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All that was cherished and loved on earth is left behind. There are no riches, no friends, no honours, no pleasures in hell. Utter desolation and ruin have come over all the hopes and interests of the sinner!
Now what disappointment and grief, what shame and remorse, fill the soul! Conscience, which has so long slumbered, is now awakened, and stings the soul with the recollection of its thousand thousands of transgressions. None are forgotten, none can be excused or extenuated. In all their magnitude and guilt, they stand out before the mind, and fill it with the keenest anguish.
Now the sinner is given up to the full dominion of unholy passions. The spirit no longer strives. The restraints of providence are withdrawn, and all the fountains of iniquity burst forth. Envy, pride, malice, rage, blasphemy, tear the heart by their internal conflict, and leave no moment of peace. At the same time, the sinner will be consumed with ungratified desire, crying in vain for a drop of water to assuage its burning thirst.
The outward circumstances of the lost sinner are equally appalling. In scenes of the deepest gloom, presenting nothing but images of woe; amidst ceaseless sounds of anguish and despair, and surrounded by companions depraved, ruined, and wretched like himself—the devil and his angels, and the spirits of lost men, loathsome and hateful in every feature of character, mutual accusers and tormentors.
Oh, how dreadful is the wrath to come! It is unmitigated wrath. However distressing our situation in this life, there is always something to soften its horrors. Whatever comforts are taken away, some are still left. There are anodynes to soothe our pain, medicines to relieve our sickness, friends to sympathize with us in our sorrows, hope to cheer us in our darkness. But the wrath to come has no such alleviations : it is poured out without mixture; it is pain, and sorrow, and grief, without sympathy and without relief.
It is everlasting wrath. The God of truth, who can never deceive his creatures, has said, “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment,” Matt. xxv. 46; “ the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever," Rev. xiv. 11; “their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” Mark ix. 44. Dreadful thought! Is the heart never to be eased of its pain ? will the worm never cease to rage? will no ray of hope ever light up the darkness ? No, never ! Still as eternity rolls on its unwasting ages, the deep wailing of the lost will be heard uttering the bitter agonies of despair. When millions of years shall have passed, and yet millions upon millions more, it will still be wrath to come. Eternity alone measures its duration. Eternity! Eternity! Oh, that fearful word, how it sounds through all those gloomy mansions, piercing the soul with unknown and inconceivable horrors !
Such is the wrath that will come upon all the disobedient, the impenitent, and unbelieving.
Fellow-sinner! this is the wrath of God! Oh, turn not your eye from it! Say not it is a gloomy theme, and you will not dwell upon it. It is better to look at it now than feel it hereafter. “ Knowing the terrors of the Lord,” we would “persuade you.” Take the friendly warning; it comes from a brother's heart; nay, it comes from a Saviour's compassionate bosom: “Flee from the wrath to come.”
Now it may be escaped. Oh, blessed news ! God has provided “a refuge from the storm, a covert from the tempest.”
A Saviour's blood has been shed to atone for sin, and to open the gate of heaven to returning sinners. his heart are open to receive you. Hear how he invites you : "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
How he reasons and expostulates with you! and let us reason together : though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.". “ Turn
evil ways; for why will ve die ? "
Oh, fellow-sinner! listen to that voice. Take shelter in those compassionate arms. What detains you? why do you hesitate? Will you be so unwise as to part with the everlasting glories of heaven for the few fleeting joys of earth, followed with endless pain ? Oh! who can dwell with devouring flames? with everlasting burnings?
But you hope to escape. Yes, you mean to “flee from the wrath to come.” So did thousands who now feel it, and will feel it for ever. It is not safe to defer. thy soul may be required of thee."
66 Come now,
“ This night
FROM a port in the dominion of a certain prince, a great many vessels were about to sail upon a distant voyage. This voyage had never been performed by any of the persons then alive in that kingdom. Those about to depart, were very busy in making preparation. Some were full of spirits, laughing, leaping, shouting, and jesting, anticipating the greatest enjoyment during the voyage, and longing to push off into the deep sea, that then looked so smiling. Others, and this was the case with almost all, were labouring with the utmost anxiety, and an eagerness that was painful, to collect what they wished to carry with them. And here it was remarkable to see that all were heaping up great stores of articles, which they could not by any possibility carry with them to the land whither they were going, because they were in their nature perishable. Luscious fruits that would rot before they could leave the harbour-fair flowers that began to fade as soon as they were gathered, and costly brittle ornaments, that would certainly be destroyed in the attempt to put them into the ships. But what made this folly the more strange, was, that they all knew and admitted that it was foolish. One would rebuke or ridicule another for labouring so hard to collect unserviceable things; yet he would not use his own wisdom, but spent his labour just as fruitlessly as all the rest, who, in their turn, were just as ready as he, to make wise speeches about their own folly. But the most surprising thing of all was, that it seemed never to occur to any of them, that they were all profoundly ignorant of the course they ought to steer to reach the desired country, or if the thought had occurred to them, it gave them no concern.
Just before they embarked, a stranger presented himself. He was a man of serious and benevolent countenance, and his voice was full of earnestness. Having ascended a mound, he called aloud to those before him, “ Friends, travellers over an unknown sea to a distant land, hearken to me, for I desire your good.” All eyes were directed to him for a moment, though with some, it was but for a moment, for they were so intent upon
their pursuits, that a brief moment was all that they were willing to spare. Many, however, collected around him, and he proceeded : “ You are all about to embark on a long voyage. Is there one among you who can guide the rest? I know there is not-how should there be, seeing that no one has ever returned from that distant land, to tell you how you, too, may reach it? Is it not of the greatest possible importance to you, to be able to steer your course aright?” All acknowledged that nothing could be more important, though strangely enough, they had never thought anything
about it up to that very
time. “ Can you direct us ? ” they all cried.
“ I can,” replied he, “see here !” and he presented to their view a mariner's compass, an instrument never before seen in that land.
* This will conduct you to the country you wish to reach," and he explained to them its uses, and then said, “ This will I give you ; will you take it ? ”
There was a pause, and the stranger looked around, but no one advanced to take the compass.
Can it be possible that they will refuse such an offer?
Again, with increasing earnestness, he asked, “Will you not take it?”
O foolish people! O infatuated voyagers! Do they wish to be ignorant of the way they ought to go? Instead of receiving the boon, they begin to raise objections.
" But how," said one, can this little thing be of any service to us?”
“ I have already told you," replied the stranger, " that it guides by pointing with unerring and unchanging truth, always in the same direction.”.
6 But how do we know that this is so ? "
“See here," and he turned the compass round, and the needle changed its place, vibrated, and then settled in precisely the same position as before. "Ah! once
an accident, perhaps.” “ Look again,” and he turned it in the opposite direction, with the same result as before.
“ But how do we know that it will so act, at other times, and in other places ?—when we are in the midst of the ocean, for example.”
6. Of course, I cannot,” said the stranger, “ make an experiment before you, now, at any other time than this, or at any other place than this; but if it so acts, here and now, why not elsewhere and anywhere, and at any time! But, further, I assure you, that countless numbers in other ages, and in other lands, have sailed by it, and all, without exception, have declared that it is always true. For myself, my voyage is not yet over, but hitherto I have sailed by it, and never has it misled me.”
“ But," said another, “I will ask in a different sense, how does it act? I mean, by what innate virtue does it always point as you say to the north ?
“I confess," said the stranger, “I cannot answer that question—that is to me and all others, equally, a mystery.”
“ Ha! and do you expect," said the objector, “that we should trust ourselves to the guidance of a mystery ? Friend, with all your light, your knowledge is, after all, but little more than ours.
I do not ask you,” replied he, “to trust to a mysteryI ask you to trust to this—that this needle always points in the same direction—why it so points, is indeed a mystery, but you are to be guided by its pointing, not by the reason for it.”
But,” said another, “I see a great many letters and figures, and lines on the face, and other parts of this instrument. Can you expect us to become acquainted perfectly with all these things, and an error about them, might lead us totally astray-what are all these things for?
“ There are many things here,” said their patient instructor, “which seem intricate, and many which are so really, and some which I cannot explain, nor would you comprehend them, if I could; but it is not necessary for your purpose,
should know about this instrument everything which can be known, or even everything which I know. The main thing necessary, I can teach you instantly--nay, I have taught it to you already, if you would receive it. Oh, that you would, and would act upon it! It is that this needle always points in one direction. These lines, and other marks are for various purposes. Some like to sail a little in one direction, and some in another-some get to port, easier, and quicker, and in better condition than others, and these lines have connexion with these things, and all are not agreed as to the best use to make of them, but all who sail by this instrument agree in the one thing I have already mentioned— This needle is always true. Take it for your guide with this confidence, and during your voyage, you will have time enough, by study, to learn as much as you may desire about all these lesser matters.
Another objected still—“If it is so necessary for us to have this instrument, in order to make the voyage in safety, how have others sailed who have made the voyage before us? What has become of them ?”
Why should we speak," answered the stranger, things which do not immediately concern either you or me? This much is enough. They who make the voyage without this instrument, cannot go right. Remember that none have ever returned from that land to tell their history. Cease to ask whether those who have gone before ever reached the