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departed spirits are miserable; but they know nothing about such a place as the gospel represents heaven to be, and nothing about such a place as the gospel represents hell to be. Even Cicero, the wisest and most learned of the heathen moralists, was doubtful whether the soul were immortal, or had any existence beyond the grave. But the gospel gives us infallible evidence that the souls of men are immortal, and shall enjoy everlasting happiness, or suffer everlasting misery, after they leave this mortal state. The gospel clearly describes the place, the business and the blessedness of heaven; and the place and bitter reflections of the damned. The gospel reveals the method which God has devised to save sinners from the wrath to come, and to raise them to the world of glory and blessedness. The gospel, therefore, is the only medium through which sinners can possibly be saved. If they hear, understand and cordially embrace it, they shall have everlasting life ; but if they refuse to hear, understand and cordially embrace the terms of salvation, they must suffer the damnation of hell. These are the most important truths and the most weighty motives, that can be exhibited before the minds of sinners, to awaken, convince and convert them. So Abraham thought; for when Dives entreated him to send Lazarus to warn his brethren of the danger of their coming to that place of torment, where he was confined, he said, " They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” If men believe ihe gospel, they must be saved; but if they disbelieve and reject it, they must be damned. It is a solemn thing to hear the gospel, wbich must infallibly be a savor of life unto life, or a savor of death unto death, to every one that hears it.
3. If the miseries of the damned be such as have been des. cribed, then we see why the scripture represents this world as so dangerous to sinners. The Bible is full of the most solemn warnings and admonitions to sinners to guard against the love of the world and the things of the world. Christ preached a great deal against the love of the world. He declared that no man could embrace the gospel and become his sincere follower, unless he denied himself, took up his cross, and renounced a supreme attachment to the world. He preached this doctrine so plainly to the amiable young man, that it destroyed all his hopes, and sent him away sorrowful. He said, " It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And he spake the parable of Dives and Lazarus on purpose to warn sinners
against the love of the world. He represents the rich man as clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day; plainly intimating that it was owing to his undue attachment to the world, and the enjoyments of the world, that he lived and died impenitently, and plunged himself into the bottomless pit of destruction. And he spake another parable, of a more Jaborious and industrious man, who destroyed himself, not by luxury or intemperance, or any thing that is called vicious, but by the supreme love of the world. But why is the love of the world represented so dangerous and destructive to the souls of men ? The plain reason is, that the world and all the things of the world, directly and powerfully tend to dissipate the thoughts of men; and so to prevent all serious reflections upon God, and upon every thing serious, important and eternal. An habitual attention to this world excludes an habitual attention to another world; an habitual love to this world excludes an habitual love to another world ; and worldly mindedness excludes heavenly mindedness. While the scenes and objects of this world engross the attention and affections of men, they are always stupid and regardless of the happiness of heaven, and the torments of hell. Why are young men so generally careless and stupid about the salvation of their souls? The cause is visible. They are all attention and zeal in pursuing the vanities and amusements of the world. Why are those on the stage of action, and in the meridian of life, so stupid and regardless of future happiness and misery? It is because the more serious business and concerns of this life shut out the thoughts of a future and eternal life. Men are formed for thinking, reflecting and anticipating; and they cannot help employing their thoughts about either temporal, or eternal ihings. And if it were not for thinking about, and loving the world, they would think about, and love God and divine things. The world would do men no harm, if they would only give it its proper place in their thoughts and in their hearts. But it is of the most ensnaring nature, and has ruined the souls of millions among the poor as well as the rich; among the learned as well as the unlearned ; among the industrious as well as the idle ; among the moral as well as the immoral; and among the old as well as the young. The world would destroy all men who live in it, if it were not for the sovereign grace of God, in controlling the views and renewing the hearts of some. The apostle's admonition therefore deserves the most serious regard. “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” But Christ's question is still more solemn and impressive. “ What shall it
profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?”
4. If the miseries of the damned arise from bitter reflections, then all sinners, in their present state, are fit for destruction. They have just such views, and feelings, and reflections in kind, as the damned have. They hate to be what they are, rational, immortal and accountable creatures. They hate to be where they are, in a state of probation, where life and death, eternal happiness and eternal misery, heaven and hell, are so often exhibited before them. They hate to reflect upon what God is and what they are; or upon what others have done to save them; or upon what they have done to destroy themselves; or upon the state of the blessed in heaven; or upon the state of the miserable in hell; or.upon what they may be to all eternity. They have the same love to sin and hatred to holiness, that the prisoners in despair have. They have the same enmity to God, to Christ, to good men, and to one another, that the great adversary and all his subjects have. Christ has told them, that they are of their father, the devil. And they need no change of heart, to fit them to be his companions in sin and misery for ever. Their own weight of guilt would sink them down to the regions of darkness and despair, if the forbearing mercy of God did not prevent it. But yet they think and say, that they are not totally depraved ; that they do not deserve endless torments, nor are in danger of being cast into hell; that they are whole, and need not a physician; ihat their character and state are misrepresented; and that they have a right to trust in their goodness. They justify themselves, and condemn God and his law, and despise the thought of being in danger of hell fire, which they think is too often mentioned. They say to themselves, that they are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Such views and feelings, if continued in, must ripen them fast for destruction. They are in the situation of one who was cherishing the vain hope of long prosperity, but whose soul was suddenly called into eternity.
5. If the miseries of the damned, and the character of sinners, be such as have been described, then there is reason to fear that some sinners are very near to the pit of perdition. They are in the broad road which has led many such persons as they are to the place where there is no light, and no hope. The symptoms of eternal death are upon them, though they know it not. They have reason to fear that God will cut them down, or say, Let ihem alone. To such Christ said, “ Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damna
tion of hell ?" It is God's usual method to send the spirit of slumber
sinners, before he executes the sentence of eternal death. And has not the spirit of slumber been long visible among many sinners here? And does not this forebode that the time may be near, when they will awake and lift up their eyes in torments ? Preachers did not make these marks of danger, but God has made them in his word. Be entreated to read his word, and compare your characters and conduct with this. And if you do not find yourselves condemned by Moses and the prophets, by Christ and his apostles, you need not fear what preachers say. But if you find yourselves condemned by Christ himself, “ Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
SERMON L X X X V.
CONSTANT PREPARATIONS MAKING FOR THE DAY
Tus Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.
2 PETER, ili 9.
We should naturally suppose that God would early reveal to mankind the day of judgment, in which they are all so deeply interested. Accordingly, we find that God inspired Enoch, the seventh from Adam, to foretell this great and solemn event in a plain and striking manner. “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all; and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” To this and other predictions of the last great day, the apostle refers christians, in the context, where he says, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which
stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, that ye may be mindful of the words spoken before by the holy prophets." After this intimation that the day of judgment had been long foretold, he proceeds himself to predict, how stupid and profane sinners in time to come would feel and think and speak, in respect to this solemn subject. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they
. are willingly ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth, standing out of the water and in the