« VorigeDoorgaan »
blessed. Whom was St. Paul to know ? even the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come those whom he was to present perfect in Christ forth; they that have done good, unto the reJesus. Concerning the reprobate and rejected, surrection of life; and they that have done evil, whether they will not be banished from the pre- unto the resurrection of damnation.- John v. sence of God, and from all their former relations; 28, 29. whether they will not be lost, as to all happiness of their own, so to the knowledge of those who These words are so important, that if Jesus knew them in this mortal state, we have, from Christ had never delivered any other, if he had Scripture, no assurance or intimation whatever. come into the world and pronounced only this One thing seems to follow with probability from simple declaration, and proved the truth and certhe nature of the thing, namely, that if the wicked tainty of it by the miracles which he wrought, he be known to one another in a state of perdition, would have left enough to have guided his followtheir knowledge will only serve to aggravate their ers to everlasting happiness : he would have done misery.
more towards making mankind virtuous and What then is the inference from all this? Do happy, than all the teachers and all the wisdom, we seek, do we covet earnestly to be restored to that ever appeared upon earth, had done before the society of those who were once near and dear him. We should each and every one of us have to us, and who are gone before ?—It is only by owed more to him for this single piece of intellileading godly lives that we can hope to have this gence, than we owe to our parents, our dearest wish accomplished. Should we prefer, to all de- friend, or the best benefactor we have. This text lights, to all pleasures in the world, the satisfac- is the poor man's creed. It is his religion : it is tion of meeting again in happiness and peace, to be imprinted upon his memory, and upon his those whose presence, whilst they were among us, heart: it is what the most simple can understand: made up the comfort and enjoyinent of our lives it is what, when understood and believed, excels --It must be, by giving up our sins, by parting all the knowledge and learning in the universe: with our criminal delights and guilty pursuits, it is what we are to carry about with us in our that we can ever expect to attain this satisfaction. thoughts; daily remember and daily reflect upon; Is there a great difference between the thought of remember not only at church, not only in our delosing those we love for ever; of taking at their votions, or in our set meditations, but in our budeaths or our own an eternal farewell, never to siness, our pleasures, in whatever we intend, plan, see them more—and the reflection that we are or execute, whatever we think about, or whatever about to be separated, for a few years at the long- we set about; remember, that “they that have est, to be united with them in a new and better done good, shall come unto the resurrection of life; state of mutual existence? Is there, I say, a dif- they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of ference to the heart of man between these two damnation.” things ? and does it not call upon us to strive with Reflect what great things this short sentence redoubled endeavours, that the case truly may contains. It teaches us, beyond contradiction, turn out so ? The more and more we reflect upon that all does not end here: that our happiness or the difference between the consequences of a lewd, misery is not over at our death ; that a new state unthinking, careless, profane, dishonest life, and a of things will begin with every one of us, and that life of religion, sobriety, seriousness, good actions in a short time. This point, I say, our Saviour and good principles, the more we shall see the proves beyond contradiction and how does he madness and stupidity of the one, and the true prove it?' By healing the sick, by restoring sight solid wisdom of the other. This is one of the dis- to the blind, by raising the dead, by various astinctions. If we go on in our sins, we are not to tonishing and incontestible miracles; and above expect to awaken to a joyful meeting with our all, by coming himself to life again, after being friends, and relatives, and dear connexions. If we three days dead and buried, he proved that God turn away from our sins, and take up religion in Almighty was with him; that he came from God; earnest, we may. My brethren, religion disarms that he knew what passed in the other world even death. It disarms it of that which is its bit- that he had God's own authority to say and terness and its sting, the power of dividing those promise this to mankind. Upon the faith and who are dear to one another. But this blessing, trust of this promise, we know that we shall rise like every blessing which it promises, is only to again ; all are equally assured of it, from the the just and good, to the penitent and reformed, highest to the lowest. Wise and learned men to those who are touched at the heart with a sense thought indeed the same thing before; they conof its importance; who know thoroughly and excluded it to be so from probable argument and perimentally, who feel in their inward mind and reasonings; but this was not like having it, as we consciences, that religion is the only course that have it, from God himself; or, what is just the can end well; that can bring either them or theirs same thing, from the mouth of a person, to whom to the presence of God, blessed for evermore; that God gave witness by signs and wonders, and can cause them, after the toils of life and struggles mighty deeds. They were far short of our cerof death are over, to meet again in a joyful deli- tainty, who did study it the deepest. There verance from the grave; in a new and never were but few who could study or comprehend it ceasing happiness, in the presence and society of at all. Blessed be God, we are all informed, we one another.
are all, from the most learned to the most ignorant, made sure and certain of it.
Having then this great doctrine secured, that
we shall all come again into a new world and a SERMON XXXV.
new life, the next great point which every serious THE GENERAL RESURRECTION.
mind will turn to, the second grand question
to be asked is, who are to be happy, and who will The hour is coming, in the which all that are in be miserable in that other state? The text satis
fies us completely upon this head. You ask, who opportunities are too small and straitened to think shall come to the resurrection of life? The text of doing good. - You do not sufficiently reflect replies, they that have done good. Observe well, what doing good is. You are apt to confine the and never forget this answer. It is not the wise, notion of it to giving to others, and giving liberalthe learned, the great, the honoured, the professor ly. This, no doubt, is right and meritorious; but of this or that doctrine, the member of this church, it is certainly not in every man's power; comparaor the maintainer of that article of faith, but he tively speaking, it is indeed in the power of very that doeth good; he, of whatever quality or con- few. But doing good is of a much more general dition, who strives honestly to make his life of nature; and is in a greater or less degree practiservice to those about him; to be useful in his cable by all; for, whenever we make one human calling, and to his generation; to his family, to his creature happier or better than he would have neighbourhood, and, according to his ability, to been without our help, then we do good; and, his country, and to mankind—“ he that doeth when we do this from a proper motive, that is, good.” All the rest, without this, goes for no- with a sense and a desire of pleasing God by doing thing: though he understand the things of religion it, then we do good in the true sense of the text, ever so well, or believe ever so rightly; though he and of God's gracious promise. Now let every cry, Lord, Lord; be he ever so constant and de- one, in particular, reflect, whether, in this sense, vout in his prayers, or talk ever so much, or so he has not some good in his power: some within well, or so earnestly for religion; unless he do his own doors, to his family, his children, his good; unless his actions, and dealings, and beha- kindred; by his labour, his authority, his example; viour come up to his knowledge and his discourse, by bringing them up, and keeping them in the correspond with his outward profession and belief, way of passing their lives honestly, and quietly, it will avail him nothing; he is not the man and usefully: "What good more important, more to whom Jesus Christ hath promised in the text, practicable than this is? Again, something may that he shall come to the resurrection of life. The be done beyond our own household: by acts of issue of life and death is put upon our conduct tenderness and kindness, of help and compassion and behaviour; that is, made the test we are to be to our neighbours. Not a particle of this will be tried by.
lost. It is all set down in the book of life; and Again: When we read in Scripture, when we happy are they who have much there. And again, know from positive and undoubted authority, that if any of us be really sorry that we have not só misery and destruction, ruin, torment, and dam- much in our power as we would desire, let us nation, are reserved for some, it is surely the most remember this short rule, that since we can do natural, the most interesting of all inquiries, to little good, to take care that we do no harm. Let know for whom.—The text tells us, "for them us show our sincerity by our innocence; that, at that have done evil."
least, is always in our power. Here let the timorous conscience take courage. Finally, Let us reflect, that in the habitations It is not any man's errors, or ignorance; his want of life are many mansions; rewards of various orof understanding, or education, or ability, that ders and degrees, proportioned to our various dewill be laid to his charge at the day of judgment, grees of virtue and exertion here. "He that or that will bring him into danger of the damna- soweth plenteously, shall reap plenteously." We tion which the Gospel threatens; it is having can never do too much; never be too earnest in done eril ; having wilfully gone about to disobey doing good; because every good action here will, what he knew to be the will and command of his we are certain, be an addition of happiness hereCreator
, by committing mischief, and doing wrong after; will advance us to a better condition in the and injury to his fellow-creatures.
life to come, whatever be our lot or success in this. Let the bold and presumptuous sinner hear this God will not fail of his promise. He hath comtext with fear and trembling. Let him who cares missioned his beloved Son to tell us, that they not what misery he occasions, what evil and harm that have done good shall enter into the resurreche does, if he can but compass his purpose, carry tion of life. Let us humbly and thankfully accept his own end, or serve his wicked lusts and plea- his gracious offer. We have but one business in sures; let him, I say, be given to understand, what this world. It is to strive to make us worthy of a he has to look for; “ he that doeth evil shall come better. Whatever this trial may cost us,-how to the resurrection of damnation ;" this is absolute, long, how earnestly, how patiently soever,final, and peremptory; here is no exception, no through whatever difficulties, --by whatever toils excuse, no respect of person or condition. we endeavour to obey and please our Maker, we
They that have done good, shall come again are supported in them by this solid and never unto the resurrection of life. But, alas! I hear ceasing consolation, “that our labour is not in you say, What good can I do? my means and my I vain in the Lord."
fies us completely upon this head. You ask, who opportunities are too small and