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SERM. kingdom all things that offend, and them XVII.
se which do iniquity, and shall cast them " into a furnace of fire : there shall be “ wailing and gnashing of tecth. Then " shall the righteous shine forth as the " sun in the kingdom of their Father."
You see our Saviour himself tells us, that judgment will not take place against sinners till the end of the world; we have therefore no reason to be surprized at their present impunity, nor can we at all argue from it, that sin is no evil, or that it is not displeasing to God, or that he will not take severe vengeance on those who commit it, The truth is, we have much ground to apprehend, that the longer the punishment of the wieked is delayed, the more heavy and dreadful it will be, when it does fall on them! God
spares them for the 'present; he permits thém' to fill up the measure of their sins, but in the mean time be fills up the vials of his wrath; he shews forth his
mercy in this world, but in the next he will s ERM.
XVII. shew forih, his justice; now he restrains his anger, and permits the unrighteous te triumph in their safety, but the time will come when he will make amends for this apparent indifference when he will vindicate his insulted majesty in the sight of men and angels.--Go on then thou, who presumesta on the long-suffering of God, yield to every evil temptation, follow the bent of every corrupt passion, walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that in the mean time thou art treasuring up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
Or take the matter in another light, and suppose (what is also: true) that the Almighty means by this delay of sentence, to give the sinner time and encouragement to repent of his wickedness, and reform his life; what an ungrateful turn is it to give
SERM. to this goodness, to conclude from it, that XVII.
the disobedience of God's commands is a matter of no consequence, and that it is not greatly offensive to him, but that, because he graciously suspends, he will therefore never inflict punishment.
Far different is the reasoning which a ge. nerous mind would suggest;
O God (it • would prompt us to say) O gracious. • God, who desirest not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from • his wickedness and live; blessed be thy
holy name, that thou hast afforded us · time for recollection and repentance:
what must have been our condition, if • thou hadst cut us off in our sins! Pre' vent us from abusing thy patience, and · enable us to take advantage of thy long* suffering; through thy mercy the gate of · life is still open to us, Oh! grant us grace ' to enter, ere it close against us, and exclude us for ever!'
But after all, God, even in this world, SERM.
XVII. has not left us without proofs of the evil. nature of sin, and of his. perfect hatred. of it; witness the disturbed reflections and alarming anticipations of the wicked, that hell, which is already begun in the guilty bosom,-a guilty conscience;-witness that flood of waters which overwhelmed the whole earth, and destroyed all flesh for their corruption and violence;-witness the destruction of those iniquitous cities Sodom and Gomorrah, by that terrible shower of fire and brimstone ;-witness the instantaneous death of Ananias and Sapphira for their falsehood and hypocrisy; - witness these and a multitude of other instances, which history has handed down to us, of the present punishment of iniquity, both in particular persons, and also of whole nations : so that God has not left us even here without sufficient warning of the evil of sin, and of its dangerous and destructive tendency.
SERM. A third set of persons, who suffer themXVII.
selves to be betrayed into ruin by this delay of sentence, are those who, acknowledging the heinous nature of sin, and the danger to which it exposes them, do yet continue in their wickedness, because they think that they shall have abundance of time, before they die, for repentance. But this is so great a hazard in all respects, that there is no venturing upon it. In the first place, they cannot be certain that time will be allowed them; they may be cut off in a moment, and in the grave there is nothing to be done in religion,-as the tree falls, so it lies: or if that portion of life, with which they flatter themselves, should Be granted, the probability is that they will be more unwilling to forsake their sins at some future time, than they are at present. What was begun by passion may be con. firmed by habit, and from having his-mercy so long despised, God may be tempted en