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And what constitutes the death of the soul? Not extinction of being the image of God's eternity must needs be immortal, it cannot die in that sense in which the mortal body is resolved into its original dust. The death of the soul, then, must consist in privation of that good for which it was formed, in suffering that evil which it has wilfully followed, and in enduring that punishment which is set forth in the torments of endless despair and everlasting burnings, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.
Now, my friends, have you ever tried to realize perdition under any shape? Have you ever reflected on an eternity of suffering, measured in its degree only by the unlimited power of Omnipotence, and in its duration, by the capacity of an immortal soul, in a body rendered imperishable to this very end ? O, if you never have, let what has now been said awaken you to the solemn meditation, and lead you to a profitable application of this warning, and of the deliverance within your reach.
To the conscience, to the reason, to the experience, then, of every soul now present let me appeal.
Is this testimony of God's word, a true and faithful witness on the subject before us ? Do reason, and experience, and conscience, all unite in confirming this to be the true condition of fallen man-carnal, sold under sin. Are we all conscious of a law in our members, warring against the law of our minds ? Have we the experience, that when we would do good evil is present with us? Do we not see the good, and approve of the good, and yet find not how to do it?
And is not this sufficient to convince us that there is an enemy within, which must be dispossessed before the divine image can be renewed in our hearts? Is it not of sufficient weight to interest and engage every being capable of thought, in this spiritual contest ? Awake, then, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and CHRIST shall give thee light. Awake, and look thy condition in the face. Be no longer blinded by the deceitfulness of sin, but learn the full extent of this mighty undoing—that Jesus Christ, and him crucified, may be the anchor of hope to thy soul. He came to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. He came to purchase mercy and grace for sinners penitent
and believing. He came to destroy death, and him that had the power of death, and having finished the work he had undertaken for us men, and for our salvation, he calls to the ends of the earth, to come unto him and be saved. To-day, then, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Think not lightly of that which cost the Son of God his life, to stay the sentence gone forth against it, and purchase a reprieve for sinners. Trifle not with the mortal disease which rankles in every fibre of soul and body with the contagion of eternal death—but come to the great physician of souls, who alone can arrest its progress and deprive it of its virulence. Come to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness in the blood of Christ, which taketh away the sins of the world. Come to the grace of the gospel, which renews the heartand reforms the life. Hear his faithful promisesin shall not have dominion overy you—and let it impart strength to the sin-sick soul, to pray and not to faint. Hear his awful threatening—As for these mine enemies, who would not have me to reign over them, bring them hither, and slay them before my face; and let it startle every delaying, parleying sinner, to count the cost at which he is trifling with eternity. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end. Merciful God unstop their ears, unclose their eyes, take the veil from their hearts, that they may learn the things which make for their peace, before they are for ever hid from their eyes, and iniquity prove their everlasting ruin.
SIN AND DEATH.
Romans v. 12.
"Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so
death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
Had heavenly wisdom never declared it to us, the cause of that sin and misery here, and of that eternal condemnation hereafter, to which we are all liable, my hearers, must for ever have remained hid from us, and aggravated the sufferings of time, by the bopelessness of any relief from them, even by the release of death. And it is but to consider the close connexion of what is revealed with our original inward impressions—the bearing it has upon our actual condition, and the universal relief it administers to our most pressing anxieties, to endear to our hearts the comfortable and blessed light which the gospel sheds over the dreary scene of this prison-house of sinners. I say universal relief, for even the sinner himself, though at war with God and the word of his grace, yet by a perversion without a parallel, takes comfort, from the discoveries therein made, against the horror and despair which must otherwise haunt every moment of cool reflection. And I appeal to the law written in the heart of every sinner present, whether he is not thereby condemned already; and to the knowledge which his education in a Christian land has given him of Jesus Christ, whether he makes him not the minister of sin, by a loose, inconsiderate expectation, that notwithstanding his heart condemns bim, and the law of God condemns him, and the gospel of Christ condemns him, yet somehow or another, God's mercy will excuse and acquit him at the judgment of the great day.
If this be true-and I fear not the answer that can be given to it-it confirms the leading truth of revelation, set forth in my text, of the fallen, ruined condition of our nature, of the misery of our state, as aliens from God, and enemies to his purity and holiness, and of the hopelessness of our prospects from any thing in ourselves. For surely that person who sees the good, yet finds not how to do it, who does the evil which the law of his own mind and the law of God alike condemn him for, and, in such circumstances, turns with contempt and disgust from the offer of grace and mercy procured for him by the merits of another, must have lost the original character impressed on him by his Creator.
Could this be doubted, the prevalence of the self-righteous principle in fallen man would confirm it; than which, the pride which ruins us, never sent forth a more destructive scionfor it consists in that presumptuous sense of his own worthiness, of the goodness of his heart, of the moral rectitude of his life, which betrays the sinner into meeting the requirements of God's holy law, without a shield from that infinite justice which demands, for every infraction of its purity, the tremendous vindication of eternal death. And it is at once a curious, instructive, and humbling exercise, to trace the workings of it in the heart, to consider how it prevails by the fattery of its approaches; how it wards off or disarms the testimony of the sinner's own heart to the guilt of his life, balancing many directly sinful actions by one or more real virtues or amiable traits of constitutional character.
It is true, will it say, you are profane in your conversation, but it is only habit, there is no malignity in your heart; you are lewd in your conduct, but you are just in your dealings and true to your word; you doubt whether you love God, but you show that you do so in the best sense, for you are friendly, liberal, and humane-you are charitable to the poor, and charity, you know, covers the multitude of sins. There is no occasion for uneasiness if persons of your correct deportment are in danger of damnation. Who, then, can be saved? And thus are thousands content to be hoodwinked by the ruinous sophistry, that because they are not the veriest profligates that disg race human nature, they are, therefore, in a safe way of salvation, and this in the very teeth of the misgivings of their own hearts, that all is not right for eternity.
But should these misgivings of mind be happily of a deeper and more hopeful nature, so as not to suffer them to rest satisfied with such commonplace defences; this evil spirit has still further resources of the same description. Should the sinner really admit that he is such, it can tell him that we are all sinners in the sight of God; that as fallen creatures we cannot be otherwise ; that God does not expect or require perfection from such; that he has given his Son Jesus Christ to atone for our sins, and supply all the deficiencies of our frail and imperfect endeavours ; that he only requires us to be sorry for our sins, to confess them, and trust in him for the pardon of them. And thus do multitudes stifle the convictions of a better spirit, and settle down upon the sandy foundation of their own righteousness, as far as it will go, and the mercy of God, with or without Jesus Christ, as it happens, for the balance. But, all this while, what God himself hath declared is unheeded; his acknowledged word lies unopened, unconsulted ; his clear and express testimony that there is salvation for the race of Adam only in the LORD Jesus Christ, whom God hath made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, and that the justice of God can no otherwise harmonize with his mercy, in the justification even of a penitent sinner, than as that sinner is found united in Christ by a living faith, is wholly diregarded.
Now let me ask this congregation of Christian people, do not those who thus act under the known and dread alternative of eternal glory or everlasting misery, set their seal to the truth of the doctrine contained in my text, and demonstrate, not merely the fact as revealed in the word of God, but the desperate and deceitful nature of the malady under which we all labour, and from which a heavenly physician alone can recover us.
But as they that are whole, or think themselves so, can hardly be persuaded to apply to the means of help and healing, and as no danger is so great as that which really impends over us, but is neither seen or regarded, I shall endeavour, with God's good help and blessing, so to apply the text as to demonstrate from the express declarations of God's word, from the confessions and acknowledgments of all holy men in all ages, and from the