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make the enquiry, what will the issue be? Will my son accuse me, or must I be a witness against him? How terrible an office! To bear my testimony for the condemnation of one whom I tenderly loved, of one whose soul I would have died to deliver ! I know I shall not dare to interpose in his favour, and plead the cause of my Saviour's enemy; or if I were so far transported by the fondness of a Father, I should plead in vain. Sooner, much sooner, would the Mountains be removed for me, or the earth carried out of its place*, than the sentence of heaven, its final solemn sentence would be repealed. And if it must not be repealed, how shall I bear to hear it pronounced, to see it executed ; to hear my own child separated by an everlasting curse from the presence of the Lord, to see the ministers of divine wrath hurrying away the helpless creature, and dragging him down to unquenchable burnings? Oh that, if no shelter must be allowed him, God would hide me in the grave till this tremendous scene of his indignation be overpast ; lest the anguish of a parent mingle itself with the joys of a rising saint, and to me overcast the triumphs of the day !” Hardly can a good man refrain from such sentiments as these, though some of them be dictated by passion, rather than by reason.
After this survey of the reflections, which such a sad event might naturally produce, I would proceed to draw some inferences from it; yet I cannot but delay them for a few moments, in compassion to the sorrows of those pious parents, if any such be amongst us, whose case this bas been. Are there
Are there any of you, christians, that experimentally know the anguish of such thoughts as these ? Any of you, that have thus been mourning over your children, when God has on a sudden called them to his bar, with all their follies and sins on their head, without giving you any probable hope, that his grace had first recalled them to himself, and washed their souls in the blood of a Redeemer ?
It grieves me, my friends, to have been forced by a sense of duty, as I have now been, so largely to represent a scene, which must call up your sorrows afresh. But permit me to remind you, that, even in this dreadful circumstance, The consolations of God are not smallt. Your hopes in your children have been sadly blasted ; but you have hopes in God, your heavenly Father, which nothing can shake. You have reason to fear, their souls are lost ; but is it nothing to you to reflect, that your own are given you as a prey? And that though your house be not so with God, as in this respect you could most affectionately wish it, Yet he has made with you an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure*.
* Job avii. 4.
+ Job xv. 11.
As to these unhappy creatures who are now lost, you have indeed Laboured in vain, and spent your strength for nought; but still your word is with the Lord, and your reward with your Godt. and you, like the faithful minister, may hope, that you shall be unto God, A sweet savour of Christ, not only in them that are saved, but even in them that perishs. And as to the final interview, which appears so grievous in the prospect, remember, that you are not to carry along with you the fond ițistincts of nature into a world of perfection and glory. All your passions will then be refined; your wills so entirely resolved into the will of God, and your souls so completely satisfied with his presence and his love, that no creature-regards will be able to disturb their sacred serenity. You will look on the whole assembly of the enemies of God with so deep an apprehension of the ma. Jignity of their character, and of the wisdom and equity of that divine sentence by which they fall, that you will not distinguish any of them from the rest, by the sentiments of a painful compassion. Nor will your concern for them, who now lie nearest to your heart, prevent your concurrence in that song
of triumph, so proper to the solemnities of that awful day : Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighly; just and true are thy ways thou king of saintss. In the mean time, let the expectation of so happy an improvement of your temper, moderate the excess of your present sorrows; and when they are moderated aright, the remainder of them will be a Sadness of the countenance, by which the heart may be made betterll.
II. I proceed to draw some inferences from the sad survey we have been taking, of the pious parent's reflections on the death of a wicked child. And hence we may infer, 1. That wicked children are acting a very cruel and unnatural
part, while they are exposing their pious parents to such reflections as these.
I say it with a sorrowful heart, but so it is, that I fear there are several of you, my young friends, who live in the neglect of your own souls, and whose consciences will presently charge it upon you. How soon that awful Being, whom you now forget, may Cut off the number of your months in the midste, and add
* 2 Sam, xxiii, 5. Eccles, vii. 3.
1 2 Cor. ü. 15.
§ Rev. xv.3.
* Isa, xlix. 4.
Job xxi 21.
you to the number of the dead, you know not; but this is cer, tain, that if you die as you live, and your parents survive the stroke, they will feel the weight of these terrible reflections; and even now they cannot but fear them. Doubtless, if they be present here, their hearts are bleeding whilst I speak, and they are looking upon you with unknown anguish. And does not the thought grieve you, and does it not shame you? Ungrateful creatures! Are these your returns for all their bounty, for all their tenderness; to be a sword in their bowels, and to pierce their very hearts? Alas, they did not expect such scenes as these, when you hung upon them with your infant arms; when you answered their fond smiles, and lisped out the first broken accents of endearment. I wonder how you can bear the thought; I wonder you are not ashamed to be conversing with them daily, and daily receiving favours from them; while you are behaving in such a manner, that, the better they love you, the more they must be afflicted and terrified for you. Oh, that you would have compassion on them! Or, if this will not move you, Oh that you would have compassion on yourselves! For your own interest is still much more nearly concerned than theirs. Which leads me to add, 2. We may farther infer, that a dreadful counterpart to those
reflections will be the portion of the ungodly child.
Alas, sinners, if your pious parents weep thus for you, how bitterly will you Weep for yourselves! For if these things be done in a green tree, what will be done in the dry*! If they, the children of God, perhaps even then under the smiles of their heavenly Father, and in the near views of their own complete salvation, may utter their griefs in such melting accents, what agonies will take hold of your hearts, when you are actually entered on those seats of horror and despair, to which the righteous vengeance of God has doomed you? It is impossible fully to describe them; yet something relating to them we may certainly infer from what has been already said. Give me leave to offer to your view, if peradventure, through the agency of divine grace, to have heard of these reflections may be the happy means of leading you to escape them.
Your parents now reflect, on the disappointment of their expectations from you: But Oh, how heavy will the disappointment of your own hopes and expectations then sit upon your souls ! How will you then bear it, sinners, when you see all your
Luke xxiii. 28, 31.
enjoyments and all your prospects blasted in a moment, and irrecoverably lost?
It is true, you are Lifting up your souls unto vanity *; but these vanities are your
them with the utmost vigour and intenseness of mind, and have a great many fond and chimerical schemes for years of pleasure and happiness yet to come. But if God cut you off in the prime of your life, and in the very flower of your hopes, In that day all your thoughts will perish t. And how will you be confounded to see all the beautiful and enchanted scenes, that now charm you to the neglect of God and religion, vanished like the shadowy glories of a dream, and your souls left naked and destitute, upon an inhospitable shore, where, in all your indigence and distress, there will be no eye to pity you, no hand to relieve you!
And it will be so much the more dreadful, as you will go down to these melancholy regions with your appetites and your passions warm about you, and by frequentindulgence strengthened and inflamed; so that, for want of their proper objects, they will prey upon your heart, and an insatiable thirst will continue, while you will not have one drop of satisfaction or comfort. Nay, I may add, that as, in these unripened days, you have had little experience of the vanities and disappointments of life, and have entertained a great many fond and extravagant hopes of what you would never have found in it, your regret, in being cut off from them, will not be in proportion to what they really were, but to what your error and folly imagined them to have been.
Your pious parents will reflect upon it with unutterable anguish, “ that your souls are for ever lost.” But how much more sensibly will you yourselves feel it! They, in their present situation on earth, can have but a very faint and imperfect no. tion of the horrors of the infernal prison; for to those we may accommodate the language of the apostle on a very different occasion, and say, that neither has eye seen them, nor ear heard them, nor has it entered into the most terrified heart fully to conceive thems. But how will the change affect you, when you are just entered on those realms of woe! when you look round about you, and think, this is my last abode, my only remaining inheritance ? Alas, how will your hearts be overwhelmed, when you compare that place of torments with all the cheerful scenes of the world from whence you came; where you had been sur
* Psal. xxiv. 4. VOL. II.
+ Psal. cxlvi. 4.
11 Cor. ü. .
rounded with so many delights; where it had been your chief care to make Provision for the flesh*; and where you had, perhaps, spent your days in mirth, till in a moment you went down to the gravet! when, instead of the light of the sun,you see nothing but the flames of the divine indignation ; when, instead of all that soothed and regaled your senses, you feel the neverdying worm, and exchange the gay and agreeable companions that now surround you, for the society of devils and damned spirits!
I appeal to your consciences; Can your hearts endure, or your hands be strong f, in such a circumstance as this? You, that are so impatient of every little anxiety of life; you, that cannot bear the fatigues of duty, nor the restraints of religion, how will you bear the agonies of damnation? How will you live in those doleful regions, where joy and cheerfulness are everlasting strangers, and nothing remains but Weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth $?
Were this to be your case only for a thousand, or a hundred years, how miserable would you be! But Oh, how much more miserable, when you think, that it is an Everlasting destruction ||! when your thoughts weary themselves in search of some distant point, where a glimmering of hope may break in upon you, and you go onward, and onward, and onward still, and find nothing, but Blackness of darkness for ever ! when you feel yourselves plunged in a boundless ocean of distress, without a bottom, and without a shore? “Must The smoke of my torinents ascend up for ever and ever **? Must I lie in this infernal Prison, till I have paid the uttermost farthing +t? Surely then I must bear Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish 11, as long as an imınortal soul can sustain it, as an eternal God can inflict it."
It is almost insupportable, to think that this should be the case of any of our fellow-creatures. How much more insupportable must it then be, to feel that it is your own!
Again, your pious parents will lament, “ that all their kind endeavours for your salvation were in, vain:" But with what aggravated sorrow and despair will you then reflect on those endeavours, and on all the other religious advantages you enjoyed!
“ Alas!” will you then be ready to say, “ If there could be any thought of comfort in the midst of this dark gloom of