« PreviousContinue »
in judgment against you : they will be found to have been blotted out, and washed off, and cancelled, by the atoning blood of your once crucified, but now exalted Redeemer. -But as to those who live and die in a state of impenitence, their sins will then find them out. Every covering that selfdeceit, or levity, or the customs and manners of the ungodly with whom they associated, had thrown over them, will be torn off ; and sentiments, and words, and actions, which had long passed away and been forgotten, shall be brought to their recollection, and astonish and overpower the mind with its own history. The manner in which they spent the day, the day of their merciful visitation—the manner in which their youth, the morning of that day, passed away, without once thinking that the gay and fascinating forms of pleasure in which vice then presented itself to the mind, would now bite like a serpent and sting like an adder—the manner in which they were engaged in middle life, amidst the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches, without once thinking how little it would now profit them if they had gained the whole world, and what they would now give in exchange for their souls—the manner in which even the evening of their days was spent, the rooted habits of old age, its suspicions, its distrusts, its covetousness and worldly mindednessthe use which men have made of their time and talents, the wilful omissions of duty, their own actual sins, and the sins of others to which they have deliberately contributed, all of them that are un
repented of, and therefore unpardoned-all shall attend them to the throne of judgment, and be weighed in the balance of eternal justice.
3. The third and last thing to be considered on this head is the sentence pronounced upon the wicked.
We are not ashamed to confess, with an eminently pious writer, that, were we permitted to consult only our own feelings, we should shrink from the task which this part of our subject imposes. It is, however, a part of the counsel of God, immeasurably awful in itself, and beyond all others affecting. The preacher himself (unless assured of his own salvation, which is the attainment of few in comparison) knows not but that he may be advancing arguments which are to affect himself, and to seal his own condemnation. If his heart, therefore, be not made of stone, he cannot contemplate the subject, as it respects himself or his fellow-men, without overwhelming amazement. But if the subject be useful, this, of itself, were sufficient to entitle it to your serious attention; nor can we acquit ourselves of blood-guiltiness, if we shun to declare it.
Nothing, indeed, can be conceived more awfully affecting, than the manner in which sentence will be pronounced. According to the description given of it by our Lord himself, the righteous are placed upon his right hand, the wicked on his left. Then shall he say to the righteous, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. But unto the wicked, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
Were the flames even now enveloping the world that we inhabit, were the heavens opening to make way for the Judge, and did we hear the trump of the archangel summoning the living and the dead to judgment, how are we prepared for it? How are we prepared for death, the messenger who is every moment ready to arrest us for judgment? How are we prepared to answer for the contempt that we have poured upon the scriptures, the sabbaths, the sanctuary, and the worship of God; upon the threatenings of his law, the warnings of his providence, the overtures of his mercy, the invitations of his grace? What apprehensions will the unbeliever now entertain of his former attempts to harden his own heart in wickedness, and to se, duce his fellow-men from the cause of truth and righteousness; to lull them asleep in security, and to beget in them a fatal oblivion of the soul and of its welfare, of judgment and of eternity! How will he now regard the triumphs which his conversation or his writings may have gained among those who, from ignorance of the evidences on which Christianity rests as on a rock, against which the gates of hell could not possibly prevail, were disposed to lend a ready ear to the most distorted statement of facts, seasoned with ridicule and invective! Such statements will, no doubt, then be found to have been eagerly embraced by many who were seeking an apology for their crimes, or for the indulgence of their sensual gratifications, It is painful also to think, that, by infusing doubts into the minds of others, whom curiosity first prompted to peruse these writings, they may have found their principles shaken, their reverence for sacred things abated, and blasphemous thoughts obtruding themselves on their recollection, which horrified their imaginations when they stood most in need of consolation, and planted their dying pillow with thorns! And how shall the infidel answer to himself, even if there were no future reckoning, for having infused doubts into the mind, and planted thorns in the dying pillow of a fellow-creature; doubts which now baffle all his sophistry to obviate, and thorns, which, were his unhallowed hand to attempt to eradicate them, would only tear up the wounds which he inflicted, without his having any healing balm to apply to them! And though a father has seldom or never been found, who has professedly educated his children in the principles, or rather the want of all principle, which his own infidel creed would have led him to inculcate; yet many a father and many a mother will have then to answer for what amounts nearly to the same thing—their having allowed their children to grow up in ignorance of those religious principles on which their characters should have been formed, and of those graces with which they should have been adorned; and who, in consequence of this neglect, and of the irreligious example that was set before them, will plead, but plead in vain, that they were not only untutored in the way of salvation, but misled by the example of those who should have been the instructors and guides of their childhood and youth; and who, on that account, will curse the day on which they were born, and the memory of those who gave them birth!
Considering, then, the various modes in which the carnal mind, which is enmity against God, manifests itself, in the contempt which it pours upon the scriptures, the ordinances of God, the threatenings of his law, the warnings of his providence, the overtures of his mercy, and the invitations of his grace; considering also the deceitfulness of sin and of the human heart, and how prone mankind in general are to think well of themselves, and to adjust their accounts with God, by setting their supposed good qualities, in opposition to their bad, in such a manner as to leave a balance in their favour, and to act, like the Laodiceans of old, who imagined that they were rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing; and knew not that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked ;-considering these things, it behoves us to address ourselves to men's fears as well as to their hopes, to persuade them by the terrors as well as by the promises of the gospel, to flee from the wrath to come, and to lay hold on eternal life.--I am, therefore, next,
II. To consider the suitableness of the argument which is here employed for this great and important end. And,
1. The suitableness of the argument will appear,