« AnteriorContinuar »
come. How often bad we been called to the house of mourning? How often had we been led to the sides of the grave ? How often did we sit under the joyful sound of the gospel ?. How time was lavished upon us ? What precious seasons did we enjoy for reading, meditation and prayer ?
And O the Sabbath ! what a weariness it was to us ? How did we profane it, or neglect its services, or hypocritically perform them ? But alas! notwithstanding all that has been done for us to prevent our ruin,, we are ruined ; and every effort for our good has been lost upon us and only serves to render us more inexcusable and more miserable than we could have been, if we had not enjoyed and abused such great and undeserved mercies.
5. They will realize that they destroyed themselves, which will be a source of bitter and perpetual reflections. They will be conscious to themselves, that they
. choose the path of ruin, that they hated the light ex. hibited before them ; that they resisted the strivings of the Spirit ; that they loved vanities and after them they would go.; that they would not examine their spiritual state, nor see the plague of their own hearts; that they put far away the evil day and would not consider their latter end; but counteracted all the means used to save them. Their conscience will tell them, that they cannot cast the blame of their destruction on God, nor on Christ, nor on the Holy Spirit, nor on saints, nor on sinners, nor on the great deceiver. They will be conscious, that nothing could have destroyed them, without their own choice and consent. They will find, that they were bound merely by the cords of their own iniquities. They will be convinced, that neither the native depravity of their own hearts, nor all the sins of their lives could have destroyed them, if they had not remained impenitent and continued to reject the counsel of God against themselves. They will know, that the chief of sinners were saved, by returning to God through faith and repentance ; and that they might have been saved upon the same gracious ana condescending terms. They will stand guilty and condemned, not only by God, but by the verdict of their own
consciences. They will be constrained to say, * This is our condemnation, that light came into the world, but we loved darkness rather than light, because our deeds were evil.” There
. fore while their whole souls are wrung with the keenest tortures, they will utter these mournful accents, “How have we hated instruction and our hearts despised reproofs; and have not obeyed the voice of our teachers, nor inclined our ears to those, who instructed us ! Had we been wise, we should have been wise for ourselves ; but since we foolishly scorned, we alone must bear it.”
6. They will reflect upon what they had done, not only to destroy themselves, but others. Whether they will retain their natural affections, or not, they will doubtless deeply regret that they were instrumental in destroying the souls of men. The rich man in hell is represented as deprecatiog the torments of others and especially of his own relatives, whom while living his vicious life had corrupted. He could not bear the thought, that his brothers should share his fate. Many of the damned will be chargeable with the guilt of corrupting and destroying precious and immortal souls, which must give thein bitter reflections. How can unfaithful parents, unfaithful ministers and ring-leaders in vice, bear to meet those, whom they have been instrumental in leadiag in the broad road to destruction ? Such ruined creatures must be perpetual objects of their dread and subject them to the insupportable pain of self-reproach and self-condemnation. The miseries and reproaches of those, whom they have ruined, will add an awful emphasis to their own torments, which will last as long as they can see, or hear or remember.
7. They will reflect upon what good they might have done, while they lived in the world. They will remember what a price was put into their hands to get and diffuse wisdom, to restrain folly and vice and to promote holiness and happiness. It will give them extreme pain to recollect what talents they buried or perverted and what numerous opportunities of doing
good they neglected. How will they feel, when they reflect what a blessing they might have been to all around them, by a life of virtue, piety and usefulness ; but that instead of being a blessing, they were a curse to the world and that instead of having the blessing of many come upon them, the curses of many will justly fall upon them and wound their feelings forever. Every talent they buried, every opportunity of doing good they neglected and all the good they might have done, will conspire to increase their guilt and sink then in misery.
8. It will pain them to think how they once despised and reproached godliness and all who lived holy and godly lives. They said it was a vain thing to serve the Lord ; and there was no profit in keeping his ordinances and walking mournfully before him. They esteemed and applauded the workers of iniquity as the wisest and happiest men in the world. But they now see and feel that the way, which once seemed right to them, was the way of death ; and 'that those, whom they once esteemed fools, were the only wise men on earth. They will be forever ashamed and con
, f unded, that they despised the wisdom of the just and applauded the folly of the unjust. The lives of their pious parents, friends and acquaintance will never recur to their minds, without leaving a sting behind. They can never forgive themselves, that they were so unwise and wicked, as to love those, whom they ought to have hated and hated those, whom they ought to have loved,
9. Their clear view of the happiness of heaven will be a source of tormenting reflections. They are represented as being punished in the view of heaven. Saint Jobn says, " They shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture in the cup of his indignation : and they shall be tor. mented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the huly angels and in the presence of the Lamb.” And Christ says of Dives, “In hell he lifted up being in torments and seeth Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom.” And all the damned will have the same view of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and of millions more, living under the smiles of iod, united in love, employed in praise and animated with the joyful prospect of rising in glory and blessedness to all eternity. This amazing contrast between the state of the blessed and their own wretched and forlorn condition will be forever exhibited before their eyes and constrain them to reflect, with the most painful sensibil ity, what they might have been. The gate of heaven was opened to them as well as to others, but they refused to enter in. They might have drank of those rivers of pleasure, which flow at God's right hand ; but now they have not a drop of water to cool their tongues. Neither Abraham, nor Isaac, nor Jacob, nor one of the inhabitants of heaven, will be either able, or disposed to pity, or relieve them.
When they turn their eyes to heaven, they can only gaze, lament and despair !
Finally, they will reflect not only upon what they have been and might have been ; but upon what they are and always will be. They will reflect, that being filthy, they shall be filthy still ; that being unholy, they shall be unholy still ; and that being miserable, they shall be miserable still. They will reflect, that God and Christ and the Holy Ghost and angels and saints will forever hate them; and that they will forever
1 hate one another. They will reflect, that as long as heaven resounds with joy, hell will resound with sorrow. This will constrain them to say, 0 eternity, eternity, eternity! Who can dwell with devouring fire ! who can dwell with everlasting burnings!
1. If the state of the damned has been properly described; then it is of great importance, that ministers should preach plainly upon the subject ; and if possible, make their hearers realize the danger of going to hell. There are many, at this day, who profess to doubt whether there be any such being as the Devil, or any such place as hell. And there are not a few others who would not have ministers use the name Devil, if there
be such a subtle adversary, nor the word hell, if there be sueh a place of torment. They wish preachers would be so complaisant, as not to wound their feelings and disturb their peace by exhibiting such disagreeable scenes and objects. That they are sincere in these desires, there can be no manner of doubt.
But it may be justly doubted, whether the ministers of Christ ought to condescend to gratify their unreasonable and dan. gerous desires. Christ preached much about the devil and hell. He called the great deceiver by his proper name; and used the proper word to designate the place of the damned. He said more about the person, the character, and.the malignant designs of the devil ; and more about the miseries of the damned, than any other teacher sent from God. And why should not his ministers imitate his example and preach plainly upon the same subjects, upon which be preached plainly ? Yea, rather why should they not preach as he commands them to preach ? His command is, ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. tie, that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved ; but he, that believeth not, shall be damned.” He scrupled not to say, “ If thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell into the fire that never shall be quenched : wbere their worm dieth noi and the fire is not quenched And if thy foot of fend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet, to be cast into the fire that never shall be quenched : where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out : it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be .cast into hell fire : where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” And he put this plain and pointed question to the impenitent : “Yo serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?” He also gave this sol- . emo warning to his followers : " Fear not them, who k the body, but are not able to kill the soul : but rather fear him, who is able to destroy both soul and