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great power, and flourishing like a green bay tree. I went by, and, lo, he was gone ; I sought him, but his place could no where be found. Psal. xxxvii. 36.
It appears from what I have said, that no sinner can promise himself any security even in this present world : and if his heart is set in him to do evil, because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, he will soon find himself miserably deceived. This point being settled, I cannot help observing to you, how idly people are often heard to talk about sin and its punishment. They suppose that God does not punish sin in this world, and therefore that it is uncharitable for us to judge that he does so in any particular instance: but on the contrary, God does often punish sin openly and visibly; and therefore it must be our duty to see that he does. For if God punishes some for a warning to others, what benefit can arise to those who do not see it? And in many cases, the judginent of God is so plain, that men must either see it, or shut their eyes against it. If they are not taught by it, they will have to answer for their indocility; and God, who never brings evil upon some, but out of mercy to others, will be justified in all his ways. It must be said, that the judgment which falls upon sinners in this world, is suspended for so long a time (God waiting for their amendment in many cases) that men persuade themselves it will never be executed at all: that there is either no invisible judge of human actions; or that if there is, he careth not about them for the present, but putteth off all judgment to another world : and perhaps when they have got thus far, their next step is to deny the punishments of the other world; and not only to deny them, but even to mock at them.
I know how wicked people corrupt one another with foolish and wicked reflexions : the fire of hell, it is true, was ordained for the punishinent of devils : but if there be Christians, so called, who take part with the devil in bis sin, they must expect to have their part in his punishment; they will be consigned to the company they have chosen, They who think with angels, and praise God with angels, will live with angels, They who think with devils must have their place with devils: they hate the ways of God, and mock at them; devils hate them, but they do not mock at them; they know too much for that; and in this they tempt ignorant men to be more wicked and desperate than they dare to be themselves; which is a fearful consideration. Devils who dare not mock at God, will mock at them for their folly, and accuse men before God as more wicked than evil spirits : and what can such men say for themselves? they will be speechless then, however rapidly and boldly they may talk now. To such false confidence as this is that warnįng given, in the same book from whence my text is taken-Rejoice, O young man in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes—that is, go on in the ways of thine own passions and opinionsbut know thou, that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment. Eccl. xi. 9.
That God will judge men hereafter, we have no doubt : that he often judges them here, cannot be de. nied: and though all the laws of infinite justice, by which rewards and punishments are administered in this world and the next, are such as we can neither find out nor understand, still the reason is sufficiently clear, why good men are often punished in this world, and bad men are not.
It was observed above, that God can punish and forgive at the same time; because punishment from him, when it falls upon good men, is not the punishment of wrath and vengeance, but that of love and correction; it is therefore a sign that he forgives, and it ought to be so'un derstood. It may seem a strange doctrine, that God should punish while he forgives; but it is certainly true. When Nathan said to David, the sword shall never depart from thy house; he said at the same time, the Lord hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die. God therefore forgives while he риnishes, and punishes because he forgives. It may possibly be a privilege of the godly to suffer under him ; and every wise Christian will pray, as many have been known to do, that they may have all their punishment in this world. If they are the sons of God, they must be corrected when they offend : for what wise father is there who doth not correct his own children? It is a sign that they þelong to God; who speaking to his people Israel, saith, You only have I known of all the families of the Earth, therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities. What a comfort is it under every amiction for a Christian to know, that his sufferings mark him for a child of God, under the cure of the Almighty ! He has little to fear, in life or in death.
On the other hand, when we see the wicked not only unpunished, but even prosperous, it is no sign that they are in a safe way, but the contrary; they are neglected and left to their own ways, because they are bastards and not sons: they escape in this world, because they are reserved for the punishment of another, and miserable will they be when the day of their visitation shall come ! We see one in the Gospel, possessed for a time of his good things, and faring sumptuously every day : but how soon does he lift up his eyes in
torment! This is the end of such a man, be he never so easy and prosperous
in his life. The sentence may be speedily executed upon him, and often is. He has no security against it, and he has reason to fear it every day: but however slow it may be in its approach, it is sure to come at last. Cloud after cloud may pass over him : but one will come, a black and dark one, from whence the storm will break upon bis head. How foolish and mad are all the ungodly speeches, by which he and his empty companions set judgment at defiance. Alas, poor sinner! whilst thou art boasting that no harm shall happen to thee, the judge is standing at the door, ready to enter, and condemn thee to everlasting torment.
I speak not to them who sin of malignity, and unbelief, for they come not for instruction; but if there be any here, whose hearts are set to do evil, from carelessness and inconsideration; 0, let them awake, and consider these things : let them judge themselves here, and pray that God also may touch their hearts, and take them under his correction in the time
present, that their souls may be saved in the day of the Lord!
AND AS JESUS PASSED BY, HE SAW A MAN WHICH
WAS BLIND FROM HIS BIRTH. JOHN ix. 1.
HESE words are introductory to an history so curious in the subject of it, and so remarkable in all its circumstances, that there is nothing of the kind, which can be more worthy of our meditation.
We have here the story of a man blind from his birth; on whose case a question is raised; how and for what reason Providence had ordered such a thing?
Next we have the cure of this man, with the manner 'of it, and the moral of it: the explanation of which would, of itself, furnish matter enough for a sermon.
After this we have a particular account of the effect wronght upon the Pharisees; where we see how truth operates upon those that will not receive it.
Then there is the condition and disposition of those that do receive it: which we see in the account of the man himself,
And last of all, the Judgment of Jesus Christ upon both parties" For judgment. I am come into this