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liberty through Christ, who also told them if they were children of Abraham they would do his works; but because they were not of Abraham, but of the devil they sought to kill him; which they soon after effected by nailing him to the cross and thus confirmed the words of John, and proved themselves a generation of vipers.
Let us consider the part we have gone through before we proceed to the last portion of the text. All infidels and unbelievers; all that delight themselves in the lusts of the flesh, the pride of life, and wordly ambition, the wisdom which is not from above, but which is of the serpent; all hypocrites, and hoards of modern pharisees, and self-righteous demagogues, and abusers of themselves with mankind, which a person might think was not applicable to any in these times of Bible, Tract, and Missionary Societies, and when Bibles and Testaments are so plenty, found in every house, and when churches are so numerous and almost daily building throughout the country; in this age of pretensions to such a high state of civilization and refinement. I say a person would scarcely think that it could be possible, when it really is one of the prevailing sins of the land and causes it to groan and mourn under it. Where have we got to the lowest depth of degradation and heathenism, or the middle ages of darkness, infidelity and corruption? yea even to a worse case in relation to God for his great mercies and blessings abused. O earth! earth!! earth!!! mourn and be astonished at the shamelessness and degeneratedness of thy children.O ye generation of vipers, how long do you think God will bear with you? Be warned, be warned speedily to flee from the wrath to come; see ye not the awful judgments which the Almighty is bringing upon you for your filthy abominations; will ye remain blind to them until ye are crushed into hell. O that ye were wise, that ye saw the judgments of our Father ushering so many of your fellows into eternity, to their own home, that you understood this, that ye would consider your latter end.
And say not within your hearts that ye have Abraham for your father, "for God is able of these stones to raise up better children unto Abraham;" neither say ye are of Paul or of Appollos, or of Luther, or of Calvin, or of Wesley; the usefulness and piety, the holiness and devotedness to God, of these men can avail you nothing, if ye remain yet in your sins and abominations. If ye value your souls, bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance, and through Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, be ye converted unto God. Christ is the foundation and way of salvationand there is no other name given whereby ye can be saved, and escape the wrath to come, which has even already commenced. Remember the flood upon the ungodly, remember Sodom and Gomorrah, and remember other nations which had not the fear of God before their eyes; they were cast as dung upon the earth, removed out of the sight and nostrils of Jehovah, and where do you think they are in eternity? ah that you knew; that you would believe when you are informed by Him who is enthroned in the Holy Place, when he swears in his wrath that all that do these things, shall not enter into his rest, and that all the wicked and the nations that forget him shall be turned into hell. And therefore the conclusion of our text:
Amd now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees, every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire. Johns' exposing their wickedness, and preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; offering the terms of life and laying the articles of death before them; thus was the axe laid unto the root of the trees, they were therefore to choose whether they would serve God or mammon, and bring forth fruits accordingly, so as to be known by their fruits, and if they bore evil fruit they were to be cut down and cast into the fire, as they no doubt were all that died or were cut down in their sins, for to heaven they could not psssibly come without holiness, without having been trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified.
Soon after this preaching and warning of John, they exhibited by their fruits what sort of trees they were, by crucifying the Lord of Life and Glory, and further, by continuing in their national unbelief despising all the promises, and disregarding all the threats of the Almighty, and persecuting the messengers of the Most High; their works were only evil continually, and an abomination in the sight of God; he therefore, visited them with awful judgments; cut them down as cumberers of the ground; destroyed them as a nation, and scattered them abroad upon the face of the earth.
I would now also apply it to this nation which indulges so grossly in this pollution, this filthy abomination in the sight of the Omnipotent, Holy God, for which the land has been mourning and groaning for some years, on account of his displeasure, and the judgments which he sent upon it to teach you wisdom and cause you to follow the example of Ninevah, to repent and do away the evil from before his eyes. And have you so repented and amended your ways as to walk more humbly and upright with God? alas, no! if any thing ye are plunged deeper into the mire, and continue a hardened, abominable and stiff-necked people, from whom the wrath of an angry God will not be averted until ye repent and do away the evil, or until he chastise you to the uttermost, even to the destroying you as a nation from the face of the earth; and at this I am greatly astonished, that it has not been done already; but then when I remember how merciful Jesus the Saviour and Intercessor is, who probably interceded that the barren tree night be spared yet a little while. Ye are not only a barren tree as respects the fruit ye should bear so as to glorify God, and be his delight; but ye are a polluted tree, your fruit is abominable, and ye are a dishonor to God, and he abhors you, and must of necessity for he is holy and cannot possibly delight in such as ye are, for ye are filthy; and therefore I forewarn you to flee from the wrath to come.
A word to the wise, if there be any such, that are heartily tired and loath this beast of abominations, and wish to come out from amongst them, do so with all possible speed that ye partake not of their sins. Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose blood cleanseth from all sins, stands ready to receive you. "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest: take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly, and ye shall have rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." O what precious words are these of our blessed Saviour, to miserable sinners, that have even fought against him, lived in gross sins and persecuted Christ in his people; but have seen their folly and madness in time, and are sensible of the awful state they are in, the wretchedness and misery of a life of sin and debauchery, and abhor themselves on account of their iniquity, and long after peace and rest for their souls.— Jesus yet mercifully invites all such in those gracious words of love and many others. "Knock and it shall be opened, seek and ye shall find;" "believe and ye shall be saved," as the apostle also saith, "with the heart men believe unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation; therefore repent ye and believe the gospel; believe in Jesus the author and finisher of faith and salvation, that ye may be hid under his Almighty wings when the general destruction takes place, and finally live with him forever in heaven, in glory.
To my brethren, the faithful, the holy, who are truly the children of faithful Abraham, because we do his works and delight therein, therefore are we his spiritual children, and we know God through the same faith that he also knew him and walked with him, through Jesus Christ our Lord. I would say to them, my brethren, be not weary in well-doing, be faithful to the end, watch, fast and pray without ceasing, that ye may abound in grace, in love, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; and that ye be not enticed to do evil, but be enabled to disregard the smiles and frowns of the world, its
promises and threats, malice, hatred, and revenge; for ye are a peculiar people, the chosen of the Lord, a holy nation within many nations, a royal priesthood; great is our high and holy privilege, let us not abuse it, but keep the devil the old beast with all his filthiness under our feet, and should he rage with ten thousand times more fury in the air, and in his filthy children, my beloved be nothing dismayed, which is to them a sure sign of destruction, but to us of salvation and that of God. For to us is given not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for his name's sake; rejoice therefore and be exceeding glad, we shall also reign with Christ when he in his glory is revealed from above, and have an entrance administered unto us abundantly into his everlasting kingdom of glory, to reign with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the Holy Angels, with our blessed Father in the New Jerusalem, in Paradise, and finally in the New Heavens and New Earth, in all joy, glory, felicity, happiness and bliss, forever and ever. Amen.