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we obey our heavenly, yea, and our earthly King's com. mands, and deliver our own souls by warning the wicked of impending ruin.
Without any apology for my plainness, I shall therefore endeavour, first, to convince the wicked man both of his wickedness and danger : And then conclude by giving such directions as will be a means (through divine mercy) either to save his soul, or deliver my
I. I shall endeavour to convince the wicked man both of his wickedness and danger.
It is agreed by all divines that the wicked man never repents till he is convinced of his wickedness; and David tells us that he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.” (Psalm xxxvi. 2.) For, till then, he thinks it is delightful, fashionable, profitable, and not very perilous. The Preacher has then but one way to take in order to convince him, and that is, to lay before him, out of the word of God, the picture of his wickedness in such true colours, that he may be constrained to say, I am the man. Then, and not till then, will he loath himself, discover his imminent danger, and begin to flee from the wrath to come. Therefore, that each may know whether he is the man, let him attentively consider whether his conscience does not plead guilty to one of the eight following marks of “ wickedness ;" for if but one of these be seen upon him, he is the man.
1. A numerous tribe, among which the wicked man is often found, is that of practical atheists. Thousands there are, (it is to be feared,) who, by gross ignorance, shameful neglect of instruction, and abominable contempt of godliness, open the way for all those that go the downward road, and are, as it were, in the front of the battle, and next to the prince of darkness. Their heart is darkened by the mists of pride and the clouds of presumption, and they are such utter strangers to their want of spiritual light and divine grace, that they seldom or never call upon God for help with any solemnity.
The unhappy Heathenish families who are of this stamp meet regularly every day to eat, drink, and make provision for the flesh ; but how seldom do they meet to read and pray, to seek, and partake together of the bread of angels, and the water of life. You will find almost as much godliness among the wild Indians as among these practical Atheists. But why should I call them Atheists? They have many gods. The world is their god, pleasure is their god, vanity is their god, money is their god, their belly is their god : To some or other of these idols they sacrifice their hearts and their time. As for the God of heaven, the great and eternal Jehovah, they put him off with a careless attendance on his public worship on Sunday morning, if the weather suits them ; and it is well if to this they add sometimes the babbling over of the Lord's Prayer and the Creed, which, after all, in the manner in which they do it, is no better than a solemn mockery of the Saviour, whom they constantly crucify afresh. Do you belong to such a Heathenish, prayerless family, and are you hurried down the stream of its profaneness ? If you do, suffer me to deliver my soul by telling you, that you are the very first person to whom
am bound to say, “Thou shalt surely die.' Read your sentence in Psalm lxxix. 6: The Lord will pour out his wrath upon the Heathen that have not known him, and upon the kingdoms that call not upon his name,'
What! Shall the indignation of the Lord fall upon prayerless families among the Heathens, and shall it pass by the nominally Christian, but prayerless family, to which you belong ? No, no; the Judge of all the earth will do right, he will repay you to your face. “Verily,' says the Son of God himself to those who call themselves Israelites or Christians, and are
• Verily, verily, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for you.' (Matt. xi. 21.) O repent and turn; turn and live; for why should you fall into the hands of the living God, and know him a consuming fire to the profane ?
2. The wicked is often known, to others and to him.
self, by his injustice, oppression, cruelty, deceit, and unfair dealing. Did you ever make a prey of the poor and helpless, as the stronger beasts use to do of the weaker? Are you like the horse-leech, crying, “Give, give,' still wanting more profit, and never thinking you have enough? Do you take more care to lay up treasures upon earth than in heaven? Have you got the unhappy secret of distilling silver out of the poor man's brows, and gold out of the tears of helpless widows, and friendless orphans ? Or, which is rather worse, do you directly or indirectly live by poisoning others, by encouraging the immoderate use of those refreshments, which, taken to excess, disorder the reason, ruin the soul, and prove no better than slow poison to the body? If your business calls you to buy or sell, do you use falsehood, do you equivocate, do you exaggerate or conceal the truth, in order to impose upon your neighbour, and make your profit of his necessity or credulity? If any one of these marks be found upon you, it is enough ; God's word singles you out, and draws you to the bar of divine justice to hear your doom in the text: “The wicked shall surely die ;' — or that more particular sentence in Isaiah xxx. 12: · Because you trust in oppression, perverseness, and deceit,' saith the Lord, “this iniquity shall be as a breach ready to fall, swel. ling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh sud. denly at an instant.' O see your danger, repent, and make restitution! Why should you meet the unjust steward in hell, when you may yet follow Zaccheus into heaven?
3. But if you have always been free from these two marks of a wicked man, are you equally free from ano. ther, that is not less sure than either of the former ? There is a fearful sin, which has in it no profit, no pleasure, no, not sensual sweetness enough to bait the hook of temptation. The only enticement to it is the diaboli. cal disposition of the wicked man, and the horrid pride he takes in cutting a figure among the children of Belial. I speak of oaths and curses,—those arrows shot from the string of a hellish heart, and the bow of a Luciferian tongue, against heaven itself: Those are some of the sparks of hell-fire, which now and then come out of the throat of the wicked man. Do they ever come out of thine ? A year ago I laid before you the horror of that sin, and besought you by the tender mercies of the Lord Jesus Christ, to leave it to Satan and his angels, and to act no more the part, I shall not say of a wicked man, but of an incarnate devil. But have you strictly complied with the solemn request ? Has not heaven been pierced with another fiery dart ? Have not good men, or good angels, (if any attend you still,) shuddered at those imprecations, which you have used, perhaps without remorse? Has not the Prince of darkness smiled, and hell exulted, to hear that some of their hideous sounds proceed yet out of your ungodly mouth. If your conscience pleads guilty here, and you have not wept bitterly, and obtained pardon for the black transgression, you are the wicked ;' you shall surely die, unless lears of repentance speedily flow, and the blood of a dying Saviour wash out the hellish stain. To you it is that David speaks in Psalm cix. 18: · As he clothed himself with cursing as with a garment, it shall come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.' O will you still pull down this fearful curse upon your head, and entail the Almighty's judgments upon this guilty land ? Will you die for the mere pleasure of cursing and dying ? Merciful Saviour, forbid it! Pluck these brands out of the fire, and quench them in thy blood.
4. But, perhaps your conscience bears you witness that you are not a swearing Christian, or rather a swear. ing infidel. Well: But does not the threatening of the text light upon you on some other account? To instance in a fourth particular : Are you clear in the point of adultery, fornication, or uncleanness? Does not the guilt of some vile sin, which you have wickedly indulged in time past, and perhaps are still indulging from time to time, mark you for the member of a harlot, and not the member of Christ; for a child of Belial, and not for a child of the God of purity? Do not you kindle the wrath of heaven against yourself and your country, as the men and women of Gomorrah did against themselves and the other cities of the plain ? If you cherish the sparks of wantonness, as they did, how can you but be made with them to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire ? And do not flatter yourself with the vain hope, that your sin is not so heinous as theirs. If it be less in degree, is it not infinitely greater in its aggravating circumstances ? Were these poor Canaanites Christians ? Had they Bibles and Ministers ? Had they Sermons and Sacraments? Did they ever vow, as you have done, to renounce the devil, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh ? Did they ever hear of the Son of God sweating great drops of blood, in an agony of prayer, to quench the fire of human corruption ? Now, you have heard of this ; you profess to believe it; and yet you sin on, both against the heavenly light and the heavenly blood. O what horrible guilt do you bring upon yourself, and upon the whole land! “Know you not that your body is,' or ought to be, the temple of God ? Now, if
any defile the temple of God, him will God destroy.' (1 Cor. vi. 18.) O acknowledge your guilt and danger, and by deep repentance prevent infallible destruction.
5. Some will, perhaps, secretly triumph here, as the Pharisee once did, because they are not as other' wicked 'men, unjust, extortioners, adulterers,' and unclean; but, suppose the dart of sin has not wounded their breasts, are they in a better case if they run the sword of intemperance through their own bowels ? Gluttony and drunkenness are the two idols to which many sacrifice the marrow and fatness of the land, together with their time and strength. He is a glutton, who eats barely for the pleasure of eating ; he is a drunkard who drinks for the bare pleasure of drinking, though he should be so "mighty to mingle strong drink,' as not to discompose either his reason or constitution. The men of the old world were eating and drinking,' says our Lord, (as if that had been the end of their creation,) when God swept them away by the flood : The Israelites had yet in their teeth the meat which they had wantonly desired,