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being united to Christ by a mystical union, as his spouse and his body? Do you enjoy the thoughts even of heaven, where eternity shall be spent in the blissful enjoyment of God? I dare appeal to your own hearts,- you do not; you had rather-every unconverted man had rather-keep this life, poor, and miserable, and full of troubles as it is, I say, every unconverted man had rather keep this life for ever, than go and live with God. 0, strange debasement of the human heart! And can we doubt, after this, whether man, by nature, loves or hates God ?-But again; how was Christ, the Son of God, in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, how was He received on earth ? He came unto his own, and his own received him not.*. : The world hated Him, cried Away with Him, preferred a robber and a murderer before Him : the Jew gave Him up to the Gentile; the Gentile crucified Him; and Jew and Gentile together mocked Him in his agonies on the cross. And how are the people of God treated in the world? Ye shall be hated of all nations, said our Lord: and why?--for my name's sake ; † so that God, God in Christ, is the great object of hatred, and his people for his sake.
. There are, my friends, some in the world whom God honours with the high and holy name of his children, his sons and daughters: God the Holy Spirit dwells in their hearts; and by his blessed operations they are made, in some poor degree, even in this world, like God. Now these are the people whom the world, whom men by nature, hate, and always have hated ;-have persecuted them when they had the power, and, when they had not, have ridiculed and reviled them. These are the people who have always been stigmatized with some name, thought opprobrious by the world, Christian, Saint, Puritan, Methodist,men of whom the world was not worthy. . And what can more strongly prove the hatred of the world to God than this hatred of his people? Once more, are there not some sins, the only pleasure of which, and the only temptation to which can be, that they show and proclaim some defiance of God? What can be the pleasure of swearing, but that it shows a man free from all fear of God, and does, as it were, defy his judgments? And do not many delight in showing, by every method in their
* John i. 11.
+ Matt. x. 22.
their contempt of the Sabbath-day and of the word of God? And how strongly do all these things make out what I am attempting to prove, that there is, in the heart of the natural man, a hatred of God ?
Let me, then, pause here. Let us think, for a moment, on the awful words, An enemy of God. It is the delight of angels, and of the glorified spirits above, to love God, to serve him, to praise him. They fulfil his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. They rest not day nor night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.* They fall down before Him that sitteth upon the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power; for Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.* Nothing like hatred of God in heaven ;-nothing but pure, and holy, and ardent love. And again ; on earth, the best of men have ever esteemed it their highest honour, and happiness, and privilege, to love God ;-have ever prayed for themselves, and those who were the dearest to them, that they might be rooted and grounded in love.t But you-(I speak to every unconverted person present, to every one on whom that great change, the work of the Holy Spirit, has not passed)-you, I say, are not of this blessed society; you do not love God. Nay, you are of another and a very different society: the devils and damned spirits hate God, hate his justice, his holiness, his mercy,
* Rev. iv. 8.
his truth : and 0, can you bear the thought, that you are thus partakers with them in this horrid and devilish disposition,-in hatred of the best, and holiest, and loveliest of beings,of that God who is the fountain of all blessings, that God who is love?
But what help? you say. If indeed the case be thus,-if we are thus desperately wicked, if we do indeed thus hate God, and thus show our hatred of Him; what help, what hope for us? What possible expectation, but that He will execute vengeance upon us, saying, As for them that hate me, bring them forth, and slay them before me? Truly, my friends, when we seriously reflect, this is what we might have expected. But, blessed be God! his ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts. After all our unkindness and foul departures from Him, He delights not in judgment, but in mercy. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ? saith the Lord God. As I live, saith the Lord God-mark how it is confirmed by an oath-As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? * And what is the business of ministers of Christ now? He has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. + True, you have been enemies to God by wicked works; but he is willing to be reconciled,—nay, he entreats, he beseeches you, by us his ministers, to be reconciled to Him. You hear the gracious invitations ; they run through the book of God. O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. I Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. § Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous 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 par
* Rev. iv. 10, 11.
† Ephes. iii. 17.
don. * How long, ye simple ones, will ye city? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn ye at my reproof; behold I will pour out my Spirit unto you : I will make known my words unto you. t. See how God invites you to return.
What condescension, what earnestness, what affection in these sweet invitations of your souls to him! And do not his actions to you accord with these his invitations? Hath he not mercifully given you time for repentance? Hath he not seen
years going on in folly and sin, and yet hath spared you? His hand hath been stretched out over you, not to destroy, but to preserve. Surely this is the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, exercised towards you. Surely the goodness of God is meant to lead you to repentance. And does he not put the means of repentance in your power? Have you not his holy word in your hands? Have you not this day his Gospel preached in your ears? Perhaps, some of
you he hath visited with affliction, in order to bring you, to force you, to himself; for in their affliction, saith God by his prophet Hosea, they will seek me early. Perhaps with some of you—(God grant it may be so !)—with some of your hearts the Holy Spirit may even now be pleading, striving with you within, and urging you to be reconciled to God. And are not all these blessed tokens of God's willingness to be reconciled ?
But he hath shown this willingness still more
* Isaiab lv. 7.
+ Prov. i. 22, 23.