Sermon 410. Not Now, But Hereafter!
Delivered on Sunday Morning, September the 22nd, 1861 by the
Rev. C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens, that the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction?they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath. Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hathdone?"-Job 21:29-31.
THE SERMON WHICH I PREACHED two Lord's days ago upon the accidents, has caused considerable consternation among pious peoplewith weak heads. Their idea that an calamities are judgments, is so inveterate a prejudice, and so favourite a dogma, thatour exposure of its absurdity is, in their opinion, eminently calculated to encourage sin and quiet the consciences of offenders.Now, I feel quite at ease in this matter, and am confident that I have done service to our greatcause, even though the timid should be alarmed, and the superstitious should be annoyed. Our gracious God and Father hasseen fit to give us a whole book of the Bible upon the subject; the main drift of the Book of Job is to prove that temporalafflictions are not evidences of the Lord's displeasure, and I beg the modern Bildads and Zophars to reconsider their position,lest they too should be found to be "speaking wickedly for God, and talking deceitfully for him."-Job 13:7. In my very soulI feel that if evil days shall come upon me, if poverty, desertion, and disease should place me upon Job's dunghill, Ishall point to that sermon with pleasure, and say to those who will tell me that God is angry with me, and has judged me tobe unworthy, "Nay, ye know not what ye say, for the judgment is not passed already, nor is this the field of execution; neitherdisease, nor bereavements, nor poverty, can prove a man to be wicked, nor do they even hint that the chosen are divided fromthehearts of Christ." O my beloved friends, settle it in your hearts that men are not to be judged according to their presentcircumstances, and learn like David to understand their end. It will save you from writing bitter things against yourselves in the time of trouble, and prevent your scanning the worksof Providence, and measuring the infinite by line and plummet.
It is mainly my business, today, to deal with those who may wickedly continue in sin because their judgment tarries. If theLord does not in this world visit the ungodly with stripes, this is but the surer evidence that in the world to come thereis a solemn retribution for the impenitent. If the affliction which is here accorded to men be not the punishment of sin,we turn to Scripture and discover what that punishment will be, and we are soon informed that it issomething far heavier than any calamities which occur in this life,-something infinitely more tremendous than the mostdisastrous accident, the most shocking mutilation, or the most painful death. I know that there be some in these days whoare like those in the time of the royal preacher, of whom he said, "because sentence against an evil work is not executedspeedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Should I be addressing some this morningwho havefound a stupid quiet for their consciences in the fact that God does not here usually visit men's sins upon their heads, let me put it to them whether such peace is reasonable. There is a city whichhas revolted. A great king has threatened them with entire destruction for the revolt. He does not, in hurried passion, sendagainst them a handful of soldiers to inflict instant and petty chastisement, he waits awhile, and marshals all his hosts,till every battalion has been put in array,till every mighty man has girded on his armor. Fools! will ye draw consolation from the delay of your destroyer? Willye say, because he has not ridden forth against you on the very day of your rebellion that therefore this is a time of revelryand mirth? Nay, rather, inasmuch as he is gathering his hosts for the battle, let it cause you to tremble, for he shall breakdown your walls, and give your whole company to the sword. Imagine yourselves voyagers, far out upon the sea. A black clouddarkens in the sky, you say you fear not the cloud because it is not at present pouring forth the rain-flood. But thatis the reason why ye should fear it, for the cloud is waiting until it grows and spreads, till under the wing of darknessthe egg of cloud has been hatched into the black screaming eagle of the storm. See you, the clouds are hurrying from eastand west, mustering for the strife! Mark you not the sea heaving heavily in sympathy with heaven's convulsions? Behold howall the dreadartillery of heaven is gathering up for one tremendous shock. Fools! do ye say ye will not fear because the thundercloudhas not yet burst, because as yet the breath of wind has not transformed itself into the blast of hurricane? It is gathering,sirs, congregating its forces and accumulating its fury, and the longer that it gathers, the more terrible shall be the momentwhen it bursts upon your devoted heads. And so to-day, God's clouds that float in the sky, the calamities of Providence, arenot pouring on you the tempest of wrath; but is this a reason why ye should be at peace? Nay! the clouds are gathering,every sin is adding to the mass, every day of God's long-suffering is covering heaven in blacker sable, every moment thathe spares he does but prepare to punish in more tremendous force; and dread and direful shall be the day, when at last omnipotenceitself shall come to the assistance of outraged justice, and you shall feel that God is God as much in punishing sin, as inthe making of the worlds.
It was a fable of the old Jewish rabbis, that when the angel Gabriel flew he used both wings, because he always came withgood tidings; but that when Michael flew, bearing God's sword to smite through the loins of king", he always flew with onewing. But Michael arrives as surely at his destined goal as Gabriel himself. The feet of the avenging deities may seem tobe shod with lead for tardiness, and their tread may be as noiseless as wool, but they are as sure as the feetof mercy. I know, when God comes to bless, the axles of his chariot are hot with speed, and his steeds are white withfoam, and when he comes to curse he travels slowly, with many a sigh, for he willeth not the death of any, but had rather"that he should turn unto him and live;" but remember, in judgment he comes in all his might, and he shall be discovered tobe not less a God when he smiteth than when he giveth the kisses of his lips, and lifts the pardoned sinner into acceptanceand favor.
We shall now deal with the sorrowful topic of the punishment of sin in the world to come. I have preached less upon this subjectthan almost upon any other, and yet always is it thrown in our teeth that we delight to dwell upon these horrors. I nevercome to this subject without the deepest distress of heart, and God alone shall know how many tears it costs these eyes whenI have to deal out as God's faithful ambassador the thunders of his law. I delight to preach ofCalvary, and of divine love, and of grace unsearchable. But this theme is to me the burden of the Lord, we must not, we dare not keep it back; fidelity to conscience, truthfulness to God, love to the souls of men,constrains us to make this a part of our ministry, not keeping back any part of the price.
I shall divide the discourse this morning into three parts, first, I shall speak of the punishment of sin, by way of affirmation, or prove that it must be so; secondly, by way of explanation, of what kind and nature this punishment must be; and then, thirdly, by way of expostulation, pleading with those who are yet in the land of mercy, that they would hasten to the voice of wisdom, and that God's gracemay turn them from the error of their ways.
I. First, then, by wag of affirmation-THERE MUST BE A PUNISHMENT FOR SIN.
Job says, that this is a truth so written upon the very nature of man, that even those who go by the way, the ignorant travelerand wayfarer, dares not for a moment deny that such is the case. "Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye notknow their tokens?" And truly it is so. If there be one intuitive truth which man perceives without need of argument, it isthat sin deserves to be punished, and since sin in not punished here, it fellows that the punishmentmust be endured in the world to come.
Let us, however, very briefly, review the argument. Sin must be punished from the very nature of God. God is; if God is God, he must be just. You can no more separate the idea of justice from the idea of God, than you can omniscience, or omnipresence, oromnipotence. To suppose of a God who was not omnipotent, is to make a supposition which is contradictory in its terms; forthe term "God" includes that thought. And to suppose an unjust God, is toimagine an absurdity,-you have used, I repeat it, contradictory terms;-justice is included in the very thought of God.See how the oppressed always recognize this. The slave who has long been trampled under the feet of a tyrannical master, withhis back fresh from the gory lash, lifts up his eye to God the avenger, for he feels instinctively that God must be just.Nationalities who have made appeals to arms, but have been subdued again to serfdom, at last in their despair cry out to God,for this is the bottom of man's thoughts, and the one which is sure to come forth when pain has emptied out his lighternotions, that God doth execute righteousness and judgment "for all that are oppressed." So, too, when man would aver a thingto be true he calls upon God to be his witness, because in his innermost nature he feels that God will be a just and impartialwitness. If he thought not so, it would be ridiculous to call upon God to witness to his asseveration. Note how the tearfuleye, the groaning mind, the bursting heart, all turn instinctively to the Judge of all the earth. Man feels that God mustbe just. But how just? How just, if crowned beads that do injustice shall go unpunished? How just, if the adulterer, the thief, the liar, and the hypocrite unpunished here, should go unpunished in the world to come. Whereis thy justice, God, if this world be all? We say, "Alas for love if, thou were an end nought beyond, O earth!" and we mayadd, alas, forjustice too; for where could it live, where could it dwell, unless there were a world to come, in which God will rightthe wrongs, and avenge himself upon an who have trampled on his laws.
Not only does his very nature show this, but those acts of God, which are recorded in Revelation, prove incontestably that he will by no means spare the guilty. There have been judgment.I am not now appealing to the crotchets and opinions of ill-judging man, but to the inspired chronicles, for I will quotethose judgments alone which the Word of God calls such. Adam sinned. 'Twas but the touching of an apple; Eden was blasted,Adam was exiled. The world sinned;they ate, they drank, they married, and were given in marriage; they forgot the Most High. The fountains of the greatdeep gave forth their floods; the cisterns of heaven emptied out their cataracts. All the world was drowned; and the lastshriek of the strong swimmer yielding at last to universal death, told out to us that God is just. Look across to the alliesof the plain. When they had wholly given themselves up to unnatural lusts, God rained fire and brimstone out of heaven uponSodom andGomorrha. And when he did so, what did he but write in letters of fire this word-"God is just, he furiously avengeth andterribly punisheth sin." Behold, too, Pharaoh and all his hosts drowned in the Red Sea. For what purpose was Pharaoh but thatGod might show forth his power in him-might prove to the world that there were vessels of wrath, and that God knew how tofill them to the brim, and break them as with a rod of iron. Look to Palestine, and behold its kings put to death by the swordof the Lord and his servant Joshua. What means a land stained in blood? It meaneth this, that the race had offended muchagainst heaven; and God, that man might have some glimpses of his terrible justice, declared that he would root out the racesof Canaan, and would have war with Amalek from generation to generation. It is impossible to reconcile Old Testament historywith the effeminate notion of neological divinity, that God is only a universal Father, but not a governor and a judge. Ifthese gentlemen will quietly read some of those awful passages in the Old Testament, they cannot-unless they should denythe inspiration of the passage, or attempt to tone down in meaning-they cannot but confess that they see there far less aloving parent than a God dressed in arms, of whom we may say, "The Lord is a man of war, the Lord is his name. Thy right hand,O Lord, thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces thine enemies." A God without justice is what this modern church isseeking after. These new doctrines would fashion a deity destitute of those sublime attributes, which keep the world inawe, and command for him the reverence of his creatures.
This brings me to my third argument. Not only do the nature and the acts of God prove that he will punish sin, but the very necessities of the world demand it. Imagine the contrary. Put in all our Christian pulpits men who should teach to sinners that there is no punishment for sin.Let them say to them, "What you suffer here is to be looked upon as God's judgment on your offense; but there is no worldto come in which your sins will be visited upon your heads."Friends, you may at once advise the government to multiply the number of our jails tenfold. If there be no punishmentfor sin in another world, if it be so light and trifling an offense that the little sufferings of this life are sufficientatonement for it, then you have thrown up the floodgates which have hitherto dammed up the overflowing floods; you will soonsee society swept from its moorings, there will be no possibility that men will seek to be honest, when they find that honestyordishonesty are terms which have but a trifling difference between them. If sin be so slight a thing, men will think virtueto be a slight thing too, and if there be so little punishment for crime, they will soon think that there can be but littlereason for virtue, and where will be our commonwealths, and our social compacts? The best lawgivers, however amiably disposedthey may be, find that they must back up their laws with penalties. A state which should be founded upon laws withoutpenalties could not last a week, or if it lasted, you would find that while the laws would be disregarded there wouldbe more death and more suffering than there had been before. When was the guillotine most at work, but when there was loudestboast of liberty, and men's living without law. When would there be the most of murder, but when there should no more be heardthe threat of condemnation, and when they who were assassins might be permitted to go abroad untouched. There must be punishmentfor the world's own good, to say nothing of the nature of God, which for its dignity and holiness necessarily demandsthat very offense and transgression should receive its just recompense of reward.
But further, I affirm the punishment of sin from the atonement of Christ. Friends, if there be no necessity that sin should be punished, why did Jesus die? Why, Father, didst thou send thy only begottenand well-beloved Son, and lay upon him the iniquities of us an? Was he needed for an example? He might have been our examplewithout dying, in fact if this were all, virtue, crowned and glorified, might have been quite as noble an incentive to goodness,as virtuemocked and crucified. He was needed that he might take our sins, and having taken our sins, it became absolutely necessarythat Jesus Christ should die. In the death of Christ, if sin must not necessarily be punished, I see nothing but the deathof a martyr, like James, or Peter, or Polycarp, the death of a man murdered for being better than his fellows. And why dowe make this fuss and noise about salvation by the death of Christ if that be all. Why has the Christian church existed tobe afalse witness, to testify to a fiction? Why has her blood been shed these many centuries, to maintain that the blood ofJesus Christ taketh away the sin of the world, if the sin could he taken away without punishment? The wounds of Christ haveno meaning, his precious blood has no value, his thorn-crowned head is not worthy of worship, nor is his death worthy of dailyministry, unless it be that he suffered "the just for the unjust to bring us to God;" God in Christ punished the sins of hispeople; and if he did it in Christ, unpardoned sinner, rest assured he will do it in you. If the imputed sins of Christbrought him the agonies of Gethsemane, what will your sins bring you? If guilt that was not his own brought him an exceedingheaviness, "even unto death," what will your sins bring you, sins remember which are your own? "He that spared not his own Son" wilt never spare rebels. He who did not spare his Son a single lash or a singlestroke, will certainly make noexemption in your favor, if you live and die impenitent and reject the gospel of Christ.
Besides, my dear friends, permit me to say that those who think that sin is not to be punished, are generally the worst ofmen. Men hate hell for the reason that murderers hate the gallows. The miscreant Youngman, who was executed on the top ofyonder gaol, informed the chaplain that he objected on principle to all capital punishment, an objection natural enough whenit was his own inevitable doom. They who dissent from the doctrine of divine justice, are interested informing that opinion; the wish is father to the thought, they would have their sin unpunished, they hope it may be, andthen they say it will be. You will not hear a thief's objection to a policeman; you do not imagine that a criminal's objectionto a judge is very valid, and the sinner's objection to hell lies only here, that he will not repent, and he therefore fearsthe dread certainty that he shall be punished. Besides even these worst of men, who pretend not to believe, do believe. Theirfears betray the secret conviction of their consciences, and on their dying beds, or in a storm, whenever they have thoughtthey were about to see with their own eyes the stern realities of eternity, their fears have proved them to be as strong believersas those who profess the faith. Infidelity is not honest. It may profess to be, but it is not. I think that our judges areright in not accepting the oath of an infidel. It is not possible that he should be honest in the notion that there is noGod. When God is around him in every leaf, in every tree, and in every star in the sky; it is not possible that a manshould be honest when he calls himself an atheist. Nor do we believe that any man can speak the dictates of his inmost heart,when he says that sin will never be punished, and that he may sin with impunity. His conscience gives him the lie, he knowsit must be so, and that God will visit his offenses upon his head.
I shall not enlarge further, except to say in gathering up the thoughts, impenitent sinner, be thou sure of this; there shallnot a sin of thine fall to the ground unremembered, "For every idle word that thou shall speak God will bring thee into judgment,"how much more for every blasphemous word and for every rebellious act. Do not wrap thyself up in the delusive thought thatsin will escape unpunished. Even if it should be so, then the Christian is as well off as youare, but since righteousness will be laid to the line, and judgment to the plummet, what will become of you? Be wise beforeit is too late. Believe to-day what you will find out to be a fact ere long. God has revealed it to you, his revelation hastokens and signs which prove its divine origin. Believe what He has revealed; do not say in your heart "I never will believethere is a hell unless one should come from it." Do you not see, that if one should come from it then you would not believeatall, because you would say, "If one person came from hell, then another may, and I may myself." It would take away allyour dread of future punishment if any spirit should come back from it, and therefore it is you that you should not have thatbe given you. Yet methinks the shrieks of dying sinners, the cries which some of you have heard coming up from the death bedsof blasphemers, ought to be enough evidence that there is a world to come whereof we speak, and that there are terrors ofthelaw which are happily concealed to-day from your eyes and from your ears, but which you may soon know, and know far betterthan the best words can teach you, by your own feelings, by your own everlasting despair, and banishment from God.
II. I turn now to the second portion of the discourse: THE NATURE OF THIS PUNISHMENT by way of explanation.
How will God punish sin? The text says, "The wicked is reserved to the day of destruction, they shall be brought forth tothe day of wrath." The old Puritanic preachers, such men as Alleyne, who wrote the "Alarm," and others of his class-alwaysgave a very cross picture of the world to come. They could never represent it except by brimstone flames, and dancing fiends,and such like horrors. They were conscientious in the drawing of the picture, and to them the terrors ofthe Lord gross, corporeal, unscriptural ideas of hell, but rather let us feel that it is a great mystery, concerning whichwe must rather follow Scripture than imagination. The first punishment which will be executed upon man for his sins, willbe punishment to his soul. The soul leaves the body, the body is here enclosed in the coffin, rotting in the tomb; the disembodied spirit will appear before its God. It will then know at oncewhat its future destination shall be. The great assizewill not then have been held, the Judge will not have officially pronounced the sentence, but the soul anticipating thesentence will antidote its execution. Memory will begin to reflect upon past sins, past mercies unimproved, past opportunitiesneglected, and past offenses which have long been forgotten. Then the conscience will begin to thunder. "Thou didst this wantonly,"saith Conscience. "Thou didst it against light and knowledge, thou didst despise Christ, thou didst neglect the day ofmercy, thou hast been a suicide, thou hast destroyed thyself." Then the fears will come in, the fears of the day of judgment,when the body shall be reunited with the soul. And those fears will sting the man with thoughts like these. "What wilt thousay when He comes to judge thee? How will thou bear the eyes of Him that shall read thee through and through? Now thou knowest that what was preached to thee on earth is true. Thou art no infidel now. Now the truth is not kept out ofthy soul by the dulness of thy fleshly body; thou seest thou knowest it. What will become of thee when earth shall pass away and heaven shall shake, and hell shall gape to receive its prey?"So the spirit shall be virtually in hell before the body goes there. This shall be the first punishment of sin.
Then, when the day predestined shall have come, the trump of the archangel shall ring through the aid-the trump this timeof the second resurrection-for the dead in Christ shall have already risen, and have reigned with Christ upon the earth. Thenrings the elation note that wakes the dead. They start up, and the soul returns to its old house, the body. Then it receivesits sentence. It is brought forth as the text says, "to the day of wrath,"-it had been reserved inchains before, in blackness and darkness, it is now brought forth to receive the sentence, that the body may begin itshell. Then, mark you, beyond a doubt, for we cannot understand Scripture, and especially the words of Christ without it, thebody shall have pains meet for its offenses. Your members were servants of your lusts, they shall be partakers of the wageof your soul-the feet that carried you in the paths of sin, shall tread the fiery road, the eyes which gazed with lustfulglance,shall now be made to weep the scalding tear, the teeth which ministered to your gluttony, shall now gnash for pain, thetongues which talked so exceeding proudly against God, shall be "tormented in this flame." There shall be certainly a punishmentfor the body as well as for the soul, for what else did Christ mean when he said, "Fear him who is able to destroy both bodyand soul in hell." I shall not enlarge upon what sort of punishment this will be, suffice me to say, that whatever it is,itwill be just. The sinner in hell shall not endure one iota more than he deserves, he shall have the due reward of his deeds-no more. Godis not unjust to punish men arbitrarily,-I know of no arbitrary condemnation. There is no such thing as sovereign damnation;it will be justice-inflexible, I grant you, but yet not such as shall pass the bounds of due and right desert. God will giveto man only the harvest of his own deeds. He sowed the wind, and he shall reap the whirlwind. Youshall not have the consolation in hell of saying that you did not deserve it, for in hell you will be made to feel, "Ibrought this on myself, I destroyed myself, it is true I am in pain, but I am the father of my own pains; I planted the treewhich yields the bitter fruit, I digged about it and I watered it, I did the work, I labored, and this is my wages;" and youwill have to feel there and then, that in every pang that rends the heart God is infinitely just. And then, whatever the painmaybe, we know that while it is just, it will be terrible. Whose are those awful words, "He shall burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire! "Is this the language of Moses? No, of Christ.It is a remarkable fact, that the most frightful descriptions of punishment, of another world are from the lips of the Savior.Had Peter spoken them, you would have said Peter was harsh in spirit. It was the Master spake them. He who wept over Jerusalemsaid, "These shall go away into everlastingpunishment;" he spoke of "burning up the chaff;" he spoke of "binding hand and foot and giving them up to the tormentors."In the compass of revelation there are no words so grim and terrible in their awful suggestiveness, as the words of Him "whowent about doing good," and wept and cried, "Come unto me, and ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
And we know, again that this punishment will be eternal. This is the very pith of it. There were no hell, if it were not eternal, full the hope of an end would be the end of fear.If there could be an end to hell at any time, there would be an end to it at once, for no man would feel that desperate despair,if there were a hope that it should come to a close. But it is eternity, eternity, eternity, that makes punishment bad. Thisis the bell which tolls the funeralof every hope-eternity, eternity, eternity. To sail across a sea of fire for ever, never reaching a haven; to sink, butnever reach the bottom, or to rise to heights of greater agony, and never reach the summit. Oh, brethren, brethren, it isnot the wrath of God in this world that you have so much to fear, the wrath's to come, the wrath's to come. And it is notthe wrath that the soul shall be filled with when it has been there a thousand years, it is the wrath's to come. They willgo onsinning and God will go on averaging, they will go on blaspheming and they shall go on gnawing their tongues, they shallgo on hating God and they shall go on feeling his anger, they shall go from bad to worse in character, and doubtless fromball to worse in agony. O God, help us to escape from this awful thing-the wrath, the wrath to come!
III. I close now by offering SOME FEW WORDS OF EXPOSTULATION.
You will kindly look at the thirty-first verse. He says "Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him whathe hath done!" Now there are many men who think they shall come off soot free, because in this life there are none who willdare to mention their sins to their face. The covetous man is very seldom rebuked for his covetousness. If a man lives anunclean life, he does not usually read books which would prick his conscience. If a man acts dishonorablyin his trade, if another should tell him of it, he would be exceedingly insulted. It is true a faithful minister willoften make men feel uneasy in their sins, for he will be led by God's direction to give such a description of the offensesand of the punishment, that he will make sinners tremble in their shoes. But still are there not some among you here to-daywho can sin with both your hands, and there is no Elijah to say, "Thou art the man. "You have none to meet you in Naboth'svineyard,and say to you, "Hast thou killed and taken possession? "There is perhaps hardly a "still small voice:" there used tobe one. The agonizing face of your wife when first you had forsaken the way of virtue; the ghastly look of your mother asyou were bringing down her grey hairs with sorrow to the grave, the sorrowful gaze of your little children when first theirfather became a drunkard, these were still voices to you, but they are hushed now. When God gives you up, then indeed yourdamnationslumbereth not. But remember, however cheaply you can sin now, God will not fear insulting you; he will bring your sinsto your remembrance and there shall be no consideration of your dignity. He vein not consult your feelings, he will not lookupon you as a great one; he will bring your sins to remembrance in no courtly phrases and in no polished terms. You shallfind that the lips of Justice know not how to make distinctions between you and the basest menial whom once you despised.Now, if aman should speak your character it would be libel; but when God speaks it, you shall not threaten him. What thinkest thouthat he will fear and tremble before thee? Who art thou, O man, that the lips of the Eternal God should be silent about thee?Who art thou that he should fail to draw thy character in black or crimson hues? He will convict thee to thy face, and thoushalt be utterly unable to plead guiltless of thy sins. And then the text says "Who shall repay him? "Ah! there is no handwhich dares repay you now; you have gone unpunished yet. No law can touch you, you say; ah! but there is a law divulgewhich overrides the law that is human; and if the arm of human justice be too short, the arm of God is as long as it is strong,and he will reach you, and to the last jot and little pay you your due reward. You shall not escape, even in the slightestdegree. No pleas and prayers, no tears and excuses, shall have any avail with him, but till justice shall have had its uttermostfarthing, thou shalt by no means come out thence.
And now, sinner, why wilt thou dare the wrath of God? Why wilt thou run this fearful risk? Why wilt thou make thy bed in hell?Why wilt thou dwell in everlasting burnings? Is it wise, or art thou mad, and is thy reason gone? Have I preached to you abugbear and a fable?-if so, go thy way and sin. But oh! if it be true-and it must be, unless you are prepared to reject that precious book and the very name of Christian-if it be true! Soul, I pray theelet me feelfor thee, if thou wilt not feel for thyself. Why dash thyself upon the point of Jehovah's javelin? Why destroy thyselfagainst the bosses of his buckler? What can there be that makes thee so in love with ruin? Why wilt thou hug the grave, andembrace destruction? Soul, again I say, art thou mad?-art thou mad?-art thou mad? May the Lord teach thee reason, and mayhe help thee to flee to the only refuge where a sinner may find mercy.
I shall close when I have tried to set out the way of Mercy. I have read in the old Histories of England, that Edward theSecond, one of our kings, was exceedingly enraged against one of his courtiers; being out hunting one day, he threatened thecourtier with the severest punishment. There was a river between them at the time, and the courtier thinking that he was perfectlysafe, ventured to offer some jeering remark upon the king-telling him that at any rate he wouldnot be likely to chastise him until he got at him. The king feeling his anger hot within him, told him that the watershould not long divide them, leaped into the middle of the stream, and with some difficulty gained the other side. The courtierin great alarm fled in terror, and the king pursued him with might and main, spurring his horse to the utmost. Nor did hisanger cease; he carried his drawn sword in his hand with the intention of killing him. At last the courtier, seeing that therewasno hope for any escape, knelt down upon the grass, and laying bare his neck, said, "I heartily deserve to die, mercy,King! mercy! "He sent back his sword into the scabbard in a moment, and said, "Whilst you sought to escape me I determinedto destroy you, but when I see you humble at my feet I freely forgive you." Even so is it with the King of heaven. Sinners,ye say there is this life between you and God, ah! but how soon will the white horse of Justice pass the stream, and thenflee, fleeas you may today, he will surely overtake you. He now is swift to destroy, let it be yours on your knees to make confessionof your sin and say, "I deserve thy wrath, Great King, I deserve thy wrath," and if to this thou art enabled to add the pleaof the precious blood of Christ, the sword of Justice will return into its scabbard, and he will say, "I am just, and yetthe justifier of the ungodly." For Jesus died, and inasmuch as Jesus Christ has died, Justice is satisfied on the accountof allbelievers. Go thy way, thy sins which are many are all forgiven thee. "What must I do to saved?" saith one. This is allthou hast to do, and this the Holy Spirit will work in thee. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all thine heart." "Whatis that?" say you. "I believe him to be divine; I believe that he is able to save." That will not save you, there must besomething more than that. "What then?" "Believe in him,"-carry out practically your belief that he is able to save by trustingyourself in his hands. To exhibit again an old picture which has often been used, there is a child in a burning house,hanging from the upper window. A strong man stands beneath and offers to catch him, if he will but drop from yonder hot windowsill to which he still clings. "Drop, my child," saith he, "I will catch you." The child believes the strength of his preserver;that does not save him. He trusts to the strength, he lets go his hold and falls, is caught and is preserved, that is faith.Let go your hold of your good works, your good thoughts, and all else, and tried in Christ. He never did let one souldash itself to earth yet, that did but fall into his hands. Oh! for grace for every one of us to say in the words of Watts,-
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On Christ's kind arms I fall;
He is my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus and my all."