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Alas, there are too many, who fay, at least in their hearts, (for their conduct bewrays their secret thoughts) we care but little about them. If they were to speak out, they might adopt the language of the rebellious Jews to the prophet, As to the words which thou haft spoken to us, in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth *. And there are others who plainly fay, Let us then continue in sin that grace may abound. They do not so exprefly reject the gospel, as take encouragement from it, to go on in their wickedness. The case of the former is very dangerous, that of the latter is still worse. But grace, though long flighted, though often abused, is once more proclaimed in your hearing. The Lord forbid, that you should perish with the found of salvation in your ears!
At present, and while you persist in your impenitence and unbelief, I may reverse the words of my text. Oh, consider, I beseech you, before it be too late, If God be against you, who can be for you? Will your com* Jerem. xliv. 16, 17.
Rom. viii. 33.
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that jujlifieth.
THOUGH the collating os manuscripts and various readings, has, undoubtedly, been of use, in rectifying some mistakes, which, through the inadvertency of transcribers, had crept into different copies of the New Testament; yet such supposed corrections of the text, ought to be admitted with caution, and not unless supported by strong reasons, and good authorities. The whole scripture is given by inspiration of God; and they who thankfully receive it as his book, will not trifle with it, by substiA a 3 tuting
tuting b-cld conjectural aitenticns, which, though thrj may deem to be amendments, may pcstlbly difgciie, or alter, the genniae fense of the pastage. Seme fancied emendations might be pointed oat, suggested by very learned men, which do cot seem to atTcrd so strong a proof of the sound judgment of the proposers, as of their vanity and rashness. Let the learned men be as ingenious as they please, in correcting and amending the text of Horace, or Virgil, for it is of little importance to us, whether their criticisms be well founded or not, bat let them treat the pages of divine revelation with reverence.
But the pointing of the New Testament, though it has a considerable influence upon the fense, is of inferior authority. It is a human invention, very helpful, and, for the most part, I suppose, well executed. But in some places, it may admit of real amendment. The most ancient manuscripts are without points, and some of them, are even without a distinction of the words. With the pointing, therefore, we may take more* liberty than with the text; though even this liberty should be used soberly. A change in
the pointing of this verse, and the following, will not alter the received sense; but, as some critics judge, will make it more striking and emphatical. If two clauses should be read with an interrogation, instead of a period, the apostle's triumphant challenge, may be expressed in the following brief paraphrase.
Who Jhall lay any thing to the charge of God's elecJ f Shall God himself? So far from it, it is he who justifies h. Who is he that condemneth? Shall Christ? Nay, he loves them and accepts them. Shall he who died for them, yea rather who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, on their behalf, who also maketh intercession for them 2 There is not the least ground to fear, that be who has promised to justify them, will lay any thing to their charge; or that he will condemn them, who died to deliver them from condemnation. Nor can any charge of their enemies prevail to the condemnation of those, whom God is pleased to justify, and for whom Christ died, and now intercedes before the throne.
The death, the resurrection, and ascension of Messiah, we have already considered. I shall speak only to two points, from this
A a 4 I. The
I. The title here given to believers, God's elect.
II. Their great privilege, they are justified, It is God wba jujiijleth them.
I. The persons who will be finally justified by God, are here styled, his elecl. Very near and strong is the connection between peace and truth. Yet a mistaken zeal for truth, has produced many controversies, which have hurt the peace of the people of God among themselves; and at the fame time, have exposed them to the scorn and derision of the world. On the other hand, a pretended, or improper, regard for peace, has often been prejudicial to the truth. But that peace, which is procured at the expence of truth, is too dearly purchased. Every branch of doctrine, belonging to the faith onre delivered to the saints, is not equally plain to every believer. Some of these doctrines, the apostle compares to milk, the proper and necessary food for babes *; others, to strong meat, adapted to a more advanced state in the spiritual life, when experience is more enlarged, and the judgment more established. The Lord, the great teacher, leads his children on gradually, from the plainer * Heb. v. 13, 14.