Imágenes de páginas

So that, in truth, what we call the Gain of the World, is to lose, to spoil the World it felf, to make its Enjoyments uneasy, dangerous, unsatisfactory, and very inconítant. This all bad Men find, who are never satisfied long together with what they have; they think other Men Happy, but not themselves; which is generally the Condition of the most prosperous Sinners, who are happy in other Mens Opinions, but not in their own; but still they pursue an Opinion of Happiness, and climb as fast as they can up the Hill, where they think they can reach the Heavens with their Hands, and when they have got thither, they only find that they are the more exposed to Storms, but the Heavens, the Happiness they expected, are as far off as ever. Sinners themselves then being Judges, what they have already gained is not very great, for it does not satisfy ; but they hope at last to find that Happiness, which all Sinners hitherto have in vain fought for ; and for these Hopes they lose their Souls ; too great a Purchase for such vain Hopes ! as will appear, if we consider,

2dly, What the Loss of the Soul is; which consists of two Parts. 1. The Loss of that Happiness to which good Men shall be advanced in the next World. 2. The Suffering those Miseries which shall be inflicted upon bad Men.

1. The Loss of Heaven. And were it possible for me to give you a View of those Glories, nay, to draw but some of the darkest Shades of them, it would make you despise this world, and pity the Folly of Sinners, who gain this world with the Loss of Heaven: But these are such Things as neither Eye báth feen, nor Ear heard, neither bath it entred into the Heart of Man to conceive. It is represented in Scripture by some earthly Compari

fons, sons, by a Kingdom, and an immarceffible Crown of Glory; it is to see God, and to dwell for ever in his presence ; it is Light, and Life, and Joy, Rivers of Pleasures, and Fulness of Joy. These are the greatest and best Things we know in this World, and these serve only for fome faint Images of the Happiness of Heaven: To be sure Heaven is all that it is faid to be, a Kingdom, and a Crown, Light, and Life, and Joy, and as much greater than all we yet know of these Things, as to live, and to reign, and to rejoyce in the immediate Presence of God, may reasonably be supposed to excel all earthly Glories and Pleasures. But I need not prove to any Man, who believes that there is such à Place as Heaven, that it must be a much happier Place than this World, and that is enough to my prefent Purpose ; for then the Loss of Heaven is ninch greater than the Gain of this World.

Bad Men indeed have no Sense of this Lofs now ; they think they could bear the Loss of Heaven, could they but escape Hell: And therefore that they may sin the more securely, they per. fuade themselves, that all that is said of the Pu. nishments of bad Men in the next World, is only this Punishment of Loss; and they value Heaven so little now, they think they shall value it as little hereafter. Now suppose it were fo; Is there no Trouble in Loss? no Trouble to miss of Happiness? Are all Men so passionately desirous of Happiness? so impatient in this World of every Disappointment? of every Delay? of eve. ry Interruption of their Enjoyments? And can we think, that when they come into the next World, they will be unconcern'd whether they be Happy or not? Is the Desire of Happiness only confined to this World, where the least of it is to be had? where it is a Virtue to be contented with a very little ? and if we shall be as desirous


of Happiness in the next World, as we are in this, why should we think that it will be no Trouble, no gréat Punishment to us to miss of Heaven? I doubt not but to convince all Men, that this will be thought an unsupportable Loss at the Day of Judgment, who will be pleased to consider these few Things :

1. The Reason why bad Men despise Heaven now, is, because they do not believe that there is such a Place, or know not what the Happiness of it is : But this will be no Reason when they shall see Heaven, and see the Glories of it ; when they shall see good Men fine forth like the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father; when they shall see them come from the East, and from the West, and sit down with Abrabam, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of God, and they themselves fput out. Such a Sight of Heaven now, would eclipse all the Glories of this World, and bring down the Price of it; and; - when Men come to see how great a Happiness

they have lost, the Trouble of losing it must bear -Proportion to the Greatness of the Loss; and that is as unconceivable to us now, as the Happiness of Heaven is. The Torments and Agonies of Mind for losing Heaven, must be as great as the Joy and Triumph of gaining it: For so we always find it in this World, that the Trouble of losing, bears proportion to the Pleasure of gaining ; and then bad Men must be as miserable in their Loss, as good Men are happy in their Enjoyment.

2dly, Heaven is the only State of Happiness in the next World, and chat must, necessarily inake Men very sensible of their Loss. In this World bad Men find other Diversions and Entertainments, which are more agreeable to their Inclinations, than the Thoughts and Hopes of Heaven ; they have something, how mean soever it is,

which they call their Happiness, which employs their Thoughts and Time, and deludes their Fancies, as Children divert themselves with childish Sports, to the Neglect of greater and better Things : But when this World is at an End, and can enchant them no longer, when they open their Eyes in the next World, and see themfelves stript of all that they called their Happiness, and see nothing that can make them happy, but what they have refused, what they have now no Right to, what they shall never have ; when they fee their Loss, and must think of it, and think eternally of it, without any thing to divert, or to al. lay and mitigate the Anguish of such Thoughts: What this is, God grant we may never feel; I'm sure no Words can ever express.

3dly, It will be a great Aggravation of this Loss, to consider, That this is a Happiness they might have had, a Happiness which was purcha. fed for them by the Blood of Christ, which they refused and nighted, and did not think worth their having. Those blessed Saints, whom they now see possess’d of eternal Glory, had no better Title to it originally than themselves : Christ purchased Heaven for us all ; but those happy Souls thought it worth their while to obey God here, that they might be happy hereafter ; other foolish Sinners despised Heaven, and lost it. It is a great Trouble to any Man to miss an Opportunity of making himself happy, tho’ it were only his Misfortune, not his Fault; but what a piercing Thought it will be, when a Man sees himself shut out of Heaven, to remember that God would have bestowed Heaven on him, but he rejected and scorn'd the Offer, and would not be persuaded to accept of Heaven by all the Endearments and Obligations of an infinite Love? Oh that Fury, Indignation and Self-Revenge, where

with such guilty Souls will torment themselves ! :

4. Especially when they consider, that they have loft Heaven for the Sake of such Trifles, of such perishing Riches, and Honours, and Pleasures, as are all gone and past, and have not so much as left any pleasant Remembrance behind them. Oh Wretch that I am, will such a Man fay! What have I lost'; and for what! A Crown, the Richest and the Brightest Crown, the most Glorious Kingdom, the most satisfying and transporting Pleasures; for an empty vanishing Scene, for a Dream, for an Apparition of Happiness! What is become now of all the Pageantry of the World ! Was there ever such Folly as this ! l refused Heaven for Earth; the Earth is gone and perish'd with all its Delights ; Heaven indeed remains, and I see it, and I long for it, but I cannot have it. I have indeed my Choice, and a miserable Choice it is: I chose what was not worth having, and what I could not keep, and now I must want for ever. .

5. For this is the greatest Aggravation of the Loss, that it is for ever: Heaven-Gates are shut against such Sinners, and that for ever : they have loft an Opportunity of making themselves eternally Happy, which can never be recalled : And if a temporary Disappointinent, if every Delay of our Desires be so uneasy and troublesome, what will eternal Despair be?

So that if we consult all the Passions of human : Nature, if we believe that we shall have the same Passions in the next World that we have in this ; that the Sight and Presence of a great Happiness will excite in us strong and vehement Desires ; that to miss it, will overwhelm us with the sharp-, est Sorrows; that a Reflection on our Guilt and Folly, will turn all our Palions on our selves; and


« AnteriorContinuar »