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consciences, hardens their hearts, engrosses every faculty of their minds and every affection of their souls with a sordid idolatry of perishing vanities, and thus affords an alarming premonition that their earthly felicity is but the prelude to an eternity of torment. That such is often the effect produced by a successful pursuit of secular objects, is abundantly evident from the testimony of facts. In every age of the Church, instances of conversion among the fortunate devotees of wealth and honor have been "like angel's visits, few and far between." While the lowly children of poverty and sorrow have repaired, in crowds, to the arms of that compassionate Redeemer who invites the weary and heavy laden to find rest in his bosom,-the vast majority of the prosperous, the opulent, and the great, despising his salvation, have continued to bask in splendor, to riot in affluence, and to live at ease in their possessions, till their pomp, and luxury, and pleasure have been exchanged for the woes of hell. Nor is it from observation alone that the truth of this statement appears. It is solemnly and explicitly taught in the unerring records of inspiration. Listen to its awful language with respect to the final state of the favored votaries of worldliness. "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." "Behold, these are the ungodly that prosper in the world. They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men. Their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart could wish. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me, till I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castest them down into destruction." If such be the influence of worldly prosperity, how unspeakably dangerous is the situation of those, who climb its giddy steep, unprotected by religion.
VI. Another token of perdition, is apathy of mind under divine chastisement. The afflictions which so often cast a shade over the lot of mortals, are not the product of accident, or of any fortuitous concurrence of secondary causes. They all proceed from the benevolent Sovereign of the universe and are designed to bring back his revolted subjects to the allegiance which they owe him. And this result they are pre-eminently adapted to accomplish. In none of the means, which God uses to reclaim transgressors, does he approach them with so close a contact, or address them in such tones of power. Their infliction is the highest effort of infinite compassion-the reserved agency to which it applies, when all the resources of goodness and forbearance have been expended in vain. And yet how many are there, on whom even this instrument has been employed without effect, and in whose unrelenting bosoms the rebuke of Jehovah has produced no compunction. What hope, then, is there, that any
thing, in the whole circle of moral influences, will ever bring them into cordial obedience to the cross of Christ? A slight view of the course which God has already pursued with them, will show that such an event is exceedingly doubtful. At first, He loaded them with the gifts of his beneficençe, crowned their life with blessings, surrounded them with religious privileges, and sought, by all the subduing appeals of kindness, to overcome their impenitence, and restore them to duty and to heaven. But they were unaffected by his mercies. His benevolence did not warm them into love, nor his tenderness melt them into contrition. They became insolent in their abundance, and said, "who is the Lord, that we should serve him?" All the motives derived from his munificence and long suffering having thus proved unavailing, He next began to press them with adversity. He dried up the streams of his bounty, blighted their worldly expectasions, scattered their treasures to the winds, and turned into darkness their visions of pride and glory. Still they were unchecked. They thought a chance had happened to them. Or if they acknowledged the hand of God in their disappointments, it was only to repine at his dealings. He then came nearer to them, removed the objects of their affection, and "took away the desire of their eyes with a stroke." But the visitation excited only the natural anguish of a bereaved heart, mingled with a bitter irreconciliation to the allotments of Providence. They did not consider their ways, nor inquire why they were stricken, but murmured and rebelled under the blow. Like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke, they grew more restiff and perverse, as the pressure increased. At length, to finish the process of correction, God laid his chastening hand on themselves, smote them with sickness, appointed them days of weariness and nights of pain, brought them to the verge of the tomb, and into the precincts of eternity, that the near view of its terrors might awaken them from the slumber of sin. And yet even this dispensation was unheeded. They felt no dismay, they uttered no prayer, while the fierce pangs of disease thrilled through their frame, and death stood knocking at the door of their mortal tabernacle, threatening every moment, to lay it in the dust. Or if they experienced any alarm, no sooner did the crisis pass, and the day of doom appear to recede, and leave them a longer interval of grace, than they banished their disquietude, and relapsed into their former carelessness. And now, having resisted all the discipline of the Most High, until, wearied by their stubbornness, he has ceased to disturb them, they manifest a stupidity more profound than ever, and sin without restraint or fear. As fire hardens clay, so the furnace of affliction has burned them into more impenetrable obduracy. Is there, then, reason to expect that they will yield to any future means of conversion? Is it likely that they will hereafter be placed in scenes and circumstances more calculated to arouse them than those in which they have already been placed? What can impress and soften hearts on which the rod of the Almighty has fallen and left no scar? Though it is not for us to foretell their fate, but to leave
them to the disposal of that God, whose love they have slighted, and whose judgments they have despised; still we cannot avoid the apprehension, that in them the terrific threatening of insulted mercy will be verified, "He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
VII. Another token of perdition, is a return to insensibility after serious impressions.-There are multitudes who exhibit this characteristic. During some revival of religion, or under the searching expostulations of some pungent sermon, they have been awakened from their natural state of thoughtless security. Their sins have been set in order before them. They have been made to see the importance of an interest in Christ to their present and eternal happiness. They have felt something of the power of the world to come, have shuddered in view of their approaching condemnation, and, in anguish of soul, resolved to attend to their immortal welfare. But their convictions are now effaced, and their resolutions forgotten. By yielding to the drowsy influence of the world, and the strong propensity of the unregenerate heart to repel religious subjects,-by lingering and procrastinating, instead of immediately submitting to God,-by seeking some other source of hope than an unconditional compliance with the overtures of the Gospel ;-they have obliterated every trace of serious feeling, and sunk into ten-fold indifference. How improbable, then, is their salvation! Every view, which can be taken of their state, conspires to prove that their peril must be extreme. Their very tranquillity is the harbinger of destruction. It is the ease of the expiring patient when raging inflamation terminates in gangrene. It is the repose of the sleeping volcano-the calm which precedes the hurricane-the stupor into which conscience sinks when the palsy of spiritual death begins to settle upon the soul. To all the applications of truth and strivings of the Spirit they are impregnable. No exhibition of the claims of God and of their own duty can be presented to them with which they are not already familiar. No argument, no incentive, no entreaty, can be brought to bear upon their minds, which they have not already disregarded. Nothing, therefore, but a miraculous interposition of sovereign grace can pluck them from the precipice on which they stand. And will such an interposition be made? It may; but the general testimony of experience is against the supposition. It is an indubitable fact, that very few of those who, from a state of religious solicitude, decline into apathy, are ever truly converted. Some of them may, at times, manifest symptoms of returning seriousness. When the power of God comes down on the communities in which they reside, and Christians are active and faithful, and sinners are bowing to the cross, and the Redeemer rides forth in his chariot of victory,-they may start from their slumber, mix with the moving host, and seem to be pressing towards the gates of Zion. Still, they seldom make their way to Christ. More commonly, after a fruitless effort to resuscitate their strangled convictions, they relin
quish the attempt, and resign themselves to the mighty lethargy that enchains them. Like Esau, having suffered the season for securing the blessing to pass unimproved, they find "no place for repentance, though they seek it carefully with tears." But while a small number of the class we are describing may thus evince an occasional and transient concern for their eternal interest, by far the larger portion display an utter recklesness, and, by plunging into dissipation or infidelity, give fearful evidence that the convincing and renewing Spirit has irrevocably departed from them. Thus, "as Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and said, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." But that "convenient season came. Abandoned of God, he surrendered himself to profligacy, was arraigned at the bar of Cæsar for his atrocious practices, banished into Gaul, and there died an irreclaimable reprobate. Such is the melancholy history of thousands, who were once anxious and thoughtful, and appeared to have reached the very borders of the kingdom of heaven; but who, by trifling with their impressions, and delaying to comply with offered mercy, have flung themselves far off from hope, and perished in their sins. In awful accordance with this remark, an Apostle has declared, that "if those, who have once been enlightened, shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them to repentance." Surely, then, if the condition of persons of this character be thus desperate, we may, with an emphasis of meaning, say to them, as our Lord said to Jerusalem, "O that thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thine eyes."
VIII. The last token of perdition, which I shall notice, is an impenitent old age. The young, I am well aware, are often encouraged to postpone repentance, from a persuasion that they shall become pious in the decline of life, and that that period is more favorable to the attainment of religion than any other. But no expectation can be more delusive. Among the innumerable situations of guilt and danger, in which infatuated mortals place themselves, there are none so forlorn of hope,-so destitute of every cheering promise, as an irreligious old age. The physical powers at that season, are enfeebled and bowed down with the weight of years. The blood flows sluggishly through the shrivelled veins--the muscles are relaxed--the strength fails the spirits droop-the limbs totter-the step is faltering and slow-the eye, the ear, refuses its office and the whole frame is oppressed with incurable maladies, and sunk in decrepitude. With this decay of body there is a sympathetic and equal decay of mind. The understanding loses its acuteness, and the memory its retention, and the imagination its buoyancy; the love of enterprise, the vigor of purpose, the courage to encounter difficulties, are gone; and the noble intellect, which once soared abroad and exulted in its might, is reduced to the imbecility of childhood, and waits, in puny helplessness,
Nor is this all.
the fall of its shattered cell. The corrosion of time is still more visible in the moral faculties. The conscience is seared, the sensibilities are blunted-the affections are benumbed-the heart is cauterized-and the entire character has acquired an almost invincible stubbornness. How feeble, then, is the prospect that a saving change will be wrought in the man who has thus grown grey in transgression, and on whom all the means of grace have hitherto been employed in vain. Even in the case of those who appear to feel some desire to obtain a preparation for heaven, ere their setting sun shall go down in death, there is such a languor of effort, such an inability to comprehend and remember instruction, and such a fixedness of sinful habits, as well nigh to preclude success. But the great mass of aged sinners feel no such desire. They have long ceased to have any anxiety about their spiritual welfare. They seem scarcely to consider that the soul can be lost, that an eternity of bliss or of wo is before them, or that the hour of their departure for it is near. They cling to the trifles of earth with all the fondness of their early days, clutch their cankered gold in their shaking hands as eagerly as if they were to remain here forever, and manifest no concern, but to secure as much of the world as they can, before the waning lamp of life is extinguished in the darkness of the grave. Oh, it is enough to break the benevolent heart to see a hoary-headed transgressor tottering on the verge of the fathomless gulf, and yet reckless of his impending doom, till his feet slide, and he vanishes in the depths of despair!
Thus have I endeavored to set before you some of those traits in the character of several classes of unregenerate men which render their salvation improbable. In this enumeration, I have by no means included all which might, with propriety, have been embraced in it. But those which have been mentioned are surely sufficient to prove that the spiritual circumstances of vast numbers among the unconverted are solemnly critical.
It is not from any love of such a theme, or from any delight in harrowing up your feelings, that I have been induced to present this topic. God is my witness, that every part of it has been prepared and delivered with a bleeding heart. At the description of each fearful token, I could have sat down and wept, in anguish of spirit, over those who exhibit it. No; it is not because I, a guilty sinner, find pleasure in portraying the perils of my fellow-sinners, that I have called your attention to this subject; but because I, a pardoned_sinner, a sinner from whom numberless marks of perdition have been washed away by the blood of Christ,-would urge you, by the terrors of an impenitent state, to repair to that wondrous fountain, of which I know the efficacy.
On every side, I see crowds of immortal beings growing callous under the means of grace, piling up mountains in their way to heaven, and displaying, in their increasing heedlessness, more clear and mournful signs, that "lost!" "lost!" will soon be inscribed on the