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or to part with every forbidden indulgence, to renounce the world and deny themselves, to take up their cross and follow Christ; and without this willingness they cannot be his disciples. This is the real, and the only, hindrance. Were they once willing they would ask, and God would give them, all the rest.
Do they not come because these blessings were not intended for them? No man out of hell can possibly know this respecting himself; and very few habitually think it. God's secret purposes and open declarations perfectly coincide; “ But secret “ things belong unto the LORD our God, and the " things which are revealed, to us;” (a distinction not sufficiently attended to:) the former are not, and cannot be, the rule of our conduct, but the latter are; and these exclude none, but such as will not come to the feast." Esau sold his birth-right for one morsel of meat. The Lord indeed did not intend the birthright for Esau, but for Jacob; yet this, not being the motive of Esau's conduct, formed no excuse for it. He is condemned in Scripture as profane, a despiser of his birth-right, and an example of one who repented not till it was too late; and he is proposed as a warning to us, not to despise or abuse the mercy of God, lest our doom should be irreversibly determined.' Proud contempt of a free salvation, idolatrous love of earthly objects, and profane disregard for spiritual blessings, are the real motives of men's rejecting the gospel; and therefore no unknown purpose of God is allowed as an excuse. It is true, the Elect were of the same disposition, and had they been left to themselves, would have made the same choice: thus “ boasting is excluded;" and God appears glorious in justice in condemning sinners, but more glorious in grace in saving believers.
disposition and character, and the effect of sudden tcmptation, it is considered as more venial than when the effect of a rooted disposition: and for a criminal to plead, 'I am so propense to theft and cruelty, that I could not help it,' would be to condemn hinself as the vilest miscreant, not fit to live, in the opinion of judge, jury, and spectators.
There can be no difficulty in proving that this distinction is implied throughout the Bible, and has its foundation in the nature of things; and so far from being novel, it is impossible that any rational creature can be unacquainted with it. No man ever yet missed the distinction between the sick ser tant who could not work, and the lazy serrant who had no heart to his work; that is, betwirt natural and moral inability: and nu man could govern even his domesticks in a proper manner, without continually adverting to it.
“No man can come to me,” saith our Lord, in the discourse from which our text is taken, “ex“ cept the Father which hath sent me draw him."
“They shall be all taught of God; every man “ therefore, that hath heard and hath learned of “the Father, cometh to me.” We are here informed how this otherwise insurmountable hindrance is removed. Men are drawn by rational inducements, not forced by external violence: and this drawing is effected by the communication, not of new faculties, but of new dispositions and discoveries, which give a new direction to the judgment, desires, and affections. They are taught of God, and learn of the Father, who both opens the eyes of their understanding, takes the veil from their heart, and causes his light to shine upon them, and within them. Frequently after long patience with them, and preserving them during their ungodly course of life; in some cases, when they are grown more determined in wickedness than ever, and it might be supposed they were nigh unto destruction; by his Holy Spirit he shews them his glorious majesty and holiness, their relations and obligations to him, and the authority, extent, and reasonableness of his law. Thus he “convinces them of sin, of righteousness, and of “ judgment;” and lays open the eternal world to their view in all its tremendous importance: till alarmed at their danger, they tremble at his word, and take warning “ to flee from the wrath to .“ come.” Their terror is accompanied by humiliation and penitent remorse, when the Holy Spirit teaches them the odious nature and dreadful tendency of sin, and vileness of their own conduct and character: then every kind and degree of reformation and amendment proves utterly in sufficient to appease their disquieted consciences. While others, after awakenings, take shelter in
* Matthew xxii. 3. Luke xiv. 18.
: Heb. xii, 17.
this refuge of lies, they are taught to exclaim, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righ“ teousnesses are as filthy rags.” Thus by despair of atoning for the past, or justifying themselves before a holy God, by such unholy services, they become cordially willing to accept of a free salvation.
They discover likewise, that personal holiness is absolutely necessary; and are taught that “ the " Lord can have no pleasure in iniquity;" and that none can be meet for a holy heaven and the enjoyment of a holy God, without conformity to his holiness. Thus they are preserved from that fatal refuge of lies, into which the love of sin betrays vast numbers, of perverting the doctrines of grace into a reason for being satisfied in the neg. lect of holiness. At the same time they are taught of God their own utter inability to obtain this holiness, except from him; and they learn to prize sanctification by the Spirit, as highly as redemption by the blood of Christ. When such important concerns engross their minds, worldly objects seem diminished, and they learn to count them as nothing in comparison of the salvation of their souls: thus they become willing to deny themselves, to forsake all, and to follow Christ, bearing their cross; whilst others perish in the vain attempt of serving God and Mammon, and reconciling the interests of time and eternity.
In this manner the hindrances, arising from the
pride and corrupt passions of the heart, being efficaciously removed, men readily learn under such a Teacher, the grand lesson without which all others would be useless, and to which all else are subordinate. We must mention one thing before another; but it is not necessary to determine in what order these lessons shall be taught, or whether more speedily, or more gradually. But in his own time and manner, the divine Spirit will teach every elect person, the nature, truth, and glory of the gospel of Christ; and shew him, that in the divine Saviour, in his righteousness, sacrifice, intercession, and grace, all he wants, or can desire; is contained; “He shall glorify me: for he shal} “ receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Now he feels an ardent longing for an interest in Christ and all his blessings, and fears nothing so much as being rejected. Now he makes, trembling perhaps, his earnest application; “ Behold he pray“ eth!” As a condemned criminal, a perishing sinner, he comes, he asks, he waits; he persists in waiting and praying; and, giving up every other hope, he says, “ Lord, to whom shall I go? “ thou hast the words of eternal life.” Now he respects every instruction, observes every direction, uses every means, watches against every sin, attends to every duty; yet trusts in nothing but. the free mercy of God through the redemption of his. Son, whom he desires “to be made unto him,
" John xvi. 14, 15.