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Nothing can be more wide of apostolical faith than the spiritual frame and habit of these. They mind earthly things. They have no conversation in hea
The world is their all, and it is within the compass of its visible horizon that their every wish and every
interest lies. The terrors of another world do not agitate them. The hopes of another world do not enliven them. To both they are profoundly, asleep, and that too at the very time when all within them is restless, and anxious, and astir about the matters of the short-lived day that is passing over them. This is the general description of all those who live without God and without hope. Does it apply to any of you? Then you may have honour, and decency, and kindness, and courtesy, and agreeable manners, and even exemplary morals, but you
faith. And it brings out this want of faith into more distinct exhibition, that they who exemplify it are so susceptible of a powerful impulse from futurity. It is not that we want the faculty of anticipation, for this, in fact, is the main-spring of all the activity that we see afloat in the world. Man lives on the
that is before him. It is in the pursuit of some distant advantage, or in the avoidance of some distant evil, that all his powers of thought and action are expended. Were the machinery of his moral system capable of no impulse from futurity, then it might alleviate the charge that we prefer against him, when we state his life to be an idiot's dream, on the brink of an eternity, that, ere a few little days, will absorb him, an unsheltered and unprovided creature, into a receptacle of despair. But it only marks
the more striking his blindness to the futurities of an eternal world, that he is so vigilant, and so busily alive to all the futurities of the present world—that he proves himself so eminently a creature of foresight in all that regards the pursuits or the interests of time, while this high characteristic of his nobler and loftier nature, seems to abandon him in all that regards the great concerns of immortality—that the very same man who can sit up late, and rise up early, for the purpose of building an earthly fortune in behalf of his children, and of his children's children, should never bestow the carefulness of half an hour on the fate and fortune of his own imperishable soul-that he who can regale his imagination with the perspective of thriving descendants, whom the wealth that he now accumulates is to grace and to ennoble, should never turn his eye to that grave in which his own body will then be mouldering, or to that land of condemnation in which his own desolate spirit will then wander in the nakedness of its unatoned guilt, and of its unchanged and unrenewed earthliness that he who, in bequeathing to posterity, can stretch his inind forward to the time when his own name shall be forgotten, and the tomb-stone that covers him shall have gathered upon it the mould of its distant antiquity,--that he who can thus devise and make disposition of his earthly treasure for centuries to come, should be so shut and fastened in all his sensibilities to a treasure in heaven, and an inheritance that fadeth not away. It is this busy excitement of his about the futurities of earth which brings out, by contrast, to more striking and surprising manifestation, the utter lethargy of his soul about
may not find faith
those futurities of an everlasting condition that are so sure to overtake him.
It is this which gives its most conclusive demonstration of Nature's apathy, and Nature's blindness, and prepares us for the announcement, that when the Son of man cometh he
the earth. But let us pass onward to a class of somewhat different aspect from that of the palpably regardless ; who have been so far mindful of religion as to put on its decencies, and at least its public devotions; who fill their Sabbath pew on every recurring occasion, with the members of a well-trained and well-mustered family, of whom we will grant that their presentation at church is just a thing as regular and sure as the tolling of the bell that summons them; who are ever in their places at the periodic celebration of our great Christian festival; and who, even in addition to their Sabbath and their sacramental observances, have such a style of worship and of exercise at home as is in perfect keeping with their more ostensible proprieties. One would imagine of such quiet, and orderly, and church-going men, that truly they are walking with a pilgrim step to another and a happier land ; that it was not the happiness of the present, but the hope of the future which concerned them; that instead of being taken up with the fleeting interests of sense, they were indeed taken up with those distant and unseen things, by the power of which it is that we estimate their condition as believers; that so many goodly symptoms, in the way of form, and ordinance, and manifold compliance with the established usages of Christianity, argued them to be indeed of the faith -and, at all events, that, in respect of moral and
spiritual characteristics, they are of a species altogether distinct from those infidels who disown the Gospel, or those ungodly who despise it.
And yet it is most true, that all this seeming sanctity may consist with an entire and unbroken habit of worldliness; that all this clock-work religion may stand as little connected with the aspirings of a mind that is heavenly, as do the routine evolutions of any piece of mechanism; that the keeping of all the Sabbath punctualities, may argue no more a heart set on the things that are above, than would the putting on of our Sabbath vestments; and the church, and the sacrament, and the family exercises, taking their respective places in the round of many a sober citizen, along with his busy shop, and his comfortable meals, and his parties of agreeable fellowship, may, one and all of them, be only so many varieties of earthliness. It is really so very possible to have gotten, whether by inheritance or by accident, into a habit of unvaried regularity, and to have a kind of conscience about it too, and to feel a violence done to our religious sensibilities, whenever it is broken in upon, and to have persevered so long in a certain style of observation, that a positive discomfort is suffered, should any inroad be made upon it—it is so possible, that all this may meet, and be at one, with the downward tendencies of a heart which is altogether of the earth, and earthly. It does not follow, that because a man of forms, he is therefore a man of faith. There may be much without him that bears upon it the aspect of religiousness, while there is nought within him of " the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." He differs, it is true, from the
Sabbath breaker, and the profane absentee from all our ordinances; but the difference may be altogether complexional. To superinduce the ordinances of the Gospel on a man's history, is one thing; that they should spring from a spontaneous affection for the Gospel in a man's heart, is another. The example of parents may have superinduced them; or the force of natural habit may have done it; or a taste for the decencies of family regulation may have done it, and thus it often holds practically true, that the punctuality of his Sabbath worship may no more argue him a disciple or an expectant of immortality, than does the punctuality of his morning walk. And, accordingly, we fear it to be true of many such, that, with all their external tribute at the altar of piety, there is nought of the living spirit of piety in their bosoms—that they stand as firmly rivetted to the dust of our perishable world, as do the most profane and profligate of their fellows-that their hearts are just as much with the interests of a passing scene, and in every way as naked of all influence from the things of eternity. So that were you to follow many a pains-taking and assiduous formalist, throughout the line of his week-day movements, you would say of him, too, that the world was his home, and heaven but the vision or the entertainment of his fancy--that nought, either of substance or of evidence, stood associated with his thoughts of futurity on the other side of death-that, wanting this, he wanted all that could really signalize him from earthly men, as a traveller towards Zion—that all which could be alleged of his observations or his prayers, only proved him to wear the livery of the faithful,