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sons as these, are directly suited to shake the faith and hopes of those, who deny the peculiar doctrines of grace. And it is becoming the only wise God, to take this method to make his grace and power known, in the conversion of sinners, and the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom.
7. If God is able, by an act of his power, to make men willing to be saved; then there is a propriety in praying to him, for the revival of religion and the conVersion of sinners. Those, who disbelieve the doctrine of special grace, and maintain that sinners are converted by moral suasion, are generally very backward in praying for a special divine influence upon the hearts of men. The reason is obvious. They see no propriety in praying to God, that he would change the hearts of men, when they really believe it is out of his power to do it.
to do it. But if it be true, that God has the hearts of all men in his hand, and can bow their wills, with infinite ease, to the sceptre of Christ; then there is great propriety in praying, that he would take his own work into his own hands, and fulfil his gracious promises to Christ and to his people, concerning the prosperity of Zion. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel prayed for the conversion of sinners in Babylon, and their prayers were heard. The Apostles were incessantly praying for the outpourings of the spirit, just before the day of Pentecost; and it was in answer to their prayers, that so many were converted on that joyful occasion. And it is still the constant duty of the people of God, to pray for his gracious influence upon the hearts of sinners, to draw them to Christ. God is abundantly able, to pull down the kingdom of darkness, and build up the kingdom of Christ, through the world. And probably he is only waiting for the fervent and united prayers of his people, for this great and extensive blessing. “Ye that make mention of the Lord, therefore, keep not silence: and give him no rest till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
Finally, the subject, which we have been considera ing, naturally suggests a very serious question to every person: Are you pleased with the doctrine of special grace? If you only answer this question sincerely and truly, you will answer another of infinite importance; and that is, whether you are a saint or a sinner. However saints may differ in other respects, yet they all agree in this; that they are pleased with the doctrine of special grace. They have such a view of their own hearts, and of the hearts of all men, that they could not entertain any hopes of their own, or of any other person's salvation, were it not for the doctrine of special grace. All good men, therefore, rejoice that God is able, by an act of his power, to form his own glorious moral image, in whomsoever he pleases. But, on the other hand, however sinners may differ in other respects, they all heartily agree in this, that they dislike the doctrine of special grace. There is no senti. ment more grating to their feelings, nor more destructive to their hopes. They cannot bear the thought, that all men are in the hands of God, as the clay is in the hands of the potter. The best and the worst sinners in the world, are here perfectly of one mind. They cannot be pleased with the absolute sovereignty of God. Let the question, then, be repeated, and let no person evade an answer. Are you pleased with the doctrine of special grace?
THE DIVINE CONDUCT, IN THE REPROBATION OF INCORRIGIBLE SINNERS, BOTH ILLUSTRATED AND JUSTIFIED.
Exodus ix, 16. In very deed for this cause have I raised thee up. THE history of Pharaoh is extremely interesting to all descriptions of men. It always awakens their feelings, and constrains them to take one side or the other, in the controversy between him and his Maker. Though few will presume to justify the character and conduct of Pharaoh; yet many are bold enough to censure the character and conduct of Jehovah. It is, therefore, a very solemn and important subject, which the words I have read suggest to our serious consideration. God tells Pharaoh to his face, “I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up.” This declaration plainly imports, that God raised up Pharaoh, to fit him for destruction. To vindicate this instance of the divine conduct, will be the business of the ensuing discourse. And in order to this, it may be proper to show,
1. That God did destroy Pharaoh.
II. That he raised him up to fit him for destruction And,
III. That he is to be justified in this instance of his conduct.
I. I am to show, that God did destroy Pharaoh. The Deity threatened to cut him off from the earth; which plainly implied something more, than barely putting an end to his life. Had he permitted him to die by old oge, or by sickness, or even by what is commonly called accident, we should have had no right to conclude from the manner of his dying, that he was really destroyed. But there were two circumstances attending his death, which may be justly considered as denoting his destruction. He was cut off in the midst of his wickedness. Though he had been visited with plague after plague, yet he persisted in hardening his heart against God; and though he had permitted the Israelites to leave his kingdom, yet he pursued them, with a strong desire and expectation, of making them feel the weight of his vengeance. "The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil: I will draw the sword, my hand shall destroy them.” This was the language of Pharaoh's heart. He breatbed nothing but malice and revenge; and he was cut off in the full exercise of these malignant passions. This is one circumstance, which indicates, that his death was his destruction. And another is, that he died by the immediate hand of divine justice. As God opened the Red Sea in mercy to Israel, so he shut it again in judgment to Pharaoh, whom he had threatened to destroy. This was cutting him off by a judicial act, and in the same manner, in which he had destroyed other incorrigible enemies. He drowned the inhabitants of the old world, by a flood. He consumed the men of Sodom and Gomorrah, by fire from heaven. Those sinners, we know, were victims of divine wrath, and set forth as examples, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. And since Pharaoh died, as they died, we may conclude, that he perished, as they perished. God raised him up not merely for death, but for destruction. And it is not the first, but
the second death, which may be properly called the destruction of a rational and immortal creature. This warrants us to believe, that when God cut off Pharaoh from the earth, he consigned him to the regions of darkness, where he is reserved unto the judgment and condemnation of the great day.
II. I am to show, that God raised up Pharaoh to fit him for destruction. God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. He never does any thing without a previous design. If he did destroy Pharaoh, in the manner, which has been represented, there can be no doubt but that he previously intended to destroy him in such a manner.
But the divine declarations supersede the necessity of reasoning upon this head. God made known, from time to time, his purpose of destroying Pharaoh. He told Pharaoh to his fạce, that he would cut him off from the earth, and that he had raised him up for this purpose. He said to Moses before he went to Pharaoh, “I am sure the king of Egypt will not let you go:” and added, “I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt.” This was a plain prediction of the overthrow of Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea. And with equal plainness he revealed his purpose of destroying Pharaoh to his friend Abraham. “Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years. And that nation whom they shall serve, I will judge;" that is, destroy. from this last prediction, that God had formed his
purpose concerning Pharaoh, ages before he brought him into being; and hence we may naturally conclude, that he formed it from the early ages of eternity. He then formed all his other purposes; and there is no reason to imagine, that he determined the character and condition of the king of Egypt, in a later period.