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is, in the future world, a place of punishment for impenitent sinners; but also, that while they continue impenitent, they are attempering and preparing themselves for that place.
One objection, which unbelievers make against the gospel is, its denouncing punishment against the workers of iniquity. But how unreasonable is this objection? Their exposedness to punishment arises not from the gospel; but from the essential constitution of God's government. Misery is as much the natural fruit of their wickedness, as what they reap in their fields is the natural fruit of what they sowed. If God disposes all things to their proper ends, the wicked must be doomed to the day of evil.
How deplorable is the condition, and how odious the character of every bold and hardened transgressor-alienated from God and goodness-base in his mind and manners-an enemy to his own happiness-treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.
For whom is the infernal lake prepared and its flames kindled? Not only for the devil and his angels, but also for all those who walk according to the course of this wicked world, and yield to the influence of those infernal spirits, who work on earth in the children of disobedience.
With what gratitude should our hearts be filled, that Jesus, the son of God, has appeared to deliver us from the wrath to come? There is salvation in no other. We have redemption through his blood. If we despise this redemption, there is no other sacrifice for sin; but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation. Wrath awaits every impenitent transgressor. But on them, who not only transgress God's law, but trample on the blood of his Son, wrath will come to the uttermost. Let us flee from this wrath by repentance, and by faith lay hold on the hope set before
It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Let us embrace the doctrine with all thankfulness, and beware lest we fall under the condemnation of those, who, when light has come into the world, choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.
Logical in in thaight,
THE MADNESS AND FATE OF IMPENITENT SINNERS.
ECCLESIASTES Ix. 3.
Yea also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil; and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
Ir is reason which chiefly distinguishes man from the animal tribes. In his senses and appetites he agrees with them; and he might justly be ranked among them, had not the Creator given him this single pre-eminence.
There is such a case as a man dispossessed of reason; and this we always consider as a very unhappy and affecting case. Nothing shocks the mind more, than to see one of our own species-one closely allied to us by nature-one of the same original and of the same form, wholly divested of understanding, sunk to a level with brutes, and rendered incapable of knowing God, doing good to men, or providing for himself.
But why is such a spectacle affecting, rather than a brute ? It is because there is something unnatural in it. The brute was made to be what he is: man was made for a rational conduct. And that which shocks us in the madman is his unnatural degradation from the dignity of the species to which he belongs.
But affecting as this spectacle is, there is one, which, justly viewed and considered, is far more so; and that is, a man who possesses the faculty of reason, but never applies it to the great end for which the Creator gave it. Here is a contempt, not a loss of reason—here is a voluntary, not mechanical insanity— here is a corruption of heart, not a disorder of brain-here is a madness which involves guilt, not one which exempts from blame. It is more affecting to see an instance of self-murder, than of common murder; because the man who does violence to himself, acts more unnaturally, than he who does violence to another. For the same reason, he who perverts or neglects his own faculties, is a more despicable and miserable creature, than he who is providentially deprived of them. The latter is mad, because he cannot but be so the former is mad, because he will be so.
But can we find any instances of this species of madness? Certainly we may. Every sinner is an instance. "Madness is in his heart." Solomon speaks, as if such cases were numerous in his day. "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil.” Nor is the world so much mended, but that the observation remains just in our day.
By custom and use we become in a manner reconciled to almost any objects, however disagreeable they may be in themselves. This is one reason, why we are more affected with the sight of a madman, than with the sight of a wicked man. If the latter was as rare a sight as the former, why would it not be as shocking? The sinner is as truly a madman, as he who is deprived of reason; only his madness is of a different kind, takes a different turn, and operates in a different manner. "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil; madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead."
There are two things to which the text calls our attention; the first is, the character which is given of the sinner; and the other is, the end which he makes.
I. We will consider the character, which Solomon here gives of a wicked man. "Madness is in his heart." Our Saviour, speaking of a returning prodigal, says, "He came to himself." The phrase imports, that he had been beside himself. In the
writings of Solomon a fool is the common appellation of a sinner; and it is as just, as it is common, for no man acts more inconsist→ ently with reason. In relation to the affairs of this world he may act wisely. The children of this world, in their generation, are often wiser than the children of light. But in relation to the concerns of eternity no madman acts more wildly and unreasonably than he does.
1. The sinner is one who pays no just regard to his real interest, but is entirely occupied and pleased with trifles and vanities— things of little or no importance.
If you should see a man wholly inattentive to all the interests and concerns of life, negligent of his person, substance and friends; employing all his time, from day to day, in the little sports and amusements of children, gathering pebbles, chasing butterflies, and riding a hobby-horse, you certainly would think him unsound in his intellect. But what is the sinner better? Trifles alone please him: important matters are disregarded. Honors, riches, pleasures are the highest objects of his pursuit; and disappointment in this pursuit is the evil which he principally dreads. Heaven and hell-the happiness and the misery of the eternal world, and the means of securing the former and avoiding the latter, scarcely come into consideration, and are never applied in earnest.
But are not the good things of this world worthy of our regard? Doubtless they are. A sober, discreet attention to them, far from being a vice, is plainly a virtue. But in comparison with the vast objects which religion proposes to us, the other are but trifles. He who prefers the interests of the world to the riches of eternity, gives as evident proofs of a perverted judgment, and an unsound mind, as he who prefers pebbles to pearls; for the real disproportion is infinitely greater.
What is that which the sinner pursues? It is that which he is not sure of obtaining; which, if he obtains it, he cannot enjoysurely not the whole, if any part of it; and which, if he enjoys it for the present, he cannot keep long; but may lose it at any time, and certainly must lose it, or leave it soon. And what is that which he foregoes? It is real happiness-the happiness of the rational mind-a happiness large as his capacity, and lasting as his
existence a happiness, which accidents will not destroy, nor time impair. And say; is it not madness in the extreme to forego such an interest as this, for the sake of the former? To exchange the sublime joys of eternity, for the dull delights of a moment? The rational pleasures of the soul for the sordid indulgences of sense? The glories of heaven for the vanities of the world? The applause of angels and the approbation of God for the favor of mortals and for the laughter of fools? Surely no madman can act more wildly, or choose more absurdly.
2. The habitual sinner is pursuing his own destruction.
“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself," says God to his sinful people.
If a man run into fire, or water, or leap from a precipice with his eyes open, or drink poison knowing it to be such, we judge him beside himself. But is there not an infatuation equal to this in the conduct of every vicious man? He runs into the way, which leads down to the chambers of death; and no cautions, warnings, or counsels restrain him. Hence he is said to love death.
Sin tends to the destruction of the natural life. It inflames the passions, impairs the health, exposes to casualties, and often takes away the power of self-preservation. This is eminently true of the vices of sensuality and intemperance.
Sin destroys the comfort and pleasure of life. It wounds the conscience with guilt and remorse; breeds irregularity and confusion in the powers of the soul, kindles up violent and painful passions, disturbs social order, interrupts family peace, embitters domestic relations, and excludes self-enjoyment.
The final issue of sin is death in a more eminent sense-a sep❤ aration from all good to the greatest evil-and from all hope to eternal despair. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
Now if a man pursues a course, which tends to the destruction of his body, to the vexation of his mind, and to the everlasting misery of his soul, is he not destroying himself? This is the tendency of sin. He who pursueth evil, pursueth it to his death. And can he say, he does this ignorantly? No: his own conscience remonstrates against his course, and warns him to forsake it.