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what extreme happiness, and utter misery, they are capable. He knows what that eternal life is, which he designs for his faithful people, and that eternal death, to which he has doomed the unbelieving, ungodly, and impenitent sinner; He is fully acquainted with the transcendent joys which he has prepared for those that love him, and with the tremendous vengeance which will overtake his enemies; and although his own happiness would not be impaired, if all the world should perish, yet such was his love and compassion for mankind, that he would not spare the most costly means to enable them to attain so glorious a condition, and to escape such dreadful ruin. Judge then what your souls are worth, by what God has done for them; look at your Redeemer on the cross ; learn from him how momentous a concern your salvation is, and then you surely will not carelessly “neglect it,” but will earnestly endeavour by God's help “to work it out with fear and trembling.”
Need I after this remind you of any other proof of the value of your souls? Need I call to your remembrance, how highly the whole spiritual world is interested in the subject of your salvation ? how the blessed angels of God rejoice at the repentance of one single sinner? and how industriously Satan and his wicked
spirits are engaged in endeavouring to corrupt and ruin the souls for which Christ died ? And why should this be so ? why should these beings take such a lively and active concern in the affairs of men ? Because they well know how happy and how miserable we may be; they well know how much depends upon the part we take in this world; the holy angels benevolently desire to have us partakers in the joys which they experience, and gladly fly on God's errands of mercy, to “minister unto them that shall be heirs of salvation.” The Devils, in their malicious hatred of all goodness and all happiness, know they can do no worse work than to increase the number of the enemies of God, who may hereafter be companions with them in their “everlasting punishment.”
My brethren, you see there is ample reason to think that your salvation is a most serious and important concern ; estimate it by the joys of Heaven, or the pains of Hell, by the work of Redemption, by the kind sympathy of friendly angels, or the bitter malice of hostile Devils, all conspire to furnish you with the true answer to our Saviour's question, “What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?” He will suffer an infinite, an incalculable, an irreparable loss.
Now, I have not proposed these things as new, as hitherto unheard-of subjects; they are old and well known; they are familiar to the ears of all of you ; but many have never considered and pondered them in their hearts; it is to these inconsiderate, thoughtless persons, that I address myself. What will you do? How will you
flee from the wrath to come ? How will you obtain eternal life? Your souls will inevitably be lost, if you are not anxious about them, if you take no care of them. And are you anxious about them, or do you take care of them, you who are trifling or sinning away this short space of life, without making any provision for futurity ? You, who have set your affections on things on the earth, and not on things above? You, who are wholly engrossed with your worldly concerns, who walk not after the spirit, but after the flesh, not by faith, but by sight? You, who know no more of religion than its outward forms, who live without
prayer, without repentance, without humility, without charity, without holiness, without seriously endeavouring to acquire or cultivate any one Christian grace? Are there none such among you? Hide not the truth from yourselves, for your soul's sake; if there be any, who apply this description to themselves, not in anger, but with humble sorrow, who perceive that such is their character, that such has been their heedless life, to those I say—make haste to escape, your souls are not yet lost, God has waited for you, Christ intercedes for you, the Holy Spirit overshadows you, ready to impart his powerful aid, the gate of Heaven is open to you, and watchful angels are eager to hail your approach.
These are not idle tales, they are the words of truth and soberness, for “God's word is truth.” Disappoint not then your heavenly friends, but study your own salvation with somewhat of the interest which they manifest on your account, and God will be to you a Father, Christ will be your Saviour, the Holy Ghost will be your Comforter, the good angels will be your guardians, and the glory and happiness of heaven your everlasting portion and your exceeding great reward.”
GOOD AND EVIL ANGELS.
1 PETER, v. 8 and part of 9. Be sober, be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he
And St. LUKE, xv. 10. Likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
I HAVE taken these two passages for because they occur in the Epistle and Gospel appointed to be read in this morning's service.* And it is most probable (as there is generally, if not always, some connection between the Epistles and Gospels) that these two portions of Scripture were selected for the express purpose
* Third Sunday after Trinity.