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those who stood on the ground of rebellion amid the full blaze and effulgency of light from Heaven. Yet still, there shall not be one unhappy outcast in that abode of eternal condemnation, who will not be convicted of sin knowing it to be so; who, whatever be the age or country of the world which he occupied, has not been plied with admonitions which he resisted, and urged by such an authoritative sense of duty as he trampled uponand that too, in the spirit of a daring and presumptuous defiance. In short, be his ignorance what it may, there was a wilful depravity which went beyond the limits of his ignorance-Be that region of human affairs over which he roamed in utter darkness as extended as it may, still there was a region of light upon which he made his intrusions with the intelligent purpose, and in the determined spirit of a rebelLet the moral geography of the place he occupied be as remote as it may, still there was a Law the voice of which at times did reach him, and the sanctions of which must when time is no more at length overtake him-Let the darkening of his foolish heart be as due as it may to the sin of his ancestors, they still left a tribunal there from which went forth upon him the whisper of many an intimationIn the darkest period of this world's abandonment, were there still the vestiges of truth before every eye, and a conscience awake in every bosom,-insomuch that not one trembling culprit will be seen before the judgment-seat, who will not stand self-convicted under the voice of a challenging and inspecting Deity-His own heart will bear witness to the sentence that he has gone forth against him; and the echoing voice of his own memory, will be to him the knell of his righteous and everlasting condemnation.

He shall let them alone since they will have it so. It is an extinction of the light which they once had, but refused to be led by; and now perhaps that they have it not, may they do many an evil thing to the evil of which they are profoundly asleep, and against which their conscience, now lulled and stifled into spiritual death, lifts no voice of remonstrance whatever. The guilt of sins committed in this state of dormancy, which is of their own bringing on, is no more done away by their insensibility to the foulness of them, than is the guilt of murder committed in the fury of wilful intoxication. And ye depraved and hackneyed old, at the doors of whose hearts we have so often knocked and knocked in vain, we bid you remember a season of alarm and tenderness which has now passed away-we ask of you to look back on the prayers and the precautions of boyhood, when, the conscience awake and at her post, you at one time trembled to think of that which you can now do without remorse and without fearfulness. Ye men who have become stout-hearted sinners, and just because the moral light which shone upon you once has been extinguished by yourselves, and by yourselves your foolish hearts have been darkened-the scruples and the sensibilities of your earlier days may all have taken their departure, and such may be the lethargy of your souls that neither the thunders of the law nor the entreaties of the gospel can move them. You may now be able to stand your ground against all the spiritual artillery of the pulpitand, even though death has stalked at large over the entire field of your former companionship and left you a solitary and surviving memorial of friends and of families that have all been swept away, still may you persist in the spirit of an But we should like to bring the princi- unbroken worldliness, and act the secure ple of our text more distinctly and indi- and the stout-hearted sinner, who rivets vidually to bear upon you. That process all his desires and all his hopes on a slipin general history by which the decline pery foundation. It is true indeed, that, of this world's light respecting God, and with a conscience obliterated, and an the decline of its practical allegiance to inner man deaf to every awakening call, His authority, have kept pace, the one and a system of moral feelings like a with the other, is often realized in the piece of worn and rusty mechanism that personal history of a single individual. cannot be set agoing, and an overhanging There is a connection by the law of our torpor upon all the spiritual faculties, so nature, between his wilful disobedience that every denunciation of an angry God and his spiritual darkness. You have and a coming vengeance is only heard read perhaps in our old theologians, of like a sound that whistles by-it is indeed what they called a judicial blindness. It true that he whose soul is in a condition is a visitation consequent upon sin. It is such as this, sits in the region and in the a withdrawment of the Spirit of God, shadow of grossest darkness. But it is when grieved and discouraged and provo- not like the transmitted darkness of Paked by our resistance to His warnings. ganism, which he can offer to plead in It is that Spirit ceasing to strive with the mitigation-or which will make his last children of men; and coming to this as sentence more tolerable for him even as the final result of the contest he has so it shall be more tolerable for Sodom o long intained with their obstinacy-Gomorrah. It is a darkness which he

loved, and into which he voluntarily compass. Is there at the very outset

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enough of likelihood that God might be the author of this book, as should resolve us upon a serious examination-then God actually be the author, we have not acquired the knowledge of Him we might have done; and we shall be condemned accordingly, if we withhold the examination which ought to have been given. Is there enough of the character of the Divinity stamped upon its pages, that, had we only read with earnestness and pondered with earnestness, we would have beheld the traces of Him distinctly there and have been satisfied-then if, instead of so reading, we have wantonly and ignorantly reviled it, God may righteous

entered. He made his escape to it from the light which he hated; and by his own act did he so outrun his pursuing conscience, as now to be at a distance from her warnings. If the call of repent or perish' do not bring him back-it is because he is sealed unto the day of condemnation; it is because God hath given him over to a reprobate mind; it is because he is judicially in a state of blindness; it is because his soul is compassed with a thick and heavy atmosphere of his own gathering. The Heathen sinner will be tried by the light which he had. The Christian sinner will be tried by the light which he fled from. This is his condemnation, that light has come into his partly step forth, and vindicate upon our perof the world-and he would not come to meet and be enlightened by it. He is on a footing altogether different from that of the idolater-though the darkness in which he is enveloped be irrecoverable. Enough that a light was offered which he refused or enough that a light was once possessed, and he did not like to retain it.

sons, the truth of His insulted message and the honesty of His insulted messengers. If the suspicion has ever come into any of your hearts, that this ridicule of Scripture may after all be a ridicule of the Almighty; and you, instead of being arrested by the impulse of such a visitation, have, in the mad outcry of a great We have already remarked, that, in the and growing infatuation, made your gradual darkening and deterioration of strenuous effort to keep down this comour world from one age to another, each punctious feeling, and have prevailed— age became successively more ignorant then have you committed yourselves, and of God than the preceeding; and yet with that wilfully, to the hazards of this altereach we believe, even in the veriest wilds native-that either the Scripture is a fable, of savage and unwrought humanity, is or you by the choice of your own hearts there enough of light and enough of con- and the deed of your own hands have science, and enough of God's law in dim come under all the curses that are written but remaining vestiges, to make every in it. Certain it is, that, to whatever term individual of our species a fit subject for of whatever alternative the world may moral examination, and for a righteous commit itself in reference to Christianity, sentence consequent upon a fair and im- Christianity commits itself to a very dispartial trial. Now we have not practically tinct alternative in reference to the world to do with the destinies of the unconvert--and if this religion indeed be true; and ed Heathen-nor shall we just now enter such be the actual influence of the human upon this region of speculation at all. will upon the human understanding, that But we have immediately to do with a he who is willing to do God's will shall question which respects the immortality know of the doctrine of Christ that it is of our own countrymen. What is their from God; and if faith in the gospel be light, and what is the degree of their con- at all times the fruit of moral honesty, demnation if they resist it? What is the duly exercised and sincerely in quest of precise addition which our possession of what is right; and if the spirit of directhe Bible has conferred upon our respon- tion be given to him who has an upright sibility? What is the knowledge of God feeling of desire to do as he ought, and to to which a conscientious and diligent pe- believe as he ought; and if every man rusal of this book might conduct us who faithfully follows the light of his unless we like not to receive that know-conscience, is thereby conducted to a reledge which we might obtain? What is the knowledge of God which we throw away from us by throwing this book away from us-and that because we like not to retain the knowledge which we might possess? Only grant, that we are as morally and as rightfully to blame for not acquiring the light which we might receive if we had so willed it, as for not preserving the light which we might attain if we had so willed it; and the question before us is brought within a manageable

verence for his Bible and a reliance upon his Bible; and if infidelity be at all times the issuing product of a heart careless about God, and utterly unconcerned either to retain such knowledge of Him as it has. or to acquire such knowledge of Him as it has not-then, it may not be in the power of a fellow-man, under all those guises of candour and frankness and liberality which the unbeliever can put on, so to feel his way through the intrica cies of another's spirit, as to catch the

verty, were suddenly translated into ease and affluence-and that through a ministration of liberality left at your door by the hand of some unknown benefactorin reference to him, though utterly in the dark about his person, you may be guilty of the crime of ingratitude. To make no inquiry about him were ungrateful. To riot in the enjoyment of the gift, without one thought of concern or curiosity about the giver, were both selfish and ungrateful. To be better pleased that you did not know and have no repayment of gratitude to make, is the very essence of ingratitude; and that too in reference to an individual whose person perhaps you never saw, and whose name perhaps you never heard. To sit at greater ease without the burden of obligation upon you to any known benefactor, than you would do if he stood revealed to your apprehension, and claimed the due return of affection or

lurking criminality and bring it out in satisfying exposure to the general eye. But let Christianity be true, and mark the fearful alternative to him who spurns it away. The unseen author of it ponders every heart; and, mysterious as its workings are to us, there is nothing in them all that can baffle the scrutiny of Him who formed it; and if there be, as the Bible says there is, an alliance between infidelity and moral evil, He can detect it, and bring it out on the day of reckoning to open manifestation-He can unveil the whole process of this miserable delusion; and at every step of it where pride or ungodliness or selfishness or profligacy did operate its bias upon the understanding, He can make it good, and that to the conviction of the unhappy man, that his judgment was in error just because his affections were in error-that there was a want of belief in his mind, just because there was a want of worth in his charac-of service-this is decisive of a heart ter-that he was not a Christian man, just because he was not an upright man-and that the light which was in him was turned into darkness, just because he did not care to retain it; and after it was lost he did not care and did not choose to recover it.

To satisfy you of a real connection between the state of man's moral principles on the one hand, and the state of his intellectual principles on the other, let us have recourse to one simple illustration. For it does require to be explained. There is many an error in judgment which implies no worldliness of character whatever. A man may have a wrong opinion in matters of trade or philosophy or law; and this altogether unconnected with any wrong habit of the life, or any wrong and depraved habit of the affections. And might not he, in like manner, have a wrong opinion on a question of theology, and be so very far in the wrong as to think Christianity a fable, and all this without any moral perversity being the cause of his error? Might it not be a mere mistake of the understanding for which he lies under no responsibility at all, at that bar where nothing is condemned that is not criminal? Where lies the greater fault of an error in a matter of speculation, and that because a man has a bad understanding, that of an error in a matter of sight, and that because a man has bad eyes? How is it that there is any connection between sentiment and sin? And let our belief be as mistaken as it may explain to us how it comes to be an affair of moral turpitude, and with what justice or upon what principles it can have the retribution of any moral rengeance awarded to it?

If any of you, the victim of helpless po

tainted with the sin of ingratitude. It is sin which keeps you from enquiring; and if carefully to enquire were certainly to find, it is sin which keeps you from discovering. You want the light, and just because you hate it. You have not the knowledge of the heart that pitied and the hand that aided you, because it is a know ledge you like not to acquire.

And thus it is, that many is the man who is ignorant of God-and yet lies under the full guilt and burden of ungodliness. Many is the man who with the world as his satisfying portion, never lifts one anxious inquiry after Him who made the world; and think you that his defective theology is as free of blame or condemnation, as is the defective philosophy of him who never attempted the toils of scholarship? Tell, if here a want of understanding may not resolve itself into a want of principle. He does not know God. But he does not seek to know him. His mistakes of conception regarding the Deity, or his total want of conception about Him, may be designed as mere errors of judgment, or as a mere blindness of the judgment. But it is the error and the blindness of one who wishes not to see. He grovels in ignorance; but it may be just because he grovels in corruption. He is so engrossed with the creature, that he would like to be quit of a Creator. There may be an utter absence of light, and yet may he realize all the guilt of impiety. He may stand on the verge of atheism, or even be darkling within its limits-and yet his worthlessness have the very same element with the worthlessness of him, before the eye of whose conviction God stands fully manifested, and who places himself in known defiance to his understood and authoritative voice.

But let us recur again to our illustration. The unknown friend may wish to reveal himself to the man he has befriended. He may send a messenger with a letter to his door. He may inscribe such evidences of his authenticity there, as would force conviction if the letter was but read. He may specify the amount, and he may specify the particulars of the ministration which had been rendered; and that in such a way as to prove that he was the author of it. The bearer of the communication may have all the marks of honesty about him-yet this be not enough. He may tell a consistent story yet this be not enough. There may be companions along with him of complexion as fair and creditable as his own to vouch for the accuracy of his statement-yet this be not enough. The last and most conclusive evidence may still be in reserve-It may lie in the substance of the written communication-and not till he to whom it is addressed has opened it and read it, may he come fully to recognise and verify his benefactor.

And yet to a soul of selfishness and ingratitude, this might be an unwelcome intrusion. He may have no desire to know his benefactor; and have a dread or a dislike towards the revelation of his will; and he may spurn the messenger from his door; and he may refuse to open or to read the letter that has been offered to him; and the best evidence that there was upon the question may never have been before his eyes-not because it did not exist, but because he refused to look at it-Nay he might have read, but read in such a careless and hasty style of perusal, that he did not attain to conviction, and just because he took no pains to be convinced. And who does not see that his want of right understanding resolves into a want of right principle-that there is a taint of moral perversity in the whole

of this proceeding-that the sin of his judgment is the sin of his heart—and that unbelief which many would screen from condemnation, is in his instance unbelief fostered by his own wilful depravity, and an unbelief for which he deserves to be execrated?

And so may it be of Christianity. God may have sent a written communication to the world. And to every careful, and desirous reader, the evidence of His hand may be legibly inscribed upon it; and he who is willing to do His will, may recognise in the doctrine of Christ the traces of the divinity which inspired it; and the man on whose heart a weight of conscientiousness lies, may by the dint of patience and of prayer come to a full and rational assurance of its truth; and just because reading and enquiring and attending the ordinances, and all under the impulse of a sense of duty, may he become a steadfast believer. But if careless about God, he will be equally careless about any revelation that professes to have come from Him. The Bible may often solicit his eye, but still remain unopened and unused by him. That book from whose pages, if explored with honesty and prayer, there might beam a celestial effulgency upon his understanding, may be held in neglect or treated with insult and derision. For aught he knows, it may be the record of the will of Him who ushered him into life, and ministers to him all its enjoyments. And if ever the thought of this possibility visited his heart, and he in the face of it joined in the infidel cry of those who deride and who disown it-then on another day may the remembrance of this visitation rise in judgment against him; and it be made clear to his own conscience, that, in spurning the Bible from his door he braved the hazards of a contest with Omnipotence.


ROMANS ii, 1-12.

"Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things But we are sure that the judgment of God is ac cording to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this. O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering: not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance but, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath: tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace. to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law."

BEFORE proceeding to the exposition | concluding verse in the last chapter, that, of this chapter, it may be remarked of the with all the blindness which the apostle

they do not speak in vocables unknown; and sweet to many a soul is the preacher's voice, when he tells that unto them a Saviour is born; and, out of the relics of even this deep and settled degeneracy, can be gotten the materials of a satisfying demonstration; and thus in the very darkest places have converts multiplied, and Christian villages arisen, and the gospel been the savour of life unto life to the some who have embraced it, and been the savour of death unto death to the many who have declined it-all proving that a principle still existed in their bosoms, which if they followed would guide them to salvation, and which if they fled from would try them and find them to be guilty. Nor let us wonder therefore, that the apostle, even when speaking of those who are given over to every abomination, should still affirm of them that they know the judgments of God. Even a remainder of that knowledge which they liked not to retain, still kept its hold upon their conscience and gave them a responsibility which belongs not to the beasts that perish Man, in short, throughout the whole of this world's peopled territory, has a law by which he may righteously be judged; and still enough of it is known and felt by his own conscience to make it out, that for its violation he should be righteously condemned. So that, dark as our conceptions may be of the present character and fu ture fate of those who live under the shadow of heathenism, we may be sure that a clear and righteous principle of retribution will be applied to them all; and that they who shall be judged worthy of death on that day will be found to have committed such things, as they themselves either knew or might have known to be worthy of it.

charges on the heathen, and with all the | Insomuch that, let missionaries go to the dislike of retaining God in their know- very extremity of our species, and speak ledge which he ascribes to them-there of sin and judgment and condemnation, was still one particular of this knowledge which they did retain. They still knew as much of God's judgment, as to be conscious that what they were doing, in the sinfulness and reprobacy of their minds, was worthy of death. There was still a remainder of conscience about them, in virtue of which they felt that there were a sin and a condemnation which attached to their own persons. With all the obliteration which had come upon their moral faculties-there were still the traces of a law which they could obscurely read, and of a voice which faintly uttered itself in notes of disapprobation. They were conscious that all was not right about them; and had the impression of a being greater than themselves, to whose account they were responsible; and the idea of a reckoning and of a sentence were not altogether strange to their understanding. For still, in the most sunken ages of our decaying and deteriorating species, did each man carry about with him such a light as, if he did not follow it, would render him a sinner-not against such principles as were altogether hidden, but against such principles as were partly known to him. And such vestiges of a natural sense about the right and the wrong, may not only be gathered from the books of Pagan antiquity; but they may be still more satisfactorily educted, from the converse that we hold in the present day with the living Paganism which still abounds in our world. We know not a more deeply interesting walk of observation, than that which is prosecuted by modern missionaries, when they come into contact and communication with the men of a still unbroken country-when they make their lodgment on one of the remote and yet untravelled wilds of Paganism-when, after the interval of four thousand years from the dispersion of the great family of mankind, they go to one of its most widely diverging branches, and ascertain what of conscience or what of religious light has among them survived the lapse of so many generations-when they thus, as it were, knock at the door of nature left for ages to itself, and try if there yet be slumbering any sense or intelligence there which can at all respond to the message they have brought along with them. Nor do we know an evolution of the human heart which carries in it more of a big and an affecting interest, than that on which philosophy has never cast an enquiring regard even that among its dark and long unentered recesses, there still subsists an undying voice, which owns the comfort and echoes back the truth of Christianity.

There is still another phrase in the verse which may require to be adverted to. It is there said of the people who committed things worthy of death, that they not only did the same, but had pleasure in them that did them. This last marks a nigne and a more formed depravity, than the direct commission of that which is evil. To be hurried along by the violence of passion into some deed of licentiousness, may consist with the state of a mind that feels its own degradation, and mourns over the infirmity of its purposes. But to look with connivance and delight on the sin of others to have pleasure in their companionship and to spirit them on in the ways of disobedience, after perhaps the urgency which prompted his own career of it has abated-this argues, not the subjection of one faculty to another, but the subjection

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