« EdellinenJatka »
them but the short-lived monuments of their ignorance, their profaneness, and their malice. Go and spread like them the banners of infidelity, and pride thyself in the number of credulous creatures listed under them. But take heed, lest the insulted Galilean direct a secret arrow to thine heart, and stop thy licentious breath, before it has finished the next sentence, thou wouldst utter against him.
§. 7. I will now turn myself from the deist or the sceptic, and direct my address to the nominal christian; if he may upon any terms be called a christian, who feels not, after all I have pleaded, a disposition to subject himself to the government and the grace of that Saviour, whose name he bears. O sinner, thou art turning away from my Lord, in whose cause I speak; but let me earnestly intreat thee seriously to consider, why thou art turning away; and to whom thou wilt go, from him, whom thou acknowledgest to have the words of eternal life*. You call yourself a christian, and yet will not by any means be persuaded to seek salvation in good earnest from and through Jesus Christ, whom you call your master and Lord. How do you for a moment excuse this negligence to your own conscience? If I had urged you on any controverted point, it might have altered the case. If I had laboured hard to make you the disciple of any particular party of christians, your delay might have been more reasonable : Nay, perhaps, your refusing to acquiesce might have been an act of apprehended duty to our common master. But is it matter of controversy amongst christians, whether there be a great, holy, and righteous God; and whether such a being, whom we agree to own, should be reverenced and loved, or neglected and dishonoured? Is it matter of controversy, whether a sinner should deeply and seriously repent of his sins, or whether he should go on in them? Is it a disputed point amongst us, whether Jesus became incarnate, and died upon the cross, for the redemption of sinners or no? And if it be not, can it be disputed by them who believe him to be the Son of God and the Saviour of men, whether a sinner should seek to him, or neglect him, or whether one who professes to be a christian, should depart from iniquity, or give himself up to the practice of it? Are the precepts of our great master written so obscurely in his word, that there should be room seriously to question, whether he require a devout, holy, humble, spiritual, watchful, self-denying life, or whether he allow the contrary? Has Christ,
after all his pretensions of bringing life and immortality to light, left it more uncertain than he found it, whether there be any future state of happiness and misery, or for whom these states are respectively intended? Is it a matter of controversy, whether God will, or will not bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing whether it be good, or whether it be evil* ? or whether, at the conclusion of that judgment, the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal? You will not, I am sure, for very shame, pretend any doubt about these things, and yet call yourself a christian. Why then will you not be persuaded to lay them to heart, and to act as duty and interest so evidently require? Oh sinner, the cause is too obvious; a cause indeed quite unworthy of being called a reason. It is because thou art blinded and besotted with thy vanities and thy lusts. It is because thou hast some perishing trifle, which charms thy imagination and thy senses, so that it is dearer to thee than God and Christ, than thy own soul and its salvation. It is, in a word, because thou art still under the influence of that carnal mind, which, whatever pious forms it may sometimes admit and pretend, is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can bet. And therefore thou art in the very case of those wretches, concerning whom our Lord said in the days of his flesh, Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life§, and therefore ye shall die in your sins ||.
§. 8. In this case I see not what it can signify, to renew those expostulations and addresses which I have made in the former chapters. As our blessed Redeemer says of those who rejected his gospel, Ye have both seen and hated both me and my Father; so may I truly say with regard to you, I have endeavoured to shew you in the plainest and the clearest words, both Christ and the Father; I have urged the obligations you are under to both; I have laid before you your guilt, and your condemnation; I have pointed out the only remedy; I have pointed out the rock, on which I have built my own eternal hopes, and the way in which alone I expect salvation. I have recommended those things to you, which, if God gives me an opportunity, I will with my dying breath earnestly and affectionately recommend to my own children, and to all the dearest friends that I have upon earth, who may then be near me ; esteeming it the highest token of my friendship, the surest
Eccles. xii. 14. § John v. 40.
+ Matt, xxv. 46.
Rom. viii. 7.
proof of my love to them. And if believing the gospel to be true, you resolve to reject it, I have nothing farther to say, but that you must abide by the consequence.- Yet as Moses, when he went out from the presence of Pharaoh for the last time, finding his heart yet more hardened by all the judgments and deliverances with which he had formerly been exercised, denounced upon him God's passing through the land, in terror to smite the first-born with death, and warned him of that great and lamentable cry which the sword of the destroying angel should raise throughout all his realm*: So will I, sinner, now when I am quitting thee, speak to thee yet again, whether thou wilt hear, or whether thou wilt forbear+, and denounce that much more terrible judgment, which the sword of divine vengeance, already whetted and drawn and bathed, as it were, in heaven‡, is preparing against thee; which shall end in a much more dreadful cry, though thou wert greater and more obstinate than that haughty monarch. Yes, sinner, that I may, with the apostle Paul, when turning to others who are more like to hear me, shake my raiment, and say, I am pure from your blood§; I will once more tell you what the end of things will be. And, Oh that I could speak to purpose! Oh that I could thunder in thine ear, such a peal of terror, as might awaken thee, and be too loud to be drowned in all the noise of carnal mirth, or to be deadened by those dangerous opiates, with which thou art contriving to stupify thy conscience!
§. 9. Seek what amusements and entertainments thou wilt O sinner, I tell thee, if thou wert equal in dignity, and power, and magnificence, to the great monarch of Babylon, thy pomp shall be brought down to the grave, and all the sound of thy viols; the worm shall be spread under thee, and the worm shall cover thee ||. Yes, sinner, the end of these things is death¶; death in its most terrible sense to thee, if this continue thy governing temper. Thou canst not avoid it; and, if it be possible for any thing that I can say to prevent, thou shalt not forget it. Your strength is not the strength of stones, nor is your flesh of brass**. You are accessible to diseases, as well as others; and if some sudden accident do not prevent it, we shall soon see, how heroically you will behave yourself on a dying bed, and in the near views of eternity. You that now despise Christ, and trifle with his gospel, we shall see you droop and languish; shall see all your relish for your carnal recreations, and your vain companions lost. And if perhaps
§ Acts xviii. 6.
*Exod. xi. 4-6. || Isai. xiv. 11.
+ Ezek. ii. 7.
Isai. xxxiv. 5. **Job vi. 12.
one and another of them bolt in upon you, and is brutish and desperate enough to attempt to entertain a dying man with a gay story, or a profane jest, we shall see how you will relish it. We shall see, what comfort you will have in reflecting on what is past, or what hope in looking forward to what is to come. Perhaps trembling and astonished, you will then be enquiring in a wild kind of consternation, what you should do to be saved; calling for the ministers of Christ, whom you now despise for the earnestness with which they would labour to save your soul! and it may be falling into a delirium, or dying convulsions, before they can come. Or perhaps we may see you, flattering yourself through a long lingering illness, that you shall still recover, and putting off any serious reflection and conversation, for fear it should overset your spirits. And the cruel kindness of friends and physicians, as if they were in league with satan to make the destruction of your soul as sure as possible, may perhaps abet this fatal deceit.
§. 10. And if any of these probable cases happen, that is, in short, unless a miracle of grace snatch you as a brand out of the burning, when the flames have as it were already taken hold of you; all these gloomy circumstances, which pass in the chambers of illness and the bed of death, are but the forerunners of infinitely more dreadful things. Oh, who can describe them! who can imagine them! When surviving friends are tenderly mourning over the breathless corpse, and taking a fond farewell of it before it is laid to consume away in the dark and silent grave, into what hands, O sinner, will thy soul be fallen! What scenes will open upon thy separate spirit, even before thy deserted flesh be cold, or thy sightless eyes are closed? It shall then know, what it is to return to God to be rejected by him, as having rejected his gospel and his Son, and despised the only treaty of reconciliation; and that such a one, so amazingly condescending and gracious. Thou shalt know, what it is to be disowned by Christ, whom thou hast refused to entertain; and what it is, as the certain and immediate consequence of that to be left in the hands of the malignant spirits of hell. There will be no more friendship then: None to comfort, none to alleviate thy agony and distress: But on the contrary, all around thee labouring to aggravate and increase them. Thou shalt pass away the intermediate years of the separate state, in dreadful And expectation, and bitter outcries of horror and remorse. then, thou shalt hear the trumpet of the arch-angel, in whatever cavern of that gloomy world thou art lodged. Its sound shall penetrate thy prison, where, doleful and horrible as it is, thou
shalt nevertheless wish, that thou mightest still be allowed to hide thy guilty head, rather then shew it before the face of that awful judge, before whom heaven and earth are fleeing away. thou must come forth, and be re-united to a body, now formed for ever to endure agonies, which in this mortal state would have dissolved it in a moment. You would not be persuaded to come to Christ before: You would stupidly neglect him in spite of reason, in spite of conscience, in spite of all the tenderest solicitations of the gospel, and the repeated admonitions of its most faithful ministers. But now, sinner, you shall have an interview with him; if that may be called an interview, in which you will not dare to lift up your head to view the face of your tremendous and inexorable judge. There, at least, how distant soever the time of our life and the place of our abode may have been, there shall we see how courageously your heart will endure; and how strong your hands will be when the Lord doth this. There shall I see thee, O reader, whoever thou art that goest on in thine impenitency, among thousands and ten thousands of despairing wretches, trembling and confounded. There shall I hear thy cries among the rest, rending the very heavens in vain. The judge will rise from his tribunal with majestic composure, and leave thee to be hurried down to those everlasting burnings, to which his righteous vengeance hath doomed thee, because thou wouldst not be saved from them. Hell shall shut its mouth upon thee for ever, and the sad echo of thy groans and outcries shall be lost amidst the hallelujahs of heaven to all that find mercy of the Lord in that day.
§. 11. This will most assuredly be the end of these things: And thou, as a christian, professest to know, and to believe it. It moves my heart at least, if it moves not thine. I firmly believe, that every one, who himself obtains salvation and glory, will bear so much of his Saviour's image in wisdom and goodness, in zeal for God, and a steady regard to the happiness of the whole creation, that he will behold this sad scene with calm approbation, and without any painful commotion of mind But as yet I am flesh and blood; and therefore my bowels are troubled, and mine eyes often overflow with grief, to think that wretched sinners will have no more compassion upon their own souls; to think, that in spite of all admonition, they will obsti nately run upon final everlasting destruction. It would signify nothing here to add a prayer or meditation for your use. Poor creature, you will not meditate! you will not pray! Yet as I
+ Ezek. xxii. 14.
* Rev, xx. 11.