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is the law; and would you enter there? You must strive to “be perfect and entire, wanting nothing;” to be without spot and blameless;” to be resolute and persevering unto the day of Christ, “lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."
For motives, I present you, on the one hand, with the best and the fairest recorded in the book of life. I present you with heaven; and if ye have any just conception of what heaven is, I need name no more, to call out all the energies of the spirit, soul, and body, with the view of making it your own. While here below, the Christian is - afflicted;" but there he is a comforted.” Here he has enemies to contend with; "there the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest.” Here he“ sees through a glass darkly," he only “knows in part;" there he shall see “ face to face,” he “shall know even as he also is known.” Here, at his best estate, he merely tastes the streams; there he shall bathe and fill the enraptured soul in the fountain of eternal joy.
I present you, on the other hand, with everlasting wo escaped, with everlasting death deprived of its victim. Enter in at the strait gate, persevere upon
and shall never realize those dreadful miracles, the corrosion of the worm, that destroys without destroying; the vengeance of the fire, that consumes without consuming. I know not how others may calculate to endure such tortures. I know not how they can possibly content themselves in the service of a master, who will then become the chief instrument in inflicting agonies unutterable upon many, that are now seduced by his arts, and charmed with his blandishments. But this I know, in relation to my office and ministry, that I will not cease to warn impenitent sinners "to flee from the wrath to come." I will not cease to implore the Lord, that "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man,” I may have grace and power to put them upon their guard, and, if it seemeth good to him, effectually preserve them from the assaults of the most subtle, as he is the most fatal enemy of human happiness. God is “not willing that any should perish,” Christ is not willing, and his faithful ambassadors are not willing. We must not, Brethren, we cannot consent to be “saying, peace, peace; when there is no peace.” It would be more than either your pleasure or your displeasure is worth. It would expose us to the severe rebuke, “they have healed
the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly.” Especially when there is a cure, a sovereign and never failing cure. It proceeds from the great Physician of souls. Would to God, that I could prevail upon you to adopt it. Would to God, that ye would this day commence in good earnest that striving for holiness and against sin, which will not only heal the wounds of your peace, but command an entrance into life eternal.
So full, so free, so unrestricted, are the means of grace, that, provided you employ them precisely in the manner of God's appointment, there is no reason to despair of a successful result. What if the enemy be vigilant and artful? By the divine blessing, ye shall prove more than a match for his untiring eye and cunning stratagems. What if the gate be confessedly strait, and the way
narrow? There is enough in prayer to vanquish every obstacle; there is "help laid upon One that is mighty.” “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." And this, may our heavenly Father of his infinite mercy grant; may we so strive and seek, that we may gain an entrance into the blissful regions, where he dwells; and to Him, the Father, to the Son, and Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, shall be ascribed all honour, and glory, and dominion, and power, world without end. AMEN.
1 CORINTHIANS vii, 29, 30, 31.
But this I say, Brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they
that have vives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.
WE often hear of the brevity of human life: How rapidly the moments glide in swift succession down the stream of time: How narrow are the boundaries of the days of the Son of Man: With what velocity manhood and age steal upon the scarcely conscious traveller to remind him, that his days are fast verging to the house appointed for all the living. On this subject the scriptures are eminently beautiful and sublime. “Our days on earth are as a shadow.” They “are swifter than a weaver's shuttle." “ They are passed away as the swift ships; as the eagle that hasteth to the prey." “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down." “ His days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth: For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more." “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
And yet, when we have strangely, and I may add, almost miraculously escaped all the perils incident to infancy and youth; when we have survived the prime of life, and find ourselves quietly reposing in the vale of years, it would seem as if the retrospect of the past presented a long and lengthened period, on which to exercise the recollecting powers of the mind. To the man of fourscore years, it appears an age since he was young. He can by no process in numbers bring to a point the intervening hours, and days, and months. He feels that he is old. His gray hairs, his furrowed cheeks, his decrepit limbs, all combine to tell him, that they have
not been wrought in the twinkling of an eye, ere he could look around, and gain some little knowledge of himself, his nature, the powers of his body, and the faculties of his soul. His memory is rather surcharged with numerous thoughts resulting from numerous events. Though the passing moments flew, the years still lingered on, and many an octogenarian has been known to confess, that he was weary of the world, that having outlived the friends and companions of his youth, he would gladly lie down in the dust, and be no more remembered.
It is consequently in a relative point of view alone, that the Apostle assures us, “ the time is short.” Compared with the ephemeral existence of many insects, with the brief space allotted to most animals, with the transient blossoms of the infant dead, it is long, surpassing long. But if weighed in the balance against many other circumstances, those of a truly imposing character, it becomes short, emphatically short as any dream. Its uncertainty is one. We know not what a day may bring forth. The work we have to perform is another. The poor man does not think of personal aggrandizement; the illiterate do not calculate upon attaining literary renown; I had almost said, the wicked do not flatter themselves with realizing the hopes of the righteous, after they are old. These expectations are rather thought to attach to an earlier age, to that springtide in the affairs of men, which “once neglected never floods again.” And then, eternity is a third and undeniable proof of the shortness of human life. Compared with this, we have ample reason to adopt the words of the psalmist, and say, “ Behold, thou hast made my days as a hand-breadth, and mine age is as nothing before thee: Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity." There is nothing long but the duration to be spent in heaven or hell. All else is a mathematical point upon a line, that has neither beginning nor end. We can glide with the swiftness of thought from the day of our birth to the day of our death; but to grasp the idea of eternity belongs to God alone.
You perceive therefore the true meaning of all those passages of the sacred volume, which circumscribe to a unit the passing shadows of the world. If there were nothing beyond the grave, if the soul died with the body, entirely irresponsible for its actions, whether good or bad, existence would be measured solely by our present conceptions of time, and would be either long or short, in the pre
66 The night
portion, we were permitted to dwell upon the face of the earth. But
Let us attend then with seriousness and solemnity to the inferences suggested by St. Paul, and fully persuaded of their importance, by them, so regulate our lives and conduct, that whether we live or die, we may live or die unto the Lord. It remaineth, he tells us, in the first place," that they that have wives be as though they had none.” And permit me to say, there are few passages more clearly indicative of the supreme value of religion. For where is the earthly relation possessing attractions sufficient to eclipse the marriage tie? If I remember right, it has been aptly and justly termed the sweetener of life, the solderer of society.” It gives character to youth, dignity to manhood, new life and animation to age. They, who have been long united, whose dispositions and feelings were cast in the same mould, whose hearts have been knit into one, whose minds have constantly reflected each other's sentiments and virtues, whose union has been crowned with what the psalmist calls the “ heritage of the Lord;" if they are not happy, then in the language of the misanthrope is all temporal happiness the merest bub ble in existence. There is no place for love, for tenderness, for sympathy. There is no moral magnet to attract. There are no congenial hearts to be attracted.
But in opposition to all this, that divine Being, who knew what was in man; who needed not that any should tell him his most secret thoughts; he, himself has pronounced the highest eulogium upon the marriage institution. He has selected it as the emblem of all others best adapted to convey an adequate idea of the fervency of his affection to the children of men. In the economy of our re