« ZurückWeiter »
or form such excuses for them as may impose upon men ; and you value yourselves on the dexterity with which you do it: But Be not deceived, God cannot thus be mocked*: For all these things, and a thousand times more than you can remember ; actions and words, and thoughts of vanity, which passed with you unobserved in the crowd, or, if at all observed, were forgotten in a moment; for all these, will he Reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyest, i. e. He will marshall them in dreadful array, as a host of enemies armed for thy destruction. Have you never seen a criminal at the bar, how he is confounded, when the force of evidence bears him down, and the sagacity of a judge detects the idle, foolish pleas, with which he flattered himself before his trial, and imagined he should easily come off with impunity? Then did you see an emblem of yourselves, and your own state; thus will you, if you go on in your sins, be entangled and silenced, and shamed and condemned: All your crimes will be produced, in all their circumstances of aggravation : Nor will God forget this present admonition and expostulation, though you may forget it, or though you should remember it only in scorn, and wonder what occasion there is for all this earnestness and importunity. You may, if you please, make a jest of divine judgment; but you will find it dreadfully serious. Nothing so easy, as to despise it ; but, Oh sinner, nothing so hard, as to endure it: For I add,
It will be a final doom, and your eternal state will be fixed by it. It is no light crime of which you will then be convicted, no less than wilful, obstinate, incorrigible rebellion against the Majesty of heaven, against the God of your lives, and the Father of all your mercies : And it will be no light punishment to which you will be consigned, for following the way of your heart and the sight of your eyes, in opposition to all the authority of his law, and all the methods of his recovering grace.
Read over the sentence, as recorded from the lips of hiin by whom it is to be pronounced. There is but one for those on the left hand, and hearken to it: Depart from me, ye cursed :Sinner, thou must be separated from God. But that perhaps you can bear: It is but calling him by some bold name; it is but dressing him up in your imagination under some false odious character, and you may perhaps think it is best to be at a distance from him. Wretched creature! But thou must depart, as accursed, Into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil
* Gal. vi. 7.
+ Psal. l. 21.
and his angels *. And canst thou reconcile thy mind to that? To dwell for ever in darkness and horror, in such a scene, and with such associates! To have nothing to entertain the eye, nothing to cheer the heart, nothing to divert painful reflection, nothing to allay the most cutting remorse! To see every pleasurable object, for which you forgot God, and sold yourselves to destruction, removed to an eternal distance ; to feel all the irregular passion of your own hearts let loose at once, like so many hungry vultures to prey insatiably upon them ; and hope, the last of supports under the last of evils, shut out for ever!—Oh Sirs, this is the result of the judgment of God. Lo, this is the portion of the wicked, and this the heritage appointed to him by God †. It is a grief to a tender heart to think of it, to hear the very report.
Oh what will it be to you to meet it and feel it, in all its force and all its terror! Can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong, in the day, that God shall deal with you I.
Alas, my heart is pained for you, and my bowels yearn over you! Methinks I see all the haughtiness of your spirits broken, see you pale and trembling on the very brink of that pit, from whence there is no redemption, and into which the flaming sword of divine justice is driving you. And can nothing be done to save you? Alas, what should be done? Can any rescue you from the hand of Omnipotence? Can any intercede for you with that then inexorable Judge? It cannot be. But he is not yet inexorable. He has not yet laid aside the character of a Saviour, of a compassionate Friend to perishing creatures. And I present these things to persuade you, if possible, In this your day, to know the things that belong to your peace, before they be for ever hid from your eyes §. May divine grace effectually do it; and teach you so to Judge yourselves, that you may not then be condemned of the Lord||! And now,
III. It only remains, that I conclude the discourse with some plain inferences from it. And here, 1. The young sinner has surely a great deal of reason to be
thankful, that he hath not already been brought into judgment.
You have indeed the greatest cause to say, It is of the Lord's mercy, that you are not consumed. Your Breath is
* Mat. xxv. 41.
+ Job xx. 29.
#Ezek. xxii. 14.
Lam. iü. 22
in your nostrils*; and perhaps you can recollect times and circumstances, in which it seemed just ready to take its flight, when you appeared to be in the extremest danger, so that there was But a step between you and deatht. And what if that little interval had been passed! Where had you then been ! How low had you then fallen! Why, it is most certain, as to
you been thus cut off, the torrent had swept you away into eternal ruin. Even now, while we are worshipping God in his house, rejoicing in mercy and in hope, your miserable spirits had been in the regions of the damned, feeling more than mortal language can express, and fearing yet more, much more than you felt ; being, like the apostate angels, Reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great days. Adore the divine patience and forbearance, that your case is so different; for most happily different it is. I have the pleasure to testify to you this day, in the midst of all these terrible things which faithfulness to your souls extorts from me, that The Lord waiteth, that he may be gracious, and does, as it were, raise himself up that he may have mercy upon youş: He rises from his throne to stretch out the golden sceptre to you, to open his compassionate arms to embrace you, if you approach him as humble penitents. Jesus the Judge will become your friend ; he will receive you, he will shelter you and bless you ; if with believing hearts you seek his mercy, after having so long dared his vengeance. This day do I testify, that he is readyto bestow upon you far more valuable pleasures than those which he calls you to resign, and to give you much greater satisfaction in contradicting the corruptions of your heart, and controling the impulse of your senses, than you ever have found, or could possibly find, in gratifying them. May you be persuaded to the wise and happy exchange! Then will the patience of God be salvation to you, when his goodness leads you to repentance. 2. The young christian bath apparent reason to be thankful for
that grace, which hath sanctified his heart, and turned away his eyes from beholding vanity.
My brethren in the Lord: permit me to remind you that You were sometimes foolish and disobedient, serving divers lusts and pleasuresi : But there is now room for us to congratulate you, and say, Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your
Jude, ver. 6.
* Isa. ii. 22.
+ 1 Sam. xx, 3.
ears, for they hear*. You now know your true interest; the fear of the Lord is implanted in your heart, and your eyes are directed heaven-wards. You are experimentally acquainted with the pleasure which religion brings, and see that you have exchanged your tinsel for gold; your shadows for the most valuable substance; the momentary blaze and crackling of thornst, for the steady light, and influence, and glory of the sun, which is Shining more and more till the perfect dayI.
Let me invite you to the most cheerful acknowledgments of the riches of divine grace to you. Bless God for the new nature he hath given you, for that heart of fleshs into which the rock is transformed by a new creating power; for those new hopes which he hath opened upon you. Bless him, that you are now sheltered from the storms of divine wrath, and that, instead of looking forward to the judgment day, with the horrors of a malefactor, who is then to be condemned and executed, you are rather lifting up your heads to meet the prospect with triumph, as knowing that your complete salvation will then be manifested, and your redemption be perfected ||. 3. We may farther infer, from what we have now been hearing,
that the gospel of the blessed Jesus gives us very great advantages for reclaiming young persons from the snares of sensuality and ruin.
The text abundantly intimates the importance of those considerations, which are taken from the final judgment. Now it is certain, the gospel discovers this in the strongest light. Therein is The wrath of God revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and some more awful views of judgment are given, than even the language of the prophets, emphatical as it is, can furnish out. In the gospel, we are not only told in general, that God will judge the world in righteousness, but particularly assured, that he will do it, by that man whom he hath appointed**, even The Lord Jesus Christ, who for that purpose
shall descend from heaven in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and all the holy angels with him tt; that The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised If ; that small and great shall stand before God $$; while in the mean timethe world is in flames around them, The sun being darkened, and the moon not giving her light|||, the stars falling 41, The hea
* Mat. xiii. 16.
+ Eccles. vii. 6.
Prov. iv. 18.
Rom. i. 18. xxv. 31. 1 1 Cor. xv. 52.
49 Mat, xxiv, 29.
vens passing away with a great noise, the elements melting with fervent heat, the earth with all things in it being burnt up*, and departing out of its placet. And can any thing be more awakening and awful than all this pomp of horror, this confla
gration and confusion of nature ? Yes, Sirs, there is one thing yet | more awakening; and it is that which the gospel cxpressly pronounces, that, in consequence of all, The wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternalf. Eternity, eternity, my brethren, is the declaration of the gospel. Nature might lead us to suspect it, the law might give some intimation of it, but the gospel alone asserts it; and not only asserts it, but describes it too. It lends to our faith that perspective by which we descry the paradise of God, and it lays hell open before us, so that destruction hath no covering$. The christian preacher may then say it, with an energy beyond what Solomon could conceive, merely on the principles of the Jewish revelation, Rejoice, Oh young man, in thy youth, &c. but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
Nor must I by any means omit that grand advantage which the gospel gives us in these addresses, the discovery of the blessed Jesus under the character of a Saviour. It displays him as the Chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely; as inviting, as waiting, as pleading, as weeping over sinners, yea, as bleeding and dying for them; as describing the terrors of judgment, that he may awaken them to flee from it, and may gather them, As a hen gathers her chickens under her compassionate protecting wingsl. But is this a simile that we may use, when speaking of him who is to appear under the character of the worthy judge eternal?" Yes, my friends, low as it may seem, it is a simile that he himself uses, and perhaps uses it in part because it is so low, that the language itself may be a specimen of that condescension which it is intended to express.
Such is that wonderful contrast of what is most awful, and most engaging, in the gospel; and this gospel, Sirs, do you daily hear. To you is the word
of this salvation sent ; to you is the whole counsel of God declared. May you never be left to Reject it against yourselves**, may divine grace render it A Saviour of life unto life+t! Once more ;
• 2 Pet. jii. 10.
+ Rev. xx.11.
Mat. xxv. 46. ** Luke vii, 30.
§ Job xxvi. 6. 77 ? Cor. ii. 16.