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God in heaven. All impenitent sinners do not reason from the same principles; but like natural maniacs, each has his peculiar chain of argumentation; each, his own vein of madness. One takes it for granted, that the everlasting punishment of the wicked is inconsistent with the divine attributes; and consequently deduces this inference, that no one shall depart accursed, to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. It should first be proved that God is too good to be just; too kind to execute his awful threatenings; and so merciful, that he cannot pardon one rebel, without teaching, that the law never had a penalty, and that “hell's broad path leads round to heaven's door.”+
A second person, who is beside himself, receives it as an established truth, that God has never made a revelation to man; and therefore infers, that all the promises, denunciations, precepts, parables and histories of the Bible, constitute “ a tale of other times.”
A third madınan is confident, that there is no future state of existence, and hence argues that he has nothing to hope, nothing to fear, beyond the grave. He is rational in refusing to ask, “what shall I do to be saved?” He exclaims, “ let me enjoy myself to-day; to-morrow I die: and let eternity take care of itself.”
Here is the mischief. Sinners attempt to suspend a chain from heaven, without making fast the first link; to build a temple of happiness, without laying the foundation; to enter the celestial abodes, without passing through the only possible avenue. Christ is the door: but with frantic joy, they are climbing up some other way.
a Calvinist. He was asked if his wife was hopefully pious, and his answer was, " why, she always had by nature a very evangelical mind."
+ Triumph of Infidelity.
A fourth says, “the way of transgressors is not hard. It will not lead to misery.” It follows, then, that he may safely persevere in enmity to God. Every enemy of the cross of Christ is arguing, in some manner, from false principles, to convince himself, that he is in a state of peace, safety, and felicity. He deceives himself. He loves the delusion. Is not this person beside himself?
III. Maniacs are often supremely attached to trifles, and so are all unbelievers. You, who have been personally acquainted with the unhappy beings, who are deranged in mind, may have heard them rant for hours, about some little injury which had being only in imagination: or you may have seen them weary themselves to catch what existed only in a madman's eye. Early and late each lunatic thinks and speaks upon the favourite theme; when it is of no importance. Many of these people fill their abodes with feathers, sticks, straws, and bones, and dote upon them, as an antiquary upon his cabinet of curiosities, or a miser upon his treasures.
So frantic are they, in their attachment to trifles, that they deny themselves necessary food to acquire them.
The Christian poet has admirably described one of these wretched beings.
.“ And now she roams
“ She begs an idle pin of all she meets,
In like manner, the wicked are madly fond of pebble stones and shells. They love dress, houses, gardens, equipages, entertainments, and the fashionable amusements of the metropolis, more than the immortal soul. They ask an “idle pin," a little temporal pleasure, of all they meet; but never pray, “Lord, give us everlasting life.” " Who will show us any worldly good?” is their cry; and not this, “ Lord, list upon us the light of thy countenance."
Impenitent sinners! your daily conversation and conduct prove you guilty of this delirium. You rave against the cheat, who defrauds you of a shilling; but feel no indignation against that aggregate of iniquity, which made it necessary
for the Son of God to die. The Scriptures demand, “ought not Christ to have suffered these things;">
to have shed his blood for the remission of sins?" and you reply, “we see in man nothing exceedingly sinful; and instead of condemning, we pity his imperfections, incidental to humanity. We trust a little discipline will reclaim and rectify him: and prepare him to enjoy a holy heaven, a holy God!” Should any one touch your property, or list up his little finger against your fame, you would swell with resentment; but let any one sooth your disturbed conscience by bland expressions, or by some pleasing illusion beguile you of heaven, and with a lunatic's good nature, you bless the destroying, the accursed companion. You love to have your attention fixed to your favourite toys: you smile, if any one counts the number of your brass pins, or admires the elegance of your mansion: but if any faithfui friend urges you to be clothed with Christ's righteousness; to be fed with the bread of life, instead of starving on husks; to be comforted with the consolations of the Holy Spirit, you turn away in disdain, or gnash your teeth in resentment. You shun him who would bring you to your senses; and court his society, who cherishes all your hopes of sublunary bliss. Your affections have never been set on heavenly things. They are given to phantoms. You retire to rest with a novel for your prayer-book, or awake and consult your leger as the oracle of God.
IV. Maniacs are commonly their own worst enemies; and so are all the opposers of Christianity. You know, my hearers, that the delirious even hang, or starve, or drown themselves. What produces his agony who is foaming with madness? His own imagination. Look at the demoniac among the tombs. Who injured his body in this dreadful manner? He mangled his own flesh with stones.
Who, now, occasions the sinner's destruction? It is not God; for he says, as I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the sinner." It is not THE ADVERSARY; for he can only tempt and accuse. He has not the power of compulsion. “ Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself.” “ They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.”
Every one who dies in unbelief, brings ruin upon his own head. Who causes this starving wretch's hunger? A feast is made ready: he is solicited to attend: but he refuses: he had rather perish, than live upon the clemency of God. Who exposes the bedlamite to the chill blasts of winter? He will not receive clothing from the wardrobe of heaven. Who consigns the ungodly to misery? They are madly bent on destruction. O sinner, thou art beside thyself,
V. Maniacs are insensible to imminent danger; and so are the enemies of the cross of Christ. They will laugh while exposed to shipwreck, sleep on a precipice, or cast stones at the lightnings of Jehovah. When the wicked are warned, they mock at peril. While the deluge hangs over them, they insult the preacher of righteousness. When the Lord cometh out of his place, to shake terribly the earth, they are unmoved. Although it is said, “if any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha,” let him be consigned to eternal perdition, when the Lord shall come to judgment, yet they have no apprehension of danger. Some are so hardy as to defy the Lord, saying," who is the Almighty, that we should fear him; or his Son, that we should adore him?"
The sinner is at sea, in a leaky bark. Over him the clouds are full of Sinai's thunder. The storm begins to descend; but he has no anxiety. One would think he had Almighty power to inspire him with such confidence. He seems to slumber, in full persuasion that he shall awake in season, command the winds and waves to obey him, and instantly arrive at the desired haven. He neither examines his chart, nor puts forth an oar, but is tossed hither and thither by every wind of doctrine; is borne aloft on the surges which challenge the tempest; and then sinks down to the sides of the pit. In such a situation he slumbers, or awakes to sing,
“Of love's soft anguish, and of grief supreme;'"* imagines that the sea of life is calm, and believes himself secure of a protracted time for repentance, because “his bosom,” sportive, dances “to nature's boundless charms,”
He feels secure; but when mercy no longer pleads forbear, he will sink into the bottomless abyss, and find that vengeance belongs to the character of a benevolent Deity,