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God does, in fact, exercise a love toward sinners, while in a sinful condition, of such a tenor as causes him to afford them any tokens of unmerited favor, we shall find him possessed of the complacency, or delight in them, pursuant to which our preacher argues the reward noted in his text. And furthermore, if we find, according to scripture, that the forgive. ness of sins, justification through Christ, and a restoration to the divine favor, really to imply all that is meant by salva.. tion, or immortal life and glory, we shall see that the preacher has made, or endeavored to make, a distinction where there is none.
1st. We want to find proof that God loved sinners ; and 2d. we want to find proof that in giving to sinners a token of his love, God has made as high an expression of love as is spoken of in the sacred writings. See St. John, ii, 16, 17, $ For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." 1st John, iv. 10. "Herein is love ; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son ta be the propitiation for our sins.” Rom. v, 8. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet signers, Christ died for us."
These scriptures sufficiently prove that God loved the world of mankind while in a state of sin, and that he sent his Son to die for the world of mankind as a token of his luve to them. That the delivering of Christ to die for mankind is considered as a major token of the divine favor, we learn from Rom. viii, 32. *He that spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things." The plain argument of the apostle in this scripture, is, as God has loved us with a love which is stronger than death, and has, pursuant to that love, delivered up his own Son for us all, which is the richest token that could have been sent even from heaven itself, there is surely no other gift too great for him to bestow. Look now at the preacher's question on page 6th, before quoted, “Would it not, then, be palpably absurd to suppose that God will confer a reward, as an expression of his favor, upon those in whom he has no delight ? We have just proved that the death of Christ for sinners, was a commendation of God's love to
them, which proves, according to the preacher's question, that God delights in them!
The preacher is willing to acknowledge that God loves his creatures, as his creatures, but the light in which he places this love is truly shocking, and one of the greatest examples of folly and madness which has ever fallen under our notice. See his 22d and 23d pages.
" Yet it is affirmed God loves his creatures. Why? Because they are his creatures. So does the vilest man on earth love his children, because they are his children ; so also does the most savage beast of the forest love her offspring, because they are his offspring ; and there is as much holiness, as much moral goodness, in the natural affection of wicked men for their children, or even of brutes for their offspring, as in the love, which, according to the deniers of future punishinent, God has for his crea tures.” It may be well to notice here, that what the preacher means by future punishment, is an endless exclusion from the felicities of heaven, as may be seen on his 9th. page, which we shall notice in another place. What do we qught to do with the above representation of love! It God do not punish his offspring eternally, the preacher says there is more holiness in his love, than there is in the love of a brute !
The unavoidable and most favourable conclusion from the preacher's statements, is, that God exercises a holy love to. wards those whom he excludes from endless happiness, and an unholy love towards those whom he favours with eternal felicity! This conclusion will evidently appear to the reader's understanding, if it be observed, that the preacher defines the reward in the text to meao immortal life and glory, granted to those who deserve from God nothing but evil : for surely if not to punish eternaily any of God's offspring, proves his love to be unholy, it must be such as deserve nothing but eyil from him.
2d. It will not be necessary to multiply much scripture to show that the forgiveness of sins, justification through Christ, and a restoration to divine favor, imply as much as the preacher has set up, as the reward mentioned in his text. See Eph. i, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of cins, according to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence ; having made known unto us the
mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one pll things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him : in whom we also have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." In this scripture is seen the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of God's grace, in which grace God hath abounded to, wards us in all wisdom and prudence.
It:surely must be according to the riches of God's grace that any of his offspring are privileged with immortal lise, and it is according to the riches of his grace, that he for gives sins. The subject of justification is created on par: ticularly by St. Paul to the Rom. 5th chap. 18th verse "Therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation ; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” That this life, to which all men are justified by the righteousness of Christ, is eternal life, is seen by the last verse of this chapter. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” The divine favor is spoken of in Psalm xxx, 5. "In his favor is life. The preacher surely will not deny that this life is eternal life, Now from the foregoing scriptures is it not evident, that the forgiveness of sins, justification unto life, and a restoration to the favor of God, which is life, and the gift of eternal life, are all the same in the divine wisdom in which God hath a. bounded towards his creatures? If so, what is the conclu. sion? Answer--the preacher endeavored to make a dis. tinction where there is none.
If the reader desires to know why the preacher should wish to make the above distinction, we observe, that should he allow the justifying of the sinner unto life, through Christ, to be the reward which is not reckoned of debt, but ot grace, then this reward could not be granted to any but sinners, but he contends that if the wicked have it as well as the righteous, it destroys the very essence of reward.
Let us look of the scripture which speaks of the reward of grace. See Rom. iv, 4,5. “ Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to
him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." If believing that God will justify the ungodly, be counted for righteousness, what will the belief that God will not justify the ungodly, which the preacher contends for, be counted ? • As the reader may be impatient to know what the preacher would be at, which obliges him to be so full of contradictions, it may be well to observe that he is endeavoring to prosecute a quarrel against the heel of a doctrine from which the head of his carnal mind has received some deadly bruises. Or to speak without a metaphor, he is at war with the grace of God which bringeth salvation to all men!
In order to get along with this opposition, he is endeavoring to find a plausible argument against the salvation of sinners, and as he cannot find any of the human race who are not sinners, his endeavours bring him into all these' contradictions ; for he cannot raise a single argument whereby the salvation of one son or daughcer of Adam can be effected, without establishing data by which the whole human family may also be saved ; nor can he suggest an argument to prove either the justice or the certainty of the endless misery of any, without having it applied to the whole posterity of Adam. - In this difficulty we'find him all the way through his sermon. One argument on which the preacher puts much dependence for success, in inaintaining the doctrine of endless punishment, is, that God regards with complacency the righteous, to whom he will confer the reward of eternal fulicity. The moment we bring this argument to a trial by the scriptures, it is lost.tk
Who does the preacher mean by the righteous ? See his answer on page 5th. The righteous are they who imper. fect as they are, yet truly love and fear God. Reconciled to him by faith in the Redeemer, they walk humbly with him, they diligently seek him, cordially embrace his truth, and obediently observe his commands. Al who ate of this character are, in the scriptural sense, righteous, or truly pious." The righteous are again described on page 6th, as I have before noticed, in the following words: "For Christ's sake indeed, their sins are forgiven ; and they are justified and restored to the divine favor." Now having gotten a description of the righteous as it respects their righteous ness, let us ask how they became righteous ? Answer, by
having their sins forgiven for Christ's sake, by being justified unto life for Christ's sake, and by being restored to the divine favour by faith, which is the gift of God. It is reasonable, and even necessary that the preacher be asked if all mankind would not be righteous in this scriptural sense, if God should forgive their sins for Christ's sake, justify them unto life for Christ's sake, and for Christ's sake restore them to the divine favor by faith, which is his gift? How is this question to be answered ? Would the preacher be willing to suggest that there is such a radical difference in men, tlat some who are favored with all the above blessings, are still haters of God, and disobedient to his commands, and that others are lovers of God, and obedient to his commands? The plain case is thiş.--the preacher wishes his hearers to leap over everything which constitutes a man righteous in the scriptural sense, not noticing it as the gift of divine mera cy, and by a sort of jumble, attribute the whole to creature goodness-then lest he be attacked for the notion of justification by works, declares positively that the best men on earth deserve from God nothing but evil. So we are landed exactly where we sat out..
In the midst of such Egyptian darkness, let us introduce the heavenly light of divine revelation. What do the seriptures hold forth as the ground of our righteousness? Do they not say of Christ, that the name wherewith he shall be called is the Lord our righteousness? Do they not say that by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life? Is got the true gospel, faith a belief in him who justifies the ungodly? Are we not said to be justified freely by his grace 2
But the preacher says, " Reward, indeed, necessarily implies distinction." But he has not proved the assertion ; neither can it be maintained on either of the grounds of reward, as he has explained the word. If reward mean a compensation for services, then as the case might be, all might equally fulfill the task assigned them, in which case a distinction in the rewards would be inadmissible. Or, if reward mean what the preacher first pretended to confine himself to, namely, a bestowment of unmerited good, as a token of favour, even to those who deserved nothing but evil, a distinction in the rewards, in this case, would be equally inad. missible. We do not wonder that the preacher should make