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his own imagination, as idle, false, tending to his misery and ruin; and abide by the language of the written word, as clear and infallible, and not to be contradicted by any vague notions or imaginations of his own sinful and prejudiced heart. Let God be true to his word, but every imagination of our mind that is opposed to that word, false.
Some, who entertain the opinion now under consideration, would, perhaps, plead that very word of God as the authority for it; and would even endeavour to prove, that there are express declarations of God in his word, from which they infer their final condemnation. I have met with many who have long entertained such an opinion. But I have always found, when they have been required to point out the specific passages of Scripture from which they have drawn their inference, that they are merely sentences of condemnation against sinners in general, some particular class of sinners, or such as have apostatized from the faith they once professed. All such threatenings are, however, conditional. They bind God to inflict final punishment if the characters so threatened do not repent. But the possibility of repentance is supposed in every case, as is evident by the fact, that many such characters, on hearing the threatening, have repented and found mercy. Even some of those clearly defined and awfully threatened by Scripture, have turned from their evil ways, and, through Divine mercy, found forgiveness for all their sins, however great and aggravated. This is true, even of such as have been notorious apostates from their first profession. Thus, Peter denied Christ, and yet was restored. Your case is, however, not like his. You have never yet professed to be converted, and therefore cannot be an apostate from
the faith of Christ. Scriptures, therefore, which relate to such persons can have nothing to do with you. You cannot find any sentence of exclusion from forgiveness, in passages which relate alone to those who have denied the Saviour, or renounced the faith of a Christian. I will suppose, therefore, that you derive your notion of a final sentence having already passed against you, from some of those comprehensive and awful denunciations which are directed against sinners in general, or some particular class of sinners, as blasphemers, drunkards, unbelievers, or such like.
Here, then, I wish you to observe, that all such threatenings, throughout the whole Bible, are conditional, that is to say, the execution of them is dependent upon their effect: they leave room for repentance; they are employed for the purpose of producing it; and their very announcement presupposes that God will wait to see their effect, whether they produce repentance; and that, wher. ever such repentance is produced, he can no more proceed to execute the threatening, than fail to execute it where it has produced no effect. A clearer illustration of this cannot be presented, than in the case of the Ninevites. A positive threatening was uttered; a time solemnly fixed for its execution, without any reserve; no condition was even expressed; no offer of mercy ever made to them; and yet the threatening, because it was regarded, because it wrought repentance, could not be enforced. The very fact, that forty days were allowed as a reprieve, seemed to imply that there was room for repentance on their part, and mercy on God's. Though the prophet received no commission to say so; yet the fact proved, that however severe the threatening of God, and however brief the time allowed, yet, if repentance were wrought, he would accept it, and withhold the threatened evil. This is the principle applicable to all the threatenings of God in Scripture against sinners. Although there may be no express offer of mercy in the immediate connexion of the threatening, yet there are, elsewhere in the book, sufficient testimonies to the readiness of God to exercise such mercy towards repenting sinners of every class and degree. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts : and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,” Isa. lv. 7. Hence it will follow, that there is no decree of God revealed in the Bible that can warrant any unconverted person in concluding, that, because he is a sinner, or the greatest of sinners, or belonging to a special class of sinners, therefore there is no mercy for him, or no possibility of deliverance from the destruction which is equally threatened against all transgressors of God's law.
5. We may now proceed somewhat further, and observe-neither is there any evidence of an unwillingness on God's part to forgive your sins. It is no unusual thing for the guilty mind to imagine and fear this; but then it must be when that mind loses sight altogether of the revelation of mercy in the gospel, by Christ Jesus. If that be examined, and if its authority be regarded, instead of its being possible for any sinner to discover in it a single trace of unwillingness in God to save him, the very reverse appears in almost every page; and indeed, the whole scheme of the gospel is the most clear, unequivocal, and emphatic declaration of God's willingness to pardon sin, and receive
repenting rebels again into his favour. Let me set before you here a few passages as specimens of the general tenor of the Divine testimony upon this point-the willingness of God to forgive. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” Ezek. xxxiii. 11. “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out," John vi. 37. “Ready to forgive," Psa. lxxxvi. 5. “1, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins," Isa. xliii. 25. “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke xix. 10. “Your heart shall live that seek God," Psa. lxix. 32. “Seek ye me, and ye shall live,” Amos v. 4. “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart,” Jer. xxix. 13. Now, against these general and comprehensive expressions of God's mercy and grace, no exception ought to be taken, unless there can be shown to be equally explicit ground for it, and unless an authority equally valid and clear can be pleaded. But we are quite sure no sinner, of any description or class, can produce any exception to these testimonies from the book of God; but, on the contrary, we could show that they have been applied to individual cases of all kinds of sinners, who have found in this a sufficient warrant for repentance, and sufficient comfort in repentance. They have believed, and found forgiveness and acceptance through the appointed medium of a Saviour's blood.
6. It is still further incumbent upon me to observe, that all the grace expressed in and by the gospel presents the same aspect towards you as
towards all other sinners. We find no exceptions in the Divine word, which could be possibly construed into any exclusion of particular persons. The apostles of Christ do not present the general and comprehensive offer of mercy in the gospel, and then qualify or restrict it by mentioning that any particular class, or even any individuals, are excepted; but they represent the aspect of the whole as looking towards all, and presenting a Divine pledge or engagement to every one who truly repents and unfeignedly believes the holy gospel. It is perfectly vain and futile, then, for any man to make exceptions which are not in the word; or to plead that such can exist, when he has no intimation of them, and can by no fair means infer any from Scripture language, so as to include himself. The only exceptions that can exist, are such as involve a neglect, or rejection, of the very matters commanded, without a compliance with which there can, of course, be no salvation; but then these things are repentance and faith, and nothing in the sinner's natural condition. Hence, it is clear, that the gospel has the same external aspect towards you as towards all, without any exception or qualification. It views all as lost and corrupt, and it impartially requires of all repentance of sin, and belief in the grace of Christ for pardon and acceptance. It represents the: blood of Christ as equally efficient towards one as : towards another. " The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin," 1 John i. 7. It · is represented under the figure of “a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness," Zech. xiii. 1. It is no where said that sinners only of a certain class shall enjoy the benefit of his atoning blood, or that sinners of another class will be excluded ;