Page images


[For the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity]


For our conversation is in heaven; from whence, also, we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile vody, that it may be like unto his glorious body.

F we consider the motives of our conduct; that is, the reasons why we do any thing, or refrain from doing it; we shall find, that they are, the hope and expectation of some immediate benefit to ourselves, or of some advantage at a future period of time. It is upon this principle, that the husbandman goes through all the labour of his farm. He rises early; pursues patiently the toil of the day; manures, ploughs, and sows his land; braves all sorts of weather; and puts up with a thousand hardships and

nconveniences; because he expects, that, in due time, "the earth will give her increase;" that "the vallies will stand thick with corn;" and that the sweat of his brow, and the labour of his hands, will be rewarded by a plentiful harvest, and the profits which that will produce to him. It is upon the same principle, that the sailor tempts the dangers of the great sea. He is willing to be buffeted by its tempests, "when the stormy "wind ariseth, and lifteth up the waves "thereof;" to run the risque of being wrecked upon the rocks, or swallowed up by the quicksands; to pass sleepless nights, and live laborious days, in the hope that he may, at length, reach "the haven "where he would be ;" and bring from thence some merchandize that will enrich him, when he returns to his native land. In like manner, the servant, the manufacturer, and the mechanic, (if they be wise and prudent,) all pursue the business of their callings with industry and perseverance; and perform many disagreeable services, undergo much toilsome labour, and give up many little indulgencies and comforts; in the expectation,. that they may earn, and save, a sufficiency, to support themselves when they are greyheaded, and past their labour; and to bring up the children that the LORD shall give

them. Such, I repeat, are the motives of men's conduct, with respect to the business and things of this world. They all look forwards to some advantage from what they undertake, and what they do; and, therefore, they pursue their employment, whatever it may be, without regarding the difficulty or danger, or inconvenience, with which it may be attended.

[ocr errors]

We find from the words of the text, (which are taken from the epistle for the day,) that the early christians acted exactly upon the same principle, or from the same motive, as men act in the present day; that is, with a view to their own advantage and gain. There was this great difference, however, between us and them; that, while the recompense which we look to, as the reward of our labour, toil, and perseverance, is, "the things of this world;" their hope and expectation consisted in something beyond the grave; for they "looked for the "Saviour, the LORD JESUS CHRIST, who "should change their vile body, that it "might be like unto his glorious body." As the advantage which they expected, was thus of a different nature from that which we expect; so did they pursue it by very different means, to those which we employ to gain our ends. Their "conversation was

"in heaven;" that is, their chief concern was to know, and to do, the will of God. They did not, indeed, give up the company of their fellow men; or pass their lives in useless idleness; or relinquish the exercise of honest industry; but, they did all this,



as unto the LORD, and not unto man;' they "passed through things temporal, so as "not to lose the things eternal;" and, while they honestly, and within due bounds, "laboured for the meat that perisheth," that they might not be a burthen to others;" their principal concern was to procure "that meat, which endureth unto "everlasting life, which the Son of man "should give. unto them," when their earthly labour was finished. The great difference, then, my brethren, between those to whom the gospel was early preached, and ourselves, seems to be this. They fixed their thoughts chiefly on heaven, and we on earth; they sought principally to please GOD, we to please ourselves; they looked upon life only as a short journey, and the world, as a place in which they should conti nue but "a little while;" we regard the few days of our pilgrimage here as a very great matter, and the earth on which we are placed, as a sure and an abiding dwelling. They considered themselves as guests that

were "to tarry but a day," in the place of their present abode; and were, therefore, not over anxious about the accommodations which they met with, while they continued in it; we consider ourselves, not as tenants at will; but as having possession of the estate for a very long term of years; and are, therefore, entirely occupied in making every thing comfortable and convenient for ourselves, during our expected long continuance in it.


But, surely, my brethren, this difference in the conduct of those early christians, to whom St. Paul wrote, and of ourselves, cannot be justified upon any principle, either of wisdom or religion. We have the same recompense of reward" placed before us, which was presented to them; and ought, consequently, to be equally anxious to secure it, and to pursue those means, by which alone it is to be obtained; namely, by having our conversation in heaven, and making the performance of our christian duty the great and principal concern of our lives. There is now the same heaven to be desired, and the same hell to be feared, which there were two thousand years ago. There is the same uncertainty of our continuing upon earth; and the same certainty of a future judgment, after we have quitted it." The judge stand

« PreviousContinue »