« PoprzedniaDalej »
ty are brought to light in the gospel; yet not so displayed as to gratify the curiosity of the world with an astonishing spectacle ; but only so far made known, as to assist and support us in the practice of our duty. If the discovery were more imperfect, it would excite no desire of immortality ; if it were more full and striking, it would render us careless of life. On the first supposition, no sufficient motive to virtue would appear ; on the second, no proper trial of it would remain. In the one case, we should think and act like men who have their portion only in this world ; in the other case, like men who have no concern with this world at all. Whereas now, by the wise constitution of Heaven, we are placed in the most favourable situation for acting, with propriety, our allotted part here; and for rising, in due course, to higher honour and happiness hereafter.
Let us then second the kind intentions of Providence, and act upon the plan which it hath pointed out. Checking our inquisitive solicitude about what the Almighty hath concealed, let us diligently improve what he hath made known. Inhabitants of the earth, we are at the same time candidates for Heaven. Looking upon these as only different views of one consistent character, let us carry on our
proper to ob
preparation for Heaven, not by abstracting ourselves from the concerns of this world, but by fulfilling the duties and offices of
every station in life. Living soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world, let us look for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Before I conclude, it may
be serve, That the reasonings in this discourse give no ground to apprehend any danger of our being too much influenced by the belief of a future state. I have shown the hurtful effects which would follow from too bright and full a discovery of the glory of that state; and in showing this, I have justified the decree of Providence, which permits no such discovery. But as our nature is at present constituted, attached by so many strong connections to the world of sense, and enjoying a
, communication so feeble and distant with the world of spirits, we need fear no danger from cultivating intercourse with the latter as much as possible. On the contrary, from that intercourse the chief security of our virtue is to be sought. The bias of our nature leans so much towards sense, that from this side the peril is to be dreaded, and on this side the defence is to be provided.
Let us then walk by faith. Let us strengthen this principle of action to the utmost of our power. Let us implore the Divine grace, to strengthen it within us more and more: That we may thence derive an antidote against that subtle poison, which incessant commerce with the objects of sense diffuses through our souls;
that we may
thence acquire purity and dignity of manners suited to our divine hopes; and, undefiled by the pleasures of the world, unshaken by its terrors, may preserve to the end one constant tenor of integrity. Till at last, having, under the conduct of Christian faith, happily finished the period of discipline, we enter on that state, where a far nobler scene shall open; where eternal objects shall shine in their native splendour; where, this twilight of mortal life being past, the Sun of righteousness shall rise; and, that which is perfect being come, that which is in part shall be done away.
These were the words of our blessed Lord on a memorable occasion. The feast of the passover drew nigh, at which he knew that he was to suffer. The night was arrived wherein he was to be delivered into the hands of his enemies. He had spent the evening in conference with his disciples; like a dying father in the midst of his family, mingling consolation with his last instructions. When he had ended his discourse to them, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and, with the words which I have now read, began that solemn prayer of intercession for the church, which closed his ministry. Immediately after, he went forth with his disciples into the garden of Gethsemane, and surrendered himself to those who came to apprehend him.
Such was the situation of our Lord at the time of his pronouncing these words. He saw his mission on the point of being accomplished.
He had the prospect full before him, of all that he was about to suffer_Fan ther! the hour is come.- What hour? An hour the most critical, the most pregnant with great events, since hours had begun to be numbered, since time had begun to run. It was the hour in which the Son of God was to terminate the labours of his important life, by a death still more important and illustrious; the hour of atoning, by his sufferings, for the
, guilt of mankind ; the hour of accomplishing prophecies, types, and symbols, which had been carried on through a series of ages;
the hour of concluding the old, and of introducing to the world the new dispensation of religion; the hour of his triumphing over the world, and death, and hell; the hour of his erecting that spiritual kingdom which is to last for ever. Such is the hour, such are the