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The Subject farther improved, by Way of Conviction.
F the favour of God be the life of his children,
they must be in an unhappy condition who have no reason to believe themselves in a state of acceptance with him. To live and die under the displeasure of the Most High, is miserable indeed. It had been better for such, as our Lord said concerning Judas, if they had never been born. O sinners, how can you live, how dare you die in Tuch a state? If the great Judge of the world disown you at last, who do you think will take pity on you ? By what strange expedient do you fortify your minds against the terrors of that awful day? Can you eat, drink, sleep, and pursue your diversions, while you are yet in a state of enmity with God?
Perhaps you mind not these things, but put off all thought of the affairs of your souls, and of what will become of you hereafter. This is astonishing indeed, since you are not assured of one hour's longer continuance in this world. But what will you do in the day of visitation, when the king of terrors makes his approach? Can you hope for an exemp. Lion from the awful stroke of his killing hand? Or
D464 can you expect a reprieve when he is commissioned to make you his prey ? You surely cannot suppose that you shall die like a brute, and know neither happiness nor misery when life is gone. You cannot be so foolish as to imagine, that if there be a state of future happiness, you can enter into it without reconciliation with God. You cannot think of possessing it in a way directly contrary to his word and will. Life is in God's favour. I may say to him who is the enemy of the Almighty, as it was said to Abimelech, “ Thou art but a dead man."
If you are in this state you have no fpiritual life, but are dead in trespasses and sins. Though you have a name to live, you are still dead. A dead carcase may be dressed and adorned in a splendid manner, but its ornaments will not give it life. He who is not in a state of friendship with God, whatever gifts or talents he may possess, or whatever duties he may perform, is still in a state of death.
He is likewise under the sentence of condemna. tion. The law passes this sentence upon him; the word of God declares him to be condemned already. By sin he has forfeited all right even to the comforts of this life, though it pleases the Fa. ther of mercies to bestow them upon him, yet he is but in the state of the condemned. There is no
-> todo inoment of his life in which he is not liable to the execution of that awful sentence which the law passes upon him. His life hangs in doubt, and depends on the mercy of his offended Judge. The almighty Sovereign has declared, that the workers of iniquity shall be cut off, that he is angry with the wicked every day; if they turn not he will whet his sword, he hath bent his bow and made it ready ; he hath prepared for them the instruments of death.
How then, O sinner, can you be thoughtless and secure, how can you reft quietly under the weight of all your crimes, and in so much danger ? You know not that you shall live another day, another hour. Death may meet you at your board, in your bed, in the field, or on the high way, and at once remove you from this world to another. You may be of the number of those who perish at the rebuke of his countenance. When he sends the ghaftly messenger to summon you away, you cannot evade the call.
But what is still more awful, if you die in a state of impenitence, you will immediately enter on the bitter pangs of eternal death. O consider what it will be to have your souls everlastingly banished from the favourable presence of God, and shut up in darkness and perpetual despair. Can you read such awakening declarations as the following, with
out trembling? “He shall take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Chrift: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power !" Though you can now live contented without the enjoyment of God's favour, your eyes will then be opened to see the infinite value of it.
The withdrawings of the light of God's countenance for a time, have filled holy fouls in this world with deep distress and sorrow. What then will it be to lie exposed to his awful indignation for ever ? Your vain and delusive hopes, O sinners, will then exist no more, the self-flattering delusion will be at an end. Your sensual delights will be over; in the room of them, there will be weeping and wail. ing and gnashing of teeth, drinking of the wine of the wrath of God, poured out without mixture. O dreadful state of hopeless misery, where their worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched!
Think, O sinners, on the dangerous condition of your poor souls, while there is yet hope of fleeing froin the wrath to come. There is but a step between you and death, between you and that ever. lasting punishment prepared for the devil and his angels. Your breath is in your nostrils, when that departs, your everlasting state is unalterably fixed.
Your . ** * Your hearts, I fear, are hardened through the de ceitfulness of sin, so that the threatenings of God, your Maker, and your Judge, make no impressions on them. Is not this a fad indication that you are ripening for ruin? You are sleeping on the bed of carnal security, yet your judgment lingereth not.
- Think on the miserable condition of those unhappy men, who were once as careless and as unconcerned as you can be, but are now lifting up their eyes in hell, being in torments, and crying in vain for a drop of water to cool their tongues. They are execrating those days of vanity, when they lived in this world as you do now. They are call: ing themselves a thousand fools, for that stupidity, that forgetfulness of God, that disregard of the threatenings of his wrath, and of the promises of his mercy, of which you are now living examples.
And ancient writer used to say, “ I would not for all the world be in the state of an unconverted man for one hour, left, in that hour, death should cut me off, and the dungeon of eternal darkness receive me.” What shall I say to you, O poor unconcerned sinners, to rouse you from your fatal security? Who can dwell with devouring fire! Who can dwell with everlasting burnings ! Will you not begin seriously to inquire how you shall escape that dreadful and never-ending punishment,