Page images

to religion, he recommends it to us to follow this fame rule of judging, by which his own conduct will be guided on the great day. “Ye fhall know them,” says he, “ by their fruits ; do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ?" While of his true difciples he says; “I have ordained you that ye should go forth and bear much fruit.”. We will only quote one passage more with a view to this point. “Marvel not," says the Saviour of the world in another place, “ for the hour cometh in which all that are in their graves will come forth, they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.”

We shall have now to request the reader's very careful attention while we proceed to thew what is meant in fcripture “ by doing good and doing evil, and by being thus judged, every man according to his works," for there is much room for error on this point if we do not seek for an explanation of the matter in the word of God.

Here then, first I would observe that there are many fins spoken of in fcripture (some of them fins made very light of by men) which, if a man lives in them habitually, are considered by the apostle as at once deciding the man's character; and they are called works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are manifeft; which are these, adultry, fornication, uncleanness, lasciyiousness, emulations, wrath, ftrife, envyings,

murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like, and they that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” And again, “ be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor thieves,, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Sinners of this class

Sinners of this class may here read their doom as plainly as if their very names were written in the word of God. O that they would therefore repent, and flee from the wrath to come," for hath the Lord said and will he not do it?” The mercies of God indeed are great to the penitent and contrite in heart; they extend even to the chief of finners, and blessed be his name, they are also sure mercies; but so also are his judgments fure to them that live and die in their iniquity.

But there are various other marks given in fcripture whereby a man may know whether he shall come under condemnation. “ If


live after the flesh ye shall die, but if ye, through the spirit, do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live.” And again, “ to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." What is it then to be carnally minded and to live after the flesh? It is, undoubtedly, to follow our natural inclinations, instead of following the good motions of the ho. ly spirit of God; it is to live as we like, to go where we like, to say and do what we like, to spend our time and our money just as we like, and to let our corrupt immaginations rove wherever they like; it is to live to please our. selves, instead of living to please God. I may here also remark, that there are fins of the mind which will just as much condemn a man on the judgment day, if they have ruled over him, as any fins of the body, and it may be observed that emulations, wrath, strife and envyings have been already named, together with murders and adultery; I may add, that pride is often treated of in the scripture as highly offensive to God, and humility as one of the best signs of acceptánce, for 6 God refifteth the proud, but giveth grace (or favor) to the humble.” A readiness to judge others is also a very bad Ggn." Judge not that ye be not judged; for with whax judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged ;" fo likewife is an unforgiving spirit; “for if ye forgive not men their trespasses," says our Saviour, "neither will your heavenly Father forgive you." And in the Old Testament it is most awfully declared, that “ he shall have judgment without mercy that hath shewed no mercy," what need shall we all have of mercy on that day, and how dreadful a crime will it then seem, to have been in our life time hard and unrelenting towards our fellow-creatures, in comparison of what it does now. The fins even of the tongue will alio be enquired into, for 6 the tongue, though a little member, is a fire, a world of iniquity" It is inconceivable how much good or ill is done by it. The tongue, indeed, is an index of the heart; and therefore it is said, “ by thy


words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

We have spoken hitherto only of actual fins, and of these but shortly, but I must hasten to remark that there are virtues which must be practised if we would hope to enter Heaven, as well as crimes which must be avoided. Some people are apt to think that nine-tenths of the actions of their lives are of a class which may be called indifferent. There is no good, they own, in them, but they trust; neither is there any harm. But the scriptures are far from favoring notions of this sort; and I think there is reason to suppose, that when the day of judgment comes, it will not be so much a few great crimes on the one hand, or a few shining virtues on the other, that will decide a man's character, as the ordinary tenor of his life, and the general disposition of his heart, as to what some may call the more indifferent, and the lesser matters. Our Saviour, in order to impress his disciples with a just notion of the complete accountableness of man, and of the punishment due to uno profitableness, spake to them the following parable : “ A certain man went into a far country, and he called his servants and delivered to each of them his goods; and to one he gave five-talents, and to another two, and to another one ; and after a long time, he cometh and reckoneth with them.” Now this is to represent God's manner of dealing with us his creatures; he has given us endowments of many kinds; a certain portion of wealth, for instance, and of other things, (to some of us more, and to others less) all which we are required to use in the service of the giver, and the day of judgment is that time of reckoning, when he will call upon us to give account how far we have done fo. Every thing we had in this world will then be considered, not as having been our own, to do what we pleased with it, but as having been our Lord's goods; and the question to be tried at the judgment day will be, whether we have been faithful in our stewardship. In the parable, we have, first, a description of some servants who improved their talents for their Lord's use; and to each of these it is faid, “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord;" but one servant is spoken of who had 6 buried his talent in the earth," that is, who had turned it to no profit, for it is not said that he had done any particular harm with it, and on him is passed a solemn sentence of condemnation. Woe be to that person, therefore, who shall be obliged to confess on the judgment day, that while he was in this world, he idled away his time, that precious talent entrusted to him by his maker, in such a manner as to bring no honor to God, and no good to his fellowcreatures; as for instance, in empty talk, in un. productive work, and in needless amusements; who shall be forced to own also, that he confi. dered his health and strength as given him only for his own enjoyment, that he exerted his abi.

« PreviousContinue »