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image of the Saviour, it is by the energy of the same predestinating God, whose good pleasure it is to give unto us the kingdom prepared for us before the foundation of the world.
of Paul urging upon the people of the ship the immediate adoption of the only way by which their lives could be saved, and the situation of an ordinary minister urging it upon the people of his church, to take to that way of faith and repentance, by which alone they can save their souls from the wrath that is now abiding on them. Paul did know that the people were certainly to escape with their lives, and that did not prevent him from pressing upon them the measures which they ought to adopt for their preservation. Even, then, though a minister did know those of his people whose names are written in the book of
Thus it is that some are elected to everlasting life. This is an obvious doctrine of Scripture. The Bible brings it forward, and it is not for us, the interpreters of the Bible, to keep it back from you. God could, if it pleased him, read out, at this moment, the names of those in this congregation, who are ordained to eternal life, and are written in his book. In reference to their deliverance from shipwreck, he enabled Paul to say of the whole ship's com- life, that ought not to hinder him from pany, that they were to be saved. In refer-pressing it upon them to lay hold of eterence to your deliverance from wrath and nal life-to lay up their treasure in heaven from punishment, he could reveal to us the-to labour for the meat that endureth-to names of the elect among you, and enable | follow after that holiness, without which us to say of them that they are certainly to no man shall see the Lord--to be strong in the faith, and such a faith too as availeth, be saved. even faith which worketh by love, and of which we may say, even those whom we assuredly know to be the chosen heirs of immortality, that unless this faith abideth in them, they shall not be saved. But it so happens, that we do not know who are, and who are not, the children of election. This is a secret thing belonging to God, and which is not imparted to us; still it would be our part to say to those of whose final salvation we were assured, believe the Gospel, or you shall not be saved-repent, or you shall not be saved-purify yourselves, even as God is pure, or you shall not be saved. But we are not in possession of the secret-and how much more then does it lie upon us to ply with earnestness the fears and the consciences of our hearers, by those revealed things which God hath been pleas
But again, the same God who ordains the end, ordains also the means which go before it. In virtue of the end being ordained and made known to him, Paul could say that all the men's lives were to be saved. And in virtue of the means being ordained and made known to him, he could also say, that unless the sailors abode in the ship, they should not be saved. In the same manner, if the ordained end were made known to us, we could, perhaps, say of some individual among you, that you are certainly to be saved. And if the ordained means were made known to us, we could say, that unless you are rendered meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, you shall not be saved. Now, the ordination of the end, God has not been pleased to reveal to us. He has not told us who among you are to be saved, as he told Paul of the de-ed to make known to us? What! if Paul, This is though assured by an angel from heaven liverance of his ship's company. one of the secret things which belong to of the final deliverance of this ship's comhim, and we dare not meddle with it. But pany, still persists in telling them, that if he has told us about the ordained means, they leave certain things undone, their deand we know, through the medium of the liverance will be impossible-shall we, utBible, that unless you do such and such terly in the dark about the final state of a things, you shall not be saved. This is one single hearer we are addressing, let down of the revealed things which belong to us, for a single instant the practical urgency and with as great truth and practical ur- of the New Testament? gency as Paul made use of, when he said to the centurion and soldiers, that unless these men abide in the ship ye shall not be saved, do we say to one and to all of you, to the Apostle, did not betray him into the unless ye repent ye shall not be saved-un-indolence which is ascribed, and falsely less ye do works meet for repentance, ye ascribed, to the belief of this doctrine; nor shall not be saved-unless ye believe the did it restrain him from spiriting on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, ye shall people to the most strenuous and fatiguing not be saved-unless ye are born again, ye exertions. And shall we, who only know shall not be saved-unless the deeds done in general that God does predestinate, but in your body be good deeds, and ye bring cannot carry it home with assurance to a forth those fruits of righteousness which single individual, convert this doctrine into are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory a plea of indolence and security? Even should we see the mark of God upon their of God, ye shall not be saved. foreheads, it would be our duty to labour
The predestination of God respecting the final escape of Paul and his fellow-travellers from shipwreck, though made known
Mark the difference between the situation
them with the necessity of doing those
ness upon the business of doing.
Again, we call upon you, our hearers, to compare your situation with that of the centurion and the soldiers. They were told by a prophet that they were to be saved, and when that prophet told them what they were to do for the purpose of saving themselves, they obeyed him. They did not say, "O it is all predestinated, and we may give up our anxieties and do nothing." They were just as strenuous and active, as if there had been no predestination in the matter. Paul's previous assurrance, that all was to end well, had no effect in lulling them to indolence. It did end well, not however without their exertions, but by their exertions. How much more
does it lie upon you to enter with earnest-less active, or less strenuous, than they?
Do, therefore, betake yourselves to the bu
on which the deliverance of Paul's com
S hand. Let our exhortations to pany from shipwreck was suspended. Who
knows but the urgency we now ply you
And now you can have no difficulty in understanding how it is that we make our calling and our election sure. It is not in the power of the elect to make their election surer in itself than it really is; for this is a sureness which is not capable of receiving any addition. It is not in the power of the elect to make it surer to God-for all futurity is submitted to his all-seeing eye, and his absolute knowledge stands in need of no confirmation. But there is such a thing as the elect being ignorant for a time of their own election, and their being made sure of it in the progress of evidence and discovery. And therefore it is that they are called to make their election sure to themselves, or to make themselves sure of their election. And how is this to be done? Not by reading it in the book of God's decrees-not by obtaining from him any direct information about his counsels-not by conferring with prophet or angel, gifted with the revelation of hidden things. But the same God who elects some unto everlasting life, and keeps back from them all direct information about it, tells them that he who believeth, and he who repenteth, and he who obeyeth the Gospel, shall obtain everlasting life. We shall never in this world have an immediate communication from him, whether we are of the elect or not-but let us believe-let us repent-let us obey the Saviour, and from the first moment of our setting ourselves to these things in good earnest, we may conceive the hope of a place among the heirs of immortality. In the progress and success As we grow of our endeavours, this hope may advance and grow brighter within us. in the exercises of faith and obedience, the light of a cheering manifestation is more "Hereby do we know that we sensibly felt, and our hope ripens into assurance. know him, by our keeping his commandments," is an evidence which every year becomes clearer and more encouraging; and thus, by a well-sustained perseverance in cutting of the ropes was the turning point the exercises of the Christian life, do we
Some will spend their time in inquiries about the number of the saved, when they ought to be striving for themselves, that they might obtain an entrance into the strait gate; and some will waste those precious moments in speculating about the secrets of the book of life, which they should fill up by supporting themselves, and making progress through the narrowness of the way that leads to it. The plain business we lay upon you, is to put away from you the evil of your doings-to submit yourselves to Christ as he is offered to you-to fly to his atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of your offences-to place yourselves under the guidance of his word, and a dependence on the influences of his Spirit-to live no longer to yourselves, but to him-and to fill up your weeks and your days with those fruits of righteousness, by which God is glorified. We stand here by the decree of heaven, and it is by the same decree that you are now We feel sitting round and listening to us. the importance of the situation we occupy; and though we believe in the sovereignty of God, and the unfailingness of all his appointments, this, instead of restraining, impels us to bring the message of the Gospel, with all the practical urgency of its invitations, and its warnings, to bear upon you. We feel, with all our belief in predestination, that our business is not to forbear this urgency, but to ply you with it most anxiously, and earnestly, and unceasingly; and you should feel, with the same belief in your mind, that your business is not to resist this urgency, but to be guided by its impulse. Who knows but we may be the humble instrument, and you the undeserved subjects of some high and heavenly ordination? The
the free offer of the Gospel-to
labour with all diligence to make our call- | Lord God merciful and gracious-to call ing and election sure. We call upon you, in you to the service of Christ, that great Masthe language of the Apostle, to have faith, ter of the household of faith-to urge it and to this faith add virtue, and knowledge, upon you, that you must renounce every and temperance, and patience, and godli- other master, and, casting all your idols, ness, and brotherly kindness, and charity. and vanities, and iniquities away from you, It is by the doing of these things, that you to close with the invitation, and be diligent are made sure of your calling and election, in ali the duties and performances of the "for if ye do these things," says Peter, “ye Gospel. If you resist, or put off—if, blind to shall never fail, and an entrance shall be the goodness of God in Christ Jesus, you ministered unto you abundantly into the suffer it not to lead you to repentance-if everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Sa- the call of "awake to righteousness, and sin viour Jesus Christ." not," make no practical impression on you
If there be any of you who have not fol--if the true assurance of pardon for the lowed this train of observation-if it still sins of the past, do not fill your heart with remain one of those things of Paul which the desire of sanctification for the futureare hard to be understood-let us beseech if the word of Christ be not so received by you, at least, that you wrest it not to your you as to lead to the doing of it-then you own destruction, by remitting your activity, are just leaving undone those things, of and your diligence, and your pains-taking which we say in the words of the text, in the service of Christ. Why, the doctrine "Except these things be done, ye cannot be of election leaves our duty to exhort, and saved”—and to all the guilt of your past your duty to obey, on the same footing on disobedience, you add the aggravation of which it found them. We are commissioned putting away from you both the offered to lay before you the free offer of the Gos- atonement and the commanded repentance pel-to press it on the acceptance of one of the Gospel, and "how can you escape if and all of you-to assure every individual you neglect so great a salvation?" amongst you of a hearty welcome from the
On the Nature of the Sin against the Holy Ghost.
"Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."-Matthew xii. 31, 32.
LET us never suspend the practical in- | feebler voice; and coming always nearer fluence of what we do know, by idly ram- and nearer to that point in the history of bling in a vain and impertinent pursuit after every determined sinner, when, left to his what we do not know. Thus much we own infatuation, he can hold up a stubborn know from the Bible, that God refuses not and unyielding front to all that instrumenhis Holy Spirit to them who ask it-that tality of advice and of expostulation which every right movement of principle within is brought to bear upon him. The preacher us is from him-that when we feel an im- plies him with his weekly voice, but the pulse of conscience, we feel the Spirit of Spirit refuses to lend it his constraining God knocking at the door of our hearts, and energy; and all that is tender, and all that challenging from us that attention and that is terrifying in his Sabbath argument plays obedience which are due to the great Law- around his heart, without reaching it. The giver--that if we follow not the impulse, judgments of God go abroad against him, we provoke and dissatisfy him who is the and as he carries his friends or his children Author of it--and that there is such a thing to the grave, a few natural tears may bear as tempting him to abandon us altogether, witness to the tenderness he bore themand to surrender the friendly office of plying but that Spirit who gives to these judgments us any longer with his admonitions and his all their moral significancy, withholds from warnings. Hence, an emphatic argument him the anointing which remaineth, and the for immediate repentance. By every mo- man relapses as before into all the obstinate ment of delay, we hasten upon ourselves habits, and all the uncrucified affections the awful crisis of being let alone. The con- which he has hitherto indulged in. The disscience is every day getting harder; and he ease gathers upon him, and gets a more who sits behind, and is the unseen Author rooted inveteracy than ever; and thus it is, of all its instigations, is lifting every day a that there are thousands and thousands
more, who, though active and astir on that | your calamity; I will mock when your fear living scene of population which is around cometh. When your fear cometh as deso us, have an iron hardness upon their souls, lation, and your destruction cometh as a which makes them, in reference to the things whirlwind; when distress and anguish of God, dark and sullen as the grave, and cometh upon you: then shall they call fast locks them in all the insensibility of upon me, but I will not answer; they shall spiritual death. Is there no old man of your seek me early, but they shall not find me." acquaintance, who realizes this sad picture of one left to himself that we have now attempted so rapidly to set before you? Then know, that by every deed of wilful sin, that by every moment of wilful delay in the great matter of repentance, that by every stiffed warning of conscience, that by every deafening of its authoritative voice among the temptations of the world, and the riot of lawless acquaintances, you are just moving yourself to the limits of this helpless and irrecoverable condition. We have no doubt, that you may have the intention of making a violent step, and suddenly turning round to the right path ere you die. But this you will not do but by an act of obedience to the reproaches of a conscience that is ever getting harder. This you will not do without the constraining influence of that Spirit, who is gradually dying away from you. This you will not do but in virtue of some overpowering persuasion from that monitor who is now stirring within you, but with whom you are now taking the most effectual method of drowning his voice, and disarming him of all his authority. Do not you perceive, that in these circumstances, every act of delay is madness-that you are getting by every hour of it into deeper water-that you are consolidating a barrier against your future return to the paths of righteousness, which you vainly think you will be able to surmount when the languor and infirmity of old age have got hold of you-that you are strengthening and multiplying around you the wiles of an entanglement, which all the strugglings of deathbed terror cannot break asunder-that you are insulting the Spirit of God by this daily habit of stifling and neglecting the other and the other call that he is sounding to your moral ear, through the organ of conscience. And O the desperate hazard and folly of such a calculation! Think you, think you, that this is the way of gaining his friendly presence at that awful moment, when the urgent sense of guilt and of danger forces from the sinner an imploring cry as he stands on the brink of eternity?
"How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity, and the scorners delight in their seorning, 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. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at
You see, then, how a man may shut against himself all the avenues of reconciliation. There is nothing mysterious in the kind of sin by which the Holy Spirit is tempted to abandon him to that state in which there can be no forgiveness, and no return unto God. It is by a movement of conscience within him, that the man is made sensible of sin-that he is visited with the desire of reformation-that he is given to feel his need both of mercy to pardon, and of grace to help him-in a word, that he is drawn unto the Saviour, and brought into that intimate alliance with him by faith, which brings down upon him both acceptance with the Father, and all the power of a new and a constraining impulse, to the way of obedience. But this movement is a suggestion of the Spirit of God, and if it be resisted by any man, the Spirit is resisted. The God who offers to draw him unto Christ, is resisted. The man refuses to believe, because his deeds are evil; and by every day of perseverance in these deeds, the voice which tells him of their guilt, and urges him to abandon them, is resisted; and thus, the Spirit ceases to suggest, and the Father, from whom the Spirit proceedeth, ceases to draw, and the inward voice ceases to remonstrate; and all this because their authority has been so often put forth, and so often turned from. This is the deadly offence which has reared an impassable wall against the return of the obstinately impenitent. This is the blasphemy to which no forgiveness can be granted, because in its very nature, the man who has come this length, feels no movement of conscience towards that ground on which alone for giveness can be awarded to him--and where it is never refused even to the very worst and most malignant of human iniquities. This is the sin against the Holy Ghost. It is not peculiar to any one age. It does not lie in any one unfathomable mystery. It may be seen at this day in thousands and thousands more, who, by that most familiar and most frequently exemplified of all habits, a habit of resistance to a sense of duty, have at length stifled it altogether, and driven their inward monitor away from them, and have sunk into a profound moral lethargy, and so will never obtain forgivenessnot because forgiveness is ever refused to any who repent and believe the Gospel, but because they have made their faith and their repentance impracticable. They choose not to repent; and this choice has been made so often and so perseveringly, that the Spirit