« ZurückWeiter »
terror of the wicked, -Wretched they, who refuse to hear its dictates ! who will not believe the power of an almighty Judge, till they see Him come, armed with tenfold terrors, to take vengeance on them that have not known Him!
A second cause, which hinders men from paying due attention to a future judgment, is the supposed distance of it. Distant evils, we all know, lose much of their due force: what may not happen till after a long course of years, we are apt to think may never happen. On this the sensual man builds all his hopes; the sinner all his dependence: he thinks the day of wrath is yet, perhaps, many ages off; and is ready to cry out with the scoffers of old, "Where
is the promise of his coming? For since " the fathers fell asleep, all things continue
as they were from the foundation of the " world.”
But, mistaken man, judgment is nearer than thou imaginest: for though the fatal hour in which God will finally judge the world is known only to the Father, and those to whom he will reveal it; yet every man knows, that we are every moment drawing nearer to that period, which will seal our eternal doom. The terrible signs of God's coming may not perhaps appear
to this generation; but for every man, as soon as death has closed his eyes, the predictions of it are all accomplished :-To him the sun is for. ever darkened, and the heavens passed away :: the elements are dissolved, and the earth, with all its works, vanished :-To him the book is opened, the events of his past life laid open to the all-searching eye of his Judge, and the sentence of eternal happiness or misery ready to sound in his ears. For in the grave there is no change to be made in our fate :---as the tree falls so it must lie to eternity; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge in the grave. - To us, therefore, the grave is the beginning of judgment, and the nearer we approach to it, the nearer we are to falling into the hands of the living God. The day of judgment, then, cannot be far from every one of us. The eye of Provi- . dence may already have marked some of us for the unwelcome stroke of death:--the lot may be mine, or it may be thine.
be thine. And were we sure of this ;-could we see the uplifted hånd of fate ready to smite us with its inevitable force, --with what confusion should we fly to God, lament our sins, implore his mercy, and spurn at all the temptations and vanities of the world.-Say, were we sure it should happen, even within a year, with what caution should we walk, with what earnestness should we pray, with what
fervency should we endeavour to work out our salvation?
i And is it not probable, that some of us will be summoned to appear before the throne of God, ere twelve short months are expired ? Are not our friends daily dropping around us? Has not the last year suminoned some of them to pay the last tribute of nature?. And as surely as the autumnal leaves annually overspread the ground, so surely will the lamp of life, be soon extinguished in inany of those, who now rejoice in its light. What folly then is it to be unprepared for an event, which cannot be far distant, and may
be very near us :;---which certainly apě proaches by the inevitable steps of advancing agė; and may conie with the hasty and unlookedfor speed of a thief in the night!
"") To shew the unreasonableness of this spiritual procrastination still farther, let us consider how very different is the conduct of mankind on most other occasions! They are ever disposed to carry. their fears of worldly evils too fat, and wear out their lives in apprehension of imaginary danger. One man starves himself through fear of want in liis latter days; another pines away in anxious solicitude for the future welfare of his children; a third dreads the loss of a friend or a fortune;
thus embittering life with the apprehension of events which may never happen, whilst they are regardless of that great event which infallibly must happen.
What a surprize, therefore, will it be to such men to see all these worldly fears, which gave them so much uneasiness, vanish away, and, in their stead, to find a judgment which was not in all their thought, and an eternity for which they have made no provision? With what grief and despair will it fill their souls, to have employed their time and care in providing for a perishable body, whilst the noble and immortal part was neglected and forgotten?
Fancy not, then, ye thoughtless flutterers, that carelessly sport on the ocean of life, that the hour of judgment is far off: it is no farther distant than the period of your lives; and how far that may be is known to God alone. But that it cannot be very remote, the repeated knells of departed spirits, and the sable train of sorrow that almost daily meets your eyes, will tell you ; and, that it may not be this very night; that the eye which sparkles with joy to-day, may not to-morrow be closed in eternal darkness ;--which of us shall dare to say?
A third thing, which hinders men from standing in awe of a future judgment, is, that they look round about them, and see that the generality of the world live in the same careless and irreligious manner with themselves. They are, therefore, apt to reason thus with themselves, if any uneasy forebodings of futurity arises in their breasts :“ If I am acting wrong, if I have any thing to 6 fear, there are thousands besides myself in the
same condition; I see we all tread much in " the same steps, and my life is as virtuous as
that of my neighbours:--why, therefore, should “ I be more anxious about my future welfare " than they?"
But considerest thou not, 0 vain man, that thou wilt not be judged by other mens' actions, but thine own!--that it is not the custom of the world, which is to be the rule of thy conduct, but the commands of the Gospel ;- not the example of men that is to be thy pattern, but that of Jesus Christ? --Think not, therefore, that a multitude of sinners will either justify thy commission of sin, or secure thee from the punishment of it. This may, indeed, happen among men, where the arm of justice is often too feeble to reach a combined multitude of offenders. But
the Judge thou hast to fear, is not a man, but a tome God;-a God who is able to weigh the heavens