« AnteriorContinuar »
dark and gloomy aspect. When conscience, awakened with the dawning of an everlasting day, shall prompt us to inquire, What we have done? How we have improved our time, our talents, and the means of grace with which we have been favoured? If in this review of ourselves, we shall be able to discover nothing but the traces of vanity and impertinence, how must we fhrink back, and tremble to venture on the awful ftate before us? If God will judge every man according to his works, alas! what must become of the unhappy sluggard, who hath no works to show; who hath slept, and trifled, and squandered away all his time? “ O that men were wise, that they un“ derstood this, that they would consider “ their latter end !"- " How long, 0 ye. “ fimple ones, will ye love fimplicity?" How long, O sinner, shall that precious time on which eternity depends, be wasted in the pursuit of lying vanities? O think, how swiftly it passeth away, and how passionately thou wilt one day wish to recal it. Who can assure thee that the decree is not already gone forth against thee, “ Cut him off, why
« cumbereth he the ground.”_" Thou fool, “ this night thy soul shall be required of “ thee.”
Pardon me, then, if I speak to you as. short lived, or as dying creatures ; some of whom I may never see again, till we meet before the judgement-seat of God. Under this impression, let me deal freely with you, and call on you to review your past conduct, as if the Lord himself were demand, ing an account of it.
Say, then, hath it been suitable to the rank you hold in life? Hath it even been rational? such as became those high intellectual powers by which you are raised above the beasts that perish? Would you consent to have it published before this congregation? Or rather, are there not some parts of it which you would wish to hide from your most intimate friends ; left, partial as they are to you, the knowledge of them should quench their affection, and render you contemptible in their eyes? Are you then ready to appear in judgement, and to have all your thoughts, and words,
and actions laid open and canvassed before an afsembled world?
I shall not suppose you guilty of gross acts of wickedness. Perhaps the influence of education, the power of natural conscience, and the restraints of Providence, have hitherto kept you back from these. I at present charge you with nothing worse than the omiffion of duty, and the neglect of opportunities for cultivating and impro. ving the talents which God hath given you. You have been thoughtless and inconsiderate, unmindful of the God who made you, and of the Redeemer who bought you with his blood. You have forgotten the end for which you was sent into the world. You have suffered the cares and pleasures of the present life, the business or amusements of this fleeting scene of vanity, to divide your hearts, and engross your time, as if the soul had been destined to serve the body; or as if this earth had been designed for your only residence and portion.
Can you then review such a life without blushing and shame? When you think of it, doth it not appear mean and despicable
even in your own eyes ? And can it then be pleasing ; or rather, must it not be highly offensive to that Almighty Being, who gave you a nature fitted for the performance of nobler services, and for the relish of higher enjoyments, than any with which you have been hitherto acquainted?
For the Lord's fake open your eyes, and take a serious and impartial view of your condition. Blessed be God, it is not yet too late. The door of mercy is still open; and though, like the prodigal fon, you have hitherto been feeding upon husks; yet when, like him, ye shall return to your Father's house, and to the faithful and affectionate duty of children, your past wandering and unprofitable life shall be forgiven, and ye may yet enjoy the honours and privileges of your Father's sons.
Having thus confirmed and illustrated the first proposition contained in the text, namely, that men fin, not only when they positively tranfgress the law of God; but also, when they do not fulfil the duties which the law requires to the utmost of
their power;—I proceed now to show you, as was proposed,
Secondly, That our guilt is more highly aggravated, when we neglect the duties which are known to us; or when we decline opportunities of doing good, though we are convinced that it is our duty to embrace them.
He who doth not seek for opportunities of doing good, is a sinner; that is, he counteracts the obvious intention of his Maker in sending him into the world : and therefore shall be dealt with as an unfaithful servant, who hath not applied his talents to the purposes for which they were given him. And, if this is the case, then surely the person who hath a known opportunity of doing good, and yet wilfully neglects it, must contract greater guilt, and be liable to a feverer punishment. If that man be củlpable, who is .careless of doing all the good which by an exertion of his talents he is able to do; is not that man much more culpable, who presumptuously omits to do the good to which he has opportunities to solicit him?