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Thus Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum enjoyed the light of the Gospel, but disregarded it, and our Lord says, “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment.” O nominal Christians, flee, we beseech you, from the wrath to come. You will wish that you had been born a Hottentot or New Zealander, or any thing rather than to have had all the aggravated guilt of neglecting the full privileges of a Christian land.
IV. THE ACCURSED SOCIETY. “ It is prepared for the devil and his angels.” Hcre is another tremendous part of the sinner's doom.-It is "fripared.” For six thousand years those fires have been preparing, and materials have been gathering together. God has had the disposal of
Flow Isaiah says, xxx. 33, “ Tophet is ordained of old, yca, for the King, (even the King of Kings,) it is prepared. He hath made it deep and large, the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it."
And then what is the company-devils and evil spirits. Ah! to be associated with those cruel, malignant, and hateful beings, who first tempted, and then will laugh and mock us, taunt us, and torment us, is indeed woe. To be associated, for ever too, with liars and murderers, thieves, drunkards, and adulterers! Those who have forgotten God, may have been disgusted with gross sinners, and yet now to be for ever joined with the most vile and abandoned, and linked with them for ever in the one prison of hell, this is an aggravation of misery that no mind can adequately conceive. The wicked may be pleasant enough to the wicked in their mirth, but will they like cach other as companions for ever in torment?
V. THE PERPETUAL PUNISILMENT. The suffering is eternal and unreversible. This God does most plainly assert: he calls it in our text, “everlasting firc.”
It is also contrasted with the reward of the righteous.
66 These shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous unto life eternal.
The strongest terms are repeatedly used on this point. It is said by our Lord, “ If thy hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee; it is better for thee to cnter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, where the worm dicth not, and
the fire is noi quenched," and this is in substance repeated again and again, so as to have in a few verses six solemn assertions of the eternal duration of the future punishment. So we find by Jude 7, The wicked shall suffer “ the vengeance of eternal fire." In Revelation xiv. 10, 11, we read that he who receives the mark of the beast, shall - drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out without measure into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment ascendcth
for ever and ever." Thus God has expressly declared, that the punishment of the wicked shall be everlasting. How, then, is that punishment to be ended? By force? What! overpower Omnipotence? By fraud ? What! outwit infinite wisdom? By exhaustion? Can any thing be annihilated? What! in contradiction to the Divine will!
But is it not unjust to visit upon a temporary sin an eternal woe? Ah! do you not even in this world, sce men suffer lasting evils from a momentary sin. If it be necessary for God to threaten, it is right for God to executc, and the necessity of the threatening is proved; as even the tremendous penalty does not deter many from the sin, and though multitudes are warned, and escape the coming wrath, multitudes still go on in sin notwithstanding every threatening.
But it may relieve the Christian's doubts of the Divine veracity on this fearful subject, to remember that our obligations to God being infinite, life and death being placed before us, and the wicked voluntarily choosing death, justly merit the awful penalty. They remain impenitent in hell itself, they go on sinning there, and if they had lived here for ever, they would have gone on sinning for ever; God is clear when he judges, and even those who suffer will be constrained to justify him who condemns them to eternal woe.
In the vast extent of God's creation, when we look abroad on the starry firmament, and see worlds upon worlds, what if there be one region like a prison, where the Just Governor of the whole universe confines criminals, as a moral lesson to the universe, a guard against rebellion, and a preservative to obedience? Can you say that this may not be in infinite wisdom, equity, and love?
But, mainly and chiefly, hell is the mirror which displays the glories of his power, and truth, and justice, and holiness.“ Hath
he said, and shall he not do it?” O risk not eternal ruin on the most improbable of all contingencies, the chance that God may lie and deceive, or rather on the utter impossibility that he should
Do you say it is severe? Ah! remember the assertion flies back. Be not so severe to yourselves, as to rush upon it for vain pleasures; wrong not, destroy not, your own selves; you are forewarned, and yet you hasten to the ruin; it is distinctly laid before you, and yet you prefer it to self-denial, faith, hope, and love.
The voice of the whole sermon is, “ Flee from the wrath to come.” Linger not a moment on the plain. Escape, “escape for thy life," lest thou be consumed; escape to the only city of refuge, even Christ Jesus.
In applying this, I would add two or three plain directions. lst. DREAD SIN AS THE WORST OF ALL EVILS.
Losses of property are evils; poverty and contempt are evils; sicknesses in our persons or families are evils; national calamities are evils; wars and famines and pestilences are evils; but sin is the worst evil, for it is the cause of all others; bringing down upon the creature the displeasure and wrath of him from whose appointment all suffering originally comes, as well as all happiness, and, if having its full issue, landing the sinner in endless ruin. O sinner, stop in thy mad course: sin will be thy ruin here and forever, if persisted in.
2d. REPENT IN TIME. There is a way of escape; there is space afforded for a change of mind. “ Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out," ere it be too late. You want a changed mind, consisting in a deep sorrow for sin, a hearty acknowledgment of it before God, a lively faith in his free pardon through the blood of Jesus, and then an amended life in righteousness and true holiness. You must be born again, and God has proinised, if you will inquire of him, to give a new heart and a new spirit. O can you be content to receive all your good in this life, and to be miserable for ever; but “except you repent, you must perish." Turn you then to that Divine Saviour who gives repentance and remission of sins. Turn you, for why will you die? This leads me to
Value Christ JESUS SUPREMELY as the giver of all you need, the only refuge, the all-sufficient Saviour of the lost. Are you yet impenitent and unconverted? O value Christ, as able to give you repentance, and exalted for this very purpose. He came into
the world to be the deliverer from the wrath to come; he yet lives
66 There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but aster the Spirit.” Christians can say of him, “ He hath delivered us from the wrath to come.” They can stand on the rock of Divine truth, amidst all the raging storm of wrath rushing on the ungodly, and be in perfect security, under the hiding-place from the wind, and the covert from the tempest. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" He who has the keys of deaih and hell, is their friend, and none can hurt or annoy. O Christians, may gratitude to your Redeemer, and tender compassion for perishing sinners, and persevering endeavors to lead them to your Protector and Deliverer, bear testimony that you are the redeemed of the Lord, whom he hath delivered out of the hand of the enemy, and formed for himself a people to show forth his praise!
By the Rov. EDWARD BICKERSTETH,
Rector of Watton.
REVELATION Xxii. 3-5. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and the Lamb sball
be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord giveth them light; and they shall reign for ever.
IMMORTAL beings, here is the prize of your high calling! Here is the glorious recompense held out for your attainment. To assist you to gain this, is the noble object of the Christian ministry. For this we are embassadors of Christ to you; and if you ask, May such sinful creatures as we have such a hope? our commission reaches every one of you; Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creaturc. O that you and I
o may together attain this holy and eternal happiness!
We have now to consider this the inheritence of the saints, the state of heavenly happiness and glory. May the Divine Spirit clevate our thoughts, and reveal to us "the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
Do you ask, Is such a state attainable by fallen sinful creatures? May I reach those happy regions? I will ask you one question: Do you really so desire it as to follow the Divine directions for its attainment? Are you made willing by the Divine Spirit to sacrifice every thing that would interfere with your progress towards, and preparation for it? If indecd this be so, then I reply, It is not only attainable by you, but you already have the blessing. Not one shall honestly, heartily, and enduringly seek this glory in God's appointed method, and fail of success. O that God the Holy Ghost may so teach us that the consideration of the subject