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in a balance, and to whom the whole: universe is but as a point. :. No power of numbers.. therefore, will save thee from his just judgments. His avenging arm was able to drive a combined host of rebellious angels from heaven, and destroy a disobedient world by an irresistible de luge: how then shalt thou escape his power, or whither shalt thou flee from his presence? Couldest thou climb up into heaven; he is there: Wilt thou go down into hell; he is there also: Couldest thou take the wings of the morning, and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there also his hand can follow thee, and his right hand hold thee: Sayest thou, Peradventure the darkness shall cover me; the darkness is no darkness with him, but the night is as clear as the day; the darkness and light to him are both alike. Let 'not, then, example ôr multitude lead thee on to‘ruin. Wide; indeed, is the gate, and broad is the way, in which the multitude walk; but remember also, that it
leadeth to destruction. Be it thy care, therefore, to enter in at the strait gate, which leadeth to eternal life, amidst the happy few that find it.
A fourth reason, which hinders men from fearing a future judgment, is a presumptuous dependence upon their good works.
There are many, who live without committing any flagrant
or notorious sin, attend the outward ordinances of religion, exercise some moral virtues, perform some charitable and laudable actions. If these men, therefore, have any thing to fear, they think it is not for themselves, but for their neighbours :—they are grieved for the corruption of the age in which we live, are fearful of the welfare of mankind, are concerned to think, how thousands, whose destruction they have already pronounced, will answer before God. As for themselves, they have no fears :~they are children of grace," the elect of God: they depend upon their zeal for religion, and a life unpolluted with
any notorious sin; they think their stretched-out hands and uplifted eyes will witness the sincerity of their devotion, and secure to them a place in heaven.
But this is that wicked presumption, which the Son of Syrach says, is sprung up to cover the earth with deceit. To be righteous overmuch, and despise others, is the language of the tabernacle and enthusiast, but it is not the language of Christianity and good sense. St. Paul's advice to the Philippians, to work out their salvation, not only with fear, but with trembling too. And yet these were the very Philippians, whom he commends for their alms, their works of charity, their constancy in suf
fering persecution, and their patient taking the spoiling of their goods. Notwithstanding all which, he does not bid them fear for others, but for themselves ; to work out their own salvation with fear, and to leave others to the their proper Judge. And with the same conseious humility, when David, the man after God's own heart, had watered his couch with penitential tears, and exercised himself in the law of God, day and night; all that he requires in return is, that the Almighty would not be too severe in his exainination, too extreme to mark what is done amiss :-“ Enter not,” says he, “ into judgment with thy servant, O Lord; 65 for in thy sight shall no man living be jus
. tified.” Let no man, therefore, arrive at such a pitch of folly as to presume upon his own sufficiency, or to condemn others. It will be enough for him, that he can answer for himself at the day of judgment. It will, therefore, be his highest wisdom, and the best evidence of his religion, to think humbly of himself and charitably of others; knowing that all his own sutticiency is derived from the sanie God, to wliose merey their failings are to be left.
Another reason, which hinders men from fearing a future judgment, arises from their belief, that the mercies of God are infinite; that he is 2
á being of unbounded goodness ; that he did not create man to make him eternally miserables Far be it from me to set limits to that mercy of God, which I, and every man living, shall too much stand in need of at the great day of account. God is, indeed, good: we see it every day; we feel it in every action of our lives, we are our very selves the fruit and offspring of his goodness, which called us out of nothing into life. But then, is he not also just as well as merciful? And will not that justice oblige him to punish unrepented sins? Where, then, is the false confidence of the sinner in the metcy of God? That mercy will, indeed, incliné him to seek the conversion of the sinner in this life; but we should make a monister of him, and not à God, should we suppose him not to punish sin hereafter. He did not, indeed, create man upon the earth to make him miserable: but man may make himself so. Neither did he create the fallen angels with a design to make them miserable: yet we know, that they are reserved under chains of darkness for ever, having pre sumptuously abused the mercy of heaven. Let no man, therefore, presume upon the goodness of God too far. His mercies are the hope of the sincere, though infirm, Christian; but they are not the sanctuary of the wilful and deliberate sinner: they will rather be an aggravation of his
guiltz, and add to that heavy sentence which awaits it; for they that despise, his mercies, surely deserve most to feel his judgments.
pre - Let, therefore, no false pleas, my brethren, or fallacious, hopes, remove our thoughts from the terrors of a judgment to come: : If there be any certainty in reason, or truth in revelation, we must one day stand together at the bar of a just God, where no deceitful pleas, or mask, of hypocrisy, will avail us. If, therefore, we would escape, the severity of God's judgments, and obtain a favourable sentence at that great day, we must prepare for its coming by a holy and virtuous life. : We must often examine the state of our souls, and live continually in the fear of God. We must often retire from the cares of this vain world, and exercise our thoughts in the contemplation of a better. We must weigh all our actions in the balance of the sanctuary, and walk as strangers and pilgrims upon earth, upon which we have no abiding city. And, above all, we must daily prostrate ourselves at the throne of mercy, in a deep sense of our own unworthiness, saying with holy Job: “ I am afraid of ^ all my sorrows; I know that thou wilt not s hold ane innocent. Hi