Are you a Christian?
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Again. Thirdly. Sinners hate God supremely. That is, they hate him more than they do any thing, and every thing; any body; and every body else in the universe. Do not startle at this, as if it were a rash and extravagant assertion. It is a sober, but an awful truth. Look at this. All other enmity can be overcome by kindness. The greatest enemy you have on earth, may subdue your enmity by kindness, and win you over to become his friend. But how is it, that all the kindness of God, infinitely greater kindness than any human being has had it in his power to show you, has not overcome your enmity, but you still remain in rebellion against him.
Again. A mere change of circumstances in any other case of enmity, will change the heart. Here are two political opponents, between whom an hereditary enmity exists. Their fathers were enemies. They have always been enemies. They have both believed and spoken, all evil of each other. Now, let a change of politics bring them both upon the same side of a political question, and they instantly become friends. Let them have an opportunity to play into each other's hands; let both their hearts, be set upon the election of the same candidate; see how cordially they will co-operate. How warmly they will take each other by the hand. They will walk, and sit, and dine together; attend political meetings; defend each other's reputation, magnify each other's virtues; and throw the kind mantle of charity over each other's vices. And all this they will do heartily. Their real feelings towards each other are changed. Their hearts are really changed towards each other, and they can truly say, whereas we formerly hated, now we love each other. All this has been effected, merely, by a change of circumstances, without any interference by the Holy Ghost. Let the President of the United states appoint his greatest political opponent to the first office in his gift, and he makes him his friend. Suppose the greatest anti-Jackson man in this city, who has said and done the most of any man in the United States, to prevent his election, should be reduced to poverty, and had no means of support, for himself and family. Now suppose, when the news of his extremity should reach the president, he should appoint him to a post of high honor and emolument, would not this change his heart? Would he complain that he could notbecome the president's friend, until the Holy Ghost had changed his heart? No. Such kindness would be like pouring coals of fire upon his head, would melt him down in an instant; would change the whole current of his soul. How then, does it happen, that all the offers of heaven, and all the threatenings of hell, that all the boundless love, and compassion manifested in giving his only begotten, and well beloved Son to die for you; when mercy stoops from heaven with bleeding hands, and offers to save, and hell roars from beneath, and threatens to devour; when God approaches you, with a world of moving, melting motives, gathered from earth, and heaven, and hell, and rolls their mountain-weight upon you; that these considerations will never change your heart, unless made effectual by the Holy Ghost?
Suppose, that when you go home tonight, at the deep hour of midnight; when you are all asleep in an upper apartment of your house; you are awaked by the cry of fire: you look up, and find your dwelling wrapt in flames around you. You leap from your bed, and find the floor under your feet just ready to give way. The roof over your head is beginning to give way, and ready to fall in upon you, with a crash. Your little ones awake, and are shrieking and clinging to your night-clothes. You see no way of escape. At this moment of unutterable anguish and despair, some one comes dashing through the flames with his hair and clothes on fire, seizes you in your distraction with one hand, and gathers his other long and strong arm around your little ones, and again rushes through the flames at the hazard of his life. You absolutely swoon with terror. In a few moments, you open your eyes in the street, and find yourself supported in the arms of your deliverer. He is rubbing your temples with camphor, and fanning you, to restore your fainting life. You look up, and behold in the scorched and smoky features of him who rescued you, the man whom you have supremely hated. He smiles in your face, and says, fear not, your children are all alive; they are all standing around you. Now, would you, could you look coldly at him, and say, O I wish I could repent, that I have hated you so much. I wish I could be sorry for my sin against you. Could you say this? No. You would instantly roll over upon your face, and wash his feet with your tears, and wipe them with the hairs of your head. This scene, would change your heart in a moment, and ever after, the name of that man would be music in your ears. If you heard him slandered, or saw him abused, it would enkindle your grief and indignation. And now, sinner, how is it, that you complain, that you cannot repent of your sins against God? Behold his loving kindness, and his tender mercy. How can you look up? How can you refrain from repentance? How can you help being dissolved in broken- hearted penitence at his blessed feet? Behold his bleeding hands! See his wounded side! Hark! hear his deep death-groan, when he cries "it is finished," and gives up the ghost for your sins. Sinner, are you marble, or adamant! Has your heart been case-hardened in the fires of hell, that you don't repent? Surely nothing but enmity, deep as perdition, can be proof against the infinitely moving inducements to repentance.
But perhaps you will say, that you do not like to hear about hell and damnation, that you love mercy, and if ministers would present the love and mercy of God, and present God as a God of mercy, sinners would love him. But this is all a mistake. Sinners are as much opposed to the mercy of God, as they are to any of his attributes. This is matter of fact, and the experience of every day. Hark, what is that din and outcry? Whence are those cries of crucify him! crucify him! that load down the winds, and break upon our ears, from the distance of more than 1800 years? Why, God has revealed his mercy and all the world are in arms against it: Jesus Christ has come, upon the kind errand of salvation, and the world is filled with uproar, to murder him. Mercy, is the very attribute of God, against which mankind are arrayed. For thousands of years, the sword of vindictive justice has slept in its scabbard, and God has been unfolding and holding out the attribute of mercy. All the opposition in the world, to God, and to religion, is aimed particularly at his mercy. What is Christianity? What is the Bible? What are revivals of religion? What are all those things that have called forth so much of the opposition of earth and hell, but so many exhibitions of the mercy of the blessed God. When justice ascends the throne, the cavelling mouths of sinners will be stopped. Justice, will soon hush the tumult, and loud opposition of sinners, against their Maker. Then, every mouth shall be stopped, and all the world shall be found guilty before God. But now, is the dispensation of his mercy; and all earth is up in arms against it: and why are you such a hypocrite, as to pretend to love the mercy of God. If you love it, why do you not accept it? If you love a God of mercy, why have not all the moving manifestations of it, that have passed before you, melted you down and subdued your heart?, O sinner, sinner, speak no more proudly. Boast not yourself, that you love any attribute of God, for if, while you remain unrepentant, you say you love him, you are a liar, and the truth is not in you. I will conclude this discourse with several remarks. 1st. You see, why it is, that Universalists and other sinners, are so disturbed, with revivals of religion. It is because God comes so manifestly forth in the exercise of his mercy. They cannot bear, such an exhibition of God. It disturbs all the sediment, and lurking enmity of their hearts. These professed friends of God and men, as soon as God displays himself, and men become the recipients of his mercy, are greatly offended by it.
2d. You see the importance of preaching clearly, and frequently, the enmity of sinners hearts against God. There is, and has been, for ages, in most instances, a striking defect, in exhibiting this most important subject. Ministers seem to have been afraid to charge men with being the enemies of God. I never heard this doctrine declared in my life, in such a way that I understood it, previous to my own conversion. Many ministers, seem to have regarded total depravity, as consisting in nothing more than the absence of love to God.
The church, does not seem to have realized, or believed, that the carnal mind is absolutely enmity against God. Although there is no other truth, more abundantly taught in the word of God, or more unanswerably evident, from matter of fact; yet how few sinners have been made to see and believe it. I have in hundreds of instances, conversed with persons who have set under the preaching of the Gospel all their days, and who never had been made to see this fundamental truth of the Gospel.
It is a truth, upon which is founded, the necessity of the new birth; of the spirit's influences, and without understanding and believing it, how are we to expect the world to be converted to God.
Again, 3d. From this subject, it is manifest, that if sinners should take their oath, that they hate God, it would not make it at all more evident. If all the men in the universe should take their oath that the sun shines at noonday, it would not add a particle to the evidence that the sun shines, or render it any more certain, in itself, or evident to others. It is a simple matter of fact, of which we can have no higher testimony than our own senses. So, it is matter of fact, that sinners are the enemies of God. They act it out, before all men. It is as evident, as that they have an existence, and how it ever came to be questioned, or ever forgotten, or overlooked, is, to me, most mysterious.
4th. As I remarked in the morning. There are many professors of religion, who could not make it more evident that they are the enemies of God, if they should take their oath of it. They speak against revivals, and those engaged in promoting them. They give publicity to the faults, real or supposed, of those who are the friends of God. Retail slander, and manifest their opposition to God, in so many ways, that their hypocrisy and enmity against God are perfectly manifest.
5th. Those persons, who have not known, by their own experience, that they have been enemies of God, have not been converted, nor so much as truly convicted. What have they repented of? Have they repented merely of their outward sins? This is impossible, unless they have understood, and condemned the fountain of iniquity, from which these abominations have proceeded. The head and front of their offending is, that they have been the enemies of God. Nay their minding of the flesh, has been of itself, enmity against God. And now, do they talk of having repented, when they have never so much as known, that, in which their chief guilt consists. Impossible!
6th. Those sinners that deny that they are the enemies of God, are never likely to be converted, until they confess their enmity. "He that covereth his sins, shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy." There are many persons, who will confess themselves sinners, but will deny that they are the enemies of God. Thus they cover up the great amount of their sins; acknowledge their outward acts of wickedness, but deny the enmity from which they flow. While they do this, God will never forgive them.
7th. These discourses exhibit a very different view of total depravity, from that which regards depravity, as physical, or constitutional, or as belonging to the substance of the body or mind. They exhibit all depravity as voluntary, as consisting in voluntary transgression. As the sinners own act. Something of his own creation. That, over which, he has a perfect control, and for which he is entirely responsible. O, the darkness, and confusion, and utter nonsense, of that view of depravity, which exhibits it, as something lying back, and the cause of all actual transgression. Something created in the sinner, and born with him. Some physical pollution, transmitted from Adam, through the agency of God or the devil, which is in itself sinful, and deserving the wrath of God, previous to the exercise of voluntary agency on the part of the sinner. This is absurd and impossible.
It is not only absurd and impossible, but is virtually charging all the sin in the world upon God, and if it is firmly believed, renders repentance in every such case a natural impossibility. While the sinner supposes himself to be condemned, not only for his conduct, but for his nature; and while he believes that his conduct is the natural and necessary result of a depraved constitution; and that his nature must be changed, before he can obey his Maker, it is manifestly impossible for him, to blame himself for his sins. He must cease not only to be a reasonable being, but to have common sense, before he can justify God, and condemn himself, upon these principles. No wonder that men who maintain such a view of depravity as this, should also maintain that sinners are unableto repent. It is true, that upon these principles of depravity, and with these views, sinners cannot repent of themselves, nor can God make them repent. The only way in which God can bring a sinner to repentance, is, by correcting his views: by showing him what sin is; and causing him to see, that it is for his conduct, and not for his nature, that he is to repent; and that his conduct and not his nature needs to be changed. To teach physical, or constitutional depravity, is not only to teach heresy and nonsense: but it leads the sinner inevitably to justify himself, and condemn God; and renders repentance, while the sinner believes it, impossible.
9th. It cannot be pretended, with any show of reason, that these discourses amount to any denial of moral depravity. I have purposely denied physical depravity; but certainly these discourses maintain moral depravity; that for which the sinner is to blame; that of which he must repent, in all its length and breadth. It would seem, that in the estimation of some, a denial that the nature is in itself depraved, is a virtual denial of all depravity. In other words, they seem to think it a virtual denial of the guilty source of all actual transgression. I have endeavored to show, that the cause of outbreaking sin, is not to be found in a sinful constitution, or nature; but in a wrong original choice; in which the sinner prefers self-gratification to the will of his Maker; and which choice, has become the settled preference of his soul; and constitutes the deep fountain, from which flow the putrid waters of spiritual and eternal death. I am unable to see by what figure of speech, 16 that is called moral depravity, which either consists in a depraved constitution, or is the natural result of it. Why should it be called moraldepravity? Certainly it can have no such relation to moral law, as to deserve punishment. It is indeed marvelous, that in the 19th century, it should be thought heresy, to call sin a transgression of the law, and insist that it must be the act of a voluntary agent. Has it come to this, that those who virtually deny all moral depravity, and virtually charge all the sins of the world upon God; are gravely to complain of heresy in those who maintain moral depravity in all its length and breadth, but who deny physical or constitutional depravity? What next? If it be heresy, to say that sin is a transgression of the law, certainly the apostle was not orthodox.
10th. From this subject it is plain, either, that sinners must be annihilated, or converted, or forever lost. With a mind that is enmity against God, it is impossible that they should be happy. Infidels have no cause to sneer at the doctrine of the new birth. If there were no Bible in the world, the doctrine of total, depravity, as exhibited in these discourses, would be abundantly manifest, as a matter of fact. And it cannot be denied, that except men pass through just that change of mind, which is in the Bible, called the new birth, or a change of heart, they must, self-evidently, be annihilated, or damned to all eternity.
11th. Sinners are not almost Christians. We sometimes hear persons say, of such an unrepentant sinner, that he is almost a Christian. The truth is, the most moral unrepentant sinner in the world, is much nearer a devil, than a Christian. Look at that sensitive young lady. Is she an unrepentant sinner; then she only needs to die, to be as very a devil as there is in hell. Any slight occurrence, that should destroy her life, would make her a devil. Nay, she needs no positive influence to be exerted upon her, to make a fiend of her; only remove all restraints, and the very enmity of hell boils over in her heart at once. Let God take from under her his supporting hand. Let him cease, but for a moment, to fan her heaving lungs, and she would open her eyes in eternity, and if she dared, would curse him to his face.
12th. How impossible, it would be, for sinners, to enjoy heaven, if permitted to go there in their present state of mind. Only break down the body; let the mind burst forth into the presence of God; let it look abroad, and behold his glories, and see holiness to the Lord, inscribed on every thing around them; let them listen to the song of praise; let them perch upon the loftiest battlement of heaven, let them hear the song of holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, and so great would be their enmity, if unconverted, that, if permitted, they would dive into the darkest cavern of hell, to escape from the presence of the infinitely holy Lord God.
13th. While sinners remain in impenitence, they yield to God no sort of obedience, any more than the devil does. Their carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. In this state of mind, until the supreme preference of their mind is changed, until they have given up minding the flesh, and obey God, it is in vain to talk of obedience. The first act of obedience that you ever will or can perform, is to cease minding the flesh, and give your heart to God.
14th. You see the wickedness and folly of those parents who think their unconverted children friendly to religion. You cannot teach them a greater heresy, than that they are friendly to religion, or to God. I have often heard professing parents say, that their children were not enemies to religion. No wonder that such children were not converted, under such teaching as this. It is just the doctrine that the devil desires you to teach them. You only give your children the impression that they are friendly to religion already, and they will never know, why they need a new heart. While in this state of mind, and laboring under this delusion, they cannot so much as be convicted, much less converted.
Lastly. You see, how necessary it is, that there should be a hell. What shall be done with these enemies of God, if they die in their sins. Heaven is no place for you. It would doubtless be worse to you than hell, if you were allowed to go there. A hell, is deserved by sinners, and is evidently needed for those who die in enmity against God. And now, sinner, you see your state, you must be convinced of the truth of what I have said. Remember that your enmity is voluntary. It is of your own creation. That which you have long cherished and exercised. Will you give it up? What has God done, that you should continue to hate him? What is there in sin, that you should prefer it to God? Why, O why, will you indulge, for a moment longer, this spirit of horrible rebellion, and enmity against the blessed God? Go but a little further, cleave to your enmity but a little longer; and the knell of eternal death shall toll over your damned soul, and all the corners of despair will echo with your groans.