Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

'' cliarged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the "cares of this life, and so that day come upon you "unawares; for as a snare shall it come upon all them "that dwell upon the face of the whole earth.—Watch "ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be ac"counted worthy to escape all these things which "shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son oi "man."*

In this chapter the same improvement is made of another subject. A certain person, as it appears, unseasonably interrupting our Lord's discourse, requested him to " speak to his brother to divide the "inheritance with him:" Our blessed Saviour, however, declining this as foreign to his character and employment, thence takes occasion to caution his audience against covetousness; impresses this caution on their minds, by the parable of him, who rich to himself, and not to God, was summoned by death, just when he was purposing to enjoy his affluence, and promising to himself many years of worldly felicity; and enforces on his disciples indifference about worldly things, contentment with a litde, trust in Providence, fruitfulness in works of mercy, and habitual preparation for death and judgment. This last he illustrates by the situation of a servant, appointed to watch for his lord's return from a wedding: and by that of a householder expecting the assault of a thief. Sobriety and watchfulness would be incumbent on persons thus circumstanced, much more on us— "Be ye therefore ready also; for at an hour, when ye

* Luke xxi. 34-— 36.

"think not, the Son of Man Cometh."—From which

m i

interesting words we will,

I. Consider the event, for which we are exhorted to be ready.

II. Enquire wherein that readiness consists.

III. Propose some arguments, which prove the necessity of our being always ready.

And whilst I endeavour to discourse on these subjects; may the Lord impress all our minds with deep solemnity; present eternal things to our view in their certainty, nearness, and importance; enable us righdy to understand and willingly to entertain the instruction contained in these words; and to speak and hear, as if from this sermon we expected an immediate summons to meet our Judge.

I. Let us consider the event, for which we are exhorted to be ready.

And here our subject necessarily leads us to consider our situation in this world. Before an audience assembled to worship God and hear his word, many things may be assumed as truths, which in some places might require, and would easily admit of, abundant proof. The first principle of all our religious enquiries, is the existence of one God; who is infinite in greatness, majesty, glory, and excellency: the everlasting, self-existent, and universal Creator and Upholder of all things: worthy of all possible love, worship, honour and submission; "whose is the kkig"dom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. "Amen." His creatures we are, "from him we "have life, and breath, and all things," "and in him ^ we live, and move, and have our being." Consti

tuted diverse from, and superior to, all the other inhabitants of this lower world, we are evidently intend ed for other and nobler purposes than they. Being capable of the knowledge of God, and of our relations and obligations unto him; of perceiving the glory oi his perfections, as reflected from all his works; of discerning between moral good and evil; and of perform ing a reasonable and voluntary service; we appear designed expressly for the exercise of religion, and to perform that worship and service to our Maker and Benefactor, of which he is so worthy, and to which he hath so just a claim. We alone are able to understand and to be governed by, a law; to be influenced by motives, and actuated by hopes and fears of future consequences; and therefore we alone of all creatures here below, are accountable to our Maker for our conduct.

These things are, indeed, the probable conjectures of reason; but they stand not on that basis: divine revelation confirms the conclusions of our understanding, and with authority also demands our belief of the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, a future judgment, and an eternal state of retributions; in which the whole man, both body and soul, shall enjoy the most exquisite felicity, or endure the most intense and inexprcsssible misery for ever, "accord"ing to the things done in the body, whether they "be good, or evil."

But this is not all. We are not only rational and accountable creatures, and in a future state designed for immortal existence: we are also fallen and sinful creatures.—Our great Creator, Governor, and Judge, iuth given us a perfect law, reasonable, equitable, and good in all its requirements: immortal life and felicity art in it promised to him, who yields obedience; an awful curse is pronounced against every transgressor.—" By this law is the knowledge of sin." Every deviation * from its perfection, whether by omission or commission, by excess or deficiency, is sin. And the wages of sin is death. Love of God with all our powers, and love of all men as ourselves, form the substance of this law; which, excellent and lovely as h is, shuts all men up under condemnation. For being thus spiritual, and having respect, as much to the affections, imaginations, and intentions of the heart, as to the words of the tongue, or actions of the life, it condemns ten thousand things, which we naturally should not esteem deserving of condemnation. Thus our Lord pronounces causeless anger and malice to be an infringement of the sixth commandment; and lewd imaginations, desires, and intentions, to be adultery in the sight of God. "And he that keepeth the "whole law, and offendeth in one point, is guilty of "all;" for, like other laws, it condemns a man for one transgression: nor can it be pleaded in arrest of judgment, that we never broke the law before, nor ever intend to break it again; or though we have committed adultery, we never committed theft or murder. Such pleas would not avail us before man's tribunal, nor will they at the bar of God.

[graphic]

From mount Sinai the Lord himself delivered this law, in ten commandments, with every circumstance

[ocr errors]

of terror, which could express the wretched conditio i of mankind as sinners under its condemnation; anc warn them to flee from the wrath to come, to the sal vation of the gospel, held forth to the Israelites bj bloody sacrifices, and divers purifications.—Thes< very commandments have now in the name and pre sehce, and by the authority of God, been pronounced in your hearing: and upon your bended knees, as transgressors, you have, supplicated mercy: as prone to transgress, have besought the Lord to " incline "your hearts to keep each precept," "and to write "them in your hearts." I trust this is not with all of you a mere form, but that you are deeply convinced, that such is your character and situation: yet, with too many, this is all a solemn mockery; and they have neither in their judgment of themselves, correspondent sentiments, nor in their hearts, suitable affections.

But would you seriously compare your whole temper and conduct; your thoughts, words, and actions; your pursuits and pleasures, your behaviour to God and man; the government of your appetites and passions; your manner of spending your time and substance; the use you have made of your abilities and influence in times past, and are making of them at present: would you, I say, compare these things impartially with this holy law of God, after mature reflection you could not deny, that you have broken every one of the ten commandments. We have broken the first commandment, by idolizing ourselves and the world; by proud self-admiration; and by supremely valuing, pursuing, and delighting in earthly

« IndietroContinua »