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How will the stubborn infidel, who treated these discoveries as the inventions of fancy, and the hardened sinner, who despised and neglected them; ah! how will they start from the slumbers of midnight, the bed of debauching pleasures, or the couch of rioting and revelling excess, in wild affright and disorder, when they shall behold with their eyes, and feel, to their sorrow, what once they would not believe, or willingly forget! Now they can disbelieve and forget no longer. The great and terrible day of the Lord is arrived.
" The fatal period, the great hour is come,
And nature shrinks at her approaching doom;
Ņow the day is actually " come, which burns as an oven, and all the proud, (all infidels, and all that do wickedly, (all impenitent sinners,) shall be as stubble : The day is come that shall burn them up, and leave them neither root nor branch."
13" Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, sound an alarm in the holy mountain, let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand: a day of darkness and of gloominess; a day of clouds and of thick darkness!" Jesus descends with his holy angels ; "a fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth.” See, ye blind, the vice torious blaze of irresistible and all-conquering fire! It rends the rocks, consumes the forests, melts down the mountains, lays cities, yea, whole kingdoms, in ashes, and envelopes the whole earth! Behold, it rises, swells, spreads, and overwhelms all with an universal deluge! While in the meantime,
" Black rising clouds the thickend ether choke,
And spiry flame shoot through the rolling smoke,
Hear, ye deaf, the rebellowing and aggravated roar of hoarse muttering thunder, the mighty voice of the great archangel, and the all-alarming trump of God! Feel, ye stout-hearted, the earth quaking and opening, the mountains trembling and removing, the hills reeling and sinking, the valleys heaving and rising! Feel, or
be for ever hardened, the shock of conflicting elements, and the dash of ruined worlds !
14. Awake! awake! ye sleepy sinners! Shake off your fatal slumbers ! Arise from the bed of sloth, and the lap of enchanting pleasures ! Haste, haste, and flee for shelter from this day of wrath and unrelenting fury! If you delay till this day overtake you, then, alas ! whither can you flee? The earth quakes, trembles, and
the storm of divine vengeance lowers and bursts upon your guilty heads, and ruin and perdition surround you on every hand! The frowning Judge, whose just indignation you have provoked, and whose almighty wrath your sins have kindled, fixes his piercing eye upon you, and marks you out as the butt, at which he will shoot his fiery arrows, and direct the thunderbolts of his everlasting indignation. And now it is in vain to cry to the rocks and mountains to fall upon you and hide you; the rocks and mountains cleave asunder, yea, flee away, and leave you destitute and forsaken, exposed to all the artillery of omnipotent fury, and in the midst of dark and fiery torment.
15. Oh, that men were wise, that they would understand this, that they would consider their latter end! Oh, that they would lay these things to heart, and “take heed lest at any time their heart be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and so that day come upon them unawares, for as a snare shall it come upon all them that dwell upon the face of the earth !" Oh, that they would " watch and pray always, that they might escape those things which are coming upon the earth, and stand before the Son of man, with joy and not with grief."
THE CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO SHALL BE CONDEMNED BY
CHRIST AT HIS COMING.
The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty an
gels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess. i. 7, 8.
1. It being absolutely certain that our Lord will come again, and when he comes, will be revealed in all the glory of his majesty., and in all the terror of his justice; not properly in the character of a Saviour, but in that of a Judge, to examine into the conduct of all mankind, and pass a final sentence upon them according to their works ;-it surely concerns all men to lay these things to heart, and to prepare for his appearing. And it equally concerns us not to defer this business, not only because what is always reasonable and fit to be done, cannot be done too soon; but because a delay may be of the most dangerous consequence, for at “such an hour as we think not, the Son of man cometh,” to call us hence by death, as well as to judge the world in righteousness, and if, when he cometh, he find us unprepared, we are undone for ever.
2. And yet (dreadful to say) almost all mankind live from day to day in entire forgetfulness or total neglect of this matter! While every thing else, however trifling and impertinent, is studiously and eagerly prosecuted, this is almost universally disregarded. The toy of business is diligently attended, the phantom of honour unweariedly pursued, the enchantments of pleasure assiduously courted, the dream of amusement solicitously sought ; in short, the things of time and sense, though transitory in their duration, uncer. tain in their stay, unsatisfactory in their nature, and even perplex
ing in their enjoyment; these engage the attention, and engross the affections of high and low, young and old, rich and poor.-In the meantime, our immortal interests, the favour of our God, and the eternal advantages and pleasures of religion, are generally buried in oblivion, and neglected. Unreasonable is this conduct indeed ; but too certainly may it be laid to the charge of the generality of mankind, whose whole behaviour clearly demonstrates that they are more intent upon providing for their momentary abode on earth, than their everlasting existence in heaven ; and on securing the favour and applause of their fellow-worms, than the good-will and approbation of their final Judge ! But in this respect, let not us follow the multitude to do evil, to offend our God, and throw away our own souls ! Nay rather, let us take care to be those
persons whom the Lord will acquit and reward at his coming, that we may make our appearances at his bar with joy and not with grief.
3. But who are those persons ? and what character do they bear? To know this we have only to inquire whom the Lord Jesus will condemn at his coming, for the character of these is exactly the reverse of that of the former. Now this is described in the words of our text, and that very fully and clearly, although at the same time with great brevity. The apostle tells us, that Christ, when he is revealed, will “ take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." Haying then already considered the certainty and manner of our Lord's second coming, I proceed, as was proposed,
Secondly, to inquire into the character of those who shall be condemned at his coming to misery and perdition. The apostle
1. There is hardly any subject within the whole compass of re. ligion, concerning which people in general are so grossly mistaken as the knowledge of God. All men profess to know God, though, alas! the generality, by unholy tempers and wicked works, contradict that profession, and prove themselves to be entire strangers to him. If a man have but heard or read a little about the Author of his being, if he do but believe his existence and perfections, he forthwith concludes that he knows God, and is very much offended if you