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The first is, Can any unconverted person really assure himself that he shall not be finally lost? Or, secondly, Can he really imagine that he is able to disprove the authority of that volume which asserts, that every unconverted and impenitent sinner shall really at death be lost forever?
As to the latter of these questions, I might almost take it for granted that you will not at once presume to say that the Bible is all false, and that you can prove
it And yet, if you say so, if you only
think so, or hope so, you ought to be well fortified, not with mere doubts and questions, not with quibbles and difficulties, but with positive, direct, and indubitable evidence of the most complete and satisfactory kind; else you will be inexcusable before God and your own conscience for disregarding its authority. But I am quite certain that you are not possessed of such evidence; that you cannot be prepared to set aside the authority of the Bible even to your own satisfaction, however much an alarmed and an evil heart might incline you to wish it. Yet, if you should think you are, then I must refer the consideration of your case to that part of this work where your unbelief, and the nature of your objections, will be more fully noticed. I shall here reason with you as one convinced, and powerfully feeling, that the authority of the Bible cannot be set aside.
Admitting, then, the authority of that divine and wonderful book, it is quite certain, that the unconverted will be excluded from the bliss of the heavenly state. The Bible cannot be mistaken, nor perverted in its testimony, upon this matter. It asserts, in numerous places, that will be presently noticed, the lost state of impenitent and unconverted men. It represents them as even
now in a lost state. It
says that they are at this moment condemned; that it is not a question to be decided hereafter, but one that is already settled; the sentence is passed, and nothing is wanting but its execution.
Is your heart suitably impressed, is it alarmed, is it deeply affected even to agony, in the consideration of this word-Lost? It means, in reference to you, under divine condemnation, and in immediate and most imminent danger of eternal destruction! There is really nothing that keeps you back from everlasting perdition but the forbearance and patience of God. Is it not said, “ Their foot shall slide in due time ?"'* Is not your peril represented in those words of the psalmist, “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment !" It is a consideration which ought to affect the heart of every unconverted person, that he fully deserves the condemnation which the divine word pronounces upon him, whether he himself thinks so or not. Divine justice calls aloud for his punishment, saying, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground ?''If you are unconverted, then you may imagine the divine sword to be brandished over your head, and prevented from smiting you only by sovereign forbearance, such as none but God could or would exercise, under the provocations of which you have been guilty, and the aggravations with which your sins are chargeable. Even the patient, gentle, tendernearted Jesus has said concerning you, “ He that believeth not is condemned already."'S To the * Deut. xxxii. 35.
+ Ps. Ixxiii. 18, 19. $ Luke xiii. 7.
$ John iii. 18.
place of punishment, therefore, you are already doomed. The sentence is fixed, and will be inflicted unless you repent and are converted. You are even now bound to that awful place, and on your way thither as fast as the flight of time can bear you. It is determined by the divine purpose, that nothing shall stay the process or arrest the execution of that tremendous sentence but your conversion.
You could not be thus under the divine condemnation unless you were an object of God's anger; and, surely, the persuasion of this is enough to make you, or any other sinner, weep and tremble! If you realized the anger of the Almighty, it might make you, it ought to make you, shudder, to think that you have deserved it, and anxious above all things to have it immediately averted. Do not, therefore, imagine, nor suffer any sophistry of sin, Satan, or wicked men to persuade you, that God is not angry with you, or that he will not in due time proceed to express his anger by punishment. He neither wants the right, nor the power, nor the will to destroy those who are his enemies; to destroy them individually and severally: but he suspends the execution of his wrath for their sake, and to make them monuments of his mercy. He waits to see if they will come to their right mind, repent of the evil they have done, and return, like contrite children, to their offended, but affectionate Parent.
It is further to be observed, that there is evil enough in the wicked principles which reign in the hearts of all unconverted persons, to kindle in them, even in this life, the fire that never can be quenched. If conscience were but roused in you as it has been in many others not more guilty, to
sting and torment, and to anticipate what is coming upon you and may not be far off, you might feel even now horrors which would soon convince you that hell is a reality. Thousands of sinners have confessed that they needed no other proof of eternal torments than what they bore in their own bosoms. What is it, then, that keeps you from feeling this beginning of eternal punishment? Undoubtedly you might be made to feel it, as well as others. But you have not now in your heart the sense of his consuming wrath, because he is longsuffering, and has not yet allowed your sin to bring upon you all its consequences: but he will thus prevent its fatal issue only for a limited space. When that is expired, if the desirable end be not answered, if you be not converted, nor led to repentance by the goodness and forbearance of God, * then he will take off all restraint from the power both of sin and of conscience. You, perhaps, do not at present perceive nor feel the mysterious and mighty power there is in sin, in conscience, and in the law of God, to turn your soul into a fiery oven, or to produce within you indescribable ter
Hence that indifference, insensibility, and unconcern, which you may have long manifested, and over which you are now called to mourn.
Sinners in general are apt to presume upon inpunity, because there are no visible means of punishment and destruction close at hand. But, like the sea under the influence of a storm, how soon may their souls be lashed into a fearfu, tempest of terror and anguish! It affords no securiiy to a sinner, that he is at present in health, at present resolute, at present quite calm, at pre
* Rom. ij. 4.
sent, as he deems, safe and secure.
He may not see the means by which he might be brought speedily to judgment. He may not be able to detect the agency by which the threatened vengeance may be executed. But there is a destruction that walketh in darkness; there are innumerable ways, all unseen by us, and by impenitent sinners seldom suspected, which may in an instant open before them a passage to perdition, and bring them, most unexpectedly, to their end. Unconverted
rank of life, walk heedless on the brink of the pit, or over a thin and rotten covering which conceals its mouth. How easily is he hurled over a precipice, who stands close to its verge! If he stands blindfold, or in the night, and move but one step forward, he may plunge himself into destruction. Can any wicked person, any unconverted sinner, then, really feel himself secure for one moment, when he is reminded of that which he dares not dispute, that God possesses inexhaustible means of bringing his enemies to their end whenever it pleases him to do so; that is, whenever he decides that their probation shall terminate ? His quiver is full of arrows; they fly unseen at noon-day. The keenest sight cannot discern or anticipate them. The strongest shield affords no defence against them. Of these things you can scarcely be unconscious, and assuredly you will not attempt to dispute them.
Know, then, unconverted sinner, that God has bent his bow, and made ready his arrow upon the strings. It is directed against your heart. See! it points with deadly aim, with unerring certainty! Mark how justice strains the bow! The arrow trembles upon the string, and is ready to fily forth! It is all but gone! Yet justice looks