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i to all who seek it by earnest
, have indeed long since been ime ministry of reconciliation is any thing at this day so much from spreading throughout the nation to receive it which is uniEvery heart is closed against the If-flattering prejudices and car
all nations and orders unite in 1 among them; and the events, of the apostles, have in this ren and again, as often as the unaChrist has been sent to those ich were before unacquainted
roper answer to the objections
remote inhospitable region, and performing certain arduous conditions: none would have acted reasonably, who hesitated to go in search of this invaluable ad. vantage. In such a concern, all other pursuits ought to be relinquished or suspended, and every danger or hardship disregarded: no delay should be admitted, but all ought immediately to set out for the appointed place, and communicate the interesting report to others, till it spread through the whole earth, as the most rejoicing tidings, which ever reached the ears of sinful man.
But the Lord knew that we were not thus reason. able; nay wholly indisposed to regard distant rumours, or to make inconvenient enquiries about salvation. He therefore, according to the purposes of his bound. less love, appointed a number of reconciled sinners to execute the ministry of reconciliation, by going abroad into the world, and preaching the gospel to every creature. He invested them with miraculous powers, and inspired them with holy affections; he prepared them for patient sufferings and unwearied labours, and sent them with the glad tidings of his grace to sinners of every description, language, or climate. He order. ed them not only to state and confirm the truths of Christianity; but to warn, invite, persuade, expostulate, and beseech sinners, in his name, to be reconciled to God. In this embassy, the vilest blasphemer, oppressor, murderer, and persecutor, is included; not even the hoary-headed profligate is excepted! All things are ready: all men every where are command. ed to repent, and invited to believe in the Son of God: nor is it possible that a sinner can want any thing
which is not promised to all who seek it by earnest prayer.
Miraculous powers have indeed long since been withdrawn; but the same ministry of reconciliation is continued: nor does any thing at this day so much prevent the gospel from spreading throughout the earth, as the disinclination to receive it which is universally manifested. Every heart is closed against the divine message, by self-flattering prejudices and car. nal affections; men of all nations and orders unite in opposing its admission among them; and the events, recorded in the Acts of the apostles, have in this respect taken place, again and again, as often as the unadulterated Gospel of Christ has been sent to those parts of the world, which were before unacquainted with it.
This may suggest a proper answer to the objections of infidels against revelation, on the ground of its not being universal. The Lord indeed is not bound to vouchsafe unmerited benefits to all, or to any of his creatures. May he not do what he will with his "own?” The objection therefore is replete with presumption. Yet it may also be observed, that ministers are commissioned and instructed to use their ut. most endeavours, that the knowledge of the gospel may be rendered universal; and that numbers have been, and still are, ready, at any personal risk, to attempt it: but the lusts of men raise such barriers against them, as nothing but Omnipotence can surmount or remove. Even in this Christian land, the genuine religion of the Bible scarcely ever finds admission into any place, but in the midst of opposition, Voz, I.
contempt, and reproach: and no man should attempt to preach it: without standing prepared for degradation of character, or exclusion“from preferments which he might otherwise have expected. Many friends to the truth are so influenced by this consideration, that they bring forward the peculiar doctrines of the gospel with cautious hand, in hopes to insinuate them almost im. perceptibly: and few of those who now glory in the cross of Christ will deny, that once their hearts greatly disliked that humiliating subjeci.
Yet still, our God perseveres in sending his message to sinners, even forcing it upon their attention, and requiring his ministers to venture their scorn and resentment, by their intrusions and importunity! And at last, when the carnal heart still persists in rejecting the gracious proposal: “ of his great love wherewith “ he loved them, even when they were dead in sin, " he quickens them by his grace; and makes them
willing in the day of his power.” When therefore we affirm that God is Love, we may apply it, to the love of the Father in giving his only Son to become our Saviour; o the love of the Son, in assuming our nature, coming into this sinful world, and dying on the cross for our sins, that he might be our all-prevailing Advocate; and to the love of the Spirit, in regenerating, sanctifying, and comforting our hearts: that so "Glory may be to the Father, and to the Son, " and to the Holy Ghost: as it was in the beginning, “is now, and ever shall be, world without end: " Amen."
It would lead us too far to expatiate on the various instances of the Lord's unspeakable love to his be
lieving people; his condescending regard to their minutest concerns; his tender sympathy with them in all their trials; his readiness to forgive even their renewed offences, and “restore to them the joy of his salvation;" his providential care in restraining their enemies, moderating their temptations, supplying their wants, and answering their prayers; his kind acceptance of their feeble services; the consolations he affords them, especially in trouble; and his marvellous interposition in rendering their sufferings most effica. cious medicines, and the king of terrors a messenger of peace. These and many other topicks might be enlarged on, to illustrate the proposition that God is Love.
But we must, III. Proceed to mention some perverse inferences which are frequently made from the text. • If God ‘be Love,' say some men, may we not conclude
that he will not make his creatures miserable ? Now this strange inference not only contradicts the general tenour of scripture, the divine revelation of which it supposes; but it is refuted by undeniable facts: for most certainly sinful creatures do suffer many and great miseries. Not to mention the instances recorded in the sacred volume, concerning the Lord's dealings with fallen angels and sinful men; can we live in the world, and not both witness and feel the effects of the divine displeasure against transgressors? Are not whole cities and nations desolated by the scourge of war, or by famines, pestilences, and earthquakes? Do not various diseases continually sweep immense multitudes into the grave, after enduring most excru. , ciating pains? Are not the survivors bereaved of their