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found in God only; the conviction is just, but it is completely useless ; for you are s forsaking the Foun. “tain of living waters, and hewing out to yourselves “ broken cisterns, cisterns that can hold no water.!! You confess there is a hell, and that its misery is ex. treme, but you never take one step to avoid it. We cry,“ death is rapidly approaching you; and the Judge “ standeth before the door :" you answer, yes, and slumber on. Your life is a perpetual contradiction to your creed; you are not happy, and contrive not to be miserable. O what a waste of means and privileges have you occasioned! Why did you not inform us from the beginning that you never intended to regard these things, then we could have turned to others; you have robbed them of sermons which they would have heard to purpose, and which you have heard in vain. I need not say, you are not christians, that you are wholly unlike them; that you do not “war a good “ warfare;” that you do not “run the race set before you;
for you are acquainted with all this ;" you do not mistake your condition, you know you are in a state of condemnation, and are still at ease!! O what a paradox are you! Nothing can be so hateful to the Supreme Being as this state of inactivity. He you were either cold, or hot." Since you know your Lord's will, and do it not, you will “ be beaten “ with many stripes.” “ It will be more tolerable for “Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than “ for you.” No instance in the Scripture is recorded of the conversion of persons in your peculiar circumstances. You are sermon-proof. A Bible has poured forth all its treasures before you ; it has thrown down
at your feet heaven and hell, but it has excited neither hope nor fear. Surely you have reason to apprehend that means so long applied in vain, will be always use. less ; for what probability is there that the word which has done nothing already, should prove efficacious now? Will the sword of the Spirit become keener ? Will the remedy acquire more virtue to heal ?
This illustration of our subject leads us to suggeste the following inferences.
First, If “woe be to them that are at ease in Zion," surely they are highly criminal, who countenance and promote such a state. And of this number are ministers, who preach so as never to give offence, or excite alarm. “ For they have healed the hurt of the “ daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace; peace, “ when there is no peace; therefore shall they fall
among them that fall; in the time of their visitation
they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.” “ derful and horrible thing is committed in the land : " the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear “ rule by their means, and my people love to have it “so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” O how dreadful will it be in the day of judgement to hear the reproach,
There is the man that deceived me, “ and thereby destroyed me. Cursed watchman, you “ never announced my danger till the enemy had se. “ cured his prize." of this number are all those characters, who will never seize an opportunity to warn a fellow.creature, or a friend, of his condition ; and who will suffer a soul to perish, rather than incur a reflection, or a frown, by the exercise of faithful kindness.“ Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine
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“ heart ; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, « and not suffer sin upon him.”
Secondly, If “ woe be to them that are at ease in “ Zion," let none be troubled when they find their connections distressed and alarmed with a sense of their sin and danger. “ This sickness is not unto death ;" this pain is a sign of returning life; this “ want” will make the prodigal think of home, where “ there is " bread enough and to spare.” When people of the world see their friends and relations in spiritual anxiety, they fear approaching derangement, or melancholy; they are eager to send them into company; or to order thein to the theatre. But those of us who have been through this state of mind ourselves, can rejoice while we sympathize, knowing that it is the common method of the Saviour to wound before he heals; to humble before he exalts; and hoping that this process is the preparation for that mercy, which is never prized till we are made to feel our misery. Such was the disposition of the apostle“ Now I rejoice not that ye were * made forry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance ;
for godly forrow worketh repentance to falvation “not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world “ worketh death."
Thirdly, If" woe be to them that are at ease in Zion," there is nothing so much to be dreaded as false security in religion. I know that there are many alarms which never issue in salvation. I know that many fear hell, who never fear sin; but still these distressing convictions are hopeful ; they produce exertions which may receive a heavenly tendency; they look like the harbingers of religion ; they are blossoms if not fruit ; and though
they may be blighted or shaken off, we cannot help hail: ing them.
Some are afraid of their trouble ; we wish they were afraid of their peace. They are glad when by company, or amusement, they have freed themselves from certain painful impressions; whereas this is rather a judgment, than a mercy. They rejoice, says an old divine, to get rid of a shaking ague, though it has left them in a deep decline. There is nothing so fatal as the carelessness and indifference of a man who was never distressed about sin, or deprived of one hour's rest, by saying, “what have I done?" It is terrible when a man is ftruck with spiritual senselessness. Better for God to ruin your estate, to bereave you of your friends, to destroy your health, than suffer you to have a “seared conscience," or a heart “ hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” It would have been well, if the foolish virgins had been roused from their sleep before the midnight cry, had it been done even by the intrusion of robbers. This induces us to be so urgent in this case ; anxious if by any means to produce in you that salutary alarm which will lead you to precaution and remedy; and by destroying the peace of sin, secure to you the peace of God which “ passeth all understanding.”
Fourthly, If “woe be to them that are at ease in " Zion,” there is consolation for them that are distressed there. Nothing is more common than to find gracious souls filled with discouraging apprehensions and fears, and frequently “ they refuse to be comfort“ ed.” We do not admire and applaud all their doubts and their dejections ; but these painful scruples are easily accounted for, and they lie on the safe side of religion. They are very distinguishable from unbelief; and arise, 1. From their view of the importance of the concern ; it is nothing less than the everlasting salvation of their souls. Such a thing cannot be slightly determined; they are always suspicious; they can never have sufficient certainty ; they require evidence upon evidence. “This is the only opportunity to ensure ; what, if I should be mistaken ?" 2. From a conviction of the deceitfulness of their own hearts, which have often imposed upon them. 3. From a recollection that many live and die in their delusion; and what if they should be of the number? Thus they can hardly argue themselves into ease; and while others do not fear at all, these fear too much ; while others will not perceive the saddest evidences of sin, these will hardly discern the fairest evidences of grace. Both are blameable, but they are not equally dangerous. The one loses his peace for a time; the other loses his soul for ever. It is better to have a burdened, than a benumbed conscience; it is better to have a scrupulous, than a licentious mind; they are not likely to perish, who are afraid of perishing. But after all, christians, your God is concerned, not only for your safety, but for your happiness; and mauy advantages would arise from your spiritual joy. Jesus is “appointed unto "them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for “ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment “ of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” He has promised another Comforter, who shall abide with you