Billeder på siden

"plead his own cause, when so many make void his law.

3. This subject shows why sinners are so ready to believe, that God will not make them, nor any others of mankind forever miserable. They all think what some say and teach, that no sinners deserve eternal punishment. The reason is, that they have never seen their own bearts in the same light, in which God has scen them. They have never believed, that their hearts are totally depraved and that they have never had a good desire, a good design, nor done one good action ; that they have never done any thing but sin ever since they were capable of sinning ; that their whole lives have been one continual series of transgressions, in thought, word, and deed ; that the reason, why they have not done a thousand times more evil than they have done, is because God has restrained them; and that they neyer intend to cease sinning as long as they live and as long as they exist, notwithstanding all the precepts, prohibitions, invitations, admonitions and threatenings God has given them. If they viewed their hearts and lives in this light, would they not think that they deserved to be punished and to be punished forever ? Those, who have seen their hearts and lives in this light, have believed and felt, that they deserved to be punished, and that forever. And the same persons believe, that other sinners have the same totally deprayed hearts that they have had, and that they have lived the same totally sinful lives, that they have lived and therefore deserve to be punished not only in time, but to all eternity. The only reason, then, why impenitent sinners are so ready to believe that God will not make them or any of mankind forever miserable, is because they have never seen the plague of their own

Let any

hearts, in that true light, in which God sees them and they might and will sooner or later see them. sinner see his own heart in a true light and be fully convinced, that it has been and still is fully set in him to do evil and nothing but evil, as long as he lives and as long as he exists ; and he will be ready to pass judgment upon himself, that he deserves to feel the weight of God's displeasure and of the displeasure of all holy beings forever. If sinners did but see and feel the total depravity and enmity of their hearts, they would tremble like Belshazzar in the belief and fear of future and eternal misery.

4. It appears from what has been said, that it is of great importance to preach the doctrine of total depravity plainly and fully. It carries no conviction to sinners to be told, that they are the offspring of Adam, are by nature depraved, and have actually sinned and come short of the glory of God. They are willing to believe and allow this ; but then they are ready to think and say this is true of the best men in the world. They are all the offspring of Adam, they are by nature depraved and they actually sin and come short of the glory of God. They are no better than we ; and why should God save them and not us? The doctrine of total depravity gives a complete answer. Though the best men are depraved, yet they are not totally depraved. Though they sometimes sin, yet they do not always sin. They do something besides sinning. They love God, which sinners never do. They repent of sin; which sinners never do. They believe in Christ, which sinners never do. They promote the glory of God, which sinners never do. They desire and intend to promote the glory of God, as long as they live and

as long as they exist. Though they are like sinners, yet they are essentially different from them. They are not totally depraved, but sinners are. They are not total enemies to God, but sinners are. They are not totally unfit for the services and enjoyments of heaven, but sinners are. And they are not properly fit for destruction, but sinners, in respect to guilt, enmity and opposition to God and all good, are completely fit for spiritual and eternal death. As there is this essential distinction between saints and sinners, it is of great importance, that it should be made to appear to both. But nothing can make it appear, but the truth of the total depravity of sinners. Unless preachers clearly and fully prove this truth, it is impossible for them to prove, that there is an essential distinction between saints and sinners. Those, therefore, who deny, or

, neglect to preach total depravity never do teach their hearers, that sinners are essentially different from saints. Though they use the terms saints and sinners, yet they seldom attempt to tell wherein they differ ; and when they undertake to describe the difference, they only say that saints are better than sinners, or that sinners do more evil than good, but saints do more good than evil. Accordingly, when they speak of regeneration, which they seldom do, they call it a gradual, and not an instantaneous change. They suppose sinners have some goodness, but saints have more ; which leaves both saints and sinners in a state of uncertainty whether they are saints or sinners, the friends or enemies of God; and they must remain in this uncertainty as long as they live, for they cannot tell, nor any one else, how much goodness they must have to constitute them saints and entitle them to the great and precious promises of the gospel. The doctrine of total depravity is one of the most essential doctrines of christianity.--The gospel cannot be clearly and consistently preached, either theoretically, or practically to sinners, or to saints, without plainly explaining and proving the total depravity of sinners.

5. It appears from what has been said, that no sinners have a right to think they are christians. They all have the witness within themselves, that they are totally depraved and graceless. Christ has told them, that they have not the love of God in them ; and the apostle has told them, that they have a carnal mind, which is enmity against God, not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. That this is true, all their moral exercises of heart, ever since they had any, unitedly prove. And if they would only look into their hearts and view them as God views them, they could no more doubt of their total depravity and graceless state, than they could doubt of their own existence. Their moral exercises are essential parts of their existence, as much as their reason and conscience ; and they can know as much about them, as they know about any of their natural faculties. As they know what their reason and conscience are, so they know what the free and the voluntary exercises of their hearts are.

And as they are conscious, when they reflect upon their past and present exercises of heart, that they have always loved themselves supremely and not God ; that they have always sought their own interests and not the interests of others; that they have always desired happiness more than holiness ; that they have always sought to please themselves rather than to please God ; and that they have always disliked, if not opposed, the di

vine commands and the terms of the gospel. And the consciousness of such a constant, uninterrupted and persevering train of selfish and sinful affections, gives them plain, sensible, irresistible evidence, that they are in the state of nature and under the dominion of a totally selfish, wicked heart. This consciousness of

, self-condemnation the apostle represents as the infallible criterion, by which sinners may know that they are totally depraved, absolutely graceless and essentially different from the children of God. He declares, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him ; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” That is, he cannot sin constantly as sinners do. “ In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God.” That is, whosoever never does righteousness, but always sins as sinners do. And again he says, “ Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God. But if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things.” Here the apostle asserts, that all sinners may know that they are so, by the infallible testimony of their own heart. If their heart condemn them they may assure themselves, that God who knows all things and is perfectly acquainted with all the inward motions and affections of their hearts, knows and condemns them as totally sinful and graceless. No sinners, therefore, let them be ever so apparently amiable and virtuous, have a right to think they are christians, nor to doubt whether they are dead in trespasses and sins. There are a great many professedly doubt

« ForrigeFortsæt »