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in his family as were as much worse than death, as his crimes were more heinous than the one represented to him by the prophet Nathan, for which he said, the man that hath done this shall surely die. But was David finally rejected from the favor of God ?—No, for he sang “ of mercy and of judgment,” and praised God whom he acknowledged to be his salvation.
It surely will not be contended, that the divine Being pays any peculiar respect to kings, by dealing with their crimes in a more lenient manner, than he does with the crimes of others. It should be allowed that the higher a man's station is in society the greater his criminality if he use his power contrary to his duty.
If then, the king of Israel could be punished here in this life, according to the offence which he had committed, and if he were duly humbled and received into favor, have the wicked now any reason to expect to escape the righteous judgments of God? And have the religious any reason to say, that God will never humble the wicked and receive them all to mercy ? Was every child of Adam a murderous David, and had sins as great as his, stained every soul: Yet would every humble, penitent believer in Jesus say, “ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
It is allowed, if there be some more stiff-necked than others, and harder to be brought into humiliation, we may not yet have mentioned them; but we shall find them in the case of the pharisee. He, who by the mighty power of grace was converted from a spiritually proud, and persecuting pharisee, to a humble, meek disciple of Jesus, whom he had persecuted, is such a trophy of divine mercy, we now hold him up before you all as an example of God's dealings with all the proud and all them which do wickedly." What does St. Paul say of himself? “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering
for a pattern for them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." Was every son and daughter of human nature a persecuting Saul, yet there would be hope that they might all be brought to say,
Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?- But when it pleased him who separated me from my mother's womb and called me by his grace, to reveal his son in me, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.”
Is it necessary to name a fourth particular instance, and shall it be selected from among the erring daughters of Eve? Consider then the case of Mary Magdalene out of whom the bruiser of the serpent's head cast seven devils. Was every man, woman and child in the world as possessed as was this woman, who was a sinner, yet might the grace of the Redeemer bring them all to wash his feet with the tears of penitence, and annoint him with the precious ointment of much love and humble gratitude.
A hope is entertained that the hearer will not be disposed to say, if all this be true we may indulge in every sin and abomination. Of the whole seven that were cast out, this argument is the worst. This is ingratitude the basest of all the serpent tribe.
Did the king of Babylon find by experience that because God was able to abase those who walk in pride, it was therefore as well to walk in pride as to be hum ble ? Did David find by experience, that sin against God and his fellow creatures was attended with no evil ? Must sin be rolled as a sweet morsel under the tongue? Must a guilty, conscience be esteemed as a friend that sticketh closer than a brother ? Our
argument to prove the doctrine of the impartial goodness of God towards all men, does in no sense deny his divine severity toward the wicked.
By understanding our text in the way we have explained it, we discover its harmony with other passages where similar language is used; we also see its agreement with the united testimony of scripture respecting the divine will and purpose concerning the reconciliation and salvation of sinners.
But in the common way of understanding this passage, it is made to contradict the whole scheme of the gospel, and to represent every subject of divine grace as an object of never ending wrath.-Such absurdities are constantly reiterated from our pulpits, and in almost all sermons the glaring contradiction is urged on the hearers, that sinners, are the objects of divine love, and eternal vengeance; that Jesus came into our world for the express purpose of saving sinners, and that sinners must be endlessly miserable. There can be no wonder that the common people are getting to be weary of such preaching, nor is there any just reason of complaint if attempts are making to effect a reformation.
Not only is it our duty to endeavor to explain particular passages in a way to bring them into the general theme of the scriptures, but due attention should be paid to understand the scriptures in a way to agree with the disposition and conduct which the religion of Jesus Christ requires. Suppose then, that we adopt the common opinion of our text, and contend that the Holy Ghost moved the Prophet to set forth the endless misery of “ all the proud and all them that do wickedly,” in the language of this passage, will it then be easy to reconcile this with the disposition which our religion requires us to exercise toward our enemies, and with our duty to mankind ? Can we see the propriety of loving those who we believe are the objects of the unmerciful vengeance of our Creator of praying for those who we believe are predestinated to endless suffering?
But if we understand our text and the scriptures in general to teach the doctrine of reconciliation, and to support the joy inspiring belief that he, who gave himself a ransom for all men, will finally see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; that he who sets a refiner and purifier of silver, will eventually purify the wicked from all sin, humble the proud, and give all to know the Lord, whom to know is life eternal, it seems that the christian duty of loving all men, doing good to all men, and praying for all men is perfectly consistent with such a belief.
There is another particular rule according to which particular passages, and indeed the scriptures in general should be explained ; that is, the knowledge of the truth gives joy to the heart. St. Paul informs us, that “ charity rejoiceth in the truth.” It is then an evidence that we rightly understand the scripture, if the love of God shed abroad in the heart can rejoice in the sentiment. This christian audience is now affectionately called on to try the sentiment usually supported by the text under consideration, by the rule last suggested. If you can truly say that you sincerely love all mankind, that you entertain that charity for all which suffereth long and is kind, can you say that you rejoice in the belief, that millions of your fellow creatures are predestinated to endless sufferings? This you all acknowledge is impossible. How then can God, who is love itself, ordain a dispensation of severity, the design of which is to perpetuate the sufferings of his own offspring as long as he shall exist ?
My bretheren, “ there is peace in believing and joy in the Holy Ghost.” But is there any peace or joy in believing in this doctrine of never-ending misery? There surely is not. But if we really believe in the divine testimony, which plainly shows that it is the plan of God, manifested in Christ Jesus, to finish sin and to make an end of transgressions, to take away our sins, to reconcile the world to himself; and that all his judgments and his mercies are wisely directed to effect this blessed object, we can " rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.” But while we rejoice in the consoling belief, that all the judgments of God will finally eventuate in the reduction of all the proud and all them that do wickedly' to obedience, let us be wise for ourselves, and adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, by doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly before God.
THE STORY OF JOSEPH, AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE HIS
TORY OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM.
DEUTERONOMY, xxxiii, 16, 17.
Let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
The events which the divine historian has recorded, respecting Joseph the son of the patriarch Jacob, form a subject remarkably instructing to every attentive ob
The treatment he received from his brethren was of such a peculiar cast, that Moses the prophet of the Lord, more than four hundred years afterward, in the blessing pronounced on his family, makes the honorable mention of his being separated from his brethren which we find in our text.
This memorable separation, the causes which occasioned it, the circumstances which attended it; the wisdom and goodness of God manifested by it and the rich blessings which finally came on him in consequence of his having been separated from his brethren, will form matter for the first general section of the present discourse.
Moved with envy, Joseph's brethren sold him to the Ishmaelites, who were going from Gilead with spies into Egypt, where Joseph was again sold for a bond slave. The causes which seemed to occasion this deadly envy were the following. Joseph was the son of his fathers old age, and until about the time of his being sold, the only child of the beloved Rachael. It seems rather difficult to determine whether Benjamin