« EelmineJätka »
eternity; to remember how sad and deplorable our everlasting state will be, if we make no provision for it; and how infinitely the unfading happiness of heaven exceeds the fleeting vapours of joy which this life affords.
These things in a lively manner represented to our minds, will by degrees so captivate our wills and affections, that we should learn to look upon future happiness in earnest as our greatest good, and future misery as our greatest evil. And when this is the case, we shall not be far from the kingdom of God. For the belief of future judgments, when seriously attended to, will soon awaken our consciences, stifle the seeds of wickedness, overcome the power of temptation, and enable us to bring forth fruit unto eternal life.
But the misfortune is, there are a thousand concurring circunstances which occupy the attention of mankind, and withdraw their thoughts from futurity. Some, I hope many, believe the certainty of a future judgment; but they are so engaged with the cares and riches of this world, that they are not at leisure to attend to the concerns of a better. Others are willing to enjoy a state of future happiness, but they think it time enouga yet: they would enjoy life as long as
they can, and therefore defer the cares of eternity to a more convenient season.
Others acknowledge their belief of a state of eternal happiness, but they are not satisfied with the means of obtaining it: they think that there is a nearer and more compendious way to salvation, and therefore, despising the plain road of sense and Christianity, strike out into the crooked windings of imagination and novelty.' Others chearfully begin the journey of virtue, but have not resolution to pursue it to the end : they meet with some little difficulties and discouragements in the way; the prize they have in view is distant: their courage therefore fails them, and they fall back into the snares of sin. A few there are, I hope, among us, and may God encrease their number, who relying upon the
promises of God, and preferring them before all present enjoyments and possessions, chearfully look forwards to eternity: and, though they meet with 'rubs and difficulties, yet are not discouraged, but go on in the good way of faith and holiness.
, To these I shall, therefore, in the third place, address myself in a few words. And much it is not I need to say. It may all be contained in that noble advice of the Apostle, “ to hold fast “ the profession of their faith without wavering.”
This will teach them what to do, without the help of an instructor; it will force them to do well, without a guide or monitor. It will fortify their minds against all temptations from the world and its bewitching enjoyments ; it will set them above its smiles or frowns. For how can he, whose thoughts are fixed upon thrones, and kingdoms, and immortal glory, be diverted by the gay toys or glittering baubles of the world ? All it can offer is too little to tempt the sincere Christian. When his soul is transported by faith beyond the stars ; when it soars to those happy regions where his God and his Saviour dwells, how mean and contemptible, how vile and sordid, do all things here below appear! When the whole earth itself appears but as a point to him when he looks down upon it; how little will he covet that small portion of it which any one, mån can enjoy ? His faith, therefore, will teach him to keep his eye fixed beyond the present scene of things : he will behold the world dissolved, and all the pomp of it vanish- . ing:' the curtain of mortality being drawn aside, there will appear to him new heavens and a new earth, wherein are honours and pleasures of a more durable substance than those which now usurp the name. His faith, therefore, will inspire him with new courage and activity, and. will teach him to count all things but loss for · VOL. III. . F
the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Even life itself will not be dear to him, if he may but win Christ, and be able through his merits, to finish his course with joy.
The time would fail me to set before you the noble trophies and victories which faith has achieved. You' inay find many of them recorded in the epistle to the Hebrews; where the Apostle, for the encouragement of all true believers, sets before us the illustrious examples of the Patriarchs and Prophets of old, who through faith subdued kingdoms; wrought righteousness, out of weakness were made strong, were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection; had trial of eruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were slain with the sword, wandered about in sheep-skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented
These were the exploits of the saints and ser vants of God under the Old Testament, who had not so clear a revelation of a future reward as we have under the Gospel. But far greater yet, and more stupendous, are the triumphs of faith in the holy lives and patient sufferings of the primitive martyrs and confessors of Chris
tianity, who with invincible constancy endured pains and torments to flesh and blood insupportable, assisted and upheld by the grace of God, and a lively faith in the promises of his Son. They clapped their hands and sang praises in the midst of scorching flames ; they took patiently the spoiling of their goods, and even rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus; knowing that their afflictions, which were but for a moment, would work out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory in the heavens.
Let us then go on in the imitation of their exalted virtue. Let it be seen by our words and by our works, by all we do, and wherever we are, what our faith and hope is. Let it appear to all men that we walk by faith, and not by sight; that we look beyond things temporal; to those that are eternal.
And whatever others may think or say of us, let us not be ashamed of our design. Let our actions convince them, that it is our wish, not to be happy for a few days or years, but for ever: that we are therefore resolved so to use the world as men that must shortly leave it; so to husband our days, as knowing that time will