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of these subjects from the Scriptures, he is in possession of the ideas of Jesus Christ. Like him, he thinks there is one God, who loved the world so as to give his Son, and so on. This is one view of the Christian religion: it makes a body of sound thinking in the understanding of a good man; and he, not having thought of these subjects in such a manner before, is said to be " born again.” Every thing in religion takes a new form, and the Christian seems to see with new eyes. Lay it down then for a certain rule, that knowledge of the Christian religion, and a persuasion that it is true, is necessary to entering into the kingdom of God.
By temper, I mean the frame of the heart, the condi. tion of all those movements in us which are attended with pleasure or pain, such as desire, fear, hope, anger, and so on.
You will readily allow that all these dispositions were in a state of the highest perfection in Jesus Christ; and you will as readily agree they are not so in other men. Now if we learn of Jesus Christ to be mild and lowly, and so on, we are altered from the temper of bad men, and from the frame of our own hearts, before we had the honour of admiring the character of Christ. These dispositions of the heart are under the government of our ideas or notions of things. If we think the world man's chief good, we shall chiefly desire and pursue the world; if on the contrary, we are convinced, by the instructions of Jesus Christ, that the world is vanity, that sin is the greatest evil, and God the chief good of man, we shall desire and love, hope and fear, and act accordingly. These tempers are necessary to the practice of religion here, and to the enjoyment of God hereafter. Without these, therefore, a
cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” By Christian actions, I mean such a course of life as Jesus Christ pursued, which was made up of single actions of piety, justice, and temperance, connected together, and following one another in constant succession. Such a life cannot be described better than it is by the apostle Paul; “ Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are
lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things :" for 6 these things ye have both learned and received, and heard, and seen in me.” A man, who knows, and loves, and lives the Gospel, will be saved; he is " born again,” and hath on “ the wedding garment:" but the man destitute of knowledge, love, and obedience is excluded both by the sentence of Jesus Christ, and by a necessity of condition ; for, were it possible to reverse the sentence, he is not in a condition capable of being made happy by the Gospel, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” he cannot see the kingdom of God."
If any one in this assembly be found at last in such a condition, he will be “speechless." This is the express testimony of Jesus Christ in the text, The man in the parable was not awed into silence by the dreadful appearance of the king, but by reflecting on his own state, and by finding himself inexcusable.
56 When the King came in to see the guests, he saw there a man, which had not on a wedding garment; and he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment ?” You are not properly qualified to be here : whose fault is it? I allow you liberty to account for your conduct: speak. Is it my fault: are there no habits in my wardrobe ? Is it the fault of my servants ? Have not they and the rest of the guests “ wedding garments?"
Is it your fault: is the 6 wedding ready : are all things ready:” and are you who was bidden not worthy ? “How camest thou in hither ?" Speak. “ And he was speechless :” he could make no reply to such reasonable questions. Here lies the agony of a man in trouble : and his anguish would abate, if he could satisfy himself that he was brought into his present condition, not through his own neglect, but by means of others. He would cease to be an object of blame, and would become an object of pity, and the least that his judge could do for himn would be to put him out of his misery. How hard must a man be driven to find reasons for sin, when his only hope is, that his destruction will be attributed not to himself, but to God! What a desperate venture : rather, what a raving madness! Jesus Christ
hath considered and determined the case, and he affirms the lost man will have nothing to say, but will be
speechless :" but the lost man saith, he also hath considered the case, and affirms, in contradiction to Jesus Christ, he shall not be speechless, but shall have to say, that God himself was the author of his destruction. In this case men do not act by conjecture without informa
but by obstinacy in direct opposition to it. This is a strange part for a man to act: surely none of you intend to act this part! If you have flattered yourselves into a vain hope of succeeding, I conjure you to stop a few minutes, and examine this hopeless undertaking. Will you “provoke the Lord to jealousy ??' Are you s stronger than he ?! To a modest man, the declaration of Jesus Christ is sufficient : but, at present, we will lay that aside, and confirm what he says in the text by the determination of three infallible judges: by reason, which attends to the nature and fitness of things: by Scripture, which settles this point on principles of religion: and by experience, both that of others and that of yourselves. All these judges will say to thee, 66 Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness; thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen."
When man lives and dies in a state of rebellion against God, and when he makes his appearance before him as the judge of the world, will he be able to justily his conduct? This is the question, which we require reason to answer. Can such a man establish any facts, from which he can infer the blamelessness of his condition? The question is not, whether he be to blame for being in pain, but for committing sin; for the pain of remorse is nothing but a necessary effect of the commission of sin. The heathens have not the Gospel. Idiots are not to blame for not believing the Gospel, though they hear it; because they have not a natural capacity to understand what they hear. A man, who hath the Gospel, and capacity to understand it, cannot plead either of these facts in favour of his own unbelief, and consequently he can urge nothing to prove the reasonableness of it. On the contrary, if a man have faculties, the highest reason may be given why he should use
them: and if he have the Gospel, it is very fit and right that he should employ himself in those just and proper actions, which the Gospel directs. The Gospel requires us to love God supremely, and assigns for a reason, that God is the chief good. It is impossible to deny the fact, that God is the chief good, and therefore it is impossible to deny the inference, that we ought to love him supremely. The same may be said of all the duties of religion: they are nothing but inferences drawn from true facts, and if the facts be true, the inferences necessarily follow. It is on this principle that the Christian religion is called
reasonable service ;" that Christians are required to give “a reason of the hope that is in them ;” and that the wicked are required, in order to their conversion to come and reason” with the Lord. We conclude then, that reason condemns an impenitent sinner to silence, and that at the last day he will be 6 speechless ;” and the Scripture shows the inexcusableness of the impenitent on the two grounds just now mentioned ; that they have the Gospel, and that they are capable of judging of it. Our Lord mentions the first in these words; "If I had not come, and spoken unto them, they had not had sin : but now they have no cloak for their sin." The apostle Paul mentions the second in these words, “ Whosoever thou art that judg'est, thou art inexcusable, o man; for wherein thou judgest another thou condemnest thyself: for thou that judgest doest the same thing." The apostle proves that every man is capable of distinguishing right from wrong, and that every man doth actually make the distinction when he judges another man: and hence he infers, that he hath the same capacity to judge of his own actions, and is inexcusable for not doing so.
For these reasons the text says, the unconverted man was speechless."
Did not daily observation put it out of our power to deny the fact, we could hardly believe that impenitent sinners would presume to urge Scripture in their favour. There are, however, three observations to be made concerning Scripture, which condemn such men to silence. First, God expressly declares he is not the author of man's destruction. 6 Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his
and live. Judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vir.eyard, that I have not done in it ?" In a thousand places the inspired writers speak this language in the name of God, and, if punishment be the effect of sin, it is impossible to charge God with our punishment, unless we first charge him with our sin, which would be abominable.
Observe in the next place, God actually chargeth the sinner with his own destruction. 66 Hast thou not procured this unto thyself? O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself.” In this manner all the writers of Scripture express themselves, and all agree to charge home every man's ruin upon his own conscience.
Observe, lastly, there is not a single article in the whole Christian religion to countenance the pretence of laying the blame on God: nothing in the doctrine of decrees, nothing in the doctrine of man's depravity, nothing in the doctrine of Divine assistance, nothing in any doctrine to countenance such a plea. Hence, “the law” is said to speak so “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God:” and hence the Gospel, far from being an apology for people in this condition, is an aggravation of their crime, and, by opening a door of hope to men under sentence of death by the law, must render those inexcusable, who do not avail themsel::es of such a provision of mercy. If the author of the Bible be not very sincere, and very much in earnest to instruct, convert, and save the souls of men, he acts a part unworthy of himself, unworthy of the pity of a friend, and much more so of the majesty of a God; he irritates a grief, and insults a wretchedness, which he cannot relieve. The Scripture, so far from excusing an impenitent man, renders all his excuses to the last degree contemptible. If the Bible were a hard book, he might complain of difficulty ; if the benefits of religion were sold at a high price, he might complain of poverty; if he had made trial and could not succeed, he might complain of Providence ; but if nothing of this can be said, there is no remedy,