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thus the fenfual man spends the poor remains of life with very little senfe, and yet much fear of religion. And yet were this the worst, happy were his case, in comparison to what it really is : for sensual lusts war against the soul, against the very being itself, and will render it for ever unhappy and miserable.
The sensual man has but one hope with respect to futurity, and a sad one it is, that he may die like the beasts that perish : but nature, reason, religion, deny him even this comfort, and with one voice proclaim to us, That God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world. When that day comes, and he shall stand before the throne of God with all his fins about him, and every injured person ready to accuse and demand juftice against him, it is much easier to imagine what his distress and misery will be, than for any words to describe it. Be the consequence of that day what it will, it must be fatal to finners. Should the much talked-of, and the more wished-for annihilation be their doom, it is a sentence that destroys both body and soul; a sentence shocking to nature, and terrible to all our apprehensions; and to which nothing but a guilty conscience, and a fearful expectation of something worse, could possibly reconcile the sentiments of a man. But neither will this be the case : there is a fire that shall never go out prepared for the spirits of the wicked, a worm that never dies ready to torment them. It may be asked perhaps, Do you mean a material fire, and a material worm? In good truth I am little concerned to answer this question : there is one who will answer it, even he who said it. There is nothing I think so weak as the disputes
about future punishments. Do you imagine that God wants means of punishing sinners effectually ? or do you think that, when he comes to punish fin, you shall have a saving bargain, and that your present enjoyments will be worth all you can luffer for them hereafter ? If you imagine this, you must think God a very weak being : but if you think him a wise governor, rest satisfied that there is nothing to be got by offending him; and that it is a foolish encouragement you give yourself, in imagining that the pains of hell will be less tormenting than they are represented to be, when you may be sure, from the power and wisdom of God, that the pleasures of fin will be too dearly purchased at the price of them.
But to return to the argument before us : let us look back, and take a short view of the sensual man's condition. In this world his passions find so much employment for his reason, that he is excluded from the improvements peculiar to a rational being, and which might recommend him to the favour of his Maker: with respect to his fellow-creatures he is void of morality : with respect to God he is void of religion : he has a body worn out by fin, and a mind hardened by it: in his youth he strives to forget God, in his old age he cannot remember him : he dies fuller of sins than of years, and goes down with heaviness to the grave, and his iniquities follow him, and will rise with him again when God calls him to appear and answer for him. felf: then will his lusts and appetites, and all the fins which attended on them, rise up in judgment against him, and sink his soul into everlasting mi.
sery. The sum then of his account is this: the sensual man has his portion of enjoyment in this world with the brutes, and in the next his punishment with wicked spirits. This is the war which the lufts of the flesh wage against the soul : from such enemies a wise man ought to fly, for they have power not only to destroy the body, but to caf both body and soul into hell.
Matthew xxvii. 38. Then were there two thieves crucified with him; one on
the right hand, and another on the left.
W HAT different effects the judgments of God have upon the minds of men, may be learned from these examples now before us. Here are two thieves crucified with our blessed Saviour; two, who were probably guilty of the same crimes, and now under the same condemnation ; both brought by the providence of God to suffer in the company of his own Son, whose blood was shed for the fins of the whole world. But mark the end of these men: one died reproaching and blafpheming Christ, and breathed out his soul in the agonies of guilt and despair ; the other law, acknowledged, and openly confessed his Redeemer, and expired with the sound of those blessed words in his ears, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
How adorable is the wisdom of God, who has thus instructed us; and, by setting the examples of his justice and mercy so near together, has taught us to fear without despair, and to hope without prefumption! Who would not tremble for himself,
when he sees the man perish in his fins who died by his Saviour's side; within reach of that blood which was poured out for his redemption, but wanting faith to stretch out his hand, and be saved?
What would the dying finner give to have his Saviour so near him in his last moments, that he might pour out his soul before him, and seize by violence the hand which alone is able to save? Yet he who had all these advantages enjoyed none of them ; but died in his fins, void of hope and of comfort.
Must the finner then despair, and has God forgot to be merciful ? No: cast your eyes on the other side of the cross, and there you may see the mercy of God displayed in the brightest colours. There hangs the penitent, surrounded with all the terrors of approaching death ; yet in the midst of all calm and serene, confessing his fins, glorifying the justice of God in his own punishment, rebuking the blasphemy of his companion, juftifying the innocence of his Saviour, and adoring him even in the lowest state of misery; and at last receiving the certain promise of a blessed immortality.
Thus the case stands with all the allowances made to it which seem most to favour a death-bed repentance : and yet, as if the Scripture had said nothing of the wretch who died blaspheming and reproaching Chrift, nor given us any cause to fear that a wicked life may end in an hardened and ob, durate death; the case of the penitent only is drawn into example, and such hopes are built on it, as are neither confiftent with the laws of God, nor the terms of man's salvation ; for even of this ex