Ye men of business and of might, in the high meridian of your
course. What is your life ? Were we to make up an estimate from your daily conversation, from the eagerness of your worldly pursuits, from your extensive plans, and far-reaching expectations,we must suppose you exempted from the common lot of mortality. But no estimate can be more delusive. Strip your life then of these fictitious and imposing circumstances, and what is it but a vapor ? What obstacle does your fine constitution oppose to the ravages of disease ?—to the stroke of death? How many firmer have fallen in a few days, or hours?
It is a part and duty of spiritual wisdom, as also an evidence of a due reverence of God, to take notice of extraordinary occurrences in the dispensations of his providence; for they are instructive warnings, and of great importance in his government of the world. In them the “voice of the Lord crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see his name.” And there is a mark left on them, — as profligate persons, — who will not see when his hand is so lifted up. An example of this wisdom is given us here in our blessed Saviour, who, on the report that was made unto him of some severe providential accidents, then newly fallen out, gives an exposition of the mind of God in them, with an application of them unto the present duty of them that heard him, and ours therein.
God hath no other intention in the removing the gospel, and unchurching a nation, but the utter ruin and destruction of that nation. Other judgments may be medicinal ; this is killing. Other judgments may lance and let out the corrupt matter ; this opens a passage for life, soul, and happiness.
Other judgments are but scourges ; this is a deadly wound. In other judgments, God may continue a Father ; in this, he is no other than an enemy and a destroyer. Other judgments are upon our backs ; but this is in our bowels. Other judgments may be for conversion ; this takes away the means of conversion. The torments of hell are not inflicted for the conversion of the damned, nor the setting of the gospel sun for the conversion of a nation.
The last awful hours of a young gentleman who departed from the principles of Christianity and turned Deist. ‘That there is a God I know because I continually feel the effects of His wrath. That there is a hell I am equally certain having received an earnest of my inheritance there already in my bosom.’ narrated by Thomas Sullivan
It is a woeful thing to consider what slight thoughts the most have of this thing. So men can keep themselves from sin itself in open action, they are content, they scarce aim at more; on any temptation in the world, all sorts of men will venture at any time. How will young men put themselves on company, any society; at first, being delighted with evil company, then with the evil of the company! How vain are all admonitions and exhortations to them to take heed of such persons, debauched in themselves, corrupters of others, destroyers of souls!
There will be divine, holy, and almighty wrath manifested in the countenance and voice of the judge. And we know not what other manifestations of anger will accompany the sentence. Perhaps it will be accompanied with thunders and lightnings, far more dreadful than were on mount Sinai at the giving of the law. Correspondent to these exhibitions of divine wrath, will be the appearances of terror and most horrible amazement in the condemned. How will all their faces look pale! How will death sit upon their countenances, when those words shall be heard! What dolorous cries, shrieks, and groans! What trembling, and wringing of hands, and gnashing of teeth, will there then be!
A word now unto those with tender consciences that fear they may have committed sin for which there is no forgiveness. The trembling and contrite sinner is the farthest from it. There is not one instance recorded in Scripture where any who was guilty of “the great transgression” and had been given up by God to inevitable destruction, ever repented of his sins, or sought God’s mercy in Christ.
Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out!” See them bursting into life from their subterranean dungeons!Horror throbs through every vein—and glares wildly and furiously in their eyes. Every joint trembles and every countenance looks downcast and gloomy! Now they see that tremendous Day of which they were warned in vain—and shudder at those terrors of which they once made light. They now experientially know the grand business of the Day and the dreadful purpose for which they are roused from their slumbers in the grave: to be tried, to be convicted, to be condemned, and to be dragged away to execution!
Conscience has been anticipating the trial—and no sooner is the soul united to the body, than immediately conscience ascends its throne in the soul. It begins to accuse, to convict, to pass sentence, to upbraid, and to torment! The sinner is condemned, condemned at his own tribunal—before he arrives at the bar of his omnipotent Judge!!
Ministers are set as guides and teachers, and are represented in Scripture as lights set up in the churches, and in the present state meet their people, from time to time, in order to instruct and enlighten them, to correct their mistakes, and to be a voice behind them, when they turn aside to the right hand or the left, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it;” to evince and confirm the truth by exhibiting the proper evidences of it.