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THE WISDOM OF GOD IN THE REDEMPTION OF MANKIND.
Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.—1 Cor. i. 24.
I HAVE, in the ordinary course of my preaching* been treating of the attributes and perfections of God; more particularly those which relate to the Divine understanding—the knowledge and wisdom of God. The first of these I have finished; and made some progress in the second, the wisdom .of God: which I have spoken to in general, and have propounded more particularly to consider those famous instances and arguments of the Divine wisdom, in the creation of the world; the government of it; and the redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ. The two first of these I have spoken to; namely, the wisdom of God, which appears in the creation and government of the world. I come now to the
Third instance of the Divine wisdom, the redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ; which I shall, by God’s assistance, speak to from these words, “Christ the wisdom of God.”
The apostle, in the beginning of this Epistle, upon occasion of his mentioning the divisions and parties that were among the Corinthians, where one said, “I am of Paul;” another, “I am of Apollos;” asks them, whether “Paul was crucified for them?” or, 460whether “they were baptized in the name of Paul?” To convince them that they could not pretend this, that they were baptized into his name, he tells them, at the 14th and 15th verses, that he had not so much as baptized any of them, except two or three; so far was he from having baptized them into his own name; and at the 17th verse, he says, that his work, his principal work, was “to preach the gospel,” which he had done, not with human eloquence, “not in wisdom of words,” but with great plainness and simplicity, “lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect;” lest, if he should have used any artifice, the gospel should have been less powerful. And, indeed, his preaching was unaffectedly plain; and, therefore, the gospel did seem to very many to be a foolish and ridiculous thing. The story which they told of Christ crucified, was “to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the gentiles foolishness.” The Jews, who expected another kind of Messias, that should come in great pomp and glory, to be a mighty temporal prince, were angry at the story of a crucified Christ. The Greeks, the philosophers, who expected some curious theories, adorned with eloquence, and delivered and laid down according to the exact rules of art, derided this plain and simple .elation of Christ, and of the gospel.
But though this design of the gospel appeared silly and foolish to rash, and inconsiderate, and prejudiced minds; yet “to them that are called,” to them that do believe, “both Jews and gentiles, Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God;” Christ, that is, the way of our redemption by Jesus Christ, which the apostle preached, “the wisdom of God,” an eminent instance of it.461
So that the redemption of man by Jesus Christ, is a design of admirable wisdom. This I shall endeavour to confirm to you,
I. By general testimonies of Scripture. And,
II. By a more particular inquiry into the nature of this design, and the means how it is accomplished.
I. By the testimonies from Scripture. You know I have all along, in my discourses of the attributes of God, used this method of proving them, from the dictates of natural light, and the revelation of Scripture: but now I must forsake my wonted method, for here the light of nature leaves me. The wisdom of the creation is manifest in “the things which are made; the heavens declare the glory of God’s wisdom, and the firmament shews his handywork.” The works of God do preach and set forth the wisdom of the Creator; but the sun, moon, and stars, do not preach the gospel. The wisdom of redemption is wisdom in a mystery, hidden wisdom, which none of the princes or philosophers of this world knew. The sharpest wits, and the highest and most raised understandings amongst the heathens, could say nothing of this. Here the wisdom of the wise, and the understanding of the prudent, is posed, and we may make the apostle’s challenge, (ver. 20. of this chapter,) “Where is the wise? where is the disputer of this world?” There is no natural light discovers Christ; the wise men cannot find him out, unless a star be created on purpose to lead and direct to him. Therefore, in this, I shall only depend upon Divine revelation. (1 Cor. ii. 7, 8.) The gospel is called “the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory, which none of the 462princes of this world knew.” (Eph. i. 7, 8.) “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence.” (Eph. iii. 10, 11.) “The manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This work of our redemption by Jesus Christ, is so various and admirable, that it is not below the angels to know and understand it; “To the intent, that unto principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known the manifold wisdom of God.”
II. By inquiring more particularly into the nature of this design, and the means how it is accomplished. This is wisdom, to fit means to ends; and the more difficult the end, the greater wisdom is required to find out suitable and sufficient means for the accomplishment of the end. Now the wisdom of redemption will appear, if we consider the case of fallen man, and what fit, and proper, and suitable means the wisdom of God hath devised for our recovery.
First, Let us consider the case of fallen man, which was very sad, both in respect of the misery and the difficulty of it.
1. In respect of the misery of it. Man, who was made holy and upright by God, having, by his voluntary transgression, and wilful disobedience, fallen from him, did presently sink into a corrupt and degenerate, into a miserable and cursed condition, of which heaven, and earth, and his own conscience, bore him witness. Man being become a sinner, is not only deprived of the image of God, but is liable to his justice; here his misery.463
2. The difficulty of the case was this; man could not recover himself and raise himself out of his own ruin; no creature was able to do it; so that our help is only in God; and, indeed, he is a merciful God, and doth not desire our ruin, nor delight in our destruction: but suppose his mercy never so willing to save us, will not his holiness, and justice, and truth, check those forward inclinations of his goodness, and hinder all the designs of his mercy? Is not sin contrary to the holy nature of God? Hath not he declared his infinite hatred of it? Hath not he threatened it with heavy and dreadful punishment? and said, that the sinner shall die, that he will not acquit the guilty, nor let sin go unpunished? Should he now, without any satisfaction to his offended justice, pardon the sinner, remit his punishment, and receive him to favour; would this be agreeable to his holiness, and justice, and truth? Would this become the wise governor of the world, who loves righteousness and order; who hates sin, and is obliged, by the essential rectitude of his nature, to discountenance sin?
So that here is a conflict of the attributes and perfections of God. The mercy of God pities our misery, and would recover us, would open paradise to us: but there is a flaming sword that keeps us out; the incensed justice of God, that must be satisfied; and if he takes vengeance of us, we are eternally ruined; if he spares us, how shall “mercy and justice meet together?” how shall God at once express his Jove to the sinner, and his hatred to sin? Here is the difficulty of our case.
Secondly, Let us now inquire what means the wisdom of God useth for our recovery. The wisdom of God hath devised this expedient to accommodate 464all these difficulties, to reconcile the mercy and justice of God. The Son of God shall undertake this work, and satisfy the offended justice of God, and repair the ruined nature of man. He shall bring God and man together, and make up this gulf, and renew the commerce and correspondence between God and us, which was broken off by sin. The work that God designs, is the redemption of man; that is, his recovery from a state of sin and eternal death, to a state of holiness and eternal life. The Son of God is to engage in this design of our redemption, to satisfy the offended justice of God towards us, so as to purchase our deliverance from the wrath to come, and so as to restore us to the image and favour of God, that we may be sanctified, and be made heirs of eternal life.
For opening of this, we will consider,
1. The fitness of the person designed for this work.
2. The fitness of the means whereby he was to accomplish it.
1. The fitness of the person designed for this work, and that was the “eternal Son of God;” who, in respect of his infinite wisdom and power, the dignity and credit of his person, his dearness to his Father, and interest in him, was very fit to undertake this work, to mediate a reconciliation between God and man.
2. The fitness of the means whereby he was to accomplish it; and these I shall refer to two heads, his humiliation, and exaltation. All the parts of these are very subservient to the design of our redemption.
I. The humiliation of Christ, which consists of three principal parts; his incarnation .his life, and his death.465
1. His incarnation, which is set forth in Scripture by several expressions; his being “made flesh, and dwelling among us;” (John i. 14.) His being “made of the seed of David according to the flesh;” (Rom. i. 3.) His being “made of a woman;” (Gal. iv. 4.) The “manifestation of God in the flesh;” (1 Tim. iii. 16.) His “taking part of flesh and blood;” (Heb. ii. 14.) His “taking on him the seed of Abraham,” and “being made like unto his brethren;” (Heb. ii. 16, 17.) His “coming in the flesh;” (1 John ii. 2.) All which signifies his taking upon him human nature, and being really a man as well as God. The eternal Son of God, in the fulness of time, took our nature; that is, assumed a real soul and body into union with the Divine nature. Now this person, who was really both God and man, was admirably fitted for the work of our redemption.
In general, this made him a fit mediator, an equal and middle person to interpose in this difference, and take up this quarrel between God and man. Being both God and man, he was concerned for both parties, and interested both in the honour of God, and the happiness of man, and engaged to be tender of both; and to procure the one, by such ways as might be consistent with the other.
More particularly, his incarnation did fit him for those two offices which he was to perform in his humiliation, of prophet and priest.
(1.) The office of prophet, to teach us both by his doctrine and his life.
By his doctrine. His being in the likeness of man; this made him more familiar to us. He was “a prophet raised up from among his brethren,” as Moses spake, and he makes this an argument why 466we should hear him. Should God speak to us immediately by himself, we could not hear him, and live. God condescends to us, and complies with the weakness of our nature, and “raiseth up a prophet from among our brethren;” we should hear him. And then his being God, did add credit and authority to what he spake; he could confirm the doctrine which he taught by miracles. Of his teaching us by his life, I shall have occasion to speak presently.
(2.) For the office of priest. He was fit to be our priest, because “he was taken from among men,” as the apostle speaks; fit to suffer, as being man, having a “body prepared,” as it is, Heb. x. 5. and fit to satisfy, by his sufferings, for the sins of all men, as being God, which put an infinite dignity and value upon them; the sufferings of an infinite person, being equal to the offences done against an in finite God: and thus the mercy of God is exalted without the diminution of his justice.
And as his incarnation did qualify him for suffering, so for compassion, and fellow-suffering with us: (Heb. ii. 17, 18.) “Wherefore, in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high-priest, in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people; for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”
2. His life was a means admirably fitted to bring men to holiness and goodness. I might go through all the parts of it; but because I intend to be very short upon these heads, I shall only take notice of that part of his life, which was spent in his public ministry; “he went about doing good;” the doctrine 467that he preached was calculated for the destroying of sin, and the promoting of holiness; the great end and design of it was to advance righteousness, and goodness, and humility, and patience, and self-denial; to make us mortify our sensual desires, and brutish passions, to contemn and renounce this present world; and this being the design of it, it was a most proper engine to demolish the works of the devil: and to make way for the entertainment of his doctrine, the whole frame of his life, and all the circumstances of it, did contribute. His life was the practice of his doctrine, and a clear comment upon it. The meanness of his condition in the world, that he had no share of the possessions of it, was a great advantage to his doctrine of self-denial, and contempt of the world. “The Captain of our salvation,” that he might draw off our affections from the world, and shew us how little the things of it are to be valued, would himself have no share in it; (Matt. viii. 20.) “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” The mean circumstances of his condition were very eminently for the advantage of his design; for had he not been stripped of all worldly accommodations, he could not have been so free from suspicion of a worldly interest and design; nay, he could not have been so considerable; he was really greater for his meanness. The very heathens did account this true greatness (as we find in Aristotle), not to admire the pleasures, and greatness, and pomp of the world. And that his meanness might be no disadvantage to him, those evidences that he gave of his divinity in the wonderful things that he did, rendered him considerable, and gained more reverence and authority to his 468doctrine, than his meanness could bring contempt upon it.
Besides, the manner of his conversation was a very great advantage to him; he was of a very sweet, and conversable, and obliging temper; and by this means he did gain upon the people, and was accept able to them; and thus he did apply himself to them in the most humane ways, to make way for the entertainment of his doctrine. The miracles that he wrought, did confirm his doctrine beyond all exception, as being a Divine testimony, and setting the seal of God to the truth of it; yet, because many were blinded with prejudice, and though they did see, yet would not see, “Christ, the wisdom of God/ did so order the business of his miracles, to make them human ways of winning upon them, for they were generally such as were beneficial; “he healed all manner of diseases” and maladies by this miraculous power; and so his miracles, did not only tend to confirm his doctrine, as they were miracles, but to make way for entertainment of it, as they were benefits; this was a sensible demonstration to them, that he intended them good, because he did them good; they would easily believe that he, who healed their bodies, would not harm their souls. This for his life.
3. His death, which was the lowest step of his humiliation, and the consummation of his sufferings. Now the death of Christ did eminently contribute to this design of our redemption. The death of Christ did not only expiate the guilt of sin, and pacify conscience, by making plenary satisfaction to the Divine justice, but did eminently contribute to the killing of sin in us: (Rom. vi. 6.) “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the 469body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth \re might not serve sin.” (Rom. viii. 3.) “God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin (that is, by being a sacrifice for sin) condemned sin in the flesh.” The death of Christ convinceth sin to be a great evil; and doth condemn it, because the impartial justice of God did so severely punish it in his own Son, when he appeared in the person of a sinner; and this is the most powerful argument to us to crucify sin, that it crucified our Saviour. That so innocent and holy a person should suffer so cruel and ignominious a death for our sins, should set us for ever against it, and make us hate it with a perfect hatred.
The circumstances of Christ’s sufferings, are with admirable wisdom fitted for the conquering of sin and Satan. Sin came by the woman: the “seed of the woman” suffers for sin; and by suffering, conquers it. Sin began in the garden; and there our Saviour began his sufferings for sin. Sin came by the tree; and Christ bears the curse of it in hanging upon the tree, and crucifies it by his cross.
And as he conquered sin, so he overcame Satan by his own arts. The devil found Christ in the likeness of man, he judged him mortal, and his great design was to procure his death, and get him into his grave. Christ permits him to bring about his design: he lets him enter into Judas; he lets the Jews crucify, and put him into his grave, and roll a great stone upon it: but here his Divine wisdom appears, in ruining the devil by his own design, and “snaring him in the works of his own hands.” (Heb. ii. 14.) “By death he destroys him that had the power of death; that is, the devil.”
I know the sufferings of Christ were, by the wise 470of the world, made the great objection against the wisdom of this dispensation; the “cross of Christ was to the Greeks foolishness;” and yet the wisest of them had determined otherwise in general, though not in this particular case. Plato (in the second book of his Commonwealth) saith, “That a man may be a perfect pattern of justice and righteousness, and be approved by God and men, he must be stripped of all the things of this world; he must be poor and disgraced, and be accounted a wicked and unjust man; he must be whipped, and tormented, and crucified as a malefactor;” which is, as it were, a prophetical description of our Saviour’s sufferings. And Arrian, in his Epict. describing a man fit to reform the world, whom he calls the apostle, the messenger, the preacher, and minister of God, saith, “He must be without house and harbour, and worldly accommodations; must be armed with such patience for the greatest sufferings, as if he were a stone, and devoid of sense; he must be a spectacle of misery and contempt of the world.” So that by the acknowledgment of these two wise heathens, there was nothing in the sufferings of Christ that was unbecoming the wisdom of God, and improper to the end and design of Christ’s coming into the world; besides, that they served a further end, which they did not dream of, the satisfying of Divine justice.
Secondly, His exaltation. The several parts of which, his resurrection, and ascension, and “sitting at the right hand of God,” were eminently subservient to the perfecting and carrying on of his design.
The resurrection of Christ, is the great confirmation of the truth of all that he delivered: (Rom. i. 4.) “Declared to be the Son of God with power, 471ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει, by the resurrection from the dead.” This great miracle of his resurrection from the dead did determine the controversy, and put it out of all doubt and question, that he was the Son of God. And then his ascension, and “sitting at the right hand of God,” this gives us the assurance of a blessed immortality, and is a demonstration of a life to come, and a pledge of everlasting glory and happiness. And can any thing tend more to the encouragement of obedience, and to make us dead to the pleasures and enjoyments of this life, than the assurance of eternal life and happiness?
And then the consequents of his exaltation, they do eminently conduce to our recovery. The sending of the Holy Ghost “to lead us into all truth,” to sanctify us, to assist us, and to comfort us under the greatest troubles and afflictions; and the powerful intercession of Christ in our behalf, and his return to judgment; the expectation whereof, is the great argument to repentance, and holiness of life: (Acts xvii. 30, 31.) “And the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” And thus I have endeavoured to prove, that the redemption of man by Jesus Christ, is a design of admirable wisdom.
The use I shall make of it, is to convince us of the unreasonableness of unbelief, and the folly and madness of impenitency.
First, The unreasonableness of unbelief. The gospel reveals to us the wise counsel and dispensation 472of God for our redemption; and those who disbelieve the gospel, they “reject the counsel of God against themselves,” as it is said of the unbelieving pharisees and lawyers, (Luke vii. 30.) The gospel reveals to us a design so reasonable and full of wisdom, that they who can disbelieve it are desperate persons, devoted to ruin. (1 Cor. i. 18.) “The cross of Christ is to them that perish foolishness.” (2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.) “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the God of this world hath blinded the eyes of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” The gospel carries so much light and evidence in it, that it cannot be hid from any but such whose eyes are blinded by the devil and their lusts.
He that will duly weigh and consider things, and look narrowly into this wise dispensation of God, shall find nothing to object against it; nay, shall discover in it the greatest motives and inducements to believe. We are apt to believe any thing that is reasonable, especially if it be for our advantage. Now this wise dispensation of God is not only reasonable in itself, but beneficial to us; it does at once highly gratify our understandings, and satisfy our interest; why should we not then believe and entertain it?
I. The design of the gospel is reasonable, and gratifies our understandings. And in this respect, the gospel hath incomparable advantages above any other religion. The end of all religion is to advance piety, and holiness, and real goodness among men; and the more any religion advanceth these, the more reasonable it is. Now the great incitements and arguments to piety, are the excellency and perfection of the Divine nature; fear of punishment, and hopes 473of pardon and rewards. Now the gospel represents all these to the greatest advantage.
1. It represents the perfections of God to the greatest advantage, especially those which tend most to the promotion of piety, and the love of God in us; his justice and mercy.
(1.) His justice. The gospel represents it inflexible in its rights, and inexorable, and that will not in any case let sin go unpunished. The impartiality of the Divine justice appears in this dispensation, that when God pardons the sinner, yet he will punish sin so severely in his own Son, who was the surety. Now, what could more tend to discountenance sin, and convince us of the great evil of it?
(2.) His mercy. This dispensation is a great demonstration of the mercy, and goodness, and love of God, in sending his Son to die for sinners, and in saving us by devoting and sacrificing him: (John iii. 16.) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son.” (Rom. v. 8.) “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we are yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (1 John iv. 9, 10.) “In this was manifest the love of God towards us, because God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Now this representation of God’s mercy and love, which the gospel makes, is of great force and efficacy to melt our hearts into love to God.
2. The second argument to piety, is fear of punishment. The gospel hath revealed to us the misery or those who continue in their sin; it hath made clear and terrible discoveries of those torments which at tend sinners in another world, and hath opened to us the treasures of God’s wrath; so that now, under 474the gospel, “hell is naked before us, and destruction hath no covering;” and this is one thing which makes the gospel so powerful an engine to destroy sin: (Rom. i. 16. 18.) “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation; for therein is the wrath of God revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.”
3. Hopes of pardon and reward. And this, added to the former, renders the gospel the most powerful instrument to take men off from sin, and engage them to holiness, that can be imagined. The means to draw men from sin, when they are once awakened with the fear of vengeance, are hopes of pardon and mercy, and the way to encourage obedience for the future, is hope of reward. Now as an argument to us to retreat and draw back from sin, the gospel promises pardon and indemnity to us; and as an incitement to holiness, the gospel opens heaven to us, and sets before us everlasting glory and happiness, and gives us the greatest assurance of it.
This is the first, the design of the gospel is reasonable, in that it does eminently and directly serve for the ends of piety and religion.
II. This dispensation of God is beneficial to us, and satisfies our interest; and this adds to the unreasonableness of our unbelief, this design of God being not only reasonable in itself, but desirable to us that it should be so; because of the eminent advantages that redound to us by it. The design of the gospel is to deliver us from the guilt and dominion of sin, and the tyranny of Satan; to restore us to the image and favour of God; and by making us partakers of a Divine nature, to bring us to eternal life. And is there any thing of real advantage which is not comprehended in this? Is it not desirable to every man, that there should be a way whereby our 475guilty consciences may be quieted and appeased; whereby we may be delivered from the fear of death and hell? Is it not desirable to be freed from the slavery of our lusts, and rescued from the tyranny and power of the great destroyer of souls? Is it not desirable to be like God, and to be assured of his love and favour, who is the best friend, and the most dangerous enemy; and to be secured, that, when we leave this world, we shall be unspeakably happy for ever? Now the gospel conveys these benefits to us; and if this be the case of the gospel, and there be nothing in this design of our redemption, but what is wise and reasonable, and exceedingly for our benefit and advantage, why should any man be so averse to the belief of it? Why should unbelief be counted a piece of wit? Is it wit to set ourselves against reason, and to oppose our best interest? It is wickedness, and prejudice, and inconsiderateness, which disbelieves the gospel: those who do consider things welcome this good news, and embrace these glad tidings. Wisdom is justified of her children. To them who are truly sensible of their own interest, and willing to accept of reasonable evidence, this is not only a true saying, but worthy of all acceptation; that “Christ came into the world to save sinners.”
Secondly, This doth convince men of the madness and folly of impenitency. Now, since the wisdom of God hath contrived such a way of our recovery, and by the declaration of God’s wrath and displeasure against sin, hath given us such arguments to repentance, and by discovering a way of pardon and mercy, hath given us such encouragement to repentance, how great must the folly of impenitency be? For consider,
1. That impenitency directly sets itself against (he wisdom of God. If after all this we continue in our 476sins, we reject the counsel of God against ourselves, we despise the wisdom of God and charge that with folly: and we do it against ourselves, to our own in jury and ruin. If we live in our sins, and cherish our lusts, we directly oppose the end of our redemption, we contradict the great design of the gospel, we contemn the admirable contrivance of God’s wisdom, who sent his Son into the world on purpose to destroy sin; for we uphold that which he came to destroy: (1 John iii. 5.) “Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins.” Now shall we continue in sin, when we know the Son of God was manifested to take away sin? God cannot but take it very ill at our hands, when he hath laid out the riches of his wisdom in this design, for us to go about to defeat him in it; this is at once to be unthankful to God, and injurious to ourselves; it is such a madness, as if a condemned man should despise a pardon; as if a prisoner should be fond of his fetters, and refuse deliverance; as if a man desperately sick should fight with his physician, and put away health from him. If we do not comply with the wisdom of God, which hath contrived our recovery, “we forsake our own mercy, and neglect a great salvation; we love death, and hate our own souls,” (Prov. viii. 34-36 .)
2. Consider, we cannot expect the wisdom of God should do more for our recovery, than hath been already done; the wisdom of God will not try any further means. (Matt. xxi. 37.) “Last of all he sent his Son.” If we despise this way, if we “tread under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant, whereby we are sanctified, an unholy thing, there would remain no more sacrifice for sin,” (Heb. x. 26, 29.) What can expiate the guilt of sin, if the blood of Christ do not? What shall take us 477off from sin, what shall sanctify ns, if the blood of the covenant be ineffectual? We resist our last remedy, and make void the best means the wisdom of God could devise for our recovery, if, after the revelation of the gospel, we continue in our sins.
3. If we frustrate this design of God’s wisdom for our recovery, our ruin will be the more dreadful and certain. Impenitency under the gospel will increase our misery. If Christ had not come, we had had no sin, in comparison of what we now have; but now our sin remains, and there is no cloak for our sin, πρόφασιν οὐκ ἔχουσιν. We shall not be able at the day of judgment to preface any thing, by way of excuse or apology, for our impenitency. What shall we be able to say to the justice of God, when that shall condemn us, who rejected his wisdom, which would have saved us? We would all be saved, but we would be saved without repentance: now the wisdom of God hath not found out any other way to save us from hell, but by saving us from our sins. And thou that wilt not submit to this method of Divine wisdom, take thy course, and let us see how thou wilt escape the damnation of hell. I will conclude all with those dreadful words which the wisdom of God pronounceth against those that despise her, and refuse to hearken to her voice: (Prov. i. 24-26.) “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh.” They who will not comply with the counsel of God for their happiness, they shall inherit the condition which they have chosen to themselves; “they shall eat the fruit of their own ways, and be filled with their own devices.”478
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