Page images

to the heavens above and to the earth beneath and behold the God that made them. Ponder the frame of your own spirit, and see there, though in ruins, the image of God. Open the book of his message to his creatures, there learn bis holy and righteous will, the wonders of his love, and the terrors of his vengeance, and come, even now, at the eleventh hour, come to the God of all grace, by faith in his only begotten Son, who this day assures you, by me, his poor servant and minister, that he that cometh unto him he will in no wise cast out.

To sincere believers the application of what has been said, is the confirmation of the faith which they have. To be assured that there is a GoD over all, mighty in power, infinite in mercy, and glorious in holiness, who is watchful for their good, and without whose permission no evil can befall them, sheds over the wilderness of this poor world the light and comfort which renders the sorrows, sufferings, and disappointments it is filled with, bearable and profitable. Take it from us, my brethren, (though, thanks be to God, it is impossible to take it from us,) and whither could we turn for hope or patience? We know that our humble love and sincere though imperfect service will meet with an eternal reward ; that though every way unworthy of it, yet, through our Lord Jesus Christ, an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, is laid up

in heaven for us. Who, dear brethren, shall be able to separate us from this precious hope ? Shall unbelief, with its dark and uncomfortable prospects; shall the world, with its flattering temptations ; or sin, with its deceitful promises, step in between us and our God? No, God forbid. Let us hold fast, therefore, the profession of our faith without wavering. Having cast the anchor of our souls on the never to be shaken truth, that God is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Thanks be to God for all his mercies, and for JESUS Christ through whom they are ours.



PSALM vii. 11.

"God is angry with the wicked every day."

The most alarming and dangerous condition that can be imagined is, that of exposure to the wrath of God. No serious mind can contemplate it with any composure, nor can any rational mind choose to continue liable to such utter and irreversible destruction as must follow its exercise.

To what, then, my brethren and hearers, are we to ascribe the prevailing disregard of the sanctions of eternity manifested by the numbers who know and profess to believe that life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel, that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men, that God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, when the wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God? Is it to unbelief—that they really do not give credence to what nevertheless they profess to receive as the truth of God? Certainly the Scriptures ascribe it to this cause upon the sure ground that a belief professed which yet produces no corresponding effect, is, in fact, no belief. But as this is affirmed, rather of the saving efficacy of faith, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, than of the fact, that men may and do believe in the sense of acknowledging what nevertheless produces little or no effect upon the conduct of their lives ; some other cause must be assigned for this disregard in practice of what is yet admitted and assented to by all.

As the most general, then, I would assign the want of due consideration. Men content themselves with the admission of the fact, but they do not take and carry it out in its application to themselves ; they do not dwell upon it as a practical truth, upon which both time and eternity are suspended. They do

VOL. II.-7

not consider it as divine and infallible information, kindly given for them to act upon as upon any other truth affecting their interest; and thus the way is open for every delusion of the world, every deceit of sin, and every artifice of the devil, to enter in and prevail against their souls. To what but inconsideration of known and adınitted truth, can it be ascribed, my brethren, that the threatenings of God against sin and the promises of God to repentance are equally disregarded by those who yet, in terms, confess that they are sinners, and consequently are exposed to the wrath of God? To what other cause can it be assigned, that, amidst the visible uncertainties of human life, we see all ages so utterly negligent of the only rational preparation for a peaceful and happy death? What else is it that deludes the habitual, wilful sinner into the monstrous absurdity of setting off the mercy of God against the wrath of God, and thence encouraging himself to go on still in his wickedness? From what other source does it spring, that the more orderly and moral portion of the community speak peace to themselves in a righteousness which exceeds not the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees? And how otherwise can we account for the preponderance of the world and the things that are in it in the affection and pursuit of immortal beings, who have revealed to them and prepared for them an everlasting and unfading inheritance of heavenly glory, on the condition of overcoming the world? These are inquiries of force, sufficient to detect that evil heart of unbelief which neutralizes both the promises and threatenings of Almighty God, converts the glorious discoveries of the gospel into a dead letter, and the ministry of reconciliation into an occasion of deeper condemnation, and which, if followed out as they ought to be, will prove mighty to awaken in every heart the serious investigation of its condition as in the sight of God, and enable us all to determine, whether we are vessels of wrath or vessels of mercy.

It is a very solemn inquiry, my hearers, and one which no person should be heedless or even indifferent in making, much less opposed to; because it is only by knowing what we are that we can be confirmed in what is right, or be moved to become what we should, and what we may be. Let us, therefore,

consider the text as presenting the following points to our most serious attention :

First, what description of persons is here intended, by the worås the wicked.

SECONDLY, what will be the consequences of God's anger to those who continue to be of this description.

THIRDLY, by what means the character itself may be changed, and the consequences escaped.

God is angry with the wicked every day.

I. First, to consider what descriptions of persons are here intended by the words the wicked.

In the actual condition of the world, and from the very nature of virtue and vice, there can be but two descriptions of characters among mankind, in the estimation of Almighty God. And these are, the righteous and the wicked. And though there are undoubtedly degrees in virtue as well as vice, not only in our sight, but also in the sight of God, yet as these are opposite principles, one of which inust have the ascendancy in every individual, bis denomination is thereby determined. In a state of trial for recovery from the fatal effects of sin, which is that of mankind in the present life, every thing of a moral nature must be progressive; men grow gradually better, or gradually worse, according to the means and exertions made use of. In this mixed condition, to find a character so bad that in it there is no good thing, or so good that in it there is nothing bad, is out of the range of our experience; and though with our limited view of motive and conduct, we may not always be able to ascertain with certainty the predominant principle, and thereby the denomination of the man, yet to Almighty God there is no such obstacle, but every individual stands fully disclosed and thoroughly understood in the absolute truth of the presiding principle which determines bis moral condition as righteous or wicked.

This standard principle, for the determination of moral condition, is set forth in Scripture under a great variety of expressions, all enforcing the irrefragable truth, that the union of a right motive with a good action, is that which alone renders the conduct of accountable beings righteous and acceptable with God. Either make the tree good and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and his fruit corrupt ; for the tree is known by his fruit. Hence, as the love of God is the love of goodness, absolute and unqualified—where this principle is shed abroad in the heart, as the apostle expresses it-it will manifest itself by its proper fruits. These may and, indeed, will be accompanied with much imperfection, and mixed up with many of the corruptions of a fallen nature, even in the best of men. Nevertheless, as God looks upon the heart, as he sees there its true desire, and discerns the godly sorrow and self abasement, which grow out of this infirmity and corruption, and how earnestly it is prayed and striven against, he also sees there his own image renewed in part; he sees it improving to a fuller and stronger likeness, and he approves of and accepts it according to the merciful conditions of the grace given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.

On the other hand, as the love of sin is the love of vice and wickedness, equally absolute and unqualified, where this predominates, it will also manifest itself by its proper fruits. These, in like manner, may be accompanied with occasional instances of good done to and compassion manifested for others. But, as the same God sees in the heart no feature of his renewed image ; as he discerns no motive to sanctify the exercise of constitutional good-nature and self-gratification ; as, the love of sin, and not the love of God and goodness, rules and predominates over the conduct of the man, he is classed, accordingly, among those with whom God is angry every day or continually.

Hence, the two descriptions of mankind are represented in the Scriptures according to the principle by which they are respectively actuated. Of the wicked it is said, that God is not in all his thoughts ; that there is no fear of God before his eyes ; that the wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God. And of the righteous it is said, that they delight in God; that they fear God and keep his commandments ; that they set the LORD continually before them; that they seck after God. From this delineation of character, we may understand to what description of persons the words of my text apply—and so apply,

« PreviousContinue »