Page images

torment for the unrighteous and ungodly,—suppose a man had only a night's dream to such an effect, and yet remained utterly unconcerned in sin,—what would that man deserve, who ventured his eternal soul upon such a chance? Would not any man who held his soul so cheap, as to let it take its chance, (be that chance great or small,) have already deserved to forfeit its salvation ?

But, in the next place, let us consider for a little what is the chance that any sinner now sets up against the sentence pronounced by the God of Truth. It is—that sentence is not executed speedily,—that he has sinned, and no thunderbolt has fallen, no blow was gtruck,—that he has seen his neighbours sin, and that there, too, no thunderbolt has fallen, and no blow was struck. Now, let us examine this chance for a moment, and we shall be surprised to find, that (even leaving all the threats and denunciations of Scripture out of the account, and taking the world as we see it, and according to its history) there is now proof that sentence will be executed in the end. Now, to perceive this, observe that, in many cases, sentence has been executed against “ evil works.”

Look to the flood: “ When God saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, he said, I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them.” And accordingly the flood came down upon the world of the ungodly.

Then look to Sodom and Gomorrah: “Because the of these cities was great, and their sin very grievous,” therefore the Lord rained down brimstone and fire out of heaven. Look next to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram : They rebelled against the Lord, and against Moses and Aaron, his servants; and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and all that appertained to them. Look next to the sentence upon the blasphemer: The son of an Israelitish woman, in a quarrel with one of the men of Israel, blasphemed the Lord, and cursed, and they put him in ward, that the mind of the Lord' might be showed them; “ And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Bring forth him that hath cursed, without the camp, and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And they brought forth him that had cursed, and stoned him with stones.” Look next to the man that broke the Sabbath: “ And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall surely be pat to death ; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp; and they stoned him that he died.” Look


And turn your

next to the three and twenty thousand, who fell in one day" on account of their impurity : their numbers could not save them. Look, in fact, at the whole Jewish dispensation, where the Almighty often made bare his arm, and executed sentence speedily.

But look next to the Christian dispensation, and behold the guilty pair, Ananias and Sapphira, standing before the Apostles : and though they came with their right hands full of gifts, yet they came with a lie upon their lips; and, the moment it was uttered, they fell down, and gave up the ghost. eyes next to Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sitting upon the throne, and making an oration to the people: and hark! the people are shouting, and saying, “ It is the voice of a God!” and, while they are shouting, the angel of the Lord had smitten him.

From your own observation and experience alone, you will find sufficient proof that, in many cases, sentence upon evil works has been executed speedily. The course of nature and the constitution of society have been so ordained, by the wisdom and the justice of the Almighty, that the crime often brings the punishment along with it. The strong arm of the law often seizes the malefactor while his crime is fresh upon him, and consigns him at once to death and infamy. Then, in the next place, God often permits the intemperate and impure to become their own tormentors—destroying their own bodies, wasting and withering them with surfeit and disease, and making their days few and evil, sick of life, and afraid of death, and crawling into their graves

before their time. Others execute sentence upon themselves, by wasting their substance in riotous living, until men begin to pity and despise them. And sometimes the sons become the executioners of the fathers ;—and men propagate sin from generation to generation, and see their own vices extended and multiplied in their own children, who return them back their own iniquities, with interest, into their bosom, and bring down their grey hairs with sorrow to the grave."

And in every man's breast there is an executioner whom he generally strives to set asleep; but sometimes there comes a shock that rouses him from his slumber, and then he begins to lash him and sting him, and smite him upon the heart; so that we may perceive that, in many instances, (more perhaps than we at first supposed,) sentence is executed speedily.

Now we are prepared to consider the chance upon which the sinner relies, when he sins, and says in his heart, “ Thou wilt not require it." The chance is this :-I know that sentence is gone forth against every evil work, and that it is pronounced by the God of truth; but I have sinned-often sinned—and so have my neighbours, and the earth did not open her jaws, neither did fire and brimstone come from heaven, nor did I feel any bad effect arising from it; and therefore I have a chance that God will not execute the sentence at all.

Now, look at this chance. We have just seen that sentence is in many cases executed; yet, strange as it may appear, the very discrepancy which apparently arises out of the fact that it is not executed in every case, seems to be the strongest possible proof that, in the next world, vengeance will be fulfilled to the utmost. For, observe--if we found that every man in this life received just what he deserved, and every evil work always brought swift punishment along with it, what should we naturally conclude ?—“ There is no future punishment in store: I see nothing wanting ; every man has already received the due reward of his works; every thing is already complete, and therefore there is nothing to be done in the next world.”

Or if, on the other hand, there were no punishment visited upon sin at all in this world, we might be inclined to say, “ Tush ! God has forgotten; he never interferes among us ; we have no proof of his hatred of sin, or of his determination to punish it; he is gone away far from us, and has left us to follow our own wills and imaginations, -so that, if sentence were fully executed upon the earth, or not executed at all, we might have some reason for saying—that there was a chance of none in a future world. But now it is in part executed ; just so much done, as to say, “ You are watched--my eye


upon you; I neither slumber nor sleep, and my vengeance slumbereth not.” And yet, at the same time, there is so little done, that a man has to look into eternity for the full accomplishment.

These occasional visitations of God's wrath,—these sentences that sinners are often obliged to execute upon themselves,these judgments that sometimes fall and burst among us,-come often enough to tell us that there is punishment; but so seldom, as to lead us to infer that it is yet to come. They seem to be rather given as evidences, than as fulfilments of the wrath of God; rather as a sign, than a part. earthquakes and volcanic eruptions only serve to show us what fires are burning and labouring in the bowels of the earth, the flames of hell seem to break out sometimes before their time among men in earthly judgments—to warn them of judgments to come.

This is the sinner's chance,—that, even if that Bible, which speaks to him terrible things, were a falsehood, the very course

Just as

of nature, and the current of human affairs, furnish the strongest possible proof of judgment to come! “ Out of thine own mouth wilt thou be condemned.” Thine own excuse will be thy condemnation. And which of us has not made this excuse ? Which of us has not often said in his heart, “ Thou wilt not require it;" and sinned in the face of the sentence registered against all iniquity, -in the face of the sentence registered against “uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry—against anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication," Col.iii. 5—8,in the face of the sentence registered against all those who forget God? But


will say, Surely God is a merciful God? Are we not told that he is full of mercies and loving-kindnesses ; that his mercy rejoiceth against judgment; that he has sworn, as he liveth, “ that he hath no pleasure in the death of the sinner?" True; his mercy is indeed boundless and astonishing; amazing, beyond what “eye hath seen, or ear heard, or hath entered into the heart of man to conceive.” But how has that mercy been shown? By visiting sentence to the very uttermost. He did not fling us his mercy indolently from his throne; but he executed sentence to the very uttermost upon his only begotten Son. His mercy does not consist in extinguishing his justice, but in executing it upon the head of the Son in whom he was well pleased. Awful mercy ! terrible forgiveness ! mercy that ve must not dare to trifle with !

Let us be ourselves the judges: if any man makes this mercy an argument for sin, what new punishment, what fresh tornients, how many times must the furnace be heated for that

for him who dares to say, “ Because the Lord Jesus has died for me, I will follow my iniquities !”—for him, who would thus make Christ the minister of sin! That blessed mercythat glorious manifestation of infinite love-- was always used in Scripture as an argument for repentance, for holiness, and for all good; but any man that curses God's blessing, by turning it into an argument for continuing in sin,-how is he described in Scripture ? He is “the enemy of the cross of Christ ;" and “he crucifies the Son of God afresh, and puts him to an open shame.” It had been “good for that man that he had never been born.” Every hour of your sin that you add to your life under this dispensation, is gathering over your headin judgment. The goodness of God, in not cutting you off with your sins still green and fresh, is turning every day into wrath. For what says the Apostle ?_“Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God ?" Here you see two things : First, that the goodness of God in bearing with you thus long,--in not blotting you out from the face of the earth, while you were engaged in the last sin that you committed,—was intended to lead you to repentance ; it cannot lead to mercy, but as it leads to repentance : Secondly, you see that every time you neglected and refused," you were treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.” There is a treasury of vengeance in eternity; and day by day, and hour by hour, you have been casting in your mite. When will your eup be full ? Perhaps at this moment it may be overflowing; perhaps the plain simple warning you are now reading may be the last which the Lord God will ever vouchsafe to your soul. This at least is certain, --that the next time you return to your sin, it will be in deliberate defiance of the wrath of the Almighty. Who shall say whether

you will be allowed to make the trial a second time? Probably your cup may then run over, and he may execute judgment. Or if not, he may let you live as a monument of his vengeance; and as Pharoah was allowed to live, after he had resisted all the means of grace, that the Lord might openly manifest his power and his justice upon him,—God may prolong your life only that men may see a sinner gasping without hope upon his death-bed; and as they look upon the horrors of your dying countenance, they may each one smite his breast

“God be merciful to me a sinner !" Do not, reader, trifle with your soul. Every moment in which you delay to turn to the Lord, and to seek that change of heart, by which alone you can find delight in his service, is a moment of danger-of imminent danger. Hear the word of the Lord—“ 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 : turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways; for why will ye die ?”—Ezek. xxxiii

. 11. Hear the testimony which the Holy Scripture bears of Jesus "of whom we have spoken.

Him hath God exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, FOR TO GIVE REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS.-Acts v. 31.

and say,





J. & W.Rider, Printers, Bartholomew Close, London,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »