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distinction, apparently not ill-founded; first, that with respect to their proper treatment, as a consequence of their surprise, all must be equally passive, and subject to some foreign power which overrules their own agency; secondly, that no regard can be paid to the state in which any are surprised at the time, and therefore an entire regard must be paid to the state in which all had been before, or up to the time. If so, this implies that the consideration which determines the effects of the surprise to both the parties, is not their particular behaviour under the circumstances of the case, but the general character of the life and conduct previously. We may infer then, first, that the event itself, which is followed by such consequences, answers to the idea of a moral dispensation of rewards or punishments, awarded to the subjects of either according to the difference of personal merit or demerit, as evidenced by the difference of the life and conduct; and secondly, that the vigilance, or want of the vigilance, on the presence of which exemption from the consequences of the event follows in one instance, and on its absence, exposure to their worst results in the other, is not the simple virtue, nor the simple vice, but the difference of the moral character, in its proper subjects, as good or bad, in general.
Again, the examples of the vigilance in question, which are produced in illustration of it, are all so many instances of a moral obedience in general, varying in its nature according to the circumstances of the case. They are all practical energies of the same common principle of action, however diverse in the mode, the subject-matter, or the other individual characteristics of their being; the principle of diligence, zeal, fidelity, in the fulfilment of an ap
pointed part, in the discharge of a given duty. The wariness of the sentinel, who is not to be found asleep at his post—the watchfulness of the master of an house, who sits up to protect his property from the nocturnal plunderer—the vigilance of the porter, who is bound at all times to keep the doorand every other image employed to describe the same thing—are all so many instances of the particular observance of one and the same duty; the duty required by the time and occasion. The vice too, which is opposed to this virtue, the specific causes which are supposed most likely to endanger the exercise of the vigilance in question, are such as can properly be opposed to nothing but a life of uniform piety and virtue. For though the sensual indulgences of riot and intemperance might be mentioned, as naturally the parents of sloth and lethargy
-the cares that appertain to this life, would not be specified also, as equally opposed to the vigilance prescribed, if there were not as much to fear, in behalf of the duty in question, from habits of worldlymindedness, which engross the soul with temporal objects and pursuits, and fix its affections upon earthly things, as from excess and sensuality themselves. The effect of the latter is to deaden, to stupify, and brutalize ; the effect of the former, to monopolize. The one would render the soul incapable of reflection or discrimination at all; the other incapable of reflecting aright, or discriminating justly between the different value of the ends and objects, proposed to its choice and pursuit. Vigilance, then, as opposed to the one, is a life of soberness and temperance in the indulgence of the appetites of sense ; and as opposed to the other, is a life of active and
ardent piety-which rising superior to the cares and desires of this sublunary scene, where the more we are busied in things around us, the more likely we are to forget the things of futurity, fixes the thoughts upon the concerns of another life, and spiritualizes even the love and pursuit of present and sensible objects, by making them subservient to an heavenlymindedness of principle.
Lastly, the description which is given of the event itself is that of a judicial process. It is the supposed institution of an inquiry into the exercise of some responsible trust. Its effects, in a particular instance, are the supposed consequences of that responsibility. The motive proposed to the performance of the duty is a moral motive, arising out of this view of the obligation to it; the desire of the subject of the duty to approve himself to the favourable sentence of a judge to whom he is accountable, and who has power to absolve or to punish him, to award or to deny him a recompense.
How exactly all these descriptions would agree to what may be expected from the nature, design, and consequences of such an event as the return of Christ to judgment, it can scarcely be necessary to observe. The vigilance, then, which is supposed to be the virtue so needful to qualify its subjects for the coming of such an event as this, must be that constant recollection of their accountability, which is incumbent on those who are placed in a state of probation, and that constant preparation for rendering their account, which nothing can bestow but the diligent and unintermitted discharge of the duties of their appointed station, in which their proper probation consists. And hence we may derive a sufficient explanation of the obscurity which hangs over the time of this event in particular; and why it should be known to none but the Supremne Intelligence. It cannot be made known to his creatures in the present state of things, because it is not fitting to be made known: the end of that discipline, which is coextensive with the duration of this state of things, would be endangered by its being disclosed. There is no security for the constant discharge of the duties of a given station, except in the continual consciousness of a responsibility for that discharge; there is no security for the continual consciousness of a responsibility, except in the reflection that an account is always impending; however delayed it is never excused, however distant it must one day arrive". The habits of practical virtue must be formed and reside in moral agents, if their lives and actions are to be uniformly accommodated to the standard of their duty; but they will not be formed, nor kept alive in them, except by constantly meditating on the great end for which they were placed in their temporary state of probation; and what influence their conduct here, during a limited period of being, must exert in determining their condition hereafter, through all eternity. ; The certainty of the account which all must give—the uncertainty of the time when each must be called to his own; the present labour and diligence in the discharge of an appointed part, which is the direct practical result of both-are the
h Tertullian, iv. 286. De Anima 33: Et hoc semel, (judicabit sc. Deus,) et in eum diem quem solus pater novit, ut pendula exspectatione sollicitudo fidei probetur, semper diem observans, dum semper ignorat; quotidie timens, quod quotidie sperat.
whole implied by the vigilance required of Christians; and all that is necessary to its full effect. If the fatal moment finds them thus employed, however suddenly and unexpectedly it may arrive, it cannot take them by surprise; for it cannot find them unprepared for their account. No steward can ever be unfit to resign a trust, who is intent upon it at all times with equal fidelity; no servant can be afraid to appear, on any summons, before a master, in whose service he is always engaged with equal diligence; no innocent person can be afraid to present himself at any time before a judge, from whose justice he knows he has nothing to apprehend.
Considered in this point of view, it is indifferent to the end proposed by the uncertainty in question, whether the appointed moment of the final account be the day of judgment, or the day of death. The same obscurity hangs over the latter; doubtless for the same reason, that men should so live at all times, as to be at any time prepared to die. But the period of death is virtually the period of judgment also; since after death comes the judgment, and there is no more trial or probation between the one and the other i. The day when a man is called