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ed transgressor ; and must expect, therefore, to be consigned at last, with the loss of his immortal soul, to the same “lake of fire and brimstone." When we consider the doctrine, which seems a perfectly scriptural one, of gradation in the scale of celestial blessedness and glory,—the other forces itself on our convictions by parity of reason, viz., that there will, in like manner, be degrees of wretchedness more or less intense, but all of them intolerably so, in the world of retribution and despair. Infallible justice will apportion to each of us at last our final and irrevocable doom, according to the measure of our faith and works, and our improvement or otherwise of the privileges bestowed upon us, “ during this the day of our merciful visitation.” At all events, one thing is indisputable, that precisely as an earthly prince exercises more signal clemency towards a decided and honest enemy, than a subject of his own realm, who, under the mask of loyalty, and the colours of a false allegiance, has rebelled against his government, so our heavenly Sovereign will, at his dread appearing, surrounded by the hosts above, inflict, we may reasonably suppose, a less outpouring of his s indignation and wrath, of tribulation and anguish,” upon those who, having never “ tasted the good things of the world to come,” were slothful and unfruitful in his service, than he will on them, who, having felt a Saviour's “ yoke to be easy, and his burden light,” yet yielded not the required obedience to his precepts, and were found slumbering at the post of duty. Thus, the Blessed Jesus did not blame the heathen judge who publicly gave him over for condemnation and death to the Jewish rulers and rabble, with nearly so much severity as that professing but privileged disciple who betrayed him. To Pilate the Lord said, “ He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin ;" but with respect to Judas, the awful declaration was, “Wo to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed : good were it for that man, if he had never been born !” To the same effect has it also been stated by the Saviour,—" And that servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes; for unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required !” And, still farther, we find this remarkable passage,~“Cast ye forth the unprofitable servant”-not him merely who has abused his “ talents,” but him also who, though free from more scandalous delinquencies, hath turned those " talents” to no useful account in his heavenly Master's employment—" Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there is weeping and gnashing of teeth !” There may, I grant, be men amongst us, who, possessing every privilege, and favoured with all manner of opportunities, exceed even the conduct and criminality of those that are “lukewarm” only, and indifferentmen, who eagerly follow after wickedness in opposition to the clearest decisions and most claimant remonstrances of conscience, and are, consequently, “ treasuring up for themselves” a more tremendous load of future punishment, than the characters to whom the text refers. Still, brethren, we affirm, that Christians,
who are not active, zealous, and diligent for the glory of Christ, and the good of their own souls, but hang in listless suspense between the renunciation altogether of “ the truth as it is in Jesus,” and the strenuous exemplification of it in their lives, do voluntarily, and by suicidal hand, cut themselves off from the divine mercy and approbation, and will, for it is unnecessary to dwell longer on the different measures of eternal vengeance—since every infliction there. of is overwhelming and interminable-find themselves, at the hour of final retribution, doomed, in common with the most abandoned of their fellow-men, to those dread abodes, immeasurably remote from the radiance of Jehovah's countenance, and the cheering accents of his forgiveness and favour—where, in addition to all the elements of material and bodily suffering-sinful and malignant passions, sufficient of themselves to make a hell of intolerable intenseness, will reign and rage with uncontrolled dominion ; where every tie that united the guilty victim to the wise, the good, and the happy upon earth, shall be entirely dissevered; where his own and the accumulating depravity of fallen angels and of reprobate men, will at once create and perpetuate the misery; and where even hope itself, the last stay and solace of the wretched, will be for ever extinct. I ask, then, if “ lukewarmness” of spirit be a safe or sane temper as to a future condition of unending weal or woe-a temper against which, equally as against the grossest and most presumptuous profligacy, the terrible judgments of the Almighty are revealed - a temper, involving the ruin of the soul itself—that divine, undying principle within us, destined for everlasting duration, whether in heaven or in hell, in a blessed or an undone eternity ; in boundless enjoyment, or in unspeakable suffering and anguish ; born to live for ever, and ever, and ever—and to be progressing onwards, either, on the one hand, climbing the summitless ascent of glory, and perfection, and joy, and approximating nearer, and still nearer, to the likeness of cherubim and seraphim-of “ Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and God, the Father of all;” or, on the other, of descending deeper and deeper continually into the gulf of spiritual degradation and perdition-like a star, driven away from the light and harmony of the solar system into the waste realms of anarchy, and collision, and darkness—becoming totally alienated from God, the source of all excellence and happiness; and, therefore, “ both consummately wicked and consummately wretched, and ripening more and more into hideous resemblance to the accursed spirits of the world below, and the abhorred image of him " who is their chief” in “ bad pre-eminence” of guilt and its penalties. “What,” brethren, “ is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?”
2. The frame of spirit under consideration is a most unsuitable, thankless, and impious return for God's marvellous and infinite love towards us in his own dear Son. Did Christ tabernacle in human flesh, and sojourn on earth for so many tedious years of bereavement, reproach, and suffering, all for our sakes, and shall we remain
wholly unconcerned about that glorious object, our eternal salvation, upon which, in connection with the performance of his blessed Father's will, he was, throughout all that period, exclusively intent! Have we been justified by the obedience, and purchased with the tears and groans, the agonies and the “ bloody baptism,” of the Lord from heaven, and shall no earnest strivings of heart rise within us—no melting motives to exertion, — no “constraining” resolutions to “ live henceforth not unto ourselves, but to him who died for us, and rose again,” — no lofty ambition to ascend above the standard of “the heathens that know not God,”—nay, of the very fiends themselves below, who yet “believe and tremble,”-no worthy estimate of “ so great salvation,”-no struggling prayers at a throne of grace to have its efficacy appropriated to our souls, nor any active endeavours to make its fruits appear in our future lives! “God forbid!"-"How shall ye escape if ye neglect so great salvation ?".
3. Think, I beseech you, how religious indifference affects your present state of discipline and onward progress to immortality. Look at the labours you have to encounter, and at all the difficulties and dangers which lie before you—the strong lusts to be subdued—the hard hearts to be broken, softened, and inelted— the filthy garbs of self-righteousness to be torn off, with the corruptions of the flesh, and flung to the flames—the gross prejudices to be rectified—the evil company and baneful solicitations to be resisted, and those thousand other obstacles between you and the kingdom of heaven-in respect of which, so numerous,