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tionary pilgrimage, will in argument, deny that it is so.
Such a truth, so generally acknowledged, so immediately brought home with all its awful consequences to every one of us, must, one would imagine, produce its spiritual fruits. But is it so? How exactly the reverse of a strange land, of a house of pilgrimage, this life is considered and used by Christians in general, the slightest observation of what passes in the world, and the more useful lesson from our own personal experience, will very readily, convince all who give the matter the smallest consideration.duise, shir hour
That Christians in general regard themselves as owners rather than" strangers," as having found a home rather than as "pilgrims," seeking one elsewhere, the anxious cares about the things, the little trifling things of earth; the fixed and unshaken love of earthly pleasures, and temporal gains, against the precepts of religion and the stinging remonstrances of a conscience not at ease, too plainly prove,
And the reason of all this is evident. This world speaks the argument of present possession, and holds up a promise, (they who be lieve and try it find it not to be true,) that, in spite of the Saviour's own declaration to the contrary, men can serve God and mammon,
The affections, naturally corrupt, and easily brought to love and serve the creature, are fixed upon earth, and upon the profits and pleasures of earth; and religious truth then ceases to have any practical effect against what is received and made matter of deeper thought and concern, ‹
While the heart is engrossed with the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, or the love of this present world, religion remains only in the understanding: the seed is indeed received, but it either falls by the way side, and the fowls come and devour it; or upon stony places where it hath no root, and so withers away; or among thorns, which spring up and choke it.
The happier issue, in the mean while, in this well known parable of our Lord, to the seed which was sown upon good ground, very, convincingly proves, that if the Gospel were really believed, and its doctrines and precepts consistently applied, the understanding would be convinced, and the will and affections interested, and honest exertion made.
But if religious truth make no other impression than simply in convincing the understanding, the soul remains untouched; the Gospel is then no ground of hope, nor any rule of duty.
It would seem indeed exceedingly strange
that the truths of religion, and the warnings of our own experience, have such little effect in bringing the force of the awful realities which God hath revealed, into the hearts and will, as well as into the understandings of men. But it ever, hath been so: the very miracles which Christ himself performed to make men receive the Gospel as a rule of duty and a foundation of saving hope, were ascribed by the enemies of religion to the power of evil; and every subterfuge which an uneasy conscience and better knowledge have taught men since, has continually been urged, to cause as much practical forgetfulness as possible, of the scriptural and experienced truth, that, notwithstanding the allurements of pleasure, the strong claims of worldly gain, and the downward tendency of the affections and passions of mankind, all are here only upon their state of trial, strangers and pilgrims" upon earth.
If then, in opposition to these dangerous enemies of our souls, we receive, as we ought to do, that solemn truth now before us, it remains that the proof be given that our belief is not the mere assent of the understanding, but a deep conviction of the heart.
We have lately remembered, in all its proclaimed blessedness, the joyful news of a First Advent; and it is by such considerations as a new year brings before us, that we are called
upon to prepare for the awful Second Advent. That the fearful necessity of such a preparation, and the wholesome lessons which the new year teaches, may be continually before us, let us never forget the truth which the texts brings to all.
The beginning of another of those short periods which number our days upon earth, is now before us: and we all begin the year: but, that we shall all go through this year, is what none can tell. In the ordinary issues of life, we should be prepared to expect that we may not all meet again to listen to the knell of the departed, to receive the awakening watchword of an opening year. But who shall go, and who shall meet again, is a question as impossible to be answered, as it is full of the most awful warning. Our great concern is not to know the end of our pilgrimage, but to prepare for it. We travel still, and our journey has an end.
Let each of us, then, consider his own path, and apply religious truth to practical purposes. Though we are all strangers here, though as pilgrims we all travel, it is under many and various circumstances, as far as this life is concerned, affecting each individual Christian. We travel; some of us with many comforts and refreshing conveniences on our journey; some of us in heavy afflic
tion, and bitter pain; some with many ta
lents, others with few.
But we all neverthe
great and important
less travel, and, in the
point, we all are equally concerned: we all travel to the same end of life, at which our probation ceases, and our account of how we conducted ourselves in the pilgrimage of this world begins. Our journey too, is one only of two roads, and the Saviour Himself hath held them up to our view. "Enter yerin at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."* Here, then, we all remain under the most exact equality: there are but two roads for the spiritual journey of life, and at the end of the journey all will be called upon to give account...
Let us pause for a moment, and ask how it can be, that the full and entire belief of these things seems to make so weak an impression upon Christians in general, and does not cause all to look more into the concerns of the soul, and the things which are soon to come upon every one of us.
Our fallen and corrupted nature, a weak faith, evil habits long pursued and still going * Matt. vii. 13, 14. ***