« PoprzedniaDalej »
being, therefore, that we are to look for the event mentioned in this scripture.
But, perhaps, the advocate for the immediate happiness of all men will say, that the end of the world spoken of means the end of the Jewish state, and the event had its accomplishment at the destruction of Jerusalem. I reply, this is in direct opposition to his own interpretation. He insists that the passage applies to doctrines, and of course the harvest is not past, for truth and error are still growing together. Again; according to the objector's views, there is no particular time for the harvest; the harvest is at every moment of a man's life, and consequently the clause, "let both grow together till the harvest," is totally destitute of meaning. According to the objector's notion, there could be no special judgment at the destruction of Jerusalem. He maintains, that men are punished step by step for their sins, so that if they go out of the world at any moment, they will have received all they deserve, Now it is perfectly idle to talk of a special judgment, unless he will admit that God punishes vindictively. It would certainly appear childish for a person to specify a particular time, when the blood would circulate through the veins of every living man, for this is what takes place constantly. As this is the uninterrupted course of nature, it would be absurd to mention any particular period when this would take place; and equally absurd is it to speak of any period of judgment, if men are rewarded for all their conduct as they pass along. The parable, on which I have been remarking, does not give the least countenance to endless misery, It simply says, the wicked will be punished for their sins. These brief remarks, it is hoped, may lead to a right understanding of the subject,
From the Christian Telescope.
"There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."Psalms lvii. 21.
It has been erroneously supposed by some, that the happiness of the wicked, in the present life, far exceeds the happiness of the righteous, and were it not for the "retributions of eternity," there would be no incentive to virtue on the one hand, nor dissuasion from vice on the other. If we are not to be rewarded for living a virtuous life in a future world, say they, why travel the hard and laborious path of a christian? Why forsake all the pleasures of sin? Why sacrifice the delights of the wicked? Why not rather travel the primrose paths of dalliance ?
Notwithstanding in some instances, the wicked may appear to be happy, (we are now speaking of those, who, to use a common phrase, give full latitude to their propensities,) yet they are not really so: they find in the indulgence a mortal poison, which diffuseth itself into every period of their existence. But, in most cases, they do not appear to be happy; for one moment contemplate the wretch who lives by rapine and blood. See him, as it were, exiled from society. Once he was regarded by the honored father with excessive fondness; once the idol of the mother; an ornament to society; the pride of the village: Once was he happy in the bosom of his friends, surrounded with plenty, beloved and admired by all who knew him; but now, alas! his joys are fled. Abandoned by his friends, neglected and despised, a fugitive and vagabond in the earth, he travels not in the cheering light of Sol's bright rays, but beneath the gloom and damps of midnight darkness, lest the hand of justice should compel him to answer to the injured laws of his country. Can you imagine that he is happy? Can you believe, with this spectacle before
you, that there is more happiness in sin, than there is in virtue? No. While the poor wretch for a moment reflects upon his situation, the utmost terror and alarm falls down upon his guilty soul. Though he may elude the vigilance of public justice, yet there is something within, proclaiming, in a voice louder than seven-fold peals of thunder, "There is no peace to the wicked." Again,
Contemplate the man, who has so far departed from that high dignity of character, which he ought to have supported, as to descend to the degrading practice of stealing; an object of contumely and disgust to every honest person. No one will confide in him as a faithful confidant; he has forfeited his reputation; his honor is gone; his friends despise him, and have forsaken him ; no one will trust him; no one that knows him, will even shelter him a single night from the northern blast, or the rude storm and tempest. Dejection and melancholy prey upon his guilty soul. There sits the companion of his bosom, once cheerful and happy, but now weeping in silent anguish, faint hearted, worn out with misery and want, encircled by a group of half-clad children, crying for a morsel of bread to satisfy the gnawings of pale hunger. Can you believe that he could look upon such misery, the legitimate offspring of his own folly and wickedness, and not be miserable ? No. Every glance at their destitute situation would be accompanied with a pang. Every petition for those comforts, he had by a vicious course of conduct deprived them of, would pierce his soul through with many sorrows. Each reflection would be attended with indescribable anguish. Admitting that he be not detested, nor even suspected; that he passes in the world for an honest man, is surrounded with plenty; yet is he happy? No! there is a conscience within like a gnawing worm
and a perpetual fire-a voice incessantly proclaims to his mind "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Can you look at this picture, kind reader, and believe that the happiness of the wicked, in the present life, exceeds the happiness of the righteous? No. Again, i
Contemplate the man who carelessly injures his neighbor's good name. Says the inimitable Shakespear,
"Who steals my purse, steals trash,
'Tis something, nothing-'twas mine, 'tis his,
But he who filches from me my good name,
There is nothing which men are more unwilling to part with, than their good name, and which they wish to have live unspotted when they shall be no more. Nothing excites their indignation to a greater degree, fixes an aversion more strongly, than slander; hence clamor, tumult, suspicion, fear, danger and trouble, must fall to the share of him who wilfully injures his brother's reputation. Surely there is no peace to the wicked. Again-Go to our prisons and dungeons, and view the wretched culprits. See them loaded with chains; their face secure; nor is this the worst; no, they have stampt upon their character an odium, which time cannot efface; more indelible than engraving upon brass or marble. Their reputation gone forever; that inestimable treasure, which is dearer than life, which we wish to have live, when our image shall have faded from the memory of our surviving relatives; yea, live when the sculptured marble, erected to our memories, shall have crumbled into dust: yes, this treasure is no more. Has honesty, has virtue, has
righteousness, has prudence, brought them to this? No, And can you look upon these, and believe that sin is productive of happiness? And can you be made to believe that was it not for an hereafter, it would be by far more pleasant to live in sin, than it would to live a life of virtue and holiness? No. Again-Reflect upon the practice of inebriation, with all its bitter consequences. It is a rack upon which thousands have been wrecked-a precipice from which thousands have been hurled to wrechedness. It is that which benumbs the moral, as well as the natural faculties of man-utfits him for rational intercourse-disqualifies him for attending to the important duties of life, and reduces him to indigence and want. It has palsied the most aspiring genius; blasted the reputation and cast a gloom over the prospects of many; faded the most fair and lovely form, and deprived man of that happiness which it is privilege to enjoy. The inebriating cup is the bane of God's creation!
How great must be the infatuation, before we can persuade ourselves we can be happy in sin. Who taught us this doctrine? Tradition. Neither scripture nor experience taught it, for they both teach the reverse. Reader, I will appeal to your own experience; what crime can you commit, without suffering a corresponding punishment? What law of honor, of virtue, of your country, of your God, can you violate, without feeling secretly condemned? None. The midnight pillow bedewed with tears, the soft zephyrs that gently wafted to the ear of heaven, the repentant sigh, will bear their united testimony to the fact, that you cannot sin with impunity, that you cannot sin, and be happy.