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coming in the clouds of heaven, the frame of nature dissolving, the judgment set, the books opened, the universe assembled, and the sentence of eternal death about to be passed on all who know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ ?
Did not Sodom also and the cities of the plain exhibit an instance of the same careless indifference and want of thought ? While Lot warned and exhorted they danced, they sung, they feasted and made merry; they bought, they sold, and laid themselves out for the world, till the day that God rained fire and brimstone upon them from heaven, and took them off in the pride of their hearts and ripeness of their sins, to the fire that never shall be quenched. And does not our Lord say that it shall be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for careless, delaying gospel sinners.
But, perhaps, as it is becoming fashionable, you will say you do not believe these things. And, what then ; shall your unbelief make the truth of God of none effect ? When the minister of God earnestly warns you of these things do you say we do not believe him. But upon what grounds do you refuse to believe him ? You confess that you have not considered them, and, therefore, cannot be competent to decide their truth or falsehood. O deceive not your own souls, but say at once, we will not believe them, for that is the real truth. And was it not just so when Noah preached, and Lot warned, and the Roman armies encompassed Jerusalem ! But did the water, or the fire, or the sword, therefore, stay their vengeance, and are not all these expressly set forth to us as types and representations of that great and dreadful day,when the LORD JESUS shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire to punish the ungodly.
When eternity is thus at issue shall any who have souls to be saved continue careless ? shall youth think it too soon, manhood be too much occupied with the world, or old age think it too late to come to Christ? a vain thing to consider and lay to heart the things which make for their peace. God forbid. To the young in particular I would now speak, and through them to every age.
To you, then, who build upon your youth as an excuse for the neglect of religion, I would put but one question, to show you the danger of such presumptuous procrastination. Have you made a covenant with death, or received from the Almighty an assurance of long life? If not, whence this blindness to the common experience of mankind. Do the young, and the healthy, and the robust never die ? Or is not death busier with our early years than with all the rest ? O forget not, my young friends, that it is only here one and there another, that comes to old age. Remember the poor man who said to his soul-Soul thou hast much goods laid up for many years ; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But in the midst of his security God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee—and apply it as a solemn warning to all who put off coming to Christ on the presumption that it is time enough yet, or from a love of the company, the amusements, the pleasures or the business of the world. You may fancy you are happy, my young friends; you may flatter yourselves with many years, and in present enjoyment drown the claims of your God and Saviour upon your souls, but all this must come to an end. And what then. In all this time what preparation is made for death, for judgment, for eternity-where is your pardon, your interest in Jesus CHRIST, and without these how will you face your last enemy? Oh! what an awful thought it is to have to meet death with the fixed conviction that he is but the forerunner of the second death, which knows not how to die or to escape from eternal misery and despair—that dreadful death from which Jesus now calls you but you will not come to him that you might have life, even life eternal. That miserable death which you now choose in the error of your life in opposition to truth, to reason, to interest, to the mercy of God and the love of Christ. Oh! terrible voice of most just judgment, which shall then be pronounced upon you, when the LORD JEsus, who died to save you, who in this world so mercifully invites you to come to him but ye will not, shall say unto you—Ye would not come to me, ye would not be made holy in time, ye cannot be made happy in eternity-Depart, therefore, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
But, thanks be to God, my brethren, there is a relief from this dark and dreary prospect, in the blessedness which awaits
those who, in this the day of their visitation, come to JESUS Christ for life, who learn of him and find rest to their souls. From that happy moment they are his peculiar care. The power of his providence and the blessings of his grace are all engaged in their behalf. Wisely, but darkly and wonderfully sometimes, he orders their course through the world, but whether in prosperity or adversity all things are made to work together for their good ; and in the closing scene of all our hopes and fears, he will be found as faithful in his promises as in his threatenings. When those who have here rejected him shall be banished for ever from the presence of the LORD and the glory of his power. Those who have here come to him and have endured unto the end shall enter into the joy of their Lord, into that inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and which fadeth not away-where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.
In this blessed hope, dear brethren, let us purify ourselves, even as He is pure. Let us walk worthy of our heavenly calling, adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things ; ascribing to God the Father, whose love and mercy provided our deliverance-to God the Son who died to procure it, and to God the Holy Ghost who won us over to enjoy it, all the glory and praise of our salvation, now and ever, world without end.
REVERENCE OF CHRIST.
MATTHEW xxi. 37.
“But, last of all, he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son."
The favour and providence of God towards the Jewish Church and nation, as being the vineyard he had planted and had watered with his heavenly dew, the doctrine of the law and of the prophets, with the unfruitful and ungrateful conduct of that people, form the groundwork of this parable: In which, by a very lively representation of their case and such as came home to the consciences of all who heard it, (for they at once united in acknowledging the just retribution due to their unjust and rebellious refusal of the rights of the lord of the vineyard, their cruel treatment of his messengers, and avaricious murder of his only son, and in deprecating the consequences of such conduct,) our blessed LORD endeavoured to awaken them to a right sense of the enormity of their guilt and imminent danger in slighting and rejecting this last overture of heaven's mercy; and in its application to the gospel Church to give to Christians in all ages the same warning, the same instruction.-For what the Jews once were, we now are—the Lord's vineyard. Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building, says St. Paul to the Corinthian Church, and as from them, so from us the owner of the vineyard yet expects those fruits, those grateful and obedient returns to his fatherly love and abundant goodness which not only justice but feeling, sincere love on our part and thankful subjection, should lead us to render. But, alas ! how much like that of the Jews is the present state of the Christian world. How are we become dead to the peculiar blessings of a state of covenant relation to God, cold to the continued proofs of his love, and insensible to the awful threatenings which are denounced against the abuse of his mercies. How is that name which, for the suffering of death for us God hath exalted above every name and made the only passport to his favour, and by the which we, as Christians, are called—how is it lessened and lightly esteemed, and even profaned and blasphemed, and the truth of his everlasting word and the convictions of bis Holy Spirit put aside by us for the world and its vanities, for our own vain conceits and groundless imaginations, as by the Jews of old. We cannot, indeed, equal them in infidelity, for obvious reasons. We cannot resist the evidence of Christ's miracles to our senses, because they are not wrought before our eyes. We cannot revile him to his face. We cannot crucify him at the gates of Jerusalem. But we can exceed their guilt in all these things by resisting the demonstration of the Spirit to the truth of the gospel, the convictions of our own consciences, the concurring testimony of eighteen hundred years, and the actual witness of the state of this very people, who are to this day outcasts and unowned, because they disowned the only begotten Son of God as their promised Messiah and offered Saviour; and we can and do crucify him afresh every hour of the day, and put him to an open shame by leading unchristian lives. This Scripture figure, so emphatically applied, by the apostle Paul, to ungodly Christians, we are too apt to consider as a mere figure of speech, or, what is more common, not to consider it at all. But if there is any truth in the promises and threatenings of the gospel—if none whom God is pleased to call to the knowledge of his grace by the revelation of Jesus Christ can excusably remain neutral even to the hopes and duties growing out of it, to the faith and holiness required by it, then should all such most deeply fear incurring the particular guilt thereby denounced, even in a higher degree than those very Jews who crucified the LORD of glory. For it cannot be said in our behalf as was in theirs, that we do it ignorantly in unbelief; every person under the gospel being fully informed of the person, office, and dignity of Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.