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"LOOK AND LIVE."
JOHN III. 14.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
SIN has produced the misery sinners endure, and the approaching everlasting death that they fear. As murmuring at the light food upon which God fed them in the desert brought down the judgment, so the wisdom and goodness of God must provide the remedy. The brazen serpent was of Divine contrivance, and illustrated "him who was to be lifted up upon the cross" and draw all nations unto him.
1. The remedy God provides is the only one. The Israelites who were bitten of the fiery flying serpent, perished, every soul of them, unless they looked to him that was lifted up.
2. The remedy bore resemblance to the instrument of the plague. So Christ had on the same nature with the race that fell.
3. There must be confidence in the prescription. The serpent healed none but such as expected help from that source. So there must be saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or men will not be healed from the deadly plagues of sin.
4. There was something to be done in proof of that confidence. They must look to the brazen serpent that was put upon the pole, or else the wound rankled, and death ensued.
5. In both cases the remedy was simple: "Look and live."
6. There seemed no connection between the wondrous look and the restoration procured.
1. The ease with which sinners may have life is no security that they shall live. We are not told of any that looked to the brazen serpent and lived, but are only told that when "they looked they lived."
2. How wanton must have been the death of any that died. Either they would not look until they were blind, or had not faith enough to look and procure the salvation desired, and must have gone down to the grave the most wanton horde of suicides that perished in the desert.
3. The agency that we should exert to induce sinners to look to Christ, is beautifully illustrated in the ease with which they could save their dying friends. There seemed no need that any should die. The serpent was set up for the whole camp and in the sight of all.
MATTHEW xxv. 41.
Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
THERE will yet come a day of righteous retribution. Men may try not to believe it, but still the day rolls on. Every beating pulse brings it nearer. On that dreadful day the Lord Jesus will sit in judgment on the conduct of men.
Then sinners will receive their sentence from his lips. There will be gathered together before him all nations.
I. Let us anticipate and review this sentence-Depart from me, ye cursed.
That the sinner will see what must be his sentence in the very first line of that destiny.
He must depart from Christ, and from the very presence of his holiness; it need not be said that this will be away from heaven, and from glory.
There will not be merely the idea of banishment, but of banishment from all that is good and holy.
There will also be the idea of a wo following, for they are to depart accursed. Hence the finger of scorn will be pointed at them in whatever world they retire. And this will be the most dreadful ingredient in their everlasting destruction; for if there is any one part of the creation that is more accursed than another, it will be the world of death.
If any kingdom should have occasion to export any considerable portion of its population, there would follow such convicts to the world of their exile, the hard thoughts, and corroding reflections, and the imprecations of all the civil, and decent, and sober portion of that community, to light upon them, and rest upon them, and
be the eternal associates of their exile. And it would write the history of their character and destiny in darker and blacker lines than any other picture of their waywardness.
O! if the sinner could but look back and beckon heaven into sympathy and into tears, it would mitigate the most appalling feature of his exile.
But he must go, accursed of angels and of men; and if even devils do not join in the curse, and the execration, it will be well for his poor soul.
II. They are to go accursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
Here the ruined of the human family must go into a world that was not prepared for them; not for a wo that they did not deserve, for this can never happen under the government of God, but prepared for the devil and his angels. As if man could not have been expected, after a Savior was offered, to have so sinned as to deserve this destiny, and come to this ruined and wretched world.
And if angels will have their theme of everlasting sympathy over the wayward and the lost, much of that sympathy will be spent on that very case.
Now if men can have the presumption to say, that there will be no fire connected with their everlasting destruction, they can have their own opinion, as to the means by which a punishment thus expressed shall be inflicted.
III. This sentence will be pronounced with the authority of the Lord Jesus himself, the very Savior that used to weep over sinners, and say, "O that thou hadst hearkened unto my commandments, then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea." And this, it seems to me, will be one of the most aggravated circumstances of the lost sinner's wo, that his sentence was pronounced by the very lips of the pardoning Redeemer. But I remark,
IV. This sentence will be publicly issued, in the presence of assembled worlds. It will not be done in the corner. It will not be like those private executions that take place within the walls of a prison. The report will go out and be advertised through the lowest caverns of hell. And it will also be reported amid the throngs of the blessed in heaven, and they will all know how miserable this section of the human family have made themselves.
1. The great wo of their condemnation will be, that sinners will go, convinced that their condemnation is just. "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant."
2. It is not the worst of sinners only that will be thus condemned, but the very best of sinners; men who cannot remember that they have ever treated unkindly the Son of God.
While he will say to them, "I was a hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick and in prison, and ye visited me not." "And yet this same Jesus made all the worlds, and is the proprietor of the cattle upon a thousand hills."
And when this truth shall glare upon the worlds, and shall be written upon the disc of every star; and there is opportunity to compare this with the conduct of the sinner, how, in bold relief, will his iniquities stand out to view!
In the mean time, they will not be able to recollect that they ever, in any case, turned a hungry beggar from their door.
Probably many, who will be the subjects of this condemnation, were the professed ollowers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and many served at his altar. There will be heard, at least, this murmur, "We have eaten and drunken in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets;" but he will add, "I know you not." "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
3. It hardly need be said, that when this sentence is issued, the culprit will go despairing.
They will feel as if they had turned their backs upon the who e civilized world, and that the whole civilized world have turned their backs upon them.
O, who that has human feelings can but stop and wail over this wide-spread desolation and ruin! "They were flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone." Many of them, perhaps, went from our families and our firesides down to that unspeakable wo.
Truly the world of death will be a dark spot in the moral creaation of God!!
MATTHEW VIII. 34.
And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coast.
THE Lord Jesus sometimes retired from the multitude, that he might rest from the fatigue of constant labor. On one occasion, he directed the disciples to carry him over the lake, where on his arrival, he had opportunity to cast out the devils who possessed two men. The devils, having besought him to let them enter a herd of swine, he did so, and they all ran down into the sea and perished. The people, afflicted with their loss, prayed him to depart out of their coast.
The subject will furnish me an occasion to show why a people sometimes suffer the Lord Jesus to depart from them, after he has been present to revive and save them.
Let the question be, why do revivals of religion subside?
I. Because even the people of God have not fully appreciated their value to themselves, or to the world around them, dying in a mass in their iniquities.
Revivals are their watering, their growing seasons." But for them, our Christians would die before they had made much advancement in holiness, and half had failed of heavenly happiness.
II. They are not as much revived as the occasion demands, or as they seem to be, and are held up to unnatural exertions, which are required beyond their feelings. The bow is bent to unnatural intensity. They are tired of the work of gathering in such an abundant harvest.
III. There are sacrifices demanded of them that they are not willing longer to endure; they would fold their hands and lie down and rest; they are tired of the call any longer to perpetual exertion, and would say, "A little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to sleep," forgetting that God has added, "so shall thy poverty come."
IV. They imagine that the work must subside of course. Showers cannot last through the year. Past revivals have all gone over.
V. They persuade themselves that they have done pretty well already. They have worked hard several months.