صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

“ of evil hereafter : especially, when revelation comes in to the aid of my feeble reason, de

claring, in a tone of the most determined “ and unalterable decision, that the wicked shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.*

Can you explain “ to me, how I am to reconcile these things « with your opinion? And do you not imagine “ that there is great danger in entertaining “such unqualified notions of the Divine cha“racter-of complimenting God's goodness, “ at the expence of God's truth?"

My neighbour waved the question-taking shelter under the general covering of a supposed inoffensiveness of conduct, and a well-intentioned frame of mind. , “ I do not (he replied) “ trouble myself with matters of this nature. “ Providence hath blessed me with ample cir“ cumstances, and I do all the good I can in

my little sphere of usefulness. While there“ fore I enjoy the present, I am thankful for “ the past, and fearless of the future. My “ opinion is formed on that excellent maxim of

“ the poet,

For God is paid when man receives ;

“ T' enjoy is to obey." “ These are my sentiments (added my neigh“ bour), and in the discharge of moral duties, “ I rest satisfied for the event.”'

“ It would be very unbecoming in me (I re

plied) to controvert your opinion, having “called upon you for instruction, and not to


2 Thess, i. 9.


[ocr errors]

« instruct. But forgive me if I err in the ap“prehension, that what you have advanced in “ the eulogy of moral virtues, relates more to

earthly concerns than heavenly—more to the present well-being of man, than to the future enjoyment of GOD.

There is, unquestionably, a loveliness in moral virtue, which “ cannot fail to gain the esteem of every be5 holder; and happy would it be for the cir- . “ cumstances of mankind, if its influences were “ far more general than they are. And while à proper distinction is made between the 66 duties connected with the present world, and “ the preparations suitable for another, too “ much cannot be said in praise of morality. “ But if, in the sight of God, an imperfect s obedience to a moral system could have “ answered the purposes of futurity (I say imperfect obedience, because no one upon earth 6 will venture, I imagine, to think higher of “his practical attainments in this science, than “ that they come short of perfection); the “ religion of Christianity would have been an “ unnecessary revelation.

What nation ever “exceeded, in point of morals, the Roman and “ the Lacedemonian commonwealths? And

yet, after all, we can only place them in the “ class of unenlightened heathens, in respect “ to religion. Is there not some grand de

ficiency in that system, which totally shuts s out, or at least throws far into the back" ground of the piece, the acknowledgment of

[ocr errors]


“ Him, who, one should suppose, would form “the first and principal character ?”

« Permit me to place the argument in a point ¢ of view, which may in some measure tend to “ decide it. If I mistake not, you have a large

family of children, all branched out in life; “ and you have already made for them a most

ample provision : and it is by your liberality, “ that they are enabled to move in a sphere « suited to their rank and circumstances. Put “ the case now, that these children of your's “ live in the greatest love and harmony with « each other; and, not content with the bare

practice of moral honesty and justice, are

kind, affectionate, friendly, tender, even to “ the anticipation of what one conceives may

promote the other's happiness. But suppose “ that, in the midst of all this attention to the “ mutual and general felicity of each other,

they are never heard to express an affection “ towards the person of a father, from whom,

as the source, they have derived all their en“joyments; would not any man consider them “ as deficient in the first and best of all possible

obligations? And is not this the very state “ of those who, priding themselves in the dis“ charge of moral duties to their neighbour,

pass by the reverence, the love, the gratitude, « and obedience they owe to God."

“ Bear with me, I beseech you, Sir, and « correct me if I am wrong.

I merely state « the objections to what you have advanced, as " they appear to me, in order that your better

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

" judgment may remove them. But, indeed, so it hath often struck my mind very forcibly, “ that there must be some latent principle of “ evil lurking under a fair form; when I have “ beheld characters of the greatest respecta

bility, who appear to be every thing which is 66 amiable to their fellow-creatures-generous, • noble, affectionate; but at the same time

totally dead to devout sentiments. Often it “ hath been my lot, in times past, to have been ço introduced to their tables ; where the plenti“ ful provision of all the bounties of God's “ providence, seemed to be continually inviting “ the conversation to some remarks on the goodness of the Great Provider. But alas !

during the many hours which I have some5 times spent at one meal, not a word hath s dropped in honour of the Almighty Master 5 of the feast, The gifts have been enjoyed, “ but the Giver totally forgotten. It hath been “6-frequently my reproach, I assure you, Sir, so when returning from such tables, in the days " while I attended them, (for I have long since “ given them up) that there must be some “ baleful principle in the human mind to “ produce such effects, Will you help me to “o account for it ???

My neighbour seemed a little hurt at the closeness of the question.

You will excuse me, Sir, (he replied) it is not my province to s preach. I would recommend you rather to Es the worthy vicar of our parish, who is alst lowed by all who attend his church, to be

[ocr errors]

“ one of the most elegant preachers of the age.

Perhaps he may be able to satisfy your en

quiries; and I shall very much rejoice, if your “ mind can be made easy.”

Disappointed as I found myself in the information proposed from my visit, I could not but be thankful for my neighbour's candor: and finding my anxiety increase rather than diminish, in desires after the attainment of something, which I knew not by what term to distinguish; I thought it might be right to follow up my neighbour's advice; and accordingly, on the next Sunday, I went to hear


He took his text from the prophecy of Micah, chap. vi. verse 8. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good. And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy GOD: I felt much pleasure in the very idea of the subject proposed from this text of scripture, the moment it was mentioned ; and therefore :: listened with the more attention, in order to discover some leading points, which might be brought forward to give me comfort. The substance of the preacher's sermon, when separated from the flowery ornaments of it, was directed to shew, that the path to happiness was set before every one; that God had shewn man what was good; and that it was man's own fault if he did not follow it: that what

« السابقةمتابعة »