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“ How long
your folly in crushing those thoughts, and in escaping from those self-suspicions ? Oh, you should listen to that monitor; you, for instance, who have heard the invitation to come to the table of the Lord, some of you who were here this morning, and yet have never come. Why not? Because you think you are not fit to be there. Granted ; and if not fit to be there, not fit to enter the kingdom and sit down with the Lainb. Will you be at ease ? Can you go home, and lie down in peace, and allow the dark night to find you as every dark night has found you? Will you give sleep to your eyes, and sleep, I may say, on the brink of eternal damnation? For that is your case. And conscience helps me here, for you have that within you, which tells you that the words I speak are the words of truth and soberness. halt ye between two opinions ?” Do not halt any longer. If the Devil be God serve him. If Jesus Christ has died for your sins, believe in him. If Jesus Christ has fulfilled the righteousness of the law, trust in him with all your hearts. Turn your back upon the world as virtuous Ruth did upon her father's land, and went with her mother Naomi, and said, “Thy God shall be my God." Take a step tonight, and, in the strength of the living God, determine from this time forth, in the words of one of old—“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Halt no longer, you know that God is with us to-night; you know that God ratifies what I say; you know in your consciences that what I am telling is the truth of the living God. “Come thou with us, and we will do thee good, for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel;”—aye, good concerning you. If you weep at the consciousness of sin, if you look back with sorrow at sin committed; I tell you, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be like wool, and though they be red as scarlet, that same blood will make them as the driven snow. Come now, and be saved. Turn from the world, and come into the Church of the living God!
One word to you that believe. “How long halt ye between two opinions ?” What is the reason you are so troubled and cast down from time to time? Worldly men feel no trouble about it; they are going to hell as fast as time and their own wicked hearts can carry them. Yet you, who have the evidences of conversion, who love the Lord, his people, bis day, his law, are troubled. “Ab,” you say, “there is the difficulty ; I do not love his law." Why not? “Because I am such a sinner. I feel, daily, corrupt lusts, evil passions, bad tempers, the cares of the world; I feel myself (it may be some will say) a monster of iniquity." Do you ? do your neighbours think that? What says your wife? what says your son? what says your servant? what says your father? Do these say you are a monster of iniquity? Ask them, and they say, "No, he is a devoted, faithful, and true Christian. Ask again, is she such a wretch as she thinks herself to be ? "Not in my eyes ; I see her early rising to find time to pray, because she has little time during the day; rather than lose her hour in communing with her Father, she will rise with the sun. I see her, for the good of the poor-in many instances not much poorer than herself—spending and being spent in their service.” Is she the wretch she thinks herself? does she call herself vile ? What saith He? “Behold, thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee." As we say of Jesus, “He is altogether lovely, and the fairest among ten thousand.” “I am black," sayest thou. He says, “ Thou art comely;" for he sees you not as you see yourself, but clothed in the imputed righteousness which he has wrought out for you. Come, now, halt no longer between two opinions. You know you are on the Lord's side; everybody knows it who knows you. You serve a leader; and not one day nor two days, not one year nor two years; you are always found in the right path. Nay, you are sometimes out of the path ; I am myself. I should be very miserable indeed if I took up some people's religion, When you are out of the path, he restores you again. David was out of the path sometimes ; Peter was out of the path, and yet Jesus restored bis soul. And you-you do wrong. I know you do; you would tell a lie if you said otherwise. The man who professes to be always in the right is either so ignorant as not to know good from evil, or he is false. "In many things we offend all.” The best saint that walks the earth is, by his own confession, a vile, polluted, worthless creature. And you feel that, do yon? Paul felt the same; and if every saint of God has felt the same, why you cannot be exempt from the common experience. No longer doubt, but believe; no longer fear, but rejoice; and no longer hesitate, but believe that he himself saith to you, by my mouth, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, and I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
The New Park Street Pulpit
GOD, THE ALL-SEEING ONE,
“Hell and destruction are before the Lord : how much more then the hearts of the children of men ?"
Proverbs xv. 11
You have often smiled at the ignorance of heathens who bow themselves before gods of wood and stone. You have quoted the words of Scripture, and you have said, “ Eyes have they, but they see not; ears have they, but they hear not.” You have therefore argued that they could not be gods at all, because they could neither see nor hear, and you have smiled contemptuously at the men who could so debase their understandings as to make such things objects of adoration. May I ask you one qnestion-but one? Your God can both see and hear: would your conduct be in any respect different, if you had a god such as those that the heathen worship? Suppose for one minute, that Jehovah, who is nominally adored in this land, could be (though it is almost blasphemy to suppose it) smitten with such a blindness, that he could not see the works and know the thoughts of man: would you then become more careless concerning him than you are now? I trow not. În nine cases out of ten, and perhaps in a far larger and sadder proportion, the doctrine of Divine Oinniscience, although it is received and believed, has no practical effect upon our lives at all. The mass of mankind forget God: whole nations who know his existence and believe that he beholds them, live as if they had no God at all. Merchants, farmers, men in their shops, and in their fields, husbands in their families, and wives in the midst of their households, live as if there were no God; no eye inspecting them; no ear listening to the voice of their lips, and no eternal mind always treasuring up the recollection of their acts. Ah! we are prictical Atheists, the mass of us; yea, all but those that have been born again, and have passed from death unto life, be their creeds what they may, are Atheists, after all, in life; for if there were no God, and no hereafter, multitudes of men would never be affected by the change; they would live the same as they do nowtheir lives being so full of disregard of God and his ways, that the absence of a God could not affect them in any great degree. Permit me, then, this morning, as God shall help me, to stir up your hearts; and may God grant that something I may say, may drive some of your practical Atheism out of you. I would endeavour to set before you, God the all-seeing one, and press upon your solemn consideration the tremendous fact, that in all our acts, in all our ways, and in all our thoughts, we are continually under his observing eye.
We have in our text, first of all, a great fact declared,—“Hell and destruction are before the Lord;" we have, secondly, a great fact inferred, -"How much more then the hearts of the children of men?"
1. We will begin with THE GREAT FACT WHICH IS DECLARED-a fact which furnishes us with premises from which we deduce the practical conclusion of the second sentence—“How much more then the hearts of the children of men?” The best interpretation that you can give of those two words, “hell” and “ destruction,” is, I think, comprehended in a sentence something like this.--" Deuth and hell are before the Lord." The separate state of departed spirits, and destruction, Abaddon,
as the Hebrew has it, the place of torment, are both of them, although solemnly mysterious to us, manifest enough to God.
1. First, then, the word here translated "hell,” might just as well be translated “ death,” or the state of departed spirits. Now, death, with all its solemn consequences, is visible before the Lord. Between us and the hereafter of departed spirits a great black cloud is hanging. Here and there, the Holy Spirit hath ma le chinks, as it were, in the black walk of separation, through which by faith we can see ; for he hath “revealed unto us by the Spirit” the things which "eye hath not seen nor ear heard,” and which the human intellect could never compass. Yet, what we know is but very little. When men die, they pass beyond the realm of our knowledge: both in body and in soul they go beyond our understandings. But God understands all the secrets of death. Let us divide these into several heads, and enumerate them.
God knows the burial places of all his people. He notes as well the restingplace of the man who is buried tombless and alone, as the man over whom a mighty mausoleum has been raised. The traveller who fell in the barren desert, whose body became the prey of the vulture, and whose bones were bleached in the sunthe mariner, who was wrecked far out at sea, and over whose corpse no dirge was ever wailed, except the howling of the winds, and the murmuring of the wild waves - the thousands who have perished in battle, unnumbered and unnoticed - the many who have died alone, amid dreary forests, frozen seas, and devouring snowstorms—all these, and the places of their sepulchre, are known to God. That silent grot within the sea, where pearls lie deep, where now the shipwrecked one is sleeping, is marked by God as the death-place of one of his redeemed; that place upon the mountain side, the deep ravine into which the traveller fell and was buried in a snow-drift, is marked in the memory of God as the tomb of one of the human race. No body of man, however it may have been interred or uninterred, has passed beyond the range of God's knowledge. Blessed be his name, if I shall die, and lie where the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep, in some neglected corner of the churchyard, I shall be known as well, and rise as well recognised by my glorious Father, as if interred in the cathedral, where forests of gothic pillars proudly stand erect, and where the songs of myriads perpetually salute high heaven. I shall be known as well as if I had been buried there in solemn pomp, and had been interred with music and with dread solemnities, and I shall be recognised as well as if the marble trophy and the famous pillar had been raised to my remembrance; for God knoweth no such thing as forgetfulness of the burying places of his children. Moses sleeps in some spot that eye hath not seen; God kissed away his soul, and he buried him where Israel could never find him, though they may have searched for him. But God knoweth where Moses sleeps; and if he knows that, he understands where all his children are hidden. Ye cannot tell me where is the tomb of Adam; ye could not point out to me the sleeping place of Abel. Is any man able to discover the tomb of Methuselah and those long-lived dwellers in the time before the flood? Who shall tell where the once-treasured body of Joseph now sleeps in faith? Can any of you discover the tombs of the kings, and mark the exact spot where David and Solomon rest in solitary grandeur ? No, those things have passed from human recollection, and we know not where the great and mighty of the past are buried; but God knoweth, for death and Hades are open before the Lord.
And again, further, not only does he know the place where they were buried, but he is cognizant of the history of all their bodies after sepulture or after death. It has often been asked by the infidel, “ How can the body of man be restored, when it may have been eaten by the cannibal, or devoured by wild beasts ?” Our simple reply is, that God can track every atom of it if he pleases. We do not think it necessary to resurrection that he should do so, but if he so willed it, he could bring every atom of every body that hath ever died: although it hath passed through the most complicated machinery of nature, and become entangled in its passage with plants and beasts, yea, and with the bodies of other men, God hath it still within the range of his knowledge to know where every atom is, and it is within the might of his Omnipotence to call every atom from its wandering, and restore it to its proper sphere, and rebuild the body of which it was a part. It is true, we could not track the dust that long since has mouldered. Buried with exactest care, preserved with the most scrupulous reverence, years passed away, ani the body of the monarch, which had long slept well guarded and protected,
was at last reached by the careless hand. The coffin had mouldered, and the metal was broken for the sake of its own value; a handful of dust was discovered, the last relics of one who was master of many nations. That dust by sacrilegious hand was cast in the aisle of the church, or thrown into the churchyard and blown by the winds into the neighbouring field. It was impossible for ever to preserve it; the greatest care was defeated; and at last the monarch was on a level with his slave, “ alike unknowing and unknown." But God knows where every particle of the handful of dust has gone: he has marked in his book the wandering of every one of its atoms. He hath death so open before his view, that he can bring all these together, bone to bone, and clothe them with the very flesh that robed them in the days of yore, and make them live again. Death is open before the Lord.
And as the body, so the soul when separated from the body is before the Lord. We look upon the countenance of our dying friend, and on a sudden a mysterious change passes over his frame. “His soul has fled,” we say. But have we any idea of what his soul is? Can we form even a conjecture of what the flying of that soul may be, and what the angust presence into which it is ushered when it is disentangled from its earthly coil? Is it possible for us to guess what is that state where spirits without bodies, perpetually blest, behold their God? It is possible for us to compass some imagination of what heaven is to be, when bodies and souls, reunited, shall before God's throne enjoy the highest bliss; but I do think, that so gross are our conceptions, whilst we are in our bodies, that it is almost, if not quite, impossible for any of us to form any idea whatever as to the position of souls, whilst in the disembodied state, between the hour of death and the time of resurrection,
“ This much, and this is all, we know,
They are supremely blest;
And with their Saviour rest."
But the best of the saints can tell us nothing more than this. They are blest, and in paradise they are reigning with their Lord. Brethren, these things are known to God. The separate state of the dead, the heaven of disembodied spirits, is within the gaze of the Most High, and at this hour, if so he pleased, he could reveal to us the condition of every man that is dead—whether he has mounted to Elysian fields, to dwell for ever in the sunlight of his Master's countenance, or has been plunged into hell, dragged down by iron chains, to wait in dreary woe the result of the awful trial, when - Depart ye cursed," must be the re-affirmation of a sentence once pronounced, and already in part endured. God understands the separate doom of every man's spirit before the great tribunal day-before the last sentence shall have been pronounced, death is open before the Lord.
2. The next word, "destruction," signifies hell, or the place of the damned. That also is open before the Lord. Where hell is, and what its miseries, we know not; except through a glass darkly," we have never seen the invisible things of horror. That land of terror is a land unknown. We have much reason to thank God that he has put it so far off from the habitations of living mortals, that the pains, the groans, the shrieks, the yells, are not to be heard here, or else earth itself would have become a hell, the solemn prelude and the ante-past of unutterable torment. God has put somewhere, far on the edge of his dominions, a fearful lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; into that he cast the rebel angels, who (though by a license they are now allowed to walk the earth) do carry a hell within their bosons, and are by-and-bye to be bound with chains, reserved in blackness and darkness for ever for them that kept not their first estate, but lifted the arm of their rebellion against God. Into that place we dare not look. Perhaps it would not be possible for any man to get a fair idea of the torments of the lost, without at once becoming mad. Reason would reel at such a sight of horror. One moment of listening the shrill screams of spirits tortured, might for ever drive us into the depths of despair, and make us only fit to be bound in chains whilst we lived on earth. Raving lunatics surely we must become. But whilst God has mercifully covered all these things from us, they are all known to him; he looks upon them; yea, it is his look that makes hell what it is. His eyes, full of tury, flash the liglitnings that scathe lis enemies; his lips, full of dreadful thunders, make the thunders that now affright the wicked. Oh! could they escape the eye of God, could they shut out that dreary vision of the face of the incensed Majesty of heaven, then might hell be quenched; then might the wheels of Ixion stand still; then might doomed Tantalus quench his thirst and eat to his very full. But there, whilst they lie in their chains, they look upwards, and they see ever that fearful vision of the Most High; the dreadful hands that grasp the thunderbolts, the dreadful lips that speak the thunders, and the fearful eyes that flash the flames that burn their souls, with horrors deeper than despair. Yes, hell, horrible as it is, and veiled in many clouds, and covered over with darkness, is naked before the vision of the Most High.
There is the grand fact stated—“Hell and destruction are before the Lord." After this the inference seems to be easy—“How much more then the hearts of the children of men?"
II. We now come to the GREAT FACT INFERRED. In briefly entering upon this second part I will discuss the subject thus: You notice there an argument—“ How much more then the hearts of the children of men?” I will therefore begin by asking, why does it follow that the hearts of men are seen by God? Why-how-what-when-shall be four questions into which we shall divide what we have now to say.
1. Why is it so clear, that “ if hell and destruction are open before the Lord," the hearts of men must be very plainly viewed by him?
We answer, because the hearts of men are not so extensive as the realms of death and torment. What is man's heart? what is man's self? Is he not in Scripture compared to a grasshopper? Does not God declare that he "takes up the isles”—whole islands full of men—"as a very little thing. And the nations before him are but as the drop of a bucket?" If, then, the all-seeing eye of God takes in at one glance the wide regions of death, -and wide they are, wide enough to startle any man who shall try to range them through,—if I say, with one glance God seeth death and seeth hell through, with all its hottomless depths, with all its boundlessness of misery, surely, then, he is quite able to behold all the actions of the little thing called man's heart. Suppose a man so wise as to be able to know the wants of a nation and to remember the feelings of myriads of men, you cannot suppose it difficult for him to know the actions of his own family and to understand the emotions of his own household. If the man is able to stretch his arm over a great sphere, and to say, “I am monarch of all this,” surely he shall be able to control the less. He who in his wisdom can walk through centuries shall not say that he is ignorant of the history of a year; he who can dive into the depths of science, and understand the history of the whole world from its creation, is not to be alarmed by some small riddle that happens at his own door. No, the God who seeth death and hell seeth our hearts, for they are far less extensive.
Reflect again, that they are far less aged too. Death is an ancient monarch; he is the only king whose dynasty stands fast. Ever since the days of Adam he has never been succeeded by another, and has never had an interregnum in his reign. His black ebon sceptre hath swept away generation after generation; his scythe hath mowed the fair fields of this earth a hundred times, and is shar; to mow us down, and when another crop shall succeed us he is still ready to devour the multitudes, and sweep the earth clean again. The regions of death are old domains; his pillars of black granite are ancient as the eternal hills. Death made his prey on earth long ere Adam was here. Those mighty creatures that made the deep hoary with their strength, and stirred the earth with their tramplingsthose elder born of nature's sons, the mighty creatures that lived here long ere Adam walked in Eden-death made them his prey: like a mighty hunter he speared the mighty lizard and laid it low, and now we dig it from the stony tomb, and wonder at it. He is our ancient monarch; but ancient as he is, his whole monarchy is in the records of God, and until death itself is dead, and swallowed up in victory, death shall be open before the Lord. How old, too, is hell!-old as the first sin. In that day when Satan tempted the angels, and led astray the third part of the stars of heaven, then hell was digged; then was that bottomless pit first struck out of solid rocks of vengeance, that it might stand a marvellous record of what God's wrath can do. The fires of hell are not the kindlings of yesterday: they are ancient flames that burned long ere Vesuvius cast forth its Turid fame. Long ere the first charred ashes fell upon the plain from earth's red volcanoes, hell's flames were burning; for “Tophet is prepared of old, the pile thereof is wood and much smoke; the breath of the Lord like a stream of