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“ The way as
THE PUNISHMENT OF as this, it is proorld of the ungodly. See the fear. They yield to vile passions and appofrom earth to Cities of the Plain. Remember tites, and then they groan by reason of bondthe last do she looked back, contrary to the age. They violate all the rules which con
pommand, and “ she became a pillar duce to the welfare of the community, and shall
The servant of Elisha enters his then they are expelled from the esteem and in zer's presence-tells a lie—and goes out regard of their fellow-creatures. And what
leper as white as snow.” Ananias and can hinder all this? sapphira utter a known falsehood before the So that sin does not recompense or even Apostle, and are both instantly numbered indemnify the sinner here. with the dead. And of such importance is well as the end of transgressors is hard.” As truth to the welfare of the community-and the righteous here have some foretastes of so hateful is it to the Supreme Being—that their future happiness, so the wicked have not only are all liars to have their portion in here the beginnings of sorrows. As godlithe lake which burneth with fire and brim- ness has the promise of the life that now is stone, which is the second death—but in these as well as of that which is to come, so sin has instances we see "hell from beneath moved the curse of this world, as well as of another. to meet them at their coming!"
III. See in it PUNISHMENT INFLICTED AFTER It may however be necessary to observe LONG DELAY. Behold the career of this sinthat this is not always the case. The misery ner! “ Threescore and ten kings” he bad of the sinner is principally reserved for a fu- thus inhumanly mangled. Thus he repeated ture world, and we are now in a state of pro- his crime again and again-even until sevenbation. But God would confirm our faith in ty times ! What a lengthened course of inihis adorable providence. If all sin was pun- quity was here !—"So long and so often had ished here, we should look no further; if no I done this, that I thought God had not seen, sin, we should not easily believe in the power, or did not remember. But he has found me the holiness, the truth of God. He therefore out; and I live long enough to be a miserable sometimes signally interposes; and will be instance of this awful truth—that however known by the judgments which he executeth: long punishment may be delayed, it will at “so that a man shall say, Verily there is a last be inflicted-As I have done, so God hath reward for the righteous; verily he is a God requited me." that judgeth in the earth."
The wonder is not that he was overtaken Present punishment, too, is less frequently so soon—but that he was spared so long ; and executed under the gospel than under the seemed to be allowed to triumph in his inlaw; and the reason is-that a future state quity. The flourishing condition of sinners of retribution was not so clearly and fully for a time, and especially for a long time, revealed to them as to us. Hence their unchecked by calamity, is an event which has threatenings are often filled with expressions often perplexed even pious minds. Thus Jere of temporal evils, while ours only announce miah exclaims “ Righteous'art thou, O Lord, miseries beyond the grave. Then an adult- when I plead with thee; yet let me talk with erer was to be stoned ; now he is to be thee of thy judgments: wherefore, doth the damned.
way of the wicked prosper? Wherefore are We may add that the punishment of sin in all they happy that deal very treacherously?" this world is sometimes unavoidable. Thus, David also tells us : “ As for me, my feet if nations are punished at all, they must be were almost gone; my steps had well niga punished in time-for they have no existence slipped; for I was envious at the foolish, when in eternity; there men exist only as individu- I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”, als. And nearly the same may be said of a But what is more to be lamented is, that family. Hence we read “ the curse of the hereby the unhappy creature himself is fro Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he quently deluded. He is apt to mistake forblesseth the habitation of the just.”
bearance for connivance; and what God does Yea, the present punishment of sin is in not immediately punish, he concludes that he some measure natural. For how frequently entirely neglects. “ He hath said in his do men's sufferings arise from the very sins heart, I shall not be moved ; for I shall never they commit! Extravagance breeds ruin- be in adversity.” “Because sentence against indolence, poverty-intemperance, disease. an evil work is not executed speedily, there“ Who hath wo? Who hath sorrow? Who fore the heart of the sons of men is fully set hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who in them to do evil.” But we should rememhath wounds without cause? Who hath red- ber the end of providence in such a dispensaness of eyes? They that tarry long at the tion. He frequently spares the ungodly for wine; they that go to seek mixed wine." the sake of the godly: the extraction of the Why are men so unlrappy—but because they tares would injure the wheat. By forbearare unholy. They walk contrary to God, and ing the blow, he would give space
for repentGod walks contrary to them. They trans- ance: “the longsuffering of our God is salvagress his commands, and expose themselves tion.” He has therefore ends to answer to his wrath; and then they are alarmed with worthy of himsel£
. But be convinced of this
SIN AND SUFFERING,
that he never designed to cherish in you aj Haman? “Then said Zeresh his wife and hospe of impunity. His patience is not forgive-all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be
"Be sure your sins will find you out. made of fifty cubits high, and to-morrow H e that being often reproved hardeneth his speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that be hanged thereon ; then go thou in merrily without remedy." He is patient; but he is with the king unto the banquet. And the faithful, and the Scripture cannot be broken. thing pleased Haman, and he caused the gal. He is patient : but patience has its limits; and lows to be made.” What was his doom? the year of trial granted to the barren fig- “ And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, tree will expire, and then, if unfruitful, it said before the king, Behold also the gallows, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire. He fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for is patient: but if his patience end not in your" Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, conversion, it will be glorified in your de- standeth in the house of Haman. Then the struction. "These things hast thou done, king said, Hang him thereon. and I kept silence: thou thoughtest that I hanged Haman on the gallows that he had was altogether such an one as thyself; but I prepared for Mordecai. And to mention no will reprove thee, and set them in order be- more, in the very place where Jezebel caused fore thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that the dogs to lick the blood of Naboth, the dogs forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and licked her blood ! there be none to deliver.'
But there is a future conformity still more IV. See in it A CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN dreadful; and of which the Apostle speaks
“What I have inflicted when he says, “ Be not deceived ; God is not upon others, is now inflicted upon me: and mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that in my very punishment I read my crime, shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his as I have done, so God hath requited me!" filesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption ; but Our Saviour has said, “ With the same mea- he that soweth to the Spirit
, shall of the Spisure ye mete, it shall be measured to you rit reap life everlasting.” The man who again.” And Eliphaz tells us, that he had sowed thistles, and expected to reap wheat, particularly remarked this even in his days. would be deemed a fool. But are we not “I have seen they that plough iniquity, and equally foolish? What are the principles we So w wickedness, reap the same.” From the imbibe, the dispositions we cultivate, the nature of their suffering, men may often learn pursuits in which we are engaged, that we the character of their sin. God sometimes are concluding they will issue in glory, hose nds our troubles with a label upon them— nour, and immortality? Is there any relait seems impossible to mistake their design. tion between these? Do not the steps of the We are commanded to hear the rod;" it road we travel take hold on hell? Misery is says many things—but it frequently tells us not only the reward of our works, but the the very sin for which we smart: itthunders very tendency of our sin. Hear this, ye or whispers,“ this is the duty you have neg- covetous and unfeeling. Your hard-heartedlected. This is the idol you have adored. ness is not punishable by any human tribuHast thou not procured this unto thyself?” nal—but see your crime meeting you at the
Between sin and punishment there is some- bar of God : " he shall have judgment withtirnes a comparative conformity. This is the out mercy, that showed no mercy.” Think Ceese when we suffer things which have some of this, ye despisers of the Gospel—he now resemblance to our crimes. Thus the Jews, addresses you in vain; " Because I have fo z serving strange gods, were compelled to called, and ye refused : I have stretched out fe: rve strange masters. Forty days the spies my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have were employed in exploring the land of pro- set at nought all my counsel, and would none mise, and forty years the people are con- of my reproof."--And hereafter you shall addemned to wander in the wilderness for dress him in vain : “ I will also laugh at your believing them.
calamity; I will mock when your fear comSometimes there is also between them a eth; when your fear cometh as desolation, direct conformity. This is the case when we and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; $12 ffer in the same way and in the same things when distress and anguish cometh upon you: in which we sin. Thus it is said of the Chal- then shall they call upon me, but I will not
sans, “ Because thou hast spoiled many na- answer; they shall seek me early, but they ons, all the remnant of the people shall spoil shall not find me.” ." Thus it is said of the Church of Finally. See in this Scripture THE HAND
“ For they have shed the blood of OF GOD ACKNOWLEGED, WHILE MEN ONLY ARE aints and prophets, and thou hast given them EMPLOYED—" God hath requited me.” But Rood to drink; for they are worthy." What who saw any thing of him ? Did not the as the subject of David's sin? The number- sons of Judah and of Simeon cut off his ag of his people. In this he suffers: a pes- thumbs and his great toes? Yes—but “ is Jence carries off seventy thousand of his there an evil in the city, and the Lord hath abjects. What was the design of wicked I not done it ?” “I form the light, and create
darkness : I make peace, and create evil. I, no miracle, yet his agency is believed. He the Lord, do all these things.” War is as does not render himself visible, yet his premuch a judgment from God, as fainine or sence is felt and acknowledged ; and common pestilence. And not only are lawful princes calamities are made to operate like positive and magistrates the ministers of God, but he tokens of divine displeasure. makes use of robbers and tyrants; as it is Though the subject has been very instrucwritten : "Out of him came forth the cor- tive and practical, I wish to add two exhortner; out of him the nail; out of him the ations. battle-bow; out of him every oppressor
First. ABHOR CRUELTY. It is equally together.”
disgraceful to religion and humanity. It But admitting this to be true—how came renders you unpitied of God and man. I hope Adoni-bezek, a very wicked man—a heathen none of you would be so dreadfully savage -how came he to acknowledge it ?— The as this monster, to torture and mangle your case is this—“ The Gentiles who have not a fellow-creatures, if you had it in your power
. written law,” says the Apostle, “are a law But let me speak a word for the poor brutes
, unto themselves: their thoughts also in the who cannot speak for themselves, though anmean time accusing or else cxcusing one ano- happily they have the power of feeling. My ther.”. There is a conscience in every man; dear little friends, never torment animals
. the principle belongs to human nature; and no Never sport with the misery of insects wickedness is able completely to banish it
. Never cut off their legs or wings. God's And calamity has always been observed to " tender mercies are over all his works." have a powerful effect to enliven it. So that " He hears the young ravens that cry.”. the man who, in the days of prosperity and " Be followers of God as dear children." ease, banished reflection, never thought of But what are we to say in another case? God; or if he did, considered himself per- Adoni-bezek was merciful compared with haps as the favourite of Heaven, because he those who endeavour to draw their fellowwas so much indulged on earth—is now ab- creatures into sin. This is not only to injure stracted; impressed; softened: he is left the body, but to cast the soul into hell: and alone with his conscience: this tells him of what is any present suffering compared with his desert; this awakens all his fears. Hence endless misery ! sickness, accidents, death are dreadful—they Secondly. IMPROVE THE CASE OF EXAMPLES. stir up the apprehension of Deity. He sus- If they were not particularly adapted to do pects more in the storm than thunder and us good-the word of God would not be so lightning-God is there. The shaking of a full of them. Never read them carelessly
. leaf seems to say, “ What is this that thou Lodge them in your memory. Often reflect hast done ?"
A good man perceives the hand of God in And make use of the dreadful as well as all events, and he wishes to see it. “ The the pleasing. It is necessary that sin should Lord," sıys Job,“ gave, and the Lord hath be made hateful. It is necessary that we taken away: what! shall we receive good should be awakened to flee from the wrath at the Lord's hand, and shall we not receive to come. evil ?" This calmed him. And this dis- And do not suppose that such a character covery of God is the Christian's relief and as Adoni-bezek is alone exposed to dangercomfort in a fiction—because he knows that " Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise God is his father and friend, and will not, perish.' cannot injure him. But it is otherwise with “ For we must all appear before the judgthe sinner. His apprehension of God is ment-seat of Christ, that every one may reforced upon him; he would gladly get rid ceive the things done in his body according of the conviction : it is all terror and dismay to that he hath done, whether it be good or to him-for he knows that God is his adver- bad. Knowing therefore the terrors of the sary, and he may now be coming to lay hold Lord, we persuade men: but we are made of him-he knows that he has a long account manifest unto God; and I trust also are made to give, and this may be the time of reckon- manifest in your consciences." ing. Hence the bitterness of affliction : it is regarded not only as a trial, but as a punishment. The sinner's distress seems to be the
DISCOURSE LI. effect of chance; but he feels it to be the consequence of design. He discerns in it the injustice of men; and yet is compelled
THE CHEERFUL PILGRIM. to confess that it is the righteous judgment Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of God. And thus, by the medium of this penal consciousness, Goi maintains his moral
of my pilgrimage.- Psalm cxix. 54. empire in the world, without deviating from How different are the views and feelings the usual course of events, or breaking in of men in the review of life! How dismal upon the stated laws of nature He works and terrifying is it to look back on years bar
ren of good and filled with wickedness; to of the world no longer reigns in him. He look back upon time wasted, opportunities renounces the world, not only because it is misimproved, faculties perverted, mercies unfriendly, but because it is unsuitable: not abused, character destroyed; to look back because he cannot carry every thing before and find nothing from which the mind can him, but because he no longer loves it. He derive a future hope, or acknowledge a past forsakes the world when it smiles, as well as satisfaction !
when it frowns. He is not violently torn But it is pleasing and edifying to look back from it, but resigns it in consequence of the I will not say upon a well-spent life—but discovery and apprehension of something inupon those years in which we have known finitely better. The eyes of his understandGod, or rather have been known of him; in ing are enlightened, and he sees what is the which we have loved and endeavoured to hope of his calling, and what is the glory of serve him; in which we have enjoyed some- the riches of his inberitance in the saints: thing of his presence and his smiles. It is and this henceforth becomes his prize. . Havdelightful to call to remembrance places and ing discerned by faith another world, he seasons made sacred by communion with makes a true estimate of this-he sees that him; and to think over the advantages and the present is not a state to fix in, but only a pleasures we have derived from his ordinan- region to pass through ; and therefore finds ces, and from his blessed word.
that he is not at home, but journeying. David does this. “ Thy statutes have He is born from above, and therefore naturbeen my songs in the house of my pilgrim-ally aspires after his native land. Does not age."
every thing tend to the place of its original ? Hence we observe three things. I. A His portion is above. The inheritance in
MAN VIEWS HIS RESIDENCE IN THIS corruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not WORLD AS ONLY THE HOUSE OF HIS PILGRIM away, is reserved in heaven for him. There
II. THE SITUATION, HOWEVER DIS- his hope is laid up; there is his treasureADVANTAGEOUS, ADMITS OF CHEERFULNESS. and what wonder if there his heart be also ? III. THE SOURCES of his JOY ARE DERIVED There he is to gain deliverance from all his FROM THE SCRIPTURE.
errors; perfection of holiness; a glorious boI. When David speaks of THE HOUSE OF dy; the possession of all the promises. Can HIS PILGRIMAGE, he may literally design to he be satisfied to live at a distance from all express his exile and wanderings when ba- this? nished by the persecution of Saul, or the re
His kindred dwell above-there are to be bellion of Absalom. But he intends it more found his father, his elder brother, the younger generally, as significant of the whole course branches of the household of faith. Thither of his life on earth. For being a partaker of many of his once dear connexions on earth divine grace, he would say this in a palace as are gone, and thither all the wise and good well as in a prison; he would say it when are going; and he can now only get a glance surrounded with all the ensigns of majesty, of them upon the road, or exchange a few as well as when stripped of all his possessions. words as they pause for refreshment at the If a Christian had the dominion of Alex- inn. There they shall all unite and be for ander, and all the treasures of the Indies, ever with each other, and for ever with the yet in all this abundance, and with all this Lord. Here he is in motion, then he will be greatness, he would feel himself poor, feel at rest; he is now.traveling, he shall. then himself from home, feel himself a stranger reach home, and "sit down with Abraham, and a sojourner-and seek a better country, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God.” that is an heavenly.
Inferior, however, as his present situation At first indeed the world is far from ap- is, compared with the future we are repearing to us in this reduced and insignifi- minded, cant point of light. Its maxims and pursuits II. THAT IT WILL ADMIT OF CHEERFULfall in with our depraved dispositions. And NESS: he can sing—“thy statutes have been unacquainted with its vanity and vexation, my songs in the house of my pilgrimage." we rush forth filled with high and eager ex- Genuine religion excites and interests the pectations. We think to find it a paradise— feelings. It is equally absurd and dangerous but thorns and briers, sand and drought, tell to place it in cold ceremonies, or external us it is a wilderness. We dream that we are performances in which the affections have no eating, but awake and feel that we are share. The same may be said of reducing it hungry-and looking around us, we see that merely to an intellectual system. The printhere is nothing to feed us.
ciples of revelation are addressed, not only to Various are the disappointments and the the understanding, but to the heart
. Ought I calamities that imbitter life; and “ many are to believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, the afflictions of the righteous." Yet we are and that two and two make four, with the mistaken if we suppose that it is wholly or same indifference and insensibility? "Imposprincipally owing to these that he views him-sible. That Jesus Christ came into the world self now in a house of pilgrimage. The spirit | to save sinners is not only a faithful say
A thousand sacred sweets
ing,” but a saying “worthy of all accepta- dispositions. They may love the place where tion :" it contains all that is great and good God's honour dwelleth, and be glad when it and suitable and necessary-and can never is said to them, “ Let us go into the house of be properly received, if it meets only with a the Lord;" they may “call the Sabbath a defrigid speculative assent.
light;" and say, “ It is good for me draw We do not indeed plead for ignorant and nigh to God.” But it is awful if you find the unaccountable feelings : but we contend that Sabbath a weariness, the house of God a prithe light of Christianity is like that of the son, and the presence of God irksome—it is sun, which, while it illuminates, also enlivens awful if you find religious duties a task inand fructifies. We do not admire the zeal stead of a privilege. It is one of the characwhich burns up the brain; but we plead for ters of the true circumcision—that “they rethe fervour that warms the heart : and we joice in Christ Jesus.” say, and saith not the Scripture the same ? Secondly, those are mistaken who shun rethat “it is good to be always zealously af- ligion under the apprehension that it is unfected in a good thing." And wherefore is friendly to their happiness, and prescribes a every thing like warmth in religion branded joyless course, engaged in which they must with the name of enthusiasm ? Warmth is bid adieu to pleasure. Man needs present expected in the poet, in the musician, in the gratification, and religion provides for it. The scholar, in the lover—and even in the trades Master he serves does not require him to live man it is allowed, if not commended—why only in expectation : he has much in possesthen is it condemned in the concerns of the sion, though he has more in hope. There soul-a subject which, infinitely above all the clusters grow, but hither some of them others, demands and deserves all the energy are sent. of the mind? Would a prisoner exult at the proclamation of deliverance and is the re
The hill of Zion yields deemed sinner to walk forth from his bond
Before we reach the heav'nly fields, age, unmoved, unaffected, without gratitude
Or walk the golden streets." or joy? No.
“ Ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains Surely you will allow that happiness deand the hills shall break forth before you into pends upon God, and that he is able to make singing, and all the trees of the field shall a man happy at present—and is it likely that ciap their hands!" Shall the condemned he will suffer an enemy in rebellion against criminal feel I know not what emotions, when him to be happier than a servant who is eninstead of the execution of the sentence he deavouring to serve him! If such be your receives a pardon ; and is the absolved trans- conclusion—what a monstrous notion of God gressor to be senseless and silent ?—No. do you entertain! Besides, has he not as
Being justified by faith, we have peace sured you in his word that his “ yoke is easy, with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By and his burden light”—that his “ ways are whom also we have access by faith into this ways of pleasantness, and that all his paths grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope are peace ?" And does not the experience of the glory of God. And not only so, but we of all those who have made the trial confirm glory in tribulations also. And not only so, the truth of the representation ? Have not but we also joy in God, through our Lord Je- his followers found that “ to the upright there sus Christ, by whom we have now received ariseth light in darkness ?" have they not the atonement.”
sung in seasons and circumstances which Other travellers are accustomed to relieve would have filled others with misery and the tediousness of their journey with a song. dismay! Behold Paul and Silas. At midThe Israelites, when they repaired from the night in the inner prison, their feet made fast extremities of the country three times a year in the stocks, their backs bleeding with the to Jerusalem to worship, had songs appointed recent scourge—they not only prayed - but for the purpose, and traveled singing as they " sang praises unto God!" Behold the went. And of the righteous it is said, “ They Church." She views every earthly resource shall sing in the ways of the Lord. The re- as dried up—but can say, “ Although the figdeemed of the Lord shall return, and come to tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be Zion with songs, and everlasting joy shall be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall upon their heads." Religion therefore is pro- fail, and the fields sh
yield no meat; the ductive of many pleasing feelings. And we flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there make use of this fact two ways.
shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will reFirst, we say that those who are habitually joice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of strangers to pleasure in divine things have my salvation.” Behold David. He bids fare reason to suspect their condition. Persons well to life; his heart and his flesh fail him may want the joy of confidence,
and yet have —but he exclaims, “ Yea, though I walk the joy of hope: and they may have very lit- through the valley of the shadow
of death, I tle, if any, of the pleasures of hope, while yet will fear no evil: for thou art with me; tby hey find pleasures in religious exercises and rod and thy staff they comfort me."