Page images

and plunged with them into eternal ruin. The wide gates of hell shall be open to receive thee; they shall be shut upon thee for ever, to enclose thee, and be fast barred, by the Almighty hand of divine justice, to prevent all hope, all possibility of escape for ever.

11. And now "prepare" thyself "to meet the Lord thy God." Amos, iv. 12. Summon up all the resolution of thy mind to endure such a sentence, such an execution as this; for "he will not meet thee as a man ;” (Isai. xlvii. 30.) whose heart may sometimes fail him when about to exert a needful act of severity, so that compassion may prevail against reason and justice. No, he will meet thee as a God, whose schemes and purposes are all immoveable as his throne. I therefore testify to thee in his name this day, that if God be true, he will thus speak; and that if he be able, he will thus act. And on supposition of thy continuance in thine impenitence and unbelief, thou art brought into this miserable case, that if God be not either false or weak, thou art undone, thou art eternally undone. The Reflection of a Sinner, struck with the Terror of his Sentence.

"Wretch that I am! What shall I do, or whither shall I flee? I am weighed in the balance, and am found wanting.' Dan. v. 27. This is indeed my doom; the doom I am to expect from the mouth of Christ himself, from the mouth of him that died for the redemption and salvation of men. Dreadful sentence ! and so much the more dreadful, when considered in that view? To what shall I look to save me from it? To whom shall I call? Shall I say to the rocks, Fall upon me, and to the hills, Cover me?' Luke, xxiii. 30. What should I gain by that? Were I indeed overwhelmed with rocks and mountains, they could not conceal me from the notice of his eye; and his hand could reach me with as much ease there as any where else.

"Wretch indeed that I am! O that I had never been born! O that I had never known the dignity and prerogative of the rational nature! Fatal prerogative indeed, that renders me obnoxious to condemnation and wrath! O that I had never been instructed in the will of God at all, ra

ther than that, being thus instructed, I should have disregarded and transgressed it! Would to God I had been allied to the meanest of the human race, to them that come nearest to the state of the brutes, rather than that I should have had my lot in cultivated life, amidst so many of the improvements of reason, and (dreadful reflection!) amidst so many of the advantages of religion too! and thus to have perverted all to my own destruction! O that God would take away this rational soul! but, alas! it will live for ever, will live to feel the agonies of eternal death. Why have I seen the beauties and glories of a world like this, to exchange it for that flaming prison! Why have I tasted so many of my Creator's bounties, to wring out at last the dregs of his wrath! Why have I known the delights of social life and friendly converse, to exchange them for the horrid company of devils, and damned spirits in hell! Oh! 'who can dwell' with them in 'devouring flames? who can lie down' with them in everlasting, everlasting, everlasting burnings?' Isai. xxxiii. 14.

"But whom have I to blame in all this but myself? What have I to accuse but my own stupid, incorrigible folly? On what is all this terrible ruin to be charged, but on this one fatal, cursed cause, that having broken God's law, I rejected his Gospel too?

"Yet stay, O my soul, in the midst of all these doleful foreboding complaints. Can I say that I have finally rejected the Gospel? Am I not to this day under the sound of it? The sentence is not yet gone forth against me, in so determinate a manner as to be utterly irreversible. Through all this gloomy prospect, one ray of hope breaks in, and it is possible I may yet be delivered.

"Reviving thought! Rejoice in it, O my soul! though it be with trembling, and turn immediately to that God, who, though provoked by ten thousand offences, has not yet' sworn in his wrath that thou shalt never' be permitted to hold further intercourse with him, or to enter into his rest.' Psalm cxv. 11.

"I do then, O blessed Lord! prostrate myself in the dust before thee. I own I am a condemned and misera

ble creature. But my language is that of the humble publican, God be merciful to me a sinner!' Luke, xviii. 13. Some general and confused apprehensions I have of a way by which I may possibly escape. O God, whatever that way is, show it me, I beseech thee! Point it out so plainly, that I may not be able to mistake it! And oh! reconcile my heart to it, be it ever so humbling, be it ever so painful!

"Surely, Lord, I have much to learn; but be thou my teacher! Stay for a little moment thine uplifted hand; and in thine infinite compassion delay the stroke, till I inquire a little farther how I may finally avoid it!"



1,2. The sinner urged to consider how he can be saved from this impending ruin.-3. Not by any thing he can offer.-4. Nor by any thing he can endure.-5. Nor by any thing he can do in the course of future duty.-6-8. Nor by any alliance with fellow-sinners on earth or in hell.-9. Nor by any interposition or intercession of angels or saints in his favour. Hint of the only method, to be afterwards more largely explained. The lamentation of a sinner in this miserable condition.

1. SINNER, thou hast heard the sentence of God, as it stands upon record in his sacred and immutable word. And wilt thou lie down under it in everlasting despair? Wilt thou make no attempt to be delivered from it, when it speaks nothing less than eternal death to thy soul? If a criminal, condemned by human laws, has but the least shadow of hope that he may possibly escape, he is all attention to it. If there be a friend, who he thinks can help him, with what strong importunity does he entreat the interposition of that friend? And even while he is before the judge, how difficult is it often to force him away from the bar, while the cry of mercy, mercy, mercy, may be heard, though it be never so unseasonable? A mere possibility that it may make some impression, makes him eager in it, and unwilling to be silenced and removed.

2. Wilt thou not then, O sinner! ere yet execution is done, that execution which may perhaps be done this very day, wilt thou not cast about in thy thoughts what measures may be taken for deliverance? Yet what measures can be taken? Consider attentively, for it is an affair of moment. Thy wisdom, thy power, thy eloquence, thy interest, can never be exerted on a greater occasion. If thou canst help thyself, do it. If thou hast any secret source of relief, go not out of thyself for other assistance. If thou hast any sacrifice to offer, if thou hast any strength to exert; yea, if thou hast any allies on earth, or in the invisible world, who can defend or deliver thee, take thy own way, so that thou mayest but be delivered at all, that we may not see thy ruin. But say, O sinner! in the presence of God, what sacrifice thou wilt present, what strength thou wilt exert, what allies thou wilt have recourse to, on so urgent, so hopeless an occasion. For hopeless I must indeed pronounce it, if such methods are taken.

3. The justice of God is injured; hast thou any atonement to make to it? If thou wast brought to an inquiry and proposal, like that of an awakened sinner, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?" Mic. vi. 6, 7. Alas! wert thou as great a prince as Solomon himself, and couldst thou indeed purchase such sacrifices as these, there would be no room to mention them. "Lebanon would not be sufficient to burn, nor all the beasts thereof for a burnt-offereing." Isai. xl. 16. Even under that dispensation, which admitted and required sacrifices in some cases, the blood of bulls and of goats, though it exempted the offender from farther temporal punishment, "could not take away sin," (Heb. x. 4.) nor prevail by any means, to purge the conscience in the sight of God. And that soul, that had "done aught presumptuously," was not allowed to bring any sin-offering, or trespass-offering at all, but was condemned to " die without mercy." Numb. xv. 30. Now God and thine own con

science know, that thine offences have not been merely the errors of ignorance and inadvertencey, but that thou hast sinned with a high hand in repeated aggravated instances, as thou hast acknowleged already. Shouldst thou add, with the wretched sinner described above, "Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" Mic. vi. 7. What could the blood of a beloved child do in such a case, but dye thy crimes so much the deeper, and add a yet unknown horror to them? Thou hast offended a Being of infinite majesty; and if that offence is to be expiated by blood, it must be another kind of blood than that which flows in the veins of thy children, or in thine own.

4. Wilt thou then suffer thyself, till thou hast made full satisfaction? But how shall that satisfaction be made? Shall it be by any calamities to be endured in this mortal, momentary life? Is the justice of God then esteemed so little a thing, that the sorrows of a few days should suffice to answer its demands? Or dost thou think of future sufferings in the invisible world? If thou dost, that is not deliverance; and with regard to that, I may venture to say, when thou hast made full satisfaction, thou wilt be released. When thou hast paid the uttermost farthing of that debt, thy prison-doors shall be opened; but in the mean time, thou must "make thy bed in hell." (Psalm cxxxix. 8.) and, oh! unhappy man, wilt thou lie down there with a secret hope, that the moment will come when the rigour of Divine justice will not be able to inflict any thing more than thou hast endured, and when thou mayest claim thy discharge as a matter of right? It would indeed be well for thee if thou couldst carry down with thee such a hope, false and flattering as it is; but, alas! thou wilt see things in so just a light, that to have no comfort but this will be eternal despair. That one word of thy sentence, "everlasting fire;" that one declaration, "the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched;" will be sufficient to strike such a thought into black confusion, and to overwhelm thee with hopeless agony and horror.

5. Or do you think that your future reformation and dil

« PreviousContinue »