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appointed day of God's patience, which is as certainly limited as it was to the old world. God hath set your bounds, which you cannot pass. Though now warnings are continued in plenty, yet there will be last knocks and last calls, the last that ever you shall hear. When the appointed time shall be elapsed, God will shut the door, and you shall never see it open again ; for God shutteth and no man openeth.---If you improve not your opportunity before that time, you will cry in vain, “ Lord, Lord, open to us." (Matt. xi. 12. and Luke xiii. 25, &c.) While you shall stand at the door with your piteous cries, the flood of God's wrath will come upon you, overwhelm you, and you shall not escape. The tempest shall carry you away without mercy, and you shall be for ever swallowed up and lost.
3. Consider how mighty the billows of divine wrath will be when they shall come. The waters of Noah's flood were very great. The deluge was vast; it was very deep; the billows reached fifteen cubits above the highest mountains ; and it was an ocean which had no shore; signifying the greatness of that wrath which is coming on wicked men in another world, which will be like a mighty flood of waters overwhelming them, and rising vastly high over their heads, with billows reaching to the very heavens. Those billows will be higher, and heavier than mountains on their poor souls. The wrath of God will be an ocean without shores, as Noah's flood was : it will be misery that will have no end.
The misery of the damned in hell can be better represented by nothing, than by a deluge of misery, a mighty deluge of wrath, which will be ten thousand times worse than a deluge of waters; for it will be a deluge of liquid fire, as in the scriptures it is called a lake of fire and brimstone.-At the end of the world all the wicked shall be swallowed up in a vast deluge of fire, which shall be as great and as mighty as Noah's deluge of water. (See 2 Pet. iii. 5, 6, 7.) After that the wicked will have mighty billows of fire and brimstone eternally rolling over their poor souls, and their miserable tormented bodies. Those billows may be called vast liquid mountains of fire and brimstone. And when one billow shall have gone over their heads, another shall follow, without intermission, giving them no rest day nor night to all eternity.
4. This food of wrath will probably come upon you suddenly, when you shall think little of it, and it shall seem far from you. so the flood came upon the old world; See Matt. xxiv. 36, &c. --Probably many of them were surprised in the night by the waters bursting in suddenly at their doors, or under the foundations of their houses, coming in upon them in their beds. For when the fountains of the great deep were broken up, the waters, as observed before, burst forth in mighty torrents. To such
a sudden surprise of the wicked of the old world in the night, probably that alludes in Job xxvii. 20. “Terrors take hold on him as waters; a tempest stealeth him away in the night.
So destruction is wont to come on wicked men, who hear many warnings of approaching destruction, and yet will not be influenced by them. For “he that is often reproved, and hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." (Prov. xxix. 1.). And when they shall say, Peace and safety ; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape.' 1 Thess. v. 3.
5. If you will not hearken to the many warnings which are given you of approaching destruction, you will be guilty of more than brutish madness. “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib.” They know upon whom they are dependent, and whom they must obey, and act accordingly. But you, so long as you neglect your own salvation, act as if you knew not God, your creator and proprietor, nor your dependence upon him.-The very beasts, when they see signs of an approaching storm, will betake themselves to their dens for shelter. Yet you, when abundantly warned of the approaching storm of divine vengeance, will not fly to the hiding place from the storm, and the covert from the tempest. The sparrow, the swallow, and other birds, when they are forewarned of approaching winter, will betake themselves to a safer climate. Yet you who have been often forewarned of the piercing blasts of divine wrath, will not, in order to escape them, enter into the New Jerusalem, of most mild and salubrious air, though the gate stands wide open to receive you. The very ants will be diligent in summer to lay up for winter : Yet you will do nothing to lay up in store a good foundation against the time to come. Balaam's ass would not run upon a drawn sword, though his master, for the sake of gain, would expose himself to the sword of God's wrath; and so God made the dumb ass, both in words and actions, to rebuke the madness of the prophet, 1 Pet. ii. 16. In like manner, you, although you have been often warned that the sword of God's wrath is drawn against you and will certainly be thrust through you, if you proceed in your present course, still proceed regardless of the consequence.
So God made the very beasts and birds of the old world to rebuke the madness of the men of that day : For they, even all sorts of them, fled to the ark, while the door was yet open: which the men of that day refused to do; God hereby thus sig. nifying, that their folly was greater than that of the very brute creatures.-Such folly and madness are you guilty of, who refuse to hearken to the warnings that are given you of the approaching flood of the wrath of God.
You have been once more warned to-day, while the door of the ark yet stands open. You have, as it were, once again heard the knocks of the hammer and axe in the building of the ark, to put you in mind that a flood is approaching. Take heed therefore that you do not still stop your ears, treat these warnings with a regardless heart, and still neglect the great work which you have to do, lest the flood of wrath suddenly come upon you, sweep you away, and there be no remedy,
THE UNREASONABLENESS OF INDETERMINATION IN
1 KINGS XVIII. 21.
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt
ye between two opinions ? If the Lord be God, follow him ; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
It is the manner of God, before he bestows any signal mercy on a people, first to prepare them for it; and before he removes any awful judgments which he hath brought upon them for their sins, first to cause them to forsake those sins which procured those judgments. We have an instance of this in the context.
-It was a time of sore famine in Israel. There had been neither rain nor dew for the space of three years and six months. This famine was brought upon the land for their idolatry. But God was now about to remove this judgment; and therefore, to prepare them for it, sends Elijah to convince them of the folly of idolatry, and to bring them to repentance for it. In order to this, Elijah, by the command of the Lord, goes and shews himself to Ahab, and directs him to send and gather all Israel to him at Mount Carmel, and all the prophets of Baal, four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves that ate at Jezebel's table, four hundred, that they might determine the matter and bring the controversy to an issue, whether Jehovah or Baal were God. To this end, Elijah proposes, that each should take a bullock, that he should take one, and the prophets of Baal another, that each should cut his bullock in pieces, lay it on the wood, and put no fire under; and that the God who should answer by fire should be concluded to be God.
The text contains an account of what Elijah said to all the people at their first meeting, and of their silence: “ And Elijab came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him ; but if Baal,
Eated, June 1734,
then follow him." To which the people, it seems, made no reply. In these words, we may observe,
1. How Elijah expostulates with the people about their halting so long between two opinions ; in which expostulation may be observed,
(1.) What the two opinions were, between which they halted, viz. Whether the Lord were God, or whether Baal were God. The case in Israel seems to have been this; there were some who were altogether for Baal, and wholly rejected the true God; of which number, to be sure, were Jezebel and the prophets of Baal. And there were some among them who were altogether for the God of Israel, and wholly rejected Baal; as God told Elijah, that “ he had yet left in Israel seven thousand that had not bowed the knee to Baal, and whose mouths had not kissed him.” i Kings xix. 18.
But the rest of the people halted between two opinions, They saw that some were for one, and some for the other, and they did not know which to choose; and, as is commonly the case when difference of opinion prevails, there were many who had no religion at all; they were not settled in any thing ; the different opinions prevalent in Israel distracted and confounded them. Many who professed to believe in the true God, were yet very cold and indifferent, and many were wavering and unsettled. They saw that the king and queen were for Baal; and Baal's party was the prevailing party ; but their forefathers had been for the Lord ; and they knew not which were right. Thus they halted between two opinions.
(2.) In this expostulation is implied the unreasonableness of their thus halting between two opinions. “ How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him ; but if Baal, then follow him.” Which implies that they ought to determine one way or the other.
2. We may observe their silence on this occasion : And the people answered bim not a word,” as being convicted in their own consciences of the unreasonableness of their being for so long a time wavering and unresolved; they had nothing to reply in excuse for themselves.
Doctrine. Unresolvedness in religion is very unreasonable.
1. Prop. Many persons remain exceedingly undetermined with respect to religion. They are very much undetermined in themselves whether to embrace religion or to reject it. Many who are baptized, and make a profession of religion, and seem to be Christians, are yet in their own minds halting between two opinions : they never yet came fully to a conclusion whether to be Christians or not. They are taught the Christian religion in their childhood, and have the Bible, the word preached, and the means of grace all their days ; yet continue, and grow up, and