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in society, which gives respect to the man of honour and integrity; and he does not forfeit that respect though known at the same time to be a man of dissipation. Not that we think any one of the virtues which enter into the composition of a perfect character can suffer without all the other virtues suffering along with it. We believe that the connexion between the habit of an unlawful pleasure, and the maintenance of a strict, resolute, exalted equity in truth, is very seldom, we could almost say, is never realized.
The man of forbidden indulgence, in the prosecution of his objects, has a thousand degrading fears to encounter, and many concealments to practise, perhaps, low and unworthy artifices, to which he must descend; and how can either his honour or his honesty be said to survive, if, at length, in his heedless and impetuous career, he shall trample on the dearest rights and the most sacred interests of families? We think it has all the authority of a moral aphorism, that the sobrieties of human virtue can never be invaded, without the equities of human virtue also being invaded. The moralities of life are too closely linked and interwoven with each other, as though one should be touched the others may be uninjured and entire; and so no man can cast his purity away from him without a violence being done to the general moral consistency and structure of his whole character.
But besides this we have the authority of the text, and the oft-repeated affirmations of the New Testament, for saying to the voluptuary, that if the countenance of the world be not withdrawn from him, the gate of heaven is at least shut against him; that nothing unclean or unholy can enter there; and the carrying his unsanctified affections into the place of condemnation, he will find them to be ministers of wrath and executioners of a still fiercer vengeance. The loathing, the remorse, the felt and conscious degradation, the dreariness of heart that follow in the train of guilty indulgence; here these form but the beginning of his sorrows, and are but the presages and precursors of that deeper wretchedness, which, by the unrepealed laws of moral nature, descend on its possessor in another state of existence. They are but the penalties of vice in embryo; and that may give, at least, a conception of what those penalties are in full. It will add inconceivably to the darkness and the disorder of that moral chaos in which the unpenitent shall spend their eternity, when the uproar of the bacchanalian and licentious passions are thus superadded to the selfish and malignant passions of our nature; and when the frenzy of unsated desire, followed up by the languor and compulsion of its worthless indulgence, shall make up the sad history of many an unhappy spirit. We need not to dwell on the picture, though it brings out into bolder relief the all-important truth that there is an inherent bitterness in sin; that, by the very constitution of our nature, moral evil is its own curse, and its own worst punishment; that the wicked, on the other side of death, but reap what they sowed on this; and that whether we look to the tortures of a distempered spirit, or to the countless ills of a distempered society, we may be very sure that to the character of its inmates—a character which they have fostered upon earth, and which now remains fixed on them in eternity--that to this character the main wretchedness of hell is owing.
Before quitting this part of the subject we have but one remark more to offer. It
be felt as if we had over-stated the power of mere character to beget a wretchedness at all approaching to the wretchedness of hell, seeing that the character is often realized in this world without bringing along with it a distress or a discomfort which is at all intolerable. Neither the “unjust” man of my text, nor the licentious man of my text, is seen to be so unhappy here, in virtue of the moral characteristics which respectively belong to them, as to justify the imagination that these characteristics will have the power to effect such anguish and disorder of spirit as that which we have now been representing. But it is forgotten, first, that we shall have no such world on the other side of death—that the world presents, in its business, and amusements, and various gratifications, a refuge from the reflection and remorse of the mental agonies of the world; and, secondly, that the governments of the world offer a restraint against those outbreaks of violence
which would keep up a perpetual anarchy in the species. Let us simply conceive of these two securities, against our having even now a hell upon earth, that they are both taken down; that there was no longer such a world as ours, affording to each individual spirit innumerable diversions from the burden of its own thoughts; and no longer such a human government as ours, affording to general society a powerful defence against the countless variety of ills which would otherwise rage and tumultuate within its bounds; and then, as sure as a solitary prison (and a remarkable fact it is, and illustrative of the real tendency of our moral nature in a marked degree) is felt by every criminal to be the most dreadful of all punishments; and as sure, on the authority of law being surpended, the reign of terror would commence, and the unhinged passions of humanity would go forth over the face of the land to ravage and destroy, so surely, out of moral elements and moral influences alone, might an eternity of utter wretchedness and despair be entailed on the rebellious. And only let all the unjust and all the licentious of my text be formed into a community by themselves, and that Christianity, which now acts as a purifying and preserving salt upon the earth, be wholly removed from it, and then it would be seen that the picture has not been overcharged, but that the wretchedness is intense and universal, just because the wickedness reigns uncontrolled without mixture and without mitigation.
But we now exchange this appalling for a more delightful contemplation. The next clause of our text suggests to us the moral character of heaven. We learn from it, on the universal principle, that, as the tree falleth so it lies; that, “ the righteous now” will “ be righteous still.” We no more dispute the material accompaniments of heaven, than we dispute the material accompaniments of the place of condemnation; but still we must affirm of the happiness that reigns, and holds unceasing jubilee there, that mainly and pre-eminently it is the happiness of virtue— that the joy of the eternal city is not so much a tasteful, or a sensible, or even an intellectual, as it is a moral and spiritual joy—that it is a thing of mental, infinitely more than it is a thing of corporeal gratification.
And to convince us how much the former has the power and the predominancy over the latter, we bid you reflect that even in this world, with all the defects and disorders of its materialism—the curse upon its ground inflicting the necessity of sore labour and the angry tempest from its sky often destroying or sweeping off the fruits of itthe infirmities of these feeble and distempered frames, often of pining sickness, and, at times, of sore agony, yet in spite of these, we ask whether it would not hold nearly, if not universally true, that if all men were righteous then all men would be happy. Just imagine for a moment that honour, and integrity, and benevolence were perfect and universal in the world that each held the property, and the reputation, and the rights of his neighbour to be dear to him as his own--that the suspicions, and the heart-burnings, and the jealousies, whether of hostile violence or envious competition, were altogether banished from human society—that the emotion, at all times delightful, of good will on the one side, were, ever and anon, calling the emotion, no less delightful, of gratitude back again—that truth and tenderness had their secure abode in every family-and, that standing forth amidst the wider companionships of life, we each could confidently rejoice in every one which he met with as a brother and a friend--we ask, if by this simple change-a change you will observe in nothing else than the morale of humanity—though winter should repeat its storms as heretofore, and every element were to abide unaltered, yet, in virtue of a process and revolution altogether moral, would not our millenium be begun and a heaven on earth be realized ? Now let this contemplation be borne aloft, as it were, in the upper sanctuary, where, we are told, there are “ the spirits of just men made perfect;" or where those who were once “ the righteous on earth, are righteous still”- let it be remembered that nothing is admitted there, which worketh wickedness or maketh a lie, and that, therefore, with every virulence of evil, detached and dissevered from the mass, there is nought in heaven but the pure and transparent element of goodness. Think of its unbounded love, its tried and unaltered friendship, its confiding sincerity--think of the
expressive designation given to it in the Bible, “the land of uprightness"-above all, think of the revealed and invisible glory of “ the righteous God,” who “ loveth righteousness" there, sitting upon His throne in the midst of the rejoicing family, Himself rejoicing over them because formed in His own likeness, they love what He loves, they rejoice at what He rejoices in. There may be palms of triumph, I do not know-there may be crowns of unfading lustre-there may be pavements of emerald -and rivers of pleasure—and groves of rich surpassing loveliness and palaces of delight-and high arches in heaven, which ring with sweetest melody; but, mainly and essentially, it is a moral glory which is lighted up there; and it is virtue which blossoms and is the myrtle there—it is a joy by which the spirits of the holy are regaled there it is thus it forms the beatitude of eternity. The "righteous" when they die now, when they rise again shall be righteous still; have heaven already in their bosoms; and when they enter its portals they carry the very being and the substance of its blessedness along with them a character, which is itself the whole of heaven--and worth of character, which is the very essence of heavenly enjoyment.
The last clause is, “Let him that is holy, be holy still.” The two clauses descriptive of the character, and the place of celestial blessedness are counterparts of the two clauses descriptive of the character and place of eternal woe; he that is “ righteous” in the one stands contrasted with him that is “unjust” in the other-he that is “holy” in the one stands contrasted with him that is “ licentious" in the other. But I would have you attend to the full extent and signification of the term "holy." It is not abstinence from the outward deeds of profligacy alone—it is not a mere recoil from impurity in action. It is a recoil from impurity in thought-it is that quick and sensitive delicacy, to which even the very conception of evil is offensive; a virtue which has its residence within, which takes guardianship of the heart, as a citadel of unviolated sanctity, in which no worthless or wrong imagination is permitted to dwell. It is not purity of action which is all that we contend for; it is exalted purity of sentiment,