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must lie in prison if your debts with men be not paid ; but, O! what is it to the prison of hell, where you must be confined for ever if your debts to the justice of God be not remitted, and you do not obtain an interest in the righteousness of Christ, which alone can make satisfaction for them! You must fuffer hunger and nakedness unless you take care to provide food and raiment ; but you must suffer eternal banishment from God and all the joys of his presence if you do not labour to secure the one thing needful. Without the riches of this world you may be rich in faith and heirs of the heavenly inheritance. With. out earthly pleasures you may have joy unspeakable, and full of glory in the love of God, and the expectation of the kingdom reserved in heaven for you. Without health of body you may have happiness of fpirit; and even without this mortal life you may enjoy eternal life. Without the things of the world you may live in want for a little while, but then you will soon be upon an equality with the greatest princes. But without this one thing needful you are undone, absolutely undone. Though you were as rich as Cræfus, you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Your very being becomes a curse to you. It is your curse that you are a man, a reasonable creature. It had been infinitely better for you if you had been a toad or a snake, and so incapable of sin and of immortality, and consequently of punishment. O then let this grand necessity prevail with you!
I know you have other wants, which you should moderately labour to provide for, but O how small and of how short continuance! If life and all should be lost, you may more than find all in heaven. But if you miss at this one thing, all the world cannot make up the loss.
Therefore, to conclude with the awakening and resistless words of the author I before quoted, “ Awake, you suggilh, careless souls! your house over
do keep intes, between vodough now
your head is in a flame! the hand of God is lifted up! If you love yourselves, prevent the stroke. Ven. geance is at your backs, the wrath of God pursues your fin, and wo to you if he find it upon you when he overtaketh you. Away with it speedily! up and begone ; return to God! make Christ and mercy-your friends in time, if you love your lives! the Judge is coming! for all that you have heard of it fo long, yet still you believe it not. You shall shortly see the majesty of his appearance and the dreadful glory of his face; and yet do you not begin to look about you, and make ready for such a day? Yea, before that day, your separated fouls shall begin to reap as you have fowed here. Though now the partition that stands between you and the world to come do keep unbelievers strangers to the things that most concern them, yet death will quickly find a portal to let you in: and then, finners, you will find such do. ings there as you little thought of, or did not fenfibly regard upon earth.--Before your friends will have time enough to wrap up your pale corps in your winding-sheet, you will fee and feel that which will tell you to the quick, that one thing was necesa fary. If you die without this one thing necessary, before your friends can have finished your funerals, your fouls will have taken up their places among devils in endless torments and despair, and all the wealth, and honour, and pleasure that the world afforded you will not ease you. This is fad, but it is true, firs; for God hath spoken it. Up therefore and bestir you for the life of your souls. Necessity will awake even the fluggard. Necessity, we fay, will break through ftone walls. The proudeft will stoop to neceffity: the moft flothful will beftir themselves in necessity: the most careless will be industrious in neceffity : neceffity will make men do any thing that is possible to be done. And is not necessity, the highest neceflity, your own neceflity, able to make you caft away your fins, and take up an holy and heavenly life? O poor
us will ads can het this one thing
fouls! is there a greater necessity of your fin than of your salvation, and of pleasing your flesh for a little time than of pleasing the Lord and escaping everlast. ing misery?". O that you would consider what I fay! and the Lord give you understanding in all things! Amen.
SAINTS SAVED WITH DIFFICULTY, AND THE CERTAIN
PERDITION OF SINNERS.
1 Pet. iv. 18. And if the righteous scarcely be saved,
where all the ungodly and the finner appear? THIS text may found in your ears like a message
from the dead; for it is at the request of our deceased friend * that I now insist upon it. He knew so much from the trials he made in life, that if he should be saved at all, it would be with great difficulty, and if he should escape destruction at all, it would be a very narrow escape ; and he also knew so much of this stupid, careless world, that they stood in need of a solemn warning on this head; and therefore defired that his death should give occasion to a fermon on this alarming subject. But now the unknown wonders of the invisible world lie open to his eyes; and now also he can take a full review of his paffage through this mortal life ; now he fees the many unsuspected dangers he narrowly escaped, and the many fiery darts of the devil which the shield of faith repelled ; now, like a ship arrived in port, he reviews the rocks and shoals he pafled through, many of which
lay under water and out of fight; and therefore now · he is more fully acquainted with thedifficulty of salvati.
on *. The person was Mr. James Hooper; and the Sermon is dated Aug. 21, 1756.
on than ever. And should he now rise and make his appearance in this assembly in the solemn and dread attire of an inhabitant of the world of spirits, and again direct me to a more proper subject, methinks he would still stand to his choice, and propose it to your serious thoughts, that if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the finner appear?
The apostle's principal design in the context seems to be to prepare the Christians for those sufferings which he saw coming upon them, on account of their religion. Beloved, says he, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, verse 12. but rejoice ina asmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings : it is no strange thing that you should suffer on account of your religion in such a wicked world as this, for Christ the founder of your religion met with the same treatment, and it is enough that the servant be as his master, ver. 13. only he advises them, that if they must suffer, that they did not suffer as malefactors, but only for the name of Christ, ver. 14, 15. But, says he, if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, ver. 16. for the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God. He seems to have a particular view to the cruel persecution that a little after this was raised against the christians by the tyrant Nero, and more directly to that which was raised against them every where by the feditious Jews, who were the most inveterate enemies of christianity. The dreadful destruction of Jerusalem, which was plainly foretold by Christ in the hearing of St. Peter, was now at hand. And from the sufferings which chriftians, the favourites of heaven, endured, he infers how much more dreadful the vengeance would be which should fall upon their enemies the infidel Jews. If judgment begin at the house of God, his church, what shall be the doom of the camp of rebels? If it begin at us christians who obey the gospel, what shall be the end of them that obey it not? Alas! what VOL. II.
shall become of them? Then that obey not the gospel of God, is a description of the unbelieving Jews, to whom it was peculiarly applicable; and the apostle may have a primary reference to the dreadful destruction of their city and nation which was much more severe than all the sufferings the perfecuted christians had then endured. But I see no reason for confining the apostle's view entirely to this temporal destruction of the Jews : he seems to refer farther to that still more terrible destruction that awaits all that obey not the gospel in the eternal world ; that is to say, if the children are fo feverely chastised in this world, what shall become of rebels in the world to come, the proper state of retribution? How much more tremendous must be their fate!
In the text he carries on the same reflection. If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and ihe finner appear? The righteous is the common character of all good men or true christians; and the ungodly and the finner are characters which may include the wicked of all nations and ages. Now, says he, “ if the righteous be but scarcely saved, saved with great difficulty, just faved, and no more, where shall idolaters and vicious finners appear, whose character is so opposite?”
The abrupt and pungent form of expression is very emphatical. Where Mall the ungodly and the finner appear! I need not tell you, your own reafon will inform you : I appeal to yourselves for an answer, for you are all capable of determining upon so plain a case. Where shall the ungodiy and the finner appear? Alas ! it strikes me dumb with horror to think of it : it is so shocking and terrible that I cannot bear to describe it. Now they are gay, merry, and rich ; but when I look a little forward I see them appear in very different circumstances, and the horror of the prof. pect is hardly supportable.”
St. Peter here supposes that there is something in the condition and character of a righteous man that