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impenitent. They are unable to contemplate the taking down of their earthly tabernacle, without shrinking back from the thought of Death. The ghastly visage of the king of terrors affrights them; and they retire from the appalling sight with a consternation that utterly unnerves their whole frame. It is not difficult to find out the cause which renders death an object of such alarm. The ungodly dread it; first, because it deprives them of life and all its enjoyments, in which their happiness is altogether made up; and, secondly, because of the upbraidings of conscience, and a secret fear, lest God should punish their sins as they deserve. Thus "the sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law"." This is declared to be a most wretched thraldom, from which the Son of God rescues his believing people ".
How pitiable, in this view of the subject, is fallen man! The slave of sin and Satan, and terrified at the prospect of death, his case excites our compassion. Whilst he, in too many instances, hugs the fatal chains which oppress him, and glories in them as the ensigns of liberty, angels deplore his guilt, as a state of captivity, that (without the mercy of God) must end in eternal sorrow an!
5. Sinful man is also under condemnation. That holy Law, which sinners hourly break in word and deed, requires satisfaction for the injury it thus sustains. "Pay me that thou owest, or away to prison !" is the menace which it holds out to every transgressor. Nor will it abate a single iota of its demands, nor liberate its debtors, till all its claims are discharged. But what can guilty man do? Insolvent, and without any hope of retrieving his ruined circumstances, he can neither satisfy the law of God in future, nor repair
the past dishonour which he has offered to its righteous precepts. As the Law cannot tolerate the violation of itself, it takes its course, and pronounces condemnation upon every one that doeth evil. m
The execution of the sentence is mercifully suspended to "the hour of death and the day of judgThis short respite should not embolden the ungodly in the further commission of sin, lest they should thereby aggravate their punishment. It ought, as it is designed to do, to lead them to sincere repentance, that they may avert the wrath which the justice of God has kindled against them. So long as life is prolonged, there is some hope that even the most hardened offenders may relent, and accept the forgiveness which is tendered to them. But, if this grace is despised, "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking-for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adver saries. "Now, therefore, O sinner, is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation"." "God waiteth to be gracious." Earnestly sue for his mercy, that the sentence which is gone forth against thy crimes may be reversed, and exchanged, for a bright hope of eternal life.
6. Man, as a sinner, suffers greatly in this life. The introduction of sin brought with it a train of evils, to which we are subject from the cradle to the grave. "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." Irrational animals are doomed, by the will of God, to partake, with man, of the mischiefs occasioned by transgression. Yet he, as the sole offender, is deservedly the principal sufferer. Nothing which possesses life is liable to such an end
less variety of miseries as man. Though so much exalted above the brute creation, he is nevertheless subject to infirmities, wants, and distress, which are unknown to them. Every thing proclaims aloud the abject condition to which he is reduced by the Fall: the infirm and disordered state of his mind forcibly illustrates this. What an awful eclipse have his mental powers experienced! How ignorant is he with respect to those heavenly things which relate to his eternal welfare! What rooted dislike does he manifest to the requisitions of God's Word! What a stranger does he appear to be to the motions of his own heart! The diseases which attack his body are keenly felt; but, oh! how unconscious is he of the fatal complaints that defile and ruin his soul! Though he has lost the original righteousness of his nature, and is filled with unruly affections and wicked thoughts, he is as insensible of the nature of this spiritual malady, as a corpse is of pain. These things demonstrate that an unregenerate man is "dead in trespassés and sins." If it were otherwise, would he be ignorant, to such a degree as he is, of that loss of heavenly life and happiness which he has sustained by the Fall?
There are, however, sorrows peculiar to this state, which the mind cannot but sensibly feel. The cause which induces them is unknown to the generality; but the effects are too visible to be denied. The mind is exposed to pain and grief from its own innate depravity, as well as from the connection which it maintains with the body. The exercise of corrupt passions produces much bitterness. Pride, discontent, enmity, anger, malice, and cruelty, with all their dire attendants, cannot exist without occasioning some degree of smart to the conscience; the stings
of which are not unfrequently insupportable. Thus, harassed at seasons with a poignant sense of guilt, though he tries to stifle it, man, as a sinner, is deplorably wretched.
The numerous distempers which affect the body are more conspicuous, and, on that account, are more generally lamented, than those which assault the soul. "Man is born to trouble:" so that if you trace his path through life, from infancy to old age, it presents a continued scene of affliction, disease, and suffering. If, through the kindness of Providence, he escapes unhurt from the violence of one disorder, he is soon liable to be visited with
another, which may prove fatal. Fixed in a state where the natural elements are hostile to us, and where, from various causes, the arrows of death in different forms are flying around us, we are encompassed with manifold dangers.
Now sin is the fountain which has emitted these moral and natural evils. Its ravages in this way have been as extensive as the destruction was of the first-born in Egypt".
"Sin has turned the whole universe into a lazaretto. Every house is an infirmary, whose wards are filled with patients; some dragging out a miserable existence from an incurable malady; others, in different apartments, experiencing a sudden dissolution from apoplexy, or some fatal disease which numbers them with the dead; whilst others, gradually recovering from a long illness, are creeping about, following the directions of the physician, anxiously marking the symptoms of their complaints,alternately cheered by hope or depressed by fear, and wishfully sighing for the time, when, their health being restored, they Ex. xii. 29, 30.
may leave the sick chamber, to resume their accustomed occupations, or mingle in the pleasurable scenes of life."
If there are a few who seem to pass through this vale of tears without, sharing in these bodily sufferings, they are, in one sense, exceptions to the maxim, "Man is born to trouble:" yet not in another; for there are none of the human species who are exempted from the sorrows necessarily attendant on a state which sin hath cursed. All, in their intercourse with the world, find it a source of disappointment, vexation, and grief. All are forced to drink of the bitter cup, which sin has mixed, and continually holds to their lips.. Some, it is true, bear up under the pressure of sorrow with more fortitude than others: yet even they, who pretend to despise the ills of life, have occasional pangs of grief, which afford clear proofs that they participate in the general misery which accompanies our fallen state.
7. Sinners are liable to future wrath. Did their sufferings terminate here, it would be some alleviation of their misery. But the damning power of unpardoned sin is not destroyed by death. It prepares endless punishment for the impenitent, in the next world. Even now they are sometimes tormented with a fearful anticipation of the wrath to come; but hereafter they must assuredly realize all the curses which God has denounced against them. That eternal torments await them in a future state, is certain from the Divine Word: "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God ";"" where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched "." shall be revealed from uu Psalm ix. 17..
"When the Lord Jesus heaven, with his mighty
Mark ix. 48.