Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

from his fury. As well as I recollect, (and great cause have I to recollect every thing connected with a situation so critical,) I was in this state of mind when my desires were first awakened to an inquiry after Zion ; and the question involuntarily was bursting from the fulness of my heart, “Who will show me any good ? Lord, do Thou lift up the light of Thy countenance upon me'; and it shall put more gladness in my heart, than in the time when corn, and wine, and oil increase!

Awakened to a concern which I had never before experienced, and called upon continually by a voice from within, which neither the engagements of pleasure nor the clamour of business could wholly stifle; I found myself, insensibly, as it were, entered upon the road to Zion, eagerly disposed to ask every one by the way," Who will show me any good ?' though unconscious at that time what that good meant, or whether there were any means of attaining it.

It was in the midst one of those highly interesting moments, when my heart seemed to be more than ordinarily impressed with the consideration of the importance of the inquiry, and perhaps too ready to receive the bias of any direction which might first offer, that it

occurred to my recollection, there was a person who lived in the neighbourhood, who might help me in my pursuit of happiness, whom, for the sake of distinction, I would call

THE MORAL MAN..

His house lay on the left-hand side of the road in the way to Zion; and therefore it would not be going much out of my direct path to call upon him. I mention this for the better information of those travellers who may come after me on the same errand, concerning both his situation and character.

I had long known him, and not unfrequently been witness to some striking instances of the benevolence of his mind. He was well known indeed to all around for the extensiveness of his charity. The poor man never went from his door with his tale of misery unheard, or his wants unrelieved. And it was said of him, almost to a proverb, by the pensioners of his bounty, that if ever any man went to heaven, . it would be him. I considered myself particularly fortunate in the recollection of such a character, to whom I might unbosom myself on the subject which lay so near my heart : so that calling upon him, with that kind of

freedom which necessity begets, and which a confidence in the person you address will always excite, I communicated to him, without reserve, the state of my mind.

He heard me with great attention ; now and then only, as I stated my distress, expressing much pity for my concern on a subject which hé considered to be perfectly unnecessary ; wondering, as he said, that there should be a single person upon earth, weak enough to interrupt the enjoyment of his own happiness with an anxiety so ill founded ; and which, according to his ideas, tended to reflect so greatly upon the goodness of the Deity. “For my part, (says he,) I have too high notions of God, to imagine that he ever made any creature to be miserable; neither can I fancy the possibilie ty of what some gloomy minds are so much alarmed about-of the doctrine of future pue nishments. It appears to me altogether inconsistent with the benevolence of the Divine character.":: Hold, Sir, (I interrupted him,) and pray satisfy my mind on this point, before you go further. I readily join issue with you in the highest acknowledgments of the goodness of God; and am most fully persuaded, that all prạise must fall infinitely short in the descrip

[ocr errors]

tion of what it really is. But I see as plainly as though written with a sunbeam, that much misery may, and in fact doth, consist with the Divine Goodness, in the present life. And as I suppose, no one will venture to impeach God's goodness, in the permission of evil here; I cannot form the vestige of an argument, why that goodness may not be as consistent with the existence of evil hereafter: especially, when revelation comes in to the aid of my feeble rea, son, declaring 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 un. qualified notions of the Divine character of complimenting God's goodness at the expense of God's truth?”

My neighbour waved the question-taking shelter under the general covering of a supposed inoffensiveness of conduct, and a wellintentioned frame of mind. I do not, (he replied,) trouble myself with matters of this na. "ture. Providence hath blessed me with ample circumstances, and I do all the good I can in

2 Thess. 1. 9.

my little sphere of usefulness. While therefore I enjoy the present, I am thankful for the past, and fearless for 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 neighbour,) and in the discharge of moral duties, I rest satisfied for the event.'

“ It would be very unbecoming in me, (I replied,) to controvert your opinion, having called upon you for instruction, and not to instruct. But forgive me if I err in the apprehension, 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 beholder; and happy would it be for the circumstances of mankind, if its influences were far more general than they are. And while a proper distinction is made between the duties connected with the present world, and the preparations suitable for another, too much

« AnteriorContinuar »