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that awful place, and on your way thither as fast as the flight of time can bear you. It is determined by the Divine purpose, that nothing shall stay the process, or arrest the execution, of that tremendous sentence but your conversion.
You could not be thus under the Divine condemnation unless you were an object of God's anger; and surely, the persuasion of this is enough to make you, or any other sinner, weep and tremble ! If you realized the anger of the Almighty, it might make you, it ought to make you, shudder, to think that you have deserved it, and anxious above all things to have it immediately averted. Do not, therefore, imagine, nor suffer any sophistry of sin, Satan, or wicked men to persuade you, that God is not angry with you, or that he will not in due time proceed to express his anger by punishment. He neither wants the right, nor the power, nor the will, to destroy those who are his enemies; to destroy them individually and severally : but he suspends the execution of his wrath for their sakes, and to make them monuments of his mercy. He waits to see if they will come to their right mind, repent of the evil they have done, and return, like contrite children, to their offended, but affectionate Parent.
It is further to be observed, that there is evil enough in the wicked principles which reign in the hearts of all unconverted persons, to kindle in them, even in this life, the fire that never can be quenched. If conscience were but roused in you, as it has been in many others not more guilty, to sting and torment, and to anticipate what is coming upon you, and may not be far off, you might feel even now horrors which would soon convince you that hell is a reality. Thousands of sinners have
confessed that they needed no other proof of eternal torments than what they bore in their own bosoms. What is it, then, that keeps you from feeling this beginning of eternal punishment ? Undoubtedly you might be made to feel it, as well as others. But you have not now in your heart the sense of his consuming wrath, because he is long-suffering, and has not yet allowed your sin to bring upon you all its consequences: but he will thus prevent its fatal issue only for a limited space; when that is expired, if the desirable end be not answered, if you be not converted, nor led to repentance by the goodness and forbearance of God, Rom. ii. 4, then he will take off all restraint from the power both of sin and of conscience. You, perhaps, do not at present perceive nor feel the mysterious and mighty power there is in sin, in conscience, and in the law of God, to turn your soul into a fiery oven, or to produce within you indescribable terrors. Hence that indifference, insensibility, and unconcern, which you may have long manifested, and over which you are now called to mourn.
Sinners in general are apt to presume upon impunity, because there are no visible means of punishment and destruction close at hand. But, like the sea under the influence of a storm, how soon may their souls be lashed into a fearful tempest of terror and anguish! It affords no security to a sinner, that he is at present in health, at present resolute, at present quite calm, at present, as he deems, safe and secure. He may not see the means by which he might be brought speedily to judgment. He may not be able to detect the agency by which the threatened vengeance may be executed. But there is a destruction
that walketh in darkness ; there are innumerable ways, all unseen by us, and by impenitent sinners seldom suspected, which may in an instant open before them a passage to perdition, and bring them, most unexpectedly, to their end. Unconverted persons, in every rank of life, walk heedless on the brink of the pit, or over a thin and rotten covering which conceals its mouth. How easily is he hurled over a precipice who stands close to its verge! If he stands blindfold, or in the night, and move but one step forward, he may plunge himself into destruction. Can any wicked person, any unconverted sinner, then, really feel himself secure for one moment, when he is reminded of that which he dares not dispute, that God possesses inexhaustible means of bringing his enemies to their end whenever it pleases him to do so; that is, whenever he decides that their probation shall terminate ? His quiver is full of arrows; they fly unseen at noon-day. The keenest sight cannot discern or anticipate them. The strongest shield affords no defence against them. Of these things you can scarcely be unconscious, and assuredly you will not attempt to dispute them.
Know then, unconverted sinner, that God has bent his bow, and made ready his arrow upon the strings. It is directed against your heart. See ! it points with deadly aim, with unerring certainty! Mark how justice strains the bow ! the arrow trembles upon the string, and is ready to fly forth! It is all but gone! Yet justice looks for the last assent, the Divine nod, waiting till the sovereign Arbiter says, Strike now, and once for all. --- An impenitent sinner, smitten by “ the pestilence that walketh in darkness,” once said,
“I will not die!” “No,” said the miserable comforters that stood around, “you shall not." But convulsions came on, and the awful scene was soon ended, without the sigh of repentance, or the slightest symptom of contrition. Take another instance. A few years ago, a gentleman of wealth in London, on his dying bed, felt so strong an aversion to dying then, and leaving his wealth behind him, that he hastily rose from his sick bed, went out, and walked in his yard, exclaiming that “ he would not die!” But the unhappy man's strength being speedily exhausted, his affrighted friends carried him back to his bed, where he soon after expired, and probably all the sooner for his mad effort to resist the summons. Alas! he knew nothing of conversion, and was destitute of faith in Him who promises eternal life to repenting sinners.
Reader, then, let me press upon your attention, let me affectionately urge home upon your heart, the most serious consideration of this sentiment, I will even call it this fact, that all those who have never passed through a Divine change of heart, a true repentance and an unfeigned conversion of the soul by the mighty power of the Spirit of Godall who were never born again, and raised from a death in sin to newness of life in Christ Jesus, are in the hands of a righteous God, and are held back from the destruction they have deserved only by his sovereign pleasure. The sole reason why you, if still unconverted, are kept from the place of punishment is, because God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Pet. iii. 9.
Let us now return again to the question with
which we set out. Can any unconverted person assure himself that he shall not be eternally lost? Can you! It is difficult to imagine that any can entertain the slightest hope that he shall escape, especially when he feels that he cannot annul the authority which says, “ He that believeth not shall be damned,” Mark xvi. 16; “ Except ye repent, ye shall all perish,” Luke xiii. 5. The unquestionable truth of Christ's words being admitted, it seems impossible for any unconverted person to find a single ray of hope, or shadow of a reason for expecting, that his eternal state should be otherwise than desperate. Whether he may entertain any vague notion of impunity for his sin, of mercy uncovenanted, of the improbability of God's fulfilling such threatenings as the Bible contains, of punishment hereafter being only temporary, or of forgiveness at the eleventh hour; whether he entertains such notions or not, it seems quite sufficient to say that he has no authority for any of them; and even in his own view, the very best or most probable supposition of final impunity, or escape from punishment, can afford but a forlorn hope. All these suppositions are mere spiders' webs, and can afford no solid ground of confidence. The sooner they are abandoned the better for his soul's safety and peace. If he prefers substance to shadow, Divine authority to the quicksands of human opinion and speculation, he will admit at once that nothing is more clear from the Bible than that no unconverted man can escape the wrath to come; and therefore he, while such, can possess no evidence, no, not even the shadow of evidence, against the statement that he himself is in a lost state, and, continuing in that