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1. If it be true, that God is to be justified in foreorDaining the destruction of the non-elect; then it is altogether proper and necessary to preach the doctrine of reprobation. It seems to be a prevailing opinion among many, who acknowledge the doctrine of reprobation is contained in the Bible, that it is unnecessa-ry and improper for public teachers to insist upon it, in their public discourses. They say, that this doctrine is dark and mysterious; that it is discouraging to sinners; that it tends to lead them into despair; that it is apt to give them false and disagreeable ideas of the divine character. For these reasons, they think it is a more wise and prudent practice in preachers, either never to mention the doctrine of reprobation, or if they mention it, not to dwell upon it, or attempt to inculcate it as an article of faith. But is this christian prudence? Is this declaring all the counsel of God? Is this speaking on God's behalf? Is this giving sinners an opportunity of knowing whether they love or hate their Creator? There is no divine truth, which is more directly suited to discover the hearts of sinners to themselves than the doctrine of reprobation. It never fails to awaken their native enmity to the divine character. God may visit them with mercies, or with judgments, and they may still remain ignorant of their kearts. Ministers may preach the terrors of the law, and the gracious invitations of the gospel, and they still remain unacquainted with their real character and condition. But when the doctrine of reprobation is clearly exhibited before them, they cannot help discov. ering the plague of their own hearts. They cannot endur: the thought, that God has determined their char.acter and condition for eternity; and will according to his eternal purpose, either sosten'or harden their hearts, and either fit them for heaven or for hell. They cannot
bear to be treated as God treated Pharaoh, and Judas, and others, who were predestinated to eternal destruction. If it be a matter of importance, therefore, that sinners should be made acquainted with the character of God and with their own character; then it is a matter of equal importance, that the doctrine of reprobation should be clearly and fully exhibited. This doctrine cannot be preached too plainly. It ought to be represented as God's eternal and effectual purpose to destroy the non-elect.
God could not reprobate any from eternity, without intending to carry his eternal purpose into execution. Such is the nature and extent of the doctrine of reprobation; which displays the feelings of God's heart towards that portion of mankind, who will be finally lost. And these feelings are his true glory, which he means should be fully displayed. To use his own expression, “God is not ashamed” of the doctrine of reprobation. He means to have it known, that he raised up one and another of our fallen race, for final destruction, that his name may be declared throughout all the earth. And shall his servants, who are set apart to delineate his character, and explain his word, be ashamed to teach a doctrine, which is designed to give the most bright and affecting display of his glory?
5. If God is to be justified in his treatment of Pha. raoh and of all the rest of the non-elect; then it is absolutely necessary to approve of the doctrine of reprobation, in order to be saved. None can be admitted to heaven, who are not prepared to join in the employments as well as enjoyments of the heavenly world. And we know, that one part of the business of the blessed is to celebrate the doctrine of reprobation, They sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, which is an anthem of praise for the destruction of Pharaoh
and his reprobate host. How, then, can any be meet for an inheritance among the saints in light, who are not reconciled to the doctrine of reprobation, which is, and which will be forever, celebrated there?
While the decree of reprobation is eternally executing on the vessels of wrath, the smoke of their tor. ments will be eternally ascending in the view of the vessels of mercy, who, instead of taking the part of those miserable objects, will say, Amen, alleluia, praise ye the Lord. It concerns, therefore, all the expectants of heaven, to anticipate this trying scene, and ask their hearts, whether they are on the Lord's side, and can praise him for reprobating as well as electing love. This is the most proper subject, by which to try their christian character. They must sooner or later be brought to this touch-stone, and either stand, or fall by it. The day of decision is at hand. The scenes of eternity will soon open to view. And those who cannot heartily and joyfully sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, must be excluded from the abodes of the blessed, and sink speechless into the bottomless pit of despair.
THE Apostle is here speaking upon the subject of prayer. He encourages all who believe in Christ, to call upon God with freedom and confidence. He assures them, if they pray according to the will of God, either for themselves or others, their prayers tainly be heard and answered. But he observes, it is pot their duty to pray for any who are known to have committed the sin unto death, because that is a peculiar sin, which God has determined never to forgive. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” According to this representation of the sin unto death, it is evidently that sin, which our Savior said should never be forgiven, and that which is commonly called the Unpardonable Sin. Here it may be proper, first, to point out the peculiar properties of this sin; and, then, to inquire why it is unpardonable.
Though few, perhaps, have ever committed the unpardonable sin; yet many have been greatly exercised with apprehensions of its guilt, and some have been driven to the very borders of despair. Careless and stupid persons have but little dread of sinning the sin unto death; but those of a more tender conscience and gloomy cast of mind, are extremely prone to imagine, that they have actually sinned beyond the reach of pardoning mercy. It is, therefore, of practical impor. tance, to say something upon this subject, which is suita ed to remove the groundless fears of sonie, and to prevent the fatal presumption of others. And for this purpose, it is very necessary,
1. To point out the peculiar properties of the sin unto death. And here I would observe,
1. This sin is directly pointed against the Holy Ghost. Though there be but one true God; yet the Scripture represents the one true God, as existing in three distinct Persons. These are called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and represented, as bearing distinct parts in the work of our redemption. Hence one sin may be more directly pointed against the Father; another more directly pointed against the Son; and another more directly pointed against the Holy Ghost. The transgression of the divine law seems to be more directly pointed against the person of the Father, who assumes the character of Lawgiver, Unbelief more immediately dishonors the person of the Son, who claims the character of Mediator. And open opposition to the appearance of holiness more especially reproaches the person of the Holy Ghost, who performs the office of Sanctifier.
Our Savior, speaking of the unpardonable sin, observes this distinction of persons in the Godhead; and, represents it, as more directly pointed against the Holy