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to come, and which is just opening to him in all its darkness and all its unknown terrors; that he has finished and sealed the "senseless bargain," (oh how bitterly does he feel it to be so!) of "eternity for bubbles;" that he has bartered and damned his soul for the "pleasures of sin," and the worthless nothings of a world that has passed away from him! It is not necessary that a man should have "seen no good," or should have had "no power to enjoy" his "riches, and wealth, and honour," and family, in order to his feeling their emptiness in his latter end, when his soul is absorbed in one grand concern, and longs for a peace and a hope which they are incapable of imparting. Even though he had derived from them through life the whole amount of pleasure which, without the influence of true religion, it is in their power to bestow; still it is pleasure that is gone with each passing moment, and leaves the soul at last drearily desolate, and unprovided for the prospect which lies before it. He has "received in his lifetime his good things," and all must be left behind him; he has lived without God, and without God he must die; his life has been faithless, and his death must be hopeless; he has laid up for himself treasures on earth, and there is no treasure reserved for him in heaven; he has said to his soul," Thou hast goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry;" and when "his soul is required of him," he feels himself "a fool;" he "came in with vanity," and he departs in darkness. It is the everlasting existence by which it is followed, that stamps importance on the life of man. Should a man double the life of Methuselah, his life (though to us, with our narrow span of three-score years and ten, it might seem a little eternity) would still be vanity, if it were spent without reference to the endless duration that is beyond it.
EVERY THING FOR ETERNITY.
"I paint for eternity.”—The ancient artist who thus replied, when asked why so cautious in drawing his lines, so slow in using his pencil, unwittingly uttered a truth which is applicable to all the thoughts, words, and actions of all men. All are registered in a book which all ages will not make old, and in characters which eternity will not efface. Every motion of the mind is written on a tablet more durable than if engraven with an iron pen upon the rock. Every utterance of the tongue is borne with wings, and flies
directly into eternity. Every deed of the life is more durable than adamant. There is no power to annihilate that which has once been said, or done, or thought. The heavens may pass away, the the earth, and all things that therein are, may be burnt up, but the conduct of accountable creatures can never be blotted out.
The preacher preaches for eternity; and it will then be seen whether he handled the Word of God deceitfully, or rightly divided the word of truth; whether self or Christ were the most prominent; whether he sought to gain the applause of man, or to win souls; whether he chose the best subjects, and presented them in the best manner, according to his ability, and kept in view the best end, or whether his subjects were taken up at random, and thrown at random, rather than aimed at his hearers to do his own or his Master's work. Eternity will declare all this to the preacher, when all his studies and all his sermons are brought to his remembrance, and made to pass in honest review before his mind.
Hearers hear for eternity; not intentionally, we grant, but of necessity. They have not done with the sermons they hear, when the speaker's voice has ceased to vibrate. His words have passed away indeed, but the recording angel has put it down, whether they have affected the heart or not. The truth rejected, the promise slighted, the warning despised, the precept forgotten, will all reappear, and shew the thoughtless and the sceptical hearer to be without
Merchants buy and sell for eternity. They lay up goods only for a few years; but the motives and moral character of their business transactions will survive when life is immeasured by the flight of years. Though riches take to themselves wings and fly away, they heap treasures together for eternity—treasures either of indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, or treasures of glory, honour, and peace, according as they have bought and sold, "as unto the Lord, or unto man.'
They who live in indolence or pleasure, sow for eternity; and they will reap a harvest of thorns and briers that will teach them that their lives were madness. Eternity will be a retrospect of time, and it will then be seen whether there is satisfaction in reviewing the past. It will be seen whether our pursuits here sprung from and engendered appetites that eternity can gratify. The predominant desire and relish here will be the predominant passion there; but there will be no revel, no song, no dance, no stage, no sump
tuous living there; no, not a drop of pleasure, so called, will there be found to cool the parching tongue.
The lawyer pleads, and the judge decides, for eternity. Argument and decisions are rejected in the court of appeal above. It will there be seen whether counsellers have pleaded when guilt is proved; whether opinions have been given from interest, or honest conviction; whether they have argued from false premises to a desired conclusion, or from true premises to a false conclusion. And the judge will see and feel when he is before the Judge of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, whether he has decided uprightly, or from prejudice, passion, or partiality.
The same truth is applicable to every calling, condition, station, and action of life. "Life is a passage to eternity, and ought to be a meditation of eternity, and a preparation for eternity."
DANGER OF DELAY.
A few years ago, the loss of health compelled me to go abroad. I crossed the Atlantic in the same vessel with a lady from Boston, who was well connected, accomplished, and amiable. I conversed with her on the subject of religion. She owned its importance, and
said she would soon attend to it-she wished to become a Christian. In London I went to call on her. The attractions of London were unheeded-I pressed my way on-for I sought to save a soul. A soul was my object. I found her at a splendid dwelling, just prepared to take her daughter to the opera. "And is this the way,"
Has it come to this so
said I, "that religion is to be sought? soon." "Oh," she said, "my daughter must be introduced to the world. When I have done this, I will seek religion." She went to Florence, and in one month, they buried her.
I spent a little time in Philadelphia, a few years ago. There was a young lady, who had a most splendid voice.
She often, for
my pleasure, sang favourite hymns of mine in the social or family circle. I talked with her of the concerns of her soul; and, when I bid her farewell before leaving the city, I said to her, "Miss if you do not go to heaven, what will you do with that voice of yours?" She said she intended to become a Christian,—but not yet --she must defer it a little longer. I went home, and the first letter I received from Philadelphia stated that Miss
Earthly ties, pure and right in their nature and objects, make the sundering of life's cords a hard struggle. "But have not Christians friends in heaven too? Are not those heavenly friends purer, wiser, more affectionate, companions more delightful, than any earthly friends can be? Should not the greater strength of those heavenly ties make the separation from earth's loved ones easy, nay, joyous?"
Is it not a sweet thought to the Christian heart? I had a mother. Young as I was, when death called her, she seems to me now the brightest vision of earth. Gentle and winning in manners, amiable in her disposition, and, what was the crowning excellence, clothed with the meekness and humility of the Christian temper, is it strange that she was loved? When the blight of consumption fell upon her, and wasted her strength, while it gave her countenance a bloom and sweetness quite unearthly, I could hardly bear the thought that one like her should die; and when she called me to her bedside, from the sports of childhood, and parted the hair on my young forehead with her soft hand, and commended me to God, and prayed Him to make me a minister of his word, I bowed before her with a solemn reverence. Death came, a welcome messenger, in the garb of one of heaven's shining ones, brightening up her face with joy, and then she laid down, and slept.
I had a sister too. I remember the smiling, prattling, blackhaired infant. She was called away, in the earliest hour of life. She was heartily consecrated to the Triune God, at the baptismal font; and because God loved her, Jesus "suffered her to come to him," without passing through the trials and temptations of this our life.
And there was another, the destined companion of my life. To me, at least, she seemed lovely; she was so, in the beauty of her devotion to the Saviour, whose gentle hand smoothed her pillow during the long years of trial in which she was confined to the bed of disease and suffering, and enabled her to cry out, in the last struggle, "O death, where is thy victory. I hear their melody, as they sing redeeming love." She already heard the Seraphim!
Other friends have followed them; though none so dear, none so loved, yet many who deserved all a man's or a Christian's affection. I remember one time, when it seemed as if all whom I loved were
gone. I was an orphan. I was alone.
No, not alone. GOD was with me. And he raised up new friends, in whose love the longing heart of the poor orphan was again more than happy. Life's earthly ties are now many. The family circle, the caresses of my children, the mingling and communing of spirit with the many dear friends in the number of the literary and the devout around me, make EARTHLY TIES almost too strong to sever. How often they draw my heart, ungrateful heart, away from God. But let me, while I cease not to feel their power, take care to make the union with my friends in heaven more perfect. Those dear departed ones, so dear, while enfeebled in body, and partially clouded in intellect by sin, are now more glorious than my thoughts can conceive. That sweet infant has been sitting at the feet of the Lamb. His right hand has led her in the green pastures, and by the still waters. She has "grown up in wisdom and stature,” as spirits may grow; "and in favour with God," and redeemed men and angels. But she is my sister still. She remembers the hours of childhood's pure love, and waits my coming.
And my mother too! In the trusting, loving spirit of boyhood, she was my idol. But now, for more than twenty years, she has "seen Jesus;" and she has put off the frail clay, and put on a likeness to his glorious form, and by daily communion has been "changed into HIS IMAGE, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord;" as if his own spirit only dwelt in her, and not her own, animating and guiding her intellect, "enlarging her heart," and making her meet for that even more glorious state which follows the resurrection, when "his servants all serve him" in other forms of benevolent activity, and shall "give him nobler praise." And there, too, “I shall see Jesus," that kind, constant, dying, forgiving, ever-living, glorified Friend, "above all others," deserving the name; for whom I live, to whom I die, with whom I rise again, with whom; if he will own my worthless name, I shall be glorified, and "sit down with him in his throne, even as he overcame, and is set down with his Father, on his throne."
Oh, these HEAVENLY TIES, how strong they grow; how bright is each link that binds me to heaven, the more I view them! Earth has not lost its charms; the friends I love are still here; but the more I look upward, the weaker are the ties that bind me to them. I would be there! And they must follow me!