« FöregåendeFortsätt »
silent monitor, whose approbation is of inore value than the opinion of the whole world: that no mani transgresses its laws, without secretly reproaching himself for it; and that the first punishment of guilt is in the stings and scorpions of an awakened conscience.
And should any one pretend to say, that this is the effect of superstition, or prejudice of education, which load the mind with ideal horrors and imaginary phantoms: I answer, Had this been the case, the united reason and wishes of mankind would long ago have detected the mistake. For there is no fallacy so artful, no error so obstinaté, as always to stand against the searching investigation of truth, when men are carried on to the pursuit by interest and inclination combined. But this principle has stood the test of all ages : neither the learning nor argument of men could ever disprove it; neither wit nor raillery, those grand engines of infidelity, have ever been able to silence it.
Should any again say, that this principle is not fixed and universal; that there have been men, who have not owned its power: I answer it may be stupitied; but cannot be annihilated. The hurry of business, the dissipation of pleasure, the gaiety of youth, the rotation of company, may
for a time stifle its still voice. But think not that this avenging power sleeps the sleep of death; it will awake from sleep, like a giant refreshed with wine: it will arouse to retribution, armed with tenfold terror: there is a time, when it will no longer be silenced: there is a time, when you will see the guilty driven from his boasted security ; you will see him distressed and affrighted, under all the agonies, the intolerable agonies of a wounded spirit.-And far this time cannot be from him. The silent wing of life flies hastily on, and the unerring shafts of deatla are ever ready to spend their mortal force on me, on thee, on all. Age and infirmity are, indeed, in the general course of nature, their first victims: but; even youth and strength escape not always their deadly force. Guilt, therefore, will have its day of account, and may have it in a short and unlooked-for hour.
And when this day comes, be it sooner or be it later, whither shall the sinner fly? With what arguments shall he sustain the anguish of his wounded soul?
Will the song of folly or the voice of pleasure cheer his fajnting spirit? Will his hoarded trea. Bure alleviate the agonies of his conscience? Will the phantoms of honour calm the terrors of his .* 3
mind? Shall he fly to the arm of man for help?
-These, alas! are all unable to istifle the awakened voice of conscious guilt, or heal the pains of a wounded spirit.
Shall he then look up to God?-But how shall he sustain the piercing and awful sight? He is the great and terrible God, who executeth justice in all the world: He is the offended father, whose slighted mercies and favours call for vengeance: He is the righteous judge, who will give to every man according to his works. This therefore will only add to his misery, and double the horrors he feels.
In other afflictions, be they ever so intolerable, we can comfort ourselves by looking to the end of them; as knowing that they cannot follow us beyond the grave. But in this we see no end: it is dreadful in the present view, but will be still more dreadful in the future prospect: for to the wicked, the grave is but the gate of misery; and an hereafter the beginning of sorrows.
In other afflictions, a man's own mind will speak comfort to him; will tell him, that he has applied the evils of life to the purposes for which they were intended; that he has been
taught taught by them to keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. But what comfort can the sinner feel from looking into his own mind, when all within is amaze-, ment and horror? His only chance is in blindness and oblivion. Couldst thou forget the follies of youth, that sit heavy upon thy soul; couldst thou forget the stains of manhood, that: pierce thy conscience; couldst thou: forget thé: sins of age, that weigh down thy heart with shame and sorrow; there might then be some ray of hope, some spark of consolation to cheer thee. But an awakened conscience cannot be stifled: it will have its day of vengeance and retribution.
. Is there no comfort for a wounded spirit? Is there no place for the sinner to flee unto, when his burden is greater than he is able to bear? Must he lie down in hopeless anguish, or sink into the unfathomable abyss of despair ? Der spair not, thou afflicted child of sin and folly! There is one way yet remaining, and that is, by flying for shelter to the mercy of God by instant repentance. He never rejects the returning pro, digal, or despises the contrite heart: He never willingly breaks the bruised reed: “When the “ poor and needy seek for water; when,” in the agonies of a wounded spirit, “.their tongue
“ faileth for thirst, the Lord will hear them,
Flee therefore, O sinner, to this altar of rez fuge, and call upon thy God, whilst it is yet in thy power; before thy feet stumble upon the dark mountains. Let not the broken reeds of hope flatter thee any longer : thou hast too long leaned on them already, and they have now pierced thy heart. The companions of thy folly cannot save thee; they will only plunge thee deeper. A repetition of thy sins will only increase thy misery, and double the pangs of contrition. The poisonous cup of intoxication will only throw thee sooner into the arms of death, and hasten destruction. The bloody knife of suicide cannot end, it will only aggravate thy misery, by adding to thy guilt. In God be thy only hope. He will not cast thee out, if thou flee to him. The gate of mercy
open, gels wait around to hail thy return, and to proclaim the sound of joy in heaven over one repenting sinner. If therefore thou perishest, the fault is thy own. He gave his Son to die for thee: but thou hast destroyed thyself. Such is the only method, by which a wounded spirit may