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for which, though future, we have such security given us as can never fail.
As for the spiritual nature of those rewards we are promised, and of which we have so imperfect an idea and inadequate conception, as being so different from what we have hitherto been acquainted with, this is so far from an objection against them, that it is their greatest commendation. For, alas ! how little would they be worth, if they were like what we meet with here! What we have as yet experienced of happiness does by no means deserve that name, and is, at best, (as Solomon assures us, who very well knew what he said,) but vanity and vexation of spirit; flitting and momentary, imperfect and unsatisfying: but the happiness we hope for is complete and full, unmixed and everlasting: The things that are seen are temporal, says the apostle, but the things that are not seen are eternal. .
And as for the necessity of our dying before we can enjoy them, that can be no objection neither; because it is appointed for us all to die however, whether we partake of these rewards or no: and therefore, since we are sure we must one day die, and if not happy be for ever miserable, what a mighty motive and encouragement should it be to us always to abound in the work of the Lord, being so well assured that our labour shall not be in vain, but receive so glorious a recompense of reward!
I shall now briefly infer something from what hath been said, and conclude.
And first, from the Christian religion's being,
we observed, the perfection of the law of nature, as to the moral part of it, I infer the great weakness of the usual plea for vice, that it is a thing natural to us, and therefore not to be avoided. For, though it may seem to be natural to our corrupt, depraved natures, yet from the beginning it was not so; and virtue is indeed the most agreeable thing in nature, to a rational creature, because it is so perfectly reasonable as it is.
It is as bad an argument for vice, to say it is natural to us, because it best pleases our debauched, infected palates, as it is for a sick man, whose taste is spoiled by his disease, to prove that filth and trash is the most natural and wholesome food, because he can relish nothing like it. And as the best advice to such a one would be, that by proper methods he would rectify his appetite, and deny himself what would gratify and increase his sickly, unsound habit of body; so those whose spiritual appetite is vitiated by sin, should seriously endeavour to check and deny their corrupt inclinations, and observe the wholesome prescriptions of the great Physician of souls, Christ Jesus; and then they will soon perceive their error, and religion will grow inexpressibly sweet and grateful to their rectified palates, and sin the most distasteful thing in the world ; as being in itself the most unnatural and unreasonable, and, in its effects, the most destructive to a man's whole self, soul and body, in this world and that which is to
In the next place, from what has been said of the real easiness of religion, upon the several accounts before mentioned, I infer, how mightily mistaken wicked men are in expecting more ease from a course of sin than from a life of virtue. In virtue there is an inward satisfaction of mind which is unspeakable, and many and great outward blessings attend the sincere practice of it, and God himself assists us in it, and eternal life is the reward of it at last; but as for vice, it is an act of violence and force upon the soul, and constant reluctances and misgivings of heart go before it and attend it, and intolerable gripes of conscience immediately and closely follow it, and the final consequences of it are all the miseries that a man is capable of suffering, both now and to all eternity. Great unhappinesses naturally spring from it here at present, such as poverty and diseases, public punishments, loss of reputation, innumerable fears and disquietudes, and ten thousand other miseries which roll thick upon one another, and torment the wretched creatures before their time: and when this unhappy life is ended, then follows the vengeance of eternal fire with the Devil and his angels.
All this is so evident, that he must be blind indeed that does not see it; every day's experience demonstrates the miserable condition of obstinate, irreclaimable sinners, even in this world; and the word of God assures us, over and over, in as plain and express terms as are possible, that it shall be infinitely worse with them hereafter, for endless ages, in hell. And I am very confident that it is a much more uneasy, laborious, and vexatious thing for a man to sink himself into this extremity of misery; than by insisting, in the way Christianity has taught us, to attain everlasting salvation.
Let us therefore seriously consider what has been said upon this argument; and the good Lord incline our hearts to follow the things that make for our eternal peace and happiness before they be hid from our eyes! Amen, blessed Jesus, Amen. SERMON XI.
OF CHRISTIAN MOURNING.
Matt. y. 4.
Blessed are they that mourn : for they shall be comforted. IT is the observation of the wise royal preacher, that to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavena : and, amongst other things which he mentions, he says, there is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance: whereby he intimates, that mirth and jollity should not, even in the days of our youth and health and prosperity, so engross our time, but that weeping and mourning should sometimes be our employment. And therefore, in the 11th of Ecclesiastes, ver. 8, he says, If a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. And in the verse after, Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth;—but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment: that is, sad and serious thoughts, and mournful reflections, such as become the state of sinful man, placed in an evil and a miserable world, where all things are flitting and uncertain, and liable, on the
a Eccles. iii. I.
b Ver. 4.