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count ventured to be a very great sinner. Though it was very offensive to God, though you heard that God infinitely hated sin, and that such practices as you went on in were exceeding contrary to his nature, will and glory, yet that did not make you uneasy; you heard that he was a very merciful God, and had grace enough to pardon you, and so cared not how offensive your sins were to him. How long have some of you gone on in sin, and what great sins have some of you been guilty of, on that presumption' Your own conscience can give testimony to it, that this has made you refuse God’s calls, and has made you regardless of his repeated commands. Now, how righteous would it be if God should swear in his wrath, that you should never be the better for his being infinitely merciful Your ingratitude has been the greater, that you have not only abused the attribute of God’s mercy, taking encouragement from it to continue in sin, but you have thus abused this mercy, under that very notion of its being exercised towards you, in a supposition that God would exercise infinite mercy to you in particular; which consideration should have especially endeared God to you. You have taken encouragement to sin the more, from that consideration, that Christ came into the world and died to save sinners; that thanks has Christ had from you, for enduring such a tormenting death for his enemies! Now, how justly might it be so, that God should refuse that you should ever be the better for his Son's laying down his life! It was because of these things that you put off seeking salvation: You would take the pleasure of sin still longer, hardening yourself with that, that mercy was infinite, and it would not be too late if you sought it afterwards; now, how justly may God disappoint you in this, and order it so that it shall be too late J 7. How have some of you risen up against God, and in the frame of your minds opposed him in his sovereign dispensations! And how justly upon that account might God oppose you, and set himself against you! You never yet would submit to God; never could willingly comply with it, that
God should have dominion over the world, and that he should govern it for his own glory, according to his own wisdom. You, a poor worm, a potsherd, a broken piece of an earthen vessel, have dared to find fault and quarrel with God. Isa. xlv. 9. “Wo to him that strives with his maker. Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth : Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?” But yet you have ventured to do it. Rom. ix. 20. “Who art thou, Oman, that repliest against God?” But yet you have thought you was big enough; you have taken upon you to call God to an account, why he does thus and thus; you have said to Jehovah, What dost thou ? If you have been restrained by fear from openly venting your opposition and enmity of heart against God’s government, yet it has been in you : You have not been quiet in the frame of your mind; you had the heart of a viper within, and have been ready to spit venom at God; and it is well if sometimes you have not actually done it, by tolerating blasphemous thoughts and malignant risings of heart against him; yea, and the frame of your heart in some measure appeared in an impatient and fretful behavior. Now, seeing you have thus opposed God, how just is it that God should oppose you? Or is it because you are so much better, and so much greater than God, that it is a crime for God to make that opposition against you that you do against him f* Do you think you ought to appropriate the liberty of making opposition to yourself as being your prerogative, so that you may be an enemy to God, but God must by no means be an enemy to you, but must be looked upon under obligation nevertheless to help you, and save you by his blood, and bestow his best blessings upon you ? Consider how in the frame of your mind you have thwarted God in those very exercises of mercy towards others that
* The reader will not understand from this manner of speaking, that Mr. Edwards would be understood to say, that God has at any time, or in any view, the same moral feelings towards the sinner, that the sinner has towards him.
you are seeking for yourself. God’s exercising his infinite grace towards your neighbors, has put you into an ill frame, and it may be, set you into a mere tumult of mind How justly therefore may God refuse ever to exercise that mercy towards you ! Have you not thus opposed God’s shewing mercy to others, even at the very time when you pretended to be earnest with God for pity and help for yourself? Yea, and while you was endeavoring to get something wherewith to recommend yourself to God? And will you look to God still with a challenge of mercy, and contend with him for it notwithstanding? Can you who have such an heart, and have thus behaved yourself, come to God for any other than mere sovereign mercy? - II. If you should be forever cast off by God, it would be agreeable to your treatment of Jesus Christ. It would have been just with God if he had cast you off forever, without ever making you the offer of a Saviour. But God hath not done that, but has provided a Saviour for sinners, and offered him to you, even his own Son Jesus Christ, who is the only Saviour of men: All that be not forever cast off are saved by him: God offers men salvation through him, and has promised us, that if we come to him, we shall not be cast off. But you have treated, and still treat this Saviour after such a manner, that if you should be eternally cast off by God, it would be most agreeable to your behavior towards him; which appears by this, viz. “That you reject Christ, and will not have him for your Saviour.” If God offers you a Saviour from deserved punishment, and you will not receive him, then surely it is just that you should go without a Saviour. Or is God obliged, because you do not like this Saviour, to provide you another? If, when he has given an infinitely honorable and glorious person, even his only begotten Son, to be a sacrifice for sin, in the fire of his wrath, and so provided salvation, and this Saviour is offered to you, you be not suited in him, and refuse to accept him, is Głod therefore unjust if he does not save you? Is he obliged Yol. VII, 2 w |
to save you in a way of your own choosing, because you do not like the way of his choosing? Or will you charge Christ with injustice because he does not become your Saviour, when at the same time you will not have him when he offers himself to you, and beseeches you to accept of him as a Saviour? I am sensible that by this time many persons are ready to open their mouths in objection against this. If all should speak what they now think, we should hear murmuring all over the meetinghouse, and one and another would say, “I cannot see how this can be, that I be not willing that Christ should be my Saviour, when I would give all the world that he was my Saviour: How is it possible that I should not be willing to have Christ for my Saviour, when this is what I am seeking after, and praying for, and striving for, as for my life 2'' Here therefore I would endeavor to convince you, that you are under a gross mistake in this matter. And, 1st, I would endeavor to shew the weakness of the grounds of your mistake. And 2dly, To demonstrate to you, that you have rejected, and do wilfully reject Jesus Christ. 1. That you may see the weakness of the grounds of your mistake, consider, 1st, There is a great deal of difference between a willingness not to be damned, and a being willing to receive Christ for your Saviour. You have the former; there is no doubt to be made of that: No body supposes that you love misery. so well as to choose an eternity of it; and so doubtless you are. willing to be saved from eternal misery. But that is a very different thing from being willing to come to Christ: Persons very commonly mistake the one for the other, but they are quite two things. You may love the deliverance, but hate the deliverer. You tell of a willingness; but consider what is the object of that willingness: It does not respect Christ; the way of salvation by him is not at all the object of it; but it is wholly terminated on your escape from misery. The inclination of your will goes no further than self, it never reaches Christ. You are willing not to be miserable; that is, you love yourself, and there your will and choice terminate. And it is but
a vain pretence and delusion to say or think, that you are willing to accept of Christ. 2d, There is certainly a great deal of difference between a forced compliance and a free willingness. Force and freedom cannot consist together. Now that willingness that you tell of, whereby you think you are willing to have Christ for a Saviour, is merely a forced thing. Your heart does not go out after Christ of itself, but you are forced and driven to seek an interest in him. Christ has no share at all in your heart; there is no manner of closing of the heart with him. This forced compliance is not what Christ seeks of you; he seeks afree and willing acceptance, Psalm cz. 3. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” He seeks not that you should receive him against your will, but with a free will. He seeks entertainment in your heart and choice........And, If you refuse thus to receive Christ, how just is it that Christ should refuse to receive you? How reasonable are Christ's terms, who offers to save all those that willingly, or with a good will, accept of him for their Saviour! Who can rationally expect that Christ should force himself upon any man to be his Saviour? Or what can be looked for more reasonable, than that all that would be saved by Christ, should heartily and freely entertain him 2 And surely it would be very dishonorable for Christ to offer himself upon lower terms. But I would now proceed, 2. To shew that it is really so, that you are not willing to have Christ for a Saviour. To convince you of it, consider, 1st, How impossible it is that you should be willing to accept of Christ as a Saviour from the desert of a punishment that you are not sensible you have deserved. If you are truly willing to accept of Christ as a Saviour, it must be as a sacrifice to make atonement for your guilt: Christ came into the world on this errand, to offer himself as an atonement, to answer for our desert of punishment. But how is it possible that you should be willing to accept of Christ as an atonement for that guilt that you be not sensible that you have ; How can