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Young man, thou mayest live fifty or sixty years : but at the expiration of those fifty or sixty years, time finishes and eternity begins. People of mature age, your race is partly run ; ten, fifteen, or twenty years more, through the dissipations and employments inseparable from your lives, will vanish with an inconceivable rapidity; and then time finishes and eternity begins with you. And ye old people, a few years, a few months, a few days more, and behold your race is at an end; behold your time finishes and your eternity begins. And can we resist this idea! Alas! what heart! what christians! what a church !
Grant Almighty God that our prayers may supply the defect of our exhortations; may we derive from thy bosom of infinite mercies what we despair of obtaining from the insensibility of our hearers! O thou author of religion, thou divine Spirit, from whom alone could proceed this beautiful system, which thou hast condescended to reveal to us, impress it in all its parts on our minds! Pluck up every plant which thy good hand hath not planted! Triumph over all the obstacles that our sins oppose against thine empire ! Shut the gulfs of hell ! Open the gates of heaven ! Save us even in the spite of ourselves ! Amen!
To the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, dominion and power for ever. Amen.
The Eternity of God.
PREACHED IN THE FRENCH CHURCH AT ROTTERDAM ON
THE FIRST LORD'S DAY OF THE YEAR 1724.
2 Peter iii. 8.
Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with
the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years ás one day. TE could not meditate on the words you have
heard, my brethren, without recollecting that miraculous cloud which conducted the Israelites through the desart. It was all luminous on one side, and all opaque on the other. * The Jews say it was the throne, or the triumphal chariot of that Angel who marched at the head of the camp of Israel; of that Angel whom they call the Prince of the world, the Shekinah, the presence of the divine Majesty, the Deity itself. It is not needful to examine this opinion. I do not know whether the pillar of a cloud were a throne of God, but it was a beautiful symbol of the Deity. What is the Deity in regard to us? If it be the most radiant of all light, it is at the same time the most covered with darkness. Let the greatest philosophers, let the most extraordinary geniusses elevate their meditations, and take the loftiest flights of which they are capable, in order to penetrate into the nature of the divine essence, the stronger efforts they make to understand this fearful subject, the more will they be absorbed in it: the nigher they approach the rays of this sun, the more will they be dazzled with its lustre. But yet, let the fee
See Rabbi Menachem in Parash. Beschalec, Exod. xiv. 19. fol. 63. edit. de Venise 5283. S.
blest and most confined genius seek instructions, in meditating on the divine grandeurs, to direct his faith, to regulate his conduct, and to sweeten the miseries that imbitter this valley of tears; he shall happily experience what the prophet did: Does he look doren to him ? he shall be lightened, Psal. xxxiv. 5.
God presents himself to your eyes to-day, as he once presented bimself to the Israelites in that marvellons phenomenon. Light on one side, darkness on the other. A thousand years are with the Lord as one day, and one day as a thousand years. Let the greatest philosophers, let those extraordinary beings in whose formation God seems to have united. an angelical intelligence to a human body, let them preach in our stead, let them fully explain the words of my text. From what abysses of existence does the perfect Being derive that duration, which, alike overspreads the present, the future, and the past ? how conceive a continuation of existence without conceiving a succession of time? how conceive a succession of time without conceiving that he who is subject to it, acquires what he had not before ? how affirm that he, who acquires what he had not before, considers a thousand years as one day, and one day as a thousand years? So many questions, so many abysses, obscurities, darknesses for poor mortals.
But if you confine yourselves to a conviction of the truth of the words of my text; particularly, if you , desire to consider them in regard to that influence, which they ought to have on your conduct, you will behold light issuing from every part, nor is there any one in this assembly who may not approach it with confidence. This has encouraged us to turn our attention to a subject, which, at first sight, seems more likely to copfound, than to edify us.
St. Peter aims to rouse the piety of christians by the idea of that great day in which the world must be reduced to ashes : when new heavens and a new earth shall appear to the children of God. Libertines regarded that day as a chimera. Where, said they, is the promise of the Lord's coming ; for, since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation? 2 Pet. iii. 4. &c. The words of my text are an answer to this objection : an idea which we will presently explain, but which you must, at least in a vague manner, retain all along, if you mean to follow us this in discourse, in which we would wish to include all the different views of the Apostle. In order to which three things are necessary;
I. We will examiné our text in itself, and endeavor to establish this proposition, One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
II. We will prove what we have advanced : That is, That St. Peter's design in these words was to answer the objections of libertines against the doctrine of the conflagration of the world : and we will prove that they completely answer the purpose.
III. We will draw from this doctrine, secured against the objections of libertines, such motives to piety as the Apostle presents us with.
In considering these words in this point of light, we will apply them to your present circumstances. The renewal of the year, properly understood, is only the anniversary of the vanity of our life, and thence the calls to detach yourselves from the world. And what can be more proper to produce such a detachment than this reflection, that not only the years wbich we must pass on earth are consuming, but also that the years of the world's subsistence are are already consumed in part, and that the time apa
proaches, in which it must be delivered to the flames, and reduced to ashes ?
Let us first consider the words of our text in themselves, and let us prove this proposition, one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The notion I have of God is my principle: the words of my text are the consequence.
If I establish the principle, the consequence will be incontestible. 1. Eternity—2. Perfect knowledge, and, in some sort, the sight and presence of all that has been, of all that is, and of all that shall be.-3. Supreme happiness : are three ideas, which form my notion of the Deity: this is my principle. A thousand years then are as one day, and one day as a . thousand years with the Lord : this is my consequence. Let us prove the truth of the principle, by justifying the notion we form of the Deity.
i. Godis an eternal being. This is not a chimera of
my mind: it is a truth accompanied with all the evidence of which a proposition is capable. I exist, I speak, you hear me, at least you seem to
These are facts, the certainty of which all the philosophers in the world can never destroy. I am not able to new-mould myself, nor can I help the perception of truths, the knowledge of which (if I may be allowed to say so) is as essential to me as my own existence. It does not depend on me not to regard Pyrrho and Academus, those famous defenders of doubt and uncertainty, as fools who extinguished the light of common sense, or rather as impostors, who pronounced propositions with their mouths, the falsity of which it was impossible their minds should not perceive. I repeat it again, the most subtle objections of all the philosophers, in the world united, can never diminish in me that impression, which the perception of my .