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1. The Principle of that judgment, into which you must be brought, and of which you are so solemnly warned. It will proceed upon the principle, that youthful sins are offensive to God. Even from the youngest among us, God requires a loving and obedient heart. He addresses you in words of peculiar kindness, saying—“ I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me. And can all this be forgotten by him ? Can he think lightly of self-will, passion, lying, or uncleanness, in those to whom his most special invitations are sent ? No, no ! If he “ remember the sins of our youth ” o alone, we are undone.- Another principle of that judgment will be; that youthful sins actually disqualify you for the enjoyment of heaven. Look at the giddy follower of feasts and races, of drunken revels and of violent sports! If it be possible, put him into that heavenly world-among prophets, saints, angels! Is he not manifestly out of bis element ? Why, he cannot endure the short-lived seriousness of an earthly sabbath! What then must an everlasting sabbath be ? No-the judgment decides upon him, and upon every “ lover of pleasure"- Unfit for the kingdom of God!3 Not meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light ! 4-Consider, further,
2. The Manner of that judgment. It can only be known from God's express word : I will therefore refer you to two distinct Scripture statements, which ought to “ make both the ears of every one that heareth them to tingle. "- One of them is the description, given by the Judge himself, of what will take place “ when the Son of Man shall come in his glory.”. Read it at your leisure ; and then plead for sinful 1 Prov. viii. 17. Psalm xxv. 7. 3 Luke ix. 62. 4 Col. i. 12.
5 Matt. xxy, 31-46.
indulgences, if you can !—The other is a prophetic vision, in which St. John witnessed, by anticipation, what we must all behold in reality hereafter. saw the dead, small and great, stand before God ; and the books were opened : and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the books, according to their works . . And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire." 1 To that awful scene, O sinner, thou must be brought : and I shall meet thee there. Ah! I already see the Judge! I behold him questioning thee-he is examining his books—and there it is written, that thou didst follow his ironical advice ! Oh what woe—but stop! before the sentence is pronounced, let me tell you of
3. The Remedy against that judgment. This, you perceive, is not in the text : but the blessed Gospel supplies it; and it is my glad office to set it forth, that you may hear, believe it, and live.
say not- Abstain from all sin ;' it is now too late for that! nor• Make atonement for the sins of youth, by the virtues of riper years;' that is impossible! No, but—Come to Christ, your future Judge, but now gracious Saviour.' In earnest prayer, ask of him a free pardon--a ney heart—the favour of God-his sanctifying Spirit. All these his blood has bought ; and they shall be given to all who seek them. Turn then your back on sin and destruction. With a repentance not to be repented of, ” 2 “ ask the way to Zion, with your face thitherward, saying, Come, and let me join myself to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.”
1 Rev. xx. 12–15. 2 2 Cor. vii, 10. 3 Jer. 1. 5.
GENESIS xviii. 27.And Abraham answered and said,
Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes !
“ The cities of the plain ” had at length filled up the measure of their iniquities : God's forbearance was at an end ; and the angels of vengeance had actually set out for the guilty spot. Abraham, “ the friend of God,” receives this token of the Divine regard, that he is previously informed of the Divine purpose. He is deeply interested by the awful communication; for in that devoted place lives his nephew Lot, with his whole family. Without delay, therefore, and with the most affectionate concern,
" Abraham drew near and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked ?” Not content with this, he adds" Wilt thou not spare the places for the righteous that are therein ?"
From this passage in the history of Abraham, many instructive lessons may be learned.—Let it teach you,
I. THE TRUE POSTURE FOR A SINNER, AT THE THRONE OF GRACE.- He must lie low, and aim high.
You see this in the behaviour of Abraham on the present occasion. Though honoured by a fresh token of the Lord's confidential friendship, he has
1. Low thoughts of himself. He cannot forget who and what he is : “ I am but dust and ashes !"
The expression is singular. It alludes, I think, first, to the Meanness of his Origin. What was Abraham-what are all men-but “ dust ?” 66 The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground ”l-of the very
meanest material. And shall a creature, so formed, intrude into the presence of the great God ? of Him, before whom Angels, “ that are greater in
power and might,” veil their faces ? If we do at all “ draw near,” surely it must be with the most lowly reverence. “ Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God : for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth ; therefore let thy words be few."-But this expression of Abraham may allude, secondly, to the Corruption of his Nature. “ Dust” is what God made it: but • ashes” have had a value, which is now departed from them. Thus man, however mean, was yet not offensive, till he “ corrupted his way
» 3 before God. Of this fallen race was Abraham ; nay, “all we like sheep have gone astray"__have forgotten and provoked the Lord have lost the little value which we originally possessed, and are fit only to be cast out with abhorrence. Hence, like Abraham, we must entreat—" Oh let not my Lord be angry!” and must be brought to feel, that, had we not an express warrant, it would be the most intolerable arrogance for us, vile transgressors, to“ take upon us to speak unto the Lord.”-Yet, with all this self-abasement, Abraham has also
2. High thoughts of God : high thoughts, first, of his Equity ; “ The Judge of all the earth,” he is persuaded, must and “will do right.” Any other sup
i Gen, ii. 7. ? Eccles. v. 2. 3 Gen. vi. 12. • Isa. liii. 6.
position, indeed, were an affront to the Lord. And therefore, brethren, when you ask of him any favour, rest assured of this, that, whatever the Lord shall do, will be rightly done ; though it may be so done, as to mortify your ignorant self-love. • The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” But, secondly, let Abraham teach you also to entertain equally high thoughts of his Mercy. Be not backward to ask of God, what you are unable to claim. Abraham pleads, not only for righteous Lot, but for wicked Sodom. Why should any favour be shewn unto her? He can assign no equitable ground for ithe asks it as a mere unmerited gift ; but he asks it, in full confidence that the request will not displease the Lord.
And “ such trust have we also, through Christ, to God-ward.” He is “the God of all
grace "-more ready to hear, than we to pray: as his majesty is, so is his mercy.
Again, this history exhibits
II. THE GENEROUS CHARACTER OF TRUE GODLINESS.-For whose welfare does Abraham make this urgent intercession ? Two parties were included in it, neither of whom had very greatly deserved such kindness at his hand.
1. Lot his Nephew, though not named, had (we may suppose) the foremost place in his good wishes. He was a pious person; and “ wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked ?" Yet there had been a selfishness in Lot's former conduct toward Abraham, which, in a heart less under Divine influence, might have weakened, if not destroyed, bis uncle's affection. Moreover, the nephew had chosen, for the sake of mere temporal advantage, to take up his abode in the 1 Psalm cxlv. 17. 2 2 Cor. iii. 4. 3 See chap. xiii. 8—13.