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about to celebrate. To partake once more of that Sacrament, which our Saviour himself hath instituted, as a perpetual memorial of his death; and to renew to him our grateful sense of that his inestimable sacrifice. So shall we best express our conviction that his first advent was indeed nothing less than the completion of that astonishing series of predictions, which, for four thousand years, prepared the world for that awful display of Divine power. So shall we afford some proof that the Gospel of Christ has not been preached in vain to us, but has kindled in our hearts some warm affection for its gracious Author. So, finally, shall we impress upon our minds that salutary fear of a judgment to come, which will produce in us sincere repentance of our past sins, firm resolutions of a future amendment,—and, above all, that genuine and practical piety, in which alone consists that holiness, without which, we are assured, that none shall see the Lord.
HEBREWS ix. 27, 28.
As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
HAVING in my last Discourse endeavoured to draw your attention to some of the principal points which the Scriptures disclose to us, respecting the first advent of our blessed Lord, I am now to enter into the consideration of what they teach us with regard to his second coming, to pronounce final judgment upon the whole race of mankind. These two stupendous events are so inseparably connected, that if the history of the one be true, the other must necessarily be true also. If Christ were really what he claimed to be, the Messiah, the Son of God,-his promise to come again, to fix the eternal fate of every
individual, will infallibly be accomplished. Awful and almost oppressive to our faculties as it is to dwell upon this, the sublimest of all the mysteries of revelation, the contrary supposition, that no such event will ever take place, is, perhaps, still more difficult to be admitted by our understandings. That our being should utterly terminate with this world, is totally irreconcilable with every just notion which we can form of human affairsor of the essential attributes of God. They both require a future state of retribution to make them intelligible to our minds. That the wickedness and misery which every where abound in this world should remain for ever unredressed, is contrary to every thing which either reason or revelation teaches us, with respect to the Almighty. When I speak of the misery which is so prevalent in the earth, I am not alluding to the great and palpable inequality in the conditions of men in this life: were that all, I do not think it would afford much argument for the expectation of another; nor is that the ground upon which the Gospel authorizes us to expect it. In considering human existence with reference to its great Author, the question is not
under what external circumstances it is passed, but what it is in itself, whether it be happy or otherwise. Now the Almighty has evidently limited happiness to no condition of life. It is attainable, and is frequently attained, as effectually in one rank of society as in another. They who are in the lowest may, and do, often possess it, the highest can do do more. It is true that it is liable always to many and grievous interruptions--but these operate equally, though by ways the most diversified, upon all descriptions of persons; none are exempt from them. The means of happiness are indeed as various, as the various conditions of mankind: but the end is the same. And provided that be obtained, none would have a right, and few persons would have the disposition to complain, were their present existence all that the Almighty had designed for them. But such is the condition of humanity, that there are few indeed, in whatever situation they may be placed, who are not visited by some of the numerous and serious calamities to which it is exposed. We can form even in this world clear conceptions of a degree of felicity which seems perpetually courting, and as constantly eluding our
grasp. And this, surely, is of itself no slight indication, that happiness of a higher and more permanent nature than any which we at present enjoy, is reserved for us hereafter.
But still, upon this ground only we could build our hopes of a future life with little confidence. If God has so constituted us, that happiness, so far as it depends upon the faculties which he has given us to obtain it, is very equally and very liberally distributed; and that life, upon the whole, is more desirable than non-existence, (which will not, I apprehend, be disputed)—we could have no possible pretence to complain of the lot which he had cast for us, were the whole of it that being of which we are now in possession. But this is but a small part of what he has done for us: He has not only made us to be sensible of happiness or the want of it—but he has also made us rational creatures, with an absolute liberty of action; and, therefore, strictly and properly accountable for our conduct. And in this state, our virtues or our vices not only affect very materially the question of our present happiness or misery, but lay a foundation of great solidity, for the expectation of another state of existence after