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praved; of this you have unequivocal evidence from the Bible, the Lord's sure word of testimony; from the history of the world ; from your own observation, and from the faithful dictates of conscience. Without a new heart and a right spirit, therefore, it is plain you are not fit for heaven; and, if not fit for heaven when death lays his cold hand upon you, your souls will be lost forever to God and to happiness. The dissolution of the body is a small matter compared with the death of the soul,-called in scripture, the second death,—that deathless death, that eternal succession of deaths, shall we say, inflicted by the worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched. Now the gospel of the grace of God points you to a refuge; not from death temporal, for that is inevitable, nor is it terrible to the good man, because it is a transition from earth to heaven; but this gospel points you to a refuge from the second death, the death eternal: “ Christ in you, the hope of glory; Christ the way, the truth, and the life; Christ the propitiation for our sins, and the Lord our righteousness.” Have you fled to this refuge? Have you laid hold of this hope set before you? Some of you have, through grace, we cannot doubt. But have you all ? All souls are alike precious, considered as the subjects of eternal weal or wo. If the gospel is to be preached to every creature, should not every creature regard it seriously, and accept the remedy which it offers, against the otherwise fatal malady, sin ? Do you not all expect to die? Indubitably. When? “ Ye know neither the day nor the hour.” Noah lived nine hundred and fifty years, " and he died.” But none of you can expect to live one hundred years; many of you not half that time: but what if you should, by reason of uncommon strength, attain to five score years ? Death would be as awful then, should it find you in your sins, as it would be to-day. Seeing then, there is no discharge in this war, what is your hope for the world to come? Do any of you indulge the comfortless, the debasing belief in annihilation; that the grave is the end of man, soul and body? Annihilation is an atheistical phantasm. There is not a particle of evidence, either in the lively oracles, or in the wide field of nature, that any of God's creatures, whether matter or mind, shall ever be utterly blotted out of being. Is your hope of acceptance with God founded on your good works? What then will you do with your bad works? Or, if you believe the Bible, how do you interpret that passage; " By the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified in his sight?" Are you saying in your heart, with Felix; “Go thy way for this time?" or, with the sluggard, “A little more sleep, a little more slumber; a little more folding of the hands to rest?” Ah! this is the sin that slays its thousands. Many, it is to be feared, permit the pilferer, procrastination, to steal away their time,
day after day, and year after year, till the season of grace expires, and the impassioned exclamation bursts from the bosom of despair, “ The harvest is past, and the summer is ended; and we are not saved !" O let us listen heedfully to the voice of divine mercy, urging us to give all diligence to make our calling and election sure: “Behold, now is the accepted time! Behold now is the day of salvation !"
“There is a time, and justice marks the date,
FOR THE PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE.
BRIEF DISCOURSES.-NO. VII. The Contrast; or, the Righteous and Ungodly delineated. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful: But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season. His leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
“The ungodly are not so; but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
“For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous : But the way of the ungodly shall perish.”—Psalm i.
In this psalm, the contrasted characters of the righteous and the ungodly are intelligently delineated. The former is illustrated by the similitude of verdure and fruitfulness. The latter, under the symbol of unprofitable chaff, is exhibited as possessing neither bloom nor stability.
I. The righteous man, or Christian, is represented as averse to sin and attached to holiness. He is blessed of the Lord; for he “walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Neither the conversation, pursuits, nor honours of the ungodly are to him sources of joy or interest. He has sweeter communion, hallowed employments, sacred pleasures, and he aspires to superior honours." His delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” His understanding is enlightened, and his judgment, taste and volitions are under the influence of divine grace. He perceives beauty and harmony in the lively oracles of God. He finds such excellency in God's word as to engage his devout attention. Whilst he is taught his natural poverty and ignorance, he discovers that the word of God is able to supply all his wants. He has proved the insufficiency of other sources. They do not
present to him what is adapted to satisfy immortal desires. But the word of God opens to his view treasures of wisdom, and it points him to an immortality of rational employments and celestial bliss. It assures him that “godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Does the world frown?—Through the medium of God's word a ray of heavenly hope enkindles joy in his soul. Is he the child of adversity-In his trials he discerns his Father's hand, and, with filial love, returns from his wanderings, and realizes the protection of a Father's arm. Is he prosperous in the world? The benefits of which he is the recipient he considers as covenanted in Christ. He compares his present possessions with the promised inheritance; and, whilst the favours of Heaven excite his gratitude, he contemplates the superior value of incorruptible riches. He reflects that earth is not his permanent rest, and regards the import of the solemn injunction, “ Occupy till I come. Is he the object of Satan's malice?-He finds that the word of God is a weapon of divine temper, and is powerful; nor does he fear, in the cause of Christ, with the sword of the Spirit and invested with the armour of God, to advance even to the ground which the enemy has invaded, and instrumentally rescue captive souls from the dominion of the prince of darkness. The word of God animates the Christian warrior by the assurance of the immediate presence and favour of the Captain of his salvation, in the
person of the Beloved of his soul. Jesus speaks peace to his mind, and sweet serenity pervades his bosom. The word of God is to the Christian a perpetually flowing fountain of sacred delights, to which he continually' resorts for refreshment. It furnishes him with “ acceptable words for the breath of devotion to waft to heaven."
The righteous man is compared to a luxuriantly prolific tree: “ He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” “ There is a river the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God.” That river is the precious word of God. The Christian, to whom the law of God is delight, and who continually meditates therein, will undoubtedly Aourish. “ He bringeth forth fruit in his season.” The sacred scriptures testify of Christ; and he who will search the scriptures, with meekness and docility, must become “wise unto salvation.” He will “grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, whom to know is life eternal.” He will bring forth fruit unto holiness. His practice will comport with his profession.
“ His leaf also shall not wither.” His conversation and conduct will evidently flow from the grace of God in his heart. God's law will be the rule of his life. He will endeavour to honour the cause of Christ by holiness of life; and will strive
to “ have his conversation as becometh the gospel of God.” A sweet savour will characterize his intercourse with men. His words will be well chosen, and his sentiments such as are expressively symbolized by the fadeless leaves of an ever-blooming tree. For “ the words of the pure are pleasant,” and “the words of wise men are gracious.
The same symbol,-a prolific and ever-verdant tree, whose leaves are salutary,-exhibits the Lord Jesus Christ, in the New Jerusalem, as the source of spiritual life and health to all nations. So the practical Christian is as a tree, whose balmy odour and nutritious fruit afford refreshment to the weary, famished sinner, who seeks for spiritual food. Beneath the shade of its foliage, and solaced by its fragrance, the pilgrim's soul is revived. The Christian is unlike the fruitless fig-tree, which, accursed by Christ, soon withered away. The true disciple of Jesus will show his love for his Lord, by his endeavours to bring others to him, that they also may be healed, and partake with him of the grace of life.
“ And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” According as the Christian seeks counsel of God, and acts agreeably to his word, so will he prosper in all his pursuits. This will generally be manifest to others; but if it shall not always be obvious, and though the wicked may appear to prosper in the world, nevertheless, the end will confirm the truth of this position; for “ all things work together for good to them that love God.” The Psalmist was once much troubled in spirit on this subject; but returning to his spiritual exercises, he was taught of God. Through the medium of his devotions he learned the equitable result.
II. Our attention is called to the character, progress, and perdition of the ungodly. The Christian has present substantial enjoyment in the assurance of God's friendship, and, in prospect, a state of unspeakable blessedness. And these are secured to him by the immutability of Jehovah's word. Haying this comfort and this hope established on so firm a foundation, it is his privilege to live as seeing Him who is invisible.” For being dead to sin, “ his life, which is spiritual, is hid with Christ in God; when Christ who is his life shall appear, then shall he also appear with him in glory.” But,
“ The ungodly are not so.” The process of the sinner's becoming a “vessel of wrath fitted to destruction," is given by the Psalmist in his negative description of the righteous. The novitiate in iniquity hears, and, at first, with some degree of timidity, acts agreeably to the counsel of the ungodly. As soon, however, as he is initiated into the way of sinners, he becomes more bold. The restraints of a religious education and filial duty are weakened. He associates with the ungodly in all their wicked devices, until finally he is hardened in transgression,
and is an adept in vice. Serious reflection is excluded from his mind. He is unwilling to retain the knowledge of God; therefore he presumptuously sets at nought the law of the Lord, and scorns the precepts of the Most High. “ He sets his mouth against the heavens, and says in his heart, he would there were no God!”
But in the judgment of God he is condemned: and in the day of righteous retribution, his expectations shall perish, and his hopes, as “chaff upon the mountains," shall be driven away by the tempest of divine wrath. “ Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”
When the Lord Jesus Christ shall come to judge the world, “ the dead both small and great shall stand before him ;" “ then he shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people; gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” The ungodly shall also awake from the sleep of death; but, “ to everlasting shame and contempt.” They shall be reunited with their guilty spirits, and receive from their judge a recompense “ according to the deeds done in the body.” They will be distinguished from those who shall have made the law of God their delight; and although they may have congregated with them in ordinary circumstances on earth, a final separation will then take place; and, with dismay and consternation they will for ever agonize under the pressure of the "wrath which they shall have treasured up against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
This will inevitably be the result, for “on the wicked he will rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; and this shall be the portion of their cup.”
However Christians in this life may be objects of scorn to the ungodly; and however afflicted in their persons, nevertheless their foundation standeth sure.
But though the wicked seem to prosper, all that they here possess, will but increase their future misery, “ For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous ; but the way of the ungodly shall perish!”
Application. The subject is calculated to excite in the Christian's bosom, the most lively hopes, and to enkindle his zeal for the glory of God. It should be to him an incentive to sincerity and diligence in every evangelical privilege and exercise. For saith Christ “ herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” It should prompt the disciple of Jesus to the constant search of the sacred scriptures, with respect for the apostolic injunction, “ as new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”
It ought also to alarm unconverted sinners. It presents to those who possess nothing but what is termed negative good