« הקודםהמשך »
immortal existence. Difficulties, cares, and sorrows, are placed along the path of life, to remind us that the world is not our home, not our final, nor perfect state of being; to prevent us from fixing our affections on the fascinating pleasures which here attract us; and to prompt us to direct our desires, our honours, and our exertions, to the attainment of that state, where all our powers will be perfected, and all our joys consummated for ever. This glorious and eternal existence is to be the reward only of faith, of piety, and of virtue, which have been improved and established by discipline and trial. This, then, is the gracious design of the cares and sorrows that assail us. They tend to purify our nature ; to make us humble, holy, and submissive to the will of our heavenly Father; to strengthen our faith, our patience, and our virtue; and thus to make us “meet for the inheritance of the saints in light "." Still, the beneficent Being who made us, did not make us to be miserable even in that world which he has assigned us as a probation for our final home. Joys are to be found in it, sufficiently numerous and exalted, to cheer our spirits in this dark and imperfect pilgrimage, and to fill our hearts with gratitude to that Almighty Being, who, in our passage through this state of trial to the glories of his presence,
opens his hand," and satisfies us with good.
m Col. i. 12.
What then are the lessons which this estimate of human life should teach us?
We should learn to enjoy its innocent pleasures with moderation, lest they disqualify us for the perfect joys of our future existence; and with submission, knowing how uncertain the tenure is by which we hold them. We should learn to bear its sorrows with patience and resignation; knowing thạt they are designed to improve our nature, and to prepare us for future bliss. And, above all, this view of the mixture of good and evil, of pleasure and pain, in the present life, should excite us to secure a title to that perfect and glorious existence, for which our present state is a probation. This is the dictate of true wisdom. He who devotes himself supremely to enjoyments incapable of affording him full felicity, as uncertain as they are unsatisfying, and, when carried to excess, criminal and degrading; who, compelled to encounter the trials and sorrows of the world, does not direct his desires and affections to that state of blessedness from which all sorrow is excluded; who lives in a world which he must soon leave (strange that he should ever forget this), as if he were never to leave it, and destined for an immortal existence, neglects to make this existence the object of his thoughts, of his solicitude, of his supreme exertions-acts a part as absurd as it is criminal. He does not, he cannot gain the world, and he loses his own soul.
Let us act, brethren, worthy of the dignity of our nature, and of our final destiny. Placed in a state of trial and discipline, for an existence that never ends; and furnished with the grace and mercy of our God and Saviour, to guide and defend us through the changes and sorrows that surround us, while we thankfully, and with pious moderation, enjoy the blessings which our heavenly Father and Benefactor vouchsafes to us, let it be our supreme care to secure those pleasures which only are without alloy, and that bliss which only never fades. And regarding this uncertain and imperfect world as only a pilgrimage to a better, let “our hearts surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found.” And do thou, “O God, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, increase and multiply upon us thy grace and mercy, that thou, being our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake our Lord.”
THE SHORTNESS AND UNCERTAINTY OF LIFE.
LUKE xii. 20.
This night thy soul shall be required of thee.
This was the summons to the rich
who was at ease in his possessions. And, my brethren, it is our wisdom to consider it as addressed to each one of us. For it is possible, as it regards each individual whom I now address, that--this night his soul may be required of him.
Let each one present reflect, how many of those with whom he has been connected by the ties of friendship, or of kindred, or associated in the plans of business, or of pleasure, have been arrested in the midst of health and prosperity, by sickness and death, and he will need no arguments to convince him of the shortness and uncertainty of life,
What effect should the consideration of the
shortness and uncertainty of life produce upon us, in reference
To our pursuits ;
Lastly, to the important subject of our eternal salvation.
In reference to our pursuits
The consideration of the shortness and uncertainty of life, should teach us wisdom in the selection of them, and also diligence, but, at the same time, moderation in our devotion to them.
If the period be short, and the number of the days few, in which we can be employed with any of the pursuits of the world, it is an obvious dictate of wisdom, that we devote ourselves to those . by which we may best advance our own comfort and happiness and promote the general good. These are among the objects for which the gracious Author of our being hath placed us in the world- not for those selfish and frivolous occupations which, however they may amuse or gratify our imaginations and passions, promote not our substantial peace; but for those which dignify our nature, while they advance our own comfort and add to the sum of general felicity. This diligence in some of the useful callings of the world, is powerfully enforced by the consideration of the shortness and uncertainty of the period