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to escape from the irksome trammels of Christ's yoke and service, and willing are such to keep their consciences tranquil while they indulge their sinful lusts, and run riot in ungodly ways, by inventing false glosses for alarming texts of Scripture, or adopting those which have been conceived by clearer fools than themselves, and thus they manage to hoodwink the eyes of faith; and when they have by dint of some wretched sophistry contrived, as they flatter themselves, to wrest the thunderbolts of Jehovah's wrath from his holy and Almighty hand, and to extinguish those intolerable flames of the fiery abyss which he hath kindled for his enemies, then they sit down with selfcomplacency and composure to enjoy a full table of sensual delights and carnal divertisements. To what shall we liken this folly? To what but that of the bird of the desert, who being hard pressed by the hunters, hides her head in some small bush, which is at hand, and fancies her large bulk to be placed in safe concealment, because she can no longer see with her eyes the danger which threatens. So with the miserable dupes of a miserable delusion, while they are wilfully oblivious of the impending danger, it will be found that though they dream of safety, nevertheless, to employ the language of St. Peter, “ their judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2 Peter ii. 3.) Oh! if there is any one bere present who has been comforting his poor soul in the lap of sinful pleasure, by the thought that the wrath of God revealed from heaven against such ways and doings as worldly men follow, will not burn to the lowermost hell, or will not burn for ever, to such an one I would say, what more direct assertions of the everlastingness of divine wrath can you reasonably require, than those you find in the Scriptures, the Oracles of God. If you read the Bible, but I fear you do not, you would find this very solemn truth set forth in the way of express and reiterated affirmation; and, moreover, implied and involved in numerous other passages of holy writ. What, I ask you, did Isaiah mean when he spoke of the devouring fire and everlasting burnings in which sinners and hypocrites might well fear to dwell ? and of wrath upon transgressors, for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched-(Isaiah xxxiii, 14, and Ixvi. 24)—which Christ repeats after him, and that three times. Will any quibble about the meaning of the term everlasting, and insinuate that it does not necessarily mean infinite duration; to such, I would say, how futile is your subterfuge, when there are passages in the Bible in which the same doctrine is expressed in other terms, as in the passage already cited, “Where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched.” By the general consent of the church of Christ through all generations, the word in the Greek, which is translated eternal and everlasting, has been held to express infinite duration ; and it is not consistent with the wisdom and mercy of God to suffer his people to continue all along in error upon so important a point. St. Paul declares that there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin to afford hope and salvation to those who have rejected Christ. Our Lord declares, that the rich man in hell had not one drop of water allowed him to cool his parched tongue, which evidently signifies that there is not the least hope or comfort for those who are cast into prison as debtors to Divine justice. The second death is a death of
infinite duration; it is not the extinction of existence, but it is the infliction of
O, now let me earnestly press upon you the consideration of eternal judgment, and the wisdom of preparing for it. Repent and obey the gospel, lay hold of Christ, that through his word and blood, his righteousness and Holy Spirit you may, being delivered from the wrath to come, be a people prepared for the Lord at his second Advent. (Luke i. 17.) Remember the warning conveyed by him through the parable of the servant, who, when he knew his lord's will, prepared not himself, and was therefore, and justly, beaten with many stripes. (Luke xii. 47.) Oh, then, “prepare to meet thy God." Cultivate that lively faith, whereby you may habitually look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, remembering that the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. It is the eternity, the infinite duration of the things which the gospel reveals, which makes it the everlasting gospel. It speaks to you of an Eternal God and an Everlasting Saviour, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. It lays before you everlasting life, and eternal death. It promises you, as believers in Jesus, everlasting righteousness, wrought out and brought in by his obedience unto death; of a hope full of life and immortality, it speaks invitingly; it offers you everlasting consolation through grace; it promises an Eternal Spirit for a Comforter, and a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory to be revealed. It engages for your support everlasting arms to bear you through the deep waters of death, and an incorruptible crown, and abiding mansion in those heavens, in which the righteous shall shine as the sun, and the stars for ever and ever. “ The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." “ The wicked passeth as the whirlwind,” says the wise man, “but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.” (Proverbs x. 25.) Almighty God impresses the seal of his own everlastingness upon the celestial felicities of his saints—and not one jewel shall ever drop from the diadem of their unspeakable glory. What blessedness is theirs—so exalted, so fixed, so perfect, so enduring. Behold the righteous, the accepted of the Lord, who standing at the right hand of their Judge, have heard the acceptable words “Come ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you fron the foundation of the world”—now retiring from the court of eternal judgment with
songs of joy and gladness; for them the gates of heaven lift up their everlasting doors, and angel voices welcome, as they enter in. Henceforth and for ever they are freed from every cause of pain and sorrow-sin, death, and the curse are for them eternally abolished ; they shall weep no more, for God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; the former things are passed away, and a new era begins of uninterrupted bliss and ineffable glory. They have now attained to the mark for the prize of their high calling in Christ Jesus. And little do they reck of the tribulations they were once called to endure; the transient labour pangs of this new and heavenly birth. Here they shall be “ for ever with the Lord,” for ever and ever, drinking in life and joy without stint and without interruption; basking for ever in the unclouded sunshine of the Divine countenance; having blessed experience of the fruition of the Triune Jehovah. Eternity rolls onward its countless ages, but when millions of millions of those ages have lapsed, still their overflowing cup of heavenly delights is not diminished by one drop; their fulness of joy is not less full, and the rivers of pleasures which are at God's right hand are still flowing on in the same abundant stream of blessing. On the other hand, let us view the awful weight which eternity attaches to the condemnation of the wicked ; the very mention of which is enough to make both the ears to tingle of those who do not love God, and to fill them with overwhelming terrors, and make them quake exceedingly. “There shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth,” says the mild and gracious Jesus, who “came into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." There. Do you ask where? There, where the enemies of God lie under the intolerable burden of his fierce and fiery indignation for ever, shut out from the glory of his presence, and from the heavenly city, in “ the blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 13.) Sinner, who now hardenest thyself against the fear of the Lord and the mercy of Christ, think wilt thou then be able to hold it out bravely when the lash of his vengeance smites thee, and the pit of hell is opened for thee? What saith God by his prophet—(Ezekiel xxii. 14.) “ Can thine heart endure, or can thy hands be strong in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it.” Ye who sin against an infinite God. anticipate infinite wrath at his hands, unless you repent, unless you accept the infinite atonement of Christ; unless you fly for refuge to the hope set before you. If you will not repent of your sins now, he will not repent of your sufferings hereafter. Now is the acceptable time, and day of salvation; now is the hour of God's long suffering, but the season will come for your long suffering; thou shalt suffer long for thy abusing the long suffering of God. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ?" O, consider this ye that forget God, and provoke him who is a consuming fire. Arrogant sinners now disdain to tremble at the Word of God. Satan tempts us to despise that which himself cannot despise; even “devils believe and tremble.” Witness their horror, when the Holy Jesus, whom they recognised as their appointed Judge, drew near and spoke to them. They cried by the mouth of the possessed man, “I beseech thee, lorment me not; I adjure thee, by God, torment me not.” Well, they know what eternal fire is prepared for them and their servants. Beware lest devils rise up against thee in the judgment, unbelieving sinner, and condemn thee.
O, that men would be wise, and consider what a terrible thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God, i.e. the everlasting God, “For the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. xxi. 8.) Yet there are some of you who make light of the gospel and walk in your own ways, and promise yourselves peace. What have you made an agreement with hell? Have you made a covenant with death ? Have you put far from you the evil day? You may fancy so, you may congratulate yourselves to such effect; nevertheless, you will at last find it quite otherwise. These are everlasting realities, which are momentarily approaching. Every tick of the clock diminishes the distance between you and them. The hour is at hand, in which the hail will sweep away your refuge of lies, and where will you be then ? Be advised of this, as truth is truth, and God is God, so surely he that cometh will come, and will not tarry; the Lord Christ will be revealed in great power and glory, and every eye shall see hiin, he shall execute universal and eternal judgment, “ who will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” (Romans ii. 6—9.) Turn thou us, then, good Lord, and so shall we be turned. Spare thy people whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood; and from all contempt of thy word and commandments, and from thy wrath, and everlasting damnation, good Lord deliver us. And let the humble believer rejoice. Blessed be God “there is no condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
THE CRY OF THE HEATHEN.
DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, APRIL 25TH, 1858, BY THE
"And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us." -Acts xvi. 9. This was no doubt a special vision sent of God for the direction of the apostle. For we are told in the next verse, that they assuredly gathered from this visiou, that the Lord had called them to preach the gospel in Macedonia. And yet the vision may be very readily accounted for by natural causes. Men usually dream of that which is most upon their minds. Who would marvel that the miser should, in his restless sleep, be pictured to his own sight as counting over his gold? Who wonders that the mother's dream is often concerning her fair infant? Who marvels that the wife frequently dreams of shipwrecks, when, in the stormy night, she lies upon her bed, her last thoughts having been exercised concerning her husband at sea ? You wonder not that the soldier in the trenches dreams of battle. And hence we cannot marvel that the apostle Paul, whose whole soul was full of his Master's cause, should have a vision in the night concerning a new field of labour, which God had intended to open up to him. You will remember that the apostle was, on this occasion, in a peculiar condition. He at first endeavoured to preach the gospel in Phrygia and Galatia, but he was forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in Asia. And “after they had come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not." The apostle was like Abraham of old; he went forth, not knowing whither he went. There was a certain path which he must take, and when he strove to turn either to the right hand or to the left, the Spirit directly forbade him, and he was compelled to go on till he came to the sea-port of Troas. There, wearied with his journey, he cast himself upon his couch, and in the midst of the night a vision appeared unto him. A man who by his brogue and his dress was discovered to be a Macedonian, said to him, “Come over and help us.” God sometimes tells men in their sleep the secret they could not discover when they were awake. We have heard of the preacher who, tired late on Saturday evening, has been unable to think of a discourse, in the middle of the night has dreamed it
through, and on the morrow has ascended his pulpit and preached it. What wonder • then, that the apostle Paul, specially directed by the Spirit of God, after all day
long wearily exercising his mind as to the journey God intended him to take, should, after all, when in his sleep, have a vision from on high, teaching him where he should go.