« PrécédentContinuer »
To dwell on the proof of so obvious a truth, would be a mispense of time. More useful will it be to entertain and apply the instructions and reflec tions, which it suggests to us.
1. In the mortality of the human race, we have a clear demonstration of a future state.
The frame of our bodies, and the powers of our minds, speak forth the wisdom of the Cre
ator; for we are fearfully and wonderfully
made. Perfect wisdom has some worthy end in all that it does, some good design in every thing which it makes. But for what purpose could man be made, if death terminates his existence ? Here is a numerous race of creatures, which, in the present state, answer no end equal to the dignity, or suitable to the capacity of their nature, They have reason, memory, forethought, and reflection. They can look within and around, can contemplate the earth, and the heavens, can conceive immortal desires, and form eternal designs. They have fears of future evil, and hopes of future good. They can discern between right and wrong, approve the one and condemn the other. By study and application, they can improve their knowledge, enlarge their powers, and extend their prospects. But to what purpose is all this, if they have no existence beyond this poor, mortal state? Are their desires and hopes, their fears and apprehensions, merely imaginary? Are they made with a sense of good and evil, and with the powers of reflection and forethought, only to vex and torment them ?-Are they to be struck out of existence almost as soon as they come into it, without opportunity for their minds to open, spread, and reach their just perfection?-Can it be suspected, that an allwise Creator would make a race of intelligent, moral beings, to come on this stage, and pass off again by millions, in such rapid suc
cession, for ages and ages together, when there is no rational or moral purpose to be answered ?— Would he give an intellectual existence to creatures merely for an animal and momentary life; merely to sport for a day, like those swarms of insects, which play in a summer's sun, and then vạnish into eternal non-existence? This is a supposition so contradictory to our ideas of creating wisdom, that we at once reject it. Let us then accustom ourselves to regard and improve this state as preparatory to another. Let every death, which we behold, remind us of a future world, and awaken us to make effectual provision for the important hour, when we must take our departure hence for an everlasting state.
2. What an evil and bitter thing is sin, which has brought into the world innumerable deaths!
Revelation teaches us, that by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passes upon all men, for that all have sinned.
Man was originally made for immortality. And though we cannot suppose, that, in case of innocence, he would always have lived in this world, in a state of continual increase, because then the earth must, in time, have been surcharged with inhabitants; yet his remove from this to a more perfect state, would certainly have been in a manner very different from death; perhaps by such an easy translation as that of Enoch and Elijah. It was by sin, that death made its gloomy entrance into the world, and gained its dreadful dominion over the human race. And the sin, by which it entered, was the first offence of the first human pair. It is not each man's personal transgression that subjects him to death; for death is common to all, to good and bad, to young and old, to them who have sinned, and to them who have not sinned by actual disobedience. Every man must go down to the grave,
whither innumerable have gone already. It is then only one single sin, which has made this awful havock.-By one offence, death reigns.-By one of fence, judgment is come on all men. One transgres sion has filled the world with deaths, in ages past; nor is its baleful influence spent.
Shall we then, like fools, make a mock of sin ?Shall we think it a light and trifling matter to of fend the great and holy God, to transgress his laws, and run in the face of his warnings and threatenings?-Shall we dare any longer to continue under the guilt of all our personal sins? Think what innumerable deaths one sin has produced, and then say, whether it be safe to live any longer exposed to the punishment, which our innumerable sins deserve.
How infinitely it concerns every son of Adam now to take the benefit of the glorious redemption purchased by the death of a Saviour!
The Son of God has come down to our world, and taken our nature, that he might suffer death for our redemption. It was not the intention of his death to exempt us from dying; die we must still; but to deliver us from the awful consequences of death-from eternal death. Let the consideration. of the great evil of sin, manifested in the universal mortality of the human race, excite us immediatey to fly from sin by repentance, and to the Saviour by faith, that we may obtain a discharge from our guilt, and a title to that glorious resurrection and happy immortality, by which death is swallowed up in victory.
If a single sin deserves such numberless deaths, how amazing must be the desert of all our sins, and how amazingly will this desert be increased, if to all our other sins we add this, the greatest of all sins, an obstinate and contemptuous rejection of the Saviour! His death is an atonement for other sins; But what other atonement will you find for the
sin of finally refusing this? If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin; but a fearful looking for of judgment.
3. Our subject may give us some faint ideas of the grandeur of the final judgment.
The scripture assures us, that, as there will be a righteous judgment, so it will be universal, extending to all, to quick and dead, to bond and free, to great and small. That earth and sea will give up their dead, that all who are in their graves shall come forth, and those who are alive, and remain, will be collected with them before the throne of the Son of God, who will render to every one according to the deeds done in the body. On that great day, what an amazing multitude will be assembled! Not merely the people of a particular country, not only the numerous millions, which now swarm on the globe, not only the countless myriads, which have peopled it for nearly six thousand years past; but all who shall be called on this stage, in the unknown succession of future generations, till time shall be no more. These, all these shall be collected in one grand assembly, to attend their final trial, hear their righteous sentence, and receive their eternal destination. Yea, not only the human race, but those legions of evil spirits, which left their first habitation, and are now reserved in chains, under darkness, to the judgment of the great day, will then be brought forth, and adjudged to the full measure of their torments. And to add to the majesty and solemnity of the scene, thousands of thousands, ten thousand times ten thousand, an innumerable company of angels, will give their attendance, and wait around the fiery throne, as ministering spirits, to testify their approbation of the equity of the process, and carry into execution the orders of the Judge.
The contemplation of this great and awful judgment, at which we must assuredly make our appearance, and in which we shall have an infinite concern, may justly fill us with amazement, awaken our most solemn attention, and make us careful what manner of persons we are.
Beware of hypocrisy; for there is nothing covered, which shall not be revealed. Be afraid of secret sins, for these will be brought into judgment. The hidden things of darkness will be exposed in the light, and the counsels of all hearts made manifest before the assembled world.
4. How vain and trifling are our earthly interests and possessions!
We are only pilgrims, passengers, transient, fugitive mortals. The generations of men are passing in quick succession, and there is no abiding. What have we in this world, that can be worth the name of property ?-What folly to be anxious about our worldly condition; or to take much thought what we have, or what we want, what we get, or what we lose?
How many millions have lived in this world, each of whom had something which he called his own! What struggles and contests have there been about this tract of territory, and that spot of ground, this lump of ore, and that glittering stone! The same worldly and contentious spirit remains. We have our respective claims, right or wrong. One boasts of his superiority; another complains of his want: One despises a poor neighbour; another envies a rich one: One sacrifices ease and conscience to gain more wealth; another, to gratify vanity and lust, spends what his father gained.
How busy are mankind; and yet how trifling their designs and pursuits! But soon death breaks all their purposes, and frustrates the thoughts of their heart. In a few days, we who now live, shall