Ezekiel 33:11
Say to them: 'As surely as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked should turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'
Sermons
An Appeal to the HeartJ. H. Hughes.Ezekiel 33:11
Divine ExpostulationJ. Parker, D. D.Ezekiel 33:11
God Calling the Wicked to RepentanceJohn Kennedy, D. D.Ezekiel 33:11
God Does not Delight in the Ruin of SinnersThe Scottish Christian HeraldEzekiel 33:11
God has no Pleasure in the Sinner's DeathEzekiel 33:11
Life by Repentance unto LifeR. Paisley.Ezekiel 33:11
Man is Bent on His Own DestructionD. A. Clark.Ezekiel 33:11
Pleading and EncouragementEzekiel 33:11
The Compassion of God for the UnconvertedA. Monod.Ezekiel 33:11
The Death of the Wicked not Pleasing to GodL. S. Spencer, D. D.Ezekiel 33:11
The Goodness and Severity of GodR. W. Dibdin, M. A.Ezekiel 33:11
The Salvation of Sinners Desired by GodSketches of Four Hundred SermonsEzekiel 33:11
The Sincerity of Divine ExpostulationsH. Bonar, D. D.Ezekiel 33:11
Why Go to HellA. G. Brown.Ezekiel 33:11
Why Will Ye DieA. Nettleton, D. D.Ezekiel 33:11
The Hope and the Way of LifeW. Clarkson Ezekiel 33:10, 11
Men's Misconception of God's GovernmentJ.D. Davies Ezekiel 33:10-20
Men are naturally prone to merge themselves in the nation. This was, perhaps, a stronger habit among the Jews than among us. They could not understand how that, while God punished the nation, he could protect the individual. Israel may be depressed in fortune, while yet Daniel and his companions are elevated. Sodom may be destroyed, but Lot shall be preserved.

I. SUFFERING OFTEN BLINDS MEN'S EYES TO GOD'S EQUITABLENESS. It is natural to suppose that luxurious prosperity is due to our merits; and, if adversity visits us, we judge ourselves to be hardly dealt with. Scarcely one man in a thousand realizes the fact that he deserves nothing, and that the common benefits of air and food are the unpurchased gifts of God. As soon as the suspension of Divine favors is felt we are disposed to complain. We cannot conceive that we have deserved such hardship. We see others, no more replete with virtue than ourselves, enveloped in silk and purple, riding abroad in gilded chariots. Does God really rule over the interests and fortunes of men? We have abandoned some evil courses: is not God going to reward us for this? Still, we can only think of our losses and our afflictions; we cannot see the higher benefits God is bringing to us. Through our blinding tears we can only see oppression and injustice. Through selfish tears we see only what we have lost, not what we have gained. We would rather discover injustice in God than iniquity within ourselves. Truly has it been said, "There's none so blind as those who will not see."

II. NATIONAL CALAMITY IS A SYMBOL OF PERSONAL PERDITION. The overthrow of a nation is something visible, impressive, startling. Yet it is not the worse thing that can happen to a man. He may have to transfer his political allegiance to another. He may have to live under a different set of laws and institutions. He may have to quit scenes in nature, with which he has been long familiar, for other scenes in a distant land. This loss, dishonor, banishment, are intended to remind him that there is a worse exile - an exile from his spirit's home, an exile from the kingdom of God, of which Canaan was but a symbol. To be compelled to dwell among idolaters was a gracious chastisement, to make his spirit recoil from the fear of dwelling forever among the foes of God. And if the Hebrew exile took to heart the lesson, that banishment to Babylon might become to him salvation.

III. NATIONAL CALAMITY IS CONSONANT WITH PERSONAL WELL-BEING. The typical Jew was murmuring in Babylon that this destruction of the nation was incompatible with God's promise of life - a promise founded on personal repentance. "If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?" Their idea of life was free life in Judea. God's idea of life was their return to allegiance and piety. "In his favor," and in this alone, they could find life. Consequently, a penitent Jew could have found the highest life, even while an exile in Babylon. If he personally felt and confessed his sin, if he reposed his soul on God's great mercy, if he bowed his spirit to God's will, and walked humbly with his God, this was life of the noblest kind. And, like a saint of later date, he could "rejoice even in tribulation." Better to dwell on Chebar's banks in the society of Jehovah than to dwell in the palaces of Jerusalem without God as a Friend. If God be my God, exile has no terror for me. Where God is, there is my heaven.

IV. RIGHTEOUSNESS MUST BE PERSONAL, NOT HEREDITARY NOR TRADITIONAL. The foolish and hurtful idea dwelt in the minds of the Jews that God's former favor to them as a nation was a guarantee for all future security. It was a species of anti-nomianism. Their maxim was, "Once righteous, always righteous, notwithstanding our deeds.;' They imagined that they could not fall from their exalted position. It is marvelous how deep-rooted in some minds this prejudice respecting traditional piety becomes. But the fervid piety of former days will avail us nothing if faith and love are now dead. It is only a living faith, a present submission, that God accepts. And if our former faith and love have evaporated, there is clear evidence that it was only a pretence, and not the reality. To be accepted of God, and to be accounted worthy of heaven, I personally must be righteous. The righteousness of the nation is nothing else than the righteousness of the component parts. And unless I individually am righteous in God's esteem, I shall be rejected and condemned in the great assize.

V. PERSONAL RIGHTEOUSNESS HAS ITS BOOT IN SINCERE REPENTANCE. Repentance is the birth of right and honest feeling towards God. Whether our past feelings and actions have been wrong by way of omission or by way of guilty commission, the whole sin, greater or less, will be candidly confessed. Repentance does not consist in excessive grief, but in genuine turning - a complete change of mind. The repentant man opens his mind to the light. He allows the light of truth to enter every part of his nature. He yields to the light. He follows the light. He submits his thought, his choice, his will, his life, to God his King. He welcomes the indwelling and the inworking of the Holy Spirit. Righteousness is gradually wrought into the warp and woof of his nature, and so he becomes the righteousness of God through his Spirit.

VI. GOD'S COUNSELS ADVOCATING REPENTANCE ARE PROOFS OF HIS COMPASSION. Full well God knows that the possession of perfect righteousness is the noblest possession any man can acquire, and that this righteousness must begin in sincere and thorough repentance. We have a thousand proofs of God's compassion towards the erring children of men. We have them especially in the gift of his only Son, and in the gift of his Divine Spirit. But the crowning proof of his compassion is in stooping to plead with men's prejudices and pride. He remonstrates and entreats as if he were the party about to be benefited. Such self-forgetful love was never seen before on earth. It is distinctive of our redeeming God. And when he succeeds, and the human heart relents, then a new wave of joy rolls through the realm of heaven. "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God." - D.







As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.
1. What a contrast are God's thoughts of man to man's thoughts of God!

2. How opposite are God's feelings towards man to man's feelings respecting God!

3. How different God's estimate of man from man's estimate of God!

4. How unlike God's purposes to man's! God says to man, "Live"; man says to God, Let Him die the death; crucify Him; this is the heir; come, let us kill Him.

5. How far asunder are God's ways from man's!

I. THE STATE OF MAN'S HEART IN REFERENCE TO GOD.

1. He murmurs against God for not giving him life. God proclaims His willingness to give it. I have no life. Is He not mocking me? Christ promises rest. I have none. Can He be sincere?

2. Nay, more, he casts the whole blame of his death on God. He says, I see that I must just die; there is no help for it; the blame is not mine, but God's. My fallen nature, my education, my circumstances, my temptations, these are my excuses.

II. THE STATE OF GOD'S HEART IN REFERENCE TO MAN.

1. He has no pleasure in their death. He did not kindle hell in order to gratify His revenge. He does not cast sinners headlong into its endless flames in order to get vent to His blind fury. He will finally condemn the unbelieving, but not because He delights to do so, but because He is the righteous Lord that loveth righteousness.

2. His desire is, that the wicked shall turn and live. It is to life — life everlasting — that He points your eye, sinner. It is of life that He desires to make you partaker. And surely it is life that you need. For what one word more fully or more terribly describes your present state than death? Dead, not like the withered leaf or the uprooted tree; that would at least be unconsciousness of loss, and ignorance of what might have been won. But you are dead to all that is worth living for, and yet alive to all that makes life a burden and a woe. Do you say, If God wants me to live, why does He not at once give me life? In other words, why does He not force life upon my acceptance, and burst through every barrier? I ask in return, Is God bound to take your way in giving life? I ask again, Do you really suppose that a person is not sincere in his kindness because he does not carry out that kindness by every means, lawful or unlawful? Is it not possible that there may be a limit to that kindness compatible with the most perfect sincerity?

III. THE EXPOSTULATION, with which all this closes, is one of the most urgent importunity on the part of God, proving yet more Fully His real desire to bless. It is like one vehemently enforcing an invitation upon an unwilling listener, — making a last effort to save the heedless or resisting sinner. Is it within the remotest bounds of possibility or conceivability that He is insincere; that He does not really mean what He says? The ways from which He calls on them to turn are named by Him "evil ways"; and what He calls evil must be truly so, — hateful in His eyes, as well as ruinous to the soul. The end of these ways He pronounces to be death; so that sinners must either turn or die.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

(with Ezekiel 18:23, 32): — Notice, that in each of my texts the Lord declares that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but in each following passage the statement is stronger. The Lord puts it first (Ezekiel 18:23) as a matter of question. As if surprised that such a thing should be laid to His door, He appeals to man's own reason, and asks, "Have I any pleasure at all," etc. In our second text (Ezekiel 18:32), God makes a positive assertion. Knowing the human heart, He foresaw that a question would not be enough to end this matter, for man would say, "He only asked the question, but He did not give a plain and positive statement to the contrary." He gives us that clear assurance in our second text: "I have no pleasure," etc. But still, as if to end forever the strange and ghastly supposition that God takes delight in human destruction, my third text seals the truth with the solemn oath of the Eternal.

I. Notice, first, the assertion that GOD FINDS NO PLEASURE IN A SINNER'S DEATH. Really I feel ashamed to have to answer the cruel libel which is here suggested; yet it is the English of many a man's doubts. I will only bring forward certain evidence by which you who are still under the deadly influence of the falsehood may be delivered

1. Consider the great paucity of God's judgments among the sons of men. There are such things, but they are wonderfully rare in this life, considering the way in which the Lord is daily provoked by presumption and blasphemy. Does not the Lord Himself say that judgment is His strange work"?

2. The length of God's long-suffering before the Day of Judgment itself comes proves how He wills not the death of men.

3. Furthermore, remember the perfection of the character of God as the moral Ruler of the universe. Aversion to punishment is necessary to justice in a judge.

4. If any further thoughts were necessary to correct your misbelief, I would mention the graciousness of His work in saving those who turn from their evil ways. As if God were indignant that such a charge should be laid against Him that He delighteth in the death of any, He preferred to die Himself upon the tree rather than let a world of sinners sink to hell.

II. GOD FINDS NO ALTERNATIVE BUT THAT MEN MUST TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, OR DIE. It is one or the other: turn or burn. God, with all His love to men, cannot discover any third course; men cannot keep their sins and yet be saved.

1. Be it known to you, first, that when God proclaims mercy to men upon this condition, that they turn from their ways, this proclamation is issued out of pure grace. God saves you, not because of any merit in your turning, but because He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He has decreed to save all who turn from the paths of evil.

2. If there be no repentance, men must be punished, for on any other theory there is an end of moral government. The worst thing that could happen to a world of men would be for God to say "I retract My law; I will neither reward virtue, nor punish iniquity; do as you like." Then the earth would be a hell indeed.

3. Sin must be punished; you must turn from it or die, because sin is its own punishment. Even the omnipotence of God cannot make an impenitent sinner happy. You cannot be married to Christ and heaven until you are divorced from sin and self.

4. I believe that every man's conscience bears witness to this if it he at all honest.

III. GOD FINDS PLEASURE IN MEN'S TURNING FROM SIN. Among the highest of the Divine joys is the pleasure of seeing a sinner turn from evil. When your heart is sick of sin, when you loathe all evil, and feel that though you cannot get away from it, yet you would if you could, then He looks down on you with pitying eye. When there is a new will springing up in your heart, by His good grace — a will to obey and believe, then also the Father smiles. When He hears within you a moaning and a sighing after the Father's house and the Father's bosom; you cannot see Him, but He is behind the wall listening to you. His hand is secretly putting your tears into His bottle, and His heart is feeling compassion for you. When at last you come to prayer, and begin to cry, "God be merciful to me, a sinner," God is well pleased; for here He sees clear signs that you are coming to yourself and to Him. His Spirit saith, "Behold, he prayeth!" and He takes this as a token for good. When you unfeignedly forsake sin God sees you do it, and He is so glad that His holy angels spy out His joy. I will tell you what pleases Him most of all, and that is when you come to His dear Son, and say, "Lord, something tells me that there is no hope for me, but I do not believe that voice. I read in Thy Word that Thou wilt cast out none that come unto Thee, and lo, I come! I am the biggest sinner that ever did come, but, Lord, I believe Thy promise; I am as unworthy as the devil himself, but, Lord, Thou dost not ask for worthiness, but only for childlike confidence. Cast me not away — I rest in Thee."

IV. GOD THEREFORE EXHORTS TO IT AND ADDS AN ARGUMENT. "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" He perceives His poor creature standing with his back to Him, looking to idols, looking to sinful pleasures, looking towards the city of destruction, and what does God say to him? He says, "Turn!" It is a very plain direction; is it not? "Turn." or "Right about face!" That is all. "Turn ye, turn ye." See, the Lord puts it twice. He must mean your good by these repeated directions. Suppose my man servant was crossing yonder river, and I saw that he would soon be out of his depth, and so in great danger; suppose I cried out to him, "Stop! stop! If you go another inch you will be drowned. Turn back! Turn back!" Will anybody dare to say, "Mr. Spurgeon would feel pleasure if that man were drowned"? It would be a cruel cut. What a liar the man must be who would hint such a thing when I am urging my servant to turn and save his life! Would God plead with us to escape unless He honestly desired that we should escape? I trow not. "Turn ye, turn ye." He pleads each time with more of emphasis. Will you not hear? Then He finishes up with asking men to find a reason why they should die. There ought to be a weighty reason to induce a man to die. "Why will ye die?" This is an unanswerable question in reference to death eternal. Is there anything to be desired in eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of His power?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHAT THE DEATH SPOKEN OF IS NOT.

1. Manifestly this death cannot be merely the death of the body; for all will die this death, whether they turn to God or not, and whether they live a spiritual life or not.

2. The death spoken of cannot be spiritual, or a state of sinfulness; for God represents them as being already in this state.

II. POSITIVELY THE DEATH SPOKEN OF MUST BE THE OPPOSITE OF THE LIFE HERE REFERRED TO. This life cannot be natural life; for all, both saint and sinner, are conceived of as being alike in natural life. Of course, the life must be salvation — eternal life — that blessedness which saints enjoy in the favour and love of God, begun here, prolonged forever hereafter. Now, if such be the life alluded to, the death, being, in contrast with it, must be eternal death; the misery experienced by all God's enemies,

III. WHY HAS GOD NO PLEASURE IN THE SINNER'S DEATH?

1. The death of saints in which God takes a special interest is only the death of the body; but the death of the wicked is the death of both soul and body together. Both together are involved in misery and ruin.

2. God has no pleasure in the sinner's death, because He is a moral being, and it is contrary to the nature of moral beings to delight in suffering for its own sake.

3. God cannot have pleasure in the sinner's death, because His character forbids it. God is not only by nature a moral agent, but He is in character a good moral agent — a being of infinite benevolence. God pities the self-ruined sinner; never rejoices in his dreadful doom, for its own sake.

4. It must be that God regards the death of the sinner, viewed in itself, as a great evil. No finite mind can begin to conceive how great and dreadful this evil is. It needs the sweep of an infinite mind to measure its length and breadth, its depth and its height.

5. God can have no pleasure in the death of sinners, because it is a state in which He can wisely show them no more favour. Mercy has had its day; simple justice must henceforth have unimpeded exercise.

6. Another reason still is that when sinners have out-lived their probation and are cut off in their sins, their depravity will be thenceforward restrained. How shocking it must be to the pure and holy God to see His creatures giving themselves up to utter and unrestrained depravity — to see them giving boundless scope to the most odious and horrible rebellion!

IV. WHY DOES NOT GOD PREVENT THE DEATH OF THE WICKED? If He takes no pleasure in it, why should He suffer it to be?

1. You are aware that men have often inferred from God's benevolence that He will not suffer the wicked to be lost. But who has any right to infer this? How does it appear that benevolence cannot inflict a lesser evil for the sake of preventing a greater?

2. God does not prevent the death of the wicked, for the good reason that He cannot wisely do it. For God to act otherwise than with wisdom must be wrong.

3. God could not have prevented their destruction by refusing to create them. He saw it would be wise to create moral agents who would sin, and some of whom would be lost; and how could He act other than wisely without forever condemning Himself for wrongdoing?

4. God could not wisely have done more than He has done for the sinner's salvation. It is plain that God could not wisely abridge the liberty of moral agents, nor indeed could He save them, even if He should, for the very idea of the salvation of a moral agent implies his own voluntary turning from sin.

5. God cannot save men without their concurrence; in the nature of the ease, they could not be holy without their own concurrence; how, then, could they be happy without it?

6. Another reason why God does not prevent the death of the wicked is that He regards it as a less evil than to interpose in any way possible to Himself, to save them. If they would turn under such influences as He can wisely use, He would rejoice; but He is already going to the utmost limit of His discretion, and how can He go further?

7. Yet another reason is that, although the evil of the sinner's death is great, yet He can make a good use of it. He can overrule it for important good to others and to various interests in His kingdom.

V. THE ONLY POSSIBLE WAY IN WHICH THE SINNER'S DEATH CAN BE AVOIDED, IS FOR THE SINNER HIMSELF TO TURN FROM HIS EVIL WAYS AND LIVE. God's government being what it is, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ are natural and necessary means of the sinner's salvation. He might as well ask Jehovah to come down from His throne, as ask Him to do anything more or anything different from what He is doing to save sinners. Remarks —

1. The goodness of God is really no encouragement to those who continue in sin.

2. The goodness of God is not the security of the impenitent sinner's salvation, but the guarantee of his damnation.

3. The death of the wicked is not inconsistent with God's happiness.

4. God will have the eternal consciousness of having laid Himself out to the utmost to save sinners.

5. The death of the wicked will not be inconsistent with the happiness of heaven. When saints reach heaven they will have more confidence in God than many people have now. With enlarged views they will see most clearly that God has done right, perfectly and infinitely right.

( C. G. Finney.)

I. THE PURPOSES OF GOD. Before He exercised one act of creating power, He saw all the consequences of His creation, knowing then, as perfectly as now, and as perfectly as he ever will know, all the results of felicity and wretchedness that would ever be realised in heaven, earth, and hell, And with all these before Him, as the certain consequences of that constitution of things He was about to establish, and that creative energy He was about to exert, still He resolved, that under such a constitution, such a creation should rise. He spake and it was done.

1. We have no right to conclude that the Almighty is the sole cause of the miseries of His creatures, from the fact that He is the Author of their existence, that He knew, before He created, all the consequences of His creating, and that none of His expectations and purposes are frustrated. Before we can apply the purposes of God to particular things — to our conduct, our destiny, or the pleasure of the Deity — we must know the method of application; we must know the particular character of the purposes; we must be able to understand how they affect the particulars.

2. If it is lawful for us to infer, from the purposes of God, that He has pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, then it is lawful for us, on the same principle, to infer that He has pleasure in that wickedness itself, which leads to destruction. We may conclude, therefore, on this principle of reasoning, that God is pleased with sin! This is the result of attempting to reason from the secret purposes of God.

3. The consideration which should correct this error is, the narrow limits of our understandings. We have not the least knowledge of the nature of the connection which exists between the purposes of Jehovah and the actions of His creatures.

4. But though we are incapable of unfolding the Divine purposes, and proving thereby, that the Deity has no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, and that these purposes do not render sin and death unavoidable, yet we have other methods of showing this. He who alone knows perfectly those purposes and the dispositions of the wicked, has told us, and we have, therefore, the strongest of all possible evidence.(1) He has told us in the text if the purposes of God were of such a nature as to compel the wicked to his wickedness, and thus bring him to eternal death unavoidably, this declaration could not be true.(2) He has told us so in those explicit declarations which charge our destruction upon ourselves: "Oh, Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself." Now, if the Divine purposes forced men to sin, or placed insurmountable obstacles in the way of their salvation, I can conceive of no sense in which this declaration could be true.(3) He has told us so in those numerous passages which expressly declare that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.(4) He has told us so in those tender expostulations and earnest entreaties, which He employs to win sinners to Himself.(5) He has told us so in those lamentations which He utters over the doom of the wicked.(6) He has told us so when He calls us to contemplate those attributes with which He clothes Himself — attributes of mercy, forbearance, long-suffering, and tender compassion.

II. THE NATURE OF RELIGION. Those whose minds have surmounted one difficulty in religion often meet with another. When we have learnt that the purposes of the Deity do not infringe upon our liberty, and oblige us to be lost, the nature of religion comes up to lend to our mistake a lame apology. But let us hush the murmur with two reflections — the one humbling to our pride, the other complimentary to our nature. The first is, that the difficulties which beset us in our attempts after religion are mostly, if not altogether, placed there by ourselves, through our own wickedness and folly. The other is, that that very characteristic of our nature which renders us capable of religion, or of sensibility to its difficulties, is the very characteristic which distinguishes us from the lower order of creatures. Our Creator, in forming us such as we are, has given us an exaltation. And if we still complain that we have so much to do in the religion that God requires, let us remember that this activity is absolutely to the enjoyment of that felicity which religion proposes. We are moral beings, and religion treats us as such.

1. Its mysteries perplex you. But what have you to do with its mysteries? Are you required to understand them? No, not at all — you have simply to believe what is recorded concerning them. Are you required to regulate your practices by them? Not any further than they are plainly revealed, and have thereby lost (so far) the character of mysteries.

2. I grant that the Bible contains some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable do wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction. But everything necessary for us to know is fully revealed, as far as it is necessary that we should know it.

3. Christian morality is extremely plain. All those things which concern our present and immediate conduct are not difficult to be understood.

4. There is self-denial in religion. Men often think it too severe. But whence does the necessity of this self-denial arise? It arises wholly and in every part of it from sin. It is benevolence, therefore, which imposes it. For what purpose? To preserve the whole man from hell. The necessity of it arises from corruption alone. Would you have a religion proposed to you which should leave you at liberty to sin? which should impose no restraint? which should plunge you into immorality and vice? which would multiply your crimes thick upon you, and promise to take you to heaven at last? You would reject such a religion.

5. Perhaps you are troubled with the humility of our religion. But why should this trouble you? Does the requiring of this prove to you that the Deity would confine you in sin, taking pleasure in your destruction? The very aim of this humility is to exalt us.

6. Men must repent; and this troubles you. What, then, is repentance? It is sorrow for sin — hatred, abhorrence of it, and forsaking of it. Very well: if you have sinned, erred, done wrong, should you not be sorry for it?

7. You are troubled because God requires you to trust in His mercy — to believe in Jesus Christ. But if you cannot trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, where can you trust?

8. Do not the motives of religion compel you to believe that God has no pleasure in your death? What can you soberly and really desire, that religion does not offer to you?

III. THE CONDITION OF MAN is called in as an excuse or plea for irreligion. This condition is alleged to be of such a nature that the individual cannot extricate himself from it, and attain salvation.

1. The first characteristic of this apology for irreligion is, that it is altogether hasty. How does this irreligious man know that his depravity is invincible? What right has he to conclude that his condition is such, that he cannot accept religion, repent, and be saved? If he had tried — if he had made a full experiment in the matter, and, after doing all he could do (as sinners sometimes say they have), had found all his efforts unavailing, then there would be some ground for his conclusion. But he has not tried. (Men do err when they say so.) Some little, feeble, unfrequent attempts perhaps he may have had. But he has not done all he could. There are three proofs of his hasty conclusion gathered from the experiment itself which he affirms he has made.

(1)It was an unwise one.

(2)It was a feeble one.

(3)It was a short one.

2. The second characteristic of this apology is its illegitimate application. Impotent as the unrenewed man may be for bearing the fruits of the Spirit, he is under no necessity, from that impotence, of running into those courses, or those vices and crimes, which so rapidly sear his conscience, and degrade his nature, or those vanities which take off his mind from everything good. He resembles a prisoner furnished with a key to unlock his prison, who, instead of using it, flings it away. He resembles a man in a gulf, from which he is unable to extricate himself, and who, instead of availing himself of the aid proffered for his deliverance, turns from the hand that would lift him out, and plunges still deeper down the chasm that stretches its unfathomable abysses beneath.

3. The third characteristic of this apology is its tendency to excuse from moral virtues. Because external conduct is not internal grace, because the moral virtues have not necessarily the nature of evangelical religion (though such religion invariably leads to them), sinful men often mistake the bearing of these virtues. The man who lives in the neglect of them (virtues of which by nature he is capable) is taking the most direct course to render himself insensible and inaccessible to the motives and means of an evangelical religion. Those who have learnt to be shameless before man, have taken one step toward being fearless before God.

4. The fourth characteristic of this apology is its direct irreligious tendency: it is taken as an excuse for the neglect of those religious duties which every irreligious man is capable of performing. The external duties of religion lie quite within the scope of his ability, and if these are neglected, what shall show that it would not be the same with all spiritual duties if they lay as much within the range of his power? And if he is unable, while not born of the Spirit, to render spiritual worship and service, surely there is the more urgent reason for coming as near to it as he can.

5. The fifth characteristic of this apology is the idleness attending it. Hope is an active principle. Despondency is an inactive one. Where has God told us that we can accomplish nothing in working out our salvation? Where has He told us to rest contented, or rest discouraged, till He converts us? Where has He said, that striving to enter in at the strait gate will be of no avail? Where is the Christian who ever became a Christian in his idleness?

6. The most strange perversion of all, is the argument from the depravity of nature, for not seeking the aids of grace — the saving efficiency of the Holy Spirit. Aside from the Holy Spirit, his case is just as hopeless as if judgment had already proceeded upon him. And this is the great reason why he should besiege the throne of grace, as standing upon the very borders of the pit, that God would save him from going down to eternal death! This he can do. His condition does not prohibit it. This he ought to do. His condition demands it.

(L. S. Spencer, D. D.)

The Scottish Christian Herald.
I. THIS APPEARS FROM THE CREATION OF MAN AND THE ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION OF HIS NATURE. God created man in His own image. This is the only law, so far as we know, according to which rational creatures can enjoy happiness. Only, he was created mutable — he had power to stand, but he was also liable to fall — he might obey and live, or he might transgress and die.

II. THIS IS EVIDENT FROM THE PLAN OF RECOVERY HE HAS FORMED. Although eternal death had passed on all who sinned; it would have been impossible to have affirmed that God delighted in the death of sinners. But in the redemption by Christ, the character of God comes forth in brighter glory, — a glory that shines without a cloud, a proof so overwhelming of the character of God, and of His designs of mercy to our family, that it requires only to be stated that its force may be felt. Where is the man who will affirm that God finds pleasure in the death of angels? and yet what has He done for them compared with what He has done for us?

III. IT IS EVIDENT FROM THE MEANS GOD EMPLOYS TO CARRY THIS PLAN INTO EFFECT.

1. The means which is obviously of first importance is the incarnation, the obedience, and the death of His Son. Every sorrow of His humbled estate, every word He spake, and every action He performed on our world, is a proof of our text.

2. The ordinances of grace. Many of the blessings of God are so common, that we have ceased to prize them, and never think what our condition would be were they to be taken from us. The air we breathe, and the sun that shines on us, are instances of this in the natural world. The same may be said of the ordinances of grace. We have enjoyed them so long, in such abundance, and with so little effort of ours, that we are now insensible to the greatness of the blessing. And yet it is not easy to imagine in what condition we would have been today had we never enjoyed them, or in what condition we would be tomorrow were they to be taken from us.

3. The mercies of all kinds which God confers on men. We are surrounded by the love of God, not only in grace, but in nature, and in providence, and that love is designed to work on our hearts and lead us to repentance.

4. Afflictions and chastisements. These wound the body and often administer the cup of gall to the spirit, but their tendency is salutary, and therefore we conclude that their design is beneficent. It is mercy, when the sinner is in the way that leads to death, to beat him back although it should be with the rod of trouble, — to hedge up his path, although with the thorns of affliction.

5. The strivings of the Spirit. There are moments of fear, of trembling, of alarm, in the life of every sinner; he starts up, he looks around, and he would flee for safety if he only knew where he might be at rest. These are the strivings of the Spirit of God: to pluck him as a brand from the great burning, and, though they should never issue in his salvation, they are sufficient to show that God has no pleasure in his death. There are others who are "begotten again to a lively hope" by the Word of God; into their hearts the Spirit enters, restores the palace which was lately in ruins, and makes it a glorious temple in which God may be worshipped, and in which the Spirit may dwell. This exhibits God not only as employing means to prevent the death of the sinner, but as actually averting his destruction, and, therefore, it is the highest possible evidence that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

(The Scottish Christian Herald.)

I. THE GOODNESS OF GOD. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

1. The very commission which Christ gave to His apostles, and which has been handed down to their successors, proves this. "Go ye into all the world," etc. Tell the vilest, the very chief of sinners, without any reserve or any hesitation, that Christ died for him: that Christ hath redeemed him and all mankind.

2. And this is to be told to men who are living in sin, rebelling and sinning with a high hand against God.

3. Nay, such is the goodness of God, so little pleasure has He in the death of the wicked, that He commissions His ministers to entreat and beseech sinners to return to Him; to come and receive a full and free pardon.

4. We see His goodness yet further illustrated when these invitations are neglected and sinners perish in spite of mercy.

5. The strong and repeated expressions or delight when His warnings are heeded, and His invitations accepted, speak loudly the goodness of God.

II. THE SEVERITY OF GOD. It is implied in the text. For though He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, they will die notwithstanding.

(R. W. Dibdin, M. A.)

Life and death are words pregnant with the highest meaning.

I. THE TERRIBLE EVENT. "The death of the wicked."

1. The wicked is that person, whatever he may be as regards externals, whose will is not in unison with the will of God.

2. The wicked, far down in the dark abyss of destruction, will ever remain conscious of his loss, his wretchedness, and the intolerable anger of an offended God. His death will be his loss of God's favour, and his own personal happiness.

3. Why is the wicked doomed to die?(1) Because death is the inevitable tendency of the great principle that rules his soul. The wicked man is governed by selfishness — he is the slave and victim of sin. This principle is fatal to everything that is elevated, pure, and life-giving, in the spiritual world. It tends to destroy all peace of mind, to quench hope, to fetter the intellectual powers, to dissolve friendship, and to fit the soul for the gloomy regions of despair.(2) Because death is the desert of sin.(3) Because death is the effect of a Divine decree respecting disobedience.

II. THE CHEERING FACT. Can there be anything more consolatory to a sinner than this Divine affirmation? God takes no pleasure in the misery of His creatures.

1. It is contrary to His benevolent nature to do so. Nature, conscience, and scripture, testify that His delight is in making all beings happy.

2. The ruin of a soul gives no satisfaction to the Divine justice.

3. The design of God in all His dealings with sinners is to save them. All the powers of His infinite love, all the pathos of His infinite compassion, all the influences of His infinite Spirit, are employed to turn the wicked from his evil way, and to save his soul. It is not God's pleasure, brother, that you should die. Your destruction must be your own act. There may be written over the portals of hell, in large letters of fire, the inscription — SELF-DESTROYED.

III. THE STIRRING APPEAL.

1. It is an appeal addressed to man's higher nature. Think — give a reason for such mad conduct. This is God's method of dealing with men's souls: He appeals to their reason. He wants to know the cause of our determination to reject the offers of redeeming love. "Why will ye die?" There is nothing in the Divine purposes, nothing in the sacrifice of God's beloved Son, nothing in the agency of the Holy Spirit, yea, there is nothing in God's remedy for diseased souls, why any sinner should die.

2. It is an appeal which implies the necessity of immediate personal attention.(1) The duty is important: God is most urgent in His appeal. It is a matter of life or death to the soul.(2) The duty is personal — "O house of Israel, why will ye die?" The appeals of the Gospel are pointed, they aim at the heart, they are applied to the individual conscience.(3) The duty requires immediate attention. We have no time to procrastinate.

3. It is an appeal which conveys the strongest motive for obedience. Have you any doubt about the reception of a penitent sinner? Think of the oath of God. Remember the encouraging words of Jesus, "He that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out."

(J. H. Hughes.)

I. THE DECLARATION.

1. The import of the declaration.(1) He tells us, in what He hath not pleasure. "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." And yet the wicked dies. In full view of this awful fact, Jehovah asserts His benevolence. If a stranger, visiting this country, looked in on the homes made wretched by vice, some of which are not very far removed from the palace; or into the cells of our prisons, which are so prominent and so costly as government institutions, throughout our land; or on the sad scene of an execution. at which agents of the crown were present; — would he be justified in coming to the conclusion that our sovereign was not benevolent — that such a state of things under her government was an evidence of our queen's lack of clemency? The mercy that winked at crime would produce more calamitous results than the sternest tyranny. Even goodness demands a restraint on crime, and punishment for the convicted criminal. And let it never be forgotten that the death we are now considering, in relation to the government and character of God, is "the death of the wicked." We must think of his having resisted the will, disowned the authority, dishonoured the name, hated the being, and defied the power of God. Can we think of God as infinite in His being, glory, and goodness, without being constrained to conclude that eternal death is the wages due to all who thus sin against Him? Could we worship a God who, in the full knowledge of what He was, would award a punishment less than this? The one pregnant difficulty is the existence of wickedness. While this fact must be assumed, it points to what must, to us, forever remain an insoluble mystery in its relation to the will of God. But it is due to God, because of His infinite love of righteousness, that His relation to the origin of sin should be regarded without any suspicion; and it is also due to Him, as Supreme Governor, that to His mind alone the perfect rectitude of this relation should appear. If the existence of sin forms a dark background before which the glory of Him who alone is immutable all the more brightly appears, let our thoughts regarding its relation to Jehovah's sovereign will, produce the calmness of adoring silence behind the awe which overwhelms us as we think of its moral hideousness and of its everlasting results. But there is more than this. Such is the character of God, as revealed in the Gospel, that it is impossible for Him to find pleasure in the death of the wicked. The fullest exhibition of His character, and the overwhelming proof of His having no pleasure in the death of the wicked, are given to us in the Cross of Jesus Christ. Whatever be His purpose, it is abundantly evident that "God is love." That is the character of Him to whom you are called to return. You are called to meet that love in the Son as Jesus the Christ, and to present yourself on His blood as a suppliant for all the blessings of the covenant of grace. What more can you desiderate?

2. He tells us in what He hath pleasure — "that the wicked turn from his way and live." The repentance of the wicked is an occasion of delight to God; for it is the first acknowledgment of His being "the true God"; the first tribute to His Godhead from the creature of His hand; the first movement of a lost one from "the wrath to come"; the first rupture between Him and that abominable thing which God hateth; the first act of homage to His Anointed, who is also His Son; the first fruit of the Spirit's work of grace — it is grace returning to the fountain whence it came, and bringing a "wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" sinner back to be "filled" with "all the fulness of God." As our greatest pains and pleasures reach our hearts through their love, the measure of love must indicate the capacity for joy. But who can conceive what must be the gladness resulting from the gratification of infinite love! And there is a three-fold love of God, through the gratification of which He receives pleasure from the penitence and life of the wicked.(1) His infinite love to His people. Oh, think of joy in heaven over one whose sins made the Son of God "a Man of Sorrows"!(2) His infinite love to His Anointed One. Each case of conversion is an instalment of reward to Hint for doing the will, and glorifying the name, of Him who sent Him.(3) His infinite love to Himself, and to righteousness. "God is love." He is so when contemplated in the unity of the eternal Godhead. Oh, infinitely holy sphere! Oh, sphere of infinite loving — the unapproachable sphere of the interrelations and fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! And "God is love" to righteousness in His relation to His moral government. And when He makes manifest that He is love to His people, He does so in such a way as to secure that in their salvation there shall appear to His view, to His infinite delight, all to which He is love, — as to afford an opportunity of expressing what He is as love to Himself, what the mutual love of the Trinity is, and how He loveth righteousness.

3. The declaration is in the form of an oath — As I live, saith the Lord. It is meet that such a declaration should have such a form, for thus only could earnestness, springing from infinite love, express itself fitly in words. Is this Divine earnestness to be met by indifference? Oh, yield not to the unbelief that would dare to prefer a charge of perjury against Him for whom it is impossible to lie!

II. THE CALL. From out of the midst of Divine glory, from off the Divine throne of grace, and intense with Divine earnestness, comes the call to the house of Israel — "Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways."

1. Whence? "From your evil ways." Every way in which you depart from the fellowship and service of God is evil. Burdened and filled with sin, having no righteousness to cover your persons, and no excuse to hide your guilt, and while there is nothing in all your consciousness but sin, all over and all through, — with no ability yours but the fell power to transgress, — you are called to receive all the pardoning mercy and all the saving grace you need.

2. Whither? To Himself God calls you. To Himself as revealed in the declaration going before — to Himself as on His throne of grace — to Himself through Jesus Christ.

3. How? In willingness to accept the terms proposed by God, as terms of salvation and of service. Turning thus, you will verily be debtors to His grace for all you need. And you may be hoping debtors, for He raiseth the poor from the dust, He bringeth the fallen from out of the horrible pit, and He gathereth, as He calleth, outcasts from the very ends of the earth.

(John Kennedy, D. D.)

Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
I. THE STATE OF MANKIND AS SINNERS.

1. A state of moral evil. The plural "ways" is here employed to intimate that the courses pursued by sinners are various in their kinds.(1) There are ways of rebellion, or opposition to God's authority; they are open and avowed (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:19-21); or they are secret and concealed (Mark 7:21-23).(2) There are ways of impenitence, or contempt of God's mercy: in which God is forgotten (Jeremiah 2:32); and not sought (Psalm 10:4; Psalm 107:10, 11).(3) There are ways of self-deception, or vain delusive hope (Proverbs 14:12); such is the way of self-righteousness (Jeremiah 17:5, 6; Isaiah 1:11); and such also is the way of antinomianism (Proverbs 30:12; Matthew 7:21; Hebrews 12:14).

2. A state of imminent danger; — a state in which they are certainly exposed to death, even eternal death (Romans 6:23).

II. THEIR DUTY AND PRIVILEGE AS SINCERE PENITENTS.

1. Their duty is to turn from their evil ways.(1) Turn from your ways of rebellion, by entire reformation (Isaiah 55:7; Ezekiel 18:27).(2) Turn from your ways of impenitence, by earnest prayer (Hosea 14:1, 2; Luke 18:13).(3) Turn from your ways of self-deception, by coming to God, trusting in Christ's mediation (John 14:6); and by seeking a new creation (Galatians 6:15, 16; Psalm 51:10).(4) Turn seasonably; without delay (Isaiah 55:6; Job 22:21).(5) Turn perpetually; without defection (Jeremiah 50:5).(6) Turn believingly; in confident expectation of salvation (Hebrews 10:19-22).

2. Their privilege is, to be saved from death, and enjoy life.(1) All genuine believers in our Lord Jesus Christ are saved from death by being delivered from the dominion of spiritual, and the sentence of eternal death (John 11:25, 26).(2) The life enjoyed by them is comprehensive: including an interest in God's manifested favour (Psalm 30:5; Psalm 63:3); actual devotedness to God's service (Romans 6:13); and the eternal possession of heaven (Romans 2:6, 7).

3. The attainment of this privilege is as certain as it is desirable.

(1)From God's earnest command.

(2)From God's solemn oath.

(3)From God's gracious expostulation.

1. Why will ye die? By continuing in sin you choose death, the worst of all evils; and eternal death, the worst of all deaths. This is murder, self-murder of the blackest description.

2. Why will ye die? By what arguments can you justify your conduct at the bar of your own consciences? Is not God a better master than the devil? Is not holiness better employment than sin? Are not the treasures of grace and heaven better enjoyments than hell and damnation?

3. Why will ye die? Ye men! concerning whom there is still hope of salvation. Ye Britons! the peculiar favourites of heaven; who enjoy the clearest gospel light, the greatest religious liberty, and the highest advantages for piety, in the richest abundance (Psalm 147:20). Ye professing Christians! who are called by the name of Christ, and are encouraged in His word to seek Him (2 Chronicles 7:14); who are baptized in the name of Christ, and bound by the most solemn vows to serve Him alone (Ecclesiastes 5:4).

4. Why will ye die? Remember, if thou die eternally, it must be because ye will die; your death must be the result of your own deliberate choice; for God wills your salvation.

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

The compassion of God for the unconverted shows us how miserable the condition of such an one is. The first trait — the root and origin of all your misery — is sin; you are miserable because you are sinners. "Sin is the transgression of the law." Transgression is not weakness, but it is revolting against order, it is the overthrowing of the law, which is order and rule; it is total irregularity and confusion. Such law, such transgression; such order, such disorder; he who transgresses any law offends against the order of the whole region over which that law extends its empire. He who offends against domestic law, offends against domestic order; he who transgresses the law of a nation, offends against the order of a nation; he who transgresses the law of this world, offends against the order of this world; and he who transgresses the law of the universe, offends against the order of the universe. But more remains. Sin is the transgression of the law of God: but of which law of God? for there are two laws of God: there is His material law, which regulates the visible world, to which the sea, the sun, the heavenly bodies belong; and there is His spiritual law, which governs the invisible world, to which the soul of man belongs. The law which sin transgresses is the second law, the spiritual law, which regulates the invisible world. Man sins, and the harmony of the invisible world is disturbed; but though man sins, the sea observes its limits, and the sun pursues his course, and the celestial bodies remain in their places. It is for this reason that the disorder of sin is less striking to us, carnal as we are and enslaved to visible things; but it is exactly for this reason that it ought to strike, amaze, and alarm us more. For, which is the grander and more glorious of these two worlds, the invisible or the visible world? Behold then the disorder which sin hath produced! And by a necessary consequence, since the seat of this disorder is in the sinner's heart, there is the sinner's misery and wretchedness; there is your wretchedness, your own individual wretchedness; and this is the reason why the God of all compassion is moved, conjures you, and says, "As I live," etc. Sin does not only throw you into disorder, it exposes you also to the chastisement of God; and if you can blind your heart so that it can reconcile itself to disorder, you cannot blind God to exempt you from punishment. Vain would be your hope of persuading yourselves that your sin deserves no punishment because you were born in sin, and that it is only in the first man it should be in justice sought for. Have you never done anything which you knew to be sinful, though you had power to avoid committing it? If this has been the case, have you not felt the reproaches of conscience? Well, then, when you have done what you knew to be wrong and what you had the power of not doing, you have committed on your part what Adam did on his, and you have spiritually shared in the fall of all your race; and when your conscience has reproved you for it, you have testified against yourself that you have deserved a punishment. And what is the punishment that God reserves for sin? (Galatians 3:10) A curse! — this single word has something in it which makes us tremble. Yet the malediction of any man might be unjust. If I have the approval of God and of my own heart, I could take refuge in the sanctuary of my conscience, out of the reach of man, and lift up my eyes in peace to heaven and say unto the Lord: "Let them curse, but bless Thou." And even if the malediction of man were merited, it is powerless of itself. But if God, all just, all good, almighty, should curse me, what would this malediction be, but all the Divine perfections arrayed against me; the justice of God overtaking me, His power overwhelming me, and, what is more terrible, His goodness aggravating the horror of His judgments, and of my remorse, and constituting my severest torture? Ye unconverted ones, be not emboldened by the consideration that you do not feel anything commensurate with such dreadful denunciations, and do not reason in this manner within yourselves: "No, I do not feel myself accursed of God." Whether you feel yourselves accursed or not, you are so, for God says it. If you feel it not, know that this insensibility is the sign of a hardened heart and the first-fruits of this very malediction. If you do not feel it now, know that you will one day feel it, when the visible things through which you are now able to disguise your condition from yourselves shall have perished. This malediction, under which you are resting, is eternal; insomuch that if you were to appear at the tribunal of Jesus Christ without having been converted, you would be condemned to endless punishment (Matthew 25:41-46). I shall assume that you are sincerely desirous of conversion, and that you are determined to do, as far as in you lies, all that you can and ought to do on your part towards it. It is beyond doubt that your conversion cannot be effected by your own will; that it can only be by the will of God; that it can only be a work of God, a gift of God, a grace of God; and that a converted soul has cause to acknowledge with humility that its entire change proceeds from God, and from the very first commencement. But it would be decidedly wrong for you to conclude, that, because your conversion is the work of God and not your own, its success is less certain; on the contrary, it is more so. If your conversion be the work of God, the success depends upon the power and the perseverance, the faithfulness and the wisdom of God; and have you not everything to gain by placing your trust in such firm and sure hands, — provided only you have the assurance that God favours your conversion? But I have something to ask you: hear me with singleness of heart. Do not ask me to explain to you how it is equally true from God's Word that no one attains conversion without the grace and election of God, and yet that you are answerable to God if you do not "turn" to Him, He having done for each of you all that is necessary for your conversion. Both these truths are equally attested by Scripture: this sufficiently authorises me to preach both one and the other, and this ought to be enough also to lead you to receive both. Let us apply to the things which concern our salvation that spirit of simplicity and good sense that we exercise in the ordinary affairs of life. Suppose your house on fire: the flames extend, they spread and reach the apartment in which you are; a beam over your head takes fire, is rapidly consuming and momentarily threatens to fall upon you...a way of escape is presented to you; — will you say, in such a case, I cannot escape from the flames unless it is ordained by God that I should; otherwise I shall perish, do what I may; I can do nothing to save myself, therefore, I will remain where I am? No, but you will see in the way opened to you a sign that God willeth your deliverance, and you will hasten to escape, without perplexing yourself to inquire whether you are destined to escape from the fire or not,. Exercise the same prudence in whatever relates to the salvation of your soul. Flee only, and you will be one of the elect. Whatever may happen, nothing on the part of God raises an obstacle to your conversion; on the contrary, everything invites, favours, and ensures its success; God willeth your conversion. What has He refused you that is necessary for your conversion? Birth, baptism, instruction, communion, preaching, Scripture, example, — what is wanting? Look around on all sides, what do you see, what do you hear but the invitations of God, but His graces, His promises, His menaces, which warn, which summon you, I had almost said, which compel you to turn? Have you ever considered, in what manner the preaching of the Gospel has reached you? Perhaps you think that it has been brought hither as to all other places where it is now known. But no; it has been borne hither by a series of special, astonishing, and miraculous dispensations, and in which a fixed design clearly appears to cause the Gospel to reach you in this country, notwithstanding all obstacles. There is not perhaps any spot on the globe which the Spirit of darkness — under all the successive forms which he has devised and assumed — has contested so pertinaciously and fiercely with the Spirit of truth, as the land that we tread, this revered land — this land covered with the most vivid and glorious reminiscences of Church history; and truth banished for a time has invariably retaken hold of this country, where it has ultimately established itself without violence before your eyes and for your benefit. I now go farther, and feel emboldened to assure you that there is nothing on God's part to prevent you from turning to Him, nothing on His part to cause the delay of your conversion; nothing, absolutely nothing, to hinder your conversion this very day. If the work of conversion were your own, not only would it be impossible this day, but it could never take place; yet because it is the work of God it is as practicable this day as on any other. And God's desire is not that you should postpone it: even this day He invites you to turn to Him. "Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." But an invitation to turn tomorrow, you will nowhere find in the Word of God: when conversion is the subject, Scripture does not know the word tomorrow, except to protest against all delay. Scripture presents many instances of persons turning as soon as they are called. Lydia hears Paul, and the Lord opens her heart. The jailor of Philippi hears the Gospel, and is converted the same night. The nobleman of Capernaum sees his servant healed by Jesus Christ, and believes with all his house. Zaccheus seeks Jesus, finds Him, receives Him, and performs works of faith — all in one day. The thief humbles himself, is converted, and receives the promise of life whilst he is on the cross. "All things are now ready" for the conversion of souls. On the King's pare all is ready: "the oxen and fatlings are killed," the dinner is prepared, the tables are covered, the places are arranged, the doors are open, the servants are sent, the guests are invited, they have only to enter and sit. down at the feast. All is ready since the world began, for anyone who is now desirous, has desired, or will desire to be converted. But if God desire your conversion, and desire it this day; if on His side all is encouragement, invitation, will, disposition; and if He does all that can be done, all that can be imagined — except compelling you — in order that you should turn; from whom then arise the obstacles which impede your conversion, or the delays which retard it? From whom, if not from yourselves? from yourselves, who wilt not enter when God opens His door to you, who will not open to Him when He knocks at yours, who, in short, will not turn to Him? What prevents you from taking up your Bible and reading it with attention, perseverance, prayer? from praying to God for His grace and His Spirit, for faith, and a new heart? from confessing your sins to the Lord, and beseeching Him to blot them out with His blood? from doing what God enjoins in His Word, and ceasing to do what He forbids? from seeking the encouragement and advice of experienced Christians who are within your reach? what, in fine, prevents you from hearing God who speaks to you, from following God who calls you, from opening to God who knocks, and from doing, in a word, all that is necessary to your conversion?

(A. Monod.)

God is here; revealing the secret thoughts of many hearts on the subject of sin, and the hopelessness of deliverance from its dominion. and the impossibility of coming to life or salvation, if that salvation is to consist in separation from sin in the inner and outer man. Salvation, or eternal life, by redemption from sin, and reconciliation with God in repentance, and its fruit, or fulfilment, regeneration, this is to be the message of every minister of the Gospel, which is not only to be proclaimed so plainly and loudly that it cannot be mistaken, but to be pressed on the conscience of his people with the intense earnestness of affection, and fervent longing for their soul's salvation, which will breathe the very spirit of the Divine love, to which the minister but gives expression.

1. A false persuasion possesses the minds of innumerable members of the Christian Church as thoroughly as it pervaded the Jewish on the subject of sin, salvation, and the righteousness, as well as grace, of God's providence, or judgment, in His dealings with sinners. Do Christians in general, any more than Jews in Ezekiel's day, connect consciously in their own minds, as things inseparable, sin not repented of and death eternal, or damnation, sin repented of and life eternal, or salvation? Is the way of the Lord in their eyes equal, by a revelation which has commended itself to their consciences of a way of righteousness that is invariable in the case of every sinner, the saved and the lost equally, and as unchangeable as the life of the eternal God Himself, being one of the laws of the kingdom of heaven, indeed; the fundamental law on which the kingdom eternally rests? Is life, in their faith, separation inwardly and outwardly from sin? Is salvation, in their view, salvation from sin, and reconciliation with God, or return to God on the sinner's part by repentance unto life, and regeneration to newness of spiritual life? Do they see that such is the salvation of the Gospel?

2. What, then, is to prepare the way of the Lord in the Christian, as formerly in the Jewish church? What but the proclamation of the antidote to the former life in the message of the prophet which forms the second lesson of the text? What but repentance unto life revealed to be the Gospel way of salvation, the way of salvation open to every sinner equally without respect of persons, and the only way of salvation to any sinner, because the only possible way by which a sinner can become a saint?(1) God, as He is now revealed in Christ, wishes the salvation of every sinner, and has no pleasure in the death of any. This is not only a matter of certainty, an unquestionable truth to which the Gospel bears testimony in innumerable passages. It is the fundamental truth on which the whole Gospel of salvation rests, because it is the thing revealed in the revelation of God as a Redeemer, who has no respect of persons, — a Saviour of sinners, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, a Father of every prodigal son.(2) God, as He is now in Christ revealing this His purpose of love universal, has proclaimed the way of salvation in the case of every sinner alike to be repentance unto life. Enter in by repentance, for in repenting thou art turning thy back on hell, and all that is infernal and of the wicked one; thou art taking part with thy true Lord and Redeemer against those very enemies and powers of darkness from which He came to set thee free; thou art allowing, and inviting, and beseeching Him to turn thee "from darkness to light," etc.(3) God in the Gospel of Christ has now commanded His ministers to preach repentance unto life as the way of salvation to all sinners, and to press it earnestly and incessantly on the consciences of all, with all affection, as the only way of escaping death or damnation.(i) It is a man's own fault — God is not to bear the blame — if the man, although a sinner, does not come to life and salvation.(ii) This is the purpose of a Gospel ministry, to bring you to repentance, and so to salvation; to baptize you with the baptism of repentance, through faith in Jesus Christ for you crucified, and so bestow on you remission of sins, and all the other spiritual blessings of the kingdom of heaven.(iii) Whatever be the actual result to you personally, "the way of the Lord is equal," and impartial. God is gracious, and to you gracious, whether you believe so or disbelieve. God is righteous, and will deal with you righteously in His providence, and judge you in righteousness according to your way and works, whether you come to repentance, and so forsake sin, or refuse to come to repentance, and so remain ungodly, unrighteous, unregenerate.

(R. Paisley.)

Why will ye die, O House of Israel?
I. A HORRIBLE RESOLUTION. A resolution to die — a determination to be damned. "Stay, sir," says one, "that is far too strong an assertion; who ever heard anyone say that he intended to go to hell?" I never said anyone had been heard to say so, all I say is, they determine to.

1. A man may De said to have resolved to die when he uses the means of death. There is a black mixture, sweet to the natural taste of man, but labelled by God "slow poison," called sin. The result of taking it is declared, in language that cannot be mistaken, to be certain death. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." "The wages of sin is death." "Sin when it is finished bringeth forth death." These are a few of the red labels of caution that God has put upon sin.

2. A man may be said to have determined to die, who spurns all that could save him from death. It is possible to ensure death by simply refusing to accept anything that could rescue from it. The poison is in your blood, working death, and in rejecting Christ you have given as awful a proof of determination to die, as ever you could have given by the vilest of lives.

3. A man may be said to have determined to die who surmounts all obstacles placed in his way in order to prevent him. God only knows how many obstacles you have overcome in your race to ruin. In early days a mother stopped your path, but you soon evaded her, and broke her heart. A Sunday school teacher did his best. to arrest you, but he proved no great obstacle; you soon left his class when you found he was satisfied with nothing less than the salvation of your soul. Hundreds of sermons have been flung across your path, but you have somehow got over them all.

II. A PLAINTIVE QUESTION. "Why will ye die?"

1. Is hell so pleasant a place you want to enter there?

2. Is it because heaven has no charms?

3. Is eternity in your estimation a trifle? I could better understand your indifference to salvation — or, as we are describing it tonight, your preference for perdition — if the future state was in either case of only limited duration. But to risk the loss of a soul, when forever and forever is part of the contract, is almost sufficient to stagger belief, were there not so many sad witnesses to the fact.

4. Do you consider a soul worthless? You value your health, you value your home, you value your friends, but you set no value on your soul. Is it so? Surely that which will outlive all the other possessions of a man must be of some worth. Remember also that if you count it of but little value, it has been differently estimated by One who ought to know, considering that He made it. Christ considers that the worth of one soul outweighs the accumulated wealth of a universe.

III. A GLORIOUS TRUTH, FULL OF HOPE FOR SINNERS. If this text proclaims anything, it declares with trumpet tongue that hell is not unavoidable. It steps in the path of the sinner, throws a barrier before him, and argues with him to wean him from his fatal resolve.

1. God does not desire the sinner's ruin.

2. Hell was never prepared for man at all, but for the devil and his angels, and it is only if man prefers Satan to God on earth, that he must reap the consequences of his choice in eternity by dwelling forever in the home of the one he has preferred.

3. Although God hates sin, He loves the sinner, with a love unutterable.

(A. G. Brown.)

Christian teachers are always talking to men about conversion, change of heart, and consequent change of habit. The Christian teacher seems to be intent upon pressing upon the attention of men a certain scheme of thought. He will not speak to us so much about practical life, conduct, habit, manners, and the like; he persistently addresses himself to the exposition and enforcement of certain abstract or metaphysical arguments. The idea is that if you can really alter a man's thought, you at the same time alter the man's fife. The Christian teacher, therefore, if really sent from God, begins with the heart, he does not come to wash the hands, but to cleanse the soul; knowing that when the heart is really clean, thoroughly purified, the hands cannot be foul. He would make the fountain good that he may purify the stream; he would make the tree good that the fruit which it brings forth may also be good. The motive determines the quality. If a man be building from the outside and only on the outside, then be sure he is not a durable builder. Hence the slowness, or the apparent slowness, of the Christian movement. You can write a programme in a few moments; you can, by using proper instrumentalities, organise a demonstration for fourteen or ten days, and it shall be quite impressive and portentous to some minds and eyes; but it means nothing unless there be behind it a conviction, a spiritual reality, a noble motive, then it must win. When your minds are full of right thoughts we need take no further care of you. You are under the government of God; but whilst you have cast out the evil thoughts and have not received the good thoughts you are yourselves a temptation and an opportunity to the devil. First of all, then, we lay down this proposition, that a man must be born again; not merely restored, reformed, redressed, rehabilitated, but born, born again; starting life as a babe, with a babe's heart, and a babe's eye of wonder, and a babe's trustfulness. Who is Christ? Have you begun at the right name? My Lord hath a thousand appellations, yea by ten thousand names is He known to all the adoring angels, but to me He is known first and midst and last by the sweet name — Saviour. What man wants in the first instance is the distinct consciousness that he needs a Saviour. Until he gets that consciousness he can make no progress. Only broken heartedness can pray; only helplessness can cry mightily to heaven; only agony has e he key of the Cross. When a man does not thirst he does not inquire for the stream, but when his throat is burning with thirst his lips are full of heat because of want of water; he tries to say, though chokingly, Where is the well, where is the stream? Then a child might load him; but so long as that necessity is not biting him, burning him, scorching him, he holds his head aloft, he will not be talked to, he will not have any dogmatic teaching; let him alone. The time will come when he will ask the least child that can talk to tell him where the living stream doth flow. The Christian idea is that there is only one Saviour. But He is a thousand Saviours in one. He has all man needs, and man needs all He has. It is a very complex problem, though simple in some of its aspects. Man never knows how great a being he is until he knows Christ. Christ makes the man himself so much larger. He addresses Himself to the very mystery of our manhood. He does not ignore our will. He knows that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, He knows that He is dealing with the handiwork of God, for a moment spoiled by the devil; therefore He saith, What wilt thou, poor blind man? what wilt thou, lonesome leper? Therefore saith He, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" and when He reproaches us He says, "Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life"; and in that last, grandest, sublimest plaint He says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! killer, stoner of prophets and missionaries, how often would I have gathered thee together as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not": and these words He could hardly speak, for He was choking with emotion, and the tears were running from His eyes. Christianity is a pleading religion, it is a missionary religion; it goes out after that which is lost, and will not come until it hath found it. The Gospel has only one time — now! The Gospel has no tomorrow; "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." All earnestness has only one time. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, with a will, with a tremendous concentrated energy, for in the grave there is no device. Christianity has only one way — believe! How this word has been maltreated! To believe is to give the soul over to the keeping of the way of God. Belief is not assenting to something, saying, That is true: I see no reason against it: in the meantime your proposition seems to be wholly impregnable, your position is invincible: on the whole I accede and consent. That is not faith; that is a mere intellectual action. To believe is to nestle the soul in God. Christianity has only one purpose — holiness. Christianity ends in conduct. Christianity begins in motive, but it ends in character, in manhood. We are to be perfect men in Christ Jesus, we are to be as He was in the earth; we are to breathe His Spirit, repeat His deeds, follow His footsteps, and represent Him to mankind. Christianity has only one test — service. To die for Christ, to work for Christ, to be always repeating Christ's great mission to the world. Lord, what wilt Thou have me do? Watch a door, light a lamp, or preach Thy Word? Not my will, but Thine be done; only dismiss me not Thy service, Lord!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

1. Men break the law of God, knowing that the penalty of breaking this law is their everlasting ruin. If a man should pass through the streets, plunging a dagger into the heart of everyone he met with, if we had evidence that he had his reason, we should say that he meant to tempt the law to do its best for his destruction.

2. The same truth is manifest from the fact that sinners reject Jesus Christ, the only medium of their pardon and their salvation. If one had broken the law of man, and should refuse to receive pardon from the hands of his chief magistrate, although he should go daily to his prison, and offer that pardon, and solicit his acceptance, we should say that he intends to die. If the conditions were that he should receive that pardon at the hands of the chief magistrate, with due acknowledgments, and without any necessary degradation, we should say that he not only intends, but deserves to die.

3. From other facts, it is evident, that sinners are determined to die, inasmuch as they reject the influence of the Holy Ghost, the only power that can make them clean, and take their feet out of the horrible pit and miry clay, and set them upon a rock. If one had fallen into a deep cavern, and there was but one ear that could hear, and but one arm that could save, and he should refuse to be aided by that arm, we should say that he certainly means his own destruction.

4. The same truth is evident from the fact that men are going on to form a character for perdition, when they know that a totally different character is requisite to fit them for heaven.(1) Will it prove you brave to dare the Eternal to His face? — to rush upon the thick bosses of Jehovah's buckler, and browbeat the sacred and terrible anathemas of the whole law and the whole Gospel? Would a man rush into the mouth of a cannon or leap into the crater of Vesuvius, to show himself brave? Would he not thus evince himself a natural fool?(2) Will it prove you wise to place so small a value upon the soul, and expose it to endless ruin? Would it not place you too by the side of him who sold all the honours of his birthright for a mess of pottage?(3) Let me inquire whether it will prove you good? O, can a good being place so little value upon the glory of the Eternal, and put so low a value upon the blood of Christ!

(D. A. Clark.)

1. One will die because his heart is engrossed with worldly cares.

2. Another, because he is ashamed to have it known that he is anxious.

3. Another, because he is unwilling to give up some sinful companion.

4. Another, because he is unwilling to leave his profession.

5. Another, because he is unwilling to pray in his family.

6. Another, because he is unwilling to confess Christ before men.

7. Another will lose his soul by talking about others.

8. Pride of consistency will keep some out of heaven. They fear that if they commence a religious life they will not hold out, and so will not begin.

9. Some will lose their souls by spending their time in cavilling at Divine truth.

10. Others will perish in consequence of cherishing some secret sin, known only to God and their own consciences.

(A. Nettleton, D. D.)

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