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Rom. viii. 6. they have no beauty in their souls, how comely soever their bodies are; it is grace, and nothing but grace, thaj. beautifies the inner man, Ezek. xvi. 6, 7. The dead have neither comfort nor beauty in them: they have no hope to be with God in glory; for the lise of glory is begun in grace, Phil. i. 6. their graves must be shortly made, to be buried out of the fight of God, for ever, in the lowest hell, the pit digged by justice for all that are spiritually dead: the dead must be buried. Can such considerations as these draw no pity from your souls, nor excite your endeavours for their regeneration? then it is to be feared your souls are dead as well as theirs. O pity them, pity them, and pray for them; in this cafe only, prayers for the dead are our duty: who knows, but, at the last, God may hear your cries, and you may lay with comfort, as he did, " This my Ion "was dead, but is alive; was lost, but is found; and they be"gm to be merry," Luke. xv. 24.
Condemnation of Unbelievers, opened and applied.
1 John iii. 18. But he that believeth not, is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of Cod.
IH R IS T having discoursed with Nicodemus, in the beginning of this chapter, about the necessity of regeneration, foceeds to (hew, in this following discourse, the reason, and ound, why regeneration, and faith, are so indispenfibly neces■y, viz. because there is no other way to set men free from e curse, and condemnation of the law. The curse of the law, like the fiery serpents in the wilderness, hath smitten every sinner whh a deadly stroke, and sling, for which there is no cure, but Christ lifted up in the gospel," as Moses lifted up the serpent in "the wilderness," ver. 14. Neither doth Christ cure any, but those that, believingly, apply him to their own souls. The resuit, and conclusion of all, you have in my jext; "He that be"lieveth in him, is not condemned; but he that believeth npt, "is condemned already," be. In this clause, which I have pitched upon, we find these three parts; !.ifciji[hic sin threatened, viz. Unbelief. 2. The punishment inflicted, viz, Condemnation.
3. The immediate relation of the one to the other ?" he is "condemned already."
First, Let us take into consideration the sin which is here threatened, viz. unbelief; the neglecting, or refusing, of an exalted, and ofsered Jesus. Unbelief is twofold, viz. negative, or positive. Negative unbelief, is the sin of the Heathens, who never had the gospel among them, nor the ofsers of Christ made to them; these cannot believe on him, of whom they have not heard. Positive unbelief, is the si a of men and women under the gospel, to whom Christ is actually opened, and offered, by the preaching of the gospel; but they make light of it, and neglect the great salvation: Receive not Christ into their hearts, nor consent ro the severe, and self-denying terms upon which he is offered. This is the sin threatened.
Secondly, The punishment inflicted, and that is condemnation: word of deep, and dreadful signification; appearing, in this text, as the hand-writting upon the plaister of the wall unto BelteshaiZar, Dan. v. 5. a word, whose deep sense, and emphasis, is fully understood in hell. Condemnations the judgment, or sentence of God, condemning a man to bear the punishment of his eternal wrath for sin; the most terrible of all sentences.
Thirdly, The immediate relation, or respect, this punish* raent hath to that sin of unbelief. The unbeliever is condemned already, (i. e.) he is virtually condemned by the law of God; his mittimus is already made for hell; he is condemned, as a sinner, by the breach of the first covenant; but that condemnation had never been his ruin, except it had been ratified by thesentehee of God, condemning him, as an unbeliever^ for slighting, and rejecting the grace offered in the second covenant. So that the believer is already, virtually, con• demned by both, as he is a sinner, and as he is an unbeliever; as he hath transgressed the law, and as he hath refused the gos' pel; as he hath contracted sin the moral disease, and refused Christ, the only effectual remedy. He is, ..virtually, condemned now, and Will be,. sententially, condemned in the judgment of the great day. Unbelief .is his great sin, and condensation is his great misery. Hence the observation will be this:
Dqd.'That all unbelievers are presently, and immediately under the just, and dreadful sentence of God's condemnation. John xii.48. "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my "words, hath one that judgeth him: The word that I *'. have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John in. 36. "He that believeth not the Son, shall not see _ "lifc, but the wrath of God ab^deth on him." j .„-"
Three things are to be opened in the doctrinal part of this point iO
1. What unbelief, or the not receiving of Jesus Christ, is.
2. What condemnation, the punishment of this sin, is. '%, Why this punishment unavoidably follows that sin. . first, What the sin of unbelief, or not receiving Christ, is.
By unbelief, we are not here to understand the relics, or remains of that sin in the people of God, which is mixed with their impersect saith; for there is some unbelief still mingled with saith, in the best hearts: He that can say, *« Lord, 1 believe," hath cause enough to cry out, with tears, "help thou my unbelief." However, this doth not bring the soul under condemnation, or into the state of wrath; the word condemns this unbelief in, them, but doth not condemn their persons for this unbelief s But the unbelief here spoken of, is the neglecting, or refusing to take Christ, upon the terms of the gospel, and ib is exclusive of the laving act, and efsects of saith.
First, It is exclusive of the saving act of saith, which (as hath been already declared) is the due receiving of Christ offered in the gospel, consenting to take him upon his own terms. This, the unbeliever will by no means be persuaded to do; he will be persuaded to accept the promises of Christ, but not to accept the person of Christ: He is willing to accept Christ in part, a divided Christ, but not to accept Christ entirely, in all his.offices. He will accept the righteousness of Christ, in conjunction with his own righteousness; but he will not accept the righteousness of Christ, as the sole matter of his justification, exclusive of his own righteousness; he is willing to wear the crown of Christ, but cannot be persuaded to bear the cross of Christ. Thus Christ and unbelievers part upon terms ; God will come down no lower, and the unbeliever will come up no higher: God will not alter his terms, and the unbeliever will not alter his resolution; and so Christ is refused, salvation neglected, and in effect the unbeliever chuseth rather to be damned, than to comply with the severe terms of self-denial, mortification, and bearing the cross of Christ. Thus it excludes the saving act of
'Tis exclusive of the saving fruits and effects of < produces love to God, but the unbeliever doth not 7 love him; " But I know you (saith Christ to unbelievers) at the love of God is not in you," John v. 42. Faith purifies the heart of a believer, but the hearts of unbelievers are full of all impurity. The believer overcomes the world, the Voi.HI. H
But is the gospel cast him, as an unbeliever, a man that .finally rejects Jesus Christ, whom it offers to him, all the world cannot save that man. O then what a dreadful word is condemnation! All the evils, and miseries of this lise are nothing to it. Put all afflictions, calamities, sufferings, and miseries of this world into one scale, and this sentence of God into the other, and they will be all lighter than a seather.
Thirdly, In the next place, I fhall shew you that this punishment, viz. condemnation, must unavoidably follow that fin of unbelief. So many unbelieving persons as be in the world, so many condemned persons there are in the world; and this will appear two ways.
1. By considering what unbelief excludes a man from.
2. By considering what unbelief includes a man under.
First, Let us consider what unbelief excludes a man from; and it will be found, that it excludes him from all that may help, and save him. For,
First, It excludes him from the pardon of sin, John viii. 24. "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." Now be that dies under the guilt'of all his sins, must needs die in a state of wrath, and condemnation for ever. "For the wages of "fin is death," Rom. vi. 23. If a man may be saved without 1 pardon, then may the unbeliever hope to be siwed.
Secondly, Unbelief excludes a man from all the saving benefits that come by the sacrifice, or death of Christ. For if saith be the only instrument that applies, and brings home to the foul the-benefits of the blood of Christ, as unquestionably it is; then unbelief must of necessity exclude a man from all those benefits, and consequently leave him in the state of death, and condemnation. Faith is the applying cause, the instrument by which we receive the special saving benefit of the blood of Christ, Rom. vt Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood." Eph. ii. 8. "By grace are ye saved through "saith." So then, if the unbeliever be acquitted and saved, it raust be without the benefit of Christ's death and sacrifice, which is utterly impossible.
Third/y, Unbelief excludes a man from the saving efficacy, tnd operation of the gospel, by shutting up the heart against it; and crossing the main drift and scope of it; which is to bring up •ifr (0 the terms of salvation. To persuade them to believe, this is its great design, the scope of all its commands, 1 John iii. »J. Mark i. 14, 15. John xii. 36. It is the scope of all its promises; they are written to encourage men to believe, John vi.