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ON THE TWO FUTURE STATES OF EXISTENCE.

A SERMON

BY TIIE

REV. DR. CHALMERS,

(From a Correspondent.)

Text.-" He that is unjust, let him be unjust still : he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be

holy still."---Revelations, xxii. 11. Our first remark, on the Scripture we have now read, is how very palpably, and how nearly it connects time with eternity. The character wherewith we sink into the

grave at death, is the very character wherewith we shall reappear on the day of resurrection. The character which habit has fixed and strengthened through life, adheres, it would seem, to the disembodied spirit through the mysterious interval which separates the day of our dissolution from the day of our account, when it will again stand forth, the very image and substance of what it was, to the inspection of the Judge and the awards of the judgmentseat. The moral lineaments which be graven on the tablet of the inner man, and which every day of the unconverted life makes deeper and more indelible than before, will retain the very impress they have gotten, unaltered and uneffaced by the transition from our present to our future state of existence. There will be a dissolution, and then a reconstruction of the body from the sepulchral dust into which it hath mouldered; but there will neither be a dissolution nor a renovation of the spirit, which, indestructible both in character and essence, will weather and retain its identity on the midway passage between this world and the next; so that at the time of quitting this earthly tenement, we may say, that if just " now, it will be " unjust" still, --if " filthy" now, it will be “ filthy” still,—if “ righteous " now, it will be

(No. 11 & 12.7

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righteous” still, and if " holy " now, it will be “ holy” still.

Our second remark suggested by the Scripture now under consideration is that there be many analogies of nature and experience which even death itself does not interrupt. There is nothing more familiar to our daily observation than the power and inveteracy of habit; insomuch that every propensity is strengthened by every new act of indulgence, and every virtuous principle is more firmly established than before by every new act of resolute obedience to its dictates. The law which connects the actings of boyhood or youth with the character of manhood, is the identical and unrepealed law which connects our actings in time with our character in eternity. The way in which the moral discipline of youth prepares for the honours and the enjoyments of a virtuous manhood, is the very way in which the moral and spiritual discipline of the whole life prepares for a virtuous and happy immortality; and, on the other hand, the succession of cause and of effect, from a profligate youth or a dishonest manhood to a disgraced and worthless old age, is just the succession also of cause and effect between the misdeeds and the depravities of our history on earth, and the inheritance of worthlessness and wretchedness for ever. The law of moral continuity between different states of human life, is also the law of continuity between the two worlds, which even the death that intervenes does not violate. Be he a saint or a sinner, each shall be filled, in the express language of Scripture, with the fruit of his own ways. So that when translated into the respective places, of fixed and everlasting destination, the one shall rejoice through eternity in that pure element of goodness which here he loved and aspired after ; the other, the helpless and degraded victim of those passions which, lording over him through life, shall be irrevocably damned to that worst of torments, and that worst of tyranny-the torment of his own accursed nature--the inexorable tyranny of evil.

Our third remark suggested by this Scripture is that it affords no dubious prospect of the future hell and the future heaven of the New Testament. We are aware of the material images employed in Scripture, and by which it embodies forth its representations of both; of the fire, and the brimstone, and the lake of living agony, and the gnashing of teeth, and the wailing--the ceaseless wailing of distress and despair unutterable, by which the one is set before us in characters of terror and most revolting hideousness; of the splendour, the spaciousness, the music, the floods of melody, the rich and surpassing loveliness by which the other is set before us in characters of bliss and brightness unperishable, with all that can regale the glorified senses of creatures rejoicing for ever in the presence and before the throne of God. We stop not to inquire, far less to dispute, whether these descriptions, in the plain meaning of every letter of them, are to be realized; but we hold that it would purge theology from many of its errors, that it would guide and enlighten the practical Christianity of many honest inquirers, if the moral character, both of heaven and hell, were more distinctly recognised, and held a more prominent place in the regards and the contemplations of man. If it indeed be true, that the moral, rather than the material, is the main ingredient whether of the coming torment, or the coming ecstacy, then the hell of the wicked may be said to have already begun, and the heaven of the virtuous may be said to have already begun; the one, in the bitterness of an unhinged and dissatisfied spirit, has the foretaste of the wretchedness before him—the other, in the peace and triumph and complacency of an approving conscience, has a foretaste of the happiness before him. Each is ripening for his own everlasting destiny; and whether it be in the depravities that deepen and accumulate on the character of the one, or in the graces that brighten and multiply on the other, we see materials enough for the worm that dieth not, or for the pleasures that are for evermore.

But, again, it may be asked, will spiritual elements alone—will moral and spiritual elements alone, suffice to make up either the intense and unutterable wretchedness of the hell, or the intense beatitudes of the heaven? For the answer to this question, let us first draw your attention to the former of these receptacles; and we ask you, to think of the state of that heart in respect of sensation which is the seat of a concentrated and all absorbing selfishness, which feels for no other interest than its own, and holds no fellowship of truth, or honesty, or confidence with the fellow beings around it. The owner of such a heart may live in society ; but cut off as he is, by his own sordid nature, from the reciprocities of honourable feelings and good faith, he may be said to live an exile in the midst of it; he is a stranger to the daylight of the moral world, and instead of walking abroad on the open platform of free and fearless communion with his fellows, he spends a cold and heartless existence in a hiding-place of his own.

You mistake it, if you think of this creeping and ignoble creature, that he knows ought of the real truth or substance of enjoyment; or however successful he may have been, in the wiles of his solitary selfishness, that a sincere and a solid satisfaction has ever been the result of it. On the contrary, if you enter his heart, you will find a distaste and disquietude in the lurking sense of its own worthlessness; and though it is dissevered from the respect of society without, he finds no refuge within, when he is abandoned by the respect of his own conscience. It does not consist with our moral nature that there should be internal happiness or internal harmony when the moral sense is made to suffer perpetual violence. The man of cunning and concealment, however dexterous, however triumphant in his wretched policy, is not at ease. The stoop, the downcast regard, the dark and sinister expression of him who cannot lift up his head among his fellow men, or look his companions in the face, is a sensible proof that he who knows himself to be dishonest, feels himself to be degraded; and the inward sense of dishonour that haunts and humbles him here, is but the commencement of that shame and everlasting contempt to which he shall awake hereafter. This, you will observe, is purely a moral chastisement, and, apart from the infliction of violence or pain in the sensible economy, is enough to overwhelm the spirit which is exercised thereby. Let him, therefore, who is unjust now, be unjust still; and in stepping from time to eternity, he bears in his own distempered bosom, the materials of the coming vengeance along with him. Character itself will be the executioner of its own condemnation; and instead of each suffering apart, the unrighteous are congregated together, as in the parable of the tares, where, instead of each plant being severally destroyed, the order is given to bind them up in bundles and burn them. We may be well assured, that when the turbulence and disorder of an unrighteous society are superadded to those sufferings which prey in secrecy and solitude within the heart of each individual member, a ten-fold fiercer and more intolerable agony will ensue from it. The anarchy of a state, when the authority of its government is for a time suspended, forms but a feeble representation of that everlasting anarchy, when the unrighteous of all ages are let loose to act and re-act with the utmost violence on each other. In this conflict of assembled myriads—this fierce and fell collision between the outrages and the anxieties on the one side, and the outcries of resentment on the other—though no pain were inflicted in this war of passions, yet the purpose of passion and the purpose of violence in one creature calls forth the purpose of passion and the purpose of keenest vengeance back again—though no moral and sentient agony were felt in the war of disembodied spirits, yet in the wild tempest of the emotions alone, the hatred, the fury, the burning recollection of injured rights, and the brooding thoughts of yet unfulfilled retaliationin these, and these alone, do we behold materials enough of a dire and dreadful pandemonium; and apart from corporeal sufferings altogether, may we behold in the full and final development of character alone, enough for imparting all its corrosion to the “ worm that dieth not”enough for sustaining in all its fierceness “ the fire that is not quenched."

But there is another moral ingredient in the aftersufferings of the wicked, besides the one of which we have now spoken, suggested to us by the second clause of our text, and from which we learn, that not only will the “ unjust” man carry his falsehood and his fraud along with him to the place of condemnation ; but that also the voluptuary will carry his unsanctified habits and unhallowed passions thitherward; in other words, “ let him that is filthy, be filthy still.” I would here take the opportunity of exposing what I fear to be a frequent delusion

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