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the words mean any thing at all, they certainly must mean that there is a strictness, a severity a self-denial accompanying the sincere profession of religion, utterly inconsistent with the thoughtlessness, self-indulgence, idleness, and dissipation prevalent among all classes of people who call themselves Christians. Suppose not that because you are not precisely in the circumstances of the rich man, able to gratify an expensive and voluptuous taste, that his case is not your's: for the difference of outward circumstances, whether of wealth or poverty, is nothing at all before God. He looks on the heart. If you wish to have your good things in this life, whether you have them or not, and undervalue eternal glories, you will lose them most certainly.
Our Savior, you will observe, has taken the two extremes, of earthly felicity and of woe. The instance of the former, was one who was healthy, and rich, and young, blest with friends, respectable connexions, a large fortune, and all that riches can bring of the comforts and elegancies of refined life. This is a case, the most in point of any that can be supposed: for regal dignity is quite out of the question, and the honors of the state are attainable by so few, that they do not often enter into the schemes we form of earthly bliss, except perhaps in very early youth: but the advantages and comforts expected to be derived from riches, are so suited to the taste of all men, and so probably within the reach of all men, that the ease sup
posed by our Savior is peculiarly apposite, as a general example.
The instance of the other man is likewise almost an extreme case. Loathsome sickness, and abject poverty, and friendless solitude, conspired to set him at the lowest degree in the usual scale of human misery. Now if the state of the latter with piety, is to be preferred to the former without it, in these extreme cases, much more in all cases which are likely to be ours, should not poverty, and continual mortification-sorrow and death, be preferred to pleasures which end in ruin? For whether we are in prosperity or adversity, we are like the rich man and the beggar at his door, alike hastening to the grave; the whole of this life is but a dream; death will soon terminate our joys and sorrows, and our condition in the future world will depend entirely on the manner in which we have lived in this state of probation.
God has drawn aside for a moment the veil of the invisible world, and shewn us what we shall all be in a little time. Let us endeavor to give these truths a reality in our minds. Let us believe what will be the issue of a worldly life. And let us live now as we shall wish we had lived when our state is irreversibly fixed.
PSALM ix, 17.
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
MEN and brethren, if religion were only a cunningly devised fable-if that hell, of which you read in the Bible, were only an invention of crafty deceivers, you might despise their threatenings, and go on in sin. Moreover, if it were only the drunkard, the murderer, the adulterer, the sabbath-breaker, or the common swearer that was to find his portion in hell, then the sober and moral among you might please themselves with the hope of escape. But if the Almighty has himself thundered out of heaven, and made known to all men, not only that he hath prepared a place of torment for the wicked, but that all who forget God shall be turned into it, it behoveth every one of us to hear, believe and tremble.
Brethren, let the words of our text convince you that the word of God speaks plainly. Certain vain and ignorant persons are shocked
at the coarseness of this subject; but you now hear God speaking for himself. This then, is the threatening of Jehovah, which his justice and truth engage him to execute, that the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. At the very recital of these words, some of you must be convinced that they are in danger; their consciences must testify that if they die as they are now living, they must perish. But by far the greater number are saying to themselves, Whatever others may be, I have no reason to believe myself to be wicked, or that I forget God. Now my brethren, you that speak after this manner, may perhaps be right; but it is possible you may be wrong. If you are right, you need not fear to inquire into your reasons for thinking so; if you are wrong, it will be but a poor exchange to obtain a false peace for a little while in this world, at the expense of awakening from delusion in the next. It is therefore far wiser to ascertain the point. Let us then for this purpose, first inquire, who are the persons described in the text; and then, in the second place, declare their final doom.
I. We apprehend that the wicked, and all the nations that forget God, are the same persons. In the sight of God all are wicked who forget him: yet, in compliance with the usual sense put upon these words, let us suppose two sorts of persons spoken of: the wicked, those who are openly immoral; and the other, those who are more decent in their conduct.
The wicked, or immoral, are those whose sins carry the sentence of their condemnation along with them. To call these sins in à particular review, were unnecessary. Deep marked with the character of hell, they proclaim to every beholder to what place they are tending. Let it suffice to adduce certain passages of scripture, in which God has summed up these workers of iniquity, in one complete catalogue, and assigned one doom to them all. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, drunkenness, and such like: of the which I tell you before: as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Would there were none such in the present assembly! Leaving these texts to their consideration, we proceed to inquire who they are that forget God.
God hath commanded us to remember him in all our ways. Not to do this, is to forget him. What then, you ask, is it possible for any man to be always thinking of God? Is there not a time for all things? Is it not sufficient that we think of him at proper seasons: such as on the sabbath, or at morning or even
1 Cor. vi, 9, 10.
† Gal. v, 19, 21.