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self master of immense treasure, which he as liberally bestowed on the purchase of every gra tification of sense and appetite. Among the tribe of flatterers which never fail to attend greatness, however impious, one, in the midst of a splendid entertainment, began to extol the happiness which the tyrant, his master, enjoyed in the possession of whatever his heart could wish. Thy tyrant, to convince him of his mistake, proposed changing conditions with him for that night, and accordingly gave orders to prepare a most magnificent bed for his reception, in the noblest part of the palace. Evening being come, he is with great state laid upon it, a delicious banquet is served up, the finest concert of music is provided; and to crown all, beautiful young persons of both sexes are ordered to attend at table; in a word, nothing is omitted that could contribute to heighten the entertainment: when in the midst of this bliss, the happy man turning up his eyes to the top of the bed, on which he lay, observed a drawn sword hanging by a single hair, directly over his throat, which the tyrant had before hand ordered to be so placed. Immediately all the happiness with which he was so lately surrounded, vanished; he is no longer sensible of the richness of the repast, the magnificence of the furniture, the harmony of the mu
sic, the beauty of his attendants, but earnestly begged to be delivered, at the expense of his greatness, from the danger which threatened him. Similar to this must be the situation of every wicked man, in whatever circumstances he is placed. Conscience, like a drawn dagger suspended over his head, will blast all his enjoyments; for "the wicked are like the troubled sea, "which cannot rest, but whose waters cast up "mire and dirt." I should now proceed to consider the greater difference of situation betwixt the righteous and the wicked, arising from a good conscience in the one, and a troubled one in the other, when both are placed in circumstances of distress and adversity; and lastly, when both are placed in the prospect of death; but this, with what remains of the subject, must be delayed till afterwards. May God give us grace to exercise ourselves to have "a conscience void of "offence toward God and toward men," that when we come to die, we may have this comfortable testimony that we have pleased God. Amen.
ACTS xxiv. 16.
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men.
ON PURITY OF CONSCIENCE.
As the life of man at the longest is but very short, and at the best very uncertain, as it is only an introduction or prelude to our existence; and as an awful eternity is advancing upon us with a rapid progress—it must appear evident to every thinking mind that the principal, the only business of life should be to secure our eternal concerns, to live now as we shall wish to have done when we come to die for we are assured, that as we sow now, we shall reap hereafter" if we sow "to the flesh, we shall of the flesh reap corrup"tion; but if we sow to the spirit, we shall of "the spirit reap life everlasting." My text points out the only way in which a man and a christian can live happily, die comfortably, and
secure eternal life and felicity-the only way whereby he can support himself under all the miseries and calamities of this mortal state, and die in peace with his Maker and with himself-namely, to maintain ever " a conscience void of "offence toward God and toward men." In discoursing upon a former occasion of this kind from these words, you will probably remember that the method I proposed, through the divine assistance, to observe was, in the first place, to consider wherein a conscience void of offence may be said to consist; second, to illustrate the happiness of having a good conscience, and the misery of a contrary state, and then lead to the improvement of the subject. The first of these particulars we have already considered, and observed that to have a conscience void of offence, was, in the first place, from a principle of love to God to live in the habitual performance of all the duties we owe him, as our almighty creator, our gracious preserver and bountiful benefactor-that veneration, and regard we owe him on account of the glorious excellencies of his nature, as a being possessed of every possible perfection, of infinite wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truththat submission to, and dependance upon him, which is his due as "the God of our life, and the
length of our days, in whom alone we live, and
move, and have our being"-and that gratitude and affection we are bound to pay on account of what he has already done, still continues to do, and has given us the assurance of doing for us in the time to come. These blessings, which thus call for all the returns we are able to make are being itself, with all its attending comforts and enjoyments daily, constant preservation in being and happiness-and redemption from misery and wrath, through the mediation and meritorious death and intercession of his son Jesus Christ; and secondly, we observed, that to have a conscience void of offence toward man, was from a principle of unfeigned charity toward our brethren of mankind, to live in the habitual practice of all the duties we owe one another according to the various stations and relations in which we stand to each other, as parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and friends, as the children of the same common father, the objects of the same gracious and universal providence, as the candidates and heirs of the same glorious immortality—and to live in the performance of these duties is to live in conformity to that short transcript of the moral law, delivered to us by our Lord himself, in these words: "Thou shalt "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and