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The Symptoms of the Day of Grace being past.
Jer. viii. 20.
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we
are not savedo
THESE words are the most heart aching and despairing moan, that was ever uttered upon earth. They are a part of the lamentations of the weeping prophet, for the ruin and complete desolation brought upon them by the Babylonian sword. The dreadful horror of the case, with all its accompa nying realities, had been represented in the preceding part of this chapter ; and in the description is contained, the awful degeneracy, and the procuring cause, of the nation's ruin:
The divine vengeance had been long reitrained by the fupe. rior power of mercy, yet mercy herself, by their persevering impenitency and increasing wickedness, was at last compelled from her station, and the floods of wrath burit forth in irresitable torrents, and laid the whole land in utter waite. In the eighteenth verse the aillicted prophet utters his doleful feelings in reference to this unhappy cafe. “When I would com" fort myself again it forrow, my heart is faint in me.” When I would awaken a glimmering expectation of the ite terposition of heaven in our favour, my soul finks within me, refuses comfort, and nothing arifes but gloomy and despairing ideas. Let my head be waters and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I may weep day and night for the spoiling of the daughter of my people. Behold I hear from far, even from the North country and from the sides of the earth, lamentation, weeping and bitter mourning, for my unhappy and miserable people, because of the oppression of those who dwell in the north country and sides of the earth. The horror of the case extracts from the soul of the propliet, broken accents of fupplication for their fa cty and deliverance. “Is not the
Lord in Zion ? is not her king in her ?” Hereby the prophet would humbly infinuate that the honour and reputation of their Lord and king would be deeply affected, if his people should be given up to the devouring jaws of bis enemies. As if he liad said, halt thou not covenanted to be Zion's Lord and Saviour, to know her in adverfity, and to be a present help in time of trouble? Wilt thou now forget thy character and be unmindful of her in her greatest extremity ? Canst thou now suffer thy name to be traduced among the nations ?-Canft thou tarnilh thy reputation, and give the heathen an opportunity to blafpheme? To which the Sovereign king in hafty indignation replies, there is no hope for them, the last drop of mercy is exhausted. “Why have they provoked me to anger “ with their graven images, and with strange vanities?" Then the doleful lamentation bursts from the prophet, in the despairing language of our text ; “ The harvest is past, the “ summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Hitherto he seemed to have entertained fome glimmering hope, but now finding the decree is past, he is overwhelmed in all the anguith of gloomy despair. Heaven frowns, God is departed, and nothing but the blackness of darkness impends over their guilty heads. The Babylonians are upon us and we must endure their rage and fuffer all their fury. Their cavalry have en. tered our territory. “The snorting of his horses was heard " from Dan ; the whole earth trembled at the sound of the u neighing of his freng cues; for they are come, and have s devoured the land, and ail that is in it; the city and thofe « that dwell therein ?" Had we attended in time to the measures proper, made suitable preparation for defence, there evils might have been averted; but now our case is irreme. diable, our destruction inevitable.
Thus we have a view of the words in their primary refer. ence, which was to a temporal and civil salvation. But by an easy accommodation of this text, it expresses with great force the unhappy and miserable state of a soul which has outsat its day of grace. The lofs of fpiritual as well as temporal falvation in respect to this wretched people was probably comprehended in this despairing lamentation. Their seasons and opportunities for securing eternal falvation in a great measure expired with the destruction of their country and the loss of their national privileges, both civil and ecclefiaftical. God had hewed them by his prophets and lain them by the words of his mouth, yet they obftinately persevered in impenitency and wickedness. They were now removed beyond the found of a prophet's voice, where there was no temple in which they could worship or priest to offer facrifice. None to folicit their repentance or effay their reformation. Now the want of spiritual salvation, and the loss of the means of obtaining it, are valt. ly greater and more confiderable, than the fame in a temporal sense ; hence we may juftly suppose the prophet intended both in this awful and heart breaking lamentation. For what is the loss of the former in comparison of the latter? What is the destruction of a town, the facking of a city, or the ruin of a nation, to the wrath and vengeance of an infinite God, which will be inflicted upon loft fouls forever and ever. The inten. tion of the words, tho' originally applied to a community, yet with great propriety they are applicable to persons living un,
der the gospel, enjoying the means of grace, and continually neglecting and milimproving the fame. This is matter for the deepest lamentation, mourning and woe. To think of persons having been long favoured with a season of grace, and opportunities for securing the salvation of their fouls, and all have been neglected, the cafe is truely deplorable ; deatla approaching, time expiring, and the greatest łunefs of life still unperformed. We are not to pronounce any man's day of grace past, while they continue in this world, yet there is reason to fear, it may be the melancholy situation of many. Every man must look into his own heart and judge for himself. - Here we may enquire,
First, into those circumstances and symptoms which render it probable, that those on whom they are found, their day of grace is paft.
Secondly, evince that this is a state both lamentable and dangerous.
Before I proceed further in this subject, I would beg leave to make two preliminary remarks. First, we would not sre. tend to undertake to define the limits and bounds of the day of grace in reference to any people, or any particular persons. This is beyond human adjustment, and is alone proper to om. niscience. We have no Itandard of the divine dispensations in instances of this nature.
Secondly, we premise, that there may be a great difference in respect to the termination of such a day. It niay be over with a collective body of people, when it may not be past with every individual appertaining to such a body; and it may be over with particular perfuns in a place, when it is not par with that people in general. We proceed now,
Targuire into the circumstances and symptoms which Terly it rinse, that the day of grace is past with those on 1:10are found.
mir, if persons have lived for a long series of years under
I and powerful ministry, and yet have not made any (js.idal improvement, or received any spiritual benefit there f This case, however common, certainly wears a black as i gloomy aspect, and must be apprehended at least to afford fome ground to fear respecting the fad conclusion. These per. fons have long enjoyed a faithful ministry ; their condition with all the confequences of it, has often and plainly been ftated before them in their intrinsic dread and horror, and they have been warned to cícare for their lives, and to flee to the hope set before them. This hope and the method of deliver, ance th:o' the mediation and sacrifice of Chrift, the son of God and the Saviour of the world, has been clearly, according to the scriptures, represented unto them. They have been entreated with all the variety and powers of language, to embrace the offers of mercy by faith, to relinquish their iniquities by repentance, to give up their hearts in love to God, and engage in the duties of religion fincercly. And notwithstand ing all the pai ns which God has taken with them for a multitude of years, the y h.zve fill remained inconsiderate, fecure and unimpressed. What could God have done more for such, than that he hath dene? We have an awful illustration of the judgment which awaits those persons in the cpiltle to the Hesrews. « For the earth which s drinketh in the rain which cometh oft upon it, and bringeth “ forih herbs, meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth “ blefing froin God; but, that which beareth thorns and "briars is rejected, and is nigh unto curfing, whose end is to “ be burned.” We here behcid the excellency of the word of the gospel. It is compared to rain which refreshes the earth and renders it fruitful. We kee also the different effects of it