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body in hell.” And is it strange, that he, who came
, to save the souls of men, should preach so plainly and pungently upon this most solemn and interesting subject? And can they, who watch for souls, as those who must give an account and who view sinners in the utmost danger of being cast into hell fire and suffering the damnation of hell, neglect to warn them of their danger, in the very language of Christ, without being guilty of the blood of souls?
2. If the miseries of the damned be such, as have been described, then it deeply concerns sinners to take heed how they hear the gospel. It is the gospel only, that has brought life, and immortality to light and revealed all that we know, or can know, concerning the invisible scenes and objects of the invisible world. The heathens have conjectured that there is some place beyond this world, where some departed spirits are happy ; and that there is some place beyond this world, where some departed spirits are miserable ; but they know nothing about such a place, as the gos. pel represents heaven to be and nothing about such a place, as the gospel represents hell to be. Even Cicero, the wisest and most learned of the heathen moralists, was doubtful whether the soul were immortal, or had any existence beyond the grave. But the gospel gives us infallible evidence, that the souls of men are immortal and shall enjoy everlasting happiness, or suffer everlasting misery, after they leave this mortalstate. The gospel clearly describes the place, the business and the blessedness of heaven ; and the place and bitter reflections of the damned. T'he gospel reveals the method, which God has devised to save sinners from the wrath to come, and to raise them to the world of glory and blessedness. The gospel, there. fore, is the only medium through which sinners can possibly be saved. If they hear, understand and cordially embrace it, they shall have everlasting life ; but if they refuse to hear, understand and cordially embrace the terms of salvation, they must suffer the damnation of hell. These are the most important truths and the most weighty motives, that can be exhibited
before the minds of sinners, to awaken, eonvince and convert them. So Abraham thought ; for when Dives entreated him to send Lazarus to warn his brethren of the danger of their coming to that place of torment, where he was confined, he said, “ They have Moses and the prophets ; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham ; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
And he said unto bim, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be pursuaded, though one rose from the dead.” If men believe the gospel, they must be
” saved ; but if they disbelieve and reject it, they must be damned. It is a solemn thing to hear the gospel, which must infallibly be a savour of life unto life, or a savour of death unto death, to every one that hears it,
3. If the miseries of the damned be such, as have been described ; then we see why the scripture represents this world so dangerous to sinners. The Bible is full of the most solemn warnings and admonitions to sinners to guard against the love of the world and the things of the world. Christ preached a great deal against the love of the world. He declared that no man could embrace the gospel and become bis sincere follower, unless he denied himself, took up bis cross, , and renounced a supreme attachment to the world. He preached this doctrine so plainly to the amiable young man, that it destroyed all his hopes, and sent him away sorrowful.
He said, 6. It was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And he spake the parable of Dives and Lazarus on purpose to warn sinners against the love of the world. He represents the rich man as clothed in purple and fine linen & faring sumptuously every day ; plainly intimating that it was owing to his undue attachment to the world, and the enjoyments of the world, that he lived and died impenitently and plunged himself into the bottomless pit of destruction. And he spake another parable of a more laborious and industrious man, who destroyed himself, not by luxury or intemperance, or any thing that is called vicious, but
by the supreme love to the world, But why is the love of the world represented so dangerous and destructive to the souls of men ? The plain reason is, that the world and all the things of the world, directly and powerfully tend to dissipate the thoughts of men ; and so to prevent all serious reflections upon God and upon every thing serious, important and eternal.
An habitual attention to this world excludes an habitual attention to another world ; an habitual love to this world excludes an habitual love to another world ; and worldly mindedness excludes heavenly mindedness. While the scenes and objects of this world engross the attention and affections of men, they are always stupid and regardless of the happiness of heaven and the torments of hell. Why are young men men so generally careless_and stupid about the salvation of their souls? The cause is visible....
.--They are all attention and zeal in pursuing the vanities and amusements of the world. Why are those on the stage of action and in the meridian of life, so stupid and regardless of future happiness and misery? It is because the more serious business and concerns of this life shut out the thoughts of a future and eternal life. Men are formed for thinking, reflecting and anticipating ; and they cannot belp
employing their thoughts about either temporal, or eternal things. And if it were not for thinking about and loving the world, they would think about and love God and divine things. The world would do men no harm, if they would only give it its proper place in their thoughts and in their hearts. But it is of the most ensnaring nature and has ruined the souls of millions among the poor as well as the rich ; among the learned as well as the uns learned ; among the industrious as well as the idle ; among the moral as well as the immoral ; and among the old as well as the young.
The world would destroy'all men, who live in it, if it were not for the sovereign grace of God, in controling the views and renewing the hearts of some. The apostle's admonition therefore, deserves the most serious regard.
" Love not the world, neither the things of the world. If any
man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” But Christ's question is still more solemn and impressive. “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?”
4. If the miseries of the damned arise from bitter reflections; then all sinners in their present state are fit for destruction. They have just such views and feelings and reflections in kind, as the damned have. They hate to be what they are, rational, immortal and aceounta ble creatures. They hate to be where they are in a state of probation, where life and death, eterual happiness and eternal misery, heaven and hell are so often exhibited before them. They hate to retieci upon what God is and what they are ; or upon what others have done to save them, or upon what they have done to destroy themselves; or upon the state of the blessed in heaven ; or upon the state of the miserable in hell, or upon what they may be to all eternity. They have the same love to sin and hatred to holiness, t.at the prisoners in despair have. They have the same the enmity to God, to Christ, to good men anú to oni azother, that the great adversary and ail his subjects have. Cbrist has told them, that they are of their father, the devil. And they need no change of heart, to fit them to be his companions in sin and misery forever. Their own weight of guilt would sink them down to the regions of darkness and despair, if the forbearing mercy of God did not prevent it. But yet they think and say, that they are not totally depraved ; that they do not deserve endless torments, nor are in danger of being east into hell ; that they are whole and need not a phy. sician ; that their character and state are misrepresent
l ed'; and that they have a right to trust in their goodness. They justify themselves and condemn God and his law and despise the thought of being in danger of hell fire which they think is too often mentioned. They say to themselves, that they are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing ; and know not that they are wretched and miserable, and poor and blind and naked. Such views and feelings, if continued in,
must ripen them fast fo: desiruction. They are in the situation of one, who was cherishing the vain hope of long prosperity, but whose soul was suddenly called into eternity
5. If the miseries of the damned and the character of sinners be such, as have been described, then there is reason to fear, that some sinners are very near to the pit of perdition. They are in the broad road, which has led many such persons as they are to the place, where there is no light and no hope. The symptoms of eternal death are upon them, though they know it not. They have reason to fear, that God will cut them down, or say, let them alone. To such Christ said, “ Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?» It is God's usual method to send the spirit of slumber to sinners, before he executes the sentence of eternal death. And has not the spirit of slumber been long visible among many sinners here ? And does not this forbode, that the time may be near, when they will awake and lift up their eyes in torments ? Preachers did not make these marks of danger, but God has made them in bis word. Be entreated to read bis word and compare your characters and conduct with his word. And if you do not find yourselves condemned by Moses and the prophets, by Christ and his apostles, you need not fear what preachers say. But if you do find yourselves condemned by Christ himself, “ fear him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”