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is, not by pardoning indiscriminately all who have offended, but only certain persons, whom he has described by character,--and by punishing all who live and die in cherished unrepented sin. In the second place, what right has any man to say that it is as easy for God to forgive as to condemn ? Where has he learnt that doctrine ? What ground has he for it? I know the ready answer ;_" with God all things are possible ;” “Whatever he willeth, that doeth he in heaven and in earth ;” and nothing can be more certain than God's almightiness. He can do every thing which is in its nature possible, the doing of which does not imply a contradiction. He made the world by the word of his power, he can as easily destroy it; he can at once direct the whole and every part of creation; he can read the secrets of all hearts; he can raise up all the dead from their graves hereafter, and pass a just judgment upon every individual of all the millions that ever lived; he can stretch forth his hand to any and all of the great globes that roll through the heavens, and make them stop in their courses, or move at his pleasure. Yet, notwithstanding his undoubted omnipotence, it is most probable that he cannot exercise the sort of undistinguishing mercy on which so many found their hopes of safety. Perhaps it would be a contradiction to his nature; perhaps the notion implies imperfection, and God being perfect, cannot render himself imperfect. The scripture says,—“God cannot lie;"
“ “ He abideth faithful, he cannot deny himself.” This is no impeachment of his unlimited power ; it is only saying he cannot be an imperfect being. Let me ask now, Can God be unjust? Can he be unwise ? Can he be cruel? Can he be defective in any way, subject to any evil
passion or infirmity? You answer, No: without a moment's hesitation. Then I ask, Can God have that quality which we consider to be a weakness even in man; that sort of yielding leniency, of passive indulgence, which if it were admitted into the administration of human law, would suffer every crime to go unpunished, and so spread vice and disorder to a frightful extent throughout society? We surely cannot believe that it is possible for God to be of such a nature as this. We must think (ignorant as we are of his real essence) that there is such a harmony between his attributes, as to prevent one from contradicting, or interfering with, another. We cannot suppose that in him justice and holiness do not exist; and therefore we must of necessity conclude that it is an erroneous opinion, which represents God as almost indifferent to sin, and universally for
giving, even when there is no ground for forgiveness.
This then brings me back to the point from which I started upon this argument. I said that the most astonishing circumstance remained to be mentioned that the half of God's goodness had not yet been told. If it were such a trifling matter, as some would fain persuade themselves, for God to forgive sin, his doing so would be no great instance of love. But it seems; by what has been already said, and it is made quite evident by the extraordinary method he adopted, that the forgiveness of sin was (may I so express myself?) a difficult work for God to undertake; that for him to overlook and disregard it, to suffer it to go unpunished, implied such a contradiction to his nature, that on that account he could not do it; it was as impossible as that he should be unholy. It is upon this view of the case therefore, that the mercy of God opens
before us in all its glory; it would otherwise have seemed a small thing that he should pardon mankind, and receive them into his favour. But “ God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him: herein is love, not that
we loved God, but that he loved us, and gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Here is the proof of God's mercy; here is the fact, which gives us the full assurance of his kindness towards us; here is the real foundation of those “good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.”
As I observed in my former discourse, our blessed Saviour in all probability did not preach this doctrine to the congregation in the synagogue of Nazareth ; because we find, throughout the gospel, that it is but very rarely and obscurely that he alludes to it. His own apostles would not have understood him, if he had declared it. When informed that he was to be put to death, it staggered and confounded them, for they had still some carnal notions about the glory of the Messiah's kingdom. Certainly Christ might have made them understand every thing relating to his sacrifice and mode of redemption at once, if he had been so pleased; but he chose rather to open their minds gradually, to clear away their errors and prejudices by little and little. They were to see him die, before they were to be made acquainted with the purpose of it. The scriptures that spoke of his sufferings and humiliation, were to be fulfilled, before it was given to them to understand the accomplishment of them; but at last all their ignorance on this subject was re
moved. Just before his ascension into heaven their divine Lord communicated to them the full knowledge of the truth, and having explained to them the prophecies concerning himself, said “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” It is very important that you should bear these things in mind in studying the New Testament, because some in their ignorance have set one part against the other; they have disjoined the gospels, those four books which, in the language of different writers, contain the narrative of our Saviour's life, and the record of his preaching, from the remainder, the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, thinking that if they attend to the example and the words of Christ, nothing more is requisite to complete the faith and practice of a christian. But this is a mistake; the writers of all the other parts of the New Testament were as much under the direction and influence of the Holy Spirit, as those who wrote the history of our Redeemer's life; he had promised that “the Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, whom he would send from the Father, should guide them into all truth,” and “teach them all things, and bring all things to their re