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his approaching destiny. He may compass himself about with sparks of his own kindling, and walk in the light of his own fire, but shall have this at the hand of God, that he shall lie down in everlasting sorrow. Haste then, ye very best of the ungodly, and be found at a Saviour's feet, that ye may have life through his name. If the world esteems you a benefactor, and you can see no fault in yourself, still you must be born again, or die in your sins, and where Christ is, can never come.
Finally, We see why there need be but one place of destiny in the coming world for all the unregenerate. The little shades of difference that now appear in the ungodly, are too insignificant to mark them out for distinct worlds. When God takes off those restraints that now make unholy men differ, they will be so much alike, that none will impeach his justice when he assigns them all the same outer darkness, the same gnawing worm, and the same quenchless fire. He that has stolen his neighbour's property, and died a felon, and he who has concealed the article found in the street, or the mistake made in his favour, or has purposely become a bankrupt, to escape the obligations of honesty, will appear too much alike in the judgment, to require any material diversity in their final sentence. perdition will suit them both, though one drops down to hell from the gallows, and the other is borne there on a downy bed. The duelist and the assassin, the usurer and the pickpocket, the foresworn and the profane, the wine-bibber and the sot, the fashionable adulterer and the inmate of the brothel, must be seen to differ so little when God shall tear away the fictitious drapery from the more honourable sinner, that it will seem no incongruity to place them at last in the same hell. God will consider his law as openly violated, and his authority as egregiously insulted, by the man who sinned in accordance with public sentiment, as by the man who did his deeds of depravity in full and open violation of the civilities and customs of human society. Men make wide distinctions where God will make none. Hence the same condemnatory sentence, the same prompt execution of it, the same place of punishment, the same duration of misery, and the same total despair, will be the destiny of the patrician and the plebeian transgressor. Does the man die out of Christ, this is enough; no matter whether he was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day, or went to perdition a beggar or a slave. It will be the same thing to God; and for all the millions who repent not, he will build but one hell. Perhaps the meanness and coarseness of his associates may prove at last, to the more accomplished sinner, an ingredient in his cup of misery that shall more than counterbalance the honours and the pride, which, in this life, gave him his fictitious elevation above the vulgar transgressor. Could I make my puny voice be heard, I would thunder this sentiment through all the ranks of elevated crime, till the highest prince should find his adulterous bed a couch of thorns, till the honourable murderer should feel in his own bosom "the arrows of the Almighty,"* and till. the boldest in blasphemy and the meanest in knavery should fear alike the same award, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels.”
* Job, vi. 4.
BY DANIEL A. CLARK, A. M.
PRACTICAL TEST OF LOVE OR ENMITY TO GOD.
MALACHI, i. 6.—A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a Father, where is mine honour? and if I be a Master, where is my fear?
THIS address was made to the priests of the Lord, at a very corrupt age of the Jewish church; and applies not only to them, but to the whole family of Israel. There was corruption, not merely in the priesthood: the whole church was exceedingly polluted. Every precept of the law was violated, and every rite of the sanctuary perverted. Hence most of the addresses made to them apply, not to believers, but to impenitent men, and that in all ages, and in all countries. "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself," would seem a strange address to true believers; but is exactly suited to a community of hypocrites, whose profession of godliness embraced all the holiness they aimed to acquire.
It will then be no violation of the spirit of the text, if we apply it to an impenitent world, embracing those who have no show of godliness, as well as the whole family of false professors.
We find in the lips of many who make no pretensions to a change of heart, high profession of respect for the character and government of God. They claim him as their Father, and would have us believe that they respect and obey his laws. It will be my object in this discourse to inquire, WHETHER MEN OF THIS CHARACTER YIELD HIM THAT FILIAL ESTEEM, OR THAT DUTIFUL SUBJECTION, WHICH ARE DUE TO A FATHER AND A MASTER.
That the subject, however, may impress our minds the more tenderly, let us, I. Contemplate the government of God, and see if we can discover him dealing with all his rational creatures as a Father and a Master.
1. In the first place, as a Father and a Master he protects them. This the son and the servant expect. God keeps his eye upon all his intelligent creatures, and puts underneath them his arm of mercy. Not an hour would life be sustained, did not Jehovah keep in tune this wondrous frame; did he not heave the lungs, move the heart, and brace every member and every nerve. Dangers stand thick around us, wait at every corner to destroy us, but are warded off by that unseen Intelligence," in whom we live and move and have our being.' "The unbeliever as well as the believer, holds his life, his reason, his health, and all his comforts as a loan of Heaven. While he neglects to pray, and while every mercy is forgotten in unthankfulness; while he ever sets his mouth against the heavens, and defies the Power that protects him; still, with paternal vigilance, God extends to him his protecting mercy. He lies down and sleeps and wakes because the Lord makes him to dwell safely.
2. As a Father and a Master he provides for all his creatures. That bread which men feed upon, as the fruit of their own industry, and for which they thank themselves, and every garment that covers them, and the house
that shelters them, are the gifts of God. No man could make his seed vegetate, or render his fields fertile, or ensure success in trade, independently on his Maker. The showers and the dews, the genial sun, and the soft breezes of heaven are entirely under divine control, and unite their influence to feed, and clothe, and warm, and give health and vigour to an apostate world. Thus, as a Father and a Master, he makes timely and kind provision for all his creatures.
3. As a Father and a Master he makes us know his will. We have some lessons of instruction from the fields of nature; but in his word he has opened all his heart; has made every duty plain, and placed it in the power of every son and servant of his to do his pleasure. He has plainly revealed himself and his will concerning us. He has made us acquainted with his Son and his kingdom. If disposed to obedience, we have nothing to do but to obey. And that his family of intelligences might have no excuse from marching up promptly to their duty, he has caused his word to be proclaimed in a preached gospel. Thus we have line upon line, and precept upon precept. All this we expect from a father or a master.
4. I add, he has made our duties light. The service he requires is pleasant and easy. He demands what is to our own interest, and prohibits what would ruin us. His law, in all its rigour, is a most kind and benevolent institution, and has conferred upon his family the richest comforts and the greatest obligations. Next to the Gospel, the Law of God is the richest bequest of Heaven to our world; and they were both issued with the same design-to render intelligent beings happy in the enjoyment of their Maker. Finally, if we obey him, he smiles upon us, and provides for our future happiness as does a father and a master. The law itself, which he had a right to issue without a promise of reward, implies that the dutiful shall be happy. He approves of every act of duty, and will notice it with his favour even if we give to the thirsty a cup of cold water, from love to him. When we have sinned, and are desirous to return to duty, he accepts our repentance, forgives us, and loves us. Thus he acts the part of a kind Father, and an indulgent Master toward all his intelligent creation. And many whose hearts have never been won to love and duty, are still sensible that God is kind, and deserves their warmest esteem, and faithful service. But after all this we hear Him say, " If then I be a Father, where is mine honour?” II. Let us inquire how a kind and dutiful son or servant will treat a father or a master.
I yoke the two together, because if faithful and dutiful, they will exhibit in these different relationships, very much the same deportment.
1. In the first place, the son loves his father, and the good servant his master. The attachment is very strong; and perhaps often as strong in the one case as in the other. You have seen servants who would die to protect their master; and the attachment of a good son to his father none will question. Let us then inquire whether that class of men who acknowledge that they have not been regenerated, but who wish to be considered very friendly to their Maker, do really feel any love to his character. While they are made the recipients of his bounty, they may feel glad, and may mistake
gladness for gratitude. Or viewing his favours as an evidence of his love to them, they may feel that complacency in themselves which may seem like affection for him. Or making some essential mistake in their views of his character, they may love the image they have set up, and which they call Jehovah. Or being grossly ignorant of his character, they may never feel their hearts drawn out toward him, in any very strong affection or passion, and so may not know that they do not love him. Or these things may all
combine to deceive and ruin them.
If we have any love to God we must love his whole character, and must learn his character from the Bible. We must not only love the Being who waters our fields, and makes the earth fruitful, and the air salubrious; who supplies us with health and plenty; but the Being, (for he is the same,) who sends drought, and famine, and pestilence; who cuts off our comforts, and sends disease, and death, and darkness, and sorrow into our habitations. We must not only love him, who created us, who protects us, who feeds us, who enlightens us, and who offers us salvation; but him who gave us his law, gave that law its sanctions, and annexes to a rejection of the Gospel the sure pledge of endless misery. We must not only love the Being who has watched the world with paternal solicitude, and has given to the different nations their prosperity and their honours; but him, (for he is the same God,) who blotted out the old world, who burned the cities of the plain, who has plagued the kingdoms of men with revolutions, earthquakes, storms, and wars. We must not only love him who has built a heaven for redeemed sinners, but him who has digged a bottomless pit, and kindled a quenchless fire for the finally impenitent. We cannot love the Author of all good, and hate him as the Author of what we call evil. There is but one God, and he assures us that he makes light, and creates darkness. We must vest him with all his attributes, and love him as a whole Deity, or he will spurn our affection, and count us his enemies. He is as worthy of esteem in the exercise of holiness, justice, truth, and vengeance, as when he displays his infinite goodness and mercy. His threatenings do him as much honour as his promises. His plagues are as necessary as his blessings, his lightnings as his rains, his Law as his Gospel, his prison as his palaces: His rod and his bread are both blessings to his children and his servants.
Now the question is, do that class of men who speak so highly of their Maker, and who would have us believe that they are so grateful for his benefits, and have pleasure in contemplating his character, but who have no pretensions to having passed the new birth-do they love the whole of the divine character? Have they selected the attributes of their supreme Deity from the Bible, and do they disrobe him of no single perfection? Is the view the Bible gives of Jehovah pleasant to them in all its parts? Would they not alter one single trait if they might? Have they no exceptions to make, when they think of him, and speak of him, and pray to him? And when they think of going to be in his presence for ever, is his character exactly such as they would love to contemplate and to dwell with?
I know that some of these questions, at moments, are trying even to the believer; but he does hope, that he approves of every attribute in the character
of Jehovah. But do not that class of men, to whom this sermon is principally addressed, manifest, that they are pleased with only a part of the divine character? Hence how frequently will they deny such of the doctrines as clash with their views of God. Total depravity is viewed as rendering them too deformed for him to love till they are radically changed. The necessity of such a change begets a doubt whether they are on the way to heaven. The deity of Christ argues, that men are in a state of fearful ruin from which none but an almighty Redeemer can rescue them. The necessity of a divine influence to change the heart, cuts off the hope which they build on their own good works, as qualifying them for heaven. Any divine purpose respecting the heirs of salvation, places their destiny in the hands of God; where they are afraid to trust it. His sovereignty in regenerating whom he will, leaves it doubtful whether their purposes of future repentance will be executed. Threatenings of everlasting misery to the finally impenitent, exhibit God as too inflexibly holy to be their Jehovah.
Do they not dread these doctrines because they undermine their high opinion of themselves, and in their view mar the character of God? If they loved him, they would have confidence in him; they would believe what he says, would dare to be in his hands, would have no fear of his decrees, nor be apprehensive of too great severity in his justice.
The child, when he is received into the arms of his father, asks from him no promise that he will not cast him into the fire or the flood. If he knows that his father has written his last testament, he has no fear that he is disinherited and the faithful servant has the same confidence.
2. The good child loves the society of his father, and the faithful servant loves to be with his master. Every one has observed that love will thus operate. If then God be a Father, where is his honour? Do men in their native state love to be with God. The believer will know what I mean by being with God. There is a sense in which God is every where; but a special sense in which he is present with his people. Communion with him is as much a reality as communion with a friend. In a friend we do not see that spirit with which we hold fellowship. When it has fled, still all that we saw is present, but communion is at an end. God's people have endearing fellowship with him, and there is no blessing which they prize so highly. In the family, in the closet, in the sanctuary, and in the field, they mingle their souls with the great Spirit, and are happy. The ordinances are appointed for this purpose. One day spent in his courts is better than a
But the men we have described-do they understand the nature, and estimate the privilege of this fellowship? They think they love their Maker, and are displeased if we question their piety; but do they seek communion with him? Are they men of prayer, and accustomed to the work of praise? Do they love retirement and meditation? Do they pore much over the page of inspiration, and do they cultivate a spirit of devotion? All this is to be expected of one who loves to be with God. A few transient thoughts of him as a Benefactor are not a sufficient testimony of supreme attachment. God commands more than this, and if we are his chil