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all finite existences. The present life and state of all creatures are the results of past causes. The condition of each plant and animal to-day is the effect of yesterday. There is nothing living, on which you can fix your eyes, that is not to-day the effect of all the causes and influences that have been operating on it from the beginning of its existence. This is true of the globe itself. Its condition to-day is the result of all the forces that have been acting upon it through the most distant periods of geological calculation. This is true of the intellect. The state of my intellect at this hour is the result of all the thoughts that have ever coursed their way through my soul. This law holds true in relation to character. The character of every man this day is at once the expression and effect of all the influences he has ever felt, of all the actions he has ever performed. Nothing that man does ever dies; no act terminates in itself ; it makes an everlasting impression ; it becomes an element in the moral existence of its author; it sends its vibrations along the lines of the endless future. Man’s life, is not like a dew-drop falling on the rock, soon exhaled by the sun; but it is like a river-its present state is the result of its past; its strength, and color, and character, are the result of the soil through which it has passed, the contributory streams that have flown into it, and the winds that have rippled its surface or stirred its depths. Thus our “works follow us ;" and if a wicked man is to live in the future, his works must follow him with a crushing and withering influence. Thus it is that the sinner by a necessary law "treasures up wrath against the day of wrath."
Fourthly: The function of memory insures it. Memory is a power which by a necessary law of mind is constantly calling up vividly to our hearts our past lives. If the past did not entail on us its influence, did not in fact enter into the very life of the present, memory would nevertheless connect us with it. We never lose our yesterdays. Memory gathers up the fragments of our bygone years, so that "nothing is lost.” The wave of oblivion will roll over no part of our past life. Scarcely a day transpires now in which some little suggestive incident does not occur to throw us back upon some past portion of our lives. Sometimes a word, a name, a sound, a tree, a plant, a flower, a pebble, will bring back to the mind all the young and wild days of childhood. Memory has now its resurrections; rarely an hour departs in which some grave does not open, and the ghost of some long-buried event or act does not start to life. As ocean prints her undulations on the shore, memory prints its actions and events on the soul:
:-a tablet this, not like sand, but like eternal adamant. Thus we may presume that, as in the present so in the future, events will be constantly happening that will call up to memory the past doings of our life. As the Jews of old, in the land of exile, beheld the Babylonian river, and then thought upon the Jordan of their own land, and then upon the signal privileges of their Canaan home, and thus got surcharged with those sorrowful emotions, which impelled them to hang their harps on the willows, and beneath the bending branches mingle their tears in the bosom of the rolling stream ; so the exiled sinner in the awful forever, as he sees the river of eternity rolling on, mirroring on its swelling wave the events of time, will "remember his transgressions, and be grieved."
Fifthly: Social affinities suggest it. There are certain principles which determine our social alienation or attraction. The carnal and the spiritual, the generous and the selfish, the base and the noble, the profane and the pious, mutually shun each other. Their diversity constitutes a principle of mutual repulsion. This principle exists here as the basis of all social connexions. Will it not exist in the future? If we exist, must it not exist ?— It is a part of ourselves. Can it be supposed that they who cannot live together here will commingle for ever in the future? Will a Herod have the same home as a John the Baptist ? A Nero as a Paul ? Can it be that the debauchees, the persecutors, and murderers—the Henries, the Jeffreys, Lauds, and Bonners, will mingle with the great benefactors of the race and the true
saints of God ? No, no, it cannot be; all men, like Judas, shall be conducted to their "own place.”
I have thus referred to a few considerations, which apart from the Bible, are sufficient to satisfy me that there is future retribution for the wicked. I have done so because, some of the highest literary productions of the day are ever zealous in propagating the idea that the principle of retribution is adequately administered here; that every sin a man commits carries with it at once its full punishment; that the sinner pays his debt as he goes on in life, and that there is no outstanding account to be settled in the great hereafter ; that if there be punishment in the future, the punishment will be for the sins that will be committed in the future, and not for the sins that have been committed in the past. I am ready to grant that the principle of retribution is developed here; that a man even here, consciously or unconsciously, injures himself by every trespass he commits; but I deny that, it is adequately and fully administered. The supposition, to say nothing of its opposition to the Bible, is—(1) Opposed to consciousness. I ask you to single out one individual man whose conscience tells him that he has fully endured the sufferings due to his sin. If sinners felt this, would there be any forebodings of the future? The testimony of universal conscience is, that there is an immense account to settle in the hereafter ;-tremendous arrears to discharge in the ages that are to come. It stands opposed (2) To the tendency of sin in this life, which is to harden the moral sensibilities. As a fact, the more men sin the less they feel compunction for sin ; so that if all the retribution was here, we have this anomaly under the righteous government of God, that the more a man sins the less he shall suffer. It stands opposed—(3) To analogy. The violation of physical law does not always bring immediate and full retribution. A farmer neglects the laws of agriculture in the Spring ;-Summer will come and Autumn pass away ; but in the dreary Winter he will feel the penalty. The violation of organic laws does not always entail immediate and full retribution. The youth violates the laws of health in the Spring of life, and often it is not until old age comes on, that the penalty is fully felt, and that he is made to feel that he possesses in his shattered constitution “the sins of his youth.” The violation of political laws does not always bring full and immediate retribution. Unrighteous governments may succeed each other for ages, but retribution comes at last. Thus we may rest assured it is with the moral history of individual man. Away with this flimsy dream of a flippant philosophy. There is a “treasuring up of wrath.” Sin is like the thunder storm in the sky; for awhile it dwells serenely in some small cloud-electricity gradually accumulates, the clouds darken and spread, until the wide expanse of Heaven is covered with a gloom, under which the whole creation grows still with boding fear;—at length it bursts, and the affrighted world is beaten with its fury. The first sin is a little cloud ; a nucleus which gathers to itself every subsequent act of iniquity, until at length it mantles the whole firmament of the soul in one dense storm-cloud.
The other grand thought contained in the text is :
II. THAT THE WAY TO ESCAPE THIS TERRIBLE HELL SHOULD BE A SUBJECT OF DEEP CONCERN TO EVERY MAN. “How shall we escape ?” This is the question that should press on all hearts. As mistakes on this question are prevalent and inexpressibly dangerous, I shall begin the answer to it in a negative form.
First : Merely intending it will not do. All intend escaping hell. The mere intention is an evil. It prevents men from feeling, as they otherwise would, the terribleness of their present position ; and also renders ineffective the most powerful appeals. Intentions that lead not to corresponding efforts, are worse, I say, than useless ;--they delude, they ensnare. Of what avail to the master are the good intentions of his servant? Of what service to the state are the good intentions of the statesman ? Are the fields cultured, or does commerce prosper, by good intentions ? Do men ever
grow wealthy or wise by good intentions ? How then can hell be avoided by good intentions ? “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father.”
Secondly: Mere formal worship will not do. You may have rules for worship distinguished by great scriptural propriety, to which you conform with the greatest precision. Morning dawn and evening shade may find you on your knees; in your family your domestics may mark the regularity of your devotions ; in the temple you may always be found in your seat, and blending your voice in the great congregation; but if you are not penetrated with the true spirit of religion, your formal services are a sin and an injury -you debase your moral nature—you insult your
God. The Scribes and Pharisees did all this ; yet Jesus said, "Except your righteousness," &c.
Thirdly: Sacramental observances will not do. Christianity has rites, but they are few, simple, and significant. No ritual, either Jewish or Christian, was intended to be a mystic channel to convey grace; but a symbol to express a truth. A selfish priesthood, however, has diverted sacraments from their original intention. In the Papal Church there is a class of men who impiously arrogate the power of delivering men from hell, by the administration of certain rites. Let men but receive baptism and the Lord's Supper from their consecrated hands, and they are saved. Would that this soul-destroying superstition were confined to Rome! We have it in what is called Protestant England, and in some sections of the Protestant Church of this Protestant Island. Do not apostolic succession, baptismal regeneration, priestly absolution, episcopal confirmation, imply the possession of a power by the priest to make men religious ? At death beds there are those who will administer the Lord's supper to such as have lived a life of iniquity, and then commit them to the grave in a full and certain hope of a glorious resurrection. Love for souls, fidelity to truth, reverence for human reason, and the God of reason, impel