« AnteriorContinuar »
stand the test at the great day of account.
It can do you no great harm to reflect upon your condition, to be serious for a season, and to suspect you may be wrong. Consider, that you differ essentially from some of the greatest and best men that ever lived. You stake your eternal all upon the justness-of what? Your opinion :-an opinion, in confutation of which, multitudes have sacrificed their lives, and which many of the first characters now upon earth would controvert with the last drop of their blood! This should stagger your confidence. Myriads of the most learned and moral persons of all ranks and degrees, and of all sects and denominations, would this moment burn at a stake in confirmation of the truth of the Bible, and the divine mission of Jesus Christ. Are they all deceived? Are you the only wise men upon earth? And would you this moment burn at a stake in proof of Christ's being an impostor? Nothing surely but the most palpable demonstration in favour of infidelity should suffer you to sleep one night more in your present state of scepticism and unbelief. are mistaken! should you be mistaken ! The very possibility is enough to overwhelm the human mind!
“ My hopes and fears Start
alarm’d, and o'er life's narrow verge Look down-on what? A fathomless abyss.-A dread eternity! how surely mine!”
Everlasting existence in misery!-Under the frown and displeasure of the best Being in the universe, without end!—Debarred of light, and the society of happy spirits !- Thé associates of lost souls, and miserable angels, through endless ages ! --The lake which burneth with fire and brimstone !—The worm that never dies !-- he fire that never shall be quenched! Everlasting punishment !-Eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord; and from the glory of his power!
" Ah! could I represent to you the different states of good and bad men: could I give you the prospect which the blessed martyr Stephen had, and shew you the blessed Jesus at the right hand of God, surrounded with angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect: could I open your ears to hear the neverceasing hymns of praise, which the blessed above sing to Him that was, and is, and is to come; to the Lamb that was slain, but liveth for ever: could I lead you through the unbounded regions of eternal day, and shew the mutual and ever blooming joys of saints who are at rest from their labours, and live for ever in the presence of God! or could I change the scene, and unbar the iron gates of hell, and carry you, through solid darkness, to the fire that never goes out, and to the worm that never dies: could I shew you the apostate angels fast bound in eternal chains, or the souls of wicked men overwhelmed with torment and despair: could I open your ears to hear the deep itself groan with the continual cries of misery; cries which can never reach the throne of mercy; but return in sad echoes, and add even to the very horrors of hell! could I thus set before you the different ends of religion and infidelity, you would want no other proof to convince you, that nothing can recompense the hazard men run of being for ever miserable through unbelief.”
You may make yourselves merry with these representations ;(8) but you should not laugh where you ought to be serious; vaunt where you should tremble;
(8) When Buckingham was once talking profanely before Charles II. Waller reproved him by saying, “ My lord, I am a great deal older than your grace, and I believe have heard more arguments for atheism than ever your grace did ; but I have lived long enough to see there is nothing in them, and so I hope your grace will."
We have an account of a man of very distinguished talents, well known for the laxity of his principles, and the licentiousness of his conduct, who died lately at a very advanced age. He bore
In these respects you are unquestionably to blame. If any thing in nature is of importance, it is surely how we may" escape the death which never dies, and attain the end of our creation.-Walsingham judged like a man of şense, when he said to the merry courtiers laughing on every hand of him :-“ Ah! while we laugh, all things are serious round about us; God is serious, who preserveth us, and hath patience towards us ; Christ is serious, who shed his blood for us ; the Holy Ghost is serious, when he striveth with us; the whole creation is serious in serving God and us; they are serious in hell and in heaven; how then can we laugh and be foolish?” We believe these denunciations of Scripture to be the words of eternal truth; and till you have demonstrated them to be certainly false, you are not wise to treat them with disregard.
or sneer where
the advances of dissolution tolerably well, while death seemed at some distance; but when death drew near, his atheistic principles gave way, and he was amicted with the most excruciating mental pangs. When he stood on the brink of eternity all his resolution forsook him. Though free from pain he became restless and disturbed. His last hours were spent in the agonies and horrors of remorse.
He cried for mercy to that God, whoni he had wantonly denied; and there let him rest till the day of account.
The deistical roadcı oliould turinto the seventh section of Priestley's Observations on the Increase of Infidelity, where he will find the spirit of infidelity exemplified in the correspondence between Voltaire and D'Alembert. The resolution of these two deists was to live and die laughing. That they lived laughing, is partly true; but how did these gentlemen die? The tune was changed!
This too was the case with the witty and facetious Brown, who used to treat religion very lightly, and would often say, that he understood the world better, than to have the imputation of righteousness laid to his charge. Nevertheless, upon the approach of death, his heart misgave him, and he began to express sentiments of remorse for his past life. Thus we see, however men may bully and defy the devil at coffee-houses and taverns, they are all the while secretly afraid of him, and dare scarcely venture themselves alone in the dark, for fear he should surprise. them with his cloven feet.
" What none can prove a forg'ry may be true ;
What none but bad men wish exploded, must." You know what pain of body is, and you are no stranger to a greater or less degree of uneasiness of mind. -Experience, therefore, teaches us, that we are capable of such uncomfortable sensations. The goodness of God is not of that nature to prevent human misery. The present state largely abounds therewith. Now, as pain and misery are permitted here, it is not improbable they will be the same in the future state of existence. When only your head or tooth aches; when the gout, stone, or gravel, seize burning fever makes your moisture like the drought in summer; do you then despise pain and anguish ? When Mirabeau, was seized(9) with his last illness, he found himself so distressed, that he desired his physician to dispatch him by poison. His voice hav
you; or when a
(9) Mirabeau has frequently been stiled an infidel. I dare not however, suppose that he was any other than a Christian though possibly of a peculiar cast. If one may judge from his speech, pronounced in the National Assembly of France, on the 14th of January, 1791, concerning the civil constitution of the clergy, he was certainly a believer in the Saviour of mankind, and a most powerful advocate for regenerated christianity. It is probable, that he would have carried it no further than a sort of pure system of moral philosophy:
Speaking of this extraordinary genius brings to my mind a remarkable paper. which was published in the month of October 1764, on the Causes of the Decline of the French Nation. The latter part is so extremely applicable to the present state of Europe, that one can scarcely consider it as any other than prophetic: The close runs thus :
“ The parliaments of France are obliged to conceal the strong spirit of liberty with which they are inflamed, under the mask of loyalty, and of attachment to the monarchy. They remonstrate with force and elevation against every measure that tends to the prejudice of the provinces they protect. They can go no further; but they await the moment to strike the blow that shall lay the fabric of despotism in ruins. When this blow is struck, the effects of it will be equal to those of magic. The cottage will be put on a level with the palace; the peasant with the prince. Ranks shall be confounded ; titles, distinctions, and birth, shall tumble into an undistinguished heap of confusion. A new moral creation shall strike the view of an astonished and admiring universe;
and France, like old Rome, in her first flights to empire, shall appear with the sceptre of universal dominion bourgeoning in her hands. Out of universal confusion, order shall arise : the great of nature's creating will assume their places: and the great by title and accident, will drop despised into the common mass of the people.”
The French revolution is a most amazing and tremendous event, and will probably be a mean of new-modelling the face of Europe, if not of the whole world. The efforts that extraordinary people are making in the arts and sciences, are as vigorous as those they are making in war. The Governor of the universe has formed them for great parposes, both of judgment and mercy; of judgment to the present race of men; of mercy to the genera. tions which follow. This, however, we know, in every event of things, it shall be well with them that fear the Lord.
The serious Christian will remember that these are the days of vengeance for the innocent blood that was shed in France under the predecessors of the late unfortunate king. He acquitted hiniself extremely well in the last trying scenes of his life; but he was a main support of the beast; and died a determined Catholic: not knowing that this was one of the main causes of his destruc. tion. The doctrine of retaliation, though little attended to in ge. neral, is an undoubted law of God's kingdom in the government of the world. A moral governor must be morally just. " He that sheddeth man's blood by man shall his blood be shed.” The French philosophers have been nearly as cruel to the clergy of France during the revolution, as the clergy, at different periods, were to the Protestants. We are crying out against the wickedness and cruelty of the present governors of that kingdom, but we forge that the kings, bishops, clergy, nobles, and gentry of the land, played the same game, and acted the same tragedy, not very many years ago. It is the Lord's controversy for the blood of his ser
Burnet was in France at the time of the horrible persecution of the Protestants under Lewis XIV.
“ I do not think,” says he, " that in any age, there ever was such a violation of all that is sacred, either with relation to God or man; and what I saw and knew there from the first hand, hath so confirmed all the ideas that I had taken from books, of the cruelty of that religion, that I hope the impression that this hath made upon me, shall never end but with my life. From the circumstances of it, it may be well termed, the act of the whole clergy of France.”