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itself, "Behold there is none that to hate the thoughts of GoD, to hate doeth good, no, not one."
Contemplating it as he made it, GOD requires of man the exercise of all the holy powers which he bestowed upon him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy GOD with all thy soul, and with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." This is the voice of God's holy law. When Adam stood in his original creation-state his whole character was a response to this law. He needed not to have the law propounded in words-his character was instinctive obedience to the law. He had the will to please-he had the heart to love. The love of God is holiness, holiness is happiness-Adam was happy. But when Adam violated holiness, and that pure law of creationthe absolute dependence of every creature upon the Creator-when he broke through the restriction which was the outward and visible sign of his de. pendence when he did in effect say, "I will be dependent no longer-I I will not hold the garden under another-I will have no covenant of reservation in my lease-I will have no lease at all; the garden is my own, I will break through all restraint; I see not, and, therefore, I will not acknowledge, any superior to myself." When he did so, determined to please himself, he threw away the will to please GOD, and with the will to please he lost the heart to love. Endeavouring, then, to justify himself against the convictions of his own conscience, and feeling, at the same time, that GOD saw through the false excuse, he began
the presence of GoD, and, instead of hastening to meet the manifestation of the Lord GOD in the garden, with all the buoyancy of conscious love, he ran to hide himself among the trees. It was not because God had ceased to love him-nay, GoD loved him still; the language of GoD to him was still that of love—it was still that of holy law-it was still, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." To command him to love was a mark of love to him; for it was the same as commanding him to be happy, since the love of GoD is happpiness in every creature. GOD loved him still, I say, for the voice of the law is the voice of love; for the voice of the law is, "thou shalt love," and to love is to be happy. When GOD commands us to love him, he commands us to be happy. God loved him still; it was he who ceased to love God.
Oh, my brethren, would that this principle were plainly stated to you, so that you must needs see it; would that I could make it so plain to you, that you would all be forced to see and to feel, this night, that the separation between you and God is not that he hath ceased to love you, but that you have ceased to love him. How shall I attempt to make this plainer to you? The palpitation in the heart of the criminal, when he hears the trumpet sound for the approach of the judge of assize, though there be no sentence pronounced; the trembling blush in the debtor's face at seeing his creditors, though no demand be made;
(To be continued.)
London: Published for the Proprietors, by T. GRIFFITHS, Wellington Street, Strand ; and Sold by all Booksellers in Town and Country.
Printed by Lowndes and White, Crane Court, Fleet Street.
SERMON BY THE REV. H. Mc NEILE.
THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 1831.
(The Rev. H. M' Neile's Sermon concluded.)
the reluctance of the mischievous child to greet his father on his return home, although no disapprobation hath been expressed; these are tints in the leaf of that crimson dye which hath stained the parent bud-the dye in all its deadly hue, which stained Adam, is traceable in the natural character of every man, in the natural alienation from God of every man; for let flattering metaphysicians lie as they will, upon this subject, the true character of man, by nature, is that his heart is alive to the calls of frivolity, of vice, of avarice, of ambition, of pleasure, and of profit; but, dead to the voice of GOD-of GOD's holy love.
And yet that voice, that call of GOD to mankind to love Him is still a righteous call, because the inability under which we are now involved of answering the call is no excuse for us, neither is it any reason why GOD should lower his demands upon
Shall inability, contracted by wilful wickedness, be pleaded as an excuse for continuance in disobedience? It would upset the whole frame-work of society if it were admitted. A general has a right to the obedience of his soldiers. He commands them to march, but if, in the meantime, through their wilful wickedness, they have involved themselves in such a state of drunkenness, that instead of being able to march they cannot stand-is their drunkenness then an excuse, is it any
reason why he should lower his demand upon them, and change his orders? Nay, brethren, it is an aggravation of their guilt; it manifests how utterly reckless they were of the duty due to their superior. It would not be righteous in GoD to ask less of man than perfect love; it would not be righteous to lower his demand, to meet the state into which his creature has fallen. It would be a confession, a practical confession, that his first demand had been too high, had been too rigorous. No, the Gospel is not a mitigation of the law; the Gospel is not a lowering of God's demand upon us. My brethren, to say that it is, is to spoil both law and Gospel-to represent the law as too severe, and the Gospel as a modification of the law, as a meeting of the necessities of fallen man by a kindness which connives at sinI am bound to say that such a representation brings a false charge against GoD's holy law, and makes a false representation of GoD's holy Gospel. There is no mitigation of the law; the law of GoD is a holy, just, and good law; and the grand achievement of the Gospel is to bring man into obedience to the first and great commandment of the law. For what is the achievement of the Gospel? It is to bring man to the love of GOD. And what is the first and great commandment of the law? It is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy GOD." There is no opposition between the law and the Gospel in this respect.
The Gospel is God's plan for bringing | loved GoD, but that he loved us, and his creature back to the obedience of sent his Son." How then? How then? that holy law. And now what do we If he gave his Son for the salvation of see? If the voice of the law had been man-if he gave him to bring back, to the only voice of GOD which had receive, to restore the worst of sinners, reached this fallen world, the only what becomes of his holy law, what consequence that could have resulted becomes of the sanctions of that law? would have been sullen unconcern and My brethren, "Herein was manifested eventual ruin; because, although even the love of GoD, that he gave his Son that voice would have been a voice of to be the propitiation for our sins." love, yet it would have worn such an In one gift he accomplished two great aspect to fallen man that he never purposes-he gave a proof, an intelwould have loved in return. He felt ligible proof, of his love to us; and he himself condemned by the voice, though made a full provision for our guilt still it were a voice of love. There is no against him, in order that a sense of condemnation in the commandment, guilt past might not stand in the way "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," of our return to his open arms. In the the condemnation is in your own soul- opening of his arms to us he put away you want love. The commandment the guilt-he gave his Son to be the is full of love; it is an invitation to be propitiation for our sins. Help was holy; and I say there is no condemna- laid on him that was mighty. Jesus tion in it-the condemnation is in you Christ hath endured the penalty which -it is in the rising of resistance against was incurred by violating the law of GOD-it is in every one of you, and creation and flying against that depennot in GoD towards you; and the dence which we should have enjoyed voice of God's holy law, although it for ever. Jesus Christ has come under were a voice of holy love, would not the curse which we have incurred, and have gained access to your alienated the Father hath been pleased to bruise hearts. It was too high, it was too him for us. unmixed love-too divine to reach you. It was needful that GoD, in compassion to you, should, as it were, humanize this love, that it might get access to you.
Such a satisfaction was not required by our Father's heart, his heart was with us; the satisfaction was required by our Father's justice, our Father's government. It is not a satisfaction winning our Father's heart to us-no, it is a satisfaction emanating from the eternal love of our Father's heart, and harmonizing with his heart, his hand of righteousness, his government of equity. It is the hand of everlasting infinite love which wields the sword of justice, and finds a sheath for it in the bleeding vicarious sacrifice of his Son. Love prompts the whole work, it is love-all love; and it is in strict conformity with the law. Love in conformity with law is the definition of the Gospel. This love of GOD surviving the provocation of his creatures, this love of God fore
But there has come another voicenot an opposing voice, but a prevailing voice, in strict harmony with the former voice which came from God. It is a a proclamation of God's manifestation of his love, not in words only, saying, "Thou shalt love me," but in deed also, giving the Son of his love for the world. "God so loved the world," that after it fell from him he still commanded it to love him; not only so, but " God so loved the world that he gave his Son-that he gave his only begotten Son." "In this was manifested the love of God, that he gave his Son." Herein is love, not that we
ordained to be exhibited thus in his Son, was revealed, in a measure, to his people of old in the types and promises bestowed upon the Jewish nation. In virtue of that revelation, in virtue of the manifestation made in those types, GoD's invitation went out by the mouth of his prophets to the people, encouraging them to come to him, expostulating with them for going away, arguing with them and telling them that he had no pleasure in their death, and saying to them, "Why, why will ye die, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth. Turn unto me. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thought" - his unworthy thought of a loving Father-his injurious thought, that thinks harshly of so kind a GOD-"let him forsake his thought, and turn unto me, and I will have mercy upon him; to your GOD, and he will abundantly pardon him." This language was first proclaimed to the Jewish nation; and when the Son of God came in the flesh-when he who had laid in the bosom of the Father, and who was to manifest the Father's heart to men, as I have already explained to you-when he came forth; the surviving love of God to his creatures-surviving their continued provocation - was not only exhibited in the gift of the Son, and not only exhibited in the light of the holy law by the death and sufferings of his Son, but it was repeated in human accents, it was dwelt upon and manifested with all the tenderness of human sympathy, it was explained by acts and deeds, unto men; it was explained by the hand of kindness stretched out to the helpless sinner by the way-side-by the word of kindness addressed to the sinner in the house or in the street; it was exhibited in that which was the reproach of Jesus in the mouth of the Pharisees, but which
is the glory of Jesus in the hearts of his people, "This man receiveth sinners THIS MAN RECEIVETH SINNERS." Yes, it is indeed his character, he receiveth sinners. He is come as God's right hand to receive sinners, and bring them unto Gon-he is come as the out-stretched arms of our Father, spreading themselves towards the children of Adam to subdue them to himself, and engrave the characters of love legibly upon them; and, a voice from behind utters with tenderness to every heart, "Come, come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "No man cometh to the Father, but by me." It is kindness to tell you so, connected as it is, with "Come unto me."
My brethren, this is the characteristic of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the outstretched arm of GoD our Father who would make us ashamed of our averted face; who would overcome our evil with his good; who would, by pressing his endearing love upon us, make us weep tears of bitter self-reproach, for our unkind ingratitude towards him. It is this manifested love of God that opens the source of genuine repentance in the human soul. Oh, what is repentance? Why do we hear of repentance going before the knowledge of God's love? Imposble! Fear of punishment may go before, a writhing under a sense of endurance may go before-that is the characteristic of hell; but repentance, true sorrow for sin, true brokenness of heart, the true sacrifice of GoD, a broken and a contrite spirit, a heart that weeps not because of punishment, but because of sin, because of offending GoD, there is no such repentance but in the assurance of God's love.
There is no true repentance but in the assurance of God's love towards us. No man ever yet had true repentance, but the man who believed at the moment that GOD loved him;
and unless we can carry the proclamation of God's love to your heart, we shall never break that heart into penitence. Nothing else can break it. It may be tortured by the law, but broken it can never be, but by GoD's love declared to you in his blessed word. God's love to you must be declared before there is any alteration in your character, before there is any amendment, and the element He puts in action upon you, in order to reduce you into a different state of character, is the proclamation of his love borne home to your souls by the power of the Holy Ghost. And when the love of GOD is thus carried home to the heart of the sinner by the power of the Spirit of GOD, that heart is broken for sin, and then coeval with the assurance of God's love is the bursting forth of the penitential tear-the penitential cry.
The freeness of that love, then, is the mode―the sure mode of procuring repentance; and, oh, what do they mean, therefore, who will have repentance first, before we venture to tell sinners that God loves them? Oh, what do they mean who will harass and plague a poor trembling wretch who knows he deserves hell and hates the thoughts of God, because he hates the idea of being punished. What do they mean who will tell him about punishment and terror, instead of telling him about the love of God to him, that he may be won back from his wanderings, that he may be made ashamed by GOD's kindness. My brethren, it is God's free love that is the characteristic of the Gospel, so as to make it suitable to us.
past delinquency, without endeavouring to harrow up their feelings by setting forth before them the peculiarity of their offences, that peculiarity in which they differ a little from their fellow-creatures in the sight of one another, but which makes no essential difference between them and others in the sight of GoD
that without stating this to them we may go with an open heart and hand to tell them that God loves them in Christ Jesus, and astonish them by his kindness. I have seen instances of this myself, where such persons have been absolutely amazed into a subdued state of heart by the kindness which has told them fully of God's free love. The language of their soul has been, and sometimes they have expressed it as well as they could,
What! me? Love me? Impossible! It is possible that God may love those that have not transgressed as I have, but he cannot love me. You cannot be serious in telling me so." They cannot believe the blessed truth, and yet it is in believing this that the first saving impression towards God is made and can be made upon their character.
But, my dear brethren, think you that such persons are sinners above all the persons that we have to preach to? I tell you nay, but except you change your minds concerning God— except you repent of the evil thoughts that you have in your heart towards your Father-except you repent of the alienated state of your soul towards a GoD of love, "ye shall all likewise perish." Oh, what are differences of You will, perhaps, some of you, feel character between man and man in now, in the recollection of the more the sight of GOD? They resemble but immediate object for which we are the differences of elevation in the difassembled to-night, that this charac-ferent portions of the face of the earth teristic of the Gospel is peculiarly when compared with the height of suitable for the poor occupants of a heaven. They resemble but the differpenitentiary. We may go to them, ence of the distance between the valley and without any reproach for their and the hill as compared with the height