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impressible, when they stood by the bedside of an expiring friend, or watched with a heart torn with anguish, the lingering departure of a beloved child; or when they felt themselves struck and wounded by the arrows of death. Then would be forcibly felt the awful truth, that God is a just and holy God, ihe avenger of sin that “the wages of sin is death."
I am well aware, how ingenious men have tried to evade the force of this proof, by representing death as even a blessing to mankind. It may be so, indeed, if considered as the necessary introduction to a better state of existence; but whether death itself is a blessing, let nature which shrinks from it, declare. The evils of life may so multiply upon us that we may welcome death at last as a refuge from them; but let us still remember, that those evils equally prove the reality of the curse. They are as it were the sad forerunners of our dissolution; and the very indifference to life which they produce is itself a species of death the most painful and affecting, when existence becomes a burden and annihilation is preferred to life.
2. But I pass on to another fact, which equally shews the terrors which surround the Divine Nature: it is a fact equally extraordinary and impressive: I mean; the general destruction of mankind by the flood. Behold the heavens clothed with blackness; the light of day totally hid by the accumulating clouds which every hour become darker and more heavy; the awful artillery of the skies rending the air with the most tremendous sounds, and appalling with consternation the multitudes of mankind, who hitherto had conceived of God as too merciful to execute his threatened purposes! I would place you in view of this scene; I would shew you the agony painted in every countenance, the child clinging to its mother, and the wife to the husband, in unutterable dread, and confusion: you should observe the gradual rising of the waters, mark the shaking of the earth, and trace the vain endeavours of its inhabitants to hide themselves from the swift approaching destruction: then I would ask, are there no terrors in the Lord? Do you see nothing but smiles of love and kindness in his countenance toward his creatures? Correct your error: own that the Lord is dreadful in wrath as well as in power, and bow before him and trenible.
3. But I would conduct you to other striking instances of his vengeance against sin. I do not notice the cases of individuals: I take instances upon the largest scale, where a nation or a world suffers under the frown of the Almighty. I would request you then to observe the dealings of God with the Jews. They were a nation selected by him from the mass of mankind, that in their history he might exhibit to the whole world a spectacle of the laws by which he acts, and might teach his creatures the attributes of his nature. They were to be his witnesses, read and known by all men. Now what do you find in their history, which countenances those vague and indefinite notions of Divine mercy which are inconsistent with justice or vengeance? To my own mind it chiefly exhibits a display of Divine justice and hatred of sin. It is the record of Divine judgment. You see the people of God, indeed, brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand and stretched-out arm; but they are surrounded on every side by the awful marks of vengeance against sin, plaguing the Egyptians, and at length destroying them in the Red Sea. Accompany them into the wilderness: there God reveals himself, and gives the Law upon Mount Horeb. But, behold, the mount burns with fire, and the terrors of the Lord are so awful that even Moses fears and quakes. Pass along with them to the promised land; what alarming instances do you behold of the punishment of sin! Fiery serpents destroying the people; the pestilence raging, and carrying off thousands in a day; the earth opening her mouth, and swallowing up the guilty in a moment! You shudder at the view, and long to finish the forty years of painful sojourning, and to accompany them into the land of promise. But ere you enter, behold
Moses, the faithful servant of the Lord, even he, for one transgression, must not be permitted to pass over Jordon: he may see with his eyes the good land, and must then retire to die, as an awful proof of the jealousy of God. The children of Israel, however, pass into the land of Canaan; but their entry is marked by scenes of desolation. The guilt of the Amorites was full; and God setiles his own people in a land wet with the blood of the inhabitants, whose sins he was so awfully visiting.–And now observe the state of the Israelites, the promised seed: for four hundred years they themselves are harassed and vexed by the Philistines; because they were disobedient to their God, “he sold them into the hands of their enemies.” At length David arises and delivers them, and establishes his kingdom in power. It is, however, but a short interval of peace which they enjoy. Soon, according to the prediction of the Prophets, they are carried captive to Babylon, and for seventy years their land is left to lie desolate, on account of the neglect of the Sabbaths and the appointed ordinances of Jehovah. But I hasten on to the conclusion of their history. They reject the promised Messiah; and from that day to the present, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, have become outcasts upon the face of the earth; without a country or a city to dwell in; without a king to rule over them, or a temple in which to worship. Well might Moses say to them, "Beware! your God is a jealous God.”
And now sum up the whole of their history, and see if
you can give to it any other interpretation than that it is a display of the holiness and justice of God, aby no means clearing the guilty.”
There are two other great events to which I must request your attention.
4. See the illustrious Person who hangs suspended upon the cross-a spectacle at which the sun grows dark, and earth shakes, and the tombs are open! See there the Son of God, giving himself up to be a victim of death, a propitiation for sin, a sacrifice to Divine justice! Here reflect a moment upon the views which the Divine Being must have entertained of sin, when he thought it necessary that such a sacrifice should be offered ere pardon was granted even to repenting sinners. Upon your system, there was no occasion for such an atonement: according to your views of the Divine nature, it was an easy thing for God to pardon sin; it was even a delight to him and the perfection of his nature to display unbounded mercy and goodness. But how is this fact to be reconciled with your theory? Upon that system, indeed, which ascribes perfect holiness and the most awsul vengeance to God, it is natural and easily accounted for: it is in unison with that supposition; on any other, it is inexplicable.
5. But accompany me yet further: we will travel by a short anticipation to the end of the journey of life. Behold the rising dead! See the millions of mankind assembling; and behold the angels separating them, and the Judge of all, with a frown, commanding the wicked to depart from him into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! Do you see in this awful scene any marks of that tenderness which cannot punish, that mercy which always spares? No: the wicked are banished for ever; their memory is forgotten; they are shut up in everlasting fire, where the worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched:
Put together all these facts: whatever might be thought of any one of them singly, it is upon their harmony, their coincidence with each other, that the argument depends. There is an awful correspondence between them, which clearly indicates the same plain design and the same Author; and, added together, they establish the fact, that God has his terrors as well as his mercies, and that his justice is as conspicuous as his love.
Hitherto I have spoken only of facts; but from the history of God's dealings with mankind we must now turn our attention to his express declarations. Now,
from the first chapter of the Word of God to the close of the sacred canon, its language is in perfect unison with the facts I have adduced. God is
God is every where represented as a holy and jealous God, who designs, by his Word, to awaken in our minds a dread of his displeasure, and a deep sense of the necessity of strict obedience to his law. It is impossible, in the short time limited for me, to make long quotations from Scripture; and indeed it is unnecessary; for they must be very ignorant of the Bible who are unable readily to refer to such passages. The prophets were inspired by God to exhibit just views of his character; and they so repeatedly, so awfully, and so fully denounce his wrath against sin, that their prophecies express almost continually threatenings and woe. The writers of the Psalms mingle, with the most delightful representations of the love of God, the most awful view of his justice and punishment of sinners. Our Lord delivered some of the most alarming declarations respecting the doom of the wicked, and the indignation of God against sin. His Apostles, though eminently the heralds of glad tidings, yet sanction also, in the most positive terms, all that the Prophets had said concerning the judgments of God.
But it is not only the positive language of the Prophets and Apostles, which declares the justice of the Lord; a perpetual acknowledgment of it is interwoven into the very frame and contexture of the Jewish religious service. It was a form of worship strongly expressive of the state of man as a sinner. It seemed to consist almost entirely of expiation. The blood of victims, at almost every hour, was streaming upon the altars of Jehovah; men were always appearing before God as a just and angry God, and appeasing him by sacrifice. In unison with this system, the Christian dispensation teaches us to prostrate ourselves before God in the name of Christ, and to approach the Most High, confessing our guilt, and deprecating Divine justice, for the sake of the great Atonement. It is not,