« VorigeDoorgaan »
Now then, sinners, let us examine under which species of inability you lie. If under the first, you are excusable; if under the second, you are inexcusable. Natural inability then consists in a defect of rational faculties, bodily powers, or external advantages. If you were without any reason to understand the truths of the gospel, without any external senses by which these truths could be conveyed to your mind, without any opportunity of ever hearing of these truths, you would not be blameable for not closing with the gospel offers of salvation. But that understanding which is employed in the investigation of natural truths, is capable of being employed in the investigation of spiritual truths; but that love which is exercised upon the creature, is capable of being exercised upon the Creator; but your outward senses and external situation are such that you have known these things; there is then no natural inabil ity in your case; you labour only under a moral inability. The question then recurs, does this excuse you? On the contrary, it is this which constitutes your sin. Moral inability consists, as we have said, in a want of a proper disposition of heart to use our natural ability aright. Moral inability consists in viciousness of heart and depravity of disposition. When you say, therefore, I am excusable, because I am morally unable to repent, to believe, to love God;' you say, in other words, I am excusable, because I have so dreadfully guilty and corrupted a heart, that I have no disposition to repent, to believe, to love God.' What says conscience to this plea? What would a civil judge say to such an apology in the case of murder or theft? No, sinner; this impotency is so far from excusing you, that it aggravates your guilt; the greater our moral in
ability, the greater is our disposition to evil, and therefore the greater our crime. Notwithstanding this objection then, it still appears that the sinner destroys himself.
And now, sinners, what shall henceforth be your conduct? You have seen that, if you are lost, you must voluntarily embrace perdition. Will you still act so much against the instincts of nature, so worse than brutishly, as to choose destruction? Do you say, 'I do not choose destruction; destruction is hateful to me?' In itself I grant that it is so; but he who knows that perdition is inseparably connected with any course of conduct, and yet will pursue this course of conduct, loves perdition; if not for its own sake, yet for that which is annexed to it. He that will drink a pleasant potion, though he knows it to be impregnated with poison, surely chooses death. I affectionately and importunately beseech you not to act so cruelly to yourselves. In the name of my Master, I once more offer to you all the benefits purchased by Christ, and all the glories of heaven. If you neglect this proffer, remember that we must soon meet at the tribunal of God, and I summon this assembly then to bear testimony that you have rejected an offered Jesus.
REVELATION XX. 11, 12, 13.
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away 3 and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life and the dead were judged out of those
things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
SUCH, my brethren, are the circumstances of that final, infallible, irreversible judgment which we must all undergo. Time, as it rapidly flies, bears us nearer to this decisive bar. In a very little while, the period afforded us for preparing to appear there with joy, will be past. In a very little while, our pulses shall cease to throb and our hearts forget to beat. Our friends shall follow our lifeless corpses to the tomb; and the dust of the church-yard shall press upon our cold and unpalpitating breasts. Even
before our friends shall perform these last offices of humanity for us, and hide our corrupting bodies in the grave, our souls shall stand before the judgmentseat of Christ, shall be by him acquitted or condemned, and shall enter upon their endless state. After the souls of successive generations shall have been thus acquitted or condemned, and their bodies shall have mouldered in the dust; after the period appointed from eternity for the duration of our system shall have elapsed, then the end shall come; then that general judgment shall take place, which shall confirm all the particular judgments before pronounced, and show to the assembled universe the justice and mercy of the King of kings. It is this general judgment on which we are now to meditate. The Lord grant that this exercise may be so accompanied by his Spirit, that we may be enabled to stand then fearless and undaunted amidst the wreck of nature.
When the purposes of God, with respect to mankind, shall have been accomplished, then "a mighty angel shall descend from the skies, clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow upon his head, and his face shining as the sun; and standing upon the sea and upon the earth, he shall lift up his hand to heaven, and swear by Him that liveth for ever and ever, that time shall be no longer:" (Rev. x. 1. 5, 6.) The oath shall no sooner proceed from his lips than it shall be ratified by the God of heaven. The voice of the archangel and the trump of God shall resound through the universe; shall penetrate the lowest graves and the depths of the sea, and shall cause the sleeping dust to spring into new life. At this delightful moment, light shall beam upon the tombs of the saints; for "the dead in Christ shall rise first."
The particles of their frames, which in all their various changes have been preserved by omniscience, shall re-assemble at the command of God. Their bodies shall rise from the dust, clothed with new properties and with heavenly attributes, shining like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Their souls which have rested during the state of separation in the bosom of Jesus, shall rapidly fly to be re-united to their former companions, and to obtain with them the consummation of bliss. At the same instant, all the believers that are then alive upon the earth, shall be "changed in the twinkling of an eye," and caught up to meet their Saviour. The righteous being thus collected, the loud peal of the trump shall again float on the air, shake the earth to its centre, and re-echo through the dreary abodes of hell. The ungodly well know the portentous sound; and shuddering, trembling, and unwilling, rise from the dust; whilst their souls are dragged from the place of torment to meet those bodies once partakers of their sin, now to be partakers of their punishment. Thus united, they, with the sinners that are upon the earth, are borne through the air to meet their offended Lord. All mankind being thus assembled, the loud clangour of the trump again is heard, and re-echoes round the extensive vaults of heaven. Hell vomits forth its victims, and the apostate spirits, with Satan at their head, are dragged, oh! how reluctantly, to the dreadful bar! Thus two worlds are collected to be judged; and the third is advancing as an assistant spectator.
Whilst these preparations are making, the Judge approaches. At the brightness of his presence, the sun hides its beams and shrouds itself in darkness. It covered itself with sackcloth when the humbled