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rors sits on his throne: the survivers scarcely breathe, and dare not think of the future: all is still and cold.
Such horrible spectacles are often exhibited; they freeze the blood; but constrain us to cry out, “ 0 my soul! come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.”
2. But do all sinners die thus ? No! there are some who, after the most careless and profane lives, leave the world with the most rapturous expressions of triumph upon their lips. They have an air of exultation, when we would desire to see tears; they talk of joys unspeakable, when we would rather witness the sighings of the contrite heart; they depart full of joy and confidence; they are often eulogized, canonized by their friends; but, alas ! many
who thus die are sentenced by God to perdition! and could we follow the soul into the eternal world, we should hear from the darkness in which it vanishes, instead of its expiring raptures, the shrieks of surprise and terror, and the overpowering accents of the messenger of vengeance.” Think not that in speaking thus, we are uncharitable; we decide not concerning particular individuals : God has judged them, and their doom will be announced to us at the decisive day. But that many are thus deceived, we know from the lives of thousands, who, after expressing all these raptures, were unexpectedly restored to health, and too unequivocally proved by their walk and conversation, that these joys were a delusion; that they were utter strangers to regenerating grace; and that had they died even in the midst of their transports, their souls with equal surprise and horror would have found themselves in the world of despair. We know it from the want of the Christian graces, of deep humility, of self-loathing
for their past sins, and of unfeigned repentance; of a holy self-distrust and jealousy over their own hearts. We know it from the plain testimony of the word of God; which in many places, and in various modes, by parable and direct assertion, teaches us that many, who confidently expected to enter into the kingdom of glory, shall be addressed by the Saviour in those terrible words : “ Depart from me; I know
“ We frequently,” says the excellent Dr. Scott, * hear of persons that have lived strangers to evangelical religion and the power of godliness, dying with composure, resignation, and even triumph ; and such instances are brought forward as an objection to the necessity of faith and a devoted life. But what do they prove? what evidence is there that such men are saved ? Is it not far more likely that they continued to the end under the power of ignorance and self conceit; that Satan took care not to disturb them; and that God gave them over to a strong delusion, and to perish with a lie in their right hand ? Men who have neglected religion all their lives, or have habitually for a length of years disgraced an evangelical profession, being when near death visited by pious persons, sometimes obtain a sudden and extraordinary measure of peace and joy, and die in this frame. This should in general be considered as a bad sign : for deep humiliation, yea, distress, united with some trembling hope in God's mercy through the gospel, is far more suited to their case, and more likely to be the effect of spiritual illumination. But when a mere visit from a minister of any sect, a few general questions, and a prayer with or without the sacrament, calm the mind of a dying person whose life has been unsuitable to the Chris.
tian profession; no doubt, could we penetrate the veil, we should find him meeting with an awful doom.”
We have not time to illustrate the various causes contributing to this delusion. Among them are a false system of religion, leading to unscriptural hopes of divine mercy. We have seen that erroneous views of divine truth sometimes produce fear in the pious : it as often causes presumption in the ungodly. A sanguine temperament under the exaltation of fever ; the vain flatteries of self love ; counterfeit graces, having some resemblance to real ones; these are other causes producing this lamentable effect.
3. There is a third class of the impenitent, who die with a stupid unconcern, and with the insensibility of brutes. They show neither agony nor joy; " they have no bands in their death.” Like Hume, they can jest and laugh when just about to plunge into eternity. I know not whether to call such conduct folly or frenzy; this gayety is the sport and jesting of the malefactor, as he advances to execution; is the dancing of the prisoner in his chains; a spectacle which fills the soul with horror and anguish.
It is a dreadful price at which this fatal peace in sin, even when death approaches, has been bought. Reason, conscience, the incitements of grace, the impressions of early education, the lessons that were nourished by the prayers, and watered by the tears, of parents : these and much more have been immolated in order to obtain the awful privilege of dying like a brute; and of forgetting in the moment of dissolution their God, their Redeemer, their duty, and that eternity which will so soon burst upon them. The heart shrinks with horror at the tranquillity of such persons. It is a sight far more appalling than even the agonies of the despairing sinner who sees
no hope in his last hours. Could angels weep, their tears would flow in contemplating the carelessness and insensibility of such undone, ruined beings.
I have not time to dwell on the causes of this insensibility. Sometimes it is the result of judicial hardness: God has said to conscience and to the Holy Spirit, “Let him alone.”
Let him alone.” Sometimes it is an affectation: they are acting a part; the heart is racked while the deportment is calm; but they resolve, like many a criminal on earth, to go decently to that execution at which they inwardly shudder. Sometimes it is from a belief, that death in reality is not near; frequently from a strange persuasion, which is evident in all their conversation, although perhaps they would not explicitly avow it, that their belief or disbelief altered the nature of truth. But let
66 them know that though heaven, hell, and eternity, are blotted out of their mind, they do not therefore cease to be realities: they will find at last to their shame and confusion, that their infidelity made no change in the nature of things; that though they were á deceived, God was not mocked."
2 THESSALONIANS i. 10.
When he shall come to be glorified.
What a difference between the first and the second advent of the Redeemer! In his incarnation, he appeared in the deepest humiliation, “ lower than his angels,” breathing only peace and love, shedding
, tears over our miseries, and impatient to pour out his blood for our salvation. But when he shall come again, the indwelling Godhead will no longer be hidden by the veil of humanity; the universe shall be
l hold and acknowledge its Maker; the heavens shall flee from his presence; the earth shall be consumed, and before his awful judgment-throne all mankind shall stand; and all the intelligent creation shall behold him with admiration and wonder, while he confers upon his children the crown of everlasting glory, and sentences the pale, trembling, agonized despisers of his grace to everlasting despair. One great reason for the appointment of a judgment-day, was thus to manifest the glory of Jesus. This day was not necessary, in order to decide the destinies of