Obrazy na stronie

tions of its empire in the pride of the human heart, rules over the lives and destinies of men with despotic sway. It exhibits an hundred shapes, and has an almost endless multiplicity of operations, but is at bottom the same principle of corrupt and selfish pride. ' In one it is the pride of opinion, in another the pride of learning, in another the pride of wealth, in another the pride of stations, in another the pride of fashion, and in another the pride of personal accomplishment, which seduce their affections away from Him, who is chiefest among ten thousand. Their hearts are as truly devoted to the service of another, distinct and separate from the God of Heaven, as if the invisible idol which they worship were wrought into one great collossal statue, whose head should reach the heavens, and he should stand one foot upon the earth, and the other upon the sea, and call upon all nations to bow down and do him homage. Among this crowd of worshippers, we will single out as the subject of our last illustration,

Fourth. The man who has enthroned his own intellect in the place of God. We have already defined idolatry to be the substitution of some other principle for obedience to the Supreme Lawgiver. And I apprehend the whole extent of the definition may be realized in the case of him who follows the devices of his own heart, the deductions of bis own reason, or the lifting up of his own imagination, as well as of him who has made gold his hope, and said, to the fine gold, thou art my confidence." There are those who have set themselves down to the acquisition of knowledge precisely as the covetous man to heaping up treasures, and labored as earnestly at the post of their ardent and unremitting exertions; who have contemplated their increasing stock of literature, with the eye of selfcomplacency, which the other casts upon his glittering hoards ; and have allowed their intellectual gains and their growing reputation to separate just as effectually between them and God, as do the treasures of the most hardened votary of Mammon. Although there seems but little danger at present of this form of idolatry becoming universal, from the general reluctance of our species to cultivate their intellectual powers, still, wherever its dominion is once established over the human mind, so deeply are its foundations laid in the nature of man; so consonant is the exertion of

Vou, II.-2


A Sermon




Job vii. 16%" I would not lide alway."

There are few stronger principles in the human breast than the love of life. The desire of selfpreservation is instinctive, and operates long before reason dawns, or experience attaches us to the pleasures of existence. As it precedes the exercise of natural affections, so it is sometimes found to overcome and outlive the kind and social feelings of the soul. How strong and lasting in its nature, and how tender and constant in its exercise, is maternal affection ? Time or distance will not weaken it, nor the ingratitude or misconduct of its beloved object destroy its attachment; and yet it can be extinguished by the stronger instinct, the desire of selfpreservation. It would be incredible, were it not a recorded truth of history, that a famishing mother would appease her hun. ger with the flesh of her own children. The melancholy record proves that of all natural principles none is more powerful than the innate love of life.

Nor are men attached to life merely by the principle of instinct, "I could willingly die,” said an expiring Christian, “were there not friends, to whom it is hard to say farewell.Life is made pleasant, and attachment to it is strengthened, by friendship and the social relations. Confirmed habits of honorable and useful employment, the prospect of doing good, and the apparent and real dependence of others upon them, may make men loth to die.

And then our fears have exhibited death with terrific aspect, and surrounded it with horrid drapery. The coffin, the shroud, the darkness and dampness, the silence and coldness of the grave, the worm and the corruption, and the untried and eternal state into which death introduces the soul, are circumstances calculated to make the stoutest heart recoil, and cling with closest grasp upon its hold of life. But these attachments and apprehensions are incident to our frailty. Through the grace of God, they may be overcome and renounced.

The believer in Christ can say I would not live alway.

There is the greatest wisdom in this choice, since should be live alway, THE EVILS OF THE PRESENT LIFE COULD BE PROLONGED AND PERPETUATED; AND


I WOULD NOT LIVE ALWAY, can the Christian say, to endure forever the evils of life. I would not live alway, exposed to the evils incident to this mortal body-under the continual infliction of God's original curse upon man, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread :" or perpetually exposed to the ravages of the “pestilence that walketh in darkness," and to the violence of the “ sickness that wasteth at noonday :"—to be forever a partaker of that nature whose beauty is a “fading flower,”—whose s strength” is “ labor and sorrow,"--whose eyes fail through dimness, and whose ears grow dull of hearing, and whose head totters with infirmity, and whitens with the frosts of age,—whose limbs are scorched with fever, and racked with pain, and then chilled with ague, and shaken with anguish,--to be frozen by the severity of winter and burn by the fervor of summer,- to inhale sickness from the wind, and disease from the tempest,—to be forever the child of misfortune, and the victim of adversity.

I WOULD NOT LIVE ALWAY, the subject of mental infirmity, What ignorance beclouds the mind of wretched man! How much carefulness and painstaking must be expended, before he can be taught things the most necessary to be known ! How much dullness must be quickened, and obstinacy overcome, and disinclination removed, before be can be successfully instructed! And provided disposition and industry keep pace with opportunity and duty, what is the perfection of his knowledge but the discovery of his ignorance? After his most careful investigations, and his profoundest researches, Forgetfulness, with a besom of destruction, soon sweeps o'er memory's tablet, and obliterates his choicest lessons of wisdom. His most highly cultivated faculties sink into imbecility, and his mind into the dotage of age. How often is his judgment, even in its most vigorous exercise, erring and imperfect! Frequent are his mistakes, and erroneous his conclusions, even in affairs of the utmost importance, and which intimately concern his own welfare.

Imperfect man errs, even when the error produces his ruin ; and mistakes, even when the mistake is the sacrifice of his happiness.

I would NOT LIVE ALWAY, in the midst of a selfish and malignant world,—where my conduct is misrepresented, my motives misunderstood, my character assailed, and my best interests injured and obstructed, -where Envy displays her malignant features, and Detraction employs her envenomed tongue to destroy my reputation,—where Jealousy invents, and Malice contrives, their cruel purposes to disturb my peace.

I WOULD NOT LIVE ALWAY, the witness, as well as the subject of human miseries. It is painful to the benevolent heart to witness the misfortunes and follies of men. It is painful to see infancy and innocence suffering pain and sickness—to see them cut off just as life begins to open, and deposited in the cold sepulchre. It is painful to see youth and loveliness, gradually sinking under the dominion of disease ; to see the bright eyes grow dim, and the cheeks of health become pale. It is painful to “discern, among the youth, a young man void of understanding," wasting his patrimony in extravagance and dissipation; degrading the noble faculties of body and mind, with which God has endowed him; and descending prematurely down to the grave, and to the shades of eternal death, the victim of accursed intemperance. It is painful to witness the ravings of lunacy, and the frenzy of the maniac; to see the mind, the noblest work of God, in ruins; its intricate and mysterious mechanism disordered, and its harmony and balance destroyed. It is painful to see the impenitent and prayerless sinner, careless of his rebellion, and thoughtless of his danger, sporting with the menaces of Jehovah, and mocking at the threatenings of the Almighty, and yet to know that between him and eternal burnings there only intervenes,- what is liable to be sundered at any moment,--the thin fragile veil of flesh.

Well may the Christian, the witness of such spectacles, and himself the servant of unholy passions, declare, I WOULD NOT LIVE

When his faith is firm, doubts and obscurities will sometimes arise and weaken it. When his hopes are bright, sin


and impenitence will obscure and darken them. When his love to God and men is fervent, unholy feelings will spring up, and dampen and allay it. When the Sun of Righteousness shines upon him, his iniquities will often arise like a thick cloud, envelope him in spiritual darkness, and leave him in mental misery.

I WOULD NOT LIVE ALWAY, exposed to temptations and enticements to sin. The alluring example of men whom, for some good qualities, the Christian has been taught to respect, will offer its persuasions to divert him from the path of life. He will be in danger of being corrupted from “the simplicity in CHRIST," by pernicious doctrines, bearing the semblance of truth, and recommended by all that can give weight to human authority, or respectability to human character. Learning, and intelligence, and wit, and persuasion, will be employed by those, who in appearance are angels of light, to weaken his allegiance to his crucified Master.

Himself the subject and witness of misery and sin, the Christian will say, I would NOT LIVE ALWAY, especially since God has otherwise determined. His daily prayer will be, “ My Father, who art in Heaven, thy will be done;" and acquiescence in the will of God, will constitute the perfection of his religious character. He will therefore desire to depart from this wretched life, knowing that God has prepared some better thing for him than its miseries; and that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the imagination of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

There is wisdom in the Christian's choice, for, should his life not terminate, HE WOULD NOT BE ADMITTED INTO THE JOYS OF HEAVEN.

His corruptible body would not then put on incorruption nor his mortal, immortality. Of the appearance of Christ's glorious body, in the likeness of wbich the bodies of all the faithful are to be hereafter fashioned, but a brief account is given in the sacred Scriptures ; sufficient, however, to convince us, since the future bodies of the saints are to be like that of Christ, that our most vivid and exalted conceptions of this world's splendor, fall infinitely short of the glory which shall be revealed in them. What earthly grandeur and majesty ever equalled the transfiguration of

« PoprzedniaDalej »