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majority : far the greater part who have come down to the bed of death have given the most melancholy evidence that they were unprepared to die. Do you not perceive then that the analogy against your being converted is just so much stronger than it is in favor of it, as the proportion of those who are not converted is greater than of those who are ? Is not the conclusion equally irresistible and overwhelming ?

I here close my argument. And now I appeal to you whether I have not dealt fairly and honestly with your understandings ; whether the doctrine which I proposed to establish, startling as it might at first have seemed, or as it may still seem to you, is not sustained by considerations which it is impossible to gainsay? If, then, you can discover no flaw in the reasoning by which we have been brought to the fearful conclusion that the fact of your being unconverted now, renders it probable that you will always remain so, and will finally have your portion in everlasting burnings, I entreat you as wise men to hold this conclusion to your minds ; to look your own condition full in the face; and not, as you have done a thousand times before, to turn away from it because it is alarming. Rely on it, when you have been calculating on a future conversion, your depraved feelings have got the better of your understanding ; sober reason, as I trust you are now satisfied, conducts to a directly opposite conclusion. I ask again, will you not hold this conclusion to your minds ? Will you not let it mingle itself with your thoughts after you have retired from this house, and in coming days and weeks ? Will you not suffer it to have its legitimate influence on your conduct ?

But methinks I hear some one say, “that would be a discouraging influence. If the fact be really so that there is a probability that I shall perish, then it were useless to attempt any exertion : I will fold my arms, and sit down, and submit to my fate as quietly as I can.” But my friend, you are taking counsel here of the depravity of your heart, and not of reason or common sense. You do not act thus in your worldly concerns, and you

would

say

of the man who should act thus that he was at least on the verge of insanity. Suppose you were to hear that a large estate of yours was in danger of being lost, and that the chances were even much in favor of its being lost, but that still by timely efforts you might possibly secure it-would this intelligence lead you instantly to abandon all concern for it, or would it not rather rouse you to the most diligent exertion to prevent its passing out of your hands? Or suppose you were to learn that your child at a distance was dangerously ill, and that for want of some medicine which you had in your possession he would probably die, and that with your utmost diligence there was only a chance of your reaching him before the fatal crisis, would this discourage you from all effort, or would it cause you to speed your way towards the beloved object, that if possible you might reach him seasonably to save his life, and if not, that you might have the satisfaction to reflect that you had done all that was in your power ? And wherefore should you adopt a different course in respect to the salvation of your soul ? Why should you act with earnestness on a small degree of probability where some temporal good only is to be secured, or some temporal evil averted, and build an argument on the same degree of probability for the utter neglect of your soul's salvation? If your case were absolutely hopeless, why then indeed there would be nothing to be done, and there would be no motive to attempt any thing; but so long as there were even a ray of hope, you would stand convicted of madness in not waking to effort; for the loss on the one hand, and the gain on the other, defy all the powers of human calculation.

There is another thing here to be considered: it is that notwithstanding the chances according to all the rules of legitimate calculation are against any individual sinner being converted, yet we do know that many will be converted, though we cannot designate them; and here is a ground for encouragement. Let it be remembered also that notwithstanding the truth of our doctrine, yet the reason why it is true, is not that men are doomed to perdition by an arbitrary decree that has no respect to their own character; (that were a perversion of the true doctrine of providence ;) but because they choose death, or the course which leads to death, rather than life, when life and death are both set before them. The probability, then, that you will perish, results not from the fact that you cannot be saved, but that you will not be saved ; that

you will continue till you die to reject the offers of eternal life. And now, beloved hearers, if I do not mistake, the subject on which we have been meditating, has, as it respects some of you, raised a conflict between your judgment and conscience on the one hand, and your

inclinations on the other. On the one hand, you cannot resist the conviction that these things are so ; that the probability is decidedly in favor of your being doomed to an eternal communion with the wailings of the lost ; and reason tells you that this is an appalling consideration. On the other hand, you shrink from the effort necessary to escape this tremendous doom,—and there is the plea of business, and the plea of pleasure, and the plea of carnal apathy, all united in favor of some future more convenient season. In this conflict shall reason or feeling be triumphant? In respect to most of you I have reason to fear that it will be the latter; and to every such case I may appeal for a further confirmation of the truth of what you have heard. Such a course will prove

that

you can still hold out against warnings and expostulations ; that you can practically determine, even after this subject has been brought distinctly before you, that you will still stifle conscience and insult Jehovah. In short, it will be an important item in that evidence which proves that you are probably to suffer for

We shall expect to hear of you again, not indeed perhaps plunging into gross excess, but losing yourself in the haunts of thoughtlessness or in the whirl of business, apparently and really unmindful that you are in the least jeopardy. But there are those among us who will look upon you with an eye of compassion ; who will wish we could lay hold of you and save you from perdition ; who, when we think of you with respect and kindness, will feel our kearts throb and sink at the reflection that you are probably to have your portion among the lost. I have said, you may refuse to look at this subject now, but the day is coming when it will urge itself upon you, and you will not be able to turn away from it. When sickness shall have taken you out of the ranks of pleasure and business, when death with its clustering horrors shall look you in the face, and show you his mandate, and point you to the door of the pit; and one step farther onward--when the everlasting abyss opens beneath the eye, and the sound of wailing ascends from it, and the storm and the lightning of God's wrath are blazing and raging over it,---Oh tell me, how will the subject of this discourse appear to you then!

ever.

SERMON CIII.

BY WILLIAM B. SPRAGUE, D. D.

THE WICKED SURPRISED BY THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION.

LAMENTATIONS, 1. 9.She remembereth not her last end : therefore she

came down wonderfully.

The occasion of the writing of this book was the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldean army, and the consequent dissolution of the Jewish state. In this first chapter, the prophet bewails the miseries which had come upon his much-loved city ; contrasting her deplorable condition with her former state of prosperity and magnificence. And in the verse which contains our text, he speaks of the fearfulness of her ruin, and charges it upon her own guilty inconsideration. “ She remembereth not her last end ; therefore SHE CAME DOWN WONDERFULLY."

The tremendous calamities that now came upon the Jewish nation, seem to have been an occasion not only of great distress, but of great surprise. Jerusalem came down wonderfully, inasmuch as she came down at a time when she did not expect it, in a manner which she did not expect, and to a doom which she did not expect. From having been the joy of the whole earth, she became a field of utter desolation.

There are certain great principles in the divine administration, the operation of which gives a degree of uniformity to the divine proceedings. For instance, it is the manner of our God to visit with signal destruction those who have proudly set at naught his authority in a course of prosperous wickedness. Such was his treatment of Jerusalem. From the haughty elevation to which she had risen, she was suddenly brought down into the dust : her pomp, and her glory, and the noise of her viols, all departed. So it has been with individ

A MATTER OF AWFUL SURPRISE.

uals. Witness the case of Nebuchadnezzar, and of Herod, and a mukitude of others. Destruction came upon them, not only in a terrible form, but at an hour when they did not expect it; and it was the more awful because it came as a surprise. And let me say, the same thing will hold true, in a greater or less degree, of all sinners, as it respects their final doom; while it will be especially true of those who have sinned against great light, and with a high hand.

The precise point, then, which I propose to illustrate in this discourse is, that THE DESTRUCTION WHICH WILL OVERTAKE SINNERS AT LAST, WILL BE TO THEM

It will be at once unexpectedly dreadful, and dreadfully unexpected.

1. This will appear, in the first place, from the fact that God's wrath against the wicked is constantly accumulating. If God's word be true, one sin exposes the soul to eternal perdition. We shall not stop here to vindicate God's justice in this constitution of things, for that were unnecessary, inasmuch as he himself hath said, “ the soul that sinneth”-not that sinneth a thousand times_not that sinneth through a whole life, but that sinneth, shall die;" and it is enough for us to know that such a declaration never could have gone out of the mouth of the Lord, unless it had been just. If, then, a single violation of God's law exposes the sinner to an eternal punishment, tell me what must be the effect of a state of impenitence continued during a whole life? If the first sin you ever committed provoked God, do you think that the second provoked him less; and that as he saw you become accustomed to sin, he came to think as little of it as yourself, and has not even charged your sins against you? Do you not remember that the Bible speaks of the sinner treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath? And can you reflect a moment without perceiving that reason and conscience both decide that it must be so ? Το

suppose that it were otherwise, would be to annihilate God's moral government, and to trample the Divine character in the dust.

Now, sinner, take God's law for your standard, and enter into your secret chamber and commune with yourself; and see to what conclusion you come in respect to the number and the aggravation of your sins. Perhaps you are appalled at the undertaking, and are ready to shrink from it on the ground that most of your sins, especially your sins of heart, have escaped your remembrance. Take then a single week; or if you please, bring it down even to a single day, and see how many sins of omission and of commission, of heart and of life, rise up

you. Where has been your love to God? Where your faith in Christ? Where your gratitude for mercies received? Where your penitence for past offences? Where your earnest and importunate prayers ? Where your faithful efforts to advance the spiritual interests of your fellowmen? On the other hand, have you not excluded God from your thoughts ? Have you not refused to listen to the calls which he has sent you in his word and in his providence to attend to the things of your peace? Have you not even resisted the strivings of his Spirit, and driven away serious impressions

before

by rushing into the cares of the world, or into scenes of gaiety, when, if

you had cherished them as you ought, you might have been brought into the kingdom? I do not pretend to say that it is possible that you can, by any effort of mind, recall all your transgressionsthat I know were impossible; but of this you may be certain,—that the more you think of your sins, the more sins you will find to think of; it will be a field on which you will never lack for something new ; for all the conduct of your life and all the operations of your heart will bring up to your view something omitted which you ought to have done, and something done which you ought to have omitted.

Bear in mind now that the progress of God's wrath has exactly corresponded with the progress of your guilt. He has been no idle spectator of any thing that you have been doing or leaving undone. If, then, the first sin which you committed was enough to ensure to you eternal perdition, to what an aggravated perdition must you be doomed for a whole life of transgression ; transgression, too, persevered in amidst even the tender expostulations of dying love? If God's wrath against the sinner has been accumulating during all this time, Oh, who can estimate its fearful amount?

Now when all this comes to strike upon the sinner, may it not be justly said that he has come down wonderfully ?" It is most likely that his thoughts concerning it have hitherto been few; but even if he has dwelt upon it frequently, and has exerted his imagination to the utmost to conceive what the final condition of the lost must be, his strongest conceptions have fallen infinitely short of what he finds to be the reality. His sins have been accumulating faster than he had ever conceived, and by means upon which he had never spent a thought. And God's wrath has been accumulating just as fast. Oh, must he not sink under it, when the whole catalogue of his sins are spread before him, and the whole amount of wrath comes down upon him?

2. The destruction which will come upon sinners will be to them a matter of fearful surprise, inasmuch as in the present life God's wruth, for the most part, seems to slumber ; at least, they receive no direct expressions of it. It is true, indeed, that God is giving them warnings enough both in his word and providence; and if they did not close their ears against them, they could not fail to be alarmed; and they will never be able in the day of their calamity to charge God with having concealed from them their danger. Nevertheless, he treats them here as probationers for eternity; he sets life and death before them ; but he does not unsheath his sword, and point it visibly at the sinner's heart. The sinner reads perhaps of the awful terrors of God's wrath, but he does not now experience them. He does not find that the elements are armed for his destruction. The thundercloud rises, and rolls, and looks terrific, as if it were borne along by an avenging hand; but the lightning that blazes from it passes him by unhurt. Pestilence comes; and if he sees it cut down the sinner, he sees it cut down the saint also; or perhaps the saint dies, and the sinner lives. He sleeps quietly upon his bed: no invisible being whispers in his ear any thing in respect to the wrath to come ; and he dreams perhaps of beauty, and

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