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Every new breath you draw, is a new gift of God to you. How causelessly then are you such dreadful enemies to Cod? And how justly might God, for it, eternally deprive you of all mercy, seeing you do thus requite God for his mercy and kindness to you?
2. Consider how you would resent it, if others were such enemies to you as you are to God. If they had their hearts so full of enmity to you ; if they treated you with such contempt, and opposed you, as you do God; and injured you so much as you do God, how would you resent it? Do you not find that you are apt greatly to resentit, when any oppose you, and show an ill spirit towards you ? And though you excuse your own enmity against God from your corrupt nature that you brought into the world with you, which you could not help, yet you do not excuse others for being enemies to you from their corrupt nature that they brought into the world, which they could not help; but are ready bitterly to resent it notwithstanding.
Consider therefore, if you, a poor, unworthy, unlovely creature, do so resent it, when you be not loved, but hated, how may God justly resent it when you are enemies to him, an infinitely glorious being; and a being from whom you have received so much kindness?
3. How unreasonable it is for you to imagine that you can oblige God to have respect to you by any thing that you can do, continuing still to be his enemy! Jf you think you have prayed and read, and done considerable for God ; yet who cares for the seeming kindness of an enemy?
What value would you yourself set upon it, if a man should seem to cary it respectfully to you, witha fair face, talking smooth, and making a show of friendship; when you knew, at the same time, that he was inwardly your mortal enemy i Would you look upon yourself obliged for such respect and kindness? Would you not rather abhor it? Would you count such respect to be valued, as Joab's towards Amasa, who took him by the beard, and kissed him, and said, art thou in health, my brother? And smote him at the same time under the fifth rib, and killed him?
What if you do pray to God, is God obliged to hear the prayers of an enemy? What if you have taken a great deal of pains, is Ciod obliged to give heaven for the prayers of an enemy? God may justly ablior your prayers, and all that you do in religion, as the flattery of a mortal enemy. No wonder God does not accept any thing from the hands of an enemy.
Ir\f. V. Hence we may learn how wonderful is the love that is manifested in giving Christ to die for us. For this love is love to enemies. That is taken notice of in the text, "While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." How wonderful was the love of God the Father m giving such a gift to such, who not only were such as could not be profitable to him, and such as could merit nothing from him, and poor little worms of the dust; but were his enemies, and enemies to so great a degree! They had that enmity that aimed at his life; yet so did he love them, that he gave his own Son to lay down his own life to Bave their lives. Though they had that enmity that sought to pull God down out of his throne, yet God so loved them, that he sent down Christ from heaven, from his throne there, to be in. the form of a servant ; and instead of a throne of glory, gave him to be nailed to the cross, ami to be laid in the grave, that so we might be brought to a throne of glory.
. How wonderful was the love of Christ in thus exercising dying love to his enemies! That he should so love those that hated him, with hatred that sought to take away his life, so as voluntarily to lay down his life, that they might have fife through him. "Herein is love; not that we loved him, but that he loved us, and laid down his fife for us."
Inf. VI. If we are all naturally God's enemies, hence we jnay learn what a spirit it becomeb us to be of towards our enemies. Though we are enemies to God, yet we hope that God has loved us j and we hope that Christ has died for us; and we hope that (,od has forgiven or will forgive us, and will do us good, and bestow infinite mercies and blessings upon us, so as to make us happy forever. Al l this mercy, we hope has been, or will be exercised towards us while enemies.
, Certainly then, it will not become us to be bitter in our spirits against those that are enemies to us, and have injured and ill treated us, and though they have yet an ill spirit towards us. Seeing we depend so much on God's forgiving us, though enemies, we should be of a spirit of forgiveness towards our enemies. And therefore our Saviour inserted it in that prayer which he dictated as a general directory to all; "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," to enforce the duty upon us, and to show us how reasonable it is. And we ought to love them even while enemies; for so we hope God hath done to us. We should be the children of our Father, who is kind to the unthankful and evil. Luke vi. 35.
If we refuse thus to do, and are of another spirit, we may justly expect that God will deny us his mercy, as he has threatened !" If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matth. vi 14, 15. The same we have in the parable of the man who owed his lord ten thousand talents. Matth. xviii. 23_....1j.
The trite Christians Life, a Journey toward* Heaven.
HEBREWS Xl, 13, 14.
AND CONFESSED THAT THEY WERE STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS ON THE EARTH. FOR THEY THAT SAY SCCS THINGS, DECLARE PLAINLY THAT THEY SEEK A COUNTRY.
The apostle is here setting forth the excellencies of the grace of faith, by the glorious effects and happy issue of it in the saints of the Old Testament. He had spoken in the preceding part of the chapter particularly of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. Having enumerated those instances, he takes notice that " these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers," &c.
In these words the apostle seems to have a more particular respect to Abraham and Sarah, and their kindred that came with them from Haran, and from Ur of the Chaldees, by the 15th verse, where the apostle says, " and truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned." It was they that upon God's call left their own country. Two things may be observed in the text. 1. What these saints confessed of themselves, viz. "thai they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
Thus we have a particular account concerning Abraham. "I am a stranger and sojourner with you." Gen. xxiii. 4. And it seems to have been the general sense of the patriarchs, by what Jacob says to Pharaoh. "And Jacob said to Pharaoh, the days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage." Gen. xlvil. 9. "I am a stranger and a sojourner with thee, as all my fathers were." Psal. xxxbe. 2.
2. The inference that the apostle draws from hence, viz. that they sought another country as their home. "For they that say such things, declare plainly,that they seek a country." In confessing that they were strangers, they plainly declared, that this is not their country; that this is not the country where they are at home. And in confessing themselves to be pilgrims, they declared plainly, that this is not their settled abode ; but that they have respect to some other country, that they seek and are travelling to as their home.
ThU life ought so to be sfient by us, as to be only a journey towards Heaven.
Here I would observe,
I. That we ought not to rest in the world and its chjoymenti, but should desire heaven.
This our hearts should be chiefly upon and engaged about. We should seek first the kingdom of God, Matth. vi. 33. He that is ona journey, seeks the place that he is journeying to. We ought above all things to desire a heavenly happiness: to go to heaven, and there be with God, and dwell with Jesus Christ. If we are surrounded with many outward enjoyments, and things that are very comfortable to us ; if we are settled in families, and have those good friends and relations that are very desirable; if we have companions whose society is delightful to us; if we have children that are pleasant and hopeful, and in whom we see many promising qualifications; if we live by good neighbors; have much of the respect of others; have a good name ; arc generally beloved where we are knewrt; Vol. VII. 2C