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How can you hope to persuade rebels to submit themselves to this bare and appalling sovereignty ? Why must they become reconciled to their Creator, before they may even know, that he is a God of mercy, or has it in his heart to bestow pardons ? An apostle has said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I am not without my fears, that on this side of the line of orthodoxy there has sometimes been presented a character of God, as imperfect, not to say as unsafe, as when only his clemency is seen. And who can say that God would not be as unwilling, that one set of his attributes should be exclusively presented, as another ? Under neither have we a full and honest portrait of the only true God, whom to know is eternal life. While the one error will lead unregenerate men to presume, that they love their Maker, so under the other it is feared, that many true believers may be kept all their lifetime subject to bondage through fear of perdition. The one will make a multitude of happy hypocrites, while the other will conduct to heaven whole churches of trembling, doubting believers. The one will widen the fold, till the sheep and the goats can herd together; the other will contract it till many of the lambs must lie without, and be exposed to storms and beasts of prey ; and finally neither presents correctly the character of God.

III. We have sometimes presented us a picture of warring attributes. Mercy triumphs over justice, and grace is made victorious over truth and righteousness. Under this system, God disapproves the properties of his own nature, and the principles of his own government; and contrives to defeat and nulify his own decrees. He issued his law, and pronounced it good, and made in it no provision for pardon, none he could make ; and when the sinner broke that law, he passed sentence, and threatened its execution. But he is now made to repent of the sternness, and integrity, and purity, that dictated that law, and uttered that sentence, and threatened its execution ; and is reresolved, that, come what will of reproach upon his name, and injury to his government and kingdom, the sinner shall not suffer. He built a place of torment, and seperated it from heaven by a bottomless gulf, and made it a dark, and dreary, and desolate abode ; but he has since had better and milder views; has decreed that ultimately the gulf shall become passable, the fires shall go out, and the worm shall die.

And all this is contrived to save the divine honour. To let God be what he is, and do what he has said, and carry into execution his own purpose, would, it is believed, so hurt his reputation with the population of the apostacy, that any thing, that can be, must be done to save it. There must rather be suspicion cast over the whole record that would exhibit God as so inflexibly holy, and reproach poured in upon the bigoted multitude that would so rigidly explain the word. The book of God, plain as it is, may rather mean nothing, and John record falsely, and Paul reason inconclusively, than to blot so foully and fatally the divine reputation.

To complete the picture, the Son of God is despatched from heaven to take the part of sinners, and shield them from the sword of a devouring justice. He saw, it seems, that the execution of the law would ruin the credit of the court of heaven which gave sentence, and hasted down to counteract the decree. What was stern, and unbending, and cruel in the Father, has been softened down in the Son. He covers the rebel with his hand, smiles on him, wipes away his tears, and prays him to forgive a father's unjust severity. His errand was to stay the rod of justice. He makes no atonement, none is necessary, asks no change of heart in the culprit, but a mere reform, as the condition of pardon and life.

Thus has the character of God been so exhibited, as to involve heaven in a quarrel, and place the persons of the Godhead at issue, on the question, whether the honours of the broken law deserve to be repaired, or its Author shall sink into universal disrespect? What in the mean time shall happen to the divine government in heaven, and in all the worlds that have continued loyal, and have had hitherto the utmost confidence in the unchangeably wise and holy God? O, I feel that the ground on which I stand is holy! Will God forgive me, if in attempt. ing to vindicate his honour, I have drawn near to him without being duly sanctified.

I know that men who have resolved to go on in sin, who have long been offended at the purity and extent of the law, and would not care if all the rights of the Godhead were trampled upon, find it very convenient to have the character of God thus brought down to their taste and their temper. They will support and will love a gospel, that will thus make God altogether such an one as themselves. Give them a gospel like this, and in half a century there will not be an avowed infidel on the whole face of the earth. Gladly would they be rid of the reproach of infidelity, could they have a gospel that would promise them a salvation equally cheap and convenient.

If God will give out his word, and then break it; will make a law, and when men have fallen under its curse, repeal it; will join the rebel in hating his own attributes; will issue an edict, and then a counter edict by which the first is nutralized; this is all exactly as they would have it. God is invested with all the human weaknesses. So Ahasuerus would make a decree, assigning to death all his Jewish subjects, and then enact another, directing them to arm themselves for their own defence, and thus his decree comes to the ground. But how will God be affected by these inroads made upon his name and his glory? Will he suffer his character to be tampered with, and finally to be thus frittered down to the taste and the convenience of a polished, and proud, and worldly, and time-serving generation ? Will it still be eternal life to know him, altered thus, till not an angel in heaven would know hiin ? altered till all that devils disapproved, and all that believers loved, is gone?

Let me now ask the advocates of all these schemes, what they gain ? Why not be willing, that the blessed God be exhibited to the minds of men, in the very character that he gives himself. Let him be what he declared himself to be, on that occasion when it was bis special object to make himself known : “ The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generations,” Here we have, (if I may still use terms which it grieves me to use,) the milder and the severer attributes of God. In this very character we must deal with him at last, the same that he was when he spoke to Moses from the cloud. Let there be a perfect balance among his attributes, Let him be neither too merciful to be just, nor too * just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness ; ” not too compassionate to be holy, nor too holy to smile again upon the rebel, who has fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before him in the gospel ; not too gracious to be true, nor so the friend of truth as not to reverse the

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