Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

seasons.

ease.

enjoyments of life. If you disobey these laws you suffer the penalty; and the natural consequence of your transgression will consist in a greater or less degree of pain and sickness, and an unfitness for participation in the various blessings of life. Suppose then your constitution is perfect, and you endeavor to render the required obedience. You eat the right kind of food, at proper times and in suitable quantities. You will drink wholesome liquids, in moderate portions and at appointed

You will take sufficient exercise, in various ways and at convenient hours. You will sleep no more nor less than nature requires. You will always regulate your dress according to the present temperature. You will avoid all improper exposure to heat or cold, to moisture or dryness, to impure air or contagious dis

You will shun every thing which can impart disease or give physical suffering. You will practise all things which were designed to increase your corporeal enjoyments, and preserve your animal functions in full vigor and strength. And what will be the natural consequence of this obedience to the laws of your constitution? Health, which is itself a source of happiness and a necessary qualification for enjoying the pleasures which arise from all other sources. This health then I pronounce the divine reward of your obedience.

Now suppose you should pay no particular regard to the laws of your phýsical being. You would eat unhealthy food, at improper times, and in quantities either too great or too small. You would drink injurious liquids, in excessive or scanty portions, and at periods the most irregular and dangerous. You would be unduly and unreasonably exposed to all the varieties of heat and cold, to moisture and dryness, and also to impure atmosphere and pestilential vapors. Your sleep

and exercise would be neither regular nor productive of beneficial results. In short you would disregard all the known and necessary laws of health. And what would be the consequence of this disobedience? More or less pain and disease and sickness. You would be unqualified in a greater or less degree for the performance of your incumbent duties, and for rational enjoyment. Perhaps death itself would come suddenly and perhaps you would linger many years in wretchedness. All this suffering and loss I consider to be the divine punishment of your transgression. Now I believe it is as much a part of religion to obey these laws of your physical nature, as any other of your Father's requisitions. You must be convinced from your own experience and observation that the penalties of disobedience are severe and almost certain to be inflicted. I imagine there is more suffering from this one source of sinfulness than from the transgression of many other commands. And it is not merely the body that experiences the sad consequences of the wickedness. The mind very frequently feels itself guilty; the man is conscious of having knowingly done wrong; he sensibly realizes that he has unfitted himself for the performance of his necessary duties, and his compunctions of conscience are most poignant. And must not this consequence extend to the next existence? Although physical suffering may cease with the dissolution of the body, yet I can see no reason why the soul, which in many cases has been the sinner, which has suffered severely even here for its transgressions, must not hereafter lament its disobedience of the divine laws. This surely would be nothing more nor less than the natural consequence of its disregard of the commands of heaven. And must not he who has so preserved his health as to make great advances in knowledge and goodness feel rewarded by, the 'con

sciousness of having done righteously and by the possession of high degrees of wisdom and holiness? Without pressing this question, I have said sufficient to illustrate one particular of temporal rewards and punishments.

In the second place, you were made to derive happiness from the proper gratification of your appetites. They are given you for this purpose in connexion with other important uses. You may secure this reward by observing rigidly the laws which your Creator has ordained for their regulation. Suppose then you should render perfect obedience. You would be temperate in the use of all nourishing food and drinks. You would abstain wholly from whatever is injurious or unhealthy. And what would be the natural consequence? You would possess a pure and delicate taste, and a keen and well regulated appetite. Your meals would afford you a high degree of pleasure. Their immediate and remote effects on your system would be pleasing and beneficial. Your animal nature would be nourished and invigorated. You would thus be qualified for intellectual and moral advancement. All this enjoyment and preparation for duty I pronounce the divine reward of

obedience. Now suppose you should disregard the laws of temperance. Suppose you should become an intemperate drinker of ardent spirits. You would experience much pain and sickness. Your health would be injured and your constitution undermined. Your temper would become fretful and your mental powers would be enervated. Your moral feelings, would be blunted and brutified, and your social affections wasted and destroyed. Your property would be dissipated, your family and friends disgraced, and your neighbors injured. You would be unfitted for the performance of your obligatory duties. You would not answer the design of your creation. Your enjoyments would be diminished and your misery increased in various ways. All this and much more would be the natural consequence of

your

intemperance. This suffering and degradation I consider the divine punishment for your disobedience. Now it is as much a part of duty to govern your appetites as to ob-serve any other of the divine laws. Intemperance in both eating and drinking, but particularly in eating, is a crying sin of our land. Thousands and tens of thousands of immortal beings are annually hastened to the grave by an excessive gratification of the appetites. And it is not the physical nature alone which suffers from this wickedness. By no means. Let a man become intoxicated by accident and the natural consequences of drunkenness on his body cannot be avoided. But let him knowingly indulge to excess a second time, and he is so constituted that he will experience the most severe compunctions of conscience. Almost every confirmed drunkard in moments of soberness suffers the most excruciating mental agony. And what can prevent these consequences from extending to the next existence ? It is the free soul which sins. And can the mind of man when in a sound state ever view intemperance with complacency? Can a person find satisfaction in meditating upon the injury which he inflicted upon himself, his friends and society? Can the recollection of a wasted and degraded life, of duties neglected and sins committed, afford comfort to a religious mind ? Surely not. Then how can the drunkard escape from himself, from a remembrance of his aggravated wickedness, from the horror and remorse of a guilty and self-condemned conscience ? On the contrary, must not the man who has qualified himself by strict' temperance for a christian life ever rejoice in his successful resistance to temptation, and in his mental and moral attainments. I see not how these natural consequences can possibly be avoided. I

your

have however said sufficient to illustrate another instance of temporal rewards and punishments.

In the third place, your mind was made to be educated. You may expand its powers almost indefinitely by discipline. You may acquire an unlimited degree of useful knowledge by industry and application. You may qualify yourself by education for the most exquisite intellectual enjoyment and the most distinguished usefulness. If then you obey the laws which regulate your mental operations you will find the greatest satisfaction in your obedience. The whole process of culture will be attended with a high degree of pleasure. Your increasing information will afford you great delight. And your ability to enjoy, and to communicate, and to benefit, will be the natural consequence of your application. This happiness and capacity for felicity, and mental and moral power, I call the divine reward of your obedience. Now suppose you should altogether disregard the laws'

mind. You would spend no time in reading or meditation. You would acquire very little valuable instruction. You would be unfitted for many of the important duties of life. You would live and die in ignorance. And what would be the natural consequence of this course of transgression? You would lose all the pleasures which arise from mental cultivation, from valuable information, from intellectual power. And you would suffer many inconveniences and vexations for want of more education. And if you had wilfully abused your privileges, and wasted your time, and neglected the cultivation of your talents, you would experience many hours of self-condemnation and wretchedness. All this suffering, incapacity and loss of the purest enjoyments, I should consider the divine punishment of your disobedience. Now it is as much a part of christian duty to obey the laws which relate to the improvement of the

of your

« AnteriorContinuar »