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JOHN V. 40.
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
At the proper
The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. age, he entered on his public ministry. When he began to preach “ the people were astonished at his doctrine. For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." Even his enemies bore testimony to the excel. lency of his preaching. When the Pharisees and the cheif priests sent officers to take him, the officers having returned and being asked why they had not brought him, answered, “ Never man spake like this man.” The spirit, the manner and the subjects of Christ's preaching were, in a great degree, peculiar to himself. He preached so plainly, that every one knew what he meant.
And he preached so powerfully, that every one felt what he said. In this plain and powerful manner, he exhibited the most important and affecting truths. He taught his hearers the character of
the living and true God, and his universal agency and government. He taught the requirements, the obligation and the penalty of the law. He taught the native and total depravity of mankind, and their desert of the endless punishment, which is threatened in the law of God. He declared the scheme which God devised for the salvation of sinners, and fully stated the conditions of pardon and eternal life. He made known to his hearers the worth of salvation and urged sinners in the most affecting manner, and by the most powerful motives, to repent and believe the gospel, that they might be saved. He taught the certainty and the eternity of the future punishment, which God will inflict upon every person, who refuses, during the present life, to accept the salvation of the gospel. And with the greatest solemnity and compassion, he warned sinners to flee from the wrath to come. Yet his hearers generally refused to accept the offers of life, and disobeyed and opposed his heavenly instructions.
At length, he declared to sinners the real cause of their criminal and dangerous conduct. He said “ ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” In discoursing on these words, it is proposed to prove,
That sinners are unwilling to be saved.
It is designed, first, to explain, and, then, to prove this doctrine. It is, in the first place, to be shewn what is meant when it is said, that sinners are unwilling to be saved.
1. It cannot mean, that they are unwilling to be delivered from future punishment. Every creature, that is capable of sensation, hates misery, and desires to be freed from every de. gree of pain. Mankind are willing to make great exertions and sacrifices, that they may escape, or remove the corporeal pains and disorders, which are experienced in the present life. Whenever any persons realize the endless misery, which awaits the impenitent in the future state, they are restless and distressed day and night, and earnestly enquire, what they must do to be saved. It is certain then, that sinners are willing to be saved from future punishment. Nor,
2. Are sinners unwilling to be for ever happy. A desire for happiness, is as great, and as common, as a hatred of misery." There be many that say-Who will shew us any good ?” All the cares and labors of men are for the purpose of obtaining happiness. They greatly exert themselves for the honors, and pleasures, and possessions of this world. They eagerly embrace every opportunity to obtain what is good in their own sight. No one is regardless of temporal enjoyments. Nor can any person look into eternity and feel no desire for future and eternal happiness. Certainly sinners can never be unwilling to be for ever happy. Nor,
3. When it is said that sinners are unwilling to be saved, is it meant, that they are merely displeased with the conditions of salvation. It is often said, that sinners are willing to be
saved, and would at once accept salvation, if it were offered on different conditions. Sinners commonly imagine, that the conditions of salvation are exceedingly hard, and they sometimes suppose, that with such conditions it is impossible to comply. They flatter them. selves, that if the conditions of salvation were reasonable, they should readily accept the offer of life. Now it is very evident that the conditions of salvation are displeasing to sinners. And it is equally evident that there can be no conditions of salvation, with which they would not be displeased. For on such conditions, as differ from those stated in the gospel, it is not possible that sinners should be saved. That they may be saved they are required in the gospel to cease to do evil, and learn to do well; to repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. By sinning they have brought upon themselves all the miseries of this life, and death itself; and are liable to the pains of hell for ever. While they continue in sin they will be not only more deserving of misery, but also incapable of enjoying rational and
permanent happiness. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” It is then impossible for sinners to be happy, unless they comply with the conditions of salvation, as they are stated in the gospel. If with these conditions they are displeased, on what conditions would they accept salvation ?
In the gospel they are required to come and receive the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life, on the easiest and best conditions. “ Whosoever will, let him take the water of life free. ly.”. As the requirements of the gospel imply nothing more than a consent to receive salvation, sinners cannot be unwilling to be saved, merely on account of the conditions, on which salvation is offered in the gospel. If sinners were willing to be saved, they would not be displeased with the conditions of salvation. What then is meant, when it is said, that sinners are unwilling to be saved ? To this question, it may now be answered, 4. It is meant, that they do not desire, and
not willing to receive the holy salvation of the gospel. This salvation includes a perfect deliverance from sin, as well as from misery, and the eternal enjoyment of the holy happiness of heaven. The Saviour is called Jesus, because he saves his people from their sins. Christ“ loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the word ; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Such is the salvation of the gospel. And this salvation, it has been asserted, sinners, are unwilling to accept.
Here some one, perhaps, may be disposed to say, how can these things be ? You tell us that sinners are willing to be saved from endless