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is one which we can also appreciate. He was captivated and enslaved by that false and deceitful life which, from his day to ours, has entangled and destroyed its thousands. This passing scene engrossed his affections, and present enjoyments, and temporal satisfactions, triumphed over future and eternal rewards. It was this which caused his ruin, by inducing him to relinquish the pursuit of heavenly joys. For remember, my brethren, he is not charged with open crime, nor with any cherished sin; nor was he, by any uncontrollable destiny, driven from his hope of salvation ; but having the promise of eternal life distinctly placed before him ; having the assurance of grace and strength sufficient to conduct him to the end, he refused to seek the one by employing the other, He had not resolution to undertake the cares and privations of a religious life. He chose the present at the expense of all future good. He neglected the great salvation. In fine, he loved this present world; and if we receive the declaration of Jesus Christ, this was of itself sufficient condemnation; for he has said, “ If any man love “ the world, the love of the Father is not in him;"> and St. James has also declared, “ Whosoever “ will be a friend of the world is the enemy of 66 God.” Such was the choice of Demas. The inquiry naturally suggested by his conduct is, Was he wise? And can we, at this distance of time, as unprejudiced judges of his conduct, proVOL. II.
nounce his choice to have been reasonable and happy?
There is, my brethren, in this inquiry, enough to excite and interest our attention. For though he who is its subject has long since mouldered into dust, though ages have passed away, and whole generations have sunk into the grave, though the glory of the Roman state, whose eagles then reflected the rays of the rising and setting sun, has now departed, and in the successive changes of human affairs, the lordly title of Cæsar has lost its greatness and its terror; yet even now, if the soul of man be immortal, and if he be responsible in another life for his voluntary actions in this probationary state, agreeably to the truth of God's unquestionable word; even now, the results involved in the choice of that single individual, are unspeakably more important than the sacking and conflagration of cities, the rise and fall of empires, or the changes of all earthly things. I ask not, then, my brethren, whether Demas succeeded in gaining the world; or whether, in its possession, he realized the felicity which he anticipated from gaining it. I ask not whether he lived long, saw happy days, and was mighty upon the earth. I am willing to concede it all; and though others have pronounced the world to be unsatisfying, and illusory, and vain, yet in his case I am willing to allow he did not find it so.
On the contrary,
I am prepared to grant that to him its pleasures were real and lasting; that he found in the world all the happiness which he sought; and that as he may have sought it in reputable and honourable means, so he enjoyed it without disquiet to the end of a protracted life. Still, I repeat the question, Did Demas wisely choose ; and can we so approve his decision as to commend the multitudes who are pursuing a similar course? To bring this question to the test, let us place together what he gained, and what he lost, we shall then be better able to make the comparison, and shall have less difficulty in framing an an
Be it granted, then, my brethren, that he gained wealth, and all the advantages that wealth can procure; that he gained respect and favour from worldly men, for the world loveth its own, and doubtless it lavished upon him its applauses and smiles. He gained also, we may presume, from the free thinking and the licentious, the reputation of a man of spirit, who had broken loose from the trammels of superstition, and religious delusion, and had dared to despise the idle fears, and the visionary hopes, of an enthusiastic and fanatical sect. He gained, we may be certain, a freedom from those persecutions and distresses which the profession of Christ's religion brought upon its early followers; and instead of being bound by the self-denying maxims of a severe morality,
he was at liberty to exercise a free indulgence of pleasure, and to pursue every object which
gave the promise of sensual gratification or delight, Or if a more refined policy had taught him caution, he may have used his assumed liberty with a wise moderation, and thus have secured, from the possession of the world, the greatest sum of happiness which it could possibly give.
Amidst all this felicity, there was nothing to check his enjoyment, but the certainty that he must one day die; and the possibility that after death might come the judgment. Hope of advantage after death he could have none; for none had he endeavoured to secure. On the contrary, if there were such a future life of felicity as the Gospel promised, he knew that he had most clearly renounced it. The belief of annihilation might banish fear in respect of the evils of that after state; but certainly, even if well founded, could add nothing to enjoyment; so that on the best and most favourable estimate that we can make of his prospects, he had chosen some twenty, thirty, or forty years of earthly good, as all that he ever expected to enjoy. And this little span of existence, which might be reduced to as many months, or weeks, or days, included the whole amount of happiness for which he could possibly look; not to say how much even that might be invaded by sickness, by pain, by indifference, by apathy, and by a thousand nameless inconveniences and ills that enter into the experience of all, even the most highly favoured and secure. Whether the frailty of life, and the deaths of his fellows, had power sometimes to make him tremble for the uncertain tenure of his happiness, we will not ask; for every one is ingenious in fortifying himself against that fear, by discovering circumstances in his own case which do not leave him exposed like other men. And he, therefore, may be allowed to have lived on as we do, fearless and secure. But to what, I pray you, my brethren, did this happiness amount? The earth was his all; and every moment, though filled with the means of enjoyment, brought him nearer to the end of all that he could look for or possess; and nearer also, be it remembered, to the experience of all he might have to apprehend, if the threatenings of revelation should prove to
Such were the circumstances of questionable felicity in which he lived; and at the last, his appointed time on earth being spent, the death from which he had shrunk, while he could avoid it, overtook him; and with nothing to hope for, and every thing to fear, he left the world which he loved, and was no more seen. And then the past, whether it had been afflictive or joyous, was of no account, excepting as its influence was carried forward, and controlled the future,