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them :" Mal. ii. 17. “ Ye have wearied the Lord with your words: yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?"
3. You have not cared how much God's honour suffered; and why should God be careful lest your misery be great? You have been told how much these, and those things which you have practised, were to the dishonour of God; yet you did not care for that, but went on still multiplying transgressions. The consideration that the more you sinned, the more God was dishonoured, did not in the least restrain you. If it had not been for fear of God's displeasure, you would not have cared though you bad dishonoured him ten thousand times as much as you did. As for any respect you had to God, you did not care what became of God's honour, nor of his happiness neither, no, nor of his being. Why then is God obliged to be careful how much you suffer? Why should he be careful of your welfare, or use any caution lest he should lay more on you than you can bear?
4. As great as this wrath is, it is not greater than that love of God which you have slighted and rejected. Goi, in infinite mercy to lost sinners, has provided a way for them to escape future misery, and to obtain eternal life. For that end he has given his only begotten Son,' a person infinitely glorious and honourable in himself-being equal with God, and infinitely near and dear to God. It was ten thousand times more than if God had given all the angels in heaven, or the whole world for sinners. Him he gave to be incarnate, to suffer death, to be made a curse for us, and to undergo the dreadful wrath of God in our room, and thus to purchase for us eternal glory. This glorious person has been offered to you times without number, and he has stood and knocked at your door, till his hairs were wet with the dews of the night; but all that he has done has not won upon you; you see no form nor comeliness in him, no beauty that you should desire him. When he has thus offered himself to you as your Saviour, you never freely and heartily accept of him. This love which you have thus abused, is as great as that wrath of which you are in danger. If you would have accepted of it, you might have had the enjoyment of this love instead of enduring this terrible wrath : so that the misery you have heard of is not greater than the love you have despised, and the happiness and glory which you have rejected. How just then would it be in God to execute upon you this dreadful wrath, which is not greater than that love which you have despised !
have despised! Heb. ii. 3. “ How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ?”
5. If you complain of this punishment as being too great, then why has it not been great enough to deter you from sin ? As great as it is, you have made nothing of it. When God threatened to inflict it on you, you did not mind his threatenings, but were bold to disobey him, and to do those very things for which he threatened this punishment. Great as this punishment is, it has not been great enough to keep you from living a wilfully wicked life, and going on in ways that you knew were evil. When you have been told that such and such things certainly exposed you to this punishinent you did not abstain on that account, but went on from day to day in a most presumptuous manner, and God's threatening such a punishment was no effectual check upon you. Why therefore do you now complain of this punishment as too great, and quarrel against it, and say that God is unreasonable and cruel to inflict it? In so saying you are condemned out of your own inouth; for if it be so dreadful a punishment, and more than is just, then why was it not great enough at least to restrain you from wilful sinning ? Luke xix. 21, &c. “I feared thee, because thou art an austere man, thou takest up that thou laidest not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he said unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant,” &c. You complain of this punishment as too great: but yet you have acted as if it was not great enough, and you have made light of it. If the punishment is too great, why have you gone on to make it still greater? You have gone on from day to day, to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, to add to your punishment, and increase it exceedingly; and yet now you complain of it as too great, as though God could not justly inflict so great a punishment. How absurd and self-contradictory is the conduct of such an one, who complains of God for making his punishment too great, and yet from day to day industriously gathers and heaps up fuel, to make the fire the greater !
6. You have no cause to complain of the punishment being greater than is just; for you have many and many a time provoked God to do his worst. If you should forbid a servant to do a given thing, and threaten that if he did it you would inflict some very dreadful punishment upon him, and he should do it notwithstanding, and you should renew your command, and warn him in the most strict manner possible not to do it, and tell him you would surely punish him if he persisted, and should declare that his punishment should be exceedingly dreadful, and be should wholly disregard you, and should disobey you again, and you should continue to repeat your commands and warnings, still setting out the dreadfulness of the punishment, and he should still, without any regard to you, go
on again and again to disobey you to your face, and this immediately on your thus forbidding and threatening him : could you take it any otherwise than as daring you to do your worst? But thus have you done towards God; you have had his commands repeated, and his threatenings set before you hundreds of times, and have been most solemnly warned; yet have you not withstanding gone on in ways which you knew were sinful, and have done the very things which he has forbidden, directly before his face. Job xv. 25, 26. “ For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty. He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his buckler.” You have thus bid defiance to the Almighty, even when you saw the sword of his vindictive wrath uplifted, that it might fall upon your head. Will it, therefore, be any wonder if he shall make you know how terrible that wrath is, in your utter destruction ?
ROMANS ii. 10.
But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good.
The Apostle, having in the preceding verses declared what is the portion of wicked men; viz. indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish; in this verse declares what is the portion assigned to good men. In the words of the text we should observe,
1. The description of a good man; viz. the man that worketh good. Such men are here described by the fruit which they bring forth. Christ has taught us that the tree is known by its fruit. Paul here describes them by that which most distinguishes them; not by the external privileges which they enjoy, or the light under which they live; but by the fruits which they bring forth. For as the Apostle says, in verse 13, “Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of it shall be justified.” That which distinguishes good men from bad, is not that they hear good, or that they profess good, or that they intend good; but that they do good. They are workers of good.
2. The reward of such a man ; viz. "glory, honour, and peace;": in which are mentioned three sorts of good that are assigned to them as their portion. 1. Their moral good, expressed by the word glory. Glory shall be given them ; i. e. they shall be made excellent and glorious. They shall be endued with those excellent and glorious qualifications, which will render them beautiful and lovely. They shall have the image of God, and be partakers of his holiness. Thus the word glory is used by St. Paul, 2 Cor. iii. 18, We are changed into the same image from glory to glory. 2. Their relative good; Honour. They shall be in most honourable circumstances. They shall be advanced to great dignity, receive a relation to God, and Christ, and the heavenly inhabitants, and God shall put honour upon them. 3. Their natural good; Peace : which, as it is used in the scriptures, siguifies happiness; and includes all comfort, joy and pleasure.
I shall endeavour to show from the text, that glory, honour, and peace are the portion which God has given to all good men. In describing their happiness, I shall consider the successive parts of it; both here and hereafter.
First. I propose to treat of their happiness in this world. Those who are truly good men have been the subjects of a real, thorough work of conversion, and have had their hearts turned from sin to God. Of such persons it may be said, that they are truly blessed. They are often pronounced blessed by God. He is infinitely wise, and sces and knows all things. He perfectly knows who are blessed, and who are miserable. He hath said, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly."-" Blessed is he whose sins are forgiven.”— “Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust." _"Blessed are the poor in spirit”—“the meek”—“the merciful" - "the pure in heart.”
In considering the happiness of the righteous in this world, I shall pursue the method which the text obviously points out, and shall consider, 1. The excellency; 2. The honour; and, 3. The peace and pleasure which God bestows upon them in the present life.
I. The excellency or glory. The sum of this consists in their having the image of God upon them. When a person is converted, he has the image of God instamped on him. Coloss. iii. 10. “ And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him who created him." And Ephes. iv. 23, 24: “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness.” They have their eyes opened, and are led into such a sight of God and thorough acquaintance with him, as changes the soul into the image of God's glory.
What can render a creature more excellent than to have the very image of the Creator? and how blessed a change is that which is wrought in conversion, which brings a man thus to be in the image of God! For though the image of God in Christians in this world is very imperfect, yet it is real. The real image of God is most excellent, though it be imperfect.
Hence, “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour," and “the saints are the excellent of the earth.” The image of God is their glory, and it may well be called glory, for imperfect as it is, it renders them glorious in the eyes of the angels of heaven. The image of God is a greater beauty in their eyes than the brightness and glory of the sun in the firmament.
Indeed the saints have no excellency, as they are in and of themselves. In them, that is, in their flesh, dwells no good