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It is, I admit, a distressing, an overwhelming reflection; but the Scriptures distinctly present it before us, and represent the doom of the wicked by the most appalling imagery. They are consigned to a fiery lake, prepared, originally, for the devil and his angels. They are cast into outer darkness, tormented in flames, without the possibility of obtaining the least mitigation of their sufferings; which extort from them incessant weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; while the worm that never dies ceases not its gnawings within! Now this is no fanatic vision, it is no superstitious raving. It is a sober delineation of awful truth, made by the God of truth and love,-if haply we may be roused by it to adequate effort for effecting a timely escape! Read, then, this fearful delineation; ponder it well, and flee-Oh, flee from the wrath to come, while yet you may! Wrath-how intolerable! To be cast where all that is loathsome and repulsive in character shall surround you; where fierce passions shall rage in a continual tempest within; where the hand of the Almighty shall kindle fiery torments within you; where your breath shall be blasphemy, your drink tears, your only music groans and lamentations! Shall any of us sink under this tremendous curse? God, in mercy, forbid it!-Gather, Oh, gather not my soul with sinners! be the earnest cry of each of us!
4. To aggravate the curse, memory will still live, and conscience never fail to perform her dread office. We are, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made; and not more so in our corporeal frame, than in our intellectual and moral conformation. How important, for instance, is the single faculty of memory. Without it, accountability were out of the question, punishment and reward alike impossible. Let a man be entirely deprived of memory, and he becomes conscious only of the sensations of the present moment; the past and the future are to him equally a blank. Science would be to him inaccessible, and all knowledge unattainable; for science is but a systematic arrangement of facts ascertained, and of the conclusions deduced from them; and knowledge is but the result gathered by memory from the experience of past events. Skill, and foresight, and care, without memory, were equally impossible. For how should he, who retains no recollection of the past, either pleasant or painful, know what, to-day, may yield pleasure or inflict pain? How, then, shall he plan for the one, or guard against the other! He must, inevitably, remain a mere passive recipient of sensations occasioned by the objects which are present, ignorant alike of the source and the consequences of his sensations; profoundly ignorant whether those feelings be a part of himself, the result of the operation of his own powers, or occasioned by objects external to himself; ignorant whether he ever felt the same before, or shall ever feel the like again; ignorant, in short, of every thing but the sensation of the moment. What idea could such a person form of punishment or of reward? Place such a being in heaven, and after millions of ages spent there, he would be no happier than at the moment of his admission! Thrust him down to hell, and he at once tastes the sum of his misery in the first pang; with its endurance, it is forever buried in oblivion. The past is forgotten, and is no more; the future is unseen, unanticipated, and is not. In the passing instant his consciousness
and his very being are wholly concentrated. Take away memory, and, it is plain, conscience expires with it, and remorse becomes impossible.
But, memory we have, and memory we shall forever retain. The saints in bliss remember their former pollution-they remember the terrors of the law, and they remember the efficacy of atoning blood; and hence burst their ascriptions of praise to Him who redeemed them unto God. Memory will act, also, with never dying vigor, in each bosom throughout the vast multitude of sinners. This is plain from the nature of the case; memory is an original faculty, inherent in the mind, and indestructible as the mind itself. It is plain from the charge urged home by the Judge of all the earth, on the consciences of the wicked arraigned at his bar ;-" I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was sick and in prison, and ye visited me not." (See the close of Matt. chap. 25). It is plain from the conversation between the father of the faithful and the rich man tormented in hell: "Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things." (See Luke, 16th chap.)
In this world, the mind is so occupied with business, and cares, and pleasures, that the greater part of our actions are speedily forgotten by us; but in the world of retribution all those objects will be removed, and those pursuits will be at an end. The mind, with all its powers restored to pristine, immortal vigor, with the memory of each event fresh as at the moment after its occurrence, will be ever active in the dread review; each action will be weighed and scrutinized, and conscience, with eagle eye to see the truth, and stern integrity to declare it, will fearlessly and loudly pass sentence on each action, as its bearings and influences on other persons besides the actor himself, rise up in view. Then will each cherished sin betray its native deformity, and discover its murderous work on the soul. Then, alsó, in the view of the impenitent, will the conduct of God be fully vindicated; his sincerity and earnestness in the gospel offer will be distinctly seen, and thoroughly believed; and the damning guilt of unbelief, will be doubted no more. Despairing groans and tears of blood will reveal the agonizing conviction.
Could the condemned outcast but believe himself blameless; could he only believe his punishments to be heavier than his desert, it would surround him as with a panoply, and shield him from the fierceness of divine wrath. But this it is that fans the fires of hell, and pierces with ten thousand barbs the sufferer's panting heart, he knows he is reaping but the just reward of his doings. Heaven's glories beheld in distance, and the echo of celestial hosannahs heard in hell's dark caverns, shall only rouse conscience to proclaim,— "Atoning blood flowed for us too; a heavenly portion was offered to us too,— but we spurned it for the momentary pleasures of sin." All hell quakes at the confession! its fiery billows rise, and roll, and rage, and break upon the ear, "Ye knew your duty, but ye did it not.”
"These are the words which glow'd upon the sword
These are the words to which the harps of grief
And quivering lips and hollow groans reply, 'We knew our duty, but we did it not.' Our doom is just. The terrors of a guilty conscience, who can bear! Merciful God, gather not my soul with sinners!
5. They know their doom is unalterably fixed; escape, relief, and change, and death, are alike hopeless.
On this subject reason utterly fails, analogy can furnish no clue to guide; the collected wisdom of all created beings were incompetent to decide what should be the duration of punishment inflicted on incorrigible rebels against heavenly majesty,-on the daring despisers of God's offered mercy. But this impenetrable mystery the Infinite Mind has vouchsafed to clear up. The compassionate Saviour himself has said, "the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment; into hell, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
Appalling though the prospect be, inscrutable though the reasons be that render such a decision necessary,-to doubt it were folly, and to deny it, worse than madness, since the Son of God asserts it. This it is that forms the crowning point in the wretchedness of the damned,-their woes shall never - end! Those fires will never die out; that worm will never cease its gnawings; that frame, lacerated in every fibre-quivering in every muscle, and bleeding with anguish at every pore, will never sink exhausted. Respite there is none, relief none, change is hopeless, escape impossible, and death-oh! 'tis a living death; the soul grappling in one eternal struggle with the monster death, bleeding in intensity of agony from his envenomed darts,-is ever-fainting, ever-dying-but never, never, never dead! Were annihilation possible after countless ages had rolled away, the gloomy anticipation might yield some relief-lend some support to the soul against its tide of sorrows; but annihilation is hopeless-it is impossible for God has pronounced the curse eternal. His breath fans the fire-his almighty arm sustains the sufferer to endure it. Eternity!-an eternity of wretchedness!-how unspeakably awful! Such an eternity, so filled up with suffering, awaits the impenitent. What,-oh, what then shall it profit me, if I gain the whole world,—its highest honors, its finest treasures, its richest enjoyments, and then lose my soul? God of mercy! gather not my soul with sinners!
From the pit, whose horrors we have been contemplating, there comes up the voice of admonition. Ten thousand groans commingle in the sound; ten thousand sighs waft it to our ears-he who is living in sin, impenitent, unsanctified, is fitting for a place in this horrid society. Are you a lover of wine, and a friend to strong drink? are you covetous? are you wrathful and unforgiving? are you a votary of pleasure, a lover of vain company, idle talk, unseasonable humor, and polluting joys? Then are you in the broad way, hurrying on with rail-road speed to join the thousands in the pit, who, when here, trod
in your steps; if here now would be kindred spirits with you, and for association with whom, nothing more is needed to fit you, than a dismission from the body! Are you externally blameless, but inwardly corrupt and secretly vicious? Satan already marks you as his own, and even now hell moves to meet you! Or are you living in no glaring sin, but in unbelief only? Remember, he who has said drunkards, and liars, and the unclean, shall not nherit the kingdom of God, has testified also-he that believeth not shall be damned! Let the refined, the highly cultivated, and the polished, ponder deeply this consideration-rejection of the gospel will consign you to perpetual companionship, hopeless of relief, with those very wretches from whose coarse wickedness and brutal vices you now shrink away in unutterable disgust! How will you bear to be their companions-their sport and their scorn for ever!
Of the doom that awaits them sinners are forewarned. If, then, in defiance of such motives, in contempt of such tenderness as the gospel reveals, men will press onward to ruin, mercy herself will suspend her entreaties, and use the high vantage ground to which she had brought them, only to occasion a more fatal plunge to the lowest depths of hell!
Dying sinner!" behold the Lamb of God "—the bleeding Saviour! Forsake the paths of folly-break off your sins by repentance, and surrender your whole heart to Jesus Christ, who is mighty to save. Believe on Him. That faith will purify your heart and the entire change it effects in your character, and your emotions, will give assurance of acceptance, while you pray, Gather not my soul with sinners! Amen!
BY REV. IRA TRACY,
Missionary of the American Board to Eastern Asia.
THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST IN SELF-DENIAL. PHILIPPIANS . 5.-Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
In the example of Christ we have a perfect pattern for our imitation. A pattern which we are bound to imitate in all cases where our situation is like his. Let us, then, look for a few moments at what he did for the benefit of sinners; and then consider in what respects our situation, in relation to others, is like that of Christ. For the benefit of sinners,
I. He left the honors and enjoyments of heaven. He was King of kings and Lord of lords. But he saw in this far distant province of his empire the entrance of sin. He witnessed the sorrow, and wo, that followed in its train; and, urged by love, he hastened to save the ruined world.
II. He endured the company of the degraded and wicked.
The vicious and the vile seek the company of those like themselves; but can one who has been accustomed to virtuous and refined society, be happy among the degraded and profane ? And when Christ became the friend of
publicans and sinners, was it because their company was agreeable to him? No, it was compassion for the miserable-it was pity for sinners, that made him their companion.
III. His labors were incessant and painful.
"He went about doing good," is the short, but exact description of his manner of life. This was his employment-his meat and his drink; and for this he refused no effort, however painful.
IV. He came among those by whom he knew he should be despised and rejected.
Take the history of his life on earth, and observe the treatment he received, and received, let us remember, for the good of others. See the Saviour of the world cradled in a manger, because the inn was occupied by those considered more honorable! Hear the proud Pharisee saying, "Behold a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber—a friend of publicans and sinners." See him before the Jewish Sanhedrim. "They all condemn him to be guilty of death." They then begin to "spit in his face, and to buffet him." Others cover his face and smite him with the palms of their hands, and contemptuously ask, "Who is he that smote thee?" See him next, led away to stand, like a felon, before the Pagan governor. Here again listen to the slanderous accusations against him; and hear the infuriated cry, Away with him, away with him! Crucify him, crucify him! And by whom was he thus despised and rejected? It was by those whom he most tenderly loved. He saw his enemies-the enemies of God-degraded, and perishing in sin, and his pity was moved. For our sake he could bear to be crowned with thorns, and spit upon, and called a vile impostor.
V. He bore our sins in the garden and upon the cross.
The self-denial, the condescension, the insults of which I have spoken, are as nothing, when compared with the sufferings of Gethsemane and Golgotha. It was in the garden that he began to drink of the bitter cup--the wrath of God against sin. See him retiring with the three disciples, and beginning "to be sore amazed and to be very heavy." "His soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death." He lifts up his voice in prayer, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;" but the burden is not removed. Again and again, he pleads, and no relief is granted; nor can there be, without the loss of a world. But the salvation of the world is an object so dear to the Sufferer, that he will not relinquish it. The rage of hell and the frowns of heaven can be borne, rather than we should be left to perish!
All this, however, is but the beginning of his sorrows. An ignominious death and the entire desertion of his Father's countenance are yet to be endured. "They took Jesus and led him away. And he bearing his cross, went forth. And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified him. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' And he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
Such are some of the self-denials and sufferings to which Christ submitted for the good of others. Keeping this example in view, and remembering that, if the same mind be in us which was also in him, we shall do as he did, so far as our condition permits, let us
SECONDLY, consider, in what respects our situation, in relation to a world of sinners, is like that of Christ.
1. As Christ saw mankind perishing and without a Saviour, so we see six hundred millions of our fellow-men in the same condition-perishing, and without a Saviour.
Their souls, as precious as our own, are in danger of being lost for ever; for they are, almost without exception, such as inspiration has described, [Rom. 1. 17—32, and 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, &c.] of whom it is declared, that such cannot inherit the kingdom of God. That this is their condition is admitted