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heart about past crimes or present indulgences. To suppose the intrusion of so unwelcome a visiter as conscience would be to picture the naked sword which, at the tyrant's feast, hung over the favourite's head ready to fall upon him, and only suspended by a single hair. And, O! how dreadful is the state of one trifling on the verge of an awful eternity; sporting on the brink of the bottomless pit; it bespeaks the unfathomable deceit of the heart, the desperation of its wickedness; it is the phrensy of a felon dancing on the scaffold and sporting with the halter. What meanest thou, O sleeper!
But pleasing to the eye as are many of the colours of the picture we have drawn, dear to the sense as are many of its delights, those delights are within the reach of very few among all those who are risking their eternal weal; and who, if they continue to act as they do, will be the destroyers of their own souls! How many are selling their "birth-right and blessing for a mess of pottage," a mean and a momentary gratification! They think they can at any time redeem the folly of the present moment, as if God had ever trusted you with more than one moment at once, or pledged himself to grant one beyond the present. O my brethren, God loves us too well to leave us to the seduction of such a multitude of delights as we have mentioned. No: he plants the margin of our path with thorns, for it is skirted by a precipice; and we talk of our sufferings and know not that the thorns are designed to teach us as Gideon did the men of Succoth.
Some are more prosperous than others; they occupy an envied elevation; but if prosperous in their circumstances and pursuits, perhaps they labour under bodily ailment. "Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man" not merely in the
opinion of his inferiors, but "with his master, and honourable; because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour; but he was a leper," 2 Kings v, 1. Or perhaps they are made to suffer in some one point of extended relationship. "Me ye have bereaved of my children; Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away; all these things are against me ;then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave," Gen. iv, 36, 38. Or, if possessed of eminent talents, all enjoyment of them may be marred by the sting of an awakened conscience. "And the counsel of Ahithophel which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel, both with David and Absalom," 2 Sam. xvi, 23. "And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and got him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and he died," 2 Sam. xvii, 23. The worm at the root of the gourd, with some, is an injured reputation. "I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours," Psa. xxxi, 11. That which undermines another's happiness is the mere creature of the imagination. "And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king; Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet which she had prepared but myself: and to-morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate,"
Esther v, 11, 13. And where is the man experimentally a stranger to all these exceptions to the completeness of human happiness? But the cause of truth will not shrink from allowing to the case a term as long and an intensity as great as can be desired: the worth of the soul will not suffer by allowing whatever value you can claim for any thing short of its salvation.
There is something touching in that expression, "What shall it profit?" we read not, what doth it profit during the passing hour; but what shall it profit a man, when the short-lived hour is past, to have gained the whole world with the loss of his soul. There may be some passing and piquant enjoyment from the world, but what will it amount to in eternity? what will it be on reflection? This is the solemn inquiry. Past joy cannot contribute to present happiness; it can take nothing from the cup of present misery; but when it is the occasion of actual, unending, and, therefore, hopeless misery-O! it will be one of the bitterest ingredients in the cup of fury.
A man of pleasure, when he outlives his delights, is wretched beyond words, and dreads the thought of growing old more than that of growing infamous; how will he feel, if he die impenitent, in the shades of hell? think of this, thou whose portion is in this world, and tremble.
II. We have stated the profit, let us now attempt to speak of the loss of the soul, in the case supposed.
What is the full import of this last expression we know not, and, I pray God, we may never know. The loss of health, of comfort, of friends, of character, and of reason, we can imagine; we can form some idea of the anguish and heart-sickness of pining disease; the absence of comfort, and the pressure of remediless dis
tress; the departure of a friend in whose life ours was bound up, creating a sense of desolation and desertion ; the sorrow of a blasted reputation refusing to be comforted; and the deep unmeasured calamity of perverted reason; of all these we may know something from experience or observation, but who knoweth the state of a lost soul; deserted of its God, abandoned to misery and despair? "Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath." Of every other evil the fear is worse than the reality; apprehension mistifies and magnifies the object; but, in this case, fear never adequately conceived of the extent of the loss. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Imagination can picture nothing so dreadful as the reality of that which is imported in these words.
Hear the words of a distinguished man :-"In consequence of neglecting the great salvation, to sink at last under the frown of the Almighty, is a calamity which words were not invented to express, nor finite minds framed to grasp. What, my brethren, if it be lawful to indulge such a thought, what would be the funeral obsequies of a lost soul? where shall we find the tears fit to be wept at such a spectacle? or could we realize the calamity in all its extent, what tokens of commiseration and concern would be deemed equal to the occasion? Would it suffice for the sun to veil his light, and the moon her brightness; to cover the ocean with mourning, and the heavens with sackcloth; or were the whole fabric of nature to become animated and vocal, would it be possible for her to utter a groan too deep, or a cry too piercing, to express the magnitude of such a catastrophe ?"
What is the state of a lost soul! It is that of one
who looks backward on time with inexpressible remorse; of one who looks upward to the throne of the sinavenging God with terror and dismay; of one who looks around on the companions of his misery, some of whom he has lured to destruction, and others of whom have tempted him to his ruin. A lost soul is one that looks forward without the feeblest hope that his misery shall terminate, ("hope deferred maketh the heart sick;" but tell me, ye who can, what is the sickness and sinking of heart which belong to hope extinguished?) There is a great gulf fixed; it cannot be passed, and it cannot be removed. A lost soul is one that looks inward, at the undying worm, and the undecaying flame, fed by the vitals it may never consume; at the understanding too enlightened any longer to be deceived; at the heart, which once cheered its possessor, when every other frowned, but now condemns, and cannot be bribed to silence or approbation; at the memory which records and calls up every sin committed, and every opportunity of salvation neglected; at the imagination which pictures deeper sorrow yet to come, and adds the horror of anticipation to the sickness of despair and the misery of torment. The thought is almost too painful to be dwelt upon, though at the distance of earth from hell!
"What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" What would a man give to secure his soul's salvation, to escape from so great a death? The question is one of the highest importance; but who is there convinced of his danger? This question, to be put with effect, should be proposed to a dying man, who sees and feels himself on the verge of an eternal world, and about to enter an "unprovided-for eternity." The most avaricious man, at that dread hour, would yield up his hoarded treasure; the voluptuary would forego his de