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Let the conTEMPLATION bring you upon your knees, and be this your prayer : “Remember me, O Lord, with the favour thou bearest unto thy people; O visit me with thy salvation, that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, and glory with thine inheritance." 0! how shall I plead with you for this purpose ? By what motives can I urge you to make it your immediate and prevailing concern?
Need I remind you of the importance of the object ?-Glory! Honour! Immortality! An eternity, an infinity of blessedness! Need
be told that it is placed within your attainment-that you are allowed, invited, commanded to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, with an assurance of success ? And if you perish, what an aggravation of your misery will this produce! When an event is unavoidable, you may lament, but you feel no self-reproach. When you suffer innocently, conscience even commends you; you feel a little of the spirit of a martyr; you claim on your side a God of judgment, and believe that in due time he will appear on your behalf.
behalf. But here you will be speechless. You will feel that you have destroyed yourselves. Your misery will be your greatest sin. Every mouth will be stopped ; and you will be found guilty before God. Guilty of what? Of transgressing his law. Yes—but still more of neglecting so great salvation, of rejecting the counsel of God against yourselves, and judging yourselves unworthy of everlasting life.
And allow me to ask, for what is it that you are determined to sacrifice this attainable and infinite boon ? Are you not spending your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not? You condemn the folly of Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birth-right. You reproach Adam and Eve, who lost the garden of Eden for a taste of the forbidden tree. But you are making a far worse, a far viler exchange. You are sacrificing all the glory of God and the Lamb—I again ask for what? You would be losers if you gained the whole world. But are you gaining empires ? provinces ? estates ? Are you gaining reputation ? The esteem of the wise and good ? Health? Peace of mind? Support in trouble? Freedom from fear? Sin ought to yield you much, for it will cost you dear. But the way of transgressors is hard. There is no peace to the wicked. When you lie down in sorrow, how will you answer the question, 6 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ? for the end of these things is death." Remember also the alternative.
For missing this, there is nothing but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to devour the adversary. If you are not with the sheep at the right hand, you must be with the goats at the left. If you hear not the sentence, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” you must hear the doom, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Lastly. Let us Look and hail those who can make the prospect their own. We talk of happiness! Can any thing equal the state of those who can humbly and confidently say, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace
wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God ?" Many are in adversity and tribulation; and yet have no such prospect.
All is fighting against them, and they have no refuge. Their thoughts are broken off, even the purposes of their hearts, and their earthly schemes, laid desolate ; yet they have nothing better before them. Yea, conscience tells them, this is only the beginning of sorrows; the short preface to a long roll written within and without, with lamentation, and mourning, and wo. But to the upright there ariseth light in the darkness. He sees the storm beginning to clear up ; and he knows that no cloud shall return after the rain. “I reckon," says he, “that the sufferings of the present time is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” Soon, want will be followed with fulness. Soon, the wormwood and the gall will be succeeded by the cup of salvation.
“ Yet a season, and we know
“ Happy entrance shall be given; “All our sorrows left below,
“ And earth exchanged for heaven.” With this prospect, how superior is he to the envied, the indulged, the successful man of the world. He has his portica in this life: but, says the Christian, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." His good things are temporal; mine are eternal. He is leaving his; I am advancing to mine. Every hour diminishes the value of his hope ; but every moment adds interest to mine.
Nor need the Christian envy the man of claims merely intellectual. Wisdom indeed excelleth folly, as much as light excelleth darkness. Money is a defence; but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it. But what wisdom? It was a fine reply of the converted astronomer, who, when interrogated concerning the science which he had been idolizing, answered, “I am now bound for heaven, and I take the stars in my way." How humiliating is it to reflect, that the treasures of learning and science depend upon the brain; that an accident or disease may abolish them; or that, at most, they are limited to the life that now is, and which we spend as a shadow. Whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away—unless it be the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, for this is life eternal.
In much wisdom, also, there is much grief ; and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow. Some of the most expansive and cultivated minds are the most miserable. Nor is it difficult to account for this. Genius implies a sensibility which strangers intermeddle not with. It is attended with a keenness of feeling, that renders the possessor like a sensitive plant, that shrinks at every touch. He lives in a world of imagination, as well as a world of reality. He views nothing simply and purely. Every thing is dressed up to his conceptions ; the beautiful in preternatural tints, and the evil in preternatural hor
His thoughts are sentiments. He feels intensely: and nothing very intense can continue. Then follows a void which is irksome, and a listlessness which is intolerable, and which are sometimes productive of fatal effects. In Madame de Stael's memoirs of her father, we have the following remark:
I have a proof,” says Mr. Necker, “of the immortality of the soul in this ; that it is at least after a while desirable, and essential to our happiness. By