Imágenes de páginas

such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it ever entered into the heart of man to conceive them; so may we say of those other things, which God hath prepared for them who dd not love him, that they are such as our senses of seeing, and hearing, and conceiving, will not now enable us fully to understand. What it is to perish, can be known, so far only, as God has been pleased to reveal to us in his word. If it were possible for us to comprehend it in its full extent, the prospect might shock us to such a degree, as to strike us dead upon the spot with terror. But that would be of no use; it is not designed to fright us out of life,? but to fright us out of sin. God grant that it may have its effect! The general sense of it is contained in those words of onr Saviour concerning his sheep—I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish: so that to perish, is to lose eternal life; and, with that, all things desireable and delightful to man. It is hard for us to conceive what a spirit can be without life: but you may have some understanding of it, if you consider that there is even in this world a life which is no life; with which when death is compared, it is preferred, and often chosen, as the better of the two. Many there are to be found, who live only to feel misery; who breathe only to utter sighs and groans: and when the body is thus overloaded with infirmity, the faculties of the mind are of little use. When the strength of the body is gone, the spirit is also broken, and no longer capable of exerting itself any further, than barely to be sensible of its own suffering. What is such a life as this, but a daily death? And if we were to say of such a person, that lie dies every day, the meaning of the expression would immediately be understood by those who are made acquainted with the case. We

are then to conceive, that the spirit which loses eternal life, lives only to suffer ami to be miserable. It lives, but without the powers and comforts of life. It is separated from Christ, the Light of the world; and having lost him, finds nothing but the darkness of despair. It is separated from the Spirit, whose name is the Comforter, and its misery can find no alleviation. Being thus divided from the Light and Spirit of the Lord, the divine presence can be manifested to it only as a combming fire, such as God is said to be to the wicked: it will never be blessed with a prospect of that place which Christ hath prepared for his disciples: it will never be admitted to the society of angels, and just men made perfect; but will be sent away to join the blaspheming crew of fallen angels; and be tormented with those, for whom torment was made. These are some of those terrors of the Lord, by the preaching of which the apostles persuaded men; that is, persuaded them to repent, and fly from the wrath to come. And perhaps, they that hear me now may think it necessary they should repent: perhaps they form a resolution that they will repent. So did Felix; and thought he might find a proper season for it; but that season never came: "Go thy way, for this time, (said he to Paul,) when I have a convenient season I will call for thee." Thus it generally happens: for, as Felix never found a time, so the man who doth not enter upon a new course of life, the moment he is convinced that such a course is necessary, never enters upon it a-t all: if he suffers himself once to cool upon the subject, all things are against him, and he will never be warm any more: if he can put off his repentance, he will never repent at all: and I will give you my reasons, why I think he will not.

1. Man brings with him a corrupt nature into the world : he is more inclined to evil than to good. One bad example can draw him further into a life of wickcdness, and prevail more for his destruction, than twenty good ones for his reforulation. One corrupting discourse from a seducing companion will instil more cvil into his mind, than twenty demonstrations from the pulpit will be able to overcome: this is my first reason.

2. When sin becomes habitual to the mind, the case is daily altering for the worse. There is a double disadvantage; sin grows stronger, and the mind grows weaker: on which account, he who does not resist his sin to day, will be less able to do it to-morrow. It is the same with sin as with sickness. All men know, that in the case of bodily sickness, it is of the utmost importance to seize the first opportunity of a cure. Some trifling remedy may be sufficient now; but after a few days, not all the remedies in the world; and so the case is a lost one.

3. The Scripture represents it as an impossibility to change a habit of evil for a habit of good: and we have a frightful picture of the case by the prophet Jeremiah, in the following words: “Can the Ethio. “ pian change his skin, or the leopard his spots then “may ye do good, that have been accustomed to do “evil.” Yet men are so sottish as to continue the practice of sin; and if they think at all (which some never do) they think they shall be able to wash it off when they please, as easily as if it were a speck of diri. But when it is grown old, it is no longer like dirt upon the skin; it is the blackness of the Ethio. pian, to take away which, you must take away the skin at the same time. Did you ever hear of the

herdsman, who thought the time would come, when all his black cattle would turn white? You would conclude such a man to be out of his senses. But doth not the sinner; doth not he, who knows he cannot make one hair of his head white or black, expect that tliis may happen to himself? Doth not he persuade himself, that his soul, hardened and blackened by sin, (by a life of sin) may become pure and white before he dies? Thousands commit this mistake, and the world wonders not at it; neither will such people appear in their true character, till the last day shall shew them without disguise to men and angels.

4. There is another reason, why such men never repent; because they see so many around them who do not- Well therefore may the Spirit warn us against this danger: follow not a multitude to do evil. And if you would know what the power of a multitude is, look at the fashions: see how fast people run into them, and how they are never ashamed of them; ashamed did I say; how they are proud of them: and certainly very many are proud of their sin, for the same reason, because without it they cannot be like the multitude. The world is always wrong, and it . never repents; neither will he repent who conforms to it; the world will keep the impenitent sinner in countenance: there are so many of his own sort, that he »eed never be ashamed; and if it is like to be well with them all, he has nothing to be afraid of: but we know that the world, which lieth in wickedness, is to be condemned; and he that looks up to it as a rule will be condemned with it.

If you consider, that true repentance is a conversion from sin to a life of righteousness, you will be sure that it must be a work, not only of difficulty, but of time. It is in grace, as it is in nature: the grain conies to be fit for the harvest by slow degrees. The ground is first to be broken up by the plough j^theq it is to be sown; then follow the blades of corn; at fiift they are tender, and remain long upon the ground before the ears of corn are found upon them. This is a process which begins in the spring, and is not finished till late in the summer. It is thus with the Christian; the fallow ground of his heart must be broken up •by true contrition, before the seed of God's word which falls upon it can spring up, and bear fruit. Yet there are some people, who think they can be Christians all at once, when they please to find time for it. You never heard of a field that was ploughed, and sown, and full grown, and fit to be reaped, and all this in one day: and you never yet saw a Christian, who attained all at once to the life of grace. At the creation of the world, plants grew up instantly at the word of God; ,but no farmer of any sense expects that such a thing will happen now. So, at the beginning of the gospel, Paul, by a miracle of which he had no expectation, and against his own will, was a' complete Christian in a few days: but the like is not to be expected now, any more than that God should raise up the fruits of the earth as he did at the creation of the world. As be would be a foolish husbandman, who should neglect his land, and let the weeds grow till midsummer, and presume that God will give him a crop by a miracle at the harvest; so must he needs be a foolish Christian, who puts off-the great work of reformation to the close of his life, till the opportunity, and the accepted season of grace, is lost: who thinks the good seed of God's word may take effect in a heart, where sin has been striking its roots deeper and deeper every year: who thinks, that the religion of Christ may be learned at,a time of life, when few men,

« AnteriorContinuar »