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it lay the mind in any degree at ease in this life, it is at the expense of the inevitable destruction of our souls in the next: which is enough to say against it; but in truth it answers even its present purpose very imperfectly. It is a way of getting rid of the matter, with which even we ourselves are not satisfied. We are sensible that it is a false, treacherous, hollow way of acting towards our own souls. We have no trust in what we are doing. It leaves no peace, no hope, no comfort, no joy.

But to return to the direct subject of our discourse. The Scriptures uniformly represent the wicked as not only suffering positive misery, but also as having lost, by their wickedness, the happiness of heaven, and as being sensible of their loss. They are repeatedly described as cast out, or as shut out, into outer darkness; whilst the good are entering into the joy of their Lord. This imports a knowledge of their own exclusion. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man being in torments is made to see Lazarus at rest. This teaches us that the wicked will so far be informed of the state of the good, as to perceive and bewail, with unutterable anguish and regret, their own sad fate in being refused and rejected, when, had they acted differently, they would have been admitted to it. This is, strictly speaking, losing a man's soul : it is losing that happiness which his soul might have attained, and for which it was made. And here comes the bitter addition of their calamity, that being lost it cannot be recovered. The heaven we hear of in Scripture, and the hell we hear of in Scripture, are a heaven and hell depending upon our behaviour in this life. So they are all along spoken of. “ Indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil :" meaning evidently the evil done by him in this life; no other evil was in the apostle's



thoughts. Or, again, more expressly, “we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” “ The things done in the body” are the things taken into the account.

Now, by the side of this immense consequence of saving or of losing our immortal souls, place any dif- . ference that the things of this life can make to us; place riches and poverty, grandeur and humility, success or misfortune; place, more especially, the difference between possessing and sacrificing an unlawful gratification ; between compassing and renouncing an unjust purpose; making or giving up an unfair gain; in a word, between the pleasures and temptations of vice, and the self-denials of virtue; and what do they amount to ? The objects themselves are nothing, when put in competition with heaven and hell. Were it true, which it is not, that real, solid, inward happi

was proportioned either to outward circumstances, or to the indulgences of our appetites and passions; that the good things, as they are called, and pleasures of life were as satisfactory to the possessor, as they are, for the most part, deceitful and disappointing, still their duration is nothing. The oldest men, when they cast back their eyes to their past life, see it in a very narrow compass. It appears no more than a small interval cut out of eternal duration, both before and after it; when compared with that duration, as nothing. But we must add to this two other questions. Can life be counted upon to last to what is called old age? No man, who observes the deaths that take place in his neighbourhood, or amongst his acquaintance, will so compute. Or, secondly, do the pleasures of sin last as long as our lives? We may answer, never : with the single dread



ful exception of the sinner being cut off in his prime. Whoever looks for permanent happiness from the pleasures of sin will find himself miserably mistaken. They are short, even compared with our short lives; subject to casualties and disasters without number; transitory, not only as the things of this world are transitory, but in a much greater degree. It will be said, however, that though this observation may be true of the pleasures of sin, yet an advantage gained by sin, that is, by unrighteous, unconscientious means, may, nevertheless, remain an advantage as long as we live. This may sometimes be the case; and such advantage may be so long enjoyed, if that can be enjoyed, which has a fearful expectation and looking-for of judgment annexed to it. But what is the term of that enjoyment compared with the sequel ? It is a moment, the twinkling of an eye, compared with a day; an hour compared with a year; a single day with a long life. It is less than these : for all these comparisons are short of the truth. Well therefore doth our Saviour ask, “What doth a man profit if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” That world, when gained, he could not keep: nor, if he could, would it make him happy.

But our Saviour delivered his powerful admonition, not so much for his disciples to reason upon, as to carry into practice: that is, that his words might strike into their souls upon these occasions (which are but too many), when the business, the bustle, or the allurements of the world are in danger of shutting out futurity from their thoughts.—These are the times for calling to mind our Saviour's question. Whenever, therefore, we are driving on in the career of worldly prosperity : meeting with success after success : fortunate, rich, and flourishing; when everything appears to thrive and smile around us : but conscience, in the mean time, little heeded and attended to; the justice, the integrity, the uprightness, of our ways and of our dealings seldom weighed and scrutinized by us ; religion very much, or entirely perhaps, out of the question with us; soothed and buoyed up with that self-applause which success naturally begets : in this no very uncommon state of soul, it will be well, if we hear our Saviour's voice asking us, What does all this prosperity signify? if it do not lead to heaven, what is it worth? when the scene is shifted, if nothing but death and darkness remain behind; much more, if God Almighty be all this while offended by our forgetfulness both of his mercies and his laws, our neglect of his service, our indevotion, our thoughtlessness, our disobedience, our love of the world to the exclusion of all consideration of Him; if we be assured, and if, in reality, it be the case, that his displeasure shall infallibly overtake us at our death, what in truth, under all this appearance of advantage, are we getting or gaining? The world may amuse us with names and terms of felicitation, with their praises or their envy, but wherein are we the better in the amount and result of substantial happiness? We have got our aim, and what is the end of it? Death is preparing to level us with the poorest of mankind; and

i after that, a fearful looking for and expectation of judgment; no well founded hopes of happiness beyond the grave; and we drawing sensibly nearer to that

grave every year. This is the sum of the account. Or, which is another case no less apposite to our present argument, is it some sensual pleasure that tempts us, some wicked enjoyment that has taken such hold of our passions, that we are ready to rush upon it, whatever be the consequence. If we gain our object; if we possess our wishes, we are happy : but what, if we lose our own souls? What if we find

ourselves condemned men for hardly venturing upon crimes, which will, and which we were forewarned that they would, render us the objects of God's final indignation and displeasure ? Will any gratifications which sin affords be a recompense or a consolation ? Are they so even for the diseases, shame, and ruin, which they often bring upon men in this world ? Ask those who are so ruined or so diseased. How much less then for the gnawings of that worm wbich dieth not; the burnings of that fire which will not be quenched! In hopeless torment, will it assuage our sufferings, or mitigate the bitterness of our self-accusation, to know that we have brought ourselves into this state for some transient pleasure, which is gone, lost and perished for ever? Oh that we had thought of these things before, as we think of them now! That we had not been infidels as touching our Lord's declaration! that we had believed in him; and that believing that he had a perfect knowledge of the future fate of mankind, and of the truth of what he taught, we had listened in time to his admonition !

Universally the true occasion for remembering and applying the passage of Scripture before us is, when we are deliberating concerning the conduct we are to pursue, in the contests which arise between temptation and duty, between the flesh and the world, or between both united and our own souls. Be the temptation what it will, either in kind, or strength, this is the thought to be for ever sot against it, that if we give way, we give way in exchange for our own souls; that the perdition of the soul is set forth in Scripture in terms most tremendous, but not more tremendous than true; that the sinner, the man involved is unrepented, unforsaken sins, can never know how soon he may be reduced to this state.

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