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succeed in substantiating our guilt, God has sworn to punish us according to our deserts, and the utmost rigour of the law; not only in presence of our accuser, but of the whole assembled world. Woe unto us, if there be any one with a well-founded complaint against us! Woe unto us, though there should only be a single voice, and that the most insignificant in heaven or on earth, that can with truth accuse us! Even on their account, the holy and just One would condemn us! Let us consider this, and then judge in what a state we find ourselves by nature. Perhaps ye may think, however, that nothing exists in the world able to appear against us with well-founded accusations. Alas, my brethren! there are accusing voices in all places, and on every side ; voices against us both in earth and heaven; 'accusers from the circle of the living, and from the tombs of the dead; condemning voices in hell, and condemning voices even in our own bosoms.
But, above all, there is the law : “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father," said our Saviour ; “there is one that accuseth you, even Moses." His ten commandments are so many witnesses against us, and so many accusers. Not one of them has seen its demands fulfilled by us; not one of them can give any other testimony than that we have trampled it under foot. Like ten armed men, they approach against us; like ten ministers of vengeance, they drag us forward with wild curses. Not one of them has compassion ; not one of them
“ The others have sufficiently accused him, I will therefore be silent!" No one
troubles himself about another ; but they all rush upon us, like a concourse of creditors on their debtors : each one grasps what he finds, only trying to indemnify himself. They all seek their rights, and they all narrate our guilt; they join in summoning us before the tribunal of heaven, and demanding satisfaction for the profanation which they have suffered ; and they are all bent on our entire and eternal rejection. Our own conscience now joins in the general accusation, and ranges itself beside Moses. I am aware that in many of us it is still asleep; but look ye to it, my brethren, for it is a sleeping lion. I know that there are people to whom it has never caused a pang ; but let these beware, for they carry a viper in their bosoms, which though it seem to be powerless, is only slumbering; and sooner or later, will awake to strangle them. There are some to whom their conscience, being led astray, bears an approving testimony : but, alas! there comes an hour when the deceiver will avenge himself! In others, it has already begun to murmur indistinctly a faint accusation : but this is not enough, and soon the murmur in their hearts becomes a cry louder than thunder, pealing in their ears, " Thou art a sinner !—a child of death-that is accursed by God!”
In the ranks of our accusers, stand also the angels of peace;
pure and holy beings sigh over our forgetfulness of God; and alas ! what an accusation against us there is even in those sighs! Zealous for the honour of Jehovah, they are horrified at the depth of our fall, and at our spiritual corruption; and this
very horror calls
God to condemn and reject us ! Even if those blessed spirits were silent with regard to our misdeeds, there is one who will not be silent, and whose interest lies in accusing us; he knows us not less than the blessed angels; for he was present when all our sins were committed. He it is that “ hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Surely ye know whom I mean; it is Satan, the god of this world, the accuser of the brethren, “ which accused them before our God day and night.” Think not that God will refuse to hear his voice ; for the Scripture teaches us the contrary.
The Eternal has willed that the prince of hell, with his angels of darkness, should pay him homage, and along with the rest of creation, acknowledge that he is just. For this reason he will not refuse him an audience; on the contrary, he will listen to his accusations, examine into their truth, and if they are well grounded, admit them. If, however, there were no such being as Satan in existence, there would still be no want of accusers. Our enemies, whose
presence we avoid, accuse us ; even those weak ones accuse us, whom, intentionally or unintentionally, we have led astray; the poor, against whom we have closed our hearts; the widows and orphans, whose tearful eyes we have not dried; the instructors to whose voices we would not listen; nay, although silently, even our own sons and daughters, to whom we may not have acted as we ought. Our whole life bears witness against us before the throne of God,
the very walls of our chamber accuse us, and repeat a long catalogue of our sins: and how terrible is it to think, that even what declares us to be righteous, in reality condemns us ! for all that praises us, praises us only because it knows not the true balance in which we ought to be weighed.
What think ye now, my brethren? Do ye believe that in spite of the crimes they have committed, the Eternal Judge will spare sinners, and permit his avenging sword to rest in its scabbard ? If he did so, he himself might be accused : he would then stand before the tribunal of his creatures, and sinners might appear against him, instead of his appearing against sinners. Justice and judgment would no longer be the foundation of his throne, and it would then be proved that his law and his denunciations had not been pronounced in earnest.
But this can never be so; the Bible tells us not only that all flesh has sinned, but that “judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” The sentence of God has been passed upon all transgressors, and they are all doomed by an inexorable Judge to undergo a terrible death. In Paradise, it was pronounced over our fallen first parents. At the Flood, thousands in a fearful manner experienced its execution. On Sinai, it was once more formally proclaimed, “ Cursed be he that continueth not in all the words of the law to do them !" On Ebal, this terrible denunciation displayed all its terrors. In the temple, we behold its symbol in the slaughter of the beasts for sacrifice. The prophets made the whole earth quake with its thunders. Christ, who had lain from all eternity in the bosom of the Father, confirmed it with his lips that cannot lie, and spake of the worm that never dies, and of the fire that is never quenched. Judas experienced the execution of this fearful sentence, for it had been better for him had he never been born. The spectacle of the rich man in flames and torment may help us to imagine its terrors; and all the apostles join their voices together in telling us, that by nature we are children of wrath, and deserving of eternal death.
What then are we? Prisoners on whom the sentence of death has been passed, and who can only expect a terrible end. We are lost creatures, to whom eternal pain and misery has been adjudged, in fire, with the devil and his angels. We carry our sentence about with us wherever we go, inscribed in an imperishable record, our names within, and God's seal confirming all. An appeal to another tribunal is absolutely impossible; and equally so is escape from our imprisonment, for God's all-piercing eye searcheth everywhere. A supplication to our judge to remit his sentence, would also be in vain, for it would be desiring nothing less than that he would sacrifice justice and truth to caprice, and divest himself of his purity and holiness.
The decree has been pronounced ; the sentence is fixed, and must be put into execution. O that ye all might deeply experience the awfulness of this truth! Many, however, are not aware that they carry about with them the document of their condemnation; and with light hearts, those unfortunate ones go amusing