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(6) H's design, yet I am perfuaded I have jusly represented wbat bis words convey in their most common acceptation, and if ihis is beside his meaning, be must thank bimself for it.
I bave made some corrections in this edition of my jer. mons : Yet bave not altered a word in the passages Mr. H. censures, except where I bave given notice of it by a note ir the margin, or by inclosing what I have added in crotchets.
There are many things in the dialogue worthy of remark, which for the sake of brevity, I have not noticed ; and those errors I have pointed oui are not so much exposed nor fully confuted as might be. Yet enough, I hope, is said to jew the perfeet absurdity of Mr. H's scheme of orthodoxy, and to bint at, if not open and clear the opposite irubs. . Although Mr. H. calis on the churches to bear their testimony against the do&trine in my fermons, yet for their own Jakes, I beg they will not proceed to judgment, before they bear and carefully weigh my defence; and when they have done this, they may more warrantably proceed to determine whether be or I bave advanced the most dangerous berifres.
If I have advanced any thing inconsistent with the word of truth, he that all point it out in a friendly manner will be entitled to my gratitude and love, and the publick fall have my acknowledgment when I am convinced. I have committed many blunders and errors in my life, and it is possible there may be fume in this performance, which I may even blush at on further consideration, and therefore I desire. every reader carefully to examine every sentiment, new or old, and to treat the imperfečtions of the writer with candor.Tbe following pages are dedicated to the Churcbes of Chrifi in New-England, especially those in the county of NewLondon in Connecticut, and in the county of Essex in the Ma[jacbuletts-Bay, by
Their willing Servant,
everyone at the imperfecti011. Od to the Churcbes of Wall
S E R M ON I.
2. COR. v. 19.
To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto
bimself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and halb
committed unto us the word of reconciliation. "T HEprincipal subject of which the gospel treats,
is reconciliation between God and man.. 1 This is the centre to which all the counsels and conduct of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit constantly point, to far as they relate to the falvation of sinners; as the end next in view to the divine glory. And in this centers all the felicity of those who are faved, as they hereby come to the love and enjoyment of that God, whose anger they had incurred, and under whose righteous curse they were bound over to everlasting misery.
The guilty consciences of men, when in any measure awakened, have always luggested to them, and on good grounds too, that God their Lord and Creator is offended with them for sin, and that they are obnoxious to his wrath. The natural conceptions which men in all ages and nations have had of bis eternal power and Godhead, and of their being accountable to him, have filled them with a dread of falling into his hands; and therefore no inquiry ever was more interesting or made with greater folicitude by the awakened finner; than that recorded by the prophet Micah, (chap. vi. 6, 7.) Wherewith pall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the bigb God, &c. i. e. so as to appease his anger, and fird acceptance with him. A consciousness of their desert of his wrath hath caused even the heathens
to offer thousands of rams, and as it were ten thousand rivers of oil, to give their first-born for their transgreffion, and the fruit of their body for the fin of their foul, that they might appease the Almighty, and lay fome foundation of hope for pardon and acceptance. Various, and almost numberless have been the methods contrived for this end; all of which manifest a natural consciousness of injury done to the Deity, for which he is justly offended, and they exposed to his anger : and all with equal clearness, discover the good opinion men have always entertained of their own friendly dispofition towards God,and readiness to return to him, and be his loving and faithful subjects, so fuon as he should be appealed, and disposed to forgive and receive them to favour. This is evident, because there hath never appeared among men such a concern to remove the enmity of their hearts against God, and reduce themfelves to a conformity to him and his law,as to remove God's anger against them. For as it is fhocking to reason, that a creature should be an enemy to its Creator, and a rebel in heart to the great and glorious God; fo men have not eafily admitted the belief of this depravity, but, readily conclude that it God would make up the affair with them, they should most heartily return to their allegiance to him, and accept the reconciliation, it
Although they have been grofly mistaken in this, yet their conceptions of God as offended with them for fin, and the neceffity of an atonement in order to bis being reconciled, were and still are according to truth; and are confirmed abundantly by divine revelation : for the gospel fully answers the above inquiry,Where. with all I come before the Lord, &c. and shews us the way to his faveur through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. It fhews that God is the first mover in this affair; that he is more willing to be reconciled to finmers through Chrift, than they are to be reconciled to him. This the apostle Shews in my text, and in a few
words gives us a full account of this glorious doctrine of reconciliation between God and man.
The apostle having in the 17th verse given the true character of all that are in Christ, viz. i hat they are nete creatures; that old things are passed away and all things become new; he, in the 18th afferts, that all things are of God, who hath not only provided a Saviour, but also reconciled us to bimself by Jesus Christ, and given us to the ministry of reconciliation, to that in the apostle's view, God begins and finishes or perfects this whole work, and therefore the glory of it belongs, not to man as an agent in it, but wholly to God who alone is its author. And in my text, he informs us what the sum of this miniftry is ; 10 wit, I bat God was in Christ reconciling the world unto HIMSELF, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and bath committed to us ihe word of reconciliation. That which, in the 18th verse, the apoitie calls the ministry, he here calls the word of reconciliation ; and this teaches us, that the ministry of the word, or irs being publicly preached by the ministers of Christ, is ordinarily necessary, by God's institution, to bring about this reconciliation, and also that they who have this ministry committed to them, are, as ambassadors for Christ, to befeech finners in his stead to be reconciled to God.
Here then we have the state of the cafe quite altered. The enquiry of the natural conscience under guilt is, wherewith shall I come before an offended God? And what sacrifice shall I bring that will appease him and turn his anger away from me? But behold, through Chrift-be astonished o heavens, and hear O earth! God the offended Majesty comes down to sue and plead with offending man to be reconciled to him, to lay down his arms of rebellion, fubmit to, love and rest in him as his friend and all-fufficient portion ; with a promise, sealed in the blood of his own dear Son, that
mo n tinenteen porno", " he will noc impute his trespasses unto him, and that all things thall work together for his.good, from that mo
ale stap Sht in 1:8 by the res no
ment he lays by his enmity,andis reconciled to his God.
Now, as this is very wide of those notions which men naturally form of the case, and as it turns all the blame of continued enmity on man, and declares the Deity to be carrying on a design of grace towards a world of rebels, and as this leaves nothing for men to do in order to appease his anger, or dispose him to receive them to favour, and as it requires nothing of them but to return, and laying by their enmity against God, to love and delight in him with all their hearts ; I say, as the case stands thus, it is no wonder that such a change of the affair which casts all the blame on men, should be generally disapproved and hated by those who are desirous to recommend themselves and obtain forgiveness on the foot of their own works and well deservings : and it may well become us to enquire into the grounds and reasons of this amazing change, which may be discovered by carefully attending to the words before us, in which we have, the parties at variance described ; the reconciliation itself aflerted ; the author and also the purchaser of his favour mentioned ; and the means of it stated and appointed.--The parties at variance are, God the Creator, and man the creature ; the sole author of this infinite privilege and favour is the eternal Jehovah. The purchaser is his own Son the Lord Jesus Christ ; and the means instituted and appointed are the word and ministry of reconciliation.
As these words were designed by the apostle as a summary of the whole gospel or word of reconciliation, so it is impossible, in these few pages, to lay open all the glories contained in them, which indeed will never be fully comprehended till we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known. But what I design from the words at present, may be included in this general proposition.
DOCTRINE. That the eternal Jehovah is carrying on a design of