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ed by the testimony of our text is, that neither sin nor any thing else was ever the cause of enmity in God toward man.
Though this proposition is of immense consequence, it seems to have been overlooked by our divines, who have constantly represented the divine Being to be full of wrath and tremendous indignation against sinners. And yet the passage under consideration is a direct and plain testimony against all that has ever been said on this subject.
The hearer is requested to notice, with attention, the two propositions which are in direct opposition to each other, and which are the foundations of true and false doctrine. One proposition asserts that God loves sinners, and that nothing ever can cause hiin to do otherwise ; and the other contends that God hates the sinner, and will eternally exercise unmerciful wrath on the transgressor. If one of these be true, the other must be false; they cannot both be true, nor can they both be false. But which is true ?
As there is like to be some dispute on this subject, and as the hearer will wish to have it so conducted, as to make a clear distinction, both between the parties, and their respective arguments, we will give to the parties distinguishing names. The party, who contends that God loves the sinner, we will call Light, and the one who contends for the contrary proposition we will call DARKNESS. Do
you ask why these names are chosen? Because light seems to be expressive of love, and darkness of hatred. And the beloved John says, “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light-But he that hateth his brother is in darkness.”
Let us hear what darkness argues in support of his favorite proposition, viz. that God hates the sinner.
He says, as God is a Being of infinite holiness and purity he cannot love unholiness and impurity, but must, consistently with his own essential attributes, hate sin in an exact proportion to his love of righteousness; and as the sinner is not righteous, but sinful;
is not holy, but unholy ; is not pure, but impure, God must of necessity hate the sinner.
Light replies; Though I grant your premises, yet I cannot concede to your conclusion. So far from allowing your conclusion to be a just deduction from your premises, I shall contend that it is in direct opposition to them, and if it could be maintained as a truth, it must be by disproving the argument from which you deduce it.
The amount of your argument is, that God is opposed to sin. This I grant. Now tell me, Darkness, what is sin ?
Sin is the transgression of the law. What does the law require? Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy strength, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Rightly answered. Now, Darkness, do you not see that hatred is the transgression of, and the only sin that can be committed against this law? If it be sin for man to hate God, is it holiness for God to hate man? In room of hating sin, you contend that God hates the sinner, that is, he hates the man who hates him. Thus you deny your cwn premises. For there is no more holiness in God's hating man, than there is in man's hating God; there is no more righteousness in any supposed enmity in God toward man, than there is in man's enmity toward God.
Darkness says, that this argument is blasphemy, that it accuses God with unholiness and sin.
Light denies the charge, and says; It is you, Darkness, that accuses God with this unholy spirit of hatred. To illustrate the subject light uses the following metaphor.
The parent of a family of children gives to his offspring a law which requires them all to love him sincerely, and to love each other, but these children fall out by the way, get wrong notions respecting their parent's character and law, and are filled with hatred toward him, toward his law, and toward one another. In consequence of this the parent, in room of loving his children as he did when he first gave them this ·law, now hates them and is full of enmity towards his disobedient offspring. What a sad scene is here ! The children are enemies to their parent, and what is worse, the parent is an enemy to his children!
Let candor judge in this case, let enlightened reason decide the question, which is worst, for the child to hate the parent, or for the parent to hate the child? Though the light shineth in darkness, yet the darkness comprehendeth it not.
If the death of Christ for sinners was a commendation of the love of God toward us, it certainly proves, beyond all contradiction, that sin, nor any thing else had caused any hatred or enmity in God toward inan.
The second thing which we shall consider as proved by the declaration of our text is, that the common opinion and doctrine of the church, which has represented the death of Christ as necessary in order to reconcile God to mankind is erroneous.
This error has been exposed and disproved in some of our former lectures, but as it is an error of such vast magnitude, involving such palpable absurdities, representing God as a changeable Being; and as it is so generally believed among various denominations, it seems proper to notice it in our discourse from the words under consideration, by which the error is so fully exploded.
The error under consideration supposes, that mankind in consequence of sin, was under the divine wrath of God, which required the endless misery of the transgressor: and that Jesus Christ suffered the wrath of God in room and stead of the sinner, by which God became reconciled and satisfied. The statement is made thus plain, that the hearer may have a distinct view of the subject, and be able to judge after hearing what
may be offered on it. That this testimony is by no means too high colored, may be seen by the following quotations from our hymns. But before we attend to the quotations, let it be observed, that we hold these hymns, in general, in high estimation, and the authors of them as bright and shining lights in the christian constellation ; but after all we are disposed to do ourselves justice by gathering the good into vessels, and by casting the bad away.
“Once we were fallen, O how low;
appease the wrath divine.
Here are endless woes, endless pains, Divine wrath, the Father's wrath, the wrath of an offended God, an unreconciled heaven, all which stood threatening mankind, but were poured forth on the devoted head of Jesus, by which we are saved from the wrath of God.
My brethren, such language as this certainly represents our Father in heaven, to be a changeable Being, and a Being capable of exercising the greatest possible enmity. It supposes that our merciful Father was so full of wrath, that he was just on the point of sending mankind to a state of endless wo, when Jesus stept between us and harm, snatched the thunderbolt from the uplifted hand of stern justice, and received its burning vengeance in his own innocent bosom, at which God was satisfied.
This is the theme our christian doctors have inculcated, and our christian poets have sung, but it is the blackness of darkness which has obscured the beauty of the Divine countenance for ages, and caused the mind to wander in the labyrinth of error.
This error is found in that creed, which lay on our cradles in our infancy, and our dear mothers taught us to repeat with infant lips, and to say, “ All mankind oy the fall, lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse; and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.”
In opposition to this erroneous representation, let us place our text together with a few concurrent passages.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins hath quickened us together with Christ."
These passages, which are but a specimen of the gospel, fully prove the following facts.
I. That God loved the sinful world of mankind with a great love.
II. That in consequence of this love he sent his Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins, And,
III. That in consequence of the love which God had toward those who were dead in sins, he quickened them together with Christ. Now just as plain as these obvious facts are proved by the testimony already recited, so evident it is that the death of Christ was never necessary to reconcile our heavenly Father to us; but was a manifestation of his unchangeable love toward us.
The third particular which you are invited to contemplate relative to our text is, that its subject belongs 10 that covenant of promise which was the Apostle's theme which led him to speak these words. may have a clear view of this, let us first examine the character of the promise made to Abraham, by which he was constituted the heir of the world and the Father of us all; and then bring our text to compare with the promise, that their union may be visible. The pro