June 16, 2017

Asahel Nettleton (1783–1844) on Romans 2:4

His goodness is manifest throughout all creation . . . . some of the richest temporal mercies are often overlooked and perhaps entirely forgotten, merely from the fact that they are so common . . . . All these mercies to us are but common blessings.
Asahel Nettleton, “Sermon 20: Despisest Thou the Riches of God’s Goodness? (Romans 2:4),” in Asahel Nettleton: Sermons from the Second Great Awakening (Ames, IA: International Outreach, 1995), 150–151. Nettleton also calls these common blessings “distinguished favors” (Ibid., 151). This sermon does not appear in the 1845 edition edited by Bennet Tyler.
In the gift of his Son to our lost and ruined world he has manifested the riches of his goodness named in our text. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God was under no obligation to send his Son to die for rebels against himself. Why then should he come to this earth with a message of peace and good will to man? Why not take on him the nature of angels and extend pardoning mercy to them? It is owing to the riches of divine goodness, my hearers, that the cross of Christ was erected in our world and not in the world of despair. But every mercy is heightened from the fact that we are sinners. God commendeth his love to us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

“He saw the nations dead in sin,
He felt his pity move.
How sad the state the world was in,
How boundless was his love.”
Ibid., 152.
The riches of divine goodness appear not only in the sufferings and death of the Son of God, but in the melting invitations of mercy to sinners.—Ho every one that thirsteth. In the parable of the great supper the invitation is to all. Come for all things are now ready. The riches of divine goodness (are offered to) the poorest and vilest of sinners. To us, my hearers, is the word of this salvation sent. Yes, pardon, peace, and all the treasures of heaven are brought even to our doors and offered to us for nothing. Not only are they freely offered, but even pressed upon our acceptance by every endearing consideration.
One would think, that after sinners had rejected the free offers of salvation, God would make no further exertions to save them from deserved wrath. But to all this, he has superadded the strivings of the Holy Spirit. This is God’s last effort to save sinners . . . . So many years has the Savior been standing with open arms and with a bleeding heart inviting him to life. So many duties have been neglected, and so many sins committed in the sight of the sin-hating God and yet the sinner has been spared . . . . He has opened the windows of heaven and shed around us the light of the glorious gospel to lead us to repentance.
Ibid., 153.
All who neglect the gospel do emphatically despise the riches of divine goodness. Every day they trample under foot the Son of God. Sinners despise the forbearance and longsuffering of God, every moment they are unconcerned for their souls . . . . Think what Christ has done for your salvation and what returns you have made? Will you this day render him the homage of your hearts? Or will you continue still longer to despise all the offers of a bleeding Savior? Will you say, What is the Almighty, that I should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?
Ibid., 156.


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