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which it hopes, on the one hand, to enjoy the pleasures of sin, and, on the other, to escape punishment. For this purpose some persons become atheists, and deny the very Existence of God. Others become deists, and deny his Word and Character." Others, who acknowledge the Revelation of the Scriptures, reject the Atonement of Christ; and others the necessity and reality of Regeneration by the Spirit of God; merely that they may neither be obliged to confess, nor to feel, themselves so sinful, as to need these things. Some determine, that they shall be safe on account of the natural amiableness of their dispositions ; some on account of the abundance of their good works, their uprightness towards men ; their zealous attendance on the external duties of religion ; the fervid state of their imagination, and their feelings, with respect to religious subjects; or their correct, and abundant, conversation about religious doctrines. Others, still, adopt, for the same purpose, the scheme of Universalism; to something, very like which, in substance, all the other schemes, which I have mentioned, directly tend; whether perceived by those, who embrace them, or not perceived. Of those, who embrace this scheme, some admit, that the impenitent will be punished for a season. Others deny, that they will be punished at all. Some hold, that Christ has, in the complete sense, expiated the sins of all men : while others consider the impenitent as expiating their own sins by sufferings, limited in their duration. In all these different schemes it is obvious, that not a single contrivance is adopted to make men virtuous. This, evidently, is no part of their designs. On the contrary, every one is calculated only to foster the love of sinning, and provide safety for the sinner.
But how suspicious is this design in its very nature ! Is there, to the eye of common sense, even a remote probability, that God will love sin, or prosper sinners? Do the Scriptures furnish a single hint, which in the remotest manner even countenances such an opinion? Do they not, on the contrary, hold out the most terrible alarms to every impenitent transgressor ? Would it not break the heart of every such transgressor in this house, if God were audibly to declare lo him, “ Thou shalt go away into everlasting punishment ?" Trust not then your souls,
your eternal safety, to the doctrines of Universalism. Launch not into the ocean of eternity upon this plank. Flee to Christ; the Ark, in which you will be secured from every danger. Waste not your probation in seeking refuges of lies, in making codenants with death, and agreements with hell. Remember, that God bath said, Your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand. Remember, that Christ himself has told you, that He, who believeth on the Son, hath eder. lasting life; and that he, who believeth not the Son, shall not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
THE REMOTER CONSEQUENCES OF DEATH.
THE PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED.
2 Peter ii. 12.
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken, and destroy
ed, shall utterly perish in their own corruption.
In the preceding discourse, I considered the Duration of future punishment. I shall now make some observations concerning its Nature.
That this Punishment will be intense, and dreadful, is declared in the words, which I have chosen for the theme of this discourse. In the same language it is declared to be hopeless. Those, who utterly perish, and who know that this is their destiny as pronounced by God himself, can entertain no hope of a change in their circumstances for the better. They are judged according to the deeds done in the body; or, in other words, during the time of their probation. But their probation is ended ; and the foundation, on which the Judgment rests, completed. Nothing remains for them, therefore, but a reward measured out to them according to their works. This reward, as the reason of man has in all ages believed, and as the Scriptures peremptorily decide, will be only punishment.
The punishment of impenitent sinners may be considered,
On the punishment of sinners, as immediately inflicted by the hand of God, it is to be observed, that it is described to us in the Scriptures in general terms, and those chiefly, if not wholly, figurative. One reason, why such language is employed, is obvious, and sufficient. A state of existence, so different from any thing, with which we are acquainted in the present world, cannot be directly described by words, denoting only such things, as are within our reach, and expressing only such ideas, as we have been able to form. It is, therefore, necessarily exhibited to us in phraseology, not used according to its simple, or literal meaning, but employed in the way of simile, and allusion. Even in this manner, however, it is so employed, as to convey: to us the most terrible images, which have ever been presented to the human mind; and such as in all ages have, more than any others, awakened alarm and anguish in the heart of man.
It is called Death.
Death, as was observed in a former discourse, is the most distressing of all the evils, suffered in the present world, and is accordingly made. by every nation the last infliction of penal justice for crimes, committed against human government. It is surrounded with gloom and terror; it is replete with agony; and probably creates more anxiety in the minds of our race, than all the other calamitics, which exist in this suffering world.
What, then, must it be to die for ever; to suffer the pangs of death to-day, only as a prelude to suffering them to-morrow! What must it be to die from morning till night, and from night till morning; to die through days, and years, and centuries; and thus to spend eternity in dying !
It is presented to us as the sufferance of the Wrath of God.
The anger even of a human being is often productive of the most terrible effects, which are cver visible in the present world. The carthquake, the volcano, the famine, and the pestilence,
have wasted the world less, and produced in it far less misery, than conquerors alone. But, if the rage of such limited, feeble, perishing, beings as we are, can produce such dreadfal sufferings, what must be the effects of the anger of Him, before whom all nations are as nothing; who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth ; who toucheth the hills, and they smoke; who possesses all the means of infliction, and can make every faculty the seat, and every pore the avenue, of pain and sorrow! A fire, saith this great and awful Being, is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell; and shall consume the earth, with her increase ; and shall set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
It is called Darkness, and the Mist, and the Blackness of DARKNess: and sometimes the Shadow of Death; that is, a gloom, resembling the deep midnight of the grave.
If the inhabitants of this world were to continue here for ever, and the light of the sun, moon, and stars, were to be finally extinguished ; if darkness, such as that which covered Egypt, were to brood upon the surface of the whole earth; how forlorn, solitary, and desolate, would be the situation of mankind! How much alone, how bewildered, how hopeless, how lost, should we feel! How would every bosom heave with unavailing sighs, how would every heart waste with fruitless longings, to see once more the delightful beams of the life-giving sun!
God is the Sun of the moral Universe. Where He sheds the light of his countenance, light, and life, and warmth, and comfort, descend upon the creatures, whom he has made. Wherever he hides his face, they are overspread with darkness, und the shadow of death, where there is no order, and the light is as darkness. In the future world, eternal darkness and its conscquence, eternal solitude, will become the dreary and melancholy lot of all the children of perdition : a darkness, lengthening onward from age to age, and terminated by no succeeding day.
It is often styled Fire ; a Furnace of fire ; a Lake of fire and brimstone; the fire, prepared for the devil und his angels.
The power of this element to distress, and destroy, needs no illustration : as the peculiar strength of these images demands