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vanced a necessary step towards eternal life. But he has not turned to God, and without this conversion all which is done will be nothing.
Probably every person who is under a strong conviction of his guilt is assailed by many temptations. Either he will distrust, and despair of the Divine mercy, or he will be induced to trust presumptuously his own righteousness, or to feel satisfied of his ability to save himself; or he will settle down in a state of sloth; or he will be persuaded to procrastinate the work of repentance; or he will yield himself up to the guidance of erroneous teachers, or search out for himself erroneous doctrines; or he will depend on impulses and other vain dictates of a wild imagination. In these circumstances, some individuals strenuously resist both the allurements and the terrors. Others become victims to them. The former overcome, the latter fall, and often irrevocably.
How important, then, is it, that every individual in such a state should be aware of his danger, watch incessantly against his spiritual enemies, and resist them without intermission. How indispensable is it, that he should pray always with all prayer for the grace of God to save him from temptation, and to rescue him from utter ruin.
V. The soul, from which convictions of sin have been finally banished, is more perfectly prepared to become the seat of absolute wickedness than before these convictions began." And when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished." An empty house is vacant for the reception of a new inhabitant. A house swept, is rendered clean to make his residence agreeable. A house garnished, is with pleasure prepared to welcome such an inhabitant, and designed to exhibit the respect with which the original tenant regards his new guest, and the open testimonies of honour which he is disposed to ren
der to him. It will be remembered, that all this preparation is voluntary on the part of the owner, and is all designed for the convenience and pleasure of the new occupant. It proves, therefore, that such an occupant was expected and intended to reside where all these preparations had been made.
Thus, after the conflict with sin and the fears of danger are over, the soul becomes quieted of all its former apprehensions, and inactive as to all future resistance. The work, though not done, is relinquished; and the struggles, though they had failed of their purpose, are given over. The soul has ceased from its opposition; and, considering the effort as too laborious, and the self-denial as too great, quits the conflict with scarcely a hope of resuming it at any future period.
From this time it recedes visibly from the solemnity and concern which it before manifested about its sins and its salvation, and becomes gradually hardened in iniquity, and alienated from God. Ordinarily, this progress is not without its interruptions, without checks of conscience, without restraints of the Spirit of grace. With some irregularities it is, however, continual. It is too constant, too rapid, and too hopeless; and but too often does the man conclude to make no further efforts, and to bid adieu to every prospect of eternal life.
VI. The soul, from which convictions are finally banished, becomes far more sinful than before its convictions began: "Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first." Seven is here put for an indefinite number, and may be considered as standing for many. These seven are also universally more wicked than the original tenant of this impure habitation. What a house has this become! With what inhabitants is it filled! To what
The soul, in this case, has overcome, with many struggles and against many motives, its strong sense of guilt, and its distressing apprehensions of danger. In this conflict, the man has hardened his heart, and blinded his eyes. He has been exposed perhaps to the ridicule of his companions, to the deceitfulness of their sophistry, and to the baleful influence of their example. The fears and distresses which a little while since compelled him to solemn thought and temporary and external reformation, he forces away by joining with them in their contempt and derision of religion. Of the praise or approbation of God he now becomes regardless; but of that of his companions in iniquity he is more and more ambitious. A little while since, their commendation would have awakened in his mind nothing but alarm. Now he dreads nothing so much as their censure. They are at once his instructors, his rulers, and his example. Once he hoped that he should resemble the Redeemer, have the same mind which was in him, and walk as he walked. Now his sole wish is to be like them. Henceforth his progress is only downward. From the commission of one sin he is of course led to another; and from those which are less to those which are greater. If life lasts, he becomes in the end a profligate here, and an heir of aggravated wretchedness beyond the grave. If he does not go to the most horrid and abandoned lengths, it is because God exercises more kindness to him than he to himself. From this passage of Scripture thus explained we learn,
purposes is it destined! In what back on a life spent only in rebellion uses is it employed! Such, how- against God, and forward with a ever, is the real state of the man in fearful expectation of suffering the question. effects of his anger against impenitence, is unquestionably terrifying to an awakened mind; and but for the aid given us by the tender mercy of our Creator, would easily overwhelm us with agony and despair. That we should earnestly wish for deliverance from such a condition, is inwoven in our nature; and that we should feel desirous of a deliverance from it by almost any means, may not unnaturally be expected from the frailty and feebleness of our character. Hence multitudes have in all ages of Christianity been found, who, under the pressure of painful truths and distressing apprehensions, have, like some of our Saviour's hearers, turned back, and refused any more to walk with Christ. In the text, the danger of this conduct is exhibited in the most terrible manner. Let me beseech you solemnly to ponder this awful representation. Let it lie near your hearts; let it awaken all your fears. You may possibly reply, that this is a figurative representation, a parable, an allegory. Be it so. Construe it as favourably for yourselves as you can; soften its terrible declarations as much as you can: still there will remain in it sufficient alarms to make the ears of every one who is not deaf to tingle, and the heart of every one who is not torpid to shrink with dismay. From a state of conviction, there are but two ways of escape. One of them leads to endless life, the other to endless death. The former is the way of repentance, faith, and holiness, the latter that of stupidity, hardness of heart, the resumption of sin, and the abandonment of religion. Who would not choose the former? Who would not tremble to assume the latter? Cherish, then, if you possess them, these convictions, however, painful they may seem, however long they may continue. Keep your eyes open upon your guilt, upon your danger, and upon the
J. The immeasurable importance of cherishing in the heart convictions of sin. This state of mind is indeed distressing. To have a realizing consciousness of our guilt; to have vivid apprehensions of the danger which it involves; to look
only way of escape from both. Search the Scriptures diligently for those instructions and warnings, which on the one hand will teach you your duty and your danger, and on the other will keep your minds vigorously alive to the importance of both. The threatenings found in that sacred book, meet with awe and apprehension. The invitations and the promises, welcome with gratitude, wonder, and delight. Mark the gracious terms in which they are given, and adore the Divine Spirit of condescension and mercy by which they are dictated. Regard the distresses which you feel at this period as a wise man regards the probe by which his wounds are searched and healed. To your selves you may seem as losing aright hand or a right eye; but remember it is better to enter into life maimed, than with two eyes and two hands to be cast into the fire of hell. Bow then your knees daily to the Father of all mercies, with the language and spirit of the publican, "God be merciful unto me a sinner."
2. We also learn from this parable the miserable situation of unawakened sinners. These per sons have not indeed incurred all the guilt and all the danger of those who have been the principal subjects of this discourse. Still their condition is, and is here exhibited as being deplorable. "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man," says our Saviour. The departure of this unclean spirit may be viewed as the era at which con
victions begin in the soul. Till this time he resided there in quiet. Think what it is for the soul to be possessed by this foul and dreadful inhabitant, and remember that the representation is that of Christ himself; and is therefore just. And the excessive danger lies in this, that every such person is at ease concerning his moral condition. This unclean spirit has acquired an entire ascendancy over him, and dwells and reigns in his heart without a rival, and without an attempt to resist his influence, or to escape from his dominion. All is quiet and silent within, but it is the stillness of death and the repose of the grave.
Be roused, then, to a sense of your condition. Open your eyes to your sins, your guilt, and your approaching ruin. Feel that you are in greater danger because you suppose yourselves safe. Your insensibility is the stupor of apoplexy. sleep as on the top of a mast, and the waves of perdition roll beneath you. How can you hope to escape if you will not so much as open your eyes to see your danger? Remember how often the alarm has been rung in your ears, and has left you as it found you, crying in halfarticulated sounds, “A little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to sleep." You have slumbered over the pit of destruction. If you are not lifeless, if you are not hopeless, listen. The voice. of inspiration calls to you, "Awake, or sleep to wake no more."
THE OBLIGATIONS OF GENIUS.
(Concluded from p. 490.)
I PROCEED to shew, secondly, that genius, more particularly in its character of science and philosophy, is bound to render all its investiga
tions and researches conducive to the illustration of the various departments of moral and religious truth. The more immediate and direct, though not always the most important, object of scientific inquiry is the discovery of the great facts of na
ture, and of the general laws by which it is governed. But a collateral, and in many respects a more interesting, object in these researches, is to contemplate the phenomena of nature in immediate connexion with its Divine Author; to observe the light which they throw upon the disclosures of another and a more direct communication, and thus to trace the moral relations of the universe through the medium of its physical arrangements.
The pursuits of science, as connected with the subject of religion, may be considered in two points of view, as they tend to illustrate the character and attributes of God as displayed in the works of nature; and as they are calculated, by coordinate light, to illustrate the peculiar doctrines of revelation. These two methods of Divine communication may be regarded as two great volumes of sacred truth; two Testaments of religion; the one, the book of nature, being somewhat of an older date, and far more obscure in its statements, and more difficult to decypher; the other, the Book of Revelation, more recent in its composition, more explicit in its details, and more luminious in its announcements, but both harmonizing in the general views which they convey, and requiring only to be carefully and judiciously collated, to be viewed apart from the numerous errors and interpolations, with which superstitious weakness or disingenuous scepticism have attempted to pervert them, in order to exhibit a complete and undeviating conformity. When they have been disencumbered of the comments and various readings, with which ignorance or infidelity has loaded them, they will be found to teach the same fundamental doctrines, to speak the same language, and to acknowledge one common Author. I mean, not indeed, that the works of nature point out the peculiarities for which a revelation was necessary; but what they do say is consistent with those more
full and direct disclosures. The first duty of scientific genius in the investigation of the laws, and in analyzing the principles of nature is habitually to contemplate them as the productions and arrangements of a designing Mind. To survey the frame of the world without any reference to its Creator, would be like gazing upon some beautiful and magnificent structure, without the slightest recognition of the skill of the Architect, by whose genius it was planned; or like examining the forms, and investigating the pronunciation of the several letters of a book, without the slightest notice of the meaning they were intended to convey. Unless the objects of nature be viewed in conjunction with the all-perfect Mind, by which they were corrected and arranged, they lose in a manner their moral existence; they cease to be, as regards their most useful and salutary purpose; and they become divested of that which gives them their chief interest as the productions of consummate skill. So closely connected with its Author, did the whole economy of nature appear to the mind of Newton that he spoke of the created universe as the sensorium of the Deity; as that in which he is in a manner embodied, and through the medium of the various parts of which he manifests his several perfections. Malebranche brought the Deity, and the views of things taken by his creatures, into still closer union, maintaining that in some mysterious manner we see all things immediately in him. But although these expressions may be regarded as merely figurative, and as implying no more than that a very intimate relation subsists between the Creator and his creatures, yet there is no doubt whatever of the general truth which they convey, that nature in all it departments bears a lively impress of its Author, and that in him it universally lives, moves, and exists. There have been those who could not see, or were too perverse
to acknowledge that they saw, any traces of a Deity in the most magnificent of the works of his hands; and it is also too common to contemplate the sublimer phenomena, as well as the more minute departments, of the universe, apart from all relation of immediate dependence upon Him by whom they were originally formed, and still are regulated and sustained.
In no province of science, in no part of the vast and diversified scenery of nature, are the various attributes of God more wonderfully and impressively displayed than upon the bright field of astronomy. In the contemplation of the brilliant scenery of the starry heavens, the man whose mind is stored with the rich and varied results of modern discovery, has an advantage over those who are uninitiated into these sublime mysteries of nature, attended with correspondent obligations of piety and devout admiration. When an ignorant and uninstructed person looks up to the ethereal concave, he sees nothing but a vast canopy mantling the globe on which he dwells, and studded with so many spangling points. To him it is no thing but a scene of gay confusion, in which he can discover no law beyond that of a periodical appearance above the horizon, nor conceive any end suitable to the variety and the magnitude of the means which seem to have been employed. But the man of science sees with other eyes: he looks up to that glorious theatre of wonders which has been spread above him, and around him, with other notions, and, unless his mind be blinded by prejudice, and incased in impiety, he cannot fail to be led to other reflections. Where the untaught eye saw nothing but a promiscuous assemblage of twinkling lights, he beholds the most perfect regularity, harmony, and order. Where the ignorance of the former could perceive only the dispositions and arrangements of chance, his knowledge can trace the footsteps of the CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 333.
most consummate design. To his
Such is unquestionably the duty, the obligation, of scientific genius, in reference to that bright display of the perfections of the Creator which the views of astronomy afford. It is lamentably true, indeed, that there have been instances of a contrary disposition - a disposition to exclude the presence of Jehovah from this splendid temple of his glory. The highly gifted but atheistical astronomer and mathematician of France*, * La Place.