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To say God is merciful, and we hope will save us nevertheless, is in effect to say, We hope God will not do as he says.
“ Why, but we hope in Jesus Christ, we put our whole trust in God; and therefore doubt not but we shall be saved.”
Ans. 1. This is not to hope in Christ, but against Christ. To hope to see the kingdom of God, without being born again, to hope to find eternal life in the broad way, is to hope Christ will prove a false prophet. 'Tis David's plea, I hope in thy word; but this hope is against the word. Show me a word of Christ for thy hope, that he will save thee in thy profane neglect of his service, and I will never go to shake thy confidence.
2. God doth with abhorrence reject this hope. God will not endure to be made a prop to men in their sins: the Lord rejecteth those presumptuous sinners that went on still in their trespasses, and yet would stay themselves upon Israel's God, Isa. xlviii. 1, 2. as a man would shake off the briars that cleave to his garment.
" But would you have us despair.” • Ans. You must despair of ever coming to heaven as you are, that is, while you remain unconverted. You must despair of ever seeing the face of God without holiness; but you must by no means despair of finding mercy upon your thorough repentance and conversion; neither may you despair of attaining to repentance and conversion in the use of God's means.
V. Without this all that God had done and suffered will be (as to you) in vain, John xiii. 8. Titus ii. 14. that is, it will no way avail you to salvation. Many urge this as sufficient ground for their hopes, that Christ died for sinners: but I must tell you, Christ never died to save impenitent and unconverted sinners (so continuing), 2 Tim. ii. 9. A great divine was. wont, in his private dealings with souls, to ask two questions; 1. What hath Christ. done for you? 2. What hath Christ wrought in you? Without the ap
plication of the spirit in regeneration, we can have no saving interest in the benefits of redemption. I tell you from the Lord, Christ himself cannot save you if you go on in this state.
1. It were against his trust. The mediator is the servant of the Father, Isa. xlii. 1. shows his commission from him, and acts in his name. Now Christ would quite cross his Father's glory, his greatest trust, if he should save men in their sins, for this were to overturn all his counsels, and to offer violence to all his attributes.
First, To overturn all his counsels: of which this is the order, that men should be brought through sanctification to salvation. If thou canst repeal the law of God's immutable counsel, or corrupt him whom the Father hath sealed, to go directly against his commission, then, and not otherwise, mayest thou get to heaven in this condition. To hope that Christ will save thee while unconverted, is to hope that God will falsify his trust. Be assured, Christ will save pope in a way contrary to his Father's will.
Secondly, To offer violence to all his attributes. 1. To his justice, for the righteousness of God's judg. ment lies in rendering to all according to their works. Now should men sow to the flesh, and yet of the spirit reap everlasting life, where were the glory of divine Justice, since it would be given to the wicked according to the work of the righteous ? 2. To his holiness. If God should not only save sinners, but save them in their sins, his holiness would be exceedingly defaced. It would be offering extreme violence to the infinite purity of the divine nature, to have such to dwell with him. If holy David would not endure such in his house, no nor in his sight, Psal. ci. 3, 7. can we think God will? 3. To his yeracity : for God hath declared from heaven, that if any shall say, he shall have peace, though he shal go on in the imagination of his heart, his wrath shall smoke against that man. That they (only) that confess and forsake their sins shall find mercy, Prov. xxviii. 13, That they that shall enter into his hill must be of clean
hands, and of a pure heart, Psal. xxiv. 3, 4. Where were God's truth, if notwithstanding all this he should bring men to salvation without conversion ? O desperate sinner, that darest to hope that Christ will put the lie upon his Father, and nullify his word to save thee! 4. To his wisdom: for this were to throw away the choicest of mercies on them that would not value them, nor were any way suited to thein. First, they would not value them: the unsanctified sinner puts but little price upon God's great salvation. Now would it stand with wisdom to force pardon and life upon those that would give no thanks for them?
Secondly, They are no way suited to them. The divine wisdom is seen in suiting things to each other, the means to the end, the quality of the gift to the capacity of the receiver. Now, if Christ should bring the unregenerated sinner to heaven, he could take no more felicity there than a beast, if you should bring him into a beautiful room to the society of learned men and a well furnished table; whereas the poor thing had inuch rather be grazing with his fellow-brutes. Alas, what would an unsanctified creature do in heaven? He could take no content there, because nothing suits him. The place doth not suit him, he would be quite out of his element, as a fish out of water. The company doth not suit him. What communion hath darkness with light? Corruption with perfection ? The employment doth not suit him: the anthems of heaven fit not his mouth, suit not his ear. Canst thou charm thy beast with music? Or, wilt thou bring him to thy organ, and expect that he should keep time with the tuneful choir?
5. To his immutability, to his omnisciency on omnipo. tency; for this is enrolled in the decrees of the court above, that none but the pure in heart shall ever see God. This is laid up with him, and sealed among his treasures. Now, if Christ yet bring any to heaven unconverted, either he must get them in without his Father's knowledge, (and then where is his omnisciency?) Or OF CONVERSION. against his will, (and then where were his omnipotency?) Or he must change his will, (and then where were his immutability ?)
Sinner, wilt thou not give up thy vain hope of being saved in this condition? Shall the earth be forsaken for thee? Or the rocks moved out of their place? Job xviii. 4. May I not much more reason so with thee? Shall the laws of heaven be reversed for thee? Shall the everlasting foundations be overturned ? Shall Christ put out the eye of his Father's omnisciency, or shorten the arm of his eternal power, for thee? Shall divine Justice be violated for thee? or the glory of his holiness be blemished ?_0 the impossibility, absurdity, blasphemy, that is in such a confidence! To think Christ will ever save thee in this condition, is to make thy Saviour to become a sinner, and to do more wrong to the infinite Majesty than all the devils in hell ever did or could do; and yet wilt thou not give up such a blaspheinous hope?
II. Against his word. We need not say, Who shall ascend into heaven, to bring down Christ from above? Or who shall descend into the deep, to bring up Christ from beneath? The word is nigh us. Are you agreed that Christ shall end the controversy? Hear then his own words; Except you be converted, you shall in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven, Matt. xviii. 3. You must be born again, John iii. 7. If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in me, John viii. 8. Repent or perish, Luke xiii. 3. One word, one would think, were enough from Christ; but how often and earnestly doth he reiterate it! Verily, verily, except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom of God, John iii. 3, 5. And wilt thou yet believe thy own presumptuous confidence, directly against Christ's words? He must go quite against the law of his kingdom, to save thee in this state. · III. Against his oath. He hath lifted up his hand to heaven, he hath sworn, that those that remain in unbelief, and know not his ways, (that is, are ignorant of them, or disobedient to them,) shall not enter into his rest, Psal. xcv. 11. Heb. iji. 18. And wilt thou not yet believe, O sinner, that he is in earnest? Canst thou hope he will be forsworn for thee? The covenant of grace is confirmed by an oath, and sealed by blood, Heb. vi. 17. Matt. xxvi. 28. But all must be made void, if thou be saved living or dying unsanctified.
IV. Against his honour. God will so show his love to the sinner, as withal to show his hatred to sin; therefore he that names the name of Jesus must depart from iniquity. And he that hath hope of life by Christ, must purify himself as he is pure. The Lord Jesus would have all the world to know, that though he pardons sin, he will not protect it. : V. Against his offices. God hath exalted him to be a Prince and a Saviour. He would act against both, should he save men in their sins: it is the office of a king, to be a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well. He is a Minister of God, an avenger, to execute wrath on him that doeth evil. Now should Christ favour the ungodly, (so continuing,) and take those to reign with him that would not that he should reign over them, Luke xix. 27. this would be quiteagainst his office. What king would take rebels in open hostility into his court? What were this but to betray life, kingdom, government, and all together?
Again; as Christ would not be a Prince, so neither would he be a Saviour, if he should do this; for his salvation is spiritual: he is called Jesus, because he saves his people from their sins; so that should he save them in their sins, he would be neither Lord nor Jesus.
Application. Arise then; what meanest thou, O sleeper? Awake, O secure sinner! Lest thou be consumed in thine iniquities: say as the lepers, If we sit here we shall die. Verily, it is not more certain that thou art now out of hell, than that thou shalt speedily be in it, except thou repent and be converted. There is this one door for thee to escape by, Arise