« AnteriorContinuar »
mortal state, and launch into regions unknown, where will you then appear ? Must it not be in the region of fin, which is your element now? in the society of the devils, whom you resemble in temper and imitate in conduct ? among the trembling criminals at the left hand of the Judge, where the ungodly and finners shall all be crowded ? If you continue such as you now are, have you any reason at all to hope for a more favourable doom?
I shall conclude with a reflection to exemplify the context in another view, and that is, “ If judgment begin at the house of God, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel ? If the righteous, the favourites of heaven, fuffer so much in this world, what shall finners, with whom God is angry every day, and who are vefsels of wrath fitted for destruction, what shall they suffer in the eternal world, the proper place for rewards and punishments, and where an equitable Providence deals with every man according to his works? If the children are chastised with various calamities, and even die in common with the rest of mankind, what shall be the doom of enemies and rebels? If those meet with so many difficulties in the pursuit of salvation, what shall these suffer in enduring damnation ? If the infernal powers are permitted to worry Christ's sheep, how will they rend and tear the wicked as their proper prey ? O that you may in this your day know the things that belong to your peace, before they are for ever hid from your eyes. Luke xix. 42.
INDIFFERENCE TO LIFE URGED, FROM ITS SHORTNESS
1 Cor. vii. 29, 30, 31. But this I say, brethren, that
the time is fort: it remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had none ; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not ; and they that buy, as though tiey poseljed not; and they that use this world, as not abus. ing it : for the fashion of this world passeth away. A Creature treading every moment upon the flip11 pery brink of the rave, and ready every moment to shoot the gulph of eternity, and launch away to fome unknown coast, ought to stand always in the posture of serious expectation; ought every day to be in his own mind taking leave of this world, breaking off the connections of his heart from it, and preparing for his last remove into that world in which he must reside, not for a few months or years as in this, but through a boundless everlasting duration. Such a situation requires habitual constant thoughtfulness, abftraction from the world, and serious preparation for death and eternity. But when we are called, as we frequently are, to perform the last fad offices to our friends and neighbours who have taken their flight a little before us; when the folemn pomp and horrors of death strike our senses, then certainly it becomes us to be unusually thoughtful and serious. Dying beds, the last struggles and groans of diffolving nature, pale, cold, ghastly corpses,
eighbo when the then
* This sermon is dated, at Mr. Thompson's Funeral, Febris ary 16, 1759.
“ The knell, the shroud, the mattock, and the grave;
“ The deep damp vault, the darkness, and the worm ;" these are very alarming monitors of our own mortality: these outpreach the loudest preacher; and they must be deaf and senseless rocks, and not men, who do not hear and feel their voice. Among the numberless instances of the divine skill in bringing good out of evil this is one, that past generations have fickened and died to warn their successors. One here and there also is singled out of our neighbourhood or families, and made an example, a memento mori, to us that survive, to rouse us out of our stupid sleep, to give us the signal of the approach of the last enemy, Death, to constrain us to let go our eager grafp of this vain world, and set us upon looking out and preparing for another. And may I hope my hearers are come here to-day determined to make this improvement of this melancholy occasion, and to gain this great advantage from our loss? To this I call you as with a voice from the grave; and therefore he that hath ears let him hear.
One great reason of mens excessive attachment to the present state, and their stupid neglect to the concerns of eternity, is their forming too high an estimate of the affairs of time in comparison with those of eternity. While the important realities of the eternal world are out of view, unthought of, and difregarded, as, alas ! they generally are by the most of mankind, what mighty things in their esteem are the relations, the joys and sorrows, the pofseffions and bereavements, the acquisitions and pursuits of this life? What airs of importance do they put on in their view? How do they engross their anxious thoughts and cares, and exhaust their strength and spirits ? To be happy, to be rich, to be great and honourable, to enjoy your fill of pleasure in this world, is not this a great matter, the main interest with many of you? is not this the object of your ambition, your eager desire and laborious pursuit ?' But to consume away
.... your your life in fickness and pain, in poverty and difgrace, in abortive schemes and disappointed pursuits, what a serious calamity, what an huge affliction is this in your esteem? What is there in the compass of the universe that you are so much afraid of, and so cautiously shunning? Whether large profits or losses in trade be not a mighty matter, ak the busy, anxi. ous merchant. Whether poverty be not a most miserable state, ask the poor that feel it, and the rich that fear it. Whether riches be not a very important happiness, ask the possessors; or rather ask the restless pursuers of them, who expect still greater happiness from them than those that are taught by experience can flatter themselves with. Whether the pleasures of the conjugal state are not great and delicate, consult the few happy pairs here and there who enjoy them. Whether the loss of an affectionate husband and a tender father be not a most afflictive bereavement, a torturing separation of heart from heart, or rather a tearing of one's heart in pieces, ask the mourning, weeping widow, and fatherless children, when hovering round his dying bed, or conducting his dear remains to the cold grave. In short, it is evident from a thousand instances, that the enjoyments, pursuits, and sorrows of this life are mighty matters ! nay, are all in all in the esteem of the generality of mankind. These are the things they most deeply feel, the things about which they are chiefly concerned, and which are the objects of their strongest paffions.
But is this a just estimate of things ? Are the af. fairs of this world then indeed so interesting and all important? Yes, if eternity be a dream, and heaven and hell but majestic chimeras or fairy lands; if we were always to live in this world, and had no concern with any thing beyond it ; if the joys of earth were the highest we could hope for, or its iniseries the most terrible we could fear, then indeed we might take this world for our all, and regard its affairs as the
most important that our nature is capable of. But this I say, brethren (and I pronounce it as the echo of an inspired apoftle's voice) this I say, the time is sport; the time of life in which we have any thing to do with these affairs is a short contracted span. Therefore it remaineth, that is, this is the inference we should draw from the shortness of time, that they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as ihough they porn felfed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it, or using it to excess; for the fashion of this world, these tender relations, this weeping and rejoicing, this buying, poffefling, and using this world, palseth away. The phantom will soon vanish, the shadow will soon fly off : and they that have wives or husbands in this transitory life, will in reality be as though they had 'none; and they that weep now, as though they wept not; and they that now rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that now buy, pofless and use this world, as though they never had the least property in it. This is the solemn mortifying doctrine I am now to inculcate upon you in the further illustration of the several parts of my text; a doctrine justly alarming to the lovers of this world, and the neglecters of that life which is to come. :
When St. Paul pronounces any thing with an unusual air of folemnity and authority; and after the formality of an introduction to gain attention, it must be a matter of uncommon weight, and worthy of the most serious regard. In this manner he introduces the funeral sentiments in my text. This I say, brethren ; this I folemnly pronounce as the mouth of God: this I declare as a great truth but little regarded ; and which therefore there is much need I should repeatedly declare : this I say with all the authority of an apostle, a messenger from heaven; and I demand your serious attention to what I am going to say.