« PreviousContinue »
in store for them, and whose works, through his merits, will justify them in the great day of retribution. There are others, whom Death, whenever it shall come, is not like to translate to the region of the blessed, and whose works will follow them, only to bring them into everlasting confusion. The drunkard may now vaunt himself, and scoff at the terrors of death and judgment. If his profane jests, and all the horrible oaths that are intermixed with them, were written down upon paper, and repeated in public before his face, he would be abashed, if his sober reason and senses were about him. What will be his confusion then, when all his expressions, from the heaviest of his blasphemies down to the lightest of his idle words, shall be exposed before men and angels? How will blasphemy appear, should it be rehearsed in the ears of a sinner, and confronted with the tremendous Majesty of the Almighty, seated upon the clouds of heaven, with darkness under his feet, the noise of thunder rolling through the skies, and flames of lightning flashing round about him? No man should be so weak as to imagine, that I am dressing up this sight, to make it terrible: for all the words we can bring together will never describe one half of the terrors of divine vengeance, or paint the amazement of those, to whom conviction shall come when the day of repentance is gone. Now then let them consider, that they have an account to give; that their most secret actions are noted, yea, and the very thoughts of their hearts registered in heaven. Now let the covetous remember, that all the unjust gain he hath been heaping up will be left behind him; while the deceit and oppression, with which he got it, will follow him into his grave, and stick close to his dust, and rise again to meet him in the day of judg
ment. Cursing, swearing, lying, cheating, debauchery and drunkenness, are now looked upon as the several ingredients of mirth and jollity; but what will they be then? For if any man accepts of such company in this world, it will follow him into the world of Spirits, and cry after him for vengeance.
Thrice happy then is he, who, in the days of his health and strength, before the evil days of age and weakness have overtaken him, hears that celestial voice of the Evangelist, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, &c. daily sounding in his ears, stirring him up to farther degrees of faith and devotion, and keeping him ever mindful of that last great Account, which can be rendered supportable by nothing but a timely preparation.
I. NO man can make a right use of the life which God has given him, unless he understands the nature of it. There is a general mistake among mankind, to which we all are witnesses, and yet are in danger of falling into it every day: and when it hath once got possession of us, our own strength is not sufficient to cast it out. This life is no more than a passage or journey, yet we take it as a settlement; and when we have taken it for such, we use it as such: we use it as what it is not, and consequently we abuse it. This abuse must lead us to misery and ruin; for no man can find his happiness in contradicting the will of God. The Scripture assures us, that God willeth not the death of any sinner; and it is equally certain, on the same principles of his mercy and goodness, that he takes no pleasure in the distress and disappointment of any of his creatures. According to our own narrow and selfish sentiments, he ought to give us such things as are most desirable and pleasant in themselves but instead of these, he gives us what is best for us under our present circumstances; because he looks farther than our own limited powers and disordered passions will suffer us to do. Our