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They complain that this doctrine holds out no reward for righteousness; if God has mercy on the sinner, then there is no encouragement to serve him; if sinners are not to be punished eternally, it is no matter what they do. So murmured the laborers who bore the burthen and the heat of the day, at the good man who humbled their pride by making the last equal with them.

Their eye was evil because goodness had extended beyond the narrow limits of their creed. They had lotted on the gratification which they expected in seeing those, who spent so much of their time in idleness, destitute and pennyless. Similar calculations are now made, and pretended saints are exulting in the expectation of the joys which they are to inherit in heaven in seeing sinners in endless perdition.

So complained the elder brother, because his father kindly received the prodigal, and killed for his entertainment the fatted calf. Such was his resentment that he would not go into the house. Similar resentment is now manifested, and the proud boasting Pharisee is heard to say “If sinners are going to heaven, I wish not to bear them company.

O that these deceived souls could be introduced to, and form an acquaintance with so great strangers as they are to themselves.

Then should we hear from them a different language. Then would they say, if there be mercy for sinners, then is there a ray of hope for us. If Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, then are we the objects of his unmerited favor.

My christian friends, you are most humbly and affectionately entreated not to construe the faithfulness of this discourse, to signify that the speaker harbors one unfriendly feeling towards any denomination or name in the world. The sole object is to set truth before you, to show the difference between true and false religion, to endear the character, the doctrine, and spirit of Jesus to your hearts; and to give you occasion to trust and to rejoice in his grace.

« Let Pharisees of high esteem,
Their faith and zeal declare ;
All their religion is a dream,
If love be wanting there."

God is love, and love worketh no ill. Through all worlds, and to all beings, God is love. With him there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning. What he has been, and what he is now, is what he will forever remain.

Let us, my dear friends, imitate our Father in heaven; let us love our neighbors as ourselves, let us love our enemies and pray for them.

26 *

LECTURE XXII.

GOD'S UNCHANGEABLE LOVE TO SINNERS THE CAUSE

OF CHRIST'S MISSION.

ROMANS, v. 8.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sin

ners,

Christ died for us.

The general subject, on which the Apostle labored, which led him to the statement made in our text, was to show that the justification of man unto spiritual life, depended on a covenant of promise, and not on a law of works. In the preceding chapter our author is remarkably explicit, where he says, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” And speaking of the faith of Abraham, even before circumcision, he says, “ For the promise that he should be the heir of the world,, was not to Abraham or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect. Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed: not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” The faith of which the Apostle here speaks, is the same which he calls “ the covenant of promise" in Ephesians ii. 12. It is an egregious mistake to suppose that Abraham's believing in the promise of God, is the “righteousness of faith," by which he was constituted the heir of the world ; for Abraham could not believe the promise that he should be the heir of the world un

own

til such promise was communicated to him, and this promise could not have been communicated to him, at an earlier date than the establishment of its

truth in the purpose of him who made the promise.

This covenant of promise is the FAITH, of which the Apostle again speaks in the beginning of this chapter as follows; "Therefore, being justified by FAITH, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That this faith, by which we are justified, is not our act of believing, will appear evident by the connexion in which the Apostle here places it. That we may understand this subject cleariy, we must disregard the division of these two chapters, and read the last verse of the fourth chapter and the first of the fifth together. Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle says, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we h ve peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." Here it is evident that the inspired Apostle makes the resurrection of Christ, and the faith by which we are justified the same; by which it is evident, that by Faith he no more meant the act of believing, than he meant that the resurrection of Jesus, for our justification, was the act of believing.

This Faith, which is the covenant of promise, the Apostle, distinguishes most clearly from the act of believing in chapter 3d, as follows; "For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid : yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.”

No one will suppose that the faith of God is his act of believing, for the act of believing is a consequence resulting from the power of evidence in the mind, which power can never act in the mind of him who is omniscient. But this FAITH of God is his covenant of promise, made known to Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the giving of the law by Moses ; concerning which cove-nant our author speaks to the Galatians as follows; “ And this I say, that the covenant that was confirm

ed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” This covenant of promise this author again calls faith in the 11th of Hebrews. “ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.' The substance of what we hope for is not our act of believing, but the thing in which we believe.

It was thought needful to be thus particular on this subject, for two reasons,

I. To expose the common error which supposes, that our act of believing is required as a condition of our justification before God. This error has so confused the minds of professors of Christianity, that they know not how to explain their own thoughts. They believe that God requires our act of believing as a condition of our justification; and it is constantly held up and urged that our everlasting destruction will be the just recompense of our unbelief. But if we ask what there is for us to believe, there is no answer. For if the thing to be believed were stated, the next question would be, shall the unbelief of man make the faith of God without effect? And,

II. Because it was in the fulfilling of his covenant of promise, that God commended his love to sinners by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The particular mode by which the Apostle presented the testimony contained in our text was by drawing a comparison between the compassion or goodness of man, and the compassion or goodness of God. The following are his words; "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the un godly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for

Here the comparison is clear and striking to the mind; and evidently shows that the design of the Apostle was to show that the love of God to sinners is vastly stronger than the love of man toward man.

The first particular which we shall consider as prov

us."

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