« PreviousContinue »
of death, from this load of iniquity, which cannot but subject me to the severest inflictions. In a moment his spirit revives within him at the prospect of his deliverance through the gospel: "I thank God," he adds, "through Jesus Christ our Lord." Or perhaps it should be read, as it is an answer to a question, "The grace of God
through Jesus Christ our Lord." That Saviour who had assured him that his grace was sufficient for him, became his comforter, and will become the comforter of the most indignant infidel, if he will soften his heart with an inclination to believe.
Influence of a future State on Man as an accountable Creature; applying to his Hopes."
Yet know, vain scepticks! know th' almighty mind,
Nor shall the pile of hope his mercy rear'd,,
NOTWITHSTANDING all the arguments of the atheist and the opinions of some deists, I shall assume it as an acknowledged truth, that there is a future state. In doing so, independent of the christian revelation, I meet the unbiassed wishes, the earnest expectations of far the largest portion of mankind. In fixing our minds upon this point,
how glorious is the prospect presented to our view! How does the present span of our existence shrink into nothing! As from the summit of a high mountain, we look down upon the world, and see its towns and cities, its oceans and its promontories dwindle from our sight. The intricacies of worldly policy are absolutely invisible-" the murm'ring surge cannot be heard so high." Thus far nature may be supposed to have attended our steps, and assisted us in our research. But limited are the powers which she has given to man. See religion advance, and remove the film which obstructs our vision. What do we now behold? The world, and all that it contains, is totally vanished. New heavens and a new earth appear before us. Even the body which we possessed is altered: "this mortal hath put on immor"tality." The prospect is too brilliant to be disclosed. The apostle represents the scene as too sublime for human imagination
eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, "neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for those that love him."
Let the sceptic enjoy his gloom, the atheist his annihilation: the christian has other prospects, and will neither be reasoned out of his pleasing hopes, nor cheated out of his present enjoyments. When the man of religion argues with the sceptic, he has every comfort to place within his reach; but when the unbeliever offers to reform the christian, he removes from his view all that has hitherto supported him: an impenetrable cloud is spread before his eye, and adangerous gulph is opened at his foot. Let the unprejudiced judge on which side caution is most necessary. The wise man, surely, would rather err with the christian, than take part with the unbeliever.
I shall not proceed further, and draw a comparison between the lives of the christian and the sceptic. The severity of the one is not to be overcome by the benevolence of the other. Yet let him know that the pile of hope, raised by the mercy of a good Pro vidence, is not to be destroyed by vain phi losophy. Eternity depends not on the belief or disbelief of man. It is not even comprehensible by the faculties of human nature. D 6
Though we are assured from the highest sanctions, of the endless duration of time, or rather that a period will arrive when time shall be no more; yet it is not within the limits of our understandings to have any adequate conceptions on the subject. But the reality of a future state, and the distribution of future rewards and punishments, depend not upon subtilties. The sceptic, as well as the believer, will rise to experience this awful day of retribution. May the supreme Disposer of all events accept his ignorance as an apology for his unbelief! But who shall intercede for the christian, if his conduct square not with his principles? His Redeemer placed salvation before him. -If he dash the salutary cup from the hand of his restorer-alas! who shall intreat for him?
Whatever may be the loose principles we meet with in the world on the subjects of morals and religion, it is evident that the influence of a future state has considerable effects on man, whether we consider him as an accountable creature, applying to his hopes, or his fears, as a member of society, or simply