Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

let me beg your attention for a little, till I have set before you the folly and bafeness of such conduct, and the fatal consequences with which it must necessarily be attended. Consider, then,

Is, That to grow bolder in sin, because you are not speedily punished, is moft foolish: for unless

you

have assurance of a full indemnity, and that sentence against your evil works shall never be executed, your conduct is obviously absurd and irrational. You have long escaped through the patience and forbearance of God: but if you have the remotest suspicion that judgement may one day overtake you; nay, if you are not absolutely certain, that it never thall; upon what principle of sound reason can you be easy for one moment? You do not know, but that already you have committed the last act of wickedness that God is to tolerate, and that the next transgresfion will bring down the fatal stroke, and plunge you into remediless ruin. You live by a mere act of grace ; your fate depends upon a reprieve, which the Sovereign may protract or thorten at his pleasure ; and

how

how mad is it" to presume upon so precaris ous a tenure? Or if

Or if you have conceived any hope of efcape, allow me to ask

you, upon what ground is your hope built? It would need to be a strong foundation indeed, that is to carry all the weight you are disposed to lay upon it.-Have you any promise or declaration on the part of God, or any dictate of unprejudiced reason, that saith you shall be safe? Produce your security that we may know it. If

you

have nothing more to fay, than that you hope to escape, because you wish it, alas ! this is nothing to the purpose : for we read of fome fools who say or wish in their heart, there were no God; and yet a God there is, who will prove a consuming fire to them. You dare not say, that sin never was punished; for all history, both facred and profane, would contradict you; and it were easy to quote many examples of finners who have escaped as long, perhaps longer, than you, and yet have been punished at last : so that, unless you have something altogether peculiar to yourselves, fome special indulgence which the world hath never yet heard of,

your

your conduct betrays the height of madness, a degree of phrenzy, which no term of reproach can fully express.

2dly, It is no less base than foolish. Ingratitude is universally condemned, and branded with infamy. We reckon it the mark of a base dilingenuous fpirit, to forget favours received, or even to neglect making a proper return, when the obliged party hath it in his power to do it: but if one shall injure his benefactor, and render evil for good, such a person must become an object of universal contempt and detesta, tion, and none will be found so hardy as to plead in his defence. And yet the abuse of divine patience, to which my text refers, is a species of baseness that exceeds ingratitude; and indeed no word is to be found in any language I know, that is of fufficient force to express its malignity, or to convey an adequate idea of its abominable

No man ever injured his benefactor because he was his benefactor : interfering interests, or selfish views, may cause unequal returns for benefits conferred ; but in the case before us, there is something

entirely

nature.

entirely different from this.

Sinners not only injure, or rather attempt to injure, their greatest benefactor, the God in whom they live and move, by whose power and goodness they are supported every moment; but his goodness to them in times past, and the hope of its continuance, are the very things that embolden them to offend him; and “ because sentence against " their evil works is not speedily executed,

therefore their heart is fully set in them to do evil.”--Devils may be capable of this, but guilty of it they are not ; their forlorn condition hath put it beyond their reach; the immediate execution of the doom they had incurred, afforded them no opportunity of trampling upon the mercy of God: so that, with regard to the act of fin, we plainly exceed them in this respect. O that men could be brought to view their conduct in its true light, I am sure they would loach and abhor themselves on account of it. To burden God's patience because it is great ; to load hiin with insults, because, out of pity to us, he is flow in refenting them ; to harden our hearts by that

very

1

very mercy which should diffolve and soft. en them; this is worse than devilish; there is something in this so perverse, lo monstrous, so unnatural, that one would be tempted to suspect, that some malicious flanderer of human nature had forged the accusation, were we not all conscious of the truth of it, and more or less convicted, of this horrid baseness by the testimony of our own consciences. These considerations, methinks, should be sufficient to deter us from burdening the patience of God any more. But I have further to add, in the

3d place, That the consequences of this abuse shall, in the issue, be most fatal to the finner himself. You cannot defeat the purposes of God, nor impair his glory in any degree; the

weapons of

your

rebel. lion must recoil upon yourselves ; for God will be magnified in them that perish, as well as admired in those who are saved. As the justice of his nature renders his mercy more wonderful, fo mercy abused will make justice to shine forth with greater splendour. Sinners must stand speechless before the judgement-feat, and shall find

nothing

1

« IndietroContinua »