« VorigeDoorgaan »
“ Because you hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear 6 of the Lord; because ye would none of my counsel, and
despised all my reproof: Therefore shall ye eat of the fruit “ of your own way, and be filled with your own devices.”
Remember that these things have been declared to you a thousand times, and that they have been a thousand times disregarded. You hear, but without even sober attention. You are reminded from Sabbath to Sabbath ; but voluntarily forget. You are warned; but slight the admonition. You are invited and urged to faith, repentance, and reformation; but your only answer is, “ I pray thee have me excused.” In the very house of God you harden your hearts. At the foot of the mercy-seat you refuse to pray. In the immediate presence of
refuse to hear his voice. Before the table of Christ you despise his sufferings, and cast contempt on that love, which he manifested to your souls, and which has amazed both heaven and hell. Of all this God has been a witness every Sabbath which you have spent in his house. The all-searching eye has looked directly into your hearts ; and the book of remembrance has recorded them all against the reckoning of the final day.
Even this is far from being all the guilt which you have incurred. Look into your hearts and lives, and you will see a multitude of sins of many kinds, burrowed in your hearts, and creeping out into your lives. Think how many private debasements have polluted you from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot. Call to mind the profaneness with which you have dishonoured your Creator, and disgraced yourselves ; with what irreverence you have regarded that glorious and fearful name, Jehovah your God. Think how often this irreverence has been manifested, not only in the language appropriately styled profane, but in that also which is decent and chastened; which was not directed immediately against God himself, but against his word, his ordinances, and his church; because you thought it safer to attack them than Him.
Remember how many idle words you have spoken, and continually speak, words flowing from a vain, empty, worthless mind, thoughtless of God, forgetful of your duty, and regard
less of your salvation; words answering no good, and therefore always accomplishing a bad purpose.
Call next to mind the impure thoughts which you have indulged. Think how often your imaginations have wandered after objects, and sated themselves on images and scenes which you never dared to mention. How little did you think at the time that God was looking on, and beholding the progress of pollution in your hearts. Recal next the polluted books which you have read with eagerness and delight; the polluted pictures at which you have gazed with the same spirit; and the polluted words to which you have listened with pleasure, or which, with equal pleasure, you have uttered to others.
To these things add your indulgence of other evil passions. Remember particularly, your sloth in the service of God. Can you find in your whole lives a single act cordially intended to glorify him? If you cannot, how great must be the number of those actions in which you have dishonoured him ? Feel how destitute your lives must have been of all duty, and how entirely you have sustained the character of unprofitable servants.
" Love not the world,” says St. John, “ neither the things os that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love o of the Father is not in him.” In what manner have you loved the world? Has it not hitherto been your god, and engrossed your affection, obedience, and worship? To this general idol have you not bowed daily in humble prostration, and sacrificed your time, your services, and yourselves ? What costly sacrifices are these? How unworthy of such oblations is the god to whom they are devoted ?
Riches, honour, power, and pleasure, have engaged all your thoughts, and all your time. Riches, perhaps, you have not coveted for their own sake, but you have coveted them for the sake of the reputation, splendour, and luxury which they procure; and, in this sense, have worshipped mammon with a devotion not less real than that of the veriest miser. With honour and power you have been delighted. With pleasure you have been fascinated to frenzy. The lust of the flesh, the lust
of the eyes, and the pride of life, have reigned over you with a despotism, which, from any other source, would have broken your hearts, and made you cry out of wrong, without measure. Still you have hugged your chains, and licked the hand of your oppressors.
Call next to mind the eagerness with which you have sought the haunts of sin, and courted the means of corruption. Recollect the times and the spirit with which you have gone to those places where sin was known by you to be practised ; where it was made easy, convenient, and safe ; where temptations were gathered and hoarded up with a careful hand, lest they should fail of their ruinous efficacy, and lest otherwise the young should not in sufficient numbers be destroyed. Think of the midnight hours which you have spent in seeking and perpetrating iniquity. Think of the companions whom you have loved and chosen, and with whom you have united in crimes, which neither you nor they would ever have dared to commit alone.
With these things before your eyes, remember also how often, and in what distressing degrees, you have set an evil example before others. Of all means of corruption an evil example is the surest: and, among the bitter objects of regret seen by the mind on a dying bed, our own corruption of others is one of the most bitter. To think, to feel that we have encouraged others to sin ; that we have contributed to fix their evil habits ; have lessened or destroyed their conscientiousness; have led them to evil thoughts, principles, and actions, of which, but for us, they would never have dreamed; have, under the name and guise of friendship, taken them by the hand, and led them to perdition, or prevented them from turning back to the path of life,-is to think and feel one of the most distressing combinations of guilt which will ever agonize the soul. Yet, alas ! how often are mankind, even in early life, forced to think, and feel, unless they are torpid, these melancholy things ? The time would fail me to proceed farther in this employment of remembrance. From what has been said, it wil be easy for you all to pursue this solemn subject to any
extent. How well does it deserve to be pursued to the utmost extent, by every man living ?
With these most interesting objects in view, I ask again, What will be the appearance of this congregation before the Judge of all the earth ? How different from that which we would fain believe; from that which we cannot but fervently desire !
VII. Let me exhort every person present solemnly to ask himself, how he will appear at the great day?
The sole use of preaching is to make the mind better. To the accomplishment of this end it is indispensable that those who hear should make the case their own, and consider themselves as primarily concerned in that which is said. If, then, you who have heard these awful considerations, would derive from them the least benefit, you must severally bring them home to you own hearts. Every one of you must realize that he himself will hereafter appear before the bar of God; and that every work, with every secret thing which he has done, will be brought into judgment. Then it will be scarcely possible for him to fail of asking himself the question which I have now proposed.
Your past life you cannot alter. It is gone beyond recal. But it may be reviewed, and by reviewing it you may become better. If that life, when it shall be brought out into open day, will fill you with shame and anguish, and even with despair, how immensely important is it, that your future conduct should be such as to alleviate these distresses, and furnish you support and consolation at the final trial ? For this end you must consent to watch your hearts with all diligence, to mark the rising sin, and to spy out the approaching temptation. You must resolve that you will serve God; must turn to him with all the heart; must mourn for your sins, and renounce them ; must believe the Redeemer, and yield your souls into his hands. You must faithfully seek the Lord while he is to be found; you must call upon him while he is near. If you do these things, he will have mercy on you, and abundantly pardon you.
To prompt you to this most interesting change of your conduct, keep these amazing considerations before your eyes. Bind them upon your right arm, lay them up in your hearts ; speak of them when you sit in the house and when you walk by the way; solemnly ponder them when you lie down and when
remember in this manner that you will soon be judged, and yet continue stupid ? Can you ask, each for himself, “ What will be the account which I “ shall give ? What will be the place where I shall stand ? " What will be the doom which I shall receive ?” and still sleep the sleep of death ? Remember that you are hastening to endless ruin or immortal glory. “ Behold the day cometh, “ which shall burn as an oven; and all the proud and all that “ do wickedly shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall “ burn them up, and leave them neither root nor branch.” In that dreadful day, “ They that fear the Lord,” saith Jehovah, « shall be mine when I make up my jewels, and I will spare “ them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” Life and death are this day both set before you ; therefore choose life that you may live for ever.