« ForrigeFortsæt »
my brethren ; I could submit to any suffering either outward or inward for a time could I only be instrumental in rescuing them from the “ vengeance of eternal fire.'
« If it bear fruit, well.” If these means should be crowned with success, and this tree which has long stood barren should at length become useful, the issue would be happy indeed; thy design in planting it here at first and sparing it so long would be answered ; the tree itself would be preserved from the reproach of present barrenness and future destruction, and all my anxiety respecting it, all my toil in digging about it, in pruning and cultivating it would be infinitely rewarded : its fruitfulness hereafter might in some measure compensate for all the injury which it has occasioned to thy vineyard by its barrenness in years past.”
The conversion of a sinner to the living God is an event inconceivably desirable. Thereby glory redounds to each Person in Jehovah, joy is afforded to blessed angels and men, and a foundation is laid for his own happiness through the endless ages of eternity.-cue them from their present delusion, and that ruin which infallibly awaits their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.” Such is the translation which that ingenious divine gives to the same preposition in another instance. Whom I serve from, that is, “after the manner or example of my forefathers. We can by no means suppose that the apostle wished himself to be an eternal outcast from the gracious presence of his Redeemer. This is directly repugnant to that principle of self-love which necessarily belonged to him as a man and a christian ; a principle which christianity does not extinguish but cherishes. Although we are commanded to love our " neighbors as ourselves," neither reason, nor revelation requires us to love our neighbor better than ourselves.
“He that converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” The conversion of an aged sinner is, in a certain sense, still more desirable ; the fears of the righteous are thereby disappointed; the toils, and tears, and anxieties of godly ministers are amply rewarded; the artifices and powers of hell are baffled, and the glories of free grace most illustriously displayed. The forbearance of God is manifested in sparing the sinner so long; his sovereignty in calling him at “the eleventh hour ;' his power
casting the devil from a strong hold” which he had long and securely occupied, also in destroying the force of corruption which had strengihened with age ; the overflowing of his grace in giving a free, a full remission of sins aggravated in their nature and multiplied in their number, in snatching the sinner when tottering on the very verge of bell and " setting him among princes, even the princes of his people. Howbeit, for this cause I obtained mercy,” says the apostle alluding to his advanced age when called by divine grace, and to the impieties of his for. mer life, “that in me first Sesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering for a pattern to them that should afterwards believe on him to life everlasting.”
“ If not then after that thou shalt cut it down.”
« If notwithstanding thy patience in sparing it from year to year, and all the means which by thy direction I have em
ployed, it remains barren, then its destruction is unavoidable; at present it serves only to “cumber thy vineyard;” it yields no advantage to the proprietor, it is no honor either to my diligence or skill as the immediate dresser, and it stands to the real injury of the trees around it.” The damnation of those who go on wilfully, and incorrigibly in sin is inevitable. The moral order of the universe requires that each “transgression receive a just recompence of reward.” The glories of each divine perfection demands that “the wicked be turned into hell;" that the fury of Jehovah go forth against the obstinate, implacable enemy of his government. His forbearance with men in times past, “his good will” in giving them" line upon line,” warning after warning is no security, but it is only preparing them for a more unexpected and awful visitation at last. «The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to us ward; not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. O sinner, the decree shall sooner or later "overflow with righteousness,”and the sword of justice, which has long slumbered, shall ere long awake and avenge the quarrel to the lowest hell; and remember, there will be none to pity thee throughout the universe of God. The Father, “who spared not his own Son' that he might spare thee, "will then laugh at thy calamity;" the Son,
who spared not his own life that he might spare thee;
“ who in the days of his flesh offered up strong cries and tears” for thy deliverance, will then “tread thee in his anger, and with thy blood will stain all his raiinent;" holy angels, who would have cordially rejoiced at thy conversion, who would willingly have conveyed the pleasing tidings from earth to heaven that another child was born into the family of God, and have ministered to thee as “an heir of salvation," these angels will then hasten to be the executioners of thy wrath, and will eternally glory in thy confusion and borror; even ministers of the gospel who are now your
servants for Jesus' sake;" who in the hour of impending judgment stand between an offended God and their offending brethren, deprecating his displeasure and imploring his mercy; who hold the lives of their hearers in some measure dear as their own, and are willing to make any sacrifice of their outward ease or interest in promoting their salvation,these ministers must finally acquiesce in the condemnation of their ungodly hearers. "If not, then, after that thou shalt cut it down :" Nay, so swallowed up will be their feelings as men, in zeal for their master's glory, that they will even bring forward the unprofitable servant, and rouse the sword of justice to perform its office in bis immediate perdition. Animated by the same spirit they will unite in the awful imprecation of the apostle, “ if any man love
not the Lord Jesus Christ," « if he deliberately chooses death rather than life by rejecting the only sacrifice for sin ; if he will by a daring unbelief again and again "tread under foot that body which was crucified,” and that blood which was shed for his redemption, let his choice be given him, “let hiin he anathema, maranatha.
As practical reflections have been occasionally made in the illustration of these verses, I shall only detain you with the following inference, that the destruction of the ungodly is certain, infallibly certain.
Though hand join in hand the wicked shall not be unpunished;" and alas, brethren, are there not some, are there not many such in the midst of us? Suppose that the great Lord of the vineyard should this day pass through this part of his heritage, how many “barren fig-trees” might he bebold; some that have stood ten or twenty, others that have been thirty or forty years under the means of cultivation without any sensible advantage? Has he not appointed one DRESSER and a second and a third to “dig about them,” to use every means which might probably be effectual for rendering them profitable, but where are their appearances of fruit ? “When he looked that they should bring forth grapes, have they not brought forth wild grapes ?” “If the axe was" this moment “ laid to the root” of each barren tree in this vineyard, how many mopuments of wrath must appear? Or if all