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believe that death, or hell, are only punishments arbitrarily fixed by God against his sins, he can hope that God will let him off the punishment. Die, he knows he must, because all men die ; and so he makes up his mind to that: but being sent to hell after he dies is so very terrible a punishment, that he cannot believe that God will be so hard on him as that. No; he will get off, and be forgiven at last somehow, for surely God will not condemn him to hell. And so he finds it very convenient and comfortable to believe in hell, just because he does not believe that he is going there, whoever else may be.
But it is a very terrible, heartrending thought, for a man to find out that what he will receive is not punishment, but wages; not punishment, but the end of the very road which he is travelling on. That the wages of sin, and the end of sin, to which it must lead, are death; that every time he sins he is earning those wages, deserving them, meriting them, and therefore receiving them by the just laws of the world of God. That does torment him, that does terrify
him, if he will look stedfastly at the broad plain fact—You need not dream of being let off, respited, reprieved, pardoned in any way. The thing cannot be done. It is contrary to the laws of God and of God's universe. It is as impossible as that fire should not burn, or water run up hill. It is not a question of arbitrary punishment, which may be arbitrarily remitted; but of wages, which you needs must take, weekly, daily, and hourly; and those wages are death : a question of travelling on a certain road, whereon if you travel it long enough, you must come to the end of it; and the end is death. Your sins are killing you by inches; all day long they are sowing in you the seeds of disease and death. Every sin which you commit with your body shortens your bodily life. Every sin you commit with your mind, every act of stupidity, folly, wilful ignorance, helps to destroy your mind, and leave you dull, silly, devoid of right reason. Every sin you commit with your spirit, each sin of passion and temper, envy and malice, pride and vanity, injustice and cruelty, extravagance and self-indulgence, helps to
destroy your spiritual life, and leave you bad, more and more unable to do the right and avoid the wrong, more and more unable to discern right from wrong; and that last is spiritual death, the eternal death of your moral being. There are three parts in you-body, mind, and spirit; and every sin you commit helps to kill one of these three, and, in many cases, to kill all three together.
So, sinner, dream not of escaping punishment at the last. You are being punished now, for you are punishing yourself; and you will continue to be punished for ever, for you will be punishing yourself for ever, as long as you go on doing wrong, and breaking the laws which God has appointed for body, mind, and spirit. You can see that a drunkard is killing himself, body and mind, by drink. You see that he knows that, poor wretch, as well as you. He knows that every time he gets drunk he is cutting so much off his life; and yet he cannot help it. He knows that drink is poison, and yet he goes back to his poison.
Then know, habitual sinner, that you are like that drunkard. That every bad habit in which you indulge is shortening the life of some of your faculties, and that God himself cannot save you from the doom which you are earning, deserving, and working out for yourself every day and every hour.
O how men hate that message the message that the true wrath of God, necessary, inevitable, is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men. How they writhe under it! How they shut their ears to it, and cry to their preachers, “No! Tell us of any wrath of God but that! Tell us rather of the torments of the damned, of a frowning God, of absolute decrees to destruction, of the reprobation of millions before they are born ; any *doctrine, however fearful and horrible: because 'we don't quite believe it, but only think that 'we ought to believe it. Yes, tell us anything rather than that news, which cuts at the root of all our pride, of all our comfort, and all our superstition—the news that we cannot escape 'the consequences of our own actions ; that there
are no back stairs up which we may be smuggled
' into heaven ; that as we sow, so we shall reap; * that we are filled with the fruits of our own
devices; every man his own poisoner, every man his own executioner, every man his own suicide; that hell begins in this life, and death begins ' before we die :-do not say that: because we
cannot help believing it; for our own consciousness and our own experience tell us it is true.' No wonder that the preacher who tells men that is hated, is called a Rationalist, a Pantheist, a heretic, and what not, just because he does set forth such a living God, such a justice of God, such a wrath of God as would make the sinner tremble, if he believed in it, not merely once in a way, when he hears a stirring sernion about the endless torments : but all day long, going out and coming in, lying on his bed and walking by the way, always haunted by the shadow of himself, knowing that he is bearing about in him the per. petually growing death of sin.
And still more painful would this message be to the sinner, if he had any kindly feeling for others; and, thank God, there are few who