Page images
PDF
EPUB

And yet

never felt its sanctifying power; they puts are deemed too great. Rivers of human on a profession as an upper garment to blood have flowed in the cause of ambicover the native deformity of an unre- tion, and in forcing a way to a throne generated heart, and to impose on their and after its honours were secured, how fellow-men. Hence it is that so many transitory its possession, and harassing apostatize—they did not count the cost its cares! The glories which dazzled at before they entered on their undertaking, a distance, like the lovely hues of the and they are not able to finish. So in- rainbow, vanish, when grasped, like the adequate are their conceptions of the real meteor, which emits a temporary flash excellency and vast importance of reli- ang is then quenched for ever. gion, that they will not surrender a single with what breathless eagerness and intemporary gratification to secure the eter- cessant toil are such honours sought by nity of glory which it promises.

the children of men ! The competitor It is vastly different, however, with the in the games of ancient Greece submitted genuine Christian: he knows the truth, to a long period of previous training befeels the power and experiences the joys fore he presented himself as a candidate af religion; his attachment to it strength- for the laurel crown by which the conens with time, and the more he knows of queror was to be rewarded in the preit the higher does he value it; it incor- sence of applauding thousands of his porates all its benign influences with countrymen. But between this crown every faculty of his soul, and deepens of life and all the glory and honour of the features of its own lovely image on this earth there is no comparison. As his heart. The service of Christ is to eternity surpasses time, as heaven tranhim more delightful than all the vanities scends earth, so does the celestial crown of the world. Rather than desert the which the Saviour shall place on the cause of Christ he would cheerfully suf-heads of all his faithful followers in the fer the loss of all things. It is the power midst of an assembled universe. of religion and the presence of the Sa It is a crown of life, and this is indica viour that throws the serenity of heaven tive of the pure, lofty, and endless enjoyover the martyr's countenance amid the ments to which it introduces. It is when fellest blasts of persecution—the keenest the struggles of mortality are over, and tortures of the rack—the hottest flames the conflicts with corruption, and all the at the stake—and the most cruel death. enemies of your spiritual welfare, are The same holy influences support the over, that this supreme felicity shall be dying saint under the gathering infirmi- obtained. Escaped from the wreck of a ties of decaying nature and the struggles decaying body, your immortal spirit shall of dissolution. His pains increase—his be the eternal inhabitant of a deathless strength sinks—his eye closes—his grasp world. You shall appear as one among of life relaxes - his pulse stops — his the countless myriads who shall surround breath departs--the dews of death are on the throne of the Lamb, wearing crowns bis clay-cold cheek, but his sainted spirit of life as brilliant and unfading as your as it fled left fixed on his pale countenance own. When a few earthly monarchs the image of peace, and took its flight, meet to deliberate on the destinies of attended by ministering angels, into hea- nations, how do the chroniclers of this ven to receive the crown of life." world's transactions summon up all their II. ATTEND NOW TO THE GRACIOUS AS- powers of description and of flattery to

magnify the importance of the rare oc“I will give you a crown of life.” currence ;—but the vastest assembly on Here notice,

earth, the most splendid concourse of the 1st. The gift—"A crown of life.” A monarchs of earth, dwindle into utter incrown is the highest object of earthly significancy when compared to the meetambition, and the possession of it the ing of all the ransomed of the Lord in loftiest pinnacle of worldly glory-to ob- heaven—every saint shall have in his tain it no toils, struggles, or sacrifices | hand a palm of victory, in his mouth a

SURANCE.

song of triumph, and on his head a crown circumstances associated in our minds of life. Contemplate through the me- with death which render it truly appaldium of prophecy the multitude, which | ling. The pains, the griefs, the dying no man can number, arrayed in white conflict, the shroud, the coffin, the dark robes, and listen to their lofty song. grave, and the consequent corruption. With united voice they sing unto him The very thought of being torn from this that loved us, and washed us from our warm and living world—from kind friends sins in his own blood, and hath made us and endeared companions, rends the heart. kings and priests unto God, and to his But the bright prospects unfolded in the Father, to him be glory and dominion for gospel to the departing Christian, reconever and ever.

cile him to all these, and secure for him Meditate,

a glorious victory over the king of ter2d. On the glorious giver.—It is Christ rors. At death the conquering hero lays who is to bestow the crown of life. down his crown, and leaves all his worldly Those who are to wear it have not won it glory behind him. He has no commuby their own prowess, obtained it by nion with those who herald his praise, their own merit, or inherited it by their sculpture on his tomb the paltry symbols natural birth. It is given freely by Him of royalty, and with these emblems of by whose blood it was secured, and rule distinguish the place which keeps a by whose munificence it is bestowed. monarch's dust from the mass of manWhat shall be the emotions of the re- kind, who tenant with him the regions deemed when they receive this inestima- of the dead. But at death the Christian ble gift from Him who created the hea- triumphs. Then he puts off his armour, vens, formed the earth, and gave life to and receives his crown. His conflicts every order of animated being! How terminate, his enemies are for ever deshall their hearts glow with unutterable feated, and death is swallowed up in emotions when this royal diadem of im- victory. Instead of death killing the mortality shall be placed on their heads immortal inhabitant, he has merely pulled by Him whose toilsome life and excru- down the frail tabernacle in which it was ciating death procured it for them! With imprisoned, and allowed it to escape to one simultaneous burst of gratitude shall glory, honour, and immortality. When they cry, “Thou hast made us kings and we remember that it is the deathless spi. priests unto God, and we shall reign with rit that thinks, feels, and enjoys, we are thee.” It is beyond the power of ima- in some measure prepared to imagine the gination to conceive how they shall feel happy and glorious transition which takes when those hands, still bearing the print place when a redeemed soul passes from of the nails by which he was fixed to the time into eternity, leaves an emaciated accursed tree, shall hold out the crown and putrescent body to dwell with kinof life as the glorious token of his victory dred spirits ; and is severed from weepfor them, and of their victory through ing friends to behold the face of Jesus. him. When “on the cross he spoiled How great its transport when the music principalities and powers, making a show of heaven, the songs of angels, and the of them openly; and when he vanquished glories of eternity burst on its enraptured death, and him that hath the power of ears and astonished vision, and when it death, that is the devil.” Eternity will makes its first attempt to join in harmony seem too short to show forth all his with the countless throng, who are celepraise.

brating the triumphs of redeeming love. Reflect,

But the crown of life shall be given 3d. On the solemn period at which this in a more solemn and public manner to crown shall be bestowed. The text directs every believer at the resurrection of the forward our expectations to the solemn just. The transactions of the day of judg. period of dissolution, when this reward ment shall be awfully and inconceivably shall be obtained. This advantage is pe-grand. Imagination staggers under the culiar to Christianity. There are many load of magnificent images by which its

dread occurrences are represented in commence. Hell shall remain to be the Scripture. When the last sand has dropt prison-house in which the ungodly shall from the hour-glass of time, then shall be tormented for ever with the devil and the whole system of nature begin to give his angels. Heaven shall remain to be way. The sun shall grow dim, the the endless habitation of the righteous, moon become as blood, the stars be when they shall dwell with Jesus, and quenched by the brilliancy of a more glo- all holy beings, and cast their crowns at rious light. The vaulted arch of heaven the feet of him whose death saved them, shall open, and the mighty Judge appear and sing without ceasing, “Worthy is in his own glory, in the glory of his Fa- the Lamb that was slain to receive power, ther, and attended by all his angels. and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and The archangel shall herald his approach, honour, and glory, and blessing-salvaand blow the trumpet which shall an- tion be to the Lamb that was slain." nounce the commencement of the last In conclusion, I call on you to continue assize. Then shall the throne of judg- faithful to Jesus in defiance of every opment be set, and the books be opened. position, even unto death. Every motive The graves shall give up the dead that which is fitted to operate on a rational are in them, and the sea the dead that are being is presented to you in the word of in it. Then the living shall be changed God. The Bible speaks to your hopes in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and to your hearts, to your desire of hapand all the generations of men shall meet piness and your dread of suffering, to in one vast assembly, in the presence of your hope of heaven ana your horror of faithful and fallen angels, to receive their hell. Oh! coula I secure for you a rechangeless doom. Methinks I see the petition of that vision which John saw great white throne—the universal Judge when in banishment for the word of God, -the mighty throng; there you shall and the testimony of Jesus, it would prostand - there I must appear. At that duce a powerful impression on your mind. dread tribunal we must meet face to face, Were the heavens now to open and disand give an account of all our privileges, close the glories of its inhabitants, their and of this evening's service. Then the number, their songs, their palms, and sentence shall be pronounced, which shall their crowns, how would you long to join never be removed. Hear it, ye faithful their company and share their blessed. followers of the Lamb, “Come, ye bless-ness. These objects you cannot see by ed of my Father, inherit the kingdom pre- the eye of sense, but faith can penetrate pared for you from the foundation of the within the veil, and realize all the visions world." Then shall ye receive the crown recorded in this book. While you read of life, and be admitted into eternal glory. it in the exercise of faith you hear their Hear it, ye neglecters of the great salva- lofty anthems, you behold their glory, tion, and tremble at your awful doom. you listen to their welcomes. And the “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire voice of the glorified Redeemer falls on prepared for the devil and his angels.” your ear and rouses all your dormant · Then shall the heavens pass away with energies. Your failing courage is rea great noise, and the elements melt with vived, and your staggering purpose is fervent heat, the earth also and the works confirmed. You hear him saying, “ Be that are therein shall be burnt up.” thou faithful unto death, and I will give Then an eternal order of things shall thee a crown of life." Amen.

SERMON XXIX.

THE PREVALENCE OF INFIDELITY, AND THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES.

DELIVERED

BY THE LATE REV. W. THORPE,

OF BRISTOL.

" In those days shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."-Dan. ii. 44.

At the close of our last lecture, when | subsequent periods of their eventful his. inquiring into the moral and religious tory, down to the present day. To this character of Great Britain, your attention cause, principally, is to be ascribed the was fixed upon the British possessions in schism and the captivity of the ten tribes, the East Indies, and on the melancholy the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuscenes even now exhibited in that im- chadnezzar, and the captivity of Judah in mense portion of the British empire. Babylon—the final dissolution of their

Without further introduction, let us state, both civil and ecclesiastic, and al. now return to our own coasts, and seri- the slaughters, massacres, famines, and ously consider the awful prevalence of unparalleled horrors of their siege. Hence infidelity in our own country. Infidelity also their dispersion in infamy and bondis the highest insult that man can offer to age as witnesses of the truth of Christithe all-wise Creator: for," he that believ- anity to all nations whither they are scateth not God,” says the apostle, “has tered, and to warn them lest they also fall made God a liar." This sin was a prin- under the same example of unbelief. cipal ingredient in the original transgres- Hence, too, their judicial blindness and sion. Our first parents did not believe hardness of heart, and all the sufferings the Divine threatening, “ In the day that of their long and painful captivity. See, ye eat thereof ye shall surely die.” They then, in the history of this people, one. did not believe that the threatened pen- truth—that, in the sight of God, infidelity alty would be carried into execution, or is the most horrid crime of which man can that their disobedience would be imme- be guilty. diately followed by a state of misery and Soon after the establishment of Chrisdeath entailed upon themselves and all tianity in the world, infidelity or atheism their posterity. Thus infidelity brought ared its hideous front even in the bosom ruin on the whole world. Afterwards, the of the Christian church. Denying the tremendous catastrophe of the deluge, the Father and the Son—" the only living overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, the and true God, and Jesus Christ whom he apostasy of the heathen nations from the hath sent,” is branded by the apostle truth, and all the judgments inflicted on John with the name of Antichrist. In the the house of Israel from the time of their closing vision of Daniel it was foretold departure out of Egypt, through all the that, when the reign of papal superstition VOL. I.-34

Z

265

was hastening to its downfall, an atheisti- | likely to surprise, allure, and beguile the cal power should rise up among the papal imagination; in a fable, a tale, a novel, a kingdoms, and spread ruin and desolation poem-in interspersed and broken hints all around; which should endure only for --in remote and oblique surmises—in a short time, comparatively: and the books of travels, of philosophy, of natural learned commentator, Faber, has clearly history-in short, in every form except proved that this power can be no other that of a professed and regular disquisithan atheistical France. Modern infi- tion." Since Paley wrote his Moral delity, indeed, sprung up at the dawn of Philosophy, the fatal poison has increased the Reformation; it was the venomous in strength, in virulence, and in extent of spawn of the mother of harlots, and des- influence, beyond all comparison. It has tined to be the terrible scourge of its own descended from the higher, through the parent. But as the commencement of the middling, down to the very lowest, orders prophetic era is dated from the acts, not of the community. I say the description of individuals, but of states and civil go- of the body politic of the Jewish nation vernments, the reign of atheism did not is here perfectly exemplified, “ The whole actually commence until a whole nation, head is sick, the whole heart is faint; for the first time since a nation existed in and from the crown of the head to the the world, declared itself atheistical, and, sole of the feet there is no soundness, but having denounced the Son of God as an wounds, and bruises, and putrifying impostor, and Christianity as a fable, sores.” Are not these frightful symppassed a decree that the faith of the toms—are they not indications of apFrench nation consisted only of two arti- proaching dissolution ? cles that God is nature, and that there Infidelity appears, in some, open and is no other God-except, indeed, atheis- avowed; and, with unblushing effrontery, tical gods, or the imaginary gods of an denying the God of heaven, and threatenatheistical government-and that death is ing all existing establishments; in others an eternal sleep. The monster, Anti- it is disguised and concealed, but not so christ, in his full development, his most much so as not to be sufficiently notodetestable and most awful form, then rious in its effects. In some it is specucommenced his dreadful but short-lived lative and practical infidelity unmasked; reign, as the last scourge of the guilty in others the unbelief of the heart is easily nations in the hands of the Almighty. discernible in its pernicious fruits in their

From that period the poison of infidelity lives and manners. It is to be found in circulated through whole kingdoms, with churchmen and dissenters; in men of the force and the rapidity of lightning. moral decency and of open profligacy. From that time, also, infidelity and po- It is embodied under three forms, principery have been joined hand in hand in dia- pally, or three negative positions, the bolical confederacy against all the exist- whole of which shake the foundations of ing establishments of the British empire. Christianity, and close up the heart The continental nations exhibit, to this against the admission of the gospel. day, one collected and putrid mass of the First, a denial of the attribute of divine abominations of popery, mingling with justice, and consequently of the atonethe blasphemies of atheism. Nor has our ment of the Son of God, and the Scripture own country by any means escaped the doctrine of future punishment. Secondly, pestilential contagion. Infidelity infects a denial of the superiority not only of prothe bar, the army, the navy, the senate, testantism over popery, but of Christhe cabinet, the church, universities and tianity itself over Mahommedanism, Hincolleges; the departments of literature, dooism, or any other religion that only philosophy, medicine, legislature, and secures the ends of civil government. even theology. The press groans under Thus, it is often said that all religions are it. “The lurking poison of unbelief (says equally good. And, finally, in a denial Paley, in his Moral Philosophy) has of the responsibility of man for what he been served up in every form that is believes, even to the God who made him,

« PreviousContinue »