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BY THE REV. J. MORISON, D.D.
tice robbing his master-of a a servant purloining the goods of her mistress—of a clerk embezzling the property with which he has been entrusted--of a man high in confidence committing a forgery-of a respectable citizen coming down from affluence to a piece of bread--and you inay suspect that a life of pleasure has led on to the mournful catastrophe.
When the fond youth begins to deviate from the path of purity, he has no settled purpose of sinking down into a life of profligacy-much less of falling into the very dregs of society : but the cup of pleasure is intoxicating; the passions, by indulgence, become uncontrollable; and it is mournful to observe how soon the ruin of body, mind, and estate is effected. One wrong step conducts to another; the edge of conscience becomes blunted; the fear of detection becomes less formidable; the heedless youth rushes onward in the career of sensual indulgence, until health, reputation, and means, are all destroyed, and conscience itself is - seared as with a hot iron." Could we unfold to your view the annals of this vast and guilty inetropolis; could we disclose to public gaze its countless receptacles of the miserable, the guilty, and the lost; could we point you to its millions of broken and bleeding hearts; could we exhibit in one fearful picture the aggregate of shame, and infamy, and moral desolation, which make up the sum total of its tremendous delinquency--we should then have some faint conception of the peril connected with a life of pleasure.
And yet, my dear hearers, allow me to say, that we have only hitherto looked at a life of pleasure in its connection with this present state of existence; as it corrupts society, breaks the peace of families, brings on fatal maladies, destroys reputation, conducts to open profligacy, diffuses misery and wretchedness, and renders human laws ineffectual to grapple with the mighty and formidable evils which it creates. But terrible as these results are, (and they are far more terrible than the greatest philanthropists have any conception of,) they are by no means the greatest perils, which attend a life of pleasure.
There is a world beyond the present ; where we must live and act, when this shadowy state of being shall have faded and died on our view. I would remind my hearers, that the character of our present pleasures must determine our condition in that world, for weal or woe. T'he sensualist, who seeks his habitual gratification in a life of animal indulgence, in a never-ceasing round of gay and frivolous and polluting enjoyments, is preparing the materials of a character, which death will stamp with everlasting infamy. The misery which a life of pleasure often conducts to in this present state of being, is but à faint shadow of that more exquisite and enduring misery to which it will introduce its unhappy votary in eternity. No man of pleasure, no slave of animal indulgence, can inherit the kingdom of heaven. There all is pure, and holy, and serene ; and nothing that defileth can by any means find admission. The nature of God, the spotless character of the heavenly society, the holy and elevated pursuits of the blessed inhabitants-all forbid the entrance of those who are “lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God.” Were the Bible silent on this awful topic, (which it by no means is,) we might assure ourselves that the child of pleasure can never see God in peace. Could such a being enter heaven, he would be solitary in the midst of society, and wretched in the atmosphere of unmingled bliss. It could be no heaven to him. His sensual appetites would be unquenched amidst the exclusive elements of spiritual joy and delight. Without a character corresponding to the state of the heavenly inhabitants, no power in the universe could amalgamate us in its perfect society.
A life of pleasure, therefore, must be the harbinger of an eternal separation from all the wise, and good, and happy-and, what is more awful still, of final exclusion from the blissful fellowship of that Being, in whose “presence there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” It is the indubitable evidence of a heart under the dominion of unsubdued depravity, of enmity against a God of spotless purity, and of the prevalence of those appetites, which, if not vanquished by the power of Divine grace, must conduct to scenes of everJasting despair and wretchedness.
The peril, then, of a life of pleasure is beyond all conception terrible. It is the
peril of disgrace and ruin in this world, and of the final and irretrievable loss of The soul in the world to come. To encounter such a risk, for the enjoyment of pleasures which are only for a season, and which never satisfy at the best, is assu. redly an infatuation and a madness inconsistent with the due exercise of reason in an accountable being. To expose yourselves to the loss of reputation, health, and peace in this world--and to the loss and misery of the soul in the world to come for the mere temporary gratification of the animal appetites—is an instance of folly, which has no parallel in the history of the universe.
I would close this address, then, by endeavouring to disentangle those who have addicted themselves to a life of pleasure, and by dissuading the young and the inexperienced from entering on such a life.
Some, perhaps, there are, in this assembly, who have given themselves to a life of pleasure. They mingle in the society of the gay and the dissipated ; they frequent our places of public amusement; they “stand in the way of sinners, and sit in the seat of the scornful ;" they indulge " the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life." I would press upon all such the following inquiries : --Are you happy? Does your mode of life contribute to the peace of your mind ? will it bear the reflection of your retired moments ? Have you no painful forebodings of the future? No dread of what may happen to you in this life, if you pursue your present course—no anticipation of fatal consequences in eternity ? I think I hear every lover of pleasure in this assembly reply to these interrogatories—'I am not happy; I have no settled peace of mind ; I dare not sit down to reflect; I dread what is coming upon me; I cannot think of death and judgment but with fear and trembling.' Oh! what a deplorable state for an immortal being to live in! Yet, alas! this is the condition, in which thousands are living from day to day. They know and feel, that all is wrong with them for both worlds for time and eternity ; but they take no effectual step to alter their position. They dream on in carnal security, hoping to escape the ruin which is inevitably coming upon them. I think I hear some one saying-Oh! Sir, I would gladly enter upon a new course, if I but knew how to disentangle myself; but I am so hemmed in on every side, so beset with wicked companions, that I know not what to do, or how to enter upon any course of true reformation.'
To those who thus feel, I would say-Fix your minds on a few great points.
First of all, let the thought of the unutterable value of the soul take possession of you. I am hopeless of producing any effect, if that thought is not apprehended. If you lose your soul (and lose it you must in your present course), think what a catastrophe it will involve; think what it will be, to be everlastingly separated from God to be for ever the subject of His just and awful displeasure. Oh! the loss of the soul—who can exhibit it? “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his
Secondly; think of the utter loathsomeness of a life of sin. Oh! you would not like that any dear friend-you would not like that any child should see you in your sinful course. The course you pursue, is so loathsome,'that you cover it up and hide it, and perpetrate your deeds of infamy in the darkness of night. Think how it degrades, corrupts, and pollutes all your thoughts, desires, and actions. Determine, then, that you will no longer be enslaved by such a tyrant-master. Think of the utter wretchedness, guilt, and exposure of a life of pleasure, and resolve on its instant abandonment. If you parley another night, you may be in hell; or the chain of evil habits may be so rivetted on the soul, that you will feel yourself utterly powerless, for the longer a man lives in alienation from God, the less moral power he feels that he possesses.
Thirdly—and connect these thoughts)-implore in prayer the help of God, to enable you to effect the rescue of your precious soul from its present perilous condition. Though you have been unused (it may be) to ask God for help, cherish the thought that He will not refuse to listen to your cry. He is the hearer of prayer; and a soft and broken heart for sin He will not despise. He is as ready to hear the broken-hearted penitent, as He is to listen to the songs of the angelic hosts. You are as welcome as the pure angel that never sinned, though you must BY TUE REV. J. MORISON, D.D.
come in a different way-through the mediation of Him, who by His peace-speaking blood has made atonement for the sins of lost men.
Fourthly; if you continue to resist conviction, and cling to your sinful courses, your heart will be additionally hardened, and—(I tremble to say it, but Scripture bids me say it in this connection)—God may “give you over to a reprobate mind.” The thing is plainly binted at in Scripture; and though it does not become us to pronounce, in individual cases, who may be thus given up, yet I can conceive of none so likely to be in that position, as those who are living on in sin, fighting against the witness of conscience, plunging again into the vortex of iniquity, and violating the voice within, which tells them to “ flee from the wrath to come" and seek deliverance from the ruin they are braving. Therefore, repent of sin now. We are not afraid to tell you to repent; the apostles did, Christ did, and the Gospel is not preached till it comes to this. You must repent, or you must perish. That is the condition God puts upon a life of sin. You must perish, unless you turn to the refuge, that is revealed in the Gospel. Repent of your sin, and turn to God. Delay not an instant. Delay may be fatal. «In such an hour as ye think not,” God may summon you to His judgment-seat, with all the weight of unpardoned guilt upon you; and then how awful will be your doom!
Fifthly; recollect that there is nothing in your case that God's mercy in Christ Jesus cannot reach. Your guilt is very great-infinitely greater than you ever saw it to be in the most keen moment of conviction you ever felt; but the merit of the
Redeemer's sacrifice can take it all away. “His blood can cleanse from all sin.” - Your very soul is polluted, in all its thoughts and affections; but the Holy Spirit can
renew the most corrupt heart, can change its secret bias, can establish new habits, can “create all things new" within. « The Ethiopian," under this power, shall "change his skin, and the leopard his spots; and they who are accustomed to do evil, learn to do well.”
Finally; break off without a moment's delay—(covenant in this house to night to do so)—the fellowships by which you have been ensnared. If it should be like "plucking out a right eye,” and “ cutting off a right hand,” yet break them offbreak them off, if you should see nothing in such a course but perishing of hunger. Better die of hunger in the streets to-night, than live another night in sin and perhaps to-morrow morning awake in hell. You will be the ward of God's providence, returning in the spirit of penitence to Him, whose outstretched arms are ready to receive you ; but going one step further in a career of sin, you may plunge, ere you are aware, into “ the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” At once break off these fellowships. “A companion of fools must be destroyed ;'' and rest assured, that no process of renovation or moral change can advance in you, while you continue to expose yourself to the companionship of the immoral, the impure, the polluted and depraved. ...To the young and inexperienced, who may be in danger of the fascination of a life of pleasure, and whose passions may be working with direful power, let me say, that I beseech them to take warning from what they see around them of the perils connected with a life of pleasure. Let thein beware of the first dubious step, lest it should conduct to another, and another. Flee from the society of the thoughtless, the depraved, and the profane ; and cultivate the friendship of the wise, the good, and the holy. Ever guard against youthful lusts-pride, extravagance, and sensuality. Cultivate the pleasures of true piety, as your only security against falling a prey to the pleasures of sin, which are but for a moment. "Seek the Lord, while He may be found; call je upon Him, while He is near.” Listen to the experience of all, who have truly devoted themselves to the service of God; and with one voice you will hear them proclaiming that “wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and paths of peace.” You never heard of a Christian regretting when he died that he had been a Christian.
Oh! how many death-beds of men of pleasure has your preacher attended ! If I were to say that I had seen a hundred and fifty such deaths, I am sure I should speak the truth. But I never found any levity then; you must all become serious sooner or later, whether you will or no; but you may become serious too late. I was sent for, the other day, to the death-bed of a man of pleasure ; but the poor wretched man had lost his consciousness, never to regain it, and he passed into the eternal world, and I fear he sunk into hell (I have no reason to think otherwise) without one warning voice having been able to reach his desolate and miserable soul.
My young friends, believe not the false promises of happiness held out to you by those who would entangle and destroy your souls. That night of pleasure they promise you, may be the beginning of your ruin; that gay party they propose that you should attend, may take you down to the chambers of death; that single party of pleasure-on the Sabbath-day, it may be—may occasion you sorrow through all eternity, where your lamentations will be unavailing. Believe them not. Look at the men, that ask to entangle you; see what they are themselves; and be assured, you will be what they are. Those apostles of infidelity, that want to reform the world by their wretched code—what are they? Look at the men; is not that enough? I like to put the argument thus; the stale objections they are perpetually urging against Christianity, may often be best refuted by saying—“Physician, heal thyself." My young friends, be not deceived. A life of pleasure is a life of perpetual misery, disappointment, and chagrin; a life of piety is a never-ceasing spring of happiness in this life, and in that which is to come.“ The water that I shall give you,” said Christ to the woman of Samaria, “ shall be in you a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.” Happy they who begin to serve God in the days of their youth; a career of usefulness and happiness opens before them; and while the man of pleasure will live to curse the day in which he was born, “their peace shall be as a river, and their righteousness as the waves of the sea.”
LIFE OF THE REV. R. HOUSMAN, B.A.
(Further extracts--continued from p. 320)
In 1837 Mr. Housman, whose infirmities had now compelled him to resign his pastoral charge, left Lancaster for the house of his son-in-law, Mr. Prichard, at Woodside, near Liverpool.
“ On being asked by one of the most devoted of his friends, not many days before his departure “how he did,” he replied in these striking words-" I will answer you as Mr. Romaine answered me, when I put to him a similar question. It was on Blackfriars' Bridge--the last time I ever saw him. :'( want,' said he, to get more of the unsearchable riches of Christ.' So do I. Like good Mr. Romaine, I want to get more of the unsearchable riches of Christ.'”.
" Mr. Housman now began to decline rapidly. The assurance that his pilgrimage was nearly over,' says Mr. Prichard, gave additional brightness to his everbright and beaming countenance. He was quite free from pain, and quite ready to depart. If he had a wish to live, it was only that he might be able to revisitihe scene of his labours and take a farewell of those he so ardently loved in the faith. Silent aspirations to heaven appeared to be his continual employment; and at meal-times, though none entered into social converse more readily, or enjoyed it more than he did, it was evident from the frequent uplifting of his eyes, that the great Giver of both temporal and spiritual blessings engrossed the chief attention of his soul. Some of those about him being occupied on one occasion in singing a hymn, the burden of which was 'Glory, Glory,' he quickly caught the words, with much apparent delight, and remarked, « Though I never had a voice for singing, yet, when I get into heaven, I will sing that song as well as any of you.' Frequently afterwards he would call for the hymn and took great pleasure in listening to it.' ** • He often regretted that Ministers of the Gospel do not sufficiently, either iu their matter or manner, evince the true characteristics of the Gospel, which are compre
LIFE OF THE REV. R. HOUSMAN, B.A.
hended, he said, in the term loviny-kindness, and often added, that souls are to be won to Christ; that 'truths harshlý thundered forth or rudely pressed' would never make a loving and consequently a true convert, but that they should rather be ' like his purpose, gracious, kind, and sweet.' * * Being, in the fullest sense of the words, a man of peace,' he had a decided aversion to anything approaching to religious controversy. With what alacrity and delight he would turn from uncertain speculatious to the love-inspiring announcements of the Gospel, they only can tell who have witnessed the transition.'
“Those who know the retiringness and delicacy of Mr. Housman's character, his unaffected humility, his detestation of religious parade. his horror of what are popularly termed · triumphant departures' will be prepared to hear that the last moments of his life furnished but scanty materials for a dying scene.' Miraculous visions, feverish extasies, exhausting transports, do not often disturb the holy serenity of an aged Christian's latter end; for him are reserved the sacred solemnities of faith. My state of mind,' said Andrew Fuller, 'is this : no despondency, no raptures;' and such was Mr. Housman's. It was a state of radiant tranquility ; the peace, which cometh down from heaven, and the love which passeth knowledge, divinely united. The house in which he lay was daily beset by friendly inquirers, many of them desirous to be admitted to the society of its venerable inmate ; but with one or two exceptions, in favour of members of St. Anne's who came to see him, he affectionately denied all solicitations of this kind, and requested that the few remaining sands of existence might be suffered to drop away quietly in the presence of his children. With Bishop Hall he seemed to consider that the great work of death is one that must be done alone ; accordingly he lay much in silence, and but for an almost constant moving of the lips, and an occasional raising of the hand or of the eyes, a bystander might have supposed him to be asleep. These were doubtless seasons of most intimate communion with his God. Frequently, however, he would turn to the anxious watchers at his side, and with a smile of the sweetest expression calmly allude to the glory that awaited him; still more frequently, the smile was all he had to give.
? About the middle of March an alarming change took place in his health, and his medical attendant, W. Stevenson, Esq. apprized Mr. Prichard that his dissolution was fast approaching. On the 25th of March my wife was summoned to Woodside. She found him much altered in appearance, but his countenance brightened when she entered the room ; and throwing one arın around her neck and the other about that of her sister, he exclaimed, “ Now I am happy, truly happy. I have my two gems close to me; I can only sing Mercy, Mercy. The tears flowed rapidly down his cheeks as he gazed upon his children.
“After this day he was never permitted to be alone. It is quite delightful,' says one of his daughters, in a letter which lies before me, to be with him in these his last moments. His gratitude for the attention he receives knows no bounds. Everything that is done for him is right; and when he cannot speak he acknowledges our kindness by smiles the most beautiful I ever beheld. His mind is generally quite collected, and frequently he will repeat, in an under tone, his favourite hymn
Come let us join our cheerful songs.' “To-day, when he reached the line, · For He was slain for us,' he added, 'Tell this to my dear brother.' Since my arrival here I have slept in a small bed in his room. Often in the night, when he thinks I am asleep, I hear him say
• Ten thousand thousand are their tongues,
But all their joys are one.” “In other letters by the same writer, I find the following passages :-“ Papa is perfectly calm and happy, and often alludes to his death. I do not believe a single doubt has ever crossed his mind. He said this morning, I have settled all my worldly affairs; and my eternal concerns, I feel convinced are settled for me by one who cannot err. Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.' * * *
This is a changing world, but there remaineth a rest—a sweet rest. In a few days more I shall have entered upon it. It is a bright prospect, and I long for it; but I