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tremendous day may be, when the dead shall be raised, and every one shall be required give account of the things done in the body," we know not; nor can we tell how soon the grave will close over us, and “ we shall be no more seen.". All that we are assured of is, that life is short, and that death is certain. In this gracious concealment, which marks the peculiar ordinances of divine Providence, we may discover the wisdom, and the mercy, of our great Creator. Any thing like distinct knowledge, on these awfully interesting subjects, would have an evident effect in disqualifying us for the duties of this probationary life, and in rendering us incapable of relishing its few enjoyments. Even as it is, the contemplation of an immortal soul, freed from the infirmities of the body, and in the fruition of eternal bliss; or condemned, by the righteous judgments of God, to a state of eternal degradation and misery, inspires such a holy fear of offending,-furnishes such an awful sanction, and such a powerful, permanent, and, one might suppose, irresistible motive to obedience, to virtue, and godliness of life, that all others might be considered as comparatively insignificant and useless. But here, also, we may adore the wisdom and the mercy of our Almighty Father, in throwing over the tremendous and apalling scene of the last day, that shadowy gloom, and indistinctness of vision, which form essential ingredients, even in the pages of divine Revelation, of true sublimity and grandeur. The holy Scriptures expressly tell us, That " eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him :" and, by parity of reason, we may conclude, with sufficient certainty, that the powers of the human mind can never attain to any clear, distinct, and accurate knowledge of what the sufferings of the wicked must be after death.
This dispensation of Providence is admirably adapted to support our hopes, and, at the same · time, to alarm our fears ;-to make us “ rejoice with trembling;"—to uphold the weak and feeble, and to impress those, who are “ strong in the faith,” still to “press on towards the mark, for the prize of their high calling in Christ Jesus.”
Lastly, for the comfort and encouragement of all true believers, it is revealed to us, that the Saviour, who redeemed the world, and who “can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” will, at his second coming, “ judge it in righteousness ;-that he maketh intercession for us at the right hand of God; and, that the sincere, but imperfect services of a godly, righteous, and sober life, will be accepted, at the throne of grace; “ through his meritorious cross and passion.”
ON THE THINGS WRITTEN AFORETIME FOR OUR
Rom. XV. 4.
Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were
written for our learning; that we, through patience, and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.
The faculty of Reason is certainly the noblest distinction, and endowment, of human nature. Not to notice the various discoveries in the arts and sciences to which it leads, it guards us against the numberless dangers of ignorance and inexperience; and, by enabling us to distinguish between good and evil, it renders us responsible for our actions, as members of society, and accountable hereafter, as heirs of immortality, and children of God. But, after admitting that reason is attended with these, and many
other advantages, it must be allowed, that the fullest exercise of its powers are often necessary to direct, or limit it, to proper and legitimate objects ;-to prevent it from pursuing mere phantoms and shadows, instead of such inquiries as may be useful to ourselves and others; and, above all, to guard it against the mischievous mistake of substituting wild theories, and fanciful hypotheses, for the sober maxims of experience, and the dictates of practical wisdom.
Our essential duty on this, and on many other occasions, is to avoid the danger and the folly of extremes. By degrading human reason too low, man is apt to be the abject slave of prejudice and error, if not the mere tool of base and interested politicians; and, by over-rating its powers, he becomes impatient of all guidance and control ;-or is raised by his vanity and self-love, to a giddy height of exaltation, from which his downfall is the more ruinous and disgraceful.
If we would see the truth of these observations exemplified, we need only turn over the pages of the later Platonists, take a slight view of the senseless jargon of the scholastic ages, or attend to some of the abominable absurdities, both in science, politics, and morals, that have