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that, as I have told you before, God and his throne will be guiltless for ever?
3. Consider how dreadful will be your punishment, if you should perish at last by your present wilful negligence. My text tells you what will be the design of your punishment; it will be to show the wrath of God, and make his power known. Such will be your punishment, as will be fit to show that it is almighty power that inflicts it, and that it is an almighty God who is angry with you.
It will be his professed design to display the dreadful glory of his vindictive attributes upon you, particularly his justice, as the supreme Magistrate of the universe: and even his justice deserves to be displayed; for justice is not that ugly, grim, horrible thing, which criminals imagine. In a ruler, especially in the supreme and universal ruler, justice is not only a majestic and terrible, but it is a lovely, amiable, ingratiating attribute, essential to his character, and to the public good, and so it appears to all competent judges; that is, to all who are not self-flattering criminals, and therefore parties. The display of this attribute, therefore, upon proper objects, is necessary, to give a full view of the Deity to the world; to represent him as he is.
Now, whatever attribute of his he intends to display in any of his works, he always does it in a manner worthy of himself. When his design was to display and glorify his creative power, wisdom, and goodness, see what a stately, well-furnished universe he spoke into being. What a magnificent, God-like building! When his design was to show the riches of his grace towards our guilty race, what wonders did he perform! What inimitable exploits of condescension and love! His only begotten Son must become a man, must struggle with all the calamities of life for three-and-thirty long and painful years,
must expire in torture upon an ignominious cross, and redeem the guilty with the blood of his heart. This was Godlike love and grace indeed, beyond all example. Oh who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity ? Micah vii. 18. He is as much distinguished from all other beings by the wonders of his love and grace, as by the eternity of his existence, or by that wisdom which planned the universe, or that power which produced it out of nothing. When in prosecution of the same design, he intends to give a farther display of the riches of his glorious grace upon the vessels of mercy, what Godlike provisions hath he made for them. “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” He hath prepared for them a city, such a glorious residence, that he is not ashamed to be called their God. He is not ashamed to own the relation, because he has acted
up the character so worthy of himself. Heb. xi. 16. And when his design is to show his avenging wrath, and make his punitive power known; when it is to show what Godlike punishments he can inflict, such as may, by their terror, declare him to be their author, and serve as loud warnings to all present, and, perhaps, future creations, to deter them from the breach of his sacred laws; and when the subjects of the punishment are strong, capacious vessels of wrath, fit for nothing but destruction; I say, when this is the case, what Godlike vengeance will he execute, what signal, unexampled punishment will he inflict ! The design of punishment, which is not the reformation of the criminal, but the benefit of others, and the display of his perfections, require that he give a loose to all the terrors of his power. And what miracles of misery, what terrible illustrious monuments of vengeance will that perform and erect! As far surpassing all the punishments
inflicted by'mortals, as the creation of the world out of nothing exceeds all the works of human art.
And are you proof against the energy of such considerations as these? Then you are dreadfully fitted for destruction indeed. For the strongest persuasives to deter you from it, which God himself can reveal, or the human mind conceive, have no weight upon you.
But may I hope that I shall prevail at least with some of you this day to fly from this tremendous destruction, into which you are this moment ready to fall? Alas! it is hard, if even a stranger cannot prevail with so much as one soul, in so large an assembly, and in a point so reasonable, and so strongly enforced by your own interest. But I must leave this warning with you, and if you do not remember it now, you will remember it millions of ages hence, when the remembrance of it will torment you with intolerable anguish.
There are sundry in this assembly, I doubt not, who, by comparing their dispositions with the nature of heavenly happiness, may make the welcome discovery, that they are, in some measure, prepared for it. To such happy souls I have time only to say, that if this be your character, you may be sure that immense happiness shall be yours: your present heavenly temper is a certain pledge and earnest of it. You may be sure God would never make you fit for it, and then exclude you from it.
And, on the other hand, if you find that the dispositions of hell are subdued in you, assure yourselves God will not doom you to it. Can you think he would gain your hearts and allure your love, and then bid you depart from him, to languish and pine away with the eager, anxious pantings of disappointed, bereaved love? Will he doom you to reside for ever among those whose works you detest, and whose society you abhor? No: he will tho
roughly prepare you, and make you holy, and then advance you to dwell for ever in that presence which you love, in the element of holiness; to breathe in that clear, refined air; to live in that wholesome climate, so agreeable to your constitution; to be employed in those services in which
you delight; to enjoy that sublime and delicate happiness which you relish, and to converse in that society which you affect, and which is of the same temper and spirit with you. And for that blessed region may we all be prepared, and there may we all meet at last, to enjoy that endless felicity which awaits those who firmly put their confidence in God, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE NATURE AND NECESSITY OF TRUE REPENTANCE.
ActS xvi. 30.—And the times of this ignorance God
winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.
We here find St. Paul in as learned an assembly as, perhaps, he ever appeared in. We find him in Athens, a city of Greece, famous all over the world for learning; a city where Socrates, Plato, and the most illustrious philosophers of antiquity, lived and taught. We find him in the famous Court of Areopagus, or Mars-Hill, where the wisest men and best philosophers of this wise and philosophical city were met together; in the same court where Socrates, the most likely candidate in all the heathen world for the honours of martyrdom, had been accused and condemned, and for very much the same crime, namely introducing a foreign religion, and bringing the gods of the country into contempt. And how does the apostle conduct himself in these critical circumstances? Why, instead of amusing them with a learned harangue; instead of confirming them in their idolatry, and vindicating himself, by publicly professing, with poor Socrates, that he worshipped the gods of the country, and sacrificed at the established altars; instead of this, I say, the apostle boldly, though in a very handsome and genteel manner, exposes their superstitions, calls them off from their idols to the worship of the one true God, the Maker and Ruler of