Images de page


JOHN III. 18, 19.

"He that believeth on him is not condemned. but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

I Now proceed, as proposed in the conclusion of the former discourse, to illustrate and prove the position, that ALL UNBELIEF


I have already more than once repeated the principle, so essential in this discussion, that, in order to unbelief being the subject of moral responsibility at all, it must have

[ocr errors]

some connection with the exercise of the will; and that, to constitute it a ground of just condemnation, it must have its source in an evil heart.-There can be no reasonable question, that, if it does arise from such a source, the sentence against it is fair and righteous. The only remaining inquiry, therefore, is, whether the position announced for proof be capable of establishment:— whether unbelief be, or be not, in all cases, the effect and indication of some morally evil principle. This you will perceive, defines and limits our subject of investigation. The Bible, we have seen, affirms, frequently and implicitly, that it is so; and on this ground, pronounces its damnatory sentence. -I might, as I noticed in closing last discourse, leave the matter here, in the assurance that God can bring home his own word to the conviction of every conscience, and constrain the unbelieving sinner to acknowledge its truth.-It may be of use, however, to vindicate the sentence; and in doing so, to detect and expose some of the various fal

lacies by which men are prevented from perceiving and owning it to be as the Bible has said. The heart has been pronounced, by Him who best knows it, "deceitful above all things;" and in thousands of ways, accordingly, does it successfully impose upon itself. It is no proof of its being otherwise than the Bible represents it to be, that men are not sensible of it, but are disposed to question and to deny it. This may be only a manifestation of the heart's deceitfulness. It is of the very nature of depravity, to make the subject of it insensible of the extent to which it exists, and of the force with which it operates, in his own bosom. To impart sensibility to its existence and influence, is the very first step of the Holy Spirit's work in conversion :-he "convinces of sin." He gives the sinner to see his real character, and to feel deeply what before had never affected or troubled him. And it may be stated as a fact, which admits of no exceptions, that there never was an individual brought to the faith of "the gospel of the grace of God,"


who did not humbly acknowledge, whatever might be the notions he had previously entertained of himself, and of the causes of his unbelieving rejection of it, that he had really been under the influence of an evil and self-deceived heart,-a heart at enmity with God, a heart, of which it had been the very deceitfulness that had made him before think well. Such has been the uniform admission of all who have believed in Christ, whatever may have been the variety (and that has been endless) of their former characters.

And this diversity of character amongst unbelievers is still endless;—admitting of, and actually exemplifying, every modification of aspect, which principles and affections merely natural, in all their modes and measures of combination, can possibly assume. Yet, in assigning the causes of men's unbelief, we dare not abate or qualify the statement of the Bible, that in every one of these endlessly diversified cases, it has its origin in one or other of the varieties of an evil heart," a heart not right with God."


I wish it to be distinctly understood, that, when I speak of unbelief, I mean unbelief of THE GOSPEL:-not infidelity, in the ordinary acceptation of the word;—the open and avowed rejection of the Bible as a revelation from God. There are many, very many, alas! who, though they are not infidels in this sense of the designation ;-but, on the contrary, profess to believe the Bible to be the word of God, are yet lamentably ignorant of that which it chiefly reveals, or as far as they theoretically know, are decidedly opposed to it. The Jews of our Lord's day, as we learn from his mode of addressing them, were unbelievers of this description. "Do not think," says he, " that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?"*-What! it might be asked,

* John v. 45-47.

« PrécédentContinuer »