Psalm 51, 17.—The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, 0 God, thou wilt not despise.
The process of salvation is, and must remain, a mystery to those who never shall experience its power. They may apprehend correctly the great doctrines of religion; they may make nice and accurate distinctions in theology; they may speculate ingeniously, and reason powerfully, as to the nature and the means of conversion; but they never can be made to understand, without experience, the mysteries of saving and regenerating grace; the practical mysteries of that deep, noiseless, thorough, total, lasting change, effected in the hearts of men by one touch of God's finger—by one breath of his Spirit. And yet the work is going on among them without ceasing. Ah! how little do the unconverted know of what is passing in the bosoms of their neighbours. How little does their shallow, superficial experience, teach them of the depths of their own hearts, until the fountains of that great abyss are broken up and the windows of heaven opened from above by the same almighty power.
The sanctuary where the broken-hearted sinner
seeks and finds a refuge, may be likened to a temple in the midst of a great city, passed by thousands every hour, but entered only by a few ; and yet it is separated from the crowded thoroughfare bj no solid wall, or massive seats, but by a veil or curtain which the hand of faith and penitence may raise at pleasure, and through which a strange light glimmers from within and strange sounds fall upon the ear of passers by. And ever and anon some one stops to gaze and listen; he stands still for a moment and then hurries on; another stops, and moved by curiosity draws nearer to the entrance, listens, wavers, turns away, and passes on. Another draws still nearer, looks and listens, lays his hand upon the curtain, and then draws back from the very threshold and is seen no more. Another stops to look and listen, not from idle curiosity, but weary, weak, and sick at heart, despairing of a refuge from the evils which pursue him; he falls prostrate on the threshold—the veil rises for a moment—he is drawn within its shelter, and is seen no more.
But I have represented some who do not enter, as listeners at the threshold; these are they who treat religion with respect and curiosity, but never know its power. As they stand and gaze at the mysterious shadows which are thrown upon the curtain from within, the sound of many mingled voices strikes their ears. These they know to be the voices of regenerated sinners, the elect of God. But it is not the voice of triumph which they thought to hear; it is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, nor yet the voice of them that sing for joy; it is more like "the
voice of them that cry for being overcome." It is a voice of suppressed wailing from a multitude of broken and of breaking hearts, going up like melancholy music to the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth! As the veil of the temple is shaken by the wind, the listener gets a glimpse of its interior; he sees an altar —an altar of atonement—not an altar of oblation— not an altar of burnt offering—but an altar of incense. The bloody sacrifice has been already offered, and accepted, and applied. The blood has been sprinkled and the vapour has ascended ; and the penitent who laid his hand upon the victim's head approaches to the golden altar, not to purchase pardon but to offer gifts. And on the altar the oblation lies—a heart— a bruised and broken heart—a heart once stained, alas, how deeply, but now fresh from the laver of regeneration; a heart pierced with many sorrows, the deep scars of which remain, but now melted and broken by the fire and the hammer of God's efficacious word. There it lies encompassed in the newly-kindled flame of pure and holy love; and as it burns there unconsumed, a sweet and solemn voice, like the voice of a parent to a suffering child, says: "My son, give me thine heart;" and another one, still tremulous with weeping, cries out from beneath the altar: "My heart is fixed, oh God, my heart is fixed ;" and then a multitude of voices, like the sound of rushing waters, are heard saying all together: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
It is this that the proud, the sensual, and the frivolous cannot understand. It is this mysterious sacrifice of broken hearts at which they wonder or at which they laugh. Apart from all mistake as to the fundamental doctrine of atonement, they still stumble at this stumbling stone. Who can tell what merriment the men of this world have derived, in this and other ages, from the sighs and tears of penitence? How many sound and good hearts, in the world's estimation and their own, have been made glad and proud of their own greatness, by the anguish of some broken spirit, by the agonizing throbs of some contrite and broken heart In multitudes of cases the contempt and the derision have been never known to him who was their object, but in multitudes of others, the first pangs of godly sorrow have been strangely mingled with the painful sense that all who pass by wag the head and shoot the lip in bitter scorn; and that the man whom God has smitten is the song of the drunkards in their secret haunts or in their public gatherings to strengthen one another's hands and hearts in Satan's service. Under the pressure of these complicated pains, the penitent is often ready to cry out: "For thy sake I have borne reproach: shame hath covered my face. They that sit in the gate speak against me, and I am the song of the drunkards. Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness. I looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none." The dread of this has stifled the incipient convictions of its thousands and its tens of thousands.
Are there none now present, who have thus been driven back, first to silence, then to apathy, and then to sin? Are there none now present who at this very moment are aware of such a struggle in their hearts? And are there none, nay rather, are there not very many, who can now thank God that they have passed through this fiery ordeal?—who remember when reproach had well nigh broken their hearts too, until the sense of man's derision was absorbed in that of their own guilt before God; until they felt that their excessive sensibility to men's reproaches was a relic of unbroken pride; until they saw that they were but sharers, and small sharers, in the Lord's reproach; and comparing their own trials as to this point with his buffetings and cruel mockings, they were suddenly inflamed with zeal to vindicate his honour and forget their own, crying out, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up: the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me." Then were they made to understand that the best cure for a heart which pride has broken, is a heart bruised and broken on account of sin ; and that while this brokenness of heart is matter of derision to the worldling, "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
How different from this is the experience of the unconverted, unsaved sinner, even when his theoretical opinions of the method of salvation are correct. Let us suppose the case of one well instructed in the doctrines of religion and unable to obliterate the deep intellectual impressions of his early training, but a stranger to the power of religion in his heart. He knows and will acknowledge that he is a sinner; that his sins deserve the wrath and curse of God in this life and the life to come; that if saved at all he must be saved through Christ; that no outward acts or mental exercises of his own can expiate the guilt of sin ; that even faith, to which eternal life is promised, has no merit in the sight of God, but is a mere reception of the grace which brings salvation. All this the man appears to understand, and professes to believe; and under some auspicious influence, he resolves, perhaps, to act upon his principles, believing as he does that atonement has been made ; and relying, as he thinks, upon the merit of that sacrifice, he wonders that he has not the assurance of forgiveness, joy and peace in believing, peace of conscience, peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. But alas, he has to learn that, though the sacrifice which purchases salvation, has been offered once for all upon the cross, and though he cannot cast an atom's weight into the scale of Christ's preponderating merits, there is still a sacrifice which he must offer, and without which he can never be accepted; a sacrifice so far from being meritorious or in any degree capable of making expiation for the sins of him who makes it, that it never can be offered but by one whose sin is already covered, and to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. The expiatory altar of the Jewish ritual was situated in the open court, and only they who passed by this could draw near to the altar of incense. This secondary sacrifice can be accepted from no hands but those which are already reeking with the blood of the sin offering. In short the sinner knows not, that although his guilt can be removed by nothing but the sacrifice of Christ, his interest in that atonement can be proved by nothing but the sacrifice of himself—" a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God."
Here is the rock on which the Antinomian of every age concerning faith has made shipwreck. On the pretext that the sacrifice of Christ is all:sufficient, he withholds the oblation of himself to God. Because he has no merit, he believes he has no duty, and throws off at once his sense of goodness and his sense of obligation; and because the grace of God abounds to sinners, he goes on in sin, that grace may abound. But the day is coming when the wood, hay, and stubble of such hopes shall be consumed in the crackling furnace of God's righteous retributions; and even they who thus abused the doctrine of gratuitous salvation, and the all-sufficiency of Christ's atonement, shall see by the glare of the final conflagration, that the sacrifice of Christ for any individual, upon the altar of atonement, is inseparably connected with the self-immolation of the man himself upon the altar of God's service; that no man who rejects the one can lay claim to the other ; that Christ gives the purchase of his agonies to no one who refuses or neglects to give himself to God; and that although this selfsacrifice is not demanded as a previous condition of access to Christ, it does arise from it as a necessary consequence, and does therefore serve as an infallible criterion of any person's interest in Christ's atonement.
But let us suppose the sinner to be now convinced of this important truth ; to believe, that while his only hope of everlasting life is in the sacrifice of Christ, he has no right to believe that it was offered up for him, until he offers up himself, through Christ, to God. Here, again, he is liable to fatal error. He may wash his hands in innocency and so compass the altar of God; he may bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar; he may offer it upon the altar with the most imposing rites; but no sweet savour rises from it to the throne of God. The victim and the offerer are alike rejected—
"For God abhors the sacrifice
Where not the heart is found."
The man has brought his body and his outward wealth, his time, his talents, and his acquisitions, but his heart is left behind. This is the error of the formalist who, whether right or wrong in his conceptions of the method of salvation, whether trusting in his own works as an adjunct of Christ's sacrifice, or believing truly that the sacrifice is all-sufficient, but that it requires and indeed produces a self-sacrifice on man's part, fails, after all, to present the right oblation. Ah, how many well-instructed and apparently sincere professors are there, who, acknowledging their obligation to give all to God, and professing so to do, do in fact withhold the very thing which God requires, endeavouring to please him and to satisfy their consciences by strict compliance with external rules, without a yielding up of the affections of the soul and of the soul itself, which is their reasonable service.
But the heart is not only a necessary part of .the required oblation. It is itself the very thing required. It is the heart which gives vitality and value to the rest. It is because words and actions come forth from the heart, that they have any value; and without this, they are worthless, nay, offensive, as professing to be what they are not. Not only is the sinner bound to sacrifice himself upon the altar of God's service, but to sacrifice his heart, which is indeed himself.
This is a second stage in the progress of discovery to which we may suppose the inquirer's mind to have attained. He knows that if Christ gave himself for him, he must give his heart without reserve to Christ. And here again begins to show itself that spiritual blindness which has been before described. The man consents to give his heart to God, just as it is; but what a heart! It must be laid upon the altar whole, unbroken and unmelted. He consents, perhaps, that it should first be cleansed. He is willing that those deep, dark stains should be washed out, and that those ulcers should be healed by the application of another's blood. This is all that he will offer—all he has to give. But ah, what changes are to pass upon that heart before it is accepted. How little does he think that it must first be pierced and bruised and broken! Or if informed of this necessity, how quickly does hia pride revolt! The natural man may be brought to acknowledge his corruption, and to assent in profession to the only means by which it can be purged; but he never can divest himself of his old feelings with respect to the firmness and the stoutness of his heart. He may plead guilty to a mere superficial depravation, but he openly or secretly exults in his integrity and strength of heart. He boasts in time of trouble that his heart does not fail him, and prides himself upon his openness of heart. He would rather be thought to have a heart of iron than a heart of wax. He lays his hand upon his heart as if to swear by it; and, in short, deifies that very heart which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; and with these very feelings, and especially this confidence and pride in the integrity and firmness of his heart, he sometimes draws near to the altar of his God, there to offer up his hard heart as a sacrifice. But there he is thrust back, with an assurance that his stony heart must first be broken. The result of this discovery is very different in different cases. Some are disgusted by it, and go back forever. Others, towards whom God has purposes of mercy, are subjected to a process which results in an effectual contrition of their hearts. However reluctant they may feel at first to undergo the change, the time comes when they not only feel it, but rejoice in it. As the same apostle who at first said, Lord, thou shalt never wash my feet, said at last, Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
And thus they are brought by the winding course of their experience to the knowledge and belief of these three propositions: 1. Every sinner who is saved through the sacrifice of Christ, must also sacrifice himself to God. 2. This self-immolation must include the heart, or rather it is really an offering of the heart. 3. The heart thus offered must be broken and contrite.
But it is now time to consider in what this brokenness of heart consists. The figure is a common one perhaps in all languages. In our own, it is one of those expressions which most vividly arouse the sympathies, and with which are associated some of the most tender and affecting images that fancy can create or memory recall. Who is there here, however narrow his experience, who cannot call to mind some memorable case of deep affliction, in which the hopes of the sufferer, so far as this life is concerned, were not only nipped in the bud, or blasted in the flower, but suddenly and violently plucked up by the roots, in which the affections which had twined themselves around earthly objects, were at once and forever snapped asunder, and the soul became dead to the world, not by spiritual crucifixion, but by a providential flash and thunderbolt. It is to such cases of abrupt separation from the hopes and the enjoyments of the present life, that we familiarly apply the figure of a broken heart. And the phrase appears especially appropriate and natural, when those who suffer are in character and circumstances such as to excite compassion unalloyed with any harsh or acrimonious feeling —such as cannot or will not seek a stoical relief in moody silence, or in proud endurance—such as suffer without fault, or through the fault of others—and, above all, such as suffer without hope of reparation in the present life. It is of such that we are wont to speak as broken-hearted; and when the sufferings of such extend to the sudden or gradual decay of life, they are said familiarly to die of broken hearts.
I refer to the ordinary usage of this phrase, in order to illustrate its true sense in application to contrition and repentance—not because there is any sort of sanetity belonging to the sorrow of this world which worketh death. An eminent writer upon practical religion, speaks of that compound of pride and madness, which is usually termed a broken heart; and there can be no doubt, that the broken hearts of poetry and romantic fiction are too often such, as if they really existed, would be followed in the next life by a brokenness of spirit, which no balm would ever heal, and no physician ever bind. Still, the very application of this metaphor to cases of profound and hopeless sorrow, even where it is essentially unholy in its origin and sinful in its exercise, will help us to illustrate its true import when applied to godly sorrow, as a sorrow which involves a loss of hope and a privation of enjoyments and dependences long fondly cherished. While the heart remains unbroken on account of sin, there are certain prospects upon which the eye is prone to fasten and to feed—the illusive forms of future happiness are seen through certain vistas and in certain quarters only. To these points, when the mind conceives the thought of being happy, it instinctively reverts. But when the bruising and the breaking process has begun, these vistas are obstructed, and these prospects fade away, and when the mind instinctively reverts to its accustomed points of joyful expectation, they are veiled in darkness. Thus its fixed associations are dissolved, its ancient hopes unsettled, and its ancient fears give place to new ones; so that, in the confusion of its passions and affections, the heart may be described as being broken in pieces. But the change which is properly and specially denoted by this figure, is the change from insensibility and apathy to a directly opposite condition—to a keen susceptibility of shame and grief. It is equally amazing to behold how much the heart can bear, while yet unbroken, and how little is enough to make it quiver with emotion, when the hammer has descended, and the rock is dashed in pieces. If the secrets of two hearts could be disclosed at the same moment—for example, in the hearing of a single sermon—we should see the one receiving, with a calmness too unnatural to be called philosophical, the most momentous doctrines, while the other, by the same enunciation of the same things, is not only agitated but convulsed. The same wind which excites the living waters of Gennesaret into a storm, is said to leave no trace of its effect upon the smooth and silent waters of Asphaltites, the sea of death. But the difference of feeling in the cases now supposed, however great, can never be distinctly seen by others.
There is a case, however, which presents the contrast, at successive turns indeed, but with a vivid clearness to the eye of an observer. I mean when the observer is himself the subject of both states of feeling; when he looks back with amazement to the time when he could hear with cool indifference, the same things which now freeze his blood, or make it boil. Has it never happened in your experience, that you have been apprised of some appalling danger after it was past; of your having just before been standing on a spot where the motion of a limb in one direction would have been your death, a death perhaps of aggravated horror? and when thus apprized of your deliverance, do you not remember the strange thrill of horror which at once shot through you, suspending for a time your sense of safety, and recalling the sensations proper to your former state? This may serve to illustrate very faintly the retrospective feelings of the sinner, when his heart is broken, in relation to his exercises while it was yet whole. But with this difference, that his amazement has respect not only to the awful danger which he did not feel before, but to the turpitude and guilt of sin to which he was insensible, and his own base ingratitude to God at whose feet he now lies subdued and humbled. It is in sorrow for his sins, as sins against a God of justice and of mercy, that the sinner's heart is said to be broken, not merely softened but broken in pieces and reduced to powder, as the word translated contrite really denotes. True contrition then includes sensibility of conscience and the tenderer affections, with a just apprehension of the evil of sin, not only as considered in its own nature, but also as inherent in the penitent himself. Upon spiritual brokenness of heart as thus explained, I invite your attention to a few remarks, some of which have been implied in what has been already said.
The first remark is, that the broken spirit and the contrite heart are really a sacrifice, a sacrifice to God. I recur to this idea, on account of the opinion which extensively prevails among the hearers of the gospel, and particularly those who are not thoroughly insructed in the doctrines of the Bible, that contrition is a price which we must pay for our salvation, the death of Christ being either excluded altogether, or admitted merely to give weight and value to the sorrows of the penitent. How strange it is that one opinion which men never think of acting on in common life should be maintained so seriously and with such tenacity in spiritual matters. He who should undertake to cancel any civil obligation in like manner, to discharge his private debts or pay the penalty of violated laws by mere regret that he had broken or contracted them, would be regarded either as dishonest or a fool. And yet there are wise and honest men, wise and honest as to this world's matters, who regard repentance as an ample compensation for their worst transgressions, and who fasten with avidity on every phrase which seems to favour that opinion. Such a phrase is that before us, which describes the broken spirit as a sacrifice.
Some may be ready to inquire, if this does not mean a satisfaction to God's justice, what else can it mean? It means, as we have seen, a consecration of the heart to God, not in its natural obdurate state, but broken and contrite; a consecration which can never go before the application of Christ's blood and the remission of our sins, but will invariably follow it. They love much to whom much is forgiven, not because forgiveness is the purchase of their love, but because their love is the effect of their forgiveness So likewise all who are redeemed will offer up e broken heart as a sacrifice, not because their brokenncss of heart redeems them, but because whenever Christ saves a sinner, he invariably breaks his heart. The same almighty grace which sets him free from the dominion of the law, sets him likewise free from the obduracy of nature. And as these two deliverances always go together, there can be no assurance of the one without a satisfactory assurance of the other. "We have no right to believe that Christ has died for us, unless M7e are ready and resolved to Live for him. Let us maintain our hold upon both doctrines, and remembering that the only efficacious sacrifice for sin is that of Christ, at the same time remember that "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit."
My second observation is, that this is an offering which God does not despise. In the language of the text, it would appear to be implied that God might well have been expected to despise it. And is this not true? Are these worthless, wicked, and deceitful hearts a fit oblation for God's altar? There is wonder in the Psalmist's exclamation, God despises and rejects the costly offerings of princes: gold and silver, pomp and pageantry, he spurns: thou despisest all that wealth or pride can offer at thy footstool, but " a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." It is also an expression of his thankfulness. The broken heart itself is thy gift, thou alone canst break it; and having thus bestowed it, thou art pleased to accept of it again at our hands; thou requirest nothing but a broken contrite heart; "a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." At the same time there is humble and rejoicing confidence. Since thou art pleased to ask nothing but a broken and a contrite heart, I despair no longer; only break my hard heart more completely by the sense of thy forgiving mercy, and I ask no more, for I can then come before thee with a broken and a contrite heart forever, and " a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
In the third place, I remark that though a holy and a righteous God accepts the sacrifice, ungodly men despise it. It is better to fall into the hands of God than into the hands of man. The chastisements of God are tender mercies to his people, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. The licentious, proud, and selfish worldling, who believes that he does honour to God's word by hearing it, and whoso religion is a condescending patronage of Christ and his salvation, hates and scorns a broken spirit and a contrite heart as heartily and proudly as the evil one himself. Let the humble Christian be prepared for the contempt of those whose hearts were never broken, and amidst "the proud man's contumely," let him lift his heart to heaven and breathe the Psalmist's confident assurance, " a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
Again, we may remark that in the church itself, there may be those who, while they wear the yoke of Christ, appear impatient of its pressure; these are the worshippers of manly Christianity, who love religion in its fierce, and proud, and insolent disguises, but disdain it in its unadorned simplicity and meekness. How far such a spirit is compatible with brokenness of heart and deep contrition, let those who cherish it determine for themselves by comparing their own feelings and habitual dispositions with the language of the Psalmist, "The sacrifices of God aro a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
In conclusion, there are no doubt many who now hear me, that are perfectly unconscious of the slightest feeling which could be, without absurdity, described as a broken spirit and a contrite heart. To such the subject is and must be unintelligible, and they are perhaps disposed in secret to rejoice that it is so. Believing as they do that the experience of this change would deprive them of the only pleasures which they are now capable of relishing, they may perhaps console themselves by thinking that " where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." It is not my design, by a vain reiteration, to attempt to change your present feelings in relation to this matter. But I wish, before I close, to guard your minds if possible against a very natural illusion, with respect to the future.
The unbroken heart is always loth to think that it can ever be subdued. As it invariably glories in its strength, it cannot bear the thought of losing it. Some in the madness of their pride resolve that they will rather lose eternal life, than gain it by humiliating weaknesses. Others, unwilling to proceed so far, merely dismiss the subject from their thoughts, while a third class persuade themselves that though they must repent and be converted, they may certainly do this without a loss of native dignity, or the indulgence of unmanly weakness. And accordingly their purpose is to keep a good heart even in repenting, and to quit themselves like men in the salvation of their souls. The eye of my imagination rests upon one who would rather be detected in a crime, than in the shedding of a tear for crimes already perpetrated;
one who would rather break than bend; one who would rather be broken by God's wrath than by his mercy; one, in whose nature this satanic pride is so profoundly fixed, that he is utterly unable to conceive of it as possible that his heart ever can be broken either by misfortune or repentance.
The scene is changed, and 1 behold that same man still a hearer of the gospel, but his countenance is altered. lie still maintains a posture of resistance, but his eye is restless and his brow contracted, and I read in his vain efforts to suppress and hide his feelings, that the enemy he once despised has found his way into the fortress of his heart. There is commotion there. There is a deadly struggle between flesh and spirit. With desperate strength the strong man guards his palace, but a stronger than he is there. He would rather die than yield to his convictions. His soul chooses strangling rather than life. He reflects with horror on the scorn and contumely which await his fall, and in the anguish of that fear, he summons every motive and musters all his strength to hold united his already bursting heart; but in the crisis of his last convulsive effort it is broken, it is broken. The most incredible of all impossibilities is realized. The stony heart is broken, and the man who feared and hated it in prospect, now rejoices in it. The tears which once he would rather die than shed, flow freely. The man is willing in the day of God's power, and as he looks up at the cross beneath which his obdurate heart was broken, and beholds the bleeding sacrifice by which his life was purchased, he throws as it were the bruised fragments of his heart at the Redeemer's feet, "beneath the droppings of his "blood, and says "lie there forever," while from every wound of him who hangs upon the cross a voice responds: '■' The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
Of such, some no doubt are saved, saved perhaps as by fire. Would to God, that this might be the end of all who now despise the gospel, and resolve that no misfortune, and no spiritual influence shall ever break their hearts. Well might the contrite and the broken-hearted Christian bear " the proud man's contumely " and the scoffer's sneer, if by such endurance he could purchase the consolatory hope that his despisers should be one day broken-hearted like himself. But, alas, with Scripture and with history before us, where shall we take refuge from the fear, that to many who now make a mock of sin and of repentance, and who trample on the broken heart, the last words of the Saviour, as he points to his despised ones will be, "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish!"
It is matter of thankfulness that we who preach the gospel, are not authorized to read the future history of those who now reject salvation, and that God has invested this distressing subject with a shroud of intermingled hope and fear. But notwithstanding this compassionate reserve, it may be said without presumption, that among those who are now disposed to laugh at the idea of a broken heart, there are some who, though they never shall experience the power of subduing grace, shall yet know by experience what it is to be heart-broken. Methinks I see one of this class also, at another time, and in another place. 1 see him surrounded by the comforts, and the honours, and the pleasures of the world. I see him still a cold, fastidious hearer of the gospel. I see him regarding with a proud contempt the penitent contrition of his fellow-sinner. I see him laugh in scorn at the idea of his own heart being broken. I see him arm himself with stoical philosophy, with heathen fortitude, with hellish pride. But while I see him watchful upon one side, I behold his enemy approaching on another. "While he surrounds the garden of his happiness with walls or hedges to repel wild beasts, I see the flower on his favourite vine begin to droop, and sicken till it drops into the earth a withered weed. I see the vine itself decaying in its branches and its stock, until the root alone is left. I see the soul of the proud sinner touched with exquisite exactness in its most unguarded and most vulnerable points. I see the appetite for earthly pleasure "sicken and so die," with nothing better to succeed it. I see the man as he looks back upon the wilderness and forward to the ocean, as he turns with a sore conscience from the trackless sands, gaze with anxious apprehension on the trackless waters. "His strength is hungerbitten," and his courage spent. Is this the man who braved misfortune, and defied conviction? Is it he who laughed at the idea of a broken heart, and vowed that his heart never could be broken? Is it he who even now has only strength enough to hide, and that at the expense of most excruciating torments, the approaching fracture of his own proud spirit, for a few more days of unimaginable anguish, till 'in the very article of death, his heart and flesh give way together, and he who boasted of a whole heart while he lived, dies of a broken heart at last. All, my hearers, you may think it a mere fiction of romance that men should die of broken hearts. But when the records of God's righteous retributions are unfolded, some of us may see that this and that man whose decease was here ascribed to accident or bodily disease, were the victims of an obstinate, unbending spirit, and of a wounded, ulcerated conscience, were consumed by secret efforts to suppress conviction, and at last, after all their proud derision and bravado, died of broken hearts. Is it then the case, you may be ready to inquire, that they who pass through life, without experience of sorrow, and devoid of sensibility; who steep themselves in selfish and ignoble pleasures, till their souls are callous; is it true that these alone are to escape the sad experience of a broken heart?
My hearers, there are two very common errors in relation to the future state of those who die impenitent. The one is the idea, that because the tree must lie just as it falls, because he who is filthy must be filthy still; men can deprive themselves in some degree of that susceptibility of pain which is essential to the misery of hell. Hence there have been men who, as their death approached, chose to stupefy their minds with intoxicating liquors, partly no doubt for the purpose of excluding all reflection on the future; partly from unbelief of any future state, but in many cases, I have no doubt also, in the hope that their stupefied and brutal apathy would still continue in the other world. Think of this vain attempt to quench the flames of Tophet with intoxicating liquors, or with any other' stupefying drug, and then imagine, if you can, the awaking of that spirit after death. The only gift of God to the lost sinner is the gift of sensibility unknown before: a gift which shall overwhelm with shrinking shame, the man, the woman, to whom shame is now a stranger; agitate with terror those who now are brave, and sting with keen remorse the consciences of those whose hearts are never visited in this life by the dread of wrath, or by the consciousness of guilt. Whatever other changes may await us, be assured, my hearers, that the day is coming when the most unfeeling shall be made to feel.