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are condemned to it, shall for ever
in the morning, Would God it were even; and at even, Would God it were morning! for the fear of their heart wherewith they shall fear, and the sight of their eyes which they shall see. There is a state in which the tender and delicate woman shall hate those whom once she most loved; in which they who lived together here in a friendship wherein God was no party, will have their eyes evil against one another for ever.
For when selfishness has wrought its perfect work, and the soul is utterly lost, there love is perished for ever; and the intercourse between such persons can be only one of mutual reproaches, and suspicion, and hatred. An eternal restlessness, and eternal evil passions, mark the everlasting portion of the enemies of God; just as an eternal rest, and a never ending life of love and peace are reserved for those who remain to the end His true children. It is true that we see not this state of misery, and may therefore, if we choose, disbelieve it. And so did the Israelites disbelieve their threatened misery; they said that the pestilence should not come unto them, neither should they see sword nor famine; and if refusing to believe that so great a misery as did actually overtake them should ever be their portion, they had, no less than we, the excuse that experience had never hitherto recorded a fate so dreadful. But what no former experience had ever witnessed, did come
to pass in that day of God's earthly vengeance; and no less shall all former experience, and even all our conceptions of evil, be outdone in the great day of God's eternal vengeance. That earthly visitation on Jerusalem was well called the “coming of the Lord.” It was His earthly judgment for the final breach of His earthly covenant. Jerusalem after the flesh had had her privileges and her day of trial, and her time being come to its end, she underwent her final sentence. And we too, citizens of the spiritual Jerusalem, we have our privileges, we have our day of trial, we too have our covenant, not with earthly blessings promised, and no more than an earthly forfeiture incurred; but with a higher stake on both sides, an everlasting crown, or everlasting misery. For this second covenant the judgment is coming—when, we know not; but this we know, that to each one of us the day of trial will be over soon, and then we shall be kept to wait for the judgment, with no further power to alter it. The judgment is coming not less surely, than that whose fulfilment is before our eyes, but infinitely more important when it does come.
March 11th, 1832.
And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If
the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them ; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do. And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. And God's anger was kindled because he went.
Such is described to have been the way in which God dealt with the prophet Balaam, and the following words from the fourteenth chapter of Ezekiel will show that it is the way in which He will deal with all men.
“ Then came certain of the elders of Israel before me, and sat before me. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them? There
fore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; that I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.”
The same thing is confirmed in the New Testament, in these words of the Apostle Paul, taken out of the second chapter of his second epistle to the Thessalonians, “God shall send them,” that is, those who perish, “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
All these passages of Scripture agree in declaring, that if we pray to God with a dishonest heart, He will not enlighten our consciences at all, nor show us what we ought to do; but rather will cause us to take wrong for right, and right for wrong, till we become utterly blinded and darkened, and are sunk without hope in evil. I have read three passages out of the Bible to this effect, but I might have read many more, for the same doctrine is repeated over and over again in a great many places, and in a great variety of ways, as if it were of the greatest consequence to us to remember it,
and to act upon it. It was not put into the Bible merely to frighten us, or to try our submission by teaching what would give offence to many; much less was it put in to drive any to despair. It was written, as every thing else was which we find in the Scripture, for our good; that we might hear indeed and fear, and do no more presumptuously. I do not say, indeed, that every body can derive good from it; there may be some who are living witnesses of its truth, on whom the strong delusion is working, whom God may have answered already according to their idols, and whose sin may be the sin unto death, because they may be so lost in evil, that they can find no place for repentance. But such is not the case with men in general; and therefore the bulk of a common congregation, more especially of such a congregation as this, may be well called upon to profit by these assurances of God, that He will blind the eyes, and harden the hearts of those who do not come to Him in sincerity.
Balaam the prophet presents to us a character which is in several points very remarkable. In the first place, he had the gifts of the Holy Spirit without the graces; he was favoured with the knowledge of God's will, and with the power of foretelling future events, while his heart was far from God, and while in his dealings he showed himself the servant of sin. What is said of Ba