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state of being to which we are approaching is of eternal duration. And as we enter on the boundless ocean of eternity, we enter it under one of these awful sentences: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still:" or, "He that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." Rev. xxii. 11. And this day of solemn retribution is hastily approaching to us all; as it is written; "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Rev. xxii. 12.
The Divine Master particularly mentions some offences that should not be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come. Vide Matt. xii. 32. Luke xii. 10.
The wicked are represented as having their portion "where their worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched ;" but "the smoke of their torment ascendeth
up for ever and ever." Vide 2 Thess. i. 9. 2 Pet ii. 17. Jude 13. Rev. xix. 3, xx. 10. See also that interesting passage, Matt. xxv. from ver. 31-46, concluding with these striking expressions:-" And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." Here it is clearly asserted, that the righteous are admitted into life eternal, while the wicked go into everlasting punishment.
It has been remarked by a celebrated writer;
"What ardently we wish, we soon believe."
But however pleasing it may be to those who cling to sinful pleasures, to suppose that the judgments of the Almighty, in another state of existence, are temporary, and will soon pass over-however they may resort to inventions to find out expedients and plausibilities, in the
doctrine of purgatory, or the transmigration of souls, or the expiation of sins by the present inconvenience of vice; such schemes and notions are but human contrivances, that may indeed amuse for a while, but which they cannot carry with them beyond the grave.
On the manner in which we pass the time of our probation here, our final happiness or misery depends. How vain, how delusive is the idea, that any may slight the offers of Redeeming Love, and "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame" squandering away the invaluable time, which was given them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling; relying on another opportunity to be afforded, in some new body, or, perhaps, in some new world! Such an idea seems directly calculated to lay waste the responsibility of man, which forms one of the most powerful motives to circumspection and perseverance in well-doing.
Different, far different from these enervating and sin-pleasing speculations, are the views which are presented to us through the medium of Divine Revelation. Though unmixed and endless felicity on the one hand, and an eternal separation from God and happiness on the other, are represented as dependent on the manner in which we pass the time of our sojourning here-that time, with its conflicts and sufferings, in adorable goodness and condescension, is made short. We are not detained for ages in this troubled scene. A few short days or fleeting years are permitted to roll over us-a few comparatively earnest breathings to rise to heaven-a few painful conflicts to be endured-and a little space filled up, in persevering integrity to God, and in putting on his Divine nature! So short is human life, compared
with that state of being to which it leads, that we seem only to be called upon to arise, wash, and be clothed, before we leave this state of weakness and of conflict.
On the other hand, though human life is thus transitory-though the race of the wicked is short-yet they have time enough to make a decided choice. Nor is this all; they are called and invited to holiness by the Grace of God that brings salvation-convincing them of sin, inclining them to virtue, and giving them ability to overcome every temptation. To adopt a figurative mode of expression, used by Robert Barclay, the Apologist-they are not only convinced of sin, and inclined to righteousness, but the Redeemer lays hold on them, and would raise them out of their pollutions, and free them from every entanglement; if they, on their part, only will not resist the operations of this Redeeming Power. But if they refuse to be thus separated from their corruption if they resist the hand thus laid upon them in adorable goodness the consequence must be their own. The blackest crime that marks the depravity of man, is committed in a few moments. Nor was it a protracted period, formerly, in which the Jews rejected the Messiah, and put Him to the death of the cross; and this as effectually sealed their condemnation, as if they had been employed in it for ages. And thus it is with all others. If they reject and destroy the Life of Jesus in themselves, the act is complete in itself, whether it be done in a short or protracted period of time. They make that separation between God and their own souls, which must continue for ever. How preposterous would be the idea, that, because the chief priests and rulers of the Jews condemned and crucified our Lord in the short
space of a few hours, it would therefore have been consistent with the attributes of the Deity, to allow them the opportunity of going over the whole transaction again! And yet it would be as inconsistent with the Divine character, to permit this to be done spiritually, as outwardly: for it is as really a crucifying of the Lord Jesus, as that which was perpetrated by the Jews without the gates of Jerusalem.
How awful is the consideration of this important subject! to despise and reject the Heavenly Visitation, and finally destroy the only possible means of salvation! The measure of Grace thus given to each individual, as the means of salvation, is the purchase of Christ's death. If this is destroyed, is Christ again to suffer in the flesh? or did the apostle say truly, that "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." Heb. x. 26, 27. Hence the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the eternal duration of its consequences.
How short, how fleeting, are the moments of vanity! and how low the gratifications, for which the dreadful penalty is incurred-" Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." Matt. xxv. 41. How shocking to reflect, with what wild infatuation thousands are spurning the offers of Redeeming Love and eternal felicity, and rushing headlong, in the pursuit of delusive objects, to the abyss of ruin!
But, on the other hand, it is a cheering, animating reflection, that the Christian warfare will soon be over: "Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." "Behold, I come quickly; and my
reward is with Me." And how sweet is the responding language "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" Well might the apostle say; "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." Rom. viii. 18.
Let us then, warned by the dreadful consequences of disobedience, and animated by the hopes of the Gospel, press through every crowd of difficulties; "looking' unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down on the right hand of the Throne of God:" Heb. xii. 2. and who has promised; "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Rev. iii. 21.