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differently. There must be therefore an essential, radical difference between the hearts of saints and the hearts of sinners; while the latter hate, and the former love the moral excellence of the divine character.
3. If God be perfectly good and his goodness spreads a moral beauty and excellence over all his perfections ; then there is nothing to hinder sinners from loving him but merely their own selfishness. If they possessed any true benevolence or disinterested love, they would discern the glory and excellence of the divine benevolence and feel a pleasure in cordial reconciliation to God. And there is nothing that prevents their discerning the beauty and glory of God's benevolence, which spreads a beauty and glory over all his other perfections, and all the displays of them, in his works, in his providence, and in his word, but their selfishness. They are very loth, however, to own that this is the only difficulty in the way of their loving God. They sometimes plead, that their ignorance of God prevents their loving him. But they have no ignorance in their understanding, but what arises from the blindness of their hearts; and notwithstanding this blindness, they know enough of God to hate him, and consequently enough to love him. They more commonly and confidently plead, that they have a hard and evil heart, which they can neither soften, nor change. But they have no heart but what consists in free, voluntary cxercises, which they are able to change, and which God requires them to change. It is only because they hate God, that they cannot love him. But can their hating God, whose goodness renders him infinitely amiable, be a good excuse for not loving him? Their reason and conscience tell them, that all the excuses they ever have made, or can make,
only serve to discover their selfishness and criminality in hating a being, whom they are able and bound to love with supreme affection.
4. If the supreme glory of God consists in his goodness ; then the more clearly his goodness is exhibited before the minds of sinners, the more difficult they als ways find it to be to love him. Christ exhibited the impartial, disinterested, universal goodness of God in the clearest and strongest light in his public and private discourses ; and of all the doctrines he preached, this was the most disagreeable and stumbling to sinners. They called it a hard saying, and some sair', " Who then can be saved ?”! It was too hard for the amiable young man to hear and bear, and he went away sorrowful. While sinners have a low and obscure view of the moral glory and excellence of the divine character, they are apt to think that they can, and even do love God. But when his pure, holy, impartial benevolence is clearly exhibited, they are ready to lament their moral weakness, and cry that it is im. possible for them to love God for their carnal mind is perfect enmity against him. Their selfishness cannot be reconciled to his benevolence. And the more clearly his love and benevolence is explained and illustrated, the more difficulty they find in seeing the supreme beauty and glory of it, and he appears less amiable, than the most unamiable and odious being in the uni.
disinterested love, instead of spreading a beauty over all bis perfections, and works, and ways, and words, involves the whole world and whole universe in darkness, in the view of their totally selfish hearts. Is there a person, who has been under genuine convictions, that does not know this to be true ? There
is no way better adapted to determine whether a man be really blind, than to exhibit light before him ; and so there is no way better adapted to determine whether sinners are morally blind, than to exhibit the supreme, beauty and glory of the divine character before them, and inquire whether they see and love it. Christ said he came into the world to make them blind, who said they saw. And he effectually did it. And so do all, who preach as he did. Those, who are spiritually blind, complain bitterly of such preaching and such preachers. They say they cannot understand them. And when they say so, they prove the total, moral blindness of their own sinful hearts.
5. If saints desire to see the beauty of the Lord; then we see one good reason why they love to attend the public worship of God in his house constantly. David, who desired to see the beauty of the Lord, loved to attend the services of the sanctuary constantly. He loved to be with God in his house and with his people, where God made the brightest displays of his glory and the clearest revelation of his will. He ardently desired constantly to attend the worship and ordinances of God in his house, for the sake of two things especially. One was to gain the knowledge, and the other was to gain the enjoyment of God.... These desires he expresses in the strongest terms in the text. “ One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after.” What is this one thing ? It is “to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord;” that is, to enjoy him ; and “to inquire in his temple,” where his will is revealed in his word. These same desires he as clearly and fervently expresses at different times.
In the sixty-third psalm he devoutly says, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee : my soul thir steth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is : to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” In the eighty-fourth psalm he devoutly cries, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord ; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” Those, who have seen and tasted that the Lord is good, desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby in knowledge and grace, and behold and enjoy the beauty of the Lord. And since these spiritual and divine favors may always be found and always enjoyed in the house and worship of God, all good men desire constantly to attend the services of the sanctuary, and deeply regret being providentially prevented. They will take more care and surmount more and greater difficulties to attend public worship, than to attend to their own personal, secular concerns. It must be allowed, therefore, that those professors, who constantly attend the worship and ordinances of God in his house, do exhibit one beautiful evidence, that they love the courts of the Lord and find a pleasure in inquiring in his temple, and beholding his beauty. While on the other hand, it cannot be denied, that those, who are careless and negligent in attending the sacred duties and services of the sanctuary, lack one evidence of their sincerity. Here thon let me ask those, who have come to the table of Christ this day, whether they have exhibited more evidence of their sincerity, than of their insincerity, in the respects. There is no doubt, that some have exhibited more evidence of sincerity, than of insincerity.
And can there be a doubt, whether some have not exhibited more evidence of insincerity, than of sincerity ?
This subject now speaks both to the sincere, and to the insincere. To the sincere it says, you have desired to see the beauty of the Lord in the sanctuary, and you have seen and enjoyed it there. You have inquired in his temple, and grown in knowledge and grace. You resolve to dwell in the house of the Lord, and tread his courts every sabbath, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, beseeching God to shew you his glory. He has promised to meet you and bless you where he has recorded his name, as long as you live, and afterwards to fix you in his temple above, to go out no more forever. Can there be a brighter prospect opened before you ? ? Can
Can you be bound by stronger obligations, and have greater or more endearing motives set before you to be constant, in running the christian race; in attending christian ordinances, and in seeking christian enjoyments ?
But this subject speaks a very different language to the insincere, who have not seen, nor desired to see the beauty of the Lord. You have always been in darkness. Your darkness is increasing by all the light which God has exhibited before you, by his works, by his providence, by his word, and by his ordinances.But your present darkness is nothing in comparison with that, to which you are exposed, when the time shall come, which will fix the state of both sincere and insincere professors. “I
“I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness : there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”