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The very sound of the expression, bad company, is painful to a prudent and pious ear. The soul of a good man trembles at the idea of being the companion of the wicked. And what is the reason? He has many reasons for it. He has reasons which relate to time, and reasons which relate to eternity. He knows such company to be disgraceful. The wise and good judge of men by their company; and with them it is always counted disreputa. ble to be seen in the society of those whose character is stained. Evil company also hinders religious improve. ment; takes off the heart from God; gradually lessens the fear of sin; imperceptibly draws men into the commission of iniquity; and, in this way, destroys both the usefulness and comfort of life. It has been the ruin of thousands and tens of thousands. By it, multitudes have been led on to actions and crimes, at the bare thought of which their souls once shuddered. By means of evil company, they have had their minds filled with fears, and their consciences overwhelmed with horror; and, for one that has escaped by true faith and sincere repentance, there is reason to suspect many have gone down to hell.
If, therefore, you value your credit and comfort in life, your peace in death, or your happiness in eternity, shun evil company as destruction; and remember, that under the idea of dangerous society, we are to include not only the drunkard, the profane swearer, the unchaste, or the dishonest; but likewise all who donot love God, and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lord, keep me near thyself!
THE SINNER LED BY A WAY HE KNEW NOT.
Some years ago, a young man, about eighteen years of age, was walking one morning with a party of other young men, who had all agreed for that day to make a holiday. The first object that attracted their attention, was an old woman who pretended to tell fortunes, They immedi. ately employed her to tell theirs; and, that they might fully qualify her for the undertaking, first made her thor. oughly intoxicated with spiritous liquor. The young man of whom mention was first made, was informed, among other things, that he would live to a very old
and see his children, grand children, and great grand children, growing up around him. Though he had assisted in qual. ifying the old woman for the fraud, by intoxicating her, yet he had credulity enough to be struck with those parts of her predictions which related to himself. And so, quoth be, when alone, I am to live to see children,grand children, and great grand children! At that age I must be a burden to the young people. What shall I do? There is no way for an old man to render himself more agreeable to youth, than by sitting and telling them pleasant and profitable sto. ries. I will then, thought he,during my youth, endeavor to store my mind with all kinds of knowledge. I will see, and hear, and note down every thing that is rare and won. derful, that I may sit, when incapable of other employment, and entertain my descendants. Thus shall my company be rendered pleasant; and I shall be respected rather than neglected in old age. Let me see: What can I acquire first? O! here is the famous Methodist preacher, Whitefield; he is to preach, they say, to night; I will go and
From these strange motives, the young man declared he went to hear Mr. W. He preached that evening from Matt. iii. 7. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O gen. eration of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
Mr. W., said the young man, described the Sadducian character; this did not touch me; I thought myself as good a Christian as any man in England. From this he went to that of the Pharisees. He described their exterior decency, but observed, the poison of the viper rankled in their hearts. This rather shook me. At length, in the course of his sermon, he abruptly broke off, paused for a few moments, then burst into a flood of tears, lifted up his hands and eyes, and exclaimed, “O my hearers! the wrath's to come! the wrath's to come!” These words sunk into my heart, like lead into the waters. I wept; and when the sermon was ended, retired alone. For days and weeks I could think of little else; those awful words would follow me wherever I went, the wrath's to come! the wrath's to come!
The issue was, the young man soon after made a public profession of religion; and, in a little time, became a very considerable preacher.
LORD LYTTLETON. His Lordship had a great aversion to public places and entertainments; but was with great difficulty persuaded to go to a ridotto. Being asked how he liked it, he answered, "I have been seeking for happiness, but it is in the next room."
LINES WRITTEN BY REV. MR. B. AND POSTED ON HIS
Here my master bids me stand,
AN ARGUMENT AGAINST THE DOCTRINE OF
The doctrine of universal salvation implies, that all, who by the righteous Judge of the world may be doomed to hell, will be finally delivered from their sufferings, and made eternally happy. Now,if it can be proved of any one who hathever existed, that he willnever be made thus happy, the universality of salvation is at once destroyed. Let the read. er recollect, as a case in point, what our Lord said to Judas. Matt. xxvi. 24. “It had been good for that man if he had never been born.” I cannot help remarking, that the dis. course, of which this expression is a part, is not a figura. tive description of any character or event, but a plain recital of facts. Neither is the expression itself a mere prover. bial saying, borrowed from common usage, and applied to the particular case of Judas; for no traces can be found of any such proverb aniong the Jews. We must, therefore, conclude, that the passage ought to be understood accord. ing to the plain, literal import of the words it contains, Thus understood, it must necessarily refer to the whole existence, both here, and hereafter, of the person of whom Christ speaks.
If a man should spend many years upon Vol. I.
earth, and spend them wholly in suffering, his life might be called a miserable life; yet, if endless happiness were to follow, he could not, on the whole, be pronounced a miserable character. So, on the contrary, if a man should enjoy upon earth many years of uninterrupted happiness; yet, if endless misery were to follow, it would demonstrate that his existenee on the whole, is wretched. These re. marks are equally applicable to every individual of the hu.
With regard to Judas, in particular, the meas. ure of his misery, according to our Lord's declaration, must exceed that of his happiness. If he had never been born, it is true he would have been prevented from enjoying a certain degree of pleasure; but it is equally true, that he would have escaped a larger proportion of pain. So that, on the whole, the balance would have been in his favor. But, if it were possible for him to be finally "plucked as a brand from the burning," the assertion of Christ would be found untrue. Let us suppose him to suffer ten thousand millions of ages in hell, and that every moment of pain, when laid in the balance, would be found equal to the enjoyment of ten thousand millions of ages spent in the blissful presence of God; yet, if that bliss be endless, there will arrive a period when his happiness will be more than equal to all his sufferings. If Judas is to be finally received into heaven, and there to remain for ever, can it then with any propriety be said of him, "that it had been good for that man if he had never been born?” Sure. ly, no. The advocates for universal salvation are, cousequently, reduced to this dilemma; either they must, on the one hand suppose the everlasting joys of heaven are so poor and mean, that they cannot compensate for a limited state