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And St. Paul has asserted it respecting all that live in a neglect of God"]
[Sinners of every description can withstand the word spoken by their fellow-creatures
But they will not be able to resist God when he shall call them into judgment
Then, if the whole universe should enter into a confederacy to protect one sinner, they would fail in their attempt
There is not any thing more irresistible to man, in some climates, than a whirlwind
Yet far less power shall the ungodly have to avert the wrath of God
They will be carried to destruction as the chaff before the wind"
And call in vain to the rocks to fall upon them, or the hills to cover them—]
[Nothing can be conceived more dreadful than the desolation made by whirlwinds
Yet this suggests a very inadequate idea of the ruin that will come on the ungodly
The raining of fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah must have been exceeding terrible
But even that was light, when compared with the vials of God's wrath which will be poured out upon the ungodly world
Who can comprehend the full import of that threatening in the Psalms?
Who can form a just idea of the judgment denounced by Isaiah
May we never experience such dreadful calamities!May we tremble at the apprehension of them, and seek shelter in Christ!"-]
1. How earnest should we be in redeeming time! [The present hours are given us that we may sow for eternity
Every action, word and thought is as seed that will spring up hereafter
According to what we saw now, we shall reap at the last dayb
1 Thess. v. 2, 3.
u Ps. i. 4, 5.
s Ezek. xx. 49.
* Rev. vi. 15-17.
a Isaiah xxxii. 2.
t Prov. xì. 21.
y Ps. xi. 6.
b Gal. vi. 7, 8.
Every moment increases our treasure of wrath," or our "weight of glory”—
How should we be affected with this considration!
Let us lay it to heart, and "walk not as fools, but as wise men"c_
And let that just expostulation shame us to a sense of dutyd-]
2. How blessed are they who are living to God!
[There is not a work which they perform for him that will not be rewarded
God would esteem himself unjust if he made them no recompence
However small and insignificant the service be, it shall not be forgotten
Some perhaps may complain, that they cannot do any thing for God
And, that they can only weep for their unprofitablenessBut the sighs and tears of the contrite are "precious seed❞—_
They will spring up to a glorious and abundant harvest Let the humble then go on "sowing in tears till they reap in joy"
Let them persist in their labour, assured that it shall not be in vain-1
Eph. v. 15, 16.
d Isaiah lv. 2.
g Ps. cxxvi. 6.
e Heb. vi. 10.
h 1 Cor. xv. 58.
CCCLIV. NO PEACE TO THE WICKED.
Isaiah lvii. 20, 21. The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
WE need not wait till a future life in order to discern the difference between the righteous and the wicked: it is plainly discoverable now in their conduct; nor is it less so in the inward frame of their minds-To a superficial observer indeed the wicked may seem to have the advantage; they being light and gay, while the righteous are often weary and heavy-laden: but God, who sees through the vail of outward appearances, affirms the very reverse of this to be true-We shall
I. Confirm his assertion
There certainly is a kind of peace which the wicked may, and do possess
[By "the wicked" we are not necessarily to understand, those who are vicious and profane; but all persons who are not devoted to God in the habitual exercise of righteousness and true holiness-And when it is said that such persons have "no peace," we must not imagine that they have no comfort or satisfaction in earthly enjoyments; for they are full of life and spirit; they shake off, what they call, melancholy; they banish all thoughts of God, and indulge in conviviality and mirth; and, as far as animal gratifications can conduce to happiness, they are happy-Neither must we suppose them wholly destitute of what they mistake for peace: they often persuade themselves of the safety of their state, and in a very confident manner assert their relation to God as his children -Having fixed the standard of duty according to their own mind; and, finding that, for the most part, they attain to what they deem a sufficient measure of religion, they "speak peace unto themselves, when alas! there is no peace"-]
But there is a scriptural peace of which they are wholly ignorant
■ Isaiah v. 11, 12.
[The peace, which our Lord gives to his faithful followers, and which he emphatically calls his peace, is very different from any thing which an unregenerate man has ever experienced-It consists in a well-grounded hope that "Christ has loved us and given himself for us;" and in "the testimony of our conscience" that we are walking agreeably to his mind and will-This peace is not a blind persuasion contrary to all the declarations of God's word, but an humble confidence founded upon the sacred oracles, and a joyful expectation. that God will fulfil his gracious promises-Now such a peace as this, the wicked never feel: they do not seek it; they would not even accept it upon God's terms, because they would not submit to have their conduct regulated by his holy law: indeed they account the experience of it to be the height of enthusiasm, and suppose that they who profess to have attained it are actuated by pride, and blinded by delusion-Can it then be any wonder that such persons should never enjoy this peace themselves?-]
The truth of this assertion will more clearly appear while we
John viii. 39, 41.
d John xiv. 27.
II. Shew the grounds and reasons of it
We need not look further than the text to find ample materials for confirming the declaration before us: for it asserts that the wicked are in a state absolutely incompatible with true peace-" Like the troubled sca they can never rest" by reason of
1. Depraved appetites
[However eminent for piety men may be, it is certain they will find much occasion for sorrow on account of their inward depravity: but they strive to mortify their lusts; they resist them in their first rise; and pray to God for strength to subdue them: whereas the wicked, however moral they may outwardly appear, encourage the growth of their vile affections: instead of repressing inward impurity, they enjoy the company, they relish the conversation, they read the books, they frequent the amusements which have a tendency to foster their corruptions; and, though from prudential considerations they impose a restraint on their actions, they will harbour evil thoughts without resistance and without remorse-The same may be said respecting their worldliness, their ambition, and every other evil appetite-As the apostle says of the impure, that they have " eyes full of adultery, and that they cannot cease from sin," so, whatever else be the predominant passion of their hearts, they cease not from the indulgence of it; but yield to it as far as they can consistently with the preservation of their character in the world-How then can they possess peace, whose hearts are so disturbed and defiled by their depraved affections?-]
2. Ungoverned tempers
[There is indeed a wonderful difference in the natural tempers and dispositions of men, insomuch that one person, notwithstanding his real piety, shall have much to conflict with, while another shall feel comparatively but little temp
ion to transgress-Still however, the righteous will have peace, because they labour to bring their minds into subjection to Christ, and apply to the blood of Christ for pardon under every renewed failure; but the wicked will not have peace, because they neither cry to the Lord to pardon their evil tempers, nor pray to him for grace to subdue themWhatever be their besetting sin, they will fall into it as soon as ever a temptation occurs: is it pride? they will be inflamed at the smallest insult or opposition; and, like Haman, feel no comfort in life, because they are not treated with all the reverence they think due to them-Is it envy? they cannot en
e Esth. v. 9. 12, 13.
dure to behold the success of a rival; but, like Saul, would be glad to hear that he were brought down, or even that he were dead-Is it covetousness? they shall have no enjoyment of all that they possess, because they have sustained a loss, or been, like Ahab, disappointed in their hopes of attaining something whereon their heart was sets-Is it malice and revenge? they shall sometimes be so inflamed by the very sight of their enemy, or even by the recollection of the injury they have sustained, that their very blood shall boil within them, and their rest day and night depart from them-Now what room is there for peace in a bosom that is subject to such continual agitation; and which, like the, sea, not only is disturbed by every wind, but the instant it is moved, "casts up nothing but mire and dirt?"-]
3. An evil conscience
[Much as they strive to shake off reflection about a future state, they cannot wholly dissipate their fears: in the midst of all their boasted confidence they have some secret misgivings: and if a sickness, which they expect to be fatal, come upon them, they cannot help wishing that their life had been differently spent, and that they might be spared to obtain a better preparation for their appearance before God-Sometimes indeed they do hold fast their delusions to the last, and "God gives them over to believe a lie:" but, for the most part, they both live under the accusations of a guilty conscience, and die under an awful suspense, a dreadful uncertainty about their eternal state-If at any time their minds be awakened to a sense of their true condition, they will tremble, like Belshazzar, when he saw the writing on the wall," or like Felix, when Paul reasoned with him about righteousness, temperance, and the judgment to come-Is it possible that peace should consist with such a state as this? Or need we any thing more to confirm the testimony of God respecting them, That they have no peace?--]
This subject cannot fail of suggesting to us
1. The bitterness of sin
[Men live in sin under the idea that it will make them happy: but though they "roll it as a sweet morsel under their tongue, it proves the very gall of asps within them". It is that which robs us of all solid peace: it is that which renders us altogether incapable of peace, as long as it retains. an ascendant over us-We may appeal to the consciences of all who are indulging sin, whether in heart or act, Have you
f 1 Sam. xviii. 6-9. and xix. 1. Dan. v. 5, 6,
i Acts xxiv. 25.
1 Kings xxi. 1—4.
k Job xx, 12-14.