Page images

true, and righteous, are thy judg- up for ever and ever, and they ments, O Lord God of Hosts.” have no rest day nor night.” Crushed, but unhumbled, he was Now all these images of terror driven from the face of God an un must have a meaning. They are repenting criminal, and is now in not mere figures of speech. There the lake that burneth with fire and must, too, have been an important brimstone, hating God and hating end to be attained by their presenholiness, and not more tormented tation. They harrow up our finest by the actual pains he endures, sensibilities; and he who planted than by the agony of selfish regret those sensibilities in all their deliwith which he realizes the happi- cacy never wounds or violates them ness he has now for ever lost. unnecessarily.

But what is “ the lake of fire ?" It is not allowable for us to cast What do these words mean? them aside under any pretext,

that In order to answer this question the contemplation of them is calsafely, it will be necessary to view culated to instil hard thoughts of the phrase in connection with other God. God requires of us no such passages of a similar kind.

false solicitude about his character. The following appear to embody The thought is presumption.–Are the greater part of what is revealed we tenderer than. God? Are we with regard to the eternal state of more merciful than our Maker? the wicked. Take them in the or Do we take complacency in our der of Scripture.

tenderness, our kindness of heart, Matt. iii. 12. “ He will burn up our shrinking from another's sufferthe chaff with unquenchable fire.” ings? Who implanted those feel. Matt. xiii. 40. “ As therefore the ings? What is it that has given tares are gathered and burned in to them their exquisite sensibility? the fire, so shall it be at the end of What, but that very Christian Rethis world. The Son of Man shall relation, of which eternal torments send forth his angels, and they for the wicked is part and parcel. shall gather out of his kingdom all Why is it that we are not sacrithings that do offend, and them ficing our offspring to Moloch, or which do iniquity, and shall cast crushing our own bodies under the them into a furnace of fire, there wheels of some English Juggersball be wailing and gnashing of naut? You can find no other reateeth.” Matt. xxv. 46. 6. These son than this, because our rugged shall go away into everlasting pu- and cruel natures have in some nishment.” Mark ix. 44. “ Where measure yielded to the benevolent their worm dieth not, and their and loving influences of that very fire is not quenched.” Jude vii. 13. book which tells us of the lake of

Suffering the vengeance of eter- fire and brimstone. nal fire, to whom is reserved the Away then with that false, hyblackness of darkness for ever.” pocritical, and presumptuous deliRev. xiv. 10, 11. “ The same cacy, which would seek to hide shall drink of the wine of the wrath what God has thought fit to reveal, of God which is poured out with- and under pretext of solicitude out mixture into the cup of his in- for his honour, indirectly charge dignation, and shall be tormented him with cruelty. These images of with fire and brimstone in the pre- terror have a meaning, and an imsence of the holy angels and in the portant end was without doubt to presence of the Lamb. And the be attained by their presentation. smoke of their torment ascendeth What was that end? Why does

God shock our feelings by such powerfully shadow forth, the disvivid pictures of a misery which mal woes, the gnawing agony of would be otherwise inconceivable ? those who have God for their

Probably this—to hold up in the enemy. And then, as if to put at strongest light the exceeding sinful- rest for ever all hope of change, we ness of sin, and its eternal opposi- are told in the same sentence, and tion to his holy nature, to show us by the use of the very same word, the awful character of eternal pu- what will be the duration both of nishment, and by these strong re the happiness of the righteous, and presentations of its unutterable the misery of the wicked. 6. These misery to place before us, in con- shall go away into everlasting nection with the death and media- (acúvlov) punishment, but the rightorial work of Christ, one of the teous into life eternal” (alavrov.) most powerful motives which could Without, therefore, passing the possibly be brought to bear on that boundary of revelation, by attemptenlightened self-love, which unlike ing to define precisely the character selfishness, operates, not for our of the sinner's eternal dwelling aggrandisement but for self-preser- place, it is enough for us to know vation, and under the influence of that it is a place of inconceivable which, in some degree at least, wretchedness. every man wishes to avoid the wrath which conscience tells him

“ The breath of God-his angry breath, is to come.

Supplies and fans the fire,

There sinners taste the second death, You must have noticed, that And would—but can't expire.” there is a strong indisposition in the minds of most persons to be

As residents in a sinful world, lieve that there is such a place as we know something about misery ; hell. Thousands who profess to but we know little indeed of it comreceive the Bible as a divine reve pared with what the lost spirits in lation are willing to persuade them- bell know. selves that the frequent references Reader– You may have suffered which are made to everlasting woe, acute pains of body or experienced are, after all, only strong figures much anguish of mind, and either of speech, intended to deter men are hard enough to bear. from the commission of gross crimes, member, in hell, both these are and under the influence of vain united and endured in the highest speculations about things unre- degree. You may have heard of vealed, they soon come to disbelieve the torments inflicted upon martyrs that which they wish to be untrue. or upon slaves. You may have

To meet this infidelity of the read of racks, and whips, and flame, heart, it has pleased divine wis- —of flesh torn by burning pincers, dom so to vary these images, and or scorched by boiling lead. But to place them in such connection as these were short pangs. Our boto render it utterly impossible to dies are so mercifully constituted deny the reality of the thing repre- that they cannot sustain more than sented, without at the same time a limited portion of torment. The forfeiting all pretension to the cha- torn flesh will mortify, sensibility racter of a believer in the Bible. soon leaves it, and the sufferer

A dim but dreary outline of dies. But in hell the powers of enthat gloomy abode is set before us, durance are indefinitely increased, and chains, and darkness, and a and no death relieves the hardened lake of fire, and an undying worm and blaspheming rebel.

But re

you ?

Here, under intense mental suf Once more, before we part, fering, the mysterious chain which I implore you to turn to Christ. connects mind and matter, snaps, He invites you. How can ye and he who a little while ago rolled refuse ? He intreats you. Can in agony, now laughs in idiocy. you yet deny ? He stretches out But in hell the links are more firmly his hand in token of reconciliakvit, and even the relief of mad. tion—and will you still disregard ? ness is denied.

He waits to be gracious.

How But is it right, you ask, thus to long is he to stand before you

will force upon us thoughts from which bow? Soon will his feet turn anwe shrink? What end can be an other way. “Now is the accepted swered by such awful, such heart- time, now is the day of salvation.” rending detail ?

MY FELLOW BELIEVER-The Whether any end will be an life, the death, and the eternal swered, God only knows; the end dwelling place of an unconverted intended to be answered is impor- sinner have been set forth, chiefly tant enough to justify God in for the benefit of those who are making these painful declarations, themselves in the like condition : and to justify man in bringing them but has the subject no bearing upon prominently forward.

You have unconverted This is the end. To awaken friends and neighbours, perhaps You, () unconverted sinner, to a near relatives. Do you believe sense of your real condition and that they are travelling onward to imminent danger, that so you come a miserable eternity, and yet have not into this place of torment. To you never tried to stop them in awaken You, O slumbering selfish their way? Have you never taken believer, that you may arise from them by the hand, and with the your guilty lethargy, and begin to affectionate earnestness which a stir yourself about the conversion deep conviction of their danger of your unrenewed relatives, and alone can give? Have you never friends, and neighbours, lest in besought them to be reconciled to that day their blood should be re Jesus? Have you never prayed quired at your hand.

with them, as well as for them ? SINNER - You have had a Then where is your affection? glimpse, (but a glimpse it is true, Where your love to them? Where yet still a glimpse,) of the eternal your likeness to the great apostle dwelling place of all the uncon of the Gentiles, who could bave verted. You have seen the pit on wished himself accursed, so that the brink of which you are trifling, his brethren according to the flesh and into which, if your feet turn might be saved? Where is your not away, you will slide in due likeness to Christ? Where your time. With all your might are zeal for his honour ? you urging on your fatal way. I Awake! awake! call upon you to stop. In the is far spent, the day is at hand.” name of God, and with the mercies The judge standeth at the door.” of Christ in my hand to offer, I Beware Test your garments be implore you to return.“ Why will stained with the blood of the unye die? What can it profit you, converted, if you gain the whole world and

D. lose your own soul.”

[ocr errors]

" The night

He was

LETTERS OF FELIX NEFF, THE ALPINE PASTOR. To the Editors.—Not doubting but munion with God, and as tending that your

readers have been deeply too much to a sort of spiritual interested by the Memoir of Felix dissipation, in which we are seNeff, which appeared in your last parated from God, even while we number, and would be glad to appear to serve him. kuow any further particulars re- sensible that activity, and zeal, specting a man so eminently pious, and unwearied devotedness, are and so singularly devoted and suc- qualities excellent in themselves, cessful in the cause of Christ, and necessary to the faithful ChrisI have sent you the following tian; but he also felt, that the translations of two letters, written founding of schools, preaching to by him during his last illness, and others, establishing missions, coraddressed to all his brethren and responding with half the world ; sisters in Christ Jesus, of the in short, being, or appearing to be, churches in which he had minis- important in the church of Christ, tered, and especially to his former that these things do not make up catechumens. They were pub- the life of the soul; but on the lished at Geneva, not long after contrary, often become, with a his death, by M. A. Bost, an ex- terrible facility, pernicious snares cellent minister of Christ of that to him who is engaged in them. city, who attended his bed-side, He felt that it is not the work of and acted as his amanuensis in man which can sustain the trem penning them. M. Bost has ap- bling heart when it has to meet pended a short notice on the last “ the king of terrors ;” that true moments of Neff, in which he peace is obtained only by a simple speaks of the patience and un- reliance on sovereign mercy, and feigned humility which this good that, on the bed of death, the most man displayed in the midst of his faithful Christian has no other acute sufferings, and of his well- ground of salvation but that grace grounded confidence and triumph which justifies the ungodly. in the Saviour. His experience The following letters will, I am in the prospect of death and persuaded, be read with interest eternity tended to confirm and and profit. They were written in strengthen what he had before those circumstances in which the taught and written, especially on mind rejects with disgust everything the importance of real inward but that which is real and satisfypiety. Though Neff was far re- ing. They were written in the moved from ambition, and the light of the future world. They desire of becoming great, and had are full of simplicity, and breathe laboured beyond measure in his a spirit of exalted piety. They vocation as a minister of Christ, are valuable as a testimony to the he appears to have formed a truth and reality of religion, and very humbling view of his public come with additional weight and ministry, and regarded that very force from a man who had been so activity which had led him to eminently useful and exemplary. travail night and day for the good I had many opportunities, last of others, as having proved too year, of witnessing the happy efmuch a snare to his own soul, as fects of his labours, and of hearing an obstacle to his personal com his name pronounced with filial

N.S. NO. 88.


veneration by those to whom he Christ. I see them all separately, had been instrumental in bringing or assembled together; I hear to a knowledge of the truth. them, and I speak to them. In Three of these were young men

these moments, I find myself quite studying for the ministry, and I naturally put again in possession was pleased to observe that the of the sentiments which animated theses of two of them, which it is me heretofore; and, as formerly, usual to publish, on obtaining the I lift up my soul to the Father of degree of Bachelor in Theology, every perfect gift, and I pray for were inscribed “A la Memoire his dear flock! I meet also in benie de M. Neff." One of them these recollections the image of is already labouring among those those of my brethren who are no very mountains over which Neff more, and I sigh ; but presently had so often traversed, to carry I bless God for them, and I rethe glad tidings of the Gospel; joice in seeing them in the fold, and may we not hope that the safely housed from every evil and seed which he was the means of every fall. Doubtless, I cannot sowing shall bring forth yet more thus recal these times and places, abundant fruit to the praise and without finding afresh many huglory of God?

miliating recollections, very buI am your's, very truly, miliating, and without thinking, Attercliffe, J. W. H. P.

that if, at this time, I am, as it April 16th, 1832.

were, laid aside in the service of

Christ, I have justly deserved it;

but as these recollections are not the Plombières, Oct. 6th, 1828. less salutary, I should do wrong In the state of complete isola- to dispel them. That which casts tion in which my long illness re the greatest gloom over this pictains me, one portion of my time ture, is, alas ! the number of those is employed in walks in Dauphiné, who have died in the desart, and My spirit wanders, as in a dream, who after having set out from

the higher Alps and Egypt, have returned thither in Triève; my heart accompanies it their heart, not having had the in these visits, and finds itself courage to go up to take possesagain, not without emotion, suc sion of the good country! How cessively in all the places where often my memory meets,

in it has experienced so many de- ning over your country, some of licious sensations, especially where those poor souls, who have been it has sighed for the conversion of struck by the preaching of the poor sinners, and where it was word, who have trembled at the surrounded with precious souls foot of Sinai, who have cried out anxious for the word of salva. with anguish,

" What shall I do tion.

to be saved ?" who for a time I tread over again the vallies, renounced the world, endured its the passes, all the little by-paths hatred, and partook of the afwhich I have so often traversed, flictions of the people of God; alone, or with friends ; I find my and who then became tired of self again in the huts, in the the


who have feared stables, in the vineyards, particu- no

the wrath to come, larly where I have conversed on who have forgotten both the the things of Heaven with those threatenings and the promises, who are dear to me in Jesus and who have fallen asleep


[merged small][ocr errors]



« PreviousContinue »