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mighty and inexpressible sin-this sin embodying all the essence of infernal guilt and wo, is one for which many before have to answer. Kind heaven, have mercy on the miserable culprits!
Let us look next, my hearers, at the fearful doom which inevitably awaits those who will not accept of Christ and become pious.
1. And that a fearful doom does await such, is to be inferred from the severe punishment which befel those who acted a similar part toward the institutions of Moses. "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses." It is written in Deuteronomy, (xvii. 2—6,) “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, and hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; and it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and behold it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which has committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones till they die. At the mouth of two witnesses or three, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death." This indeed was a terrible doom; but more terrible that which awaits the rejecter of the religion of Jesus.
1st. Because he sins against greater light. It is a principle of common justice that punishments should be graduated according to the turpitude of the offense. He who rejects Christ acts against all the increased light and experience of the New Testament, and of course incurs greater guilt than the despiser of the Mosaic religion, and hence must meet with a sorer punishment.
2nd. He tramples under foot far richer blood. The blood of the old covenant was the typical blood of bulls and of goats; but the sanctifying blood of the new, is the blood of the Son of God. 3d. He sins against a greater personage. Moses was a mere man. But Christ was a God. And is a sin directed against the prophet equal to that directed against the God of the prophets? The Savior could easily forgive and overlook the sin "against the Son of man." It was not so much to be wondered at that men should become offended at and despise his humble humanity. But when the sin was directed "against the Holy Ghost" and the reproach was cast upon the Deity, heaven contained no pardon for it.
4th. He also sins against the Holy Spirit. This is an influence somewhat peculiar to the Gospel. It is one which requires active resistance to overcome.
From these considerations we are bound to conclude that a far more fearful punishment than befel the Jewish sinner awaits the despiser or rejecter of the Gospel.
2. That a fearful doom awaits those who refuse submission to the Savior, is also to be inferred from the fearfulness of the God who is to judge them. "For we know him," says the apostle, "that hath said, Vengeance is mine, I will render it. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Fearful, because he is a God of infinite power. His word brings worlds into being; his frown blots suns and systems from the universe! There is nothing to control him, no law out of him to bear upon him. His will is law-resistless and immutable law-and that to the utmost extremity of creation's mighty compass. He speaks, and it is done; he commands, and it stands fast. His power is infinite, and all creatures must bend or be crushed before him. And is there nothing fearful to be apprehended from falling into the hands of such a God!
Again, he is infinite in justice. Sin of the slightest shade must meet with punishment at his hands. When archangels rebelled, hell resounded with their overthrow. When Adam but tasted of the forbidden fruit, the curse smoked after him and filled a world with woes. He cannot but punish sin, and that to the very utmost extent of its ill desert. Every attribute of his nature-every principle in his government-and all the interests of all his obedient creatures conspire to raise the uncompromising cry, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die! And with the awful sin upon us of slighting Christ and refusing his religion, is it not fearful to fall into the hands of such a God!
Again, he is a God of eternal immutability. From everlasting to everlasting he is the same. His sentence once uttered, there is no appeal and no reprieve. To meet with wrath at his hands, is to writhe beneath his wrath forever. There is no change-no repentings with him. From eternity to eternity he is the same omnipotent, just, and sin-avenging God. Sterner far than fierce Achilles in the raging fight, his piercing eye shall burn and his heavy hand forever crush the soul that trampled on his only Son. Not tears,
nor supplications, uttered even by the slow faint accents of the dying breath, can purchase from him one moments respite from the tremendous woe which awaits the man that never bows to Jesus. It was well said, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
3. But it is still further to be inferred that a fearful doom awaits the despisers of the Gospel, from the existence of a conscience. Wherever there is a man there is a conscience. It is the changeless nature of that conscience to reproach and harass the soul for every wrong which it perpetrates, until full satisfaction and restitution is made. The bloody rites of heathenism prove this; and civilized society abounds with examples of it. I will present two.
Here is a man whose old and helpless parents are the objects of his contempt. He grieves-he insults-he oppresses them. In return for the anxious cares and solicitude bestowed upon him in his infancy and youth, he neglects their wants and totally abandons them to starvation and death. Think you not that that man is destined to be miserable? Go where he will, engage in what he may, thoughts of his parents' wants and woes, and remorse for his worse than brutish ingratitude will trouble and distress him forever. He cannot shake off the haunting conviction of his sin.
So also with the murderer. Soon as he commits the bloody deed a thorn enters his heart which will never be extracted. He ever sees upon his hands the purple stains. He cannot wash them out. He cannot efface them. "A vulture is devouring his soul, and it can ask no assistance or sympathy either from heaven or earth. The secret which he possesses soon comes to possess him; and like the evil spirits of which we read, it overcomes him, and leads him whithersoever it will. He feels it beating at his heart, rising to his throat, and demanding disclosure. He thinks the whole world sees it in his face, reads it in his eyes, and almost hears its workings in the very silence of his thoughts. It has become his master. It betrays his discretion, it breaks down his courage, it conquers his prudence." The pale ghost of his victim seems ever to be near him. It pursues his every step. It distresses him by day, and disturbs his slumbers by night. Every object around him becomes an object of fear and alarm. He flees at the rustling of a leaf-shrinks from every sound-and his cheeks grow
1 Webster's Speeches.
pale, and his very soul quakes at the fancied spectres which beset his path. He can find no peace, no rest. He ever feels a canker at his heart which will gnaw there forever!
This conscience-this arch-disturber of the guilty soul is not to be destroyed by death. It is part of that nature which cannot die. The probability is, that it will grow in vigor and power after we once drop our flesh. If so, then what must be the end of the despiser of religion. How will conscience recoil upon his soul! How will remorse goad and crush his spirit! Can it be otherwise than that a long eternity of lamentation, mourning and woe awaits him where he will be alone in the midst of multitudes, without a friend, wtthout a comfort, without a hope! It is recorded of Croesus, that in the height of his pride and glory he was admonished by a philosopher not to trust to riches, but consider the end of life, and seek for happiness somewhere else. This admonition he refused to heed, and spurned the magnanimous man from whom it came. But afterwards when he was defeated in his wars with Cyrus; when his city was taken, himself made prisoner, and laid bound upon the pile in order to be burned, he cried out in the anguish of his guilty soul, “Solon! Solon! Solon!" How then shall it be with the sinner-the despiser of Christ, when he comes to feel those cravings and enlarged desires which cannot be satisfied, and those fires which cannot be quenched! How bitter will be his remorseless cries-cries which no merciful ear will listen to! There will be the remembrance of opportunities neglected-of mercies slighted-of entreaties spurned-of a thousand sermons heard and heeded not. The very images of the ministers which proclaimed them shall ever flit before the distressed imagination. And there will be
"groans that end not, and sighs
From the subject as now before us, we are led to reflect upon the supreme foolishness and depravity of the human heart. Foolish it is, because it chooses a course which must have such a fearful termination; and depraved, because it resists so much goodness. We can hardly realize it as at all possible that man could be guilty of such an enormous crime as that described in the text. It seems
1 Plutarch's Lives, p 70.
too much for humanity to undertake. We would suppose that the soul would quail and falter in the attempt to resist so much love, and light, and tender entreaty, as the Gospel displays. We are disposed to consider men influenced more by reason and conscience, and interest, than to reject Christ and that glorious religion which be came from heaven to establish. But so it is. Thousands and tens of thousands find it in their hearts to do this very thing, and do it with an energy and deliberation as if they were prosecuting the wisest and best of all enterprises. Surely none but such as grovel in the lowest, filthiest, blackest depths of moral pollution and infamy could do so.
And how should the consideration of this subject alarm every one of us. Even those of us who have reason to believe that we are the children of God, have cause to be awakened to greater diligence to make our own calling and election sure; as well as in our exertions for the recovery of those with whom we are associated in daily life, but who stand exposed to the terrible doom to which our attention has been called. There are some, however, who only hope that they are christians-who do not feel that they have embraced the Savior with the whole heart-and who have no settled or reliable sense of the Divine favor. Such have particular reason to be roused. The interests at stake are so great, that no pains should be spared to arrive at a confirmed state of christian piety. How ardent and incessant should be their exertions to flee the wrath. to come, and to go on to the full assurance of hope unto the end!
But there are many, who in their own view, and in the view of others, have no claim to the character or hopes of christians. And should not such be alarmed by the awful things which have come to their view in this discourse? Sinners, is there nothing in the knell of impenitence-the knell of eternal death-the knell of millions forever dying, and buried in an eternal grave to ro guilty fears? Who of you intends to be reckoned with these miserable beings? Which of you does not tremble at the bare thought of meeting the anger of God-of being destroyed alwayof dying day by day, forever? Which of you does not shrink with horror from the apprehension of sustaining this dreadful character of absolute turpitude-of becoming a mere mass of sin—an eternal enemy of God and every intelligent being-of being known to others, and knowing yourself to be only guilty, odious, and despicable