« PoprzedniaDalej »
as it did among the antediluvians, till the flood came, and, among the inhabitants of Sodom, till the fire came down from heaven to consume them.]
This melancholy prospect renders it necessary for me to point out,
II. The danger of that state
We have before observed, that the text primarily refers to the coming of Christ to destroy Jerusalem, but has a further reference also to his coming to judge the world. Agreeably to this view of it, shall be our consideration of the danger that attends the state therein described.
Consider then its danger,
1. To the nation
[There is a time when Christ comes to punish nations, just as he did to punish Jerusalem. And how shall we judge of the time that he will come? I answer, then is he most likely to come, when a nation is in the state before described. That he is visiting the nations now, is a fact so clear, that no thoughtful man can entertain a doubt of it. Hitherto the showers of his wrath, which have deluged other lands, have but just sprinkled ours: but the clouds are black, and gathering thick around us and the darkest symptom is, that, "though his hand is lifted up, we will not see it." Consult the Scriptures, and see whether this security be not the surest forerunner of his judgments? See what was the state of Jerusalem previous to the Babylonish captivity, and say whether, whilst our state so precisely accords with it, we have not reason to tremble at the prospect of her judgments? or let the predicted fall of the mystical Babylon be taken as a ground of your decision. The truth is, that, amidst all the advantages which we possess for superior piety, we take the lead in an idolatrous attachment to wealth and pleasure, and in a presumptuous confidence in an arm of flesh we may well therefore expect, that the cup which others have drunk of, shall be put into our hands; and that our superior guilt will issue in more aggravated calamities.] 2. To individuals
[The Lord Jesus may not in any signal manner visit men in this life; but he will infallibly call them to judgment in the world to come. For this end he will come to them, as soon as
a Isai. xlvii. 8-11.
c Jer. xxv. 15, 28, 29.
b Rev. xviii. 7, 8.
d Amos vi. 3-6. and Isai. xxii. 12-14.
they shall have filled up the measure of their iniquities; and the same criterion which we have used in estimating the ripeness of nations for judgment, will serve us to judge of the state of individuals. God has told us, that "as fishes are taken in an evil net, and as birds are caught in a snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them." Moreover, to impress this the more strongly on our minds, he has represented a man, who, having succeeded in his temporal pursuits, congratulates himself on the prospect of many years of pleasurable enjoyment: and then he addresses that man in terms suited to the occasion; "Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of theef." Here then we see a lively example of the state which is described in our text, and of the visit which the sinner receives from his offended Lord. May this awful representation never be realized in us! But let us tremble lest it should: for we are taught to expect, that 66 Our Lord will come in a time that we look not for him, and at an hour that we are not aware:" nay more, we are assured, that, when we begin to say, "I shall have peace though I walk in the imagination of my heart, then will God's anger and jealousy smoke against us, and he will blot out our name from under heaven h."]
3. To the world at large
[The precise season of the general judgment is not known to men or angels; nor was Christ himself, as man, informed of it, at least not so informed as to have it within his commission to declare it. But we have already seen in what state the world will be at its arrival. They will be expecting the period as little as we at present are. They will have been warned respecting it by the faithful ministers of Christ; but they will not regard the admonitions that are given them: they will rather scoff, as the antediluvians and the inhabitants of Sodom did, "Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. But, in the midst of all their occupations, enjoyments, projects, the trumpet shall sound, and the Judge appear in his glory. This will take place "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eyek." "As the lightning that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven shineth unto the other part under heaven, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." Alas! in what a condition will millions of the human race be found! some in the commission of the grossest crimes; some ridiculing the supposed weakness of their faithful
monitors; and the more innocent among them occupied in nothing better than "eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage." How terrible to be called to judgment in a state so unprepared! Will the suddenness of the event be any excuse for them in that day? or will it be any reason for averting or mitigating their punishment? No: it will be with them as with those mentioned in our text: "As soon as Noah entered into the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all;" and, as soon as Lot went out of Sodom, the fire and brimstone descended and consumed them all:" so will all, that are unprepared to meet their God, be utterly and eternally destroyed. Hence the day of judgment is called, "the day of the perdition of ungodly menm." As long as we are in this world, it is "a day of acceptance, a day of salvation"." Yes, even to the eleventh hour we are warranted to invite men to return to God, and to assure them of a favourable reception: but when death or judgment arrive, there is an end of the day of grace, and then commences the day of everlasting perdition.]
1. The congregation in general—
[We would entreat every one of you to inquire, whether you are prepared to meet your God? This is no trifling question, no enthusiastic question, no party question; it is a question in which all are equally interested, the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned. And we beg leave to remind you all, that an inoffensive conduct is not sufficient to secure happiness for you in the last day. You will observe, that no gross sin is imputed to the antediluvian world, or to the inhabitants of Sodom; many of them doubtless were guilty of heinous transgressions: but the universal sin, the sin that destroyed them all, was carelessness. Say then, brethren, whether this do not characterize your state? and whether you have not reason to tremble for the judgments that shall come upon you? You are apt to promise yourselves a more convenient season for turning to God: but how many are disappointed in that hope! Suppose that, at the deluge, there were some so far wrought upon by the ministry of Noah, that they determined to follow his advice as soon as they should have finished their present business, and got more time for spiritual employments: suppose them surprised by the flood, witnessing the destruction of thousands around them, and, from an eminence to which they had fled, seeing the ark borne up by the waves in which they were shortly to be immersed; how would they wish that they had n 2 Cor. vi. 2.
m 2 Pet. ii. 7. The Greek.
improved the day of their visitation, and fled to the ark for refuge! Thus pungent, thus fruitless, will be the remorse of millions in the day of judgment. But, blessed be God! the ark is not yet closed: it is open for all who will flee unto it: the Lord Jesus Christ never did, nor ever will, close the door against a repenting sinner: he came to seek and to save the lost; yea, he shed his blood upon the cross to save them. To every one of you then would we say, "Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut the door about thee, and hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast "." But, if you will not hear, know of a certainty, that " judgment lingereth not, and your damnation slumbereth not":" for, "if God spared not the angels that sinned. . . nor the old world... nor Sodom; but saved Noah . . . and delivered Lot, he knows at this time how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished"."]
2. Those amongst you who make a profession of vital godliness
[This subject may appear to some of you to be calculated to awaken sinners, but not very well suited to the edification of saints. This conceit appears to have entered into the mind of Christ's Disciples; and to have been justly reproved by him: for, who is he that needs not such an admonition? We grant, that here are no new truths brought to our view: " you know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night;" and that when men shall say, ' Peace and safety,' then destruction shall come upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day we are not of the night nor of darkness." But is this subject therefore uninstructive to you? Hear how the Apostle continues his address to the very persons whom he has thus described: "Therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober let us who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love, and, for an helmet, the hope of salvation." Hear also how another Apostle addresses the whole Christian Church: "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night... Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness; looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God?... Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found
o Isai. xxvi. 20.
r Matt. xxiv. 44-46.
p 2 Pet. ii. 3.
s 1 Thess. v. 2-5.
q 2 Pet. ii. 4-9. t 1 Thess. v. 6-8.
of him in peace, without spot and blameless "." As we said to others, that an inoffensive conduct will not suffice; so we must say to you, that a religious profession will not suffice. You know full well in what a state men ought to die; (how penitent, how believing, how devout in their minds, how subdued in their tempers, how superior to the world, how intent on heavenly things:) this then is the state in which you ought to live: that, when Jesus shall say to you, "Surely I come quickly;"_you may be ready at all times to answer, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."]
u 2 Pet. iii. 10-14.
x Rev. xxii. 20.
Luke xvii. 32. Remember Lot's wife.
IT is necessary for mariners frequently to consult charts or maps, which have been formed for the purpose of pointing out to them the different bearings of different countries, and of guarding them against latent obstacles which would endanger the safety of their ship. But notwithstanding the utmost care that has been taken to ascertain the situation of rocks and shoals, it often happens that ships are wrecked, where no caution has been given in the most approved charts, and where no danger was apprehended. This however cannot happen to persons sailing for the port of heaven. There is not a rock or shoal that is not plainly laid down in the inspired volume; nor is there any fear of shipwreck to those who will follow the course which is there prescribed. That multitudes do perish, notwithstanding they have that volume before them, is certain. Many who have for a long time enjoyed, like Demas, a prosperous voyage, have yet, through their inattention to the cautions given them, struck upon the rocks of worldliness, and come short of the desired harbour. But the fault is in themselves only; they have been guarded in a peculiar manner against the danger to which they were exposed: it had been said to them, and it is said to us also, "Remember Lot's wife." But let us inquire,