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SERMON IV.

There is no Peace to the Wicked.

ISAIAH LVII. 20, 21.

THE WICKED ARE LIKE THE TROUBLED SEA, WHEN IT CANNOT

REST, WHOSE WATERS CAST UP MIRE AND DIRT. THERE IS NO PEACE, SAITH MY GOD, TO THE WICKED.

The distinction between the righteous and the wicked, is not more clearly asserted in the volume of inspiration, than it is made to appear in their respective existing conditions. This economy in the divine administration, is marked with his own peculiar wisdom and benevolence. Consistency and uniformity might pervade all the diversified arrangements of his government of the world, and yet not stand out so conspicuously as to meet the notice of all. The language of his providence and of his word, might be entirely harmonious, and yet to minds like ours, so liable to misinterpret both, there might appear a very palpable contradiction between them. So that without the actual existence of the remotest occasion for it, we might be perplexed, embarrassed, and distressed, in witnessing before our eyes, events and circumstances apparently at variance with the plain statements of scripture. But we are relieved from all painful embarrassments of this nature. God never appears to contradict, by what is taking place around us, what he has written on the pages of the bible. By neglecting this light, and endeavoring to ascertain the character and mind of the Holy One by the light of nature, men have become involved in perplexing difficulties at once. They have been stumbled at every step in discovering some imagined anomaly in the divine government-something contrary to their previous notions of his character—something which almost drove them to the gloomy refuge of atheism. Through this neglect, even good men, from partial and mistaken views, have scarcely escaped falling. Their feet have been almost gone—their steps have well nigħ slipped. Their embarrassment has generally arisen from contemplating the apparently felicitous lot of the wicked. But, their difficulty has all vanished, the moment they have gone to the bible. There they have understood, not only their end, but their present state. There they have learned, that, however prosperous, cheerful, gay, and happy, the wicked may seem, they are nevertheless, like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There too, it has been found out, that, though they may speak peace to themselves, and declare of themselves, that they enjoy peace, yet as God is true, there is no peace to the wicked.

The text I have thus introduced, will lead me to consider,

I. The fact, that the wicked are strangers to true peace.

II. The reasons why they are so. And

III. To notice more particularly their condition as indicated by the figure in the text.

I. I am to consider the fact, that the wicked are strangers to real peace. It is proper here to observe, that in the scriptures the term wicked is not applied exclusively to the openly flagitious and abandoned. All are wicked, in the sense invariably attached to the word throughout the bible, who are not righteous-who are not spiritual believers—who are not renewed in the prevailing habits and taste of the mind. A righteous person may conduct wickedly, and a wicked person may do many things bearing an external conformity to a righteous rule, and yet the one is a new creature, alive to God, the other is dead in trespasses and sins.

kind.

Allow me to observe likewise, in this place, that when the scriptures pronounce the wicked strangers to peace, it is not intended that they never have a state of mind, which they regard as yielding them slight and transient emotions of peace. They have something, which may be called composure or peace of mind. Some are constitutionally placid. Their thoughts and feelings flow in an even current. They are not susceptible of high excitement, or strong emotions of any This sluggish tide of feelings resembles peace, is sometimes mistaken for it, and called by the name. Others, by long habits of sin, by withstanding the peculiar motives of religion, and resisting the convictions of a gracious Spirit, so deaden their original sensibilities as to remain unmoved and undisturbed by considerations, which otherwise would put an end to every thing, that might be mistaken for rest or peace.' Another class, who flatter themselves that they have peace though they walk in the imagination of their own hearts, derive it from a view of their attention to many of the relative and social duties of life, and of their exemption from many of the prevailing sins and vices of mankind. This often pacifies conscience, calms rising fears, and quells those alarms, which in spite of all their exterior piety, will, at times, awaken troublous commotions in the mind. Thus I would not deny, for it is not denied in the scriptures of truth, that persons belonging to either of these classes of the wicked, may occasionally experience intervals of quietude and serenity of mind, which, because their experience reaches no farther, they may suppose to be true spiritual peace, or the peace of God which passeth understanding. But the number of those to whom this concession is made, has always been exceedingly small. So that, were the peace they enjoy less decidedly spurious—were it any thing real, sub

stantial, satisfying, lasting, it would scarcely furnish a reason why the declaration in the text should be less universal. If one in ten thousand, or in a thousand were clearly an exception, it would still remain a general truth, and might without any danger of misleading mankind, be declared, that there is no peace to the wicked. This He, who has perfectly known the state of every mind, that has ever had an existence in our world, has declared. And a single declaration of his, stamps it with the authority of eternal truth. This makes it certain, that although there is sometimes a seeming tranquillity, there is nothing like real peace. This settles the point, that, while constitutional gentleness, or acquired obduracy, or self complacency, wears the

aspect of inward serenity, there is concealed beneath a fictitious guise, a state of turbulency and restlessness. And where is any authority for an opposite sentiment? The bible, indeed, speaks of a certain class of men who call the wicked happy, and say peace, peace to them, when there is no peace. But look through this volume, and point me to a single passage, which taken in its proper connexion, represents the existing condition of the wicked as happy or desirable, and I will acknowledge that false prophets may be the preachers of truth and righteousness. On the contrary, who can repeat, or enumerate those texts, which give a most fearful account of the sinner's wretchedness in the present life? He travails

in pain all his days. A dreadful sound is in

Trouble and anguish make him afraid. Destruction and misery are in his path, and the way of peace he knows not. What especially contributes to the existing unhappiness of the wicked, is the connexion of their present state and character with their future destiny. The expectation of the wicked shall perish. When the wicked spring as the grass, and all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed forever. The wicked are reserved for the day of destruction. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked.

his ears.

pomp and

and power,

Woe unto the wicked, it shall be ill with them. They shall be driven away in their wickedness. They shall le turned into hell. Such is a specimen of the language, in which the word of God declares the fact I am considering. Nor does it appear any less certain and unquestionable in the life and conduct of the wicked, whose history is given on these pages. Run through the bible, with a special view to the degree of confirmation this fact receives from an authentic and infallible record of the state and character of numerous individuals, who lived during a period of more than three thousand years. Mark the way which the wicked have trodden. It has often been the

It has often been the way of wealth and luxury, of learning and refinement, of but it has never been the way of peace. Not to speak of the condition of the whole heathen world through this long interval—to say nothing of the cloud of sin, of ignorance, and of wretchedness, that shrouded, in midnight blackness, so wide an extent of earth's population, and poured its contents of woe into every heart of the mighty multitude-withdrawing our observation wholly from this portion of our race, and noticing those only who lived beneath the light, and shared the indirect benefits of the true religion, and where can be found an individual, in all that catalogue of the ungodly recorded by the pen of inspiration, who was not as truly miserable, as he was undeniably an enemy to God by wicked works ? Many of them possessed in a large measure, whatever this world has to contribute to the satisa faction and quiet of the mind, and yet they were ever restless and unsatisfied.

To confirm still farther the truth of this fact, I might go on to adduce the testimony of the truly pious in every age. All such have been unregenerate, and experienced the condition of those who are unreconciled to God. And who needs be told what their language has been on this point ? One and all of them bear witness that, to be unrenewed in mind, is to be a stranger to peace.

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