Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ened by a serene atmosphere and a splendid sun; sometimes disfiguered by jarring elements, and overcast with troubled skies.

But far unlike shall be the everlasting habitations of the just. Though how they are formed, or what objects they contain, is not given us now to conceive; nor, in all probability, would our faculties be equal to the conception ; the emblematical descriptions of them in Scripture are calculated to excite high ideas of magnificence and glory. This one particular we know with certainty, that therein dwelleth righteousness; that is complete virtue and eternal order; and wherever these are found, the most perfect sources are opened of joy and bliss. This earth was never intended for more than outter court, the pourch, through which the righteous were to pass into the temple and sanctuary of the Divinity. When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

The inference which follows from what has been said on this subject, cannot be so well expressed as in the words of the Apostle, in the verse immediately following the text; Seeing that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in ali holy conversation and yodliness? Ought not the important discoveries which have been made to us of the designs of the almighty, and of the destiny of man, to exalt our sentiments, and to purify our life from what is vicious or vain? While we pursue the business and cares of our present station, and partake of the innocent pleasures which the world affords, let us maintain that dignity of character, which becomes immortal beings; let us act with that circumspection which becomes those who know they are soon to stand before the judgmentseat of the Son of God: in a word, let us study to be what we would wish to be found, if to us the day of the Lord should come.

I KNOW it will occur, that the prospect of that day cannot be expected to have much influence on the present age. The events of which I have treated, must needs, it will be said, belong to some future race of men. Many prophecies yet remain to be fulfilled. Many preparatory events must take place, before the world is ripe for final judgment. Whether this be the case or not, none of us with certainty know. But allow me to remind you, that to each of us an event is approaching, and not far distant, which shall prove of the same effect with the coming of the day of the Lord. The day of death is, to every individual, the same as the day of the dissolution of the world. The sun may continue to shine ; but to them who are laid in the grave, his light is finally extinguished. The world may remain active, busy, and noisy; but to them all is silence. The voice which gives the mandate, Return again to your dust, is the same with the sound of the last trumpet. Death fixes the doom of every

one, finally and irrevocably. This surely is an event which none of us can remove in our thoughts to a remote age. To-morrow, to-day, the fatal mandate may be issued. Watch therefore; be sober be vigilant; ye know not at what hour the Son of Man cometh.

Having now treated both of the creation and dissolution of the world, I cannot conclude without calling your thoughts to the magnificent view which these events give us, of the kingdom and dominion of the Almighty. With reverence we contemplate his hand in the signal dispensations of Providence among men; deciding the fate of battles; raising up, or overthrowing empires; casting down the proud, and lifting the low from the dust.' But what are such occurrences to the power and wisdom which He displays in the higher revolutions of the universe; by his word forming or dissolving worlds; at his pleasure, transplanting his creatures from one world to another, that he may carry on new plans of wisdom and goodness, and fill all space with the wonders of creation ? Successive generations of men have arisen to possess the earth. By turns they have passed away and gone into regions unknown. Us he hath raised up, to occupy their room. We too shall shortly disappear. But human existence never perishes. Life only changes its form, and is renewed. Creation is ever filling, but never full. When the whole intended course of the generations of men shall be finished, then as a shepherd leads his flock from one pasture to another, so the great Creator leads forth the souls which he hath made, into new and prepared abocles of life. They go from this earth to a new earth, and new heavens; and still they remove, only from one province of the Divine dominion to another.--Amidst all those changes of nature, the great Ruler himself remains without variableness or shadow of turning. To him, these successive revolutions of being but as yesterday when it is past. From this eternal throne, he beholds worlds rising and passing away; measures out, to the creatures who inhabit them, powers and faculties suited to their state; and distributes among them rewards and punishments, proportioned to their actions.—What an astonishing view do such meditations afford of the kingdom of God; infinite in its extent ; everlasting in its duration ; exhibiting, in every period, the reign of perfect righteousness and wisdom! Who by searching can find out God? who can find out the Almighty to perfection? Greut and marvellous are all thy works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are all thy ways, thou King of saints !

[blocks in formation]

SERMON LI.

ON THE CAUSES OF MEN'S BEING WEARY OF LIFE,

My soul is weary of my life~Job, x. 1.

JOB, in the first part of his days, was the greatest of all the men of the East. His possessions were large ; his family was numerous and flourishing ; his own character was fair and blameless. Yet this man it pleased God to villt with extraordinary reverses of fortune. He was robbed of his whole substance. His sons and daughters all perished ; and he himself, fallen from his high estate, childless, and reduced to poverty, was smitten with sore disease. His friends came about him, seemingly with the purpose of administering comfort. But from a harsh and illfounded construction of the intention of Providence in his disasters, they only added to his sorrows by unjust upbraiding. Hence those many pathetic lamentations with which this Book abounds, poured forth in the most beautiful and touching strain of Oriental poetry. In one of those hours of lamentation, the sentiment in the text was uttered; My soul is weary of my life; a sentiment, which surely, if any situation can justify it, was allowable in the case of Job.

In situations very different from that of Job, under calamities far less severe, it is not uncommon to find such a sentiment working in the heart, and sometimes breaking forth from the lips of men. Many, very many there are, who, on one occasion or other, have experienced this weariness of life, and been tempted to wish that it would come to a close. Le us now examine in what circumstances this feeling may be deemed excusable; in what it is to be held sinful; and under what restrictions we may, on any occasion, be permitted to say, My soul is weary of my life.

I shall consiiler the words of the text in three lights: as ex.pressing, First, The sentiment of a discontented man : Secondly,

The sentiment of an afflicted man: Thirdly, The sentiment of a devout man.

I. Let us consider the text as expressing the sentiment of a discontented man ; with whom it is the effusion of spleen, vexation, and dissatisfaction with life, arising from causes neither laudable nor justifiable. There are chiefly three classes of men who are liable to this disease of the mind; the idle ; tbe luxurious; the criminal.

First. This weariness of life is often found among the idle ; persons commonly in easy circumstances of fortune, who are not engaged in any of the laborious occupations of the world, and who at the same time, without energy of mind to call them forth into any other line of active exertion. In this languid, or rather torpid state, they have so many vacant hours, and are so much at a loss how to fill up their time, that their spirits utterly sink ; they become burdensome to themselves, and to every one around them; and drag with pain the load of existence, What a convincing proof is hereby afforded, that man was designed by his Creator to be an active being, whose happiness is to be found not merely in rest, but in occupation and pursuit ! The idle are doomed to suffer the natural punishment of their inactivity and folly; and from their complaints of the tiresomeness of life there is no remedy but to awake from the dream of sloth, and to fill up with proper employment the miserablc vacancies of their days. Let them study to become useful to the world, and they shall soon become less burdensome to themselves. They shall begin to enjoy existence; they shall reap the rewards which Providence has annexed to virtuous activity ; and have no more cause to say, My soul is weary of life.

Next. The luxurious and the dissipated form another class of men, among whom such complaints are still more frequent. With them they are noi the fruit of idleness. These are men who have been busied enough ; they have run the whole race of pleasure; but they have run it with such inconsiderate speed, that it terminates in weariness and vexation of spirit. By the perpetual course of dissipation in which they are engaged; by the excesses which they indulge; by the riotous revel, and the midnight, or rather morning hours to which they belong their festivity; they have debilitated their bodies, and worn out their spirits. Satiated with the repetition of their accustomed pleasures, and yet unable to find any new ones in their places ; wandering round and round their former haunts of joy, and ever returning disappointed; weary of themselves, and of all things about them, their spirits are oppressed with a deadly gloom, and the complaint bursts forth of odious life and a miserable world. Never are these complaints more frequent than at the close of rounds of amusement, and after a long repetition of festal plea

sures; when the spirits, which had been forced up, as by some into sicauing drus, to an unnatural height, suisside into profound dejection. What increases the evil is, that it is not among the inlirm, and the aged, but among the young, the gay, and the prosperous, who ought to be reputed the happiest men, that this distaste of life most frequently prevails.

When persons of this description, in their peevish and splenetic hours, exclaim, My soul is weary of my life, let them know, let nem be assured, that this is no other than the judgment of God overtaking them for their vices and follies. Their complaints of misery are entitled to no compassion ; nay, they are sintul, because they arise from a sinful cause; from a mind broken and debased by luxury and corruption. They are the authors of their own misery, by having thrown away on the follies of the world those powers which God had bestowed on them for nobler ends.-Let them return to the duties of men and Christians. Let them retreat from frivolity, and abstain from excess. Let them study temperance, moderation, and self-commund. By entering on a virtuous and manly course of action, and applying to the honourable discharge of the functions of their station, ihey will acquire different views. They will obtain moro real enjoyment of life, and become more willing to prolong it.-But, after the warnings which God has given them of their misbehaviour by the inward misery they suffer, if they still continue to run the same intemperate round, and to drain pleasure to the last dregs, it shall come to pass, that they who now contemn life, and are impatient of its continuance, shall be the persons most eager to prolong it. When they behold it in reality drawing towards a close, and are obliged to look forward to what is to come after it, they shall be rendered awfully sensible on its value. They will then grasp eagerly at the flying hours; aarious to stop them if they could, and to employ every moment that remains in repairing their past errors, and in making their peace, if possible, with God and heaven. According as they have sown, they now reap. They are reduced to eat the fruit of Their men ways, and to be filled with their own devices.

THRt remains still a third class of those who from diseontent are become weary of life; such as have embittered it to theme've by the consciousness of criminal deeds. They have horn, perhapm, unnatural to their parents, or treacherous to their frems; they have violated their fidelity, hare ensnared and rubel the slinocent; or have occasioned the death of others. 'I re is no wonder that such persons should lost their relish ior ito. To whaleser arts they may have rerourse for procuring a Pagina po'st qu*, copurience will at times exert its native power, formoXK* 1865 tbxon its terrifie scourge The intertial misery they *Hati wa taat altimos anen lo such a height, as had made them

« AnteriorContinuar »