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lofty speculations of an aspiring intellect can with difficulty come down to the simplicity of the Gospel. The command, to come to the Saviour's feet with the humility of a little child, fills the proud heart of those who are wise in their own eyes, with indignation. They cannot endure doctrines, which level all vain distinctions, and require the noble, the affluent, and the learned, to assume the same station of penitence and contrition, with the lowliest peasant. They cannot consent to lay their honours in the dust, and address themselves only to sovereign mercy. It is beyond endurance, that the messages of
grace should come to them, as condemned, guilty, and perishing sinners ; and that as such they should be invited to the cross. Hence the scornful air, the undissembled disgust, with which so mapy, in high life, turn their backs upon the preaching of the cross. And hence, encouraged by their example, multitudes cluster round the standard of a haughty and malignant opposition to the Gospel.
While thus so many regard the preaching of the cross as foolishness, and earnestly wish it were utterly false ; it is not wonderful, that efforts should be made to prove that it actually is so. Probably some, engaged in this opposition, are perfectly sincere, and actually suppose, as Saul of Tarsus did, that they are doing God service, by combating the doctrines of the cross. But whoever obeys the natural dictates of his own heart, and submits himself to the guidance of his own perverted, blinded reason, refusing to supplicate the illuminations of divine grace, will be likely to come under the power of strong delusion to believe a lie.
One other cause of opposition to the Gospel is found in the absolute contrariety of its requisitions, to the habits of life, which men have contracted, and which they are resolved not to abandon. While the preaching of the cross prescribes, as indispensable to salvation, conditions with which many, who have no doubt of being saved, wholly refuse to comply; and while it declares that eternal perdition will be the result of a course, which they are determined to pursue; it must be the object of their settled detestation. Hence the love of sinful pursuits and gratifications, and an invincible repugnance to a life of devotion, are the true reasons why many esteem the preaching of the cross foolishness.
It ought, however, to be kept in mind, while these causes are recounted, that the opeçation of each of them is rendered more efficacious, by the agency of that spirit of darkness, that worketh in the children of disobedience. To increase disgust against the plan of redemption, to exasperate the natural enmity of the carnal heart, to give a specious appearance to objections, and to enforce, with seductive arguments, the cause of unbelief, is the untiring employment of the grand foe of God and man. It is indeed the darling achievement of infernal skill, to inflate a poor worm with pride of talent, and fill his heart with hatred to the Gospel, and then persuade him that his hatred arises from its falsehood and absurdity. No event can afford the tempter
greater joy, than success in persuading perishing sinners to reject the only possible way of escape from eternal death, and to contemn, as foolishness, that doctrine which is the wisdom of God and the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth.
It only remains, that we briefly describe the fearful condition and prosa pects of all to whom the preaching of the cross is foolishness.
THEM THAT PERISH.
And here we have only to repeat the decision of the Searcher of hearts—the Judge of the quick and dead. His infallible Spirit has, in our text, divulged the tremendous fact, that the indifference, contempt, and disgust, which have now been described, are characteristics of
This authority, as well as the nature of the case, renders it certain, that all, who indulge such feelings, are in the gall of bitterness and under the bond of iniquity-dead in trespasses and sins-treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath. Nothing short of utter blindness of mind can be insensible to the glory of the Gospel-nothing but entire depravity of heart can render its doctrines offensive—and nothing but the most obdurate impenitency can resist the melting influence of a Saviour's dying love. It is utterly impossible, that a scornful neglect or disregard of the preaching of the cross should exist, without fearful guilt and imminent danger. All those, among the hearers of the gospel, who will finally be children of wrath, are now characterized by such guilt. And all the lost spirits in the world of wo, who once enjoyed the offers of mercy, cherished the same fatal feelings towards the plan of redemption. It was foolishness to them. Many, even in this land of light, seem to be ripening for the same tremendous doom. Whether in the ranks of open opposition, or under the false colours of pretended regard, the deadly symptom is upon them-a settled disgust and aversion to the preaching of the cross.
Say not, . It is no matter what a man believes, provided he is sincere.' God has settled this question.--" Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Is there not then, appalling evidence, that those, who hold such preaching in contempt, occupy very perilous ground, and exhibit fearful- tokens of the divine abandonment ? And especially might not the angels in heaven tremble for those, who have enjoyed great light and privileges have witnessed rich displays of divine grace--and have once felt a deep solicitude for their own souls—but who now despise and hate those truths, and that cause, which they were once almost persuaded to embrace ?
Ilow clearly and terribly, my hearers, does this subject discover the ungodliness of the unrenewed heart. Those feelings of contempt and hostility, towards what is most precious and glorious in the view of God,
constitute the summit of human guilt. That feeble worms of the dust should thus dare to sit in judginent on the divine administration, and pronounce that needless which God has declared indispensable, and call that folly which God esteems the highest wisdom, is not merely presumptuous ;-it is inexpressibly impious.
How resistless is the evidence, hence arising, of the necessity of an entire change of heart-an entire change of feeling-to prepare men to dwell with God. No wonder then, that our Lord should declare with such emphasis, Ye must be born again, or ye cannot see the kingdom of God.
I beseech you, fellow sinners, lay these things seriously to heart. Do any of you habitually hear the preaching of the cross with heartless indifference-with a light and trifling temper? Beware, lest your heart become fatally hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Are any of you conscious of disgust and aversion, produced by such doc. trines ? O, beware, lest that come upon you which is spoken in the prophets, Behold, ye dispisers, and wonder, and perish : Beware lest you convert the bread of life into the poison of death! Have
already attained such a degree of blindness and perversity, as to persuade yourselves that the doctrines of the cross are really irrational and absurd, and that you are doing right in opposing and deriding them ? Recollect, I pray you, with whose word you are contending ;whose wisdom you are despising ! Let the chaff contend with the tempest, and the stubble with the devouring flame ; let the glow-worm despise all the lamps of heaven ;-but Oh, let not a worm contend with Omnipotence ; let not dim reason reject all the splendours of the Sun of righteousness. The redemption of the soul is precious-Its rescue from perdition, and elevation to God's right hand, are objects too momentous, to be sacrificed to the pride of intellect, or to the fashion of a world which passeth away. Receive, then, with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your oin selves.
By ELIHU W. BALDWIN, A.M.
THE FINAL JUDGMENT.
HEBREWS, IX. 29.- After this the Judgment.
WHILST another year is ending, and time itself, as it respects us, is fast hastening to its close, the question very naturally arises, What shall come after death? The voice of inspiration replies, After this the Judgment. There is no need of entering upon a laboured proof of the doctrine so plainly declared, That there will be a day of Judgment for mankind. It is what seems written by the finger of God himself upon the consciences of
The impression is nearly universal, with Pagans and Mahomedans, as well as Jews and Christians, that every one of us shall give account of himself to God. This impression is strengthened by a view of the very uncqual and indiscriminate allotments of the present life. Here the virtuous are often the objects of hatred and relentless persecution. Here the man of ambition and dark intrigue, circumvents and treads down his more honest rivals. Here Providence often afflicts even the most pious ; while the licentious, and proud, and oppressive, are, perhaps, suffered to enjoy uninterrupted prosperity. Now we believe, assurdly, that “God is just;" and we infer, that he will so exhibit himself by another and more equal distribution of his favours and frowns. We conclude with the wise man, * that God shall judge both the righteous and the wicked.” Conscience and reason, then, unite with revelation, in saying, that “God hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness." No language can be plainer, and no event more reasonably anticipated.
With this absolute certainty before us, ther, of a judgment for all mankind, it would be unnatural--it would betray awful insensibility to eternal concerns, not to inquire with all seriousness
When will this universal judgment take place? What objects is it designed to accomplish? What connexion will it have with our future and eternal condition? We inquire then,
1. When will the universal Judgment take place?
The precise time, God has wisely concealed from every intelligent creature. + Of that day and that hour knoweth no man. No; not the angels that are
in heaven." But the text speaks of it, in general terms, as that which is to take place after our death. Other passages are somewhat more explicit, as to the time. The apostle Peter declares, “ The heavens and the earth which now are, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men." According to this account of the judgment, it will occur at the same time with the destruction of the world; when," as the same apostle declares, “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth, also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up." Paul gives a similar account of the time, as he comforts the church at Thessalonica, under persecution, with the prospect of the judgment, " when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Indeed, if God is to “judge the whole world in righteousness,” what other occasion would seem so proper, as when the last of our race have finished their work on the earth, and the world itself is about to be destroyed? Would it not appear most suitable, that the public and final decision of our destiny, should immediately succeed the winding up of this world's drama ?-the termination of all earthly allotments? When, if not at that deeply interesting crisis, will all things be ready for the great trial ? The final judgment, then, will take place after our death, and at the end of the world. We next inquire,
II. What are the objects, which the Judgment is designed to accomplish?
On this point, it becomes creatures of yesterday to speak with profound humility, and especially to beware of contradicting what is revealed. The objects which Jehovah will accomplish by the universal judgment, are unquestionably vast and momentous, beyond all conception. Yet some of them are obvious to reason, or are plainly revealed.
Every person has experienced inconvenience and perplexity from the circumstance, that the real characters of men, in the present life, are but partially disclosed. Much the larger portion of human actions pass unobserved by the world; or the motives which prompt them are concealed. One design of the judgment, then, is to uncover these hidden springs, and lay open every dark retreat of human conduct. We are told, “ there is nothing hid which shall not be revealed ;” that “ God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil ;'' that he “ will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart.”
Another design of the judgment, is publicly to assign to men their proper deserts. This, we have before suggested, is not done on the earth. “All things here come alike to all.” - There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked.” But the future judgment is characterized, as the day of " revelation of the righteous judgment of God;" " in the which he will