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severe, that a wise man would rather choose to perish than submit to them. Thus dost thou arraign thy God, O sinner! And art thou able to make good thy charge? Dost thou hope to prevail in the day when God shall plead with thee?
Nay, further, by despising and rejecting Christ, you openly proclaim war against the Most High, and bid him defiance. He hath “ set his King upon his holy hill of Zion," and “put all things under his feet :" he hath ordained, by an irreversible decree, that “all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Fa. ther:" he hath published to the world, that there is no other name given among men, by which they can be saved, but the name of Jesus; that this glorious Mediator is constituted the final Judge of mankind; and that they who do not bow to the sceptre of his grace, shall be dashed in pieces with his rod of iron, in that day when he shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, to take vengeance upon those who knew not God, and obeyed not this gospel which we now preach to you: And yet, in the face of all these declarations, you proudly say by your conduct, “We will not have this man to reign over us;" we neither fear his power nor court his grace, but are determined to stand on our own defence."
Such, my brethren, is the malignity of your sin: it includes the blackest ingratitude, heightened by the most insolent contempt, nay, an open defiance of the omnipotent God; rejecting his offered mercy, and daring him to execute all the rigour of his justice. I do not mean that you are at present conscious of this complicated impiety; I rather suppose that you are startled when you hear it mentioned, and are ready to reply, as Hazael did to Elisha, “ Is thy servant a dog, that he
should do these things ?" But be assured, all I have now said shall be made good against you at last if you continue to despise and reject the Saviour: and the greatest mercy that can befal you in the mean time, is, to get those eyes opened which Satan bath so long closed, that you may see and abhor your guilt in this matter. O be exhorted, then, deliberately to weigh the representation I have given you! and think what must become of
you, if you go out of this world with such a dreadful load of guilt as I have endeavoured to describe.
By this time you must all see your concern in this subject. I have told you, that it is possible, even among such as you, who attend upon ordinances, and profess a general esteem of Christ, to find despisers and rejecters of him: I have mentioned sundry instances of contempt, which persons, who are neither Jews nor infidels, but who call, and even think themselves the disciples of Jesus, may be guilty of; and you have just now heard the heinous nature and the high aggravations of this sin: so that you see they are no trivial matters I have been talking of, but matters which infinitely concern the whole Christian world, and yourselves in particular. I now come to point out the improvement, which I humbly wish, and servently pray, that every one of you, my dear friends and brethren, would make of this subject.
I would have you, then, as the best and most neces. sary improvement of all that you have heard, to enter immediately into your own hearts, and make an impar. tial inquiry into your esteem of Christ, according to the marks I formerly gave you. O beware of self-deceit in this trial! You may weep at the bistory of his sufferings, when you read or hear how barbarously he was treated by the Jews; and yet you may reject him. You may
feel some emotions of gratitude and joy, when you bear of the greatness of his love, and the value of his purchase, and yet perish for despising him. You may, under alarms of conscience, feel strong desires after him to save you from the wrath of God, and, after all, be heart enemies to him. Nay, you may be zealous reprovers of others for despising Christ, and paint the deformity of this sin in stronger colours than I have been able to do; but, alas! if you have no better evidence for proving your esteem of him, your present trust is no better than the spider's web,” and your hope, in the time of your greatest need, shall be as “the giving up of the ghost.” Iu short, your esteem of Christ must be greater than your esteem of all the profits, and pleasures, and honours, of this world; and you must manifest this esteem by a cor. dial acceptance of him, and an entire subjection to him; otherwise you shall be condemned at last, as persons who have despised and rejected this great Redeemer.
Thus, my brethren, have I beld up the glass, in which, if you are not wilfully blind, you may behold your true picture: and if you have attended, and suffered conscience to do its office, some of you, I am persuaded, must be convinced that you are the persons who have hitherto despised and rejected the Saviour; and therefore it is time for me to ask, What is your present resolution ? Is this a state to be continued in ? Would any of you, if left to your own choice, be willing to be found in this condi. tion at last? Brethren, this is a serious question, and ought not to be slightly passed over: The Lord Jesus now waiteth upon you for an answer; but remember, that ere long you must wait upon him for a doom. As therefore you would be found of him in peace, come now to a speedy and firm determination. You have despised him too long already; O do not add this farther instance of contempt, to hesitate, while I now plead with you whether or no you should this moment renounce all competitors, and give him the chief room in your hearts. May I hope you are resolved ? Happy you, thrice happy,
if you be so! Now you begin to live, your former unworthy behaviour shall all be forgiven; and that compassionate Redeemer, wbo procured sparing mercy for you even when you despised him, and, by his gracious interposition, hath kept you alive till this hour, will not reject your penitent, believing souls, but will accept your esteem and love, though late; and, in return, will bestow upon you all the enriching benefits of his purchase. But if any of you shall justify your former contempt, and resolve to persist in it, I must declare the righteous sentence of God; and I shall do it in the words of John the Baptist (John iii. 36.) “He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Let my counsel therefore be acceptable unto you: “Seek the Lord while he is yet to be found, and call upon him while he is near. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way: for if once bis wrath be kindled but a little, then shall it be found that they," and they only, "are blessed who put their trust in him."!
Romans iii. 19.
Now we know, that what things soever the law saith,
it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
The great design of this epistle is to lead men to THE Christ, as the only refuge for perishing sinners: and because none will value a remedy but they who feel their disease, and wish for health, the apostle therefore, in the two foregoing chapters, examines the condition both of Gentiles and Jews; under which denominations, the whole posterity of Adam are included; and proves, by plain, undeniable facts, that all, without exception, are guilty before God, and consequently, that all stand in need of a Saviour. In the verses immediately preceding my text, he brings several quotations from the Old Testament writings, which give a very strong and melancholy representation of the corruption and depravity of the human kipd. But lest the Jews should allege that these, and other passages of the like nature, were only descriptive of the Gentile nations, and could not justly be extended to them, whom God had chosen from the rest of the world, and set apart for himself as his peculiar inheritance; he judged it proper to remind them, that the sacred books, from which he had taken the above description, were primarily addressed to the Jews, and designed for their instruction and use: We