« السابقةمتابعة »
the imprisoned spirit forever! And who, in view of this impending storm, will come out in provocation? The sinner challenges the wrath of God. Were it not ourselves, who are thus presumptuous, sin would appear the extreme of madness, as well as of guilt. Oh let us never forget, that the misery of lost souls will be measured by the number and character of their transgressions! If we are in wicked habits, or exposed to peculiar temptations, let us learn the invaluable importance of reformation and of moral resistance. Let us learn the motives, which exist, not only for christians to be eminently holy, but for all men, to be scrupulously virtuous.
It has been the design of the preceding remarks, to fasten on the mind, both how much the joys of heaven depend on vigilance in the divine life, and how much the sufferings of hell owe their edge and weight, to looseness of morals. Unhappy you may be, in despite of all which mercy can devise to save you, yet not so unhappy as you are in danger of becoming. It is one thing to perish, and quite another thing to perish, an old, hardened and abandoned transgressor; it is one thing for a heathen to be condemned, and
quite another thing to perish from a land of b.bies and of sabbaths: it is a glorious thing to be saved at all, but unspeakably more so, to be saved as an apostle.
3. Since the retributions of eternity are dispensed unequally to those whose capacities are nearly the same, it is evident, that the redeemed are less happy, and that those who perish are less miserable, than their powers admit. It may, however, be proper to say, in popular language, that all the inhabitants of heaven are perfectly happy. Who is not convinced, that a sight of the superior enjoyments of apostles and prophets, and holy martyrs of the cross, exalted above others in the heavenly world, can cause no diminution of happiness, to inferior saints? Those whose rewards are the least, are still the children of God, and have the spirit of Christ. They are thankful for what they receive, and envy not those, who receive more. They must, notwithstanding, be sensible of their inferiority. Their views are not so clear, nor so various, nor is their condition so exalted, as appertains to those, who served God better in this life. They feel, that they are capable of higher happiness, they perceive such happiness is
desirable; and they can only be called perfectly happy, inasmuch as their feelings are all holy, and their enjoyments very great, while not a shadow of positive evil, is allowed to approach them. And though the wicked do not suffer, as severely as possible, they may be said, in popular language, to be perfectly miserable. Some drink deeper of the cup of trembling, than others in the same rank of intelligence, but as they are all unholy, and all tormented, without the least alleviation, they may be called perfectly wretched.
4. The views which have been taken do not diminish the dread, which the world of woe should inspire. Its mildest forms of suffering, may transcend our present feeble conceptions. The language in which it is described, conveys to the mind, a picture of misery, beyond any thing endured in this world. Those terrific names of the mansions of despair, hell, hell-fire, the furnace of fire, the fire which is never quenched, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth, imply a great degree of severity in every case of punishment. There will be no injustice. None will suffer more. than he deserves, and every man as much. Yet the lowest seat in heaven, is an archan
gelic condition, compared with that of the least sufferer in hell. To be saved is one thing, to perish is another, infinitely unlike and unutterably worse. In destruction, is involved the loss of all good and the sufferance of all the evil, which those names of horrid import describe. In attempting to set this doctrine in its true light, and to remove the objections, which indiscriminate views and unfounded hypotheses, have raised, I have not robbed it of practical force. It still appears dreadful to perish. Who can number his own sins? Who can tell, to what class of sinners he belongs? We have then every motive, to escape that unknown condition of wretchedness, to which we are exposed. Nor would it contribute to any good practice, to imagine, that the redeemed are equally happy. It is the gracious purpose of God, to reward the penitent according to their services, and to punish the wicked according to their sins. In this, there is much to excite to virtue, much to deter from sin. Does man reflect on this, when he indulges his favorite vice? When envy, breeding hatred and discontent, is harbored in his bosom, does he remember, that God will bring him into
judgment? When avarice, making him unjust, penurious, oppressive and fraudulent, obtains possession of his heart, does he remember, that God will bring him into judgment? When the love of applause, subjecting virtue, consistency, honor and religion to disgrace, usurps his mind, does he remember, that God will bring him into judgment? When ambition, darkening his reason, his principles and his practice, becomes his passion, does he remember, that God will bring him into judgment? When pleasure, weakening his intellect, contracting his views, degrading his taste, and impairing his usefulness, gains the ascendant, does he remember, that God will bring him into judgment? When intemperance, inflaming his appetite, depriving him of conscience, ruining his family, disgracing and corrupting his species, dishonoring his God. and brutalizing his own soul, seizes him for its slave, does he remember that God will bring him into judgment? When stubborn unbelief, chilling the best sensibilities of the heart, disabling the best faculties of the mind, and shutting down on the soul the doors of darkness, asserts its undisputed authority over him, does he remember, that God will bring