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SERMON XVIII.

2 PETER iii. 5.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the

night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up.

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we behold the dreadful forerunners of the day of judgment here described, we should want no other argument to excite our repentance, and warm our devotion. A world in flames, and a God descending to judgment, would appal even the boldest sinner, and make him cry out, in the language of the astonished jailor of old, "What shall I do to be saved=”

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Whence, then, is it, that this great and important event, which must one day certainly happen, makes so little impression upon us ?

T 4

Why

Why do we slumber on in our complicated sins and follies, when we cannot but know, not only that judgment is certainly hanging over our heads, but also that the day of the Lord may come, in an hour when we look not for it?

These are great and solemn questions, which all men are concerned to answer; and yet, I am afraid, no answer can be given to them, which will not reproach our folly. Those whom education and reflection have enabled to consider this great subject aright, want not additional arguments to strengthen their faith in this point. But the unlearned Christian, ---the Christian, who has neither time nor talents for elaborate investigation, --will suffer me to lay before him, in terms suited to the plainest capacity, the folly and weakness of those various pretences, which lead men to disregard the awful impressions of a future day of account,

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The first cause, which hinders men from suf ficiently weighing the terrors of a judgment to come, is a spirit of infidelity. And what is this, in other words, but a spirit of the greatest folly and infatuation? For, if ever any truth was clear and undeniable; if ever any evidence was full and satisfactory; that of a future judgment must be so, to every impartial enquirer;, whether we

consider

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consider it as founded on the information of scripture or the dictates of reason. Both the Old and New Testament unanimously represent it in the same colours, and under the same figures. Our Saviour has only explained what the prophets said of it before him: and this he. did in the fullest manner, :He constantly declared, both privately to his disciples and publicly to the world, that there would be such a judgment. He has described the preparatives and circumstances, with which it will be , attended. He has told us the very terms, which the Judge will make use of in pronouncing sentence. And, that he might omit no confirmation which could add weight to so important a matter, he ratifies the truth of what he says, with a solemn asseveration, which he seldom uses but on such important occasions : “Verily say unto you, heaven and earth shall

pass my

words shall not pass away.'

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away, but

And this great truth is not confined to Revelation only : for all nations and all religions in the world have, in some sort, acknowledged it. It seems to be a notion-inscribed on the hearts of men by the finger of Him that formed them, that there is a just and righteous God, who will reward virtue and punish vice. Hence it is, that to this judgment of God we see men, as it were,

instinctively

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instinctively appealing, in those solemn, but
common expressions;-" God is my judge ;-
* He is witness that what I say is true ;-to
- Him I appeal.” The same instinctive notion
of a future judgment we always find to the
great comfort of mankind under the injuries
they suffer: it is the constant language of op-
pressed innocence, —" God searches my heart
" and knows my innocence, and will do me jus-
“ tice, hereafter, for all the wrongs I suffer.”
What is it also but the same instinctive notion,
which checks our vicious inclinations, and makes
us afraid to commit sin? And when we have
committed it, though we have escaped the cen-
sure of the world, and have been justified in the
eyes of men ; yet there is something within that
tells us, all is not right; there is a hand-writing
on the wall; there is a secret voice which alarms
our fears, which makes us tremble and look pale
in the dark hour of midnight; which whispers
us, that we must one day stand before a Judge,
who can neither be deceived nor eluded.

And whence then is this notion common to all the nations of the world, and extends itself through all ages ? Can it be error? Can it be superstition ? No: it is the voice of nature, -it is the language of reason, which points out an hereafter, the comfort of the virtuous and the

terror

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