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heard that voice? The Lord has not yet pronounced against you a sentence of condemnation; He is not willing to abandon you either to your own misery; He comes to you; He seeks you; He calls you by His word, and by a thousand means; He says to you, even this moment, by my feeble voice, where art thou ?-Yes, where art thou ? thou who hast so often sinned against thy God, violated His laws, despised His word, and hast never yet taken sackcloth and ashes to weep over thy sins; who hast never yet supplicated thy divine Redeemer to receive thee in His mercy? Where art thou? On the edge of a precipice, with a sentence of eternal condemnation suspended over thy head, and thou awaitest the fatal day with a mad indifference! Where art thou, thou who receivedst from thine infancy, through the care of a pious father, or of a tender mother, religious impressions, which should have bound thee to thy God, and hast been so unhappy as to let thyself be taken in the snares of a sinful world, and drawn into ruin by the torrent of vice? Where art thou, thou who, disgusted with the world, its bitter pleasures, its deceitful joys, hast, never yet sought in God, and in the Saviour's cross, the peace and happiness which the world cannot give, and the only remedy for the agonizing wounds of thy heart? Where art thou, young man, young woman, who art madly pursuing after vanity, consumed by desires which shall never be satisfied, and cradled in hopes which shall ever be disappointed ? Where art thou, unhappy old man, who bearest upon thy hoary head the traces of many years spent amid miseries over which thou hast groaned, without ever having learned true wisdom? All who now hear me, all of us who are here before God, let us answer, let us banish delusions; where are we? Where are we as to God, as to our own souls, as to heaven, as to eternity ?
O, may we listen to that voice, while God is addressing it to us in His mercy! May we, like Adam, open our eyes to our miserable state! Yes, may we feel the same shame and the same terror; though a blush were to mount up upon our humbled front, and accuse us before the eyes of the universe ; though the voice of the Lord were to make us tremble to the very bottom of our soul, God grant that we may see ourselves as we
are! I would rather, a thousand times, see you blush with shame, or tremble with terror, than see you sink into a guilty and lukewarm indifference, or lulled in a vague profession of Christianity, without life, and without power.-My God, I ask Thee, if it must be so, let the blush of shame, and the trembling of terror, be witnesses of our humiliation, and of our repentance !
My brethren, if God hear this prayer, if ye learn to know yourselves before Him, if your eyes be opened, ah! have not recourse to the miserable expedients which we have pointed out, to cover your shame ; and when you have seen all your nakedness before God, may you chaunt with the prophet this song of redemption: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garment of salvation, and covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh him self with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels !"*
* Isa. Ixi. 10.
THE INTERROGATORY.-THE EXCUSES.
GEN. III. 11-13.
“And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked ? Hast
thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee, that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat."
Sin, as we have already seen, has been introduced into Eden; the voice of the Lord has been lifted up against this violation of the established order of the moral world. Guilty man has fled in trepidation-fled from the presence of his God. But in vain does he hope, under the pretence of hiding his nakedness, to hide his sin and his shame. He must appear before Him who searcheth the heart; he must give an account of this very shame which he feels; he must confront the law which he has violated. A solemn tribunal is erected; the righteous Judge questions His creature as to the use which he has made of his liberty, his innocence, and his responsibility. He must answer; that which is hidden must be brought out to the light of day.
My brethren, let us approach into the presence of God, let us hear his interrogations. They have been recorded for our instruction; they concern every one of us, inasmuch as they contain the basis of that judgment to which we shall all be subjected, and the chief heads of that indictment which shall be brought against us.
The interrogatory of the Judge and the answers of the accused shall successively occupy our attention.
“I heard Thy voice and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Such were the words of Adam, troubled in his conscience by the approach of God-words which at once betray his crime and his confusion. Already the unhappy criminal feels the misery of sin, already he trembles at the voice of God, whose presence but lately was his happiness;