Obrazy na stronie

interrupted; and that the feelings in the mind of a bad man shall be habitually sad and miserable, though that sadness and misery may be occasionally suspended. He has decreed, that the mind of the good shall be filled with hope and joy, and the mind of the bad with fear and sorrow. This distinction, which it has pleased God to decree shall always exist between those who serve him, and those who serve him not, is a distinction worthy of God to make; a reward great enough for the best man to receive; a punishment sufficiently severe for the worst man to suffer. In the arbitrament and distinction of human happiness, the true criterion is not whether a man is rich or poor, learned or ignorant, for these at best are only the means of happiness ; but whether he possesses a happy, cheerful heart, this being its end and essence.

Therefore the man who enjoys a heart beaming with duty, resignation, and thankfulness to God, and good-will to man; with content, and that peace which the world cannot give; alone enjoys true and genuine happiness in this life; a happiness which God has declared by his prophet Isaiah the wicked shall not, canpot enjoy: “There is no peace, saith my


« God, to the wicked: but the wicked are “ like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, 6. whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”

The Scriptures indeed are full of denunciations against the wicked: “The wicked “ man travelleth with pain all his days; “ trouble and anguish shall prevail against “ him; terrors shall make him afraid on

every side, and he is in great fear where

no fear is. He shall find no ease or rest; for “ the Lord shall give him a trembling heart, “ and' failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind; “ and his life shall hang in doubt before him ; “ and he shall fear day and night, and shall “ have none assurance of his life. In the “ morning he shall say, Would God it were “ even ; and at even he shall say, Would “ God. it were morning: for fear of his “ heart wherewith he shal} fear. His life “shall be grievous unto him. The wicked

are reserved to the day of destruction. “ They shall be brought forth to the day of « wrath. They shall be turned into hell, 6 where their worm dieth not, and the fire “ is not quenched : but the wrath of God “ abideth on them,” &c. &c. &c.

The Heathens likewise describe the miserable and forlorn condition of the wicked,

from their consciences being devoid of hope.' In the first book of Plato's Republic is the following passage :

“ He “ whose conscience does not reproach him, “ has cheerful hope for his companion." The same idea is carried farther by Pindar ; for this great poet says, that he who leads a just and holy life, has always amiable hope for his companion; which fills his heart with joy, and is the support

and comfort of his old age: hope, the most powerful of the divinities in governing the ever-changing and inconstant temper of mórtal men. And Euripides, in his Hercules Furens, likewise observes as follows: “ He is the good man, in whose breast hope

springs eternally: but to be in the world “ without hope is the portion of the wicked.” But there is an observation much stronger than these in the 17th chapter of the Wisdom of Solomon, purporting not only the exclusion of hope, but presaging the constant apprehension of evil : “For wicked“ ness condemned by her own witness is

very timorous; and being pressed 'with “ conscience, always forecasteth grievous things." In the same decided manner as the Scrip


tures and the Book of Wisdom denounce temporal and eternal misery to the wicked, do they promise happiness, both in this life and that which is to come, to the righteous. « Thou, O God, wilt keep him in perfect peace,

whose mind is stayed on thee. “ Thou wilt bless him indeed, and keep him “ from evil. The work of righteousness shall “ be peace, and the effect of righteousness « quietness and assurance for ever. Whe“ ther a man be rich or poor, if he have a “ good heart towards the Lord, he shall at “ all times rejoice with a cheerful coun"tenance. Look at the generations of old, " and see, did ever any trust in the Lord * and was confounded? or did any abide in “ his fear and was forsaken? or whom did " he ever despise that called upon him? “ When a man's ways please the Lord, he “ maketh his enemies to be at peace with “ him.

Commit thy way unto the Lord ; put also thy trust in him, and he shall “ bring it to pass. Delight thou in the Lord, “ and he shall give thee thy heart's desire. 66 Your labour shall not be in vain in the 66 Lord.

His mercy is on them that fear “ him throughout all generations. And all 6 things shall work together for good 'to

" them that love God. A good man shall « be satisfied from himself; for his rejoicing “ is this, the testimony of his conscience. « The spirits of just men shall be made per“ fect; and they shall see God, and shall be “ ever with the Lord : their inheritance shall 6 be for ever, and they shall receive a crown • of glory, that fadeth not away. Eye hath “ not seen, nor ear heard, neither have en“tered into the heart of man, the things 66 which God hath prepared for them that love him," &c. &c. &c.

In this distinction, in this important distinction, between the feelings of the minds of the good and bad, and not in what are called the good things of life, consists, bèyond all doubt or question, the essential happiness or misery of every human being : for the mind is the man; and that it is so, is a conclusion which has been ever inculcated by the wisest men. In Plato's Phædon it is mentioned, that a little while before Socrates drank the poison he was adjudged to do, Crito asked him, how he would be buried ? To which, with a smile, he replied, that Crito confounded him, i. e. his mind or soul, with his

corpse ; desiring his friends to undeceive Crito in this particular, that he might not

« PoprzedniaDalej »