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the universe, into the city of God, the chief seat of their Father's kingdom. They have every reason to believe, that the objects which are to meet them there, how new and unknown soever, shall all be propitious and friendly. For into the kingdom of his Father, their Lord has declared that he is entered as their forerunner. I go to my Father, and your Father ; to my God, and your God. In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. What reasonings, what speculations, can have power to impart so much peace to the dying man, as a promise so direct and explicit, coming from him, who is truth itself, and cannot lie. If it were not so, I would have told you. * The prospect becomes still more cheering and relieving, when we include
The other circumstances mentioned in the text; the society to be enjoyed in that future state of being. With you I shall drink of the fruit of the vine in my Father's kingdom. In how amiable a light does our Şaviour here appear, looking forward to a future reunion with those beloved friends, whom he was now leaving, as to a circumstance which should increase both his own felicity and theirs, when they met again in a happier world! Thus, in a most affectionate manner, cheering their drooping and dejected spirits ; and by a similar prospect providing for the comfort of his followers in future generations, when they should be about to leave the world.
The expressions in the text plainly suggest a joyful intercourse among friends, who had been separated
* John, xiv. 2.
by death, and therefore seem to give much confirmation, to what has always been a favourite hope of good men; that friends shall know and recognise each other, and renew their former connections, in a future state of existence. How many pleasing prospects does such an intimation open to the mind! How much does it tend to compensate the vanity of life, and to mitigate the sorrows of death! For it is not to be denied, that one of the most bitter circumstances attending death, is, the final separation from beloved friends. This is apt equally to wring the hearts of the dying, and the surviving; and it is an anguish of that sort, which descends most deeply into the virtuous and worthy breast. When, surrounded with an affectionate family, and weeping friends, a good man is taking his last adieu of all whom he held most dear on earth ; when, with a feeble voice, he is giving them his blessing, before he leaves them for ever; when; for the last time, he beholds the countenance; he touches the hand, he hears the voice, of the
person nearest his heart; who could bear this bitterness of grief, if no support were to be ministered by religious hope? if there were no voice to whisper to our spirits, that hereafter we, and those whom we love, shall meet again in a more blissful land? - What higher view can possibly be given of the benefit redounding from this divine institution, than its affording us consolation in such situations of extreme distress by realising to our souls the belief of an immortal state, in which all the virtuous and worthy shall be ré-united in the presence of their common Lord ?
Thus I have set before you many considerations, arising from the sacrament of our Lord's Supper,
which render it a proper preparation not only for a good life, but for a comfortable and happy death. The great improvement to be made of the subject is, to bring to the altar of God such dispositions of heart, as may give us ground to hope for this blessed effect. Let us approach to the sacrament with the same seriousness of frame, as if it were the last time we were ever to partake of it; as if we were now making provision for a journey to that land whence none return, as if we were never to drink, in this manner, of the fruit of the vine, until that day when we drink it with those whom we have loved in our Father's kingdom. God only knows to whom this may be truly spoken! God knows who, of this assembly, shall never have opportunity to approach again to the sacred table, and to meet with their brethren, on such an occasion, in the courts of the Lord's house! - Whatever our doom is to be, whether we are appointed for life or for death, such is the frame of mind which now best becomes, and will most improve us in partaking of the holy sacrament.
Let me caution you before I conclude, against judging of the propriety of your disposition, in this solemn act of worship, solely by the warmth of your affections and the fervour of
devotion. This state of heart, how desirable soever it may be, cannot be at all times possessed. It depends, in some measure, on natural sensibility. All are not equally endowed with warm and tender feelings. Even they who are susceptible of the highest degrees of pious and virtuous sensibility, cannot, on every occasion, command that happy temperature of mind. We are not, therefore, to judge unfavourably of ourselves,
if this be not always the privilege of our devotions. It is chiefly a sedate and composed frame of spirit, that we must study to cultivate ; arising from grave and sober thoughts; from serious and penitent recollection of past errours; from good purposes for the future; and from a deep sense of the approaching events of death and immortality. Penetrated with such dispositions, you have ground to come to the altar of God with humble trust and joy ; under the belief, that you are approaching, through the great Redeemer, to that merciful Creator, to whom, in the high and holy place of eternity, the devout aspirations of his servants on earth are ever acceptable and pleasing.
On the Use and ABUSE of the WORLD.
1 CORINTHIANS, vii. 31.
- They that use this world, as not abusing it.
THE world is always represented in Scripture as the great scene of trial to a Christian.
It sets before him a variety of duties, which are incumbent on him to perform; and, at the same time, surrounds him with many dangers, against which he has to guard. The part which is proper for him to act, may be comprised in these two expressive words of the text; using the world, and not abusing it; the significancy and extent of which, I propose now to explain. The subject is of the higher importance, as in the world we must live: and according as we use, or abuse it, it will prove either our friend or our greatest foe.
It is natural to begin with observing, that the Christian is here supposed to use the world ; by which we must certainly understand the Apostle to mean, maintaining intercourse and connection with the world ; living in it, as one of the members of human society; assuming that rank which belongs to his station. No one can be said to use the world who lives not thus. Hence it follows, that sequestration from the world is no part of Christian duty; and it appears strange, that even among those who approve