace, without 
spot, and blameless." This exhortation applies with 

SERMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 37a 

equal force and obligation to all men, whether rich or 
poor, high or low, bond or free. They must all event- 
ually meet together and stand upon a level before the 
judgment seat of Christ, where neither riches, nor hon- 
ouis. nor talents, nor any of the boasted distinctions 
in this world, will have the least avail to gain the ap- 
prv bation of their Judge. The day of grace, which 
thvy now enjoy, is the most important period of their 
existence. All their eternal interests are suspended 
upon their conduct in this short and uncertain life. If 
they repent, and believe the gospel, and live soberly, 
and righteously, and godlily in this present evil world, 
they may look for the blessed hope, and glorious ap* 
pearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. 
But if they abuse their time, their talents, their wealth, 
or their influence, in corrupting themselves and others, 
they will treasure up to themselves wrath against the 
day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judg- 
ment of God. These are the terms upon which they 
shall ceitainly be accepted, or rejected in the great day 
of decision. Let none deceive themselves. "God is 
not mocked: for whatsoever a man sovveth, that shall 
he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh, shall 
of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the 
Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." It is 
the most important business of all men in this world, 
to prepare to meet their Judge in peace. He has com- 
mitted the care of their souls to themselves, and point- 
ed out the path they must pursue and the duties they 
must practise, to secure his favour, and obtain that 
crown of righteousness, which he has promised to all 
those, who love his appearing. They ought to feel 
and act as the primitive christians did in their proba- 
tionary state. "Wherefore we labour, that whether 
present or absent from the body, we may be prcFcnt 


«374 SERMON XXI. 2 Pet. iii, 9. 

with the Lord and accepted of him. For we must all 
appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every 
one may receive the things done in the body accord- 
ing to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." 
The ungodly cannot stand in judgment, nor sinners 
in the congregation of the righteous. Their hearts 
cannot endure, nor their hands be strong, in the day 
that God shall deal with them. They will find it to 
be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living 
God. When the slothful servant was condemned 
and cast away, there was weeping and knashing of 
teeth. When the man without the wedding garment, 
was bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness, 
there was weeping and knashing of teeth. And Christ 
has told all the finally impenitent, that there shall be 
weeping and knashing of teeth, when they shall see 
Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets 
sit down in the kingdom of God, and they themselves 
shut out. 







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