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complain that judgment is not speedily executed against an evil work? It cannot be the wicked, for they are the immediate gainers : nor ought it to be the good, because it is for their sakes that the evil are spared. And certainly none would wish to have the scene reversed ; to see God's justice as conspicuous as his mercy now is ; in place of patience, forbearance, and long-suffering, to behold nothing but wrath and judgment and fiery indig. nation.

II. Thus far, Christians, I have endeavoured to explain the reasons why divine providence does not speedily execute sentence against an evil work. Thus far I have endeavoured to vindicate the character of God from the objections brought against it from this part of his government. A very few short

A inferences from what has been said will serve to illustrate the second head of discourse, which is to show, that, the conduct of wicked men is highly absurd and unjustifiable in taking encouragement to continue in sin from this part of the divine economy.

Every thing which has been said conspires to prove, that God does not defer the punishment of sin because he approves of it. On

the contrary, this very temporary impunity is a proof of his justice and wisdom. And surely the just and natural inference is, not that we may go on boldly in iniquity because the Governour of the world seems regardless of his laws, and punishes not their transgression ; but knowing as we do his holiness and justice, we ought to infer that there will be a reckoning in future, and that the more terrible, the longer it is delayed. If the wicked received the due reward of their deeds, as soon as they committed any crimes, they might then suppose that all was over, and that they might safely continue in transgression, undisturbed hy the fears of futurity. But when the stroke is suspended, while their fate is uncertain, anxiety and fear should take place of presumption, and security give way to repentance and reformation. Had men like brutes been devoid of sense and reason, it would have been necessary to operate upon their minds by prcsent rewards and punishments. And, in that case, they would perhaps have been excusable for continuing to transgress the law, if their actions were not followed by their immediate reward or punishment: But since they are reasonable beings, and know that the justice of

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VOL. I.

God requires the punishment of vice, must they not infer, that, if the sinner be happy here, he will be miserable hereafter ? And since they are endowed with foresight, and are capable of being actuated by distant motives, ought they not to forsake sin from the fear of future wrath, though the practice of it were attended with no present disadvantage? To do otherwise is the conduct of madmen, who have neither reason, conscience, nor foresight. To persist in iniquity because sentence is no: speedily executed, is like men who refuse to take shelter from the coming storm till it has burst upon them in all its fury; like men who refuse the assistance of a friendly hand to rescue them from the waves, till they are actually buried in the deep. To reason with such men were useless, to attempt to convince them were desperate ; I will only remind them of this awful warning of God himself. “ These things bast thou done, and I kept si“ lence: thou thoughtest that I was altoge“ ther such an one as thyself : but I will re

prove thee, and set them in order before “ thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that for

get God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there “ be none to deliver.”

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Your conduct is still more unjustifiable, your presumption is still more evident when you know that you are spared not for your own sakes, but for the sake of others. You are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, and your doom is delayed that the vessels of mercy may be gathered in and saved from that vengeance which shall be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Wbile

you grow together with the wheat, you may escape, but a time cometh when God shall gather the wheat into his garner, and burn up the tares with un

, quenchable fire.

Be not deceived, ye are not the favourites of heaven. As children of the Almighty, ye are the objects of his compassion ; as enemies of heaven, and transgressors of his laws, ye are the objects of his abhorrence. The lenity and indulgence now exercised towards you are not on your own account, but on account of your relations, friends, and connections, who would be involved in your ruin. Those pious men whom you despise, and whose manner of life you dislike, are your patrons and protectors, who

, now for a little shelter you from that dreadful

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storm which shall consume all the workers of iniquity.

Last of all, consider the intention of God in delaying the punishment of sinners, and your conduct must appear both foolish and ungrateful. The reason of this delay, we have already seen, is that we may repent and return. If

you

had contracted to finish an important work before a certain period, under a severe penalty in case of non-preformance; if the penalty were forfeited, but through lenity and indulgence the terin was still prolonged, you could not possibly justify yourself for idleness, or engaging in any other business while the great work remained unfinished. Now

you have the great work of your salvation to work out; the penalty is no less than eternal misery in the internal abodes; this penalty you have forfeited, but through the mercy of God, the term of your probation is still continued.

Will

you still be so foolish as to neglect the opportunity you enjoy? Will defeat the purposes of heaven? Will

you be insensible to the goodness of God? Will you abuse and insult the mercy of heaven? Will you continue in sin that grace may abound? A delay of repentance may admil a shadow of

you defe

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