תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

from Heaven, and if we cannot merit this treasure, which is above all price, we will therefore turn our backs on all the commandments of our God, will blaspheme his holy name, will treat the orders of his house, his sanctuary and worship with contempt, will practice every abomination, and will teach our children to do the same! This is not “laying aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, it is not running the race which is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set hefore him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God.

How can we be the disciples of Jesus, unless we are furnished with his spirit of wisdom and love ? Can we walk in his steps, do the will of our father in Heaven, patiently suffer for righteousness sake, love our enemies, and pray for them, from a different principle from that which actuated him? If he was not induced by a principle of terror, is it not erroneous to depend on such a principle ? In room of facilitating the christian race, does not this principle retard it? If the principle of fear were a sufficient incentive to move us in the duties of the christian profession, is it not plain that that love which “ casteth out fear” would be of dangerous tendency ? “He that feareth is not made perfect in love." “If ye love me,” says the blessed Jesus, “ keep my commandments.”

To conclude : It seems a proper enquiry, in settling the mind on our general subject, whether there be, or be not, in the natural qualities of the christian profession and duties, a value, in relation to the happiness of its votary, sufficient to amount to a reasonable inducement to attend to all its requirements ?

If, on careful and due examination it be found, that the duties required by the religion of Jesus, do not contain in themselves, such qualities as will afford a reasonable compensation to the faithful in

them, then it must be granted that propriety requires that some other compensation should be allowed. But should the case be so decided, it would involve another question, viz: who is so much more benefited by those duties as to render it just for him to make up this supposed want ? To be plain, if our heavenly father requires duties of us, which services are not of themselves sufficiently productive of our benefit to afford a reasonable compensation for our trouble, is he so much benefited by them as to render it just and proper that he should grant the addition required ? This can never be allowed. But surely somebody must be benefited enough by these christian duties to render it proper that they should be at the expense of them. Any thing that will not pay its own expenses, proves a want of wisdom in him who planned it.

If the scripture representation be allowed, this question is easily decided. “In keeping thy commandments there is great reward.6. This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous."

If righteousness here render it proper that we receive a compensation for it, that is not found in it, how are we to be recompensed for a life of righteousness in a future state? It seems that these queries must satisfy the rational mind, that goodness is its own reward—that righteousness is to be valued for its own intrinsic worth. And if we are correct in this conclusion, it follows of necessary consequence, that unrighteousness is to be avoided for its own natural qualities, which are every way repugnant to our felicity. Could we all be fully persuaded that these things are so, it is reasonable to calculate that all would be pressing into this kingdom of righteousness, as it is to be supposed that men will part with what they dislike, for that which they love and highly prize.

All traffic is ventured on this principle. The purchaser never buys with a design to loose by

his bargain. The merchant ventures his thousands at a foreign market on the calculation that his wares are so much wanted where he sends them, that they will bring from thence what to him is of greater value. The vicious will part with their vice when they are persuaded that virtue is better. Go offer a wicked man a suit of the best of clothing, if he will part with his rags, he will take you at your word. Why? because he knows he is a gainer by it. Why will he not part with his sins for righteousness? Because he believes as he has been taught, that righteousness will not pay its way, and that in order to be happy here he must live a sinful life.

May it please God, my friends, to incline our hearts to his "commandment which is a lamp,”and to his “ law which is a light.” And let us run with patience the race which is set before us, looking unto Jesus as a perfect model for imitation.

Let us practice our sentiment in all our relations in life. As companions, as parents, as children, as neighbours, as citizens, and as belonging to the great family of man, made of one blood, and as children of our Father who is in Heaven, whose tender mercies are over all his works, to whom be glory for ever, through him who loved us, and hath washed us froin our sins in his own blood.

[ocr errors]

SERMON III.

RICH MAN AND LAZARUS.

DELIVERED AT THE SECOND UNIVERSALIST MEETING HOUSE IN

BOSTON.

ST. LUKE xvi. 19-31. * There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine

linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table : moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.--And it came to

pass

that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's busoin : the rich man also died, and was buried ; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue ; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And, beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed : so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot : neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee, therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house, for I have five brethren ; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, they have Moses and the prophets ; let them hear them.

And he said, nay, father Abraham : but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said anto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."

That the letter of this passage is familiar to the mind of the hearer, no doubt is entertained ; but that the right sense and true meaning of the text are as generally understood, is very much to be doubted.

In treating on this subject, the following method will serve to direct our researches :

I. The current opinion and common use of this portion of our Saviour's words, will be laid before the hearer.

JI. This current opinion and common use of the text will be disproved by the divine testimony:And,

III. The true sense of the text will be sought and illustrated, in as plain a manner as our ability and opportunity will permit.

On our first proposition little needs to be said, as the current opinion and common use of our text is familiar to the hearer.

The current opinion may be said to embrace the following particulars. Ist. That our Saviour, in this text, spake no parable, but gave a plain, literal account of the different situations and circumstances of a rich man and a beggar, first in this world, and secondly in a future state of existence. 2d. That the beggar literally died, and was carried by angels into a state of eternal blessedness, called in the text, Abraham's bosom. 3d. That the rich man also died a natural death, and went into a state of endless torment. In this situation he sees Abraham afar off in heaven, with Lazarus in his bosom, and makes his request for a drop of water, and is denied. 4th. That the gulf between Abraham and the rich man, is the distance which heaven and hell are from each other, which will eternally remain, and never be passed.

The common use which is made of this portion of scripture, is to support and confirm the opinion of endless punishment in a future staté, for sins committed in this natural life, and particularly for the sins of luxurious living, and the neglect of the poor.

Believers in the doctrine of endless punishment resort to this passage as to a place of security, and as an impregnable bulwark. Here they maintain that God, who is good and kind to sinners in this world, will be utterly unmerciful to them in the world to come. That Jesus, the friend and redeemer of sinners, will have, in the next state of existence, no compassion. And saints, who in this world pray most sincerely for the conversion and salvation of sinners, will then feel no desires in their favour. As Abraham acknowledged the rich man in hell to be his son, yet would grant hini

« הקודםהמשך »