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city and disposition to bless mankind, who has not enjoyed the sweets, and frequently repeated experience? Whose life is so short, as not to contain a history of benefits, a display of mercy, a profusion of loving-kindness, which astonish while they delight? Whose portion of felicity is so scanty, as not to exhibit wonders of goodness infinitely above the desert of angels? What understanding is so brutish, what heart so ungrateful, as not to recur, at the first call, to a multitude of special blessings, pressing upon the memory, urging prior or superior claims of acknowledgment and praise? Need you to be told, ungrateful, forgetful children of men! Need you to be told, the value of an uninterruped and steady course of good health; or of the more sensible benefit of recovery from sickness and pain? Shall I send you back to years that are long past, or recal yesterday to your recollection? Shall I remind you of that common bounty which gives you, day by day, your daily bread; or of that singular, shall I say miraculous, interposition, which seemed to drop down manna around your tabernacle? Must all ages, and nations, and regions of the world, be made to pass in review before your eyes; or will you confine your observation to your own moment of existence, your own handbreath of space, your own two or three acquaintan. ces and contemporaries, your own pittance of knowledge? Shall the glories of nature, or the wonders of Providence, be unfolded to your view? Will you contemplate the fatness and fragrancy of the fertile earth, or the vastness and brilliancy of the azure vault of heaven? Will you confine yourselves to things seen and temporal; or borne, as on the eagle's wing, contemplate things which are unseen and eternal? Will you converse with your fellow-mortals on the surface of this mole-hill, or join in the songs and raptures of angels, who surround the throne, and of the spirits of just men made perfect, immortal intelligences,
perfectly awake to the full perception of their blessedness? Choose you to dwell on the transitory comforts of the life that now is, or to anticipate the joys substantial, sincere and lasting, of that which is to come? Creation spreads her fair, her ample, her splendid page to the delighted eye. The mysterious volume, sealed to the careless reader as with seven seals, to the serious and attentive soul unveils the hidden wisdom of God, and, written with a sun-beam, there stands recorded the gracious purpose of Him who 6 worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."
Wouldst thou be satisfied, O man, that the great God has means innumerable, unutterable, incomprehensible, of conferring happiness on mankind? Think, O think, how he has loved the world, in the redemption of it by Jesus CHRIST! Think how many demonstrations of grace meet in the one,
“ God spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all?” And when you have ruminated on the history of redeeming love; when you have recovered from the astonishment and joy of contemplating what God has done for you, lose yourself afresh in the prospect of what the Lord hath laid up for the heirs of salvation--in the prospect of that great, exceeding and “eternal weight of glory, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and of which it hath not entered into the heart of man” to form any adequate conception or idea! Fly, O my soul, whithersoever thou wilt; settle wherever thou wilt, infinite goodness still supports thy flight, and settle thou must on the rock of ages, at last!
But, ah! my friend, this God, almighty to save, is also mighty to destroy. As his bounty is an inexhausted source of plenty to bless his friends, so his justice is a capacious quiver, stored with innumerable poisoned arrows, to shed the blood, to drink up the spirits of his adversaries. Think, in how many parts
art thou vulnerable? In every particle of thy frame, in every faculty of thy soul. Every sense opens a passage for the entrance of an avenging God. The understanding, at his command, expands to the dreadful perception of justice that will not bend; of severity that knows not to relax; of vengeance that admits not of pity. Memory, roused by that trumpet which awakes the dead, gives new form and substance to the hideous spectres of transgressions long since departed, and which were vainly imagined to be laid in the grave for ever; and the guilty wretch is dragged to the bitter recollection of what he once dwelt on with unhallowed delight, and now would feign bury in eternal oblivion; or which he gladly would, at the price of worlds, redeem from the history of his wretched life. As memory, to fulfil the righteous judgment of God, can readily summon up all that is past, in order to awaken remorse, and inspire terror; so fear launches forth into the boundless, endless regions of futurity, and rouses despair; and in the very abyss of burning hell, shudders at the thought of a deeper gulph, and of a hotter flame. Read, O sinner, the history of the plagues of Egypt, and tremble! Suppose, for a moment, the cup wherewith thou art ready to quench thy burning thirst, instantly turned into blood, to the loathing of thy soul and thy flesh. Suppose thy body struck with an universal leprosy, or the dust under thy feet quickened into abominable vermin; the air around thy head impregnated with swarms of noisome insects; the sun extinguished for three tedious lingering days, and the thunder of an angry God rolling over thy guilty devoted habitation; and suppose all this to be but the beginning of sorrow; the mere threatenings of wrath to come; wo that may be endured, torment that may expire; for ah! from yonder fearful pit arises the smoke of a fire that shall not be quenched; smoke that shall ascend for ever and
Their groans bursting from the bosom of des
pair; and the rattling of everlasting, adamantine chains. Behold the wild looks, the agonizing pangs of that poor rich man, when, from the flames of his torment, he beholds Lazarus in Abraham's bosom: when he beholds heaven removed to an inaccessible distance; heaven disjoined by an unpassable gulph. Heaven, the rest of the weary, and the reward of the faithful, affords to him a momentary glimpse of its joys, only to embitter remorse, only to pierce the soul with keener pangs,
and to heat the furnace seven times hotter than it was before. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
After serious reflection upon these things, our second observation would seem ill-founded, and destitute of all probability and truth, did not all history, and daily experience confirm the woful certainty of it. It is this: that by frequent indulgence, and inveterate habits of sin, the heart may at length become quite callous; may be rendered equally insensible to the calls of mercy, and the alarms of justice. We are struck with astonishment, at the sight of a poor infatuated wretch like Pharaoh, repeatedly braving that power which returned to crush and humble him, and slighting that grace which as often relented and afforded space and means for repentance. Would to God there were room to think the representation more unnatural than it is, and that the character of Pharaoh were a rarity in the world. But alas! what is the life of most men, but an habitual fighting against God? Upon whom falls the weight of our remark? Upon a few thoughtless, hardened wretches only, who have found out the secret of lulling conscience to rest, who, having conquer. ed the sense of fear and shame, commit iniquity with greediness; who “hide not their sin like Sodom but publish it like Gomorrah?” Let us not deceive ourselves, but watch over our own hearts, and hort one another daily, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” There stands Pharaoh,
the daring, the presumptuous sinner; whom goodness could not mollify nor judgments subdue; and let him who is without sin cast the first stone at him. Who can Aatter himself with the thought, that the errors of his life were the mere inadvertencies of haste and inattention? Who can say of himself, “ This fault I cor. rected, as soon as I discovered it? Having been once made sensible of the danger and wickedness of that sinful course, I instantly forsook it, and have returned to it no more. Smarting from the effects of my folly, I have never again dared
to provoke the lash of my Father's chastening rod. The resolutions which I made in the day of sickness and sorrow, and calamity, I have faithfully remembered, and diligently kept. Vows made at the Lord's table, I have made conscience to perform. The threatenings of God's word I have not disregarded, the long-sufferings of my God I have not abused." Alas! alas! the reverse of all this is the truth which condemns every one. Not a single, but repeated acts of intemperance, injustice, impurity, impiety; not casual and undesigned expressions, but deliberate and indulged habits of falsehood, malevolence, selfishness and uncharitableness, place us as criminals at the bar, by the side of Pharaoh, and forbid us to condemn him, because we also have sinned. What avails it me to say, that my offence is not the same with his? Perhaps I had neither power, nor inclination, nor opportunity, for committing that man's transgression, Have I therefore washed my hands in innocence? Can I therefore plead,“ not guilty?” The great question is, Have I kept myself free from mine own transgression? And, spared of God to make the inquiry~let Pharaoh's impenitence, and Pharaoh's doom, awaken usto a sense of our danger; and urge a speedy flight from the wrath that is to come.
Thirdly, The history leads us to remark the great difference between the slow, reluctant, partial submis, sion of fear, and the prompt, cheerful and unreserved