« ElőzőTovább »
which are the just recompence of his impious presumption and ingratitude?
But even should God inflict no particular marks of displeasure upon the sinner, but suffer him, as it sometimes happens, to go on and prosper in his wickedness even unto the end; yet let him not vainly imagine, that the arm of the Almighty is shortened, or that he shall finally escape his vengeance. He hath said, “ Vengeance is mine, I will repay it:" and what he hath said, he will surely perform; for his words are not written in sand, or scattered by the wind, but will stand fast when the pillars of heaven are shaken, and the foundations of the earth are removed.
And indeed this total forbearance of God is often one of the heaviest and surest marks of the divine vengeance. For as he sometimes afflicts in mercy, so also he spares in anger. He fixes the time of our repentance, and allots a day of grace, beyond which he will no longer extend his mercies. And if the sinner goes beyond this fatal moment, his doom then is unchangeably fixed; the gate of mercy is then for ever shut, and God will be no more intreated: he does not then endeavour by his judgments to reclaim him from his evil ways, but suffers him to add sin to sin,
and to fill up the measure of his iniquity : he does not warn him by his corrections, or awaken him by his grace, but finally gives him over unto death,
And when this is the case, how dreadful, how beyond description dreadful, inust the situation of the sinner be! What bitter agonies of soul must he feel when he considers, and every man will some time or other be brought to such a state of consideration, that he has forfeited every hope of salvation, and has now nothing to look for but the just rewards of his folly and impiety; when he reflects that he has offended that Majesty of heaven which can strike him dead in a moment; that he has ungratefully despised the Father of mercies, in whom alone he lives, and moves; who has supplied him with every comfort he has enjoyed in life, and has su long borne with his obstinacy and impenitence ! And whither can he turn his eyes, where he will not find something to remind him of his folly ; or whither can he fly to hide himself from the all-seeing eye that spieth out all his ways? If he looks upwards, the host of heaveri, which obey the voice of their Creator, upbraid his rebellious disobedience; if he looks downwards, inanimate, yet obedient, nature proclaims his guilt, as the only rebel of the creation : if he
wakes, the terrors of conscience surround him:, i and when he lieth down on his bed, can he forbear reflecting, that, while the very beasts of the field are safe under the protection of that God who neither slumbers nor sleeps, he alone is exposed defenceless to the dangers of the night, and may, ere to-morrow's sun arise, awake in the flames of hell?
Nor is this an imaginary picture of the situation of the sinner who hath abused the clemency and forbearance of heaven, but it is founded on truth, on the word of that God, who is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent. Can any man, therefore, forbear to ask in all the terms of the most profound astonishinent, what is it then that throws a veil over the eyes of men, and prevents their seeing these solemn and interesting trụths ? Whence is it that the whole world is buried in sin, and all flesh have corrupred their way before God? Whence is it that the drunkard glories in his intemperance, the swearer
in his impiety, the adulterer in his lusts, the co, vetous in his oppressions, though the strength of Israel, who cannot deceive, hath declared that he both seeth and will assuredly punish the man who doeth these things ?. Will the sinner plead, that it is want of thought which hurries K 4
him on to the commission of sin? What! shall the lord of the creation, shall he who is allied to angels and made in the image of God himself, plead that as an excuse for his crimes, which would reduce him to a level with the very beasts that perish! Can it be consistent with a reasonable being to want thought, when the dye is casting for eternity! Can he, who is so deeply anxious about the possessions of this uncertain life, be thoughtless about an inheritance that fadeth not, an immortal possession! No: it is impossible: however men may pretend to plead thoughtlessness as an excuse for their sins, I cannot persuade myself that they arise from hence: it is not mere inattention that makes men wicked : the root of evil lies deeper, and is of a more deadly and malignant nature. Is it then the pleasures of life that allure the sinner and draw him from his duty? The pleasures of life did I say? Rash and mistaken language ! We talk of them indeed, and, in the morning of life especially, spring eagerly forwards, as if we were sure of filling our grasp with these rosebuds of the spring: but where are they; or in what happy region are they found: Not surely in this vale of tears, not amid the changes and chances of this mortal life, where pain and disease, where sorrow and disappointment are ever predominant, and where even our best enjoy.
ments are but like the visionary forms of the fleeting cloud, or the fantastic images which nature depicts on the winter's ice. What madness then is it to stake that which has no foundation or existence, against a certain and eternal inheritance; to barter away the hopes of salvation for the short satisfaction of a brutal gratifica- ; tion; to exchange the treasures of an incor. ruptible happiness for the imaginary enjoyments of a trifling and uncertain moment! Will the sinner plead, that he is enchanted by the flattering pursuits of life and the busy engagements of the world; by the thirst of faine or wealth: by the love of honour and the schemes of ambition? And what then are all these, wealth, honours, dignity, and fame, about which mankind are making this endless bustle, to which they sacrifice their present ease and future hopes? What are they but the toys which the blind capricious hand of fortune scatters at random, and can again snatch from us at every hour: Alas! ye men of insatiable desires, wlio so eagerly grasp at the honours, the riches, the power of the world, go to the tombs of your ancestors, who are now mouldering around you, and learn from them the value of these things. Ask them, whether all the honours they enjoyed, whether all the riches they amassed, be equal in value to the least of God's slighted