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vens passing away with a great noise, the elements melting with fervent heat, the earth with all things in it being burnt up*, and departing out of its placet. And can any thing be more awakening and awful than all this pomp of horror, this conflagration and confusion of nature? Yes, Sirs, there is one thing yet more awakening; and it is that which the gospel cxpressly pronounces, that, in consequence of all, The wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal. Eternity, eternity, my brethren, is the declaration of the gospel. Nature might lead us to suspect it, the law might give some intimation of it, but the gospel alone asserts it; and not only asserts it, but describes it too. It lends to our faith that perspective by which we descry the paradise of God, and it lays hell open before us, so that destruction hath no coverings. The christian preacher may then say it, with an energy beyond what Solomon could conceive, merely on the principles of the Jewish revelation, Rejoice, Oh young man, in thy youth, &c. but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
Nor must I by any means omit that grand advantage which the gospel gives us in these addresses, the discovery of the blessed Jesus under the character of a Saviour. It displays him as the Chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely; as inviting, as waiting, as pleading, as weeping over sinners, yea, as bleeding and dying for them; as describing the terrors of judgment, that he may awaken them to flee from it, and may gather them, As a hen gathers her chickens under her compassionate protecting wings. But is this a simile that we may use, when speaking of him who is to appear under the character of" the worthy judge eternal?" Yes, my friends, low as it may seem, it is a simile that he himself uses, and perhaps uses it in part because it is so low, that the language itself may be a specimen of that condescension which it is intended to express.
Such is that wonderful contrast of what is most awful, and most engaging, in the gospel; and this gospel, Sirs, do you daily hear. To you is the word of this salvation sent¶; to you is the whole counsel of God declared. May you never be left to Reject it against yourselves**, may divine grace render it A Saviour of life unto life++! Once more;
2 Pet. iii. 10. Mat. xxiii, 37.
+ Rev. xx. 11.
Acts xiii. 26,
Mat. xxv. 46. ** Luke vii. 30.
§ Job xxvi. 6. ++ 2 Cor. ii. 16.
4. We may farther infer, that the serious thoughts of death must be very useful to young persons, since judgment is so nearly connected with it.
It is appointed unto all men once to die, and after death the judgment; and though the final solemnity of that judgment may be delayed to distant ages, the state of the soul is in a moment unalterably fixed; and, in this sense, As the tree falls, so it must liet, for There is no device, nor working in the grave‡.
Now as this is generally acknowledged, we may naturally conclude that those, who remember death, will not forget judgment. Let me therefore, my young friends, call down your thoughts to the grave; and methinks, among so many monuments of mortality, it should not be difficult to do it.
Recollect, I beseech you, what of that kind you have seen the year past. How many of you have attended the funerals of youth like yourselves, of children much younger than yourselves! They have given up the ghost, and where are they? What a change hath death made! Where are they? Why, perhaps, what remains of them, within the walls of this place, under the feet of some of you. Could your eye penetrate a few feet of earth, you would see them; but oh, what spectacles of horror would you discover! yet perhaps a year ago they were in the number of the most amiable objects of your sight. And such is your bloom, such is your vigour : And will you presume upon it, presume so far as to continue exposed to all the terrors of divine judgment, in a vain dependance that some years hence you shall consider and escape it?
Oh that you were wise, that you understood this, that you would consider your latter end|| ! Oh that you would be willing to converse with the dying, and with the dead! You will, no doubt, soon have renewed opportunities of doing it. Some will probably be called away for lessons to the rest; and before the year rolls round, you may perhaps see some pious youth going with joy and triumph to glory, or some careless or incorrigible creature dying in terror, or, which is yet more dreadful, in a stupid insensibility of soul. Reflect, my brethren, on what of this kind you have seen; attend to what you may farther see; and remember that the house of mourning may prove a school of the most useful discipline, if the living will lay it to heart¶.
Heb. ix. 27.
Eccles. xi. 3.
| Deut. xxxii. 29.
Eccles. ix. 10.
But why do I mention the house of mourning? You are perhaps going to that of feasting*. The leisure of the season invites to it; and custom hath established it into a law, to close the old year and begin the new with some peculiar vanities, in some more than ordinary forgetfulness of all the important purposes for which time and the opportunities of it are given. Such is our wisdom, such is our gratitude, such is our consistence with the name we bear, and the profession we make!
You are perhaps some of you impressed with what you have heard; but I am much afraid, there are those that within twelve days, or even twelve hours will have lost the impression, and be as unconcerned about this great judgment, as if God's own hand had sent them a discharge from appearing at it. It is a discouraging case, and it makes us your ministers almost dread this season, cheerful as it is thought, as that in which former convictions will be worn off, and the heart of unthinking youth will be steeled against those that might otherwise be made; as the season, in which we do, as it were, see the infernal lion bearing away the lambs of our flock, even before our faces.
But we will at least cry out for their deliverance, we will lift up our voice like a trumpet t; and may hope, that some of you will take the warning, and hide the word of God in your heart. Sinners will no doubt be enticing you to walk as they do In the way of the heart, and according to the sight of the eyes; but consent not to the solicitation, if you would not be destroyed with them, in that day, when they shall appear, as they have now been represented, unable To stand in the judgment||, and shall perish from this unhappy way which they have taken; and that in a moment, when the wrath of him, whom they now despise shall but begin to be kindled against them¶: For it shall be kindled with such terrors, that they shall say to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand**? The Lord grant, that you may all find mercy of the Lord in that day++! Amen.
*N. B. This sermon was preached at Northampton, December 25, 1735.
+ Isa. Iviii. 1.
Psal. ii. 12.
Psal. cxix. 11. ** Rev. vi. 16, 17.
Prov. i. 10. tt1 Tim. i. 18.
|| Psal. i. 5.
POWER AND GRACE OF CHRIST,
AND ON THE
EVIDENCES OF HIS GLORIOUS GOSPEL;
Μη φωναίς μόνον, και ρημαίων ψόφοις Χρισον γεραίρομεν, αλλα και παση διαθέσει ψυχής ως και αυλης προτιμαν της εαυτων ζωης την εις αυτον μαρτυρίαν.
Euseb. Histor. Eccles. Lib. 1. eap. 3.