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selfishness, they hate and oppose holy and benevolent exercises. When they love God, they hate and oppose the love of the world ; but when they love the world, the love of God is not in them : or as our Savior says, while they serve God, they hate to serve mammon; and while they serve mammon, they hate to serve God. The breast of every christian is a field of battle, where sometimes benevolence, and sometimes selfishness gains the victory; but there is no solid peace till benevolence repels and excludes selfishness.
7. In the view of this subject, christians may see their great moral imperfection. Though they sometimes love God supremely, and serve him with a perfect heart and the whole heart, though sometimes their holy affections run on cheerfully and uninterruptedly; and though for a while they find a pleasure in doing the will of God; yet they often experience as long a series of unholy, as holy affections, and find more pleasure in serving themselves, than in serving God. Their hearts are bent to backsliding. They rarely find their hearts perfectly united in their best duties. They often wait upon the Lord with much distraction and confusion of thought. Were the whole train of their affections presented to their own view, as they appear to the omniscient eye of God, they would be shocked and confounded. Were the whole series of their thoughts and internal exercises printed in a book, or engraven on a rock, as Job desired some of his thoughts and exercises might be, how inconsistent, absurd and criminal would they appear? Or were their meditations and devotions in their most retired and solemn intervals, registered in their own minds, as they
are registered in the book of God's remembrance, how painful would their reflections be on such occasions ? Would they not read in some such language as this? “O Lord, thy ways are equal, but my ways are unequal. O Lord, my ways are equal, but thy ways are unequal. O Lord, thou art good ; O Lord, thou art an hard master. O Lord, I am unworthy of the least of thy mercies ; O Lord, I do well to complain of thee, in taking away my mercies. O Lord, thy will be done ; O Lord, let my will be done.
0 Lord, let me be thy servant ; O Lord, be thou my servant. O Lord, forgive my enemies. O Lord, forgive them not. O Lord, make me to serve my generation according to thy will. O Lord, make my generation serve me contrary to thy will.” Now, whether any good man be able, or not, to recollect the whole train of his past exercises, in both his secular and religious concerns ; yet God always sees and observes every thought and imagination of his heart, and views its mixture of holy and unholy affections. then, and how displeasing to God, is the moral imperfections of the best of saints ? And how much reason have they to humble themselves before him, and walk softly in his sight? And with what watchfulness and constancy should every christian offer unto God the prayer of the devout psalmist ; “Unite my heart to fear thy name.”
How great SERMON XX,
THE ORUCIFIED MALEFACTORS.
LUKE, XXII. 39---43.- And one of the malefactors, which were hanged, railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
But the other answering, rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation ? And we, indeed, justly; for we receive the due rea ward of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Though all the four evangelists agree in relating some circumstances attending Christ's crucifixion, yet they all differ, one from another, in omitting some circumstances attending it. They all mention, that Christ was crucified with two persons. John says, “they crucified him, and two others with him, one on either side, and Jesus in the midst.” Matthew says, “ Then were two thieves crucified with him ; one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” Mark says, " And with him they crucified two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.” Luke barely calls them malefactors. Matthew and Mark say, that both the malefactors joined with others in reviling him on the cross. Luke mentions only one of them, as railing on him; and John mentions nothing
that they said. These different accounts of the circumstances of Christ's crucifixion do not contradict one another; and therefore, instead of weakening, serve to confirm the testimony of each evangelist. One only relates what another omitted, which proves
that they did not combine together to frame a cunningly devised fable, but that they all wrote as they were mov. ed by the Holy Ghost. There is, therefore, no just ground to discredit what Luke says in the text, concerning the discourse and conduct of the two malefactors, though no other evangelist gives the same account. Though Matthew and Mark say, that both the malefactors reviled Christ, yet what Luke says may be equally true, that one of them reproved the other for railing on him ; for both of them might have felt and acted alike for a while, and yet afterwards have widely differed in their views and feelings. Accordingly, I propose to consider, I. Wherein these two malefactors were alike; II. When they began to differ; And, III. Wherein they finally differed.
I. Let us consider wherein these two malefactors were alike. And, ,
1. They were alike in respect to depravity of heart. They were the descendants of Adam ; and like the rest of his posterity, came into the world in a state of moral depravity. They were totally destitute of true love to God and under the entire dominion of a depraved heart. Every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was evil, only evil continually. They possessed a carnal mind, which was enmity to God, not subject to his law, neither could be. Their hearts were full of selfish and sinful affections, which
totally excluded every spark of holy love, or true benevolence. They were dead in trespasses and sins and altogether destitute of spiritual life. They were both born, grew up, and lived in this sinful and guilty state, till after they became malefactors. This we may justly conclude from their becoming such abandoned characters. We have no intimation, that one was any better than the other, in respect to the total depravity of their hearts.
2. They were alike in respect to their knowledge of Christ. As there is nothing said concerning their being strangers, foreigners, or pagans, we must suppose, they were the children of Jewish parents, born and brought up in Jerusalem; where they were circumcised the eighth day, and taught to attend all the private and public duties of religion, according to all the laws of Moses. And as Christ often went up to Jerusalem to attend divine ordinances, it is very possible, if not probable, that these two malefactors, as well as thousands of other stupid and profligate sinners, might have had opportunities of hearing Christ preach, or of seeing him work miracles. But there is no probability, that one of them knew any more about Christ, than the other, before they were led with him to Calvary, and extended on the cross. I know, that some have supposed, the penitent malefactor had known more about Christ; and conducted better in general, than the other malefactor ; which was the reason that he repented, while the other remained obstinate. This however, is a mere conjecture, which has no foundation in scripture. Both of them might have been, for aught we know to the contrary, totally ignorant of Christ, until the day of their crucifixion.