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compasses thee round about in all thy paths. Darkness itself cannot cover thee: The night shines as the day before him, and scatters light round about the criminal, that would hide himself from the wrath of God. Ask Jeremy the prophet, and he shall tell thee, that none can hide himself in secret places, where God shall not see him, the God who fills heaven and earth; Jer. xxiii. 24. He shall hunt obstinate sinners from every mountain, and out of the holes of the rocks, for his eyes are upon all their ways; neither their persons, nor their iniquities, can be hid from him.
And as you can never conceal yourselves from the sight and notice of the judge, so neither can you turn your eyes away from him: You must behold his face in vengeance, and endure the distressing sight. The rays of his Majesty in the day of his wrath, shall strike through all the crannies of the darkest den, and pierce the deepest shade. Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see; but they shall see, and be ashamed; Isa. xxvi. 11. And the face of the Lamb must be seen in all its unknown terrors. Rev. i. 7. Behold he comes in the clouds, and every eye shall see him; The guilty creature, and the divine avenger, shall meet eye to eye, though the creature has hid himself under rocks and mountains.
3. These rocks and mountains are designed to represent not only concealment and darkness, by their holes and caverns, but they are known bulwarks of defence, and places of security and shelter, by reason of their strength and thickness. When the prophet would express the safety of the man, who practises righteousness in a vicious age; Isa. xxxii. 16. he says, He shall dwell on high, his place of defence shall be the munitious of rocks. These shall be a bulwark round him for his guard and safety. When sinners therefore flee to the mountains and to the rocks, they may be supposed to see a thick covering, or a shield of defence, to secure them, where the strokes of divine anger shall not break through and reach them: They trust to the solid protection of the rocks, and the strength of the mountains to guard them; but these, alas, can yield no shelter from the stroke of the arm of God. Should the rocks, Oh sinner! attempt to befriend thee, and surround thee with their thickest fortification, his wrath would cleave them asunder, and pierce thee to the soul with greater case, than thou canst break through a paperwall with the battering engines of war. Ask the prophet Nahum, who was acquainted with the majesty of God, and he shall teli thee, how it throws down the mountain, and tears the rock in pieces: When his fury is poured out like fire, the mountains quake at him, the hills melt, the earth is burned at his presence, with all that dwell therein. He that has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet;
what mountain can stand before his indignation, and where is the
4. Rocks and mountains falling upon us, are instruments of sudden and overwhelming death. When sinners therefore call to the rocks and mountains to fall upon them, and cover them, they are supposed to endeavour to put an end to their own beings by some overwhelming destruction, that they may not live to feel and endure the resentments of an affronted God, and an abused Saviour. Though they are just raised to life, they would fain die again; but God, who calls the dead from their graves, will forbid the rocks and the mountains, and every creature, to lend singers their aid to destroy themselves. Sinners, in that dreadful day, shall seek death, but death shall flee from them. Their natures are now made immortal, and the fall of rocks and mountains cannot crush them to death. They must live to sustain the weight of divine wrath, which is heavier than rocks and mountains.
The life which God hath now given to men in this mortal state, may be given up again, or thrown away by the daring im piety of self-murder; and they may make many creatures instruments of their own destruction; but the life which the Son of God shall give them, when he calls them from the dead, is everlasting; they cannot resign their existence and immortality, they cannot part with it, nor can any creature take it from them.They would rather die, than see God in his majesty, or the Lamb arrayed in bis robes of judgment; but the wretches are immor talized to punishment, by the long abused majesty and power of God: And they must live for ever to learn what it is to despise the authority of a God, and to abuse the grace of a Saviour.Their doom is everlasting burnings: They have no rest day nor night, the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever and ever in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb Rev. xiv. 10, 11.
Thus have we considered those huge and bulky beings, the rocks and the mountains, in all their vast and mighty figures and appearances, with all their clefts, and dens, and caverns for
shelter and concealment, with all their fortification and massy thickness for defence, and with all their power to crush and destroy mankind, and yet we find them utterly insufficient to hide, cover, or protect guilty creatures in that great day of the wrath of God and the Lamb.
Reflections on the foregoing discourse.-I. "How strangely do all the appearances of Christ to sinners, in the several seasons and dispensations of his grace, differ from that last great and solemn appearance, which to them, will be a dispensation of final vengeance?" He visited the world in divine visions of old, even from the day of the sin of Adam, and it was to reveal mercy to sinful man, and he sometimes assumed the majesty of God, to let the world know he was not to be trifled with. He visited the earth at kis incarnation: How lowly was his state !How full of grace his ministry! Yet he then gave notice of this day of vengeance, when he should appear in his own, and his Father's most awful glories.
He visits the nations now with the word of salvation, he appears in the glass of his gospel, and in the ordinances of his sanctuary, as a Saviour whose heart melts with love, and in the language of his tenderest compassions, and of his dying groans, he invites sinners to be reconciled to an offended God: He appears as a Lamb made a sacrifice for sin, and as a minister of his Father's mercy, offering and distributing pardons to criminals. But when he visits the world, as a final Judge, how solemn and illustrious will that appearance be! How terrible his countenance to all those who have refused to receive him as a Saviour? Behold, he cometh in flaming fire, with ten thousand of his angels, to render vengeance to them that resisted -his grace, and disobeyed the invitation of his gospel; 2 Thess. i. 7.
Time was when the Father sent forth his Son not to condemn the world, but that through him the world might have life; John iii. 17. But the time is coming, when God shall send him arrayed with majesty and with righteous indiguation, to condemn the rebellious world, and inflict upon them the pains of eternal death. Hast thou seen him, Oh my soul! in the discoveries of his mercy? Fly to him with all the wings of faith and love, with all the speed of desire and joy fly to him, receive his grace, and accept of his salvation, that when the day of the wrath of the Lamb shall appear, thou mayest behold his countenance without terror and confusion.
II. "How very different will the thoughts of sinners be in that day from what they are at present? How different their wishes and their iuclinations?" And that with regard to this one ,terror which my text describes, viz. that they shall address theiriselves to the rocks and mountains for shefter, and fly into the
dens and caverns of the earth for concealment and safety. Let us survey this in a few particulars :
Sinners, whose looks were once lofty and disdainful, whose eyes were exalted in pride, their mouths set against the heavens and their hearts haughty and full of scorn, they shall be humble to the dust of the earth, they shall creep into the hiding-places of the moles and the bats, and thrust their heads into holes,. and caverns, and dens of desolation, at the appearance of God, their Creator, in flaming fire, and the Son of God, their. Judge; for he is the avenger of his own and his Father's injur-. ed honours.
Sinners, who were once fond of their idols and their sensual delights, who made idols to themselves of every agreeable creature, and gave it that place in their hearts which belongs only to God, they shall be horribly confounded in that day, when God shall appear in his majesty to shake the earth to the centre, and to burn the surface of it with all its bravery. This is nobly described by the prophet Isaiah, chapter the second, from 10-21. In that day shall a man cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made, each one for himself to worship, to the moles, and to the bats, to go into the clefts of the rock, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
Sinners, who once could not tell how to spend a day without gay company, those sons and daughters of mirth, who turned their midnights into noon, with the splendour of their lamps, and the rich and shining furniture of their palaces; those noisy companions of riot, who made the streets of the city resound with their midnight revels, they shall now fly to the solitary caverns of the rocks, and would be glad to dwell there in darkness and silence for ever, if they might but avoid the wrath of a provoked God, and the countenance of an abused Saviour. They would fain be shut up for ever from day-light, lest they should see the face of an almighty enemy, whose name and honour have been reproached in their songs of lewd jollity and profaueness.
Sinners, who once were fond of liberty in the wildest sense and could not bear that any restraints should be laid upon their persons or their wishes, who never could endure the thought of a confinement to their closets for one half hour to converse with God, or with their own souls there, they now call aloud to the rocks and the mountains to immure them round, as a refuge from the eye of their Judge. They were once perpetually roving abroad, and gadding through all the gay scenes of sensuality, in quest of new and flowery pleasures, but now they beg to be imprisoned for ever in the dens and caves of the earth; the deepest
and most dismal caves are their most ardent wishes, that they might never see the countenance of their divine avenger, nor feel the weight of his hand.
Sinners, who heretofore, thought themselves, and their deeds of darkness, secure enough from the eye of God, and from the strokes of his justice, while they revelled in their common habitations; those who, even under the open sky, could defy the Almighty, could laugh at his threatenings, and mock the prophecies of his vengeance, now they can find no caverns deep or dark enough to hide them from his sight; his lightnings penetrate the hardest rocks and shine into the deepest solitudes: There is no screen or shelter thick and strong enough to stand between God and them, and to cover and shield them from his thunder. They call now to the mountains and the rocks to be an eternal screen; but the rocks and the mountains are deaf to their cry then shall they remember, with unknown regret and anguish those days of grace when Christ Jesus, who is now their Judge, offered himself to become a screen to them, and a defence from the anger, of God, their Creator: But they rejected this offered grace. He would have been the rock of their safety, where they should have found refuge from the fiery threatenings of the broken law, and the majesty of an offended God. The Father himself hath appointed him for this kind office to repenting sinners; and perhaps he gave Moses a type or emblem of it, when he commanded himself to hide in the clefts of the rock, to secure him from destruction, while the burning blaze of his glory passed by; Ex. xxxiii. 22. And Isaiah the prophet had foretold, that this Jesus should be as the shadow of a great rock; Is. xxxii. 2. to shelter them from the beams of the wrath of God; but they refused this blessing, they renounced this refuge; and now they find there is no other rock sufficient to become a shelter from the stroke of his almighty arm, or a sufficient shadow from the burning vengeance.
Sinners, who once over-rated their flesh and blood, and loved it with infinite fondness, who treated their fleshly appetites with excessive nicety and elegance, and affected a humorous de licacy in every thing round about them, they would now gladly ereep into the mouldy caverns of the rocks, they would be glad to hide, and defile themselves in the dark and noisome grottos of the earth, and squeeze their bodies into the rough and narrow clefts, to shield themselves from the indignation of him that sits upon the throne, and of the Lamb.
Those who once were so tender of this mortal life and limbs, and could not think of bearing the least hardship for the sake of virtue and piety, are now wishing to have those delicate limbs of theirs crushed by the fall of rocks and mountains: They wish earnestly to have their lives and their souls destroyed for