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no way depends on the foreknowledge of God: flatly contrary to this are all the Scriptures; and those in particular, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God," 1 Pet. i, 2:“Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate," Rom. viii, 29.
21. And," the same Lord over all is rich in mercy to all that call upon him," Rom. x, 12: But you say, no; he is such only to those for whom Christ died. And those are not all, but only a few, whom God hath chosen out of the world; for he died not for all, but only for those who were “ chosen in him before the foundation of the world,” Eph. i, 4. Flatly contrary to your interpretation of these Scriptures, also, is the whole tenor of the New T'estament; as are in particular those texts ;** Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died,” Rom. xiv, 15; [a clear proof that Christ died, not only for those that are saved, but also for them that perish;] he is “ The Saviour of the world,” John iv, 42; he is “ The Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world,” John i, 29 ; “ He is the propitiation, not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John ii, 2 ; " He [the living God) is the Saviour of all men,” 1 Tim. iv, 10 ; " He gave himself a ransom for all,” 1 Tim. ii, 6; " He tasted death for every man,” Heb. ii, 9.
22. If you ask, why then are not all men saved ? The whole law and the testimony answer, first, not because of any decree of God; not because it is his pleasure they should die; for," as I live, saith the Lord God," “ I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth,” Ezek. xviii, 32. Whatever be the case of their perishing, it cannot be his will if the oracles of God are true; for they declare, “ He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance," 2 Pet. iii, 9; “ He willeth that all men should be saved.” And they, secondly, declare what is the cause why all men are not saved, namely, that they will not be saved : so our Lord expressly ; “ Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life," John v, 40. “ The power of the Lord is present to heal them, but they will not be healed. “They reject the counsel,” the merciful counsel of God" against themselves," as did their stift' necked forefathers. And therefore are they without excuse; because God would save them, but they will not be saved: this is the condemnation, “How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not,” Matt. xxiii, 37.
23. Thus manifestly does this doctrine tend to overthrow the whole Christian revelation, by making it contradict itself; by giving such an interpretation of some texts, as fatly contradicts all the other texts, and indeed the whole scope and tenor of Scripture ;-an abundant proof that it is not of God.' But neither is this all : for, seventhly, it is a doctrine full of blasphemy; of such blasphemy as I should dread to mention, but that the honour of our gracious God, and the cause of his truth, will not suffer me to be silent. In the cause of God, then, and from a sincere concern for the glory of his great name, I will mention a few of the horrible blasphemies, contained in this horrible doctrine. But first, I must warn every one of you that hears, as ye will answer it at the great day, not to charge me (as some have done) with blaspheming, because I mention the blasphemy of others. And the more you are grieved with them that do thus blaspheme, see that ye
" confirm your love towards them” the more, and that your hearts' desire, and continual prayer to God, be, " Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
24. This premised, let it be observed, that this doctrine represents our blessed Lord, " Jesus Christ, the righteouis,'
" " the only legotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth," as a hypocrite, a deceiver of the people, a man void of common sincerity. For it cannot be denied, that he every where speaks as if he was willing that all men should be saved. Therefore, to say he was not willing that all men should be saved, is to represent him as a mere hypocrite and dissembler. It cannot be denied that the gracious words which came out of his mouth, are full of invitations to all sinners. To say then, he did not intend to save all sinners, is to represent him as a gross deceiver of the people. You cannot deny that he says, “Coine imto me, all ye that are weary and heavy ladlen." If, then, you say he calls those that cannot come; those whoin he knows to be unable to come; those whom he can make able to come, but will not; how is it possible to describe greater insincerity! You represent hini as mocking his helpless creatures, by offering what he never intends to give. You describe him as saying one thing, and meaning another; as pretending the love which he had not. Him, in " whose mouth was no guile," you make full of deceit, void of common sincerity :--then especially, when, drawing nigh the city, he wept over it, and said, “Oh Jerusalem. Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent into thee, how ofien would I have gathered thy children together,--and ye would not;" nosanoa-kal guz qar, darf. Now if you say, they would, but he would not, you represent him (which who could hear ?) as weeping crocodile's lears; weeping over the prey which himself had doomed to destructiou !
25. Such blasphemy.this, as one would think might make the ears of a Christian to tingle! But there is yet more behind; tor just as it honours the Son, so doth this doctrine honou the Father. Ii destroys all his attributes at once : it overturus both his justice, mercy, and truth: yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more injust. More false; because the devil, liar as he is, hath never said, “ He willeth all men to be saved :" inore unjust; because the devil cannot, if he would be guilty of such injustice as you ascribe to God, when you say, that God condemned millions of souls to everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, for continuing in sin, which, for want of that grace he will not give theni, they cannot avoid ; and, more cruci; because that unhappy spirit
seeketh rest and findeth none;" so that his own restless misery is a kind of temptation to him to tempt others. But God resteth in his high and holy place; so that to suppose him, of his own mere motion, of his pure will and pleasure, happy as he is, to doom his creatures, whether they will or no, to endless inisery, is to impute such cruelty to him, as we cannot impute even to the great enemy of God and man. It is to repre. sent the Most High God (he that hath ears to hear, let him hear!) as more cruel, false, and unjust thali the devil!
26. This is the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible drrree of predestination! And here I fix my foot. On this I join issue with every assertor of it. You represent God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust. But you say, you will prove it by Scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil ? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it never can prove this; whatever its true meaning be, this cannot be its true meauing
Do you ask, What is its true meaning then ? If I say, I know not, you have gained nothing; for there are many scriptures, the true sense whereof neither you nor I shall know, till death is swallowed up in victory. But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense at all, than to say it had such a sense as this. It cannot mean, whatever it mean besides, that the God of truth is a liar. Let it mean what it will, it cannot mean that the Judge of all the world is unjust. No scripture can mean that God is not love, or that his mercy is not over all his works: that is, whatever it prove besides, no scripture can prove predestination.
27. This is the blasphemy for which (however I love the persons who assert it) I abhor the doctrine of predestination ; a doctrine, upon the supposition of which, if one could possibly suppose it for a moment, (call it election, reprobation, or what you please, for all coines to the same thing,) one might say to our adversary the devil
, “ 'Thou fool, why dost thou roar about any longer ? Thy lying in wait for souls is as need less and useless as our preaching. Hearest thou not, that God hath taken thy work out of thy hands; and that he doeth it much more effectually? Thou, with all thy principalities and powers, canst only so assault that we may resist thee; but he can irresistibly destroy both body and soul in hell! Tho'r canst only entice; but his unchangeable decree, tu leave thousands of souls in death, compels them to continue in sin, till they drop into everlasting burnings. Thou temptest; he forceth us to be damned: for we cannot resist his will. Thou fool, why goest thou about any longer, seeking whom thou mayest devour ? Hearest thou not that God is the devouring lion, the destroyer of souls, the murderer of men ? Moloch caused only children to pass through the fire; and that fire was soon quenched; or, the corruptible body being consunted, its tornient was at an end: but God, thou art told, by his eternal decree, fixed before they had done good or evil, causes not only children of a span long, but the parents also, to pass throug: the fire of hell, the fire which never shall be quenched :' and the body which is cast thereinto, being now incorruptible and immortal, will be ever consuming and never consumed, but the smoke of their torment,' because it is God's good pleasure, ascendeth up for ever and ever.'”
28. Oh how would the enemy of God and man rejoice to hear these things were so! flow would he cry aloud and spare not ! How would he lift up his voice and say,
your tents, oh Israel! Flee from the face of this God, or ye shall utterly perish! But whither will ye flee? Into heaven? He is there. Down to hell ? He is there also. Ye cannot flee from an omnipresent, almighty tyrant. And whether ye flee or stay, I call heaven his throne, and earth his footstool, to witness against you, ye shall perish, ye shall die eternally. Sing, oh hell, and rejoice, ye that are under the earth! for God, even the mighty God, hath spoken,
and devoted to death thousands of souls, from the rising of the sun, unto the going down thereof! Here, oh death, is thy sting! They shail not, cannot escape, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Here, oh grave, is thy victory! Nations yet unborn, or ever they have done good or evil, are doomed nerer to see the light of life, but thou s!:alt gņaw upon theni for ever and ever: Let all those morning stars sing together, who fell with Lucifer, son of the morning! Let all the sons of hell shout for ioy! For the decrec is past, and who can disannui it?"
29. Yea, the decree is past: and so it was before the foundation of the world. But what decree ? Even this: “I will set before the sons of men, 'life and death, blessing and cursing.' And the soul that chooseth life shall live, as the soul that chooseth death shall die.” This decree, whereby “ whom God did foreknow, he did predestinate," was indeed from everlasting: this, whereby all who suffer Christ to make them alive are “elect, according to the foreknowledge of God," now standeth fast, even as the moon, and as the faithful witnesses in heaven; and when heaven and earth shall pass away, yet this shall not pass away, for it is as unchangeable and eternal, as is the being of God that gave it. This decree yields the strongest encouragement to abound in all good works, and in all holiness; and it is a well spring of joy, of happiness also, to our great and endless comfort. This is worthy of God: it is every way consistent with all the perfections of his nature. It gives us the noblest view both of his justice, mercy, and truth. To this agrees the whole scope of the Christian revelation, as well as all the parts thereof. To this Moses and all the prophets bear witness, and our blessed Lord and all his apostles. Thus Moses, in the name of his Lord, “ I call heaven and earth to record against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing ; therefore choose life, that thou and thy seed may live.” Thris Ezekiel : (to cite one prophet for all :) “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die : the son shall not bear [eternally) the iniquity of the father. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him," chap. xviii, 20. Thus our blessed Lord: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink,” John vii, 37. Thus his great apostle, St. Paul, Acts xvii, 30, “God commandeth all men every where to repent;"—"all men, every where;" every man in every place, without any exception, either of place or person. Thus St. James : “ If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him," James i, 5. Thus St. Peter: 2 Pet. iii, 9, “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” And thus St. John: “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father : and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world," 1 John ii, 1, 2.
30. Oh hear ye this, ye that forget God! Ye cannot charge your death upon him! " Have I any pleasure at all, that the wicked should die, saith the Lord God ? Ezek. xvisi, 23, &c. Repeni, and turn from all your transgressions: so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby ye have transgressed,- for why will ye die, oh house of Israel ? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God. Wherefore turn yourse!ves, and live ye.' “ As I live, saith the Lord God, I hare no pleasure in the death of the wicked.-Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways: for why will ye die, oh house of Israel ?'' Ezek. xxxiii, 11
SERMON LV. Preached on Monday, April 21st, 1777, on laying the foundation of the New Chapel,
near the City Road,
London. “ According to this time it shall be said, -What hath God wrought?” Num. xxiii, 23.
1. We need not now inquire, in what sense this was applicable to the children of Israel. It may be of more use to consider in what sense the words are applicable to ourselves ;—how far the people of England have reason to say, “ According to this time, what hath God wrought!"
2. A great man, indeed, who I trust is now in a better world, Dr. Gibson, late lord bishop of London, in one of his charges to his clergy, flatly denies that God has wrought any “ extraordinary work” in our nation ;-nay, affirms, that to imagine any such thing, is no better than downright enthusiasm. It is so, if his Lordship’s supposition is true, if God has not wrought any extraordinary work; but if he really has, then we may believe and assert it, without incurring any such imputation.
3. Yet a still greater man of a neighbouring nation, a burning and a shining light, equally eminent in piety and in learning, partly confirmed the bishop's supposition: for Bengelius, being asked, why he placed the grand revival of religion so late as the year 1836, replied, “I acknowledge all the prophecies would incline me to place it a century sooner ; but an insurmountable difficulty lies in the way: I cannot reconcile this to inatter of fact. For I do not know of any remarkable work of God which has been wrought upon earth between the years 1730 and 1740.” This is really surprising. It is strange that sensible men should know so little of what is done at so small a distance. How could so great a man be ignorant of what was transacted no farther of than England ?- Especially considering the accounts then published in Germany, some of which were tolerably impartial ; nay, considering the particular account which I had sent, as early as the year 1742, to one well known through all the empire, pastor (afterwards superintendent) Steinmetz.
4. But has there, indeed, been any extraordinary work of God wrought in England during this century ? This is an important question : it is certainly worthy of our serious consideration : and it is capable of being answered to the full satisfaction of every fair inquirer. He may easily be informed, what work it is, and in what manner it has been wrought. It is true, I am in one respect, an improper person to give this information; as it will oblige me frequently to speak of inyself, which may have the appearance of ostentation : but, with regard to this, I can only cast myself upon the candour of my hearers, being persuaded they will put the most favourable construction upon what is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. For there is no other person, if I decline the task, who can supply my place, who has a perfect knowledge of the work in question, from the beginning of it to this day. We may consider, first, The rise and progress of this work : secondly, The nature of it.
I. 1. As to the rise of it. In the year 1725, a young student at Ox. ford was inuch affected by reading Kempis's “ Christian Pattern,” an: Bishop 'Taylor's " Rules of Holy Liring and Dying." He found an carnest desire to live according to those rules, and to flee from the wraih