Page images
PDF
EPUB

wine which I have mingled. Let him forfake the foolish and live, and go in the way of understanding." It is his gracious pleasure, that his house fhould be filled. He commands his fervants to go forth, and bid all whom they find, and even compel them to come in. You have heard the invitation. Why do you delay? What is the business, or the pleasure which detains you. Go now; the door may foon be fhut. Then, while the happy guefts are rejoicing, in the presence, and feasting at the table of their Lord, you will ftand lamenting without in the dark and ftormy night, void of comfort, void of hope.

This is the bright feafon of God's patience and of your hope. It is now an accepted time. Pardon and glory are offered; repentance and obedience are urged. God's providence warns you, his word invites you, his fpirit ftrives with you, and his mercy waits on you. But this clear this fmiling day is coming to an end: with many it is far fpent. If you should let it pafs away neglected, you will be fhut out in utter darknefs. With what anguish then will you remember the paft calls of mercy which you have despised, the paft ftrivings of the fpirit which you have refifted, the past forbearance of God which you have abused? Will you not mourn at the last, when your flesh and your body are confumed, and your foul and spirit are tormented? Will you not lament in the language of the defpairing youth in the Proverbs ; "How have I hated inftruction, and my heart defpifed reproof? I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them who inftructed me." "Look diligently,' then, "left any man fail of the grace of God; left any root of bitterness fpringing up, trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; left there be

99

VOL. V.

X

any profane perfon, as Efau, who for one morfel of meat fold his birthright; for you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the bleffing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance," or change of purpose in his father," though he fought the bleffing carefully with tears."

3. Our Saviour warns us, that felf-confident finners, in the midft of their vain pleas, will be filenced with a fudden rebuke. "Ye shall begin to ftand without, and to knock, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us." They will but begin, they will not finish their application, before the Lord will anfwer them, "I know you not.” When they begin to refume their arguments, he will interrupt them, "I tell you, I know you not; depart from

66

me."

A confcioufnefs of their guilt, a remembrance of their iniquities, and a view of the holiness of their judge, will cause their tongues to faulter, while they are urging their claims to heaven. Their knocking and crying for admittance denote their earneft defire of the mercy, which once they defpifed. The repulfe given them when they begin to plead, fignifies what fudden conviction will feize them-what intolerable confufion will overwhelm them. Their fins will rife to the view of their confciences, and stand in frightful array before their eyes. They will fee their own deformed character, as workers of iniquity. What place in heaven can there be for fuch? They will fuddenly be convinced of a truth, of which they feldom thought before, that in the prefence of a holy, all-feeing God, external forms, however fpecious, avail nothing, while iniquity is regarded in the heart. What torment will be added to disappointment, when the works on which they

depended, are rejected as vain and worthlefs, and confcience confirms the fentence? When the Lord comes to execute judgment, he will convince all who are ungodly of all the ungodly deeds, which they have impioufly committed, and of all the hard fpeeches, which they have prefumptuously spoken; every mouth will be stopped, and all the impenitent world will feel themselves guilty before him.

4.

Our Lord expreffes the mifery of finners in the future world by the phrafe of their departing from him. "I know you not whence ye are ; depart from me, all workers of iniquity.'

God is an all-perfect and most glorious being. The happiness of rational creatures confifts in the enjoyment of his favour. This is their life. His favour is communicated to men through the mediation of Jefus Chrift, who is the brightnefs of his glory, and the exprefs image of his perfon. The happiness of heaven is therefore often expreffed in fcripture by the phrases of seeing God, and being with Chrift.

The Pfalmift fays, "In God's presence is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for ever more." Our Saviour fays, "Bleffed are the pure in heart, for they fhall fee God." Saint Paul fays, "I have a defire to depart, and be with Chrift, which is far better," than to abide in the flesh. "When Chrift fhall appear," fays the apoftle John, "We fhall be like him for we fhall fee him as he is." On the other hand, the mifery of the wicked in the future world is expreffed by their 'being separated from God, and from Chrift, which is to be feparated unto all evil. Our Lord tells us, that, at the last day, he will fay to them on his left hand, "Depart from me, ye curfed, into everlafting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

"Thefe," faint Paul fays, " fhall be punished with everlasting destruction from the prefence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." They will be banished from the gates of heaven, excluded from the favour of God and the compaffion of the redeemer, fhut out from the company of all holy beings, and barred from all hope of ever gaining the facred mansions of comfort, peace and joy.

This leads us to obferve,

5. The abfolute and peremptory manner, in which Chrift will thrust them from his prefence. "I tell you, I know you not-depart from me." It is vain to urge your claims, or prefs your arguments. I tell you, you cannot be received, for you are workers of iniquity. There is no manfion prepared for you here. Depart hence to the place prepared for fuch as you. The abfoluteness of the final fentence will cut off all hope of a revocation. Some, perhaps, flatter themselves, that the threatenings of fcripture intend no more than a temporary punishment, and that, if they should unhappily fall under the punishment threatened, they may ftill be delivered; and, after a proper purgation, be admitted to happiness. But our Lord certainly knew, what this punishment would be. He has here, and in feveral other places, given us a defcription of it in language well adapted to awaken and alarm careless and guilty fouls. Do you find here any intimation, that it will be fhort, or that it will ever come to an end? Does not the whole complexion of-this difcourfe indicate the contrary? Is it not faid of the workers of iniquity, though they will seek to enter after the door is fhut, they will not be able? Is not the fentence, "Depart from me," expreffed in the moft abfolute and unequivocal terms? Yea; has not Chrift

declared, in fo many words, "These fhall go away into everlasting punishment." Where then do you find hope, that the door will afterward be opened to you? It is open now; what would you have more? Strive to enter before it is fhut. Once fhut it will be opened no more.

6. To give us the ftronger idea of the future mifery of finners, our Saviour describes the bitter lamentations, with which they will depart from him. "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Their punishment will be, not only the loss of good, but the prefence of evil. Their departure from God is not an extinction of being; this would prevent all wailing; but it is going away into a state of pofitive mifery. The greatnefs of this mifery is expreffed in fcripture by a variety of metaphors taken from fuch things, as, in the prefent life, we find to be moft painful and tormenting. It is faid, The wicked fhall be turned into hell-caft into a furnace of fire-thrust out into utter darkness-configned to the worst company, that of the devil and his angels-tormented with the worm which never dies-and, in general, that there is a strange punishment for the workers of iniquity, a punishment, which they will not believe, though one declare it to them, and which they cannot fully apprehend, though it were defcribed to them. No wonder that there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Are there any too ftout to bend their knees in repentance before God, and implore his mercy? Are there any who dare to provoke his jealousy by fcoffing at the threatenings of his word, and fpurning the punishment which he has denounced? Will your hearts be able to endure? Or will your hands be strong, when he shall deal with

« PreviousContinue »