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who are spiritually dead were now struck naturally dead, how awful would be the scene ? Would not some pious parent be left“ to sorrow without hope" over a beloved, yet thoughtless child ; or some devout, serious sister bewail the untimely end of a brother, who had lived without God, and now perished without hope ? But I forbear indulging these melancholly reflections ; I rather rejoice that you are spared another year, and most affectionately exhort you to awake from your security. May “not the time past of your life suffice to have wrought the will of the flesh ?” Is all that you have been hearing, from season to season, of your spiritual and everlasting concerns an empty dream? Is the doctrine of an immortal soul, of death, and judgment, and heaven, and hell, a mere shadow without substance ? are these doctrines “ high swelling words” without ideas or realities? then “sleep on and take your rest.”
rest.” Let the drunkard freely quaff his flowing bowl ; let the gay sport merrily in the enchanting dance ; let the sons of wealth eat, drink, and be merry; let them sleep securely on their beds of ivory, and chant to the sound of the harp ;' let the young man rejoice in the days of his youth, quenching each anxious thougbt; let the despiser of divine ordinances persevere in this despite ; let him neglect his bible, the duty of prayer, the institutions of the sabbath or sanctuary, and even deride those who are conscientious in observing them :
Indulge the pleasing dream, that “to-morrow shall be as this day and much more abundant.” But conscience secretly starts back with horror at the thought ; this monitor within tells thee, and trembles under the conviction, that thou hast a soul to be saved or damned ; that there is a judgment to come; that there is a dread, unknown eternity into which thou must speedily plunge. Is it not then folly, and madness, in the extreme, to halt another day without making preparation? The man who hates his own flesh ; who obstinately pines away in hunger when bread is before him ; who shivers in the storm of winter, spurning the offers of either a shelter to cover or clothes to warm; who wantonly mangles and tortures his own body, is ten thousand times less cruel to himself than he who “ neglects so great salvation.” If“ he that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, surpose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hathi trodden under foot the Son of God, and liath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?''
-Brethren, compassion to your souls constrains me to use “this plainness of speech ;" to propose any consideration that might probably operate either on your fears or hopes. Another period of your time is now closing ; the great husbandman has borne with you another year under the care of the VOL. 4.
vine-dresser : Will you venture any longer in your present unconcern? I had almost said that if men are determined to remain in their sloth from season to season, the sooner they are cut off the better; they only live to the dishonor of God, and to treasure up for themselves a more intolerable weight of wrath hereafter ; in hell they will indeed continue to sin against God, but their sin will not present that coloring of malig. nity. There, there will be no bible to neglect ; no ordinances to slight; no tenders of salvation to reject; no Spirit to grieve ; no “ blood of the covenant to profane : the enmity of the damned shall eternally rise in opposition to the perfections of God, to the displays of bis justice, and holiness, and sovereignty, and power; but they will not have opportunity of trampling on love so tender, on forbearance so immense, on condescension and grace so rich and astonishing. Let every sinner in " this Zion be afraid," lest divine patience, worn out with his delay, yields to the demand of justice, “cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?” And, be it rernembered by all, that as the tree falleth so it must lie, and that for ever.
HOSEA XIV, 4, 5, 6.
I will heal their backslidings; I will love them: freely : for mine anger is lurned away from him. I will be as the den unto Israel; he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree; and his smell as Lebanon..
THIS prophecy was delivered in the ' reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah,” a period truly alarining to the nation of Israel.-The cup of their iniquity was nearly filled up, and that cloud which had long been collecting and blackening over their heads was ready to burst forth in their destruction. The prophet therefore addresses them in the following melancho, heart-melting strains, “ rejoice not, O Israel, for joy as other people, for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God: The days of visitation are come; the days of recompence are come : My God shall cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations." But the Lord God is long suffering and plenteous in mercy; hisjudgments move slowly along that this infatuated people may enjoy another opportunity for repenting and escaping. Ainidst the general gloom, therefore, a ray of hope beams forth in the chapter which we have read to cheer and encourage them. “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God.” Jehovah, in the riches of his condescension, still acknowledges himself to be « their God.” To each believing Israelite he stood in a covenant relation which could never be broken ; which no change of time or circumstances could possibly dissolve; and to the Jews in general he stood in anesternal, covenant relation : He had not altogether rejected them as a people, but was yet known as “the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. O Israel, return. This apostate nation is invited back to God as their portion and glory. “Although ye have wantonly and shamefully departed from me ; although ye have changed your God for them “ that are no gods,” by mingling in the idolatry of the beathen; although ye have trampled on my mercies and hardened yourselves against my judgments
, yet I have no pleasure in your destruction, Þut would rather that you return and live; only acknowledge your iniquity, improve the sacrifice of iny Son as the ground of your remission, and be restored to my favor.” Mercy may be pronounced the darling perfection of Jehovah ; this attribute he eminently displays in bearing with individuals and nations amidst their provocations, and using innumerable means for reclaiming them. Even after the decree for their destruction has seemingly gone forth, its exo