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another? Is this a subject which you will dare to mention, when God riseth up?
6. The general slothfulness will, perhaps you imagine, give you some confidence, and supply you with an answer, at the great day. The course you pursue is not peculiar to yourself. You are not distinguished by any flagrant, enormous crimes. That disregard to God, Christ, and his Gospel, which may be alleged against you at the day of judgment is no more than what is exhibited by a majority of your acquaintance. But if you may plead their example, they may plead yours—if the plea is good in one case, it will be good in another. Can it be imagined, that the Son of man sitting on the throne of his glory, with all the holy angels with him, will be so terrified by the multitude of culprits, as to absolve those who are condemned by a constitution, which himself has formed ? Is it an unexpected event, do you apprehend, that multitudes travel the broad road, and enter at the wide gate, which leadeth to destruction ? Did not the divine author of the Gospel-constitution know the little success, which would attend it and the number of those, who would reject it? Will numbers frighten Him, before whose face the earth and the heavens shall flee away ;in whose presence, the wicked shall be as the giving up of the ghost : at a time when all tribes of the earth shall mourn and smite their breasts; when the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, as well as every bond man and every free man shall hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and say to the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb?
At such a season, and in the midst of these direful scenes, will you be inclined to attempt an excuse, by saying that in the doing of evil, you only followed a multitude? The doom of other sinners will be so evident, that no one will be desirous of proving his resemblance to them.
7. There is another plea, which it is believed, that many design to set up, when their trial comes on : I mean that of having done as much good as evil.
Your design is to make it appear, that though you have done much evil, you have likewise done much good, that though you have broken the laws of God, in many instances, you have likewise fulfilled them in many. To this we make a twofold reply : 1. Were that which you affirm, true, it would by no means, be of itself, a ground of safety? 2. It is not true.
1. Suppose it were true, that you had obeyed God's holy law in as many instances as you bave broken it, this would not be a plea, on which to depend, at the day of judgment. Is not the law of God holy in one part as well as another?
Was one part of it made to be obeyed and the other to be broken? Did ever God say, If you will serve me half the time, you may sin
, the other half? Does not the divine law denounce a curse on those who continue not in all things written in the book of the law to do them? Is not this the case with all laws, whether human or divine? Would any criminal, before an earthly tribunal, dare to plead, in his own defence, that, though guilty of the crime alleged, he has lived honestly, as many days as dishonestly; and that, if bis promises and oaths have been false, half the time, they have been true the other half? Such a plea as this was never set up, in a human court, and can you suppose it will answer in the court of Heaven? God requires obedience in all instances, as well as in any. Even if you had obeyed the laws of God nine times out of ten, you would not obtain a legal justification. No person can be justified by the law, who has not kept the law perfectly. If you had sinned against God but in one instance, you would need to be justified freely by divine grace, through the redemption there is in Christ ; and,
; therefore, without an interest in Christ, you must forever remain under condemnation.-But,
2. It is far from being true, that you have obeyed the law of God as frequently as you have disobeyed it. Consider what the divine law requires. It is not outward obedience only. It is the obedience of the heart, which God demands. He forbids
every evil purpose and desire, and the indulgence of every evil imagination. Impenitent sinners, no doubt, do many things externally which the law of God requires; but there is always an essential deficiency : there is always wanting that right state of the heart that love towards God, which is more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. God requires that we love him with all the heart, soul, mind and strength :--that we delight in his character and government, and cordially choose him as our eternal portion. This, the unrenewed sinner does not. What then is his dependence? What is the ground on which his justification rests? Is it a partial obedience; and that not of the heart, but wholly outward? Will an obedience essentially defective, counterbalance his pride, ingratitude, stubbornness, and rebellion of heart.
It is very usually forgotten by persons who set up such a plea that the great Judge of all the earth is the Searcher of hearts :they are apt to imagine, that the laws of God, like those of civil society, take cognizance of outward actions alone. If you are convinced, that all the feelings and exercises of heart will be subjects of examination at the last day,—that the secrets of all hearts will be laid open; and that the law of God casts down every imagination and every high thing that exalteth itself against God, you will not,-you cannot pretend, that your obedience equals your disobedience: much less will you dare to place your eternal salvation or destruction on such an issue. Will such a calculation be satisfactory at death? Will the hopes of a dying man be supported on such ground? To this question, none can positively answer. Perhaps those who trust in a refuge of lies while living, may have the same trust even in death. Perhaps their false hope may continue till the last : but surely it will not remain in the day of judgment: Their hope will then be as the spider's web, or like the chaff which the wind driveth away. The ungodly shall not stand in udgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. The divine law will then be magnified and made honorable. None who have broken it, will be acquitted on any other foundation than Gospel-grace. None of the partakers of Gospelsalvation will attribute their happiness to their own good deserving, but to him that loved them, and washed them from their sins, in his own blood.
We can think of but one more objection, but that is, perhaps, more plausible than any hitherto mentioned. I mean the native depravity of man. Of you, who have a sinful heart, you think it unreasonable that God should require holy obedience.
This subject, no doubt, is attended with real difficulties ;perhaps it cannot, in our state of ignorance, be wholly understood; yet enough, we believe, can be said, to show that no sinner can with safety rest his defence on this ground, in the day of judgment. The disordered animal constitution, wbich is transmitted from Adam to all his posterity, does not necessitate sin, though it is, in fact, followed by voluntary transgression and consequent inward corruption. It is sin, voluntary sin alone, which exposes to the wrath of God.
But what kind of persons are they, who can expect to excuse themselves, in the day of judgment, by pleading their native corruption. Certainly not they who disbelieve the doctrine. That were the greatest absurdity imaginable. You do not assuredly design to excuse impenitence, when God riseth up, by alleging that which you do not believe. But if you do believe it, as we humbly conceive the Scriptures clearly teach it, are the sins committed in common life, excused on this ground? Do you suppose, that a thief, who has stolen your goods, or an incendiary, who has burned your house, is excusable on account of his native corruption? If you do not grant that others are excusable on this ground, how can you use it in your own defence ? Can you suppose that an apology, which has little or no weight in the view of men, will avail in the estimation of him who searcheth the heart?
It thus appears, that the impenitent sinner will be able to make no valid defence, in the day of judgment. If it be easy now to show that his pleas are groundless, will he have the
confidence to bring them forward, when God riseth up? Far otherwise : Every sinner will then be speechless; his mouth will be stopped; his guilt will evidently appear. The righteousness of God will break forth. The heavens shall declare his righteousness and all the people shall see his glory. God will be justified, when he speaketh and clear when he judgeth. He will certainly overcome in judgment;-it will evidently appear, that truth and reason are on his side.
The text contains two questions. The one, What shall I answer? we have considered. The other is, What shall I do when God riseth up? As we have shown that the sinner will be wholly unable to offer any good reason, why judgment should not be executed,—that he will be wholly confounded before his Judge, what will then remain to be done? what expedient can then be embraced ? Inquiries of this nature will compose the ensuing discourse. "What shall I do when God riseth up?" To what being shall the sinner apply? Will he resort to those, who are impenitent like himself? to those, who appear before God in the same character? Doubtless it will be easy to find persons of this description,-multitudes who have travelled the broad way, and entered at the wide gate; but will they be in circumstances to afford any relief to a fellow reprobate, even if they were disposed? Will not they all be in the same confounded, despairing state? Will not they all be overwhelmed with the dismal prospect of that eternity which is before them? Will not all compassion and tenderness, something of which seems patural to man, be then overborne by despair and confirmed rebellion ? Can one condemned culprit give security from almighty displeasure, to those who are under the same condemnation? Sinners do, in this world, strengthen the hands of each other. By combining, they often screen each other from earthly punishment. Not so, when God visiteth. It will be then seen, though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not prosper.
But 2. Will you obtain relief, by making application to the children of God? Call now, if there be any to answer; and to