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un fold to your view the perfections and ways of the great Eternal; they make you acquainted with his law and gospel, with your own character, and state and prospects as sinners, and with the terms on which alone you can obtain the pardoning mercy of God. The books of creation, of providence and revelation lie spread out before you, inscribed by the hand-writing of Heaven, and designed to guide you to immortal life. Each illustrates and confirms the other, and all unite in pressing upon you the duty of making the eternal God your friend and of seeking for yourself the endless happiness of his kingdom.
Notice next the invitations of divine goodness. These meet the eye almost every page of the inspired word; and coming as they do from the lips of eternal love, it would seem as if they must avail 10 melt every heart that is not a heart of stone. Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth. Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
To give the more effect to these calls of heavenly mercy, the Bible abounds with the most alarming warnings to those who go on still in their trespasses. If I whet my glittering sword and my hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine enemies and will reward them that hate me. He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy. Because I have called, and ye resused, I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded it; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity and mock when your fear cometh.
Turn next to the promises which divine goodness has made to those that repent-promises of pardon, of grace and eternal glory--pardon for the deepest guilt; grace to sanctify, to sustain, to comfort and bless with all needed good, in this life and forever; eternal glory, too, in the presence of God and the Lamb; joys which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, the sure inheritance of all that repent and turn unto the Lord. Nor does the goodness of God stop here. It lifts the covering from the pit of wo, and shows you the awful punishments prepared for them who make light of proffered mercy. It is divine goodness, 1 say, which makes this discovery and warns you of the coming wrath. The voice of warning may perhaps fall an unwelcome sound on the ear, but it is the voice of compassion, telling you of danger and urging your flight. The most awful threatenings of the Bible bespeak the goodness of God, not less really than his kindest promises. The object in both cases is the same ; to bring you to obedience and secure your salvation. “God waves the rod, because he is unwilling to strike.” The wrath denounced is wrath to come. It lingers long, and signals of its approach are held out that you may take the alarm and flee to the ark of safety. It is mercy that now speaks to you of hell; it is justice that will hereafter inflict its dreadful torments on those whom mercy could not reclaim from the ways of sin and death. The warnings of hell are to turn you back from the path that leads thither; you are bidden to look to its dark regions and formidable fires, that you go not yourself to that place of torment.
Such then being the design and tendency of the goodness of God, let us inquire, in conclusion, what are its actual effects.
(1.) All the true friends of God feel the constraining power of his goodness; and by it, are made penitent, believing and thankful. When they reflect upon the manifestations of divine goodness towards them and a lost world ; how patiently God has borne with them amid their provocations and sins; how he gave his Son to die for them, and has called them from being heirs of death to be heirs of glory; they are humbled in the dust in view of the great mercy bestowed on such miserable sinners; and with heartfelt gratitude to the Author of all good, they exclaim with the Psalmist,—What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits? This, my brethren, is the feeling of your hearts, if you have indeed tasted that the Lord is good and gracious. It is a feeling of mingled penitence and love; of humility and gratitude ; and the effect is to draw you near to God in holy affection and to bind
you forever to his throne and service. Cultivate and strengthen that feeling, my brethren ; it is a feeling naturally inspired by the goodness of God, and well becoming sinners redeemed from death and heil by his grace, and made heirs of immortal life. And remember, if divine goodness has already done so much for you, it will do more; if it has begun to save, it will carry on the work unto perfection; and if you have begun to feel the melting and subduing power of of that goodness here, you will feel more hereafter, and finally praise God forever for his redeeming love and sanctifying grace.
(2.) There is another class of persons whom the goodness of God appears to leave wholly unaffected and unmoved. Of this class I fear there are not a few among ourselves. What impression, let me ask, has the goodness of God made on the minds of some of my hearers ? To say that it has not led them to repentance is to say only what they confess to be true, and what indeed is apparent to all. Has it even attracted their attention or drawn from them any direct, grateful recognition of the hand that has sustained and blessed them all their days ? God, my friends, has been doing you good ever since you have been in the world; he watched over your helpless infancy, protected your youth, and crowned your riper years with innumerable blessings; his mercies have been new to you every morning and fresh every evening; great has been his goodness towards you. What returns now have you made to him your great Creator and Benefactor ? Have
your ever growing obligations; have you traced your enjoyments to his munificent hand; realized your blessings to be so many calls to repentance; and by them have you been made humble, thankful, obedient ? If some of you can answer in the affirmative, must not others of you confess here before God, that on you lies 'the sin of having despised the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering ? Has not that goodness fallen upon your heart as rain upon a rock, without impression and without fruit? Look back to the past week, and consider how you began and closed each one of its days ;—you rose in the morning without thinking of God your preserver ; you went about the business of the day without any practical sense of his presence; and you laid down at night without any thankful recognition of the goodness that had watched about your path, preserved you in your going out and coming in, and caused your cup to overflow with blessings. So you spent the last week; every day found and left you unthankful,-casting off fear and restraining prayer before God; and is not this a fair specimen of the manner in which you have spent
the whole of past life? Has not each day and month and year, as it has come to you loaded with God's goodness, found and left you impenitent and prayerless? never seriously thinking of the great design of God in his long suffering and kindness towards you; scarcely admitting perhaps that you are a sinner, and never coming before your Maker and Judge humbly confessing your sin and seeking his pardoning mercy. Sustained and blessed every hour and moment of your being, by the care and kindness of a God, always waiting to be gracious, always calling you to repentance, always proffering you the treasures of his grace and the joys of his kingdom,—and all this without any grateful sense, on your part, of the mercies you are receiving, and without any influence to melt you into contrition, or bring you, penitent and thankful, to acknowledge God as the Author of your being and of your mercies. O hard, insensible heart ! unaffected, unmoved by all the riches of God's goodness; what can melt and subdue thee?-proof against all the riches of heavenly mercy.
(3.) There is another class who take encouragement from the goodness of God to sin against him even with a bolder and more unrelenting hand. This is emphatically to despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering, and it involves the deepest guilt of which man is capable. God spares the guilty that they may have a space for repentance, and they employ the respite given them to multiply their provocations and heap new insults upon the divine Majesty. Because God is slow to punish, they conclude he never will punish. Because he waits to be gracious, they turn his patience into an occasion of sin. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Are none of my hearers chargeable with this abuse of divine goodness? Why is it, let me ask, that you defer from day to day and from year to year the great work of repentance? Is it not because you presume the goodness and forbearance and long suffering of God will yet be continued towards you? God, you say, is a merciful God; he is long suffering and abundant in goodness ; full of mercies and loving kindnesses, and has no pleasure in the death of sinners. True; his mercy is boundless; great beyond what eye hath seen, or ear heard, or the heart of man conceived. It has provided salvation for a lost world; it has followed you with the offer of it all your days; and is waiting now, in much patience and kindness, that you turn and live. What then? Why, I will abuse that mercy ;
that long suffering ; I will despise that goodness which I am experiencing from the hand of my God, and go on to sin against him my Creator, Redeemer, Benefactor and Friend. Does such a purpose, expressed in words shock your feelings ? But is expressing a purpose in words worse than cherishing it in the heart and acting it out in the life? Go, impenitent, prayerless man, as you retire from the sanctuary, go alone into your chamber, and there before God express in language the feelings of your heart, and the conduct of your life. Lord, thou art good, and compassionate and long suffering; and therefore I am encouraged to cast off fear and restrain prayer before thee. Thou waitest with much patience and forbearance that sinners may turn and live; I will therefore go on in my sins, delay still the work of repentance, and cast from me thy fear and service. Thou hast hitherto followed me with thy loving kindness and tender mercy ; I will therefore live, in time to come as in time past, neglecting the duties thou requirest of me, and seeking only my own selfish interests. You tremble and turn pale at the thought of uttering, with your lips, such language before God. But what else is the language of the heart and life of every impenitent sinner ; who, because God is good and does not come forth to execute punishment speedily, delays repentance and presumes to go on still in his trespasses ? Dear hearer, look at this case, and see whether it is not yours. Is it not presumption on the goodness of God, that makes you so inattentive to his calls; so secure in your sins, so ready to put off repentance to a future period ? It must be added,
(4.) That those who continue to abuse the riches of God's goodness will finally perish with an aggravated condemnation. This, we at once perceive, is just; and the Scriptures make it certain. Great as the patience of God is, a time is coming when it will give place to wrath. And this wrath will be the more terrible for the rich mercy that preceded it. When patience has perforined her appointed work, she will retire from the scene and justice will ascend the throne and triumph in the destruction of those who would not yield to mercy. Sinners who despise and abuse the riches of divine goodness, will soon have passed the appointed limit of forbearance; and then the treasures of wrath which they were laying up for themselves, while in the state of merciful probation, will kindle into unquenchable fire, and consume them with everlasting destruction. Mark the connection of the text.-Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering ; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ; but after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God? There is then a treasury of wrath, for despisers of divine goodness; and day by day, and hour by hour, impenitent men, you are casting into it. When will your cup be full? When will you have reached the utmost limit of divine forbearance? Who shall say whether you are not now treading that limit, and that, deferring repentance beyond this hour, you shall not be cut down in your sins and your doom sealed forever? It is indeed a high privilege to live in the midst of the goodness which distinguishes your lot. But there is a responsi. bility connected with it which may well make you tremble. It will be dreadful to perish in any case; but most dreadful of all to perish amid light and privilege ; amid the displays of divine goodness and the means and mercies which were fitted and designed to bring to repentance and salvation. Others hear the voice of God and turn to him and live. Let his goodness lead
also to repentance; let his patience and long suffering draw you to his throne, in penitence and faith, and bind you forever to his service and kingdom. This is right, is good, is happy. But the opposite of it is sin, is misery, is everlasting death. You cannot neglect or despise the goodness of God, but with infinite guilt. If it does not bring you to repentance, it will harden you in impenitence; if it does not bring you to God and prepare you for heaven, it must exclude you from God and fit you for an awful condemnation.
By Rev. AUSTIN DICKINSON, New-YORK.
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT:
OR FINAL APPEAL TO THE IMPENITENT.
Psalm i. 5, The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment. When an important case is about to be decided in a court of justice, it is deemed no mark of enthusiasm to appear specially interested. If the case involve the life of a valued friend, or if even a very large amount of property is depending, it is natural, it is reasonable, to inquire how the trial is likely to terminate. And it would indicate madness, or at least very gross insensibility, if the individual whose life, or all whose property was at stake, should be entirely thoughtless in regard to his trial. If then God has appointed a great day of decision—a day for settling the destinies of every individual in bliss or wo, according to his character--how solemnly interesting must that day be; and how reasonable, how suitable, that we inquire now, whether we are prepared to stand the trial.
The Judge himself has assured us, that “the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment :” and among the ungodly he includes all who remain unreconciled through the blood of the Lamb. If then you have sinned and remain impenitent, the warning is to you : you can not stand the last trial, but must meet a dreadful overthrow. To the candid mind, this certainty of the sinner's overthrow is now capable of perfect demonstration.
1. None will deny that THE LAW OF God, which is holy, just and good, explicitly condemns the sinner, and consigns him to the second death. “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” " He'that offends in one point, is guilty of all.” And “not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” By the law, therefore, no sinner can be justified. And it contains no provision for pardon. On this ground, then, the sinner can never stand in the judgment.
2. He will not be able to stand the last trial, because ALL THE WITNESSES
WILL BE AGAINST HIM.
His companions in sin will testify against him. Sinners, in this world, not unfrequently encourage one another in transgression; and if one is arrested, and brought to trial, his fellows in transgression sometimes swear falsely to save him from condemnation. But at the tribunal of God, every mouth that would justify sin will be stopped. The false swearer, the liar, will feel it utterly impossible to evade Omniscience. sinner will feel constrained to bear witness to the truth, even though it operate to condemn his nearest companions. Thus every wicked plot, every abomination in which they may have encouraged one another, will be openly exposed to their "shame and everlasting contempt.”
Again, the examples of the righteous will testify against the impenitent.