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launcheth you into the boundless ocean of eternity; “ It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment,” Heb. ix. 27. Ah, sirs, what think you? Is there a heaven or hell after this life, or is there not ? and are you uncertain whether by death, you shall enter upon eternal happiness or misery, and yet can you be quiet? If you were not wavering in your belief of future things, you would be restless as long as you are doubtful. You owe your calmness and repose to nothing but your lethargy; if you were not infidels you would be distracted. What, man ! liable the next moment to be wailing in hell, and not repent on earth ? he is worse than a devil that trembles not under divine wrath. What, if it have not seized on you, as on devils, flames are at the door, wrath hangs over your heads; the only reason you see it not, is because you are blind. The Lord open your eyes and then I shall not need to preach terror to you, your hearts will meditate terror; fearfulness will surprize you, and make you say, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire, with everlasting burnings ?” Isa. xxxiii. 14. It is a wonder you do not run up and down like men deranged; surely you have taken some opiate to cast you into a dead sleep, or intoxicate your spirits, as some malefactors do, that dare not die sober : even some wiser heathens took great draughts of wine, saying, “That no voluptuous person can go in his wits into an invisible state.” But is this a making meet for heaven or hell ? Can rational persons think to escape a pitfall by shutting their eyes? It is reported of Robert, Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror's father, that when going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and falling sick, he was carried in a litter on the shoulders of Saracens, he said, “He was borne to heaven on the devil's back ?” and will you adopt his
language? Alas, will you trust the fiend of hell to bring you to heaven ? is he grown so full of charity to souls? Oh forlorn case of miserable sinners! have you no better friend than Satan? that you can be content to be rocked asleep in his cradle, and carried with ease to hell, rather than pass to heaven in our Lord's chariot paved with love? is security your best fence against misery? Can the poor fig-leaves of temporary righteousness secure you from divine vengeance ? can you be content to depend on that another day, which you dare not put to the trial here?
Alas, I am afraid, 1. Some are very ignorant and know not what is necessary to a meetness for heaven. Most think if they have but time to say at death, Lord, have mercy upon me; God forgive me my sins; Lord Jesus, receive my soul; they think they have made their peace with God, especially if they can say, they forgive all the world, and die in charity with all, and send for the minister to pray with them, and receive absolution and the sacrament, when perhaps they are little fit for such a solemn ordinance; then the minister commends their souls into God's hands, praises them at their funeral, and now they are certainly gone to heaven; these poor mistaken sinners blessed their souls whilst living, and men must commend them, and account them blessed when dead, Psalm xlix. 18.
2. Most are inconsiderate; they regard nothing but mere objects of sense, like the kine of Bashan, “ which went out at their breaches, every one at that which was before her,” Amos iv. 1-3. They never mind things out of their natural sight; they “put far away the evil day,” little thinking what will be the end of their careless ways; either they say to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant; or else in
atheistical scorn and mockery, “Let us eat and drink for to-morrow we die;"* let us be merry while we may; we shall never be younger ; when we are gone all the world is gone with us; as if there were no reckoning day, or retribution in the other world; but let such study Eccl. xi. 9, 10. Rom. viii. 13. Luke xii. 19, 20. Psal. ix. 17. 2 Thess. i. 6—9. John iii. 18. Psal. 1. 22. Oh sirs, disappointments are dreadful. It is sad, with a witness, to be confident of heaven, and yet doomed to hell; as Hamilcar dreamed he should the next night sup in Syracuse, which indeed he did, not as a conqueror, as he hoped, but as a prisoner. O how will it double your final misery, to live in confident hopes of reigning with Christ, yet to be judged by. him, and banished from him for ever! If you say,
soul, take thine ease,” and God say, "devil, take his soul;" whether of these think you, will prevail ?
EXHORTATION TO ALL TO OBTAIN MEETNESS FOR
Next, exhortation may be addressed first, to sinners : secondly, to saints, to attain a meetness for the heavenly inheritance: the former by habitual, the latter by actual meetness for this glorious state.
1. I shall need to say the less to move the former class: having urged practical reasons from our natural unmeetness, divine ordination, the design of ordinances and providences, the season of life for it, the work and
* Amos vi. 3. Jer. v. 31. Isa. lvi. 12. 1 Cor. xv. 32.
privileges here requiring it, and the inconsistency of a frame entirely unadapted to that glorious inheritance: most of these are directed to the state of unsanctified, careless souls, therefore I shall say the less on that branch. O that I had here the tongue or pen of an angel! or the bowels of blessed Paul to persuade sinners to look after a meetness for heaven. Consider,
(1.) What else have you to do in the world? Your very children will tell you that man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever. If you come short of these attainments you live in the world to no purpose, you are unprofitable cumber-grounds.
(2.) You frustrate Christ's undertaking in the world, and do what you can to render his merits useless; you tread under foot the Son of God, count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and disregard, if not do despite to the Spirit of grace, Heb. x. 29; you say plainly I like not the purchase, I will have none of it; you call heaven Cabul, a dirty thing, as Hiram called Solomon's twenty cities he gave him; and can you think it much to be dealt without heaven, when you thus “judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life?” Acts xiii. 46.
(3.) Every day brings you nearer heaven or hell. It is reported of the pious Lady Falkland, that going to bed at night, she usually said, “Now I am nearer heaven by one day than ever I was.” One day added to your age is a day taken away from your life. O think when you have heard a sermon, or spent a sabbath, I am now nearer heaven or hell; the word hath been to me “the savour of life unto life, or of death unto death,” 2 Cor. ii. 16. It carries me forward some way; if I bring forth meet and suitable fruit, I shall receive a blessing from God; if briars and thorns, I am rejected, "nigh to a curse, whose end is to be
burned,” Heb. vi. 7, 8. The word either hardens or softens. Woe to me, if all that God doth aggravates my condemnation.
(4.) Eternity brings up the rear of time. If it were but making fit for a day's pageantry, there would be no such great need of diligence to get matters ready; though it is said, Jer. ii. 32, "Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire;" though it is for the short exhibition of a marriage day? Oh but this is for eternity. An eminent painter of antiquity being asked why he bestowed so much labour on his picture, answered, " I paint for eternity.” Indeed there is nothing of value but what relates to eternity. Eternity gives weight and emphasis to all created beings. The apostle thought all visible sublunary things not worth a cast of his eye in comparison with this eternity.* Alas, sirs, is eternity nothing with you? O my friends, this, if any thing, is worth attention, to be for ever with the Lord, to enjoy God thousands and ten thousands of millions of years, or to be banished from his presence, and tormented with devils and lost souls for ever.
Oh this word for ever is overwhelming. A pious man in company sat in a deep study, and being demanded what he was thinking of? Answered, only with repeating “for ever, for ever, for ever,” constantly for some time: this is indeed a solemn consideration. O that you would seriously lay to heart the great things of another world! On the one hand, the enjoyment of God and Christ, the company of saints and angels, the perfection of your natures, a crown of glory, fulness of joy and pleasures at God's right hand for evermore, through the perpetual ages of a boundless eternity; all this were worth praying, obeying, and suffering for a thousand years ! On the other
* 2 Cor. iv. 18. See a book called “Glimpse of Eternity.”