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founded at the discovery of their nakedness and deformity, they fly from the presence of the light, and the sight of saints and angels, now intolerable; and overwhelmed with shame and everlasting contempt, seek for refuge from the anguish they suffer under the shades of infernal darkness. But alas! the flames of hell, though black and dismal, afford light enough to demonstrate their folly and depravity, while the arrows of almighty indignation, prepared by inexorable justice, and directed by unerring wisdom, pursue and overtake them, and piercing them through with unknown sorrows, lay them low at the bottom of that fiery lake, which, fed with streams of brimstone, and kindled by the breath of Jehovah, swells, overflows, and torments their ruined souls!
4. Their once holy and happy nature is now ruined, utterly and finally ruined, without any remedy, or the most distant hope of recovery. Their frail vessels, though built of the best materials, yet corrupted by the worm of sin, being conveyed by the ebb of time down the smooth river of life, are now hurried beyond the bar of death, into the fiery and unfathomable sea of divine wrath. In this most tempestuous ocean, tossed by the furious winds of almighty indignation, upon the raging billows of insupportable torment, they suffer a speedy and an eternal shipwreck. Dashed upon the rocks of ruin, or swallowed up in the gulf of despair, they are entirely lost, and not one broken piece of holiness or happiness remains, nor so much as a single plank of hope upon which they may expect, though after millions of ages, to escape to some land of rest. But,
And now they have no sleepy opiates to make them forget for one moment their misery: no amusement to divert their attention from their intolerable pain, and no consolation left to lighten, in any degree, the dreadful weight of their sufferings!
5. In their most distressing situation here, some alleviating circumstances rendered their affliction tolerable.-Some remaining good in part relieved them under their greatest losses; some cordial,
FUTURE MISERY OF THE WICKED.
"Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. 2 Thess.
1. How infallibly certain, and how astonishingly grand and striking, are the events presented to our view by the apostle in this alarming passage of holy writ! How well worthy the serious attention, and devout contemplation of all who love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, yea, and of all mankind! And yet, (amazing it is!) they are in general overlooked and disregarded, even by those who profess to be assured of them!
2. The revolutions which are continually happening in the petty states and fluctuating affairs of this world; the accession of temporal princes to their transitory dignities and corruptible crowns; the poor and insignificant conquests obtained by worms of the earth over their fellow-reptiles; the approach of earthly judges and the trial, condemnation, and punishment of the violators of human laws, these are events which short-sighted mortals deem of consequence enough to occupy their thoughts in private, to employ their tongues in conversation, and to dignify the annals of history.
"They think, they talk, they write of these."
3. In the meantime, the grand revolution of universal nature; the glorious exaltation of the Prince of the kings of the earth; his
complete and everlasting triumph over principalities and powers, and all the potent enemies of his government; the coming of the final Judge of angels and of men; the decisive trial of the whole world at his bar; and the rewards and punishments then to be dispensed to immortal souls, united to incorruptible bodies;-these subjects, though interesting beyond thought, and grand beyond comparison, are, alas! too generally treated with indifference and neglect! These are judged unfit for meditation in secret, lest they should make us melancholy; unworthy of a place in polite and genteel company, for fear they should damp their mirth and spoil their pleasure; and sure it is, he who means to gain either honour or profit by his pen, must take care not to employ it on these dreary and puritanical (not to say methodistical) subjects, for which this light and airy age has no relish.
4. Blessed be God, that these heart-improving subjects have any place left whither to retire! Blessed be God, that they are not yet quite banished out of the world! They are still (thanks to Divine providence !) allowed to remain in our Bibles, and now and then, (although not often) to ascend the pulpit, and give serious instructions to a few of the poor and illiterate, who are not yet arrived at such a pitch of refinement as to think it beneath them to attend their lectures. But who knows how soon they will be forced from this, their last retreat? Who knows how soon this jovial and licentious age, will forbid us to mention death and judgment, heaven and hell, even in the pulpit, and confine us to discourse on subjects which have less tendency to alarm their fears, and make their minds uneasy? However, as this is not yet the case, let us not neglect to improve the liberty wherewith we are indulged, and in pursuance of our subject, let us, as was proposed, in our last discourse,
Secondly, Take a more particular view of the nature and duration of the misery of the wicked, as proved and explained in the preceding sermon.
1. But here, I confess, my mind recoils. I feel a sensible reluctance to enter upon the consideration of so dark and dismal a subject, a subject which yet I believe very necessary to be considered, and notless profitable. For doubtless our Lord and his apostles would not have recommended such painful meditations to us, if they were not needful, and calculated to yield us much fruit. nothing of their tendency to restrain us from sin, prompt us to duty, excite us to diligence, and awaken our sleepy souls to watchful care and fearful circumspection; reflections upon that future
and eternal misery, which is reserved for the impenitent and unbelieving sinner, and is the just desert of us all, may be of great use to increase our patience under all the afflictions and troubles of this life, so light and momentary in comparison of it. And at the same time, to consider this misery in contrast with that exceeding great and eternal weight of glory, which is the free gift of God through Jesus Christ, will tend to enlarge our conceptions of that great salvation which Christ hath wrought out for us, and of consequence, to endear the Saviour to us, to whom we owe our redemption from the curse of the law, and our deliverance from the wrath to come.
2. Away then with this reluctance! with this "foolish, this treacherous compassion," (as the benevolent Dr. Doddridge calls it) "which chooses rather to leave men to be consumed, than disturb their slumbers." Let us seriously address ourselves to the consideration of a subject, which, though dreary and unpromising in appearance, is notwithstanding productive of much wholesome fruit. Oh, that it may prove such to us all!-Sorry should I be, by discoursing on this point, only to torment some of you before the time and yet, if you seriously attend to what shall be delivered, and after all still resolve to remain in your sins, it cannot be expected to produce any other effect. If, therefore, that be your resolution, if you be not disposed to bid adieu to all iniquity, and give yourselves up to the service of God without reserve, I would advise you to withdraw, and forbear hearing a discourse, which, while that is your disposition, can only distress you. Withdraw, however, with this persuasion, that you are knowingly and wilfully plunging into an abyss of misery, which you have not courage to open your eyes to behold; and this thought, if I mistake not, will be as a thorn to disturb your beds of indolence and pleasure, and as wormwood and gall intermixed with your cups of riot and excess! Oh, that it may, after all, rouse you from the one, and make you nauseate the other, before you make your bed in hell, and drink the flames of endless torment!
3. In the former discourse upon this subject, in which the text was explained, and the doctrine established, it was observed, that the destruction here spoken of, signified, 1st. “The utter ruin of their once holy and happy nature, and the final death of all their comforts and their hopes ;" and, 2dly, "the entire perversion of all their powers and faculties, which shall then be only employed in dishonouring God, and rendering themselves most completely wretched."