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are elected; and that for these individuals Christ died in par ticular, by way of encouragement to those particular persons, in order to let them know that they might safely trust in Christ, and come to God through him. But then must we be right, when we understand the gospel and believe it, and, upon the very encouragements which God has given, are emboldened to return, in hopes of acceptance: and this must be agreeable. to God's will; and to this must the influences of the true spirit tend. But to venture to return and look to God for mercy, merely upon any other ground, is anti-scriptural; and whatsoever spirit influences thereunto cannot, therefore, be from God.
And thus we see how the door of life is opened by Christ, our great Mediator and high-priest. And hence, Christ calls himself the door. Jolin x. 9. I am the door: by me, if any man enter in he shall be saved. And hence, also, he calls himself the way to the Father. John xiv. 6. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me; for through him, (saith the Apostle, Eph. ii. 18.) we both have an access, by one spirit, unto the Father; and also, through him, God is reconciling the world to himself, sending ambassadors, and beseeching them to be reconciled. 2 Cor. v. 19, 20. Which leads me to the next thing proposed.
A VIEW OF THE METHODS OF DIVINE GRACE WITH MANKIND, FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD.
4. I am to show what methods the great Governor of the world has entered upon, in order to put in execution those designs of mercy which he had in view when he contrived to open this DOOR, in such a wonderful and glorious manner, by the interposition of his own dear Son.
The most high God is conscious of his own infinite excellence; his right to, and authority over the children of men : He sees mankind as being under infinite obligations to love and obey him, and that the least defect is an infinite evil. He judges the law to be holy, just, and good: and mankind whol
ly to blame for their non-conformity thereto, and worthy to be dealt with according to it. He knows their contrariety to him, to his law, and to his gospel. He sees all these things as they really are. His infinite wisdom sees how it is fit for such an one as he is, now, through a mediator, to conduct towards such a world as this is. He sees what conduct is most becoming, and, all things considered, most meet and suitable: and to this conduct the perfect rectitude of his nature prompts and inclines him. Upon the whole, he necessarily, and freely determines to act like himself; i. e. like an absolute sovereign, infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. This was his determination from eternity; this is his determination in time; and according to this rule he actually proceeds, in all his methods with a sinful, guilty, obstinate world; working all things according to the counsel of his own will, Eph. i. 11.; sovereignly, and yet wisely; holily and justly, and yet as the Lord God gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and truth. As is his nature, such is his conduct; and hence his conduct exhibits to us the very image of his heart. Thus it is in the impetration, and thus it is in the application of our redemption, and in all the methods he takes with a guilty world in general. And hence, all his ways are calculated to exalt God, and humble the sinner; to honour the law, and discountenance sin; to exclude boasting, and to glorify grace; as we shall more fully see in what follows:
(1.) As being the supreme Lord and sovereign Ruler of the whole world, he does, through Jesus Christ, the great Mediator, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, by whom his honour has been secured; he does, I say, through him, grant, and, by an act of grace, confirm to the world of mankind, a general reprieve from that utter ruin which was threatened by the law, and to which an apostate world were exposed. Total destruction was threatened in case of disobedience. Gen. ii. 17. In dying thou shalt die ; i. e. thou shalt die with a witness: thy ruin shall be complete. And now nothing could be expected but a dreadful doom, and to be sealed down under everlasting despair. But, instead of this, the great God dooms the tempter, and threatens utter ruin to his new-erected kingdom. Gen.iii. 14, 15. Because thou hast done this, thou art
cursed; and thy head shall be bruised. But guilty man is reprieved from a totai ruin, and allowed a space for repentance. And the world has now stood almost six thousand years, reprieved by the tender mercy of God, through Jesus Christ.
Indeed, certain evils were denounced by the Majesty of heaven, as standing monuments of his displeasure, always to attend a guilty race while in this world. Peculiar sorrows were appointed to women, and hard labour and toil to men, and sickness and pain to both, till death should put an end to their reprieve and to their space for repentance. (Ver. 16— 19.) And when our day to die shall come, we are not to know we lie at mercy, and God acts sovereignly so long as he pleases, so long shall we be reprieved, and no longer. And thus, while tender mercy appears in the general reprieve, the holiness, and justice, and sovereignty of God appear in the manner of it. God is exalted; a guilty world lies at his mercy; they are, in a sense, continually under his rod, and every moment liable to drop into an eternal hell. They are held up in his hand : hell gapes to receive them, and now hẹ lets one fall, and then another: now this, and then that, just as it seems good in his sight Surely, this is awful! Surely, mankind are in very humbling circumstances, and in circumstances wonderfully calculated to awaken them to repent and pray to God, if eradventure their wickedness may be forgiven.
When the general reprieve, granted to this lower world, shall come to a period, then will the great Judge of the world proceed, with all who shall be found impenitent, according to law, without any mixture of mercy. The present reprieve granted as a space for repentance, is not of the law, but of mere grace through Jesus Christ. Now grace takes place, and patience, forbearance, and long-suffering, sit on the throne: but then law shall take place, and strict justice reign. The me diation of Christ, at present, secures the honour of law and justice, and opens the door for grace; but then the day of grace will be at an end. A guilty worid shall no longer be treated in a way of mercy, and favoured on Christ's account; but be proceeded against in flaming fire and terrible vengeance, and every one be punished according to his deserts. How long the day of God's patience with a guilty world is to last,
we know not. A guilty world lies at his A guilty world lies at his mercy, and may be all summoned to the bar when he pleases. Surely this is awful and awakening! but this is the state in which God means to show all long-suffering, and to exercise and display the infinite patience of his nature and surely this should lead us to repentance! Thus, this is one step in a way of mercy, which God, in his infinite grace through Jesus Christ, has taken with a guilty world. And what is the improvement which mankind are disposed to make of it? Why, because sentence against their evil works is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the Sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Eccles. viii. 11.
(2.). Another favour granted to mankind in general by the great Governor of the world, through Jesus Chrsit, is a competency of the good things of this life for their comfortable support, while under this reprieve and in this new state of probation. By law mankind, for their apostacy, stood disinherited of every good thing, doomed to a complete destruction. Gen. ii 17; but now through a Mediator, they are dealt with in a way of mercy. It is true, in token of the divine displeasure, God turned man out of paradise, and cursed the ground, and subjected man to hard labour, (Gen. iii.) but then, at the same time, for Christ's sake, a general grant of many good things is made to a guilty world. They are allowed to live on God's earth; breathe in his air; see by the light of his sun: to eat of the herb of the field, and to eat bread in the sweat of their face to clothe themselves with the skins of slain beasts. Gen. iii. They are allowed summer and winter; seed-time and harvest; and the beasts of the field are given to them. Gen. viii. 22. and ix. 1, 2, 3. Yea, it has been God's way abundantly to do good to a guilty world: to send rain, and grant fruitful seasons, and fill the hearts of men with food and gladness. Acts xiv. 17. So that, considering we are an apostate guilty world, we may well say, with the Psalmist, The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Psalm xxxiii. 5.; and this, notwithstanding all the calamities which overspread the whole earth: for we are now to attribute every thing in our circumstances, whereby we are better of it than the damned in hell are, to the mere mercy and goodness of God, through Jesus Christ. Thus God reprieves a guilty world, and grants
them food and raiment, to the intent that they may have a space for repentance. Surely now it is vile, infinitely vile, to despise the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering, and not to take it in and understand it, that the goodness of God should lead us to repentance. And it is great madness, after our hard and impenitent hearts to go on in our rebellion, and treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Rom. ii. 4,
5. And yet this is the general temper, and common way of the world.
(3.) Another common favour granted to mankind, upon Christ's account, is, a general resurrection from the dead, (1 Cor. xv. 21.) to the intent that all who believe, repent, and return to God through Jesus Christ, may be completely happy in soul and body for ever. It is certain the law threatened death, but made no provision for a resurrection: and if the law had been executed, and no mediator provided, we have no reason to think there ever would have been any resurrection. And I cannot see why a general resurrection may not be considered under the notion of a mercy in itself, notwithstanding many, by their final impenitence, lay a foundation for their being raised up to everlasting shame and confusion. I am ready to think that to be raised from the dead must surely be of the nature of a mercy, and so be the effect of Christ's merits; but the particular manner in which the wicked shall be raised, may nevertheless be considered as a punishment, and so be the effect of their sin and final impenitence. Christ's merit lays the foundation for a general resurrection; and all who believe and repent shall be raised up to glory and complete blessedness; and all who die in their sins shall be raised up to shame and complete misery.
(4.) There are also divers other things granted to mankind in general, which seem pretty evidently to be of the nature of mercies, and so to be owing to the interposition and merits of our glorious Mediator, Christ Jesus, the only Mediator between God and a sinful, guilty world; to whose merits and mediation, every thing which mankind enjoy, which is of the nature of a mercy, is to be attributed; divers things, I say, whereby much is done towards putting such an apostate race