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this state of things suffered to continue? or, what is the lesson, which we learn from it? Surely, when we see natural death overspreading the world, when we see every where the symptoms of spiritual death, when the wrath of God is rendered visible in the natural evils, which are suffered to desolate humanity, and in the unnatural aggravations of those evils, which human folly, caprice, and passion, bring along with them, we cannot doubt, that, if things continue in this state, if they be not arrested in their progress, the remainder of the divine denunciations against sin will be fully and finally accomplished, that all the particulars of the divine vengeance, already recited, will be poured out upon the ungodly, that the soul, that sinneth, it shall die, that it will die a living death, and will therefore die eternally.
This indeed is so tremendous a conclusion, that we cannot wonder, that there should first be a repugnance to receive the evidences of it, and then an unwillingness to consider them. If it be true, that God has given us a
law, that none of us keepeth the law, and yet that the sentence of that law is-The soul, that
sinneth, it shall die'-, we have assigned very powerful reasons for infidelity, quite independent of any defect of evidence for the truth of religion and in fact I believe, that the grand cause of all the scepticism and unbelief, which prevail in the world, is, though unknown perhaps and unsuspected by the infidel himself, a secret consciousness of sin, and a fearful looking for of judgment. Men cannot bear to look down a precipice: and therefore they close their eyes upon the edge of it. The prospect is painful; and they take refuge from its horrors in unbelief and recklessness of danger.
Nor indeed are there wanting other impediments, arising out of this, to the general reception and belief of this truth. The same cause, which hinders some from examining it, prevents others from speaking of it. There is a natural reluctance to dwell on a painful theme, even where the recollection of it might be salutary. It is apprehended, that there is little wisdom and less charity in a
disposition to deepen the shadows of human depravity, or to paint in its real colours the dreadful consequence of transgression : and yet, after all, if there be a remedy for this evil, his may turn out to be the defect of charity, who would extenuate the actual symptoms of disease, and his the want of wisdom, who would shrink from looking stedfastly at the danger, that so he may grapple with the strength of the malady.
Happily however, my beloved brethren, amidst this dark picture, there is one ray of light, which may save us from viewing it with unmingled alarm. Death, natural and spiritual, was not designed for man. The very place of future punishment was not prepared originally for him, but for the devil and his angels. And therefore it cannot be the original will of the creator to inflict the penalty. Indeed he himself has expressly said in the last verse of the eighteenth chapter of Ezekiel' I have no pleasure in the death ' of him, that dieth: wherefore turn yourselves, ' and live ye!'
There must therefore be a way to escape. But the way to find it is not to deny or disbelieve the reality or extent of our danger, but rather to ascertain it, that so we may see our need of deliverance, and be stimulated to seek the means of safety: neither have I laid before you the penalties of transgression or the evidence of divine wrath with a view of exciting in you any needless alarm, but that I may set before you the truth of scripture, and that through the divine aid I may excite in your minds that conviction of sin and of the certain consequences of sin, which may lead you to ask with seriousness- What shall I do 'to be saved? Who shall deliver me from the 'wrath to come?'
Into a consideration of this question I trust to be permitted to enter in the evening and may almighty God grant us all not only to understand, but to find the only sure way of peace and salvation!
Isaiah liii. 6.
The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
WHAT has been already said must, (I think) have convinced you, that the wise and good and holy being, by whom we were created, has given us a law, but that we have none of us kept it, as it ought to be kept, and are all consequently subject to the sentence of his righteous displeasure. His law has been reduced to this narrow point, that it commands us to love him with all our strength, and to love our neighbour, as ourselves: and this is what none of us has hitherto done. The consequence is, that the wrath of God rests on the world; and every thing in nature and providence bears witness to it. Fire and