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L A S T D A Y.
appears from the representations of our Lord that many, in the last great day, will experience unutterable disappointment. They expected admittance into heaven, but find it shut against them, and themselves excluded. Of the ten virgins, who went forth with their lamps to meet the bridegroom, only five were received to the marriage feast. The others came and cried for admittance, • Lord, Lord, open unto us. But he answered and said, Verily I say
I know you not.' Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name ? and in thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy naine done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you ; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.' • When once the master of the house has risen up, and shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, and he shall answer and say
I know you not whence ye are ; then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets ; but he shall say, 1 tell you I know you not whence ye are ; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.'
May it be deeply impressed, upon both writer and reader, that we are hasting together to the judgment;*
*“ I do not believe,” say some Unitarians, “ that there ever will be any general judgment. The assembled universe, so often spoken of, as gathered at once before the throne of God, to be reciprocally spectators of each other's trial and judgment is, I believe, a mere coinage of the human brain. Certainly the Scriptures assert no such thing.”. Christian Examiner, Vol. ix, p. 30. This also is understood to be the sentiment of Universalists generally. See Universalist Expositor, Vol. i. No. 2. With such persons, I cannot enter into any dispute. The awful plainness and solemnity of the subject forbid it. God hath said, that “ he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained," and that “we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” The declarations of Scripture, on this subject, need no explanation. And those who are not convinced by the testimony of God, mest assuredly would not be by the reasonings of man.
that to these eyes and ears its amazing realities will soon be revealed ; and if so many, who indulged hopes of heaven, will be disappointed in that day, and find themselves forever excluded, are we sure that we shall not be of the number? The bare possibility of such an event should excite the most wakeful apprehensions, and lead to the most diligent searchings of heart. My object in this Tract-an object of sufficient importance, surely, to command attention—will be to expose some of the grounds or reasons of those disappointments with which so many at the last will be overwhelmed.
1. Some will be disappointed, because they did not suppose any particular traits of character were requisite, in order to entitle them to the heavenly kingdom. They supposed that Christ died for all, in such a sense, that all of every character were authorized to expect salvation in his name. Or they believed that some means were provided, they hardly knew what, by which the whole race of men, without distinction, would eventually be received to heaven. Consequently they lived thoughtless and careless, engrossed with the trifles and the pleasures of the world, and neglected to form those holy, religious characters which many around them believed to be necessary. But--as there is any truth in the Bible—when persons of this description appear in the other world, they will find themselves most grievously disappointed. When they appear at heaven's gate, it will be shut against them; and shut, not only by the decree of the Saviour, but by the necessity of the case. They will be entirely unmeet for heaven. They will have an utter disrelish for divine employments and heavenly joys. They will see, that they could not be happy in heaven, if admitted, and, to their endless confusion, they will find, too late, that the blissful regions have no place for them. They must be excluded in outer darkness, and take their portion among the despairing and the miserable forever.
2. Not a few will be disappointed, when they appear before God in the other world, because they expected to have there a space for repentance. Unlike the class of whom I have spoken, these believed in the necessity of repentance ; but they did not believe that the space for repentance was limited to the present world.
They huped it would be extended to the other world ; and consequently, if they neglected religion here, that they should have an opportunity of embracing it hereafter. On this ground, they ventured to waste their time on earth, and to abuse the many opportunities with which they were favored. They loved the ways of sin, and presumed to persist in them, expecting there would be time enough for repentance, and a more convenient season for securing salvation, beyond the grave. But alas ! when the thread of life is severed, and their immortal spirits appear in eternity, they find that they have been mistaken. They find, that as the tree has fallen, so it must lie; and that
;; in the miserable state on which they have entered, no change for the better is to be expected. They must now reap according to that they have sown, and must be regarded and treated forever according to the deeds done in the body. Contrary to all previous expectation, they find that their probation is ended, their space for repentance closed, and their souls irrecoverably lost. Thus their once cherished hopes have vanished like a dream, and they are destroyed, and that without remedy.
3. Many will be disappointed, when summoned into the other world, because they did not live so long as they expected. They believed that a return to God was necessary to prepare them to enjoy his presence and fa or, and that this return must be accomplished on earth, or never ; but still they did not think there was any need of haste. They were in the vigor of their days, in the full enjoy, ment of health ; and if they thought of death at all, they thought of it only as a distant event. They were often warned that life was short and uncertain, and that their eternal well-being was at hazard; and they not unfre
quently made resolutions that when they had arrived at a certain period, they would repent. But when the promised period came, they were not ready. They found the same hindrances and objections as before, and that these were rather increased than diminished by delay. Of course, they could not attend to the subject then, but still did not cease to hope that some more convenient season would arrive. In this way, life ran to waste, death was comparatively excluded from their thoughts, and the concerns of the immortal soul were neglected and forgotten. But in an unexpected manner and moment, disease invaded, and the dread messenger approached. They had scarcely time to look about them, and realize their situation, before all hope of life was extinguished, and the arm of the king of terrors was lifted for their destruction. At this dreadful hour their distress and horror were unspeakable. They shuddered—they resolved—they entreated for mercy: but nothing could stay or avert the lifted hand of death. It fell—it despatched them—it sent them into the eternal world—it disclosed to them in a moment that all was lost. It showed them that the half of their doom had not been told them, and left them to wail on forever, • The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.'
4. Numbers will be disappointed hereafter, because they have mistaken the true character of God. They believed that persons must love God in order to enjoy him, and they flattered themselves that they did love him. They supposed, indeed, that they had always loved him, and that the love of God was one of the most natural affections of the human heart. They could not doubt that they were the friends of God, and that the judgment scene would test the sincerity of their friendship. But when they appear in the eternal world, to their unutterable confusion, they find, that the God they loved so well is not there. They discover that their God was a mere fiction, and had no existence save in their own imaginings: for instead of taking the character of God as he had himself revealed it, they fashioned it after their own fancies, and no wonder they loved it. No wonder they pleased themselves with the airy delusion. But though the phantom has fled, they find that the God of the Bible, the God of heaven remains. He remains, just as he revealed himself, glorious in holiness, angry with the wicked, delighting to show mercy to the penitent; but he will by no means tarnish the honor of his law, or clear the guilty. How shall they meet this holy and just God ? How shall they stand before him, and answer for denying him ? They feel that they cannot do it; and in consternation and confusion they cry to the rocks and mountains to fall upon them, and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne.
5. Another class will be disappointed in the judgment, because they have mistaken the nature of true religion. They believed religion necessary, as a preparation for death, and they clung to something which they thought was religion. They continued to cling to it to the last. But the moment they step into eternity, they find that they have been deceived. They have mistaken the shadow for the substance, and have clung to that which cannot support them.
Some mistake their orthodoxy for religion, and because they are speculatively correct in their religious opinions, Aatter themselves that they shall be accepted. But let such persons reme
member, that self-flattery like this is no part of orthodoxy—that there is such a thing as holding the truth in unrighteousness '—that an enlightened head renders an unsanctified heart the more inexcusable-and that mere speculation, however correct and extended, cannot save them. • Thou believest there is one God,' and believest many things which he has revealed ; thou doest well : the devils also believe and tremble.'
Some mistake their sincerity for religion, and think it enough to ensure their salvation that they are not chargeable with conscious hypocrisy. They sincerely believe what they profess, and this is all that can properly be required of them. Persons of this character-and it may be feared they are not few—seem not to know, that in the search of truth and duty, men may be blinded and deceived ; that they may be sincerely wrong, as well as sincerely right; and that “there is a way which seemeth right unto some, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” The Hindoo may be sincere, in his self-irnmolation. The Mohammedan may be sincere, in his long