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النشر الإلكتروني

SERMON IX.

ETERNITY.

2 CORINTHIANS IV. 18.

We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things

which are not seen for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

THE subject of eternity is one of those depths that are unfathomable by the human mind. At first view, it may seem easy to imagine a neverending state of existence. This general notion is obvious: not so the realizing view that shall comprehend with any distinctness its boundless extent, and its unutterable magnitude. With the astonishment of a new and before imperfectly apprehended subject of stupendous import, it will probably break after death upon the minds

of the most prepared; and were death now to call others into its dark abode, and their spirits now to enter on the eternal scenes beyond it, to which they are hastening, O their alarm and consternation, as they saw the temporary good of this world vanishing, and with it the hope of heaven's eternal glory!

All have a general idea of eternity; what we all want is a more believing and realizing view of it. To die daily, to contemplate eternity daily, to live as strangers and pilgrims here, O how difficult! Your minister feels the difficulty. May the Divine Spirit help him at this time, to open this subject to our mutual profit! May the words of the text be true of you and of me, We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Let us consider,

1. THE THINGS SEEN,

2. THE THINGS NOT SEEN,

3. ETERNITY,

4. OUR DUTY,

5. THE PRECIOUSNESS OF CHRIST.

I. THE THINGS SEEN.

The things which are seen are temporal.
We will notice,

116

ETERNITY.

The objects intended, and their transitory

nature.

1. THE OBJECTS INTENDED. The things seen. Not merely what is seen with the eye, but all that relates merely to this visible world. All that is in the world, all that it can do, either to hurt us, or to comfort us; or, to use the expression of Solomon, All the works that are done under the sun. (Eccles. i. 14.) The varied pleasures of this world, which delight the heart, and fill it with mirth and gladness; its accumulated wealth placing the possessor in independence of his fellow-creatures, or its honours making him the object of esteem and general commendation, so that all speak well of him,-these are among the things seen. All the pursuits and labours which engage us day by day, of which Solomon says, I looked on all the works my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do,-these are things seen. Every intellectual improvement, the stores of human learning and wisdom, the knowledge of arts and science, trade and business, however valuable for this world,-they are also here included. Whatever is the object of sight and sense, and whatever the carnal mind desires for its present happiness, comes under this description. Then again all that distresses the mind, as it regards these things, all sorrows and afflictions, losses and trials, however acutely

we may feel them; or joys and prosperity, gains and blessing, however assured to us, are not to be omitted. In short, all the concerns and events of human life, the schemes of politicians, the revolutions of empires, the forms of government, the enterprises of merchants, the construction and government of cities and countries, the progress of science, the ordinary pursuits and speculations of trade, these are what we mean by the things seen. Nor, however necessary they may be for the present life, can they be looked at as things of main importance to an immortal being like

man.

2. THEIR TRANSITORY temporal.

NATURE. They are

They are all for a season. However great or glorious, or necessary, or profitable, there is one stamp upon all—they are for a time only-soon they come to an end.

The monarch, surrounded with his court, environed with his guards, or shielded by the love of his people, must lay aside his crown, and give up his kingdom. The learned, with all the stores of the wisdom of ages, cannot ward off the stroke which will send him to a country where learning (apart from that which makes men wise to salvation,) avails nothing. The sensualist, who takes the utmost pains to delight and gratify a pampered body, must soon leave that body in the grave, the

prey of the worms. The ambitious, who has made all obstacles yield to his advancement, and had many dependent upon him, must speedily enter alone, without one dependent, the eternal world.

Whatever good things we may, by wisdom and prudence, by art and contrivance, have gathered around us, if they be only this world's goods, we must soon part with all. Whatever evil things we may be burdened by, if we are Christians, those evils will soon pass away and be felt no more. The most comfortable dwelling that we can make for ourselves, is but a tent for a short stay, and not our real home; the most profitable business we can be engaged in, is but as a provision for a short journey; the best situation we can have in this world, is a mere seat in a pilgrimage.

Suppose a ship at sea has a dangerous leak, from which, as all the sailors know, the vessel must in a few hours sink in the great deep; suppose a passenger to be so absurd as to spend all the time that remains in hanging his cabin with pictures, painting, beautifying, and adorning every part, and thinking of nothing but how his cabin shall be most admired by his fellow passengers, though the ship was filling with water, though the waves swept away one of the company after another, and at length entered his

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