Page images

are gone

requireth his life at his hand-when he looks back on his past life, all is horror and despair, without a single ray of hope to lessen the tremendous gloom-how does the remembrance of his

open, presumptuous impieties, and of his secret guilt, distract the soul, and make it a terror to itself-with what anguish does he recal to mind his passed impious joys, and finds that they

for ever, and when he feels the deep and deadly sting they have left behind—when, like departed ghosts, they arise up in all their hideous forms, and spread terror around on every side, how deep the misery of recollecting precious moments neglected and now for ever lost; golden opportunities squandered away, and never more to return, mercy abused, and to be offered now no more; the motions of the Spirit quenched, never to be revived again; convictions smothered and stifled, never to be renewed; time come to an end; insatiate death pursuing his prey,

“ like a staunch murderer, steady to his purpose,” armed with a mortal sting to kill both soul and body at one dreadful blow,and all this but “ the beginning of sorrow”-it is not the sepą. ration betwixt the corporeal and immortal parts, it is not the resigning of life, it is not the being torn from this world and its enjoyments, it is


[ocr errors]

none of these which denominates death the king of terrors; no, it is on account of the awful hereafter, the important consequences with which it is attended, and only on account of these that it is to be dreaded-it is impossible to conceive any thing more awful, than the instantane. ous transition of the soul from this world to a world of spirits-how dreadful the leap out of time into eternity- a world of vanities and uncertainties for ever passed away, a world of unknown and unseen realities opened; a state of probation at an end, a state of eternal recompense come-a despised and offended God, now become an awful and a just judge, seated upon the tribunal of eternal justice, and about to pronounce an irreversible doom, which is to adjudge to endless punishment, while the sinful wretch has nothing to plead but guilty, guilty—and all beyond is the blackness of darkness for ever-this is misery inexpressible, inconceiveable—is misery such as enraged Omnipotence must be supposed to inflict on impious, obstinate presumption ; and now from the comparison, how great the happiness at a dying hour of “ having a con« science void of offence;" how exquisite the misery of being haunted with a guilty one, how vast the difference between the situation of the

real christian and the profane despiser of religion at that trying period.

And now let me conclude this subject with a very short improvement. We have seen that to maintain a conscience void of offence,is to live in the habitual exercise of all the duties which we owe to God as our creator, preseryer, and redeemer, and which we owe to our brethren of mankind, according to the different stations and relations in which we are placed one toward another,-in a word, to live under the vital power of religion-we have seen the happiness of being possessed of a good conscience, and the misery of a contrary state. As we would wish, therefore, to live in peace with ourselves, and with all men, and die in peace with our God, with the wellgrounded hope of future glory and happiness, let it be our chief and only study to secure an interest in his favour and love, by approving of our consciences to him in well doing; " and seeing

we have such a great high priest over the “ houshold of God,” let us have“ our consciences

purged from dead works,” from the lifeless, ineffectual fruits of our own righteousness, which " is but as filthy rags," and let us be cļothed

[ocr errors]


with the righteousness of Christ, which alone is all perfect, and all-sufficient. As we daily conscious of numberless failures and of, fences, for which conscience needs must reprove us, let it be our daily request at the throne of grace, that the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit may purify our hearts by faith in the Redeemer, and may enlighten our minds in the knowledge of God, and of Christ. Amen

[ocr errors]




That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his

grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.



“ angels which left their first estate are “ reserved in chains under darkness to the judg.

ment of the great day ;" but the language of God concerning the guilty race of Adam, who fell from his happy state, and thereby involved himself and his posterity in guilt and misery, was “ deli

ver from going down to the pit, I have found “out a ransom for thee.” Astonishing! angels passed by without so much as the offer of mercy ; men recovered by an act of grace the most un. deserved, the most amazing-here it would seem that the order of things was quite inverted, that this dispensation of God was quite the contrary of what might have been expected, and that for the interests of his glory, the angels

« PreviousContinue »