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'souls, or you will be inevitably overwhelmed in that ruin which God has sworn to bring upon his impenitent foes. Agree therefore with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with him. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. Is he not waiting to be gracious ? While it is called to day, then, hear his voice. Harden no longer your hearts, least he swear in his wrath, that ye
shall never enter into his rest."
First. The conduct of careless sinners is irrational. The conduct of those alone deserves to be accounted rational, who in their calculations, are most concerned about that which is most important. To be thoughtful concerning matters of less moment, and to reject those of greater, is always proof of folly. In the things of this world, to spend life in the chace of possessions which are known to be not only less valuable than others, but positively hurtful, would, in every case, be pronounced madness.
But, ye that are careless about the salvation of your souls, such calculations and labours exactly represent your conduct in spiritual things. It is, therefore, an irrational part which you are acting. You know that earth is not your home. But your practice de. clares, that you never seriously consider the solemn fact. Your carelessness proves, that you feel as if you had, on the earth, * an abiding place. Here, your manner of life contradicts the clear dictates of your judgement. And what can be irrational, if the practical contradiction of reason and judgement, be not?
You know that you are entirely dependent on God. You know, that unless you have his approbation and blessing, you must be wretched. You know, that you cannot have the blessings of his friendship, unless you render him the honor, the obedience, the love, which are his due. You know, that disappointînent and death reign over the best possessions of the world. You know, that your present life is with you a time of trial, yes, your only time of trial, for an unchangeable and endless existence upon which you must quickly enter. You know that without un. ceasing vigilence, in obedience to God, you cannot possibly enjoy his favor, in the world to come. You know, that except you receive, in your soul, his holy moral image, you possess nothing which he approves. You know, that by nature, you are alienated from his love and service ; and that if you never during your present life, experience an entire change, in the disposition of your hearts, towards God and duty, you are utterly unfit for his favor; nor is it possible for him to behold you with the smallest de. gree
of approbation. You know, that you are every instant liable to be arrested and sent to his bar, for judgement. You know, that you are unfit to die and go before your judge in peace; for you know, that you are utterly destitute of that holiness, without which you cannot see God, but with confusion of face. You know at the same time, that God is both offering and commanding you to accept a complete salvation from your condition of rùin and death.Facts more interesting, more solemn, more worthy of your supreme attention, are inconceivable. They do not, they cannot exist. And yet, how do you live? Like the brutes that perish. The perception of the facts, that have been mentioned, passes slightly through the mind, but leaves no abiding impression. You conduct yourselves as though the reverse of all this was fact. You live without evangelical religion, as though there were no heaven to secure, no hell to shun. You find yourselves approaching continually nearer to the grave and the pit of the damned, and are still careless,
still indifferent, whether heaven or hell must be your endless inheritance; still practi. cally undetermined, which of the two be most desi. rable. You are saying, earth, the creatures, shall yet confer
upon us all that we desire. When alas the
Being who made the carth and the creatures, tells you that your trust in them will assuredly be disappointed. By your carelessness, about your salvation, you are acting this very irrational part. You are contradicting the God of truth. You are contradicting the uniform testimony of your own past experience. You are contradicting the unvarying decisions of your own consciences. By your practice, you declare, that in an irreligious, an unholy life, there is no danger; while you know, that in such a manner of life, there is perpetual and extreme danger,
Here in your spiritual concerns, there is irration. ality, there is absurdity of enormous growth. How loudly you would, in the very outset, cry folly upon the conduct of your neighbour, were you to find him expecting to become opulent by gathering grapes upon thorns, and figs upon thistles. But his conduct pre
' cisely represents your own, while you indulge the carlessly formed opinion, that, without holiness, it will be possible for you to behold God in peace. Why do you not tremble, while you perceive that in condemning your neighbor, you condemn yourselves? Why are you not alarmed, at finding yourselves so much more rational, so much more consistent, in the things of this life than in the things of the next? Why do you pever, in mere worldly calculations, expect desira. ble effects without their appropriate causes; when in the infinitely weightier concerns of your souls, you are always practically looking for such effects as are without any competent cause? Why do you careless. ly trust, that you are coming to the happy end of the pious life, without living piously? Wherefore do you indulge the very irrational thought, that you shall at length, enter into the joys of the heavenly world, without travelling the only road that leads thither? Why do you coldly expect the blessedness of the Lord's people, while you know, that you do not possess their character ? Seriously consider these things,
Cease to act a part so irrational, as that of carlessness about the only object, which can deserve your supreme attention. And may the God of all mercy and grace dispose you to · Escape for your life.”
Secondly. Sinners deceive themselves, while they expect happiness without piety. Of all delusions, that of self deception seems to be most criminal and fatal. Gospel piety is happiness is heaven, the soul. Impiety is restlessness, is misery. But you are persuading yourselves that this is not true. of real satisfaction, you persuade yourselves to believe, is not quite so strict and narrow as is represented. That entire escape from the dominion and love of re. bellion against God, which he requires, you trust, is not indispensibly necessary. Thus deceived by the love of sin, you are in your spiritual concerns, crying, with the sluggard, « A little more sleep a little more slumber; a little more folding of the hands to sleep;' all shall yet be well.
But had Lot persisted in deceiving himself, by arguing thus, he must have perished in the flames of guilty Sodom. He seems to have been much injured by the influence of the sentiments and practices so common among his wicked neighbors in that devoted city. He had in some measure, lost sight of sin's evil nature, and of the dreadful ruin to which it leads. There appears to have been in him, a degree of self-deception. He was not ready to admit that the representations of danger were strictly correct. It was with reluctance that he escaped, although the informing angels from Heaven were at the door, and the impending storm was in sight. Es. cape, however, he must, or sink down in the common ruin.
But if in this imperfect world, a righteous man be thus exposed to self-deception ; if one who loved the Lord, was with so much difficulty persuaded to see and acknowledge the greatness of the danger there is
in wickedness; how ought you to see and to shun those delusions, which persuade you that impiety is not the broad road to destruction ! Hear what God has said, and tremble at the thought of embracing aný sentiments which contradict his word. Woe unto the wicked ; it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him.' Keep in your view this and a thousand similar declarations of your Maker, ye, that through the love of sin, are blinding your minds with respect to the truth; ye, that trifle with your Creator's commands; ye, that Hatter yourselves with the hope of safety, although you drive far from your thoughts all concern about the great salvation; ye, that are laboring, with your whole strength, to fasten your hearts and your hands upon a world, whose fashion, as to you, passes away, and with which all your connexion will presently cease forever.
Is not your persuasion, that you shall be happy without holiness, injurious in all respects? Does it not confirm and fix you in a course that is unwise for both worlds ? Is not the present portion of the righ. teous better than yours? Is not his future portion infinitely preferable to yours ? Are not the righteous securing, while you are loosing, all that is desirable in the life that now is, and in that which is to come?
The righteous have, even now, that peace, which arises from an affectionate submission and obedience to the will of God. And as to futurity, they have the hope, which is the anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast. But, as to you, while deceiving yourselves, with a false belief and groundless hope ; what is your remorse of conscience, when conscience gains liberty at all, to be awake; what is every disappointment here of your hopes; what are fear and horror at the thought of going into the other world ; what are these torments, but a part of that hell which