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vation, when it could not be effected consistent with wisdom and righteousness without the humiliation, obedience and sufferings of the Son of God; as has been observed and shown above. How contrary to all realon and truth, how very absurd is it to assert or suppose, that divine grace in the salvation of men, is greatly lessened and obscured by the Son of God suffering the curse in their stead, and making attonement for them, that they might be delivered and saved, consistent with rectitude and wisdom !
A number of the subjects of a certain king rebelled against him, were apprehended, and justly condemned to die for their crime. The circumstances of the case were such that they could not be pardoned consistent with the proper support of government, and the good of the kingdom, unless the king's only son, who was the most ho. nourable and excellent person in the kingdom, and whom he loved as himself, should willingly take their place, and die in their Itead. The son consented and chose to do it, in order to obtain pardon for them. The king himself made the proposal, and was well pleased with his fon's readiness to die for them ; and freely gave him up to the most ignominious and painful death, that he might conlistent with propriety and wisdom, pardon those rebels, who deserved themselves to die.
An equal number of the subjects of another king, were condemned to a deserved death for rebellion. But the case was such that they might be pardoned and restored to favour, consistent with the support of government, and the highest good and happiness of his kingdom, without any one dying in their fead. He therefore gave them a free and full pardon, and restored them to the enjoyment of life and liberty in his kingdom.
Shall it now be asked, Which of these kings exercised and expressed the most, the highest degree’of benevolence or grace towards the rebels, in pardoning and saving them from deserved death? It is presumed no rational creature who will properly attend to the case, can poslibly hesitate a moment; but must pronounce the former to have exerted and discovered unspeakably more bene. 20 volence and goodness, than the latter; and that the latter is inconsiderable and as nothing, compared with the former.
How then can any one, in the instance before us, which is in all respects infinitely more grand, clear and he Itriking, lay or imagine there would have been more ko grace manifested in the pardon and salvation of Guners, et if this could have taken place, without an atonement by sea the Son of God dying for them, and no such sufferings the had been necessary! How can any man suppose this without contradi&ting the reason of inan, and the clearest dictates and feelings of common sense !
. III. How great is their guilt who flight and oppose the great and wonderful works of God in the redemp ce
; who neglect this great salvation, and abule this highest and most astonishing instance of the goodnels of God ! All are under this awfully aggravated guil, who do not thankfully embrace this salvation, which is freely offered to all. And this is the great and chief ag. ali gravation of all the fins of men under the gospel, that th they express or imply a rejection of Jesus Christ, who lo ha has procured, and offers salvation to them; and a reful. al to believe on him. Therefore he lays, when the Holy 16 Spirit reproves mankind of fin, he discovers that it all con falls in unbelief, and is an expression of that, and be cause they believe not on him.* Every sin is a linol unbelief, as it opposes the Saviour, and is a rejection of him, and in this the great and chief criminality of it does conlilt. Had there been no Saviour for man, 3 and no redemption, he would be justly punished forever for his sin against God, as his rebellion deserved this is
finitely * Jolin xvi. S, a.
finitely great evil. But the sins of man in this case, would have been as nothing compared with what their fins now are who live under the gospel, and oppose, flight and abuse all that astonishing benevolence and grace of God and the Redeemer, which is exercised and expressed in the work of redemption. The rebellion and obftinacy of a creature is aggravated and rendered more criminal by every instance and degree of benevolence and kindness exercised towards him by his Creator, as every instance of his goodness increases the obligation of the creature to love and obey him, and that in proportion to the greatness and degree of that goodness. Hence it follows that man is laid under the greatest obligations to love and obedience by redemption, and the benevolence of God exercised therein ; which is by far the greatelt, and most remarkable and affecting instance of love that has been shown to creatures, or of which we can have any conception ; consequently an obstinate refusal to embrace this salvation, and abuse of all this goodness, is the greatest and most aggravated crime that men can commit, and swallows up all other supposable crimes, as nothing in comparison with this.
And this discovers the great and total depravity of man, and the exceeding wickedness of the human heart, in that it has so much enmity against God and his laws, and is so hard and obstinate, as not to be won by such love and kindness ; but is disposed to flight God the more for all his love, and to abuse and trample upon Christ, and all the grace discovered in the gospel. Scripture and experience join to teach us that man can do this, and that all have done it, who have had opportunity ; and that all would persevere in this most aggravated wickedness, whatever methods were taken to reclaim them, did not God by his immediate, almighty power interpose, and take away the rebellious heart, and give a Pawy, obedient heart,
IV. From this subject, and particularly from the foregoing remark, we are led to reflect upon the ignorance and insensibility of persons who live under the gospel, of their greatest crime and guilt. They in general will acknowledge that they are finners; some are led to this acknowledgment from their living and being educated, where it is granted and inculcated that all men are finners, and this confession is constantly made in public; and were particular practises, of which they know they are guilty, are considered and condemned as wrong and finíul. Others are, convinced in their consciences that they are guilty of many actions which are forbidden in the Bible, and that they live in the neglect of many duties which are there commanded; and that therefore they are criminal. But few have any conviction of the evil nature of fin in general ; and elpecially of the greairit (in, and which is the chief aggru. vation of all their fins, viz. their opposition to Jesus Christ, and constant abuse of the grace revealed in the gospel. Most men who live in gospel light, are so far from feeling themselves guilty of any crime by not em, bracing the Saviour, that they have not the least idea o this, and stand ready to oppose it, and to exculpate them. selves, when they are charged with it, and the magni tude of the crime is laid before them : And they cannot be brought to a proper conviction of their crime and guilt in this, by any arguments and light which may bf set before them ; or by all possible means that may be used with them. This leads to another inference.
V. HENCE we see the reason why our great Prophel and Teacher, has represented it as the work of the Holy Spirit, to convince men of this sin, and cause them to be thoroughly reproved for it. He says, “And when (the Holy Spirit) is come, he will reprove the world a lin, because they believe not on me.'* Nothing fort ♡ the almighty agency of the Holy Spirit, renewing the heart, and forming it to true discerning in spiritual things, can produce this conviction and efficacious reproof. The criminal darkness and delu Gon which is essential to the reign of fin in the heart, cannot be removed by any agent Þut the Holy Spirit giving a new heart, which admits the true light, and sees and confesses the exceeding finfulness of the human heart, this being the fountain and seat of all sin ; and especially the great sin of all kins, the chief of all crimes, the sin of unbelief, in reje&ing and abusing Jesus Christ, and the love and grace exhibited in him. When men have such an heart given them, they will submit to the divine reproof ; confess this fin, and feel and own that they are wholly without any excuse for not believing on Christ : That in this they have been monsters of wickedness, which has been expressed in all the fins they have committed ; and thus they will humble themselves in the fight of God, and fly to the Redeemer for refuge, for pardon and redemption,
the * John xvi. 8, 9.