Page images

ço hath not left himself without witness” in any spot of the universe. In all his works a voice is heard. The voice of reason and conscience within unite with the voice of nature without to prove a God. But neither the voice without nor the voice within is heard by the atheist. He will not be persuaded. He cannot but feel his dependence, though he will not acknowledge it. He can neither account for his own existence or preservation, nor that of any thing else, without admitting a God. Still he will not believe. A review of the past, an apprehension of the future, are calculated to impress the sentiment of a Creator, a moral Governour, and accountableness. Yet a Creator, a moral Governour is disowned. There must then be great criminality in the temper of the atheist. His unwillingnefs' to believe a God is the true cause of his atheism. The divine perfections and providence are displayed to his view, no less than to the view of others. But the language of his heart is, I would there were no God: Hence all his thoughts are turned to the side of irreligion. Were he not hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, he would believe. Is it no crime, that through the pride of his countenar.ce he will not seek after God ?--that he hath corrupted his mind, and doth abominable works?

The same observations are applicable to the rejecters of revealed religion. Their deeds being evil, they love darkness rather than light. A revelation from heaven is possible-is greatly to be desired : Man's necessities call for it. Shall he not enquire, whether the Father of lights hath vouchfafed the inftruction fo necessary? whether the Father of mercies hath pitied man in his dark and perishing state? hath laid a foundation of hope for the guilty? If the guilty will not be at the pains to examine whether God hath offered the light and grace which their circumstances loudly call for will not receive his testimony-will not attend to the evidence laid before them, they refuse to hearken unto God.

It is criminal, in an high degree, to fix down in the conclusion, that whatever may be offered to mankind as divine revelation must proceed from fiction and fraud. This is neither more nor less than to determine that God never will nor can make a revelation of his will; or if he should, that his creatures are not obliged to receive it—that they may refuse to be taught of God. If we demand irresistible evidence, or such as the nature of the thing does not admit-If we examine with a view to cavil—If we will not admit the evidence which is abundantly satisfactory in other matters, a plain account may be given of our unbelief-such an account as furnishes the materials of our condemnation. To neglect and abuse the means and opportunities of faith is to reject the counsel of God against ourselves. The love of the truth is requisite to the knowledge of it and establishment in it.

You see the source of infidelity in an enlightened age. Unbelief is a fin; yea, it is the source of all other sins. The Spirit of truth reproveth the world of fin; because they believe not in Jesus Christ as fent of God. The first apostate and deceiver, who abode not in the truth, was afliduous to involve the human race in the same condemnation with himself. In imitation of him, infidels take pains to involve as many as they can in their own guilt. Their folly and presumption must be confessed, if they shall die in their sins.

The pominal Christian, while he cenfures avowed infidels, should reflect that his own faith is no other than that of devils. For such is faith without works. If unbelief is an heinous sin, faith is a precious grace. But faith of what kind ? Not the faith of such as love the praise of men more than that of God. Nor the faith of such as fall away in a time of trial : But believing with the heart unto righteousness-faith which overcomes the world-faith which is the substance of things boped for, and the evidence of things not seen—the faith of such as are crucified with Christ-Iuch as live in the Hesh by the faith of the Son of God—such as are rooted and grounded in love, who are conformed to the image of Christ-in whose hearts he dwelleth by faith. This faith is the great principle of evangelical obediencean inward submission to Christ, a consent that he should reign over us. The believer, to whom he is precious, is “ filled with the fruits of righteousness, as which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of « God.” He came to save from sin. Sin hath no dominion over Christians. They “ yield themselves un“ to God as alive from the dead. Having their fruit “ unto holiness, the end is eternal life.”

Sin and righteousness, enmity against God and reconciliation to him, unbelief and faith, walking after the flesh and after the Spirit, death and life, damnation and salvation, are expressions used in scripture to describe opposite characters and states. What foundation is there for the opinion that the whole human race are actually in a justified state through the Redeemer? What concord hath Christ with Belial ? or what

agreement hath the temple of God with idols ? or what part hath a believer with an infidel? Should the opinion of the final salvation of all men be true, nothing is hazarded by embracing and acting upon the doctrine which denies it. But should it prove false, irretrievable ruin must be the consequence of presuming upon its truth. No wise man can hesitate a moment, which fide to embrace, where the difference in point of safety is so obvious and great. While nothing is hazarded by embracing one side, every thing is hazarded by venturing on the other. One will certainly issue in eternal happiness; the other may issue in everlasting destruction. He must be a fool indeed, who would venture his foul on the presumption that all men will be saved, and on this presumption shall neglect the present day of salvation.

Those who die in their sins, and those that believe in Jesus, who came to save finners, are distinguifhed from each other in character and state. They are dir tinguished here, and will be hereafter. The Lord knoweth them who are his. They are made meet for the society, employments and bliss of the world above. They, as the friends of Christ, shall have an entrance ministered unto them into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord. But his enemies shall be cast out. Revelation guides us no further. Men may indulge any con. jectures : But they run an amazing hazard in trusting to conjecture against the clear voice of the sacred scriptures. We have no concern but with the public revelation in the old and new testament. Suppose a further revelation may be made, we know not what it will be: It certainly cannot contradict that already made, which is the only rule of faith and practice to us." To the law, and to the testimony; if they speak “not according to this word, there is no light in 6 them.”

A sense of future judgment and retributions is impaired, and may be destroyed, by a vicious life, and by the doctrine of fatality. While reflection is asleep, while refinements in scepticism are cherished, finners are unconscious that they are on the brink of a fatal precipice—that hell from beneath is open to receive them. “ If the righteous scarcely be saved, where “ shall” those appear who harden in sin?

Gloomy indeed must the shadow of death be to a finner under guilt uncancelled, scarce daring to lift his eyes to heaven, and beg for mercy. A review of life wafted and abused-counsel, warnings, reproofs, offers of mercy flighted, will naturally awaken apprehenfions, that it may be unavailing, too late, to folicit what has been long slighted. Or should such, as are yet in their fins, be unconcerned, and even confident, in the day of death, this is to rush into the presence of their Judge as the horse into the battle.

Will no after proposals of reconciliation be made to such as die in fin? Why should any finner flatter him

self that he may have a more convenient season to turn to God than the present ? It is surely a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, while estranged from him. Before judgment examine thyself; and in the day of vifitation thou shalt find mercy. "Think upon the wrath that shall be at the end, and the time of vengeance when he shall turn away his face.

It is not that the death of finners is any pleasure to God. He is not willing that any should perish. He waiteth that he may be gracious. He expoftulateth with them, Why will ye die? But they take occasion, from his forbearance, to harden against the denunciations of his wrath. The fabled tartarus of the heathen proved a greater restraint to them, than the revelation of the wrath of God against the unrighteousness and ungodliness of men is to many under the light of the gospel. The scenes of eternity, being out of sight and future, are forgotten, or regarded as fictions. Sinners would not be disturbed in their fins. Though assured that iniquity, persisted in, must be their ruin, they go on in their trespasses. They either flatter themselves that they shall have a further space for repentance, or disbelieve that soul and body shall be de ftroyed in hell, if they die impenitent. An awakened finner can excuse no delay to his conscience. Every plea for procrastination is to plead for the privilege of living without reflection. Is this a privilege? You are an intelligent and accountable creature. bound to an eternal world, to exist in bliss, or woe, according to the character formed in this short probationary state-a state which may not continue till to

Sinners have every reason to make haste, to make no delay, in turning their feet into God's commandments. The declaration of the God of truth, the anguish and horrour of impenitents in the day of calamity and danger, their own inward reproaches and apprehensions, unite to shew that unamending wickedness will be bitterness in the end.

You are


« PreviousContinue »