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as a consciousness of their own existence! That they are in a dead sleep from death to the resurrection ! Consanguineus lethi sopor indeed! Such a sleep we may call a near kinsman of death, if it be not the same thing. What can we say, but that ingenious men bave strange dreams; and these they sometimes mistake for realities!
11. But to return. As the soul will retain its understanding and memory, notwithstanding the dissolution of the body, so undoubtedly the will, including all the affections, will remain in its full vigour. If our love or anger, our hope or desire, perish, it is only with regard to those whom we leave behind. To them it matters pot, whether they were the objects of our love or hate, of our desire or aversion. But in separate spirits themselves, we have no reason to believe that any of these are extinguished. It is more probable, that they work with far greater force, than while the soul was clogged with flesh and blood.
12. But although all these, although both our knowledge and senses, our memory and understanding, together with our will, our love, hate, and all our affections, remain after the body is dropped off; yet, in this respect, they are as though they were not, -we are no longer stewards of them. The things continue, but our stewardship does not: we no more act in that capacity. Even the Grace which was formerly entrusted with us, in order to enable us to be faithful and wise stewards, is now no longer entrusted for that purpusc. The days of our stewardship are ended.
III. 1. It now remains, that being no longer stewards, we give an Account of our Stewardship. Some have imagined, this is to be done immediately after death, as soon as we enter into the world of spirits. Nay, the Church of Rome does absolutely assert this; yea, makes it an article of faith. And thus much we may allow, the moment a soul drops the body, and stands naked before God, it cannot but know what its portion will be to all eternity. It will have full in its view, either everlasting joy, or everlasting torment; as it is no longer possible for us to be deceived in the judgment which we pass upon ourselves. But the Scriptnrc gives us no reason to believe, that God will then sit in judgment upon us. There is no passage in all the Oracles of God, which affirms any such thing. That which has been frequently alleged for this purposc, seems rather to prove the contrary; namely, (Heb. ix. 27,) " It is appointed for men onće to die, aņd after this the judgment :” For, in all reason, the word " oncc” is here to be applied to judgment as well as death. So that the fair inference to be drawn from this very text, is, not that there are tio judgments, a particular and a general; but that we are to be judged as well as to dic, once only : not once immediately after death, and again after the general resurrection ; but then only “ when the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him." The imagination therefore of one judgment at death, and another at the end of thc prorld, can Jave no place with those who make the written word of God the whole and sole standard of their faith.
2. The time then when we are to give this account, is, when the “ great wbite throne comes down from heaven, and He that sittcth thereon, from whose face the heavens and the carth flee away, and there is found no place for them.” It is then “the dead, small and great, will stand before God; and the books will be opened: ”- the book of Scripture, to them who were entrusted therewith; the book of Conscience, to all mankind. The “book of Remembrance," likewise, (to use mother scriptural expression,) which had been writing from the foundation of the world, will then be laid open to the view of all the children of men. Before all these, even the whole human race, before the Devil and his angels, before an innumerable company of holy angels, and before God the Judge of all, thou wilt appear, without any shelter or covering, without any possibility of disguise, to give a particular account of the manner whcrein thou hast employed all thy Lord's goods!
3. The Judge of all will then inquire, 'Howy didst thou employ thy Soul ? I entrusted thce with an immortal spirit, endowed with various powers and faculties, with understanding, imagination, memory, will, affections. I gave thee withal full and express directions, how all these were to be employed. Didst thou employ thy understanding, as far as it was capable, according to those directions; namely, in the kuowledge of thyself and Me?-my nature, my izttributes :—my works; whether of creation, of providence, or of grace?-in acquainting thyself with my Word ?-in using every means to increase thy knowledge thereof?-in meditating thereon day and night? Didst thou employ thy memory, according to my Will, in treasuring up whatever knowledge thou hadst acquired, which might conduce to my glory, to thy own salvation, or the advantacofolliciu? Didet thou store up therein, not things
of no valne, but whatever instruction ihou hadst learned from my Word; and whatever experience thou hadst gained of my wisdom, truth, power, and mercy ? Was thy imagination employed, not in painting vain images, much less such as nourished “ foolish and hurtful desires;” but in representing to thee whatever would profit thy soul, and awaken thy pursuit of wisdom and holiness? Didst thou follow my directions with regard to thy will? Was it wholly given up to me? Was it swallowed up in mine, so as never to oppose, but always run parallel with it ? Were thy affections placed and regulated in such a manner, as I appointed in my Word ? Didst thou give me thy heart ? Didst thou not love the world, weither the things of the world? Was I the object of thy love ? Was all thy desire unto me, and unto the remembrance of my name? Was I the joy of thy heart, the delight of thy soul, the chief among ten thousand? Didst thou sorrow for pothing, but what grieved my Spirit ? Didst thou fear and hate nothing but sin? Did the whole stream of thy affections flow back to the ocean from whence they came ? Were thy thoughts employed according to my will ? Not in ranging to the ends of the earth; not on folly, or sin; but on "whatsoever things were pure, whatsoerer things rere holy;” on whatsoever was conducive to my glory, and to “peace and good will among men ? ".
4. Thy Lord will then inquire, "How didst thou employ the Body wherewith I entrusted thee? I gave thee a tongue to praise, me therewith: Didst thou use it to the end for which it was given ? Didst thou employ it, not in evil-speaking or idle-speaking, not in uncharitable or unprofitable conversation; but in such as was good, as was necessary or useful either to thyself or others ? Such as always tended, directly or indirectly, to“ minister grace to the hearers ?” I gave thee, to. gether with thy other senses, those grand avenues of knowledge, sight and hearing: were these employed to those excellent purposes for which they were bestowed upon thee? In bringing thec in more and more instruction in righteousness and true holiness? I gave the hands and feet, and various members, wherewith to perform the works which were prepared for thee: Avere they employed, not in doing “the will of the flesh,” of thy evil nature; or the will of thic mind; (the things to which thy reason or fancy led thee;) but “the will of Him that sent" thee into the world, merely to work out thy own salvation? Didnt thou prescut all thy members, not to sin, as instruments of uurigbicousness, but to Me alone, through the Son of my Love," as instruments of righteousness ?”
5. The Lord of all will next inquire, ' How didst thou employ the worldly goods which I lodged in thy hands? Didst thou use thy food, not so as to seek or place thy happiness therein, but so as to preserve the body in health, in strength, and vigour, a fit instrument for the soul ? Didst thou use apparel, not to nourish priile or vanity, much less to tempt others to sin, but conveniently and decently to defend thyself from the injuries of the weather? Didst thou prepare and use thy house, and all other conveniences, with a single cye to my glory? In cvery point seeking not thy own honour, but mine; studying to please not thyself, but Me? Once more: In what manner didst thou employ that comprehensive talent, money? Not in gratifying the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life ? Not squandering it away in vain expenses, the same as throwing it into the sea ? Not hoarding it up to leare behind thee, the same as burying it in the earth? But first supplying thy own reasonable wants, together with those of thy family; then restoring the remainder to me, through the poor, whom I had appointed to receive it ; looking upon thyself as only one of that number of poor, whose wants were to be supplied out of that part of my substance which I had placed in thy hands for this purpose; leaving thee the right of being supplied first, and the blessedness of giving rather than receiving ? Wast thou accordingly a general benefactor to mankind ? Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sick, assisting the stranger, relieving the afflicted, according to their various necessities? Wast thou eyes to the blind, and feet to the lane? A father to the fatherless, and an husband to the widow? And didst thou labour to improve all outward works of mercy, as means of saving souls from death ?'
6. Thy Lord will farther inquire, ‘Hast thou been a wise and faithful Steward, with regard to the talents of a Mixed Nature which I lent thee? Didst thou employ thy health and strength, not in folly or sin, not in the pleasures which perished in the using, “not in making provision for the fiesh, to fulfil the desires thereof; " but in a vigorous pursuit of that better part which none could take away from thee? Didst thou er.sploy whatever was pleasing in thy person or address, what
ever advantages thou hadst by education, whatever share of learning, whatever knowledge of things or men, was committed to thee, for the promoting of virtue in the world, for the enlargement of my kingdon ? Didst thou employ whatever share of power thou hadst, whatever influence over others, by the love or esteem of thee which they had conceived, for the increase of their wisdom and holiness ? Didst thou employ that inestimable talent of time, with wariness and circumspection, as duly weighing the value of every moment, and knowing that all were numbered in eternity ? Above all, wast thou a good Steward of my grace, preventing, accompanying, and following thee? Didst thou duly observe, and carefully improve, all the influences of my Spirit ? Every good desire ? Every nicasure of light ? All his sharp or gentle reproofs ? How didst thou profit by “the Spirit of bondage and fear,” which was previous to “the Spirit of adoption ?" And when thou wast made a partaker of this Spirit, crying in thy heart “ Abba, Father,” didst thou stand fast in the glorious liberty wherewith I made thee free? Didst thou from thenceforth present thy soul and body, all thy thoughts, thy words, and actions, in one flame of love, as a holy sacrifice, glorifying me with thy body and thy spirit ? Then“ well done, good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord !”.
And what will remain, either to the faithful or unfaithful Steward ? Nothing but the execution of that sentence, which has been passed by the righteous Judge; fixing thee in a state which admits of no change, through everlasting ages! It remains only, that thou be rewarded, to all eternity, according to thy works.
IV. J. From these plain considerations we may learn, first, How important is this short, uncertain day of life! How precious, above all utterance, above all conception, is every portion of it!
'The least of these a serious care demands:
For though they are little, they are golden sands!" How deeply does it concern every child of man, to let none of these run to waste; but to improve them all to the noblest purposes, as long as the breath of God is in his nostrils !
2. We learn from hence, secondly, That there is no employment of our time, no action or conversation, that is purely indifferent. All is good or bad, because all our time, as every