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your adversary, you must go! "Turn ye to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope," and flee for safety to the blood of Christ, the only refuge from "the wrath to come."
"Lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and thou be cast into prison: verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." And here let us notice two things: first, the danger of sudden arrest; and, secondly, the everlasting doom to which it would consign us.
The first consideration is, the danger of sudden arrest, to which all are liable. The decree is made and published, and "at a time when ye think not of," it might be executed. The imagery of the text is very significant, and full of admonition. The "adversary" may deliver thee over to the judge at any time. And this event will, ere long, be an awful reality. Consult the sacred records: what is the language of its admonitions? "Because there
is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke, then a great ransom cannot deliver thee."* What of its threatenings? "Who will render to every man according to his deeds: unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; for there is no respect of persons with God."+ What of its precepts? Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh
Job xxxvi. 18.
Rom. ii. 6, 8, 9, 11.
And what of its ex
on the children of disobedience."* amples? It informs us, that " the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner-are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."+ Take warning, my hearers, from their dreadful doom. That which is now their misery will soon be your's, unless ye repent, and seek peace with God through the mediation of the blessed Redeemer. The seeds of sin, and the curse of alienation from the Most High, often produce a crop of misery here; but how much more terrible will be the harvest in the day of judgment, when that which began only to grow in time shall be matured in eternity; and the guilt which has been accumulating for years, shall oppress the conscience without the hope of relief or mitigation! For observe,
Secondly. That the doom will be final. The affirmation is most decisive; " Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." A farthing was the least brass coin which the Romans had, and was only equal in value to the mite of the Jews. Now the sentiment amounts to this, that if we are once lost, we are lost for ever; and cannot return to repair any evils we may have done, or correct any errors we may have committed. Not a tittle of the sentence will be remitted; the last farthing must be paid to the Divine Creditor, or we must dwell for ever in the doleful station of darkness and misery! The passage is comprehensive and most expressive. It assures us, that by no means will the unhappy and condemned criminal be ever able to effect his escape, or obtain his deliverance.
And what method can he devise or employ for such a purpose? Can he turn to the world, and crave the intercession of its friends, who once surrounded him? Ah! the world with all its smiles hath closed on him for ever. Would human friendship avail him any thing, even though he could command it, seeing that "friendship with the world is enmity with God?" Can he, moreover, plead his duties? They were not sufficient to save him from perdition, and it were absurd to suppose them capable to bring him from it! Could formal devotions, partial obedience, and charitable actions, have been of any service in the matter of eternal salvation, many who have already been consigned to the "officer," had escaped their dreadful doom: but all these were vain, they could not be instead of Christ. And now what can avail towards their liberation? Flatter not yourselves, I beseech you, with the delusive hope of freedom from this "prison," after you have endured for ages its chains of condemnation; the plain sense of Scripture is directly against such a deliverIf the joys of heaven are eternal, the flames of hell are unquenchable;" and He who knew what its torments are, urges this as a reason why we should “ agree with our adversary quickly.”
But I must hasten to close these solemn reflections. Once more I will enforce the exhortation of the text: attend to the voice of Infinite Wisdom, and fly, my beloved brethren, to the gracious asylum which is open to you. Inexpressible must be the satisfaction of knowing, that "Jesus delivereth from the wrath to come," if we are in true earnest about our safety. When the displeasure of the Moral Governor of the universe was kindled upon the first transgression, the everlasting Son of the Father proposed himself as a merciful Mediator, and arrested the sword of justice in its meditated blow against the human In the fulness of time he appears in this world, and
was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."* And since the memorable period of his bitter agonies in the garden, and the dying exclamation which He uttered on Calvary, He has been "as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Every other medium of seeking reconciliation, but through his mediation, will not only end in painful and dangerous disappointment-it will increase your distance from it. Would you, therefore, agree with your "adversary?" Fly to the "fountain opened for sin and uncleanness;" to the throne of grace established on the merits of your Redeemer, and to the mercy of your God through the death of his beloved Son. I repeat the sentiment; every human expedient is inadequate to the great purpose of salvation, and every attempt to cleanse your heart of its iniquity in your own strength, is declarative of folly, and will issue in total fruitlessness and despair. But turn to the blood of Jesus for remission—to his righteousness for justification -to his grace for power to conquer sin-and to his blessed Spirit as a fountain of holiness and happiness-then all will succeed. Come then, my brethren, without delay. The promises of the gospel invite you the city of refuge lies before you the provision for your peace and succour is made-and all things are now ready. A crucified Saviour stands with open arms to receive you—“why will ye die?" Amen.
* 2 Cor. v. 21.
MATTHEW V. 27-32.
"YE HAVE HEARD THAT IT WAS SAID BY THEM OF OLD TIME, THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY: BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT WHOSOEVER LOOKETH ON A WOMAN TO LUST AFTER HER HATH COMMITTED ADULTERY WITH HER ALREADY IN HIS HEART. AND IF THY RIGHT EYE OFFEND THEE, PLUCK IT OUT, AND CAST IT FROM THEE: FOR IT IS PROFITABLE FOR THEE, THAT ONE OF THY MEMBERS SHOULD PERISH, AND NOT THAT THY WHOLE BODY SHOULD BE CAST INTO HELL. AND IF THY RIGHT HAND OFFEND THEE, CUT IT OFF, AND CAST IT FROM THEE: FOR IT IS PROFITABLE FOR THEE, THAT ONE OF THY MEMBERS SHOULD PERISH, AND NOT THAT THY WHOLE BODY SHOULD BE CAST INTO HELL. IT HATH BEEN SAID, WHOSOEVER SHALL PUT AWAY HIS WIFE, LET HIM GIVE HER A WRITING OF DIVORCEMENT: BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT WHOSOEVER SHALL PUT AWAY HIS WIFE, SAVING FOR THE CAUSE OF FORNICATION, CAUSETH HER TO COMMIT ADULTERY: AND WHOSOEVER SHALL MARRY HER THAT IS DIVORCED COMMITTETH ADULTERY."
THE prohibitions contained in these words, for obvious reasons, are not frequently discussed in the pulpit. Perhaps, however, if they were of more common inculcation in that sacred place, they would not be so often prominent in