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ductive examples may be presented to the mind ;-whether desirous, as in youth, of unrestrained liberty, and multiplied gratification ; or, at a more advanced age, grasping at power, and
eager in the pursuits of wealth and honors, we may derive cogent reasons from them, for endeavouring with the utmost earnestness “ to redeem the time,” and for applying a much larger portion of that which is to come to the practical duties of a Christian, and the awful interests of eternity.
Lastly, the days may be said to be “ evil,” in a scriptural sense, from the unavoidable infirmities of our nature, and the hardships and sufferings, to which our probationary state is subject. The word was thus used by the patriarch, Jacob, when he said to Pharaoh, with pathetic simplicity, “ Few and evil have the days of the
life been;" and Solomon observes, also, “ all the days of the afflicted are evil.” Farther, it is evident, that the labor of some is so unremitting, in order to procure the necessaries of life, that they have scarcely any time to redeem, beyond what the blessings of the Christian Sabbath afford, and that, indeed, they cannot too highly prize. Severe visitations of Providence may befal others, depriving them of
their former power and opportunities, and leaving them without the means of doing much good, beyond that which consists in the discipline of their own minds, and in the exercise of the more patient virtues. In the mean time, sickness and disease, in various forms, may produce nearly the same effects; while, with all, the "eyil days” of old age are creeping on us, with nearly imperceptible approaches, and may soon leave us, perhaps, in a pitiable state of helplessness, decrepitude, and mental imbecillity,
When, therefore, to these considerations we add the shortness, and uncertainty of life, we may learn to bless God for his mercy and goodness, in still prolonging the period of our existence, and make it our chief study to “ redeem the time, because the days are evil.” But let us remember the precept of our blessed Lord, on a very different occasion, indeed,-“ What thou doest do quickly. Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Delays are always attended with danger, and sometimes with folly. In matters that concern the loss, or salvation of the soul, there must be in them a strange admixture of both: for while we go on from day to day, and year to year, vacillating between the gratifications of sin, and the principles of duty;—while we are ready to yield to temptation, and feel only weak and ineffectual purposes of amendment ;-death may suddenly come on us, as it has on others. The day of trial will then be past; and, notwithstanding the merits and atonement of Christ, the gates of eternal life may be for ever shut against us, as heedless, unrepentant sinners, who heard not the warnings of divine Love, and to whom the gracious terms of salvation had been proffered in vain.
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and
fared sumptuously every day.
The words of the text are the beginning of the well-known Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Of the former, it is said, that, in his life-time he had “ received his good things ;" and of the latter, that he had “ received evil things :" but that, after death, the one was comforted, and the other tormented.
In discoursing on this subject, I shall not consider the variety of important information, which this Parable, on mature reflection, may be made to convey; but will confine myself, chiefly, to the awful dispensation of Providence, with respect to the destiny of the two persons described, in the future and invisible world ; and endeavour to shew, that it was founded on the exercise of that strict, retributive justice, which we must all expect from our Great Creator in the day of judgment.
Their respective characters and conduct are not delineated by our blessed Lord with any amplification of language, or minute detail of circumstances; and therefore we must form our inferences, in some measure, from his silence and reserve. It is stated, indeed, that the rich man was clothed in purple, and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:" but his fortune might have enabled him to do this, without any imputation of extravagance, --without any risk of loss to others, or any danger of ruin to himself. We do not read, that his luxurious mode of life was supported by a fraudulent extension of credit, or by any actual oppression of those with whom he was connected. The purple and the fine linen, it is true, were of foreign manufacture ; and therefore the purchase and consumption of them must have provęd injurious, in some measure, to the trade of his own country.
Again, it is said of Lazarus, that he was a beggar, and grievously afflicted with disease; but this is by no means a decisive proof of the