Page images

hated both me and my Father," (John, xv. 24.) so may I truly say with regard to you, I have endeavoured to show you, in the plainest and the clearest words, both Christ and the Father; I have urged the obligations you are under to both ; I have laid before you your guilt and your condemnation; I have pointed out the only remedy; I have pointed out the rock on which I have built my own eternal hopes, and the way in which alone I expect salvation. I have recommended those things to you, which, if God gives me an opportunity, I will, with my dying breath, earnestly and affectionately recommend to my own children, and to all the dearest friends that I have

have upon earth, who may then be near me, esteeming it the highest token of my friendship, the surest proof of my love

to them. And if

, believing the Gospel to be true, you resolve to reject it, I have nothing farther to say, but that you must abide the consequence.--Yet, as Moses, when he went out from the presence of Pharaoh for the last time, finding his heart yet more hardened by all the judgements and deliverances with which he had formerly been exercised, denounced upon him “God's passing through the land in terror to smite the first-born with death, and warned him of that great and lamentable cry, which the sword of the destroying angel should raise throughout all his realm ;" (Exod. xi. 4–6.) so will I, sinner, now when I am quitting thee, speak to thee yet again," whether thou wilt hear, or whether thou wilt forbear," (Ezek. Ü. 7.) and denounce that much more terrible judgement, which the sword of divine vengeance, already whetted and drawn, and “bathed, as it were, in heaven,” (Isai. xxxiv. 5.) is preparing against thee; which shall end in a much inore doleful

cry, though thou wert greater and more obstinate than that haughty monarch. Yes, sinner, that I may, with the apostle Paul, when turning to others who are more likely to hear me, 6 shake my raiment, and say, I am pure from your blood," (Acts, xviii. 6.) I will once more tell you what the end of these things will be. And, O that I could speak to purpose! O that I could thunder in thine ear such a peal of terror, as might awaken thee and be too loud to be drowned

in all the noise of carnal mirth, or to be deadened by those dangerous opiates with which thou art contriving to stupify thy conscience !

9. Seek what amusements and entertainments thou wilt, O sinner! I tell thee, if thou wert equal in dignity, and power and magnificence, to the “great monarch of Babylon, thy pomp shall be brought down to the grave, and all the sound of thy viols; the worm shall be spread under thee, and the worm shall cover thee ;” (Isai. xiv. 11.) yes, sinner, “the end of these things is death !” (Rom. vi. 21.) death in its most terrible sense to thee, if this continue thy governing temper. Thou canst not avoid it; and, if it be possible for any thing that I can say to prevent, thou shalt not forget it. Your “strength is not the strength of stones, nor is your flesh of brass.” Job, vi. 12. You are accessible to disease, as well as others; and if some sudden accident do not prevent it, we shall soon see how heroically you will behave yourself on a dying bed, and in the near views of eternity. You, that now despise Christ, and trifle with his Gospel, we shall see you droop and languish ; shall see all your relish for your carnal recreations and your vain companions lost. And if perhaps one and another of them bolt in upon you, and is brutish and desperate enough to attempt to entertain a dying man with a gay story, or a profane jest, we shall see how you will relish it. We shall see what comfort you will have in reflecting on what is past, or what hope in looking forward to what is to come. Perhaps, trembling and astonished, you will then be inquiring, in a wild kind of consternation, “what you

shall do to be saved ;" calling for the ministers of Christ, whom you now despise for the earnestness with which they would labour to save your soul! and it may be falling into a delirium, or dying convulsions, before they can come. Or perhaps we may see you flattering yourself

, through a long, lingering illness, that you shall still recover, and putting off any serious reflection and conversation, for fear it should overset your spirits. And the cruel kindness of friends and physicians, as if they were in league with Satan to make the destruction of your soul as sure as possible, may perhaps abet this fatal deceit.

10. And if any of these probable cases happen, that is, in short, unless a miracle of grace


you as a brand out of the burning,” when the flames have, as it were, already taken hold of you; all these gloomy circumstances, which pass in the chambers of illness and on the bed of death, are but the forerunners of infinitely more dreadful things. Oh! who can describe them? Who can imagine them? When surviving friends are tenderly mourning over the breathless corpse, and taking a fond farewell of it before it is laid to consume away in the dark and silent grave,

into what hands, O sinner! will thy soul be fallen ? What scenes will open upon thy separate spirit, even before thy deserted flesh be cold, or thy sightless eyes are closed ? It shall then know what it is to return to God, to be rejected by him as having rejected his Gospel and his Son, and despised the only treaty of reconciliation; and that so amazingly condescending and gracious! Thou shalt know what it is to be disowned by Christ, whom thou hast refused to entertain; and what it is, as the certain and immediate consequence of that, to be left in the hands of the malignant spirits of hell

. There will be no more friendship then : none to comfort, none to alleviate thy agony and distress ; but, on the contrary, all around thee labouring to aggravate and increase them. Thou shalt pass away the intermediate years of the separate state in dreadful expectation, and bitter outcries of horror and remorse. And then thou shalt hear the trumpet of the archangel, in whatever cavern of that gloomy world thou art lodged. Its sound shall penetrate thy prison, where, doleful and horrible as it is, thou shalt nevertheless wish that thou mightest still be allowed to hide thy guilty head, rather than show it before the face of that awful Judge, before whom “heaven and earth are fleeing away." Rev. xx. 11. But thou must come forth, and be re-united to a body now formed for ever to endure agonies, which in this mortal state would have dissolved it in a moment. You would not be persuaded to come to Christ before ; you would stupidly neglect him, in spite of reason, in spite of conscience, in spite of all the tender solicitations of the Gospel, and the repeated admonitions of

its most faithful ministers. But now, sinner, you shall have an interview with him; if that may be called an interview, in which

you will not dare to lift up your head, to view the face of your tremendous and inexorable Judge. There, at least, how distant soever the time of our life and the place of our abode may have been, there shall we see how courageously your heart will endure, and how strong your hands will be when the Lord doth this." Ezek. xxii. 14. There shall I see thee, O reader! whoever thou art that goest on in thine impenitency, among thousands and ten thousands of despairing wretches, trembling and confounded. There shall I hear thy cries among the rest, rending the very heavens in vain. "The Judge will rise from his throne with majestic composure, and leave thee to be hurried down to those everlasting burnings, to which his righteous vengeance hath doomed thee, because thou wouldst not be saved from them. Hell shall shut its mouth upon thee for ever, and the sad echo of thy groans and outcries shall be lost, amidst the hallelujahs of heaven, to all that find mercy of the Lord in that day.

11. This will most assuredly be the end of these things; and thou, as a nominal Christian, professest to know, and to believe it. It moves my heart, at least, if it moves not thine. I firmly believe, that every one, who himself obtains salvation and glory, will bear so much of his Saviour's image in wisdom and goodness, in zeal for God, and a steady regard to the happiness of the whole creation, that he will behold this sad scene with calm approbation, and without any painful commotion of mind. But as yet I am flesh and blood; and therefore my bowels are troubled, and mine eyes often overflow with grief, to think that wretched sinners will have no more compassion upon their own souls; to think, that, in spite of all admonition, they will obstinately run upon final, everlasting destruction. It would signify nothing here to add a prayer or a meditation for Poor creature, you will not meditate! you

will not pray! Yet, as I have often poured out my heart in prayer over a dying friend, when the force of his distemper has rendered him incapable of joining with me, so I will

your use.

now apply myself to God for you, O unhappy creature ! And if you disdain so much as to read what my compassion dictates, yet I hope, they who have felt the power of the Gospel on their own souls, as they cannot but pity such as you, will join with me in such cordial, though broken petitions as these :

A Prayer in behalf of an Impenitent Sinner, in the case just

described. Almighty God! with thee all things are possible.' Matt. xix. 26. To thee therefore do I humbly apply myself in behalf of this dear immortal soul, which thou here seest perishing in its sins, and hardening itself against that everlasting Gospel, which has been the power of God to the salvation of so many thousands and millions. Thou art witness, O blessed God! thou art witness to the plainness and seriousness with which the message has been delivered. It is in thy presence that these awful words have been written ; and in thy presence have they been read. Be pleased, therefore, to record it in the book of thy remembrance, that 'so, if this wicked man dieth in his iniquity, after the warning has been so plainly and solemnly given him, his blood may not be required at my hand,' (Ezek. xxxiii. 8, 9.) nor at the hand of that Christian friend, whoever he is, by whom this bood has been procured for him, with a sincere desire for the salvation of his soul. Be witness, O blessed Jesus, in the day in which thou shalt judge the secrets of all hearts,' (Rom. ii. 16.) that thy Gospel hath been preached to this hardened wretch, and salvation by thy blood hath been offered him, though he continued to despise it. And may thy unworthy messenger be “unto God a sweet savour in Christ,' in this very soul, even though it should at last perish! 2 Cor. ii. 15.

“But, oh! that after all his hardness and impenitence, thou wouldst still be pleased, by the sovereign power of thine efficacious grace, to awaken and convert him! Well do we know, O thou Lord of universal nature! that he who made the soul, can cause the sword of conviction to

« PreviousContinue »