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it will for ever display his amiable justice, and raise the holiness and happiness of the heavenly world to the highest degree of perfection. There is every reason to believe from scripture, from the nature of sin, from the character of God, and from his punishing sin in this world, that he will punish it for ever. Hence says the apostle: “ If we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
4. If God is more disposed to punish his enemies than sinners are to punish theirs, then all real saints are willing that God should punish his enemies as much and as long as they deserve to be punished. They are willing to be punished themselves, and to see others punished in this world, as much and as long as a wise, holy and benevolent God sees best to punish them. Samuel was willing to punish Agag, and hew him in pieces before the Lord, and at his command. Moses and the pious Israelites were willing to see God sink Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea; and so were the angels, who saw that tremendous punishment of God's enemies; and they have sung the song of Moses ever since. The people of God in our day have appointed and observed days of thanksgiving for the defeat and overthrow of their public enemies. And even the heathen suppose that sin deserves to be punished, and that their gods will not suffer it to pass with impunity. So they supposed in respect to Jonah, and so they supposed when the viper fastened on Paul's hand. Every man has that within him which tells him that sin deserves to be punished. And every good man has that within him which approves and loves the justice of God in punishing sin. Every good man is holy, as God , is holy, and loves what God loves, and hates what God hates. All the heavenly world, who are holy as God is holy, benevolent as God is benevolent, and righteous as God is righteous, cordially approve of his righteousness in the punishment of the sinful and impenitent spirits in prison. They say, “ Amen, Alleluia," when they see the tokens of their endless punishment. And it is difficult to conceive how any can hope and expect to go to heaven, and to be happy there, who do not approve and love God for punishing his incorrigible enemies, whether their nearest and dearest friends shall be found among those enemies or not.
5. If God is more disposed to punish his enemies than sinners are to punish theirs, then sinners must have a new heart, in order to enter into and enjoy the kingdom of heaven. They are naturally unwilling that their own enemies, or the enemies
of God, should be punished either in this world, or in the world to come, according to their desert. Saul, who we have reason to fear was an unholy and unrenewed man, was not willing that Agag, an enemy to him and to the people of God, should be punished as he deserved, and as God punished him. He probably felt an indignation, when he saw Samuel, in obedience to the divine command, hew him in pieces. And probably he never has approved, and never will approve of either the temporal or eternal punishments which God has inflicted, or ever will inflict upon any of his sinful and ill-deserving creatures. This is also true of all men in a state of nature, which is a state of sin. They do not hate sin in themselves or others, on its own account, and therefore cannot approve of its being punished according to its desert. But they must be brought to hate sin on its own account, in themselves and others, and to be willing that it should be punished according to its desert, in order to go to heaven and be happy there. Hence they must have a new heart and a new spirit, in order to be prepared for the future and everlasting enjoyment of God. It is as true now as it ever was, “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" and, " Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” Holiness, and nothing but holiness, hates sin as sin, or on account of its intrinsic moral evil. Supposing the pit of destruction were opened to the view of any unrenewed sinner, he would in his heart take part with the miserable against God, and condemn him, rather than those whom he has condemned to endless destruction. But would Samuel have done so in this world ? or will he ever do so in heaven? No, by no means; he and all holy creatures will justify God, and condemn his enemies as he condemns them. And what was and is Samuel's duty, is now, and always will be, the duty of every sinner. But no sinner will ever do this without a new and better heart than he has at present. He must make him a new heart and a new spirit, or he must eternally die.
6. If God is more disposed to punish his enemies than sinners are to punish theirs, then sinners have no ground to depend upon the patience of God. Sinners are extremely apt to depend upon the patience of God, supposing that he does and will wait upon them, because he pities them, and is unwilling to punish them. Agag depended upon the patience of Saul, and, because he delayed to punish him, expected he never would punish him ; therefore he said to himself, “ the bitterness of death is past.” Just so sinners feel towards God. Because he delays to punish them, they imagine he never will punish them. But their dependence upon the patience of God is daring presumption. God does not wait upon them because he pities them, and is not disposed to punish them; but because he has some important end to answer by waiting upon them. He often waits upon them as he waited upon the Amorites, that they may fill up the measure of their iniquities, which he knows they will be disposed to do. “ Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” You may think the bitterness of death is past, because you are in health, or because you have escaped great and imminent dangers, or because you have been suffered to trifle on the Sabbath, and on days of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, or because you have been indulged in the ways of your heart and in the sight of your eyes; but his Spirit will not always strive with man, nor his patience always continue. God is angry with you every day. If you turn not he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow and made it ready. He hath prepared for him the instruments of death ; and he will hew you in pieces. Let not the old man say, “the bitterness of death is past," because he hath been preserved so long; for death may be near. Let not the strong man say,
“the bitterness of death is past," because he is young; for death may be near. “ Behold, now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.” Therefore, “as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." And in order to be reconciled to God, you must condemn yourselves, and justify God in your condemnation to everlasting punishment.
THE GLORY OF GOD. ILLUSTRATED.
And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And he said, I will make all
my goodness pass before thee. -- EXODUS, xxxiii. 18, 19.
Moses became early acquainted with God.
He enjoyed peculiar manifestations of his favor in the family of Pharaoh. In his retirement in Midian he maintained for forty years a near and familiar intercourse with the Deity. At length he was called to the great and arduous work of leading the people of God from the house of bondage to the land of promise. This gave him still better opportunities for seeing the glory of God, and for enjoying the manifestations of his love. God freely conversed with him, face to face, as a man converses with his friend. He not only saw the displays of divine vengeance in the plagues poured upon Egypt, and the displays of divine love in the mercies granted to Israel, but he was taught the designs of the Deity, and employed as an instrument of making them known to his people. Under these happy circumstances, he made a rapid progress both in the knowledge and the love of God. The more he saw of the divine glory at one time, the more he wished to see of it at another. Having just been interceding with God to pardon his people for making and worshipping the golden calf, and having received assurance that God would both preserve and guide them through the wilderness by his gracious and visible presence, he makes a particular request for himself, which, though God seems to deny, yet he more than grants. The request is, “ I beseech thee, show me thy glory." The answer is, “ I will make all my goodness pass before thee.” The promise of God here seems to surpass the petition of Moses. He desires a visible display of God's visible glory. This God denies, but promises
. to give him something better, even a bright display of his moral glory. “I will make all my goodness pass before thee.” These words, in this connection, plainly teach us,
That God necessarily displays all his glory by displaying all his goodness.
To illustrate this subject, I shall,
II. Consider what is to be understood by his displaying all his goodness.
III. Show that by doing this he necessarily displays all his glory.
I. Let us consider what we are to understand by the glory of God. The glory of any moral agent is that intrinsic moral excellence, which renders him worthy of approbation and esteem. This is never seated in the understanding, but in the heart. There is no moral excellence in a man's intellectual powers, but only in his disposition to employ them to some valuable purpose.
All intrinsic moral excellence lies in the heart. Here we always look for it, and here only can we ever find it. A man who possesses a good heart, or a truly benevolent disposition, is a man of real worth. Such is our idea of the glory
. of a finite, rational, moral agent. And since we derive our first ideas of glory from rational and benevolent creatures, we are obliged to consider the glory of God to be of the same nature with the glory of other moral beings. Accordingly we must suppose that the glory of God is that intrinsic moral excellence which is seated in his heart, and which renders him worthy of the supreme love and homage of all intelligent creatures. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he; and as God thinketh in his heart, so is he. God is love. And in this consists his real, intrinsic, supreme, moral excellence and glory. I proceed,
II. To consider what is to be understood by God's displaying all his goodness. His promise to Moses is very singular and very significant. “ I will make all my goodness pass before thee." That God may display all his goodness, he must do two things.
1. He must display his goodness to as high a degree as possible. Though there be no degrees of goodness in God himself, yet there must be degrees of displaying it to creatures of limited capacities. God, who knows all things, knows the highest degree to which his goodness can be displayed. He is perfectly acquainted with the capacities of all his creatures, and with all the ways of displaying his goodness to the view of their minds. And unless he gives them as clear and full a dis