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thema, all these persons must be destitute of the
means of salvation.'' Some may choose to speak of this as inconsistent with the divine perfections ; but I must be silent, and adore those depths which I cannot fathom: or at most say, “ Shall not the “ Judge of all the earth do right?” If the nations, to whom the gospel has not been preached, be indeed“ without Christ, without hope, and without “God in the world ;” do not the words quoted apply to the divine dispensations towards them, as much as to election, and the doctrines connected with it? It is impossible to say that he loved * those to whom he would afford no assistance, and ' who he knew, for want of that assistance, must
infallibly suffer all the horrors of guilt, and the * pain of eternal punishment.' The decree is not, in this passage, at all mentioned; but merely the actual conduct of the glorious God. On the other hand, how can we be truly thankful for our religious advantages, and means of salvation, if we do indeed believe, that they who have not “ the “ oracles of God” sent to them, nor the gospel preached to them, are in no very deplorable condition? How shall we be stimulated to communicate our blessings to “ those who sit in darkness “ and in the shadow of death?” Why did our Lord command his disciples to “
go into all the “ world, and preach the gospel to every crea“ ture?” or why did apostles, and evangelists, and martyrs, not "count their lives dear to them“ selves," in executing this commission –Certainly the argument of this passage proves, if it prove any thing, that God, in order to act con
sistently with his love and mercy, if not with his justice, must actually send the means of salvation to all men in every part of the world. This in fact he has not done: and shall we venture to arraign our Creator at the tribunal of our purblind reason ?-If God cannot be said to love those to whom he does not send the means of salvation, though he knows they are perishing for the want of them ; can he be said to love those to whom he has sent the means of salvation, but whom he yet leaves to perish in unbelief; He knows that they are perishing for want of faith ; he is able to give them faith, and to new create them to holiness; yet he does not put forth his power to save them. Apart from all decrees, this is fact. Is it from the want of love ? or is it that love and grace must “abound in all wisdom” and understanding :-It may be said, that they wilfully reject the gospel, and deserve their doom : but will it also be said, that they, who have not the gospel, do not sin against the light which they have, and do not deserve their doom-a lighter doom, it is true; but yet deserved, whether decreed, or inflicted without a decree. If God do not accompany the gospel with his special grace to render it successful, it is plain, whether he decreed it before, or purposed it at the moment, it would shew his
determination that they should add to their guilt, ‘ and increase their condemnation.' The gospel alone does not raise us ' from a death in sin to a “ life of righteousness ;' else all who hear it would be thus raised: but, if men be not thus made alive to God by his life-giving spirit, the gospel will be the inevitable occasion of their more heinous wickedness, and sorer punishment.—“ We are If we were present during the horrors of a tremendous earthquake, or when a large ship, full of men, was on fire, or dashed upon a rock ; should we not be bound, even at the hazard of our lives, to do all in our power to rescue the wretched sufferers? But is not God present: Is he not omnipotent: Could he not rescue them? Yet he leaves them to perish! Let us then not imagine, that the infinitely wise God is bound to do all, which he has made it our duty to do in similar circumstances. He requires from us what it is proper that we should do; and he decrees and acts in a manner worthy of himself: but “ he giveth not “ account of any of his matters.” 1 He declares that he“ visits the iniquities of the fathers upon " the children :” yet he forbade the judges of Israel to do this. 2
It was proper for God to do it, but not for man. He commanded Joshua and Israel to slaughter the Canaanites indiscriminately; and many have been the blasphemies uttered on that subject : yet it was proper for the Judge of all the earth to give this command, and for them to execute it: but, if any person, without such a command, should presume to copy the example, he would be exposed to most severe punishment for so doing.
If the salvation of sinful men be altogether a dispensation of unmerited mercy, every part of it must be the same. Had not “ God sent his only “ begotten Son to be the Saviour of the world,” which he, surely, was not bound to do, we must all, according to the oracles of God, have perished; and he would have been glorious in justice, though Job xxxiii. 13.
? Deut. xxiv. 16.
not in mercy, on account of our condemnation. Yet, if in the immensity of creation there are other orders of rational offending creatures, (which may be the case for what we know,) he might have glorified his mercy in their salvation. Having sent his Son into the world, and all things having been made ready by the redemption and glorification of the great Mediator; he might have withheld from us “ the word of the truth of the gospel,” which was not in justice due to any one. We then should have “ perished for lack of know
ledge;" he would have glorified his justice in our merited condemnation ; and, sending his word of life to other regions, he might have glorified his rich mercy in their salvation. Or, having sent it to us, when we were, as all are of themselves, indisposed to embrace it with due valuation, and disposed rather to put it from us; he was not on that account bound in justice to do any thing further: he might have left us to our perverse choice, and glorified his justice in our condemnation, and his mercy in the salvation of others, who through grace obeyed the call.' No claim, of
No claim, of any kind, can be made by a sinner on his offended Creator, till he actually believes with a true and living faith; and then the only claim is grounded on the faithfulness of God to those promises which he has mercifully given, and which by his grace he has enabled that sinner to believe with a true and living faith. Nothing which God has given to any one of Adam's fallen race was, in any sense, due to him : all, and every part of it, might have been withheld, consistently with divine justice, and every other perfection. He has done for us
all, and given to us all, far more than we had any right to; and as much as in his infinite wisdom he saw proper to bestow, as well as immensely more than we deserve. But in this concern sinners, in their own cause, are not likely to be impartial judges.—“What could have been done more to my
vineyard, which I have not done in it? where
fore, when I looked for grapes, brought it forth “ wild grapes ?”] Instead of replying against God, as if he were bound to do more for us than he has done ; it behoves us to bless and thank him for what he has, of his rich and wholly unmerited mercy, done for us ; and to beg of him, without ceasing, that we may so profit by his past benefits as to receive, of his abundant grace, whatever is still needful to our everlasting salvation.
"He who hath “ trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of
grace,” that is, he who has rejected the offered · terms of salvation, is said to be“ sanctified by the · blood of the covenant;" that is, to have been capable of sharing in the benefits of Christ's death.' 2
Do the words, “ By whom he was sanctified,” refer to Christ, or to the apostate? The opinion of commentators is divided ; and it must be supposed that I prefer the former interpretation. It does not appear that the word sanctify is used in the New Testament concerning any persons
under the Christian dispensation, except true believers ; and especially not to signify those, who merely ' have been made capable of sharing in the bene· fits of Christ's death. All are capable of sharing
* Ref. 197, 198.
1 Isaiah v.