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heaven, the deeper is the conviction, which they feel, that it is wholly owing to the free grace of God, the inspiration of his spirit, the sacrifice of his Son, his everlasting love, intercession, and immutable promises, that they have not already perished, and shall not be condemned with the unbelieving world.
Hence, whatever services the Lord's people perform, whatever excellent qualities adorn them, they abhor, as sacrilegious, the first risings of self-complacency. They watch with godly jealousy against their native propensity to be great and good in their own eyes; and thus resisting the devil, in his ca-, pital artifice, they are saved out of his hands.
After this deliverance, it seems good unto their heavenly Father, that many of the heirs of glory should still feel the fiery darts of satan, and be called to terrible conflicts with this invisible foe. He is permitted forcibly to suggest the most horrid thoughts, deceiving those who are assaulted with them, to regard them as the offspring of their own minds. In the closet, and at church, when they would ascribe unto God the honour due to his most holy name, they are often violently tempted to believe there is no God, or to suspect his word is falsehood, or to arraign his attributes. Yet these hideous suggestions, from the pain
they cause, shew plainly from whence they come. They are like the charges of a perjured villain against the innocent, which prove nothing but the malice, and daring impudence of their accuser.
Was not the heart delivered from satan's dominion, there would be no painful feelings, .no sighs and tears on this account. His children can hear God's name blasphemed, his attributes arraigned, his being questioned, and be merry in the midst of it all; if they do not join themselves in assaulting the eternal throne. Wait, therefore, thou afflicted and tossed with tempest, on account of these blasphemous suggestions. They are permitted, like other temptations, to prove thy impotence to withstand satan in thy own might, to exercise thy faith and try thy patience. In due time thy enemy shall depart from thee, as he did from the great Captain of thy salvation, who was in this very matter tempted, as thou art, and therefore well knows how to sympathize with thee, and to succour thee. Be of good cheer; though this trial be grievous indeed, little danger is to be apprehended from this quarter, in comparison of what we stand exposed to from sensual appetites, from love of money, praise, and power.
THIS account from scripture, of the cruel artifices of satan, proves two dangerous mistakes, often vehemently propagated, under the notion of much more rational religion than ancient Christianity; and with high pretentions indeed of being liberal, in opposition to it. Many of these liberal gentlemen affirm, that heaven is open to all men. Others, who have not yet got quite so far, teach, that without the blood of Christ, and the spirit of grace, men can redeem themselves by their own repentance, after they have been very wicked; and when they have not, may rest assured of salvation from the mercy of God, by making themselves, through their own moral character, the objects of his delight. Yet the first of these opinions is as old as the fall, and has ever been a main pillar of satan's empire. Stronger possession in our minds, than it naturally gives him, he' cannot desire....because when once we are so deluded as to believe heaven is open to all men, the difference between good and evil
instantly becomes too dim to be seen by natural men in an hour of temptation, or at least, too little interesting. Why should they sa. crifice a favourite passion, lose or suffer for conscience sake, they will say, when they may indulge, and be safe? Need I produce any other proof, that the notion of a mercy in God, which dispenses with faith and holiness, is a device of satan’s, his enemy, and ours? Beware therefore of all pleaders for the impunity of the disobedient, or their salvation, who die in their sins.
Sooner esteem those friends to society, who would abolish the penalties of the law, the prisons of justice, and the sword of the magistrate; than those who say, or insinuate, there is not in God an everlasting antipathy to all evil, and an unchangeable purpose to turn all the wicked into hell. Did only fallible teachers assert the avenging justice of the supreme Governor of the world, this mistake would not be so flagrant. But ponder and weigh the truth. All those holy prophets, by whose mouth God spake from the beginning of the world, who denounced his desolating judgments upon Babylon, Tyre, and Nineveh of old.... upon the unbelieving Jews, their devoted city, country, and posterity, foretelling their pre. sent unexampled condition, sixteen hundred
years before the event: These men of God, all of them warn the disobedient of approaching vengeance, if they will go on still in their wickedness. The most compassionate Jesus utters that solemn exhortation, “ Enter
in at the strait gate ; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat.” He immediately adds, “ Beware of false pro. phets(or teachers) who come to you in sheep's cloathing,” meek, mild, and gentle, teaching no such shocking doctrine, as that few will be saved, and many perish; “for inwardly they are ravening wolves," greedily bent on serving their own bellies : “ Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Christ's apostles after him declare, that “ there is a resurrection of the unjust to damnation." All these witnesses agree in affirming the perdition of the ungodly, in words so very plain, that no serious Christian ever questioned their meaning punishment insupportable. When these things are so, what a fatal mistake must it be to depend upon a mere notion, a wish of your own, a wish, the vile offspring of infidelity and love of sin; in contradiction to such abounding evidenee, and infallible testimonies of the wrath of God, revealed from heaven against all workers of iniquity ? Be assured, the scrip