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able goodness, wisdom and faithfulness of God. He views all events as ordered by a Being who never errs. In all his afflictions he repairs to the throne, and in all his dangers confides in the care of this great and merciful Being. If things seem to be against him, he is sure that divine wisdom can turn them to his eternal benefit. When he knows not what to do, his eyes are directed to the eternal source of goodness and power. When the sorrows of death compass him, he calls on the name of the Lord, who preserves the humble, and sustains them who are brought low. To pass from one world to another, he views as a vast and solemn change. But whether he is in this world, or another, he knows, he shall be surrounded with God's presence, and he trusts, that in God's presence he shall find a fulness of that joy, which he has, in some degree, experienced already. He can say, "I am continually with thee; thou wilt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? There is none on earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart fail, but thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.
Our subject may justly lead us inquire, whether we really believe, there is a God. All will perhaps say, they believe this plain truth. Inquire then, do you live, as if you believed it? Do you devoutly attend on God's institutions? Do you pray without ceasing? Do you prove what is the will of God, and obey it, when you have proved it? Do you keep your hearts with diligence, that you may not offend him by evil thoughts and vile affections? Do you seek his favor above all other interests, and choose this for your portion and happiness? You may then say, you believe and rejoice in God. But if you cast of the fear of God, restain prayer before
him, despise his word and worship, trample on his commands, serve divers lusts and pleasures, and act without a governing regard to the happiness of a future life; in vain you pretend to faith in God. Whatever you may profess in words, you say in your heart, "NO GOD."
We see, that they, who forsake God, forsake their own mercies-they renounce happiness here, and hereafter. Without faith in God, and obedience to him, there can be no rational enjoyment of the world, no comfort in affliction, peace in death, or happiness in eternity. All happiness comes from God. None but the holy in heart can relish the happiness which he gives. That we may enjoy happiness in God, we must be like him. They who enter into his presence, are such as have clean hands and a pure heart, walk uprightly and do rightcousness. They only who are like God, will see him as he is. If we have this hope, let us purify ourselves, as he is pure.
It is manifest from our subject, that they who believe in God, will believe also in Christ. If we regard God as a moral governor, we shall feel our obligation to obey him, and our desert of punishment when we offend him. Conscious, that we have in many things offended, we shall be solicitous to know, on what terms we can be forgiven, or whether we can be forgiven at all. Reason can never assure us, that there is forgiveness with God; for, to punish the sinner is just ; and whether mercy will rejoice against judgment, God only can letermine, and he only can reveal. The gospel teaches us, that God sent his Son into the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, to call sinners to repentance, to save them who are lost, and that they who confess and forsake their sins will find mercy. And certainly every one who feels him
self justly exposed to condemnation for his disobedience to the divine government, will esteem this gospel a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. Hence the Savior says, Every one that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." " And he who hateth me, hateth my Father also."
How happy is the pious man! He believes there is one God-a Being of infinite power, unerring wisdom, unbounded goodness and unfailing mercy. He believes, that this God has sent a Savior into the world, by his doctrines to instruct, and by his death to redeem ignorant and guilty men. He believes, that through this Savior God will hear the prayers of the humble, forgive the sins of the penitent, help the infirmities of the saints, and reward the services of the faithful. He believes that God has prepared an eternal state of felicity for them who love him, that the afflictions of the present time are means of preparing him for that state, and that death will be his passage to it. He believes that God is his friend, and that under God's gracious care, he shall be guided in the path of righteousness, supported in trouble, succored in temptation, defended in danger, comforted in death, and brought safe to glory. What has such a man to fear? What can harm him? What can separate him from the love of God? Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: Rejoice ever more ; for he is your God; and he will never forsake you. Fear not, for he is your shield, and your exceeding great reward. "Though the figtree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine; though the labor of the olive shall fail, and the field shall yield no meat; though the flocks shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stall; yet you may rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of your sal
JOHN xv. 22, 23, 24.
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: But now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father.
THESE words, though first spoken to the unbelieving Jews, will apply with equal force to all, who reject the gospel of Christ, after they have had a fair opportunity to learn its nature and design, and to examine the evidences of its truth and divinity. We are therefore as deeply concerned in them, and as solemnly warned by them, as were the Jews in our Savior's day.
They teach us, that, in respect of guilt, there is a great difference between those who have never known Christ, and those who have both known and rejected him-that in those who have known him, the true cause of unbelief is a hatred of him-that they who hate and reject him and his gospel, are in their hearts enemies to all religion. They hate his Father, as well as him.
1. The first observation to which our attention is called, is the distinction, which our Savior makes
between those who have never heard of his gospel, and those who have known and rejected it. The former have no sin; the latter have no cloak for their sin.
There are many nations, who have no knowledge of the gospel, and who, perhaps, have not so much as heard of it. Of these it may be said, in the sense in which our Lord uses the expression, "They have not had sin." They are not chargeable with urbelief. This is the sin here intended. The Jews, though Christ had not spoken to them, would not have been absolutely innocent. From the ancient oracles of God they had so grossly departed, that they were condemned as a wicked and perverse generation. Neither were the heathens, in an unqualified sense, without sin; for though they had not the written law, yet they were a law to themselves, and shewed the works of the law written on their hearts. Their violations of this law involved them in guilt; for they knew the judgment of God, that they who did such things were worthy of death. The scripture asserts that "Jews and Gentiles are all under in-that all have sinned and comes short of the glory of God and that all the world are guilty before him." It can therefore be only the sin of disbelieving and rejecting the gospel, which is intended in
It is agreeable to the sense of mankind, and to the declarations of the gospel, that every man will be treated according to the advantages which he has had, and the use which he has made of them. "To whom much is given, of him much will be required." "There is no respect of persons with God; for as many as have sinned without law, shall perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law, in that day when God shall judge the secrets of men according to the gospel." VOL. IV.