« PreviousContinue »
the wicked forsake his way, and the uprighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Ezekiel says, “Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die?” And the Apostle Paul calls upon the enemies of God, in the most solemn and endearing manner, to become immediately friendly to him. “Now then we are embassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God." Amen.
ON THE SPECIAL AND IRRESISTIBLE GRACE. OF.
GOD IN THE CONVERSION OF SINNERS.
PSALM CX, 3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.
THE great scheme of our redemption was concerted, by the sacred Trinity, before the foundation of the world. The Father and Son mutually agreed, in the early days of eternity, to perform distinct parts, in carrying into execution this gracious design. The Son engaged to become incarnate, and lay down his life in the room of sinners. And the Father engaged to give the Son a certain number of the human race, as a reward for his sufferings and death. It is, therefore, in reference to this original covenant between the Father and the Son, that the former says to the latter in the text, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” These words naturally suggest this plain truth to our present consideration:
That God is able, by an act of his power, to make those willing to be saved, whom he has given to Christ.
In illustrating this subject, I shall endeavor to make
1. That God has given a certain number of mankind to Christ.
II. That they are naturally unwilling to be saved.
III. That God is able, by an act of his power, to make them willing.
I. I am to make it appear, that God has given a certain number of mankind to Christ.
The evangelical Prophet, speaking of the suffering Savior, expressly declares, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travel of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” Agreeably to this and to other similar promises, Christ himself declares in the tenth of John, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any main pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me,
is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” For these, in distinction from others, Christ prays in particular, just before his death. “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest
I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am.” This portion of mankind the Apostle Paul often mentions, under various appellations. He calls them the fulness of Christ, the body of Christ, and the members of Christ. He represents them as originally predestinated to perfect holiness and future glory. “We know, says he, that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren, Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Such is the united testimony of the inspired writers, that the Father hath given the Son a certain number of the fallen race, who shall be made holy in this life, and happy in the next. This leads me to show,
II. That these persons, like the rest of mankind, ar: naturally unwilling to be saved.
The text clearly conveys this idea. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” This mode of expression plainly implies, that antecedent to the day of divine power, the people of Christ are unwilling to be saved. And this will more clearly appear, if we consider,
1. That they are naturally enemies to Christ. They are represented under this character in the context. “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” And again, "Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. This is the true character of all sinners, without exception. Our Savior, who was perfectly acquainted with the hearts of the unregenerate, plainly told them, that they were serpents, a generation of vipers, and the children of the devil. And speaking of the same per. sons, to whom he had preached, and before whose eyes he had done many mighty works, he says, “Now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law. They hated me without a cause." The elect, as well as the non-elect, naturally possess a spirit of opposition to Christ; and so long as they remain enemies to him, they say in their hearts, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
2. It appears from the conduct of sinners under the gospel, that they are unwilling to be saved. When Christ called upon them to come to him for life, they soon discovered a strong disposition to reject his
gracious invitations. This led him to tell them in plain terms, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” And he foretold, in the parable of the gospelfeast, that sinners would, in time to come, treat the offers of salvation with the same neglect and contempt. “Then said he unto them, a certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse.” This prediction has been fulfilled all over the christian world. How many thousands of the fallen race have been invited to accept of salvation, who have finally refused? And where bas one been found, who was naturally willing, to submit to the terms of life? Universal experience proves, that all men are naturally unwilling to believe in Christ. Though some sinners seem to be more friendly to the gospel than others; yet it appears from the conduct of all, that they are naturally and equally unwilling to comply with the terms of life. They do, indeed, make different excuses for slighting the gospel; but it is the same evil heart of unbelief, which leads them to reject the counsel of God against themselves. The three thousand, who were converted on the day of Pentecost, were as heartily opposed to Christ, before their conversion, as any, who imbrued their hands in his blood. Paul persisted in despising and opposing the gospel, until his heart was effectually subdued, by an act of irresistible grace. And all, who are now the friends of Christ, were once his real enemies, and totally unwilling to embrace the offers of