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by making them happy or making them miserable for ever. Though they ardently desire to be saved, yet they are willing to give up their own personal good, if the glory of God, which is an infinitely greater good, requires it. Such a willingness that God should dispose of them for his own glory, is absolutely necessary, in order to accept of pardoning mercy, and, indeed, in order to enjoy the happiness of heaven. For how could they be happy in seeing God treat other sinners according to their deserts, if they were never willing that he should treat them in the same manner ? Or how could they say, "Amen, Alleluia," while they saw the smoke of the torments of the damned ascending for ever and ever, if they were never willing to lie down in everlasting sorrow?
Judas and Paul were both once sinners, and deserved to be destroyed; Judas for betraying Christ, and Paul for persecuting him in his followers. But Paul was saved, and Judas was rejected. Suppose these two remarkable persons should meet, and Judas should ask Paul whether he was ever willing that God should cast him off, and treat him according to his deserts? What answer can we suppose that Paul would give to this pertinent and solemn question ? He must say, either that he was, or that he was not, willing that God should cast him off
If he should say that he never was willing that God should cast him off for ever, would not Judas reply, Paul, you and I are perfectly agreed in our sentiments and feelings upon this solemn subject; for I was never willing that God should cast me off for ever. There is only a circumstantial difference between us. Let God only put me in your place, and you in my place, and I shall love and praise him as you do, and you will hate and blaspheme him as I do. Could Paul deny these consequences of being unwilling to be cast off for ever? But it would be entirely different if Paul should say to Judas, I remember the time, when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. I then said, the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. And ever since that time, I have delighted in the law of God after the inward man; and I still delight in it, and would, with my present feelings, delight in it, if I were fixed in your place for ever. My heart is essentially different from what it was once, and from what yours always was, and always will be. I know what it is to be in a condemned state, and to love God for condemning me; I can therefore love God for condemning you as he condemned me, and for casting you off for ever, as he might have justly cast me off for ever. It is because I have thus cordially accepted the punishment of my iniquity, that I can say, It is by the grace of God, that I am what I am, and where I am. So low Paul
abased himself, and so low must every one abase himself, in order to be finally exalted.
3. If humility consists in a free and voluntary self abasement for sin, then it is the most amiable and shining exercise of a holy heart. The truly humble person lies as low as he deserves to lie, and takes his proper place, as a sinner, freely and of his own accord. This is exercising a more amiable and self denying spirit than any innocent creature ever did, or ever can exercise. It appears amiable and beautiful in the principalities and powers above, to fall down in cheerful and unreserved submission before the Supreme Majesty of heaven and earth ; but it appears much more beautiful and amiable in Adam, Abraham, Moses, Samuel and the prophets, Paul and the apostles, to fall down in cheerful self abasement before the throne of divine grace, and ascribe their salvation wholly to Him who was slain, and redeemed them unto God by his blood. The humility of all who finally reach the kingdom of glory, will be the most beautiful trait in their character, and render them most amiable in the eyes of all the pure and innocent spirits, who have always been joyfully employed in the service of their Maker.
Finally, it appears from this whole discourse that nothing short of real, cordial self abasement, can qualify any of our sinful race to obtain and enjoy the happiness of heaven. Many have desired and endeavored to get to heaven without performing the mortifying duty of self abasement. The Pharisee who went up to the temple to pray, trusted in himself that he was righteous, and should obtain salvation by his mere external duties of religion and morality. Paul once built his hopes of heaven upon his blameless, beautiful, self righteous conduct. But the Pharisee was rejected, and Paul was disappointed. It is utterly in vain for impenitent and unhumbled sinners to hope that any of their desires, or prayers, or self righteousness, will qualify them for the favor and enjoyment of God. Every thing they say, desire, or do, while destitute of humility, is nothing but self exaltation, which is diametrically opposite to a holy and heavenly spirit. God knows the proud afar off, and will never admit them to dwell in his presence. Sinners must be clothed with humility, before God will exalt them to his heavenly kingdom, and before they can possibly be happy there.
It is therefore the present indispensable duty of all self righteous and self confident sinners, to humble themselves before God. Upon this necessary and condescending condition, he will save them from ruin, and exalt them to glory. And surely, those who have injured and offended him by their groundless disaffection to his character, and disobedience to his law, ought to humble themselves deeply before him, and plead for his pardoning mercy. And if they will only give up all their self righteous and self justifying pleas, and humbly cry with the poor publican, “ God be merciful to me a sinner;" he will hear and answer and save them. But if they continue to exalt themselves, he will effectually humble them. He has appointed a day, in which he will expose all their turpitude and guilt to the view of the whole universe. He has appointed a Judge to condemn them, and to doom them to everlasting shame and contempt. And to complete their humiliation, he has appointed a song of triumph to be sung over them to all eternity. And can their hands be strong, or their hearts endure, in the day that God shall thus deal with them? No, they must sink down into everlasting despair. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, who will render vengeance to his enemies, and reward them that hate him.
YET Dow, if thou wilt, forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of
thy book which thou hast written. EXODUS, xxxii. 32.
ABOUT three months after the Israelites left Egypt, they came and encamped at the foot of Sinai. There God called Moses into the mount, to deliver to him the ten commandments, written with his own finger on two tables of stone. But when the people saw that Moses delayed to come from the mount, " they gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” It is strange that the people should make this request; and stranger still
, that Aaron should comply with it. For they had seen the miracles which God had wrought in Egypt, at the Red Sea, in the wilderness of Sin and at Rephidim; and had heard the voice of God speaking to them out of the thick darkness, which covered Mount Sinai. To forget and to forsake God so soon, and run into the grossest idolatry, was extremely displeasing to him. He therefore said unto Moses," Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves; they have turned aside quickly out of the way, which I commanded them; they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people; and behold, it is a stiff necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them, and I will make of thee a great nation." This alluring motive of personal preferment, instead of awakening the least selfish feeling in the heart of Moses, only excited his
tender, disinterested desire for the good of his sinful people, which he expressed with peculiar propriety and importunity. " And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of, will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.” Thus Moses interceded with God, to spare his people, before he came down from the mount. When he came down and drew near to the camp, he cast the tables out of his hands and dashed them to pieces. Then he destroyed the graven image, and severely reproved Aaron for making it. On the morrow, he said to the people, “ Ye have sinned a great sin; and now I will go up unto the Lord ; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the Lord and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin and have made them gods of gold : Yet now, if thou wilt
, forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." In order to explain this difficult passage of scripture, it is proposed,
1. To inquire to what book Moses here refers;
I. We are to inquire to what book Moses refers in the text. He says to God, " Blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Various opinions have been entertained concerning this book. But passing over the opinions of others, I would observe, that Moses could not mean the book of God's remembrance. The prophet Malachi speaks of such a book. “ Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon his name.” This is a figurative expression to denote that God has as perfect knowledge of all the past actions of his people, as they have of those things which they write down, to assist their recollection. It would indeed have been a