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mals, which, after a certain period of existence, die, to live no more for ever.
11. Wicked men, then, can derive no consolation from the assurances,which both reason and Revelation afford, of a future eternal existence. Annihilation, which is the favourite dream of infidels, is proved to be a delusion-a broken reed, on which a man cannot lean without inflicting on himself the deepest wound"! Away with every refuge of lies! and do not, in order to give the reins to criminal desires and passions, defraud yourselves of the joys of a blissful immortality! Soon the weak barrier, which separates this world from the next, will be broken down by the hand of Death; and then eternity, with all its glorious and dread realities, will be displayed before you! And will it then be a matter for exultation, to reflect, that, in despite of the convincing lights of Scripture and reason, and the admonitions of conscience, you have rioted in the indulgence of guilty pleasures, and thus, by a sad perversion of mind, have forfeited the bright inheritance which will be assigned to the righteous ?
12. Let all consider the awful grandeur of the destiny that awaits them; on the one side, endless woe to be endured-on the other, everlasting bliss to be enjoyed! Are we then, after death, to live for ever, in one of these extremely-opposite conditions? Yes: at no remote period, "the trumpet shall sound," and summon your attendance at the tribunal of Christ: and there you will be judged according to the deeds you have done in this life; and, afterwards, take your station for ever, either at the right-hand of God, or at an immense distance from him in the regions of unceasing misery.
n Isa. xxxvi. 6.
Let, then, the terrors and the joys of eternity be constantly used, as an incentive to diligence in your Christian calling. A meetness for the heavenly world is indispensably necessary. God is righteous; heaven is holy; and all its joys and employments are of a similar description.
You must be born again" to a spiritual life, manifested by faith and purity and love and every holy disposition, before you can share in the felicity of God's kingdom of grace below, or of his kingdom of glory above. Do not fancy that there is another or better way to heaven; but walk, by Divine assistance, in "that narrow path" which conducts its travellers to "the presence of God, where is fulness of joy, and to his right-hand, where are pleasures for evermore."
13. Christian! the days of your pilgrimage will soon pass away-to be succeeded by an eternity, the duration of which cannot be measured. The blessedness of that state will be an everlasting recompence, which neither your faith nor obedience could ever merit or deserve. Think upon " the crown of glory that fadeth not away;" and let the honour of obtaining it be ascribed to Christ, who purchased it for you, with his blood. Be it your constant study to evince the strongest marks of gratitude and love to the Saviour, "by always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord"."
MAN'S ACCOUNTABLENESS TO GOD FOR HIS TALENTS
Rom. xiv. 12. So, then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
INFIDELITY aims a deadly blow at every thing most valuable to man, both in his present state of existence, and in that which he will arrive at, after mortality shall be swallowed up of life."
By attempting to erase from the mind all notions of our responsibility to God, unbelievers do as much as they can to poison the springs of human consolation, to destroy all moral order and obedience, and to render mankind truly wretched, by robbing them of the pleasing assurance of a state of future blessedness. Does the Great Eternal (say they), "who ruleth among the armies of heaven," deign to pay the least regard to the petty affairs of erring mortals? Will "He visit their offences with the rod" of his displeasure? Does He require homage from the frail inhabitants of the earth, when He is surrounded with the adorations of the heavenly host? No; He is too busy with the concerns of the celestial world, to interfere with the transactions of men; and too rich in compassion, to punish either their flagrant crimes or more venial transgressions.'
The success which has attended such atheistical reasonings, is but too apparent! Wicked men, impatient of the restraints of the Gospel, have greedily swallowed a bait so palatable to their depraved taste; and the consequence has been, that torrents of impiety have deluged the world. This should not ex
cite astonishment; for if Satan can but once persuade men to believe that God takes no cognizance of their actions, they will not scruple to give full scope to the vicious desires of their hearts.
It is not difficult to trace the source from whence opinions so false and dangerous proceed. They arise from a mistaken judgment of the character of God, and from a wish to deny his rightful dominion over his creatures. It is the natural pride and independence of fallen man which make him feel so much uneasiness under the equitable government of his Creator; although facts prove, that an entire freedom from religious and moral restraints is incompatible with his well-being.
How different is this lawless temper from the humility and obedience which the Gospel dictates; which disposes the believer to bow, with the utmost. deference, to the authority of God as his Sovereign, to whom he has sworn allegiance! Knowing that we must hereafter account for our behaviour to Him, let us not suffer ourselves to be led away by the devices of the impious and profane," but follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness".
The objections of infidelity against the rewards and punishments of another life will be most successfully combated, by establishing the truth of the position, that man is an accountable creature, answerable for the abuse of that free agency which God has given him. The reasonableness of this doctrine will appear from the following considerations.
1. The creation of man affords no mean presumption of his responsibility; and none but an infidel will dispute the right which it vests in God, to exact * 1 Tim. vi. 11, 12.
our best services. The Almighty called us into existence, in order that we might admire his unequalled perfections, glorify his name by a pious life, and afterwards inherit eternally his blissful kingdom. "This people have I formed for myself: they shall shew forth my praise"." Jehovah derives satisfaction from the worship of his intelligent creatures: "Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God"." "Yea, from the relation which subsists betwixt himself and us, he founds a strong and irresistible claim to our affectionate devotion. "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if, then, I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of Hosts"." To prove, that, as the Moral Governor of the Universe, he is not equally unconcerned whether men wantonly infringe his laws or render him the service which they are boundto perform, he has given this commission to his Ministers: "Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with them; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked it shall be ill with him; for the reward of his hands shall be given him®.
2. The condition in which we are placed argues our accountableness to God. In this life, man is evidently not in an independent, but in a probationary state; where there is such a mixture of good and evil, so many dangers and temptations, that constant vigilance is requisite, to guard against the malignant designs of his spiritual adversaries. He must watch and pray, lest he enter into temptation: he must bring his passions and appetites under the controul b Isa. xliii. 21. c Psalm 1. 23. Mal. i. 6. d
Isa. iii. 10, 11.